“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I mean that she’s going to be sold off to a brothel,” explained Zeyl. “She was born a slave and raised as such.”
“Aren’t you going to do anything about it?”
“…” Zeyl stayed silent.
“…” I clenched my fist and looked directly to Zeyl’s eyes. This is the first time I’ve ever gotten angry with her and I didn’t know what to say.
“You have to understand, Lee,” she said. “Slavery is a part of life in this world. You have lived pampered by your Talician parents, so I don’t think you’d understand… since you’re still a child.”
A child… those words kept repeating themselves in my head. I looked to my hands and they were indeed small. I had gotten used to being so short and small, but I made sure to act like I always did in my world. I see… so I am being treated by my looks. I can’t blame Zeyl.
“Even though she has been taking good care of us at the Inn?”
“That’s part her job,” said Zeyl.
“Is it wrong to grow attached to a person?”
“No. It is not,” she said, glancing carefully over at me.
I left the room with Selsie following behind, and in the process left Zeyl in the room alone. I made my way downstairs and met with the owner at the counter. He had several tattoos on his shoulder down to his arm but were mostly covered by his own clothing.
“Ah, how has your stay been?” asked the owner, “I hope your accommodations have been met in these past few days.”
“…” I got this far but didn’t know how to word the problem, and the owner looked me with concern for his customer.
“Is there something you need?”
“How much are you selling Isla for?” I asked bluntly, and he seemed bothered when I asked.
“Hrng… I am selling her for ten gold,” he said. I have thirteen, enough to cover the expense and leave some for myself.
“I’ll buy her from you,” I said.
“That’s not possible.. “
“I’ve already made a contract with the brothel and a cancellation fee will cost another ten gold,” he said. Even if I sold all of my belongings, I wouldn’t have nearly enough.
“…How long until the trade is finalized?”
“A few days from now,” he said. I go back to my room and Zeyl is sitting by the window. She didn’t look back when I entered and simple kept looking on. I know Zeyl used up her last two gold, and the books I have could fetch maybe a few gold. I don’t have enough.. Fuck! I hold the urge to kick the door. Selsie then makes a light scratching sound from outside. I forgot she was following me and open the door.
Afterwards I tried going to sleep but just thinking about what happened earlier keeps me from getting even a second of rest. The lights were turned off by Zeyl. A little square of light on the ceiling emanating light began dimming completely until only darkness remained. Zeyl lay down next to me on the bed and went to sleep. I already got used to it and didn’t think anything of it when we shared the same bed. It would also have been odd for me to ask for my own room.
* * *
One hour later and I was still awake..
I get up from the bed and walked to the window. I sat and looked outside at people still walking by even at this hour. Among them was Isla by the front area of the Inn trying to get customers to come in and spend a night or two before continuing their travels the next day.
“…” It would be impossible for me to make any money as I am, nor do I have the time to raise the amount. Soon enough it started raining, but this didn’t deter people from walking the streets because there was some sort of barrier protecting us from the weather. Falling rain made for a beautiful spectacle as it bounces off and mixes with the ever increasing amounts of water on the invisible ceiling. At some point, there are holes in the barrier where high amounts of rain fell like a waterfall. They fall into large reserves and are used to maintain the city’s drinkable source of water in areas where magic has yet to be integrated as the city booms in size because of its flourishing economy.
I yawned. I should get some sleep since I have class tomorrow. Instead of using the bed, I used Selsie as pillow, to which she didn’t seem to mind. I finally fall asleep by then.
* * *
In the morning I started getting dressed after a cold shower. Zeyl was gone when I awoke and didn’t I think much of it. I finished putting on the uniform and headed downstairs to find Isla moping and cleaning the entrance. I greet her.
“Oh~” she said, “hi, young lord!” She picks me up and hugs me tightly. It’s suffocating! She lets go. “Going to school?”
“Alright, do your best okay?”
“I will,” I said, and left with Selsie following behind. We pass the crowds that never die down and head south of the city towards the school. We pass by the slaver who some time ago tried having me purchase two kids who seemed to be in their early teens, all for a “special offer” of five gold. They were still there and were clearly malnourished, both of which were older than me but more than obviously thinner. It was just them, however, as the others were more well fed with meat in their bones, which is likely why the slaver was selling the two for just five gold. I see him walk up to with more confidence since Zeyl wasn’t around with me.
“Care to buy to buy a slave?” he asked but he surely enough wasn’t finished. “I even have a special offer! Two for five gold!” Instead of ignoring him this time, I asked him some questions. I also made sure Selsie didn’t start getting offensive with him by keep her a few steps away.
“How much are the others?” I asked, mostly out of curiosity.
“Ah, hmm these would go for ten gold at most for the healthiest ones,” he said. Ten gold is the same amount that Isla is being sold for, minus the cancellation fee..
“I’ll give you two gold for the kids you have there,” I said. He looked confused for a second, perhaps thinking that I wouldn’t at least try to bargain for them, though in reality, I would have bought them anyway.
“F-Four gold,” he said. “I won’t go any lower.” I walk away from the offer but he quickly grabs me by the cloth of my shirt. Selsie growls, and the slaver steps away. “Three gold!” I accept. He brings them over and hands me a contract to sign. I read it over and everything seemed fine. I then sign it and he removes the ropes wrapped over their ankles. With this, I could help someone out with money I am not even using. I now have a little over ten gold.
“Are you two okay?” I asked. The boy nods and the girl stays silent. “Your names?”
“Kahl,” said the boy. “This is my sister Sophie.”
“Alright, Kahl, Sophie,” I said, “come with me.”
We head towards the school, but instead of going to the entrance, I stop by a small restaurant that was close by. The waiter came up to us and asked for our order.
“Anything good for kids our age?” I asked. The waiter gave us a list of things that I couldn’t for my life recognize, that is, until he mentioned chicken soup with creamed bread. We took this order. Moments later and Kahl began eating his portion. Sophie didn’t move. I sat next to her and helped her eat the soup. She didn’t hesitate opening her mouth, and for a while I thought she just didn’t like the soup. Selsie lay to the opposite of and eyed my portion. I let her eat it. The waiter looked to us with some concern, likely because I let Selsie devour my portion in one go. I apologized to the waiter and he went back to work.
When we finished, we headed to the school.
“Selsie,” I said, “look after them while I’m in class, okay?” She barked in agreement, or so I hope she did. It should be fine since Selsie does as I ask. She’s very smart for a wolf so I can trust her with this. I left them, and from far away now I see Selsie pushing Kahl gently to keep him walking and has him sit at a bench. Then she does the same to Sophie. I’ll have to buy them new clothes later and give them a shower or bath before that.
* * *
Like some universities, a lecture was being given… except not on the usual subjects but of the concept in using certain magic. There was never mention of the inner workings. One needed simply only to “picture” yourself using the magic and I believe this only made it harder to master it. This meant that magicians were limited to using quite basic magic through out the first and second years in school. Fire was especially hard, while water was the easiest.
Our professor was an interesting man in this aspect, and the students couldn’t help but compare me to him on the basis that we shared the same hair and eye color, meaning also that he was Talician. The first one I’ve seen in Aria.
“Is my class boring you?” asked Prof. Krum. I was in deep thought for the first day of class and was caught off guard by the professor.
“No,” I said. Other students laughed an whispered to each other.
– “Isn’t he too young to be learning magic?” Said one of the students to another.
– “I feel bad for him, he’ll be here learning how to use magic for years to come.”
“Then let’s see what you can do,” said Krum, ignoring the other students. “Demonstrate to the class what magic you do know.” He was evaluating our magic abilities to see where to begin teaching us. Before that, he mentioned that he was going over what to expect in the coming weeks of classes. I was one a few students behind the line, so I would be coming up soon anyway.
I do as he asked, and from the middle of the room water rose from a puddle. I turned into steam, blew it towards the students and did so for the shortest amount of time before I felt even a little bit exhausted. Any longer and I’ll repeat what happened yesterday.
“Is that all?” asked Krum.
Now thinking about making a rapid chemical reaction, a combustible substance with oxygen, I created fire. A spell is easy to do as long you can understand the inner workings, something this school didn’t teach. Imagining was the foundation of using magic and I believed this to be wrong. I dispelled the fire after a second or two and quickly fall on my knees and catch my breath. This is very exhausting, and would have otherwise been an exciting thing to do if it weren’t for all my worries.
– “Woah,” said one of the students, amazed that I could already conjure fire.
– “Even I don’t know how to do that!”
“Get back in line,” said Krum, and I made my way to the other students. Up next was a young girl, about fifteen and she walked to the center.
She stood at the center and lifted the water from the puddle of what remained, though Lord Krum was sure to fill it up with every other person. The student then placed it back and that was it.
I understood already how to create fire, control water, lift earth, and move air. This was very basic, and I ignored the teaching to “picture” the magic doing what you want it to do, as it often yielded minimal results as I found students struggling to use magic throughout the evaluation. Most knew how to control water to the extent of just lifting it in the air, very few could move earth as they willed it and no one in the class knew how to create fire or move air. This however, was because the first week of class had only started a while ago. I may have been a little late taking classes, but I was already ahead of the everyone. I might have been excited, too, but I kept thinking about Islah, Sophie and Kahl.
A few minutes after class was over, professor Krum kept me over to have a talk. He was a tall man, taller than Zeyl, with a lighter shade of purple hair and same shade of eyes. He was Talician, but it almost felt a bit artificial. I heard that Talicians with very dark purple hair and eyes, like mines, were to be considered of “pure” Talician blood.
“Lee,” said Krum. “Can you show me your handling with earth and air?”
“Sure,” I said, “but I can only do so for just a few seconds or I might use all of my magic.” I was already pushing it, but I learned that using short burst and doing so with some time in between was fine. The only danger is in using it continuously, so there is a sort of.. recovery rate.
“That’s fine,” he said. Most of the students left with only a handful remaining in the classroom.
I walk t the center of the class and lift earth from the ground where a tile of the floor was removed for this occasion. All I had to do was think about the many atoms inside and lift it. It really is that simple. Air was the same, and so I created a decent wind inside a classroom with no open windows to hint of a breeze passing through. It really is true when they say that ninety-nine percent of space are made of atoms.
– “… Why is this little know-it-all even in this class?!”
– “Oi, clam down, Lord Krum is looking this way. Let’s go.”
Ignoring the other students, I finished showing Lord krum my use of the other elements, but by doing so I fell to my knees from exhaustion. I may have just a little too much. Lord Krum helped me up.
“That was impressive,” he said, and I stayed quiet trying to catch my breath. “You should drop this class.”
“…?” I didn’t understand what he meant until he continued.
“You’ve already learned all I was going to teach the class,” he said. “I can consider this a test and let you take credit for the course.”
“Is that fine with you?” I asked, and he nods.
“Yes, of course,” he said. “I’ll have your adviser know and tell him to give you a more advanced class.”
* * *
I went to Selsie first thing after leaving the classroom. Thankfully when I saw her, everything was fine. Despite the rain still falling from yesterday, the barrier still held up so no one ever got wet unless intentionally going to the small spots where rain fell into reserves. My next class will start tomorrow with Mr. Coll. It is a class called “magic embedding.”
I signaled Selsie to follow, and she had Sophie and Kahl get from their seats and start following me. We headed out the gate and back to the Inn, and instead of having them settle in the room I shared with Zeyl, I ordered another room for them. Two silver for a week, or three silver for the same time plus meals. I took the second offer and exchanged coin for key. The room was next to Zeyl, though I didn’t ask for it.
“Come in,” I told them as I opened the door. I had both try on my clothes for reference, since they were two or so sizes bigger, they fit nicely. “Selsie, look after them.” I head out the Inn and made my way the same clothing store where I bought my normal clothes with Zeyl a while ago. I buy a few sets in their sizes and return to the Inn shortly after.
Zeyl was outside looking around as if looking for someone. She then turns to look to me and seemed annoyed at the same time. I walk up to her and greet her.
“Where have you been?” she asked, and looks to the bags of clothing I carried.
“Buying clothing,” I said walking past her and to the second floor and to the room with Kahl, Sophie and Selsie. I enter the room and Zeyl was just in the hallway looking to us.
“Who are these two?” she asked, I explained what I did the whole day and Zeyl takes the two to the bathing area. She comes back later with both of them wet and clean. She dries them up from head to toe and then sighs. I help dress Kahl and Zeyl does the same with Sophie.