Cold winds rushed outside a gray stone castle. A broken and bloody demon lay before a throne where his assailant sat.
What a foolish attempt…
The long white-haired Demon thought while sitting in his throne. With pale skin and crimson eyes, along with two large horns which curved around his head, he contemplated the ludicrous attempt at blackmail that had just befallen him. His age appeared no more than a human of 30 years, though his eyes gave a feeling of age beyond that.
The blackmail was perpetrated by the same [Demonic Werewolf] which had sold him information on the existence of the Half-Demon in the first place. He had returned for a larger payment under the threat of spreading the information to other Demon Princes apart from Talrai.
Yet his plan failed before it even started. For he had already sold the information to one other Demon Prince.
At this point it is to my advantage if he properly set up a failsafe to spread the information to all Demon Princes. Else I’d need to do it myself.
Talrai was one of the weaker Demon Princes, but he did not view any others as true competitors. He saw them as no different than common brutes who relied far too much on their personal power. All but one. The very one the werewolf in front of him had stupidly sold information to before coming back to blackmail Talrai for more money under the threat of openly spreading the existence of the Half-Demon.
Demon Prince Fang was most certainly a brute, but common he was not. Talrai knew no amount of his planning or machinations could stand against that monster of a man. So, his only choice was to bring every Demon Prince into the fray.
“Clean up this mess,” Talrai spoke to a guard, pointing at the disfigured werewolf as his blood-red robes ruffled. Not even a plea for his life escaped the werewolf. Talrai found a method torturing Demons by forcing them to change forms repeatedly. He enjoyed it as an exercise for his own Aura as well.
He sank back into thought. The prospect of a female Half-Demon and the prophecy that follows would be too much for any Demon Prince to resist. Most of them had reached their status in a desire to rule.
And the prospect of ruling over all Demon-kind would be far too tantalizing to any self-respecting Demon. And the chance to sire heirs far beyond anything they could have imagined did not hurt.
For the first time in millennia, the Demon Princes would invade beyond their lands. Even amidst his failed plan to keep the Half-Demon’s existence to himself, he couldn’t resist the excitement he felt. A grin crossed his face as he looked forward to the coming carnage and slaughter.
“You mind repeating that Luna?”
“Strong Soul Affinity,” The Fairy replied before returning to Rainer’s coat.
Rainer shook his head as he put away the usual questions one would ask in such a situation. He knew because he didn’t ask for specifics she never told him the first time. He knew Luna considered it “low” back when she first told him only because the Fairy was using the people she knew as a comparison. He knew that perhaps the whole world would be low in comparison to Kara’s Talents, let alone his own which technically granted him the equivalent of an Affinity in every school of Magic.
Looks like I’ll have to rethink my teaching plans…
Originally, the plans for his first apprentice involved the creation of the methodology that eventually every mage at his academy would learn by.
Such an idea served his goals perfectly while under the assumption that the boy’s Talent could hardly be called a talent. But now, he wondered if Kara’s recent acquisition of Mana might make her a better student for his eventual books on the [Faraan Runic Language].
“So, Theodore, what do you know about a Soul Affinity?” He asked the undead who was quite interested in the recent revelation as well.
“For one, there is no spellbook dedicated to Soul Magic. Most well-known would be the Death spellbook, but Soul Magic can be influenced by many elements and types of Magic. And a large part of my current state is a result of studying someone who had an Affinity for Soul. They naturally did what I had created a skill for. Though, I took it to a higher level.”
Rainer nodded. He imagined that his own skills might eventually beat any Fae when it came to Body Enchantment. In the end, there was no evidence that Fae had any idea how they manipulated Mana within their bodies to form Runes. Natural ability had to have its limit, he thought.
A limit he’d surpass.
“Speaking of which, how is your progress?” Theodore asked.
Rainer scratched his head awkwardly. He had a habit of moving from one thing to another quickly, and if he hadn’t finished something before moving on it may stay that way for quite some time.
Learning Theodore’s skill for enhancing his Soul had hit a roadblock. And until his recent discovery of being unable to refresh his Soul in [Sleep Learning], he lacked a proper means to learn it safely and quickly.
Theodore said nothing more as the rest of the flight was spent in mostly silence. Rainer had enough control over the flight spell to take out the books he received from Mira and begin skimming them in preparation for memorizing them in [Sleep Learning].
Rainer’s thoughts turned inward as he put away the last book. For the time being, [Voidwalker] was crucial enough that he couldn’t switch the class unless in a safer environment. So, he wondered over just what he needed to prepare for any sort of 2nd Class Advancement for [Voidwalker], however far into the future.
First was [Void Manipulation]. [Arcane Energy Manipulation] proved a requirement for every useful 2nd Tier option for [Arcanist] and he imagined [Void Manipulation] wouldn’t be excluded. It gave him some hope for with [Arcanist] one was expected to have Manipulation skills. Whereas [Voidwalker] had no such class bonus to assist in gaining [Void Manipulation] beyond passive bonuses.
[Void Manipulation] then could unlock far stronger classes than [Arcane Energy Manipulation] did. He didn’t forget either how he had overpowered that [Devil King] and shut the spatial crack with [Void Manipulation] either. It was clearly a powerful skill.
Void Seer, Void Grasp, Void Call
He then thought over the three skills he had gained or could gain from the [Voidwalker] skill store.
Rainer laughed as he thought over how much he’d enjoy having [Void Seer] were he more of a pervert. He drew glances from his party, but they returned to their own thoughts, used to his strange behavior.
Combined with Fae tracking Magic, he wondered if he could use it to extend [Void Detection] toward a specific target. Or, at the very least, use [Void Seer] alongside it.
Returning to serious contemplation, he didn’t view [Void Seer] as a skill crucial to his 2nd Tier Advancement, at least not as crucial as [Arcane Rage] was in obtaining the requirements for [Archon] Class.
Then there was [Void Grasp], while certainly useful in fighting against teleportation or gravity Magic wasn’t as particularly groundbreaking when compared to [Arcane Rage].
None of the three may be important…
He thought, but could not be sure until he took the plunge and tested [Void Call]. It may be a less literal meaning of call, in that it called forth the power of the Void rather than calling something.
Then there was advancing beyond [Archon]. With [Arcane Rage] to [Arcane Awakening] it was a matter of removing the weakness of [Arcane Rage] in destroying his body. For [Arcane Awakening] he viewed the next step as making it more permanent.
Even if he reached the point where his Mana regeneration surpasses the cost of [Arcane Awakening], it wouldn’t be permanent. Constantly using [Arcane Awakening] required the mental equivalent of breathing on purpose. Even a stronger mind would find itself wearing down, or slipping.
And with the added Charisma the all attribute bonus gained him, he knew any permanent version of his Runic lines would only be a plus, regardless of how it may seem objectively.
They arrived at Grimlar’s Pass in the middle of the night. Elru covered the group in a weak Glamour as they soared overhead and toward the Inn Maya should be staying at.
Several uses of Detection skills around the Baron’s Mansion determined the existence of another large Aura presence besides the Baron himself. But compared to others, Rainer ventured the presence was at the low level of the 2nd Tier at most. Likely to be a remainder of Mier sent to watch over affairs.
He found the Fae soon after. Even with her Glamour, discovery provided little issue for the [Soul Detection] using [Archon].
Sensing only Maya within the room, Rainer went alone. Alone, except for the usual pair of Familiars inside his overcoat. As usual, he kept up his guard in the form of [Arcane Sight] and a low level of [Arcane Awakening].
Following a knock on the door, he was let in with no issue.
“I wrote and explained half the spells I know. The tier 4 ones I-“ Maya said cautiously before she was interrupted.
“You’ll save the rest until I make good on my deal?” Rainer responded.
Maya let out a sigh of relief at him not reacting poorly to her omissions. She felt that she needed some assurance in their deal beyond a promised future work arrangement.
“More motivation never hurt,” Rainer said as he took the stack of papers she already wrote down, “Does anyone in the Fae Realm know of your…political affiliations?”
“No?” Maya asked confused.
“Good. Then you’ll come back to the Fae Realm with me. I have some business here, but I should be ready to leave in an hour.”
“I do not think it is wise, even if I let you in through a Fairy Ring…”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m an Ambassador,” He said with mock pride.
“I imagine they were quite happy to reward you for your deeds…” Maya said a bit confused at the title but not really bothered by him having a status amongst the Fae Courts.
“See you’d think so, but not really. Took far too much work and I couldn’t even get the tier 1 spells from these schools of magic out of them,” Rainer said as he waved the stack of papers of Mind and Illusion Magic she gave him before putting them in his spatial ring. He realized he probably said too much, but his frustrations overwrote that.
“Oh, I had another request for you,” Rainer said, and Maya merely nodded.
“Who was that Mage you hired to attack us?”
Maya grimaced slightly but seeing her new employer didn’t have any anger on his face calmed herself.
“The Guildmaster of the Blood Soul Guild.”
“And their base?” Rainer asked growing a bit excited at the prospect of stealing magic with their likely strongest member dead.
“Within the Country of Mier. I can lead you to the closest Fairy Ring to them if we are to head to the Fae Realm in any case.”
After the display during their fight, Maya ventured the remainder of the Guild that required Raspard to support them was hardly a dangerous threat to the man in front of her. A small Guild of Dark Mages could hardly compare to the defenses boosted by an official and powerful Guild like the Skyborne.
“Thanks. I’ll be back in an hour,” He added before leaving the room.
“I shall be waiting,” Maya said as she thought of the one she held dear.
Rainer entered the Baron’s mansion with no issue. The guards on duty recognized him and let him through right away. In part, Rainer wished to speak with the Baron as soon as possible not just for his Chef but to see what the altercation with Yarik led to.
“Lord Magus,” The second Aura presence within the Mansion bowed towards him. Both he and the Baron had in fact been awake
“It is a pleasure to see you once more, Lord Magus,” Charles then spoke, doing away with the familiarity due to the secondary presence.
“A pleasure. Charles, might I speak with you alone?” Rainer asked, his party waiting outside. He in part hoped to test them and see if they attacked when he lacked his guards. But seeing no hostility, he guessed that Yarik had kept his recent actions a secret. Rainer thought over if whether he should leave a message with this 2nd Tier expert of Mier before deciding to ask his party for their thoughts on the matter.
“It is good to see you again, Rainer,” Charles said standing to greet Rainer. They exchanged a few pleasantries along with Charles’ personal thanks in handling the issue in the North.
“I’m here to pick up my Chef; I’d prefer to handle it right now. I’m in a bit of a rush.”
Charles nodded and was fine with ignoring the late hour. He went with Rainer toward the Inn owned by the person teaching the young Chef.
“You know, he mentioned he was quite impressed. It is a rare thing to gain any cooking skill so quickly, especially without a talent for it. One must be quite the hard worker to accomplish such a thing.”
Rainer simply nodded, lost in thought over the prospect of Soul Magic.
Charles entered the Inn first as Rainer followed behind. The proprietor was still up tending to some later customers. Rainer noticed several of them had bandages on their ears, but he paid it little mind beyond a small curiosity.
After a short conversation, the Inn’s owner headed upstairs. The noise in the place stalled as they recognized not only the Baron but the appearance of stunning foreign Lord Magus who had been rumored to be friends with the Baron.
Following Charles to a back room, Rainer spoke up after a few minutes. The rest of his party was outside as Rainer worried just what sensory abilities someone with a Soul Affinity may have. With further knowledge from Theodore, he understood it wasn’t just a magic affinity. There were other factors involved in the Affinity.
While he’d eventually share most of his secrets with his future apprentice, it wouldn’t do for him to start yelling out about undead and fairies.
Having a goblin among his party certainly wasn’t the best idea either. Furtak, however, stayed behind in the Fae Realm for the time being. Rainer had named him an Initiate of his Order, meaning it was unlikely he’d have any issue. On top of him being Fire-Touched, a source of fear existing in many Fae of the Courts given their issues with one who was Wind-Touched.
“What’s taking so long?”
“I Imagine she is putting on a nicer attire before she is to meet her future Lord,”
“She?” Rainer asked confused as he saw someone heading down the stairs. It was the same brown-haired green-eyed boy he had chosen from the group, barring the now longer hair tied with a ribbon.
Rainer felt a little ill at the reminder for why she looked like a boy during their first meeting before shaking away those thoughts.
She wore a simple gray and blue dress, though Rainer imagined it wasn’t simple for this level of civilization and likely was something provided by the Baron. She gave a small curtsey, that varied quite a bit from what Rainer understood of his medieval world. In the end, it accomplished the same thing of keeping the dress from getting dirty during a bow.
The mood suddenly shifted as Rainer walked forward glaring at the Inn’s owner.
“What the hell is this?” He said holding up his future apprentice’s bandaged hands.
“It-s-“ The older man who served as the Inn’s owner and a Head Chef, stumbled over his words as the presence of magic came down upon him. Charles himself could not speak either.
Rainer instantly calmed down as he recalled his previous conversation with the Baron.
“Sorry…long day,” He said as he then looked down at the girl, hoping he hadn’t just permanently damaged his relationship with her. However, her face was unchanged, not at all bothered by his anger nor presence of Magic.
Rainer sank into his thoughts for a moment. He wondered when he lost himself to such a temper. Rational thought told him any newer chef would likely end up cutting their fingers, on top of being a small kid. Yet his first reaction was anger and assumed wrongdoing on her teacher.
In the past, he could excuse it for caring for those he loved or held dear. But now, he wasn’t sure.
How has having this much power affected me…
He wondered as he felt his Mana pool and still active [Arcane Awakening].
He shook his head as kneeled to her eye level surprising the two other adults in the room. He’d worry about his issue with temper later. At the very least he never once felt anger at those close to him in such a manner.
“So, what’s your name?”
Several minutes before meeting the man who would change her life a girl was sleeping only to be awoken by her door being swung open in haste. Years of living in constant fear had given her a rude awakening at this sudden intruder before the familiar presence of the Inn Owner’s Soul had calmed her.
Ever since the girl could remember, she could always tell much about the people around her. She could tell even when her father was angry and drunk that he wouldn’t hurt her, despite the fear the retired soldier would draw from the rest of the village. She knew how to hide her own presence and make people feel certain ways about her. She understood the feelings of envy and jealousy that her fellow former slaves of the Goblins felt as one whispered to her the Lord Magus just wanted someone to warm his bed.
But she knew from the first meeting that, despite the darkness and power that surrounded the Lord Magus’ Soul, he was a good person. So, she did not take this person’s words to heart. Instead, she wholeheartedly worked towards the task he had her train for. The cuts she got occasionally did not bother her too much as her hands were already covered in calluses from years working in the mine.
“Get dressed with the nicest thing the Baron provided earlier, your future Lord has arrived. Quickly.”
She looked up at the Inn Owner and nodded her head as she awoken. It took her a few moments to register what he had said before she rushed away. She felt the familiar nervousness that followed the Inn Owner whenever he was around her. It was a different life being treated so cautiously.
She did not blame him. Everyone felt that same nervousness when it came to the Lord Magus.
She went downstairs after changing and quickly tying her hair that started to grow toward its original length in a bow.
Practicing the curtsy that the Baron had personally come over to teach her, she bowed before the Mage who was to be her Lord. That was when the mood suddenly shifted. She saw the Mage’s Soul flare in anger but rather than it being aimed at her she felt as if his Soul sought to shield her.
In the end, she did not even feel the presence of Magic that had nearly sent the Inn owner and the Baron to their knees.
Soon she found her new Lord kneeling in front of her asking for her name.
And so, she told him.
“A lovely name,” Rainer said as he looked at the green-eyed girl, “Do you know why I picked you out from everyone else?”
She shook her head.
“Well you see, I’ve been looking for someone to pass my Magic onto and you have the Gifts for some of the Magic I use,” Rainer said before he then recalled her strange calmness when he lost his temper earlier, “And I imagine you know what I’m talking about,” He added taking a shot in the dark.
“I do,” She said quietly, wondering if he knew about her [Strong Soul Affinity]. She had felt a strange presence looking at her when she stood amongst the others to work for the Lord Magus.
Rainer stood as he ruffled her hair, “You are to the be the Apprentice of an [Archon]. Have some confidence when you speak.”
“I do?” She repeated in the same exact voice, albeit a bit more questioning tone, while not at all doubting nor affected by the recent revelation.
“We’ll work on it,” Rainer said, “I’m sorry to cut our meeting short Charles. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.”
“Ah…See you then…” Charles said as he wondered if he heard the…[Archon]…correctly. Finding his thoughts stuttering by the casual mention of Rainer being an [Archon] he didn’t stop him for further questions.
Neither the Inn Owner nor the Baron moved for some time after. Charles was well aware of the confrontation between Yarik and Rainer, though only the one back in the mansion, and knew from Yarik’s mood who came out ahead. The recent revelation only served to further that belief for why the Guildmaster of one of the largest Mage Guilds would back down after what had happened to the Prince he treats like a son.
They headed to pick up Maya before heading toward the Fae realm. Rainer had taken a moment before they left to check on Tiamat, as she had not asked nor accepted any [Draconic Essence] for a bit to find her slightly larger than before and happily sleeping. He noted the Dragon had also recently unlocked her Affinity, having already reached what he detected as 20 points of Mana.
He couldn’t help but be a little jealous of the Dragonling who accomplished one of the most difficult achievements of Rainer’s life by just eating and sleeping. He wondered too if this was how the rest of his party felt about his [Sleep Learning].
Once Rainer got over his amusement at the wide-eyed Lilia, who was enjoying the flight far more than anyone else, he took out Maya’s recent gift. Lilia, however, having been recently awoken in the middle of the night ended up falling asleep. [Arcane-Wind’s Ascent] kept its occupants floating, leaving it oddly comfortable in terms of a bed. As far as Rainer could tell apart from a few strange stares at Gunthar, she didn’t particularly notice anything odd about the undead pair.
Maya had initially shared a bit of that same wide-eyed look at the sheer speed of the flight spell that the [Archon] apparently intended to keep up for hours.
To Rainer, the effort in maintaining the level 10 flight spell that was affected by his Arcane Bonuses was even less than driving a car. And while driving for several hours certainly wasn’t a pleasant affair, with his Attributes it wasn’t particularly taxing.
He flipped through the spells as quickly as he could manage, the pace being slower when he had to partially commit the Runic formulas to memory for [Sleep Learning].
As they approached the Fairy Ring, Rainer thought over his plans. Once he found a way to cure Akhor’s Sickness whether, through his own means or the Courts, he’d leave the Fairy Realm and head for the Blood Soul Guild.
From there they’d head to the southernmost Fairy Ring of the Northern Continent and find a boat to take them to the Dragon Isles. The boat ride would make an excellent time to train his new apprentice and a nice open body of water he could freeze if he needed to level his future Arcane version of [Frozen Sun].
“Rainer, I don’t know your plans for your new Apprentice, but I’d advise against giving her any Dust for now,” Elru said drawing the attention of the party, not that Lilia knew what Dust referred to.
“Would it not be suspicious for a young girl with no Talent for Mana to already have her Affinity unlocked?”
“Ah, good point. I’d rather they not know I have Fairy Dust even if I didn’t force it out of anyone.”
“Fairy Dust?” The little girl asked curiously in her half-awake state.
“Magical Dust that lets you live longer and makes you into a Mage,” Rainer answered, though he couldn’t help but be a little disappointed at how easily Lilia simply nodded her head in acceptance as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
He smiled, at the very least she wouldn’t be losing many years of her life from constantly dealing with shocking events. He imagined Gunthar, were he not undead, would have lost a few already.
“So, how do you like the place? We’ll be staying for a few days. I’ll have some things to do so you’ll have to stay at the Mansion, but after that, we can explore” Rainer said to the once more wide-eyed apprentice of his.
Rubbing her eyes at both her disbelief and likely her own tiredness she remained glued to the scenery as the Party moved forward.
The Fae guarding the Ring gave a few curious glances toward the new additions to the party but paid it no further mind.
“Maya, I’m guessing you’ll be heading toward your wife?” Rainer asked.
She gave him a cautious glance, seemingly not yet desiring to reveal who exactly she held dear. Rainer did not mind and offered her an easy out.
“Come to Prince Yaf’s Mansion, in 3 Days. I’ll have them let you in,” Rainer said before they separated.
Shortly after, Rainer’s party headed back to the Autumn Court Mansion they were staying at. Rainer had Luna cast a sleeping spell on him so he could spend a few hours memorizing and then attempting the newer Body Enchantments he had acquired.
Lilia, who had spent half the flight in half-awake wonderment at the rapidly passing scenery, fell asleep in the extra room provided for her. With Furtak staying behind the Mansion, Rainer trusted her safety to him.
Soon after waking up, Rainer’s party was told by Laneth that his father’s hunters had returned. Heading out to the courtyard of the Mansion, Rainer saw the numerous corpses of creatures thought to be related to Dragons.
Theodore had already finished setting up the formation by drawing on the ground with his sword. A borrowed bowl lay in the center.
“So how does this work?” Laneth asked. He curiously looked at the strange Runic-like circle that led to a bowl in the center. He smirked at how similar it looked to some sort of dark ritual. Added on was Rainer’s fake order supposedly being against Devils and his earlier Soul related Magic versus the assassin had a strange tinge of humor to it for him.
“The circle itself is just an amplifier. The real work is done by mixing my Mana with the blood and drawing out the Draconic part of the monster. You’re welcome to watch. Then again, I have no idea if any of these…things…are related to a Dragon even in the slightest,” Rainer said as he looked out over the monster corpses.
Some were a strange bird-like monster with dark-red feathers and 6 clawed legs that went across their stomach. Others were a winged horse with a large crooked horn above their head. Different from the Pegasus of Rainer’s legends, their head was reptilian in nature and had vicious teeth. That, and a full coat of green scales covering their whole body. The final type of monster brought back was a land type monster, having some strange multi-jointed spikes leaving its back. They were just a red-scaled lizard of several feet in length otherwise.
After some time working, Rainer managed to end up with 9 times as much [Draconic Essence] as he had gained from the [Scaled Wyvern]. It certainly wasn’t much compared to the sheer mass of the monsters used, but it was likely enough for the little Dragon.
To the disappointment of the members of the Seeker’s Circle that had been allowed to watch and called over when Rainer first arrived, they did not understand in the slightest what he had done. In the end, the technique would only be another thing they were interested in trading for.
Having fully solidified the books given by Mira in the prior session of [Sleep Learning] he immediately went off to meet with her. It didn’t take long for him to start connecting the rest of her Enchantment to the Aura Rune, especially as he understood that it didn’t require full knowledge of her enchantments to do so.
As he worked, he thought over how to broach the subject of Fae demonstrating their gifts and spirit Magic for him. In the end, he hadn’t put [Gift of Lightning] unto Kara without having first watched the Gift being cast. There was also a bit of aid from his understanding of Arcane-Lightning which had a similar effect to the Fae Gift.
“Hey Mira, do you know a talented Spirit Magic user that can demonstrate a bunch of Gifts and spells for me? I don’t need any information, just the demonstrations,” He asked with a bit of apprehension.
“Done,” Mira said with a chuckle, “I know I’m not doing much for any future negotiation power, but you must be seriously underestimating what you are doing for me. Hell, even if the Court said no to this trade deal I’d steal everything you needed and do it anyways. What would they do about it, since the Enchanter’s Conclave would likely agree with me.”
“You should have told me that earlier…” Rainer said as the two shared a laugh. Neither seemed to have any love for the politics of the Courts.
“Is your Order attending the meet, about a year from now, for the recently appeared level 25 Tier 2 dungeon?” Mira suddenly asked as he began finishing up yet another connection.
“I am. Likely with Initiate Furtak. The rest of my Order doesn’t particularly have a reason to,” He said.
Mira raised her eyebrows at his comment but seeing as he didn’t elaborate didn’t say anything further about his Order not needing to.
“Well, as you can imagine being a Fae amidst numerous experts who are nearing the end of their lifespan isn’t the best situation. There are those who can see through Glamour. And while they wouldn’t act against someone of my strength too directly…”
“You’ll have an ally in me,” Rainer said. He had not a clue what meet she was talking about, but he’d visit at the very least even if he wouldn’t participate in raiding the Dungeon. The chance to gain information on possibly the strongest individuals in the World was hardly something he’d pass up.
“That should be good for now. I plan on leaving the Fae realm in a few days, but I’m sure I’ll have some new enchantments for you next time we meet. Off to talk with the rest of the Conclave…” Rainer said with a sigh. He wasn’t looking forward to trying to explain how to use the Aura Rune alongside the numerous demonstrations he’d likely have to give.
“You'd better,” Mira said as she handed over a book to Rainer that caused his eyes to light up.