Chapter: 12

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The interior of The School wasn’t half as ghoulish as I expected, but actually looked like some grandiose mixture of the leather tents and wooden houses I’ve seen around the city: sculpted bones looked similar to wood, and served the same purpose as pillars in some places, stairs, walls and ceiling in others, and they even supported lots of hanging decorations; the leather didn’t have a single square meter that hadn’t been painted with colorful depictions of peoples and animals, or abstract patterns, and it had slits working as doors in some places.

It was impressive how extravagantly decorated the place was, to the point that there were too many colors, too many mirrors, too many light sources, and too much information to process, and, somehow, none of these things were conflicting. Even the floor was fully covered in fluffy bear fur!

Finally, we all reached an immensely expansive room, in which, once, it must have been the bear’s chest cavity: a hundred meters above, a rib cage curved into a naturally tall ceiling, from which, literally, thousands of different kinds of light sources hanged from. Opposite the entrance of the room, there was a dais over which four people stood proudly awaiting.

After all of the students were guided by the seniors to short stools, the people on the dais started to talk:

“Welcome!”, said one of the four people above the dais, opening his arms. His body was lean, his teeth white, his hair suave, and he wasn’t ashamed of showing it, wearing only a red loin-cloth, and many golden accessories.

“To the Bear Mountain!”, a second man over the dais spoke, an old eagle-man with stubs for wings, and a long beard made of feathers. He wore a long blue robe, and held an even longer copper rod with four points at the tip. After a while of silence, he nudged the person next to him, a woman whose features were all obscured by the simple brown robes she wore, but even then she did speak. Sighing, the wingless eagle-man continued: “The biggest magic school in the world! Knowledge from the frozen north, to the frozen south is available here, to all of you-”

“AFTER”, a third man above the dais, a frowning man with silvery hair and black leathery clothes cut off his companion, bearing his teeth. “After you pass through some examinations, that is”, he concluded, smiling threatening at the crowd of newcomers.

Only then the hooded woman spoke:

“…Worry not, little ones. Thy shall not be rejected henceforth no more”, and her voice was bizarre, high pitched at one moment, rough on another, always wavering, almost like the prayers of an insane person.

“Sure, you won’t be kicked out…”, the man with too many gold accessories shrugged smugly. “Just branded as completely worthless, or embarrassingly weak!”

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“Great joke, Council Member Aureate… But I shall clarify that there’s nothing worthless in seeking knowledge”, the wingless eagle-man threw a sharp glance at his companion.

“Yes, Council Member Elytrus, only in failing in doing so makes you worthless!”, the man with silvery hair laughed, crossing his arms.

“You’re noisy, Council Member Tanka… As always… Have fun… Little ones”, the hooded woman spoke.

“And you are a weird f*** as always, Council Member Umbra”, Aureate shook his head, holding up one of his pendants, and staring at it from various angles.

And just like that, the four “Council Members” of the Bear Mountain parted their ways: Elytrus, the wingless eagle-man, and Umbra, the hooded woman one way; Tanka, the man with silvery hair, and Aureate (the last one to leave the dais), the man with many golden accessories, another. The crowd of students stood still in complete silence.

“…What the f***?”, someone spoke for us all.

Thankfully, the hundreds of teachers around the main hall seemed to be prepared for the awkward occasion and started to separate us into many small groups. While I was waiting around for further instruction from the teacher, someone approached me:

“You!”

I turned around, and to my surprise, there it was Ursus, arms crossed, frowning. By his side, stood the skittish girl I saw before, covering the boy with compliments while he just stood there, glancing suspiciously at me; her clothes had more holes than fabric, her hair was even worse cut than Ike’s, and freckles and a big nose didn’t make her look any better.

The girl followed her friend’s (?) gaze, and as soon as her eyes met mine, her expression changed. Her smile died, her eyelids covered her eyes halfway through, and her chest and shoulders went up. Still looking straight into my eyes, she said with no hesitation:

“Slave.”

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“…What?” I wanted to quote the someone from before, but contained myself. The ugly girl simply shrugged and went back to adulate Ursus.

“That’s what we will see…”, Ursus replied to the girl, without taking his eyes off me.

— New chapter is coming soon —
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