The Blue Star

Halinor lives in a magical universe where people possess elemental magic called specialties. The universe is divided and people stick to their own magical race only. On top of that, the two planets of Pan and Ayao have been in a cold war with each other for decades. Halinor, whose powers haven't bloomed yet even at her late age of 14, is against all her expectations invited to join a brand new training academy for future secret agents of Pan. Here, she discovers that the universe is on the verge of collapsing into a total war, which can only be stopped if specialists from different races on Pan start working together. New mysteries unravel themselves and Halinor soon discovers there is a special reason as to why her powers haven't surfaced at all...

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5. Chapter Four

He was so mysterious and really beautiful. His eyes, his hair, the strange bow in his hand, it was as if he had jumped straight out of a fairytale. I realized that I had been staring at him for at least a minute without saying anything at all. Dragging my head out of the clouds, I decided to focus on the rooftops in front of us. "S-so..." I tried, but I really had no clue what to say to him. Was it rude if I asked him about his strange eye colour? Or if I asked what he was doing here? What kind of magic he was using with that bow? My curiosity was reaching a boiling point, but my upbringing prevented me from actually asking anything. Luckily, Cupid wasn't as socially incapable as I was.
"So, you are probably wondering what I'm doing here? With this," he said, gesturing at the bow in his hand. I nodded, glad he guessed at least one of my questions by himself.
He was still sitting on the edge of the rooftop, while I stood next to him feeling kind of awkward. When I didn't sit down with him, he looked up and smiled at me. I felt my cheeks turning red instantly and looked away. "Come on, I don't bite!" he said, patting on the empty space next to him again. I rushed to sit next to him, mostly because I was afraid to insult him, not because I felt comfortable doing so. I could feel the warmth of his body glowing onto my shoulder. Well, not that it had been my first guess, but at least now I knew he wasn't a Cold Specialist. No Cold specialist ever radiated heat from their body.
"As you might have guessed," Cupid began his story. I still focused my glance at the rooftops, too shy to look to my left where he was sitting.
"I am not a student here. I'm not an agent either though, or at least not in the traditional way. If I had to name my function, then I guess it would be assistant! I assist the Empress in any way I can, though my main job involves this bow."
An assistant to the Empress herself, that was quite an impressive job. I felt even more intimidated now, sitting next to someone who dealt with the Empress on a daily basis and who had the privilege to assist her in any way possible.
"What does the bow do?" I managed to ask. Not having to look at the amazingly beautiful Cupid did help me, though I had to admit I was slowly adjusting to the whole situation in general and felt a little less petrified at that moment.
"This bow is an artefact. Have you ever heard of those?"
"Yeah. They are valuable objects which help a specialist channel their magic in a specific way."
"Exactly. An artefact doesn't only help you to focus your magic into something really specific, it also enhances it, making you able to perform magic that isn't possible to do with just your hands. This bow particularly helps a specialist to increase the range and accuracy of their magic on a level that could never be reached if you only used your bare hands. For example, magic that I shoot from this bow will always find a target, even if I can't see the target directly because they are behind a wall, or in this case, a roof."
I looked to the side at the bow in his hand. It was quite impressive, pure gold with sparkling white crystal decorations on it. It was clear that not just anyone could own a bow like that. Such a fancy artefact was reserved for privileged people, like the Empress' assistant. "What kind of magic do you shoot from it?" I asked, thinking about the arrows that I had seen him shoot before he noticed me.
"The specifics and origins of this magic are classified, so unfortunately I can't tell you much. But I can tell you one thing. The arrows I shoot, they come in pairs. The two targets that get hit by a paired set of arrows,  will have a guaranteed encounter with each other which will result in a relationship. This can be any sort of relationship really, from friendship to rivalry, from love to hate, you name it."
Classified, hm? That was interesting. The magic he described was so specific, that it was hard to guess what specialty it originated from. I wondered why it was a secret. Forcing people to encounter each other sounded like Psychic to me, but as far as I knew Psychic specialists weren't able to control feelings like love or hate. Was this bow an illegal device that increased the power of a Psychic specialist beyond its original boundaries? Or was Cupid some sort of super powerful specialist from Ayao who escaped the horrors of the planet and should be hidden from enemies like Cecillio? The possibilities were endless, especially with my rich imagination. I understood the meaning of classified though, so I kept my burning questions to myself and decided to guide the conversation into a different direction.
"Why do you perform this magic here?" I asked.
"Well, mixing up different races of specialists like in this school is quite a new phenomenon. The Empress thought that the different races might limit themselves to only hanging out and making friends with their own kind instead of mixing it up like it was intended. That's where I come in. I make sure that on a daily basis, specialists from different races will encounter each other and form a relationship together. This way, the mixing of different kind of specialists is guaranteed."
I thought about what he said for a while. It sounded kind of unnatural to force people to form relationships with each other. It made me wonder as well if some of my encounters today were natural, or just a result of Cupid's arrows.
"Isn't that kind of wrong? Why can't people decide for themselves who they want to make friends or enemies with?"
"Yeah, it might sound a bit controlling if you put it like that, but my arrows aren't as powerful as you imagine them to be right now. They only guarantee the encounter. You are completely free in your mind to form whatever kind of relationship you want with the person that you encounter thanks to my arrows. For example, if you encounter someone who you don't find interesting at all, the relationship can be limited to acquaintance and it wouldn't go any further than nodding at each other, asking something about schoolwork or saying hi when you meet them at a party. You aren't forced into friendships or rivalries with people who you wouldn't create a these relationships with if you met them without the push of my arrow."
I wasn't completely convinced of the innocence of his magic. For a Cold specialist like me, even having someone forced upon you as a mere acquaintance could be a discomfort. I rather avoided people like that to begin with, but his arrows would make that impossible.
"Well, still I would prefer it if you didn't shoot at me," I concluded. Cupid shrugged. "I can't really promise that, since I shoot my arrows blindly. They always find a target, but I have no clue who it might be. If you want to make sure I never accidentally shoot an arrow at you, you have no choice but to join me here every night!"
My stomach turned at that proposal. I looked at him for a second and saw he was grinning at me. "I-I can't do that! It's prohibited to be on the roof terrace at night..."
"Yes, and why do you think that is?"
I thought for a second and then it hit me. "Oh... it's because of you shooting your arrows here every night?"
"Exactly. Can you imagine if the whole school knew about my job? People would forever doubt the nature of their relationships with others. It's best if no one found out."
"But you just told me everything..." That was pretty stupid of him. If he had made up a complete nonsense story I probably still would've believed him.
"Well, I guess the rule of not coming to the roof terrace at night is now kind of useless when it comes to you then. I mean, as long as you can promise me not to tell anyone about what I do here, I'm sure you won't get into any trouble. And since you prefer to not be a possible target, I strongly advice you join me here every night. It will make the job a lot less boring for me as well! Please?"
I looked into his eyes, and he looked back at me as if he were a begging puppy. How could anyone refuse such mysterious eyes when they had that look? I sighed. "Fine, I'm kind of a night owl anyways. But I'd prefer if you asked the Empress if it really is ok if I join you here."
"Of course, no worries! I'm pretty sure she's watching us right now anyways."
That didn't make me feel at ease at all. What if the Empress decided it was not okay for me to be here? Would she kick me out of school? I mean, I could be a danger to the social harmony of the school, knowing about Cupid's job. I wasn't a blabbermouth, but Edana was my roommate and she seemed very skilled at unravelling secrets from pretty much anyone.
"Chill out, Halinor. You're not in military school, though I'm sure having Mae as commander might make it seem that way. Speaking of which, I think it might be smart if you get some sleep. Mae isn't a fan of people who are late."
I looked at my watch and jumped up. It was already two in the morning! "Shit! I should go. It was nice meeting you, Cupid. Next time I'd prefer to have this meeting a little less late if that's possible for you?"
"Of course, we can figure out a time after your trip," he answered. I nodded and waved awkwardly at him as I ran back inside. It wasn't until the door of the roof terrace closed behind me that I realized how my heart was beating like crazy. It was quite exciting how I managed to get adjusted to Cupid's breathtaking presence so quickly. It almost seemed as if we were becoming friends! I couldn't help but smile at the thought. It made me feel powerful, free, as if the chains of the Land of Frost had loosened up a little bit. I felt super nervous thinking about having more private meetings with Cupid in the near future, but I could also feel that meeting and talking to new people wasn't as unnatural for me as it had always seemed. Maybe it was because the new people I was meeting weren't just Cold Specialists, but people who actually made an effort to keep a conversation going. This new world of massively increased social interaction was a little strange for me, but after my conversation with Cupid I also realized that I most definitely preferred it over my solitary life back home.

I wasn't done sleeping at all when Edana woke me up a few hours later. She hadn't noticed me being gone in the night, or at least she pretended not to. I tried to fight her wake-up call by pulling the blankets over my head, but she was rude enough to pull them completely off me as a response. I curled up into a foetus position, shivering from the sudden cold. Edana laughed at me though. "Yeah right, you can't fool me with that. I know Cold Specialists don't feel cold!"
I sighed. Not because she caught me in a lie, but because I knew exactly that I wasn't supposed to feel cold and I still did. It reminded me of how much of a failure I was.
With a big cranky frown on my head I got out of bed and got dressed. Still half asleep I followed Edana through the hallways to the dining hall where breakfast was served. We weren't the last ones to reach our table. Jade and Cedric weren't there yet when we sat down. I remembered Cedric also being up late last night and imagined him having a hard time to get up as well. I secretly hoped he'd be late so Mae would scold him. I stared at her for a while as I remembered what Cupid had said about her and realized something. How did he know Mae was my commander? I never mentioned her or my unit at all. I guess he could've known about me and my unit before we met because of him being an assistant, but he did pretend not to know about me when I introduced myself. I pondered about it for a while, and then decided that he probably just wanted to be polite. Still, it felt a little uncomfortable to realize that he already knew about me before we had met. I wondered how much he knew exactly. I was pretty sure the Empress knew everything, including my lack of friends and magic. It would be embarrassing if Cupid knew about that as well...
I caught myself looking around the dining hall to see if he was here. I wondered about him, his whereabouts during the day when he didn't have to shoot arrows, where he lived, who his friends were, basically everything about his life was a mystery. We hadn't talked much on the roof besides about his strange form of magic, yet still we had agreed to continue meeting each other. It felt kind of strange to have this social arrangement with a complete stranger, but I was really curious about him. He had been on my mind ever since I woke up.
Cedric joined our table just in time. He looked really tired. Without greeting anyone he focused on his breakfast, clearly not in the mood for any conversation. At exactly 6am, Mae started briefing us about the day, even though Jade still wasn't here yet.
"In about thirty minutes we will gather at the space station outside. We will use the underground tunnel that you used yesterday to get here. Once at the station, each unit will depart in a separate shuttle to our destination: The World of Elements. After our arrival on the planet, we will move together to our camping site. Our unit has two tents, one for the boys and one for the girls. You will set those up together. Hopefully this will be done in no time, so that we can do some small social activities before our first assignment starts. This will be a race against all other units. Teamwork will be vital. During our stay there is one very important rule: you must all stay together at any time. Wandering off by yourself is strictly forbidden! If you do happen to break this rule-"
"Man I just can't believe how incapable my roommate is. She didn't even bother to wake me up in time!"
Jade rudely interrupted Mae with her complaint as she sat down at the table. I raised my eyebrows at her, surprised by her entrance. She didn't even bother to apologize for being late. If I wasn't absolutely terrified of her, I would have said something about it. I wasn't the only one that noticed how rude she was though, and Yuu had no trouble speaking his thoughts out loud. "Damnit Jade, you really need your roommate to wake you up? What is she? Your servant? Can't you set an alarm yourself? And how about an apology for being late? You're not a princess in this school, dear."
I could see a fiery rage in Jade's eyes as she looked at Yuu, though Yuu didn't seem very intimidated by her deadly stare. She was about to open her mouth to talk back to him, but Mae stopped her.
"Being late is NOT an option Jade Lightning. Consider this an official warning. Be late again, and you will be disciplined accordingly. I do not give a damn about who your roommate is or what she does or doesn't do, you WILL be on time from now on or you will regret every single minute you are late!"
For a second I thought Jade was going to throw a tantrum, but to my surprise she decided to divert her anger to her breakfast, which she started to stab aggressively with her fork. "Do you understand?" Mae asked her. "Yeah, yeah," she answered, biting her cheek. "That's not how you answer me, Lightning! When I ask you a question, you answer with 'yes commander' or 'no commander'! Do you understand?!" Jade glared at Mae with the same stare she gave Yuu, though this one had a little defeat in it as well. "Yes, commander."
I exchanged a look with Yuu. We both had trouble hiding a smirk. I really liked Yuu. I felt like he was the kind of person I always wanted to be, but I never had the confidence to speak my thoughts so openly.
"Alright, as I was saying, if you do happen to break this rule, you will be contained in a separate tent until the end of the trip and you won't be enjoying any of the activities or the rewards that will come with it. Of course there will also be a fitting punishment when we come back at the academy. Do you guys have any questions about the trip as of now?"
I glanced at Jade, who had missed most of the briefing. She looked a little confused about this last bit of information without knowing the context, but she was smart enough not to ask about it. My thoughts wandered to poor Fallon, who was the roommate Jade complained about. Fallon seemed pretty fragile, so I hoped she wasn't hurt too much by Jade's rampage.
"Are we going to visit the Core as well?" Marcus asked after a raising his hand. Mae shook her head. "No. The Core is off limits. A lot of dangerous criminals live down there. They might not be as dark and evil as people from Ayao, but they would not hesitate to kidnap you for ransom or to do experiments on you. As long as you are still rookies, we will not be engaging possible real-life threats. During your first year here, all of your training in encountering enemies will be done through simulations to avoid any real danger."
I never thought we were actually gonna go there, but hearing the confirmation from Mae did make me feel a bit more comfortable about the trip. I mean, all the others at least had some magic to defend themselves, but I had absolutely nothing. Engaging possible threats was definitely not on my wish list. I looked around to check the reactions of my other teammates. Nearly everyone seemed satisfied with the answer. The only one who did seem a little disappointed, was Cedric. I sincerely hoped that he wasn't going to give us any trouble...

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