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Arisu in Twisted Wonderland

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He could feel it in the air; the heated days were starting to cool down, the chilly mornings, summer was about to end and that meant fall would be around the corner. With summer ending soon, Arisu would find himself on his bike and go down the trails as he did every year during the season; his cousin had taught him the tricks in going at the times where hardly any other people would be out on the trail, be at the movie theaters, or even at the miniature golf course. He took those lessons to heart and he was able to have his I-pod on speaker and have his music on full blast without having to worry about disturbing other riders that would be on the same trail as him. 

Thinking about his cousin, Arisu closed his eyes and smiled; his family wasn’t entirely normal, it was far from that actually. His uncle had married a witch and since then, the families were connected – both mortal and magical traditions were mixed into one; the end results were during the football seasons, they would alternate between the Vikings and Magical Shift – the color schemes of their houses were gold, purple, red, and white. Halloween was a massive festival over at his cousin’s house and Christmas was a winter wonderland over at Arisu’s. Family reunions however; well, meeting extended family always came with interesting stories (how often did one get to say they met the Egyptian Lord of the Dead and Judger of Souls?) Despite the difference in family background, Arisu knew one thing; his cousin always had his back and wasn’t afraid to set a bully on fire if it meant defending him. The two were thick as thieves growing up, every summer they would hang out with the extended family – a boy and girl from different covens, and they would either bike ride on the trail (and explore any strange paths), hangout at the playground, enjoy an ice cream bar on the roof of a school (after begging his aunt to fly them up there), and just do whatever came to mind. It was as if nothing could tear the quartet apart…until his cousin had to fly over to France and attend school there.

School…was probably the only difference between the two; since Arisu and his side weren’t magical at all and were dubbed as Mortals. He had to go to a normal school, one without spellcasting while his cousin got to go to a school called Collinswood and studied the craft there. From what he remembered, Collinswood had schools all over the world and would accept a mortal into their arms if they had any promising features to learn magic – he almost signed up for it, heck, his cousin could read people’s auras! He knew he could learn but…he didn’t. Magic was amazing and all, but it came with risks; and after hearing how his cousin was at constant risk? Nope, he wasn’t going to risk it either, he’d rather just stay on the sides and support him every step of the way – and also help him when able to. Of course, he wasn’t going to lie; he was jealous that his cousin was studying in France. 

Still, even though he was on this ride alone until his cousin returned…he was still going to keep up with tradition! Arisu came to a stop on the trail and parked his bike, he turned to the forest beside him and smiled; every time he came onto the bike trail there was always a new hidden trail within the trees. Actually, now that he thought about it, he took the bike handles and guided the bike onto the path before him. It was time to see where this would go and also brag about any new finds to his cousin the next time they would be on video chat. 

Deeper and deeper he would traverse onto the strange trail before him; thanks to the tall trees the light from the sun was pretty limited so he was essentially in the dark. Arisu felt his heart starting to race from both excitement and fear as a million dreams, fears, and other scenarios filled his head as he tightened his hold on the handlebars. The whole forest was quiet now; which was troublesome if he had to be honest. Usually there would be birds singing in the tree, cicadas screaming, or even the sound of something rustling in the grass; nothing…just deafening silence echoing throughout the trail…at least there was, at first. Then suddenly, he heard a small voice in the distance, too far to make out what was being said.

“I can hear you, but I won’t.” Arisu was frozen in place; was he entering Faerie territory? He’s heard the stories growing up and he knew that being caught by them would just spell trouble. “Some look for trouble, while others don’t. There’s a thousand reasons, I should go about my day and ignore your whispers which I wish would go away.” 

The voice started to get even louder now, making him freeze in place more than he already was. It was coming straight for him. Oh no, this is probably really bad news. He needs to get out of there, and fast. Arisu turned his bike, frantically hopping on to get out of there quickly, through the path behind him. At least, it should have been there. What on earth was happening? Where did the trail go?! Straining his ears, he heard the voice again but this time it was accompanied by the sound of a horse? As he strained his hearing; he was able to make out some of the words being said; “Ah…my dear beloved…” Beloved? Who? He knew the Fair Folk had an attraction to anyone they deemed beautiful, but he never really saw himself as such. No, he must have misheard that.

“You’re not a voice, just a ringing in my ear; and if I hear you, which I don’t, I’ve spoken for I fear.” Arisu took some steps back and away from the approaching horse and voice, he extended an arm to where the trail used to be and back to where the town would be. “Everyone I’ve ever loved is here within this town, I’m sorry secret siren, but I’m blocking out your call!” He had his doubts that riding would get him away, but if there was one rule in horror that he would forever follow; Even if running won’t save you, it’s always best to try.

It was as he called it; he had his doubts that riding away would get him from the strange horse and voice. Despite having turned around and riding back the way he came from, he found himself in the old clearing again and again where the sounds of hooves and the voice were growing louder and louder; he could hear more of what was being said. “A lovely and noble flower of evil. Truly, you are the most beautiful of all. Magic Mirror on the wall…Who is…” Well, that wasn’t ominous in the slightest! 

With a sigh, Arisu straightened himself him and turned to the source of the sound; “What do you want? ‘Cause you’re keeping me in place, are you here to distract me so I make a big mistake?” If there was one thing he’s learned from his family when it came to the faeries; don’t let them see you at your weakest. 

An unlikely thought did cross his mind; the fair folk were tricksters by nature, but they would never cause intentional harm unless Arisu did something to them. They were curious as well and want to see what their limits were when it came to curious humans like himself.  “Or are you someone out there, who’s a little bit like me? Who knows deep down I’m not where I’m meant to be?” He was technically intruding on faerie grounds, so perhaps whoever owned the voice and the horse was wondering why he was here and would go easy on him if he admitted he knew he was where he wasn’t supposed to be. 

And that’s when it came into view; a black carriage carrying an ornate circular mirror with glass a deep emerald color. Despite the skeletal horse carrying it and the fact that it looked like an old funeral carriage, Arisu couldn’t help but to approach it – despite the warning bells going off in his head. Something about the haunting appearance just drew him to it; curiosity outweighed the caution side of things. The horse stayed in place as he tried to pet it; how often did one say that they got to pet an undead horse? He greeted it softly before circling the carriage once and taking in the little details of it.

“Those who are guided by the dark mirror.”

Arisu paused and looked around. The good news; the voice from earlier was clear, the bad news; he still had no idea where it was coming from. He knew the owner of it had to be nearby if he was able to hear them that clearly. As he looked around, he noticed a strange eerie light coming from the mirror the carriage had; he should leave, this was a recipe for disaster, is what the small rational voice inside was saying; but he was drawn to it like a moth to the flame.

“So long as your heart desires, take the hand that appears in the mirror.”

He did. He threw caution to the wind and reached out to grab hold of the hand that appeared before him and he was pulled through the glass where he saw nothing but shadows. It wasn’t like Arisu was afraid of the dark, but something was unsettling about this realm of darkness that caused his heart to race, he was ready to let go of the hand until the voice returned.

“For me. For them. For you. We are all running out of time! No matter what, never let go of my hand.”

Hopefully when the shadows cleared, he would be able to get some answers at the very least.

*

The entrance ceremony was lively as ever – despite some thinking it should remain a serious one. It had appeared that the Ebony Carriage had the tendency to forget some new students so there were numerous times Dire would duck out and quickly collect the late arrivals and slide them into the group to avoid questions. Such was the case with Ace Trappola, the poor boy was pretty disoriented at first upon getting out of the gate; this was on the list of things-to-do list, find a way to make the spell guiding here to be less disorienting on the new arrivals. The boy recovered and immediately flared out his ceremonial robes as his headmaster had led him to the entrance ceremony; and just in time as a student had been sorted into Scarabia, He nodded to Ace and told him to approach the Mirror of Darkness, just one look to the crowd and Dire could see that Prefect Rosehearts was on edge for a bit; he could understand that Trappola-kun could be a little overexcited about finding out his new dorm, but the same could be said for every new student; Prefect Rosehearts definitely needed to relax someday. 

“The shape of thy soul…Heartslabyul.” The mirror called out.

Dire couldn’t help but to chuckle at the young prefect’s expression; well, the students would handle the rest without him. A new late arrival had appeared and it was his duty to collect them after all. He sent Sebek up to the mirror before ducking out and into the room with the gates. It was time to welcome the new student to their wonderful academy and get them settled in their new dorm; ah, he was such a generous headmaster for allowing late arrivals to their school.

That was the plan at least; the room looked like a war zone if the burnt gate was anything to go by. Dear, he hoped the new student was alright! Approaching the gate, he found it to be empty; this was something new, it was unheard of for students to leave the gate on their own – of course, he supposed that the burnt gate was the cause of it. Suppose he had better find their little runaway and guide him back to the entrance ceremony.

It wasn’t that hard to find the missing student; all he had to do was follow the sound of panic and chaos that followed soon after. It led him to the library where a boy with platinum blond hair and honey brown eyes was backing away from a familiar. This simply wouldn’t do at all.

“Ow! What’s with this cord?!” The familiar screamed.

“This is no mere cord; it is a lash of love!” Dire looked over to the shaken boy. “Ah, found you at last! You must be one of the new students! Honestly, I know you must be excited to start your day with us, but to leave the Gate on your own!” He sighed. “And you brought an unruly familiar which as broken a number of rules.”

The familiar growled; “I’m not their freakin’ familiar!”

“Yes, yes. The rebellious ones always say that, hush now.” He covered the creature’s mouth. “Come along now, the entrance ceremony is already well underway!”

Now it was the boy’s turn to be confused. He followed the strange man and the weird floating cat out of the library and into the courtyard. Arisu lost his voice; this is what happened when one threw caution to the wind, he got himself sent to some school in…wherever here was! This was too much for him, he wasn’t even listening to the man talking about…whatever. Alright, panicking wasn’t going to do anything, he had to sort out his thoughts; he was in the forest in town and he went down an unknown path alone, he came across a strange mirror and carriage, and now he was in a school apparently. Those were the facts, he needed to know more about this place.

“Excuse me, sir?” Arisu called out. “Where exactly am I?”

The man turned to him and tilted his head; “What’s this? Are you still dazed?” he placed a golden claw on his chin. “It appears the teleportation magic has left you disoriented; a common side effect; let me give you a brief explanation as we make our way to the ceremony, I’m so gracious like that!”

That was on the debatable side of things. Arisu had to fight the urge to roll his eyes at the self-proclaimed gracious man before him.

“This is Night Raven College!” he motioned to the school around them. “Those magicians blessed with a unique aptitude for magic gather from all over the world, here at the most prestigious magical academy in Twisted Wonderland.” He turned back to Arisu. “And I’m the headmaster, appointed to take care of this academy by the board chairman, Dire Crowely.” He turned back and continued the way to the ceremony. “Only those magicians seen as worthy by the Dark Mirror can attend this school, chosen ones use the gate and are summoned here from around the world…an Ebony carriage carrying a gate should have gone to meet you as well.”

This made perfect sense…not! Arisu may have family who were equipped with magic, but that was because his uncle married a witch! Arisu however, was born a mortal and he would die a mortal, how the fuck did a carriage come and pick him up?!

“I did meet a carriage, but I think there’s been some mistake.” He told the headmaster.

The headmaster just ignored him; “Come now, we have an entrance ceremony to get to.”

The sight they were greeted to was the dorm heads addressing their newest of students in their dorm as well as having Headmaster Dire clearing up any and all misinformation; he had to leave because they were short one student and had to go collect them. That led to all eyes being on Arisu as he was led up to the mirror of darkness, it was clear not a lot of the dorm heads were impressed that they had to wait on one missing student and they were about ready to tear into him the moment he got into one of their dorms.

“State thy name.” The face in the mirror demanded.

“Arisu Shai.” 

That got some whispers in the crowd. “Did he say ‘Shai’ as in…Dalimar-Shai?” “He’s related to the heir?!” “He must be very powerful then!”

“The shape of thy soul…” The mirror went quiet. “I do not know.”

Dire walked up and cleared his throat. “Pardon?”

“I sense not a spark of magic from this one. The color, the shape, all are nothing. Therefore, they are suited for no dormitory.”

Even more whispers arrived. “Maybe he lied about his identity?” “Idiot, no-one would be foolish enough to lie about being related to the Three Heads!” “How the hell does this kid not have magic if he’s related to them!”

“An Ebony Carriage wouldn’t go to meet someone who can’t use magic!” Dire huffed. “In a hundred years, there hasn’t been one mistake in student selection, so why in the world?”

Taking advantage of the Headmaster’s distraction, the strange grey cat broke out of his grasps and loudly proclaimed that unlike the strange human he could use magic. The end result was setting fire to a student and setting fire to the room. Two dorm heads were tasked in chasing and catching the strange creature, and this was enough; Arisu rushed over to the student on fire, taking off his own robe (seriously, how the hell did he get dressed in this?) before smothering the fire out on the burning student.

“Are you alright?” Arisu asked the student.

The student gave a sigh in relief; “Yeah, I’m fine!” 

“This is going to be an odd request; do you know any water-based spells?”

“My unique magic is called Oasis Maker.” He smiled.

“Perfect; think you could extinguish the flames?” Arisu pointed to the room around them.

The student cracked his knuckles and took out a pen. “You new kids sure know how to liven the place up.” He grinned. “let me take care of the flames for ya.”

That was one problem taken care of, all that was left was taking care of the demon cat. Arisu rushed and joined the two students who were after the cat and got in front of the creature, the cat recoiled and its sudden stop was enough for one of the students to act.

[Off with your head!]

With the sound of a lock being locked in place, the cat was seen wearing some heart-shaped collar. Growling, it tried to burn the collar off before paling in realization that it sealed off his magic. The first student calmly walked up and grabbed the cat before carrying it out of the room, presumably to throw it out. Once the calm settled, the headmaster told everyone to escort their students to their respective dorms while he dealt with the new student. Not even bothering to hesitate a second longer, Arisu had followed the headmaster out of the mirror chamber and to someplace a little more private to talk in; more specifically, they were back at the library.

“I hope you know it’s considered a serious offense to make false claims about the Three Heads.” He started out.

“I know.” Arisu sighed. “My aunt drilled that into both my head and Tori’s when we were growing up.”

“Your…aunt?’ he was taken by surprised.

“My mortal uncle married a witch.” Arisu explained. “My side isn’t magical; we’ve only been exposed to it.” 

Dire placed a gold claw on his chin again in thought; “I see…that’s why your last name is Shai but the Dark Mirror couldn’t detect magic in you…Hmm.” He straightened up. “Regardless, I can not take your word at face value, do you have any form of identification on you? License for a magic car? Name on a shoe?’

“I have my phone.” Arisu reached into his pocket for it. “Let me call my aunt and she will confirm my story.” He paled when he felt nothing. He tried searching through his other pockets, nothing. “W-Where did my phone go?! I know damn well I had it when I was in the forest!”

Dire just hummed and nodded; “I see…this is quite the predicament you’re in; I can’t allow someone who can’t use magic to stay at this school. However, as an educator, I can’t toss a penniless teenager out on the street with no form of identification or communication.” He paced around. “We can’t really call Lady Elaine about you, there’s a strong chance she would debunk your claims and we’d be in a deeper mess than already. Ah! There’s an unused building on campus, it was once used as a dormitory in the past and with a little cleaning up, you should at least be able to stay there while I look for a way to get you home!”

Arisu sighed and crossed his arms; “Can’t you call Lord Shai about me then?”

“Afraid in cases like this, I would have to call the current head of the Sennen Coven or the heir and that boy is studying in Paris. It would be very rude of me to disrupt the heir over matters like this.”

“He’s my cousin! I’m sure he can make time for me!” 

“Yes, yes, you’ve made that claim already.” Dire motioned him to follow him. “Come along now, Arisu, let’s get you settled into your temporary dorm.”