༺ Lecture (2) ༻
A group project.
It was a task that put them both in distress.
They weren’t obligated to do their homework since their primary goal was to attend lectures for a short while. However, if they refuse to do it for that reason, it’d only defeat their purpose of gaining ‘experience’.
Simply put, they were doing a chore that gave them nothing in return.
Another problem was that students had to do their homework in groups of three.
Both were Apostles of the Holy Kingdom, and one of them was even the Saint. It was clear from the attitudes of the professors and students so far that no one would be willing to team up with them.
So Renee was grateful that Levin, the male student in the front row, approached them first when they were at a loss for what to do.
“I’ll be in your care.”
On a corner of the library terrace.
Renee said that as they were gathered at the meeting point to prepare for the presentation, and Levin gasped in surprise before lowering his head.
“Oh, no! I-I’ll be in your care as well to save my grades!”
He just blurted it out since he couldn’t hide his true feelings.
Listening to him, one may think he was snobbish, but Renee knew it was more important to be thankful that he approached them first.
“Um… I hope I can be of help. I don’t know much about history.”
Levin felt his body tremble again upon hearing her clear voice. Renee’s looks, voice, and refined attitude were too much for a male student in his prime.
“N-No need to think like that… there’s a topic that I want to work on, and I’d like to ask some help from the both of you…”
“Oh! Is there a topic you have in mind?”
“Y-Yes! Well…I want to make a presentation about the rulers during the creation of the world… Professor Miller is particularly interested in this…”
It was Vera who replied to his indistinct mutter.
“Do you know anything about it?”
Vera’s eyes glistened.
It was for no reason other than the rulers during the creation of the world in question, being the Ancient Species.
Now that it was no longer possible to collect information through the originally expected lectures, the thought of being able to obtain that information from an unexpected source brought excitement to Vera. Levin replied to his question nervously.
“Yes, yes! I majored in history…!”
“Wow. You’re a history major, but even taking courses beyond your major requirements?”
“B-Because I like it… it’s fun…”
“Yes, I agree. Having a passion for learning deserves praise.”
As he was showered by compliments, Levin’s head gradually turned downward. His face began to resemble a ripe persimmon.
“It’s nothing special…”
His tone revealed his inner embarrassment.
As the rain of compliments continued and put everyone in a good mood, Vera added.
“I want to know the topic in detail.”
Levin swallowed nervously before replying to the question aimed at him.
“F-First of all, the topic is about the region that Alaysia used to rule… so, I wanted to ask both of you about it… since you’ve seen Terdan…”
Vera instantly caught on to what he was trying to say. It was most likely about the time he escorted Renee to the Holy Kingdom.
How he knew about it… was probably a strange question to ask. The day Terdan awakened, the entire terrain of the area transformed, so much so that the map of the continent had to be redrawn. So it would be strange for the inhabitants of this land to not know about it.
Vera quickly shook off his thoughts and nodded.
“Yes, you’re absolutely right.”
He answered unhesitatingly. Levin, whose eyes glistened upon hearing that, jolted his body as he proceeded to talk.
“I-I know you two were in the place where Terdan awakened a few years ago! Terdan is the mediator of the Age of Gods, after all. Also, it is closely related to Alaysia, who clashed a lot with other Ancient Species! I was wondering if I could hear about the characteristics of Terdan that you’ve seen! If so, I could gather more information about Alaysia!”
The stuttering and barely audible voice became clearer as he went on. Then it got louder.
There was a mixture of curiosity and enthusiasm in it.
At that, Renee affirmed positively with a smile and a nod.
“That’s great. I’m glad to be of help. Can you please tell him, Vera?”
Renee wanted to tell him personally, but she collapsed the moment Terdan awakened, so she called Vera for help since she couldn’t tell him anything.
Vera nodded before answering.
“First of all…”
Late at night, in front of the dorm.
Before parting ways, Renee spent a little more time with Vera on the bench, hurling out a question as the cold night wind crept in.
“How was your day, Vera? Do you have any clue about the assignment that Lady Theresa gave you?”
Learn to be a child.
She was asking about the assignment that Theresa had given Vera.
‘I wish I had a little clue.’
With that in mind, he decided to wait for the answer and said quietly.
“…I’m not sure yet. The lecture itself wasn’t anything special.”
His voice was unusually quiet and lacked confidence.
Vera’s countenance grew clouded as he recalled today’s events.
The lecture itself gave him no benefit at all. The majority of what the professor told him was stuff he already knew, and he didn’t take the lectures from the same position as other students in the first place.
He was unable to grasp what he must obtain as a student.
On the other hand, it wasn’t as though he didn’t feel anything at all.
“…I feel something when I look at the students.”
“Yes, Lady Theresa must have wanted me to learn true passion. That’s what I thought.”
Vera recalled the students he had seen earlier today and added.
“Weren’t there many types of students? Students who sit in the front row paying attention to the class, students who sleep in the back, and so on…”
Some laughed, some got angry, and yet others shed tears. Various students coexisted within the Academy’s space.
People who were clumsy and did not hide themselves in the slightest.
“…Looking at those students, I wonder if I’m overly calculating. I wonder if I’m pushing myself too hard to be perfect. That’s what I thought.”
Theresa told him that he didn’t know how to face his own feelings, and that he became estranged from humanity because he ignored his emotions.
I might be a knight, but he wasn’t a human.
Vera thought to himself.
Perhaps it was a mistake to believe that he could only reach a better future by suppressing himself.
None of them were moving with the knowledge of what was to come; they were just being themselves in the moment.
He was sure there was something that set them apart, or something that made him inferior to them. His problem was that he didn’t know how to face himself directly.
Vera, who was deep in thought, turned to Renee.
Knowing already that his unadorned feelings were directed towards her, if he looked at his present self, his gaze naturally needed to go to where she was. So he did exactly that.
But nothing else happened after that.
Vera couldn’t tell whether his desire for Renee was emotional or physical, so he just stared at her.
In the lingering silence, Renee was humming, thinking about the words she had just heard.
She was thinking about her own assignment.
Look at Vera without being blinded by love. It was to know what kind of person he was.
“…Vera is a very serious person.”
That was the answer.
Vera was a serious person who didn’t take anything lightly.
“…Can I take that as a compliment?”
“You may, or may not.”
Renee’s lips curled into a smile.
“It’s not always good to be serious, right? Isn’t it only interesting when people have a fair sense of humor?”
She kept saying things playfully, but her heart was racing the whole time.
She blamed it on Vera, who hadn’t changed a bit since the moment they first met.
“You know what?”
“Please say it.”
“I like Vera.”
“…The day isn’t over yet.”
“It’s been 24 hours, so the break is over. Stop putting your guard down now.”
A grunt escaped Vera’s mouth.
Renee giggled as she was pleased by his reaction.
She understood him a little at last. She understood him by heart, not by head.
Perhaps Vera’s serious personality was the reason he pushed her away like this.
Perhaps because he tried to do his best in everything and strived for perfection.
So, in Vera’s own judgment, his feelings hadn’t ‘perfectly’ aligned, which could explain why he pushed her away.
What a silly and adorable worrywart.
“I’m not sure if I can hold myself back.”
Vera was startled. He stopped moving at once.
She could clearly feel that he was frozen.
Renee’s smile deepened as she slipped her hand over Vera’s and added.
“I was supposed to wait, but I think I changed my mind.”
Vera was so adorable when he thought about her seriously, so Renee felt like she couldn’t hold herself back.
Vera’s answer was obvious.
“…Please have mercy on me.”
It was such a rigid formality.
At Miller’s laboratory.
In the middle of the room which was littered with various materials, Henry, the teacher assistant, sighed deeply.
“Professor… please be more organized.”
His dissatisfaction stemmed from his superior’s lack of consideration for tidiness.
Miller was entirely focused on flipping through the thesis when he heard it, and then he raised his head to throw a quick glance at Henry before replying.
“Oho, it’s all organized, though? What is there to organize? Put things where you can locate them quickly when needed! So I can get items whenever I want! That’s why I have all of them on my desk!”
Henry scrunched up his face.
‘What nonsense are you on about?’
Henry had a lot to say, but he held himself back and tediously cleaned the cluttered stuff on top of the table.
At that time…
Henry flinched in terror when he spotted the brown-covered book with a blood stain on it among the piles of books.
“Professor! This! This!”
Henry made a lot of noises as he sprang up and ran behind Miller, causing Miller to grimace and turn his head.
“What, what? What are you making a fuss about this time?”
“That! That! It got stains! I said it got stained!”
He pointed to the desk he had just cleaned. Miller followed where he pointed out with an uninterested look before settling his gaze on the desk.
What appeared was…
“It’s the Grimoire.”
It was [The Whispers of the Dream Demon], plus it was covered in sticky blood.
Miller recognized the owner of the blood right away.
‘Because Sir Vera wounded himself there yesterday…’
That must be when it got stained.
“What’s wrong with that?”
The voice that came out was still indifferent as ever.
That made Henry shake his head erratically and flew into a rage.
“No! Didn’t I tell you it got stained? What if it gets imprinted?! What are you going to do if the imprinting takes place?!”
He inadvertently spoke informally as the fear messed up his head.
Miller sighed deeply before replying to Henry.
“Why?! Why?! Why?! I’m done for! I’m really done for… If I knew this would happen, I wouldn’t have become this guy’s underling! I should have stayed in my hometown and farmed!”
‘Look at this punk, huh?’
A vein popped out of Miller’s forehead.
Miller struggled to suppress his rising anger and put on a forced smile before speaking.
“Imprinting? With something like that? Hey, you punk…! I mean, assistant! Pull yourself together and say it out loud. What are the conditions for imprinting?”
“What!? What else if not staining it with blood?! And you have to attach it to your body while resonating!”
It was truly words stemming from anger.
‘Looks like I did teach you very well,’ Miller thought with a satisfied smile on his face, and added.
“Indeed, you need to resonate. But is the owner of that blood here?”
Henry, who pointed at Miller with great anger, belatedly realized something and stopped talking.
“…don’t seem to be the owner?”
“Why would I feed it? What am I going to do with that later?”
A smirk escaped Miller’s mouth.
“Look, there’s only two ways that thing could set off here. One is that you or someone feeds it with blood and always keeps it on you.”
Miller folded one of his two open fingers as he spoke, then folded the other finger as he continued.
“The second is the owner of that blood. I’m saying that there has to be some kind of insane resonance between Sir Vera and The Whispers of the Dream Demon Grimoire for it to set off just by blood alone.”
Henry, who had been an assistant for two years, could clearly understand what he was saying.
“…You’re saying that unless he’s a being from the Age of Gods, there’s no way that thing would set off.”
“Right. In order to have that level of resonance, that object had to have been created specifically for Sir Vera from the beginning. Either that, or when it is completed, post-process it to resonate with Sir Vera.”
Miller chuckled upon seeing Henry’s change of complexion and added.
“Hundreds of years have passed since the Dream Demons went extinct. How could they have known about Sir Vera, who’s only in his early twenties, and connected with him beforehand?”
A deep sense of relief washed over Henry’s face. His trembling legs, which had been weak all along, could no longer support him and gave way.
Miller shook his head as he watched Henry.
‘This country bumpkin is making a fuss out of everything.’
In his inner thoughts, he was beginning to develop biased discrimination based on a person’s hometown.