The next day, Lith was happy and relaxed. He kept humming the whole time while he cleaned the house and prepared breakfast, reheating the pastries to make them regain some of their fragrance.
The long permanence in the Count's manor had proved to him how stressful it was being constantly forced to hide his skill and powers. Being born in a backwater village, were no one knew jack about magic was a blessing in disguise.
He had got too used to the freedom and isolation living in a farmhouse guaranteed him, to the point that holding back and constantly pretending to use fake magic for a prolonged period was akin to torture for him.
After a long discussion with Solus about the problem, they decided that the best course of action was to find a way to not attend any magic academy.
According to the magic annuals he had read in the last weeks, it was possible to become a member of the Magic Association despite being home-schooled. It just required a longer and more difficult exams session.
The biggest difference between a home-schooled and a magic academy graduate amounted only in a matter of fame and prestige.
By being admitted and successfully passing the tests devised by famous and talented magicians, the student was bound to have an easier time whatever was the path of his choosing.
A home-schooled, instead, no matter the score he could achieve, would always be seen like a rogue magician with no references. He would first need to prove himself, by either performing voluntary military service or becoming an adventurer.
Achieving merits was the only way for a rogue magician to have access to a prestigious and well-paid job. Lith didn't care for any of that, he just wanted to develop his powers, staying away from the spotlight until he reached sixteen years.
At that point, he would be considered an adult, and could finally leave Lutia to start exploring the world in search for a solution to his reincarnation problem.
If achieving true death turned out to be impossible, he would need to work his way around by either becoming an immortal or binding his soul to the current world.
That would be the worst-case scenario, but at least if he died, he would still be reborn with all his magic knowledge and have Solus by his side.
Thanks to the money he got from the Count for saving his family, Lith had no need to keep working as a healer. Only when Nana was on house calls or away for personal matters, he would take her place in the home office.
Many farmers relied on his presence and discounted prices to afford all the medical care they needed, Nana's fares were too expensive.
Just because at the moment he had no need for an extra income, it didn't mean he had already forgotten how bad it was for a family being forced to watch one of their loved ones suffer, the helplessness felt when money dictated the difference between living and barely surviving.
Lith would spend most of his mornings exploring the Count's library, in search for tomes to borrow.
It was a room twice the size of his house, at least one hundred squared meters (109 squared yards) big, located in a corner point of the main building.
Both the west and north side of the room had huge windows, arranged so that the sun would manage to perfectly light it until dusk.
The bookshelves were placed from wall to wall, parallel to each other, and spaced so to avoid ridiculous domino effect in case one fell over, creating four corridors. In the center of the room there was a luxurious desk and a couple of armchairs.
The books covered all the topics, not just magic, it was the sum of all the knowledge the Count had accumulated through the years. Every time Lith returned home from the library, he would carry over a small chest full of delicacies.
Hilya would never let him go away empty handed.
The first book Lith picked up, was the Lightning Griffon Academy rulebook. Together with useless information, like how submit your application and what were the most common admittance tests, he found an answer to an old question.
The academy would last five years, and each year the student would need to prove a rising level of mastery of magic. The first year required learning at least twenty tier one spells, the second one thirty tier two, and so on.
"So that's why spells are divided into tiers. It's to identify the skill level of the magico compared to the official academic course."
Tiers from one to three were comprised of simple spells with a single effect. Tier three was basically the same as a tier one, but much more powerful and with higher requirements in terms of talent and skill.
From tier four, the effects would be much more complicated, like when Lith weaved together different spells with true magic. Tier four and five, based on what he could find, seemed to be greatly similar to true magic.
"That's probably why most mages never learn the truth about magic. Once they think they have reached the pinnacle, they simply stop asking themselves questions. They put too much attention to the destination and too little on the trip itself."
Aside from magic, Lith was also burdened by an annoying personal problem. After seeing his family, the Count was begging him on daily basis to help his daughter get rid of her acne.
"Please, the Debutante Ball is when a young noble gets introduced to society as an adult, in the presence of the King's Court. It's a very important event that can affect her whole life.
It can change not only her chances of finding a good husband, she could also be handpicked by the Queen as her personal attendant or even lady-in-waiting."
It wasn't that Lith didn't understand, such events had existed on Earth too, more like he didn't care much. For his canons, only one person could keep a secret. Two were a risk, three a whole crowd. Adding a fourth one wasn't much to his liking.
"Solus, what do you think I should do? The Count has done and is still doing so much for me, a hard pass would be extremely rude on my side. At the same time, I don't know how much I can trust Keyla, being a teenager."
"I'd say to play it smart. Nana was extremely vague about what you did, and the Count has no idea about the before and after, since he only saw your family after the treatment.
Explain to Keyla the dangers you are putting yourself in just by helping her, and after you are sure she has understood, cure only her acne, nothing more. This will minimize the risks.
The fact that you saved her life should matter to her. Not to mention that after what her mother put Keyla through, she shouldn't be that naïve anymore. She knows what does it mean to live under a sword of Damocles."
Following Solus' advice, Lith and the Count explained to her all the possible consequences of breaking his trust, both for Lith and her family.
Keyla was a smart girl, so she felt kind of offended by receiving such obvious warnings.
"First of all, thank you for your trust. First you saved my life, and now you are willing to risk your own safety to save my social life too. This is a debt I will never be able to fully pay back.
Second, don't worry for a second about my silence. An advantage is called like that because you are the only one who has it. I would rather cut my tongue than allowing my competition to get their hands on something like that.
No offence, dad, but I know all too well we are just small-time nobles in a backwater County. I need all the help I can, and even with no acne, with our status and riches we are still leagues behind the big noble families."
Lith choose to play it safe, making the process last weeks instead of seconds, so that her skin treatment would go unnoticed.
They kept Jadon in the dark, and he only noticed the changes when her skin had become smooth and her make up much lighter.
Thanks to Solus he was also able to keep the female staff under his watch, and when not even them noticed anything strange, Lith could finally sigh with relief.
By that time, the Count's mansion was back at full staff, and the whole house was busy preparing for a big party. The Count wanted to celebrate two happy events.
The first was the annulment, while the second had been something completely unexpected. Based on his prenuptial arrangement, the Crown had decided to assign to him all the lands and annuities of the Ghishals after their untimely disappearance.
Sadly, he wanted Lith to attend, to introduce him to all the neighbouring nobility.
"It's really important for you, I managed to get even Marchioness Mirim Distar to attend. She is for me what I am to all the Barons and Baronets in the County. Her Marquisate encompasses all the region and its Counties.
If you can, prepare a good gift for her. The only suggestion I can give to you is to prepare something with your hands, or even better, with your magic!"
Lith was unimpressed and uninterested, but having to live another eight years in the Lustria County, he could only soldier up and move on. Making a gift for a woman was already hard, making one for someone much richer than him was a challenge.
"Does she like games?"
"Yes, she loves all kind of strategy games. She is a smart and cunning woman, if there will ever be a war, gods forbit it, she would make an excellent general."
"And I suppose she is the head of the Distar household, right?"
"Once again correct. Her spouse married into her family, he is like a prince consort, his title as Marquis is purely nominal. Don't tell me you already have something in mind?"
Lith nodded and left, very sad at the idea of wasting a whole afternoon and evening being a wallflower.
His destiny was akin to that of Gerda's corpse, something to show and brag about, before completely forgetting about it and move on next gossip piece.