The canteen was packed with students. Rows of long tables and chairs could be seen. Shouts, laughter, and other voices resonated inside. It was so rowdy that it could match the market building in the commercial area.
“Wow, so big!” Lia explored around the large canteen, curiously looking at everything. Diega stuck closely to Zachariel, firmly grabbing his uniform. She felt uncomfortable when there were many people around.
“Uh, where the three of them actually friends before?” Luiz could not believe how those two girls kept on sticking close to Zachariel. He felt betrayed.
“I don’t think so. It’s probably because that guy is more handsome so they chose to stick to him.” Luka was rather unperturbed about their behavior. `That Diega, she’s clinging a bit too closely. How strange.`
As for Lia, he guessed that since Zachariel was the silent type, she could go ahead and talk all the time without being interrupted. `She doesn’t mind about not being replied to, either.`
`This guy, he’s not jealous?` Luiz doubted Luka’s reaction. They followed behind the three while talking to themselves.
“Oh yeah, Luka.”
“Why did you choose the Great Weaponry School when you have good mana control? Shouldn’t someone like you join the Great Magic School?”
“Actually, about that, my mother is an elemental mage and she helped me on how to control my mana essence. On the other hand, my father is a spear weapons master and he taught me about spears. I was more interested in my father’s training, that’s why I chose this school instead.”
“Is that so? Wait, if your father taught you about spears, why were you so exhausted earlier after using spears in the training field?”
“I wasn’t unable to form my dantian at an early age because of my mother, hehe. I only started my dantian formation recently. Although it was graded at 5, I was not accustomed to the qi essence and could not use it as efficiently as my mana essence to reinforce my body.”
Luka scratched his head in embarrassment. His parents always argued about which Great School should he enroll in. Luka chose the Great Weaponry School and he almost lost his and his father’s life because of that. Furthermore, he had to secretly train while on the lookout against his mother, and time did not give him too many opportunities.
They arrived at the counter. They ordered their food and were about to ask for the cost. “Oh, you don’t have to pay for it. We’ll just give you your orders soon.”
“It’s free?” Luiz was confused. Shouldn’t they pay for it?
A senior student heard his inquiry.
“You’re a freshman, right? You should know that the ingredients from these foods come from our harvests in the battlefield exercises. They are well-preserved and the chefs are paid through the points deducted from us after the battlefield exercises. There are many students so the chefs are not underpaid. The number of demon beasts killed is huge too.”
“Of course, you could choose to eat outside the school at times. You can use your points for purchase when dining at those restaurants.”
“Oh, is that so?” Luiz was enlightened.
They sat at the table on the far-right side of the canteen. Zachariel was forced to sit in between the two girls because they kept on pestering him.
Another group of students arrived and sat beside them.
“Oh, it’s you guys.”
Luiz recognized them. They were Iria, Kaela, and Ksenia.
“Luka, Luiz, Lia? Oh, Diega, you’re here too? Why are you so close to that weirdo?”
“I feel comfortable when I’m near big brother Zachariel. That’s why I stick close to him.” Diega’s voice was so cute they all wanted to hug her and pinch her cheeks.
“Uhm, big brother Zachariel?” Iria was confused. They just met this day so how come they’re this close already?
“Yes, Iria?” Zachariel replied to Iria’s call. Everyone froze for a moment before laughing out loud.
`What the?! This guy could actually be humorous at times?` Luiz could not believe that Zachariel just pulled that off. He thought that Zachariel was truly indifferent to the world.
“Big brother Zachariel, that was crafty.” Luka sarcastically imitated Iria’s ‘big brother Zachariel’ then winked and smiled at Zachariel. This guy was eviler than him.
Iria blushed at how Zachariel made a joke of her question. She covered her face in embarrassment and cried. `I’ll remember this, Zachariel Strom!`
“Big sister Iria, why are you crying?” Diega was worried why this big sister cried out of nowhere. However, Iria did not respond to her. “Big brother Zachariel, why is big sister Iria crying?” Seeing that she was being ignored, she turned to her big brother. “I don’t know, Diega.”
Diega was at a loss. `Maybe big brother and big sister had a fight?` She grabbed both of their hands and clasped them together. The two could not do anything due to her immense strength. “Aha! Now you two will get along together now, right?”
The group had just recently recovered from Zachariel’s prank, and now they had to deal with this little girl’s innocence and naivety.
Iria passed out. She could no longer handle what was happening right now. `This little girl, she’s dangerous!` was what she thought before passing out. Zachariel remained indifferent to it.
`This Diega is acting a little too much.` He looked at her then narrowed his eyes.
“Iria! Iria!” Kaela caught Iria and tried waking her up. She was still holding her laughter inside. Iria slowly opened her eyes. “Kaela…”
“Are you okay now?”
“Yeah…” Iria was still embarrassed, but she held it back. She supported her forehead with her arms and sighed deeply.
The food that they ordered was soon delivered to them. They were about to eat when a commotion started on the other side. They all looked over at what had happened.
A student with pale golden hair walked along the path in the canteen. His entrance reminded the students of how a knight-in-shining-armor would arrive and save the damsel in distress. His uniform was similar to Zachariel, with the insignia of a Prospect, though an additional pair of wings were added on top of the other one.
“Isn’t that Senior Rainald? What’s he doing here?”
“I think he’s looking for someone. Is it a girl?”
Zachariel and the group heard the gossips. “Senior Rainald? The Quicksilver Swordsman?” Luiz was surprised. A Prospect like senior Rainald was someone of a high caliber. The canteen was something far beneath his rank to tread into. “Ah, wait, Zachariel is also a Prospect candidate, right? Don’t tell me the senior is here for him.”
The group turned to Zachariel. They only saw him gobbling over his food, indifferent that a Prospect has arrived. `Hey, can’t you be a bit more courteous when a senior like senior Rainald is around?`
Rainald looked over at the other side and saw Zachariel. He approached him and inquired. “Are you Zachariel Strom?”
“Yes, senior is?” Zachariel stopped eating and looked at this good-looking senior that was looking for him.
“Rainald Hearst, a titled Prospect. I want you to come with me.”
“Where to, senior Rainald?”
“To the Prospect building.”
Zachariel was dumbfounded. He had just realized that he was actually a Prospect candidate. `No wonder that girl isn’t around here.`
“But shouldn’t the meeting start at 18:00?”
“Situation has changed. Let’s go now.”
Zachariel stood up. “Ok. Lead the way, senior Rainald.”
Rainald noticed something different about Zachariel. `Hmm? This is?` He squinted his eyes and looked at somebody. `Interesting.`
The group bade their goodbye to him. Meanwhile, the students started to gossip again about senior Rainald and Zachariel.
“Hey, who’s that student that senior Rainald is escorting?”
“Senior, you don’t know him?”
“Hmm? Why freshman, you know him?”
“Yeah, he’s Zachariel Strom, that Prospect candidate whose mana core and dantian grades are unknown.”
“That’s him? How come he ended up here anyway?”
“Why senior? Do Prospects have another area reserved for them?”
“Yeah, the Prospects and the candidates have their own building in the circular area. I think this Zachariel forgot about it or wasn’t told by anyone about it.”
They left the canteen and headed towards the circular area. After a few minutes of walking, Rainald asked Zachariel.
“So, you’ve noticed it?”
“Yeah, but I’ll play along for now.”
Rainald was rather impressed with this new Prospect candidate. `What an impressive feat for him to notice that. Prince Kane Cromwell, you’re such a disgusting person.` He clenched his fists and was filled with hatred against Prince Kane.
Another identification array formation was installed at the border of the circular area. Since they had the Prospect insignias, the formation recognized them and allowed them to pass through.
“This is the circular area. You can go here as long as you don’t cause a mess inside. The instructors, deans, and the other staff had their offices stationed here. Our Prospect building is located right beside the where the deans’ offices are.”
In the middle of the circular area was a huge building that was five-story high. Beside it was an extension building that attached itself to the main one. It was only two-story high. The place seemed desolate even with the parks and huge buildings all around. The birds and other creatures tried hard to fill in the place, but alas, the circular area was a bit too big.
“During this time of the day, you would rarely be able to see a figure here, unless you meet with the other Prospects. Well, since our school only has 6 Prospects and 2 additional Prospect candidates, it will be a common occurrence for you to go alone here without anybody else.”
Zachariel was not disturbed by the fact of being lonely. It was better than going along together with that Sabrina. It would be a waste of time for him.
Rainald examined Zachariel. He thought that this new guy would be confused or disappointed about what he said, but Zachariel remained calm. He was at a loss. `Is he that indifferent to the world?`
Although Rainald would be acting passive sometimes, he would not waste the chance to make a friend out of somebody.
“There are currently 58 human Prospects enrolled, with the additional 11 new Prospect candidates from the recent school selection event. There were supposed to be 12 of you but my stupid younger brother killed himself in the process.”
Rainald did not felt sympathy for his younger brother Sam when he was executed.
“If you are wondering about the other Prospects, when a Prospect graduate here, they will no longer be designated as a Prospect. Their title will still remain, though. Those who graduated as Prospects either enroll in the Supreme Pandragean Academy, or be a high member of the five guilds, or join in the Imperium Army’s elite squad, the Exalted Golden Imperium Corps.”
They continued along the path and soon arrived in front of the Prospect Building.
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