XII.3 (RE)

“I expected better from a person of your status. Care to explain?”

  Head Maester Gloria was sitting behind her desk, hands clasped on top of the desk. She stared down at Dickus with fiery eyes, watching him sip from his teacup. Academy rumors spread fast, and with security being “mysteriously” held back from doing their duty, it was obvious the fight between Bral and Merlin was his doing. Dickus was smiling the entire time. Many things can happen when talking to a short-tempered person, so he tried to keep the situation from escalating.

  Dickus cleared his throat. “Gloria, I assure you—”

  “Assure me what, Hawkwood?” She stood up from her chair. “Nothing you had done in this situation gave me any assurance at all.”

  “Well, erm… I assure you will get more wrinkles with that frown of yours.”

  Dickus’ eyes widened, realizing the slip of his tongue. Gloria slammed her hands on the desk, making him jump. Tea fell out of his cup, staining his white tailored pants. “This is no time for funny business, Dick. My chi—ahem, one of my students got injured in an unsponsored fight. You had the responsibility to stop such, and yet you allowed it? What caused such provocation to happen in the first place?!”

  Dickus snapped his fingers and the stain from his pants turned into liquid. He took out a handkerchief, and the cloth absorbed the levitating tea. After clearing his throat, he explained himself while stirring tea to calm his nerves. “A particular… guest was within the premises of the duel. He wanted to see the capabilities of each combatant.”

  “And who is this guest of yours, hmm?”

  “He is someone of high importance. I cannot say why, however,” Dickus said, looking away.

  “I will not allow mysterious persons upon this campus. You know the rules. Even someone as powerful as you will not get away with such violation.”

  “My, my, a very bold statement.” Dickus lowered his eyes. “I must apologize. Lecturing me up a storm won’t do you any good. It is a secret I must guard with my life, for now.”

  Gloria looked at him with a fiery glare, but let out a sigh after calming herself down. “The name, now. I will not let this slide.”

  That was when Dickus remembered. Everyone knew the name Atlas Reinhardt, but not Aren. There’s only one mention of his altered name in a journal (to which he found and kept hidden), so unless if you look deep, no one would truly know his identity. Before his mouth opened to speak, someone knocked at the front door. Gloria told them to come in, and it was Stein who entered. He took out his pipe to smoke, letting the cancerous air fill the room.

  She swiped away the gas and opened the windows. “Stein, how many times do I have to tell you to stop smoking? The number of times I must bend the rules for you two…”

  “My bad. It’s a habit I can’t get out of.” He waved his pipe as he walked up to them. “Come on, been smoking when we were in our younger days. Gotta be used to it by now.”

  Her eye twitched. “You two are really a handful.”

  “Well, well. What are you doing here, my good friend? Don’t you have a patient to attend to?” Dickus came in.

  “Yeah, but he’s preoccupied with someone. The nurses should be attending to him right now, so no worries.” Stein pointed his pipe at Gloria. “Aren is the guest’s name. He and Merlin have some history together in that forest incident.”

  Gloria raised her brow. “Aren… Why is he so important?”

  “Cause’ he’s the one who did that massive explosion that day.”

  Dickus cleared his throat again. “Stein, that is very sensitive information. If word gets out, the Knights will—”

  “We can trust her Dick, don’t worry.” Stein turned to Gloria. “Listen, Merlin asked Aren for his guidance through the magic arts, which he accepted. I think this is the push Merlin needs to become strong. Don’t you agree?”

  “The teachers in our Academy can very much do the same. What more can a single person provide compared to our resources?” Gloria questioned.

  Dickus and Stein looked at each other then back at the Head Maester. There was an awkward silence between them. She folded her arms, giving them the look. “Come on, I’m listening,” she said.

  “L-Like I stated, it is a secret we cannot expose. A very strange matter, to put it mildly,” Dickus said, eyeing down Stein. He drank his tea and placed the utensils on the desk. “I will say he’s the best of the best. I ask you, Gloria Ambrosius, to trust us and him.”

  Gloria was silent. She scratched her head in frustration and let out an angry moan. Dickus and Stein waited for her to calm down, and she faced them after regaining her composure.

  “Fine, I shall allow it. Why is it I allow you two men to get away with things? I feel like an idiot…” she pondered out loud.

  “Says the idiot. You are one, just like us,” Stein said.

  “After all the actions so far, yes, I do agree. Us being here does take me back.”

  The three let out a soft chuckle. They remained quiet until Gloria spoke up again. “How sure this, erm, Aren person, can teach Merlin the mystic arts?”

  “Very sure. I will bet my entire wealth upon his success,” Dickus said.

  Stein and Dick noticed her skin becoming pale. The two weren’t sure why, but even with the faded expression, she took a deep breath and nodded.

  “He’ll become a fine man for sure. Perhaps even a legendary one.”

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