‘These two again.’
Damian inwardly clicked his tongue. These bastards never got tired of this childish attempt of theirs. He wanted to tell them to go and read a book with this tenacity of theirs.
Damian’s eyes were frosty. These were the same guys that would fall to the floor and lick his feet if they knew who he was. They were not worthy to be his opponent.
Damian never forgot the experience he had a few years ago at the garden party. He learnt that not all older adults were wise. He knew that the boys harassing him at the academy were still kids that were yet to mature, and he had also learnt that age didn’t matter when it came to the cowardice of human beings, which differed on the outside and inside.
He wanted to see what kind of attitude people would have towards him when he was a person with only skills and no background. Which is why he was purposefully attending the Academy quietly.
It was impossible to climb to the seat of ‘Shyta’ that he wanted, with just skills by itself. It was a thoroughly political position. He wasn’t arrogant enough to claim that he would do it with his power alone. He would gladly use the name of the Duke of Taran when he needed it. He planned on revealing his identity as the Duke’s successor during the next year.
No one knew Damian at the Academy. There were a few from the north among the enrolled students and they had made a rough guess, but when Damian told them to shut their mouth, they were careful with what they said. Thanks to that, the secret was well kept.
Krrar. Feeling threatened instinctively, Asha exposed her teeth and her fur hardened. However, despite Asha being grown up, she was small enough to be sent flying from a kick. As expected, the boys harassing Damian laughed jeeringly at the fox.
Damian called her name and restrained her. Asha looked up at Damian with her meek eyes then she turned back to Damian. Damian was worried that Asha might get caught up in this and get hurt. Asha was the first gift his mother gave to him and she was also Damian’s first friend. If something happened to Asha, he felt like he might not be able to keep to his father’s request.
[Don’t kill people at the Academy.]
The reason why Damian didn’t respond to their constant annoyance was because it was too troublesome. To get angry, you have to be made angry. Like usual, Damian chose the option of silently picking up his book from the floor. Tak. The book he tried to pick up was kicked and fell to the floor again. Damian’s line of sight followed the owner of the foot, looking up to find a brown-haired boy, smiling spitefully.
“You can’t hear me? I said look where you’re going. If you make a mistake, you have to apologize, don’t you think?”
They were going a little overboard today. Damian’s red eyes flatly stared at the boy with brown hair. Why were they consuming such unnecessary emotions? Upon receiving Damian’s tranquil gaze, the boy who had picked a fight, flew into a rage. The boy felt like Damian was mocking him as pathetic with his eyes and also discovered his brother’s sneer.
“Stop it.” (Chris)
Chris interrupted, unable to watch any longer.
“Why are you attacking someone who’s just passing by?” (Chris)
“Who are you to butt in?” (?)
The brown-haired boy was unhappy, but he was also cautious since he knew who Chris was. Although Ixium was relatively free from nationality and status, one’s background could never be ignored. Chris was the son of a well-known Marquis, in the same country where the brown-haired boy was from.
“I’m saying don’t make an issue out of nothing. The path is obviously wide enough, but you left that alone and intentionally bumped into him. You’re obviously picking a fight.” (Chris)
“What do you mean intentionally!”
While the two of them were quarrelling, Damian diligently picked up his fallen book and stood up. He took out his handkerchief from his coat and wiped off the footprints on his book. He was slightly annoyed this time. This was a special book.
It was a present from his mother; she always sent him a book when she found a good one. When the guy—Damian didn’t even know any of their names—stepped on his book, Damian had unknowingly clenched his fists. If Chris hadn’t intervened, he might have thrown a punch.
The other guy harassing Damian, the ash-haired one, stretched his hand towards Damian. Rather than an attack, it was a move to grab Damian’s shoulder and make Damian face him.
Damian was already a little alert, so he reflexively drew back and fiercely whipped out his hand. With that, the book he was holding was aimed at the boy’s neck. Every motion he made took place almost simultaneously. It was a swordplay move that he had done subconsciously. Damian slowly lowered his hand, but the ash-haired boy had already turned red with anger.
The fuming ash-haired boy caught something white at the corner of his eyes. He picked up the handkerchief that had fallen onto the floor. Honestly, the boy wasn’t that ill-natured. But the moment he was about to ask, ‘Is this yours?’, he met Damian’s agitated eyes.
Damian’s apathetic gaze which always seemed like he was looking at lifeless organisms, had changed at some point. However, upon seeing Damian’s restless for the first time, the ash-haired boy’s intent twisted. His nastiness flared.
“Give that back.” (Damian)
That was the handkerchief his mother had personally embroidered and sent to him. When Damian stretched out his hand and took a step forward, the ash-haired boy took the same step backwards. As Damian reached for it, he waved his hand around so that Damian couldn’t get the handkerchief. After that repeated itself a few times, Damian’s eyes got redder.
The ash-haired boy felt a glow of pleasure. He dropped the handkerchief onto the floor in a flaunting manner. Then he fixed Damian a contented grin and slowly trampled the handkerchief under his feet. Damian’s eyes burst into a blaze.
The ash-haired was suddenly struck by a strong force and tumbled down. He was momentarily dazed as he collapsed to the floor. He touched the area of his lips that was tingling with pain and blood rubbed off on his hand.
“You want to fight, huh?!”
As soon as he realized he was hit, he clenched his fist and dashed at Damian. The brown-haired boy who wanted to go there to help him was blocked by Chris. Chris slightly avoided the fist coming at him angrily and also swung his fist. But the punch he threw really connected. The two of them began to go at it for real.
“Argh! This damn fox!”
Even Asha joined in to assist against her master’s enemy. She used her small body to nimbly dodge and bit their arms or feet. The fact that she didn’t attack Chris showed her intelligence in distinguishing between enemy and friend.
A rarely seen spectacle in Ixium was happening right now. The students gathered around in a circle to witness the scene of four boys and one animal exchanging blows.
Only after an order supervisor ran over and forcefully pulled them apart, did the dogfight stop.
* * *
Unless the issue was related to a student’s grade or that of conduct i.e. insulting one’s teacher, the primary disciplinary right was within the Conference’s scope of authority. The conference exercised their disciplinary power over the four students that had broken order in the school.
They were suspended from classes for 3 days, had to write a reflection, and also reflect on their attitudes. But Damian alone was punished to be suspended for 7 days. The reason was that Damian threw the first punch and also didn’t manage his pet properly, causing it to attack people. Of course, the real reason was something else. With the exception of Damian, the other boys had remarkable identities. In particular, a friend of the two boys who had picked a fight was a member of conference.
“This is ridiculous.”
Chris was angry. The treatment was extremely unfair. Those guys were the ones who came looking for trouble first. It was low and childish.
“Don’t just stand there, make a complaint! Submit a formal objection to the Appeals committee!”
If you have any complaints against your first disciplinary hearing, you could file for a trial with the Appeals committee. Damian’s face was deadpan as he watched Chris, who was rampaging around after coming all the way to his dorm room, then he briefly replied.
His fingers were gently combing through Asha’s fur in a leisurely manner as she lay on his knees.
“Fine?! What’s fine! Those kids started it first.”
Chris learnt Damian’s age for the first time due to this incident. He thought Damian was at least as old as himself, but he was surprised to find out that Damian was only 12 years old. Those boys were fifteen and sixteen years old, respectively. They had attacked and harassed a boy who was much younger than them.
“Do you know how big a one week suspension is at Ixium? It’s a huge red line on your school record!”
Damian was calm. His father never told him that he shouldn’t cause any trouble. He wouldn’t say anything for passable incidents as long as it wasn’t expulsion. Which is why Damian didn’t care if his school record had a red line or not. That much red line wasn’t even going to be a block on his road to becoming Shita. (1)
“And you?” (Damian)
“You were drawn into this because of me. Isn’t that a problem on your own school record?”
“This degree of suspension is okay. It’s basically a warning for a first-timer.”
Damian looked at Chris who had now become a ‘knowledgeable person’ in his books and wondered why the guy had even interfered in his business. They had not had any exchanges before this and were basically strangers.
“Thank you.” (Damian)
Chris, who was fuming, looked at Damian in surprise. It was obvious from his expression that he didn’t expect to hear that.
“For trying to help me, back then. Although you didn’t need to.”
Chris’s mouth was in a wide grin at the first sentence, but the second sentence ticked him off. He glared at Damian for a bit but soon tossed his annoyance aside.
“Are you really not going to appeal?”
“If you’re suspended, the notice will go home, though.”
He didn’t know that.