The Distant Trail of Ciara Badvia - 1-7-4 Negotiation: Alceste and Tyril
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The Saria Magic Academy
Part 7: Professor Raknag’s Make-up Classes
NEGOTIATION: ALCESTE AND TYRIL
“My help isn’t for free, of course.”
Tyril’s mind rapidly thawed. Oh, I see what she’s getting on…
“I expect compensation—which I don’t believe will come at a significant cost for you. What do you think? It’s quite an exceptional offer, if you ask me.”
Alceste paused and brushed her bangs aside, acting all self-important. The way she was effectively leading the conversation a certain way gave Tyril goosebumps, , but she stayed vigilant and tried not to get overwhelmed.
“What compensation do you mean?” Tyril asked.
“Ah, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention that. What I ask is simple: I want you to introduce us to Professor Raknag.”
“Um, introduce you…?” Tyril found that a strange request, and her nervousness turned entirely into suspicion. “But haven’t you all been instructed by Professor Raknag longer than me? He knows about you, so I don’t think you need an introduction from me.”
“I’m not just asking you to arrange a meeting for us. Zeeland, you’ve been receiving supplementary classes from the professor, right?”
“That is very unusual. The professor’s well-known for being strict with his schedule. For a long time now, he’s had a reputation for rigorously following the time and content for classes the academy contracted him for. He’s never offered extra lessons outside of that, so you’re very lucky to be receiving something so awfully rare.”
Alceste placed her hands on her hips and puffed out her chest. It seemed like she was telling Tyril that she ought to be aware of her own good fortune.
“Don’t you think it’s unfair that it’s only you getting valuable extra lessons?” Alceste went on. “Keeping all your luck to yourself isn’t right, don’t you think? That’s why I’m asking—I want us to attend those lessons from the professor alongside you.”
Somehow, Tyril managed to keep her shout of surprise inward, but she wasn’t sure if she successfully stopped it from bleeding onto her face. Her eyebrows twitched slightly, she at least noticed. Did Alceste too?
With Alceste standing so tall and proud, however, it didn’t really matter even if she did, though she must have anticipated Tyril’s discomfort to begin with.
“You don’t mean to refuse, do you? Surely you don’t feel comfortable being the only one getting special treatment? And it isn’t for free, like I said. In return, I promise to protect you from the students who would harm you. You don’t have a reason to refuse, right?”
Tyril was being pressured under Alceste’s high-handedness, Alceste probably knew it. She had gradually changed her tone without Tyril realizing, shifting from “I want you to do this” to “I’ll do this for you.”
Before Tyril knew it, the hallway was deserted. The next class might be starting soon, though the bell hadn’t rung yet. She could hear the hustle and bustle that was synonymous with break time from a distance.
Somehow, she at least managed to keep a tight grip despite her sweaty right hand and her shrinking heart.
“Um, I think… I think I can introduce you,” Tyril said eventually. “But it’s not up to me whether you can take the lessons, so… I can’t make any promises.”
“Of course. That’s enough for me.” Alceste smiled brightly. She approached Tyril and extended her right hand for a handshake. “Well then, we have a deal. It’s nice to work with you, Zeeland.”
Her words had a sickly sweet and dangerous edge to them—it made Tyril almost want to pull her right hand back. Just as she was about to, she timidly peered into Alceste’s upturned eyes.
“Hm? Something wrong?”
“I believe you said before that you can’t become close with a rotten liar like me. Then why are you asking this of me now?”
For just a brief, fleeting moment, Alceste’s expression turned blank. It was quickly replaced by a smile even stickier than a spider’s silk appeared at the corner of her mouth. Her eyes seemed heavy, like drops of honey. (1)
“So you remember my words from back then… You’re more tenacious than you look, Zeeland. To answer that question, yes, I still feel the same way. But there’s a difference here—I’m not making friends with you. I’m making a deal based on our best interests.”
“You still think I’m a big liar then, don’t you?”
“Hahaha, of course you are!” Lute interrupted. “Well, not just think. You actually are a big liar.” She had both hands behind her head and spoke airily, as if she was laughing off a joke someone else made.
Alceste didn’t confirm it herself, but she didn’t deny it either—and that said it all. The rest was likely just pretense.
“So, are you saying that you’re turning this deal down?” Alceste asked.
Tyril considered it in silence.
She thought it might be best to reject her. After all, Professor Raknag might disapprove, and the bullying she was receiving was most likely instigated by Alceste and her group anyway. Whether it continued or not depended entirely on their mood.
So why did she consider reaching out for that hand? To show Alceste that she wouldn’t just back down—that was the closest she could put it.
Besides, if my mother were here, she would do the same.
Tyril had never met her mother so her image of Ciara was little more than her imagination, but all the same, that was the conclusion she arrived at.
“… Please keep your word.”
“Of course. And I trust you won’t lie this time.”
Tyril put all her strength into her hand clasping Alceste’s in lieu of a reply.
She could distinctly hear her heartbeat, almost as if it was echoing throughout the halls of the school, while desperately hiding the trembling in her arm. Alceste chuckled; she must have noticed it anyway.
“That’s that, then.” Alceste waved her hand and left, Lute and Eint close behind, and the bell rang.
Tyril needed to head to her next class, but her legs and body were frozen stiff. Eventually shaking it off, she arrived late and was scolded by the teacher, forced to listen to the stifled laughter of the other students.
(1) Perhaps a figure of speech, which I’ve given up on. I think I get what it means, you know, intuitively, but I can’t phrase it into less awkward, easier to understand words.
Original text: 次の瞬間には、クモの巣の横糸のような、さらにねっとりとした微笑みを口許に浮かべる。目は、蜂蜜の滴のように重ったるかった。