Ace smiled awkwardly while watching over Pria as she tried, and mostly failed, in trying to keep a straight face as she sat besides him. Sometimes fidgeting nervously while looking around, other clinging to him nervously while trying to avoid getting too close to the others, only for her to be once again get excited and look at people once again.
Not that he could really blame her, though. He was pretty much the same as her back when he first came to the hero association’s headquarters, wearing pretty much the same robe and also registering himself as a capable hero. And being a hero enthusiast, seeing so many of them in one place is quite a sight, even if one wasn’t as much of an enthusiast, it was still something that would leave a good amount of people amazed.
And as far as he could tell, Pria wasn’t that far off. Yes, she did start on the wrong foot with the heroes previously, but it’s still seems like she is willing to give them a second chance.
Well, the fact that they were all wearing their disguises which were fairly eye-catching didn’t exactly help much either to the extremely curious girl.
The other heroes and hero wanna-be all replied to the all too excited girl with either a gentle understanding smile or a look of confusion. Seeing how none of them were out to harm her yet and were even being kind, only served to fuel her boldness to the point that Ace had to gently touch kick her shins so that she would calm down for a bit.
It worked well enough for around two minutes. The time it took for someone new to enter the room.
“Number forty eight. Please come in.” The attendant called.
Giving Pria a light pat on her back to signal her to stand up, the duo quickly made their way towards the door while briefly gathering attention from the other presents, but said attention didn’t last more than a brief second, as it was nothing different than what was happening since earlier.
While the duo crossed the door, the attendant passed them the number of the door they had to go through. Taking on the third door to the right in a short corridor, with a large number 5 painted on it.
“Greetings. Mister… Ace of Spades and… Hmm… It seems that the young lady isn’t registered as of yet, is that correct?” A serious sounding voice asked as they entered the room.
A man wearing a deep black suit and in a sleek hairdo greeted them once they came in. He sat behind a desk in an office chair. He motioned for the duo to sit down in front of the desk, which they gladly did.
“Yes. That’s it.” Ace nodded. “Well, you can probably guess what we came here for then.” Ace explained, and the man quickly nodded in agreement before turning towards the computer.
“So, would you like to register her as your sidekick or just helping her set up?”
“…That, would actually be a good idea.” Ace replied after a brief moment of thought.
Registering Pria as his sidekick would make it easier for him to keep her close, and would reduce the chance of her getting called for an emergency summon as well, which leaves her in a bit of a safer spot. On the other hand, it would decrease the reward she would receive, but he really didn’t think that would be much of a bother.
If he stopped to think about it, he would even get some more points towards the next rank-up test if he managed to tutor her well enough, so it’s actually a good thing for him too.
“Yeah. Let’s go with that.” Ace nodded, to which the man started working on typing some things on the computer. Pria turned to him confused, not really understanding what exactly they were doing. “I’ll explain later, okay?”
She nodded readily before leaning back on the chair and looking around the small office in wonder. Seeing her like that, brought a warm smile towards the man for a brief moment, but he soon changed to a business talk.
“Well, in that case, I’m going to need the young lady’s documents.”
“About that…” At that moment, Ace’s voice hesitated for the first moment. Noticing this, the attendant turned to him curious. After taking a deep breath, Ace finally nodded and spoke out loud. “She doesn’t have documents.”
“Well…” Turning towards Pria, he gently rested his hand on the girl’s hood and pulled it down. For a moment the attendant seemed to get wary and lowered his hand to a corner behind the table, a ferocious expression forming into his face which was soon transformed into one of shock and confusion. “As you can see, she’s actually an aberrant. And to top it off, she also seems to suffer from amnesia and had no documents with herself.”
“Oh… I’m sorry to hear that.” The man said while lowering his guard and putting on a sincerely worried expression. “…But, then…” He said hesitatingly while looking towards the computer. “This… Makes this really troublesome, since I can’t really…”
“Yes, I know. But a friend of mine told me that there’s a way around it.” Ace said confidently. “Since she needs some sort of ID for now. She was already mistaken as a monster previously, so I’d rather get this done as soon as possible, so he gave me the idea of registering her with me as the intermediate of trust. This means that she doesn’t needs her own documents, right?”
“Intermediate… of trust?” The man stopped for a moment while a frown formed in his face while he stared at Ace. “Could you… give me a moment?”
As he said that, he stood up and took up a warmace that was hidden behind the table and walked out the door while pulling out his cellphone. For a moment, Ace looked at him worried, but when the man raised his hand in a ‘calm down’ manner, he sighed before leaning back on the chair. Pria turned to him innocently while tilting her head confused and all he could do was shrug back.
He really hoped he wasn’t in some trouble. For a good two minutes the duo stood there doing nothing, managing to pull a yawn from Ace while Pria quickly pulled out a small notebook from the inner pockets of her coat and started doodling on it, training the correct way to draw a talisman as she had learned earlier from Ace.
After a few minutes, the man came back once again with an agasp expression. Sitting down on the chair behind the desk, he spent a few second motionlessly staring at a random spot on the desk, before taking a deep breath and shaking his head.
“I didn’t even know such a system existed.” He muttered before shaking his head. “Sorry. It was the first time someone mentioned that, so I had to check with the upper echelon’s for some help.”
“Wow. Is it that bad?” Ace asked surprised.
“Yes. It’s so bad that the program we use here doesn’t even have that option.” He said while putting some pieces of paper on the table and motioning to the computer screen. “You are literally the second person ever to ask for something like that.”
“Somehow… Sorry about that.” Ace said while feeling a bit more awkward now that he knew he had the man do even more work than needed. But he shook his head as if saying it wasn’t a problem.
“Don’t worry. It’s my job to deal with things like this.” He dismissed his apologies quickly before going through the documents. “Well, seeing how you probably knew more about this than I do, I take it that you know what it entails when you offer to be her intermediate of trust?”
“Yes. I have a friend who dabbles in rights and whatnots, and he already ran me through the the whole thing.” Ace replied.
After a brief nod, the man quickly pulled up one of the documents and started giving a quick explanation on what each one of them covered. Once it was done, Ace and Pria both started signing the documents while using their hero names. As far as Ace could remember, only the person who registered someone and the president of the association had access to one’s true name, as a way to avoid spreading the secret identity of the heroes on the job.
For Pria’s new ‘name’, the two of them went brainstormed for a few minutes before leaving the house earlier that day. This was mostly because Ace would rather avoid using her real name in case something could happen, and Pria simply wanting a more hero-fit name.
That said, Ace had his doubt whether ‘Dew’ was as heroic sounding as Pria made it be.
She had picked up the dictionary he had lent her and she pointed out that name for him. After he asked if she was sure, she nodded and then pointed up to the word ‘calm’ in the dictionary.
It was also at that time that Ace decided to simply buy her a notebook so that she could note down the words instead of simply pointing out at books and such. While it usually was simple enough to find out what she meant most of the time, seeing how she had a rather simple mindset, for more complicated talks such as that, a notebook would sure come in handy.
Surprisingly enough, she became really happy at the present and more often than not, she would use the notebook to train her charm-making rather than talk. While it wasn’t what he intended, he couldn’t really bring himself to be disappointed when the slime spent the entire morning hugging the notebook in her arms.
Having finished signing all the papers as both the intermediate and as the hero herself, the man once again ran over checking the signatures to see if there was anything amiss.
“Good. usually I’d say for you to come in two days to receive your association card, but… Seeing how your situation is kind of unique, I’ll refrain on giving a deadline and will make the one responsible for you give you a call, okay?” He stacked the documents and heaved a long sigh. “That said, I’d recommend you to avoid coming out in public until then. But, if push comes to shove…” He pulled a small piece of paper from his pocket and passed to the duo. “This should work as a temporary pass. It won’t work as an official ID, but should help you somewhat.”
Ace and Pria nodded as the girl reached out to grab the slip of paper. The attendant flinched in worry for a moment, but when he saw that the paper didn’t get wet upon contact, he calmed down a bit.
Pria quickly made a confused expression upon reading the paper, probably due to the needlessly complex words used in legal documents such as this. After pointing out for her to keep it close and safe for now, she nodded before storing it away in a pocket.
“Not a very talkative girl, is she?” The man commented, to which Ace smiled awkwardly and Pria made a complex expression.
“Well, as far as I know, she can’t really talk at all.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t think she’s that bothered about it.” Ace said with a shrug. “Anyway, thanks for everything… Ermm…”
“Dylan. You can call me Dylan.” The man said while extending his hand.
Ace nodded and shook his hand before motioning for Pria to do the same. Dylan made a surprised expression once Pria grabbed his hand, probably surprised by the sensation, but he soon caught himself smiling back to the girl who put on a bright expression..
After bidding their farewells to the attendant once again, Ace had Pria pull up the hood once again and they left the building once again. On their way out, Ace finally scratched his head and looked back to the hero’s association for a moment.
“…That, was a lot easier than what I expected.” He mentioned with a surprised tone. Pria turned to him and tilted her head, but since he was unable to see what her expression was exactly, he could only guess. “Well, soon enough you’ll have your own ID and you’ll be able to walk around without much worry. Isn’t that nice?”
Pria nodded excitedly, earning a brief chuckle from Ace. After briefly checking his watch, the hero took his sidekick and quickly made their way up a building. Refilling the gem in Pria’s chest just to be sure, he once again carried her in his arms before moving away towards his next destination.
Ace landed on the usual alleyway and quickly started his work on removing the disguise as usual. Once he had removed all the armor pieces, he guided Pria towards his house while avoiding the more populated areas and left let her into the house.
Once he was done, he quickly unloaded his armor into the depot and filled his storage ring with the ritual materials that he had prepared previously. Warning Pria that he would be back later after his classes, he took the bus to the college. Once his classes were over, he made his way to another of the campus’ wings, searching for the place he had came by the previous day.
“Ma’am? Are you there?” He knocked on one door after some search. Quickly checking the small piece of paper in his pocket just to be sure, he once again looked back to the door’s number and recalled that he was into the correct wing of the building. Once he was sure he had the correct room, he once again knocked on the door. “Doctor? Are you there?”
“Wuh? Huh…?” A slightly drowsy voice echoed from within the room. “…Who’s there?” It asked after a long and lazy yawn.
“It’s me. Johan Fencer. The student who came here yesterday.”
After the doctor grumbled something in a low tone, there was the sound of stuff being moved around and hesitant footsteps before the door finally opened and out came a woman in her thirties.
While she could easily become a beauty with only a bit of effort, the fact that she wore some unkempt white shirt and jeans, all covered by a slightly crumpled labcoat. With a pair of square glasses and her black hair messily tied up in a bun.
The teacher stared at Johan for a long moment as if trying to remember who he was, but afer a moment she finally widened her eyes in a: ‘that’s right!’ expression and scratched her head embarrassedly.
“Aah… Sorry about that…” She yawned once again while stepping aside. “My other work been…. Kinda hectic recently, so I’m a bit behind in my sleep. Well, more so than usual at least.”
“Yeah… I kind of can tell…” Ace said once he noticed the state of the room. Just yesterday when he came here it was a perfectly fine and organized room, but now it was a complete and utter chaotic mess, with all kinds of documents and books spread around the small office-sized area.
“…Hmmm… I might need to do some cleaning here…” She said awkwardly before shaking her head. “Anyway, if I’m not wrong… You were the one who was going to help me with the ritual items, is that right?” She asked and Johan nodded. “So, did something happen? I mean, you came here yesterday and…”
“Ah, no. The opposite to be honest.” Johan mentioned while activating his storage ring and dropping the material on a nearby table. “I finished everything and came to deliver the items.”
For a moment the teacher simply stared at the table in shock as the small pile of items appeared on top of it. Blinking surprised, she shook her head after a moment to recover and turned to the student.
“You did all that in one day?” She asked.
“Oh, no.” He shook his head. “Some of those I already had done or halfway done, so it wasn’t that bad.”
“I see…” The Doctor said while she picked one of the items in random and exhamined it curiously. “If you had some of these done, does this means that you already have some practice with rituals and such?”
“Yeah. I mean, I did try to learn some magic, but got kind of screwed up with my specialties, so I ended up turning to rituals to help me here and there.” Johan explained while helping her sort the items around.
“I see. It’s rare to see someone who still practices them nowadays. In fact, I’m mostly studying them as a hobby than as a need.”
“I see… So that’s why you asked for these even though your course is Technomagic, huh?” Johan said in an understanding as he looked back at the teacher who gave a slightly awkward smile.
“I think the only academy who still offers doctorates in rituals is in england or spain.” She sighed heavily. “I really would have liked to get one of those, but my job doesn’t really help with getting out of country for a course like that.”
“Because normal magic is much more practical than any ritual will ever be.” Johan said in a slightly annoyed tone, earning an awkward laugh from the teacher.
“Anyway, for you to have so many materials like these… What type of ritual do you specialize in?” The teacher asked curious. “I’d say that it’s the Merlin teaching’s… But some of these are very rarely used in that grimoire… Taoist, maybe?”
“Aahhh… A bit of everything, I guess?” He replied evasively, earning a raised eyebrow. But noticing that Johan didn’t feel like talking much, she finally sighed and nodded.
“Anyway, all of these are excellent as far as I can tell.” She said after looking over everything. “I promised you a reward, didn’t I?” She said while picking a bag in a corner of the room and fishing a checkbook from it. “…Isn’t this the moment you say you were only doing your job and refuses to accept the money?” The Doctor asked curiously when Johan simply awaited in silence.
“That’s the gentlemanly thing to do. I’m not a gentlemen, I’m a student who have to pay for his meals. So money it is.” He replied back as a matter of fact.
The teacher blinked and stared blankly at the student for a moment, before bursting out in a loud and very unlady-like laughter. She quickly signed up the check and passed it to the boy, whose eyes quickly widened in excitement as he pocketed his money for the future lunches.
“Thanks for your patronage.” He said with a suddenly polite tone.
“Well, at least you don’t beat around the bush, do you?” The teacher said amused. “Say, mister Fencer, was it? Any chance you might be interested in assisting me with my research?” She asked, making Ace flinch in surprise for a moment. “I could give you some extra credits for your course.”
“…But I’m cursing engineering. Would that even work?” Johan asked.
“Ah… I’m not sure… I’d have to ask the coordinator for that.” The doctor said after a moment of surprise. “I was sure that you were doing the magic course?”
“No. The course seems to be new, but I’ve been in here since way before.” Johan explained while smiling awkwardly. “And speaking of which, it’s about time for me to go and get going to the next class.” He said awkwardly.
“Is that so?” The teacher sighed. “Well, thanks for the help anyway. Can I count on you if I need anything ritual related?”
“Sure. Just ask Mirian and she should be able to find me with ease.”
“Oh, that girl who’s been helping around the teachers?” She asked.
“Yeah. That one. She’s dating a friend of mine, so she can find me fairly easily.”
“Okay. I’ll keep that in mind. Shouldn’t be hard remembering her name.” She said amusedly.
“Sure?” Johan said confused before shrugging. “Anyway, I’ll get going now.” He said while waving goodbye to her.
Seeing as the young man closed the door behind him before his footsteps darted away down the hallways, the Doctor once again sat down on her chair and let out a loud and long yawn, feeling the tiredness from earlier catching up to her.
For a moment she almost considered simply going back to taking a nap, but the sight of her cellphone’s screen flashing quickly made her change her mind as a small message appeared on it.
She quickly read the letters and made a tired sigh once again before picking her purse and leaving her room. Deciding to see if she could get someone’s help to organize her office later, she passed through the staff room to warn about her leave before heading to the parking lot.
Once the doctor reached her red convertible, she quickly took her way off and towards her other workplace.
Again she recalled the message on the cellphone, and a grimace crossed her face as she thought about the simple words that were sent to her.
‘M. We have clues on Thirty Nine. Come quickly.’
“Well… At least I might get to know how she’s faring.” Marian thought out loud as she made her way towards Grandia’s building.