Hideki stood beside Ren with Gon in hand. Ayane, Takashi, Sayako and Tomiko stood before, waiting patiently for their first training. Ren approached them observing their posture, and demeanor. He walked around his students and checked their backs while rolling up a piece of paper. He tapped Takashi's back making him stand tall. With his wings, straightened Syako's shoulders, then he made Tomiko lift her head up. Ayane turned her eyes, but Ren faced her forward. Ren stood in front of them and stared.
“Hmmm…” Ren lit his rolled paper and inhaled it. “You can relax now, you're not soldiers.”
“What was the whole point of this?” Ayane said as every relaxed.
“I had to see with my eyes how serious each of you.”
“That sounds stupid.” Tomiko said.
“Wielding a Wisp is not a toy. You are handling life and spirituality. If you do not have a proper mindset you can hurt the Wisp, everyone around you, and yourself.”
Hideki approached his friends. “While we may not be able to channel Mana, the Wisps are using our own Mana as fuel to maintain the Winds of Change spell. We won't feel exhausted like a Magi does through our Mana, but we will feel it through our muscles and mind. It's running basically.”
“I see.” Sayako said. “But aren't we still channeling?”
“Not the way you think, Wisps will channel your Mana to maintain form, and they use their own Mana to cast their own spells. It's the way the spell is designed, think of it as this.” Hideki went into his bookbag and took out a pencil. He presented it to Gon who then channeled his Mana.
“Rock of Strength.” The pencil glowed and Hideki took it to hand. He then approached a large log beside a bush and picked it up. He placed wood down, threw the pencil away, and tried to pick up. Unconvinced, Takashi tired to lift the log and could not. He then took the pencil and lifted it with no problem. Looking at Hideki he nodded.
“So this is an enchantment?”
“Yes.” Hideki nodded. “Now this is Winds of Change.”
Hideki took out his pocket switch blade. He flicked the blade out and held it up as s word. Without saying a word, Gon merged with the knife and turned into a sword. Takashi stepped back as the sword's blade drew closer. Takashi stepped back giving Hideki space, watching him swing the sword unleashing a burst of wind into the air. Ren walked into front of the teens.
“Unlike Magi, we don't have to verbally chant the spell, nor does our Wisp. This helps give us an advantage over Magi. However, this limits the Wisps spell selection depending on what type tool they use. If they merge with armor, then they can only do armor based spells. If its weapon like this knife, then they use attack based spells. Another thing is that once they merge with an object, they tethered to that specific object. If you want to use another object, then the Wisp has to retrain from, oh let's say level one, in order to use that object and that Wisps Mana will spread thin weakening the spells used. It's a failsafe I put in the spell to prevent any abuse toward the Wisp.”
Ayane spoke. “And the Wisp can still freely reject the merger.”
“Correct.” Ren inhaled his rolled paper, and exhaled it. “In theory, the drawbacks should outnumber benefits five to one. Next is ownership.”
“Ownership?” Tomiko said as Ren looked up to her.
“Whatever you use for the Wisp, the item will be tethered to your Mana.” Ren pointed to the sword. “before merging with Hideki's knife, Gin first had to take his Mana and fuse it to the chosen item. It takes time since you are not Magi and drawing out the Mana from you takes energy. Once your Mana is infused into the item, the Wisp will do the same as link. From that point on, no one can take your item and get a Wisp to merge with your item. Think of it as a fingerprint security system. The Wisp will never merge, and if should anyone other than you take your Wisp Tool…”
Hideki handed the sword to Takashi and Gon popped out immediately. He flew into the air towards the tree branch. The girls awed at what they saw and looked at each other with a smile. Takashi handed the knife back to Hideki and turned to Ren.
“Why did you tell the Clans Ren? You had an advantage over them.”
“Trust.” Ren said walking away. “Just because we are not accepted by the Clans does not mean we stand against them. We just don't believe in what they believe, but I still believe we are as common as the fly itself. Now come, it's time for the Wisps to choose you.”
At noon, Natsume read the Emi's measurements on a sheet of paper, picked up a sewing spool, and observed the costume drawing Emi prepared to make. She attached it to the sewing machine and paused for a moment. She looked at Mayumi, Keiko, and Rumiko and thought it over. She turned her wheelchair around getting their attention.
“You know, Emi's outfit is pretty generic in design. I can do a Copy and Paste spell to duplicate the outfits for the three of you.”
“We're not a team.” Rumiko said. “And I don't need a frilly costume to prance around in.”
“Oh come on.” Mayumi said. “We can be a team.”
“This is not a game.”
“I know, but still, this would be a good time to have new outfits.”
“I agree.” Keiko said. “I want a copy.”
“Me too.” Mayumi looked at Keiko and they smiled.
Rumiko grimaced at the girls giddying about matching team outfits. She got up to see the drawing and her eyes grew wide.
“Emi came up with this?”
“Yes.” Natsume said
“This…” Rumiko twisted the page analyzing it. “this isn't bad. Much better than that tacky outfit she ran around in. Better than the two of you.”
“Hey.” Keiko said. “My Shining Star outfit is one of the best.
“Sure tell yourself that.” Rumiko crossed her arms as Mayumi giggled. “Yours' screamed loud Mayumi. Green and yellow?”
Mayumi went silent and her face blushed.
“Well you get a new roll Mayumi.” Natsume said turning back to the sewing machine. “Besides, you will good in this outfit since you're a twin.”
Outside Natsume's room, in the kitchen, Mrs. Saito and Emi prepared lunch. They were silent, but there were no feelings of negativity in the air. Emi's eyes faced downward, staring at the teapot on the stove boiling. She could not tell if Mrs. Saito was mad or concerned. It was hard to tell, despite her politeness. Emi's lips moved, but no words came out. She knew what she wanted to say but she was scared she would be scolded. Emi felt Mrs. Saito's hand on her back, gentle and comforting. She looked Mrs. Saito in the eyes, resisting to shed tears.
“I'm sorry.” Emi said taking a deep breath. “I'm sorry for everything.”
“It's okay.” Mrs. Saito placed her hands on Emi's shoulders. “You were frightened and taken advantage of.”
“No, you were right. Right about responsibility and everything. I may have been scared, and tricked, but I did have chances to stop, chances to reach out to my sister, even you, but I didn't.”
“Fair enough, but don't be hard on yourself.” Emi lowered her head but Mrs. Saito palced her hand under Emi's chin to make her look back up. “I made sure you were not held responsible for what Hikari did to you. What this goddess did to you was wrong, no matter what. Just be strong and trust us. We'll get you and your sister out of this and back to your normal selves.”
“We're not normal anymore, at least I'm not…” Emi said. “And it's okay. I deserve this and I will live with this.”
Emi took the tray of tea and cake from the counter. She gave Mrs. Saito a smile and left her in silence. Emi returned to Natsume's room, where she heard the girls arguing. She tiled her head as she watched them fight over her costume, pulling and tugging at the fabric. The girls stopped as Emi sighed.
“Oh uh…” Mayumi dropped the cloth and Emi placed the tray on the desk.
“I don't want to know what you are thinking about what you're doing with my outfit.”
“Well…” Mayumi rolled her eyes to the left.
“You want to wear my outfit?” Emi noticed and Mayumi nodded, then turned to Keiko and Rumiko. “Even you two?”
“Well…” Keiko tapped her finger together.
“So are we going to be a team?”
The girls nodded and Emi smiled. “I'd like that.”
“All right then…” Natsume said with an unpleasant look, shaking her fist. “Get out so I can concentrate!”
The girls jumped out of Natsume's room and the door slammed behind them. They turned to each other and laughed. Mrs. Saito approached the girls wiping her hands with a towel.
“Lunch is ready girls.”
“Thank you.” They said together and were led away. Emi however looked back at Natsume's room, and reach out to knock on the door to get her, but Mrs. Saito took her hand.
“It's okay, Natsume is concentrating right now. I'll take her food in a little while.” Mrs. Saito received a nod and as Emi walked away, she knocked on the door, opening it. She watched her daughter at the sewing machine, picking up a jewelry box revealing four identical brooches each one colored blue, green, purple, and red.
“I know mom,” Natsume sighed. “bring the brooches to you before giving it them.”
“Don't worry, I'll tell them that there will be a tracking spell imprinted. I won't cost you your friends.” Mrs. Saito closed the door and Natsume stared at the trinkets.
“No mom.” Natsume closed her eyes with her hands over them. “I won't let you have it your way.”
Natsume channeled her Mana over the trinkets.
The afternoon sun was covered by a large cloud. Mayumi slung a large bookbag over her shoulder with a sleeping bag attached. She turned Emi, Keiko and Rumiko whom are also carrying hiking gear on their backs. They each wore a brooch on their shirts, a color assigned to one of them. Mayumi with the green trinket, Keiko with the blue, Rumiko had purple and Emi had red. Together they were ready for their journey to the valley to find all the answers. While although Keiko and Rumiko walked onward with experience, Mayumi and Emi however never left the city on their own. Looking back, they shared a nervous feeling that caught Keiko's attention.
“Come on. We have to get moving before nightfall.”
“We're coming,” Mayumi said. “it's just that…”
“We've never done this before.” Emi said and Keiko approached the twins.
“You told your parents you were going to be with us camping right?”
“Yeah.” Mayumi said and Emi nodded. “But that's not what we're worried about.”
“It just feels weird that's all.” Emi said and Rumiko turned around.
“This is your first time away from your parents?” The twins nodded and Rumiko started walking. “If you don't start walking now, your feelings for your parents will make you change your mind.”
“She's right.” Keiko said. “Besides, this is the time to start learning to be on your own from your parents.”
Keiko stepped aside to let the twins walk ahead of her. Together they made their way outside the city, into a forest, where Nina, Goro, Yuri, and Koi waited alongside the road. They all gathered and greeted each other. Koi rushed to Emi and jumped into her arms.
“Hey Koi.” Emi said caressing her pet's head. “Did she eat Nina?”
“Yes, Emi.” Nina said and Yuri flew to Rumiko.
“Are girls prepare for this?” Yuri received nods in return and Goro approached Keiko.
“No matter what happens, if thing go wrong, you girls run back here to the city understand?”
“Yes Goro.” Keiko nodded and Rumiko pointed back to the city.
“Though, we are being followed by two guards from the Society.”
“Let them follow Rumi.” Keiko said. “As long as they don't stop us and take us back, they could be of some help if anything goes wrong.”
“It's a risk.”
“I know.” Keiko led everyone down a path with a male and female guard following in the distance.
As Emi walked beside Mayumi with Koi climbing her shoulder to the top of the backpack, she had a flash of memory when she bid the Mukado farewell. So much has happened to her that she wondered if this was all a dream. If she would wake up one day, the day before she gained Mana, and maybe do things different. It was hard for her to comprehend. When left her eyes up, she found her hand held by Mayumi. There was a smile from her sister, she knew she has been through a lot as well, but now, it was different. Emi felt safe by her sister's side, she felt Mayumi's trust. Looking ahead with their friends Keiko and Rumiko; guided by Nina, Yuri and Goro, Emi clutched her brooch tight, ready for what lies ahead.