Dialogue 03

A single pre-installed desk lamp burns in Isaac’s room, but it does little to dispel the darkness, only deepening the shadows. The room still looks almost exactly as it did the day Isaac moved in; the only differences are that the boxes in the corner are now nearly empty, and a small portable air-conditioning unit (purchased that very evening) chugging away in the corner. “Well. Hasn’t this been an interesting day,” Isaac muses, closing a textbook and leaning back in his chair. “Ninja, demons, the Holy Grail, blessed nails… and the curriculum isn’t anything to shake a stick at, either. So many new frontiers…”

Yes. Quite a few ‘interesting’ things have been happening here, Isaac, the shadow answers sardonically.

Isaac frowns, running a hand through his hair absently. “Oh, come now. Don’t be so sour; I’ll agree that the situation in the church… didn’t develop as well as it could have, but it all came out well enough in the end, didn’t it? Even I can have a stroke of luck now and again.”

A stroke of luck? As in, one singular stroke of luck? Isaac, your life for the past few days has been one continuous string of luck. The assassin deciding to leave, the golems being shipped to the wrong room, and virtually everything about that mess in the church—all of that, blind luck. But take care, Isaac; do not come to rely upon Lady Luck’s graces, for they are fleeting.

Isaac growls in exasperation. “Yes, you’re right. Levis est fortuna, blah blah however the rest of that quote goes. But there’s a limit to how much paranoia it’s useful to indulge in, and I do have set objectives here, if you recall.”

Yes, I recall.

“Good,” Isaac says firmly, then pauses, waiting to hear if there are to be any further objections; when there aren’t, he continues in a more conciliatory tone. “For what it’s worth, I’m not too happy about how the mess in the church played out, either. Inkless opening fire on the invaders before I was able to get into position was… unfortunate, although it did serve to shed a bit more light on her character. As did her reaction to that fire demon… hm.” Isaac falls silent for a moment, mulling over what he knows… but it’s not enough to draw any new conclusions, so he shrugs and moves on. “In any case. I may not have covered myself in glory, but my performance suited our purposes well enough. Most of our hole cards are still safely up my sleeves.”

True. However… corrections may be necessary should any of your schoolmates pick up any… unfortunate… ideas regarding your difficulty as a target.

“Perhaps,” Isaac says slowly. “I don’t think anything of that nature will be necessary, though; not yet, at any rate. The atmosphere isn’t suitable for that sort of witch-hunting game here. Morale’s been bruised, but it’s not bloodied.” Isaac considers. “If things had turned out worse—if the church had been outright destroyed, or if that Chinese girl, whatshername—”

Lei Xen’hau, the shadow supplies.

“Lei Xen’hau, thank you—if she’d been more seriously injured or, god forbid, had died, then… maybe. But as it is? I don’t think things have gone that sour. If it should become necessary, though, later on…” Isaac trails off, shrugging.

As always, is all the shadow says in response.

Isaac gives a faint smile. “Just be careful. Remember that you can’t move as boldly here as you have in the past, no matter how satisfying it may be to make an obnoxious prat mess his pants. As you’ve pointed out, people here won’t be as blind as they might be elsewhere.” Isaac allows himself a brief smile as he finishes, amused by the irony of returning his guardian’s advice.

I am aware, the shadow responds drily. It gladdens me to see that you’re taking my advice to heart.

“Of course. I do listen, after all; I just don’t always agree with you.”

Hmph, the shadow grumbles. Very well then. Do you plan to stay your course?

“If by that you mean, do I intend to stay here? Yes. I don’t quit easily.”

Of THAT there is no doubt. I was referring more to your course of action.

“Hm. I might see about joining a club or two in the next few days—”

ISAAC, the shadow says, its mental voice tinged with exasperation.

“—but I suspect that’s not what you’re asking about,” Isaac sighs. “That letter from the old man… it worries me a bit that he thought it was worth it to send a warning. but at this point there isn’t a lot that I can do other than keeping my eyes open. I’m learning more about how things work here—the classes are helping, and that situation at the church was a crash course—but I don’t know enough to be able to afford haste just yet.”

The guardian gives the mental equivalent of a nod. I suppose you are right. Very well, then. I, too, shall remain vigilant.

Isaac nods. “Excellent. So, with that decided… back to the matter at hand. An hour or so should be enough to get some of this homework out of the way… then some campus exploration. I think one of the sports teams is doing something or other in the gymnasium tonight; that should be a good opportunity to establish a bit of presence on campus, see and be seen and all that…”

Dialogue 03

Mana of Mayhem: Magic School Blues Dry