Airfruit Magic Academy.
A school, which looked more like a castle in size and appearance, occupied the region at the foot of a rocky mountain which ran along the northern region of Golden City.
Sungchul confirmed the admissions form he had received from Christian. As was fitting for a top-rank school, it used neat calligraphy and was well decorated, but the current situation facing the school was not so great. With indifferent eyes, Sungchul looked at the corpses hanging from a nearby oak tree which was standing tall beside the school gates. A ghastly signpost written in deep, red paint stood in front of it.
[Only death awaits the masses who commit heresy.]
[Heresy Inquisitor Magnus Maxima]
“Even an Inquisitor is involved now.”
The situation of the school was worse than he had expected. It had allowed him to be admitted by simply greasing a few palms, but Sungchul could see the deep darkness that was looming over the entire Academy.
“I’d heard from Christian.”
Head of Admissions, Robert Danton, was a scrawny and tired-looking middle-aged man. He briefly glanced over Sungchul’s documents before putting them away; he then pulled a pipe to his mouth and lit it.
“I heard you were a Summoning Palace graduate.”
“How did you know of this place? It couldn’t have been easy to find, seeing that we’re on the fringe of Golden City.”
“I was a Preselected. My backer, who I won’t name, heard about this school from the Mage that was taking care of me.”
Sungchul respond like always with an indifferent tone.
Hearing that he was a Preselected, Robert narrowed his eyes slightly and nodded.
“I see. You did seem different from the average rookie Summoned.”
Robert sifted through his folder and pulled out Sungchul’s document then stamped a seal on its corner using a hammer-shaped stamp. After stamping it twice, he sucked deeply on his pipe and spoke curtly while releasing a white puff of smoke.
“With this, the admission process has been finished. Anything needed in daily life will be relayed to you by the Residence Assistant that is waiting outside, so just follow whatever he says.”
Sungchul got up from his seat and gave him a nod. When Sungchul began to open the door, he spoke again.
“By the way, you have heard the rumors, yes?”
Robert’s sharp voice coiled around from behind him, stopping him in his tracks.
Sungchul slightly turned his head and peered over at Robert’s face before speaking.
“I’ve heard the Followers of Calamity or something have appeared on campus.”
“You’ve come here, even after knowing that.”
Robert shuffled through his possessions before pulling out a single bright gold coin and smiled.
“Welcome to a dying school.”
What he held in his hand was the gold that Sungchul had given to Christian.
A familiar monster awaited him outside the office.
“Hey, disciple. Please come this way.”
It was a Homunculus.
Other than the scholarly garb, none of the sickly appearance, annoying voice, and arrogant attitude had changed. Sungchul watched the Homunculus walking closer to him and thought for a moment.
‘If I recall, these creatures were created from a Mage’s flask to mimic fairies.’
The Homunculi were counterfeit fairies. They were similar in size and copied a fairy’s manner of speech, but compared to the loveable and cute appearance of the fairies, the Homunculi were grotesque and repulsive in looks. Even their Magical abilities were not comparable. In other words, they were the weaker and poorly crafted knockoffs, but they were often used because they had quite the utility when properly trained.
“Disciple! This Residence Assistant is responsible for the general guidance and encouragement of your honor’s school life. This teaching assistant only speaks once so clench your butthole and listen carefully!”
The Residence Assistant led him towards the Registrar’s Office.
“This Registrar’s Office is for choosing what school of Magic you wish to learn! Hurry up and tell the staff what school of Magic you wish for!”
His pace was disturbed by the unexpected intervention of the Homunculus, but Sungchul knew what he needed to do from this point onwards.
‘So this is the Registrar’s Office.’
There were folders filled with documents. An elven woman who was seated behind a desk looked over in his direction with wide-open eyes.
Sungchul had asked Christian about the most powerful Magic one could learn in Airfruit, to which he replied without hesitation
“If you’re talking about Magical might, the School of Pyromancy is always among the top. If you’re talking about the school with the most powerful spells, that would be the school that utilizes the power of the skies: the School of Cosmomancy.”
“The School of Cosmomancy? The group that uses Meteor?”
Christian nodded, however, Sungchul’s response was lukewarm.
“Cosmomancy. I can definitely attest to their might, but isn’t their Magic only useful during large scale war?”
The King of Demons that Sungchul had to get rid of was an experienced warrior as well as a crafty Mage. There was no way he would allow himself to be hit by a Magic like Meteor that had a long casting time and a slow activation rate.
“It is commonly known that Cosmomancy is strong in large scale battles and weak against single foes, but the reality is a bit different.”
It was then that Christian put forth a different point of view.
“There are a few experienced Mages of Cosmomancy that can call down the pure light from the Heavens to incinerate most of their foes.”
“I have never seen such a Magic.”
At least among the ones Sungchul had faced, there were none that had used such a Magic. Christian smiled bitterly before replying.
“It is extremely difficult to learn. The required Intuition and Magic Power is so high that it takes five whole years just to learn the primary spells.”
“Yes. By the standards of an average rookie. It isn’t easy to surpass 130 Magic Power and 100 Intuition just through reading and meditations without having any foundation. And as you know, the effectiveness of trying to raise stats using basic tasks gives diminishing returns at higher levels.
Sungchul nodded and said,
“That is correct. It’s why people risk their lives for duels and quests; especially missions, if they can manage it.”
“However, aren’t you a great and powerful warrior? If it is you, Sir Warrior, you would be able to rapidly grow through various quests and events by choosing the School of Cosmomancy as your main school and Magic Swordsmanship as your sub school.”
Christian’s plan was precise, containing no room for error. He handed Sungchul a booklet with all the quests and the people related to well-known events recorded within. Once Sungchul had read through the booklet, he felt that here was a man that repays his debts. A person like Krill would simply have recommended the School of Pyromancy without a second thought. However, a question formed within Sungchul.
“Why did you recommend the Magic Swordsmanship for the sub school? Couldn’t I choose something like Pyromancy or Cryomancy for my sub school?”
Christian shook his head and logically explained his reasons.
Pyromancy, Cryomancy, Metallurgy, Necromancy, Cosmomancy, and the rest which all form the ‘Schools of Magic’ have inherent resonance and flow accompanying them, and with each use, a distinct imprint like age rings on trees would start to appear on the caster’s body. This is what was referred to as a ‘Magical Fingerprint’. A single Mage who held two or more Magical fingerprints would eventually suffer negative side effects from each print working against the other. In minor cases, they might become unable to cast top tier spells, but in some extreme cases, they might die from a volatile reaction. This is the reason for the needed prerequisite that sub schools should not create their own Magical imprints. Schools such as Magic Swordsmanship, Dimensional Magic, Druidism, Divination, Empathomancy, and Alchemy were all included in this category.
“What will you choose for your main school? Both the schools of Cryomancy and Pyromancy of our Academy have a good reputation.”
The elven woman handed Sungchul a catalog of all the main schools of Magic. A current list of famous alumni Mages of the school was listed within the five schools of Magic: Pyromancy, Cryomancy, Necromancy, Electromancy, and Cosmomancy.
‘There are definitely a lot of figures within Cryomancy and Pyromancy. Some with important roles within Magic Guilds and some were even royal Mages…’
On the contrary, there was only one name under Cosmomancy: Altugius Xero. Airfruit Magic Academy’s Professor. Not even a Headmaster, but just a normal Professor. The weight of his name was incomparably light compared to the weight of the other alumni that were on the list. Regardless, Sungchul didn’t hesitate and stepped on the path which had been decided.
“I’ve decided on Cosmomancy.”
“Oh, my. You’re going with Cosmomancy? Even if you’re a Summoning Palace graduate, that still isn’t an easy task.”
His will wasn’t so easy to bend.
Looking at his resolute eyes, the elven woman didn’t bother saying anything more and wrote something onto a document.
“What will your sub school be?”
Similarly, she presented a complete list of sub schools taught by Airfruit. Magic Swordsmanship, Dimensional Magic, Druidism, Divination, Empathomancy, and Alchemy were listed in the catalog.
Sungchul briefly deliberated between Magic Swordsmanship and Alchemy. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say there was nothing more for him to learn regarding Magic Swordsmanship, as the Magic Swordsmen he had faced so far were nothing more than swordsmen that happened to know Magic. He had fought with someone that claimed to have reached the pinnacle of the discipline, and so Sungchul had witnessed firsthand its limitations; thus he couldn’t bring himself to feel even the slightest inclination towards Magic Swordsmanship.
‘Cheap tricks might work in a close match, but it’s meaningless against absolute strength.’
He might be able to easily and plentifully gain access to quests and events that existed around the school with the choice of Magic Swordsmanship, but it didn’t suit him to walk such an easy path. As long as he had been brought to the hall of learning, it would benefit him to learn at least one single new thing before the final battle.
After a lengthy deliberation, he spoke firmly to the yawning elven woman.
“I’ll go with Alchemy.”
The elven woman squinted at him and muttered quietly.
“My my, he chose unusual schools for both. Such unique preferences.”
Sungchul didn’t mind it and left the office. A red-faced Residence Assistant was waiting for him outside the office.
“This…human! No, Disciple! Did you think you came here to play cards at the senior center? Why did you take so long? Don’t you know what a busy Homunculus this Residence Assistant is?”
He couldn’t find a reason within himself to reply to such an inferior organism. Instead, he pointed towards the front.
“T-truly an arrogant disciple for a rookie. O-okay. This Residence Assistant has a reputation built up through the years, so I’ll hold in my anger this one time. Follow me!”
The Homunculus guided him to a narrow room with a large Mage’s hat sitting within. The hat looked unsettling with eyes, nose, and mouth that appeared like a human. Sungchul knew the identity of this hat. It was the Aged Jorgbart.
It was a living hat. When it is placed on a head, the Airfruit Magic Academy’s heirloom would instantly understand the student’s aptitude and talents and determine the name of the appropriate dorm for them.
“Over there. Hurry and wear the honored hat! Once you wear the honored hat, it will recommend a suitable dorm for the disciple!”
The Residence Assistant began to circle around Sungchul and tried to rush him. Sungchul sat on a chair and quietly looked around as he placed the hat with the human face on his lap.
‘He said there was a trick to wearing this hat.’
According to Christian, the Aged Jorgbart would acknowledge your desire and repeat the desired dorm’s name if you were to shout out a dorm’s name three times inside your mind. It wasn’t clear how such a thing could happen, but he placed the Aged Jorgbart on his head. The next moment, a familiar feeling could be felt on the crown of his head. A smile appeared on his lips.
‘This…is an incubus*.’
Sungchul immediately determined the hat’s identity. They had placed an incubus within the hat and scammed people into believing that it was a talking hat. He couldn’t know what kind of tricks had been used to get an incubus to speak, but he could feel the repulsive sensation of a tentacle peering into his head. At that moment, he stopped all thoughts for a moment and clearly revealed a single, clear objective in his mind.
‘I’ll kill you…!’
Next, he thought up the image of an incubus caked in blood.
The Talking Hat shrieked. It was closer to a beast’s cry than a human scream.
“W-what happened! For the Aged Jorgbart to scream! What an unprecedented incident!”
The Residence Assistant that had been watching all of this paled and began running from side to side, while Sungchul redirected his thoughts and loosened his mind before repeating a single word three times.
‘House of Recollections, House of Recollections, House of Recollections.’
When the requirements were met, the screaming incubus stopped his screams and spat out the name Sungchul desired, using a mysterious voice.
“House of Recollections!”
With that, the eventful occurrence finally came to a close. The Incubus were simple and ignorant creatures. As soon as Sungchul took off the Aged Jorgbart and placed it on the chair, the hat simply continued its existence as though nothing had happened, just like an inanimate object. Sungchul approached the traumatized Residence Assistant and opened his mouth.
“He said the House of Recollections?”
“I-I heard it too! But why the House…This feels like a mistake!”
The Homunculus’ response was odd.
“The House of Recollections is a dorm that’s no longer used…”
“Well, what can we do? The hat has already stated the dorm’s name.”
All things considered, the Aged Jorgbart would obviously have priority over some Homunculus regarding dorm placement. The Residence Assistant looked skeptical as he led him to the House of Recollections.
A bleak residence under the shadow of castle walls revealed itself. The garden was filled with withered thickets, and the building looked faded as though it no longer saw any use.
“T-this is the House of Recollections! I-I have things to do, so I’m going to leave. Find a room yourself!”
The Residence Assistant left the scene as though he was running away in fear. The terrifying exterior was one thing, but it was also the center of frightful rumors which made one’s teeth shiver in the summer**. Despite this, there was a reason that Sungchul had chosen to make the House of Recollections his dorm. That was because it was among the oldest of the buildings in Airfruit, and as such, it contained the memorials of noteworthy predecessors. Of course, it was difficult for the average student to deal with, and beings born out of the accumulated malice also existed here, but if he could overcome such difficulties, he would be able to experience the rapid growth that he so desired.
Without hesitation, he stepped further into the House of Recollections.
* incubus – dream demons as seen in Vestiare’s Nightmare chapter where they tried to cling to his head to induce various kinds of dreams.
** Korean idiom- Koreans say they like to watch horror genre in the summer because it gives them the ‘chills’ to chase the heat away.
Talking hat scene reminded me of Harry Potter “Gryffindor!”