Chapter 1

Aeons ago, there had been two types of people that lived in co-existence. These were the Humans, and people closely related to the Dark Elves, which have forgotten names but is referred to as Shadow Dwellers. The Shadow Dwellers were excellent practitioners of Magic, and they had given the Humans the gift of Magic.

Things were normal at first. They both used their Magics to prosper their civilization, and managed to advance themselves quickly with the Humans' creative nature, and the Shadow Dwellers' powerful magics. They managed to create advanced pieces of technology, infusing magic and machinery, and was very prosperous.

However, everything changed when the Human Queen fell ill. The Shadow Dweller King seeked the greatest healers in the land, but none of them was able to cure her. One day, the Queen finally died from her illness, and the King grew mad with despair. It was said he was desperate enough to call the greatest mages in the land to revive her, but all of them failed. He was depressed.

It was then, one faithful night, that a Demon came into his dream. It taught him of the power of Necromancy, and with it, he can revive anyone. However, in exchange, he must sacrifice human souls. The King, desperate to revive his wife, agreed.

So he called human peasants, and killed them to fuel the spell. Nobody noticed it at first, but after years the kill count racked up, and they eventually connected the dots, and they revolted against him. It was a bloody battle, many Humans and Shadow Dwellers killed, but ultimately, the Humans emerged out of the war Victorious. They banished the Shadow Dwellers from the lands, and started to recover what they had lost.

- break -

Raener wasn't someone you would call 'patient'. He tended to act on his impulses and whims, so when he had been informed that his mother had rejected his request to study in the Sybannian Magical Institute, he stormed towards her room. Nobody had stopped him though; they knew he can get rather violent if he wanted to, and if they accidentally injure him, they'll never hear the end of it from the duchess. So in the end, they just decided to let him do his business.

Raener opened the doors with a massive shove, his eyes scanning the place quickly. When he saw his mother, he immediately stood in front of her, his face fixed in a scowl. "Why is my request refused again?" He asked, anger seeping in his tone.

His mother stopped braiding her hair, turning her gaze up to him. "I already told you that it is an Institute placed on Neutral grounds," She stood up, then paced around him. "Anything could happen to you while you're there."

Raener glared at her. "I consider myself capable of defending myself," He summoned a fireball to emphasize his point, "So that should not worry you."

Sahari looked unimpressed by his trick. "Once people will hear of you, they will send their greatest assassins. Especially them." She said with a particular hate, almost hissing it out.

Raener scoffed. "Oh please, Mother. Even if it is placed on Neutral grounds, they only accept either the cream of the crop, or those with money in their hands."

"What must it take for you to reconsider?" She said, her eyes downcast. "We've already been through this for the past week. Why don't you ever drop the subject?"

"Because I want to," Raener said. "I had always dreamed of attending perhaps the best academy the world has to offer. I may be impulsive, or rash, but I had always wanted to seek knowledge." He remembered the particular words his mentor had taught him, to seek as much knowledge as he possibly can.

Sahari sighed, signalling Raener to step out of the room for a while. With nothing to say anymore, he followed her gesture, and thought about what he had just said. Ultimately, he thought, that it was a better choice for him to take.

- break -

"So, why did you call for me, Mother?" Raener asked. Unlike the previous time where he had stormed into her room, there was a chair prepared for him and Sahari, and even tea for them. Sahari had been wearing a green dress, which in Raener's opinion, suited her brown hair and orange eyes.

"It's about your choice to study elsewhere." Sahari said, sipping her tea. "I've decided to let you go. I've talked with some of my most trusted counselors, and most of them agree with your choice."

Raener smiled at her. "I'll make you all proud then, should that be the case." He sniffed his tea, finding it fragrant and sipped. He thought that the only reason he was allowed to go, was because Altus was the heir to the House, anyways. If he had been firstborn, then he wouldn't be allowed to go.

"Yes," Sahari nodded. "For the most part, it only involves you representing our House in good light. So that means that you should control your temper for the most part, unlike your little tantrum a few days ago."

"Uhhh..." Raener scratched his head in confusion, unsure of what he's supposed to reply with. After a few seconds, he settled for apologizing instead. "In that case, I'm sorry for my former actions then."

Sahari smiled. She opened her mouth to say something, but a clock rang out a chime, and she stared at it. "Looks like we'll have to cut our meeting short. For the most part, this conversation is just about done, anyways. I have an important meeting to attend to this hour."

Raener huffed. "I wanted to talk to you, but if that's the case, I suppose I couldn't exactly keep you for long, if it's important as you say."

She nodded and smiled at him, while ruffling his hair. "I'll see you later then, Raener." Then after she did so, she headed to her wardrobe dresser, and Raener took this as his sign to leave.

- break -

Three days after being notified that Raener is allowed to go, he was now currently standing in the train platform. The dashboard displayed that the train was supposed to be there in two minutes ago, but Raener found himself waiting for six more minutes. Then it finally appeared. Raener clicked his tongue in discontent at the punctuality of the train, before stepping in the emptiest wagon he could find.

He took a seat, and set down his luggage in the compartment just below his seat. He let himself relax, looking at the window across him. Plains stretched on for miles, and he found himself getting bored of the moving plains. There was only so much green Raener could tolerate.

In the next train station, someone boarded in the train. Normally, he would ignore this, but the newcomer had a strange aura around himself. It felt like... something was pressing against him, somehow. He looked a little older than Raener, had black hair with a few gray streaks, a small, faint scar across his black eyes, wore a navy blue jacket and black trousers ringed with bands of white, and on his back was a small dark gray backpack, and a metallic staff which was capped by blue metal caps with intricate designs on them.

He sat almost directly across Raener, looked at him for a few moments, before taking out a small book from his backpack and diverted his attention from Raener entirely.

Now that he was occupied with something else, Raener let out a sigh he had been holding. His mother's speech a few days ago about assassins seemed to have affected him more than he expected.

He now didn't have something to help pass the time, and with the stranger sitting directly across which cut off his view from the window, he was itching for the train ride to already finish. A few minutes of boredom in his part, then he remembered something to keep him occupied. He retrieved his luggage from below his seat. He placed his hand inside it, and fished out a small white crystal.

He returned the rest of his belongings to the compartment, except for the crystal. It was a Whiteslate Crystal, which was a rock which had exceptional magic storing capabilities, but the conductivity is poor, which makes it an excellent practicing tool for mana controlling exercises.

His mentor always did say that if he had nothing to do and he didn't need to pay attention to something, trying to put some of his personal mana in the crystal was always an option. It requires focus and willpower to place mana in the stubborn crystal, but he could always draw some of the stored mana he spent years on if he needs to. It was a mana battery, after all, albeit a difficult one to charge.

Raener focused, and he stopped paying attention to time itself. Everything blurred by, and he was snapped back into focus by a loud voice.

"We are now arriving in Sybbania. I repeat, we are now arriving in Sybbania. Thank you."

Raener looked up, and saw in the windows that they were in a station. He idly wondered how much time has passed, and how much stations they stopped at, if the train that used to barely have any people suddenly get filled with passengers. He shrugged, grabbing his belongings and stepping out of the train.

He looked left, then right, unsure of where to go. He remembered that he had been supplied with a map. Now armed with directions, Raener set off. While walking, Raener noticed that the man in front of him was the one he encountered in the train before. And he also seemed to walk in the same direction Raener was headed to.

He thought it was a coincidence, dropping the matter in mind. However, a few minutes passed, and Raener had a growing suspicion. After deciding, he decided to ask the man. "Are you also headed to the Magical Institute?"

The man turned around to look at him, scanning him again. He didn't really pay much attention to him before, but he did now. The one who had asked him looked fairly well dressed, as he had seen in the train before. He had dull red hair, hair which struck out in random directions. He had crimson eyes that reminded of a blood moon years ago, and they were much brighter in contrast to his hair. He was dressed in a bright scarlet button-up coat, the tail reaching down to knee height, and had black trousers and boots to match. Overall, he thought that he wore too much red that it almost hurt his eyes.

Remembering his question, he nodded, before asking a question of his own. "You're the one on the train I rode with, right?"

"Yes." Raener replied, smiling at him. "You were reading a book."

He nodded, thinking of what to do. "In that case, my name's Wyatt Burn." He extended an open hand to Raener, who took it. He looked at the hand that gripped his own, half amused by its surprising strength. "By the way, your grip strength. For someone who was using a Whiteslate Crystal, presumably to store mana, why is that so?" He let go, and fiddled with his fingers, testing them.

"I use swords," Raener said, his poise proud and dignified. "My mentor usually said it's a great idea to learn a weapon alongside magic. Anyways, aside from that, my name's Raener Zhean."

Wyatt paused, tapping his head, then he nodded as if he remembered something. He narrowed his eyes. "By any chance, are you connected to Altus Zhean?" Raener's eyes narrowed back at him, scanning any intent from Wyatt. Wyatt realized that Raener was thinking him suspicious, he let his glare go with a friendly smile. "Ah. Sorry. It's a habit of mine to glare at people when asking them something important."

Raener relaxed, then regarded him with an understanding nod. "No worries." He said, "I am his younger brother."

Wyatt hummed in approval. "In any case, I heard that the Zhean House specialized in Pyromancy. Is it true?"

Raener nodded, then flicked his hand and created a small flame. Wyatt stared at his display, then pointed his hand at the fire, extinguishing it despite Raener not sensing any wind or water, or any element which could extinguish fire. He scratched his head, idly wondering how he did such feat.

Out of corner of his eye, he could see a few people looking at their direction, slight amazement in their eyes. Then they went back on their ways a few seconds later.

"Are you also a pyromancer?" Raener asked, staring at the hand which had extinguished the fire. He paused for moment, thinking, then added, "It would only make sense. Your name correlates to fire in Elebenian... I think."

Wyatt sported a small smile. "Despite my name being related to Fire, I, by no means, am not a Pyromancer." He stretched out his arm, muttered something for half a minute, then a small flame appeared. It died a few seconds later. "I barely have any aptitude in Fire. It takes me too much time to use a fire spell."

"If you aren't a Pyromancer, then how did you extinguish it?" Raener asked again, his eyes shining in curiosity.

"Did you sense any Mana?" Wyatt asked back, and Raener blinked. After a brief hesitation, he nodded. "Good. By any chance perhaps, have you heard of... Joulemancy?"

"No." Raener said. "I don't the slightest clue on what it is."

"Put it simply, it's Energy itself." Wyatt extending his arm again... then nothing happened. Raener was about to speak, but Wyatt said something else. "You cannot see Energy in its pure form. However, in my hand is an energy orb I laced with a bit of light magic, to give it shape and color."

Raener stared at his hand then he saw an outline of a sphere. He felt the mana that gave form to the orb, and indeed it was made from mana. It felt like... pure mana, but he also felt that familiar signature of light magic, which Raener could describe as something that made him feel at peace. "I saw it."

Wyatt grinned. With a small wave of his hand, the orb was dispelled. "Anyways, that's about it." He stopped, and pointed his hand to the side. Raener followed it, and he saw maybe the tallest building he had ever seen in his life.

Raener was speechless. He knew that it was a big place, but he never expected it to be this big. Hell, it was so big, that it was tall enough to be uncovered by the small forest surrounding it. And the gates itself were impressive. Shining Silver metal bar on which intricate runes were carved on. Raener didn't know any of them, but they glowed with power.

"Raener Zhean, this is the Sybannian Magical Institute. The finest magical academy in all of Solrune."