Mahō no Gakkō -School of Magic-
“Am I what?”
“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.”
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.
“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.”
“You realize I just said all that to Milliheim, don’t you? All you had to do was listen in.”
“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.”
“Because that’s actually what happened! And I don’t care about Kori because I know he’s gonna be fine!”
“How do you know that?”
“I just– He always is! No one’s trying to kill him!”
“Maybe he’s already dead! Maybe you killed him and possessed Shiera to make sure she wouldn’t freak out!”
Sakira, what the hell do I do?! Why does she think I’m possessed?!
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.
How do I prove to her I’m not?!
Tell her something that happened before you were inhabited.
I already have!
Something she hasn’t mentioned while you were.
“Uh… I– your brother’s name is Niko! You told me that before I got my powers!”
“That all you got?”
“I remember Marissa! I don’t think I’ve seen her today!”
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.
“I guess it was some kind of awakening,” I reasoned.
“I ain’t never seen an ‘awakening’. We’ll just say ya didn’t know ya had ‘em. That makes more sense.”
“Like you said before, yeah.”
Interesting. She didn’t mention inhabitation.
Should I ask her about it?
Ask it indirectly if you must.
If you want to prove you humans aren’t stupid, try figuring something out yourself.
“…How… how does possession work, anyway…? Can an evil spirit just enter you?” I asked tentatively.
That’s exactly what I would have asked. You’re learning, Shiera.
“I mean, yeah, basically. Evil spirit basically takes over yer consciousness. Does whatever the hell it wants to then leaves.”
“That’s terrifying…” Sakira, could you just take over my body any time you want?
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.
That’s good to know. But, uh, you still could, couldn’t you?
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.
“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.”
“What else can spirits do?”
Aubrey started counting her fingers. “They can see ghosts, phase through walls, fly, communicate through dreams, use telepathy…”
“I thought they were ghosts.”
“I meant they can see ghosts of humans.”
“So ghosts are real?”
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.
So ghosts don’t exist on Earth, is what you’re saying.
If they came to Earth through a rift, they could. But it’s unlikely.
“If they can phase through walls, why can’t they phase through shields?”
“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’.”
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.
“Oh, heya, DeAndrick. You lookin’ ta talk ta Milliheim?”
Aaron heaved— he’d been running quite a bit. “No, that’s not it. I had to warn you, Aubrey.”
“Warn me of what?”
“I think Shiera’s possessed!”
I snickered. “Oh no, I’m possessed by a big bad evil spirit guy, aaaaahhhhh.”
Oh nooooo, you’re possessed by a big bad evil spirit guy, aaaaahhhh.
“Shiera, the way you threw me against the table, and the red eyes, and… I–”
“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.”
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!”
“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.”
“How do you remember…” he cut off, embarrassed.
“Because I’m not possessed, you idiot.”
“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.”
“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.
“Why’s it called ‘Omega’?”
“It’s the last arena in the hallway, plus they used ta have executions there. Not anymore, though.”
Aaron cleared his throat. “Are you joining or not?”
“Shiera probably needs the practice, so yeah, sign us up,” Aubrey said.
“Great. It starts in around twenty minutes, so be there in ten.” Aaron started to walk away.
“Hey. Wait, can I ask a question?” I called out.
“Depends on the question.”
“The cortisol thing. Why the hell do you guys have to raise people’s cortisol? I don’t get it.”
“Oh, it’s– uh, it’s…“ Aubrey stopped. “Can we…”
“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?”
“Preferably not from you.”
“I know more than Aubrey does.”
“Sure you do.”
Aubrey’s ears perked up. “He does.”
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.
“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.”
Aubrey nodded. “In easy words, I’m a cat-human. It’s a kinda genetic trait. And it ain’t just cats, eitha’.”
“They’re not common, but they show up from time to time. Aubrey, your siblings aren’t Vurainoga, are they?”
“Not even my twin brother.”
“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.”
“I thought they were elves,” I replied. “How did humans end up with pointy ears?”
“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.”
“So what color is Aka’s hair under the green dye?”
“Aka doesn’t use hair dye.”
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.”
“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.”
“What do the letters mean? Are they just alphabetical?”
“They’re just alphabetical, yes. They signify danger. Class A is safe, Class C is illegal, Class B is in between.”
After taking a couple of turns, we were met with the arenas. “So, what’s in Class C?”
“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.”
I shrugged. “I was actually gonna ask about the werewolves, dumbass.”
“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…”
“Ew, I’m not weird. Werewolves are creepy.”
Aubrey sighed in relief. “Thank God yer not one ‘a those ones.”
“She means you’re not a lycanthrophiliac. A lycanthrophiliac is a–”
“I knew what she meant, moron,” I interrupted.
“Great. Any actual questions?”
“Not really. I just wanted to know why you did the cortisol checks.”
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.”
“So, what does that have to do with it?”
“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.”
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.
“Hey, Aaron, question.”
“Could you have said all of that in half the words?”
“Er– probably, why?”
“Then do that next time, mansplaining jackass.”
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.
“You said you’d bring Aka!” she pouted at Aaron.
“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.
“Tell him I said hi!” Marissa said.
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.
Marissa frowned. “You didn’t tell him hi.”
“I assumed you weren’t being literal, Kyona.”
“How can you mean that figuratively?!” Marissa looked like an angry puppy barking at her owner.
Aaron groaned, picking up his phone again. “Also, Marissa says hi,” he said. He once again declined before Aka spoke. “Happy now?”
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.”
“Betcha I can explain it shorter,” Aubrey said.
“Duels are 2v2 with no weapons. Get yer opponents outta the ring and ya win,” she said with a smirk.
I decided to try my hand at it. “2v2, no weapons, stay in the ring.”
Aubrey turned, ready for a challenge. “2-2, unarmed, stay in ring.”
It was on, then. “2, fists, ring stay.”
“2, none, ring.”
No holding back now. “Tonoring,” I announced.
Aka opened the doors and watched as I violently hissed ‘T’ at Aubrey. “What are you two doing…?”
I gasped. “Um. We were in the middle of an argument, then you came in, and I–”
“Aaron mansplained and we kept shortenin’ his speech ‘till it was just ‘T’,” Aubrey said.
Aaron crossed his arms. “It wasn’t ‘mansplaining’. I was just explaining to Shiera–”
“What was the speech?” Aka cut Aaron off.
“It was about the rules of the tourney,” Marissa explained.
“Oh, 2v2, no weapons, stay in the ring, right?” He laughed. “How do you mansplain that?”
Aaron grimaced. “I–”
“Rhetorical question, high supreme lovely commander sir.”
“Stop calling me that. I’ll still give you that migraine.”
“You said the tournament’d start in two minutes,” Aka said. “Did this get in the way, or is that still happening?”
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.”
I opted to pick Aka, but Marissa had already nabbed him. Aubrey would have to do. “Aubrey, partner up.”
“I can just float them out of the ring and we’ll win, you know.”
“Don’t. Try usin’ yer bracelets on the suit. Versatile magic users know more than just their abilities.”
“Do I… fine, I’ll try.”
“Alrighty! Let’s win it, got it?”
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?
All clear. I just hope I know enough to do anything useful. Wish me luck, Sakira.
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.
Don’t worry, I’ve got this.