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A note from Wutosama

edited 17/01/19

 

A blue-silver Sigil flared, guiding the Void matter into the girl's Astral Form. As motes of the tenebrous energy circulated, carving out new mana conduits, the crystalline body of her Astral reflection grew larger, taller and more refined.

Now elucidated by her Master, Alesia studied her sister-in-craft's illusory projection, above which the girl's mental and physical exertion had soaked Gwen to the bone with exhaustive perspiration.

As with a griffin chick, Gwen was currently weak and vulnerable. She and her Master would have to keep Gwen under wraps, hidden, disguised from the rest of the Mageocracy, letting news of her talent cascade little by little. Most importantly, the Tower must not suspect that its Master had chosen to temporarily obfuscate the girl’s Void Element, as well as her connection to the Mythic.

Considering how desperately the Frontier hungered for military might, Gwen's Path was undoubtedly going to be a difficult one. There was a balancing act which she would have to accomplish, a narrow ledge between autonomy and been used and abused by the powers that be. Given Henry's wisdom and knowledge, it would take no more than a few years for Gwen to stand on her own. In time, she could travel with Alesia and her Master to a tier 1 city to receive her tertiary education. Furthermore, they also had Gunther to enact a little helpful nepotism. Surely the oldest of her Master's Apprentices had a duty to look out for his cute and endearing little sister.

“Conjuration.” Alesia recognised the mana signature.

"Indeed." Henry concurred.

Gwen opened her eyes, feeling her drenched blouse plastered to her skin, her thighs were likewise slick with sweat.

“I did it?” She found the Magus and Magister standing at a polite distance.

“You sure did!” Her sister-in-craft ran toward Gwen, then bodily embraced her, heedless of the girls' waterlogged condition.

“Congratulations Gwen, you are now also a Conjurer!”

A Conjurer! Her heart soared. A summoner of magical creatures! Principal Bartlett was a Conjurer, and so's her Master! Conjuration was one of the most versatile Schools of Magic!

Alesia conjured up a towel, telling Gwen she could change and take a shower once they’re back at the apartment. The room began to dim, the illusory projection fading until only the white expanse remained.

“Let us return to Sufina’s chamber; there is much that we must discuss,” Henry intoned, patting Gwen’s embarrassingly moist shoulders.

Their return journey was unmolested by guards. Alesia operated the lift until it reached their destination. The trio then crossed the threshold of time and space, reentering the viridian grot.

“Kisses!” Sufina materialised and embraced Gwen, nudging the Apprentice woodenly, her figure a hybrid of floral and feminine beauty. “Your scent is even more delicious now. I could just gobble up your Essence.”

“That’s because you’re both a Conjurer and possess the vitality of the Mythic,” Henry explained. “Both of which are very attractive to Sufina.”

“She consumes Essences?”

“All Dryads do.” Henry grinned. “Sufina has a preference for female Mages though, and she assumes the form of her favourites. Don't mind her; she doesn't need your vitality. Her grot in the Wildlands sustains her just fine."

The trio assumed the seating arrangements from before. Sufina then brought another serving of Golden Mead and manna cakes.

Gwen hungrily stuffed a cake into her mouth. For some reason, she was famished.

“Now that you have access to your second element, Gwen, I am going to teach you about the Void element and its particulars. You must be very, very careful in using it….”

Gwen gulped half a cup of mead, feeling its warmth dispelling her hunger.

Henry spoke at length about the dangers of living beings channelling Quasi-Negative Energy, and how self-destructive the process could be without the proper warding and training.

“Is there a way to use the Void without self-harm?” Gwen enquired disappointingly. It seemed her new element has a significant drawback.

“To do so would go against the nature of life,” Henry spoke with a tone of reprimand. “I would not venture to suggest there is a way, for that would guide you down the path of Death Cults and Necromancy.”

Gwen shivered, just those names made her skin crawl.

"Yeah, we Purge those," Alesia warned her as well to drive the point home.

“It would put you in direct opposition to the Frontier, the Mageocracy, and the Tower,” Henry warned. "Not even I would venture to support an Apprentice who practices Necromancy and the Dark Arts. Think about the Credo, Gwen, and if you must use the power of the Void, use it because it is necessary, because the good outweighs the bad, because the toll was worth it. It is the ultimate form of self-sacrifice.”

Gwen nodded.

“Noblesse Oblige, you had told me.” Henry smiled kindly, the weathered lines of his face crisscrossing like old crags. “One must never disjoin remorse from power.”

“I will live by those words, Master.”

“Your words," the Magister reiterated. "And mayhap one day, all of our words. I look forward to your future actions.”

Leaning back in his throne, the Magister grew fatigued.

"Master, you need to rest," Alesia took Gwen by the hand. "I'll take care of her."

With that, Alesia bid her Master farewell. Gwen and Alesia watched him recede into the Grot, braced by Sufina.

Gwen finished the rest of her mead with an anxious heart. Was her Master that frail? Just how old was he?

“Let's go take that long deserved break.” Alesia patted Gwen on the shoulder. "How about a fancy dinner, my shout?"

To their surprise, the platform arrived with two guards, the very ones who had accompanied them earlier. Their manner, however, was divorced from any amiability.

“Major, Magister Walken would like to speak to you and the young lady,” one of them informed her with an expression full of sadistic schadenfreude.

“Does he have an appointment?” Alesia asked sardonically, mocking his earlier remark from their first encounter in the atrium.

The man’s face took on a dangerous hue.

“Be glad that the Magister has made time to see you. Do not waste his generosity.”

Without Alesia’s command, the platform began to move, drifting through the chambers of the building towards some unknown destination.

“Cadet, stop this platform at once,” Alesia commanded, her voice cracking like blistering fire. With mild alarm, Gwen noted the temperature around them was rising dramatically, enough to dry out her blouse.

“You can lodge your displeasure to Magister Walken, Major.” The cadet ignored Alesia's command.

So these are the "Factions" within the Tower, Gwen observed, distressed by this unexpected turn. Besides her, Alesia’s ire rose to a new temperate. Gwen sensed that any moment now, she was about to enrol the Cadet for the infirmary's burn-unit.

Gwen held her breath.

"!"

There was a flicker of flame; then the console ignited with a scarlet fire that seared the man’s hands, yet left the instruments untouched. A caracal materialised upon the platform, hissing at the guard, bearing its fangs.

“Major, you can’t do this!"

“What's wrong with punishing disobedient subordinates?"

“To disobey a direct request from a Magister is unacceptable!”

“Too bad you won’t be around to see it.” Alesia bared her teeth at her offender, then kicked the offending Cadet away from the console, sending him crashing to the floor.

A Transmutation-enhanced chest-stomp! Gwen stared. Ouch!

Now in control, Alesia commanded the Levitation Platform to detour toward the Teleportation Circles. To Gwen's dismay, the second guard possessed the nerve to have a got at Alesia behind her back.

"Lightning G-"

Before Gwen could deliver the stun spell, the guard screamed and felt to his knees, a mote of scarlet flame had ignited one of his ears, reducing it to a bloody, molten mess.

“Maybe your Magister would be kind enough to gift you a Regeneration spell,” Alesia intoned nastily. “Although I certainly wouldn’t waste tier 5 healing on a worthless grunt.”

“You dare attack us with spells!”

“Did you hear me cast a spell, asshole?” Alesia snapped back. “That was self-defence by my Flame Spirit, responding to your unprovoked hostility.”

“How dare you!”

“How dare you!” Alesia snapped back, still driving the lift toward her intended destination. “You want to try me? Who's going to mourn you?”

The guards fell silent. For the next minute, Gwen remained still as a statue as the guards groaned, one clutching his groin and the other cupping his mangled face.

But the platform descended into the Teleportation Circle Chamber, Gwen could see that they were surrounded. Below, a dozen guards in bone-coloured uniforms awaited them.

“Major De Botton! Give yourself up! Your unprovoked assault of a Junior Officer is intolerable!” A Sergeant levelled what appeared to be a wand at Gwen's sister-in-craft.

Alesia pulled Gwen behind her, shielding the girl with her scarlet visage. The Enchanted dimensions of the Tower's interior ensured that escape by force or Spellcraft was nigh impossible, not to mention she still had Gwen with her. The Guards all possessed Sonic Suppression wands, a Magi-tech item devised by the Americans, capable of disrupting spell-casting. Alesia was immune to the interference from one, two, or even five or six of the damn things, but a dozen, at this proximity? Not even she was sure what would happen. Of course, she could burn them all to cinders, but that would escalate matters far beyond Factional rivalry - it would be mass murder.

Contacting her Master was out of the question. It would offer damning evidence that the eternally neutral Master of the Tower was not so indifferent after all. As Kilroy's blunt instrument, she had to keep her distance in public.

So, what will it be? Alesia pondered. If she could maim at least half of them, she could force them to reactivate the Teleportation Circles.

“What’s all this racket about?”

A piercing voice boomed across the room, resonating across the dimensionally distorted chamber like a thunderclap. The confrontation between Alesia and the Guards momentarily adjourned, brokering an uneasy truce as to face the unexpected intruder.

“Impossible, the Teleportation Circles were locked!” One of the guards muttered in confusion.

"Shhh!" his colleague hissed. "The Paladin has override authority from the Tower's Control Spirit."

A man descended from the platform. Gwen opted for the diction of 'descended' because that was precisely the imposing presence she had felt. Where mortal men walked, here was a man who bestrode the air like a Demi-God.

A radiant halo atop the man filled the room, a brilliance like those depicted in paintings of Apostles and Angels, forcing Gwen to squint. The intruder sported short, cropped, coffee-bean hair, loosely styled in the manner popular with soldiers. His face was handsome, chiselled, set in perfect proportions, its strong definition meeting at his broad, cleft chin. His eyes, two steely orbs, held intact in their sky-blue gaze the display before him with utter disdain. Below a bullish neck, he possessed the build of a military man, with well toned, muscular arms that made the fabric strain against his shoulders. The man was also tall, almost six-and-a-half feet, made taller by horned leather boots that kicked the marble pavement.

“Scarlet, how nice it is to see you." The intruder crossed the floor of the Teleportation Chamber with the confidence of a king surveying his domain.

Beside the Scarlet Sorceress, Alesia’s burning hostility simmer until it reduced to that of a tempered campfire, crackling with unexpected warmth.

“Lord Gunther Schultz,” she spoke with a tingle of sweetness that Gwen had never before heard in Alesia’s voice. “How fortuitous your arrival must be.”

“Oh, please,” Gunther replied. “Not too late, am I?”

Gunther walked through the gang of guards like a shepherd amongst a flock of wayward, bleating sheep. The guards backed away awkwardly, their hands gripping their Suppressors with white-knuckled intensity.

“Paladin, please pardon yourself. We are in the middle of apprehending Miss De Botton,” One of the guards, the Guard Captain, announced carefully. The role of Paladin made Gunther the judicial enforcer of the Tower Master's law. If the Radiant Mage wished to punish the Captain for insubordination, no one would bat an eye, not even Magister Walken.

To the Guard Captain's surprise, Gunther abruptly turned towards him, the presence of his radiant aura ablaze with supernatural charisma.

“Cadet, what is the correct protocol to address your Paladin?”

The guard’s face blanched.

He turned stiffly toward Gunther, holstering his Suppressor as he did so. Stepping precisely two paces away, he raised a hand and saluted, locking his elbow mechanically.

“Permission to speak, Lord Paladin! Sir!”

“Denied.” Gunther glared down range at the sweltering Captain from up on high, snapping him a crisp, returning salute. “Remove yourself at once!”

The Guards looked at one another, hoping that perhaps, a certain Magister who had sent them here would materialise and somehow save their skins. When no such Magister made an entrance in the next few seconds, they deflated like spent balloons.

Gwen couldn't know - but was a strange hierarchy here in the Tower. The Mageocracy of old, established by the Brittanic Commonwealth, set the ground rules for Spellcraft seniority. At the same time, Military Rank imposed by the Frontier Military offered contradictions to the archaic rank set by tradition. Magister Walken was Gunther's senior, but the man did not possess a military title. Gunther, on the other hand, held the positions of Magus, Paladin, and the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. As guards of the Tower, the men were effectively Military Police. If Gunther wished to throw the book at the guards, there was little they could do but appeal to the Magister himself.

“Return to your post!” The Captain shouted at his men. As one, the guards holstered their weapons, then gladly made for their posts within the Tower.

“Have a good day, Sir.” the Captain saluted Gunther again, before turning to Alesia with a look of pure contempt. “Major.”

“Go fuck yourself,” Alesia snapped back.

The two locked eyes until Gunther placed himself between the two.

“Good day, Captain, I will speak to the Magister Walken on your behalf.” Gunther shot the Guard Captain an apologetic look.

“Shit for brains.” Alesia was determined to have the last word. "Lapdog!"

Watching Alesia's triumphant expression, Gwen realised the exact reason for Master Kilroy's reserve for her sister-in-craft. Alesia was a loose cannon! She was a powerful Mage, but the woman was a battering ram! She was incapable of taking an insult in any way other than Newton’s Third Law! That Captain was a prick for sure, but even Gwen understood that the hapless bastard was following orders. What good did it to do to whip an attack dog, especially when its owner refused to show up? Watching Alesia kick the man while he's down, no wonder Alesia was the Tower's pariah. If she took on Yue as an Apprentice, and the two of them combined their fiery temper, wouldn't they become the true Dynamic Duo? Was this world strong enough to survive a partnership of that magnitude?

With the Guards dispersed, the women were left alone with Gunther, somehow more impressive up close. It wasn’t so much that his body was overly bulky, like men obsessed with mass, but that the Radiant Mage filled the room with his presence. It was different to Gwen’s mother, who sucked the attention from a room onto herself, for Gunther's presence made any space instantly smaller.

“My place, dinner,” Alesia whispered under her breath.

“See you then.” Came the discrete reply. Gunther strode past the pair onto a Levitation Platform, bidding them adieu.

“Was that our...” Gwen began, but Alesia made her shush.

She took Gwen’s hand. Once again the two mounted the Teleportation Platform, where Alesia invoked the Glyph for her apartment, and the two were away.

 

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A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: 


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Wutosama

Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

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