Alice scanned the room that was previously occupied by Alyssa, the girl she'd saved.
There was a faint hint of aura that she could feel.
To where? Where was she heading to? Wouldn't she rather prefer to stay safe and out of danger?
At least, that's the usual reaction for anyone being hunted by demons.
But if the girl decided to move on her own, it meant that she acknowledged the danger, and knew something was not right.
And had gone off to settle it on her own.
There weren't going to be any students trooping through the school at this time, though; school was over, and the Academy students had either all gone home or were in the dormitories or had gone out.
Except for those with cub activities like the football club practicing today outside the school; but they're likely not to be wandering the school either.
Now to retrace the girl's aura.
Alice raised her hand and started to feel the aura that surrounded the room, her own aura surrounding her hand; her aura was manipulative, so it could pick up on a specific aura that someone left behind; that was what rare-bloods were always able to do, anyway; they're sensitive to others' auras.
It was faint, but light, the color of pale blue. And ice-like color, but warm, like a star.
Auras are traces of presence left off by any living being, be it a mage, a human, or an animal. Mages' auras were always easier to pick up on, since they carried a lot in order to cast spells called Rites. There was a different color to all people, telling Alice about their moods or their abilities. It also depended on how big their auras are.
And most importantly, their thoughts, whether it was benevolent or evil.
The girl's aura was a kind one.
But as Alice stepped closer to the bed, the aura started to darken to black.
One that indicated a demon's aura.
Alice froze, staring at it. Now this was another case. Why would a mage have the color of a demon? That was impossible – unless you're a dark-blood – but there had never been a phenomena when an aura would change into an entirely different color, and if there was one once, she'd probably never heard of it.
And then the aura on her hand switched and changed to a violet color that overflowed with power.
Alice turned to the door and threw it open, then smacked her pack into the person who stood there, just about to enter.
"Ow!" yelped Stephen Tate, taken aback by the black form at it landed on his head.
"You of all people know that letting your aura fly around wildly is forbidden," ALice scowled at him.
Stephen grimaced. "What if I said I forgot?"
"You have a bad memory. Write it down on your hand, and you'll remember it. And in permanent marker, mind that."
Alice looked at the aura on her wrist. It was now pale gold; her aura.
At least, Stephen had shut off his aura; for some reason, he'd always been gifted with immense aura, maybe since he was born, and whenever he left his aura flying around, even those who aren't rare-bloods were able to pick up on it. And for someone like him, it was forbidden to walk around without controlling your aura; he was already eighteen, had graduated from the Academy, and yet wielded his powers like a child who wouldn't use it properly.
"So why are you here?" she asked as she stepped back into the room, feeling for Alyssa's aura again.
"The girl. What else? I'm a Knight, anyway." Indifferent.
The Academy's Knights were Red Mark students who excelled in their studies and magic ability, they are given an option to be a protector of the Academy, a mage to hunt demons, and a future instructor for future mages when they enroll.
Alice knew she would be given that option when she finally graduated, too. She still hadn't made her decision about that yet, but at least that was four years into the future. She still had a lot to learn.
Even her sister Pamela was a Knight. Pamela should know about this, too, and must have been alerted by Reinhard. She wondered if her sister even got to really go for a walk with Cain when they left the cafe earlier.
Then she turned away her thoughts from her sister and frowned at Stephen. "I meant, why are you here? In Alyssa's room? When Principal Reinhard alerted the Knights, all of you should have gotten the message at the same time."
"I got it, but I got lost with the clues he gave me so I came back here to look for the clues again," said Stephen with a frown. "It's called being cautious."
"Point noted. Whatever," Alice huffed.
"I'm guessing Reinhard had you come to help because you're the highest-skilled rare-blood student," said Stephen. "He even had demon hunters to help. Him, a mage, asking the demons hunters' classes."
Alice knew what he was talking about: at the Academy, the mage students always looked down on the demon hunters. That was because while mages have the ability to create their own power, demon hunters were not like them because they required weapons to control the use of their powers. Even though mages occasionally armed themselves with wands or staffs, it was usually to channel their power better; otherwise, demon hunters were still normal people who couldn't utilize their power unless they had their weapon with them.
Only very few mages got along with the demon hunters: those few included Alice herself and Stephen.
"So the girl's name was Alyssa?" he asked.
"Sounds a lot like the person was you."
Alice decided not to answer that as she continued to gather back Alyssa's aura. Her own aura was slowly turning blue.
"Say, tell me exactly what those demons who attacked the girl looked like," said Stephen as he approached the window. "And don't sit on the bed," he added sharply.
Alice straightened herself before she could plop on the bed to check the aura that had been here. But at least there were still traces of Alyssa's aura around the room.
She looked at Stephen in surprise. "Huh? Was the demon important?"
"Maybe, maybe not. That's just so I know what they're like. If we're going to face them, we should be ready."
Alice searched her pack then pulled out a sketchbook, turned to a page, then showed it to him.
The pencil sketch was a close replica of the demon she saw. Alice was good at drawing.
"It was a Level-1," she said. "Tough demon, built with strength."
"Level-1? Seems rather weak."
It is weak, Alice thought. That's the demon majority, fool.
"What levels are you now able to fight steadily on your own?"
"Shut up!" Now she was irritated. Then a thought came up and she frowned. "Your're good at recognizing the types of demons, right?"
"Can demons be manipulated?"
"If you know about contractors, that's right." Stephen frowned back at her. "Well, under a dark-blood's orders, or some fool who decided to make a contract with one. Why?"
"That demon . . . I don't know, I can't figure it out, but - that night, I actually went demon hunting because I felt their presence even from the dormitories, so that's why. Maybe it was because of Alyssa's aura, and they were hunting her, bit . . . after I rescued her, they were all gone."
"But that's because their target got away."
"No, I meant that someone must have been controlling them from behind the scenes. Even that demon I sketched there. He even called for someone: its master. Maybe all those demons were being ordered to chase Alyssa for someone."