The shopkeep came out a little less than a minute later with a medium sized tarp bag in his hands. He handed it to Sylph, who took it and paid him with a single gold coin. He took it and returned a small handful of silver coins which Sylph put back into the bag holding her other coins. She put the soap into the bag and slung it over her shoulder.
“Is there anything else I can get the two of you? Notebooks? Quills?”
“I think that’s it,” Damien replied. Then he tilted his head. “Notebooks? For rune drawing?”
“You could use them for that, but there are a good number of classes that you’ll want to take notes in,” the clerk said. “You’ll find out about them soon enough. It’s been a while since I was a Year One, but I think they’ll start up right about now, since you just finished the ranking battles.”
Henry chuckled within Damien’s mind. “You’ll need no such thing with me. I won’t be forgetting any new information that we learn. I’ve missed far too much in the last four thousand years.”
“Oh, that’s good to know,” Damien said to the shopkeep, mentally nodding to Henry. “I think I’m good for now, but I might show back up later. I’ve already got some notebooks of my own.”
“As am I,” Sylph said.
“Of course,” the clerk said, smiling at them.
The two of them bid farewell to the large man and headed out of the store.
“Should we get breakfast?” Sylph asked.
“That sounds great,” Damien replied. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve eaten something other than dumplings or goop.”
“Me too,” Sylph said, licking her lips as they set a course for the mess hall. “I’ve tried ordering something different for lunch, but Delph must have done something. It doesn’t matter what I ask for, because the food that shows up is always dumplings.”
“He’s certainly interesting,” Damien said, lowering his tone a little. “He was on the front lines, wasn’t he? I wonder why they took him off.”
Sylph shrugged. “No idea. I didn’t have any interaction with anyone other than the man that trained me. From what he said, the front lines were a whole new level of danger. The monsters outside of the kingdom are nothing like the ones inside it. There aren’t many mages that are strong enough to survive there, but the ones that do are incredibly powerful.”
“So why’d Delph leave?” Damien wondered. “Maybe he got tired of the constant fighting. Or he was injured.”
“He doesn’t seem injured to me,” Sylph muttered. “I don’t think he’s tried seriously against us a single time. I don’t expect to be as strong as a professor, but I would have thought that he’d have to make a mistake or one of our attacks would eventually threaten him enough to at least make him slightly scared.”
“I guess that’s why he was on the front lines,” Damien said.
Sylph just shrugged. They reached the mess hall a few minutes later. The sun had still yet to climb over the horizon, and there wasn’t anyone else in the line. The lunch lady glanced up from a large book – Damien was pretty sure it was the same one that the clerk had been reading.
She didn’t put the book down as they approached. Damien squinted at the cover. His cheeks immediately flushed red. It depicted two people in some very suggestive decisions, and what little was left to interpretation was cleared up by the title, Love Making for the Uninitiated and Lustful.
“Is it too early for breakfast?” Sylph asked, tastefully avoiding looking at the book. The woman didn’t seem particularly bothered.
“Could I get something, then? Whatever’s most popular on the menu,” Sylph said.
The woman nodded and extended a hand. “One silver.”
Sylph dug around in her bag and set the requested coin down in her hand. It vanished and the lunch lady turned to look at Damien, raising a thick eyebrow.
Damien forced the flush out of his cheeks and cleared his throat. “Could I get some pancakes?”
Damien pulled out a gold coin.
“Do you want change or do you want to put the remaining ninety nine silver on your account?”
“Might as well put it on my account,” Damien said. “I think I’ve had my fill of the free meals.”
What could have possibly been a grin flickered across her face, but it vanished as fast as it had appeared. She simply gave Damien a small nod as his coin vanished into her large mitt. She raised the book again and started to read.
All the tables were empty, so Damien and Sylph walked over to one near the middle of the room and sat down, activating the rune circles in front of them.
“What should we do after breakfast?” Damien asked. “I suppose it might be a good idea to start learning some more magic. I’ve also got to train a lot more, Delph or not. I barely won those last few fights. I only beat Nolan by basically blowing both of us up.”
“Blowing yourself up?” Sylph asked.
Damien quickly explained how his last few fights had gone. Sylph shook her head, rubbing her forehead.
“That’s not a good habit to get into,” she said. “I know there was a healer there, but if you train like that then you might do it in the field when there isn’t anyone to save you.”
“Yeah, I know,” Damien said, sighing. “Hence, more training and new spells. I want to learn something more defensive. The Enlarge spell is okay, but it has a lot of weaknesses.”
“It might be time for me to look into a new spell as well,” Sylph said, a small frown crossing her face. “I’m almost certain Mark was holding back when we fought.”
“Really? It looked like he was going all out.”
“You’ll see when you get strong enough for him to take you seriously when you fight. I don’t know what he’s hiding, but the professors clearly know about it. That’s probably why he got the solo room.”
Their runes lit up green. The two students eagerly pressed on the circles, the conversation forgotten as they had their first decent breakfast in weeks.