Chapter 14 - Searching For A Clue
Texting Anna about the vision I saw in my dreams, I got a reply saying she was busy with something and wouldn't be able to meet up with me. That didn't really sit well with me, but it wasn't like I could force her to come running whenever I needed her.
This new vision told me a few things. We finally had confirmation that there was another awakened person, most likely a staff member or visiting adult. There was no doubt judging by how fierce their eyes were.
The color of an awakened person's eyes wasn't just a cool visual trait. Looking into their eyes felt deeper than that. As if you could see directly into the depths of their hearts.
Anna's eyes were a brilliant pure blue, giving off a sense of her otherworldly nature.
My eyes were glowing silver, almost mirror-like in appearance.
But the person I saw in my dreams... their eyes were a crimson red, malicious and cruel-looking.
I didn't know whether or not that said anything about his intentions, but either way, it was something to investigate. All I could guess about this unknown awakened person was that they were most likely one of the teachers inspecting the campus at the time.
During a lockdown, all teachers with classes had to lock their classrooms and have their students hide during an emergency. That meant that teachers with a free period during that time had to patrol the rest of the campus to search for any students that weren't in class.
The lockdown occurred during the fifth school period after lunch, so all I needed to do was find out which teachers didn't have classes after lunch.
"What?" Dylan said. "You want to know how to find out the class times for each teacher?"
"Yeah," I answered. "Is there some way you can figure that out?"
He sighed. "Hold on, I think there's a link on the school website."
I blinked at that. "We have a website?"
I'm pretty sure he's not talking about the one where we can check our grades.
Dylan nodded as he scrolled through his smartphone. "Yup, it's for interested parents who are thinking about applying to this school. But since we don't have a dedicated computer guy updating it, it's mostly fostered off to students to maintain for extra credit."
He showed me his screen. "Looks like it hasn't updated since three years ago, so some of this might be wrong. But here you are."
I thanked him and quickly looked through the list of names of all of the school's staff members. I checked each teacher's schedules and found out which ones had free periods after lunch.
Surprisingly, there weren't that many names. I only had four people I needed to check out.
Mr. Williams - English Teacher
Ms. Hankins - Math Teacher
Mr. Roberts - P.E. Teacher
Mr. Abels - Art History Teacher
I didn't know the first two or the last one, but I recognized Mr. Roberts. He was one of the coaches in charge of teaching my P.E. class. I recalled that he was quite the large man, quite a difference in stature from the person I saw from my vision. So he was already off my list of suspects.
Ms. Hanikins... I can't exactly rule out. Just because I assumed the person in my vision peeking through the blinds was male, there was still the chance that I was wrong. I'll try and at least meet her first before I take her off the list.
But other than those two, all I was left with were Mr. Williams and Mr. Abels.
"You know anything about these two," I pointed to the two names in question.
Dylan took a quick look. "Hm, I don't know about Mr. Abels. But I think Dean has Mr. Williams. I found out earlier when we showed each other our schedules."
"Gotcha, thanks for the info."
Too bad Dean wasn't here. Otherwise, I might have asked him if he could tell me about Mr. Williams. But I figure I can just visit on my own.
Some teachers stay in their own classrooms during lunch. I was hoping that Mr. Williams was one of those teachers, but no such luck. Visiting his classroom only got me a locked door waiting for me.
I saw somebody familiar waiting outside. "Hi, Maria."
She looked up at me. "Hello, Wren. Are you also here for Mr. Williams?"
"Erm..." I nodded slowly. "Yup. But I doubt I'm here for the same reasons you are. Why are you here?"
"Mr. Williams is one of the teachers that's in charge of the student staff members," she explained. "I was thinking of signing up, and I wanted to ask some questions."
Oh, so this is how she started working on school events.
"Not joining a club?"
She gave a sheepish look at that. "Club recruitment isn't until a few more weeks. I wanted to see which option would be better for my records."
A vague memory of a conversation between the two of us surfaced for a moment. If I recalled correctly, she was interested in the dance club last time.
"Speaking of which, are you joining a club?"
I shook my head. "Nope, I'm thinking of working after school instead. There are a few job openings around the campus I'm thinking of looking into."
And if worst comes to worst, there's always Burger House.
"Well I better head off to class," I told her. "Nice seeing you."
It was so strange dealing with this awkwardness between us. I kept mixing up how close I was supposed to act around her. We weren't as friendly as my first loop, but you couldn't call us strangers either.
Sad as it was, I didn't have this problem with Dean, Dylan, and Kyle. I knew we weren't anything more than friendly acquaintances, which showed in how I barely interacted with them after I discovered the supernatural world.
But for some reason, Maria was a different story. I really thought I was becoming friends with her the first time.
Maybe it's just easy for me to latch onto new people. I'm beginning to think I have this same problem with Anna too.
Speaking of which, she never did tell me why she couldn't meet up with me. I was under the assumption that she didn't have a lot of friends.
Then again, I hardly knew anything about her. Maybe I should try and get to know her later.
How do you go about befriending a magician though?
"Alright class, today's gonna be something easy." The physical educations teacher - someone I only knew by Coach - yelled at us. "Since the gym is undergoing repairs right now, we'll be having class outside. Since it's a nice day, we'll just have everyone grab a ball and do whatever for the rest of class."
So basically, it was free time.
"But I better not see any of you pull out your phones," Coach warned. "Even if you're just planning on walking around the grounds, I want to see everybody moving."
I shrugged at that and made my way in line to grab myself a ball. I didn't know anybody else in the class, so I was just planning on dribbling to myself in the corner till class ended.
Carlos was busy passing out balls when I soon reached him.
"Here you go."
As my hand brushed his hands when I reached for the ball, I felt a strange spark in the air for a second. My head tilted in confusion, but Carlos looked like he didn't notice.
"Hey, hurry it up will you?"
I winced at the complaint from the person behind me and quickly left the scene.
"Okay, what was that?"
There was no doubt that I felt something strange when my hands touched Carlos. It almost felt like that time Anna did something to the roof to keep others away. Or rather, it's similar to the presence that wrapped around me when I used magic for the first time.
Was Carlos under a spell or something?
I looked in his direction and checked his eyes. As far as I could tell, they were normal.
So he wasn't an awakened user, or he had some way of disguising his eyes. I should probably see if that was even possible the next time I saw Anna.
I recalled that before I learned everything from Anna, I initially wanted to investigate him because of his connection to the football team. After everything that's happened to me these past few weeks, I had sort of forgotten about that.
But now that I've caught something weird about Carlos, maybe I should get back into investigating again.
Coach blew his whistle. "Alright everyone, fan out!"
Carlos left to place the gym supplies away, and I sighed. I knew for a fact that teacher assistants were often busy dealing with minor paperwork, so I could tell that Carlos wasn't going to come back anytime soon.
Guess I'll just tell Anna about what I discovered later. I'll just try and see if I can discreetly practice magic reinforcement while I'm here. Anna told me that the next step was to try a slight variation. Basically, instead of infusing my entire body, I should try and see if I can wrap my magic power around objects instead.
Moving to a corner a distance away from everyone else, I held the ball in my hands gave it a scrutinizing look.
"So... how am I supposed to do this?"
Unlike before, I had no frame of reference of how I was supposed to do this. Anns said that I was supposed to figure it myself without her showing me. So assuming she already gave me all the information I needed, it should be possible for me to do this on my own.
Let's go over what I've learned so far.
According to Anna, the chant every magician speaks gives a slight hint to the nature of their magical talents. I figured that my abilities were linked to my relationship with my time loop situation, but what did that mean? Did I have a better chance at learning abilities related to time looping?
But how would that help me now?
Let's try to look at it another way. Instead of thinking of it as looping, why not view it as a cycle. No matter my actions, if I loop, it all repeats at the beginning and starts anew.
So let's focus on establishing the concept of a cycle, and fuel my magical energy into that intent.
A time loop was a cycle that repeated itself over and over again. You could change some events, but it always ended up going back to the beginning once it was over. Always flowing back from future to past, from past to present, from present to future, and back again to past.
Time was a current endlessly flowing, regardless if it was forward or in a loop. But since time is flowing, what determines which direction it goes?
Assuming that time is also a current, then it also follows the principle of flowing from a higher step to a lower step. Water was always flowing downwards towards more water, electric currents moved from a high potential to low potential. Both took the path of least resistance.
I feel like my thoughts were moving in a strange direction for a moment, but it branched off into something else.
If I could apply this principle of a current to everything, even magic power, then I think I can figure out how to infuse objects with magic power.
Let's classify me as a source of energy filled with more magic power than the object I'm infusing my energy with. If I'm considered the higher source, and the ball as the lesser source, that means I have a higher amount of magical power than the ball. Because it had no magic power of its own, its resistance to external magic power should be zero.
So by my logic, my magic power should naturally flow towards objects with less power.
Using this principle, I felt something in my mind shift as the words came to the front of my thoughts.
"Once again — the birdcage encloses you."
I felt a presence settle around the ball. Squeezing it, I could tell that something about it was different from before. A mystical presence could be felt about it, and I could sense that it was somehow more than it was before.
Again, I had no idea where the chants came from. But I noticed something interesting.
My name is Wren, a type of bird. Was that why my chant had a birdcage in it?
Either way, I managed to accomplish the exercise Anna gave me.
"So, my magic is a current."
Anna saw her own magic as a conduit of change. I saw my magic as a current that I directed. I wonder if that says something about us as people, but I still lacked too much context to figure out any more at the moment.