The sound of her Message device’s alarm buzzing stirred Luna from sleep. Dim sunlight streamed through a set of blinds, and she could faintly smell freshly brewed coffee. The elf really didn’t want to get up, but she knew she would eventually have to leave the comforting embrace of her blanket to begin serving her Mistress.
Her reluctance to get up resulted from the fact that It was essentially summer break and Friday, the day her Mistress had told her was her day off. Furthermore, instead of being off in some faraway Purple Zone with the rest of her Mistress’ usual party, she and the sixteen-year-old elf were stuck at Lilith’s Academy per Sydney Tower’s request. Though the loss of field experience was more than a little disappointing, it was also good for the rest of their party to practice surviving without the advanced magical knowledge the duo possessed. The bright side of not going on the school’s summer field trip was that she and her Mistress were able to sleep in comfort instead of some dingy tents.
“Lunaaaaa turn off the alarm I just want to sleeeeeeeep,” the other girl whinily called out.
For a moment, Luna hoped that her Message device would stop buzzing on its own and allow her just five more minutes in the pillowy warmth that was her bed. Unfortunately for her, that was not the case.
“Mnnn,” the elf grunted while silencing her buzzing message device. She checked the date: 5:00 a.m., Friday, November 29, 2002. “Mistress, do we have to get up?”
“Luna, do you want to disappoint your Mistress?” the girl asked expectantly.
Upon hearing those words, Luna snapped to attention. She felt as though she’d just been screamed at by a drill sergeant who was going to punish her with a thirty-kilometer run. Quickly, the girl got out of bed and picked up the training outfit she’d laid out during the previous night, which consisted of a black t-shirt, cargo shorts, socks and a pair of running shoes.
“Lunaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,” the elf’s Mistress whinily called out again.
“Can you carry me to the shower,” the other girl asked playfully.
“Mistress, we have to train before we shower, remember?”
“I know but can’t we just, oh I don’t know, skip training for today?”
As usual, the Water Sorceress was trying to get out of morning training. It hadn’t quite sunk in yet that morning training was good for one’s health and indirectly, Spellcraft. Hopefully it would sink in sometime soon. Then again, Luna herself hadn’t wanted to get out of bed either, but since she was up now, training was definitely going to happen.
“What about the inter-high? Everyone from our party is out on a non-stop training exercise through next week at least. We can’t afford to slack off either, can we?”
A few more grunts emerged from the other Sorceress. The girl lifted her head, puffed her cheeks out adorably and began to clamber out of bed. “Fine. I wonder what Ren and the others are doing right now.”
“I’m sure they’re doing just fine without us. But there’s no doubt they’ll be excited to see us when they return, Mistress,” Luna assured the girl.
While the Isozaki sisters were a handful at times, they were quite capable of protecting themselves. Even if things went horribly wrong, so long as Eriza could fight, they’d be fine. The only real concern was Zoey’s ability to fight without Iris’s support.
Now out of bed, the human was making her way to the bathroom to get changed. Her messy, long, dirty blonde hair draped across her back. The girl’s fuzzy pink pajamas hid her toned physique, making her appear frail like her older sister, Felicity. When compared to the grungy, blue-haired elf, she was the definition of a perfect young lady who’d recently awoken.
“Can we at least take the Burwood Heights route today? I’m really not feeling the Enfield path this morning,” the girl admitted sheepishly.
It wasn’t any trouble to switch the paths. The only difference between the two was the route taken. The blonde just seemed to not like the area around Enfield for some reason.
“As you wish, Mistress. We’ll run the Enfield path tomorrow.”
“Sweet. As thanks I’ll take you to The Mauve for breakfast, my shout.”
“Thank you, Mistress. Now go get dressed. The sooner we finish jogging, the sooner we can get to The Mauve.”
“Yes drill sergeant ma’am.”
Luna didn’t know how to feel about being called ma’am, given that she was the servant in their relationship. And it wasn’t the first time of late that she’d felt such a way. Their relationship was beginning to feel too informal. But it wasn’t her place to question the Water Sorceress. Besides, perhaps it meant their relationship as master and servant was special. Being her Mistress’ adoptive sister likely played a factor in that.
It didn’t take long for her to change into her training clothes. Her Mistress, however, always took at least ten minutes to get ready. Keeping up one’s appearance was essential for one’s reputation. At least that’s what the human and her friends always said. Luna herself never took interest in makeup and fashion, instead spending every resource she obtained on furthering her Spellcraft. Why waste money on material goods when one can build skills that could save one’s life in the future?
Eventually, the elf’s Mistress emerged from the bathroom, and the pair headed outside of the dormitory to begin their run.
Early mornings were the best time for runs in Sydney during the summer. The sun was just beginning to warm the land, so it wasn’t hot out yet. Given they had arisen at 5 a.m., the streets were mostly empty. Aside from their footfalls, paced breathing and the occasional bird chirping, silence reigned.
When someone jogged with the elf, there was a single rule in place: no talking. For Luna, running was her time for meditation. She dedicated every other waking moment to her Mistress, and while she loved doing so, she needed a bit of time to herself to keep her sanity. That and they would have plenty of time to talk during other times in the day, so if she could avoid running out of conversation material then she would take the necessary steps to do so. When she originally informed the Water Sorceress about this rule, the girl admitted she had a point.
For now she was simply just enjoying the quiet challenge of the run. It was relieving to not have to worry about the future or what was soon to come. That could be done later. How did she even end up in these circumstances anyway? Her mind drew back and tried to piece together the haphazard puzzle that was the mess of her life right now.
For one, tthere was the peculiar circumstances behind her ‘adoption’. When she was an infant, she was ‘adopted’ by the Water Sorceress’ parents. Whoever her guardian was at the time had agreed to the condition that once Luna reached the age of twelve she would become her Mistress’ personal servant. From that moment on she would remain the girl’s life-long servant until the human dismissed her.
Luna always had mixed feelings about this arrangement. But she had been a child while staying with her Mistress’ parents, and who would put the desires of a demi-human child before a class IV war mage from London?
Fortunately, there was some solace in it. The Water Sorceress and her sickly older sister, Felicity, were kind to her and always cared about her wellbeing. She was also able to get further ahead in Spellcraft than most of her peers thanks to the family's connections with London. If it weren’t for the great boons the family had, she’d likely have run away a long time ago.
However, the arrangement always beckoned her attention for another reason: what happened to her birth parents? According to her Mistress’ father they were killed like the dogs they were, but he’d spew anything just to get under her skin.
And why did the man allow Iris’ mother to adopt her to begin with? He seemed to hate her because of her demi-human ancestry, so why did he take her in? Or could it have been that someone gave him a reason to allow the matter? According to her adoptive sisters, her father had made a monumental ‘fuck-up’ in the past before being put on a long-term exchange with Sydney. Perhaps her adoption was part of the terms of the exchange then?
And why had the Water Sorceress’ mother wanted to adopt her in the first place. The woman had been distant with her as far as she could remember. They never spoke more than a handful of sentences to one another in the course of a day, and her melancholic expression was always hard to read.
But returning to the original point, there were so many questions surrounding her ‘adoption’ that were unanswered. With so much mystery, she was uncertain if she’d ever uncover the truth behind the strange circumstances of her situation.
To compound onto the issue of her ‘adoption’, the elf didn’t have a great childhood either. She was forced to stay indoors most of the time and never allowed to be outside without wearing a cloak of some sort to hide her natural light-blue hair and elven ears. Whereas her Mistress was always allowed to go play with other children, she was always kept away from everyone except the Water Sorceress’ closest circle of friends to prevent people from learning of her elven heritage.
On the bright side, she was tutored by visiting Maguses from London while growing up. Each helped to train her in the basics of magic. At one point, she even had a tutor dedicated to solely improving her bestiary knowledge. All of her hard work paid off when at the age of nine she began to show talent in the School of Evocation with an Affinity for Ice.
Because she was kept mostly out of sight and away from others aside from her schooling she had more time dedicated to furthering her knowledge of Spellcraft. As a result, her ability to cast magic rapidly grew. She was picking up magic so quickly that by the time she was eleven she began to learn the spell Flight through brute force.
While it was challenging at first, the Ice Evoker managed to slowly overcome the difficulties of brute force learning the spell and soon came to understand the basics of the spell. Though she showed little promise in the School of Transmutation, she was able to continue to hone Flight until she’d mastered all the basics. Doing so, however, took over three years.
Of course, not every moment was peaceful. Her Mistress’ father, a Fire Abjurer with high affinity, was quick to anger. Every day he found something to berate his youngest two daughters for, and often took it out on Luna instead of them. The elf came to expect the racist verbal abuse and would take it as best she could, but it was indisputable that no child should have to go through what that man put his children through.
At the age of twelve, the Ice Evoker entered servitude under the Water Sorceress. Whereas she expected to be turned into a maid of some sort, her Mistress was adamant about making her a personal guard of hers, similar to a knight, to allow her greater freedoms. That way, the elf could continue her life with some changes, mainly the loss of sleep in order to make up the time she lost while serving Iris. The need to sleep rarely ever overcame her anyway.
It was during this time the elf first became acquainted with her Mistress’ friends: Zoey, Eriza and Ren. Zoey, a native Australian, was a proper young woman of the upper class. It seemed as if she was being groomed for something, and if Luna’s thoughts were correct, there may come a day when the girl would be forced to make a horrible choice.
Eriza, the older of the two Isozaki sisters, was quite protective of her younger sister, but otherwise friendly if not an occasionally loose cannon. So long as one meant no harm to Ren, they could awkwardly form a friendship with her.
Finally, Ren, was more timid than her sister, but likewise quite friendly. The soft-spoken girl was soothing for both the heart and mind, likely in part due to her positive aura. The healer was known throughout campus for being a black sheep in that she was the only cleric who had no ties to the church whatsoever.
While Luna tried to keep the relationship between her Mistress and herself formal, the elf made certain not to act too formal. It was likely because of this that she gradually became a part of the human’s circle of friends. It was certainly strange being able to interact with others outside of the girl’s immediate family.
By the age of fourteen, Luna had begun to master the more advanced aspects of Flight. One of her tutors even stated that she should pursue aerial combat as her specialty given how quickly she was picking up advanced techniques. It was shortly after this that she finally achieved Tier 1 in Transmutation.
While at first the evoker took pride in it, she soon found herself in the ire of her Mistress’ father. The man, who’d only degraded her perhaps a couple of times a day in the past, now degraded her every time he had the chance. To make things worse, he’d intentionally praise and compliment her Mistress’ elder sister Skylar in front of them via LRC for significantly lesser achievements.
Her Mistress’ mother, meanwhile, remained mum. She couldn’t tell why the woman never spoke up, and had no way of prying the answer from her, in part because she was a servant but also because they had interacted so little. But the woman also didn’t participate in the abuse either, which was odd.
For two years the elf endured the heightened verbal abuse without a complaint. How could she complain when she was far ahead of where she should have been for the average teen growing up in a Frontier city? So long as her Mistress, Felicity and their friends were kind to her, she felt like she could withstand whatever the man threw at her.
Eventually, the day came when she and the Water Sorceress moved out of the family’s Kirribilli estate and into the dorms at Lilith’s. It was one of the happiest days of her life, finally being free of the man who enjoyed tormenting her so much. Finally, her Mistress’ and her lives would be more peaceful. At least that’s what she’d hoped for.
As expected, the ensuing ten months were peaceful. Her human Mistress spent more time with her friends, tutoring them to help them get a better understanding of magic so that they could stand out amongst Lilith’s students. By July, the group was well known throughout the school.
Rumors were swirling that scouts from Tier 1 universities were watching them, trying to determine if they were worthy of bringing to their city. Things seemed to be on the up and up for their clique.
Unfortunately, not all good things last forever.
Her Mistress’ and her troubles began during the first week of October. London Tower, the Tower the girl’s father was tethered to requested the Water Sorceress’ father and his family return to London sometime before the middle of December. His long-term exchange position at Sydney Tower was coming to a premature end. In response, the father threw a celebration and began making preparations for the return home. The family’s staff were given severance packages or connected to other well-off households in Sydney who would happily hire them.
But that wasn’t the case for Luna’s Mistress.
The girl was the only member of the family to be born in Australia, though Felicity was still an infant when she was brought to Sydney. While Luna’s Mistress held a British citizenship, she never saw herself as British, instead referring to herself as an Australian. To further the issue, she and her father were at complete odds for many reasons.
So when the news came that her family would be returning to London, naturally she made it known that she intended to stay. Every time she and her father saw one another after her declaration an argument ensued. When things began to get out of hand, Luna would always step in and make sure that everyone remained calm. Until one night during the last week in October when the elf was struck across the face by her Mistress’ father. The force behind the blow was so strong that it knocked her down, causing her to hit her head on a table in the process.
In response, a Magus from Sydney Tower who’d been employing an invisibility spell, stepped out and made sure the elf was alright before helping her back onto her feet. He then introduced himself as Magus Burke and addressed the father. A heated confrontation ensued, during which it was made known that her Mistress had been taken under the protection of Sydney Tower at the request of the headmistress of Lilith’s and that she was free to remain as she wished until she graduated from the college the following year. This was pre-approved by London Tower, where the stance on the matter was that the Water Sorceress was born in Sydney and if she chose to pursue becoming a citizen of the Frontier city then she was free to do so. And in the event she did decide to stay, she was free to visit her parents in London in the future so long as she could afford transportation to the Tier 1 city.
Furthermore, though Felicity would be returning to London for the time being, as part of the agreement the Tower in London had of their own volition decided to allow Felicity to make a decision on whether she would return to Sydney to become a citizen of the Commonwealth, or remain as a citizen of the Mageocracy. This was due to her being born shortly before her Mistress’ father was sent to Australia, which brought the question of where her loyalties lied. Of course, she wouldn’t be required to make the decision immediately and would have to wait at least a year before making her decision.
In exchange, Sydney Tower would not release damaging information regarding her Mistress’ father’s questionable actions whilst in Sydney, including the night’s events. Of course, should the combat magus or his wife try to interfere with the agreement, the Tower in London would be more than happy to apply an appropriate punishment.
Having been pushed into a corner, her Mistress’ father, a Fire Abjurer, relented. He promised that he would do his best not to interfere with the agreement made between the two Towers. Even for a man as hot-headed as he was, even he knew that sometimes it truly was best to admit defeat.
On the way to the dorms that night, Luna’s Mistress explained that she went to the headmistress of Lilith’s academy and explained the situation to her. The headmistress didn’t want to lose one of the academy’s star pupils and was also concerned for the wellbeing of Felicity, who was graduating. Because of the woman’s actions, the girl was now free to remain in Sydney and pursue a Commonwealth citizenship.
When asked why Magus Burke was present, Iris admitted that the Tower was likely keeping an eye on them. Given her mother’s connections, it wouldn’t be impossible for her to arrange a group of mages from London to come and whisk her away suddenly. And the Tower knew this, so they’d likely been scrying on them. Whenever they visited the Water Sorceress’ parents estate or were at a place where there was a risk of such an ambush, there was likely a hidden Tower mage or two there. Magus Burke just happened to be that mage that night.
After the night of the confrontation, she and her Mistress hadn’t returned to her parent’s Kirribilli estate. Thus they hadn’t seen the Water Sorceress’’ parents since then, though they did have luncheons with Felicity at least once a week.
Felicity felt abandoned but understood why her sister made the decision she did. Her younger sister promised her elder sibling she would find a way to produce the medicine her older sister needed to stave off her Yarnick’s Disease, and perhaps someone in the world would even find a cure for it soon. All Felicity needed to do was survive until the time a solution for treating the disease came. Reluctantly, the Enchantress promised to leave voluntarily.
Over the following month, her adoptive sister carefully planned for what would come after her parents’ departure. She hadn’t shared the details with her but assured the elf that everything would be taken care of and would work out, at least until after they graduated from Lilith’s. And while Luna didn’t doubt the girl’s capabilities, she felt uneasy about the uncertain future.
By now, they were nearing the end of their jog. Her running partner was lagging behind her, as usual. But Luna had to admit she was getting better at keeping up with her.
Similar to Luna, the Water Sorceress seemed to be deep in her thoughts. So deep that she didn’t notice the elf glancing at her.
It wasn’t long before Lilith’s came back into view. Just as it did, the human sprinted past the elf at full speed. She had a hunch of what the other mage was currently thinking of.
“To the showers!” her Mistress shouted.
There could only be a handful of people who spent as long a time in the shower as her. The elf always attributed the girl’s love of showering to her Affinity with Water. For that reason, she couldn’t blame her for spending almost half an hour in the shower twice a day.
Though Luna tried to catch up, the sprinting human enticed by a shower as if it were a carrot on a stick was too far ahead of her to catch up. Eventually the Evoker resigned herself to defeat, knowing that she could catch her running partner tomorrow if she began sprinting sooner.
And so their morning jog came to an end.
Upon their return to the dorm room, the two took turns showering. Luna’s Mistress went first as the girl always applied makeup whereas the elf seldom did. The Water mage’s chosen outfit for the day was a pastel blue sundress with short heels. The elf, on the other hand, wore a sleeveless black shirt with cargo pants and combat boots, all covered by a light grey cloak.
With their preparations for the morning complete, the two left the dorms and hailed a taxi, making their way to The Mauve Café.
If there was any part of the city that felt alien to Luna, it was the CBD. The tall buildings felt like looming giants ready to come crashing down at any moment. In addition to this, the lack of greenery in general was unsettling. It created an unnaturally oppressive atmosphere.
However, a particular café that opened up a couple of years ago was located in the CBD. The Mauve was famous for its French atmosphere but homely tasting fare. Even now, Luna could smell the fresh pastries and exotic coffees the café was known for. Personally, she preferred the café’s smoothies, as they had a hint of mana.
Usually a breakfast with more mana rich ingredients was preferred by growing mages like the pair but her Mistress had a habit of cheating her routine. Her philosophy was fancy meals eaten every day became boring and made everyday meals seem luxurious. And the Ice Sorceress had to admit her Water counterpart had a point. NoM food was certainly a nice change of pace every now and then.
And so, upon arriving and being seated, the duo ordered half a dozen pastries, a chocolate latte for her Mistress, and a wildland mixed fruit smoothie for herself. Soon their meal was delivered, and they began to enjoy the assortment of muffins and scones.
“Mistress, are you going to learn any new spells for the inter-high competition?” Luna asked before taking a sip of her smoothie, slightly shuddering at the feeling of the cold liquid splashing against her tongue.
The human grabbed a muffin and began to nibble on it while she thought about her answer. When she finally spoke, her response was one Luna wasn’t expecting.
“I honestly don’t know. I wish I knew how to use your Ice Flex but the time it would take to create a water-based version would likely be at least a year because I’d have to learn Evocation and even then there would be the issue of getting the water to act as a sticky piece of chewed gum. Shifting wouldn’t exactly be something doable in time for the competition.”
Luna took another bite of her scone. It was true her spell Ice Flex was an Evocation spell. In its uncontrolled form, it was a cantrip, whereas in its controlled form it was a Tier 1 spell. Given someone as talented as the Water Sorceress sitting across from her, it was certainly doable. But then again, perhaps there was another possibility.
The spell could likely be translated into a Transmutation version with the right tutor. The only issue would be determining how to get the water to ‘hold’ whatever it hit in place. That was likely something nearly unique to Ice. Regardless, because Luna’s Mistress was the Abjurer-Transmuter for Lilith’s 5v5 team it wouldn’t be unreasonable to get her a tutor who could help her modify the spell.
“Yes but you’re a Transmutation-Abjuration hybrid. I don’t think a Transmutation version would be impossible. What you really need is a Spirit. That’d certainly help you.” Luna took a bite out of a cinnamon sugar muffin she grabbed and savored the explosion of the moist warmth contained within the pastry. The pastries at The Mauve always lived up to expectations.
“Well it’s not my fault that my father is the reason we’re stuck here while our friends are out in a Purple Zone.” As soon as the words left her mouth, she blanched. “I’m sorry for lashing out. I just…”
Though the Abjurer was right, she couldn’t blame the girl for her father’s actions. Not only was the man a terrible person, he was also hellbent on causing as much inconvenience as possible on the way out. But soon he would be gone and the duo would never have to deal with him again.
“It’s quite alright, Mistress. Given the stress you’re under, it’s impressive you’ve been able to remain so calm.”
“Still I shouldn’t have lashed out at you. I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright. So, back to the inter-high. Do you have a solid idea of your goal?” The evoker asked while watching her companion take another sip of her latte.
“To draw the attention of a university in Tokyo. If I can do that, perhaps our group can all stay together. The Isozaki’s are pretty hellbent on going to a university in Tokyo or Kyoto to find out what their parents have been hiding from them about their past. Perhaps the university would be interested in you since you’re an elf practicing Western Spellcraft.”
“I’m an still elf though. The cloaks I wear are the only reason I’m able to walk about in public here.”
“True but I’m certain you’d be able to walk around a Tier 1 city with greater freedom than here.” Her Mistress paused to polish off her muffin, then continued speaking. “Think about it, you’d be able to walk down the street without fear.”
“Even so, mages like those who belong to the Grey Faction would have sinister intentions for me. I think until I’m able to hold my own I should remain in Sydney. I know the area better and it feels safer here.”
“You have a point but still. In a Tier 1 city you could continue to improve your Spellcraft much faster and more properly than you could here. We won’t be getting more tutors from London after all.” The Water Abjurer-transmuter paused to take another sip from her latte. “If only there were some elves we could do some sort of exchange with.”
Luna shied away as she bit into a blueberry scone. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to learn elven magic, it was that she was raised by humans. What would other elves think of such a thing? Would they think of her as less of an elf because of it?
“Luna?” The sound of the other girl’s voice caused her to snap back into focus.
“I apologize, I was lost in my thoughts. Mistress, the thing is I’m a elf, not a half-elf. There are likely going to be complications because of that.” Luna resumed munching on her scone while shifting her attention back to the conversation.
“I know but one can hope, can’t they?”
“Of course, Mistress.”
“You know, I bet headmistress-“
A message spell suddenly bloomed in the Water Transmuter’s ear. It was silent and based on the girl’s expression, it was not someone she wanted to be hearing from.
At first she assumed her resting bitch face, then her expression turned sour before quickly changing to surprise. The elf polished off her current scone and sipped on some more of her wildland berry smoothie while awaiting the outcome.
A couple of minutes later, the conversation ended and the human let out an exasperated sigh.
“Mistress is everything alright?”
The look her adoptive sister gave her was unexpected. Whereas she expected annoyance, there was a mix of relief and anger. “Would you like the good news or the bad news first.”
“Bad news, please.”
“You’re going with me to the ISTC station.
That didn’t seem like too terrible news. She didn’t particularly want to go out of her way to the ISTC, but she could only think of one reason why they would go to the ISTC. “And the good?”
“My parents are finally leaving Sydney.”
Luna didn’t know how to feel about the good news. She felt like she should be delighted, but instead she also felt remorse. But why? Her Mistress would be able to put this mess behind her and look to the future. However, she felt like she was forgetting something she couldn’t quite recall.
“That’s good news Mistress. You won’t have to worry about them dragging you with them to London anymore.”
“Yes, but. I just hoped that perhaps they’d come to understand my wishes. I suppose I was asking too much, but how could I leave. You, the Isozaki sisters and Zoey are here. Plus, it’s not stuffy here like I’ve heard London is. Too many politics, I just want to play with magic.”
“I’m glad to hear that Mistress. I’m sure everyone would be glad to know how you appreciate them.”
The other girl smiled for a moment before frowning and sighing. “There’s something else you need to remember before we go. Felicity has no choice but to go with them. The Tower would love to have her remain here. But due to the inability to grow the ingredients for her medicine because of their nature, they believe for at least the next year that she goes with my asshole father while they try to determine if it’s feasible to create an environment to grow the necessary ingredients. And both Towers have signed an agreement to remain neutral on my sister’s citizenship so long as neither side interferes. So don’t give the Tower in London a reason to do something, alright?”
Right, Felicity had to go with her parents so she would continue receive her medicine. Actually, why couldn’t her medicine just be shipped to Australia. Unless...
“Mistress, can’t the medicine be shipped here?”
Her Mistress sighed again. “It’s expensive to produce and the costs are only exacerbated by shipping it since the ingredients can’t be produced in a climate like Australia’s. In addition to this, my father intends to use her as leverage for as long as he can. Until I can secure a high enough income or the ingredients she needs can be grown here, she’s going to be stuck underneath him and exploited. Fortunately, the agreements between the Towers prevent him from arranging a marriage. But still…”
“And you’re sure being apart from her is something she can handle?” Luna knew the two sisters were close, but there were many secrets the two shared that she wasn’t privy to. What was clear was that being separated from one another would adversely affect the pair. Taking another bite of her scone, she pondered if there were other possibilities that they hadn’t thought of which would safely keep Felicity in Sydney.
“Unfortunately my hands are tied behind my back. As much as I want to be with my sister, she’s insisted that I stay for my own safety. She believes a better future is awaiting me here and I respect that,” the Sorceress explained before finishing off her current scone. “She also believes that I’ll find a way to earn enough money to pay for her medicine, at least until she can find solid employment Enchanting. Becoming a good Enchanter is expensive, so I can’t just ask her to pay for her own medicine from the get-go. However, Luna, there is something you can do.”
Luna finished taking a long drag of her smoothie, which was almost empty by now. “Anything for you Mistress.”
“Good, we’ll talk about it after our trip to the Tower,” the girl replied. “Now shall we get this over with?”
“After you, Mistress.”
It was a place Luna definitely didn’t want to be on the last Friday of November. Her Mistress had been summoned by her father to bid them farewell, and at the girl’s request Luna had come along as well. However, the scene that awaited them was unexpected.
Upon their arrival, the pair were led to a room where her Mistress’ parents, their escorts, a party of five Tower Maguses led by Magus Burke and Felicity were waiting. The large gathering was understandable given the Fire Abjurer was a Class IV War Mage with a temper to match. Before she stepped foot in the room, she could already feel the heightened temperature of the air.
Wordlessly, she stood behind her adoptive sister and awaited whatever dreaded family drama was about to unfold. The mother paid them a nod, but said nothing. Luna recognized her expression as one of observance.
Whatever happened next, she like would not be getting involved. And oddly, her clothing was highly formal compared to the other two. Her husband, however, looked defiant, as if he were in control of the room.
Felicity, though she was putting on the calmest face she could muster, was visibly distraught. Luna recalled her Mistress’ request from earlier and tried to remain stone-faced, but couldn’t help softening her expression. Felicity was longingly gazing at her younger sister as if she were in chains and about to be dragged off, begging to be released. It was a sickening sight, given she considered Felicity a friend and knew of her unfortunate situation.
Before anything else, the two sisters walked toward each other and hugged.
“Little sis...” Felicity trailed off as she choked back tears.
“Felicity, the night may be dark and terrifying, but what I truly fear is a relentless, uncontrolled blizzard,” the younger sibling assured the older one. “And don’t forget to keep your head up, we’ll get out of this yet.”
The Enchantress hesitated, unwilling to let go of her sibling. After a few reassuring pats, she spoke up. “I-if you’re certain,” she replied, having seemingly calmed down.
That’s it? Though the two sisters had already talked extensively about what was to come, Luna expected a little more encouragement from her Mistress. Perhaps she was trying to appear steely in front of her father? Even so, a little more compassion to her sister would have been nice, as Felicity was the biggest loser in this whole situation as far as the elf was concerned. Regardless of the Water Sorceress’ orders, she had to step in and make sure the girl would be able to brave the storm that was to come, even if that meant stepping out of line.
“Felicity,” the elf softly spoke.
“Your smile is your greatest weapon. Use it to your advantage. Show them no fear, because what they fear the most is a light that can pierce any shadow. What those who have ill will toward you fear is your bravery.”
It was the best advice the elf could give. Take away her adoptive father’s joy in tormenting her and she would most definitely find a way to survive in London. It felt odd saying it though, as if she were quoting a novel even though she’d made it up in her head over a few moments. Pretty good for a teenager, she guessed.
For a few seconds there was silence. Then with an affirming nod, Felicity walked over from her sister and hugged the elf. Only being able to remember being embraced by her Mistress, she was a little anxious and embarrassed. But returning the hug felt comfortable. There was a warmth in her chest that she rarely experienced, and couldn’t quite describe other than it was pleasant.
After returning the girl’s hug, she watched as the older sister returned to her place next to the teleportation circle with a soft smile on her face. Her father now stared the elf, who stared right back at him, leaving no room in her bold expression for him to exploit. Eventually, he averted his gaze toward his youngest daughter. Luna one, adoptive father zero.
A few moments of tense silence ensued while the two Abjurers measured each other up. Eventually then man spoke first.
“I’m glad you’ve come. I was afraid you would still be acting like a petulant teenager. So, have you taken time to consider your actions,” he inquired, his tone one of admonishment.
“What is there to consider?”
“Staying here of course. Why would you want to wallow in this filthy backwater city any longer than you have to?” There was now a snideness to his voice as he spoke. Though the other Maguses present could do nothing until he’d done something to provoked them, the balls he had to make such a statement spoke volumes.
“Wallow? I can thrive here. I have the chance to show off my talent in the inter-high competition and attract the interest of a university in Japan by my team’s merit. And there are plenty of other opportunities awaiting me here as well. Who knows, perhaps I could one day have a hand in helping bring this city up to Tier 1.”
“Sydney? A tier 1 city? Are you out of your mind?” The man scoffed at his youngest daughter. “Do you really think that this hick town stands a chance of standing among tier 1 cities like London?”
“Perhaps not in my lifetime, but I do believe that someday it will happen.”
The two continued to stare each other down, neither giving a centimeter to the other.
What was wrong with these people? Is this what all families that fought with one another were like? The elf shuddered at the thought. It was so eerie and uncomfortable that it made her want to throw up.
And so far, her adoptive mother continued to keep her observant expression. Now that Luna thought about it, her Mistress’ mother always seemed to work an angle whenever she could. Her youngest daughter mentioned that she was becoming manipulative, and it was best to remain on her good side, but not get close. It wasn’t like Luna could even get close anyway.
The father, however, seemed a little agitated now, realizing that this was the end of his reign over his youngest daughter. His voice became demanding and if Luna were a normal girl, she would be more than a little frightened. “Stop acting like a child and get in the circle. Don’t make me come over there.”
The Maguses in the room tensed up in preparation for the potentially violent outburst from the man. As her Mistress’ guard, Luna readied herself for a fight. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that, but she had to start preparing for such an event. Perhaps she should intervene in the conversation to prevent such an event?
“Father, I was born here, and I have no intention of leaving. Why would one leave everything they have behind for something that would never compare?” the Transmuter replied.
“Compare? How could anything compare to the very birthplace of modern magic? Are you daft? Come now, it’s time to go.” This time, the Fire Abjurer took a step toward his youngest daughter as if to assert his dominance while extending his hand out as if expecting his daughter to take it.
It was a move that Luna wouldn’t allow to go unchallenged. She was, after all, her Mistress’ personal guard. Even for the Water Sorceress’ family, there was a fine line that she would not allow to be crossed. Give a man an inch and he’ll take a mile, so the saying went. So before Magus Burke could intercede, Luna stepped forward and stood between her Mistress and her Mistress’ father.
“Might I remind you that if anything happens to Iris or Felicity, The Shard will be more than happy to intercede.”
The man leered at Luna. It felt as if his eyes were trying to throw spells. If she wasn’t such a dedicated Evoker, she might have become a good Abjurer. The question now was whether he would take the bait or not. And take it he did.
“Filthy elf, how dare you think you have any right to speak,” he sneered, taking another step forward.
Luna held her ground. Now that she’d stepped in, there was no going back. She had to think of a response fast, or the racist might lose his cool. And so she quickly thought about the situation, which led her to the deal between the Towers.
If London Tower was willing to trade the Water Sorceress and Felicity to cover up the man’s actions in Sydney, then he must have been worth quite a bit to London Tower. If whatever Sydney Tower had on him got leaked to the wrong people, there would definitely be an uproar. That fact could be used as leverage. Though the elf wasn’t confident in her ability to negotiate, she wanted to snuff out the spark before it ignited the flame.
“I’m just reminding you of the agreement that was made between the Towers. It would be a shame if your employer heard of what you were doing right now, especially given how much of an asset you must be for them to stick their neck out so far for you. What’s worth more to you? The daughters you’ve constantly berated and called ‘useless’ or your job? Which actually benefits you?”
The man stopped his approach and stood still. She could practically see the cogs turning in his head. His expression began to give a hint of anger. Though he was doing well to hide his emotions, Luna was sure he would pop a vein. Whatever was holding him back had to have been important to him, otherwise the entire room would be full of flames by now. That didn’t mean he would just back down though.
Luna wasn’t going to give up easily either. For her, this wasn’t just about protecting her Mistress. Deep down inside, she had to admit she wanted to pick a fight with the man, and this was the first time she felt like she could stand on even ground with him. But there was only so far this situation could be pushed before it fell apart. She couldn’t afford to look immature after all.
And so the two arrived at a standstill. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a bead of sweat forming on the forehead of one of Burke’s party members.
Eventually, her Mistress’ father let out a frustrated sigh, then stepped back into the circle with the slightest hint of defeat on his expression. His eyes locked with Luna’s. The Abjurer’s stare was one of death, and though Luna wore her bravest face, she now felt fear. The fear of being far out of her league. She knew that she couldn’t beat him in a one on one fight, but now she feared that he might be able to kill her with a single spell.
Fortunately for Luna, her expression was mostly hidden by her cloak. Otherwise the man would have had something to bite her with.
“Very well. If you choose to abandon us for the Commonwealth, then you most certainly are no daughter of mine. You will relinquish the family name and never use it again. Nor will you try to exercise the influence your mother holds as a member of the British nobility,” the Magus declared.
Throwing her out of the nobility? The man wasn’t born of the nobility, so was that even possible? Then again, this was Iris’ father. The man was horrible so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he could do so. Iris’ mother was wrapped around his finger after all. Almost unhealthily so.
“I already planned on doing so. In fact, I even have a name already picked out,” Luna’s Mistress replied.
Unfortunately for Luna, her Mistress seemed intent on continuing to poke the bear. Worse still, she couldn’t tell her not to since she was the girl’s servant. She could only hope that her Mistress wouldn’t go too far in poking at her father.
Before the man could respond, his wife spoke up.
“In that case don’t promise me you’ll do well. Do it. After all, you wouldn’t want your dearest sister to be permanently whisked away from you, would you?”
To emphasize her words, she reached out and stroked underneath Felicity’s chin. The Enchantress froze like a deer in headlights.
A light, airy feeling suddenly came over the elf as she thought about this. It was neither warm, nor was it cold. It felt, calming, but at the same time unearthly. The uneasiness of it somewhat threw her off for a moment, but it soon passed and became a duller sensation.
On instinct, Luna took a step forward. She had only one thought in mind now: save Felicity. Though she didn’t understand why. Impulsively, she began to ready an Iceball, until she felt the strong grip of her Mistress’ hand clamp onto her shoulder tightly.
“Luna,” the girl coldly stated.
In an instant, the bluette stopped in her tracks.
“Look Felicity. The elf acts like she cares so much and yet with a single word from your sister she stops. I wonder how much she really cares about you,” Felicity’s mother taunted.
Luna found herself in turmoil. Her heart demanded that she drag Felicity away from the circle, but her mind demanded that she obey her Mistress’ order. She hadn’t felt like this in a while was as if her guts were being wrenched out of her body.
The sound of Felicity’s voice drew her out of it. Rarely, the demure girl showed a resolve that would shake even a troll to its core.
“Luna, it’s alright. I know you and little sis won’t abandon me. Don’t let her rile you up.”
The Ice Evoker couldn’t tell what caused the girl’s attitude to change so suddenly. But she was glad for it.
The Enchantress was right. Luna walked right into the trap her mistress’ mother laid. It was never intended for the Water Sorceress, but Luna instead. The goal was likely to get her to step out of line and give the Tower in London a reason to renege on the agreement. For all she knew, they could still drag her Mistress kicking and screaming to London if they really wanted to. It wouldn’t end well for anyone though if that was the outcome. And so Luna took a step back, but remained in front of her Mistress.
This time, she bit her tongue for fear of causing further issues. The feeling that had overcome her was fading, but a part of it lingered in the form of a dull sensation.
“All non-travelers please stand clear of the circle,” an operations mage called out.
The mother seemed disappointed by the sudden change of events. Her husband grunted in response, a slight sense of defeat still visible on his expression. Below them, the glyphs of the teleportation circle began to alight.
Felicity painfully waved to the pair. Luna waved back and nodded in an assuring manner to her. A silvery burst of conjuration mana erupted in the room. In an instant her adoptive parents and Felicity were suddenly gone, headed for London. Her parents would never return, but Luna knew she needed to do something to help Felicity. It would take time, but she would help her.
Beside the elf, her adoptive sister let out a sigh of relief. This was the end of a long and contentious battle of wills within her family, and she had mostly prevailed.
“You did well, though a bit more restraint wouldn’t have hurt.”
After a moment passed and the light from the spell faded from the room, one of the mages from the present party chuckled.
“I would feel bad for the people who get stuck with him but…”
“Please, those poor bastards won’t know what hit them.”
“I’d love to see their faces.”
“Hey let’s go out for a celebratory pub crawl tonight, my shout.”
“Last stop better be Essenheiser’s.”
“Their beers suck.”
As Luna made her way back behind her Mistress, Magus Burke approached. His hand extended toward the girl.
“Well done miss. The Middle Faction owes you a favor. Seeing him look defeated was priceless.”
The two shook hands and nodded toward one another.
“I should be the one thanking you and your faction for coming to my aid.”
“It’s no trouble, anything to get that old bastard of a Magus out of here on a sour note. Now get on out of here and enjoy your Friday. You deserve it.”
Before turning to leave her Mistress deeply curtsied toward the Magus, and Luna followed her lead. As her Mistress once told her, pleasantries could get one a long way.
“Thank you again sir. Luna, let’s be on our way.”
“As you wish, Mistress.”
With that, the two walked back outside of the ISTC. Oddly enough, her Mistress seemed distant. Whereas she expected relief and joy the sorceress’ face instead was one of contemplation. Once they were free of their escorts, the elf quickly moved to hail a taxi. It didn’t take long for her to catch the eye of a smiling NoM man.
Sliding into the cab next to her Mistress, she closed the door and buckled in. “We’ll be returning to Lil-“
“Castle Cove, 67 Emerstan Drive, please,” the other girl interrupted.
“It’s a parting ‘gift’ from mother.” The words were uttered with nonchalance. After all the fighting that occurred, expecting anything from her parents was like expecting a Spirit from a Creature Core.
Her Mistress looked to her and smiled softly. “Unlike my father she believes that I can thrive here, though she wants me to prove it to her. So when she sold the Kirribilli Estate she bought this cheaper one and put it in my name. A base of operations is what she called it.”
Her voice was now somewhat distant. It was rare for the girl, given she was often easy going. The Evoker wanted to ask more, but given the tone the Water Sorceress had taken it seemed better not to pry. And so she struck up a conversation with the female NoM driver, who seemed friendly enough.
After roughly a half-hour drive they arrived at the estate, located on the furthest point of the Castle Cove community and facing Peach Tree Bay. The building itself was a two-story Victorian style home, freshly painted in pastel blues. The landscaping outside wasn’t anything high-maintenance but gave off a charming appeal that made the place seem welcoming.
Inside the home was no different than any other. The common areas and two of the bedrooms were fully furnished. The study was sparse but contained a few reference books for Spellcraft. After meandering through the building, it was determined that the only real necessities the home needed at the moment were toiletries and food. But that was to be expected. They were considered adults now by her Mistress’ family, and thus they were supposed to act like it. Fortunately, if they solely lived off their funds with some minor lifestyle changes, they could easily survive a couple of years.
They spent most of the afternoon exploring for any hidden rooms and creating a list of goods they’d need. Eventually, feeling exhausted from the day’s events, they made their way to the deck and lounged in the deck chairs.
Luna’s Mistress elaborated further on what her mother meant at the ISTC: she’d given her daughter the tools to succeed. She explained the Mageocracy’s nobility liked to play games with those in less fortunate situations than them for their own entertainment. And currently, her mother was playing a game using her sisters and Luna as pawns. Eventually the conversation waned and the two stopped speaking.
Luna sat in a deck chair next to her Mistress quietly. The pair having nothing to do was rare, and the elf was intent on enjoying it to the fullest extent. The uneasy, almost dreamy sensation from earlier remained, though it was only a faint feeling at the moment.
Watching the boats slowly meander around Peach Tree Bay and enjoying the cool breeze coming off the bay, the elf wondered what the future would entail. Sure, for now things would finally return to normal, but what about in a year? Would she enlist in mandatory military service or would she follow her Mistress into university?
Looking at the Sorceress, however, she saw a more pressing issue. The girl had been acting differently ever since the departure of her parents. The Water Sorceress was staring off into the distance with a contemplative look on her face. Did she regret not going with Felicity?
Just as Luna was about to speak up, the Transmuter seemed to stir from her thoughts and notice her concerned expression.
“Sorry I was… contemplating things.”
“It’s quite alright Mistress,” she replied.
Perhaps a distraction would be helpful. There was the burning question that had arisen from what the Fire Abjurer had said earlier.
“Actually, can I ask you a question?”
“Ask away,” the other girl replied happily. She seemed to take well to the idea of being distracted from her current thoughts.
“I know you’d rather not talk about your parents. But about your father. Is it true that he can take away your nobility?”
At first the other girl frowned at her while raising a brow. When the elf didn’t change her inquiring expression, the human realized she was serious. “I suppose he can, since he has my mother held close to the chest. Not that it matters anyway, I have no intention of returning to London.”
Iris looked back out at the bay longingly. A small chuckle escaped the girl’s lips.
“I wonder what Eden would think of us now.”
Luna recalled her eldest adoptive sister. The one who’d always made time to mentor her and encourage her to become a great mage. Did she understand the system was terribly rigged against her? Even Magus Burke, a member of the neutral Middle Faction, seemed hesitant to be around her.
Regardless, she knew that deep down Eden did care about her. But would they see each other again? Surely the girl had graduated from Cambridge by now.
“I honestly don’t know,” Luna replied, mulling over whether or not Eden was still the big sister she fondly remembered.
A silence ensued between the two as they took in the quiet sight overlooking the city. It wasn’t like the waterside view in Kirribilli, but it certainly was better than the view from the dorms at Lilith’s. The soft lapping of the waves against the shore was enough to almost lull the elf to sleep.
It was the other Sorceress who spoke first. “Luna, I hope you understand that things are going to change from here on.”
“Of course Mistress.”
It was only natural that things would change from hereon. With the departure of her Mistress’ parents, it was now on them to survive. Technically, they were adults now.
Luna turned her head in the direction of the Water Transmuter, noticing the girl’s contemplative look had returned. In addition to this, she was now twiddling her fingers. A nervous habit the girl had since childhood. Whenever there was something she was nervous speaking about, she would twiddle her thumbs and try to avoid speaking about it.
“Change is something that I’m not used to. Sure, I’m grateful that I get to stay in Sydney but,” her Mistress mused before sighing. “Luna there’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now but I haven’t been able to do it because my parents were around.”
Luna watched her adoptive sister take a deep breath. She tensed up bit, uncertain of whether or not she was prepared for what was to come.
After letting out her deep breath, the Water Transmuter spoke. “Luna, you’ve been by my side since I was little as my adopted sister and as my servant for the past four years. I want you to be able to do whatever you wish to do in the future. You’re my adopted sister. I want to go back to the way things were when we were younger. So I want to absolve our master-servant relationship.”
The way things were when they were younger? Back when they were kids who laughed at the world that they now understood to be so awful. She honestly wasn’t certain if she’d be able to do such a thing.
The elf would love for nothing more than for Iris to see her as her adopted-sister again. That would be a dream come true. The absolution of the relationship as master and servant would certainly make that a reality. But was Iris truly serious about doing so?
“Iris, are you serious? After everything that’s happened can we actually go back to the way things were? If we can, then I’d love to, but…” the Ice Sorceress trailed off.
“Of course we can. Did you think I was honestly going to keep you as my servant forever?”
“I-I kind of did actually.”
Immediately, Iris’ face blanched and her expression became one of mild surprise.
“Am I that good of an actor?”
Indeed, the girl was pretty good at acting. That or the elf had brainwashed herself into believing that she’d always be Iris’ servant. But that may have been because Iris’ father seemed bent on enforcing the master-servant relationship between herself and her adoptive sister. It could be both for all she knew.
Although, the more she thought about the brainwashing part, the more it made sense to her. Had Iris ever stopped treating her like she was her adoptive sister aside from when the girl was in front of her parents?
The answer was no. It was Luna herself that had mostly kept up the charade of believing they were master and servant.
And according to Iris, it was time for that charade to come to an end.
“You are,” Luna admitted. “That and I might have brainwashed myself into believing that I was supposed to be your servant, that it was my fate.”
“There’s no way I could ever do that to you. I’ve always wanted you to thrive, and I never stopped seeing you as my adopted sister. Regardless of what everyone else may think,” Iris replied before pausing. “Oh dear, this is going to be an interesting conversation with the Isozaki sisters and Zoey, isn’t it?”
Thought their friends might have bought into the idea that she and her adoptive sister were master and servant, it wasn’t likely. There were other factors affecting her judgement that wouldn’t have affected their friends’ judgement. Namely, Iris’s father and herself.
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about Mistress. The only reason I believed it was likely because of a few other factors that were only relevant to my situation. I think they’ll understand this with greater ease than I have. I’m still in shock after all. But I need to know, are you serious about this?”
Next to her, the Water Sorceress furrowed her brows for a moment, then smiled. Without speaking, she stood up. It would feel awkward to remain sitting down, so the Ice Sorceress stood up as well. After a moment, the Abjurer began to speak.
“Luna, as of this moment we’re no longer master and servant. And don’t think I’m going to throw you out either. You’re my sister, we’ll get through this together,” the Water Sorceress stated before pulling her sister into a tight hug.
In response, Luna hugged back. For four years, she’d acted as her adoptive sister’s servant, and now she was free. Free to pursue whatever future she wished to pursue. That didn’t mean she was going to leave Iris though. Rather, she wanted to stay with the girl in the future, but this time as her sister.
If she weren’t so exhausted, she’d likely have been jumping up and down and completely giddy. But that dreamy feeling from earlier kept nagging at her. It made her feel incredibly tired, draining away most of the energy boost this moment was giving her.
She was free now. Free to do as she wished and not have to worry about making sure the girl’s needs were taken care of. Iris would probably feel better too, now that the elf wouldn’t constantly be at her side waiting on her.
“Thank you, Mist- Iris. I honestly don’t know what to say.”
“You can start by calling me Iris again. I’m your adoptive sister after all. Oh, and I’ll be going by the last name Aria in the future.”
“As you wish, Iris. But why Aria?”
“I might have taken to Ren’s beliefs a bit. In the end, we’re all truly part of a larger piece, aren’t we?”
The Ice Sorceress mulled over the new name for a moment. In reality, there was a point to that statement. Everyone was a part of someone else’s story. It was certainly an interesting way to look at things.
“I think it’s a lovely name. It makes sense you’d pick something like that too.”
Before Iris replied, her stomach emitted a loud growl. The day’s events had been so hectic that they hadn’t even planned for dinner.
Seeing as how she and Iris were going to be acting like sisters again, Luna decided it was best to start acting like the girl Iris remembered.
“So sis, what are we going to eat tonight?”
“Now that’s what I like to hear! Let’s order in from The Yellow Reef, its nearby and inexpensive. We’ll celebrate our renewed relationship as just sisters!”
After they’d finished their fish and chips dinner, the two returned to the deck to watch the pink sky fade to blue and then eventually dark purple. Though it was still quite humid out, it wasn’t as hot as it had been earlier in the day.
Iris explained that she wanted to relax and watch the evening fade to night whilst making sure the elf understood the changes that would soon be coming to their lives.
First and foremost, there would be no more tutors visiting from London to train them. Because of this, they would mostly starved in terms of furthering their understanding of Spellcraft for the foreseeable future. However, as long as they maintained the knowledge they’d already learned, they wouldn’t have any issues getting into a tier 1 university.
In addition to this, Iris had roughly five thousand HDMs to her name. It was a considerable amount, given the fact that they were merely high school girls. But at the same time, it wasn’t enough for one to rest on one’s laurels for the rest of their lives. However, if they were conservative they wouldn’t have any monetary issues for at least a couple of years.
Iris would need to visit the Tower to start the process of becoming a citizen of the Commonwealth. It would likely take a few months to complete the process. Fortunately, because she was born in Australia, her application may end up being fast-tracked.
In terms of Felicity, that matter was mostly the issue of the two Towers, but if possible, Iris wanted to somehow fast track her older sister returning to Sydney. However, there was no clear way to go about the issue, and it wasn’t as if the solution would just pop out of thin air. It was a matter that for now required two things: Felicity to be brave and survive, and time to pass for a solution to arise. For now, it was quite possible Iris would enroll in a university before a solution emerged.
There was also the issue regarding where Iris would eventually attend university. Currently, her team was hoping to remain together by impressing a university in Tokyo and attending university together. But that would mean that Luna may be left behind, which was the source of the fifth and final issue.
What would Luna do? Would she go with them? Or would she pursue instruction in elven magic while everyone was away at university? It was a question Luna didn’t have an answer for. The eventual decision she would have to make would soon be fast approaching.
And so now they sat on the back deck again, the night having come, staring up at the stars.
“Thanks for being so nice to me.”
“Of course! We’re sisters, we have to look out for each other.”
Sisters. It felt right to say it, though at first it had been a shock. She’d always been close with Iris, but slowly she’d felt like she’d become increasingly closer with the girl.
As for the future, she wasn’t so certain. Iris had her heart set on keeping her group of friends together. But if they did manage to remain together, would she be accepted for what she was wherever they ended up?
Luna pushed the thoughts from her mind. She didn’t want to think about it anymore. The day had been exhausting, but good. For the first time in her life, Luna felt like she had an open future. But what would she do with that future?
The uneasy, dreamy feeling from earlier began to embrace her once again. But this time it was overpowering. She closed her eyes and prepared to brave whatever unpleasant sensation was to come. Instead, she felt the gentle embrace of unconsciousness taking over her.
Iris watched as the boats meandered home from the bay, though her mind was elsewhere. How was she going to protect Luna in the future? She wouldn’t be able to hide her elven appearance forever, that wouldn’t be fair to the elf.
But it wasn’t like the girl would simply be accepted for who she was. She needed Luna to get stronger so that she could protect herself against those who would harm her. It didn’t take a genius to know that someone may want to dissect her. After all, she had to be a rare kind of elf based solely on the wild natural color of her hair: pastel blue.
From what she knew, her adopted sister was from somewhere in Scandinavia or the Mageocracy and was brought to Sydney under mysterious circumstances under the apparent condition that once the girl turned twelve, she would begin serving her. If she called in her favor, she could probably find out more about the situation. But that favor could be much better utilized somewhere else.
At the very least, when she visited the Tower the next day she could inquire if any elves resided in the city. Though that was a longshot given Sydney was a Frontier City and most human cities were xenophobic. Perhaps they’d be in luck and the Tower could contact an elven village on their behalf. That was a longshot as well, but maybe, just maybe they would get lucky.
The real question was: if Luna came under the tutelage of an elf and left to go stay in their village would she come back? Elves were much more advanced than humanity in terms of magic and they were quite secretive about it. But could Iris really blame the elf if she didn’t want to return?
She’d been a horrible friend to the girl, treating her mostly as a servant for years and to a degree, even neglecting her. Being a naïve teenager wasn’t an excuse either. So if Luna left her life forever, how could she blame her?
She had to do better in the future, even if it significantly cost her in the long run. That was the only way she could make things right. But it wasn’t just about making things right. She wanted to see Luna thrive.
Her entire life she’d watched Luna get stronger and stronger. She could tell that the girl longed to be more than just a servant. And the elf remained kind to her the entire way. It was sickening, like clipping an owl’s wings and watching it stare at the sky, longing for the Flight it would never be able to take. That was a miserable way to live.
That could be tomorrow’s problem though. A full night’s rest would help clear the mind and then a plan for the next few months could be created the next day. Upon getting up, she realized Luna was still lying on her deck chair, though she was now sleeping. She must have lost track of time while contemplating.
Carefully, she lifted up the elf like a princess and gently cradled. The girl’s body had a sort of light feeling to it she couldn’t quite describe. Perhaps she felt better now that the elf was no longer her servant? It didn’t matter to Iris so long as the girl was feeling better than before.
After laying Luna on her bed and covering her up, Iris made her way to her own bed, to hopefully dream of the future that she sought to make a reality.