Fa'Lina walked the corridors of her school with a casual smile, hands behind her back, as she greeted students and faculty alike in passing. Today had been quiet, little in the way of troubles and no antics out of the ordinary that you would encounter between the diverse residents. Although normally it would be something of a day off for the headmistress, she had something else planned for the time being. Her destination brought her to the newest lecture theatre which would be for the latest addition to the Academy curriculum.
Standing at the open doorway, Fa'Lina peered in to the currently vacant room, its first class soon to be held here in a short while. Although she sensed Adrian's emotions emanating nearby, the Creator was not present in the lecture room. Three areas made up the newly constructed lecture hall: The seating area for around fifty students, staggered in rows with stairs leading to the upper rows, the teachers area that contained Adrian's desk, his tools, computers and other strange gadgets he no doubt intended to use. A large glowing panel lit the wall behind the desk, from where it emanated from Fa'Lina could not tell. And finally a large space separated the area between the students and the teacher, designated as a means for teachers and the students to display their powers as examples.
A request emphasized by Adrian as he felt comparing the difference between his powers, magic and Cubi abilities would do well to help compliment the lectures. Although the students may not benefit from the class directly, Fa'Lina hoped it would open their minds to new ideas about the world around them.
From the back room Elly, the tutor's Warp-Aci, darted across the large space carrying a box. It floated to the student's tables and placed a small blank plaque upon each one in turn. Fa'Lina stepped further into the room, watching the critter work diligently. The display to her right featured a series of pictures and some words resembling a slide show presentation. She look forward to the first lesson, approaching the screen to perhaps glean what the lesson might contain this time.
“You like the display Fa'Lina,” greeted a pleasant voice belonging to Adrian. He smiled to her, placing some papers on his desk. “I hope you didn't mind me incorporating some Elevas Technology into the place.”
The headmistress offered a reassuring smile, “I do not, so long as it will not endanger the Academy. It is interesting to see it in a less harmful form. This is a TV correct?” she questioned reaching out to the screen with a finger.
“Kinda,” replied Adrian and chuckled when Fa'Lina appeared startled when the screen reacted to her touch, moving one of the photos around. “This one however as you can see reacts to your physical touch, essentially you can use your hand in place of a mouse and keyboard to manipulate the screen.”
“I... shall take your word for it,” hummed Fa'Lina slightly puzzed by his terms and placed the photo back to its original place. A quick skim of his current thoughts gave her some insight of the devices operation. “Technology has never been a strong point of mine, I prefer paper and pens. Although I try my best to understand so that I may keep up with the younger students.”
Adrian nodded, seating himself at the desk. From what he had seen of her so far Fa'Lina appeared to handle technology well enough. No doubt some of the gadgets he possessed would puzzle even some of the more able students however. His classroom was likely the most high-tech available now, although it was not the main feature of his lessons. Though not the pinnacle of what he was used to, the similarities between what came from the distant past and the present were amazingly close.
Good thing too, Adrian doubted he had the skill to patch any compatibility problems.
“Or perhaps your daughter had already taken that into account,” smiled Fa'Lina at him from the side, poking at this surface thoughts. The man chuckled and nodded as he wrote on one of the papers.
“Gonna take me a while to get used to that.” he sighed. As many times as the headmistress kept demonstrating, Adrian still forgot that Fa'Lina could read his thoughts and memories like an open book. He could sense too when it was occurring, or when any Cubi attempted to do so. But around Fa'lina it had become so familiar he didn't think twice about when she did read his thoughts since it was so rare for her to even do so. “You're probably right,” he agreed, “My daughter always had this amazing knack with hardware and Elevas. She could make and break anything.”
Fa'Lina examined the desk closer. A small circular dome sat at the desk's corner, and from the top of the rounded surface a beige light shaped into a hollow rectangular frame was seen. This energy was evidence of the Light element at work. She recognized this 'frame' as a digital counterpart to a photo frame. Picking up the disc, Fa'Lina held it flat so that she could see the picture clearer.
Although Adrian had not spoken of the individual displayed, as of yet, Fa'Lina already knew this beige furred and brown masked Raccoon as Gias. It was his birth mother, sat smiling with the same green eyes as her son shared with her. Long, flowing brown hair hung over her shoulders and back. Even in the picture there was a serene calmness emanating from her demeanor.
“You know, it's a question that keeps me thinking most nights...” remarked Adrian quietly. His hand reached over to a holo-screen, poking away at the surface slowly. “I don't know what's happened to my Mother... I can't find anything either.” he sighed. “Not even through the flow. You would think with an Aura as powerful as my Mother's it would be easy to find.”
Fa'Lina placed the disc down, her hand passing through the hologram harmlessly, distorting it briefly as her physical being interrupted it's shape. She ran a hand over his shoulder; try as he might his underlying thoughts drifted to his family a lot. “Furrae is... a dangerous place Adrian. Many powerful creatures hide themselves, while some choose to show their power in an absurd display.” she explained, slipping from his side of the desk and pressing towards the student seating. “You were hidden from prying eyes for a reason. And kept safe by your daughter.” then looked back over her shoulder. “Tis likely the same reason your mother remains hidden.”
“If she's still alive,”
“And your heart hopes she is.”
“It's been two-hundred thousand years Fa'Lina. Hope and expectations are two different things”
“Such a length of time is merely a number to many powerful creatures.”
“And all things must eventually wither away with it, even Creators.”
Fa'Lina let out a dismayed chuckle, “Oh dear, Adrian, you naive child. If you truly believed your Mother was lost to the passage of time, you would not be scouring every scrap of information your daughter left you in the last century.” she said, catching Adrian off guard as he quickly dismissed the nearby screen, the energy dissolving into the larger dome device underneath. Fa'Lina let out a sigh, a tendril reached out and collected one of the student's chairs and brought it to the main desk. “Adrian, you are battling with your solider instincts and your family teachings. One side is letting go, the other is holding on.” she said, seating herself down.
Adrian said nothing, only offering a casual stare as fingers rapped on the glass table. His thoughts and emotions echoed everything they needed to in place of his silence.
“There is no need to hide your hope behind a needless wall of military bravado, not any longer.” smiled the headmistress, “Hold onto that hope, Adrian. Worry about the present, let the future come as it should. Let the past be a lesson.”
“...Do you think she might still be alive?” asked Adrian from under his hands.
“I hope she is,” replied Fa'Lina.
Hope was a strong word, it was a beacon of light in a shroud of darkness. Many held on to it and many more lived by it. Adrian held to that hope, if his Mother was truly still alive then sooner or later they would discover each other. Or at least learn of her fate.
“Good morning, Headmistress,” greeted a cheerful student.
Standing at the doorway was Relina, greeting them with a bright smile and a wave of her hand as she entered into the lecture room. A book hugged against her body and a small bag hung from her arm. She appeared in a very good mood as waves of joy and excitement emanated from the young student. Likely she was here to attend the very first lesson of the class, extremely early no less.
“Good morning Relina,” greeted Fa'Lina in return, “Congratulations on passing your Advanced Wing Forming Techniques exam.”
Relina blinked a few times, startled before remembering about the Headmistress's unusual power of omniscience. She had only just finished the exam an hour ago, although to hear she had passed long before the results had become public was pleasing. She let out an exasperated chuckle, and sighed. “Thank you, I must admit I struggled with some of the finer details but Change was very helpful to get me past with some advice.” she said forming a few of her wings into some shapes.
“You're a natural, most students have difficulty with that course in their second century.” clapped Fa'Lina, delighted the student lived up to her quick learning habits. Already she had surpassed many expectations and was wonderfully on her way to becoming an able shifter. “Why, if this keeps up dear, I shall have to assign you to Change as an apprentice for the school.”
“Change?” blinked Adrian at the unusual name.
“The head of the Shaping Department, you haven't met yet.” replied Fa'Lina.
“Eh-heh I dunno if I will be that good,” stuttered an embarrassed Relina, altering her hair colour on the fly, changing it from mauve to pink then to red and then to orange before letting it settle back to her base colour. She noticed Adrian carefully watched the performance and offered a smile, “Hi Adrian, how are you today?” she asked.
Adrian turned the picture frame of his Mother to face her, “Can you change yourself to look like this person?” he asked her, pointing to the edge of the frame. Relina tilted her head at first, the request was highly unusual and she glanced between him and the headmistress, looking for some sign of advice. Fa'Lina offered only a light smile, but Relina was unsure what kind of answer that meant.
Relina let her thoughts concentrate to her powers, her body shaped and changed colours as her abilities took form from thought. It took only a moment before the powers settled and the Cubi took on the appearance of the one requested. Adrian stared at her in a strange silence, biting onto his finger as he pressed his mouth on to his clasped hands; leaning against the table. “Is... this okay?” she asked uneasily.
Adrian stared, the appearance of his mother had been replicated into scarily perfect detail, only clothing and voice remaining unchanged. The Aura was clear as day too, so even if some other Cubi took on the appearance of another he would be able to see right through it without a problem. So long as he knew their original form beforehand mind you. To see it was possible brought him a good deal of uncertainty. He quietly said “Yeah... thanks, you can uh stop now.”
Relina quickly let the form drop, reverting back to her base, her wings sprouting from her back once more. The uneasiness she felt from the Creator begged the question if granting the request was a good idea now. Still with Fa'Lina's presence, surely the headmistress would've stopped her if it was a bad idea to begin with. “Um, who was that Adrian? A friend?” she asked quietly. “My mother.” he replied.
“Sorry, Relina.” he apologised shutting off the picture frame with a tap. “I... just wanted to see how I would react to a Cubi taking on the appearance of someone I knew.” Adrian curled his hands together, taking a deep breath, “It was strange, you looked exactly like her. But the Aura told me differently. Though I already knew this was the case, I guess I wanted some reassurance.” He then suddenly smiled to her, brushing away his dreary feelings, “Fa'Lina's right, that was pretty impressive.”
Relina brushed a little of her hair back into place and allowed a smile to eventually form at the crook of her mouth. Taking on a completely new form was often one of the more difficult things for a Cubi to accomplish. “Thanks, that means a lot.” she said smiling at the high praise. “Are you looking forward to the first class?” asked the student trying to derail thoughts onto a less awkward topic.
“Heh, shouldn't I be asking you that?” countered Adrian, chuckling.
“Oh I already know I'm going to enjoy the lecture, but this must be so different for YOU.”
“Good point. Yeah, I never exactly imagined myself as a teacher.”
“Just be yourself!”
Fa'Lina motioned out a hand to the girl, “Excellent advice, Relina.” she beamed.
Elly floated back to Adrian, dropping the empty box on to his desk, “All done Adrian. Are you sure it's going to be enough? This lecture hall seems so small.” she wondered peering back to the seating.
“Should be, I'm not expecting many to turn up to these things,” admitted Adrian calmly. Already he had accepted the possibility that many would get bored, save for a few dedicated residents perhaps. He stood from his desk, swiping away at the computer screen a few times, “Ah, I need to head to storage and get something. Thought I had it on the system but I guess not. I'll be right back.” Then with a quick stride he exited the class room and disappeared into the halls of the school.
He was only gone for twenty minutes. Twenty, that was all. Adrian stood dumbfounded with his arms folded, looking to the mass of eager students and tutors who arrived while out of the classroom. The lecture room was not only at full capacity, but far over the limit as makeshift seating was created to accommodate the extra. If Adrian were a fire safety official he would be turfing out the extras, but he didn't have the heart to go all safety inspector.
Elly laughed smugly, floating next to Adrian's head and teasing him with its tail. “Told ya,” she giggled to which Adrian pushed the critter away playfully.
Adrian glanced back to Fa'Lina, sat at his desk with a relaxed smile and leaning on the arms of the chair, having commandeered it earlier since most of the other seating was quickly taken by the new arrivals. Relina sat in the spare chair closer to the desk too, offering a reassuring smile of her own. The man let out a long breath, admittedly unsure of where to begin. Just be yourself, Relina told him.
“Hi everyone! My name is nervous and I'm really Adrian right now, but you could probably tell that already.” he began with a straight face. The purposeful mix up served as an ice breaker, earning him a good chuckle from many of the students. “Some of you have already spoken to me, but just to clarify a few things before we begin: Yes, this human appearance is genuine- no I am not a were- no I am not an adventurer, I was formerly a soldier, they're different things. And yes if you've heard rumours that I am a Phoenix, they are wholeheartedly correct.” he explained and tapped the knuckles of his hands together a few times, “Any questions so far?” He spotted a hand raising into the air, slowly with a sense of uncertainty, “No I'm not that kind of Phoenix, I'm not related to the oracles or the ones you're familiar with.” The hand dropped down again.
No other hands raised that Fa'Lina could see upon gauging the room from side to side. Either he had answered all of their questions already or he stunned them with his forwardness. A mixture of confusion and surprise filled the room that it easily countered the steadily decreasing nervousness the teacher produced. A delightful and amusing start.
Satisfied, Adrian approached the main screen and held his hand out to it as a holographic gauntlet encased his hand. With it he manipulated the screen at a distance, “This introductory lesson will be a summary of the basics. I'll be doing a few of these over the next week or two to familiarise everyone with what you'll expect from the lectures. I hope that what you learn here will be insightful, informative, or just interesting at the very least,” He explained and settled the screen on a series of different coloured icons, each of them representing the eight different elements. “Firstly, for my own amusement, can anyone tell me what an 'element' is?”
There was a short silence from the body of students and teachers, they obviously sensed a trap of sorts. It was a matter of waiting to see whom would spring that trap. Slowly a few of the student's hands rose up, casting the brave from the timid.
“Jason, what Elements do you think I am talking about?” inquired Adrian pointing to the Cubi with blue hair in the middle of the masses.
The boy lowered his hand once chosen, “Do you mean metals, gases and liquids, Those kind of elements?” he replied, unsure of his own answer.
Adrian smiled but waved a hand outwards in the air. That was the trick answer he expected. “They are Elements of a scientific sorts. And I can understand why that would be your answer, I must seem far less 'Magical' by appearance and the things I have on display.” With a thought, his body suddenly ignited into a flame and twisted around upon himself, in a flash of fire he took on his Phoenix form and took to the air with a brief flip. Throwing a small blast of ice to the ground he created a perch in the middle of the open space and landed upon it. “I can assure you, while Technology is perhaps a forte of mine. I am just as mythical as you guys and this world is to me.” he said patting at himself with a wing. “Now, did any of you sense any magic in what I had just done now?”
Silence again, but many of the students and the tutors shook their heads. But one student spoke up from the crowd. A Cubi Adrian was already familiar with in his friendship with Relina. Garbed in a teal and pink trimmed dress, Aurora seemed less impressed by the display. “The Elements you are referring to are in fact Fire, Water, Earth and Air. The basic elements that magic can draw from.” she stated.
“Yes.” Adrian snapped delightedly. “But those are just four elements, as you can see there in fact eight in total. Each of these elements are made up of an energy I call Mana. That is where I draw my powers from, it is where Magic borrows the power to cast your spells.”
“What's the difference?” asked the sparkly-green haired Aurora.
“I use my natural connection to Mana to draw and weave elements using my body as a conduit.” Adrian then fanned out his wing towards them, a sparkle of bright light followed the wing, scattering and dispersing a short distance from the path of the wing. When the sparkles faded each one popped with a small burst of flame. “Lucia? Cast one of your flame spells if you would please.” he requested, spotting the familiar black furred jackal among the bodies.
It took a moment but with a spoken word and a gesture; a small blast of fire shot from the crowd without so much as startling any of the surrounding residents. As quickly as it came, the flame dispersed leaving only a flickering ember.
“Note that Lucia required a gesture, and a spoken word. Even if the words she used were from thoughts, they were essentially asking to borrow the flames.” said Adrian, pointing to the area where the flames died out. Then he suddenly puffed up his feathers and a blast of fire suddenly exploded around him, again it died as quickly as it arrived. “I do not need to ask, I simply weave straight from the source. I feel it's important to point out this fact. Although the methods we use seem different, it does not make them any less natural from the other. The difference in strength however... is very substantial. Imagine drawing water from a fresh lake and an old well.”
Adrian then leapt from his perch and jetted into the air, he created another perch, one made of vines and plants from the ceiling. Nodding to Elly he sent a signal to his companion Aci to begin the next part of the lesson.
“Mana, and Auras, are two very important aspects of the world.” began Adrian. “Mana is the energy that flows through all living things with a force of personality. Our Auras are what connect us to this enegry and in Mana helps define who we are.” His Aci produced new images on the screen. They displayed both a silhouette of a Creature and a Being with a coloured Aura drawn surrounding them. “Everyone has a uniquely different Aura, some are stronger in specific elements, or even stronger overall.” His eyes spied a hand rising in the middle of the students, “Yes Zee-ha?” He addressed.
“Um it's actually Shee-ha,” The student corrected with a smile as the Bird offered an apology in the form of a curtsy with his wings. “This Aura, is this something anyone could see? Do we require a spell?” she asked.
“Naturally no, only we Creators can see these Auras.” answered Adrian, “However there is Technology I do posses that will allow non-Creators to do the same limitedly. If you are interested after the lesson I will introduce you guys to some of it. While it will only let you see them visibly, I however can gauge so much more from an Aura. Race, Species, Gender, Connection, Family relations.”
Fa'Lina then slipped in a question of her own, “So then Adrian would you say it is impossible for a Cubi to fool you with shape shifting?”
“It's possible.” replied Adrian as he performed a flip on the overhanging branch, letting his whole body spin around and back into an upright position. “Much like thought reading, my senses are not infallible. But if a Cubi is shape shifted into something other than another Cubi, I will be able to tell.”
A question quickly shot out from a familiar voice, “Then you can tell what a Cubi's affinity is just by looking at them, correct?” asked Ink from amongst the crowd and sat legs up on the desk with his usual nefarious grin. His presence surprised a few of the attendees as they cringed fearfully once they noticed him.
Adrian shook his head, “I don't believe I can. As I understand a Cubi's affinity does not always relate to their clan. The Auras tell me what emotions you maybe more prone to, but it's not a set definition.” he said hopping down to the glass desk below him with a glide. “This does bring me to the next point about Auras. Emotions and personalities. Every element makes up not only our connection to Mana, but also helps define us as a person.”
Hopping from the desk he retook his Human form and held a hand out to the holographic screen, he recalled the eight symbols. Using an outstretched index finger, he wrote sentences next to each of the coloured icons.
Next to the flame he wrote 'Anger, temperamental, courage'; Fire.
Next to drops of water he wrote 'Peace, calmness, relaxation'; Water.
Next to the swirling vortex he wrote 'Spirit, vigour, awareness'; Air.
Next to spires he wrote 'Stubbornness, determination, perseverance'; Earth.
Next to winged icon he wrote 'Good natured, selfless, thoughtful'; Light.
Next to claws he wrote 'Ruthless, selfishness, unforgiving'; Darkness.
Next to circular eclipse he wrote 'Reasoning, understanding, change'; Luna.
And lastly next to vines and leaves he wrote 'Natural connection'; Nature.
The start of the second major length story. During this one Adrian begins to learn and understand parts of Furrae outside of the Academy life, and much quicker than he might like. Not everything about Furrae appeared as he would hope, and the demon city of Zinvth was going to teach him just how much things have changed since his slumber.
In this part we get to see Adrian elaborate more on this mythical natural energy known as Mana, what it does and how it involves everyone on a subtle scale. Regardless of how magical a creature may get, they are still tied to Mana on some level.