“What's important – is for us to be aware that our actions have repercussions.”
The ranks of spectators dissolve into chaos as they realize what they have just witnessed. I myself don’t know how to react. The issue isn’t that Nova killed her opponent in a formal duel. Such things happen and are actually quite common, even with fairly tame rules as were used in this encounter.
As it goes, a single successful curse can mean the end if the victim can’t identify and dispel it in time. Serious injuries are quite common among duellists.
I suppose that Janice was against the duel because she lost someone important to her in the past. A quick glance at the Sovereign tells me a lot. Her expression shows relief and anger, a rare glimpse at the woman behind the Sovereign. She wasn’t against the duel just for logical reasons. Janice clearly has some sort of emotional ties to the situation. Enough so to show some cracks in her perfect facade.
Noticing myself drifting away from the most important issue at hand, I return my attention to Nova and the reason for the commotion. Nova opened a miniature portal during a duel. There is no doubt about the nature of her spell. Everyone who watched the fight will come to the same conclusion.
The knowledge on how to create portals is a national secret. It’s on the same scale as the spacial chests. Yet, Nova did it on the fly and without the support of a complicated rune-network. Since my awakening, I realized that Nova isn’t casting the big spells by herself. Her barrette is clearly some sort of computational device and an energy source which replaces the large artefacts which are normally needed in order to create spacial distortions of that degree.
But nobody else knows that. Nova showed them yet another proof that she is an extraordinary magician who wields magical power and knowledge which is comparable, maybe even superior, to that of the large nations.
A sharp sting in my finger distracts me and I look down to find Lucifer gnawing on it. Clenching my teeth, I dislodge the kitten and hold it safely by the scruff of its neck.
Nova notices my predicament and casts a levitation spell, ignoring the tumult all around us. She makes her way out of the arena and takes Lucifer from my hands.
She smiles and cuddles her familiar who immediately returned to being a docile pet. “You are a good little kitten, aren’t you?”
Janice glares at Nova. The Sovereign is a little more relaxed now, but her emotions still seem to be in turmoil. “Was that really necessary? Are you even aware of the implications which will result from your little show?”
Nova nods without looking at her. “It was. Weren’t you the one who wanted strong allies in order to deter your foes? I gave them proof and – at the same time – furthered my own goals.”
“Your goals?” I ask. “You just turned Illum into a big target. The various national leaders will freak out when they hear about this.”
Maybe I am a little too emotionally detached, showing not enough of a reaction, but Nova feels like a force of nature to me. Somehow I never doubted that she would beat Gohal and that, even if he had managed to hurt her, she would have gotten stronger from the experience. Resigning, I close my eyes and rub my face.
All along I thought that Nova just wants war and destruction, but her actions and her behaviour don’t fit. She isn’t the person who would cause pain and suffering without a goal. Yes, she is ruthless towards anyone who hurts her, but people who don’t cross her are left in peace. Finally, I realize that the world-war must be just another component of her plan. It isn’t her ultimate goal.
Suddenly, I feel that I don’t really want to stop Nova’s dreams, whatever they are. She isn’t a bad person… At least not one of the worst people. It’s just her methods which I dislike.
I want her to achieve her goals without hurting people. After being in close vicinity to her for weeks, I am fairly certain that Nova doesn’t crave bloodshed and war. I should have considered her personality when I tried to make sense of her actions. All her deeds are necessary to achieve her goals. She’s cutting down trees in order to build a house.
Nova didn’t kill Gohal because she likes violence. Well, maybe she likes it a little bit. Nonetheless, Gohal was merely yet another of those unfortunate trees who had to fall for something grander. What I have to find out, is what kind of house she is envisioning. Maybe I can steer her path if I find out.
She looks at me and places Lucifer in her pocket. “My plans require a certain amount of infamy. I want to be taken seriously.”
The Sovereign grumbles and crosses her arms in front of her chest. “You clearly succeeded in doing so. By revealing that you know the secret behind the gate network, you turned Illum not only into a power to be recognized, but to be watched carefully. Now they will think twice about anything that concerns you. The question is… wouldn’t it have been better to keep your capabilities a secret? You should have spoken to me before showing off your powers.”
Nova turns her attention to her grandmother. “Why is it such a big deal? I thought that all the countries know how to create portals.”
Janice purses her lips and clears her throat. For some reason, it seems like she looks embarrassed. “The Mirai don’t know how to create portals. We just have our superior airships and necromancy… up until now. Maybe this alliance will gain us a little more attention than I actually wanted. We aren’t prepared to face their full onslaught if they decide that they are better off without Illum and the Mirai.”
“You mean that you don’t know how to create portals?” Nova’s smile widens to an evil grin.
The Sovereign squints her eyes at Nova. “Not every reincarnated person is a genius who invests each life into pursuing knowledge. Portal technology involves a complicated set of equations which I maybe never bothered to memorize. As you may have noticed, I focused my time and attention on researching other things, like soul magic. Not to forget, I am managing a nation and a religion while doing so. There is little time to reinvent the wheel.”
“Okay. Okay. No need to justify yourself. I just wanted to tease you. You taught me a lot during the last weeks. And knowledge is power which can’t be taken away.” Nova huffs and turns her attention to the crowd which is surrounding us. They are staying at a respectful distance, but they might be able to hear a little more than we want them to.
Their expressions tell me that we are tolerated, but no longer welcome. “Maybe we should relocate to Illum?” I suggest and touch Nova’s back, gently guiding her to the exit.
Nova giggles and allows me to push her forward. “No need to become so intimate. I know that it has been a little while since I took you to my rooms, but we can change that very quickly.” She pokes my side, causing me to grunt.
I just have to stay calm and collected. She is trying to push my buttons in order to draw more attention to us. Turning, I look at Janice while we walk. The other woman rolls her eyes, but at some deeper level, I can tell that this duel is going to have repercussions.