"I'm glad to see you have made a complete recovery. Your grades have not been affected in the least by what happened with Nalear. I wish I could say the same for the others." Marth sighed deeply.
The White Griffon now not only had fewer students than any other academy, but also the lowest average in terms of grades. Despite using the old exam system, many students had yet to recover.
The situation was so bad that the King had decreed the students of the White Griffon who failed their finals could attend the year a second time as a last chance. It was an unprecedented case in the academies' history, but so was Nalear's scheme.
"I've called you here to congratulate you on your achievements. You are ranked first overall and in the light department too." Marth handed him a piece of paper that listed the students in ascending order according to their points value.
Lith was ranked first with 14,456 (*) points, Friya second with 12,486, and Phloria third with 10,753. Lith was surprised seeing the gap between the top three scores, especially since Phloria with only one specialization had run circles around the fourth ranked with her 8,731 points.
"Okay, if this is the off the record score, what will be the official one?" Lith was angered at the thought the events of the fourth year were about to repeat themselves. Before giving Marth a piece of his mind, Lith wanted to understand his reasons and how he would be compensated.
"That's the official one. I didn't input it in the system yet because I just received it too. Sorry for the misunderstanding." Marth handed him a gold griffon shaped pin and a white moonstone griffon shaped pin. Both had a five engraved on them.
Seeing the gold pin reminded him of Yurial, making Lith's heart ache for a second. He wore them nonetheless, placing the pins right above his heart.
"What does the asterisk near my score mean, then?" Lith asked.
"To avoid further embarrassment to the other students and academies, we have split your academic points from those you earned from sharing your spell. In light of its usefulness, the Council of the Headmasters has decided to value it 10,000 points."
Lith almost couldn't believe his own ears. It had taken a long time to assess Lith's Resonance spell's worth. Despite being a tier one spell, it had made it possible to reduce the time needed for recovering the full use of a regrown limb from years to months.
It was an invaluable tool, which allowed soldiers and mages alike to go from crippled to fit for duty faster than it had ever been thought possible.
"What do you mean with 'further embarrassment'?"
"Well, let's just say that our average sucks, but our third ranker has scored more points than the first rankers of the other academies." Marth replied with a smirk on his face.
"Now, I need to know if you are going to participate to the ceremonial graduation tourney."
"No, thank you." Only at the end of the fifth year, there would be a friendly competition among the students to demonstrate their battle prowess. Linjos's system made it obsolete, but it was still part of the academy customs.
Usually, the student ranked first would also be the winner of the tourney. For a lower ranked student to win the competition meant a huge boost in prestige for his family.
"Are you sure?" Marth asked. "It will not give you any points, but whatever you decide to do in the future, it could help you in your career."
"Absolutely." Lith nodded. "I have beaten all old noble households in the rankings. Winning the tourney would bring me only troubles. I think it's better to leave them a chance to prove themselves and restore their honor, rather than make more enemies.
"Besides, I survived a Valor, a wyvern, and even Nalear. I know I can beat any student of the White Griffon and that's enough for me. I don't have to prove myself anymore."
"That's great to hear!" The Headmaster could finally sigh in relief.
'Thank the gods Lith isn't another self-absorbed as*hole. It's the best political choice he could make. Giving face to the noble households will make things easier for the academy and the Royals both. They will be really pleased when I'll report them this conversation.' He thought.
"It also brings us to the next topic." Marth handed him another pin. This one was shaped like Silverwing's Hexagram, but the lines connecting the six dots were depicted as broken in multiple points.
"Professor Farg, Constable Ernas, and Guard Ernas all testified your valour as a fighter against Nalear. The Crown has decided to make you an honorary member of the Spellbreaker order as a reward."
Spellbreakers were mages tasked with disposing of criminal practitioners of the mystical arts. According to what Farg explained to him at the beginning of the fifth year, even becoming an honorary one was a big deal.
It meant not only social prestige but also represented how much the Crown trusted him.
"I also have a job proposal for you that should benefit both of us." Marth steepled his fingers. Everything he said up to that point was in preparation for this moment.
Lith wore the third pin too, nodding.
"As you know, the White Griffon is short staffed. We lost one-fourth of our instructors. Finding so many talented and trustworthy Professors in such little time is not easy.
"Since you are still two years away from becoming an adult, I thought you could be interested in a position as Assistant Professor. You are too young and lack the experience to be a Professor, but your foundations are solid.
"We could use someone like you to cover for the basic lessons. It would give you a place to stay, a good income, and merits. If you accept, the Mage Association will take you as a member without the usual procedure."
"What about my sister?" Lith had already mentioned to him Tista wanted to attend the White Griffon academy.
"She can take the test. You have my word our judgment will be fair, but nothing more. We care only for talent. Admitting Tista just to have her fail at the first trimester would be a waste of our and her time both." Marth replied.
Lith pondered for a second about the answer.
'With her bright green core Tista will be among the weakest students, but since she is only interested in the Healing specialization, she should be fine. Also, if she is really going to Awaken, this way I can keep an eye on her and make sure Tista doesn't get into trouble.' Lith thought.
'Working for the academy also means unlimited funds and materials for my research. Plus all the time I need to keep copying magic books. It's an offer I can't refuse.'
When Lith accepted, Marth felt a huge burden lifted from his shoulders. Having Lith was a huge morale boost for the White Griffon academy. Nalear had destroyed its reputation and now many families were considering to transfer their children to more safe institutions.
Having the youngest Spellbreaker of the Kingdom among their ranks, who also happened to be considered the next god of healing, was just what the White Griffon's public relations needed.
Lith left the Headmaster's office and went to give the good news to his companions and family. It seemed they would soon be invited to the Royal Palace for a gala.