Chapter 4:

CMYK Fly-Away

Mahō no Gakkō -School of Magic-

“So when am I finally gonna learn magic?”Bookmark here

Aubrey and I were walking down the medical wing’s pristine hallways. She kept turning in various directions at each intersection of the halls, and I wondered if she knew where she was going.Bookmark here

Aubrey cracked her knuckles. “What kinda magic?”Bookmark here

“There are types?”Bookmark here

“Duh. The ones you can learn come in three types, but the abilities some people got come in a lot more.”Bookmark here

“So what types can I learn?”Bookmark here

“Pretty simple. Ya got cyan magic, magenta magic, and yellow magic. Cyan changes spatial stuff, like with teleportation and invisible barriers. Magenta affects yer body an’ mind, like transformation, healin’, and cortisol checks. And yellow deals with weapons and combat, like explosions and resistances. ‘Course, you can learn all three, but people like ta specialize.”Bookmark here

I nodded. “So are you gonna teach me?”Bookmark here

“Hell nah. I can’t cast for shit. But I know someone who can, and I’m takin’ ya right to ‘im.”Bookmark here

“If it’s Aaron, I’ll kill you.”Bookmark here

“Nah, this guy hates DeAndrick. They’d probably kill each other if someone let ‘em at it.”Bookmark here

“That’s good to know.”Bookmark here

We finally found our way out of the medical wing, into what seemed to be a line of arenas. I peered into one, only to find it empty.Bookmark here

“Oh, people don’t really use ‘em recreationally.”Bookmark here

“You have arenas and you barely use them?”Bookmark here

“I mean, I dunno about you, but I wouldn’ wanna risk my life in a recreational activity.”Bookmark here

“Earth’s pretty different from Dianoct, huh…”Bookmark here

Aubrey stopped at one of the arenas. “He said he’d be in here. Wanna check?”Bookmark here

“I’m not checking anything. You know how this works, do it yourself.”Bookmark here

“Fine,” she scowled. She unlatched the door and stuck her head in. “Akaaa!!”Bookmark here

I heard a faint “Whaaaat?” from the door.Bookmark here

“Newbie wants ta learn castin’! Mind helpin’ ‘er out for a lil’ while?”Bookmark here

“Hell no! I just got started training! Go find Marissa!”Bookmark here

“Kyona’s helpin’ DeAndrick!”Bookmark here

“With what?”Bookmark here

“The other newbie!”Bookmark here

“There are two?!”Bookmark here

“Just say yes, dammit!”Bookmark here

“Fine!” Bookmark here

Aubrey sighed as she pushed the door further, allowing me room to enter. I hesitated.Bookmark here

“Is he always like this?“ I asked.Bookmark here

“Yup. Never does anythin’ without a reason. I can never get ‘im to hang out with us.”Bookmark here

The door opened to reveal a medium-sized arena with a few spectator seats and a trio of training dummies. A boy was practicing with bladed nunchucks— he whipped them at one of the dummies and wrapped their chains around its neck. He then turned his head.Bookmark here

“Hi,” he said.Bookmark here

“Heya,” Aubrey replied. “This is Shiera. She’s from Earth. Teach ‘er how ta cast.”Bookmark here

“Wha- Earth? You can’t–”Bookmark here

“Good luck!” Aubrey slammed the door, leaving the two of us to figure it out.Bookmark here

He looked at me, dazed. “Dammit, does she think my power works with languages?”Bookmark here

“What power?”Bookmark here

He almost jumped. “Wait, you- okay, we can work with that.”Bookmark here

“Answer the question, dumbass. What power?”Bookmark here

“U-uh, my power lets me handle weapons like an expert. I think Aubrey thought I could learn languages with–”Bookmark here

“I thought you had to cast spells to use magic.”Bookmark here

“Aubrey literally told you nothing, huh?”Bookmark here

“Well, she told me about the types of magic!”Bookmark here

“Probably just the casting types.”Bookmark here

“What do I not know?”Bookmark here

He seemed pensive. “…Let’s just teach you the casting part, actually.”Bookmark here

“What is it with you guys and always making fun of me for not knowing shit? Couldn’t you at least tell me?!”Bookmark here

“I could, but do you want to spend twenty minutes learning magic or twenty minutes learning the history of magic?”Bookmark here

“Could you do both?”Bookmark here

“I’m not spending more than twenty minutes on you.”Bookmark here

“Ugh, fine! Just teach me the damn magic!”Bookmark here

The boy began walking towards a worn-out wooden box on the periphery of the arena. “Over here.”Bookmark here

“What’s in there?”Bookmark here

“You need a focus point to channel magic. Do you want me to explain why?”Bookmark here

“I don’t need you wasting my time with explanations if they aren’t necessary.”Bookmark here

“Same thing with you and learning about the ability stuff.”Bookmark here

“Son of a bitch.”Bookmark here

He opened the chest up and dug around in it; I could hear metal clanking inside. “We have a few different casting points. Wands, staffs, and rings are all old-fashioned, but they’re easy to learn with. We also have charms, bracelets, and all that. If you have any weapons, you can use those, and…”Bookmark here

“I have a charm. Does this work?” I held up my amber charm, which was still glowing.Bookmark here

“No, that kind doesn’t– hey, wait, is that a rift marker?”Bookmark here

“A what-what?”Bookmark here

“Nevermind. Just, uh… here, take the bracelets. They look the coolest.”Bookmark here

He handed me a pair of clunky bracelets. They were engraved with the same runes I’d seen over all sorts of things— triangular, alien-like glyphs. “What do I do with them?”Bookmark here

“That depends on what you want to do.”Bookmark here

“Uh… let’s say I wanna fly.”Bookmark here

“You’re gonna wanna focus on the bracelets as much as you can for this.” He walked in a circle around me, and I noticed his ears were a little pointier than a human’s. His green-dyed hair covered them up, for the most part.Bookmark here

“…So do I just say some words, or do a motion, or…”Bookmark here

He chuckled. “No, none of that. Just imagine cyan energy swirling around your fists. It should work if you do it right, but it can take a few tries.”Bookmark here

“Imagine? What do you think I am, a kindergartener?”Bookmark here

“Do you want me to explain why?”Bookmark here

“Fine, I’ll do it, you shithead.”Bookmark here

I concentrated on the bracelets. Come on, don’t look like an idiot in front of this moron. If you don’t get this your first try, you’re done for. They’ll send you home with no memory, and your one shot’ll have been totally wasted. Come on, fly, fly–Bookmark here

“Hey, snap out of it for a second,” the boy said. I blinked back to my senses and turned my head.Bookmark here

“You ruined it. This is your fault.”Bookmark here

“No, you just started squinting and grimacing. You weren’t focusing on the bracelets.”Bookmark here

“I- you can’t prove that!”Bookmark here

“Just do it again.”Bookmark here

“Fine! But don’t interrupt me!”Bookmark here

He backed away. Don’t get carried away this time. I focused on the bracelets around my wrists and, just like the boy had told me, imagined cyan energy wrapping around my fists. I could see it in my mind as if it were real.Bookmark here

I felt my feet lift off the ground, weightless.Bookmark here

“Hell yeah!” I whispered under my breath. It was like unlocking a sense I’d never felt before; I could fly in whichever direction I wanted.Bookmark here

I soared to the top of the arena and looked down at the seats, at the training dummies, at the equipment. If I could do this, then surely this world would realize I had potential.Bookmark here

The energy began crackling like electricity. Does that mean I’m doing it right, or–Bookmark here

Gravity kicked back in.Bookmark here

“WoaAAAH!”Bookmark here

I plummeted to the paved sand floor, not ready to accept my demise. This would be even more humiliating than just failing. I didn’t even do anything wrong!Bookmark here

Just a couple centimeters above the ground, I felt myself stabilize, turn, and land on the ground with my feet. I had been suspended in the air for a couple seconds. Did I do that?Bookmark here

“What’d I tell you about concentrating?”Bookmark here

I looked up— cyan energy had just fizzled out in the boy’s hands. Oh. He saved me.Bookmark here

“I was concentrating! I don’t know what happened! It’s not my fault!”Bookmark here

“The energy only crackles like that when you stop focusing. It does that to try and remind you to concentrate. Which you didn’t.”Bookmark here

“At least I did it! Bet not a lot of people can say that!”Bookmark here

“It’s actually– never mind. Yeah.”Bookmark here

“It’s actually what?”Bookmark here

“Most people get it on their first or second try.”Bookmark here

“So you’re saying I’m average?”Bookmark here

“You– uh, yeah.”Bookmark here

I groaned. Me? Average? I guess I’d have to prove myself later. I was so much more than average.Bookmark here

“Hey, you never told me your name,” the boy said.Bookmark here

“You never told me yours, either.”Bookmark here

“Oh. I’m Aka.”Bookmark here

“Shiera.”Bookmark here

“Like Sierra, but with an ‘sh’?”Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

I slipped off the bracelets and tossed them to him. He didn’t catch them; they just ended up falling on the ground.Bookmark here

“…So, how do you know Aubrey? And that Aaron guy?”Bookmark here

“Aubrey’s been a friend for a while. I thought it was really cool that she was from Earth, so I asked about it in, like, fourth grade. That’s how we met.”Bookmark here

“What about– wait, Aubrey’s from where?!”Bookmark here

“I know, it was crazy to me, too. Yeah, somehow she flew under the radar wearing beanies, hoods, hats, all that. Only her mom and dad know. Not even her brothers!”Bookmark here

“Where did she live?”Bookmark here

“Ohio. Suburban Serpho, is what she told me. I’ve never been. I only know where it is because of history class.”Bookmark here

“Wha– that’s where I live!”Bookmark here

“Have you seen Aubrey there?”Bookmark here

“I know an Aubrey, but she’s not my age. I think she’s, like, twelve.”Bookmark here

“Aubrey does a weird thing whenever she travels to Dianoct. She intentionally sets herself four years off when she travels, so she always ends up four years back when she’s here. If she went back to Earth right now, it’d be September 2020.”Bookmark here

“That might be her!”Bookmark here

“Or it could just be someone else named Aubrey.”Bookmark here

“No, she had the braid and the beanie and everything! And I think she had some brothers…”Bookmark here

Aka was smiling. “What a wild coincidence.”Bookmark here

“And she would go off to boarding school every so often. That was her coming here, wasn’t it? I remember her twin brother always hating when she had to leave. I think his name was… Nick? Nate? Something that started with N.”Bookmark here

The door slammed open. “Y’all aren’t even practicin’ anymore! Aka, didja even teach ‘er anything?!”Bookmark here

Aka turned to Aubrey. “Well, I gave her bracelets. She was able to fly for a few seconds, then I had to catch her on the way down.”Bookmark here

“Why aren’tcha still tryin’, then?”Bookmark here

“I thought that was all we had to do for now,” I said.Bookmark here

“So she just kind of threw the bracelets at me,” Aka added.Bookmark here

“Oh, okay. What’re ya talkin’ about, then?”Bookmark here

I shrugged. “Uh, just introducing ourselves, and–”Bookmark here

“We were talking about how I met you, and I mentioned that you were from Earth, and she asked where, and I said Serpho, and turns out she’s from Serpho, too, and that she might remember you from–”Bookmark here

Aubrey waved her hands in front of Aka’s face. “Say all that again but slower.”Bookmark here

Aka exhaled. “Shiera asked how I knew you. I told her about the fourth grade thing, right? And she was confused, because you don’t look like a Gaian.”Bookmark here

“Gaian?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Means yer from Earth,” Aubrey answered. “Keep going.”Bookmark here

“So she asks where you’re from, and I tell her you’re from suburban Serpho,” Aka said.Bookmark here

“Coulda just said Ohio,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

“I did, then she asked where in Ohio.”Bookmark here

“No, I didn’t,” I interjected.Bookmark here

“Okay, I guess she didn’t, but anyway. Her face goes wild. It turns out she’s from Serpho, too!”Bookmark here

“Shiera, yer from Serpho?!” Aubrey gasped.Bookmark here

“Yeah.”Bookmark here

“And she said she’d seen you before! Like, with your beanie and everything!”Bookmark here

“Couldn’ta been me. Remember the four year thing?”Bookmark here

“She said you were twelve!”Bookmark here

“Oh, damn.”Bookmark here

“Don’t you have a twin brother or something?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, he doesn’t know about all this,” she replied, motioning to her ears. “I woulda told ‘im, but he ain’t respondin’ to my letters. Could just be a COVID thing, but I’m a little worried.”Bookmark here

I lowered my head. “I keep hearing that word. What does it mean?”Bookmark here

“Oh, COVID?” Aka said. “It’s… uh, are we allowed to…”Bookmark here

Aubrey nodded her head. “She’ll find out anyway. And if she ends up leaving, she’s gonna forget, so might as well, y’know?”Bookmark here

“What is it, some crazy future event?”Bookmark here

“It’s a virus from the end of 2019. Made a big global pandemic,” Aka explained.Bookmark here

“It sucked,” Aubrey said. “Oh, by the way, I came ta grab you two. Big gathering at the cathedral. Queen’s here.”Bookmark here

Aka gasped. “Now?! What happened? Why didn’t you tell us when you opened the door?”Bookmark here

“Y’all seemed like you were talkin’ about something important.”Bookmark here

“That’s way more important!”Bookmark here

“What’s so special about the queen being here? Shouldn’t she, like, always be here?” I asked.Bookmark here

“I’ll explain on the way,” Aka said quickly. “But what you need to know right now is that we have to go!”Bookmark here

He grabbed my wrist and pulled me out the door— whoever this Queen was, I was ready to find out.Bookmark here

Fuzzy Rabid Usagi
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