Chapter 65: New Skills
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In the quiet classroom, Axel faced the woman in black. He wasn't sure why this woman would want him to wait despite him actively avoiding her attention.

Kurai Sensei looked at Axel with a penetrating look. 

"How peculiar," she muttered. 

Axel's expression still didn't change but he couldn't help but ask, "What might Sensei be talking about?" 

"You have a talent for Stealth. Tell me, handsome boy, is it natural or did you learn it?" 

Axel cursed inwardly. How did she know? She hadn't even looked at him throughout the class. He made an expression of confusion as he spoke, "I have a talent for Stealth? Sensei, why would you think that?" 

The woman chuckled. "Well, first of all, your appearance is too eye-catching. And yet, my notice kept slipping off you. But when I rewind my memory, I can clearly recall seeing you standing there." 

'Fuck…' Axel understood what had happened even before the sensei concluded her words. As an experienced thief, stealth is now a second nature to him. The most important thing for a thief is to not get noticed, and he has become overly adept at it. So much so that his stealth can be activated at a subconscious level. Earlier, he just wanted to keep a low profile and he must have subconsciously used his stealth skills. 

But still, to be able to deduce his talent, this woman is capable, otherwise, the other professors would have called him out long ago since this is not the first time he has subconsciously used his stealth. It's a habit from a distant past. 

Kurai Sensei continued, "Since I have the memory of you being there but I didn't notice you, your presence must be quite low. But that's not the only point. The way you walk, the way you move, the way you breathe, everything is done in a way that's perfect for Stealth. This is not a common occurrence. It's the kind of stealth talent every ninja desires. So I was curious how you were able to do this!" Her excitement kept increasing as she spoke. 

'Damn...' Axel didn't know so much could be interpreted from his simple actions. So that's why she asked if he did it on his own or if someone taught him. Axel didn't want anyone to know he was an expert at stealth, so he quickly thought of an explanation. Putting on a moderate look of surprise and realization, he spoke, "Is that what it is? No wonder," he shook his head as his hand touched the scar on his cheek. "Actually, there are a lot of times I've been forced to avoid being noticed. Maybe that's why it's like this," he said with a helpless smile. From what he could remember, the small bit he had unintentionally showed should be around .1 percent of his real skills, so, it should be passed off as just talent. 

Kurai sensei looked at the light and faded scars on his cheek and left eye and imagined his circumstances. Her gaze turned somewhat sympathetic. "If it's like that, then I can understand. But it's a waste of your talent to study along with others. Tell me, would you like me to arrange private lessons for you?" She asked with a smile, expecting him to be overjoyed. 

But Axel could only sigh inwardly. If it was something else, he might have given it some thought. But, Stealth was already his forte. He didn't think this sense could teach him some worth risking exposing his skills over. Of course, he didn't think his lie just was enough to convince her. It's better to avoid her as much as possible.  

 

So, there was no way he was going to accept. But, rejecting would be even more suspicious. "I'll see if I have the time." He pretended to be ignorant of the benefits stealth could give him. 

Kurai Sensei looked a bit disappointed and irritated. How would it feel when you offer a muggle a 10000 galleons but the other party thinks it's a worthless currency, and accepts the money as if he's doing you a favor? That's how she must have felt. Such an ignorant person, would you still want to give him the galleons? 

After coming out of the classroom, Axel sighed. He felt bad for rejecting the offer but accepting it would have brought more harm than good. 

"What was it about this time?" asked Daphne, who was waiting for him again.

Axel shrugged, "She said I was too eye catching and handsome." 

"!!!"

Well, he did tell her the truth. 

Axel ignored her surprised reaction. "It wasn't a big deal. Anyways, I have Herbology now, what do you have?" Before Daphne could ask more on the topic, Axel simply moved on. 

"Ah... I have Charms now." 

"Well, you are already late because of me. You should go now." 

Separating from Daphne, Axel went to the Herbology class. But, he later came to regret going there. 

Since he was late, everyone had arrived and the class had already started. As soon as he reached the Greenhouse, he saw a bunch of potted plants on the table and all of the students were wearing something on their ears. Just as he was wondering why they'd need earmuffs, out of nowhere, a sharp noise pierced his ears, almost bursting his ear drums.

'Fuck! Mandrake!'

Listening to that noise, a thought flashed through his mind before it went a chaotic state. His knees buckled as he fell to the ground. He wasn't too shabby at Herbology since it was Daphne's speciality. So, he knew a bit about Mandrakes. Too bad it wasn't to the point he could have grasped the situation in time. 

He had Misophonia, a disorder that causes excessive irritation and discomfort towards particular sounds. His Misophonia isn't too troublesome, just kicking in when he hears particularly loud and shrill noise, like the sound of a train. And every time, the situation is not too bad. He's able to manage without showing much external reaction. But this time, it was a Mandrake's cry. It's enough to knock out a normal person. And on Axel who has Misophonia, it's like pouring oil into the fire. 

The noise caused him such intense irritation and discomfort that he wanted to destroy everything. His magic flared up, about to destroy everything that was the reason for this noise. And with the last bit of coherent thought, he realized this could be a problem. Thus, he chose to not resist passing out. 

*!!!!*

Just when Axel's magic had erupted, the students and Professor Sprouts suddenly had a dreadful feeling, but before anything could happen though, it stopped. No one knew where it came from.  

...

Axel woke up to a gentle sensation on his hand and forehead. It was strangely soothing, and it calmed down his mind which was still quite chaotic. 

He was able to squash down his destructive impulse and recall what had happened. He had been about to go berserk due to that extreme noise. And in order to stop himself, he had decided to let the sound knock him out. He could have resisted it, of course, but then he might have done something violent instead. 

And now that he was half-awake and half-asleep, this warmth on his forehead was able to bring him back to consciousness. 

Axel felt that this foreign sensation, was not bad. He wondered if he'll be able to feel this more often if he got knocked out by Mandrake's cry again. 

Though as he stirred, and opened his eyes, the sensation was quickly gone, making him wonder if he had been dreaming. 

"You're awake?" 

Axel's eyes quickly scanned his surroundings as he sat with vigilance. He found out that he was in the Hospital wing and the voice just now belonged to Daphne who was sitting on his bed side. 

"How long was I out?" 

Daphne's lips were curved downward, "Only an hour," she said, as if she was displeased that he woke up. 

Axel frowned, "That's a lot," he murmured. He should have woken up sooner. "Though, why are you here?" 

"Susan told me." 

"Oh…" that nosy girl. His Herbology was together with Hufflepuffs. 

"The news must have spread everywhere…" he muttered with some irritation. 

Daphne patted his shoulder, "Don't worry. You aren't the only one. A few students from every class have passed out due to Mandrake's. Unlike you, who didn't have any protection, they passed out because they didn't put their earmuffs right. Neville was one of them." 

Well, that did make him feel better. But still, he decided to do something about this Misophonia soon. It's a glaring weakness. Along with that, he also had to make preparations against the Organization. 

 ...

Later that night, in the training room of his secret Hideout, Axel opened the System interface.

His main focus right now was preparing for the Organization's attack. After all, once he starts drawing attention, there's no telling when they'll come or how they'll come. It's better to prepare first. That's why, that night, he bought some new skills from the System. 

How did he get the SP for that? 

Well, as mentioned, SP can be obtained by stealing. The bigger and more daring the Heist, the more SP he'll get. 

And at the end of last term, he stole a very valuable replica of the Philosopher's Stone, from right under Dumbledore and Voldemort's noses. (correction: only one of them has a nose, but you get the point…) 

After that Heist, the SP he got was amazing and he hadn't spent it yet since he wanted to save it for the time of need. And that turned out to be a great decision since the skills he needs now, after the change of his plans, are much different than the skills he would have bought earlier. 

The first skill,

[Super Sense]: 

Develop the ability to sense a certain amount of area around you. 

This skill is absolutely necessary for his preparations. His enemies won't send out an invitation before attacking, and he doesn't want to be caught off guard. This skill can let him detect danger. Thus, this skill is going to have to be active for most of the time this year. 

The next skill, [Heal]

Arcane Thief is not a class that specializes in Healing, so it wasn't powerful. But a healing skill was absolutely necessary, so it'll do. 

As for the last skill, it took almost all of his sp, but he still bought it. [Void Travel]

As explained, he puts his safety first, and this is like an emergency escape. There is already Apparation, a way of teleportation for wizards, but the thing about Apparation is, it can be easily blocked. It's useless at Hogwarts. In fact, after the rapid development in the last decade, Anti-apparation wards are can be found at just any property. That's why he chose this skill. 

Once he gains some proficiency in these skills, his safety would be increased by a lot, which is something that is very welcome at this time when he is doing something as reckless as being the bait for the enemy. With his paranoid and cautious nature, even his risks are filled with caution.

"Let's see what these skills are about," he murmured as he began his practice.

Just like that, a few days passed. During this time, Axel was very busy with his training. He didn't do anything too eye-catching and only practiced the new skills even during the classes since he didn't have much to do. 

To practice Super Sense, he had to increase his spacial awareness. The beginning stages included meditation exercises and going through obstacles with his eyes closed. 

He'd wander out at night and go through the corridors sensing his surroundings. He tied up logs in his room. After swinging them, he'd have to try to sense and dodge them with his eyes closed. After getting bruised up with that, he'd practice [Heal] on his wounds. 

[Heal] wasn't too difficult, though the same couldn't be said about Void Travel. He hadn't made much progress in that yet.

No progress was on the ninjutsu front as well. Akiko still hadn't healed yet. She stayed in one of the private wards in the infirmary and visits were not allowed for her so he couldn't visit her and start learning from her. Axel found it a bit overprotective, but considering that she was such a genius, it might not be too implausible to give her such treatment. 

His days passed like this, relatively uneventful. Though, one day, something happened. Just like the past few days, he was wandering around the corridors at night to train his Super Sense. His Stealth skills were active so that no one could find him as he walked through with his eyes closed, only relying on his other senses. 

During these days, since his eyes were closed during the training, his other senses had amplified. And maybe that's why, but as he walked, he suddenly detected a faint whiff of fragrance in the air. 

'This faint scent of Lavender...' he was quite familiar with it. His eyes opened, though he didn't find anyone. 

His eyes opened, and of course, he didn't find anyone. But, when he activated his Arcane Eyes, he found the silhouette of a girl passing by the corridor ahead.

Martina

'What is she up to?' 

Martina had always been quite the mystery girl. This wasn't the first time he was encountering her at night. Their very first encounter was on his first night at Hogwarts, when he was wandering around, searching for a place to spend the night. 

Though this time, the situation is quite different.

He wasn't talking about his difference, but Martina's. She had on some strange goggles on her eyes, the cloak she was wearing radiated dense magic, and in her hand, was a staff that glowed so bright that it made his Arcane Eyes cringe. 

'What the heck is up with this girl?' 

There was no way he wasn't curious. So, he began following her to see where she'd go. Axel followed her for a while, and when she reached her destination, he certainly received a big surprise. 

'Bathroom?!' He thought with absurdity as he saw her entering the second floor out of order bathroom like she was going to war. 

Who the fuck goes to bathroom dressed like that?!

....

***Bonus Scene

—Hogwarts Infirmary, Private ward —

Usually, this place is reserved for patients who need critical treatment or isolation, but this time, a girl whose condition was not so critical was staying here. 

Akiko Matsushima looked outside the window, lost in thought. 

She had always thought that she was the best genius out there. In the same generation, she hadn't met anyone who could even come close to her level. 

Putting her absurd talent aside, she had received the best education and instructions from the very beginning and she had always put her all into training, unlike other geniuses who slack off. Her target was at a level others wouldn't even dream of achieving. And yet, despite all this, there was one person who could actually beat her while holding back. And the most absurd thing... he was around 5 years younger than her!

Someone who could reach this level at the age of 12... this is simply out of the boundaries of comprehension. And, such a genius was completely unrecognised here. 

She recalled the seal of secrecy she had signed with him. It's not the school's fault. This genius is intentionally hiding himself among these ordinary students, hiding his abilities. Every morning, she'd see him go to the Forbidden Forest for serious training. And then he'd come back and hold back in the Physical training classes. 

'He probably holds back like this in all of his other classes as well, or just his Stealth would have been enough to put the whole Mahoutokoro to shame,' she thought, recalling the time he stopped holding back. Despite her training, she couldn't sense anything. 

She couldn't help but wonder how he was so strong, what drove him to obtain such power, and what was his ultimate target... that even after having this strength, he doesn't show his real abilities. 

As she was lost in her thoughts, there was a knock on her door. A few seconds later, Yamasaki Hiroshi, the Principal of Mahoutokoro himself entered the room. 

"How are you?" 

Even after such a distinguished person personally paid her a visit, Akiko simply ignored him as she continued her training. 

Yamasaki Hiroshi, who had been out of Hogwarts for the past few days, seriously checked Akiko's condition. After he was done, he smiled faintly, "What drove you to such lengths, that you used 'that' technique, my granddaughter."

Even if Akiko wasn't under the secrecy contract, she'd still not tell him. "I was just training." 

In face of his rebellious grand daughter, Yamasaki simply sighed helplessly. Her mother was also rebellious when she was young, marrying that Matsushima clan brat. Yamasaki patted his granddaughter's head. 

"Aki, don't push yourself so hard. Revenge is not the way." 

Akiko rolled her eyes in a 'here-we-go-again' look. 

"Save it, grandfather. I'm an adult now. I will do whatever I want and if you can't help me... then I'll find others who can." 

....

A.N.: Martina is going to the bathroom dressed like that, why? And Akiko is going to need help with her revenge.

Next Chapter: The Chamber of Secrets

Next Next Chapter tilte: Snake Hunting 

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