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Heavenly ★ Branches [IC]

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August 22, 2116

 

Our will is strong.

Our hearts are beating.

with the World we will reach toward the sun.

 

user posted image

 

Heavenly Branches

 

The Story So Far... (new updates in bold)

 

Students have been selected all over the world, based on an international exam, to attend Heaven's Gate Academy, a new but prestigious high school on a tropical island. Most of them arrived by the school ferry, while others came through more... unconventional means, but through that day and the next they received their Branches and had gotten settled into their dorms.

 

On the first day of school the new first years were introduced to Dr. Robinson, resident expert on Branches and magic, and who seemed not a year older than the oldest students assembled. Shortly after the introduction to Linking and having everyone transform, Robinson ended up breaking up a fight that stirred up. Ever since that display of power, the good doctor has become quite a popular figure among students. The assignment for the next lesson was to get a handle on your element.

 

Lunch passed, involving some announcements by the pompous Student Council President, a busted fountain, and a private jet landing. Classes resumed as normal in the afternoon, and signups for clubs were opened.

 

Some of the first years got a mysterious message to meet in the science room in the evening, and inside was Alistair and his grandiose evil villain act that was quickly dropped, but the club was genuine. It was a club for upper years to help these promising first years... and vice-versa. Tanner was their first client, but was a little vague on what she was looking for in terms of "secrets" she wanted the group to discover.

 

A few days later was the hand-in for the homework. Robinson is on the field, testing everyone individually and taking notes on performance. There was one person who fainted and at least several ready to cry. Robinson then declared, when everyone was done, that they had exceeded their expectations on a general level, and introduced the next assignment: paired elements. In general, there was much more success on a paired level despite some setbacks with actually finding pairs. That is, until another fight erupted but was quelled just as quickly. Now, Robinson, who is reaching the end of their rope, has wrapped up their second lesson and assigned a pairing and writing assignment for next week.

And before anyone knew it, it was the weekend. However, some members of Alistair's club, especially some second years, feel a general uneasiness rumbling in the background as they investigate the destruction of the student-crafted dance club -- but that doesn't stop the rest of the cast from having fun. On the other hand, some people are trying their hand at fighting the Student President on the back field.

 

FTE Quests: [updated!]

 

 

Friday (wrapping these up eventually I guess):

 

☆ JessQuest / Earth Dorm / Jess, Flint

☆ Tremors / Earth Dorm / Antonio

 

Saturday:

★ Panic! at the Dance Floor / Underground / Alistair, Inari, Sienna (second year only)

☆ The First Rule of Sparring Club Is that You Absolutely Talk About Sparring Club / Back Field / Harold, Aria, Chi, Harcourt, Tae-hyun, Hyun-ji, Flyn

☆ Key to a Good Meal / Library / Latoya, Matt

☆ Talk French to Me, Baby / Student Lounge / Thel, Evelyn

☆ The Real Peri's SWAGger / Dorm showers / Peridot

☆ Just a Vacation, Sea? / Beach / Will, Freya, Erika

 

 

Clock:

 

Time - Variable -- Friday evening/Saturday afternoon

Season - Autumn

Event(s) - Free Time

 

Glossary:

 

Branches: Small devices resembling smooth stones. Every student has one, and they are the source of the magical powers they possess. A Branch provides easy identification of a student's elemental affiliation and are always worn visibly, often as jewelry.

 

Stems: A name for a person who uses a Branch.

 

Linking: The act of pairing two Branches to activate their powers. Linking is always done in pairs. Two Stems need to make physical contact to activate a Link. Linked pairs get boosted strength, speed, and durability as well as a significant boost in magical power.

 

Aura: Under a link, both Stems are protected by an invisible force that reduces damage. That is the Aura. The Aura allows Stems to survive attacks that would otherwise kill normal human beings.

 

Focus: Another word for a Stem's specialty over their element or weapon. First years will develop their Focus as time goes on, but most second years have focused on an aspect of their magic.

 

 

Locations:

 

School Courtyard: Surrounded on four sides by the school, the lab, and the dorms, the courtyard acts as a training ground for combat classes. A large portion of it is of beaten dirt with lines painted on the ground to mark a playing -- or rather, dueling -- field, while the rest of it is untouched grass and saplings surrounding the arena with a fountain placed on the south side. Sometimes, this area is used for school assemblies: in cases like those, a platform is set up on one side of the field from which people can make announcements.

 

Dining Hall: While bearing a rather eloquent name for a cafeteria, the dining hall is rather traditional in its presentation. One wall is covered completely with windows, while the opposite wall features a heroic student-painted mural depicting the elements. Rows of benches are set to the convenience of students, with space at the very end of the room to line up for the kitchen. The kitchen serves meals from 11am to 1pm for lunch, and 5pm to 7pm for dinner, and from 6am to 8am for breakfast. A variety of meals are available and while the school does its best to eliminate junk food, it's usually possible to find something that you like. (If not, ask a senior about the secret student-run kitchen -- as long as you provide the ingredients and keep the place clean, you can cook whatever you want, whenever you want!)

 

Main Office: Near the main entrance of the school, past wooden double doors -- now reinforced with steel -- is the main office. It is decorated in a somewhat antique style with dark wallpaper and hardwood flooring. There are several seats for waiting students placed along the wall. Grand gothic style windows showcase a view to the ocean, although Mrs. Gilchrist's welcome desk faces away from it. The Principal's office is found in the next room, forcing students to pass here, but the secretary usually handles situations before she has to bother the director.

 

Dr. Robinson's Office: Dr. Robinson's Office is located a few steps from the main office in one direction and a few more steps from the exit on the other. The inside is painted a uniform white, including the furniture and the floor, and apart from the stacks of paper on the desks and pinned to the walls, the place looks immaculate -- almost untouched -- as if they never use it. The curtains are always drawn. A wall of bookcases provides the only splash of color; it is filled with textbooks about math and biology as well as quite a few binders.

 

Student Lounge: A common area for students outfitted with a scattering of couches and relatively older technology such as foosball tables and tabletop simulators. Two sets of grand stairs lead up to four doors in four directions, one for each element. The club signup lists, among other announcements, can be found on the digital bulletin board placed near the center of the room.

 

Dormrooms: Each element has its own dorm. All students of an element share a sleeping space, and each student has a locker and a curtain that can be drawn around their bed for privacy.

Science Room: A rather bare room with dark counters bolted to the floor and polished chrome sinks set into the counters. Like with most classes, one wall is reserved for interactive projections but is usually used as a whiteboard. (The educational technology at Heaven's Gate is generally lagging behind the developed world. People say that it's because the budget is blown elsewhere.) The room features two doors to the outside and a third door leading to the chemical storage room. Supplies can be found in the cabinets.

 

Hell's Kitchen: A student-run kitchen contributed by the Fire Stems. Brilliant white ceramic tiles cover the walls and the floors to make sure the surfaces are clean, and the countertops are of dark granite. Appliances are on-par with a restaurant's kitchen, and there is a walk in fridge and freezer and a sizeable pantry to store food (although if it's been there too long it'll be thrown out). The location is still unknown (Alistair didn't tell us), but the access to it is somewhere near the dorms.

School Library: Not extremely grand, but still a significant collection of paper books set upon rows and rows of dark shelving. Not many people seem to read anymore, but there are usually a handful of students hanging around the long tables reserved here for study. The library has a high ceiling and tall windows that let the sunlight in, but not enough to reach the books. The room sinks down a few levels so they can keep more books along the walls, easily reachable by any Air stem, and the books are all grouped by category. While there isn't really a librarian (for the room works on a system of honor for those who still like to look at paper tomes), there's often a student or two volunteering their time at the counter and to put books back in their places.

 

Back Field: A patch of beaten dirt the size of a gymnasium, bordered by grass. It is a short walk from the back of the school and used for fights too rough to be hosted inside the courtyard. Bleachers and floodlights are set up on one side, making it feel more like an element of an actual school.

 

Staff NPCs (those with a black star ★ are special NPCs; those with a white star ☆ are NPCs owned by other players; the others you can control for minor actions)

 

Camelia Robinson ★ - Nearing 19 years of age, Camelia is not much older than most of the students at the academy and sometimes gets mistaken form one, but their small frame and short height (5'0) exert an imposing presence that is hard to miss. They have brown hair is cut short and left messy and defining thick framed glasses over a grumpy, no-nonsense expression complete with a slight pout. Robinson's short sleeved button up shirt is neatly ironed and buttoned. The pockets of their cargo pants are stuffed with notes and other things, as are the pockets clipped onto their belt. Sneakers give the ensemble a too-casual look.

They have their citrine branch in a filigree brooch pinned over their left breast pocket. Dr. Robinson is a researcher for the Branch Institute and they know the technology inside and out -- although they are not very talkative when not giving a lecture. Rumor has it that they are an incredibly powerful Stem, but no one has really seen them link -- in fact, people rarely see them at all outside of classes.

 

Liberman Eginhard - An old man in the eyes of most students, Mr. Eginhard still seems to keep pace even alongside Stems. He has a full beard of white that is kept little longer than a stubble, and what remains of his hair is neatly combed back. His suits are always clean and crisp and he never seems to break a sweat even when facing against a linked pair. He stands at 6'6 and is much more muscular than he initially appears to be.

 

Linette Gilchrist - Despite being the Assistant Dean, this lady is probably too nice for her own good. She has a soft spot for student antics, and likes to actively support student initiatives. Unfortunately, she tends to bite off more than she can chew by offering to help many people at once, leaving her constantly behind her work and stranded in her office. Her blonde hair is pinned up in a messy updo out of the way of her round face and she usually pairs a colorful sweater with a black pencil skirt.

 

Dorian Philomena Lecasse - From day one, the Dean of Students -- Mrs. Lecasse, of course -- made it clear that student antics would not be tolerated. She makes an effort to contort her angular face into a rather mean look that intimidates even some of the staff. She wears long, black garments like shirts and shawls; combined with her lanky height it gives her the appearance of a perching corvid. She made it her mission to enforce discipline at this school for hooligans.

 

Randall Knight - A former Stem who now teaches at the school the most noble of courses: visual arts and crafts. Having reached his 20th the year before, his carmine branch is more decorative than anything but he still wears it on his cravat out of tradition. He's swapped his uniform out for a pinkish button up-shirt with the sleeves rolled up and covered by a work apron, and denim pants. His bright blond hair is slightly curled and is often an unkempt mess and his skin is tan from working outside, though his rough hands always seem to be stained with ink or charcoal. He's kind of a quiet, melancholic fellow, more focused on his own work than other people in general, so most people don't really take his course seriously and use it as a free period. Nevertheless, he likes to give advice whether people are listening or not. He also has... a small obsession with statues.

 

Trevor Evans - Mr. Evans teaches History and Geography. He is a man in his mid-thirties with thick-framed glasses and an immense collection of sweater-vests. His thin brown hair is kept neat and short, combed forward. His pale skin has a rosy tint to it and he is clean-shaven; he has a nose with a high bridge, thick but pale eyebrows, and bright blue eyes. Most students agree that he's a motor-mouth when he touches upon a subject that he finds an interest in, which is, well, everything he teaches. He's always complaining that there's never enough time to go into depth about things he wants to touch on, but his class never seems to show the same level of enthusiasm or innate curiosity as he does. Knowing that Heaven's Gate may very well play a major part in modern history, he cherishes the chance to work so closely with students and staff.

Darcy Ken - A third year whose rising interest with assisting the school doctor allowed him to help out full-time as the school nurse after 'graduating' his classes. There are always injuries and accidents happening both on the field and during training even if Aura and accelerated healing do downplay them somewhat. Nevertheless, Darcy treats his patients with a smile no matter what kind of stupid antics they've gotten themselves into, and he is very good at keeping secrets when students finally admit them to him. He is tall and lanky, with big hands and big feet; his hair is a medium length and curly, and his jay blue branch is in a gold hairpin that keeps his bangs out of his face.

 

Student NPCs:

 

Solange Wilds ☆ - A French senior with a rebellious streak that’s as strong as her accent. Although flirtatious, she’s more likely to snatch your wallet when you aren’t paying attention than anything. Over the years, she has been known to sneak around the school stealing whatever she can get her hands on. She has extremely pale skin and a cascade of wavy black hair that reaches to her mid-black along with striking blue eyes. She’s built like a ballerina with a lithe build, narrow arms, and muscular legs. In addition to her school uniform, she adorns a headband with black ears attached to the top. Her branch is a vibrant brown, bordering on orange, that's attached to the side of her headband.

 

Marshall Willis - A suave young man with a pale face full of freckles and bright green hair brushed forward and styled into spikes. He is easily recognizable by the amount of jewelry (both visible and concealed) he has on his person, from heavy chains to bright bangles and several piercings on his right ear. While he wears several pieces with red stones in them, his true branch is a sardonyx-like orange gem set into a ring on his left middle finger. Marshall runs a customization shop in a room near the main office. It is open Tuesdays after classes, and as long as you have the materials he can set your branch into any pin or bracelet. Nearly all the first years have seen him at least once just to have their branch customized, and he's eager and ready to help -- almost too ready.

 

Lucy "Lucifer" Cadmus ★ - A third year who calls herself the Student President, and not many people ended up contesting her leadership -- especially since it doesn't really mean anything in the long run. While only 4'7 with a cute black bob cut, pale face, and winged eyeliner sharp enough to stab a man, she has an aura of power and will not hesitate to put insolent into their place in a (literal) flamboyant display. She and her twin, Stanley, have been fighting demons for a couple years and are by far the most famous of all hunters (on the internet). Her fame gets to her sometimes, and Lucy can act rather childish as a result. Her crimson Branch hangs on the choker at her neck and her linked outfit consists of a short, lacy, black and white dress in a gothic lolita style. Her weapon is an ornamented gold and silver scythe taller than she is though she wields it with ease.

 

Stanley Cadmus ★ - A third year who would rather not have the spotlight on him. His black hair is long enough to cover his ears and is rustled into a bedhead, and he seems to always look a little tired and a little bored by everything from how he slouches with his hands in his pockets. He stands tall enough to use his sister's head as an armrest, much to her displeasure, and seems like the only one who could get away with openly defying her. His branch is on a loose silver chain necklace with tiny links, and is a shade of camouflage green. His linked outfit is a a clean-cut suit with an exaggerated swallowtail, white gloves, a black tie, and his weapon is a small and simple throwing knife, copies of which he can summon in droves.

 

Tanner Sybil ★ - A cynical but loyal and knowledgeable third year. Her chestnut hair is long, straight and reaches the small of her back. She keeps it in a low ponytail. Her cheekbones are prominent but the rest of her features are soft and highlighted with mild makeup behind a pair of square glasses. Her skin is on the lighter side of tan, and her uniform is kept neat. Her branch is of a jay's blue and is set in her right earring.

 

Sandra McCarson - A young, second year with a history of gossip and rumors, Sandra has been a longtime friend of the journalist Harold and loves to hear his stories. As such, she's developed a reputation as a conspiracy theorist, though she claims all her stories are true.

 

Peter Blunt - A first year who protects Sandra fiercely and has a rivalry with Harold because he believes Sandra likes Harold - though Sandra is oblivious to this fact. Like Sandra, Peter has experienced the nightmares Sandra speaks of constantly.

 

Scott Wise ☆ - Scott has dyed her dark brown hair to have purple and blue streaks, randomly dispersed throughout the long strands. It falls in wavy layers to the small of her back, curling naturally towards the front and framing her face. Bangs rest in loose clumps like spikes across her forehead. Beneath thin eyebrows, Scott has maple-brown eyes with amber-hued highlights. Her face is heart-shaped, giving her a delicate appearance in addition to her lithe figure. With olive-tanned skin, Scott stands at about 5’3”. She has her branch, colored 70% cocoa, in a pendant at her neck. She is in second year. // She's rather shy and quiet, not often voicing her opinions with others. She's most uncomfortable around people she doesn't know and much prefers to be with those she considers a friend.

 

Kagome Ren ☆ - Standing on the taller end of the scale at about 5’7”, Ren has cropped black hair that frames her face and possesses no bangs. Dark brown eyes rest upon a round face, her features rather androgynous and akin to a small child. Her skin is darkened from exposure to the sun but retains the creamy tone that is hereditary in her family. Her body is rectangularly shaped and certainly betrays the fact she was born male. She has a slightly average build, her muscles a bit more developed from the number of fights she’s managed to get into and the urges to exorcise she often experiences. Her hands are usually dotted with bandages that sport random colors or popular characters as a result. Her ruby branch is set in a silver bracelet on her left wrist. She is in second year as well and is ready to fight anyone who threatens Scott. // Action-oriented, Ren is more likely to hit first, ask questions later. She's very protective of Scott and is frequently causing trouble with other students; particularly the bullies.

Winnifrey "Winter" Summers ★ - Lead guitarist of Flying Falling Stars (former name: Four Foxes' Snake, before they gained two new members). She can easily be spotted with her hot pink hair which reaches halfway down her back and her bold fashion choices in color, cut and material that seep into even her uniform. She is quite popular for her voice even if her looks are somewhat average but there are no blemishes on her fair skin that makeup can't fix. Her branch is like an opal: iridescent white with a tinge of pink. FFS rehearses every Wednesday and as their leader, Winter forces herself to project as someone who knows everything.

Daniel Emmet - Kind of a big and nervous second year who tends to worry about the smallest things, but he tries his best. He has a smattering of freckles on his tall nose, round face and arms, and dusty brown hair that is thin and tends to curl at the ends. He is infatuated by Alistair and his antics, but is content with observing the other boy from afar because he thinks his awkwardness will be his downfall. His branch is a greyish off-white, set into a glove on his right hand.

 

Tammy Walker - A short (but not too short!) girl with a big personality. It's hard to believe that she is a second year from her appearance or the way she acts, though most of it is partially excused by how she isn't even sixteen yet. Her hair, originally black, has been bleached in a way that is obvious that she tried to do it herself, and she always seems a bit messy when it comes to clothing. Her skin is a bit on the paler side of tan, and her features, coupled by a smile from just the lips, makes her look like she's frequently squinting. She has ample energy and being very physical with people she likes, though can be a little selfish and needy at times. She wears her tangerine orange branch proudly on a ribbon at her neck, and it is known that she is a frequent partner with Harold Malson.

 

Valerie "Vale" Craig - Vale is a somewhat antisocial second year who no one really knows or cares what she is up to, although she seems to acquire smokes with as much ease as she sneaks behind people. Her hair is dyed a subtle shade of auburn and cropped into a pixie cut that sweeps forward, and her eyes are a shade of emerald green. Her skin is a dark olive, and she has several piercings on her right ear but only one on her left. Her cat's eye branch is on a bangle on her left wrist; her linked clothing consists of a large tan trenchcoat, ripped jeans, a blouse, and futuristic white machine-like armor on her feet, thighs, hands, shoulders and back. The decorative portion of the back has fanlike protrusions that look like grey angel wings in silhouette. Her weapon is a semi-automatic handgun with a limited number of shots before she needs to summon another, but she dual-wields them.

 

Felix T-K Song - A talented violinist in second year. It is said that branch magic allowed him to miraculously recover from an injury in his left wrist, allowing him to play again. His dark locks fall in gentle curls around his tanned, angular face and prominent cheekbones. He wears square glasses, and his uniform is always neat. He is silent, solemn, and strategic, but he has trouble expressing his plans and feelings. He is also very stubborn on his views and on his goals. He wears his dark red branch on a ring on his right index; his link clothing reminds one of an orchestra conductor's suit and tie combined with a Phantom of the Opera cape and half-mask. His weapon is a version of his violin and his bow, and while they can be used offensively the instrument is still playable and unbreakable.

The Mason - His name is probably just "Mason" since that's what everyone calls him anyway. A third year well-established for having an aptitude for using his branch to build, and an aspiring architect. Despite his well-worn hands and thick fingers, his manipulation of earth is fine and intricate. He has several apprentices and together they form an exclusive force that builds and repairs parts of the school. He has an intimidating and impressively well-built figure for a high school student, and a personality to match. The Mason only picks up jobs if he thinks the jobs are worthy for The Mason.

 

 

(still in effect but ignore these for now)

Old quests

- The Secret Club: Tanner would like to get reports on any... anomalies in the school. She seems to be somewhat on edge about demons, but also about humans? Either way if you find anything weird...

- Branch Mercs Co-op: Unbeknownst to both the players and the characters, Sol has enlisted the group to do some little tasks here and there to help people out around the school.

- Captain of the Maybell Faire: Will has been having nightmares and visions recently, but so far there have not been any concrete leads other than the conspiracy theories bubbled up by water stems.

- Round-Robin: Everyone seems to want to know more about Dr. Robinson. Especially Erika. At any cost.

- LoveQuest: Will Thel ever find true love?

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Most of the new students arrived by ship yesterday, while some trickled in through the morning and were pointed to her office to receive their Branches, their element, and get officially logged into the system. Some of the students who arrived the day before had already heard the welcome speech, but today would be their first time going to class and properly meeting the faculty.

 

It was an exciting time for returning students, too, now that there were so many new people to meet, Linette thought; through her window she could see what she assumed were celebratory explosions coming from the direction of the beach. As a member of the administration team, she felt that she should be more concerned, but strange events and student antics were the norm. Much like trying to enforce proper uniforms (there was this new kid who insisted that he couldn't live without carrying an actual anchor with him at all times), some things were an uphill battle. At least with a fair share of students capable of controlling earth, property damage could be repaired easily.

 

Massaging her temples, she sat down, crossed her legs, and resumed her paperwork.

 

~~~

 

A number of new students were assembled in the school's central courtyard for the first class of the year, some standing while others sat in the grass, paying varying degrees of attention. Some eyes were trained straight ahead, while other gazes wandered to the monastic architecture and its arches and colonnades carved from white stone that created a sort of outdoor hallway around the court. It provided a shaded place for students -- currently only some curious second years, to observe the courtyard's sparring grounds.

 

The instructor then arrived before the group, catching the attention of a few more eyes. He was an old man with a full white beard and greying hair combed back neatly. His posture and his movements betrayed the fact that he wasn't as old as he seemed, and the most notable thing about him was the deep scar that ran across his cheek and lips. He put no weight on his wooden cane, as if the item, like his crisp grey suit, were a simple formality.

 

Some might have recognized him from yesterday as Mr. Liberman Eginhard, teacher of combat tactics at the school.

 

"Welcome again to Heaven's Gate Academy, new recruits," he bellowed, "and welcome to your first combat class! You came here not only to study, but to fight, and it is my task to teach you. Think of it as a replacement for physical education."

 

While he was speaking, a youth with short brown hair and black framed glasses joined him on the platform. They looked young enough to be a student, and they had a yellowed branch pinned to the breast of their short sleeved button-up shirt. Standing beside Mr. Eginhard, they looked even shorter and they had a grumpy expression as if they didn't want to be here -- or was their face always like that?

 

"For the first few classes, however," the older man continued, "I will let Dr. Robinson introduce you to your little devices. Old dogs like me have a hard time learning new tricks." He let out a laugh, then stepped aside. The youth took his place.

 

They spoke with an intimidating firmness and projected their voice so that everyone could hear. "This," they said, unpinning her branch and holding up in the air the small stone in her hand, "is the source of our might against the demons. We call it a Branch. A person who uses a Branch is called a Stem. All of a Stem's abilities, from the costumes to the flashy tricks you've seen on TV or live, originate from the Branch." A pause. Their tone turned dark. "Don't lose it."

 

"Mostly as a safety feature, Branches can only be used in pairs, meaning that two people are needed before you can even think about doing anything 'cool'. Raw strength is a factor that varies by individual, but what is the most important is the relationship between both partners. The better you know them and vice-versa, the more powerful the link. 'Course, you're all basically strangers who met yesterday, so I doubt that you'll manage to do anything meaningful this week."

 

They eyed the eager crowd -- though realistically it was less than two dozen students -- with a raised eyebrow, as if challenging them to prove their words wrong. "Pair up. You, water boy," they gestured to one of the students who was soaking wet, as if he decided to go for a bath, fully clothed, right before class. Thankfully the branch didn't choose fire for him. "William Edwards, correct? You and Freyja, come forth. I'm certain that you two would have little trouble with the following exercise."

 

Once the two were in place, Dr. Robinson took it as a cue to continue, speaking partly to the pair and partly to the other students. "In partners, focus on the soul of the other. Thoughts. Motivations. Think of what kind of person you could be, and what kind of person your partner may be and then -- touch."

 

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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"There is naught but one path for humanity, lad. One path for us to follow.

That's the path of war.

These demons which are infestin' our very 'omes, our very way o' life, must be dealt with. I got faith in ye, my boy. I kin ye have a heart with a lust for 'venture. I cannae stop ye.

But remember, my son, where ye came from. Never forget tha'. Yer ma and I are always here for ya. Ye have a home with us, if everything falls apart. And always remember one thin' -

ye better stay true to Freyja, ya lil scamp, and never forget who ye are inside."

 

-----

 

It was the early morning before the introductions, before everyone would meet. A throng of students had already entered through the gates, talking, laughing, or being frightened. But they were all anxious to see what would happen.

The day before, they had arrived by ship. Will remembered the feeling with exhilaration. Of course, the boat he had ridden was not the same as everyone else. With a heavy, powerful hand, he, his father, and some of his childhood friends had constructed a craft capable of sailing to the Gates of Heaven himself. It was a large, sturdy boat, complete with an undercroft, a sail, and everything needed to ride the seas. His father, of course, had utter faith in his child.

"My boy, I taught ye how to read the ocean. And I thin' it wouldn't be fittin' if you didn't make it across on yer own. This boat's been checked by us both, right? Then I'm sure it's safe. Now load up, everyone's waitin' ta see ye off."

And of course they all were. Finnegan, Alister, Billy, Riley... all of them standing at the docks to see him off on his new journey with Frey. Ecstatic, the two lovebirds had stepped onto the deck of their large, seafaring craft, the sail billowing in the wind, as though favoring their journey. A motor had been attached to the back. Chum and other necessary fishing supplies had been loaded aboard. Soon, Will, his father, his mother, Freyja, and her parents were all aboard a ship that could have been likened to a Galleon in the old times, built of sturdy wood, for their journey abroad.

All along the coast they sailed, the winds picking up every so often. Sometimes they fished. Other times they ate rations. They docked every so often to grab more supplies as they journeyed around the coasts from their home of Kirkwall to up the path around Norway.

Away they went, through storms, calm winds, and slight detours as they docked every so often for food and water. Around the bend they went, through the icy waters of the Arctic Circle, their ship having been made for this occasion. Then around they came down, past the lines of Russia, down towards the Japanese islands, until finally they reached their destination - the Philippines.

Will could never have been happier. His oceanic journey was complimented with his father yelling dialogue in the way of storybook pirates, the two of them checking the rigging, ensuring the lines were taut, or checking the motor and keeping it smooth. Starboard! Bow! The two of them kept up their spirits that way. Meanwhile, Freyja and the rest normally stayed down below in the undercroft, playing cards, old games, or simply talking about how ridiculous Will and his father Peter were.

The final shout came out from above them as the land came within view. Peter stood behind his son as William yelled with utmost vigor,

"LAND 'O!!!!!"

The group then proceeded to dock into the school's harbor, near the ship which had already arrived. The rest of the students gave them strange glances as their parents hugged them and wished them well. After getting some supplies from some confused workers at the docks, Will and Freyja's mothers and fathers left them with final lines, kisses, hugs, and waves.

Will's parents and Freyja's parents were now, hopefully, safe and well going towards the southern coast of Africa on their way back home.

"Is tha' how they're gonna pick us back up, aye?" Frey had asked, wiping herself down. "On a boat?"

"Why nae?"

"Because the people be given me some odd looks and it's makin' me antsy." Freyja said, moving close to Will nervously.

"I dunnae think it's tha' boat nao."

"Och? What issit then?"

"Th' anchor!" Will laughed, pointing at his back. "Bit weird, innit?"

"Mayhap." Freyja nodded, agreeing. After that, the two had headed to the introductory classes. Already, a few students had begun talking about how they were the "Pirate Students."

Captain Will, and his girlfriend, Shipwright Frey. That's how Will had told it anyway.

Because that's how he wanted it to be.

The two of them had listened to the introductions, Will excited as a fish in saltwater, and Freyja finally a bit more at ease. After the introductions had ended, the day had ended, and they'd been sent off to rest.

 

----

 

Now it was morning. That much was sure. And now, Will was standing outside of the fountain. He stared into the depths of the water longingly as Frey stared at him intently.

"Whatcha doin' there, eh?" Frey asked, arms crossed, her slender yet muscular form intimidating in her current pose. The chains wrapped around her arms and legs didn't help anything.

"Oh!" Will looked up a moment. "Sorry."

"I asked, whatcha be doin' there?"

"Just... admirin' th' freshness of this water." Will admitted. "It's clean and sparklin', like th' lake back 'ome."

"William Edwards, ye better not be thinkin' of doin' what I kin yer doin'." Frey stated firmly. "Not on yer first day!"

"Why nae?"

"Because we're gonna be late if ye get undressed!" Frey stated, concerned. "I dunnae want ta be late because of yer water-lovin' hide. What sort of excuse is that, aye?"

"Then I can jus' do this!" Will said, leaping into the fountain. A spray of water was sent over Freyja as she shook her hair, irritated at first, but then sighed.

"Aye, alright, that does feel good. 'Ere, let me clean me face a bit." Freyja added, as Will leaped out of the fountain. She rubbed some of the fountain water over her skin, pleased.

"Och. Yer right. It's nice and cool..." she cooed, content. "But we gotta get goin' ta class then. And ye better be movin' quickly, mind."

She began to head off in the direction of the class as Will shook his hair out, feeling refreshed.

Yes, this was a good way to start his new school existence as he prepared to fight demons. A baptism of his old self.

Felt good. Felt invigorating. Felt right.

 

-----

 

"Pair up. You, water boy."

Will looked up immediately, draining a bit more water from his sleeves.

"Aye?"

"William Edwards, correct? You and Freyja, come forth. I'm certain that you two would have little trouble with the following exercise."

"Aye!" Will said gladly, stepping forward while Freyja clasped his hand. He was feeling slightly nervous.

As they stood in front of the person speaking, he turned to Freyja, smiling.

"Alright, so what's this about, then?" Will asked, excited.

"In partners, focus on the soul of the other. Thoughts. Motivations." the person spoke, drawing them closer together. "Think of what kind of person you could be, and what kind of person your partner may be and then -- touch."

"Touch?" Will asked, chuckling a bit. "Tha's easy, right Frey?"

"In front o' everyone, tho'?" Freyja said, frowning. "Is that proper, mind?"

"They said ta do it, right?" Will said, holding out his face. "So what's th' 'arm?"

Before anyone could stop them, the two kissed, and their thoughts intertwined.

 

----

 

If only I could be as a bird, Will. A bird, freely soarin' among th' clouds. A bird, higher than any other, one that every other envied.

 

But why do ye got ta make the other ones jealous, Frey?

 

Because then they gotta watch me.

 

Frey, they don't gotta watch ye. Because I already am. And no matter 'ow deep below the sea I get, I'll always look up at th' sky to see ye, right?

 

....Yer a cheesy git, Will.

 

----

 

I remember the cold. The waves. Felt like a thousand hands twere graspin' me from below, like they were callin' me home. I remember not bein' able to breathe. Not bein' able to move save for the smallest touch of me arms.

I thought it, then. I did. I really did.

This be the end of me, William. This be the end o' us 'ere. We're gonna die. That's our story.

What an ironic end that woulda been, aye? To die doin' what I loved most. But I guess it woulda been fittin'.

But then, from beyond the water, like some kinda blessin', there was a hand oft there, above me own, and it grasped my hand.

It felt burning hot compared to the hands graspin' me legs, tryin' to pull me down. But one hand pulled me free of them. What strength that was, aye?

That was th' day I met ye, Frey. I'll never forget it.

 

----

 

I never want ta lose this freedom, Will. I always want ta be free. And ye promised me that if we were ever ta be wed, ye'd let me stay this way. I always want to see th' world.

Can... can we see all of it one day? Do ye promise?

I'll be waitin'... Ye better not be lyin' ta me, William Edwards...

I don't like liars.

 

----

 

Are ye afraid to die, Will?

 

Of course I am. But... if we die fightin' demons, then that's a better end than drownin', aye? Far better. And we'd die together, if at all. Then, we'd see the next warld tagether.

 

Ye swear that ta me? Then I swear that to ye.

 

Together.

 

----

 

Of course I've always known what Will wanted to be. One with th' sea. That crazy git always wanted to be a fish when he was younger, I jus' kin it! He loves them pirate stories too...

Will would prolly want... hmm.... he'd wanna be a pirate, aye. One covered in water, that of salt and brine. He'd wanna be close to it. Close to the very essence o' th' abyss. I can see it now...

 

----

 

Freyja? She'd wanna be some kinda bird, right? She's always been like that. I even saw her flappin' her arms once when we were younger when she'd jump. She wraps chains 'round her wrists and legs cuz she wants to exercise, one day hopin' she can be strong enough ta just jump into the sky. She knows it's silly. We all do. But... there's always the dream. But she'd be one, strong bird. Nae some kinda dove or something, maybe nae even jus' a bird. Maybe somethin' like an angel.....

 

----

 

From below Will's feet, the transformation began. Leather boots shrouded his legs as coral and seaweed began to wrap up his pants and grab at him.

There ain't naught but water.

His shirt began to change into a jacket, black as sin, wrapped around his arms, but it was torn and ragged. Leather straps went over his chest, coral and brine dotting the length of it and leading to age and rust.

Do ye remember the sea?

His face changed before the crowd as the very coral over his body began to emerge from his face, shrouded in water and plantlife, algae turning it almost green.

Nice, ain't it? Fresh. Alive. But that life is bein' threatened.

A black, leather accessory covered his left eye as a hat formed over his hair, which had now become like seaweed - green and long, flowing in an unseen wave.

Well now, Captain Will, are ye ready for your crew to rise again?

Water began to pour from his body endlessly, dripping onto to ground below them. As it tried to spread beyond him, it evaporated. To an outsider, it was as though he was the corpse of a pirate, riddled with living fish, trapped in a bubble of water that seeped from his form. Coral plates decorate his chest and arms like armor, wrapped around the biceps and torso.

I remember th' day I 'died' in water. Now, I am one wit' it.

He released himself from Freyja, moving his hands to adjust his hat with a snarl.

There ain't no one but me ta keep the waters alive.... those hands never let me go, did they?

Several mouths formed the words,

"Captain Will...."

 

----

 

There was a movement of the wind as Will turned to look at Freyja. Then, he gasped silently.

 

----

 

Have ye heard of the Valkyries, Freyja?

Metal and wind coursed up her legs and around her arms as she had stood in Will's embrace, the breeze blowing around her.

Legend tells of women chosen by the gods to descend to the world, an' save th' dead, the strongest and proudest of man, to be sent to the god's own home as their champion.

Golden metal encircled her form as the winds gathered around her. A helmet of gleaming, shining gold adorned her skull. Her hair fell down her back slightly, almost as though longer than before. The chains on her arms changed color, becoming silver, pure and shining.

Ye remember hao ye saved Will? It's like tha'. They save a man when he dies, though, not before, and redeem him in the next life.

Wings unfurled from her backside, new and weak. She felt them like they had always been there but had never been able to be released.

They're beautiful but powerful beings, flying from the heavens to earth, like the angels of lore...

Finally, as she stood before Will, she was glistening in gold and white, a dress of silk falling from an armored chestpiece. The chains she used for weight now seemed weightless.

Will could only gape in shock at the woman standing before him now. He was certain it was Frey. He waved his hand in front of her and poked her shoulder.

"Oi! Frey! I think someone done took yer place up 'ere!" Will shouted into the crowd mockingly.

"Och! Ye don't look any better yerself! Ye done gone and followed yer dreams then? Gonna leave me for the sea? And why are ye so damn wet?" she commented, hands on her hips.

"I could make a joke 'ere but I won't." Will chuckled, patting her arm. "Well aren't you a right sight! Can ye fly with those things?"

"I dunno. 'Aven't tried!" she said, flapping them experimentally. "But I can't feel any lift. Aww... I wanna fly with 'em though. But do I look pretty?"

"VERY! What about me, though?"

"Ye look about the same. Silly as usual." Freyja retorted, giggling. "And always covered in water anyway. I dun see nothin' different."

"Aww yer hurtin' me feelins, Frey." Will mocked, wiping his arms off even though the water kept pouring. "It's so nice and cool. I wonder if I can adjust th' temperature."

"What's it feel like then?"

"Like a bath in clothes always. So good." Will hugged his arms to his chest. "Aaaaahh.... Invigoratin'"

"SO YE DIDN'T NEED TO DIVE IN TH' FOUNTAIN AFTER ALL?!" Freyja joked, slapping his shoulder. "Ye dimwitted buffoon!"

"Oi! Another bath don't hurt!"

The two began going back and forth in their new forms, excited about the prospect of all of this.

Surely, with powers like these, this adventure would be EASY, right?

Edited by Thaelasan

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Dr. Robinson had their hands covering their face. Honesty, they didn't know what they expected. They knew that Edwards and Breckenridge were together together, but the youth thought that the two would have enough sense not to make out in front of the entire class. "Just your hands, next time," they muttered through their palms. They thought they understood love from an objective standpoint, but people kept finding new and interesting ways to surprise them.

 

At least it worked. (Of course it worked.) Now they just needed to reassure the newbies that no, you don't need to kiss to do the thing. Mr. Eginhard looked like he was trying to stop himself from bursting out laughting, and Robinson shot him a glare before regaining their composure. "A touch of the hands is fine, next time," they repeated, louder. "Thank you for that demonstration, Edwards, Breckenridge. The rest of you, try a few ice breakers before you attempt it and-- and you don't need to kiss!"

 

Eginhard could no longer contain his laughter. He'd never seen Robinson so flustered.

 

~

 

Those two were such showoffs, the water guy and his, his whatever the heck girlfriend. It disgusted her a little that they might have deliberately but it made her angry that the transformation had happened so easily, despite the leadup she'd heard about the branches. She didn't even look; her eyes were trained on the ground.

 

Before she knew it, she had grabbed the collar of the first person to her right and smashed her face against theirs, finding herself staring into a set of brown eyes and black hair tickling her skin. Aria knew what she herself wanted and wanted to be, but she couldn't visualize the other girl. What did the kid say again? 'focus on the soul of the other' or some spiritual horseapples like that? Frustrated, her grip loosened on the unfortunate teen and she looked away, unwilling to meet anyone's gaze.

 

"You ain't gonna make any friends by shaking them up, you know," a voice told her. She refused to look up.

 

~

 

Flint shrugged, leaving the frustrated girl alone with her problems. She didn't want anything to do with him at the moment, it seemed, but honestly, he thought she should learn to cool it. Dr. Robinson did say that it was easier to activate the branches if both partners knew each other kind of well, which meant that strangers wouldn't work. He didn't really know what level of wellness that implied -- from the doc's reaction it didn't need to be that well -- so he hoped that this would work. If it didn't, that was alright! An empty claim to loosen the mood a little bit.

 

"Hey Antonio," he whispered (or at least tried to lower his voice) to the other guy, and stuck out his fist for a fist bump. They knew each other from the earth dorms yesterday, and he hoped that whatever he knew from their conversations -- Antonio wasn't a really talkative guy and Flint's jokes mostly fell flat, but that was alright. He had to trust it was enough. "Let's show 'em how it's done!"

 

 

[[Narvix's turn, but the topic is now officially open! Let's go!]]

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The helicopter had exploded. It hadn’t been a part of Iori’s plan – he had just wanted to have a dramatic arrival. Well, he supposed that his arrival had been dramatic, but he had no idea if his parents had survived the explosion or not. He had been too afraid to go back to check on the wreckage. He didn’t want to see his parents dead bodies. He didn’t want to know if they lived or not. He would whether wait for the adults to find the helicopter and find out if there were any survivors that way than experience the truth in person.

 

The small sixteen year old wrung his jacket out and shook his head in a fruitless attempt to dry himself. He had jumped out of the helicopter and landed in the ocean before it had exploded, but because of that his entire person was drenched from head to toe. He wiped at his eyes and chewed on his lower lip. He didn’t know if his parents were alive. He had to find someone to help. He just needed to find an adult and he could tell them what had happened. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then decided to look around and see where he had crawled out of the water. His mouth dropped open when he saw the forest in front of him and he realized he was feeling light headed. He wasn’t prepared for this at all. He hadn’t even explored many forests in England. How was he possibly going to traverse this one and arrive to the school on time?

 

He sighed and looked further down the coast, then he saw a dock and some people gathering around the wrecked copter. He watched the scene for a couple of moments, then decided to duck into the forest and simply skirt around the mess he had caused. He moved close to the trees but paused, afraid of what might possibly be lurking in the darkness. He set his jaw and shook his head. He just had to find the adults and go to class.

 

It took him a shorter amount of time to find his way to the entrance to the school then he thought it would have. He, thankfully, hadn’t been bothered by anything in the forest, and now he was looking around a wall into what seemed to be a courtyard. He felt his stomach flip when he saw someone who looked like an adult in front of a bunch of other teenagers. He was late, and soaking wet, and he didn’t even have his uniform or Branch yet. He scanned the students for anyone else who might be able to help him, and he spotted someone with blue hair off to the corner. He didn’t think that person was a teacher, but they were only surrounded by a few people and they were away from the main group.

 

Iori wiped at his face again and looked at his hands, which he often did whenever he thought he might be injured, and frowned. There was blood on his hands. He looked his arms over and saw there was a fairly deep cut on his left arm, and he let out a sigh. He must look like a wreck. A bleeding, soaking wet, tiny wreck. He looked back at the person with blue hair to make sure they were still where they had been and he quietly walked over to them. He stayed quiet until he was close enough to be heard, and he cleared his throat. “Excuse me, sorry, but Mr. Blue. Can I ask you to show me where it is the office might be located?”

 

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Considering how problematic he had been last year, Alistair should have started out the year attending his classes and getting into the good graces of his teachers in an attempt to make up for his misbehavior the previous year. Despite his better judgement however, Alistair couldn't resist skipping class to see the new fish in the pond. Sure he had caused unnecessary drama and had set enough fires to make the staff question whether he was really an Air Stem or not, all of which the school really didn't appreciate it, but he could always grovel to the teachers later. He wouldn't get the chance to check out the fresh blood later, especially considering his busy schedule. Besides, it was their first time transforming. Everyone's first time was different. It was an unforgettable experience packed full of mystery, wonder, and complete and utter tomfoolery. Save for the few lucky souls with beginner's luck, just about everyone ended up falling flat on their face after running around hysterically wondering just how they were shooting fire from their hands or why they were suddenly floating in the air among other shenanigans. Alistair's first time transforming was downright hilarious and even after a year of training he was still a train wreck. The prospect of seeing the newbies flailing around wildly highly amusing, but Alistair didn't skip class just so he could laugh at the new kids.

 

"Remind me again why you pulled me out of class again," Solange asked, yawning loudly before rubbing her face with the back of her hand. The Earth Stem was sitting cross-legged right next to Alistair who was standing up, arms crossed in the "cool guy" fashion. The two of them were in a secluded corner of the courtyard, close enough to see what 1st years were doing but far away enough to be seen. The plan was for them to Link and turn themselves “invisible” using illusionary powers granted to them through their newfound Light abilities should they get caught, but it appeared as though everyone was too busy listening to the teacher to notice the two seniors sitting in the corner of the courtyard.

"I want to check something out," Alistair said as he glanced over at his friend and flashed her a grin.

“Check what out?” she countered as she frowned at Alistair.

“You’ll see,” Alistair chimed as he diverted his gaze back to first years. Sol glared at Alistair disapprovingly but eventually she sighed, shrugged nonchalantly, and dropped the matter entirely, pressing her hand against her cheek as she stared at the first years.

 

Dr. Robinson called forth two students and commanded them to briefly touch one another. Both Alistair and Sol perked up as they saw a boy and girl take a few steps forward.

“Do you think they know each other?” Sol asked as she watched the boy and girl turn towards each other. Before Alistair could give an answer, the boy and girl embraced one another and pressed their lips onto one another.

“Oh they know each other alright,” Alistair commented as Sol covered her mouth in an attempt to hide her snicker. The teachers reactions only added to the hilarity of the kids' little scene of passionate. Another kid, who seemingly didn't hear Dr. Robinson, grabbed a nearby girl by the collar and kissed her followed by another kid trying to get a fist bump from the guy next to him. Both Alistair and Sol had a hard time hiding their laughter as they watched the new students fumble around, trying to pair up with one another and transform. That was exactly how their first transformation went and seeing history repeat itself was so incredibly amusing to watch and, for a moment, the two forgot themselves in their gleeful laughter.

 

“Excuse me, sorry, but Mr. Blue. Can I ask you to show me where it is the office might be located?”

Alistair froze as he heard someone speak to him. At first, he was astonished neither he or Sol, especially Sol, didn't notice someone walk up to him sooner. He immediately thought that he had been caught by the staff but, after realizing that no self-respecting staff member would call a student "Mr. Blue", Alistair became puzzled. Whoever was speaking to him surely wasn't a senior, especially considering his reputation, so it had to be a newcomer right? Why wasn't he with the rest of the kids? As soon as Alistair looked towards the source of the voice did he realize just why the new student wasn't with the others.

"You didn't arrive with the others," Alistair said as he slowly rose to his feet. Sol quickly followed suit, her wide eyes darting between the newcomer and Alistair. "Keep a watch on the new blood, Sol," Alistair said as he briefly glanced in his friend's direction. "I'll be back in a second."

"You got it, Boss," Sol said. Without a moment of hesitation, she bounded away to find a new place to watch the first years. With Sol out of the picture, Alistair focused his attention to the stranger.

"While Mr. Blue is a rather charming title, I'm afraid it's not my name." Alistair said brushing s strand of hair out of his friend as he gave the boy his most reassuring grin. "My name's Alistair. I presume you're new here, yes? I'll take you to the office so you can get signed up." Formally, Alistair offered out his arm the strange boy partly in a ridiculous attempt to cheer the lad up and partly because he wasn't sure the first year needed any support or not. "By the by, what's your name? We'll probably be seeing quite a bit of each other for now on so making one another's acquaintance would be a great idea, no?"

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Watching the display in front of the class, Antonio gave no outward response to the unnecessary kissing between the... obvious, couple. Light surrounded them and in seconds, their appearances had changed. Was the banter really important for the pair? Antonio wasn't sure and he really didn't care. Glancing around, other students started mingling, trying out Links and seeing what they get. One girl close by practically assaulted another, earning a remark from Flint.

 

"Hey Antonio." Blinking, the male turned his head at the call of his name, focusing his gaze on Flint. "Let's show 'em how it's done!" The boy was enthusiastic, Antonio gave him that. Nodding, he curled his fingers into a fist and pushed his arm outward, bumping his knuckles against the other boy's.

 

All he had to do was focus and think? On the type of people they could or wanted to be? Well, easy enough to figure out what he wanted but it was a guessing game regarding Flint. Maybe he wanted to be a popular comedian someday, what with all those (lame) jokes he kept spewing. The thought made him smirk slightly. "I can see that," he murmured quietly.

 

Within seconds, Antonio was blinded by light. He watched his clothes change, shades of brown and yellow making up the color scheme. A tinted visor pixelated into existence before his eyes, an attached helmet gripping his skull. His short-sleeved shirt was traded for a long-sleeved one, a Kevlar vest weighing on his chest. Padding covered select parts of his arms and legs and gloves wrapped around his hands.

 

With the light faded and contact no longer required, Antonio took a step back to inspect his new armor. "I am... okay, with this," he commented slowly. Curious, he looked over at Flint to see what he got. "You look... ridiculous. Put a shirt on."

 

~~~~

 

Making a faint pop sound with her lips, Latoya watched the example transformation with faint interest. She was pretty sure 'touching' didn't equate to 'kissing' but, she guessed... if they wanted to do that then? But... ick! And now it was everyone else's turn to try. Though, Latoya didn't get much of a chance to make any sort of choice.

 

Before she knew it, someone roughly grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and slammed their head against hers. Or really, someone slammed their lips against hers. Her eyes were wide, staring with a mixture of shock and horror at the girl who grabbed her. Brown eyes locked with what might be described as amber. She's really pretty...

 

She was released before she could respond, a boy making some comment that the other girl didn't reply to. W-Was something supposed to happen now? Latoya's gaze dropped to the ground as she felt heat rise in her neck and cheeks. O-o-oh boy, did this school year start out with an impression? Anxious and off balance, Latoya chewed on her lower lip. Should she say something?

 

Heck, she'd only just been kissed. And, to be honest, she hadn't been kissed before, regardless of the intentions behind it. "I-I-I..." she started, coughing slightly to stop her stammering. "I-I'm Latoya!" she shouted nervously.

 

~~~~

 

 

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The power of the brofist was enough to blast their clothes off (or at least, shroud them in light). Flint's uniform dissolved into glitter carried away by the wind. Ribbons of light wove up his legs, forming pants that sprouted frills at the cuff. Both his and his partner's transformations lasted less than a few seconds, even though Flint had much less to actually put on.

 

"You look... ridiculous. Put a shirt on."

 

"What do you mean I...!" Flint protested, gaining a few looks, then realized how he suddenly felt more breezy. He pat his chest a few times in a frenzy, as if he didn't believe Antonio's assertion and wanted to prove it to himself. "At least I'm still wearing pants!" They were... flashy pants, but pants nonetheless. While they were covered in red sequins, they covered all the necessary bits, and that was fine with him. They were not the kind of pants he would wear to meet new people, but he had to admit it was within his style.

 

Besides -- he craned his neck to take a look at his shoulders -- he got some sick tats from it. He wasn't sure if he was glad or disappointed that his clothes were not as exaggerated as the pouring water coming from sailor guy. Unlike everyone so far, it didn't seem like his 'armor' would protect anything at all. He'd just have to get good at dodging.

 

"Policed to meet you, officer, and I apologize for the public indecency," he said, raising his hands in mock surrender. The cop getup was actually kind of pretty cool. Not that he would admit it directly.

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Who in their right mind would kiss in front of every first year in school?! Dimitri was going to throw up. It was only day one, and everything was turning into a crappy romance novels. Not to mention, the two lovebirds talked like they just had a copy of every Pirates of the Carribean movie for breakfast. Dimitri put that thought away and decided to focus on finding a partner. He saw one girl either trying to strangle or kiss another girl, despite the clear instructions not to. There was a guy who fistbumped somebody, and his shirt disappeared into magic sparkles. Eventually, Dimitri noticed a person with blond hair and a brown Branch on a neckace who happened to notice him at the same time. After a few seconds of awkward eye contact, the guy said, yawning, "Wanna pair up?" Dimitri, trying to tone down his usual venom, replied with, "Sure, as long as you don't try to make out with me." The blond kid stuck out his hand, and said, "Deal. My name's Matthew." Dimitri shook the hand and said, "Cool. Dimitri." Instantly, a jolt went through Dimitri's body. Fuchsia-colored flames swirled around him, which dissipated to reveal a violet-colored magician outfit. What was left of the fiery aura then coalesced into seven heart shapes and more parts of his outfit, the largest becoming the centerpiece of a gold ribbon on his chest. Dimitri looked at his costume, and asked to nobody in particular, "Is this supposed to be an anime cosplay or something?" before looking at Matthew , who just got some chainmail and an amulet. The two of them looked each other up and down, until Matt commented, stifling a laugh, "Your outfit does look kinda funny." Dimitri, still trying to hold back the snatk, said (a little too loudly) "At least I'm not Captain Fishbeard over there." Edited by MrSpyro

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Right after warning the new kids not to kiss, one of them pulls another into a rather violent smooch. Forcing a few more breaths through the nose, and Dr. Robinson finally regained their composure by the time the majority of students had succeeded.

 

The transformation was not as difficult as they described (they liked to make it sound more complicated than it actually was). It was quite intuitive for many people even though some of the students failed to get into the right mindset. This year looked promising, at least, unlike last year's buffoons. It was always a wonder seeing the expressions of amazement, disbelief, and best of all, embarrassment.

 

Clearing their throat, Dr. Robinson called for the students' attention. "We'll be moving on, but don't worry if you still can't get it." The group quieted down, most of them in the strange clothes born from the power of their Branch, but they did their best to try to reassure those who struggled. "This state of two connected Branches is called a Link," Robinson continued to explain. "A Link unlocks the true power of a Branch and increases your physical abilities across the board. The trade-off is, that newbies like you won't be able to maintain a link for long. I'd say, twenty minutes at most? You'll feel some fatigue after this, and that's normal.

 

"Remember what you're wearing. It's your battle outfit, your demon slaying getup, whatever. Picturing the other person's fighting clothes is the easiest way to initiate a link."

 

They pinned their Branch back onto their shirt and went on in a mock falsetto, "Oh, but Dr. Robinson, you ask, how will I fight demons when my armor's skimpier than the robes of an Epic level female mage? My answer is that you're still protected -- your Aura is the first line of defense against all attacks. It's a repelling force that lets you survive things that ordinary civilians might not."

 

"So, does that mean I can ditch my pants too?" quipped a student near the front as he puffed out his bare chest, and some other students burst out laughing. From his cheeky grin to his bright eyes and tuff of bleached hair combed forward like a delinquent's pompadour, they just knew this kid would be trouble.

 

"No, Mr. Albion." Robinson said flatly. "You cannot." A corner of the instructor's lips lifted into a smirk. "Aura won't stop your chestnuts from getting roasted."

 

"Buuurned...!" came someone's low shout from the back.

 

"More obvious armor means better durability, as a general rule. Everyone's fighting style is a little different, and your link clothes will reflect that difference. For the next exercise, I'd suggest turning back before this form uses up too much of your energy. Much like how you think about your partner to transform, you visualize your ordinary self to terminate the link and return to normal. "

 

~

 

Dramatically holding his heart after Dr. Robinson's counter, Flint pretended to stumble as if the words had stabbed him, but he still wore his playful grin. His flashy pants dissolved and his uniform re-materialized from the wave of light spreading from his core. At the same time, Antonio's armor vanished as well from the broken link. He felt a little weak in the knees and his limbs felt heavy since he transformed fairly early on, and he had to take a few moments of uncharacteristic silence to regain his bearings.

 

~

 

Aria continued to sulk for a long while after she'd released Latoya, her mouth pulled down into a frown and eyes looking into the distance. With the back of her hand she wiped off the other girl's lipstick from her lips. It wasn't her first kiss and it was barely a peck, but her face reddened up once she began thinking of the implications of what she had done and what was going to happen next.

 

The other girl stammered, visibly uncomfortable from the violent action. And yet, all she did was after that was introduce herself? Aria couldn't believe what she was hearing. She expected a 'I'm pissed' or even 'I'm sorry'. "...Aria," the girl finally replied. "I'm Aria. I'm in Fire, they told me." A heavy silence hung in the air, even as everyone else was admiring their new clothes. "We're supposed to get to know each other, right?" she asked, suddenly feeling more awkward than she was during the fallout of the kiss. "I like sports, fighting games, and fashion."

 

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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((First post. So far, so good. I hope my future uses of my lazy boy will be more inspired, but we are just starting, so I have faith I shall improve!))

 

After doing the change with the pale dark-haired boy- who called himself Dimitri- Matthew was enveloped in a bright light. For a moment he was blinded, but when he could see again he noted that his attire had indeed changed.

 

Matthew was now wearing what appeared to be war regalia: he was wearing some form of metallic armor, but it wasn't chainmail as it looked more like it was made of metal scales. He also had guards on his forearms, was now wearing some sort of shorts, and wearing a pendant.

 

Though he looked at least somewhat pertinent to the task of demon-slaying, Matthew could not help but laugh at Dimitri's outfit. He looked like a wizard with the hat, but his entire outfit was so covered in gemstones, pink, red, gold and a general motif of hearts that Matthew was obligated point out how ridiculous he looked while stifling his laughter.

 

Dimitri defensively pointed out the two up at the front of the group. The boy was indeed appearing as if he'd climbed right out of the ocean depths, and was constantly leaking water everywhere. Perhaps some armors were more powerful than others, but if they all these people were accepted they had to have merit.

 

After listening to Dr. Robinson explain how to transform back into normal clothing, Matthew felt like he should give it a try. After all, he didn't want to be tired for the day, and in the end he looked ridiculous too.

 

I'll save the fancy stuff for when I'm learning how to fight.

 

Focusing on his own appearance in his school attire, Matthew turned back to his normal clothing with a soft glow of light. Though it was fancier than what he was used to back home, it was certainly better than the alternative the Branch presented. He did, however, feel the need to be better informed about this subject. Raising his hand, Matthew spoke aloud.

 

"Dr. Robinson? I had a question. Is there a limit to the defensive properties of my Aura?"

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Thel was more towards the back of the gathered students, standing with his arms folded across his chest. Last night had been entertaining, figuring out which of the other water students were game for flirting and which ones were thoroughly against it (at least from him). Mr. Eginhard began to speak but quickly passed the mantle over to Dr. Robinson, a short young individual with an air of displeasure. They called a pair up to the front, a clearly established couple who proceeded to actually kiss rather than just simply hold hands.

 

He wasn't really interested in their banter or transformation, though the guy looked absolutely ridiculous and the girl was perhaps exaggerated. Shortly thereafter, everyone else was set to trying their first Link. Many managed to get their transformations right, several flashes of light filling up the courtyard. Others were not so lucky, expressions of disappointment and confusion etching across various faces.

 

Thinking briefly, Thel glanced around until he found a tall boy on his own. Smiling with a half-lidded gaze, he strode towards the dark-haired boy. "Well, hello there Tall-and-Handsome," he greeted, brushing a hand along the boy's arm as he moved to stand before him. The student wasn't much taller than him, only a few inches, and certainly proper looking in his pressed uniform. A silver watch on his right wrist held a Branch, colored some shade of red. Fire Stem.

 

Humming faintly, Thel tapped his lip. "You're fire," he started, leaning closer and stroking the boy's chest with a hand. "And I'm water." Thel tilted his head, rising on his toes to better whisper against the boy's lips. "Let's make steam." Not giving the Fire Stem enough time to properly react, Thel reached a hand up to the back of the boy's head at the same time he pushed their lips together.

 

Quickly, Thel thought about the handsome boy and his proper appearance, thinking of him as a good kid with guarded ambitions. It was a contrast to Thel's open intentions, selfish or sly as they might be. In a moment, Thel stepped back as a wash of light covered them both. Grinning with curiosity at what may happen, he watched his clothes change with a splash of sparkles. His school uniform evaporated, a skintight suit covering most of his skin. The sleeves ended 3/4 down his arms, gloves covered his hands, and belts strapped around his waist and right thigh. A vest clamped down on his chest as a cloak materialized from his shoulders, held in place around his neck.

 

Tugging the excess fabric down from the lower half of his face, Thel eyed his partner. "Martial artist hottie, huh?" His eyes dropped back down to his own outfit, twisting his body to better examine himself. "Love the boots and cloak," he mumbled. "I look good." Turning his attention back onto the Fire boy, Thel gave him a smirk and wink. "Name's Thel, love," he introduced.

 

Dr. Robinson started to explain how a Link could be broken, returning each partner to their original clothes. Brushing his fingers down a portion of his cloak, Thel thought about his school uniform and soft light swept the armor away. Tiring... A layer of fatigue gripped his body but Thel was able to shake it off quickly, running his fingers through his hair. But absolutely fantastic!

 

~~~~

 

Latoya wasn't certain what the other girl might do after she introduced herself. To her pleasure, the other girl did likewise. "It's night to meet you, Aria! I'm an Air Stem!" she informed excitedly, removing her hair clip to show the imbedded Branch to Aria. "I like fashion too," she commented, smiling brightly. As if to emphasize, she twirled around to show off the full detail of her customized school uniform. Flowers and frills lined the edges or sides as spots of sequins or fake gems glinted slightly from the sunlight. "I've tried sports and video games but I much prefer to cook different things," Latoya mused, starting to look a little shy. "Did you want to try Linking again?" she asked Aria.

 

~~~~

 

Why did he expect anything less? Flint made another dumb joke, playing a pun off his current appearance. A slight smile did crack the expression on his face, however, as the boy continued his usual antics. Antonio was started to better understand Flint's sense of humor, seeing a harmless pattern. Dr. Robinson gathered everyone's attentions again, explaining how to sever the Link and return to normal. Flint made a (not) witty retort about shedding his pants, to which Robinson made a stern quip. Now Antonio had to chuckle, a comment coming to the tip of his tongue. He left it unsaid though.

 

He hadn't been paying attention to Flint until a faint light surrounded him. In the next heartbeat, the armor was gone and Antonio was once again in his school uniform. Glancing over at Flint revealed the same. No more flashy pants. A heavy weight entered his limbs, a grogginess touching his eyelids as if he needed more sleep. Rubbing his face, Antonio frowned. So there was a time limit and energy limit to Linking. Good to know.

Edited by Narvix

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Will was doing fine, watching everyone pair up, and chatting with Frey. The two of them were going back in forth in their strong dialect...

Until Robinson said the forms were limited.

"Wait, wha?" Will said, turning back to them. "LIMITED? Are ye sure? Nae! ..... NOOOO!"

He shouted over the crowd, utterly dismayed. This form was so great, so comfortable, so glorious... so HIM! And now, it would be taken away like that?!

He looked down at his hands, depressed.

"Nooooo! I want ta stay like this furever!" Will moaned, grabbing Frey's shoulders. "There HAS ta be a wey!"

"Will iffin' she say it's limited, it's limited! Ye can't be thinkin' o' breakin' the rules. We'll get better at it, I pramise!"

"But FREEEEEY!" Will protested, holding up his hands. "Look at us! Ye have WINGS! I got a beaaard! We look amazin'! I dunnae want this to END!"

"Will, ye need-"

"NO! I WANNA BE A PIRATE FOREVER!" Will shouted, depressed. Frey punched him in the shoulder.

"WILL!" she hissed. "Quit bein' a child! You dunnae understand anything about the Branches yet. I dun either! Calm down and accept it for now, ok?"

".....But Freeeeey..."

"Look I dunnae like it either." Frey crossed her arms. "Don't ye think I love this new form too? Don't just think o' yerself. We'll both get through it. We'll both take these forms again. Didn't ye promise? Tagether?"

".....Yer right..." Will sighed, hands in the coat pockets. "But do me a favor."

He reached behind himself, grabbing the anchor from his back, and holding it out.

"Take a picture for the family, will ye?" Will said, "Back home?"

"Right!" Frey said, standing next to him and holding the phone in front of them both, then taking a few pictures.

She checked them, showing them to Will.

"YE! MEMORIES!"

"MEMORIES!"

The two of them stared at the pictures giddily as their transformations began to fade....

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After listening to Dr. Robinson drone about armor and roast a guy like a marshmallow, Dimitri's outfit spontaneously burst into heart-shaped particles to reveal his uniform. He wasn't thinking about deactivating the link, so he assumed it was Matthew who turned it off. That's all he could think before a wave of fatigue struck him like a lightning bolt and made him stumble backwards into another student and start a mini domino effect. The other kid fell down ebtirely, but Dimitri wasn't paying attention because the two pirate fanatics immediately started shouting like little kids. He just couldn't take it. He had to unleash the snark shark on their pirate ship and drown them. Dimitri cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Ya know, we're gonna be transforming a lot over the next nine months, no need to take selfies at the drop of a hat!" Dimitri also sent another shark their way, bearing the message, "Also, you talk like you have an entire fleet of pirate ships being shoved up your butt, take a grammar class, will ya?!"

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Dae-sung grimaced as he raised a hand to his collar, adjusting the fabric in the uncomfortable heat. The sun shone down, illuminating the grass. Before him, multiple flashes from transformations come and gone momentarily blinded the Asian boy, and Dae-sung lowered his glance for a split second to compose himself and search for someone he could possibly link with.

 

Really, he sometimes doubted his entrance into this academy. There was no one he knew, and it was a lonely world without a man by his side, but the Korean boy was determined to make the best of this situation. He had come to fight demons, after all, and there was no better place than on this field, right now. He would prove his worth, and that would mark his spot as a freshman entering the gates of the academy.

 

He listened with half an ear as Dr. Robinson spoke--it wasn't that he wanted to defile authority, certainly not, but moreso rather he was in a rush to figure out the intricacies of his Branch. He was momentarily distracted by this thought, and glanced down as a result; the pendant affixed to his watch glistened silver as the inside of his wrist caught the angle of the sun's rays perfectly, and he allowed himself a secret smile.

 

Fire. Perhaps not what he had initially wanted--for inner peace came through the flowing rush of the breeze by one's side, or the silent hiss of the streams, did it not?--but he supposed he couldn't complain. Fire was destructive and roaring and dangerous, yet fire kept the heath and home. Fire provided the base resource for man to succeed, and he would not let a gift go to waste.

 

Fire was Prometheus's greatest sacrifice, correct?He intended not to let the flames burn down his structure, nor become his greatest folly.

 

Dae-sung was startled from his inner musings when suddenly, someone brushed up against his arm. Instinctively, Dae-sung reacted by retreating back, yet he was hardly given enough leverage when immediately a mouth was pressed against his.

 

He could feel the faint hiss of the other boy's breath against his own, the shapely curve of a smirk his last sight as words whispered through his air, as smoothly as the whistling wind.

 

And then the newcomer pressed his lips against his, and Dae-sung's mind went blank. A flash of white light covered his lapse in thought, and before Dae-sung could properly regain his senses and react to this stranger suddenly kissing him, the moment had ended and he found himself staring at the culprit, now much changed.

 

The newcomer now was wearing a skin-tight bodysuit, thankfully covered by a vest from which atop a scarf rested. His muscles, olive-brown and visibly taunt as he stretched, exploring his newfound power, contrasted the easygoing smile that came into full view as the boy tugged down his scarf, smiling at him.

 

In response, Dae-sung flushed at the other's words. Martial artist hottie? What kind of configuration of words was that?

 

He took a second to look down at himself, and realised. Oh. Oh.

 

He wore a vest with not much left to the imagination, his abs visible from harsh days spent training at the studio. Thankfully, his pants were baggy and easy to outmaneuver his opponents in, but Dae-sung did have to admit it felt considerably colder now that his previous--and very comfortable--outfit was gone.

 

He flushed harder at the other as the newly introduced Thel smirked and dared to wink, eyelashes fluttering lightly on his cheekbones for a split second before the boy was yet again distracted with himself. Dae sighed, pulling the short vest closer into his body.

 

"Dae-sung. Pleasure," he replied curtly, though not unkindly, and separated his tight standing to better support his centre of gravity. Dr. Robinson mentioned there would be fatigue, and he could sense just a small tendril of tiredness beginning at the very edges of his mind.

 

~

 

You're such an idiot!

 

Caspian sighed mentally as he berated himself, delicately walking to the office. Of all the things . . . sure, he had packed his toothbrush, change of clothes, even a letter from his dad, but he had neglected to bring his medicine. He'd woken up today after a short nap with the inflammation in his joints as harsh as ever, and promptly realised the little bottle of prescribed painkillers was indeed not atop their regular place at his bedstand.

 

So here he was. 'Skipping' class--well, not quite, for Caspian always held the term 'medical leave' closer to heart than 'skipping', in an attempt to make his way to the office to either lie down or see if his obviously smarter father had realised the mistake his fool of a son made and promptly mailed a package as a remedy.

 

He turned a corner, waved hello to a group he had talked to before the break and briefly remembered their names, before excusing himself. Almost there . . .

Edited by Lady_Lunevis

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What did I just say about...! Dr. Robinson felt their frustration rise at the third kiss of the morning. Unlike Edwards and Breckenridge, who were a known couple, these kids barely knew each other! Those students might have been only a few years younger than themself, but the absolute promiscuity of some of these teens made Robinson feel like they were decades apart.

 

(Though the selfie? A good idea, if not a little dated. It was all about head-mounted cams and sweet videos now, since then you had both your hands free.)

 

They took care not to let their silent fuming show. Not in front of the kids. Sure enough, a blond-haired youth approached as everyone began to change back into their uniforms with mixed reactions -- though none as strong as William's.

 

"Dr. Robinson? I had a question. Is there a limit to the defensive properties of my Aura?"

 

"An Aura's power can increase or weaken depending on many factors, such as mental state, innate potential, or exhaustion, but it will never run out on you. As for its defensive properties..." They seem to pause to think, holding a hand to their chin. "You might not survive getting crushed, but it would reduce the damage incurred by flesh wounds or by sudden changes in velocity. Does that answer your question?"

 

 

~~~

 

For once, her envy fell away to wonder when she took a good look at Latoya's handiwork. "That's... actually very pretty," Aria said with wide eyes. She herself never really had the patience to sew or knit or even cook, and right away Aria could tell that they were miles apart in terms of personality. Latoya was probably patient enough to watch plants grow in real-time.

 

"Tch, fine. Let's give it a go." Robinson had already finished explaining the second part, and people were already reverting. Aria felt like Latoya was trying to piss her off with her niceness at this point, but with a hesitant, trembling hand she gave a handshake.

 

On contact, she felt a wind through her ponytail. Light replaced her uniform with a grey undershirt and dark leggings. A cropped jean jacket decorated with studs appeared with a shower of sparks around the same time as a pair of belts around her hips. Like a reversed video of burning, a large red scarf materialized around her neck, the loose ends floating as if blown by an invisible wind. And best of all, she felt a surge of energy, as if she had the power to do anything (though from the conversation around and the anguished cry of the water man, she figured the high wouldn't last very long).

 

Her partner's clothes were flowery and breezy, like a dress right out of a fairy tale, but Aria was more focused on looking at her own biker-inspired outfit. "Woah...!"

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Son, remember, ta live with integrity an' pride.

Always have pride in yerself and who you are...

 

Will didn't really have an idea what he was doing anymore. Maybe it was because of the exhaustion from the transformation. Maybe it was the pain of losing his transformation. Maybe it was simply anger at a rabble rouser.

 

Never forget that our country is full o' magic, more than can fill any cup. Our land is green and our waters are pure. We're a good people. A strong people. Our accent, th' one ye speak, is one from years o' culture...

 

He pushed through a group of people as Frey followed him, concerned. She grabbed his shoulder but he shrugged her off. He had no control of himself.

 

Some people may question you, son. And that's ok. But never, ever, let someone do what should never be done...

 

Will's hand was raised now, and before Robinson and everyone else, Will sent his fist hurtling at Dimitri's face. He put his full arm behind it - an arm strengthened by years of swimming, ship building, fishing, and working with his father. An arm full of pride for himself and who he was. He didn't care anymore if it hit or not. Just showing this boy he wasn't afraid...

 

Never let a man question yer dreams, son, because that's all a man has in the end.

Dreams.

 

"LET THA' BE A BLOODY LESSON TO YA." Will grunted, bearing both of his hands at Dimitri, his face full of rage. "LET A MAN ENJOY WHAT HE WANTS AN' SPEAK HOW HE WAS RAISED, YE INGRATE. Just because I dunnae talk th' same as YE? Because I actually want to enjoy things in this life, yer gonna make fun o' me?!"

He fumed at Dimitri, smacking his chest threateningly.

"I was raised ta speak this way by me FAMILY. A HARD WORKIN' ONE. AND ME LASS HERE SPEAKS THE SAME WAY, so if ye make fun o' the way I talk, yer not only talkin' sass about me, lad...." he leaned closer, his eyes stern. "Yer makin' fun o' everyone I love, an' I won't stand for it."

He shook with rage, even Freyja's touch on his backside doing nothing for him. She had no idea what to do. Sure, she wanted to punch the guy himself but she wouldn't have tried to do it in broad daylight in front of the teachers and everyone else! What had gotten into him?!

Edited by Thaelasan

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"Excuse me for a second," Dr. Robinson told Matthew.

 

The kid was not subtle with their insult at all. In two heartbeats the group had moved into a semi-circle to give Will space; it was clear that he was consumed by anger and no one wanted to get in his way. Love, hatred... Edwards was full of strong emotions. Once upon a time they thought that was a weakness, but many things have happened since then. Even if faced with an insult to the core of their being, Robinson didn't think they could feel such pure anger. If they were a regular student, they wouldn't have done anything; but they had a duty to uphold, and Eignhard wouldn't be fast enough to react. They widened their stance, passing one hand over their heart. A reflexive habit to check their branch was still there.

 

Will's fist hit a wall of earth and clay that shattered into a cloud of dust upon impact, and Dimitri was thrown off balance and into the grass by the ground erupting beneath him. Robinson's eyes glinted like polished copper as the instructor looked up, waiting for the dust to clear. They were bent over, one hand planted in the ground with all five fingers plunged into the earth like a claw.

 

"I would suggest you calm your raging storm, Edwards," they said, once the young man had finished his tirade. "And Winters!" the instructor shouted. "Verbal harassment is against the rules. You're not making a good impression with anybody, kid." As they withdrew their hand from the dirt, the ground between the two boys repaired itself as if nothing had happened. "Is that clear?"

 

"I hadn't expected to introduce the last part of the lesson in such a dramatic manner," Robinson muttered. They straightened back up, doing a few back stretches and rotating their wrist.

 

~~~

 

There were some lines that even Flint didn't dare cross, and insulting someone's accent was one of them. The class went dead silent at Dimitri's comment. Flint waited for the inevitable fight, which would probably result in snark mouth getting shipped to the infirmary.

 

He wasn't sure what happened, though; William's fist looked like it hit something, and the kid with the rattail was on the floor; but he didn't have a bloody nose or anything more exciting. He was unscathed.

 

It took a few seconds for him to notice the splintered earth and crumbled rocks under the duo's feet, and half a minute more to connect it to Dr. Robinson. Closing his eyes, he pictured the sequence of events again. Will went for the punch, Robinson conjured a pillar of earth to toss the other kid out of the way and take the hit, the decoy shatters into bits upon impact to give the sailor the satisfaction of hitting something. But that would mean...

 

He said his conclusion out loud. "...So you can use magic without being linked?"

 

 

((Giving y'all a chance to react to the not-fight before we move on.))

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Will blinked as he realized what he had punched. He knew his strength. That boy should have a broken nose or a bruise - something, anything to show the impact had been made. Instead, he was just laying on the ground and Will had dirt and clay covering his fist. He had felt some sort of blow.

The decoy he had destroyed crumbled into nothingness as he watched the remainder of it fall apart. The rest of the students all came to the same conclusion he did, it seemed.

"....I didn't see no Link, Robinson." Williams said, unsure of the honorific for the person in question. "How did ye..."

"WILLIAM EDWARDS!"

William turned quickly, before a slap came across his face and two hands grabbed his shoulders. Frey's face was full of worry and anger.

"Whatnow?!" Will exclaimed, his face stinging. Frey wasn't known for holding anything back.

"Don'tche be makin' a fool o' yerself on th' first day, you water-bilgin', dirt eatin'... GUTTERSNIPE!" she swore, shaking him rapidly. "WORRYIN' ME LIKE THAT. It's like ye didnae even hear me! Tryna punch a boy in broad daylight?! I dunnae care what sort o' honor it was for! Yer better than that!"

"But I had to- For us- For our families-" Will began, but Frey seemed to calm down a bit.

"Ye misunderstand, Will. Hold on." Frey said, holding him steady now, slightly more at ease. "I didnae mean let it go. I meant yer doin' it at the wrong time. Didn't ye see the trainin' fields on th' way here?"

Will thought for a moment, then the realization dawned on him. How could he have forgotten Frey wasn't a flower without thorns?

"Why... lass.... I dunnae know what I twere thinkin'...." William nodded, rubbing his face. "Ain't no pride in punchin' a man without a challenge first. Yer right."

She released him, pointing at the boy laying on the ground.

"Iffin' he's gonna speak venom, then he better have fangs to back it up, aye?" Frey said coyly. "And ye ain't the only one who wants ta see him roughed up a bit. Pardon me manners, teachur, but this is the way we do it back home. Ye see, when someone be makin' fun o' another man..."

"Or woman..." Will added.

"Really anyone attoll," Frey concluded, gesturing to the boy. "Only fair that he get a just punishment. And ain't it helpin' us if we do a bit o' sparrin' anyway?"

"It tis." Will agreed, arms crossed. "Right then. Mister... whatever yer name is. The name is William Edwards, case ye forgot. Will-Yum Ed-Words. And this here be my lass Freyja Breckenridge. I say this because I'm challengin' ye, lad."

He grabbed the anchor from his back, hefting the weight easily with both hands. It looked like a heavy piece of wrought iron, the hitching end shaped in the form of a fish motif.

"On me father's anchor and my family name, lad, I challenge ye fairly and anyone else ye wish to bring. Come linked or nae. If ye dunnae come, means ye spoke empty words anyway." Will smirked, putting the anchor back on his back. "Lady.... Sir.... uh... Robinson, sorry. Couldja help us set up somethin' like that? That's fair, ain't it? Bit o' back and forth? Promise I won't hurt him too much."

"I won't. Boy may walk into my fist a bit too 'ard." Frey commented. "Ain't no fault o' mine."

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Matthew was pleased with the answer he got, and nodded to Dr. Robinson in the affirmative. It was important to know one's limitations, after all. So while Aura could not protect from every possible threat, it never ran out as long as the link remained.

 

I suppose I should ensure nothing immediately kills me, and I should be fine. Doesn't hurt to be careful, though; pain is pain.

 

After he asked his question, Matthew noticed Dimitri calling out the boy at the front of the group who'd first demonstrated the Link on account of his change and his accent. The boy was visibly enraged and started carving his way through the group of students towards them, followed by whom he could only assume was his significant other, who didn't seem to be able to pacify him.

 

The boy started yelling in his thick Scottish accent about his family and how he wouldn't tolerate the disrespect, and raised a hand to strike him.

 

Dr. Robinson noticed this, asked Matthew to excuse her, and knelt to the ground. Matthew turned his attention back to Dimitri and his new 'friends'.

 

But no sooner than this happened had a wall of solid earth come up from the ground between them, and the Scottish student's hand struck it. Dimitri was unharmed but pushed backwards to the ground.

 

Matthew smiled at this new development, a glint in his eyes.

 

So this is what the power of a demon hunter looks like. Fascinating indeed...

 

Dr. Robinson had decided to stop the conflict, chastising both Dimitri on his insults and the Scottish boy- who apparently had the last name Edwards- on his anger.

 

Moments later, the girl who had followed the Scottish boy had her turn to be angry. She seemed positively livid as she launched a tirade at her friend, and then slapping him in the face. He seemed quite sorry now for what he'd done, but she wasn't entirely without her own anger as she announced her intention to fight alongside William (for that was the boy's name) against Dimitri.

 

With Dimitri still on the ground, the two introduced themselves as William Edwards and Freyja Breckenridge, and challenged him to a formal fight at the duelling stadium.

 

Matthew at last felt his time to remain silent was over, and he cleared his voice.

 

"So let me get this straight: You walk into a new school, the most prestigious academy of its kind on the planet, where you will be trained to fight demons which threaten the entire human race. And you decide to duel someone because they insulted you? Hardly justification enough, in my opinion."

 

He knelt down, and offered a hand to Dimitri, who was still on the ground. Still looking down, he continued to speak to William and Freyja.

 

"If it will slake your warrior's spirit, I will fight alongside Dimitri should no other offer to accompany him arise. An uneven fight isn't worth any honor, so if he shows up alone, why fight him? You'll probably just fight him on your own terms anyways if he doesn't show up."

Edited by Coryn02

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"A good man. A good man." William complimented twice, nodding his head. "I can respect a man who won't let another fight alone, even iffin' that other man ain't noble or just."

He turned to Frey, shrugging.

"No harm in a fair fight, aye? Now ye can join in too." Will said, rubbing her back with his right hand. "Good! It's how we like it."

"Och. A shame. He seems a friendly sort, even if he tried to make us look like we were th' bad guys. O' course we'd duel if we were dishonored. He's makin' fun o' our entire family line, our town, and us too."

"Bah. It matters nae." Will shook his head anyway. "Ye have the wrong idea about us, lad. I dunnae normally strike out o' anger or pride, I swear it to ya. This just... it boils the blood in me veins like a furnace."

"What's yer name anyway, boy?" Freyja asked, one hand on her hip casually. "And what's his? I... and I think we - would like to kin th' name o' the people we're fightin'."

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It was a mistake to come to Heaven's Gate Academy. Really, it was Opal's fault for not paying attention the consequences attending. Passing the test was one thing, but actually attending the school of monster fighting teens was beyond Opal's expectations. She had implored her Mother not to send her, after all, she had never been alone before. Alas, Mother just wouldn't have it and sent her away before she even knew what was going on. Now, she was standing among her fellow classmates, her left wrapped around her chest as she chewed anxiously on her thumbnail. She hadn't interacted with any of the other students as she was far too busy dealing with the reality of being sent away from home with little to no experience of being on her own. From a quick glance at the other students, Opal was relieved to find that she recognized some of the other kids. Granted, the people that she recognized were either the loud jokesters that just about everyone knew or the people she just so happened to bump into every so often. Letting out a shaky sigh, Opal bit harder on her nail as she stared down at the ground. How was she supposed to work with those people if she couldn't even muster the courage to talk to them? While everyone was transforming and marveling over their outfits, Opal had refused to make eye contact with anyone. So now while everyone else was finally turning back to normal, laughing and chattering amongst themselves, Opal was simply staring at the ground, doing noting in particular. Not for the first time, Opal silently cursed her mother for putting her in a situation that she wasn't prepared for and by no means handle by herself.

 

Unfortunately for Opal, the little get together was not going to end pleasantly. A boy with a rattail unexpectedly began barking insults at the couple who had transformed before everyone else. Opal covered her mouth with the hand she was nibbling on in shock at the boy's obscene words. He couldn't just insult someone's accent! That was... insensitive and rude! He didn't even seem sorry about it and, in fact, looked somewhat smug and perhaps even proud of himself. The tall boy he insulted did not seem keen on letting the insult slide. With his, presumably, girlfriend at his heels he shoved his way through the group of students, teeth gritted and eyes full of angry. Just as he pulled his arm back and swung his punch forward, a wall of rock emerged from the earth and settled itself between the tall boy's fist and the shorter boy's face. A squeal of surprise escaped Opal and she took a horrified step back. As it soon became apparent, one of the teachers had created the wall without a Link, much to everyone's amazement. The two boys were chastised by the teacher and, not to soon after, the taller boy's girlfriend chastised him as yet another boy, a blond one this time, helped the rattail boy up.

 

While everyone else seemed fascinated by the teacher, Opal was still wrapped up in the fact that the fight happened. Was that what she was going to have to deal with over the duration of the year? The kid with a rattail would have easily got a broken nose, if not worse, if that fist had collided with his face as opposed to the wall the teacher created. God, what if someone as strong as the tall guy tried to hit her? Opal was sure she would be too scared to even do anything and that wasn't even considering if the person attacking her was using their powers or not. Opal remembered seeing Stems on T.V. and it was terrifying. The students on T.V were jumping around all over the screen, shooting lightning, ice, metal, and other various substances from their hands and weapons. How was she supposed to keep up with that? Did the school expect her to jump around and fight monsters? She was physically fit, but she couldn't leap around on the battlefield, shooting water or whatever from her hands. Hearing the tall boy say he wanted to challenge the rattail boy to a duel didn't help the matter either. Lord, did everyone in the school fight one another? Was she going to be expected to fight her peers along with monsters?

 

"Helped save the world" would look good on a college application form, but that wouldn't matter if Opal was dead before she could get to college. Tears began to brim alongside the edges of Opal's eyes and she let out a quiet sob as she tried to discretely wipe them away with the back of her hand. It wasn't even halfway through the first day and Opal was already crying and felt like she was going to throw up. Her knees were wobbly, a growing stabbing pain was crawling up her neck, and she couldn't stop sobbing. Biting her lips to keep herself quiet, Opal wiped the remaining tears off her face and sniffed sadly. She could only hope her hair had covered up most of her tears; she wasn't sure what she would do if someone made her the center of attention right when she was busy trying to keep herself from bawling. Why did Mother think sending her to Heaven's Gate Academy was a good idea? At this rate, she was going to end up making a fool of herself in front of everyone.

Edited by Doctortear

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Dimitri simply stated, yawning, "I'm Dimitri." And then he pointed a finger at his friend and said, "And this is Matthew. And yes, we accept your challenge." At that, he turned to Dr. Robinson and asked them, "Are we allowed to arrange duels? If so, what are the rules and guidelines in place?"

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Robinson completed their sequence of stretches, ending with a crack of their knuckles. "This is a combat school. Of course we have rules to settle this in a civil fashion. The arena is still under construction but this field," they pointed to the dirt ground that they stood on, "would work just fine." Lines were painted in the earth to mark playing grounds. Any signs of any fights had long been erased through Robinson's careful maintenance of the area. They had to fix the earth frequently: ever since it became popular to fight competitively, there was never a dull moment. It was only a matter of time before the first years knew about these sparring matches.

 

"Official format is 2v2, Links only," the instructor glanced at William while stressing that rule. "Sometimes there's a predetermined time limit, but the match ends when one team becomes unlinked -- either from knockout, being too weak to continue, or forfeiting. It would be wise, however, to wait a little before dueling. None of you have even been acquainted with your elements yet. And no offense," Robinson told Matthew and Dimitri, "but Edwards and Breckenridge would likely wipe the floor with you in your current state."

 

With those words, Dr. Robinson went back to the front and resumed the lesson.

 

"As many of you have noticed, I didn't require a link to manipulate the earth. While they function at their peak in pairs, Branches also provide you with a certain degree of special abilities, as long as they're within arms' reach." With a snap of Robinson's fingers, a pebble flew up from the ground and landed in their palm. They twirled the small, smooth rock between their long fingers. "There are four elements, as all of you might have noticed by now: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. Not only does your element determine your sleeping quarters, but also, more obviously, what kind of magic you can use.

 

"There has never been an instance of a Stem with more than one element, nor is there any way to switch. But it's pretty arbitrary, actually, because if you're creative enough all these elements can be used in similar ways. Start off by channeling your element through your hands. That's usually the easiest. Earth and Water might benefit from having a jar of dirt or a glass of water to draw from, respectively. Some of you might be more gifted than others in this aspect, but it is indeed a tougher challenge than merely linking.

 

"That's your homework for Wednesday. Learn to channel and control your element even before thinking about using it during a link." Dr. Robinson gave a long stare, their brow scrunched in annoyance. There were always people too eager to try it out at full-power. "I don't want to need to fix any walls or put out any fires. Especially not in the first week."

 

The bell tower sounded in the distance during the silence that followed their threat. The long drones of each ring signaled the end of the morning classes.

 

"That was a constant problem with the second years," Mr. Eginhard chimed in as some students began to leave. "Take extra precautions if you're in Fire! Extinguishers are present in every room, but wild flames may also be smothered through the strength of any of the other three elements...!"

 

 

~

((Feel free to post; your characters are free to do whatever for a bit. I'll be adding the lunch portion late tomorrow so you have more places to explore.))

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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At the remark about Will and Freyja devastating Matthew and Dimitri, Will tried to hide his smirk.

"Sleeping quarters..? I'll... still be with Frey, right?" Will asked, concerned, as he had his hands on his hips. Then, Robinson began explaining elements, and Will became intensely fascinated.

"Within... arm's reach...." Will began, crossing his arms. "Within arm's reach..."

He pondered for a long while, before suddenly a thought crossed his mind, and soon he was running off at full speed, his uniform catching the wind as he headed through the throng of people, now completely avoiding speaking any further.

This was the moment he had waited so long for! Dr. Robinson had assuaged his fears! He could manipulate water, it was just about getting the water first. He needed a source, a siphon. And he knew exactly what to use...

 

----

 

Soon, Will was standing outside of the fountain from earlier. It was the average centerpiece - a large, elaborate, seemingly-Greco-Roman influenced piece of marble, carved into beautifully elegant shapes of animals and men.

Frowning, Will rubbed his chin and was pondering the whole affair as Freyja finally caught up to him, having only been moving at a brisk jog rather than a full run. She had a pretty good idea of what he was probably going to attempt.

"Will, don't push yerself too hard. Ye've already transformed and proven yer not in the right mind. Maybe we should try this later, aye?"

"Frey, ye know how much I want ta do this." Will said, turning to look back at her. "C'mon, I ain't gonna hurt the stone. I just want to move the water, even a bit."

"Fine then, go for it. May as well, seein' as how we got some time before the lunch hour or whatnot." Frey rolled her eyes, displeased. "But don't ya dare go breakin' it, mind. Ye've already made a worse enough impression as is."

"I got it, I got it." Will said, relaxing his shoulders. Frey took a seat in the grass, basking in the heat of the midday sun as she watched him with a curious gaze. A wind blew over them both, making her braid slightly move in the breeze.

Will stood still, rolling out his shoulders and breathing in deeply. The sun beat down upon him and Freyja as though it was an observer.

 

I remember the depths.

The hands that clawed at me made me realize that the water was alive. It's a livin', breathin' thing, full o' life and consciousness. It ain't a simple liquid, no matter what science ye apply to it. Sailors and landlubbers alike know the fierceness of an angered sea. The ancients gave water many gods, those who ruled over it as their providence.

It was just a matter o' earnin' the favor of the sea. Then, you could control it. Men had tried for centuries to get water to obey 'em.

I just need to look deeper. Gotta be calm and gentle, yet with the fury o' a storm. That's how water is. Deeper, into the abyss.

See the sharks, the fish, the cycles. The life and the death. Grasp it with hands like those o' the sea. Take it, intangible, and don't let it slip through yer fingers.

That's all it was, really, grabbin' a hold of water...

 

He had stood there for a full twenty minutes, holding out both hands and taking deep breaths. Frey had moved to lay completely on her back now, hands behind her head, sighing.

"Will maybe yer just not ready for it yet."she said, breathing out into the air onto a blade of grass she was holding in front of her face.

No response.

"Will? It ain't yer fault if you can't, ye know. Far be it from me to play devil's advocate, but ye may just need to practise like Robinson said. It's not a bad thing! Everyone has to practise!"

No response.

"Will? Will! Oi! Will!"

She sat up, concerned, as he began to move his arms slightly. Before her eyes, she saw it, for a flicker of a moment.

The water in the fountain danced. She could have sworn, for but a second, a small fragment of time, it had danced.

Will began to sway his hands back and forth, as though in some sort of tempo, unable to stop himself. His hands, like those of a director, began to sway.

 

The sea, it moves... It's always movin', back and forth, like a waltz of the waves, a ballad of the blue, a step of the sea, a tango, a turn of the tides. It's followin' its own music, a tune it's followed since the dawn of its creation...

 

He began to move his hands a bit faster now, to some unheard song, the beat kept, and the water suddenly began to move. Freyja's eyes were wide as she watched, unable to turn away. The water was captivating.

 

Let them see the dance, prove to them that the ocean is alive. They won't believe ye and it's because they dunnae unnerstand...

 

He began spinning around the fountain, moving slightly with his own hands. He skipped lightly, his massive form seemed to be no longer his own to control....

 

Let it guide you.

 

Another movement, another turn...

 

Let it LEAD you...

 

A great forte, a flick of the wrist...

 

Let it RULE you...

 

Freyja was now standing to her full height, watching as the water began to spiral around the fountain, forming images of men playing violins, women dancing to the tune, others drinking at tables. An entire tavern, formed of water, dancing to the tempo of a silent song played by a director of flesh.

 

But keep your hold upon the reins, let the horse carry you but carry it as well...

 

More people joined the carousing, an entire story told in the crystal, clear blue of the water.... Men, women, children, some form of festival. They're talking, they're dancing, they're singing. They're alive, they're happy, they're REAL... Will was giving them life.

 

Keep it up. Don't let the dance end before the music.

If they can't hear the song it's because they aren't listening. Give it to them.

 

Freyja could almost imagine the song now, a slow, yet strong shanty of the sea telling the tales of a thousand drunken or long-dead sailors, proud of their history and their strength, unabashed by the might of the sea. Accordions, violins, piano... played all in time to the waving of Will's flourishing hands.

 

They can hear it, and you're the one playing it.

 

The fountain began to bubble now as the power reached unstable limits. But Will kept a hold, moving back and forth. How long had it been now? Maybe an hour? Maybe two? Maybe less? Time held no meaning here. He felt no exhaustion, no fatigue. Freyja stepped back a moment, hand on her chest, as she worried for what might follow.

"Will!" she called, concerned, as the fountain itself began to tremble, shaking, the marble cracking.

"WILL!" she repeated, but he could not hear her now. The fountain was cracking even further now, the statue faces adorned in fissures as water began to burst from stony eyes, almost like tears, but for whom?

She grasped his shoulders as the maddening tune began to reach a climax, the cracks now wide and obvious. Water shot from the cracks, bursting the stone. She pulled him to the ground as the head of a statue launched from the pressure and landed in the wet ground nearby, the skull intact, the eyes caught in its eternal gaze of disinterest.

"What...?" Will asked, his hands relaxing. "What?!"

The stone statues burst into water that had become uncontrolled as a geyser pushed forth from the center of the statue. The entire fountain exploded within a moment, fragments of marble and granite all that remained. The pumps that had fed the fountain now shot water in pillars into the sky, creating a rainbow. The body parts of the statues adorned the landscape, the base of the fountain leaking water now. There was almost nothing left of the beauty from a moment ago.

 

Boy, be warned. Never, ever, underestimate the power of the sea. She can turn 'pon ye at any moment.

Beware the power of the sea unbridled.

 

Will could only stand with his hands by his sides, Freyja standing by him, as the water of the fountain poured out over the grass.

"I think.. ye may need... to practice more, aye?" Freyja turned to him, concerned. But Will could only gaze in disbelief.

He... had done this. He looked down at his hands, confused and perplexed.

Was it because Freyja had been nearby? Or had this been what he was capable of? Whatever it was... he had to keep a hand on it. This... this angry water wasn't what he wanted. He wanted a water of freedom, of life.

This furious tide he had just summoned...

 

He was afraid of it.

Edited by Thaelasan

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