Wisteria Academy is a posh boarding school for the magically gifted, with a rich history and an excellent extracurricular program. However, there is a darkness that looms on the horizon - and four young witches will have to meet it.
Kuro could feel it in the air. The way the teachers chatted excitedly, smiled broadly and ignored misbehaviour - the recruits were coming. She had almost gotten swept into the mood herself, but it was the same every year. Just another truckload of snobby kids who kept her from her studies. And the occasional few that tried to copy off her homework.
Dai purred loudly for her attention, leaping onto her bed and rubbing against her folded legs. Kuro only shooed him away, returning her focus to the neatly typed notes on her laptop. None of her teachers had given notice for any assessment whatsoever, but Kuro had a knack for studying and reading ahead. In fact, she had numerous knacks when it came to school - a perfect attendance record, an almost vicious competitive spirit, and, on top of that, impossibly high standards. A ninety-nine percent on a test had nearly caused her to rip her hair from the roots, especially since she had even known the correct answer for the fateful question; her teacher had pounced on a missing apostrophe and taken off a mark, no doubt in spite. It was a math test, no less.
Dai purred even louder, making Kuro sigh and, closing her laptop, allowed her unruly familiar a good behind-the-ears scratch. She had found him in an animal shelter, about to be euthanized for aggression. Familiars were strange; you couldn’t choose them, but they chose you. As soon as they did, magician and familiar were bound in spirit. Losing them meant serious damage.
Kuro was about to pluck Dai from her bed, but he squirmed from her grasp and ran out the door, tail swishing in the air. She rolled her eyes and hopped off the circular bed herself, taking a set of clothes and settling into a warm bath in the ensuite bathroom. After patting her hair dry and pulling on a shirt, Kuro plopped onto the loveseat in the dorm’s lounge, a book in her hands, along with an empty mug. She muttered a few words and shook the mug, sipping at the frothy hot chocolate as it appeared, and cracked open the book, delving into it for a full half-hour. Eventually she sank into the soft folds of her bedspread, the pleasure of sleep imbued on her face in the form of a dream-filled smile.
A tiny paw slapped Kuro’s cheek, making her stir from sleep. Dai was sitting on her stomach, a petulant look on his face. She sat up, making him hop off, and went to the pantry in the mini-kitchen, grabbing a can of cat food and opening it with a spell from her fingers, emptying it into Dai’s bowl as he started eating. She glanced at the clock on the wall, realizing it was 5:55; a full five minutes before her alarm. Kuro took her messenger bag from where it sat on the floor and headed out of her dorm, locking the door as Dai squeezed through behind her.
They both walked out of the girl’s dorms together, two of the few souls up at the hour. Lessons started at eight a.m., but Kuro had time to burn. She spent an hour in the school library, helping the librarian re-shelve books, and, on a sudden impulse, walked out of the Academy and into the crisp autumn air, through the courtyard and into the gardens.
The trees lining the cobblestone path had all lost their leaves by now, bare and reaching to the heavens like bony hands. A sound made Kuro stop in her tracks, shushing Dai as he jumped in a pile of dried leaves. She neared it, finding that it was inside the glass greenhouse, mind already curious as to who would visit dead plants in the fall, on a Monday morning.
Kuro slid the glass door open, letting Dai pad in behind her before sliding it shut. The noise repeated itself, at the other end of the massive room. Kuro treaded carefully towards it, avoiding vines and planters on the floor. When she had reached it, catching a glimpse of a person, she crouched behind a tall shrub and peered out. It looked to be a senior student, with short, reddish brown hair and bluish-purple eyes that shifted colours in the sunlight.
Kuro narrowed her eyes, instantly recognizing him. Akio Himura. The new, ridiculously young, hotshot Headmaster.
He was bent over a massive, wilted bush and, touching its leaves, began to perform wordless magic.
Each magician had an ability, something that they could control with a thought - it was their domain and, while their magic could be replicated by another, it would never be at the same potency and would require years of training, not to mention being extremely dangerous.
The bush perked up under his touch, shrivelled leaves flushing with green. The entire plant was revived within a few minutes, beautiful, white roses blooming. Kuro watched, entranced, ignorant of the fact that Dai was toying with a particularly prickly plant so, when he yowled in pain, she could only freeze in surprise. Himura turned to where she was, not catching sight of her.
Kuro froze, waiting until he turned back to his plants to slip her wand out of her sleeve and throw a spell over herself and Dai.
She felt a tingling sensation and, looking down at her hands, was pleased to see they were gone. Kuro got to her feet and quickly shuffled towards the door, herding Dai out and running as soon as she was out of the greenhouse. If there was one thing she didn't want to deal with, it was getting caught creeping.
Especially not getting caught creeping on Himura.
Dai suddenly head-butted Kuro’s leg, making her glance at her watch and panic. 7:59! She ran wildly, rushing to her ‘Mystical Arts’ class. Kuro emerged into the dark classroom just as the bell rang. All of the students were already seated, the ones that recognized her shocked at her late entry. The teacher, who everybody only knew as ‘Esmeralda’, clicked her tongue but let her sit in the only table left empty, beside a new recruit with short orange hair and deep green eyes.
“Hey,” the girl whispered, eyes shining, “My name’s Akiko. How about you?”
Kuro pet Dai beneath the table, about to pull her things from her bag.
The entire class turned to see the hall monitor at the doorway, who was glaring at Kuro and gesturing for her to step out. Kuro nodded apologetically at Esmeralda, gathering her things to leave the class, feeling eyes boring into her back, wishing that the floor would swallow her up.
“Yes, Miss?” she asked, eyes glued to the ground.
The plump lady pointed down the hall towards the Headmistress’ office, a scowl plastered on her face.
“I expect you of all people to know that running in the halls is a security and safety violation. Report to the headmistress. And don’t run!”
With this the woman turned on her heel and stomped down the hall, leaving Kuro to walk towards the headmistress' office, dread building inside her. She’d never met her, but the thought that her perfect record could be damaged was painful.
Arriving at the heavy oaken door, Kuro knocked and waited, sapphire eyes full of sadness. When the door swung open, she steeled her nerves and mentally prepared herself for the worst.