"The next planet for us to talk about in our discussion of realm founding is Aerania. I trust everyone has read the chapter in the textbook regarding Aerania and its goddess?"
Luce doodled mindlessly onto a piece of paper in her notebook. There was only a week left before she could go home and talk to her father. One week was all that stood between herself and finally getting a grip on what happened to her mother and where her powers came from.
Still, a cough from Cessair, who had taken to sitting beside her in recent days, got Luce reaching for her textbook as Severine continued her lecture. Luce flipped to the page starting the chapter on Aeranian history before continuing her note.
She still hadn't been able to stop thinking about Rune and how mysterious their new incarnation of the ancient Loduke swordsman Iris had mentioned. An idea formed in Luce's head, so she tore out a new sheet of paper and wrote a brief message to Cessair.
'Do you know anything about Rune? He's a figure from Loduke history.'
Luce slid the note over to Cessair discreetly. The ginger girl stared at it for a moment before beginning to write furiously. Luce got the feeling she would be a minute, so she focused back on Severine's tales.
"Aerania was one of the planets created by Starlight when the universe was born. No life was able to inhabit the planet for many years. Starlight and Moonlight, the two world-building powers, are required to give a world life. The founder of Aerania, an enchantress named Selene, sought out the power left behind by Starlight and earned it," Severine continued.
Cessair gave the note back to Luce. The blue-haired girl accepted it and began to read:
'Rune was the husband of Lena Tiabeanie, the next heir to the Tiabeanie family that has ruled over Loduke for generations. He's the great-grandfather of the current princess, Anneliese.'
"Selene traveled to Aerania, which didn't have any sustainability for living creatures at the time, and granted it life. Her great magical power combined with Starlight granted her nearly eternal life, something never seen before. She was nominated as the empress of Aerania nearly unanimously by the people who flocked to the planet."
'It is said Lena was kidnapped by an evil cantor named Claudius. Rumor has it he dug into arcane dark magic. She was held hostage by him and his son, Iago, for many months. Rune tried to rescue Lena sixteen times and failed.'
"Selene ruled over Aerania for over two hundred years. She was loved by her subjects and gladly listened to all of their concerns... Though this state of peace was not meant to last. As I'm sure you've learned over your time in my class, things always go wrong at some point or another."
'On the seventeenth attempt, Rune finally defeated Claudius and forced him and his son to retreat. Rune rescued Lena and they were wed. Within a year, they had conceived another daughter of the Tiabeanie Dynasty. Ever since Rune was added to the family, green hair has been common among the royal family despite being rare elsewhere.'
"An uprising began, and when Selene went to speak with the revolutionaries claiming she was abusing her power, a battle began. A shot was fired by one of the soldiers with Selene, killing a revolutionary. At the end of the day, blood was shed, and everyone save the enchantress died."
'Why do you ask?'
Luce pulled out her pen and wrote as quickly as she could, still making sure to listen to what Severine was saying. She knew it would be on an upcoming test.
'In the Sacred Heart attack, a swordsman named Rune appeared. I got loose details about the story from Iris.'
"The revolution grew larger, and soon enough, troops stormed the capital. Selene surrendered, unwilling to draw a blade against her own people. Despite her surrender, she was not killed. Her magic had grown too immense for her to die. Some suspect she was a Blend with a leaning towards light magic."
It took Luce a moment to remember what Blend meant as she gave the paper back to Cessair. Blends were mages that walked a fine line between light and dark magic and could master their powers in a way that resembled both. They were only .01% of the population and sometimes had multiple types of magic, something unheard of under regular magical conventions. Luce hadn't known about them until she enrolled in Alitia, and even so, it was a recent revelation.
Of course, just because Blends could walk the fine line didn't mean they didn't pick sometimes. Some Blends chose to live at the center while others chose a side between light and dark magic. Their magic was still naturally more powerful than others born from similar circumstances regardless of the leaning they chose to fall under. Luce herself didn't know any Blends, so she would just have to trust what Alitia was teaching her about this small and specific category of mages. She didn't have any other options at her disposal.
"Selene, under the people's accusations, would not be allowed to live despite her inability to die. She was sealed away in a crystal now being kept in the hands of the royal family. Selene is the one planetary creator often hated due to her alleged actions in the murder of hundreds of people at the revolutionary battle. In fact, praising her on Aerania is a crime punishable by death."
Cessair gave Luce the page back. Luce smiled in Cessair's direction before beginning to read:
'I don't know much about the dead coming back to life, but the chances of the real Rune coming back are slim. I don't know what he would have to gain from involving himself in the recent affairs of Millennia.'
"This picture was unfortunately left out of recent textbook iterations, but I'm still glad to share it."
Severine cupped her hands together. When they separated, an image was being projected into the air by light. It showed a woman who Luce presumed was the goddess Selene they had been discussing.
In a way, Selene sort of looked like Tanith. Granted, it was mostly the hair that gave Luce that impression. Selene had the same lengthy light brown curly hair Tanith did. Aside from that, they were pretty different in appearance. Selene was tall with bright violet eyes while Tanith was the shortest in their friend group aside from Carys with grayish blue irises.
Luce internally slapped herself as she realized it was obvious Selene and Tanith would look similar. Light brown and blonde hair were common on Aerania, and even if Tanith didn't know where she was from, her affinity for aerokinesis indicated she was from the same land Selene had once ruled.
A girl Luce didn't know the name of raised her hand. "Um... Professor? What about the rumors about Selene's theft?" she asked.
Severine glanced over at the girl and shook her head, dissipating the image of light. "As of now, these are just rumors. The king of Aerania has not confirmed or denied these rumors. History can only accept this as conjecture without proper evidence," she explained.
The bell rang, and Severine sat down behind her desk. "Class dismissed," she announced.
Luce put her textbook and notebook away, including the note she had been exchanging with Cessair in the pages of her textbook. She looked up to Cessair with a small frown. "What was she talking about?" Luce questioned.
"What do you mean?" Cessair wondered, getting to her feet.
"The theft of Selene. I never heard about anything like that," Luce replied. She slung her backpack over one shoulder.
Cessair looked over at Severine before returning her gaze to Luce. "Like Severine said, this is all just a rumor at the moment, but some people think Selene was stolen about five years ago. A young girl about twelve years of age broke into the palace late one night. Alarms went off saying the crystal with Selene inside had been removed from its holder. The next day, the king left his palace for the first time in years," Cessair explained.
"Not a sociable guy, huh?" Luce scoffed with a small yet joking roll of her eyes.
"Not at all. He rarely left the castle. Anyways, he left the comfort of his home to search for a girl with red hair. Someone like that sticks out like a sore thumb since nearly everyone on Aerania is blonde or some variation of blonde. He walked into the castle town's primary school and said he was on the search for a tall redheaded girl. Everyone realized pretty early on he was searching for Cordelia Willis. She apparently had blood from the planet I'm from, which is known for cranking out redheads with scales and fins. Despite being able to breathe underwater and having fish-like ears, she was a leath," Cessair continued.
"That's not someone I would regularly expect to be a leath. I would anticipate a leath to look more like me. You know, more human and less fish," Luce joked.
"Regardless, she was a leath. Despite this, when the king cornered her, she seemed to have developed magic. She teleported away and went off the grid. Some people think she stole Selene, hence why she was being tracked by the king. He wouldn't just leave his castle for anything... Granted, this could just be a rumor started by someone who wanted some thrill in their lives. No matter what the reason was though, Cordelia Willis vanished off the face of Aerania and all other worlds too. Some think she died. Some think she's still out there, waiting for a chance to return," Cessair finished. "Weird, right?"
"It's amazing how much you miss while you're isolated on Amity," Luce remarked, heading for the door. "I have to get going for now, but I'll see you later, Cessair. Have a nice day."
Cessair waved. Severine watched Luce go, murmuring a brief farewell before returning to her work.
Luce dodged one of Sophia's vine whips by ducking low before creating a small sphere of light between her hands. She let the ball fly free. It hit Sophia in the chest, making her slide backwards against the floor of the magical training area of Alitia. Sophia looked up, something in her eyes asking for revenge. Luce hadn't ever seen Sophia look this serious, but at the same time, she knew it was only for the training exercise Michaela was putting them through. Regularly, Sophia wouldn't hurt a fly.
Luce was ready to go in for the final blow, ready to end the training match for the day, but she was stopped when her magic once again backfired on her. The light column she tried to conjure blew up in her face, sending her flying away from her target. Luce was sure the impact of the concrete wall was coming, so she closed her eyes in preparation.
A shout from Michaela was the last thing Luce heard before the softness and warmth. She opened her eyes and looked around. A hand made of Michaela's light magic was keeping her from hitting the wall, leaving her to sigh in relief. She was lucky Michaela had been watching them so intently.
Michaela let Luce fall to the ground as the latter's Isolis faded away. It was typical for them to transform for these training matches, but they rarely went in Luce's favor. Due to her hostile powers, she hadn't won a matchup yet while everyone in her class was sporting at least one victory. In the physical combat class, her strength was paralleled by perhaps only Iris, but here, she was at her weakest, and it pissed her the hell off.
"Thanks," Luce said, slowly rising to her feet. She was shaking from the surprise of not having hit the wall. She brushed some dirt from Sophia's vine whips off her knee before fully standing. "I don't know where I'd be without you."
"I'm proud of you for that, Luce," Michaela told her, placing a hand on Luce's shoulder. She gave the mercenary one of her radiant and calming smiles, the ones that gave Miles's magic a run for its money. "You didn't immediately struggle with your powers. You held out for most of that fight. I would even say you had the upper hand for it."
"I still have a long way to go though," Luce sighed, shaking her head. "It'll be a while before I'm ready to handle anyone on my own."
Sophia rushed up to Luce, her Isolis fading away as well. "Are you okay?" she asked hurriedly.
"I'm fine. I guess I'm a little rattled from nearly having slammed into a concrete wall, but aside from that, I'm peachy," Luce assured her with a playful grin. "Good job in that fight."
"You too," Sophia replied, bowing her head slightly. "Are you sure you're alright? You don't need any healing?"
"I'm okay, Sophia. I appreciate the concern, but there's no need to freak out," Luce answered.
"You look out of breath, Sophia. Why don't you go and take a break?" Michaela suggested.
Sophia nodded, bowing to Michaela, before dashing away in the opposite direction. Despite clearly having used up much of her energy in the fight, she was as quick and nimble as ever.
"What can I do to make this easier on myself?" Luce questioned once Sophia was out of earshot. "I mean, I'm getting better. I know I am, but there's still so much I need to learn. I can't become complacent yet."
"Hm... You don't know the origin of your powers yet, do you?" Michaela asked. "That's where most people start."
"No. I still don't have a clue. There was a little setback when I went through everything and came up short," Luce explained. "Tanith is going over everything again, but I still don't know how well it's going for us. I mean, what if one little mistake completely messes everything up for us in the future? It's kind of hard to double check work when it's like this."
"I understand that would make it difficult... I don't think that we'll be able to look to your magic's origins to help with control. Instead, why don't we look to something else for a focus? Why don't you think about the previous battles you've been in? You've managed to pull off proper control when you're in situations like that, right? Perhaps all we need to do is emulate that," Michaela advised.
"I don't know if that's such a good idea... When I'm fighting against people that are being possessed, or the ones that are doing the possessing in some cases, I'm running off pure adrenaline. It's like my body is moving all on its own to keep me from dying in any horrible or gruesome ways. I can't really think of another way to describe it," Luce sighed.
"Hm... This isn't making things easy... Experience may be the best way for you to learn. That's how some people get into the rhythm of things. They need to experience it a few times to finally get it down. If that's the way that you absorb knowledge, then perhaps you'll be a professional in no time," Michaela said.
"I'll figure something out... I mean, break is at the end of the week, and after that, I can go back home. There's someone I live with who has light magic too. I'm sure she'll be able to do something to help me out, no matter how small it is. She's a miracle worker with how easily she can figure things out," Luce told Michaela.
"Who is this?" Michaela asked. "Pardon me if I'm intruding, but..."
"Oh, not at all. Her name is Lianna. She once came through Alitia, if I recall correctly. Maybe you've met her," Luce answered.
"Oh, Lianna Morgana? I remember her! I taught her as well when she came through these very halls! She was a talented one, you know. She had water magic though... I wonder why she would have light manipulation to you," Michaela frowned.
"I know she has light and water manipulation, but I never really thought on it. I mean, it's her business and not mine. If she wants to keep talk about her magic on the down low, then I'll go along with it. It isn't much of my business," Luce shrugged. "If she wants to tell me one day, then I'm sure she will."
"Do you think she's a Blend with multiple elements?" Michaela questioned.
"I don't know. Like I said, I don't think I should get into it if it isn't my business. She isn't endangering me by not telling me the full details behind her magic. It's not like I would really understand it all anyways. I mean, I get confused pretty easily by all of this stuff, in case you couldn't already tell that much," Luce laughed.
"You're so laidback. I think it's admirable," Michaela smiled. "I'm proud of you for not going into it too much since it doesn't involve you."
"So, what you were saying a second ago was just a test or something?" Luce asked.
"I guess you could call it that. I mean, it's just my way of going about things," Michaela assured her. "I like being subtle with things."
"I've noticed," Luce admitted. "It seems rather clear the longer someone is around you."
Michaela smiled for a moment longer before glancing up at the clock. "Ah, we should probably continue today's sparring matches. I'm sure others have already finished their matches. I'll see if I can put you against someone you may have an advantage over," she said.
"Isn't that like showing favoritism? I don't think that's exactly encouraged in this sort of environment," Luce frowned.
"I think it's alright since you need to grow somehow. Losing gives you a lot of knowledge about the future, but I think a victory is what you need right now. Victories are often longer battles for people like you. The longer you're at it, the better. That means you can learn even more. Do you follow me?" Michaela asked.
"I think my head hurts just thinking about it all," Luce grumbled, shaking her head. "I only understood about half of that."
Michaela laughed. "I suppose I tend to get carried away sometimes. I'll go find you someone. Try not to blow anyone up until I get back, alright?" she joked before walking away to speak with another member of the class.
Luce watched the people around her before settling her gaze on Sylvia, who was sparring with someone using water magic across the room. She seemed exhausted, which was to be expected given her personality, but something else was bothering Luce about her friend today.
Something in Sylvia was different. It was like she was lost in thought about some subject or another. Sylvia had been getting like this a lot lately, especially since the Sacred Heart incident. Despite her attempts to probe the situation, Luce simply couldn't pull any information from her lips, which was simultaneously irritating and worrying. If Sylvia was hiding something all of a sudden, which she scarcely seemed to do, there must have been a serious reason behind it. Regardless of what it was, the mere thought bothered Luce a lot more than she would have cared to admit aloud.
Maybe she was thinking about how the first quarter of the year was almost over. At first, it had dragged on due to Luce's wishes to go home and see her father, but now, it was as if it had passed in the blink of an eye. Time was funny in that respect. She wasn't sure how to feel about it, but it was something else for sure.
Sylvia was usually open when it came to how she felt about things, though she had always been prone to hiding things when the hooded man came up. Perhaps the hooded man alongside the impending break was intruding on her thoughts and leaving her feeling less than great about everything that was happening.
Luce shrugged it off as Sylvia's opponent finally got the upper hand in their training match and defeated her. Sylvia, who was left sprawled on the ground from the final hit of her rival, breathed heavily. She stared up at the ceiling silently, not moving or saying anything for what felt like an eternity. When she finally got to her feet, she didn't give Luce a glance, not seeming to sense her gaze. Sylvia leaned up against the wall silently after approaching it.
Something was definitely wrong, and if Sylvia wasn't going to come out and say it on her own, Luce would have to pester it out of her. She did keep out of the affairs of others when they didn't worry or affect her, but Sylvia was different from the matter of Lianna's magic. Her sudden change in personality meant that the issue was most certainly Luce's business to investigate, and she was going to do so. If all went well, she'd have it figured out before they split up for the break too.
When the week ended, buzz was in the air regarding the break. With Friday completed, it was time for everyone to go home and enjoy their breaks. The halfway point of the semester had finally arrived. Granted, not many were going to be leaving until Sunday since Saturday was often when students finally got the chance to pack, but the anticipation was hanging heavy, and it was easily enough to get anyone hyped for the vacation.
It was past midnight on Friday, and Tanith was taking this chance to get some time away from the madness of the school. She needed some time to think. After all, it was Saturday now, and Saturday was an important day for her.
Well, October eighteenth was an important day for her. Now that midnight had passed, it was the fifth anniversary of her meeting Zylphia. It was the fifth anniversary of her memory loss, and as it usually did, this time of the year brought with it thoughts of worry regarding who she had been before coming to Millennia.
No strict curfew was being imposed since the first quarter of the year was over now, so she could be up this late and still follow the rules. She was the only one up at this hour since even if curfew was suspended, many wanted to rest in preparation for returning home in the next two days.
Tanith was bundled up tight in the bitter autumnal air. She took a seat on a bench in the courtyard. A cool breeze was blowing through the area, but she didn't mind it. Her thoughts cared not for cold or hot. All that mattered was that she got to think.
Five years ago, the school year had still been going on. It was almost time for the break at the middle of the semester, but classes were still in session. Tanith had been in the field near Alitia, the one on the opposite side of the school in comparison to Millennium City. Everything had been fuzzy, and that was when Zylphia found her.
Tanith had been sick and suffering. That year had been particularly chilly, leaving a young girl like her at risk of getting a cold. Sure enough, she wound up with hypothermia after being outside for so long, and it took over a month for Zylphia to restore her to full health.
The anniversary of her discovery left many questions in Tanith's head. She still didn't know who she had once been or where she came from. The general assumption was that she originated from Aerania, the land of air magic, but she couldn't be sure. She looked like she was Aeranian with hair in the blonde region and blue eyes. Her magic seemed to indicate such as well, but she couldn't be sure. There was nothing for her to use as a reference for her past.
Part of her wanted to know where she had come from, but a stronger half demanded it remain quiet. She didn't have a clue who she had once been before losing her memories, but it gave her a bad feeling to think about. She would have only been eleven or twelve at the time. It was hard to believe someone so young could have been a horrible criminal, but it still frightened her regardless of if she admitted it or not.
Zylphia had been trying to unearth where Tanith had come from or who she had once been, but there had been no luck. It made Tanith sick to her stomach. She was unable to be tracked. Was there anyone for her to go back to aside from Zylphia? Was anyone out there searching for her?
Magic made it possible to trace someone's genetic makeup to where it had once come from, but there was nothing there for her. It was as if she had just appeared one day with next to no notice. Tanith hadn't ever heard about someone randomly starting to exist without going through the regular cycle of birth, but she didn't want to be the first. The past scared her much more than the future.
In a way, it was ironic. She was known for her amazing memory, but at the same time, she couldn't remember anything from before she met Zylphia. Hell, she wasn't even aware of what had caused her memory loss. It was all a blank before her eyes opened to show Zylphia in the Alitia infirmary. She hadn't even had a name until Zylphia gave her one.
On top of her memory loss, there were the voices. Well, the singular voice. It always seemed to nag at her regardless of the situation. It was like there was someone else in her head telling her everything to do. The voice felt familiar, like she knew it but didn't at the same time. Tanith was positive it had something to do with the person she had once been, but she didn't know how the intrusive vocals fit into the puzzle. For crying out loud, she didn't even know how Tanith Satim, a potentially false identity, fit into the puzzle, and that's who she was... At least, that's who she thought she was.
Tanith shook her head and got to her feet. She was starting to get tired. Exhaustion tugged at her eyes. She started for a door back into the school. She could talk to Zylphia about it like she had every year since they first met. Maybe some new revelation had come into play that she wasn't aware of.
Tanith was nearly back at her dorm room when she heard the voice again. It sounded older than her. It was refined yet defensive. It was hard to explain otherwise.
You're being followed.
Tanith stopped, her hand just above the handle to her room. Sure enough, footsteps echoed throughout the hallways. Nobody was awake at this hour. Bathrooms were within dorms. Why would someone sneak out? When she had left, all the lights had been off in all the rooms.
Before Tanith really knew what she was doing, she was letting her right arm fly free. The air molecules around her followed her demands despite her general lack of power. Despite this, it seemed to do the job.
She heard someone hit the wall opposite the room. Something fell onto the ground. Tanith's eyes, still not adjusted to the darkness, couldn't tell what it was. She saw the person reach down and pick up the object before placing it on their face. It must have been a mask of some sort.
"Who are you?" Tanith asked. Despite the thicker clothing, she was shaking. The sudden burst of magic had taken a lot out of her. Without Isolis, there wasn't much else she could do but push them against the wall with her limited magic.
"You don't need to be afraid," the person said, walking closer slowly. Their voice sounded masculine, and their hands were up in surrender. "My name is Rune. I didn't mean to frighten you."
Tanith gasped despite herself. She had heard about Rune from her companions. He had helped them out during the battle at Sacred Heart. She still couldn't fathom what he was doing at the school at this hour. Rune wasn't a student at the Millennium Six as far as they were concerned. Even if he was, he wouldn't be able to sneak into Alitia so easily.
"I'm here to give this to you. I can't stay for long, but I need you to deliver this note to your companions," Rune told Tanith quickly, pressing a sealed envelope into her fingers. "It's a warning I pray they'll choose to heed. Until we meet again."
Tanith couldn't think of anything to say as Rune opened a portal out of thin air. He descended into it, vanishing from sight, seconds later. The breath Tanith had been holding released itself, leaving her panting. Her heart pounded. The Rune she had heard about was noble and a powerful warrior, not a midnight stalker dead set on delivering a piece of paper.
Part of Tanith wanted to open the envelope and see what was inside, but she wanted to wait for her friends to wake up first. The message was for them. Rune and Tanith didn't know each other at all. At the very least, Tanith didn't know Rune. He probably knew something about her whether she was aware of it or not. That knight gave her a bad feeling. She couldn't open the note until morning came and her friends were awake. Sure, she would lose sleep in the meantime, but she wasn't about to betray her morals over a damn envelope.