Getting in the way
Thursday, October 4th 2063
When he got up from his bed at around 7:30 AM, Tatsu Jin felt more tired than usual. He had finally reached the first-month mark in the Elite Magic Academy and fatigue started to pile up. In addition, the latest events with the National Library added a lot of mental pressure.
Part of what allowed him to keep going was his ritual in the morning. Running and meditating without anything else on his mind was truly relaxing.
After eating a simple breakfast, he put on clothes fit for practice and opened his apartment door, ready to go outside and exercise. What he found at that exact moment was a young lady wearing leggings and running top waiting for him to leave his apartment.
He stood outside his door for a couple of seconds before realizing what was happening.
– What do you think you are doing exactly, Mia?
– Can I come with you?
– What do you think I will be doing exactly?
– Running? You always run in the morning at the exact same hour. It’s almost frightening…
She put her hand on her chin while answering his question. When Mia saw that he was planning an excuse, she took it in her own hands the matter of convincing him.
– What does it cost you to let me tag along?
– My peace of mind.
– Oh… you think? I’ll do my best to not bother you then!
The transfer student saw the determination in her eyes and knew she was not going to abandon her request.
Tatsu Jin decided to just get on with his ritual and allowed her to come. He also thought about taking advantage of the situation and proceeding thereafter with some training.
– I’m not adjusting my pace to you. If you want to run with me, you’ll have to earn it. And after you’re done, come to my apartment for an Ether Meditation training.
Without another word, they both took the elevator and left the building to begin their jogging. Without realizing it, Tatsu Jin ran a bit faster than usual, which changed his rhythm in the process.
There was also another thing that triggered his surprise. For the first twenty minutes of their jogging, Mia was following him without showing any signs of fatigue. However, after running for around twenty-five minutes, her breathing pattern started to shorten.
Tatsu Jin did not slow down but still glanced behind from time to time. He wanted to track her progress and satisfy his curiosity. Mia, who was not a practicing monster like him, hit her limit at around half the total distance.
After finishing his run in forty-eight minutes, Tatsu Jin returned to his apartment to take a shower and change into his Elite Magic Academy uniform.
At around 8:50 AM, He heard a knocking sound on his door and opened to find Mia, freshly dressed as well. The transfer student offered her a drink of juice before the both of them sat down on the ground facing each other.
Tatsu Jin was attempting an exercise that he has done thousands of times in his younger years with his master. He held Mia’s hands in his and started meditating while ordering her to do the same. They both were surprised by how different the Ether in their bodies was.
Tatsu Jin’s Ether was refined, fluid, and flowed at an impressive pace. On the other hand, because of her lack of training and meditation, Mia’s Ether was rough, difficult to move around, but still extremely concentrated considering how little she trained.
He decided to give her some insight related to this training.
– When launching a powerful spell, magicians gather the required quantity of Ether in a dedicated target, like hands or weapons. So, the Ether in your body needs to be moved as fast as possible to that location without losing too much power. Because the Ether in your body is not yet refined enough, you succeed half of the time to gather enough of it to launch that Medium-Class Lightning Arrow.
This was a huge step for Mia as it gave her something to think about. The young magician now had a better idea of how to handle the Ether inside her body. Finally, she had no idea why but she felt incredibly powerful when handling her teammate’s Ether.
They remained in that position for thirty minutes, in which the transfer student could already feel a tiny difference in how she was handling Ether. Because it was time to go to class, Tatsu Jin made a final report on how this morning went to continue the positive reinforcement.
– I know this exercise was useful. You now have a model to reproduce during your own sessions. I feel confident meditating on your own will yield results. Same with the running, you held your own for longer than I thought.
In a roundabout way, her teammate’s compliments hit in all the right spots. She left his apartment with a radiant smile on her face and enough energy to go through the whole day. The transfer student was also satisfied with the session despite losing his favorite time of the day.
On his way to the classroom, Tatsu Jin spotted multiple students sending him gazes full of hate and anger. After his multiple surrenders at the Ranked Matches, he became the scapegoat for most of the academy.
After entering Class-1B, the transfer student was not alone for once. Because of Mia’s training, he was slowly behind his natural schedule. One of his classmates came up to him and greeted him upon his arrival.
– Good morning. How are you doing today?
– Slightly better than yesterday, I guess. Thanks…
The transfer student did not care to create any social links with anyone in the class except when it was absolutely necessary. Having a student approach him on purpose was a rare occurrence. However, it did not prevent this particular student from coming up to him and voicing his opinion.
– I’m sorry about how the student body is treating you. I don’t agree with your behavior, but that’s not a good reason for insulting you and dragging your name in the mud.
– Thanks… I guess some students do have common sense.
10 AM finally came by and every other Class-1B student sat down on their seats.
The Magic History teacher was a bit late, which gave Tatsu Jin time to think about what kind of equipment should he make for his two teammates.
(They will need two sets of weapons for this year. Fighting first-years and third-years will require completely different preparations. Unfortunately, I can’t do it without their approval because Mia and Yumi are wielding atypical weapons. I will have to ask them for schematics, which could be problematic…)
The Magic History teacher finally entered the classroom, apologizing for his late arrival. To make it up to his students, he made a surprising announcement.
– The last hour will be dedicated to a surprise. I was made aware of it this morning, which explains why I was late. In the meantime, the focus of today’s lesson is on the beginning of the Magic era.
While every Class-1B student was chatting and speculating about what could be the surprise, Tatsu Jin focused his attention on the class. The beginning of the Magic era was on a topic that always piqued his interest. So, he listened to his teacher’s every word, ready to raise his hand if necessary.
– As we all know, Magic was terrifying at the beginning for the population. The sudden apparition of such a power led a huge quantity of institutions to study its every aspect, without any care in the world for ethics. Places like Southern Africa and Eastern Europe were known to attract people in search of knowledge about Magic. There were records of many researchers who did experimentations on human beings to figure out the laws of Magic that we currently know.
The philosophical aspect of that statement surprised the transfer student, who voiced his concern for the rest of the class.
– The Magic we know today had its rules written down by researchers studying humans against their will?
– Many facts seem to be pointing in that direction, yes. However, it is clearly not the first time in history that humans suffer in the name of innovation, especially in weaponry and chemistry. But I have to admit that Magic could have been the most terrific of them all…
The Magic History teacher saw confusion in his student’s eyes, who was the only one interested in the lecture.
In addition, Tatsu Jin did not show a huge interest in this class since the beginning of the term. Because the Magic History teacher finally had his attention, he used this moment to connect with him. While looking in the transfer student’s direction, he continued his speech.
– In the beginning, everyone was afraid to show any talent with Magic. The probability of being scouted and abducted for further studying was simply too high. Basically, for almost ten years, the manifestation of Magic in an individual was considered a bad omen for his or her future.
The gravity of his speech was apparent, and all the Class-B students stopped chatting about the potential surprise. Silence took hold of the classroom. Tatsu Jin chose to follow up on his previous question and his voice reverberated through the classroom once again.
– Then what happened?
– Ten years after the discovery of Magic, the United Nations came together and created the International Magic Protection. This Agency had two principal missions. First, it was tasked to hunt down unauthorized magic research facilities. Then, its second task was to create standards within which organizations like our National Library can operate their dangerous research on Magic.
There was still something that was bothering Tatsu Jin.
– Yeah… but it does not completely prevent rogue researchers from developing Magic off-the-radars though…
– On that, you are completely right. All of you need to understand this.
You CANNOT pretend to completely get rid of anything, even with our advanced technology. There will always be people who do not comply with regulations. After thirty-six years of worldwide Magic research, it is still not accurate to say that our governments are ahead of everything Magic related. Still, we are far away from what happened during the first ten years.
The transfer student was now breathing his every word, captivated by the topic.
– However, nowadays, magicians from all over our country complain about how the Japanese branch of the International Magic Protection Agency has slowly been drifting towards developing Offensive applications of Magic for the Army. This is why the widely known “Absolute Trinity” has been in office for more than seven years now monitoring the current situation of Magic in our country.
For Tatsu Jin, this was the most interesting Magic History class since his arrival. As a matter of fact, he was wondering why the curriculum did not start with it. However, he was interrupted by the feeling of the GLASS in his back pocket vibrating.
Every precaution has been cleared off.
The Client is adamant about the situation’s urgency.
Need to be handled before October 15th.
Location of the client: Yokohama.
Will proceed as usual.
The world was now calling for the Master of All Magic. Someone needed his help on a difficult matter and was ready to exchange a rare Magic spell for it.
Even though the news of a new piece of Magic in his hands was good, he still had to find a way around the Academy’s rules. He always dedicated at least a whole week to fulfilling his clients’ desires, which meant he had to start on Monday, October 8th.
He had four days to find a way to leave the Elite Magic Academy without breaking any rules. Tatsu Jin was not confident in managing to do so but still replied favorably to this message.
Monday, October 8th.
Because he took fifteen minutes to read, understand, and answer this message, he completely missed enough Magic History content to feel lost. The connection he had with his teacher was now gone, which seemed to disappoint the latter. Still, noon came by pretty fast, and the Magic History teacher was ready to unveil the surprise.
Suddenly, someone knocked on the class door. The Magic History teacher waited for the door to slide into the wall to make his announcement.
– Ah… That’s our twelve o’clock meeting ladies and gentlemen… Let me introduce you to the Archbishop!
The Archbishop entered the class under the whole class’s bewilderment. She smiled and looked at the whole class before taking a bow and introducing herself.
– Hello everyone! Nice to meet you all.
She was wearing her official robe that mixed five different shades of blue and white. Behind her shoulders was resting a white silk piece of cloth that was attached to her attire. Even though she did not have her usual diadem with her, the Archbishop still wore her shiny sapphire earrings, symbols of her power.
Despite her extravagant clothing, she was radiating a positive aura. A decent part of the population could probably not resist confessing every one of their sins to a woman with such a presence. She was not extremely beautiful as a woman, but she knew every trick in the book to take advantage of her charms. After all, she had studied during long years how to behave in social gatherings, from her posture to her tone. But in that case, she was used to wandering around the Elite Magic Academy and adopted a more relaxed attitude than usual.
For first-years, this was stunning. They have been warned that the Archbishop and the World Eater sometimes visited. However, they just considered this information as pure marketing that only had the goal of attracting students. They did not even consider once that they would see them that soon.
The Archbishop was now a few feet away from them. Class-1B students did not know what to say or do, male and female alike. They all stood there, completely paralyzed, with one exception.
One student, however, behaved much differently. The situation was a complete nightmare for Tatsu Jin.
In his mission to win all six tournaments, the Archbishop was one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome. Not many people knew about the full extent of the Archbishop’s Magic capabilities.
The Master of All Magic was one of them.
The Absolute Trinity member knew about her hidden abilities in Magic detection. Only a single touch allowed her to fully comprehend the nature of someone else’s Ether. He was not even aware that being remotely close to her also gave away a small fraction of information.
Because of that, when Tatsu Jin saw the Archbishop, he could not prevent himself from cursing.
(Goddammit… It had to be you…)
He did his best to try and hide from her sight.
– The chairman warned me that students from Class-1B might surprise everyone this year. How is it going so far? Are you adjusting well to this new life?
All of you, come closer! Let’s make this more intimate.
The Archbishop acted as if she already knew them for ten years, which created a peaceful and joyful environment. Everyone rushed to the front desk to be a part of the conversation, which gave the transfer student an opportunity to hide behind a classmate. Everyone shared their feelings as to how their experiences had been so far.
Class-1B students asked about her work as the leader of the Holy Light Church. They wanted to know if her multiple travels were not exhausting, or how was it to her subordinate. Almost everyone participated in this question-and-answer session. Someone voiced a particular question that made the transfer student sigh.
– How is it, being in the same room as the Master of All Magic?
– I force myself to not think about it that much, but he has an overwhelming presence. You know, like he can crush you without thinking about it but doesn’t. Still, he’ll listen to what you have to say if he thinks you are worthy to talk about a specific topic. Also, he does not speak often, but when he does, you know it’s important.
– Did you try to bring him to the Holy Light Church?
– I tried a few times before realizing he already has responsibilities of his own, maybe even more important than mine in the balance of this world.
Tatsu Jin forced himself to show no reactions to the mention of his alter ego. Nonetheless, the Archbishop kept glancing in his direction for some reason. After twenty minutes, she got up from her comfortable chair and walk in his direction before asking the transfer student a simple question.
– You’re the only one that did not share anything or ask a question. Would you like to ask me something?
– No, ma’am.
At the mention of the word he had used to describe her, the Archbishop’s expression changed to a serious one.
– What’s your military number, soldier?
Tatsu Jin said nothing and kept a cold look in his eyes. No one in the classroom dared to interrupt them. Fortunately for the transfer student, a smile suddenly rose on the Archbishop’s face before she laughed the matter off.
– It’s a joke… only soldiers call me “Ma’am”. My apologies, let’s shake hands as a symbol a peace. It’s what we do at the Holy Light Church.
The famous magician offered her hand while smiling, but Tatsu Jin slowly took a step back.
At the sight of his behavior, the Archbishop had a rough understanding of the situation. She decided to go back to the front desk, surrendering her position.
Class-1B students had no clue whatsoever about what just happened. The reason why Tatsu Jin seemed afraid of her remained a mystery. Over at the front desk, the Archbishop gathered attention once again.
– Does anyone still have an unanswered question?
A multitude of students volunteered to interact with the world-class caster. While exchanging words, the Archbishop kept glancing at Tatsu Jin from time to time. However, the transfer student understood that escape was no longer a possibility and did not look away.
After half an hour, Tatsu Jin found an opportunity to sneakily leave the classroom. As soon as 1 PM hit, he already had packed his stuff and was ready to flee.
When he thought life had granted him a moment of peace today, a feminine voice came from behind him in the corridor.
– The Chairman said very positive things about you. Would you like me to partner up with you for some training?
The Archbishop did not want to let this opportunity pass without doing anything.
However, Tatsu Jin was now in bad mood. The Archbishop was almost shouting precious intel that he wanted to remain hidden. His classmates were at close range and could possibly hear everything. With a sharp and icy tone, he gave a negative reply to her proposition.
– The Chairman should learn to keep his mouth shut, especially about stuff that he does know shit about. As to your proposition, there are students in Class-1B that are far more worthy than me to receive your education.
After finishing his passive-aggressive reply, multiple students appeared outside the classroom, wondering what was going on. Seeing this, Tatsu Jin turned his back to the Archbishop and started to walk away. As he felt that the Archbishop still had things to say, Tatsu Jin decided on the lesser of two evils.
– If you really want to talk to me, come with me. But will all due respect, do not even think about touching me.
Class-1B students were bewildered by how one of the most potent magicians on the planet received orders from an Elite Magic Academy student. What was even more terrifying was that the Archbishop not just let that one slip but complied with the order and followed him.
Both Tatsu Jin and the Archbishop walked a safe distance before the leader of the Holy Light Church stopped and chuckled.
– Do you really think you fooled me?
– You refused to shake my hand… The number of people who know about this can be counted with my right-hand fingers. This intel means you can come from four different factions, aside from the Holy Light Church. I can feel a martial education coming from your body language and your personality kind of fits with the Underground. Even a link with the Master of All Magic is not that far-fetched. Either way, you are CLEARLY not a normal student.
– Yet I surrendered all my matches…
Tatsu Jin’s argument made her smile even more.
– That makes me even more curious. Nineteen years-old students are more likely to be arrogant and sure of themselves than calm and composed like you are. The Student Council President also told me you partnered up with two high potential Class-1A female students? I’ll admit you look good, but not that good.
– Don’t pry into my life. Also, orders coming from the Chairman should soon be revoked.
The Archbishop understood that she might have gone too far and apologized with a much more formal tone.
– I really don’t want to antagonize you. I just wanted you to know that I will be keeping an eye on you, and that, should you ask for training or advice, you will find my schedule open.
– There is one thing you can do for me.
– Which is?
– The training you offered me… Mia Hirano and Yumi Ohno would probably be grateful for it.
A student refusing to accept a training session with the Archbishop was unheard of. Furthermore, Tatsu Jin even offered that honor to other people. The Archbishop, who really wanted to satisfy to befriend him, accepted her defeat.
– Understood. Until next time!
What she mistook for pure unselfishness was something completely different. Tatsu Jin simply wanted to stay as far away as possible from the Archbishop. He would stop at nothing to protect his cover.
With the famous caster gone, his anger was finally able to surface. He could not afford to clench his fists when confronting the Archbishop, but now that he was alone, he let his anger flow, fueling his every step.
After reaching the fifth floor of the Administration building, a secretary planted her feet in his way. She firmly affirmed that, without an appointment, he was not going to be received by the Chairman. The office lady even tried to threaten him with a sanction, but to no avail.
Tatsu Jin pushed the lady aside and entered the Chairman’s office, only to find him in the middle of a conference call. A simple eye exchange was enough for the Chairman to know that something important was going on.
He instantly apologized and offered to reschedule the conference, which was accepted. He then turned to the student and was about to formulate welcoming words.
However, Tatsu Jin put a finger on his lips, and the Chairman remained silent, complying with his gesture.
– Now, you will explain to me your deal about the Archbishop clearly and simply, without lying. Do you understand?
His icy tone, overwhelming presence, and the look in his eyes were reminiscent of the Master of All Magic. Since the Chairman had never met Tatsu Jin’s alter ego, he almost fell from his chair. Still, he went on to justify his latest actions.
– I just… wanted to set up a perfect narrative for you. Like, you know, supporting you with the best that I have. I know you already told me to treat you like a normal student, but how can I? If not for nurturing the best talent at my disposal, how am I supposed to use my resources as the Elite Magic Academy’s Chairman?
He saw within a split second that his explanation did not have the intended effect. Nonetheless, when he expected Tatsu Jin to throw a loud tantrum, the complete opposite happened.
Tatsu Jin kept his cold attitude, and slammed his hands on the desk, dominating his environment. Even though Tatsu Jin was unique, he still was only a first-year student. For this reason, the Elite Magic Academy’s Chairman did not understand why his own body was betraying him. He simply did not want to believe that his student just instilled fear in himself.
Still, he let nothing show on his face and kept his formal attitude while waiting for Tatsu Jin to say something.
– I may not have been obvious the last time, so I’ll make sure to be CRYSTAL clear this time around. First, don’t talk about me to anyone. Next, no more Alpha Arena, no more Archbishop, no more anything. Finally, I do not exist in your eyes. Basically, watch from the sidelines and stop from scheming and interfering with my plans. Else, I leave this Academy and with me, the only chance to save it. Do you understand?
The Chairman did not let any word slip from his mind and just nodded in response to his question. With that out of the way, the transfer student turned around and started to walk out of the office. He stopped himself a couple of steps from the door to think before addressing the Chairman one last time.
– I also need to be out of the Academy next week, from October 7th to 16th. Make it happen, no matter the cost.
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