Author’s note: I love to read what you thought of this chapter. Don’t be afraid to leave a comment, I don’t bite ;)
“You’re allowed to leave. But don’t let us see you in the station again, you hear me?” With those words, the police agents forced me out of their vehicle and drove off. I rubbed my chafed hands and pushed myself back on my feet.
“You’re late.” A strict, mature voice echoed ahead of me. When I looked up, I saw a blonde woman walking towards me. Her gold-coloured hair was stuck in a classy bun, with two braids framing her face on each side. I could see a pair of thin strands poking from her forehead and a pair of butterfly wings poking through the back of her white shirt. A beastwoman, of the butterfly variety.
“Who’re you?” I asked. She didn’t look like anything special. But there was something about the way she carried herself that made me wary. Her 4-inch black heels tapped against the concrete ground as she came closer and closer. Her tight black skirt reached just beyond her knees, with black see-through stockings covering the entirety of her smooth legs.
“My name is Tanya. But that’s Miss Chaffendale to you. I’m your teacher.” That last sentence sent shivers along my spine. She was my teacher? And here I was, being late and not being exactly respectful…
“Right. So, what are you doing here, Tan—Miss Chaffendale?” I corrected myself. I saw how she tensed up whenever her first name came into play. She crossed arms before brushing her braided hair behind her ears.
“Yeah. I heard one of my students already got in trouble, before school even commenced! So? What’s up with you getting caught by the police?” She asked. While I tried finding the correct words, she guided me into the main school building.
“Well, I was just testing the power given to me by my Marking.” I said and showed her my Marking. It was still the same as yesterday: some kind of serpent-like figure with 8 tentacles protruding outwards. Its sharp jaws looked like they were gnawing at something, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was.
“Oh, I’ve read about you in the newspaper.” The teacher revealed. She walked away, only to return with a single sheet of paper. The blonde woman waved her hand over it, causing the spell that had been imbued into the paper to rise up. I recognized the colour and symbols of the magic circle as Valhallian. Suddenly, words started to appear all over the piece of paper. I saw a picture of myself, among all the other people that had been Marked. Out of 1,500 people, only a measly 100 had received a Marking. And only 10 of those people had a Marking that wasn’t a generic one.
“Big news: Unknown marking sighted!” I repeated the article’s title. Along with a small explanation of the events that transpired yesterday, my face was plastered along the page. I’ve never given any permission for that! I reached out to the piece of paper to take a closer look. However, I didn’t pay enough attention and brushed my hand along the magic circle.
“Not again!” I saw the now-familiar ghostly image appear again. It looked at me once before I gulped the magic circle down its greedy gullet. I was certain I saw some kind of tongue lick the misty teeth before the entire image retreated into my feet.
“So, that’s what your power can do?” The teacher calmly said. She inspected the paper, which had now become useless and put it into the trash bin. The blonde woman nodded before she pulled me along countless hallways. Every inch was clinically clean. I suspected some form of magic spell at work.
“Here. This is your classroom for the coming year. The other students are already in there, so do you best to make a good impression.” Without further ado, she turned around and pushed open the door. An avalanche of sound burst through the opening. I jumped back, startled. I dodged a paper plane before a flying pen hit me straight on the nose.
“Okay, simmer down, all of you!” Gone was her kind voice. Miss Chaffendale walked into the room, dodged a couple of objects before she smacked her papers on the teacher’s desk. When everyone in the room had calmed down somewhat, I sneaked into the room, shut the door and sat down in the nearest I could find. Right behind a girl with seaweed coloured hair. Judging from the soft tendrils poking out of her scalp, she seemed to be some kind of merfolk. A squid, maybe?
“All right, now that all of you had your fun, it’s time to focus. I’ve retrieved your missing classmate, Carnel, so we can directly go to lessons. I will be handling all of your lessons , seeing as we are only with ten people in this class. Now, eyes on the blackboard, please!” She gestured at the white metal board behind her. With one touch of her hand, she activated the spell imbued in the metal. Judging from the colour, it was fairy magic. In other words, someone with a Fairy Marking put down this spell.
“Now, time for a little remedial. Who can tell me what Markings are?” Immediately, the girl in front of me raised her left hand. I saw that her fingers were longer than mine, and squishy too. She failed to keep them straight for longer than a couple seconds, after which they flopped down. A giggle echoed from the back of the class. The girl shivered when the voice reached her.
“Angelique, you can answer.” The girl shrieked before she took a big gulp and stood up.
“Y-Yes, Miss Chaffendale. U-Uhm… The Markings give a person the ability to use magic. How much magic depends on the class of the Marking.” The teacher nodded and gestured for the girl to sit back down again. I heard the same voice let out a disappointed sigh. I turned around to take a look at the culprit.
A girl had her knee-high black leather boots on her desk. She twirled the dark purple ends of her scarlet hair through her fingers while she blankly stared through the window. The girl was dressed in a tight tank-top that revealed her bra’s dark red silk straps running over her smooth skin. A short jeans-skirt and a look that said ‘fuck all of you nerds’ said it all.
“Lily. I understand you may be bored, but don’t contaminate others with your attitude.” Since the girl didn’t seem to react, the teacher cranked it up a notch.
“Otherwise, I’ll have to put you in remedial for the rest of the year already!” That certainly seemed to do the trick. Lily scoffed and put her feet back on the floor. However, she didn’t seem to change her interest. The teacher shrugged and nodded.
“Anyway. Yes, that’s correct, Angelique. Some Elves, merfolk, beastmen and humans have the ability to be Marked. In short, this means that they get the ability to use magical circles. However, there is a clear distinction between Markings themselves.” Tanya turned towards me. “Carnel, tell me the differences between Markings from person to person.” I gulped and stood up.
“Well… There are the six types of Markings. Like an Angelic Marking can only give the powers of an angel, limiting the person’s magic circles to only be of the angelic variety. That means they can only use spells compatible for that kind: angels can’t use Black magic for example.” The teacher nodded. But when I wanted to sit down again, she clicked her tongue.
“That’s not all, Carnel. Stand up and think hard: there is a second difference. Between Markings of the same type.” I wondered for a bit. What was she--? Then, it clicked in my head what she was waiting for.
“Yes. When somebody receives a Marking, they immediately get a rank as well. Mostly, the Markings people receive are low-ranked angels, devils, fairies or one of the other types. However, there are people that have high-ranking Markings. Those people, in addition to being capable of invoking magic circles for high-tiered spells, also have the ability to use unique spells.” The teacher nodded and ordered me to sit down with a simple movement of her hand.
“Very good. Indeed, all ten of you have been Marked by higher-ranked beings, while the other ninety have lower-ranked Markings. That doesn’t mean you get to slack off, however! In fact, you people need to work harder than anybody else here to learn how to control your powers.” She glanced over at me.
“Normally, the books in the Academy’s library would help you to search for what your original spell would be. However, in Carnel’s case, there are no books about his Mark. I’ll be expecting monthly reports about your findings, yes?” There was no way I could refuse. I nodded despondently before I leaned backwards : this day was getting worse and worse. Luckily, the lesson was done for the day when the lunch bell tolled.
“Finally, some food!” I rejoiced in a happy tone. Maybe too loud, as every student around me threw me a strange gaze. I grumbled and dumped all of my stuff into my bag. The girl in front of me was doing the same. She gazed in her bag, before her brown eyes looked at her desk.
“Looking for something, fish-for-brains?” The scarlet-haired girl twirled something between her fingers. From what I saw, it looked like some kind of gold-coloured accessory. A necklace. The girl gasped and wanted to grab the thing, but Lily danced away from her.
“P-Please… Please give it back.” Angelique whispered. Lily didn’t oblige. Each time the squid-girl got closer, the gal stepped out of her reach. This continued for a minute, until the teacher stepped back into class.
“What are you three still doing here? Lunch is only an hour, you know! If you don’t get to the lunch hall in time, you won’t have time to finish your food.” She spurred us on. Lily scoffed and threw the accessory towards Angelique, who clumsily grabbed it and put it around her neck. After that, she quickly grabbed her bag and bolted out of the room.
I decided the best course action would be to get something to eat. I was happy to see the lunch hall was very spacious and could hold all of the students. After I got my food, which consisted of mashed potatoes, a brownie and some sausages. All in all, not a bad meal. Certainly not considering the meal was free for students.
At least a small point of light in my school life, I sighed. While I was chomping down on my meal, I saw how Angelique quickly grabbed her plate filled with food and then sought out the quietest corner in the lunch hall. Whenever people came too close to her, she would simply gather all her belongings and move away from them. This continued the entire time: move, get spotted and relocate again.
I’ve seen my fair share of shy people, but she definitely takes the cake, I said to myself. After lunch, I made my way through the empty hallways back to my classroom.
“Do you have that stink bomb?” I heard Lily’s voice coming from an empty corridor. I hid behind some lockers and calmly listened to her talking to someone. From the sound of it, it sounded like one of her friends. Or accomplices in this case.
“Yes, here it is.” After the ruffling of clothes subsided, I heard a metallic clank. Something hard falling on the hard floor.
“Watch out with that thing! You want people to hear us?!” Lily’s agitated voice echoed throughout the hallway. I heard the clicking of her heels before she put her head around the corner. I gulped: I didn’t expect that.
“Ah. Don’t mind me, just passing through!” I lied. When I turned around, the girl grabbed my arm and pulled me into the corridor. She looked around to ensure no one saw her before she glanced at me. A sneaky smirk appeared on her red-painted lips.
“Yeah… You’ll work.” She said. Lily smiled softly before put an arm around my head. She pulled me closer while she made sure to give me a full view of her generous cleavage.
“Say… Won’t you do me a favour?” She whispered into my ear in a seductive tone. I had trouble keeping my eyes focused on hers and not let them drift downwards where I could feel her soft breasts press softly against my chest.
“F-Favour, you say? A-And what do I have to do?” I replied. I felt my face heating up while the girl reached behind my back and dropped a metal canister in my palm. It had a small piece of rope hanging out of it, like a wick.
“Aha, so this was that stink bomb you mentioned earlier then?” The canister itself didn’t look impressive at all. It was made of a black metal and wasn’t that sturdy. However, it was filled with a substance that carried a penetrating stench.
“Hmph. Eavesdropping doesn’t get you any points with me, you know.” Lily replied. She glared at me for just an instant before switching back to her seductive ways once more. Her soft fingers caressed my left chair while her other hand ruffled my black hair. Her hot breath rolled over my ear and sent shivers down my back.
“Anyway, I want you to light that thing and put it in fish-head’s bag.” Oh, so that’s what all of this was about. I shook my head and dumped the metal canister back into Lily’s hands.
“Go seek someone else to pull your pranks. Although it would be better for everyone if you didn’t bother that girl at all, yeah?” I said, glaring into Lily’s eyes. The girl was less than impressed. She threw the canister behind her back and poked her finger against my chest. Her blue eyes gazed deeply into mine before I saw a beginning magic circle appear in her irises.
That’s weird, I contemplated. Normally, magic circles were conceived at someone’s fingertips. Was it her Original Magic? I felt a surge of unrest course through my veins as I felt my body getting hotter and hotter. My thoughts were being wiped out the longer I looked into Lily’s eyes. I had no idea what kind her Marking was, nor what being her Mark was. However, I wasn’t keen on finding on.
Before I knew what was going on, my left hand slowly rose and tapped against Lily’s cheeks. The girl frowned as she looked at me with a questioning gaze. The smoky figure appeared once more, licking its smoky jaws. It glanced at me before it sunk its misty teeth straight into Lily’s head. The girl didn’t seem to notice, however.
“H-Huh?” The girl blinked, twice. When she realized her spell had been… eaten, she looked more puzzled than ever. At the same time, the smoky image, whom I had come to assume was the being of my Mark, contently licked its lips before retreating into my body.
“What happened to my spell?” She wondered. I shrugged my shoulders and walked away. Even I didn’t know the full extent of my powers, and I wasn’t about to enlighten her. While I walked towards my classroom, I heard a frustrated yell from behind me. Seems like she couldn’t handle her spell being broken apart, I reasoned.
When I walked into the classroom, most of the other students were already there. And with Lily’s arrival a minute later, everyone was present. She shot me a poisonous glare and walked away from me.
“All right, everyone! After lunch, most days will be filled with practical combat training. Today is no exception. All of you, to the courtyard!” Tanya announced. The blonde teacher walked out of the classroom. Soon, the ten students in the room followed her.
The courtyard was really impressive: It was a huge stretch of grass-ridden land. Some wooden dolls were scattered around on the ground. However, those weren’t what Tanya had in mind.
“Now, pay close attention. I’m sure you already know this, but I will repeat this to prevent any misfires. A magic circle consists of three things, can anyone tell me what they are?” A male student cautiously raised their hand. The blonde teacher nodded and waited for their answer.
“The first thing you need to have is a link with the type of your Mark. Then, you need to add an element to your magic circle. Finally, you need to define your spell.” The teacher nodded.
“Exactly. That answer would get you full marks on any test! Right then. I’ll demonstrate.” Without another word, Tanya turned around and gazed over the empty field. I wondered what she would be aiming at. The teacher closed her eyes before extending her right hand. Immediately, a magic circle appeared which glowed in a muddy colour.
A fairy circle, I recognized.
“This is the first circle. Of course, for most of you, this will be of a different colour and different symbols.” She announced. With a soft grunt, she added another layer to her magic circle. This time, the drawing had a richer colour of brown. Like dark beer. The symbols engraved into the drawing were new to me, however.
“This is the second circle, where you define your element. Again, these have slight differences between Mark types.” She explained. I noticed some of the student jotting this down on a piece of paper. I forgot to bring any paper, sadly.
“Never let your focus down during this third part. If your focus is even slightly off, a misfire could occur. And the results of that can be catastrophic.” The teacher continued to form her magic circle. I saw the last part of her circle fade into existence. When it fully formed, she directed her spell to the ground. A second later, a ball of mud bounced out of the spell and into the soil beneath.
“Uhm, teach? Nothing’s happening.” Lily deadpanned. She wasn’t the least bit interested in the lesson, but she couldn’t stop herself from giggling when she noticed Tanya’s spell failed. Or so she thought.
“W-Why is the ground rumbling?!” Angelique shrieked in a distraught tone. I felt the ground shaking and trembling, and the movement only increased. It became so bad that I almost fell on my ass, something which happened to a few other students. And then, nothing.
The entire plain was silent. Until about fifty mud dolls crawled up from underneath the green tapestry. They tore through the grass and dug themselves a way out. In a way, they looked like humans. Yet, they lacked life. Their eyes were empty and vacant, and their moves uncoordinated.
“This is an advanced Gaia-spell: Mud Army. They react just the same way as normal people, so fire away. However, if I see even one spell directed at one of your classmates, that person will have the first remedial study lesson to suffer through. Got it?!” Her voice sounded strict and unforgiving. Almost all students nodded. Only Lily didn’t: she only gave an uncaring shrug.
“Alright, these will be your targets. Let them have it!” With those words, Tanya stepped aside and left us to our own devices. While others were already making their own magic circles with relative ease, I was in a whole world of problems.
“Why can’t I--?!” For the tenth time, I tried creating a simple magic circle, suitable to launch one fireball. However, each time I tried going beyond the first step, the misty teeth would gobble it all up. I tried to keep it from eating up my magic circles, but the red-eyed monstrosity had no interest in obeying my orders. Or it was just that hungry. Each time it devoured a spell, it licked its misty maw and nodded at me. Was it… thanking me? , I asked myself. It’s polite, if nothing else.
“What’s the matter, Carnel?” Tanya walked towards me. Oh great, just what I needed : more pressure. I created another magic circle, only for it to fall apart again after I completed the first step.
“Interesting. Your Mark doesn’t allow you to use magic. Instead, it seems to prevent you from using any conventional spells. To be honest, Markings of the Unknown aren’t my speciality. I know someone who does, however. I’ll ask them if they know why you can’t use any magic circle and—Hey, watch out!” The teacher yelled. I turned around and saw a massive fireball stretch to the sky. At the base, a terrified Angelique covered her eyes. Her delicate, slimy squid-skin started to burn as the heat of the fireball scorched her.
“Get away from there!” Tanya yelled loudly. However, the seaweed-haired girl was too shocked to react. When the plume of fire almost reached two-hundred feet, it cascaded down. Towards me.
“Oh, shit!” I ran away, but the flames continued their chase. They were undeterred by the rocks, mud and leaves I threw at them as their heat continued to come closer and closer. Even the rocky pillars Tanya summoned didn’t stop their scorching advance. They just continued their destructive path, burning everything they come across to cinders.
“Cancel your magic circle, Angelique! Now!” Tanya yelled. I saw how the squid-girl tried to recall her magic circle, but it had no effect.
“This is for defying me earlier.” Suddenly, Lily’s voice cut through the carnage. My head snapped to the right, seeing the redhaired vixen along with a couple of mud dolls at her side. All of them had the same marking I noticed earlier in Lily’s eyes: it had to be her own Original Magic. She handed a metal canister to one of the mud dolls she had under her spell before sending all of them into the blazing inferno chasing me.
“You better think twice on defying me in the future.” She said in a poisonous tone. After that, she dashed away from me. I didn’t even have any time to react before the mud dolls reached the fire spell. Both exploded at the same time. The dolls were pushed away by the sheer force of the explosion, as was the sticky contents of the metal canister.
I felt the scorching heat of Angelique’s spell burn off some of my eyebrows. When I tried touching the remains of her spell, I noticed that my Mark , or rather the being associated with it, didn’t react at all. It must not like magic that’s been fully completed and on its way to its target., I reasoned. However, that was the least of my worries.
“Carnel, are you—Urgh, what’s that awful smell?!” The teacher quickly backed off after she ensured I didn’t have any wounds. Aside from some scars and burn marks, I wasn’t wounded. On the other hand, I saw how harshly Angelique’s fingers were burnt along with the rest of her arms. I guess that’s the effect fire has on squids…, I mused.
“Go wash yourself right now, young man. After that, go directly home to put on some new clothes. You are dismissed.” She announced. I grumbled and shot an angry glare at Lily. The redhaired vixen only winked before she stepped away. Did she know Angelique was going to freak out, or did she make it happen?, I asked myself.
No use worrying about that right now. I had to get this stinky goop off of me. I pushed myself on my feet and made my way over to the student’s quarters. Luckily, I didn’t encounter anyone. When I reached the student showers, I discarded my clothes. Judging from the stench, I doubted I’d ever get it out of my clothes.
I quickly stepped into the shower and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the goop disappearing along with the hot water. However, I didn’t pay close attention and reached upwards when I stretched. The magic circle providing me with hot water hovered right underneath the silver-coloured nozzle. I didn’t pay any attention, and noticed too late that the hungry being of my Mark started chomping down on the magic circle.
And gone was the warm water.
“Oh, come on!” I lamented. What a day…