“Krism, you haven't answered a question in a while,” Professor Evesvyll says to me. I knew this was coming. Each time he asks for volunteers his eyes find me, and I do my best to look like I know what’s going on.
“Um...” Frankly, I’m not even sure what the question is, but I recognize one of the runes displayed on the monitor. A Life rune. So, maybe...
A not so subtle sigh comes from the boy sitting next to me. I cut him a dirty look and shoot him the finger under my desk.
Professor Evesvyll looks at me expectantly. “Krism...?”
“Is it... the Life rune?”
He stares blankly at me for some time.
“Krism, when you said you came here from Enaria, a country founded through its devotion to the magical arts, I had hoped that you would turn out to be my next star student,” he said, shaking his head.
I can feel people looking at me. And the sneers as they silently judge me...
This is why I hate magic.
In Enaria, people expected me to be great because of my lineage, and now my new school in Ne'Besky is no different. Because of my homeland.
“Alec, could you cover down for her, again?” Evesvyll asks.
The boy next to me, a real charmer let me tell you, clears his throat.
“The runes that Artemis use as conduits for magic naturally manifest themselves on the skin in unknown ways, and it's different for every magic user. That said, different people naturally gravitate towards different forms of magic. For an Artemis, manifesting a rune is as natural a change as puberty.”
I’ve been in this class for a total of three hours. After I was forced to introduce myself in front of the entire class, I was paired up with this boy, Alec Caden. My first interaction with him was a shy “Hello,” with the cutest little wave I could muster, only to be met with an uninterested stare.
Does he even realize how much effort goes into greeting someone when you're a socially awkward nervous wreck?
My left hand instinctively began to trace the outline of my Life rune. When I was fourteen it manifested on the front of my left thigh, like a cute little tattoo and in such a cool place. I was so excited to finally be following in my family's footsteps.
That was until I moved onto Life studies. Understanding Life magic isn't that hard, but when I try to channel the mana in my body through the Life rune on my leg, and cast a spell... well... there's a reason I was sent to another country to study.
Now here I am, in the city of Thrire, stuck in General Studies with no clue what I'm doing. Hopefully, after we break for lunch, and I go on to Advanced Studies and am surrounded by fellow Life Artemis, it will be better. Hopefully. Maybe. Pfft.
As if on cue, the afternoon bell sounds and our class dismisses for the day. I collect my things and make my way for the door.
“Ahem, Krism? A moment,” Professor Evesvyll motions for me to stay.
I feel the redness in my face as I approach his desk. I hate being called out like this, even if it is when everyone’s trying to rush the door.
I bow slightly with my hands clasped in front of my waist. My friends in Enaria told me this is how people show respect in this country. “I, uh... I'm sorry. I'm not good at... school stuff,” I mumbled.
“You consider studying here at Kleinencade Academy to be something you can just daydream your way through? Is that what you did at your old school?” His words sound so harsh, but his face was awash with concern.
I feel it. The anxiety creeping up on me.
I don't want him or anyone else to see me bawling like a little girl just because my feelings got hurt. Especially not Alec, who for some reason had not left the classroom yet. His legs were propped up on the desk as he leaned backwards in his chair and gazed out of a window.
“I'm sorry, I did it again... I get distracted easily, it's not you or your class. It's my fault. I'm sorry.” I always apologize too much, and it never feels like enough.
Professor Evesvyll crosses his arms. “Alec.”
Alec looks at us from the corner of his eyes.
“What do you think of Krism?” Evesvyll asks, nonchalantly.
“Shouldn't we wait until after she's left the room before we start this conversation?” Alec replies with a tired look in his eyes.
“That would be considered rude.”
“So is what I'm about to say about her.” Alec folds his arms and looks me in the eyes. If it weren't for his abysmal personality, he would almost be attractive. His dark eyes in contrast to his messy white hair is an alluring feature, but the ugliness of his words ruin it all.
My spine started to hurt. I always get so jittery when I'm in the spotlight, especially such a cruel one like this. I want to storm out and cry, but then I'm sure Alec would tell everyone that in addition to being a hopeless slacker, I'm also a toddler.
“Would it be accurate to assume that, so far, you aren't fond of one another, then?”
Alec shrugged. “I'm more fond of the potted plant on your desk,” he said. “And it would likely be more helpful on tests, too.”
The potted plant in question happens to be a horrid looking dead shrub ordaining the top of Professor Evesvyll's desk. I am held in lower regard than a lifeless twig.
“And what about you, Krism. How do you feel about Alec?”
The ball was now in my court, which is no good because, like anything else, I've always been awful at sports. My comebacks have all the burn of refrigerated jello. I shuffle awkwardly in place and avoid making eye contact with them while I formulate my response. With all gears turning, and what was likely steam coming from both ears, I muster up my courage.
There were a few awkward seconds where no one said anything. I'm not sure if they were politely waiting for me to go on, or if they were just in awe of how hopeless I am at everything.
Professor Evesvyll looks up, expectantly.
“Annnd?” His tone encouraged me to go on, which is weird if you think about this kind of behavior coming from an educator.
“Annnd that's all I've got.” I say quickly.
He shakes his head and waves us both out of the classroom. “You two are hereby sentenced to permanently being partners until Alec helps you in your studies, and you help him with his attitude.”
“Hold on, what!?”
Shock: the first emotion I’ve ever seen Alec make. And it’s a bit humorous to be honest.
“You heard me. You're a terrible person, boy. Don't act so surprised,” Professor Evesvyll exclaims.
“Don't redirect this! You know what I meant, old man! Why should I be forced to do what you're being paid to do?” Alec demands.
“If she makes an A on an exam I'll put my plant in her seat and make her sit elsewhere.”
“Done!” Alec exclaimed, enthusiastically.
“Um.. What about me?” I ask.
Professor Evesvyll eyes me curiously. “What about you?”
“I mean... What if I DO help Alec with his attitude... What do I get?”
They both look at one another before looking back to me.
“If, by the grace of the goddess, Alec makes a friend with another person, I'll give you any one thing your heart desires. I say that only knowing that it is a promise I will never have to back up.”
Oh ho ho, you don't know me like I know me. I might be shy and weak on the outside, but I'm darkness incarnate within. I'll blackmail Alec with failed grades until he forces a smile. I won't even have to try that hard. I'm already an academic train wreck.
I slowly became aware of my own eerie snickering and the disturbed looks on their faces. My face brightens red once more as I bow and see myself out the door.
As soon as I was out, I pulled out my phone and found that I had a text from Ren. She’s my most dependable, and... well... only friend. Of course she’s already checking on me.
How're things? Is the food good? The food here sucks. Most prestigious Arcane study environment in Enaria, yet feeds us freeze dried disappointment.
Are there any cute guys? Don't be creepy...
… Ren... Probably the only person more scatterbrained than me.
I'll get back to you on the food.
As for the boys, while I can't speak for all of them, my first acquaintance has been... Awkward...
Almost immediately after sending the text, my phone buzzed with her reply.
I JUST told you not to be creepy.
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Krism, a quirky young Elf, finds herself sent to another country to study magic. Her family name rests on her success there.
But don't hold your breath, because unlike the long line of Life Artemis that came before her, Krism is terribly inept. To this day she has never cast even a single spell.
She quickly finds herself locked in a heated battle of raw stubbornness with the school's prodigy.
He may have intellect, but she has... something! Probably.
It's a long story.