~~Eleven Oclock in the Morning, Second Day of the Fifth Month, Ninety-Fourth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
A lone mouse trudged along the desolate path, wiggling its long, slender tail.
Following it was an elderly man, walking along casually despite his age.
“With all due respect, Master, the area ahead isnt habitable by humans.
Are you sure we have the right place”
The mouse said as it scratched its face with its nails.
Due to the high atmospheric temperature, the mouses vision blurred as it stared into the distance.
“…Not human is the key part here.”
The man replied while looking up at the blazing sunshine.
Although he himself wasnt showing any sign of fatigue, the scorching earth at his feet was absorbing up all the sweat that dripped from his chin.
“I see… we will be meeting up with a non-human creature, then”
“Oh-ho, its quite rare to see you be unsure, Master.”
The mouse turned its head around to remark so, which prompted the man to point at the way ahead.
Before its Masters warning reached its ears, the mouse – Konoha – was walking on air.
For a step, and not a single step more.
It let out a squeak and grabbed onto the finger of its Master – Gaston – that had reached out for it.
“Good grief… How many times has it been now Youre better off behaving yourself and sit on my shoulder, I say…”
“I cant possibly let myself detect threats slower than my Master in a Danger Zone such as this, can I Besides, are we not almost there now”
“…Right, we should be.”
Gaston stopped to take in the dry breeze and look around.
He focused his eyes, concentrating on that point – and detected a wave of arcane energy slipping through the wind.
Gaston g.r.o.a.n.e.d up his nose and then picked up Konoha – who attempted to walk ahead again – and placed it on his head instead.
“Hmph… there it is.”
He had his eyes on the location Asley and Pochi once trained at… and also the place Irene had departed from just recently.
A desolate land of nothing but dust, sandstorms, and air of dense arcane energy… the Far East Wasteland.
With Asleys letter of recommendation in hand, Gaston stepped forward on his path once more, together with Konoha.
~~Meanwhile at the Magic University~~
In the Maginasium, Irene the Invincible Sprout, looking as if shed busted a vein, was staring at Tifa, a much younger girl with just about the same height.
She had a reason for this, and that lied in the way the former had gone about doing it.
The task was the same as the one Asley had taken years ago: eliminating Irenes Fire spell from the Maginasiums vicinity.
The only difference was that a restriction had been added indirectly, with the final instruction being touse what one has learned from the Magic University to solve the problem.
Tifas Freshman classmates had raised quite an uproar in response to her having used magecraft to complete the assignment without even batting an eye.
That was because, at any rate, she had not followed the instruction, and that the supposedly lost art of magecraft was being used willy-nilly right in front of them.
Irene had introduced the restriction out of fear of that happening, as a matter of fact, but Tifa had not read through the implications of it at all.
“I wouldnt consider this a proper completion of the task, Tifa.
Did you not listen to what I said”
“Ive met up with Lina and Sir Asley to further train my magecraft with them after the school year has started.
That should have fulfilled your criteria, Professor.”
Tifa argued back without much actual care in the situation itself, prompting Irenes veins to swell up even more.
The former had been largely avoided by her classmates over the past month.
One reason was the attitude she had toward Irene, one of the Six Archmages, and another, most prevalent one being the cold stare in her eyes.
Which was why, in angering Irene with her reaction, this incident has served to further deepen the gulf between her and the other students.
Tarawo, who has been sitting beside his Master this whole time, stood up after having sufficiently observed the whole situation.
What he actually did, however, was beyond their expectation: he walked away to sit in a corner of the Maginasium.
Yes, what Tarawo had chosen to do was not an attempt at peace, but an evacuation.
[Seriously, shes such a hopeless student, whipping out magecraft in front of such a large unaware crowd… She definitely has some screws loose in her head.]
Irene facepalmed out of sheer exasperation, but Tifas face suggested that she still has not reconsidered her actions.
Thanks in part to Trace happening to pass by the Maginasium, the interrupted training task resumed, but in the end, the class performance rating that day was dismal through and through.
It was primarily due to Irenes fluctuating release of arcane energy throwing off everyones concentration.
After the session was over, just like Asley had been years ago, Tifa was summoned to Irenes office.
There, Tifa hardly paid any attention to Irene – to the stern Archmage ready to lay down a lecture – rather, she was gazing out the window and up at the sky.
“What were you trying to achieve I know youre smart, so why would you go out of your way to make others perceive you negatively”
Tifa replied bluntly, with her mouth narrowing down.
Tarawo, cut off in an instant, promptly shut his mouth.
The silence lingered a while; Irene, deciding that she wouldnt get any answers out of her student at this rate, scratched her head and heaved a sigh.
“Ill get off your case if, and only if, you have a good reason.
But let me give you a piece of advice – doing things this way will make you more enemies than you have to have.
Try to remember that, at least.”
“…If you say so.”
Irene shifted her gaze to the door, implying that she now wanted Tifa to leave.
Tifa walked off without a moments hesitation, then Tarawo stood up on his hinds and followed.
The latter was probably trying to still keep his mouth shut with his front paws.
“Ugh, shes so much more of a handful than that guy…”
The look in Irenes eyes softened down, as if she was imagining a certain someones face up there.
But then she came back to her senses soon enough, shaking her head and re-composing herself.
Irene, crossing her arms again, dropped herself on her chair – the same tall one on which her feet couldnt reach the floor.
Tifa and Tarawo, now back in the classroom, walked up the stairs and headed for their seats.
All the while, they received cold stares from the people around them – yet they were no match for Tifas aura, what with no one daring to actually look her in the eyes.
Once she was at her seat, Tifa was prompted to stop.
Her gaze locked on to her chair.
Tarawo, noticing that, finally took his front paws away from his mouth.
“Tifa, isnt that an ignition-type Spell Circle on your seat”
Getting back a cold, uncaring response, Tarawo turned to Tifa.
“Wouldnt you get another lecture if you dont deal away with it somehow”
“Oh, youve already learned the appropriate method of deactivation Lets see it, then! I shall bear witness to your display of skill!”
Once again, Tifa stared coldly at her pretentious Familiar.
The dog, and also the whole classroom, was briefly startled.
Having not heard his Masters whole statement, Tarawo moved his ear closer.
“Sit down here.”
Doubting what his Master had just said, he asked for another repeat.
The formula is so trash that I cant even feel its energy.
And Im good at recovery magic.
Now, go on.”
“Uh, no… this isnt… you know…”
Tifa continued, unconcerned with her Familiars utmost hesitation,
“Will you do it Or will you not”
“Tarawo chooses his life above all else!”
Tarawo chose the only option that would leave him alive.
Afterward, Tifa would no longer be subject to bullying, directly or otherwise.
The reason was that she had taken a different approach from her old mentor to deal with her hindrances, and also…
“WHY! WHAT DID I DO TO DESERVE THIS! AHH – WAIT, NO! THE HEAT! AHHHH!”
Her classmates were undoubtedly pained to see her Familiar, Tarawo, be subject to such miserable treatment.