The OCTAGRAM's CLASSROOM
Beneath the moonlit sky of dusk.
A lone figure stood in a clearing surrounded by tall trees. The wind was cold and ruffled its long hair as it blew past his face. It was an old man who looked like he'd been out here for quite some time. His eyes were half closed as if he had lost himself to a dream, but his expression was just that—a blank look devoid of any emotion. He looked up at the night sky through his silver-colored hair.
"It really is beautiful..."
The moonlight shone down on him from above, illuminating his entire body as he gazed upward. A black sword was sheathed at his hip, and he kept his arms folded across his chest.
The light breeze made faint whispers as it passed by the old man's ears. As if responding to those voices, the old man continued gazing up at the sky.
"...I wish I could go outside again and rule this world as I used to."
Just then, the sound of rustling branches broke the silence, and a girl emerged from the forest. She walked over to stand beside the old man. Her eyes glowed with warm pink light, and her voice sounded like bells ringing in the background.
“Cindra! You’re here!”
"Consider yourself to be lucky... it’s not every day that you have the chance to see such a wonderful sight like this."
She looked around the area before speaking once more, smiling softly. "If only you could return to your true form—"
Her words stopped short when she noticed something behind the old man. He was staring off into the distance, while she was looking straight at him.
"Ah! Baal sure did a number on me."
It was too late. The old man was already gone.
The girl opened her mouth, trying desperately to say something, but no sound came out. The only thing left of the old man was his silver hair blowing in the wind.
The girl turned her gaze back to the night sky, searching for the moonlight that had already disappeared. The only thing visible above them was darkness.
Some tears began falling from her eyes as she slowly sank to her knees.
"I... I can't let this happen again!"
The girl cried until dawn finally broke over the land, revealing the first rays of sunlight.
She then got up, wiped away her tears, and ran off into the forest once again.
A few days had passed since Cindra joined their class. And as expected, she was having no trouble adjusting to her new environment. Her face was bright red every time she smiled, and she was always bubbly.
The demon lord's lessons were going smoothly, too. Goro seemed to be excited to learn more about magic, and he was happy to make some friends along the way.
He couldn't help but ask himself why he was so eager to advance his studies. As far as he knew, learning magic didn't even require effort. All he had to do was listen closely to what the demon lord said and copy his motions.
If only that were true...
One thing was certain: Goro was completely unprepared for Baal's lessons.
He had been spending most of his time watching Cindra. The demon lord's teachings had proven to be a lot harder than Goro thought they'd be. They weren't as simple as following instructions.
He had a natural ability and a good affinity toward many magic elements but couldn't use them effectively. He failed to grasp the theory behind the magic. If he wanted to progress, all Goro needed to do was continue practicing.
And that was exactly his problem. He was too lazy to practice. He never had the motivation to study. Whenever he tried to focus on his studies, he found himself unable to concentrate. He struggled to stay awake during the demon lord's lectures.
That was to be expected from the sin of sloth.
He could only complete his assignments thanks to Kamiya's help. When asked about his homework, he just shrugged and said that he simply couldn't remember.
His grades were, well... He did his best to pass the exams.
At the end of the day, he wasn't the only one having difficulties. Everyone had his own problems, otherwise, they wouldn't have to attend Baal's lessons.
But among the other 8 students in the class, 2 were having a rough time: Kozue and Kamitani...
"By the end of this week, everyone should master the art of summoning," Baal announced. "With that, today's lesson has ended. See you next week!"
Goro nodded absentmindedly.
For whatever reason, he felt as though something was off.
Maybe it was because he kept feeling anxious while listening to the demon lord's lectures. Or maybe he felt guilty for not taking his studies seriously.
As soon as the bell rang, he rushed out of the classroom. Even before he left, he was already thinking about what he would do next.
Kamiya was waiting outside the classroom. Just as he opened his mouth to say hello, she spoke up first.
"Are you having a hard time again preparing for the exams? " Kamiya asked, her voice low and calm.
"Yeah. This is the third time I've failed to get a good grade."
"You can do it if you're willing to put in the work."
"I'm not sure I'll be able to... Not without help, anyway," Goro muttered.
"Then I guess there's nothing else for me to say," Kamiya replied. "See you tomorrow morning at the library."
When Goro watched Kamiya walk away, he wondered just how much help she really offered him.
"I am not taking advantage of her goodwill to help others... I am not..." He muttered to himself.
"Hey, Goro, hey! As always, you're the last to arrive, the first to leave the class."
Goro looked ahead to find two of his classmates: Chikao and Akira, standing right in front of him. He turned around and saw that he was the only one left standing in front of the classroom.
"I don't understand how you manage to be so late every single day," Chikao asked.
"I have my own reasons... I swear!" Goro responded, trying to cover for himself.
Akira started laughing, and Goro took that as an invitation to join the conversation.
"Yeah, yeah. You wouldn't be late if you stopped talking to yourself. That's your problem, isn't it?"
"Shut up, idiot!"
Both of them laughed. Goro scowled in frustration.
"Come on, let's return to the dormitory," Chikao said.
The three of them walked down the hallways together.
"It's almost lunchtime, so we can eat here.”
"That sounds like a good idea!” Akira said.
Chikao grinned and led them to the cafeteria.
"It's been 2 weeks since we started attending Baal's classes and even though we all live in the same dormitory, we never visited each other at night."
"Yeah, I guess we just got used to seeing each other in the mornings," Akira agreed. "Plus, we all take our meals alone, don't we? I mean, I'm not saying it's a bad thing or anything, but we have spent no time with each other as classmates."
"What are you implying?"
"Nothing. I just think we should make more of an effort to spend time together. How about tonight? I heard the girls are doing something similar."
"Hm." Goro looked around him, trying to find an excuse.
"So, what's it gonna be? Do you want to come?"
"No, I'm not interested."
"Oh, c'mon, Goro. Don't be such a party spoiler," Akira teased. "It's just some harmless fun, right?"
"Yeah, I guess so," Chikao added.
Akira turned to face Goro and added with a sarcastic tone.
"Man, don't forget an important thing! We're the minority in our class!"
"Minority?" Chikao asked. "What do you mean by that?"
"There are 5 girls in our class and 4 boys... Which means we're the minority. We should stick together and fight for what's ours!"
"Fighting for what's ours? What do you mean?"
"That's so stupid!" Goro muttered as he realized there was no way to escape tonight's invitation. "I just have to join you guys tonight, right?"
"Good. It's settled then," Chikao said. "Tonight at 9 PM, we'll meet up in my room."
Akira took a few steps promptly and turned to face Goro and Chikao, who looked at him with puzzled expressions. He then, with a large carefree smile on his face, announced.
"With that, I hereby announce the first general assembly of the boys!"