The snow lightly fell on the main courtyard of Peristylium, a school where students from all over come to learn and hone their powerful magic skills to aid the country in the mist of War. Their nation is a small one, located on an island apart from the rest of the continent. Politics reigns supreme in this world. One wrong move and the nation you live in might be gone in a day.
To stop the fighting, the nations of Oriens signed the Pax Codex. A treaty that states that no nation, under any circumstances, will be invaded for their Crystal. When each leader signed their name on that sheet of paper, it was when each nation, Suzaku, Genbu, and Seiryu, breathed a huge sigh of relief. Peace was here once more...
Until one nation broke it. Byakko was its name and under the high commander, Cid, began to use powerful airships he created himself and the ever-present I'Cie to invade nations. With these advantages, Cid had begun to conquer all the nations.
Except one: Suzaku.
Suzaku's defense capabilities put up a strong resistance against the I'Cie and Cid's armada of airships. Then the Byakko did something no other nation had ever done in Oriens: They disabled their only Crystal. The High Commander thought that, if stripped away from the powers of their Crystal, they would be defenseless and Suzaku would fall.
The High Commander was wrong. True, he did stop the power of the Crystal from flowing free to the nation, and yes, without the Crystal Suzaku''s main defenses were done with. Almost done with. Before this war ever began and when the magical school Peristylium was as powerful as Suzaku's army, the headmaster of Peristylium ordered twelve of his elite students to sign a pact with the Crystal. Stating if Suzaku was ever invaded, they would have this one option to stand against the enemy.
The headmaster hoped that he would never use his students in any wars and his twelve students could live in peace. When the Crystal stopped fueling their nation, he knew, regrettably that he had to put his plan into action. Calling on his twelve students, the headmaster told them to enact the plan: Operation Apostle.
All the students understood and with all their weapons brandished, they set out to defend their nation. In the Apostle Operation, they were all given code names based on their choice of weapons to protect their real identity so that if they were killed in battle, no one would know where they came from for the sake of their country.
On that battlefield, the twelve magical students lost their identity to fight in what they believe in. For the sake of their nation, they were all warriors who fought for the greater good, to fight against evil, and for their beloved Crystal. The headmaster would soon regret his decision into making this twelve people army. The burden he gave his students would haunt him for the rest of his life.
And so, our story begins here.
-Chapter 2: Headmaster -
The ground was white and soft from the falling snow. The courtyard's main fountain looked beautiful in its watery world. Its white, frosted water reflected the gray clouds above it, icicles clung at the fountain's edges and the tip of where the water sprang out of had frozen over. The trees were bare and naked, the brown bark was turning gray from the cold. The school grounds, which usually bustled with teachers and students, was empty.
A pair of eyes looked at his school with guilt in his heart. Closing the curtain, he walked back to his desk and put his hand at the wooden edge. Smiling sadly he said to himself,"If only we had peaceful days like this." He was a tall man, hardly 28 years old, the burden of war was settling in on his face. His tired green eyes glanced at his room as if to catch his eye on something.
Shaking his head away from his daydreams, he waved his hand and said,"Come in. The door's unlocked." The door opened to reveal a teenage boy with spiky, white hair. The headmaster smiled,"Card! What's up my man?" He raised his hand to high-five his beloved student, but the boy gave him a cool stare.
"Headmaster, we were successful at Zakari. Byakko's soldiers are retreating from the area as we speak. What should we do next?" The serious tone of the boy's voice made the Headmaster groan in despair. Scratching the back of his head and then Headmaster glared at his student who flinched at the eyes in front of him.
"What did I say about talking about Politics in this room?" Headmaster asked his student sharply. The student straighten up and managed to say quickly,"Don't talk about it in this room, Sir!" Headmaster grinned and suddenly put the poor boy in a headlock. "Atta' boy Card! Now I know I taught you something! How's the rest of the crew?" The white-haired boy maneuvered away from the man's grasp and straighten himself up. Flustered at the sudden attack, Card scowled.
"They're all fine, Headmaster. Anything else, Sir?" The headmaster put his hands together and rhythmically tapped the tips of his fingers together. Then the Headmaster grinned,"I would like hottie in this room if you can get one for me with that baby face you have." The boy exhaled slowly and turned his back from the Headmaster.
"Sorry, Headmaster. I can't help you with that problem. Why don't you go pick up women someplace else?" The Headmaster noted the annoyed tone in his student's voice and sighed dramatically. "Do you even know how to have fun?" Silence.
"You are such a party-pooper, A." The boy froze at the mention of his real name. Growing demonic horns, a black aura surrounded the teen boy as he glared at his womanizing headmaster who was picking his nose casually and flicked the booger away. The white-haired man rolled his eyes at his student's sudden change in personality.
"Don't worry about it. I checked and double check and triple checked my room. No bugs, microphones, microchips, or tapes around here. You're safe Card." That didn't stop the teen from tackling the headmaster head-first. The Headmaster hit the ground first, his stomach felt the weight of Card as the boy grabbed the wrists of his headmaster's, pinning him to the ground.
The headmaster looked at his student's enraged blue eyes and smiled,"I know you want me A., but don't you think you're taking this too far? What would the teachers and students think if we had a headmaster/student relationship?" He felt his wrist burn from the tightness of his student's grip.
"Okay, I'm guessing-" The tightness from Card's grip made his hand cold. "All right! All right! Uncle! Uncle!" Hearing his surrender, Card let go of his grip and got up. The headmaster breathed a sigh of relief, feeling the weight off of him and sat up carefully.
"Don't insult me like that, Headmaster. You know I hate it." Card's voice was full of coldness. Rubbing his wrist to get back the feeling of heat, the Headmaster chuckled. "Fine, I'm sorry. Now, help the old man up." Reaching out for Card's hands, the boy reluctantly held his hand out to him and pulled the man up. Straightening his dress tie, the Headmaster noted from the corner of his eye how tired the boy looked.
'The War's finally catching up to him. He's usually not like this.' Headmaster thought as Card adjusted his uniform. Using his analytical skills, Card, in his eyes was more serious and more prone to violence when the war began. Before the war, Card was friendly, outgoing, polite, and had that boyish determination and drive.
'War changes people too much. Sending my kids out to battle...' His green eyes dropped away from the boy and onto the red carpet. "You must hate me for this, huh A?" The headmaster's voice came out as a whisper. Card blinked and his exterior side softened at the vulnerable man in front of him.
Smiling, the boy shook his head,"No, Headmaster. I would never hate you for doing this. You're just doing what's right for Suzaku. For this school. Why would I hate you for that?" Lifting his head, the Headmaster saw the smile on his student's face and he was instantly restored.
"Thanks kiddo!" Headmaster exclaimed as he put Card into another headlock. Card tried to wiggle away but failed as his headmaster ruffled his white hair. "H-Hey! Headmaster quit it! That hurts! Stop!" the boy excalimed as his headmaster laughed.
"I'd like to see you stop me! Bwahahaha! I conquered my student once again! Try to get out of-." Suddenly, the headmaster felt his stomach being punched and released his harassed student.
"Arg! Damn you A!" The headmaster exclaimed, shaking his fist at the victorious Card. Smirking, Card waved his hand goodbye and walked out the door, ignoring the screaming headmaster behind him. The receptionist heard his cries and rushed into the room.
"Headmaster! Don't worry I'll save-!" The man shouted and held out a dagger in front of him. He stopped mid-way and looked at the defeated man on the ground. He chuckled at the usually arrogant and confident headmaster who now looked like a rag doll thrown away, getting himself knocked out by one punch by a teenager.
"Was it Card again, Headmaster?" the receptionist's eyes twinkled at the humor of it all. The white-haired man nodded weakly,"Uh-huh, and it hurts so bad! That boy shouldn't punch so hard! Ouchie. . . ." Sighing the receptionist went back to his desk and resumed his task of sorting out all the signed letters by various resignation papers that were stacked high above his head.
"Teachers here are so...bothersome. Expecting more pay since the war began. Ridiculous. They need to toughen up and teach these students or we'll all go to hell." The man said loudly to himself. One office worker poked her head from her desk and asked,"Talking to yourself again, Maurice?"
The man's violet eyes flickered towards her and smiled,"Teachers these days. They say its more dangerous to work now that the Byakko personnel are targeting their families if they teach in Peristylium any longer. Horrible isn't it?" The woman's eyes cast down towards the floor in sadness.
"I hear more and more teachers are resigning in fear for their lives. The rest of the students are being moved back to their parents because of the war as well. What is the headmaster going to do?" the woman asked her coworker with worry in her voice. The man shook his head.
"I don't know, but the headmaster's desperate to have the teachers back and the students back in school to enroll this year. The enrollment papers are hardly to look at." He said, pointing at a small stack behind him. The woman bit her lip, cast her eyes downward and went back to her work. Maurice looked at the teachers' signatures and sighed.
"The war is just beginning. If this keeps up any longer will Peristylium even be a school?" Throwing the papers in the shredder one by one, Maurice felt the hopelessness rising.
Putting his hands into his pockets, the headmaster looked out his window, watching the falling snow begin with vigor. His green eyes spotted Card catching up with the rest of the gang. They were all covered in their brown cloaks, their hoods were down to reveal smiling and laughing teens. The shouts of 'Where were you?' and 'That took long, Card!' echoed in the courtyard.
The white-haired boy smiled and said,"Sorry guys, you know how the headmaster gets." Most of them nodded and it started a round of jokes they made about their headmaster. Bursts of laughter erupted from the group as the headmaster watched with a soft smile.
"I took it away. . . . . again." His vision swam and the courtyard became blurry. His body shook and the composed, goofy demeanor he wore for years slowly fell apart. His hand touched the icy window and slowly formed a fist before the image of his students laughing happily in the courtyard.
Maurice sighed and leaned against his chair that made a squeaking sound as he raised his feet on top of his desk. "Phew! Done! Finally, some rest." Looking in his cabinet and found what he was looking for. Smiling, he held up a small quilt he made months before and began to sew. Maurice stopped as he heard something coming from the headmaster's room.
Worried about another unknown intruder, he got up and readied his dagger. He slowly opened the doorknob, focused and alert. "Headmaster, are you-?" He paused, ignoring the fact that the door was open ajar and saw something he thought he would never see.
The headmaster's whole body trembled and his forehead was pressed against the window. Both of his hands were against the window, balled up into fists. He heard the headmaster whispering and muttering to himself, and Maurice stepped forward.
"Headmaster, what's wrong?" he asked gently. The headmaster muttered something under his breath and seemed to not know Maurice was in the room. Maurice's eyes became alert and worried that the man had a nervous break down. "Sir, why don't we get you to a healer? That'll make you feel better, right?" Maurice's voice was lost in the room.
"I took it away..." He heard the headmaster say clearly. Maurice frowned, confused at the phrase. "Took what away, sir?" He saw the man's right hand lift away from the window and it fell limp at his side. Maurice frowned,"Sir, why don't we get you to the Healer's office. You'll be all right there." The headmaster didn't notice Maurice and began talking to himself.
"I took it away their freedom. . . . I took it away! Oh, Etro forgive me! I didn't mean to do it! I took it away. . . . . I took it away. . . . . . I took it away. . . . . I took it away again!. . . I took away their freedom!" Then the man fell to his knees and sobbed. Maurice, not knowing what to do, began backing away towards the door.
Holding the doorknob, he watched as the man broke down in front of him. His violet eyes softened as he began to close the door, hearing one more thing from the headmaster.
"Please forgive me."
The door closed, putting the room into darkness. The light shining on one more thing, a golden nameplate: Headmaster: Seth Suzaku.
Maurice turned around and came in front of shocked and crying staff members who watched the entire scene. Not wanting the headmaster to hear about his own breakdown for tomorrow, Maurice glared at them. "Are you wanting to get fired? Don't you dare tell anyone what happened here! Understood?" He sharply commanded.
Nodding silently, the staff members began to pick their things from their desk and started to head home. Maurice stood in front of the headmaster's door, making sure no one messed with the headmaster as they went home.
"I hope this war ends soon." The man muttered to himself as the last of the staff walked out the exit. Maurice then began to pack his things from his desk. Walking down the hallway , he heard the muffed cries coming from the room.
'Let it out. Let it all out, so you won't have to cry later on. When you do cry,' Maurice headed out the exit and felt the coldness nip at his face. Shivering, he turned and eyed the Headmaster's window.
'You'll change the tears and pain into stars. You'll shine a light that'll brighten tomorrow. Goodbyes may come someday, but I know you'll watch out for them for the rest of your life. You are our Headmaster.' Maurice smiled and saw a group of teens fighting it out with snowballs.