Chapter 11

A moment with Yumi

Wednesday, September 26th 2063

In Class-1B’s Magic History class, Tatsu Jin was bored beyond belief. Class-1B students were studying recent political events, in which the Master of All Magic had a secret implication. Because he already knew exactly what happened, this class was teaching him absolutely nothing. Still, the transfer student remained here because he was pretty much focused on something else.

 

Tatsu Jin had been looking at a video sent by one of his contact in the military. In total, he had spent around thirty minutes understanding its content, focusing all his attention towards his holographic screen.

 

It showcased how existing materials performed in sustaining enchantments compared to a newly found allow. This innovation was full of promise, but remained rare and therefore expensive.

 

At different points of the lesson, students started to ask questions that put the teacher in a difficult position. They were mainly related to the Absolute Trinity’s involvement in the events they were studying. The Magic History teacher tried to warn them about the risk of over speculating. 

     When looking at history, an historian has to evaluate the cold hard facts. Here, there are nothing, no proofs, no rumors that are implying the Absolute Trinity’s involvement. They COULD be involved in it, but facts are saying otherwise, at least for now. 

These back-and-forths finally made Tatsu Jin interested in the lecture. However, as soon as he decided to focus, something else required his attention.

 

Yumi Ohno had sent him a message, which made his mobile GLASS vibrate. Usually, Yumi was using this channel to ask advice about Magic, but right now, she was asking for something else entirely. 

Tatsu Jin wondered about what kind of homework she could possibly want his help on. In his eyes, this study session might be nothing more than a decoy for her to gather information. He made himself the promise to be careful before pushing this thought to the back of his mind.

 

He had far more important things to think about, like how to prepare his next training sessions with Yumi and Mia. Furthermore, he also needed to start coming up with strategies he could use in the Winter Tournament that was coming in closer and closer. Without getting caught, Tatsu Jin spent the rest of the afternoon class focused on his inner thoughts.

 

On his way out of the classroom, Tatsu Jin wondered what was wrong with the student body. They all had a mysterious look on their face, as if they were trying to solve a mystery. Still, Tatsu Jin quickly walked to Apartment 808, clearly not allowing them much importance.

 

He was actually really looking forward to his first enchanting session with the new material.

 

He spent one hour reading, going through half of a book about Magic Theory, before his GLASS notified him that his package was nearby. Tatsu Jin opened the huge glass window, just to see his order finally arrived. The drone initiated its comeback sequence after the customer signed the release document on his device.

 

This delivery system had been popular and in effect for almost twenty years, and no other technology had come close to supplanting it yet. The population still went to physical stores for unique customer experiences and when some special items were not available online.

 

The first thing he did with this brand new shortsword was to swing it. With expert movements, he tested its weight, precision, and quickness. He was really satisfied with the weapon before seeing some traces that indicated its manufacture. Even though was not a complete deal breaker, it was known that hand-crafted blades performed way better.

 

With huge expectations, Tatsu Jin walked slowly towards his enchanting station with the blade and its enchanting tool. After a moment of thinking, Tatsu Jin decided to carve the usual Country-Class Ice Magic he tested all his weapon with. This would give him a relevant comparison, as he still had the dagger that he enchanted back at the Underground Palace.

 

Tatsu Jin focused his mind into the process for over an hour. He stopped at what he felt was half of the enchanting potential of this shortsword, and was bewildered by the fact that he managed to carve five runes on it. For a such a short weapon, it was extremely impressive. For an item to handle ten or more runes, a much larger material is usually required.

 

Despite his amazement, he also pestered about how expensive this alloy was.

 

Moving around enough material to upgrade his entire cache of equipment at once would attract attention. Both monetary and material flux could potentially betray his cover. He sighed deeply at the thought of how much time and care he needed to upgrade his stuff.

 

Noticing that his time was up, the transfer student took a couple of minutes to relax before making his way towards the Elite Magic Academy’s Training Grounds. Usually, Yumi was using this channel to ask advice about Magic, but right now, she was asking for something else entirely.   

Separator

It was a good training session so far for Yumi. She had defeated all her opponents so far, earning her Contractor’s compliments in the process. Her adviser was a specialist in Fire Magic, which suited Yumi’s profile well. He had been there to monitor how a few of his pupils were performing, including the swordswoman.

 

Yumi Ohno was one of the rare students that requested training from two different contractors. She followed Tatsu Jin’s advice and earned the attention of another Contractor, which was well-versed in Air Magic. At that point in their cursus, students were focused on Elemental Magic, which was both easy to learn and use. It was a perfect introduction to more complicated magic spells.

 

Right now, Yumi was breathing every word that came from her master. He was giving her feedback on her most recent fights, especially on how to improve her rhythm and execution. She was still a bit slow, which gave her opponents time to plan a counterattack.

 

Her Contractor also explained that her latest strategy worked because of the surprise effect. He made a special point in explaining that now, fighters will come in expecting her to use that kind of magic.

 

But still, her Contractor was stunned. Yumi was listening so hard that he could almost feel her concentration. He wondered what could have caused this state of deep concentration, which was not clearly not normal. After discovering that steam was going out of her body, he decided to leave her alone. The Contractor finally recognized what was happening. He had seen this multiple times in both fighters and athletes throughout his career.

 

She was in the “Zone”.

Focused on her fighting style and all her master’s advices, Yumi took a fighting stance and, over the course of five minutes, completely destroyed her training partner from Class-1C. In both strength, speed, magic abilities and tactics, her training partner was outmatched. All he could do was watch her execute strikes after strikes with pinpoint accuracy and absurd speed.

 

The one in charge of the training session yelled at her and Yumi faced her scolding. After all, her training partner had no room to practice, which was counterproductive for a session like this one.

 

After apologizing for her lack of restraint, her eyes swung over the stadium and met Tatsu Jin’s. He answered her gaze with another one devoid of any warmth or emotions. This made her angry, which greatly disturbed her focus.

 

After her previous battle, only second-year students volunteered to fight her.

 

She was no longer master of herself and aggressively moved forward to keep striking. The strategy and grace that Yumi showed earlier were completely gone.

 

This was clearly not enough to outsmart or overpower a second-year student with more experience at his disposal. After a dozen blows, her opponent started to use Yumi’s own power against her, sign of a complete defeat. Still, the swordswoman listened to the victor’s advice with courtesy.

 

The swordswoman also witnessed Tatsu Jin and the Student Council President talking from afar. Nonetheless, she quickly came back to her sense and started stretching as there was not enough time for another match. 

Separator

Tatsu Jin leaned on a guard-rail, separating the stands from the fighting circle. He made it just before Yumi’s fight with the Class-1C student. It was 5:30PM and there was no sign of slowing things down. He was wondering why did Yumi ask him to be there now, as he was obviously here early.

 

Still, the team leader quite enjoyed her teammate’s prestation. Even if it was short, he had some sort of fascination for her sword fighting style. Like him, many other students stopped their training drills to focus their attention on Yumi’s demonstration and were greatly impressed by her performance.

 

Tatsu Jin was deep in thought after what he just witnessed. 

(What a performance. And from such a young warrior… I can’t imagine how much physical and technical training she had to go through to reach this level of expertise. It is also especially true considering how little talent she has in Magic.

 

She could be very dangerous in a not-so-distant future, especially if I am involved…

 

Am I nurturing a future enemy?)

What broke his thought process was Yumi, who was looking at him with a cheeky smile on her face. But because of the dark thoughts in his brain, the transfer student harbored no expression at all. He instantly felt some regret as his behavior seemed to be have caused Yumi some displeasure, but it was in the past now.

 

Suddenly, someone approached Tatsu Jin from the tunnel behind him.  

      Quite the fighter she is… I understand why you chose her. 

      Oh… It’s you President. 

He instantly recognized the voice of the Student Council President. Without wasting time in idle chat, Tatsu Jin cut to the chase. 

      What do you want with me? 

      Nothing important… just warning you that you attracted my attention. 

      What could I have possibly done to deserve your attention?

Fuji Uchita chuckled to express his disbelief. 

       Do you seriously think that a normal student could team up with Mia Hirano and Yumi Ohno, both wanted talents from Class-A?

 

     Also, I saw you on the Training Grounds’ camera footage, singlehandedly defeating these two women. With that kind of power, you could easily have a good standing in Ranked matches, but you decided not to. There seems to be some kind of logic behind your actions that I can’t see yet. The truth is that, even though you are trying your best to remain in the shadows, you are still standing out too much. 

The transfer student abandoned the guard-rail and stood up tall, adopting a threatening posture. 

      I am now asking in light of what you know, what do you want from me? Blackmail? 

It did not take long for the Student Council President to raise both his hands in sign of peace. 

      God no! I wanted to see your reaction, that’s all. I am really interested in your potential. You see, I currently sit at the top of my year pretty much uncontested. I lack anyone to really motivate me. I think about placing my hopes in you.

     Don’t hope too much then. 

     We’ll see. Now, I’ll be on my way… train hard in sight of our future battle. 

Fuji Uchita disappeared into the entrance’s tunnel just before the bell rang. Two minutes later, Tatsu Jin was waiting for Yumi to finally show up. 

 

While waiting for her, multiple students stared at him intently. They seemed to be particularly excited about something, which reminded him of the phenomenon that he witnessed earlier. This time, Tatsu Jin decided to focus his attention and eavesdropped on different conversations. 

 

The transfer student discovered that a classified list of the academy’s Contractors had been leaked on social media. In addition, the number of students that contracted with them was leaked as well.

 

Then, everyone was able to learn that a single student contracted with the Illusion Contractor yet. Therefore, the whole academy was trying to find out who did it. Tatsu Jin distinctively heard a first-year student making fun of whoever made that choice. 

      That student could at least have the decency to pick REAL Offensive Magic. Everyone knows that Illusion Magic is both difficult to learn and inapplicable in real situations. Simply put, this student is either dumb as hell or overconfident in his abilities.

Tatsu Jin followed his prior mindset and decided to not take offense. Focusing on something productive, he thought about raising his awareness when visiting Eleanor. Becoming the center of attention once again was clearly not in his plan. 

 

Yumi got out of the women’s changing room, fully equipped with a long-sleeved coat to fight the known weather of the Chubu region. Her hair was released, shiny, and still a bit wet after her shower. The swordswoman was also holding her weapon and bag in both of her hands. At that point, she stood there patiently with a smile on her face. 

       Elite Magic Academy to Tatsu Jin, Hello! 

The transfer student finally focused his attention on Yumi. 

       You ready to go? I’ll be taking that for you. 

Without waiting for her answer, Tatsu Jin grabbed her long sword, which was definitely the heaviest item in her possession, and walked towards the exit. 

 

Yumi smiled at his action and followed him outside, running to catch up. She then planted her feet in front of the transfer student. 

      Did you see me fight? 

       Considering you called me thirty minutes in advance, I was a bit forced to. 

       Can you stop with the sass already? Sheesh… How did I do? 

       Your first fight was as amazing as the second one was disappointing. You let your emotions take over, which led to disaster. While some emotions like anger or rage fuel your determination, they also lessen your concentration and ability to think. 

      Whose fault is it that my emotions got out of control?! You dummy…

      Please, don’t tell me my gaze made you that angry. I’m sorry, I was thinking about something else. 

Yumi used her right arm to slightly punch his left shoulder.

       Stop teasing me! 

      Did I do such a thing?  

      You are just unbearable…

The tension rose as they kept walking towards the library. Yumi, who had multiple things in mind, started with the new and trendy topic of the Academy. 

      You heard about the Contractor list, didn’t you? 

       Not directly but I heard enough here and there to make sense of it. 

       Who do you think it is? 

       I don’t know but this student should keep a low profile. 

Even though her teammate put up a solid defense, it was not enough to convince Yumi. While walking, the swordswoman took a few more steps and stood in front of him again, launching her attack. 

      It’s you, isn’t it? 

 

The transfer student stopped walking for a second. 

       What makes you say that? Am I standing out too little that I need another weird quirk to add on my profile? 

      It’s specifically because it’s weird that it can totally be you. You seem to be quite different from us. Listen… I know you have real battlefield experience that you don’t talk about.  

      So, your only basis for decision is that it fits my personality? It’s quite thin…

Even though they were in an argument, they both remained calm and composed. Yumi decided it was time to back off and put an end to this topic. It was not her goal to cause discord in the team she had just agreed to be a part of. 

       Here’s the library, let’s get inside before I catch a cold.  

Yumi and her teammate entered the building and registered with the main attendant in a couple of seconds. Because it was Tatsu Jin’s first time visiting the place, Yumi took the lead. They sat down at a table near the first-floor staircase to avoid disturbing the other students. They sat on opposing couches before Yumi opened up her bag to take out her GLASS device. 

 

At around 8:40PM, the sun was already coming down. The whole library was now lit up with artificial lights, which gave a warm atmosphere to the building. In addition, the place had a system that emanated a light fragrance. All of this was to ensure a perfect place for students that were looking deep into the abyss of Magic. From meditating to reading, the library was created with the students in mind. Attendants were also available at all time to help students in locating books that fit their interests. 

 

In that case, it was a perfect spot for Magic Theory homework. After seeing that Yumi had her GLASS in hand, Tatsu Jin asked about the kind of homework she had been tasked with. 

      What is your Magic Theory homework on? 

       An essay called “What is Magic to you?”

       Hum… I am pretty sure this is supposed to be personal… 

       I feel completely uninspired at the moment. I thought hearing your answer would fire me up… Don’t look at me like that… Please?  

With the same energy that she used earlier to convince him, she managed to get through to him. Yumi completely trapped him in his commitment. Should he refuse to answer her question, he would have wasted over an hour and a half. At that point, he had done enough to not want to back down, but not enough to consider the task done. 

 

He asked for a couple of minutes to get his thoughts in order for a better answer. Two minutes later, he was ready to give his opinion on the matter.

       My first point is that, to me, Magic the next step of human evolution. Before its appearance on Earth, Humankind started to completely dominate its surroundings, with artificial intelligences, machine-based implants, and many other innovations. But all of this technology had an impact on us: we were losing track of our humanity further and further. The fact that Magic can only be effectively practiced by a human made out of flesh supports this theory. But events caused by nature can either bring civilizations resounding success or its complete and unavoidable demise. The question is: which side of the coin is Magic involved with? But all of this is only of you are concerned about the world. Magic is also a way for me to surpass my own limits. Knowing that there is something I can do right now to grow as both a magician and as a person.

     After all, Magic is a perfect tool to assess one’s personality. Even though there are other examples of things that can more or less accurately do that, Magic is way more effective at understanding the soul of the one who practices it. Give a person absolute power and his or her dark desires rushes up to the surface. It is then a test of one’s abilities to suppress these feelings and use Magic to be a better person. So, was Magic introduced so we can understand each other better? So many questions unanswered…I am sure there are some other areas that I have not mentioned, but this is a pretty accurate model of my thoughts at the moment. 

After hearing half of his answer, Yumi’s eyes were wide open in astonishment. Despite the fact that she had known his answer would be deep, she was not expecting this kind of depth. So, she stood there on the couch saying nothing and processing what he did say. 

 

On the other hand, Tatsu Jin was satisfied about the answer he had given her. To him, this was the perfect outcome of them all. However, there was one thing he forgot: he was supposed to be a nineteen years-old man talking to someone of the same age.

 

So, Yumi pointed out this weird behavior. 

      What are you? A thirty-year old with a white beard? What’s up with this answer?   

Because he did not understand her irony at first, Tatsu Jin’s whole body tensed up as he panicked. Fortunately for him, Yumi did not grasp these physiological clues and remained focused on her joke. 

       This is where I come from when I say that you seem quite different from us. I feel your presence is more one of a teacher than a student. Maybe you are just way more mature than us, maybe you saw and experienced events that made you grow up faster. Our teacher asked some of us for a quick response to that question, can you figure out what most of them said? 

      I don’t need to; you’re going to tell me anyway. 

She made an approach to his side of the couch with a smile that radiated mischief. 

      A weapon. They think of Magic as a weapon. 

       That is sad… truly sad… 

       Can you understand now why your answer surprised me? 

       I underestimated how the military has affected our generation’s mindset. 

With the dexterity of a cat, Yumi relaxed her entire body, put her legs on the couch, and rested her head on the transfer student’s lap. Unfazed by the event, Tatsu Jin let it happen without avoiding the contact. Before he was able to decide on what to say, the swordswoman explained herself. 

       I still feel the aftermath of the training session in my legs. 

      And that’s a sufficient explanation for this?  

      Let’s say that you are comfier than the couch’s leather. Let me have this. 

It was more a compliment than an explanation but the transfer student decided to allow it. After all, he never grew up in an environment where close contact was something to be ashamed of. But what he really wanted now was to go back to the peace of Apartment 808, so he needed to be patient and wait for the moment to subtract himself from the situation. Still, there was one thing he needed to address. 

       You know, I can see your manipulations to extract personal information about me… I am pretty sure you know how to write this essay…

      You know? Then why did you answer?   

      Because more than anyone, I understand the craving for information. What’s your motive then? 

He was now looking deep into her blue eyes with a serious gaze. Yumi felt like a pet who suddenly broke something and had to be reprimanded. Therefore, she avoided eye contact and leaned her head towards the table before answering his question. 

       After giving my approval to be a part of our team, I tried to find as much information about you as possible. After all, you had also done your homework about me. But YOU found what you were looking for while I found nothing…

 

     Nothing of any value except that your name is related to some unknown magician. How is it possible? Nowadays, everyone should have traces online, from your shopping habits, social platforms, government agencies… but not you.

 

     So… Who are you?

The moment he feared the most since the beginning of term had happened way earlier than he expected. His positive expectations and planning fallacies had been revealed. He was now in a difficult spot and could only give a hesitating answer. 

       We are more alike than you may think on a couple of topics…

      Like what?

He hesitated for a couple of seconds before giving in.

       I am, like you, someone that has been found by a master who taught me everything I know today. But he sent me here in the search of a better life that, in his opinion, I should be deserving. 

      You were a soldier? At your age?  

      As you already felt it, I can not lie about that. I have seen my fair share of combat indeed… I know you have a lot of questions, but many of them I can’t answer. But if you need to ask them, I will remain here to dodge those that require dodging.

Without being seen by attendants and students alike, these two stayed in that position for over an hour, going from broad topics about Magic to personal topics. Nonetheless, Yumi did not learn more personal information about Tatsu Jin, but still felt a little closer to him.

 

Above everything else, she felt lighter than ever after voicing her concerns.

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