Glenn was scribbling on a paper, doing his math and marvelling at how miraculous the Ashen Mask was.
"This is definitely a brilliant tool! With 23 points of mental strength I have now, when engaged in a fight, I could conjure up at best six points of mental strength instantly. And after the completion of the re-permutation of my Element Matrix, that will be an attack of 45-55 points of offense power. So, that falls to the range between 20 and 60 points of offense power, and when the Ashen Mask was involved, the assaulted person will only consume one tenth of the initial magical force to fend. That means I could easily smash any adversaries who had similar levels of offense power with me, without depleting the magical force of mine." Glenn was so excited.
Over the days, Glenn had gotten his style. He dressed in a silky and loose robe, with the Ashen Mask covering his face and a Permanent Ring tumbling from his right ear.
Attire and accessories were only a part contributing to his style, though. Over the course of the ten-day tutorial sessions, he cut himself off from the outside world except for being with his Alchemy teacher and immersed himself in the learning of the skills. He had been a total hermit these days. He streamed in and out of the Alchemy Room, sponged the basics of Sorcery-Tool-making and had finished off the trainings with a fat notebook he had taken over the classes.
Under the Mask was now a pair of sagacious and lustrous eyes which revealed a bit of mystery. Those who were acquainted with him would have had difficulty in recognizing him at the first few glances.
Glenn had engaged himself in experiments in which he took the notes as a guide and tried to make some lower-grade Sorcery Tools, which ended up as failures.
"Look at the hash of them." Glenn, in his fury, smacked his testing table in the dorm, which was littered with all sorts of materials for manufacturing Magical Tools.
But his reason recovered soon. The Alchemy teacher's reprimand rang in Glenn's ears.
"The making process needs to be comprehensive and thorough, and every step of it has to be deliberately done, otherwise even the easiest tools will not be created."
"Alchemy is not a tricky trade to pull off. One doesn't have to be a genius to be a connoisseur of it. What is mandatory for success is trial and errors." Glenn consoled himself.
Besides the Alchemy, Glenn also dabbled in Pharmacodynamics from another sorcerer in the Black Tower. As a result, Glenn's sorcery knowledge had been growing so rampantly that it overpassed plenty of his classmates who weren't granted the privilege of one-on-one tutorial guidance from sorcerers because of their general lack of magical stones.
The First-year Sorcery Test was around the corner, and the novices and students alike were under enormous pressure to forge ahead. Tension and anxiety seemed to permeate in the air of the whole school.
At the time, the Death Sail League called a gathering of its members, unexpectedly. The League had been in a fast expansion in both magnitude and influence but was still overridden by the Five Leagues.
The congregation had been called for the purpose of building a sense of mutual assistance among its members when they would be taking the Sorcery Test and thus magnifying the pass rate. That, in the minds of the Death Sail League's Twelve Superiors, would win their league fame for being a powerhouse of would-be sorcerers and thus projecting the League into one of the Five Leagues by edging one out and off.
Glenn's former group members - Lafite, Chris and Nina Hank and Robinson - were all present.
There was no shortage of pursuers for Lafite over the years and all those who had received rejections had never been able to brace themselves to make a complaint against Lafite. There were those who had borne grudges against her, which resulted from Lafite's pride and social bluntness and who had threatened or even launched willful attacks against her. They had invariably undergone the same destiny of suspiciously going missing. Lafite's dreadful greatness in dealing with the vicious attacks had helped her rank among the "Ten Grand Masters".
The "Ten Grand Masters" were a widely-accepted ranking regarding the command of sorceries. But Lafite, and the six Twelve Superiors of the Death Sail League who were on the list as well, sniffed at the ranking for the simple reason that the two geniuses, Kyrie and Bionna, were not included in it.
"Will he come?" Lafite mumbled as she dipped a goblet of wine in her hand. She then stared at the wine in a trance, reflecting on the tantalizing romance she and Glenn had on the ship.
"I haven't heard from him for almost a year. Do you have any idea how he is doing, Chris?" Lafite's thought was suddenly disrupted by Nina's enquiry to his brother, who was sitting next to her.
Nina' half face was covered with a mask to hide her injured eye and the scar. Although her brother had entreated several sorcerers to treat her eye but they all declined to do so since Chris had nothing to offer to them as remuneration. Nina had lost the best chance to have her eye cured. It was safe to say that her wounded eye was going to accompany her for eternity.
"Me neither. But I have a feeling he is faring well. Don't worry about him." Chris stroke Nina's hair to reassure her.
Armida, another follower of Lafite's, who had clearly caught the word "he", asked Lafite tentatively: "Who is this 'he'?"
Armida's passion for Lafite had never dissipated altogether, despite the fact that Lafite had never returned her love nor had the tartness in her words and her barely-controlled temper towards him ever overpowered him.
"There isn't and has never been a 'him'. Besides, why would it bother you if there was one?" Lafite seemed so impervious to Armida's care or to his jealousy for the "he", and Armida knew that "he" was Glenn.
"Don't worry. Glenn is gonna be here by the minute. I've got the gathering's roster and he is on it."
Lafite overheard the words and drained her glass at one go.
At the moment, Lafite sensed that someone entered the main entrance of the gathering hall and she squinted. The fervor of almost everyone present in the house was ignited by the new arrival, and a student was so surprised that he let go of the glass in his hand subconsciously, which then shattered into pieces, producing a crisp and shrill noise.
"Sam?! Why is he here?" A student bursted.
Sam had never shown himself since he set foot on the Sorcerer Continent. For one thing, he was the one who sold Sorcerer Dior by calling up the sea monsters that caused heavy casualties among the students and who landed the students in the Black Isotta School of Sorcerers, rather than in the Lilith School of Sorcerers, and that was why was he detested. For another, he now studied under Sorcerer Nilma and had a complicated relation with Nilma that no one could unravel, and for that reason, he was held in awe and veneration. So, everyone was curious why he would be in a gathering of the Black Sail League.
1: The power of a particular attack was determined by an individual's mental strength, and usually only a quarter of his or her aggregate mental strength could be exploited within a short span of time if the user was a student.