Chapter 9:

Arenamega

Mahō no Gakkō -School of Magic-


“Am I what?”Bookmark here

“You think I haven’t noticed? I checked the database while you were talking to Milliheim. It’s recorded that you have hazel eyes. And all that time you spend thinking, and the way you just defended the evil spirits— whoever you are, you’re not good at hiding it.”Bookmark here

She was talking in a stern whisper. I hadn’t expected to watch a cat girl barrade me on the reasons I was possessed, but here I was.Bookmark here

“Aubrey, c’mon, I’m not possessed. I live in Serpho City. I came from the bunker near that border skirmish, remember? I know all that. If I were possessed, I wouldn’t.”Bookmark here

“You realize I just said all that to Milliheim, don’t you? All you had to do was listen in.”Bookmark here

“Aubrey, I–”Bookmark here

“And don’t think I haven’t noticed how little you care about your twin’s disappearance. That makes no sense. If my twin disappeared, I’d be searching tirelessly. But you? You don’t even care, and suddenly you have magical powers which you claim came out of nowhere.”Bookmark here

“Because that’s actually what happened! And I don’t care about Kori because I know he’s gonna be fine!”Bookmark here

“How do you know that?”Bookmark here

“I just– He always is! No one’s trying to kill him!”Bookmark here

“Maybe he’s already dead! Maybe you killed him and possessed Shiera to make sure she wouldn’t freak out!”Bookmark here

Sakira, what the hell do I do?! Why does she think I’m possessed?!Bookmark here

Us spirits have the ability to possess or inhabit any sentient organism. They have the same biological effects, but possession provides complete control, whereas with inhabitation… well, I’m sure you’re acquainted.Bookmark here

How do I prove to her I’m not?!Bookmark here

Tell her something that happened before you were inhabited.Bookmark here

I already have!Bookmark here

Something she hasn’t mentioned while you were.Bookmark here

“Uh… I– your brother’s name is Niko! You told me that before I got my powers!”Bookmark here

“That all you got?”Bookmark here

“I remember Marissa! I don’t think I’ve seen her today!”Bookmark here

Aubrey sighed. “So you ain’t possessed. Then why are yer eyes red? They were definitely hazel last night. Plus, new abilities don’t come outta nowhere.” Her accent resurfaced.Bookmark here

“I guess it was some kind of awakening,” I reasoned.Bookmark here

“I ain’t never seen an ‘awakening’. We’ll just say ya didn’t know ya had ‘em. That makes more sense.”Bookmark here

“Like you said before, yeah.”Bookmark here

Interesting. She didn’t mention inhabitation.Bookmark here

Should I ask her about it?Bookmark here

Ask it indirectly if you must.Bookmark here

Indirectly? How?Bookmark here

If you want to prove you humans aren’t stupid, try figuring something out yourself.Bookmark here

“…How… how does possession work, anyway…? Can an evil spirit just enter you?” I asked tentatively.Bookmark here

That’s exactly what I would have asked. You’re learning, Shiera.Bookmark here

“I mean, yeah, basically. Evil spirit basically takes over yer consciousness. Does whatever the hell it wants to then leaves.”Bookmark here

“That’s terrifying…” Sakira, could you just take over my body any time you want?Bookmark here

Technically, yes. There’s nothing stopping me from overflowing your consciousness right now. But I’m not going to, because it doesn’t benefit me in any way. Plus, we had a deal. I don’t take deals lightly.Bookmark here

That’s good to know. But, uh, you still could, couldn’t you?Bookmark here

The only instance where I would is if I had to get you out of danger. That doesn’t mean I like you, it just means I value your existence.Bookmark here

“Sure is. That’s why I was worried ‘boutcha. Ya got a lotta the symptoms, like the red eyes, magical abilities, pausing a lot during’ speech… but it could just be a Beta thing. Whenever she gets back, you should talk to the Queen. Might be hard ta get a hold of ‘er, though.”Bookmark here

“What else can spirits do?”Bookmark here

Aubrey started counting her fingers. “They can see ghosts, phase through walls, fly, communicate through dreams, use telepathy…”Bookmark here

“I thought they were ghosts.”Bookmark here

“I meant they can see ghosts of humans.”Bookmark here

“So ghosts are real?”Bookmark here

“Yup.”Bookmark here

Only on Dianoct. When the conscience is separated from the body, magic mimics the form of their body so they can maintain a form. On Earth, if a human dies, their conscience can’t hold onto a form and disperses into… Well, we’re not quite sure. It’s why religion still exists.Bookmark here

So ghosts don’t exist on Earth, is what you’re saying.Bookmark here

If they came to Earth through a rift, they could. But it’s unlikely.Bookmark here

“If they can phase through walls, why can’t they phase through shields?”Bookmark here

“Shields use magic ta keep ‘em out. They can phase through physical matter, but not force or magic. If you lit up dynamite right next to it, it might not get hit by shrapnel, but it’d go flyin’.”Bookmark here

Just then, I heard metal boots stamping against the floor from the hallway. There had been people passing for a while now, but no one was in this much of a rush. Said person turned the corner and gasped when he saw the two of us.Bookmark here

“Oh, heya, DeAndrick. You lookin’ ta talk ta Milliheim?”Bookmark here

Aaron heaved— he’d been running quite a bit. “No, that’s not it. I had to warn you, Aubrey.”Bookmark here

“Warn me of what?”Bookmark here

“I think Shiera’s possessed!”Bookmark here

I snickered. “Oh no, I’m possessed by a big bad evil spirit guy, aaaaahhhhh.”Bookmark here

Oh nooooo, you’re possessed by a big bad evil spirit guy, aaaaahhhh.Bookmark here

“Shiera, the way you threw me against the table, and the red eyes, and… I–”Bookmark here

“DeAndrick, we were literally just talkin’ about this. Coulda found us a few minutes ago. Shiera ain’t possessed, she’s just weird, I guess.”Bookmark here

Aaron blinked. “She’s ‘just weird’? Are you hearing yourself? She can move things with her mind! Not to mention she chose to train with you losers over the commander of the army, no doubt because she knew I’d figure out before you!”Bookmark here

“I chose them because you’re annoying,” I said. “And, quick tip- if you want to hit on a girl, don’t do it by leveling her cortisol and giving her a headache to prove a point.”Bookmark here

“How do you remember…” he cut off, embarrassed.Bookmark here

“Because I’m not possessed, you idiot.”Bookmark here

“W-well, are you… are you at least ready to fight? We’re holding a mock fight tournament over in the big arena, and Marissa wanted me to grab Aka and you two, and I knew I had to warn you about… Well, I guess it’s pointless now. But anyways. Mock tournament in Arenamega.”Bookmark here

“Arenamega?”Bookmark here

“It’s actually called ‘Arena Omega’, but everyone just kinda calls it Arenamega. It’s the biggest arena, plus it’s got the shield failsafes,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

“Why’s it called ‘Omega’?”Bookmark here

“It’s the last arena in the hallway, plus they used ta have executions there. Not anymore, though.”Bookmark here

Aaron cleared his throat. “Are you joining or not?”Bookmark here

“Shiera probably needs the practice, so yeah, sign us up,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

“Great. It starts in around twenty minutes, so be there in ten.” Aaron started to walk away.Bookmark here

“Hey. Wait, can I ask a question?” I called out.Bookmark here

“Depends on the question.”Bookmark here

“The cortisol thing. Why the hell do you guys have to raise people’s cortisol? I don’t get it.”Bookmark here

“Oh, it’s– uh, it’s…“ Aubrey stopped. “Can we…”Bookmark here

“Er. Well, Shiera, I believe you’ve been informed about spirits and ghosts and other fantastical creatures. There are a few more to mention. While we walk, would you like an explanation?”Bookmark here

“Preferably not from you.”Bookmark here

“I know more than Aubrey does.”Bookmark here

“Sure you do.”Bookmark here

Aubrey’s ears perked up. “He does.”Bookmark here

“Ugh. Fine.Bookmark here

We began to walk to Arenamega. I made sure to add a little bit of slouch to every step, hoping Aaron would get the message. He probably wouldn’t, though— boys never pick up on a hint.Bookmark here

“So, let’s start with something I can give an example of,” Aaron started. “Humans on Dianoct are usually divided into subspecies based on their traits. For instance, you’re a Gaian Human, like the ones that live on Earth, whereas Aubrey is what we call a Vurainoga.”Bookmark here

“Vurainoga?”Bookmark here

Aubrey nodded. “In easy words, I’m a cat-human. It’s a kinda genetic trait. And it ain’t just cats, eitha’.”Bookmark here

“They’re not common, but they show up from time to time. Aubrey, your siblings aren’t Vurainoga, are they?”Bookmark here

“Not even my twin brother.”Bookmark here

“So,” Aaron continued, “apart from Vurainoga, you have Dianian Humans and Kamunai. Dianian Humans are just humans with inherent magic, like me. Kamunai are evolved forms of humans from the later ages of Earth, like Aka and Marissa.”Bookmark here

“I thought they were elves,” I replied. “How did humans end up with pointy ears?”Bookmark here

“Global warming piled the earth up with trash. To communicate and survive amongst the garbage, humans evolved to have brighter-colored hair and pointy ears to see and hear each other more easily.”Bookmark here

“So what color is Aka’s hair under the green dye?”Bookmark here

“Aka doesn’t use hair dye.”Bookmark here

“Oh.”Bookmark here

We came to the force field in front of the hospital wing, and Aaron entered the code ‘INSURMOUNTABLE’ to open it. “There are also Kavr’ns. We call them Kavs. They’re essentially a human hivemind. They’re Class B— not illegal by any means, just to be handled with caution.”Bookmark here

“Class B?”Bookmark here

“Yes, there are three classes of sentient species. Class A includes humans, Kamunai, and most of their variants. Class B has Kavs, Umbrian Spirits, and a few others. Class C is what I’m getting to with this talk.”Bookmark here

“What do the letters mean? Are they just alphabetical?”Bookmark here

“They’re just alphabetical, yes. They signify danger. Class A is safe, Class C is illegal, Class B is in between.”Bookmark here

After taking a couple of turns, we were met with the arenas. “So, what’s in Class C?”Bookmark here

“It’s mostly just werewolves and inverts,” he said. “And before you ask— inverts are a subspecies of humans that often gain unnaturally powerful abilities which can easily used to hurt. They say power corrupts, and it has in the past, which is why we’ve got the law.”Bookmark here

I shrugged. “I was actually gonna ask about the werewolves, dumbass.”Bookmark here

“Er, alright. What about them? They’re not much different than what you’re imagining, probably.” He then recoiled at his own statement. “Depending on what your imagination conjures up…”Bookmark here

“Ew, I’m not weird. Werewolves are creepy.”Bookmark here

Aubrey sighed in relief. “Thank God yer not one ‘a those ones.”Bookmark here

“She means you’re not a lycanthrophiliac. A lycanthrophiliac is a–”Bookmark here

“I knew what she meant, moron,” I interrupted.Bookmark here

“Great. Any actual questions?”Bookmark here

“Not really. I just wanted to know why you did the cortisol checks.”Bookmark here

Aaron suddenly snapped back to reality. “Oh, yeah. That has to do with genetic lycanthropy. Basically, there are two types of werewolves. There are magical werewolves and genetic werewolves. The magic ones spread their condition through biting, like you probably know. The genetic ones simply reproduce normally, and their children have a chance to be werewolves, too.”Bookmark here

“So, what does that have to do with it?”Bookmark here

“Genetic werewolves can transform when enough cortisol is flowing through their bodies. By activating your cortisol production, I attempted to trigger a transformation, which did nothing, therefore proving you clear.”Bookmark here

Finally, we approached the large doors of Arenamega. They weren’t a forcefield— they were just large, wooden doors, built with ornate steel frames. No fancy passcode or gimmicks.Bookmark here

“Hey, Aaron, question.”Bookmark here

“Yes?”Bookmark here

“Could you have said all of that in half the words?”Bookmark here

“Er– probably, why?”Bookmark here

“Then do that next time, mansplaining jackass.”Bookmark here

The gates opened on a massive arena. A paved sand floor opened into rows upon rows of spectator seats, leading up to a large observation deck where various technologies were stored. Students stood about, talking and practicing. Marissa spotted the three of us and skipped over.Bookmark here

“You said you’d bring Aka!” she pouted at Aaron.Bookmark here

“Right, I did. Let me call him,” Aaron replied. I half-expected him to start a ritual to project sound across long distances, but when I saw the cellphone in his hand, I groaned. Perhaps there were a few similarities between the two worlds.Bookmark here

“Tell him I said hi!” Marissa said.Bookmark here

The phone rang, and Aaron put it up to his ear. “Hey, Cryojen. We’re having a mock tournament. Get to Arenamega in two minutes. Thanks.” He clicked the decline button before Aka could respond.Bookmark here

Marissa frowned. “You didn’t tell him hi.”Bookmark here

“I assumed you weren’t being literal, Kyona.”Bookmark here

“How can you mean that figuratively?!” Marissa looked like an angry puppy barking at her owner.Bookmark here

Aaron groaned, picking up his phone again. “Also, Marissa says hi,” he said. He once again declined before Aka spoke. “Happy now?”Bookmark here

“Yes, sir.”Bookmark here

Aaron pocketed his phone. “Shiera, I’m not sure if you know how duels work in the arenas. It’s two to a team, no weapons allowed. Your goal is to force both of your opponents out of the ring. It simulates keeping spirits of the shield radius.”Bookmark here

“Betcha I can explain it shorter,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

“Try, then.”Bookmark here

“Duels are 2v2 with no weapons. Get yer opponents outta the ring and ya win,” she said with a smirk.Bookmark here

I decided to try my hand at it. “2v2, no weapons, stay in the ring.”Bookmark here

Aubrey turned, ready for a challenge. “2-2, unarmed, stay in ring.”Bookmark here

It was on, then. “2, fists, ring stay.”Bookmark here

“2, none, ring.”Bookmark here

No holding back now. “Tonoring,” I announced.Bookmark here

“Tnrng.”Bookmark here

“Tnr.”Bookmark here

“Tn!”Bookmark here

“T!”Bookmark here

Aka opened the doors and watched as I violently hissed ‘T’ at Aubrey. “What are you two doing…?”Bookmark here

I gasped. “Um. We were in the middle of an argument, then you came in, and I–”Bookmark here

“Aaron mansplained and we kept shortenin’ his speech ‘till it was just ‘T’,” Aubrey said.Bookmark here

Aaron crossed his arms. “It wasn’t ‘mansplaining’. I was just explaining to Shiera–”Bookmark here

“What was the speech?” Aka cut Aaron off.Bookmark here

“It was about the rules of the tourney,” Marissa explained.Bookmark here

“Oh, 2v2, no weapons, stay in the ring, right?” He laughed. “How do you mansplain that?”Bookmark here

Aaron grimaced. “I–”Bookmark here

“Rhetorical question, high supreme lovely commander sir.”Bookmark here

“Stop calling me that. I’ll still give you that migraine.”Bookmark here

“You said the tournament’d start in two minutes,” Aka said. “Did this get in the way, or is that still happening?”Bookmark here

Aaron sighed. “Sadly, now that you’re here, we have to start. So, you guys pick partners and pair up so I can set up a bracket.”Bookmark here

I opted to pick Aka, but Marissa had already nabbed him. Aubrey would have to do. “Aubrey, partner up.”Bookmark here

“Got it.”Bookmark here

“I can just float them out of the ring and we’ll win, you know.”Bookmark here

“Don’t. Try usin’ yer bracelets on the suit. Versatile magic users know more than just their abilities.”Bookmark here

“Do I… fine, I’ll try.”Bookmark here

“Alrighty! Let’s win it, got it?”Bookmark here

If you win, I’ll tell you why I kidnapped Kori. I know you don’t care for him, but use the promise of secret information as motivation. I’d like to see you place high, at least. Understand?Bookmark here

All clear. I just hope I know enough to do anything useful. Wish me luck, Sakira.Bookmark here

You don’t need luck. You need your wits. Always be thinking three moves ahead, like in chess. Trap your opponents and shove them out.Bookmark here

Don’t worry, I’ve got this.Bookmark here


Bookmark here

…I hope.Bookmark here

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