Holy (bleep!) (laughs)

Wow. when I called ch3 the "make it or break it" point, I did not think it would be that significant. (laughs)

Now then, read on and enjoy the chapter.

Chapter 4

Adam strolled the hallways like he owned them.

Which apparently was a good way to walk as none of the students or staff batted an eye in his direction.

Well, that wasn't quite true as he heard the fading giggling of the group of girls he just passed.

Now then, Adam thought as he neared the end of the corridor. We should run into each right about… now!

"Yaah!" screamed the woman he just bumped into by turning the corner.

"Whoa!" Adam reached out and held the woman's arm and waist. "Sorry miss. I didn't see you."

In truth he had seen Miss Longueville through the tag Medusa placed on the woman when she had talked with Colbert in front of the school treasury.

The woman's insistent interest in the vault made Adam suspect she was a thief of sorts.

Of course he could be reading too much into it and she really was interested in magical artifacts as she said. That Colbert guy always seemed interested in expanding his knowledge from what Medusa had seen.

And just like with Medusa, Longueville didn't noticed the marks he just left on her body as he stepped back.

She adjusted her glasses to look up at him, saying, "No it's fine."

Adam wouldn't trade his height for anything. He loved it when girls looked up at him.

"I'm a bit curious as to why you would be here," Longueville said. "There are no classes for your year in this floor."

Adam looked around the corridor and leaned in to whisper, "Would you mind keeping a secret, miss…?"

"Longueville," she said.

"And your subject is?" Adam asked.

"Oh, no, no," Longueville said, waving her hands. "I'm not a teacher here. I'm the headmaster's secretary."

"Oh," Adam dropped his face in disappointment. "And here I was getting excited about getting lessons from a beautiful teacher."

Bull's eyes, Adam thought as Longueville's shocked face turned red.

"You, you're certainly bold, young man," Longueville said.

"Who dares wins," Adam said as he motioned for the stairs.

"Indeed," Longueville said, smiling as she walked.

Hey master, Tarasque said. That bald teacher wishes to speak with Louise about the duel.

Make sure she doesn't say anything stupid, Adam said as he walked alongside Longueville on the stairs. Lets not have the locals after our asses this early. We don't have a different base yet, and Medusa's fort is incomplete.

"No offense to the teachers," Adam said to Longueville. "I mean, they know their stuff, but they're not much to look at."

I still can't believe you had her replicate that thing, Tarasque said.

"What about your female classmates?" Longueville asked.

Books, movies, and video games are awesome! Adam said to Tarasque as he looked to the side. Half of my victories are thanks to their inspiration. Besides, you took a few cues from me and the others and researched them for inspiration.

Clearly you were a bad influence, Tarasque said.

It's what I do best, Adam said.

He felt the connection quiet down.

"There are some cute girls that caught my eye," Adam said, looking at Longueville. He pretended to scratch the back of his neck, tracing words of power on the air itself. "But the social norms here are so different from back home that I'm not sure how to approach them."

Longueville giggled. "Yes, Tristain is a bit more strict when it comes to nobles courting one another."

"I bet you have lots of suitors," Adam said. "Do you have to have to blow them away with wind magic?"

"I prefer to sink them up to their necks in mud," Longueville said.

"Ah, earth magic," Adam said, nodding. "No shortage of that anywhere."

"Except the ocean of course," Longueville said.

"True, but I'm sure a Square class like you wouldn't be bothered," Adam smiled.

"I appreciate the confidence, but I… I don't think I got your name," Longueville said, blushing.

"Adam Gates," he said.

"Interesting name," she said.

"Well, I am an interesting man," Adam said.

"Uh huh," Longueville voiced, amused.

"Miss Longueville," Adam said, putting his arm on the wall to block her. "Would it be too much to ask for a private lesson from you?"

Longueville blinked. "That… That would be greatly inappropriate."

"Just one lesson," Adam said, stepping closer. Longueville hid a hand under her cloak as her back touched the wall. "If it doesn't go to your liking, we'll go our separate ways and never speak of it."

"If?" Longueville asked. "You sound certain I won't dislike it."

"I guarantee it that you'll like it," Adam said.

Longueville kept quiet.

"I really shouldn't," she said.

"What if," Adam whispered as he leaned in, "by agreeing, I don't report your desire to rob the vault?"

Longueville narrowed her eyes. Adam felt her magic try to soften the stairs, but a tap of his foot cut the magic off.

"How did you…" Longueville stared.

"The more things change," Adam said, leaning closer, "the more they stay the same."

"What," Adam said before she could talk, "could be so important- I mean, really, how greedy can you be -that you'd risk the wrath of so many nobles by endangering their children?"

Rage filled Longueville's expression. The hand Adam had next to her head sunk into the wall while elongated hands burst from the stones around them and grabbed Adam on his neck, arms and legs.

"How dare you," Longueville growled.

Adam's smile didn't fade. "Does this hurt my chances of a private lesson?"

"Adam Gates, was it?" she asked. Adam noticed she had yet to try and move away from the wall. "Now that I think about it, I don't think I've heard that name on the school records."

"And you would have memorized the entire student body in less than two months?" Adam asked.

"Who are you, really?" Longueville asked.

Adam moved his arm - the stone shackle jiggled then hardened - and took cupped Longueville's chin with his gloved right hand.

"I am a foreign noble from a far off nation," Adam said, as he leaned closer and closer, "that decided to enjoy Halkeginia's culture, women, weather, women, religion, women, society, women, and have I mentioned women yet?"

Despite the proximity, their bodies were not yet touching, and Adam clearly saw the frustration of her ineffective casting mount on Longueville's face.

"How are you doing this?!" Longueville shouted. "I am a Triangle class mage! I shouldn't be thwarted by a child!"

Adam released her chin, and brandished the back of his gloved hand, index extended.

A gold ring glinted into view, etched with designs of mountain peaks and desert dunes.

"I call this ring," Adam said, "Patient Earth. Want to know why?"

"You'll tell me regardless," Longueville said.

"Beauty and brains," Adam said. "Keep it up and I'll end up falling for you."

"Joy," she said. Adam had felt more warmth from the arctic than her reply.

Adam placed his free hand on the wall. And it sank into it, causing him to press up against Longueville. She widened her eyes at the proximity and her body trembled.

Ordinarily, Adam wouldn't act in this manner with a girl, but while he had succeeded in expelling the excess of the aborted Juggernaut Drive, he still spent quite some time in the Dimensional Gap even if he had been asleep through it all.

So he had a lot of lost time to make up for.

"Patient Earth," Adam said, "was once a simple if expensive ring. Nothing important about it other than its gold value."

Adam felt Longueville ineffectively cast more spells as she moved her wand under her cloak.

"Until one day," Adam said. "The ring was blessed with the power of Geb, a god of earth."

Longueville froze in shock.

The stone arms sank back to their source as Adam stepped away from Longueville, removing his hands from the wall.

"This ring bestows on its wearer astounding earth magic," Adam said. "If I were to give it to you, I'd say it'd make you as strong as two Square class mages.

"That's insane!" Longueville said.

"Why do you seek the Staff of Destruction?" Adam asked.

Longueville glared at him. She glanced around, likely hoping to see someone passing by.

But she won't. The spells Adam was using to give them privacy ensured it.

"What do you know of it?" she asked.

"What do you want with it?"

"To sell it to the highest bidder," she said.

Adam nodded. "Give me one private lesson, tonight. And I shall get it for you."

"No," Longueville said immediately, glaring. "I will steal it on my own. I don't need your help."

"But you do need my silence," Adam grinned.

If Longueville had the power to kill with her mind, Adam would be dead a thousand times over.

"You expected me to believe," Longueville said, "that you won't report me if I give you this lesson, whose subject I'm pretty certain is obvious?"

"Are you going to harm the students?" Adam asked.

"I have no intention of harming the students. If all goes well, I shouldn't have to."

"Then yes," Adam said. "I'll keep quiet."

"After curfew," she said, "meet me downstairs where we bumped into each other."

"See you then," Adam said.

She glared at him and walked away up the stairs.

With her back to him, Adam twirled his index finger in a circle and undid his spells. He headed down the stairs.

Tonight couldn't come fast enough.

Louise exhaled as she leaned against the wall, panting.

Stupid fox, she thought as she glared at the floor.

"Did you have fun?" Tarasque's voice amusedly said.

Louise raised her eyes to see the amused Tarasque holding out a small crystal bottle filled with cold water.

She didn't know how she knew it was water, but removing the cork and taking a drink proved her correct.

Louise exhaled, refreshed.

"Where did Inari go?" she demanded.

"No one knows," Tarasque said as he took back the bottle and hid it inside his cape which Louise was certain had no pockets. "Inari can be hard to find when he doesn't want to be found."

Louise fumed. "So I just wait until he shows up again?"

Tarasque made to answer, but shut his mouth with what had to be a painful click as he looked behind her.

Louise turned and saw Prof. Colbert walking down the hall.

"Ah, Miss Valliere," Colbert said. "The student I was looking for."

"For me?" Louise asked in surprise. Why would Prof. Colbert be looking for her? She hadn't blown up anything in a failed attempt at spellcasting.

"Yes," Colbert said. "I wanted to speak to you about your duel against Mr. Gramont."

Louise felt her stomach drop. In the excitement of victory, she had completely forgotten that the duel was against the rules!

"You are not in trouble," Colbert hurriedly said. Louise wondered if her panic was noticeable. "I simply wish to speak about how you used your magic is all. I understand spellcasting has been something of an issue for you."

Something of an issue? Louise angrily thought. More like a stigma that hovered endlessly over her like a bad smell!

Not that she ever smelled bad! Bad hygiene plus her explosive misfires would've had Mother kicking her out of the family a long time ago!

"That is correct Professor," Louise said, getting a handle on her anger as a feeling of calm washed over her.

"I wish to speak to you about how you managed to successfully cast spells this time around in contrast to your other attempts. If you do not mind that is," Colbert explained.

"No, it's fine," Louise said. "Do we talk in your office?"

"The library will do fine," Colbert said. "Follow me please."

Louise walked beside Colbert as he led the way to the library.

Be careful of what you tell him, Summoner, Tarasque told her.

What do you mean? Louise asked.

Do not speak of the Sin powers for one thing, Tarasque said. If a reason must be given, say the contract may have improved or eliminated the cause of your magic problems.

The three of them had entered the library when Louise responded.

That sounds reasonable, Louise said. I can always that I didn't know my magic had improved. Which is true enough since I hadn't yet cast anything since lessons ended yesterday.

"This should do," Colbert said as they reached a table that was a bit away from the more traveled sections.

Louise sat down across her teacher while Tarasque stood at her left side.

"Now, Colbert said, "I'm sure you can understand if I start off by saying that you avoid further duels unless authorized."

"Yes professor," Louise said, ducking her head.

"Now then," Colbert said. "If you could perhaps recount any differences in today's spell castings in comparison to your other attempts?"

Louise tapped her fingers on her lap.

"There really weren't any… particular differences," Louise answered. "Other than the spells actually working this time around, casting the spells felt the same as every other time I cast a spell."

"Interesting," Colbert said. "Have you thought about any possible reasons as to why the sudden change?"

Louise shrugged nobly. "The best reason I can think of is that contracting my familiar somehow fixed it, or at least made it easier to cast spells."

Colbert smiled. "I understand you used three elements in the duel?"

Louise sat straighter if that was possible.

"That is correct," Louise said with pride. "I used Wind, Earth, and Fire."

"A Triangle Class Mage," Colbert said. "Impressive. That makes you the third known Triangle mage among the second years."

"Third?" Louise asked. "I know Zerbst is supposed to be Triangle class, and apparently I'm a Triangle too. But who's the other one?"

"Why its miss Tabitha," Colbert said. "I was certain you knew. What with your tentative relations with miss Zerbst."

"Tabitha is a Triangle mage?!" Louise said. "But she's so quiet and so not Triangle-like at all!"

She heard Tarasque say, "With that dragon for a familiar, it shouldn't be that surprising."

"Shut it," Louise said.

"And to be fair," Tarasque continued, "you don't look very Triangle class yourself yet the duel proved otherwise."

Louise shook her fist at him. "I said, shut it!"

"Mister Familiar," Colbert said. "If I could ask you a few questions."

"Questions for me? Why?" Tarasque asked.

Colbert adjusted his glasses. "Surely you noticed that you are not like most familiars."

"You mean that I'm the only one that speaks? Yes I have noticed," Tarasque said, crossing his arms. "You should really train them better. Do you have any idea how hard it is to have a conversation with that flying eye creature when all it does is stare at you?"

Louise stared at Tarasque, unable to figure out if he was joking or not.

"I see," Colbert said at length. Louise could tell he was also at a loss.

"So, mage of fire and ash," Tarasque said. Louise noticed her teacher lightly flinch a bit, "What curiosities do you have of me?"

"Surely you can understand," Colbert started, "my desire to know of your origins. Especially considering the armor you wore is not of Halkeginian make."

"My armor is nigh impossible for you people to recreate," Tarasque said, "and it is not easily earned."

"So its a measure of your strength then? Perhaps rank?" Colbert asked.

"In a manner of speaking," Tarasque said with narrowed eyes. "Concerned that I'll turn against my summoner?"

Louise felt her heart stop for a moment. Tarasque supposedly held great power as a Dragon King and was loyal to Adam. Adam's loyalty was currently determined by their mutual contract. If either of them, or the others, turned against her, how much of a chance did she have to survive?!

?! / ?! / ?! / ?!

Louise stiffened as she felt four touches at the edge of her mind, curious and concerned.

I'm fine, she told the group. Their presence lingered for a moment more before leaving.

Louise exhaled a bit. That mental link was going to take some getting used to.

"We have never had a human familiar before," Colbert said. "The contract might have unexpected effects of both mage and familiar."

Tarasque sneered, nearly growling. Louise gingerly reached out and patted his arm. She smiled strainly when the glare got directed at her, but Tarasque exhaled through his nose and seemed to calm down.

"You only need to fear me," Tarasque said, "if you are an enemy of my master and my summoner."

Louise didn't miss the phrasing.

"There should be no problem then," Colbert said with a calm smile. "You'll understand that actions will be taken if you present a threat to the students or staff."

"I'd be disappointed otherwise," Tarasque said.

Louise heard Tarasque mental addition, Not that you'd be much of a threat.

Tarasque! Louise shouted.

What? It's the truth, Tarasque replied.

"I'm curious," Tarasque said as Colbert made to rise.

"Yes?" Colbert said, once again sitting.

"A familiar," Tarasque said, "supposedly hints at a mage's ability. It reveals which element they are most attuned with, and how strong that mage is or might be. Correct?"

"Yes, that is correct," Colbert said.

"What do you think my summoner's potential might be, for having summoned such a strange and powerful familiar?"

Colbert tapped his fingers on his staff in rhythm.

"Hard to say really," Colbert said. "We can only wait and see."

"Wait and see," Tarasque casually repeated. For some reason, Louise found it too casual.

Colbert nodded as he rose from his seat.

"Thank you for your time," he said. "Enjoy the rest of the day, and best of luck on future casting."

Louise watched her teacher leave.

"Tarasque, sit down please," Louise asked.

Tarasque sat opposite her on a seat next to Colbert's former seat. He raised an eyebrow in question.

Louise tapped her fingers on the table in rhythm.

"How far do you think I'll go?" she asked. "Do you… Do you guys think I'll amount to anything? I mean, I know I can cast magic now, but is that because of the familiar contract, or because Adam's contract that gave me my Sin powers? Is it even my own magic I'm using or is it the Sins' power I'm using?"

Tarasque took a deep breath then exhaled. He muttered, "This is Adam's or Medusa's specialty."

Louise raised an eyebrow.

"You're better off asking Adam directly," Tarasque said.

"And you think he'll simply tell me?" Louise asked.

Tarasque shrugged. "I don't see why not. And if you need incentive, simply give him a cute smile or show a little leg. Do both and he'll be putty in your hands."

Louise felt her face burned as Tarasque grinned at the end.

"Pervert!" Louise shouted.

Tarasque rolled his eyes, still keeping his grin. "You are such a Tenshi."

"Tenshi?" Louise asked. "What's that?"

Tarasque waved her off. "Just a bunch of self righteous pigeons that are always on and on about virtue and being pious and stuff like that." He put his elbow on the table and leaned his cheek on his palm. "Even after dealing with them on numerous occasions, that first impression of mine hasn't changed from all those years ago."

He frowned. "Though that's probably because they didn't start changing their attitude until after the Khaos Brigade attacked Kuoh."

"You guys were attacked?!" Louise said in a panic.

Tarasque jolted and straighten in his seat.

"That's… Adam is responsible for telling you of our background," Tarasque said.

"Why?" Louise asked, crossing her arms. "Can't you tell me about some of your fights?"

Tarasque gave Louise a long look.

"Adam's orders," Tarasque said.

"That's stupid," Louise complained, crossing her arms.

Tarasque shrugged. "Take it up with him."

Louise got up from her seat. "Oh I will."

As she walked near the exit to the library, her vision went black for a moment.

Louise opened her eyes to see Tarasque holding her off the ground by her cloak.

"What was that?" Louise groggily asked.

"Is everything okay?" the middle aged librarian asked.

"Everything in fine," Tarsque told the librarian. "My friend here simply tripped. She's clumsy sometimes."

"Do be more careful child," the librarian said turn her attention back to the papers on her desk.

Louise felt the ground under her feet again as Tarasque let her down.

"What was that?" Louise asked as she rubbed her eyes.

Tarasque led her out to the hallway. He looked around, narrowing his eyes at some of the students as they headed to their lessons.

My best guess is that it is a side effect of the Sins, Tarasque said in her mind.

Louse couldn't help looking around for eavesdroppers despite the conversation being impossible to spy on.

So using the Sins is going to cause me to pass out randomly?! Louise worriedly asked.

It's not an uncommon occurrence for those that received a sudden increase of power, Tarasque said as they turned the corridor. You wouldn't believe how many times Master knocked himself out when he failed a new trick.

Tarasque grinned, his sharp teeth reminding her he was a dragon in human form. Louise wondered if he was doing it for effect since they looked like normal teeth otherwise.

And he has many tricks practiced and mastered, Tarasque finished.

So the more I get use to the Sins, Louise asked, the less backlash?

Most likely, Tarasque said.

"This is an unusual request," said the voice of Colbert from up ahead.

"But it's a possible request," said Adam's voice, no doubt with a grin, "which is all I care about."

"Young man-" Colbert said.

"The documentation," Adam interrupted, "that would prove my ability to employ Siesta or any other service members will take time to arrive here as I only arrived with my student documents. Also, as I am a foreign and more importantly a male student, it was brought up that it would be best if Siesta is assigned to Louise even though I'll be the one providing payment. It is hoped that for Siesta's sake in transitioning contracts that she be allowed to continue her former duties once she has completed her work for Louise and myself."

Louise turned the corridor and saw professor Colbert and Adam conversing at a slight distance away from the walkway arches.

"And has Miss Siesta and Miss Valliere been informed?" Colbert asked.

"Kind of hard," Adam said as he smugly crossed his arms, "to hire someone without their knowledge. I've made the offer to Siesta and she's requested time to think it over. Louise has no qualms about it as Siesta is one of the better maids she's interacted with in her time here."

Louise blinked as Adam's toothy grin suddenly twinkled as it caught the light.

"I simply wanted to confirm," Adam said, "whether or not this was possible and have the process streamlined if possible by informing an influential teacher about it."

Colbert rubbed the back of his head with his free hand.

"I wouldn't call myself influential," Colbert sheepishly said.

Louise felt her body lock in place behind the arch she was hiding in as Adam's sight shifted in her direction.

I didn't take you for a voyeur Louise, Adam's voice said in her head.

Her face felt heated.

Shut up! she shouted back.

Adam gave her an amused look as he focused on the professor.

"If you'll excuse me professor," Adam said, "I must return to my studies."

"Ah yes of course," Colbert said. "Study hard. And um, I'll speak with the headmaster about transferring contracts."

"My gratitude," Adam said.

Colbert headed off away while Adam walked towards her.

"Did you have fun chasing the fox?" Adam grinned.

Louise glared at her familiar. "Why did you forbid Tarasque from telling me about what you guys' were up to before I summoned you?"

"So that no one tells you anything embarrassing and ruins the admiration you have of me," Adam said with a smirk.

Louise smugly crossed her arms. "Well Tarasque already told you me that your failures when learning your magic were just as spectacular as mine."

"Nonsense," Adam said as he put an arm around Louise and led her away. "My failures were far more spectacular."

Louise blushed heavily as she futilely pushed Adam away. "I thought you didn't want to ruin my admiration for you?"

Adam grinned, the breeze in the courtyards fluttering his hair. "I didn't want anyone else telling the embarrassing stories and ruining it. If I tell the stories, then I can make sure you still admire me."

"But enough talk," he said, flourishing an arm out. Louise felt her body tingle. "I have found a suitable location for you to practice your magic."

"You did?" Louise said as she finally separated from Adam's grip. "Where?"

Adam spread his arms, and Louise finally realized she wasn't in one of the courtyards of the academy.

She was in a clearing surrounded by trees with sparse boulders every which way.

"Where are we?" Louise asked, looking around.

"A few miles east of the academy," Adam said. "We'll have the privacy to practice your magic here."

"So I'll be using my Sin powers here?" Louise grinned as she held out her wand in her hand, the fully colored marks on her wrist visible.

"The Sin powers," Adam said. Louise saw Tarasque sit on one of the boulders, "and your native element."

"You know what my element is?!" Louise shouted, high pitched.

"It's mostly a suspicion, but yes," Adam said.

"What is it, what is it, what is it?" Louise excitedly demanded.

Adam didn't reply for a minute, which had Louise vibrating impatiently.

"Tell me already!" Louise shouted.

Adam exhaled and said, "It's suspected that your element is Void."

Louise froze in place, staring in shock. Her wand fell to the ground from her numb fingers.

"That's… That's… impossible," Louise said. "That's crazy! Void is the element of the Founder! It can't be my element! That's blasphemy!"

Louise heard Tarasque grunt from his seat. He said, "You were right. She did freak out."

"It's understandable really," Adam said as he reached a hand out on top of Louise's head.

Louise batted his hand away and stepped away. "You're wrong. You're lying. You're crazy!"

Adam didn't seemed bothered by the slap which only incensed Louise.

Does anything bother this guy?! Louise thought, her head pounding at the revelation that she had the Founder's sacred power.

It's not true! she kept telling herself. The power of the Void was the Founder's holy element used to establish Halkegenia!

"Louise, listen-" Adam started to say, but Louise didn't listen.

Louise couldn't listen. Despite being far inland, she heard the sound of crashing waves. Heat traveled from her right hand up to the rest of her body. Wind rushed by her ear, but her hair was unbothered. She felt the earth under her feet hum.

As power rushed through her being, her lips curled upwards into a grin.

That's right, she thought. It's not the Founder's element she had; it was Adam's magic! He's the reason she could do magic now! And if she did have an element, Void would never be one of them! She was too much of a failure and of a nobody to be gifted with such sacred power!

"You got a lot of nerve saying I have the Founder's holy element," Louise said. Hidden by her cloak, her right hand balled into a fist as heat grew.

"Listen Louise," Adam began to say, "I know it's hard to believe but-"

That was as far as he got before Louise extended her right arm and fire erupted from her hand like a stream.

Her eyes shifted to the right, where Adam was now braking after his evasion.

Fast! Louise thought. A spell flashed in her mind.

"Stone Hold!" Louise cast. A large pair of hands burst from the earth around Adam and grabbed hold of him, leaving only his head free.

Louise's mind raced with the numerous spells she had studied in her home library and in the academy's.

Not only that, foreign spells she had never seen or known of before also passed through her mind.

"This must be the Sins' doing," Louise muttered.

Crash! Adam broke free from the hold, seemingly through strength alone.

"How is that even possible?" Louise wondered as she raised her flaming right hand along with her left hand that was gathering wind magic in its palm. "Blazing Tornado!"

As the name implied, a horizontal tornado of fire extended from Louise's hands.

Louise saw a look of surprised from Adam before it turned into amusement and lose sight due to her attack.

"Mirror Alice!" Adam's voice shouted from the other side of the inferno.

Louise felt alarm as knowledge of the name struck her. Mirror Alice, a mirror that reflects attacks at double its original power.

Not good! Louise shouted in her mind as she jumped with all her strength, swiftly going higher than most of the five stories tall trees. Almost immediately after she jumped, the sounds of broken glass sounded and the Blazing Tornado surged backwards, setting the area where she was and beyond ablaze.

"That was close," Louise said. She could see the fallen trees and how the fire was slowly spreading around their chosen training area. "We're going to be in so much trouble- nh!"

Louise ducked forward as a swipe from Adam missed where her head was. Upside down, she saw Adam grinning.

"I expected better from you Louise," Adam said. "Yet here you are, taking the defensive instead," his grin took on a sinister tone. "Then again this is just like you. Afraid to fail. Afraid to disappoint!"

"Shut up!" Louise screamed, and a burst of wind lashed out, sending him tumbling across the sky.

Adam corrected himself as lightning danced across his body.

"You need to do better than that to impress me Louise!"

Thunder cracked on a cloudless day as Louise dropped her flight and a bolt of lightning passed above her.

"That was Square Class magic," Louise moaned in annoyance as her hair whipped around as she fell.

She stabilized her flight and glided backwards to land on the ground.

"Square Class magic," she repeated, staring at the colored marks on her wrist.

The purple lion of Pride, the green serpent of Envy, the red dragon of Wrath, the blue grizzly of Sloth, the gold fox of Greed, the orange boar of Gluttony, and the pink goat of Lust.

The Seven Deadly Sins. Assorted abilities bestowed to those that Adam contracts with. And of the who knows how many people he contracted, Louise herself was the only one to obtain all seven!

Louise clenched her fist once more as she turned her sights to Adam who was still high in the sky, his arms crossed, and with a superior smirk.

"Infamous yet noble beasts of Sin," Louise spoke in a low voice, almost like a prayer, "show this lost mage the path to victory." She readied herself for flight. "Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers, grant me the power to overcome my obstacles."

Envy, Louise thought. Grants me the ability of people I admire.

She narrowed her eyes towards Adam. People I admire huh?

With a shout, Louise launched herself into the air at high speed.

"Now then," Louise extended her arm, and a bolt of lightning, a Square Class spell she found in her studies back home, fired from her hand. "Raging Bolt!"

Louise figured it took two seconds for it to reach Adam. But Adam only needed one second to counter.

Almost immediately as she cast her spell, she heard Adam shout, "Mirror Alice!"

Louise felt her face grin as her mind sorted through spells and knowledge she shouldn't have and identified her best course of action.

The sound of breaking glass reverbated in the area, and Louise practically blinked away from the redirected lightning, appearing in front of Adam with her fist cocked back.

"Fast!" Adam said with a grin as Louise struck him in the face. "Yet slow!"

"What the?" Louise muttered as Adam vanished like a mirage and appeared a few feet away from her, rubbing his cheek.

"Dragon's Sin of Wrath," Adam said, looking at her with a relaxed expression. "Version: Indomitable."

"Oh?" Louise said. "Explanation time already? And here I thought you were going to save that for after we exhausted ourselves."

Adam smirked. "Pretty arrogant a claim for a student in their first lesson. But that's probably Idol of Envy at work. That Sin seems to have given you quite the array of skills to use. And thanks to Sovereign of Pride, you aren't feeling as panicked as you should be."

"What's your point?" Louise asked. Her mind raced as possible scenarios ran in her mind.

"I'm just looking forward to how you'll use the other Sins is all," Adam relied as he put his arms up in a stance.

"Wait, you're not going to fight with your hands are you?!" Louise shouted.

"You started it," Adam said before rushing towards her.

"Yah!" Louise yelped as she backhanded Adam's left jab.

"Indomitable," Adam talked as she dodged his punches by a hair, "grants enhanced physical strength proportional to the amount of magic power fueling it. Not only that, it seems that your bones and muscles are made stronger so you don't harm yourself from the strain of bypassing your natural limits. However-" Louise put her arms up vertically to guard against his too quick blow that pushed her away. "-that doesn't count towards defense."

Louise's arms stung from the hit.

"Even with Indomitable," Adam said, "that hit should've bruised you. But it seems one of the Sins involves defense. Heh, a sword and a shield. Now that's not fair at all."

"Don't talk to me about unfair!" Louise screamed as she rushed at Adam, throwing punches and kicks she had never done before.

"Unfair is being born a failure in a prestigious family! My father's a duke in the royal court! My mother's a war hero! My eldest sister Éléonore works at Oriz Magic Academy and despite my older sister Cattleya having been ill for most of her life she's still a better mage than me!"

That last statement was punctuated by a hammer blow that sent Adam downward despite blocking it.

"Get back here!" Louie screamed as she flew after him.

"You're the one that sent me away!" Adam said, grinning.

"Shut up!" Louise threw two punches at Adam that he swiftly caught in his palms. Lightning surged throughout both of them, and she vaguely heard the tearing of fabric. "You're just like the rest of them! Always making fun of me!"

Both of them slammed into the ground, sending dust and debris everywhere. Adam threw her off him and she twisted in the air to land safely on her feet.

"Is that right?" Adam said as he dusted himself off. His cloak and sleeves were shredded and his shirt and pants were ripped in places. "But it's so much fun to make fun of you. Honestly, you make it so easy."

"I said, shut up!" Lightning danced around her body once more, this time with her hands set ablaze. She rushed at him but he caught her hands once more, this time laced together as they pushed each other while surrounded by fire and lightning.

"Why don't you show your good points and maybe I will," Adam said, straining. Louise vaguely heard the sound of grinding stones.

"Good points," Louise growled as she pushed forward, her body flooded with magic power. "What good points?! Nothing I do is good enough for these people! I have the second highest academic scores but no one cares because I can't cast spells right while Tabitha who's the highest can. That stupid Kirche has made it clear I'm not much in the looks department by being short and flat-chested so I'm not much of a trophy wife either which is the only thing I was good for since my family arrange a marriage for me in order to get some use out of a disappointing failure like me!"

The ground under them fractured and it slowly sank into a pit, but neither of them paid much attention to it.

"My only friend was the princess and I haven't seen her in years!" Louise shouted. "After all who want to be friends with someone like me!"

"But all that is meaningless now isn't it?" Adam grinned, flames devouring the remnants of his cloak and shirt. "You can prove them wrong now. You have magic now. You have power. You weren't like them before, and you still aren't. You're special. You're better. Always have been and always will be."

"Don't lie to me!" Louise grimaced as she felt her sweat evaporate of her body. She wasn't sure whether the lack of pain was a good thing or a bad thing.

"Why don't you make me?!"

"I will!" Louise pulled her right arm back, fist cocked.

Ba-bump! Her whole body trembled as a new yet familiar feeling erupted from within her, starting at her chest, then spreading to her body and finally gathering in her fist.

Louise grinned when she saw Adam lose his ever present amused/confident smile.

"I finally wiped that smile of your face!" Louise yelled in triumph as she threw her punch forward, not even caring that Adam would likely catch it again.

Ba-bump! A chill traveled down Louise's spine as Adam moved to intercept her punch. Her mind screamed at her to stop, to not touch his left hand.

But it was too late.

Her fist made contact with his hand and a shock assaulted her senses, making her black out.

("Activating failsafes…")

("…detecting checkpoint…")

("…initiating Purge.")

Louise woke with a start.

"Awake at last," Adam's voice said. He looked down at her, framed by the moons and stars.

Louise blinked. If he was looking down at her like that, that meant…

Louise jolted up from her lying position. Taking stock, she saw that the three of them were around a campfire that had a cooking pot on it. She, Adam, and Tarasque were sitting on earth mounds molded into the shape of sofas.

"How is it night already?" Louise asked, adjusting her sitting position and trying not to think of what she had been using as a pillow a moment ago.

"Well…" Adam stalled as he filled a bowl from the pot then offered it to her.

"Well what?" Louise barked as she took the offered bowl. Her stomach rumbled a bit at the smell of the food. She hoped it wasn't noticeable.

"Should we tell her?" Adam asked Tarasque, who shrugged. "Lots of help you are."

Louise couldn't help giggling.

"Come on tell me already!" Louise shouted. She was grinning widely.

"Well, you know how we traveled here so you could practice your magic?" Adam said.

"Of course I do," Louise said. "And then you said something stupid about my element being Void. Hahaha!" She laughed at the ridiculousness.

Adam and Tarasque didn't share her laughter.

"Why aren't you guys laughing at the obviously bad joke?" Louise asked, a nervous bead of sweat running down her head.

"Because it's not a joke," Adam said.

"But I can't be a Void mage!" Louise shouted, standing up and knocking over her empty bowl. "That's the holy element of Founder Brimir!"

"So you informed us," Tarasque drolled, "for ten straight minutes before you finally fainted. Whether shock or lack of breathing we weren't sure at first."

"I fainted?" Louise asked. That didn't sound right. "Didn't we get into a fight that destroyed the immediate landscape?"

Adam laughed and Tarasque chuckled.

"While I'm sure," Adam said, "we're more than capable of doing so, take a look around."

Louise did. There was no heated ground, no trees knocked over, no fractured earth, no debris or wreckage. No anything.

Everything was perfect.

Was it all a dream? Louise wondered.

"Louise," Adam called. She turned, and Adam patted the space next to him. Louise sat down, and tried not to think of how close they were once again. "What exactly are your plans for the future?"

"My plans?" Louise contemplated, looking to the night sky.

What were her plans? She never really thought about it outside of obtaining a miracle that would let her cast magic. And then the miracle happened. So what now?

She needed to inform her family about her success with the familiar ritual. Inform them that she could cast magic now; that she was no longer an embarrassment to the Valliere name.

But then what? Respected mages usually fell into the categories of royalty, soldiers, or researcher; and all of it involved politics in some shape or form. She wasn't royalty, not by a long shot, even with Princess Henrietta being her best friend. A soldier? Her parents had both in the military under the direct command of the Crown. Surely with her magic and with Adam and the others at her side she'd be a force to be reckoned with, right?

Yeah right, Louise thought. The duel with Guiche was a fluke. I'm not a fighter. Right? Besides, Mother and Father would never agree to that.

She could be a researcher. She spent most of her life surrounded by books anyway as she searched for a spell to cast or perhaps a reason for her constant failures.

Then there was her engagement with Wardes. How did that fit into her plans? Would he support her desire to be in the military? He was a knight himself, so his thoughts should be considered. Or would he tell her that she needed to stay at the estate, taking care of things like a proper wife?

Come on Louise, she scolded herself. It's a simple question! What do you want to do in the future?!

Louise gasped as she was brought out of her thoughts by Adam petting her head.

"Looks like this is something for another day," he said. "You looked like you were going to pop a blood vessel."

"I've never really thought about it all right?" Louise said dejectedly, crossing her arms.

Adam put his arm around her and pulled her closer. "Whatever you decide, we'll support you."

"Even if it's something boring?" Louise meekly asked as her face heated.

"Even if it's boring," Adam said, chuckling. "But don't be surprised if we try to convince you otherwise."

"I thought you might say that," Louise said. "I guess today's lessons were wasted because of me."

"Not entirely," Adam said. "I managed to figure out what abilities your Sins give you."

"Really?!" Louise said, separating from his hug.

"Yes indeed," Adam said. "Pay attention now, because I won't repeat them."

Louise put her fists on her hips. "Who do you think you're talking to?"

"The smartest and cutest girl in the academy?" Somehow, Adam managed to make that statement sound true and completely obvious.

Stop doing that! Louise screamed in her head as she felt her face heat up.

"Do you want the information the fun way or the boring way?" Adam asked.

Louise blinked. She wondered what was the difference? "What's the fun way?"

Adam shifted his body so he was looking at her directly. He put his hands on the sides of her head. "The fun way is me giving you all the information directly instead of talking about it like a boring teacher."

"You're not, a boring teacher," Louise said, feeling relaxed at the soothing feel of his magic.

"Why thank you," Adam said. "Now, just close your eyes, and let the knowledge do its work."

Louise closed her eyes, and felt the world slowly drift away. She felt a warmth on her face, but before she could question it, a loud roar echoed around her.

"Yaahh!" Louise screamed, opening her eyes. She was alone in a black landscape. "Adam?! Tarasque?!"

A growl shook the air.

"Who's there?" Louise brandished her wand.

Something took shape in front of her. It was… a purple lion.

"Afraid child?" the lion spoke with a growling tone. "With my power of Sovereign, things like fear, confusion and panic will be a thing of the past."

"You're, you're the Lion Sin of Pride?!" Louise stated. "You're alive?!"

"I am merely a construct meant to impart the knowledge of my ability," the lion said.

"So I can't get scared if I use your power?" Louise excitedly asked.

"Not only that, you will be resistant if not outright immune to magic that affects your mind."

Louise nodded. "Adam said something to that effect, I remember that much."

"Hee hee hee," a raspy female voice laughed.

"Who's there?" Louise demanded, vaguely pointing her wand in the direction of the laughter.

"Calm yourself child," the raspy female voice said. "Nothing will harm you here."

The area around her and the lion took on white outlines on the black landscape, taking the shape of trees, a lake, and a mansion.

"This is, my home?" Louise asked perplexed.

"Is it?" the voice came from the large green serpent that rose from the ground. "Well, I've seen better so you won't see me envying it any time soon."

"You're a girl?" Louise asked the serpent.

"Impressed?" the female serpent said with her raspy voice. "Good. because my Idol ability grants you the skills and knowledge of individuals you admire. The greater the admiration, the greater the ability's effects."

"Just like my duel with Guiche," Louise said.

Something crashed a small distance behind Louise.

"Yahh!" Louise screamed as a dust swept the area.

A deep, rumbling chuckle came from inside the dust cloud as a silhouette rose from within. And rose, and rose...

"Brimir have mercy," Louise muttered as she craned her head to look up at the massive red dragon that had just landed.

The dragon leaned its head downward to just in front of Louise, and let out an exhale that pushed Louise to the ground.

"Heh, heh," Louise laughed nervously on the ground. "You must be Wrath."

The dragon bared its fangs, each one bigger than Louise herself.

Please don't be hungry, Louise thought.

"This tiny child attained my Indomitable ability?" the Red Dragon Sin of Wrath spoke with a deep voice that shook the ground. "Considering you people don't engage in close quarters, it might be wasted on you."

"What do you know?!" Louise instantly replied as she shot up to her feet. She caught herself and waved her hands in front of her. "I'm sorry! Please don't eat me!"

Wrath exhaled again and fell Louise on her butt. "I'd barely notice you falling down my gullet. That being said, you need to be careful with Indomitable."

"Huh?" Louise voiced as she patted her uniform clean. "Why? I mean, it makes me as strong as a golem right?"

"Could be stronger," Wrath said, "if you feed it more magic. But the downside of my sin is that you'll slowly go berserk the longer you use it, unable to differentiate friend and foe."

Louise felt her blood drain from her face. "That's… that's a big downside."

The area around them shifted, taking the outline of the Vestri court.

"The academy," Louise said as she looked around. Pride was still twice as big as a normal lion. Envy looked even larger now that she coiled herself. Wrath was now four stories high instead of being taller than the central tower.

"So where's the next Sin?" Louise wondered.

"Look down," a grumpy voice spoke.

"Hm?" Louise was sitting on top of a large, resting, blue bear. Uh oh. "I'm sorry! I don't know how I got here!"

"Just don't move too much," the bear yawned. Bears can yawn? Louise thought. "You're very light so it's not that bothersome."

"Oh. Okay," Louise said, stupefied. Was that a compliment or an insult?

"Sloth," Pride the Lion spoke. "Tell the child your ability."

The Blue Grizzly Sin of Sloth waved a lazy paw in air. "My Stalwart power gives you supernatural defense depending on how much magic power you use. Be careful though, because the more magic fed into the defense, the more exhausted you'll be once you cancel it." Sloth let out another yawn at the end. "So tired."

Louise blinked. Something nagged at her from the back of her mind.

"A shield," she mused. She looked at Wrath. "And a sword. … an unfair combination."

Wrath and Pride burst out in laughter at her comment.

"You are indeed correct my child," Pride said.

Envy tilted her head as she spoke, "Having such a combination is indeed unfair."

"There's only one problem with that outlook," Sloth murmured loud enough to be heard.

"We," Wrath said, spreading his wings, "are the Seven Deadly Sins."

A new voice, young sounding compared to the others, said, "We don't care about being fair."

"Who said that?" Louise asked, searching for the voice.

"Look down."

Louise looked down and saw a golden fox with black stripes laying on her lap.

"Where'd you come from?!" Louise shouted.

The fox snickered, not making an indication of moving from her lap.

"I, the Gold Fox of Greed," it said dramatically, "have been here ever since you changed locations."

"I'm pretty sure I would have noticed a shiny fur ball on my lap," Louise deadpanned.

"Aha!" Greed exclaimed, its tail jutting upward. "You disregard my Specter ability, which allows its user to hide their presence from sight or sound as long as they don't speak or interact with objects and people."

"Wait a second! If physical contact exposes you, then how come I didn't notice you until just now?!" Louise complained.

"I can use the power a lot better than you," Greed stated.

"So not fair," Louise slumped.

"Also, don't sleep in dangerous places," Greed said as an afterthought. "The power only works when you're conscious."

"Wait, what?!"

The surroundings shifted once more, now appearing as Alviss dining hall. The long tables were filled with delicious looking and smelling food.

"Is this food real?!" Louise asked in shock.

An orange blur swept her table, clearing it of all the food.

"What the heck?!" Louise tracked the blur as it passed on top of all the tables, swiping the food.

"Looks about right," Greed said from his perch on top of the snoring Sloth.

"I feel it's a bit stereotypical," Pride remarked.

"And Sloth wasn't?" Wrath asked.

"True," Pride conceded.

"Gluttony," Envy called out. "Stop eating long enough to explain yourself."

"Wah!" Louise shouted as the orange blur stopped in front of her. It was the Boar Sin of Gluttony. It was huge! "Hold on, how did you run on top of the table without breaking them?"

"Are you calling me fat?" the boar said, offended. "I've worked hard to lose weight you know?! It's not easy being fit when you're Gluttony you know?!"

Gluttony then turned and started to devour a mountain of food that was on a large plate on the floor.

"Eh…" Louise stared at the boar. Her eyebrow twitched. "Um, I ah, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I was simply… surprised. You're so big and yet so swift. It was incredible."

Gluttony didn't pause in its feasting as he said, "You'll be just as fast with my Hunter ability. You'll be super swift and with the sharp senses necessary to avoid planting your face against a wall. Or a door. Or the floor."

"Alright I get it! Avoid tripping while using your power," Louise said, easily imagining doing so.

"The downside of Hunter," Gluttony continued, "is how hungry you'll feel after you're done using it. And you must deal with it soon after or the hunger pain will greatly hinder you."

"How much of a hindrance?" Louise asked.

"You'll be on the ground demanding to be fed before you resort to eating your own limb," Gluttony said as if talking about the weather.

"That's… a big hindrance," Louise said, looking green and pale at the same time.

Gluttony made what Louise figured was a shrug motion and kept eating.

A loud happy laughter sounded behind Louise.

"Gah! Stop sneaking up on me like that," Louise shouted as she whirled around on her seat.

"I didn't sneak," the pink goat said with a male voice. "You're simply not paying attention." It then went on a giggle fit. "What a wonderful time to be alive! Wonderful weather we're having isn't it?!"

Louise turned her head to the window, where everything was pitch black. No outlines depicting the academy walls that would've been visible in reality.

"Hard to tell in here," Louise remarked.

This only sent the goat, who had to be Lust by elimination, into another giggling fit.

"What's so funny?" Louise asked.

"Who says something needs to be funny to laugh and enjoy life?" Lust said as he kept laughing. "I am the Sin of Lust, of pleasure and joy. I don't need a reason to be happy. I am happiness. heehahaha!"

Louise stared at the happy goat.

"You know," Louise slowly said, "I'm pretty sure my gardener acted like this once after inhaling the incense of a medicinal herb."

"Pppffffffttttt-hahahahahahahahaha!" All of the Sins burst into fits of laughter. Some even rolled on the floor, knocking around tables.

"Okay, now I know I said something funny! What did I say?!" Louise stomped her foot.

Louise growled when the Sins kept laughing.

"Okay, okay," Lust said as he approached her, still snickering. "Before the girl pops a blood vessel," - Louise felt said blood vessels in her forehead throb in response - "Don't worry about the joke. It's a Sin thing."

Louise grunted, dissatisfied.

"Now then," Lust the goat said, "I must admit you've done a wonderful as a novice in using my Harvest ability."

"Novice?" Louise asked. "You mean I'm not using it right? But I've been using it to take magic power from my surroundings. Isn't that how it works?"

"Basically, yes," Lust said. "But who ever said your surroundings was the only source?"

"Wait, what?" Louise said in shock.

The world shifted once more. The dining hall gave way to an even more familiar place.

"I'm in my room?" Louise asked. She was on her bed, in the outlined imitation of her academy bedroom.

"Of course," Adam's voice said. He was sitting on his usual chair. "When I end a date with a cute girl, it usually ends in her room or mine. The fact this room is ours makes it so much simpler."

Louise felt her cheeks heat up again, as they usually did when he flirted with her or complimented her.

I have to stop doing that! Louise screamed at herself.

Adam walked up to her and sat next to her on the bed, ignoring personal space like always.

"Here you go," Adam said, putting an open book on her lap.

"Eh? What?" Louise stuttered. She looked down at the pages. It had the illustration of a familiar rune. "The Gandalfr, the Shield of God. It is said that it had mastery of weapons and could battle an army to protect its master during spell casting."

Louise looked to Adam with a raised eyebrow. "Why are you showing me this?"

Adam removed the glove on his left hand and put the back of his hand next to the rune illustration.

"What in the Founder's name?" Louise said astonished as she traced Adam's runes and compared them to the image.

They were a perfect match!

"What does this mean?" Louise asked, looking at Adam.

"It means you are a Void mage," Adam said, subtly -or it would've been subtle had she not been extremely aware of everything about him- turning his hand over and holding her hand. "The Gandalfr was one of four familiars that Brimir contracted during the war with the elves." He snickered greatly at the end.

"Elves? Really?" he laughed. "I mean, I've never met any elves, but they can't possibly compare to the monsters I've gone against. So either elves are stronger in this region or you mages simply stink at fighting elves."

"Everyone stinks at fighting elves!" Louise said, standing up. At least now without physical contact she might think straight. "Not even Square class mages can beat an elf without casualties."

Adam shrugged. "Either way, training your Void magic is going to take a back seat." He waved the book in the air. "Besides the fact that separating fact from fiction throughout all this religious zeal is nearly impossible, there's not one mention of Void spells in any of the books in the library. Not a name, a description, nothing. So this is either poor record keeping or all practical traces of Void were struck from public knowledge." He slammed the book shut. "Considering the religious nature attributed to the Void and Brimir, I'm betting Romalia, the center of Brimiric Faith is responsible."

"But why would they do that?" Louise asked. "I mean…" Louise scrunched her brow in thought. "Actually, considering my outburst when you told me that Void was my element, maybe they did it so people don't go around claiming Void as their element. I mean, it wouldn't be much of a holy element if everyone can use it right?"

Adam rolled his eyes. "Anyway, if the texts in this library are to be believed, Brimir split his power into four and bestowed them to his three children and his apprentice, who then went on to found the Brimiric Nations of Albion, Tristain, Galia, and Romalia. My guess is that the other Void users that may have appeared through history either didn't awaken their power or they were kept from public knowledge."

"So there might be three other Void mages besides me?" Louise asked.

"Hard to tell," Adam replied, crossing his arms. "There's no guarantee that every generation has a Void mage. Back home those with special powers sometimes never awaken them and when they died, the power transferred to another who also might not awaken it. You might be Tristain's Void mage, but the other mages might be children or elderly people, maybe they're the same as you and stink at magic and were disowned by their family."

Louise wrapped her arms around herself at those words. She had always feared that would've been a possibility for her if her engagement to Wardes hadn't been set. Sometimes she thought not even that was a strong enough safety net and she would be cast out anyway.

Adam got up from the bed and put his arms around her.

Louise wished she could stay safe in his arms forever. She really did.

But she couldn't. She couldn't keep using Adam in this manner.

Louise put her palms on Adam's chest and lightly pushed him away. Adam didn't resist, though he looked confused.

"You can't keep doing this; the flirting," Louise said.

"Because?" He was so nonchalant about it that she was half annoyed at him and half curious if he expected this.

"Because it's improper as a noble," Louise said, crossing her arms imperiously. Adam raised an eyebrow. She half turned to the left. "And also, I'm engaged."

"Do you support the engagement?" Adam asked.

"Of course I do!" she shouted as she whirled on him.

"Do you really?"

"Yes," Louise answered in a low voice. She rubbed her arm as she talked, "I'm aware that it's mainly a political marriage. An attempt by my family to save face from having a failure mage of a daughter, and also an attempt to give me some semblance of a noble life even if it's simply managing the estate."

Louise turned her back to Adam. "I'm… fond of Wardes. He's kind, and… handsome. A notable mage in his own right too since he's Captain of the Griffon Knights."

Louise breathed in deep, then exhaled. She turned and looked at Adam in the eyes.

"I appreciate your flirting, Adam, I do," she said. "It feels nice, being wanted. But it has to stop. I'm engaged, and even without that commitment… you're my Familiar. I know people don't know that right now, but still, it's improper. So… yeah."

Louise averted her gaze, not feeling brave enough to continue eye contact.

"All right then," Adam responded. "But if this is to be the end of me courting you, then I hope you forgive this act of insubordination."

Louise furrowed her brow. "What are you-"

Adam cupped her face with his bare hands and captured her lips in a searing kiss, just a step below the kiss he gave her at the summoning.

Louise felt warm fire bloom in her chest and spread across her body. It was a miracle she was still standing.

Just this once, Louise told herself. They were in her mind after all; away from her strict family, her judgemental peers. No social limitations, no witnesses. It was just her and him. Just this once, she'll do what she wanted.

Louise returned the kiss, one hand ruffling his hair as she placed the other on his shoulder.

And like that they stayed, just the two of them in their own little world.

After a length of time, Louise broke the kiss. She had to since Adam wasn't going to do it. She was the one that wanted to set limits after all.

Adam's face was flushed. Her heart drummed, knowing she was the reason. Adam twitched his cheeks then looked away as he said, "You look beautiful when you smile."

She noticed the compliment was more subdued. Right, she thought. Proper decorum from now on.

Louise schooled her expression and said, "Thank you."

Ugh, Louise felt like smacking herself in the face.

"I think it's best we ended the lessons for tonight," Louise said.

Adam looked at her with a smirk that had no place affecting her as much as it did. The world around them shatter like glass, revealing the real world colors of her room.

"How did we get here so fast?" Louise asked as she recovered from flinching at the sudden change.

"Magic," Adam said with a cheeky grin. Louise glared at him. "It's time for bed, Louise. Your clothes are on the bed. I'll see in the morning."

"Adam," Louise started to say.

Adam smiled at her. "This changes nothing, Louise. Our relationship is as strong now as it was this morning. Pleasant dreams partner."

Louise managed to smile in response just before he exited the room.

"Right then," Louise said. "Void mage huh? Well that's…" she shook her head. "Let's just take things one step at a time. Yeah. that's probably for the best."

Louise changed into her night clothes without issue and laid on the bed, ready for sleep.

"Familiars are a lot more troublesome than what everyone and the books said they might be," Louise grumbled.

Adam met Miss Longueville in their rendezvous point without issue.

Her glare was unnecessary in his opinion.

"Miss Longueville," Adam greeted.

"Let's get this over with," Longueville said, turning around and leading him elsewhere.

She directed him to a lab-like classroom.

Adam hummed. "Interesting choice."

"Alchemy lessons don't start until next week," Longueville explained. "The professor is on assignment for the Crown."

"Impressive," Adam replied.

"Let's get to what you're really interested in," Longueville said, practically spitting venom.

"Let's put a pin on that for tonight," Adam said as he held up a hand.

"What?" she said in confusion.

"I want you to tell me everything you know about Halkgenia's current events. And then I want you to help streamline a contract transfer for one of the maids, dated a week ago."

"Why would you want either of those things?" Longueville asked.

"I'm new remember? I need to know who's who in this continent," Adam said.

Last thing he needed was to insult royalty and get on their bad side. He doubted they were as lenient as the Four Great Satans, the Four Great Seraphs, and the Governor General. Nobility ranked below royalty was only slightly less concerning for him, though he still wanted to tread carefully. No need to make enemies if making friends was possible.

"I must admit I was expecting… something different," Longueville said, smirking.

"Things happened," Adam shrugged, not elaborating further. She didn't need to know anything else.

"I know the feeling," Longueville replied, apparently feeling comfortable in his presence now that a certain topic had been removed from the table. "Very well then. Listen closely."

Adam grinned as Longueville took on a teacher's persona and explained the current state of Halkegenia.

Next, Adam thought, is befriending Kirche, and then Tabitha. Colbert and other prominent teachers will follow after.

Honestly, Adam thought. Trouble really does follow me everywhere. But then again, that's what makes life fun!


(exhales) phew! finally!

Here's ch4. Review your thoughts. Criticism and observations are welcomed!