The next day, Rowen and Milly hurried down the road toward the Adventurer Guild. Atypically, Rowen was not being dragged by Milly and instead was hurrying ahead of her in an excited state.
“Thank-goodness your dad gave me that herbal medicine, otherwise I’m afraid I would be unable to run!” Rowen called back to Milly.
“Yeah, that was a tough workout,” she agreed with him, “Ha, I’m beating you now!” She overtook him in the last stretch as they reached the guild doors.
Rowen smiled resignedly, “Fine, you beat me again. Better enjoy while it last because this prince will grow up some day and beat you.”
“It’s good to have dreams, huh Rowen?” Milly chuckled, “Try not to lose them in your despair from eating my dust.”
Between the shared training, constant company, and mutual dependence, the two of them had left the acquaintance stage and entered the friendship stage of relationships. As such, there teasing had become commonplace.
When they entered the Adventurer Guild, one the receptionists walked over to them and greeted them.
“Good morning Rowen, are you ready for your affinity test?” she asked him politely.
Rowen nodded, “Yes, I am Bella. Can my friend Milly also take the test with me?” Milly put on her best pleading face next to him.
Bella giggled softly, “Of course she can Rowen. The test is quite simple, and there are instances of children gaining magic affinity through their actions. In fact, when you are done getting tested, the Guild-Master has declared that anyone can take the test for a small fee. Since Milly is your friend, she can take it free of charge.”
“Thank-you Bella,” Rowen said in relief, “Can we take the test now?”
Bella gestured that they follow her, and she led him across the ground floor to one of the side corridors. Opening one of the rooms on the left, she guided them inside and bowed.
“Master Mary, I have brought Rowen and his friend to be tested.”
Mary, who had been fiddling with a small contraption, turned her head and smiled at the two children, “Thank-you for your help Bella. You can return to your normal duties now.” Bella bowed again and left the room.
Mary faced the children with a pleasant expression, “Are you ready for this Rowen? Not that it requires any effort or pain on your part.”
“Yes ma’am,” Rowen said respectfully, “Are we still training this afternoon?”
“What do you think?” Mary’s face turned slightly sadistic for a moment before she caught herself and coughed, “Anyway, the test is quite simple. Merely place your dominant hand’s palm on this crystal.”
As she indicated the crystal, Rowen studied the device in front of him. The centerpiece was a large, round crystal that would fit snugly in a grown man’s hand. It sat on a metal holster above a series of strings and gears that led down to a pen-like object sitting on a piece of paper.
“Impressive isn’t it,” Mary said, “This is one of the best-known inventions of the technomancer, the affinity stone device. Using both magic and machinery, it can indicate your main affinity by the color of the crystal and then writes all your affinities in detail on the parchment beneath. The crystal is the most expensive part though; it’s made from a pure soul stone.”
Rowen nodded his head. This device was new to him; the tests in his time were done by praying to the gods for a sign.
‘How the world has changed in my sleep,’ he thought to himself, ‘Technology has come so far; I wonder what the cities of rich countries look like now in comparison . . .”
In the real world, Rowen stepped forward and placed his hand on the crystal. It barely covered the clear ball. The machine whirled to life, the gears spinning and the lines moving as it began to measure his power. After a few moments, the crystal began to glow.
“Your colors are black and grey,” Mary reported in surprise, “This indicates an equal affinity in darkness magic and control magic. It’s rare to find someone with two attributes of equal expression.”
“Didn’t the visiting Magus have two affinities?” Milly spoke up from the side.
“Yes, he is formerly known as the Magus of Fire and Ice; he holds an even rarer combination of two opposing element affinities. While it doesn’t always mean it, holding two affinities is a good indicator for magus potential,” Mary agreed.
After a minute of whirling and sputtering, the pen below began to write along the parchment in quick, precise strokes. When it was finished, Mary took the paper and read it, a frown forming on her face.
“Is something wrong?” Rowen asked nervously.
Mary sighed and shook her head, “No, not really. It’s nothing to do with you . . .”
She paused and considered speaking for a moment. Finally, she relented and said, “According to this, you have an amazing potential to be a necromancer. You rank high in both darkness magic and undead sorcery in the control magic class. Not only would you be able to control the dead and undead, you would be able to cast powerful dark magic to increase the strength of your creations and weaken your enemies. The problem here is that this town is not the best place to learn this type of magic due the trauma inflicted by the invasion of the Tomb of the Forgotten King.”
Rowen felt both relief and guilt in his heart, and in his and Mary’s distraction they failed to notice the quick expression change of on Milly’s face; it had been one of excitement and possibly adoration.
“Well, there is nothing to be done about this,” Mary decided, “This is who you are, I will not judge on what you could do with this power. I believe a person should be treated according to their actions; I will do my best to teach you to control this power. We will start first thing this afternoon.”
“Thank-you ma’am, for teaching me,” Rowen bowed deeply, his heart grateful to this fair treatment.
Mary smiled warmly at him, “You’re my first male disciple; I’m going to be judging you to a high standard. Wait till you meet your elder sister apprentice to see what I mean.”
Milly raised her hand slowly, “Excuse me, may I also take the test?”
Mary gave a nod to her, “Let me replace the parchment first, and then you can go.” She reached over and took a sheet from a stack of waiting papers. After inserting it beneath the device, she took a step back and allowed Milly to approve.
When Milly placed her hand on the machine, it activated and began to glow gold. Mary gave a gasp as she beheld the golden glow.
“Amazing, that is the color of divine magic! This would appear for those of the clergy or chosen. Since you are not a priest in training that must mean you have been chosen to be a representative of a god or goddess!”
As she said this however, her heart couldn’t help but ache at the memory of another chosen, one who had been her apprentice.
Rowen stared in shock at Milly, who turned her head to give him a cheeky smile. By her face, she had clearly known this was going to be the result.
When the pen finished writing, Mary quickly took the paper and began to read it in excitement. However, her face almost immediately fell into horror, and she quickly ripped up the paper and set it aflame.
Milly and Rowen, startled by this, jumped away. “What is it?” Milly asked carefully, her hand twitching toward her back for a moment.
Mary took a calming breath and turned away from the two of them.
“You two, are you both aware of the nature of the gods and goddesses in our land,” she asked slowly.
“Yes ma’am,” they both answered her.
Mary shook her head, “In this country, the gods and goddesses of order are worshiped. Those of the neutral pantheon are frowned upon except in courts, and those of the chaotic pantheon are feared and hated. Milly, as a chosen you must have met an avatar who declared itself unto you. If not in name, then in actions.”
“She told me to protect who and what I wanted, to do what I desired,” Milly admitted slowly.
Mary’s head hung, “Yes, that would be correct for her. She is the most chaotic out of all the goddesses after all. She is both lust and love, both blood-thirsty and peaceful, and both shield and sword. The goddess who has chosen you is Temtra, goddess of desire, the formless one, honorary leader of the demons of lust and scourge of all men. As her chosen, you must pertain to one of her greatest aspects. I’m guessing the desire to protect from what I’ve heard of you.”
“Are you going to kill me?” Milly’s voice was strangely detached from any emotion, as if coming from a far away place.
Rowen panicked, “Ma’am, you can’t! Please, don’t hurt her!”
Mary turned to face them and raised an eyebrow, “Really, the both of you, didn’t you hear what I said earlier? I don’t judge possibilities, only that which has come to past. One of my past apprentices was a chosen, so I understand this isn’t something lightly given or rejected. At best, rejecting the position of chosen will merely maim you. At worst, you could end up experiencing a fate worse then death. I will not force this on you.”
“However,” she continued, “You must never reveal this to anyone, including trusted family and friends. Don’t underestimate the fear and hate being a chosen of chaos can bring, especially now with the empire being such a danger to our existence. Especially do not the priests know; in times of danger some fanatics have been known to burn chosen alive to appease the masses.”
Milly gasped and held up her hand to her mouth, “Could that happen to me?”
“I hope not,” Mary declared solemnly, “but who can say? You humans are different from elves, more prone to rash decisions based on emotion rather than reason. Better to keep it hidden and safe then risk it. I’m guessing Temtra left you with some manner of defense that you practice; you should take steps to make sure no one discovers where you do this.”
“Can you help her ma’am?” Rowen asked pleadingly, “Maybe a spare room here in the guild where you can do whatever she does safetly?”
Mary shook her head resolutely, “No. As Guild-Master of this Adventurer’s Guild, I cannot risk associating with a chosen from the chaotic faction. The most I can do is not reveal your identity and give you advise. Any more help, and the guild is liable to receive blowback from whatever fate befalls you. I’m sorry Milly, but you must face this fate alone.”
Rowen glared and grabbed Milly’s hand, “No, I’ll face this with her! She’s the friend and benefactor of this prince, so I won’t allow anything to happen to her!”
Milly blushed and stared down at his hand holding hers, but said nothing.
Mary chuckled at the sight, “Well, I certainly cannot tell you to avoid her since you are living with her. Take care Rowen, for if your connection to her is revealed I won’t be able to do much to protect you even if you are my apprentice. Placating a mob is very difficult.”
“I understand,” Rowen jerked his head, “but a prince never goes back on his word.”
“At least that foolish pride is good for something,” Mary muttered under her breath, “Anyway, we should . . .”
An explosion shook the room, causing Milly and Rowen to fall to the ground. Mary’s eyes turned red, and she thrust out her hand and created a red shield around the three of them.
The doorway exploded, the debris smashing into the blood-red shield.
Mary activated a strange charm around her neck, “Attention all adventurers, this guild master Mary. An enemy has attacked the guild, repeat, an enemy has launched an offensive strike against the Adventurer Guild. All adventurers, prepare to repel the enemy!”