—A Passing of Time—
Days within the Temple of Instruction were long ones, the hours of spell studies fading in and out of many lectures the students had to endure. The topics of these lectures were varied, some touching on the history of the land and others the nature of the elements. They were mainly given by a teacher, most of the instructor's lines coming from the frayed textbooks which held the information they often failed to remember. Once in a rare while, though, the students would be graced by the presence of a more official member of the Reijukai.
A boy in the second row sighed. It was not a sigh of boredom, but rather one of happiness. They had such a speaker in their classroom today, and he couldn't have been more pleased. She was a young woman hailing from Eludina, who looked at things with soft silver eyes and kept her lavender hair cut short. Narina was her name, an achieved water caster who had risen in the ranks of the Reijukai at a commendable rate and was now a candidate for Protection Sage. The moment she started speaking, the boy was love-struck. Narina needed no textbooks to recite their lines. She drew all knowledge from her mind alone, and spoke with an inciting clarity that drew him in like the tide of the sea. She dressed like a water caster was expected to, priestess attire covering her figure. Bits of frayed cloth brushed against her ankles as she strode from one end of the desk to the other, speaking flawlessly. The student watched her keenly, the woman's words falling on deaf ears as he tried to imagine what lay underneath layers of white.
"Just as the four elements of this world keep everything balanced, everyone in this room has a role to play. The temple you decide to join, the element you devout yourself to- it will shape your very person" Narina took a small breath of air. Her lecture was about to come to a close. "So I hope for you all to ask yourself what you wish to do here. Will you be a stone caster? Will you stand strong beside your comrades, waiting to assist? Can you become capable of trapping a raging demon with your spells? If you fail, it may be the end…but some of you may choose to become a water caster like myself. Should someone fail and injuries arise, it is a water caster's duty- or rather, their sole desire is to heal. Wind casters control the forces of the air, moving the unmovable- a valuable power, but also one difficult to control, like the wind itself. You all have the potential to be one of these things…but how far that potential can carry you is up yourself." the woman raised a hand to her heart, smiling softly. "I have devoted an uncountable number of seasons to increasing my skill, striving to save one more life…and I am still striving…"
The boy who had been lost in his own imagination drew back from fantasy as an unexpectedly sad expression crossed the priestess' face. Her silver eyes trailed along the floor, as though searching for something.
"Um, Narina-sama?" a girl in the fourth row raised her hand meekly. "What about fire casters? What would you say their role is?"
The lavender haired woman regained herself, gracing her audience with another smile as the watchful student in the second row saw her hand fist into her chest. "Ah, yes…fire casters are often seen as an opposing force for healers such as myself- fire is the opposite of water, after all…as such, they could be described as destroyers"
"Destroyers?" the girl's curious repetition of the word said she was confused by it. "You mean if someone becomes a fire caster, it'll make them a bad person?"
Narina shook her head softly. "Not at all. The end of life is part of life itself. I pray each day to keep my loved ones from suffering, but I know that times of sorrow must come for harmony to exist. Fire casters are the strength of the Reijukai in that they are not afraid to-"
The doors at the back of the audience hall swung open and a man in white robes walked through them, embarrassment and worry on his face. His name was Aurus, an assistant of the lavender haired woman he was currently approaching. He was most likely here to deliver her a message. What kind of message it could have been to have him interrupt a student lecture, however, was a mystery.
Narina stepped forward to meet him at the edge of the platform, leaning down slightly to catch his whispered words. She seemed surprised, murmuring something back to her assistant quietly. Even as he leaned out of his chair, the boy in the second row couldn't hear what they were saying, and it was doubtful those in the first row could either. The woman's surprise became concern without warning, and a cool ball of something formed in the boy's stomach as he watched the young woman walk swiftly towards the exit.
"I'm terribly sorry, everyone" she said before leaving, one hand on the doors as she looked back at the numerous students in the room. "Something urgent has come up- I have to leave, but please keep my words with you"
And then the master water caster Narina was gone.
As she moved through the halls towards the Soul Shift Mirror that resided within the Temple of Instruction, Narina felt a flood of anxiety wash over her. Aurus had burst into her lecture and told her that there was someone at the temple of the Mizu Ten demanding to see her. She had not the slightest idea of who it could be, which threw her into a bout of worry. Was it someone wondering about her ties to Mattie and Rudius? Were they looking for Kishiru? Or perhaps it was Ryuuin they sought, who had gone into recluse soon after the events from seven years ago had come to an end. None of those things sounded good. But what could she tell them, other then that they were dear friends whom she hadn't seen in years?
"Are you certain this person didn't give you his name, Aurus-san?" she inquired as she looked at the assistant walking beside her, a gleam of sweat on his brow.
"Well, yes" the man said. "He said you would know who he was- he was quite rude about it! I was worried he might become hostile if I didn't do as he said…"
The lavender haired woman nodded shortly. "I understand. If this person wants to meet with me, then I shouldn't deny them"
"Although, he looked like he was from Agnes, Narina-sama. That is, his ears were…"
Narina felt her heart skip a beat. Agnes- she only knew two people from that village. Jeene, who rarely left home in favor of watching over her six year old child, and Gashuu…who had disappeared mere hours after the battle with the Luciffis. The woman swallowed the oncoming tears. It couldn't be. "Do you remember anything else about his appearance?" she asked, holding her voice steady as she signaled for the shifting spell to be initiated.
"His hair was white...but I can't recall anything else. Do you know him, Narina-sama?"
The large mirror in front of them glowed with magic, beaconing Narina forward. Her feet moved to Aurus' words with unrealized urgency, and without answering her assistant's question she found herself within the temple of the Mizu Ten, where she had studied her practice for nearly nine years. The light of the mirror behind her faded away moments after Aurus rushed after her. Wordlessly, the young woman headed for the main entrance.
It couldn't be him- but it had to be him. She wanted it to be him. It was dizzying, and painful, but she couldn't keep her hopes at bay. Narina fisted a hand at her breast, willing her heartbeat to slow itself. The entrance hall of the temple was in view, the images of cloudy skies and islands suspended in them reflected on the marble floor. A man was leaning against a nearby pillar, his stark white hair standing out against the scenery. He had his arms crossed over his chest, one foot tapping the floor impatiently as a number of guards watched him. The silver eyed woman quickened her pace, the control of her heart fading as she unclenched her hand, fingers shaking. At the sound of rushed footfalls the white haired figure looked towards her, sharp blue eyes settling on Narina as she came to a stop in front of him. She held her breath, feeling lost within seven years worth of things to say to the man meeting her gaze.
"About time you got here!" Gashuu snapped, stepping away from the pillar whilst keeping his arms crossed. "What the fuck took you so long?"
Narina lifted a hand to her mouth, lips trembling. "I…I...!" tears flooded her eyes, a sob escaping her throat as a second hand rose to muffle it.
Just as she was about to fall into crying completely, a change in the fire caster's demenor caught her attention- a flash of something showing in his eyes. Narina stopped a whimper from arising and hastily wiped away her tears. Her moist silver eyes ran over the man in alarm, her previous emotions pushed aside. Stepping close to him, Narina put a hand on either side of Gashuu's face and looked into his eyes with all the intensity she could muster.
"O-oi!" the blue eyed man sputtered.
"Narina-sama?!" she heard Aurus exclaim from behind.
She made the distance between their noses even smaller before speaking. "What's wrong?" the young woman demanded.
After a minute of boggled staring, Gashuu shoved her away gruffly. "The hell does that mean!"
"Your skin is pale, you're sweating, and I could feel you shaking to hold steady just now…you're hurt!"
"I'm fine!" the man growled.
"Please don't be stubborn about this!" Narina pleaded, attempting to move his arms aside. "I want to help!"
Just as Gashuu started to bark back a retort he grabbed his side, slumping against the pillar at his back. The man's features twisted in pain, his blue eyes wrenching shut as he forced out a breath of air. Narina hurriedly pried his hand away, his retaliation much weaker now as she shaped a thin amount of ice in her hand and cut open his tunic. The young woman let out a breathless gasp as blood was revealed to her, soaking poorly wrapped bandages. Had she come any later, she would have caught it leaking through his clothes.
Wasting no time, Narina slung the man's arm over her shoulder. "Aurus-san, help me carry him to a private treatment room!" she ordered, her assistant rushing to Gashuu's other side and copying her.
They moved quickly and carefully, the fire caster's consciousness slipping away from him as they neared their destination. Finally the trio entered a closed room and settled the bleeding man in bed, sheets and blankets all underneath his body. The lavender haired woman continued to tear away his clothes, forgetting her own modesty in the face of possible infection. Despite her training and experience, the girl couldn't help but grimace as blood started to show on the bedding.
"U…um…" Aurus had been motionless since Gashuu had touched the bed, and was now looking at the scene in bewilderment. "Narina-sama…t-this is…?"
"Have the High Priest come here as soon as possible" Narina instructed as she peeled away the bandages covering her patient's abdomen. "Tell him that Gashuu Noun from Agnes is here"
"Y-yes, of course!" he rushed to leave.
The man stopped at the door, his face flushed. "Yes, Narina-sama?"
The lavender haired woman looked up from where her hands shimmered. "I want you to review your teachings. You should have noticed he was unwell the moment you saw him…" Narina looked back to the unconscious man, hiding the tears that started to slip down her cheeks. "…If something like this happens again, I will remove your assistant status"
Aurus was then silent as he stepped out of the room. The door clicked shut, and it was the last noise Narina heard that night other than Gashuu's pained breaths of air and her own soft cries.
Narina slowly opened her eyes as daylight spilled through the window across from her. She had taken a seat beside Gashuu's bed, intending to rest her eyes for only a moment. It was now evident that she had fallen asleep, and remained asleep for several hours. The young woman straightened herself, feeling stiff from having slept in a chair. She was not all that surprised to see a pale haired man standing beside her, observing the sleeping fire caster with calm concern. His eyes shifted towards her, and he offered the woman a faint smile.
"Silverus-sama…" she murmured, not entirely sure what to say. "When did you arrive?"
Silverus went back to watching the rise and fall of Gashuu's chest. "Shortly before midnight. I decided to let you rest"
Narina stared at her feet apologetically. "I…I'm very sorry!" she tried.
"You needn't be. His wounds have healed remarkably within the last few hours- you did well"
The young woman cast her silver eyes on the resting figure, nodding at the High Priest's words after a moment. They remained in silence for a long while, the creak of a door interrupting it. Both water casters looked towards the room's entrance, Narina's assistant poking his head in nervously. Clearing his throat, the man stepped inside completely with a tray in hand.
"I though you and the High Priest might like some tea, Narina-sama…" Aurus explained uncomfortably. "I also brought water for the- the patient, should he wake up soon"
Narina got to her feet, ignoring the aching of her joints as she accepted a warm cup. "Thank you, Aurus-san" the woman told him sincerely. "I thought about what was said last night and feel my words were too harsh. I'm sure you know your teachings well, and I'm sorry…I was being too emotional about the situation"
"N-no, that's not true at all!" red tinted the lower ranked healer's face. "I'll definitely be more diligent from now on, Narina-sama!"
Silverus took his cup of tea from the grinning assistant, who then placed the tray on the bedside table. A lone glass of water sat on it, waiting to be drunk by the young man who had yet to awaken. The three stood quietly for some time, and after taking a small sip of her drink the lavender haired woman set it aside and folded her hands together. Looking at Silverus, her eyes conveyed to him a deep emotion that couldn't be described with words.
"Silverus-sama…do you know-" Narina paused, gathering up her words carefully. "Do you know why Gashuu-san has come here?"
The pale haired man met her eyes. "I'm not aware of the reason…he didn't say?"
The priestess shook her head sadly. "He didn't say anything…he didn't even want to tell me he was hurt…" her voice became weak and Narina lifted a hand to her wetted cheeks. "I only…wish I knew why…"
The High Priest looked at the upset woman knowingly, closing his eyes for a moment before placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. Although outsiders to their experiences would not have understood it, Narina's words meant many things. There were questions that they wanted the answers to, and Gashuu's unexpected return only brought more.
Seven years ago, the Luciffis had used the twins Rudius and Mattie as tools to take revenge on the Reijukai. They were manipulated through their bond between one another, with Mattie sealing her heart away from the world and Rudius becoming a puppet to protect his sister. In the end they had escaped their dark fates- but only by a hair's breadth. Rudius had lost to the madness in his blood and had to have his physical body sealed away. Mattie gave up her own body to do so, living on in a phantom form to search for a way to reincarnate them both. Kishiru was the key to it all- the master fortune teller who had been stripped of her memories in the past. With her forbidden knowledge regained and the threat of the Reijukai punishing her in mind, Kishiru left with Mattie. Then it was only the five of them that remained- and while none of their sorrows were as heavy as the twins', it still kept them anchored to the desolate reality that started taking shape around them.
Not long after the departure of Kishiru and Mattie, Ryuuin went to work concealing Rudius and Mattie's sealed bodies. The rest of them continued their duties as members of the Reijukai- a corrupt organization that was determined to have the Luciffis be erased from existence. Narina mended more wounds within those last few days then she though she would ever see in a lifetime. She treated enemies and allies alike, her only reason being that they were in pain and she wished to ease it. Jeene and Gashuu had just one assignment- to kill any Luciffis they came across. They performed the task bitterly, and although he was subtle about it, the white haired fire caster took things worse then his redheaded partner. Gashuu disappeared into the night without warning, giving no goodbyes and leaving the others to only speculate why. Jeene was angry for the longest time, deeming the man's actions unforgivable. It was Silverus who finally cooled her down, listening to her rage and cry about it all until she finally collapsed into his arms for good. The two married, and had a little girl who looked much like her father. It was during this time that Ryuuin managed to slip out the Reijukai's grip, having become a wanted man after assisting his sister with regaining her memories. His whereabouts were always unclear after that, but every now and again there would be an odd rumor of a skilled stone caster dealing in the black market.
As far as outer appearances went, Narina looked to be the one who prospered most. She held herself firmly with her beliefs, pouring herself into training. The young woman was now a candidate for Protection Sage. It was one of the greatest honors a water caster could receive, and was arguably more desirable then being chosen as the Head Water Maiden. But Narina was gentle, her heart was fragile, and when Gashuu disappeared it shattered without her even knowing. The girl had loved all of them, but the connection she had with this particular man had been special- despite his rough exterior she held him close- closer than anyone else, because he had fire and it warmed her. Then he left without so much as a farewell. The light she had been relying on disappeared and she stumbled, breaking. From then on Narina worked harder then ever, healing others when there was no one to heal her.
Now Gashuu had returned, ragged and bloody. As Narina dried her tears, she wondered if she could risk stepping into that warmth light again- or if he would even let her get so close.
Phantom Wizard story. I'm writing one. I have to.
So here's the gist of things- using the prediction of future events we got from Kishiru at the end of the manga, I've formed a seven-years-later continuation of the manga. Major plot points will include corruption within the Reijukai, Gashuu and Narina's relationship, and fleshing out the world of Phantom Wizard in general.
So, because I am aware that this is quite possibly the only story in existence for this highly underrated manga that next to no one has heard of, I will probably be slow with updating. I'll pour my heart and soul into each chapter, but it's hard to say when they'll be written up.
I hope anyone who reads this has enjoyed the first chapter and is looking forward to the next.