I was sure that once I was surrounded by Life Artemis I would feel better. So why am I so nervous?
My hands were sweaty and shaking as I reached out and opened the door. It creaked open loudly. Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing, and looked at me.
I stepped back into the hall and closed the door. How embarrassing! I feel like I’m going to be sick. This is even worse than General Studies. I’m supposed to belong here. If I don’t fit in naturally with this classroom, I’m doomed.
I took a deep breath and reached for the door knob once more, pulled back and took another five or six deep breaths.
“Come on Krism, you can do this,” I whispered to myself. Again I reached for the door, but it opened from the inside.
Standing in front of me was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. I consider myself firmly planted on this side of the fence, but the depths of her eyes made me envy the men in her life.
Her hair was as dark and clean as the night sky, and her eyes sparkled brighter than any star I have ever seen. Her dress was beautifully embroidered with all the trimmings befitting a princess. It cut off at her knees revealing flawless legs. Her Life Rune beautifully cascaded across her right shoulder and appeared to cover parts of her back as well.
“Good Afternoon,” she spoke, and with all the grace and elegance I had expected of her. Her voice was like that of a midnight dream: Smooth and somber.
I didn’t want to break the air between us with my own rustic voice, so I shyly waved.
Neither of us spoke. We stood in silence. Her face remained expressionless and unmoved by my unyielding hopelessness.
“Lilith, when I asked you to greet our new student, I meant for you to do more than only greet her. Please, step aside and allow her into our classroom.” I assume that voice is our instructor.
Another honeyed voice. If being wonderful is the standard for this classroom, then my grades are the least of my concerns.
The moonlight princess in front of me raised her eyebrow slightly as she looked back over her shoulder and spoke.
“I am not to blame for your vague instructions,” Lilith said as she held out a hand, welcoming me into the classroom.
Once again, all eyes were upon me in anticipation as though I might explode at any moment, and I may do just that. The room itself looked like a small concert hall. Half-circular in shape and stepped downwards towards the professor's desk in the center of it all.
The professor herself was a short lady dressed in what I can only describe as adorable. She looked as though someone’s child had decided to suddenly pursue a career in magical education instead of finishing high school. She was so little and cute I just wanted to pick her up and play with her.
“You must be Miss. Lavante,” she said. “Welcome to Life Studies. I am your instructor, Professor Trimny.”
I politely bowed.
“Let’s see… Ah, Seth needs a deskmate. Seth raise your hand,” she said.
Across the room a dark haired boy timidly raised his hand and nervously looked my way. With any luck he’ll be an outcast, just like me! We can break the ice with our mutual fear of the outside world.
As I took my seat we exchanged apprehensive waves and awkward smiles with one another. To anyone else it might look like an icy first meeting, but to the socially inept, this is an extraordinary mutual exchange. I hope my nervousness is as cute as his.
As fate would have it, the old me followed the new me to this school. Despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to care for academics. Not even a little. Which is why when Professor Trimny asked me what Female Life Artemis are commonly referred to as, my response was a quick and steady,
Seth softly coughed as he slid a piece of paper to me, covered by his arm, and on it was the word: Lotus.
“-...Lotus?” I finished.
“Correct!” She beamed.
Wow, look at me. If only my mother could see me right now. Taking advantage of the men in my life to achieve my goals.
With each question asked of me, Seth was ready with the answer, silently tucked beneath his arm for me to see. His contrast to my first deskmate, Alec, was stark. There was no superior arrogance in his eyes when he looked at me, and he quickly looked away on the occasions that our eyes met. His sweet and genuine nature was conveyed to me so easily, and we had yet to even speak to one another.
“Alright Miss. Lavante, last question.” Professor Trimny was doing her best to write in the upper corner of her board as she stood atop a step ladder on her tippy toes.
“What is the base platform that all Life Spells are built on?”
I quickly glanced down at Seth’s note and confidently replied:
“You’re really cute, can we talk after class!?...”
All was quiet, save for the girls snickering behind us. I was acutely aware of what I had just done, but the bashful look on Professor Trimny’s face cemented my suspicion.
Way to go, Krism.
Towards the end of class, Professor Trimny laid a squirrel out across her desk. It smelled like… well it smelled like a dead squirrel I guess.
“Now class, pay close attention to what I’m about to do, I’ll expect you all to be able to do it soon enough,” she said.
She laid a squirrel out on her desk and proceeded to cut open its belly. Ugh. I think I’m gonna be sick. It’s smells like… well it smells like dead squirrel. The poor thing. So dead.
“Now class, if you watch carefully you’ll see this little incision as it’s sewn right up,” Professor Trimny said as she traced her pinky finger along its belly.
As she did this, a faint green light emanated from her finger and small particles of light washed over her table. The hole was quickly closed up as if it had never been there.
“Now, simple cuts like this one are no problem for even a novice life artemis,” she said.
So what does that make me…
“However, more serious injuries require an intricate knowledge of anatomy and medical procedures in order to be replicated magically,” she finished.
I never wanted to be a doctor anyway.
After desperately excusing myself to a puzzled Professor Trimny, I quickly ducked out of the classroom to find Seth waiting for me by the stairwell.
Ok Krism, think cute thoughts. You can do this. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Deep-
“-Hi,” he said to me amid my hyperventilation.
“...Hi.” I said, struggling to look him in the eyes.
“I’m not really good at this sort of thing,” he said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
“Don’t worry. I’m not really good at any sort of thing!” I half-heartedly encouraged.
He smiled at me. Woo, calm down Krism. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Cage the butterflies for now.
“There’s a park not far from here, would you-”
“Like to go study-”
“With me there?”
I was uncontrollably nodding with each word that left his lips.
“Alright, I guess it’s a date then,” He said as he waved goodbye.
A date! I’ve never been on an actual date before! What am I supposed to do? Do I-
“-Ah!” As I rounded the corner of the stairwell I came face to face with Alec. He was leaning against the wall atop the stairs. His usual glare came as no surprise.
“You scared me,” I said.
“I have that effect on people.”
“Can’t imagine why…” I said as I edged my way around him.
“I see you’re already making friends,” he said, seemingly to no one in particular.
“Yep!” I exclaimed. “What’s the matter, Alec? Are you jealous?”
“That’s Professor Caden to you, and not at all,” he said with a sideways wave as he disappeared around the corner.
Professor Caden. As if. Though I wonder what’s the more daunting task: Me helping him to make friends, which is essentially undoing what is clearly years of practice in the art of cynicism, or teaching me basic math and history. Truly we both have our works cut out for us.
After a brief period back in General Studies, which also doubles as homeroom, we were dismissed for the day. I tried to say goodbye to Alec, but when I began to speak he just stared longingly at the dead shrub on professor Evesvyll’s desk. I’ll remember this moment when I look down upon him from the peak of my own victory…
I have no time to dwell on people like him. I have a date to get ready for, after all. I can barely resist skipping all the way to my dorm room. I’ll probably be hit by a bus on my way there, but a girl can hope. My bad luck has to end sometime, right?
As I opened the door to my room, I found it quite unlike the way I had left it.
When I moved in only a few days ago, I was told I would be alone. But now the other bed had a pile of clothes strewn across it, and there were bags all over the floor. Black was the common color amongst all the belongings. I can’t help but conjure up the dreary image of an overly edgy girl with too much makeup.
I could feel a pair of eyes looking at me from behind. I spun around to find Lilith staring at me from within the closet. At least, I thought it was Lilith. Except her hair was blonde now, and her eyes were much brighter. She gazed at me curiously, a timid look of fear telling with the quiver of her lip.
“...Lilith?” I asked.
“Uh… Ch’yea! I am Lilith,” she said.
“You’re not Lilith,” I said.
“I am totally Lilith,”
“If you hadn’t spoke, I might believe that. I don’t even know her and I know she would never say ‘ch’yea.’”
“Lilith would totally say Ch’yea…” she said adamantly.
“You’re speaking in third person now.” I am beginning to sound like Alec. His personality, or lack thereof, is contagious.
“...One sec…” she said as she slowly closed the closet door, hiding herself within.
The moment the door closed, the front door opened and in walked Lilith. The real Lilith. I think…
She looked at me with her signature raised brow. Neither of us spoke. I stood in awe of her grace, and she… well she just stood there.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“I don’t believe so, no.” Even being rejected by her felt pleasant.
After a few seconds of analyzing the pile of clothes strewn across the previously vacant bed, she looked at me once more.
“Is my sister hiding in the closet?” She asked.
Of course they’re sisters.
“Yea, I think so.”
“You sold me out!” Lilith’s sister’s cries were muffled by the closet.
“Come out and clean up this mess,” she demanded.
“It was like that when I got here!”
“Yes that is because you left them this way!” Lilith’s stern expression was very motherly.
Slowly the closet creaked open and Not-Lilith peered out at us.
“My old room was nice and neat. It’s not my fault they made me move,” she whined.
“The disaster area formerly known as your room was neither nice, nor was it neat. I suspect that is why they’re forcing you to live with a roommate.”
Lilith certainly doesn't pull any punches.
Then, in the same moment they both realized that I was still here. They looked at me expectantly, as though this isn’t my room they are invading.
“Uh… Sup?” I said.
“Sup.” Not-Lilith said.
“Hello.” Replied the moon-light princess.
“Soooo…” I’m not really sure if I should introduce myself to this new girl, or if Lilith should handle it. Neither of them seemed eager to accommodate me.
“Right, where are my manners,” Lilith said. “Krism, this is my twin sister-”
“I bet you two have names that rhyme or something, huh?” I asked as I beamed at them. I always wanted a sister.
“-...Triss…” she finished. That doesn’t rhyme at all. What a missed opportunity!
Triss quickly put on a cheeky grin and waved with both hands in front of her face.
“My name is Krism,” I said with a bow.
“Are we in your way?” she asked.
“No… Why would you be?”
“Well, you just seemed like you were in a hurry when you came in,”
...Oh yea… wasn’t there something I-
“Oh my gosh!” my study date thing!
I dashed to my dresser and began throwing clothes all about the room desperately looking for anything to wear.
“...Perhaps you and Krism have more in common than I realized,” Lilith whispered to Triss.
“Sorry! Sorry! I have a date and I’m gonna be late!” I cried.
“A date!?” Triss jumped up from the floor and dashed over to me.
“Oh man what are you gonna wear?” She was ogling all of my clothes as they flew through the air.
“Something that says ‘please love me,’ but like, love me for who I am.”
“And who are you exactly?”
“Whoever he wants me to be, I’m desperate!”
“In that case,” Triss pulled out my shortest pair of short shorts and gave me a big wink. “Flaunt what you’ve got!”
“Pale, hairy legs… That’s what I’ve got…”
“Pants it is! Lilith, go grab your makeup bag!” Triss’s enthusiasm was hard not to appreciate.
And just like that, I think I made friends. I was so worried that today would be terrible, yet here I am with two other girls, getting ready for my first date. I guess… I guess I am kind of happy right now.
In the end, leggings with a mini skirt won out. Lilith Braided my hair while Triss did my makeup and gave me a little white bow to wear. I feel like it’s a bit much, really. Then again, I hope he notices.
My heart was pounding as I walked through the park gate. I tried not to look too lost as I looked around for him.
I found Seth sitting on a bench by a pond. He was smiling at me as he waved me over.
The evening sun was cascading beautifully over the pond and his brown eyes shimmered in the evening light. It was all like something out of a book. I’m so excited.
“...Hello!” I nervously skipped over to him.
“Hi,” he said.
His nervous grin made me feel a little better. At least I’m not the only one.
I’m not sure how close I should sit. There’s room for three people on the bench. Do I sit on the far end? Would that be cold? But the thought of sitting side by side made my cheeks burn.
In the end I sat somewhere in the middle of the two options… Which just made me feel selfish.
He had a sandwich and drink with him, which reminded me I hadn’t eaten since lunch. My stomach started to grumble. How embarrassing. Luckily he didn’t notice.
We sat in silence for a few moments and gazed at the pond. It really was a beautiful venue. I can’t wait to text Ren and tell her about it.
When he finished eating he opened his bag and pulled out a book.
Life Artemis, A Basic Understanding; Vol. I.
He looked at me expectantly.
“Ah… Uh… I forgot to bring my books…” I got so worked up about the date that I completely forgot about the study part of it.
He laughed a little and turned a few pages in his book.
“Do you not find magic very interesting, then?” He asked.
“I wouldn’t say that… It’s just… How do I put it…”
“You don’t want to study something that you’re bad at.” He said.
Ah. Right in my feelings. Though, I guess the truth hurts.
“No matter how hard I try, I can’t use Life Magic,” I said.
“Not even a little?” He asked.
“I struggle putting on band-aids sometimes… Magically healing someone is out of the question.”
He laughed a little, once again. Now he was looking at me, but it felt like he was looking through me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be gawked at, but cmon man, the least you can do is glance at my cleavage!
His eyes brightened up and he quickly began rummaging through his bag again. I peered over his shoulder curiously as he pulled a small sheathed knife out.
“I’ve got an idea,” he said with a touch of enthusiasm.
“It worries me that it involves a knife,”
“Our professor did this today, remember?”
“I remember there was a dead squirrel,” I said.
“Don’t be worried, it’s alright.”
“...Alright, go on.”
My hands shot up and covered my face as he drew the knife and cut across his own hand.
“Krism, it’s ok. Look,” he said.
I peeked with one eye to see it was not, in fact, ok. His hand was trickling blood everywhere.
“I think I’m gonna throw up,” I said.
“Life Artemis don’t have the luxury of being squeamish,” He said. “It’s our duty to heal the injured.”
I was too busy thinking happy thoughts to listen to him. I was about to start hyperventilating.
He reached out with his hand and took my own, holding it above his injured hand.
“Focus Krism. Let the mana flow through you and into my wound. Imagine the wound being sewn up. Visualize the result.”
“Yes you can.”
“Seth… I’m freaking out…. Please. Stop.”
“No, not until I help you.”
Suddenly his grip on my hand became very tight, and he took up his knife again.
“Wh-What are you doing?” I whimpered.
“If not me, then yourself. Maybe you being in danger will trigger something.”
“Please don’t cut me,” I begged.
The knife was pressed against the palm of my hand now.
“Please… No… NO!!” I cried.
He looked up at me. Annoyance was plastered all over his face, but it was suddenly washed away.
He looked like a trapped animal as he looked past me. My eyes followed his gaze. Leaning against a nearby building was Alec.
His face was as expressionless as usual, but there were daggers in his eyes as he stared at Seth.
“I got carried away, I’m sorry.” he said as he put his things away.
“I...I…” I didn’t know what to say… what about our date?
“I need to go,” he said. His kept glancing back to Alec as he spoke.
As he left, Alec disappeared around the corner of the building, too.
And just like that, I was alone. I couldn’t hold back the tears any more.
I don’t understand. What did I do? Did I make him mad?
I can’t ever do anything right. If I wasn’t so hopeless with magic...
“If you keep bawling like that, your makeup is going to start running.”
I looked up to see Alec looming over me from behind the bench.
“....*Sniff*... You noticed my makeup?”
“Jeez you’re easy,” he said as he sat down.
He didn’t even hesitate to sit close to me.
“I almost didn’t recognize you with your hair like that.”
“Triss and Lilith helped me,” I mumbled.
“They wrapped you up like a present, and stuck a bow on top.”
“They got a little excited.”
“Seth always did have a thing for pretty new girls.” Alec said offhandedly.
“Nothing…” Did he just call me pretty?...
He’s right, I really am easy.
The sweet silence was broken as my stomach made itself known again.
Alec looked at me like I was causing him physical pain. How mortifying. Hopefully a car hits me on my way home.
“You can’t focus on more than one thing at a time can you?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you… Too busy walking towards the light.”
“You’re becoming delusional.”
“Tell my mom I died bravely.”
“Dear Krism’s Mother; Your daughter died as she lived. Awkwardly.”Alec dramatically monologued.
I heard a bag being pulled open. I opened my eyes to see him holding a bag of chips and a drink my way.
I took them and held them in my lap.
A moment went by before he looked at me, and cut his eyes.
“You don’t like grape drink,” he said with a sigh.
“I Hate grapes,” I seethed.
He swiped the grape drink from me and handed me his tea.
Neither of us spoke as we snacked. He was doing his usual stoic bit, and I’m still blushing about being told I’m pretty.
“Try not to be pissed at Seth,” Alec suddenly said.
I looked at him curiously.
“We’re not exactly friends, but I’ve known him for years now. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just… Excitable.”
“I never expected you to take up for anyone,” I said.
“I don’t care what’s expected of me.”
“No snappy comeback?” He asked.
“I’ll let it slide this time as thanks for the chips,” I waved the empty bag in front of him like the flag of a conquering nation.
“If you don’t repay me for that tea I’m throwing you in the pond.”
A chill ran up my spine. The mood in the air was light, but the venom in his eyes was dire.
This man is serious about tea.
Alec looked out at the pond. His features softened as he took in the light of the evening sun.
He stood up and walked over to the edge of the pond.
I watched as he knelt down and cut a flower growing within the water.
He returned to the bench, and took his seat.
“Do you know what this is?” He asked me.
“That’s a lotus flower,” I replied. “Don’t look so surprised, I know stuff!”
Granted, I only know because it was on the board today.
“Do you know why they call female Life Artemis Lotus’?” he asked.
I shook my head.
“It’s because, like the lotus, they grow in adversity. This flower had to fight a battle every day just to make it’s way to the surface. Traditionally, in years past, female Life Artemis were used as battlefield doctors. They saw all the horrible pain that men and elves could inflict upon one another. They, like the Lotus, bloomed against all odds.” He explained.
I just stared at him. For the first time, I wasn’t bored to tears by a history lesson. I didn’t expect someone like him to speak in such a captivating way.
“Don’t look so surprised,” He mocked me. “I know things, too.”
“Sorry, what you said was just so deep I almost drowned.”
“Take this seriously or I’m going to punt you.”
“Ok ok. Totally serious now. This is my serious face.”
And then his facade cracked. It was like a mountain had collapsed. He smiled at me. His smile was telling of a silent laugh. And it was at that moment I saw him in a slightly different light. It’s probably stupid in the grand scheme of things, but a boy just laughed at my lame sense of humor.
His smile slowly faded, but the light in his eyes remained as he held the lotus flower between us.
Cupping the bud in both hands, he spoke.
“Take this in your hands, like I have it now.”
I did as I was told, and I felt a spark move from through my body as our fingers briefly touched.
“Now close your eyes.”
I closed my eyes. Apparently a light snack and sideways compliment is all it takes to get me to do what a boy wants.
“Now, Imagine that bulb in your hand is a wisp.”
“... Alec, if I can’t even heal, there’s no way I can summon-”
“-Don’t think about it like that.” He said. “Just imagine a wisp in your hands, and give it a purpose. Anything. Then tell your spirit to make it reality.”
Ok Krism. ‘Believe’ or whatever. Focus on the bulb in your hands. Let your mana flow… ugh… this is pointless….
...Alec silently cradled my hands in his own, and I felt the warmth of his breath as he gently whispered,
“I’ll believe in you for you, for now. You can do it.”
My heart felt like it was going to break out of my chest as he spoke, and the touch of a power I had never felt crept it’s way through my body. I opened my eyes to find a green light cascading around us as my mana flowed into the flower we held together.
The magical energy consumed the flower, and in an instant it was converted into a little ball of white-green light floating in our hands.
The wisp in my hands yawned as if waking up from a long nap.
It smiled a big cheeky smile at me before floating to Alec, and kissing his cheek.
With a wink, the wisp floated away into the sky as I nearly died from embarrassment.
Alec and I looked down in unison, and our eyes met.
“Congratulations Krism, you’re a summoner.”
The evening ended with tears after all, but not like before. Not now. I’ve never been so happy in my entire life.
If you liked it, leave a comment at the bottom, please. I have no way of knowing if people are reading and enjoying any of this otherwise!
Krism, a quirky young Elf, finds herself sent to another country to study magic. Her family name rests on her success there.
But don't hold your breath, because unlike the long line of Life Artemis that came before her, Krism is terribly inept. To this day she has never cast even a single spell.
She quickly finds herself locked in a heated battle of raw stubbornness with the school's prodigy.
He may have intellect, but she has... something! Probably.
It's a long story.