After lunch ended, Luce trekked across the school to a large, open classroom with a high ceiling. There were three rows of desks, and she took a seat in the final row. Supposedly, this class was supposed to be for metamorphosis. While magic was often based off a specific subject, there were some things all mages were capable of, such as telekinesis, a few other basic charms, and metamorphosis. Luce didn’t know exactly how helpful metamorphosis was going to be to her when she could barely control her magic as it was. It would probably just add another pile of tasks onto her mountain, which was the last thing she needed.
Sylvia came into the room not long after. She looked as exhausted as ever, rubbing her eyes as she shuffled over to where Luce was sitting. Sylvia didn’t even bother to grace her with a greeting before laying her head down on the desk. She was snoring and unconscious in a matter of seconds. Luce wasn’t exactly surprised, given Sylvia’s track record for being able to sleep pretty much anywhere, but it was a bit unsettling to be the weird kid in the back sitting next to a sleeping classmate.
Luce was praying internally for the bell to ring, signaling the start of class, as it would force Sylvia to wake up and face the rest of the day. With Sylvia asleep next to her, Luce felt like she was alone despite physically having other people around. Granted, Luce had always liked her time alone, but this didn’t exactly make her happy.
She wound up pulling out her phone underneath her desk to check if she had gotten any new messages. Luce smiled when she saw one from Lianna telling her to have a nice day. Luce responded with a brief thanks before tucking her phone back into her backpack. The bell rang out not long after, startling Sylvia out of her brief slumber, much to Luce’s satisfaction.
The other people in the room continued to chatter despite this though, talking about how their classes had gone so far and what they had to get up to next. Since nobody was nearby, Luce didn’t have this luxury, as despite having just woken up, Sylvia had gone back to sleep. It was odd how easily she could close her eyes and descend into slumber. She wanted to know how she could do that, but Luce feared it would be odd to ask something like that so soon after meeting her, so she held back for the time being.
It took a few more minutes for the teacher to arrive inside the classroom. It was a man, and as was expected, Luce didn’t recognize him. He had short blonde hair that was left unkempt. His eyes were brown, and he looked closer to Luce’s age than her other teachers thus far. He had freckles, she realized upon closer examination. He had a white shirt that was untucked under a brown jacket. He had brown trousers to match with black shoes.
He took a seat behind the desk sitting by the door and tapped the wood to silence all the conversations taking place. “Good,” he smiled once silence overcame the room. “Glad to see you know when quiet is needed.”
He stretched his arms up before kicking his legs onto the desk. Luce blinked in surprise, not believing her eyes. To her knowledge, the teachers of Alitia were the best in their fields and were serious about their work, but here she was, sitting in front of a strange man who was more casual than half her roommates.
“I’m Vitellary Cremond. I’ll be your metamorphosis teacher for this year, and, well, every year you’re here at Alitia. I’m one of a kind, the only teacher of such an amazing subject at this fine academy,” the man explained. “It’s nice to meet you all. I’ll call roll really quick, and then we’re going to get right into a practical activity! I doubt anybody here will object to that. I mean, everybody likes a little fun. It’s a break from the constant syllabus slog that most teachers throw at you on the first day.”
Roll call seemed to pass by much faster than in other classes. Vitellary didn’t bother to assign seats to any of the students, which was fine with Luce. She didn’t really mind either way, so long as she was near Sylvia to hold onto some semblance of familiarity. If she could sit where she wished, then it would be no issue, which she was also okay with.
Once he was finished, Vitellary shoved his clipboard back into his desk and got to his feet. “Alright! It’s time to have some fun! I’m sure you all know the basic idea behind metamorphosis. It’s the study of changing your physical appearance to fit your own ends. Just try to be responsible with it. I know it’s not hard to get into trouble with other people if you abuse this power of yours,” he declared.
Vitellary closed his eyes for a moment. A subtle glow surrounded him as he changed shape from a person into a frog. He hopped around the room for a moment before settling on the wall, sticking to it. He closed his eyes a second time and changed into a horse that was still stuck to the wall before jumping down to the ground, changing into a cat on the way down. He shifted back into a person once he had landed, raising his arms into the air with a wide grin. “Pretty cool, right?” Vitellary asked.
Applause erupted from the students in the classroom. A few whistles pierced the air as well. Sylvia’s eyes were as wide as saucers as she clapped. Luce could only stare in shock. It seemed effortless for Vitellary, so maybe this class wouldn’t be as hard as she had been anticipated. Perhaps magic wouldn’t be as hard to master for her as she had thought...
“Now, I won’t be making you do something as complicated as that on your first day. However, I personally find that reading from a textbook each day is impressively ineffective when it comes to changing the way you look. It’s all about practice. If you read about getting good at something, it doesn’t make you good. You actually have to practice it and put your skills to good use. That being said, I want you all to try and change into a basic animal. It’s a good place to start from. Focus on changing your shape into said animal. Imagine yourself changing. Close your eyes if you have to . The change may come slowly at first, but you’ll get used to it after a while. Once you leave Alitia , the goal is to have you changing back and forth like it’s nothing,” Vitellary told everyone. “If you have any questions, please, feel free to ask, but you should try it out on your own before begging for a tutorial. Now, get to it!”
Vitellary returned to his desk shortly afterwards. Chatter burst out once again. Everyone turned to different cliques to talk about what they had heard from Vitellary in his brief explanation of the subject.
Luce herself looked to Sylvia, though she wasn’t sure how much good she would be. Sylvia still looked shocked out of her mind that Vitellary had managed so many sudden changes so effortlessly. It took her a good thirty seconds to notice that Luce was staring at her, hoping she would make conversation. “That was...” Sylvia finally began, though her sentence trailed off, and it was never finished.
“Guess we had better make an attempt at the very least,” Luce sighed once she realized Sylvia had no intentions of finishing her thought. “He told us to close our eyes and focus on changing shape. It sounds sort of like the basic charms, but instead of making magic happen to something else, we’re our own crash test dummies. Great. That’ s exactly what I’ve always wanted.”
Sylvia whined under her breath in response. She shut her eyes and began to concentrate her energy. A glow surrounded her, but when it did, Luce felt her energy slipping away. For the first time, she felt as tired, if not more so , than Sylvia.
Her hands went to her eyes as she rubbed at them slowly. Luce wasn’t entirely sure if she was truly on her feet still, as she was halfway convinced the world was swaying gently around her. She sat down once again and shut her eyes slowly. Suddenly, all thoughts of class were gone, and she only wanted to sleep, regardless of what the consequences would wind up being.
“Sorry,” Sylvia said distantly, snapping Luce out of her trance slightly. She felt dizzy and dazed. Why was Sylvia bothering to wake her up? Luce was merciful and rarely pulled her from sleep, so why go back on their unspoken mutual agreement now? In Luce’s opinion, it was a rude move, and that was putting it lightly.
“What are you sorry for?” Luce asked dreamily, rubbing at her eyes once again.
“I think I zapped your energy on accident,” Sylvia told her, reaching out her hand to shake Luce awake. However, the arm didn’t feel like a human hand, but instead like something else...
Luce was only halfway shocked when she saw Sylvia, who was now a sheep, standing before her. She thought she was hallucinating in her suddenly-sleepy daze. Why would Sylvia be a sheep in real life, after all? Sylvia was obviously a person as far as Luce knew. Well, unless Sylvia was secretly a sheep in a trench coat , but Luce sort of doubted that given their interactions up until that point.
“Zapped my energy...?” Luce asked, rubbing her eyes and sitting up. She stretched her arms skyward as her energy slowly began to return. “What does that mean?”
“My energy magic can backfire sometimes,” Sylvia sighed. With another glow, she returned to her full height and was significantly less sheep-like in appearance. Luce’s energy drained away once again, and it took practically all her energy to keep her eyes open.
“Backfire...?” Luce questioned. She wanted to sleep now more than she ever had before. Why did she have to go to class? She should have stayed in her dorm room to enjoy the afternoon. Why had she come to class when she could have just as easily gone back home to sleep? It would have been much better for her and everyone else.
“My energy magic is often used by taking away my energy, but when I’m particularly drained, it can take away the energy of the people around me... It isn’t quite as common as taking my own energy away, but it’s still something worth noting...” Sylvia explained with a frown. “I’m sorry about that... I didn’t mean to.”
Luce stretched her arms up once again, though she couldn’t remain upright any longer, so she leaned forward once again, placing her head on her arms as her eyes shut. She heard Sylvia distantly calling out for help from the teacher, but Luce was too dazed to hear anything specific.
“Luce! Wake up, young one!”
A shock spread throughout Luce’s body, making her yelp in surprise. She sat upright suddenly, glancing around for the offender who had surprised her into consciousness. “What’s going on?” Luce asked in shock. She searched around until she met eyes with Vitellary.
He smiled awkwardly in her direction. “Sorry about that. I had to keep you up somehow. Clearly it wasn’t going to happen if you were left on your own, so I had to do my own thing,” he told her. Vitellary shocked her once again when she attempted to slip back onto the desk. “We’ll have to worry about this magic energy thing. I can’t have you suffering each day because her powers can be a bit volatile at times... I’ll talk to Headmistress Satim about finding a solution. She knows what she’s doing, so maybe she can figure out what we should do next.”
Vitellary walked away as Luce got to her feet. Luce stretched out more now that her energy was back. “That was weird,” she murmured under her breath. She shook her head and sighed. “I had no idea your magic could do something like that.”
“I haven’t used it much... It’s hard to mess around with sometimes... It takes a lot out of me or a lot out of other people. I don’t like using them if possible. I don’t want to make anyone pass out whenever I need to defend myself,” Sylvia explained. “I hope we can change this soon... I don’t want to repeat this each day because my magic acts up...”
Luce popped her neck and shook her head. “You don’t need to apologize. It’s okay. I’m tough. I’ll be fine,” she said, though she got the feeling Sylvia could see through her lie. Luce was nowhere near being a fan of having her magic suddenly drained by Sylvia’s peculiar energy powers. She certainly preferred having her own magic to use on her own. It was more comfortable for them all.
“Why don’t you try and change shape?” Sylvia asked, rubbing at her eyes. Despite having zapped some of Luce’s energy, she didn’t seem to be more alert than she had been before. She sat back down at her desk and perched her head onto her arms. “It’s easier than you’d expect.”
Luce nodded. She was still feeling strange from losing and gaining energy suddenly and back to back, but she was willing to try it. After all, if it was as easy as Sylvia and Vitellary were telling her, then she needed to make an attempt. Plus, even a small step to control her magic would be helpful. Small steps would add up eventually, and with how much work she had to get done, it would be best if she started sooner rather than later.
Luce closed her eyes and thought of changing shape into a rabbit. It was a simple animal as far as she was concerned. She focused on the imagery of her human form shrinking into a small bunny sitting on the floor of the classroom.
However, it backfired on her immensely, as before she could change shape, a small explosion started up in front of her chest. She saw it in her mind’s eye before she actually saw it. An explosion of light hit Luce head on, making her trip and fall over. Her collarbone burned from a particularly large light sphere hitting her. She groaned softly as everyone in the classroom looked over at the source of the sound.
“Are you alright?” Vitellary asked.
Luce nodded. “Yeah,” she grumbled, unsatisfied with her failure.
“Please head down to Headmistress Satim’s office. She can check you up and make sure you aren’t hurt too badly. She’s a potent healer, you know,” Vitellary instructed.
“Of course,” Luce nodded. She picked up her bag and began her shameful march from the classroom, wishing her classmates would stop looking at her as she made her way out. It was the first day, and she had already gotten a reputation as the weird explosion girl. Great.
Luce wandered around for a few minutes before finding Zylphia in the healing classroom. On top of leading the school as its head teacher, she taught healing classes for the students of Alitia on the side. Her aptitude with healing was known well and had been shown to all during the Acadia fight when she helped Altina. Luce was sure Zylphia would be able to help her out, though she was certain the assistance would come with a few questions about how her injuries had forged to begin with.
Luce was thankful the bell had rung by the time she arrived. It meant she didn’t have to walk in awkwardly on her teaching a class asking for help. She knocked on the door to the classroom hesitantly, waiting for Zylphia to open the door.
She did not long after. “Hello, Luce,” Zylphia greeted. “I didn’t expect to see you here. I don’t have you in class until tomorrow.”
“I-I was sent from another class,” Luce said hesitantly. She was normally confident when talking to other people, but Zylphia had such an aura of power about her. It was enough to scare Luce somewhat. Even her father, an imposing presence in his own right, felt like child’s play to talk to in comparison.
Zylphia noticed what Luce was talking about not long after. She eyed the burns on Luce’s collarbone with a frown. “What happened?” she asked, careful to be stern yet caring in her tone.
“I was trying to change shape in metamorphosis. Let’s just say it didn’t go well,” Luce explained. “Instead of changing into an animal, I caused an explosion that burned me.”
“And you were the only one hurt?” Zylphia prompted, reaching out to touch Luce’s burn with one finger. The pain began to drift away the longer Zylphia held contact with her skin.
“Yeah. It was just me. It was a small explosion,” Luce replied. She felt warmth continue to flood her chest as the pain disappeared fully. Zylphia certainly knew what she was doing. Sophia’s skills were solid as well, but it seemed obvious she was inexperienced in comparison to Zylphia.
“Well, there you are,” Zylphia said. “You can head to your next class now. Feel free to come by my office whenever you need something. I’ll be glad to help. However, I’d like you to stay out of trouble. We don’t want this incident repeating itself, yes?”
“You’re right,” Luce nodded. “Thank you.”
Luce darted away from the classroom’s door a few seconds later. She didn’t want to linger any longer than was necessary. Zylphia was still vaguely terrifying in her mystery, and Luce felt more at ease on her own in the strange school that was Alitia than she did at Zylphia’s side, as odd of a phenomenon as it was.
Luce barely managed to stumble into her final class of the day before the bell rang. She was left breathing heavily as she entered the classroom. She glanced around, praying to have something familiar to hold onto. She wound up seeing Sophia on the other side of the room, standing far from the other crowds of students.
Luce smiled to herself and made her way over to Sophia’s side. “Hello,” she said simply, still attempting to catch her breath after sprinting to get to the classroom on time. She knew she probably wouldn’t have been counted tardy, but she still wasn’t going to take any chances on her first day. It was going badly enough as it was, and issues with tardiness would only make things worse.
“You look exhausted,” Sophia frowned. “What happened to you? Did you run from a bear on your way here?”
Luce sighed as Sophia giggled. “No, nothing like that. Well, let’s just say I had an issue in my last class. I mean, I caused a miniature explosion and had to run to get my burns healed before running back here. I’m tired now,” Luce explained, letting out a sigh. “Here’s hoping we don’t have to do anything too over the top today.”
“It’s flying class, but I somehow doubt we’ll be doing too much work today,” Sophia assured her. “After all, I don’t think anybody aside from you has earned their wings yet. I mean, if they have, we don’t know about it, at the very least.”
“Good point. I don’t want to do more than I have to today. At this point, I’d just like the day to be over. After all, the sooner the day ends, the sooner I can go home and re lax... I’m sick of all that’s been going on today,” Luce grumbled, shaking her head.
“Hopefully, you’ll be fine. Even if you have to do more today, think about it this way. You’re almost done for the day, which means we can go back to the dorm and have fun,” Sophia smiled.
Luce nodded. “You have a point. Either way, we’re getting closer to leaving classes behind... I assure you I wouldn’t be complaining this much normally. I guess today simply hasn’t been agreeing with me much. It doesn’t surprise me, given that I’ve seen two explosions, and it’s only the first day,” she said.
“Don’t worry about it. You’re fine,” Sophia told her, placing one hand on Luce’s shoulder.
“Thanks, Sophia,” Luce smiled. Sophia had a calming aura about her, and it was much different than the way Zylphia made her feel. It was a relief to see a familiar face after having to face Zylphia on her own.
“No problem,” Sophia grinned. She dropped her hand down to Luce’s to squeeze it gently as a show of comfort. Luce continued to smile at Sophia, an unspoken way of communicating thanks, as a woman entered the room.
She had lengthy black hair that was tied into two ponytails low on her head. Her hair faded to a navy blue shade at the edges. She had a black dress underneath an aquamarine suit jacket. She had white tights on as well with black boots that laced up and reached just below her knees. She had a purple bracelet on her right hand and black gloves on as well.
“Hello, everyone!” the woman chirped. “It’s nice to meet you all today. I’m Erika Linux, or as you’ll be calling me, Professor Linux. I’ll be your flying instructor here at Alitia . We won’t be throwing ourselves right into swooping through the sky though. Let’s start off with roll call and talk about what you can expect from this class throughout the year. Today will be nice and easy. I won’t make you do anything horribly difficult on the first day. I’m simply not that type of person.”
During roll, Luce took some time to look around the room they were in. There weren’t any seats in it, for one thing. She had been too distracted by her arrival in the classroom to notice the odd qualities of it. The ceiling was high as well. The windows on one side of the room were tall and seemed to stretch across the entire wall. They offered a nice view of the courtyard below out in the center of the school. Nobody was out there at the moment, but it was fine with Luce, as even if she couldn’t watch people, she could enjoy the environment.
When roll ended, Erika set her clipboard off to the side. She stretched her neck out. “Alright. Before we get started, I want to know. Who in here has ever transformed into their Isolis form?” she asked.
Luce raised her hand slowly. Nobody else followed suit. After a few seconds, she dropped her arm back by her side.
“Good to hear. I’m sure you’ll hear more about this in your other classes but allow me to give you a brief history lesson on magic. Magic can be used regardless of the form you’re in, but it’s much easier to use when you’re in one of the three transformations, Isolis, Illunae, and Inlustris. Magic levels raise when in one of those three forms, and any hidden power is unleashed, making it easier to use your magic. When you transform, your magic levels rise, and in women, it creates wings,” Erika explained. “I’m sure most of you knew that, right?”
A subtle hubbub of agreement rose up before Erika continued. “It’s basic magical knowledge. However, something that’s not quite as well known is that wings aren’t the most natural thing. It’s hard to learn how to fly. Sometimes, you can fly around based on adrenaline and desperation, but it can cause back problems if this happens excessively. Also, if you fly wrong when wings first come in, it causes back pain when you revert back to your normal form. Some pain is normal, but if it gets to be excessive, it’s an issue with the way you’re flying. To prevent that, Alitia teaches its students how to fly with proper technique.
“I know it sounds as boring as can be. I get that. However, you need to understand that this is for your own health. Healing magic won’t be able to fix all issues. Permanent damage is much more difficult to fix. It’s much better to prevent that damage entirely by flying properly. That’s why we’re going to be meeting up here.”
Erika leaned up against the wall. “Of course, we aren’t going to be jumping into anything quite yet. After all, only one of you has the ability to fly. Until then, we’re going to be having a few casual discussions about flight, but I don’t know if we’ll have enough time to do it today. Talking about flying can often get in-depth. I won’t get into anything technical for the time being, but I want you to be warned that it can be detailed when you get deeper into the rabbit hole that is learning about flight,” she told the class. “In fact, I think we’re going be done for today. Feel free to mill about for the rest of the period since it’s almost over anyways.”
“That didn’t take long,” Luce murmured with a shake of her head.
“I didn’t expect that,” Sophia murmured. “Are you excited for movie night later on?”
Luce smiled. “You bet.”
It wasn’t until after the movie had ended and dinner was over and done with that Luce got a moment alone. She was playing on her phone for a few minutes before going to sleep. She was exhausted, but at the same time, she wanted a few minutes to relax. While she did like hanging out with other people, she needed time to herself in order to stay sane.
Her phone let out a brief beeping sound. Luce hit a button on the side of her phone to turn it to vibration mode so as not to awaken the sleeping Helena nearby. Luce went to the text message section of her phone to explore what message had been sent to her.
It was from Lianna, she realized soon after. Luce smiled to herself as she read the message silently:
Lianna: Hope you had a nice day. Your father already misses you, and so do the rest of the mercenaries. Can’t wait to see you on your next break. Call me when you can. I want details. Night.
Luce began typing her response, continuing to grin that Lianna had texted her at all.
Luce: My day was fine, except for the occasional explosions my magic caused. It’s going to take a while before I can get better with using it, I guess. I wish I had been trained with it for years before now. Everything seems sudden in comparison, and everybody else has much more experience.
A response came through not long after.
Lianna: You’ll take care of it soon enough. I believe in you. You’re a fast learner. Even without leath aptitude, it didn’t take you long to learn how to use a sword. I’m sure you’ll become just as strong with your magic. It’s just a matter of time before you’re out there kicking ass with the best of them.
Luce: Thanks. I hope you’re right. I’m sick of having everything blow up in my face.
Lianna: Your father wanted me to tell you to call him later on this week. He wants to know what you’ve been getting up to at Alitia . You’re settling in okay, right?
Luce: Yeah. I get along with my roommates fine.
Lianna: I’ve heard about some issues taking place on Millennia though. What’s going on?
Luce: You are not going to believe this.
It took Luce a good fifteen minutes to explain everything that she had gone through since arriving on Millennia. She told Lianna about the hooded man, the incident at Acadia, and the battle in the heart of Millennium City. It was much more information than she had originally though it was, now that she was relating the information to an outside party.
Lianna: Sounds like you’ve been busy.
Luce: Yeah. I’m glad to have gotten Isolis and all that, but I think it would be much more helpful if I could actually use my magic in a way that wouldn’t involve me blowing up.
Lianna: Magic takes time and practice. You’ve got too much magic to know what to do with it. It’s going to take a while to get used to using, but I have faith you can pull it off. Plus, it’s better that you learn how to use it now than have it backfire on you one day while out on a mission.
Luce: I suppose you make a good point.
Lianna: It’s getting late for both of us. You have class tomorrow. We should both get to sleep. We can talk more in the morning if you want to.
Luce: Good point. I’ll talk to you later.
Lianna: Good night.
Luce powered her phone off shortly after sending that final text. She plugged the small device in and set it down on the table beside her bed. She shut her eyes, and it wasn’t until she had closed them that she realized she was as tired as she was.
It didn’t take long for Luce to fall asleep. Before slipping into slumber, she thought dully of her excitement for the next day and of her dread to match it. She hoped her future days at Alitia would go better than the first day, as she had seen enough explosions of light to last a lifetime. If this kept up, she had no idea what she would do, but chances were she would wind up as a frequent visitor of Zylphia’s healing classroom, which was the last thing she wanted.