The class was at the far end of the castle near the Aisling dorm. It wasn't terribly far away from the cafeteria, but it was a good thing they left early since it was still a decent walk away. As they walked, Chester and Keinan chatted about some kind of band and Rose tried to memorize the hallways and every turn they took. When they reached their destination, Rose was reasonably confident she could retrace her steps.
The classroom was tranquil, Rose observed, when she first entered it. The wall on the left side was carved glass with picturesque designs of mountains and trees with pink leaves. Morning white sunlight filtered through it, giving the entire room a crisp tone as it bathed every item in cool light. Color filtered through as well, making the room feel like she was walking inside a fairy tale. Upon further examination of the beautiful colored, mellow morning sunshine that came through the window, Rose could see tiny little specks dancing in the air from an unseen wind.
The right wall was covered in paintings of what looked like some of the previous classes. Each of them had a different date written in glowing white at the top of the pale blue stone frames, with the oldest—that Rose could see—going back two centuries. After a more careful look, Rose noticed that there were large gaps between some of the years—the longest gap being thirty years.
How is that possible? Rose thought to herself before she recalled Lanna mentioning that the Neheburs didn't procreate often. Does that mean there are entire decades where there are no students?
Rose stared intently at the pictures, wondering what it was like to be the only student in all of Gardenia. As she examined them, she noticed all the students looked happy, which made Rose smile.
Against each wall were water runnels, ethereal blue liquid encased in glittering white stone that flowed gently. When the morning light hit the liquid, it sparkled brilliantly like stardust. There were tufts of grass and flowers growing along the edge of the water that ran throughout the classroom, and Rose wondered what it was there for.
There were eight perfectly normal-looking wooden chairs with desks at the center of the classroom. At the front of the classroom was a pedestal and a large pink cushion with many smaller cushions piled on top of it. Professor Yūei sat, perfectly upright, on the cushion. She wore a snow-white dress—Kimono? Rose thought. Weren't they in that Godzilla movie? Is that what it's called?—with blue and pink accents.
The beautiful woman smiled with affection that reminded Rose of Mother Mara as she watched the students enter her classroom.
Rose took a seat at the front of the classroom on a desk to the right. Chester took a seat to her left, next to Keinan. Rose wondered who she would share her desk with—each desk accommodated two chairs—but soon found her question answered as soon as she noticed the strange purple-eyed student who stared intently at her yesterday. He was still cloaked in black, and as Rose eyed him, she remembered that she felt that odd zing of electricity when he stared at her previously.
Rose turned toward him, feeling her palms already start to sweat with anxiety. She didn't understand why it felt like he had literally shocked her with his mere gaze, but considering he was magical, then he must have done something to her to have caused such a reaction. The fact that Rose had no idea what he did—or why—made her a hundred times more nervous to be anywhere near him.
Still, Mother Mara raised her to be polite, so she licked her dry lips and introduced herself. "Hullo, I'm Rose."
"Hello, Miss Rose," the student responded. His voice reminded her of a wolf, for some reason. There was nothing wolf-like about it, though. It wasn't deep, husky, or rough, but rather quiet, and soft. "My name is Mortem."
"L-let'shavea goodclass together," Rose responded, feeling thoroughly embarrassed she had slurred her words together in her anxiety. It was a habit she picked up when she was much younger, and Mother Mara worked hard to break it. Thankfully, it didn't happen every time.
Mortem seemed to nod, but it was hard to be certain.
"Is everyone seated now?" Professor Yūei called out, her smile widening. "Wonderful. Hello, precious students. I am Professor Yūei, and I will be your instructor through the fascinating study of Blue Magic. I have been a professor here for over two centuries, and I have never had a student fail. I'm surely not about to let that start now."
She waved her hand and a thin slab of white marble lifted into the air from behind her, hovering over Yūei's right side and to Rose's left, at the front of the classroom. At the top, the word Blue was written.
Rose, like the other students, took out their notebooks and writing tools. The only exception to that was Mortem, and Chester's kingmate who sat behind him.
"Blue," Yūei began, and the words appeared on the marble slab, "is the magic of change. It does neither create, nor destroy, but change what is already there. From stone to steel, water to fire, and even the more complex transition of your space to your destined space, otherwise known as teleportation. Blue, in combination with Red, is also how we create space within space or Pockets."
That perked Rose's interest, and she underlined the word Pocket in her notes.
Yūei continued, "Dimension manipulation is something we will cover in a later year, but understand that you must know the basics before you can begin to attempt something so dangerous. For now, my precious students, let us begin practicing changing our core magic into Blue Magic. For those with a Blue affinity, this will come with ease. For others, do not be discouraged by your classmates' progress. I assure you that mastery will come with time and practice."
Frozen bubbles descended onto the desks and Rose stretched out a hand to catch one. It was cold on her fingertips, but not enough to feel uncomfortable. Rose looked at it, twisting it around and marveling at the fact that it smelled exactly like a cold winter day.
"These are orbs of my creation," Yūei began, "I want each of you to practice pushing your magic into the orbs. Once you feel comfortable with that, try converting your magic into Blue. The orbs are specially tuned to glow in accordance to the appropriate color you change your magic to."
The students all took their orbs into their hands, examining them. Rose hesitated for a moment before she asked, "How do we do that? I-I mean, um, how do we push our magic out?"
"It's different for everyone," Chester told her, turning back towards the professor. "Right?"
Yūei nodded. "Yes. I require moving my hands to guide my magic outside of my body. Professor Nigel, however, needs focused thoughts to command his magic. Professor Luck controls his magic by wiggling his nose. Do not feel rushed into finding your own way, Miss Rose. It will come to you in time."
Rose scratched her right cheek as she thought about what the professor had said. In all the movies and books she had read, magic was universal in how everyone used it. Why was it so different for everyone? How could it be taught if the student couldn't even mimic the teacher? Where was Rose supposed to even begin?
She didn't feel like there was magic inside of her. The only difference she had noted since her partial transformation was a new heartbeat, but she definitely wasn't able to control it any more than her actual heart.
Yūei waved her hands and the words on the board disappeared, replaced with the number fifteen. "For the first fifteen minutes of every class this week, we'll practice drawing our magic out into the orbs. After that, we'll move on to the lecture. You may all begin."
Rose held the ball in her hands and tried to imagine her magic going inside. When nothing happened for a solid minute of visualizing that, she then tried wiggling her fingers. She tried twitching her nose and raising her eyebrows up and down. She thought random words, as many words as she could think of in relation to putting magic into the frozen bubble.
Chester's ball lit up a brilliant green right away, as well as the girl sitting behind him. Hers was a vibrant blue, though, and Yūei made a pleased hum at that.
Rose tried waving her pencil like a wand, though it was to no avail. Keinan's bubble was the next to shine a bright green light, and Rose couldn't help but feel a little frustrated.
"Abracadabra," Rose tried.
She heard a snort from her right and Rose did her best not to react.
"You're overthinking it," Mortem said, the barest hint of laughter in his voice.
"How would you know?" Rose muttered crossly, then remembering that he was the same boy who was capable of seemingly shocking her at will, she pointedly pursed her lips together.
"Intuition," Mortem responded.
Then he raised his hands out from under his cloak—Rose noted that he wore black gloves, so not an inch of his skin was seen—and he gently took her hands. Rose immediately jolted at the contact, feeling that familiar zip of energy.
He cocked his head. "Stop what?"
"Shocking me," Rose hissed. "You're doingiton—I mean," Rose paused to stop herself from slurring, "you're doing it on purpose."
"I'm afraid I have no idea what you mean," Mortem responded, but from the laughing tone and the sheer smugness that radiated off him, Rose knew he knew what he was doing. Mortem placed Rose's bubble in her hands, and he wrapped his hands around her own.
"I shock you?"
"You know exactly what I mean," Rose told him, her eyes narrowing even more. "It's not very nice to—to do that."
"It's not nice to shock people, you mean," Mortem clarified.
"Y-yes. That's not a nice thing to do, so you shouldn't do it."
"If I stopped doing something because it wasn't nice, I wouldn't be able to do anything."
Rose pursed her lips as she thought about a retort, but before she could respond, Mortem removed his hands and a bright, bright red light filled her vision. Rose let out a gasp and the light immediately vanished from inside the orb.
"See?" Rose thought if she could see Mortem's face, it would have a smirk on it. "Your magic already knows what to do. Don't overthink it, Miss Rose."
Rose dumbly stared down at the bubble, then she looked back up at Mortem and started to list every synonym for 'narcissist' she knew. Within three words, the bubble started to glow a bright red once more, and Rose looked back down at it.
The light faltered, and though she tried hard not to think about it, that was surprisingly even harder to do. She wondered if she would get the feel for it if she practiced enough, if perhaps there was a way for Rose to tell her magic what to do without having to resort to thinking about other things.
If her magic already knew what to do, then surely Rose would be able to have some conscious control over it, no? That would be the ideal outcome, Rose believed.
Maybe if I do it over and over again, I'll be able to recognize what it feels like to use magic? Then I could consciously recreate that feeling and purposefully control it? Rose theorized.
Maybe not. But Rose didn't like not being able to control her own magic, and she wasn't sure what else to do.
When Professor Yūei called for the end of the fifteen minutes, she had everyone get out their notebooks and describe what the process felt like. She talked about how it was important to understand the feeling to be able to replicate and control it. Rose did her best, but she struggled to describe it, she couldn't feel her magic any more than she could feel a book falling to the ground a thousand miles away.
Then the professor went off into a lengthy lecture about Blue Magic and the beginning spells they would start to go over later on in the semester. It was an interesting lecture—purely because 'hello, magic'—so Rose found it easy to listen to and take notes.
There were a couple times, however, that Rose felt stares at the back of her head. When she turned around, she noticed that a couple of different students were staring at her with wide, wide eyes, a sour stench coming from them.
If Rose didn't know any better, she'd say they appeared afraid of her.