Location: Alba / Archives
Time: Y1503 / 20th day of the Wither Moon / Afternoon
Liara was seen going to the archives earlier. Stella convinced me to ask a favour of her.
"Hey, Goto! Is Liara here?" (Scout Feldris)
"Yes. She is studying with her friend and with princess Sistina." (Guard Goto)
"Really? That's good. I'm glad she is doing ok, considering everything that went down." (Feldris)
Who knows what kind of punishment Gloria would inflict if we fail Liara. But it's not just that. She is a nice girl, and I care for her.
Liara is somewhat weird. She feels more mature then me at time, probably thanks to all the gift Gloria gave her. Other times she feels just like a little girl, and it pains me seeing her suffers. Just like when those assassins came after her and took out many brothers and sisters.
Liara taught Stella, me and the others powerful techniques. I hope I will be able to return the favour, one day.
Here I am. The archives.
Rows upon rows of shelves filled with books and scrolls in a cramped and barely lit cave like room.
I dislike words. I like to learn things by doing them. I wonder how anyone can learn just from looking at weird shapes.
Not that I can read the words anyway. Only a few can. And the time spent learning to decipher the funny shaped squiggles could be better spent training to get stronger!
I look around.
There is lit table on the corner over there.
"Studying he? You girls sure work hard!" (Feldris)
"Hello, Feldris!" (Initiate Kara)
"How do you feel? I saw your fight earlier. You took quite the beating." (Liara)
"Of course I'm fine! Ha. ha. ha." (Feldris)
"... A sister gave me first aid, but it still hurts." (Feldris)
"Stay still." (Liara)
Little Liara climb down from her seat. She is small, and has to use a block to reach the table. She comes near me and imposes her hands over my belly. She is so powerful that neither of us need to undress, apparently.
I can feel her magic touching my body, but only just. The discomfort typical of spells weaved by other sisters is not there. Her magic is more subtle.
"... Fractured ribs and blunt trauma. You are reckless as always, Feldris. You'll give Stella an heart attack one of those days." (Liara)
"Don't worry, Liara. It would take more than that to take down my favourite Mage Knight!" *grin* (Feldris)
Or would it? Stella worries for nothing sometimes...
<Liara's Prototype Spell: Mending> (Liara)
What a weird feeling. I can feel my flesh shifting under my skin. The pain is fading.
"There. All done. I would ask you not to get hit in the same spot again for at least a week, but I know better." (Liara)
I lift my shirt. The livid are gone. I'm good as new.
"Wow. That was quick. You are full of surprises, Liara!" (Sistina)
"Mother is a great teacher." *smile* (Liara)
Little does the princess knows that Liara is teaching Serina just as much.
"Princess. I'm sorry I didn't properly greet you. I'm Feldris, Scout for the Fourth Unit of the Knights of Gloria. Pleased to make your acquaintance." *take Sistina hand* *kisses hand* (Feldris)
*blush* "... Greetings." *raise* *bow* (Sistina)
What a shy girl.
Looking at her, I guess she stays closed in dark rooms like our archives a lot. She doesn't groom herself like Princess Aurora does. I think she could be a looker if she did.
"Is everything ok, Feldris? You needed something from Liara?" (Kara)
"Right! Liara. The prince moped the floor with me, in our spar, earlier. He used reinforcement magic, and I can't fight back against that. If Stella could support me like in a real fight, I could take him on. Easy. But she can't really interfere in a duel, so..."(Feldris)
"You want me to make you an artifact to turn the tables against the prince." (Liara)
"Yes! The artifacts issued by the Church are single use and I can use them only in battle. But if I were to use an artifact of yours... I heard you make tons of them anyway for practice." *grin* (Feldris)
"Feldris! That's dishonourable!" (Kara)
"The way I see it, if he uses magic, it's only right I use it as well. Consider it training for when I fight Mage Knights for real!" (Feldris)
"Sore loser." *glare* (Kara)
Ouch. That stings.
I'm just trying to right a wrong, here! It's for the good of the church!
"I'll do it. But only because the prince is... Only because it's you. What kind of spell do you need engraved?" (Liara)
Liara looked at the princess for a moment. I feel like she didn't want to say mean things in front of the princess. Did the prince do something to her? If so I really have to beat some sense in him!
"Something to make me stronger would do. Ah, adding one of those unbreakable barriers of yours would be nice!" (Feldris)
"Really??? You want an artifact that protect and reinforce at the same time???" (Liara)
I guess it is a bit unreasonable. Even the Gifted One has limits. At least for now.
"Is that too much to ask?" (Feldris)
"Yes! ... No! ... well... I think I can make something like that. I guess. The problem is that you can't collimate lots of aether. And my artifacts are still unreliable. I'll do what I can, just don't rely on them too much, will you? Stella would scold me if you get hurt using my artifacts." (Liara)
Jackpot! He he he.
Brace yourself prince. As soon as the artifacts are ready I'm coming for you!
"Liara... you can... engrave artifacts?" (Sistina)
Poor princess. Her jaws are dropping. I almost got used to Liara's prowess, but I guess this just blew her mind.
I haven't forgotten the people we lost after Meridia lost her powers.
They thought we were done for.
They relentlessly whittled away at our forces.
And they failed. To deliver the finishing blow.
Let it be known that Gloria heard our plea by sending Liara to us.
Nobody in this world can oppose her.
Our time has come.
"You'll get used to her, princess. She isn't called Gifted One for nothing!" *grin* (Feldris)
Little Arteficer Grows
Location: Alba / Liara's Chamber
Time: Y1503 / 20th day of the Wither Moon / Evening
I learned a lot today thanks to Sistina, but I really need to get out.
But after a breath of fresh air it's time to start working on my new artifact, knowing that Feldris will use it to put prince Casanova in his place.
[I have been thinking about it. Feldris ability to collimate aether is rather limited. He won't be able to weave an unbreakable barrier like Serina or even Stella would.] (Science Me)
Now that I think about it, Meridia warned us about this problem a while ago. Magi usually have to work with very little aether.
It wasn't until we discovered the new collimating technique that this limitation basically disappeared. But Feldris has too little aptitude to start with.
[Can't we just artificially increase his aptitude?] (Gamer Me)
[Well... As far as we understand the ability to weave and collimate magic stems from magic channels inside the body. In theory, weaving a special enchantment in his living flesh would increase his aptitude. But it's not something we can do in one day.] (Doctor Me)
Makes sense. My aptitude is the result of <Voice> engraving <HUD> inside of me after all.
[We need to engrave an enchantment with a low activation threshold. I think it can be done just by engraving smaller channels. But they'll be delicate. They won't be able to weave powerful spells and they'll break more easily.] (Science Me)
It's okay. I don't want Feldris to turn prince Casanova into red mush anyway.
[We need to play to Feldris' strength. He needs something small that doesn't impede movement. What about leather arm protections? We can engrave a weak adaptive barrier and a strength amplification circuit inside it.] (Gamer Me)
[Strength amplification circuit? What the hell is that???] (Science Me)
[Who knows. We have yet to invent it!" giggle* (Gamer Me)
[It's not an unreasonable proposition. I know the biological processes of muscle cells. Basically we need to get rid of anaerobic by-products of the metabolism and remove the body's built in limiters using adrenaline. It'll wear down his joints and tax his heart, but we can just heal the damage after the fact.] (Doctor Me)
*knock* knock* "Liara. It's me. Mera is with me as well. Can we come in?" (Serina)
Sounds like a good idea, Doctor Me. Keep working on it while I speak with Mother, ok?
[You can count on us!] (Gamer Me)
"Come in." (Liara)
"Many blessing, Priestess Mera." (Liara)
*enter * "Many blessings to you as well, Liara. I heard you were getting along with princess Sistina." (Priestess Mera)
"Yes. We were studying together at the archives. She knows the words, and helped me a great deal." (Liara)
"Do you know what kind of texts she was interested in?" (Mera)
[We are being questioned. I don't like this one bit.] (Soldier Me)
[Take it easy. We did nothing wrong. There is no need to lie. Just calmly answer her questions.] (Explorer Me)
What if we said things we shouldn't have?
[That would be their fault for not telling us before hand. You are a three years old girl. You can't be expected to know of the relationship between the church and the ruling class of the Kingdom.] (Explorer Me)
"She read scrolls about healing. They were written by High Priestess Tesora. Is everything ok? She didn't do anything wrong, right?" (Liara)
"Of course everything is alright, Liara. Mera is the host, she just want to make sure they have everything they need. To make them feel home." *smile* *pat Liara's head* (Serina)
"... It is as the Head Healer says. What do you think about Princess Aurora and Prince Riccardo?" (Mera)
"I barely spoke with them. The princess didn't want me around for her treatment. And I don't like the prince." (Liara)
"Did he say something mean to you?" (Serina)
"... No. But he hurt Feldris, and I like Feldris!" *pout* (Liara)
"That's why you are engraving an artifact to help him out, right?" (Mera)
... How does she knows???
[Pieces of wood scattered around and all? She wasn't born yesterday, Liara.] (Explorer Me)
"The prince uses magic. I want Feldris to have magic too." (Liara)
*grin* "You know why Meridia was so respected? It was because of her artifacts. They let lesser magi weave stronger more powerful spells. They let our soldiers fight with greater vigour. This is what it means to be an enchantress. Go ahead, Liara. I approve of your resolve." (Mera)
Mother kneels and look at me directly in the eyes. She seems concerned.
"Liara. Your magic might be too powerful for Feldris to bear. Promise me you'll let me try your artifacts before letting Feldris use them. He might get hurt, otherwise." (Serina)
... Mother. You know I can't say no to you when you look at me this way.
"Alright. I promise, Mother." *hug* (Liara)
Location: Alba / Aurora's Chamber
Time: Y1503 / 20th day of the Wither Moon / Evening
*pant* *pant* (Princess Sistina)
After a long day spent inside the library, princess Sistina was returning to her chamber. She timed her trip to ensure she would meet as few people along the way as possible.
"Here we are, Sistina. Thank you for your help, today. Sweet dreams." *smile* (Initiate Kara)
"Uhm... thank you. Sweet dreams, Kara." (Sistina)
Her friend left, but just as Sistina was entering her room, a figure emerged from a nearby door.
"Sistina. Come inside. We need to talk." (Tutor Sabrina Torva)
Sitting on the bed on the far end of the room was Aurora who looked sickly.
"Uhm... Aurora, are you feeling well? You look~ (Sistina)
"I'm fine!" (Aurora)
"Ah! Sorry!" (Sistina)
"... No. I am sorry. The Head Healer did a wonderful job. My arm is all better." *look away* (Aurora)
"The Head Healer also said healing Aurora's insides is beyond her skills." (Sabrina)
Sistina didn't know what to say. She felt pity for her friend, but she didn't know how to help her.
"Don't look sad. I'm used to it by now. I just need some rest, and I'll be fine. Moving onto things that actually matter, what have you two been up to all day?" (Aurora)
Trying to brush aside the the topic of her health, Aurora decided to hear the results of a day worth of investigation of her subordinates.
"I met many people, and sisters love gossips. They were eager to heard stories from inside the Royal Palace, and in turn they shared many stories of their own" (Sabrina)
"Anything worth knowing?" (Aurora)
To hear small talks from inside an organization is to hear how that organization works. Something rulers might forget, standing atop of the ladder. A lesson Aurora learned from the Queen.
"It'll take time to earn enough trust to knows the more... delicate stories. A common belief is that Beast is the most powerful mage to have ever lived. They believe she was sent by Gloria herself and will bring forth a new era." (Sabrina)
"Sounds like the Beast we know, alright." (Aurora)
"No... They believe Liara to be a nice girl with an heart of gold. They respect her great powers, but they do not fear them. I felt some of them pity the enemy of the Church." (Sabrina)
"Then you should work harder to find the truth. The real truth" (Aurora)
Aurora knew what the Beast was capable of. She also knew the power of indoctrination of course. It would take effort to uncover the truth buried beneath the mountain of lies laid by the upper echelons of the Church. Aurora never expected things to be easy in the first place.
"If you want to say something, Sistina, then you should just say it." (Aurora)
Aurora sensed that Sistina was uncomfortable with the current discussion. It was important to be on the same page as a small seeds of doubt can grow into a wedge if left unattended.
"I... have been in the library all day. They have many scrolls of great value." (Sistina)
Just as Aurora expected. Trust was such a rare and valuable commodity for someone in Aurora's position that she didn't expect much else of Sistina.
"Knowledge is your strength, Sistina. Keep up with your research, I'm sure results will follow." (Aurora)
"Uhm... There is more, Aurora... Uhm... Liara and Kara. They kept me company all day long." (Sistina)
"You were in company of the Beast?!? What did you tell her?!?" (Aurora)
Sistina was naive and easy to read. Aurora feared that the Beast would poison Sistina against her.
"Ah! Nothing! Nothing! I helped them with the words and she shared things about her magic with me! That's all! I swear!" *teary eyes* (Sistina)
*whisper* "Aurora. Get a hold of yourself." (Sabrina)
Realizing she was pushing Sistina too far, Aurora took a deep breath and tried to speak as calmly as possible to soothe her friend.
"It's alright. Just don't reveal secrets to them. I trust in your judgement. I would like to know more. What magic did they show you?" (Aurora)
*pant* "Liara. She healed a soldier. She is very good at healing magic." (Sistina)
"How good? Is she better than Calmata?" (Aurora)
"Uhm... I think so." (Sistina)
Aurora remembered the words of the Head Healer earlier today. Sistina provided an independent confirmation of that fact. Could the Beast succeed where the Head Healer failed? Healing herself was one of the objectives of the trip, after all. But Aurora couldn't take the chance without knowing more about the Beast true objectives. The danger was too great.
"Sistina, can you please search for scrolls about healing insides and share them with the Beast?" (Aurora)
"I'll do my best!" *smile* (Sistina)
Having the chance of helping her friend filled Sistina with a sense of purpose.
*knock* *knock* "The crown prince Riccardo would like to see you, First Princess Aurora." (Tutor Hanna Ganimede)
*enter* "Oh my. With so many beauties in one place my heart might just give in! Good evening, my princesses." *bow* (Prince Riccardo)
"My prince. It is agreeable to see you. Can your humble Aurora do something for you?" *extend hand* (Aurora)
*kiss hand* "I was simply worried about your health, my princess. I'm pleased to see that your right arm is well." (Riccardo)
As the first princess, Aurora was pretty much Riccardo's official fiancée. Still, Aurora only spoke with him in official events like gala or dances. This was the first time they meet unofficially. She wondered what kind of rumors this meeting would generate.
"My princess, your complexion doesn't look good. Your health worries me. It seems the healing took a great toll." (Riccardo)
"... Indeed. I'll need a night worth of sleep to fully recover." (Aurora)
"Knowing that you'll make a full recovery has lifted an heavy weight from my heart! It would break my heart to lose you." (Riccardo)
The remark of the Prince was rude. Aurora didn't understand the meaning behind it, so she chose to simply acknowledge and gloss over the issue.
"My prince, how are things going with the Beast? I hope she is being forthcoming to you." (Aurora)
"Beast is such a bad moniker. Liara is a lovely lady, and she would make for a great Queen! Still, it pains me to admit that her great powers made her blind to my greatness. Which only ignites the fires in my heart further!" (Ricardo)
"As your tutor, it fills my heart with pride and joy to know that you are already at the age when you can feel true love, Riccardo. I'm sure Liara will return your feelings, one day. I'll be cheering for you." *grin* (Hanna)
As Sabrina wondered how many of the words uttered by the Prince were an acting prepared by his tutor, Aurora felt a chill running through her spine at the thought of the Beast being considered as potential Queen candidate.
"My prince. The Beast can never become Queen. Surely you know that?" (Aurora)
"What I know, my princess, is that the future ruler is chosen by the current Queen amongst princesses. Liara would be eligible the moment she becomes one. I wonder how gifted our offspring could be. They could become legends!" *grin* (Riccardo)
"I will give birth to the next heir, because it is I who will become your Queen!" (Aurora)
"First Princess Aurora, you should not forget the etiquette when speaking with the crown prince." (Hanna)
"It is fine, Hanna. This is just an unofficial visit and Aurora had a long day. And I can't help' but think that she has a good point. Perhaps she will become my Queen after all! Then again, she might not. This matter is far from decided." *grin* (Riccardo)
"Thank you for your visit, Prince Riccardo. If this is all, we should all return to our room to rest. This was a long day." (Sabrina)
Sabrina took the chance to end the meeting. Aurora was shaken by the remarks of the prince and it could only get worse.
"Of course. I just need to ask one thing of Princess Sistina before I go. It came to my attention that you spent a great deal of time with my beloved Liara. Are there advices you would like to share with me?" (Riccardo)
*shivers* "I... I... wouldn't know... my prince." *bow* *sweat* (Sistina)
"... Is that so? Pity." (Ricardo)
"I believe it is time to go, my prince. Aurora is weary, and she needs rest. We too have much to discuss. I have many advices I would like to share with you." (Hanna)
"Oh my! It seems I was being inconsiderate! Rest well, fair ladies! Good night." *bow* (Riccardo)
*leave* (Riccardo, Hanna)
Master Arteficer at Work
Location: Alba / Forge
Time: Y1503 / 20th day of the Wither Moon
Below the of the temple of Alba there was a network of tunnels and chambers built long ago by Elves. Inside one of those chambers, was the Forge of Alba. A collection of powerful tool that would be the dream of every arteficer.
Two figures had been manning the forge together and practically took residence there. Faber, The Master Arteficer of Victoria, who sought to pass on his technique to a worthy successor, and Meridia, once known as the most skilled enchantress in the continent who was making preparation for the great crusade to come.
Pooling together their knowledge and techniques, they have been unveiling the secrets of the forge, one after the other.
Faber was standing on a platform, his hands holding two knobs atop waist height pillars in front of him. From there, Faber could operate the various stations. Right now he was controlling the forge, a pool of molten magma laid with complex enchantments. The powerful artifact that was keeping a blob of shifting liquid metal suspended in mid air.
"The metal is settled. Lad! Bring me the black tube!" (Master Arteficer Faber)
Faber's apprentice hurried toward the shelves and brought back the tool. An artifact that looked like a dark tube on which green runes shifted and mover.
"Here, Master." (Lenbor)
"This is the thing. Good lad." (Faber)
Faber left the control platform, approached the pool of magma, collimated some magic threads and activated the artifact, pointing the tip toward the surface of the red hot liquid bubble at a close distance.
The molten metal was dotted with black impurities. At the behest of Faber, the black spots gathered together, forming a dark spot that grew in size. Soon enough, the black spot formed into a sphere and detached from the main blob, leaving the liquid metal devoid of impurities.
Faber retracted the tool, and the black sphere followed the tip at a fixed distance, seemingly bound to the artifact.
"As I suspected. This artifact separates contaminants from pure metal." (Faber)
"Incredible, Master! Refining metal took days and many cycles of heating and cooling with our equipment in Victoria, but this tool allow us to do it in mere moments!" (Lenbor)
"Unfortunately, most of this equipment in here is still a mystery to us, despite our best efforts." (Meridia)
"That's because you didn't have me, Meridia!" *grin* (Faber)
Even after centuries of experimentation, the Church of Gloria didn't have a clear understanding of all the functions of the forge and tools in it.
The High Priestesses of old could never grasp the inner working of the forge as they were just magi. But Faber was a Master Arteficer and his experience with metals and forges, combined Meridia's knowledge in enchanting allowed the two to make a quick series of discoveries.
"I can see the two of you are working well together." (Priestess Mera)
The priestess of the temple came in to check on the work. They had been practically taking residence in the Forge, and the Council of the Churhc of Gloria wanted to keep tabs on what they were doing with their most valuable facility.
"What do you need, Lass? We are busy." *drop* (Faber)
As Faber deactivated the artifact, the cooling ball of impure metals fell to the ground. It was hot enough that it hissed in a puff of black smoke. Faber put the tool away and went back to the to control platform.
"The royal prince is trying to win Liara's heart." (Mera)
"What of it? I'm here to forge artifacts. Nothing more. Take care of this worthless stuffs yourself." (Faber)
"I have to agree with Faber. We are very busy, and I already told you to leave everything about Liara to Serina's judgement." (Meridia)
Needless to say, their answer didn't satisfy Mera in the least.
"But what if Riccardo succeed and Liara wishes to go with him?!? We have to prevent that scenario at all costs! She trusts you, Meridia. Go talk with her!" (Mera)
"I won't go. And if Liara chooses Riccardo, then so be it. You should let them be together." (Meridia)
"WHAT?!?! YOU~ (Mera)
The priestess was incredulous at Meridia's word. The Gifted One was the most valuable asset owned by the Church. By far. Letting the Royal Family have her was simply unthinkable.
"Don't shout in here. I'm working." (Faber)
"... It was a mistake. All of it. Now I'll have to~ (Mera)
The former High Priestess was sure that everything would turn out as per Gloria's will. But Mera didn't share Meridia's belief. It was time to make the Priestess understand.
"Back then, Liara was offered the position of princess by the Minister of Magic. Amigarde let Liara decide. She refused of her own volition." (Meridia)
"Liara a princess? And she refused? Why would anyone refuse?" (Lenbor)
"My point exactly. Amigarde gambled with the future of the church! It was a stupid risk to take! We should be working harder to indoctrinate the Gifted One! Bind her!" (Mera)
"You don't know Liara like I do. Do you know why she refused?" (Meridia)
"... Her faith in Gloria, surely." (Mera)
"Gha Ha Ha Ha!!! Good one, lass!" (Faber)
Mera had achieved the rank of Priestess. She was the highest authority in Alba. Still, the people in front of her didn't act like it at all. Such lack of respect was infuriating to Mera.
"Let me enlighten you. Liara refused because of her love for her mother. I chose Serina for a reason. Even Amigarde and the council realized that I was right." (Meridia)
"... You are saying that we should do nothing? What if Liara betrays us?" (Mera)
"Liara is the embodiment of Gloria's will. If she were to act against the church, it would mean that our teaching are straying from the true path." (Meridia)
"What if Serina betrays us? If she really has such an hold over Liara's heart, then~ (Mera)
"Serina is the purest amongst us. She would never betray us." (Meridia)
Meridia was calmly laying out the overall strategy the Church laid out for Liara. Slowly, Mera was beginning to see the dots connecting.
"... And what if you are wrong? What if the day comes when Liara chooses to defy our orders or oppose us? How do you plan to stop her?" (Mera)
"Stop her? Lass. Have you seen her in action? She survived assassins from the Silence. Once my artifacts are complete, not even Orta and her army will be able touch a finger of hers! f you wanted to kill her, you should have done so when she was but a baby." *grin* (Faber)
"I wonder if that would have worked. I tried to take Liara's powers for myself, and Gloria stripped me of everything I was. I felt it. Foreign magic destroying my enchantment from the inside. There was a will behind that power. The will of Gloria. The child was destined to survive." (Meridia)
"We are betting the very existence of the Church of Gloria on one little girl!!!" (Mera)
"Then we'd better show her that we are the good guys, don't you think so? Everyone but us tried to hurt her. Why would she choose evil over good?" (Meridia)
*sigh* "What in the world are we going to do when Liara becomes an unruly youth?" *face palm* (Mera)
"Whe can set a curfew?" (Meridia)
"Gha Ha Ha Ha! Your sense of humour is getting better, Meridia!" (Faber)
After voicing her doubts, Mera could only agree. The High Priestess and the Council were committed anyway and Meridia's strategy had worked out so far. The only thing left was to see the plan come to fruition.
"One more thing, Faber. The unit we dispatched at the crossroad has found the crystal rod. We have no idea who built it, when, how or why. We don't even know how deep it goes and we cannot take it out easily. We are building a watchtower around it so that we may find out." (Mera)
"You do that, lass." (Faber)
With all the matters taken care of, Mera left as Faber kept experimenting with the controls, changing the shape of the blob of molten metal.
- Sister of Battle
Bio: I'm a fan of anime, manga and novels, and I really like the resurrection theme. I like writing in my spare time. I'm not after anything grand like money or fame, I just like the way this story is coming along and I decided to share it. I hope this story will be to your liking!