When Asterios woke up, his mother wasn’t home. It was one of those days when she had to spend the whole day at her shop to oversee the business and verify some things. Usually, she was only leaving for a few hours during midday and her mornings and evenings were free. The place employed a few people who were quite professional and Kindra didn’t have to watch over them the whole time. She was able to deal with a lot of issues from home.
He made some sandwiches and invited Miria to have breakfast with him. They enjoyed a quick chat while eating. She still seemed a bit ashamed of herself from the previous day, but it didn’t affect their interactions that much.
Ast threw all the clothes and trinkets into a big paper bag and headed out for the academy. The sooner he would deal with it the lower the chances of anything inconvenient happening. Miria stayed in her realm while accompanying him through their connection.
It was shortly before afternoon so many students were dashing towards the academy as they usually did. Miria observed them ride many different beasts and noticed that none came even close to her size so she concluded that they must have been the usual beasts that existed even in her realm. Only one drake, which flew above Ast’s head, looked grander than her. An urge to appear by Ast’s side and serve as his mount started growing inside her mind.
~Do you really want to show-off that bad?~
She got startled a bit by his voice in her head, completely forgetting that they can sense each other’s surface thoughts and emotions, and especially right at that moment when she was focusing on looking through Ast’s eyes.
~Nn-no… I just… don’t like how they seem to be flaunting their beasts and Master has to walk…~
~I don’t mind having you around more after we deal with the academy. Let’s not invite any more troubles from them just before I leave. You know from some of my memories how bad they can be.~
Miria’s mood brightened a lot when hearing that she would be able to spend more time by his side. She decided to lay low until Ast would tell her it was the right moment. A few more hours or days wasn’t that long to wait for such joy. She would show everyone how great her master actually was.
He went through the gate without any issues. This time though, the guards did check his ID so the staff must have been already informed about the expulsion.
Before going to turn the items in at the Principal’s office, he took a last stroll around the campus. While the community here could have been much better, the facilities and architecture was something he always admired, especially the garden area. Ast took a moment to sit down in his usual spot and glanced at the beautiful view for the last time.
Everyone was looking his way when he was passing students moving towards their classes. It was natural. As someone with visibly different clothing, he had to garner attention. Others wore their white uniforms while he had his dark brown adventuring getup on him.
After half an hour of pointless wandering, Ast got back on the main path leading to the biggest building. He joined the crowd of people heading the same way. By some mischievous fate, he noticed a familiar, blue-haired head walking not that far from him to the front. To not create any unnecessary situations, he did his best to stay in the girl’s blind spot.
Unfortunately, another familiar thing appeared behind him, in the form of a man’s voice.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Weakest One. Oh? What’s this? Did you mix your uniform with your mother’s dresses while washing it? I must say, those spare clothes look even worse on you that it did.”
「Oh, for fuck’s sake… He had to be here at this exact moment...」
Hoping that Tina didn’t hear the guy’s statement would be too much and as Ast predicted, she quickly turned around after she heard someone mention his title. He clenched his fists and took a deep breath, releasing them again. Bringing his mother into the conversation irked Ast, but he didn’t want to escalate things even more.
He turned around and noticed the well-known to him blond-haired guy and his usual three followers.
“Hi there, Roz. How is your wolf doing? I’m always open for some more massages if he’s up for it.”
One of the boys chuckled at his remark and earned himself an elbow from the leader who clicked his tongue in annoyance.
“Very funny, Asti~.”
The thing Asterios couldn’t stand the most was the fact that this guy always addressed him using a playful tone with the nickname only his mother used, just to irritate him. Roz accidentally heard Kindra call him that near the academy’s gates in the past and started using the cute nickname as a way of mocking Ast. But even so, Asterios never took action, no matter how irritated he was.
“He definitely is doing better than your little, retarded rabbit. And definitely much better than you, Mr Astexpelled.”
The quartet started giggling and snorting amongst themselves.
Tina finally made it through the crowd that had gathered around the five students in the middle of the road. She got into the circle and stood beside Ast, looking at him and his offenders in turns.
Judging by her reaction, he concluded that most likely the professors wanted to go with his expulsion without any additional notices, but someone must have leaked the info to this guy. It wasn’t that unexpected, he was of noble birth and his family had quite a decent contact with some of them.
He wouldn’t be surprised if the boy’s parents were somehow pressuring or bribing a few of the teachers on the council to support the idea of getting him kicked out. He could see Roz begging them to deal with him with some made-up excuses.
Asterios sighed and turned to her. “Yeah. I’m out for that last breach of rules during the exam.” He waved his paper bag. “Just gonna turn in my stuff and be on my way.”
Tina’s heart sank as a reaction to his words. Her expression turned into a heavily shocked and sorrowful one.
She gripped the hem of her skirt and started to panic. She didn’t want Ast to leave. She didn’t know what to do. Should she drop out too? Should she try to talk with the Principal? Should she just tell him her feelings right now before they separate? What if he left nevertheless? They weren’t even that close. It was just her almost always watching him from the side, rarely interacting with Ast. Her anxiety was growing more and more as she stared at his figure, dressed in dark brown leather garments.
“Oh, don’t tell me you feel sorry for that trash, hahaha. He doesn’t belong here and everyone knows it. This will be a better place without such a failure!” the guy continued his curses.
Tina’s chaotic mind caught up on a possible target to vent her negative emotions. Quite the appropriate one with the man being most likely the main culprit behind the issue and sent him an angry glare while taking a step forward and gathering her mana.
But before she moved even a bit, Asterios’s arm appeared in front of her to stop her. He shook his head when their gazes met. He didn’t want Tina to get involved in this matter and suffer possible consequences. She helped him before and he owed her this much.
“Forget him, let’s just leave.” He showed a wry smile while placing a hand on her shoulder.
But Roz was not finished.
“That’s right! Run! That’s the only thing you can do! I hope that your useless critter gets squashed under a wagon or something!”
Ast’s brows twitched and he involuntarily squeezed his hand lying on Tina’s shoulder, making her yelp a little. The urge to smash the guys face as his parting gift grew in his heart, but he did his best to tame it down with another deep sigh.
“The world will be a better place when both of you finally disappear! It would have been better already if you didn’t exist in the first place. Even your whore mother didn’t want y—”
An immense amount of rage and anger flared inside Asterios’s mind. But, it wasn’t completely his own. He felt it slowly growing during this conversation and didn’t notice before that those weren’t only his emotions.
In the next split-second, a dark-crimson portal appeared near him and a huge black panther literally flew out of it straight at the blond-haired guy. A cat of quite the enormous size pounced on the student with a lot of force, pinning him down to the ground.
A ferocious roar soon reverberated through the air, followed by a small shockwave. Everyone screamed or gasped in surprise and some of the spectators even fell on their butts. Most of them had never seen such a big beast of the feline species and Miria additionally leaked out a powerful aura of animosity and killing intent.
She was growling loudly while staring at the completely frightened boy under her. She had enough of his attitude. Even if she was going to get heavily scolded by Asterios, she could not sit idly any much longer. She was impressed by how much her master could endure, but she was not him. Holding back emotions wasn’t her forte.
Miria growled even louder and lower and opened her jaws. The size of them was big enough to easily fit a whole watermelon when fully stretched so a not-that-impressive human head was nothing.
The guy started begging her to release him with tears in his eyes as the merciless jaws of death were descending slowly. All his companions were too frozen in fear to even think about helping. An enormous panther was standing on top of their friend, just between them.
As his face was starting to get surrounded by Miria’s teeth, Asterios’s voice reached her ears.
“Don’t kill him.”
She stopped. She really wanted to just close her jaws and end this human, but she wasn’t going to go against Ast’s wishes. She already might have complicated things with just her appearance. Miria pulled back her head and gave him one more ferocious growl before walking back to her master’s side while glaring at everyone present.
She arrived in front of Ast and lowered her head submissively, expecting him to be really mad at her. Asterios kneeled a little and brought his face closer to hers, resting their foreheads against each other, and began stroking her fur.
He sighed. “You silly girl, getting mad for my sake.” She purred softly. “Thank you. Let’s move before it gets worse.”
Asterios stood up and Miria raised herself too. He turned to Tina, who was completely flabbergasted like everyone present and grabbed her by the waist.
Without any issue, Ast sat her on Miria’s back and jumped onto it himself.
“Grab her fur tightly.”
He instructed the surprised and slightly embarrassed girl while leaning onto her and pressing them lower to Miria’s posture. A second later, she jumped off the ground and flew above the small crowd that was encircling them. After landing on the pavement, she began dashing towards the main building as Ast had instructed her.
Tina couldn’t help but scream with how fast they were going. The air pressure pushed her into Asterios strongly. Even the pegasus of her friend which she rode a few times didn’t reach such speeds. And the fact that the panther was manoeuvring around the walking people, angling its body to another direction with each leap, certainly didn’t help.
They arrived in front of the main building’s entrance in a flash, with Miria ending their sprint in a slide, kicking up a lot of dust and surprising even more people. Asterios hopped off her and helped Tina get down too. She quickly started fixing her completely dishevelled clothes and hair, stealing glances at Ast to see if he noticed her state.
Miria was going to head back to her realm, but Asterios stopped her.
~We’ve already caused quite a ruckus. You can stay.~
She felt happy but also a bit remorseful. She knew it was her fault and it most likely could have been avoided. Asterios sensed her worry and began patting her head with a kind smile. He turned to Tina.
“As I mentioned before, I’m going to hand the items back now. You should stay away from me so that you don’t get targeted next.”
“No. I’m coming with you and you can’t stop me!”
He shook his head. As far as he knew, Tina was quite the stubborn person and when she decided on something, it was hard to change her mind. At least that’s what he heard in the class.
“Do as you wish.”
They all walked together through the corridors, with Miria parading between the two. Many curious gazes surrounded them. As soon as they arrived in front of the Principal’s office, Ast knocked on the door.
Madam Teireshia’s voice urged them in. Tina was first to hastily open the door and quickly stride inside with an annoyed expression. She stopped just before the Principal’s desk and slammed her hands down onto it.
“I want to file a complaint!”
Asterios sighed again as he closed the door. It looked like he wouldn’t be able to just disappear without that much attention as he planned on doing.