Did you do it? It was a question I liked. Just say 'yes' or 'no' and be done with it. There wasn't much need or room for elaboration in a question of that nature. But the moment any of those two options was removed, the question itself morphed into a different monster.
"How did someone in the 400th Rank defeat a Rank 2, in the second year nonetheless?" Blaine Sothsfield, Seraphina Exise corporation's Chief of Lackeys doubled in on her question.
Was this it? Was this the time for me to say goodbye to my peaceful, out-of-sights low-ranked school life?
"Hey, we have a class to attend." Right then, Kristina spoke up while facing me. "You wouldn't want to keep Isabella Ahlgrim waiting, right?"
"Yes," I said, grabbing the lifeboat she threw at me. I got up from my seat and pushed the crowd of students away, who seemed reluctant to let me go but had no choice other than to move away after hearing Isabella's name.
We quickly made our way out of the classroom and continued walking downstairs.
"Thanks, you saved me there," I said.
"I don't think this will continue though," Kristina answered as we turned away from the staircase at the lowest floor and moved toward the classrooms in the back instead of the exit or the passageway that led to Isabella's 'dungeon.' "There's no way to hide your strength, you know? I don't think those guys can do anything either."
Those guys, she was talking about Damian and the rest of the Devil's Assembly. She had always been a stoic person, so I never did think about how much the incident had affected her. But she was cooperative. That is to be expected, unlike me who also has a lot of advantages, she had no choice but to join them. It was clear that she knew her life was on the line at every second.
We reached the classroom at the end of the west side of the lowest floor. I reached out and slid open the class door.
Bright white light filled the small interior of the classroom. There were no stalagmites of magic crystals, but normal desks and chairs, no bodies and skeletons of ancient monsters, but normal pin-boards, and no troves of giggling fairies, but a single person that would outshine even their queen.
"You're here," Isabella said. She leaned against the desk on the podium with her hands crossed neatly inside her black jacket.
"Y-yeah..." Kristina said. Though her face was still the same as ever, the slight hint of fear in her voice didn't escape me. Taking mercy on the awkward rabbit, I shrugged my shoulder and stormed into the classroom.
A place to be afraid? One where my life was on the line?
No, if anything, this class was where I could let loose and be myself.
Tossing my bag on the ground, I pulled back the chair on the desk right in front of Isabella and sat on it while resting my feet on the desk itself.
"Bold," Isabella remarked, which I ignored.
"What, do I have to invite you to take a seat now?"
"Sorry," Kristina awkwardly rushed inside and went toward the seat behind me, before Isabella interrupted her with a grunt and gestured at the seat next to me.
When she sat down, Isabella finally straightened her back and looked at us, her red hair gracefully falling to her shoulders. "What a painful bastard—"
"—Hey so, why here? They keeping a camera on you or something?"
"Tsk." Isabella clicked her tongue, displeased by my interruption. "No cameras, that old man is the type to let his enemies surprise him."
I believed she meant Don Brocious when she said old man, he was the one supervising all the teachers then.
"Anyway, you troublesome bastard. What do you think you're doing?"
"Now, please. I am not the troublesome bastard," I lowered my voice and spoke with all the integrity of a politician defending himself for not following through with any of his campaign promises. "My sister is a troublesome bitch."
"Is that so?" Isabella asked, raising her eyebrows. "And what are you going to do about the sister?"
"Well if she likes being beaten up like that, I should truly give her what she wants, right?" She deserved to beat up a bunch if she liked to be beaten up. I was being the dutiful sibling here. I shrugged that topic behind and asked the more pressing question. "So, how did you handle it?"
Isabella sighed and ran her hand through her hair. "I had to tell people that you are my disciple."
My eyes widened at her words. I was pleasantly shocked.
"Hey! You dare frown?!"
It seemed my heart was betraying my mind and my displeasure at being this bitch's disciple wasn't hidden, but I was genuinely, truly, touched. Give me another chance. Vote for me again.
"That's smart of you," I said. "You'd go to such lengths just because I'm in the same troupe?"
"Yeah, the boss asked me to," Isabella shrugged. "Our dance battles are hardcore, you see."
Both of us giggled at the shitty joke. My gaze wandered over to Kristina sitting next to me who seemed extremely surprised with how comfortable I was. Truly? I was surprised by how reserved she was.
"I don't get it..." She said. "Won't you being her disciple attract more attention? The students will be going wild..." Her voice trailed off at the end.
""Who cares about attention from students?"" I and Isabella answered at the same time.
The opinions of the student didn't bother me much. It was the fear of making any risky move and digging myself in a deeper hole that had restrained me these few days. I just had to be careful and play the part of the unwitting disciple from now on. It was all alright as long as they saw 'Isabella's Disciple,' and not 'Ralph Rubinstein' walking around, possessing the system was just that big a liability.
Isabella smiled and turned to Kristina. Her eyes gleamed like a child's would while looking at their favorite toy.
"The attention that is problematic is attention from outside. The ones who are a real threat. And by claiming that he is my disciple, all the attention that should have gone to him turns to me. 'What is the Red Witch planning with a student?' 'How can she transform him this much?' Every move of his will be associated with me."
"Won't the teachers notice...?" Kristina asked a follow-up question.
"That's the best part," I shrugged and answered. "Whatever I do, the teachers will chalk it up to Isabella's tricks. I can show a bit of my strength with ease. This fight itself, it could be called a one-time trick and then I'll be back to normal standing. The boss is a wise person, huh?"
"You'll meet soon," Isabella said. I hated how well we were getting along today! "And, I do have to teach you this one-time trick of yours."
A smile crept over my face. A good trick from the top-most mage in the world was always appreciated.
"Now then," Isabella said. Her heels cackled rhythmically as she walked up to her favorite toy and ran her nails down the side of its face. "Use a skill at me, anything."
Kristina froze up. Her fear was saddening, it put down the image of the person who believed in justice and pushed up a cowardly hypocrite's. She didn't seem to be moving to use a skill, and Isabella seemed to be getting slightly pissed.
I owed her one.
A loud crack sounded in the room as I snapped my fingers and a small spark fluttered toward the witch. She didn't notice it. In the blink of an eye, the spark expanded and engulfed the air around it in flames before... compressing into a spark again.
My eyes narrowed, staring at the spark. Isabella slowly turned around, frowning, "I said a skill."
"Same thing." What had she done? How did that happen? "Denial?"
The spark fluttered again and shot toward me like a bullet. I kicked the desk and pushed my chair off its front legs. The spark missed my face by a narrow margin and my falling chair stopped when it clashed against the desk behind me.
"Skill hacking," she said.