Q: What is the source of the dark arts?
A: The otherside.
- - -
The institute was on a break after the academic year was over. Most of the students had left for their homes or were in search of adventure. The ones that are left in the academy should have no place to be or are too headstrong in their studies.
Even though this place was majestic and for nobility, there were commoners in fair numbers as well.
The cafeteria I was looking for was supposed to be just around the corner of the dormitory, but when I got there, I found it was closed with a notice that told all the students of the Knight department to get their food from the Magic department's cafeteria.
With my empty stomach, I strode in the other direction. I passed the fountain again and, with me being too hungry, I did not get to appreciate the view this time either. Even though it was the start of fall, I could not help but feel a little hot here. Sweat beads formed on my forehead as I wiped it with my sleeve. Weird.
The Magus department was far more vacant than the Knights'. Magi were typically trained indoors or invest themselves in the archive. I made my way towards the cafeteria, thinking learning wizardry was not a bad choice either. Scar had the talent for it, but no intention, as it contains a lot of studying. I will check that out later, but now filling my stomach takes priority.
There were a few people present as I walked on the glass marble floor. Rows of tables were spread throughout the entire hall. There were only about a dozen people present. Most of them looked at me when I entered and then got back to their business, whispering among themselves. Just as I was about to place an order, someone hit me on the shoulder.
"Oscar!" a voice screamed behind me. It was not an enraged scream, though it was loud enough to convulse my eardrums.
I looked back and saw a tall, handsome-looking man with blond hair and fair skin. He was not wearing a uniform, but a shirt and an overcoat above it, with a grin on his lips. He could be anybody, but his handsome appearance and scream pointed towards a very few that I read in the book. This could be Ben from House Dockrell. According to the book, they had a merry relationship with House Emberheart, and Ben was a nice fellow.
"Don't ever do that again," I barked at him stiffly.
"Alright, alright," the youth said, though I did not know if he took my words seriously. Ben then looked around as if to see my tail. "That’s odd. Where is your group of delinquents?"
Right. Scar used to hang out with a few delinquents from the academy and could be called their boss. They should be away on vacation as well.
“At the very least, I hoped to see Julies,” Ben said again. “Funny fella, he is. There are perhaps a handful of times I have seen him without tailing you.”
“I can say the same for Kyle,” I replied, and waited for Ben to get flustered.
“He will be back in a few days,” Ben said, looking away.
“Before the festival, I reckon,” I said, trying to sound as normal as I could. Somehow, I felt like a thief talking with Ben, with the fear of being discovered as an imposter with just a single wrong word. Fortunately, there’s nothing to worry about there. I get paranoia like that at times.
Ben did not acknowledge or dismiss my words and instead looked around the cafeteria. Still so flustered at my hints.
"I need food," I said and went to the reception. There was a lady in her late forties sitting. "Get me the usual."
"The usual is not available," the cafeteria staff said, not even giving me a look, busy with whatever she was reading. "You can only get the special dishes at this hour. Browse through this and choose."
She gave me the menu card, and I browsed through it. Considering this was the cafeteria of the magic department, all the food was more extravagant and extremely beneficial to the spirit force. Everything looked delicious, but it was quite pricey; even the cheapest option was 50 tills. In the end, I chose a dish of meat with a few salads and seasonings. 73 tills in total. The other youth who was beside me made his order, and it was even more luxurious, billing over 2 dynes—the average monthly spending for a lower-class family.
Ben was a student in the Knight department, and with the allowance he got from home and earned through the missions, spending such money was not a problem for him.
He seemed to have no plans to sit by himself and followed me to the same table. I did not turn him down, even though it makes me uncomfortable acting friendly with some unknown fella. Well, I do know him, though the book, and perhaps it will make it easy. I hope it will, since I will probably need his help with my training at some point in the near future. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with people; it was just that all of this was too sudden. I need to get my head around things for a few days to get accustomed to my new environment.
Luckily, the food caught my interest, and i manage to ignore anything else. The food looked far more delicious than my regular sustenance, and just the smell was enough for my mouth to start watering. The meat appeared way too soft and probably melt with just a couple of bite. I was just about to take a bite of the meat when Ben shouted again. This time it was not my name, though it still hurt my eardrums.
"Yeriel, over here," Ben shouted again, waving his palm, noticing the familiar figure conversing with the cafeteria staff, though the old woman behaved far better with her than with me.
"I told you not to do that," I snapped at the youth again.
"Sorry," said the youth, though he had his attention on the newcomer. He did not rest his hand until the girl came to their table.
"Oscar and Ben, two oddballs of the knight's department," Yeriel said, coming before the two of us. For some reason, I felt she did not like seeing me here. I wondered why. In the book, they have friendly relationships and could be called good friends. Was something different here?
"What are you doing here?" she asked, staring at both of us.
Ben mentioned that the cafeteria of the Knight department was closed while I examined the girl before me.
Her height was not the best of her feature, five feet five at the very best, but her other features were far better than her height. She had a gorgeous appearance, fair-skinned and dark-haired, but not as otherworldly as Yasmine, with her white hair and looks. But unlike Yasmine, her chest was fuller.
Unlike us, she was wearing a uniform from the department of Magi—the thick robes suited her well. This was Yeriel, one of the female leads in the story, and as I had read, she was gorgeous in so many ways. But she was not a grape for me to pick.
Giving her a nod, I carried on with my food. As I ate, I found myself far hungrier than I had imagined, and this plate alone would not be enough for me. Though the food was a bit too spicy for my taste, making me feel hot inside, I wouldn't mind another plate of it.
"It appears you are starving," Yeriel said and did not take a seat.
"Aren't you going to sit?" Ben asked. He had not started eating yet.
"No, I'm not that hungry," she said and was about to leave.
I suddenly stopped eating and remembered the backstory of Yeriel. Unlike most of them here, she came here through a scholarship and that scholarship was not even enough for her studies, much less carrying on with all the expenses. The usual dishes that cost around 5 tills or fewer were already finished today, and that should be the reason she was not hungry.
"Why don't you sit down? It's my treat today," I said, considering a little more spending could not make me poorer than I am right now. Moreover, Yeriel was one of a few friends Scar had.
"You did not say that when—" Ben could not complete his phrase, as I kicked his leg under the table.
Yeriel still did not sit down. "No, I'm going to leave," she said.
Ben was too dense to understand what I meant, so I kicked him again, until he agreed it was my treat.
"Yes, yes, we are celebrating. Something good happened to Oscar," Ben said.
I wasted a couple more phrases, and only then did Yeriel take a seat at their table. Seriously, this girl was too timid, even with her friends. I kept on staring at her, going over every detail of her behaviour, and found she was exactly the same as described in the book. Timid, and too honest with her expressions. And it appeared she was angry at me for some reason.
“What?” she asked, arching her eyebrows at me.
“I was wondering why you did not leave for home during this break,” I lied since I could not just say, I was just watching her because she was one of my favourite characters.
“Why have you not left?” She asked back, exchanging a knowing look. “It is the only place where we have some similarities. Sometimes one big blunder changes a lot of things, doesn’t it?”
I watched her bite her lips and found nothing to say. Evidently, her blunder was miniscule compared to Scar’s.
"So, what is the good news?" she asked again, glaring. "Was it why you are celebrating in the street yesterday?"
Ben looked at me, finding nothing. "What's the good news, Oscar?" he asked me. "You should be the one to give the good news. After all, it's your glory."
"I . . ." I paused to find the words. "Let's just say I'm celebrating the occasion of staying another year in the freshmen division."
I almost slapped myself at that. How could I find nothing to make up?
"Right, only Oscar will joke about something like this," Ben snickered. "If you fail again, this will be your final year."
Yeriel scowled at me. "That's enough. You two don't have to be considerate of me," she said politely. She probably found out what was going on. Maybe it was the poor performance from Ben. She stood up and was about to leave. "Don't worry, I have something saved up in my dormitory, but thank you nonetheless."
I sighed inwardly and kicked Ben again. This time, it was strong enough to get a response from Ben.
"Yeriel, sit. I will order your meal," Ben said, as he stood up immediately. He should have guessed I would not have stopped my kicking if he had not solved it.
"Sit down, sit down," I said again. "Ben, will you mind getting me another plate? I feel awfully hungry today. "Ben had already left, and Yeriel did not sit back down, gawking at me. Did I do something to her? The simple answer was no, but I knew better. A few hours ago, It was not me, after all.
“Is there something that matters?” I asked her. “Did I do something?”
The gawk became a short glare, as if asking: You do not know what you did? Then the food arrived, and the young woman from Endus could only sit. The place and the way she was raised, even if wasting a single grain, is sin, and even though Yeriel came a long way from there, her upbringing was still in her blood and bones.
She said to me, "I'll give you back the money when I have enough," she said to me in one go, and I believed her. "Not because I'm ungrateful to you for offering me a meal, but because the money you are spending is not yours."
My eyes blinked at the fair maiden.
"Do you ever wonder how tough Yasmine had it? On top of her family situation, she had to take care of you, and you still make things difficult for her, with the excuse of your mother's death. As if she or any other had lost no one."
That hurt, and I could not help but look down. Now I know the reason behind her glares. Other than having a good relationship with Oscar, her friendship with Yasmine was even better. The unfortunate thing was that I could not blame her or Scar. I felt like my insides were on fire, even in the cold winter weather, and it was not from her words.
"Oscar? She asked again, finding my behaviour a little abnormal. "Aren't you sweating a little too much?"
I brought my palm to my forehead and found a lot of sweat on it. And then my vision turned blurry as a damning fever swept over my body. It was like I was boiling in a pot. Then I finally figured out what was going on. It was probably a side effect of the awakening. Purgatory was a forceful type of ability.
In the book, when Oscar awakened it, it was already about eight months away from here. While I chose this early on, as it would be the biggest cheat I'll ever get in this cruel world.
My breathing got heavy, and I saw Yeriel's lips moving. She should be saying something to me or screaming, but I could not hear a word and my vision turned dark as well. And then I passed out.
Gosh! It's two in a row. Was it natural to pass out as a transmigrator?
Edited by Mysteries.
Proofread by kqwxz