Chapter 15: Process of adapting (5)
A strange sensation welled up in Di Lin’s heart. Because, he was sure that he had not known Ning Ya before entering the Holy Institution. He had never even crossed paths with Langzan. However, Ning Ya’s words made him have the misconception that there was several decades of friendship between them.
“Let’s first think of a way out,” He subconsciously evaded Ning Ya’s gaze.
Ning Ya suddenly grabbed his hand.
Stunned, Di Lin turned to look at him.
Ning Ya hesitated for a while. “Why rescue me? The consequences of being found stealing the exam scripts are very severe. Even if we’re nobility, the possibility of being expelled still exists.”
Di Lin replied calmly. “The bet made with Hydin has no actual relation to all of you. Even if there is a punishment, it should be me and Suo Suo undertaking it.”
He didn’t know what expression Ning Ya had upon hearing this statement because his head was always lowered. He only felt the hand grabbing onto his slowly relaxing its grip.
Di Lin captured his hand again, explaining before Ning Ya could become fearful. “Space magic has been set up in the library. Let’s walk together, don’t stray from each other.”
“En,” Ning Ya gripped his hand.
The two people slowly neared the center of the library.
Di Lin already possessed considerable understanding of the location where flames shot out from. Hence, he wasn’t too nervous this time. On the contrary, he was eagerly anticipating it. If he hadn’t guessed wrongly, those cryptic specks of starlight in his mind just now should have been fire elements.
If he was really able to able to sense the fire elements at this place, he would truly have profited from disaster.
“We’re about to reach, be careful,” The hand grasping Ning Ya’s exerted a slight amount of strength. The two people ran shoulder to shoulder and the footsteps gradually quickened, till –
“Run!” Faintly discernible specks of starlight once again appeared in Di Lin’s mind. Although it was still dim, this already served as a monumental boost to him.
The flames this time were even fiercer compared to the previous two times. If not for the fact that Di Lin and Ning Ya had long since made preparations, perhaps they would really have been swallowed by the flames.
Both Di Lin and Ning Ya banged into the door.
“The door?” Di Lin blinked in astonishment. He had thought that the space magic had been triggered again at this time. Not daring to tarry, he dragged Ning Ya along as he said, “Let’s leave quickly.”
Ning Ya’s breathing was quick and heavy. The palm of his hand that was clasped with Di Lin’s was soaked in cold sweat. It took him a full ten seconds to reply after hearing Di Lin’s words. “Okay.”
Di Lin used his other hand to pull the door open bit by bit.
In fact, he had another concern, namely that the range of the space magic was not limited to the library but also included its surroundings. If that was the case, their situation would be relatively terrible.
The instant he opened the door large enough to exit sideways, his movements ceased, and delight and worry filled his heart.
He was delighted because the fact that this person could appear before his eyes meant that he had not been transported to any random location by the space magic.
What he was anxious about was how to explain his appearance in the middle of the night at the library to this person in front of him.
Hydin stood in front of the library, both hands tucked into his sleeves. The moon in the night sky happened to be suspended ahead of him, its rays shining into his eyes, reflecting a layer of cold light.
Di Lin sighed silently. If not for the space magic in the library, he would choose to shoulder this responsibility alone but unfortunately, he didn’t have a choice but to drag Ning Ya out now.
“Is your memory better at night compared to the day?” When contrasted with the night scene, Hydin’s voice seemed to carry a wisp of menace.
“At the least, it’s better than not remembering anything.” Di Lin inquired calmly, “Why are you here? Lucé shouldn’t know of this as well, right?” The greater the number of people in the know, the heavier the consequences; Di Lin plotted internally.
Hydin walked over slowly. “Did you think the emblems on the tents were only stamps used to differentiate between tents?”
Di Lin’s state of mind relaxed. This was to say that Hydin was the only person who had discovered them. Like this, the odds of them escaping punishment by insisting that they were here to memorize books went up by quite a bit. Compared to stealing exam scripts, an excuse like learning on the sly would clearly be better liked by teachers.
Hydin only walked three steps when he stopped again. His gaze swept across Di Lin’s cheeks and stopped on Ning Ya, who was behind him. “Your partner looks half-dead.”
Di Lin stared blankly and then turned to look at Ning Ya, realizing that his complexion was exceedingly pale. A dense layer of fog covered his ink-black eyes. He did indeed look very ill. Di Lin hurriedly supported him. “What happened to you?”
Ning Ya leaned against Di Lin back and shut his eyes, mumbling his reply at a volume akin to speaking to himself. “It doesn’t matter, a while… it’ll be okay after a while.”
Hydin extended a hand, placing it in front of his forehead.
Di Lin looked at him anxiously. All he saw was the originally unconcerned expression on his face slowly turning grave before finally turning grim.
“How is he?” Di Lin felt the weight that Ning Ya rested on him growing heavier and heavier, till his entire person was nearly hanging off him.
Hydin put down his hand, frowning in displeasure. “Another one who’s been cursed.”
Di Lin said in surprise, “Cursed?”
The gaze Hydin fixed on Ning Ya was as cold as frost. “And it’s even a God-level curse.” Although mages didn’t believe in deities, they still possessed the basic level of respect. Thus, they would never have a good opinion of someone who had offended a God.
“Not a God…” Even when Ning Ya was so weak that standing stably was a chore, he still mustered his energy to retort. “He’s not a God…”
“He?” Di Lin asked, “Do you know who he is?”
Ning Ya silently glanced at his shoulders. After a while, he slowly straightened his body. “He’s a devil.” Color gradually suffused his wan face, though the layer of fog-like grief in his eyes did not vanish.
Hydin raised a brow. “Are you doubting my judgement?”
Ning Ya’s eyes drooped. “Perhaps he possesses a formidable power like that of a God, but he completely lacks the merciful heart that Gods should have!”
Hydin looked at him fixedly and suddenly smiled. “Who stipulated that Gods must have a merciful heart?”
Ning Ya raised his head suddenly, seemingly wanting to dispute something, but Hydin had already turned and walked along the alley, entering the recesses of the institution.
Di Lin chased after him worriedly. “Tonight’s matter…”
“What matter was there tonight?” Hydin asked back in a faintly teasing manner.
The heaviness in Di Lin’s heart finally eased. He turned and met gazes with Ning Ya, each seeing the other’s relaxed eyes.
“Are you really okay?” Di Lin was still worried.
Ning Ya shook his head with a faint smile. “I’m fine.”
“Then let’s go back,” Since he didn’t want to talk, Di Lin wouldn’t ask further.
The two ambled along the alley back to the vacant plot of land.
Aridi sneakily stretched his head out from the tent, only heaving a sigh of relief after seeing the two return with a satisfied expression. He had actually previously followed behind Di Lin and went to the library. The only difference was that he had guarded the outside and didn’t enter. Then, he saw someone walking over from a distance away and hurriedly ran back. In his heart, he had constantly worried that Di Lin and Ning Ya would tattle on him after being captured. Now that he saw that they were safe and sound, he could rest at ease and burrow back under his quilts.
Ning Ya and Di Lin bid farewell outside the tents and returned to their individual tents.
After laying down, emotions overwhelmed Di Lin and for a long time, he struggled to calm his heart.
To him, this kind of experience that shook him to the core was not without any gains. At least, he could now sense fire elements. Although it was still very weak, it could be considered a good start. As he pondered over it, his thoughts drifted to Ning Ya again.
Whether it was his words or the curse on him, everything shrouded him in a veil of extreme mystery.
However, he didn’t have the desire to uncover that veil.
A God’s curse.
Regardless of whether it was a kind God, or a sinister God as mentioned by Ning Ya, all of them represented annoyances that he couldn’t begin to imagine. Whereas the him now was not at all prepared to handle such annoyances, whether it was mentally or physiologically.
Di Lin stared at the top of the tent with wide eyes, a thread of regret flashing across his heart.
He could feel that Ning Ya harbored feelings of expectation for him – a kind of expectation that had no reason to exist yet existed.
— He was destined to fail to live up to those expectations.
The following days followed the same pattern as the previous days.
Just as Hydin had said, the matter of them rushing into the library during the night was treated as if nothing had ever happened. Just as before, Lucé sat behind the counter every day and waited for them to arrive. As usual, Hydin’s comings and goings were as hard to grasp as the clouds in the sky. The space magic within the library also never appeared during daytime.
Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. But Di Lin was aware that certain things were stealthily changing. During their usual interactions, he would occasionally sense Ning Ya’s gaze drifting over – an overtly intimate gaze different from Rui Meng and the rest.
If it was just their friendship that was moving one step further, Di Lin would not feel awkward. But he constantly felt that whenever Ning Ya used those eyes that contained too many secrets to look at it, they seemed to carry a deep expectation and desire.
He didn’t understand the origin of this expectation and desire, and this feeling of not understanding made him fretful.
He thought, maybe he should have a frank and open conversation with Ning Ya. It wasn’t long after he thought of this idea that Ning Ya took the initiative to offer a chance.
“Can I talk to you after the competition ends?” Ning Ya gazed at him, his eyes brimming with an anticipation that put Di Lin under even more pressure.
Even if his mind was shrouded in a haze of doubts and suspicions, Di Lin appeared very calm on the surface. “Of course.”
This agreement was set just like this. After confirming that he would obtain a portion of the answers after the competition, Di Lin gradually flung aside all these worries and put his entire heart and soul into dealing with the memorization competition. Of course, he had not given up on sensing the fire elements. In order to train himself, he even frequently got Suo Suo to help him build up a bonfire. But he hadn’t gained much even after doing so several times.
Day by day went by like this and the memorization competition finally approached.
Every new student was nervous about this competition. Of course, they weren’t only anxious about the Diligence Award only given to the top fifteen spots but also the fact that the Holy Institution would announce the list of students remaining at the school after the competition. Only after passing this hurdle could they be counted as genuine students of the Holy Institution.
 A term signifying agreement, the equivalent of a ‘yes’ or ‘okay’.