B1 Chapter 17 – Price of Conceit

“Hasen.” Kaidus spoke to the entity in front of him.

“Yes… master…” it replied back, voice raspy and intangible.

“Where is Vishan?”

“I… do not know…” The figure of smoke replied.

“What about Zion and Feziel?”

“I… do not know…” The same reply.

“Did you know I would return?” He finally asked a more reasonable question.

“Yes…”

“Why did I return?”

“Me…” A swift answer. One of the many answers he had been looking for.

“Explain. NOW.” Kaidus demanded.

“Your will… my life… death… impossible… we two… must die… together… only way…” as cryptic as the explanation was, the main points were there.

“… Is it the same case with the others?” Kaidus asked curiously.

“No…”

“Hasen, you must explain. I cannot understand when you do not.” Kaidus spoke to the entity, his voice calm.

“By your will… master… gifts… bestowed… each brother… their own… mine… life… as long… as I live… you will always… return… while you live… I cannot… perish…” The entity gave a broken explanation.

‘That explains why…’ He silent reasoned, trying to give answers to previously unanswered questions with the onslaught of information he had just received.
“Do the others also know that I am back?” he spoke up after a silent moment, having sorted his thoughts.

“I… do not know…” The smoky figure replied. “I… was the first… my connection… strongest…”

“You should have known I’ve been back for years. Why call to me now?” Kaidus inquired.

“Knowledge… yes… connection… impossible… Lagus… link had to be… re…established…”

“I see…” By tapping into Lagus for his summoning class, he had restored the link he had with Hasen, and possibly the others.

 “Tell me, what has happened while I was gone?” he asked Hasen.

“I… do not know… master…”

An expected answer.

Gritting his teeth, “What of Lovik?” Kaidus slowly spat out.

“The… ancient one… slumbers… awaiting his… freedom…”

Kaidus’ anger flared up for an instant, yet it disappeared just as fast. Having spent an enormous amount of time and mana to summon Hasen from wherever he had been, the time for his 3rd class was quickly approaching. It was not the time to be infuriated. “Stay here. I will be back.” He directed.

“I… cannot comply… sense… magic… too long… have I waited… must protect… master…”  Hasen refused. The ever loyal protector.

“Then disguise yourself. I do not wish to be carrying around a weapon.”

Hasen’s form dissipated, and the dagger began shining and shrinking. Once the brightness died, in the dagger’s place was a small plain black ring.

Putting the ring on, Kaidus left his room and proceeded toward his next class: Subjugation.

 

 

Unlike the previous summoning class, subjugation had a good amount of students— around twenty in all.

Four of them he recognize from both his arkane and summoning classes.

Having gotten there before the subjugation master, some of the students looked at him oddly as he moved past them to a seat by the back of the room. Looking around the lecturing hall, his eyes caught the young man who was in his summoning class. The student was surrounded by a group of others, and they were all looking back at him.

“They… mock you… master…” the ring echoed in his head.

“It is of little concern. Let them do as they will.” He replied silently.

One of the female students who had been sneering at him caught his line of sight and stalked over to Kaidus—as the other students made silent cheers. The girl looked to be in her late teens. She had beautiful green hair braided into a style he had not seen before, her body was slender, yet had generous proportions where it mattered. He could see she was a beauty at once.

“You must be Kaidus, Lord Ravon’s little Paragon.” The student spoke, her smirk prevalent.

“I am Kaidus. Lord Ravon is my patron.” He gave her an honest reply while looking her in the eyes. She had green eyes that matched her hair.

There was no use hiding the fact that Lord Gelrin Ravon was his sponsor. He had deduced that a good portion of the academy already knows, or that they knew a powerful Lord was behind his admission.

Irritation surfaced on her face. A tip of the mouth, a slight of the eye, he caught them all in an instant before they vanished.

“I am Prim Ashlin Lithius, of the proud Lithius house of Mages that serves directly under his majesty King Sarjace. Second daughter, and third child to attend this prestigious academy.” Prim spoke out her title and family, then leaned in close to him. “I heard about your deficiencies earlier in your summoning class. You would do well to stay out of our way… peasant.” She warned, her last word filled with malice.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance.” Kaidus replied, his voice calm and undeterred.

Seeing his conduct antagonized her even further.

“You will learn your place soon enough.” She smiled a beautiful smile as she spoke those words, before heading back to the group of students.

‘Master…’ the ring reverberated in his head.

‘Stand down Hasen.’ He whispered back.

‘The wench… dares to… threaten… you…’ It continued.

‘Enough.’ He ordered.

‘Yes… master…’ Submitting, the ring went quiet.

It was not long before the subjugation master arrived and class was underway.

The master had lectured about the necessity of immobilization and its versatilities, demonstrating one of the various ways to immobile a person by using vexatious students as demonstrations.

It was now group practice, and the master was pitting them against each other.

“I don’t think I need to remind you—having already done this plenty of times already. But, just to be sure, NO offensive magic. As usual, the practice will be elimination. You will get points depending on how many of your opponents you immobilize, and my assessment of their strength.”

“Master Keral, what about the new student?” a male student asked.

“Kaidus will sit out this time to get a feel for the practice. As usual, we will start with miss Lithius first.” Master Keral replied. “Prim!”

“Yes master!” The girl eagerly spoke as she came forward.

The practice was a one on one duel in a separate room right next to the lecture hall.

There was an elongated oval made out of wood in the middle of the room—where the duelists would compete.

The practice encompasses spell incantation, invocation speed, strength of the spell, and most importantly: control.

While speed and strength of the spell came into play, it was the amount of strength put into application of the spell—by the user—that is the most crucial. Too much power, and your opponent could be permanently damaged. Not enough, and the duelist would be unable to resist his opponent’s magic.

Like a flame. Feed it just enough while properly stoking it, and your meal will be cooked to perfection. Too much fuel, and the pyre will swallow everything whole leaving nothing but charred remains.

Having given the class the incantation for a simple paralysis spell, master Keral ushered Prim and a girl onto the stage.

“Looks like you are out of luck this time too Shesal.” Prim spoke, grinning at the other girl.

“I’ll definitely have you on the ground begging at my feet this time, Prim.” The girl Shesal replied back jovially.

“Enough talk you two. Begin!”

“Asiran! Notis valian shis-!” Shesal voiced her incantation out loud, while at the same time, prim was silently muttering hers.

Suddenly Shesal’s incantation stopped and she started twitching. She dropped down on the ground and began writhing and convulsing, trying to break free of the binding. A couple seconds later, the movement stopped. She had given up.

Some of the girls cheered while many clapped.

‘She’s good.’ Kaidus thought to himself, having witnessed the spectacle.

Prim’s magic had power and control behind it. The speed was also quite fast.

“Next, we’ll have Ryker take on prim.” The master spoke, having unbound Shesal from her constricted position.

“HERE!” the student called out as he walked out of the audience onto the stage.

Kaidus watched as Prim easily took down her opponents one by one. Overall, half of the class had already lost to her undefeated streak.

“You guys. What have you been doing outside of class?!” Master Keral yelled at the students.

“…” no one spoke up.

“You all need more practice! I had thought at least by the 5th one, you would have taken Miss Prim off of her streak. And here 14 of you, single handedly defeated! How did you go from 8 last time to 14 this time?!”

“Even if you say that… Prim is just too strong…” a defeated boy quietly spoke.

“Enough of the excuses! You are all in this class because all of the masters have deemed you adequate. Don’t even dare try to give me an excuse like ‘she’s just too strong’. You all just lack practice and commitment!” an angry tirade came out of the master and the boy went quiet. “Any volunteers to take on Prim?” Master Keral asked, looking at the group of students who had not yet had a turn.

“Master.” Prim spoke.

Everyone turned to look at her.

“I’m sure Kaidus has had enough of spectating? Surely any member of the Academy would understand the rules and conducts for this practice by now.” she spoke genially.

“Hmm…” Pondering about the idea, Master Keral looked at Kaidus.

“We all already know that Lord Ravon was the one who made the exception for him into Zorin. All of us are exceedingly curious about his abilities. You said so yourself, ‘we are all here because we have been deemed adequate’, won’t you allow us this chance to see Kaidus’s abilities?” Prim spoke coyly.

“All of you?” Master Keral looked back at her students. Everyone nodded at him. “Ha… so much for keeping that under wrap.” The master gave a defeated sigh and turned to Kaidus. “Kaidus, will you please join Prim in the exercise?” He himself was quite eager to see the potential of the one who the Lord Knight Commander had hastily admitted into Zorin.

“Of course.” Kaidus voiced as he stepped forward from the audience.

“Don’t go and have a panic attack this time.” A boy jeered out.

“Do you at least remember the incantation?” One of the Kovus boy’s asked.

“Go easy on the kid, Prim.” One of the girls chimed in.

“SHOW HIM NO MERCY!” Another one yelled out.

Walking into the arena, Prim’s gaze was on him the whole time. ‘So this is what she meant by “you will learn your place”…’ He thought to himself. A conniving grin appeared on Prim’s face as he took his position and turned to face her.

“Both contestants ready?” Master Keral checked.

“YES!” Prim exclaimed excitedly.

“Yes.” Kaidus spoke.

“Begin.”

As soon as the signal came, Kaidus extended his left hand toward Prim.

The room stopped. The duel was over.

Prim was solidly frozen in place. Her mouth never even had time to mutter a single line of the paralysis incantation.

She was so firmly in place, that even her eyes were unable to blink.

Kaidus lowered his left hand and calmly turned to look at Master Keral for the duel’s conclusion.

“What’s going on?” The onlookers asked each other, unable to explain what just happened.

“W-winner. Kaidus…” Master Keral spoke, his voice filled with fear and awe.

‘Incredible…’ In that instant after he had signaled to begin the duel, a single blast of condensed mana erupted from the child—following along his outstretched arm and assaulted Prim. There had been no invocation or anything, his magic had been perfect. Every single ounce of the mana employed had been solely towards the complete immobilization of Prim.

The paralysis magic itself was leagues beyond the simple incantation he had relayed to the class. Even he himself—a Malgin—would have taken time to invoke such a spell, whilst the child did it without speaking a single word.

‘A Malizur…’ he thought to himself. But in the depths of his mind, he remembered the legendary mages of ages past whose title has fallen into obscurity. Mages who bound spirits to their wills as easily as breathing. Sorcerers who wove and shaped the world. Tyrants who overthrew Kingdoms with their extraordinary strength. Warlocks who enslaved continents. Enigmas with the power to establish their own kingdoms.

‘Dvitus…’ The word rang sharply in his head.

“Class dismissed…” He called out, requiring time to calm down and collect his thoughts. All the students had puzzled looks on their faces. Kaidus made a curt bow toward him and simply walked out of the room.

It took Keral a combination of three advance incantations to unbind the frozen Prim.

 

 

“UNFORGIVABLE! UNFORGIVABLE! UNFORGIVABLE!!!!!!” In her room in one of the female boarding house, Prim loudly cursed Kaidus.

Born from a family with exceedingly good magical pedigree, she was the youngest of five children and had the most overwhelming amount of mana. She had awoken to her powers two years prior at the age of 15, and after having developed her magic to an extent via a home teacher, enrolled into Zorin Academy the previous year.

Establishing herself as a formidable student, she was quickly elevated to the intermediate courses after only a single year in beginners.

She was always one of the top, if not the top student in all of her classes. Especially in subjugation, she was unrivaled ever since the beginning of the new term. But, as abruptly as she rose to the top, some nobody had come and toppled her out of her position.

When the match started, glaring at him, she had caught his eyes. In that instant, a deep fear gripped her and before she knew it, she was already frozen.

She had been powerless in his binding. Unable to even cry out at the humiliation. She had tried a counter immobilization-cancel like those her elder siblings had taught her, even attempting an offensive ice spell in her desperation, but her mouth had refused to invoke the incantations.

The humiliation she had to suffer through as he walked out of the class like it was none of his business. The snickering of her classmates as they watched while the master carefully undid the bindings.

“CURSE HIM!! NEVER! I WILL NEVER FORGIVE HIM!!” She screamed.

 

 

Four days later, and word had started to spread.

Having taken down Prim, the students from the subjugation class was keeping their distance, and whispers were flying around.

Mirat caught him between one of his classes yesterday and asked him about it.

Having confirmed the rumors, Mirat had warned Kaidus that Prim has lots of friends in high places, and that she may retaliate.

There had been many looks of aggression, but no one had opted to come out and openly assault him.

Possibly until today.

“Can I help you?” He spoke to his stalkers.

Ever since the first day where he defeated Prim, there was always two presence following him out of his room and to his classes.

He had decided to confront his stalkers today. Turning the corner of one of the practical buildings to get out of sight of other people, he stood there waiting until his pursuers thought him far enough to follow.

“Uhk!” the boy made a noise, almost bumping into Kaidus.

There were two of them. A male and female student. Both of them were students in his subjugation class, and Kaidus knew them to be of Prim’s inner circle.

“We… we want you to tell everyone the truth!” the boy screamed, a tinge of hesitation and fear in his eyes.

“What truth?” Kaidus replied, uninterested.

 “That you cheated.” A prompt reply by the female student.

“The truth is, we had a practice duel and I won.” Kaidus replied, calmer than the two who confronted him.

“We know you cheated! There’s no way a commoner brat like you could have bested Prim in a contest of magic!” the female answered, anger and accusation in her voice.

‘…master…’ The ring resounded in his head. Kaidus paid no mind to it. “Do you have proof?” he inquired.

“…” Yet the two students had no reply.

“If there is no proof of foul play, then please do not falsely accuse me.” He rationalized before turning and walking away.

After a good distance, he hears –

“Your defeat is proof enough!” the girl shouted.

Looking back, a raging torrent of flames was storming toward him.

It was a combination attack and swirling about the flames, was a wind spell. Encircling the fire and keeping it from diffusing into an area, the wind spell directed both attacks straight at him.

A wall of smoke exploded out of the ring on his finger and shielded him.

Before the flame and wind could strike Kaidus, the wall of smoke had swallowed it.

“YOU… DARE…AT MY MASTER…” the cloud had formed into a figure.

Before him stood Hasen, Lord of Shadows and Ruler of Darkness.

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