Chapter One

The small town of Blackfrost was not the most beautiful place in the world, nor in the country of Aurodea. It's buildings, setting and architecture were not as modern and glamourous as the ones in the bigger cities like Miselle and Camidos,and that little town was almost like an ancient relic; it had retained plenty of tradition which had existed in its heart for about 2000 years already. Some of the city people even called Blackfrost a "run-down".

Now, in the heart of Blackfrost existed a private University which had been around for about 500 years. It was an ancient, yes - one which was rich in tradition, history and knowledge. It was the best school in the whole town, and everyone who wanted to be somebody would never dream of putting himself into another school other than this one.

Holstone Academy, the jewel of knowledge. The glimmer of light in the dark.

This private Academy was managed by the Millenium Earl and his family. The Earl, who was the Academy Head plus a well-known candy merchant, always wore a certain slightly annoying yet funny look on his face whenever he stepped into the school. It was as if the Academy was his playground, an amusement park which amused him to no end. And yes, no one dared to cross his boundaries. Even if they had the guts and determination to, they still had to counter another person. A certain Portugese man called Tyki Mikk, who possessed a rather suave yet sly looking face. The young man was the Head of the University Department, and had almost as much power as the Earl himself. With the two important figures running the Academy, it was no wonder that almost all went well and no in-school rebellions were staged publicly.

Holstone, though brilliant in a way, was also quite tainted in a sense. There were many "black holes" and mysteries about certain things related to the Academy, and plots and schemes. No one dared to question it out loud, or churn up any great action which would cause a great stir. It would be like calling death to one's doorstep. After all, with the Earl as a power-figure and Tyki the second knight, who would dare to challenge them?

As for Lavi, as smart as he was, he never did understand why things in Holstone Academy were the way they were. He never understood why certain things had to be done, or could never be done or said. That was all before he had officially started lessons at Holstone.

And he was about to realize why things were so warped up and crazy.

"All University Freshmen, please report to the Main Hall right now. I repeat, all University Freshmen, please report to the Main Hall right now." The speaker boomed as bunches of students hurriedly filed into the large, grand room situated in the middle of the Main-block building. Lots of chatter echoed throughout the room as everyone tried to settle down comfortably and in an orderly manner. Student leaders holding signboards and direction cards whisked through the crowd as they tried their best to keep the situation in control. Once the crowd was silent and the teachers and guests had taken their seats, the oak doors of the Main Hall then closed and locked themselves up promptly.

January 2nd, the start of school. For a large majority of students, including a certain carrot-top who was late for school. He ran quickly across the lush green lawns of the school compound and frantically began to search for the designated meeting place. The school was like a maze; even with his high IQ he wasn't able to find out where he was supposed to go. All he could do was run around aimlessly (quite), hoping for a streak of luck to hit him.

Lavi, the adopted pupil of the Town's wiseman, Bookman. He was an extremely smart youth who had managed to get himself into Holstone. Of course, that was to be expected of one who had been reading books all day long since the day he had discovered that he was living amongst thousands of books belonging to Bookman. And today, he was late because he had stayed up all night to read a novel.

Now, he was lost.

The youth banged his fists on a nearby door in exasperation. 15 minutes had passed, and Lavi felt sure that the Entrance Ceremony must have started already. A bead of sweat rolled down his forehead as he slumped down on the stone floor, feeling quite beat. He leaned his head on the wall and stared blankly at the white pillar in front of him.

"If only I had slept earlier yesterday night," he muttered, regretting his own actions. It wasn't even Friday the 13th; why was he so unlucky today? It was only the start of school, surely things weren't going to get that bad. The cool breeze which blew past him didn't seem to help things ...

Suddenly out of nowhere, a pair of dark, cold eyes eyed Lavi, giving him quite a shock. Those dark pupils seemed to penetrate through his flesh, and Lavi felt quite uncomfortable with them piercing him thoroughly. He jumped as a figure advanced onto him with folded arms. Obviously, something was up.

Lavi stared at the figure, who turned out to be a boy wearing a thick, black coat with a wide belt. Those shiny black buttons made the coat stand out somehow, and in turn, made the boy stand out even more. That long, thick black hair was tied up neatly into a high ponytail with a simple red cord. Certainly, that boy had left quite an impression on him. Even though those cold eyes didn't seem agree with Lavi very much.

"What are you doing here?" the boy asked in a demanding tone. To a bystander, it would seem that Lavi was somewhat like a dirty stray who had left mudprints all over his brand-new carpet. Lavi winced a little, and stood up quickly.

"I...kinda got lost. I can't seem to find the Main Hall, no matter where I go - " he answered sheepishly, scratching his head. The other boy stared at him with distaste, and gave a small "che".

"...This year's freshmen are kinda stupid, aren't they?" he said, sounding slightly amused, "here's one that can't even get to the Main Hall."

The redhead's face fell upon hearing the remark.

"Come on, I just couldn't find the signboards - "

"It's right behind you, dumbass," said the expressionless boy calmly, "if you had any brains to observe what was written above you, you would have gotten to the Main Hall much earlier."

A lightbulb flickered inside Lavi as he jumped up and turned around to face the wall, only to find a small, rusty sign with a three Italic letters carved onto it. The carving was quite thin and attacked viciously with rust, but other than that, everything looked rather okay, considering that Holstone had a quite a long history, including it's buildings. Lavi's jaw dropped as he saw what was written on the metal plate.

The Main Hall

"You - you can't be serious - "

"Why should I be serious over such a trivial matter?" asked the boy tonelessly, turning to walk away, "anyway, if you don't hurry up and go in, you'll miss the whole ceremony."

For a second, Lavi was speechless, until he realized that the boy wasn't going into the Hall with him. He turned around to say something, but the boy was gone. He had disappeared completely, as if he was a cloud of smoke which had dissipated into thin air. Lavi stared at the empty corridor for a moment, then knocked on the door, only to be answered by two student leaders who ushered him to a nearby bench.

"You're rather lucky, if the University Head had arrived, we wouldn't open the doors for you," they chorused, words drowned by the deafening chatter echoeing throughout the whole hall. Lavi heaved a sigh of relief, put down his bag, reached for his novel book and started reading from where he had stopped the night before. Mediella Colby's Journey Through Time.

He could not help wondering about who the mysterious, rude boy was. Such dark pearls embedded in his eyes, which made such an impact on him. In fact, Lavi was confident enough to say that the boy would have made some kind of impact everywhere he went. But that straight-cut fringe shadowed those eyes - Nevertheless, whether it was the way he dressed, the way he tied his hair, or the way those eyes announced themselves as a menacing twin-brother band, the boy had left Lavi with such a memorable impression that even when he was reading his novel, he was constantly distracted.

Why was this so, thought Lavi as turned the page thoughtfully. The boy wasn't chatty, nor loud and attention-seeking. He wasn't dressed in attractive, bright colours, or had some kind of outstanding hairstyle, like a frizzy outburst made possible with oodles of gel and hair wax. What was more, the guy hadn't been very polite, and that had been their first meeting.

Maybe it was those shiny black buttons on the coat. Or maybe, it was because that boy was the first person he had ever spoken to in Holstone Academy. Whatever it was, Lavi just could not stop the thoughts from coming. The thoughts weren't completely stoppable, though the effect was reduced after he had read four pages of his book. It lingered there, in some part of Lavi's brain, and stayed there.

A long-haired youth walked silently along the corridors until he reached a room with luxurious wooden doors. He knocked on it twice, and waited for a familiar voice to respond.

"Come on in."

Pushing the doors open, the boy walked in steadily, past elegant pastel portraits and calligraphy scrolls, as well as well-polished furniture and several jade antiques, before he came face to face with Tyki Mikk, the University Head. The latter was having a good smoke with his beloved cigars, and was busy writing a long draft report with an expensive fountain-pen. As soon as he saw the visitor, his lips curved into a smile and he blew out a thick cloud of white smoke from his mouth in a rather fashionable way.

"Have you come to visit me?"

The boy retained his expressionless look. "The ceremony is going well," he answered solemnly, "everyone is waiting for you, Mr Mikk. To make your grand appearance."

Tyki laughed softly as he put down his cigar onto the glass tray on his right. "You don't have to be so formal, my boy. After all, we aren't strangers, are we? You could do without the sarcasm, really."

"It's still school hours, Mr Mikk."

"So? There are only two people in this room at the moment - you, and me."

"I'm afraid you must leave now, or the staff will complain. So will the students."

At this point, Tyki got up from his chair, composed and relaxed. He walked over to his visitor with silent steps and stopped once he was right in front of the boy.

"I said, you don't need to get so formal. There's no need to draw such a distinct line between us, no? After all, we share a special bond which each other."

"... ... There's no bond between us," came the reply, cold and sharp.

"Oh, yes there is," replied Tyki confidently, "you know it yourself. And, my boy," the Portuguese man reached out and touched the younger boy's lip lightly, "You should really learn to smile more. I haven't seen you smile for quite a long time..."

The boy cringed and stepped back abruptly in response. "You should go now or you'll have nowhere to look when everyone starts talking about your tardiness as a University Head," he spat.

Tyki laughed. "Now, that's the real you, isn't it? Such a rude never change, do you? Relax, I'll get there as soon as possible. But I do see a need to settle something else more important than the ceremony ... first. " His right hand began to glow with a violet light, and he placed that very hand on the boy's heart. The latter, taken by surprise, seemed to want to retreat quickly, but could not do so.

"...why did you not come to me earlier? Your life power is draining out. There's only 10% left in your storage inventory. You know it yourself, how life threatening this situation is."

"... ..."

"Or do you not care about your life at all?"

"... ..."

"Look here, you are too precious an existence to die, for a few reasons. You are needed here. Which means, you need to recharge. Now."

"No will do - "

"Now." Tyki emphasised his point clear and thorough. He looked solemn now, compared to his relaxed look he had worn a few moments ago. The boy was obviously shaken, but did not move or show any sign of weakness. Finally, he turned to leave in an act of defiance, but was caught forcefully by the arm by Tyki, and dragged off to a small room with a few machines and plugs and wire pads. Tyki grabbed a blue and white wire pad and connected it to a machine, then unbuttoned the bewildered boy's coat and crisp white shirt, revealing a large, spreading tattoo on his chest. He placed the wire pad on the tattoo and turned on the switch of the machine. A power current of some sort flowed through the wire and started its recharging business.

"Stay here until you are fully charged, or you will suffer the consequences of leaving the machine too early. I need to go to the Main Hall now, so I can't recharge your inventory myself. Tease will make sure you comply." A small violet butterfly flew out from his pocket and hovered in the air.

"You - "

"You stay here until you are fully charged, or Tease will bite you," said Tyki as he turned to go out of the room. He fixed his coat and necktie, smiled once again before he shut the door.

"...It's all for your own good, Kanda."