Chapter 12 - School Life Continues
The next few hours were spent practicing how to get the technique down.
Since I was an absolute novice to the world of magic, I first needed to learn how to sense the magical energy within myself. I was told that magical energy was basically something all living things naturally possessed and that the best way to sense it was to just get exposed to other magical things.
"Just by being near me, you'll eventually be able to sense your own magic." Anna flippantly said when I asked. "For now, just keep running laps around the roof. That way, you'll be more sensitive to the changes in your body. Once you find your magic, you should probably notice right away."
After running for a few hours, I took another break and sat down. Anna placed the book she was reading down and began another lecture of hers.
"Body reinforcement is often used as a gateway exercise to introducing beginners to the idea of magic. It's a great way for people to learn how to feel their magical energy for the first time, while also giving you an easy-to-use versatile spell. Almost every single awakened person knows how to use body reinforcement to some degree."
"Does that mean there are different ranks?"
"Of course," she answered. "That ties into another common conceptual idea ingrained in the collective human unconsciousness, the more you practice the better you get. As long as you put in the time and energy to master a spell, it usually gets stronger."
In video game terms, that would be something like skill proficiency levels. "Are there any limits? Like, can I train until I'm strong enough to punch through a planet?"
She sighed. "There are, and that's actually linked to the difference between magic and miracles. Humans are a species with a limited lifespan. There is a limit to how much time and effort you can invest in something. The reason we differentiate between magic and miracles is that miracles are feats that are beyond human, something that no amount of time or effort can bridge within one's life. Theoretically, if a human had an unlimited lifespan, they could probably find a way to achieve similar scopes to most miracles. But then, would you still classify them as human?"
"So no planet punching?"
She sighed again. "There are... several people capable of such feats of destruction. But they're usually exceptions or one-in-a-century geniuses who've trained all their lives. Not something relevant to our current situation."
Wait, really?! I was just kidding!
"But that's not important right now," she said. "Just focus on learning how to sense your magic power today. The faster you learn how to do so, the faster I'll be able to teach you another spell."
"Are we working on a time period?"
"Kinda," she confessed. "You said that you might loop once two weeks pass. So this week is the only time we'll be able to focus on your training."
"Is there a way to speed that up?"
"Not if you want to risk exploding." She saw the horrified look on my face and hurried to explain. "Magic follows the principle that you always pay a price for learning a new spell. Usually, it's either time, resources, or magical energy. Otherwise, rushing into learning a spell risks disastrous consequences."
Like exploding!?! But at least I was kinda seeing what she was doing here.
We only had a week to get me up to her standards before we had no choice but to investigate our school. I couldn't investigate by myself, and she was going to forget about this once two weeks were up. And I couldn't guarantee that I would be able to earn her trust again in the next loop.
So she had no choice but to use this week to make me learn as much as we could. Since we didn't have the time to teach me everything, she was focusing the limited amount of time we had on me learning the absolute necessities.
Basically, Anna was following the iron triangle guidelines commonly used in project management teams. We only had a limited time, so she decided to sacrifice the scope of my magic education and instead focused our efforts (the cost) on mastering only the basics.
"So what happens if I don't get it by today?"
"Then we go home." She shrugged her shoulders. "Just practice on your own later when you get home. It won't be as effective as now, since my presence is speeding up your training, but it's still something."
I sighed at that. "Yeah, I figured you say something like that."
"Well," she quirked an eyebrow at me. "If you understand that, then get running. I'm still gonna be here for another hour."
I groaned and stood up to start another lap around the roof.
I didn't get it that day, and the two of us left to go home.
The next day, school started again and I found myself at the bus stop. Boarding the vehicle, I said hello to Maria and the two of us chatted for a bit.
Exiting the bus, I said hello to Anna and she gave me a look of warning reminding me not to discuss anything sensitive with her while she was at school. I shrugged, and instead began to talk about the upcoming assignments she needed to watch out for during the next few days, and she thanked me for the information.
That was how my morning passed, slightly dull and nothing memorable. My second period was slightly more exciting, however.
A hand slammed onto my desk. "What the heck, Wren! You never mentioned that you've made friends with our school's Belladonna."
I gave Dylan a confused look. "Who?"
"Annalise Belladonna," he replied. "That girl that picked you up last Friday?"
"Her last name's Belladonna?"
"That's not the poi— wait, you don't even know her last name?" Kyle gave me a frustrated look. "Never mind, why did she call you out for? You missed both break and lunch. Don't tell me you were hanging out with her the entire time?"
"Why is that a big deal?" I asked him. "And why do you even know her name? Is she popular or something?"
"You don't know?" Dylan blinked. "Dude, she's famous! Even we've heard about her during middle school."
"She's the daughter of a famous magician!"
I nearly choked on my spit when he said that. "W-What?!"
"Yeah, the great Bellamy Belladonna! Haven't you heard of him, he has tons of shows in Vegas?!"
Oh, he meant that kind of magician. Although, knowing what I do now, it could actually be both in this case.
"So why is she famous? How come everyone cares about a stage magician's daughter?"
Kyle looked like I was from Mars, and it was Dylan who explained it to me. "It's because she always gets into trouble. There are tons of rumors of her causing the school damages, pulling fire alarms randomly, stuff like that. She's infamous for being known as a troublemaker, yet the weird thing is she never gets in trouble for it."
What the heck was that random backstory? How come I've never heard of that until now?
"She's kind of well-known around her old middle school for that since she's also pretty good-looking," Kyle added. "But nobody's been able to get close to her. I don't even think she has any friends at school, even if tons of us are willing to."
So Anna's reputation amounted to being a magician's daughter who was also a popular troublemaker?
"Yet, she wanted to talk to you last Friday! And it wasn't just us who noticed that, tons of other people in our class saw that too. I think a third of the school knows about that now."
"What?" I looked around and noticed a few people were eavesdropping on our conversation. They looked away guiltily once they noticed my gaze. "Seriously? Really guys?"
"But for real," Dylan asked. "What's your relationship with her?"
"We... sit next to each other in class?" I said uncertainly. "That's it, I don't know what else to tell you guys."
I wasn't gonna tell them that she was partnering with me to investigate if there was an apostle of a demon lord at school. But other than that, we were basically just acquaintances. So I really had no idea what else to say to them.
Everyone seemed disappointed in my answer, and I found myself to my own devices again. Shrugging to myself, I waited for time to pass.
"Looks like you're popular around school now."
I blinked at what Dean said. "Even you've heard about that? I literally just heard about it a few minutes ago."
He laughed at that. "Yeah, me too. But I'm not wrong, you're apparently the talk on campus right now."
I gave out an exaggerated sigh at that. "High school gossip, what can you do about it?"
"Speaking of which," he lowered his voice for a moment. "The fact that I'm working on the weekends, can you please keep quiet about it? I don't want the others to know."
"Yeah, sure." I agreed easily. "But how come? Last time I checked, the school didn't ban part-time jobs."
"No, but my parents do."
I gave him a look at his response, but he didn't clarify. Shrugging my shoulders, I repeated myself. "I'll keep quiet."
"But I didn't know you worked at Burger House. That was a surprise."
He smiled at that. "Yup just started at the beginning of the school year. It's a little far from school, but it's close to where I live. So that's why you're the only one I've seen from school so far."
"How'd you get permission from the school if you're keeping it quiet from your parents?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "If you know how to do it, you can talk with your employers and the school without your parents finding out. It's not like they ask for parental permission, they just want to be informed if you're overworking hours."
"Huh," I replied. That was nice to know in case I needed to get a job myself. "So is this a weekend thing only?"
"It's actually a bit looser than that," he said. "Basically, you give them a call and if they're short-staffed, you can take a shift for the day and get paid on the spot."
I raised an eyebrow. "Is that even legal?"
"I dunno, but it does help if you need a quick buck."
Somehow, I had the feeling I finally knew how Burger House closed the first time around.
I waved at Clovis as I was about to leave the house. "Yup, still trying to get a feel for my magic."
"I'm still going over the fact that you're learning how to use magic," he told me. "You think I'll be able to do it too?"
"I'm not sure," I told him. "So far, it looks like you have to be awakened first before you can use magic. I'll ask Anna later when I see her."
"Eh, it was worth a shot." He waved back. "See ya when you get back."
I began to jog towards the nearby park, a small green area that was only a minute's walk away from my house. Once I found the dirt path, I began to speed up until I started to get familiar with my body.
Feeling the air enter my lungs, my body moving with every limb I threw forward, I tried to sense for something that stood out within me.
If I had a mirror on me at the time, I would've noticed my new silver eyes flickering occasionally during my run. But since I didn't, it took me a while before I was able to finally notice it.
A strange feeling of something could be felt from inside of my body. There wasn't a general source where it came from, but I could feel it spread throughout my body and warming me up as I began to notice it more.
Could it be...?
I started to run faster, working my muscles harder than I did before. The warm feeling began to grow stronger in response, and I continued to increase the amount of energy I used into running just a little bit faster, a little bit harder.
Finally, something appeared in my mind, and the words slipped out my lips.
"Once again — I hear the song of battle."
The chant was something totally different from what Anna used, but the effects were the same. Something in the air changed, and I felt a presence wrap around me. My body was bursting with energy as I ran forward faster than I've ever done in all of my lives.
Luckily nobody else was in the park, because my body continued to go faster and faster as I let the newly discovered energy in my body run wild. I whooped out loud as I jumped into the air and soared across the lawn.
"I've done it," I cried out. "I have magic!"