Akko clutched the trophy to her chest as she stood in front of headmistress Holbrooke, flanked by Lotte and Sucy as she shifted from foot to foot. Diana’s journal lay open on the table in front of them, the girl plainly visible in the mirror. An awkward silence hung over the room before Holbrooke let out a sigh.
“So Miss Diana,” She started, Diana snapping her eyes over toward the headmistress. “You have been here for how long again?”
“95 years.” Diana answered, Holbrooke rubbing her temples as she let out a sigh.
“How could we have missed this.” She muttered to herself, taking a seat at her desk.
“And how is it that you have just appeared right now?” Finnelan asked, moving out from the edge of the room. “Or is this a creative way for Miss Kagari to perhaps cheat? I am sure we have all seen her attempts to fly before this.”
The rest of the professors shifted uneasily behind the red team, some murmuring in agreement with Finnelan. Ursula cleared her throat, stepping forward to stand next to Akko.
“If I may,” she said, receiving a small nod from Holbrooke, “Perhaps a large enough amount of magical energy could have caused her to break out of the confines of the book.” Ursula, laid a hand on Akko’s shoulder, “If Atsuko summoning the Shiny Valley was able to provide her with enough energy to escape, then perhaps we could match that same output. I am sure that would prove that there was no trickery involved in this.” Ursula narrowed her eyes at Finnelan, the two glaring at each other before Holbrooke waved her hands.
“That will not be necessary,” the two women backed down at her words, “I have no reason to believe that Atsuko cheated in any regard, and furthermore, no reason to suspect anything from a student who is trapped by a curse.” She turned to the red team, putting a small smile on her face. “You four may go.”
She dismissed them, Akko pickup up Diana’s journal as they left, letting out an involuntary sigh of relief as they left the tense atmosphere of the room. The four exchanged small grins as they stood outside of the office, Akko tapping her foot in excitement as she stared at the trophy.
“I still say you got lucky Akko,” Amanda pushed off from the wall next to the door, the other two members of the green team with her. She walked over to Akko, a slight frown on her face before she broke out in laughter, giving the witch a hard pat on the back.
“I’m kidding that was hardcore,” Akko smiled back, a slight grumbling coming from Diana. “The two of you kicked some butt back there, really showed them all what for.”
“And found another word it seems,” the two teams turned around to see Professor Ursula standing behind them, a proud smile on her face. “An old tradition and a new power, very well put together Akko.”
“It was Diana who figured it out,” Akko put the trophy down as she held up Diana’s journal, the girl flushing slightly as a smile crept onto her face. “She was fantastic, and then Shiny Valley appeared, and now we only have two words left!” Akko bounced on her feet in excitement, Diana turning an even deeper shade of red.
“Now that is impressive.” The two teams turned as a new voice interrupted them, a woman with purple hair and a red cape striding down the hallway towards them. “Five words already, that is quite an accomplishment.”
“Croix,” Ursula whispered, her voice soft, Akko barely picking it up as the woman stopped in front of them.
“Forgive me,” The woman met Ursula’s eyes before she grinned. “My name is Croix, the new professor of modern magic here at Luna Nova.”
“Modern magic?” Akko cocked her head to the side, “What is that?”
“A disgrace is what it is,” Finnelan glared at Croix as she left the room, “The outside world corrupts magic, and I do not see why she is here to teach our students anything about it.”
“Finnelan, I see you haven’t aged,” Croix coughed into her hand loudly, “I mean changed one bit since I last seen you.” Amanda choked on her laughter as Finnelan pressed her lips together tightly.
“Wait does modern magic mean stuff like laptops?” Akko stepped in between the two, her eyes sparkling with excitement.
“Why yes it does, it seems I already have one student who will be fit right in with my class.” Croix looked at Ursula, a knowing smile on her face. “Is this your student Ursula?”
“Yes,” Ursula’s voice was tightly controlled as she swallowed a lump in her throat.
Akko’s eyes widened even larger, “And how do you know about the words?”
Croix grinned, looking directly at Ursula and maintaining eye contact. “Why I knew Chariot when she was at school.”
“Really!!” Akko yelled, “You have to tell me everything about her. What was she like? How did she figure out the words? What was her favorite food?”
Akko’s tirade of questions were cut off by a soft clearing of the throat, Headmistress Holbrooke interrupting her as she called for Croix to come into her office.
Croix walked backwards into the office, a large grin on her face as she gave a mock salute to the witches standing outside as Akko pouted, the doors closing behind Croix.
“Darn, I was hoping she could have some clues.” Akko grumbled to herself as Ursula gave a tight smile.
“Cheer up Akko,” Amanda slung one arm over her shoulder, “At least now you can relax a bit, they figured it all out for you right? It’s time to celebrate!” Akko grinned and nodded, agreeing with Amanda as she lifted the trophy over her head again.
Amanda was right, Akko thought, Holbrooke could handle this, everything would be fine.
Lotte patted Akko on the back as she thumped her head against the table, the rest of the red and green team shooting her sympathetic looks. The teams had pushed together two tables, claiming a corner of the patio at a cafe in Blytonbury in order to escape Luna Nova. The questions had not stopped since Akko had won the race, the constant hovering from several of the professors and the glares from Avery giving Akko almost no rest.
“I do apologize,” Diana was propped up in the center of the table facing Akko, “I had no intention of causing this much trouble.”
Akko waved her hand dismissively, her head still resting on the table, “Not your fault Diana, you were just helping.”
“You did keep Akko from becoming paste,” Amanda said around a muffin, Sucy giving a small chuckle as Constanze elbowed her in the side as she rolled her eyes. “What it’s true?”
Akko grumbled into the table as Diana shot a glare at Amanda. “What we need,” Diana said sternly, “Is a new plan. Professor Croix seems to know about the words, should we ask her about the next one?”
“Yeah,” Akko popped back up, “Yeah she knew chariot, she has to have some information about what to do next right?”
“Exactly,she is the-” Diana stopped talking, blinking for a moment before looking quizzically around.
“I’m sorry what was I talking about?” Diana turned to Akko with a confused look on her face.
“You were talking about trying to figure out the next word.” Lotte leaned next to Akko, Diana nodding to herself.
“Tha- a- a-” her voice stuttered, the mirror flickering for a moment before stabilizing, Diana looking down at herself for a moment and then looking around, meeting Akko’s eyes.
“Diana?” Akko’s voice was tinged with worry, “Are you alright?”
“How do you know who I am?” Akko’s face paled at Diana’s words, swallowing the lump that appeared in her throat. “Who are you?”
“What do you mean who is she?” Amanda turned the journal around, a shocked look on her face. “If this is a joke you are pulling you better quite it.”
“Excuse me,” Diana bristled in anger, “I am not pulling a joke, it was you all who supposedly brought me here. One moment I was in the library and now I am here,” she looked around in confusion, “Where ever here is.”
Akko felt her heart skip a beat before her stomach plummeted, grabbing the journal from Amanda as she examined the mirror for cracks, muttering to herself as she made sure that the mirror wasn’t broken. The journal was in pristine condition, Akko chuckling nervously, “Okay funny joke Diana,” a undeniable quiver to her voice, “time to stop now.”
“I have already said before,” Diana grit her teeth, placing her hands on her hips, “I am not joking. Who are you and why do you have my journal?”
The journal fell onto the table as Akko felt herself fall backwards into her chair, her mind unable to focus on anything but Diana’s cold questions. She licked her lips in nervousness, her mouth opening and closing as nothing found its way out.
“Something must have happened,” Lotte muttered, pulling out her wand as she waved it over Diana’s journal. The light on it gave a flicker before dying out, giving a low beep as the window flashed. “What in,” Lotte tapped the wand against the table, nothing changing as Amanda pulled out her wand as well.
She gave it a similar wave as the power flickered and died. “Something is wrong, we should get back.” Amanda turned to Constanze, the shorter girl nodding before pulling out her wand and a small tablet, the screen flickering to life as she hummed to herself.
She scrunched her eyebrows together in confusion, turning to Amanda and Jasminka before rapidly signing, Amanda nodding along as she clicked her tongue in annoyance.
“Cons says that there is something blocking the signal from Luna Nova, and that all magic is being drained-”
“More blocked,” Jasminka interrupted, Constanze nodding along. “We might have enough magic to get back but Diana’s curse is running off of low power.”
The two teams looked at Diana, the witch in question fidgeting in the mirror under their glances. “What does that mean exactly,” she said, the rest of the witches glancing around as they exchanged uneasy glances.
“What it means,” Akko stood up, a serious expression on her face, “Is that we have to get back to Luna Nova now.” Her voice was hard, a determined glint in her eyes as the teams sprung into motion. They managed to squeeze onto two brooms, Lotte and Sucy as well as Jasminka and Amanda casting the spell as all four of them tried to combine what little power was left int the wands.
The brooms shook as they slowly hovered above the ground, barely clearing a few feet before they hovered wavering in the air. “It’ll have to do,” Amanda said, taking off towards Luna Nova, quickly followed by Lotte.
As they drew closer they saw a crowd milling around the Luna Nova tower, the top boarded off with metal slabs as the professors stood facing off the staff in front. The two teams landed heavily, Akko immediately sprinting over to Professor Ursula, skidding to a stop in front of her.
“Professor!” she yelled, her eyes wide in panic, “What is happening?” the rest of the two teams ran up behind her as Ursula faced them.
“The staff are striking and have sealed up Luna Nova’s crystal,” She tapped her fingers on her arm, “They are demanding a higher usage of the magic in the crystal. We are at a stalemate right now, and there are reports of strange things starting to happen around campus with the students and the usual schedule.” She smiled tersely as she turned around, looking back over her shoulder, “You girls just relax, we can fix this in no time.” She walked off back to the rest of the professors, Akko turning back to face the two teams, a worried expression on her face.
She pulled out the journal, opening it to reveal Diana, the witch disgruntled as she huffed at Akko. “And now will you please explain what is going on?” Akko gave a nervous smile, clearing her throat.
“Well, um there is an issue with the crystal, and its affecting the magic, and apparently weird stuff is happening around campus while the staff is on strike.” Akko rambled out in one breath, Diana letting out a slow sigh.
“I meant,” she rubbed her temples, “who you were and how you seem to know me.” She sighed as she tapped her chin, “If there is an issue with the staff then why not check the service tunnels.” She shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“Service tunnels…” Amanda trailed off, turning to the other members of the green team before turning back to Akko. “Hey Akko we gotta go, gonna check out those tunnels real quick alright.” She took off, calling behind her, “Good luck with your girlfriend!”
“Wha- she-” Akko sputtered as her face flushed crimson, Diana’s face matching hers as she grumbled to herself. “I’m gonna go see if I can fix anything here!” Akko yelled as she jogged towards the school staff. A panic was slowly creeping over her body, trying to push thoughts out of her head.
What if she never fixed Diana? What if it got worse and Diana just, disappeared? What if she never- Akko pushed the thoughts out of her head, forcing herself to close the journal and put it into her bag.
She confidently walked up to the picket line that had formed, walking up to a large Minotaur and putting a finger in their chest. “I need you guys to take down those metal plates.” She narrowed her eyes as the Minotaur snorted.
“We won’t be moving anything until we get a bigger share of the magical power here.” They said, mutters of agreement coming from the rest of the crowd. “We deserve a share of the power too, it isn’t fair for the witches to use all of it and we get almost nothing to use for ourselves.”
Akko paused as the words bounced around her head. What if they were like Diana? And they needed magical power to function. She chewed on her lip in anxiety as she tapped one foot. That didn’t sound right to keep energy from any one who needed it, and if they got to use more energy then Diana would be able to get it back. She narrowed her eyes, nodding at the Minotaur. “Alright.”
Ursula sighed as she rubbed her eyes, walking back over to try to negotiate again, “Alright,” she muttered as she looked up, blinking in surprise as she saw Akko standing in front of the workers, holding a megaphone. Oh dear, she thought, this was going to be even more complicated than she thought.
“Any sign of anything?” Amanda called out, poking her head into a storage room as she peered into the darkness.
“Nothing yet.” Jasminka called back. The three of them had made their way through half of the lower floors of Luna Nova, slowly making their way through the various storage rooms and access tunnels.
“This is just a wild goose chase,” Amanda muttered, turning the corner to see a small creature standing in the middle of the hallway. “Hello?” Amanda took a step forward, “Know anything about the mess going on?”
The creature opened its mouth as a strange shrieking noise came from it, Constanze running up to Amanda and pointing at it and then the wands. Amanda’s eyes widened as she tried to keep a calm face. “Alright yeah that makes sense,” she said, inching forward closer to it. “Now how about-” the creature turned, dashing down the hall as Amanda took off in a sprint after it.
Amanda raced down the hallway, flanked by Jasminka and Constanze as they chased the small creature through the halls of Luna Nova, Amanda skidding around the corner hard as she pushed off of the ground, lunging for the creature as she got one hand on it, causing both of them to tumble as they entered a large room. Jasminka pulled her up, the three of them facing the creature as it turned toward them.
“Alright what’s your deal?” Amanda panted heavily, Constanze pulling a large magical battery from her bag as she passed her broom to Amanda. “You are the one who is messing with the workers huh? Causing everything to go haywire?”
The small creature cocked its head, opening its mouth as a low grinding noise came from it, its form breaking apart into a swarm of small cubes that swirled in the air, each one pulsing a deep red color.
“What the heck is that,” Amanda took a step backwards in surprise. Constanze passed each of them one of her battery packs as the cubes solidified into a large dragon head. The head let out a loud roar, a mechanical dial tone noise running through it as the green team fell into a ready position.
The monster lunged forward, the three witches scattering as it bit into empty air. Amanda hit a switch on the side of the broom, twi engines popping out as she leapt onto the broom, balancing on her two feet as she shot around the creature.
It lunged for her, maw wide open before it halted, Jasminka gripping the head by one of the horns. She strained as her wand glowed with magic, the battery pack attached to it sparking wildly as she channeled magic through her body. She heaved, sending the creature flying across the room as Amanda whooped in victory.
The creature roared, narrowing its eyes as it turn and rammed through the wall, the green team stunned for a movement. “After it!” Amanda called, the three of them chasing the creature as it burst through a door and made its way outside, bursting onto the lawn as the assembled professors and magical workers reeled back.
A flash of light stunned the crowd, the green team skidding to a stop as Croix descended from the sky, standing on top of a rotating metal cylinder. The creature roared, breaking apart into black cubes again before it reassembled itself into a large bird, flying up toward Croix.
“With technology on our side,” She called out loudly, pointing her wand at the approaching creature, “We will no longer be held back by our reliance on the old ways.” Her wand lit up, a bolt of energy leaping from it to strike the bird in the wing, sending it crashing down to the ground.
Croix landed on the ground and strode towards it, all the while talking in a lazy tone. “Be free from your plight spirit,” she gestured with her wand, a large obelisk hovering next to her opening a vent as red energy was pulled from the creature, swirling through the air as it was pulled into the magitech device. A small red spirit popped out of the creature, fleeing as the professors made their way over to Croix and the device.
“With this,” Croix smiled, “there is no need to argue over sharing magic.” Holbrooke poked the device, murmurs spreading through the crowd.
“So you can do magic like this,” Holbrooke said, grins appearing on the professors faces.
Akko heard a low groan come from her bag, pulling out Diana’s journal as she flipped it open, holding her breath with anticipation. Diana was standing in the mirror, rubbing her forehead as she blearily blinked up at Akko. “Akko?” Diana mumbled, “What happened?”
Akko felt her eyes water, a sigh of relief escaping her as she felt the stress that she was holding in her gut melt away. “I am so glad you are okay Diana.” She smiled, Diana flushing slightly as she shifted on her feet, a small smile making its way onto her face.
“And this time,” Akko glanced up at the magitech battery that Croix was showing off to the staff. “I think I have an idea.”