Mulengu never realized just how cold the lower levels of the Ashikage household were. The dark stone walls that composed the tunnels and rooms of these rather ominous levels had a chill to them that wasn't natural.
The deeper he went down the dark caverns and passages, the colder it got.
Mulengu had never encountered winter before, but even he knew that the biting touch of the cold that seeped into his very bones was greater than any natural blizzard had any right to be.
He cursed at Ursa for coming down here so that he could come retrieve her like some kind of common messenger boy. His teeth rattled together like a serpents tail as he descended even deeper and deeper as all warmth had departed from his body and light was being swallowed by the black shadows around him.
As he passed another level he heard the sound of a girls voice shrieking in surprise from one of the rooms to his right.
"That better be her " he thought as he pushed against the freezing cold stone door that almost seemed to bite him from simple contact.
The door opened none the less and he found non other that Tomoe Ashikage and her ever silent bodyguard Benkei in a library of sorts with a green flame at its center that seemed to banish the cold itself out of this room like spring did to winter.
In Tomoe's hands was a great book with a leather cover that seemed to have been created from some animal hide. Mulengu didn't exactly know what this book was but from amount of magical energy that he could feel leaking off of it, it wasn't an ordinary book by any means.
Not so far from Tomoe, Benkei stood in silence as he watched Tomoe continue to flip through the pages of the book with a frustrated frown upon her face. He was like a she wolf watching her pup in vigilance, awaiting any sign of danger for him to jump in, but until then he simply stood silently.
Even though he had once made fun him, Benkei intimidated Mulengu. His hulking frame had nothing to do with this however. No, it was his statue like demeanor, Mulengu had not seen him blink or show any signs of discomfort over the fact that he simply stood in the same position as he over looked Tomoe like a hawk, frankly it was unsettling to watch and if Benkei ever fought him while in this state, Mulengu was sure that it would throw him off his game.
The closing door behind him made a sharp ear stubbing sound that alerted the two to their new guest. Tomoe answered this revelation with surprise, Benkei with a glare as his hand moved towards the short sword strapped onto his side.
"Hey guys" Mulengu awkwardly waved his had them hoping that the uncomfortable air could be blown away.
While Tomoe seemed to get more relaxed by the realization that it was simply him, Benkei did not and his grip still rested around the handle of his blade with a threatening glare in his eyes.
"What are you doing down here?" Tomoe asked as Benkei glared at him accusingly.
"Trying to find your cousin" Mulengu answered her as he neared the fire so that the last amounts of cold that had unnaturally clung on to him were washed away by the heat.
Mulengu was only able to catch a glimpse of it, but he saw Tomoe blink at the mention of Ursa and Benkei who normally had as much emotion as a rock showed anger.
"Did something happen between you guy's?" He asked Tomoe puzzled by this response.
Since the two had met at the fortress Mulengu knew that Tomoe and Ursa had no love for each other what's so ever. The constant bickering and snide remarks easily confirmed that, this reaction from Tomoe though was new, she almost looked conflicted or confused for the lack of a better term.
Tomoe opened her mouth as if she would give him a response, but she closed it and became silent as something was clearly running through her head.
Benkei began to step closer to Mulengu with his sword drawn and his body languages screaming that he sought to drive Mulengu out of the room.
Mulengu placed his own hand around his sword Harbinger as he felt that familiar rush of chaos energy bursting out of him and coating his body.
"Don't pull a sword on me unless you are willing to lose an important body part Benkei" he might have found the guy intimidating, but if Benkei wanted them to fight then Mulengu would strike him with fury of a recoiling serpent.
"Both of you stand down!" Tomoe ordered them as she jumped between the two of them.
"Tell your boyfriend not to get in my face" Mulengu pushed back Harbinger into his scabbard.
"He is my cousin you jerk" Tomoe snapped at him in response to his barb.
" I don't like him" Benkei said in his gruffy voice as he turned from the both of them and returned to his guarding position.
"You're not my most favorite person to princess" Mulengu stuck his tongue out at Benkei.
"You two are children" Tomoe muttered in disappointment in such a way that Mulengu realized just how similar to Ursa she was.
"What are you doing here?" He asked them.
He wondered why Tomoe would be here of all places instead of in the arena along with the rest of her family.
"I am trying out a spell for any possible fight" Tomoe answered him as she returned to the book that she had been studying.
"That's a Grimoire isn't it?" He asked as got closer to the book and as he focused on it, he caught a glimpse of the mystical codes engraved into it.
"It's an old spell, something my forebears created to attain victory against any foe"she continued as she traced the pages that had hardened and turned yellow with age.
" If you are planning on using that for the tournament fights then forget it" he said to her as he remembered the many instructions that Morigan had beaten into his head.
"Excuse me!?" She shouted at him as she slammed the book in anger.
Her face reminded him of a snarling hound that was ready to tear him apart. He unconsciously felt his hand rest across his pummel.
"Whoa calm down" he raised both of his arms to signify his surrender to the angered Ashikage "I am telling you that such spells take time to create. If you're spell is as good as you say then i doubt that you could manage it as fast as you think".
" I am not trying to create a Alpha-Spell " she said in defeat as she closed the book with a heavy sigh that made her seem more tired than he had noticed below.
"I am sorry, you can try something useful but less complex" he said as he placed the his right arm upon the table and suddenly he felt self conscious as he saw Tomoe and Benkeis eye's upon his arm.
Their eyes felt like burning beams of fire that tore into the very flesh of his arms. He instinctively tried to move his arm away from their sight least they see the serpent imprinted upon his flesh.
"You are an Animus?" Tomoe must have been asking but it felt like she was stating a fact.
"What... No!" Mulengu didn't know why, but he angrily said defensively.
The only animus he knew of were Ishtar and Morigan. He had never tried to learn much about their art's so he knew nothing about it.
" Then explain that" she pointed at the mark upon his right arm " The Magical code that compose it are an animus's".
"This is just a mark that appeared on me a months ago" he wasn't sure why he was being honest to Tomoe. She wasn't his friend, nor was she anyone he had a great amount of trust in.
"It's an animus mark" Tomoe stated as she grabbed his arm and ran her her fingers across it like he had when he first discovered it in it.
"Well i didn't know that" he pulled his arm from her.
Tomoe looked at him as if he was one of the books that she had been studying. Those purple eyes bore deep into him, leaving him feeling the need to flee as he tried to imagine what Tomoe was imaging.
" She is just like Ursa " whenever Ursa had a similar face, thinking similar thoughts, Mulengu and the others suffered unfortunate experiments or trails that only a sadist could cook up.
"Now look here..." He was backing away to the cold door behind, feeling the icy touch was more comfortable than the warm embrace that led to Tomoe.
"I can teach you" her words halted him from fleeing like he was being pursued by some kind of beast.
She neared him and Mulengu felt unnerved as he looked into her purple eyes that almost seemed to flay his flesh off and look into his unclothed soul.
"I have studied the art before... I was unable to fully master learn the style of magic" she explained as she looked at the mark upon his arm.
"Look even if you teach me this, i won't be able to get up to use in this tournament, these things take time".
" That doesn't matter, you have already passed the hard step. That mark is the central magical code of the a animus, from what i can glean it's high quality. Your next step should be finding a beast to bind and add to your code".
As she spoke, Tomoe rummaged through the rooms many compartments that were filled with all manners of arcane arts from tomes to the remains of magical beasts locked in jars, for use in potions.
"Found it!" Tomoe declared as she pulled out a small grey stone from the piles of items that she had been searching.
She presented it to him and truthfully Mulengu wasn't impresses in any serious way. The stone was a gray square with some carvings engraved into it. It was soft and smooth, leaving Mulengu thinking about how long it's crafter had to work upon it, in order to get this beautiful texture.
"What is this?" He asked as he tried to sense even a spark of Mana from the stone, but nothing answered him.
"Its a calling stone. It is used to seek out powerful magical creatures from beyond and seek to form a contract with them. It will be a symbol of your contract with them".
Tomoe explained and Benkei grunted as if to remind them of his presence, after he had remained so silent that Mulengu had forgotten that the hulking bodyguard was present.
" Are you sure about this?" Mulengu was nervous as he asked.
The memories of his two hauntings by the serpent still fresh in his mind, and a fear that it would be what he could summon shook the red knight to his very bones.
"My old teacher was skilled in these arts, she could have never been wrong about this".
" Fine" Mulengu steeled his veins as he looked the little stone box that was no longer unimpressive in his eyes but rather ominous.
It felt like holding a box that either held a gift that would bless him or a curse that would kill him. That day Mulengu was sweating as if water was poured upon his head and his mind was running so fast and for so long that it actually hurt.
"Should... Should i..." He didn't know how to work this contraption that was currently the most terrifying thing that he had beheld.
"Not down here, should we summon something a little too big, the whole house might be uprooted" she instructed him.
It was then in his brain storm that it returned to him why he had ventured into the cold halls and tunnels of the Ashikage hell scape they called their favourite levels.
"Are we going outside?".
" Of course, where else could we try this?" Tomoe asked in confusion as she grabbed a thick jacket that was resting upon the table.
" Sure, but only after i find Ursa " he had been sidetracked too much already.
"Benkei can go find Ursa" she turned to the big man who granted in agreement.
And so Tomoe's guardian shadow slinked away from her and into the rest of the cold lower levels that made Mulengu shudder as his body realized it would once more have to brave the cold when leaving this place.
"He does everything you say and follows you around like a guard dog. What is he your servant?" Mulengu asked her as they both left the warm room with Tomoe clutching on to a bag filled with a thousand spell books.
"Benkei is my cousin, i thought that i explained this to you before..." Tomoe went silent as if she was debating to tell him anything else " ...my uncle Hanzo adopted him and well, he promised to protect me when we were kids".
"Hanzo, sounds like a nice guy".
" He is a great man. A pity those are quite rear to find these days" she answered him as she blew hot breath upon her trembling fingers.
"Why is it so cold down here?".
" These walls are made of condensed Mana, they draw all manners of energy into themselves " Tomoe answered as she walked a little faster ahead of him "They were Grandfather's creation".
" heard about him, wasn't much of a nice guy".
"He was a monster" as she spoke Mulengu swore that he could see a haunted look in her eyes.
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I am a 21 year old law school student at the National Institute of Public Administration. My dream is to one day publish my story phantom ddriag and hopefully get a show made from it.
I also have a youtube account that hundels web fiction content, here is the link https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCFz-mHywXBJnLF8uyofcLAw/videos