Chapter 14: Nikki
Not All Teachers Are Evil
I stared at my mother's frail body. It reminded me that the last time I saw her, I was a totally different person. A deathly glow hovered her as she seemed to have been frozen in time for the past couple of weeks. She was in some kind of state of stasis, as High Magus Shiraea had put it.
"Please don't give up on her." I muttered to the High Magus. Then my eyes would linger to the Necronomicon that was strapped my mentor's side and glare at it deeply. "Phineas' death would be in vain if I my mom died that day."
"That is up to you." She replied coldly. "I am merely a guide."
"I just wouldn't know what to do next if you didn't find me sooner. My mother would have died." I confessed. She ignored me and we proceeded to leave for our private laboratory to mix some of the ingredients to feed our culture with. "My thanks will not always be enough."
Like always, she kept herself quiet and gave me further instructions to hasten the growth of our experiments. I told her how Samael described that venom that was used but she was confident that it was not from an insect from Qah'livan. She was sure that the venom used came from some otherworldly creature from the demon realm called Tartarus.
It may take some time to find the antidote for it. My mentor told me that due to the fact that Samael had a venom from one of the hardest dimensions to reach, it meant that Teios Kyr's connections would be far deeper than they have anticipated. I was thankful that she at least had the magic to put her body into stasis. That way we were no longer pressured to race against the venom's effects.
The only problem was we were still pressured by time. If the stasis spell was used on a body for too long, then the damage might be rendered irreversible. My mother would be in a comatose state permanently.
I took hold of my focus once again and recited the incantations from the book she But I still couldn't help but look back on the things that happened. Everything flew by so fast the moment she took me under her guidance. High Magus Shiraea was a very strict mentor but she was also caring. She made sure that I was always well fed and would always challenge me to think outside the box.
All in all, it had been several months since we left Earth and stayed in Altimeraea. High Magus Shiraea, whom I've also called professor, temporarily gave the leadership of the Citadel of M'Vokagola to another powerful Rune Mage. She said that she had grown a lot weaker in battle for the past decade and would want to help me take down Teios Kyr by traveling with me.
I could sense that she had a deeper reason but I had yet to know about it. It was utterly impossible that she would leave her powerful position just to travel around with a stray mage like me. I was simply a convenient excuse for her to go out of that underworld prison.
But if it helps take down Teios Kyr, I don't mind playing as the convenient reason for one of the Solus Magus' strongest mages to wander around.
The professor and I stayed at her friend's house in one of the western countries, the Federation of Zidania. It was farther north of Teutesus and was filled with Elemental Mages. My mentor said that Zidania was the current strongest country in Altimeraea because it had the means to produce agriculture while having a strong battle prowess in defending itself. The country itself was self-sufficient and independent.
I've also heard in the streets that it was the country where the Black Sorceress came from. She was raised somewhere in the Southern Region of Zidania called Athos. There were times that the professor would have be go on errands for me to be more familiar in Altimeraea.
But we were still far from that place of the enemy's hometown because the house, or rather, her friend's small mansion was in the Eastern Region called Drostein. We were in one of the larger villages a few kilometers north of the Zidanian Capital, Gyroseus. It felt a bit like home because of a more suburban atmosphere.
Homesickness came in hard the first week we left. The first person I wanted to see was Otis. But the professor strongly advised against it. It would only put him in danger further because Samael's men would have already been watching. She assured me that she left some sort of surveillance on Otis and his family. However, I was not sure how she did that. I never bothered to ask.
Our short-term goal was to make an antidote for the venom that was injected to my mother's bloodstream. It induces a kind of sickness that eats away the avroi of the person from within. The professor stated that my mother must have been a mage as well or else that venom wouldn't really work. It also explained why I was a Necromancer myself.
High Magus Shiraea was clear. True magic can only be inherited.
I knew my mother had a lot of secrets in her past. But I never knew that she would be an actual mage. There was no clue at all within our house. It was almost as if she deliberately buried it altogether. The only clue I had was that one of her previous jobs always involved her into traveling to some foreign country. I could no longer wait for her to wake up. A lot of questions were just exploding in my mind every time I would think of her.
Back then, when she urged me to leave with her, I made sure that we won't leave our mother behind. So we teleported back to the hospital room when the coast was clear. The professor used some sort of magic to transport all three of us in the realm of Asphodel's deeper layer. I held my mother's arm and extended my mark to her body to feed her my avroi and avoid dying.
It was a quick stop before we left for Zidania. The professor explained the situation to the master of the household where we were given private rooms in the mansion. I took some adjusting because it was a different world. There was no technology at all. My reliance on the internet was too much and I had no choice but to keep reading in the private library.
A week after that, we set up some sort of greenhouse on one of the vacant shacks in the owner's lot. It took a while but it was funny how I was being taught on Herbology for those weeks. High Magus Shiraea was convinced that we needed to research on plant-life to look for the cure.
Eraquis Everglade, my mentor's friend, also talked to me and treated me like a son. His wife, Una Everglade, was very motherly. They mentioned that they were part of the House of Yeter'el and were proficient in wind magic. Their only son was an esteemed member of the Knights of Imperio. It was the country's elite military force. But during our stay, I've never met him.
For the first time I was treated like a spoiled brat. The Everglade family was one of the Noble Families in the region of Drostein. As such, they were well off and I had the chance to walk around their property. The Everglade Residence had a huge land that was almost as big as half of Madburrow. There were also other houses with children my age with them. But Mr. Everglade told me that I must behave like a proper Noble and avoid being an accomplice of the lower social caste.
Everyday I would be greeted by two servants, Mika and Yana. Both women who were older than me by a few years were assigned specifically to me and would attend to my needs. Even my mother had assigned servants to tend to her needs and makes sure she was always clean. They washed the clothes of their master's son and it seemed fit to me. The fabric was a bit ancient and can be quite irritating on the skin. I'd often find rashes on my elbow or my legs during my stay with them.
I tried to befriend them but Mika stopped me because it was not appropriate. It was unfair but I had to obey since I was only a guest in the household. She would simply ignore my attempts to try to talk. In short, I could only talk to my mentor, Una or Eraquis. And that just made my boredom even worse.
In those months, we studied heavily on Necromancy. But she also introduced me to Life Magic which is the polar opposite of my natural skillset. The professor was very adamant for me to learn the principles of both sides. In the first couple of months I learned how to use healing magic that could aid me or anyone in battle. I had to read on medical books from both Altimeraea and Earth. The books from my universe explained so much academic details of the physical body while its books from the counterpart realm expounded on magic that could help assist in restoring those physical properties should it be damaged.
The knowledge from Earth were used to diagnose properly while the wisdom from Altimeraea was to use magic properly. I was quite surprised that they have a large collection of books on Medicine. When I asked Mika about it, they just said that Eraquis' brother opted to stay in Earth to study there. She mentioned that he was a medical doctor in my own dimension.
It also surprised me that some mages would actually live on Earth and adapt to a different lifestyle. I began to wonder how many mages I may have accidentally encountered while living in my own realm.
In a nutshell, the professor was also teaching me to be some sort of physician that's why I had to absorb a lot of information and take biology lessons. During that time, I was enjoying a lot of the lessons that I wouldn't notice the weeks that passed by. By the end of the first couple of weeks I was already capable of healing animals that was almost dead back to full health. Thanks to my natural gift of intellect, it was easier for me to understand the concepts that she was feeding me.
The only thing that she prohibited was my experiments like the Alazonian Curse. I wanted to keep studying those to further improve them but I decided against my desires to respect my mentor's wishes.
Then I remembered one of my last conversations with Otis that I wanted to be a surgeon when I grew up. In a sense, it was being fulfilled in a frightening pace. I would notice that my hand would shiver as my youth was slowly slipping away. The bitter reality of life woke me up.
There was no going back.
Aside from my crash course of Life and Necromancy Magic, the professor also taught me advanced swordsmanship. Before, I was only able to fight due to some mysterious instinct inside me. She said that due to my several connections with the dead, I may have absorbed the knowledge of some unconsciously. And I might have been in contact with a soul of someone with a proficiency with the blade.
Yet she was also clear that it was not enough. Despite my complacent skill with the Nyxian Blade, I can still be easily defeated by someone who really wanted to kill me. She said that neither Eran nor her was aiming to kill me that's why I ended up living. But if one of them really wanted to then they would have went for my head right away.
It was a tough thing to take. But I knew it was true.
My skills improved all through those months and I felt a buildup of muscles in my scrawny arms due to the demand of my blade. In my hands, it was pretty light as if it was not made out of metal. But with regular training, I found myself getting stronger physically. My swings slowly became more accurate and had more strength from learning the proper stance.
However, the professor said that she was not the best teacher for me in terms of swordsmanship. Her proficiency with the blade was extremely good. But that was in terms of using a rapier. I had a blade that was a lot closer to a longsword but not really. It was shorter than the normal longsword to accommodate my smaller body frame. My mentor said that my blade also originated from the demon realm but she admitted that she didn't have much knowledge on it. I had to look for a different mentor at some point if I wanted to refine my skill with the blade even further. She also added that M'Vokagola didn't contain any books on it.
She simply admitted that the total knowledge of Solus Magus was simply a drop of water in an ocean. There were still dozens of realms out there that was not yet discovered by mages.
It was the end of summer when I charged my blade with avroi as I attempted to enhance my strength without compromising my speed. But the High Magus didn't flinch from my strikes. It had always been that way. When I observed closer, her blade was enchanted with a rune spell. With one swift stroke of her rapier, I was jolted a few feet away. It was insanely fast supported with strength as if I my blade was struck with a war-hammer.
At the moment of impact, my Nyxian Blade exploded into black flames. It also shot flames on the other hand of the hilt and materialized into a staff. In that split second, my blade turned into a scythe.
"Holy crap." I exclaimed as I twirled it around to test its weight. It was a bit heavier than my blade, of course. The added momentum of the swings would a big challenge of accurately striking my enemy.
"This is quite a surprise." The professor commented. She walked closer and took hold of the scythe. "I have no experience in using a weapon like this. It looks like it's time to move on to our next destination. We need to get ready in a few days."
"Next destination?" I remarked as I brushed my hair. It got a bit longer again the last time one of the butlers of my mentor's friend cut it shorter. "Where?"
"We'll be heading back to Earth. I have the perfect mentor in mind to teach you a better swordsmanship style as well as fighting with a scythe." She stated as both of us resumed our sparring match. "I'll explain later. Let's test how you would handle your new weapon first."
That afternoon I quickly learned how to morph my scythe back to its blade form. We also attempted to check if the blade can transform into other kinds of weapons but to no avail. We tried to spar but it was a lot harder to use. I was not used to attacking and defending with a longer weapon. It had a longer reach and it was easier to hit with harder strikes but was far slower than the blade.
She gave me basic tips on handling it and went sparring a few more rounds. I got slightly better from her tips but it was still hard. In the end, I reverted my weapon back to its blade form. The professor gave me an assignment to research why my blade reacted that way and morphed into a different weapon. All I could notice was it started to absorb my avroi as if it was alive whenever it was in scythe form. It was almost like its alive.
We finished that training earlier than usual and I took a quick bath in my private quarters. After we had dinner, the professor invited me to her study room to talk about our next move.
"What about my mother?" I started. My glare spoke it all. I was not going to leave her behind. But my mentor was unfazed. She was used to me glaring at her with distrust from time to time.
"She'll stay here in Altimeraea." She replied coldly. I couldn't help but make a fist with my hand. The tingling sensation to summon my blade grew strong. But I couldn't disrespect the person who taught me and cared for me in the past few months. "I already talked to the Everglades and they won't mind. They have a huge debt to me and I am taking advantage of that."
"That's not gonna happen." I retorted. "I'm not leaving her."
"We have to. I already received news on Teios Kyr is about to make a move and we need to make sure that we are there when they do." The professor added. It made my blood boil at the mention of Teios Kyr. "It's unreasonable bring her and if a fight occurs then she'll be a liability. She's already in a bad state."
"But what about my mother?"
"She will be well taken care of. Besides, we don't have a choice but to wait for the Atraxaia to grow. It may take a few weeks before we get to harvest its essence. I need to confirm the news with the next person we need to meet.
"Fine. But I'll hunt you down if she dies." I threatened. But she took it with some sort of nobility. In fact, she looked even sincere.
"We won't let her die." The professor assured me.
It took me a few seconds before I gave in. I had no choice but to trust her. It caused my head to almost burst and my heart clobbered my chest. The last time I did that, my best friend died. And now I am forced again to entrust the life of a loved one to someone. This time, it was my own mother.
"Where are we going to head to?" I asked, finally resigning to her.
"New York City." The professor said. I was kind of surprised because it was a big city. And I was kind of excited because I could finally have technology again. It quickly drowned out my dread of leaving my mother. Pathetic. "We'll be heading to one of the private buildings of FordTech."
"What's with FordTech?" I asked.
"One of their board members are very much involved with Altimeraea for the past couple of years. But I have yet to meet him." She explained. Then she rubbed her chin as she thought deeply. "Recently, a former student reached out to me saying that he was staying over with this mysterious Earthling. That former student is an esteemed personality here in Altimeraea and it would take a lot to convince him to stay there."
"Earthling?" I remarked.
"Correct. The person is not Altimeraean. He's also like you who grew up on Earth but conveniently has magic in his blood." She confirmed. "However, he has a very shady identity even among the board members of FordTech. He was almost non-existent."
"That's funny. Isn't that weird that they have a mysterious board member?" I asked rhetorically. "FordTech is a huge tech giant. It's a multi-billion dollar company and that was a miracle because it suddenly rose for the past couple of years."
"Almost like magic." High Magus Shiraea added.
"Crap." I muttered. The possibility crashed in my head. Yet the world of Altimeraea was primitive compared to Earth. It was one of the questions in my head because they know a lot about Earth yet never brought the technology in their own world. "My best friend told me about it one time. I checked them out and it seemed like they are slowly advancing the world's technology by a decade at least. As of now they are leading in software and AI technology. But I heard they are about to expand into producing hardware, too."
"We will not be having any lessons until we depart. Make sure you are well rested before we leave. We don't know what's going to happen next and we need to be prepared." My mentor admonished. Then she went back to writing letters on a parchment. "We will be meeting this mysterious person and we'll see what he knows about Teios Kyr. You may take your leave."
After a few days later, both of us warped back to Earth. We still landed within the United States. As usual, we had to take a five-minute break because I was not yet used to inter-dimensional travel. The last time I was on Earth was the day I killed Phineas.
I suddenly felt that heavy boulder in my stomach again.
With that, we went straight for New York City and teleported inside an alley somewhere in downtown Manhattan. It was weird because there was a hidden ritual circle in the middle of the alley. However, there was graffiti on it which hid it completely. I also found it awkward because I was back on Earth but I still wore the primitive Altimeraean clothes. The professor and I found a store where we could buy modern clothes.
The people inside the store made a funny look at us but we ignored them.
High Magus Shiraea bought a whole set of clothes for us and we changed inside before we disposed of our other clothes. She simply set them on fire and they vanished without a trace. Not even smoke.
After that, she bought me a smartphone and asked me to enter the address so we can look for it. I stared at her with a funny look.
"Your world is a far bigger place than Altimeraea." She said and shrugged it off. I just stopped myself from laughing because a powerful mage like her almost admitted that she will inevitably get lost in a city like New York. "The big city is a lot complicated and even us, mages, would get lost."
As we walked around, I started logging in my social media accounts and checking for messages. There were dozens of messages that I refused to check or else they would notice. The most number of messages came from Otis and Mrs. Chase. Those two must have been dead worried for me.
Some of the messages came from teachers and classmates. I was surprised to see that even Father Declan left a message. Eran was missing as well. I was sure of that. Dozens and dozens of them. When I checked the dates, Otis left a message a day before.
Crap. I thought to myself. He would know that I went online. Otis checked it regularly, it seemed. I totally forgot about that from the excitement of checking my social media.
I also checked the news on missing people in Madburrow. There was a picture of my mother and I. But my heart sunk when I saw the photo of Phineas who was also listed as a missing person. Then it turned to anger as I also saw Eran in the list. Even his photo looked innocent and angelic. And I hated that fact that it was used so effectively to gain my trust.
They can still find Eran, my mom and I. But not Phineas. From the four people who were declared missing, he was the only one who was dead.
It broke my heart to see the reality of what had happened over the past few months. I was confident the local police would have lost track because they wouldn't find me on Earth. I literally wasn't on Earth after all. And the big city was the perfect way to camouflage my presence.
After walking for half an hour, we entered into a nameless building. It looked like a regular office building. As always, Manhattan was tremendously busy and the people were rushing towards their workplaces. Most of them were in corporate attire.
Professor Shiraea and I walked to the front desk with a bit of vigilance. We were truly an odd pair. I was a pale-looking kid with messy hair and mismatched eyes. And she was a tall and strong-looking African woman with silver hair and amber eyes. But we also looked sophisticated with our choice of clothes. I worse a business casual attire and she went full corporate.
It was funny because we looked completely clueless in the sophisticated atmosphere of Manhattan. But the woman on the front desk managed to ignore that and ask where we are headed.
"Celeste." My mentor replied. The woman's face lit up for a second and typed on her computer. Professor Shiraea and I immediately took notice of it and the man behind FordTech made it mysterious all the more.
"Please wait there for a few minutes." She promptly said and pointed to one of the couches in the huge lobby. My mentor and I followed and left the front desk.
As I gawked around, everything looked exquisite and extravagant. The lobby itself could fit a three-story house due to its high ceiling. But one of the things that I took notice was a painting one of the huge walls. The scenery looked like it was ripped from Altimeraea. Even my mentor looked at it for a few brief seconds.
It was a some sort of medieval city.
"That is one of the huge cities in Sevel, Grimborne. It's a huge country in the Midvarde Continent of Altimeraea." High Magus Shiraea uttered. "It's also the city where the Citadel of Siegeveld is. Another school of Solus Magus."
"Looks like it's confirmed then." I pointed out and my mentor nodded. It was eerily exciting, too. This person is a potential ally against Teios Kyr if my mentor's student stayed here. "This man really knows what it's in Altimeraea."
Our thoughts were cut short when a woman stopped in front of us. She was wearing a corporate suit and her presence was intimidating. The mysterious person made a slight bow.
"Please follow me." She said in a soft voice.
We obliged and went with her. The woman was just a few inches taller than me. Her light blonde hair was neatly tied in a bun and her neatly cut bangs hover over her green eyes that were very serene. It strongly reminded me of Phineas so I made effort to avoid eye-contact. Her poise was extremely professional but there was that unmistakable amount of avroi around her body.
She led us to another room with a private elevator inside. The three of us stepped in and I felt the elevator shot upwards really fast. It was no ordinary elevator because I sensed avroi everywhere. At the same time, it's different compared to the ones I have encountered before. Even the High Magus was slightly bewildered at what she was sensing.
As we made our exit from the elevator, we were accompanied to the room that looked like a luxury apartment unit that filled the whole floor. Surprisingly, it had stairs that led upstairs. There was an enormous living room with a huge TV. In front of it was a luxury styled couch and a couple of young boys were playing on it.
The boy with shaggy brown hair noticed us and paused the game. Then he stood up to approach us. The professor quickly knelt on her knee and dragged my arm down with her. I quickly knelt on my knee as well. She grabbed the back on my head so I would bow downwards. I didn't even get to the boy's face.
"It's been a long time, teacher." The boy spoke. His voice was still undeveloped so he would be younger than I am. In my peripheral vision, he stood in front of us and his legs were wiry but sturdy. Almost like both of them were battle-hardened. "Looks like you found another promising student to mentor."
"Yes." The professor replied. "It has been a long, You—"
"Please spare the honorifics and stand up." He had quickly cut her off with a strong command. I found him even more intimidating than Eran. His presence was something else for a boy. "We are not in Altimeraea and it's only once in a while that I don't have to be called that way."
We both stood up and I got to take a good look at the young boy in front of me. He simply wore a cap and was even chewing on a gum. It caught me by surprise because he probably looked 8 or 9. Even shorter than I am. The boy was wearing a green hoodie with a Batman symbol in the middle and plain white shorts. I knew from fabric that they were expensive clothes.
He had that shaggy hair which was a mix of dark brown and a darker tone of auburn. Then his boyish features highlighted the freckles on his nose and cheek area. A thick strand of his hair was braided from the back of his left ear and laid softly on his collarbone. His facial features were elegant and very appealing. And his skin complexion was fair and smooth.
"Sir Raea, please escort the professor to her private room. Please rest for the meantime while we wait for Mr. Rutherford." The boy told the woman who retrieved us. She obliged happily and led my mentor to her room. I was just a bit dumbfounded why he would her as 'Sir.' The Professor comfortably left me there with the boy.
"Hey there!" The boy turned to me and greeted me with a goofy smile. He stuck out his hand that I shook reluctantly. I was startled with his strong but bright persona. "What's your name? Come. Stay and play with us for a while."
"I'm Ni-Nikki." I stammered as I gazed to his eyes.
Anyone would have taken interest in his eyes. They were eccentric like my mismatched eyes. He seemed to have taken notice of my heterochromia, too. The boy's eyes were brightly blue with a tint of silver. While the area around the pupil was specked with gold and hazel. It had a greenish hue that made it a bit different. The colors slightly changed depending on how the light strikes it.
"So, Ni-Nikki. What's your favorite game? I'm sure you know a lot since you grew up in this world." He asked excitedly. Then he dragged my arm towards the center of the big living room. "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell my name. Just call me Zion!"