16 Chapter Sixteen
(Correlated with the manhua's chapter 16)
Mo Fan's eyes went blank, as though he'd witnessed a horrifying cosmic creature, unable to grasp the situation. The pieces of the stardust accelerator laid scattered across his chest and bed, ruined.
*"LIKE MY FUTURE IF I DON'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIX THIS!"*
Mo Fan finally awoke from his trance of terror, quickly sitting up to collect the pieces of the once-valuable bracelet.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no no no no no no no no nonononoono nooooooooo!"
Nearing the point of tears, Mo Fan was on the verge of a panic attack. The stardust accelerator device he'd received from his homeroom teacher was an indescribably useful item for someone like him. Having one more element than everyone else might have been an overall advantage in life as a magician, but the extra element cost Mo Fan, even with his impressive talent, most of his time. Thankfully, he was able to manifest magic with both his elements at a rate considered incredible with just one, but Mo Fan needed every magical training resource he could get if he wanted to compete with the abundant resources of large families like the Mu.
Yet, the stardust accelerator which laid in pieces around him was much more than just lost resources. No, it could very well be a roadblock on his journey to greatness which took him years to recover from.
"These stardust accelerators are extremely valuable, so practice with utmost care while using them. If you damage one, you will be expelled." Were the terse words of his teacher.
*"What will I do if I'm expelled?! Will I be the first top-ranked student to be expelled from Tian Lan High School?! Would another school take me in after breaking such an important item?!?!?!?!?!?!?!"
"G-get a hold of yourself…this can't be the end…this won't be the end…there are options…"
He spent a minute breathing deeply, stabilizing his mind, reviewing his options. When he calmed, he replayed the situation in his mind.
*"Okay. I dropped the bracelet onto my chest…but it shouldn't have broken. The metal it's made of isn't that soft."*
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Mo Fan played with a few pieces of the stardust accelerator, testing their durability, finding that the metal wasn't at all weak.
*"I remember hearing a ding, like, the bracelet hit another piece of metal."*
He brought a hand to his chest and lifted the coiled dragon pendant which hung on a string.
*"It definitely collided with the pendant Old Man…Ying gave me."*
Mo Fan released a woeful sigh as he recalled the important events which originally caused him to be in his situation, not yet having gotten over not being able to help the old man who died in his arms.
*"Anyway… I have one option to try out before I resort to arguing with the school about my punishment."*
Mo Fan safely stored the remains of the stardust accelerator in a drawer before heading down to his dorm room's lobby.
Lying on a queen-size bed was a voluptuous woman with long, dark-brown hair, her attention fully occupied by the phone in her hand as she watched a video of kittens stumbling around in grass. Suddenly, to her great annoyance, her phone vibrated and cut from the video of adorable kittens to display an incoming call from a strange number.
"Huh? A number from one of the school dorms?" An eyebrow raised as her irritation changed to curiosity, wondering why anyone would call from there. She answered the call and brought the phone to the side of her face. "Hello. Who is this?"
A shaky male voice answered, causing more questions to arise. "H-hello, Ms. Tang Yue? This is Mo Fan... Um…"
Hearing the hesitation in Mo Fan's voice when he paused for too long, Tang Yue's irritation arose again. "Yes? What's the matter?" Though she did her best to keep the irritation out of her voice.
"I'll get straight to the point…" Tang Yue heard Mo Fan gulp as he seemed to gather his courage to speak. "My, my stardust accelerator…it broke."
After quickly arranging a place to meet to discuss the situation, Tang Yue dressed as quickly as she could and bolted through her apartment building down to her car, which she angrily drove near the speed limit until she arrived at Mo Fan's dormitory. Still fuming, she marched to the highest floor, opening the door to the rooftop to find Mo Fan sitting on the ground clutching himself in a state of fear. He deserved it for breaking something so expensive, she thought.
"Mo Fan." This time, Tang Yue held nothing from her voice as she spoke. "Show me the stardust accelerator device and explain the situation." Arms crossed and back straight, Tang Yue did the best she could to intimidate Mo Fan, letting him know that he'd placed himself in a very bad spot. It wasn't a joke when Tian Lan Magic High School's teachers told their students they'd be expelled for damaging the precious stardust accelerators, and Tang Yue was big on following the rules. If Mo Fan had been negligent or stupid, she'd report the case immediately.
Yet, Tang Yue wasn't heartless. She understood that sometimes problems plaguing someone aren't their fault. It's possible that Mo Fan wasn't responsible for the destruction of the device, and she'd help him if that were the case. That's why she bothered meeting him and having him explain, rather than letting the school take care of it.
Tang Yue sternly watched as Mo Fan scrambled to rise, nearly tripping and slamming his face into the concrete on his way to her. When he arrived, he nervously reached into his pocket and produced a plastic bag, presenting it with both hands, allowing her to get a clear view of the many pieces that once made up a costly item.
"Strange… Considering how it's in so many pieces, this is likely not his fault… Huh." Tang Yue's expression relaxed a bit as she mentally simulated various ways to ruin the stardust accelerator to such an extent. She was aware of its durability and knew that if a student damaged it, it would most likely be from dropping the device from really high in the air or soaking it in a corrosive chemical solution. However, neither method of destruction would leave it in so many pieces. "Maybe a tree or a heavy block of stone nearly crushed him but only got the bracelet? If it was something like that, he couldn't really be held accountable."
Mo Fan did his best to suppress his shaking as he held up the plastic bag full of pieces from what used to be a valuable device.
*"I hope she's understanding…"*
He'd decided to approach her with his situation due to one factor—Ms. Tang Yue was one of the nicest teachers he knew, but not only because of how she taught, but because of what she'd told him after the magical energy examinations ended. Shed approached him to reassure him that, with the talent he'd displayed for magic so far, he had a decent chance at winning in the competition against the Mu family in the coming years, but only if he worked really hard and took full advantage of all free time and resources at his disposal. She even gave him her personal phone number in the case that he wanted to spar, since they were both fire mages.
Mo Fan appreciated the gesture so much that she was the only person he thought of that could help him in his situation.
"Ms. Tang Yue, it's really not my fault." He began, speaking the lines he'd mentally rehearsed while waiting for her arrival. "It just shattered upon contact with my pendant!"
His words caused Ms. Tang Yue to look down at his unassuming necklace, weighing the veracity of his statement as she lifted a hand to clasp the coiled dragon and released magical energy to inspect the object.
"Uhhh…" Mo Fan couldn't help but blush when Ms. Tang Yue stepped closer to examine his pendant. She was, after all, a peerless beauty capable enough to inspire men with an angry expression. As a young man, her charms overcame his dread.
"Heh." Mo Fan thought he heard Ms. Tang Yue chuckle softly when she finally released his necklace, but couldn't be sure due to his mess of a mind at the time. "You're quite lucky, Mo Fan, to be in possession of a growth-type stardust accelerator."
"W-what?" Mo Fan struggled to take in the teacher's words and the importance behind them, too confused even to notice how her demeanor changed completely from angry and terse to relaxed and somewhat merry.
"Exactly what I said. You have somehow obtained a stardust accelerator of such value that it can become stronger." Ms. Tang Yue uncrossed an arm to point at Mo Fan's pendant and then at the bag of stardust accelerator pieces. "It can absorb the capabilities of other stardust devices, using them to become stronger, leaving them broken from having their power sucked dry."
Slowly, Mo Fan pieced his thoughts together. "Then…can it eventually reach the next level, spirit-grade?!" Mo Fan's heartbeat accelerated and his breaths quickened.
Ms. Tang Yue shrugged. "Of course it can. However, it'd need to absorb energy from certain sources." Then, Ms. Tang Yue suddenly leaned forward and placed a finger on Mo Fan's chin. "But more importantly, where exactly did you get your hands on such a peerless treasure? In this entire city, only the strongest families, like the Mu, possess equipment of this type."