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The Most Important Lesson

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Special Power is not almighty.

How many times have I said those very words to one of my apprentices? It seems as if I have to tell them all at least once during their training, if not more in the cases when the words go in one ear and out the other as they were wont to do with the more stubborn, egotistical students. As naive teenagers in training to become licensed mages, it was one of the most important lessons they needed to learn. Mages might have powers that other humans lack, but we are not gods.

It is actually a common misconception, that - our supposed "godhood." Perhaps that's why our predecessors, labeled "witches" and "warlocks" by the fearful and misinformed, were often burned at the stake when their powers were discovered. Non-mages did not like the idea of gods walking among men, ruling over them with our so-called "evil" powers.

The truth is, however, we can do very little with our powers.

And what little we can do is rarely enough.


For those who think I've lost touch with the younger generation, having recently hit the big 3-0, I admit there was a time, long ago, when I too thought as most of my trainees do. I was young, ignorant, and just about invincible in my mind. As far as I was concerned, nothing and nobody could stand in my way of achieving my dreams.

All that changed ten years ago when I finally realized I was not the god I thought I was.

At the time, I was dating a fellow mage named Kawahara Takako. A cute girl with a pixie haircut and a cheerful disposition that helped balance out my somewhat serious nature, Takako was the girl of my dreams. I don't remember a time when I was so happy. With Takako by my side, I thought anything was possible.

She was actually the one who encouraged me to open Pachanga with the building I inherited from my late grandfather. The building was quite large, and after I had set up my apartment and mage offices on the upper two floors, I realized the first floor would be going to waste. I originally planned to rent out the space to a small business until Takako and our close friend Iwashita Miyuki, who preferred to be called by her DJ name Milinda, came to me with the idea of converting what used to be my grandfather's nightclub into the hottest salsa bar in Tokyo.

Admittedly, I was not much of a dancer. I enjoyed listening to the Latin beats Milinda was so fond of playing whenever Takako and I would go see her spinning at a club, but Takako usually had to drag me onto the dance floor, kicking and screaming, before I would dance with her. Still, together, Takako and Milinda were difficult to refuse, and I finally agreed, thinking it would be a good way to make some extra money - the mage business doesn't pay very much - and maybe have a little fun.

The day of the accident, Takako and I were celebrating the six-month anniversary of Pachanga's opening. The club was an unqualified success, and we were on top of the world. Since it was such a gorgeous summer day, I had suggested we head to the beach for some much deserved fun in the sun.

The time we spent on the beach will forever be engrained in my memory. We didn't do anything particularly memorable, or exciting, or even noteworthy, but for the rest of my life, I will remember it as the day that changed everything.

For that was the day I discovered I was not all-powerful.


To this day, I'm not quite sure what happened. One moment, I was driving Takako home down one of the more scenic routes surrounding Tokyo Bay, telling her to put on one of my shirts to help protect her skin from sunburn, and the next, we were driving off the cliff, just narrowly missing being caught in a head-on collision with a big rig truck.

When I got out of the overturned car, having only suffered minor injuries, I assumed we had been lucky. The car was a wreck, but other than a slight headache and a few aches and pains from cuts and bruises, I felt fine. I thought Takako was too, and even joked how I was going to use all the profits from Pachanga to buy a new car equipped with state-of-the-art security features, until I opened the door on the passenger side of the car and realized the extent of her injuries.

Officially, the medical examiner ruled her death had been caused by massive internal bleeding, but at that moment, all I knew was that she was in a great deal of pain. As carefully as I could, I managed to get her out of there and set her down on the white sands of the deserted beach we had landed on, knowing I couldn't wait for an ambulance to arrive. Takako was conscious, but just barely. She needed medical attention, or at least first aid, as soon as possible.

"It's going to be alright, Takako," I assured her, kissing the top of her blood-matted hair. "Just hold on. I can heal you with Special Power. These injuries are nothing. You're going to be okay. Just hold on!"

I honestly believed it would work, too. I really did. At the back of my mind, I vaguely remembered watching a training video when I was studying for my exam and hearing the narrator say a mage couldn't heal the sick and dying, but I just thought it was a stupid rule. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't have even thought of breaking the law we mages lived under, but I was willing to face the consequences to save Takako, even if it meant giving up my mage's license.

However, the simple fact of the matter was that it was impossible to save her. Around us, snowflakes - the symbol of my power - fluttered down from the sky, but they were about as useless as the real thing. Sure, my magic managed to heal some of her more minor external injuries and lessen some of her pain, yet it was not enough to save her.

In my arms, she died, a serene look on her face and a whispered word on her lips, and I cried.


It wasn't fair.

Even years after the fact, I can't help having that thought. Why had I survived, with little more than a few minor injuries, when Takako was the more deserving? Why did she have to die instead of me? Why couldn't I save her?

It feels like a punishment - for what, I do not know. I always tried to live a good life, but I knew I had made mistakes. After all, what person hasn't?

Maybe I shouldn't have been so prideful about my powers. Maybe her death was the true God's - if He truly exists - way of showing me I was a fool to ever compare my powers to His. Maybe…

I don't know.

But from that day forward, I made a promise to myself. Even if they learned nothing else from me, I would make my apprentices understand that they are not gods, no matter how brilliant or powerful they think they are. I want them to learn from my mistakes, so they will never have to experience the pain I went through when I lost Takako.

If living without her by my side is the punishment for my arrogance, then the lesson I teach is my penance.

Special Power is not almighty.

Yume-chan, always remember that.