Chapter 7: Time rush
"... Thank you, Jolie," the tall figure said as the student that just finished her self-introduction smiled smugly at everybody as she strutted down the aisle, back to her allocated seat.
The tall figure, a male sorcerer, adjusted his spectacles as he checked who was up next for their self-introductory. He had long purple hair tied up into a high ponytail and was dressed in a white suit.
The self-introductory was an annual activity which the School of the Arts had organised for all freshmen to take part in so that everyone can know each other better.
He cleared his throat. "Next up, Shiki Chikara."
The warrior blinked. Was his name called? He dare not make a sound.
"Tick... Tick... Tick..."
The world that spun around him seemed to go in slow motion. The clock hanging alone on the wall made slow ticking noises. The second hand jerked little by little, however it was taking forever to finish an entire circle.
"I said, Shiki Chikara. Please come up here now," the sorcerer repeated, a hint of annoyance in his raspy voice. Shiki sighed, stood up from his seat, and trudged his way to the front. He stepped onto a small podium positioned at the very front of the classroom and faced his fellow classmates.
"I'm Shiki Chikara, a warrior." Shiki plainly said, obviously cannot be bothered with this whole silly activity. He had thought that this school was just all about advanced skilled training. Who knew that the first day of school has to start off with this... ridiculous activity? The teacher stared at him intensely with framed purple orbs, silently urging him to speak more about himself. The warrior rolled his eyes and let out a exasperated huff. Finally he spoke. "I wish to improve my skills here so that I can be one of the greatest in the whole of Lagendia!" he announced with great confidence. There was immediate murmuring amongst the big crowd of students before him.
"By the looks of it, I don't think he will ever make it."
"He's never better then Diana!" (Diana is the archer trainer in Prairie, if I'm not wrong)
"That's enough," the purple-haired teacher commanded haughtily. "Shiki, go back to your seat now," he said in his scratchy voice. "Next." He pushed up his spectacles along the bridge of his nose to get a better view of the name list in his hand. "Amaya Kashikoi."
Shiki blinked again. Was it the dust in the atmosphere? He wasn't sure. Just then, he spotted the pinkette plodding down the small gangway at the middle mark of the classroom. Her face was filled with uneasiness. Feet trembling, she finally stepped up onto the small rostrum. She stood silently, not letting out even a whisper.
"What is she doing here?"
"My dad told me that sorceresses are taboos, y'know!"
"Silence!" the bespectacled figure boomed in a voice that shook everything like a raging earthquake. "You may start, Amaya." the normal clipped rough voice of his then called out. Through that scarlet mask of hers, Shiki could see those apprehensive purplish-red irises of hers.
"I... I..." Her tongue was unable to pronounce any words. She lowered her head, turning bright red in embarrassment. Murmuring and pointing among the students began, some of the boys laughing out loud, of course, one of them being the notorious bully Kanade.
"My name is Amaya Kashikoi and I'm a sorceress who wants to be one of the legendary heroes!" she announced in a clear voice, however it actually sounded that she was actually screaming. She then immediately lowered her head in shame, her face turning bright red.
A hand instantly shot up from the crowd. The teacher acknowledged the person who had raised his hand. "Yes, Mr Ookii?"
"Hey, teacher," he shouted out in a deep, gangster-like voice, "what's behind her mask? It's like some black magic!"
The whole room burst in laughter. "Black magic! That's ridiculous! There is no such thing!"
"It's true!" Kanade hollered, banging his table as he stood up, sending the entire classroom into absolute silence.
He rudely pointed a finger at the shy sorceress standing at the front. "She took out her mask and looked at me! Then my movements were frozen!"
Amaya looked up in shock. "That isn't true!" she exclaimed at the sentence that just framed her. But it was too late, everybody had already started the bad rumours going all because of that one little accusation. Of course, being the son of a rich merchant, who wouldn't dare to go against Kanade?
"So she does have black magic!"
"I can't believe it! One little girl tainting the great race of the sorceresses' names?"
"She's a taboo indeed!"
"She deserves to die!"
Amaya stood silently, her body trembling with fear.
"It isn't true..." she whimpered softly to herself. "It was the curse legend..."
Shiki could see that she was on the verge of tears. Feeling that he should stand up for her, he stood up, went over to Kanade's table and delivered a hard blow to his head with his right fist. In a fit, he overturned the table, sending it crashing onto the school bully.
"Stop accusing Amaya, you arrogant stuck-up bully!" he demanded, pointing a finger directly at Kanade's fierce indigo eyes. "You have done enough!" He then turned to the tall male in white and explained everything to him, "Teacher, it is not black magic. It is one of the many curses bestowed upon us children. This curse is regarding the Cursed Day."
Everybody gasped as they stopped the circulation of rumours. The Cursed Day is a taboo to speak of, for it includes the extermination of innocent human lives.
"Yes, I understand..." the purple-haired man spoke, in a more serious tone that no one has heard before. He then solemnly walked up to the front of the classroom, placing his hands on the table before him.
"It's time to tell you more about the Cursed Day, and it will also be your very first lesson..."
"The Cursed Day is an annual event where sorceresses of the Lagendia army would be sent to every village. These skilled sorceresses would be ordered to cast spells on everyone who turned 10." That's what my teacher told me when I first joined.
Mother, father, I'm scared. What if I turn into a bad person, all because of the curse? I made two new friends; they're very sweet, especially Kyuubi. They really care for me, and I'm so glad I managed to make friends with them. If I turn evil... Would I harm them? Just the very thought of it scares me.
It's so nostalgic, having such good friends here. It's like when Shiki and I were playing together.
It's also the first time I've felt such feelings for someone. I... I don't want to leave Kyuubi...
I love him.
Mother, father, will you give me your blessings?
From your daughter,
The door groaned as it creaked open. A familiar white-haired figure stood by the doorway. Out of surprise, the archer let out a little squeak as she tried to hide the letter.
"Hm?" white-haired Kyuubi mused. "What are you doing, Yumi?" he asked curiously.
"Uhm..." Yumi was at a loss of words. How was she supposed to tell him that she was writing a letter to her parents, and was writing about him approximately a minute ago? Even if she simply said she's writing a letter, Kyuubi would snoop his nose further in and ask what is it about.
Kyuubi chuckled to himself as he walked slowly towards the blushing archer. He gently pecked her whitish forehead.
"You're too honest, Yumi," he smiled as his knees bent so that his head was on the same level as the white-haired archer's. Staring directly into his sapphire orbs, she turned pink with embarrassment.
"Erm, Kyuubi, Ms Marilyn said that we will be going on a trip to Prairie tomorrow, so are you going...?" she asked nervously. The brown-haired teacher had mentioned that it was not compulsory, so she wanted to know, at least, if the cleric was going. She walked to her sky blue- coloured bed and sat on it, Kyuubi mimicking her actions.
"It's your hometown, right?" He pulled her in close and nuzzled her white head lovingly. "I'm not sure if you have any good friends there to help you when you're in trouble, but do you want me to come along?"
"I wonder how Shiki is doing now..."
"Shiki?" Kyuubi asked curiously. "Is he your friend?"
"Yes..." Yumi said softly. "One of my only friends..."
"I see..." He didn't know what to say, after hearing that this little sweet archer sitting before him had so little friends. Does this very fact made him special to her?
He didn't know. But one thing's for sure.
He'll go to protect her.
"The Cursed Day," the teacher paused to clear his throat, before continuing, "was once an annual event where sorceresses of the Royal Family would go to every part of the entire Lagendia, to create a curse "massacre", bestowing curses and deadly spells upon innocent lives above the age of ten. Truth be told, this event is still ongoing, but they have changed from a one-year interval to five."
"But, isn't it good?" Shiki asked.
"No..." The sorcerer lowered his head. "In fact, more people will age over ten, and that's where more curses will be done." He pulled his left long sleeve up to his shoulder, revealing a gory sight that made everyone cringe.
Instead of a human arm, a monstrous limb took its place. It didn't look like a hand at all, it was practically chunks of red, fleshy meat. Everyone screamed in horror.
"I know this is pretty disgusting to look at, but you must all learn." He pulled the sleeve down. "There are two ways the curse comes in; physically and mentally. My hand curse started appearing reddish when I was about five years old, but I was still inflicted with the curse years later, hence my hand has "mutated" into this state." He did the inverted comma-ed mutated with his fingers. "Amaya's curse is also a physical example; when people look in her eyes, their movements will be frozen, and furthermore she will go slightly insane. That," the teacher emphasised, "is her curse."
Everyone started murmuring.
"Such a horrible curse!"
"I think others have worse!"
"What if we have it!?"
The purple-haired man silenced then with a raised hand, before continuing.
"As for the mentally inflicted curse, it affects the victim's mind in such a way that every now and then, his or her mind would break for a certain amount of time. During this time, they will attack people and won't stop till the time is up."
"Mentally..." Shiki thought, a sorrowful look on his face. "That's... what happened to Uncle and Auntie..."
"So, this school was created, to overcome the curses inherited by our parents. Since we will be affected eventually, we will help you all overcome this curse and become great fighters!" The tall teacher figure punched his fist in the air.
"Yeah!" The entire class cheered.
Once the noise had died down, the teacher introduced himself with a humble bow. "My name is Shen (神)."
"Now, a boarding school in Mana Ridge will be visiting us tomorrow. They will be observing our lessons. We will also be having a friendly match with them, so let's start our training today!"
The pinkette looked scared, Shiki noticed. He felt worry filling his heart.
During break time, at the grassland outside the building, the blonde warrior ran up to the sorceress, tapping her shoulders. Amaya, being scared out of her wits, jumped in fright, her mask almost falling.
"Hey, hey," Shiki assured her. "It's me." The sorceress then relaxed.
"Yeah!" The warrior let out a goofy grin. "So... Who do you think we're gonna meet tomorrow?"
Amaya seemed deep in thought. "Mana Ridge is the holy land for sorceresses and clerics... So maybe... we'll meet lots of clerics and sorceresses..."
"I know..." Shiki murmured. Of course he would know that. Who doesn't?
Amaya looked slightly shocked. "Did I scare you...? I'm sorry!" She began bowing to the blonde hastily.
"Hey, hey, we're still in school..." He sweatdropped.
Shiki felt longing yet worry welling up inside him like raging waters. If Mana Ridge... then Yumi would be there... but what if...
What if she didn't recognise him, ever again?
As if she was reading his mind, Amaya patted Shiki's shoulder. "I'm sure your friend will remember you..." She smiled, a smile that was simple yet unusual.
A smile that was special... to him alone.
The warrior smiled. His hazel irises that were once clouded dull with worry now sparkled brightly with enthusiasm. He looked up at the sky.
"Yumi, watashi o oboete iru..."
Once Kyuubi had left her room, Yumi immediately bolted to the toilet, grasping the basin and began coughing. A long, slender finger from her right hand placed itself under her chin. When she brought it up, it was laced with crimson blood.
When will this stop...?
Coughs became more violent. In less than a minute, almost the entire interior surface was stained with a deep shiny red. The archer's eyes were brimmed with tears.
Hands trembling, figure shaking, she knelt onto the floor, palms still stuck onto the ceramic basin like super glue. Her crystalline tears escaped her sapphire irises, splashing into the thick pools of scarlet.
"Mother, father, Shiki, Rose, Kyuubi..." she choked out, in utter sorrow. She knew that her disease had begun to take its toll.
"I don't want to worry you..."
Meanwhile, the mages were discussing something in one of their rooms.
"Hey," Yukiko chimed out. "I heard that the Prairie girl has a friend in Prairie Town."
"Warrior?" Chie stuck out her tongue as she grabbed a pencil and sketched a small figure on her notebook.
"Yup," another sorceress said. "I hid my presence, snuck into her room and read her diary. Apart from Kiyomizu, she mentioned someone else... Shiki, I think."
"Hmm, we can use that to our advantage. I can't wait for tomorrow to come..." the pink-haired elemental lord mused. Suddenly, an idea struck her hard. "Hey, Yukiko! Can you use the ancient time skill?"
"The only time skill I have is temporarily stopping time and speeding up your skills' colling down time..."
"The ancient time magic is to speed up OUR real time. As a force user, you should be able to do it."
"Wait," a white-haired mage sitting nearby interrupted. "Isn't that... forbidden magic?" Forbidden magic skills are those skills used in the ancient times, but they were so powerful that they overwhelmed the users, and eventually died. This time management skill is also forbidden, although it was one of the weakest ancient skills.
"We have to speed up time, so that we can carry out our "plan" quickly."
"We haven't devised a plan yet!"
"That sounds like a challenge, Chie." Yukiko smirked.
"I'll take it."
Long time no see " ANYWAY, this is very short, cos' I was seriously rushing, with my homework, and blah blah blah.
Sorry, guys, but I gotta go! Cos' I rushed this, that's why it has lots of mistakes and some parts are kinda... ambiguous. I'll put more in the next chapter!~
Until then, ja ne!~