"Why do you the idea so terrible?" Seeing her issues through Solus's eyes made her worries seem so small that Tista was almost ashamed of herself.
"I'm not a thing, okay?" Solus lashed out in frustration, it was the first time she had ever laid her worst fears bare in front of someone that wasn't Lith.
"I have feelings, memories. I learn new things every day. What would you do if you lost the person you have spent your whole life with? Someone who shared every one of your feelings, dreams, even thoughts. You can't simply replace such a person with a random stranger and move on."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend you." Tista had never considered Solus like an object, she simply didn't expect her to be so fond of her brother.
"What kind of relationship do the two of you have?"
"I don't know either." Solus's voice sounded depressed.
Solus shared with Tista how her lack of a body made her feel incomplete. How she hated being just a voice in his head. To be always powerless whenever someone needed her help.
After hearing about all the things they had gone through together, Tista believed to have a proper answer to her own question.
"If after sharing so much for so many years you two don't hate each other's guts you must be soulmates!"
"Thanks, your words mean the world to me, but you are too kind and naïve. It's only because of our bond that we share so many things. I forced it on him years ago, otherwise I doubt Lith would have opened to me. I think he likes me, but more like a friend. Phloria instead…"
"What about Phloria?" Tista hoped for some juicy gossip. Neither the Verhen or the Ernas had any idea how close the two actually got during the academy.
"Sorry, but it's not up to me to tell. Let's go back to the tower."
During the weekend, Lith taught Tista about fusion and spirit magic. Whenever she had free time, he would pass on her all of his knowledge about true magic, all the tips and tricks he had learned over the years to disguise it as fake magic or make use of it during the exams.
He also introduced her to Phillard, Reaper, and Lifebringer. Tista had never spoken with a magical beast, let alone with an Evolved Monster. In her eyes, they were all big and scary. Phillard with his serpentine body and two clawed arms was apparently the most menacing of the three.
At least until she noticed they were as scared of her brother as she was of them. Reaper the Manticore had the body and the head of a lion with quills like those of a porcupine protruding from most of his body. He was big enough to look Tista in the eyes.
He also had black feathered wings on his back, horns like an ibex on his head, and the tip of his tail was a mass of quills. Each one was infused with a different element and ready to be thrown.
Lifebringer the Kirin had grown even bigger, developing a new horn in the center of his head and what looked like a long beard made out of emerald flames covered his chin. The four of them would practice and spar together to get used to their new abilities.
"Why are you still here?" Lith asked Phillard.
"I'm not going anywhere until you deliver me my axes." The Lindwurm snorted. "Also, I still suck at magic. I'm even worse than the pipsqueak here." He pointed at Tista.
"How's her smell?"
"Delicious… I mean, she is definitely human." Phillard's ribs still ached at the memory of how Lith appreciated his jokes.
Lith made for each one of them a dimensional and a communication amulet so that they could ask for help if necessary. He also realized for Phillard a couple of twin axes on the cheap.
The Lindwurm couldn't provide him materials or magic crystals, so Lith infused the weapons with what by Forgemastering standards was considered to be the bare minimum, making them sharper, lighter, sturdier, and capable of self repairing if infused with mana.
Their only special property was they were able to shrink enough so that if Phillard ever learned how to assume human form he could still use them. The Lindwurm had never owned an enchanted weapon, so he considered them masterpieces and gloated for days thinking of having scammed Lith for good.
Lith and Tista's last year of the academy was uneventful. Lith's only worry was to dodge all the noble dames and mages of marrying age that pestered him on a regular basis. Most of his female students couldn't wait for the third exam to come since their hot teacher was of their same age and still single.
Lith disappointed them all by disappearing the very next day after the exam. He and Tista could finally rush back at Lutia. Attending the academy after the third exam was a mere formality.
Both of them wanted to pay their respect to their old mentor before it was too late. Without Tista helping her, Nana's health deteriorated over time, no matter how much effort Lith put into treating her condition.
Death and old age were two enemies that even he couldn't defeat. Many people were assembled outside her house to pay her a last visit. Nana hadn't become nicer just because of her impending death.
She refused any visitor aside from Count Lark and the Verhen Household.
"Damn hypocrites." Nana's voice was weak but still full of anger.
"Even on my deathbed they still try to suck up on me. Never trust shameless people, kids." She said to both her apprentices.
"Isn't there something we can do?" Tista asked Lith for the umpteenth time in the last months.
"No. We aren't gods." Lith shook his head. He had already tried every spell in his book.
"Master, you never told me who betrayed you. I could take care of them for you if you wish."
"Bah! Hear me well, King of the spirits. What kind of mentor would I be if I added my grudge to your already enormous baggage? Do you think I'm stupid? I always knew there is a darkness inside of you and I'm proud you never became its slave."
Nana wheezed for several seconds to catch her breath. She had little time left and still a few things to say.
"Thank you, Lark. Despite my stigma, you never stopped being my friend. A good, honest friend I never deserve. If there are gods on the other side I'll make sure they compensate you properly, or they'll taste my wrath.
Don't search for my enemies, Lith. It's only thanks to them that I had the opportunity to meet you and your sister. I rejoiced for your achievements like they were mine.
I know it's hypocritical to say from someone that never wanted a family, but I'm glad a part of me will always live inside your magic. Thanks to me a new magical bloodline was born. My enemies will probably follow me in death out of desperation."
She half laughed half coughed the last sentence.
"My only regret is that I failed you both. I never managed to teach you what you truly lack. Lith, the King of the spirits must be strong, wise, but also loving. Otherwise he is just a monster.
"Tista, my fairy Queen, if you don't learn how to close your heart to others, they will rip it out your chest. Whenever someone bothers you, don't give them a second chance. Do like I would and fry they their a*s."
After making sure her disciples understood her last wish, Nana fell asleep. Everyone remained to her side until her heart stopped.