Basil quickly recovered from his dumbfounded state. He recomposed himself and asked the Guide once again.
"Guide, how do I cultivate Mana Heart?"
[Mana Heart could be cultivated by constantly nurturing one's heart with Mana. An exposure to Mana can cause mutation to one's heart. However, a certain technique is required to cultivate Mana Heart. Merely exposing one's heart to Mana can cause an unwanted mutation where one's life is in the line. By the time the Mana Heart is created, one would be called Awakened...]
A surge of information regarding Mana Heart was engraved into his mind. His eyes were opened once again. He had thought that Mana Heart wasn't something belonged to human race. He was proven wrong yet again.
Mana Heart was an organ to utilize Mana. With Mana Heart, one could perform Magic way better than those without it. The amount of Mana could be utilized by Mana Heart was simply mind-blowing. It was the greatest help a Mage could get.
It didn't mean anyone who got Mana Heart could be proficient with Magic though. The effectivity of Mana utilization and proficiency relied in one's ability.
However, simply by having Mana Heart, one's talent would be comparable to the prodigies who were born with natural Red Core.
"Guide, what's the most suitable Cultivation Technique for me?"
There was a reason on why he asked the most suitable technique instead of the best technique. Even though he got the best technique, it wouldn't matter to him if it wasn't compatible with him.
[Due to the Host's high pain tolerance, Cultivation Technique: Heart Clenching is the most suitable for the Host. As its name suggested, Heart Clenching is a technique that relies heavily upon one's tenacity. Whenever the technique is practiced, the heart will be cleansed by Mana. The process is very painful, giving the Host a feeling of his heart being clenched...]
The knowledge regarding [Heart Clenching] was quickly engraved into his mind. It was as if the Guide was ensuring him that it was indeed the most suitable technique for him. He had thought that he would finally be free from pain. It seemed he was wrong.
However, he wasn't disappointed. No pain no gain. In his last life, he had endured unnecessary pain. However, in this life he had to endure the necessary pain to obtain a better result. Finally, he would gain something from his pain, other than pain tolerance.
Now that he thought about it, the Guide's suggestion was a little fishy. Although he would be given an amazing power in turn for the pain he had to endure, wasn't there a less painful way that produced the same result?
As he was about to ponder it even more, there was someone knocking against his door.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
"Who is it?"
A cold voice came out of him. This was the normal Basil when he wasn't doing soliloquy. The person behind the door seemed taken aback as they took their time to answer. It was understandable. In his younger days, though he wasn't the most sociable guy, he had never treated anyone coldly.
"It's me, Young Master... Am I disturbing you?"
A soft and warm voice was heard from beyond the door. With a rather raspy voice and the alto tone, it could be deduced it belonged to an elderly woman.
A surge of nostalgia and warmth filled his chest. Beyond this door was his sole emotional support through his hard times in this place. She was the first person who put her belief in him. In this place, she was the only person who trusted him, and the only person he could trust.
"I'm sorry, Irene. You may come in."
Contrary to his cold voice earlier, this time his voice was soft. A hint of warmth could be felt from his voice. His piercing eyes softened a little bit, however it didn't change his stoic look much.
"Pardon me for the intrusion."
An elderly lady with an average height and straight posture came inside with a smile. She had many wrinkles on her face, however it could be seen that she had been a beauty in her youth. Her white hair was styled in braided bun, giving her the vibe of a strict and wise old lady.
"What do you need of me, Irene?"
"The dinner is ready, Young Master. You are invited to join the dinner by the lord."
"I wonder what is the occasion of tonight's dinner."
Normally, he had his dinner separately from the rest of his so-called family. Due to his lack of talent in Magic, he was ostracized by his own family. It had already been two years since he joined the academy, however he hadn't carved his Circle yet.
Therefore, whenever someone like him was invited to a dinner, it was either to let the other family members ridiculing him or to let him know of his talented sister's achievement. It was their way to tell him to know his place.
"It is the Young Mistress' acceptance to the Magic Academy."
"I see. I will be there in ten minutes."
He merely nodded his head. Although in the past he had always been fuming inside, he wasn't so right then. How old was he? He had spent half a century in his last life! Fuming just because of a brat's achievement was unsightly of him.
Moreover, he had already experienced the feeling to be on top. Therefore, envying someone's momentary glory was something he would never do.
Irene was a little flabbergasted with Basil's response. Normally, he would clench his fist and accepted the invitation with gritted teeth. Then, she would comfort him so he could calm his self.
However, right then, it was as if she was facing someone of her age. The way he spoke, the way he behaved, they exuded wisdom. Even his gaze, it was so deep that it wasn't suited with his pretty face.
"I will notify the lord then. Young Master... Are you...?"
"Thank you for your concern, Irene. I am fine."
A very calm response. He had a rather high tone for male. So whenever he spoke, he sounded meek. It was also one of the reasons he was being bullied other than his lack of talent in Magic.
However, right then, his composed and soft voice was heard as if a melody. It was pleasant to the ear and sounded stern at the same time. Of course, it was due to his way of speaking from the past.
In his later days, he had a baritone voice. It had been due to his developed hormones upon reaching maturity. However, he hadn't had his moment yet currently. So, his intended voice was heard as if a slightly manly woman's voice.
"How about your body, Young Master?"
She knew that he was bullied without even being told. She knew that he had been beaten this noon, even without him telling her. She was worried about him. However —
"I am fine, Irene. They couldn't even scratch me. You don't have to be concerned."
— he wasn't Basil she knew anymore.
To say that she was stunned would be an understatement. She was shocked through her core — no pun intended. Basil was indeed stubborn and tenacious. However, he had never stood up for himself.
'He looked... Overbearing! And it suits him!'
Already, she was rooting for him. Her eyes lit up, and a smile quickly adorned her face.
"Understood. Then, I will excuse myself."
Just like that, she exited the room. However, Basil felt strange. It had been a long time since he had received that gaze. For almost his entire life, the gaze he received was full of condemnation, envy, greed, or... fear.
He could confidently say he didn't receive any admiration in his last life, aside from that person. Therefore, having it right now, he felt strange. Fortunately, he was Basil. Just as it came it was gone instantly.
Who was he to be trifled with? He was Basil! Greatness filled his way, receiving admiration was normal.
Already, a smirk adorned his face.
I, Shirley Cobham, am someone loved by the heavens. I was born with a natural talent to utilize Mana. I have been able to use Mana since I was twelve. Although it is very sloppy due to the absence of Magic Circle, I am already ahead of my peers.
Today is the day I am accepted at the best Magic Academy in Woster Region. Although my so-called brother was also accepted to the same academy, our status is clearly different. He was accepted to the academy through his intelligence, while I was accepted to the academy through my talent.
Everybody knows that intelligence and vast knowledge about Magic is useless as long as one can't utilize Mana. However, that person is really stubborn. He doesn't really know how to quit. It is understandable though. Someone delusional will feel it is hard to accept reality.
Where am I again? Right, today is my acceptance day. So, tonight we will have a celebration! At tonight's dinner, I will show him who is the best between us.
I am currently sitting on the chair, waiting for the dinner table to be filled. Countless of delicacies filled the table, however it is not my focus. I am waiting for that person. I can't wait to rub it in his face. His expression whenever I speak about my greatness is amusing.
Father and Mother have come, as a good daughter, I have to show them my love. I quickly hug them, and they hug me back. I can see it in their eyes. Their abundant pride towards me.
I can't fail them. Therefore, I have to be the best!
The table is finally set. My parents have settled down in their respective seat. The maids are standing behind us, already finishing their duty. None of us starts eating as we chat with each other. The topic is, of course...
"Huhu. I wonder what his reaction will be when he found out that his sister will finally be his classmate."
"He must be fuming as usual, Husband. This time, I am sure he will just give up and stop coming to the academy."
My parents talk among themselves. I merely respond when they ask me. I don't want to talk much. My parents have already known my achievement. I only need to let that person know.
"Tch. What took him so long? Is he cooping himself up in his room to find a way to improve his talent?"
A ridiculing laugh resounded from my father. My mother also followed suit with a soft laugh. I am about to laugh too, if not for —
"I am sorry for the lateness. I need to make my preparation first."
— someone we waited has come.
All of us are jolted in our seat upon hearing his voice. All of us are shocked, no one noticed his appearance before he spoke. When we look at him properly, we can immediately tell something is off.
He is different than usual, and that is visible to the eyes. Even his way of dressing is different. Right now, he is radiating confidence and regality.
His manner and speech are different. When we heard his reasoning, we nodded our head unconsciously. It wasn't because we accepted his reason. It felt like we had the obligation to do so.
His voice is pleasant to the ear, yet I can't help but feel chill. He has a faint smile on his face, however it seems cold. Even his eyes seem to pierce our souls. As if on cue, we gulped altogether.
"Kuhum... Why don't you take a seat?"
As if to clear the uneasiness he was feeling, father coughed once and urged Basil to sit. He merely nods his head and takes a seat. He is seated in the opposite side of me, so I am face to face with him.
At that moment, he opens his mouth and —
"Congratulations, for your acceptance in the academy, Shirley."
— I am flustered like never before.
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