He was slightly charmed by it. “Guard! Punish this insolent bitch for daring to lay her hands on me!” The High Magnus said indignantly. He was considered the most powerful mage in the Empire! He could raze a town if he wanted to and no one could stop him, yet this girl dared to swat him away?! Never! The guards came forward, drawing their swords. The emperor was about to step in and stop them, but Avery punched the rat-like mage with an open palm, fire burning in her hands as she smashed it into the man’s chest, “Fuck off!” she growled.
The man felt a pressure push against his chest as she pressed her small palm to it, but it didn’t feel like her small palm. It felt hot and almost like a small ball. It all happened so fast that after his mind registered the sensation and his runes activated, he only remembered her golden eyes burning with primal fury. His body then felt weightless as his body was flung backward followed by what sounded like a thunderclap. “I’ve been hit…?” After this thought left his mind, he saw the after-flare of gold fire shooting up off his chest as it expanded outward from the impact zone.
The impact felt like being hit by an ogre’s fist as the air left his lungs and his body crashed against the marble wall behind. Dust billowed out as his body slumped downward, his bones aching from the impact as he felt many of his runes shred from the sudden and powerful hit he took from that girl’s palm. Her sudden attack had taken all the guards off-guard as they quickly stumbled backward as she lashed out with another palm full of golden fire. They had seen the High Magnus being flung across the audience chamber. He was a man layered in his own protective runes while they were lowly knights who couldn’t afford to pay for a protective run unless they were frugal with their salaries with a family!
Prince Randol was caught off guard as well as he stumbled to the side in shock by the sheer power she possessed. Ter’yut did as well, but Desmond was unphased and looked on with interest knowing she had tuned-down her spell on the fly. The Emperor, a man known for his womanizing and scheming, had never fought a battle or a fight that wasn’t scripted. The only time he had seen anything resembling a real fight was in the Colosseum but even then, they were often skewed towards someone rather than it be left to the gods.
Never has someone dared to attack one of his people in front of him, in his palace, so openly. He was as stiff as a statue as his guards surrounded him with their weapons up, yet even they were shaking in fear.
A Magnus was a person at the peak of magic! To put into perspective, a Magnus spent most of their lives training and honing their crafts. Everything from offensive magic like Firebolt to auxiliary magic such as enchanting, a Magnus would be a master in three categories with the ability to teach apprentices. With magic rated in tiers by the amount of power behind them, there were ten tiers. Most mages would only ever reach the fourth-tier if they dedicated their lively-hood to the craft. Magnuses were rated in the sixth-tier. The other levels were spells said to have been used in the age of gods – Avery’s time.
This meant Magnuses where the monsters of the arcane world!
Yet, this girl who didn’t look a day over the age of sixteen had sent one flying with just a punch!
“It’s okay! It’s okay!” Prince Randol managed to pull himself together and tried to de-escalate the situation as he stepped in between her and her father, more so she could see him rather than him protecting his bastard of a father. “Let’s just calm down here and -” His eyes caught Avery’s expression as her eyes scanned the knights and him. There was panic and confusion in those eyes. Something he hadn’t seen in those eyes. “Father, I think it would be best if you wouldn’t offend our guest here… Right?” He quickly pulled his ashen-faced father into the conversation. But it took a few more prompts before the man even pulled himself together with a raspy squeak of agreement.
“I say we cancel the rest of court today and I’ll see our guest back to her room to rest.” His eyes slide back to Avery who looked at him with expectation now, like a lost child looking at a big brother for guidance. It was a look his little brother Desmond gave him plenty of when they were younger. It rattled him a little how… innocent… someone who just slaughtered a horde of monsters and gave a smackdown to the Empire’s Magnus could look. “L-Lady Avery, let’s go back to your lodging and we’ll talk this over some refreshments.”
He wasn’t sure how the rest of the day was going to go…
. . . .
Looking out her window, her eyes looked out to the new dawn coming up. Today she wore a long sleeve white dress with a handkerchief-style hem that reached her mid-calf. The hem was embroidered with flowers, by her hand, with a slightly longer inner-materiel that was like a golden veil. Off-set slightly by an inch and just as long. The High Magnus survived her attack – thanks for their quick response – nearly six days ago, but strangely, he had an attitude adjustment according to Prince Desmond. A rather good one.
The Magnus had attempted to apologize to her by coming to her meet her outside the dormitory along with a few apprentices, but it had almost escalated into a magic fight between her and the prideful apprentices. It turned into a day-long standoff between the two parties after he sent them off back to the Magnus Tower on the eastern end of the grounds. He then knelt for the rest of the day as Avery came and went. A pride that Avery never knew she had stopped her from accepting it even insincerely just to send him away.
She never had been this stubborn before or hot-headed, but it felt right and she couldn’t help herself. Yet, even with this high-pride and new stubbornness, she sincerely forgave him in the end. The guards assigned to her had told her he hadn’t moved to drink or eat the entire time when she came back from dinner with Navara at Randol’s Mansion in the Western district. His sincerity had been felt and she gave in.
He tried to give her land or gold, but she didn’t want neither and off-handedly said “Just have your maids buy me some clothes. That’s the only thing I need really” to get him to leave. While she appreciated the sincerity, she honestly was going to deal with her other issues in time. He, however, went above and beyond, commissioning the Royal Tailors to make her clothing. They were similar to the maids, who were dressed in robes similar to the servant that now was standing behind her eating some weird fruits sent to her by the said Magnus. Of course, with better clothes.
The servant girl was named Hera, a fourteen-year-old half human half beast. In what way? She was of the rabbit-kins. She didn’t have the ears, but she had a bunny tail and her lower legs from the knee down were literal rabbit legs and paws. It was adorable in its own way, but it explained her timid nature. However, she found that the girl was abused in the palace. Generally, beast-men and humans in the empire had a shaky co-existence since the end of the war nearly sixty years ago. The stigma wasn’t as prevalent in the countryside where the hardy bodies and great work ethics of the beast-kins shined. It was in the cities where the stigma was an actual issue, like in the capital.
Many of the great warriors held deep-seated hatred for the beast-kin after having clashed with them many times and this was passed down to their children and to others.
Rabbit-kin was the weakest of the beast-kin, often timid in nature, but great at things such as child raising, sewing, cooking, and other household chores. They were also great scouts and thieves. Or so Navara had explained. Her little rabbit now had settled down around her now that she figured out she wasn’t going to beat her randomly. As for her guards… They had some reservations about her and Navara but eventually became accustomed to them. Now everyone got along great.
Since the incident, Desmond asked that she lay low for a while as the Palace calmed down. Avery wasn’t in a hurry to cause any more trouble so she took his advise and limited herself to the Diplomat Lodgings of the Western end of the grounds. Since then, many officials had actually tried to seek her out to meet her only to be turned away. The Magnus not being one of them.
A knock came from the door. The rabbit girl walked over to it while still nibbling on the fruit. Avery watched this and felt she may have less a too loose of a leash on the girl because deciding it was too much of a hassle to do something about it with a roll of her eyes. Hera cracked the door while nibbling contently on her food before turning to Avery. “The High Magnus is here to visit with Prince Desmond again.” She said with a half-full mouth. The girl had small and delicate facial features with bright emerald eyes. Looking at the red smear from the fruit that she could only compare to an apple-sized raspberry, she could only she nodded.
. . . . . .
The Magnus came and gave her the news that everyone has finally calmed down. Stepping out of the Diplomat’s lodgings for the first time in six days, what greeted her was the sight of snowfall over the Western Gardens. “It’s winter already?” Avery asked with Hera’s sweet laughter coming from behind. “No, Avery.” When Hera was first warming to Avery, she had addressed her as Lady. It felt too formal for Avery if she was going to be around her for a while. She eventually got her to just use her name, but that came with all the other laidback mannerisms.
But no one was going to tell Hera anything, not with that terrifying girl allowing her to act that way.
“Senior, the reason I came by was actually to invite you to my tower for a tour! I would have invited you sooner but… It was unpresentable so I had my apprentices clean the tower and make sure it was spotless as not to offend you.” He rubbed the tip of his nose shyly like a child that wanted to show his mother that he cleaned his room. Oddly enough, Avery thought it was adorable. Over the last six days, the old man had stunned her by how different he was from their first encounter.
Rather, it was Avery that gave him the eye-opener was what Hera told her with the first thing he said when he woke up was “I have seen the pinnacle of power!” He was arrogant and unruly with Hera having seen it before, but now he had understood he was not that powerful. Other than coming out to visit Avery, he had shut himself in his tower for researching, or more so, apparently he was cleaning. Avery didn’t care too much about the details of how he was before, so long as he didn’t try that stunt again.
Speaking of that incident, Avery had thought back to it. When the man and reached for her, she felt herself take the back seat. It was as if some primal instinct had taken over, causing rage to course through her body. It was a strange feeling that she only managed to tone down the attack spell in her hands.
“Here we are.” The Magnus said with a smile. While she was lost in her thoughts, they had traveled to the eastern end of the grounds where a lower mountain ridge had been flattened out with different colored trees lining the edges of the grounds that spanned what Avery guessed was nearly eighty-feet in width. The ridge reached out half the length with the walk to the tower being short with planters filled with different herbs lining the stone path to the tower’s doorstep.
Now that Avery had a grasp of what Mana was, she could feel the mana in the area was as thick as fog. It was not a bad feeling as it actually made the air cleaner. “What do you think Mana is Magnus?” Avery asked, curious if it still matched the lore. “Please, don’t be so modest. Call me Disciple Lorren.”
. . . . .
“Savannah! Wait for mommy!” A woman said playfully as she jogged after her daughter through the marketplace. Dressed in a loose faded-grey short sleeve cotton tunic and pants. She had a steel-breast plate that was dull and marred with chips and cuts. She had steel gauntlets and thigh-plates with a sword dangling from her hip that rustled with each step. ” Oi, Layla! Don’t lose your girl again, haha!” One of the vendors yelled out with a few onlookers waving at the girl.
Layla was a C-ranked Monster Hunter in the small city of Nephes which stood on the border of the Great Deserts and the Empire to the north. Eventually, Layla was done chasing after her daughter and increased her pace, catching her daughter easily. She lifted her up and tossed her in the air slightly before catching her in her embrace. “C’mon little one, we need to go to the Guild today. Maybe Aunty Ha’vie will be there. That old elf is always so busy running around she hadn’t been able to visit.”
They made their way through the dust covered streets lined with tan mud buildings. Nephes was an old city that had once been a major hub for trade between the Empire and the Desert Cities. Now all the trade flowed another city when a safer route was found. The city was still bustling but wasn’t as grand as before. Monsters still needed to be slain and people still needed their parts. Where it was safe to operate a Hunter Branch there would always be people.
Layla was a widowed mother of one, her late-husband had died during a Dungeon Raid. The raid was laid by Ha’vie ten years ago while Layla was still pregnant with Savannah. Her husband was the only one who had lost his life due to a mistake, but Ha’vie had taken it personally and decided to become the God-mother of his child. Ha’vie often visited and trained Layla to be an exceptional hunter. They didn’t make much since she couldn’t hunt full time, but the girl was finally old enough to leave for a boarding school.
Today she was going to ask Ha’vie to take her to the Empire’s prestigious Academy in the Capital. Something the Free Desert Cities didn’t have. If Ha’vie was late though, she had a letter in her hand to leave with the Receptionist. It was a request addressed to the elf herself.