Brandon was still no closer to being able to see residual energy, and I think he felt relieved that Portentia couldn’t manage it either. Brenna, however, was doing splendidly. She was managing to do simple spells well and could do a few tougher ones. More importantly, she seemed to be getting a grasp of the meanings behind the complicated patterns that made the spells. I worried at how Emma might feel if Brenna surpassed her soon. Partway through the lesson, Brandon and Portentia had excused themselves to spar more. He did quite well when Portentia wasn’t moving too fast. Whenever she did, Alma called a point for Brandon, which got Portentia’s attention quite well. I was at a loss how Alma could tell when she wasn’t even watching them. Of course, there were many, many spells for me to learn still. Shortly after Mila announced from my phone that we only had five minutes left, I told everyone to hit the showers. “Sorry, but you really don’t have time. You don’t want to keep Aaliyah waiting. Girls, if you will.” stated Alma. Suddenly, water flooded into the room, leaving me wondering if I was about to drown, but the water receded as quickly as it came. “That will do nicely,” said Alma. “Totally works for me, Alpy!” exclaimed Aaliyah. Alma didn’t precisely jump backward, but I could swear she moved slightly.
The tiny girl hugged Alma’s waist as she smiled up at me. “Is everyone ready for training today?” she asked. I nodded, and said, “I suppose we’re as ready as we can be, considering that I have no clue what we’ll be doing.” The look of shock on Aaliyah’s face seemed completely sincere as she told me “But boss-man, sir, I gave you a memo and everything. You wouldn’t be neglecting my memos still, would you?” Looking to me, Alma said, “The memo simply stated ‘We’ll be preparing for the convention. Be ready.’ I hardly would even call that one a memo, considering it gives no more information than the note on the calendar.” Aaliyah gazed up at her and replied “But Alma… I don’t send the company memos to you. You only get the house ones, and James receives additional ones, being the boss-man and all.” Rolling her eyes, Alma said, “I severely doubt you really told him much more in a comprehensible manner if you told him more at all.” Aaliyah just grinned at her before saying, “If you’ll all come to the ballroom, we’ll totally get started! You wouldn’t believe the time I spent preparing for our preparations!” Ignoring Alma’s muttered “No, I wouldn’t.”, Aaliyah hopped onto her back and got a piggyback ride to the ballroom.
First off, Aaliyah had Mila bring up contracts for the job and encouraged us to read them thoroughly. Only Alma bothered, taking several minutes despite her speed. The rest of us just signed off, trusting Aaliyah not to be tricking us. Training started out as an insanely detailed video depicting us moving through the convention center. The video was quite obviously tailored for the room, as it used all eight displays in such a way that I felt as if I was standing in the convention center. The audio depicted the echo of the enormous room as erected displays. As we were shown doing a dance number ― seen in the video from the view of the stage where we could see ourselves on a large screen ― I realized there was a character I didn’t recognize portrayed by Portentia. She wore a blood red cloak and matching outfit of leather with a cracked, handheld mirror displayed on the chest, as if as a symbol. She was called “Calamity”. “Do you play Ancient Tribes of Earth?” I asked her in a whisper. I didn’t remember she was deaf until she didn’t respond, her eyes scanning the various screens. I was turning away from her to watch another screen when she asked “Do I really get that outfit?” I turned back to see her staring up at me with an expression of hope. “You’ll have to ask Aaliyah if you get to keep it, since this is her show.” I replied. “Calamity. I really like that name. I could definitely be a Calamity to evildoers,” she said, staring once more at the screens. “I thought she would. I made her a character already.” explained Aaliyah after tugging on my sleeve from Alma’s back to get my attention.
The video continued, showing some of us selling merchandise, others modeling with fans, and still others out guiding people to our section. If the displays were really as complicated as they appeared in the video, I wasn’t entirely certain how we would put them together in time. Almost as a response to my question, the video changed to a tutorial. First we were shown Alma casting a spell that completed the construction in seconds, and I hear Aaliyah whisper “Did you catch all that?” Alma looked annoyed as she replied “Of course.” Then Aaliyah asked us to follow along as we were shown the dance steps, which took up several hours of practice for most of us. I mostly had my part down by the end, but I was nowhere near as flawless as Alma and the twins. Brandon, Brenna, Emma, Jarod, and Portenia had a long ways to go, which made me wonder if dance lessons should be part of the regular routine in case a customer required any of them to dance in the future. I really was grateful to mother for insisting that I learned. Well, Regina was probably the instigator in that matter. I imagined that she would enjoy doing this, although she might be disappointed that she didn’t get to do any painting for it. My thoughts were quickly interrupted when Marco came into the room with a serving cart filled with food. He left soon after with promises of more to come. I was famished and needed the break.
As we ate, I couldn’t help noticing how even after the workout Alma seemed perfectly poised with not so much as a hair out of place. Did she never sweat? Neither Ai nor Mai seemed anymore worse for wear than Alma, making me wonder if they used some sort of magic for appearance’ sake. Alma did seem to spend a great deal of time under immense scrutiny in her position. At least, I assumed she did given the number of pictures and videos Mila was able to find of her at events. When she caught me looking at her, she bore a questioning look, her eyebrow raising just a hair. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to stare. I was just thinking about something.” I told her, not wanting to ask just yet. A smile played at the edge of her lips for a moment, and then she was talking with the twins and Aaliyah again in what might have been Japanese. After lunch concluded, we were guided in some vocal work before being asked to sing, save for Portentia. Aaliyah still encouraged her to learn the lyrics, but asked her just to lip-sync. We practiced three different songs with varying degrees of success before Aaliyah had us attempting to do the songs with the dance. I wasn’t remotely confident in my performance, but Aaliyah seemed happy enough with everyone. I didn’t see how we were supposed to learn everything with so little time, but I wasn’t going to argue with Aaliyah about it. She might well have something planned that I would never consider.
We relaxed for a late dinner and made plans to play Ancient Tribes of Earth some afterward, since Portentia needed to learn the game at least a little before helping at the convention. Well, that was my reasoning for it. Alma stopped me in the hall, asking to speak with me before we played. At first, I worried that she still thought I might be upset over her deception as Eseld, but the conversation had an unexpected start. “James, I would very much like to give you private lessons in magic and martial arts. I feel you’re quite ready to begin training with me and have much to learn from it. Do you accept?” she asked. I hesitated only a moment before telling her “Of course. I would be grateful for more instruction.” Perhaps, this was how she planned for us to get to know one another better. I couldn’t risk telling her “no”, not when we were just starting to get along. Plus, she was extremely gifted in everything as far as I could tell. Well, maybe saying she was gifted with social skills might be a bit much, considering what she did to me. I knew the twins were far superior at magic to me still, and they seemed to be under her tutelage. Therefore, I would be blessed to learn anything she was willing to teach in that area. I really had no clue how talented Alma was at fighting honestly, since I could never even follow her movements when she sparred with the twins. I was willing to bet that she was incredible though. One look into those violet eyes always made me feel she was incredible.