I’m impressed. Bartholomew Shinx, his name can get me anywhere. How does a seventh-circle magician hold so much sway over this community? Unless he’s an eighth-circle magician, that would explain it, but I don’t think he is. No one’s even questioned my relationship with Mr. Shinx: they didn’t ask for proof, they didn’t ask how I knew him, they didn’t even harass Lucia when I said she was with me. Demons don’t take too kindly to beastkin.
The Arcane Arts Academy’s base is well-guarded. I know, earlier, I thought it’d be impossible to set up a town inside of the desolate mountains, but I’ve been proven wrong. There’s hundreds of spell arrays outside of the walls, and I think the dense mana hanging over the area dissuades beasts from coming. But there are still guards on the walls even with the many formations laying around. Most of them are at the sixth circle though; I only saw one seventh.
The walls are simple, made of earth and camouflaged with vines and trees. There are also corpses of dead beasts laying around in specific ways. There’s a dead elephant-like creature hanging from a tree, mimicking the prey of a divine shadow leopard. As long as beasts think stronger beasts live here, then they wouldn’t advance. Lucia was a bit nervous about entering this place as well, saying the territorial markings were unsettling.
The interior of the base is set up like a small section of the capital. There are buildings surrounding a plaza that has a teleportation array set up in the center. Stalls line the array where leaving students can sell their unused consumables and arriving students can buy useful items. Lucia said she wanted to hold off on selling our stuff until right before we left. She didn’t want to be surrounded by hundreds of demons who knew she had a fortune on her. I say our stuff, but really, it should all be Lucia’s. She just didn’t have enough space to carry all the corpses of the beasts she’s killed. I thought seven interspacial rings would be enough, but who knew it’d be too little?
After the group of students we were traveling with brought us here, they went to their commission area, and we tagged along. The academy has a nice system set up. They exchange spell books as rewards for handing in beast corpses. The beast corpses are used as materials to train alchemists, engravers, chefs, and necromancers who give their products to the school. These products, potions, bones, and meals, are also put up as rewards for killing beasts or accomplishing commissions. It’s a very self-sufficient economy that Lucia and I will be able to take part in because of Mr. Shinx. But I don’t know how useful Lucia will find this area; the academy is centered on creating magicians after all. A martial artist like her won’t get as much use out of it compared to someone like me.
“I want to take a hot bath,” Lucia said. She was staring fixedly at a sign that said lodgings. It was for the students who hadn’t booked their rooms in advance or visiting teachers. “I want a fluffy bed to sleep in too. I want to eat barbeque and drink beer.” Her tail twitched from side to side and she turned her gaze on me. Her face was akin to that of a divine beast’s. She pointed at the building.
“Okay. Let’s go.” Lucia made all the decisions, but I had to help her. All the demons we’ve encountered so far completely ignored her and focused their attentions on me instead. I’ve managed to deescalate the situation in every instance, but it’s only a matter of time before Lucia’s temper explodes and an incident occurs.
“Hello,” a feminine voice greeted us when we entered the building. “New student? You look awfully young. May I see your I.D.?”
“I’m not a student,” I said, “but I’m an acquaintance of Bartholomew Shinx.”
“Oh,” the woman at the counter said, bringing her hand to her mouth. “Teacher Shinx, is it? I understand. Will he be staying with you two as well?”
“He won’t,” I said. At least, I don’t think he will. He seemed like a very busy person with his briefcase and all.
The woman nodded. “Usually you’d have to pay with your contribution points, but considering you don’t have any, I’ll put the tab on Teacher Shinx’s account,” she said. “Would a regular room for two be sufficient?”
“VIP!” Lucia shouted.
The teacher glanced at Lucia, then turned her gaze back onto me.
I resisted the urge to scratch the itch that appeared on my neck, and I nodded. “We’ll take a VIP room.”
“Not a VIP room,” Lucia said and placed her hands on the counter while leaning forward. “The VIP room. The best one you have.” She glared at the unsettled woman with her tail twitching like it was smacking away flies. “It better have a hot bath.”
The woman smiled at Lucia while taking a step back. “The luxury suite does have a bath. It also has access to the private roof with a swimming pool and grill. The—”
“We’ll take it!” Lucia said. She turned her gaze onto me, and I involuntarily gulped.
“I’d like to book the luxury suite then,” I said to the woman. “Does Mr. Shinx have enough contribution points to afford it?”
“That depends on how many nights you’re staying,” the woman said. “Teacher Shinx has enough contribution points to book the room for a week.”
“Then we’ll stay for a week!” Lucia said.
It seemed like I had to tell my father about Mr. Shinx. If I used up all his contribution points and didn’t do anything in return for him…, terrible rumors would start about the Pentorn family. Who would want to help me out in the future if that were to occur? “Yes, we’ll book the room, but it’s possible we might leave in less than a week.”
“Impossible!” Lucia said, shaking her head.
Sorry, Mr. Shinx. Your sacrifice is appreciated.