༺ The First Day of Discipline ༻
In the middle of the night, Oznia came to my room.
The reason was simple. It was because I had instructed her to do so.
After class, I ran into Oznia at the Opal Black dormitory, and I told her to come to my room at this time for a disciplinary matter.
“You came right on time.”
Oznia slightly nodded her head.
She was wearing the Academy student cloak over her uniform, following my instruction to dress warmly. I also wore an instructor’s coat and took a magic lantern as I left the room.
Oznia quietly followed behind me.
As we walked side by side in the corridor, I realized I hadn’t explained to Oznia what the disciplinary matter was about today.
She didn’t bother asking me about the disciplinary matter, so I didn’t explain it either.
This is what happens when two people with poor communication skills gather.
Except for the first few years of the previous war, I mostly wandered around alone, so I was used to acting solo. Naturally, I didn’t have many opportunities to talk with someone.
For me, who had lived as a soldier until now, conversation usually fell into two categories.
Either listening to orders or giving orders.
Although my rank was a Captain, I had the authority to requisition supplies from even senior officers if necessary, as the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army was my direct superior. In an emergency, if I presented an order signed by the commander-in-chief, my order was as good as his.
So there was no need to make the other party understand. They just had to do what I ordered. If they didn’t listen, then it was time for force to step in.
But this place isn’t the military, and I am not a soldier now but an instructor.
An instructor needs to have the appropriate way of speaking.
“We’re going to patrol the campus.”
It was only then that Oznia, who had just found out about the disciplinary matter, nodded her head with a slight delay.
Philion Academy was quite large. It was so big that there were trams running inside the campus, so it was definitely not a size I could patrol by myself.
In fact, I could do it if I wanted to, but since Dean Heinkel wouldn’t expect that from me, my patrolling area was limited to the Opal Black dormitory and its surroundings.
As we went down the stairs to the second floor, we ran into Saladin, who was holding a broom.
I had also instructed Saladin to clean the dormitory starting today. At first, he seemed taken aback, thinking, ‘How could a prince like me do cleaning…?’ but he appeared to be working hard, perhaps realizing that he couldn’t defy the instructor’s orders.
The Opal Black dormitory is quite large, so sweeping and mopping the hallways and common areas would easily take a few hours. He seemed to have enough energy left for a fight, so if I made him clean with that energy, things would be quiet for a while.
“Keep up the good work.”
Saladin still seemed to have some lingering resentment towards Oznia, as he shot her a displeased glance when she passed by.
Oznia, on the other hand, didn’t even glance at Saladin. It didn’t look like she was deliberately ignoring him, but rather that she had no interest in him at all.
It would take a long time for them to get close. Or would they ever become close? The semester had just started, and the future was already looking bleak.
I led Oznia out of the Opal Black dormitory. After all, we could patrol the dormitory on our way back. We relied on the dim lantern light and walked slowly along the forest path around the dormitory.
Oznia seemed puzzled as we headed deeper and deeper into the forest. Walking on a dark forest trail with much denser trees than before, she slowly looked around, as if she had noticed something.
“In the forest… there’s magic.”
The Hemeim Forest. That’s what Dean Heinkel had told me.
There was a magic that causes you to lose your direction and wander endlessly if you took the wrong path. The area around the Opal Black dormitory and the back mountain was fine, but anyone who went deeper would get lost.
Therefore, the Hemeim Forest served as a defense against outside intrusion. The only entrance to the Opal Black dormitory was through the tram, and of course, not just anyone can ride the tram designated for the academy.
This meant that even if someone tried to infiltrate and target the students from outside, they couldn’t pass through this forest. I heard that the other four major dormitories had similar security measures in place.
I was ignorant of magic, so I just listened to the facts and accepted them, but Oznia, who majored in magic, seemed to have noticed the magic in the forest right away.
Dean Heinkel asked me to periodically check the forest, as outsiders or other students could enter the forest intentionally or accidentally and not be able to find their way out.
I briefly summarized that information and explained it to Oznia. After hearing my explanation, she looked puzzled.
“It doesn’t seem like ordinary magic.”
“I can feel the presence of spirits. A lot of them. If Titania were here, she could probably identify exactly which spirits… “
Oznia stared blankly at the forest.
“I can sense a will. As if it’s protecting something important…”
Entranced, Oznia took a step forward. However, there was a tree root sticking out, and her foot got caught, causing her to lose balance and fall forward.
I quickly reached out and supported Oznia.
“Are you hurt?”
Oznia seemed startled, her pupils dilated more than usual.
I let go of her waist, which I had held to support her. Oznia was incredibly light. Although I had the strength to lift even an ogre with ease, she still felt too small and lightweight.
“We’ll get lost if we go any further. Let’s go back.”
Oznia silently nodded.
The way back was very quiet. I didn’t have anything in particular to say, and Oznia seemed to be lost in thought.
As we retraced our steps along the forest trail and the Opal Black dormitory building came into view, Oznia finally spoke up.
“Is it alright?”
I wondered what she meant by asking if my hand was okay, as it seemed to come out of nowhere. It reminded me of my own teacher, who would also ask questions without any context. I looked back at her.
Oznia’s gaze was fixed on my right hand. It was the hand that had taken the brunt of her magic during the fight earlier in the day. Then, I finally understood what she wanted to say.
She seemed to have been concerned about my hand since I had supported her earlier. It was the same right hand that had taken her magic.
Without a word, I took off my glove and showed her my open hand.
The exposed skin was completely unscathed, without any burns or injuries.
“I received treatment.”
In fact, that was a lie.
Due to personal reasons, I was much stronger and had faster healing abilities than an average person. However, even with exceptional resistance to magic, it would still be strange for a human to take magic head-on without any injuries, so I had no choice but to tell Oznia that.
It might be possible for a superhuman who enhances their body with magic, but that would be noticeable to the naked eye. At that time, I hadn’t been using any physical enhancement magic.
Oznia hesitated for a moment, then lowered her head.
Oznia didn’t seem to regret using magic against Saladin.
In that case, the meaning of her apology must be for not trying to stop the fight and causing me to get caught up in the magic. In fact, I wasn’t hurt, but Oznia probably believed that I was.
What should an instructor say at a time like this?
I took a moment to think before I spoke.
“Rage is a warrior’s weapon, not a mage’s.”
“Your teacher used to say that those who pursue magic should fight with this, not with their hearts.”
I tapped my temple with my finger.
At the mention of her teacher, Oznia’s eyes widened.
“You know my teacher?”
“We met a few times on the battlefield.”
It wasn’t a particularly fond memory. He was so persistent and annoying, constantly begging me to take off my helmet just once, that I ended up avoiding him.
Mages tend to be quite obsessive about things they’re interested in. He was extremely curious about my body, and I could clearly see a future in which he’d conduct experiments on me if I kept engaging with him. He wasn’t a bad person, but he was a bother to deal with.
“If it were your teacher, he would have kept his composure even if his parents were insulted right in front of him. He would have calmly turned the offender into ashes with a smile.”
Oznia wore an indescribable expression. It seemed as though she wanted to deny it, but deep down, she might have thought the same and couldn’t bring herself to disagree.
“That’s also why you received more penalty points than Saladin. Using magic on a person is a violation of school rules, but losing your composure was unbecoming of a mage.”
I lightly patted Oznia’s shoulder.
She’s still young. Although she may be immature now, she can get better.
It was awkward, but it was my best attempt at encouragement filled with such emotions.
Oznia didn’t respond for quite some time. She looked up at me with a lost expression, unsure of what to say, and then cautiously nodded.
It was the first time Oznia had addressed me as an instructor.
We returned to the dormitory building together. The dormitory was very quiet as the curfew had passed, and the lobby, with its lights turned off, seemed to indicate that Saladin had finished cleaning and returned to his room.
I did a quick patrol around the dormitory, but there were no apparent issues, and no students had left their rooms to cause trouble. It hadn’t been long since the semester started, so it seemed unlikely that there would already be students exhibiting problematic behavior, but still, I couldn’t skip the patrol.
When I felt that the patrol was mostly done, I escorted Oznia to the front of her room.
“If there’s no trouble by this time tomorrow, come to my room. In addition to the campus patrol, you’ll be helping with various tasks for the next week.”
“Alright. I’ll go back to my room now.”
I left Oznia, who was nodding her head, and returned to my room.
Oznia didn’t immediately go into her room, as the light illuminating the hallway didn’t disappear until I had completely left the area.