\'If I tell the Awakened the truth, that the Master is just a human, he\'ll have no reason to spare me.
I have to bluff my way out.\' The creature thought.
The Master is a powerful undead.
They are watching us even now! Kill me and they\'ll send their legions to avenge my death.
\'Solus\' Lith asked.
\'Nothing.\' She replied after a deep scan with all her senses.
She even analyzed the single elements composing the world energy which gave her a terrible headache.
\'No trace of spells or even of other anomalies in the area.
I can faintly see someone incoming though.
I don\'t know the others, but one of them is Tepper.\'
Lith pierced the Worm with the Gatekeeper, infusing it with enough darkness magic to turn it into dust.
\'Why did you kill it It could have still talked.\' Solus asked.
\'It would have just fed us more lies and we have no more time.\'
The Sergeant and several mages arrived a minute later and circled around the area looking at the traces of the battle.
Before joining them, Lith Warped Solus under his bed, just to be safe.
He had no idea if they would believe him, nor what tools the army had at its disposal to search him for dimensional items.
TThey were all surprised to see Lith in one piece and when he reported that the crystal was gone, their worries turned into suspicion.
Lith told them most of the truth.
He only belittled his wounds, which Solus had replicated on the uniform before leaving, and explained how after the shaman\'s defeat, the Worm had swallowed the crystal before disappearing underground.
Do you have any proof of your claim An elder mage asked him with a stone cold voice.
I only have some pieces of its armor.
They fell off when I tried to stop it with a barrage of spells. Lith handed them a black stone that left the mages stunned.
This is Darwen! One of them exclaimed.
It\'s a rare material capable of nullifying most detection arrays and resisting magic.
How much did you get
Just the pieces inside my ring. The rest was inside the pocket dimension, but judging by their smiling faces it was still quite a catch.
\'Damn! I should have kept more.\' Lith inwardly cursed at himself.
\'The silver lining is that they will be more inclined to believe me now.\'
The elder mage took Lith\'s ring as he stared in his eyes.
Young man, this ring is an army property.
We can break your imprint and check its content anytime.
Do you realize that both the crystal and the Darwen you found both belong to the Kingdom That you, as a Cadet, are one of its servants
If we find you in possession of stolen items, you\'ll be charged with treason.
Are you sure you don\'t want to amend your story
Lith nodded again.
This is preposterous! Tepper objected.
He risked his life for the unit.
Without him, my Cadets and I would be dead.
The Kingdom would have lost good soldiers, the crystal, and the Darwen.
How can you doubt his word
The elder mage sighed.
\'Commander Berion is right.
The Sergeant is a naïve idiot and the Cadet can\'t be trusted.\'
Greed blinds even the best of us.
Especially mages. The elder replied before casting a diagnostic spell that examined the content of Lith\'s body, with particular care for his mouth, stomach, and anus.
They were the places where thieves hid their dimensional items.
After that, he chanted a short spell that broke Lith\'s connection to the dimensional ring and examined its contents.
As the Cadet had stated, there were only the corpses of a few orcs and some Darwen pieces.
Sergeant Tepper looked at the elder with a fiery gaze as the mage\'s cheeks turned red from embarrassment.
I\'m sorry for doubting your word, Cadet Lith, but I had to be sure.
No harm, no foul. Lith replied.
\'My paranoia is once again the MVP.\' He inwardly sighed in relief.
After they returned to the camp, Lith was stripped and searched again with the diagnostic spell.
Only after interrogating him for an hour did they finally let him go.
He never contradicted himself, because most of what he said was true.
When he returned to the barracks, the other cadets gave him the salute before extending their hands.
\'Why do people only like me after I kill a lot of bad guys\' Lith thought.
\'Because that\'s the only moment when it seems like you care for them .\' Solus sarcastically replied after reuniting with him.
How did you kill so many orcs
How did you defeat the shaman
Were just some of the questions he had to reply to over and over for the rest of the day as the story of his battle become public knowledge.
From the next day, his life returned to normal.
Until the end of the boot camp, he managed to outperform his peers without engendering any more ill will.
Him being a mage was a secret, so of course soon everyone knew about it.
It made him pretty popular, especially with the female cadets, but not for the reason he hoped for.
The greatest deterrent against relationships in a boot camp were pregnancy and the lack of contraceptive potions.
A mage was an obvious solution to the problem.
At the end of every day, Lith would find a line of people asking for his help.
\'I feel like a condom machine.
All the work and none of the fun.\' He thought multiple times, yet he never refused.
It was a small price to pay to be universally appreciated.
Before the graduation ceremony, every cadet received two days of leave to reconnect with their families before being moved according to their career choices, if they had one, of course.
When Lith returned home, his family welcomed him like he was returning from war rather than from the camp.
They weren\'t used to not seeing him for such a long period of time.
Lith spent every day and evening with his relatives, especially with his little brother and his niece.
In those six months they had grown a lot and he felt he had lost so much.
During the nights, he worked on a mana crystal and studied the Darwen he had recently acquired.
\'Just like darkness energy is entropy and destruction, light magic is life and order.
It allows giving shape even to what is shapeless.\' Lith thought while creating small holograms of the monsters he had faced while telling fairy tales to the kids.
Sometimes he even projected for his family some of the animated movies he still remembered from Earth.
He made up the voices with air magic.
The holograms were all in shades of grey, the background was non-existent yet every time they had guests, they would always ask for an encore.