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“Hey! You! Wait up!”
The girl turned to look back and then resumed walking at a faster pace. “Hey! You Know-it-all! Wait up!”
That made the girl turn around and glower at the approaching boy. “What do you want? You foot-in-mouth!”
The boy panted as he finally reached her. “Don’t call me that!”
“Why not?” The girl huffed. “You call me know-it-all, all the time!”
“That’s because I don’t know your name!” Kiran replied testily. “And because you told me ‘not to forget it’!”
“Tch.” The girl eyes him balefully. “Are you my slave to follow my every word? Don’t you have a brain of your own?”
“Alright! Alright! I shouldn’t have called you a know-it-all.” The girl glared at him for a moment before turned her head away with a huff. Yet, she did not walk away.
“What do you want?” The girl snarked as she crossed her hands over her chest.
“Umm…how do you know all that?”
“Because I study and listen. That’s how.” The girl sniffed in disdain. “You should try it too.”
Kiran gave her a flat look. “Don’t be so petty. I already accepted that I shouldn’t have called you a know-it-all. And you called me foot-in-mouth too.”
“That’s because you called me a know-it-all!” The girl replied hotly before she deflated and turned to look at the boy. “Fine. What do you want?”
“I already told you,” Kiran rolled his eyes. “How do you know so much?”
The girl remained silent for a few moments as she eyed the boy. “My parents already walk this path. So, I know a few things.”
Kiran’s eyes widened and his mouth fell open. “Really! Wow! That’s so great! I can’t even! You must see the magic every day!”
“Hold up! Hold up!” The girl backtracked a bit. “It’s nothing so grand. My parents are Tier 1 people.”
“So what!” Kiran claimed with enthusiasm. “They must still be able to do magic!”
“Yeah.” The girl smiled at that. “It’s pretty great.”
“I told you all that two things are required to gain the Class, [Shishya].” The saffron-clad man began. “First was studying and the second was the loss of hair. Today, I will be explaining the need to study to gain this Class.”
“As I said previously, this Class allows you to follow your own path.” The man said from his position at the top of the earth pillar. “But how does this Class do that? This I will tell you all today.”
The children began to chatter but a small cough from the bony man silenced them. “Most other Classes have a set number of Skills and Spells to choose from when you reach the required level. But [Shishya] has none.”
“Instead, the Class will allow you to choose the Skills and the Spells depending on what you have been studying and practising.” The skinny man observed the children. “Of course, the Class does not make a Skill designed for you. Rather, it chooses from the existing Skills from the other Classes.”
“As a result, to make full use of this ability, you must be diligent in studying what you truly wish to become. Only then will you receive Skills and Spells related to your passion. Only then will you be able to walk your path.”
A few children raised their hands in question and the man called out to the nearest girl. “Umm, if we have to decide everything beforehand, then how is this Class any different from any of the rest? Guruji.”
“Good question.” The man smiled. “The simple answer to that is that this Class does not bind you on a set path. Say, for example, if you wanted to be [Farmer] and chose your first Tier 1 Skill is on the [Farmer] path but then you changed your mind and decided to walk on the [Healer] path instead. What will you do?”
“If you possess a Class on the [Farmer] path, then you would be stuck with what you have and could only move down this path. It is not so for [Shishya]. [Shishya] would allow you to choose the next Spell or Skill, whatever it is, on the [Healer] path.”
“But guruji, wouldn’t this create a very unbalanced set of skills?” The same girl asked back.
“Of course, it would.” The man smiled. “And this is why you must be careful.”
Several children raised their hand again and the man called on a boy this time. “Guruji, in the previous example, wouldn’t it be the same as wandering off their path? Shouldn’t the Class regress then?”
“Oh. A very good question.” The man nodded in approval. “The Class would not regress as both the aspirations are on the same path. Both the [Farmer] and the [Healer] seek to grow and nurture. Thus, the conflict is little.”
“On the other hand, say, if someone on the [Farmer] path, suddenly sought the path of a [Warrior], then [Shishya] would most definitely regress. One is the path of growth and nurture while the other is the path of struggle and strife. The paths here would clash horribly and the Class would regress.”
“Hey! Surabhi! Wait up!” The girl turned around and stopped to wait for the boy.
“Where are you running off to?”
“Why would I run off to somewhere?” The girl sniffed. “You just walk slow.”
Kiran rolled his eyes at the haughty answer. “Anyway, what classes are you planning to take?”
The girl didn’t answer immediately. “I don’t know yet. Dad thinks I should try for alchemist Skills. What about you?”
“Alchemy is a good path.” Kiran agreed. “I was thinking of trying for healing Skills.”
“Healing?” The girl raised an eyebrow in question. “I didn’t take you the type to help people.”
“I am not.” Kiran sighed and paused for a few moments as he considered to speak more about it or not. Finally, he decided. “My father is a [Warrior].”
“Ah.” The girl nodded in understanding. “Is his injury serious?”
“It’s not bad.” The boy grimaced. “But being a [Warrior] demands constant struggle.”
“I know.” The girl nodded. “They can’t gain Levels by simply by studying and practising. They must kill.”
A silence descended between them after that and the two simply walked, side by side, in silence.
It was after a while that the girl asked, her voice soft. “Is this why your parents sent you here?”
“Yes.” Kiran agreed. “My father did not want me to follow his path. He chose it because he had no other option. But he wants me to do better than him. That’s why I am here.”
“Most of us are here for more or less the same reason.” The girl sighed.
“I know.” The boy smiled. “I also know that I am the hope that my father looks forward to. It’s the reason why he named me Kiran. A ray of light.”
Within a desolate desert, inside a dilapidated shop, on a simple chair, a youth seemingly slept.