A Tale of Two Students
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
Though Eldegaria had always regarded Leila as her best student, she also saw her as something of a problem child. Both the problem and the solution stemmed from her superior intellect. She learned more quickly than most others, and the extent of her curiosity far exceeded the norm. Even amongst sheep-horned demons, she was something of an anomaly.
Even as a young child, she often pestered the various professors to teach her everything they knew—not that they were truly bothered. Most of them were entertained by her antics and, as such, offered all of the knowledge she demanded. Their willingness to provide was certainly a major part of the problem. They enabled her curiosity and turned it into a habit, a hobby that she would preserve for the rest of her life.
But again, a part of it was simply her nature. As her guardian, the person who had spent the most time with her, Eldegaria knew that for a fact. Of course, the professor was proud to have such an outstanding student. She had to admit that she was pleased to see a small child working alongside seasoned scholars as would an equal.
She was a true abnormality, a prime example that age and talent were completely distinct. But not everything was sunshine and rainbows. Frankly, Leila was too interested in learning. She always put her curiosity first and foremost. It became her purpose, her one and only driving force, and the very core of her being. And while the behaviour was somewhat stereotypical for a sheep horned demon, Eldegaria believed it to be the wrong way to spend one’s life. There was much more to the world than books and research.
That wasn’t to say that she thought it was entirely a bad thing. Happiness was something that each individual defined differently, and if a life of research was what Leila desired, then there was nothing wrong with her following through with just that.
It wasn’t her business.
But that path was one that Eldegaria had also walked. And she knew of the unfathomable loneliness that came with it.
There was no one for her to rely on. Her entire existence was a long, grueling battle between woman and world. It was a painful path, even for those that explicitly sought it out.
Following that path was what had led Leila to leave Baachsburg.
Eldegaria had already anticipated that the day would eventually come, and that was why she had imparted upon her all the knowledge that she needed to live outside of the university town. Hence why she was surprised to see her return. Leila had only left because she had grown tired of the university town. That was why the older demon had only thought she would be gone for good.
She had been sad to see her depart at the time, but thought it another necessary step in the younger woman’s life. Which was precisely why she was so surprised to see her return. And even more shocking was the fact that she had come back with ties to more than just her scholarly pursuits. She was finally grounded to reality, focused on something besides her rampant curiosity.
And after their first conversation in a very long time, she knew for certain that she had changed. Because rather than immediately diving into the results of her research, the younger demon chose to talk instead about all the fun times she had experienced as a member of the demon lord’s entourage, the laid-back life she lived, her closest friends, and the latest gossip on the particulars of the relationship between the demon lord and the supreme dragon.
Leila was finally starting to understand warmth.
That wasn’t to say that she had changed. Not entirely, at least. Deep down, she was still the same person. But now, she had something else that was just as important to her as her research.
She was confident that Leila hadn’t noticed, but realising that her student had grown had led the old professor to tear up. As a knowledgeable researcher, she blamed it on her old age. Her lacrimal inhibitors were clearly no longer working as well as they did in her youth.
Eldegaria had always known that Leila was the sort that was good at taking care of others, based on how she had treated Emyu, but now that side of her had become even more prominent.
She had shown that she was happy to assist others, to work with them through their needs and wants. She had learned what it meant to love.
Being exposed to a set of values different from those prominent in Baachsburg had completely changed her.
While the people that Leila associated with were all rather… unique, that was not much of a concern. What mattered most was what lay within. And from how much her pupil had changed, Eldegaria could tell that they were truly wonderful people.
She felt truly grateful to the demon lord and the women around him.
“Ughhhhh… I wanna go play already,” complained Emyu, with whom the old scholar happened to be sharing a room.
“You’ve spent several days playing already. You need to catch up on your studies.”
“But all this homework is pointless! These questions aren’t even helping me learn, they’re just keeping me busy for no reason! You see this section? This is just rote memorisation, and even worse, it’s stuff I already know. The problems you give me are always interesting and rewarding. But these are awful.”
“So you would’ve liked me to be the one to assign your homework? I wouldn’t mind. As an old annoying hag, I’ll assign you the best problems I can.”
“Wait, nevermind! I didn’t mean that! Don’t think up any problems! Just don’t!”
“Are you sure? I really don’t mind, not for you, at least,” said Eldegaria.
“Darn it, Professor! I knew it! You really are just an annoying old hag!”
Emyu threw up her arms in frustration.
Eldegaria laughed. “Yes, yes, now I may be watching you, but I won’t say anything, even if you happen to do your best, finish early, and run off to play.”
The younger demon got right back to work, but not without her fair share of groaning and mumbling. Emyu, Eldegaria’s second student, was a lot more talkative than her “sister,” but just as intelligent. She was more than capable of finishing several days of homework in just a few hours if she really put her mind to it.
Watching over the child led the sheep-horned demon to think about the future.
Leila was going to be leaving again, along with her entourage. But that wasn’t to say that they wouldn’t meet again. Eldegaria even entertained the possibility of going to visit, in the case that Leila happened to bear a child.
Student number two was sure to have somewhat matured by then, and more than old enough to accompany her on the journey. She couldn’t help but suspect that seeing the child would make Emyu into the same type of person as Leila, one that cared greatly for others. The thought was so amusing that it even prompted the old scholar to laugh.
“What is it, Professor?” asked Emyu.
“Nothing, don’t worry about it.” Eldegaria waved her off.
She felt as if she had already grown numb to a great many things, courtesy of her long life, but the future was looking to be plenty entertaining in its own right.
Or perhaps it is because I’ve grown old that I’m now enjoying my life for what it is, she thought, with another happy chuckle. The longer you live, the more you see, after all.