Chapter 7.1: Twins
In the years after the discovery of magic, institutes had popped up all over the country at a breakneck pace. Several entrepreneurs had seen the opportunity, and invested in creating academies for the sake of nurturing the fledgling Maestros. Of course, not all of them survived, as the field of the Speculo and magic was too new. However, there was one academy that came out on top. A location in District A which managed to survive the strict guidelines through innovations in teaching. Funded and endorsed by Suzuki Akihiro himself, the Japanese National Institute of Maestros (JNIM) was responsible for the creation of a good fifth of the world’s greatest Maestros. It had continued to thrive throughout the two decades of the magic era and attracted students worldwide.
Currently, the Nishiyama siblings were standing in front of its towering silver gates which glistened in the morning sun. Whistling, Akane strained her neck to get a good look at the institute.
“Onii-chan, it’s smaller than I thought it would be.”
That was her first reaction looking at the humongous walls that were four times her height, the sturdy yet beautifully engraved bars of the silver gates, and the glass and steel school building that rose beyond them.
“Akane, if this is small, then what was our middle school?”
“Well yeah, but I thought it would be a lot bigger!”
“If this was any bigger, the sponsors would have holes in their pockets and no coins to mend them Even Otou-san can’t afford a tenth of this place as it stands, and we own a three story house with two baths.”
In his mind, Akira could already see the faces of the school’s board members drying up into a stone cold state in response to Akane’s remarks.
“I wonder if I’ll be able to realize my wish if I go to this school.” He wistfully spoke under his breath. However, it did not pass unnoticed; Akane had rather sharp ears.
“That’s if we get in, Onii-chan.” She grinned while poking his shoulder, but Akira continued to stare at the gates, abstracted of his surroundings.
“Yes. Yes, if we get in.”
Despite being A and S-ranked Maestros respectively, Akane and Akira were still required to take the entrance exam to JNIM. Taking his Speculo’s current state into consideration, the school board asking him to take the test wasn’t too far-fetched. It had been two months since the ceremony, yet no changes had appeared. Lost in such thought, Akira felt someone tapping his shoulder.
“Hey, aren’t ya that guy? Nishiyama Akira? The S-rank?!”
Surprised by the sudden, excited voice, the Nishiyama siblings turned around to a boy, about the same height as Akira, standing there. Long black hair tied into a ponytail, he wore casual clothing in a very disorganized fashion. His face, however, was a well-sculpted one and counterbalanced his blunt tone and clothing. Currently, the mysterious teenager was staring at Akira as if he was looking at a celebrity. Wait, technically, I AM a celebrity as one of the only S-rank Maestros. I should’ve considered that… Now that I think about it, wasn’t there an article about me this morning? Haa… Cursing himself for his carelessness, Akira was about to respond to the young man, when a similar voice came to his attention.
“Shun! Don’t just go up to people and tap their shoulders. Show some manners, and fix your clothes!” The voice berated the boy, whom it called Shun. Akira turned his head and felt a sense of deja vu. Standing behind Shun was another Shun, or at least someone who looked the same as him. Apart from his clothes, which were crisp and seemed clean, and his overall atmosphere, which was refined and polite. Looking towards Akira, the newcomer put on an apologetic smile. “Sorry for my brother’s rudeness.”
“Hiroshi, stick ya nose out of other’s business. And weren’t ya yammerin’ on and on about how ya’d like ta meet Japan’s second S-rank?”
“While that may be true, at least give them a proper introduction- ah, my apologies.” As he chided his brother, Hiroshi turned once more towards the Nishiyamas and gave a bow. “My name is Aki Hiroshi, and this is my twin brother Aki Shun. Nice to meet you!”
“Yo!” Waving his hands, Shun gave his greeting, “I hate honorifics, too much of a bother.”
“I see.” Akira bowed towards Hiroshi. “As your brother pointed out, my name’s Nishiyama Akira. Nice to meet you. I’m fine if you refer to me without honorifics.”
“And I’m Nishiyama Akane, his little sister. Nice to meet you!” Akane gave a short bow while introducing herself. “As for honorifics, just use whatever you want.”
“Knew it’s ‘em! Recognized ‘em immediately.” Shun widened his grin. “Told ya, di’n’ I Hiroshi? Yo, Hiroshi? Ya there?”
Hiroshi was standing stiff as a statue. His eyes were currently set onto Akane. Observing her, he felt a sense of interest and respect. Judging from her looks, she’s younger than us by 1- no, 2 years? To be given the right to synthesize at a younger age and gain an A-ranked Speculo, what an intriguing person. Not to mention, she got an MA category. Deep in thought, he showed no signs of moving. Elbowing his brother in the side, Shun took a look at Hiroshi. Seeing Hiroshi stare wordlessly at Akane, Shun’s grin was tinted with a bit of malice as a cheerful glint appeared in his eyes.