“Rufus is the world’s wealthiest individual. Some say that a single word from him is enough to change the Consortium’s political course.”
Nova points at the empty spot where Rufus stood just a few moments ago. “He disappeared! How did he do that? I sensed nothing!” She looks more than a little surprised. She pulls a faceless mask out of nowhere and puts it on. “No energy signature at all.” After looking around, she takes the mask off.
There are plenty of ways to pull off a vanishing act. Some are better, some are worse. Though, in most cases, the method can be identified, if the observer knows what to look for. That's not the case with Rufus's ability. I myself spent sleepless nights, trying to figure out how he does it.
I shrug and decide to share my suspicions. “It's his ability. His magical gift is almost non-existent, but his ability is extremely useful and versatile.”
“What is it?” Zane asks, equally befuddled.
I turn to face them. “I don't know for sure, so don’t blame me if it turns out that I am wrong. Rufus is wise enough to keep his mouth shut about his ability. As you surely know, abilities can be extremely powerful, but they are also easily countered if the opponent knows about them and is sufficiently prepared.”
I pause for a moment in order to gather my thoughts. “I think that he can influence and manipulate reality in a limited space around himself. It isn't pure spacial magic, since he can also make things appear or disappear at will. If I had to put a name on it, then I would call it a genuine wish-spell.”
Tristen raises an eyebrow. “Could it be possible that he has an extremely large spacial pocket which is stuffed with anything he might need? If he is old enough, he must have had a lot of time to prepare for any situation.”
I turn my attention to the man. He and his party took the exchanged words better than I thought. The whole talk about reincarnation must have some of them confused, but they are professional enough not to show it. Tristen voiced my own initial thoughts when I encountered Rufus for the first time.
Reaching up, I play with a strand of my hair. “It's possible, though I deem it as very unlikely. I had plenty of opportunities to observe his feats. As far as I can tell, he can conjure anything within his imagination. Any device, any material, as long as he understands how the device in question works. Or he can make it disappear, given that he manages to touch the item. Range is his only real weakness. Oh, and as you saw, he can also do it with his own body. Either he hides in another dimension, or he teleports. Though, I believe that the latter is the case.”
“That's cheating!” Kiara complains. “How can you beat someone like that? Such an ability is even worse than genuine magic.”
“As I already said, he is extremely powerful,” I repeat myself.
“Why doesn't he control the world?” Nova asks. “He could conjure as many power cores as he wishes.”
I huff. “He is the type who wants to play the game without cheating. And I didn't say that his power is limitless. For example, I have never seen him conjure something that's bigger than him. Or a device which requires a lot of power. We can be relatively sure that he won't pull an airship or a weapon-rated spell projector out of his pocket. In fact, I think that he has to provide the power for his creations by himself.”
“The ability is still too good to be true,” Nova mumbles. “If imagination and understanding are the only limiting factors and he uses his ability right, he is de facto unbeatable. Forget about a whole power core. He could flood the market with the raw materials and collapse this world's economy overnight.”
I shake my head. “He won't do it. You've heard his speech. He is of the sort who prefers balance and stability.”
“But let's postpone this discussion and get out of here.” I gesture at the path which leads back into our territory. “It's clear that we've overstayed our welcome.”
Zane takes Nova's hand and pulls. “Yes, that's right.” He glares at me. “Where were you when we needed your help with the Sociocrathy? Nova said that you would keep an eye on us.”
Nova rolls her eyes. “I told her not to intervene unless we meet someone like us.”
“Reckless!” Zane complains. He is clearly on the edge.
My granddaughter ignores him. Something else seems to occupy her mind, so I decide to ask. Using telepathy, I turn our conversation into a little training exercise for her. Additionally, I want to keep this private. 'Why are you so concerned? Is it about the Empire? Something happened when you met with their representatives.'
Nova uses the same skill to answer me, 'It doesn't concern you directly. I just need a way to get my hands on the prince's advisor.'
That surprises me. Why does she want the advisor and not the prince himself? 'Why?' I sent back.
Her thoughts are so cold and icy that I can even feel some of the transmitted feelings. Nova holds a deep grudge against the man. 'For petty revenge. He is the one who ordered my tormentor to take me in.'
'I understand. Whatever you do, make sure that it doesn't fall back on us while we are at the World Assembly. There are plenty of powers present who would be happy about the slightest excuse to attack us. Though I think that your fixation on the advisor is misguided. He is nothing more than a tool. The ones who have to die are those who ordered your abduction and approve of slavery.'
By now, I learned enough of Nova's motivations to influence her decisions to a certain degree. I am relatively sure that she abhors slavery and that her final goal includes the end of such practices in this world. Though, I can't imagine how someone can accomplish such a feat, aside from taking over the world.
Slavery is deeply rooted within the Empire. The Sociocrathy uses it to a certain degree. And while the Consortium doesn't use slavery within their own country, they have no problem with the production and selling of slave collars. In fact, they manufacture a large part of the slave collars on the open market.
'He may only be a tool, maybe even an unwilling one, but that doesn't matter to me. In order to quench my rage, I'll satisfy myself with what's within my reach... for now.'
Nova's answer surprises me. I just hope that she doesn't cause an incident. An open alliance between several of the powers may be the Mirai's end. 'What's your plan?'
'You will see.'
Despite several attempts, I don't get any more information out of her. Maybe I don't even want to know what she is going to do.
Once we reach our own area, I relax a little. It's much less likely to be attacked here. The rest of the day continues without further incidents until the night announces the end of the first day.