The Other Side

Started by Emily, June 20, 2021, 08:51:50 PM

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They had never been the tallest in their village, nor the bravest or smartest, and certainly not the best with a weapon. The other kids had always laughed at them for being smooth-skinned, never having developed the armour-like ridges and plating of other kobolds. They had never learnt the ability to breath fire, either. While this was not a unique situation- kobolds were famously diverse in appearance and ability- it was a disappointment to their village. The provincial lord was attempting to build an army, though he would not say for what, and all households were expected to provide at least one able-bodied fighter. As that was an unlikely scenario, Ikou was mostly left alone during their childhood, spending their time reading and studying.

They clutched the acceptance letter in their hands, running across the village square toward the giant balloon that had touched down outside the town hall. While kobolds usually wore little, if anything, they felt it would be awkward to show up to a magical academy entirely naked. So they'd gotten a small black cloak that clasped at their neck and hung to their knees, black boots, and tied a piece of red ribbon around a shepherd's crook to look kind of like a staff. Being a battlemage was their dream, they wanted nothing more than to finally impress their village and become the soldier they were always supposed to be.

The elf getting off the balloon was dressed in mage finery. His night-blue robes had gold lining and white stars throughout the edges. Ikou was entranced by it, hoping they'd get to wear beautiful robes like that someday. They weren't the only kobold who had been accepted to the academy this year, and two others were meeting the elf at the balloon. Jogging the last few steps, they stopped and looked up- very up- at the elf, holding up their letter. "Hello, are you here to take us to the academy?"

The elf knelt down and took the paper from Ikou, smiling gently at them. Their hair was a bright gold unlike anything the kobold had ever seen, and their eyes a mint green, almost the same colour as Ikou's skin. "Greetings, little one," he said, unfolding the letter and looking it over, "I am indeed. Just to check this against my manifest, what's your name?"

"I'm Ikou."

The elf folded the paper and handed it back to Ikou, then stood up once more. He turned and opened the gate to the balloon's basket and gestured. Ikou marvelled at the finely-woven wicker of the basket, much softer and less severe than the stone and metal architecture of the kobold village where they'd spent their entire life. They weren't very tall, but they'd be able to see over the sides if they stood up on their tip-toes. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Ikou. I'm Raliph, one of this year's seekers. I will take you, Qes, and Moa back to The Imperial Academy, and help you to your quarters once we've arrived. Are you all set, do you have anything else you wish to bring?"

Ikou hopped into the basket and turned to the elf. "No, this is everything my dad said I could bring."

"Very well," the mage stated, climbing into the basket and closing the door. He checked with Qes and Moa to make sure they were ready to go and then tapped his staff against the floor. A spout of hot air propelled from the top of his staff into the balloon, and they lifted off.

The trip only took a couple hours. Qes and Moa, much taller kobolds than Ikou, chatted with each other and pointed at things they were passing over. Ikou occasionally stood as tall as they could, peering over the edge, but was never able to see anything but the clouds around them. With a sense of mild frustration, they chose to instead stand with their back against the basket wall and look at their staff, making sure it was smooth and presentable, and that the ribbon they'd tied around it was still in good shape. Everything seemed to be good. They were excited to arrive at the campus, especially since Qes and Moa hadn't dressed up for it. Everyone would surely be impressed with the effort they'd put into their mage's outfit!

Eventually Raliph, who had been occasionally updating them on their location and answering questions from the three of them about what was below them and why things looked the way they did in some of the other provinces they passed over, announced that they were arriving. Even Ikou had been able to see enough to spot the island that appeared above them. It was huge, the central island of the twelve that made up the Imperial Academy. They had never seen a floating island before- likely nobody had, none existed in the empire outside this one. The balloon's ascent slowed as it reached the edge, then it passed over the top and, soon enough, touched down on what felt like solid ground.

Raliph opened the door and let his quarry out of the basket. Ikou hopped out first, excited to see what the academy looked like, and was not disappointed. The buildings were bright and cosy, almost cabin-like in their design. Everything had large windows to let in the light, and there were flowers and other plants all along the exterior of the buildings. Walking paths of soft cobblestone connected the buildings, and there were plenty of spots to read outside. It looked like a beautiful paradise, everything they could have hoped for. Raliph gestured toward a large building a short distance away and informed them that it was the novice's dormitories. There were rooms for all of them, along with the other incoming students there, and there would be no issue getting them plenty of food and, if they wanted, clothing.

Ikou's room was one on the second floor, with giant windows that came almost all the way to the floor, and a bed with a stepstool next to it. It appeared the academy had known about them already, and accommodated their size. There were chairs that they could comfortably sit in, a study desk, and not only a dresser but a few bookshelves near to their size. Books, mostly around different types of magic, but also about the history of the empire and the different provinces, lined the shelves. Raliph informed them that most of these would be used in their introductory courses, but that there was space for them to add their own books should they want to over time. And then, finally, the question all new students were asked. "Ikou, while you don't have to decide this right now, is there a specific school of magic you're more interested in than the others?"

Ikou had waited their entire life for this. They looked up at the elf, held up their staff, and exclaimed, "I want to make fire!"


"You've made up your mind about this, haven't you?" her mother asked as the person in the Imperial robes climbed out of the wormhole. She sounded...sad. Fructose nodded her head, slightly impatiently.

"Yes mother. There's no other way for me to fulfil my destiny."

"I know the feeling," her mother nodded sadly. "At won't have to worry about the poacher attacks."With a laugh, they both knew that was true. Kyne, being plant people, produced roots known as kyneroots that outlaws from other provinces sought to steal by murdering the Kyne. The Emperor ignored the pleas from Groveshire. Together they approached the Seeker of the Academy. Fortunately, the Seeker who came to her was also a Kyne. Seemingly, because of this he had was always delegated to handle matters relating to the Groveshire. Most Kyne in the village were familiar with him. "Hello Arkoi. I believe you are expecting my daughter."

"Ha! So this here be Fructose. Good to meet you, I always love to see my people hungry for more then just flies and sunlight, ha! That's a joke." Arkoi chuckled for quite a long moment, patting his stomach. "Heh, well are ya ready girl?"

"I am." she said, barely masking her excitement in neutral formality. She had everything she needed in her satchel. Wrapped around her body hidden beneath her tan robes was her flytrap, Nym. She was glad she could take him.

"Well, follow me down the wormhole! It will take us to the station, where we'll have to take a balloon up to reach the islands."

"The sun is particularly cool today," Fructose said to herself as she and Arkoi completed the travel through the dirt, climbing out of the wormhole. "That's good luck." She was glad for this. She would need all the comfort she could get if she were to be flying to the Imperial Academy. The idea of flying didn't sound particularly fun to her, which some of her childhood friends thought weird. She found comfort in staying close to the ground where the soil was fresh and pure. To be suspended in the air was something...unnatural.

The balloon ride was only a little less awful then she thought; it still made her core turn upside down. But when it finally landed she considered falling over and kissing the ground...but that's weird!

Suddenly, popping out of her robe's collar was her friend, shaking and growling."Fear not, Nym. There is no danger here," Fructose caressed her flytrap gently across the face. Nym belonged to a breed of giant flytrap, domesticated by Kyne people as guardians. They grew to be giant and fierce, with fangs to rival those of dragons. Nym however, was just a young sapling.

Arkoi gave her a brief tour around the Imperial Academy, and the shrubbery and flowers did make Fructose feel slightly at home. She decided to head for the novice's dorms, but before she went off Arkoi asker her something. "You know Fructose, most Kyne master in the art of healing. Is that what you'll do as well?"

Fructose grinned. "Maybe.." she said. "But my interest is in harnessing darkness."

There'#039s a light inside your soul that'#039s still shining in the cold, and the truth - the promise in our hearts
Don'#039t forget, I'#039m with you in the dark :)


The first streaks of sunlight were beginning to touch the trees, and trickling down to the clearing below, making the morning view breathtaking for anyone venturing outside their burrows this early. The only creature about, however, couldn't be farther away from the woods he was trekking through. He sighed, lost in the worries over leaving his home and starting something so different.

Just after reaching the edge of town, a booming voice from behind snapped him out of his thoughts. "A rabbit! We don't see many of those joining the Academy.""

Startled, he whipped around to find himself before a pale centaur, dressed with elegant Imperial robes, giving him a warm look through thin, round glasses.

"There's nothing to be afraid of, child. Now tell me, what is your name?" the newcomer said through a smile.

In return, he assumed a frustrated glare to accompany the voice he had suddenly found.  "My name is Orycto, and I am not a rabbit. I'm a taguel."

"Hah! Well it's certainly nice to meet you, Orycto. I am Linus. Are you ready to go to the Imperial Academy?"

Orycto simply returned a quick nod.

Orycto began his descent into the village below alongside Linus, toward the massive balloon planted in the center of the town square. The streets were littered with residents of the town, bumping into one another as they made their way to the different shops lining the roads. Orycto was never much a fan of the busy nature of the town, and preferred to keep to the forest. He was able to appreciate some parts of it though. The shops often had food that was satisfactory when he could afford a treat, and he certainly appreciated how absentminded the residents could get while distracted by their own errands- "ORYCTO!"

Linus' voice cut through his thoughts once more, as Orycto approached the balloon.

"Rats" he muttered to himself while turning to face the centaur.

"I'm sure you're aware that stealing is prohibited by the law, and by the Imperial Academy's guidelines. I do hope you intend to drop this habit. Now," Linus put his hand out to collect the corn Orycto had stolen, right out of someone's hands without them noticing, too. He handed the vegetables over with a sigh, and Linus clopped off to return the stolen corn.

He returned quickly, and the two boarded the balloon alongside a few other passengers. Linus happily conversed with the others on board, but Orycto didn't pay them much mind. The flight was horrendous after all. He much preferred the ground to this thing.

The balloon couldn't have touched down at the Imperial Academy soon enough, and when it did, Orycto was overjoyed. Perhaps this ground was suspended in the sky, but it was certainly better than that balloon.

Once he regained his bearings, he was shown around the Academy by Linus. It was unlike anything Orycto had ever seen before, and his face grew into a faint smile at seeing the amount of plants scattered around the grounds. He managed to hide this from Linus, however, as he turned to look back at him. "I understand this might be different from what you're used to, but I do hope it is to your liking. So," Linus adjusted his glasses. "What are you interested in focusing on?"

Orycto's reply was something of a mumble, to which Linus asked to be repeated. Orycto lifted his gaze and with a sigh said "I'd like to study plants."
The Lordax


Inigawa Kaito had never seen so much magic in his whole life. This was the kind of place that just oozed with magic. You couldn't just feel it in the air, you could see it. The way the plants grew a little taller and a little greener, the way the trees seemed to sway perfectly in the wind. The buildings welcomed you, beckoned you to come inside, in a way nothing mundane ever truly could. Perhaps a regular bystander might first notice that the Imperial Academy sat on a dozen magical, floating islands but for Inigawa (or Ini as he was known by his mother and his few friends), it was that energy, the spark of magic and creativity that permeated the place that really appealed to him. He was dangerously curious about all of it, and the natural excitement of a place of learning only helped to heighten that feeling. This was his dream, to see the aspirations of thousands of people unlocked, thousands of people finding their spark. Some probably even literally.


Ini was an especially odd student to be enrolled at the Imperial Academy. He was older than the average applicant, somewhere in his mid twenties. He was a very tall young man with a scarred face, one eye, and a khaki trench coat that was someone even massive on a man of his size. His dark hair was tied in a large bun on the top of his head, and a dozen or so large bumblebees seemed to swarm around it at all times. None of this is what made him unusual. No, his really surprising trait was that he was human

You see, humans just really didn't do magic. They were the sort of hard working "modernists" that didn't really need to believe in something as frilly and whimsical as magic. And sure they were more "advanced" in their words but they were way less cool than the rest of the empire. Most people really just avoided the humans because they were kind of weird and a little self centered and sometimes they were just very hard to talk to. Not every human is like that, stereotypes do exist, but above all, the humans really had a thing for hating magic. And so humans at the Imperial Academy, the most magical place in the empire? Almost unheard of.


Ini realized, coming to his senses, that he seemed to be entirely alone. He'd arrived by bird and the bird had just sort of dropped him off and flew on its merry way. Now it was the middle of the night and basically anything rational was asleep or at least somewhere that was not the middle of the courtyard. Even Ini's trusty bee friends were dozing off on his head.

There were a couple of buildings on the Academy's main island, but there was only one that looked like a big official building. Well, the biggest official building anyway. Ini poked his head in through the open front doors (they left the door open, only fair he would be allowed to explore a bit, right?). Inside, Ini's face lit up as he saw what lay ahead. The hallway was enormous, every wall and surface being covered with staircases, doors, and the occasional obvious secret passage. The whole room was lit by bright, color changing candles, hung on huge, shining chandeliers. The flames of the candles danced, side by side with their beloved darkness. At the end of the hallway, a golden light leaked from the last door on the floor, and from across the room, he could hear a quiet voice, low and soothing:

"Do come in my friend. I'd hoped to greet you outside but it seems that I've lost track of the time."

Ini blinked twice. That voice was very low, quiet, and soothing for hearing a voice across the hall. Maybe he was a telepath. That'd be cool.

He hurried down the hall in pursuit of the golden leakage. Inside, a Vorosi* sat cross legged on the floor, their wings folded neatly behind them. What was not neat however, was literally everything else in the room. There were stacks of books all around (although heaps might be a better word to describe them). Papers were pinned to every wall, depicting random objects that ranged from the "inner organs" of a Lacecow** to what looked like a detailed schematic of a teapot. The only desk in the room was all but buried in the mess, only visible by the candle poking up from the top, precariously close to lighting the entire stack of books aflame.

The Vorosi seemed unperturbed by any of this and looked up with a smile as Ini walked in.

"Welcome to my office friend, and to the Imperial Academy. I'm Varakni, head professor here. And you are?"

"Inigawa Kaito sir."

Ini sat down hesitantly on what looked to be the only messless area left on the floor.

"Nice to meet you, Inigawa."

Varakni paused for a moment as he looked up for the first time, chuckling in surprise, his eyes glittering with recognition.

"Ohoho that coat brings back memories, why I'd recognize that old coat anywhere, lad!"

"You knew my mother?"

Varkni paused once again, closing his eyes in a wistful expression,

"Everyone knew Rari here lad, you can't forget a witch as wild as the Rat Queen!"***

"I wonder what she was like when she was here..."

"There are dozens of stories I can tell you someday, Inigawa. Right now though, you've very much piqued my interest... Rari chose a human boy as her child? You must be a very special one.

Why are you here? Following in your mother's footsteps? Or here to forge your own path?"

The Vorosi's many, many eyes shone with great curiosity

"I want to learn. And someday I want to bring magic to those without it. I want to give people the same spark that Rari gave me. I want to be an inspirer and a teacher and a scholar."

Ini added, a little more sheepishly,

"And maybe I'd also like to speak to animals."

"Ah, a bit of both."


*Vorosi are a large winged species that resemble a mixture of a spider and a dragonfly. They usually have four flitting wings and several arms, legs and eyes. They're known for their ironic inability to multitask.

**Lacecows are a very pink and very mysterious species of cow that explorers still seek to this day. Because of this, any kind of diagram of the cows, especially of their internal organs, is, most likely, entirely inaccurate.

***Rari "Rat Queen" Posikiyo was many things in her very long life. An urchin, a prodigy, a scholar, one of the most powerful beings ever to have lived, Ini's adopted mother, and the previous owner of a large, khaki trench coat.


"Welcome everyone to The Imperial Academy of Magic! I am Hexcrafter Alphorius, and I am so pleased to see such such diverse members of the Empire within this year's incoming class. For the next several days, we will be meeting as a group, going over the basics of magic and magical theory."

The entire incoming class of mages were gathered on one of the smaller islands for this introductory class. The island had a building on it, but the students were sat outdoors at seats with desks, situated around the professor in a circle. They were arranged so that the smallest individuals were in the front, and the largest were in the back. The professor, an elderly dwarf with a white beard and flint eyes, stood on a raised platform so that everyone could see him, and rotated to see everyone as he spoke. His voice was magically amplified so that everyone in the vicinity- a hefty incoming class of 60 students- could see him.

Alphorius continued, "Almost all races of the Empire are able to grasp and utilise magic, but it comes to all of us at different speeds. Even within a race, some people will grasp the concepts and mechanics of magical ability faster than others. If you find that weaving is difficult, please do not be frustrated. You were all chosen to come to the Academy, because the ability was sensed within you. All of our professors have seen students who took much longer to grasp the most basic concepts of magic than it will take any of you." He chuckled to himself. "But do not take that to mean you can just slack off. Magic is an energetic, dangerous thing constantly flowing around us. Proper control requires good faith effort. But as long as you apply yourselves and attempt to meet the challenge, you will succeed.

"Observe this," the Hexcrafter said, and held up a hand. Starlight glittered momentarily over his palm, before suddenly expanding and surrounding the entire group. The sky around the students darkened to reveal a slowly rotating series of stars, some distant, some near. Lines traced between them to reveal different shapes: the various constellations that dictated the schools of magic. "You are all from different races, different cultures, vastly different life experiences. Thousands of years ago, before the Empire connected us to one another, our people considered each other monsters. But what we have always shared, all of us, is curiosity. The pioneers of magic saw answers in the heavens. Before the different energies surrounding us were connected, our ancestors traced lines between the stars. They were taught, guided, to know how to do this. We still consider the night sky a crucial guidance tool for our new students. By being on the floating islands, we are able to have an uninterrupted and incredibly clear view of the sky. Your assignment tonight will be to look at the sky and record the first three constellations you are able to see. The stars that choose you will be your guides during your time here."

He closed his hand and smiled at the various students in attendance. "Of course, not everything is so high-minded and philosophical as stargazing. We have more to discuss after a break, but first I want you to leave your belongings at your seats and walk around a bit. Talk amongst yourselves if that is comfortable, otherwise there is breakfast and snacks in the building, as well as washrooms and drinks. I will call you back here in a half hour."