Lith's interest was really piqued, so he let Nana continue, keeping his questions for later.
"Based on how a student performs, she is able to gain or lose points…"
"Individual points or group points?" Lith felt so dumb. He had not even finished his previous thought, that he already had been forced to contradict himself.
"I swear, if there's some kind of retarded household competition, I'll take back every second-guess I had about my choice."
Nana raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
"Do you even remember what did I tell you the last time about the academies and their students? Should you put a juicy slab of meat in front of ferocious hungry beasts, do you expect them to cooperate for it?
No! They would rather eat each other heart out. Off course the point system is individual. It's very similar to the merit system, but instead of gaining credit from the Kingdom, you gain it from the school itself.
The points are the only currency allowed inside the academy, and with them you can afford lots of things. Magical potions, enchanted items and even rare ingredients for you experiments. Obviously, the higher the value, the higher the price."
From the long pause, Lith assumed that she had finished and was waiting for his questions.
"What are magical potions? It's the first time I hear about them."
"Magic potions are like special spells in a vial. The most basic are alike to healing spells, but between the infirmary and the fact that everyone knows light magic, they are rarely purchased.
The more precious are those that allow the user to become temporarily faster, stronger, or even harden her skin if she suspects she will be forced to a melee fight."
"What about mana potions?"
"Isn't there any kind of potion to quickly restore one's mana?"
Nana laughed heartily.
"Kid, knowledge is shared on voluntary basis. If any master Potionist ever discovered something like that, he would keep it for himself. At least that's what I would do."
Lith was underwhelmed, potions seemed a poor imitation of his fusion magic.
"Not only they are consumable items, but you even have to waste your time bringing them around and replenishing your supply when needed. Plus, fake mages don't even have something like Invigoration.
The only good thing about potions, is that I can pretend to use them while I use fusion magic instead. Aside from that, they are not very interesting."
(AN: Invigoration is the breathing technique that allows Lith to quickly regain mana and stamina, to the point that he is able to go on for months without needing to sleep.
The longer he uses it, the shorter its effects last. The only way to reset its effects is to actually sleep. See chapter 8 for more details)
"I understand." Is what he actually said out loud.
"What kind of magical items can be purchased?"
"Every academy has at least ten Forgemasters residents. They act as both teachers and researchers in the magical field.
They usually put out for sale their lesser works, but they can even bring out high grade magical items, when the academy wants to stir up a rat race, like right before the final exams.
The most useful items I had, were a dimensional amulet and rings from tier one to three. The dimensional amulet allowed me to bring around whatever I needed without suffering its weight, while the rings were able to store spells of the same tier, allowing for an instant cast."
Lith didn't miss the strict use of the past tense while referring to her possessions. He felt sorry for her, but instead of hyping him, her speech was having the opposite effect.
"A dimensional amulet? Is it some kind of magical storage item?" He played dumb.
"Brilliant as usual. Yes, dimensional rings and amulets can store anything inanimated up to a fixed volume of space, regardless of the weight.
The lowest class has only a few cubic meters available, the highest class can store even fifty cubic meters (65 cubic yards). The size of a whole small house."
The underwhelming feeling was getting deeper.
"Solus, how much can our pocket dimension store?"
"At the moment the storage can hold thrice as much the so-called highest class, and is still expanding. The library space, or Soluspedia, as you call it, is now around thirty cubic meters (39 square yards) big. And it's also expanding."
Lith's poker face was good, but not that good. Nana could see that he wasn't impressed at all.
"What's with that face? Do you understand or not that whatever you get during your studies, you get to keep it once you graduate? Have you any idea how difficult and expensive is to purchase even the lowest magical item?"
Lith closed his eyes while rubbing his forehead.
"How can I even pretend to be interested in something that I already have or I can do better? Sure, those things would help me greatly keeping hidden my true magic. Whenever I employ an instant cast, I could use the rings as a cover. But that's it."
Being an expert liar, Lith knew what his limits were. So, he changed topic.
"The Forgemaster's job seems really interesting. Is it possible to specialize in such field? Does one need to also be a blacksmith to become a Forgemaster?"
"Yes, it's among the available choices. And no, blacksmithing is not required. A Forgemaster does not create anything, he just imbues objects with magical properties, be it a ring, an amulet, a chair or even a day dress.
They can't possibly master all the craftsmen jobs. Most of them prefer to just learn the basic of their favourite trade, though. So, a Forgemaster specialized in rings will know something about goldsmithing, and so on."
"That's really interesting." And for once Lith wasn't just pretending.
Out of the three topics, the only ones that really interested him were the books and the specialization. With an endless supply of knowledge, he could easily recreate or invent all kinds of spell with true magic.
But that was still something that he could figure out on his own, with time and experience. Becoming a Forgemaster, instead, would be a priceless treasure for him.
Lith had no knowledge about such arts, hence he could never grasp even the basics without an external help.
But once he had uncovered the underlying principles of forgemastering, coupling them with true magic and the academy's library, he would be able to unlock infinite possibilities.
Just the ideas about magical items that came to him on the spot were enough to give him an adrenaline rush.
But when his excitement was at his peak, a sudden thought sent chills down his spine.
"Before getting my hopes up, can you explain to me how one does get points? There is no such a thing about daily challenges between students, tournaments or something, right?"
Nana laughed her a*s off.
"That's such an idiotic idea! Not even the wildest rumours would go that far. Otherwise they would be called magic graveyards instead of academies. There's already enough violence going around as it is.
If any Headmaster started to reward students for their behaviour, only a dozen mages would graduate each year, and no one would make their children enrol. A war battlefield would be much safer."
Lith could sigh with relief, one of his biggest worries had just faded away.
"Points are earned mostly through how a student performance in class and during practical exercises. Any feat that benefits the academy, like sharing personal spells, gives additional points.
But the real motherlode are the quarterly exams and the finals. All points can be converted anytime, even after graduating successfully, that's why there is so much competition for the top spots.
Beware, thought. Even if discipline won't give you any extra point, it can easily make you lose a lot of them. Aside from failing tests repeatedly, is the only way to lower your score.
If it goes to negative, you'll be forced to compensate by giving back everything you might have already bought. That's how I lost everything I had."
Nana sighed, her voice filled with sadness and regret, tormenting her neck where probably her dimensional amulet used to be.
Count Lark intervened, explaining their reason to hide such things from him.
"We didn't tell you any of this before, to not put you under any more stress and to not raise your expectations about your future too much, in case of failure.
Most of the applicants get rejected. In the past, when such knowledge was publicly available, there have been countless suicides among the youths that either couldn't bear the pressure or handle the failure.
Especially for those of humble origin, being admitted in a magic academy is the only way to escape their destiny. To a lesser extent, the same could be said for nobles' and merchants' sons that are not in the line of succession."
"I can see that happening. But honestly, I don't see the point in telling me all this. Is not like I got rejected for lack of trying." He lied.
"What do you expect me to do? Travel through all the County looking for magical beasts? Cause disasters just to be able to solve them? Honestly, I don't think there is any amount of merits that could change my situation."
The Count shook his head.
"We don't expect you to do anything but your best. You have spent years trying to dissuade me to not send you to the academy, and don't think that I didn't notice your total lack of enthusiasm during our trip.
You acted the whole time like it was all about someone else, someone you didn't care about. You didn't stand up for yourself, you only wanted to get out of that room!"
"Well, maybe you are right. But maybe I just wanted to avoid the Headmistress killing you on the spot. Also, it was you telling me to shut up. It would have been beyond stupid adding oil to the fire." Lith wasn't lying.
In that moment, when he had saw the Headmistress' eyes overloading with mana, he had been seriously worried about the Lark's family destiny, and had decided to drag the Count away as soon as possible.
"Point taken. You are right." Count Lark sat down with a depressed face.
"Bottom line, we still have a few cards to play. Most likely, nothing will come out of them. But if by any chance we succeed, we need you to do more than sit on the side-lines. That's the point."