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"Raze! Raze!"

Lily's voice rang loudly through the Vehlendorf mansion. Raze was getting ready to face whatever his mistress throw to him when his bedroom door slammed loudly, revealing flustered Lily and slightly panicking Whim.

"What is it, milady?"

"This"

Whim hand him an envelope while Lily still trying to catch her breath. The silverish envelope is addressed to him and still sealed with a red ouroboros stamp.

"Why are you so flustered? You still haven't opened this yet, right?"

Raze said while examining the envelope in his hand.

"There's two of them addressed to both of us. I already read mine and I assume the content is the same since it's an invitation letter."

Lily explained while showing her own invitation along with the envelope which look exactly the same as Raze's except for the addressed name.

"Invitation?"

Raze opened his envelope and read the invitation inside. Basically it's the invitation to the Al-Revis academy for some sort of ceremony. Through the ending words, he completely understand why Lily and Whim are panicked.

"From THAT Vice Principal? And it's in 2 days? That person really doesn't understand the word of impossible does he?"

Lily and Whim looking at each other before facing Raze again.

"It's not only that."

Lily start with a serious tone.

"I feel a mana energy radiating from these invitation letter. A pretty strong one. And I can't determine what element it is."

Raze is surprised again by Whim's explanation and stare at his own envelope.

"Palt"

A mana appeared beside Raze. It's form is veiled with a golden light and there's a little humanoid form inside of the light. It's hard to determine whichever the form is male or female.

"Can you sense it?"

Raze showed his envelope to the mana.

"..."

"Palt said that it can't determine the element too. And it's weird being not being able to."

The mana never really say anything. At least no one ever hear it speak. But it seems both Raze and Eugene can understand it completely.

With a slight gesture which looks like a bow, the mana disappear.

"I know that teacher is impossible, but this…"

"Literally translate as 'Come on the designated date or else' huh…"

The three of them keep the grim silence for a moment before Lily break the ice.

"No use brooding over it. Whim, prepare my stuff and explain the situation to my father. Raze, call Et and tell her to prepare too if she got the invitation, then prepare your own stuff quickly. I'll get the transportation readied right away."

"Roger"


"Kuroeeee!"

"Chloe! We got to leave! Quickly!"

Both Ulrika and Uryu rushed into Chloe's workshop. The said girl lift her backpack and calmly face the panicked alchemist and her mana.

"You're so slow."

In contrast, Ulrika still has not prepared anything even though she's the one who urge them to leave as soon as possible.

"You're so fast! So you really got the invitation too. Listen, Chloe…"

"I know, the envelope is enchanted with mana energy right? Fanatos told me. Either way it suddenly appeared in front of me so I don't need Fanatos to tell me something is up with that invitation."

Chloe said while walking pass Ulrika through the door. Ulrika awed at her.

"Anyway, can you get out? I want to lock my workshop now. Unless you want to be locked in and can't attend the whatever interesting looking ceremony the Vice Principal planned for us…"

Ulrika snapped from her trance and get out of the workshop together with Uryu.

"Wait for me! I'll go prepare my stuff now!"

"No way, I don't want to be late. The divination showed me that misfortune will fall before the one who come late. I don't want to risk it."

"Wait, you're doing divination too now? Oh… uh… Give my 5 minutes! I'll get everything prepared by that time!"

Ulrika rushed to her own workshop and hastily prepare her stuff. Uryu helping her. Chloe keeps walking despite of her Ulrika's plea.

Slowly.

So she can catch up later.


"Al-Revis academy, huh… It's been a while. It looks almost nothing like what I remember. Maybe I should go explore a bit since I arrived quite early."

A silver haired man with black sweater and dark blue coat walk into the campus site as he mush to himself.

Chapter Text

"FIRST ARRIVAL!"

Et energetically rush into the vast ground which lead to the main campus site.

"We're still far from it."

Raze remind her. It will be a pain to deal with the monsters if she fall tired too early.

"Why am I here with that stupid sister of mine?"

Ena dejectedly say while maintaining a safe distance from Et.

"I pity you."

En got dragged here by Et. Originally he's about to go alone, but Et got worried and make him faint with her fist before dragging him into the carriage Lily prepared for them.

"FINALLY WE GOT THIS FAR!"

"We're still far from the campus though."

Both Raze and En look at source of the voice. As the source themselves look at them.

"Geh, jerktown and Ms. Fancypants. And… Ena!"

"Ah, sis!"

Ena runs to Ulrika and Chloe's side and quickly sighed in relief.

"Take him somewhere else. He's about to burst with rage anytime since quite a while ago."

"DAMN RIGHT!"

Ena cheered from behind Ulrika's group.

"Well, anyway I'm surprised that you guys got the invitation too."

Ulrika walk towards Raze despite of Ena's unwillingness to go anywhere near his sister.

"That's my line."

Suddenly a light appeared from behind Raze and quickly move over to Uryu.

"What is it?"

Raze ask his mana. The said mana just stay silent and move back to Raze's side quitely.

"Yeah, strange isn't it? I heard it's a mana of soul or something like that."

"Hey! Who are you calling strange! Uryu is cute and I won't take anything else! Beside, what's with that mana?"

Ulrika angrily points at the mana which still hover beside Raze. The mana backed a bit either by surprise or fright from Ulrika's sudden outburst.

"This? This is Palt, my mana. Palt, these are Ulrika and her mana, Uryu. In the back is Chloe, and you already met Ena before."

The mana bow to them as it's being introduced. Ulrika, got washed by the flow, bow back at it.

"Um, yeah. Nice too meet you…. NOT THAT! Why are you! Of All people! Make a pact with mana!?"

"Well, Palt doesn't want to renew its pact with my grandfather and want to come with me instead and I don't see any downright on it. I already comfortable with it and it promised not to leave me alone anymore. So I accepted."

"Huhuuuum~ So your hatred towards mana is because something as silly as getting dumped by a mana. How pitiful of you…"

Ulrika try to tease Roze and prepared her counter words for whatever smart insult Roze going to throw at her. She didn't prepared to see Raze bow at her.

"Embarrassingly, yes. And I want to apologize especially to Uryu for all trouble I cause."

"U? Uryu don't mind!"

Uryu laugh innocently and pat Raze's head once. Raze lift his head and pat Uryu's head in return, smiling kindly.

"Raze!"

Lily call him from distance, finally finished her business with the carriage driver. Whim somehow manage to drag Et back and the three of them standing in the sole pathway leading to Al-Revis.

"Coming! Well, then."

Roze wave a bit and run towards his master. Palt bow its body and linger its gaze towards Uryu a bit longer before vanishing.

"Uh… what did just happen? Did I drink some strange medicine and fell asleep or he drink strange medicine and act creepily? He even introduce us properly."

"Rose being nice."

Ulrika shocked by Raze's out of character-ish while Uryu is just being pleased from getting a pet by Raze. It's fortunate that Raze didn't hear Uryu misspell his name into something… feminine.

"I heard he was actually grow up with that mana since he was little until that Light Mana King order every mana to leave human world. Being a light mana, that mana can't defy that bastard King's order and relinquish its pact with his grandpa or something. It was said that he was hit the hardest by that mana's disappearance."

Ena walk to Ulrika's side along with Chloe after the bickering stopped. He start to explain what he know of Raze's past, courtesy of Et which heard it from Lily.

"So he actually likes mana. How boring."

"Um… actually I still don't get what is interesting thing for you…"

Ulrika said to Chloe who walk past her, following the path that Raze's group went to.

"Hey, why are you following them?"

"This is the fastest way to reach the academy and I don't want to be late. We only get another day left to arrive."

Said Chloe while she keep walking. Not even turning back to face Ulrika while she speak.

"Well… that's true…"

"So I'm still stuck with that stupid sister? Not fun."

"Agreed."

Ulrika and Ena follow after Chloe and soon they catch up to Raze's group. Lily realized it and turn back to address them.

"Hey, why are you following us?"

"Well, this is the fastest way to reach the academy and I don't want to be late."

Ulrika countered with a lot of confidence.

"Did she just copying my answer?"

"She totally did."

Ulrika decide to ignore those two who whispers behind her back.

"Well, that's true… but…"

"And here I am clearly thought that Ena already misses his onee-chan."

"Who the hell will miss you!?"

Whim exchanging glance with Raze and step in to intercept.

"Milady, I think it's wiser to get along for now."

"I agree with her. We need to keep on walking steadily even in night if we want to reach the academy within a day and it's more safe to walk with more people. And besides…"

Raze pull out his knife and activate the ring of light. Palt appeared just beside him, ready for combat. The other readied their weapon too in reflex and start to look around. Not too far from them are some strange creatures. Six of them. Their body is mostly a red eye in the front with some thorne in their side and back. They just floating in their place, not moving.

"What are those?"

They relaxed a bit after knowing that the creature has no intention to attack them.

"They has been following us for a while."

Raze deactivated his ring of light, but still keep his knife in hand.

"Hmm I think it's about from that [Invited Participant Only] sign."

Everyone look at Whim as she trying to correctly remember the exact place those creatures start to follow them.

"Wait, there's a sign like that?"

Ulrika put her mana orb away and look at the rest of them. Looks like Whim is the only one who see the sign.

"Yes, not too far from here. The sign radiates a similar mana energy as the one on these invitation letter, so I realized it. Now I think about it again, these creatures also radiates a similar mana energy."

"Heee… so they're harmless…"

Ulrika walks to one of the creature and extend her hand to reach it. Before her hand manage to make a contact, all of the creatures suddenly fly away leaving them.

"... What was that?"

Ulrika with her hand still extended only could gaze at the direction they went to.

"You scared them." Lily sighs.

"You got rejected." Ena said bluntly.

"They will curse you." Chloe decide to add in.

"I'm not scary and who got rejected anyway!? And Chloe, stop saying creepy things."

Ulrika yell at Lily, Ena, and Chloe. Uryu float to Ulrika and pats her head.

"Uryurika is kind. Uryurika is not scary."

"URYUUUUUUU!"

"Why did they suddenly leave us?"

Raze decide to ignore Ulrika and Uryu's drama and start to address the situation. Ena shift his glance at the direction they went.

"Either something more important happened or they want to show us something."

"Like a shortcut!"

Eto chimed in. Ena is a bit displeased because his sister actually say something he want to agree with.

"Milady, should we follow them?"

"Hmmm we better follow them. There's no guarantee that we can reach the academy within a day at this rate and following them for whatever they chasing about is a better bet than walking just like this. And they should have followed us, the invited participant, for a reason. There's a possibility that we will need them to enter the academy in."

"That's how it is, we will follow them. What will the rest of you do?"

Raze addressed Ena and Chloe, still ignoring Ulrika who still resides in her own world with Uryu.

"I don't want to be with that stupid sister of mine, but I agree that following them is a better bet."

"Same here."

"It's settled then."

After Raze conclude their small discussion all of them start to walk to the direction those creatures went to, except for Ulrika and Uryu… and Ena who still have enough heart and common sense to call back to Ulrika.

"Sis! We're going to chase after those creatures! Are you coming or what!?"

Ulrika dragged out from her own world and start to run after them.

"I'm coming! I'm coming! Wait for meee!"

It took some time for them to get the trace of those creatures. The trace lead up to an open space in the middle of forest. When they got out to the open space, one of the creature come flying to their direction… splitted in two. A figure can be seen fighting countless of those creatures and seems to be winning.

"You…!"

Raze started as the figure finished the last creature he face. The figure turned around to reveal someone who Raze know and yet unwilling to meet ever again. The person who give the ring of light to him.

"Reicher!"

Chapter Text

"Reicher!"

Reicher lowered his sword and face Raze with an eerie familiarity.

"Ah, Raze. It's been a while."

The rest of his group come out from the forest and startled by the fact that Reicher is also there.

"You…!"

Ulrika put Uryu behind her, and Uryu too, hide behind Ulrika. Before Reicher could say anything, a couple arrow shot from the other side of clearing and pierce another red-eye creature that tried to attack Reicher. Sasha come down from a tree and head towards them.

"It's you again! You still going after Uryu!? I won't let you have him!"

Ulrika point at Sasha, still hiding Uryu behind her back. Sasha put her bow back and close her eyes to relax a bit more.

"No way, we got a bigger prey this time. Just go away and don't hinder us."

"Bigger prey?"

Sasha doesn't seems to lie, but Ulrika still won't lower her guard. And so is the others. Suddenly, a loud rustling sound resonated from their surrounding and another horde of the eye-creature comes flying to their direction.

"Reicher, there's no end of them!"

Sasha pull her bow and arrow again. Reicher ignored her and keep slashing at the creatures. Raze and the others too, start slashing at the creatures that rushed at them.

"Wait, they're tougher than I thought."

Ulrika smash another creature which later finished by Chloe and Whim.

"They really are. Not to mention, this number…"

Raze slash at another one who escape from Et's chain of attack. They keep the battle for a while until Whim step too far from Lily and one of the creature head towards her way. Raze repelled one of the creature that he fight and rush towards Lily.

"MILADY!"

Lily turn her back to see the creature only a few meter from her, flying with a full Raze and Whim are farther than the creature is. Left with nothing to protect her, she raise both of her hand in last attempt to protect herself.

But the creature just fly past her and rushed towards Reicher.

"It's… ignored me…?"

Lily lowered her hand in relieve and confusion as she see the creature got slashed by Reicher. Whim and Raze got to her side immediately and check if she's okay.

"I'm okay… but those creatures…"

"They completely ignored us."

None of the creatures attacked them as Raze and Whim checking at Lily for any injury. They just fly past them.

"HEY! JERKTOWN! What are you doing at time like this!?"

Ulrika see Raze, Lily, and Whim standing still in the middle of battlefield.

"Stop fighting! They're not attacking us!"

Raze shout at the rest of party. They seems doubtful, but eventually stop attacking the creatures and regrouped.

"They really not attacking us…"

Ena put his mechanical arm away as he tried to catch his breath.

"But why…?"

"That's because you have the invitation."

A soft, yet strong, woman voice echoed clearly even in the middle of battlefield. All the creatures fly away from Reicher and Sasha, and form a some kind of barricade instead. From the opening of the barricade, a woman stepped in. She has a long blue hair and eyes with the same shade, a shade lighter than Raze's. She wear an eastern styled traditional clothing, and on her left is a long katana with dark blue sheath. She gracefully step into the clearing and stop not to far from them.

"This area is currently only for the invited one. Please leave immediately."

A few creatures flag her as she stands in the only opening of the barricade. Reicher drop his fighting stance and set his gaze straight to the woman.

"So you finally appeared, head guard. But to think a person like you is the one who stands guard in this place. Maybe I should consider myself as lucky."

The woman give Reicher an amused smile while gesturing to the creatures to close up the barricade.

"Oh, so you know who am I."

"Of course. I've been setting my eyes on you for a while, Anna Laemmle."

Sasha looking a lot shocked by Reicher's declaration. But soon relieved as he point his sword to the woman named Anna.

"Have a duel with me."

Anna closed her eyes as if thinking. Et lean her face closer to Raze (on Lily's distaste) and whisper to him. Loud enough that their whole group actually listened.

"Hey, Raze. You know her? Your face kinda said that you do."

"Yeah, I heard about Laemmle clan before. They're a clan famous for their line exceptional swordsmans. I heard that their only heir is a woman who arguably is the best swordsman around. Some doubt the word of best, but there's no mistake that she's within the top group of powerful warriors."

"Eh?"

Everyone except Raze surprised at the revelation. Ulrika step closer to Raze.

"Why is such famous swordsman is here? Don't tell me this time they're seriously trying to replace Al-Revis's alchemy curriculum with combat class?"

"I don't know. I'm confused myself. But I don't believe that's the case since that Vice Principal is still there after all. Remember, that guy teach alchemy in combat class on his own accord completely ignoring Chairman's order."

"You got a point…"

Ulrika turn around to the woman once again. She can feel sweat rolling on her face.

"We should stay calm and assess the situation. There's no use to muss among ourselves now."

Lily's voice is calm. But they can see that she's as nervous as the rest of them is. That can't be helped since they're trapped inside the barricade with a powerful warrior who is still not clear whichever she's an ally or an enemy.

Anna opened her eyes slowly and put her hands on her katana.

"As a fellow swordsman, I'd like too. But I'm sorry I have to decline as I'm in my guard duty now. The two of you will leave whichever you like it or not."

Reicher does not looking disappointed nor upset at her rejection even for a bit. Instead he looked really happy as if he just hit a jackpot.

"That's fine. I already got a confirmation anyway."

"What confirmation?"

"A warrior at your capability is here means that it's really here, right? That mana."

Anna's expression is still the same, but her aura shift slightly. To an even fearful aura. As if she's mad.

"I don't know what are you talking about."

"Don't act dumb. It's here, right? The most powerful mana, Mana of Wish."

Everyone else, including Sasha, is taken by a surprise again. Sasha was told that the prey is a very powerful mana. Even worth more to hunt than Uryu, but never been told what kind of mana it is.

Anna still stand at her ready-to-attack stance. Not flinched even a bit.

"It's only a fairy-tale. There's no such mana in reality. What do you want to do with that kind of mana anyway?"

"That's none of your business."

"Looks like there's no more thing to discuss here."

Silence ensured and Reicher take the initiative to attack first. He swing his swords towards Anna. Anna pull her sword and parry Reicher's attack with one hand and counter with the seath in her other hand. Reicher saw this and pull back to evade the hit and charge again.

"You do realize that the moment you decline the duel, this fight has become 2 on 1, right?"

"That has nothing to do with me."

Anna repel Reicher's sword away and put a stance for her next attack. Reicher leaped away to evade her next attack.

"Sasha! Support!"

"Leave it to me!"

Sasha immediately shot several arrows towards Anna. Anna realized the arrows and slash at them without missing even one. While she's distracted with the arrows, Reicher slash at her from her back. Anna barely dodged that attack.

"You're not as strong as the rumour make you, huh?"

Reicher smirked as he know that they manage to put her in the corner that fast. Anna just return the moke with a smile.

"To be honest, I underestimated you and your partner. Still, I thought you are the prideful type who don't like his fight got interrupted."

Anna moked Reicher in return, referring to Sasha's support.

"As now, eradicating Mana of Wish is more important than a fight with you."

"Wiseful. But if it's indeed the strongest mana, then what can you do against it if you can't even beat this random swordsman who is not even the strongest?"

Reicher charge to Anna again with full force.

"Shut up."

Anna simply sidestepped, slashing Sasha's arrow that come to her, and leap away.

"But it is true that the two of you are remarkably strong. I'll fight properly this time."

Anna throw the sheath away and grip her katana with both hand.

"She's not fighting properly up until now?"

Et whispered to Ulrika in the back. She's just too scared to disturb Raze as he watch the fight intently. It's unfortunate that Ulrika still has not moved from her spot near Raze and thus become the second closest one from Et.

"How should I know?"

Ulrika hushed Et. She's not a battle maniac, but it's just very hard to take her eye off the fight. They watching intently as Anna exchanged blow with Reicher while at the same time dodging and guarding against Sasha's attack. It last for a while until Anna reached too far in and got her Katana flung away by Reicher. Reicher already feel triumph as he finally get an upper hand against Anna, but that feeling only last for less than a second as he realize a pink small ball floating in front of his face and Anna already leaped back.

The ball explode and produce an unbelievable smoke coming from such a small object. Reicher got completely covered by the smoke and Sasha trying to shot an arrow at the rough direction Anna leaped to. She's about to release her arrow when a small glint coming from inside the smoke. She quickly stepped aside to dodge whatever coming to her, but the object still manage to graze her forearm.

The smoke dispitate and Anna coming out from the smoke to launch a surprise attack against Reicher, which is completely predictable by him. He was about to slash at her, but his hand just won't move the way he want it to. In the end, all he can do is just to dodge enough for her attack only manage to lay a scratch on him.

Reicher attempt to charge at her again, but all of his energy just seems to disappear from his body and he slump on the ground. He turn his head to see that Sasha is in the same state.

"... what…?"

Anna looming over him. Her left hand hold some of those small pink ball while her right hand hold several throwing knives. Some kind of liquid dripping from the knife's edge.

"Philomele's Secret Recipes #253 and #198, Miniatur Paralyze Bomb and Cheer-Cheer Goodbye Medicine. Still work as fine as always."

Anna fold her hand as if she's hugging those dangerous weapon like it's a wonderful present from a precious person. Sasha manage to move a bit and choke some word.

"Are you not… a swordsman…?"

Anna looking at her in surprise for a second and smiled brightly instead of being insulted. She waves her hand to make her wide sleeves fly around and gave them a glimpse of what she hid inside. It's not very clear, but there's no mistaking that they see several round object and some small vial inside her sleeve.

"As long as I stand in this ground, I'm simply another alchemist who happen to be able to swing a sword quite too well. Please don't misunderstand me."

Anna said proudly. No shame even for a bit. She walk away and retrieve both her katana and the sheath. She then extend her right hand and one of the creature descend slowly into her palm.

"Now, let me escort the two of you outside. Don't worry, I'll send you to nearby village. The medicine's effect should wear off in a month or so."

"A MONTH!?"

Everyone in Raze and Ulrika's group just yelled reflectively. They soon shut their mouth in fear of enraging Anna. The said woman just smile in return to reassure them.

The creature in her hand dissolved into two smaller black orb which she send flying towards Reicher and Sasha. The orb expand to engulf both of them and then shrink until they disappear. Along with Reicher and Sasha.

Anna gesturing something to the creatures and soon they scattered to every direction. Leaving one for each of them, including Anna. Anna walk towards them and stop just a few step in front of them and bow.

"I'm really sorry for involving all of you in this mess."

She raise her head. She then fold her hand and her apologetic eyes suddenly change into that of a mom who is about to scold her child.

"But that aside, I think it would be wiser if you just go to the academy first before went to explore. I know it's nostalgic, but if you don't alert anyone of your arrival, no one will know and search for you even if you're fainted or seriously injured somewhere."

They keep silent, too afraid to answer. In front of them is Anna who still waiting for their answer with arms folded in front of her chest.

"Uh… um…"

It's Ulrika who hesitantly raise her hand. Anna turn her head to her and she's flinched a bit. Ulrika swallowing her fear and weakly answer.

"We… we're actually on our way to the academy now…"

"Why are you taking a long way instead of going directly to the academy."

Ulrika shrink at her gaze. After her display of power, there's no way that she's going to face her head by head. On a good time, Et answered in panic.

"I swear we are on the main road just a few hours ago! We're trying to reach the academy as soon as possible, but these guys... suddenly…"

Et run out of her usual bravery before she can finished her answer. Anna sigh and unfolded her hand. Her eyes soften to a more worried look.

"I mean, why are you not going instantly to the academy using these guys and instead walking your way through the road. I can't do anything if something happen to any of you outside my knowledge."

Anna gestured towards the creature behind her with her left hand and put her right on her hips. Everyone seems to be more relaxed since her aura is not as intimidating as before. Ena stare at the creature that following him and ask that one word on everyone's mind.

"How?"

Anna put both of her hand down and sigh. She then raise one of her hand slightly as she explain.

"Everything is written in your invitation. Once you enter the border with your invitation, these guys will authenticate the invitation and will follow you as soon as they registered you as a guest. It do make me wonder why none of you read it properly."

They take out each of their invitation and start to re-read it some more times.

"There's no such explanation written."

Raze conclude first.

"Same here."

Ulrika next. And the rest just confirm that no explanation is written in their invitation which makes Anna more confused.

"There's no way… Please show me your invitation."

Anna hold her hand out and Ena, who happen to be the closest from her, hand his invitation. Anna quickly unfold the invitation and read the context.


Dear Alumnus of Al-Revis,

I invite you to attend the ceremony that will be held in the campus ground of Al-Revis Academy. Be grateful and come within 2 days or else.

Flay Gunnar

Vice Principal of Al-Revis

PS: Bring along your mana if you already make a contract with one.


Anna fold the invitation and hand it back to Ena. She sighed and bow once more.

"I'm really sorry again. It seems the mistake is in our side. Please let me show you how to instantly wrap to the campus ground."

She turn around and gesturing the creature to come closer.

"Just touch the familiar that following you and think that you want to be wrapped to the campus. Then you'll be in front of the gate in no time."

She turn around, hand is still in the creature she called familiar, smile in her face. The familiars already positioned in front of them as if eager to perform their skill. They still hesitate to touch the creature, but then there's Chloe.

"I'm tired of standing, so I'll go first."

She put her hand on the familiar, which surprisingly close it's eye like a cat getting a pet, and disappear in the same fashion as the way Reicher and Sasha did.

"I'll be heading back first, then. Don't worry and take your time. Just don't take too long, okay."

With that, Anna disappeared along with the familiar too. As on cue the remaining party put their hand on each of their familiar and ask for them to be transported to the campus ground.

And everything went blank.

No light, no sound.

No heat of the sun, no coldness of the moon.

No gentle breeze of the wind, no ground for them to hold on.

Simply, nothing.

Just a void that could make anyone went mad if they left alone too long inside.

Fortunate for them, the void only last for a few seconds.

The void opened up to reveal the nature that they come to know very much.

The light, the noise, the heat, the sturdy ground.

Raze opened his eyes and look straight into the blinking familiar that only a few cm away from his face.

"WHOAAA!"

Raze reflectively scrambled back from the creature. A laughing voice echoed somewhere from his left.

"Ahahaha you closed your eyes for far too long that it become worried."

Ulrika weep the tears in the corner of her eyes. Raze looking to his surrounding, and sure they're in the front of Al-Revis gate. The familiar fly slowly to him and start to ascend and descend as if bowing its head in apology.

"It's okay, it's okay."

Raze put his hand on his familiar's upper side as it close it's eye in glee.

"That was a quite pleasant ride. I do love to have one of these as my personal familiar."

"I'm sorry. but that seems to be a bit impossible."

"Too bad."

Chloe and Anna walk side by side from inside the gate.

"Looks like everyone already arrived."

Anna turn around and walk back to the academy for a few steps before turning around once again to address them with a brilliant smile. The hem of her traditional clothing waves along the wind.

"Welcome to Al-Revis Academy!"

Chapter Text

“We still haven’t introduce ourselves, right? Like you what you already hear, I’m Anna Laemmle. I’m usually known as a swordsman even though I’m also an alchemist like you all. And you are...”

Anna trailed and waiting for any of them to start their introduction.

“I’m Ulrika Mulberry. I’m opened my own workshop at my hometown. And the dark one is my childhood friend, Chloe Hartzog.”

Chloe seems like want to add something, but a glare from Ulrika and she choose to keep quiet… for now.

“Ennarcia Dysler. I’m doing order made weapon and mechanical stuff.”

“I’m Ena’s big sister, Etward Dysler! As what I’m doing… I guess I like to bug Raze and Lily!”

Ena is pissed that Et purposely introduce herself as his sister and actually not doing anything worthy. Raze just facepalmed and Lily sighed.

“I’m Lilianne Valendorf, a heir of Valendorf family. I’m still learning to take over family business and also doing alchemic research whenever I’m free.”

“Milady, are you sure it’s only that? What about the me…”

Whim try to comment on Lily’s introduction but Lily just cut her short with a yell.

“AND these two are my personal attendants. Water mana Whim and Razeluxe Meitzen.”

“I’m lady Lily’s mana, Whim. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“My name is a bit tongue twister, so please just call me Raze. I’m also doing mercenary work beside being milady’s attendant whenever I’m free.”

Anna looking at all of them one by one and smile again.

“Nice to meet all of you.” and she realized that all of them looking at her in a strange way.

“Um… is there any rice grain in my face?”

“Umm…. no. It’s just… right?”

Ulrika looking at Et who seems like the one who will just simply blurt out the words she failed to say.

“Yeah, it’s surprising that a famous swordsman like you is actually an alchemist.”

And Et do say it without any second thought just like what Ulrika expect. Anna looking surprised for a moment and start giggling.

“I do like to say the same to most of you. From what you say, it seems Ulrika-san is the only one who doing alchemy as her main job. And thrust me, it’s actually not strange to see someone who do some random job to actually has a alchemist certification.”

They looked at each other and start laughing. True to her words, out of all of them, Ulrika is the only professional alchemist. Even though there’s still Chloe and Lily who is still questionable whichever it’s right to call them a professional alchemist or not.

“It’s a pleasure to talk with all of you, but I’m afraid that I have an urgent matter to attend. You can unpack and relax in dorm since you all seems to be tired from the long and hasty trip. Now, if you'll excuse me.”

Anna bow her body once more and run towards the school building in hurry.

“We should get to dorm and unpack while we still can move.”

Lily gestured to Raze and Whim to follow her, which they did. Ulrika also trailing along.

“Ms. Fancy… no, Lily’s right. I do hate to rummage through things when I’m dead tired.”

And time stopped. All of them, Et included, staring at Ulrika with big eyes.

“What?”

“Well, you just called me by my name…”

Lily point out. Ulrika pouted and complain back.

“I just try to be polite here. What’s so wrong calling someone by their name?”

“We should really get to dorm quickly. I’m feeling like about to faint now.”

Raze massaged his temple and his face is getting paler.

“Count me in.”

Chloe show no change in her expression, but it’s clear that she also surprised by Ulrika’s change.

“Don’t act so childish! We’re a full-fledged alchemist now, so please keep down these kind of childish attitude! And I tell you, it’s NOT because I’m so ashamed with myself for keep being a meanie even though jerk… Raze was sincerely apologizing to me and Uryu.”

And a chorus of relieved sigh filled the silence.

“So that’s why…”

Ena sighed in relieve.

“I said that’s NOT the reason.”

“I’m with big sis. It’s a good attitude to have, no matter what the reason is.”

Pepperon proudly supporting Ulrika.

“Yeah, that’s right. Tell them more Peppe… ron…”

Ulrika slowly turn her head back as soon as she realized that a big shadow loomed over her.

“PEPPERON!?!? SINCE WHEN!?”

“Just now. And I heard about big sis finally grow up and being a proper adult.”

Pepperon said softly mixed with some glee.

“It’s been awhile, young ladies.”

Goto appeared from behind Pepperon’s big body… still in his “pegasus” doll body.

“Even Goto!! You got invited too? Even if none of you are students?”

Ulrika ask the two of them. Chloe and Ena joined her by her side.

“Of course it’s because of my dandiness.”

“Of course it’s because of my cuteness.”

Even though Ulrika start to be more sensible, the two of them still talking the same nonsense. Ulrika facepalmed at this. Ena and Chloe only could pity her.

At the other group, Yun also joined them. Looking even more tired than always.

“Yun, you came too.”

Raze try to strike a conversation to him.

“Yes, and it’s not only me…”

Yun looking to his back to point at a girl with big ribbon who already a few meters from them.

“Corona! I told you to wait over there!”

Yun yelled in panic, sounds even more tired than before. His yell attracted even Ulrika’s team attention… who manage to see Corona and hit their trauma switch.

“That girl…”

Ulrika paled.

“The one from that time...”

Pepperon stepped back.

“I don’t think I can handle that little lady…”

Goto stopped moving so Corona won’t take any interest in (insulting) him.

“You took too long, so I went to search for you. Oh, Raze is also here.”

Corona raise her head to look up to Yun. It should be a cute scenery if not for Yun’s tired face and dreadful face some people showing by her mere presence.

“Hi, Corona.”

Raze wave his hand to Corona slowly.

“Hi too. You come to work with us again?”

Corona replied with a professional tone. So unlike a kid her age.

“No, I’m here as lady Lily’s attendant.”

Raze mentioned to Lily, who try to hold her ground in front of this girl. Well, she was there when Puni-yo was eliminated by this girl. Corona stare at her looking up and down. Lily stare her back with every intention to declare that she’s a more superior being than her. That went for quite a while until Yun broke them.

“Corona, just wait in dorm for now. I’ll catch up to you later. Please?”

Corona stare at him for a few seconds and sigh.

“Okay, don’t take too long.”

And then Corona walk to the dorm. She stare at Lily again one last time, and Lily stare her back again with a lot of intensity. But then she just shrug Lily off and walk towards the dorm. No insulting words come out from her, but her action is already insulting enough for Lily.

“Tha-tha-tha-tha-that girl…..!!!”

Lily is already fuming from Corona’s silent insult.

“Looks like another victim has fallen.”

Ulrika come to Lily’s side and gaze towards the dorm where Corona went to.

“Miss Lily!! I’m sorry for her misbehave!! I promise I’ll do whatever I can to fix it!”

Yun apologize to Lily in panic. Lily close her eyes and calm herself down.

“Don’t worry. I’m okay. It’s just like bump… Ulrika-san said. We’re already a full-fledged alchemist and thus need to act more adult-like. I’m not going to be mad at some little kid.”

Lily said it more like she’s chanting a mantra to herself. It’s still clear that she’s having a hard time controlling her temper. Ulrika, Pepperon, and Goto went to her side to help Whim to comfort Lily, as a fellow victim of Corona.

“What actually happened. You look extra tired.”

Raze take the chance to talk with Yun properly.

“A few weeks ago, I tried to ask her to behave since I’m making money so she can live. But she replied that she never ask so and told me that she’s thankful for what I did up until that time so she will make money herself. I thought she was joking. I mean, that spoiled kid making money is just unthinkable. But she really did it. Not as much as I make, but she claim that it’s enough for her to live on.”

“Isn’t it a good thing?”

“It should be. But I got worried so I start to drop my job and follow her around. And just what I worried about, she still has not fixed her attitude at all. They just bear with her since she’s doing a good job, but it’s just the matter of time until they got pissed. So eventually I dropped all my job to follow her around. And since I followed her around, she suggest me to make a contract with her. I don’t know how, but she manage to convince me and she’s officially my master now. That kind of tiring day keep repeating, especially that time…”

Yun sounds so weak unlike the Yun they spend days with. Raze for once, already has an image from doing work for him and Corona once. He pat Yun’s shoulder and cut his rambling.

“No. Don’t speak more. You did well.”

“Is there any way to fix this?”

Actually both of them know that the problem will be fixed as soon as Yun leaves Corona. And both of them also know that Yun will never do that.

“I’ll try to ask some teacher that looks reliable if I found one.”

“Thanks.”

Aside from angsty Raze-Yun and Corona’s Victim Squad, another group stand in. Just feeling glad that they got left out from the mess.

“It feels like a storm just pass by.”

Et commented. For once, insult will never take any effect on her. That’s what in Ena’s mind.

“It is.”

Chloe reply calmly. She’s just glad that the girl leave her alone as she don’t know what she would do to the poor girl if the said girl decide to make her a victim too.

“Let’s just go to the dorm already. Sun already set and I’m so tired now.”

Lily suggest weakly.

“Isn’t that little lady heading towards the dorm too?”
Goto suggested. That one innocent question effectively ruin the whole mood.

“Now that I think about it…”

Ulrika said dejectedly. Like Lily, she’s also mentally tired from their encounter with Corona and just want to hit the sack as soon as possible.

“That’s too bad, big sis!”

Pepperon laughed too happily.

“Now that you mention it, where will you stay since you’re not a student.”

Ena ask Pepperon who still having a good mood.

“The boy’s dorm of course. The invitation said that we can stay there for this event.”

“Same here.”

Pepperon wave his invitation and laugh still quite too happily.

“Good for you.”

Ulrika weakly said. Looks like both her and Lily already resigning to their fate.

“I’m staying in boy’s dorm too. Actually I’m the only one who got invited and Corona just insisted to tag along, so she’s staying with me. It’s really hard to explain it to the guard.”

Pepperon frozen in place. Ulrika suddenly become bright.

“Good for you!”

Ulrika repeated again. This time with a lot of bright energy.

Eventually they moved to the dorm and parted ways since the dorm is separated for girl’s and boy’s. Surprisingly, nothing happened in boy’s dorm even with Corona there. As in girl’s dorm… they greeted with some puni in their face. Not literally.

“PUNIIIII!!! PUNI PUNI PUNINI PUNII!!!”

“My sister said [What take you so long!? I’m so lonely here!!!]”

Puni-yo and her brothers already waiting in girl’s dorm lobby.

“Puni-yo-san!!!”

Lily proceed to hug Puni-yo. And there’s Ulrika with her Congenital Puni Aphasic Disorder.

“What did they said?”

Chloe sighed as with Ulrika and Puni-yo around the amount of translation needed become pretty tiring.

“They said that Puni-yo is lonely because we’re so late.”

Et translated since Chloe doesn’t seems to be willing to open her mouth.

“Oh, I see. I’ll go to my room first then.”

Ulrika waved to them and climb up the stairs. Followed by Chloe and Et.

“Lily~ I’ll be going first!”

“Puniiiiiiii”

Puni-yo let out a soft yawn and fell asleep on top of Puni Jiro.

“We will excuse ourselves too since our sister finally fell asleep after seeing your face. She forced herself to stay up to wait to meet you all so she must be really tired.”

The youngest, Puni Saburo explained to them. Lily released Puni-yo and let her brothers take her to her room.

“Milady, we should go rest too.”

Whim suggested. And so Lily climb the stair to get some rest too. It was a tiresome day after all.

Chapter Text

“Fuaaaaahhh…”

“Uuu…”

Ulrika walks as she stretch her hand upward and yawn. Uryu adorably mimicking her movement from the stretch to the wide yawn beside her.

“You’re early.”

Ulrika just realized that she already reached girl’s dorm front lobby while she yawn. On the sofa, Lily already drinking her morning tea, Whim with her. To be honest, Ulrika is a bit surprised that Lily is the one who strike a conversation to her… properly. No insult, no wild imagination. She must admit that Lily do looks like a proper noble woman if she keep acting like this.

“Yeah… Something keeping me from actually sleeping. I don’t know what though.”

Ulrika lazily dropped to sofa across Lily. Actually expecting Lily to scold her about country bumpkins and manners. But Lily just sigh.

“Actually, me too. It feels like I’m going to die if I completely fell asleep.”

Lily let out a slight yawn, elegantly covered with one of her hand. Whim place another set of cup and pour a tea for Ulrika and Uryu.

“Ulrika-san, please drink this. It will help to keep you awake.”

Ulrika take the cup and sipped at the tea.

“It’s so good. Thank you, uhh… Whim... san?”

“Your welcome. And please just call me Whim.”

Ulrika and Lily (and Uryu) sipped their tea in comfortable silence. Even though Ulrika keep stealing glance at Lily.

“What is it, Ulrika-san?”

Lily finally feeling uncomfortable or curious enough of Ulrika’s glance.

“Um, no. Please don’t be mad, I think you’re going to yell at me or making fun of me.”

“Actually, I do have the urge.”

Lily make a pause. Ulrika brace herself just in case.

“But you see, soon after we graduate I told a lot of thing to my father about my days here. I didn’t tell him a thing with Reicher and Mana kings of course, but I do tell him about you.”

Ulrika paled.

“He laugh it off. He said it’s just so like me. He didn’t scold me, but he did said that I should not act too high just because of my lineage. This world is not made only with nobles.To be honest, I was a bit angry at him for making me sounds like a fool. But your words yesterday, even if everyone knows it’s just a mere excuse...”

One vein popped.

“... actually has a point. We’re already a full-fledged alchemist now. We can’t keep quarrelling for no reason like a little kid.”

Lily sipped her tea calmly. Ulrika did think she’s really cool… for a second.

“But the story will be different if you try to have a go with MY Raze.”

Ulrika really regretted that she think Lily is cool even for a second. Blazing (imaginary) fire of rage can be seen behind her.

“Me? With that je… with him!? No way!”

Ulrika slammed the table with both of her hand. Hard enough to send her cup fly for a few millimeter and startle Uryu who still peacefully sipping his tea. No damage is done, much to Whim’s relieve.

“Then, you should explain this to me.”

Lily pull out a piece of paper and show it to Ulrika.

“This is our graduation photo. What of it?”

“You stand too close to Raze. You even lean to his side.”

Lily’s voice raised by a pitch in panic.
“Well, that’s… Chloe! She has something in her hand! I won’t risk it on my graduation day!”

“Don’t make an excuse! What can she actually do in that position anyway!?”

They progressed into more yelling.

“SHE SWITCHED MY BODY WITH URYU ONCE!!!”

“THAT’S… what? She can even do that? With human and mana?”

Lily softened a bit.

“Well, yes.. she can.”

Ulrika calmed down in confusion of Lily’s sudden change.

“I do know that she’s good at charm or something like that, but to that extend... I wonder if she has something else…”

Lily mumbling by herself. Ulrika frozen at her place. Uryu still sipping his tea while Whim keep pouring more for him.

“Oooi why are you mumbling to yourself?”

“Ulrika-san!!”

Lily suddenly snapped at Ulrika

“Yes!?!?”

“Do you think she has something to finally make Raze become honest with himself!?”

“I think she has! But please stop!! I feel sorry for him!!!”

“Why!? As I though… you…”

“It’s not! There’s not a single good thing I get from being her experiment subject! Wrong move and he may turned into a puni you know!?”

“That… may not be so bad… if it’s him not me...”

“Huh?”

“Nothing! But I see your point and I’ll believe in you for now.”

“Okay… I don’t know what just happened but I’m glad we solve the misunderstanding. And just call me Ulrika. Don’t be so polite at me. By the way can I call you Lily? I already call you that yesterday though...”

“Of course, I usually called by that name. Very well then. Nice to meet you again, Ulrika.”

“Likewise, Lily.”

They finally fell into a comfortable silence again. But of course it will never last.

“LILY-CHAN!!! ULRIKA-CHAN!!! LET’S PLAY!!!”

A pink personification of storm descend from the stairs straight into lobby.

“ET!!!”

“You’re… Ena’s big sister!”

Lily and Ulrika stand up from their comfortable seat and take a defensive position against Et.

“It’s Et~! Hey, hey Lily-chan, Ulrika-chan~ Let’s play~!”

“No. Please spare me. I’m tired.”

Lily drop back into the soft sofa.

“Me too. Why won’t you go bother Pepperon? You two get along well, right?”

Ulrika following Lily’s example and getting comfortable with the sofa again.

“Pepperon… okay! I’ll go bug Pepperon and Goto then!”

Et dash out from girl’s dorm.

“I should bug Ena too!”

Ulrika pray for her youngest atelier member.

“And Raze!”

“Ah.”
Ulrika may not be familiar with the other atelier’s antic, but she knows what’s coming.

“WAIT UP!!!”

Lily sprint out with energy she didn’t has 5 seconds ago.

“There she goes.”

Ulrika just stare at the entrance.

“Milady sure has a lot of energy for someone who claims to be lacking sleep.”

Ulrika get up from her seat.

“I’m still tired, but my instinct tell me that it’s better for me to follow them.”

“I’ll accompany you then. I need to chase after milady after all.”

“Okay then, let’s go. Come on, Uryu.”

And so the three of them also head towards boy’s dorm by walking… leisurely. By the time they arrived at boy’s dorm lobby, the screaming session already started.

“GET OUT FROM MY ROOM!!!”

“WHY!? I COME TO HELP YOU CHANGE SO WE CAN PLAY IMMEDIATELY!!!”

“I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP AND I DON’T WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU, STUPID SIS!!!”

Ulrika walk towards Lily who simply shake her head at the sibling's antics. It seems she already cooled down enough to realize that chasing after Et thoughtlessly is meaningless.

The door to Ena’s room slammed down. Really hard.

“He shut me off.”

Et (not so) sadly said in front of the door.

“Cheer up. Big bro is just embarrassed to show his scrawny body to his big sis.”

Pepperon pat Et’s back.

“That young boy is considerably weak without his machines after all.”
Goto added. Not helping Ena at all.

“I heard you! Just remember this!”

Ena shouted from inside his room.

“Awww don’t be so embarrassed. You know your big sister will always love you no matter how scrawny you are.”

“I’m not!”

Another door opened as they keep bickering, or rather, bullying Ena. Raze step out from his room, already fully clothed. Lily decide to leave the four and greet him.

“Raze, you’re early.”

“Milady, why are you here?”

“To stop her as she plan to bug you too.”

Lily point at Et who still having a yelling duel with Ena.

“So I heard. Fuaaahhh…”

Raze let out a big yawn.

“You look tired.”

“I can’t sleep well the whole night. Something keeping me up.”

“Strange, me too. So is she.”

Lily gesturing towards Ulrika who watch the whole bickering.

“What? What~? Lily-chan, Ulrika-chan, and Raze are not sleeping well. That’s not good.”

Et decide that bothering Ena is not as fun anymore and get into the other conversation.

“You looks so energic. Did you sleep well?”

Ulrika ask Et.

“Nope! In fact, I didn’t sleep at all yesterday because I was so excited!”

Et cheerfully said.

“What a coincidence! In fact, me too!”

Pepperon proudly admit. And the two of them laugh together.

“Idiots. We got two idiots.”

Ena got out from his room, properly clothed with his usual garment.

“Ena, you’re lacking sleep too?”

Ulrika worriedly ask.

“Yeah. Is this place haunted or something? I just can’t feel secure enough to sleep.”

“No way. We stayed in this place just a few months ago.”

“Someone died tragically within that few months and now they’re seeking revenge to whoever killed them.”

All of them snapped their head at the source of voice to found Chloe walking slowly towards them.

“Chloe! Don’t suddenly appears and say scary things! What are you doing here anyway?”

Ulrika step back a bit.

“I heard scream, so I think I could see something interesting here. Looks like I’m too late. tch.”

Chloe sigh, looking so disappointed. Another door opened and Yun come out from his room.

“Can you please keep your voice down? Corona is still sleeping.”

Yun already back to his usual cool self, even with that mother hen attitude.

“Yeah, right. That girl. We should keep this somewhere else.”

Ulrika paled a bit.

“How about cafetaria? We still not eaten any breakfast.”

Lily suggested.

“Good idea. I’m so hungry…”

Ulrika hug Uryu walk away with Lily. Whim following close behind them with a bright smile.

Raze lean closer to Et and whisper to her.

“Since when they get along that well?”

“Dunno. They’re already that buddy-buddy when I got down this morning.”

“I see.”

Raze followed them without asking another question. Ena hastily tag along with him in hope to not walk with his sister. Eventually everyone catch up to Lily and Ulrika to see them chat… properly.

“And then, that person give me some nice white puni-shaped food from his homeland. I think it was called manjuu or something. It was really good.”

“Manjuu huh… I heard it’s a food originated from east countries. I never had any myself though. Speaking of eastern, Anna-san seems like an eastern. Maybe we should try to ask her. I’m quite interested in that puni-shape. I wonder if it’s as soft as puni.”

“You really do like puni that much.”

“Of course. You should try to touch one sometimes too, Ulrika.”

“No, I’m good…”

They do wonder how two girls who act like archenemy for a whole year suddenly capable to have a civil conversation about… food. And puni. When someone attempt to pull back the story into their usual comedic streak, Whim will glare at them with her rarely shown intensity. She’s just that happy that her mistress finally make a proper friend inside the school.

… the time inside that never ending spirals

“Do you hear that?”

Ena suddenly alerting the whole group. Ulrika and Lily stop chatting.

… still can believe your voice now, our separated fingers leave only hesitation

“A song?”

Lily look around try to locate the source of voice.

“Ummm… I think I know this voice, but it seems kinda different.”

Et trying hard to spin the gear inside her head.

“It comes from cafeteria.”

Raze declared. They walk faster towards cafeteria as the song continues.

… trapped in this almost forgotten promise

They barge into the cafeteria to find no one there.

… rules of world start to change

“There’s no one here?”

Pepperon fold his hands while the rest still searching where the song come from.

“It’s from kitchen!”

Goto declared and pointed to kitchen… dramatically.

… like an ark swayed by waves

They slowly approach the door to kitchen and open it as silent as they can. The only one they can see is a woman, or beastwoman, judging from the tail that swayed behind her. She continues to sing as she turn off the stove.

“... only memories in that word… whoops. That should be world, not word. I really should not practice while cooking. I’ll finish this real quick and practice again.”

Golden hair and white dress sway as she lift the pot, fully revealing a pair of big ears with equally golden fur. Et push the door (and everyone else in front of her) and get closer to the beastwoman.

“As I thought! It’s Nikki!”

The said beastwoman, Nikki, turn her head to reveal her beautiful face and bright blue eyes. She smile as she lift the pot she’s holding.

“Yes?”

Chapter Text

“Just sit down for now. Breakfast will be ready real soon!”

That’s how they obediently sit back in cafeteria with Uryu on Ulrika’s lap and Whim standing behind Lily. It’s hard to refuse that smile.

“Who is she?”

Raze ask. Most of them seems to know her and unfortunately, he’s not included.

“Somehow it’s not surprising that you don’t know her.”

Ulrika bluntly said.

“Raze-san never really interested in music after all.”

Whim added.

“Sorry for being ignorant.” Raze sarcastically apologize. “So, who is she?”

“That lady is a world-class famous singer, Nikki.”

Goto kindly share his old-man wisdom.

“She was originally known as a local idol or something and refuse to professionally sing until several years ago. She suddenly stand up in the world of professional singer and making hits after hits. Nothing much known about her personal life beside she’s already married. No one knows who’s the lucky man.”

Lily explains.

“Her song is mostly upbeat or mellow love song! Hey~ Tell me the things I want to know~! Hey~ Tell me the things you want to do~!”

Et sings one of Nikki’s song. Much to Ena’s annoyance.

“That’s why it’s a bit surprising that she also sing that kind of song.”

Et continues.

“Stupid sis is a big fans of her.”

Ena added clearly with an annoyed tone. He likes Nikki’s song too but he hates it when his sister sing it without any tone.

“I’m happy to hear that.”

Nikki got out from kitchen with a lot of food.

“Sorry to keep you waiting.”

She start to put the food in table, Whim helped her. She also put another one for herself and sit in a vacant seat.

“Let’s eat~”

And proceed to eat her own breakfast. Everyone else got swayed by her pace and start to eat too.

“I heard there’s supposed to be 16 of you, but there’s only 10 now. The rest is still asleep?”

Nikki ask them in the middle of meal.

“Ye-yes!”

Et suddenly become so nervous in front of her.

“Actually Yun is already up, but he’s staying with Corona.”

Raze added.

“I see.”

“Nikki-san, are you an alchemist too?”

Lily ask.

“Yes, I am. Even though when it comes to making food, I’m better making it normally in kitchen rather with a cauldron.”

They have to admit that her cooking is pretty good. But it’s not that surprising as most alchemist still prefer cook the normal way, Ulrika included.

“Ah, I forgot to introduce myself.”

Nikki put her spoon down and stand up from her seat.

“As you may already know, I’m Nikki, a singer. I never really speak this publicly, but my real name is Nicole Aurelius, an alchemist just like you already guess. I already heard about all of you from Anna. Nice to meet you.”

Nikki put a grin as she introduce herself and sit on her seat again. Enjoying the curious gaze directed at her.

“Aurelius… as in THAT Aurelius…?”

Lily ask, pretty seriously.

“Yes, THAT Aurelius.”

Nikki smiling widely, completely enjoying Lily’s reaction. Lily raise her hand to her mouth and shout.

“WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTT!?”

“Milady, what’s wrong?”

Whim worriedly ask.

“Yeah, I thought lady from some bigshot family is not supposed shout like that.”

Ulrika added. She doesn’t has any ill means. It’s just old habit die hard.

“It’s THAT Aurelius, you know!? THAT Aurelius!!!”

Lily tried to give them a hint.

“What Aurelius?”

Which completely went passed Et head.

“THEOPHRASTUS AURELIUS!!!”

Lily shout again. This time with a slam to the poor table. And yet, only Ena registered the fact and dropped his spoon.

“Seriously?”

Ena ask Nikki, who smile even brighter.

“Seriously.”

Yes, she’s really enjoying this. A certain someone is sure a bad influence for her.

“Who’s Theophrastus?”

Et whisper to Goto.

“A legendary alchemist. He is said to be the greatest one in history.”

Goto simply explain with a normal voice, so everyone else can hear him too.

“I do hear he has a son…”

Lily start to mumble to herself again. This time, a bit too loud.

“That would be my husband.”

Nikki dreamily said.

“I’m such a sinful woman to finally make that blockhead pure guy to accept my love.”

Yet her tone show no remorse at all. If worse, she seems to be trapped in her own dream world like some teenage girl talking about her crush.

“That’s… unexpected.”

Raze said.

“I don’t really understand, but that sounds so awesome!”

Yeah, it’s Et.

“Right~? Really, that guy is sure a shy one. And dense too. Even though I made lunch for him and even hold his hand he still didn’t really make a comment about my feelings for him. But he’s really dependable, you know? Not to mention, he’s quite a looker too. And then, you know…”

Nikki start to ramble about her love live. Et and Lily listened intently while the rest mostly sweatdropped (or sigh in Chloe’s case). The other simply hear it with a questionable passion.

“Nikki, it’s not the time for that!”

The only and only one Vice Principal speak from Nikki’s back. No one know when he get there.

“VICE PRINCIPAL!!!” “FLAY-SENSEI!!!”

So, of course they would fly from their seat.

“Ah, Flaya. Welcome back. Here’s your breakfast.”

Nikki calmly hand him a boxed meal. Which he accept… normally. And they do notice the nickname which is pretty shocking that someone dare to call that man with such cute nickname.

“Humu.”

Flay give her a confirmation and put the box somewhere… in his coat. Better not ask where or how.

“Finally get away from Anna?”

“Of course. But knowing that woman, she will show herself here in no time. So I’ll just make this quick. I got no time to personally explain, so go meet Vayne and ask him yourself. He can tell you a lot of thing, especially for Raze and Urli… something.”

Flay still has not make an attempt to remember each of their name. Even if Anna and Nikki already did.

“It’s Ulrika!”

“For now, just listen the intro from Nikki. That’s all.”

Flay ignored Ulrika’s protest and proceed with his instruction.

“Why did you not put that in their invitation?”

Nikki stands up and cleaned up her already finished breakfast.

“It’s too troublesome to write all of it. And it’s more interesting like that.”

“... I hope Anna catch you soon.”

“Not a chance. Farewell!”

Flay disappear to nowhere as usual. Nikki sigh at his usual randomness.

“Oh well, I’m about to go to see Vayne anyway. Let’s clean the dish and get over with this.”

As they tidying away the dish, a tear formed in… air. A tear in a place without anything on it. Anna step out from the said tear with a mass of killing intent. She saw Nikki and her killing intent disappear in an instant.

“Ah. Good morning, Nikki-senpai. Did you see Flay-senpai anywhere?”

Anna calmly say without sheathing her katana.

“Flaya just went somewhere after getting his breakfast. And this is yours.”

Nike give Anna her boxed breakfast.

“Thank you very much, Nikki-senpai. Ah. Everyone too, good morning. I’m sorry, but I’m quite busy now. Please excuse me.”

Anna hold her box in her left hand and swing her katana with her right hand. Another tear formed in the air and she disappeared into it.

“… Oi, oi. She just appeared out of nowhere and disappeared to nowhere.”

Ena state out of confusion.

“Just like Flay-sensei!”

Et exclaimed.

“Nikki-san, can you do it too?”

Ulrika ask Nikki.

“No way I can do that kind of inhumane skill out of nowhere!”

She lift the dish and walk towards kitchen while laughing. It brings a strange relieve to the younger gang.

“Ah, maybe if it’s in jungle…”

Nikki faintly wonder as she disappear into kitchen.

“She can?”

Ena turn his head towards Raze.

“I think it’s better not to ask.”

Not too long after, Nikki and Whim, who went to help her, come out from kitchen.

“Okay then, we’ll go quite far so it’s better to prepare yourself. Or maybe I should prepare myself.”

Nikki weakly looking at her own dress.

“Ah. Now I think about it, what about those who still sleep?”

Nikki suddenly brings up. Chloe silently raise her hand up.

“I’ll stay. I’m not really fond of walking far.”

“Okay I’ll go prepare then. Get your weapon and wait for me at the gate, ‘kay? I won’t take long… I think.”

… 30 minutes later in front of gate, Nikki is still missing.

“I wonder what’s taking her so long…”

Ulrika wonder.

”Not to be rude or anything, but can she fight properly? She looks pretty delicate.”

Raze said with a worried face.

“To be fair, Anna-san doesn’t look that strong too.”

Ulrika point back.

“But she has a strong warrior-like aura that make you know not to mess with her. But Nicole-san is more like…”

Raze close his eyes and think hard how to describe how he feels about Nikki.

“Like a mom.”

Ena add.
“Yes, that is. I wonder if she will be okay…”

Raze confirm.

“She was a student here too. She should be able to defend herself at least.”

Lily said. Whim look surprised and thoughtlessly speak.

“But mila…”

Which gain her a glare from Lily.

“Nevermind.”

“But I wonder how she fight… Will she use bow and arrow? Or knives? Ah, but sword is cool too. Just like Anna-san!”

Et dreamily wonder.

“Well, well, young lady. Bow is sure nice and elegant but I think sword and knife is out of idea.”

Goto pat Et’s leg (because his “unicorn” body is not tall enough).

“Or maybe she will use some heavy weapon. Cute, elegant, and strong. Just like me!”

Peperon start of with his usual (self-proclaimed) cute tone and suddenly switch into a manly voice just at the “strong” part.

“No way”

Everyone seems to think the same thing as they make a rebuke on Peperon’s absurdness.

“Sorry to keep you waiting!”

Nikki’s voice echoed among the light sound of her footstep. The group turn their head toward her and just stare.

Nikki’s long hair is tied into a high ponytail which sway as she move. Her dress is discarded in favor of more comfortable clothes. The upper garment is made of light white fabric which ruffled around her chest area and held with baby blue strings that went over her shoulders. The long sleeve connected to the body part just under her armpit, leaving her shoulder open with frills at the top part. Contrasting to her quite feminine upper, her lower garment consist of short dark blue jeans and waist bag along with a few more pockets. On her left thigh also strapped a belt which hold another pocket. And she wears a dark thick brown fingerless glove on both hand.

But that’s not the most surprising thing. The surprising thing is one, she does not wears any footwear which explains why her footstep sounds so light. And two, that big sturdy hammer that looks like can knock a dragon away in one hit along with the fact that she casually carries it only with one hand.

If the previous Nikki feels like a delicate young noble woman with mother-like quality, this Nikki feels more like a veteran mercenary which can knock you out in matter of seconds. Not to mention that long sleeve seems to be suspicious.

Yes, it seems Peperon is the winner in “Guess what Nikki’s weapon is” game.

“Told ya.”

Peperon smugly said.

“Sorry to keep you waiting. I didn’t expect to meet a fans of mine here, you see. I don’t want to break the dream yet, so I tried to appear as ‘Nikki-like’ as I can but then I realized that I only bring this kind of clothes and hammer with me. I do consider going with my stage dress and just bring some explosives with me but I don’t want to be a burden, so yeah… Sorry to disappoint you.”

Nikki explains in panic and hung her head low as she ends her excuse with apology. She also put down her hammer gently, which still made a quite terrifying dull thud sound. It seems the hammer is as heavy as it looks.

“No, no! It’s just… well...”

Ulrika wave both her hand in air as she try to cheer Nikki up.

“It’s just… unexpected.”

Lily continued. Trying to put a nice word so she will feel better.

“Yes, unexpected right? The elegant looking songstress who fawned by many is actually a stupidly strong idiothair woman. Of course anyone will be disappointed.”

It seems anything that the group said will have an opposite effect on her and so they think really hard to find the right word for her. But yes, Et still doesn’t care about that kind of difficult things.

“But I think you’re so cool! You’re not only beautiful and have a great singing voice, but also can cook and bash out enemies! I respect you even more now!”
Et enthusiastically said. Nikki’s ears twitch a little as she lift her head slightly

“Really?”

Her sad eyes meet with Et’s gleaming eyes.

“Really!”

Nikki wipe out a little tear that come out from her eyes and put a smile even though it still feels a little sad.

“Thank you.”

Nikki pat Et’s head. Raze feels it’s the good time to interfere before the mood become worse again.

“By the way, Nicole-san. Where are we going?”

Nikki shift her hammer. Looks like she’s already cheered up by Et’s genuine adoration.

“Nikki is fine. Everyone call me that anyway. And we’re going to the deepest part of Mana Ruins. I think it’s called Deep Ruins now. We’re going to meet up with Vayne there.”

Nikki wave a quite big bag she’s holding. No one notice it before because of her hammer.

“By the way, who is Vayne?”

Ena ask.

“My husband.”

Nikki lightly answer.

“Eh…? Your husband as in Theophrastus’ son? We’re going to meet him?”

Ulrika suddenly excited by the thought of meeting the legendary alchemist’s song.

“Yep. It will be quite a long journey, so I’ll explain on the way. We need to decide the route first.”

To reach Deep Ruins, they choose a long way from crossing Learning Bridge and head west along the shore towards Cruise Ship of Time. After crossing the strait, they need to pass Dragon Graveyard and walk towards Millennium Forest, then head north from there. They also considering on climbing the cliff in the back of academy towards Old Quarry and head straight to Millennium Forest from there, but it seems some people not really fond of it.

They spend the whole journey crossing Learning Bridge on getting to know more of each other and closing the gap between Ulrika and Raze’s group… at least between the one who present. Nikki also told them more about herself. How she enrolled to Al-Revis and meeting her friends. Of course, while fighting monster along the way.

“And then when I introduce Vayne to my mom and grandma, they were very pleased. Not only he’s the son of a damn famous alchemist, he also can hunt a dragon by himself unlike my dad. So they immediately give us blessing.”

Nikki laugh as she speak.

“But then after our first twins, Vayne went out for a journey because of his job. He do come back once in awhile. We make kids when he’s home, so he stay for a few months to look for our kids before departing again.”

Ulrika and Lily blush madly at the “make kids” statement.

“Sometimes mom and grandma got angry and told me to go fetch him because he’s running away like dad and grandpa. I told them that it’s his job as a doctor to save people’s life and it’s not his fault that epidemic seems to strike from time to time, but they won’t listen. Vayne is not a weakling like dad and grandpa after all. When I said I’m going to be a professional singer, they told me to bring home more husbands. Of course I refused. I already understand that I only need one after all. And I’m not singing to tempt over mens anyway.”

Nikki huffed. She already not caring about her image as a famous singer and continue to complaint.

“That reminds me, why do you become a singer? I hear you refused to be one before.”

Lily curiously ask. Nikki smash another monster that coming their way. She put her hammer down and swept her sweat.

“I need money, you see. A lot of it. And even though I’m an alchemist, I’m not a very good one. So I think singing is the only way for me.”

“Is the life of doctor’s family that hard? He helped a lot of people right?”

Ulrika ask.

“No! I mean, yes he does not always takes money from his patient. He and I gathered the herbs he used for his medicines ourself so it’s not a big problem. Everyone also really thankful of him and send us a lot of food and many other things all year long. We also hunt for our own meat anyway, so we never really need money in the first place.”

“Then, why do you suddenly need money?”

Raze ask. Nikki stop her feet and sadly looking at the rough direction of academy.

“That academy… Al-Revis need a lot of money, right?”

Everyone taken aback by the sudden sadness in Nikki’s voice. Nikki start to walk again and they silently follow her.

“Vayne was the one who first to notice the decrease of mana energy and alerted the council. At first they shrug it off as natural phenomenon, but it keep getting worse. Finally they lent an ears to him and start to plan a countermeasure. Thanks to him the casualties can be pushed to minimal amount. But it’s not a lie that some students and faculty staff lost their live when the academy fall. Thanks to that, public opinion of us, alchemists, become even more worse. It’s not even good to begin with. We and the the council decides that it’s just a matter of time until the academy we cherish so much disappear. So we start to plan a long term restoration project to return Al-Revis to its former glory. To execute it, we need a lot of resources. That’s why I start to gather a mass amount of cash since we can’t rely on sponsor when we already expect them to drop out one after another.”

Nikki suddenly fasten her pace.

“But that useless principal start to do unnecessary things. I understand about opening the school for public and charge the student with school fee so the academy can survive. But to shorten the learning period from 3 years to a year is a bad joke. A year barely cover anything important! And more than that, he even dared to rely on that woman. Thanks to her we’re in a really tight schedule now. It’s a good thing that he fell for our plan to take Flaya in, so we can put a halt on that woman’s wicked plan.”

Nikki keep stomped angrily.

“That woman?”

Et curiously wonder.

“I think she meant Board Director Marta.”

Lily guess, since she’s the one among them who understand the most about that side of academy.
“Yes, that woman! To be honest we only drive her out for a while now. There’s no doubt that she will come back and try to stop our plan. We still need to deal with her when the time comes.”

Nikki bit her nail. Frustration completely written in her once so carefree face.

“I see why that man call for me who is not a student nor an alchemist to come.”

Goto raise his hand in confidence.

“Oh yeah, Goto can talk Board Director out of it!”

Ulrika excitedly state.

“What does it means?”

Nikki ask in confusion, her sticking out hair cutely form a question mark. It seems her anger already disappeared mostly.

“That lady already fall for Goto’s charm. She will do anything he ask her to do.”

Peperon softly whisper to Nikki.

“I don’t think I can change her mind completely, but I believe I can buy some time until everything already too late for her.”

“Really?”

Nikki expectantly ask

“Really.”

Goto assure her. Nikki suddenly jump to Goto and lift him.

“Thank you!”

She keep him in air and start to spin around while repeating “Thank you” for countless time. After a minute or so she stop and put Goto down and apologize to him for being too excited.

“But with this our victory is pretty much decided! We cannot be failed after all!!!”

Nikki shout with a renewed energy and hope as she laugh in happiness and relieve.

“Well, I think I can’t blame Vice Principal for telling us to come within that reckless time.”
Ena sigh as he complains with a slight smile on his face.

“Well, no? I don’t think Marta will be back until next week and the actual gathering time start in 2 weeks from now until a week after. That means the plan will be executed in 3 weeks according to the schedule. Even with counting Goto here, I don’t see the reason why all of need to come this early. As for me, I’m just happy to have a company.”

Nikki shrug while she explains. Raze only sigh because he already used to that teacher’s recklessness. Et never really mind about it, it’s fun anyway and she got to meet Nikki earlier. The rest only can hope that Anna will catch him soon.

“By the way, Nikki-san. You mentioned about the plan and getting Al-Revis to its former glory. What exactly the plan is and why are we here?”

Lily ask.

“Damn I forgot to explain again. Well you see, our plan is…”

Nikki lightly knock her head while keep walking. She was about to answer, but suddenly put his hand in front of her and interrupt.

“Stop. Look at that.”

Raze gesturing towards the entrance to the Cruise Ship of Time. A lot of monster wandering in the way leading to ship.

“Is this the only way?”

Nikki ask.

“No, but it’s easier to get rid of them than going back to take another path.”

Raze explains.

“But it’s almost night already. That means get ready for a rough fight, right?”

“Uuu!!!”

Ulrika raise her orb. Uryu also take a fighting pose beside her.

“No, you guys stay here. I’ll take care of them.”

Nikki lift her hammer and run ahead.

“Wait, Ni…”

Lily tried to call her back, but she already far ahead. She jump from rock to rock, to above the tree and even higher. She put a lot of power on her final leap and hover above the monsters.

“DOUR!!!”

A mana clad in green appears holding a large seed. He throw the seed in Nikki’s direction and disappear again. Nikki swing her hammer and slam the seed flying to ground like a cannon, causing a small tremor to the surrounding area and a large crack. A green light appeared from inside the crack and a lot of plants start to going around wildly stabbing and entangling anything in their way. The plants gather the surviving monster below Nikki, who still high in the air. Nikki throw her hammer upwards and dive towards the monsters as she retract her fist in preparation on her one final attack. When her fist slammed into the monsters, the plants explodes into a bright green light along with the monsters.

Nikki lands on her feet with a little spin as she catch her hammer that comes falling after her.

“Green Calamity”

The move Nikki just executed is brutal. Really brutal. It eradicates everything in her way. But the destruction still can produce a beautiful breathtaking scenery worth to be called a piece of art. It makes them wonder how can such brutality looks so beautiful, as if reflecting both side of the woman called “Nikki”, the one who wield a hammer to slam anything in her way and the one who steal a lot of heart with her singing.

The younger gang quickly snapped out of their admiration and rush towards Nikki.

“Nikki-san!!”

Nikki turn her body around. Hair swaying behind her head.

“You guys ask how we will restore the academy to its former glory, right? It’s simple.”

She lightly hold the handle of her hammer with her right hand. Her hair sway with the wind as green light adorned her determined face. She raise her other hand and point towards the twilight sky.

“We’ll fly Al-Revis back into the sky!”

Chapter Text

After Nikki opened the path, they pretty much cleared the Cruise Ship of time and spend a night on it. Out of curiosity, the younger gang asked Nikki about her other atelier-mate.

"You know Flaya. Irresponsible and impossible most of the time. And I won't say this in front of his face, but he has a good eye for people and he actually know more than he let on. He's also really good at reading situation and make a great decision. That's why we keep relying on him as our leader. Please don't tell him that, he'll get a really big head if he do. It's pretty hard to imagine, but he is the brat and the adult in our group. If only he act like a proper adult all the time... Well, that absurdness is what make Flaya interesting though."

"You guys already meet Anna too. She's the serious lady at our group and the one who keep Flaya in line when he's being a brat. To be honest I found her seriousness as really suffocating at first, but later I know that she's just being a good girl. On her bad side, she should really keep her imagination tame. Her over-thinking could be really deadly. We could laze around for a couple of hours and she's already imagined our demise and force us to train like crazy."

"That reminds me of milady."

"Whim..."

"Sorry..."

"Ahaha. Then there's Vayne, the guy we about to see who is also my husband. At the first glance, he's a lump of cheat. He's the son of famous alchemist who also has a ton of talent on alchemy himself, got enrolled to Al-Revis without any effort, has a good look, physically stronger than average people with quite some talent at combat, and not to mention that mana he has... But actually he's anything but blessed. He never really remember his own parents and was left alone in the middle of nowhere with a cat who take charge to take care of him. Everyone in nearby town hate him for no reason and force him to live by himself. That's why he become really timid around strangers. And the first friends he make is not something you could call normal, you see. At least Flaya is not. Thanks to that he's having a difficulties on deciding what's normal and what's not. Beside that, he's really dependable even though he should try harder to say no more often. And he has a great sense of mana. He's currently traveling as a doctor, and sometimes dealing with Flay's world conquer or doing research with Roxis."

"Roxis? Do you mean Professor Roxis Rosenkrantz?"

"As expected from a noble family~ Yup, that Roxis. To be honest I didn't really like Roxis at first. He's saying a lot of mean things and always has somekind of hatred toward Vayne. Turns out that he's jealous of Vayne's talent at alchemy. But Flaya forcefully stick them together and Roxis finally realized that Vayne is nowhere as blessed as he is. Actually even though Roxis keep saying that he's jealous of Vayne, his alchemic skill is somewhere on par with Vayne thanks to his hard work. Though he could use some physical strength as Vayne put it. Currently they're keeping that dangerous rivalry, or as Flaya phrase it, [Men's friendship]."

"Then... maybe some of you already hear about this one woman too. The name is Jessica Philomele."

"I know, I know! I have a lot of her recipes books. The medicines are exceptionally effective and easy to make."

"Fufu~ Looks like you really do your research as the only actual alchemist here. But since you guys already disillusioned about me, let me tell you not so good thing about her too. Actually..."

"actually..."

"For every good book born from her, another 2-5 forbidden book also born at the same time. And actually it's us who did the screening of her recipes before she released her book with our life at stake."

"Forbidden...?"

"It's too dangerous for mankind's sake that we seal it away. She is physically weak because of her illness and has a talent to make everything explode even with non-explosive ingredients like grass, but those medicines of her is feared even by Flaya. Just put her in your list of person not to mess with."

"Next is Pamela Ibis. You may not know her, but she is really iconic among the older alchemists. Literally everyone know her. Seriously. Every single one. Though she's not really known among the younger alchemists. She's really pretty and lady-like, unlike me. But she's also an existence beyond reach. That's why I can snatch out a lot of fans without having to share with her. What I mean? Well, that's for you guys to find out."

"Then... ugh I don't really like talking about him, but there's this guy named Muppy. His full name is Muppy Oktavia... something. It's hard to remember. I don't want to admit this, but he's really great at machinery. Better than Flaya. Actually that mech sword Flaya currently use is his creation. Hm? Flaya said he's not that good at machinery? I said it, he know more than he let on. He's actually really good at it."

"Lastly, there's me. Nicole Aurelius, maiden name is Nicole Mimi Tithel. Job is famous singer and plain average alchemist you can find... not so anywhere too. Haha... I'm good at singing and smashing things. My alchemy skill is not so bad, but nowhere near Roxis, Vayne, or even Jess. As a beastman, I have a good sense of mana too. But not as good as Vayne for some reason."

“By the way, Nikki-san. How do you plan to fly the whole academy up?”

Lily ask out of curiosity. Nikki shift uncomfortably as she try to answer.

“Well… that’s… To be honest, I don’t really understand myself. You should try to ask Vayne when you meet him.”

Nikki shift uncomfortably again.

“Almost forgot, don’t ask about Theophrastus to him okay? It’s a touchy subject.”

They nodded and continue to talk about any other things until sleepiness take over them and they call it a night. The next morning, they continued their journey towards Dragon Graveyard which they pass with ease. They reached near Millennium Forest in no time and immediately head north towards their destination. They soon reached to the entrance of Deep Ruins.

Nikki suddenly stop and turn back at them with a serious look.

"I forgot to ask this, do any of you ever entered this place?"

"No, I'm not" Lily answer first.

"I'm not" Raze followed.

"I'm always with milady." Whim continued.

“I went in to search for Uryu once, but I’m really hurried so I don’t really aware what’s inside.” Ulrika answers.

“And we were trying hard not to lose big sis.” Pepperon answered for Ena and Goto, who nodded at his answer.

“I see… Then prepare your heart. You’ll see something bad inside.”

Nikki put her hammer down and sit in the entrance, blocking their way.

“Something… bad…?” Ulrika ask.

“Alchemy is not completely a good thing. You can say it’s an end result of a grave mistake the past alchemists made. It’s not like you need to go in. You guys can wait here while I call Vayne out and we can talk back in academy. I won’t blame any of you.”

They start to hesitate and look at each other for answer. They stay like that for a while before Ulrika suddenly slap both of her cheeks.

“I’m going in. I’m an alchemist too. I need to learn as much as I can even if it’s a mistake. I’ll learn from their mistake so I won’t make the same mistake.”

“Uryu, don’t like it here. But Uryurika go in, so Uryu go in too.”

Ulrika and Uryu give their answer.

“What the past alchemists did have nothing to do with me, I’ll just keep doing what I believe. I’ll just follow milady’s decision for this case.”

“I’m the future head of Valendorf family, and so I need the resolve to take everything in. It will do me no good if I run away from the truth before my eyes.”

“I’ll accompany milady everywhere she goes. I’m her mana after all.”

Raze, Lily, and Whim decide to go in.

“We already walk this far. It’s pretty much too late to back down now.”

“I agree with big bro.”

“I don’t see the reason not to go.”

“Since everyone is going in, then I’ll go in too~”

Ena, Pepperon, Goto, and Et decide to go in too. That makes everyone.

“Really… Flaya’s eyes are too good for this kind of thing. Okay then. Since we’re going in, see for yourself what’s in there and don’t avert your eyes, ‘kay?”

Nikki stands up and walk into the ruins, everyone following her. They walk for a while in silence.

“It’s strange there’s no monster here…”

Et start to wonder as she disappointedly put her weapon away.

“It’s true… Raze? What are you looking at?”

Lily ask to Raze who keep staring into distance.

“Those crystals… there’s something in it.”

The others start to look at nearby crystals and stare at it.

“Uwaaah it’s true.”

Pepperon lean his face closer to a crystal.

“It looks like somekind of creature. An animal?”

Goto guess.

“No, it’s not an animal.”

Ena step back from the crystal he look at.

“He’s right… It’s… no way…”

Lily cover her mouth with both of her hands.

“Hey, hey. What’s in it? Tell me too!”

Et demands.

“Mana… I think.”

Raze answer with uncertainty. No, actually he’s already sure it’s a mana. It’s just he can’t be sure of what to think about it.

“Mana… like Whim?”

Et’s cheerfulness start to dim as she look towards Whim. Whim only sorrowfully look back at Et and nod.

“Nikki-san…”

“Uryu! What’s wrong?”

Lily call for Nikki for explanation, but Ulrika’s yell demand more priority than her curiousness. They gather around Ulrika and Uryu in no time.

“Ulrika-san, what’s wrong with him?”

Lily ask. Ulrika put her hand on Uryu reassuringly and shake her head.

“I don’t know, he’s been acting weird since we get here and suddenly he start to shut his ears hard.”

Ulrika pat Uryu a few times until Uryu relaxing his hold on his ears.

“Uryu, can you hear me? What’s wrong?”

“Uuu… they keep saying meanie things things about Uryurika…”
“Eh!? Me!? Did I do something bad?”

Ulrika look around to get some answer but they just keep their mouth shut… even if some of them seems want to say something.

“No. It’s not about you, Ulrika. It’s about us, alchemists.”

Nikki, who keep silent since they entered the ruins, speak as she walk closer to them.

“Alchemists… then, these mana are…”

Ulrika stands up and look at the crystals again.

“Result of the past alchemists’ mistake.”

“... and that mistake is…?”

Lily nervously ask Nikki. Nikki doesn’t answer her question and look at Whim instead.

“Say, what do you think mana is?”

“Ummm… even if you ask what mana is…”

Whim looks troubled as she can’t answer Nikki’s question.

“Mana is mana, right?”

Et nonchalantly answer.

“An embodiment of elemental power?”

Ena take a guess.

“My teacher who told us about this place answer something like this. A mana is a being that govern over everything exist in nature. Wind, fire, earth, and water. Light and darkness. Moon and stars. Emotion and soul.”

Nikki pause and look at Uryu.

“There are many elements, but it’s basically a huge raw power. And the mana we usually see is just a mere vessel of that power.”

“Mana is not a mere vessel!”

Raze suddenly yell without waiting Nikki to finish.

“Mana is not a mere vessel… Palt is not a mere vessel…”

Raze repeated himself, seems really upset. Palt appeared to comfort him.

“Raze…”

Lily worriedly call his name. Nikki smile softly and start to talk again.

“Don’t worry, I’m just reciting what my teacher said. I’m sure she too just reciting what she knows. Even for me, mana… Dour is a really precious friend of mine. But the past alchemists seems to think differently. They were thinking to extract the power from mana.”

“Extracting the power from mana…?”

Ulrika hesitantly ask. In the back, Pepperon whispers to Goto.

“The story suddenly becomes really dark.”

“It seems it’s our turn to lighten the mood.”

Goto seems about to do something, but Ena stands in his way.

“Don’t you dare.”

The exchange went unnoticed as Nikki continues her story.

“Those alchemists captured thousands of mana and experiment on them, alive. Eventually they succeed on extracting the power of mana. But the power without vessel start to trash around and eradicated everything around. The alchemists become scared and sealed the remaining experimental mana inside crystals.”

As Nikki finished her story a realization hit them like a lightning.

“Then, these mana are…”

Lily whispers in shock.

“Alive. And despising us, alchemists even inside their crystal prison.”

“Bu-but… they’re… we... “

Ulrika look at Uryu hesitantly, as if feeling not worthy enough to be with him. Uryu keep holding his ears and stare at Ulrika with puppy eyes.

“I know how you feel. Even I want to something for them to prove that I’m… we’re different from the past alchemists…”

“Uuu…”

Uryu hold his ears tighter again as Nikki speak.

“Uryu? Did they said anything mean again?”

Ulrika crouch down and comfort Uryu again.

“I’m sure they’re saying I’m a liar or a hypocrite or something like that.”

Nikki smiled sadly. Uryu nodded at her. Ulrika shout at her in reflex.

“But Nikki-san is…”

“It can’t be helped. In fact I never do anything for them. All I do is feeling sympathetic for them.”

Nikki lift her hammer, preparing to walk again.

“We should move on now. Looking at Uryu’s condition, maybe it’s better if we turn back.”

“Sorry, Nikki-san…”

Ulrika lift Uryu up as Uryu himself still refusing to budge.

“It’s okay. It can’t be helped anyway. You guys should wait outside while I call for Vayne.”

“U… Uuuuu… U?”

Uryu suddenly released his ears.

“Voices… stop suddenly.”

Ulrika confused at Uryu’s sudden change and let him float by himself. Nikki suddenly hold her hammer with both hand and get ready to strike.

“Be careful. Something coming this way.”

The others readied their weapon too.

From the darkness, a figure come closing in. A beautiful woman with silverish long hair with green dress. She has a pointed ears and wings as hand, as if she’s a mix between elf and harpy, but she’s not even use it to fly as she simply float in the air. They could feel a gentle breeze coming from her way even if she’s not moving.

“A wind mana!?”

Raze tighten the grip in his sword, ready to strike anytime.

From behind the mana, another shadow come closer. A few other mana come following her. It’s not that many, but still a lot for them to handle.

“You guys run away first, I’ll follow later.”

Nikki step forward to shield them.

“But, Nikki-san…!!”

Et seems to genuinely worried, which is very rare for her.

“I’ll stay too. I hate to say this, but this sword is very effective against mana.”

Raze step forward to her side.

“No! You ALL go outside. No complain.”

Nikki repeated herself, with a stronger voice. As expected, the younger group doesn’t really want to left her. The mana keep standing in place. The wind mana who appears first let out a soft chuckle.

“Don’t worry, young humans and mana. We’re not your enemies.”

They relaxed a bit, but still not dropping their fighting stance.

“She’s saying the truth. So you can drop your weapon now, Nikki.”

Another voice resound from behind the wind mana. This time a male one. Another figure step out from shadow. A man with messy short silver hair and blue eyes. He wears a dark blue coat and carries a traveling bag. Nikki instantly relaxed and dropped her weapon when she see the man.

“Vayne!”

The man, Vayne, smiles and raise his hand to wave at Nikki.

“It’s been a while.”

Chapter Text

“So that person is Vayne…”

Ulrika wonder as they grouped with the mana and Vayne.

“Ooooh so this is your wife. You got a pretty one here.”

A mana with yellow spirit light body and carrying a pair of big metallic ball nudge Vayne teasingly. Both Nikki and Vayne blush at the mana’s teasing.

“Stop teasing me. Why are you all here anyway? What about the thing I ask you guys to do?”

Vayne slapped the mana’s hand and put a stern face.

“She said we can see your wife.”

Another mana pointed at the wind mana lady.

“And some other FRESH alchemists too.”

Another one continued, stressing at the ‘fresh’ word.

“Too bad some of them seems already contracted to a mana.”

The yellow mana that tease Vayne stroked his nonexistent beard as it assessing the younger group up and down, making the younger group uneasy.

“Stop scaring them. You got what you want to see, right. Can you guys just… leave us for a while?”

Vayne sigh at those mana.

“Sure, sure. We’ll leave you alone with your wife. Come on, kids we got to give a lovey-doovey couple a nice time alone.”

The yellow mana gesture towards the younger groups to come with them. They can barely stifle their laughter when they see how red Vayne’s face become.

“Sorry guys, wait a minute okay? Come on, Vayne.”

Nikki wink at them with a mischievous grin. Vayne hung his head low in defeat.

“Why are you guys so mean? I don’t care anymore. Just say what you want.”

Vayne walk slowly to one of the crystal, close his eyes, and put his hand on it. It seems like he’s doing something to the crystal as he stop being responsive to their voices.

“Ahh… he’s sulking.”

Nikki said, without any sign of guilt over joining the mana on teasing Vayne.

“That guy need to learn how to deal with people better. Seriously.”

Another mana that looks like a huge white metal armor pitying Vayne.

“By the way, did I meet you somewhere? Why did you know that I’m Vayne’s wife? Did Vayne speak that much about me?”

Nikki ask the wind mana.

“No, he just said that his wife was enrolled to Al-Revis, same grade as him and she’s a blonde beastman. And it’s just clicked to me that you stick that close to him when you departed from Al-Revis, so I guess it’s must be you. You really grow up beautifully, Nikki.”

The wind mana speak with a gentle tone. Nikki lightly blush.

“So you saw that… Then we must meet somewhere before. Sorry I don’t remember.”

“No, I saw you. You never saw me. At least not in this form. But you did saw a statue of me.”

Nikki blink at the wind mana in confusion.

“I am what you call Wind’s Corridor. I don’t have any other name anymore, but you can call me Corr for short. Vayne helped me to regain my original form so I can preserve my power better after the academy fall. I like to see how the students grow when they arrive and depart through me. Even after the academy fall, I keep seeing how the students doing through the Wing of Icarus.”

The wind mana, Corr, gaze over them warmly. Somewhat mother-like. Her gaze stop at Ulrika, Raze, and Lily.

“Looks like you’re able to get along well now, Raze, Lily, Ulrika.”

Corr smile warmly at them, then shift to Et and Ena.

“But it seems the two siblings is still not in a good term.”

Corr frown a bit at them. Ena seems a bit irritated, but Et just tilt her head in confusion.

“But we’re getting along really well...”

“NO. WAY.”

Et innocently say and Ena strongly deny.

“My, my. Just like always. I see the two of you come here too, Peperoncino, Goto. Sometimes it’s a good change to see someone who is not a student nor a staff.”

Corr softly laugh at Et and Ena’s antics and greet Peperon and Goto warmly.

“It’s a honour to be noticed by such beautiful lady.”

“Ah… this is bad. I hope I don’t show you anything bad.”

Goto greet her back with confidence. In other hand, Peperon start to cutely (as he say) fiddling his finger.

“Wait! If you see anything, then did you see Goto’s original form? What did he looks like?”

Ulrika suddenly got fired up. Unnoticed to any of them (except Whim) that Lily sweat nervously.

“Of course, I see and hear everything. But what I know stays with me, so no need to worry.”

Corr steal a wink at Lily, who instantly relieved.

“You have my gratitude, beautiful lady.”

Goto thank the wind mana, not noticing that Corr winked to Lily.

“It’s pleasant but I start to pity Vayne now, so I’m leaving.”

The white metal mana left first.

“Yeah, I start to feel guilty too. Well, we’re counting on you, Mrs. Aurelius!”

“Leave it to me!”

The yellow mana pump his fist to Nikki and left. The other mana start murmuring among themself and left too, including Corr who give them a slight bow before leaving. Nikki walk to Vayne and tap his shoulder. Vayne jolted in surprise and opened his eyes.

“Sorry, I got carried away. We’re done with pleasantries here, so you should do whatever business you have with them.”

“Oh, okay. Ahem.”

Vayne cleared his throat, wearing a more authoritative air unlike before.

“You already heard from Flay-senpai…”

“Wait!”

Raze suddenly interrupted Vayne just when he start to speak.

“I guess we should have hear something from him, but in fact we’re still not informed anything and has been told to hear everything out from you.”

Raze explained. Vayne turn his head to Nikki confusedly, asking for more explanation.

“The thing is…”

Nikki start to explain the current situation to Vayne, from the almost empty invitation letter, the intruder, how Anna is currently chasing after Flay, and how far she tell them about their plan and this place.

“... something like that.”

“... I hope Anna catch him soon.”

“Yeah.”

Both Vayne and Nikki sigh at their oldest member.

“It can’t be helped. It’s not a long story, but since we’re here let’s go to the deeper part of ruins. I do plan to take you guys here later anyway.”

“I’ll go back first then, still got things to do. Take your time.”

Nikki wave her hand and walk back towards the entrance. Vayne wave back at her and turn around to the deeper part once her image disappear.

“Let’s go then.”

Vayne walk first, followed by the younger group who can’t help but to look at the crystals as they walk into the deeper part of ruins.

“Inside those crystals are mana…”

Raze wonder.

“Yes.”

Vayne confirmed without even looking back at them.

“How many of them there…?”

Ulrika also wonder as she gaze the crystals.

“From what I saw, there were several thousands when I was still enrolling in Al-Revis. Currently there’s only a few hundreds that still intact as most of them were destroyed during the fall, along with the mana trapped inside. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

“What about those mana earlier?”

Ena ask.

“I’ve been asking them to give us, alchemists, one more chance and I’ll get them out from the crystals. They’re the one that agreed on my condition. So far I could only convince about thirty of them. That’s why I’m asking them, who were trapped in crystals too to convince the rest of those mana. We’re arrived.”

Vayne stop in the front of giant crystal. Unlike other crystals, this crystal is still intact and yet contains no mana.

“Hey, isn’t this place…”

Ena recognized the place.

“It’s where Tetri and Uryu…”

Ulrika continue.

“You got this far before?”

Vayne as Ulrika.

“Yes, but I wasn’t really looking at my surrounding that time. Now I look at it again, it feels strange…”

Ulrika answers, not really know what makes her feels strange.

“The crystal is so big, but there’s no mana on it.”

Raze point out.

“Ah, yeah… I accidentally released it years ago. But that’s a story for another time. First, Raze. Can you show me your ring?”

Raze looks confused, but still give his hand to Vayne. Vayne just slowly trace over the ring and took it off.

“Yep, it’s taken off now. Here. You may still need it.”

Vayne give Raze his ring back. Raze stare at Vayne, then to his ring, and back at Vayne again.

“... how?”

“I’ll explain later. Now, try to put it on again and ask someone to took it off.”

Raze is still confused, but he put it on again anyway. Lily take the initiative to take the ring off (it’s just an accident that she touched Raze’s hand… or so she said).

“Huh? It can’t be taken off.”

Lily pull the ring several times again before giving up.

“Now, try to take it off yourself.”

Raze pull the ring, but it won’t budge. He try to pull it out stronger several times again before it finally slid off from his finger. Vayne extend his hand towards Raze, asking for the ring. Raze give the ring to Vayne.

“And the last is…”

Vayne toss the ring into darkness below the ruins. Instantly surprised the younger group.

“What are you…???”

Raze panicky ask. While he doesn’t really like the ring, he is still not quite prepared to lose it. Vayne just smiled at him and point at his hand. Raze raise his hand to see that the ring is already back on his finger.

“That’s how it is. This way you can took it off when you want to and you won’t lose it somewhere nor it can be taken from you during combat.”

Vayne explains.

“Tha… thank… you?”

Raze is still not able to process what just happened.

“Your welcome. And Urli…”

Vayne paused, seeming to find the next word.

“I’m sorry, may I ask your name?”

Vayne embarrassingly ask. Ulrika sigh as she already could imagine what happened.

“It’s the vice principal, right?”

“Yes. I heard a lot about you guys from him, but the only name I get are Raze and Et.”

Vayne sigh again. Ena raise his hand and ask Vayne.

“By the way, how did he address us if he tell you about us without even remembering our name?”

Ena straightforwardly ask. Vayne scratch his cheeks nervously.

“That’s…”

He point at Lily and Whim.

“Rich girl and her mana.”

“That’s not wrong, but…”

“it makes me feels like a side character.”

Whim complains, continued by Lily. Vayne point to Ena.

“Blue haired mecha-boy. The little one.”

“Little??? Did he really need to add little?”

Ena angrily shout. Ulrika, Peperon, and Goto laugh at him.

“Well, you got a same hair color as Raze and he’s bigger than you.”

 

Ulrika said between her laugh. Vayne laugh weakly and point at Peperon and Goto.

“Fairy wannabe dude and seal plushie man.”

“I may not be as cute as my master is, but I’m an actual fairy and not a wannabe…”

“Looks like even that man can’t understand the appeal of my pegasus body.”

Pepperon sobbing and twiddling his fingers while Goto just laugh it off. Vayne lower his hand and tilt his head.

“What is a pegasus?”

Vayne ask innocently, which is weird to see coming from a grown up man.

“Pegasus is a white mythical beast that ladies can’t seems to resist.”

Goto proudly says quite ambiguously.

“I see… Then, I think you fill up the criteria quite well. It doesn’t looks like a seal that much anyway.”

“Right?”

Vayne seems to misunderstand him and Goto simply doesn’t have any intention to correct him.

“I think I understand what Nikki-san mean by he’s not quite understand what is normal.”

“Big sis, you should go and stop him.”

Lily voiced what all of them seems think and Ena push Ulrika ahead to stop Goto.

“Eh? Me? Uhh… Okay.”

Ulrika walk to goto and hit his head.

“Goto! Don’t say misleading things!”

Vayne seems to be surprised and realized his mistake.

“It’s not?”

“Pegasus IS technically a white mythical beast. But the main thing about pegasus is it’s a winged horse.”

Raze explain, sighing. Still not used by the extra nonsense from the other group.

“Ahaha… I see. But think he’s cute. I’m pretty sure he’s popular with girls.”

“At least you understand that part of me.”

Goto seems to be proud that at least Vayne think he’s popular with girls… which is surprisingly true. The others already given up on Goto’s case. Lastly, Vayne point his finger at Ulrika and Uryu.

“Then, Urli-something and her white mana. I thinks there’s also fire mana, puni girl, and young witch but I don’t see them here. By the way, Uryu is your mana’s name?”

“Whooaaa… it’s surprisingly easy to understand.”

“To the point that it becomes irritating.”

Pepperon a bit amazed. Raze acknowledge it too, but adding the point that he’s not happy with it.

“He still call me Urli-something.”

Ulrika hung her head low.

“At least he remember four letter of your name. He doesn’t even remember mine.”

Ena irritatedly cheer her up.

“That’s true. Oh well.”

Ulrika raise her head and gesturing to Uryu.

“Yes, his name is Uryu and I’m Ulrika Mulberry. The blue haired mecha boy is Ennarcia Dysler but we call him Ena, fairy wannabe dude is Pepperoncino, and seal plushie man is Goto.”

Ulrika introduce herself and her atelier member and gesture to Lily to introduce herself.

“I’m Lilliane Valendorf, and this is my mana which is also my personal attendant, Whim. By the way, puni girl is Puniyo-san, fire mana is Yun, and young witch is Chloe-san.”

Lily introduce herself and Whim.

“Valendorf? You’re the daughter of Valendorf family?”

Vayne seems to be surprised.

“Yes I am. Is there something wrong?”

Lily ask. Vayne bow his head slightly to Lily.

“I’ve been meaning to thank you. I heard Valendorf family agreed to fund the academy thanks to your recommendation. We’re really saved thanks to you.”

“Well, I… no… It’s nothing.”

Lily panicked a bit when Vayne bowed to her, but manage not to embarrass herself.

“Thank you for everyone too for coming here despite of senpai’s… reckless request.”

Vayne pause a bit and looking back at Uryu and Ulrika.

“So then, Ulrika. Actually I have business with both you and Uryu. Especially Uryu.”

“With Uryu?”

Ulrika ask warily, but do nothing when Vayne kneel to Uryu’s height and stroke his head.

“Yes. Uryu, what do you think about the voice you heard when you entered here?”

“Uu… they’re so meanie and scary. But it stopped, so Uryu okay.”

Vayne keep stroking his head softly.

“Actually I made them silent for a while that time. But I won’t be always around, so you need to learn to block the voice yourself.”

“Uryu… block the voice?”

Vayne gestured Ulrika to come. Ulrika kneel in front of Uryu, beside Vayne.

“I’ll let the voice flow again, so do your best to block it. Ulrika, please hold Uryu.”

Ulrika nodded and hug Uryu. Vayne relaxed his hand in Uryu’s head and stand up.

“Here I go. Just think about Ulrika, okay.”

Vayne released his hand.

“U… Uuuuu…”

Uryu clench both of his ears and shut his eyes again in futile attempt to block the voices.

“Uryu!”

Ulrika hug Uryu tighter.

“It’s okay. I’m here. So it’s okay.”

Vayne sigh and bend down to Uryu again.

“Uryu, don’t close your ears. Listen to Ulrika. Ulrika is here and you’ll be fine. You have a splendid master. And you need to protect her at all cost. You are strong, but you can’t protect her if you keep your eyes and ears closed.”

Vayne speak softly to Uryu. Uryu hesitantly release his ears, but seems to struggling to do so.

“Good, now just focus on Ulrika and let the voice run in the background. Don’t pay attention to them.”

“Uryu…”

Ulrika whisper to Uryu. Uryu seems still struggling, but finally opened his eyes and float by himself.

“U… Uu!!!”

Uryu shout in determination, but still trembling.

“Uryu, you okay?”

“Uryu okay! Uryu will protect Ulrika!”

Uryu shout again, still trembling. He looks like about to cry any moment, but still trying to keep himself strong. It last for a moment, but he’s back to shut his eyes and ears close.

“Uu… It’s scary after all…”

“Uryu!”

Ulrika rush to hug Uryu again.

“I guess it’s only this far.”

Vayne get closer to Ulrika and she’s reluctantly release Uryu. Vayne stroke Uryu’s head again.

“It’s okay. It’s over now. You did well.”

“Uuu…”

Uryu slowly release his ears and floating, quite depressed. Vayne and Ulrika stand up from their position.

“Don’t be so down. Actually it went quite well for your first try. I expect worse.”

Vayne pat Uryu again to cheer him up.

“That should be all for now. There will be a lot people coming later, so Uryu should practice with them. They should held far less malicious intent than these guys, so it should be easier. Ulrika, please stay by Uryu’s side.”

“You don’t have to tell me!”

Ulrika pumped up at the idea of training Uryu. Uryu too seems to be more confidence. At this point, Vayne finally realized that the rest of them has been starring on him.

“Umm… What is it?”

“No, it’s just…”

Raze start, not being sure how to phrase it.

“... amazing.”

Ena continued.

“You just took off Raze’s ring and released those mana from the crystal that trap them for so long, and now you’re tutoring a mana.”

Lily and everyone else are impressed by what Vayne did just in the short time they met. Peperon seems like want to say something, but stopped by Goto and has been refraining himself from saying anything. But there’s no one to stop Et.

“As expected from the son of legendary alchemist!”

She doesn’t mean anything bad. Really.

“Et!”

Lily warned her even though it’s already too late. Et realized her mistake and shut her mouth immediately. Vayne looks shocked for a second and start laughing.

“Puh… Ahahaha… No, no it’s okay. Nikki should has tell you not to. It’s okay, really. I’m about to tell you guys about it anyway.”

It took him a few seconds to calm himself. The younger group seems to be relieved that they didn’t trigger anything bad.

“Before that, I’m going to explain how we will lift the academy up. You see, there’s a mana that has a power to grant wish. We’ll using that mana’s power as a catalyst to enhance Corr and other mana’s power to lift the academy while also handling the consequence of the disappeared ground and any other ecosystem below. That’s basically how it goes. Although in detail there’s more mana and alchemists involved in this project, but that’s the general idea.”

“Mana with a power to grant wish… Mana of Wish… Reicher said it’s the strongest mana.”

Raze repeated what he heard of Reicher and confirm it to Vayne.

“No, it’s not. The power to grant wish may seems to be amazing to ear, but in reality it’s nothing but a dangerous power if not managed properly. There’s also a limit on the wish the mana can grant based on how far the wish need to bend fate and reality. For example, it’s easier to revive a beggar no one knows than taking over a prefecture from their ruler even though reality-wise taking over a government is far more possible than reviving the dead. It’s an unpredictable power as we can’t know exactly how our wish would have an impact to the world.”

Vayne explained. Lily, Whim, and Goto seems to understand properly. Raze and Ena catching on nicely too. Ulrika, Et, and Pepperon are different case.

“Umm…ecosystem? Fate? Reality? I don’t understand.”

Et tilt her head from side to side.

“This big brother speaks difficult things.”

Pepperon fold his hand, seems not really bothered by the fact that he’s failed to understand.

“To put it simply… That mana is not all possible?”

At least Ulrika try to catch on.

“Well, yeah. To put it simply. That’s why we’re borrowing Corr’s power to lift the academy up instead of relying on mana of wish’s power to fix everything. And well… I was the mana of wish.”

“Eh?” “Huh?”

The younger group suddenly become more confused by his confession. Vayne put on a smile, somewhat sad, somewhat fragile.

“I’m not really Theophrastus Aurelius’s biological son. I was an artificial mana that he created with alchemy. In a way, I’m his ‘son’ as in his ‘creation’.”

“You mean… you’re a mana?”

Ulrika hesitantly ask.

“WAS a mana, right?”

Raze corrected Ulrika.

“You’re sharp. Yes, I WAS a mana.”

“But how can a mana stop being a mana? Is that even possible?”

“It’s the mana of wish’s power, right?”

Ulrika ask, continued with Lily. Vayne continued his story instead of answering directly.

“I always thought that I was a human, with this form and all. But one day an alchemist suddenly said that I’m a mana. I’m so confused that I lost the control over my own power and it went berserk and almost caused a disaster. Senpai, Nikki, and the others help me to get the power under control again, but I decide that I only want to live as a normal human I always thought I am. And so I used the power to erase my own power.

I was inspected after that. They said I’m not really different as a normal human being and let me go. But the power start to flow back to me after a few years, so I went to the world of mana to seek help from the wise mana kings. Dark Mana King told me that once born, a force can’t be erased. As long as the power keep flowing freely, they will always flow back to me because I am the vessel. The only way to keep the power from me is to put it into another vessel, or destroy the current vessel which means to kill me. But the power is so dangerous, and so I made a soulless container as a vessel and put the power there. It is the thing now known as the mana of wish. Currently I’m contracting with the vessel in case situation when the power is needed happen. Other than that, it’s sealed tightly in the world of mana. The seal is partially released for now in preparation to lift the academy, so I can use the power a bit. That’s how I set a new ‘rules’ on Raze’s ring.”

Raze gaze at his ring which Vayne use the mana’s power on. Most of them seems to be amazed by Vayne’s story, but Lily seems pretty conflicted.

“Hey… It’s not like I don’t want to believe you, but ‘Alchemy cannot create a living being’. From your story it seems you’re inspected by some professional alchemists, but this rule is still taught to us even now. If they know that it’s possible to create a living being from alchemy, this rule should has been revoked.”

“That’s one of the reason why I’m not very liked around. They either think that I’m lying or I’m not an actual living being. It’s not like I can’t understand why, though. There’s barely any research notes to back this story up. All left to proof this story is my existence as a mana, a badly written diary, an eyewitness who is already dead, and a lack of a woman who is supposed to be my mother. Actually I’m still not convinced myself, but I decide to believe it for now since there’s no other explanation. The council decide to keep the rules and not speak more about my condition until an actual solution is found.”

“I- I see…”

Lily seems to accept the explanation for now although she still a bit confused. They keep silent, keeping trying to get all the information in. Vayne sigh after a while.

“I said that’s one of the reason. There’s still another reason why I’m not very liked.”

They snap their head towards Vayne who suddenly talk. His voice seems to tremble a bit.

“I… killed Theophrastus.”

The younger group stare at him with wide eyes. Some not believing, some start to question within their head.

“It’s not funny if it’s a joke.”

Raze darkly said. One part of him is wary of the man before him. Another part of him want to trust this man he just meet.

“I’m not joking. He wanted to die, and so I grant it to him. It’s the only reason he created me after all. I didn’t understand that dying is such a big deal. On top of that, they mistook me for his son and tell me to keep living with the lie even after they know. Don’t you think it’s ironic?”

Vayne said bitter smile.

“Why are you telling us this?”

Lily ask. Not quite sure what to think.

“No big deal. You will know about this soon anyway since some alchemists are so keen on talking about this. I just prefer to tell you guys personally after hearing about the group of students who beat the Light Mana King from Flay-senpai.”

Vayne seems to be very bitter about this even though he act like he doesn’t care about this. Ulrika clench her hand and speak with a clear voice.

“I don’t think you’re a bad person. I mean, you’re helping Raze and the way you spoke to Uryu was so kind. I don’t think that kind of person is a bad person.”

“I might be pretending.”

Vayne challenged her with a cold eyes. Ulrika cower a bit, but then Lily step forward.

“But then there’s no meaning into making us doubting you by purpose.”

“It may be my real aim from the start, to get your sympathy.”

Goto raise his hand and calmly countered.

“We got here by that man’s request. He is a sharp man, I don’t think even you is able to fool him. And he’s not a man who will throw us into our demise.”

Vayne keep silent and just stare at him. Pepperon following Goto’s step.

“That man may be reckless, but he has an eye for person. I believe he won’t entrust us to someone he didn’t believe.”

Vayne didn’t manage to say anything, because Raze speak as soon as Pepperon is over with his speech.

“And those mana trust you. If those mana who keep grudge for centuries are able to trust you, I think I should try to.”

“Nikki-san trust you, and I trust Nikki-san.”

Et following right after Raze. Vayne finally drop his cold gaze and sigh.

“Really, it must be nice to be young. Thank you… for trusting me.”

Said Vayne with a smile.

“Say, do you guys has any wish?”

Vayne suddenly bring up. He feels curious gaze at him and hurriedly add.

“Well, it’s sort of a thanks for trusting me… or apology for your rough year… or reward for surviving the year? Sorry I can’t phrase it clearly, but yeah… I’m giving each of you a wish to be granted, so tell me your wish.”

Vayne offered again. The younger group become uncertain if it’s okay to take the offer or not.

“Umm… is it really okay?”

Ulrika hesitantly ask.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. I insist. Even though I said that, actually I’m going to use what will be left from Mana of Wish’s power after lifting the academy. It may not be much, but I think it’s still good enough to grant some simple wish like items, strength, knowledge, wealth, popularity, appearance, control, character, extended youth, going well with someone, or anything around that level. It’s okay if you don’t want to, I’ll think something else. Or you can join up to ask fewer, but greater wish. Ah, you don’t have to answer now. I’ll wait until the whole ceremony ends.”

The younger group already deep in their mind, thinking about what they want to wish for. Vayne smiled like he’s accomplished something, and speak again.

“It’s almost late, we should go back soon. I wonder if Nikki will be making dinner today… I’ll go back first, you can talk about it among yourself. Think carefully, okay? And go back soon.”

Vayne gestured to one of the eye creature that keep following them and disappeared back to the academy. The air suddenly shifted after he left.

“What we should do… about the wish?”

Ulrika ask first.

“What we should do… well, there may not be another chance like this. But I don’t really know what to wish.”

Lily start to wonder to herself. Whim playfully give her an advice.

“Milady, are you sure you don’t want THAT?”

“I see… there’s that way. He did said that it’s possible.”

Ulrika going along with Whim.

“WHA-WHA-WHAT!? WHAT ARE THE TWO OF YOU TALKING ABOUT!?”

Ulrika and Whim grin even more, enjoying Lily’s flustered face. On other side, Et is bothering Raze and Ena.

“Hey, hey what are you going to wish for?”

“I don’t really have any, so I’ll pass. He already solved my problem with this ring anyway.”

Raze answer, not really interested in the whole wish granting thing. Pepperon come up to them and pat Raze’s shoulder… which is pretty hurt. And annoying.

“It’s such a shame to pass on such opportunity. You should wish for something, big bro.”

“Even if you say that… And what about you? You seems to be pretty accomplished.”

Raze massage his shoulder where Pepperon give him a ‘pat’.

“Me? I’m going to ask to be cuter. Like master!”

Raze tried his hardest not to imagine anything. It’s fortunate for him that Et changed the subject to Ena.

“Ena~ What are you going to wish for?”

“Me? Nothing in particular. Maybe some good books about machinery or rare ingredients.”

“Ehh… so boring.”

“Don’t say boring. And YOU! What are you going to wish for? Don’t you dare to make some stupid wish.”

“I’m going to wish for a cool weapon! Or a major power up! Or...”

Ena wished that he never asked because Et is not showing any sign of stopping soon. And Pepperon got the nerve to join her. He do feel bad for dragging Raze with him.

Behind them, Ulrika is moving away from enraged Lily who is already in process of punishing Whim when she realized that Goto is being uncharacteristically silent.

“Goto? What’s wrong?”

“Hm? That man… he’s lying about something.”

This give him the attention of the rest of group.

“Eh? Vayne-san? Well, the whole artificial mana and mana of wish stuff are pretty weird...”

Ulrika doubt. Goto seriously answer her.

“No, it’s not about that. I don’t think it’s a lie, since it’s the key factor to the whole lifting the academy plan. And I think the beastman lady is not lying.”

“Then, what is it about?”

Curiosity taking over Lily’s anger, which is a very good thing for Whim.

“That’s what I can’t grasp.”

“So that’s why you’re so quiet.”

Ulrika conclude.

“He must has his own reason, I don’t think he’s a bad person anyway. Maybe he’ll talk to us if he trust us enough. Since he’s offered to grant us a little wish, we should take it for granted.”

Before any of them manage to say something smart, Et already beat them with her cheerfulness.

“Then, then, what are you going to wish for?”

“Hmmm… that too is a difficult question. Actually I’ve been thinking since then, but I still can’t choose between gryphon or phoenix for my new body. Maybe you can choose for me, young lady.”

“Phoenix is cool! But gryphon is cool too… ummm… that’s really a tough choice…”

“Right?”

“Do you even know what a gryphon or phoenix is?”

Ena retorted at his sister. They got back to their earlier mood soon after and start to mind their own business again, but not for Raze. He still can’t get Goto’s word out of his mind.

Meanwhile, Vayne arrived in academy first and walk towards the gate. Flay already waiting for him in the shadow.

“That’s a pretty cruel thing for you to do.”

“Whoaaa! Flay-senpai! You’re listening? From where? What about Anna?”

Vayne jumped in surprise at Flay’s habit for appearing out of nowhere. He still not used to it after all these years.

“Don’t sweat out trivial things. Let me tell you, whatever you’re planning on them won’t work.”

“That’s a pretty bad way to say it. It’s not like I have any ill means. I just want to see what kind of person they are with my own eyes.”

Vayne walk further passing the gate, Flay walk alongside him.

“And they way you say it makes me looks like a villain while you’re the hero… or hero’s mentor or something like that.”

“I am. One wrong move and they could slice each other’s neck. That won’t happen though. But that’s right… I’m getting bored being the big bad overlord here… Yep, we should trade place. I’m sure you could manage being a great villain too. No, you ARE a great villain already. And I’ll be the heroes’ master. The one who stand above all heroes. MWAHAHAHAHAHA”

“Please just leave me alone…”

Flay walk ahead, ignoring Vayne’s weak protest as he already know whatever he say won’t be enough to stop the elder man’s crazy idea. It’s not like he found the idea of being a villain seems to be interesting or anything. Nope. Not even a slightest.


 

Extra: Weirdest Thing

“Vayne-san, what do you think about Goto?”

Ulrika approach Vayne and suddenly ask.

“I think he’s a good man. And his pegasus body is cute too.”

“Well, don’t you find him weird or something? I mean, how can a man fit in that little plushie. Not to mention that he’s actually in the ball.”

Vayne’s smile froze for a second before answering.

“I… have seen weirder things.”

“Like what?”

“Let’s just say that outer space is a wonderful place I don’t want to see really often.”

Even Ulrika know the boundaries she doesn't want to step. They leave the topic at that.

Chapter Text

“Anna-san, who’s coming today?”

“Some other friends and faculty staffs. Zeppel-sen… the Principal will come back too.”

“Now I think about it, there’s no one else around beside us. Where did they go?”

“Council meeting. We’re in charge of watching this place.”

Ulrika, Lily, and Whim helped Anna preparing foods in kitchen while Uryu is sleeping near them. At first Whim insists that she will do twice the work and told Lily to relax. But Lily also insists that this is a necessary training to be a proper lady. And besides, she’s just helping. Whim reluctantly agree.

A few days has passed since they meet Vayne in deep ruins. Thanks to a certain someone, they barely has anything to do in the empty campus. Some of them decide to help the older group to do chores while some others are banned from doing so. Chloe and kitchen is something they want to avoid at any cost while Et and kitchen means disaster.

This morning Anna, who is in charge of kitchen today, told them to prepare more food than the usual since some more peoples are coming. It’s just occurred to them that the campus is unusually empty. They finally finished with their work after a couple of hours. Anna told them to go out and greet the guests and tell them to head to cafeteria soon while she finish the rest and watch over Uryu.

“So the Principal is coming… I wonder if Tony-sensei will come too…”

Ulrika can’t help but to miss her homeroom teacher since she’s back in the academy. But then she remember about Corona and start to feel sorry for him.

“It will be a lot noisier then. And it’s already noisy enough that it didn’t really occurs to me that we’re practically the only one around here.”

“The Vice Principal is really flashy after all.”

“And it’s not just him.”

Lily sigh at the memories of their few days here. It’s so bizarre with a beautiful song flowing along with some explosion mixed with the sound of metal clashing and a few more shout ...and scream. Most of them traced back to the infamous Vice Principal, while some others are their doing. From Chloe’s charm to Corona’s insult. It doesn’t help that Et likes to play around literally everywhere. Whim could only weakly laugh.

They arrived at the gate to greet the newcomers. But to their surprise, they didn’t found their teachers nor the Principal. Instead, there’s three women heading towards their way. Two women walk side by side while the other one is sitting in a wheeled chair.

The women in right has a long silver hair which slightly curled. The best way to describe her is she’s a beautiful woman in gothic style fashion. The woman beside her has a shoulder length blonde hair. She too is pretty beautiful and stylish with natural make up, nail polish, perfectly coordinated clothes, and stuff. The last woman sit in a wheeled chair pushed by the gothic lady. She has a long pink hair, loosely braided in two. She wear a plain light colored dress in contrast of the flashy two. While she can’t be compared to the beautiful women behind her, there’s no mistaking that she’s also very pretty in her own right.

They pretty sure that they never saw them before. Maybe beside the blonde woman. Ulrika swore she saw the woman in fashion magazine once or twice before.

“Uh… um… I heard the Principal is coming…”

Ulrika awkwardly begin. The three women exchange a confused glance for a moment. The pink haired woman clapped her hand in realization.

“Ah, you mean Zeppel-sensei! I forgot he’s the principal now.”

“I don’t even know he’s the principal.”

“Zeppel-kun is the principal? It does not suit him~”

The pink haired woman seems to be rather happy, the blonde woman is not really interested, while the silver haired woman sweetly insult him. Lily, Ulrika, and Whim just know that the three of them are related to the group inside. They just know.

“So, umm… the Principal?”

“It seems they’re still not here.”

The pink haired woman answer. The blonde woman sigh irritatingly.

“Means that stupid husband of mine is still not here too.”

“Husband?”

Lily, Ulrika, and Whim ask at the same time. The silver haired woman laugh softly.

“Ufufu. It’s Tony-kun.”

“Tony...kun… TONY-SENSEI!?”

Ulrika screamed. Lily is as surprised as she is… she’s just keep her reaction lower than her.

“So, so… you’re Tony-sensei’s wife?”

“I do heard that he’s already married… But I don’t think that he has such a beautiful wife.”

The blonde woman lightly laugh and stepped forward.

“My, my. I should at least praise him for not spreading his foul mouth to the students. I like sweet mouthed kids, you see. By the way, I’m Renee. Renee Eisler.”

The blonde woman introduce herself. The pink and silver haired woman following.

“I’m Jessica Philomele. Call me Jess, okay?”

“My name is Pamela Ibis. But please just call me Pamela.”

“I-I-I’m U-Ulrika Mu-Mulberry.”

Ulrika nervously introduce herself.

“I’m Liliane Vehlendorf. And this is my mana and personal attendant, Whim.”

Lily introduce herself and Whim. Whim lightly bow at the three women. Ulrika leaned closer to Jess.

“Jess-san I read your alchemy books! They’re so good! I never thought I could meet you in person!”

Ulrika excitedly declared. Jess smiled at her.

“You read them? I’m so happy.”

“You never thought? But Nikki-san told us a few days ago.”

Whim thoughtlessly said. Ulrika pout at her in mix of anger and embarrassment.

“I… I mean before that!”

They lightly laugh at Ulrika which make her pout even more.

“Nikki-chan is already here?”

Jess ask which is answered by Lily.

“Yes, she’s inside. Anna-san, Vayne-san, and the Vice Principal is there too.”

“Who’s the Vice Principal?”

Renee ask. Jess and Pamela laugh… quite hard.

“It’s Flay-senpai!”

Jess answer in between of her laughter. Renee gasp in surprise, but regained her composure quite fast.

“I see… Flay. Well it’s more believable than Zeppel-sensei is the Principal.”

To bad for Renee because neither of it is a joke.

“Maybe we should make Flay-kun the principal!”

Pamela happily declare out of nowhere. Renee laugh at Pamela’s “joke”.

“Then the academy’s long history will finally end in a blink.”

“We could put Vayne-kun or Roxis-kun as the Vice Principal! It will be fun!”

Pamela insists. At this point it’s already become a bit hard to say that she’s just joking. Jess laugh weakly and cut them short.

“I’ll pray for both them so it won’t come true. And it’s not good to ignore the girls.”

Renee and Pamela gasp and glancing at the girls apologetically.

“No, no! It’s okay!”

Ulrika waves both of her hand hastily. Lily simply smile knowingly.

“It’s okay. But before that, Renee-san, Jess-san, and Pamela-san…”

Pamela put her index finger in Lily’s mouth to shut her up.

“It’s Pamela, no honorifics.”

“Bu-but…”

“Pa-me-la.”

Pamela spell her name playfully. Lily is hesitating but giving up in the end since Pamela really insist to call her just by name.

“O-okay then… Pamela. Why don’t we get in first. It must be tiring to talk here, in front of gate.”

“Oh my, I don’t realize.”

Pamela gasped at the realization. Renee taking over the handle of Jess’ wheelchair and push it.

“We should get moving then.”

“I’ll wait for the principal group to come then. We've been told by Anna-san to greet them and tell them to head to cafetaria.”

Whim offered. Pamela smile sweetly at her.

“Let them be. They’ll come on their own when they’re hungry anyway.”

“Yeah, yeah. They’re men after all.”

“Okay then.”

Ulrika laugh it off and walk with them. Whim follow them without any complaint.

In a place a bit far from the academy, Raze and Ena walk together heading towards Learning Bridge.

“Sorry make you stick around with me. Stupid sis is lingering around the campus and I don’t want her to be anywhere near my stuff while I work on them.”

“It’s okay, I need a place to practice my swing anyway. And it’s a nice breather to be away from crowd for once.”

Just like Ena said, he need a place away from his sister to do some maintenance on his robotic arm, but it’s dangerous for him to do maintenance of his weapon in a place full of monster. So he ask Raze to go with him. Actually he also think about asking Yun, but he’s not so sure about Corona.

They walk together in silence. While it’s true that they don’t really have a common topic to talk about, there’s also a case where they doesn’t know what to say when they caught a certain silver haired man peeking from behind a row of barrels. Which is exactly now.

For starter, Raze decide to start with the basic thing.

“Vayne-san, what are you doing?”

Vayne step out from his hiding place and dust his pants and coat. He’s pretty dirty for some reason.

“Do you see senpai anywhere?”

“Vice Principal? Nope. Why?”

Ena lightly answer. Vayne sigh in relieve.

“I’ve been running away from him. That person really need to listen what others say more often.”

“What he did this time?”

Raze sympathetically sigh along with Vayne.

“He drag me out for a spar since 7.”

It was almost 10 AM the last time they check their watch when they leave Living Water Forest.

“You’ve been sparing with THAT Vice Principal for two hours!?”

Ena surprised. The last time they fight the said man, they could only last about one hour and half. And it was with the 10 of them (since Lily and Whim are basically counted as one).

“No, I mean... it’s 7 PM… yesterday. And he drag me out before I got a chance to get my dinner so I’m really hungry now. Senpai already ate when we spar and literally said [Beat me if you want some food]. And so I ran away.”

Both Raze and Ena really feel sorry for the man now. The Vice Principal is reckless, but no one they know ever had it until this far. But somehow they can believe that he really did it. They don’t know what kind of word should they give to the man, and so they just stay by his side for a moment.

“Can you guys talk somewhere else beside in the middle of road?”

A familiar voice called out from behind them. They turn their head to find a redhaired man carrying scythe and another man with long blonde hair and glasses.

“Tony-sensei!” “Roxis!”

All three of them called out at the same time.

“Why the hell are you kids doing this early? And what’s with this odd member? You’re the kid from Ulrika’s atelier, right?”

“There’s a slight mishap with… a lot of thing and they ended up arrived way earlier than expected.”

Tony ask and answered by Vayne. Roxis staring at both of Raze and Ena from behind his glasses.

“Students?”

“Graduated last year.”

Tony shortly answer. They took this chance to introduce themselves.

“My name is Ennarsia Dysler.”

“Razeluxe Meitzen.”

“Roxis Rosenkrantz.”

“We’re done with introduction, so let’s get going. I’m tired. Except if you guys still want to talk in the middle of road.”

Tony walk ahead without even waiting for their answer. Vayne shrug it off and followed him along with the others.

“Where’s Zeppel-sensei and the others? The meeting was already ended, right?”

Vayne ask Roxis since Tony doesn’t seems like in the mood to explain.

“Isolde-sensei is still holding off the Board Director. Naturally the Principal is also dragged along. By the way he said that it’s a shame that you’re not present in the meeting.”

“No way, they hate me.”

Vayne bitterly laugh. Roxis sigh and push his glasses upward.

“Not all of them.”

“The rest of them are mostly love to have me on top of their experiment table.”

“That… I can’t deny.”

Roxis admit. Sometimes he wish that this friend and rival of him would just stop to think so negatively. That part of him is still not changed at all ever since their student days, unfortunately. The difference is only he used to be so gloomy with it while he’s now really great at masking it with smile and laugh.

They passed the gate as they talk. A few step later, a presence suddenly appeared behind them. It’s no other than the Vice Principal, Flay Gunnar.

“Running away from fight like that and you call yourself a man?”

Flay smirked darkly.

“Running away is also a way to fight, is what Lorr-sensei taught me. And I’m hungry.”

Usually that phrase will get into Vayne. But not this time since he’s too hungry to even care about being a man or not. It’s a shame for him that Flay doesn’t looks satisfied.

“You just have to win.”

“Don’t ask the impossible, I’m saving my energy now. But if you insists, we can continue here.”

Vayne offers, fully intending on dragging some more of them. Tony play along with a burning spirit.

“Let me in. I can put resting behind if I got a chance to beat this guy to pulp.”

Tony joined Vayne’s side. Roxis seems to think whichever he should join one side or move to sideline. Then he looks at Vayne, Flay, and Tony. He’s pretty sure that they won’t let anyone walk out before the fight end.

“No choice, I’ll join too. I got some grudge I want to settle anyway.”

Roxis joined Vayne and Tony’s side. Flay looks really happy to have more challenger.

“Fine by me. Raze! You come here!”

Raze think for a second and walk to Vayne-Tony-Roxis team.

“Sorry, Sensei. I’ll join this side.”

“Traitor!”

“What!? You’re joining?”

Flay shout at Raze. Ena is surprised that Raze decide to voluntarily join the fight. He’s always with Ulrika, so he doesn’t know how Raze usually behave but it always strike to him that Raze is not the type to fight needlessly.

“In the end, he gave us the diploma after playing around for the whole morning. It still bothers me that I don’t get the diploma on my own. I already know that it’s impossible to win against him even with all of us, but maybe we can win this time. With this member.”

“Ah… the graduation chaos. But I get the point. I’d love to beat this teacher for once.”

It makes both Vayne and Roxis wonder what Flay actually do during the whole year to have his own student to hold so much grudge on him. And what’s with that graduation chaos anyway.

“Urghh… Fine! Bring it on!”

Inside cafeteria, the girls are chatting among themselves. Fully aware of the chaos outside.

“Um… is it okay to let the guys fighting outside?”

“It’s okay, it’s okay. Just let them be.”

Ulrika worriedly ask, but Nikki just lightly tell her to ignore them.

“Actually I’m pretty surprised that Et is still here…”

“The food is good! Lily, you should eat more!”

Et continue to get more food. Somehow Lily can accept the reason why that wild girl is still here and not jump into the fight like she always do. Lily stare at the pile of food and put her hand at her own stomach. Sometimes she really envy Et for being able to stay slim even with that appetite.

“No thanks.”

“Yun-san, you’re not joining?”

Chloe quietly put her coffee down and ask Yun.

“I’ll put Corona a lot of burden if I fight on my own. I don’t have enough reason to do that.”

“Is it that tiring?”

Ulrika barge in into the conversation.

“I feel pretty tired when Yun use his power.”

Corona indifferently say. Somehow Yun’s expression looks a bit sadder.

“On that point, Milady is really amazing. I could even revert to my original form once in awhile just to stretch my body and she’s not even tired.”

Corona suddenly stop eating and stare at Lily. Lily noticed and start to sweat, hoping that the girl won’t say anything… hurtful.

“I… It’s nothing.”

Corona quietly continue to eat, leaving a confused Lily.

“But is it really that tiring? Uryu use his power like crazy once and I don’t really feel it.”

“It’s because you still haven’t really contracted with Uryu.”

Chloe calmly state. Most of them look at Ulrika in surprised.

“You’re still not contracted with Uryu?”

“I just assume that you already contracted to him.”

One by one they voice out their surprise, almost in a same time.

“Uhhh… I’m not?”

“U?”

“You just keep him close ever since he was born.”

Chloe explained as Ulrika and Uryu are not aware about it themselves.

“Umm… is there any special ceremonies or something to properly make a contract?”

“There’s nothing special. We just need to make a link between the mana and the contractor. This is done from the mana’s side.”

Yun explained. Whim smiled softly at Uryu.

“I can’t be helped if Uryu-san doesn’t know how to. If it’s okay, maybe I can help to teach him. I don’t know if I can teach it properly or not though...”

“It feels pretty different from mana to mana, but I’ll help as much as I can too.”

Whim and Yun offers their help. Nikki gulp her food before speaking out of manner.

“Try to ask Vayne too. Maybe he can help a bit.”

“Ah, Vayne-san was a mana too. Did he had a master?” Lily ask.

“Yeah, a cool old man named Sulpher. He could be a jerk sometimes though.”

“For Vayne he’s more like a father or brother than a master though.”

“If I remember correctly, Suplher-san was Theophrastus’ traveling companion wasn’t it?”

“Ah, I heard that from Isolde-sensei. She also said that he’s the only one who watch over Theophrastus until the end too.”

Jess, Anna, and Renee add to Nikki’s short explanation, which is still so vague. It can’t be helped that they imagined a strict looking gentleman with a faint kind-looking smile.

“Sulpher-san… seems like a cool guy. Will he come too?”

Ulrika excitedly ask. Nikki, Jess, and Anna looks a bit uneasy with the question.

“Uhh… Sulpher-san is…”

“He passed away a few years ago.”

Anna took too long to answer and so Pamela finish it for her. Unlike Anna, looks like the idea of death is not really matters to Pamela.

“I’m sorry…”

Ulrika bow her head and apologize.

“Well, he’s really old after all…”

Jess answer sadly. Pamela pouted without any sad look at her.

“It’s a shame that he’s already gone when I went shopping for groceries. I though he can be my new friend...”

“New friend? And what… Pamela, you’re living with Sulpher-san?”

“Ahaha just ignore that part. Pamela is traveling with Vayne and Sulpher.”

Nikki hurriedly put the topic about Pamela’s friend aside and trying to make Ulrika focus on the other topic instead. Pamela put her right hand on her cheek and sigh.

“We travel here and there all the time, rarely staying at one place. I’m so tired sometimes.”

“I think it’s Pamela’s fault.”

Jess comment fall on deaf ear as there’s something more pressing matter to discuss.

“Umm… is that okay with Nikki-san?”

“I’m pretty jealous to be honest. But when I think about future, I believe it’s better that they get along from now.”

Nikki smiled bitterly, seems not noticing how wrong that come out.

“Punii puni puniiii...”

“[Her husband is making a future with another woman…] is what my sister said.”

“Sounds fishy.”

Puniyo and Chloe suspiciously eyeing both Nikki and Pamela. Nikki flushed and slam both of her hand to the table.

“No! It’s not like that! I mean… there’s a lot of adult reasoning!”

“Adult…”

Lily’s face become really red too, thinking about the possible ‘adult reasoning’ that happened between them.

“Uhh… that came out wrong too… how should I put it…”

“No need to worry~ It’s impossible for Vayne-kun to cheat~ I even seriously think that it will rain flames when I know that Vayne-kun is the first one among us to marry~”

In contrast to Nikki, Pamela took it lightly and laugh it off. Nikki instantly calmed and pity her husband.

“Pamela, that’s a pretty cruel thing to say.”

No need to say that everyone agree with her.

“Hey, hey! It seems that things escalated really nicely outside!”

Et shout from window. They’re too caught up with their conversation to notice that the fight becomes a lot more noisier. They walk to window to see how the guys doing. It seems Pepperon and Goto also joined on Flay’s side.

“It seems really fun! I’m full now, so I’m joining in~!”

Et opened the window and try to jump outside, but Lily pull her back into the cafeteria.

“Wait up! Don’t you dare to join in.”

“Yeah, we should stop them!”

Ulrika shout out, even though she is not sure how.

“Puni punini.”

“My sister is refusing to jump into that.”

“Nor me. Count me out.”

Puniyo and Nikki backed off from the deathly role.

“No way I’m doing it~”

“Me too.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t think I can handle it.”

Pamela, Renee, and Anna also backed off. Jess smiles and opened a window on her side.

“Then, leave it to me! Sylph!”

A wind mana appears and lift Jess from her chair with her wind. Ulrika stare at her in awe.

“You’re floating!”

“Yep. I might not be able to walk with my own feet anymore, but I still can move around and fight like this!”

Jess proudly say while making a little twirl in the air.

“A real slave driver if I may.”

Her mana sarcastically reply. Jess pout and flung a white pot-like bag with gold trim on her shoulder.

“Don’t say that! Come on.”

Sylph shrug her shoulders and fly after Jess who already took off to the sky.

Outside, the flame of war still raging. Vayne and Raze’s team is a bit losing at this moment. They may have advantage at number, but their lineup is a bit mess. Two magician, one close combat fighter, one support fighter, and one dying man while in the other team are two close combat powerhouse and one support fighter.

“Come on. Try a bit harder.”

Flay taunt them arrogantly even though he’s breathing heavily.

“Ugh… if only those two don’t interfere.”

Tony is already struggling to stand by leaning on his scythe. Raze already discarded his coat and vest aside, but keeping his glove on to have a better grip on his sword handle. Ena’s about to run out of ammo and his robot hand already scratched here and there even though he’s just finished the maintenance. Looks like he need to do another maintenance soon. Roxis is sweating hard and his usually tidy hair is a mess, but seems a lot more better than his other teammates. On other hand, Vayne looks the worst. He looks like ready to faint at any moment. On other team, Pepperon and Goto doesn’t looks like they can endure much longer, but Flay seems still can go for another hour or two.

On the heat of battle, a soft voice echoed from above.

“Everyone~ Lunch is ready from a long time ago~!”

Jess call out from above them. They stop their movement, but still ready to start another fight.

“That big sister is flying!”

“Ahaha… What a strange lady. At least she’s decent enough not to show her panties.”

Pepperon and Goto raise their head towards Jess. Well, Jess wears dress and she’s floating above them.

“Who’s that lady?”

“I don’t feel this is going to end up well.”

Ena questioningly gaze at Jess. Raze already moved backward in case something happen.

“Stop the fight or I’ll drop this!”

Jess pull out a black round object about thrice the size of head from her smaller bag. Don’t ask how.

“EVERYONE!! RUN!!!”

“RETREAT!!!”

Vayne and Flay scream at the same time. Some of them are confused, but decide to obey the warning. The others are already aware of the danger and fled.

“One~ Two~”

Jess drop the object without even waiting for their answer.

The explosion is something that will engraved in their mind for the rest of their life.

.

.

.

“Geez, to think that Raze also joined in that mess.”

“I’m really sorry, milady.”

Lily lightly scold Raze as she put a band aid on the wound on his forehead. The guys are pretty much alive, but wounded more than needed. The girls are currently treating their wound.

“It’s a good thing that you’re still alive.”

“Really.”

“I said I’m sorry.”

Yun and Corona joined on scolding Raze while helping Whim distributing the first aid supply here and there.

“That seems like a lot of fun! I should have joined in...”

“Maybe next time.”

“You really should! We’ll make an invincible team.”

Et, Goto, and Pepperon are having fun more than they should. Considering the amount of injured peoples.

“I could finally eat…”

“Is it good?”

“Very.”

Vayne (finally) munching on a sandwich happily while Nikki treat his wounds.

“Jess, it’s not good to drop a bomb on people.”

“Please shut up and let me treat you properly, senpai. From what I heard it’s all your fault in the first place.”

“Don’t sweat out trivial things. It was fun before the bomb.”

Flay unusually sit in a chair and let Anna treat him… not peacefully.

“Punii… Puniiii?”

“My sister is really worried about you.”

“Don’t worry, I got to escape really fast with the booster in my robotic arm. But damn… I need to fix that guy all over again.”

“Puniii….”

Ena manage to escape from the bomb farthest than anyone else thanks to his robotic arm that is currently overheated and need another repair right away.

“Okay, Roxis-kun~ It’s done~”

“Thank you. Sorry for the trouble.”

“It’s okay~ It’s partly my job anyway~”

Pamela put the remaining bandage back to the first aid box. Roxis exhale a bit loudly as he pushed his glasses upwards. It’s really a good thing that the glasses didn’t suffer any damage.

“Geez it’s almost 4 years since the last time I saw you, and you’re covered with wounds.”

“It’s one rare chance to beat up that damned man!”

“And yet you’re still losing.”

“Urgh.”

Renee reluctantly treating Tony, even though she also pour more salt at his wounded pride. If you ask Renee, she will say he’s cute like that.

After treating the wounded guys, they continue to eat together and chatting for another one or two hours.

“Fuaaaahh… So sleepy…”

Vayne let out a big yawn not too long after eating. Well, he skipped out sleep thanks to a certain someone.

“Don’t sleep after eating~ You’ll get fat~”

Pamela lightly reminds Vayne who already start to doze off in his seat. Roxis get up from his seat and lightly tap Vayne.

“Fat or not, you still have some documents from the meeting to check. Don’t sleep.”

“Eehh… Can I do it tomorrow? Why a random traveling doctor like me need to check council’s document anyway?”

“No, it’s urgent. And you know the most why you need to do it.”

“But I’m tired…”

Jess smile widely and pull a vial with some purple liquid.

“If you’re that tired…”

“Roxis! Where’s the documents!?”

Vayne suddenly get up from his seat, surprising most of the younger group with his sudden change of heart. Roxis softly smile, like he already know this will happen, and pull out a thick map from his bag and hand it to Vayne.

“Here.”

“Right, I’ll check it right away on my room. See you guys later.”

Vayne dashed out of cafeteria in hurry. The younger group just sent him off in silence and confusion.

“What was that?”

Raze ask, but no one really answer him. Roxis laugh darkly.

“Your medicine always do a good job, in a lot of way. You have my thanks.”

“What do you mean!?”

“Just what I said. Well then, I need to make sure he doesn’t sleep on top of desk. Please excuse me.”

Roxis walk out from the cafeteria, following Vayne. Jess pout angrily.

“Both Vayne and Roxis are such a meanie.”

“Umm…. Jess-san, what exactly is that?”

Ulrika finally ask. Her curiosity beat her fear.

“This? It’s just an energy drink. Want some?”

“Uhh… no thanks.”

Many call Ulrika stupid. Well, she’s a bit slow but she’s not THAT stupid. And she extremely value her own life, so no thanks.

“Okay then… Ah, Flay-senpai. You’re tired too, right? Have some!”

“I’m good. I’ll retire early since I don’t really have any job today.”

Flay calmly refuse Jess’ offer and stand. Tony angrily slam the table with his hand… which covered in bruise. He cringe and regret his decision to slam the table a bit.

“Damn you Flay! You still got a lot of work, don’t you dare to run away!”

“What can be done tomorrow will be done tomorrow. Farewell!”

Flay disappeared right in front of their eyes… like he usually did. Tony’s face become red in anger and he burst out from the room screaming.

“WAIT UP DAMN IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Renee sigh and get another first aid box.

“That guy is my husband… for once. I’ll make sure he’s not dead.”

Renee slowly walk outside. Her steady footstep echoed faintly and disappear into distance. No sign of running or hurrying up in general.

“... did that Vice Principal just run away…?”

Ena ask hesitantly. Still not quite believing what he just saw even though Nikki already told them about this before.

“He did.”

“He completely did.”

Goto and Pepperon continued. More amused than surprised.

“Amazing.”

Chloe quietly whisper to herself. Jess pout even more, if that possible.

“Why is everyone so mean to me?”

Chloe get up from her seat and walk to Jess.

“Jess… san? Can I have that energy drink? I’m interested to study it.”

“Sure. Here you go.”

Chloe took the vial and study it before carefully keep it with both of her hand.

“Thank you. I want to work on it immediately, so excuse me.”

“I’ll help!”

Chloe walk out followed by Jess who roll her own wheelchair. Silence turned into dread for everyone left in the room.

“Isn’t that bad…?”

Lily anxiously ask, basically just to acknowledge the elephant in the room.

“I thought so.”

“Really?”

Nikki answer nervously. Hoping someone would deny her. Anna is still unable to catch the danger.

“It is.”

Ena heavily sigh. Remembering what Chloe could do by herself.

“It’s not bad. It’s VERY bad.”

Ulrika already shaken in terror, remembering what Chloe could do even by herself.

The room became silent again. No one willing to stop them. Ulrika look around to see that they, even Anna, are as uneasy as she is. Ulrika steeled her resolve and stand.

“I’ll go. Uryu, please wait here.”

Ulrika put Uryu in table. Uryu looks at Ulrika with his big eyes.

“U?”

“Lily, Raze. If I don’t come back…”

Ulrika looks straight into their eyes with her own resolve. They understand that there’s no stopping her.

“I understand. Nothing will happen to Uryu.”

Lily return Ulrika’s resolve with her promise. Raze give her a smile to assure her.

“I’ll at least pick your bone.”

“Thank you.”

Before Ulrika manage to get out, Pepperon shout at her.

“Big sis, please reconsider!”

Ulrika stop and turn her head. Her hand is still in the door frame.

“Pepperon, it’s okay. She’s my friend and I’m partly responsible for what she did. And so I’ll stop her. As her friend. As an alchemist.”

Pepperon stay quiet, unable to convince her. Ulrika look at them for the last time and turn her back again.

“I’m off.”

Ulrika run off chasing Chloe and Jess. Uryu sway his head side to side, thinking on his own. Ulrika told Uryu to wait, but Uryu too has his own thinking.

“U! Uryu doesn’t wait! Uryu want with Uryurika!”

Uryu fly above their head and follow Ulrika.

“Ah, Uryu!”

Lily stand from her seat, trying to chase after Uryu. She already promised to Ulrika, and she’s not want to break her promise just yet. Raze stand in front of Lily, effectively stopping her.

“Milady, I’ll go get him.”

“But…”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be okay.”

Lily reluctantly drop back to her seat. She look straight at Raze.

“Promise me you’ll return to my side.”

It’s not a request, but an order. Raze smile at his mistress.

“I promise.”

And he rush out chasing Uryu.

From the other end of seat, Anna looking at them with wonder.

“I know it is bad, but is there really any reason to make it this dramatic? I know senpai’s invention may a bit dangerous, but she won’t purposely give something lethal to us.”

“That bomb is not lethal!?”

Ena’s protest fall into deaf ear as Anna continue without any interruption.

“And beside Chloe and Ulrika is a close friend, right? I don’t think she’ll die.”

“Punini puni puni.”

“My sister said that it’s important to go with the flow at time like this.”

“That’s right! Read the mood!”

Puniyo and Nikki answer Anna’s question. Anna, being a serious woman she is, actually considering their answer.

“I understand. I’ll be more careful next time.”

“Anna-chan is such a good girl~”

“Pamela-senpai, please don’t treat me like a kid anymore. It’s embarrassing.”

“It’s okay~ Anna-chan is always a little girl to me even when you turn into an old wrinkled grandma~”

“Give it up. Pamela is always like that.”

Pamela hug Anna from behind and pat her head like she’s a kid. Nikki amusedly look at them. It’s such a relieve to see that the adults are not that different from the younger ones. They interact almost like there’s no age barrier between them.

“So, what is so bad about this?”

Et ignorantly ask. Ena is about to launch a missile at this sister of him if his robotic arm is not broken. But missile or no missile, he still could have an argument with Et… or not.

It’s only midday, and yet another chaos already started.


 

Extra: Pamela

“Pamela, why are you insisted to be called without honorifics?”

Lily asked Pamela at one time. It still bother her that she actually called someone older than her without honorifics as it is rude according to her manners.

“Hmmm… I want to be friends with everyone without being that formal~”

“I see… I don’t really mind if you insist. But, pardon me for asking this, but isn’t it rude to call someone older than you like that? Like how you call the Vice Principal.”

“Flay-kun? Older than me? No way~! I know him since he’s just a freshman~”

“Eh!? I was so sure that you’re younger than him…”

“Really? You flatter me so much, Lily-chan~”

“Umm… It is rude to ask your age, right?”

“Yes, it is~ Lily-chan is a good girl, so she won’t ask, right~?”

“Yes, of course!”

She tried to ask the others about this and found no answer ‘till the end.