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Echoes of the Mirror 1.1 ‘Mentality’
In this particular series, it should be noted that there is a heavy focus on sexual themes, violence, and traumatic events.
These are meant to challenge the main character's views on the world and his relationships.
That being said, If your someone who's okay with that, I'd really appreciate it if you want to check it out and leave some feedback.
It was a somewhat sunny day in the small worn-down town of Hira.
I found myself walking the cracked desolate sidewalk to school with anger and irritation written all over my face. Or at least this is what I assumed… All I knew is I was definitely not in a good mood and the companion at my side could probably tell from a mile away.
“You look like you want to kill someone Haku! What’s with the scary look?”
Planting herself firmly in front of me, Kira put her hands on her hips and began to give me a questioning glare. She was only 5’4 with a smaller bust, but even with me being 5’11 and average build, She barely left me enough room to breathe.
“What do you mean? You say it yourself, I always look like this!”
I pointed to my slender face with short black hair and green eyes.
Kira puffed out her cheeks and crossed her arms as her Hira High school uniform fluttered in the slight breeze.
“True... but this time it’s extra EXTRA evident! How do expect to make people like you this semester if it looks like you’re gonna’ beat em’ up?”
I clicked my tongue as I remembered what made me so pissed… Summer vacation was over. It wasn’t like my time off of school was filled with fun and wonder, but it sure as hell beat the alternative.
I adjusted the black blazer of my own uniform and shoved my hands into my freshly pressed pants pockets.
“Kira. I told you once, I told you a million times; This is a small town. If someone dislikes me, they’re going to find some reason to keep doing so.”
“With an attitude like that, I wonder why? Hmm?”
She gave me a smirk as she said this. Turning around, she began to walk again, this time with a certain pep in her step.
I let out a sigh of frustration. I knew she was just trying to have fun with me, but I was definitely not in the mood. The swagger that Kira walked with now only served to further that frustration.
Trying to keep up with her pace, I decided to offer a little comeback of my own.
“Not everyone can be a social butterfly and come from such a well known and liked family as you, ya’ know. I’d say that’s where over three-quarters of your fans come from.”
I felt bad saying that, but it’s true. She’s a beautiful girl with medium-long blonde flowing hair, blue eyes, and a bubbly/cutesy personality. However, to the saner of the few, she’s well… annoying.
She’s not stupid by any means, she’s actually the top student in her class, but it wouldn’t be a lie if I said most of the ‘friends’ she has at school are just trying to get as close to her as possible out of pure envy… She probably knows this as much as I do, but she’d much rather be friends with her enemies and competitors then tell them to back off.
As for her family, they own the local bookstore and general market. They’re known for their extreme acts of charity, donating almost all the profits they make to the community fund, and for being a family of very powerful and gifted summoners.
While the general populace finds their familiar or ‘pact spirit’ by the age of 15, the Nakajima’s have made it their sworn duty to become full-fledged summoners by the age of 8.
Honestly, I kind of looked up to Kira for being able to cope with so many expectations and yet remain so optimistic.
“I keep telling you, Haku, they’re called FRIENDS, not FANS dummy! Besides, you’re my friend so that must mean that I’m ULTRA SUPER likable!”
I let myself grin a bit. Sometimes she just left herself way too open...
“...Or it could just be the fact that you wouldn’t leave me alone ever since middle school. At this point, I’d say you’re the fine line between me having someone to socialize with and me talking to my bedroom lamp out of sheer lack of better options.”
After a short moment, Kira’s eyes began to tear up.
It seemed that my words were too much for her. As she screamed out, she began to run off and cut through another group of students walking on the sidewalk.
As I watched her turn down a corner at breakneck speed, I could only think of how laughably easy it was to hurt her feelings. Despite the fact that she’s an extremely gifted and powerful lightning-spirit user, her skin has always been paper thin when it comes to teasing.
I keep telling people that spar with her, that all they really need to do to avoid a trip down to the local clinic is to say that her skirt is dumb or call her stupid. Before they know it she’ll give up and take a month of therapy before she comes back to school.
My eyes widened and a feeling of anxiety swept across me as I heard the voice of an angry woman from behind me.
-Ah… It’s going to be one of those days…
“Did you drive Kira to the point of therapy again!?”
I turned around to see an angry brunette with a pixie cut. Her brown eyes were filled with the fire of rage and her fists were balled up tightly.
Narrowing my eyes, I sighed, put a hand in my pocket and turned around.
“First off, good morning to you too, Alex. Secondly, to answer your question, ‘only if vaguely comparing someone to a lamp can do so.’”
She let her fists relax and made her way towards me rolling her eyes.
“Honestly, Haku? If we’re lucky maybe she’ll only go to the guidance counselor for a couple periods.”
Alex… a wind-spirit user nicknamed ‘Hurricane’. If she had a superpower, it’d be being overly protective of Kira 24/7. She’s actually a really nice kind-hearted girl wrapped up in a 5’6 package with an average-sized bust, but if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m one of her very limited friends I’d be under the heavy suspicion that she’s a mob boss. Even in her cute school uniform, I’ve never seen anyone look so intimidating in a skirt with knee highs.
She already pummeled 3 freshmen this year for cat-calling and managed to convince them to tell the principle that they tripped in the shower… Scary. Beyond that, she’s never lost a single duel to any student that ever dared spar with her… So it’s easy to see why nobody ever gets in her way.
Of course, as per tradition, I needed to go through the process of justifying my actions to this dear friend of mine.
“I only teased her a bit. If I was nice to her all the time she’d break into my apartment and make me watch a 24-hour marathon of ‘Magical Moe Girls’ with her.”
Alex shuddered, likely engulfed in a sea of regret and PTSD.
“A-a-anyhow Haku… Would it kill you to lighten up a bit and play nice for once? We’re seniors and it’s the first day back from vacation! You already have it hard enough without making cute girls run away in terror from you.”
-Hmm? An opening. Hehehe.
I began to grin fiendishly.
“I haven’t seen you run away from me, Alex, and you’re pretty cute~.”
Her face went bright red and her eyes darted straight to the ground.
Her voice came out muttered and rushed.
She may be a rough and tumble type of girl, but I have to admit that seeing her all embarrassed and girlish was extremely cute.
Noticing I was admiring her, she quickly glanced up and started to speak.
“S-so… Have you finished your summer homework yet?”
My eyes widened as my newly found cheerful mood shattered into a million pieces. What little hopes I had of having an ‘okay’ first day of school rushed off into oblivion as I began to nervously scratch my head.
“Uuuuh. Define… Finish…?”
I winced as I prepared for the first wave of Alex’s verbal assault...
Her voice cut through the air, drawing the attention of several nearby students.
Glancing around nervously and putting my hands up in defeat, I tried to calm her down...
“I know... I know…”
...To no avail mind you.
Walking up to me with seemingly more anger than before, Alex jabbed a finger straight into my chest.
“Let me firmly remind you, Haku… That you have NO practical credits since you can’t find a familiar…if you don’t do your homework… YOU… CAN’T… GRADUATE… IDIOT!”
This…was very true.
I’m 19 and was held back a year specifically for this reason.
I mean, honestly, If it wasn’t for the fact that Kira begged me to come to school with her while she preemptively begged the Headmaster to let me enroll in Hira High (a summoner-only school mind you), I would NOT have this problem.
I get wanting a close friend to go to the same school as you, but everyone already got their familiar while they were still in middle school! It was beyond obvious that I didn’t belong at Hira High!
Letting out a breath, Alex seemed to have calmed down a bit.
“Kira really stuck her neck out for you ya’ know…”
I let out a sigh.
Despite the fact that I didn’t belong at Hira High, it also didn’t stop the fact that it was the ONLY school here… I may complain about my education quite a bit, but if it wasn’t for Kira I’d have an insane commute; The only other high school nearby was almost 5 hours away.
“Yeah… I know… It makes absolutely no sense mind you, but I know.”
Alex looked at me like I was the biggest idiot on the planet.
“Isn’t it obvious? She really likes you, Haku.”
Protagonist mentality aside, I was fully aware of this. I sabotaged one of many confessions that Kira had planned for me. With me being me and her being her, It would just never work out… I’m an outsider, a failed summoner, and to be frank a bit of an asshole. She’s super cute and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t extremely attracted to her, but she deserves better than anything I have to offer.
“I highly doubt that. I guarantee she was just hopped up on sugar and decided to go on a white-knight crusade.”
Alex rolled her eyes.
“Whatever you say…”
With the surrounding students no longer interested in our squabble, we decided to get back to walking. Soon enough, we approached the old wooden double doors of the maroon school building.
As we entered the school we found ourselves in a pretty average sized room of yellow stained tile surrounded by old rusted lockers.
Gently taking Alex’s hand, I pulled her off to the side to let the other students through.
Turning to her, I gave her an inquisitive look.
Kira was in the same class with me, but I hoped that after coming back from her study abroad program Alex would land in our homeroom, 4-B. I may play it off pretty well, but I really hate not being around my friends.
Trying not to show my disappointment, I just nodded with a smile.
“Nervous after being gone so long?”
I knew that she’d probably fine interacting with the other students, but I felt a twinge of nervousness for her. Outside of Hira, there was little to no room for a Magicka as archaic as summoning. For someone who lives entirely off the thrill of being a summoner, one would think that Alex would feel a bit held back for not being able to study it for so long.
To my surprise, she just smiled.
“Nah. If anything I’m ready to get back to practical studies! I may have learned more academically abroad, but I feel lost not being able to spread my wings!”
Stretching out like a bird, the pact-mark on her thigh began to glow as a small gust swept by us.
Tenacious as ever… God help the poor professor that has to be stuck with her.
“Anyhow, we should probably get going. I have to help my parents clean up the spare bedrooms at the house tonight since my cousins are coming to visit, but I’ll catch you tomorrow, okay Haku?”
I nodded politely and gave her a smile and wave as I headed off to class.
Hira High was lackluster to say the least.
It was a fairly large brick-built school built in the early 1900’s and had 20 or so large university-style classrooms built like small auditoriums. Of course, there was also a cafeteria and a few offices. Though the most important feature of this school is blatantly obvious… It’s a high school for summoners… One of the last ones standing in 2038 since summoning is essentially a dead branch of magic…
Magecraft is a much more useful and easy branch to learn since you’re just doing chants, using talismans and using background mana. This makes it one of the most practical branches with the only downside being that you need licensing to legally use it.
There’s also Sorcery which uses someone’s ‘Gate’ to connect their soul to the spirit realm and tap a manawell to use elemental magic. However, it should be said that this branch can’t really be taught since you need to be born with a Gate. Even then, both the amount of mana you can use and the elements you have access to all depends on the affinity you have with elements and gods.
Being a summoner, however, is all about the familiar. It’s kind of a misnomer since one doesn’t really ‘summon’ anything. Rather, once a person in Hira becomes a young adult, they go out and search the woods for a spirit that’s willing to make a pact. Once the spirit-pact is made, the familiar will be bound to the soul and allows one to use the elemental magic and mana it has. There’s also the added benefit of being able to ‘Call forth’ a physical manifestation of your familiar to fight for you… Though the usefulness of this is negligible in everyday life since summoning isn’t used militaristically and is used essentially only for sport nowadays.
The biggest downside to what would otherwise make this a decent branch of magic is that the odds are always stacked against you. There may be some technique and general knowledge that goes into summoning to make it more effective, but if you made a pact with a shitty spirit… Oh well... there’s no ending a spirit-pact… They’re bound to your soul until you die. Even if you found a strong familiar, there’s almost always a stronger one with a better element than the one you have.
It goes without saying that the small run-down, forgotten town of Hira along with Hira High is all about summoning.
Hira High teaches you all the basic academics that a normal high school does along with Magicka in the form of ‘Practical’ classes.
Due to some dispute thousands of years ago, mages and sorcerers are banned from Hira and are treated with animosity. Sadly, people who don’t practice summoning are treated just a few steps better than that, which is also a few steps better than being an outsider.
As I sit in one of the many seats in classroom 4-B towards the back I ponder this.
Hira may be my home, but I was born an outsider and due to the lack of a familiar, I can’t really ‘practice’ summoning.
While thankfully nobody treats me with any real animosity since I’m Kira’s friend and I’ve lived here for 11 years, I am blatantly ignored, which can get lonely at times.
I looked around the circular classroom and watched as people took notes on the professor's lesson.
“As you can see there is a significant difference between spirits in the Elemental Kingdom and the Demonica Kingdom so we can infer…”
-Yadda yadda yadda.
I find there’s almost no point in even listening. I never get called on and while I could do the basic coursework, I would only get graded on the practical parts of the class, so I’m going to fail anyway.
I lay my head on the table in front of me and watch as Kira raises her hand.
“What would happen if two summoners battled that had an Elemental and Demonica familiar?”
Adjusting his glasses, Professor Reid began to answer.
“Well as we mentioned, since Demonica spirits use a branch of magicka known as Necromancy (essentially Anti-Magic as you should all know), the necrotic summoner would die due to his prana (his life force essentially) being consumed completely by the demon he made a pact with.”
Kira tilted her head to the side in confusion. Obviously, she didn’t think that this answer was good enough.
“But what if…”
“ANYHOW, that’s not POSSIBLE as we all know, since in the town of Hira, there are no Demonica that can make a pact. It goes without saying that since Hira is one of the last summoner colonies, any further questions would be irrelevant.”
At this, everyone in the room went silent.
Professor Reid was very blunt when it came to his lessons. The way he retorts to questions he finds stupid makes it feels like you’ve been hit with a sledgehammer. Can’t blame him though, after working at Hira High for 32 years out of his 67 years of age, that would make anyone bear a countenance of death.
His bald head shined as he turned around and continued his lesson on the whiteboard.
I didn’t feel the need to learn any more about ‘the principles of magic and energy’ so I closed my eyes and managed to fall asleep.
Waking up, I noticed a super red-faced Kira less than a centimeter away from my face.
Realizing that I was awake, she jumped back and held her hands to over her face.
Wiping the sleep from eyes, I looked around only to find the classroom devoid of any students except for me and her.
“Huh? What’s going on? Is school over?”.
Still very much embarrassed by something, Kira just nodded her head.
I decided not to pry into why she was blushed since, after all, it IS Kira. So the answer would probably long-winded and uninformative.
“Did the bell just ring?”
She shook her head.
-Weird. Last time I fell asleep in class I woke up to 30 texts from Kira and Alex. Afterwards, I was welcomed by my phone telling me it was 3 AM… Wonder what woke me up then?
I was used to Kira standing over me so often that I’ve instinctively learned to ignore it, so I put the idea of that being the answer out of my head.
I stood up and stretched. Grabbing my school bag, I looked over to Kira and gestured for her to follow.
“Come on. Let’s go.”
Kira was full of energy as we left the school, blabbing about her day as always.
Stopping short, she gave me an annoyed look as she grabbed the hem of my blazer.
“Are you listening to me?”
Kira began to pout as she searched my eyes for the answer to her question.
It was time to put my ‘appease Kira’ skills to the test.
“Of course I am!”
I tried my best to hide the fact that I was lying.
“You were telling me about how great the first day back to was and how you made so many new friends.”
Processing my answer in her head for a moment, Kira accepted this as correct and gave me a smile.
“Good! You were listening!”
That... was extremely close… though it was kind of expected since that's always her main topic of discussion.
Releasing my blazer, Kira put her hands behind her back as we began walking again.
Tilting her head to the side, she gave me a hopeful look.
“What about you, Haku?”
“No new friends...”
Did she really expect anything different?
“...Though I did play a mean game of twister with the Sandman.”
“School is for learning not sleep, silly! How do expect to become a good summon-”
Her eyes lit up in horror as she realized what she was going to say.
She hit a sore spot and she knew it. I was on the verge of getting pissed, but I stomached it since I knew she only had a slip of tongue.
She calmly put a hand on my arm and looked at me with guilt written across her face.
Her face was extremely sincere.
-Oh, come on… Don’t look at me like that…
I gave her a weak smile.
“No… It’s fine, Kira.”
We began to walk a short distance before Kira suddenly grabbed my hand.
“Oh! Umm… I know! Let’s go to my place and watch Magical Moe Girls! That always helps my mood!”
“I’ll um pass… I have to go back to my apartment and clean anyhow, so I’ll take a raincheck on that one.”
I smiled on the inside, confident that I avoided a great tragedy.
Kira pressed a finger to the side of her face and thought a moment. I could see the gears in her head turning.
“We should go to your place and watch it then!”
I looked off to the side, trying to hide the nervous look on my face.
“But it would be very distracting if you came.”
“I’ll help you clean! I promise!”
There was a pleading sound in her voice as she began tugging at my hand.
“I also have homework...”
I could tell that my voice was becoming desperate. This, however, didn’t even seem to put a dent in Kira’s conviction.
“There’s no homework on the first day of school though!”
-This is bad.
“Haku… you live alone. Everyone knows that… especially me.”
Obviously, her unbridled intelligence is going to be the death of me.
“I HAVE TO GO TO WORK!”
“But you just said you need to go home and clean… You aren’t trying to avoid me, are you, Haku?”
I could see tears beginning to well in her eyes.
It appears I’ve been bested… I have no choice but to bring her home with me. If I turn her down and tell her I don’t want to hang out, it’ll come to the point that her therapy bills will build into an unsurpassable mountain of debt that will destroy her future… The violent images in my head of Alex busting down my door and breaking my arms due to the ‘psychological abuse’ I inflicted on her dear friend are pretty convincing as well.
Putting my hands up in defeat, I gave her a weak smile.
Kira’s eyes lit up as she bounced up and down in one spot like an excited puppy.
Her arms shot up and made the ‘victory’ sign.
“But no Moe Girls, okay?”
Clasping my hands together, I gave her a slight bow with a pleading sound in her voice.
It seemed that she needed a moment to process this request as her eyes narrowed and looked off into the distance.
Finally, she smiled at me and tilted her head.
-Phew… another catastrophe avoided.
As we began to leave the school grounds, I took in the surrounding scenery.
The school was indeed somewhat large for what it was, but it lacked the simple things that most other school buildings had in the country, such as a courtyard, gymnasium, or auditorium. Any sport or academic-related event that required a large area took place at the field which was only a short ways away.
When leaving the school there was only a simple wide path that only stretched out a few meters, but given the number of students that Hira High had, anything more would have just been unnecessary.
The town of Hira itself was just as unimpressive. We only had the most basic of stores, with all of them being made out of the same dark maroon brick as every other building here. Even the streets were bland…they were just an array of sun-bleached asphalt that cracked in several places due to not having any type of communal road work. Altogether it looked like a small mining town built in the 1800's that was forced to comply with modern-day standards.
Despite this, it was kinda’ comforting. Most of the residents lived quietly by themselves above the small shops they owned, or they lived in their cozy houses on the west side of town, which in retrospect to the rest of the town, wasn’t even a mile away.
As Kira and I walked down the sidewalk we saw the odd couple or two sweeping their storefronts getting ready to close for the day.
I looked over at the girl to my right and noticed she had a huge smile on her face… I felt a twinge of jealousy at how carefree her life seemed.
Here I was, essentially one of her only few friends that actually cared about her, and she seemed to be elated by just accompanying me. It was almost inhuman how she could just ignore the world for a moment and embrace the likes of my company with genuine happiness.
I turned my head and scowled, careful not to catch her attention.
And here she was… The shining jewel of Hira… Standing next to an outcast and failed-summoner that no one wanted to acknowledge.
I couldn’t really complain though, I may have been ignored for most of my time in Hira, but I was never really abused. Ironically, most of the larger main families in the town accepted me as-is...When I left the small group home that I was essentially raised in, it was the Nakajima’s that offered to rent me the single bedroom flat above their bookstore.
As Kira and I began to reach the end of the block, she excitedly jumped up and down clapping her hands.
“Yay! We’re almost at Haku’s!”
We took the corner off School St. and quickly found ourselves in front of the quaint corner bookstore.
We went around back through a small alley, climbed a small wooden staircase and let ourselves inside the apartment.
Stepping through the threshold, Kira and I began to take off our shoes.
Suddenly, a look of realization flashed across Kira’s face.
With her shoes finally off, Kira began to look around my apartment as she made her way through my living room to my black leather couch.
“I thought I was going to help you clean... Your apartment is actually pretty neat already…”
-Crap. I completely forgot about that lie.
“Oh. Uh… I must have cleaned it yesterday and it completely slipped my mind.”
Kira’s eyes narrowed as she looked deep into my eyes.
“...Oh? Is that so?”
I nervously nodded my head.
With a huge smile, Kira accepted this and began to snuggle herself violently into my couch.
Letting out a sigh of relief, I took our blazers and put them up on the hooks by the front door and made my way to the kitchen to start making dinner.
It may seem odd to anyone outside of this town, but school days are extremely long here due to the summoning aspect of things. A good 3 hours of the day was set aside specifically for practical classes, so by the time we get to leave it’s already 5:40 PM.
As I started frying up some vegetables in a pan I heard a loud growl from Kira’s stomach.
Startled, I looked into the living room to see her with an embarrassed look on her face, scratching her head.
“Umm... S-sorry Haku… I guess I may have skipped lunch.”
this seems to be a common theme with Kira.
Raising an eyebrow, I lifted the pan I took out and pointed to it.
“Should I make some extra for you to bring tomorrow?”
She nodded excitedly.
Obviously, she was trying to accentuate her cuteness as much as possible...
I swear the only reason why she ever hangs out with me after school is so she can snag a free meal… Though this is a small price I’m willing to pay for her company.
I took a container out of the cabinet and set it on the counter.
As I continued making a stir fry I could hear Kira go into the bathroom and get in the shower.
Muttering to myself I began to shake my head.
I can’t blame her for wanting to get showered at this time of day, but an average person would at least have her priorities straight and take a shower AFTER eating.
I stepped out of the kitchen and knocked on the bathroom door.
I could hear her humming to herself beyond the door.
-She must not have heard me.
I made my way into the bedroom and reached into my closet to grab a bright pink backpack filled with several articles of her clothing.
Kira has a really bad habit of treating my apartment like she lives here. It isn’t abnormal for her to spend the night after coming over to help me study or hang out… With Hira High being as physically demanding as it can be with its practical courses, every time Kira comes over she’s almost always exhausted. I keep telling her not to come over on school days but she keeps insisting it doesn’t matter.
It eventually got to the point where I convinced her to leave a bag of clothing here since she makes an extremely bad habit of falling asleep on my couch. This wouldn’t be a problem for most people, but it was impossible to wake her up! A person would have better luck trying to wake the dead than her!
I walked over to the bathroom door and knocked again.
“You forgot to bring your change of clothes with you again, so I’m coming in to leave your bag okay?”
Once again no answer.
-Oh, come on...
I opened the door, walked in and placed the bag on the floor.
As I lifted my head up I saw a naked Kira staring at me with a flushed face, mouth gaping.
She made no attempt to cover herself as she stood there in pure shock.
My mind blanked. I couldn’t manage to move my body as I took in the full sight of Kira’s glistening slender body.
Making an ‘O’ face I quickly tried to break the tension. Pointing to the bag at my feet, I tried to be as nonchalant as humanly possible.
“I-I-I umm… b-b-brought your bag…”
My body convulsed and was thrown into the air as a bottle of shampoo made full force contact with my forehead…
I saw Kira desperately trying to find something to cover herself as I hit the floor with a thud, losing consciousness.
I peeled myself off the bathroom tile and stumbled my way into the living room to find Kira standing in front of me dressed in a pair of yellow kitty pajamas, vigorously apologizing.
“I-I-I’m s-s-sorry Haku! Y-you r-really surprised me and umm…”
She couldn’t seem to stop herself from tripping over her own words.
“I-It’s not like I’m unhappy that you w-wanted to see me n-naked… but umm…”
Kira continued to ramble as she hugged herself, almost as if protecting herself from a hungry pack of wolves.
-Just what type of person does she exactly take me for?
“I-I tried to knock-”
“A-anyhow Haku, i-if that's w-what you really w-want all you h-have to do is ask... “
It seems her mind is spiraling rather pervertedly…
“B-but u-umm… ANYHOW, Haku! I umm... finished making d-dinner… so uh… please forgive me!”
She finished with an apologetic bow and a flushed face.
I tried to explain to her it was just a misunderstanding, but it seemed her mind was on autopilot as she whipped around the kitchen serving dishes muttering something about ‘marriage’ and ‘purity’.
After this event had passed and we finished dinner, I got up off the couch and started to pick up our dishes.
I turned my head around as I walked to the kitchen to ask if Kira wanted me to walk her home…
“Oh hey, Kira-”
Kira had sprawled out her entire body on the couch like a starfish and was already fast asleep, snoring loudly…
-Yup. Looks like you’re staying the night…
I placed the dishes in the kitchen sink, walked over to the couch and gently placed a blanket over the lifeless Kira.
Giving a small sarcastic wave over my shoulder I began to walk towards my bedroom.
“Well… Goodnight, I guess…”
I screamed like a girl as I shot up out of bed and clutched my blanket towards my chest.
In front of me on all fours was a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Kira, staring at me with bright blue eyes and a wide smile.
I desperately surveyed my surroundings, making sure that nothing uh… ‘important’ was showing.
“Huh, did you see something scary Haku?”
She looked around the room and tilted her head back at me.
-Yes. Yes, I did. Something absolutely terrifying…
“I was just… Surprised…”
“A-anyhow! What did I tell you about waking me up like that!?”
Kira rolled upside down on top of me and put a finger to the side of her mouth and thought.
“To not to?”
I slumped my shoulders and gave a *sigh*...
-I guess it can’t be helped.
“Whatever… Can you please leave for a moment so I can get dressed?”
Kira made a pouty face but left without the room without any complaints.
I quickly put on my black school uniform and straightened my tie as I left my room.
I was greeted by a smiling Kira who handed me my school bag.
Strangely enough, this had me feeling optimistic about what my day had in store.
-Alright. Time to greet the day!
I walked over to the front door to open it and-
Leaning against the threshold of the door giving me a slight wave was Alex.
-On second thought maybe not.
Alex clicked her tongue and scowled as she stood up and straightened her skirt.
“I thought I would have gotten you this time…”
“Yeah? Well, unfortunately, Kira already-”
“BEAT YOU TO IT, ALLY!”
Kira ran past me with a huge smile and joined her friend’s side.
Alex gave a disappointed sigh and furrowed her eyebrows.
“Seriously, Kira? Slept over at Haku’s again? Do your parents even remember you anymore?”
Alex pointed her gaze to the jubilant Kira, in response, she just tilted her head with a smile.
Alex was well aware of Kira’s habit of falling asleep at my house… While she was never necessarily ‘angry’ per se, she did STRONGLY disapprove of girls sleeping over at a boy’s house, stating on several occasions it was ‘shameless’. This seemed to be a perspective she picked up over the past year.
My mind gently glanced over a past memory.
The three of us quickly found ourselves walking the sidewalk to school. While Kira was skipping in front of me humming a happy tune, Alex was at my side critiquing me on my habit of not paying attention to my practical courses.
“Haku, how do expect to be able to use or understand any elemental arts if you keep ignoring your practical studies?”
Her eyes pierced my soul as she walked beside me.
I placed my hand in my pockets, obviously disinterested.
I already long gave up the idea of being able to actually find a familiar… I’ve tried many times to find one, but every time I approached an elemental spirit, it would just attack or run away. My last attempt ended with a trip to the local clinic after I approached a fire spirit… It was distressing. I didn’t even care what type of spirit it was anymore, I just wanted one. Yet for some reason, what would normally be easy for literally anyone else on the continent was just impossible for me.
Alex looked at me with a sudden sad expression… She knew very well I didn’t enjoy this subject.
She let out a sigh and gave up her assault.
“Are you at least going to come and watch the sparring match today?”
She looked at me with a hopeful expression and a somewhat pleading sound in her tone of voice.
I try to keep my distance from anything summoning/magic related, but I do try to show my support for my friends any way I can. It was the second day back from school, and Alex already challenged one of the other seniors from 4-A to a match.
I slumped my shoulders and shook my head.
“For as often as you chew me out about school Alex, you have an awfully bad habit of picking fights with people…”
Alex seemed genuinely insulted by this. She stepped out in front of me, cutting me off, as she clenched her fists.
“It’s not like I pick fights and beat people up!”
-I find it ironic because that's precisely what you do.
“It’s called practice! You know? Like studying? That thing that you never ever do?”
I clenched my teeth and threw Alex a murderous look. This time I was insulted!
I may have flunked a year by a couple credits, but she knows better than anyone that I had to pass the past few years by acing almost every academic class I had! Just because I don’t find any meaning in that worthless practical studies class, doesn’t mean that I’m not otherwise a good student! I mean, there have been times that I’ve been known blow-off home assignments, but it’s not like I go home and just shove my face into a pile of manga!
“Hey! For your information, I do in fact-”
“Whatever… I get it. Sorry. I just want to know if you’re coming or not.”
Alex cast a sideways glance towards the ground as she grabbed the hem of her skirt with white knuckles.
-Looks like it actually means a lot to her… I guess it can’t be helped.
Giving her a look of defeat, I let out a sigh.
Alex grinned widely as she released the grip from her skirt.
“East side of town, the field, right next to the old shrine. We’ll be going at it about half an hour after school.”
Alex tilted her body and gave a smile.
-For someone so pushy, she can be pretty cute when she wants to be.
Alex peered over at Kira.
“You’re coming too, right Kira?”
Kira scratched her head with an apologetic expression.
“I can’t. Sorry... I have to help my mother and father unload the new stock at the bookstore today.”
Finishing this, Kira gave a small bow. In response, I looked over at her in confusion.
“Wait, doesn’t that mean I should be there too? After all, I do work there…”
Kira just smiled and dismissed this with a wave of her hand.
“It’s fine. It’s your day off. You worked hard all summer. Besides, I think Alex would be very upset if you didn’t come to her match.”
Alex confirmed this fact by giving me a thumbs up and a smirk.
-looks like there’s no getting out of this one…
I had an uneasy feeling all throughout the school day…
Luckily I managed to be at least a little productive and hand in summer vacation homework, but beyond that, I just couldn’t concentrate. If I had to be honest with myself, I’d say that watching matches made me a bit envious, though mainly I just found them terrifying.
Thinking about two high-class summoners attacking each other… What if one of them misses and hits me? It’s not like I can do anything. I don’t have a spirit that will step in the way and block the attack like the others.
Honestly, I don’t even see why it’s so important to Alex that I even show up. I can’t congratulate her on her techniques since I don’t even know what’s considered ‘good’ or ‘proper’... I’m so oblivious to the knowledge surrounding magic, that even if she loses I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference.
I walked out of the school feeling self-pity.
Remembering that I was on a time frame, I stared at the sky as it started to darken and pulled out my phone to look at the time.
I still had 25 minutes until the match and it takes only about 10 to get to the field if I take the side streets. I decided that I would walk the main street to kill a little time and hopefully settle down a little.
As I walked along the sidewalk I thought of how lonely it was without Kira or Alex by my side. I kept thinking that if they were to stop being my friends, it would be a lot like living in the group home again…
When I was only about 8 my father and I were driving through this town on our way to Nashta, the capital of the continent we live on. He decided that we would stay the night here at the inn since it was late and the city was about 5 hours away from here by car.
The town seemed angry that we were here, but they didn’t show any hostility towards us since we were just travelers. However, when I woke up in the morning, my father was nowhere to be found… The townspeople were nice enough in the beginning and tried contacting the nearest authorities, but no one knew where my father could have gone.
After a few days, learning that I had no living relatives, the main families came together and decided I would be the newest addition to the town of Hira. While some did disagree with this, Akari Matsumoto, the head of the largest main family in Hira said this:
“Too long we have found ourselves stagnant, without any new additions to our small community. We are all of a like mindset- “Do not let those who do not know of us tarry here”. However, we have few children. If we go long enough without any new blood, it will not be long before we become inbred. This small boy is without any family. We must not let ourselves forget we want to be known as a gentle and kind community. Let this boy walk with us, and bear the ancient title of summoner.”
After that, I was put into the local group home for those under the age of 16.
I had no friends. No family. I was all alone and bullied.
It wasn’t until I met Kira, and stopped a group of kids from teasing her in middle school that I was actually able to make my first friend. After that, people stopped bullying me.
“He’s a friend of the Nakajima’s.”
That’s all they would say.
From that point on I was just ignored. Treated the same as the cherry blossom trees that littered our streets here and there… A piece of scenery.
As I walked down the sidewalk on the main street with my hands in my pockets, I saw old lady Yamada struggling to bring in a few signs outside of her antique store.
I hate seeing people struggle, so I quickly crossed the street and approached her.
“Oh, Haku! Thank you so much!”
I nodded with a smile as I took the other side of the large discount sign that she held.
“I’m happy to help out.”
Bringing the sign inside the store, I walked back outside and helped her bring in three smaller signs. Finished with the job, I exited the store and let the elderly woman close for the day.
Locking the door, she turned towards me and gave me a smile as she placed her hands behind her hunched back.
“You see, that’s the problem with most kids nowadays. So stuck up in their own life and mindset that they can’t even see an old lady struggle… But not you. You’re a good boy.”
I chuckled a bit and smiled politely.
“Well I have my own troubles too, but I try to lend a hand if I have the power to do so.”
My eyes widened as I realized that I was forgetting something important.
Frantically searching my person, I pulled out my phone.
-6:05!? The match is in five minutes!
Shoving the phone back into my pocket, I gave Miss Yamada a small bow.
“Sorry, I just remembered that I have to be somewhere soon!”
Turning around, I prepared to sprint to my destination-
“Oh! Haku, before you go…”
Almost stumbling, I turned around to see Miss Yamada with a serious expression looking at the sky.
“It would be wise of you to abandon a part of your own mentality tonight...”
I looked at her with a confused expression.
-What could she possibly mean about my mentality? If she means my eagerness to get to the field before the match started she’ll be sorely disappointed!
She turned her gaze to me with a sullen face.
“The trees are anxious tonight… Change is around us...”
I wasn’t much on superstition, but I could tell she was being serious… Though ‘change’ is a pretty vague word...
“...around you Haku. I’m afraid if you make a decision tonight, with the mindset and mentality you currently have, you won’t be able to turn back…”
“What do you mean-”
Changing her expression back to a smile, she looked at me with kind eyes and stopped me short.
“Don’t you have somewhere to be Haku? Hmm? Don’t tarry here any longer, I bet you have a friend waiting for you, and you’ve already helped me here.”
I wanted to find out exactly what she meant… But being late to Alex’s would lead to a fate worse than death.
I gave Miss Yamada a bow and took off to the field.