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   Chapter 5 NO.5

Novus Magus [Immortal Sun Mist Emperor 1] By ImperialSun Characters: 15477

Updated: 2018-01-15 18:22


-"Saying Goodbye is often the hardest thing to do. But sometimes it must be done."

[Eight Days prior to the test]

"Morning mom!" Alto said as he pulled up his seat.

A chocolate brown skinned woman with long, wavy cyan hair placed a bowl of oatmeal in front of him. "Morning kiddo. Ready for another day of tutoring?"

Alto stared at the oatmeal, eyes solemn.

His mother sat down next to him and leaned in closely. "What's with that reaction? You're acting as if someone died."

The blue-head flashed his mother a smile. "It's nothing. I'm just tired. That's all." He moved his thick, gooey oatmeal around bowl.

His mother stood up. Her cyan eyes stared him up and down. "Is that so? Then how about I tutor the kiddos today? You can go ahead and take the day off."

"No!" he yelled, his eyes on her. He bit his lip and glanced back at his warm meal. "I'll do it."

The woman took a deep breath and put her arms on her curvy hips. "Son. You're thinking of going to Kyuu Seishin. Aren't you? It's fine if you want to go. Your father and I won't hold you back. And you know that I enjoy having the kiddos around."

He smiled at his mother. She always did love having kids around. He was sure that he would've had more siblings if it weren't difficult for his parents. And he certainly wouldn't mind having several younger siblings to take care of, or even have several more older siblings to look up to and want to outdo. Alas, they only managed to procreate his older brother and him.

"I do." He took a bite of oatmeal, allowing its soft, warm, gooey texture to fill his taste buds. "It's delicious. Like always."

His mother chuckled. "Thanks. Glad that you like it. Hopefully it has relieved your troubles at least a little."

Alto continued to smile. He nodded. "Thanks mama." He hugged her tightly. "You're the best."

Her long, slender fingers combed his hair back as her motherly warmth wrapped around the young man. "I'll miss you, kiddo."

He looked up at her eyes. "I'm not leaving yet. I haven't even decided, " he said, letting go of her. "So don't say good-bye just yet!" He returned to munching down his oatmeal.

"Slow down or you're going to choke." Alto put his bowl down and turned toward the entrance of the kitchen. Rolling in on a wheel chair was a handsome dark-skinned man with medium long crimson hair.

Alto's punched his chest, trying to get the food to go down. "Got...got ya."

The man snickered. "So what's the rush? Got a date with a pretty girl or something?"

Alto grabbed his bowl and stood up to place it into the empty sink. "I'm going to go give what might just be my last lesson to the kids. At least until my next vacation."

His father crossed his arms over his chest and smiled proudly. "You sure took after your mother. You're nothing like the heartless old me."

The son rolled his eyes. "Dad. You're not heartless. If you were then brother and I would likely have daddy issues."

The father let out a belly laugh. "True. True. Though, you do wish to defeat me, right?"

Alto gave him a smug smile. "Of course. I hope that one day my legacy can surpass that of the 'Crimson Soldier'."

His father winced upon hearing that name. The look on his eyes changed. It was as if the man was being taken into a bygone era. "I just hope that your legacy isn't one filled with as much blood and death as mine was."

He stared at his father's pained eyes. They were wise looking despite his appearance, and not only because his dad was actually in his forties. No, his dad could only hope that it was age that gave his red eyes their appearance.

"I'll aim for one like my older brother's, " Alto said, grinning. He placed a hand on his father's shoulder. His smile gave way to a frown. "Sorry. I didn't mean to churn old memories from their slumber."

His father shook his head. "Apologize not, child." He placed a hand over his tired eyes. It was as if all of the dark parts of his life were suddenly flashing before his eyes. "These memories are ever present. Whether you or anyone else stirs them, or not. They will forever follow. That's why you mustn't be so quick to rush into conflict, son."

The blue-head let go of his father. "I'll... try." I really should take that to heart. He gulped as he remembered last night once more. I nearly killed someone the other day.

His father tried his best to give the boy an assuring smile. Alto avoided looking at him, not wanting to be reminded of the pain he caused his father, even if he claimed that it wasn't his fault.

"Though I wish for you live a life without regrets. Fight to protect those you hold dear, " the man said, rolling his chair closer to his wife.

"I will, " Alto said, rushing out of the kitchen. Or at least I'll try to.

"Wait, Alto, " his father called out.

Alto spun on his heals and saw his father toss him an empty milk jug from the table. "Could you toss that into the recycling bin? The garbage collector will be coming later this morning."

Raising the jug, Alto smiled as he turned it upside down. The indents of the plastic gallon along with the opening reminded him of a gas mask. "I got a better idea. Bye!"

***

"Hey!" Ulissis said, waving at Alto as he stepped out of the apartment complex. He was wearing his usual white hoodie despite the blistering heat. Though perhaps it was for the best, given how he was susceptible to sunburn.

"Hey, " Alto said, avoiding looking at him directly. Is he going to pressure me to make a choice like Arima too?

He slipped his pale hand into the pockets of his coat. "Don't worry, " he said calmly. "I won't pressure you to come." His red eyes shifted toward the weed covered sidewalk. "I might stay here too. So if you wish to go then do so. I can take over the tutoring."

Alto stared at him in awe. "I thought that you were excited at the chance to finally awaken your powers."

He gazed at the clear azure sky. "True. But perhaps I have no powers to awaken. It would be a waste for me to venture all the way to Wahkan, only to find out that I am like my father. A non-mage." His hands were curled into fists. "I..."

Alto cross his arms and stared at his friend with a stern expression. "Waiting it out to know the truth and holding onto that hope... may be more painful down the line. Don't you hate not knowing?"

Ulissis glared at his friend, sending shivers down the blue-haired boy's spine. "You too. Huh?"

The blue head shook his head at him. "What did you want me to say? That you for sure have magic? Come on. You know me. I can't lie to you. Nor can Arima. Try to be honest with yourself."

He grunted. "What do you know? You've had magic all your freaking life! Your entire family is made up of mages! You don't know how my life has been, having no magic at all!" he screamed at his face.

Alto glanced away. "Most of this town is made up of non-mages. Magic in Sefa is slowly dying. There's nothing to be ashamed of. You're the one who claimed from a young age that you were a mage. Everytime you tried to prove it, you failed. Yet, despite the many warnings from Arima and me, you continued. That's what resulted in people bullying you."

A fist knocked Alto out of the sidewalk and into the street. The blue-head glanced up at the furious Ulissis as tears ran down the red-head's face. "So..."

The lightning mage jumped to his feet and punched his friend back.

Ulissis blocked his punch and hit him in the stomach with a reverse. Alto clumped to the floor, spitting out saliva. "Sorry. I..."

Alto glanced up and smiled. "You. Really. Do. Love to play. The role. Of the wimp." His feet shook as he tried to stand up.

"Here, " Ulissis said, holding his hand o

ut toward him. Alto accepted the hand and stood up. "Sorry. I didn't mean to hit you. It was just instinct."

The blue-head chuckled light-heartedly. "I know. And my punch was meant to knock you out of your self-pitying."

"You guys sure love to communicate through your fists." Behind the two stood Arima, wearing a white tank top and skirt. "Ready to greet the kiddos one last time?"

Ulissis and Alto both glanced at once another. Unsure about what they should do. Go with Arima and try to fulfill their dreams of becoming stronger mage. Well, become a mage in the case of Ulissis. Or to stay home.

Alto let out a deep sigh. "I'm still thinking, " the blue-head confessed, keeping his eyes on the dull grey street ahead. Nearly every building in his part of town was boring to look at. If only there were more color to it. The few color there was on the architecture sadly came from graffiti plastered on walls by notorious gangs. Aban's gang wasn't even one of those so called dangerous gangs. Aban's group were like children playing pretend in comparison...

But luckily Alto and his older brother had managed to keep their part relatively safe over the past few years. Only morons like Aban's gang dared to enter now in days.

"Hey, what's with that milk jug?" Arima asked. "Should you recycle that?"

Alto smiled at it. "This? I am thinking of making a little something for a kids out of it. All I need will be string, a few scissors, and some decorations."

"I got string, " Ulissis said, pulling some out of his white jacket.

"There should be decorations like feathers and stuff at the school, " Arima said. She stopped and squatted down to pick up a shard of green glass. "Hmm, we could also use these. We'll just need to wash them and polish the edges to make them like beads."

"Ohh, I remember we used to make necklaces like that!" Ulissis said as his worries seemed to dissolve into the wind. "Aban used to... polish them for us..." He lowered his head. "That guy sure changed, didn't he?"

Alto nodded solemnly, walking on ahead as if someone closed to him had died.

"Alto!" several high pitch voices echoed at once.

Alto glanced up. Several children around the ages of four and five waited for the three at them by a row of heavily fenced houses with plywood where windows should be. Even the plywood itself had plywood over it as if something had broken through it at one point.

"Alto!" one of the children yelled once more, waving at them. He had hair as black as jet.

"Hey, kiddo, " Alto said, walking over to him and ruffling his hair. "Ready for your lesson kiddos?"

"Yeah!" all of the kids yelled with smiles on their face.

"Today we'll be having class at the shattered magic school!" Arima yelled.

"Which one?" one of the kids asked. She had bright blue hair and a face that reminded Alto of his mother. The similarity wasn't a coincidence. She was the daughter of his older brother. Though he still hadn't had the chance to meet the girl's mother. It seemed that she had an important position in the government of some kind.

"We're going to the closest one of course, " Arima said in her most upbeat voice. "Follow me everyone!" The children followed her as if they were part of a marching band.

"Arima sure has a way with kids, " Ulissis said, chuckling.

"She sure does, " Alto said as he joined the kids and his friend. I'll miss her.

"Uncle?" the blue-head girl asked, staring back at him. "Are you feeling well?"

Alto ran over and ruffled her hair. "I'm perfectly fine! Filled with energy as always."

She sighed. "Uncle's a bad liar. That's what papa told me."

He feigned an indignant gasp. "How dare he... I'm a... Alright, I'm bad at lying. Though, perhaps that's for the best." He let go of her head and watched Arima continue to lead the kids toward the old school. It was one of several in the area that were closed due to lack of magic. In fact, all private schools in the country were closed. All of them required one to pay vast sums of money. The chances of a kid like any of them getting into one was near zero.

Unlike Nine Petal Academy, they lacked meritocratic ways of entering. So even if Alto were the best mage, without money they wouldn't allow him in. That's why there existed in Sefa a saying that went, 'Those with money have the best kind of magical power."

Alto sighed just thinking about it. If only there were a way to have it both ways. To stay in his country and get to study magic.

***

Before Alto knew it, the day had quickly gone by. He stared at rays of the setting run as they poured in through the clear mosaic windows, long devoid of their vibrant and diverse colors by the effects of time. The only reason that the place still stood was because its builders had used sturdy materials that aged well.

Alto raised the plastic mask which he and the children had put together. They had used the green glass as a gem for the 'feather crown'. The children had made it in the fashion of the masks of Wahkan... they must've been inspired by the various stories that Arima had shared with them about the place. A place with Arima herself hadn't had the chance to visit, yet.

"Well everyone, " Arima said, commanding the attention of their young students. "There's something that I haven't told us. This might be the last day that we're together like this for a while. You will all be beginning kindergarten in a few days, and we will be going off to high school-"

"We can still meet up the day after, " said Jet, the boy with hair as dark as the namesake stone.

Arima gave him a sad look. "In Kyuu Seishin, most likely, " she finished.

"Where's that?" several of the kids asked, glancing at once another.

We really should have taught them geography. "It's to the southwest, " Alto responded for her.

"Kyuu Seishin, " Alto's niece said, tapping her small head. "Ah! That's where mommy and daddy went to school!"

Her uncle nodded. "Yes. And that's...." He remembered the white-haired woman's words. About how going there will allow him to control his magic better; so that he wouldn't nearly kill someone by accident. "Where the three of us are going."

Arima and Ulissis exchanged surprised glances.

"You're leaving us?" Jet said, his eyes and those of the other kids growing teary. Some of them even had tears already rolling down their face.

"No!" several of the kids cried.

"Yeah, " Ulissis responded, his red eyes watery. "We will be back during the holiday, though. I hope that all of you can show us what you've learned when we return."

"My mother will be teaching you after school in our place. So you'll be learning a lot more than you are now with only us tutoring you."

The kiddos nodded.

"We'll learn a ton!" Jet yelled, grinning through tears. "Oh yeah, you can keep that mask, right guys?"

"Yeah!" they all said as if part of a choir.

Alto felt his heart ache watching the eyes of the kids start to water. He brought his newly made mask up against his face as his own emotions overflowed. "And we'll show you everything that we learn too!" he responded, closing his eyes. "Hopefully by then some of you will have awaken the ability to use magic."

"Yeah!" Jet said, raising a tiny fist to the air. "I'll awaken my powers and become even stronger than you!"

Alto could only chuckle at such a remark. Lowering his mask, he said, "You sure got the guts. Look forward to seeing if you got the skills or not."

Jet snickered. "Same goes for you, teach!"

**Solar Note: Thanks for reading, don't forget to vote and perhaps even comment if you enjoyed it :). Next Episode signals the start of the journey to Wahkan! Look forward to it ^_^**

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