There were mostly no changes to my status screen after Ariane sealed me off the source. Well, there was not supposed to be any change in any stats. She altered nothing, only sealed most of my access to the source.

Unlike Vital energy that resides in the body all the time, Ari or Asi, are both the essence of the universe. They reside in the body as well, however, most of the time, its the practitioner that manipulates them through their spirit. We touch the source, and that lets us manipulate the essence of nature.

My spirit was still D+, though the output had been changed to only E+, which means no harm done to me, other than the sealing, of course. Still, I felt suffocating whenever I tried to draw the power. It was not a literal feeling, but rhetorical.

And I have to attend the freshmen years. I sighed, coming out of the tower. Well, I haven attended that in the first place, but I knew it would waste a lot of my time. Freshmen were not given much freedom, their entire course was full of boring stuff, mostly on how to follow the rules, what to do and not to do in difficult situations.

I guess I have to play along with it, I thought. Its not necessarily bad, and perhaps its what exactly I need in this new environment.

My dormitory was a couple of kilometres away. My stuff should have arrived there already. Thinking that, I found an empty steel bench near the grand fountain in the middle of the facilities and sat down. The academy was on holiday, though freshmen were coming in, walking around, searching for whatever they found interesting, which were most of the things in the academy.

Be it the well-cultivated garden full of colourful trees and flowers, spread all around, or the shops—set up by students or staff—that sell magical items and ingredients.

I ignored them all as my attention moved to the envelope peeking out of my pocket. The headmistress of the Academy gave a task, so this should be something serious.

I tore from the seal and opened it to find there was only one paper inside. And it was a photograph of a redheaded girl in her teenage years. A frown appeared on my brows the moment I laid eyes on the picture.

”It can be, ” I muttered, and scrutinised the envelope to find if Im missing something. There was nothing else. Then I turned the photograph to find something written on the other side.

My reading skill in Duah was bad, but I could make out what was written thereafter peering at it for several seconds.

[Maya Oshea

Instructions: Keep a close eye on her until further notice. Don antagonise, in which you are apparently the best.]

That was it. There was no more info other than that. The name of the person in the picture which confirms my suspicions and what my task was.

I grunted, feeling a headache incoming. ”I understand why its her, ” I muttered, ”but why me? ” I don think Ian did anything to stand up other than screw around. Did the headmistress find no better person than me?

Kiron would be a lot better with his charm and flowery tongue. Hell, even Lorne would do good.

”Screw it, ” I shouted, and was about to tear the photographs into shreds when I heard a voice.

”Are you alright? ” A feminine voice said from the other side of the bench. ”You don look so good. ”

I lifted my head instantly and looked at the source of the voice. My heart skipped a beat instantly as I withdrew back a little.

Now Im sure someone was screwing with me, I thought and looked at the tower.

The one that asked for my welfare was a girl in her late teenage years with striking red hair and freckles on her cheeks. Her eyes were lively, but her face was tired. Her skin has a pale white alabaster tone like Anne, who seemed to have some unknown Celesti Origin, but this one was no Celesti or had any connection with them.

But she was fine-looking and would grow up to be gorgeous, with full lips just as red as her striking hair. She had one earring on her left ear and nothing else for ornament.

Also, she was exactly the girl whose picture I was holding, and she was the daughter of the Mad Emperor Lain, currently hiding her original identity to get into the academy.

”Yes, ” I said and fumbled to collect the photograph into the envelope and stuff it into my pocket. I looked at the tower again. Is she watching this? Whether it was or not, I need to play it cool.

”You don look good, ” Maya said. ”Should I call for some help? ”

”No, its alright, ” I answered. ”Im definitely not at my best, but Im good. ”

”If you say so, ” the emperors daughter said, and held me a flask of water. ”Here. ”

I took it without pondering. ”Thanks. ”

”You seem familiar with this place, ” Maya said. ”You
e an upperclassman? ”

”I was, a few minutes ago, ” I answered and gave her back the flask.

”What does that mean? ”

”I was demoted a moment ago. ”

”I guess that explains why your face is like that, ” Maya said. ”The Academy is tough, as I heard. ”

e a newcomer? ” I asked.

”It doesn show on my face? ” Maya laughed softly. ”Oh, Im Maya, by the way. Just admitted to the academy to become the greatest Magus of all time. ”

”Ian, ” I said. ”Good luck on your journey to becoming the greatest Magus of all time. ”

Maya flustered. ”You didn laugh. ”

”I didn think you meant that as a joke, ” I said. She might have meant it in a joking way, but it was no joke. She certainly has or will have the drive to become the greatest Magus of all.

”Well, you
e in the freshmen years now, ” Maya said, this time emphasising it more jokingly. ”So you will have the privilege of seeing me become the greatest of all. ”

”If you really become that, then it really will be a privilege, ” I answered, not laughing.

”Goddess, you
e dense, ” Maya said and stood up.

Those are really not jokes and even if they were, they were not funny. She could really become what she mentioned if she remains in the academy and gets the chance to grow.

Maya looked in the direction of the administrative office where freshmen were crowding now. ”I would need to collect my stuff and key to the dormitory. Anyway, nice to meet you, Ian. ”

She started running after that.

”Good day, ” I said after her. A sigh escaped from my lip as I watched her run towards the administrative office.

Its time for me to leave, too. I already meet too many important characters in a span of a quarter of an hour. Then a voice echoed in my head.

”I see you
e taking this job seriously. I was right to give this to you. ”

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