Lith spent his days teaching Tista and his nights teaching or experimenting on Phillard. Contrary to the Kroxy expectations, he was even further behind than Tista in the Awakening process.
"Who needs magic when you have these babies?" Phillard used to say while flexing his enormous muscles. He never liked magic much, preferring to overpower his enemies with pure brute strength.
Lith had to literally beat some common sense into him to force Phillard to practice magic, following the same training schedule he had prepared for his sister. By the end of the winter, the Kroxy's core had improved by leaps and bounds.
Maybe it was because magical beasts were naturally attuned with magic, maybe it was because of Lith's experiments on Phillard to help him sense the world's energy, or maybe it was just death being an incredible motivator.
Phillard hadn't lied to him. Lith could see with Death Vision that his test subject had about a year left to live and Lith never missed an opportunity to remind him.
When the first day of spring arrived, Tista and Lith left together for White Griffon academy.
"What's the academy's only rule?" Lith asked Tista for the umpteenth time in the last three months.
"There are only three kinds of students in there. Those who will suck up on me to get into my pants, those who will do it to get into yours and then there is me." At first Tista thought Lith was just being a killjoy, but after speaking with Friya, she wasn't so sure.
"Good girl. See you in the classroom." Lith ruffled her hair before going to the Headmaster's office to receive his ring and assignments for the day. He found a pleasant surprise when he walked through the door.
"Friya, Quylla. Nice to see you again. What are you two doing here?" Lith asked.
"Lady Quylla has decided to attend fifth year again." Marth explained.
"Mage Friya has offered to serve as an Assistant Professor, just like you."
Quylla had grown quite a lot. She was now 1.6 meters (5'3") high with shoulder length brown hair. Despite Vastor's tonic and the growth spurt, she still looked incredibly frail.
Her body was almost as scrawny as when they first met, her complexion was sickly. Lith knew she had spent the last year as a recluse, rarely coming out of her room. For someone that until a few months ago had problems keeping her food down returning to the academy was a huge leap.
"You would have known if you had visited us even once during winter." Friya clacked her tongue. She seemed to be quite angry.
"I was busy." Lith snarled back before turning to Quylla.
"Are you sure little one?" He asked while caressing her head. Lith still had problems seeing her like this. It reminded of his limits. Even when he had given his all, Lith was still unable to help her. He was just a Healer, not a miracle worker.
"I'm sure, thanks." At that familiar touch Quylla finally smiled. It was a small, forced smile but it was still better than nothing.
"If anyone bothers you, just give me a call and I'll kill them."
Marth cleared his throat loudly. He could appreciate the sentiment, but not the way it was expressed.
"Not literally." Lith clarified, making Marth nod in relief. "I will take away so many points from them they'll wish they were dead."
Marth went pale while Quylla chuckled.
The three left the Headmaster's office and were finally able to speak freely.
"I lied in there. I can really kill them, if you want."
Quylla knew he wasn't joking, yet she couldn't stop laughing when she thought about Marth's face.
"Don't worry about me. Friya only accepted the role of Assistant to be able to act as my lady in waiting inside the academy."
"What?" Lith blurted out in surprise.
"Isn't it the same thing you are doing for your sister?" Friya asked.
"I mean, if it was possible to bring along a relative, all those stuck up b*stards would. Being an Assistant I can Warp from floor to floor and spend time with her."
"My reasons are entirely different from yours." Lith shook his head.
"This was my best and only real option. Until I turn sixteen I have too many restrictions. Back home I could only waste my days hunting animals or small time criminals. I need the money, the merits, and the resources of the academy.
For me and my family."
"Couldn't you help your parents with the farm? I'm sure they would like to spend more time in your company." Quylla asked.
"I've already done that in the past and it never ends well. My father is happy at first, but then he feels useless. His workers have nothing to do and fear losing their jobs. The same happens to mom.
"It's nice having someone around that can do in a second what takes you hours, but after a few days, you find yourself having too much free time. Aran doesn't keep them that busy, their job is still their life."
Friya and Quylla remained stunned for a second. Being magicians, there were too many things they could do and so little time. They had never thought how even a simple job could be important enough to define someone's existence.
The trio separated, Lith was in charge of Principles of Advanced Magic for the fourth year, while Friya and Quylla would be busy with Magic Creation on the fifth floor.
Lith Warped in front of the classroom. Memories of his own first day at the academy flooded his mind. He walked through the double doors to find exactly what he had expected. The classroom was noisy since Marth had yet to hand over the Ballots.
Small cliques had already formed. Some were just talking while others were hazing commoners and less powerful nobles. Tista was sadly between a rock and a hard place.
From what Lith could hear with his enhanced hearing, a group of girls was trying to sl*t shame her, while a group of boys was offering her protection in exchange for "entertainment".
"What a show-off little b*tch you are!" The leader of the pack was a blond girl, flat as a board and much shorter than Tista. What she lacked in physique, she made up in attitude.
"Why don't you wear your robe? You're a disgrace to all the students of the White Griffon. The uniform is supposed to make us feel empowered, not look like wh*res!"
She said while pointing at Tista's generous chest. The other girls either laughed or joined her, piling cruel words on their victim. The boys were enjoying the show, discussing Tista's body like she wasn't even there.
"I wonder how many Professors already got a taste of that pretty body and face of yours to stoop so low as to admit an old hag like you." With her sixteen years, Tista was indeed old for the fourth year.
She had been accepted because of her talent and because between Balkor and Nalear the White Griffon had already lost too many mages.
Tista attempted to reply, outraged by those words, but the blond girl slapped her hard as soon as Tista attempted to stand up.