The Distant Trail of Ciara Badvia - 1-6-3 The Prep Student Girl
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The Saria Magic Academy
Part 6: A Disquieting Shadow
THE PREP STUDENT GIRL
“By the by, Misty,” Zell said, his eyes crinkling, “you sure seem to care a lot about Tyril.”
Misty’s eyes sharpened. “And you need to say that out loud because…?”
Tyril couldn’t follow, confused. It was almost like they were engaging in another private conversation.
“Just something I noticed. Your segue was just way too obvious. More importantly, is the rumor about Tyril here something she’s spreading herself?”
This time, it was Tyril who spoke loudly, attracting the attention of the sparsely populated cafeteria in the morning. No matter how many times she was subjected to it, the attention just wasn’t something she could get used to. To hide her embarrassment, she made herself seem smaller, covered her mouth, and looked around nervously while lightly biting her tongue.
“Well, I guess you wouldn’t. With how Misty was acting earlier, it doesn’t look like you’re the kind of person who’d go spread such stupid rumors about yourself. Begs the question, where did all this come from?”
And so Tyril recounted the events of that day somberly. “Someone I don’t know suddenly came up to me in a classroom full of people and asked if I was Ciara Badvia’s daughter. Even now, I still don’t know who he is or how he knew about me.”
“Huh. That’s… weird,” Zell said, tilting his head while looking at Tyril. Beside him, Misty sighed, but not because of him. It seemed like she was once again frustrated by the fishy circumstances.
Tyril herself had grown weary of it all, too. She was sick of not only the spotlight, but also of not knowing the identity of the man. Both things weighed heavily on her, and every time she thought about it, she felt a tightness in her chest that made it difficult to breathe.
Suddenly, a timid shadow popped up behind Zell.
It was a girl. A head shorter than Zell, she had short hair the color of dried grass and with a short, beige cape draped over her shoulders, different from the uniform Tyril was wearing.
Misty was the first to react. “Hmm? Are you a prep student?”
Tyril caught on thanks to Misty’s question. I see… So this kind of uniform is for preparatory students. Due to the fairly spacious academy grounds, this was the first time Tyril encountered a preparatory student.
“Um, are you Tyril Zeeland?” the girl asked. Her fists were shaking slightly, yet her bright blue eyes were sparkling.
Tyril hesitated to nod. Still, there was no reason to withhold her name.
“Yes, that’s me,” she admitted boldly.
“Ah, um! Are you really Ms. Badvia’s daughter?”
Yet another question that made Tyril hesitate further. Like yesterday, this might be another harassment attempt on her, perhaps even more blatant than before. But Tyril’s jaw was set; this time, she was prepared to strike back.
She gave a determined nod. “… It’s true.”
Tyril’s words, however, were drowned out by a piercing scream of joy that left her ears ringing. No one knew whose voice it came from. Misty and Zell both covered their ears and flinched away from it.
In that brief, defenseless moment, the girl pushed Zell aside and charged towards Tyril.
“You’re really, really the legendary Ciara Badvia’s daughter! You inherited the power of a legendary mage! That’s so amazing! For someone like that to be right in front of me… Oh, I’m so happy!”
Her gaze was full of adoration and a hint of awe, like how a pupil would look up to a mentor. No, calling her a mentor was understating things. Given the fervor in the girl’s eyes, she might be thinking that she was in the presence of her idol.
“Um, excuse me,” Misty interrupted. “Can you please quiet d—”
“This is incredible! Ciara Badvia is like my spiritual teacher! My idol! I can’t believe I got this close to her biological daughter! I’m so glad I had the courage to come here!”
Misty’s warning had absolutely no effect. The amount of attention the girl was attracting made Tyril’s outburst seem insignificant in comparison. The entire cafeteria turned into her stage; from fellow students to cafeteria staff, they all stared at her openly.
“Um, please, shake my hand!”
From beside Zell, the girl stretched out her hand and bowed so deeply that her whorl was visible.
Tyril froze and let out a small whimper—she simply didn’t understand what was with the girl. This was different from being in the spotlight, but in truth, it was no less difficult for her. She felt she wasn’t up to par to whatever this girl’s idealized impression of her was.
Slowly shifting her gaze, Tyril sought the other two for help. Neither Misty nor Zell said a word, however. Misty looked exasperated and like all the energy had been drained from her, while Zell was just enjoying himself and stifling a laugh. Rescue, it seemed, was unlikely.
She decided to just speak up. “W-well, you see—”
“I’m Leela Leyden! I’m sorry for the late introduction!” Leela kept bowing, so it looked like she spoke to the floor.
“Ah, yes, Leela. About that handshake…”
“Yes! I know it’s presumptuous, but please! It’ll only take a moment!”
“No, it’s just…” Tyril swallowed hard, suppressing the urge to flee. “I am Ciara Badvia’s daughter, but really, I’m just a regular student like everyone else. In fact, I might be worse off than others, since I can barely use magic at all, so you shouldn’t say such things to me, Leela. Shaking my hand isn’t actually worth all this, I think…”
“That’s not true! Your mother has been my idol since I was a child! Meeting her daughter like this for the first time is a momentous occasion in my life!”
Leela wasn’t deterred. Her enthusiasm was still palpable, her eyes shining with admiration and wonder. Again, Tyril looked past Leela’s head and at Misty, who waved her right hand a few times as if leaving the decision to her. Go on, she mouthed at Tyril.
“Er, all right then. Here you go…” Resigned, she took Leela’s right hand and shook it.
The girl’s grip was firm. Even though all Tyril could see was the top of her head, the strength of the handshake almost made her want to pull back. And despite saying it’d only be for a moment, it felt like Leela held on for a good ten seconds.
“Oh, thank you so much! This means a lot to me! Please guide me in the future!”
Finally letting go, Leela looked up and beamed at Tyril. For a second, it looked like her smile would go even broader, but perhaps she was so proud of the shape of her head because she quickly bowed deeply and showed it off again.
“All right! Excuse me!”
And with that, she abruptly ended the conversation and departed, leaving the cafeteria and a Tyril who felt all her efforts were wasted.
MTL/N: I decided to move the Setting Data Collection chapters. Link below.