Carl sighed deeply. This is the worst. What the actual heck's going on?
Magic Theory had ended, and it had gone exactly the way the course had gone yesterday, save for fewer interruptions as Carl hadn't needed to ask any questions. Out of the rest of the class, however, the same people had asked the same questions, and the exact same material had been covered. All of it was leading him to a single conclusion.
This is a total waste of time. At least while I was learning about magic it was interesting, but now… He'd taken in the rest of the people in the classroom, but they were all way younger than him, and it wasn't like he could relate to them or vice versa. He didn't even know anyone's name. There was no real attachment there, that was for sure. It wasn't like that weird starter city, where he'd met memorable people like Percevale and Rosa, or the gladiator city, where he'd met that smith guy and done all kinds of fun stuff with Vol.
Here, it was like once the magic stopped, the magic stopped.
Ir'alith was sitting through the current lesson—taught by the old knitting lady—with an expression of very mild interest. He assumed she knew how to do everything that was being described way better than the lady teaching Elemental Manipulation now. Having forlornly skimmed through his notes from back when things were interesting, he'd seen mention of someone who claimed to be able to stand on a platform of wind for a little while. A little while? Hadn't Ir'alith made air-seatbelts, and floated the car when he crashed, and then also significantly upgraded the car? And didn't she make portals and do illusion magic? She was probably having a great time laughing at how dumb the class was.
Rebecca was there next to him like usual, but she was very clearly distracted, trying to lend him moral support by squeezing his hand after he'd expressed how disappointed he was with everything in the second class. He sort of appreciated the concern she was showing, even if it was maybe a bit too touchy-feely for him, but he also thought it was weird that she wasn't noticing how repetitive this all was. Then again, she didn't seem to be focusing as much on the lesson today, so maybe that was the reason for it.
He'd given up trying to figure out what was going on. Ir'alith hadn't been here yesterday so she wasn't likely to be able to weigh in on the matter, and Rebecca seemed like she was going along with whatever he said to make him feel better, which was a nice change but not really what he needed right now. He was sure she remembered yesterday, but he was also sure that nobody else did, having asked the kid he'd startled with the rock in this very class about it and received a confused look. Definitely not the kind of thing anyone would forget.
Gotta be some bug with the time scaling. Rebecca and I—and maybe Ir'alith—are caught in some kinda loop. Like a rerun. Or one of those time travel movies. Roger, I hate to blame you with how cool everything else is, but it's really seeming like your super secret tech is causing a lot of problems.
He frowned as the teacher droned on—possibly even having the Drone class, now that he thought about it—about metal shapes and densities. Well, at least I know Vol's not stuck in it. Got that coffee today. I'm sure she'll burst in any second now…
His eyes moved towards the door, but it remained closed, and the old lady kept rambling on, spending like fifteen minutes justifying why stuff that seemed like it could be done actually couldn't, which seemed like an awful waste of time to appease the maybe one or two people who actually cared in comparison to everyone else, who probably just wanted her to get on with talking about other stuff, except she wouldn't, and she just kept going on, and on, and on, and it was almost like she didn't know how to stop, he felt at a couple points, but then, mercifully, she did—though only for the length of time required to draw in a breath before she continued onwards like a runaway freight train that had not only lost its conductor, but wasn't even a train and was just a stupid, too-commonly-used metaphor for something that wouldn't freaking stop.
Just wanna get this over with now and get on with my life. Ugh, game's such a hassle today. Not even sure how satisfying it's gonna be anymore to get resolution on this after everything I've had to sit through here.
Seconds passed, and still the door remained closed.
His frown deepened, and he focused his entire being on the door. Vol, c'mon. We had that great joke going about me being a side character, so how about you act like a freaking main ch—
The door burst open, and Vol walked in.
"Vol!" Carl stood up and raised his hands in excitement as he shouted her name, a grin instantly spreading across his face.
"Fuck, there you are," she called, wearing a matching grin. "Got a little distrac—"
"Excuse me," the teacher interrupted, "I'm in the middle of teaching ab—"
"Yeah, looks boring," Vol said without looking over. She beckoned. "We're leaving. Let's go."
Carl was already out of his seat and on his way to the door. "Ugh, that was awful," he said as he passed through the door his friend was standing by.
"Yeah?" she said, seeming amused.
"Yup," he said. He began stretching his legs now that he was in the hall and not crammed into one of the uncomfortable desks, which was something nobody ever seemed to mention in these contexts.
"Greetings, Vol," Ir'alith said as she followed next through the door.
"Hey, we're still gonna hang out tomorrow, right?" Vol said, seeming to be checking out the taller woman's dress.
"I would enjoy such a thing," Ir'alith said, smiling a smile that showed a lot of pointy, well-designed teeth.
Rebecca came out after another few seconds, her eyes fixed on Vol, and stood a little behind him.
"Oh. Uh, Vol, this is my sister-in-law Rebecca. Rebecca, this is Vol, one of my best friends," he said by way of introduction.
"One of?" Vol said. Then she shrugged. "Eh. What're we doing while we hang out? Actually, what were you doing in there?"
"Will you shut the door?" the teacher inside shouted in a very annoyed tone.
"Urgh, so fucking annoying," Vol said. She flicked her finger, and a massive gust of wind roared through the hall, slamming the watery door shut with a loud splash and cracking the wall around it with the force.
"Thought you said you couldn't use magic?" Carl said, staring suspiciously at her.
"I can't," Vol said.
"Vol does not possess aptitude for magic," Ir'alith said. "This was a physical force which disturbed the wind."
"Uh, yeah, something like that," Vol said. "So what's with the schoolhouse?" she asked again, gesturing to the now-very-closed door.
"Was just killing time while I waited for you to show up," Carl said. "What the heck—Where were you anyway? Had to wait like, a whole freaking day." Was expecting to just log in for an hour at most.
"Uh, yeah, sorry," Vol said, casting her gaze down awkwardly. "Sort of got distracted. Maybe more than once. She can be really distracting though."
"How did you become so distracted, Vol?" Ir'alith asked. "Was it some form of contest? A battle?"
"Uh, nah, it's… Yeah, don't worry about it," Vol said, trying to wave the question away. "Actually, let's go… I think there's a place to sit on the ninetieth floor? We can talk a little there before we really start hanging out."
"Sounds good," Carl said, not even feeling surprised when their surroundings changed before he'd finished speaking. They were now in a small, carpeted lounge with a dozen or so empty, cushion-y chairs.
But then he remembered something important. "Inventory." He took out his recliner, setting it across from Vol, who had just set down her own recliner, and gave her a knowing grin that she returned. He set the other two recliners down to form a square, with Vol kicking the other chairs out of the way and through a wall—probably a fine, normal thing to do since it was Vol—and then dismissed the window.
Vol let out a moan as she flopped into her chair. "So fucking good," she muttered.
"Hnnggg," Carl managed as he settled into his recliner. Forgot how freaking awesome these things are.
"This is a comfortable seat," Ir'alith remarked, having taken the chair next to him and sat on the edge of its cushion without reclining—not that he had anything against people who sat in recliners and didn't recline, of course, though he did feel that it was a waste of this recliner's Recliner Potential in this specific case with how freaking awesome it was.
Carl glanced up, spotting Rebecca standing where they'd arrived. "Take a load off," he said, gesturing to the empty chair next to Vol.
Rebecca hesitated, then slowly walked to the chair and sat on it, seeming unusually stiff and awkward compared to how relaxed she'd been up until recently.
"Alright, so, uh, Vol, you're super into all this tech stuff, maybe you know," Carl began, feeling like if there was anyone in the world besides Roger he could talk about time scaling with—since he now recalled that he'd actually talked to her about it once before, in fact—it was probably Vol. "What the heck's going on with the time scaling here?"
"Time scaling?" Ir'alith said.
"Yeah, uh," Carl scratched his beard. "Well, we got here yesterday, and we went to a bunch of these classes—because I was trying to find something to do while I waited, and Rebecca suggested it—and it was pretty cool. Lot of good info, even if maybe it wasn't that accurate," he said in acknowledgment of Ir'alith's earlier comment. "But today it was wei—"
"I'm feeling a little sick," Rebecca said, rising from her chair. "I'll be in my room." She walked at a decidedly fast pace out of the lounge and then out of view in the hallway beyond.
"Huh," Vol said as she watched the departure.
"Strange," Ir'alith said.
"Yeah, maybe she's just feeling awkward since she's kinda outside the group, if you know what I mean," Carl said. I'll go check on her in a bit before I log out. Probably just a social thing.
"Maybe?" Vol said.
"Anyway, uh, where was I? Right," Carl continued, having momentarily had his thoughts disrupted, "so today was weird. We got up—and I got your coffee, by the way, it's so freaking good—"
"—but then we started going to the classes, and they were exactly the same as yesterday's," he said. "I mean, exactly. Like, the exact same wording, the same people asking questions, it was…" He leaned forward a little in his recliner—by which he meant that he just leaned his head forward because there was no freaking way he was about to get up with how comfortable he was—and gave her a look. "Could it… I mean, could this be like, a wide-scale bug with the time scaling? You know about this stuff, right?"
"Huh," Vol said. She began to rub her forehead. "Time… So you do know about that?" She seemed confused. "But you're saying everyone's repeating the previous day. Huh. Weird."
"I have never heard of such a thing," Ir'alith remarked.
"I'm gonna…" Vol blinked. "Huh. So, uh, it's fucking weirder than that. There's a bunch of guys…" She grimaced. "Eh, maybe. Bunch of elves—said they were dark elves, probably from how dark it was down there—under the tower. There's one of those fucking Char idiots with them too. Some big magic thing going on. Something about, uh…" She tilted her head. "Yeah, it was a boring thing. Anyway, they're down there magicking things, and it's making everyone in the tower repeat the same day over and over."
Carl's face screwed up as he tried to parse any part of what she'd just said. "What?" he finally said as his brain gave up. How is she always this freaking bad at explaining stuff?
"Not a time thing," Vol said. "Just a people thing. Doesn't affect people who're strong enough, so it's fine." She shrugged and pulled a big, juicy-looking cut of meat out of her inventory and began to chomp on it. "Not gonna let it interf—"
"Vol, you speak of elves beneath this tower?" Ir'alith interrupted, now leaning forward in her chair.
"Yeah. Some vengeance against humans thing."
Is this some kinda faction war? What the heck…
"I will speak with them," Ir'alith said as she stood up. "Offer them sanctuary if they desire it."
"Uh, okay?" Vol said between bites. "Still hanging out tomorrow though?"
"Yes," Ir'alith said with a grin. "We will hang out tomorrow, my friend." She turned to Carl. "I will return soon, but if you have traveled elsewhere for hanging out, then until we meet again." She waved, and a purple-ringed portal appeared under her feet that she descended into.
"See you later," Carl called, giving her a wave in return.
The purple-ringed portal disappeared, and then it was just the two of them in their recliners.
Kinda takes me back. We spent a lot of time like this in Mina's workshop shooting the breeze.
"Well, what're we gonna do now?" Vol asked.
"What'd you mean about these elves making people repeat their days?" Carl asked.
"Some magic shit," she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. "Don't worry about it."
"I'm not worried, but how's that even…" He stopped when he realized the conversation had crash-landed into the rear of the questions he needed answers to. "Actually, I gotta ask, how the heck did you do that this morning?"
"You know, when you fixed everything for me at the office."
"Uh…" Vol tilted her head in and most of her torso over the side of her chair in puzzlement. "Oh. Right. Yeah, uh, sorry, like I said, been really fucking distracted. Office thing. What… It was just computer knowledge and electrical knowledge. More surprised you couldn't do it. Didn't you say it was your job?"
Carl frowned. "Er, well, yeah, it is my job, which is why I wanna know exactly how you did it. Because I don't… I mean, you fixed that whole thing in under a freaking minute, Vol," he said, getting a little excited as he recalled how amazing it had felt in that exact moment to not have the stupid Gary thing hanging over him anymore. "I don't know if you just think that's normal or something, but… I don't even have a good way to describe how amazing it is other than to say I've got some headcount open, and if you want a job, you're hired."
"Hired, huh," Vol said. "A job. I'd get paid?"
"Mm. Could be interesting. Be really fucking human to have a job."
"Uh, yeah, I guess it would? But how'd you do it? You gotta tell me. Or can you give me a demo somehow?"
"Well, it's not like I can just do it again now?" Vol said, her face scrunching up in confusion. "I already fixed it. And it's… Not really something I can show anyway. Probably. And you know how bad I am at explaining shit—"
"Well you gotta try. C'mon, Vol."
"Okay, okay." Vol pressed a hand to her forehead. "So computer shit. There's… Uh…" She grimaced like she was in pain. "Okay, how about this," she said, sitting up the smallest amount. "Give me five minutes." She held up her hand. "I'm not gonna get distracted this time. Five minutes, and then I'll try and explain this computer shit."
"I guess?" Carl said. What's so hard about it? Can't she just give me an overview? It's killing me not to know.
"We're gonna start hanging out afterwards though," Vol said. She wagged a finger at him. "Better be ready."
"I'm ready, but I gotta know how you did that," he pressed.
"I'm gonna…" Vol disappeared. One second she was there, then she wasn't, which was almost exactly what it had seemed like she'd done the night before when she'd disappeared after Sammy's game.
First and foremost, I want to thank everyone who read up until this point! I am absolutely astounded by how much attention this story gained. I'm still used to receiving 5-10 followers on a chapter's release lol.
This story meant a lot to me since it was one of those stories I had since the 8th grade (chuunibyou, anyone?), and I'm sure many readers have their own story that they think others would one day enjoy. My story slowly changed and altered as I grew, which made it all the more close to my heart as a result.
With that being said...I have news.
This past weekend I was at one of those church camps (I'm sure some of you might know the experience lol) and encountered God and Jesus once again, who had asked me to give everything up to follow them. It hurts me to say this, since having my story enjoyed was a phenomenal thing to me (and we haven't even reached the good parts, yet!), but I will no longer be continuing this story or any story.
I had planned to just delete the story from existence but was moved to inform everyone of the reason. It took me days of reaching this conclusion since I was fighting back so hard and wanted to compromise, but no compromises were to be had. Ultimately, I decided this route since I am not ashamed of the gospel, which has the power to save to anyone who believes.
Thank you everyone!