Chapter 1: The arrival
Yuu woke up with a strange sound, as if someone tried to open a closed door.
He opened his eyes, his surroundings were pitch-black and couldn't see anything. He wondered if it was still nighttime and moved his arms to rub his eyes, with that he felt with one elbow felt something like a wall next to him. Having now a clear mind he frowned, raised slightly the arms and moved a bit the feet, realizing he was inside of what looked like a box. He was still processing his situation when heard something.
"Oh, no. People are coming," said a high-pitched voice from outside. "Gotta get an uniform while I still have..."
The same voice growled loudly, as if it were making a lot of force. "The lid is too heavy!" Said exhausted.
Was that someone trying to open whatever he was inside? Yuu tried to say something, but the same voice started talking again: "Then is time for my secret move! Fnaaa!! There it is!"
The voice didn't finished their victory announcement when Yuu gasped as he saw some strange blue fire flames in front of him. His fear ended when the fire extinguished swiftly, but his confusion of being inside some box increased when the door in front of him opened slowly, seeing finally the exterior: a room filled of some elegant, floating coffins.
"Ok, ok," the voice said as they finished opening the door. "Now time to get that..."
Yuu couldn't see anyone at first, but jumped slightly as the unknown voice shrieked loudly just below him. "You... Why are you awake!?" Asked alarmly.
He looked at them, it was a grey cat-like creature with blue, fiery ears he never saw before. He had a black and white striped bow tied around his neck and he was standing up on his two hind legs, he also seemed more surprised than him. Yuu couldn't help but look at him and ask: "What? A... A talking racoon!?"
The creature looked more like a cat, but had something that made him think on a racoon.
"Who are you calling a racoon!?" Asked angrily the creature. "I'm the great Grim!!!!". But his angry expresion turned into a smirk. "Well, whatever. You, human!" Exclaimed while pointing at him. "Hurry up and give me those clothes you're wearing!"
"What?" asked Yuu before realizing he was wearing some dark clothes he never saw.
"Do it or else..." Grim warned, "I'll roast ya!"
As soon as he said that, he spat out a great blast of blue fire that almost reached his feet.
Yuu screamed in fear and started running.
"Help!" He yelled as he opened the door.
"Where do you think you're going?!" Grim shouted at the distance.
Yuu ran down a long corridor located next to an inner courtyard centered around a well, looked around and opened a door only to find no one in what appeared to be a classroom.
He kept running for what seemed like an eternity and managed to get outside. He tried to catch his breath as he carefully descended some stone stairs. He looked around, he had never seen a place like that: it was surrounded by different buildings, including a huge coliseum.
After descending the steps, he turned around to see the place where he had woken up. He was impressed to see a lavish dark-colored architecture that reminded him of an european castle.
He hurried on his way and finished descending, then he saw a smaller building to his left. He quickened his pace and opened the doors, hoping to find answers.
The place turned out to be a library, there was no one there, but there was a strange scene with books floating magically.
After briefly inspecting the place no less confused than before, he sat down on a chair to catch his breath.
"Where in the world I am?" Asked to himself.
First he wakes up inside a coffin, he finds himself dressed in clothes that he does not remember putting on before and some kind of fire cat tries to attack him.
He got up and walked around the place. He forgot about the strange creature and lost track of time reading the titles of the books that were there, all related to magic or what seemed to be 'history of magic'. He even dared to grab one of those that were floating, checking that they were not held by ropes or held by the air.
If that was a bizarre dream, he wanted to wake up as soon as possible...
Blue flares made him jump out of his thoughts.
"Did you really think you could run away from my great nose, stupid human?" Grim asked, approaching him with a menacing smile. "You better give me that robe of yours before I...!"
Some kind of whip resounded behind him and he was tied with it in less than a second.
"Ow! What's with this rope?" Asked trying to break free.
"This is not a rope," said a stern voice in front of them, "but a 'whip of love'!"
It was a man with dark hair and pale complexion, elegantly dressed in a cape and a top hat. The most curious things about him were his pointed ears and his face hidden under a bird-shaped mask that only revealed his eyes with a mysterious golden glow. Yuu had the feeling that he was not a human being.
The man looked at him and his face relaxed.
"Ah, found you at last" said to him. "Are you one of the new students?" Then frowned again at him. "You shouldn't do things like leaving the gate on your own!"
"Gate?" asked confused the young boy, but the stranger did not listen to him.
"Besides," he continued, "you should tame your familiar better, he has broken a lot of rules in this school!"
He was about to ask him what he was talking about when he walked over to Grim and grabbed him carelessly by the neck.
"Let me go!" Screamed the creature. "And I'm nobody's familiar!"
"Sure, sure", said the man without believing him. "The most rebellious ones always say things like that. Just quiet down for a moment", said before securing him to his arm and covering his mouth.
Grim tried to resist and Yuu raised an eyebrow at the scene.
"My goodness", sighed the man with his eyes closed. "A new student shouldn't walk out the door just like that. How impatient can you be? Come on, the ceremony should still be on. Let's go to the Hall of Mirrors".
"Hall of Mirrors? What are you talking about, sir?" Asked Yuu.
"It's the room you woke up", answered the man. "All students who wish to attend this academy must pass through one of those doors to arrive here. Normally, students wake up only after the door is opened with a special key though."
"Oh, so the coffins are doors..." Yuu commented after realizing that they were the only thing there. "Mine must have opened with his fire", he said looking at Grim, still in the stranger's arms. "Why do they look like coffins?"
"The gates are shaped like that to represent the rebirth of a student in their new life as a magician in this academy. So in the end, the culprit of your gate opened before appears to be this familiar of yours..." he looked at Yuu. "If you are going to bring it with you, you must take responsibility and properly take care of it."
Yuu frowned nervously and pointed at Grim.
"He is not actually my..."
"Oh! We can't stay here any longer", the man interrupted him. "The entrance ceremony will be over shortly, let's go."
"Wait a second!" Yuu exclaimed. "I mean... Excuse me, but where am I? And who exactly are you?"
"What's this? Still dazed from the teleportation magic? It's ok, many students are often disoriented by that. I'll explain everything to you briefly on the way," he said cheerfully. "I'm very gracious after all!"
As they left the library, the man handed a hand mirror to Yuu, who blinked a couple of times in confusion, not just because he hadn't seen him get it out from somewhere.
"I don't want to sound rude to you, young one, but you should fix that a bit before entering the ceremony. You don't want to show yourself like that, right?"
He picked up the mirror and almost jumped as he saw himself reflected in it. He thought he had two huge dark circles under the eyes, but took a better look at what appeared to be a poorly blurred black eyeliner around his eyes.
Yuu had hardly ever applied eyeliner before, but apparently he had woken up with it on and had ruined it by rubbing his eyes... He fixed it the best he could.
He lowered the hood of his robe to check the rest of his face and hair, which didn't show any unusual changes: his eyes were still a pretty shade of blue and his jet-black hair was still short but voluminous, with neat bangs.
"Thank you, sir," he murmured handing him the mirror and putting the hood back on.
"Exactly, you look much better now!" the man commented cheerfully as he pulled Grim against himself in an attempt to keep him still.
After a while walking back, they entered the inner courtyard and the stranger interrupted the silence with a cough to clear his throat:
"This place is Night Raven College," he began with his introduction. "All those young magicians blessed with great aptitude for magic gather here, the most prestigious academy of magic in Twisted Wonderland," he said solemnly. "And I'm the principal, Dire Crowley."
"Magicians?" Yuu stuttered.
Thinking of an academy full of wizards made him think of different popular stories and movies with a similar plot. Why was he dreaming about something like that?
"Only those magicians seen as worthy by the Dark Mirror can attend this school," Crowley added. "Likewise, the chosen ones use the gates and are summoned here from anywhere in the world. A black carriage should have come to pick you up with the gate you woke up in, do you remember that?"
Yuu put a hand to his head.
"Now that I think about it, I remember seeing a dark forest and a horse with a scary face..." he replied.
"The Ebony Carriage welcomes new students chosen by the Dark Mirror. They are special carriages that carry the doors to the academy. The market decided long age that carriages are used to welcome people on special days."
"So that carriage brought me here?"
Yuu tried to remember that event, but everything was very blurry. Also, what market was he talking about?
On the other hand, Grim tried again to free himself from the headmaster's hands.
"Come on, the ceremony is over here," Crowley urged, ignoring the little monster.
Yuu quickly recognized the place where he woke up. Voices could now be heard coming from the previously empty room.
He was able to identify a conversation that spoke of the absence of the director, someone even asked if he had withdrawn due to stomach problems.
"Of course not!" Crowley exclaimed in response, opening the doors wide with a single push.
"Ah, here he is," a young red-haired boy of a similar height to Yuu commented.
Yuu was surprised, the immense place was now packed with hundreds of people dressed in the same clothes as him. Everyone was sitting in chairs, except for five people standing, including the red-haired boy and, for some reason, a strange blue flying tablet.
"Sometimes I can't believe you all. We were missing one new student, so I went to find him," the principal explained.
Yuu was not exactly a shy boy, but feeling the weight of lots of glances on him made him make sure that the hood of his robe covered his face well.
Crowley spoke to him again: "You are the only one who still does not have an assigned dorm. I'll take care of the raccoon, so come on, step in front of the Dark Mirror."
Grim shook desperately into his arms again.
With many doubts in his head, Yuu did the indicated and got startled by the appearance of a strange, pale face with what seemed to be black lace around their eyes.
It all seemed more and more like a strange, dark dream.
"State thy name," the mirror commandes with a deep voice.
"Yuu Oshiro," he answered with intrigue.
"Yuu Oshiro, the shape of thy soul is..." Yuu waited for an answer, but the mirror frowned and was silent for a few long seconds. "...I do not know ".
He looked up quickly, he had little idea what should have happened, but he had the feeling that something was wrong.
The headmaster seemed as confused as him.
"What did you say?" he asked.
"I sense not a spark of magic from this one... Color, shape, there is nothing. Therefore, he is suited for no dormitory." answered with a serious tone.
After hearing that, the other students began to murmur among themselves. No one understood what was happening, but Yuu wanted to be swallowed up by the earth at that very moment.
"The Ebony Carriage would absolutely never go to meet someone who can't use magic! In 100 years, there has not been once been a mistake in student selection." said Crowley with concern and looked at Yuu. "So why in the world..."
Grim took advantage of the headmaster's distraction to free himself from his arms.
"Then let me take his place!" He insisted after falling to the ground.
"Wait a moment, raccoon!" Shouted Crowley angrily. "Come back here!"
But the monster did not listen to him.
"Unlike that dumb human, I can use magic," he said with a wicked smile. "Let me enter instead of him! If you need me to prove it to you, I'll do it right now!"
The red-haired boy took a step back, fearing danger.
"Everybody, stay back!" He ordered.
Grim spat blue fire, igniting many parts of the ground and the backside of one of the boys leading the groups, specifically the one wearing what appeared to be a purple turban, who started running for help.
"At this rate the school will turn into a sea of fire!" Exclaimed the director. "Someone catch that raccoon!"
Yuu took a better look at the people leading the groups, all of them looked different despite wearing the same clothes and having hooded heads.
The first to respond to the headmaster was a young man with long dark hair with lion ears, who promptly refused with a reproach.
"Aren't you good at hunting?" Asked him other young boy with blond hair with lilac dyed tips, who Yuu found very handsome. "Doesn't it look like a nice, big snack?"
"Why me? Do it yourself." He replied reluctantly.
A silver-haired boy with glasses approached.
"Leave it to me, Mr. Crowley," he said in an elegant tone before turning his pleasant expression to a malicious one. "I am sure that the others will not want to hurt the poor creature, so I offer myself."
"Just as expected from you, Azul!" Said suddenly a voice from the tablet. "Always taking the chance to earn extra points."
"Could anyone help me!?" Asked the boy in the turban desperately, still on fire.
"Drop... drop to the ground and spin in the floor! That way you will put out the flames!" Yuu exclaimed aloud in an attempt to do something in the midst of the chaos.
Fortunately, the boy listened to him, understood what he meant and could put the fire out of his body.
"Are you even listening to me?!" Asked Crowley angrily when he saw that no one was doing anything to stop Grim, who continued making a chaos.
The young man with the lion's ears crossed his arms.
"It's just catching a stupid raccoon, can't you do it yourself, professor?" Asked as if he didn't care about the situation.
Grim ran around nearby and heard him.
"How many times do I have to tell you!? I'm not a raccoon!" he yelled angrily before returning to his wicked grin. "I, the great Grim, will become the most powerful magician in the world!"
With that he ran again to continue showing his fire powers.
"This seems complicated," Azul commented before turning to the young red-haired boy, "could you help me, Riddle?"
"Let's hurry," urged the one now known as Riddle, "I can't let those who break the rules pass."
Both young men chased after Grim for a long time, throwing magical attacks with what Yuu could identify as magic wands. Finally Riddle found the perfect opportunity and yelled: "Off with your head!"
Grim screamed as he felt a strange heart-shaped collar close around his neck.
"What the heck is this!?" he asked in shock as he was grabbed by Riddle.
"Law of the Queen of Hearts number 23" the young boy simply said: "'You should never bring cats to a celebration'. The fact that you are a cat makes you break the rules, so I have to make sure you leave as soon as possible."
"I'm not a cat!" insisted the creature furiously. "You'll see! I'm going to burn this collar right away...!" He tried to blow fire, but nothing came out. "Eh?! I can't use my fire!" He yelled worriedly.
"You will not be able to use any magic until I remove it, until then you will be nothing more than a mere cat."
"What!? I'm not a cat or anything like a pet!"
"Don't worry, I wouldn't have something like you as a pet either," he told him sternly. "I'll take it from you as soon as you leave this place."
"Wow, amazing as ever, Riddle!" exclaimed Azul in wonder. "You are capable of sealing any kind of magic with your Unique Magic." His gaze turned for a moment into one of a hungry carnivore and he muttered something that Yuu didn't understand, but quickly changed to the earlier cordial expression. "I would never wish that being casted on me."
Still in his confused state, Yuu got startled when the headmaster turned his attention back to him.
"You must do something about this!" He said with a firm voice. "He's your familiar, right?" Yuu shook his head fervently. "Properly discip...! Eh? It is not yours?"
"This is the first time in my life I see him, sir." he finally answered. "I've tried to tell you before..."
"Oh... you did?" He asked self-consciously before clearing his throat and turning to Grim again. "Anyway, let's get you out of school as soon as possible. We will not cook you, since I am very gracious. Someone help us with this, please."
One of the hooded students grabbed him and headed for the door.
"Let me go!" Grim shouted, trying to free himself again. "You'll see, one day... I'll become the greatest magician ever!"
He was able to say that before the door closed.
"Suddenly I feel sorry for him..." Yuu commented to himself. "But why was he so eager to enter in this school?"
No one heard him, not even Crowley, who continued speaking to the rest of the students: "Well, we had a bit of trouble along the way but this brings the entrance ceremony to a close. Dorm leaders, take the students to the dorms." He seemed to notice something. "Now that I think about it, I don't see the leader of Diasomnia, the young Draconia, anywhere."
"As always, right?" the lion-eared man asked without surprise.
"Eh? Didn't anyone tell him about the ceremony?" Asked the boy on the turban.
"If you're going to complain, you could have done it yourself before," the handsome boy replied.
"But I don't really know anything about that guy..."
The students murmured among themselves again."Draconia? Are they referring to that Malleus Draconia?"
"Does he really attend the same school as us? Right here?"
Yuu thought that that person must be scary if people talked about him like that.
Then another person entered, someone of short stature, similar to Riddle's, with large magenta eyes. He looked young and adorable, but Yuu was surprised to hear his unexpectedly deep voice.
"I knew it" he said. "I thought he might come this time, but Malleus really didn't. It seems that, once again, he did not 'receive' the invitation again."
"My deepest apologies," Azul said. "I promise we did not intend to exclude you."
"His aura on him makes it hard to approach him." Riddle added.
"It's okay" said the newcomer. "The members of Diasomnia can come with me." he announced before muttering to himself: "I hope this doesn't upset him..."
The room gradually emptied among the murmurs of the young people who spoke among themselves.
The blond dorm leader took a little longer to talk for a few minutes with a tall, strong guy. On the other hand, the leader with the turban on his head approached Yuu.
"Excuse me," he called him.
"Eh? Yes?" he was the first person after Grim and Crowley to talk to him in that strange place.
"I just wanted to thank you for helping me with the fire, I owe you one!" he said with a warm smile.
He looked so charming that Yuu felt his cheeks burn a bit. "It was nothing! Anyone could have done it." He insisted. "I just wanted to do something in the middle of the chaos..."
"Still, thank you very much! Oh, I better go! Bye!" he said before leaving with another dark-skinned boy who was looking at him impatiently.
Finally everyone left, so Yuu was left alone with the director. He didn't feel comfortable and wondered what he was going to do now.
"Young Yuu," Crowley called him back to reality. "I don't mean to be rude, and I'm really sorry to tell you this, but I must make you leave this academy. Those who have no talent for magic can't stay here."
He felt upset, on the one hand those words sounded a bit sad, even if the headmaster had a good reason; but on the other hand, he was relieved to be able to get out of that madness.
"Okay, I understand," he replied. "Where is the exit? I'll leave as soon as possible."
"Don't worry, the Dark Mirror will take you back to the place you came from," said as he urged him to approach the mirror.
"Okay." He looked thoughtfully at the mirror in front of him and looked back at the headmaster. "Thank you very much for your help, sir. And... I'm sorry for any inconvenience I may have caused."
"Don't say that, young boy! As the person in charge of this place, I am the one who apologizes for this confusion." He said in a formal tone. "All right, now stand in front of the gate and picture your home clearly in your mind."
Yuu stood firm, closed his eyes and thought deeply about his bedroom.
That had been a very strange dream, he hoped to remember in the morning to tell everything Yukiko in detail, who would surely ask him why he would have dreamed something like that if they had not seen any fantasy movies in a long time.
"Oh, Dark Mirror," summoned Crowley. "Send this being back to the place it belongs!"
Yuu expected to wake up from the dream or enter into a turbulent journey, but the face in the mirror kept a serious expression, without saying a single word...
The boy opened an eye when he felt nothing new.
"Does it usually take a long time? Or am I doing something wrong?" he asked the headmaster.
Crowley cleared his throat, puzzled as he was.
"Let's try it one more time. Dark Mirror, guide this one...!"
But the spirit of the mirror interrupted him with chilling words:
"There is no place."
"Eh?" asked Crowley, confused.
"This being does not belong to any part of this world. Therefore, their place of origin is non-existent."
Yuu frowned worriedly.
Even the principal himself seemed appalled.
"What did you say? I can't believe this! Although... many incredible things have happened today without a stop!"
The Dark Mirror did not reply.
"This is the first time something like this has happened since I became the headmaster. What should be..?" He turned to see Yuu sternly. "You. Where do you exactly come from?"
That only made Yuu even more nervous.
"I... I'm from Chiba! A city that is not far away from Tokyo, the capital of my country."
"I've never heard of that place," replied the director thoughtfully. "I have a general knowledge of the place of origin of the students, but this is the first time that I have heard those names. Come with me, let's do some research in the library."
"Okay..." was the only thing he could think of to reply.
They returned to the library where they met. Yuu lost track of time in his attempt to search for answers.
"There really isn't anything." Crowley commented seriously. "Not only the world map, but the name of your home isn't written in any book or document."
Yuu was so focused on processing the situation that he was unable to answer. The map before him on the table clearly showed a world very different from the one he knew. He would never dream of something as clear and elaborate as that...
It was the ultimate proof that he was not dreaming, that he was living in reality ...
... and trapped in a world he couldn't possibly get out of.
"Are you really from where you say you are?" Crowley asked questioningly. "You're not lying to me by any chance?"
"No, sir, I swear!" Yuu insisted, concerned. "I would never lie about something like this! I'm not looking for trouble! I'm really not!"
"Then, based on all this, it looks like you came from another planet. We even have the probability that you come from a different world."
"What!? A different world?! Is that even possible?"
It seemed to him one of the most typical and cliched arguments for an anime, but much more terrifying since he was the one who was living it and without even knowing how or why he got there.
Crowley continued with the questions: "Did you have something on you when you woke up here? Any identification like a license to drive a magical vehicle or the name on a shoe? You seem to be empty handed."
Yuu searched for something among the clothes he was wearing, feeling the little hope he had left vanished. "Now that you mention it, I don't have my wallet or my cell phone, I don't even remember wearing these clothes before I woke up..." He replied.
"This is concerning," Crowley said thoughtfully. "I can't allow someone without magic to stay in this school..."
Yuu feared the worst, he did not know anything or anyone in that world at all, and apparently it was going to be impossible to survive without the ability to use magic. But the headmaster had not finished speaking.
"However, as an educator, I can't just toss a penniless teenager out on the street with no form of communication." He smiled suddenly. "For I am gracious."
After thinking for a minute, he found a solution: "Oh, that's right! There is an unused building on the campus. It was once used as a dormitory in the past so if you can clean it up, you should at least be able to sleep there. For the time being, I shall allow you to stay there for a while! Meanwhile I will find some way to return you to your world. Ah, I am so gracious! I am an model for all educators!"
That didn't relieve Yuu of all his worries, but he was relieved to have at least a place to go.
"We'd better go as soon as possible," Crowley said, snapping out of his reverie of graciousness. "I will take you to the dormitory. As I said it is a bit old, but it has a certain charm to it!"
"Okay..." replied Yuu and followed him.
On the way, Crowley could see the worried expression of the boy. Now he could better understand the reason for his bewilderment and his clear ignorance of the Night Raven. He must had to forcefully process many things in a very short time...
"It's here, we've arrived. I present to you Ramschackle dorm!"
Yuu stared at the place in disbelief, which had all the signs of being abandoned years ago, it was in ruins and there were even tombstones and cobwebs everywhere possible.
"That's too much charm..." he commented without daring to say that the place seemed to be literally haunted. Only the ghosts were missing.
"Right, right?" Crowley asked excitedly without catching his sarcasm. "Please, come inside."
It was hardly necessary to open the doors of the double entrance gate, since one of them was even out of the frame."Wait a second," said the principal before fixing it with a wave of his hand with magic, so that at least it could be closed.
They reached what seemed to be the living room.
"You can at least keep out of the rain here," Crowley said. "I'll go investigate a little more, so make yourself at home. And do not wander around the campus! Now, if you excuse me, I'll see you soon."
And he left the place after saying goodbye with a hand gesture.
It wasn't like he wanted to wander around in a place he didn't know, much less in the dark of the night.
"Well, at least it's better than nothing," Yuu commented out loud after making sure he was completely alone.
He pulled down the hood of his robe and glanced around: the accumulated dust on the fireplace's ledge was so thick it looked like snow, the large sofas had to be cleaned to even sit down, the pictures were crooked, the wallpapers needed an urgent change, there were many cobwebs and for some reason the rocking chair and the small table that were there were upside down.
He turned these last two pieces of furniture as best he could and shook the sofa next to the large window out a bit to sit down. After thinking for a while about his situation, he decided to investigate a little the place that would become his new residence for who knows how long.
The nearest door led to the kitchen, which was connected to the dining room, where there was a large table and several chairs. At the entrance was a small room with various cleaning supplies, including a couple of mops and brooms, a bucket, and several rags. This encouraged him to clean at least the living room, dust and sweep the floor. After all he didn't have much else to do in that moment...
The place looked a bit more decent to live in when he finished. Just at that moment it started to rain, he put away the things he used and leaned his arms on the back of the sofa next to the window to watch the rain fall.
"Such a strong rain..." commented at the speed it had formed.
The walls of the room became damp and in no time leaks appeared in the ceiling.
"Hyii! It's really coming down!"
That familiar high-pitched voice snapped him out of his thoughts and he rolled over on the couch with a start. "Who's there?! How did you get in?!"
The cat-like intruder laughed.
"You should see that stupid look of yours! You look like a spider being attacked by a water gun!" He changed his expression to one of his malicious glances. "I had no problem sneaking into the school again, come on! If those guys think kicking me out will change my mind, they're truly mistaken!"
Yuu hadn't forgotten that that monster-cat had tried to attack him.
"Help!!! He's back!"
Grim got alarmed and put a paw to his mouth.
"Hey! Shh!! Lower your voice!" He begged. "I don't want to be kicked out again!"
Seeing him act like this removed the feeling of danger, so Yuu sat calmly on the couch and looked at him suspiciously.
"Okay, okay... But why do you want so much to enter this school?" He asked him.
Grim blinked a few times before answering.
"The answer is simple: because I am a genius who is destined to be a great magician! I've been waiting for the Ebony Carriage to pick me up for a long time, but... but...". His huge blue eyes watered, but he held his pride and snorted. "The Dark Mirror doesn't have enough eye for this. That's why I came here on my own!"
Yuu listened carefully.
"Not letting me in here would be a great loss for the world," he continued as he approached him. "Humans can't understand that."
The leaks grew in size and a drop of water fell very close to Grim.
"So cold!" he cried with a meow. "The roof is leaking!" Another drop fell on his left shoulder. "Uah! And it still goes on! At this rate my lovely fire ears will go out!" He said after getting on the sofa next to Yuu in search of refuge.
"We'll have to find a bucket," the human said as he remembered the one he had seen earlier and looked for the source of the leaks.
"Magic should fix this leak up in no time." Grim commented before looking at Yuu expectantly.
"I can't use magic..." He answered uneasily.
"Eh? You can't? Ha!" He laughed mockingly. "How useless!"
Yuu frowned and got up to get the bucket.
"Well, if you are such a great magician, you could help me with this, right?"
"Help you? No way! Right now I'm just a simple monster looking for shelter from the rain." Yuu thought that only contradicted everything he had just said about being a powerful wizard. "You better have a can of tuna ready before I do any work."
The number of leaks increased, so Yuu rushed to place the first bucket under a nearby one.
"I'd better find another bucket..." He muttered as he saw that one would not be enough.
He decided to upstairs to look for more, he would also explore the building better that way. At first Grim did not want to follow him, but when he felt alone in that old place, a feeling of fear invaded him throughout his body and followed him.
The young boy decided to try looking in a long corridor with some doors, but as soon as he passed by, he heard a noise. It could have been Grim walking behind him or the creaking of an old plank of wood, but he had suddenly a horrible feeling.
At that very moment, the pale figures of three ghosts appeared in front of him.
Yuu gasped and wished he was hallucinating, he was speechless with fear.
He was already trapped in an unknown world, the last thing he needed was to run into actual ghosts!
The ghosts disappeared, but Yuu knew that things weren't going to stay that way. He took several steps back.
"Hi, hi, hi, hi!" Laughed grimly the voice of one of them. "Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi! It's been a long time since we had guests... I was really looking forward for some action. Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi!"
The ghosts appeared before him again. He couldn't take it anymore and screamed in horror.
Grim was behind him right then.
"Why are you screaming?" He asked before noticing the ghosts and screaming in horror as well. "Aaahhh! Gho-...! Ghosts!"
"The people who lived here got scared of us and left," said the medium-sized ghost.
"We've been looking for new ghost companions," the bigger, plump-looking ghost continued. "What about you two? Do you want to join us?"
That was basically a death threat. Yuu wanted to run away, but the ghosts were moving quickly towards them.
"Help!" He screamed.
Chapter 2: Alone
Grim was also scared, but he somehow swallowed his fear and stepped in front of them.
"A magician like me, the great Grim, is not afraid of ghosts!! Take this!" He exclaimed in a trembling voice.
He began to blow up fire the same way that he had done hours before at the entrance ceremony.
The ghosts easily avoided his attacks, it didn't help either that he kept appearing and disappearing to confuse him. In his astonishment, Yuu noticed that Grim had his eyes closed as he attacked.
"Aim where you attack! At this rate you are going to set everything on fire!" he exclaimed.
"You shut up! Don't give me any orders!" Grim yelled angrily in response.
Yuu knew the monster very little, but he came up with a good idea to be able to team up with him and defeat the ghosts together.
"Look at it this way! If you scare off ghosts, the headmaster may see something in you as a magician!", he said. "Also, if we get out of this and I it's possible for me, I'll give you a can of tuna as a reward."
Both proposals were just as tempting to Grim, but pride got the better of him.
"I'm a great magician! I can do it alone!"
He barely finished saying that when the ghosts began to approach with a menacing laughter.
"You are such a bunch of cowards!" Grim exclaimed.
"Did I say one can of tuna? What about two cans of tuna when you win?" Yuu suggested. "Of course, be careful not to burn me or it will be impossible for me to reward you!"
Grim grunted between frustration and temptation to reward him until he made up his mind.
"Hey, you! Tell me where the ghosts are!" he ordered pointing at Yuu with a paw.
"Count with me!" the human exclaimed before remembering the situation they were both in. "To your left! Look out!"
He was able to hit two of the ghosts squarely.
"It's hot!" cried one of them.
"I hit it!" Grim exclaimed with satisfaction. "Okay, let's get them out of here!"
They continued like that: Yuu gave Grim directions to attack. They did not know how long it had been until the ghosts decided to surrender and fled in horror.
"Eh? We won?" Grim asked when they didn't return.
For the first time since he came to that world, Yuu felt an actual relief.
"Yes, we did it!" He exclaimed happily. "You are amazing, Grim! Thank you so much for everything!"
Grim sighed also in relief, with fear still reflected in his eyes.
"That was scar..." He murmured before remembering to maintain his pride. "No! I wasn't scared at all! This has been nothing for the great Grim! What do you think of that, ghosts? Was that all you could do?"
Yuu chuckled softly at the sudden change in attitude from his new partner.
At that very moment they heard footsteps behind them. The ghosts had no legs, so it couldn't be them.
"Good evening, young Yuu!" exclaimed Crowley cheerfully. "I have graciously brought you dinner! I left it for you in the living room..." He noticed Grim standing on the floor and his face changed. "Hey! You are the monster who wreaked havoc at the ceremony! I thought I threw you out, what are you doing here!?"
Grim snorted in annoyance. "I fixed the problem with the ghosts! Be grateful!" He replied proudly.
The director frowned. "Eh? What are you talking about?"
"Some ghosts tried to attack us just a moment ago," Yuu began to explain. "So we teamed up to defend ourselves, I gave Grim directions to aim and he blowed fire. I promise we didn't burn anything!"
"Now that you mention it," Crowley said thoughtfully after hearing him. "There's some prankster ghosts living here, that's why the students left this dormitory and that's why it is now empty, I'd forgotten that, however..." He murmured. "The fact that you worked together as a team to get rid of them..."
"Don't say things like 'team' or 'work together'!" Grim exclaimed before turning back to the headmaster and pointing at Yuu. "He was just standing there. And I only did it for cans of tuna." He raised his paws as if he remembered something. "Ah! Speaking of which, I still haven't received my tuna yet."
Yuu put a hand to his forehead in disapproval and sighed.
"I'd like you to show me how you scared those ghosts away," Crowley announced.
"But we've already taken care of them!" answered Grim. "Before that, give-me tu-na!" he demanded.
"I'll act as the ghost," said the headmaster as he searched something inside his pockets. "If you defeat me, I'll give you tuna," he said, pulling out a small bottle. "Now then, transformation potion!"
He drank some of its content and, keeping his mask and top hat, he transformed into a little ghost before the eyes of the monster and the human.
"This day couldn't get any weirder..." Yuu thought.
"Hey!? I don't want that!" Grim complained. "It's a pain and I don't want to team up with him again..."
"I don't know about you, Grim," Yuu said, "But the headmaster has offered you several cans of tuna in exchange... Besides, remember what I told you before: maybe he will see some potential in you as the great magician you are."
Once again, Grim grunted at the tempting proposal. "This is the last time! You absolutely, absolutely have to give me the tuna!!!"
It was a bit more difficult to defeat the headmaster in that ghost state, as he was moving much faster than the previous trio. However they managed to watch, point and attack as best they could.
After a long time, Crowley reached the point of exhaustion and returned to his original form.
Yuu sighed after the great concentration he had to go through and noticed Grim, who seemed more tired than him.
"How about this!?" Grim asked defiantly while panting.
Crowley looked at them as if he had witnessed something impossible to happen.
"I can't believe it, a person who can give directions to monsters," he said before considering it thoughtfully. "Actually, my teacher senses were telling me from the chaos of the ceremony that you might have a talent as an animal tamer or as a beast trainer."
Grim looked at him in surprise, Yuu in a questioning way. Was it so rare for this magical world for a human to work with a creature like Grim?
"Still..." Crowley muttered almost inaudibly. "Even if he really was that, this young boy doesn't look like he could endure a huge beast without getting eaten, furthermore..."
Yuu couldn't hear the rest, but frowned a bit. Although he could run more or less fast and had a good resistance, he was not very tall or physically strong, and more than once he had been described as a cute-looking boy, similar to his mother and his sister. But he didn't like to be thought as a wimp or something like that.
He put those thoughts aside and looked at Grim, who was staring expectantly at the headmaster. He also thought about what they had just experienced.
"Excuse me, Mr. Crowley," Yuu woke him from his musings. "Is it possible that Grim can stay with me here in the dormitory?"
He surprised him with his question.
"Eh? Let a monster live here?"
Grim was also not indifferent.
"You..." he murmured.
"I would feel a little lonely in this place," Yuu explained. "I'm also afraid that the ghosts will come back and Grim would help me a lot if they tried to attack again. And even if we tried to kick him out, he could still come back without any problem. So... could he stay here? Please?"
Crowley weighed the reasons, the boy was alone in an unknown world with no one next to him. Besides, as he had just said, it would not matter how many times Grim was thrown out if he was able to return again and again.
"I guess there's no other choice..." Crowley sighed. "Okay, he can stay."
Grim's gaze lit up.
"Eh? Really!? Am I going to be a student!?"
"However," Crowley continued. "I cannot let someone who has not been chosen by the Dark Mirror, let alone a monster, be a student." Grim lowered his ears and gazed in indignation. "And as for you Yuu, I can't let you be a freeloader here until you return to your world.
"Wow... talking about short-lived joy..." Grim complained.
"Let me finish talking," he said before returning to Yuu. "Considering that your soul was brought up here, the school must take responsibility as owners of the Dark Mirror, so I will allow you to live here without the need for payment, but other needs will have to be granted yourself."
"How could I do that, sir?" Yuu asked him.
"Seeing that you have nothing in your name, I have a proposal for you."
Despite showing a kind smile, the young boy swallowed with concern.
"What are you exactly going to make me do?"
"Come on, don't be like that," the headmaster replied. "I'll just give you cleaning and maintenance jobs around campus. From what I could see, you are good at cleaning," he said, thinking about how good the living room looked after leaving the boy alone. "Would you like to be the school janitor?" Yuu tilted his head in doubt. "With that you will have a special permission to be around the school, you can also investigate how to return to your world or other things in the library. Since I am very kind! Yes indeed! Of course, as long as you finish your work."
"Eh?! I don't want that!" Grim refused. "I want to be a student and wear one of those fancy uniforms, ya know?"
Crowley shrugged. "It's okay if you refuse, I'll just throw you out again."
Grim was horrified just thinking about it.
"Fgna!? Okay, I get it! If I have to do it, I will!"
"Not that I have many options..." said Yuu. "All right, sir. I'll take the upon the offer."
"Very well," declared the director. "So you two, starting tomorrow take it upon yourself to become the best custodians at Night Raven College!"
At that very instant, a noise coming from Yuu resounded in the place. The young boy frowned in embarrassment. He hadn't eaten anything since his arrival.
"That will be tomorrow morning, but now you should have something to eat before bed," Crowley pointed out. "You will need strength to work. Like I told you before, I left something for you in the living room, I hope you like it."
"Okay, sir. Thank you very much for everything..." was the only thing that occurred to him to reply.
"Hey! What about my tuna!?"
"Give me time to look for it, little monster!" Crowley snapped. "Well, I better go now. Don't go to bed too late, okay? I'll see you tomorrow."
And he left again.
Yuu's stomach rumbled again. With a sigh, he walked back to the living room.
"Hey, human," Grim called him. "Why did you ask that guy for me to stay here? I thought you hated me for what I tried to do to you before."
"Eh? Oh, for the same thing I said before," he replied. "I'm sure you would come back even if they kicked you out, moreover I wouldn't feel comfortable if someone is forced to leave and I didn't do anything about it. And even though you tried to attack me before, you also helped me a lot with the ghosts, so I thought you could be a good company in this place."
"I..." Grim muttered, not knowing exactly what to reply to that, "I didn't actually want to hurt you, I just wanted to scare you into giving me that robe you're wearing." Yuu had almost forgot he was still wearing it. "So they would think that the Ebony Carriage came to pick me as a new student..."
"I see..." Yuu answered. "I admit that I was scared, I didn't understand anything of what was happening. And to be honest, I still don't. But we're still knowing each other, so and you didn't hurt me, so that won't make me dislike you or something"
They reached the living room, where a sandwich wrapped in plastic and two bottles of water were laying on the table.
"I hope it's with tuna..." Grim commented.
"Nope," Yuu said with a slight smile after reviewing the content. "It's with beef meat."
"Oh! Well, that will do!"
"We can share it. You can also keep one of the bottles, you must be thirsty after scaring the ghosts."
Grim looked at him in surprise, he did not remember the last time a human had received him with such kindness.
"I guess I'll take your offer," Grim commented proudly as he climbed onto the couch. "I must let my henchman regain his strength too." Yuu laughed at the comment. "By the way, what was your name again?"
Yuu sat next to him.
"I'm Yuu. Yuu Oshiro." He stretched out a hand. "Nice to meet you, Grim. Now that we are going to live together, I hope we can get along."
With a bit of hesitation, Grim placed his paw on his hand to make a gentle handshake.
After dinner, they explored the bedroom a bit more.
In addition to the living room, storage room, kitchen and dining room, there were two other smaller living rooms on the first floor, a study and four bedrooms, all of them with just one bed.
Grim insisted on sleeping in the same room as Yuu, who assumed he was afraid of the ghosts, but decided not to ask.
"This one looks good," said the human, looking closely at one in particular, which had a mirror over the fireplace, "it's not too messy, so tonight we just have to dust the sheets to sleep. We'll take care of the rest tomorrow."
"Do it yourself, I'm already very tired," Grim insisted.
"Come on, just help me shake the pillow. You can handle that, right?"
"You weren't the one who attacked the ghosts! I am physically exhausted!" He exclaimed dramatically.
"Okay..." sighed Yuu. "But tomorrow we'll work together to clean up, okay? Oh, I wonder if there it is..."
He opened the closet, it was empty. He rummaged through the drawers in there and luckily found a long-sleeved white T-shirt and black pants that looked ideal for sleeping.
His robe had gotten a bit in the way of cleaning the living room, and with what he had just found something more comfortable.
Grim wasn't going to feel anything to see a human change their clothes, but he turned around as soon as he took off the belt of his robe.
"Done, we can go to sleep now."
Grim climbed onto the bed.
"Hey what's wrong? You seem gloomy all of a sudden."
Yuu tried to stay positive since dinner, but now sitting up in bed he seemed worried about something.
"It's nothing, I was just thinking about my family."
"Oh, do you have a family?"
"Yes, in my world. I don't know how are they right now and I imagine that everyone will be worried about me. My mother, my sister, my aunt..."
"The headmaster said you could find a way to go back, right?"
"Yes, he also told me that he would find a way too. Still..." He shook his head. "It's nothing, I'll think about that tomorrow."
As she lay down on the bed, one of his legs cracked and knocked her off balance, scaring them both at the sudden movement.
"Seriously?!" shouted Grim.
"At least it isn't completely broken, we'll take care of that later," Yuu said after recovering himself.
He wrapped himself in the blanket and tried to get comfortable. He noticed Grim curling up next to him and fell asleep in a matter of minutes, something he would have liked to do, since he had a hard time falling asleep that night.
The next morning they were awakened by the ghosts of the night before.
"Good morning," the larger ghost greeted with a gloomy smile.
Yuu was too tired to react to the same guys who tried to attack him the night before.
"Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh. Don't you have to clean the school?" Asked the thin ghost mockingly while peering over the edge of the bed.
Still asleep, Yuu pulled his arms out of the blanket.
"I see you heard about it," he murmured, rubbing his eyes.
Grim meowed wearily.
"Five minutes more..."
"If you keep sleeping like this, you will never be able to get up again," the little ghost warned.
"Like us!" Laughed the big, chubby ghost.
Grim recognized the trio and reacted.
"Fgna!? You are the ghosts of last night! Yuu, wake up!"
The human boy snapped his eyes open at the exclamation, but didn't move from his place.
"Are you going to live with us? Then you will go through a lot of our jokes!" Laughed the thin ghost.
"We'll get rid of you again sooner or later!" Grim exclaimed.
At that moment the headmaster entered the room. Yuu finally reacted and hurried to get up.
"Good morning to you both," he greeted. "Did you sleep well?"
As a way to say no, Grim told him about the bed incident.
"How could you leave this place so ruined?" he added. "And the ghosts have woken us up! This is the worst!"
"Yes, sir. Everything is alright," Yuu lied as he didn't dare to say that he had slept horribly, fearing to show ingratitude.
"I see you can stay positive despite being dragged from another world. Wonderful! Well, I've come to talk about your first job."
In the living room, Crowley told them to clean the main street of the campus, since cleaning the entire school without magic would be difficult.
"Yuu, make sure to keep a good eye on Grim so he doesn't cause any problems like yesterday."
"Understood, sir. You can count on me," he said, thinking it shouldn't be too difficult.
"I'm counting on you. You two have permission to eat in the cafeteria. Do your best in your work."
When he left, Grim snorted:
"I refuse to clean. I want to go to class and bang! Boom, boom, boom! And to recite a bunch of awesome spells!
"You can study magic in the library when we finish the job," Yuu replied.
Grim just grunted.
They took a broom, a dustpan, a bucket and a sponge and walked with them to what must have been the main street, where they found some statues of people and a lion.
There were several boys on their way to class, Yuu found it curious that he had not seen any girl among the students yet. Would it be an all-boys' school?
"It's ok, Yuu," he told himself as he tried to avoid any eye contact. "Don't feel intimidated by something like this, you are just someone who is fulfilling a deal..."
Grim, on the other hand, watched the statues in fascination.
"Wow! I didn't get a good look yesterday, but whose statues are these? All of them seem scary." He pointed to one in particular of a woman in a voluminous dress. "Who will that woman be?"
"Oh, you don't know about the Queen of Hearts?" Asked from behind a young red-haired man with a red heart mark on his left eye.
Yuu was surprised, he didn't expect someone to stop to talk to him.
"The Queen of Hearts?" Grim repeated. "It's she important?"
"In the past she was a great queen who lived in the Labyrinth of Roses. She was someone who highly valued rules and discipline in everything, from the march of the Card Soldiers to the color of rose bushes. It was a world full of madness that was under her command!" he explained enthusiastically. "Why do you ask? Because or else it was off with your head!
"That's terrifying!" Grim exclaimed after swallowing hard.
"I like it! She's great!" The boy replied. "Nobody would listen to a queen who is good all the time, don't you think?"
"I guess," Grim replied. "It is better to have a strong leader. By the way, who are you?"
"I'm Ace, a freshman. Nice to meet you," he said cheerfully.
"I'm Grim, a genius who will become a great magician," Grim introduced himself. "And this skinny guy here is Yuu, my henchman."
Yuu thought he felt a tic in his eye, but hid his annoyance.
"I'm Yuu Oshiro," he replied with the same kindness as the new acquaintance. "And I'm nobody's henchman."
"You've got an odd sounding name," Ace commented.
"Oh, you think so?" He asked, slightly tilting his head.
"Yes, I've never heard one like yours!"
Grim interrupted their conversation by pointing to the lion statue. "Hey, Ace. And this lion with the scar? Is he also famous?"
That way, Grim asked him about the rest of the statues and Ace told them about the legends related to the characters.
Grim listened in admiration to the stories as he looked at each of the statues. Yuu, on the other hand, began to have a strange burning feeling in his left shoulder while listening to them, as if something was amiss, especially with the King of Beasts, who had supposedly ascended to the throne with lots of effort and elaborate plans. This one was so strong that he needed to rub it hoping to relieve it without much success. The burning faded a bit with the rest of the stories, but did not dissipate completely until Ace finished telling.
"They're all so cool..." Ace commented before turning his kind smile into a mocking one. "Unlike certain raccoon!"
Yuu blinked a few times at the change in attitude. Grim was startled to realize that he was referring to him.
Ace tried to hold back, but he laughed as if he had just been told a hilarious joke.
"I can't take it anymore! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!" He continued laughing.
"What's wrong?" Yuu asked without hiding his concern.
"Aren't you the ones who got crazy at yesterday's entrance ceremony?" He asked with a cheeky smile. "You are the boy who was called by the Dark Mirror even though you can't use magic, and you, a monster, weren't called but still trespassed. It took me a lot to keep from laughing!
"What?! You are rude!" Grim yelled at him.
"And now you aren't allowed in and got regulated to be a janitor?" He asked Yuu. "How lame!"
Grim snarled furiously.
"Excuse me!" Yuu exclaimed. "But for your information, I have no choice but to work this way. So don't talk like you know anything about me!"
"Look who's talking about knowing nothing!" He replied with mock indignation. You don't even know the Great Seven. What is your level of ignorance? I recommend you go back to kindergarten before you even enter Night Raven College," he said before laughing again.
Grim's fury seemed to reach its limits, which worried Yuu.
"I was thinking of just messing around with you guys a little bit, but you but you really blew my expectations away. Well, unlike the two of you, I have classes to attend," he said with a wave of his hand. "Do a good work cleaning the school!"
If Yukiko were with him, that Ace would surely be the next victim of her grudge, Yuu thought.
But she wasn't there...
Besides being in an unknown world, he was now being teased for something he didn't want...
"Leave it aside, Grim," he told to the still furious cat-like monster as he rolled his shirt up to his elbows. "He is just an idiot, there are many more like him. Come on, let's get to work as soon as possible."
But Grim didn't hear a single word from him.
"This jerk!" He exclaimed. "He says all that and he has the nerve to leave! I wont allow it!"
Realizing what was about to happen, Yuu tried to stop him.
"Grim! What are you doing!? Stop it, it's not worth it!"
He had one thing to worry about even more seeing him run towards Ace and attack him with fire. She rushed to follow him, but was late.
"Hey, watch out!!" Ace exclaimed, narrowly avoiding the flames. "What do you think you're doing?!"
At least the smile was gone from his face.
"It's what you deserve for making fun of me!" Grim yelled with satisfaction. "I'm going to set that red head of yours on fire!"
That bothered him.
"Red head? You have the guts to picking a fight with me." He took his pen with a red gem from his pocket. "Then I'll turn you into a stuffed-poodle!"
Grim was the first to attack and created a strong puff of fire, but Ace avoided it.
"Hey, watch that," the human told him with the same mocking smile as before. "Take this!"
He conjured what appeared to be wind magic and deflected the blue flares. Grim didn't like that at all.
The uproar drew the attention of the closest students.
"Eh? A fight?", asked a concerned student in a uniform similar to Ace's.
"Yeah! Get 'em!", a tall boy with animal ears encouraged them.
Yuu was horrified to see that no one did anything to stop them.
"No! Stop right now! Both of you!" He yelled, losing his patience.
But no one paid any attention to him.
"A little spark like that won't even touch me," Ace boasted.
"What have you said? You better get ready!" Grim yelled. "Eat this!"
"Grim, no! Stop!!"
Yuu grabbed Grim the moment he blew out a thick blue fire, from which several flames were deflected by Ace's wind and reached into his arms to burn them on the spot.
He screamed, dropped Grim instinctively and flinched back in pain.
As the little monster turned to see what had happened to him, Ace focused more on the attack and with his wind magic deflected it, from all possible places, towards the statue of the Queen of Hearts.
Ace reacted and screamed in horror.
"That's what you get for deflecting my attacks!" Grim snapped at him. "Just let me fry you!"
"Who in their sane mind would allow themselves to be fried!?
"Enough!!!" Crowley's voice yelled angrily, approaching them as he drew his whip. "What's going on here?!"
The defiant attitude of both fighters changed into one of horror.
"The headmaster!" Ace yelled.
"He's going to roll us up with his 'whip of love'!" Grim screeched as he recalled his experience the day before. "Every man for himself!"
He tried to run away, but the headmaster hit him easily with the whip. He did the same with Ace.
"You wouldn't run from my whip of love in a hundred years! Didn't I tell you not to cause trouble? Now you go and scorch a statue of the Great Seven! I'd like to see you two expelled."
"Wait! Anything but that!", asked Ace.
"And you, young Yuu! You call this watching Grim?"
Yuu had just watched the scene in horror as he held onto his arms.
"I'm sorry, sir," he apologized, looking away. "I really tried to stop them, but I couldn't."
He closed his eyes and gritted his teeth after moving his right arm a bit.
The headmaster's gaze relaxed almost immediately when he saw him like that.
"You two, don't even think about moving from there! And everybody, go to class. There is nothing for you to see here!" He reached to Yuu. "Are you hurt? Show me."
Yuu extended both arms, the right one showing the more light red marks.
"Did you really try to stop them?"
The young boy nodded.
"Fortunately the burns don't look serious, but roll up your sleeves again, don't let them get worse." Crowley moved closer to Ace and Grim. "Not only do you burn school property, but you hurt someone in the process! You, tell me your name and school year!"
"Ace Trappola, first year," he said defeated.
"Okay, Trappola and Grim, as punishment, you have to clean one hundred windows all over campus," he said.
"What!? All this because this fool made fun of us!?" Grim asked indignantly.
"What!? Me too?" Ace asked the same way.
"Of course! After classes I want you two to start your punishment in the school cafeteria. Understood?"
"Okay..." Ace replied.
"I've had nothing but bad luck since yesterday!" Grim wailed.
Crowley intended to leave, but Yuu called out to him.
"Excuse me, Mr. Crowley, but what about me? Don't I have the punishment too?"
The three present looked at him in surprise.
"Of course not!" The headmaster replied. "Unlike these two, you were just doing your duty."
"I couldn't do it anyways, so shouldn't I be take responsibility for the damages?"
"Even if you're right about that, I can't punish you for trying. Besides, do you really think you can clean one hundred windows with both arms burned?"
"I could try. And even if it's impossible for me, I still have to clean up this place and continue to keep an eye on Grim."
The headmaster thought about what he said.
"Okay, after cleaning the main street, you'll have to keep an eye on Grim and Trappola while they clean the windows, something you're not required to do. Of course, right now you have to go to the infirmary to take care of your injuries. You better go or they'll get worse, got it?"
"Yes, totally clear."
"Okay, in two hours I'll go ask to make sure you've been taken care of. You two, don't even think about getting away from punishment!"
With that he ended his reprimand and left.
Chapter 3: From Bad to Worse
That same afternoon, after finishing with the main street of the school, Yuu and Grim arrived at the cafeteria with two buckets full of water, cleaning spray and two rags.
"I'm already tired of cleaning all day... And now I have one hundred windows to clean," Grim complained.
"If you hadn't fought with that Ace we wouldn't be here," the human reminded him.
"Did you really expect me to do nothing after telling me all those things? He even made fun of you too!"
"I know. But look what that got us to do..."
"Hey! At least you have escaped from punishment!" He yelled in frustration before turning his gaze into one that seemed to show regret. "By the way, how are your arms?"
Yuu rolled up both sleeves to reveal his bandaged arms. That morning he had listened to the principal and went to the infirmary just before cleaning the main street with Grim, who had not said anything about it until that moment.
"They don't hurt so much anymore," he told him. "I have been told that the burns are not serious, so in two or three days will be better.
"I... I didn't mean to hurt you, I swear," Grim lamented.
"I know, but I hope you see why it's wrong to attack people impulsively."
"Still," Grim interrupted. "Why did you offer to accompany me in the punishment even if the headmaster said that you don't have to? Anyone in your place would be furious and leave me alone with that idiot..."
"Because I'm still responsible for you and I have to watch you. Besides, despite the chaos you've caused, I still don't think you're a bad guy. That's why I'm not mad at you, I really mean it."
"Oh..." Grim commented, not sure what to reply to his kind comment. "Hey, speaking of idiots, that Ace is taking a long time to come here. Who does he think he is making me wait!? I'm tired of waiting!"
Yuu had a bad feeling, but he stared with Grim at the entrance of the cafeteria with expectation.
Fifteen minutes passed, they kept waiting. Twenty minutes passed, they were fed up.
"I don't care what might have happened, there's no way he's this late! Unless... He's trying to scape?"
"I wouldn't be surprised if it were that," Yuu replied.
"I'm not gonna let him leave the punishment to me. Come on, henchman! Let's find Ace and make him clean the windows all by himself!" He said before starting off.
"Okay, let's go find him," Yuu agreed. "And I already said that I am not your henchman!"
They decided to enter one of the closest classes and Grim strode inside.
"Hey! Where are you, Ace!? We are not going to let you escape! Eh? There's no one here!?" He said when noticing that the place was empty.
"No, I'm here," said a high-pitched voice in front of them.
Yuu looked for the direction of the voice, but Grim reacted earlier and screamed in horror:
"The portrait is speaking!!"
Yuu noticed the portrait of a man in ancient clothes and a black beard whose eyes were blinking and his mouth moved again.
"What's the matter?" Asked the man in the painting, surprised by the stupefied looks of both newcomers. "It is not uncommon for paintings to speak in this school. The lady on the wall over there, the gentleman on this wall, we can all speak because we have mouths. It's normal, you know?"
"Normally paintings don't speak," Yuu commented, trying to make a point. "Are you by any chance friends of the ghosts we met yesterday?"
"Rather than floating non-stop all day, I have stood still for more than fifty years on this wall. And what is 'normal' for you is different from what is 'normal' for me because of our different circumstances, don't you think?" Yuu nodded. "Leaving that aside, are you looking for someone?"
"A guy named Ace," Grim replied, "has a heart-shaped mark on his face and scaled hair."
"Ah, I know who he is," he replied. "He is one of the new students who started today, not long ago he went back to his dorm."
"What?" Yuu asked indignantly.
"Whaaaaaaaaat!!??" Grim yelled angrily. "So he's really trying to get away! Where did he go?"
"To the building west of the school entrance," the portrait replied.
"Come on, let's go get him!" Grim said before starting to run.
"I think I've seen that building before. Thank you very much for the help, sir!" Yuu exclaimed before following his partner.
The indicated place was a circular building near Ramschackle, in the distance they could see Ace enter it.
They hurried and managed to catch up with him. In the place there were about seven mirrors that gave the feeling of being doors with what seemed to be the shield of their respective bedroom on top of each one.
"You!!!!" Grim yelled furiously.
"Agh! They got me!" Ace exclaimed.
"Stay there, you jerk! I'm not going to let you be the only one to escape!" Grim exclaimed again. "I also want to skip the punishment!"
However, Ace smiled.
"I'm not waiting here!" He exclaimed. I'm outta here!"
He ran to the mirror with heart details, from which coincidentally emerged another boy with blue hair and a mark shaped like a black spade symbol in his right eye.He was surprised to see the unexpected scene and stood still in front of the mirror.
"Outta my way! Get out of my away!" Ace exclaimed.
The boy looked confused.
"Don't let him get away, please!" Yuu asked aloud as he ran towards them.
"What!? Magic to capture someone!?" The boy asked aloud before thinking of a few possible ways. "Maybe I should freeze his legs. No, what if I just paralyze them?"
"I don't care! Just hit him any way! Hurry!" Grim pressed him."Any way!? Okay," he said, pulling his pen out of his pocket to hold it up in the air. "Anything is good for me. So come on, something heavy! He formulated.
In less than a second a huge cauldron of black metal materialized and fell on Ace.
"What is this!? A pot!?" Ace asked in horror and pain. Yuu gasped at the scene, he would have laughed if it weren't for the situation. But Grim, on the other hand, cracked up with laughter.
"Gya, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Check it out! " The monster yelled as Yuu approached the trapped fugitive. "Ace is squished like a pancake under the cauldron! Tha's so pathetic!"
"Thank you very much for helping us," Yuu said to the stranger before approaching Ace and trying to move the heavy cauldron off of him. The burns on his arms didn't help him in the complicated process and he gritted his teeth in an attempt to hold back the burning sensation. The blue-haired boy noticed this and the bandages sticking out of his sleeves, so he helped him.
"I didn't think I'd get a cauldron," he commented upon seeing Ace. "Did I overdo it?"
The cauldron magically disappeared the moment it was tipped over to the ground.
"Are you okay?" Yuu couldn't help asking when he saw Ace still lying on the ground.
The young redhead got up slowly. "Man, that hurts...", he murmured still in pain before looking at Yuu with a frown. "You should be fine without me. I'm sure one hundred windows can be cleaned in a flash."
"Are you serious!? That's not something someone can do 'in a flash'! Much less in my condition!" He said raising an arm in an attempt to remind him of that morning. "Besides, these are orders from the headmaster that he imposed on you two," he said, gesturing at Grim with one hand. "And I have to make sure you fulfill the punishment."
"Clean one hundred windows as punishment?" Asked the blue-haired young man. "What the hell did you do?"
"I got into a fight with this furball and we maybe ended up burning the statue of the Queen of Hearts a bit," Ace explained, completely forgetting Yuu's arms.
The three of them were so deep in conversation that they didn't realize that Grim was slowly slipping away with a wicked grin.
"You ruined one of the statues of the Big Seven!?" The stranger asked in horror. "That would definitely piss anyone off!" His expression changed to one of disbelief. "You're accepted into a prestigious school and the first thing you do is something like that, and on the very first day...""You shut up," Ace snapped angrily. "Besides, who are you?"
"I'm Deuce. Deuce Spade" he answered before returning the annoyed look. "It won't hurt to remember at least the face of a classmate, don't you think? Um..."
If he had said that, they should have seen each other before, Yuu thought, but Deuce stared at Ace as if trying to remember his name.
"You don't remember mine either," Ace replied indignantly.
"T-that doesn't matter!" Deuce stammered. "If the headmaster has told you to do it, you have to take it seriously."
Yuu was relieved to see that there was at least one responsible person in that place.
Even Ace seemed to give up on those words. "Ok, ok. Fine..." he finally said. "We just have get it over with." He looked up to search for Grim. "Eh?"
Yuu realized that Grim had been too quiet in all that time instead of making mocking comments and had a worse feeling than before.
"Eh?" asked Ace as he glanced toward the entrance, still open. "Ah! The furball's gone!" exclaimed in horror when they saw Grim running away.
"He, he!" Grim laughed out loud. "I leave the work to you! Bye, bye!" He yelled before running away.
"Grim!!" Yelled Yuu. "Come back here right now!"
"Stupid cat!" exclaimed Ace in frustration. "He trying to make me take his place! Hey, you!" He turned to Deuce before trying to remember his name. "Umm... Juice?"
"I'ts not Juice! I'm Deuce! With 'Deu'!" He exclaimed annoyed.
"You're partly responsible for this, so help us catch that furball," Ace told him.
"Eh? Why me?" He asked no less annoyed than before.
"Exactly, Ace!" told him Yuu. "He doesn't have to be drawn into this, so leave him alone!"
"Because this guy is incapable of using magic, so he doesn't count," anwered Ace to Deuce's question and pointed at Yuu without bothering to listen to him. "Come on, let's go!"
He started running after Grim. Yuu and Deuce exchanged a look before following him.
The three managed to find Grim and follow him inside the school.
In the chase they were about to capture him with their magical pens twice, but lost both opportunities because both young magicians fought over who should attack and Grim took advantage of the distractions to escape again.
That frustrated Yuu a lot.
They ended up returning to the cafeteria, where Grim had somehow climbed onto the huge chandelier that hung from the ceiling.
"Grim!! Get down from there right now! You're already grounded with no cans of tuna for the whole week, don't end up now with broken bones if you fall!" Yuu exclaimed.
He only laughed in response: "Come and catch me if you can, losers!"
"We haven't learned flying magic yet," Deuce lamented. "We have to think of something..." he muttered to himself before exclaiming: "Ah! I know!"
"We need a good idea," Ace commented before becoming concerned when he saw Deuce. "Eh? Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait! Why are you pointing your pen at me!?"
"I'm going to throw you up!" Deuce replied, convinced that his idea was going to work.
Yuu didn't like how that sounded either.
"Eeeeh!? Stop it! It's not a good idea!!" He insisted.
"You're kidding!?" Ace exclaimed, but Deuce was already concentrating on his pen and managed to lift it into the air. "Don't make me float! Are you really going to throw me ?! Stop it!!!"
Deuce didn't listen to either of them. "Make sure to grab him when you get up," Deuce told him. "Aim... now!"
Ace screamed as he was thrown into the chandelier. Seeing them from above, Grim also knew immediately that it was not going to end well.
As it collided with the chandelier, it fell from the ceiling and fell to the floor with a loud crash that echoed throughout the cafeteria...
Ace coughed at the great cloud of dust that rose up.
With a meow, Grim collapsed in Ace's arms from the great impact. Yuu and Deuce stared in horror at the disaster that had occurred."Oh, no!" Deuce exclaimed. "I didn't think about the landing," he told Ace.
As Yuu took Grim from his arms, Ace angrily glared at him for about three seconds before yelling: "ARE YOU AN IDIOT!?"
And he stared with the same horror as his companions at the scene. "I've caught Grim, but if the headmaster finds out we've destroyed the chandelier..."
"If I find out what?" said sternly the voice from the one they didn't want to hear just behind them...
"Did I find out about what?" Said angrily the voice they least wanted to hear at that moment."Ah, Headmaster..." Ace muttered in defeat.
"But. What. Exactly. HAVE YOU DONE?!?!?!?! Crowley yelled more fiercely than ever.
"My head is spinning ..." Grim muttered after regaining a bit of consciousness from the scream.
"It wasn't enough to destroy the statue and now you go and destroy the chandelier !? Crowley continued. I'm not going to put up with this a bit longer! All of you are expelled!
"EEEEEH!? Ace and Deuce exclaimed at the announcement.
"No, please! Forgive me!" Deuce pleaded. "I still have a lot of goals to reach at this school!"
"You have nothing to blame but your own stupidity," Crowley replied calmer, but still coldly.
"I'll do whatever it takes to be forgiven!" Deuce insisted. "I'll even pay for the damages!"
Yuu felt sad for Deuce, he could feel the despair in his voice. Even if he was the one who threw Ace towards thee chandelier, he wouldn't be in that mess if he didn't follow them to chase Grim, he thought.
"This isn't just any chandelier, it's a magic one. "And the candles were supposed to be lit for eternity," Crowley explained. "It is a masterpiece that was built by a former magical maester and has been here since the school was founded. With such historical value, this chandelier shouldn't be worth less than a billion madol. Do you really think you can afford paying something like that?"
Deuce was horrified by the impossible price and looked away.
"But can't it be fixed with magic, headmaster?" Ace asked in an attempt to save themselves.
"Magic is not all powerful, it wouldn't be enough," Crowley replied. "The magic crystal, which was the heart and power source of the chandelier, is also broken. And no two magic crystals are the same. It is possible that the chandelier will never be lit again", he commented sadly.
"It can't be..." Ace muttered.
"Damn it, but what have I done?" Deuce wailed. "What am I going to tell my mother?"
Yuu didn't know what to say. The headmaster had told him that he would take responsibility for him for the incident with the mirror, but what if she changed his mind now after all that? Was he included in the expulsion? The fear of being kicked out of the only place that could bring him back into his world completely paralyzed him...
"Oh, right, there is one way. The chandelier can be fixed, "Crowley commented.
"Eh?" mumbled the three young boys with a little bit of hope.
"This magic crystal was collected in the Dwarf's Mine. If we had one similar to the previous one, it can be possible to fix the chandelier."
"I'll go get the crystal, please let me go!" Deuce asked with determination.
"I don't think there are many crystals left in the mine though, it has been closed for a long time and there may be just a few left," added Crowley.
"I'll do anything if if it means not to get expelled!" insisted Deuce.
"Fine, I'll give you one night," said the headmaster. "Bring me a crystal before morning or face expulsion."
"Understood! Thank you very much!" exclaimed Deuce.
"Wow, I guess there's no choice." Let's find that crystal and get this over with," Ace mumbled.
Yuu glanced at him with annoyance.
"Use the door to the Mirror Room to lead directly to the Dwarven Mine," Crowley pointed out."Yes, sir!" Deuce exclaimed before running off.
Grim, still in Yuu's arms, finally regained consciousness."Ah!" What happened? What did I miss?"
"You might've been happier staying unconscious," Yuu replied. "I'll tell you everything now, and you better not complain!"It was clear that he was not dreaming, but that ridiculous situation was for him a nightmare...
He realized that the headmaster was looking at him, got worried and left there before fearing more things. Ace followed him.
They crossed the corridors to reach the room and stood in front of the Mirror of Darkness.
"Aahh... why did it all end like this?" This isn't my day..." complained Ace. again.
"I wonder why..." thought Yuu wryly.
"This is not the time to complain! Let's go!" Deuce exclaimed. "Magic mirror on the wall! Take us to the Dwarf's Mine!"
The mirror lit up and Yuu squeezed his eyes tight as he felt his body jerk away from him.
When he opened them again, the four of them were in a dark forest in the night. The atmosphere was lonely and gloomy, and he could feel Grim's tension in his arms.
"So this is the Dwarf's Mine," Deuce explained, "it used to be prosperous thanks to gems and crystals mining, but..."
"Uh... I feel like something is going to jump suddenly..." Grim muttered frightened.
"Look, there's a house there," Ace pointed in the direction of a nearby cottage. "Let's go ask about the mine."
They approached and Deuce knocked on the door before entering.
"Good afternoon..." he greeted. "It seems to be abandoned, it's a mess in here."
In fact, the place seemed to have been abandoned for years, just like Ramschackle dorm.
"Puwah!" I've got a spider web my face," Grim said in disgust, trying to shake it off. Yuu helped him the best he could.
"Have you noticed that the table and chairs are small? Maybe did children live here?" asked Ace and started to count them. "One, two... Seven! There's a lot!"
After hearing that, Yuu felt the same burning sensation in his left shoulder he received that morning, this time much lighter and accompanied by a strange feeling of sadness.
"You said this place is called Dwarf's Mine, didn't you?" asked Yuu. "Maybe some dwarves did live here and that's the reason for the small sizes?" He asked as he stroked his shoulder, careful not to squeeze Grim too hard.
"That's possible," replied Deuce. "This place must have been very lively during better times for the mine."
"They did what they had to do, since the crystals were in the coal," commented Ace. "Now let's look at the mine."
Yuu took one last look at the house before leaving, puzzled by what he had just felt.
The four of them walked for a few minutes until they reached the entrance of the mine.
"D-do we really have to go into that dark tunnel!?" Grim asked nervously.
"Are you scared?" Ace asked maliciously. "Lame."
Yuu gave him another bad look.
"What did you said!?" The little monster exclaimed angrily. "I'm not scared at all!". He let go of Yuu's arms and walked with a determined step on his two legs. "I'm going to take the lead! You follow me!"
The three boys exchanged glances before entering the mine with him.
"There are several gems here," Yuu commented. "But they don't look like the ones we're looking for, do they?"
"What do you think?" Ace asked him without much tact.
"Well, I don't know. I've never seen a magic crystal in person. That's why I ask," Yuu replied without hiding his annoyance either.
"Wait," Deuce stopped them nervously. "Have you heard that?"
"Hear what?" Ace asked before paying attention around him.
"Here's something!" exclaimed Deuce just before two gray-cloaked ghosts appeared in front of them.
Grim squealed in horror.
"Hee, hee, hee, hee! We have visitors after ten years," laughed one of the ghosts."Make yourself at home," said the other. "For eternity!"
"Not! Please, no more ghosts!" Yuu exclaimed. "Everybody, run!"
The four of them ran through the labyrinthine paths of the mine while Ace and Deuce launched attacks at the ghosts as they could to try to repel them.
They were finally able to lose sight of them and stopped to catch their breath.
"We weren't told that this place is also inhabited by ghosts!" Ace exclaimed between gasps.
"We don't have time to deal with them. We better go!" Deuce urged."You're right, let's go," Yuu agreed with him.
"Don't think you can order me around," Ace replied to Deuce. "If you hadn't done something so stupid we wouldn't be in this mess!"
"Do you really want to discuss who started it?, " Deuce asked in annoyance. "This is all because you wouldn't clean!"
"That was because this furball burned the statue of the Queen of Hearts!"
"Fgna!", Grim exclaimed indignantly at the mention. "That's what you get for making fun of me!"
"Both of you!" Deuce yelled, causing Yuu to flinch. "Do you remember our situation? We will be expelled if we don't go back in the morning with a magic crystal."
"Leave me alone! You're really ticking me off", Ace exclaimed.
In the discussion, Yuu heard what sounded like a growl.
"Guys, calm down!" He insisted. "I think I heard something."
"Do... not give..."
The four of them were startled when they heard that low, deep voice.
"W-who said that?" Ace asked.
"Stone... ssss... mine..." The voice growled more intensely.
"I-I think it's getting closer..." Deuce muttered.
A kind of faceless, threatening creature emerged from the shadows. It's head seemed to be made up of a kind of glass vial filled with a black liquid similar to ink, protruding from a large crack on the surface. He was dressed in a burgundy robe and on the cork of the lid of the bottle he wore a small brown cap. His entire body seemed to emanate a terrifying dark aura. In his right hand he carried a gas lantern that emitted a purple light, with his left he was dragging a giant pickaxe that did not give the impression it was for working in the mine.
In his sixteen years of life, Yuu would never have imagined such a thing.
"The stones ... ARE MINE!!!" The creature cried in a guttural tone.
Chapter 4: Teamwork
The four screamed and fled as soon as they saw it. They walked away as best they could to process the situation.
"What the hell was that thing!?" asked Deuce in horror.
"Fgnnnaaaaa! Crowley didn't tell us about this! Let's get out of here!" Grim exclaimed.
"It is awful!" exclaimed Ace. "But did that thing mention something about stones!?"
Just at that moment the monster appeared around the corner, approaching them again.
"Do not... give stones!"
"Then there are still magic crystals left!" exclaimed Deuce with hope.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no! No!" cried Grim. "I'm a genius, but I can't defeat that thing!"
"But without the crystal they will expel us!" reminded Deuce as he took out his magic pen. "I'm going to face that thing!"
"You're kidding?!" asked Ace incredulously.
"You can't do it by yourself! It's too dangerous!" Yuu said with concern.
"I won't allow myself to be expelled from school!" answered Deuce with determination.
Yuu still did not know the dynamics of magic in that world, but he noticed that Deuce attacked with magic from different elements, while the giant monster focused on attacking with its beak, reinforced with fire magic and something that seemed to be darkness. But they weren't very effective against the monster.
"Go away! Go away!! Go away!!!", the monster screamed louder and louder.
In that it launched an attack that almost reached Deuce, the impact of the blow made him lose his balance and hit the ground.Yuu helped him up to get up as soon as possible.
"Stand back if you can't control yourself, Mr. Serious!" Ace snapped. "I'm going to be the one to stop him!"
He launched an attack of wind magic like the ones that morning, but it did not affect the monster less, who in fact made an attack similar to the previous one that was about to hit the young boy. The impact made him stumble.
Seeing that the only two boys with magic had been knocked out, Grim got desesperate.
"Fgnaa!! Stay away!" He said after throwing a great blow of fire.
The monster growled in response, but didn't flinch much.
"It doesn't work!" Grim wailed with little hope.
With the firelight that had lingered on the rock walls of the mine, Yuu could make out something glistening at the end of the tunnel behind the huge creature.
"Look there!", he pointed. "I see something shine over there!"
"That light... Is that a magic crystal!?" Deuce asked in amazement.
The monster seemed to realize the intention of the intruders and screamed:
"WON'T GIVE THEM!!"
Grim leapt into Yuu's arms, who instinctively grabbed him on the spot."Let's get out of here! the little monster insisted." At this rate we will be finished!"
Yuu agreed with him.
"Guys, let's get out of here!", he exclaimed for Ace and Deuce to hear. "Come on, quick!"
They all left under the watchful eye of the huge faceless creature.
It was not difficult to find the exit and they fled to the area of the cottage. "Have we gotten far enough away?" asked Grim after calming his breathing.
Ace complained about the lingering pain from the fight.
"What the hell was that? Nobody told us anything about that thing!" said in frustration.
"It didn't appear to be a ghost like the ones from before," said Deuce calmer than the three of them.
Yuu tried to say something, but was interrupted by Ace: "Let's give up and go home, I'd rather be expelled than face that thing," he said as if the situation had ceased to matter to him.
"What?! Are you crazy?! I'd rather die before being expelled!" Deuce refused angrily. "We have a chance to get a crystal and you want to leave!?"
"Ha! You talk a lot to be someone worse at magic than me!" boasted Ace. "Go alone if you want. I'm done."
Deuce's pupils contracted in anger, he clenched his right hand into a fist and slammed it against his left palm.
"Oh, that right?!" he exclaimed threateningly in a deep voice, startling Yuu and Grim. "Then stay here like a coward!"
On the other hand, Ace, far from flinching, smirked: "Ah? Coward? Who exactly are you talking about now?"
"Eh... Deuce, has your personality suddenly changed?" Grim commented worriedly, interrupting the fight.
The boy realized what he had just done and his face relaxed immediately.
"Oh!" He cleared his throat. "Sorry... I've lost my composure a bit."
"What do we do?" asked Yuu finally. "Can magic help us at all?"
"As the headmaster said earlier, magic isn't all powerful," Deuce explained. "If you can't imagine it, then it won't materialize. Powerful or large-scale magic requires a lot of training."
"That's why we have schools of magic," Ace added. "You have to practice a lot for magic to appear just by thinking about it. That's why you lose control if you lose your cool."
"I see... That's why Grim can only use fire magic." Commented Yuu. "And now that you mention it, you've been launching haphazard attacks."
"Stuff you're good at can go off instinct," Ace replied.
"I'm going back in there anyway," said Deuce. "I'll try to think of something to defeat that thing and I'll come back with a crystal."
"Really?" Ace asked mockingly. "You? The idiot who destroyed the chandelier? You couldn't hit that monster once before, and now you say 'you'll try to think of something'?" Then he became serious. "You're just going to end up the same."
"How did you say!? You think...!"
"Here they go again..." commented Grim incredulously. Without saying anything, Yuu put Grim on the ground. "Hey, Yuu. What's wrong?"
Yuu didn't reply. He was fed up of everything, of things going wrong, of Ace's stupidity and, above all, of not having been able to do practically anything in the situation and always stay in the background.
"Stop your fighting right now!! Both of you!!"
Ace and Deuce finally stopped their fight with a shock.
"Woah! Why are you screaming like that all of a sudden?" Grim asked worriedly. It was the first time he had seen him that angry.
Yuu calmed the tone of his voice, but he remained firm and glared at both boys sternly:
"Neither of you could do anything in there! And staying here to fight like this will get us nowhere!"
Grim winced at the harshness of his words, which spoke nothing but the truth.
"B-but... What exactly should we do?" He asked, having no more ideas.
Yuu looked at his three companions.
"We have to come up with a plan together and create a strategy to confront that monster," he said decisively.
"Work together?" Ace asked incredulously. "Ha! How cold you are! You are able to say something that weird with a straight face. Even I wouldn't dare to do it!"
"We finally agree on something," Deuce said, crossing his arms. "I refuse to work with this idiot." He replied to Yuu as he pointed at Ace with his eyes.
"Are you serious?" Yuu asked in disbelief. "Would you rather being expelled than working together as a team?"
"Actually, it would be really pathetic of us being expelled the first day of class..." Grim commented looking away.
That made both of them change their minds almost immediately.
"Well..." Ace muttered.
Deuce couldn't say anything else.
Yuu wasn't willing to risk being thrown out of the only place he could stay in a world he didn't know of at all either. But he didn't seem like the time to say it out loud.
"I have an idea," he finally said, "but I'm going to need everyone's collaboration."
Grim looked much more excited to hear the plan than the two boys.
"Agh! Ok, ok, ok!" Ace gave in. "We just have to do it, right?" Then he smiled and looked at him expectantly. "All right, what is your plan?"
The three of them leaned closer to listen to Yuu. After a while explaining the idea to him in mind, they returned to the entrance of the mine.
"Hey, Yuu... do you really think your plan will work?" Grim asked uneasily. "I'm scar-... No, I'm just nervous."
"There's nothing to worry about," Yuu answered. "I'm sure it will work. And if not, we will just have to accept our fate."
He felt Ace's hand on his shoulder. "Ha, ha! You look tense. Just go with the flow," He told him friendly. "Come on, let's get this over with!"
Yuu breathed more calmly and smiled after seeing Ace run to take his place next to Deuce. "Maybe he's not as stupid as we thought," he murmured. "Maybe I've also been wrong to judge him."
"That's what you say now, but surely he is much more of an idiot than he looks!"
"Grim, don't be mean. Come on, let's get this started."
They approached the tunnel entrance.
"Hey, monster! O-over here!" Grim yelled, hiding the tremor from his voice.
The faceless monster peered into the darkness of the tunnel and growled furiously after seeing that the intruders had returned.
"GO AWAY!!!" he yelled.
"Ah! Here it comes!" Grim exclaimed.
"This way, monster!" Yuu yelled. "Come and get us!"
That was the first part of the plan: attract the beast's attention and get it out of the mine.
The monster was startled by the insistent calls and began to approach the exit.
"Thieves..." it growled. "I will not give... Mine... Mine!"
He struck the tip of his beak against the ground furiously.
"That attack will knock us out if it lands!" Grim reacted.
"Let's keep running!" Yuu reminded him. "We must get it away from the mine as far as possible!"
They stopped and waited for the perfect distance.
"I think this is far enough!" exclaimed Grim with determination as he climbed onto Yuu's shoulders.
"Now!" exclaimed Yuu.
The second part of the plan consisted of the surprise attack.
Ace came out of his hideout.
"How about this? Extra Large Tempest!"
With his magical pen he released a great force of wind towards the monster.
"And the incredible Great Grim's Fire Special!" exclaimed the little monster as he jumped from Yuu's shoulders with all his strength to release a great puff of fire like the one from that morning.
Yuu wondered if the names for the attacks were actually necessary.
Grim and Ace combined their attacks to engulf the monster in a huge and unexpected tornado of fire.
"Check it out!" Ace exclaimed. "I have been able to transform Grim's small flames into a hell!"
"They are not small! Ah, everything you say gets on my nerves!"
"Deuce, it's your turn! This is the perfect chance!" Yuu called him. "Come on, you can do it!"
Deuce stood next to Yuu and pointed his pen at the monster trapped in the fire.
"Calm down," he told himself. "Take aim... And think of the heaviest thing you can think of... Come here, cauldron!"
A huge cauldron appeared and fell on top of the monster's head, puzzling it at the moment.
"That hit it!" Grim exclaimed triumphantly. "Well done, guys!" Yuu was going to be proud of Grim until he saw him give another wicked smile. "Look, Yuu! The monster is flat like a pancake like Ace earlier!"
"You didn't have to remind that!" exclaimed Ace. "Today is not my day!"
"You already said that before!" Yuu reminded him.
The third part was to enter the tunnel and get the magic crystal.
"Let's find the crystal while it can't move!" Deuce urged.
The monster was horrified to realize that the intruders were running towards the entrance and tried to move.
Having walked the corridors of the mine before, it was not difficult to find a shortcut to the gems and they found them quickly.
"Look! This crystal is perfect!" pointed Deuce to a large one that didn't seem difficult to pull out. They picked it up and Yuu took it upon himself to carry it.
The four of them returned to the entrance and saw the monster move violently to free itself.
"Damn it! It's almost free!" exclaimed Deuce.
"Hey, Deuce! Throw more things at him," Grim instructed.
Pointing his pen at the monster, Deuce tried to think quickly of something heavy and began to summon more cauldrons. The monster found it impossible to avoid all of them as they fell on him.
"Can't you throw something more than cauldrons?!" Ace asked desperately.
"You shut up! I'm at my limit over here!"
"We have the magic crystal! Let's get out of here!" urged Grim.
"Miiiiiiiineeeeee!" growled the creature as it saw them run.
The fury made it free itself from all the cauldrons piled up on it and followed them.
"Really?!" Ace asked. "And now it's coming for us!"
The monster seemed determined, but also tired: it staggered for a moment and it's screams were limited to simple grunts.
"At this rate it will catch up with us!" Deuce exclaimed, brandishing his magic feather.
"But it's weaker now!" pointed out Yuu. "Maybe we can face it and defeat it this time!"
Ace wanted to end the mess once for all and and took his magical pen out again.
"Agh, I've had enough! Let's get rid of this thing!" He looked at Deuce. "Don't disappoint me, Mr. Serious!"
"Same here, Ace!"
"I'm going to show my true power!" Grim exclaimed.
"Give it above all to the head! To the glass! It seems to be the weak point! Yuu pointed out. "The crack is bigger and is leaking even more than before."
"Understood!" answered the three.
"And watch out for the pickaxe! Careful with the attacks!"
"And you don't let go of the crystal! It will want come after you!"Deuce reminded him.
Yuu kept at a distance to make sure the monster didn't get too fixated on him, but made sure he wasn't far from the rest.
This time the monster attacked with the magical elements of plant and darkness, but with his slowness it was much easier to evade them. Yuu's intuition had been true, since he became weaker and weaker as he lost ink, but he also became increasingly violent.
At the end of the battle, Ace stumbled while trying to avoid an attack that had struck right next to him. The creature tried to seize the moment to lift its pickaxe above its head to strike it down.
But he felt a stone hit his shoulder and turned to find out the cause.
Yuu was there, looking at it defiantly. He knew he wasn't going to hurt it by throwing a single stone at it, but it served to give Ace time to get up.
The monster noticed the large crystal he was holding in his hands and remembered the reason for the battle.
It didn't get too close to Yuu because Ace delivered the final attack on him and completely smashed the crystal on his head, releasing all the black liquid left.
The monster vanished into thin air.
Ace, Deuce, and Grim gasped with effort.
Yuu got to his knees on the ground from the tension that he had just experienced.
"Man! That was scary...!" he exclaimed at the thought of the monster approaching him.
"We... did it?", asked Ace.
They looked around, the monster didn't look it was coming back. Yuu got up relieved.
"We have won!" Grim exclaimed. "We really did it!"
"Great!" cried Deuce triumphantly.
"Yaaay!" yelled Yuu.
"High five!" Grim suggested. "For our victory!"
The four of them clashed hands and paw together happily in one fell swoop.
Yuu laughed and looked at his three companions.
"I see you're getting along now," he commented. "Looks like union really makes strength!"
After hearing it, the three of them took a couple of steps back.
"Eh? O-of course not!" Deuce insisted sheepishly and frowned. "It's not like that at all!"
"E-exactly, so stop saying weird things," continued Ace.
Yuu continued to smile and shook his head with an arched brow.
"We only won thanks to my genius!" Grim insisted, but when Ace and Deuce heard him they ended up smiling the same way as Yuu. "It wasn't because we've worked together or anything like that!"
"I guess there's no use making excuses," Ace commented. "I hate to admit it, but we really did win thanks to your plan."
"Yes, we were able to obtain the magic crystal thanks to your level headed instructions," Deuce continued. "That way we will avoid being expelled. I'm so relieved..."
"And I won't risk getting kicked out," Yuu added.
"Do you mean from your job at school?" Ace asked him, this time seriously, without any sign of mockery.
"Not only that, what I feared the most was that I would be thrown out of the dorm Mr. Crowley gave me, it's literally the only place I can stay."
"What do you mean?" asked Deuce.
"Oh, right. You don't know," Grim pointed out.
"What thing?" both asked.
"Do you remember what the Dark Mirror said yesterday at the entrance ceremony before Grim's chaos? About I don't have any magic?"
They both nodded.
"The reason I can't use magic is because I come from a different world where magic doesn't exist."
"Eh?" they asked again at the same time.
"Yes, basically I'm not from around here."
"Hey, hey, hey, hey! Wait a second! So you're saying that you're you from another planet or something like that?" Deuce asked, confused.
"Mr. Crowley said that as a possibility, but I'm not an alien, or at least that's what I think. But in my world there are no magic or magical creatures outside of legends or fictional stories. There are people who claim to have special powers, but almost of them shouldn't be taken very seriously."
"You have neither magic nor monsters? It's hard for me to imagine a world like that," Ace commented.
"Now that I remember, you seemed worried when the headmaster took you to the ceremony," Deuce commented, "like you didn't know what was going on."
"Yeah, I was quite confused at the time. I came to think that I was dreaming, but that wasn't the case
"So... why were you brought by the Mirror of Darkness then?" asked Ace.
"I don't know, probably by mistake. The thing is, the Mirror is incapable of transferring people to other worlds, so I'm literally trapped in... Twisted Wonderland, is this called? Mr. Crowley said he was going to find some way to get me back."
Deuce gave the situation some thought:
"So, is your family still in your original world? Do they know you are here?"
"To the first, apparently yes. To the second, they most likely don't."
"And your things?" asked Ace. "We had our luggage in our dorm room, you don't?"
"I'm not saying this to pity myself, but it is the truth when I say that I arrived empty-handed: no money, no mobile, nothing. I don't even remember putting on that ceremonial robe yesterday. In fact, I found in the Ramschackle dorm what I am wearing now. Mr. Crowley offered me shelter and help in exchange for working at Night Raven College. He also held me responsible for Grim when I asked him to let him stay with me."
Ace remembered that morning and paled.
"So when I made fun of you this morning..." Yuu looked at him. "Man, I really didn't know about that. I... I'm sorry, I didn't actually wanted to..."
"Now you know," Yuu interrupted him and smiled. "And don't worry, I should also apologize to you, I was wrong to think you were an idiot who liked to make people feel miserable."
"I wouldn't claim victory so quickly," Grim commented. "Who knows what he will do or say next?"
"Come on, don't fight. We worked together to obtain the crystal, remember? All endee well and nobody is hurt, that's what matters."
"Should you really say that? How are your arms?" Deuce asked. "You haven't hurt yourself more, have you?"
Yuu rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and revealed the bandages again.
"It stopped hurting hours ago, so it's okay, it was just an accident," he emphasized after seeing Ace's worried expression again.
"Ok, ok!" Ace said. "We are all relieved. But come on, I'm already exhausted, let's go home!"
"I'm starving after using all that magic," Grim complained, then he sniffed something in the air. "Eh? What's this?"
Everyone saw a kind of black rock in the place where the monster disappeared.
"I think that's what's left of that monster," Deuce said. "It's maybe a magic crystal? But I've never seen one black as coal.
Grim walked over to the stone and sniffed it.
"This thing smells pretty good!" he exclaimed enthusiastically.
"You're joking!" Ace exclaimed, disgusted to think that a bad-looking rock could be edible.
But Grim grabbed the stone in his front paws and sat up.
"This must be some candy the monster must be hiding! Oh, I can't resist! Thanks for the food!"
And he ate the rock in one bite.
Yuu was the first to be alarmed.
"Whoa!" He crouched down to his level and put the crystal down to pat him desperately on the back. "Spit it out, spit it out!" he exclaimed in an attempt to urge him, but Grim ended up swallowing it anyway and he stood up defeated: "He actually ate it..."
Grim's eyes widened as if he had sensed something and he swallowed saliva. The three young humans became even more concerned.
"Hey! Are you okay!?" Deuce asked.
"That's what you get for eating weird things off the ground..." Ace commented.
To his surprise, Grim seemed fine, even excited:
"De... De... Delicious!!!"
"What!?" the three boys asked incredulously.
"Not only it's thick, but it's also rich in flavor with an aromatic sweetness that blooms in my mouth..." He said quickly with enthusiasm. "It's like having a field full of flowers in my mouth!"
Yuu was perplexed by the gourmet description of the taste of a rock that looked like coal.
"Blegh!!" Ace exclaimed just imagining having to eat something like that. "Monsters do really have a different taste than ours."
"I guess," Deuce commented. "However, most people would never put something strange in their mouth without thinking like that..."
"Are you really okay, Grim?" Yuu asked.
Grim laughed cheerfully in response:
"It's so delicious, to die for! Don't worry, my stomach is not weak like yours."
"Don't regret anything to me if you get sick later," Ace snapped.
"More importantly," Deuce said, picking up the crystal from the floor. "Let's take this crystal to the headmaster!"
"Of course, there's still time!" Yuu exclaimed as he scooped Grim back into his arms. "But... how will we go back to school from here? It was the Mirror that brought us..."
"If I remember correctly, we have to go back to where we arrived and think about going back," Deuce answered.
"Oh, that's so easy!" Yuu commented with relief.
They walked back to the place where they appeared when they got there.
"Hey, Yuu?" Ace called him. "Before I forget, I wanted to thank you."
"Eh? About what?"
"For saving me before with the monster. Of course, what you did was very reckless, you don't have any magic to defend yourself and it could have hurt you. But that helped me a lot and I was able to kick the final attack to defeat him, so... thank you very much."
Grim looked cheerfully at Yuu, who looked away.
"Well... I wasn't going to stand there and let it hurt you... But I'm glad you're okay."
The four of them looked at each other before being shifted back to Night Raven College.
Just a moment before disappearing from there, Yuu seemed to hear some faint praising cheering voice for their victory from somewhere, but ended up thinking it was just his imagination...
Chapter 5: The Print
To the surprise of the four boys, the headmaster was there in the Mirror Chamber upon their return. Yuu thought he was waiting for them, but he dismissed that possibility entirely as he realized that he was looking at them with the same bewilderment they were looking at him."Mr. Crowley," he called out to avoid lengthening the silence. "We have here the magic crystal".
To emphasize the meaning of his words, Deuce stepped forward and extended both arms with the crystal.
The headmaster blinked a few times as he took the crystal and realized the situation.
"Eh?! You really went to the Dwarfs' Mine to find the crystal?"
"Eh!?" Grim and the three young boys asked in confusion the same way.
"Of course we did, sir..." Yuu answered. "You told us yourself, remember?"
"I really didn't think you were going to go, much less come back with a crystal... So I gave myself the freedom to prepare the paperwork for your expulsion," he confessed with a slight embarrassment in his voice.
"What?! Yuu asked in dismay.
Ace and Deuce just looked at him in horror before frowning in annoyance.
"What?! The nerve of this guy!" Grim exclaimed angrily as he slid out of Yuu's arms. "And you did it while we were risking our lives with a monster out there!"
Crowley didn't expect that statement either.
"A monster?" he asked with interest.
"There was a monster there!" Ace explained with the same anger as Grim. "It was really scary and super strong, it was awful!"
"Could you explain this in more detail?" asked the headmaster. "Let's go to my office, there we can talk more comfortably."
The man led them into a large room adorned with a long purple carpet and large purple curtains with green figures in the shape of stars and moons. What most attention attracted were some floating portraits of the Great Seven, the same ones represented in the statues on the main street of the school.
He sat in front of the desk there and set the glass to one side of the surface.
Then Yuu, helped by Ace, Deuce and Grim, explained everything that happened in the forest and the mine: the appeareance of the monster, the elaboration of the plan and their fight against it to obtain the crystal.
The headmaster did not divert his attention at any moment.
"Oh. So a mysterious monster was living in the mine. And the four of you worked together to defeat it and bring the crystal here?" he summed up.
"That's right, Mr. Crowley," Yuu stated as he picked Grim up again.
"We didn't really work together..." insisted Ace with a bit of embarrassment.
"It was more like our goals were the same..." added Deuce the same way.
"Guys, are you going with that again?" Yuu reproached them. "You've admitted before that we worked together!"
The boys' faces reddened slightly, but before they could say anything else, Crowley began to sob slightly before bursting into tears.
The four present exchanged looks of discomfort and confusion.
"What's wrong with this guy now?" asked Grim, breaking the silence. "Why is an adult crying like this?"
Crowley tried to regain his composure and wiped away his tears.
"In all the years that I have been the principal... To think that the day when some students from Night Raven College would go hand-in-hand to face and defeat their enemy together would come. .."
"What!? I did not hold this guy's hand!" Deuce exclaimed in horror and pointed at Ace with his thumb.
"I would never do that, that's disgusting!" Ace exclaimed. "But headmaster, how old are you?"
Yuu raised an eyebrow at those comments.
"I am overwhelmed with emotion..." Crowley murmured ignoring them as he recomposed himself. "This incident confirms it: Young Yuu. Without a doubt, you have talent as a beast tamer!" he said decisively.
But this confused Yuu even more."What? A... beast tamer!?"
He remembered that the night before he had said something similar to him after facing him in his ghost form with Grim.
"The students at Night Raven College are talented wizards who are called here by the Dark Mirror," the man began to explain. "However, they are of a higher class that makes them proud and selfish people who do not have the slightest interest in working with others, turning them into selfish ones who focus only on themselves."
"You're not saying anything good," Grim commented, frowning at the bluntness of the headmaster's words.
"And you, Yuu, can't use magic," Crowley continued. "But precisely, since you cannot use magic, you can give instructions to to other magicians and get them to cooperate." Yuu looked at him with a mixture of surprise, curiosity and awe. "Maybe that mediocrity is just what this school needs!"
And those positive feelings faded a bit.
"He's not saying anything good at all!" Ace exclaimed, confirming what Grim commented earlier.
"Young Yuu," Crowley continued, returning serious once again, "I have no doubt that your existence is necessary for the future of this school, I can tell by my instinct as an educator." Yuu looked at him with surprise again. "Trappola, Spade, along with rescinding your expulsion, Yuu Oshiro, I shall give you the qualifications to attend Night Raven College as a student!" he announced proudly.
"Eh!?" the two boys and the little monster exclaimed again.
Yuu gasped in surprise and his eyes widened at the news, hardly believing it. Not only did he lack the risk of being kicked out, but he was also receiving a privilege he did not expect at all.
"Me? As student?" he asked, trying to hide his excitement and intrigue. "Even if I can't use magic?"
"Of course, since I'm very gracious," said the headmaster. "But with one condition: you aren't able to use magic, so becoming a wizard is out of the question. You probably will not be able to complete all your lessons. That's why Grim," Grim blinked in surprise at being called out. "You have proven to me that you possess enough talent to become a wizard. Therefore, I shall allow the two of you to enrol together, as one student."
Deuce and Ace looked at each other in amazement. Yuu's gaze lit up again and he looked at Grim.
"Fgna!?" Grim exclaimed in surprise. "C-can I go to this school too?" he asked excitedly. "Not as a handyman, but as a student?"
"Yes, I guarantee it! But don't ever cause a chaotic incident like yesterday, understood?" he warned sternly.
Grim's eyes filled with tears of emotion: "Fgna... Fgna... I... I can..."
Yuu streched him in his arms with joy: "I'm so happy for you, Grim!" he exclaimed. "Let's do our best from now on!"
Grim raised a foreleg in triumph.
"Fnnnngaaaaaaa! I did it!"
The headmaster smiled at the joy of both young ones."Very well, now allow me, Grim, to give you the symbol of your status as a student at Night Raven College: your own magic crystal."
He snapped his fingers and a purple crystal, similar to Ace and Deuce's magical pens, materialized as a pendant on Grim's ribbon.
"Woah! A magic crystal!", he exclaimed when he saw it hanging from his neck.
"It is the norm for students to have their magic crystals in the form of a 'magical pen', but it would be impossible for you to hold that with your paws, right?" the headmaster explained. "This is a special situation. Ah... I pay attention to even the smallest details! Aren't I too gracious?"
"I did it~!" Grim sang happily, ignoring him. "I'm so cool~! I have a magic crystal just for me~!"
Yuu giggled slightly at seeing him so cheerful.
"You're not listening to me at all ..." Crowley sighed. "Do you understand, Yuu?" he called him. "As you can see, Grim is not accustomed to human society, so you are responsible for taking care of him and supervising him to prevent from causing any more trouble!"
Ace and Deuce approached Yuu again.
"Aha! You're amazing!" Ace laughed proudly. "It's your first day of class, but you're already a prefect?"
"Eh?" Yuu asked, confused by the sudden excitement of his new friends.
"I see. Since there's only two people in your dorm, the fact that you have to supervise Grim makes you a prefect," Deuce explained.
Ace laughed in amusement again.
"How unusual, right?" he commented. "A prefect student is unable to use magic. Sounds good, a prefect without magic."
He never had a charge in school like that, but Yuu looked at everyone one by one and smiled decisively:
"Thank you for this opportunity!" he exclaimed. "I'll do my best!"
Ace smirked as he put a hand on Yuu's shoulder.
"Ha, ha! Good luck, prefect!"
Crowley pondered those words.
"I see, a supervisor... Yuu, I do have a work request for you, and having a title like yours makes it very convenient," he said as he searched for something among the drawers of his desk. "Oh, this is wonderful!" He handed him a kind of instant camera with different shades of yellow whose lens was adorned with what looked like the silhouette of a mouse. "Young prefect, I entrust this to you. It is known as a 'ghost camera'."
Yuu put Grim down.
"Ghost?" he asked curiously as he received it from the director's hands.
Ace looked at it carefully for a second.
"Ah, I think my grandmother told me about this. It's a super old item, right?"
"It is not that old..." Crowley commented with apprehension before clearing his throat. "Well, it is true that this may have been invented during your great grandmother's, or great-great grandmother's time. There is a very special spell cast on it. It not only captures the subjects' form in the photo, but also a part of their soul."
"A part of their soul?" Deuce asked.
That made Yuu nervous. Did that camera drain souls and lives of others as it took photos?
"We call that 'Memory: fragment of remembrance'," explained the principal. "Furthermore, the most interesting thing about this magic camera is that the souls of the photographer and the person being photographed become deeply connected and the image with the Memory jumps out of the photo!
"How does the photo 'jump out'? And what do you mean by 'connected souls'?" Yuu asked.
"Depending on how close the photographer and the photographed are, the image can move like a video, it can even bring the photographed situation to life. Isn't it fascinating?"
"Bring the photo to life? So wouldn't it be like a ghost photograph?" Deuce asked with concern.
"Yeah, that's why it's called a ghost camera," Crowley replied. "They say it was made before the time of videos for when people wanted to capture vivid memories. But you're right about something, Spade: in the past, people used to scream 'Ghost!' when they saw the Memory jump out. They were paralyzed with fear just thinking about taking a picture with this camera."
"A camera used to scare people..." Ace commented uneasily as he shook his head.
"Prefect, please take pictures of Grim and other students to create many memories of your lives at this school," Crowley told Yuu.
"La~. La, la~" Grim sang again, still excited. "Take lots of cool pictures of me, Yuu."
"Make sure especially to get 'Memories' when someone breaks the rules or steps out of line. It'll be the best way to report it to me," Crowley told him. "Pay attention to your surroundings and take memories like the Prefect you are. By the way, the fact that I give you a rare item that can be used by non-magical people, my graciousness does know no bounds, don't you think?
Yuu sighed and shook his head in amusement.
"Yes, your kindness graciousness is incredible... Thank you very much, principal Crowley. I'll do my best."
Crowley realized that the young Oshiro was addressing him as his headmaster for the first time, rather than just a person he was in charge of, and smiled.
"It's getting late, let's save the rest of the conversation for tomorrow," he said. "Everyone, go back to your dormitories."
"Excuse us," Deuce said politely.
As they walked through the door back into the hall, Ace and Deuce closed their eyes and finally sighed in relief.
"Expulsion rescinded..." Deuce commented. "I'm exhausted".
"Good grief..." added Ace.
"La, la, la~" Grim sang once again. "Tomorrow I will start as a student at Night Raven College! I'll be the best and make you bite the dust!" he exclaimed excitedly.
"You have the nerve to say that despite counting only as half a student," Ace commented amused. "But anyway, it's okay."
"Yuu, Grim, we'll be classmates tomorrow," Deuce commented.
"Then I hope we all get along well," Yuu replied. "I'm so glad to meet you!"
"You're saying embarrassing things again! Will you stop?" Ace asked him.
On the other hand, Deuce, far from feeling discomfort, held back his laughter:
"That's true, we are going to see each other every day even if we don't want to. But I'm stuck in Heartslabyul with this fool." He looked at Ace with resignation.
"I'm not very happy with having to see your serious face every day either, no thanks," Ace joked.
"That's what I should say, Truant Ace," Deuce replied with annoyance.
"Right, right. Whatever you say, Almost-expelled-crybaby Deuce," Ace annoyed him even further. "Anyway, see you tomorrow, Mr. Prefect," he finally said.
They both went together to their dorm.
"It may not seem like it, but I think those two are going to be a good combo," Yuu commented after making sure they were far enough away.
"You're right," Grim agreed. "They're of those who 'always fight because they get along'. Come on Yuu, we better go to the dorm too! By tomorrow we won't be the handyman anymore!" He began to sob again with emotion: Finally... Finally...!" he jumped at Yuu's arms with joy when he noticed that he had crouched down at his height. "Our great and glorious life at Night Raven College will begin!"
Yuu caught him and pulled him back into his arms.
"Of course! We'll be great!" he exclaimed and placed it on top of his shoulders before getting back to his feet and holding the ghost camera again with both hands. "By the way, don't I need an uniform to go to class? The headmaster hasn't told us anything about it."
"I suppose he will give it to us tomorrow, after all we have a special position now!"
"Yes, maybe he will tell us more details tomorrow". He looked at the camera. "I also hope to find something like a strap or a case for the camera, I can't constantly carry like this."
"Maybe we find something like that in Ramschackle?" Grim asked. "It's so old that we could find some useful things there".
"You're right, we still have a lot to explore," Yuu recalled. "We also have a lot of rooms to clean."
Grim lowered his ears.
"Was it really necessary to spoil the excitement?"
"Come on, Grim. We don't have to do it tonight, we can go little by little. If you're going to be a powerful wizard, you shouldn't be living in a bad place, right?"
Unlike the night before, Yuu felt much more comfortable entering the bedroom.
"The bed we chose has a broken leg," Yuu recalled as he closed the door. "Should we choose another bedroom?"
"That's not necessary!" the tall, thin ghost suddenly exclaimed as he suddenly peeked upside down from the ceiling, right in front of them.
The both of them startled, Yuu managed to prevent Grim and the camera from falling to the floor in shock.
They had both forgotten that ghosts lived there...
"Yes, you came back late ..." said the little ghost. "Look at you! I believed that you had disappeared from this world. Hee hee hee hee!"
Yuu and Grim exchanged an uncomfortable look.
"It doesn't matter how much you try to scare us!" Grim exclaimed, swallowing his fear. "We were able to defeat you once, we will do it again!"
"Hee, hee, hee!" You look determined, but you should save your energy for other things, 'said the big ghost.
"After all you should keep your energies to be students, don't you think, prefect of Ramschackle?" added the tall, slim ghost.
"Eh? How do you know that?" Yuu asked.
"The headmaster told us," replied the little ghost. "He stopped by a moment ago to drop off some things and the uniforms you have to wear."
"Crowley was here?" Grim asked. "But we just got out of his office! How could he come and get out so fast!?"
"Who knows?" asked the thin ghost to leave them wondering. "Come on, it's all in the living room."
And the three ghosts disappeared one by one.
"Should we trust them?" asked Grim cautiously.
"Just like Ace and Deuce share a dorm, we don't have a choice but to do it with them," Yuu answered. "Let's see what the principal has given us."
As they entered the living room, they saw several things on the table that weren't there before: a school uniform similar to the one Ace and Deuce wore, a sports uniform, something that appeared to be a white coat and lab googles, a class schedule, and finally some school supplies like pencils, pens and a notebook among other things.
"Woah! These are a lot of things!" Grim exclaimed excitedly.
"What's this here?" Yuu asked aloud as he opened an envelope, revealing what appeared to be some paper bills inside.
"Those are madol bills," replied the big ghost. "The madol is the international currency of Twisted Wonderland."
Yuu's eyes widened. "Y-you mean this is money...!?" he asked alarmly. "Oh, no no no no! I never asked for money! I shouldn't accept this!"
"The headmaster said you can use it to buy whatever you need in the cafeteria and in the school store," the same ghost soothed him. "He has also given you a purse with some coins inside. He asked us to tell you from his part that he will give you some madol on a weekly basis and, if necessary, you can ask him for a little more.
"Good grief," Yuu commented resignedly. "I hope I find some way to make up for it all..."
"Come on Yuu, don't be so worried!" Grim snapped. "With this we'll become great magicians! I'll be the best and we'll be famous!"
"You don't have a choice either, hee, hee! You come from another world, after all" laughed the small ghost.
"Before I forget it again," said the tall ghost. "I told you that it wasn't necessary for you to change beds, because we have fixed the one you chose yesterday, it shouldn't be unstable anymore."
Both of them exchanged a surprised look.
"Really? Why would ya do that?" Grim asked suspiciously. "If I remember correctly, yesterday you wanted to turn us into ghosts."
The ghosts looked at each other.
"This is our way of apologizing," the small ghost muttered. "We didn't really mean to hurt you, we just wanted to scare you..."
"We haven't had any visits from students in years and seeing you come in was the perfect opportunity," added the tall ghost.
Yuu guessed that the ghosts must have been alone for longer than he could imagine and frowned with shame.
"Yes, we did not expect at all to be the scared ones," confessed the big ghost. "You did a great job together yesterday defeating us."
"Yeah..." Yuu commented, going from feeling shame to embarrassement as he sat on the couch to take a look at the schedule. "I should also apologize for that, I can't imagine how it must be being attacked in your own home."
"Hey, we didn't attack! We were defending ourselves!" Grim reminded him.
"Don't worry, we know you hadn't bad intentions," replied the little ghost. "Besides, it was the headmaster who offered you to be here because you had no other choice, right? You also did a good job cleaning the living room, something we haven't bothered to do; we also want to thank you for that."
"What do you think? Do we make a clean slate?" suggested the big ghost. "After all we are going to live together from now on.""But we let you know, that you should expect a little scare every now and then! Hee, hee, hee!" one of the ghosts warned with amusement.
Yuu flinched upon hearing that, but he thought about the situation: the ghosts didn't seem to be lying, and in any case if something happened, he could count on Grim and the headmaster.
"Okay," he said as he got up. "Allow me then to introduce myself again: I am Yuu Oshiro. Let's get along from now on!"
"You say cheesy things again," Grim commented awkwardly. "Enough chatter! Come on, Yuu! Try on the uniform to see how it looks on you!"
"Isn't it a bit late for that?"
"It's not that late to try something on you either! So you can know if it is your size!"
"Ok, ok. I get it..."
He was about to get the uniform when the small ghost appeared with something wrapped in paper and a water bottle.
"But if you don't want turn into ghosts like us, you should eat something. The headmaster left this too. By the way Grim, you have some cans of tuna in the kitchen."
"The uniform can wait! Dinner first!" Grim exclaimed enthusiastically. "I finally have my tuna!"
Yuu shook his head in amusement as he watched him run towards the kitchen door.
After dinner and saying good night to the ghosts, Yuu and Grim went to their room. The young human left his new things there and looked at the uniform carefully, he realized that the t-shirt was slightly bigger than it should be, but he decided to hide it with the jacket until he got a smaller size.
"Come on, put it on," Grim exclaimed impatiently as he climbed onto the bed. "I don't think you'll look as cool as I do with this customized magic crystal, but come on Yuu! Put it on!"
"Ok, ok...! Don't be impatient, I'm doing it right now."
He took off the white shirt he had found the night before and took a closer look at the uniform t-shirt.
"Oh, you have a tattoo!" Grim exclaimed.
Yuu frowned, confused.
"I didn't think of you as someone who likes tattoos, but that's cool! Or so I'd like to say... Couldn't you pick something cooler? Yours is very simple and weird... What's even that?"
"What are you talking about?" He looked at his own abdomen and both bandaged arms for any tattoos. "I'm not a big fan of them and my mother would be very upset if she saw me with one."
"Then what's that on your left shoulder? It does look like a tattoo..."
Yuu looked at his shoulder and saw a kind of print of a slight blue color, like the sky in the daytime, the size of his fist.
"This wasn't here before," he said with concern.
He rushed to the mirror and dusted it off a bit to get a better look: the strange print had a semicircular shape with a small circle attached at the top, pointing forward:
He rushed to the mirror and dusted it off a bit to get a better look: the strange print had a semicircular shape with a small circle attached at the top, pointing forward:
Then Yuu recalled that morning, when he rubbed that part when he felt the burning as Ace was talking about the Great Seven, and the moment at the cottage in the forest.
"This is really strange..." Grim commented with concern. "If that wasn't there before, when did it appear? Didn't you see it when you took off your ceremonial robes yesterday? I certainly did not..."
"No, I didn't... So I don't know if I have it since this morning or since yesterday when I woke up in the coffin. It won't be dangerous, right?"
"With that simple, harmless look? I don't think so..." said Grim. "Should we tell the headmaster tomorrow?"
"We should," Yuu stated. "But I don't think he'll know much more than we do now."
"It doesn't seem very worrisome, so come on! Finish dressing to see how it looks on you! Then let's go to sleep!"
Yuu sighed and looked at the print one last time before finally trying on his uniform.
"Fine... After this let's find something for the ghost camera, okay?"
Chapter 6: The Crimson Tyrant
After trying on his uniform, the ghosts found an old leather strap in the dorm's basement and gave it to Yuu, so he could carry the ghost camera with him.
Finally everyone went to sleep. Grim settled next to Yuu's legs and fell asleep in no time. The young human got to sleep much better than the night before.
"Hurry up and paint the roses red!" cried voices insistently. "Quick, quick! Before they wilt!"
Yuu suddenly opened his eyes and found himself standing in what appeared to be a maze of tall green hedges. In front of him were what he recognized as three card-shaped soldiers from the french deck painting some white roses of tall rose bushes shaped like hearts and spades.
In that, Yuu couldn't help but notice his clothes: instead of his white shirt and black pants, he was wearing a blue dress adorned with a white apron and long white stockings along with black shoes. He took a better look at it and found it adorable.
In his life, he had only worn a dress twice: at six years old, when he wanted to dress up as a princess like Yukiko to go to an amusement park, and at fifteen at work to replace a coworker during an event.
In his rambling, the scene continued with the letter-soldiers. None of them seemed to notice him.
"Faster, faster! There are some roses that are still not painted!" An ace of clubs urged.
"Are they... painting the roses?" Yuu asked himself. "Why?"
Then appeared a girl with long blond hair who seemed to be twelve years old. She was wearing an outfit very similar to his. Yuu had never seen her, but for some reason he knew that her name was Alice.
"Why are you painting the roses in the garden?" Alice asked the soldiers, who were surprised to see her, so much so that one of them ran his brush full of red paint over the faces of his two coworkers.
"You ask us why?" A two of clubs asked. "To be honest, we planted white roses by mistake."
"And the queen told us they must be red," the ace of clubs added. "If she sees white instead, she will behead us!"
"Goodness..." Alice and Yuu murmured, the girl putting a hand to her neck.
"In order to save ourselves, we are going to paint them red!" exclaimed the three soldiers.
Just when Alice had decided to grab a bucket full of red paint and a paintbrush to help them, Yuu heard the sound of a door knocking and the images faded until everything was black again.
"Wait a second!" he said to himself. "What place was that?"
He slowly opened his eyes after hearing the knocks at the entrance to the bedroom for the second time. It had all been a strange dream.
It was still nighttime, he supposed he didn't sleep for more than three hours.
"Hey, Yuu... Someone's knocking on the door..." Grim told him, still half asleep after waking up with the noise. "Is it the ghosts? They don't know when to give up."
Yuu scooped up Grim and walked him down to the front door.
"Who is it?" He asked after the third knock on the door.
"It's me, Ace," said his voice from outside. "Can you let me in for a bit?"
"Ace? What is he doing here at this hour?" he asked as Yuu opened the door, and his eyes widened at the sight of him. "Eh!? That collar is...!"
Yuu also recognized it immediately: Ace was wearing the same closed shackle around his neck that the young redhead, Riddle, had put on Grim. If he remembered correctly, that thing prevented the use of magic...
"I'm never going back to Heartslabyul!" Ace exclaimed furiously. "From now on I'm gonna be a member of this dorm!"
Yuu still had his head a little asleep to react immediately to what he had just announced, but Grim was ahead of him: "What!?"
"Come on, come inside. Let's go to the living room." He offered, fully awake because of Grim's shriek.
The three of them sat on the sofa, Grim also did on Yuu's lap.
"That collar's the same kind as the one that red-haired upperclassman put on me during the entrance ceremony," Grim recalled. "Why are you wearing it?"
"I ate a tart," he replied with annoyance.
"Eh? A tart?" Yuu asked, confused, to make sure he had heard correctly. "Only that?"
"Exactly! Only that!" Ace exclaimed again indignantly. "I got hungry, so I went to the dorm's kitchen. The tart was there along with two other whole ones, so... Just as I finished eating the first piece, the dorm leader, Riddle Rosehearts, appeared behind me. He told me that the tarts belonged to him, he lectured me with a rule of 'You shall not eat tarts prepared for the Queen before her', that stealing the queen's tarts is a... 'capital crime'? And... put this collar on me with his magic. Man, it was so uncomfortable!" he exclaimed, remembering the strong feeling of discomfort when he felt the grip on his neck.
"To sum it up, he punished you for eating something that belonged to him," Yuu said.
"Yes, that's what happened."
Grim and Yuu exchanged a silent look of disbelief.
"You've only got yourself to blame." Grim said to Ace, breaking the silence.
"But isn't it overreacting to seal my magic just because I ate his tart?!" He asked angrily. "It's basically the same as tying my arms and legs! Plus, it was three whole tarts! I don't think he can eat them all by himself! There is a limit to how ruthless he can be!"
"Well, something I agree with you is that maybe blocking your magic may have been a little too overboard... " Said Yuu.
"Ah! One second...!" Grim interrupted. "If it was three whole tarts, would they be for something like a party, maybe? A birthday, maybe? I'm so good at deducting!"
"A birthday?" Ace asked crossing his arms, still frowning.
"If that's the case, then it's no wonder he got so angry. Did you apologize for it?" Yuu asked him.
"Uh... I came here straight after that thinking you would agree with me that the leader is a tyrant, Yuu," Ace replied.
"And I agree that he seems kinda a tyrant," Yuu said. "But it's not okay to eat other people's food either, you know?"
"I agree with that," Grim commented.
"You didn't know the tarts were his, so maybe he'll forgive you if you apologize," Yuu continued. "You should try tomorrow."
"Grudges over food are scary," Grim said sternly.
Ace sighed in annoyance.
"Okay... I just have to apologize, right? It was you who suggested it, Yuu. So you have to come with me, okay?"
"Of course! Count with me."
Ace calmed down a bit after finishing the conversation.
"Well, where can I sleep?" He asked.
"Are you seriously thinking about spending the night here?" Grim asked indignantly. "Aside from our room, all the other ones are messy and dusty. If you want to sleep here, you will have to clean one yourself."
Ace didn't like the idea very much.
"I'm not going to clean up." Then he smiled with a cheerful insistence: "Come on, Yuu. Let me sleep in your room. I'm pretty slim, so I won't take up much space! Please?"
Now it was Yuu's turn to frown, this time awkwardly. Three people in the same bed was going to be difficult. "You can sleep here on the couch." He answered.
Ace clicked his tongue in annoyance.
"Greedy," he snapped. "Okay! I'll sleep here alone on the couch in the living room. Good night!"
And he laid down reluctantly.
Grim quickly got off the couch and Yuu got up.
"Wait a minute, don't fall asleep yet," the young human told him as he left the place under the bewildered looks of Ace and Grim.
In a few minutes he returned with a blanket and pillow to shake.
"These are from another room," he explained. "It would still be necessary to dust and shake the mattress, but you will have a room available if you ever want to stay another night... Done! Much better now!"
Smiling with satisfaction, he handed him the pillow and extended the blanket over him.
"Good night, Ace!" He said before picking up Grim and going to his room. "We'll see you tomorrow."
"Sure, good night..." He replied, a bit stunned by the unexpected gesture of kindness.
After curling up on the couch, he felt even worse for teasing him that morning, even if he was already forgiven for it...
The next morning, Yuu was changing into his uniform to go to class when he heard a knock on the door again. The second time made dust fall from the old ceiling.
He heard Ace get up to open it.
"Are you done?" Grim asked, waiting by the door. "Let's see who it is this time."
"Wait a second, I just need to finish the tie..." he said in front of the mirror. "Done! We can go now."
He opened the door to let Grim out. In the distance they could hear Ace's voice talking to Deuce.
"I don't want to hear that from you!" Ace had exclaimed. "By the way, is the dorm leader still mad at me?"
"Not completely," Deuce replied. "But he is irritated and three mates who didn't follow the morning routine met the same fate as you."
"'Not completely' my ass!" Ace exclaimed with horror. "He is totally furious!"
"Good morning guys," Yuu greeted them with Grim walking beside him. "How did you sleep, Ace?"
"Ah, good morning, Yuu, Grim," Deuce greeted them. "I assumed Ace would be here. Sorry if you were disturbed in the middle of the night by his stupidity... How about your arms?"
"I just told you I don't want to hear something like that from you!" Ace exclaimed angrily.
"Don't worry, he didn't bother us. And I'm fine, now they don't ache very much and I was able to sleep well," Yuu assured him. "It's still early, but should we go now?"
Upon reaching the main street of the campus, Grim walked on his two legs with pride:
"Hey! Make way, make way! Here walks a student from Night Raven College!" He turned to Ace and held the pendant on his bow. "Look at my collar! Compared to yours it's amazing! You can't use magic anymore, right? I guess you would be great as a janitor to clean. Ha, ha!" he laughed with a meow. "It feels so good to tell you that!"
It was clear that he was still upset from the teasing of the day before.
"Come on, Grim, he already apologized for it," Yuu chided softly.
But he couldn't help but smile at the thought that Ace had received his piece of karma.
Ace grunted in annoyance at Grim's comments: "You better remember this when I get my magic back!"
"The headmaster scolded you for making trouble yesterday, remember?" Deuce told him. "How about you apologize now to leader Rosehearts to take that off you?"
"I'm still not convinced about it!"
"We still have time for our next class," Grim remembered. "I'm also curious about the other dorms, so let's go check them out while we watch Ace apologize!"
"I'm not an exhibition, damn it!" Ace exclaimed.
Yuu didn't say anything about it, but he thought he heard a distant feminine laughter as if it were having fun with Ace's situation. At the same time he felt a warm sensation on his left shoulder, right where print was. It was the first calm feeling he felt with it, rather than discomfort or nostalgia, but he shook his head slightly and stopped thinking about it.
They walked to the Mirror Hall, the same place where they met Deuce.
There were many mirrors adorned with characteristics of each dorm, but that day they had to go to a specific one.
Heartslabyul's mirror had many details: it was crowned by the bedroom emblem and two heart-tipped spears, adorned with carved sculptures n the shape of roses and cards from the french deck. Another element that attracted attention was the sculpture of an opened book at the bottom, next to some mushrooms.
Entering through it, they found an atmosphere very opposite to what Grim and Yuu had seen at Night Raven College until then.
The place looked like a huge, elegant garden with well-kept green hedges and rose bushes. A lavish red building and a fountain could be seen in the distance perfectly.
"Wow! What a fancy place!" Grim exclaimed. "It's totally different from our dorm!"
"Come on, Grim. Ours is still in development!" Yuu snapped, managing to hide his disappointment at the comparison.
Despite this, he believed that his sister, whose favorite flowers were roses, and his mother would love the place if they could see it. He really missed Yukiko a lot...
"Oh, no! I must hurry and paint the roses red!" exclaimed a hasty voice.
"Looks like there's someone out there," Grim pointed towards the rose maze before Yuu lifted him onto his shoulders.
The four of them approached the sound of the voice and saw a red-haired student who seemed to be older than them. He had a small red diamond-shaped mark under his right eye.
"Oh, there! If any are any left unpainted, it's off with my head!" he exclaimed again in a hurry.
Remembering the dream, Yuu became familiar with the situation, but he didn't think about it much.
The young student noticed their presence.
"Do you need something?" he asked them calmer.
"What are you doing?" Ace asked him.
"As you can see, I'm painting the roses red."
That shocked both Heartslabyul students.
"Eh!? Why would you do something like that?" Deuce asked.
The young boy just laughed happily.
"Your expressions are so vivid, you look adorable! Now that I see you better, you are the freshmen who caused chaos yesterday and destroyed the chandelier worth billions."
"I think the thing about the chandelier won't be forgotten until we graduate," Ace sighed.
"And you are the little criminal who ate the dorm leader's tart," the young boy replied as he recognized his collar. "How lucky I am to meet the so rumored newbies so early in the morning!"
Then he took his mobile phone out, with a silicone casing in the shape of a playing card, with a red diamond with a happy face.
"Hey, hey! Let's take a picture together!" He hastily grouped them together and snapped a selfie. "Yay!"
He showed them the photo: he was the only one smiling, the others were surprised by the sudden action.
"Can I upload this?" he asked, pointing at the screen. "Tell me your names to put hastags."
"I'm Deuce Spade."
"Ace," he answered with some annoyance.
"I'm Grim. And this one down here is Yuu, my henchman."
"Yuu Oshiro." He frowned a bit and carefully lowered Grim back to the ground. "I told you I'm not your henchman."
The boy wrote the names and a cheerful musical note sounded from his cell phone.
"Ok, uploaded." He put it back in his pocket. "Oh, I'm Cater Diamond. I am a third year, so I'm your upperclassman. You can also call me Cay! Nice to meet you!"
In addition to being cheerful and approachable, Cater was quite handsome and seemed to be up with the new trends.
"Yeah, nice to meet you too," Yuu said.
"Oh! You are the new prefect of Ramschackle dorm!" Cater recognized him. "I'm surprised you can live in a place like that! It is so dark and it seems like something will suddenly jump out. I'm so sorry for you, man!"
"How inconsiderate," Grim commented annoyed.
Cater seemed to remember something.
"Ah! I shouldn't be standing here and talking! The party is in two days, I don't want to lose my head for being late! Hey guys, could you help me with painting the roses?"
"But why are you doing something like that?" Ace asked him.
"Red roses are more photogenic for a party, don't you think? Besides I also have to paint the flamingos for the croquet competition, so I'm very busy."
"Painting the flamingos?! That's really weird!" Grim exclaimed.
"So what Ace ate was for the dorm leader's birthday party. Now I understand why he got so angry..." Deuce commented.
"Eh? It's not his birthday," Cater told them, something they weren't expecting.
"It's not?! So whose birthday it is?" Ace asked.
"It's not anyone's birthday," Cater began to explain. "The day after tomorrow is the legendary 'Un-Birthday Party' in our dorm. It's a tea party that the dorm leader decides to do on a day that doesn't fall on anyone's birthday."
"Why would someone do that!?"
"The explanations will come later! Now you have to help me paint the roses red!" Cater urged cheerfully as he picked up a pair of brushes. "Deuce and Grim, you can paint with magic, right? Ace and Yuu, you can't use magic, so take these brushes!"
Deuce and Grim didn't like the idea very much.
"Do you mean... change the color of roses with magic?" the human asked with concern as he reached for his magical pen.
"I've never done anything like that before," Grim commented without enthusiasm.
"Okay, don't worry! Relax!" Cater tried to encourage them. "We will manage! Let's hurry before the leader punishes us!"
They approached the bushes with more white roses. Cater drew the magic pen from him again.
"Not pink, not green, got it? I'm counting on you to paint them in a pretty red!" he reminded them.
Ace was the one who least wanted to do the activity.
"Ah, we don't have a choice, do we...? We just have to get this over with, right?" he asked in a huff.
On the other hand, Deuce was very determined to do his best and Grim was convinced that he was fully capable of doing it easily.
"Come on, let's go," Yuu urged and grabbed the nearest paint bucket. He did say much more about it because he was at first disturbed by that sense of deja-vú while painting the roses.
However, he saw in wonder how the white roses turned red in less than a second with Grim's magic from his new magic pendant and the two boys' magic from their magical pens.
He found it funny Ace's annoyed face while manually painting them.
One moment Grim accidentally colored the flowers of an almost finished bush with blue, pink and green, but Cater fixed them right away by painting them red again, earning the fascination of both Heartslabyul students.
"I want to do magic too," Ace commented with jealousy and weariness.
But things started to get complicated as Deuce and Grim lost their concentration, getting the wrong color or even setting the roses on fire, in Grim's case. Yuu had to move quickly to avoid being hit by the flames a second time.
Fortunately Cater, being the expert third-year student he was, easily fixed those mistakes.
"You are worse than I thought," he commented after quickly putting out the small fire.
"But why can't roses be white?" Ace asked. "They're pretty."
"It's part of the tradition, didn't you know?" Cater explained. "The roses at the Un-Birthday Party must be red."
He also commented on other rules such as the color of flamingos and hedgehogs used as balls for the croquet competition, in addition to the fact that the only white rose should be one for the flower concert.
"So many strange rules!" Grim commented.
"These are all rules decided by The Queen of Hearts, one of the Great Seven," Cater continued. "Riddle is a very strict leader and follows her rules to a T. Although I admit that he gets overboard sometimes..."
That last part reminded Ace of the reason for his arrival: "Right, I shouldn't stay here any longer! I need to speak to the dorm leader. Is he inside?"
Cater thought about it for a second.
"I think he should be still around here. But tell me, Ace the Tart Thief, did you bring more to make up for it?"
"Eh? I came straight here, so I have nothing."
The cheerful gleam in Cater's eyes turned a bit darker.
"It's that so? Well, according to the Rule of the Queen of Hearts #53: 'You have to replace what you have stolen', I cannot let you back in the dorm." Deuce and Yuu exchanged a confused look.
"Eh!? What the hell!?" Ace asked.
"Does that mean Ace can't go back to his own dorm unless he brings tarts?" Yuu asked with concern.
"You have to follow the rules of this dorm if you're part of it. If I leave it aside, It will be off with my head", he continued smiling, but his eyes narrowed wickedly. "I'm sorry, but I have to make you leave before Riddle notices."
Since he couldn't do any magic, Ace asked his friends for help when he saw Cater taking his magical pen... It didn't take long for them to be pulled out of the labyrinth.
"Very well! Come back when you have a tart!" he said before disappearing behind the hedges. "Bye, bye!"
"But what's wrong with that guy!?" Ace exclaimed angrily when they had gotten far enough away. "I can't go back without a tart? I've been empty-handed since forever, man. He even kicked us out after he made us help with the roses!"
"What a disappointment," Grim commented incredulously.
"Then we'll have to prepare them," Yuu continued.
"Yeah, we can take care of that after class." After saying that, Deuce seemed to remember something. "Ah! Oh, no!" he yelled.
"What's wrong?" Yuu asked startled.
"The school bell has sounded! We will be late for class!"
"Uah!" Grim exclaimed. "I don't want to be late for the first day of my wonderful school life! Let's hurry up!"
"Right, what is your class?" Ace asked them. "You are also in first year, right?"
"The principal said we're in class 1-A!" Grim replied.
"Well, then we are in the same class!" Deuce said. "We have Magical Alchemy class in the first period."
"Yahoo! That sounds fun!" Grim exclaimed.
"I can't use magic, remember?" Ace commented. "I wonder if I'll be okay..."
Yuu grabbed Grim into his arms and looked at Ace.
"If they let me study here without problem as long as I have Grim by my side, I'm sure that you'll be fine with the magic temporarily blocked. Come on, let's go now."
Chapter 7: The School
They ran as best they could and arrived just in time for the first class, which took place in the laboratory. For that subject they had to wear lab coats, safety goggles and rubber gloves.
The teacher was a young, attractive man named Divus Crewel. He was elegantly dressed and wore an extravagant coat of what appeared to be black and white striped fur. His hair was black with a large part dyed white. He had the habit of referring to students as 'puppies'.
"I see you're the fresh new faces who will be joining my class today." he told them when they arrived. "Hm? What unusual hair colors, and what an interesting shade of black, not bad at all. Make sure all of you to take good care of it."
Along with his style of clothing, that comment made Yuu think that he had to be someone very perfectionist with appearance.
He suddenly once again felt the burning in his left shoulder too.
After that, the teacher explained how the subject was going to be, assuring them that they would memorize many names of plants and herbs.
Neither Ace, Grim, nor Deuce seemed very excited about it.
In the second period they had Magic History class. This took place in the same class where Yuu and Grim talked with the talking picture.
"You seem enthusiastic, Yuu." Deuce told him, seeing him with a glow in his eyes on their way to the classroom. "Are you interested in History?"
"Oh, does it look that obvious?" He looked away a bit embarrassed for a short second. "But yes, it's my favorite subject!" He explained. "My father was a History teacher, he knew a lot about the history and culture of other countries and he used to talk about it at home. He ended up hitting me with his enthusiasm."
"Well, look at that! Now that you are in another world you will learn a totally different history" said Ace.
"Yeah, I was thinking about that right now!"
But his excitement almost went to nothing at the beginning of the lesson.
The teacher was very different from Mr. Crewel: he was an older man dressed in old-fashioned burgundy clothes and holding a black cat with a look as serious and strict as his.
He introduced himself as Mozus Trein and the cat as his familiar, Lucius. He warned that he would not forgive those who fell asleep in class.
The content of the course was interesting, but the class was slow and soporific as it was given with the monotonous voice of the teacher, accompanied by the long and deep meows of the cat.
What Yuu liked the least was that the first lesson was about the Dwarfs' Mine, something he wasn't very excited about from the incident with the ink monster last night, but he took notes as best he could.
Ace yawned and Deuce tried to show interest. On the other hand, Grim didn't hide his boredom.
That subject contrasted in every aspect with the following subject: Physical Education.
They had to wear the sports uniform for the subject, that took place on the sports field. The teacher was Ashton Vargas, a very muscular man with a lot of energy.
Yuu felt the burning in his left shoulder again, much stronger than with Crewel, along with a horrible feeling of discomfort and, for some reason, disgust.
"A magician without physical energy can't exist!" Vargas exclaimed. "So do twenty laps around the field! And then 100 sit-ups!
Luckily Yuu had good physical stamina, but he wondered if it was going to be enough to survive that insane number of sit-ups.
Before that they did some stretches to warm up.
"Uh... It's not that I don't like exercise, but I can't stand teachers like him," Ace commented.
"I'm confident in my physical strength," Deuce added with pride and an evil smile that Yuu would never have imagined in him.
"What's the fun of going around circles?" Grim asked with boredom. "I'm not a hamster, you know?"
Someone laughed at the comment.
"What are you laughing at, Yuu!?" Grim asked with annoyance.
"Sorry, I couldn't help it."
Then he looked at the teacher, wondering why he had felt the burning that way when he saw him.
"Somehow the teacher reminds me a bit of my aunt," he commented, but that was not the reason for his discomfort.
"Really?" Deuce asked him. "How?"
"My aunt does a lot of exercise, she has a lot of strength and an incredible physical shape, but he seems like a male, taller, much more energetic and with atrophied muscles version of her."
"What kind of description is that!?" Ace asked in shock.
After finishing that period, it was break time. It would be lunchtime later, but Deuce wanted to check the timetable for the next class as they walked down one of the hallways.
"For a magic school, it doesn't feel very that much different from a normal school..." Ace commented.
"Really?" Yuu asked him.
"Yes, it is a lot more... ordinary than I thought. I guess I shouldn't worry too much about not having magic. Don't you think so, Grim?"
He received no reply.
"Grim?" Yuu asked after looking around her and not seeing him anywhere.
Deuce winced in shock.
"Look out the window!" he exclaimed. "That furball is in the courtyard!"
They peeked out and saw Grim running out there. The monster realized that he had been discovered.
"As if I'm going to stay in boring classes all day!" he exclaimed from below. "I'm a genius, so I can be a great wizard without them!"
And he ran again on all fours.
"Is he planning to skip classes the first day!?" Yuu asked in horror. "The headmaster is going to be furious with me!" He said as he hold the ghost camera hanging from his neck.
"That one never learns, right?" Deuce commented.
"It's your first day as prefect and are you already being careless?" Ace teased. "Do you want us to help you catch Grim?"
"I want a chocolate croissant from the cafeteria!"
Deuce decided to seize the opportunity:
"Then, I shall have some café latte from the cafeteria."
Yuu growled at the mischief of his new friends.
"Are you serious?"
"Come on, come on. At this rate Grim will escape. Do you really want that?" Ace asked, still with his wicked smile.
"Ok, fine! Deal!!" Yuu sighed impatiently when he realized he had no other choice.
"Then we have an agreement!" Ace exclaimed. "Well, Deuce. Shall we help our poor, helpless Yuu?"
"Of course, Ace," he replied with the same wicked smile. "I look forward to lunchtime."
Yuu rolled his eyes and ran to catch Grim again. Along the way, Ace borrowed a net from a closet with cleaning tools and utensils.
Fortunately for them, Grim hadn't left the courtyard, but he was a fast runner. After chasing him for a while, the three of them managed to surround him and Deuce summoned a cauldron that fell on top of Grim, trapping him in the act.
"Yay! Lunch obtained!" Ace exclaimed victoriously.
"All right, Grim," Deuce told him. "Be nice now and go back to class."
"You only work as a team at times like this," Grim complained as Yuu crouched in front of the cauldron to grab him.
"I got him, you can get this off now."
Deuce and Ace moved the heavy cauldron away and Yuu secured the little monster in his arms.
"No, I don't wanna!" Grim complained, trying to get free. "I don't want to go back to those boring classes! You know?"
"You keep quiet and behave!" Yuu ordered sternly as he held him firmly against his chest. "Didn't you wreak havoc these two last days because you wanted to enter this school!? And now you're trying to get away because you find it 'boring'!? The headmaster was very considerate in accepting you and seeing your potential, so don't waste this great opportunity! If you continue like this you will never be the great wizard you want to be!"
"Dammit!" Grim exclaimed in frustration. "You're very strict today!"
"I'm just doing my job. I also worry about you! They'll kick you out if you don't do your duty as a student!"
Ace and Deuce compared the situation to that of a mother scolding her son.
After saying all that, Yuu sighed. Not even the children in the day care center where his mother worked caused such a fuss...
Shortly after they arrived at the cafeteria, full of people.
"Yes! It's finally time to eat!" Grim exclaimed, completely changing his mood as he climbed onto Yuu's shoulders. "There are so many delicious stuff."
Yuu noticed that the buffet food was very complete and varied for a school cafeteria.
"A fluffy egg omelette!" The little monster screeched as they reached for trays and plates. "Fried chicken and bacon and egg tart!!!"
Poor Yuu felt his ears screech.
"You're very noisy!" Ace exclaimed. "You're really energetic even at lunch time."
"Careful, Grim," Yuu warned him. "If you move so much on me you will make me trip."
"Yuu! Get the fried chicken! Come on, there's only one left!" he insisted without paying much attention to what he said. "Oh, and also omelette! And bread and jam! Take it all!"
"Grim, I can't get that much! Remember that you made me owe Ace and Deuce something."
In one of his sudden movements, Grim accidentally pushed the silver-haired student next to them, who dropped something to the ground.
"Ah!! Hey, idiot! My pasta's soft-boiled egg is on the floor 'cause you bumped into me!" He yelled.
"Oh man!" exclaimed the redheaded student next to him. "The egg is the best part of the carbonara! How are you going to pay for it, jerk!?"
"I guess I'll take that fried chicken you have there as compensation," said the silver-haired one.
"What?! I don't wanna! It's mine!" Grim refused.
"Eh? Is a freshman talking that way to an upperclassman? How rude!" exclaimed the red-haired boy indignantly before pulling his magical pen from his pocket.
"Excuse me..." Deuce intervened, trying to help. "But it's against the rules to use magic forpersonal gain..."
"Personal gain? We're just two seniors giving you a lesson."
"Stop!" Yuu's stern voice commanded.
His friends looked at him in surprise as he set his tray of food and Grim down on a nearby table where there was still nobody. Both of them were two heads taller than him, but he wasn't intimidated by that.
"I'm responsible of my partner, and I'm sorry for the trouble we have caused," he said in a firm voice. "But the last thing we want is trouble, much less because of an accident, so I ask you to listen to my friend and stop the violence. Just accept our apologies."
"And who do you think you speak to us in that way, pipsqueak? Either you pay for my food or you make it up to me with yours! Otherwise you will be the one who pays the consequences!"
Yuu sighed and showed them the ghost camera.
"Do you see this camera? The headmaster entrusted me with the title of prefect the charge of photographing all those students who break the school rules. If I take a picture of you in a fight, I will show it to him and it will be you who will pay the consequences. And it doesn't matter if you take it from me or break it, since we have many witnesses around us who won't mind saying that there was a fight here..."
Both of fell silent when they heard the word 'headmaster' and stared at him to make sure he was serious.
"W-we'll let you go off this time because my pasta's getting cold!" said the silver-haired student before leaving with his friend.
Deuce, Grim, and Ace looked at him again.
"Wow! That was so cool, Yuu!" Ace exclaimed.
"I didn't think you could be like this!" Grim added. "Those guys talked a lot but did little! They deserve it!"
But Yuu slapped his palms on the free table and took a deep breath.
"Man, that was scary!" he exclaimed in dread. For a second I thought we were finished!"
His friends blinked a few times at his sudden change in attitude.
"Then what were you thinking throwing yourself at them like that ?! Ace exclaimed. "They could have fried you! You've done exactly the same as yesterday!"
Yuu felt more relaxed.
"I've only done my job as a prefect, and I didn't want to stay there without doing anything. I thought that if I could survive a giant monster, I can go through anything! Of course, saying that about the camera was what helped me..."
"You must be careful! You could end up hurt." added Ace.
"You did a great job anyway," Deuce congratulated him. "You looked strong and you had courage. You seemed like a defender of justice!"
"How exaggerated..." Grim commented.
"You think so? I admit I was a bit nervous..."
"Yeah, yeah! You were great! But let's eat now," Ace urged. "I missed breakfast and I'm starving."
"To think that such brutes are allowed in this prestigious magic school..." Deuce sighed.
They found a free table. Deuce, Yuu and Grim sat on one side and Ace on the other.
Grim, sitting on the table, did not wait to eat.
"By the way," he said with his mouth half full. "We saw you guys' dorm, but what do the other dorms look like?"
"You have already seen the statues of the Great Seven, right?" Cater asked suddenly beside him, this time accompanied by another tall student. "This school has dorms based on them."
"Hey! You're the dude from this morning!" Ace exclaimed.
"You tricked us into painting the roses red!" Grim continued angrily.
"It's cruel of you to say that I tricked you, you know?" Cater replied with an almost feigned pain as he sat down next to Grim and Yuu. "It's not like I wanted to do it, it was the dorm rules."
"You looked so happy about it though," Deuce sighed.
"Come on, Deucey. We don't have to follow the rules outside the dorm, so I'm your kind senior now," he replied cheerfully.
"Please do not call me that way!" Deuce said sheepishly.
The student who accompanied Cater laughed in amusement as he sat down next to Ace. He wore glasses, had dark green hair and a black, clover-shaped mark under his left eye.
"That's Cater's way of showing affection, you know?" he explained.
"Wait, who are you?" Ace asked him.
"Oh, sorry. I'm Trey, Trey Clover." He kindly introduced himself. "I'm in third year, just like Cater. "He looked at Yuu. "You must be the new student from that ruin-..." he stopped and cleared his throat as he realized what he was going to say, "...from that unused dorm who became the prefect, right?"
"Yes, Yuu Oshiro. Nice to meet you."
"Cater told me everything, I'm sorry our dormmates caused you so much trouble yesterday," he told him.
Ace sighed resignedly and looked away with some embarrassment.
"Come on, come on! Since we're in the same school, we should get along," said Cater cheerfully as he pulled out his smartphone. "Let's exchange e-mail addresses!"
Ace shrugged and took his smartphone out of his pocket. Deuce did the same.
"You too, Yuu!" Cater encouraged him. "You can also tell me your number and your Magicam account to follow you! You look like someone who uploads lots of pictures!"
"Eh!? Er..." Yuu muttered in response and looked away.
"What's the matter? You seem tense. It's ok! Breathe in and out, relax! Don't be shy!"
"No, it's not that! It's just that... I don't have a phone" he admitted with some embarrassment.
For once a handsome and cheerful boy openly asked for his phone number, he had to leave it in his home world, he thought.
"Eh, don't you have a phone?" Cater asked dumbfounded. "That's crazy! You're like an endangered species! I know a place to get the newest models for cheap. How about we go shopping there together on a date to choose one?"
Yuu couldn't control his blush.
"Date!?" he whispered, hardly believing it.
"Cater, you're making him uncomfortable," Trey stopped him amused, as if it wasn't the first time. "Hold back a bit."
"Sorry, sorry! You were asking about the dorms, right? All right, it's an interesting conversation. Let us, your older brothers, explain everything to you!"
"Wait, before the rest of the dorms, could you explain us first about ours?" Ace asked. "What the heck are all those weird 'Queen of Hearts' rules?"
"You already know the legend of the Queen of Hearts, right?" Trey asked them. "To establish absolute law and order, she created harsh rules to control the eccentric inhabitants of Wonderland."
That name became familiar to Yuu.
"And out of respect for the Queen of Hearts," Cater continued. "In Heartslabyul we wear the colors red and black on our arm band to represent the dress she wore. And it's part of our traditions to follow her rules."
"Sounds like a harsh dorm," Grim commented.
"It depends on how strict the dorm leader is with traditions," Cater explained. "Our previous leader was chill about it."
In comparison to other dorm leaders, Riddle is much more serious and devoted," said Trey. "That's why he always strives to keep the tradition."
Grim's eyes widened upon hearing that.
"Ugh, how annoying," Ace complained.
"Hey, and how are the other dorms?" Grim asked.
"As Cater said, we have seven dormitories inspired by the Great Seven," Trey replied.
He started listing them all: Heartslabyul, based on the severity of the Queen of Hearts; Savanaclaw, on the fortitude of the King of Beasts; Octavinelle, on the benevolence of the Sea Witch; Scarabia, based on the careful planning of the Sorcerer of the Desert; Pomefiore, on the efforts of the Beautiful Queen; Ignihyde, on the perseverance of the King of the Underworld. And finally, Diasomnia, based on the elegance of the Witch of Thorns.
"There's a lot," Yuu commented.
"And they all have very long names!" Grim exclaimed, feeling his head explode. I won't be able to remember all of them!" "Ha, ha! That's ok!" Cater laughed. "You will end up learning their names sooner or later!"
"As you saw at the entrance ceremony, the Dark Mirror assigns the dorms after looking into your souls," Trey said. You could say that the dorm reflects the student's character."
"Character?" Deuce asked curiously.
"For example..." Trey pointed at someone at a far table. "Look there!"
It was a tall, muscular student with tanned skin and animal ears that accompanied his silver hair.
"Oh! Does he have dog ears?!" Yuu asked surprised. He remembered the young man with lion ears, but it did not occur to him that there would be more people with ears of different animals.
"Judging from his appearance, he must be from Savanaclaw," Trey said.
"Exactly!" Cater exclaimed. "It's a dorm full of guys good at sports and martial arts. We could say that they are very muscular or that they are like older brothers... In any case, the colors of Savanaclaw are yellow and black."
"Oh. Then what about that boy with the gray and... lavender sash tied around his arm?" Grim pointed to a young student with silver gray hair, which Yuu recognized as the person who was with Riddle to catch Grim.
"He's from Octavinelle, and the two boys with dark red and gold colors who sit on the table beside him are from Scarabia."
The three students seemed to be talking to each other. Yuu immediately recognized the boy with the huge and kind smile he helped in the entrance ceremony.
"Both dorms are full of smart people," Cater said. "Nobody beats them on written tests and they are in the same level. Ah, but the leader of Scarabia is not very good with studies."
"Okay, we're drifting off topic," Ace warned quickly, remembering the beginning of the conversation.
"You adapt pretty quickly, huh" Trey commented. "Going back to the topic, those bright and sparkly ones are from Pomefiore. The colors of their arm band are purple and red."
Trey pointed to one of the closest tables, there was a student with blond hair who was wearing a big hat with a feather. This one was sitting with another adorable looking young student with lilac hair.
"Wow! There's a really cute girl over there!" Grim exclaimed after seeing the lilac-haired boy.
"Eh!? In an all-boys school!?" Deuce asked, puzzled.
"Idiot, how would they let a girl into an all-boys school," Ace snapped.
"Eh!?" Grim and Deuce exclaimed in shock at the realization, drawing the attention of the young boy they were talking about.
Yuu didn't think of him as a girl at all, but now that they mentioned it, he noticed that he had a bit of an androgynous appearance.
And even if Ace said that, he couldn't help but imagine Yukiko studying alongside him at the Night Raven.
"Just as I thought, this is an all-boys school," he commented, remembering his realization from last morning, when he didn't see a single girl. "But what about the girls? Are there any magic schools similar to Night Raven with them?" he asked.
"I know there are all-girls and mixed schools," Ace answered. "But I can't think of any that have as much fame, prestige and history as ours."
"Speaking of girls," Cater said, "the girl in the portrait in the West Building, Rosalia, is very pretty. I can present it to you, if you're interested. Do you want me to set a date with her?"
"No, thanks!" Ace insisted. "Even if she's pretty, she's not very... three-dimensional."
"Does that really matter? She is really lovely, despite being a painting. But anyways," said Cater, returning to the topic, "Pomefiore is full of pretty faces who take their beauty routines very seriously. Even their dorm leader is a famous influencer on Magicam with five million followers," he said as he pulled out his phone once more to show them pictures.
"Hey," Trey cut him off. "Don't judge them just by their looks, Pomefiore has a lot of students who excel at alchemy and spells."
"Ha, ha! Yeah, that too," Cater laughed. "Well, the next one would be Ignihyde. They wear the blue and black arm band, but it doesn't seem to be any of them around here. The students in that dorm are a bit lonely, so I don't have any friends from there. We could say that they are totally opposite to the outgoing people of Heartslabyul."
"You mean they're gloomy?" Grim asked.
"Hey, hey! Be careful with what you say!" Trey snapped with a nervous smile. "Although it's true that all of them tend to be calm and introverted. That dorm is full of students great at magical energy and they're pretty techy."
With Grim's comment, Yuu really wished that the people around them didn't realize they were talking about them from the beginning of the conversation. He hoped they didn't offend anyone...
"And finally, there would be Dia-something dorm," Deuce tried to say. "Right?"
"Don't pretend you said it right,man," Ace snapped. "It's Diasomnia, okay?"
"I bit my tongue! Ok?!" Deuce apologized with some embarrassment.
Yuu laughed a bit at that.
Cater looked around for a student in that place:
"Diasomina is... Oh, over there. They are those guys sitting at those exclusive tables in the cafeteria. They are... how to put it? Very popular? Their colors are lime green and black," he explained. "They have an aura that makes it difficult for commoners like us to get close to them. And their dorm leader gives off some strong 'Stay away from me' vibes."
They took a better look at three students in particular: two young students, one with silver hair and the other with light green hair, both with a very stern look that made Yuu shudder. The person sitting between them, whose huge magenta eyes accompanied his friendly expression, was a stark contrast.
"Oh, there's a kid with them," Ace commented, referring to the latter.
"It's true that this school lets skip grades," Trey said. "But he is not a child at all, he is in third year like us..."
He had barely finished speaking when a sound reminiscent of a sparkles sounded above them.
"I'm Lilia. Lilia Vanrouge."
Everyone at the table winced at the sudden appearance: the person with magenta eyes they were talking about had teleported just on top of them and was levitating upside down.
He had caught his uniform jacket by the shoulders to keep it from falling to the ground, since he was wearing it above his shoulders.
Lilia laughed amused by the reaction, turned around and fell in his feet to the ground.
"Are you interested in my age?" he asked before laughing softly. "It is true that I have this young and adorable face, but just as this young man with glasses said: I am not at the age that could be considered as a child."
"Young and adorable..." Trey repeated perplexed, still taken aback by the scare.
After thinking about it, Yuu recognized him from his voice: he was the person he saw at the end of the entrance ceremony before being left alone with the headmaster.
"You don't have to look at us from afar, you can talk with us whenever you want," he assured them kindly. "Aren't we classmates at the same school? Diasomnia dorm will always welcome you."
As an antithesis to his words, the boys who were eating with him, which Yuu named as I-want-to-kill-you face #1 and I-want-to-kill-you face #2, were watching them in silence from their seats, vigilantly and distrustful.
It was impossible not to notice those stares.
"Those two don't seem to want us to talk to them..." Deuce replied.
Lilia turned his gaze to see what he meant and sighed in amusement.
"He, he. Excuse me for appearing like that while you were eating. I have to go now, see you later." he said before walking back quietly to his seat.
Ace lowered his head close to his friends.
"We are sitting twenty meters away from them and he could hear us from that distance!?" he whispered in horror. "So scary!"
"Well... that's how it is," Trey said calmer. "Diasomnia has very special students with great talent in magic. It is said their dorm leader, Malleus Draconia, is among the five most powerful wizards in our world."
"Good thing he's not offended..." Yuu commented, remembering his previous concern as he saw the light-green haired student, nicknamed as I-want-to-kill-you face #2, talking insistently to Lilia, like if he was asking lots of questions.
"By the way, Malleus is powerful, but dangerous," Cater commented. "Although our dorm leader is also pretty dangerous."
"Tell me about it!" Ace reproached, pointing to his neck. "He put this collar on me for eating a piece of his tart! He's crazy and he's the worst!"
"Hm? I'm crazy and I'm the worst?"
Chapter 8: Bad Vives
At the moment Ace said that, someone was walking right behind him.
"Hm? I'm crazy and I'm the worst?" he asked in a stern voice.
Sitting across the table next to Deuce, Yuu immediately recognized him as the young redheaded boy from the ceremony entrance.
His worried look accompanied the horrified ones from Deuce, Cater, and Trey.
However, Ace had not realized the situation nor did he deign to turn around to see it.
"Exactly!" he answered the question. "Only a tyrant would have such absurd rules. Give me a break!"
"Ace! Behind you!" Deuce told him in a trembling voice.
"It was nice meeting you, Ace," Yuu muttered.
Ace's gaze immediately paled when he saw Riddle.
"Eh?! Dorm leader?!"
Riddle kept his arms crossed and his harsh gaze on Ace.
"Wow, Riddle! You look adorable like crazy today!" Cater exclaimed in an attempt to help Ace.
His gaze turned serene.
"Cater, if you keep talking like that, you'll be beheaded next to that talkative mouth of yours," he warned him.
"Come on, don't be mean to me!" Cater answered nervously.
Grim also recognized it:
"Ah!? Look, Yuu! This is the guy who put that weird collar on me during the entrance ceremony!" he said as he pointed defiantly at him with a paw.
Hearing that, Riddle took a quick look at the first graders.
"You are the ones who caused a disaster yesterday, right? And you, could you avoid referring to my unique magic as a 'weird collar'? Good grief... the headmaster is too soft, ignoring someone who breaks the rules will destroy the balance of the school system. Anyone who doesn't follow the rules should be beheaded," he said with a serenity that shook the atmosphere.
"What he said contrasts with his adorable face," Ace whispered almost inaudibly.
"The headmaster may have forgiven you, but the next time you break the rules, I won't," he warned seriously.
"Uh... By the way, dorm leader," Ace called him with a nervous smile. "Could it be possible that... you took off this collar from me?"
"I was thinking on removing it as soon as you regretted your actions, but judging from what you just said, I see that you haven't yet." Ace's smile disappeared. "I'm going to leave it to you for a little longer."
Deuce, Yuu, and Grim exchanged worried glances.
"Don't worry, first year lessons focuses more on basic theory than magic training," Riddle continued. "Without the ability to use magic, you won't cause another ruckus like yesterday, so that's a good thing, don't you think?" Nobody answered. "Okay," he said, taking a step back, "when you're done eating, hurry up to your next class. Rule #271 of the Queen of Hearts" he announced: "'One must not spend more than 15 minutes sitting at the table after eating'. If you break the rules," he frowned unsparingly, "you know what will happen, right?"
"Another weird rule..." Ace sighed reproachfully.
Riddle stood firm:
"The answer is 'Yes, dorm leader'!
"Yes, dorm leader!" Ace and Deuce said aloud.
"Very good," Riddle nodded.
"Come on, come on," Trey tried to calm him down, "I'll take care of them."
"You're the vice-dorm leader, so I expect from you a good job," Riddle replied. "As the Rule of the Queen of Hearts #339 states: 'After eating, one has to drink lemon tea with two sugar cubes'. For the sake of fulfilling that rule, I have to buy more sugar at the school store, so I need to go."
He began to walk and he could be heard whispering harshly to himself:
"I can't believe it, leaving the sugarpot running out of sugar cubes should be a capital crime..."
After seeing him go, Yuu didn't feel anything on his left shoulder, but in his confusion he couldn't help putting a hand to his head when he heard a kind of heavy dripping sound...
However, when he got far away enough, the tension on the table disappeared and everyone breathed in relief.
"Man, how scary!" Cater exclaimed.
"That boy is really evil!" Grim growled.
"Hey! That was rude!" Deuce scolded him.
At the next table they could overhear the conversation of two Heartslabyul students.
"Has the dorm leader left?" asked one of them, scared.
"I completely forgot Rule #156: 'One must not eat steak burger on Tuesday!'" Said his partner with dread. "What would he have done if he had discovered me?"
"Uh... It shouldn't be a crime to eat whatever we want..."
Trey and Cater looked at them with concern.
"Riddle became dorm leader a week after his first day. He's tough while talking, but he always means well for the dorm," Trey assured them, trying to liven up the mood, "so he's not actually mean."
"Someone with good intentions doesn't put collars on people," Grim snapped.
Trey and Cater laughed nervously at his response.
"Grim, that was your fault for causing chaos at the entrance ceremony," Yuu reminded him with a raised eyebrow. "By the way, guys, he mentioned something about an 'unique magic'. What's that?"
"Hm? You mean Riddle's unique magic?" Cater asked him.
"Unique magic? Is it a type of magic that only the dorm leader can use?" Deuce asked.
"World magic aside, an unique magic is one whose use is limited to one person," Trey explained. "To put it in some way, it reflects someone's character. You will learn that in class."
"Riddle's unique magic is capable of sealing someone's magic for some time," Cater continued. "The name of his unique magic is Off with your head" he said imitating Riddle's authoritative voice.
"Even the name is scary..." Grim shuddered.
"The feeling that a magician having their magic sealed is the same as being beheaded. Therefore you mustn't break Riddle's rules if you're part of this dorm."
"At the same time, as long as you follow the rules, he won't be so scary," Trey added.
"Are you saying I must come back with a tart or will Cater kick me out again?" Ace asked.
"Exactly! Just like Queen of Hearts Rule #53 states," Cater said cheerfully. "Also, Riddle was really looking forward to eat the first piece of the tart, so he won't forgive you unless you bring him a whole one."
Yuu's eyes widened.
Ace didn't like hearing that.
"You said we should get along, but aren't you going to let me pass anyway!?" he asked indignantly.
"That is that, and this is this," Cater replied.
"But aren't whole tarts a bit expensive?" Deuce asked.
Ace sighed in defeat.
"I don't have that much money..." he commented, stretching his arms across the table slowly.
"Then why don't you make one?" Cater suggested. "Those tarts were made by Trey, didn't you know?"
"Oh really?" Yuu asked in surprise. "Look at that, Ace! That way you won't have to pay that much."
"Was it you who made them, Trey!?" Ace asked in amazement. "It's incredible! They look like they were made by a professional!"
Trey laughed pleased.
"Thanks. I think I have most of my tools and ingredients, but I'm not going to offer you help for free."
"Eh!? Do I have to pay you!?"
"I would never ask money from underclassmen money, you know? A tart that Riddle looks forward to eat is made from lots of chestnuts. Could you go pick some up for me?"
"It's still a nuisance... But hey, how many do you need?"
"It's going to be for the Un-Birthday Party, so it will be enough... about two or three hundred," he said confidently.
"That many!?" Deuce, Yuu and Grim exclaimed.
"I'm also going to ask you to toast them and peel them," Trey added.
The three of them looked at each other realizing that they were included to cook with Ace.
"Can I go home?" Grim asked without any intention to help.
"Me too," Deuce said in the same way.
"Traitors!" Ace exclaimed.
"Come on come on!" Cater encouraged them. "Do you know that food tastes better if you make it with other people? And that you can take photos to remember the moment? You could even start a food blog."
Upon hearing that, Yuu looked at the ghost camera hanging from his neck and remembered what the headmaster told him.
"And don't tell this to the dorm leader, but these chestnut tarts, called Mont Blanc, taste better when they are freshly made. And the first to try them right out of the oven are the ones who make them," Trey said persuasively.
Grim quickly lifted his ears and got up on both of his legs.
"Oh, oh, guys! Let's go!" he shouted enthusiastically. "Let's collect each and every one of those chestnuts!"
Yuu laughed in amusement.
"How quickly you changed your mind, huh? By the way, where can we find chestnuts?"
"There are a lot of chestnut trees in the forest behind the botanical garden," Trey replied.
The four agreed to go there after finishing classes for the day.
That same afternoon they went around the huge greenhouse to reach the forest, there were countless trees of different types, from huge apple trees to the chestnut trees they were looking for.
"Oh! There's so many chestnuts over there!" Grim exclaimed after approaching a particular chestnut tree and quickly climbing onto its branches. "With all this we will make lots of Mont Blanc tarts! Let's hurry and... Ouch!"
When he said that there was a paw to try to catch one of the spherical bark with thorns that covered the chestnuts and he pricked the pawpads with them.
The poor monster descended in pain and Yuu picked him up to cheer him up.
"It's going to be impossible to pick them up without gloves," Deuce said. "We should also find a bucket to collect them."
Ace proposed looking for everything they needed inside the botanical garden and they entered through a nearby door.
It was the first time they had visited that greenhouse, so it was inevitable that the three boys and the little monster looked in amazement inside the gigantic glass dome, full of plants, trees and various flowers.
They decided to separate to find the necessary tools. Yuu and Grim stayed to search the central area while Ace headed to the right and Deuce to the left.
"Hey, Yuu, look at this," Grim called after approaching the foot of another tree. "There are a lot of fruits around here! It smells good!"
"You're right, there are also a lot of plants I've never seen before," he commented as he walked. "Of course, remember that you can't eat anything from here."
Looking at Grim vigilantly, he didn't see where he was walking and stepped on something hard.
"Ouch!" a deep voice sounded at the spot.
Yuu was startled and raised his foot quickly. He saw that what he had stepped on was not a plant, but an animal tail, sticking out of some bushes.
He didn't have time to process what happened when a hidden person stood up and glared at him.
He was a dark-skinned young man with long hair and lion ears who wore a yellow vest.
"Hey, you have the guts to dare to step on someone's tail," he said unfriendly.
Yuu recognized him from the entrance ceremony. Grim, on the other hand, approached curious.
"Are you in charge of this place?" he asked him. "Wow, you have a scary face."
"Grim!" Yuu exclaimed effusively for that comment.
"I went here thinking I can have a peaceful nap, and now you come and step on my tail. This is the worst."
Yuu swallowed hard, he knew that he had been the one who had let his tail stick out right next to the road, so anyone could not see it and step on it. But he did not seem to be the type of person that he would reason at a time like that.
"I'm really sorry!" He apologized. "I swear it was an accident, it wasn't my intention."
With that, Leona quickly inspected him with a glance and smirked.
"You... are the little herbivore that the Mirror said he can't use magic..."
He approached Yuu and started sniffing him. The young boy took a step back in discomfort.
"What... What are you doing?!" he asked.
Grim hid behind Yuu's legs, the stranger's gaze and attitude made him feel chills down his spine.
The person stopped and took a couple of steps back.
"Ha. I don't really smell a little bit of magic on you," he concluded. "Im sorry I have to hurt an opponent with a lovable face that can't be defend himself."
"Eh... We don't want trouble!" Yuu exclaimed. "My friend and I had to go anyways, so we won't bother you anymore."
That did not satisfy the stranger.
"Do you really think I'm going to let you go after stepping on my tail? Me, Leona? You woke me up from my nap, so now I'm in a bad mood. Get ready."
He moved one of his hands to his pocket where he had his magical pen. Fortunately for Yuu and Grim, who were about to run away and search for Deuce and Ace, another person came up.
He was a much younger looking boy than the one now known as Leona, he had dark blonde hair and huge animal ears. He was wearing a yellow jacket and a uniform jacket that was too big for him.
"Leona!" He called him and the man immediately calmed down. "Ah, so this is where you were. Leona, you have to go to suplementary lessons today."
"Ah... here comes the noisy one..." Leona complained as he put a hand to his head.
"You've already repeated a year, Leona. If you continue like this, we will be classmates next year" said the newcomer, amused.
"Ah, shut up. Stop bothering me, Ruggie."
"It's not like I wan't to bother you either!" Ruggie replied in annoyance. "Geez, you can do anything if you put your mind to it, but you don't do it at all. Come on, we gotta go"
Leona saw that he had no other choice and clicked his tongue in frustration.
"You better be careful next time you see me, herbivores..." he warned them coldly before leaving with Ruggie.
"Fuah! So scary!" Grim exclaimed. "What's wrong with that attendant?" He has a beastly powerful aura.
"Grim... I don't think he's an attendant," Yuu murmured, his heart still beating at a thousand an hour.
"We found a basket and some tongs here!" Ace exclaimed from afar, accompanied by Deuce.
"Has something happened to you?" Deuce asked, noticing Yuu and Grim's uneasy expressions.
While collecting chestnuts in the forest, they told them about the incident with that terrifying student.
"And that's what happened," Grim finished.
"No, there's no way that dude was an attendant!" Ace exclaimed, terrified.
"He was wearing a yellow vest," Yuu said. "If I remember correctly, those are Savanaclaw students."
"Could it be that Night Raven College has a lot of delinquents?" Deuce mused, thinking of Savanaclaw and the two boys from Heartslabyul at lunchtime.
They finally collected all the chestnuts they needed and went to meet Trey in the school kitchen.
He was already waiting for them there.
"Welcome," he greeted them. "I see you have collected a lot."
"With all these we can make a lot of tarts! You know?" Grim asked enthusiastically.
"Well, I think peeling all of them is going to be difficult. But I hope you do your best," Trey told them.
"All of these, huh?" Deuce commented. "I feel like we're going to be here for a while..."
At the beginning of the task, Trey proposed using magic to peel them more quickly.
"Yuu and Ace can't use magic, so help us peel them normally, please," Deuce recalled.
"I will show you that I am faster than your magic!" Ace replied in frustration.
All of them were dedicated to do it. The atmosphere got lively in no time with the hilarious rivalry fights between Deuce, Grim and Ace.
They finished quickly, but the celebration lasted shortly after Trey told them that they should grind the peeled chestnuts in order to make a cream with them.
After finishing that part, everyone felt the fatigue in their arms.
"I've never done anything like this in baking before," Yuu sighed.
"Oh, have you made cakes before?" Trey asked him.
"Yes, I used to do it once in a while with my sister and my mother. I also know how to make cookies."
"Oh! How come you haven't told me that before?" Grim asked with recovered spirits.
"I'm telling you now," laughed the young boy.
"Then the next part will be easy for you," Trey told him. "We have to add butter and sugar to the paste. And we add oyster sauce as a secret ingredient."
"Oyster sauce?!" Deuce, Ace and Yuu exclaimed at the same time in horror.
"Yeah, the salty flavor of the oysters gives the cream a rich flavor," Trey said. "I use this one in particular: Mr. Walrus' Young Oyster Sauce brand." He showed them a tall bottle filled with a brown liquid with the imprinted image of a little oyster wearing a skirt. "All famous patissieres use this sauce for tarts."
Yuu gulped, more than from adding a salty sauce to a sweet dessert, by a strange feeling of horror and discomfort, accompanied by a prick in the left shoulder, after hearing the name of 'Mr. Walrus'.
"Really?" Deuce asked. "It's a pretty salty sauce."
"It must be similar to put chocolate in curry, so... I guess it makes kinda sende" Ace commented.
Trey bursted out laughing.
"I'm joking!" he exclaimed. "You can't put oysters in sweets!"
"What!? I really thought you were serious!" Ace exclaimed, angry at the deception.
Trey laughed again.
"If you thought about it, you would realize that it's impossible. You believe everything you are told, be a little more skeptical. Take this as a lesson."
"He seems like a good boy, but he's the guy who can lie without a problem," Grim commented incredulously.
Trey finished calming down and went back to the counter next to Yuu.
"Now we have to add the whipped cream..."
As soon as he said that, his calm expression turned to one of shock.
"What's wrong?" Ace asked.
"You have brought a lot of chestnuts, so we ended up making a lot of dough. I don't have enough whipped cream to mix it up."
"I can go buy it," Deuce offered. "Do they sell at the school store?"
"I think they sell basically anything at that store, so I'm sure of it," Trey stated. "Is it okay if I ask you to buy other things?"
Deuce nodded and Trey writted down everything all they needed on a piece of paper and a pencil he pulled out of a drawer.
"I don't think can carry everything alone," Deuce said after calculating the total weight. "Yuu, can you come with me?"
"Sure," he answered. "I haven't seen the school store either, so this is a good time to do it."
"I'm going too! I'm tired of mixing dough all the time!" Grim exclaimed.
Chapter 9: Family
"Do you carry any money with you, Deuce?" Yuu asked him and he nodded. "I have some too, is it okay if we pay together?"
"Yes, I think it's a good idea."
The school store was a small building in the nearby of Ramschackle dorm.
"Excuse me!" Deuce greeted as he entered and was surprised to see the curious interior. "Wow! This place is incredible... Crystal skulls, magical texts and grimoires... What animal is this?" he asked as he saw some kind of strange, dissected creature.
"Can we really buy whipped cream here?" Grim asked in the same way after climbing on Yuu's shoulders to inspect the place better.
Certainly, the place looked more like a witchcraft and antiques store than a school store.
The moment Yuu was approaching what appeared to be the checkout, someone who was crouching there stood up suddenly, surprising the three of them on the spot.
"Hey! Little, lost demons!" He greeted them. "Everything's fine?
It was a young man dressed in a purple T-shirt, a dark jacket and a patched top hat adorned with a skull. Just like he did with Mr. Crewel and Professor Vargas, Yuu felt a familiar sensation from him despite never having seen him before.
"Wow! You scared me!" Grim exclaimed.
"Welcome to Mr. S's Mystery Shop. My name is Sam. What can offer you today? A spell from remote places? The mummy of an ancient king? Or maybe some cursed tarot cards?"
Deuce and Yuu exchanged puzzled looks.
"Uh... We'd like to buy the things written on this note," Deuce said as he handed him the paper Trey had given him.
"And canned tuna too!" Grim said after jumping up onto the counter.
"No! We don't need any tuna!" exclaimed Deuce.
"Let's see... Whipped cream, eggs..." Sam read. "Oh, my! What a sweet line-up. Okay! I'll bring everything right now!"
"Woah, he really does sell it," Deuce said in surprise.
A few minutes passed when Sam returned with everything he had ordered in four plastic bags.
"Here you go, thanks for waiting," he told them and Yuu checked the contents. "It is a bit heavy, so are you sure you can carry them all? If you buy it now, I can offer you a special bag with which you can carry all that with a discount of 30%."
The two boys were already dividing the money to pay.
"Really? That sounds interesting!" Grim exclaimed.
"We have to decline!" Deuce said before grabbing Grim. "Let's go, Grim!"
"Fgna?! I want to stay here longer!" he complained as he was placed on the ground.
"Thanks for everything," Yuu said kindly as he picked up two bags and Deuce the other two. "Until next time!"
"Ok, ok! Hope you guys come back soon, little demons! See ya!" Sam said goodbye.
The three returned to the main street with the shopping bags. Being in the afternoon, there were hardly any people there.
"That store was curious," Deuce commented.
"Deuce, you're a greedy one," Grim complained, still crestfallen from not buying the bag on sale.
"Who are you calling greedy!?"
"Grim, they usually offer those discounts to convince people to buy more things," Yuu explained. "Sometimes there are useful things, but in a case like this it is not worth it."
Deuce cleared his throat after calming down.
"By the way, Yuu," he said. "Is the bag with the canned fruit too heavy for you?"
Some of the cans were big and heavy, so Yuu, who was holding that bag and the one with whipped cream, was having some trouble.
"Er, yeah ..." he admitted. "But don't worry, I'm actually fine."
Deuce held both of his bags in one hand and walked over to him.
"Come, let me carry it," he said with a kind smile and took the bag from him with his free hand.
"No, I'm really fine!" he insisted. "I don't have any problem with this."
"It's okay, I'm used to carrying heavy things," said Deuce.
"Then, thank you. Do you usually buy a lot of things?" he asked him.
Deuce also sighed.
"Yes. My mother usually buys more than we need during sales, so I always help her carry the heaviest things. I'm the only boy in my family, so I usually take care of anything that requires strength. Oh, sorry... I haven't stop talking about myself."
"Don't apologize, it's okay to talk about yourself!" Yuu encouraged him. "I can see that you care a lot about your mother."
He couldn't help but think of hers.
Deuce looked away with some sadness.
"No, that's not true. I used to make my mother... Ow!"
He did not finish speaking because a student who was walking just next him from the opposite direction did not move and struck his arm, holding the bag with the eggs.
"Ah! The eggs!" Grim yelled after hearing them creak.
Deuce crouched down to see the wreckage. Half of the dozen eggs had been broken and spilled inside the bag.
The silver-haired student who had bumped into him turned around.
"Hey, that hurt! Look where you are walking...! Wait," he recognized them. "You are the idiots from lunchtime who ruined the egg in my pasta carbonara!"
It was the same Heartslabyul student who had tried to attack them. With him was the same red-haired student who was with him then.
"Wow, you guys again. I can't believe it," said the latter mockingly.
Deuce didn't look at them in a friendly way either.
"You pushed me. At lunchtime, your egg wasn't badly harmed and you could eat it anyway, but you looked for a fight for it anyways," he said decisively. "However, our carton of eggs is ruined."
"He's right!" Grim exclaimed.
"And what? Are you saying it's our fault?" asked the silver-haired boy.
"Yes. Pay us back for the eggs, please. And also, apologize to the chickens."
Yuu raised an eyebrow. He didn't know what to say at a time like this for fear of making things worse, but what Deuce had just said struck him as surprising.
"Hm? Are you making now a scene for the eggs?" asked the red-haired boy.
Deuce was annoyed to hear that.
"They have not touched the ground, so you can eat them anyway. Stop complaining about something so simple" said the solver-haired one.
"We saved you the trouble from breaking them! Good thing it was inside the bag!"
They both laughed and the silver-haired boy approached Yuu.
"And what about you, pipsqueak? You're not that brave without your old camera, huh? Don't you have anything to say?"
He shoved Yuu and he put a hand to the hit part, although it did not hurt much. He had left the ghost camera in the kitchen so he could carry the bags more comfortably, but now he was afraid he had made a mistake.
Deuce sputtered something under his breath.
Neither of the two criminals heard him well.
"I TOLD YOU TO STOP LAUGHING!!" he yelled furious, he was so pissed off that his pupils were dilated. "You have no choice but to apologize for something that is your fault! These eggs were going to be used to make a tart instead of turning into chicks, you idiots!! Do you understand!? Uh!? And on top of that, do you dare to hurt my friend!?"
Everyone was startled at his new behavior, even the two students.
"If you don't pay us back for the six broken eggs, I'll hit you six times!"
Deuce lunged at them and gave them both a good beating.
Grim kept hidden behind Yuu's legs. They both had no choice but to look away with a mixture of surprise and fear. It was almost difficult for them to process the fact that the formal and calm Deuce could adopt the demeanor of a criminal.
Deuce finally stopped.
"This guy is crazy!" exclaimed the silver-haired boy. "That was more than six hits, you liar!"
"Let's get out of here!" exclaimed his friend. "I'm sorry, chickens! Forgive us, friend with the camera!"
They both broke into a run in the direction of the Mirror Vault, but that didn't calm Deuce.
"Apologize a hundred times the next time you eat eggs, you idiots!" he yelled.
Despite being shorter than Deuce, Yuu finally acted and grabbed him under his arms to stop him.
"Calm down, Deuce!" he exclaimed insistently. "They're already gone! That's enough."
Still in the distance, Grim screeched in fear.
Deuce calmed down, gasped exhausted and felt horrified after seeing the faces of his classmates.
Yuu released him as Grim ran up to them.
"What happened to you!?" asked the little monster.
Deuce clutched a hand in shame.
"Oh no. I did it again..." he muttered with closed eyes. "I promised myself I would truly become a model student this time."
"Eh?" Grim asked more calmly and looked at him doubtfully.
"What do you mean?" Yuu asked him.
"In middle school, all I did was cause trouble..." he explained. "I always skipped classes and spent time getting into fights. I never respected my teachers and hung out with bad upperclassmen. I even bleached my hair. I was always running around the place with a magical wheel without a license." He looked at Yuu regretfully before saying the next thing. "I even used magic to attack guys who couldn't use it. By then I was a very bad person."
Grim and Yuu exchanged a look.
"Even after seeing you now, I have a hard time imagining that!" Grim said.
"Me too," Yuu said. "You almost did the same thing yesterday when you were arguing with Ace, but you stopped right away. From what I've seen, you're usually calm."
"But then one night, I secretly saw my mother cry while she called my grandmother on the phone. She was asking her about what she did wrong to raise me, or if it was her fault for being a single mother and it would have been better if I had two parents instead..." Yuu winced and widened his eyes. "But that's not true! It's not her fault! I'm the one to blame! So when the Black Carriage came home to take me to Night Raven College, she was overjoyed and I vowed never to make her cry again. So I want to be an model student that my mother can be proud of. And yet..." She looked down at his hands again and closed them in frustration. "Dammit!"
"But yanno? Does being an model student really mean you have to put up with everything?" Grim asked him.
"Eh?" Deuce asked, puzzled.
"If it were up to me, I would have given those criminals ten more punches!" He said maliciously. "But you took care of them before I could."
"Grim is right" said Yuu. "I can't say this is the best way to deal with things, but even model students have the right to get angry. You just have to learn to handle stress in a positive way and control yourself for not using violence," he said, remembering the advice from his mother and aunt. "However, you managed to push those guys away from us and helped us. So I have to thank you for that..."
"Guys..." Deuce muttered.
"And if you want to hear my opinion, trust me: I've only known you for a couple of days, but you seem to be a good guy." He approached the bags to pick them up again. "I'm sure your mother is going to be proud of you, if she isn't right now."
Deuce was able to successfully hold back tears of emotion after hearing that.
"Really? Hehe." He looked at the bag with the broken eggs. "May these chicks rest in peace, now that they have been avenged..."
Yuu didn't thought too much about that because he was worried by the delincuents and paralyzed by Deuce's change in behavior, but he realized that his friend was saying that seriously.
"Uh... Deuce," he called him. "I'm really sorry to tell you this, but even if the eggs hadn't been cracked, no chicks were going to hatch out of them..."
Deuce looked at him confused.
Seeing him like that made him feel worse, but there was no going back.
"The eggs that are sold in stores aren't fertilized, so chicks aren't born from them in first place..."
"What!? Are you kidding!?" he exclaimed incredibly shocked in a voice so loud that it caused a resounding echo that made crows and birds that were in the nearest trees fly away.
Grim and Yuu looked around in bewilderment; Deuce kept his stunned gaze on the ground after the realization.
"Grim... Do you think I've ruined his life?"
"He had to realize it sooner or later."
He felt as if he had told a child that Santa Claus did not exist...
"But look on the bright side, Deuce: You don't have to feel bad every time you break eggs any longer! No chick dies in the process" Yuu tried to cheer him up.
Deuce was still processing the situation.
"I think you broke him," Grim said.
Yuu set the bag of broken eggs next to a nearby trash can, grabbed the rest as best he could, and took Deuce by the hand.
"Come on, let's buy more eggs. I still have money, so I'm paying."
Deuce finally reacted and helped him pick up at least the heaviest ones.
They returned to the school kitchen, where Trey and Ace were waiting for them.
"Oh, you've finally come back. Why did it take you so long?" Ace asked them.
"We had a little mishap. But don't worry, we have everything we need here," Yuu said as he placed the bags on the table.
"Then let's get down to business," Trey encouraged.
They dedicated themselves to preparing the dough for the tarts. They did the same as peeling the chestnuts: Trey and Deuce used magic while Yuu and Ace hand-mixed it in some bowls.
Meanwhile, Deuce kept trying to process the fact that the chicks are not hatched from supermarket eggs.
After a while, Grim offered to pour the dough onto the numerous tart-base molds. They put them in the oven and used the time to clean the kitchen.
It began to get dark when they finally took the tarts out of the oven and decorated them with powdered sugar on top.
"We're done!" Grim and Ace exclaimed in triumph.
"Hurray..." Deuce muttered without much encouragement.
Ace took another look at his behavior.
"Did something happen when you went shopping?" he asked Yuu.
"It's a long story..." He sighed. "But let's say he's dismayed by something chick-related, it's better leave him be for a bit," he said as he placed a hand on Deuce's shoulder to try to cheer him up again.
"For sixteen years I have lived a lie..." Deuce muttered.
Ace blinked in confusion a few times and decided to change the subject.
"Who knew that making sweets would be so exhausting? I'm tired..."
Grim also reflected tiredness on his face.
"Nice job!" Cater exclaimed suddenly behind them. "Have you finished the tarts? The decorations are so cute! This goes straight to Magicam! Let me take a picture!" He took the smartphone out from his pocket.
"Ah! Since when are you there?" Ace asked him.
"I came to check how my adorable underclassmen were doing because you were working so hard. You look exhausted!"
"I should photograph this too!" Yuu said before taking the ghost camera.
"Doing things you're not used to can be tiring," Trey said. "In these cases, desserts are the perfect remedy," he extended one of the trays with the served tarts. "Have some of the ones we just made."
Everyone's faces lit up in less than a second. Cater joined them and picked up a tart.
"You only came here to try them out, huh, Cater?" Ace asked him.
"Now, now. Let's all enjoy it together," he replied happily.
"Wow! What a sweet and good smell!" Grim exclaimed as he sat down on the table. "The chestnuts on top are so soft and the cream is so fluffy! I I can't resist it anymore!"
He was quick to taste it. The others were quick to do the same.
"Holy...!" Ace muttered.
"It's delicious!" Cater exclaimed.
"Incredible... They are better than the ones in a store!" Deuce said.
"We have definitely done a good job," Yuu added.
"It's sweet, but not overwhelming," Grim described. "My mouth feels like it's in a field full of chestnut trees!"
"Is that a compliment?" Trey asked.
"Coming from Grim, I'm sure it is," Yuu laughed.
"Oh, right. Trey, do that for them," Cater told him.
"What? Ah, you mean 'that'".
"What are you talking about?" Ace asked.
"Boys, what is your favorite food?" Trey asked them, causing expectation.
"Mine... Is cherry pie and hamburgers," Ace replied.
"Mine is canned tuna," Grim said. "Oh, and cheese omelette, grilled meat, pudding and..."
"If I had to choose one... it would be omurice," Deuce said.
"I'd say butter cookies, chocolate cake, and dumplings with meat," Yuu said. "But why do you ask?"
"Mine is grilled rum meat with devil sauce," Cater said as if he knew what was going to happen.
Yuu gulped at the thought of how spicy that should be.
Trey took his magical pen out of his pocket.
"Okay, then here we go. Doodle Suit."
A sparkling light came off the gem and spread to each of the tarts they were eating.
"What's that?" Deuce asked.
"Try your Mont Blanc again," he told them.
They listened to him.
"Hm?" Ace asked before swallowing and his eyes widened. "It's a Mont Blanc, but it tastes like cherry pie!"
"It's true! Mine tastes like chocolate!" Yuu confirmed.
"Mine tastes like canned tuna!" Grim said, and went back to eating some more. "And now to a cheese omelette! Now to grilled meat and... pudding!"
"It's interesting, right?!" Cater asked. "Don't you think it would be cool to do this at a tea party with girls?"
"Is incredible! Is changing something's flavor your unique magic, Clover?" Deuce asked him.
"Not quite. It is the ability to 'overwrite' something. It also works with color and smell, not just taste. The effect is not permanent, so it is like a sketch. That is why I call this magic a 'doodle', it is just that."
"If I had your Doodle Suit, my dream of eating all the tuna I could would be a reality," Grim said. "Your magic is even better compared to that bully Riddle's!"
Trey got a little serious after hearing that.
"No... My magic is a toy compared to Riddle's. Our magic levels are too different... Yuu, is everything alright?" he asked him with some concern. "Is something wrong with your tart?"
He had noticed that Yuu was staring at his tart with surprise and chewing in a slow pace.
He looked up and hurriedly swallowed.
"Eh? Not at all!" he insisted. "I didn't wan't to worry you, I was only thinking about this flavor of dumplings with meat."
"Does it taste strange, by any chance? Normally that shouldn't happen."
"No, it's not that. It's just... it tastes exactly to those my father used to make."
"Really? Does your father usually cook?"
"Not always, he wasn't bad but he wasn't exactly the best cook in the world either. Nevertheless, he was from a different country, so he cooked dumplings in his own way. My mother still makes them every now and then, but not the same way as he did."
"Did he stop making them? Why?" Grim asked.
Yuu looked away in discomfort.
"He died when I was nine years old..."
The others exchanged a worried look.
"Man, I'm really sorry to hear that," Ace said. "What happened to him?"
"He suffered a car accident on a highway one night on his return from work. He had been away for three days at a conference..."
"I didn't mean to remind you of something so sad," Trey said. "I'm sorry."
"Don't say that!" Yuu insisted. "In fact, I must thank you. I had almost forgotten about their flavor. I'm the one who should apologize, I don't mind talking about it, but I didn't want to ruin the mood with this..."
"That's not true, don't say that," Deuce insisted. "You told me before: it's okay to talk about yourself. And maybe we just met each other, but you can count on us... at least on me."
The others nodded to confirm Deuce's words.
Yuu sighed with some relief.
"Thank you," he said. "Besides, that happened many years ago and I like talking about him. Moreover, I still have my mother, she received help from my aunt, her sister, and both of them did a great job taking care of me and my sister."
"Oh, do you have a sister?" Cater asked, trying to change the subject. "That's great! Is she older or younger than you?"
Yuu smiled happily.
"Let's say she's younger."
"Let's say?" asked Grim, puzzled.
"I also have two little siblings: a brother and a sister," Trey said. "I usually take care of them at home, when our parents are busy. How old is yours?"
"The same as me. We are twins."
"Wow, that's so cool!" Ace exclaimed. "I have a brother seven years older than me. He also studied here at Night Raven College, he was even in Heartslabyul too!"
"A twin sister? Man, you're so lucky! I have two older sisters who love to boss me around," Cater complained jokingly. "I want a twin too!"
"I don't have any siblings," Deuce sighed, "so I can't say anything about it."
"You'd love to meet her," Yuu said. "She is very nice and she's a black belt in karate."
"Black belt?!" Deuce asked. "That means she must be very strong!"
"What's karate?" Grim asked.
"You don't know?" Ace asked. "It's a type of martial arts. And the black belt symbolizes the highest level of experience."
"Yes, it takes about five years to obtain it," explained Yuu.
"Martial arts? You mean it's something like fighting? I also want that!", Grim said enthusiastically.
"Hey, Yuu," Ace called him. "Just out of curiosity, in case we meet your sister by any chance... Can you tell me if she has a boyfriend?"
"Ace! What kind of question is that!?" Deuce snapped.
On the other hand, Yuu laughed.
"Nice try," he told him with an arched eyebrow. "To satisfy your curiosity, no. She hasn't dated anyone for months. She wouldn't be interested in going out with you either, I know her well and you aren't exactly her type... What's more, if she found out that you made fun of me yesterday, she would hold a grudge against you for who knows how much time."
Ace blinked a few times.
"Come on, come on," he said with a mischievous smile. "I'm just kidding! I'm not very interested in dating right now, either." He swallowed hard. "Besides, she doesn't have to find out. I sincerely apologized for that, so that shouldn't matter anymore, right?"
Yuu looked at him with an evil smirk.
"I may have forgiven you, but I doubt she will..."
Suddenly, Yuu gradually heard the female laugh from that morning. It was still distant, but it was exactly the same cheerful, young voice. She was laughing out loud, louder than last time, as if the conversation they were having made her burst out laughing. It didn't seem like the others were listening to it as well or like it was just from his imagination. He got scared, but the laugh ended quickly.
Upon seeing Ace's scared face, he laughed again.
"Don't worry, she's not that scary. Actually, I'm sure you two would get along."
"Speaking of accepting your apology, Ace," Trey interrupted them. "It's getting late, we'll give the dorm leader the tarts tomorrow, okay? Tomorrow is the Unbirthday Party, so don't be late."
"Yuu, can I sleep in your dorm again?" Ace asked him. "I don't think evil Cater will let me go back yet..."
"Wow, that was direct..." Cater commented in bewilderment.
"Hey, Ace. Don't take advantage of Yuu," Deuce snapped again.
"He's right!" Grim said in the same way. "If you are going to stay with us again, you have to pay the rent! Ten cans of tuna!"
"Eh!? Are you telling me to sleep outside?" Ace asked them both.
"Then Deuce, why don't you spend the night in his dorm to help him keep an eye on Ace? As the vice-dorm leader, I give you permission."
"Trey, aren't you being too nice to them?" Cater asked. "I'm jealous! Yuu, can I go with you?"
"No, you're not going," Trey told him.
"Yuu, I'm sorry for leaving them in your care again, but we're counting on you for tomorrow," Trey added.
"No problem. See you tomorrow!"
Ace grabbed the heavy, metallic collar around his neck.
"Tomorrow is the Unbirthday Party," he said aloud. "I will definitely make him take this collar off me! You'll see, dorm leader!"
"I'm sure you will," Yuu said. "Before we go Deuce, do you need to pick up something from Heartslabyul to spend the night at Ramschackle?"
"Now that you mention it, yes. I don't think I'll take a long time though."
"Hey, we're roommates," Ace reminded him. "Could you pick up some of my things too?"
"And who do you think you are!?"
"Come on, don't fight," Yuu told them. "You helped me before with the bags, Deuce, so if it's not too much trouble, how about I accompany you and help collect everything?"
"You're too nice," Grim said. "We're already letting them sleep in our dorm."
"Well, I would also like to receive help me if I were in his place..."
"Okay, you can come with me," Deuce said. "I don't think we're going to take too much time anyways."
They put the tarts in the fridge and everyone left the kitchen. On their way back, Grim and Ace parted ways to go to Ramschackle dorm, the rest went to Heartslabyul.
Yuu could see for the first time the colorful interior of the place. They said goodbye once more to Trey and Cater.
"Our room is this way," Deuce pointed out. "It seems the others haven't gone to sleep yet."
At that, a student frantically approached Trey and Cater.
"Did something happen?" Trey asked him.
The young student told them that Riddle collared some students for breaking rule #256, which stated nobody should drink lemonade with honey when it's past 8 in the evening.
"I don't want to continue living this way!" He added. "He keeps imposing illogical rules! I want to change dorms!"
Trey put his hands on his shoulders to calm him down.
"Everything will be fine, I'll go talk to the dorm leader. You go back to your room."
Deuce and Yuu exchanged a worried look before proceeding to do what they had come to.
Even thought he did not want to think about it, Yuu heard again in his head some dripping sound...
Chapter 10: Tyranny
Deuce and Yuu returned to Ramschackle with two sport bags.
"Welcome," the big ghost greeted them.
Deuce almost backed away in surprise.
"Grim and your friend told us that you would come later," said the thin ghost.
"Hello! Yes, this is Deuce. He's also going to spend the night here with us," Yuu said.
"You are the same boy from this morning," the little ghost recognized. "Nice to meet you."
"Yes... Nice to meet you too," he replied trying to be polite.
"Forgive the mess," Yuu told him. "We are still rebuilding process."
Ace and Grim were sitting on the couch in the living room.
"You have finally returned!" Grim said. "The ghosts scared us when we arrived... Good grief!"
"We just wanted to say hi. Hee, hee!"
"Here's your stuff, Ace," Yuu told him as he handed her his gym bag. "It's everything you asked us for."
"Thanks." He opened it and looked for something specific. "Here it is! This will help us kill time."
He drew a game of cards from the French deck.
"I've been thinking about this," Grim said. "But how are we all going to sleep today? Our room is still the only one clean."
"What do you mean?" Deuce asked.
"I had to sleep on the couch last night..." Ace recalled. "There is another one over there for you, anyway."
"That won't be necessary, I've just been talking about it with Deuce," Yuu said. "Yesterday Grim and I looked through the rooms in this dorm and I found some futon-like spare beds in good condition. You can sleep in them here."
"Did you have spare beds to sleep on!? Then why did I have to sleep on the couch!?" Ace asked him.
Yuu gave him a nervous smile and shrugged.
"Well... by then I didn't remember them and my mind was tired because I had woken up in the middle of the night."
"Will we sleep here tonight with them?" Grim asked him. "I refuse to sleep on the couch!"
"Relax, we have plenty of mattresses for everyone. And here we have enough space to be together, we just need to move the table and the rocking chair aside."
"Better for us, that way we can play some cards before going to sleep," Ace said, pointing to the cards. "Can you play Old Maid?"
"Yes. I know of other card games, too" Deuce said.
"Me too. I've just played a few times, but I think it's a good idea" Yuu said.
"I don't," Grim said.
"I imagined it... There is no choice, I'll explain you how to play!"
"I'm going to get ready for sleep first," Yuu said. I'll be right back. "The bathroom is in good conditions, in case you need to go."
"I should do the same too," Deuce said as he opened his gym bag.
"Do you want one more pillow to sleep better with the collar, Ace?"
"Thank you, but I don't think that even the biggest and softest pillow in the world will take away this discomfort..."
After changing into pajamas and brushing their teeth, the four of them chatted while playing until exhaustion got the better of them. Although Grim did not like going to sleep very much without having won a single time...
After visualizing the mirror in his room, Yuu suddenly opened his eyes and found himself in the same labyrinthine rose garden as the night before. He was wearing the same blue dress with a white apron.
"Another strange dream?" he wondered aloud. "Or is this the same one as last time?"
It wasn't, because Alice was lying on the ground next to the three soldier-cards, who appeared to be bowing to two long rows of soldier-cards. Among them, a plump, burly woman dressed in a black and red dress was seen appearing behind the hedges with a friendly smile. With her right hand she was holding a kind of heart attached to a stick and wearing a crown on her head.
"... Her Excellency, Her Royal Majesty... The Queen of Hearts!" he finished introducing her between gasps a white rabbit next to her.
All the soldiers received her with ovations and applause.
Then a man the same height as the rabbit appeared behind her and cheerfully beckoned to him.
"And the king..." the rabbit introduced him indifferently.
Only a distant "Hurray!" was heard, but he did not seem to care.
"Poor man," Yuu thought.
The atmosphere took a complete turn when the queen was enraged to look at the hedges that Alice and the three soldiers painted and see a hideously painted one. She gave a creepy smile as she approached the hedge, intriguing Yuu and Alice.
"Who's been painting my roses red?" She asked after examining it.
Then she grabbed the trunk of the hedge, ripped it and lifted it into the air, displaying incredible strength.
"Who's been painting my roses red!?" She repeated screaming. "Who has dared to ruin my roses? For painting my roses red, someone will lose his head!"she exclaimed before throwing the hedge down and looking at the three soldiers. She didn't seem to notice Alice.
"Oh, forgive me, Your Majesty! It was not me, but the two!" said the three of clubs.
"No! The fault is not mine, but of the ace! The ace!"
"No, my queen! It was two!"
"The deuce, you say?" asked the queen.
They continued to blame each other until the queen had enough.
"That's enough! Off with their heads!"
Between cheers and applauses, the three soldiers were seized by others and dragged elsewhere under Alice's astonished gaze, who continued to lie on the ground.
"We have no choice because you got the wrong color for the roses," said a two of diamonds.
"Mistaking white for red was a stupid mistake," added a three of spades.
Then the images gradually disappeared while the queen ordered silence with a deafening scream. The dream was over.
"Did she really have to punish them for making a mistake?" Yuu wondered. "If it she was so harsh, why didn't anyone stop the queen?"
Surely out of fear, he finally thought, the soldiers feared for their lives...
He was finally woke up to the gentle shaking of Deuce, already dressed in his uniform in the living room.
"Wake up, Yuu," he said. Today is the Unbirthday Party, remember? They'll behead us if we're late.
"Good morning..." Yuu mumbled while rubbing his eyes. "That's right, today is the day." He looked around. "Where are Grim and Ace?"
"Ace got up early to look for the tartlets, now he is with Grim in the kitchen."
"Have you got up that early? I didn't even realize..."
He got up and brushed his teeth. He removed the bandages from his arms when he saw that they seemed to be better and looked at the print on his shoulder for a few seconds before putting on his uniform.
As he left, someone knocked on the door.
"Someone is here," Deuce commented and Yuu opened the door.
"Good Morning!" Cater greeted them and Yuu let him pass. "How was your slumber party? Did you have fun playing cards and pillow fights?"
Ace and Grim, who heard him enter, entered the living room.
"Good morning," Ace yawned. "Yes, we played cards. Grim didn't know the rules so we just played Old Maid."
"Jeez! I couldn't win a single time!"
"That's because your face completely shows when you get the joker" Deuce explained.
"Come on, let's hurry and give the tarts to Riddle," Cater urged. "Actually, I'd like you to hurry up and come with me. I'm running out of man-power for the party."
"Man-power?" Ace and Yuu asked at the same time.
"No, it's nothing. Come on, to the Unbirthday Party! Let's go!"
They were soon in the Heartslabyul bedroom. Ace was holding the tray with the tarts.
"Okay, I'll head on bring the tarts so the dorm leader forgives me..." he said.
But then a Cater in sports uniform appeared on front of them.
"Hey, you've finally come! I was waiting for you, me."
The Cater who was with them, dressed in the school uniform, greeted him in the same cheerful way.
"I'm back. Sorry for the delay, me."
The four first-year students were shocked. Yuu rubbed his eyes and looked back at both Caters in perplexity.
"Now there are two Diamonds!?" Deuce asked, not believing what he was seeing.
"Do you really had a twin?!" Ace asked remembering the previous day's conversation, trying to make sense of the situation.
"No, no," replied the Cater in the school uniform. "As I told you yesterday, I am the only male sibling in my family. This is my unique magic: Split Card. I can make clones of myself with my magic."
Then more clones began to appear one by one.
"Welcome!" One dressed in the lab coat greeted them.
"Welcome, little Yuu!" Greeted him another Cater dressed in the ceremonial robe.
"Oh, Acey! You made me wait a lot" complained the Cater dressed in the sports uniform.
"Wow! There is more!" Ace exclaimed stupefied in response.
"I'm getting dizzy..." Yuu muttered from seeing so many clones. "Which is the real one?"
"It's me," said the Cater in the sports uniform who had approached Ace and Yuu took a step back to separate from the clone in the school uniform. "It's tiring cloning myself," he added, "so I don't want to prolong this too much. I'll be beheaded if I'm late. And there aren't enough people here, so give us a hand, please? I'll take you to see Riddle when we're done."
"Are you going to make us paint the roses again?" Grim asked reluctantly.
Two clones gave two brushes with red paint to Ace and Yuu.
"You are so carefree, you know it, right?" Ace replied with annoyance.
"Come on, let's get started!" exclaimed the real Cater.
"Alright!" answered the clone in the school uniform.
"Leave this to me!" said the one in the lab coat.
"Okay!" exclaimed the one in the robe.
At this moment Yuu wondered again if he was dreaming and pinched himself hard. The pain reminded him that he was in real life, no matter how unreal it all seemed.
They dedicated themselves to painting the white roses red in the garden, in addition to doing it better than the day before, they finished in a short time with the company of the clones.
"You did great!" Cater said after seeing the roses that Deuce had painted and took out his phone to check the time. "Oh! It is almost time. Great job yos! That's all for today!
"Aye aye, sir!" the clones exclaimed in unison before disappearing.
In the process, the real Cater changed his sports uniform for the school uniform.
"Okay, I made you a promise. Follow me, the party is around there."
He led them to a large area with red rose bushes, prepared and decorated for a tea party filled with tables with white tablecloths, sweets and food. There were a lot of boys talking to each other, dressed in curious white suits with red and black colors and details related to roses and French deck cards.
One of them played a fanfare with a trumpet.
"Make way for our great leader!" He announced. "The Crimson Ruler! The dorm leader, Riddle!"
Riddle entered the party with a serene and solemn gait. He wore a much more elegant and elaborate outfit than the others, accompanied by a cape as a symbol of his leadership. On his head he wore a small golden crown-shaped ornament.
"Three cheers for dorm leader Riddle!" exclaimed the other students.
With the scene, Yuu remembered the dream he had had that morning.
Next to him was Trey, who wore the same suit as the others, with the difference of a hat folded to give a heart shape.
Riddle casted an impassive glance over the festive atmosphere and nodded.
"Yes, the roses are red, the tablecloths are white," he said. "It's truly a perfect Unbirthday Party."He arched an eyebrow. "I assume there is a dormouse sleeping inside the kettle as planned, correct?"
"Of course. We also have the jam in case we need to put it on its nose."
"Fwaa! Look at those clothes!" Grim exclaimed in wonder after seeing them. "They look so cool!"
"Of course!" Heartslabyul's dorm uniform is great," Cater said. "They are very stylish and worthy of going directly to Magicam!" He took his magical pen out. "Well, I should get changed too."
He made a movement with the pen and in the blink of an eye his uniform changed into the same one the others were wearing.
"Wow!" Yuu exclaimed.
"The Law of the Queen of Hearts states that you have to dress formally on festivities," he explained, looking back at the first-year boys. "As today is a special occasion, let your big brother help you today with the appropriate clothes."
He made a second wave of his hand in them and their clothes were transformed into the dorm uniform. They all looked at each other in amazement at the sudden change.
"Oh!" Deuce exclaimed startled.
"Wow, this is so cool!" Ace said enthusiastically.
Yuu and Grim were not excluded, the human had the same uniform as his friends and the monster's ribbon had turned more elegant with black and red colors.
"Nyaha!" Grim exclaimed." I look incredible!"
Yuu looked at his arms and jacket with admiration, even his shoes were different. Until then, he had only worn three outfits in the time he was in Twisted Wonderland.
"You guys look great!" he said to his friends. "It's a shame I left the ghost camera in my room..."
"Don't worry, I'll take all the photos you want!" Cater laughed. "Of course, don't forget the Mont Blanc for Riddle. All right, let's party!"
In the center of the longest table in the place, Riddle sat in a huge red chair with a heart-shaped back that was reminiscent of a throne and Trey poured him some tea.
Looking at him, Yuu couldn't help but think that he looked like a king... or a queen, as it was the case.
"Yuu, look at this!" Grim exclaimed. "I've never seen before so many sweets and desserts in the same place!"
"Be careful not to eat everything or it will give you a stomachache!" he laughed.
"My stomach isn't as weak as yours!"
They sat at an ornate table near Riddle and chatted to pass the time.
"There's something I wanted to ask you, Yuu," Deuce told him. "How it was your last name? It was Oshi... something?"
"Oshiro. It means "Big Castle," he explained. "It's my mother's last name."
"Oh, really? Is it a tradition where you live to use the maternal surname?" Trey asked him.
"No, but it is not unusual in some countries that when a woman and a man marry each other, her maiden name is adopted instead of his bachelor name. Although it is still not common..."
"So did your father adopt your mother's last name?" Ace asked.
"Yes. He insisted on changing his because he came from a different country and had already lived in my mother's for a long time. And also because he directly did not like his last name, as he reminded him of his father."
"What was your father's last name?" Grim asked him.
"Walter... It's not like it sounds bad, but if they had chosen that last name, right now my name would be Yuu Walter."
"I prefer Oshiro," Grim said. "But what do you mean that he reminded him of his father?"
He was about to respond when Riddle stood up and tapped a small spoon against his teacup to get the attention of the audience. When the silence was completely extended, he rose from his chair.
"Let's have a toast before we start the croquet match," he announced before reaching for a cup. "Do you have your cups of tea ready? Well, let's celebrate for this Unbirthday Party.
"Cheers," exclaimed the assistants.
"Look, Acey. This is your chance," Cater told him.
Ace remembered his goal, grabbed the tray of tartlets and walked over to stand in front of Riddle.
"Very well..." He cleared his throat and smiled." Um... dorm leader."
Riddle stopped drinking from his cup and looked up.
"You are? Ah, the freshman who stole my tarts," he said calmly.
"Yes... I wanted to apologize for that. So I have prepared other tarts to make up for it."
Riddle seemed interested.
"Hm? I'll ask just to be sure, what kind of tarts are they?"
"I'm glad you asked! These are Mont Blanc made with lots of chestnuts!"
Riddle's stoic expression twisted into one of revulsion.
"Did you say Mont Blanc tarts!? I can't believe this!"
The reaction was not the expected at all. Grim, Deuce and Yuu watched the situation from afar stupefied, just like Ace.
"Eh!?" Ace asked, not understanding anything.
"Rule #562 of the Law of the Queen of Hearts: 'You cannot bring Mont Blanc tartlets to an Unbirthday Party'," their blood ran cold. "This is a serious violation of the law! How could you!? This perfect Unbirthday Party is officially ruined!"
It was impossible for Yuu and the rest of the assistants to hold back a gasp of fear and concern. The joyous festive atmosphere of just seconds ago had grown tense.
"Rule #562?!" Deuce asked.
At most they had heard up to more than 300 rules, but did not know that they exceeded 500.
"But how many rules are there in total!?" Yuu asked aloud.
"A total of 810," he replied. "I've got all of them memorized, I'm the dorm leader after all," he said seriously.
Yuu couldn't help looking at Trey with a feeling of betrayal, since he was the one who had proposed to make Mont Blanc tarts. To his surprise, he was as pale as they were.
"Man, this doesn't look good at all," Cater whispered. "Did you know anything about this, Trey?"
"I've only managed to memorize up to rule 350," he whispered. "I let my guard down, I didn't think there could be any rules related to the type of tart..."
Yuu changed his gaze to one of understanding, he couldn't understand how someone could memorize that insane number of rules and follow them thoroughly... he felt some pity for Trey, who just wanted to help.
Riddle placed both hands on the table authoritatively.
"As the leader of Heartslabyul dorm, I can't ignore a crime like this." He waved his arm at a group of students. "Get rid of these tarts! And take this rule breaker out feom here!"
One student took Ace's tray from him and another grabbed his shoulder to kick him out.
Everybody watched in horror as he approached a distant trash can to dump the tarts they had made.
Ace easily pulled away from the boy who was holding him.
"Wait a second!" he protested furiously. "As if I'm going to listen to such a ridiculous rule!"
Grim had jumped off the table to grab onto the student's leg to stop him.
"He's right!" he exclaimed to support Ace. "If you're going to throw away the tarts, let me eat them instead!"
The student with the tray shook him off his leg to make him loosen up.
Trey got up and walked over to Riddle. Deuce, Cater, and Yuu did the same.
"Dorm Leader, my sincerest apologies. I was the one who suggested him making Mont Blanc tarts,"he said, trying to help Ace.
"Exactly!" Cater said. "We didn't know it was against the rules!"
"The problem here is not that you have made them, but the fact that you have dared to bring them here, this day!"
"But I don't understand!" Yuu exclaimed. "Are you really going to throw away some good tarts just because they are 'against the rules'!? Ace made lots of effort to make them for you and we helped him with Trey's prompts to make them the best he could!"
For a second, he thought he saw Riddle look away in remorse and frustration within his scowl.
"He's right!" Ace exclaimed. "I have enough of these absurd rules. Don't you realize you are being an idiot?"
The second of frustration immediately disappeared from Riddle.
"Idiot?" He asked in a dangerous tone.
Cater paled even more.
"Hey, hey, stop! That word is forbidden!" He looked at Riddle nervously. "Come on, Riddle, these guys are new and they just got into this school. They still have to adapt to the rules..."
"No, I'm going to say it," Ace said with determination. "Only an idiot would follow a rule would heed a rule related to tartlets. Stop messing around with me!"
Deuce moved to Ace's side.
"I agree with Ace," he stated firmly. "Of course, it is important to follow the rules and they should not be broken... But this is overstepping the line."
"How bold of you to speak to me like that," Riddle said as he left the table to walk in front of them. "Listen to me well: breaking a small rule will end in big trouble later."
Ace didn't want to hear him.
"And the others too!" he exclaimed, pointing around him. "They are afraid that you will seal their magic so they don't speak up, but I'm sure they feel the same!"
The other attendees were petrified to feel included in the discussion.
"No, we don't..." muttered one of them.
"Eh? Is that right?" Riddle asked a nearby group with his arms crossed.
"No, that's not true, dorm leader!" one insisted.
"Everything the leader says is always correct and we follow the rules!"
"I can't believe it!" Grim exclaimed at the lack of support.
"They're too scared..." Yuu said.
"So lame..." Ace mumbled.
Riddle drew his magic pen from some pocket and it transformed into a long golden scepter with a heart-shaped ornament that held the magic gem from it. He propped it up firmly on the ground.
"Since I became the leader, no student from Heartslabyul has repeated a year or been expelled. And that's counting all the dormitories in this school. In this dorm I'm the one with the highest marks and the strongest!" He pointed to himself. "That means I am always right! You just have to follow my rules without question!"
"That's..." Deuce muttered fearfully.
"It's not like I'm doing this because I want to. Don't you realize that you are the ones at fault for breaking the rules?"
For some reason, Trey scowled sadly after hearing Riddle's words.
When he said that, Yuu noticed that hidden feeling of frustration in Riddle again, as if he was trying to believe what he was saying. But he found it strange that someone as authoritarian and determined as he wanted to continue doing something that he did not like.
"But you don't have to destroy other people's work because of a rule they didn't know!" he insisted. "If you don't want to do it, then don't. Aren't you the leader here?"
Riddle didn't seem to want to listen to him.
"Exactly, I'm the one who rules here! If you are not going to obey me, it will be of with your heads!" He made a quick gesture with his free hand in front of the neck to simulate a decapitation cut. "I am myself clear!?"
Cater's nerves were raw.
"Come on, guys. You just have to say: Yes, dorm leader!"
"I refuse," Deuce said seriously with folded arms.
Seeing that there was no way to reason with Riddle, Yuu moved to Deuce's side.
"Me too," he said. "I can't agree with this."
Ace joined them.
"I've had enough with this selfish tyrant!" He said.
Riddle clenched his magical scepter as if he were trying to break it.
"What did you just said?" he asked in a deep voice.
"He said that you are an irritating and selfish tyrant who does unreasonable things like throwing food away to the trash for stupid reasons!" Grim said without thinking twice.
Deuce's determined facade collapsed with Grim's rash action.
"Hey! He didn't say that!"
But it didn't help, Riddle's pupils had already contracted in fury.
"OF WITH YOUR HEAD !!!!
Heavy metal necklaces that looked like heart-shaped shackles closed around Grim and Deuce's necks, making them scream at the sensation of having their magic locked.
"Not this collar again!" Grim yelled.
Deuce tried to remove it with his hands.
"Damn, I can't take it off!"
Yuu couldn't help but put his hands around his neck as he didn't feel anything. Unlike them, Riddle hadn't put the collar on him.
He quickly understood the reason: it would be useless to block magical power from someone who did not possess it...
"Trey, Cater!" Riddle shouted with the same fury. "Get them out of here immediately!"
Both nodded with a downcast expression.
"Yes, dorm leader..."
"Guys?!" Deuce asked with a feeling of betrayal.
"Sorry!!" Cater said with a nervous smile. "We can't go against the leader."
"You too, Trey?" Yuu asked.
"I'm sorry..." he answered ruefully before trying to grab him and Deuce by the shoulder.
But Ace got between them.
"Aah, that so?! Then come at me!"
He tried to pounce on them but they grabbed him below the shoulders without much difficulty.
"You can't defeat me that easily!" Grim exclaimed, but Yuu scooped him up. "What are you doing?! Put me down!"
"Grim, it's not worth it," Yuu said. "Right now we can't do anything against them."
Then Trey grabbed his shoulder with his free arm. Cater did the same with Deuce and they were taken to the front door of the party.
Yuu looked at Riddle for a moment before being led outside, the dorm leader was glaring at them angrily.
"Well then, Acey and friends. See ya later!" Cater said cheerfully.
"I'll try to calm him down so you can apologize and come back," Trey said with his typical kind smile to try to ease the tension.
Ace stand up and looked at them.
"Dammit!! I'm never going to apologize!!!" he yelled before they both closed the doors on them.
It could be seen that in the end it was not too necessary to bring the ghost camera for the party...
Chapter 11: Help
Yuu put a hand to his head as he felt a little dizziness after hearing the heavy dripping sound for the third time.
"Yuu? Are you okay?" Ace asked him, forgetting for one second his anger. "You look pale."
"Yeah, I'm fine... I think. But I feel my head spinning..."
"Really? You? Being the only one of us who doesn't have a collar!?" Grim asked indignantly.
"Maybe the fuss was too much for you," Deuce guessed. "Let's go to a clearer place. We can't go back there anyway."
They returned to the rose maze and Ace blurted out what he had been trying to hold:
"Damn it! That little red tyrant! Does he think he's the Queen of Hearts or what!?"
"Apparently he represents her, so I guess he really believes that," Yuu sighed.
Disappointed, Deuce shook his head with closed eyes:
"Getting thrown out for disobeying the leader... I'm slowly drifting away from becoming a model student..."
Grim sat on the ground so he could bear the weight of his necklace.
"Ugh, this collar is heavy... and suffocating..."
"How elegant you look with those meowtching collars!" Exclaimed a shrill, purring voice.
A floating head had appeared right next to Yuu, making him the first to yell and recoil in fright.
The other three did the same when they saw it too.
"Fgyaaaaa! A floating ghost head!!" Grim yelled as he hid behind Ace's legs.
"Oops, I forgot to make my body appear," he said without a hint of remorse from their shock.
The head was accompanied by the rest of his body, which gradually appeared. It was a young person taller than Ace and Deuce and looked older than the three of them. He had violet hair and a thick tail of the same color that perfectly matched his cat ears. His set of clothes consisted of a purple and lilac striped T-shirt similar to his tail, on top of him he wore a messy white shirt unbuttoned at the top. His jeans were adorned with colorful patches and his boots were purple.
Yuu had noticed that in Heartslabyul were boys with ears and tails of rabbits, cats and mice, so he supposed that he should be one of them. But his clothes seemed too different for him to be someone from Night Raven College.
"Wow, so you do have a body," Deuce commented, still in shock. "Who are you?"
"I'm Alchemi Alchemivich Pinka," the young boy replied, revealing two long fangs as he spoke. "I'm someone very enigmatic with magic that's both like a cat and like a purrrson."
The name sounded like a tongue twister and was difficult to understand on the first listen.
"Alche..." Ace tried to say in a daze, but his tongue got stuck. "Come again?"
It was clear that it wasn't the first time people reacted like that, so the cat-boy laughed with amusement.
"Heh, heh, heh. Everybody calls me Che'nya," he answered, giving a huge smile full of mischief. "At the very least, I'm of a very different level from the guys around here."
His intriguing smile and his mischievous, playful countenance gave Yuu back that feeling of familiarity, despite never having seen him in his life. Even the part where he had the mark had itched again and, if with Professor Vargas he had felt disgust, with Che'nya he felt a feeling of confusion and dizziness.
"Another weirdo..." he muttered disoriented and was startled to realize how rude he sounded. "I mean...! What dorm are you from? From here, Heartslabyul?"
However, Chenya did not seem offended and leaned over him.
"Do you think I'm weird? Well around here, this is completely normal," he said cheerfully. "And answering your question: try to guess which dorm I'm from."
That wasn't an answer at all.
"Well.. . you have cat ears, so if you're not from Heartslabyul... Savannaclaw, maybe?"
"Booo, boooo! Incorrect!" He said playfully. "Yes, I'm a cat, but I'm not from here or there"
"He's really a weird guy..." Grim muttered in confusion.
Ace got tired of the sudden appearance of the stranger.
"I'm already in a bad mood because of the absurd situation caused by that tyrant, so go now."
Che'nya gave him a curious look.
"Riddle the Tyrant... Heh, heh, heh." he laughed. "Well, I guess mew're not entirely wrong. That boy has always been strict and picky one since he was little. Heh, heh, heh."
Yuu gave a surprised gasp.
"Oh! Do you know him?" He asked.
"Do you know something about it?" Deuce asked with interest.
Che'nya put his arms behind her neck and swang with his feet to pretend to be oblivious.
"If you think I know, then I know. If you think I don't know, then I don't know."
"So, do you know or not? Make up your mind," Grim told him impatiently.
He glanced at them.
"What? Do you really want to know about Riddle?"
"Of course we want to! I want to know who created a small tyrant like him," Ace said.
The cat boy stood still and pointed the way to the party with his left thumb.
"Then, you should ask your furrend with glasses"
"Our friend with glasses? Do you mean Clover?" Deuce asked him.
"That guy has known Riddle since they were little. If I were you and wanted to know more about Riddle, I'd go ask him," he said enigmatically.
"Are they childhood friends? It didn't seem like it at all, "Deuce said.
"That's right. They seem to be more a leader and his right hand than two good, old friends." Yuu added.
Che'nya gave his mysterious smile again.
"If that's what you think, maybe that's the way it is then. Well, very well, I suppose mew work here is done." He made his body invisible again and left only his head before saying goodbye. "See mya later."
"Hey, wait!" Deuce exclaimed. But Che'nya hummed a cheerful little tune that sounded familiar to Yuu for some reason, as his head finished disappearing.
"This guy is really weird, meow," Grim said. "Oh, I just talked like him!"
"I guess that's because of the cat genes," Yuu said jokingly.
"I've told you many times that I'm not a cat!"
"We're not going to be able to take classes properly with these suffocating collars," Deuce sighed, returning to the main topic. "Let's ask Clover about this." He looked at Ace. "Also..."
Ace knew what he was going to say and interrupted him: "If you think I'm going to apologize to have this collar off, you're wrong! I'm not going to do it!"
"I don't blame you, this first attempt didn't go well at all," Yuu said at Ace's stubborn attitude. "But how should we really talk about this with Trey? We can't just go and say: 'Hey, Trey! A boy with cat ears just told us that you know why Riddle is the way he is. Give us answers!' "
"Says someone with a sharp thong... Of course we can! Let's ambush him to talk!" Grim exclaimed.
"Yuu's right," Deuce interrupted him. "I suppose the best way is to do it tactfully at the most opportune moment."
"Do you remember that he used a recipe book to make the tarts? He borrowed it from the library, so it's possible that he will return it later. Let's wait for him there," Ace suggested.
"Sounds good to me," Yuu confirmed. "I hope he doesn't get too offended by asking him something like that..."
Then they left Heartslabyul to attend classes on schedule. Grim's bedroom uniforms and tie reverted to their former shape as they walked through the door.
Drip, drip, drip...
After the last period of the day, Yuu heard the heavy dripping once more, with the difference that it had become more insistent.
"Yuu? Are you getting dizzy again?" Ace asked him.
"I would also get dizzy from Trein's boring classes," Grim said.
"Do you usually get dizzy?" Deuce asked him.
"No... I don't know why this is happening to me. I also feel like something bad is going to happen..."
"Then you should go to the infirmary later. You could get worse," advised Ace.
"I didn't mean it like that... Well, it's ok, don't worry. I feel better now, but I will consider it."
That afternoon they sat in the library and waited until they saw Trey. They approached him.
"Clover," Deuce called him.
He spun around as if they pulled him out of his thoughts. Yuu was surprised to see him with that down expression, something must have happened.
"Oh, it's you guys..."
"We figured you'd come here to return the recipe book," said Deuce.
"We're still not convinced with the way the dorm leader does things," Ace insisted seriously.
Trey sighed in exhaustion. "I figured it..." he murmured.
"Tell us, what do you really think of him?" Ace asked him austerely. "Have you let him behave like this since you were children?"
Trey frowned with concern.
"Who told you that?" He asked.
"From someone named Che'nya," Deuce replied.
After hearing the name, he seemed to understand the situation better.
"Che'nya? Ah, him."
"He was the one who told us to ask you about Riddle," Yuu explained. "We are sorry if we are asking you something you don't like to talk about."
"That's right," Grim said in Yuu's arms. "You're older than Riddle, right? You should be mad at him too, yanno?"
Trey took a deep breath.
"Of course I would do it if necessary. But... I can't do anything against him."
"Why?!" Ace asked indignantly.
"Wait, we should sit down," Yuu interrupted. "That way we will talk more comfortably."
They all thought of it as a good idea and sat around the nearest table. Grim sat on the surface.
"As I was saying, I can't do anything because Riddle is how you see him now because he grew up with very strict rules."
"Huh?" Deuce and Yuu asked at the same time.
"His parents are very famous magicians who were known in his city. His mother was exceptional and she wanted Riddle to be exceptional in the same way, that's why she was very strict with him and they decided every single detail for Riddle, from the moment he woke up until he went to bed, even the number of his hours to study."
"Every little detail?" He asked in horror.
"What he could eat, the clothes he had to wear, even the friends he could have. She always decided everything." Yuu gave a surprised gasp and swallowed hard. "Even so, Riddle was silent and did his best to live up to his parents' expectations. When he was ten years old, he had already mastered his unique magic and from elementary school his grades always had to be perfect. I don't even want to imagine how hard it must be."
Ace and Yuu exchanged a look, the first seriously and the second sadly.
"You say that Riddle is like that because of his mother? That's horrible..." Yuu muttered as he clenched his fist.
He had unfortunately seen some mothers similar to Riddle's in his mother's daycare when he and his sister were helping her at work. What they had in common was being either very conservative or very overprotective. Her mother would not bear them, she gave them professional advice to try to make them change their attitude and she always made an effort to make the children that she cared for happy.
However, the strongest and most worrying case he had ever known was with Yukiko's second boyfriend. He was a boy a year older than them who had asked her out and she accepted, they liked each other very much and they spent time together for almost five months. But they began to struggle because of his mother, a divorced business owner who used to be very controlling with him. For some reason she didn't like Yukiko from the moment she met her and didn't bother to hide it.
She finally got fed up and pressured him to break up with her. It was very hard for Yukiko, by then he hadn't seen her cry that much in years. It was also difficult for Yuu because he had become close friends with him, but after the breakup he distanced himself not just because of his mother's mistrust but also the awkwardness of seeing his face...
Hearing the description of Riddle's mother made him think of that horrible woman.
"Riddle thinks that being harsh and following the rules will benefit others in the long run. And that if he imposes strict rules and fear with his leadership... Everyone will become like him. So he thinks breaking the rules is completely wrong because..."
"... Because if they don't follow the rules it would be against the way he was raised, right?" Ace interrumped him.
"I understand that you see him as a tyrant," Trey continued, "and I know the way he does things is not right." He put a hand to his temple. "But despite everything, it's impossible for me to scold him."
Grim's eyes filled with tears at the sad story and Yuu patted his head.
"To think the dorm leader would have such a past..." Deuce muttered.
However, Ace hadn't changed his face for a single moment and he looked at Trey silently.
"After hearing you say all that I finally understand," he finally said, "it's your fault that Riddle is like that."
"Huh!?" The other four exclaimed when they heard that unexpected comment with such lack of tact.
"Ace!?" Yuu asked.
"Riddle couldn't choose his parents, that's a reality," he began to explain. "But you've always known that the way his mother treated him was wrong. Right, Trey?"
"Well..." Trey muttered, stunned.
"If you think the dorm leader is making the same mistakes as his mother, then tell him. Put him on the right track. What will you achieve by feeling sorry for him and letting him do whatever he wants? Are you going to watch while everyone hates him and rejects him?"
Trey stared at the table in frustration.
"Hey, Ace!" Deuce exclaimed, flustered by his harsh words to a upperclassman.
But that didn't stop Ace, who crossed his arms to hold his posture.
"Or what? Are you going to keep quiet for fear of 'losing your head'? How pathetic," he said with his typical mocking smile before hitting the table with both hands and raising his voice in fury. "You are not his childhood friend! You don't even deserve to be called his friend!"
"HEY, YOUUU!" Crowley yelled suddenly behind them. "YOU ARE IN THE LIBRARY!!! KEEP QUIEEEET!!!
Yuu rubbed his ears at the volume of his voice.
"Well, you're screaming even louder than us," Grim said nonchalantly.
Crowley realized that he was right, looked around in discomfort at the stares of the students there and cleared his throat.
"Oh, excuse me. Mind you, the library is a quiet place to study and read," he whispered. "If you are going to speak, do it in a low voice."
"Sorry," Yuu whispered. "But why are you here, headmaster?"
"Of course, I have come to investigate for some way for you, young Yuu, so you can return to your world. I have not forgotten about it, since I am very kind!" He said enthusiastically. "After all, the library is a perfect place to do research. I haven't come here to read before anyone else the new volume of a novel that I really looked foward. Of course not. Not at all!"
Yuu arched an eyebrow at the clear admission that the headmaster wasn't going to investigate at all. But he hadn't started looking for some way to get home either, so he hid his disbelief from him.
Crowley cleared his throat again.
"By the way, what are you all doing here with those long faces? Did something happen?"
They offered him a seat and explained the situation from the preparation of the tarts to the incident from that morning.
"I see. To sum up: you don't want to apologize to have your collar removed," Crowley said to Ace. "But you know it won't be easy to convince the dorm leader either."
"Yes, that's exactly it."
"I understand. In case you don't like the way the leader does things, you have the option of changing dorms. However, the Dark Mirror chose the right dorm for you based on your soul qualities, so you would have to go through a lot of tedious rituals and procedures required for the transfer."
It was not necessary for Ace to hear the drawbacks of the option in order not to be convinced by it.
"Changing dorms? It sounds like I'm running away, so I don't want to do that."
Crowley thought of another option."Then how about challenging young Rosehearts to a duel to claim the title of dorm leader?"
"Eehhhhhhh??!!" They all asked, including Trey, loudly at the unexpected proposal.
"Hey! I told you to speak in a low voice!" Crowley snapped at them in a whisper.
"It's because you just said something strange, headmaster!" Ace whispered.
"There is nothing strange about this, young one. After all, young Rosehearts himself got his position as dorm leader that way."
"That's right, how is the dorm leader position decided here at Night Raven College?" Deuce asked.
"We heard that Riddle became dorm leader a week after entering the school," Grim recalled.
"They can be chosen by the previous leader or win a duel against him. But those are not the only ways. I would say that a duel is one of the simplest forms," reported the headmaster.
"But isn't the use of magic for personal gain forbidden?" Ace asked.
"For personal gain, yes." Crowley placed a hand on his chest proudly. "However, a duel approved by the headmaster himself for official and valid reasons is another story."
"If I remember correctly," Trey said, "putting your opponent at a disadvantage before the duel is forbidden, so Riddle would have to remove your collars without your apologies. "But..."
"New students are given the right to challenge their dorm leader if they wish," Crowley concluded. "What are you going to do, young Trappola? Do you accept this challenge against young Rosehearts?"
"Okay," Ace said determinedly. "Then I'll do it."
"Me too," Deuce joined in.
"And me!" Grim exclaimed.
"Unfortunately for you, Grim, students from a different dorm can't participate in the challenge," the headmaster told him.
"Makes sense," Yuu said as he patted Grim on the head to comfort him.
"Then who's gonna take my collar off?!"
"When I become the dorm leader, I'll order Riddle to take it off from you," Ace assured him cheerfully.
That didn't cheer him up at all.
"Damn it... It was the perfect chance to show off my strength," he said in frustration.
Trey became concerned again when he saw that the situation was escalating.
"Guys, are you serious?" He asked sternly. "Deuce, I didn't think you would agree to this."
"Really?" He asked boldly. "As a man, I'd like to be able to try." He gave one of his unusual malicious smiles. "I'll do my best for the team if we are going to challenge him."
Ace mimicked his smile.
"Here comes the bad boy mode," he said proudly.
"I don't feel safe," Yuu murmured with a shudder at the sight of both of them and shrugged on the table.
"Eh? Isn't this normal?" asked Deuce, now embarrassed.
"Yuu, you're their friend, aren't you going to say anything about this?" Trey insisted. "This could end badly."
"I'm not very convinced of this either, Trey. But I can't think of any other option if we want to stop Riddle... Besides, at this point I don't think we can get the idea out of their minds."
"Then let me explain the rules of the duel," Crowley said.
"We'll have to make a strategy like the one at the Dwarfs' Mine," Yuu said. "But are you really going to be okay?"
"You don't have to worry so much," Ace assured him. "Well, what ideas do you have?"
"I'm sure the dorm leader will win if we use magic," Deuce said and rammed a fist into his palm confidently. "But if we go with physical strength, we'll surely have an advantage."
"It's true, he seems to be very weak!" Grim said wickedly.
"Oh, I totally forgot," Crowley interrupted. "In this duel it is forbidden to use any other type of attack other than magic."
Deuce ran out of ideas and the headmaster laughed in amusement.
"Follow the rules and have fun challenge! I'll finish explaining the procedures to you tomorrow, so let me know when you decide on the day of the duel. Now then, excuse me."
He got up and went to find the book he was wanting so much to read. When they lost sight of him, the trio of shackles on their necks lost their daring facade in less than a second and replaced it with one full of nerves.
"W-Well...!" Ace stuttered. "I'm not very confident if it's magic. But... we'll manage somehow!"
"T-that's right!" Deuce stated.
"My neck's on stake here, so you better give your best!" Grim said, still disappointed in not being able to fight.
"Guys..." Trey whispered, feeling a combination of bewilderment at the intention of wanting to confront the dorm leader and amazement at the determination and bond they felt for the cause.
"When I become the dorm leader, I'll make him say, 'What I did was wrong, forgive me!'" Ace swore. "And I'll stop him from enforcing those absurd rules!"
"But we should talk about it outside," Yuu said quietly. "Everybody is looking at us and they don't seem to like hearing us talk."
"Sure, sure," Ace whispered. "Come on, let's get out of here."
"Look, Yuu, it's Crowley again," Grim pointed out. "He has picked up the book that he said he was going to read instead of researching. How lazy of him!"
"Look who's talking!"
"What does the headmaster have to research?" Trey asked curious. "And what did he mean by 'returning you to your world'?"
"Ah, right. You don't it know yet," Deuce said.
"Make yourself comfortable," Yuu told him. "It's a long and confusing story..."
Chapter 12: Revolution
That day was Wednesday, so they decided that Friday would be the perfect day for the duel.
Since they couldn't go back to Heartslabyul without apologizing to Riddle, Yuu offered Deuce and Ace to spend the night at Ramschackle until then. Together they bought more food and necessities at Sam's store for the group of four they were now.
They also bought cleaning products and took the opportunity to clean two other rooms for Ace and Deuce, since Yuu was not willing to make them sleep on the floor or on the sofa for more than a day. At first Ace and Grim protested having to work, but quickly changed their minds.
Deuce and Yuu caught them dusting the furniture.
"It's not like I really wanted to help," Ace excused as he cleaned the mirror, "but Deuce keeps insisting on being a model student who wants to do his best and I don't want to stare as he gets ahead of me! And if I'm no here, it's very likely for him to make a mistake and destroy this place even more!"
"How did you say?" Deuce asked him without hiding his annoyance as he placed some cleans sheets fresh from the dryer on the bed.
"And I also have the responsibility to take care of my henchman!" Grim insisted. "I have to make sure you keep everything clean."
"And since I've started cleaning here, I'll take this room!" Ace insisted.
"Don't decide on your own!" Deuce protested.
Yuu sighed at the comical stubbornness of his friends and shook his head.
"You guys are the best," he chuckled. "Come on, this is not too much. And when we're done I'll make dinner to make it up to you. I'll go back to Sam's store to buy what I need. I had thought of chicken or hamburgers, but what do you prefer today?"
"Oh? Do you really know how to cook that?" Ace asked him.
"I only know how to prepare some basic dishes. But yes, my sister and I usually cook at home, especially when mom is busy with work. And in my previous school I was in the cooking club, so I was able to improve a little."
"Not only do you know how to cook cakes, but do you also know other dishes?" Grim asked in wonder. "You are an amazing henchman! What more secrets do you hide from us? Tell me, tell me!"
Yuu picked up the pillowcase and arched an eyebrow. "Like what?"
"Whatever! Something of your life!"
"Hey, that sounds interesting!" Ace said. "Come on, tell us!"
"Guys, you shouldn't ask people about their personal lives," Deuce snapped.
"It's okay, I don't mind talking a bit about myself," Yuu assured. "This way we get to know each other better. But in return you must say something about yourselves. Deal?"
"Ok, deal!" Ace exclaimed enthusiastically. "In fact, I'll start 'cause I have something good: during the Night Raven College entrance ceremony, I was getting so bored that I decided to run away and convinced another boy to go with me in case I had to make up the excuse to accompany him to the infirmary!"
"You did that!?" Deuce asked, horrified. "So you were the student the dorm leader went to look for! Do you know what would have happened if he had caught you!? You could have gotten the other student in trouble too!"
"Yes, yes... He would have beheaded me..." Ace said, touching the collar on his neck. "But we were able to get back without getting caught and I could see Grim causing all the fuss," he laughed as he remembered the moment.
"You're not in a position to laugh!" Grim exclaimed angrily while trying to be in a comfortable position to handle his collar better.
"What happened to the other boy?" Yuu asked as he took the broom to sweep the floor.
Ace shrugged. "Well, I haven't spoken to him again. But I saw him at the cafeteria when Trey and Cater told us about the dorms. In fact, he's the same boy from Pomefiore that you mistook for a girl."
"Seriously?" Grim asked.
"Yes. I admit that when I first saw him, I also thought he was a girl. I asked him if he was one to be sure and he got a little offended."
"Why would you ask something like that in the first place...?" Yuu sighed.
"He wasn't very talkative, but he seemed like a nice guy," Ace recalled. "Anyway, it's your turn, Deuce!"
"Why me? Fine, okay... Let's see, something interesting about me... Oh, I know!" He finally exclaimed. "I'm good at fixing machines."
"Boring," Grim replied without enthusiasm.
"What else do you want me to tell you?" Deuce asked indignantly.
"I don't know... How about something about your bad boy stage?" Ace suggested.
"Guys, I don't think Deuce likes to talk about it!" Yuu interrupted before Deuce said anything. "It's alright, Deuce. It seems interesting to me. What can you fix?"
He was relieved to hear that. "I usually deal with small machines like clocks and those someone can find at home," he replied. "My mother always asks me for help because she is not good at those kind of things. At first I did it reluctantly, but I ended up finding it entertaining."
"That sounds useful," Yuu commented.
"Okay, Yuu. Now it's your turn," Grim insisted. "And say something very interesting!"
He thought about it for a bit. He considered talking to them about the print on his shoulder, but he settled for something much simpler:
"My mother works in a daycare center. My sister and I usually help her there."
"Oh. Does that mean you have experience babysitting?" Deuce asked him.
"Yes, sort of. We usually deal with babies, toddlers and young children. I normally get along very well with them."
"I'm not suprised," Deuce chuckled. "You're so kind that a child surely would trust you easily."
Ace couldn't suppress a laugh. "That must have been useful to you. Since Grim acts like a little kid, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to take care of him."
"What did you say, Ace?!" Grim asked, offended. "I ain't a little kid, yanno? And Yuu, that's not an interesting secret, it's boring! Tell me something juicy!"
Yuu pretended to be indignant.
"Well, since everything seems to be SO boring to you... I don't think it will interest you to know that so far I have had three partners."
"Eh!?" the three asked at the same time.
"What? Why are you that surprised?"
"Three partners at 16?! How popular are you at home?" Deuce asked in amazement.
"Three!? How can someone as ordinary and average-looking as you succeed with girls?!" Grim asked.
Yuu frowned in response.
"It's not all about physical appearance, you know?" He asked him. "But as I said: since I see that you aren't going to be interested and think it's boring, let's continue cleaning," he said as he gathered up the rest of the clean sheets. "There is still Deuce's room left and I have dinner to make."
"Wait! I AM interested! Tell me!" Grim insisted. "I promise I won't complain this time!"
"Too late, I'm busy now!" Yuu said with a mischievous smile as he left the room.
"Fgnaaa..." Whined Grim. He sat up in the bed with a great feeling of defeat.
After this scene, Deuce and Ace exchanged a look and tried to hold back their laughter. Yuu and Grim's relationship seemed like that of a mother with her tumultuous son... Or that of a brother with his little brother.
"Ok, ok, we are going." Ace said. "But someday you'll have to tell us about your love conquests," he joked.
"What we have to talk about right now these days is about the duel against Riddle!" Yuu replied from the other room.
The night before the duel, Yuu dreamed of Alice and the Queen of Hearts again.
"Another weird dream?" He said aloud when he saw himself dressed again with the blue, cute dress.
The place he was in was not the labyrinth of roses from the previous two dreams, but what appeared to be courtroom. In fact, the Queen of Hearts was sitting at the top of a high judge's table while Alice was below her. There were numerous card-soldiers.
The queen was smeared with what appeared to be jam and Alice quickly ate something.
"OFF WITH HER-!"
The Queen of Hearts' scream was interrupted as Alice began to grow in a hurry until she hit the ceiling with her head.
Yuu didn't understand the situation at all, but just when Alice was finally able to scare the soldiers approaching her, he saw some blue glow not far from him, in his left side...
He took a few steps toward it and made out what appeared to be a dark, person-shaped shadow. It was a pitch-black silhouette, but in it he could perfectly distinguish the shape of a female person.
Yuu could distinguish in her a long, straight hair, in addition to the same dress with an apron that he was wearing. The glow was coming from her right shoulder and was shaped exactly to his print on his left shoulder.
"Alice?" He called her, thinking she could be the young, blonde girl.
But he realized that the shadow girl was somewhat taller and slimmer than Alice, she also had much straighter hair. She did not seem to have noticed him as she was watching cautiously and attentively at the giant Alice arguing with the king.
Yuu got a hunch and lifted the left sleeve of his dress, revealing that the blue print on his shoulder was glowing the same way.
Had the print always shone like that in his dreams? Why was that?
His thoughts were interrupted by the following scene: the giant Alice bowed to the queen before getting angry. Seeing her confront her like that reminded him of Ace confronting Riddle for her tyranny.
"Your Royal Majesty? You are not even a queen!" She exclaimed not realizing that she was shrinking into her normal size as she spoke. "You are just a tyrant who does what you want! Selfish, evil and rude-!"
She stopped short when she realized she had lost her size advantage.
The queen rubbed her hands maliciously at the sight of her in that state. "Could you repeat what you said?" She asked with suppressed fury.
A big, purple-striped cat, which Yuu recognized as the Cheshire Cat, had appeared sitting on the queen's head. "She just said that you are a fat, selfish, evil and very rude tyrant!" He exclaimed quickly in a high-pitched voice, as if he didn't care about Alice's life.
The girl paled and tried to make him shut up, but it was too late...
"OOOOOOOOFF WITH HER HEEEEAD!!!!!" The Queen of Hearts screamed at the top of her lungs.
A great amount of card-soldiers pounced on Alice.
"Off with her head!" The king exclaimed, using his crown as a megaphone. "Off with her head by orders of my queen!"
Yuu could see how Alice started to run before the soldiers tried to caught her...
... And how in the middle of the chaos the shadow girl was staring at him... As if she had finally realized he was there with her the whole time.
Before the situation got worse, all the images of the dream disappeared. The shadow girl didn't seem to be there either, as her blue glow was nowhere to be seen.
"Someone should have stopped the queen before she went like that..." Yuu said aloud, thinking about what he had just seen. "Just like with Riddle..."
He remembered again Ace being angry at Trey for not doing anything to stop Riddle and his tyrannical command.
Even though the situation was about the queen, he wasn't able to forget about the girl-shaped shadow staring at him for a moment.
Despite looking strange, intriguing and creepy, Yuu didn't feel her as dangerous, but couldn't tell whether it was because she had the same print as him or because of the sense of calm he felt with her for a second, before the purple cat wreaked havoc.
Yuu woke up with a start after feeling a shake in his shoulders and rubbed his eyes to see that it was Grim and Ace.
"Oh, you're finally awake, Yuu!" Grim said, sitting on the bed.
Ace was standing next to the bed, already dressed in his dorm uniform.
"Today is the day!" He said seriously as he pulled the blanket off him. "Come on, let's go!"
"Fine, fine! I'm coming..." Yuu exclaimed as he got up, still with his head full of fatigue and turbulence caused by his disturbing dream.
As he put on his school uniform, he became dizzy again and heard the sinister dripping sound once more...
"I just hope nothing bad happens..." He murmured to himself.
That afternoon after class, they gathered at the entrance of Heartslabyul's rose maze.
The Heartslabyul students kept talking and muttering among themselves about the duel against the dorm leader. Some showed curiosity, others intrigue. Many already expected the result with Riddle as the winner and others commented on the audacity of the two first-year students to face the leader.
"Acey and Deucey have challenged Riddle to a duel to take away the title of leader?!" Cater asked in fear and amazement. "Are they serious!?"
"I tried to stop them..." Trey said, defeated. "Yeah, they are so reckless... I hope this does not end worse than it seems."
"Hi," Yuu greeted them.
"Yuu! Did you know about this?" Cater asked him.
He nodded. "I was even with them when the headmaster suggested the duel."
"And you think this is okay!?"
Yuu sighed. "No, but it would have been impossible trying to avoid it. And trying to remove the collars the good way didn't work at all, so now it's time to do it the hard way. We can't think of a better idea..."
Cater was about to say something else when Grim, from the ground, yanked Yuu by the pants. "Come on, Yuu. It's going to start."
"I have to go, we'll talk later."
Yuu and Grim moved to the side of the headmaster, who placed his staff firmly on the ground.
"Okay, everyone pay attention!" He announced. "Today we will witness a duel for the title of Heartslabyul's dorm leader." Ace and Deuce stepped forward. "The challengers are Ace Trappola and Deuce Spade," the headmaster pointed to Riddle, standing at the other side. "And the person who accepted the challenge is Riddle Rosehearts, current dorm leader. The rules say there should be no handicaps, so remove the magic seal from them, please."
Riddle obeyed and with a movement of his arm removed the shackles from Ace and Deuce's necks. They both massaged their necks in relief.
"Ah! I'm finally free from that collar!" Ace exclaimed.
Riddle gave them a cynical smile. "Don't be so relieved, I'll put it back on you shortly. Enjoy this short freedom while you can. I almost didn't believe it when I was told you had challenged me to a duel." He frowned. "Are you serious?"
"Of course," Ace replied.
"We'd never challenge you to a duel as a joke," Deuce added.
Riddle sighed and took his magical pen to turn it into the golden scepter.
"Well, it doesn't matter. We should start as soon as possible."
Cater approached him. "Riddle, what should we do about tea time this afternoon?"
"What an unnecessary question," Riddle replied. "The rules state that my tea time is set daily at 4 PM."
Cater took out his mobile phone to check the time. "But it's already past 3:30 PM..."
"Do you really think I'm going to be late? I'll get this over with quickly." He turned to Ace and Deuce again. "As you can see, I don't have much time left. Facing you one on one will take a long time, so come both at once."
Most of the Heartslabyul students began cheering and cheering for Riddle.
"Come on, dorm leader!"
"Give them a lesson!"
Riddle's two opponents , Grim, Yuu and even Trey looked at them with annoyance.
"They only dare to speak at times like this!" Deuce muttered under his breath.
"Agh! That pisses me off a lot!" Grim exclaimed in frustration.
"We didn't come here without a strategy, you know!" Ace reported.
"Guys, do your best! I'm sure you're going to win!" Yuu yelled loudly to try to make himself heard amid the uproar.
He watched Riddle approach Crowley. "Headmaster, when you're ready," he told him.
Crowley took a hand mirror and held it up in the air.
"The duel begins when the mirror falls to the ground and breaks. Are you ready? Set...?" He threw it to the ground with force and it broke easily. "Fight!"
It seemed that Ace and Deuce would have the advantage in numbers to defeat Riddle, much more with the strategy of throwing a cauldron at him and finishing him off with fire and wind magic.
But to their surprise, Riddle was faster and with a gesture of his magical scepter made a thick line of fire that made them back down and lose their balance.
Watching them fall to the ground, Riddle wasted no time in waving his free arm and staring at them with furiously contracted pupils. "OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!!!"
The two cried out in pain and frustration as they felt the collars tighten their necks once again...
"Dammit! We couldn't even use our magic...!" Ace exclaimed.
"To think we didn't even have the chance!" Deuce added.
"My God!" Yuu exclaimed. "He was so quick I could hardly see it!"
"A person's magical strength comes from the strength of their imagination," Crowley explained. "The more force you use to figure out what you want to do with your magic, the more powerful it will come out." Yuu remembered learning that in class. "Young Rosehearts has proven to have greatly enhanced his magical power," he said proudly.
That was a source of pride for him as the headmaster and professional educator he was, but for Yuu it was something worrying, since his friends were still in trouble.
The sentiment was shared by Grim, who winced at Riddle's unexpected fierceness. "Ah... The magic level difference is too big," he muttered.
"We didn't think of that for our strategy at all," Yuu added, feeling equally frustrated.
"Well done, dorm leader!" shouted many of the students who witnessed his swift victory.
Fueled by his triumph and the ovations directed at him, Riddle smiled serenely.
"Hmph. That didn't even take five seconds," he said satisfied before looking at his opponents with disdain. "I'm surprised that you have challenged me to a duel with such low skills. Aren't you embarrassed?" He frowned again. "I knew it. Anyone who breaks the rules will always amount to nothing... Just like mother said."
Yuu grimfaced, both from personally seeing the confirmation of Trey's story and from the fact that Riddle said something like that just because Ace brought a type of tart without knowing it was not allowed and then disagreeing with an inadequate way of ruling.
As if he had read his mind, Deuce got up and looked at Riddle steadily. "It's true that rules must be followed, but the way you enforce each absurd rule to the letter makes you a tyrant! That is oppression!" He exclaimed to try again to reason with him.
However, Riddle hardly reacted to his words. "Mm? Breaking the rules has consequences." He pointed to himself with one hand. "And in this dorm, I am the rules! Therefore, anyone who dares to disobey me has no right to complain when I cut off their head!" He said in an authoritative voice.
Yuu couldn't take it anymore. He could barely do anything to help his sister's boyfriend, he wasn't going to sit idly by and watch him repeat those words every time as if he was trying to convince himself.
Under the surprised gazes of Crowley, Ace, Grim, Deuce and a few other people, he moved closer to Riddle until he was only a few steps away from him. Yuu was barely five centimetres taller than him, but the heels of Riddle's long boots made up for that slight difference, so the eye contact was direct.
"That's not true! What you do is wrong!" Yuu exclaimed. "You can't keep using rules as an excuse to get whatever you want! Don't you think how others must feel?"
Since the Unbirthday Party incident, it was the first time Yuu spoke directly to him. But far from being taken aback, Riddle slammed his scepter against the ground in response.
"I am the one who decides what is wrong!! And no one would follow lenient rules!" He exclaimed sternly before looking at him with a cynical, mocking smile. "What kind of rules and education did you have so that you can't understand something as simple as that?"
Yuu frowned and shook his head, confused by the question. "What?" he asked in return.
Riddle gave him a quick look from head to toe and bragged.
"You were most likely born from parents who can't use any magic. I'm sure that is why you did not get a good schooling before entering this school. You are utterly inadequate here, truly pathetic."
The young boy was horrified by the insult. It was already hard for him to be away from his mother, who worked so hard for him and his sister even after their father's death... In a completely different world he still barely knew where he was at disadvantage since the first day...
He looked away so as not to show that his words were a hard, emotional hit for him, but the action was thwarted by the clench on his fists and his jaw.
Grim gasped at the sight of him in that state. Trey couldn't help but do the same; despite the things he had seen Riddle do, he never really thought that he would say something like that to a person, magicless or not.
"I can't believe he said that!" Cater exclaimed incredulously.
Ace and Deuce were not indifferent to the scene and the painful reaction of his friend either, especially being aware of the weight of those words for him.
"You little...!" Deuce snarled furiously.
"I'M SICK OF YOU!!!!!!!!" Ace yelled angrily as he ran towards Riddle to punch him with strength in the face.
Riddle didn't even have time to react, when he wanted to realize it he felt the painful impact and the scepter slipped from his hands.
"Riddle?!" Trey and Cater yelled in astonishment.
"Rosehearts!?" Crowley exclaimed in turn.
A loud murmur arose from the crowd full of students.
"That was a clean hook to the face!" Grim exclaimed proudly.
"Ace!?" Deuce and Yuu exclaimed at the same time.
Ace continued looking at Riddle.
"Ah, I'm fed up," he mumbled. "I don't care about your position as leader or this duel anymore."
Riddle reached his hand to the hit part and looked at Ace as if he didn't believe what had just happened.
"It hurts... Huh? Did you just hit me?"
But Ace didn't hear him and pointed at Yuu and Deuce for a second.
"Children are not their parents' trophies and parents are not valued by what their children do," he told Riddle angrily.
"Ace..." Yuu muttered admiringly.
To think that the first person who cruelly mocked him on his first day would happen to be the first to defend him from the same thing...
"I finally understand that you being a disgusting person is not your parents' fault at all!" Ace continued as he placed his arms around his waist. "You have been at this school for a year and you still have not made any friends who tell you that what you do is not right!" Trey looked away. "That's just your fault!"
"What are you saying?" Riddle said as he felt the impact of Ace's words assimilate to the punch's.
"I understand that you were raised by an obsessive, crazy mother, but you keep saying 'Mom this! Mom that!' Can't you think for yourself?! To hell with the 'Crimson Ruler'! You're just a baby with a talent for magic!"
There sounded a general, loud gasp.
"Did you just called me a baby...? Me?!" Riddle tried to hold back his fury when he saw someone reprimand him for his personal life, but it was futile. "You don't know anything... You don't know anything about me!" He mumbled under his breath.
"You're right, I don't know. I don't know anything at all," Ace replied wearily. "Do you really think I would know something about you with that attitude? Don't be stupid!"
That was the last straw for Riddle.
"Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! BE QUIET!!" He yelled with all his might as he kicked the ground. "Mother is right! That is why I am also always right!!"
Trey took a step forward when he saw that Riddle was about to grab the scepter from him again. "Riddle, calm down," he said insistently. "The duel is over!"
"Young Clover is right," Crowley said with no less seriousness. "Any attack made outside of the duel will nullify your victory! If you keep fighting like this, you will be breaking the rules!"
To everyone's surprise, one of the students in the audience stepped forward.
"Those first-year boys are right!" He yelled angrily. "I can't take this anymore!"
Then he threw something at Riddle's face that drenched him in a transparent yellow goo. The leader closed his eyes with the new impact.
"Eh!?" Trey exclaimed. "What's that? An egg? Did anyone throw it?"
Riddle cleaned himself the best he could.
"Who was it!? Who threw this egg at me!?" He demanded to know.
Inspired by Ace's fearless and fearless speech, the students had finally decided to put their fears aside and revolutionize against the tyrant leader. The culprit did not want to confess nor did the dormmates located near him have the intention of betraying him, so they all fell silent and did not respond to Riddle's question.
Understanding the situation, Riddle laughed maniacally to quickly re-express his anger.
"You can't take it anymore? I'm the one who should be fed up! No matter how many times I cut your heads off or how strict I am with you, you keep breaking the rules! You are all absolutely, selfish idiots! Well then, if no one is going to confess, everyone will bear the consequences!" He returned to pick up his scepter. "I'll behead all of you! OFF WITH YOUR HEAD !!"
With his magic he put a collar to all the students located in the area from which the egg was thrown. Watching them squirm in discomfort and trying to free themselves, Riddle laughed arrogantly.
"How about this? Now no one can raise a hand against me! I knew it, I'm always right because I always follow the rules."
Crowley lost his patience even more.
"Stop it, Rosehearts!" He demanded. "Breaking the rules like this is very unlikely to you!"
"Trey, this is bad!" Cater exclaimed. "If he keeps using his magic like this, he..."
Trey came up behind Riddle to grab him by the shoulders.
"Riddle, that's enough!" He snapped.
"Hey, you! Not everything will go the way you want, you know!?" Ace exclaimed at his new action. "This tantrum you're throwing gives me more reason for calling you a baby!"
Riddle shoved Trey away, his face turned completely red with anger and his eyes shot with blood.
"RETIRE WHAT YOU SAID RIGHT NOW!!!!" He yelled. "Do you want me to tear you apart!?"
"No way, I refuse."
Riddle squealed in fury and began to gather a lot of magic with his scepter.
"This doesn't look good! Guys, get out of there!" Cater yelled.
But in a few seconds the beautiful garden environment became dark and hostile, the blue sky turned red and a thin, abundant gray mist rose.
Then Riddle made an upward motion with the scepter and many of the rose bushes were ripped out of the ground to float over his head. He was staring at Ace with a dangerous look.
"That's a lot of magic! Is he going to hurt Ace!?" Exclaimed Deuce.
"Rose bushes, listen to me! Tear his body to shreds!" Riddle commanded before pointing at Ace.
Ace realized Riddle's intention.
"This is bad! Get out of there!" Crowley yelled at him.
"Run away, Ace! Run!" Yelled Yuu.
But it was late, the rose bushes were closing in on Ace at breakneck speed and he wouldn't have time to get out of there unscathed.
However, just when the rose bushes went to pierce Ace with their numerous thorns, they suddenly dissolved into numerous trump cards before they could even reach him. Colorful lights appeared out of the fog in the shape of French deck symbols.
"Eh!? I'm still alive!? What's this!? Trump cards!?" Ace asked aloud.
"Ace, come here!" Yuu urged and grabbed his wrist to pull him away from Riddle.
"All the rose trees turned into cards!" Deuce said with intrigue and amazement. "What is this?"
Trey stepped in front of them protectively and looked at Riddle as if he'd finally lost all his patience with him. "Riddle, that's enough!" He exclaimed sternly.
Cater recognized the kind of magic that nullified Riddle's.
"Trey, is this your Doodle Suit!?" He asked. "What's going on!?"
"Look! The collar that sealed my magic is gone!" Grim exclaimed after realizing he didn't feel it on his neck.
"Guys, yours too!" Yuu exclaimed upon seeing Ace and Deuce. The collars in the other students had also disappeared.
"Remember what I told you? My Doodle Suit can change anything for a short period of time. That's why I've replaced Riddle's magic with mine," Trey explained.
"What...?! Can you do something like that!? That's cheating!" Cater exclaimed, astonished.
Trey was able to save Ace at the last moment.
Seeing that he wasn't accomplishing anything, Riddle looked around him confusedly and waved his scepter again.
"Off with your head!" He yelled, but his magic only created cards. "I said off with your head!" More came out. "What...!? Why do I only get cards!?"
Trey approached him with a determined stride. "Riddle, stop!" He exclaimed. "You are just causing destruction! Look around you, at the others!"
The terrified students tried to keep a distance from Riddle and muttered among themselves.
"Did you see that? He was really going to hurt him!"
"That's going too far!"
"He's... He's a monster!"
But Riddle's pride was too hurt to realize the terrifying scene he had caused.
"What? My magic was replaced by yours, Trey? Are you telling me that your magic is stronger than mine...?" He asked desperately.
"That is not true!" Trey insisted fearfully. "Riddle, calm down and listen to us, please!"
But Riddle refused to listen, he transformed his scepter into the magical pen and threw it to the ground in anger.
"Are you also telling me I'm wrong!?" He yelled. "Even though I did my best to protect those strict rules!?" He closed his eyes with sadness and despair. "Even though I endured many... so many things!" He returned to express his anger. "No, I don't believe it! I will never believe it!!!!!"
Crowley looked at Riddle's magical pen and saw the red gem stained with black drops.
"Stop, Rosehearts!" He insisted. "If you continue like this, your magical gem will end up accumulating blot!"
But Riddle no longer wanted to listen to anyone, he put his hands to his head as if he had lost his sanity and his eyes reflected an anger out of a nightmare.
"I am...! I AM THE ONLY ONE...! I AM THE ONLY ONE WHO IS ALWAYS RIGHT!!!!"
The dark fog around him thickened and began to engulf him in a horrible whirlwind that warned Trey that he should get away.
"RIDDLEEEE!!" Trey yelled, fearing the worst.
In addition to a burning in his left shoulder, Yuu felt a buzzing sensation over his thoughts as he heard the sound of a thick rain of ink.
Even with his eyes closed, he could visualize the image of Riddle's magical pen and his gem, red like the roses in the garden, turn pitch black like coal...
Chapter 13: Riddle Rosehearts
When he opened his eyes, Yuu found a very different and tenebrous image of Riddle that made him flinch: the young boy was now levitating from the ground and was wearing a ragged, red and black dress similar to the Queen of Hearts', with a much darker and more sinister style. The small golden crown on his head became one made of black metallic filigrees. His arms were covered in ink as if they were wet gloves, his skin had turned white as marble and his big, gray eyes turned the same red color as his hair, from which the right eye emanated a luminous red flame and was adorned with a black net protruding from his forehead. His entire being emanated a very dark and dangerous aura.
His heart clenched in horror and held his breath.
"What happened to him!?" He finally asked. "His whole appearance changed!?"
Riddle gave a wicked laugh in which his voice sounded double, as if a dark echo resounded in every syllable he spoke.
"I don't need idiots who disobey me in my world!" He exclaimed angrily in that voice. "I am the absolute law of this world! I will not accept any answer other than 'Yes, lord Riddle!'. It will be off with the head of anyone who refuses to listen! HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!!"
As he laughed evilly, a strange figure formed behind him. It was a huge monstrosity shaped very alike to the Queen of Hearts, except that its dress was ragged and patched with poorly sewn threads over the top and it was brandishing a giant rose bush as a weapon. What catched Yuu's eye was the monster's head: a huge glass vial covered with a large golden crown and filled with ink that was oozing from a huge crack. With that, he immediately remembered the monster from the Dwarfs' Mine.
When it finished materializing, Riddle leaned forward in a position that made him look as if the monster's free arm was controlling him as a puppet.
"Ah, how could I let this happen?" Lamented Crowley. "A student has gone into Overblot right in front of me!"
"What's the hell is Overblot?" Grim asked, scared. "Look at him, that guy has gone completely evil!"
"Overblot is a state wizards must avoid at all costs," Crowley explained, trying to remain calm. "Right now, he has been engulfed by so much negative energy that he has lost control over his emotions and his magic."
"I don't get it!" Grim exclaimed.
"Me neither!" Deuce exclaimed, staring at the monster behind Riddle.
"Oh, come on!" Cater exclaimed in frustration. "In a few words: he has fallen into an evil berserker mode!"
"If this continues, Riddle's life will be in danger!" Trey added.
"HIS LIFE?!" Grim exclaimed.
He was grabbed suddelnly in Yuu's arms as he didn't waste any time to walk over to Ace and Deuce.
"Guys, look at the thing behind Riddle!" The black-haired boy pointed. "That is exactly to the monster that we found in the cave, do you think it would be possible to defeat it like last time?" He asked with determination.
Without saying a word, the four of them exchanged glances and nodded.
"Right now, the highest priority is the safety of the other students. I must help evacuate everyone!" Crowley insisted. "Young Rosehearts must come to his senses before his magic consumes him! For him to lose his life in a situation like this... but even worse than that would be..." He did not notice that two boys were pulling out their magical pens and a monster leaped from the arms of a third. "In any case, you gather the staff and the rest of the dorm leaders to fight this situation." He commanded Trey and Cater, not noticing that the others weren't there with them.
"TAKE THIS!!" Ace shouted.
The headmaster, Trey, and Cater reacted to the shout and observed the change in the situation with surprise.
"COME HERE, CAULDRON!!" Deuce yelled, raising his magical pen above his head to summon a huge cauldron that took Riddle by surprise.
Grim created a sea of flames around the monster's body to try to immobilize it.
"To the head, guys!" Yuu exclaimed. "It's the same weak point as before!"
"You insolents," Riddle muttered, offended. "What do you think you're doing?"
"G-, G-, G-... Guys, wait!" Cater stammered, feeling fear for them. "What are you doing?!"
"Saving his life!" Yuu replied.
"That guy will be in danger if he continues like this!" Grim added with determination.
"I don't want him to end up like this," Deuce said. "Also..."
"I still haven't heard him say 'What I did was wrong, I'm sorry!'" Ace added.
Seeing them full of confidence and courage to save Riddle, Trey stepped foward.
"Guys..." He murmured with a look full of decision and approached them. "I understand! I can replace Riddle's magic for mine for a short time! Aim to him when that happens! Headmaster, please evacuate the others."
"Wait a minute, guys!" Crowley told them sternly. "This is too dangerous!"
"The principal is right!" Cater insisted. "Trey, what are you doing? There's no way you can defeat Riddle!"
"We've dealt with this before!" Yuu answered. "We can do it again, I'm more than sure of it!"
"It's true, we've won before!" Ace blurted out. "It would be pathetic to keep losing against someone you know you can defeat!"
"That's nothing cool, yanno?" Grim insisted.
"This is the only way I can think of to bring him to his senses," Deuce replied, as he grasped the wrist he held the magical pen with.
"It's true, and I still can't lose him," Trey said. "I still have many things to tell him...!"
"We can't waste any more time! Let's combine our forces to stop Riddle!" Yuu encouraged.
Seeing that even the only magic-less boy in that place was bravely facing danger, Cater couldn't hold back a cry of frustration:
"Ah, damn it! Okay, I see there is no other choice," he said as he took out his magical pen and hurried to stand next to them.
Crowley also sighed in frustration at the stubbornness of his students. Despite his deep concern about leaving them alone in a dangerous situation, he knew they weren't going to change their minds easily. They were students of Night Raven College, after all.
"Oh, good grief! I'll be back as soon as I've got the others to safety, so stay safe until then, please!"
"Count with us, headmaster! We know what we're doing," Yuu assured before he walked away.
Fed up with the conversation, Riddle came a few inches closer to them levitating in the air and the monster put out the flames hitting them with his giant rose bush, displaying a great strength. "You all have the guts to fight me... It will be off with your heads!" Riddle yelled before raising an arm to cast a spell.
"Riddle's body won't hold much longer," Trey reminded them. "If we don't stop him... " Hhe didn't have the courage to finish the sentence, but he did have the speed to point his magical pen at Riddle. "Doodle Suit!"
A white flash lit up the place and both Riddle and the monster shook their arms in frustration.
"Again...!" He growled. "You're getting in my way again, Trey!"
"Cool! Now Riddle won't be able to seal our magic with his collars," Grim pointed out.
"But the effect won't last long, we still have that problem!" Cater recalled.
"And the monster can still hit us with that giant rose bush," Yuu warned.
"Exactly," Trey stated. "Attack him while his magic is weak."
Riddle's face reddened and he screamed in fury before waving his arms to command the giant figure to attack with a heavy blow infused with fire magic.
Everyone was able to get away from it in time.
"Any ideas, prefect?" Deuce asked urgently before launching a fire attack.
"Do you remember the strategy we used with the first monster that you tried to repeat in the duel?" Yuu asked. "Let's try to do it this time when we find the chance!"
"Right, Deuce's cauldron will hit the head in the spot!" Grim exclaimed.
"Meanwhile use water attacks to repel their fire attacks. Trey, Cater!" Yuu called them. "Do you know any kind of magic that can give good smashes?"
"Would ice magic work?" Trey asked.
"Yes, especially with the fire attacks!" Yuu answered. "Launch all the attacks you can, especially to the head, that's the weak point. We have to break the glass."
"How... do you know that?" Cater asked him.
"There's no time to explain! Watch out!" He yelled before pointing at Riddle about to strike at them.
"What are you plotting?" Riddle demanded to know. "Nothing can happen here without me knowing!"
Trey felt the strength of his Unique Magic fade away.
"The effect will wear off shortly!" He warned as he launched an ice attack in the form of sharp icicles that reached the head.
Riddle flinched as if he had felt the blow.
"Cater, your Unique Magic!" Yuu reminded him. "If he tries to attack you, use it to confuse him."
"Okay!" Cater exclaimed.
"As if I'm going to fall for such a simple trick!" Riddle exclaimed. "Off With Your Head!"
He waved his arms in Cater's direction, but he acted quickly. "Split Card!"
A group of clones surrounded him and blended with each other, so that the aimed clone disappeared instantly. The other Caters scattered to confuse him.
"Where are you, Cater!?" He asked furiously without realizing that the real Cater had positioned himself behind him to attack with plant magic, hitting the monster's back.
"Guys, this is the chance!" Yuu exclaimed. "Make the fire tornado. Careful, Cater. Get away from there!"
"Got it, let's go Grim!" Ace hurried. "Extra Large Tempest!"
The moment he released a strong stream of air with his magical pen, Grim combined it with a thick puff of fire to form their famous strategy.
Trey and Cater, who had made his clones disappear to maintain strength, watched the scene in amazement.
Riddle didn't expect the attack either. "What is this!?"
"It's my turn! Come here, cauldron!" Deuce invoked.
A huge cauldron fell on the monster's head. Riddle screeched in horror, but that didn't stop Deuce from throwing two more cauldrons at him.
They watched victoriously as more cracks appeared in the glass and the larger one had gotten longer and more ink dripped from it.
"It worked!" Cater exclaimed.
"Good job, keep it going!" Trey encouraged. "Doodle Suit!"
A flash of white lit up again.
"It doesn't matter how many times you block my magic, Trey! I'm going to cut off all of your heads! Off with your head!!" Riddle yelled.
"Stop saying that before you say by mistake you want YOUR own head off!" Yuu snapped, tired of hearing him say the same thing.
He was able to pull away in time before Riddle hit him twice in a row with blows filled with water magic followed by a lunge.
"How dare you talk to me like that, magicless person?! You've been also giving orders in my place. I won't forgive it!"
"Don't provoke him too much!" Grim scolded Yuu.
"Take this!" Deuce yelled before launching a plant attack at the crystal head, taking advantage of Riddle's new distraction.
Cater again used his Unique Magic to create four clones that aimed plant and fire magic. Riddle swiftly moved his arms again to attack them with more blows.
"Does this guy's magic have no limits?" Ace asked in frustration.
"Riddle, listen to us!" Yuu asked him. "You have to go back to your senses before you get worse!"
"I have a lot to tell you, Riddle!" Trey continued. "Come back to us, please!"
But he refused to listen to them. "I'm the only one who is always right!!" He yelled angrily. "If not, everything I've worked so hard for would be in vain!!"
"Riddle..." Trey muttered affectedly, not realizing that he was losing his grip on Doodle Suit.
"Trey, focus!" Cater reminded him stubbornly as he launched an ice attack. "If you let your guard down, it will be our end!"
Trey regained his composure and straightened up.
"Sorry!" He exclaimed before mimicking Cater's magic.
Grim tried using something else and released from his magic pendant a large ball of darkness that reached the monster's neck.
"Look, Yuu! I casted a different kind of magic." He exclaimed excitedly.
"Good job!" His human congratulated him. "Keep it up. Just a little more!" He encouraged as he saw that the monster seemed weaker and the ink was oozing from more cracks. "Deuce, your cauldrons!"
"Right away. Come here, cauldron!"
With that loud blow, Riddle's weary expression became much more noticeable. But he didn't seem eager to give up. "No way...!" He exclaimed between gasps. "Nobody is stronger than me! I am the law. I am the absolute monarch!! I'm going to behead each and every one of you!"
He was about to hit Cater square with a triple attack, but Deuce managed to yank his arm just in time to push him out of harm's way.
"Are you okay, Diamond?" He asked him.
"Yes, thank you very much, Deucey! Split Card!"
"Hey! How about we attack it all at once to finish it off?" Grim suggested as the monster tried to randomly attack Ace and the new Cater clones.
"Right now it's very risky," Trey said. "The Doodle Suit effect is going to fade again, I would need some time to recreate it."
"Hey, that's not a bad idea!" Ace said. "The glass has less left to break!"
"It's true, it would be the last hit!" Deuce said.
Cater didn't seem so convinced.
"Are you sure of this? This is not the time to take risks!"
"Cater is right!" Yuu supported him. "Let's wait for Trey to reactivate his Unique Magic to deliver the final blow. Don't forget it: watch out for his collar!"
At that very moment, Riddle felt his magic flow through his body again. His face turned red with anger for the umpteenth time.
"I see you're not going to stop, Trey. Then I'll cut off your head first! Off With Your-!"
"Hey, red pipsqueak!" Ace stopped him. "I just wanted to tell you that you are the worst leader ever!"
Riddle turned dangerously toward him. "Repeat that..." He challenged him with a restrained fury.
"Ace, what are you doing!?" Cater and Deuce asked at the same time.
Ace gave them a quick thumb to assure everything was right, looked back at Riddle and placed his hands on his hips.
"I said you are the worst leader ever! Cocky, stupid, tyrannical, childish, whiny and loud!!!"
"OOOOFFF WITH YOUR HEEEEEAAAAAD!!!!"
In addition to using his Unique Magic on him, he planned to control the monster at the same time to try to finish him off, but...
With the new flash of white, Riddle suddenly stopped as he saw his limited strength once more.
"Was I being distracted?" He asked incredulously.
"Now!" Yuu screamed.
The four young wizards and Grim joined forces in a combined attack that gave Riddle little time to react.
The strong magic reached the head and eventually the crystal shattered into several pieces, making the ink spread across the floor.
As the monster vanished, Riddle's form lost strength and negative energy started to go away from him. "I... I was wrong?" He seemed to admit to his defeat. "No. That can't be true, right? Mother..."
He began to descend to the ground and his appearance gradually returned to its original state. His red and black dress turned back to his white dorm uniform.
Yuu rushed towards him and held him below his shoulders before he fell to the ground.
"Hey, can you hear me?" He asked, noticing that he kept his eyes closed and did not react. "He's unconscious!" He told the others.
He tried to bring him to a clearer area. Trey approached hurriedly to them.
"Here. Let me help you," he insisted as he carefully held Riddle's right side. Riddle's small golden crown lost its grip and fell to the ground.
Together they gently laid him down on the green grass and knelt next to him.
"Riddle, open your eyes!" Trey asked him.
Grim came running on all fours from him.
"Is he going to be okay?" He asked.
Ace, Cater and Deuce also approached, but kept a safe distance to give some space to Riddle. Yuu did the same by moving away a little bit.
"He has to be okay!" Trey insisted. "He's just tired."
Then Yuu started to feel slightly dizzy and everything turned dark...
As he opened his eyes again, he found himself in a completely different place: a large room that appeared to be an ostentatious house. It was lit by large windows and there was a large elegant table with many chairs. At first he thought it was a dining room, but took a better look at two large shelves full of books and noticed that the cupboard across the room was actually full of more, so he supposed the place was a study or a library.
"Am I dreaming again?" He wondered.He checked his clothes to see if they were different, like when he wore the blue dress, but he was still wearing the school uniform.
He heard movement coming from one of the chairs and approached cautiously.
"Riddle?" He asked surprised as he quickly recognized the child sitting there.
The person was undoubtedly Riddle, who despite his younger appearance, had the same big gray eyes and red hair with two strands that formed a heart. He was dressed in an elegant shirt tied with a ribbon at the neck and a pair of shorts fastened with suspenders. He seemed nervous about something and kept his gaze fixed on a plate and some silverware in front of him.
"Hello?" Yuu tried to call him, but the boy did not even seem to have noticed his presence.
He was thinking about how cute he was as a child when someone else entered the room and Riddle stopped slouching. She was an elegant and well dressed woman, her hair in a bun was the same color as Riddle's and she shared similar heart-shaped locks of hair with him. Yuu deduced that she had to be his mother, which she did not seem to notice him either.
He felt a bad feeling with her and remembered that Trey told them she was very strict.
"Happy eighth birthday, Riddle." She said cheerfully before placing a simple-looking cake in front of him.
"So these are memories?" Yuu asked aloud upon realizing the situation.
His mother continued speaking."This year, your birthday cake is one without sugar and lots of lecithin and made with soy flour and walnuts."
"What?" Yuu asked without hiding his bewilderment at what he had just heard. "What kind of cake is that for a child's birthday!?"
He would understand if a person was diabetic or celiac, but it didn't seem to be Riddle's case, since Trey had said that sh really liked the tarts he made.
The boy looked at his mother with a shy smile."Thank you, mama. B-but, you know, I... Even if it's just once, I'd like a tart with lots of strawberries..."
The mother reacted as if she had heard something scandalous.
"Oh, how can you say that! Desserts filled with sugar like that are practically poison for the body, a single piece would exceed your daily calorie quota. Come on, today we have for dinner salted tuna with docosahexaenoic acid and icosapentaenoic acid. It's much healthier." Yuu felt his head explode processing those complicated words he had never heard before. "Ah, but the recommended calorie intake for an eight-year-old child is..." She mentally calculated the amount. "Less than 600 calories per meal, so don't eat more than 100 grams. Do you understand?"
That shocked Yuu, he understood that someone cared about their child's health, but what the mother was doing with so many meticulous details were too much. Not only did she not allow him to eat something sweet even for his birthday, but she even limited him the simple cake that she gave him herself.
"Give him a break, ma'am! He's only eight years old." He snapped being aware he wasn't going to be heard.
However, he was heartbroken to see Riddle's disillusioned little face. "Yes, mother..." The kid replied softly.
Suddenly the images disappeared and Yuu saw Riddle, now in his current age and dressed in his dorm leader uniform. He was standing up a few meters away from him and his figure was colored in black and white.
"Riddle!?" Yuu exclaimed. "What's going on? Are you okay?"
But Riddle didn't seem to hear him, he was staring into infinity.
"For a long time, what I wanted most was a strawberry tart. Like those that were displayed on the shop windows in the city." He said without moving his lips, so it was to be assumed that what was heard were his thoughts. "Tarts that looked like jewels."
Riddle disappeared and the previous scenario reappeared, this time little Riddle and his mother were sitting at the table with papers and an excessive amount of books piled up.
"Wait a moment!" Yuu exclaimed. "This is way too personal! It's okay for me to see this?" He asked as he looked around, waiting for someone or something to say anything.
Nothing changed. Riddle's mother closed the book she was reading and stood up.
"Let's end your classical magic lessons for today," she announced. "You have until tomorrow to read 50 pages of language philosophy and review what you learned today. Now I'll give you an hour to study for your next potions lesson."
"Yes, mother," Riddle replied.
Yuu swallowed hard at the insane amount of work required of a child his age.
"Mom has to take care of something now, so I'll see you in an hour."
The black-haired boy gave her a bad look as he saw her get out. The place disappeared and he saw Riddle again.
"Every moment was always full of lessons with every possible discipline," his voice sounded again. "Study time extended until I was able to do it."
"You were living a similar situation, didn't you, Takahiro?" Yuu said to himself.
"But to me," Riddle continued, "that was 'normal'."
Yeah, if someone was used to working way too hard, it would be something simple and common for them...
The study room returned, Riddle was studying by himself there. A knock sounded on the glass of one of the windows, making him look up from his book.
"Who's knocking on the window?" He asked in surprise before getting off his chair.
The knocking continued until Riddle opened the window, Yuu rushed over to look and involuntarily smiled as he recognized the two children outside, who seemed to be nine years old.
"Trey?" He asked when she saw the dark green-haired boy. He wasn't wearing his glasses, but his yellow eyes still showed the same gentle glow.
"Oh, he came!" Trey said enthusiastically.
The other boy, with tousled lilac hair and big cat ears jumped up happily. "Hey, hey! Come and play~ with~ us~!" He exclaimed in a singsong voice.
"Who are you?" Riddle asked them.
"I'm Che'nya!" The cat-boy introduced himself. "And this is Trey. Let's play together, meow."
Riddle got nervous. "Eh... I can't. I'm doing self-study right now..."
But that didn't change the other kids' minds.
"Self-study means that you decide what you want to study," Che'nya replied. "My grandpa says that playing is also a way of studying, meow."
"Can't you stop and play just for a bit?" Trey asked affectionately.
The little redhead glanced back to make sure his mother wasn't near. "...J-just for a bit," he stammered.
"What's your name?" Trey asked him as he offered a hand to help him get out through the window.
Riddle took his hand shyly. "Riddle. Riddle Rosehearts."
After watching the previous two scenes, Yuu was glad he finally saw an adorable scene. He watched Che'nya clap excitedly as Riddle put his feet on the grass outside.
"That's why you helped us before," he commented as the images disappeared. "You are also his friend."
Teen Riddle appeared again, with the difference that he was smiling. It was the first time Yuu had seen him smile.
"Playing with Trey and Che'nya was very fun. I learned many things I did not know and played games I had never seen before. They both taught me a lot. From that day on, during my self-study time, I left the house without my mother knowing."
The scenario changed to the street of a city, the three children were walking together.
"Eh!? You've never eaten a strawberry tart, Riddle?" Asked Che'nya in surprise.
Riddle shook his head.
"No. Mother says it's practically poison for the body, so I can't."
"Well, of course it's bad if you eat too much..." Trey commented. "But you know? I live in a bakery. Let's go there to eat some," he suggested.
Riddle didn't seem too sure about it. "Eh? But..."
"Just one slice will be fine," Trey soothed him.
"I could eat a whole tart right now, meow," Che'nya said dreamily.
"They were so cute..." Yuu muttered tenderly.
With that, Riddle described what was like to eat for the first time what would become his favorite food: "A red cake on a white plate, for me it glowed more than any other gem. The first bite was the sweetest thing I had ever tasted" He laughed merrily at the thought of the memory. "I savored every slice until I was completely lost." Then he became serious again. "That day I lost track of time."
He went back to the study of Riddle's house and Yuu let out a worried gasp: Riddle's mother was looking at her son angrily and the little one kept his gaze to the ground with tear-filled eyes, as if she discovered everything.
"How could you!?" Mrs. Rosehearts asked angrily. "Not only did you skip your study time, but you also ate something with sugar?! Were those children the ones who tempted you to do it? I won't allow you to play with them anymore."
Riddle was horrified to hear that and looked at her.
"I'm sorry, mother! I promise I won't do it again, forgive me!" He implored her.
"Silence!" She demanded without any intention of showing mercy. "You're the one at fault here for breaking the rules!"
Yuu's eyes widened as he recognized the same words Riddle had said at the party and at the duel.
The mother turned her back on him and walked briskly away, leaving the heartbroken Riddle alone. Even though it was only a shadow from the past, Yuu stepped out of her way to avoid being touched by her.
"Ah, I knew I shouldn't have left him time for himself," she murmured to herself. "I have to educate him and train him more to be someone perfect."
Trey had said that she was very strict, but Yuu didn't imagine that the environment Riddle had grown up in was that toxic. He was aware that parents should set rules to regulate their children's behavior, but those ways were tyrannical and controlling, without even considering how her own son must feel.
"You're just like her..." He murmured in revulsion.
But he stopped bothering to feel unnecessary hatred for that woman and focused again on Riddle, whose childlike figure became once again the current one.
"If I broke the rules, the moments I could have fun would be taken away from me," said Riddle's voice. "That's why I had to obey all of my mother's rules. In my city, mother was well known and respected, that's why she was always right." His gaze darkened. "But then, mother... why? Why do I feel this weight on my heart?" He squeezed his eyes shut in frustration and his voice cracked as he spoke. "I want to eat a lot of tarts even if it's just for my birthday. I want to play outside and make more friends. Tell me, mama: what rule should I follow to make this pain go away?"
Yuu wiped away the tears that appeared in his eyes after hearing that desperate monologue.
"Riddle..." He murmured as he watched him in that state.
He still hadn't forgotten about the battle against his Overblot or the things he had done before, but all he wanted to do right at that moment was stop staring at him and doing nothing.
He approached Riddle at a slow pace. As the distance between them decreased, Riddle's black and white figure got gradually his colors back.
When he finished coloring completely, Riddle frowned at the presence of another person and gasped in surprise upon seeing Yuu.
He also got startled and stopped short. "Oh, so you can see me now..." He commented puzzled.
"But how...?" The young redhead looked around as if he had just noticed the gray space. "What place is this? What are we doing here?"
Yuu shrugged and shook his head. "I'm just as surprised as you are," he replied. "I don't know how I got here either, but apparently we've been here for quite a while."
As if Riddle had remembered something, he looked at his hands in alarm.
"I went into Overblot, right? What happened!? Did I hurt someone?"
Yuu shook his head again.
"No. Ace, the others and I gave the best we could to save you. Then you fell unconscious and all those images of your life appeared, do you remember? I could also hear your voice all this time."
Before Riddle could say anything else, he finished approaching him and gently grasped him by the shoulders to wrap him in a warm, compassionate hug, surprising him on the spot.
"Why are you doing this?" He asked. "After everything I've done..."
The young boy only increased the grip on his embrace. "Don't think about it now. Nobody deserves to live anything you've been through... Let me at least do this for you."
With trembling arms, Riddle returned the hug self-consciously.
"It's ok, you're fine now." Yuu assured him.
After a few seconds of comfort and wordless understanding, they parted from the hug when they noticed the gray environment that surrounded them was gradually turning black.
"Riddle!!" Trey's desperate voice echoed from afar.
Riddle looked around with concern, but Yuu smiled calmly as he recognized the situation.
"Looks like someone is waiting for you," he told him as he held him by the hand to give him some courage. "Don't worry, I think we're going to wake up."
They both watched the darkness gently lift over them as if it were going to transport them to another place.
Neither of them realized that a feminine-shaped shadow, dressed in what seemed to be some robes, was watching them in silence until she disappeared as she blended with the darkness that enveloped her...
Chapter 14: Asking For Apologies
"Helloooooooooo? Can you hear me?" Grim's high-pitched voice asked.
Yuu felt like waking up from a trance when he found himself in the rose maze again. He was standing next to Ace and Deuce. Grim was at his feet, tugging his pants with one of his paws.
He blinked a few times and looked at them in surprise.
"You're finally back to your senses," Ace said.
"Good thing, I thought you were traumatized by the battle," Deuce sighed, relieved.
"What? Did I got distracted?" Yuu asked.
"You were still like a statue, and when I commented that you had not fallen to your knees after experiencing something terrifying, you stood up and walked as if someone controlled you. Your eyes were wide open and you barely blinked. It was so creepy!" Grim explained. "We talked to you, but you didn't answer. What the hell happened to you?"
"I... I don't know," he stammered in response.
He wasn't exactly lying, he still remembered that strange encounter with Riddle and his memories, but he still couldn't find an explanation for that.
The atmosphere had returned to the blue and sunny day of that afternoon, with the difference that the garden had suffered destruction and havoc as a result of the battle. Trey was still kneeling next to Riddle's unconscious body, next to him stood Cater and the Headmaster, who had returned, holding their breath.
They noticed Riddle squeezing both of his eyes, as if he were going to finally wake up. Trey gasped in surprise and gently shook his shoulder.
"Riddle!!!" He called again.
Riddle's eyes snapped open on a loud exhale.
"Oh, he opened his eyes!" Ace said with a discontent face, indicating that he was not going to put aside what had happened minutes ago.
Cater sighed in relief.
"Ah, thank goodness! We didn't know if you were going to wake up or not!"
Between gasps, Riddle straightened and looked around him before narrowing his eyes in reaction to the mess in the garden. "I... What have I done?" He asked.
"What a relief," Crowley smiled. "At last he came back to his senses."
Trey put his arm around Riddle's back to help him lean on. "Don't think about anything now, just rest," he replied.
Ace was the only one who didn't seem happy with the situation and crossed his arms.
"Ah, come on! Of course he's going to throw a tantrum like that when he's scolded if all you do is spoil him like this all the time." He gestured around him and Trey looked away. "The garden is a mess and we're in trouble!"
"It really was crazy," Deuce commented.
"Good grief, it's really not a good thing to swallow and bottle up stress," Grim sighed disdainfully.
Still standing on the ground, Riddle watched Ace with a look that reflected his weariness and despondency. "I..." he murmured after looking at him for several seconds in silence. "I really wanted to eat those Mont Blanc tarts..."
"What?" Ace asked, surprised by the confession.
"Roses are fine being white... And so do flamingos by being pink," Riddle continued. "I prefer adding honey to my tea rather than sugar cubes, and I like milk tea more than lemon tea." He closed his eyes in frustration. "I also want to talk with others while we eat..."
With that, Yuu finally understood why Riddle seemed frustrated the moment he had the tarts thrown out for being 'against the rules' and why he constantly repeated his insistence on following them.
"Riddle?" Trey called him, as amazed as the others.
Tears inevitably welled up in Riddle's eyes as he laid his head on Trey's shoulder. "I wanted to play with you much longer, Trey..." He moaned in a broken voice before sobbing and finally falling into a loud cry that relieved all the sadness and stress hidden for a long time...
Trey quickly pulled him against his body in a hug that Riddle didn't hesitate to respond to. They all stared at him in amazement to see him burst into tears.
"I can't believe it... Riddle is crying..." Cater whispered, dumbfounded at the unexpected scene.
"Hey, stop it!" Ace claimed, returning to his previous annoyed countenance. "We're not going to forgive you just because you start crying!"
Deuce sighed at Ace's callousness. "You can't read the environment, huh?" He asked.
"I'm sorry too... I knew you were suffering, but I pretended not to notice," Trey muttered regretfully when Riddle's cries subsided a bit.
Riddle pulled away from Trey to catch his breath between whimpers.
"So I'm going to say this now, Riddle," Trey added. "Your way of leading and doing things was wrong, you have to apologize to everyone in the right way."
Without opening his eyes, Riddle sniffed and wiped away his tears.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" He exclaimed.
From his place, Yuu gave him another compassionate look. "I forgive you..."
For a moment, Ace seemed to put his anger aside and looked at Riddle calmly.
"You know? It's true that I really wanted to hear you apologize..." He said before frowning again furiously. "But now AS IF A SIMPLE APOLOGY WILL SOLVE ALL OF THIS!" He yelled at the top of his lungs. "DEFINITELY, I WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOUUUUUUUUUU!!!"
Everybody there looked at him in horror at his lack of sensitivity.
"Eeeeeeh?!" Cater asked, stunned. "Are you really saying that at a time like this?!"
"Of course I do!" Ace replied angrily. "We've been in danger because of him, remember? And he also threw away all the Mont Blanc tarts that we all worked hard to make. I'm not going to forgive him with just a simple, tearful apology."
"This guy has a grudge for food stronger than me..." Grim commented, narrowing his eyes in disdain.
Riddle looked at him in distress. "It can't be..." He muttered. "Then what should I do...?"
Ace thought about it for a moment.
"You know? It won't be my birthday for a while yet," he finally said.
"Eh? Where do you want to go with that?" Deuce asked him.
"That's why I demand we have a revenge Unbirthday Party," Ace insisted with determination. "Last time we couldn't even participate in it, and this time you have to bring a tart made by you. You can't get any help from Trey! You must do it yourself, understand?" He looked away. "If you do it, I may forgive you."
"Hey, that's not fair!" Yuu snapped. "You got a lot of help from Trey and all of us."
"You shut up!" Ace demanded before turning to Riddle again, Yuu grunted in response. "Well, do you understand?"
Riddle got up with Trey's help and looked at Ace in silence as he considered the condition he had to meet in order for his apology to be accepted.
"Got it..." He murmured.
Crowley managed a smile. "Oh, what a beautiful result," he said, relieved. "I'm glad everything ended well."
Cater looked around again. "Well, I think now we should start cleaning the garden. "The photographic garden I worked in so hard is ruined... Boo..." He complained.
"I'll help you," Trey offered, still helping Riddle stay upright without losing his balance.
"No, Trey. You should take Riddle to the infirmary," Cater insisted. "He just got into Overblot, so make sure the doctor sees him.
"Diamond is right," Crowley said. "I will accompany you."
Before they left, Yuu looked around for something and returned to the place where Riddle had lost consciousness after the monster's disappearance.
"Wait!" He exclaimed while running in Riddle's direction and handed him something golden. "Here, you dropped it. A queen shouldn't leave her crown behind, right?"
Riddle involuntarily put a hand to his head to realize that he did not have his little crown on.
"Thank you..." He said shyly as he picked it up.
"Okay, I won't stop you here anymore. Get well soon!" He said before returning with the others.
"Hm. Using that much magic made me hungry..." Grim said wearily before noticing a coal-black stone near where Riddle's crown fell out. "Eh? That's...? It's just like the black magic stone we saw on the Dwarfs' Mine!" He recalled.
Ace, Yuu, and Deuce leaned out to see. Cater, out of curiosity, did the same.
"It's true," Deuce confirmed. "Where did it come from?"
"Probably from the monster, like last time," Yuu guessed.
"Don't eat it this time," Ace warned him, remembering the scene without much encouragement.
But Grim ignored it. "This is a flavor that I can't forget! So... Thanks for the food!" He exclaimed before eating the dark stone in one bite.
"Nooooooo!" Yuu yelled, but it was too late to stop him.
"He ate it!" Ace exclaimed in disgust.
Deuce, far from shocked, shook his head in disbelief.
Cater's eyes widened and he stepped back.
"Eh, do you like to eat these kind of things, Grim?" He asked him with the same expression as Ace.
Grim simply savored the strange stone with excitement as if it were the richest dessert in the world. "Mmmm~! It has a very sweet taste, although it has a slight bitter touch. It's a different flavor than the last one I ate!"
"A-are you really going to be okay?" Yuu asked awkwardly. "I hope you don't get a stomach ache from eating weird things..."
"Well, he's a monster. I guess his stomach is different from ours." Ace sighed.
"Still, I don't think it's good for him to eat that kind of thing," Deuce commented.
Yuu nodded to show agreement.
"Hmm! It has a smooth and refreshing taste, yanno?" Grim insisted cheerfully.
"Hey, stop it!! That's not for eating!" Deuce scolded him energetically.
"Come on, come on..." Cater tried to calm them down gently and looked at them tenderly in silence for a few seconds. "Guys... thank you very much."
He had whispered very softly, but it was enough for Yuu to hear him.
"Did you say something?" Ace asked him.
Cater got startled and waved his arms in denial.
"Nope, I didn't say anything!" He insisted cheerfully.
"Hey! I'm going to see if I can find more stones like this!" Grim exclaimed before running around on all fours.
"Don't you even think about it!" Deuce roared while running after him. "Get back here, raccoon!"
"Deuce! If you're going to use magic, don't make the garden worse than it is!" Ace exclaimed, quickening his pace.
Yuu suppressed a laugh and shook his head as he saw them wreak havoc once more.
"Should we stop them?" Cater asked.
"Leave them for a while, they will get tired quickly," Yuu sighed. "By the way, Cater, thanks to you too."
Cater's cheeks reddened a bit after realizing that his sentimental side hadn't been as low-key as he intended. "Why?" He asked, surprised.
"You've helped us a lot in the battle." His smile increased at the thought of what he was going to add. "Well, your clones too," He laughed. "You could have left, but you decided to stay and team up with us to save Riddle. I also want to thank you for that."
Cater closed his eyes. "Come on, don't go on! I mean, you're welcome and all that, but if you keep going like this I'm going to get emotional..."
"Ok, ok. I got it," Yuu laughed before looking around. "So..." He arched an eyebrow. "Speaking of helping, do you think you're going to need more 'manpower', as you say? I could volunteer for cleaning up around here."
Cater's face lit up again. "Really? That would help me a lot!"
"Yuuuuu! Save me!" Grim yelled from afar. "They're attacking me with maaaaaaaagiiic..."
"Come back here!" Ace's voice sounded.
Yuu inhaled deeply to try to stay patient. "But we will end up working double if those three don't stop now, I'll be back in a moment." It was his turn to run after them. "Hey guys! Stop before you make things worse!"
Cater sighed and watched the situation with amusement.
Heartslabyul's dorm decided to organize the next Unbirthday Party for next Friday, an exact week after the duel. That way they would have time to fix the garden, organize the preparations, and Riddle could take his time to recover more calmly.
Tuesday afternoon after class, Trey and Cater were in the Heartslabyul's kitchen.
"Are you going to prepare the desserts for the party, Trey? Isn't it a bit early for that?"
"Not quite. I was checking if we have the necessary ingredients for the desserts. We still have a lot of sugar, but we are a little short on flour. Riddle will also need to buy strawberries for the tart that he has to make for the party."
"Remember you can't help him," Cater replied jokingly.
"I still remember that, Cater," Riddle said as he walked into the kitchen.
"Riddle, how are you feeling?" Trey asked him.
"The nurse has insisted on not making great physical efforts in the next few days, but now I feel much better."
"Glad to hear that," Cater said. "Have you come to make Ace's tart now? It's a bit early for that, isn't it?"
"Not exactly," Riddle replied. "I wanted to look up the recipe book, I'm going to read it first to make sure I get it right."
"Oh, you can ask for that book at the library," Trey informed him. "It is a pastry book with clear instructions, so it will not be difficult for you to prepare tarts with that. Come, I'm going to show you the title, it's one with the red cover."
"Trey ~. Remember that you cannot help him!" Cater said in a sing-song voice.
"I can't help him prepare it, but Ace didn't say anything before that. We are just talking about finding a book."
"Got it, thanks Trey," Riddle told him before turning his back on them.
"Oh, by the way," Trey said, remembering something. "You might find Yuu there."
Riddle gave a soft gasp and looked back at him. "The prefect?"
"It's true," Cater said. "Until a moment ago he was around here, helping to restore the garden. He wanted to leave a little earlier to research something in the library and to make sure Grim was still at Ramshackle without causing mischief."
Riddle looked away with some discomfort.
"How nice of him," he simply said.
"He also asked about you," Trey added. "He was glad to know that you were okay."
Riddle had not forgotten that strange experience in which the young student without magic had watched with him his memories without explanation.
"Yes, he's so kind! I find it almost unbelievable that he would forgive you without having to put a condition on you like Ace did. You said things to him that really hurt him, I don't even know how he doesn't even hold a grudge against you."
Trey's face frowned immediately. "Cater! This is not the moment!" He reproached him.
Realizing what he had said, he covered his mouth with one hand.
"Uwaa! Sorry! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
"Easy, Trey," Riddle soothed him with a look of regret. "It's true I said a lot of things to the whole dorm students and to other people. But... did I hurt him that much?" He asked with concern.
Trey and Cater exchanged a look.
"I guess there's no choice but to tell you now..." Trey sighed. "Do you remember calling him 'pathetic' and 'inadequate for Night Raven College' for being raised by magic-less parents?" He wondered for a moment whether it would be wise to say the following. "He told us that his father died when he was a child."
Riddle's eyes widened and his heart skipped a beat as he realized what he had really done.
"I remember he also told us that he and his twin sister grew up with his mother," Cater commented. "I don't even want to imagine how hard it must be to be away from your family without a form of contact, like him."
"What do you mean?" Riddle asked, still shocked.
"Yuu comes from a different world where magic doesn't exist, his family must still be there. He is unable to see them or make phone calls to them. Didn't the headmaster tell you? I thought he would have explained to the dorm leaders why someone without magic accompanied by a monster can be here."
The young redhead gulped. "The headmaster told us one of them in a meeting shortly after the beginning of the year... But I didn't quite believe what he had said," he confessed. "I thought he meant by 'another world' that he was different from all of us." He shook his head. "Then that means that I... I didn't think what I said would affect him so much, it was not my intention!"
"He doesn't seem to be like Ace, he seems to have forgiven you," Trey told him to calm him down.
He remembered the comforting sensation of that strong embrace, of the warmth of his hand as he held him, and of the kindness of returning his crown so he would not lose it. All in the most sincere way anyone could imagine.
"Still, I didn't said sorry for that... I feel like I owe him an apology."
"If you think it's still necessary, I would do it if I was you," Trey said. "Tell him what you think so you can reconcile with him properly."
"You should also thank him," Cater advised. "He gave us good indications in the battle to save you. To think that someone as adorable and super nice as him could have so many nerves of steel and a fighting spirit! That was a big plot twist for me!"
"Then I will," Riddle said decisively. "If I see him, I'll tell him."
"Just be honest," Trey advised. "Find an opportune moment to tell him."
On his way to the library, Riddle tried to think of what he should say to apologize. In addition to apologizing to a person who was in a difficult situation, he was going to deal with a sensitive topic such as the death of a family member, so it was important to follow Trey's advice to find the right moment. He also had to choose the order of themes and organize a structure in which they escalated in the smoothest way possible.
He also had to take into account the possible reactions of the prefect. On one hand he might appreciate the consideration and accept the apology; on the other hand, he ran the risk of him remembering how hurt he was by the insult and hold a grudge against him. And despite what Trey and Cater said, Yuu might demand something more than words, like Ace.
In his rambling, he hadn't realized he had reached the doors of the library. He sighed to concentrate and go in for what he had come for: to find the recipe book.
If he happened to meet Yuu there, he would come over to talk to him.
He pulled out his cell phone, put it on silent mode and checked the title Trey had written him down to find it later on the computers that featured the library's catalog.
The book was not difficult to find, he went to the hall where he could find the book and picked it up; he flipped through it to find the recipe he needed. As he approached the counter, he took a quick look around and... he saw him.
Reading a book, the prefect was sitting several meters from where he was standing. Another book lay on the table to his left, as if he were going to read it later. He didn't notice him, his blue eyes were too focused on reading to want to look away.
Riddle considered whether he should approach him, he seemed busy and didn't like the idea of interrupting him. However, he noticed that Silver was also sitting there, at the same table, his half-closed eyelids indicated he was going to fall asleep at any moment.
He decided to take advantage of the fact that someone he knew was there and sit down, it was the perfect opportunity to get closer in a subtle way, but he was thwarted by a voice that made him pale:
"Oh, no... Not now!" He murmured to himself as the tall figure of Floyd approached him.
"How glad I am to see you, Goldfish! Azul and the Sea Turtle told me what happened to you, I was so worried! Don't you ever hurt yourself like that again, got it?"
"Floyd, keep your voice down!" Riddle whispered insistently. "We are in the library!"
He gave a complained groan. "Come on, Goldfish... I haven't seen you for days and I didn't know how you were. Don't be so cold!" He looked at the book he was holding. "Hey, what did you get?" He asked before taking it from his hands.
"Eh?! Give it back!" He exclaimed as he tried to retrieve it, but Floyd held it up to unable him.
"Let's see..." Floyd murmured as he looked at it's pages. "How curious, it's not common of you to read recipe books. Are you going to bake a cake?"
Riddle looked around in shame, some of the students who were there were looking at them, some with curiosity and others with intrigue. Among them were Yuu and Silver, the first one was looking at the situation in amazement and the second one seemed to be alert, in case he should have to intervene in the situation, after all he had some awareness about the relationship they had.
"It is none of your business!" He answered, trying to get out of the situation quickly. "I'm just going to make something for my form, so please return that to me to stop bothering others."
Floyd heard him, but he wouldn't listen. "Are you going to prepare something for your dorm? If you're going to bake something, could I come by to try it too? I'm curious to see how you would bake a cake. Or better yet, cookies! Those are more crisp."
Riddle flinched when he saw that Yuu had gotten up and was approaching the counter to order the two books he was reading. His chance to approach cautiously had been completely thwarted...
"What are you looking at?" Floyd asked curiously when he realized that.
At that very moment, Riddle had an idea. "Did you say something about cookies?" He asked calmly in turn. "It doesn't sound like a bad idea, could you point me where it is in the book?"
Floyd managed a big smile. "Well of course!" He handed him the book. "Look, they're right by..."
Riddle seized the moment and snatched the book from his hands before running off. "I have to go!"
Before reaching the exit, he glanced back to make sure Floyd wasn't following him and headed out the door. He gasped after finally stopping and sighed in frustration, he had been able to take the book, but couldn't approach the prefect.
He felt like a coward for being chased away by Floyd and his antics, but he knew that even if he hadn't seen him, it would have been just as IMPOSSIBLE to be able to apologize with him around.
He remembered that Yuu seemed wanting to leave, so he thought about waiting outside for a while to talk to him.
But after thinking about it better, he preferred to leave, since the prefect had seen him in that shameful and chaotic scene, and on top of that in the library, a place where silence and calm should be maintained... He did not feel fully capable of looking him at the face after all that.
He took it as a sign to look for a better time and started to leave.
He tried to forget the hard time he had had with Floyd on his way back to the dorm to calmly read the book in his bedroom. Deep in thought, he did not watch the road, stepped on a small stone and stumbled awkwardly.
He managed to break the fall with both hands and thanked wearing gloves to avoid scratching them. The book had escaped from his hands in the stumble, but he saw it had not suffered any damage.
Before he could even get up, the sound of a person running quickly resounded right behind him. Not having turned around yet, Riddle winced at the thought that it could be Floyd, determined to chase him out of the library.
The person stopped right behind him. "Hey, are you okay?" Asked a friendly voice with a tone of concern.
Chapter 15: Past Talk
Dressed in his sports uniform, Yuu returned to Ramschackle and rushed into the kitchen for water. On the way, he saw Grim curled up on the couch.
"Hi, Yuu! You're finally back," he greeted him. "I've been so bored here by myself..."
"You could have come with me to clean Heartslabyul's garden," Yuu replied, "so you could have done more than just lie there."
"Eh!? No way! Trein's class has been very boring today and PE class has exhausted me. I'm not gonna to fix something I didn't destroy!"
The young boy chuckled. "Okay, okay," he said from the kitchen. "There isn't much left anyways, so I'm sure the garden will look even better than before the day after tomorrow."
He came out with a glass and sat down next to Grim.
"By the way, how's Riddle doing?" The monster asked.
"I haven't seen him, but the others told me he's much better now."
"Good to know, I hope he doesn't make a mess like that again..." He sighed. "Hey, there's something I wanted to ask you: how come you didn't demand him something as an apology like Ace did?"
Yuu put the glass on the table. "What do you mean?"
"Have you already forgotten? That guy said horrible things to you! You could have demanded another tart, or even tuna cans!" He crossed his forelegs decisively.
"Come on, Grim. I haven't forgotten, but Riddle is still recovering and he has enough with the tart for Ace," Yuu said. "Besides, he already apologized, I don't need him to give me anything."
"You're way too kind..."
In response, Yuu gave a wicked smile. "If you say so, maybe I shouldn't be so kind and cancel my idea of buying you tuna cans at Sam's store as a reward for the great effort you put into the battle."
Grim's ears perked up quickly. "Eh... you know what? Nobody is never too kind for anything!" He exclaimed. "There should definitely exist more people like you, yanno? I'm sure the world would be so much better that way!"
Yuu shook his head in amusement. "Look how quickly you've changed your mind," he laughed. "I'll stop by after going to the library, I'd like to try finding there a way to return home."
"Are you also going to look for something about your tattoo or whatever it's that you have on your shoulder?" Grim asked.
"I was thinking about that too. If I find something, I would like to talk about it with the headmaster, to see if he knows something more. Would you like to come with me?"
Grim lay back on the couch. "Another day, I'm sleepy today," he said before closing his eyes.
Yuu sighed before heading to his room to change into his school uniform.
When he got to the library, the first thing he did was search in the digital catalog for related things about prints and symbols, hoping to get some answer to the mystery on his shoulder. He was struck by a book on ancient runes and symbols and settled on that one.
The searching time for terms like 'another worlds' was a bit longer, as the best results offered were just theories and myths.
He considered choosing one of those books to read them slowly until he noticed one in particular that recommended the 'similar searches' part: a book about stories and legends about the Great Seven and other characters who seemed important.
"You have to start with something," he thought, convinced.
With that he could learn more about the figures and legends of Twisted Wonderland, they were important to Night Raven College and it would be good for him to learn popular culture if he was going to stay there for who knows how long.
Both books were available, he memorized their locations and it was easy to find the first one in one of the History sections. It was also not difficult to find the legends book in the Literature section, but it was so high that it was difficult to catch it even if he stood on his tiptoes.
He cursed that he was only 165 centimetres tall, even if his sister was a little shorter than him.
Just when he was thinking of looking for some ladder to reach it, another hand appeared above him and easily grabbed the book he wanted, surprising him.
He turned his head and met a much taller student. He had short, turquoise blue hair, with a long, black lock over his right temple. On his right ear there was an earring made with four blue diamond-shaped scales, and his shirt was unbuttoned at the neck. What most caught his attention were his heterochromatic eyes, the right one was amber and the left, grayish olive. The colors in his magical pen's gem and arm band indicated he was from Octavinelle.
He had an imposing appearance, but that didn't stop Yuu from thinking that he had some charm...
"Did you want this one?" The tall boy asked as he handed him the book.
For a moment, Yuu blushed slightly at that rom-com-like scene and almost forgot to answer. "Yes... Yes! It's that one. Thank you very much," he said as he reached out his free hand to take it.
But he quickly moved it away and raised it above his head. "He, he! Too slow!" He exclaimed mockingly.
"Hey, give it to me, please! I need it now," Yuu asked in frustration.
Out of curiosity, the boy looked at the cover of the book. "Oh, are you going to read about the Great Seven? I've never seen anyone around here read something like this before, at least not with such typical stories."
Yuu stopped trying to pick up the book and looked away with some embarrassment. "You could say that I'm not very familiar with that kind of stories..."
The boy smiled and handed it back to him. "It's okay, I'm not very familiar with them either, except for the Sea Witch."
Yuu gave him a wary look as he picked up the book and placed it on top of the other one he was holding. "Thank you..." He repeated.
"Do you need to get any more?" He asked him. "I just came here to kill time, so today I wouldn't mind giving you a hand."
Yuu's wary gaze turned into one of mistrust. "You would only do it to mock me again, wouldn't you?" He asked him with an arched brow.
The boy put a hand behind his neck and laughed. "I couldn't resist! You are so tiny and cute that watching you stretch like a little octopus to reach the book made me want to tease you!"
Yuu felt his cheeks burn again. Had he just called him cute? "Well, I have to go!" He sputtered before he noticed his blush. "Thanks again for helping me. See ya!"
He hastened his step under the boy's bi-colored gaze and cursed to himself. Why had he blushed if he didn't even mean it with that intention? Then he thought of his adorable laugh and how nice he seemed...
He shook his head quickly to drive the thought away and looked around for a free spot that wasn't far from the counter.
He moved the chair to sit down and the person sitting in the same table suddenly looked up when they saw him get close. Yuu noticed him and recognized him as the boy from Diasomnia who he called I-want-to-kill-you face #1 in the cafeteria.
"Oh sorry. Is this chair taken?" He asked him as he saw the silver-haired boy's surprised expression.
As if the question woke him up from his thoughts, the young boy shook his head."No, it's not. You can sit down there without any problem," he assured in a calm tone.
He sat down, opened the book about the Great Seven and looked for the index. The Queen of Hearts was one of the first characters to appear there.
"Why not?" He said to himself as he thought about Heartslabyul's dorm and searched for the page.
After reading about the Queen for some time, he could understand why the computer had recommended that book in the searches, because in one of the stories there was one about a blonde girl in a blue dress who suddenly appeared in the Queen's garden and was invited to play cricket with her. "Alice?" Yuu whispered surprised when he recognized the description.
As if that name was an unwanted invocation, he began to feel a strong burn in his left shoulder.
He hurriedly closed the book and took a deep breath to calm himself. I-want-to-kill-you face #1 hadn't noticed immediately, as his eyelids seemed to struggle not to close from sleepiness, but after hearing his heavy breathing, he suddenly opened them.
"Hey, it's everything alright?" He asked him as he noticed his expression of discomfort.
The burning sensation suddenly faded away. "What? Oh yeah. I'm fine, I just felt a cramp in my arm," Yuu said as an excuse, "sorry for bothering you."
The stranger relaxed his serious demeanor, but didn't look annoyed. "Not at all," he replied. "Have you made any intense physical effort recently? You should go to the nurse if it happens to you again, in case you hurt yourself."
The young man looked at him for a moment. "If it is not an inconvenience, may I ask you something?"
"Of course. What is it about?"
The young boy seemed to hesitate for a moment to ask the question before speaking: "Tell me, have we met before anywhere else? I have the feeling that you are familiar to me."
Now he looked at him in confusion. "Well... I think we saw each other a few days ago in the cafeteria at lunchtime, if that's what you mean."
The answer didn't seem to convince him. "Anytime before that?"
Yuu shook his head. "Other than that I've never seen you before."
He sighed. "Then I must have confused you with someone else, sorry for the inconvenience."
"Not at all, thanks once again for your concern."
Now that he was closer and without being watched suspiciously from afar, Yuu took a better look at the young man's facial features and his pretty violet eyes. He couldn't help but think how handsome he was...
"Concentrate, Yuu!" His mind screamed at him.
He narrowed his eyes and focused them on the book. Seeing that it was best to leave the Queen of Hearts chapter aside, he went straight to the Sea Witch.
After a while reading carefully, a shriek echoed in the quiet environment of the library: "Oh, Goldfish!"
He raised his head quickly when he recognized the tall boy's voice and looked at him in front of Riddle, who was not far. It was the first time he had seen him since he had gone to the nursery.
The tall boy began to tease Riddle by taking the book away from him in the same way that he had done with Yuu before, causing Riddle to become even more irritated.
Yuu stared at the situation in astonishment and when Riddle looked around in embarrassment, they locked eyes for a moment.
Riddle continued arguing with the young man to get the book back. On his side, Yuu decided to get up and walk over to the counter so he could take the books, in case Riddle got furious again. He showed his student card like it was a library card.
Just then, Riddle managed to trick the boy into taking back the book and ran off.
The tall boy sighed disappointed and decided to look at another bookcase.
Yuu picked up the books and hurried to the exit. Noticing this, the silver-haired boy got up and approached him.
"Riddle doesn't seem to be in a good mood, are you going to follow him anyway?"
"Yes. He had a hard time recently, so I'm going to make sure he's ok now."
As he watched him walk away, Silver wondered why that boy would have looked any familiar. He would have liked to talk a little more with him to find out a reason.
Yuu left the library and could still see Riddle in the distance. He quickened his pace a bit to get closer and talk to him shortly.
He saw him stumble into the floor, got startled and ran towards him. Riddle flinched when he heard Yuu's steps approaching, thinking it was other person.
"Hey, are you okay?" Yuu asked with some concern. "That was a pretty bad stumble."
Riddle seemed to calm down a bit and turned to see him, surprised to realize who it was. "Ah... It's you, prefect."
Yuu held out his hand. "You aren't hurt, are you?" He asked him.
Riddle stared at his hand for a moment doubtfully before taking it. "Thank you..." He said self-consciously as he got up. He looked for the book, picked it up, and brushed the dirt off it.
"I couldn't help but see what happened there, that guy also played the same trick on you as me with the book," Yuu commented.
"Are you telling me that Floyd did the same to you?" Riddle asked, surprised.
"So his name is Floyd. No, he didn't exactly take it away from me." He pointed to his books. "Rather he helped me catch one book because it was too high for me to reach it and then he wanted to joke around. He gave it to me right away."
Riddle sighed irritatedly. "As always, Floyd loves to tease people much shorter than him. He's in the same school year as me, he is way too troublesome, reckless and loves to break the rules just to have fun! He's also very, very unpredictable and has drastic mood swings, so even I don't know what his next move will be." He gasped to catch his breath.
"Really?" Yuu questioned in surprise. "To me he seemed like a nice boy who likes to joke around."
"It may have given you that impression, but mark my words: be careful if you see him nearby! Don't get into trouble because of him. Be careful with his brother Jade as well! They are identical twins, so it won't be difficult for you to identify him."
"Alright, I understand..." Yuu said, a bit stunned by the insistent warning. "Changing the subject, I haven't seen you in Heartslabyul before, I'm glad to see you're doing well."
Riddle's face suddenly changed and he looked away in discomfort. "Yeah... Trey and Cater told me that you've been helping to fix the rose garden. It's very nice of you, thank you."
"It's nothing, I'm glad I can help a little. At this rate the garden will be as it was before. Ace and Deuce have already settled there." He laughed. "Grim insisted that this way our dorm will be quieter, but I'm sure he misses them."
Riddle sighed. "I'm sorry my students caused you trouble," he said. "It must have been very problematic for you."
"Not at all, I like having people at home. They also helped me clean the dorm a bit. Speaking of Ace: are you already going to make the tart he told you to make?" He pointed to the book he was holding.
"I just borrowed the book, but at the moment I'm just going to read it. I'll make the tart a day in advance for the party."
Riddle gulped. "So... What books have you taken?"
Yuu showed them. "These right here."
Riddle's eyes widened in involuntary surprise when he saw the book about the Great Seven. "Curious choice," he commented. "One is more advanced than the other."
"I took the one about ancient symbols because it caught my attention, but the one with legends will come in handy to learn the stories around here," Yuu explained. "So far I have been reading about the Queen of Hearts."
Riddle seemed to perk up a bit."Did you like it? The Queen is impressive, don't you think?
It was really impressive that she literally had everyone who made her angry beheaded, but Yuu didn't say it out loud because Riddle had recently starred in something similar.
"Yes, really impressive..." He simply commented. He was about to ask him if he knew anything about Alice, but just thinking about her reminded him of the uncomfortable burning sensation. "What are you going to do now?" He asked instead. "Right now I'm going to the school store, I'm going to pick up an order and buy some tuna cans."
"For Grim?" Riddle guessed.
"Yes," Yuu laughed softly. "He denies being a cat, but behaves a lot like one. Besides, he has earned it."
Riddle scowled shyly. "Is it okay if I accompany you?"
Yuu looked at him with some surprise. "Of course! Do you need to buy something there?"
"Not exactly, but... I'd like to make sure Sam has everything I need."
"Deuce and I were able to buy what we needed when we first walked in, so I'm sure you can buy everything."
They went to the school store together, there Sam greeted them, sold Yuu ten cans of tuna and handed him something very small wrapped in gift paper.
"I hope your sister likes it!" He said cheerfully.
"Thank you very much, Sam."
He also assured Riddle that he would have everything he needed for his "sweet" purchase.
"Oh, really?" Riddle asked him.
"Of course!" Sam affirmed. "After all, my friends from the other side always keep me up with everything!"
"Oh, you mean those shadows that are hiding around here?" Yuu asked him.
Riddle looked at him confused and Sam, keeping his smile, did the same.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, one day when I mentioned that I would like to give something to my sister, I saw a bee-shaped shadow in my dorm. I thought it was my imagination until now, the little bee is right there," he pointed behind Sam. "It's so cute! Hello! Hey, why are you hiding?"
"I don't see anything," Riddle commented.
Sam laughed nervously. "Don't worry, she's a bit shy. I'm surprised you've even seen them. Nobody else has besides me managed to see at least one of my good friends."
"Oh, I didn't now that," Yuu replied, surprised.
"Is there anything else I can offer you?"
They both shook their heads. "I should go," Yuu said.
"I'll go with you," Riddle told him.
"Come back soon!" Sam said before seeing them leave. Then he turned to the small shadow that Yuu had pointed out, who was peering out shyly. "This is surprising... Are other people supposed to see you?" He asked her.
"What have you bought for your sister?" Riddle asked curiously.
Yuu set the bag on the ground and carefully opened the wrapper to take out a pair of pretty golden metal rose-shaped earrings. "This, she likes to wear small earrings like these. When I go back home, I'll give them to her. They were quite cheap, so I plan to find something similar for my mother and my two aunts. There were some other pair in the shape of a snowflake, but I think she'll like these more."
Riddle gulped as he heard him talk about his family. "These are beautiful, I'm sure she will like them," he said.
"I'm glad to hear that," he replied as he put them back in the wrapper. "Well, I should go back to my dorm, Grim will be looking forward to this." He shook the bag with the cans. "Bye!"
"Wait, prefect!" Riddle exclaimed to stop him. "I mean, Yuu...!"
The black-haired young boy looked at him in surprise. "Tell me."
Riddle looked at him with a mixture of determination and embarrassment. "Er... I want to apologize... for the thing at the day of the duel."
Yuu smiled calmly. "You already told us all that you were sorry, remember?
"That's not what I mean," Riddle insisted. "I want to specifically apologize for those things I said to you when I defeated Ace and Deuce..."
Yuu's smile faded when she understood what he was referring to.
"I'm very sorry! I really am!" He exclaimed remorsefully. "What I said was not only uncalled for, but it didn't even occur to me to think how much it might affect you either!"
"Do you mean it?" Yuu asked hopefully.
"Yes, I do! I really don't think you're inadequate for this school nor pathetic for being magic-less. And I don't that think that your parents... That your mother didn't do a good job raising you either."
Yuu sighed. "The others told you, did they? About my father..."
"Cater mentioned something by accident and Trey had no choice but to tell me," Riddle explained. "I'm really sorry to hear something like that..."
"Thank you, don't worry. At first it was very hard for us when my father died seven years ago, especially for my mother. But she managed to overcome it, she was already very strong before she met my father, now she's even stronger. Since then she and her sister, my aunt, have done a great job taking care of me and my twin sister."
"Sounds like an amazing mother," Riddle commented. "I wish mine was like that too..."
Yuu looked at him doubtfully. "Hey, do you... Would you like to talk about what happened that day to us?"
Riddle nodded and they sat down on the grass.
"Well... where do we start?" Yuu asked.
Riddle clutched the book in one hand while he thought.
"It's as if someone or something brought us there," Yuu commented. "Do you think it was some Overblot's effect?"
Riddle shrugged. "I wouldn't be surprised, but I know so little about the topic I couldn't tell. Where were we? Why did all these images from my past appear? I don't understand it either."
Yuu looked away. "As for that... I'm sorry that your mother is like that, it must have been very hard for you."
Riddle sighed. "It was normal for me even after meeting Trey." He gave a small smile. "We barely knew each other and he was already teaching me things that seemed incredible to me at the time." He frowned. "Mother was unable to see it the same way, she forbade me to play with Trey and our friend and them from ever getting close to home."
"But you and Trey are still friends today, how did you keep in touch?" Yuu asked him.
He smiled again. "When summer holidays ended, we realized we went to the same school," he explained. "We could see each other every day like that, but my mother made sure we didn't play together after class..."
Yuu thought about the next question. "What about your father? He didn't appear in your memories. Does he agree with what your mother does? Or are they divorced?"
"They are married, but they don't exactly get along. I don't even remember the last time they showed affection for each other. My father is not as strict as my mother, but since she is as well known as him in the city, he thinks like many others that she is right about everything, so he has no intention of opposing it, and if he were, he wouldn't know how."
"I imagine all that would affect the way you see things and... how to follow the rules to 'be perfect and the best in everything'," Yuu guessed.
"I've been thinking about that and I want to change," Riddle said determinedly. "I want to be a better dorm leader for Heartslabyul. By respecting the rules, but not forcing my students to them. That is clear to me, but... I still don't know what to do with my mother, I have realized that I don't want to continue living as she wants me to. I have lived for so long believing that she always knew what she was doing that now I am afraid to be wrong..."
Yuu took a deep breath. "You say you're afraid of being wrong, but no one is perfect, not even your mother," he said, earning a surprised look from him. "In the few days that I have seen you, you have proven to be very smart and confident with what you do, you are fully capable of thinking for yourself and you have people who support you, so don't let your insecurities or what other people think chain you, because that will prevent you from changing things."
Riddle's surprised look turned into a moved one. "Do you really believe that?"
"Yes, I really do. You still have time to live your life, but if you don't realize it, there's the possibility they will continue to decide things for you and your life will pass. If you keep allowing them to control you, you'll only keep suffering... I know that because a friend of mine went through something similar."
"Really? What happened to him?"
"His name was Takahiro, he was handsome, intelligent, really kind and from a wealthy family. He was my sister's boyfriend, a year older than us. One day, he noticed my sister and gathered the courage to ask her out, he was a bit shy and not very good at sports, but they connected and became an official couple. By then we were both fourteen going on fifteen. She had dated before another guy who didn't last a week with because she quickly realized he was hooking up with other girls, and you could tell that Takahiro was being serious with her, so I felt happy for them."
" And what happened?" Riddle asked, intrigued by the story.
"She had introduced Takahiro to our mother and aunt, they both liked him. But then he introduced her to his mother..." Riddle held his breath."To give you a general idea, at home we nicknamed her as 'The Demon' for being cruel, very scary and for wearing red when my sister saw her for the first time.
Riddle stared at him dumbfounded. "Did you just describe a part of my mother?" He asked.
"Of course not! She just looked a lot like her... She was a divorced woman, business owner and very severe. Since he introduced them, she never liked my sister and wouldn't hide it."
"Why not? Did she do something to offend her?"
"No, at least nothing intentional. We never knew the actual reason, but from the few things Takahiro told us about her and from what my sister could tell, she had a conservative mentality, so we assumed that she didn't like her son dating a middle-class girl that liked to play sports and had no problem making male friends..." His face had contracted into an expression of disgust as he formulated those words. "It had to be one of those reasons or something similar."
"What was he doing about it?"
"At first he tried to assure nothing happened. To be short, they dated for about five months. In the fourth month, things began to go wrong, he became much more distant with us because it turned out that her mother had found him a girl from a wealthy family. She finally forced him to break up with her to start with the other one, which he did by message."
"Did she force him to leave her for another girl?"
"Yes... When my sister confronted him face to face, he explained to her that if they were still together, she would be forbidden to meet her friends, so she asked him not to speak to her again. He also distanced himself from me, he didn't feel comfortable being with me, his ex's brother. He changed schools the following year, so we haven't seen him again."
"That must have been hard..." Riddle muttered.
"I'm telling you all this to let you know that you still have time to get out of that controlling way of life and make your own decisions, as long as you don't harm anyone or yourself. It's up to you how and when you do it."
"Thanks for telling me. Uh... How was your sister after that?"
"They only dated for a few months, but it was a hard time for my sister. But thanks to my family, our friends, and me, she got over it quickly. In addition, with what happened later, she also overcame the bad time with her ex-mother-in-law."
Riddle blinked in confusion. "With her boyfriend's mother?"
"Yes, it is a different subject, but it happened shortly after all that. One day the mother suddenly called our apartment and she came in uninvited, apparently Takahiro had given her our address."
"A person like her dared to do something like that!? She had no right to go to your house after what happened. Not even my mother would do that!"
"That day our aunts were visiting, my mother tried to be civil and offered her tea, her sister accompanied her. My other aunt, my sister and I went into the kitchen and listened to the conversation from there. Apparently The Demon wanted to offer us money to compensate the emotional damages that could have been suffered, and she tried to convince my mother to accept because, according to her, 'being a widow was not the same as being divorced'".
"Did she really dare to say that to another mother..."
"Here comes the best part, and also the most surreal." He bit back a laugh. "That was the last straw, my aunt got up and went to the kitchen to get the pot of salt. She went back to my mother and... both started throwing salt at her to make her leave the house."
Riddle looked at him stunned. "I understand they were furious, but what was that about?"
"I don't know if it's the same around here, but salt is used to exorcise and repel demons and some spirits. And that's what they did: get a demon out of the house. It seemed to work, because she never came close to us again."
Finally, Riddle was unable to hold back laughing and burst out laughing. Yuu caught it and laughed with him again.
Suddenly, the female voice that Yuu had seemed to listen days before laughed again, this time with much more intensity. Yuu had already forgotten about that laugh.
"Your family isn't one you want to mess with," Riddle commented when he calmed down.
The female laughter dissipated, somehow Yuu was able to hide his confusion.
"Well, you can't expect less from two sisters raised by a single mother who lost her husband in military service when they were young. They have always been very close, my aunt owns a gym that she decided to locate near the daycare center where my mother works."
"Oh, that's a great strategy!" Riddle said, surprised. "That way parents can leave their children in good hands while they exercise."
"Oh, and what about your other aunt? Isn't she another sister?"
Yuu shook his head. "She is my aunt's girlfriend. They're not married, but we still consider her as our aunt since their one-year anniversary, they've been together for three years now. They're made for each other, but she's much laid back than my mother and her sister.
"Oh, I see..." Riddle said thoughtfully, before frowning. "They don't know you are here at Night Raven College, do they?"
Yuu silently shook his head and Riddle looked away.
"Yuu... I'll understand if you don't want to forgive me, but I really...
"Don't worry about that," Yuu interrupted him calmly. "In fact, I already forgave you days ago. But I appreciate the gesture."
"Are you sure? I said hurtful things to you without knowing anything! I swear I'll make it up to you."
"Look, my first girlfriend said much worse things to me on the phone when I discovered she was cheating on me, then weeks later she said sorry without meaning it to try to get back with me. And Ace also said nasty things to me when we met and we're friends now."
Riddle blinked in surprise.
"Yes, I was also heartbroken, but I got over it quickly" He explained. "However, that's another story." He got up "Shall we go? Grim must be waiting for these cans!"
"Sure," Riddle said as he got up.
As they walked on the way to the main street, Yuu remembered something else. "By the way, Riddle, I also wanted to apologize to you."
He looked at him again in surprise. "Why?"
"I also prejudged you and thought quite badly of you, that you were bossy, cruel and childish when in fact I did not know anything wither. I don't think that was right of me."
"But you had your reasons, that part was the only one you saw of me."
"Yes, but you are much more than that. I see that you are also kind and considerate, so I wanted to apologize."
Riddle smiled slightly. "Oh, I almost forgot." He said. "I also wanted to thank you, you did a great job together with the others to save me, you were also by my side in that strange place. I understand why the headmaster considers you suitable for Night Raven College."
Yuu smiled back tenderly.
"Eh... Are you going to the Unbirthday Party, like last time?" Riddle asked to change the subject.
"Yes, the others have invited us, Grim and me. I'm looking forward to it!"
"I'm glad to hear that!" Riddle said cheerfully "You'll see, it will be a perfect celebration and I will be a different leader!
"Great, I hope you make a great tart! I told Ace I plan to taste it with him."
"I won't disappoint you." Riddle gave a wicked grin. "But one thing I warn you: it will be off with the head of those who are late to the party."
Yuu laughed. "Well, I'll be here an hour earlier then."
They said goodbye before parting their ways and returning to their respective dorms.
"Hello!" Yuu said as he returned to Ramschackle.
Nobody answered, he walked into the living room and saw Grim just as he left him before he left, asleep on the couch.
He went into the kitchen to put the tuna cans in the fridge. As soon as he opened the door...
"WELCOME BACK!" The small ghost hiding in there shouted while raising his arms.
Yuu bit back a scream as he stepped back.
The other two ghosts became visible and laughed at the joke.
"Ha, ha. Very funny..." Yuu said dryly after taking a deep breath.
"It was a perfect chance!" Exclaimed the thin ghost after he stopped laughing.
"Have you been able to find somethin' in the library? You've been there for a long time..." Commented the big ghost while Yuu started to put the cans inside the fridge.
"I could learn a bit about the Great Seven, but nothing about the print yet."
"Have you met someone by any chance around there?" Asked the small ghost. "Remember what we told you: men are wolves!"
"Guys, we've already talked about that," Yuu sighed. "But yeah, let's say... I was with a friend," he said before closing the fridge door.