Chapter 1 – Interviewed by Drake
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There was nothing in this room except one desk and two chairs in front of each other on which were sat the redheaded from earlier and Umbrum the stranger. As soon as they sat, Umbrum wiggled a short time, wondering whether to remove it or not.

“What is it ?” The mage asked, staring at the wiggling young man who immediately shook his head before lowering his hood, revealing his face after some dozens of minutes following their first meeting.

Nothing special, a pale white skin, short black hair and obscure green eyes, his face was rather straight and he had a small nose. A common face to resume this, why did he even keep his hood if it was to hide such commonness ? Was it due to his personality ?

“My name is Drake, I will ask you a series of questions to which you have to reply the quickest possible without interruptions. No time to think, okay ?” Drake warned him on a strict tone and cleared his throat.

“What’s your name ?” He first asked a quick question in less than a second.

“My name is Umbr-”

“Where were you born ?” He interrupted him and Umbrum immediately shivered, understanding what he meant by ‘no time to think’.

“Senitis, little cottage on the countryside.”

“How did you learn magic ?”

“Instinct.” He frowned upon such nonsense.

“Did you study in an scholar institution ?”

“Yes at eight.”

“What are your arcanic affinities ?”

“None.”

“...” Drake quietened down and sighed, he did not expect the level of Umbrum’s knowledge to be so low, you can not have no affinities, it was proven by… he did not remember the name of the researcher, alas. Then he continued with the questions.

“Was there any mage in your family ?”

“They were hunters and they disappeared.” Suspicious.

“Why did you continue to use magic ?”

“Why wouldn’t I ?” Good.

“What is your goal in coming here ? In entering the syndicate ?”

“I simply want to survive which I badly succeeded until now.” Strange, he should know how to hunt, he can just settle somewhere and live.

After reuniting his answers, Drake felt perplexed, something seemed to be wrong with it,the fact that he said he had no affinities yet he studied in an institution, in others terms, he should know that it is not possible but he still says it. Was he given some fake knowledge ? He rubbed his chin and decided to test Umbrum himself. Without warning, he took his hand and stared into his eyes.

“Flow your mana.” He did not reply and nodded at his order. Something inside him began to move around, following his blood circulation, at that moment, Drake frowned and rubbed his forehead. His thoughts were in a mess indeed, since, there was magic however no affinity as he said.

Why ? He remembered that affinity was a sign of life, then having no affinity is generally reserved to undead. However the person in front of him was in flesh and alive. It was… interesting, they should keep him here. Or… he should.

A malicious glint could be seen in his pupils as a soft and calculated smile appeared on his face. He knew what he had to do.

“I see. That’s interesting, I have an idea, would you like to become… my assistant and skip all the tests ?” Hearing that, Umbrum hesitated and asked on a perplexed tone, as if he did not want to accept this enticing proposal.

“...how long willl I stay your assistant at the bare minimum ?” Once again, Drake’s heart felt astonishment because of Umbrum, the same question repeated itself in his head, why ? Why does he seem to care so much about time ? It seemed as if to him, the Esoteric Syndicate was only a temporary measure. He could not find any reasons to it. But why ?

Umbrum’s face was always the same during the entire time they conversed, his smile did not change in the slightest, nevertheless, he knew one thing, he cared a lot about time and himself.

“One year.” A brief reply softly exited his mouth, to which the future assistant nodded, nevertheless, it was not the end, there was another question.

“What is your goal ?” It was, in his opinion, the most important matter to ask. Depending on his reply, he can deduce how honest and sincere is Umbrum, perhaps if his intentions are beneficial or not.

“I wish… to find the truth about my family and myself.” Intriguing. It was truly curious. Simply this ? Was he not supposed to come from a simple and humble family of hunters ? Drake continued to stare Umbrum with sharp eyes. Inquiring for more details, and under this pressure, he simply complied and kept on speaking. Still, with this reply, he guessed it was why he cared so much about time, why he treated the Esoteric Syndicate as a temporary measure, because, his goal is something else, finding his family. What a foolish and stupid child.

“...because when I was young, they disappeared one day without warning. I was out since… well, I wanted to hunt by myself and when I was going back home, I did not find the house, no, the house wasn’t even there, it disappeared as if… it never existed, instead of my home, there was a hole… leading to cave, I fell into it and lost consciousness… afterwards, the rest doesn’t matter.”

Either something is wrong with his memories, either his family was not as simple as he thought, why would they get wiped off the face of earth otherwise ? Alas, Drake concluded that he was honest but doubtful, everything he says seem to be the truth from his mouth, nevertheless, there is always something very wrong with it. No matter what it is.

After staying silent for a few minutes, Umbrum gulped and deeply sighed as he continued to wait for Drake’s decision who still seemed to be hesitating, it was only the appearance, he long decided to take him however he wanted to see if he was desperate enough to beg him. In spite of it, for once, he was right, to him, the Esoteric Syndicate was nothing more than a solution as except a slight stress, nothing significant emanated out of him. There was a better way for both of them.

“Alright, that's decided, you will be now my assistant, and on your free time, you will be a receptionist and manage the missions given to newcomers, is that clear ? More details would be provided later, like when you will begin your job. Meanwhile, you will obey me.” Staying quiet, he did not need to say anything, he simply nodded since Drake seemed to be in a hurry, as if he needed to hide something. So he could wait for him to finish, perhaps, if he bothered him, it might negatively impact him.

Catching his thin wrist, lines began to appear all over Drake's body, a spell was prepared using his body as an unique medium. The space around the two of them twisted, none of them could feel the sensation of their feet touching the ground, of the air entering by their nostrils and leaving by their mouth, neither could they hear anything, everything became black in an instant. In a split of second, colors returned, they could breathe, they could see, they could hear, they could smell, they could feel, every sensations came back.

Drake couldn’t help but cough loudly and hold his head, it was not the first time, nevertheless, he never got used to it. Each time, he felt like puking, however, he snorted and threw a glance at Umbrum who seemed to be… unaffected.

Stunning, that was all he thought, Drake became more interested, so indeed, this child has probably some experiences with teleportation or similar actions. With a smile that seemed hypocritically gentle, he asked.

“Are you familiar with teleportation ?” Obviously, to inquire his personal input and to confirm his assumption.

“No… it is the second time, but I lived this kind of things many time. Nothing related to space or time to be exact.” Curses ? That was what he thought at the moment, he did not see anything else that can make you feel like you do not exist through the loss of sensations. It might explain his oddness, what kind of environment did he live in to suffer from curses ? Might also be the cause of him having no affinity. Shamefully, it was not Drake’s magical field of studies. Nevertheless, perhaps he could the future results of his studies to one of his colleague and use those funds for a deepened study and his project.

“Mmm, curses perhaps ?” Drake wondered aloud and hearing this, Umbrum rubbed his chin, he seemed to be in deep thought, can it be considered as a curse ? That was what he was thinking.

His boss sighed and said after taking a deep breath, the wood was creaking at the sudden pressure.

“Can you get a look around you and tell me what you think about your room ?” His eyes rose up and he began to look around, it seemed to be quite old. Considering the feeling of the wood at his feet, it seemed like they were on the first floor or higher. In this room, there was a bed, neat and clean… unexpectedly, it seemed to be comfortable. It has been a while since he slept on a bed. Without looking at the rest of the room, he sat on the bed.

Mellow. Soft. Pure. Peaceful.

This bed… could be considered as an average bed, but for someone who slept on the ground for years, whose body is filled with aches and is slightly deformed due to his living conditions, it was heaven on earth. That was a feeling he did not feel since a while, the desire to sleep. His hand seemed to be… caressing the bed.

Staring at him with dull eyes, he coughed to make him come back to reality and stop having disillusions about a bed, no, he will not sleep yet, he is not authorized to sleep.

Disinterested in everything except the bed, he still decided to look around and saw an empty bookshelf.

“That will be for the books you own and want later on.” Following his eyes, Drake explained little by little. The bookshelf was… dusty but it could easily support the weight of a bit more than a hundred books. Afterwards, there was a desk, did he really need to explain ?

Of course not.

And a wardrobe, dusty as well, this whole room was dusty, except the bed. Perhaps someone slept in it recently ? Drake ? That was a wild guess.

“Oh yeah, there are some old clothes you can wear, I used them when I was… your age I guess ? How old are you actually ?” Earlier, he did not ask anything about his age, after all, it is just a meaningless detail.

“Sixteen...” Seemed just about right. Nothing much to say.

“Alright, everything’s settled, for now, put all of your stuff here, tidy your room and then descend to the living room, we will take a meal as we go deeper into details, alright ?” Umbrum nodded and opened his bag after waiting that Drake. He took out a grimoire which name was in a language that was unfamiliar. Strangely, there was only a little dozen of pages. He held it in his arms and hugged it tightly. Then he packed it in his coat. It was something very dear to him, the only item he had from his childhood.

Something he will never ever leave alone. And something that won’t ever leaves him.

“It seems like… I gained quite a lot of time… maybe I can find a solution if I…” He supposed that his master had an idea hidden between the lines considering his attitude and curiosity until now, so perhaps, he can strike a deal with him. One he will not refuse. 

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