Chapter 13 - Recalling Past Events
"Hmm, looks like you got it down well enough."
Anna stared at me from our usual hiding spot. I had told her what I accomplished before class started, and she decided to check on me during the break. It didn't help that Dylan and Kyle once again made a commotion after seeing her pick me up again.
I should probably talk to her about that later. Not sure what she thinks about her reputation.
She poked my skin with her finger. "Well, you're definitely stronger. Not exactly bulletproof, but you probably won't get any cuts or scrapes anytime soon."
I breathed and released the spell around my body. The strange presence from before disappeared once I did.
"Is it supposed to be this exhausting?"
"That's just because you're still a beginner," she answered. "Magic doesn't exactly work as video games often portray them. Rather than having a set amount of mana you draw from, think of it like working a muscle. You can exercise it and exhaust yourself, and that would be the cost for using a spell."
"And I'm guessing like a muscle, overtaxing it could rip my... whatever my magical energy comes from?"
"Yes, that's the explosion risk I mentioned before." She gave a nod at that. "And if you're wondering about where your magical energy comes from, there's no real answer. Some say that it's your soul that produces energy, others say that we're linked to the mana plane and draw energy from there. But generally, it's commonly believed that magic is tied to our lifeforce."
"A general description for being alive," she replied. "You maintain your lifeforce when you eat, sleep, stuff like that. So the best way to recover your mana is through rest and recovery, not too dissimilar to physical exhaustion."
"Got it. I'll take it easy until I can afford to train later." Couldn't exactly go through the school day exhausted. "But give me a break, I'm still excited over the fact that I actually did magic for the first time. Wouldn't you be excited in my position?"
"Kind of," she smirked when she said that. "I'll admit that my own reaction to learning my first spell wasn't worse off than yourself."
"That's hard to imagine," I muttered.
"But make no mistake," her eyes narrowed. "So far, you've been lucky with your exposure to magic. Normally, entering the world of the supernatural isn't usually this peaceful. There are countless beings and creatures we need to watch out for, and most of the time, we'll find ourselves against an unknown enemy who's out to get us."
"Well, I kind of figured when you started this partnership over investigating the apostle of a demon lord."
"It's not that," she shook her head. "I'm not talking about the physical dangers. Magic and the supernatural scene as a whole aren't for the kind and weak-hearted. Eventually, you'll have to deal with the darker sides of our society."
I didn't know what to say about that. After all, I was still entirely new to the supernatural world. I never experienced any wrongs or grievances, and I wasn't exactly prepared for any future tragedy.
So instead, I changed the conversation topic. "What do the chants to our spells mean? I noticed that my chant was different from yours, even though we were doing the same thing."
She hummed at that. "Well, magic is the ability to change the world around you based on enforcing your thoughts onto reality. A chant is just a mnemonic device that aids you with this process. We believe that our unconscious mind act as a conduit that allows us to connect to the rest of the human collective unconsciousness. From that, we pull out certain archetypes and universal symbols, and search for compatible words to give birth to our expressions of thought."
Pausing for a moment, she finally noticed the blank look on my face and sighed. "Basically, our chant depends on what we think it should sound like."
"Oh," I said. "Well, why didn't you just say that in the first place."
She groaned. "People just don't appreciate the science behind magic anymore."
"But how come all the spells I've seen you do start the same? You always go - For breath - every time you chant."
"Most chants that a single person casts always start by saying something that acts as an expression of your identity," she began. "This is a little off-topic, but let's presume that each person has an affinity to one of the common four elements of fire, water, earth, and wind. Which isn't exactly true, but still somewhat useful descriptors for generalization."
"So I'm guessing you're either fire, earth, or wind?" I guessed. "Or maybe all three of them?"
"I would be wind," she answered. "But to be more specific, the wind element is just a general descriptor for certain kinds of talents that I'm able to easily learn. As a wind magician, I would be better at learning how to manipulate vectors, directed movement, and a lot of other stuff that you've probably heard before in physics. I don't necessarily control the wind itself, but rather the concept of change."
"So your chant expresses your affinity towards the concept of the wind?"
"Yes. But mostly the concept of change," she clarified. "I'm best at forming magic energy into something new, which is the essence of most spell casting. My fires convert magical projections back into energy, my body shifts from weak to strong, and magical energy is easier for me to manipulate and cast."
Huh. So since the beginning of my chant was - Once again - wouldn't that be related to my time loop ability? What did that exactly say about me?
Classes were boring.
This was a common sentiment for most high schoolers, but it was even worse for me. Because I literally experienced this lecture before due to my loop, it was hard for me to take the class seriously.
Nodding off to myself at my desk, I stifled a yawn as I tried to stay awake. Unlike some of my previous college professors, teachers still cared if you weren't paying attention to their lectures. It wouldn't do me any good if I was caught napping.
Still, I found myself falling unconscious after a few minutes of struggling to stay awake.
Immediately, I found myself in a familiar place.
it hurts, oh god it hurts
Why does the pain never stop
Countless flashes of something passed through my mind, but I couldn't grasp what they were telling me.
nOt aN ApoStLe
The multitude of images suddenly flew away until only a single one remained. My entire concentration was focused on that single memory, and I found myself in a familiar situation.
The intercom suddenly became alive as someone spoke in a hurried voice.
[Attention all classes, local law enforcement has just informed us that a criminal just robbed a convenience store in the nearby area. He is reported to be carrying a gun, and we have been informed to issue a campus-wide lockdown. All students are to remain in their classrooms and quickly close the blinds. Any students not inside should enter the nearest classroom as soon as possible. Your teachers will give you instructions on what to do next.]
Everyone began speaking loudly around me, and I felt my phone vibrate. Checking it, it turns out that my brother had texted me. Looks like he's also under lockdown as well.
The sound of a gunshot could be heard in the background, and people started to panic louder.
"Everyone," the teacher called out. "Please, calm down. Barricade the doors for now and have someone close the blinds. Soon, we'll have several staff members check on each classroom to see if they're properly secured."
We had safety drills like this before, so most of us knew what to do. Still, a lot of us were thinking that if a shooter truly wanted to make their way into the classroom, there wouldn't be much they could do. Everyone was still aware of the stories on the news of previous school shootings in the past.
The classroom waited in silence for a while. Everyone held their breaths in the tense atmosphere.
Suddenly, the sound of somebody tapping on our door sounded throughout the room. The blurry figure of somebody could be seen through the covered-up door window.
I was pretty sure at the time that he was a teacher because he just peeked through a gap in the blinds for a moment before he left. His red eyes barely glanced at us before resumed his check on the next room.
It took about an hour until we received word from the police saying that it was safe. Everyone had already calmed down during that time, so we took a short break before the class resumed their lessons.
Later, we got a confirmation email that the school did an exemplary job during the lockdown. The teacher in charge of inspections said that our actions were what they expected of us during a crisis.
At the same time, the students were gossiping over the fact that the shooter was never caught. The police told us that the criminal fled the scene, but they never followed up on what exactly the criminal looked like.
In the end, the gossip eventually settled down and everyone forgot about the incident.