Chapter 4

Elite Magic Academy

Monday, September 3rd 2063

It was a weird sensation for the Master of All Magic to operate with an uncovered face, even if it was not his own. So far, he had been sincerely appreciating the security and peace of mind that his previous mask provided. However, he was ready to get out of his comfort zone and comply with the Elder Sage’s scheme to get a hold of the Arcane Magic.

 

While thinking about this, the Master of All Magic rested his face on the left-back window of the self-driving pod. He could not prevent himself from looking outside to get a glance at his current environment. In all its glory, the East Sea occupied his whole field of vision beyond the horizon. He was currently traveling along the coast in the Japanese region of Chubu, especially at North-East of Kanazawa.

 

At geographic coordinates 37.307310 and 136.736183 near his current position resided the Elite Magic Academy. Legend states that it had been created on this remote place for a special reason: to build the perfect scenery. Away from any kind of modern city, anyone could enjoy the stars shining upon the night sky while at the same time appreciating the beauty of the sea. The main downside of this location was of course the coldness of its winters.

 

After more than an hour of traveling, the pod was finally near its destination. Because the Master of All Magic had always refused the Elite Magic Academy’s invitations, he had never seen it with his own eyes. So, when it was finally in sight, the Master of All Magic took a long time to appreciate what looked more like a small city than a real academy.

 

The architect of the Elite Magic Academy used the full potential of the environment at his disposal. Starting at ground level, this establishment then followed the form of a cliff and gained in height. So, the further someone advances into the city, the higher that person would end up. It was also a perfect metaphor for the grinding challenges that its student would face to reach the top. With this shape, the Elite Magic Academy could also be seen from a far distance.

 

Three of its main architectural characteristics resided in the choice of materials, colors, and shape. The use of grey and white concrete contrasted very well with the blueish shade of stained glass, giving it a modern look. In addition, most buildings followed a similar pattern, preferring round angles over perfectly cut ones. Terraforming had also been performed underneath to both support the weight of such a structure and offered a dedicated private beach. It was obvious that a lot of time, vision, money, and dedication had been sacrificed to create this scenery.

 

The Master of All Magic spent the entirety of his time left on the ride to look at the Elite Magic Academy, which resulted in a particular thought. 

(So… that’s where I’ll spend three years of my life.

 Not bad… really not bad.

 Maybe it’s because I have a thing for modern aesthetics.)

The self-driving pod started to decelerate and made its way onto the final road that led to the academy. After reaching his destination, the Master of All Magic remained in the vehicle for a minute, focusing on adopting his new personality and name.

 

He then got out of the pod and took a deep breath of fresh air, only to hear a slight noise in the background. The future student instantly recognized the other vehicle that arrived at the Elite Magic Academy’s entrance and was very satisfied. The Master of All Magic had been afraid that the arrival of his possessions could be delayed, which could have probably been even more problematic than it was now. Indeed, he really did not want to explain how he obtained the gear that was inside these wooden crates, so he started to think about a way to bypass the usual security protocols.

 

While he was in the midst of his thought, he did not realize that the main gate of the Elite Magic Academy opened itself and that a middle-aged man appeared from within it. The individual was only wearing a blue suit underneath a black coat. When walking toward the new student who just arrived, the middle-aged man stopped himself and his face betrayed both shock and disbelief. Nonetheless, it did not take long for him to get a hold of himself and talk to the newcomer. 

         Tatsu Jin? 

The Master of All Magic, who was not used to be called like that, did not react at all to this name for at least ten seconds. He was so focused on his inner thoughts that the middle-aged man needed to say his name a second time for him to come out of his slumber. The Master of All Magic repeated in his head that he was now Tatsu Jin a couple of times before finally responding to his interlocutor. 

      Tatsu Jin-san?

       Yes… sorry about that. I was lost in thought. Are you the Elite Magic Academy’s chairman whom I have an appointment with to tour the academy?

       I am indeed. My name is Jirou Otsuka, happy to make your acquaintance.

       Same. How should I call you? I am very bad with honorifics.

       Is that so? Just call me Jirou when we are alone. But I’m afraid you will have to call me Chairman when we have company. Can I just call you Jin?

       Please do. 

The chairman appeared to be very sympathetic with Tatsu Jin, which made the latter think that he was subject to preferential treatment. As a matter of fact, he was completely right. After all, it really was not in the Elite Magic Academy chairman’s job description to show the premises to a new student. However, considering the exceptional status of the man named Tatsu Jin, he decided to make an exception.

 

The Chairman then offered to start the visit, but quickly intercepted his new student’s gaze towards the other vehicle, whose container was full of wooden crates.

 

The man under the name of Jirou Otsuka immediately understood that his future protégé was worried about how his gear would be handled. He knew that someone who was acquainted with the Elder Sage would have some artifacts he would like to remain hidden, starting with the one Tatsu Jin was wearing on his face.

 

So, with a push of a button behind his neck, a few mechanical parts moved to create a miniature holographic display in front of his eyes. With that, the chairman contacted his head of security.

       I want you to personally supervise the transportation of the new student’s crates to Apartment 808. Don’t bother with the security measures, it will save you a lot of time. You have full liberty on how it’s done, and you can even use a drone for the heavy lifting. I just want it done before noon, is it doable?

       Certainly, I’ll take care of it. But… even though it is more convenient, should we really skip the security protocols?

       Yes, I’ll take full responsibility for it.

       Understood. 

Witnessing these events unfold stunned Tatsu Jin, who harbored an expression of relief and thanks. It was enough for Jirou Otsuka to understand that he had made the right choice. It was also at that point that the transfer student understood how much he was valued by the Elite Magic Academy’s Chairman. There was not a need for words in that situation and they both entered the Elite Magic Academy while making some small talk. Tatsu Jin used this opportunity to enquire about something that he heard a couple of minutes ago. 

       What exactly is Apartment 808?

       We are heading there now… I’m sure you’re going to love it! That’s where you will be living starting from now on. All apartments in the first-year dormitory building are not built in the same fashion from their surface all the way to furniture and design. I made sure to keep you one of the best apartments in the whole building. 

While the chairman was excited to show that he was on Tatsu Jin’s side, the latter let out a huge sigh and massaged his forehead. After thinking about it for a couple of seconds, the transfer student decided to voice his concern. 

       Is there a regular apartment for me to live in? I am moved by your intentions, but the other students might misunderstand the reason as to why I am treated differently. One thing I want to avoid is standing out, at least for now.

       Oh… I understand… but every other apartment is occupied right now. Apartment 808 was the only one I was able to save for you.

       I see. I’ll take it then. Thanks.

They made their way to the first-year dormitory building, going through different paths and many elevators. It was mainly because the Elite Magic Academy heavily relied on verticality that the use of elevators was required. After five minutes of wandering, these two were finally in front of the building they were heading toward.

 

Mainly made out of white concrete and glass, this building almost looked like a skyscraper, whose structure relied on two heavy, vertical pillars at its surface. Out of every building that was lodging students, this one was the tallest by a slight margin.

 

Tatsu Jin tilted his head upward to fully appreciate the care that was put in this place’s design. He was particularly fond of the reflection of light on the glass facade. The chairman added a bit of context to his contemplation of the building.

       There are two main important things to know about this structure. First, all windows made of glass that you can see are also equipped with transparent solar panels that produce around forty percent of the Elite Magic Academy’s total energy. Next, it houses the best, if not my favorite, place to think and meditate. I’ll show you.

       I look forward to seeing it then. 

The chairman led the way inside the building and they both expressed their politeness to the attendant at the front desk before heading towards one of the two main elevators. They were completely made out of glass and followed the two vertical pillars on the façade. Tatsu Jin and Jiro Otsuka took place on it and, with the press of a button, went up to the twenty-seventh floor. While on their way up top, the chairman went on to explain where his favorite spot to meditate was. 

       At midnight, I like to stand on this same elevator while on the highest floor. I can then appreciate the view, the stars, the East Sea, and the overall landscape. It is a tradition that passes on to every chairman of the Elite Magic Academy, and for a good reason. I traveled a lot during my younger days, but I never found something that puts my heart at ease more than here. Do you see what I mean? Ah… probably not…

       I do understand… but I am more under the charm of modern cities and architecture. While you look outside, I look within.

       Yeah, our architects did a fantastic job… that we can agree on.  

The elevator finally reached the twenty-seventh floor. Half a minute later, they were in front of Apartment 808 and its security system. The chairman took his own GLASS device from his coat and used facial recognition to open the door, which slid into the wall. He then turned around and explained what just happened as it was more complicated than it seemed. 

       Don’t worry too much about security. The program we use to lock and unlock doors is almost impossible to hack. Every student receives a part of everyone else’s lock code, which completes the only code that can unlock their own door. Of course, all codes change at random intervals. I am fighting to use this security system for other buildings here, but the board prefers to rely on an ‘inviolable’ physical lock.

       Military-grade hardware could probably brute force its way into the code before it changes though. But it’s enough for first-year students for sure.

      You seem to know a bit about the topic…

       I do. 

Under the chairman’s supervision, Tatsu Jin downloaded the program and received the authorization to use the key for Apartment 808. With that out of the way, they finally ventured into the apartment.

 

Apartment 808 was a top-of-the-line penthouse equipped with all the latest technology available out there. Everything was wirelessly connected to be controlled via voice commands or gestures. From the bay window’s opacity to the Entertainment Video System, everything was customizable.

 

Even though it was packed with many features, its designer opted for a minimalistic design. In American fashion, the kitchen was fused with the living room. The entry hall, kitchen, and living room were very well lit because of the huge window letting a lot of natural light penetrate the apartment. A glass staircase led to multiple rooms upstairs, which intrigued the transfer student, who decided to go there and take a peek. He found an insanely huge bedroom with a view over the East Sea and an open bathroom.

 

The last room in Apartment 808 was also on the second floor, but completely empty. The Elite Magic Academy’s chairman explained himself on the spot. 

       As per our demand, one room per apartment is left empty for its owner to use. Because different people have different needs, we wanted to give students some freedom. So, you can turn it into whatever you want: like a gaming room, gym area or a cave for entertainment purposes.

       That’s nice. Is there anything else I need to know about this building?

       Yes. Follow me, we need to let the transportation crew do their job. 

They both left the apartment and headed down to the second floor of the building. For a reason he could not figure out yet, Tatsu Jin wandered around what looked like an abandoned shopping mall despite the shelves being full of items. After enjoying the transfer student’s behavior for a while, the chairman finally gave an explanation. 

      Oh sorry! I forgot that this is new to you. Because all students are in classes right now, there is no need for the shopping mall staff to show up. That’s just basic management skills.

       So that’s what it is…

       Yes. The first five floors of this building are dedicated to providing any kind of products and services that students might need in their daily lives. From fresh foods, restaurants, furniture, electronics, entertainment to sports facilities. We are taking good care of our students. We are providing them with a certain amount of money to use every month for that use. Can you cook?

       I can. 

What the Elite Magic Academy’s chairman thought as a joke ended up surprising him. 

       Really?

       Yes.

       You know that is uncommon right? Everyone uses AI nowadays.

      I learned and improved my cooking skills when I was younger.

Tatsu Jin gave his final reply with a cold tone, making his interlocutor understand that this was not a good topic to talk about. So, the chairman quickly changed topics and suggested another visit at the academy’s place dedicated to Offensive Magic training. After a slight nod, they were on the move again with the intention of visiting the Elite Magic Academy’s Training Grounds.

 

Contrary to other buildings, the Training Grounds’ building was built on a single floor, with an extended horizontal shape. Considering the fact that it was dedicated to practices related to potent magic, this was probably a safer decision. The level of destruction coming from powerful Offensive Magic was not to be underestimated. It could probably cause multiple upper floors to collapse after students missing their spells. Even though multiple magic barriers have been put in place, third-year students could still do a bit of damage.

 

On that note, when Tatsu Jin arrived in front of the building, he immediately noticed that part of it was destroyed. Windows, electronic wires, and balconies here and there indeed suffered quite a bit and were still under heavy repairs. Alongside the plain aspect of the building, the transfer student was surprised to see a place like this in such a beautifully designed miniature city. To the new student, the contrast was really enticing and gave the place a mysterious ambiance.

The Elite Magic Academy’s Chairman could not prevent himself from laughing at the sight of his reaction and introduced the context.

       Would you rather keep this place up and tidy or limit the potential of our students? This is kind of a healthy sacrifice, don’t you think?

      How many times have you patched up this place? Isn’t it on the verge of collapse?

      Don’t worry about it too much. We know what we are doing.

Without wasting any more time, they went inside and visited most of the rooms available to all students under a reservation policy. Unfortunately, because of the repair team, some of these were not really ready for visits. Still, Tatsu Jin was able to go through multiple doors, within which were different environments and atmospheres. One led to the reconstitution of a deep forest to work on camouflage and diversion tactics. Another one perfectly recreated the feel of a suburban city, to provide students with a realistic environment for battle.

 

Basically, the Elite Magic Academy provided this place to students so they can practice and hone their skills without it feeling like lessons. Of course, there were also multiple plain rooms, mostly dedicated to group fighting. Jirou Otsuka also used this opportunity to try to explain what the transfer student would be doing in this academy.

     Do you know about the requirements to graduate to Year-2?

       I found a few pieces of information about it online: Sufficient grades in Magic Theory and Magic History classes to not look stupid in front of veteran magicians, mastery over at least two Medium-Class Offensive Magic, and the approval of a Contractor. The website I got this from was lacking information about said Contractors though.

       It’s just another term for master. We want our students to learn from the best, and master-student relationships are always useful in the end. We will be releasing the list of contractors in the near future as it’s not completely ready yet.

       Understood.

A bell rang up announcing 1 PM and the end of the first period, which meant the morning classes. The chairman used this opportunity to propose a classroom visit, which would be empty as students head outside to eat lunch. After five minutes of walking, they were in front of the place which housed all classrooms.

 

The chairman underestimated how much time students needed to pack their stuff and go on their separate ways, so a horde of students was still there. Surrounded by a bunch of students, Tatsu Jin had to deal with a lot of stares and discussions revolving around him.

 

However, while no one dared to speak to him directly, one student had the courage the walk up to him with a smile on her face. She took a simple paper flyer out of her bag, which was a rare occurrence in 2063, and offered it to the transfer student before introducing herself.

       Hello! We are the Academy’s Secret Messengers. If you want a message to be delivered fast without anyone knowing about it, hit us up as we are the way to go for that here. It’s not free of course, but everything you need to know is on this flyer!

       Thanks, I’ll take it. I’m sure it will come in handy someday. You’ve got some courage to do this in front of a crowd.

       You’re welcome and it’s really not that big of a deal. See ya later!

While he had this exchange with a second-year student, the chairman used his charisma and body language to make sure that these students went back to what they were doing before their arrival. In the midst of this wave of people, the new student and the chairman went through the main door of the building and visited the Class-1B classroom, where Tatsu Jin would be attending his classes.

 

Nothing really stood out inside this classroom. Teachers were using a gigantic holographic screen and a desktop GLASS sitting on the front desk to display their course. Students were also provided with the same machine on the left side of their desks to take notes. However, in order for it not to be in everyone’s way, the size of all their holographic displays was heavily reduced. On their way out after finishing this visit, the chairman broke a bad piece of news to Tatsu Jin. 

      We should have been able to visit the stadium facilities, but they are also under renovation for both the ranked matches and the bi-annual tournaments. So, we’ll have to schedule a visit for another day.

     Wait a minute… what are these Ranked Matches?

The astonishment could be seen on his face as he knew nothing at all about these, even with his previous researches. He patiently waited for his interlocutor to give him an explanation. 

       Let me see. How should I break this to you? We have around three hundred students from year one to three, and each one of them, including you, has been attributed a rank depending on their performance during the entrance exam, or previous performance during Ranked Matches.

       What is my rank?

       232. Basically, you will have to face another student every Saturday in order to better your rank. Rewards are given to those who reach the top ten of their promotions, and special gifts are awarded to those who are in the whole Elite Magic Academy’s top ten. I look forward to seeing you crush your competition every Saturday!

       You’ll be surprised… how did I not know about this?

       It’s quite a recent thing… maybe the website you visited was a bit old?

Fortunately for Tatsu Jin, the Elite Magic Academy’s Chairman did not see the astonishment on his face slowly turning to panic. He was able to regain his cool in a few seconds when he remembered that the Elder Sage had made a mention of this so-called top ten. However, he was not expecting it to be an official thing.

 

This was one more obstacle he would have to overcome in order to touch the Arcane Magic. While he had that thought in mind, he decided to remain active in their discussion and asked about details on the bi-annual tournaments. With a sour look on his face, the chairman had a bit of a hard time answering. 

–      I can’t really give out exclusive intel, even for you. We are still figuring things out and it’s going to be great. To make it all worth it, every student needs to get the same amount of information. It would not be fair otherwise. So, I can only tell you what everyone already knows.

       A refresher would be nice.

       The Winter and Spring Tournaments happen in a four-month period each, November through February, and March through June. They each have their own set of rules, but they’re always based on team battles. Details like rules, settings, or awards are left to my discretion to make it entertaining. Sometimes it’s only between students of the same promotion, and other times, the whole student body is involved in a single tournament.

       I see… it’s supposed to prepare us for the cruelty and hard reality of a battlefield.

       That’s indeed the idea.

       And this is on top of Ranked Matches.

       Yes, but we have some leniency regarding planning.

Tatsu Jin and the chairman kept on discussing while walking toward their entry point: the first-year dormitory building. After reaching it, the transfer student asked him a final question. 

       Is there anything else I need to know?

       Now that I think about it, I probably forgot to tell you about many different places, but I’m sure you will figure it out as you go along. Still, there are two important points that just came to mind.

       I’m all ears…

       This is what is considered a boarding academy, where every student solely focuses on learning magic. So, going outside is forbidden without a formal authorization stamped by me or my assistant. But considering your background, I understand that you need some liberty on that. When necessary, come and find me. My door is always open to you.

      And the second one?

      All dormitory buildings mix men and women. So, even though students here range from eighteen to twenty-six years old, try to not make a mess. We will not be responsible for whatever happens.

      As if I’ll try something like this… thanks for the tour though.

      You should have already been sent your planning, and you are expected tomorrow morning at 10 AM in your classroom for your first Magic Theory class.

      Will be there. See you next time. 

Tatsu Jin and Jirou Otsuka parted ways, both with the same feeling: that they were going to see each other a fair amount of time over the next three years. The transfer student admired the well-designed building for five minutes before crossing its main door. Using the program he downloaded earlier, he activated the elevator, which brought him to the twenty-seventh floor.

 

However, before reaching the door of his apartment, he suddenly felt like someone else was observing him in the shadows. Tatsu Jin decided to turn his head toward where he had that feeling, but only saw a stray of short white hair running out of his sight. He tried to run toward it, but there were no traces of anyone whatsoever.

 

Having in his mind the colossal amount of time required to set all the gear that was waiting for him in his apartment, the new student decided to let this incident go.

 

All wooden crates were here, alongside a machine to help transport heavy furniture upstairs. With it, he did not have a hard time moving the majority of crates over to the empty room. Even though, it took him well over six hours to move everything at the right place, check if nothing was missing, and get rid of all of the empty wooden crates. As for organizing, the transfer student figured out that it could wait until after a well-deserved shower.

 

Some think that nothing could be better than a hot shower after a hard day of work, and Tatsu Jin was absolutely not in a position to say otherwise at the moment. He put on a fresh pair of clothes before opening the fridge to find something to cook. He was dying of hunger as his lunch period had been used to visit his future classroom. Sadly, he found it empty, which forced him to order some already pre-made food to be delivered to his apartment.  After eating his dinner, he decided to motivate himself and do some organizing.

 

He started by setting up his desktop holographical machine, which was not a GLASS device. There was something special about the kind of technology he was using. As a matter the fact, he was using twelve-year-old machines, which were considered obsolete by the majority of the population. Then, he connected everything to a massive server storage with a built-in privacy program. This installation resulted in the fact that whatever he would be doing with the desktop holographic machine could not be tracked by anyone. This allowed him to remain in the shadows while keeping all the functionalities he needed available.

 

After all, the Master of All Magic persona was using a ton of different instances on each channel that he was using to contact people. This was the least he needed to do to always be under everyone’s radar.

 

Nonetheless, this was the easy part. What he needed to do now was set up his vault, which would contain a decent part of his arsenal. Especially because he possessed some extremely powerful weapons, he needed a proportional way of keeping them safe and hidden. So, his vault had been equipped with what was considered an inviolable lock, using both mechanical, electrical, and Ether-infused parts. Even him, with all the magic knowledge he possessed, would not be able to open this kind of lock yet. He spent around two hours making the lock work, which was the main downside of this kind of machine.

 

So, he stored inside it multiple sets of enchanted rings, pieces of armors, weapons including daggers, shortsword, and axes, necklaces, and even different kinds of masks. With that, he was finally ready to tackle the remaining part of his belongings, which contained a few of his key possessions.

 

The last thing he did before setting the alarm and going off to bed was to fill his drawers and dressing with regular clothes, and the multiple uniforms of the Elite Magic Academy he had been provided.

 

Crawling off to bed, it didn’t take long for him to fall asleep, mainly due to how tiring his day had been. 

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