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The Best B-Rank Mage

2

Chapter 2

8

As Gus steadied himself with Shane's assistance, memories from his past flooded his mind. For some reason, he felt like everything happening now was a deja vu. Perhaps it was due to the familiar neighborhood he was currently in. It has been a while since he visited this place.

 

“You alright? Do you need to go to the hospital?” Shane asked.

 

“No, I’m…alright.”

 

“What happened to you?”

 

“I don’t know. I was fighting this A-rank mage and then the next thing I know, I’m here.”

 

Shane laughed. “Wild dream, bro. If you were fighting a mage in that level, you’re probably dead by now.”

 

“Am I?” Am I…dead?”

 

Shane punched him on the shoulder. “Does that feel like you’re dead?”

 

Gus shook his head no.

 

He couldn't help but notice Shane's body frame was not for a full-grown adult. He even sported a long hair, cascading in unruly waves, He remembered it being cool back in the day but now, it was a bit out of style. Shane indeed looked like he was stuck in time. That couldn’t be right.

 

"Shane, how old are you?" Gus asked.

 

"You don't know? We're the same age, weirdo," Shane replied with a playful grin.

 

Gus pressed on. "What is it then?"

 

"17. There, happy? Just tell me if we need to go to the hospital. I’m totally cool with it. It’s a valid excuse to skip Professor Nero’s class."

 

“Professor Nero?” Gus furrowed his brow, the mention of Professor Nero ringing a bell in his mind, albeit faintly.

 

“Yeah, our Foundational Magic prof. Rumor says he’s a bit of an eccentric one,”

 

Gus massaged his temple. He remembered having Professor Nero as his Foundational Magic prof during the second semester of his junior year at the Magic Academy.

 

The facts stacked upon each other and all Gus needed to do was piece it all together. Shane claimed he was 17. Both of them were wearing Magic Academy’s uniform. Professor Nero. His butchered time spell. The plasma ball. Did I…did I die and go back in time?

 

“Wait, Shane, I think I need to breathe.”

 

“Okay, let’s go to that oak tree and rest for a while. We still have time before the next class.”

 

Gus leaned his weight against the oak tree. He thought about the predicament he was in, a realization was brewing. If he was 17 again and back as a Magic Academy student, he’ll be able to work harder this time and perhaps he wouldn’t be stuck as a B-rank mage anymore. A smile formed on his lips. This was his chance to prove himself and realize his full potential!

 

***

 

Gus and Shane stepped through the familiar gates of their old school, and as the bustling grounds came into view, Gus's gaze swept across the sea of students. Faces that he recognized, individuals who would one day become renowned mages and influential figures in the magical realm dotted the landscape. Some of them will be A-rank mages, and one of them, he was sure would become an S-rank one. A sense of awe washed over him as he realized the untapped potential and brilliance that lay hidden within this gathering of future prodigies.

 

Gus couldn't help but feel a surge of pride swell within him as he admired the majestic facade of the academy, its ornate architecture standing as a testament to the rich history and legacy it held. The grandeur of the towering spires and intricate carvings whispered tales of ancient knowledge and the pursuit of greatness. It was a place where dreams were forged and destinies shaped.

 

If someone would stumble upon their school, they would think that they were transported to a different dimension. This place was far from the mundane boxy architecture of California.

 

At that moment, Gus's heart brimmed with determination. This second chance, this unanticipated opportunity to rewrite his story, ignited a fire within him. He vowed to himself that he would make the most of this rare opportunity, pushing himself further than ever before.

 

He would study harder, practice diligently, and strive to surpass his previous limits. For Gus knew that this time, he had the chance to prove that he was worthy, that he could be the mage he had always aspired to become.

 

Gus took a deep breath, ready to embark on this journey of redemption and self-discovery, guided by the wisdom of his past and fueled by the hope of a brighter future.

 

As Gus strolled through the vibrant campus, catching glimpses of his own reflection in the passing windows, he couldn't help but do a double-take. His eyes widened in both surprise and concern as he took in his current appearance. "Whoa, hold on a minute!" he exclaimed, coming to a sudden halt.

 

Peering into a nearby mirror, Gus scrutinized his reflection. "Okay, okay," he muttered to himself, his brow furrowing. "Thinner than a twig, huh? Looks like someone swapped my biceps for toothpicks!" He flexed his arms frowning upon how deflated it looked. "And here I thought I was finally getting somewhere as a beefed-up magic guard. Guess it's back to the drawing board." he sighed.

 

Shane gave him a weird look, wondering why Gus was checking out himself.

 

“But hey," Gus continued, examining his thick brown hair, running a hand through the strands, "at least the hair's looking good. Thick, luscious locks for days!" He admired his smooth, fair skin and tapped his cheek lightly. "And not a wrinkle in sight. Guess I should enjoy this youthful appearance while it lasts."

 

Taking a deep breath, Gus straightened his posture, determination shining in his eyes. "Alright," he declared, addressing his own reflection, "This is just a minor setback to my grand plan. I'll get my muscular body back and become a better mage!” he promised himself.

 

“Bro, what the fuck are you doing? Come on we’re going to be late! Professor Nero is not the teacher mess with.”

 

Gus nodded and followed his friend.

 

***

 

Gus stood among the assembled students, his attention fixated on the stern figure of Professor Nero. Gus almost forgot what he looked like, wild tousled hair, unkempt mustache, and eyes that looked bored all the time. As an adult, he now understood why Professor Nero looked like that.

 

As the professor's voice boomed across the school's oval, commanding everyone's attention, a hushed silence fell upon the students, their anticipation mingled with a hint of apprehension.

 

"Everyone! I'm Professor Nero," he declared, his voice carrying an air of authority. "I will be your professor for Foundational Magic in this semester. I trust that each and every one of you will do your best in this subject, knowing how important it is. If you fail this subject, you might as well drop out of this school."

 

A murmur rippled through the class, students exchanging nervous glances. Gus could sense the weight of the professor's words, the gravity of the challenge that lay ahead. Professor Nero continued, addressing a topic that had already circulated among the students.

 

"You might have heard this from others, but I'd like to always start the semester with an aptitude test, that’s why I gathered you all here in school grounds," Professor Nero explained, his gaze sweeping across the room.

 

With a swift motion, Professor Nero distributed wands to each student. Gus noticed that it was only a Type-0, a low-rank wand. It was just a practice wand. Like mages, wands are ranked depending on the quality of craftsmanship they have and the amount of mana they could channel as a conduit. Though Gus knew, skilled mages don’t even use wands.

 

"For this simple test, I want everyone to try performing a wind spell," Professor Nero announced, his voice commanding attention. Gus tightened his grip on the wand, his mind recalling the incantation and the intricate movements necessary to conjure the desired effect. As a B-rank mage, this was a spell he had practiced countless times before, and he knew the mechanics well.

 

"Galeoniti!" Professor Nero chanted, his voice resonating through the air. A surge of power enveloped the students as a swirl of cold breeze whirled around them, eliciting cheers from some of the impressed students Professor Nero continued, his tone unwaveringly strict.

 

"It's a recreational spell and not necessarily used by magic guards," Professor Nero clarified. "However, it is a fundamental spell, and I expect everyone to be able to perform it. If not, I will personally request your expulsion from this class."

 

Shane leaned closer to Gus, his voice a mere whisper amidst the charged atmosphere. "Shit, is he for real?" he muttered, a hint of exasperation in his tone. Gus nodded, remembering that Prof Nero did have some students expelled in the past. Gus knew the road ahead wouldn't be an easy one under Professor Nero's uncompromising gaze.

 

“Step out when I call out your name.” Prof Nero instructed. “Let’s start with Misha Abeney,”

 

A petite student went to the center and chanted the spell. She closed his eyes waiting for the breeze to come. A few seconds later, a light breeze whirled around her, making her sigh in relief.

 

“Next! Lester Bawler…” The professor proceeded to call out the students one by one to demonstrate their wind spells.

 

With each successful performance, the tension in the air intensified. Gus watched as his classmates stepped forward, their wands flickering with focused intent. So far, no one had faltered, each student passing the test with varying degrees of finesse.

 

Then, it came to the final name on the list. "Augustus Warren," Professor Nero called out, his voice carrying a weight that seemed to amplify within Gus's ears. The room fell silent as all eyes turned toward him. Gus tightened his grip on the wand.

 

Galeoniti!” As he began the incantation, his skinny arms swung forward, channeling the energy to conjure the wind spell. In an instant, a powerful wind blew through the class. However, to his surprise, his wand recoiled from his forceful casting causing his aim to falter. The gust of wind went wild making the whole class stir. Gus shook his wand to cancel the spell.

 

A mix of surprise and disappointment flashed across Professor Nero's face, his discerning gaze noticing the raw power behind Gus's spell, albeit with a lack of control and precision. Nero's brow furrowed for a moment, silently reflecting on Gus's display. While the professor dismissed the imperfect execution due to the poor aim, a lingering curiosity sparked within him, an inkling that there might be more to Gus than met the eye. He took note of his observation of the young mage.

 

Gus on the other hand joined his classmates. His head down low, jaws clenched.

 

***

 

After the class ended, Shane quickly caught up with Gus, a look of excitement on his face. "Bro! That was lit what you did there," he exclaimed.

 

Gus couldn't help but bite his lips. "I don't know about that, Shane. I wasn't able to control that power like I normally can,"

 

Shane raised an eyebrow, surprised by Gus's self-criticism. "Since when did you become such a perfectionist, dude? Your wind spell was so good. Seriously, it blew everyone away. Literally!"

 

Gus smiled and shook his head. He glanced at his friend, knowing that he was trying to cheer him up. "Still not good enoug though," he muttered under his breath.

 

"By the way, do you want to do some fire spell practice with me at the gym?" Shane shifted the topic.

 

Gus hesitated for a moment, contemplating the invitation. He knew that fire spells were his forte, his source of excitement and satisfaction in the past. But something within him urged for change, for growth beyond his comfort zone.

 

"Sorry, pass," Gus declined, surprising Shane.

 

Shane's expression reflected his confusion. "Come on, Gus, we used to have a blast with fire spells during our free time. You see what I did there? Huh?” he nudged his friend. “Remember when we used to practice changing the colors of our flames?”

 

“Yeah, the best one is green.”

 

“You wish. Blue is the best.”

 

“Blue is so boring though. Just look at a stove and you’ll see that.”

 

Shane laughed. “You’re a hater. How about black? We haven’t done that before. Imagine black flames. That is so awesome!”

 

Gus thought about it. It indeed sounded cool.

 

“And you know I heard, the school has a new target range. We could watch things blow up and burn! Burn baby burn!”

 

Gus imagined it, casting firework spells freely. But Gus knew that if he continued to focus solely on fire spells, he would never truly evolve as a mage.

 

“I think I outgrown that already,”

 

“Outgrown? Bro, we did it yesterday! What are you talking about?”

 

Gus laughed and waved his hand. “Maybe next time…”
“Okay how about this? Let’s just go to the arcade. The other section is raving about this new game. I bet we could defeat their high scores. Let's go and show them who's boss!" He extended a hand for a high five but Gus didn't reciprocate.

 

Gus remained firm in his decision, his voice resolute. "No, Shane. I need to go to the gym. I need to train."

 

Shane was taken aback, the sudden change in Gus's demeanor catching him off guard. He had never heard Gus mention a desire to train in a gym before. Confusion clouded Shane's features as he tried to make sense of the situation.

 

"What? Where did that come from?" Shane asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.

 

Gus's gaze shifted, a faint tinge of shame coloring his features. At that moment, he decided to confide in Shane, sharing his inner struggle. "I... I need to control my magic better, Shane. What happened with Professor Nero, that could have been prevented if I have a stronger body that could handle a strong spell.”

 

"Oh, okay…," Shane said, accepting Gus's decision. A part of him still couldn’t believe how Gus was acting. “I respect that bro,”

 

Gus nodded farewell at Shane, gratitude glimmering in his eyes. Gus had determined the best time to improve himself was now. If he wanted to be the best and change the course of his life, now was the time for action.

 

“I’ll get there soon!” Gus declared.

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