Chapter 7:

Inhabited

Mahō no Gakkō -School of Magic-


“Kori’s gone?”Bookmark here

Aaron glared at me. “Did I stutter?”Bookmark here

“No, I just– I don’t know how someone could take someone hostage in a shielded school,” I said.Bookmark here

It’s not hard. Use a shield disruptor, take the hostage, walk out. And Kori was fast asleep— an easy target.Bookmark here

Sakira, would you shut up for a second? You kidnapped my brother. I’m trying to contemplate.Bookmark here

Aaron looked over at Aka. “You set up the shields sometimes, don’t you, Cryojen? Tell her how someone could get in.”Bookmark here

“Tell her yourself! You’re the almighty commander, so you must know everything!”Bookmark here

“Cryojen, I’ll give you a migraine for a week.”Bookmark here

“Fine!” He glanced over at me, as if to say ‘get a load of this guy’. “Someone could use a disruptor, grab the person in their sleep, and walk out, since the shields are one-way.”Bookmark here

What did I tell you?Bookmark here

Shut up.Bookmark here

Aubrey perked up. “A disruptor? No one’s got one a’ those! That’s expensive shit!”Bookmark here

“Some people might. Like, a high-ranking officer, or a trained bounty hunter,” Aka explained.Bookmark here

“You sayin’ someone’s tryna kill Kori?”Bookmark here

“No, just that they might’ve borrowed the device from someone. I have no idea who would take Kori as a hostage. He’s just like Shiera— they just got here.”Bookmark here

“How the hell do we get him back?” I asked.Bookmark here

You’re worried about him now?Bookmark here

Not really. He’ll probably be fine. I’d just like to get him back here on the sooner rather than later spectrum of things.Bookmark here

That’s convenient for me.Bookmark here

Aaron tilted his head a little. “Well, first we’d need to locate him. More than likely, he’ll be with the spirits. It’s possible Sakira ordered his troops to grab him because he was a Beta.”Bookmark here

I’m not sedentary. I can execute my own wishes.Bookmark here

“Actually, who is Sakira? I keep hearing his name.”Bookmark here

Oh. You wouldn’t know who I am, that’s right. You really are new to Dianoct. I’ll let him answer.Bookmark here

Then you’ll probably make some snarky comment about him being wrong.Bookmark here

Snarky is a strong word.Bookmark here

Aaron sighed. “Sakira is the leader of the evil spirit army. He commands them, gives them orders, and leads them on the battlefield. He also governs the region, so he has minor political experience.”Bookmark here

“So, is he, like, a human corrupted by spirits? Or is he some kind of demon? Or…”Bookmark here

“Huh?” Aubrey interjected. “What’re ya talkin’ about? He governs the spirits. He’s a spirit.”Bookmark here

You’re an evil spirit?!Bookmark here

There’s a distinction to be made there. I am a spirit, yes, but in no way am I evil.Bookmark here

You took my brother hostage!Bookmark here

Correction: I made a deal with you to take your brother hostage, which you accepted. Can you call me evil for the consequences of your own actions?Bookmark here

Guilt tripping me isn’t making you look very not-evil.Bookmark here

I’m not guilt tripping you, I’m asking why you humans all have the same outlook on us spirits. We’re nothing but evil to you, nothing but dark, malicious beings here to make your lives hell.Bookmark here

You are making my life hell.Bookmark here

Okay, yes, but that doesn’t mean all of us are.Bookmark here

“Shiera? You alright? What are you thinking about?” Aka asked, concerned.Bookmark here

“Oh, nothing.”Bookmark here

“Are you… sure?”Bookmark here

“Well, okay, I was thinking about spirits. I’ve only seen them once. What are they like?”Bookmark here

Aka lowered his head. “They’re menacing creatures. Prone to terrorism and war. They love a big conflict. Sometimes people call them ‘evil spirits’. They got that nickname for a reason.”Bookmark here

Ask him what the reason is.Bookmark here

“What’s the reason?“Bookmark here

“Well, uh, they’ve been trying to steal the only bit of territory we have for years. And look, they’ve just declared war. Is it that hard to see?”Bookmark here

That’s unreasonable. You humans are unreasonable.Bookmark here

Would it kill you to stop talking for a few minutes?Bookmark here

Apologies. It’s been a long time since I’ve conversed with a human.Bookmark here

“Well, Shiera, I hate to break it to you,” Aaron said, “but it doesn’t seem like you’ll be able to leave for a little while.”Bookmark here

“I figured.”Bookmark here

“Remember you’re being deployed today. I recommend spending as much time as you can training.”Bookmark here

“I don’t even know how fighting spirits works!”Bookmark here

“Get Cryojen to teach you, if he knows so much.”Bookmark here

Aka exhaled. “I guess I can, but don’t be such an ass about it, mister almighty commander sir.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry you didn’t get the commander position in try-outs. Who was it you lost to again?” Aaron said.Bookmark here

“Shut up.”Bookmark here

“Really, I don’t remember. Mind clearing it up for me?”Bookmark here

“Shiera, we’re leaving, c’mon. Aubrey, you too.”Bookmark here

Aka got up and began to walk away. Aubrey slurped up the rest of her oatmeal and set it next to Aka’s. “Just leave it. Magic makes it easy ta clean up,” she told me.Bookmark here

I pushed my chair out and started following them, when suddenly, Aaron placed his hand on my shoulder. “Shiera, if you want to progress faster, I suggest coming with me instead. Kori learned how to teleport himself before he was captured— all you learned was a little bit of flight.”Bookmark here

“I’m good, thanks. I don’t need to know how to do all that.”Bookmark here

“You’re about to get sent out on the battlefield.”Bookmark here

“Don’t you think I can just do this?” I spun around and imagined Aaron flying back against the table.Bookmark here

“Do wha– agh!” I watched as he was helplessly thrown across the room like a ragdoll. My hands were glowing red; triangular runes flickered along them.Bookmark here

You’re a quick learner, huh?Bookmark here

That was crazy! Can I just… move anything?Bookmark here

Anything is an exaggeration, but you can control most objects and lifeforms. Notably, not spirits. Wouldn’t want you going off and genociding my own kind.Bookmark here

Aaron grunted, picking himself up off the floor. All the bowls had spilled, but they’d narrowly avoided him. “How– who taught you that?!” he spat.Bookmark here

I never answered him— I had already ran off to catch Aubrey and Aka before I lost sight of them.Bookmark here


Bookmark here

“What took ya so long?” Aubrey asked. She was standing in front of another keypad. “I was waitin’ ta show ya the pass.”Bookmark here

“Sorry. Aaron wanted to talk to me about something.”Bookmark here

Aka smirked. “By the way, he totally likes you.”Bookmark here

“What the hell?” I questioned. “How old is he? Not that I’d even want to be with him anyway, I’m just curious.”Bookmark here

“He’s… I think he turns sixteen next April?”Bookmark here

“I’m older than him?”Bookmark here

“I guess so.”Bookmark here

Aubrey was glaring at the both of us. “I’m still waitin’, Shiera.”Bookmark here

“Okay, fine, what is it?”Bookmark here

“S-T-U-R-D-Y. They made all the passes nationalistic an’ shit. Least this one’s short.” She entered ‘sturdy’ into the keypad, and the force field to the courtyard dematerialized.Bookmark here

If the next one is ‘everlasting’, I’ll terrorize humanity.Bookmark here

Aren’t you already doing that?Bookmark here

I stepped out into the courtyard and looked up at the open sky. To my surprise, there were long glowing streaks of purple across the dark blue atmosphere.Bookmark here

Aka chuckled. “Everyone from Earth always does that.”Bookmark here

“Does what?”Bookmark here

“Looks at the sky like they’ve never seen it before.”Bookmark here

“Because I haven’t.”Bookmark here

“Well, yeah, I just thought it was… uh, that, um, never mind.”Bookmark here

“Why are there streaks of purple?”Bookmark here

The planet has reserves of argon. When it cracked, the argon flooded the atmosphere along where the cracks were. Occasional atmospheric shifts charge the argon and make it glow.Bookmark here

I didn’t ask you, I asked Aka.Bookmark here

Then let’s see what explanation he gives you.Bookmark here

“Oh, uh, it has to do with the magical energy the atmosphere contains and how it reacts with the sun.”Bookmark here

See, he’s completely wrong.Bookmark here

I would’ve been better off just thinking it was magic than wondering why the hell this planet is cracked.Bookmark here

I can tell you that too, you know.Bookmark here

Please don’t.Bookmark here

Before I knew it, we’d made our way to another forcefield, leading back into the school. Another group of students had come up and opened the forcefield before us, so it was already dematerialized. One of the students gave me a weird look.Bookmark here

When we walked inside, I realized where we were. “Oh, we’re back at the arenas.”Bookmark here

“We’re trainin’ for a war, where’d ya think we were goin’?”Bookmark here

We made our way to the same arena we had trained in the day before. Aubrey closed the door behind us.Bookmark here

“Shiera, before we start, I was gonna ask you a question,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

I tilted my head. “What is it?”Bookmark here

She made direct eye contact. “Have yer eyes always been red? Noticed it at breakfast. I was just wonderin’.”Bookmark here

I blinked. “My… uh–”Bookmark here

Say yes.Bookmark here

“Y-yeah, they’ve been red. Dunno how you didn’t notice that during those screenings, haha.”Bookmark here

“Ah, gotcha. Just thought they were cool.”Bookmark here

Sakira, what the hell just happened?Bookmark here

By giving you those powers, I also inhabited you to an extent. That’s how I can talk to you right now. When someone becomes inhabited, the protein production in their body cells switches for unknown reasons. That includes the protein in your irises, which colors your eyes.Bookmark here

If you uninhabited me, would they switch back?Bookmark here

No. You’ll have red irises for the rest of your life.Bookmark here

“Alright, Shiera, you need to practice evasive maneuvers in case a spirit attacks you,” Aka said, throwing me a pair of bracelets.Bookmark here

“I’m wearing a battle suit.”Bookmark here

“Oh, uh, can you hand those back to me, then?”Bookmark here

“Sure.”Bookmark here

I kicked the bracelets back to him. He secured them around his wrists and nodded.Bookmark here

“Alright. We’re going to try flying again first. It’s the best way to outmaneuver a spirit.”Bookmark here

“I can try flying again.”Bookmark here

“Aubrey, can you get ready to catch her?”Bookmark here

Aubrey shrugged. “Yer the one with bracelets.”Bookmark here

“Okay, fine. Shiera, remember— focus on the bracelets.”Bookmark here

I smirked. Focus? I didn’t have to worry about that anymore. I flexed my fingers and closed my eyes. You can do this, Shiera. Prove to them what you can do.Bookmark here

My feet lifted off the ground.Bookmark here

When I opened my eyes, I found myself two meters above the ground. Red magic swirled around my body, and the runes crept up from my hands to the suit on my arms. It felt like unlocking a sixth sense— I could move whichever way I wanted.Bookmark here

You’ve got quite a hang on this. Magic’s in your bloodline.Bookmark here

Aka was completely speechless, and Aubrey was cackling. I carefully landed on the ground, shaking my hands out. “So, was that any better?”Bookmark here

“How– you just– what…?!” Aka stammered.Bookmark here

“If I didn’t know any betta’, I’da said she practiced overnight!”Bookmark here

“Yeah, she must’ve– wait, if you didn’t know any better?”Bookmark here

Aubrey glanced at the runes still imprinted on my hands. “That magic was red, not cyan. That’s an ability. Shiera can levitate any time she wants.”Bookmark here

“How did you… did you always have that ability?” Aka asked, still flabbergasted.Bookmark here

Say yes again.Bookmark here

“No. I’m not sure how, but it sort of came to me overnight…”Bookmark here

Aubrey shrugged. “Means you’ve always had it, ya just figured it out today. Pretty cool.”Bookmark here

“Pretty cool? That’s crazy! I’ve never seen an ability like that!”Bookmark here

“Well, I mean, ya have.”Bookmark here

“When?”Bookmark here

“Just now.”Bookmark here

“Dammit, Aubrey.” Aka turned around and started digging through the chest of weapons. “Hold on, give me a second.”Bookmark here

Why didn’t you listen to me?Bookmark here

It worked out, didn’t it?Bookmark here

That’s not what matters. Why?Bookmark here

I have to fight spirits soon, right?Bookmark here

Well, yes. What does that have to do with it?Bookmark here

I figured I’d start by fighting the spirit in my head.Bookmark here

I’m on your side, Shiera. Believe me, if I wanted you dead, you’d have more than just a cut on your arm.Bookmark here

Aka turned back to me. “Alright, I want you to try using this.” He handed me a strange curved blade. “It’s a grappling weapon. If a spirit tries to attack you, you can block them and fly off.”Bookmark here

“If a spirit tries to– how does this kind of war even work?”Bookmark here

You can have him explain it, or you can have me.Bookmark here

He’s on my side of the war, I’d rather have him.Bookmark here

Thousands of years versus maybe six. Your choice.Bookmark here

Still him.Bookmark here

You humans are unreasonable.Bookmark here

“Uh… war. It’s… complicated, you know?”Bookmark here

Aubrey groaned. “Nah, it’s just basic combat. Spirits fly in, try ta kill ya. We mostly stick in groups ta fend ‘em off. If they pick ya off, ya use a grapplin’ weapon and get away.”Bookmark here

“You know who could tell you a lot more about war?” Aka said.Bookmark here

“Who?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Headmaster Milliheim. Aaron has to pass plans through him before we execute them. He’s a military head and a good teacher. We should get you to talk to him.”Bookmark here

“Actually, why haven’t we got ‘im ta talk to ‘er?” Aubrey asked. “That coulda resolved the drafting issue. But now she’s fine ‘cause she’s got magic.”Bookmark here

“That doesn’t mean we can’t still talk to him,” Aka replied.Bookmark here

“I mean, it’s you guys’ choice, honestly. I don’t care,” I said.Bookmark here

“We got time ta train later. Shiera, yer comin’ with me!” Aubrey yanked me out the arena door for my second time in twenty-four hours.Bookmark here

Milliheim. I haven’t met him myself. Guess this will be both our first times.Bookmark here

Please don’t talk while I’m meeting him.Bookmark here

I will not. I have much to learn from this encounter, too.Bookmark here

Really?Bookmark here

Being inhabited is a form of mutualism. We both gain advantages— you, power, me, knowledge. We both benefit. And that extends to the knowledge I can gain from the Headmaster. So you’d best not ruin it for the both of us.Bookmark here

Fuzzy Rabid Usagi
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