In the silent classroom, Roel Ascart and Lilian Ackermann sat in the same row but with two empty seats between them.
At the front of the classroom, Chris stared at the chasm of awkwardness that stood between the two of them at a loss.
This shouldn’t be. Roel has joined the academy not too long ago, and he shouldn’t have met Lilian over the past week. Why does the atmosphere between the two of them feel so cold, as if they have a grudge against one another?
Unaware of the short confrontation between her two students prior to the entrance ceremony, the crimson-haired teacher was utterly bewildered. However, there was someone who was even more bewildered than her in the classroom, and that was Roel.
There was only one question lingering in his mind at the very moment.
R*ddit: How do I interact with a woman whom my ancestor has tasked me to knock up? Need urgent answers right away!!!
Roel felt his mind slowly turning numb. Had this been before his encounter with Ro in the dungeon, he would have simply maintained a polite distance between the two of them, but now…
Just looking at Lilian’s face would make him uncontrollably recall the mission Ro had entrusted to him with a pat on the shoulder!
It was already bad enough to knock up an unmarried woman, but he even had to do it behind the back of her family members. This was such a scummy move that Roel felt conscience-stricken just thinking about it. He felt like he had lost the moral high ground here, which resulted in the weakening of his airs as well.
He hadn’t tried gathering information about Chris’ students as he was preoccupied trying to hide from far too many people hounding him down, and he had already made up his mind about choosing Chris as his academic advisor. As a result, he was completely caught off-guard by the turn of events.
It was out of awkwardness from his ancestor’s instruction that Roel had fallen silent, but Lilian’s silence stemmed from her deep contemplation.
Was it deliberate?
Her stoic face concealed her thoughts, but her eyes were slowly growing sharper.
As the princess of the Austine Empire, Lilian was renowned enough to be dubbed as the representative of ‘Chris’ Classroom’. There was no way Roel could have not known that she was Chris’ student.
But the reaction he gave when he entered the classroom…
Lilian recalled the dumbfounded look on Roel’s face upon catching sight of her and shook her head. She was fairly certain that his reaction was authentic, and that he wasn’t putting on act here.
Is it a coincidence? If that’s the case… this might be a good thing.
Of the three new Ringbearers, the Theocracy’s princess and the daughter of Rosa’s chief administrator were likely to bear hostility toward her, an imperial princess of the Austine Empire. Thus, it would be best for them to shun one another outside of the Rose Council so as to avoid conflict.
However, the same couldn’t be said about Roel.
It was true that Roel was a noble of the Saint Mesit Theocracy, but he wasn’t a central noble but a landed noble. He didn’t have any direct conflict with Austine’s imperial family, so there wasn’t any deep-rooted grudge between them. If she could at least maintain friendly relations with him, he could at least be a bridge between her and the other two new Ringbearers, especially since he was on good terms with them.
Most important of all, it would be a form of escapism if she were to refuse to tutor him now, and it wasn’t like her to appear weak. Besides, was it really possible for her to avoid him now that they were both Chris’ students?
“Do the two of you know each other?”
After a prolonged bout of awkward silence, Chris finally stepped in and enquired about their relationship. The two of them immediately shook their heads in response.
“Not really. I met him once before the entrance ceremony, but it was mainly for work,” replied Lilian.
Her voice was impassive, and her calm amethyst eyes concealed her thoughts. She still bore some reservations about Roel due to the plausible nefarious intentions he harbored for approaching Paul. However, Chris wasn’t the type to probe into the affairs of her students.
“Is that so? Well, shall we start with introductions first? The two of you will be frequently meeting one another from now onward. I doubt that our class will be growing bigger anytime soon, so it’s only going to be awkward if you don’t warm up to one another. Besides… the two of you won’t be able to avoid interacting with one another even outside of my classroom.”
“Ah? What do you mean by that?”
Roel frowned upon hearing Chris’ words whereas Lilian’s eyes gleamed silently. Chris raised her eyebrows slightly as she asked.
“If I’m not mistaken, you’re both creation transcendents, right?”
“Creation? No, I’m more of a summoner transcendent.”
“Yes, I know that you’re officially considered a summoner transcendent in your student records, but you’ll be grouped with the creation transcendents for your practical combat classes. You can think of creation as a special branch of summoning. This distinction came into existence in recent decades due to the existence of unique individuals like you…”
Roel was a little stunned to hear Chris’ words. Based on what the latter was saying, it would appear that ‘summoning’ wasn’t an apt word to describe his bloodline ability.
The traditional meaning of summoning was the act of transporting an already existent object or being to one’s side. The same principles applied in the summoning of fire spirits or death spirits too.
However, this was at odds with Roel's ability since he was summoning the consciousness of ancient beings and manifesting their bodies in the present world with his mana. From a certain perspective, it was more of an act of ‘building something out of nothing’, which fell under the category of ‘creation’.
There were also differences between the two in terms of mana consumption.
Summoning was a one-time purchase. Once an object or being was summoned, it wouldn’t require any mana to maintain the summoning.
Creation, on the other hand, was more like a subscription. Once Roel stopped supplying mana to Peytra or Grandar, their manifested bodies would soon dissipate naturally due to their inability to house their powerful souls.
Chris’ sharp and concise explanation enlightened Roel. He finally understood where the feeling of incongruence he had felt all this while came from. However, new doubts swiftly surfaced in his mind.
This means that Lilian is a creation transcendent too?
Roel shot a glance at the ice beauty two seats away from him as he tried recalling the Lilian in Eyes of the Chronicler…
Nothing came to mind.
The only major fight he really remembered from the game was the in-game Roel’s lynching scene, but Lilian wasn’t one of the key attackers there so there weren’t many details regarding her. He only recalled her summoning some sort of soldiers in order to back the others up.
Now that he really thought about it, Lilian probably wasn’t in a good position to do anything since she was from the Austine Empire. No matter how vile the in-game Roel was, it wasn’t the place of an imperial princess of the Austine Empire to punish a criminal from the Theocracy.
“There aren’t that many creation transcendents around, so the two of you are bound to bump into one another for the practical combat classes,” said Chris.
She habitually picked up a smoke, only to hesitantly put it down upon recalling that she was in a classroom.
There was a moment of silence as Roel and Lilian traded glances. There were a myriad of emotions rippling in Roel’s golden eyes whereas Lilian’s amethyst eyes remained as chilly as ever, as if there was a block of ice in her that simply couldn’t be melted.
Here it was, the fastest self-introduction in the world! I guess it’s good that we at least managed to exchange names, though it felt more like attendance taking…
Roel felt a little helpless about the situation, but he had no idea what to say at all. In a sense, he did know more about Lilian than anyone else, but that didn’t seem to be helping much here.
If I were to tell her ‘You’re a bro-con’, she’ll probably erupt like a volcano right away.
Perhaps it was because Chris felt uncomfortable with the undispellable awkwardness lingering in the air, she excused herself using the pretext of giving them some space to know one another.
It came as a relief since there were some words they couldn’t speak of in Chris’ presence.
He waited patiently for Chris’ footsteps to fade from the corridor before finally speaking up. He felt that there were some things he should clarify, and it would be good if he could win some Affection Points from her in the midst of doing so.
“Senior Lilian, I’m unaware that you’re a student of Miss Chris.”
“… Is that so?”
Lilian’s response was as nonchalant as ever, but Roel didn’t back down because of that. He continued on calmly.
“I apologize for the incident on the field. It wasn’t my intention to undermine the Enforcement Division.”
“… I see.”
“We’re both Miss Chris’ students, creation transcendents, and fellow Ringbearers. It’s likely that we’ll meet one another often in the future, so I think it’ll be good if we can maintain friendly relations…”
Roel’s words got smoother and smoother, and just as he was just about to get into befriending her, Lilian suddenly cut him short. She finally turned over to face Roel properly before calmly voicing out her thoughts.
“We might have many commonalities that make it impossible for us to avoid one another, but I have no intention of getting on close terms with you. Our backgrounds make it impossible for us to form such a relationship.”
Lilian glanced at the pale blue ring sitting on Roel’s finger as she spoke, which made the latter’s expression stiffen a little. He realized that Lilian had a negative impression of him.
“… I understand your intention, but it seems rude of me to not reciprocate your favor when you’re sparing your time to tutor me.”
“You need not pay that any heed. I’m not doing this for you. It’s just a request from Miss Chris. I believe that it’s sufficient for us to remain as simple classmates. There’s no need for anything more or less, or else any conflict that arises in the future will just put us in difficult positions. What do you think?” said Lilian with a businesslike tone.
Roel finally got a grasp on the situation here. It was no longer a matter of whether Lilian had a good impression of him or not but that it didn’t exist at all. It was just like the adage, ‘the greatest distance in the world is the distance between two strangers’.
“If that’s what you believe to be necessary, let’s go with that then.”
Roel’s voice turned a little colder and stiffer after hearing Lilian’s words, but Lilian wasn’t fazed by it. She nodded her head before rising to her feet.
“I’m glad that we’re able to come to a consensus. Well, if you may excuse me.”
With a quick farewell, Lilian left the classroom.
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