The Dark Secret of Magic
By Muramoto Hana
Recently the days started to pass faster. Bright sun blends my eyes while I am looking into the blue sky. No clouds. Only the brutal heat of the midsummer.
It has been almost three years since I left Yumeno Niwa High. A time that I always look back to with happy memories. Yet it feels as if I did not really change much. After my graduation I chose quite the conservative path. A job at the local magic police office. An institution that enabled me to seem as if I was working a normal job. Still I am able to stay a part of the magic society.
The old headmaster always said, "the most important characteristic of a good magician is responsibility". A line that I did not really grasp back then. But now I feel as if it has become the principle of my daily routine.
As long as I can remember, I have always loved the peace here. It is not just home because I grew up in this area. Not even because I would often play in the playground a few blocks away while my mother was watching. Not even the fact that I spent all these years in local schools. It is my home because that is what it feels like when I walk the streets. And when the smell of the nearby park fills my nostrils with joy.
The idea to start a career in which I would help to preserve this peace was not my first thought. Uncertainty filled my mind after I graduated. The endless sight onto all those possible ways. An ocean where each step towards the future might result in a different ending.
At first I wanted to join the Magic Crystal Research Society short MCRS. Learning more about the secret which separates us magicians from all the other humans. Researching all the different types of crystals that exist in this world. The variety of magical skills. Ultimately where magic even comes from and why only a few of us are able to use it.
But it should not turn out well for me. In the end my scores were not good enough to get me a seat at a magic university subject related to the science of magic crystals. Even a job in which I could at least learn the craft of laboratory preparation was denied to me. In an interview they told me that my overall profile does not fit their 'standards'. And my rather uncommon chrysolite crystal and wind magic would do better at something more physically active.
I am not sure if I had been mocked due to the way my application was declined. Maybe the reason for my disapproval was something completely different. Like the fact that I am not a man as almost everyone that worked there.
The reason I ended up where I am now was more a coincidence. In contrast to today's weather the only water that ran down my skin was melted snow. The normally empty sideways packed with white stuff. Too cold to go outside. Yet it did not feel so chill because the temperature was at a low that it did not reach in years. It was the frosty breeze that blew into my face. And that almost transformed the melted snow into ice.
It was an early morning. Early since I had to make sure that the path in front of my parents house was free. An ungrateful exercise necessary to ensure no one would trip on a snow covered ice plate. In a hurry—I did not want to spend too much time in the cold—I went to the cramped stash. Then I put out our snow shovel. The old thing had been developing some rust over the past years. But this time I noticed that it showed its age even more. "Maybe it is time to get a new one," was what I thought.
I started cleaning the sideways. At first quite eager. Then at normal pace. Soon I noticed how quiet it was. Normally you would have heard the sound of nearby driving cars. Maybe even a few smaller animals in search of food. Or a cat from the neighborhood that passes by. Yet it seemed as if it was just me and the winter. A feeling that somehow made me feel melancholic and slightly uneasy. Like a bad premonition.
The short moment that I remained in thoughts was suddenly interrupted by a man's scream. It startled me so much that I almost lost my stand on the uneasy ground that consisted out of snow and ice.
"What in the world... I knew that it was a bad idea to wander around at this time," the man babbled to himself. He tripped on the sideways a house further away. Instinctively I made a few steps towards him to help him up. But he was already getting up from the snowy sideways. His scream gave me the impression he hurt himself. Yet he did not seem as if he had a scratch nor that he fell too unexpected.
For a short moment our eyes met. It was as if the slim man inspected me. Then he settled for a more confined facial expression. With his black coat I guessed him to be a businessman or a scientist. Yet I settled for the latter because the middle long brown was quite disheveled.
"I have to apologize. It seems I startled you but do not worry. The snow absorbed the shock of the fall," he said with a deep but calming voice.
"A-ah I am glad. I thought you had hurt yourself. Are you sure everything is fine?" I asked him out of affect.
While I was trying to be polite I felt as if I had seen something in front of his legs. It was almost too small for me to see with just my eyes. Only the slightly yellow reflection of the street lanterns made it sparkle golden. It was a magic crystal. Only its tip and a small portion of its body were visible to me. The crystal had to be his. I was sure because I would have noticed it at some point before.
"Yes, I am sure. You do not have to worry. Sometimes bad luck hangs on you without a specific reason," he said as he bent down to pick up the crystal. My strained look must have given its location away. Yet he did not seem too worried.
Normally it would be a big deal to give out details about magic to unsuspecting people. But they are not able to see magic. And magic crystals overflow with it. Even if they were visible to them, magic crystals just look like regular gemstones. They are not very different in shape from ordinary ones. However, some of them are as large as a normal crystal would be of inestimable value. Only strange would be to keep such a large one with you.
I honestly had mixed emotions when I saw the crystal. First of all I did not expect to meet a magician so early in the morning. Nor did I think of meeting someone at all. Still he appeared out of nowhere. And despite the fact that he looked trustworthy and charismatic, I felt slightly anxious. Most magicians were of sincere nature but you should not be careless. After all a moment can be enough to get attacked. Magic might be able to fulfill wonders, yet it also was a weapon. More dangerous than anything in this world.
"It seems that I gave away my cover. Right now I am kind of on an …investigation. You could say that I am a magic investigator. So do not worry."
I was unsure if I could believe him. His words felt bland and fishy. Nevertheless his charismatic type slightly filled me with trust. And when he gave away a slight chuckle I did not really question it anymore. Actually I hoped that he would quickly move on so that I could finish my task and go back in. The cold breeze was almost unbearable.
"I am sorry, I did not want to stare too much. It just is unusual to meet someone of the same kind at this hour," I said slightly flustered, "If everything is alright, then I should not keep you from continuing your investigation."
"You are right. Unfortunately some things can not wait too long. Still I appreciate your concern. After all it was not your fault to begin with. And I am actually grateful for your effort."
For a moment he thoughtfully stared into the long empty street. Light cones of street lanterns. Alternately they illuminated the dark sideways. And snow that rode in the wind sparkled when crossing them.
"In the society we live in every commitment is a gift. It helps us to stay together firmly. Yet the negligence of an individual can cause damage that is greater than what a few can build up. Something gives me the feeling that you are a sincere person. Maybe it is just my delusion. I do not know if this helps you or if it sounds weird. My impression is that this society needs more people like you. That help out each other despite having to go out of their way."
Another short laughter. I was a bit dazzled by his small monologue, yet I appreciated those well-meant words.
"But what am I saying. It obviously is not the time to speak too much. I have to take my leave."
Politely I said goodbye and he walked off. He did not really seem to be in a hurry. But I felt that the situation was slightly awkward and he probably felt like this as well.
While I finished off the last meters of the tiny snow mountains I had to think about his words. In a sense I agreed with him. Yet I felt that they were more than just a well-meant remark. I also felt criticism and that made me wonder what kind of person this man really is. Maybe he was on bad terms with society. Maybe it was just his anger about the incident before. I did and still do not know. But the words worked inside of me and gave me the idea to apply to the magic police. Of course it was not solely due to this that I actually got into the magic police department at the Johuko district. Still it was what gave me the actual idea.
A few days later I applied to the prefectural police academy. I asked the national magic education direction to provide me a contact. This way the process would be secure and my degree confirmed. It did not take much time until I got a reply along with a few other rejections. But in this case it was a reply that actually made me smile.
With the successful application in my hands I only had to take another exam. Afterwards I enrolled into the academy. At first sight there was no real difference between me and other cadets. Yet I was a magician and only a few others as well. To ensure that this fact remained unnoticed the magicians had to attend two courses together that also regular cadets had to attend. Combat training and criminal investigation. This way the magic part was separated from the normal education. Although it seemed as if it had been randomly selected.
From the beginning I felt comfortable with the selection of my courses. I do not have much problems learning new things. Bad grades in high school were solely the outcome of low effort. It was harder to get used to being with regular cadets in the facility. Of course magicians stick with their kind. Then again you still had to work together with regulars in some courses. Something we also had to get used to before doing real police work.
I remember my first day quite well. The weather was similar to today. Not as hot but the same clear blue sky and dry air. I stood up early because of the train I had to take. Then again I wanted to be perfectly prepared. I got up, collected my uniform and got under the shower. To make sure my long brown hair would not get wet I tied them up. After all it would have been a pain to dry them before going out.
When I was finished I took a moment to have a closer look at my face. My green eyes were still small from sleep deprivation even though I had showered. I was wondering how to apply my makeup or if I even needed some. Since it was the first day I went for something unpretentious. I did not want to create too much contrast to days on which I had combat training.
For breakfast I made some rice in the rice cooker and beat a few eggs. I also added a toast and had some green tea. Then I took my luggage and left. I felt a bit sad because I would not live there for a while. My parents already said me goodbye the evening before. Of course I would visit them once in a while.
The train station is not too far from my parents house so I was able to get there by a short walk. It is not very big, just two stops for each side one. The roof is quite plain, seems old and already developed a little bit rust. The train arrived at 06:45AM and it took me about forty-five minutes to the academy including another short walk. The opening ceremony for new cadets began at 8:00AM. So I still had another thirty minutes until it started.
Unlike my expectation the train was not as cramped. Some seat rows were empty and it was possible to look to the other end of the train compartment. My view slid over the fields outside while we were moving. There are quite a few fields between my parents house and the academy. Back then they were all filled with crops. In between trees that wore unripe fruits.
After about twenty minutes I noticed a young woman entering. It was not the fact that she differed from other people. It was the uniform she wore and that matched mine. "She must be a cadet too," I thought and gave her a short glance. Her hair color was a bit darker than mine. It was short hair up to the beginning of her neck. Yet her bangs were a little too long. The navy blue uniform with quite a few golden buttons made her look like a shy but hardworking person.
At first I did not really want to engage with her so suddenly. She looked after a comfortable seat in the quite empty train. Then she spotted me sitting alone on the left side relative to the drivers direction. I felt as if she was hesitant at first but suddenly built up some courage to walk towards me.
"Excuse me for asking so suddenly but I was wondering if perhaps you are a new cadet too?" she asked. Her focused expression had turned into an interested and friendly one.
The question came indeed sudden and I did not expect her to ask so boldly. Still I also was a bit happy because she was the one initiating. Something I had problems with back then.
"A-ah yes, I was already asking myself the same when you entered… Why don't you sit down here," I wanted to make a good first impression on her. It was helpful to have someone else around. After all, I did not know what I had to expect.
"My name is Kido Chiyoko. Pleased to meet you," I said and gave her my hand.
"Omura Satsu, pleased to meet you as well," she replied with a big smile while she was shaking my hand. Then she sat down next to me. A faint smell of cherry blossoms was lingering in the air.
We had a very lovely chat in the remaining time of the train ride. Satsu-chan was from Kanbaya, a small and calm town that extends in front of the train station where she boarded. With her twenty years she was two years older than me. Had two little brothers. One that already went to middle school and another one in elementary school. Her parents run a small ramen shop where she had helped out in the past. Yet they supported her decision to become a police officer. The shop should not hold her back and Satsu-chan always had been an advocate of justice, they said.
Unlike my first impression, she was quite talkative. Not only that, Satsu-chan seemed amazingly independent and grown up. A characteristic that I did not grant myself back then. When she talks you automatically feel at ease. A warm and friendly atmosphere surrounds her. I always loved those little chats with her.
When the train finally arrived we got up from the red seat row and waited for the people in front of us to exit. I told Satsu-chan a few things about myself. About my parents who both have very busy jobs. My mother is a secretary at a middle class company. My father is an engineer that often works on-site.
I wished to be able to tell her more about myself. Especially the part about the magic. Yet I did not know if she was a magician too. The only way to find it out was to wait. If she was placed in the same courses as me then it was safe to continue. Instead the conversation drifted towards pets. I talked about our pet rabbits and showed her a few pictures I had taken with my smartphone. Satsu-chan obviously was quite jealous. Her face was easy to read. Contrary to me she had to take care of two little brothers and that she would gladly trade-off for Riki and Ninjin.
We arrived a little bit later than I had planned but there still was time. The scenery left quite the impression on me. I had already seen the campus before. Yet it felt much larger than I could remember. Numerous cadets also were under way to the campus. People that came from every direction. Some that arrived by themselves. Others that had formed little groups like us. Even their age varied ranging from my age up to about thirty. Only the uniform was the same.
The campus was divided into different sections and buildings. On the left there was a medium sized building that was the sports hall. Right behind it a large sports and track field. Fitness and sports education was a large part of the training after all. On the right side there were dorms in which the cadets had to live for the next year. The buildings were cuboid and the inner yards were greenspaces. The dorm in the center also contained a few class- and club rooms. Still the most important things would occur in the large main complex that was lying in front of us. It was not nearly as high as the dorms and not as large as the sports field. But it kept the campus together.
Satsu-chan and I entered the sports hall where the opening ceremony would be held. Hundreds of cadets already filled the seat rows that spread in front of us. The seats were made of light brown wood. The cushion covers were colored in strong red. In a way they seemed quite noble. At the end of the hall there was a small stage. A wooden lectern had been put in its center. Nearly all eyes were focused on it and I felt the other's excitement along with mine.
After a while most of the seats were filled and it seemed that everyone had arrived. Our seats were a bit to the right of the center. I did not want to sit in front but so that we were able to see enough without extra effort. Then it suddenly became quiet. The ceremony was about to start.
A small and quite aged man stepped forward. He was a bit smaller than me, around five feet and two inches. His hair was almost gray but you saw that it once had been black. Tiny wrinkles filled his face and his eyes seemed to be nearly closed.
Slowly he went up the wooden stairs at the stage's right end. Then he took place behind the lectern where a small platform had been placed. It was necessary so that people of his size would not disappear behind the wood.
The man started to clear his throat, then he began his speech:
"I am grateful to be able to welcome each one of you that has assembled for this special day. My name is Yoshimoto Akira and I am the director of Masayoshi police academy. Before I begin my speech, let me sincerely apologize to take the time of you. I am aware that today's weather is marvelous. Still there are a few words that I want to befit you with.
Today we have assembled to commemorate a special day. It is a day where many young, honest, righteous and sincere people come together. In the life of most of you it will be a unique experience. The beginning of a new era in the life of each one of you. Today is a beginning when you will sail into the unknown to start a new journey. And hopefully all arrive in a safe haven again with much new experience, motivation and knowledge..."
Yoshimoto-san indeed befitted us with quite a few words. His voice sounded deep but it still was pleasant to listen to him. He started to talk a bit about the academy, introduced us to some of the staff. Then he shared a memory of his time at a police academy with us. An episode that was almost too long, so that one of the instructors had to make him remember not to go overboard. After he was finished he informed us about the next steps. The ceremony then ended with the anthem of the academy. Everyone sang along to the resounding music and my time at the police academy finally began.
Over the course of the next year many things happened that had a huge impact on me. During this time I also learned to know many new people that all shared the same goal. One of those people was Koyanagi Hikaru, my roommate in the dorms. Next to Satsu-chan, who became my best friend, she was the person I spent most of my time with. Hikaru-chan was a slender and rather cold looking person. Nonetheless there are not many that could match her beauty. Beautiful long black hair and a refined personality. Her clothing style was often traditional. You would imagine her to be the sheltered daughter of an important person.
Our relationship was quite respectful and it took her some time to warm up to me. Hikaru-chan had been growing up in a rather poor family. Her father was a construction worker and her mother worked at a small café. They were living in a tiny apartment in Daitoshi, a large town that is about two hours away from the academy in the opposite direction of my home. The monthly rent was quite high and the living conditions seemed very limited from what she told me. She was an only child, the money did not suffice for another one.
Nonetheless there was another thing that made our relationship different to mine and Satsu-chan's. It was the fact that she was a magician while Satsu-chan was a regular cadet. We noticed so when we met up for our first course in criminal investigation. It was still the first day, Hikaru-chan and I were both surprised when we found out that we had to go to the same course room. I found out that her magic is "Fluid Manipulation". It sounds disadvantageous because you firstly need a fluid, yet it is extremely dangerous with that prerequisite fulfilled. Being able to shoot water at a high velocity or using it like a remote hand, the possibilities are endless. On top of that Hikaru-chan had a blessed emerald crystal. One of the most powerful magic crystals that also enabled her to use magic outside of a magic district one time. It was an uncommon sight. Not many were able to wield one at this age. Furthermore it was incomprehensible for me why she chose to become a police officer with a crystal like that. After all rare crystal users often received scholarships for various high ranked carriers. Her ulterior motives were a mystery for me at first.
Of course she was not the only magician I met in the academy. We came together in the criminal investigation course for the first time. I had estimated that we were about seventy. Later I found out that 112 magicians started their career as a police officer at the academy. Back in school this was normal practice. Yet in this academy with the regular cadets, it felt unreal.
In criminal investigation we got introduced to criminology and the profession of policing. A great part of this was the concept on how to research in the crime and justice sector. I gained an understanding of the criminal justice system and studied topics covering the management of contemporary issues in policing. My favorite part was the research for effective practice and multi-agency working. I always admired the practical aspect of a police officer's work. The theory was an important part as well. Still my focus was lying on the future and what awaited me yet. In this regard I also loved the combat practice. I was a fairly active person that enjoyed exercising from time to time. That was why I did not have many problems pushing myself to my own limits. Nonetheless the training as a cadet was harsh. Especially those that were not as fit had to exercise on days off to catch up and be able to pass practical tests.
Hikaru-chan was one of them. Even though her magical powers and understanding did not seem to have any bound. This eventually led us to work out with Satsu-chan in our free time. Most of it was basic fitness practice like running. Sometimes we also tested each other in martial arts. Only on a few days when Satsu-chan was not around we used the sports hall to practice magic. Though the magic training with Hikaru-chan actually helped me more than her. It was kind of a symbiosis that the three of us created. Satsu-chan's hardworking nature made it easy for us to stay motivated in every situation. Furthermore she did not seem to lack anything. She was fit and capable of using martial arts very well. That must have been the outcome of her helping out at her family's shop so much and years of practice in a nearby karate dojo. Because of this the three of us chose to practice karate and judo as our main martial arts.
Hikaru-chan had some prior knowledge in martial arts as well. She had been practicing kendo until high school. As a result her judgment and analytical abilities during a fight were very fast. Still she lacked close combat skills with bare hands which were necessary to restrain criminals. I on the other side had learned a few basics in high school. My magic is to enhance my physical actions with the power of the wind. I am able to use magic from afar, but not as effective as in close combat. Therefore learning to handle fights with my bare fists was a given. Only in fights with long range magicians my magic's weakness showed up. In the end Satsu-chan and I helped Hikaru-chan to improve her combat skills and on the other way around she helped me with the long range problem. Her water manipulation magic was the ideal opponent for this.
The time in the academy passed faster than I had imagined at first. With our group of three any problem seemed solvable and eventually we were able to graduate. Next to the final exams we had to complete a lightweight report on a subject of our choice in criminal investigation. As the subject was shared with others a lot, it was not recommended to write about something magic related. I chose to make "The Analysis of Witness Testimonies In The Context Of Critical Incident Investigations" my key topic. The professor recommended it to me instead of a topic about physical action. Special tasks of the magic police are more action-heavy than regular ones. Yet they are rare and the investigation of testimonies was the larger part of a magic police officer's work. In this regard the analysis of those can be compared to such after critical incidents. Magicians were a minority and a regular's testimony on magical activities chaotic and uncertain most of the time. Having their memories erased afterwards it was even harder to investigate.
"A small bakery in Toimachi caught fire shortly after it closed, at 7:20 p.m., at Wakimichi street. Bypassers had reported a small explosion. The forty seven year old shopkeeper was trapped inside of the fire and could not be salvaged alive. The fire had to be extinguished by the local fire force. After the fire the terrorist organization Omoikane claimed to be behind the possible attack in anonymous reports to several media companies. The police of Toimachi are searching for witnesses and today's visitors to the shop."
The report came from the TV that Hikaru-chan watched very focussed. From the first day we were living together I had noticed how she awkwardly absorbed every report. I did not know if she just wanted to stay updated or if her goal was to become a living encyclopedia. Nonetheless the report was about one of the recent attacks by the terrorist organization that called itself "Omoikane". In Shinto Omoikane is the god of wisdom and intelligence. His name means "serving one's thoughts". It is a disgrace that terrorists that perpetrate lowly attacks on poor residents use the deity's name.
Over the course of two years before the graduation, Omoikane had ascended from a group of seemingly bandits to a professional terrorist group. Until then they had perpetrated about fifteen attacks. All of those in low frequented areas. Often with just one or two victims. Their motives are unknown and their targets seem randomly chosen. The pattern of their attacks are similar as well. Fires or small explosions that make it seem like accidents of old housing infrastructure. When the fire force or police arrive, the perpetrators are nowhere to be seen and their traces are nonexistent. At first the media thought it to be a joke. A small attack claimed by an unknown terrorist organization with only one causality at a hot spring hotel. They had ruled it as mugging because there were no clues for political, religious or even ideological motives. Still the attacks had continued and a few theories about their motives had been researched.
I do not know what Hikaru-chan thought back then. If she was shocked by the accumulation of the attacks or fascinated by the professionalism of the group. I could relate to both of those because I felt similar. The randomness of the attacks awakened a strange uncertainty in my heart. It made me feel as if Satsu-chan parent's ramen shop could always be the next target. I did not want to think about it but my mind did not let me rest.
"Do you know what I am asking myself?" Hikaru-chan pensively asked me. Her tone felt slightly insecure and she still focussed on the TV without looking into my direction.
"If a crime happens without any traces or motives and totally randomly. Will they ever be able to catch them?"
"I do not know. Can we even trust the official reports? What if there is more intel that is not published because of tactical reasons?" I tried to ease her uneasiness even though it disturbed me as well.
"I hope you are right. Still I wish there were some precautions that could be set in place to prohibit those attacks. There is no way you can protect small places from professional criminals. Robberies happen anywhere every day. It really is alarming that they use this fact."
"Yes, it makes me uncomfortable to imagine that we might have to handle such cases soon," I said slightly worried. The recent development was different than in the past. Hikaru-chan and I often exchanged our thoughts. We both knew that the outlook was more grim than the academy made it seem to be. Especially small crimes had changed and the amount of professionality was alarming. Our professor in criminal investigation noticed an analogue development for magical crimes as well. Even though the schools greatly contributed to the fact that magicians rarely chose a wrong path. The possibilities through emerging technologies made it easy to recruit social outcasts.
Suddenly our small chat was interrupted. Someone loudly knocked on the door and it felt as if the light brown floor was shaking. The shelf was almost falling apart with Hikaru-chan sitting right beside it on her futon.
"How long are you going to stay in there? Did you forget, we have to get to the ceremony early! They want to take a few group photos before the graduation ceremony," a loud voice resounded from behind the door. It obviously was Satsu-chan's.
At that moment I remembered that I was in the midst of getting ready for the ceremony. Hikaru-chan had not even begun. She was still sitting there seemingly shocked that she forgot it while watching the TV in front of her.
"I can not hear you?! Come on let me in so that I can help you to get ready. I knew that you two are a lazy bunch that would not make it in time."
I hesitantly let Satsu-chan in. She was quite mean if something did not go according to her plan. Even now I do not want to recall how she dragged Hikaru-chan out of her futon right into the bathroom. I felt like being in one of those movies with ghosts and demons. Nevertheless it was a wonder how quickly she dressed up Hikaru-chan. At the same time I made sure that most of our luggage was prepared so that we could move out fast. After all we had to empty our rooms when the ceremony ended. The new cadets would move in a few weeks later to step in our footprints.
Together we went our way to the sports hall. I had a similar feeling than a year before. Only this time I was excited about what would happen after I had to leave the academy. Additionally the day of the graduation was also when we were assigned a police station. For this we had submitted our preferences before. It was clear to us that Hikaru-chan did not have a set preference. She and her parents had agreed on that. Hikaru-chan wanted to see something new if possible and to help out where it was necessary. However, Satsu-chan and I wanted to stay near our hometowns if possible. It was obvious that one of her reasons to become a police officer was to protect her own family. Even if it was only symbolic. She still wanted to stay near them. Being able to often see her brothers while they were still in school.
I also wanted to be close to my family. My hometown was and still is very important to me. The prospect to watch over those that accompanied me throughout my life was lovely. Then again I was a bit afraid of moving into a whole new area. In my first years as a police officer I wanted to make sure to catch up with the daily routine. "Maybe I will move to another station later on," was what I thought.
During the ceremony I was overrun by emotions. It actually started when we took the first group photos. They were mostly photos of our minor course groups. While the director was speaking I remembered all those moments that I happened in the past year. Knowing that the three of us would not be able to spend our days like this. Yet with the hope that we would meet as often as we would be able to.
After we got our diplomas we went out to take the last pictures. A photo that we three made by ourselves is still standing on my desk. Hikaru-chan was assigned to a police station in Shinsui, a town far in the west and near the sea. Satsu-chan became a new police officer in Ashi, which is twenty minutes away from Kanbaya. And I got into the police department at the Johuko district in my hometown Hajimeni. I had indeed sailed into the unknown and returned to a safe haven with much knowledge, experience and good friends. The director was on mark with the hope he passed us in the opening ceremony. Now another world full of possibilities extended itself in front of us.