Chapter 48:

Epilogue: The Stars Cohort (Part 2)

The Heir of the Dragon


Est stared down at the floor. His grades spoke for themselves.

“Professor, about my Physical Training grade… I’ll try my hardest, I promise,” he said, looking up at Professor Darkflame. “Please, don’t tell my dad…”

“We have to inform your parents of your transcripts,” the professor said. His tone may have been gentle, but his words were like a sword pierced through Est’s heart.

Est hung his head.

“I know that House Jallbring prides itself on its swordsmanship, but certainly your proficiency in Support Magic is something to be proud of? You’ve got exceptional talent!” Professor Darkflame was trying to be encouraging, Est knew that. But it didn’t matter. He just didn’t get it.

“My father says Support Magic is for weaklings who only know how to aid others,” Est muttered. “A real man is supposed to fight for himself, not help other people do it for him.”

Est liked the feeling of using his Support Magic to help others. But his father just wouldn’t understand.

“Well, I’m not your father,” Professor Darkflame said. “But you aren’t, either. If you don’t have talent for the sword, if you don’t like the sword… ignore your father and focus on what brings you joy. What you want to do with your life.”

Est swallowed and nodded. He wished he could do that.


Shaune was quite grateful for this opportunity to explain to the professor just how flawless his magic was!

“You see, professor,” he boasted, holding his hand over his chest, “true art is about drawing out the best features of the subject, and emphasizing them! It’s why my Dressing Magic is so perfect! By weaving my enchantments into the cloth, I can maximize the specifically focused skills of the wearer, and by adding my own taste and style, I can create an outfit that suits them aesthetically, as well! Don’t you agree, that such a technique is the true embodiment of art?”

Shaune looked to the professor, certain that one so intelligent could see the necessity for providing the female students with enchanted miniskirts that boosted their physical capabilities.

The professor smiled, though it was a little shaky, and nodded his head. “Well, you are certainly passionate about this, Mr. Klein. It’s clear you know what your dream of the future is.”

Shaune beamed. Of course the professor understood!


Ugh. Talk about a waste of time. Josie smirked at “Professor Darkflame’s” scowling face.

“Ms. Krost, please take your feet off the table,” he said, rubbing his temples. It was amusing to see Damien so mad.

“Whatever, teach,” Josie said, rolling her eyes and pulling her legs down. She didn’t correct her slouch, though. “Anyway, yeah, I get it, you gotta talk to me about my grades, cutting class, I need to ‘apply myself’ or whatever it is you dumb teachers think is so important, are we done?”

“…Actually, I wanted to talk to you about your grade in Professor Lunark’s class.

Josie blinked, surprised. “What about it?” She asked suspiciously.

“Did you know you have the highest grade?” Damien asked.

Josie crossed her arms in front of her chest and gave him an indignant scowl. “Yeah? So what?” She liked the class, that was all. Luna let them call her by her first name, and didn’t mind if Josie cut. Not that she would, she liked brewing potions, it was basically the only thing about this stupid school that she enjoyed.

“So, I’m glad that there’s one class that you’re taking seriously,” Damien said. “Considering how antagonistic you are to the other professors, I was afraid that you didn’t have anything you enjoyed.”

“Hey, back off, teach, I don’t ‘enjoy’ shit!” Josie scowled, her face heating up. “Potions are just so stupid easy that I can brew ‘em in my sleep.”

“Oh!” Damien said, his face brightening. “So that’s why you ‘borrowed’ those extra ingredients and that recipe book from Professor Lunark’s office! Certainly not because you were interested in crafting at your own pace, ahead of the class.”

“Luna told you?!” Josie scowled. Realizing she was losing her cool, she took a breath and her smirk returned. “Hmph, fine, so what? So I like potions, what’s the big deal? You saw that hex bag I threw together for the Chess Games, that shit was killer!” Just remembering that brought a smile to her face. She doubled over in laughter.

“I think it’s important for every student to find something that they care about,” Damien said. “You may be practically flunking out of every other class you’re taking, but if potions are something you enjoy, I say keep at it. Professor Lunark can’t wait for you to take her elective course in your third year, you’re one of her favorite students already.”

Dang, Josie didn’t expect something like that from such a stick in the mud like Damien. She had to keep from smiling like an idiot, damn it! “Hey, let’s be clear here, teach, I’m not one of those cutesy girls brewing up mana boosters or painkillers or some lame shit like that!” She smiled wickedly. “But you want to talk about hexes and curses and poisons? Then I’m in. So don’t go pretending this is some ‘oh you just need to find the right path’ shit.”

Damien raised his eyebrow. “I’m not going to judge you for the type of magic you choose to study, Ms. Krost. We all have things we’re good at and things we enjoy. There’s no one telling you that you ‘have’ to be a specific sort of mage. This school is for you to study what you like.”

Josie’s jaw dropped. “Uh… serious?” She’d expected another lecture about how “a Krost is supposed to act like a lady!” or “how dare you go see that boy in such a short skirt?!” or some other boring talk about how she was such a disappointment. She certainly didn’t think that Damien would be giving her the a-ok to study the stuff she ACTUALLY thought was cool.

“But I still expect you to show up to your other classes on time and give your professors the respect they deserve. You’re still a student here,” he reminded her.

Josie leaned back in her chair and laced her fingers behind her head, giving Damien a smirk to assure him she would do no such thing.

“And while I may condone your extracurricular potion brewing, it’s not acceptable for you to add your concoctions to the food in the cafeteria,” he added.

Josie barked out a laugh. “Geez, teach, it was just a prank. Haven’t you ever pulled one of those before?”

To Josie’s surprise, Damien flinched, his eyes widening. He glanced away, shaking his head.

“That… that was completely different,” he muttered.

Josie sat upright, shocked. “No way! Serious?! Damn teach, what was it?!”

“That’s none of your business,” Damien scowled at her. Josie shook her head in disbelief. She never would have expected Damien of all people to do something like that. Maybe he was alright after all.


Rayan wore a smile as he stepped into the professor’s office. As far as first terms went, this one had been as good as he had expected.

“Of all the students I’ve spoken to today, you seem to have the most positive attitude,” Professor Darkflame observed. “I take it that means you’re aware of what I’m going to tell you?”

“No, no, I’m just generally happy,” Rayan laughed. “These past few months have been a blast. I mean, sure, my roommates aren’t the most social sort, and there was that whole mess in Estval, but other than that I’ve really enjoyed learning magic and getting to know my cohort.”

“If your grades are anything to go by, you’ve done a fair bit of studying, as well,” the professor observed, checking his notes.

“Come on, my grades aren’t that great,” Rayan laughed, scratching his black curls. “I’m certainly not at Ark’s level, or Audrey’s.”

“No, but the professors have noticed your diligence in your studies, and there was something else we observed as well,” the professor said, which intrigued Rayan. “You’re not just very analytical and thoughtful, but you’re also the sort of student who helps out his classmates when they’re struggling. Several other professors and I have observed that you’ve helped students with spells and formulas they weren’t quite skilled with. That’s very admirable.”

Rayan smiled bashfully. “Thank you, sir, I just like helping people, you know? I feel like as a cohort, we want to stick together.”

“Mr. Lavince, have you given any thought to being a tutor?” The professor asked, and Rayan considered it with interest.


Melody didn’t want to be here. She felt like the professor was judging her with those stern eyes of his. And why shouldn’t he? She’d been trying her hardest, but in the end she didn’t seem to have what it took.

“Ms. Liebert, at the beginning of the term, you were a very diligent student who paid attention in class and studied hard,” Professor Darkflame observed. “But I’ve noticed over the last few weeks your grades have been gradually slipping, and you don’t seem to participate as much in class. Is something going on?”

No, I’m just that bad, Melody bitterly noted. “No, sir.”

“Ms. Liebert, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the coursework, that’s something we can work through together,” the professor said. “If you’re having trouble studying-“

“No, I like studying,” Melody said, shaking her head. “I’m just… not very good at it.”

Professor Darkflame blinked in surprise. “Considering your grades at the beginning of the year, I’m finding that hard to believe.”

Melody sighed. “Professor… I like reading. My mana level isn’t very high, but I thought that I could make up for that by studying really hard, like Wendy. But… when I had the chance to show off my magic in a practical setting…”

Melody shivered, remembering how easily she’d been dispatched in both Chess Games. She wasn’t a very good mage. “I’m just not very good. My magic is too weak, I’m scrawny, I’m not pretty, I’m not even that smart. I’m nothing like Wendy or Audrey or Nina. They’re so amazing, and I… I’m just normal.”

She looked down at the floor, feeling the pressure of Professor Darkflame’s eyes. But when she glanced up, she was surprised to see he wasn’t disappointed in her.

“Ms. Liebert… I’m going to suggest you make an appointment with our school counselor. It appears to me that you may have some serious self-esteem issues that he might be able to help you with. For now, I’m going to advise you to not use others to judge your own abilities. You’re talented in your own ways, you just have to find out what you’re good at. You like reading and studying. Maybe you’re more suited to magical theory than practical applications. Does that sound like something you’d want?”

Melody looked into the professor’s gentle eyes and nodded.


Wendy knew the first thing she wanted to ask before she even sat down. “Professor, what areas do you think I should improve on?” She asked, and Professor Darkflame blinked in surprise.

“Well, that’s-“

“I really want to make the most out of my time here,” Wendy continued, adjusting her glasses. “If there are any areas that you think I’m falling behind in, please, let me know!”

She realized she was being a little forceful, and let out a sheepish laugh, sinking down into her seat. The professor coughed, and straightened up.

“Ms. Lolice, you’re definitely one of the more diligent students,” Professor Darkflame told her. “Between you and Ms. Angelique I’m not sure who I get more questions from.”

“So… you want me to ask more questions? Or less?” Wendy wasn’t sure what he wanted her to do. “Just let me know what I should do, and I’ll do it, sir!”

“…For now, I think you’re improving at a fine rate,” the professor told her, and she sighed in relief. That was good.

“Thank you, sir,” Wendy smiled proudly.

“You’re quite fixated with being a good student, which is admirable. Do you have any aspirations you’re working so hard for?” The professor asked.

Wendy shook her head. “No, but my parents always tell me if I do well in school then I’ll be able to find a good career in the future.”

The professor nodded. “That’s certainly something to aim for. Any ideas what you would like that job to be?”

Wendy’s mind went blank. “Um…”


“Mr. Macress-“

“Just Mac is fine, professor,” Dalton “Mac” Macress laughed, shaking his head. “All my friends call me that.”

Mac smiled as he saw Professor Darkflame’s face twist in confusion. The professor was a blast to mess with, he could see why Josie liked it.

“Well, Mac, I wanted to talk with you a little so I could get a better feel of what your goals are in relation to this school,” Professor Darkflame explained. “Your grades are fine, but you’ve only used spells you learned in class. Is there any sort of magic that you would like to learn?”

Mac felt his face heating up. He glanced down and played with a lock of sandy hair. “Actually, professor… if I’m being honest, I don’t like magic very much.”

The professor seemed taken aback by this, of course, but he recovered faster than most people Mac said that to.

“I see, then if you don’t mind me asking, why did you enroll in a magic school?” Professor Darkflame asked, his eyes shining curiously.

“Because I love Magic Vehicles,” Mac explained. “Magic Trains, Magic Ships, they’re just so cool! I built models of all the famous ones as a kid, and I thought: ‘hey, where are you gonna learn the most about magic vehicles? At a magic school!”

The professor nodded, and stroked his chin. “I see… well, I’m glad that you’re passionate, even if that passion isn’t aimed strictly at magic.”

“Sorry, professor,” Mac said, laughing sheepishly. “But my goal is to one day run my own construction plant, and create my own vehicles to sell, not to be a mage.”

Mac was surprised to see the professor smile at this declaration.

“As long as you have something you’re working towards, I’m happy to support you however I can. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a course that is suited towards an interest like that,” he said, his eyes sparkling mischievously.

Mac leaned in, curious about what the professor meant.


“Ms. Marsden, I have to admit that I’m having trouble figuring out what I should say to you,” Professor Darkflame admitted. Meghra scowled. He’d ruined it! She was trying to sketch a portrait of him for practice, since he looked rather imposing seated behind that desk with the sunlight streaming down onto him. She could turn it into an excellent painting!

“Excuse me, professor, but could you keep your mouth shut for a second?” Meghra asked, glancing up from her drawing. “I’m trying to get the wrinkles around your lips right.”

The professor sighed. “And then, we can talk about your lack of attention in class, towards both your professor’s questions and your peer’s attempts to socialize?

“Uh-huh, sure professor, definitely,” Meghra nodded, more concerned with the lighting than with what he was saying. “But I don’t have much patience for philistines like them. Most of them wouldn’t know real art if it smacked them in the face!”

A scowl crossed her lips. Especially that Shaune Klein and his stupid outfits. Those ugly things were an insult to artists everywhere!


Nina Marslow held her chin up and sat perfectly postured, keeping her tail sitting gently in her lap. She took great care to look her best, particularly not letting her ears twitch, or her tail flick around.

As the heiress of House Marslow it was important that people saw her as a noble lady, not some wild beast like the other malkin.

“Ms. Marslow-“

Lady Marslow,” Nina corrected the professor. She didn’t mean to be rude and interrupt him, but it was important that he understand their difference in standing. She was the daughter of a duke, he was just a teacher.

“Yes, Lady Marslow,” the professor said, she rewarded his good behavior with a courteous smile. “As I was saying, milady, while your grades are stellar, other professors and I have noticed that you don’t interact with your cohort often. You also tend to abstain from Physical Training. While there is certainly nothing wrong with choosing your own company, to have a fulfilling school life I think it’s important to be a little more social.”

“I spend time with Audrey,” Nina replied. “Would you prefer I hang around with a brute like that Rafe Eriksson?”

“That isn’t what this is about,” the professor said, shaking his head. “Let’s change the topic. Is there any type of magic that you’re interested in studying further? I’ve noticed you could apply yourself more to practical magic lessons, is that because the spells we’re teaching aren’t of interest to you?”

A smile spread across Nina’s lips and the tip of her tail twitched. If she had less control of herself, she might have purred. Professor Darkflame understood perfectly.

“Summoning Magic,” she explained. “Summoning magical beasts and other creatures to fight for me. I believe it’s an excellent type of magic for one such as myself.”

“Hmm. Well, we can certainly accommodate you in your third and fourth years,” the professor said, which made Nina scowl. She would have to wait until then? Pity.

“Until then, it helps to become comfortable with animals. That will help you bond quicker with your chosen summon. If you like, I can speak with Professor Salamandra to sign you up for some volunteer hours in the Menagerie.”

Nina nearly hissed. Working with animals? As a volunteer?! The professor might as well have struck her across the face. She was no lowborn beast!


“Ms. Moonshadow, I wanted to talk to you about applying yourself,” Professor Darkflame said, looking through his notes. “Outside of your History and Magical Law class, your grades could definitely show improvement.”

That was what Eve always heard. “Apply yourself.” Like she wasn’t acting this way on purpose or something.

“Yes, I would agree. You must apply yourself,” Bell agreed with the professor, staring sternly down at Eve.

Eve’s eye twitched. She didn’t want to hear that from Bell of all people.

“I’m also concerned about your behavior in Estval,” the professor continued. “Sneaking away from your group and getting caught up in that mess, you need to be more careful. If you had been caught alone, then you could have gotten seriously hurt.

Good. So they didn’t say anything. Eve let out a light sigh of relief. She’d sworn everyone to secrecy about the events in Estval and her magic, promising to explain the nature of her illusions later. Reed had helped convince Elly and the prince, and they were the only ones who knew anyway.

Now that the dragons had hatched, there would be more people coming to steal them. Eggs were a curiosity. But five dragons? That was power. And Eve would make sure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands, just as her master wished.

So to do that, she needed to play at being the mediocre student a little longer.


“Disrespectful attitude. Refuses to follow instructions. Questions the teacher. Doesn’t participate in group activities.” Professor Darkflame glanced up from his notes, giving Morgan a curious look. “Tell me Mr. Okoro, how does someone who seems so respectful get a report like that from Miss Esterwind?”

Morgan sighed. The professor wouldn’t understand.

“Forgive me, sir. I don’t mean to be disrespectful,” he said quietly. “But I refuse to put myself into a situation where I would hurt another person. Even in sparring.”

“I noticed that you also don’t put much effort into Attack Magic,” Professor Darkflame observed. “I assume your aversion to that stems from the same thing? I this something you would like to discuss? If not with me, then with the counselor?”

“Is it wrong for me to not want to hurt others, sir?” Morgan asked. “Is that necessary to be a mage?”

“No, of course not,” the professor said, shaking his head.

“Then no, I would not like to discuss it with anyone,” Morgan said, shaking his head. They wouldn’t understand.


“So, Mr. Rano, what do you hope to gain from your time at the Rem Magic Academy?” Professor Darkflame asked.

Noah gave a sheepish smile. “Professor, I’m… not very good with magic,” he admitted. “But Professor Marina says I do have an affinity for Support Magic.”

“She’s said as much here, as well,” the professor nodded, scanning his notes. “Is that an area you’d like to study further? Perhaps Barrier Magic? Or Enchantments? Or maybe Strengthening Magic?”

Noah swallowed. “Actually, sir, I was wondering… what is your opinion on magic and food?”

Professor Darkflame blinked, a confused expression crossing his face. “I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“My family runs an inn,” Noah explained. “And until I enrolled here, I was working there to hone my cooking. And I was wondering if it was possible to somehow combine cooking with magic.”

“You mean like potions?” The professor asked. Noah shook his head, no, that wasn’t quite it. It wasn’t just about potions.

“I mean like Enchantments,” Noah tried to explain. It was hard to visualize. “You know how when you cast an Enchantment on someone you can give them certain boosts? So what I was thinking was using magic on food, and then when the person eats the food, it’s like enchanting them. Is that… possible?”

The professor had a look of amazement on his face. He stroked his chin. “That… is quite an interesting idea. I’m not the person to talk to about that, but I’d like to hear more.”


Jasmine stared across the desk at the professor, a nervous feeling welling up in her gut. She always felt anxious in situations like this, when all the attention was focused on her.

“Ms. Redfern, are you nervous?” Professor Darkflame asked.

Yes! Yes! I’m very nervous! What did I do wrong?! What do you want to talk to me about?! Jasmine wanted to shout. But as usual, the thought of speaking up scared her. It was hard for her to express herself, she hated how quiet she was. Ever since she was picked on as a child for being so tall, she’d developed a crippling fear of speaking for herself.

It was why she admired Sabine so much. Sabine always spoke her mind, ever since they were little. She was nothing like Jasmine. She’d stood up to the bullies for Jasmine’s sake, because they were friends.

“No, fine,” Jasmine murmured, shaking her head.

“Well, I wanted to talk with you about your conduct towards Elly, but before we get to that, I was wondering why you came to the Rem Magic Academy. Do you have goals you would like to accomplish, or some dream? You don’t speak up much in class, so I wanted to take the opportunity to get to know you a little better,” Professor Darkflame explained.

Jasmine froze. She didn’t know how she was supposed to respond to that. The only reason she’d applied to this school was to stay with her friends. She didn’t really have anything she was trying to achieve for herself.

As usual, she found herself unsure of what to say.


“So what are you interested in, Mr. Rubek?” Professor Darkflame asked. “Do you have any hobbies or interests?”

Gene was stunned. He’d never had a teacher ask that question before. Maybe Josie was right, and the professor wasn’t as big of a stick in the mud as he’d suspected.

“I like music!” Gene said, smiling wildly. “Listening, playing, it’s amazing! Whenever I’m hearing a melody, it just captures me! I’m actually writing my own song, if you want to listen? Oh, wait, I don’t have my guitar with me.”

“That’s okay,” the professor said, holding up his hand. “Mr. Rubek, I find it very interesting that you’re interested in music, though I can’t say I’m surprised. We’ve heard you practice a few times.”

Gene laughed sheepishly.

“Music actually has quite a lot in common with magic,” the professor continued. “The melody is just like spellcraft.”

“Yeah, exactly!” Gene said, nodding. “That’s the kind of magic I want to learn, Music Magic! Is that a thing? That’s got to be a thing.”

“Don’t worry, Mr. Rubek,” Professor Darkflame assured him. “That’s definitely a thing.”


“Ms. Scarlet, you have had quite an interesting time at the Rem Magic Academy,” Professor Darkflame said, glancing up from his notes at Sabine.

Sabine scowled. She’d been dreading this meeting.

“About your conduct-“

“I have nothing to say on the topic of Elaindra,” Sabine snapped. Her dealings with that half-elf had been nothing but trouble. Sabine was going to give her a wide berth from here on out. “And I don’t have anything to say about the inquiry, either.” She flicked her hair behind her shoulder and gave a flattering smile. “If there is anything you’d like to say about me, I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.”

Professor Darkflame raised an eyebrow.

“Plans for the future?” He asked. “I heard that your engagement to Calum Arslow has fallen through.

“Funny how that happens, isn’t it?” Sabine smirked, preening her hair. That piece of human trash was so far from her thoughts now, he wasn’t even worth discussing.

“So is there any particular path you see yourself on?” Professor Darkflame asked.

At the moment, Sabine was content to live her life with what freedom she could. “I’m interested in marrying someone high up, preferably a duke or higher. I just have to find someone that appeals to me,” she calmly explained. “Anything beyond that? No, no interest.”

The professor nodded. “I see. That’s quite a pity.”

Sabine blinked. “Oh? Why do you say that?”

“You have quite a bit of talent, Ms. Scarlet. I just think it’s a pity that you aren’t interested in capitalizing on it,” the professor explained.

Hmph! He didn’t even know the half of what Sabine was capable of!

“Yes, I know, I’m quite talented,” she scoffed.

“You’ve also demonstrated quite a lot of passion for your studies, even if not necessarily your textbooks,” the professor continued. “When it comes to practical applications of magic, you’re one of my best students. And that fire in you to keep pushing yourself to the limit, that’s something that can’t be taught. It’s who you are. I think there’s a real chance for you to make something of yourself on your own. Not just by marrying into some higher house.”

Sabine thought that herself, of course. But it didn’t matter. Her brother was going to inherit the Scarlet name. What was important was finding a good match. She just needed to find someone she could stomach being around.


“Support Magic?” Professor Darkflame clarified, a look of surprise on his face.

Jacen sighed. He got this a lot. With his hulking physique, standing a good head taller than most anyone else in his cohort, and the muscles to back it up, most people assumed that he was interested in more physical magics, strength buffing, Enchantments, weapons, magic to put his body to work.

He hated that his face made him look so intimidating. He really just wanted to help people. It was why he’d been paying such close attention in the Supporting Magic classes; his goal was to become a good Support Mage. But not in the back. A Front Line Support Mage was a difficult position to aspire to, but Jacen had the will to make it happen. And for that, there was a type of magic he needed to learn.

“I’m really interested in Barrier Magic,” Jacen explained. “Not just basic shields or anything. Something that I can really master. Are there any advanced types of Barrier Magic I could learn?”

Professor Darkflame nodded, writing something down. “That’s definitely a type of magic that will be available for you to study when you get to a more advanced level, Mr. Thordon. For now, I suggest you practice at mastering basic Barrier Magic first.”

“Yes, sir,” Jacen said, nodding, an excited smile breaking out across his face.


“Mr. Umber, I know you were struck particularly hard by Professor Saleigh’s betrayal,” Professor Darkflame said. Theo could tell that the professor was trying to be comforting, but he felt a bit of pain in the professor’s voice, as well.

“I’m sorry, professor, I know I shouldn’t feel bad,” Theo said, staring down at the ground. “But the professor… sorry, Rio, she was the first person who really believed that I could be a mage.” He sighed. Or at least, that’s what she said… She had been so helpful, so kind, he still couldn’t believe that smiling face was a lie. “You know my mana levels, so you know I’ll never be a great mage. But she was telling me all about how I could learn Bestowal Magic, Enchantments on things to make artifacts and magical tools to make up for that.”

No. You’re not going to cry! You’ve cried enough already! Theo admonished himself. “She really made me believe that even someone as weak as me could be a mage.”

“You still can,” Professor Darkflame gently said. “Just because she’s not here doesn’t mean you have to give up. You can still learn Bestowal Magic. We have other people here who can teach you.”

“Really?” Theo asked, wiping his eyes. Suddenly things didn’t seem so dark.


Elly sat down in Professor Darkflame’s office, with her head held high.

“Hello, Elly,” the professor smiled. “How are you doing?”

Elly smiled back. “I’m doing the best I can,” she said. “A little better each day.”

Elly had been helping Blake take care of his dragons. And as he’d opened up more to her and Reed, she found herself enjoying his company more, too. She was feeling stronger now, having helped him, having come out of Estval. She still had her bouts of insecurity, but right now…

“Right now, I feel like I can do anything,” she confessed. She smiled a little, still shy. “Well, maybe not anything.”

“Well, your attitude has certainly improved, and I think that’s wonderful,” Professor Darkflame said, nodding. “Your grades on the other hand…”

Elly’s confidence took its first big blow. As it turned out, believing in yourself and living with your head held high did not translate to a proportional increase in your mana level.

“I’m doing my best,” she insisted. “But it’s difficult! My mana level is really low, so practical magic…”

“Just do the best you can,” Professor Darkflame said, smiling reassuringly at her. “You still have some of the best fine mana control I’ve ever seen. And Nurse Leilandry had a lot of praise for your ingenuity in using Fireball to heal Blake’s injuries.”

“Oh, that was… well…” Elly looked down and blushed. “I was just… kind of desperate.”

“I’m glad you made it back in one piece,” Professor Darkflame said, smiling. “Now, do you have any ideas of what you might want to do moving forward? There aren’t very many possible paths with your mana level, but with a little hard work-“

“It’s fine,” Elly interrupted, shaking her head. She smiled. “I don’t care where I end up. Because I’m not going to look down anymore. I’m going to walk with my head held high, and look at the path ahead of me. And wherever it leads, I’m going to do my best.”

Elly wasn’t going to hide. She would confront her problems head-on, and grow to become an even stronger person than she was today, continuing her new life one day at a time.

Real Aire