“When do I get out again?” Kendal asked of her father.
“Another few hours of observation,” Ranagi replied before looking out the window. He understood why she was anxious to leave.
As the Restricted Access Hospital was set across from the All Access Hospital, and both were framed up against rock faces, there wasn’t much of a view to be seen. Hospitals weren’t much of a place for views, anyways. The Simple fact of the matter was that the Hospital was boring. That was an undisputed fact that Ranagi Kaie held deep in his heart. After all of the many years that he’d brought Kendal to the main island’s hospital to check on her always changing magic levels…
And now it was over. He hardly could believe it. Kendal had nearly died but now she was… Cured?? Not entirely, there was still some Pyromander Flame Magic swirling around in his daughter, but… it was a Different situation than before. Different was the word. It was different, but better.
Hergie’s final plan had mostly worked- not exactly what she’d promised originally years ago, but the end result was close enough. Close enough. They’d spent years forgetting that absorbing it wasn’t necessarily the only means of getting rid of the persistent, cursed type of magic.
Destroying it, on the other hand… Converting it?
While the magic Hecate had given to Ayako to completely cure Kendal had not gotten rid of it all, what small amount was left was Contained. And as he’d reminded himself many times the last few days, Kendal’s Lycanthropic transformation had not been under normal circumstances to begin with. Hergie’s promises had almost certainly been under the provision of a controlled set of circumstances.
Was that even a thing with the Creators involved? What about the involvement of the Flame Princess who was still unaccounted for?
Ranagi Kaie decided that it wasn’t worth arguing the semantics of everything, and was just happy that Ayako had managed to save Kendal from dying earlier than expected. And if Kendal was saved from that far future death…?
He was going to be happy regardless of whether Kendal looked like a fox or a wolf or a human. As long as she was alive and-
“Huh? What?” Ranagi shook his head.
“You spaced out there for a minute.” Kendal’s ears twitched with the annoyance she kept out of her voice. Ranagi suspected his daughter would have to learn to suppress those reactions eventually.
“Sorry, I was just… thinking,” Ranagi shook his head. “How things are different now.”
“Heh, yeah…” Kendal smiled sadly as she looked across the room towards the coma bound Tsukia. “Maybe now my future hospital trips will be visits only?”
“Hopefully,” Ranagi nodded. And hopefully, Tsukia would awaken soon, too. The poor girl had been through more than enough trauma in the last week to last a life time. Time to change the subject. “Want me to go get lunch before you’re released?” Ranagi asked.
“Sure,” Kendal nodded.
“Kana suggested I get pizza or something, but I’m guessing you’re not in the mood for that?” Ranagi guessed.
“Pizza…” Kendal stuck her tongue out, and her ears flattened in disgust. “Not after almost getting cooked like one!”
“Beetle’s then?” That was simple enough, wasn’t it?
Kendal nodded, then smiled and sang, “Bagels With Cream Cheese, Please!”
Getting lunch, however, required leaving the hospital area and heading for the Way-gate. The walk from hospital buildings to the Way-gate wasn’t too long, but it was long enough to make Ranagi wish they’d put in some food stores on this island rather than focusing them all on the other one. Sure, he understood the need for security, but still… there was such a thing as too much walking on an empty stomach.
The Way-gate plaza was the center of the inhabited part of this particular island, Yuugo Yisela. Why it wasn’t closer to the Hospital, he had no idea. Who had designed this place?? The layout of everything was enough to drive him insane, and he’d like to punch whoever had made this layout in the nose.
…Actually, given that he had now seen what Hecate normally looked like- ‘normally’ being a collage of string and metal bones- then it was entirely possible that the Pathfinder had designed it that way intentionally as a way to ward off intruders.
The Way-gate shrine was like all Way-gate shrines across the world: tall, square, carved out of a massive chunk of solid obsidian rock and carved with intricate runes. As with every time before it, as Kaie activated the Way-gate, he got the impression that the twin gates on the Mystryal islands seemed… older, somehow.
Older in the way that it felt ancient beyond the ancient gates that had been around for just about as long as the Mystryal Agency and Academy had been. Even the magic in use to connect the twin gates always seems different than when connecting to any other waygate across the globe- stronger, powerful. “Different,” but still overall, simply “Older.”
Opening the portal with a single call to the other Island’s name- Kono Yisela- it snaps open with a snarling hiss, and then the other side ripples into existence. A tear in space unlike any others. Stepping through it is as simple as taking a step. There was no jarring sensation of disorientation from a change in air pressure, or altitude, even though there definitely was one when going from one island to another. Kono Yisela’s way-gate was set up atop a hill overlooking everything else, while Yuugo Yisela’s was a bit closer to sea level. The breeze blew up against Kaie’s face, and he sighed aloud at the feeling.
It would be a longer walk this time.
Two bagels with cream cheese- the standard food for people going to and fro through the Way-gates between destinations. Quick and easy to eat, with the only delay being the magical toasting process and the utterly mundane slathering of cream cheese onto the bread.
Mikari Yuki and Ranagi Kaie passed each other by as they respectively exited and entered the shop known to all as “Beetle’s Donuts.” Barely a nod in passing. The look on the Imp’s face told Kaie that she was angry with something, but she did give a small parting smile to acknowledge their brief encounter.
Mikari left the shop and headed back up the path to the Kono Yisela Way-gate, passing groups of students also were armed with bags of bread-stuffs from the oddly named doughnut shop, clearly evident by the logo of a red and orange beetle on each and every bag. It was the staple food store that students heading to class got food from when commuting.
Well, for the students that hadn’t eaten in their own apartments, that is. For Mikari Yuki, however, today’s breakfast had been preempted by the talk with the Academy’s head magic teacher, reminding her of the school’s insisting that she retake classes on the shock spells. Then other classes surfaced, and now, later in the day, with lunch looming and that Alcor damned remedial class coming up right on its heels, Mikari had little choice but to eat and run like some first year who didn’t know their way around yet.
Stepping through the Way-gate back to the Academy and Agency island, Mikari felt the brief charge of energy across her skin and smiled. It was always a welcome feeling, especially when life wasn’t going her way on a given day.
Days like today, really.
Why nobody believed that the spell just backfired, she didn’t know. What did it even matter? Muiri Nori was dead now, by the hands of a rampaging fire demon. Nobody could complain about the outcome, and besides- Mikari had come forwards to tell the spell teachers about the spell backfire potential in the first place! Sometimes, it felt like Mizar and Alcor were testing her for some grand, but hidden away, fate…
Or maybe it was just because Faye had rubbed off on her enough that Mikari had picked up more than her own fair share of bad habits.
Mikari rolled her eyes at that thought as she walked up the path from the Way-gate towards the training grounds. Past the Medical and Science labs, past the Academy building proper, then hopping off of the road and walking through the lawn towards the training yard’s crater-shaped enclosure, and the yard within.
The Training Yard itself was just just down a short set of stairs that went down the crater wall. How such a crater had been made, Mikari had no clue, but the placement of it allowed for some of the more dangerous magic spells to be practiced in safety.
As she had gotten there a bit early, classes had yet to start, and everyone else who was early were eating or goofing off in the free space. And so, Mikari ate her lunch in solitude while she watched an Undine boy utterly trounce a dragon in hand-to-hand fisticuffs- both were wearing first year uniforms.
“Nice jab there, Dirk!” The Dragon grinned as he was pulled back up. “I almost didn’t see it coming!”
“Sure you didn’t, Jake,” The Undine rolled his eyes, then checked the time. “Alright everyone!” He called out. “Anyone else want to take a go at me?”
Nobody volunteered. Nobody volunteered so hard that an Undine girl- Mikari thought her last name might have been either Pina or Nita- coughed loudly and called out, “Just put the sword up before you hurt someone, Dirk!”
“I’m not going to hurt someone, Olive!” Dirk scowled and turned towards his fellow Undine who had yelled that out.
“Not so fast, Mister Willy!” And then a hand clamped over the poor Undine’s shoulder.
“Aw crap-” Dirk’s eyes dilated in horror.
The Sylph teacher, Osh’awitz Waatt, had materialized out of thin air- or appeared to at least. Mikari had taken the man’s standard magic classes enough times to realize the man’s favorite cloaking technique had been played to utter perfection against the two first years who had no idea how they’d been caught.
“Now then, you seem fairly knowledgeable in martial arts,” Mister Waatt said. “But I’m curious. How good are you at swords?”
“Well,” Dirk blinked, and then replied, “I’m fairly good, Sir.”
“Do you feel confident in being able to disarm an armed opponent with nothing but a blade?” Mister Waatt asked.
“Yes, Sir, I do.” The Undine nodded.
“Really now,” The Sylph’s eyes narrowed. “And what of a pure magic user?”
“…Why would I need magic to defeat them?” Dirk asked. “I’ll take down anyone before they get a spell off at me.”
“Ah, I can see why you’re in my remedial course during your first year, then,” The teacher smirked. He then began to pace. “Some of you have been in my particular brand of classes such as these for some time, but, ah, I’m seeing some new faces.” He twisted his left wrist, and with a flash of light green magic, held a long sword in his hand. With a swish and a flick, he brought it up to point upwards, with the blade visually bisecting his face into a left and right. Several people ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed at the magic. The dragon boy, Jake, gulped in concern for his friend.
‘Well this is different from what I was expecting,’ Mikari mused.
“Now then,” Mister Waatt turned his sword around and offered the hilt to Dirk. “Could you tell me at a glance if this blade was enchanted with magic?”
“…” Dirk stared at the sword being offered to him. “Well… you summoned it by magic-”
“Perfectly ordinary summoning spell, I assure you,” The teacher narrowed his eyes. “Disregard that fact. Assume I drew it from a sheath instead.”
“Well… Okay.” The boy took a breath, then said, “I don’t see any glowing aura on it. So… no? Not enchanted?”
“Then you would be dead.” And with that, Mister Waatt twirled the sword back into a proper grip and then gave a flourish of a swing- “HOOOOO~RAAAAAA!” -and then a massive burst of solid ice leaped off of the blade’s tip, flying off into the distance before crashing into the wall of the crater.
Slowly, but surely, people began clapping.
“I…Ice enchantment?” Dirk hazarded a guess.
“Incorrect!” And then the teacher did another motion, launching a single burst of lightning out, striking at the same spot. “So incorrect, I should say, as to call it ‘Dead Wrong’! The Sword is not enchanted!”
“W-WHAT THE HELL, MAN!?” Dirk cried out in terror as the teacher then twirled and pointed the tip of the sword at his face.
“That would be you making the fatal mistake of making an assumption about what an object’s enchantment is. That is to say, this weapon was not enchanted at all!” Mister Waatt flourished his sword away, and disappeared it with another flash of magic. “Students, today, our class is one much different from the classes you’ve taken at our academy thus far. Some of you are here in your first year for showing an astonishing ignorance towards the magic classes you’ve taken thus far.” He glanced at Mikari. “Others? You are here because you’ve reported an instability in your spells that no others have thus far reported.” He then snapped his fingers, and a long sword similar to the recently dismissed sword appeared, stabbed into the ground right at Mikari’s feet. Mikari, of course, took a step back in surprise. “Miss Yuki, take the sword, please,” Mister Waatt said, even as he summoned another different sword into his right hand. “I would like you to demonstrate to Mister Willy why his assumptions are incorrect on his preconceptions on magic.”
“But I’ve never used a sword before in my life!” Mikari protested.
“Exactly why I chose you for this task,” Mister Waatt explained as simply as was physically possible.
“Fine,” With a sigh, Mikari did exactly that- grabbing the sword from the ground, and walking towards the center of the crater. Despite her claim that she had never used a sword before in her current life, the way her weight shifted almost instinctively upon holding a weighted weapon hinted that she must have used one in a previous life.
“Now then,” Mister Waatt began talking as he showed Dirk the proper way to hold the sword by way of forcing the poor boy to hold the sword properly. “In a recent case, Miss Yuki, you claimed to have held a shooting-form shock spell in sphere form for over a minute, before the spell spontaneously exploded in a suspects face.”
“T-That’s correct,” Mikari’s face went red slightly as she felt all eyes falling on her.
“You reported this as a flaw in the spell, yes?” Mister Waatt asked as he took a few steps back to observe the distance between the two future duelists.
“I did, sir,” Mikari nodded. It wasn’t at all like when she’d channeled a shock spell into a rock back home. It was a completely different skill.
“Interesting,” Mister Waatt smirked. “I would like you to channel that spell into your sword, and hold it back from release as you did back then on the island.” Mikari was too busy staring at her teacher like he was insane, and so completely missed the look of pants wetting terror on Dirk’s face.
“Uh- sir!” Jake began.
“Yes, mister O’pool?” Mister Waatt inquired.
“Are you sure this is safe?” Jake asked.
“Mister O’pool?” Mister Waatt raised an eyebrow.
“Do you wish to duel the winner?” Mister Waatt observed as Jake quickly absconded to the furthest possible distance away from the center of the training ground. “Now then,” the Sylph teacher looked to Mikari and Dirk. “Prepare to duel, beginning on my mark.” They waited for a few moments, easing into ready stances, then, Mister Waatt called out: “And… BEGIN!”
For a few more precious seconds, the two students stood there. Dirk was unsure of how to begin to even carry a sword, despite his earlier claim of knowing how to use a sword. Mikari, meanwhile, thought back to a certain day back in Rainbow Line when she’d been throwing rocks into the bay–
And then the sword began to glow purple as small bolts of electricity began to shoot across the metallic surface. Mikari gave a smirk, and Dirk took a faltering step backwards.
“Begin,” Mister Waatt ordered. Mikari took up a stance and then- FWOOSH! -accelerated at speed with a linear strike. Dirk dodged to the side.
“SHIT!” Dirk’s eyes widened in horror as Mikari changed direction by stopping on a dime and swung with a roar. “Mizar save me!” Dirk threw his sword up to block.
“NOT A CHANCE!” Mikari cried out before pushing forwards with a swinging blow towards the center of mass…!
Dirk hastily tried blocking with his sword and- ZHAAAAAPP!! -realized immediately how bad of an idea that was. A pure explosion of electrical energy emerged from the tip of the sword, and it mushroomed outwards like a shock wave, running through the poor Undine and briefly paralyzing him, causing him to let go of the sword and fell backwards onto the ground.
“ENOUGH!” Mister Waatt called out, and Mikari dropped the sword to the ground immediately, looking surprised at what had just happened.
“Oww…” Dirk groaned. “What hit me…?”
“That was a most certainly unexpected turn of events,” Mister Waatt said as he helped the Undine up from the ground. “Never in my life have I ever seen a shock spell actually be successfully channeled through a sword on the first try!”
“…Um, Mister Waatt,” Mikari coughed. “That wasn’t my first try for something like that, and, ah, that was completely different from what I did back on my last case.”
“It was?” The teacher asked, raising an eyebrow. “Please explain how it was different.”
“Charging an object like that… I’m just forcing the shock spell into the object itself. That’s stable,” Mikari explained. “But what happened on the island was me holding a shock spell and not discharging it into anything. It wasn’t stable at all. It exploded without my input..”
“You have a great magical potential then,” Mister Waatt smirked. “Anyone who can overload a simple shock spell by holding it and not releasing it simply must have a large pool of magicka to overwhelm the safeties of the spell.”
“But-” Mikari blinked. “What? That’s not what I said at all.”
“Similarly,” Mister Waatt continued on. “That you claim to have done such a charged object enchantment with a spell before… At what age?”
“Once I learned shock, obviously. So, about when I was twelve or thirteen?” Mikari shrugged. “I usually just used it to charge up rocks when I threw them at the bay back home.”
“Interesting,” Mister Waatt mused. “Such feats have not been seen but a few times over the course of history since the Cataclysm, especially at that young of an age.” He summoned his sword from before and held it up for all to see. “The techniques I used earlier were using a very similar technique- using only different spells to empower the weapon. It took me several hours before I first managed this trick, and that was under intense training. Mizar herself pioneered the technique, and many people over the centuries have tried to replicate it. With extreme skill, study, and a huge magical potential, it can and has been done.” His eyes narrowed on the Imp girl, “However, given that I can count on my one hand the amount of people who have done this technique, and that some skills, especially ones that are hard learned like this one, tend to carry over… I suspect you are a reincarnation of just such a person.”
“Y-” Mikari just stared at him. “You’re serious?”
“Where else would your sudden skill with a blade have come from despite never picking one up before?” The Sylph asked, gesturing at the sword.
“Well.. I…” Mikari glanced down at the sword on the ground. He had a point there, she supposed.
“We will come back to the subject of kept skills over Reincarnation later, however.” Mister Waatt turned his attention to the rest of the class, and asked, “For now, who here would like to attempt this technique next?”
Predictably, many hands shot upwards.