The sound of stone crashing on the ground echoed across the courtyard, Akko groaning in frustration as she paced back and forth in front of the pile of stone pieces. Gathering her breath she raised her wand and pointed it at the pile of stone, “Sosomme tiextrilla,” she shouted, concentrating on the stones as they hovered in the air.
They floated towards each other and started to rearrange themselves into into the shape of the statue that she was trying to repair before once again crashing down onto the floor. She groaned, stomping over to a bench and throwing herself down on it. “I just can’t get it.” She complained, letting her wand fall on the bench beside her.
“Maybe you should take a rest for today,” Diana said, “You already had practice today with Professor Ursula, you don’t want to strain your magic or hurt yourself.” Diana fidgeted with her hands, regretting suggesting extra practice time earlier, not wanting to push Akko when she was already worn out.
“I just don’t understand,” Akko leaned back, looking at the sky as the last bit of light of the day cast the courtyard in sharp shadows, Akko reaching her hand up towards the sky. “All I want to do is to be like Chariot, I want to do magic and make people happy. Why is it so hard to do that?”
Akko had been training since she had come back from her tutoring with Professor Ursula; earlier in the day she had trudged back into the dorm room, dragging her feet as she flopped into her bunk, grumbling into her pillow.
“Everything okay Akko?” Lotte said, looking up from her desk, Sucy giving a cursory glance from her bed before turning back to the small cauldron that she had set up on it.
“No,” Akko muttered, rolling over as she threw an arm over her face. “I couldn’t cast the spell that Professor Urusla was going over with me.”
Lotte gave her a pat on the arm, “I’m sure that you will get it eventually,” she said encouragingly. “It just takes time.”
An unintelligible mutter came from Akko, Lotte looking at her in confusion before she groaned again. “I tried 101 times.” She whined, “I got so close but it just wouldn’t work. Maybe I should just give up, I mean how can I find Chariot if I can’t even cast this spell.”
Diana felt a pit open in her stomach at the witches words, unused to hearing the normally excitable witch so down on herself. “Maybe you just need to approach it a different way,” She chimed in, trying to make her feel better.
“I guess,” Akko sighed. Diana searching her brain to try to find a way to uplift her friend.
“Maybe we can go practice? I am not as competent of a witch as the teachers but maybe I can help?”
“And it is almost the blue moon,” Lotte added, “Remember we learned in class that magic is stronger tonight than it is usually.”
Akko perked up at that, seeming to recover a bit of her enthusiasm. “Okay, yeah, let’s do that!” she bounded off of the bed, grabbing the Shiny Rod from the side of her bed and her book bag, grabbing Diana as she ran to the door, darting out with a quick thanks to Lotte and Sucy.
They had practiced for almost a half an hour, finding them back here, on sitting on the bench, with Akko just as disheartened as before.
“I told Professor Ursula after training that I just wanted to be like Chariot and meet her, and she said that we don’t get everything we wish for.” Akko continued talking, turning the Shiny Rod over in her hands.
“I am sure she did not mean it like that.”
“I know, she said that but also that if I work for something I will eventually get it.” Akko stared upwards at the rising moon. “I just have waited so long for my dream.” She said, thinking about all of the times that her magic had backfired on her.
“I know what you mean,” Diana said sadly, a sad smile on her face, Akko looking over at her as they fell into a soft silence. “Do you know something,” Diana started, “my dream, I guess you could say I am a lot like you Akko.” Akko stared stunned at the witch, her mind drawn in by her soft voice.
“I loved magic as a child, my mother would teach me spells whenever she had time.” A wistful look crossed her face, “I wanted to show everyone magic, from my cousins to everyone else. All everyone seemed to be talking about was how magic was fading. Every time my mother came home she seemed more tired, and I wanted to take that all away.”
Akko felt her heart melt, unable to resist whispering out, “because magic is meant to be shared.” Her lips quirked up in a smile, Diana with an answering expression and nodding. Akko got a determined look on her face, something from class popping into her mind. “The blue moon spirit,” she breathed out, Diana pausing for a moment before a look of recognition crossing her face.
“I bet we can get answers there, both for my future and your curse. The spirit is supposed to give us the answer to any question, we can finally get a lead.” Akko jumped up again, grabbing the gear around her. Diana smiled fondly, there really was nothing that seemed to keep this girl down.
“Come on Diana,” Akko yelled, grabbing her book bag before taking off across campus. “We have a spirit to find.”
Akko barreled through the brush, bursting into the clearing as she walked into the middle of the clearing, the moon almost at its zenith in the sky. “We made it!” Akko said panting, walking into the center of the clearing and slowly spinning around. “The spirit should be here, the light is supposed to reveal it.”
“Maybe the doing something with the Shiny Rod,” Diana puzzled, “If there was something here maybe magic can reveal it.”
“Good idea,” Akko said, pulling out the Shiny Rod and taking a deep breath. “Blue Moon Spirit, show yourself!” she yelled, holding the Shiny Rod above her head.
There was silence, both Akko and Diana holding their breath as they watched the ground around them them, the light from the blue moon playing around the clearing. A moment later the light reflected off of the Shiny Rod, filtering through gems in the staff as the beams landed on the stone, a rumbling coming from the ground before it opened up, sending Akko tumbling down a chute and gripping onto her bag tightly.
She spilled out onto the ground, groaning as she pushed herself up back onto her feet. “Are you okay?” Diana asked, concern leaking into her voice.
“Yeah,” Akko rubbed her head stretching as she winced slightly from the fall. She looked around, taking in the sight of the underground cavern, “Wow,” she spun around, “This must be where the spirit is.” Moonlight streamed through the hole in the roof of the cavern, illuminating the dust as it drifted through the air.
Akko gently set her bag on the ground, propping Diana’s journal against it, allowing her to see the entire cave. “I would not have thought that there was something down here,” Diana said with wonder.
The wind whistled through one end of the cavern, a damp breeze coming from a tunnel on one end of the cavern. Akko took a couple steps forward, calling out a greeting, “Hello! Anyone here! Mrs spirit?”
The wind kicked up as the dust swirled in the air, the light seeming to dance as a figure stepped out of the dancing light. Akko stood, open mouthed at the form in front of her.
“Chariot?” She choked out, taking a step forward and reaching out her hand. “Is that you?”
Diana felt her mind swim as she stared at the sight, wanting to cry out to Akko but feeling herself unable to speak, stunned into silence. The figure in front of Akko was her mother, seeming to stare right past Akko and directly at her.
The spirit slowly reached out, “What is your dream child,” Chariot said, Akko still inching closer towards the spirit. The spirit slowly reached out as her fingers made contact with Akko’s forehead.
The moment that the spirit touched Akko she went still, seemingly frozen in place. Diana suddenly felt herself able to speak, and she yelled out to Akko, trying to snap her out of it, but she remained stunned. Never before had she been more frustrated with her curse, growling as she wished in vain that she could get out of the book and help Akko.
She clenched her hands, her fingernails digging into her palms as she kept trying to call out for Akko, hoping that she could somehow wake her up.
Akko came to consciousness with the sound of cheers and loud music, jolting up and looking around in confusion as she found herself on a stage, wearing a replica of Shiny Chariots outfit.
She slowly turned on stage, taking in the huge crowd in front of her. This was it, everything she had ever wanted, the crowd yelling out for her as she twirled the Shiny Rod in her hands, sparks flying around her as the cheering grew louder. She felt emotion swell in her throat at the feeling of magic flowing through her, easier than anything else that she had tried to cast.
Despite the lights shining into her eyes from the stage she could see the crowd in front of her, her parents in the front row cheering up at her. No one from Luna Nova to tell her that she couldn’t achieve her dreams.
No one from Luna Nova. She felt her breath catch in her throat as she scanned the crowd, peering into the darkness on the sides of the stage as she tried to find any familiar faces. No Lotte, No Amanda or Sucy, No Ursula, No Diana. No Diana.
Her hands grew sweaty as the lights suddenly felt too bright for her eyes, the crowd too loud in her ears. “This isn’t right.” She muttered, “This isn’t what I want.”
“Isn’t it?” The voice from the cave came from the side of the stage, “you are like Chariot, you can have all of this. All you have to do is give up your past.”
Suddenly bright glowing orbs popped out of her chest, floating around her as she looked into them. She gasped as she saw her friends and teachers reflected inside of them, memories of the time she spent with her friends playing inside like a movie.
“Is there really anything worth remembering in here,” The spirit said, “You can forget all of your failures, and have your dream.” The globes shimmered before starting to play out different memories. Akko crashing to the ground after trying to fly. Failed tests pilled up on her desk as Finnelan hovered over her. Witches laughing behind their hands at her as she practiced magic out side with her friends.
“You can make people happy, you can be the one to put a smile on everyone’s face.” Akko turned around, looking out into the crowd, finally she was just like Chariot. She turned around, her mouth opening and closing as she felt her stomach turn.
She opened her mouth, before the memory of earlier tonight ran through her head, Diana’s soft voice echoing in her head. “My dream, I guess you could say I am a lot like you Akko.” The words echoed in her head, the memory of Diana’s soft smile imprinted into her mind.
Her grip on the Shiny Rod tightened, glancing back at the crowds behind her. Her name was announced with cheers, calling her mind back to the first time that she saw chariot. The two memories clashing in her mind
A sad smile came across her face as she turned back to the spirit, her eyes flashing with determination. “This isn’t what I want.” She said, holding the Shiny Rod out to her side. “Yeah I have messed up before, but I want to remember that.” She stepped toward the spirit, an orb next to her, one showing her crashing to the ground trying to ride a broom. Another step, her sprawling entrance to Luna Nova dissolving into the air. Each of the memories, each reminder of a failure, shattering as she strode forward.
“My failures make me who I am,” she stepped through the spirit of Chariot, feeling her breath return to her, looking up to see a large tree-like spirit in front of her as well as her bag over on the side of the cave, her world returned to normal.
“I make mistakes, yes.” she strode forward holding the Shiny Rod tightly with two hands, “But I keep going, because I have a believing heart, and because I have people who I promised to help, and I won’t let her down.” Her mind flashed once again to Diana, the two of them sitting on her bunk at night talking about anything that came to their minds, the sound of her laugh making her heart flutter with emotion.
“Someone important to me told me that I might not always get what I want,” she held the Shiny Rod up above her head, thoughts of training with Ursula and Diana on her mind. “But I will always get what I work for. Phaidoari Afairynghor!”
The shiny rod glowed, one of the orbs on it growing bright as it extended, Akko grasping the handles that formed on it as the Shiny Rod transformed into an axe; cutting into the wind as she brought it down on the spirit.
Diana held her breath as she watched, glad that Akko had snapped out of her stupor and awestruck as she wielded the Shiny Rod. Akko brought the ake down on the spirit, a bright light and rush of magical power blasting outward from the contact. She covered her eyes in alarm, feeling the warmth of the magical power on her skin.
Wait. She opened her eyes, squinting against the light as she marveled as she saw her arm thrown up over her face, sitting in the cave. She glanced behind her, seeing her book propped open to show the mirror… empty.
She tried to speak, the words getting caught in her throat as she tried to say anything, her voice sore from disuse. The stone was cold beneath her, the sensation strange to her body as she marveled at the fact that somehow she was outside of her prison. The light from the magical contact faded as Diana felt her perspective shift, once again starting from the perspective of the journal.
She stared stunned at her arms, looking back up to see Akko talking with the spirit, now a beautiful woman, the words they were saying unintelligible, as if she was listening through water.
Akko walked over, gently holding the Shiny Rod with stars in her eyes. “I did it,” she whispered, the realization setting in, “I did it!” she yelled, throwing her hands up in celebration as she ran over, a skip in her step as she ran over to Diana.
“I found another word!!” She was breathless with joy, Diana looking up and feeling a smile make its way across her face, caught up in the infectious joy Akko was radiating.
“You were wonderful Akko.” She smiled, looking up at the girl with tears in her eyes, a sense of hope and something stronger, something she still couldn’t put a name to, coming over her, starting up at Akko, “I think I know how to break the curse.”