As Rio was called by his math lecturer to visit her after school ended, he currently stood in front of his lecturer’s laboratory room.
The laboratory was located in one of the library’s basement rooms.
Rio knocked on the laboratory door.
There was no reply.
He tried knocking again.
This time loud noises could be heard from the other side of the door.
Alas there was still no reply.
(Is anyone inside?)
Rio knocked again this time applying more strength.
“Pardon me. Sensei!”
“Da—! Sorry for making you wait! This place looks a bit better now! Y-You’re Rio right? What is it?”1
By the way, Rio was almost hit in the forehead by the opening door. It was due to his superb reflexes that he managed to avoid it.
What appeared in front of him was a beautiful young girl elegantly drinking tea by the window.
So surreal was the scene before him that he was left momentarily stunned.
“Ah— yes. Today during class, Sensei told me to come after school ended to receive supplementary lessons.”
“Aah—, I see. It must have been very difficult for you today. I was concerned about the extent of your knowledge. I only wanted to see where you stood, but ended up humiliating you as a result.”
She said that while making an apologetic expression.
Rio did not react to the regretful looking teacher.
“Ah, no. It is only natural that Sensei would be interested in the extent of a scholarship student’s knowledge. Actually it is I who must apologize for taking up Sensei’s valuable time to tutor me.”
The girl’s eyes widened hearing Rio’s answer.
“Heh~. Despite being a commoner’s child, you’re very clever for a child your age aren’t you? Are you really 7 years old?”
“Yes I am. Say Sensei, you’re also considerably young aren’t you? I was surprised someone as young as you is a lecturer.”
“Is that so? I’m already 12 years old. Well the truth is I’m barely at the age where I can graduate from the elementary course. It’s just that I skipped a few grades so I’ve actually already graduated from the advanced curriculum.”
Thanks to Rio’s flattery the girl became more attentive and talkative.
“Truthfully, while I’d like to only concentrate on my research, lecturing in my spare time allows me to take a breather.”
Wrapped in a robe, she proudly puffed her chest. Rio was a little amused at her action.
“That’s really impressive.”
“Ehehe~ Ah, you just transferred in so I haven’t had a chance to introduce myself yet. I’m Seria2. Seria Claire. I’m of noble descent but I dislike formalities so it’s fine to act as you usually would.”
“Yes, my name is Rio. A pleasure to meet you.”
“Hai~ Hai~3 Best regards to you too Rio. Anyway don’t just stand there, please come in.”
Seria beckoned Rio to enter.
He instantly did a double take seeing the chaotic state the room was in.
“Ah, it’s a bit messy. Here, you can sit on this chair.”
There was something very wrong with that statement but he pretended not to notice.
As Rio took a seat, Seria pulled out a sheet of paper and laid it on the desk.
“Well then, first off, do you know what numbers are?”
“Fu~n, then there are eight books. You finish reading six of them. How many books have you yet to read?”
Seria threw a simple math problem at Rio for him to solve.
Rio replied immediately.
“Ara, you can perform mental arithmetic? How about addition?”
Receiving the unexpected reply, Seria asked Rio.
In this world, commoners could not even perform simple arithmetic without aids.
“Yes, I can.”
“Okay then how about this?”
Seria wrote the same question on paper but this time in numerical form.
“I don’t know, what is that?”
Since Rio was unable to read he could not understand the formulas written.
“E~tto… So you can do calculations but not read numbers?”
“That is correct.”
“Oh my, what a bizarre combination… I guess it’s not impossible. Commoners usually can’t afford paper after all…”
Seria looked at Rio with a tinge of shock.
“Alright, I’ll teach you numbers for the time being. I’ll write down the numbers 1 to 9. Please memorize them.”
With that said, Seria quickly wrote the numbers down.
Written numbers were not difficult.
Staring at them, Rio only needed a few dozen seconds to memorize all of them.
“I’ve finished memorizing them.”
“Eh, already? Then please write down the number 1 to 9.”
Turning the paper over, Seria passed it over to Rio.
Rio accurately wrote down the numbers.
“Correct. Furthermore such elegant handwriting…”
“Um… can you please show me the number zero4 so I can use it for my calculations?”
“…you understand the concept of zero? To be knowledgeable of ideograms5, numbers, and arithmetic… right. …This.”
Rio requested Seria to write it down on paper so he could memorize it.
“So that’s how it is. Thank you very much. Anymore more than this I’ll be wasting Seria-sensei’s time. Is it fine for me to take this sheet?”
Because Seria looked like she was in the middle of something and his business with her was done, he thought it would be best for him to leave.
“Wa-Wait a minute! You can take the paper but can I have a look at it before that? Ah, I also wanted to write down some practice question so don’t leave yet!”
Rio faltered due to Seria leaning her body over too closely.
Taking out a new sheet, Seria quickly jotted down some problems.
There were fifty problems in all composing of the four basic calculations.
“Then please start.”
Briefly scanning through the contents, Rio understood that the problems were extremely simple.
He finished all of them in a mere span of 5 minutes.
Watching him breeze through the problems only served to increase Seria’s shock.
Seria immediately started checking his answers upon receiving the paper.
She did not need to check over every answer to know the results of his exercise.
“All the answers are correct…”
While saying that, a bitter smile floated on Seria’s face.
“Well it’s only this level of math. Everyone in class can do this much right?”
At Rio’s words, Seria could no longer hold back her laughter.
“Ha, haha… haha… Indeed some of them can do this much. But you know, only a few students in your grade can manage this much. Besides, none of them even come close to matching your mental arithmetic skills.”
Only then did Rio notice.
Even among nobles, only those with decent academic abilities were sent to school.
In fact, it was a way of boasting about their children’s intellect.
If that was the case then it was no wonder that Rio was misunderstood.
“Hah… things will become troublesome soon…”
Feeling annoyed, Rio prepared to rise from his seat.
“It’s okay. I have time so don’t worry about it. Let’s talk for a bit.”
Seria firmly held down Rio’s shoulders to prevent him from leaving.
The pleasant scent of flowers tickled Rio’s nose.
“You were an orphan living in the slums until just recently right?”
Rumours of his background seemed to have already reached the ears of the teaching staff.
“Yes, I was.”
There was no reason to hide the fact so Rio answered her honestly.
“It’s not because I’m looking down on you but to speak so gracefully as well as already mastering basic arithmetic, just how? How is that possible?”
Seria continued speaking faster with an excited tone.
Apart from the lovely smile befitting for her age, her intensity made it hard for him to refuse her.
“E~tto, I studied very diligently so that I may be able to speak properly during my time at the Royal Institute. My mother spoke very formally and I used her as a reference for my own speech. She was also the one who taught me basic arithmetic saying it would become useful in the future.”
Of course, it was a lie.
Except the part about learning how to speak from his mother was true.
In Rio’s memories, his mother spoke in a beautiful manner unfit for an adventurer.
He nostalgically remembered being scolded whenever he used foul language.
It was from his mother that he was able to develop a polite way of talking.
But the part about learning math from his mother was a complete lie.
There was no way he could say he learned it from his former life.
Rio decided to lie with an unchanging expression.
“Ah I see, so it was from your deceased mother. Is it possible that she was formerly a noble? Regardless, she was a fine person. I’m sorry for asking.”
Feeling a sense of guilt for bringing up the topic of Rio’s deceased mother, Seria’s mood became apologetic.
“It’s alright. I’ve already sorted out my feelings regarding the matter.”
“But something like that… Haa~, I guess it’s alright. You’re surprisingly mature for your age.”
Seria was not fully convinced by Rio’s words.
But she felt wrong to dig up Rio’s past so she did not bring it up again.
It seemed she was quite a caring person.
(So nobles like her do exist…)
All the nobles he had met until now displayed considerable arrogance thus shaping Rio’s bias towards them.
However exceptions like Seria existed.
“Seria-sensei is also very mature.”
“Eh, ara, that so? —I see. Rio can tell?”
Apparently Rio’s words were favourably received.
(She’s unexpectedly easy to handle…)
Rio could not help but feel that way seeing just how moved she was.
“Errr… anyway, leaving that issue aside, regarding your arithmetic skills, you just jumped to the top of the class. Quite unexpected considering just a while ago you couldn’t even read numbers.”
Returning to the original topic, Seria became serious again.
“Do you even need to attend anymore math lessons? Since you’ll only encounter similar topics for the next three years in the elementary course anyway.”
All Royal Institute lectures were optional for the sake of noble pupils who were often absent due to their duties.
Even so not all of them were like that; the diligent ones still attended class.
“Haha, that would be bad. I’d be antagonized by the other students.”
He would not be seen in a very good light if he did not show up for class.
“Ah~ I understand. That would indeed be troublesome. Relationships would be an issue, especially among the nobles.”
Perhaps recalling the hassles of aristocracy, a displeased look formed on Seria’s face.
“Isn’t Sensei a noble too?”
“I guess so…”
Feeling dejected, Seria’s expression and tone crumbled.
Her posture grew sloppy causing her thin white limbs to be exposed. They exuded an alluring charm unbefitting for her age.
In the quiet secluded room, the usual young lady was not seen. Honestly, the disparity between her appearances was too intense.
Her almost completely rolled up skirt was a dangerous temptation for Rio.
“By the way Sensei, you said that your research focus was magic but on what specifically?”
The vulnerable Seria was relieved to hear Rio change the topic.
“Ara, are you interested in magic?”
When Rio responded affirmatively, Seria retrieved a clear transparent crystal with complicated geometrical patterns etched into it from a nearby shelf.
From the moment Seria laid hands on it, white light was released from the crystal.
“E~tto, this is?”
Looking at it, Rio asked about the crystal placed on the desk.
The moment Seria let go of the crystal, it stopped emitting light.
“This determines an individual’s aptitude for magic; a magical tool called Spirit Light Crystal. The geometric patterns are carved directly onto its surface. It’s a unique artifact so it’s quite expensive.”
“A magic stone?”
“Magic stones are a substance held by monsters in their bodies. It’s said to be the core of a monster; it’s what caused them to bee morphed into such abnormal beasts. When they die, they don’t leave anything behind except these magic stones… According to another theory, labyrinths are said to be the birthplace of monsters.”
“Monsters, magic stones, labyrinths…”
They were interesting words he did not fully understand the concepts of; only knowing their names Rio muttered them.
“Ah, our conversation has strayed from the original topic. Anyway, the Spirit Light Crystal reacts to magical power that comes in contact with its surface. It will shine even with minimal magical power applied. It’s also known as the Measurement Stone.”
Seria explained its name and effect.
All humans possessed magical power, but the amount varied from person to person.
There were few people who could not use magic at all due to having insufficient amounts of magical power.
This magical tool was used to judge if a person had the requirements.
“You will know what type of magic you excel at from the colour of the light. For a magician, it determines their affinity.”
Hearing Seria’s words, Rio looked that crystal with deep interest.
Setting aside the process of determining one’s magic aptitude, why was such a round-about method used to examine whether someone had magical powers or not?
Rio found it very odd.
“Hee~, so magical powers can’t be seen by the naked eye?”
Rio thought the magical powers he saw as light emitting from other people could be normally seen by the eyes.
Therefore he questioned the Measurement Stone’s usefulness.
Indirectly asking about his doubt, Rio focused his eyes on Seria.
There were many students in the Royal Institute who were gifted with an abundance of magical powers but the light surrounding Seria was considerably bright.
By the way, after a little practice, Rio was able to switch perception of the light on and off at will.
The trick was to cover his eyes with magical power.
“Pure magical power can be vaguely felt but is not visible to the naked eye. However during magic invocation, light from the magic can be seen.”
(…Strange. Then what is the pale light I’m seeing? Only I can see it? The feeling of this light too… what is it?)
“Look! Let’s try it out.”
Seria urged him to touch the crystal and white light started emitting from it.
(The same as Seria-sensei’s. Shining white. Does it visualize magical power? White light shown from the crystal the moment I lay my hands on it. As far as I’m concerned, the pale white light I’m seeing is magical power?)
He analyzed it calmly in his head.
Beside him, Seria was staring at the light emitting from the crystal with her eyes slightly coloured in astonishment.
“Oh it’s glowing! Moreover a white colour indicates an all-rounder type! That colour means you’re able to use any kind of magic as long as you master control over your magical power! It’s the same as me! People who radiate white light are very scarce.”
Seria was laughing and smiling next to Rio.
As for the types of magicians, other than mages there were fighters.
Mages were red while fighters radiated blue.
“E~tto, thank you very much. All-rounder type? Somehow I don’t really understand this feeling.”
“Well, you’re not able to sense magic yet. Magic perception, magic control, and the Contract Ceremony are required to use magic.”
“I see. What needs to be done so I can perceive magic?”
“The simplest way is having another person transmit their magical power into your body; a sense of discomfort should arise, although some people don’t feel anything. You will need to learn how to control that magical power afterwards.”
“I see. Sorry but I have another question, but what is the Contract Ceremony?”
For the sake of dispelling his doubt, he asked for an explanation on another unfamiliar keyword6.
“N~, to say the general definition, the Contract Ceremony is a ritual where you brand your body with a phrase in order to interfere with the laws of nature. It’s a bit troublesome but it’s the most efficient method. The start will be a bit dull since it’s just magic perception theory, but as the class advances we’ll move onto the Contract Ceremony. So please look forward to it.”
1. She speaks in a formal tone albeit a bit quirky
2. Editor: セリア can also be romanized as ‘Celia’
3. A cute/childish way of saying okay, something akin to okeydokey
4. There is no zero in Roman numerals
5. A written symbol representing an idea (i.e. ‘&’ means ‘and’)
6. Refers to Contract Ceremony