Chapter 96
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Of course, Delph made sure the students didn’t think he was going soft after their success at the tournament. Immediately after he finished lecturing them, the man set them all off on several laps around the track.

The moment they finished, he broke everyone off into groups and put them through a brutal workout. By the time he finally relented, everyone was laid out flat on the ground, gasping for breath.

Delph walked around the field of exhausted students, dropping slips of paper on their heads as he passed while humming to himself, not even slightly out of breath.

“You all get a break from me tomorrow,” Delph said. “Your respective teachers will be contacting you for your first lesson. I’m sure they’ll use much less interesting methods than I do, but that’s just something you have to live with. Don’t try comparing them to me – none of your teachers will live up to any of my aspects, no matter how hard they try. Just be happy that I teach one of your classes, as most don’t even get the privilege of that.”

Damien managed to sit up just in time to see Delph give him a small wink before the man’s cloak swallowed him and he disappeared. He let out a groan and flopped back to the ground. He’d barely made it through today’s class. His head still felt light from the morning’s incident and the new scars on his chest occasionally ached for no apparent reason.

A few moments later, he reached up with a trembling hand and raised the slip of paper that Delph had dropped up so that he could read it. The rising sun lit the paper up from behind, making it slightly translucent and highlighting the ink.

“Magic Theory – A Rank Quests,” Damien read aloud. A grin stretched across his features. He forced himself upright and tucked the paper into a pocket in his coat.

“Fantastic,” Henry said. “This will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about modern magic. Also – I need more books. I got impatient and finished them last night.”

Damien sighed, shaking his head and not gracing his companion with a response.

“I got rune drawing,” Nolan said, holding his paper out before him like it was slimy. “It feels like the professors are just rubbing my defeat at Damien’s hands in.”

“Hey, if it works…” Mark said, rolling to his feet with a grunt. He tucked his paper into his belt and let out a yawn.

Sylph walked over to Damien and extended her hand. He took it, and she pulled him to his feet. After he brushed the dirt off his clothes, Damien raised an eyebrow in her direction.

“What class?” he asked.

“Magical Control,” Sylph said. “Probably to improve my pitiful amounts of energy. And I’m allowed to take on A ranked quests. What about you?”

“Same for the quests, and I got Magic Theory. I’m just glad they didn’t stick me in rune drawing,” Damien replied. “I like it, but there’s no point focusing on it further right now. I’d rather learn other stuff.”

“I’ve heard Magical Theory can be rather difficult,” Nolan said, overhearing their conversation. “My dad mentioned something about it once. I think he was just mad that he didn’t do well in the course, though.”

“I’m in that class as well,” Reena said, looking down at her paper. A grin flittered across her features. “If I do better than father, he’ll have to acknowledge that.”

“Just focus on passing,” Nolan said, smirking. “If he had difficulty, then I’m sure it’s an intense class.”

Reena grunted. Judging by her expression, Nolan’s words had gone in one ear and out the other without stopping for lunch. Damien’s stomach rumbled.

“Lunch?” Sylph suggested.

“Sounds good to me,” Damien said.

The two of them bid farewell to the other students and headed over to the mess hall. Sylph got her dumplings courtesy of Delph while Damien ordered the cheapest meal on the menu – a plate of slightly seasoned ground meat and a small hunk of bread.

They polished off their food without much conversation of note, then headed back towards their room in the mountains. They broke off to train once again – Sylph returned to her bed to meditate while Damien headed into the training room.

Hours slipped by like sand through his fingers as Damien trained the Devour spell. It started to slowly come easier and easier to him, although he could still see Ether leaking off it like crazy.

Henry occasionally butted in with suggestions or pointers, but the eldritch creature was largely silent. The words of It Who Heralds the End of all Light echoed through Damien’s mind, unbidden. He ignored them.

Damien practiced until he had a raging headache and the Ether refused to respond to his call. He staggered into the bathroom holding his head with his hand and took a shower, relaxing under the warm water until opening his eyes didn’t make the world pulsate.

The wound on his chest showed no signs of closing any further. It clearly wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Damien tried to get a better look at it, but he couldn’t understand what the magic was meant to do. It didn’t seem to be activated at the moment.

You don’t know what this does, do you?

“I don’t,” Henry said, and it was clear that it irritated him. “I recognize the rune of course, but there are more circles than I can count that utilize it. Did our friend say anything about it?”

Something about containing the full power of your soul, but he made it sound real ominous.

“I’ll keep an eye on it,” Henry said. “Unfortunately, my thoughts and his are no longer the same. I have no way to know what he’s planning.”

Damien sighed. He turned off the water and stepped out of the shower to dry himself off. He’d have to experiment with whatever the eldritch creature had done to him, but that could come later.

“Hold on,” Henry said as Damien pushed aside the curtain and headed towards his bed. “I think it might be about time for you to start using your magical herbs.”