Chapter 7: Feelings of Failing


The auditorium was a little less empty since the arrival of the four Headmasters plus the Principal. It's still spacious considering the fact that this underground hall is large enough to accommodate almost all of the students in the Academy.

"Where's your mother?" Maverick asked. I have no idea whose mother they are talking about but the scowl on Tala's face made me realize that they are talking about her mother.

Without meeting anyone's eye contact, Tala replied. "How should I know?"

I soon realized that Maverick was looking at the headmasters and I think Tala's mother was not among them. That was self-explanatory since the only headmistress there was the Headmistress of the Earthbound department and I am sure she had no heir. Nor is she in a relationship.

So, could it be that Tala's mother is missing?

"Let's begin. The students are nearing the auditorium." The Principal announced.

"But Headmistress Tadhana hasn't arrived yet." Headmaster Orion Velveeta of the Shifter Department spoke. I'm under his department.

He is an elder gentleman wearing a casual outfit of plain t-shirt and brown cargo pants plus sandals. A wise wardrobe to wear considering he is a shifter and wearing lots of clothes just becomes useless if you have to constantly take them off before shifting. I can't decide whether he is scowling or not but Headmaster Orion always had that neutral look but it never felt like he is a neutral person.

The Principal's face turned serious. "I believe that is the agenda for this meeting." See? Called it.

The door to the auditorium then opened up with Azure Batts walking in with his long hair in a bun and an outfit that varies in shades of blue. A walking fashion disaster if we're asking about my taste. His smile looked more like a confident grin with a dash of bloodlust in his eyes.

He was behind the group but he stands out because I have not forgotten what he had done to me and the stakes he took just to fulfill a quest regardless of what we planned. In any case, holding a grudge against him is pointless. It is unproductive and petty and though his death would seem fulfilling to me, that is not the point.

The point is,.. I do not have any. My mind goes blank in rage whenever Azure arrives.

Walking up front is the sunshine of the group, Rebecca Pragma. She was bouncing as she walked towards us. Quite possibly telling stories to Serene Grace who is the opposite of her in a lot of ways.

Rebecca has long blonde hair while Serene has a short red hair. For clarifications, she is not a vampire though her brooding attitude does not help with the stereotype for our species.

Serene never shows any emotions rather than boredom and disinterest in everything while Rebecca would give attention to anything she sees or anything that remotely catches her eyes and interest.

Rebecca's attention span really isn't that great but that never stopped her in her first quest where she demonstrated an amazing knowledge and resolve to complete it. Serene never cared about anything around her, except if it's about prophecies, oracles, or the secret's of the future, nor does she cooperate. She haven't finished a quest yet but she had the qualifications of the myth who will fulfill the Inferno Prophecy.

Each one of us have those qualification. I came from a long line of a prestigious Hunter family alongside my mother's strong vampiric bloodline. I'm basically here because of Nepotism.

The others all have reasons to be here. Serene is the only one with a strong urge to decline the candidacy. Not that her opinion matters because she's still here, participating.

But Maverick and Tala? I silently watched the two. Maverick was attentively listening and Tala just vanished from the seat she was sitting on earlier and moved to somewhere far from the group.

I have no idea why they are here, I thought.

Maybe Maverick is right. He's here because he needs to be the muscle for any quests if there will be one but Tala? As far as I know, she is a human who gives this non-human air around her. Kinda like Serene but hers has an unexpected warmth to it. That statement could be a fact or it's just my urge to suck her human blood making me hallucinate the warmth.

It really has a sweet smell.

The way Tala carry herself is not someone who wants to be hidden away. No, it's screaming with oddity. She looks misplaced.

Whatever the reason why she qualified, I have the feeling that she is a danger to my goal and quite honestly, I don't want another competition. Me, Rebecca, and that Blue witch is already too many a candidate.

Or was I wrong? This is not about the Prophecy of the Inferno and the missing Headmaster is all there is to be discussed.

My eyes immediately went to Tala who looked a little bit uncomfortable. Closing her eyes from time to time and shaking her head while she is at it. The Principal did say that it is about Headmistress Hana, which I can only assume is Tala's mother.

Is it a rescue mission perhaps?

"A little late but we might as well start." The Principal spoke. "There has been a large spur of paranormal activity near the woods circling the school. It could be one of our own myths and monsters so I put Hana in-charge of investigating---"

"Hana? You can't be serious about sending her." Headmaster Orion said.

The Principal just glared at him for the interruption, "I already did so there is no point in crying over spilled milk--- if it was just students fooling around in the woods and pranking weak-hearted humans beyond the void then they'd be reprimanded and scolded but it's already been a day since Hana had gone and the activity have not died down yet. Worse case is, there had been soulless bodies scattered in the woods."

"Those bodies,... humans?" Headmistress Laurel Mendoza asked, she's the headmistress of the Earthbound department.

Her hair is golden brown that touches the ground just barely. Just by looking at it, one would wonder how heavy it is. Her outfit is like a tattered green skirt that must've been due to the terrain and a plain black shirt with the Academy's crest. A gold-lined shield with a torch in the middle. Surrounding the torch are some chains accompanied by a ribbon. If you look at it carefully, you'll see the fog that envelops the Academy in the background of it, moving slowly.

Maverick is the one under her jurisdiction.

The principal paused for a second before answering Headmistress Laurel. "Fortunately, no. We've inspected the 5 victims thoroughly. They're part of the Strike team patrolling the area."

"H-how?" Maverick seemed to be in shock. "All the members have reported last night."

"It's electronic, isn't it" I asked since I've been paying attention to the Strike team's ward where they report before and after patrolling.

Azure snickered, "are you suggesting that the Principal tampered with the gadget? Such deception!"

That earned me a judging look from the Headmasters--- it's unfair because Azure was the one who said it but I'm getting blamed--- Even so, I'm guessing they thought things along those lines and chose not to react. Either way, the Principal might've already know their thoughts.

"I'm saying that someone did." I clarified.

Azure shrugged, "same thing."

I clenched my jaw and calmed myself. Nothing good will come if we end up having an argument about it. That's not why we're here. This is not a senate after all.

"To clarify your suspicion, Mr. Batts." The Principal cleared her voice. "The council didn't want to alert the academy's student about this mysterious activity. We almost know nothing about this case except for the fact that they take away souls of their victim. Every cases are isolated ones so at most we can predict that it is an enchantment type of monster."

"And you thought Hana was the best type to counteract?" The Headmaster of the Oracle department, Headmaster Cecil Brown , asked. His tone was not someone who wants to clarify his train of thoughts. It was of someone who just got way more confused than before.

He is a serious and a mysterious man who is nowhere near gentle. With an unruly raven black hair that hides his face from anyone, his face is a few shades darker from tan. His eyes is earthly brown with a thin tight lipped expression. Just like every Headmaster here, his attire is not of someone with status but of someone who knows what it is to be practical.

"But," the headmasters seems to be as confused as we are but just by looking at them, I can tell that they're level of confusion isn't as ignorant as ours. "That's too far from how Hana operates. Unless..."

The Principal nodded, "indeed it is the reason why we are gathered here."


Everything is going too fast for the rest of the group to analyze. The pace was set by the Headmasters who already have prior knowledge about how Headmistress Hana operates when it comes to monster activities and what it meant when she enters the field.

Though, by analyzing the way they talk about Headmistress Hana, she is the least qualified to investigate the premise of the problem. What could the Principal have possibly thought to find this logical?

The Principal sighed, "Mr. Draven, all those question will be answered in due time."

Oh, right. I forgot the Principal can read minds.

"I apologize," I told her.

She has telepathic abilities and although she can't see memories from a particular person. She can, however, hear the loudest thoughts of someone, involuntarily. I guess, me rambling about everything being said in the meeting, my loudest thoughts is undoubtedly this.

But, I supposed thinking about it even more makes me as loud as I can be... How do you keep your thoughts silent though?

I look at the Principal and she was just shaking her head slowly before heading straight to the agenda now that the introduction was finished.

"I'll give the full details to you clueless children later. Before that, think about everything that you have heard. If some of you can actually grasp what is going on, you might be rewarded. Meanwhile, I'll be talking with the Headmasters for the best course of action to take given our situation."

The adults have left us to ponder their words but something strikes me a little bit odd with the whole process of this.

"This only happened today," I informed. "The Principal, her words aren't carefully said. She haven't talked to the other Headmasters about it either. Something must've gone immediately wrong with the operation to have her this shaken."

Azure managed to crack a smile then proceeded laughing which earned him a slap on the back of his head from Maverick. I cannot suppressed a snarl at that blue bastard.

"The heck, man!" Maverick roared. "You sure have a twisted sense of humor."

Azure just glared at him, "let me laugh when I want to fucking laugh, you Man-wolf!"

"What is there to laugh at?"

"Uhm, the fact that something made the Principal shaken?"

Rebecca pouted, "that doesn't sound very funny at all."

Serene and Tala was not listening--- No, Tala is listening.

I watched her carefully. We were standing in a group huddle near Tala who was not keen on moving from where she was seated nor was she comfortable now that we are closer but the way she tried to stop her shoulders from shaking meant she was either crying or laughing. Either way, she is reacting to the conversation.

"You should join us," I told her.

She looked at me then looked away, "no thanks."

"Oh my," Rebecca gasps. Her eyes sparkling as she set eyes on Tala who ignored the group.

She kind of mirror Serene at the other end of the group who is disinterested with the conversation.

Rebecca then created a commotion with her uncontrolled passion and curiosity about everything she sees and right now it is Tala.

The group was getting more and more rowdy by the minute. The Headmasters and the Principal seems to be aware but they aren't doing anything about it. After all, it's our problem to cooperate with one another.

The solution is obvious. We need a leader---

"Get all your yapping mouths shut!" It was not a scream. It's voice was low but there is no denying, intention and conviction was laced around that order. "Now, sit your butts on those chairs and be civilized!"

We didn't know what happened but I, unexpectedly, found myself seated in the bleachers next to Tala on my right and Serene on my left. How she got there is beyond my comprehension. On her other side was Rebecca and the furthest was Azure.

Azure scoffed, "says the man-wolf."

"Did I tell you to speak?" Maverick looked at him.

"Who died and made you king?" Tala muttered rather annoyed.

Maverick shook his head, "you guys are like children! Order is the only way we can make progress. The adults are almost up with their meeting and we haven't done anything else except argue and yell and shout and tease and mock and look down at each other and---"

His list went on and on until Serene grumbled.

"We get it. You could go on and on about how dysfunctional we are." She said. "Get our so-called meeting started then."

"Man, seeing that we don't have much time left," Maverick drifted, his left hand scratching the back of his neck. "Anyways, thanks to Kai here we figured out when this all happened. It's the least of our worries to know why they hid it but instead we should focus on, Why was Headmistress Hana sent when, judging from their comments, she's the least suitable."

"Shouldn't Tala do the most talking?" I pointed a thumb at her.

She is the Headmistress' daughter, isn't she? She's the only one who knows more about her that any of us.

"Don't drag me in this conversation, you piece of fucking bloody shit." Woah... that's a lot of curses.

Though that was unexpected, she seems to be the type to curse indiscriminately. Hmm, wonder why. Seems like there's a lot of rage connected to just one mere suggestion of mine. Was I overstepping any lines?

"Tala," Maverick warned.

"No," I stopped him. "It was my fault. I apologize."

Azure whistled, "I knew I liked her for a reason."

"Are you British? You said bloody. Aren't all British people saying bloody? Wait, was that racism? Or hasty generalization? Am I a bad person?--- Whoa! Brown eyes! Is that contact lens? Or just natural? Ooh! Bouncy hair!" And the dam is about to leak once more with Rebecca pestering her like that.

"Settle down, man!" Maverick ordered. "We don't know how much time we have. If Tala doesn't want to then we shouldn't be wasting our time forcing her." His eyes went to me, "since you figured out the situation quick--- do you have any ideas?"

"Well, informations are lacking." I admitted. She's in the necromancy department. She's a witch. "What type of witch?"

"No one knows. She just returned after vacating the Necromancy Head position for a year now." Azure answered.

"Who asked you to answer?" I glared at him.

Surprisingly, the blue bastard does know how to cooperate.

He rolled his eyes, "would you rather I don't?"

"Stop arguing." Maverick cut the conversation short gave the two of us a stern look.

Rebecca sighed, "isn't it unfair. She seems to be strong being a Headmistress and all then getting capture by some luring type monster. Must be because of the match-up."

Match-up... "Rebecca, you're a genius!" I exclaimed. Why didn't I think of this before?

If I can't identify what Headmistress Hana's capabilities are, then she will be the x to the equation. X is not equal to Y and Y is the capability of the opponent which is a luring type.

So, by knowing what type is weak against types like Rebecca, which is a luring type myth then---

"Welp, the adults are done, man." Maverick informed me, looking behind him to the walking figures. "If you figured it out, then this is your time to shine."

But, there are a lot of types that are weak to luring types! It must depend on what kind of weakness we are exploiting. If it's a siren, it exploits the weakness of sexuality. If it's wisps, it exploits the weakness of curiosity.

There are a lot of variables to consider... I don't know which type should I consider first. Trial and Error method cannot be used right now with my limited time and I don't see how that's going to work with the given situation.

My brain isn't cooperating at all.

"You look like you'll shit yourself." Tala commented, turning her body slightly towards me. A sign of openness perhaps. "Calm it, idiot. You shouldn't push yourself pass your limits or you'll fall off of a cliff. If you can't do it now, doesn't mean you can't do it later."

Tala is unexpectedly warm and comforting but nevermind her words. It doesn't matter if I can't do it now because it was a task that was given and failing will never become an option.

"Or you just couldn't do it," Tala shrugged. "After all, not everyone can do everything."

And there's the Tala that cursed me just a while ago. She's a complex one, I see--- Ah! I'm getting side-track.

"Time is up." Headmaster Orion announced. "What did your team realized?"

All eyes from our group expectantly went to me as if saying, I should not let them down. But with my unfinished thought of process, that can't possibly be enough, can it?

"Just do your best, Kai." Rebecca cheered with a cute smile.

"Tsk," Azure scoffed, "words means nothing."

Ignore the doofus, I reminded myself.

"Kai did most of the analysing so we would like to give him the stage." Maverick informed the Headmasters and the Principal.

That was my cue to stand up, whether it was planned or not, it clearly gave a subtle tone of "you can't turn back now" though Maverick isn't the type of person to give underlying meaning to everything they say.

I cleared my throat to try and stop my nervousness. "With, with the information that we have picked up with the conversation, Headmistress Hana is not equipped to handle a luring type monster but she was equipped for investigation processes that's why she was sent. That would be reasonable since she's a Headmistress of the Necromancy department---"

"Wrong." The Principal replied instantaneously.

I found myself dumb-founded, "what?"

I wasn't done explaining yet, I was jut doing the introduction to buy me sometime... but I guess any explanation would be nothing if the equation itself is wrong. So, what could I possibly have done wrong?

"Wrong," she repeated. "Sit down."

My body moved on its own. A feeling inside my heart made it start beating so fast that I do not know what to perceive it. The feeling, it's new. It makes my heart beats fast but not in fear nor excitement.

Is this what it's like to fail?

"Maverick, stand." The Principal ordered. "I see that you have taken the leader role of the group. List all the reasons why you have failed."

Maverick stood rigid at the command and began apologizing for some reason. "We, no, I thought that Kai would have the answer just because he analyzed a situation right of the bat. I have ordered our group to rely on him too much that made our group narrow-sighted. As an acting leader, I'm sorry for failing."

Tala groaned beside me, "kill me now... fuck this righteous shit of a display."

"My, my... what a passionate young man." Headmaster Salazar Auric commented. "Though, a group isn't composed of I's but rather We's."

He's the Headmaster of the Enchantment Department. Among the four Headmaster, he is relatively dressed fancier than the rest. His short brown hair is always brush backed neat and his grin never fades. He has the air of a welcoming friend smashed with the personality of a scheming businessman.

"I--- I'm sorry."

Headmaster Salazar sighed, "you don't learn quickly, kid."

"Salazar is right." Headmistress Laurel said. "Maverick, you are quick to blame yourself. It's like you have not realize the depth of what you have stated. There are more things underneath the ocean, so understand what you are saying or else, it'll just be shallow waters."

"Enough." The Principal cut the conversation. "This Academy for myths is not for answers to be given directly. To be a monster, you must earn it. In the face of a problem, you must solve it on your own. We are only here to guide you and not tell you anything more."

I wanted to ask something but I cannot seem to find the will to do so. What is wrong with me?

"But before we start, we have an announcement to make." Headmistress Laurel said.

Headmaster Salazar cleared his throat, "prepare for the greatest quest of your life. The Prophecy of the Inferno is about to begin."

Must they always be dramatic?

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