Chapter One: Prologue
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Record Keeper’s Note
Main characters, by definition, are vastly endearing. Typically cool or attractive, and resembling a matched set, they are customarily accompanied by several obstacles to overcome, packaged with their past or tied to their future. When a main character lacks essential defining qualities, it is vital for him or her to possess alternate redeeming attributes to connect to the reader. This persists in history as well. In failing to capture the redeeming attributes of its characters, those who lack the passion for history often find the subject uninteresting, its actions inane, causing much of history to be left behind –remaining unappealing, unread, unknown. Undisputed. However, at times the most enthralling tale is Our History.
In this record, I would like to share my most cherished characters with you. It would be untrue to say I am the author of this tale; for as a record keeper, I solely record, sometimes in my own words, sometimes in the words of those who lived it. The people to whom this story belongs, they are very dear to me; but I will allow you to decide as to their true character. For you would decide on your own regardless of my permission or depiction of them. I will tell you what others thought of them, and how they thought of themselves, what they did, and why they did it. When you have finished this account of my most precious record, the First Record, out of all those I have kept, we will discuss your sentiments on history.
Our first setting is on a planet called Earth, at an institute known as high school: a place of learning for those ranging from thirteen-fourteen to seventeen-eighteen, with the occasional odd nineteen year old. As for the time… time is slightly irrelevant. I will introduce the timeline as the story progresses, so please accompany me as we relive time. You are free to reject this request, you don’t even know me. You have that freedom. You can close the book, or get rid of it, or return it… you also have the freedom to read, and I believe you will come to love these characters. I believe you want to know the truth of your world.
Record Keeper of The Eternal Realms
Chapter One: Prologue
Kiyā Awe Rhemst, Key•A, is an intricate senior. Her smile always fits the occasion. She knows what to say, who to placate, and who to avoid. She is loved by all but those who fear her for they cannot use her. She thinks beyond normal terms, refusing to settle for what is already known. Her thoughts are in her eyes, but as few can read them, they are ‘secrets’. Undercurrents of absolute authority exist within her bubbly aura; she is stubborn, headstrong, defiant and always right.
Aly Marine Karbecka is a complex senior. She is a character composed of fractals: successive, delicately organized designs that appear a chaotic mess until viewed at the right distance and angle. Aly appears to be an unsociable, uncaring intellectual, adept in technology and sciences. She excels with particular note in physics and chemistry; ignoring the people around her has inspired the misconception that she is reserved. In truth, she simply selectively reveals her sarcastic nature and playful intuition –highly critical of her application of effort. Through careful evaluation, Aly has deemed the vast majority as an indiscernible mass not worth reacting to.
Jezabellah Rain Evhenost is a simplistic senior. She views the world in a simple fashion: Interesting –good; Boring –bad. She has her own pace and does as she pleases. You could say she can maintain her composure in a crisis, or you could say she is immune to atmosphere. She easily sees through twisted, complicated messes another would over-analyze or miss. A tranquil lake rests within her, resolutely undisturbed. Jezabellah laughs easily, jokes readily, relaxes frequently, reads manga daily, and loves her friends more than herself. There is one person she will follow anywhere, and one person she respects more than anyone.
These three, and one more, do not belong to Earth. They do what they can to bide their time in a world they cannot fully immerse themselves in, yet cannot simply ignore: creating these unique personalities they otherwise would not have worn. In an attempt to incorporate themselves into life on Earth, they organized a club in their freshman year; it was their mother’s idea. Or more specifically, the woman they call mother. Though they were not from it, Sarabeth wanted her adopted children to be involved in this world, her world. She wanted them to do what they could as people, to make the school –the world as far as they could reach- a better place, and so it was decided.
They looked at what they could do with the amount of energy they had to offer, and chose to improve communications. The existing communications were not particularly poor: students knew what clubs existed, clubs advertised events when they wanted to, and parents knew about the same amount as they would at any other school. The clubs and students were doing well. But it could have been more. Students, teachers and parents did not encourage greater inter-actions. Clubs didn’t realize the interest around them, forgoing many opportunities. They did not cooperate between clubs to raise their abilities and events to new levels. This easy satisfaction cut short potential they were unaware of. People who would become great friends, People who would change each other’s lives, People who held a perspective never known to another, passed each other by, well contented with what they had. In a small sphere of color amidst a world of grey, shining in all their glory, unaware, they brilliantly walked past those opportunities for growth and happiness.
The Communications Club is a subdivision of the student council government, suggesting collaborations, overseeing event preparation from planning to set up, and reporting all clubs’ activities to the entire student-parent-teacher body. As the president, Kiyā is responsible for planning events between the school and clubs. Aly is Kiyā’s right hand: the shadow leader ensuring Kiyā is supported and all events are successful with the provided resources. Jezabellah… Jezah is simply present, her specific position never declared, as if obvious from the begin- ning what her job would be.
The club was immensely successful, but one thing differed from their expectations. The club has only ever had three members, and four people. Kiyā, Aly, Jez, and their faculty advisor: the group of four not from Earth. Rumors began to spread, of the new club which could not recruit a fourth member; by their sophomore year, somewhere amidst the rumors and mystique, the term ‘the Sannin’ appeared. ‘San’ for three, ‘nin’ for people. The name seemed to inspire those who used it, inciting a not easily understood excitement.
In their last year, as seniors, the Sannin preside on a multi-lighted stage, casting a different shadow for each group in Gakuen Academy.
Eighth graders from the middle school branch –the up and coming freshmen- idolize the Sannin: elite senior girls, as likely to be speaking Japanese as English. Collected and stylish, they walk beside the equally inspiring teacher without a sign of the love-struck atmosphere that radiates from the school’s female population.
Freshmen wait in select places the Sannin frequent, desiring the courage to speak with them –or the luck to be spoken to or see the accompanying roguish male teacher with the foreign name: Taiyouko Yurishiame. Tie•yo•ko You•ree•she•ah•may
The other remaining three grades are split between the Main Division and the Cultural Division. In the Main Division, Sophomores build their fortresses upon the border, awed to the point of intimidation; unsure if it is possible or wise to close the distance between themselves and these three individuals who have even the well respected Cultural Division teacher attentive to the slightest deviation in their mannerisms.
Main Division juniors are anxious; they work together towards their individual goals. The girls sense the Sannin’s auraric cloaks –alluring beyond earthly charm- captivating the male population; with deep apprehension, they know ‘Taiyouko-chan’ is already entangled. Boys dread being swept up within the folds and having their confession added to the record of rejected, yet fear with their silence Yurishiame-sensei will take the Sannin.
Main Division seniors admire the Sannin’s prowess –from a distance; instinctually and subtly aware these three girls are somehow very different from them. They hold the young, charismatic teacher heading the Cultural Division in high esteem. The males admire the way he reformed the school by instituting the Cultural Division four years ago, and the females admire e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.
Cultural Division students love their founding members and reckless sensei, relishing the mystery of the four and their unknown relationships as if watching a scripted drama. They are keenly aware of Taiyouko’s atmospheric change when the Sannin are involved; rather than commanding them as their teacher and faculty advisor, he holds a devoted servant’s air. His world is clearly made up of the Sannin, and the students don’t know why, nor do they want to know, refusing the four’s offers of explanation in favor of the mystery and their own fantasies.
Sophomores do their best to imitate the Sannin –their ultimate role models- they strive to be observant, to reach out and connect.
Juniors act as the information center –collecting, spreading, and creating rumors about the Sannin to intensify the mystery, then sit back and thrive on their handiwork.
Seniors act as the Communication Club’s manpower, assisting in all club duties while refusing to join. They know the Sannin are different from them; in their words, “They entertain a certain presence, their auras clinging to them as perceptibly as a shadow: an auraric cloak. ‘Auraric’, a noun that became an adjective, a description not recognized as a word is perfect to explain them; around those girls, things that are not, become things that are.” They know it, but like Sarabeth, knowing makes no difference.
Concerning their head teacher Taiyouko, there is nothing the seniors don’t like about him. They adore his attitude, which is far from text-book-teacherly; his dress code, which isn’t respectable at all; and the way he drags every other teacher or person of authority into his pace even when they have more authority than he does.
Teachers –excluding Taiyouko- appreciate the Sannin’s academic repertoire, yet view their intellectual contributions in awed dismay. The Sannin’s input carries beyond the intended discussion depth, drawing the students and teachers into lesser-explored conceptual realms. The dreamed of prodigy. But what can a teacher offer a prodigy with no need for guidance? Not only do the Sannin not need direction, any one of them could simply replace the teachers, and do a much better job –or so the vicious thoughts cycle within the instructors’ heads.
Concerning Taiyouko, teachers have a variety of reactions -as apart from him as the Sannin are from the students. Female employees are as badly ensnared in his charm as their student counterparts, willfully creating reasons to interact with Taiyouko –or ♥Yurishiame-sensei♥- at any opportunity. Taken in by his elegant courtesy, and drawn as if magnetized to his partially unbuttoned shirt and loose hanging tie –whether to toy with it or teasingly reprimand him as an excuse to touch. They fall for his smile and past, or rather, the small portion he chose to share. They find his consistent closeness to the Sannin particularly endearing.
The male employees view Taiyouko with varying degrees of resentment. Despite his unprofessional image, Taiyouko’s classes have the highest performance rate in the school and his Cultural Division students are successful in all endeavors. The female staff were the first to defend his image, quoting the school handbook, “Gakuen Academy supports the freedom to dress comfortably, within the reason that said apparel will not detract from the learning environment.” Clearly it’s not detracting.
In their inferiority, the male staff consider Taiyouko’s relationship with the Sannin unprofessional and unmanly. The only member who can get along with Taiyouko is the P.E. teacher who often mocks the jealousy of the others, and encourages Taiyouko with unrestrained laughter.
The Sannin and their guardian have the ability to instantly rise to the top in the world of Earth, but that’s not who they are. That’s not what they are here for. To the four of them, their entire existence here is unavoidably engaged to pass the time and please the one person on Earth they care to please. Because they belong in a very different world.
But the charade is about to end. Senior year is drawing to a close, and the four are preparing to leave behind the falsities of the last thirteen years, but still they are pleased with their work. Since they had to be here, they used their time productively, leaving their legacy as an inheritance with Kiyā’s chosen successor.
The sun shimmers warmly on the gazebo in the garden; flowers bloom across the late spring air. Kiyā finalizes decorations for the upcoming graduation with representatives from the art clubs. As the meeting concludes, she closes her eyes and leans back, resting her elbows against the table –breathing in the soft air and tasting the blackberry blossoms in the breeze. Only a bright-eyed sophomore from the Cultural Division remains, watching her.
“Your fidgeting is very out of place in this peace,” Kiyā slurs the words out, like a cat reluctant to move from its warm nap. “Do you intend to ask me what is on your mind, or shall we continue this?”
“Senpai, I– I came to ask,” the girl addresses her upperclassman, stuttering at the sudden interaction. It wasn’t really sudden at all though, but it jolted the preoccupied girl.
With a loose smile, Kiyā focuses her gaze, shattering any of the sophomore’s ability to continue past such intense eyes; she’s never seen Kiyā’s eyes this closely –never seen eyes with so much to say. Delight, elation, compassion, affection, yet also, sorrow, longing, loneliness, anguish. Kiyā does not try to convey the painful emotions; she does not try to hide them; she simply lets them be, watching to see how much the girl before her can see. How much would she miss?
Instinctively, the sophomore reaches out to brush Kiyā’s cheek; why is this melancholy so familiar to her eyes? Without connecting, her fingers quickly fall, curling into a fist, unsure how to comfort her senpai. But she’s worth comforting. The younger girl reaches out, taking Kiyā’s hands, “Senpai, is there any way I can help you?”
Focusing on their clasped hands, Kiyā responds, “Keep using the light in your eyes.” The sophomore does not understand, but is not confused, patiently awaiting the explanation. Kiyā’s smile is penetrating; looking up, she continues, “It’s a curse you know, that light. It drives you to seek out the lost and bring them home. Someone once told me, ‘God put it there special, the light that attracts those lost in the darkness.’” Somewhere in those words, an intensity entered Kiyā’s gaze –leaving an imprint upon the girl’s mind, never to fade. “Will you guide this school with your light? And leave it in good hands when the time comes?”
Thrilled shock flits across the girl’s face, there and gone, replaced by regret-tinged admiration. “Who can fill your shoes?” she replies.
Standing, Kiyā releases her, and walks away. “Luckily, you have your own; why fill mine? The answer to your question, ‘just keep going as you are’.” Kiyā doesn’t look back, the wind blowing past her to swirl around the sophomore.
The sophomore gazes after Kiyā– “I never asked you my question.” What do I have to do to be like you? “You really are special, thank you Senpai.” She bows with her palms by her side, expressing her gratitude.
“No.” Aly’s clear word cuts through the sweet air, shearing a path of cold logic to escape on.
“No? Wait, why not!?” The confusion razing the junior boy’s mind can be seen passing back and forth behind his eyes. “You don’t even know me; I deserve a chance! Unless… you have some other guy? An older guy… a senior or… a t-teacher?” The possibilities slip from his unwilling mouth. “Don’t be shy, come on, look at me.” The boy attempts to stay between his target and her escape, focusing on Aly’s void eyes gazing past him –gauging the distance until the end of the corridor.
As previously noted, Aly excels in chemistry. Her teacher deemed her a glorious prodigy whose innovative thoughts he was gifted to hear on the occasions they slipped from her mental archive, muttered on a musing breath. He requested her as his T.A. –which suited Aly: replacing a meaningless elective.
After school, Aly preps the chem. lab for the following morning, and proceeds to take the shortest route to the front of the school: the side door opening into the courtyard. She normally meets Kiyā and Jezabellah at the pond, from which they’ll go to their clubroom or head home.
The courtyard is an ideal lunch spot with a fountain and nice landscaping, lined with dignified pillars. Despite the appealing view, Aly never enters the courtyard, detesting the flocks of students typically rendezvousing there. Instead, she stays on the walkway alongside the building, keeping the dignified pillars between her and the annoyances. Except for today. Today the courtyard is deserted. Or almost so.
A lone student paces half-hidden in the shadow of a dignified pillar. Keldon Adigeport, Main Division third year, class two; a normal junior student with a below average attention span in chemistry, who fails to use provided formulas and reaches incorrect solutions.
Aly locates the information instantly, promptly dismisses it as unimportant, and moves on to the main issue –instinctually knowing trouble is brewing. His stance is sadly familiar; she momentarily berates herself for not turning back before he noticed her. She swiftly scans her options: reenter the building and use the front doors, or keep walking. As straight up rejections generally cause her less trouble than repeatedly avoiding someone, Aly chooses the blunt path. Because Aly is a blunt person.
There was a certain incident, during a faculty meeting; a boy staked out the chemistry lab after repeatedly failing to catch Aly. Unfortunately for him, Kiyā anticipated this –and alerted Taiyouko. With less than no regard to the meeting, Taiyouko positioned himself in an intersecting hall, awaiting his prey. He stepped in when the student resorted to grabbing her. Or rather, attempted to. This attempt failed. Utterly. The boy, partially grasping Taiyouko’s bicep in the hand expecting to be wrapped around Aly’s, asked with his shock-impaired speech, why Mr. Yurishiame was there. Taiyouko gave him a smile, “That’s Yurishiame-sensei to you; a teacher’s job is to protect his students.” Later, the boy swore Taiyouko meant to devour him through that smile.
After this incident, Taiyouko teased Aly incessantly; she became so annoyed she did not speak to him for a week. Ever since then she has more diligently shot confessors on sight, determined to avoid such an embarrassing repetition. But it is a different confession on her mind as she walks alongside the dignified pillars.
While Aly is a master of technology, Kiyā is a master of people. Though she has as many admirers as the rest of the Sannin, there is not an unending pile of rejected confessions at her feet as no one has ever managed to actually confess. Kiyā is perpetually aware of those who want to speak with her, and what it is about; when it suits her, she will simply avoid them or entertain one of the more abstract concepts proliferating her mind. By the time they realize the conversation is over, she is already gone. And they move on. Only one has ever defied this pattern.
No one can find Kiyā when she does not want to be found. Regardless of where she is. The boy who sought Kiyā despite their conversation, found himself unable to locate her between classes or after school. When searching during class, he had always “just missed her” due to some errand or another. Skeptically, he volunteered to deliver paperwork to the Cultural Division’s homeroom, where, to his disbelief, Kiyā was properly in attendance. He burst through the doorway, preparing to dash towards her desk. His preparations were faulty. They did not cover Taiyouko. Kiyā never had to say a word.
As Aly reminisces on their confession history, the junior stands in her path confession raving at the mouth akin to rabies. Without listening, she continues reminiscing.
–Taiyouko appeared at the edge of the ill-fated confessor’s vision, taking it over in a few strides. “Can I help you?” His warm voice drew the attention of the boy trying to look past him.
The student looked up and answered Taiyouko. Or intended to. He opened his mouth but got no farther; stopped by the message in Taiyouko’s eyes: This is my place. Standing between you people and my Sannin. Ore no mono wo sawaruna –Do not touch my possessions.
The boy shut his mouth and offered Taiyouko the papers, leaving without a word. The boy did not return to school the next day, nor the days after. The following week word spread he had unexpectedly transferred.
With the rabid boy before her, Aly keeps her inward mirth in check, lest he take it as a good sign. Hastening things, she swiftly answers, “No,” unsure if her response fits into the monologue she ignored. Confirming the remaining distance until the end of the courtyard, she turns and steps between the dignified pillars into the nice landscaping. The boy stares at her for a moment, it having never occurred to him that she could escape this way; recovering, he lunges forward. Aly pivots, allowing him to crash past her, his momentum roughly colliding with one of the quite dignified pillars.
“Pathetic,” Aly notes, her back to the boy.
“Why are you so cold? I love you,” he wails, still kissing the stone.
“While claiming to love me, you insult my normal behavior, clearly expecting me to become a different person after opening your mouth. You say you deserve a chance because I don’t know you, that is the very reason you don’t. Without ever interacting, not knowing who I am and remaining unknown yourself, you try jumping to a higher relationship?”
Imagining Kiyā’s penetrating disapproval, Aly sighs inwardly; while she speaks the truth, her delivery does not need to demolish the boy before her. “To love someone you have to accept all of who they are, not just a part. Go interact with a girl, learn who she really is, then confess.”
Raising his head, the young man answers, “Definitely. I will get to know you!”
Re-irritated, Aly turns to freezeglare the annoyance; the offender smiles, blood dripping down his face from contact with the dignified pillar.
Blanching, Aly mumbles, “Take care of that!” as she dashes away. His smile widens at what he ignorantly perceives as concern and he heads off to the bathroom. Aly walks to the pond swiftly, her stomach twisting.
“Why his nose?” She feels disturbed just recalling it.
Jezabellah, lounging, as normal, in the willow tree, peers down at Aly. “A little unprepared there, Aly-chan?” she teases, a naughty grin slipping out at Aly’s expense.
“Why not his lip or his eyebrow? It had to be his nose! He could have just cracked his head open!” Aly groans.
“Because he was sticking it where it doesn’t belong,” Jez quips slyly. “Aly encountered a thief aiming for her heart, she fended him off with her glacial majesty, and yet –tragically- the thief made a comeback! Unable to lift her heart, he retreated with her composure –a thief ‘till the end.” Jezabellah narrates Aly’s ‘ordeal’ with unrivaled intensity: fluctuating speed, pitch and volume, granting the simple words life beyond the duration of sound.
“It is utterly disappointing,” she laments, recovering from her narrational bout. “I wanted to watch you fend off such a fiend with my own eyes. A normal man’s loveflames are frozen to the core simply by beholding your ice; it takes a very rare kind of fool to withstand that. And yet, I didn’t get to see it! You, skating atop the pool of love-blinded idiots, the faces of countless morons frosted over just beneath the surface; how long has it been since I have had such entertainment?”
Aly, curled up at the pond’s edge, watching little fish gliding through the water, rolls her eyes, “Thank you for the harassment Jez, it has been my pleasure to entertain you with my misery; I’ll put it on your tab.”
Jezabellah glows, “I love my tab, it’s such a wonderful thing. Onee-san mo daisuki –” I also love my big sister, “–big sisters are wonderful. Tabs can be paid off later and big sisters are generous and love to treat their little sisters. I am blessed with two wonderful big sisters, na Aly-chan?” right Aly-chan?
“You’ll have to ask your eldest sister, I have never been the indulgent type, I see no reason to start now,” Aly replies, a slight crispness returning to her voice.
“Aww, but Kiyā’s still busy; it might not hurt to indulge me every once in a while, you should try it,” Jezah implores, forcefully-recover-Aly’s-disposition-through-trolling mission successful.
“No. It would corrupt my character data. Indulgence is not a part of my image,” Aly shakes her long honey-brown ponytail in rejection, her response stiffened with her normal intellectual air.
“Aly-chan needs a boyshield-boyfriend, like my Dexter, that way you could avoid all those situations that fog up your cool glasses,” Jezabellah chirps. No matter the refined, cool image a person casts, blushing severs any air of detachment, exposing them. Aly has sworn to preserve her character from such demeaning actions at all costs.
Jezabellah’s boyfriend is renowned throughout the school as a man not to be crossed. In her sophomore year, college graduate ‘Dexter Toshiba’ sat in on a P.E. period for each grade, giving a special science lecture concerning the dangers of coming into contact with everyday elements in the wrong manners. For example, being injected with distilled water can seriously harm or even kill.
As he left, it was quite clear Jezah was his girlfriend, causing a sigh of envy from the girls and forcing the guys a step back. What only the Sannin, Taiyouko, and the P.E. teacher know, is the man who came for the lecture goes by the name Sylver, a Gakuen Academy alumnus, childhood friend and former classmate of Taiyouko. ‘Dexter Toshiba’ is the name of Jezabellah’s computer, and Syl participated in the sham with wicked glee.
“I refuse to be drawn into a world of fabricated, flamboyant, fictitious love.” Despite her despairing tone, Aly shared in Syl’s wicked glee; she is simply too self-conscious to survive the spectacle were she to be the center. Enough for her to pull out her glasses and freezeglare the suggestor. Aly loves intrigue, deceptions, schemes, and secrets, but as befitting her position of shadow leader, she restricts her ventures to the contrast at the edge of the spotlight, where it is hardest to see.
“Hai, hai.” Yes, yes, Jez responds, fluttering down the tree like a leaf, she wanders off to unknown destinations, giving Aly some peace –from Jezah.
However, she can’t escape herself. Unrefined anger and disappointment, heavy metals in a base of unidentified emotions, press against Aly’s temples, splashing across her forehead, pooling behind her eyes. There is a constant anger underlying Aly’s being, angry at the things she can’t do, knowing Kiyā will move ahead unhindered –regardless of the consequences.
Faint over a bloody nose? The trauma which created this weakness? Itsuno-manika wasurechatta: without knowing when, I forgot it. Bodies are so susceptible– scarring and dragging us down when we need to end this battle, to erase the battlefield. If only we didn’t need them. A hot, semi-sickly tension lurks in Aly’s stomach, flowing through her insides –the deceptively settled silt stirring up instantly in an ominous cloud. She analyzes these unsettled feelings. Today a snake is slithering through the thick mat of tree debris in a forest, hinting at its presence with sounds of shifting leaves, yet remaining hidden, always seeking for prey. I sense it. Something is going to happen; the presence of the future is steeped in the atmosphere past the point of separation, and I know what it is. But I cannot access that knowledge. I hate this weak shell of mine; I shouldn’t be reduced to this.
The grass rustles as someone lies down, drawing Aly from her analysis. Kiyā watches her tracing the fish. “Aly, you are not incapable.” Her abrupt statement sends a sudden current through Aly, making an outlet to drain away the tumultuous churning liquid. “Remember, Aly must be Aly,” there is an undebatable firmness in Kiyā’s voice, clearly setting Aly straight from her twisted self-berating. “I can already do the things I can do. I need you to have talents I don’t have, to do the things I cannot do. The things which are harder for me to do. There is no need to fear the snakes on the forest floor. Ne,” hey, “Aly, let’s go home.”
Aly raises an eyebrow at Kiyā’s cheerful invite, always so concerned about others even when she is suffering the most. She needs to be put back in her place a little. Standing, Aly takes a step over and offers Kiyā a hand up; gently placing her hands on Kiyā’s shoulders she pushes her sharply into the pond. Wiping the water splashes from her glasses with an arrogant flick, she reequips them with a cool, dignified air, walking away to the sound of Kiyā’s laughter.
Kiyā continues laughing, sitting on the bottom of the shallow pond, knees up and hands back, braced against the smooth sand, looking up at the spring sky, ready to finally go home.
“Che, Aly-nee always plays with Kiyā-nee, but never with me.” Jezah sulks mildly, idly kicking her feet as she sits atop the wall encircling the roof, staring down at her friends, minorly jealous of the way Aly introduced Kiyā to the pond. Jezabellah’s world slows, assimilating an outline for the future based on Kiyā’s words in the forsythia arch.
The tall forsythia shrubs have been carefully cultivated to form a long, narrow tunnel running from the school gates to a stone semicircle at the front doors. The hundred or so feet of vivid yellow flowers conducts incoming students, directs guests, and sends off those moving on in the world. Inside it seems like another world.
“Onee-sama♥,” my respected sister, “I have a tab to be paid,” Jez speaks softly, as Kiyā’s aura demands, and takes one step out of the arch, having placed her order, but Kiyā steps forward until her shoulder touches Jezabellah’s.
They stand so close they cannot see each other, halfway in and halfway out of the arch –the border of two worlds. Gazing past Kiyā, Jezah sees a Cultural Division sophomore straightening from a bow and leaving the gazebo in the garden; gazing beyond Jez, Kiyā sees Aly, fixated on the fish while in deep self-reflection.
“The plan is changing.”
“Ehh?” Jezah’s eyes widen, a grin tearing across her face.
“The new future is at a state of indecision. I don’t know if there will be time to regroup.”
A thick peace mists over Jezabellah’s countenance, “Then we can go home. Toren-chan, Yuri-chan, Amer-chan, Suya-kun; we can see them again. Ne Kiyā, let’s go. Go, go, go and beat this war! We can find our parents, everyone will actually be together, and I’ll kidnap Syl. I’ll take him home and laze around until I forget what it means to be human; I’ll enjoy the rest of my life as a cat. Just lounging around in the sun or the shade, having Syl rub my belly and compliment me; I would be one of those tuxedo cats, the long haired kind, with white paws.” Jezah’s mind wanders, taking to this new idea.
With a smile at Jezabellah’s unchanging nature, Kiyā walks out of the arch towards Aly’s curled up figure. Jez stares at the bright yellow forsythia gathering up the warmth of the sun, storing it as vivid color to transfer that warmth to another; she abruptly leaves the arch in a very unJez-like manner, heading swiftly and directly to the roof.
From the roof, Jezah watches Kiyā sitting in the pond –alone now. Hop- ping down, she stands in the wind, letting it tease her short dark hair about her face.
Home. I miss that house. Those times we were all together laughing. We’ll get them back; and give them to the ones who haven’t seen such days yet. Lead the way Kiyā, wherever you go, I will follow. These past thirteen years we’ve gained the strength to follow any path you create, trained until we can win any fight in any situation. The planning, waiting and blending in are finally over. Sighing, Jezabellah falls back, sprawled on the roof, watching the trees sway.
Kiyā sits in the calming water, knowing that to stand up and step onto the land is to declare her intentions and set off on the path she has chosen. Existence waits to know her will; yet she cannot step forward. She cannot move.
Dang, of all times you choose now to stop moving? With everything I’ve done before, why give out on me now? Kiyā struggles to move her body, but other than slight tremors, her muscles do not respond.
Gosh, bodies are too easily swayed by pain and exhaustion. Between everything Outside and my scrying, I might have been too hard on this one lately.
Realizing the futility of fighting her broken body, Kiyā switches tactics. Thank you for cooperating with us, God of this host. The time for us to make good on our promise has come; we will obtain a future where no one is lost. So hold this shell together for just a little while more.
The severe weight preventing Kiyā’s movements recedes. Ten minutes after Aly pushed her into the pond, she finally, with much dripping and general watering of the grass, heads for the clubroom.
At the school doors, exiting the building in a similar condition, is Taiyouko. Kiyā just nods in understanding, surveying the telltale signs of his dripping hair and wet shirt. A wordless conversation ensues –the two understanding what is on its way. Taiyouko reaches out and pulls Kiyā into a fierce hug, which she reciprocates. She stands on tiptoes to leave a kiss on his cheek and continues into the building; the two accepting this outcome.
She walks through the halls and up the stairs. For the sake of the room she has treasured for the last four years, she enters with a smile and unwavering eyes. Beside her desk is a conspicuous wet spot on the carpet, clearly associated with Taiyouko; sitting down, she glances over documents –the Sannin’s humorous and silly remarks written in the margins, between the lines and over the text. She runs a finger over these comments and sighs away her last bit of reluctance, turning her eyes to the wall opposite her where a beautiful oval mirror hangs, set to reflect the scenery from the window behind her. Etched in silver designs with frost accents, and frost designs with silvery accents, a magical affair altogether, it reflects whatever is before it, beyond what a normal mirror can. Today it reflects an unexpected visitor. Or rather, a visitor who is not expecting to be expected.
Kiyā reaches under the desk and pulls out a backpack with durable sleeves instead of straps. “You can come in now,” she addresses the window, “you have at least three minutes; don’t worry about stealth or struggles.” As she speaks, the curtains shift and a Tainted being slips in from the third story window. He is tall and young, wearing a full length coat. He looks very different from your average tanigh, the Tainted beings who have ravaged the Forsythians –Kiyā’s people- since long before the current conflict. He does not even resemble a deyaeir, with their ability to blend in as normal Forsythians. Kiyā once described him to me as, “A young man covered in a shroud of darkness; untainted underneath.”
The sunlight falling through the window plays out in shafts, dancing upon the man, making his soft orange hair gleam. His lively orange eyes, burned black and merciless with insatiable hunger, don’t match the warm orange of his hair. He stands behind Kiyā’s chair warily, ready to move but not planning to. “What have you arranged?” he asks in bemused curiosity –this girl, so different from his expectations, so unlike the last two Bewakers he encountered, is somehow able to distract him from the hunger. “What do you intend with such a pack?”
Kiyā’s dark brown hair, colored black from excess water, drips onto the desk. The drops burst on impact, splashing the documents. “The two of us are going to your home.”
Deep displeasure parades upon his face at the mention of his ‘home’. “Return home?” he asks sarcastically. “To die? Or to wish you were dead? You’ve stayed hidden for thirteen years, why stop running now? You know His plans for you. Yet you desire to return anyway?” he spits out the pronoun, his distaste for the man it belongs to clear. “Why did you have a pack ready? You aren’t resigning to your fate… are you attempting to switch sides?” his voice grows softer as he continues, wondering to himself more than asking, “To escape the hopes placed upon you? Have you come to hate those who depend on you?” his forlorn aura displays his inner conflict.
“I am neither forsaking hopes nor defecting,” Kiyā lets the force of her gaze forge a path into the eyes of the man before her –and behind her. “Going to your home is fighting. It might not be according to my original timing, but I am acting according to my own designs which do not end in destruction or living death.”
Conversing through the mirror, her declaration cuts free a strip of orange from his insatiable eyes, and hope? nestles there, safe from the black. He senses movement in two presences on the roof –magical presences- half his three minutes have passed. Walking around the desk to stand before Kiyā, he extends his hand. “Kyo,” he says simply.
She takes his hand. “Kiyā.”
“Do you intend to fight the Miento alone? Are your preparations and plans beyond what the past generation has done? Yurishiame’s Ryoko-sha has been fighting for a quarter century, you, his child, are their greatest key.” Questions Kyo never thought would come to his lips spring out.
“Daijoubu,” it’s all right, Kiyā answers; an answer Kyo cannot believe.
Pulling two metal bands engraved with ageless symbols from an inner pocket of his coat, he slips one onto his own finger, preparing to place the other on Kiyā’s. His eyes flick towards the door as he senses the presences from the roof have almost reached them. He hesitates –should he engage them?
Kiyā takes the ring from him, slipping it on herself, “Let’s go, Kyo.”
Kyo finds himself caught in her gaze. A thud resounds from outside the clubroom.
The concept of phasing exists around you, but myths and rumors have corrupted the information, so I will clarify while trying to keep the complexities brief and understandable.
Scientists have proven no two objects ever really touch; separated by an incredibly minute distance between every atom. However, there is a way for objects to exist in the same place, whilst never touching. Radio waves are a simple example; multiple waves can be in the same place without interfering because they have different wavelengths. They vibrate at different frequencies. Worlds work the same way. Within the atoms composing everything in existence are minute, vibrating strings, separating worlds by the slightest difference in frequency.
In theory, if you change the frequency of your strings, you move to another world, but to obtain that much control over your body is ‘impossible’ from a magicless standpoint. Yet impossible things are done on a regular basis. The most difficult part of phasing is the awareness needed to completely sync every string in every atom of your body and change them at the same time, the solution is quite simple; a mineral called azeshio.
Azeshio is a translucent white stone with opalescent hues found on Forsythia; while there is no documentation concerning how many planets have azeshio on them, it is certain that Earths do not. Azeshio generates an unseen aura which seeps into everything around; it spreads throughout the body, saturating each string, greatly enhancing one’s ability to synchronize body to will, overcoming phasing’s greatest impediment. Furthermore, azeshio is the key mineral to activating certain dormant genes which affect areas of the brain that cannot otherwise reach their full potential. The abilities granted from azeshio have come to be called magic.
Phasing is, of course, a form of magic, one normally conducted alone as it is difficult for one person to account for another’s frequency. But not all people can phase, thus a few tools exist for joint-phasing. Phase rings are made from an alloy of azeshio-imbued metals, set with Ancient runes of Tagging. A tagged person’s frequency will follow the tagger through phasing, automatically adjusting to match the leader.
But which frequency do you change to? Phasing, like all other reactions, requires a specific amount of energy to initiate, without that level, nothing will occur. In phasing, this level is known as Phase Point; upon reaching Phase Point you no longer retain your previous frequency, you have left that world, but you have not yet switched to a new one. Whichever frequency you change to, there will always be a moment of in-between, in that moment you enter the Phase Legend.
The Phase Legend: the deciphering key, for the largest, most intricate map in existence. It is not a world like a planet is; rather it is a dimension touching every world. Some call the Phase Legend ‘God’s walkway’, saying from this hall God observes every place of every planet.
The Phase Legend is an endless hallway, curving ever so slightly, just wide enough to put a palm on each of the white walls with their faint blue glow. There is no visible ceiling. The walls extend with no apparent end in any direction. The floor is made of a substance that is firm, yet soft to the touch, stretching out like a web, yet even the holes can be stood upon. Everything the same pristine white, edged in blue. Numberless screen-like images hang on the walls in orderly rows; scrolling up or down changes the frequency –therefore it changes which world you view. Scrolling left or right, reveals different places on the same frequency.
The Phase Legend is rather simple to use, yet people can use things without understanding them. No matter how long researchers study it, without knowing the mysteries of The Eternal Realms, they will never fully understand it. For now, you should be able to understand by simply knowing that people enter the Phase Legend from the left wall and exit to the right. You cannot exit from the left. Ever. The left wall is also covered in screens; everyone instinctively keeps to the right.
Normally, entering the Phase Legend is seamless, especially with an experienced phaser. Not this time. As Kyo amasses energy, a crashing wind rushes into the clubroom, forcing the windows open, cracking them against the walls, scattering papers about unconcernedly. As Kyo reaches Phase Point, the wind circles the room in a roar, pulling the door open with the force of its rampage. Without even registering the Phase Legend walls, they are pulled through a screen. Before Kyo chooses the destination.
Steam. Hot, wet, blinding. Rather than saying the air is full of steam, all the air in the vicinity is steam –hot, wet and blinding. The muffled sounds of steam escaping from cracks in the earth echo on the unseen stone filling the area. Kyo’s eyes are a clouded dirt-orange, the hungry black disrupted by the confusion beading his face in the condensed steam. “Where … are we?”
Rye•are. The thin, purple haired girl holds her crouch so perfectly a casual scan of the surrounding forest does not reveal her presence. She presses one fist between her feet, into the bark of the large branch she balances on. Her eyes widen as she senses the bird that has not yet appeared. She brings her free hand up to her collarbone expectantly, thin crisscrossed chains and a single ring glint on her fingers.
Yurishiame, or Josyf?
As she wonders, a small white bird –with the lightest purple tinge flourishing along the underside of its wings and blushing across its throat- steps out from her short hair onto the waiting hand. The girl raises her ringed finger and the bird leans forward; a single silver spark flows from beak to ring. She runs a finger over the bird’s head in thanks.
Closing her fist, she thrusts her hand forward and extends her fingers, allowing the spark to shoot into the air a few feet above her, exploding into a small shower. The silver dust composes itself into the miniature figure of Taiyouko standing on the back of her extended hand. Kiyā? Her eyes widen in surprise.
The image begins delivering the recorded message.
“Ryar, the Miento has made his move; he sent Kyo after Kiyā and she captured him, removing them from our plans. We’ll return from Earth tomorrow after school; you are to wait at the Palace on standby. Aly and Jez will be ready to leave upon arrival. Emrod’s group can leave at any time. You have tonight for farewells.”
As the figure dissipates, a teenage girl appears beside Ryar on the limb, “Did something bad happen?” she asks, mild urgency leaking into her tone. Her dark brown hair is tightly braided up her skull and fastened into two, unbraided buns atop her head, her short bangs are gently swept to the side.
“No. I’ll replay it for everyone,” Ryar responds. She launches away from the branch, traversing the forest at an incredible pace. A portion of her innate speed comes from moving all at once. When she moves there is absolutely no hesitation. Not a millimeter of fidgeting, creating the slight illusion of being a little faster than she actually is.
They stop at a clearing, surprising the other occupants. “Oh? Back so soon? You didn’t actually catch Ryar did you?” a girl whose long brown hair is tucked up at the back of her head in a large, poofy bundle asks, her longer strands of bangs sway beside her face as she looks between the two eagerly.
“No, I noticed Silverain arriving, so the exercise ended early,” the orderly-haired girl beside Ryar replies.
“What’s the situation?” A fiery-eyed girl forces her tone to be casual, but the demand is contained within her eyes and their deep-set resolve. Her dark red hair has orange hints in it; her face screams no nonsense with the way her dyed white-blond bangs are pulled back along the top of her head while the rest of her hair hangs freely, blonded tips swaying pointedly.
“A message?” Emrod, swiftly asks, diffusing things.
“Nii-sama, it came from Taiyouko,” Ryar respectfully addresses her older brother, thrusting out her hand to replay the message.
That night, Ryar and Emrod sit next to a fire, secluded on one of the various zones in Anzen. Ryar gently leans against her brother, one of the only ways she can still show her affection.
“We’ll probably leave the day after tomorrow then; the girls are already quite ready,” Emrod muses. “I’ll contact you before we reach Fortissimo,” he pulls her closer, the locks of his long dark hair, remaining loose despite having the majority of it tied back, mingle with Ryar’s light purple.
“Take your time,” she murmurs, the fiery eyed girl flashing to her mind, “I left something for her. Don’t leave until she can use it.”
“Hey, you are going to properly say goodbye, right?” Emrod questions, knowing it will be over a year before they see each other again.
Ryar lets out a rare smile, “We wouldn’t know what to do. This is a goodbye she will like.”