Chapter 2: New Awakening
The sound of birds chirping awakens Anastasia. The pain that had always plagued her body has vanished, and she is no longer out of breath. She tried to get up, but her once-heavy, immobile body felt light, and she was able to do so easily. She looks around to see if she’s been summoned to heaven, but the room looks familiar, like the dormitory at Lapis, Anastasia’s former magic academy.
“What in the world is this…?”
The mutterings that came from her mouth sounded tense. It wasn’t the croaky grunt she’d barely managed to utter after her fight with the Demon Lord. —When I looked in the mirror in my room, I saw a dowdy face with long gray bangs and a faint glimpse of blue eyes. Her skin was gleaming, and her cheeks were full. It was the same face I used to see when I was younger.
“T-This… Do you mean I’m cured…? No, that’s not it…”
—I mutter to myself as I look up into her eyes. She appeared to be younger than I remembered. It appears to have been three or four years ago. Anastasia opens the window, thinking she must have gone to the magic academy back then. The azure walls can be seen in the distance. They are a magical protective wall that is unique to the academy city. A row of blue-colored buildings can also be seen. —This was a view I’d seen many times before.
“No way… Is this the Magic Academy?”
She took another look around the room. She opened a diary on the desk to find a date three and a half years earlier than Anastasia remembered. At fourteen, she had just started at the magic academy. The last page of her diary stated that she was taking a basic class and that she would begin her practical training the following day. There is nothing on the next page when she turns it.
Is it possible that she went back in time? If the date on the page is correct, it was about a year and a half before she met the hero, when the world was still at peace. Or maybe everything so far has just been a dream and Anastasia never actually met the hero but was just a first-year student at the Magic Academy.
Anastasia closes her journal, perplexed. Next to the journal, she notices a red stone brooch. It appears to be a protective stone with a hint of magic. It’s a brooch she does remember, but it’s not particularly rare, more like a talisman. Thinking for a moment, Anastasia puts the brooch in the pocket of her uniform.
The broach soon fades from her mind, and Anastasia gets ready and leaves her room. She eats breakfast in the dorm’s canteen, where she can smell and taste the food. She hadn’t had such a hot meal since her body was destroyed in the battle with the demon lord. It was a simple soup with vegetables, minced meat, and bread, but it was so delicious that it filled her heart and made her cry. While she was enjoying her meal, one of the students who passed Anastasia stopped.
“I’m curious if such a shabby meal impresses you—ara, yes, I’m sorry. You must be a country girl… You will, however, be able to eat every day if you work hard and study—you must put in the effort.”
With a pitying expression on her face, a girl with blonde hair in sharp vertical rolls, like a weapon, called out to her. According to her memory from before Anastasia’s death, she was in the top of the first year, but they barely knew each other. But she remembers her laughing a lot and having a lot of confidence in herself.
Anastasia couldn’t tell if she was being humiliated or encouraged, and she could only make a dumb sound. Regina seemed unconcerned and walked away, shaking her vertical roll.
Anastasia finished her meal and returned to her old classroom. She also finds a seat there, and the teacher who appears after a while appears to accept Anastasia as a matter of course.
“Today, we’ll start practicing casting magic spells—this class is made up of those who have the most magic; to be safe, we’ll do it in a location protected by a magical barrier.”
The students in the class proceed to the courtyard under the supervision of the teacher. Some of the students have already made good friends and are walking together, but Anastasia is alone. A tall male student approaches her as she walks alone.
“Are you the one who topped the written exam? But this is all just theory. Don’t you realize that a magician must use his magic in a real fight? Ojo-chan, keep your thick skull to yourself.”
The male student casts a sharp look at Anastasia and calls out to her in a husky voice. Anastasia recalls hearing the same thing before. His name was Hoyle, and he possessed great magical power. She was intimidated and scared at the time, so she didn’t put much effort into her practical training. She wasn’t comfortable with magic for a while after this traumatic experience, and she didn’t do well on her practical exams.
However, the current Anastasia has the memory of fighting demons and defeating the demon lord. She has been through many real battles. In comparison to them, Hoyle sounds like a puppy yapping. She couldn’t stop a smile from forming on her lips. Then Hoyle’s expression darkens.
“Oh? Don’t think you’re good just because you can write. But that’s fine until you see my magic—I’ll show you the difference—you’ll realize how insignificant you are.”
He pointed a finger at her before moving away. —I used to shiver in fear, but now I like how he doesn’t try to hide the fact that he sees me as an enemy, and he picks a fight with me without hesitation. What’s truly terrifying is when someone approaches you, pretending to like you, before throwing you into the abyss with a smile.
In the meantime, we’ve arrived at the courtyard. The entire courtyard is surrounded by a magical barrier, and a wooden figure stands in the back. The wooden figure appears to be endowed with magical abilities that boost its defense.
“You will now fire your magic at the target one by one; don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time—just take it easy.”
The students fire magic spells at the wooden doll one by one, as instructed by the teacher. The majority of the students were able to activate them with minimal force. They use basic magic and are not yet proficient with magic formulas. Regina, whose fluttering vertical scrolls released an elementary wind magic, was by far the most powerful of them all. The wooden doll was hit by several gusts of wind. Despite this, the wooden doll remains standing, and it appears to be well protected against magic. When Hoyle’s turn came, he confidently used an intermediate fire spell.
“Oh, my God!”
A yell reverberates through the ranks of his classmates. The entire wooden puppet is engulfed in swirling flames and floats through the air. The flames raced into the sky before being stopped by a magical barrier. After a while, the flames die out, and the wooden doll falls over. The unharmed wooden doll had been slightly burned. Anastasia is impressed by the magnitude of his magical power. The control isn’t great, and the formula is full of waste, but it’s so powerful that it’s hard to believe he’s only recently been admitted to the magic academy.
“See, this is what magic is all about!”
Hoyle looks proudly at Anastasia and puffs out his chest. Anastasia was up next. Her classmates look at her with pity, as if to say she’s unlucky that it’s her turn after such an outstanding performance.
Anastasia focuses on her own magical circuitry. It’s weaker and less reliable than the former, but it’s stable. There is a steady flow of magic. There should be no difficulty in releasing magic. Then how many formulas can she handle? Anastasia’s knowledge of magic, which she never knew how to use in her previous life’s school days, has remained within her, knowledge she gained in her battles with demons that humans have lost.
Anastasia devises a formula to determine her current power. [Ignition] magic is used. She starts a small fire at her fingertips and compresses it as she absorbs the magical elements around her. The magic appears to be so weak that it should not be used as an attack, but it is directed at the wooden doll.
As the fireball the size of a fingertip approached the wooden doll, the classmates looked at it with warm eyes. This is the amount they anticipated. The majority of the previous students were similarly strong, so there’s no reason to disdain it, but there’s a tinge of disappointment mixed in. With a triumphant expression on his face, Hoyle chuckles.
But then, a deafening explosion occurs just as the small fireball reaches the wooden doll. Flames and smoke billow out, and Anastasia creates a magical barrier to protect herself from the explosion. What looks like fragments of wooden dolls start to rain down from the air, but they are blocked by the magic barrier. The original magical barrier in the courtyard, however, has cracked. A high-pitched cracking sound echoed in the background. Anastasia rushed to fortify the courtyard’s magical barrier. Soon after, the cracks were sealed and the flames were extinguished, and all that remained was a pile of shredded rubble, and peace returned as if nothing had happened.
It’s less powerful than it once was, but it’s still a useful technique. There are no side effects, and you should be able to cast this spell several times in a row. The technique of absorbing magical elements from the environment appears to compensate for the magic circuit’s weakness. There are no flaws in the magical barrier, and existing spells can be strengthened. Anastasia is overcome with joy at being able to use magic again, which she thought she would never be able to do again.
“What the hell… What the f*ck is going on… This isn’t right… You’ve got to be up to some kind of ruse! You are a f*cking cheater!”
Hoyle is the first to awaken among her stunned classmates and begins to make a ruckus. Anastasia was brought back to reality by that voice. She realized she had gone too far to discover whether or not she could use magic and how powerful it was.
“… Hey, you’ve been playing dirty, haven’t you? That’s right, isn’t it? So tell me…”
Anastasia looks at Hoyle, who is muttering to himself with a tear-stained expression, and turns her head right away, feeling bad about what she did.