Chapter 22 - Interesting
Mark had been one of the strongest warriors in the Valdian Family and he had been trained accordingly. He was ready to give up on his life for his missions and protecting the Herald of Change was the greatest mission he had received in his whole life!
That training was what made him step ahead and slap the Eminent Mage's hand away the moment she moved with hostility towards the Herald.
A moment later, when he understood his reflexive actions, his heart started beating furiously, filled by regret. Slapping a mage was a capital offense for any klutz or warrior, no matter the reason. He would die for it.
And yet, Aaron's words seemed to echo in his mind.
"The first and foremost rule of the old ways is to always follow your heart."
"Even with potential, you might still do something you shouldn't when following your heart and may end up dead."
"But even then, you'll be able to face failure head-on, because you did what you knew you should."
The Herald was right. How could he regret protecting him? How would he live with himself if he allowed the Herald to die without doing his very best to protect him?
He might have been able to do nothing before hearing those words, but now...
Now, regret left him, and only a sense of fulfillment for dying for the Herald of Change remained.
Helina was frozen in place.
She had been...
Rage filled her. From the depths of her heart, it filled every fiber, every cell of her body. She had never been even spoken aggressively before, but now, a warrior dared to hit her, a Chosen Prophetess!
She pulled mana from her mana pool and was prepared to obliterate the man in front of her into oblivion, when a voice entered her very soul and seemed to throw water into the fires of her fury, instantly quelling it.
The cold went further inside, invaded her mind, and seemed to freeze it all!
Helina found herself instantly dazed, her mind empty of any thoughts. All she could do was look ahead without any idea of what to do.
Aaron nodded approvingly when he saw Mark act. That was how a subordinate should behave, and as the master, he would obviously not let a good butler die for protecting him.
He felt the girl pulling mana from her pool to use a spell on Mark and acted swiftly.
Myriad Arts — Spellcasting — Double Elements: Ice, Soul — Seventh Mental Stun!
The spell left his soul, never entering the material world, and met the girl's soul head on. It couldn't invade her soul, its resistance too powerful for a Seventh level spell, but it didn't need to.
Instead, the spell instantly encompassed her soul into a layer of ethereal ice. Then, it hit her soul with a mighty wave of coldness coming from all sides. Her soul acted instantly to dispel the effects, but that single moment of freezing coldness was enough to stun her.
The anger in her face disappeared, replaced by a blank expression.
Aaron smiled satisfied. His spells couldn't directly damage her soul but he had bypassed her resistance in an ingenious way. A mage outside battle simply wouldn't be prepared for a sneak attack injecting a wave of coldness in their souls unless they were experienced, something a Youngest Prophetess wasn't.
Sadly, such a move wouldn't work on anyone two levels above him because the coldness would be dispelled even before they properly entered their souls. Still, the effects of the spell on an Eminence and the speed which her soul had resisted confirmed some of his theories and would help him to create new offensive and defensive spells.
If they got into a battle, he would be able to get even more valuable data. However, doing so would attract the authorities, something a mere disagreement with a merchant wouldn't.
Now that her mind had cooled down, all he needed to avoid a full-fledged battle was a little acting on his part.
"Master, Master, I'm sorry!" Aaron said while bowing low to the woman. "Please, don't be angry at Disciple! Disciple's golem acted to protect me! Please, don't take back Disciple's golem!" There was absolute fright in his voice. "Please, Master!"
If a warrior slapping an Eminent Mage made everyone shocked, Aaron's words make everyone completely stupefied. It confirmed that the beautiful woman was the boy's master, and furthermore, that the woman was rich enough to provide even her undisciplined disciple with a golem!
Golems were expensive constructs capable of following sets of orders, with some of the best ones capable of something akin to human thinking. Although the one beside the boy didn't look especially smart, golems were also valued by how much like human beings they looked. Even those that looked like groups of rocks glued together were already expensive enough that most Eminences wouldn't be able to afford one, but that boy had one that looked just like a human!
If such a rebellious boy had been given such a high-quality golem that might cause even some of the poorer Overlords some envy, just how rich was his master?
Helina was even more shocked by what had happened.
The boy had attacked her soul and she had been completely unable to protect herself. It had been a sneak attack, yes, but even so, a Champion's spell shouldn't be powerful enough to affect an Eminence's soul even for a moment!
Not only was the boy in possession of a spell crafted to overcome stronger enemies, but he was also cunning. She believed that the One Star Warrior was no golem and yet, because high-quality golems couldn't be detected by the Check Item Heavenly Skill, she had been given a way of retaining her respect in front of the people.
After all, being hit by her own golem, given to his disciple for protection, only meant the golem was that good!
Of course, this excuse also saved the man's life, which was the boy's real intention. To pay for the favor of her not killing the man, the boy was accepting her earlier attempt at public deception and pretending to be his disciple.
Still a bit dazed, she faked impatience with a sneer and turned back. "Let's go!"
"Yes, Master!" The boy replied and they left the market.
Aaron had a good impression of the woman. She had tailed him and tried to help him with the merchant for unknown reasons, but when she reacted to his words just like a spoiled Prophetess would, without controlling her emotions, he became confident that she didn't have any shady intentions.
Either that, or she was that good of an actress.
Due to his experience, he didn't think she was trying to fool him. Her reaction timing, her posture, her eyes, all of it told a tale of an entitled girl who didn't know how to deal with a world that didn't act as if they owed everything to her. Obviously, he could be wrong but the chances of that were small indeed.
The only thing that remained was finding out why she was trying to approach him.
Mark and Aaron followed her to a deserted alley. Once there, she turned back and looked straight at Aaron. "Who are you?"
He smiled at her but before he could reply, Mark did. "How dare you?!" He said. "You interfere in my master's business, pretend to be his master, tries to physically assault him, and only then you ask for his identity without even introducing yourself first?! From what uncivilized hole did you crawl from?!"
Aaron nodded. "Indeed. But William," he said, using the fake name they had agreed upon beforehand, "refer to me as your young master from now on, or people might find it strange."
Masters were usually adults and their children were referred to as young masters by their parents' servants.
"Yes, Young Master!" Mark replied immediately, without any of the edge he had shown on his voice when talking to the woman.
"Good," Aaron nodded again.
The woman was looking from Mark to Aaron as if she couldn't believe what she was seeing. Aaron smiled. Indeed, for a One Star Warrior to call the Temple of Time an 'uncivilized hole' was something even the strongest mind might take a few moments to come to terms with.
Regardless, everything else the warrior had said was true. Even if they were mortal enemies, it was only proper to introduce herself before attacking.
She breathed deeply and spoke. "I'm Helina Chosen," she said.
"I am William Butler," Mark replied. Both Helina's and his surname made it clear who they were. "This is my young master, Ted Bright-Star." As for Aaron's fake surname, it spoke of a kid whose family thought would have a great future.
Aaron raised an eyebrow, interested at what he heard. "Surnamed Chosen? You had a Vision?" He asked.
She showed surprise. "How do you know that?"
Mark was the one to reply. "While the masses might not know it, the meaning of your surname is not a secret for important mages. My... Master is a wise sage and has taught my young master here all there is to know."
"Yeah, that," Aaron said with a mocking smile, not even trying to pretend that those words were true. He simply didn't care about whether she believed him or not; it wasn't her that all these lies were intended to fool.
Helina started fidgeting with her dress, clearly controlling her anger at being so poorly treated. "I was Chosen to protect you," she said.
"Really?" Aaron said before Mark could. "That's interesting."
During his time in the last world of this universe, a 'god' sent one of his Devouts to protect Aaron. This time, in a world without gods, a Prophetess who adored Time itself said she had received a Vision to protect him.
Once might be a coincidence, but twice?
It seemed the Universal Core wasn't completely suppressed, after all, and could still act through some minor mediums to help Aaron save it.
"Very interesting indeed," he said with a pensive expression.
Helina saw that Ted was in deep thought and believed it to mean he was impressed with her revelation. She had always heard to strike when the fire was hot and decided to impress him!
"You're a Champion at age twelve or thirteen," she said, revealing that she knew his real appearance. "This might awe some people but as a Prophetess, I know that this is actually harmful to you! Your mana pool channels have certainly been overused and must hurt every time you use some mana, right?"
He looked strangely at her and she just knew she had hit jackpot! She kept going before he could reply.
"This is likely the reason I was Chosen to protect you! Whoever your master is, he's an evil man for pushing you beyond your limits and hurting you! But don't worry, I'm here now. I have the means to heal your channels! It will take time, a few years, but I'll protect you until then. So, follow me, I'll take you to a safe place."
But contrary to her expectations, he looked at her as if he was looking at a complete moron and asked, "Are you an idiot?"
"W- What?!" She asked without believing what she was hearing.
"Not to mention you diagnosed me without using any spell or even talking to me, you have such shallow understanding of how the mana pool is connected to the soul? There is no such thing as a mana pool channel. What you call 'mana channels' are nothing more than threads of control created by a mage's willpower! The facts that they only appear when the mage is casting a spell and that they have no fixed position should be proof enough for any idiot with a head. Wait, does it make you even worse than an idiot? No, no, don't tell me you're a headless idiot! Hey, old hag, is your head a fake one?"
She opened her mouth, but nothing came out.
"Really, I had so many hopes for the Temple of Time and you're all just a bunch of amateurs in the end, huh?" He continued. "Disappointing. Look, I have more important stuff to do and because reasons I can't have you following me around. Go to the White Lotus Inn, I'll meet you there later."
Without waiting for Helina to recover and reply, he turned around and left, followed by his butler.
Aaron didn't want to be seen with a woman about Sara's age for long and quickly got rid of her. Although he was interested in what she had to say, his safety was a priority.
He had already put her to the back to his mind, thinking about what he wanted to buy, when Mark interrupted.
"Young Master," the butler said as soon as they were out of hearing range. "What should we do about her?"
"If she's really a Chosen Prophetess, we can only do two things," Aaron said. "Accept her protection or kill her. The Prophetesses are brainwashed from an early age, turning them into complete fanatics about their Visions. Only death can stop them from accomplishing whatever they are Chosen to do."
Mark's face paled. "Young Master, if she is really a Prophetess and you kill her..."
Aaron waved his hands dismissively. "I have no reason to kill someone who wants to protect me. Not to mention that her company shall make things exciting for us."
They had just left the alley when the boy pointed at five Five Stars Warriors with clothes that had the symbol of the Temple of Time. Each warrior held a paper on their hands that they were showing to the passersby, who just nodded negatively.
After a few moments, one of the warriors approached and showed the paper to Aaron and Mark. It showed Helina's face.
"Sir, have you seen this traitor?" The warrior asked.
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I'm Ed, a writer of GameLit. So far I have released only two books, but I'm working on increasing this number by tens! No, by hundreds! Maybe thousands! xP
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