Calla Frosthaze was a male character that appeared in the popular book 'Fire & Ice'. They were young and sickly with a lot of ice magic but no real control over it due to so often being bedridden from illness. In the end, they died from poison when they mistakably ate food from the male protagonist's plate and couldn't fight it off.
In short, they were cannon fodder.
The truly horrible thing was that the protagonist was never in any danger of dying, as due to his potent and powerful fire magic, any poison that entered his system would simply be burned away. Calla died for nothing in one of the villain's schemes to kill off the protagonists. It was one of the things that made fans of the book cry in despair, because Calla had been quite a popular character due to his delicate looks and intelligent mind. It was just that the male protagonist was their cousin, so they inevitably ended up drawn into the villain's deadly grudge.
And Cale now inhabited that body.
The body that was destined to die from poison.
Cale stared at the woman as she sniffled to herself with tears of relief. If he remembered correctly, this was the mother of Calla that only showed up at his funeral without a tear to be shed, Mariana Frosthaze, a woman of noble standing who got into a verbal fight with the female protagonist who didn't think she was sad enough at the passing of her son. But if she was crying of relief just because he was outside, that probably wasn't the case.
She sniffled quietly again. "Come, my son, sit down. You need to be careful of your health."
She sat down on one of the chairs, her red dress swishing around her feet and Cale found himself sitting down as well before he knew what he was doing. The chair was comfortable, white wood with a pale blue pillow on it that he leaned back against. It was soft and Cale liked the color.
The woman stared at him intently with eyes wide and searching. Cale was unsettled by the intense look, but he did his best to bear it. He had seemingly taken over the body of her sick son, the least he could do was to get along well with her. "How do you feel? Are you sure you should be outside?"
Cale let his eyes drift back to the beautiful garden as he answered. "I feel alright, mother. And I want to be outside. It's a beautiful day, after all."
She stared at his eyes and said, "If you are sure. But don't do anything strenuous, dear."
Cale turned his head and looked at her for a moment before he smiled softly and replied, "I won't."
She smiled at him gently and stretched out her arm to squeeze his hand with a tearful gaze.
"Now tell me, how are your magical studies coming along?" she asked.
He gulped and mumbled an embarrassed, "Not that well, mother."
She searched his face and Cale got the feeling that she could see into his very soul. He really hoped that wasn't the case, because then she would know that something was wrong, but he couldn't think of anything else. In truth, he had no idea how Calla's studies were going, that was never revealed in the book, only that he had a hard time controlling his magic. Cale could only hope he had answered correctly.
"Hmm..." she started and continued with, "school will start up again come autumn. Perhaps we should hire you a tutor until then to get you caught up with the rest of your class. This is your final year after all and you're already two classes below your age."
"That... could be a good idea, mother."
The library was huge.
It spanned two floors, with bookcases pressed into every corner and a massive wooden table in the middle of it on the bottom floor. There was a staircase up to the next one with a railing along the floor on the second as you could stand and look down over the table. Hanging from the ceiling of the second floor was a gorgeous chandelier that lit up everything but the dark shadowed corners. The entire thing smelled of old books and Cale lost his breath as he stared out at the wonder of it. It was like something he could only dream of.
But he had no time to marvel at the beauty of it.
He had three days until the tutor would arrive. He needed to catch up on all of Calla's knowledge before that. He could probably get away with forgetting some things, but he needed to have at least a working fundamental base by then.
Which wasn't made any easier just because he had read the book.
According to the book 'Fire & Ice', the magic came from three parts. The body, the mind and the soul. Calla had lost two of those. Who was to say he could even use magic now? While the body had retained its innate ability to channel ice magic, it was a different soul that occupied it along with a different mind. Cale might as well have tried to learn to swim by watching movies. In short, not a good idea.
But it was all he had to go on.
He started at the basics.
Pure magical power came from the soul. It was shaped into a particular kind by the body and the mind determined how it was used. The body was the same so the kind of magic he used should be as well. He could learn how to shape it by use of a lot of reading, meditation and feigning of having a tendency to forget to his tutor. It was the soul that was the problem. From the books, by all accounts but control, Calla had been fairly powerful. But for all he knew, he had jack shit of power.
And as mentioned in the books, you could use special items to increase the potency of your power as well as its magnitude, but that wouldn't solve anything. Not to mention that he had no idea where he could find one of these objects and it would also need to be compatible, meaning of the same element as his. It was written in the books that the protagonist, amidst growing up on the streets because his birth family didn't want him, had found one with a fire element and this was where his fate had turned around. He'd also been gifted another one from an ancient fire spirit as a teenager.
There was about a zero chance that he would find one as well.
Cale collected as may books dedicated to magic as he could carry and brought them over to the table. He was alone in the library, which was a blessing because he did not want to also worry about anyone would think of his recent fanaticism when it came to studying.
He spread out the books, pulled the notebook and pen closer to himself and began.
Three days later, Cale was more than ready to go back to his own body.
The floor was cold against his back where he laid on it in his bedroom. Opened books and scrolls surrounded him and his fingers were stained black by the ink he used to write with. His clothes were crumpled and the entire room had been turned into a mess by the intensity of his research bend. The clock that the maid had delivered and put up on the wall over the door said the time was about eight, but because it was the height of summer and he hadn't kept track of time, he had no idea if that meant eight in the evening or morning. He'd gotten so entrapped by the books and texts that he had completely forgotten to keep any kind of schedule.
Regardless, it had probably been about three days now so the tutor could arrive at any moment. For lack of anything else to do, he supposed he should clean himself up and make himself presentable.
Calling himself a mess was an understatement.
Cale climbed to his feet and brushed his hair out of his face when it covered his eyes. Evidently, the tail had failed again. The brush the maid had given him laid unused on the bed and Cale now swallowed his pride and picked it up. He didn't have the time to doubt himself. He grabbed a piece of his white hair as well and started to slowly drag the brush through it. Thankfully, it seemed the hair wasn't predisposed to tangle and it didn't hurt too bad. It was still uncomfortable and odd though.
Once the mess he called hair was tamed to a decent degree, Cale changed into another pair of clothes, similar enough to the previous pair that he didn't mind wearing them. The last thing he did was pull on the pair of black heeled boots he still wasn't used to walking in.
While making the short trip to the bathroom he had unofficially claimed as his, he twisted his hair into a tail high on his head and tied it with a ribbon. He had finally gotten good at using the ribbon.
It took a while, but he was pretty sure he was finally getting used to this body. After all, he human mind was surprisingly adaptable.
And despite what it may occasionally seem like, Cale didn't actually have a death wish.
He was just kind of horrified by the idea of someone else inhabiting his body and playing out his life.
After visiting the bathroom, he went back to his room to try to make sense of the mess he had created in his frantic searching to prove this wasn't real by finding flaws in the texts. There had been no flaws. While he was sure that he was in the world of a novel, there had been no mention of these books and texts in it. Which led credit to that this world was somehow real. The question that made him feel trepidation though was, had the author created the world, or had they only written about it?
If they had only written about it, had they truly told the entire story?
But such thoughts only made his head hurt and his heart fill with anxiety. It was better for him to focus on one thing at a time. It made it easier to deal with the entire thing.
Once his room was at a level where he wouldn't be embarrassed when the maid came to clean it, he left to make his way downstairs. Somewhere there should be a dining hall where he could get food. Although he apparently had a maid, or more precisely, a servant, of his own, he had no idea how to summon her and ask for food. She usually just appeared magically when he needed something.
He wondered if there was some kind of magic involved with that as well.
Logically speaking, the dining hall should be on the ground floor. Cale stepped through the hallways carefully, taking gentle steps on the heeled boots. They were both easy and difficult to walk in, the body of Calla had the muscle memory of how to use them, but Cale had never used anything with heels before and so as soon as he thought about what he was walking in, he went from stepping effortlessly, to stumbling over his own feet. It was generally fine as long as he didn't think about it, but trying not to think about something usually made you think of it.
He was sure he made quite a hilarious picture to anyone that could see him.
He had a death grip on the railing the entire time he was on the stairs. It was both nerve-wrecking and nightmare inducing. He just couldn't stop seeing himself falling down them and breaking his neck. Forget about being poisoned by the villain, that would just be a sad way to go.
Finally, he made his way to the ground floor. Now all he had to do was find the dining hall.
Easier said than done.
Cale kept his steps as even as possible in someone else's body and wearing unfamiliar shoes as he walked through the various rooms and corridors. He had missed it before, but this house was like a freaking labyrinth.
It was all twisted turns and winding hallways.
Eventually, he managed to find a servant willing to point in the right direction and after that it was progressively easier to find his way.
It was still confusing though.
The dining hall, when he entered it, was like something out of an old historical movie. The large table with its many fancy chairs in the middle on top of a rich carpet dominated the room. The large windows along the entirety of one of the walls, from floor to ceiling, let in light and gave it an airy atmosphere. The chandelier from the ceiling with its many candles added a Victorian feel to it all. And the walls covered by a rich red color and old paintings of both portraits and landscapes added authenticity to it.
His eyes were wide open in wonder from trying to take it all in.
This kind of view was something you only found in museums and old castles.
Cale was entranced by it.
He made his way to the chair closest to Calla's mother and sat down.
Calla's mother, Mariana, looked to him and smiled. "The tutor will be here within an hour, dear, so make sure you have finished eating by then. You need to keep your health up and that means eating properly."
"Of course, mother."
Cale followed Calla's mother's lead and started to eat.
Cale sat still in the chair in the meeting room. The tutor had left a scant few minutes ago and Cale could already feel his mind imploding from all he was expected to know. Apparently, his feigning of forgetfulness wasn't bought and now he had no choice but to study like a mad man.
School started again at the end of august.
What the hell was he going to do?
The information he was expected to know, the magic that should come effortlessly, all of it was gone. He had none of Calla's memories, nothing to go off of but the contents of a book he only half remembered. He was so utterly screwed.
A month and a half was not nearly enough time.
Cale held in a groan and leaned his head back on the chair he was sitting on. At least the chair was comfortable. The tutor, Harald Hawthorne, an old man in his sixties, would be coming by four times a week until school started up again. During that time, Cale needed to take advantage of his knowledge to try to learn enough to get by. It didn't really matter if he actually managed to graduate or not, Calla was already two years behind, but sitting in a classroom and being interrogated on things he should already know was not on his wish list.
He had the feeling his ignorance would give him away in a heartbeat.
As such, all that was left for him to do was study until his eyes crossed.
His eyes drifted shut and he let his thoughts drift with them. This was never something he could have actually imagined happening to him in a million years. He was in somebody else's body, ok that he could... learn to deal with. But the magic, the spirits, the unknown forces governing this world? That was something else entirely. He'd grown up wishing that magic existed, he was pretty sure everyone had at some point, but he also knew it didn't and he couldn't easily lose that line of thinking. He kept forgetting that this body was used to it, had probably grown up learning about it and should know all about it. He should know how to use it, should know how to twist it to his will and create a miracle.
But he didn't and he didn't think he would ever be used to it.
The body was one thing, the human mind was adaptable enough that he would eventually grow to accept it, but the magic? The mysterious energy that was probably responsible for dropping him in this world? That was so far out there that he even kept forgetting to practice it.
And even if he did, what use did it have?
Calla hadn't died from a fierce battle, but poisoning and no matter how powerful he was, how much control of his ice magic that he had, it wouldn't change it. Magic hadn't saved him, so what use was it?
Why should Cale even bother to learn it?
His destiny was to die, though he hated it and would do absolutely everything he could to escape it, it was still something that he kept thinking about. This body would be dead within a year if things went according to script.
Cale would be dead within a year if things went according to the book and he hadn't had a chance to test if he could affect the plot. If he could change anything, or if he was doomed to die no matter what he did.
What if he couldn't change anything at all? What then? Try to make the best of the rest of his life and fervently hope that he went back to his real body when Calla died?
He didn't want to live while waiting for death.
Cale stood up from the chair and let his eyes take in the room. It was nicely decorated, with bookshelves lining the walls and he itched to open the books and learn more, but he needed to concentrate on books on the subjects he learned in school. Reading for the sake of reading could be done later.
Though he wasn't sure he would even have a later.
He left the room behind him and went to search for something—anything—else to do. He needed to get his mind off of everything for just a few hours, he needed to relax and rest. The constant worry that he would be revealed to be an imposter, that he would die, wasn't good for him. He needed to get his mind off of it all.
He went to the gardens.
Even now, several days after he first woke up in this body, they still gave him a sense of peace. The sun's rays hitting his skin, the smell of flowers filling the air... all of it was so restful. So peaceful. He could truly get lost in this feeling.
Cale stepped down from the porch and continued further into the garden, letting his eyes drift over everything. The colorful blooming flowers, the bright green grass and the sparkling blue pond. He breathed in the fresh air and felt the tension leave him. This was what he needed. This peace. Every day was so full of things he had to do to keep appearances up, there was no time to relax. No time to just take in everything around him and breathe. But he knew himself well enough to know that if he didn't take time to let all his worries flow off of him, he'd breakdown from all this bizarreness. From the truth of what had happened to him. And, right now, he couldn't afford a breakdown.
He was basically in the home of his enemy, if he let down his guard even once, who knew if someone would catch him red-handed.
Until fall arrived and he could get away to the academy, he needed to play the role of Calla Frosthaze. He needed to study until his eyes bled. Try to learn as much as he could about this world, and more importantly, his new life. At the academy, according to the novel, Calla didn't have any close friends' due to the age difference, so he should be able to relax more there. There wouldn't be as many expectations on how he should act.
How he should behave. Who he should be.
No, he would have much more freedom there, as long as he caught up with his studies.
Which was where the problem truly laid.
Cale wasn't a genius, but he had a good memory. He could memorize the maps, the terms and whole paragraphs of words. He could force himself to remember it all, but that didn't mean he understood it. He knew a whole bunch of words that he didn't understand the meaning of because he hadn't managed to find a dictionary in the library. He just hoped there was one somewhere, or he was going to have a lot of problems down the road.
What if he had to write essays? What if he had to actually explain something to the class? What if the teacher asked a question that he was required to answer? He'd make a fool of himself.
So the peace the gardens gave him was very much appreciated.
He embraced the feelings he got, feasted his eyes on the view and tried to forget, for a few short precious moments, that he was in another world. In another body and that he may never see his family again. That he may never read his favorite book again, watch his favorite tv show or see the familiarity of his room. His parents, his cousins, may all be entirely lost to him.
Somewhere out there, in another world, his body may be dead or occupied by another soul.
It was a lot to think about.
And a lot to want to forget.
Cale sighed and just stared up at the blue sky. It was bright, with very few clouds covering it and it was a comfort he hadn't known he needed. At least the sky looked like he remembered. At least that hadn't changed.
Everything else had.
A rueful smile flashed across his face as he sat down on the grass. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do now. This body was doomed. It had a deadline in the most literal sense.
What was even the purpose of his coming here? To save Calla's life? Or just an accident?
All of the options were depressing.
If he'd had something to go off of, a mission to complete... it would have been so much easier then. So much easier to keep up the hope that he would one day be home again.
But there was nothing.
Nothing but the silence of his own mind and a body that wasn't his.
When should he stop wishing this was all a dream?
Calla's mother, Mariana, was beautiful.
Her hair was a light blond color, unlike Calla's which was white, and she had a pair of gorgeous grey eyes that he had inherited. Her form was slender and the dresses she wore highlighted her curves. In the novel, she was described as a cold person that didn't even have the decency to cry for the loss of her only child. In contrast, Calla's father had darker skin and brown hair with hazel eyes that always seemed to smile. Calla's father was a couple of years older than his wife and had some grey mixed in with his hair, but he was still undeniably handsome and masculine. Honestly, Cale had to wonder where the white-haired pale skinned way too feminine Calla had come from.
The best he could hope for was probably an unmentioned previous marriage, right?
With the way they looked at each other in the lounge, he just couldn't picture Mariana being unfaithful. Or maybe Calla was adopted. He really hoped the answer was something simple, like maybe he just looked like a grandparent or something like that.
The last thing he needed was more drama.
Mariana looked away from her husband and caught sight of Cale staring at them. She smiled gently at him and Cale was hit by her ageless kind of beauty full force. "Darling, I heard from Harald that you're advancing very fast in your studies. He was most appalled the first time he left, but he seems much more satisfied now."
Cale nodded distractedly, his thoughts more focused on the upcoming test his tutor had assigned him. It was a pain. "Yes, I think I'm doing much better."
"So, you will be ready for school? You don't have to go if you don't want to, you can be homeschooled, you know? It's alright with us. We just want you to be healthy." Mariana explained and showed a worried face, her husband nodding along and agreeing with her.
Cale smiled pleasantly at them. "I want to go to school, mother."
Mariana's eyebrows furrowed as she bit her lip and frowned. "If you're absolutely sure, dear. But know that you can come back anytime, for any reason."
"Thank you, mother." Cale made sure his smile was warm, because truly, Mariana was a very kind woman and he was grateful, even if he didn't see her as his mother. And she didn't deserve to be worried about her son if he started acting strange. Not if she never had a chance to see him again.
Calla had died just a few weeks before he was supposed to graduate from the best magical academy in the country together with the protagonist. Once school started, Mariana may never see her son again. And Cale wasn't cruel enough to make it a bad memory.
Hopefully, once school started, he could be more himself. And if he managed to avoid the poisoning and not die, then any changes once he got back could be blamed on something or other that happened at school. Or just graduating.
It was for the best, really.
Mariana smiled at him and lightly hit her husband on the shoulder. "Isaac, you say something as well. Don't be all quiet."
The man nodded and said, in a deep voice, "Just make sure to be careful, son."
Cale smiled politely back. This was the first time he'd met Calla's father and he never showed up in the novel aside from the funeral. He had no idea what kind of person he was. "Thank you, father, I promise to do my best."
The man smiled back.
Cale reached to the table in the middle of them and took a white plate with a chocolate cake on it. He had discovered this treat just a few days earlier and he was already caught by it. It was delicious and reminded him enough of home that it helped cure the homesickness that occasionally hit him. He grabbed a hold of the spoon and started to gratefully eat it. After a whole day of studying, this was really a deserved treat. The tea he drank with it wasn't something that he was used to, he never drank it in his world, but he had to admit that it fit quite well with the strong chocolate taste.
It was amazing, how some things could transcend even space and time.
Chocolate was truly a universal thing.
He closed his eyes in sheer happiness at the taste. Would it be rude of him to ask the chefs for the recipe?
But then again, he was the young master, so they probably wouldn't be able to refuse.
In any case, it was delicious.
Calla's parents joined him in eating the mouthwatering cake and Cale let his thoughts drift again. It was a habit he really needed to break.
Another world, another body, another life.
Cale took another bite of the cake and savored the flavor. He wasn't sure what the right reaction was supposed to be in a situation like this. In manga, the characters always seemed to accept it awfully fast and then go on adventures exploring the new world. Sometimes getting harems and OP power as well. Or should he pretend that this was all a dream, and ignore anything that said otherwise? What was the right response?
Scream and pretend that anyone could hear him?
Don't be ridiculous.
Cale had no intention of just accepting all this without a breakdown or two, but he couldn't have them now. And further the more, if his body was dead, he had nothing to go back to. He had no desire to die, so if that was truly the case, the only thing to do was to make the best of what he had. Another body, another life, another world.
It still kind of seemed like a terrible joke.
He opened his eyes again and looked at Calla's parents. They acted like people, their expressions were as vivid as anything. It didn't feel like he was in a book. It didn't feel like he was just acting out a script, his words were truly his own. It raised his hope that he would be able to avoid his death. The question was how? The male protagonist was Calla's cousin, so he would probably be drawn into the conflict whether he died or not.
At least Calla's parents were kind.
As he watched Calla's parents flirt with each other, very obviously still in love, he wondered if he should be more concerned than he was. But it had been a few weeks now and he was finally starting to get used to it. He didn't get lost nearly as often anymore and he had even gotten better at walking in the heeled boots. It wasn't like he didn't miss his home, his world, his body, but he also understood that he couldn't just stop functioning because of this. He liked living, thank you very much. But maybe he should be looking desperately for a way to return home. Maybe he should spend all his focus, not on studies, but on searching to find out if anything like this had ever happened before. Maybe he should tell Calla's parents the truth in hope that they would help him in order to get their son back.
There was so many things that he should probably do instead of relaxing and eating cake.
But he wasn't and he was alright with it if that meant there was something wrong with him.