The unfiltered curiosity on her students’ faces undoes Tameri. One of the joys she’s found through her profession as a teacher is to witness firsthand the passion her students exhibit flourish, and her sophomore class has that passion in spades. Over the spring, she was taken aback by Shuri, Pan, and Roy all contacting her for advice of their own volition.
Pan had questions relating to her live streaming hobby. When she asked if she could do so at Four Hearts Academy, Tameri’s only condition was that she could not use her audience to help her in her classwork. Shuri only ever inquired on how he could improve his swordsmanship. She only refused him so she would not give unequal treatment to any one student. Roy only reached out to her once, and he asked if an Ohaida was required by law to never abandon their weapon. Tameri worried that even after she told him otherwise that he would, but here he is with his broad claws present. While Aurum and Aven made no such calls, she learned very early how passionate the two of them were.
“Okay, gather round,” she tells her students. She turns to Aven and says, “Last year, you learned of my title from your upperclassmen.” Aven nods. “Jojen once let it slip before them. It relates to my S’nue power: phantom.”
“Phantom?” Shuri asks. “Your title is Phantom Slayer?”
Hearing it from one of her pupils dampens her spirits. She knows that the longer this conversation lasts, the more carefully she’ll have to explain things. “Yes, it is.”
Pan raises her hand. “Phantom…as in a ghost?”
And down the rabbit hole we go.
“You won’t truly understand without a physical demonstration.” Tameri points her right index and middle finger up. Her sheathed spadroon floats until the chalk-colored guard is parallel with her wrist. She holds up three fingers on her left hand. “There are three basic skills I incorporate with my phantom power. The first is intangibility.” She spooks the students by sinking halfway beneath the sparring stage. “I can slip through any solid object I wish. Anything touching me when I activate this power, my clothes, for example, gain that same quality. Inversely, I can allow physical objects to pass through me as well.”
“Bad. Ass,” Pan says.
“Sorry,” she mutters swiftly.
Tameri plants her palms flat against the sparring stage and pulls herself up. “It’s why I never show concern during Star-sparring. When you managed to hit me last year, Aurum, your sword simply passed through my body. Also, I’m able to apply intangibility to my spadroon. Like so.” Her spadroon slowly slides out of her sheath and lowers through her right palm, though no wound forms. “I can perfectly control this power, even alongside using Bond of the Blade.” She rotates the blade in her palm one full circle before having it levitate at her side once again.
“The second skill is exclusive to my spadroon. It’s called phantom slicing and it has two varying effects. There’s phantom slicing-a, the technique I used on your legs moments ago,” she reminds Aurum. “It’s a nonlethal attack I can use to safely cripple enemies, or to save lives in certain scenarios. Whatever body part I sever with this the a variation can be reattached.” She demonstrates with one of her own fingers. The contour of the spadroon glows with a cobalt aura which produces a soft buzzing sound. The boys are hooked by the grotesque show, but Pan barely keeps herself from vomiting.
“Phantom slicing-b, unlike the a variation, can’t be used alongside Bond of the Blade. However, this variation does physical damage. You see this light?” She gestures to the cobalt aura. “This is the key way to identify if I’m using any variation of phantom slicing. No glow, no go.
“And what makes the b variation scary is the fact it combines with my intangibility. I can pierce someone’s flesh and only make the portion of steel inside their body solid. There is no defense against it.” Tameri terminates the cobalt aura and sheathes her blade.
“Wait, what’s the third skill?” Rum asks.
“The third skill is not something I can, or would demonstrate, but you can think about it as the inverse of phantom slicing-b. It’s exclusive to my body. For example, if I were successfully ambushed via sneak attack and I felt something prepare to pierce my flesh, I could make my vital organs intangible. However, without proper control, they could fall out of my body and I would perish then and there.”
“That’s it!” Pan says, then doubles over to puke over the side of the sparring stage again. Tameri moves to check on Pan, but Aurum beats her to the punch.
“Have you ever had to use skill number three?” Roy asks.
“Only three times. It’s not something I consider lightly. The recovery time alone is enough of a reason to avoid it.” She faces Aven again. “You’ve been awfully quiet over there. No questions?”
Aven crosses his arms. “Yeah. Why are you a teacher with powers like that? You’d make a much better assassin than that asshole from last year.”
Pan’s retching gets louder.
“Sorry, but seriously, based on how you described your powers, you seem to know the darker uses for them. You can’t say it’s never crossed your mind.”
Today will not be a reset! Just answer the question and end this conversation as soon as possible.
“Of course, it has. There have been times, such as last year, where the darker uses are necessary. That being said, I will never exploit those uses for profit. I teach because I love to do so and because I want to change the idea of Ohaida culture for the better. I once told Aurum what I’m about to repeat now. Every Ohaida hopes to instill their instincts and practices into future generations. I do not think of using my powers to kill, for profit or not. The love that those who gave me my title felt for me is what earned me that. I want you all to earn titles that same way.”
Tameri studies the emotions in each of their gazes. Once again, she’s impressed. No shreds of skepticism or ridicule exist amongst the five of them, even from a post-puke Pan as Aurum softly strokes her back. More surprising is the fact Aven seems to respect her ideals, given how hard he challenged her at the start.
Perhaps I should ask how his spring went more directly. But first…
Tameri grabs her spadroon out of midair. “Today’s exercise can stop here. We’ll try again in a couple of days. Between now and then, try to determine what the connection you and your weapon or weapons share.”
“Yeah, with our own weapons,” Aven spits in Aurum’s direction. He departs swiftly, Roy and Shuri on his heels. Pan gets up to leave with them, but Aurum grabs her arm.
“You know I didn’t mean it, but if I upset you, I’m sorry,” Aurum says.
Pan sighs gustily. “I know. I’m not mad. Just…just try not to do it again. Okay?”
“I’ll see you later.” She turns to the professor. “I’ll grab some towels and clean up my mess.” She darts off before Tameri can respond.
The professor steps beside Aurum. “I suppose I should apologize to Pan as well. I didn’t mean to gross her out so. And to that end, how are you? It wasn’t my intention to freak any of you out, but I more than understand if I did.”
“I mean, I was for a moment, but if you say I’m good, then that works for me. I trust you,” Aurum declares sincerely. “And that’s why I have one more question for you?”
“Go ahead,” Tameri says, expecting him to probe more into her phantom power. She accepts his right to ask and even more than that, she wants to answer him, trusting he won’t misjudge of spread the information recklessly.
“Is there something wrong with me?”
Tameri’s taken aback so that she can’t even blink.
I did not see that one coming.