Chapter 8:

Headmaster Milliheim

Mahō no Gakkō -School of Magic-


Knock, knock!Bookmark here

Aubrey banged on the large wooden doors in front of us. We’d made our way past the cathedral all the way to the Headmaster’s office.Bookmark here

“Mr. Milliheim, you in there?” Aubrey yelled.Bookmark here

The doors creaked open, and the Headmaster gave Aubrey a warm smile. His face was old— he had to have been serving for quite a while. “General Sumisu. What a pleasant surprise! What’s the matter, kid?”Bookmark here

“We got a new kid we need help with.”Bookmark here

“Step inside, then.”Bookmark here

He opened the doors wider to allow the two of us to enter. I took in the room in light shock, looking up at the ornate glass ceiling and polished wooden walls. In the center of the room was a table on which a battle plan was laid, and behind it was Milliheim’s desk. There weren’t many papers on it.Bookmark here

He’s certainly got quite the room here.Bookmark here

You said you wouldn’t talk!Bookmark here

He hasn’t said anything noteworthy yet. I have nothing to gain until he does.Bookmark here

Aubrey tapped on my shoulder and motioned her head towards the desk, where three chairs were set. “We should probably sit down,” she whispered.Bookmark here

I sat in one of the empty seats next to her, and Milliheim sat in the seat adjacent. “Alright, Sumisu. What seems to be the issue?”Bookmark here

“Uh, remember that border skirmish yesterday?”Bookmark here

“Of course.”Bookmark here

“Well, it was next to them old bunker ruins, y’know? An’ those things always end up riftin’ ta Earth.”Bookmark here

“Oh, dear. Did our friend here arrive mid-skirmish?”Bookmark here

“Yep.” Aubrey shrugged. “Unfortunate circumstances.”Bookmark here

He turned to face me. “Do you speak any English?”Bookmark here

“Yeah,” I answered.Bookmark here

“She’s from Serpho, sir. Kinda surprised me with that,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

“Oho! And what’s your name, young miss?”Bookmark here

“I’m Shiera.”Bookmark here

“Are you in the database?”Bookmark here

“I–”Bookmark here

Aubrey stopped me. “Yeah, she’s in. Actually, she got put as a soldier in my sector when the draft hit. Didn’t get to ya in time, sir.”Bookmark here

“Well, Shiera, tell me a bit about yourself.”Bookmark here

I drew a blank. ‘Tell me a bit about yourself’? What was this, an interview? I never knew what to say to those types of questions.Bookmark here

Sakira, what the hell do I say?Bookmark here

I thought you didn’t want me talking.Bookmark here

That was before it was an interview!Bookmark here

I don’t know. Just mention your lineage, or talk about your magic powers, since you love them so much.Bookmark here

“U-Uh, yeah, of course. I’m Shiera Beta. I… uh, I–”Bookmark here

Milliheim looked shocked. “Beta?! Sumisu, have you told her about her lineage?”Bookmark here

“Yeah, she knows,” Aubrey said, rubbing her eyes. “She was there at the declaration last night. Look on ‘er face was hilarious.”Bookmark here

“Incredible! I’ve only known one Beta ever to live in… to live in Serpho.” His tone switched quickly. “Shiera, who is your father?”Bookmark here

I groaned. “Everyone keeps asking that.”Bookmark here

“I promise it’s for a reason, Shiera.”Bookmark here

“His name’s Nathan. He had two kids, me and my brother Kori. But Kori got kidnapped last night, so I’ve been kind of on edge.”Bookmark here

No, you haven’t.Bookmark here

I didn’t ask you to talk this time. And you’re one to talk about me telling a lie or two. I still want him back, at least.Bookmark here

“Ah, Nathan. Yes, he’s… certainly an interesting fellow. Aubrey, did you perform a cortisol check?”Bookmark here

“DeAndrick did, sir.”Bookmark here

“I assume the results were negative?”Bookmark here

“Yessir.”Bookmark here

“Ah, then we’ve nothing to worry about.”Bookmark here

I raised an eyebrow. “Well, there’s still Kori.”Bookmark here

“Oh, yes. We’ll get that taken care of. I’ll gather a squad to locate and retrieve him. He was probably taken as a hostage, given his bloodline. Do you know who took him?” A thin line of sweat began to form on my eyebrow. I wiped it off hastily.Bookmark here

Aubrey shrugged. “No, sir. If I had ta guess, one a’ Sakira’s lackeys took ‘im in the middle of the night. No cameras in the guest rooms, so we got no footage.”Bookmark here

“Hey, I have a question,” I said.Bookmark here

“Yes, Ms. Beta?”Bookmark here

“Why couldn’t a whole legion of spirits enter the shields using one disruptor?”Bookmark here

Let’s see if he knows.Bookmark here

“Why, a disruptor is a single-person device. It molds the shield around the user to let them pass. A hole in a shield that big doesn’t last long.”Bookmark here

He’s right. It’s like the surface tension of water, made of polarized molecules. It forms into a sphere because it’s the shape with the least surface area for its volume.Bookmark here

Okay, shut up.Bookmark here

Aubrey scratched at her face. “Oh, I remember why we came here.”Bookmark here

“And why’s that?” Milliheim asked.Bookmark here

“Shiera was asking how the wars work. You’d probably be better at explainin’ them than DeAndrick or Cryojen.”Bookmark here

Milliheim smiled. “Ah. I can explain that.”Bookmark here

He opened a drawer in his desk and took out a chess board. “It’s like chess?” I asked.Bookmark here

“No, no. I’m just using it as a demonstration.”Bookmark here

He placed a group of pieces on the board: two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and four pawns. Aubrey nodded, like something had just clicked for her. “The different types a’ pieces are different types a’ soldiers, right?” she asked.Bookmark here

“Precisely.” He tapped each piece sequentially— rook, then knight, then bishop, then pawn. “Rooks are defense casters. knights are melee casters, bishops are long-range casters, and pawns are melee soldiers.”Bookmark here

“What’s the difference between a melee soldier and a melee caster?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Soldiers use very basic magic or none at all. Casters use magic which helps them in melee combat.”Bookmark here

“Oh, okay.”Bookmark here

He placed the two rooks a few squares away from each other, then set the bishops near each of them to create a diamond. He then put the two knights behind each of the bishops, and the four pawns behind the rooks and the knights.Bookmark here

“That’s our formation!” Aubrey exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Did I never show you this example?” Milliheim asked.Bookmark here

“Nah. Cryojen taught me.”Bookmark here

“Ah. Well, yes, this is our formation. The defense casters create a shield around the rest of the pack. The others attack the spirits from the safety of the shields. Ms. Beta, I believe you were drafted as a melee soldier?”Bookmark here

I shrugged. “I dunno. I didn’t sign myself up for this.”Bookmark here

“She is, sir,” Aubrey said, “but I kinda think she should be a melee caster. She’s pretty good at magic.”Bookmark here

“Really? Well, she has a suit on. Ms. Beta, would you like to demonstrate?”Bookmark here

I shook my head. “No. No, I would not. Aubrey, tell him no.”Bookmark here

“She should totally do it!”Bookmark here

“No! Aubrey, no. You’d better not.”Bookmark here

Milliheim smiled again. “You can videotape her later. A change in position would take a couple days, regardless.”Bookmark here

“I don’t got a phone.”Bookmark here

“Get Beta to lend you hers. Or, do you not have one either?”Bookmark here

“No, I have one. Aubrey, we’ll do this later.”Bookmark here

She groaned. “Fine…”Bookmark here

“Well, regardless, Ms. Beta, do you have any further questions?”Bookmark here

I want to ask him something you said you could tell me and see what he says.Bookmark here

You’re still doing this?Bookmark here

“Yeah, actually. How did the world get all… cracked? Or is that just Atlas?”Bookmark here

Milliheim sighed. “It happened some eleven thousand years ago. In our history, Umbrian Spirits were used as slaves by early humans. Now, obviously, this has changed, but at that time…”Bookmark here

“What’s an Umbrian Spirit?”Bookmark here

“It’s an indigenous intelligent species of Dianoct. They mostly live in Altaria now, but their descendants in Sakeru grew to become what we call evil spirits.”Bookmark here

“Oh, so they’re like… beta-version spirits.”Bookmark here

“That’s certainly a way to put it. When the humans enslaved the Umbrians, a small rebel group arose and the first natural abilities came about. Their leader, 1076, started a full rebellion when he broke out of imprisonment and killed the Umbrian executioner 522.Bookmark here

“His rebellion joined him in a small base of sorts which they called Atlas. After months of planning and fighting off the humans’ attacks, they launched what might be called the greatest counter-strike in Dianian history.Bookmark here

1076 had the power to create ice from the water molecules in the air— along with his subordinates 1077, who could shape the earth, 1078, who could cause a torrential rain in a snap, and 1079, who could fly and crush any object with just his mind, they destroyed the humans who had enslaved them, along with Dianoct itself.Bookmark here

Dianoct, for a moment, seemed as if it were doomed. But with 1079’s incredible psychic ability, he suspended the planet as it broke into chunks. And here we are today. The light coming from the fissures at night is simply sunlight from the other side.”Bookmark here

Shiera, can I just say that listening to that made me happy and mad at the same time?Bookmark here

The hell are you talking about?Bookmark here

He nailed almost every detail, but the Umbrians who stayed loyal to the humans ended up all dead, and the humans submitted to the rebellion. Those of us that died returned as spirits, and I, for one, was fuming when I discovered that 1076 and his stupid human followers had taken Atlas as their own.Bookmark here

You were alive eleven thousand years ago?!Bookmark here

As an Umbrian, yes. In fact, I knew 1076 personally.Bookmark here

Really?Bookmark here

The son of a bitch drowned me. Froze the water over my head, never looked back.Bookmark here

He killed you?!Bookmark here

I was Executioner 522.Bookmark here

“Shiera, you good? Yer takin’ a real long time ta say anything,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

“Oh, sorry, I was just thinking about all that. Hearing all that was like listening to a Greek myth.”Bookmark here

“It is quite similar,” Milliheim agreed, “but the main difference would be that Greek myths never happened.”Bookmark here

“What happened to the Umbrians that didn’t oppose the humans?”Bookmark here

Milliheim’s expression shifted to one of remorse. ”1076 killed all his opposition off. It was the cost of liberty.”Bookmark here

Liberty for who? The people that sucked up to 1076 and his cohort?!Bookmark here

Sakira, are you actually–Bookmark here

You’re an unreasonable human like the rest of them! You’re not going to understand.Bookmark here

Just… stop talking for a little while. You need to calm down.Bookmark here

I don’t need a human telling me to calm down. I’ve– …fine. Fine, I’ll stop.Bookmark here

“Alright, will that be all, Ms. Beta?”Bookmark here

“Well, just one thing.”Bookmark here

“What’s that?”Bookmark here

“Do you ever wonder how the spirits are handling all this?”Bookmark here

Shiera?Bookmark here

He returned to his previous jolly manner. “Oh, Ms. Beta. You mustn’t worry about the spirits! They’re called evil spirits for a reason. Some say most of them can barely think!”Bookmark here

“Well, what if they can? What if they think we’re the bad ones?”Bookmark here

Shiera, stop it.Bookmark here

“If they think we’re the bad ones, then that only solidifies their idiocy. What have we done to them?”Bookmark here

“You enslaved them for centuries and sucked up to the one who killed most of them off, right?”Bookmark here

Shiera, stop.Bookmark here

“Ms. Beta, that was long ago. If they can’t forgive us for something eleven thousand years ago, that’s their fault.”Bookmark here

“I… alright.”Bookmark here

Aubrey looked over at me. “We… we should get back ta trainin’! Yeah! Shiera, c’mon, ya only got four hours!”Bookmark here

“Sure. Are we excused, sir?”Bookmark here

“Absolutely. Good luck on the battlefield, you two.”Bookmark here

I scooted my chair back and turned around to leave. As I walked out, I made sure to look at the battle plan laid on the center table. Get a good look at that, Sakira.Bookmark here

Aubrey hurried me out the door. “See ya, Milliheim, sir!” She quickly closed the doors and turned to me with a scowl. “The hell were you just going on about?” Her accent disappeared again.Bookmark here

“I– I was just wondering if they’d considered a different viewpoint on things.”Bookmark here

“He probably thinks you’re a spirit sympathizer. And with the red eyes and all… Shiera, I didn’t want to ask this.”Bookmark here

“Ask what?”Bookmark here

“Are you possessed?”Bookmark here

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