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"Wow! I've flown griffins before and I know they are very fast, but the ability to reach the capital from the Crossroads Town in just under 2 days is an incredible feat," says Octavo, when at noon we see the capital in the distance.
"Are there people who have managed to tame griffins to that extent?" I ask in surprise.
"Yes, although there are very few tamed. Since, as you can imagine, wild animals that can run away flying are quite difficult to tame," he answers, as we get closer and closer to the capital "The royal family has possession of most of them. And they are the pride of the kingdom since we are the only ones that have been able to tame a race of flying beasts big enough to ride them."
"About that..." I say, thinking about what the inhabitants of the capital will say when they see a dragon approaching their city. "Won't they try to attack us if we fly a dragon near the capital? I think we should go ashore and continue on in Azur's draco form."
"nah. They couldn't do that, even if they wanted to. The kingdom doesn't have many weapons to defend against attacks by air, and the few there are well guarded. Assuming that one of the few sentries on the wall raises the alarm in time, we would still have enough time to enter," he says and laughing adds "and, as Azur can change sizes, when they manage to assemble a squadron to face the threat, we will already be inside."
"But… won't they want us to explain what we're doing riding a dragon into the capital?" I ask worriedly.
"Leave that part to me!" says Octavo, adjusting his glasses with two fingers, as they were sliding down his nose a bit. "I'm a prominent church official, remember?"
"hm, ok," I say unconvinced.
We passed the first wall without anyone raising the alarm, but when we were about to reach the second wall the alarms started to sound.
Without paying attention to it, we continue flying in circles over the center of the capital in search of a place to land.
There are few places with enough space to descend since, past the inner wall, the houses are really close together.
We could have landed in the outer ring and continued from there.
But that would have wasted time, as both my destination and Octavo's are in the inner ring.
We have few options to choose from.
Either one of the three magic academies, or one of the three military ones.
Only those places have enough room to descend.
The military academies are a terrible option for obvious reasons...
That only leaves us with three options.
And, if we are going to land somewhere, it is better that it is somewhere where we have some acquaintance.
So, we choose the magic academy of the Protego district to descend.
Seeing us descend, the students who were pointing at us start to run in panic.
Azur does not have the strength of a real dragon, but they do not know that and only see a force of massive destruction falling on their heads.
Some of the Professors, whom I recognize by their distinctive costumes, begin to prepare to attack us, but I see someone stopping them.
It is one of the teachers…
She has black hair and violet eyes, and she looks strangely familiar.
When we get closer and I get a better look at her face, I recognize her instantly.
It's Sabrina, my old companion.
As we finish descending, the girl asks with a low voice "Xelean?"
"Hi, Sabri," I say with a smile.
"YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE! YOU KNOW HOW WORRIED YOU HAD ME" she says and rushes to hug me "I recognized Azur by his strange colors, but you are so changed..... If it wasn't for Azur, I wouldn't have recognized you."
"I see you knew someone who worked here. That's good. It would have been a hassle to have to dodge their attacks as we descended," I hear Octavo's voice behind me.
After introducing them and talking for a few minutes, Octavo bids us farewell.
Sabrina and I head to Sofia's office for a quiet conversation.
As we enter the headmistress's office, I greet her and get ready to tell them what I have been doing these past few months.
Sofia is especially interested in spiritual fusion and, after giving her a demonstration and explaining how it works, she says, "Interesting... It doesn't use any more fractions of the user's spirit but gives use to the fraction already divided... Really interesting..."
As the headmistress seems to be getting lost in her thoughts, I decide to ask Sabrina about her teaching job.
When I last saw her, Sabrina was only studying at the academy.
But when she returned, seeing that she would no longer have to enter the labyrinth to protect Joseph, she decided to take a job related to her passion. And thus, obtain a source of income without putting her life at risk.
It was for the best.
It was evident that Agustin and Sabrina did not like to fight, and that they only entered the labyrinth to help Joseph.
And of the two, Sabrina had the hardest time dealing with the tension of combat.
I don't ask her about Agustin because, even though I've discovered I'm not cursed, I'm a little resentful of him for the way we last spoke.
After saying goodbye to the two magic teachers, I head toward Ragnar's house to meet Julia and Mia.
Sophia paid me 300 gold coins for the information about the spiritual fusion and offered me the mana storage ring again, as well as the renewal of the agreement we had before.
I accepted the money and the deal, but I refused the ring, as I am not interested in anyone being able to track me.
Besides, there is the fact that I have money to buy my own ring if necessary.
Although now my priority is to buy a new sword.
Arriving at Ragnar's house, I see that there are many people going in and out of it.
They seem to be working on the house.
After talking to one of the people there, I find out that Julia and Mia now live somewhere else.
It takes me a while to get to the place they indicated to me as it is on the outer ring of the capital.
When I arrive, I knock on the door and I am greeted by a woman with dark skin, eyes of the same color, and a robust complexion.
Her name is Raila and, when I ask her about Julia, she responds with a laugh, saying "Yes. Julia Abatemarco is living here. Do you want to speak to her personally, or do you just need to leave her a message?"
After telling her that I want to speak to Julia personally, the brown-skinned woman calls out to her with a shout.
When Julia comes over to see what's going on, we see each other and rush over to greet each other with a hug.
Julia invites me in and, after passing inside the house, we catch up on what we have been doing during this time of not seeing each other.
From her account, I learn that Julia moved in with Raila, a friend from her time at the military academy, as she couldn't stand being in a place that will remind her so much of Ragnar.
She also told me that they were going to start a fencing academy between the two of them in the house where she lived with Ragnar, which explains the construction work I saw when I went to her old house.
When I ask about her daughter, she explains that Mia is staying with a friend her age.
This seems rather strange to me, as it is risky for her to have people see her hair and eye color, but I don't say anything.
At the end of the day, Julia is her mother and she knows better than anyone how to take care of her daughter.
"Wow... And you tell me I'm the one who's changed a lot," I say when she finishes talking.
"Yeah, well. It's all thanks to the financial help of a young lady in the Estella family named Lilian," she says a little self-consciously "She told me that she found out about my story, although she didn't tell me how, and that she couldn't let things end up like this for us. She assured me she'd get Vector out of the way, I mean that she gets him out of town, so we could live in peace. And she's been passing me financial aid every month. Money that we're using mostly to retrofit my old house, so it's ready to accept students."
"Ahh," I say tersely in response.
I am uncomfortable with the fact that, if my assumptions are correct, Lilian found out about her story because of me.
However, I suppose that's why Julia can be more flexible with Mia's safety, so… it's 50/50 I would say "so what's this thing about Julia Abatemarco?" I add, trying to change the subject.
"Ahh," she says, sighs, and laughingly explains to me "It's just a title my classmates had given me at the academy when I beat Marco, a guy two years older than me who had never lost a match since he had entered the academy. People called him Marco the invincible and, because I managed to beat him a few days before he graduated, someone came up with 'Julia Abatemarco'. So, without realizing it, I had become famous at the academy. And, from then on, all my classmates called me by that title."