Chapter 3:

First Loss

Convergence. Eli and Ama.


The incident created a scene for the entire class. Everyone in my class was on edge, their gazes fixed on the scene. Yet, I couldn't bring myself to let go of Amaya, her tears soaking into my shoulder as if she was drowning in her own emotions.

Yoru approached us, his voice filled with genuine concern. "Are you both alright? We should go to the infirmary now. I'll come with you."

Honestly, I couldn't fully comprehend Yoru's words. My mind was clouded by a surge of crimson thorns, urging me to rush towards those three girls. But just as Yoru displayed his care, Amaya's tears suddenly ceased. Although her grasp on my school uniform remained tight, her attention shifted toward the compassionate figure who had approached us. At that moment, I felt a flicker of trust ignite within me, believing that Yoru was someone I could rely on. And at the same time, one of the girls stepped forward, advancing towards us.

"I'm sorry, we didn't mean to... I guess we went a bit too far," the girl with a slightly hunched posture apologized, symbolizing her acknowledgment of her mistake. But her role in this situation was insignificant, and one didn't need the observation skills of a former war strategist to recognize that.

Instead, it was the girl still standing by the classroom door, with long white hair and icy eyes as if she was born in a distant land of ice, who turned her face away and prepared to return to the classroom. She didn't appear to be running away from the problem or seem uncaring. I've seen it so many times. The eyes that reminiscent of a child discarding a broken toy, bespoke a detachment from the unfolding turmoil.

In an instant, my hand released its grip on Amaya's school uniform. I forcefully planted my foot on the ground. In an instant, I passed by the girl who had tried to apologize earlier. A breath later, my hand reached out, gripping the shoulder of the white-haired girl.

The next breath, with an outpouring of unrestrained anger, my other hand swung forth, delivering a powerful punch to her face.

In milliseconds, before her facial expression could register the pain, the hue of crimson mingled with her pale skin and snowy hair, in the fleeting blink of an eye.

---

The incident this day caused quite a commotion in the hallways filled with classrooms of new students. To be honest, I was kind of out of it, not really fully aware of what was going on. It wasn't until a teacher from another class intervened and pulled me back, It was as if they were pulling me back from the edge, rescuing me from the path I was about to tread.

Amaya's homeroom teacher, Tsuda, took charge of the situation and immediately took us to Amaya's house.

As we waited for Father in Amaya's home, I took a deep breath and tried to gather my thoughts.

About 20 minutes later, Father showed up looking exhausted, with his worn-out robe and slightly crooked glasses. He must have rushed from the nearby station.

Tsuda, standing outside, finished his smoke in the backyard and came back inside.

With the tea cups in hand, Amaya's mother approached Father and offered a warm smile.

Amaya's parents exchanged concerned glances, their expressions filled with a mixture of worry and relief.

"It feels right for me to be the one who starts the conversation," Tsuda was about to begin the conversation before my father quickly interjected, "Please forgive Elias, Mr. Tsuda. Despite what happened today, he is a hardworking individual who always prioritizes the well-being of others. So, I believe there must be a reason behind this. I'm not trying to justify his action, but--"

"Father, that's enough," I said, cutting off my father's plea. I could see the weight of his words taking a toll on him, and it was too much for me to bear witness to.

"I am willing to accept any punishment, sir. But I beg you, for Amamiya's sake--"

Suddenly, the door swung open with a loud bang. A mixture of anger resonated in the voice that followed. And the one I had been dreading the most arrived. As I halted my words, my head drooped even further.

"Mother..." Mother called out to Grandma, who hurriedly entered the room.

"Eli," Grandma's voice, devoid of any tone, pointed directly at me, lifting my chin to meet her gaze.

Smack! Grandma's slap landed on my cheek. The sharp sound echoed through the room, mirroring the pain I felt inside.

"Did you think about any other options?" Grandma's question pierced through my thoughts.

"No..."

"Then, at the very least, did it occur to you the consequences of the only course of action you were about to take?" Her words lingered in the air, challenging me to confront the truth.

My mind raced, replaying the events and pondering the potential outcomes.

The room grew heavy with unspoken tension as if the weight of my choices rested upon my shoulders.

"You've hurt someone," Grandma's voice softened as if she understood the turmoil inside me.
"When there might have been another choice."

“Mother,” Father spoke up ”What Eli has done, is actually...”

Grandma suddenly interrupted him with a surprising gesture. She went down on her knees, a deep bow of apology and supplication.

"Please," Grandma pleaded, her voice trembling with a mix of desperation and hope. "I implore you not to expel Elias from school. I understand the severity of his actions, but he is still young and has the potential to change."

After a brief pause, Tsuda gently spoke, his voice laced with compassion.

"Please, rise, Grandma,"

The conversation about my actions and what will happen as per school policy started and my attention was drawn to the deepening worry etched on Amaya's face. Her grip on Mother's sleeve tightened, seeking solace and reassurance amidst the turmoil. I could see the guilt weighing her down, and it pained me to see her suffer because of my actions. All I wanted at that moment was for the chaos to subside for her sake.

I needed to step in. But before I could utter a single word, Father's voice resounded in the room, breaking the silence. He spoke with conviction, defending me and expressing his unwavering support. "Elias is... Elias has come such a long way since I first met him," he said, his words filled with sincerity "And my wife and I will always be... supporting him from behind. And if the school is willing to grant him a chance, I believe... I believe Elias can make things right. I believe we shouldn't let misunderstandings rob us of the words that need to be said, so, please, grant Elias the chance to heal the wounds he has caused."

Each syllable of his words is heavy with significance. Gratitude swelled within me for Father.

"I'm begging you!" Suddenly, Amaya's voice pierced through the air, her words breaking her silence for the first time. I can feel the sheer effort she exerted to find her voice in such a challenging moment.

The room fell into a heavy silence, each person absorbing Father's plea for understanding and reconciliation.

"Please, raise your heads," Tsuda said, his tone firm yet compassionate which weirdly doesn’t match up with his menacing face. "I didn't come here to pass judgment or engage in futile accusations. I assure you, I'm not some kind of ignorant who jump to conclusions without fully understanding the situation at hand. I admit that I don't know all the details and I am gonna relying on Amaya's assistance to shed light on the matter. However, I don't wish to force her into discussing everything right now. What's important at this moment is, Elias... What do you plan to do?"

“Hitting someone on your first day of school is undoubtedly an indelible stain on your name, let alone hitting a girl, not to mention that she’s the top student who stood on stage yesterday so, of course, all the students know her... so don’t be surprised that even after you've served your prescribed punishments, your school life will be... Sort of darken like a stray dog trapped in a forsaken factory." he continued.

"Excuse my language, bad habit" he smiles weirdly.

A lump formed in my throat as I swallowed hard, fully aware of the consequences I might have.

"With that being said, Elias," Tsuda continued, his voice softening with empathy, "I have a proposition."

Shulox
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