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TehUltimateMage

Heavenly ★ Branches [IC]

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((Sorry for the delay! School restarted for me.))

 

Aria slammed her palms onto the lunch table as she stood up, making the dishes and utensils tremble from the strike. "I'm going to go look at the plane," she announced, "If I'm not back before the end of lunch, see you in class." Look at the plane, and to take a closer look at that rich kid and his inevitably awkward interactions with the people around him. Aria considered herself above the peasantry of the stereotypical 'stealing people's lunch money', though that didn't mean she couldn't give him a unique welcome once his butler left.

 

She did take one last mouthful of the spaghetti -- scooping the entire remainder of the plate's portion with her fork -- before stepping over the bench and leaving the dining hall.

 

She forced herself to turn her stomping into a lighter stepping. A deep breath through the nose. Proper posture. A smile. Agreeable. Her bad mood from this morning was barely suppressed. She felt if she relaxed even for a moment, the corners of her mouth would drag down into a grimace. The private jet. Why?

 

"Hey kid, you're late," Aria said as she approached, a swagger in her step as she swayed her hips. "We're on lunch. So if I were you, I'd--"

 

"--Head to the office?" An older man interrupted. Aria was a disappointed that her fun was cut off before she had even begun. He seemed to be a teacher, his most distinct feature being the thick framed glasses on his narrow face and brown hair casually combed forward. He held an insulated cup of what smelled like coffee in one hand. Aria raised an eyebrow. Were sweater vests coming back into fashion? This guy dressed like a nerd, and could probably pass as a student if he wore the school blazer.

 

"Pardon me for not introducing myself," he continued. "You're both first years aren't you? I'm Mr. Evans, and I have you both this afternoon for History."

 

~~~

 

"Looks like Sienna had her eye on you, if just for a few minutes," came another second-year's voice. His short black hair was a mess but his uniform was neat and he looked bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

 

His steps were completely silent, as if his feet never touched the ground. His blue-grey Branch eliminated any possibility of using air or earth to cheat. "But you haven't met the third member of their trio yet." He paused. "No, it's not me!" he added, shaking his head vigorously. "I'm Harold, and I run the school newsletter. Check it out." He made a small salute and gave a wink. "I came to examine the fountain. Not the first time it's been busted, but Mr. Knight's always been pretty mellow about it." With sleight of hand, he produced a phone from his sleeve and used it to take a few pictures of the damage. "You two are first years, huh? Matt and Dimitri, right? I heard about the incident this morning with you guys."

 

~~~

 

The sound of a knife banging against a metal tray rang through the dining hall, capturing the cafeteria's attention.

 

"First years!" called a shrill voice. A tan girl with a black hair cut in a bob stepped up onto a table, and banged the tray a few more times to command silence. The students at the dining hall seemed to obey, with the second years falling silent and the first years following shortly. This wasn't anything new for the returning students. The short girl -- with her head held high and proudly displaying the crimson branch on her choker -- had made announcements like this before on several occasions, when everyone assembled and sat down for lunch. And every time, she would demand complete silence as she paced on top of the tables, above everyone else. "First years," she repeated, "you new people. I'm warning you now, this school is ruled by the students. The staff is useless. But don't think this school's gonna be all fun and games because of that." She gave a sly smile.

 

A girl with long brown hair and pale freckled skin slid over to Dae, a lonely first year wearing a beanie, and whispered, "That's Lucy Cadmus. The student president, according to her, anyway." Her eyes shifted to Lucy from time to time, as if she was worried if the girl would notice her talking.

 

"And welcome back, you now-second-years," Lucy continued, gently leaping over to the next table, her high heels expertly avoiding stepping into Dae or the other girl (who sat up straighter)'s food. "Congrats to some of you for surviving literal hell, and congrats to the rest of you for surviving a year of boring as hell lectures."

 

As she stepped away onto the next table, the brown-haired girl found that her spaghetti was briefly set on fire and charred to an inedible state. Lucy didn't skip a beat. "Announcements for the week, or month, or whatever: club signups are posted in the common room in the dorms, provided that the appropriate people have posted them in the first place. There's a Beginner's Tournament for first years on Sunday three weeks from now. 2-A and 3-B are on cleanup duty, doubling up for the first year messes. For second- and third-years, some volunteer Earth stems are to meet tonight at nine to do maintenance on the shortcuts." She stopped her pacing suddenly, taking a moment to think if she missed anything. "That's about it for today. Any questions, newbies? Ask an upper year."

 

With that, Lucy stepped back down and with her feet on the floor she dusted off her skirt. Conversation began to resume, with some people beginning to leave to prepare for the afternoon.

 

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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Karna continued to watch Sienna as she walked with Matthew toward the cafeteria, his stoic and nervous form remaining perfectly natural for his Link partner to make use of at her own leisure. His lips seemed to quiver with the hints of an unnatural smirk - another piece of his well-worn masks - and his eyes traced the locked arms of the two multiple times to signify it was a source of interest for him whilst he kept the same pace as them and stood pretty close to the two.

A couple of moments of silent contemplation passed as Karna wondered if Sienna would take up the task before he noticed someone speaking. Turning a bit more toward the two as the young man asked something, the young Russian could not help but blink at him in return. It probably was not clear and easy to tell, yes, but wouldn't it be common sense for the two of them to be partners if he was asking her for practice assistance - something one usually did only with a Link partner specifically to synchronize and improve their cooperation and skills?

 

It seemed that his interest in Matthew waned along with Sienna's as another unknown student - most likely a first year - approached the trio and asked for the young man's attention. Seeing this, the young woman seemed to naturally split off and then approach Karna, who in turn gave the young man a quick flip of his hand and then turned around to follow once she walked past. Noticing the approaching figure of another senior - a certain Harold, who ran the school newsletter and usually had a field day on occasions such as today - the young man also gave him a curt nod and let him address Matthew whilst continuing toward the cafeteria.

An unnoticed click of fingers, followed by a mental command, was all it took for Karna to flow back into his natural self and shift his expression to a much calmer one, complete with an indifferent look in his eyes and lips formed into a slight smirk. His chest fell as he exhaled a soft breath in a sigh and faced Sienna, who was currently skipping backward whilst looking at him. The only thing he could reply with to her remark was a quick shake of his head.

"I'm pretty sure you noticed my attempt to 'thicken' this 'plot' of yours, so I'd say that's a no," Karna's soft voice slipped from his lips as he walked, one hand tucked in his pocket and the other gesturing along with his voice to emphasize certain point, before he paused. "Though I don't exactly approve of him, if I'm to base it on my first impressions," he added with a finger at his chin and gaze cast upward once they were out of earshot and then turned to look back down at Sienna with a smirk. Increasing the tempo to catch up to her side once again, he shoved both hands into his pockets and moved along with her, raising a leg for just a second more every so often and stepping more heavily onto it to skip and stay at her side.

"You should turn around before you hit the doors, you know," Karna spoke as he gestured with a gaze and move of his head at the obstacle behind her, but did not really move in to turn her himself - instead, he raised a hand to his face, wiped at his cheeks until the previous crimson hue washed away and then dropped his hands down and at his sides.

"Oh come on, don't tell me it's spaghetti again..." he seemed to mutter as the two approached the entrance, already able to pick apart the specific smell he seemed to almost resent, and let out a lengthy sigh as he placed a hand on his forehead and shut his eyes. Another bad morning?

"Well, I suppose you'll have a double serving and extra carbs for tonight," Karna just muttered calmly to his companion as the double doors in front of them slid open, allowing them to walk in and head down the corridors toward the cafeteria, the hints of a grin spreading onto his white face and making it even paler in comparison. Though it was probably just around the corner, the young Russian really did not wish to recall the cafeteria's placement and especially now, when it carried the aroma of spaghetti, so he would let Sienna lead on.

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Sienna smiled gently as Karna warned her of the doors, making no effort to face the opposite way even as they slid open. Of course, she came to a stop on the inside, waiting for Karna to enter and then proceeded to walk alongside him towards the cafeteria. All the while listening and contemplating responses to his previous remarks.

 

"With how you slept in this morning, even after I tried to wake you myself, skipping out on another meal will result negatively in this evenings practices. You need food, Karna and we won't leave until you ate everything off your plate, or would you prefer I force you to eat it?"

 

A smirk spread across her lips until they entered the cafeteria and they caught the end of Lucy Cadmus' little speech. At it again, was she? Not that it bothered Sienna in the slightest as the former had taken on a leadership role that most of the other second years avoided, seeing as how some didn't want the responsibility it entailed. Waiting until the girl finished her speech, Sienna motioned for Karna to go ahead and get in line even as she took up a light trot in Lucy's direction.

 

"Lu-Lu! As always, your speech was spot on and now I'm pumped for this evening! What say you we spar together? I think it'd be so much fun to take on the student president. If you're busy, that's understandable and I'm open to assist if you need me. So, how about it?"

 

Wrapping her arms behind her back, Sienna had leaned forward and put on a puppy face that held just a bit too much excitement to pass off completely as pleading.

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"Nah, that's not how you do it. But close."

Randall was still standing in the middle of the room, now on his other leg, currently standing with both of his hands pressed together in front of him like some sort of mock prayer.

There was, however, a new addition to the room. A trail of water led from the tip of the water bottle on the desk, down the side of it, across the floor, and then to Randall's foot. It was barely touching his shoe.

Will was frowning, disappointed, as he stared at the watery residue. All he could think to say was one thing.

"I cannae control the book." he realized, frowning. "There's no water in it attoll."

"Well you've learned that much at least." Randall nodded slightly but not enough to disrupt the objects on his skull. "Quick on the pickup, eh? Took you only, what, five tries? But yeah, you're not gonna be able to grab the book itself, and like I said, I'd rather you avoid damaging the pages of the book if you can help it. It IS a valuable text."

"Och..." Will grunted, scratching the back of his head. He looked over at where Freyja was sitting as he noticed a change in the air. She was having another go at it herself.

A slight wind began to pick up, noticeably different from the rest of the air as it traveled from the window to Randall himself. But before it could reach the book, Randall breathed forcefully at it from the side of his mouth. The wind sputtered slightly, then died, if wind was capable of such an act.

"Oi!" Freyja said, putting one foot down as though to run at him. "Stop doin' that, aye! Yer not doin' that to Will! I haven't even gotten close to the book yet!"

"Sorry, it was getting warm in here so I just blew some cold air." Randall smirked, shrugging a moment. "Besides this challenge would be cake for a good air Branch with no handicaps, in my opinion. That and even an amateur Earth Branch. Learn this lesson, you two - certain Branches have an easier time with certain things than others. It'd be easy for an Earth Branch to move an object but not to precisely place it unless they were pretty advanced. But your Branches are all about precision, especially Wind."

"Grr...." Freyja growled, turning back to try again, putting all her concentration back into it.

"Besides, Freyja, in a real situation, there would be a hundred air currents riding alongside yours at any given time. If we were outside, this challenge would be almost impossible for you - at least, with how strong you are now." Randall added politely. "I'm not here to hold your hand on this one - I'm here to try and teach you something. But, I'll help you."

He pondered a moment.

"Will, what happens when you drop a binder in water? A plastic binder?" Randall asked.

"Uh... it floats?" Will replied.

"No, I meant to the surface of it. When you pull it out of the water, what happened to the front of it?"

"...It got.. wet?"

"No. It didn't. Think harder. Does the water actually harm anything within the binder?"

Will thought for a moment before realization dawned on him.

"No... it drips off like it never got it damp..." Will said. "Then...-"

"That's right. The reason the book has no water in it is because of the plastic cover." Randall nodded. "Though the pages are a lot more vulnerable than they would be in a binder. Don't worry - it isn't just you being unskilled that's causing you to have a problem. It's also because today, unfortunately for you, I chose a plastic book."

For some reason, Will felt that every book Randall owned had plastic covers just for this reason, though he didn't say it.

Sighing, he began his next attempt.

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As she left, Matthew waved goodbye to Sienna. That entire exchange was rather weird from his perspective, especially with her partner showing up and making things more confusing. But Matthew wasn't one to remain fazed by such things for long, and soon enough another person made his appearance.

 

This one had short, black hair, and seemed otherwise quite proper. A good example of what the school expected of its students, in a word. Or at least the optimistic expectations...

 

He introduced himself as Harold, mentioned he'd come to check out the fountain, and also that he had not met the entire trio of Sienna and Karna.

 

Wait... They're in a group of three? Is that allowed? And what did he mean, she had her eye on me?

 

Deciding it was only polite, he introduced himself. "I am Matthew, yes. It's a pleasure to meet you."

 

Matthew then realized that Harold was implying he and Dimitri were the ones to destroy the fountain, and was quick to try and render himself innocent.

 

"Oh, um, you've made a mistake. Dimitri and I didn't destroy the fountain. The Scottish couple from before did. Freyja and William, I believe."

 

With that out of the way, he proceeded to ask about Sienna and Karna. They seemed interesting, and since they were more experienced students it was entirely possible they could help him out if they were on good terms.

 

"So, what can you tell me about the trio? And the newsletter, might I add?"

 

Matthew was actually interested in reading it.

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The girl began to stutter as she tried assuring Thel that she was alright, wiping away tears left behind on her cheeks. Not very convinced, Thel stood straighter. "Well, alright. If you say so," he said slowly. After a moment, "I'm going to the cafeteria to eat." Scratching the side of his jaw, the tall boy hummed faintly. "If you're hungry too, would you like to accompany me?" he asked.

 

The girl seemed to hesitate before nodding in reply and Thel started walking. "My name's Thel, by the way." The cafeteria was busy by now and Thel slipped into the lunch line. Gathering his food, he was faced with the difficulty of trying to find a place to sit and eat. That didn't happen right away as he became distracted by the sound of... a jet engine? Glancing over, he watched as a blond-haired student stepped out of what surely was a jet. Shaking his head, he continued on with his current task. Eventually, he found some empty seats. "Will this be okay?" he asked the girl.

 

At some point, a metallic banging filled the cafeteria and someone shouted above the noise, gradually calling everyone's attention away. Some girl with dark hair and tanned skin began walking across various tables, talking as if she ruled the place. Thel took note that she didn't introduce herself, rolling through some set of announcements instead. He almost rolled his eyes, a short-lived fire catching his gaze as another girl lost her lunch to the flames. Magic practice gone wrong?

 

When the speaker was done talking and off the tables, Thel focused on his food again. "Well, that was... Something."

 

~~~~

 

Taking the cup of dirt that Flint pushed towards him, Antonio briefly examined its contents before removing a small handful. Unlike the other boy, Antonio didn't try tasting any bit of the dirt. He just stared at it. Or, really, he was staring at the dirt covering his palm and trying to get a feel of it at the same time. Exactly, what was he supposed to do to complete the homework assignment? Levitation? Pebble throwing?

 

Thinking on it, he didn't even know what he could do. From Dr. Robinson's display of power, it was obvious that an Earth Stem could manipulate the ground but was it only solid rock or could that control extend to basic soil? Frowning, he put the dirt back into the cup just as a loud engine filled his ears. Turning to locate the source, a girl shouted, asking who would park a jet in the school. A jet would explain the noise but, was it really necessary? Flint seemed to have a different thought process than the girl and Antonio.

 

The distractions didn't end there, however, as another girl took stage on top of the tables a little while later. She went on about how the teachers didn't control the school but there were rules regardless. Antonio found that a bit... odd. A school under the control of the students didn't seem like a good idea. He pushed it out of his mind though - the girl was moving on. He didn't know what 2-A and 3-B meant but he figured it had something to do with student groups or class standings. Either way, the girl was done talking soon enough and people were able to continue their lunch. Hopefully without further disruptions.

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She had received a note slipped into her locker when she returned to the dorms that day, after moving through the crowd of excited first years assembled in front of the digital bulletin board for club signups. Aria decided she would check the lists later when there were less people. Hopefully there would be soccer or boxing, or even sparring.

 

She turned her attention back to the strange note, the paper crinkling in her hand. The letters of the letter were collaged, as if clipped out of old magazines. Whoever did it went through all the trouble to print out and stick them together.

 

user posted image

 

Meet @ 8pm

room 208

 

Aria had half a mind to just toss that thing in the trash. It was probably a prank of some kind, pulled by an upper year who liked to toy with new blood. It occurred to her that she might have been a high profile target from the stunt she pulled earlier that day, and on top of her explosive temper. She felt like she couldn't help it. The new setting made her anxious and on edge. She had never left home for this long. The food wasn't as good, here, and that dumb magic exercise... She hadn't figured that out yet, either. However, glancing aside, it seemed like some other students had gotten the same message.

 

The people behind the prank were in for a surprise, if their intentions were to mess with her or anyone else. She would be the one doing the messing up. Aria cracked each knuckle in turn in anticipation, before putting a hand on the doorknob and entering the Science Room (208) a couple minutes before the appointed time.

 

There were already quite a few students there, some familiar faces from the exercise this morning, others she didn't know as they were either not part of her class, or not part of her year. Some dude had a chicken on his lap, and, taking his attention off the bunsen burner for a second, gave her a smirk and a small wave. She nodded. Taking a deep breath, Aria sat down on a stool and laced her fingers together. Take it easy until the field was mapped out. Like in games. No use in rushing right out into demons without knowing how many there were.

 

She figured the people most at ease in the room weren't new to this -- in other words, they were upper years. The chicken kid, the girl with the green headband, the and one with the cat headband. On the other side of the room was a girl with brown hair drawn back in a low ponytail and square glasses, leaning back on a counter, alternately watching the clock and the entrances. At precisely the stroke of eight, she gave sign to the blue haired student with the chicken.

Edited by TehUltimateMage

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So these were the first years Sol gathered? Alistair wasn't entirely sure how Sol would take his request of "find the students that catch your eye and bring them to the meeting". With Sol, just about anything was possible. Least to say, the new blood she gathered was interesting to say at the least. Alistair had winked and offered a wave to girl he vaguely recognized as the one of the new kids who thought smooching was the to activate her powers. He recognized a few the other children from his little spying session with Sol along with a few people he didn't notice before. There was a small girl staring down at the hands in her laps seated right next to a very tall individual who was casually whistling to themself, occasionally glancing down at the girl with a worried look. Alistair was so caught up in staring at the newcomers, picking out which ones he knew and which ones he didn't, the watch on Sol's wrist let out a soft ding. She glanced over at Alistair with a raised eyebrow.

"This is our crowd?" Alistair asked himself quietly as he glanced over at the group of new years. There was a decent amount of them and they all seemed utterly confused as to why they were there. Perfect. "Time to get this show on the road," Alistair said to himself as she swirled his chair around to to face the crowd.

 

"Good evening, my lovely first years," Alistair said solemnly as he leaned forward in his chair, taking care not to push Rihanna off his lap. "You all must be wondering why I brought you here." God, he always wanted to say that. As cliche as it was, Alistair felt empowered just by saying it. Alistair folded his hands together in a cartoon villain-esque way before lifting an eyebrow at the first years in front of him. "You've all been selected to join this secret little club for a variety of reasons," Alistair began, using the most dramatic voice he could come up with, taking care to speak slowly in a smooth tone. "Perhaps your innate mastery of your powers during the first test caught our eye. Maybe your the way you treated your comrades caught our eye. Perhaps we read over your school file and found something juicy in your past. Either way, you piqued our interest and that was enough to call you here." None of that was true of course. Alistair didn't have the resources to break into the office on the first day of school, let alone search through the school's database to look at each first year's profile. He also highly doubted Sol picked people based on some brilliant talent they had. It was more than likely she just picked people who had a nice hairstyle or told a joke she thought was funny. The second years in the room probably knew that, and some of them might have been snickering under their breath, but Alistair thought he was a pretty good actor and hoped the second years didn't look beyond his dramatic display.

 

"It doesn't matter how we found you," Alistair said with a simple shrug, leaning back into his chair as he dragged his fingers through the feathers on Rihanna's head. "You're here now and that's all that matters. You see, this school, as you might imagine, is rather different from the norm. There are secrets hidden away in this place that the staff would rather keep behind locked doors." Alistair stopped petting Rihanna and clasped his hands together. "I, for one, refuse to just sit back and toil away at schoolwork when there's a bigger mystery at hand," Alistair proclaimed, narrowing his eyes and his gaze flickered from each individual in the room. "My first year here was... restricted to say at the very least. There are certain aspects of the school I was ignorant to until the last few months of my first year. Had I not been so preoccupied by the initial grandiose spectacle that this school is, I might have noticed the light trickling through the cracks. I can only assume you all have also been enthralled by the wonders of a school whose very foundations are built upon magic, so to speak."

 

Alistair extended his hand forward, reaching it towards the first years.

"This is why I have brought you here," he explained. "There are secrets hidden within the far reaches of this school, both wondrous and horrific in nature. The staff would rather keep you hidden in the dark, preoccupied by your school duties than investigating what's really going on behind the scenes. I would like to enlightened you, if you so desire, and teach you in a few months what took my a year to learn. Anything from helping you master your element to learning what lies within the depths of the school is on your fingertips." Alistair sank back in his seat and resumed to pet Rihanna who sank into his lap with a soft coo. Nothing he just said had any substance to it. Honestly, he just mumbled about some cryptic nonsense that had little value to it. Of course the school did have a few secrets, everything did. It just so happened to be that Alistair had either involved himself with said secrets or was the reason said secrets existed. In all honesty, Alistair had called everyone in without knowing what he wanted to do, but the seconds years didn't need to do that. To them, he was just a creepy guy in a chair telling them some cryptic stuff about the school and that was good enough for him. "Oh, and before I forget," Alistair added as a sudden afterthought. "If you want to leave now, you're free to. Just don't be surprised if you tattle us to the teachers only to find this room completely empty. We know how to hide." Now that was true. Alistair would cut off his own thumb before he'd let himself get caught by the teachers. "Now," Alistair said as he tilted his head to the side. "Do you have any questions?"

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Sienna was more enthralled by Alistair's acting, the words he spoke practically going in one ear and out the other as she giggled softly at his villain-esque charade. Of course, it seemed quite forced to her, but whether or not the first years in the room would pick up on it or not wasn't a big deal either way. Regardless, as he carried on about the marvels and hidden wonders about the academy, Sienna took the time to observe the new students who had decided to attend. One girl, in particular, caught her eye, the judging gaze and stern expression. She wasn't here for games, more so to see what all this was about. At the end of Alistair's commentary, Sienna turned her gaze back at her equal and proceeded to raise her hand when he had asked if there were any questions.

 

"Yeah, Ali, I have a question. Is it okay if I go make sure the hydra isn't sleeping in the toilet again? It'd be problematic if it was, cause I really need to go."

 

Smiling, she stood from her spot in the room and proceeded to the entrance, stopping and turning to face the new students. Taking a few steps back, she then pointed at the grumpy girl (Aria) and then motioned for her to move closer. Of course, she did it in a non-imposing fashion and with the smile still on her face, but how she'd actually react to it was uncertain.

 

"My name's Sienna, I'd like you to accompany me to the restroom as my backup. You never know what might pop out. Also, Ali, make sure Violet doesn't hear of my attendance... she'd be quite upset to find out she's been cuddling a pillow with my favorite movie actor on it."

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Looked like the blue-haired kid had a flair for the dramatic. He pet his chicken as if it were the white cat on the lap of a villain from old movies. The resemblance was too accurate to be simple coincidence. While she herself wasn't too impressed by the display and his promise of figurative riches (nor were most of the second years, as if they had attended some variant of this speech before), she did hear the guy behind her whispering "So cool!"

 

One of the suspected-second-years -- the girl with the dark skin and light hair, aptly named Sienna -- motioned for her to come forth. Looked like she didn't care to much for the blue-haired kid either. Aria rose from her seat.

 

"Can't go to the bathroom yourself like a big girl, hm?" she mocked, the corner of her lips lifting in a smirk. "I do have a question, though, first."

 

It was a question that must have been hanging on many people's minds ever since they entered the academy, but many of the staff she asked were evasive with the question. She wanted some straight answers, from actual students. "When are we going to actually fight demons?"

 

The older girl with the brown hair and the glasses, after remaining stoic the entire speech, finally moved. Brushing a lock of hair behind her ear, exposing her jay blue Branch set into an earring, she stated, "Last year's rookies," she raised her chin to look at the second years, "didn't even get sent onto the field before they were four months in. Get a hold of your magic, first." Aria gave her a look. If her hands weren't on the desk, they would have curled into fists. The girl pretended not to see it and chose instead to adjust her glasses. "I'm Tanner, Tanner Sybil. It's my third year back."

 

"Which means that you've been chosen by the academy before it opened the doors to the public," Flint interjected. Aria turned her head to look at him. He was all starry-eyed, as if he were meeting a celebrity.

 

"Y-yes," Tanner stuttered. "Seems like someone did their research."

 

"That bathroom break would be really nice right now," Aria sighed, finally approaching Sienna.

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Will held his grip firmly on his anchor, a bead of sweat dripping from his forehead down the side of his face. He held the weapon with both hands, frowning.

"Remember, the trick is not actually using the weapon." Randall said, sitting crosslegged where he was on the edge of the destroyed fountain. "It's using what you imagine the weapon to be."

"What does tha' even MEAN?" Will asked, exasperated. For a while now, he had been swinging it, only for Randall to smack him in the back of the head for doing what he thought was right.

 

An hour ago, Freyja and Will had been told by Randall that his anchor and her chains would make suitable weaponry against the demons. At first, Will had scoffed.

"This thing is jus' used to moor a ship. Sure, ye can swing it, but it ain't exactly proper..."

"Proper means nothing against demons." Randall shrugged. "Besides, you won't be using IT, just what you imagine it to become."

And now, both he and Freyja were desperately trying to understand what that meant.

Randall sighed, leaning back on the fountain's wreckage with a bit of comfort.

"You keep binding yourself to what you think it is based on your perception of reality. You have damn MAGICAL SKILL." he said bluntly, waving his right hand. "BE MAGIC. DO MAGIC THINGS."

 

"That doesn't explain ANYTHIN'!" Will protested, exhausted. The back of his head hurt. Could he get Randall in trouble for corporal punishment? He entertained the idea for a second.

"Stop thinking the anchor in your hand is just an anchor. Think of it like... a wand. Yeah! A wand! You're a WIZARD."

Randall made jazz hands.

"You're a magic maaaaannn~..." he sang.

There was a moment of silence.

"What, you don't know Heart?" Randall asked, his joke falling flat. William shook his head, confused.

"My god. I have to teach you more than just magic. But one thing at a time." he said, crossing his arms. "Look, just put the anchor away.

William obeyed, returning the anchor to where it sat holstered on his back, strapping it back to his shoulder with a bit of effort. He turned back to Randall.

"Now imagine what it looked like, and put it back in your hands." Randall said.

William reached for it.

"Without using the actual thing." Randall added.

William stopped short. Freyja frowned.

 

"Ok now this is ridiculous." Freyja stated flatly, holding out her hands. "How do we just create this, then?"

"With your magic, of course." Randall said as though it was obvious. "Don't you understand anything about the power you've been given? Now do it."

Freyja huffed, holding out her hands experimentally and turning to Will.

"Any ideas?" she asked, displeased.

"None, Frey. I guess just use our imagination?"

"Lovely." Freyja shook her head with irritation.

 

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Sienna stood patiently in the doorway, her lips beginning to part as she prepared to respond, but found Tanner Sybil had beat her to it... for the most part. Standing patiently and listening, Sienna finally found a chance to remark on the matter before Aria made the decision to proceed to the restroom.

 

"The Academy is picky in the sense that they only send out those who they believe are fully prepared. If you aren't up to their standards by the time you're supposedly able to go out, it's probably best you get comfortable in your room at that point. Of course, last year we took on a few casualties as well. Primarily due to the fact that said rule was loosely followed at the time, but this year they've decided to enforce it to its fullest... or so I've heard."

 

Without pause after her remark, Sienna latched onto Aria's hand and began pulling her into the hall, tilting her head slightly to look back at her and smiling.

 

"My bladder is about to burst, so let's go, let's go. Also, I'd suggest speaking with my partner, Karna at some point... both of you make such snarky remarks, I'm almost certain you'd get along quite well with each other... or at each other's throats."

 

 

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(Horrible post is horrible.)

 

A boy at the back of the room, one Matthew McCarthy, scarcely paid any heed to the speech that was being spoken to the group.

 

All the while, he was more focused on a small stone he held in his hands: Focusing his thoughts, he was using his Branch to change its shape. A cube, a sphere, a pyramid. Essentially, he was doing his homework.

 

In the room there were a number of other individuals, of varying ages. He supposed those who were not leading the group were also invited the same way he was: a ransom letter.

 

Silently, Matthew raised his hand, still focused on his stone, to get the attention of the others.

 

"I had a question too. How is it Robinson can use their Branch so well without a Link?"

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Only half satisfied with the answer, Aria found herself whisked out of the room by Sienna. The girl had rephrased the facts in a slightly nicer way, but the reality of the situation still stung. She -- and the rest of the first years -- were day-one novices at but a fraction of their full potential.

 

"Karna? I don't have a good track record when it comes to getting along with people, and you know the school better than me." There had to be a reason why she was singled out. After an attempt to shake her arm out of Sienna's grip, she went straight to the point. "What do you want from me?"

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"Ah, no worries, he isn't much of a people person either and if you get into a little tassel... you have fighting experience, right? You look like the kind of kid who got in a lot of trouble in school cause the others couldn't handle your rough housing, but that's just based on what I've seen in my travels."

 

As the two walked further into the hall, Sienna felt the tug and released her hold without a second thought. For a moment, there was silence, but then Sienna turned on her heel and continued to walk backwards while focusing her attention on the girl.

 

"Your vibes scream like they don't want to be here, but you attended anyway... I guess the notes did look more like something of a challenge rather than an invitation. So, what brought you to the meeting? Curiosity?"

Edited by zakku_uchiha

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"Be here as in going to this school?" A moment later, Sienna clarified she was talking about the meeting. "Oh. Part curiosity. Part making sure nobody gets in trouble. The letters were pretty suspicious... Shaped like ransom letters." Ransom letters from old movies. And, besides, she had nothing better to do at the time.

 

"But that's a question you could've asked anybody without literally dragging me outside. Is it because I look like I'm ready to pick a fight, like you've guessed?" The girl raised an eyebrow. "Or are they doing something back in the room I'd rather not know about?"

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The entire day was just one blur. The marketers forgot to mention the little fact that anything significant would require a connection with another person; she was currently trying to figure out which was worse, this or regular school. Would the fight against demons be worth tolerating one person? She'd have to figure that out along the way, unfortunately. Immediate answers were the ones you could search on the Internet.

 

The puzzling thing was that cryptic message she'd been given earlier. Originally, she had chosen to ignore it, thinking it was some sort of bull-sh** from a student who didn't have better things to do. But looking at it again, she was awfully curious. Why not? I can easily leave. At least, she hoped she could. After all, she had no clue what she was walking into.

 

A bright spot of pink in the hallways caught her eye. She followed the locks downward to see the person underneath it, walking casually and carrying….was that Starbucks? She didn’t realize that it was available here. Possibly this person also received the cryptic message, and decided to believe it a little late like herself; assuming that people headed to the room before her. Considering that this person was the only one she had seen on the way, it was likely the case.

 

Jessica Nadolski was not one to initiate conversations. She picked up her pace a bit.

 

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Cas hummed to himself as he strolled down the corridor, two Starbucks drinks clutched in his hands. A stray wisp of pastel-pink hair escaped the loose ponytail at his side and tickled the side of his face, and Caspian exhaled into the early night air. It wasn't a bad day to retire early, he mused, but he supposed there were sacrifices to be made in the name of Ally's little plan to introduce the first years to their ... new lives, he supposed.

 

Still, that didn't make getting resigned to coffee duty any more appealing. He hasn't seen Alistair for the entire summer, give or take, he figured there would be more to do than a Starbucks run. Configuring such thoughts in his mind, Caspian played around with the idea of doing a grand entrance into the meeting--he could always open the doors and float in like some Greek god; Zeus holding Starbucks would be a sight to behold.

 

But no. He wasn't one for flair beyond what was obvious--the pink hair was a nice touch, though he had to fix up his roots soon, and there was entirely too much for the first years to take in, all things considered.

 

Up ahead, Caspian straightened when he noticed someone in the otherwise empty hall. A girl? She seemed to be moving quickly, and looking away. Another student?

 

"Hello," he called, quickening his pace to catch up with the other, though they were not far ahead. "What are you doing here? I'm afraid the science room is currently limited, my apologies."

 

~

 

Elliot placed an arm on the table and leaned back as casually as one could while balancing on a science stoll--seriously, did this school not have proper seats? He was beginning to doubt his coming here. The blond heir's eyes flickered about, taking in the room at large, and he was wholly unimpressed by the blue haired male's speech.

 

A secret group to uncover what mysteries the school had to offer? Elliot scoffed, straightening up his cravat.

 

"I'm afraid we'll have to agree to disagree," he spoke up, voice calm across the room. "For I don't think those simply a year older have any right to tower over the rest."

He finished his sentence by checking his nails, gazing across the perfectly manicured cuticles. He would have to make an appointment soon, they were getting a little long.

 

~

 

Dae was having an internal crisis.

 

Background check?

 

Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god, ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod--

He was so screwed. They might as well ring him up now. Buy him a coffin. Get some flowers. Call his parents. He was going to die. His eyes flickered nervously, fluttering from person to person in the room. Did they know?

He glanced briefly at the male who had spoken, with bright blue hair. Had he not been so distracted, he would've marveled at how a colour was achieved, but the Asian male was distracted by what sounded very much like his impending doom.

 

Weren't those files strictly confidential? Oh god. He took a second glance at Alistair, then at everyone in the room. The girl who had been lead out by the second year. He's heard about this. These are ... these are the school thugs.

 

Just his luck.

Edited by Lady_Lunevis

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Alistair knew he wouldn't be able to hold the whole "mysterious second year who knows a lot more than he's letting on" wasn't going to last for very long. He only did the act to provoke a reaction out of the new years, and hopefully getting a few chuckles out of the second years and the one third year. Sienna, who seemed to be enjoying Alistair's little act, asked a question that almost caused him to break his facade with an undignified snort he had to keep from rising up.

"I'd advise you took care of that problem before one of the first years stumble upon it," Alistair said as though a hydra sleeping in a toilet was a normal occurrence. "We wouldn't want a repeat of last year, now do we?" Alistair watched silently as the girl Sienna picked to follow her paused momentarily to ask a question. Before Alistair could open his mouth and replied, he saw Tanner move from the corner of his eye. He held his tongue as Tanner stepped forward and answered the question, losing her composure only when a first year, who seemed to be utterly enthralled by everything going on, asked if she was a third year. A ghost of a smile flickered across Alistair's face but he made no comment. It was nice to see someone was getting some enjoyment out of the meeting. Perhaps acting like the antagonist of a children's cartoon was working out after all. On the other hand, Alistair could see one of the first years, a short chubby girl near in the back, sniffling like she was trying to hold back tears. Maybe the persona wasn't so great after all.

 

After Sienna dragged the grumpy girl out of the room a boy, who appeared more interested toying with a small rock in his hands, asked about how Robinson could use a Branch without a Link. Figures the boy who was paying more attention to playing with his powers than the speech would ask about Robinson.

"Short answer: practice," Alistair said with a nonchalant wave. "The longer you work with your powers, the better control you have over them. That's part of why you all got assigned to practice using your Branches by yourselves. The more control you have, the stronger you become." Alistair paused for a moment. This kid wasn't hoping on becoming like Robinson, was he? He probably only came in hopes of learning how to control his powers. Heck, he wasn't even looking at Alistair as he raised his hand, like the second year wasn't even worth his time. It wouldn't be a stretch to believe a few of the first years got starry-eyed over Robinson's display during the training session and hope to become just like them. Alistair had no problem with a few optimists and dreamers in the crowd but... "That said, I wouldn't put your hopes on meeting their level of expertise anytime soon," Alistair added. "You're most powerful when you're Linked with someone. The crux of your power will show once you're paired up with someone you trust, but I assume your teachers will explain that to you sooner or later."

 

While the girl Sienna dragged outside the boy in the back had the decency to raise their hands before asked a question, a bored looking blond leaning back in his chair simply spoke his words aloud. Alistair cocked his head to the side as he let out a soft curious hum.

"Whoever said we were placing ourselves above you?" Alistair questioned. "This meeting exists so you can bypass the struggle of learning to use your powers. You can be a month ahead of your peers with our assistance, but by no means are we pampering you. We intent do get you caught up with us as quickly as possible in hopes that you'll assist us in our mission. The only other second, or third, years who would help us are in this room so are left with no other choice than to hope some of you first years would be willing to help as well. Treating you like some sort of underling was never our intention."

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

This meeting certainly was... cryptic. The blue haired boy spoke in a grave voice, taking time to emphasize every word he said and speaking in a slow, soothing tone. Priam wasn't sure what to think when they returned to their lunch tray after using the restroom only to find a strange letter delicately placed on the top of their food. They weren't much for breaking school rules, but, then again, they had never received a letter telling them to meet at 8pm. So, instead of reporting the letter to the front desk, Priam decided to check out what the letter was about. What they didn't suspect was a ton of other first years to show up with them and for the meeting to be hosted by a bunch of second years. Least to say, it was not what they expected. While Priam was relatively calm about the whole situation, as they usually were when it came to facing the unknown, the boy next to them didn't seem to be having that great of a time. He kept glancing nervously at the people around him as though someone was going to jump up and attack him. Was he alright? Was the blue hair boy too intimidating for him? Trying to be as gently as they could, Priam gingerly nudged the boy.

"Hey, are you alright?" they asked in a soft voice as they looked down at him with a expression of concern. "I know this is kinda weird, if not a bit scary, but hang in there, alright? Nothing bad is going to happen."

 

 

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Elliot raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow, watching the other before him. He had to give it to the second-year--the blue-haired one had extraordinary patience. That, or just a flair for playing pranks on a couple of innocent first-years. He highly doubted the other was doing this out of the sheer kindness and worry for newcomers in his heart.

 

He placed his cheek down on his hand, tilting his head ever-so-slightly as he regarded the other. "And what do you get out of this?" Were they hoping for money? Gifts?

 

Ah, so this was a closed effort. Would explain the cryptic message he had found in his room--at first, he had thought it to be so ludicrously ridiculous it had to be a prank of some kind, and was very surprised to find it a reality.

 

"Very well, then," he accepted, cocking his head in what could both he read as a disinterested smile or a show of acceptance. "I shall see what you have in mind."

 

~

 

Dae jumped as he felt someone give his shoulder a gentle nudge. Spinning, Dae took a moment to collect himself when he realised the newcomer was frighteningly, almost impossibly tall.

 

Dae liked to think himself of good height, standing at an entire 6 feet, but this person had him completely overcome. He stood there, gaping for just a second, before he collected his thoughts and hummed nervously.

 

"Are you sure?" he asked, glancing around. "How do you know? We don't know them at all, and they know all sorts of things about us ..." Dae paused, listening to the blue-haired male speak. "I--sorry. Dae-sung Hyong, how do you do."

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"Hmm? Just simple discussion, more questions, comments and concerns... the typical shenanigans at meetings. As for why I picked you specifically? I'll keep it brief, you caught my interest. Of course, I would also like to become friends at some point and I felt putting you on the spot would make you feel even less comfortable than you already are."

 

Sienna turned back around to continue walking down the hall, peeking inside each room they passed to see if anyone else was sticking around the academy rather than sleeping comfortably in their rooms. Then, she finally came to a pause at a set of doors, one marked with the typical symbol of a female silhouette and the other was marked male. Separating the two rooms in the center was a water fountain than began to hum gently at their approach.

 

"If you didn't want to follow me, you didn't really have to. I was just curious as to what kind of person you are. Feel free to return and inform our leader that I will return in a moment... or accompany me into the bathroom, I actually do have to use the facilities now, even though my original intent was to talk to you privately for a bit."

 

For a brief moment, Sienna paused at the door before pushing it open and walking in. It wasn't until the door had completed its cycle and closed all the way that a rather loud scream rang out into the hall and the sound of hurried movement could be heard from within.

 

"There really is a hydra in the toilet!"

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Friends? Sienna had reached out to her, and even though there was some basis to doubt her sincerity, Aria figured it would be wise to have an upper-year on her side. "Friends it is," she finally said as they walked down the abandoned halls. "My name is Aria. Pleasure to meet you, Sienna." A moment later they arrived at the bathrooms. Sienna gave her a choice between two options, as if it were a decision of utmost importance. The red pill to press on and follow her into the depths of the , or the blue pill to return to the meeting.

 

Of course, she chose the red pill. Aria pushed the door open and flinched back when she heard the other girl's scream. "Right, you don't need to keep messing with me--"

 

She stepped forward, past Sienna, and took a look for herself and upon seeing it, Aria cried out and jumped back, flames conjuring before her in a cautious semicircle. There actually was a hydra in the toilet bowl -- a one headed hydra, better known as a snake. A split second later she regained her composure and the fire snuffed itself out, and she was able to reassess the situation. "...Should we just leave it there?"

 

~~~

 

"Alistair is right," Tanner added. "Like most things, it comes with practice. But it would be incorrect to tell you that everyone has the same potential for magic. Some people have more talent than others. Linking just evens the playing field."

 

"And your skepticism is well placed," the third year said to Elliot, the boy who looked simply pampered. She crossed her arms. "Some upper years here do think they are superior to you by virtue of experience and you need not agree with them. As for the hypothetical fee for this club -- since, you know, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch -- you'll need to collect some data for us. Nothing too big, just a short report of things you discover on campus. Or try to discover something new about staff like Robinson, for instance." At that last sentence, she looked at Matthew, who seemed to be curious about that to begin with. "Most of the information we probably already know, but I'll let you explore the things yourself."

 

Tanner had a hunch. It seemed like, on the surface, that it were a guess so absurd that she tossed it out immediately, but... "That other girl's out of the room, but I warn you that you may be encountering demons much earlier than you think."

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Sienna smiled at Aria's reaction, taking the moment to crouch down next to the toilet and pulled the creature out from its watery habitat. Once she had regained her composure, the snake had started to slink its way across Sienna's arm and towards her shoulder, probably seeking for a decent source of heat. Based on its colors and general appearance, plus the location of where it was found, Sienna had an idea of what kind of snake it was, but as for how it arrived here on the island was a different matter.

 

"I'll take it to the creek and release it. Poor thing seems like it got lost and startled me when I lifted the lid. Anyway, it looks like a southern water snake or at least of the same family. I'll call him Dyme."

 

Allowing the serpent to reach her shoulder, it eventually took a spot around her neck and seemed to settle down. Turning her attention back to Aria, Sienna's smile merely broadened and she clasped her hands over the younger stem's.

 

"Despite the events... I still have to go, give me just a moment and I'll be right out. We'll take him down to the creek after the meeting is over. Don't want them thinking we merely skipped out on it."

 

With that said, Sienna returned to the stall and closed the door, taking care of her business, as she had mentioned and then proceeded to wash her hands and adjust her hairband. In the meantime, the little reptile barely budged from its spot, seeming to have grown rather comfortable.

 

"Alright, let's return now. If there's anything you wish to ask along the way, don't feel the need to hesitate, okay?"

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Trent wasn’t sure why he thought that following the directions on a rather suspicious note was a good idea. He supposed that it was his curiosity outweighed his doubts. Having the opportunity to attend the academy was a once in a lifetime experience, so why not take the time to uncover the secrets of the school?

 

After all, the person that took the time to cut letters out from a magazine was likely a dedicated person to the cause.

 

And the secret group? Trent would be lying if he said that he wasn’t interested. The boy with blue hair’s speech was rather compelling. The club seemed simple enough, and Trent was sure that he could balance his schoolwork with whatever activities the blue boy had in mind.

 

“I’m interested in joining,” Trent said, raising his hand. “But have you found any secrets about the school yourself?”

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