53 Ridiculous Plan

His consciousness danced between realms, an aquatic flicker adrift in two opposing planes. Yet, he belonged to neither, suspended in a liminal space of shimmering possibilities. A sudden yearning pricked at Astr – the insistent urge to tear himself from this swirling dream and awaken. But his eyelids, as if weighted by leaden stars, defied his command.

Through the veiled darkness, he traversed an unseen sea, his back eventually finding the comforting cradle of his bed, the anchor that tethered him to reality. With eyes yet sealed, a pungent aroma invaded his senses, the unmistakable bite of oil paint, vibrant and raw, emanating from the portrait adorning the wall.

"Curious," he thought, a furrow etching his brow even beneath closed lids. "The smell was never so potent before. Has gazing into the heart of that power amplified my senses? Is inspiration truly flourishing within me?"

The question coiled within him, an insistent seed demanding to be planted. He could resist no longer. In that snow-swept forest, a simple glance into those amber eyes had unveiled a universe beyond his ken. Now, standing teetering on the precipice of revelation, could this be the dawn of his third eye?

In games like this, having high inspiration is never a good sign.


Astr mentioned that next time he has a chance, he will never try to commit suicide. In addition to the portrait, there's also Professor Keal.

The scent of earth on his body is distinctive, accompanied by a faint whiff of nightmare. Contemplating the plants cultivated by the amiable herbalism professor, Astr couldn't help but sigh.

"Astral Academy is indeed very forgiving..."

As thoughts raced through his mind, Astr slowly opened his eyes.

Before him, Canvasbane Rafeal's eyes involuntarily avoided his gaze, fear etched across his expression.

"I suppose I frightened him kidnapping the Blue Elf. Hehe~ That's good."

Professor Keal approached in surprise, "You're awake?!"

Astr, still a bit groggy, subconsciously checked his surroundings. "Hmm, okay, it's still there."

Breathing a sigh of relief, Astr straightened up with Professor Keal's help. "I came to see how you are doing and give you some medicine," Keal explained nervously, gesturing toward the bottles and cans on the bedside table. "I hope you don't mind..."

"Well, it's okay, thank you," Astr responded.

Glancing at Rafael, who subtly nodded at him, Astr thought, 'I have to say that when it comes to issues involving one's own safety, the Canvasbane becomes very alert.'

Astr rubbed his throbbing forehead, but the erosion level remained at 39%, requiring him to rest and meditate for recovery.

"Are you okay? Do you want to take medicine?" Professor Keal asked with concern, treating medicine as casually as eating.

"It's okay, I'll be fine after a while. I'm used to it," Astr replied softly, offering a weak smile that left Professor Keal visibly distressed.

'...Deceived by appearances, you stupid humans,' Rafeal scoffed, casting a disdainful glance at Keal, mirroring his expression.

Astr gracefully emerged from the bed, extending two long, slender legs from the swaying white nightgown.

"..." Keal looked away in embarrassment, suddenly concerned about the stability of the first-floor windows.

Astr's next words immediately captured Professor Keal's attention.

"You're here just in time. I'm about to engrave the meditation patterns I currently use," Astr announced.

Excitement lit up Professor Keal's face as he exclaimed, "That's great! But, um, can your body hold up?"

Carving meditation patterns required both mana and physical strength – no easy task.

"Well, it's okay. You don't have to worry," Astr reassured with a smile, prompting Professor Keal to declare, "You're the best student I've ever encountered."

However, from Astr's seemingly harmless smile, Rafeal detected something different. It was akin to a spider spinning a web, anticipating and observing unsuspecting prey in a mocking manner.

"The master has done quite a big job," Rafeal sighed.

At that moment, he remained oblivious to the magnitude of this impending "big job."

Meanwhile, Astr had prepared a parchment paper specifically crafted for scrolls – well-made, remarkably flexible, and emanating the scent of wealth.

Lifting the quill, the sharp tip poised above the paper, Astr took a deep and deliberate breath.


Gradually, a chill emanated from Astr, accompanied by the distant sound of crashing waves.

Keal suddenly felt a sense of familiarity. It seemed...

During the mishap in the first meditation class, it felt similar, as if submerged in the cold depths of the sea.

'However, Astr is such a good kid; the mishap must have had nothing to do with him, right?'

Professor Keal observed as Astr glided the pen across the paper, creating a simple yet intriguing pattern. The notion of an infinite loop crossed Keal's mind initially, but he swiftly dismissed it. Symbols of profound meaning, like those associated with meditation, were meant for adept wizards; in the hands of apprentices, they risked erosion and the loss of sanity.

Moreover, the symbol representing "infinity" and "circulation," which seemed to unveil the mysteries of destiny, couldn't be casually engraved. Just as Keal was contemplating this, a trembling voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Fish...how could it be a fish...?" Startled, he turned to find the horrified expression of Rafeal Louis.

The soul's tether is likened to a thread, ensnaring the fish as prey, rendering it unable to break free from the entanglement.

Astr Serene's crafted meditation pattern intriguingly directs attention inward. Rafeal, deeply shaken, was so absorbed that not even a thunderous strike at his feet would have diverted his gaze. In utter disbelief, a ludicrous notion crossed his mind.

'Could it be that the Master intends to subvert this academy? To dismantle the meditation pattern and substitute it with one representing themselves, enabling new students to draw power from both their own essence and a sinister nightmare lord, a figure forbidden by the righteous path.'

The profound implications sent shivers through Rafeal's core. Clenching his fists, dirty paint dripped between his fingers, a physical manifestation of the turmoil within.

Struggling to contain the surging excitement within him, Rafeal pondered, 'What a malevolent and dreadful ambition. When did the Master begin plotting this?'

Despite his limited cognitive capacity, the lack of a discernible motive left him even more awestruck by Astr. Rafeal's imagination wandered into a future where Astr would dominate the world, spreading darkness and fear to every corner, with Rafeal as a loyal leader following in his wake.

In Rafeal's mind, there was no doubt about this possibility. He believed Astr's chaotic nature could even enable the unthinkable, such as slaying a god.

Observing the blond young master's intense fixation on Astr, Professor Keal's expression turned peculiar. It seemed not only the windows required scrutiny, but the doors needed securing as well.

'No wonder everyone adores Astr. This child is genuinely kind and pure,' remarked the unassuming Professor Keal with heartfelt emotion.

Swiftly, Astr completed the carving of the uncomplicated pattern. Setting the pen down, he took a deep breath, beads of sweat streaming down his face. A profound weakness enveloped his entire body.

His health had significantly declined, with an erosion rate surpassing 50%. The painstakingly accumulated mana was nearly depleted. Attempting to speak, Astr first battled an uncontrollable dryness in his throat.

"Cough, cough!"

"Drink some water!" Professor Keal swiftly handed over a teacup, expressing gratitude, "Thank you for your hard work, kid."

After a few sips, Astr felt relief wash over him. He closed his eyes, seeking solace for his throbbing nerves.

"Alas, when will this body be cured?" Astr sighed inwardly, recognizing the patience required for his recovery.

Handing the parchment to Professor Keal, Astr revealed a subtle arc at the corner of his mouth. "The engraved meditation pattern features a fish."

'If it fails, having Professor Keal, also a seasoned academic, as the initial test subject is preferable. It wouldn't be prudent to apply it to new students all at once. Despite successfully crafting my own pattern, I've never tested it. That was my original intention.'

Eager to proceed, Astr looked at the condensed meditation pattern in his hands. "Can I try it now?" he asked, determination evident in his voice.

Astr nodded. "Of course."  

'How could it be conjured out of thin air? Moreover, it's a meditation pattern! And Astr is such an honest lad; it's impossible for him to deceive others. Could Astr really lie?

Since Astr can meditate with this pattern, it implies that it should be relatively low-level and less hazardous,' Professor Keal mused, stealing a glance at Astr.

'Although it does resemble a fish, it's almost abstracted into a symbol, isn't it? Generally speaking, the simpler and more abstract the meditation pattern, the greater the energy it contains,' Professor Keal remarked hesitantly as he examined the parchment.

"The pattern is quite straightforward..."

"After all, one cannot generalize people's physiques. I'm such a clever little fellow," he added with a playful tone.

Astr curled his eyes , this innocent smile made Rafeal feel frightened.

Astr's eyes curved as he smiled innocently, a demeanor that sent a chill down Rafeal's spine.

The [Fish] pattern was remarkably simple, just a single stroke. Professor Keal glanced at it a few times and committed it to memory.


He took a nervous deep breath and closed his eyes. A fragrance, a blend of earth and plants, enveloped the herbalist gentleman. It resembled the robust growth of plants, though, perhaps, a bit too "vigorous."

Astr sensed a tinge of corruption. Gazing upward, he witnessed vines extending to the ceiling, seemingly sprouting flesh.

Rafeal, looking up as well, perceived nothing. The ceiling remained bare, yet an unsettling feeling lingered.

Meanwhile, in Professor Keal's spiritual realm, a simple fish gradually took form.

The process was remarkably smooth, akin to cutting butter with a hot knife—effortless and unhindered. A sigh escaped Keal, marveling at the seamless nature of it all.

It felt as though the pattern's creator welcomed him eagerly. As the simple lines converged, Keal experienced a fleeting sensation of transforming into a fish, swimming freely in his own mind.

"Oh my God. This meditation pattern is incredible," Keal exclaimed, immersed in joy and pleasure. Unbeknownst to him, a subtle thread extended from his body.

In the room, Astr lifted his eyelids, fingers gently rubbing, and the corners of his mouth widened in a triumphant curve.

"It's done."

An imperceptible connection established itself between Astr and Professor Keal.

It seemed as if Astr could effortlessly draw Professor Keal into a realm of nightmares with a mere thought.

The essence of nightmares gradually enveloped Professor Keal, and the overgrown vine appeared to thrive, growing larger and darker green as if infused with newfound vitality.

"The wizard's power originates from the nightmare world. I'm aiding in strengthening their connection," Astr thought contentedly. Shortly after, Keal opened his eyes, gazing at Astr with surprise, and exclaimed,

"Your meditation pattern surpasses [Blue Fairy's Breath]. It's user-friendly and safe! Perfect for freshmen to use."

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