Everything after the guardhouse was a blur, literally. Slung over Haven's shoulder like a dead body, Lydis was carried into the academy grounds and from there everything from the ground to the buildings had just zoomed liked they were smudged.
She didn't know when but they had entered one of the buildings until Haven slowed down to stop by a large hazel colored wooden door. As Haven opened the door and stepped inside Lydis saw the nameplate which read 'Counselor Haven, Slyphir Teacher'.
Inside it was scarcely furnished. The room wasn't too big but it wasn't small either. With a few chairs lined up in the middle and a large wooden desk in front of them. On the side were two lounge chairs with pillows and blankets on them. The two floor length windows had their curtains pulled apart to let in the warm sunlight. Lydis was placed in one of the many chairs lined up in front of the desk and Haven rested herself into the large chair behind the desk. Haven folded both hands under her chin and looked at Lydis seriously.
"Now, Lydis. I want to confirm with you. Captain Valeri sent you here am I correct?"
"Yes. When she found me at the train wreckage about two years ago, she decided to take me in." Haven nodded and stuck her hand out.
"And the letter?" Lydis handed Haven the letter and waited patiently for her to read through everything. Valfafer was feeling a bit restless and disoriented from the bumpy sprint over so he hopped onto Lydis's leg. Lydis scooped him up and patted his head calmly, her fingers catching an occasional knot. Her patting seemed to sooth Valfafer as he found himself dozing off. Unnoticeable at first until his head dipped further and further back, his body becoming slack with the occasional jolts. A few minutes of silence passed until Haven finally set the papers down.
"Sorry for doubting your background, it's just that Captain Valeri is pretty famous around the border areas. There were some cases of people using her name to do various crimes in the past so I just wanted to do a double check." Lydis couldn't believe that Piti was actually kind of popular. From the stories about her recklessness to her carefree management and her stern training Lydis didn't hear any heroic stories about her at all during her time at the camp. Maybe this was a test to see if the papers were true since they had already been opened. If Haven wanted to challenge her then Lydis definitely couldn't back away now.
The air in the room tensed as Haven gave Lydis a smile, so pure it almost looked forced. Lydis raised her guard instantly.
"Then how do you know that it's really her? Maybe I'm a foreign spy sent here to cause a disturbance and I just used her name."
"There's no way. She's only famous around these parts. You'd have to be a local for a long time to know."
"I have my resources but, should you really take the risk? As a teacher it's your responsibility to protect the students as well as teach them. My presence here would only spell disaster for them, most likely deaths or fatal wounds to say the least." Lydis looked Haven in the eyes, her gaze firm and unwavering, not leaving Haven any opening to try to piece together the truth. Haven returned Lydis's unwavering gaze and added a bit of killing intent out.
"Should my students be harmed the culprit will not get off easily, even death would feel like liberation once I'm done with them." Haven's former pure smile twisted a bit to look menacing, she released a bit more of her slyphir pressure onto Lydis, upping her killing intent as well. With the new added pressures to her mind and body Lydis could feel her heartbeat in her throat. Sweat seeped inside her clenched hands. If it wasn't for the chair she was siting on Lydis was sure that she would've stumbled a bit while standing.
"Ha ha, are you looking down on me? Even this puny amount of pressure won't be able to scare off a rabbit, much less me." Lydis never once looked away from Haven's gaze. Their eyes stayed locked together in a one-sided struggle. They stayed like that for a few more minutes before Haven finally closed her eyes and sighed.
"HA HA! Looks like Captain Valeri wasn't kidding!" Haven instantly pulled back her killing intent and released Lydis from the pressure of her slyphir. The moment the pressure was lifted Lydis could feel herself breath better, she took in deep gasps for breath. Haven was smiling for real now, the glee on her face was similar to Blair's right after their first sparring match. Lydis had a bad feeling about it.
"Just like her letter said, you would be stubborn, quick to pick a fight with those stronger than yourself, and your pride will not allow you to back down! To think that Captain Valeri raised such a child is a miracle in itself."
"Why do you say that?"
"Ha, well you probably didn't hear but Captain Valeri was actually very meek and passive in her early days in the military. Whenever someone ordered her to do something she would do it without fail. Always following their commands like an idiot. Though, during those times she was kinder and more generous than anyone else. If someone needed help, regardless of who they were, she would offer to help… *sigh* … And yet, to think that every time I talk to her now it's always for a favor, so shameless! Even bringing up past small favors like when she covered for me when I had to take a s**t during guard duty!" Even though Haven was ranting Lydis could tell that Haven cared deeply for Valeri.
"Ha ha…" Stopping mid rant Haven refocused on Lydis.
"What? You don't think it's unreasonable?"
"N-no, it's just you remind me so much of Blair back at camp. Both of you complain about Valeri and yet you never seem to be able to refuse her." Lydis laughed a bit. Haven wanted to refuse but memories of Valeri asking for favors and her always agreeing came up. Sadly to say, it was true.
*ahem* "Either way, it's still unreasonable how often she asks for my help."
"Heh, say all you want, I know firsthand what someone fanatical with her looks and acts like." Haven was about to refute when she remembered that Lydis was only ten years old. An adult arguing with a child made it seem like she was a child as well.
"Anyways Lydis. I'll give you a tour of the academy but you'll need to register with a dorm head first. They'll be the ones in charge of providing for your needs outside of class. New uniforms, dinner, breakfast, and a room to sleep in are all managed by the dorm head. Lunch is served by the school so they don't cover that. I recommend Hal but that depends on if he wants to accept you, so we'll head over there first." Lydis nodded and stood up, careful to not wake up Valfafer in her arms. Haven led Lydis out of the building and they walked around to a branching pathway. There were seven dorms and two buildings for teaching.
The one Lydis just left was for classes one through three while the one further away was for classes four through five. The dorm for class five kids was behind the building for classes four and five while the other four dorms were spread out evenly closer to the first building. From left to right was two class one buildings, two class two buildings, one for class three, and one for class four. A road was paved between two and three to lead to the second teaching building.
Haven led Lydis to the dorms for class one.
"Though we are only small academy there are children from villages and smaller cities gathered here. Being at the border means having a greater chance of getting attacked so academies are only set up in big cities like ours. Though, it really doesn't compare to one from the capital or even one further in the mainland. Since we are nurturing the future we can't be negligent in cultivating strong soldiers." Lydis looked around and saw that the building for the dorms were built differently than the others in the city. Thick glass framed the windows, the reinforced metals branded together, along with the huge steel doors almost made it look like a prison. Had Haven not mentioned that it was a dorm Lydis definitely would've thought that it was one.
By the door to one dorm stood a stern looking man. His slightly upturned eyes showed dread and fatigue. Dark eyebags lined the bottom of his eyes. His hair was tied messily in a long ponytail that reached his waist. He was dressed in a long-sleeved turtleneck with black slacks. Slippers peeked out from the rumpled pants. An apron covered most of his body. In one hand he held a clear digital tablet, it's screen automatically scrolling through the registered students. In the other was a child's broken toy, a hole in it's side revealed the cotton inside.
"What do you want Haven?" The man could not have sounded more annoyed. Spitting the words out through gritted teeth.
"Eh heh… Good to see you too Hal… This is Lydis Fawn a new student. I wanted to know if she could stay in your… dorm…" Haven found it hard to talk with Hal's overbearing stare. Each word made her feel smaller and smaller. Haven had done this so many times that Hal had grew to resent whenever Haven came to visit. Lydis saw that the conversation wasn't going anywhere so she placed Valfafer on the floor gently and stepped forward.
"My name is Lydis Fawn. As a new student I was hoping to enter your dorm. It's a pleasure to meet you dorm head Hal." Lydis stuck out her hand and Hal just stared at it. His indifferent stare was really hard for Lydis to guess what he was thinking.
*pfft* "Did you teach her that so I would take her in?" Hal's mocking laugh irritated Lydis a bit. From the moment they met Lydis had already disliked Hal. She didn't even want to be in his dorm now but, Haven had recommended him so there must be some merit to joining his dorm. Haven looked at Hal dumbfounded.
"Huh? I didn't teach her anything like that. When she registered at my office I brought her to you immediately." Hal looked skeptical but ignored Haven.
"Little girl, what makes you think you have the right to enter my dorm?" Lydis was a bit shocked. The people in this academy really like to test their students so much! From Haven to Hal, right off the bat they've challenged her. Smiling, Lydis retracted her hand and stood straight.
"I apologize for any rudeness I've shown dorm head Hal, but it is law that I'm to attend the closest academy."
"Oh? So, you're only here by obligation? You make me sick."
"It is not obligation, it is my duty as a future soldier to use and achieve the best I can for the Emperor. Whether it's to fight on the frontlines, guard the cities, or even to nurture the next generation, I need to learn all I can."
"What a waste, your sense of duty is weak. If you do not have something you truly want to protect you cannot bring out your full potential, half-a**ed effort is meaningless." Lydis's smile stayed unaffected. Hal's harsh remarks seemed to have no effect on Lydis.
"Dorm head Hal has taught me a valuable lesson, I sincerely thank you for your insight." Lydis bowed and gave Hal a cadets salute. With both hands clasped behind her back she bowed at a ninety-degree angle to Hal. Though her head was down Lydis sensed the slight shift in Hal's demeanor.
*hmph* "At least you have that right but, I will not accept a child full of faults. Besides, there is no room in my dorm for a child and her mutt." Hal glared at the sleeping Valfafer. Haven was about to step in since Hal was being unreasonable but Lydis stood firmly, her smile never wavering.
"Dorm head Hal, I believe that should you take me into your dorm you won't be adding to your burden but instead alleviating them somewhat." Hal raised his eyebrows. No child had even attempted to bargain with him before, much less be able to withstand his criticism for so long. Lydis, she had indeed piqued his interest.
"Oh, tell me how you'll do that." Hal was waiting for another slip from Lydis so he could send her away. She had made him curious but that was it. He had no intention to take in another snot-nosed brat.
"In many ways. I can act as a mediator between you and the other children. I'll solve their never-ending nagging about minor things, like that stuffed animal there." Lydis pointed at the broken toy in Hal's hand, a needle with thread hung from one side of the hole. Hal had been repairing it before Haven messaged him about a new student.
"Valfafer can also act as a distraction for them. Instead of their senseless screaming all day he would play with them outside, pets are a great distraction after all. Things like cleaning are easy for me. Whether it be the dorm itself, things like dishes or folding laundry, I can assist in those. Children often find it hard to relate to an adult so having someone their age guide them would make them feel less stranded, instead it might spark feelings of competitiveness, leading to them striving to be better overall. Once it starts it can only snowball from there." Lydis waited for some nasty remark from Hal, some indication that what she had said was not enough.
Hal on the other hand was pondering Lydis's suggestion very seriously. He had wanted an assistant in recent years but the principle had always made some excuse about not having the time to train a new helper. It had gotten to the point in which he was so swamped with small things that he didn't sleep for three days straight each week. Even when he did sleep it would only be for two to three hours, four if he was lucky.
Lydis stared at Hal. His mind was racing, balancing out the pros and cons of her words. Suddenly he lifted his head.
"How will you uphold your end of the deal?" Lydis bent down and picked up a drowsy Valfafer.
"If I do you can cook him and eat him while also expelling me from the school with the harshest punishment possible." Lydis's unfazed smile gave Hal shivers. Either he about to take in a monster or let it rampage in the dorm across from his, Hal smiled bitterly.
"You have a deal little schemer." Haven had been holding her breath for the whole conversation and finally realized she needed air when Hal had agreed. Gasping for air she gave Lydis a back slap. Though it was meant to be friendly Lydis dodged it fearing that it was Haven trying to hug her again. Obviously hurt by Lydis's wariness of her Haven could only look as Lydis shook Hal's hand.
"Give me your school and city ID so I can register you officially." Lydis handed over the two cards and saw as Hal inserted them both at the bottom of the screen. They got sucked into the machine and popped back out with a new color. "Here." Lydis took them and saw the new markings.
On her city ID the school crest was labeled in the top right corner while on her school ID the border was red and the numbers 1:1 were branded below her picture.
"Those numbers under your picture only apply to class one through two since there are two different dorms for them unlike the other classes." Lydis nodded and placed both cards back into her bag.
"Thank your for accepting me dorm head Hal." Lydis gave Hal another cadet salute. For a moment his stone face broke and he smiled slightly. Realizing this he quickly covered his mouth with his hand, faking a yawn.
"Come inside when you're ready. I still need to arrange your things so it'll take about an hour before everything is prepared. Haven, I trust that you'll show our new student around campus right?"
"You don't need to tell me twice. Besides I'm you senior! Why are you reminding me to do things?" Lydis was a bit shocked. Although Haven did talk about Valeri's early military days which was probably about thirty something years ago, surely this woman who didn't look over her mid thirties was actually as old as Valeri?!
"Your face won't trick me! As young as you look I know your true age. Its-!" Suddenly Haven had crossed the three-meter distance between them in less than a second, her fist lodged in Hal's stomach. There was a short lapse before the impact of the blow set in. Hal's body bent upwards, his feet touching the ground with his toes. From his mouth wet saliva hit the concrete steps. When Haven removed her fist, Hal's body seemed to deflate a little.
"Are you sure he's going to be okay?"
"Oh he's fine. Give him a few seconds and he'll be just fine. I didn't punch him that hard either. Now, we have a tour to go on!" Haven placed on hand on Lydis's shoulders and pulled her away from the dorm. Soon they were near the intersection for all the roads when Lydis looked back and saw Hal get up and cup his mouth with his hands.
"SHE'S SIXTY-TWO!" Haven froze and was about to kill Hal, Lydis could feel the air around Haven begin to vibrate due to the pressure. Lydis found that underneath Hal's stern demeanor his attitude was close to a child's. Getting back at Haven till the very end. Hal didn't waste a moment and as soon as he said what he had, instantly shut the main door behind him. He knew that Haven wouldn't dare break the school property no matter how mad she was right now since her previous incidents already cut her pay by a fourth.
Seething with rage Haven could only watch as Hal retreated back into the dorm. She swore that she would get her revenge later but not now, she had to show Lydis around. Forcing a smile Haven turned towards Lydis.
"Now, shall we go?" Lydis felt shivers on her arms and back. Haven's smile truly looked like it belonged to a demon's at that moment. She hoped Hal lived long enough to get her stuff prepared before he hit the grave.
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