Chapter 127 – First Impressions
“We’re going to visit the Vice-Headmaster.” Lydia said, and Daichi could tell there was something a little off about the way she said it. A slight hint of delight in her voice like cat that caught the canary.
After a short walk, they reached the end of the hallway and stood before a large majestic door. It was over 8 feet tall and had a grand appearance. There was gold trimming around the door and an intricate design that made Daichi’s eyes water after staring at it for a few seconds. Daichi had to force himself to look away and shake his head before he could get the disorienting feeling to go away. ‘Not simple’ was all he could think. If even the door had patterns with seemingly deep meanings, it made Daichi think that perhaps he’d looked down on this place too much.
He adjusted his way of thinking and no longer had any arrogance within as he prepared to meet the man behind the door. Instead, having now fully prepared to tell his story, began thinking about what he might need to do to save himself should things go side-ways.
Lydia spoke up “Vice-headmaster, I need to speak with you face-to-face”
She only waited a moment before opening the door, making Daichi wonder why she entered without any acknowledgement.
What Daichi didn’t know was that she’d received a go ahead the moment she’d spoken. It was just that only she could hear.
After entering, Daichi followed behind and looked around in surprise. He’d expected the room to look as deplorably posh as everything he’d passed since entering this mansion only to find a very simple room. Although the ground was still a type or white marble, there were only a few simple wooden chairs, a simple wooden desk and a man sitting behind the desk looking at them with a serene expression.
The man wasn’t quite what Daichi was expecting, but it was only now that Daichi came too and realized that the man looked too serene. Every other professor he’d seen until now had a solemn expression and was clearly worrying about the loses during their exam. Daichi had surmised that whatever had happened, had happened on a large scale and was unforeseen. Therefore, he couldn’t understand how the Vice-Headmaster, someone who should have a high amount of authority within the academy could be taking such laid-back attitude and be doing nothing.
Lydia closed the door behind them and stood by the door without saying a word and Daichi stood next to her. He wasn’t sure the meaning behind her positioning, but he felt more uncomfortable by the man’s gaze than he did about being able to escape.
“You aren’t what I expected.” The words were said calmly and in a low voice but the voice was neither low or high, it was such an even pitch that made one feel at ease.
Daichi calmed his mind and no longer allowed himself to be intimidated by the old man’s gaze. He was originally only perturbed because nothing about the room or the man had been what he’d expected. Regaining his baring’s, his expression held his natural indifference within his own gaze as he stared back. “My name is Daichi Seishin, I’ve long since dreamed of entering the Lumea Academy. It’s quite an honor to finally get the opportunity.”
Daichi’s tone was neither weak nor strong, neither arrogant nor submissive. He knew he was currently being assessed by the man before him. While he didn’t want to come off as arrogant, he also refused to come off as weak. It was a fine lead to tread, but his indifference made it seem natural.
The serene expression remained unmoved on the man’s face. He continued to assess as he spoke “You’ve passed the exam. There is normally a preliminary exam, but it’s only purpose is to prevent the unqualified from throwing away their lives.”
“Then can I officially be considered a student here?” Daichi was probing, and asking the obvious question in the room. He already understood that if Lydia had made contact with him already, then he knew of Daichi’s ‘origins’.
With a gesture with his hand towards one of the seats “Tell me your story. Lydia, make us tea.”
Daichi was a little surprised that he would have a professor make tea for them. While it was perhaps understandable for her to do so for himself, but Daichi was merely a ‘student’. Even more surprising is that Lydia didn’t bat an eye, and this seemingly prideful woman merely left the room with that simple sentence.
Daichi only cast a quick glance at the door, his eyes not revealing a single thing as he moved towards the seat that was offered to him and began telling his story. He quickly retold the story of how his village was destroyed, that his entire village had been nearly wiped out and the survivors entered the forest seeking refuge. They’d been dwindled down until eventually there was only him.
Just like before, the way he told the story implied that generations later he’d been born. That these people had survived within the forest for over 100 years since the world changed. Daichi had made it his goal not to lie, he merely avoided speaking the entire truth and figured that should they make assumptions on their own it would be alright.
It was only as Daichi finished telling his story that Lydia re-entered the room with a tray with some cups and freshly made tea. The aroma was fragrant and Daichi’s eyes finally showed a reaction. Until now he’d been drinking nothing but water. Even as they’d been on the move and he’d entered the ranks of the group of participants undergoing the Lumea exam there’d been nothing but water.
The corner of his mouth twitched and as the smell drifted into his nose he couldn’t help but salivate over the tea which made Daichi uncomfortable. He’d always enjoyed tea, but never to the degree that he would drool!
Luckily for him this natural reaction helped sell his story even more. These small inklings of change were naturally noticed by the old man before him. He slowly bent over and poured himself some tea as he began taking slow measured sips as he processed the information Daichi had told him. They sat in silence as the man’s gaze was unfocused and was seemingly doing nothing but genuinely enjoying his tea!
Minutes later he finally broke the silent tension in the room “I believe it is as you’ve said. I truly don’t believe your lying… It’s also not as if we’ve had any intruders within our walls. It is merely that it is hard to believe that you are from outside the scope of our city’s reach. I don’t know whether to be happy or sad by your arrival.”
Daichi didn’t take more than a second or two to put himself in their position and understand the meaning behind his words. If he were the leader of a group in a city, after being unable to meet anyone and becoming a secluded civilization. The sudden emergence of people from the outside would make them joyous. Realizing that after such a natural disaster there were indeed survivors, other humans within the world would be wonderful news! Except Daichi’s situation was unique. He proved that not only had people survived, but that other people could have indeed survived. Unfortunately, he was alone, it wasn’t as if he was from another city or group of people. He was alone and that was also disheartening.
Meanwhile the man before him was thinking the opposite. He was putting himself in Daichi’s shoes as he considered what it would be like to be a young man or small group of people who survived such a disaster. Alone with no one else except for the few people they had, surrounded by danger constantly in an unending forest hoping to see the light of day and reach the end of the forest in any direction. If what Daichi said was true, then perhaps his entire life until he’d become the last of his group he’d only ever known a handful of people his entire life. These thoughts crossed his mind as his sipped his tea.
Daichi felt like he was on the right path, the man before him seemed like an enigma but it didn’t seem to Daichi as if he believed he was lying. He felt as if he was close to being able to ensure his safety within the city and could enjoy the freedoms everybody else had within and only an inch away. Suddenly coming to this point, he had an idea. He briefly considered it, before finally voicing his thought.
“I did not mention this before. I didn’t know whether it would be relevant or not… But my… My distant relative… Wrote a book that was once considered worthy of being stored within the Lumea library. This was of course, over a hundred years ago before the incident, and when the portals still connected my home town to Lumea.”
Daichi hesitated but eventually decided to go for the final blow. He didn’t know how much it would take to be given asylum within Lumea but he knew that this could at least prove some part of his story.
After hearing his story, the old man finally put down his tea cup. There was no longer a drop remaining but his expression hadn’t changed much throughout.
Finally, after seemingly another long silence, he turned to look at Lydia with the same unchanging expression. “How’d his aptitude?”
Lydia responded immediately, “Although he has plenty of room to grow, I can say with certainty that his potential is greater than any one else in this exam. I could possibly even say, that is ability is already on par with the lowest leveled guardsman.”
Daichi’s eyes merely glanced at Lydia but inwardly he was frowning as he considered her words. ‘Why is she giving me the lowest evaluation? My potential is merely the highest among the others?’
Even if he didn’t mean to be, after the amount of time he’d spent by himself comprehending nothing but mana. Daichi had grown sure of himself and his abilities. He was more than confident that he was already a force to be reckoned with, and while he still needed time to develop a lot of the things he’d spent time pondering on and how to apply them, he was certain he deserved a better evaluation than he was being given.
“What is your relative’s name?”
Daichi responded with only a moment of hesitation “Seiichi Seishin”
After giving him another quick once-over he responded to Daichi
“I will be back. Look after him” the old man got off the chair and left the room quite briskly. His movements were slow and measured but he moved in a way that seemed to beguile his age.
Daichi sat there feeling uncertain of where he stood. It was rare for him to feel so unsettled. It was just as rare for him to have a conversation and have been the one to clearly speak out more than the other.
After leaving the room Stanislas was in deep thought.
His mind was racing with possibilities. After Lydia had brought Daichi back his entire mind was a lit with a flame of passion. If Daichi was truly not from Lumea, then it would be a huge turning point.
‘Perhaps he can be a catalyst that will help me turn the tides and convince the others that it is indeed time to expand, to move out, to finally begin our search for the Queen.’