Death Studies are my second favorite part of the day. I tried to suppress my excitement as I opened the door of the classroom. Death mages are notoriously edgy individuals. We can’t show emotions such as eagerness and joy. It’s all about angsty poetry, and sighing excessively so people know we’re depressed.
“Good Afternoon, Touka!” Triss called to me the moment I entered the room.
“Ugh,” I sighed, excessively.
“You look so cute today! I just want to pick you up and raise you as my own.”
“I am a child of the night, the need for parents is a trivial concept,” I explained.
“I think I could be a great mom!” She cried.
I raised an eyebrow.
“I would let you eat ice cream before bed.”
“...I am envious of your future children…” I said with a sniffle.
A dark cloud fell over the classroom as Professor Krux entered. He was the epitome of what it is to be a Death Mage.
He was well dressed, in a black business suit with a neck tie embroidered with skulls. His hair was cut sharply and well kept. For an old guy it was nothing short of destiny that his hair be so beautifully full. He stood with all the confidence of a man who has stared unblinkingly into the eyes of death itself.
“Study for next month's exam,” was all he said as he took his seat and turned away from us.
“Hungover again, professor?” Micah called out to him.
“Would someone please kill that boy for me?” he said with his back to us.
I prepared a toxic blast of mana to unleash on Micah, but Triss knife handed my neck.
“One day you’re going to kill me like that!” I whined as I nearly choked on my own esophagus.
She only winked and began her studies.
After half an hour of mindlessly rereading yesterday's lesson, Triss spoke.
“The new girl is my new roommate.”
“Is that so?” I replied passively as I turned another page.
“Don’t pretend like you aren’t a little curious about her.”
“The thought of what was in todays mystery meat is more intriguing to me than anything to do with the likes of her,” I said. I turned another page just to emphasize how little I cared.
“They made Alec her desk mate, the poor girl.”
I accidentally tore a bit of my page upon hearing that.
“I’m sure it’s no blessing for him either…” I said.
“True, he seems to hate her guts.”
An odd sense of relief flooded my chest.
Alec Caden hates everyone. If someone came along that he didn’t, well.. That could only mean…
“Hopefully they find a way to become friends,” Triss said.
“Hopefully she gets hit by a train,” I whispered.
“I said there’s a bee in your hair.” The ensuing chaos was enough to distract her from what I said.
Everyday I rush to get to homeroom as quickly as possible. I try to get there before anyone else, so that I might enjoy just a few minutes of what it might be like… If Micah weren’t sharing a desk with me…
“Hey Touka,” he said as he peeked his head into the room.
The shy, unsociable recluse we all know as Micah has a soft spot for me.
In the sense that a brain tumor might also be considered a soft spot.
“Remember that stealth robot I was telling you about?” He asked as he took his seat next to me.
“Of course I do,” I cheerily replied, only just masking my utter contempt for him. I’ve found it’s best to humor him.
“Well, It’s finished!” He beamed.
“Really?... Where is it?”
“I have no idea!” He cheered.
“You have all the power of death magic at your fingertips… Why robots?” I asked.
“Well, my mom always told me to make new friends… So I did.”
Some days I can’t tell if Micah is a genius or a complete moron.
Our classmates started to pour in. This is my favorite part of homeroom. Micah doesn’t do well with people. The more crowded it is, the more uneasy he becomes.
Come to think of it… I’m probably the only person at this school he can talk to…
It’s kind of sad… That of all people I had to be the one he imprinted on…
“Touka?” He whispered. “Are you ok?”
“Yes… something inside of me was telling me to be kinder to you… So I killed it.”
When I entered the club room, Kiera and Eva eyeballed me expectantly.
“... ahem… hello club mates.” I said.
“She doesn’t know,” Kiera said.
“She’s clueless,” Eva nodded in agreement.
“Who is the she you are referring to?” I asked.
“You.” Kiera said.
“I am the she? The she is me?” I asked.
“Now I’M starting to get confused,” Eva said.
I have no idea what’s going on.
Kiera waved me over to the table. I approached cautiously. I smell a trap.
“What’s this about?” I asked.
Neither of them looked ready to speak.
“I’ll tell her,” Eva finally said.
“No, I will, I’m the eldest here, it’s my duty.” Kiera eyed me with a look of pity.
“Would one of you please tell me what’s going on!” I yelled.
“It’s about Alec,” Kiera said.
“...What about him?” I feared the worst had happened.
“Well… Yesterday, at the lake…”
“... Don’t tell me he… Did he drown!?”
“What? No! He’s fine.” Kiera was backpedalling.
“Speak woman!” I exclaimed.
“Alec was at the lake with the new girl yesterday, and they had a meal together!” She blurted out.
“... I… I don’t know what to say.”
Eva took my hands in hers.
“It’s ok, Touka, I’m here,” she said.
“I can’t believe this…”
“Oh… the poor thi-”
“Why would I care that he ate with the new girl?” I asked.
Their looks of concern were washed away in an instant.
“Does he not eat every day?” I asked. “And isn’t it also possible that someone might also eat at the same time he does? I don’t understand why this is such a huge issue.”
The two slowly laid their heads on the table, and ignored my questioning while we waited for Alec to arrive.
Alec peered into the room, curiously.
“No ambush today?” He asked me.
“I was feeling generous. Do not grow accustomed to my kindness, Caden.” I replied.
“Is she sick?” He asked Eva.
“-How about you? It’s not like you to talk to people. I thought we were your only friends.” Kiera interrupted.
“If you’re asking about Krism, she’s an assignment, not a friend,” he said.
“An ‘assignment’?” I asked. “Have you been tasked with…” I leaned in and hushed my voice, “killing her?”
“If only it were so easy,” he said. “I have to help her bring her grades up so I can replace her with a plant.” he explained.
“Ah, yes, I see.” I nodded.
I have no idea what he is talking about.
“So, what’s she like?” Eva asked with a sideways look at me.
We all silently waited for him to continue.
“She’s… Incredibly… uneducated…” he said.
“Shame,” I said.
“She’s intelligent, I think… She just has no desire to study anything.” He elaborated.
Eva raised an eyebrow.
“How very unlike you,” She said.
“I hope you can draw your sword as quickly as you draw conclusions,” he said.
“Is that a challenge?” She asked with a grin.
And then the table got flipped and Eva got utterly annihilated. It was wonderful to behold.
That night Eva and I walked home together. I was not pleased about it, but it was nice to have a decoy, should an animal attack us.
The walk itself was quiet. It would have been perfect, had she not constantly been peering at me out of the corner of her eye. What is with those two today, anyway. Am I supposed to be upset about Caden having dinner with Krism?
“Welcome home,” mom called from the kitchen as we came through the door.
“I smell breakfast for dinner, is it so, mother?” I called back.
“Your sniffer is as keen as ever,” she said.
I am pleased.
“How was your day?” Our father asked as he came in after us.
“Touka’s boyfriend got a girlfriend,” Eva said.
“Touka has a boyfriend?” Father asked.
I glared at the two of them.
“Alec Caden is my rival, nothing more,” I growled.
“Sounds to me like Krism is your new rival,” Eva teased.
“No! I don’t care about her! I don’t care about anyone but Alec!” I cried as I ran to my room and slammed the door.
It wasn’t long before I heard a soft tapping at my door.
“Come to beg for my forgiveness?” I asked.
“No… but I am sorry, and I brought food,” Eva replied.
“...You may enter…”
She gently opened the door and sat at my feet. I took the plate from her.
“You may begin groveling,” I said.
“Like I said, none of that. But I am sorry. I shouldn’t tease you like that.”
“Hurs mah felinks y’know,” I said through a mouthful of eggs.
“I know… you’re just really cute when you’re mad.”
“Get out,” I mumbled.
“I ran you a bubble bath,”
“...you may stay if you like…”
She patted my head before going to her own room. I’m not a little girl anymore. The head patting doesn’t woo me like it used to… But I mean… I won’t stop her, either.
I softly crept over to my door and locked it.
I opened my sock drawer and dug through it. I pulled out the photo of all of us from last years swordsmanship competition. Ten other schools from around Ne’Besky and Enaria had sent their best to compete. Of course Caden placed pretty high among them. Kiera didn’t do too badly either. Eva and I were new to the club then. We got slaughtered. Despite our sour expressions, Caden was smiling and patting my head as we all looked at the camera.
His mother took our picture. It was the first time any of us had met her. She was such a warm woman. She had me at, “I brought snacks.”
I’ve never seen Alec smile like that since she died.
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.