Chapter 26 – Debut
I failed my school debut.
I was determined to change my image and leave the awkward and asocial me behind, so I tried to smile and pretended to be a shy little lady, but it didn’t work. Actually, I didn’t even get a chance. Before I knew it, people already feared me. To be fair, they didn’t exactly fear me, but they were intimidated. I thought things would be different here, turns out they’re not.
I wasn’t the only chosen one here. So even if I was special, I wasn’t special enough to become this famous –or should I say infamous? However, having enrolled school in the middle of the year and being Aoban’s sister didn’t help in going unnoticed. And then, the incident happened. Yep, the Pikachu incident. With the barrier, and all the first-class mages -aka the teachers- patrolling, the Arcane Academy was one of the safest place in the world and it had never been attacked –until Pikachu. So it may seem ridiculous, but it was a huge issue, especially since Pikachu supposedly used a hybrid attribute. And then there is me, the transfer student who directly got involved in the incident on her first day. Now, most of people thought of me as some kind of a thug, causing problems as soon as I arrive.
Um… Excuse me, people? I was the victim, remember? Nobody cares…
The results? I was shunned. The students were avoiding me and of course, I couldn’t make a single friend. I am now absolutely sure to be cursed…
It’s not that bad though. I’m probably trying to convince myself that I’m not that pitiful, but I don’t really hate the situation. Of course, if I could have the normal social life of an average teenager, I would gladly have it, but I’m used to being alone so the situation isn’t so hard to accept. Besides, even without friends, school life is keeping me busy.
For example, right now, I’m running. Why, you say? Because I’m chasing someone. That’s right. The idiot has been running away from me for about five minutes. Which means it’s been five minutes I’ve been running like a fool in the middle of the corridors, trying my best to avoid bumping into someone.
“Sorry! My bad… Oops! Sorry! Excuse-me!”
Damn it… Not only I hate running, but now I also look like an idiot. Once I catch him, he’s dead.
I was trying my best to keep up but unfortunately for me, he was fast, I was not. My stamina has always been a disaster and any physical effort was complicated for me. Moreover, I’m short. Doesn’t matter, you say? Yes it does. Because I’m shorter, I need to make bigger steps to match his. So no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t reduce the gap between us. Instead, it kept increasing. But after a few more minutes, not seeing me behind, he probably thought I had given up as he started walking again. I took advantage of the moment and finally caught up. Alerted by the sudden sound of my footsteps, the boy turned around and noticed me. He tried to run again, but this time, I didn’t let him. Now that I finally got you in sight, you’re not getting anywhere…
Losing its momentum, the boy fell loudly on the ground, as the other students around him gave him weird looks. Knowing that he won’t be leaving anytime soon, I finally stopped to catch my breath. I think I stayed there at least a few minutes, doing nothing but breathing deeply. Well, what can I say? Running is exhausting, especially for me. Once my breathing finally returned to a slow and rhythmic pattern, I walked up to the boy who was still struggling to get away, unable to comprehend why he couldn’t move.
“Finally, got you.”
“What the hell is wrong with you?! Leave me alone! Why are you chasing me?”
“Because you’re running away! Why are you running away?”
“Because you’re chasing me!”
At this rate, this discussion won’t be going anywhere… I sighed.
“I need to talk to you,” I explained.
“No way, get lost!”
“I just have one question.”
“What is it that you don’t understand in ‘no way’? You’re really not right in your head! Just leave me alone! Do you have any idea what’s going to happened to me if a teacher sees us together?”
I tilted my head in incomprehension as I gave him a silent answer.
“I’ll be in huge troubles!” He yelled out in frustration. “Because of your lies, I’m in a tight situation! I received a warning from the headmaster and I am to stay away from you! If a teacher sees us right now… They’re going to get the wrong idea and think I’m bullying you! And me? I… I…”
“You?” I repeated.
“I don’t know! Maybe I’ll be transferred to a lower class, maybe I’ll be forbidden to participate to any competitions or worse! Maybe I’ll be expelled!”
I gave him an apathetic look as I answered with a disinterest voice.
“Oh… How terrible for you.”
Sensing my sarcasm, the boy glared at me.
“Whose fault do you think it is?!” He asked.
“Yours?” I tried to guess.
“Yours! If you hadn’t lied, I wouldn’t be in this situation!”
“If you hadn’t tried to intimidate me, you wouldn’t be in this situation,” I corrected.
The boy was shaking in frustration as he couldn’t find anything to respond. That’s right, this is Frost. One of the boy who kidnapped me the day I transferred to threaten my brother. After the incident, I had expected for them to retaliate anytime for revenge, but they surprisingly didn’t. I finally understand why. Seems like the headmaster’s word is absolute.
Frost eventually stopped struggling to get free of his invisible bind, so I released him.
His eyes widened, he looked up at me as he understood that I was responsible for his temporary immobility, but he didn’t try to run again.
“Look, it’s already forgotten so let’s leave the past behind.” I suggested. “I need to talk to you.”
For a moment, he seemed to have considered reconciliation, but then, he refused once again.
“I said no way! What past? For me, the problem is still very current! My life is a mess ever since you arrived! Now, I have a bad reputation, I lost credit in the eyes of the teachers, the headmaster is on my back, and my friends give me the cold shoulder!”
“Oh, come on!” I complained. “That’s not my fault! You got yourself in this situation! Besides, if your friends started to ignore you once you got in trouble, then they are not your friends!”
Frost suddenly got up in anger. “What do you know? You don’t even have friends!”
How mean! How could he…? You don’t get to raise the sensitive topic!
“I- I do have friends!” I retorted.
“Yeah, right! Imaginary friends don’t count!” He mocked.
“They are not imaginary! They are very real! I have two of them! Their names are Yoko and Harri! They might not be here right now, but unlike yours, my friends will never betray me!”
Frost paused for a moment, as he raised an eyebrow.
“Yoko and Harri? Aren’t those… the names of the Goddess of Lust and the God of Love?” He asked.
He then suddenly burst out in laugher.
“You really lack imagination, hahaha! You could’ve at least picked other names! Like, what? You want to make me believe that your two only friends just happened to be named after Gods? What a coincidence!”
This bastard… He doesn’t believe me. For once, I’m telling the truth!
As I was about to shut him up, Frost suddenly gasped, choking his laugher at once. Blood drained from his face, he instantly blanched. For a moment, I thought it was because he read through my expression, but then I noticed he was looking behind me.
“What is it?” I asked as I turned around.
“S-Shit! It’s Aoban Whiteheart!” He exclaimed.
From afar, I spotted a small group walking in our direction. Frost was right. It was indeed Aoban, and I also recognized some of his friends. They hadn’t seen us yet, but it was only a matter of time. Too busy chasing Frost, I failed to notice that we ending up in the upperclassmen’s buildings. Well, we did run for a while after all...
Alarmed by the turn of events, Frost started to panic. Aoban wasn’t fond of him and he knew it. Once the rumor I had been kidnapped reached his ears, brother made sure to make publicly known that he was going to “deal” personally with anyone bothering me.
Frost was a talented summoner, but he was far from being a match for Aoban. He was younger, less experienced, and even when it comes to plain magic, he didn’t even the skills of Aoban. That’s just how talented brother was –or at least, that’s what I heard because to be honest, I’ve never really seen him in action. Dealing with the teachers was something, but dealing with Aoban was a whole other story. He had every reason to fear him. In this Academy, students were allowed to fight. As a matter of fact, they were even encouraged to fight, provided that their fights would follow that school’s rules.
As Aoban’s group was closing the distance between us, Frost suddenly rushed to the closest door and tried to force the handle, but it was locked.
The [World System] obeyed my command and the door opened itself. This time, it was my turn to rush to the door. I pushed Frost inside the room and closed the door behind us in hurry. As Frost looked at me with confused eyes, I grabbed his head and forced him to crouch down, so as not to be seen through the door’s window. Luckily, the room was empty. It seemed to be some kind of storage room: the perfect hiding place.
I brought my index finger in front of my mouth, signaling Frost not to make a sound, and we waited. We waited for Aoban’s group to pass by. We heard their footsteps slowly becoming louder, and then gradually subsiding. Once we couldn’t hear them anymore, we both sighed in relief.
Frost then looked up at me, his eyes squinted. “You know, I really don’t like your brother,” he explained after staying silent for a while.
“I know,” I simply responded.
“Our views differ and I don’t like the way he deals with… well, things,” he continued.
“I know,” I sighed.
“I’m telling you he’s my enemy, so I have every reason to avoid him.”
“And I’m telling you I know all about that already.”
“But… Why are you avoiding him?” He finally asked.
I stayed quiet for a moment before breaking the eye contact. “I’m not avoiding him…”
“Of course you are. If not, what was that all about? You seemed almost more desperate than me to hide.”
“Fine, maybe I’m avoiding him,” I eventually answered as I let out a loud sigh. “But that’s none of your business.”
Frost clicked his tongue, somehow dissatisfied by my answer, but he didn’t insist any further as he understood it was pointless.
Brother is… Well, it’s brother. He is kind and all, and I love him. We always had a good relationship, but ever since I started attending school, things started to change a little… Aoban has always been very protective. Because we didn’t have a paternal figure, he behaves both as a brother and a father towards me. I understand. I feel the same sometimes, especially since I watched him grow. This behavior of his never really bothered me, I even found it cute. But now, it’s totally getting on my nerves.
Actually, brother is the main reason why I couldn’t make friends. Sure, I transferred. Sure, I have golden eyes. Sure, I got involved in a problem on my first day. But to be honest, all those reasons were not enough to have me shunned by my peers. Quite the opposite, actually. Students were naturally curious, and because of all those reasons, I attracted their attention. But then, Aoban had to throw in his two cents, and all this attention turned into something somewhat negative.
The one people truly feared wasn’t me, it was my brother. It was only by association they started to be wary of me.
Aoban was talented. I’ve heard enough to understand he was some kind of sword prodigy. Over the years, my uncle hired the best tutors he could find for him, so whether it is physically or intellectually, brother belonged to the bests. As for his magic abilities, they were not particularly exceptional but they were definitely above average. Aoban had a greater control of his mana than most people, and his magic affinities weren’t low either. Then, appearance wise, although I wouldn’t call him handsome –especially since he’s my brother, his facial features were all well defined and equally balanced, giving off a nice vibe. Basically, he’s strong, smart and not bad looking. On the top of that, he’s the heir of a noble family. He was meant to become popular.
However, with popularity come hatred and fear. No one just reaches the top without gaining enemies. Aoban was no exception. He had a lot of enemies. There were those who belonged to a rival household, those who had a differing political opinion, and those who were simply jealous. But all were wary of him. In a world where equity and equality don’t exist, people learned to fear those who gained too much power and influence too quickly. Turns out brother might not be as innocent as I thought either… And if I’ve learned one thing from war strategy games, it’s that if your enemy is too strong, don’t attack directly. Aim for the weaknesses! In this case, that meant me. For Aoban’s many enemies, I, the random sibling, was an easy target. Brother was perfectly aware of that. Now that I’m “vulnerable”, his parentification issue has gotten worse. He’s always been overprotective, but now, he’s starting to be controlling.
Obviously, after intimidating anyone trying to get to know me, the rumor quickly spread: “Do not get close to the transfer student, or else, Aoban Whiteheart will kill you”.
Seriously… This sister-complex of his is no longer amusing. It used to be cute but we are no longer children. This is starting to become toxic.
“You okay?” I heard a voice calling out.
“Ah, yeah. Sorry, I was just thinking about something else…” I responded, as I returned my attention to Frost. “What were we saying again?”
“Nothing. You were just stalking me.”
“Oh, right! I needed to ask you something!” I suddenly remembered.
“And I said I wouldn’t answer, so don’t bother asking.”
“You’re a summoner, right? How do you cancel a summoning?” I asked anyway.
“Are you deaf? I told you not to ask!” Frost sighed, bringing his palm to his face. “But that’s all you wanted to ask? And here I though it was something important…”
I tilted my head to the side. “What else would I ask you? We aren’t even friend.”
“Exactly. Why would you ask me anything?”
“Because you’re a summoner.”
“I’m not a summoner yet! I’m a mage! Apprentice mage to be exact!” He corrected. “I’m only starting to specialize in summoning magic! Besides, aren’t you a better summoner than me? Didn’t you summon that yellow rabbit the teachers are looking for?”
I gave him a bitter smile.
“Wait,” he suddenly added, seemingly realizing something. “Is that what it is all about? Your yellow rabbit.”
“Uh, kind of?”
“You… Still haven’t canceled your summoning?”
An awkward silence briefly filled the room as I stared into those brown eyes, looking at me in disbelief.
“Are you kidding me?” Frost yelled. “It’s already been a week! I thought it disappeared!”
“I thought so too!” I tried to explain. “But then, this morning, I woke up to him looking at me like a creepy stalker! He was just there, sitting in the window ledge, watching me sleep for gods know how long! I was lucky my roommate wasn’t here…”
“This morning?” Frost repeated, raising a single eyebrow. “Where is he right now?”
I shrugged. “I tried to lock him up in the closet for the time being, but he destroyed it and then he fled.”
The boy gasped, his brows creased.
“Y-You let your little monster on the loose?! What are you waiting for to make him disappear!”
“That’s exactly what I’m here for! I need you to help me cancel the damn summoning!”
“And how am I supposed to help? That’s your familiar!”
“You’re a summoner! Tell me how you cancel a summoning, and I’ll manage to make him disappear, somehow.”
“I don’t know how, I just do it!”
Feeling the frustration slowly building up inside me, I let out a loud sigh.
“You’re not helping you know.”
“You’re the weird one, here!” Frost tried to justify himself. “If you want him gone, just tell him so! It’s just as simple as that!”
“Do you think I’m an idiot?” I grunted. “I tried, it’s not working.”
“Well, try again! It’s your familiar, you’re the master! Absolute obedience, remember? A contracted beast can never go against its master’s word!”
Aaaaaaaaah!! The contract! I should have thought about it! Summoners need to pass a contract with a magical beast fist, before they can summon it. But I didn’t. I didn’t just summon Pikachu, I created it. We never entered into a contract. That’s why he’s not listening! He’s still unbound! Coming to this sudden realization, I wrapped my arms around my head.
“Y-You okay?” Frost inquired.
I looked up at him.
“Hypothetically speaking… If there was something wrong with the contract, is there any other way to make a magical beast disappear?”
Frost squinted his eyes, clearly not understanding my point. But he answered anyway.
“Well, you can…” He stopped for a few seconds, then, seemingly remembering something, he sneered. “Not saying.”
“Are you being serious, right now?”
“Dead serious. Have you forgotten? I told you I wouldn’t answer.”
“Oh, come on! We were getting somewhere, here! You should know better than anyone that we can’t let Pikachu roam around freely.”
“That’s your problem.”
“Oh, really?” I asked with a straight face. However, he showed no signs of changing his mind. Instead, his grin only grew larger. So I decided to go for the same strategy. “I’ll barge out of the room crying, and I’ll tell everyone you bullied me.”
“W-What?! That’s a lie!” Frost complained.
“Well, the perception of truth is relative. In the end, the only thing that matter is what people believe in. ”
“I could get expelled!”
“That’s your problem, right?” I retorted, repeating his own words.
His face brightened to a crimson tone.
“You!” He snapped, as he abruptly grabbed me by my collar. “Do you think this is funny?!”
That moment, we were suddenly interrupted as we heard the creaking noise of a door opening. Turning our attention to the entrance of the room, we noticed the tall boy who just entered. Recognizing the newcomer right away, Frost froze -no pun intended.
“Brother,” I called out. “What are you doing here?”
“Lyni? I thought I heard your voice so I…” Aoban started before his gaze shifted from me to Frost, who instantly stiffened up the moment his eyes met Aoban’s. “You! What do you think you’re doing right now?”
Suddenly realizing what the situation looked like, Frost immediately let go of me. Instinctively, he rose both of his arms in the air in an attempt to look as harmless as possible.
“It’s a misunderstanding!” He tried to explain.
But clearly, brother had no intention of listening.
“Misunderstanding my ass! What were you about to do just now?”
“Nothing, absolutely nothing at all!”
Aoban shoved Frost against the wall as he let the door slam behind him. Taking a closer look at the boy, his expression hardened.
“I recognize you,” he said sternly. “Aren’t you one of those cowards who tried to intimidate my sister a week ago?”
“No! I-I mean yes, but this time it’s not like that! I swear!”
In the grip of silent panic, Frost’s face fell faster than a waterfall. Failing to convey his words properly, he turned his wild eyes to me. His pupils were completely dilated, screaming for help. Seeing his helpless puppy face, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. I know I did say I was going to tell everyone he bullied me if he was not going to help, but it was mostly bluff. I had no intention of doing so. And even if I did, right now, it was going out of control. I stepped forward to grab my brother’s forearm.
“Aoban, just calm down for a second and listen to him.” I suggested. “He’s telling the truth.”
“What are you saying? I clearly saw him. He was about to hit you.” He growled before shifting his gaze to me. He slowly furrowed his eyebrows. I could see the worried look in his eyes. “Is he threatening you?”
He was getting the wrong idea. I could see the matter escalating quickly. I really needed to reason him.
“No he isn’t,” I calmly explained as I took a step closer. “Like he said, you misunderstood.”
Aoban wiggled his arm out of my grasp, his eyes full of suspicion.
“What were you doing together then?”
I shrugged. “Just talking.”
“Nothing much. About classes, stuff like that.”
Brother gave Frost a deadly glare, which immediately made him stiffen up.
“With him? Why?” He groaned.
“Because we’re friends.”
“Friends…?” Aoban repeated, looking at me skeptically with his eyes narrowed. He clearly didn’t believe me.
I know I should have come up with a better excuse, but to be honest, at that time, I couldn’t think of anything else. As I was about to explain myself, I was cut short by Frost.
“T-That’s right, we’re friends!” He seconded, stuttering. As desperate as he was, I’m pretty sure he would have agreed to anything. But that wasn’t enough to convince Aoban.
“Are you taking me for an idiot? There is no way you would be friends with him.”
Brother sighed, “Lyni, have you forgotten what he did to you last week?”
“I haven’t,” I replied while shaking my head. “But people make mistakes. We’ve already discussed about it and we got over it.”
Aoban remained silent for a while. His eyes were intensively looking at me, probably trying to read my expression. But I didn’t let any signs betray me.
“I won’t accept that.” He eventually replied curtly. The tone in his voice was indicating that he had lost patience. He returned his attention to Frost before grabbing his collar.
“What are you doing?” I called out as I placed a hand on his arm. But he pushed me away, keeping a threatening glare on Frost.
“I’ll make sure this scumbag understands what happens when he approaches you.” He explained as if it was obvious.
“Stop it! I told you we’re friends!”
“And I told you I won’t allow that.”
Hearing his cold and harsh voice, I snapped. I did not recognize my kind and gentle brother. At this moment, he almost seemed like a stranger.
“What do you mean you won’t- I don’t need your permission!” I bellowed. “I can choose my friends on my own!”
“Clearly, you can’t.” Aoban shot back.
“What? What is that supposed to mean!”
“It means that you need to get back,” he ordered.
“No, I’m not going anywhere!” I declared, and since he didn’t show any signs of letting go of Frost anytime soon, I butted in between them. “You need to chill out and listen to me!”
“No, you listen to me! Get back!” He tried to push me away once again.
Don’t. Do. It. Lynett. Calm down. Oh fuck, whatever.
“What’s wrong with you, seriously!” I yelled, as I shook him away. “How about you mind your own business!”
Aoban’s eyes narrowed as he looked at me in disbelief.
“What what!” I continued. “You have a problem with my friend? How about you learn to choose yours first before you try to lecture me about it!”
Hearing that, brother’s eyes twitched. It was very slight, but I definitely saw it.
“Lynett… What are you trying to say?” He questioned, anger growing in his voice.
Brother never called me by my name. Lyni, Lyni, Lyni… With him, it has always been Lyni. So the moment I heard the name ‘Lynett’ coming out of his mouth, I understood immediately that he was really annoyed. Still, I did not back down. Normally, I would have. Truth be told, confrontations aren’t my forte. I hate arguments. It always ends up with both parties feeling hurt and angry. So usually, I let it go. No, actually, I always let it go. Because it’s pointless. Because I’m afraid of shattering something. But this time, I knew I couldn’t. Besides, I was just as annoyed as him.
“I’ve heard what people say about you and your friends!” I yelled. “And I saw you bullying that kid!”
“You don’t understand!” Brother yelled in his turn.
“No, you’re right, I don’t! You of all people! Is this school your kingdom? Do you think you can do whatever you want and beat up people just because you’re a little stronger than them?”
His face mottled crimson, he finally let go of Frost as he completely turns his attention to me.
“That is none of your business!” Aoban declared.
“Excuse-me?! So you can meddle in my life, but I can’t?”
“I’m your brother!” He stated, as if it was justifying his actions.
“Exactly! You’re my brother, not my father! So how about you stop acting like it!”
“Everything I’m doing is for you!”
“I didn’t ask for anything, I can take care of myself!”
“No you can’t!”
“Uhm, guys…” A little voice suddenly spoke up.
“WHAT?!” Brother and I both shouted in unison as we shifted our attention to Frost.
Startled, the poor boy gasped. He then lowered his eyes, letting his gaze wander on the floor.
“No, uh…” He muttered with a weak voice. “I just… I’ll just… get going, so you guys can continue…”
Frost let out a forced and awkward chuckle in hopes to lighten the mood as he slowly headed toward the door under Aoban’s glare. But brother did not stop him. With my previous frustration now relieved, I felt my pressure suddenly dropping, and at the same time, cold sweats forming on my face as I realized the situation.
C-Crap… I overdid it. I got carried away.
I do not have a bad tamper. In fact, I consider myself as a pretty calm person. I don’t whine, I don’t fuss, I don’t throw tantrums. Usually. But when frustration builds up, it has to explode at some point.
As Frost was about to leave the room, he bumped into someone. That someone was one of brother’s friend. I remember him from the day I arrived. He glared at Frost on the impact, but he did not push it any further. He simply ignored the fleeing boy as he entered the room, seemingly looking for my brother.
“Aoban, is everything ok?” He inquired once he spotted him. “We heard you shouting.”
“I’m fine…” Brother hissed, looking in my direction.
“Is that so?” His friend replied, overlooking the tone in his voice. “We’re waiting for you, you know?”
He followed Aoban’s gaze and he finally noticed me.
“Oh! You’re… the sister! Lynett, right?” He asked rhetorically. “What’s up, how are you doing?”
“Good, thank you.” I simply responded as I avoided an eye contact.
Seemingly confused by my cold answer, Aoban’s friend blinked a couple of time. He looked at me for a few seconds, then at my brother, and then at me again.
“Am… Am I interrupting something?” He inquired, finally reading the mood.
Brother was still glaring at me. Eventually, he let out a loud, complaining sigh.
“No, it’s nothing.” He mumbled. “I’m coming.”
Aoban passed by me, heading toward his friend. He gave him a pat in the shoulder, as if to tell him to follow him, which he did. Before leaving the room, brother turned in my direction one last time.
“This discussion is not over,” he stated.
“Whatever…” I muttered, loud enough for him to hear.