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Scarlett sighed deeply after Evelyne left the office. That did not go as well as she had wanted. The original Scarlett's personality was more twisted than she'd thought.

The moment Evelyne had entered the room it had felt like Scarlett was overwhelmed by a wave of loathing. This wasn't Scarlett merely disliking her sister. This was complete repulsion. She was sickened by Evelyne's mere existence. And all of that hatred from the original Scarlett came rushing at her all at the same time. As disturbing as it was to have such feelings forced onto you against your will, it was more disturbing that Scarlett felt like that to begin with. It had taken all her willpower just to speak with Evelyne relatively normally just now. Although she had also ended up agreeing with everything the original Scarlett's younger sister wanted just to get her to leave.

Not that she minded that part too much. In the game Evelyne had been a decent enough character and the one who actually took care of most of the Hartford family's management. She was bound to know more about any matters than her.

But this did make it clear to what extent Scarlett was affected by the original's personality.

Drumming her fingers against the desk, she looked out across the office. She had to figure out what to do next. If this world truly was like the game, then there were a lot of dangers just waiting to happen. Especially for her character. And though she was slightly curious, she didn't want to find out what would happen if she were to die as Scarlett. Naturally, that meant figuring out how to survive.

Scarlett was a low-level villain so even amongst NPCs in 'Chronicle of Realms', she was on the weaker side. [Third-rate Mana Veins] and [Minor Mana-control] both showcased that. [Minor Mana-control] was one of the starting traits for the player if they chose a mage route and lowered mana costs in general. In her first playthrough, she'd already managed to level that to [Mana-control] by the time she faced Scarlett and her goons. The problem was that she didn't know how to upgrade this version of it. In the game the player earned experience with skills and slowly leveled them up like that. But her status window didn't indicate any such feature. In fact, it lacked a lot of the features that the player's status window had in the game. To add to that, she had no idea of how to use her apparent magic, nor did she have much mana to begin with.

[Mana: 967/967]

This was even less than the player had at the start of the game. Two or three low-level spells would probably run her dry.

This did explain why Scarlett did so little in the game when you fought her. Instead she relied on her underlings' strength in that fight. But she didn't know who those underlings were. Nor did she really want to know, considering most of them were ruthless criminals.

But then what was her priority? Growing stronger? Finding strong people to work for her? Going into hiding?

Scarlett rose from her seat and crossed the room before opening the door to the office. Walking down the hallway, she spotted the servant from earlier sitting inside a small room next to a small table. The woman was knitting a pair of small mittens. When she looked up a shocked expression came across her face. "M-My Lady?!" The servant hastily put away her knitting needles on the table next to her and stood up to curtsy.

"Take me to the training facility," Scarlett said, not bothering with covering the ice in her voice for the moment.

"...Training facility, my Lady?" The woman looked at her oddly.

Scarlett clicked her tongue. She'd hoped there was something like that. "The courtyard. Bring me to the courtyard."

The servant bent her head. "Of course, my Lady." She then began leading the way further down the hallway. Scarlett did her best to memorize the corridors as they moved through the mansion. They soon reached what looked to be a large entrance hall at the mansion's main entrance. The servant opened a pair of wide doors that led outside. A pair of curving stone stairs reached up to the doors. Beneath them was the courtyard, situated between two extensions that protruded out from the main building. These two wings were linked by a high archway, past which Scarlett could see a beautiful garden and a gravel road that led to an iron gate and a stone wall that seemed to encompass the whole compound. Outside the walls, she spotted a few other equally fanciful buildings in the distance.

"You may return to your activities," Scarlett informed the servant before passing through the two open doors and starting to descend the stairs. She would have imagined walking down them would have felt somewhat precarious, considering she wore a very tightfitting dark-red dress that didn't leave much room for her legs to move as well as high heels—something she could count on her fingers the number of times she'd worn in her world—but it was surprisingly effortless. She could tell that Scarlett's body was used to this.

The courtyard itself wasn't anything particularly special. There was a nice fountain in the middle with four grass mounds surrounding it and stone pathways separating them. Around the fountain were a couple of curved benches that encircled a quarter of it each. She walked over and sat down on one of them. For a while she just sat there and observed the cascading water at the center of the fountain.

Then she held out her right hand.

"Move."

Nothing happened. She'd been hoping it would be that easy. But perhaps that was naive.

In the game, magic was mainly split into six different schools. Pyromancy, hydromancy, terramancy, aeromancy, lumomancy, and umbramancy. The classic old fantasy elements, just rebranded. Before you could use any of that magic, however, you had to at least have one of the prerequisite skills. For fire magic that meant one of the [Pyromancy] skills. Then there was a separate list that kept count of all the spells that you knew. Much like a certain tabletop, you could only have a certain number of spells memorized at any given time and you learned new spells by reading specific spellbooks.

Scarlett had access to the [Pyromancy] and [Hydromancy] skill trees. Not the best mix—as far as she knew there were no composite spells between the schools—but better than nothing nonetheless. If you knew any spells, at least.

In addition to that she had [Minor Pyrokinesis] and [Lesser Hydrokinesis]. In the game those skills did nothing more than lower the mana cost of respective school's spells a bit more than [Minor Mana-control] did, but she was hoping they were more than that.

She locked her eyes on a part of the fountain that was relatively tranquil. She focused her complete attention on that part, willing it to move. At first, nothing happened. Then she felt something inside herself. Like a small ripple of...movement. A flow.

A tendril of water rose into the air above the fountain, forming a ball that floated above the water's surface.

"Incredible..." Scarlett mumbled. She was doing magic. A dream come true for anyone who had once been a fanciful kid. She tried moving the ball of water. The water undulated across its surface as it wobbled to the left and then to the right at her command. She then brought it over to her hand, letting the water lose its shape and drench her skin.

Feeling a slight smile tug at the side of her mouth she looked around the courtyard. The sun was high up in the sky and there were no fires around that she could try her pyrokinesis skill with. She considered it for a moment. Perhaps a living fire wasn't needed?

She focused on her hand, imagining a lit flame above it. Something moved inside her again. But it was different from before. This time it felt warm. Eager. A moment later a small flame appeared above her palm and burned her skin. She immediately pulled her hand away as she clenched her teeth. The fire died out a moment after.

Perhaps not the smartest action.

She tried commanding the water from the fountain again and another ball of water floated over to her. She brought the singed part of her hand up to it and let the chill water cool her skin. She would have to test the limits of these abilities later. And see if she can't get ahold of any good spellbooks. But this was definitely a beginning.

 

 

Later that day Scarlett sat in the office she'd woken up in once again. Piles of books lay on the desk in front of her. Her experimenting with magic had been fun, but she'd ended up having to quit after half an hour when she realized she had used up over half her mana. She didn't know how it was here, but in the game, it took a while for one's mana to recover and she wanted to preserve some for later.

Since then she had been scanning through the books in the office to see if any of them were spellbooks. Most of them weren't. Most of them covered subjects she had absolutely no knowledge in. Estate management, the history of the Graenal Empire, Transcendental Elementalism, Voneian linguistics...and the list went on. She had only found two spellbooks as of yet. One of them was about umbramancy so she'd ignored it for now. The other was 'A Compendium of Beginner Pyromancy Magic' by one R. Hallewell. Scarlett had opened that one hoping to learn some basic spells. She'd tried casting some in the courtyard without success so she assumed it wasn't something she could just do. So she'd thought reading a spellbook might help.

But she couldn't understand any of it.

It wasn't a problem with the language. She was pretty sure it was all written in English, as were most things in the game. But it was all complete gibberish to her. The pages were filled with diagrams and magic circles that made absolutely no sense to her. And the descriptions and terms used in the book left her even more confused. It felt like trying to understand discrete mathematics with only an elementary's understanding of math.

A disturbing thought had crossed her mind. She took the golden bell on the table and rang it. When the same servant from earlier knocked on the door Scarlett told her to enter and leveled her gaze on the woman.

"My Lady called?" the servant asked with her head slightly bent downwards.

"What magic do you know?" Scarlett asked.

The servant looked up at her with a hesitant expression. The poor woman seemed to get so confused today. "I only know some essential pyromancy, my Lady."

"Be more specific."

The servant jolted back at her tone. "K-Kindle and Heat."

Scarlett tapped her finger against a book with black cover. "And how long did it take you to learn those spells."

"I originally began learning when I was young, my Lady. B-But magic has never been something I have put much focus into."

Scarlett frowned. "I want a number."

"Perhaps a few years," the servant said, shifting on the spot.

Scarlett grabbed the book that was opened in front of her and turned it towards the woman, pushing it to the other end of the desk and pointing at one of the pages. "How long do you believe it would take for you to learn the Scorching Whip spell?"

The servant took a couple of steps forward and leaned over to study the page. "I'm afraid this is beyond me, my Lady. I don't recognize most of these circuits. I'm not sure I could ever learn to cast this spell," she said and took a step back, seemingly afraid Scarlett would attack her or some such.

Scarlett merely shook her head. "Very well. You may leave."

"Yes, my Lady." The servant performed a short curtsy before hurrying out of the room. Scarlett pulled back the book to her part of the desk and looked over its pages again.

Maybe it wasn't so surprising. Mages and wizards were often presented as scholars. As such, it would only make sense that magic was something that took a lot of time to learn.

But even though the game took place over a period of a few years, she didn't have that time to learn magic. She'd hoped that, as the player would in the games, she too would be able to learn spells by just reading a book. Maybe by giving her another skill or something like that. But if it would take years to learn even some of the more basic spells, then perhaps it wasn't worth wasting time trying.

She closed the book and leaned back in her chair. She would have to do some more research regarding the subject, but this hampered her plans somewhat. If she wanted to grow strong to survive in this world, but couldn't do it through magic, then she'd either have to do it more physically—which she had no idea how to do without being a player—or she would have to rely more on other people who were strong.

Another option was to get a hold of several strong items. But many of those were hard to obtain to begin with.

Though...she did have some ideas as to where she could start.

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Flameruner

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