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Chapter 24: Preparations
When the quest completion award popped up, I was quite surprised. I hadn't expected to complete it so soon, especially considering I had wiped out the Black Lion Organization before they could unleash terror on the academy. I wondered if it was because my swift action had prevented their malevolent plans or if they were already harming innocent people in the shadows. Regardless, I figured all's well that ends well.
Turning my attention to the side of my bed, I noticed Meralda still sleeping. I couldn't help but wonder if spirits even needed to sleep, and why had she chosen to sleep next to me, given her apparent disdain for me. freewebnove(l).com
"Hey, Meralda, wake up," I called out.
Despite my attempts to rouse her, she refused to awaken. I tried shaking her shoulder, but she remained in slumber. Then I noticed her ears turning red.
"You're awake, aren't you?" I teased with a smirk.
Her body flinched, but she stubbornly kept her eyes closed. I prodded further, intrigued by her reaction.
"Are you embarrassed because you slept right next to me or something? Are you a kid?" I continued to tease.
Meralda finally couldn't take it any longer and sat up, her face completely red.
"What? No! I was just trying to find a comfortable place to sleep last night, and it just so happened that your bed was the perfect spot. Its soft texture and the boun—ugh, why am I explaining this? Anyway, yes, it's just because your bed was the most comfortable," she stammered, attempting to clarify her situation.
"Right," I replied with a grin. "I don't really mind, but do you even need sleep? You're a spirit, aren't you?"
"I don't actually need sleep, but I do it as a sort of hobby," Meralda explained. "And sleep actually allows us spirits to absorb nature energy faster."
"So, hanging saliva on your mouth is part of increasing your spirit energy too?" I teased, laughing.
Meralda's response to my teasing was swift and painful. She told me to shut up and fired weak green energy beams at me. I winced in pain as one of the beams grew larger grazed my head, leaving a small cut. Did this girl seriously try to kill me just now?
Despite the pain, I couldn't help but laugh at the sight of Meralda, who was now limping on the ground.
"Attacking your master immediately invokes punishment, you know?" I taunted, continuing to laugh as she looked at me with disdain.
Meralda's eyes burned with frustration, and she struggled to stand up. It seemed she had underestimated the consequences of her actions.
However, despite her annoyance, I couldn't deny that there was a hint of amusement in her eyes, as if she found our banter strangely enjoyable. This spirit was definitely something else.
"Hey, Adrian, I thought you were heading to your class now."
I nodded in response, saying, "Well, yes, I am, but I have to buy something on the way first."
We were currently strolling through the commercial district of the academy. I had given Meralda the excuse of needing to make a purchase, but in reality, I was trying to find and establish some kind of connection with a certain someone who would be important in the future events of the story. If I could get to know her early on, it would undoubtedly expedite my plans.
I scanned the bustling commercial district from side to side, occasionally stopping to buy some food from the stalls, but still, there was no sign of her. Had I searched for her too early? According to the novels, she began helping people in need during this time. As I became increasingly convinced that I wouldn't find her today, I decided to give up and head to class. Just as I was about to turn around, though...
I bumped into someone, and they fell to the ground. Seriously, what was it with me always bumping into people on these streets?
"Are you okay?" I asked, extending my hand to help the person get up.
The hooded girl replied, "Ah, yes, I'm fine," as she stood up and brushed off the hem of her long robe. "I'm really sorry; I wasn't looking where I was going."
"No need to worry," I apologized sincerely. "I should have been more careful."
"Oh, there's no need, kind brother," she said gracefully, clasping her hands together.
"I'm sure you didn't mean it. I'm sure the Goddess has already forgiven you for your kindness in offering me a helping hand. May the Goddess be with you always, kind brother." With a slight bow, she continued on her way, not giving me a chance to respond.
I couldn't help but smile. I had finally made the connection I wanted. It was nice to meet you, dear saintess. I chuckled slightly to myself before heading on my way to class.
As I continued my way to class, I couldn't help but smile to myself. Meeting the saintess, even if it was just a brief encounter, had given me a sense of accomplishment.
I knew that establishing a connection with her would be crucial for my future plans, and I was already brainstorming ideas on how to make it happen.
Should I create a fake scenario that would require her my assistance? Or perhaps I could find a way to naturally cross paths with her again? The possibilities seemed endless, and I chuckled to myself as I thought of all the schemes, I could employ to get closer to her.
However, my moment of triumph was interrupted when I noticed Meralda's disapproving look. She was giving me a disdainful expression, and I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow in response.
"What?" I asked, genuinely curious about her reaction.
Meralda sighed and rolled her eyes. "It's nothing, really. It's just that your smile is… well, let's just say it's not the most attractive thing I've ever seen."
I blinked in surprise, not expecting such a candid remark. Then, I burst into laughter, unable to contain my amusement. "Really? My smile is that bad?"
Meralda nodded, her expression unyielding. "Yep. You might want to work on that."
I chuckled even more at her bluntness. "Well, thanks for the honesty, Meralda. I'll keep that in mind."
Despite her critique, I couldn't help but feel a sense of contentment. Life at the academy was becoming more intriguing with each passing day, and I was determined to make the most of every opportunity that came my way, ugly smile and all.
"Good morning, Jasmine."
"Hey, did you know yesterday—"
The alchemy department's students greeted each other with warm smiles and casual chatter as they filtered into the classroom.
The atmosphere was brimming with happiness, and the camaraderie among the students was palpable. It was a beautiful and heartwarming testament to the joys of school life. In this classroom, friendships blossomed, knowledge was shared, and each day held the promise of exciting discoveries in the world of alchemy.
As the students continued to relish their youthful days, one individual remained fixated on a specific student's return.
"Where is he? Is he coming back today?" Euphemia's thoughts raced. For the past two days, her mind had been consumed by questions about Adrian's absence. While some might see her curiosity as rude, Euphemia was simply clueless rather than disrespectful in such matters.
She couldn't shake the strange feeling that Adrian was being dishonest, perhaps conducting secretive experiments elsewhere. She also couldn't help but notice how Adrian had actively avoided her whenever they met.
Euphemia sat by her desk, her gaze locked on the classroom door, checking her watch repeatedly in the hopes that Adrian would make an appearance. The minutes seemed to pass at an excruciating pace, and with only three minutes left before classes were set to begin, Euphemia's hope waned. Yet, she patiently continued to wait, longing for Adrian's return.
Then, their teacher's voice cut through the room as he entered. Euphemia's shoulders slumped as she began to lose faith in Adrian's arrival. The teacher's greeting was met with the students' replies, but Adrian was notably absent.
"Good morning, everyone," the teacher announced, starting the class. Euphemia's anticipation waned further.
However, just when it seemed Adrian wouldn't show, he suddenly appeared, slightly out of breath, but determined.
"Good morning," he called out to the teacher, his voice filled with relief at making it in time. The teacher reprimanded him for his tardiness but allowed him to take his seat.
"Oh Adrian, you're lucky you made it with just a minute left. Take your seat," the teacher reprimanded, his tone stern yet not devoid of understanding. Adrian let out a relieved chuckle and nodded, quickly moving to occupy his usual spot in the classroom.
Euphemia couldn't help but notice that Adrian looked slightly disheveled, as though he had rushed to get to class. She wondered what might have caused him to be late and why he had been absent for the past couple of days. Her curiosity burned even brighter, and she decided that today she would attempt to approach him and find out the truth.
"Thank you, professor," Adrian said with a sheepish smile as he settled into his seat. Euphemia couldn't help but feel her heart skip a beat the moment she saw him, but she couldn't quite explain why. It was one of those curiosities that would linger in her mind, a puzzle she would find herself trying to solve in the future.
'Phew I made it'
As I rushed to make it on time for my class at Estelle Hall, I couldn't help but feel the pressure of balancing my responsibilities. On one hand, I had my studies and the upcoming joint training exam, which I needed to excel in to maintain my reputation and position at the academy. On the other hand, there were the mysteries surrounding this world and the mission the bitch goddess gave me.
While it was tempting to use Meralda's abilities to fly me to class and save time, I knew that it wasn't the right moment. Flying during the day would draw too much attention, and I wanted to keep Meralda hidden until she was truly needed in the upcoming challenges, especially during the joint training exams having her as a hidden trump card is a plus, so, I made my way to class on foot, trying to blend in with the other students.
As I entered the classroom and looked for my seat, I felt a peculiar sensation, as if someone's gaze was fixed on me. I turned to my right and found Euphemia, her deep green eyes locked onto mine. It was an intense and penetrating stare that made me momentarily uncomfortable. I quickly averted my gaze and took my seat, trying to shake off the feeling.
Despite my best efforts to concentrate on the upcoming class, my mind kept drifting back to Euphemia's gaze. What had I done to earn such attention? We had interacted before, but nothing out of the ordinary. Her sudden interest in me was puzzling, to say the least.
I couldn't resist stealing another glance in her direction. This time, she greeted me with a warm and friendly smile that caught me off guard. Could she really smile like that? It was a smile that radiated kindness and warmth, making her look even more attractive than before.
I shook my head, trying to push the thought aside. While Euphemia was undoubtedly a beautiful woman, I needed to focus on my studies and the challenges ahead. The mysteries of the world and the secrets of the goddess wouldn't solve themselves, and I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to uncover it.