The Sage looked over the sleeping Zinnia who was lightly snoring as she hugged a large pillow. Like a baby, the princess bit the pillow. I saw a trail of drool wetting the fabric. “Nomnom...I love….choco…” She mumbled in her sleep.
“We should move somewhere a bit more…quiet,” The Sage grimaced.
Good, because she looked really ridiculous trying to monologue something about revenge next to a drooling princess, I thought. It took everything I had not to snicker.
She extended her right hand like an escorting knight. My eyes glazed it over for a few quiet moments before grabbing it. The sage raised her other hand and snapped her fingers.
...Nothing happened. Confused, she snapped again. And again. And Again. She tried snapping her fingers for a good ten times while holding on to my hand. Like a curious child, she let go of my hand and snapped her fingers. The Sage disappeared into a puff of smoke.
Then, in another puff of smoke, she reappeared right before me. Her eyebrows arched in confusion and wonder as she poked my cheek, “You...are interesting, aren’t you?” She smiled.
I didn’t like her tone which bordered on obsessive, but I quickly ignored it, “I’m flattered.”
“I am very serious. When you first disrupted Captain Albert’s enhancement spell, I thought you had disruption magic. But with both the mind ritual failing completely and my teleportation spell not working, I think instead you are completely immune to magic. Should I call it... anti-magic?” She flapped her gums like a scholar on a sugar rush, “If you had disruption magic, there’d still be traces of magic. However, when your anti-magic comes into contact with magic there’s absolutely nothing there anymore.”
Then, she put a pondering finger on her chin and tilted her head. “But...if that was the case...why did the summoning ritual work on you? If you really did have anti-magic, you wouldn’t have come here at all…” A wicked smile spread through her, “This...is so interesting!”
The Sage nearly screamed before shutting herself up, embarrassed at almost waking up the Princess. “Ahem,” I could see her ears going full crimson, “Since I can’t teleport you, how about you follow me? I may look like a bumbling airhead, but I assure you I know this place better than any royal idiot.”
I gazed at her, measuring the worth and risk of following a person like her. I didn’t know her very well, but she was able to determine that I was spying on her, the King, and Princess Amaryllis. If I didn’t follow her, she’d certainly blow my cover to the King. If I did follow her, there’d be a risk of walking into a trap.
Feeling lost at what to do, I gazed at the Sage for a little too long. She extended her hand to me with a calculated smile. Sighing, I shook her hand and she escorted me out of the room quietly.
She stretched her arms out as she walked in front of me. Each guard we encountered would be put in a stupor state with a flick of her finger. If she had this much control over magic, I wondered why she even needed me. “If you have this much magic, why do you need me?”
The robed girl laughed but didn’t stop walking forward. Slightly turning her head to me, she answered my question, “Don’t let the royal family’s appearance fool you. They have the blood of the hero Dahlia running through their veins.”
“I see.” I assume that means they’re incredibly strong or something?
She chuckled at my dull reaction.
“Let’s get to my quarters before the King and that other princess find us. My magic would be too diluted to affect them properly.”
After escorting me to her headquarters, I noticed a lot of flasks and containers. Each of them contained vastly different things, such as pure electrical energy, a ball of darkness, an inborn creature that looked lizard in nature, and a bunch of other things.
Her massive room, which was much bigger than mine, was more laboratory than room, and was insanely messy, like a pigsty. My mouth bent downwards in displeasure. The Sage used magic and locked the door behind me. Oddly enough, while it shut with massive force, it barely made a peep.
“Sorry for the mess, y’know what they say about those genius types! Always messy!” She said proudly, putting her hands on her hips with a satisfied grin. Her body language seemed much more hyper around me the longer she spoke to me.
“Enough,” I said impatiently, “Let’s hear more about your ‘deal’.”
She gasped and waved her hands around in a mock-up attempt to look scared, “Oooh! Scary!” The Sage cracked a laugh, “First, let me introduce myself. My name is Neyla. I have both human and elven blood in me, but the elven blood is very faint, so unfortunately, no pointy ears.”
I rolled my eyes. She’s heard my name before, so I didn’t think she’d really need to hear it again, but, deciding to be polite, I responded, “Allyson Parker.”
Neyla sighed, “Ah, yes yes, your alias. ‘Allyson Parker’. Does that mean anything to you, or is that just a random name you came up with to deceive the dear old King?”
A faint growl rose from my stomach as I glared at the Sage, “That doesn’t matter, does it?”
She clapped her hands, seemingly unperturbed by my hostility, “I just want to get to know you better!” As if in a trance, she started to gaze over me, from head to toe, “It’s strange how magic has absolutely no effect on you. I considered it to be a blessing from the Goddess Athena, but if it was, I’d be able to feel the divinity leaking off of you. So I came up with anti-magic. However!” Neyla raised a finger up.
I raised my eyebrows at her. At this point, I was just done with her theatrics. Her personality seemed so different when she was near the King too….
“If I’m correct about the anti-magic, why did the summoning ritual work on you? Did you gain anti-magic when you arrived here? Or were you born with it? Also…”
She drew in closer to me, a little too close. Her breath tickled my nose. I winced a little and the action didn’t go unnoticed to the part-elf. “I was certain I targeted a male champion. For you to be summoned…” I felt a hand on my left breast. The moment her hand cupped my breast and pushed it upward; my lips bent downward, and a massive scowl plastered itself on my face. Seeing my expression, she immediately pulled back.
“Don’t do that again.”
“Uh...sorry, sweetie. Haha…” She laughed nervously, “Whenever I see someone interesting, I just have to study them from head to toe!”
“Can we just get back to business, please?” I furrowed my eyebrows even further from the term ‘sweetie’.
Neyla rolled her eyes, reluctant to get back to the topic at hand. She took a few steps back from me, scratching her hair with a look of dissatisfaction. “As I’ve said before, I want revenge on the Narci royal blood.”
“What do I get in return if I help you? I want more than just an express ticket out of here, Neyla.”
She chuckled, “Not even going to ask why I want revenge on the dear old King and his two sweeties?” I shook my head slowly without taking my eyes off her. Neyla noticed and expressed a slight bitter smile. “Sigh…..fine. Have it your way.”
Neyla fiddled through some cabinets on the far right of her aqua-colored laboratory. A slight smile appeared as she found what she was looking for. Revealing a large book, she pushed it to me, “I’ll teach you how to read the common tongue. While it seems you can speak the language, I’m sure you don’t have the skill to read.”
I shook my head, “I’m only able to talk to you because of this earpiece, so reading is a whole different story,” I pointed at the gadget attached to my ear. “However, I want a little more than just being able to read and getting a ride out of here.”
Neyla smiled, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. With a condescending tone, she quietly replied, “Then I’ll make you a fire hex. It’s essentially explosion magic on the second to lowest tier of power.”
“How would this hex even work if I can’t use magic?”
The sorry excuse for a Sage twirled, “Simple, I implant the hex in a gem and then place it into a bracelet covered in protective metal so that you don’t touch the gem accidentally. Then I’ll use word magic so that you can activate the hex whenever you want. Just say the magic word and poof!”
An understanding reached my eyes, “So that’s how most of the castle appliances work. What are the downsides?”
“Well, if you accidentally touch the gem, the hex will blow up, and it has a limited amount of mana.”
I tilted my head, contemplating. “Alright, deal. So I just have to get Zinnia to lower her own defenses, have Bodhi possess her, and then force Zinnia to lower the barrier.”
“Aaaaaand,” Neyla’s smile grew bigger, “I want you to kill anyone who tries to escape. I can’t have royals leave, after all. It’ll be a coup d'etat. The throne will be mine!” I narrowed my eyes at her. She turned away and whistled awkwardly, “Hey now, you asked for more, so why can’t I?!”
Sigh, “Fine. So, any advice on how to get Zinnia to willingly remove her mental protection? Being a role model is a first for me.”
“Well since you can’t exactly reach into her brain to take it out...there is a way for her to remove it subconsciously.”
“And that is?”
That creepy grin just got creepier, “You flirt with her.”
A dumb sound left my throat. “Huh?”
Not a moment sooner did Neyla start cracking with laughter. She started to holler with a massive grin on her face and tears in her ears as she rolled on the floor like a pill bug. This is the Sage? I thought to myself.
“Little Zinnia is a lesbian, dear. You fit her type to a T.”
I swear my poker face skill gained a good ten levels after meeting Neyla today.
I felt my lips twitch up in anger. Neyla was a person I had a tough time dealing with.
After that whole fiasco with the Sage, I left her headquarters and went back to my room. Surprisingly enough the guards were still suffering from that stupor spell Neyla casted on them.
It was late into the night when I finally plopped down into my bed. My body tossed and turned restlessly; a part of me couldn’t get used to how soft this bed was. Normally I’d sleep in metal surfaces or torn-up wood, rather than something as luxurious as this.
I contemplated what Neyla said to me about Zinnia. Apparently I had to seduce the princess to get her to lower her mental shielding. Problem was, I was never taught how to seduce people. Every time missions like these popped up, I’d let Sonia handle it.
Sonia wasn’t here though, and even if she was, the daddy’s girl would probably kill me first, ask questions later.
I wondered if I could watch some records of Sonia in my AI’s database, but most of the Athens memory was damaged, so I doubted it. With a sigh, I removed my earpiece and closed my eyes.
Sleep didn’t come easily that night, and when it did, I found myself stranded in muck.
My feet sludged through gallons of mud as I tried to reach the light in the shape of a person. She smiled at me as she stood on top of a boulder that stood its ground against the blackish brown muck I pushed through. I fought against the current, just barely making progress to the girl.
So close so close so close. Just a little more...I pushed my hand just a little more to reach her leg. She stood still as a statue, her smile never faltering.
Just a few more centimeters and I’d reach her.
Clatter clatter clatter clatter.
The sound of bones grinding and churning screamed in my ear.
“Huh?!” I jumped up from bed confused and perplexed. Sweat slid down from my forehead to my neck. My heart palpated when I tried taking deep breaths.
My eyes subconsciously looked out the window. Through the blinds I noticed it was still dark outside. That meant I hadn’t slept long. I felt a slight pang of a headache on the left side of my skull.
I haven’t had that dream in awhile...I thought to myself. Hahh….Be calm...that thing can’t find you here.
Curling upwards like a cat, I jumped off the bed and lept towards the window. Opening the blinds, not a single piece of sunlight entered, consumed by the night. It was deadly quiet. Not even the wind blew.
I opened the window, and as my right foot stepped into the balcony, I felt a strange gooey sensation on my boot.
Looking downwards, I noticed a stain of black sludge and something white in the middle of it.