A boy lazily rested his chin on the palm of his hand. He glanced out the window, and out into the blue sky.
It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining. Birds were chirping. There were few clouds to be seen, and it was the perfect time to be outside.
He longed to go out. To play in an open field. To just talk to his friends. Spend time with the people he cared about. But—
He looked up.
At the front of the classroom, past the dozens of other children staring at him from their seats, a woman stood with her arms crossed, glaring at him. She adjusted the glasses on her face, and spoke sternly to him.
“Adrian, I have been calling your name for the past minute.”
“Yes, Ma’am?” Adrian asked simply. A moment passed, and the teacher frowned.
“Where are your manners? It’s no wonder you’ve been failing your language and formality— nevermind,” she muttered under her breath. The teacher straightened, and she spoke clearly. “I asked you a question. Do you require me to repeat it? If so, please ask nicely.”
Adrian did not know what the question was. He was not paying attention. So he just shrugged.
“Sorry, Mrs Hill. Didn’t catch it.”
That was all he said. The teacher sighed resignedly, and addressed the rest of the class.
“Fine. Since Mr Adrian could not answer the question. Is anyone else willing to volunteer?”
A hand shot up immediately. Adrian leaned back on his chair as he turned slightly towards the figure.
“Ah, Ms Onia.”
“Thank you, Mrs Hill.” A pink haired girl stood up and smiled politely. She cleared her throat, and began answering the question. “The Mana Revolution was started over a hundred years ago in 21 TD— 21 years before the Demon Lord was killed. The invention of mana tools was what allowed the Great Hero Xander to unite our continent of Soli to defeat the Demons in the Final Holy War.”
“That is correct. You may sit, Ms Onia.” The teacher nodded approvingly.
Onia pulled her chair forward, as she took a seat. But not before she cast a glance at Adrian, and… sneered.
She laughed as she whispered something to a group of children, but Adrian paid them no mind. He did not care about their antics. He rested his head on his desk, as time seemed to drone on forever. Before finally, the bell rang. Three strikes, and class was dismissed.
Adrian slowly packed up his things, as people around him began quickly heading out of the classroom. He stopped as someone approached him. The boy did not even need to see who it was.
“Adrian!” a blonde haired girl exclaimed. She leaned over and looked at him inquisitively. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you the answer. I didn’t know what it was either.”
“It’s fine. Thanks,” he said, showing not a hint of concern in his voice. “I don’t really care about history. So it’s not like it matters.”
“I know,” she said with a nod. “And that’s why I’m worried. I heard you failed the recent history test. I— what if you get expelled!”
The girl waved her hands frantically. She peered at the boy, as he got up with his books.
“I won’t.” Adrian pushed his chair in. He headed out of the classroom as Alice followed him.
“I know you’re top in the class for most other subjects. But we’re commoners!” she protested. “And if you get kicked out, I won’t…” she trailed off.
Adrian shrugged. He knew for a fact he was not going to get expelled for failing a few subjects. And even if he did, he was not sure how it affected Alice. So he was not sure how to respond.
He opened his mouth to say something, but a voice interrupted him.
“Well, if the school does expel him, why not just leave too, Alice?” Onia approached the two of them with a group of boys and girls alike. “Since you’re commoners, it’s not like the Academy has anything to lose if you’re both gone.” She laughed, and her posse laughed alongside her.
“L-lady Onia,” she spoke quickly. “I do appreciate your concern for the school, but I would like to stay in the Academy!”
“Too bad. I’d prefer it if you would not.” The pinked hair girl sighed wistfully. “Honestly, I heard that sometimes commoners are enrolled every few years to appease the public. But only a single one. I don’t understand why there’s two filthy commoners standing in front of me. Do you, Ilyse?”
“No, my Lady.”
A girl agreed with her, and Alice took a step back. “I apologise for the offense—” the blonde girl started, but Adrian spoke over her.
“Alice, what are you doing? Let’s go.”
She blinked. “I—, uh, what?”
“You said you wanted me to teach you maths? Come on, the libraries this way.”
“You insolent peasant!” a voice called out. “You’re in the presence of Lady Onia. You are a lowly commoner, address her with respect! ”
“Why should I?” Adrian picked his ear as he asked the question.
This time, it was Alice who piped up. She grabbed the boy’s hand, and spoke in a hushed voice. “Adrian, Lady Onia is from the Octavius family. She’s the daughter of a Duke! If you speak rudely to her, she can get you in a lot of trouble.”
“Listen to your fellow commoner, Adrian,” Onia spoke casually. She stared down her hand as she played with her fingernails. “A lot of people are unhappy with you. If you continue to push your luck, I might just have a word with my father, and everyone will finally get what they want.”
Adrian raised an eyebrow. “Is that a threat?”
“It’s a fact,” she answered simply. She probably expected him to apologize and beg for forgiveness. But instead, Adrian just laughed. “W-what are you laughing at?”
“Sorry,” he said as he wiped a tear from his eye. “I just think it’s funny that you can’t do anything by yourself, so you have no choice but to speak to your dad just to deal with a boy younger than you. That’s just so… childish.”
“Why you—” Onia sputtered, but Adrian was not finished.
“And you want me to show you respect? Sorry, respect is earned where I’m from. With how rotten you are, I won’t give you any respect even if you’re the Emperor himself.”
There were more shouts of outrage. But Adrian ignored it all. He grinned, satisfied with himself. Then he turned around and walked away from the small crowd.
“Are you coming, Alice?”
“What?” The blonde girl looked back between the angry group of nobles, and at the boy as he disappeared headed the corridor. Then she quickly ran after him. “I— yes. Wait for me!” she called out.
Onia watched the two as they turned the corner. Ilyse spoke up from next to her.
“Are you just going to let him get away with that?”
“Of course not,” the pink haired girl said.
A vicious smile drew itself across her face, as her friend took a step back.
“I’ll make him pay for what he said.”
Later, Alice chastised Adrian in the library for what he did, but he could not see why she was upset. Then they studied for a few hours before night fell, and Adrian returned to his room.
Xander’s Academy was a rich institution. The most famous academy in the entire world. Its walls and floors were made of a beautiful marble, and the hallways were well adorned.
Even Adrian heard about this Academy back in Villamcreek, thousands of miles away across the sea.
As such, there were no roommates. Everyone got their own rooms. After all, students who enrolled in the Academy could afford it.
She was not a noble. But she was rich. She was the daughter of a rich merchant who traded between the two continents of Soli and Vitae.
So while they were both commoners, Alice was, in fact, nothing like Adrian. But in a place where everyone else had an aristocratic background, they became friends.
Or the closest thing to a friend Adrian could find in this Academy.
Because this was the Holy Xan Empire. And while he and Alice shared a commonality in their status, she was still from this country.
For all Adrian liked his caretaker, Fria— who was not here right now— and for all Adrian took his academics seriously, he did not like this place at all. Because…
They were the ones who tried to kill Melas.
And they even killed her mom, Ms Aria.
So he did not like their history. He did not trust their so-called truths. Even if he left his home and crossed an ocean to come to Xanderia, he did not do it because he wanted to come here. He only did it because that was the only way he could get what he wanted.
He was going to make use of every resource he had. Make use of every opportunity he could get. To take advantage of the Academy for himself.
And one day.
Adrian thought to himself, as he raised a hand up and stared at it.
I am going to see Melas again.
After all, that was why he came here.
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