Episode 34 – Sneaking About
Kiel Rroda is a perfectly straight male (at least that’s what he believed).
Even though he didn’t feel an attraction towards the opposite sex at all, he felt even less of an attraction towards the same sex. So naturally, his conclusion was that he wasn’t gay.
It might be that he didn’t believe in love. He wasn’t sure himself if he believed or not. While everyone preached about how much they were in love, all his eyes could see was a shallow physical attraction. People drowned themselves in lust and called it love.
It made his skin crawl.
Even those that did hold love in their hearts weren’t really in love with the person in front of them – they were in love with their own internal image of them.
Those kind of people were even more pitiful. They weren’t even aware that the object of their love was just a fantasy.
Kiel wouldn’t let himself become entangled in romantic matters. He wanted nothing to do with it. He had better things to do in life. He just couldn’t see a single benefit a significant other would bring him. He only saw drawbacks.
His heart didn’t have room in it for anyone.
Maybe his opinion on romance would change if he had an opportunity to feel love or lust. But when he looked at all the women that wanted him, his heart didn’t feel moved at all. All he felt was revulsion. No matter how beautiful they looked on the outside, it didn’t make him feel an ounce of affection towards them. He didn’t know them; he didn’t want to know them.
Most of them hid their own ugliness under a beautiful mask. No matter how beautiful someone was on the outside, that which was inside caused all potential attraction to wither before it could even sprout.
How could he possibly be attracted to something that looked pretty on the outside but was full of disgusting things inside? How could he possibly want to have an intimate relationship with them?
Not attractive at all. Neither mentally nor physically. He had never felt a primal instinct to mate. And he was glad for that. He was perfectly in control of himself. Just the way he liked it.
Yet, the worst thing about it all was that he was exactly like them. He too looked beautiful on the outside, while the insides…didn’t match.
Elaru Wayvin was like it too. She was beautiful on the outside, but he couldn’t tell what ugliness hid beneath her skin.
Yet, why is it that when he looked at her, he didn’t feel repulsed at all?
They fought all the time. He didn’t like her at all. She could easily get under his skin, make his blood boil. And yet, even after all of that, he didn’t hate her. Not really.
Being with her couldn’t be called pleasant, but if he was forced to endure it for the rest of eternity, he didn’t think it would be unbearable.
Perhaps, this was acceptance? Or maybe it was something else.
Whatever it was, it was illogical. It made absolutely no sense. Kiel couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.
So he just decided not to think about it at all.
He sighed in resignation. Look at the bright side. After a few days, I’ll be living in Muni dormitory, and things like this won’t have a chance to happen. Then I can go to sleep and wake up in tranquility.
After a few seconds of pondering how he could resolve the issue, he decided to use the air stream to gently lift her up. His eyes glittered as he cast Acceleration on the air around him. He could have done something similar using Morph, but Morph wasn’t really intended for creating uniform movement of particles, so naturally it would be much easier to do it with Acceleration.
He proceeded to control the movement of air particles, directing them to pass over them, in between the crevices, faster and faster.
Surprisingly, it was more difficult than he thought it would be. It was as if it became more difficult with every second. Still, he persevered and finally succeeded in pushing Elaru’s body a bit upwards. In that split second in which their bodies separated, he accelerated sideways from under her.
He didn’t even get a chance to breathe out in relief before Elaru smacked facedown onto the blanket. She had lost the support of his body, and his air control seemed to fail completely for no apparent reason.
As soon as her body touched the floor, she jumped up like a frightened lunar, with its hair raised, hissing and puffing: “The heck?!”
Startled awake, she looked around herself in a daze until her eyes found Kiel who was still lying on his back, a few meters away. “What happened?”
Kiel plastered a completely emotionless expression on his face and responded in the most honest tone he could muster. “You suddenly jumped up screaming bloody murder. Did you have a nightmare?”
She frowned and scratched her head. “I don’t remember having a nightmare…”
“It is possible you don’t remember anything because you woke up too abruptly?”
Elaru shrugged and started stretching her limbs. “Well…whatever.”
Kiel let out an inward sigh of relief and jumped up on his feet. Disaster averted. God bless my quick wits!
As he stood on his feet, something felt strange. His body…felt lighter? He flexed his muscles a bit. Was it just his imagination, or did he have more control over his body?
His eyes brightened. Was this because of that pill I consumed yesterday?
That would be the only explanation since he didn’t exercise his body yesterday nor did he perform mana tempering.
The previously sour mood got replaced by delight. He was in a perfect condition to take the exams. He just needed to tidy himself up to look like a proper noble.
He made his way to the stream and washed his face. Then he tidied his clothes. He even spent a few minutes checking himself out in the small mirror before being satisfied.
He was looking quite dashing, just like always.
Cold, yet sexy eyes. The soft rebellious hair framing his flawless pale face. The long black eyelashes and soft lips.
Wait…why does it sound like a description of a girl?!
He frowned and quickly returned the mirror into his backpack. His eyes turning towards Elaru who was patiently waiting for him. Besides running her hands through her hair, doing a quick cleansing and drinking some water, she didn’t tidy herself up at all.
Even so, she looked like her usual beautiful self. She was bursting with vigor, her aura so animated and alive Kiel felt like it was directly pouring energy into him.
A neat, refined look wouldn’t suit her.
When people described beautiful women, there were several types of beauty they would point out such as charming, soft, cold but regal, voluptuous and sexy, adorably cute, etc.
None of those descriptions were adequate to describe Elaru.
Her appearance was neither tomboyish nor was she a girly girl. She was neither warm and soft nor did she have a cold countenance of a noble. She was neither voluptuous nor cute.
She seemed to be somewhere in-between all of those. She was just…beautiful. Charismatically, gracefully beautiful.
“Are you all pampered up, princess? Ready to go?” Elaru grinned warmly, showing off her pearly white teeth.
Kiel frowned in annoyance. “Do all your nicknames have to be so insulting?”
She chuckled and seemed to realize that calling Kiel a princess was going a bit overboard. “Alright, alright. I’m sorry. You are actually quite fast in getting ready. But when you pulled out a mirror…” She suddenly started giggling melodiously.
Kiel’s frown deepened and felt the need to explain himself. “How am I supposed to know how I look like without a mirror? I could have an unruly strand of hair that makes me look ridiculous. Using a mirror doesn’t make me a girly guy. Everyone uses a mirror!”
She smiled and gave him a thumbs up. “You are right.”
Kiel’s mouth twitched. Can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not…
And so, the two set out towards the Ashar University of Magic which was so large it could still be seen in the distance.
Ashar University of Magic entrance exams, here we come!
It was a warm, sunny morning in Ashar. Even though it was very early, the whole city seemed to be up. The streets were bursting with people, chattering was a constant background noise.
When Kiel and Elaru arrived in front of the Ashar University of Magic, what greeted them was a large crowd of people filling up the entire huge courtyard. Thousands upon thousands of people were moving about the courtyard. The crowd was so saturated one would think a circus had come to town.
There were people wearing all kinds of different garments. Nobles and commoners. Young and old. Examinees and their family members. There were reporters and agents gathering information about the event. There were even people totally unrelated to the exam that just came in to join the fun.
Even Peacekeepers considered this a major event, as they could be seen everywhere, making sure everything was in order.
In the middle of the courtyard, held up by thick pillars stood a large board that wasn’t there the last time Kiel and Elaru were here.
As they inspected the contents of the board, they realized that it contained groups. Each one of the examinees had gotten a number when they signed up for the exams. Based on that number they were split into groups of 20. The board provided them with the time and place for their exam.
Kiel’s and Elaru’s entrance numbers were too far apart, so they didn’t end up in the same group. However, they did end up in the same building, and even the starting time of their exams was close.
After remembering the time and place, they navigated their way through the crowd towards the entrance to the university. They could have flown, but Kiel didn’t want them to attract attention to themselves. Surprisingly, Elaru didn’t voice a word of complaint. In fact, she wholeheartedly agreed while adding: “Don’t let your mana leave the vicinity of your mage armor.”
Kiel didn’t understand why Elaru, who liked doing things in an unorthodox way, would agree to it. Nor why she had asked him to control his own mana. Nonetheless, he did it.
It was only when the entrance of the University entered their view that he realized the reason behind her actions.
In front of the entrance stood several mages of thick build wearing a Rroda family uniform.
Kiel stopped in his tracks. Yesterday, it was hard to tell if they were waiting for him in front of Hot Pot, but today there was little doubt. They were indeed waiting for him.
Elaru latched onto his arm like a leech. Kiel’s eyebrow twitched, but he didn’t even get to ask her what she was doing before he felt a barrier envelop them, followed by Elaru’s Mind which wrapped around them like a cocoon. Her Mind cut off the path of other Minds, which made it impossible for others to come in contact with their mana and sense their presence. The reason why she had asked him to control the movement of his mana was so that it wouldn’t leave the cocoon and be detected.
Kiel looked left and right, but no one seemed to have noticed anything strange.
In fact, as Elaru accelerated and pulled them into the air, he noticed that not a single person looked towards them.
“Are we under…an invisibility barrier?” Kiel’s eyes widened.
Elaru nodded her head nonchalantly. “Yeah.”
Kiel sucked in a breath. Light bending functioned in a similar way to the Morph spell. However, it was many times more complicated to morph energy which increased the complexity of the spell, bringing it up to level 6.
An invisibility barrier was a sustained spell that utilized the light bending spell fragment in such a way to make light travel half a circle around the user, not touching him and exiting in the same direction it would have exited if the person wasn’t there at all.
The spell required an incredible degree of spell control which made it a level 9 spell.
A level 9!
How significant was that? Plainly put, S-ranked mages and above were as rare as phoenix feathers and qilin horns. When people talked about the pinnacle of magic, usually they referred to A-ranked mages, which were a level below S-ranked mages. And what was one of the requirements that mages needed to fulfill before they could become A-ranked mages? It was to be able to cast level 9 spells!