Lying in his room with a book in hand a boy laughs at the words on the page. The book was the newest release to a light novel he had been addicted to – Lilith's Return. A story based on the life of a girl named Lilith who had been banished to hell and was making her way back into heaven. Through the events of making bad deals, and even worse mistakes she found herself constantly going one step forward to take two backward. The last novel had ended with her standing in front of the gates of heaven a step away from her goal.
"I shouldn't be surprised. After spending so much time in linear pursuit of her goal of heaven when she finally gets there she finds it to be no different than the hell she had previously been in. Unless something changes in the next few chapters, I can't expect this to be on shelves much more than a few hours from now." The boy tells himself while closing the book.
In a corner of his room was a bookcase filled with an endless number of books. Grabbing the whole series of Lilith's Redemption, he takes them off the shelf followed by putting them into a box labeled banned books. The room was filled to the brim with books making the boy look like a bibliophilic.
Wiping his hands together to get off the dust, he hears his stomach growl. Taking note of the time being noon he leaves his books to go make himself food. Making his way downstairs he enters a kitchen that unexpectedly was clean. The last he remembered was it being piled up in instant noodles cups and cooking books. Walking over the fridge he finds a single note hanging from a magnet, "You really should learn how to clean after yourself! Best of luck with getting into strategist school! –Demon".
Crumbling the note in one hand he rubs his temple with his other. Forgetting about his hunger he walks over the door, opening it to find the lock broken. "That's the fourth time this week!" He shouts in anger. For a moment, he was tempted to get a hammer and wood to board off all the windows but then he remembers that they would just break through without him awakening. He already remembers the smirk he had on his face when he had thought of the plan but when awakening the next morning he found a note much like this one that said, "Oh come on Aster, trying to keep little old me out? That hurts! You will need to do much better. –Demon" When reading it he was completely distraught wanting to hide in a thousand-foot ditch for the pride he had previously felt.
"The Demon again?" A guy asks from the other side of the doorway.
Aster only nods before walking over a closet in the corner of the kitchen to get a new lock. "If they only came and cleaned up after me I wouldn't care. I would have even thanked them." He says while walking back and kneeling down to unscrew the old one.
"But no, they have to steal a different book every time they come! Since the start of this, they have stolen 276 books! Who cares if the books are technically banned so I shouldn't have had them anyway, but the morality still stands of them being a thief!"
"You should be glad then, think about what the magic council would have done if they had found you with those books. Becoming a strategist would be the least of your worries." The guy pauses for a moment while Aster continues working.
Sighing the guy continues, "Then again knowing you those books mean more to you than the top school."
Having finished working Aster looks up to face the guy before nodding. "If I hadn't been cut off I wouldn't even stoop to going to school. Want some food?" Aster offers,
"What you got?" The guy replies following Aster through the doorway before closing it behind him.
"Yun, it the same as always, ramen." Aster answers while taking two cups of instant noodles from a cabinet.
Yun took the ramen from Aster before walking over to get a pot and filling it up with water. Walking over to the grill Yun lights the logs with a snap before placing the pot on top to boil. The so-called grill was only an iron basin filled with logs with a removable iron bar top.
"Whenever I look around this place I feel like I'm in a fantasy world. A world where there is no magic, the idea of innovation is what drives people to succeed not intangibles given at birth." Yun commented while watching a flame dance between his fingers.
"I think it's only we rely too heavily on the idea of our magic. It was only two years ago they opened a warrior academy that is comparable to the top mage school." Walking to a small rough wooden table Aster grabs a newspaper.
"'High Arc-Mage beats thousand-man militia from the southern country, Typrod.' The headline for the past week. Yet not mentioned is along with the thousand enemies are three thousand allies. The council sees the magic to be with without flaw, a gift from God as they define it. My family is one of the greatest offenders..." Aster explains before crumbling the paper into a ball and throwing it in a small iron bin in the corner.
Taking the ramen off the grill Yun pours them into two bowls while Aster rants like most morning. Walking over to an iron basin filled with ice Yun grabs an egg he had hard boiled the day before.
"...And they keep trying to take away all the books I adore! Freedom of thought means nothing to the council, only their opinions are allowed. If what I have predicted is correct it won't last another five years before a revolution turns the world on its head." Aster continues, he holds the council in great contempt. More so than anything else about them banning his favorite books.
"I could have you charged for treason just for those words alone," Yun added in a between a fork full of noodles.
"That would only expedite the time before the revolution. I would be their figurehead, so I wouldn't care. I have been tempted a multitude of times to turn myself in to do exactly that. The quickest way to change is to make it make every fault public, and with my background, I have the greatest chance of people believing me." Aster expanded in full support of being charged with treason for the greater future. Finally taking a breath he begins to eat.
"Why haven't you then? If you can sacrifice your life for a believed to be better future, why don't you?" Yun questioned,
Aster paused trying to collect his thoughts, "Because it isn't time yet. It will do more bad than good."
Confused Yun continues the line of questioning having paused eating with only his egg and a few noodles left, "What do you mean?"
"Do I get the egg if I explain further?" Aster questioned back, stabbing the egg with his fork,
"Only if I deem your answer satisfactory." Yun retorted,
Nodding Aster eats the egg before explaining.
"Hey!" Yun shouts,
"Can't have you going back on your word." Aster counters,
"Whatever, just explain." Yun concedes,
"Well, in a time of war what is most important?" Purposes Aster,
"Power, to wipe the enemies with a single attack! Simple." Yun answers with a smirk on his face,
"False!" Aster argues.
He continues, "Unity, a tyrant never stays in power because his own men turn against him. The council has been in power for twenty years and will likely only last five more years. During these next five years, they will be fighting wars against their own citizens and Typrod. If I join the rebellion it will take soldiers from the front lines against Typrod giving them a perfect chance to advance and turn the tides of war. I may win the battle against the council and get the rule I wish for, but it will be short-lived. What use is a country if I lose it all the next morning?"
"Unity huh? Nah power is more important. With enough power, none of what you said matters." Yun expresses,
Finishing his noodles Aster nods, "You're right with enough power, but in that same respect if you have enough bodies even an Arc-Mage will run out of magic leading to defeat. There is no such thing as enough power for there will always be another body to sneak past everyone and end the Tyrant's life. For that is a fate that is unavoidable, just the same the same way as the when two people act against the same target the one who acts first loses for the second person will stab the first in the back for greater power. Greed the greatest weakness of humans."
"Your plan is just as greedy as their own. You are no better than the people you detest. Greed drives you just as much if not more." Yun retorts having finished his own noodles,
"You're right, but you see I fight for justice and not power. I fight for the people. I fight for the freedom of books!" Aster counters,
"Of course, you do." Yun sighs not bothering to argue any further.
Aster was poor at explaining himself but his thoughts weren't wrong, unity is what wins wars, not power. Taking the bowls, he lays them down in an iron tub to be washed later. Hearing a knock at the door he rushed over with any hesitation. Behind there was the massager with the multiple pieces of mail but Aster only cared about one single letter. Walking back to the table he lays everything down before hesitantly opening the letter labeled academy admissions.
No matter which school you applied to the council made all the decisions from one place so the letter on the outside was unmarked. Take a deep breathe he rips it open and take it out to read out loud, "Aster Curtail you have been admitted to the Warrior Academy. Congratulations! Your service after graduating will be welcomed on the front lines..." After a few lines, it finally clicks in his head,
"WAIT WHAT! I applied to the warrior academy?" He expressed his shock with a shout.