An Angel's Thesis Original

SS) I am an Academy Student

Aiden takes a breath.  He hides behind a tree as he tries to decide what to do.  The voices of his Maoli magic style training classmates drift over to him from their training field.  All of them are taking about the Strongest Under Heaven Magic Battle’s first round of the finals.  A few minutes have already passed since he arrived, but not once has his name been mentioned.

While they were all shocked to see him step onto the field for the opening match, they didn’t hold back in cheering for him during his introduction.  Kalani even went so far as to shout out tips and advice.  Afterwards, when he won, they were the loudest in the amphitheater.  Everything is fine.  They wouldn’t have done that if hated me for not telling them I’m an academy student.  I’m not going to be told to stop coming to practice…  

It’s then someone says, “Aiden’s late today.”

Someone else says, “You think he’s not coming?”

“Maybe he’s too good for us now?”

Aiden takes a breath and steps out from behind the tree.  “I’m here, I’m here…”  He trails off as everyone turns to stare at him.  He stares back at them and after a few moments of silence, with uncertainty lacing his voice, says, “Thanks for the cheers…. Surprise?”

Liam steps forward and punches Aiden in the arm.  “Dude!  You completely left us in the dark!  What gives?”

Kalani walks up to his other side.  The annoyance covering her face is accompanied with a sharp tone.  “Why didn’t you tell us you’re an academy student?”  

Aiden glances to the side.  His tone is meek, but without a trace of hesitation.  “Would you have really accepted me as a fellow disciple back when I joined if you knew?”  While Liam and Kalani are taken aback by the question, Aiden faces the rest of his training mates.  He takes courage from their silence and continues.  “You guys hate the academy students.”

Liam says, “That’s cause they treat us like servants.  Maybe you’re right to have not said anything at first, but you should have told us after a while.”

Kalani jabs Aiden with a finger and says, “Even if not us, at the very least to my dad.  He’s your sifu.  He invited you to train with us.  You’ve been lying to his face this whole time.”

“I’ve known since the beginning.”  Everyone freezes at Sifu’s words.  In the same breath, they all face him and cup their hands as they bow.  Sifu continues, “Aiden hasn’t lied to me.  I’ve known of his situation from the start, an academy student without mana.”

Liam suppresses a sigh as he says, “Then we have no reason to continue being mad at Aiden.”

Kalani, however, looks away as she frowns out of annoyance.  “I want to learn how to do alchemy.”

Sifu says, “Before that, the semi-finals.”

Liam takes cue from Sifu’s words and says, “That’s right, Aiden, you’re facing Eric next.  He’s the top student and the defending champion.”

“I have a few ideas.”

Kalani looks Aiden over as she responds.  Her tone is accusative as she says, “Yeah?  Well how about the basics?  You’ve gotten pretty good at manipulating your internal magic circle, but what about gathering mana.  Not once have you ever filled your mana reserves.”

Aiden shrugs, but desperation laces his voice.  “I’ve been meditating almost an hour every night for practice.  Last night I even did it for 2 hours, 2 hours.  Not once have I slacked off on this.”

Liam says, “This might be more an issue of storage capacity than efficiency.  Even the worst student can fill their mana reserves after practicing for this long.  I mean, don’t you remember today’s match?  Did it look like Aiden was lacking in mana?”

Sifu nods as he says, “Very good.  Liam, Kalani, I leave Aiden’s training in your hands for this week.”

The three cup their hands and bow to him while saying, “Understood, Sifu.”