Chapter 2a

January 15, 2007

Yes, same like before. Wordcount: 718

The grass swayed in the wind. Big, white fluffy clouds raced across the sky, chasing each other, sometimes obscuring the hot afternoon sun. Birds flew low, looking for cover. The field, which had been filled moments before, was empty.

She sighed. This was a perfect day to be outside, but she was stuck here instead. A book lay open in front of her, forgotten. Instead, her eyes drank in the sight of outside the library’s windows. The silence of the library gave her the illusion that she was alone here, allowing her to be lost in her daydreams. A small bird took off from the ledge outside the window, flying beautifully, as though suspended for a moment in mid-air. For a moment, she simply stared at the bird, gliding with no effort to one of the trees outside the building. The spell was broken when the bird flapped it’s wings.

She let out another sigh.

“Sukina-sempai…” a pair of her kohai, or juniors, came up to her. Turning away from the window reluctantly, she turned to the two juniors with a “I’m-not-quite-here” look. She gestured to the chairs in front of her; telling them to sit without words. They declined her request politely, in a manner that marked them as being daughters of a nobleman. Nobility was rare these days.

“She has requested your presence in her office,” they told her. She thanked them and got up, leaving the book untouched.

~~~~~

“Ms Shuan will see you now,” the young man nodded at her as she sat on hard chair outside the office.

She whispered a soft thank you to the man and entered the office. It was a small room, enough to hold two wooden filing cabinets in warm shades of oak and a bookcase with various reading materials. If it were not for the woman sitting at the table, she would have enjoyed this room, for it reminded her of the places her sister used to read. The headmistress was sitting at her desk, writing something. Her voice was short and clipped when she told the student to stand, who obeyed her silently. After a few more moments, the headmistress put the papers away and looked up, leaning back in her chair.

“There will be a tournament tonight at the usual place. Your opponent is Masamichi from the La’Crosse Academy. His most famous skill is the Daggers of Fire, though he prefers melee over magic. Here’s his file,” the folder was rather thin.

“I understand.” She took the file from the headmistress.

“This is one fight we cannot afford to lose, Toriyama-san. You are the prize,” the thin, prim woman grabbed her hand and stared at her. The girl stared back at her, in a cold manner. She let the student’s hand go.

“I understand perfectly, Ms Shuan.” She took her leave of the headmistress. Her movements were accurate; from holding the file in front of her to the side, and then opening the door with not a single sound.

The headmistress watched the girl leave. She had no doubts that Toriyama Sukina was a perfectly able young woman, but the girl had more fire than one would have expected. Her movements were perfect, her manners were impeccable and her grades were among the top of her class. As she was from a family of Priests, one would have expected her to be groomed to take her place in the family business, but no one in her family had seen fit to rein in the girl’s ambitions.

She took out a folder from a drawer and opened it. This was the girl’s own file, and contained all her records from her first year at high school. The girl had been in the school since kindergarten, and she was proving to be an asset. Her mother had also been a similar asset to the school, but she was more demure and definitely did not have any ambitions beyond being a good wife and looking after the shrine. Her daughter had the same elegant, classical beauty and carriage, but that was where the similarity ended.

“What a pity that she’ll leave us after graduation,” the headmistress looked at Toriyama’s records of previous fights and her achievements since entering high school.

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