According to Dave, Purple-types where the epitome of rarity in the world of magicians. They are a symbol of not only great power, but great change. Some of the most prominent parts of post-Awakening history has a purple-types name attached to them. In terms of people that have altered the world the most after the Awakening, purple-types come right after the Zodiac Families.
To say History of Wizardry was an awkward class for Saul was an understatement. The very first lesson was about how a purple-type single-handedly crushed the Peruvian government and kick-started a revolution. Rumors about Saul's purple status had already spread through the grapevine, and he was forced to spend the entirety of the class with his head down. He couldn't believe that he would rather be in Magical Application.
Saul could feel the gazes of his fellow fourth years as he walked to his next class. Everyone had their eyes on him; even the professors.
"You're a friggin celebrity, dude," Mace said while popping up behind Saul.
"Mace? Where did you and Dames go?" Saul asked. "I didn't see either of you in History of Wizardry."
"That's because we didn't take it. We're Knights, so we don't have to go to history class."
Saul gave Mace a puzzling look. Seeing his conundrum, Dames explained properly.
"Apparently, having a high rank at Seraph Academy means more than you just being tough as stone. For each rank above Squire, you're allowed to cut a class from your schedule and still get full credit for it. Or you can replace that class with an elective and get double credit."
Saul hummed. "So that's how it works..."
That explained why Saul hadn't seen Gabriel or Vas all day, or why those two purple-types Dave referred to never went the class. Then a thought occurred.
"Carolyn's been taking classes all day. Isn't she a Baron?"
Dames shrugged. "You know how she is. She's a total workaholic. She could become a King today and still go to all her classes tomorrow."
Carolyn was walking ahead of the boys, chatting merrily with Belle who she met up with in History of Wizardry. She glanced back after hearing her name mentioned, then looked back ahead. She was still giving Saul the cold shoulder. He honestly didn't care. He had too many things to worry about as it was. The one with the biggest priority at the moment being 'How am I going to get through Magical Application without using any magic?'
He was still brainstorming when he and the others reached their class. Every function in his brain was put on pause so he could register what he was looking back upon entering the classroom. In fact, he couldn't call it classroom. Entering the classroom's door lead them to a forest, only the forest was mostly composed of giant, limestone pillars instead of trees. The ground was still grassy, and you could occasionally spot moss and vines growing over one of the stones.
"Where are we now?" Saul asked.
"The Shilin Stone Forest, located in Kunming, Yunnan," Gabriel said while walking from behind one of the stones. "It seems that we're in China."
Mace made a face. "Y-you mean Old Country China?!"
Mace gripped his throat. "Oh no... We're going to suffocate to death, aren't we?! Is this another test?!"
Carolyn sighed again. "Oh my god, Mace... You're not going to suffocate while down here in the Old World! Oxygen exists down here too!"
Mace relaxed himself, though he kept messaging his throat.
"But still... Why are here in the first place?" Dames asked.
The answer came in the form of a looming shadow that, like a close migration of birds, cast a shadow over all the Magical Application students. It wasn't birds that were flying however. The things circling above the students like crows had were large scaly creatures with spiked tales.
Belle looked intimidated. "W-what are those?"
"Basilisks," Gabriel answered.
"Very good! I'd expect no less from a member of one of the Zodiac Families!" shouted a voice from above.
A woman jumped from the back of one of the basilisks and plummeted to the ground, invoking a echoing stomp once her feet touched down. The long coat she wore floated up. As did the legs of the classical cheongsam she was wearing.
She stood, dusted off her pants and smirked. "Morning students. My name is Fang. I'm going to be your Magical Application teacher for this year."
All the students looked blankly at Professor Fang. She was the oldest professor they had met since since arriving at Seraph Academy. She was middle-aged – likely in late thirties to early forties. Her hair was devoid of any grey and was kept together with crimson needles, the same color as her coat and dress. Under the dress she wore pants and boots. The most distinctive thing on her was the Aries tattoo on her right cheek.
Gabriel narrowed his gaze. "That tattoo... She's a member of the Zodiac Families as well."
"Seriously?" Mace asked.
"Yes. The Xiaoshen family – the Aries."
Gabriel and Fang exchanged a look. She grinned.
"Yes, I'm a member of the Zodiac Families, just like you are. Is that going to be a problem, little bull?" Fang asked. "You aren't gonna challenge me to a duel or anything, are you?"
Gabriel closed his eyes. "No."
"Aw. I was kinda hoping you would. Anyway! Let's get started."
Fang put two fingers in her mouth and whistled. On cue, all the basilisks descended and landed on the stones and trees below. All the students backed away cautiously. The basilisks just cocked their heads and watched them curiously.
"Don't be scared. These guys aren't gonna hurt you... yet," Fang said with a smile.
"Y-yet?!" one student babbled.
"First, we need to get things set up. All you – pair up into teams of two."
The students all looked around haphazardly. They exchanged weird looks.
Fang sighed and pulled out a pocket watch. "Right... It looks like you lot need a little encouragement. How about this: anyone who doesn't find a partner in sixty seconds fails the class. And... start!"
Fang's watch began ticking, and the students feet started moving with it. A frenzy had been started. Students ran up to each other at random and requested that they team up.
"Oh yeah! One more thing," Fang said twenty seconds in. "Partnering up with somebody with a type identical or adjacent to your own would be a bad idea. Just so you know."
The frenzy became outright chaos, as people who were already paired up started questioning their partners and divorcing from each other. Fang scratched the chin of a basilisk near her, completely ignoring the madness she had ensued. Some students weren't panicking, however.
"Belle, let's pair up. You're a black-type and I'm a green-type," Carolyn explained. "We'll compliment each other well."
"But I might weigh you down..."
Carolyn grabbed her hand. "No you won't. You've got to start believing in yourself more."
Belle smiled and nodded. While she Carolyn quickly met an agreement, the trio of Saul, Mace and Dames was having a bit more trouble.
"So... who's gonna be the odd duck out?" Mace asked with his rubbing his knit cap.
Mace folder his arms. "I think it's either you or me. You're a crimson-type and I'm a silver. Our types are too similar. It'd be better if one of us teamed up with Saul, and other found someone new."
Saul wasn't so sure about that. Because of his purple-type status, the other students looked at Saul like he glistening trophy. He had already rejected ten students who approached him. All of them assumed that it was because Saul didn't want to be bogged down by the 'lesser types,' but it was actually the opposite: he didn't want to weigh down anybody else down. Now he was in an awkward position between Mace and Dames who also thought Saul was hiding some godly potential.
"You two should just pair up. I'll be fine alone," Saul said.
Mace made a face.
"Dude, you serious? You flunk automatically if you're by yourself."
"Then I'll find somebody at the last minute... or second, I guess." Saul flicked his hand. "Just do it. Time is about to run out."
Mace and Dames exchanged a look. They shrugged. Saul walked away from the two while playing with his lonely bang. Who would he partner with now? Most everyone was taken, and the ones that weren't were deliberately ignoring him because they already assume they would just get rejected.
Saul sighed. There was less than ten seconds left.
"Looks like I'm failing this one..." he said while looking at the grass.
Then he looked up. Gabriel standing in front of him. He was also without a partner. The two exchanged a look. Then Saul smiled and put out his right hand. Gabriel gave a look that said 'It looks like there's no other choice...' and took it.
Fang clicked her watch. "Time's up!"
She looked around. Everyone had successfully found a partner. The duo that had the biggest spotlight was none other than Saul and Gabriel. Fang chuckled to herself.
"A purple-type and a Zodiac Family member together... This is gonna be fun," she said. "Alright. Now that you guys have chosen a partner, it's your turn to be chosen."
Fang whistled again. Several basilisks swooped down in front of the students. They started walking through them. The alarmed students jumped back and parted from their partners.
"Don't be scared! It they wanted to eat you brats they would have done it already!" Fang shouted with a nasty smile on her face. "And stay with your partners dammit! Anyone caught breaking from their partner fails for the semester!"
Fang's students did as she ordered. They stuck together while the basilisks moseyed around them. To their surprise, the basilisks were very passive. The crawled circles around the pairs and sniffed them, sometimes putting their forelegs on them to smell their faces. There was one particularly large basilisk, much bigger than the others, that was taking an interest in Mace and Dames. The basilisk managed to push Mace down and keep him pinned using only one of its forelegs.
"H-hey! Get this thing off of me!" he cried.
Dames rolled up his sleeve while the basilisk, still on Mace's chest, examined him closely with its orange eyes. It removed its foreleg. Then it released a deafening cry into the air, and sat down, feeling very satisfied.
"Congratulations. You both got chosen first," Fang said.
Dames looked back her queerly while hauling up Mace. "Chosen? You mean by the basilisk?"
The other students started getting chosen as well. Basilisks would read students from multiple angles then, once satisfied by what they saw, would let out a cry and seat themselves beside them. There were a few peculiar ones like the silver-scaled basilisk that stood in front of Belle and Carolyn. It looked at Belle. Then it looked at Carolyn. Then it laid quietly on its stomach.
"Uh... Professor, isn't something wrong with this one?" Carolyn asked.
"Occasionally, unique basilisks will be attracted to unique students. One of you two must have triggered something instinctual in it for it to be drawn to you."
Belle gripped her cuffs. She and the basilisk exchanged looks.
Before long, most of the basilisks found a pair to claim. The only two left out were the ones that stood out the most – Saul and Gabriel. The boys looked at the tall limestones. Standing atop them still were more basilisks. None of them were choosing Saul and Gabriel. The basilisks that were crawling around the ground and had not chosen a pair, returned to the trees and stones without giving the remaining two so much as a glance.
"So... does this mean we fail?" Saul asked.
"I would assume so, yes," Gabriel responded. "Professor, what are we supposed to make of this? Have the basilisks decided that we aren't worth their time?"
"By the looks of it... It seems to be the opposite," Fang said while stuffing her hands in her coat pockets. "The basilisks are intimidated by you two. It likes how that silver one was attracted to those two girls earlier. Basilisks, unlike their dragon and wyvern cousins that tend to display some degree of conscious intelligence, are creatures that run on 100% instinct. Something about you two is making those instincts say 'Stay away from them.'"
Saul's eye twitched. This was likely his fault. Despite being constantly being befriended by mythics, he was still a god slayer. Post-Awakening creatures that relied solely on instinct would likely run in fear of his aura.
Gabriel smiled. "It's that all it was? And here I was thinking it was something serious."
Fang squinted. "Excuse me? You could flunk the class over this, little bull."
"If the basilisks are too intimidated to come to us out of their own inclination, then we'll just have to force them into submission."
Fang made a face. Then she keeled laughing.
"You're going to force a clan of basilisks to bow down to you? Even members of the Zodiac Family need to know when to stop beating their own drum," she said while wiping tears from her eyes.
"Don't worry. The Vejaranos don't need drums to make a beat."
Gabriel fixed his fingers so it looked like was holding a cigarette between them. Then he put his fingers to his lips. He whistled between them, but the sound was so low human ears wouldn't have been able to register it. The basilisks could, and their ears stood at attention. They let out an harmonious cry and flocked before Gabriel. Even the basilisks that had already picked students crawled toward Gabriel and Saul. When the Gabriel stopped whistling, almost every basilisk present was surrounding him and his partner. The only exception was the silver basilisk laying next to Carolyn and Belle. The rest were sitting near him obediently.
"Will this work?" he asked Fang.
Fang had her hands tucked in her coats pockets again. "Obviously not. Hypnotizing the basilisks isn't the same as being chosen by one."
Gabriel snapped his fingers. The basilisks turned their backs on him and Saul, returning to their previous places.
"OK. Any ideas for how we're supposed to pass the class then?" he asked his professor.
"I've got one idea. It means you two won't be able to take regular lessons with the rest of the students, though."
Saul nodded. "Whatever it is, I'm in. I'll lose a hefty amount of self-esteem if flunk out of a class on the first day."
Gabriel agreed. Fang sighed.
"Fine... There's a basilisk separate from these ones.. He's clanless and lives alone in the center of forest. The other basilisks are also scared pissless of him, and make it a priority to never get too close. Which is why I think you guys and him would make a perfect match. Head to the center of the stone forest, find him and make him yours. That's your first assignment."
Saul started thinking.
"This basilisk... is he violent?" Saul asked.
"Well, he killed an entire clan of basilisks when he found them creeping around his territory... So, yeah. You could say he has a bit of a temper problem."
The other students were intimidated just hearing about this clanless basilisk. They felt fearful knowing such a creature existed within walking distance. Saul and Gabriel were more or less indifferent about the situation.
"Professor Fang, how long do we have to finish this assignment?" Saul asked.
"Until the end of the day. You both fail if he doesn't claim you by midnight."
"Seems fair, but it means I'll miss my next class."
Gabriel started walking. "Your next class is Physical Reinforcement, am I correct? Judging by your performance during the initiation, I doubt you'll get left behind. Just forget about it for today."
Saul shrugged and followed Gabriel with his hands in his pockets. The two went deeper into the stone forest without a bit of hesitation. Some of the students thought they were brave. Others thought they were just being suicidal. Fang just grinned and repeated what she said earlier.
"This is gonna be fun."