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Chapter 16 – Late

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

Blue’s Prospective

As Chesney and I finish our extended training-he insisted on continuing well into the dusk in preparation for next week-we head inside for supper.

Strange, Ashen is still not back.

I am getting a bit worried now.

She has come back late before, but never this late. The sun has almost set. There is a full moon out tonight, so that provides some light, but what if she is out alone in the dark?

No, Ashen is a magician. She can create light at a whim. She’ll never be alone in the dark.

But if she ventured into the forest, though…

She was especially upset today. Maybe she did wander in to take her mind off things? Or maybe hunt magic beasts to prove her strength to herself?

I am worried.

Uncharacteristically, Chesney is not calm as well. He watches me, and is sitting silently, but his leg is twitching as if he is antsy.

“Maybe we should go look for her?” asks Chesney. “It is about time for the last of the hunters to be leaving the forest. We may hear some news from them if there is something wrong. What is with that look?”

“No, I just didn’t expect you to be concerned for Ashen.”

“Of course I am concerned. She is still the daughter of my teacher, and my sparing partner, however inept she may be.”

“That sounds more like you.”

“Oy, what is that supposed to mean.”

“Just what it sounds like!”

I am getting agitated. I really must be getting worried. I never expected this of myself growing up. I always saw myself as detached. Though Amelia would disagree.

“Chesney, go get Amelia. We’re moving out to the forest.”

Uncharacteristically, Chesney doesn’t argue, and runs upstairs to get Amelia.

I follow, run to my room, and start grabbing my equipment.

I grab my boots, and my jerkin. I tie my hair in a pony tail behind my head.

I grab my twin swords. They are magic swords which an element of fire and ice when mana is poured through them. That act also repairs and reinforces them, and keeps them sharp. To the point where I feel like that is their primary purpose.

I stow them in my scabbards at my waste, and go downstairs to find Amelia and Chesney ready with a rapier at her belt, and a broadsword at his. Amelia is wearing a black naval suit, the one she always wore at sea. Chesney is still in his training outfit.

“Whats with the dress up, Amelia?”

“It’s been a while since we’ve done anything like this. I wanted to get back in the mood.”

“Ashen is missing, it’s not a trip for fun! Most likely, nothing will happen anyways.”

“Then why have you brought out the twin swords, huh?”

“Just… just in case…”

I look away. She kind of guessed it. I’ve been so bored these past few years that I am gearing for any chance of a fight.

“Shouldn’t we get a move on? The pip-Ashen might be in trouble.” says Chesney, correcting himself mid insult. Yeah, that’s the Chesney I know.

“Let’s go.”

I walk out the door and through the court yard. Past the fountain in the courtyard and through the front gate.

I head down the path towards the village at a quick pace. I don’t really want to deal with them if I do not have to. At worst, I’ll have to deal with the hunters as they com home. I don’t do well with the villagers.

I tried visiting the village when I first moved here. It was right after my marriage and the incorporation of The Fleet into the royal navy. In The Fleet, we controlled much of the coastal towns. But we didn’t have influence of towns this far inland. As such, upon entering the village, all I would hear were chatter and rumors about how The Fleet had been defeated. None of the nuance of what actually happened. And of course, vicious rumors and remarks about the pirate queen, who weaseled herself into the royal family and who may become their new lord.

I mean, what the hell? Sure, part of what happened did happen because Sander was a prince and thus could broker the deal in the first place. But I married him because he was the Sander of my memories, of my childhood, the one who always stood by me. Not because he was royal, or because I wanted to be related at all to the royal family. It was because he had power over me via the control rod of my slave crest, but relinquished that to me rather than hold it over my head. He could have made me do whatever he wanted. Instead, he gave me the choice. I just chose to stay with him.

While I was musing in my head, we came to the fork in the road between the village and the forest. Naturally, we took a turn and went towards the forest.

The other two are chatting behind me, but I don’t join in with them. I am too preoccupied with my own thoughts.

After a ways, Amelia places her hand on my shoulder.

“Look ahead, it seems something is happening.”

I take my mind off my thoughts, and look ahead towards the forest. In front of the trees, there are a large gathering of men with swords and bows. They are ambling around and seem restless, waiting for something.

Amelia glances at me, then jogs on ahead.

“Hey! What’s going on?”

“Ah, hey there. We’re all just gathering. There is someone lost in the forest.”

“Who is it?”

“Ah” says another hunter, “It’s this little girl. We see her around here a lot, but no one’s seen her come back yet. She usually wanders the forest path, and then returns. But this time, we think she may have gone of the path.”

Another hunter pipes up.

“I saw her move off the path a bit, but then there was a roar and a commotion. Moon bears, if I had to guess it. I tried to get over where it was coming from, but I Was blocked by a boggart. I can’t get past one of those on my own, so I called for help. It’s the least we can do to go help her out. She could be wounded, or lost. For all she’s done for us… we just can’t give up.”

“All she’s done for you? Do you know who she is? What has she done?” I ask, having caught up.

“She’s just a local girl. I don’t know her name. But whenever we”re out hunting, we can see her watching us. She think’s she’s being clever and out of view, but I mean, we’re hunters, we’re used to tracking the unseen, right? Anyway, the little miss is a magician, whenever we get in trouble or bite off more than we can chew, she’s there from the shadows helping us. Saved us from quite a few jams, if I do say so myself. But she never asks for a reward, or even a portion of the hunt. Kind of a silent protector. So we keep an eye on her as much as we can and keep her out of trouble.”

“And since no one’s seen her leave the forest, we’ve gathered here after the hunt.”

“Who are you guys, anyways. We don’t see you around here. How did you hear about this?”

I pause for a second.

“I’m the girls mother.”

“You are? Well nice to meet ya, er-”

“Blue. You can call me Blue.”

“Blue, hah, you wouldn’t be the great Testarossa” he says, mockingly.

“As a matter of fact.” I draw my swords, “Yes. Yes I am.”

The men take a step back.

Amelia gets between us.

“Hey, come now. Don’t fight. We’re here for the same purpose.”

“No, er… I mean… I am sorry if I have offend… You are the mother of our guardian angel, of course we should treat you well…er…” mutters one of the hunters.

A voice rings out from the entrance of the forest.

“Okay everyone, get together. We’re going in.”

Everyone starts heading towards the forest.

“Break into two parties. Party one, take the western entrance and the second party take the east. We’ll meet in the middle of the path. If you see a break in the path where the missy may have gone off the path.”

I turn to Amelia and Chesney.

“Chesney, you and Amelia go with the western group. I’ll head in with the eastern group.”

“Are you sure? You’ll be fine on your own?”

“Are you doubting my abilities?”

“I am doubting your state of mind. You might not have noticed, but you’re pretty on edge. And I do not think it is because of Ashen.”

She is right. I am on edge. It’s been a long time since I’ve been back with the populace. At least it is better than with the nobles.

“It’s better than being with the nobles. I can handle it. If need be, I’ll just run ahead and find her myself.”

“That is what I am talking about! Treat them like you’re back in the fleet. They’re your comrades, and they’re trying to find your daughter. Out of goodwill too!”

“I know that. I know that.” I mutter. “Let’s just do this. Find Ashen, and beat the shit out of some moon bears.”

“As long as it is just the moon bears you beat the shit out of.”

We separate from each other, and I head towards the hunters on the eastern side. I can see them already muttering and looking at me. Some are even gesturing towards me. They must now know who I am from our earlier conversation. Hopefully this will end well.

We enter the forest in search of Ashen, torches alight, and in single file, with myself at the rear.

 

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Chapter 15 – Exploration

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

Ashen’s Prospective

As I turn around, I observe the area past the gate. I am in a dilapidated court yard. It does not look like people have lived here for quite some time. Everything is overgrown and in disrepair. But it is strange. I feel like the hedges, which make sort of a mini, chest high maze, have been pruned recently. They are cleanly shaped. It is as if someone did the minimum amount of work to keep the place up.

I can also feel the wisps that were in the forest in the periphery. They’ve made it inside the gates as well, but they seem to still be observing me at a distance. I’ll keep an eye out for them just in case.

I walk towards the front doors of the mansion, along a stone path and past disused fountain in the middle of a circular stone courtyard which lays between the gates and the terrace. In the center of the fountain is a statue of a woman with two heads and a winged cat. A tressym? The woman is in a fighting stance with a rapier in one hand and a swirl of water in the other, while the cat is slinking between her legs. Water looks like it would flow out from the tip of the sword, the cats mouth, and out of the water ball. There is no water in the fountain right now, though.

I walk past the statues in the fountain, and look upon the house. It is two stories, and looks similar to my house back home. It is a brown, wood framed house with a stone foundation, and blue shuttered windows. There is no sound coming from the house. It is still late afternoon, so there should be birds or other critters about, but I do not hear them.

Anyways, the light is starting to dim, and there is no light coming from inside the house.

[Light Ball]

I create a ball of light and have it follow.

I walk forward and put my hand on the door, and give it a push. At first there seems resistance, as if it were locked, but a couple seconds later, the door opens normally. Inside is a dusty entryway. In front of me is a staircase that leads to the second level, and to either side are doors to different rooms. The wood floor is slightly dusty, but again, it is as if someone did the bare minimum for cleaning the floors. I head through the first door on the left and into a living area. There are dusty couches and chairs around the room and a big fireplace in the center. Back home, this is split into two rooms-the living room on the front side, and another room in the back that serves as an indoor dojo where Blue trains during the winter or when it is raining.

In here, however, it is a large, open room, with a circular fireplace in the center with a chimney, and the rest of the room oriented around it. It is a large and splendid room, and feels like the place where you would hold a party. On the fireplace was a stone with a fire symbol imprinted onto it. I tried touching it and pouring magic into it, and the fireplace came alight. Woah. I quickly touched the symbol again and the fire died out. So the fireplace is a magic tool, eh?

On the right side of the first floor was a dining room and a kitchen. Both seem to be in good shape.

In the back are two bathrooms. Inside was a sink and a toilet. When I tried turning the faucet handle, it even had running water! But there were no pipes under it. Is this a magic tool as well? I am curious about the toilet too, but I held back. This is an amazing house. I wonder why it was abandoned? Or, no, is it abandoned? I don’t know.

I creep back out and head up the stairs. The stairs are lined with a thin, well trodden carpet. There are no footprints in the dust, but then again, the mansion is surprisingly clean for something abandoned.

When I get to the landing, there appear to be five rooms. One directly in front of the stairs, and two on each side. I open the door to the room in front of the stairs. The walls around the room are covered in book shelves. On the opposite wall are glass windows and a door that lead to a balcony terrace. I can see a table and a couple chairs out there, though they look like they’ve crumbled apart.

The room has a few couches, a desk with a comfy looking chair, and a table with some odds and ends laid out on it. Unlike the rest of the house, though, this place is a mess. There are books littering the floor, and dust everywhere. Kind of like whomever was cleaning the house wasn’t allowed in here. I think I can feel the wispy like things jitter, but they haven’t followed me in here.

This is the first time I’ve seen so many books in this world. There are books back home, but they are all on things like history, politics, and etiquette. Perhaps, maybe, even so, there just might be some books here on magic. That’s what I am really eager for. How others use magic in this world. Thus far, I’ve had to make it up as I go after all.

I walk over to the table. On the table is a note book that looks like a journal, some metal plates, some etching tools, a dried up bottle of ink and quills, and some magic stones that appear depleted. When I look at the plates more closely, I see etchings on them. They remind me of circuits. Could it be someone was making a magic tool? When I glance at the notebook, I see a design sketched out.

In the sketch, the plates are arrayed in a wooden box. There are three levels inside the box, with a plate on each level. Lets see, on there are also small plates that are attached between each level, and a plate on the front of it with a hand print with some etches in it.

Above the sketch is scrawled ‘hot/cold box’. The parts in the drawing are labeled things such as activation plate, wind plate, hot plate, cold plate. It looks like whomever was working on this was building an air conditioner. That’s pretty amazing.

I skim through the rest of the notebook.

Amazing. This is like an engineers sketchbook where they kept all of their invention ideas and blueprints. There are designs for a variety of inventions here. A hat that deflects wind, a chair that hovers and moves on command, a pair of small devices that appears to give off a magic pulse the closer they are to each other.

The drawings are intricate and detailed.

This is amazing. With this. If I study this. If I do. Then. Then. I can make magic tools myself!

I was an engineer in my previous life. One that specialized in circuitry as well. These drawings show me that they are using magic in much that same way.

It even has drawings on how to make a magical battery out of magic crystals.

Hehehe.

I stash the notebook in my bag.

I think I just found my new playhouse.

 

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Chapter 14 – Talent without Strength

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

Blue’s Prospective

“Ahh! Wait, ah.”

I watch as my daughter, who went in for the attack, finds herself off guard and on the ground again. It is always the same with this girl. And Chesney doesn’t make it any better.

“Stop whining and complaining,” says Chesney, “It’s the obvious result, right?”

“I don’t get it. Don’t get it. DON’T GET IT!” yells Ashen. “Why can’t I even get in one hit! Seriously! Even when it was obvious you were going to use a side swipe from the left. Cheater. Hacker. Give me back my hit!”

“What are you talking about? It’s like this every time because you simply don’t have the skill.” says Chesney, rather arrogantly I might add.

If you looked at the two standing there, it is the picture of a handsome and gallant youth, with golden blond hair, green eyes, and a tanned complexion together with an adorable girl, her wavy dirty blonde hair tied up in a pony tail, and thee boy reflected in her blue eyes.

That is if it was just a painting. Or if you were deaf and couldn’t hear the two bickering.

In reality, Chesney is a teenager entering his rebellion years rather early. He’s only a year or two away from starting primary school at the Central Academy in the capital. Though I will say he is very talented, he is somewhat full of himself, and most of his bark at Ashen comes from his insecurities about her.

Yes, my dear Ashen, she is a genius. A genius with the sword, or maybe fighting in general. She fully picked up on the philosophy of Shipboard Combat, the style I developed during my sea faring days, and excels at it. She is instantly able to make judgments and attack the weak point of her enemy. She is not fixated on any one style or approach, and that makes her a difficult sparing partner. She refuses to let you get into any sort of rhythm of approach, as she constantly changes in relation to how you are attacking her.

It’s almost as if she was a Human. That is what the Humans are known for, after all. A Tigren will stalk you and pounce. A dwarf will bash you with a hammer or axe from the front. An Ursine will beat you down with his bear strength. But a Human? A human could come at you from fifty different ways, and you’ll never know what hit you. That is why they are so scary, despite being so weak on their own.

And like those Humans, Ashen shares the same weakness that has kept her down.

She is weak.

Even after training for over two years, since she was eight, she has not built up any constitution or strength. She has dexterity and can move quickly, but not not nearly enough. Her sword blows are like being hit with a feather. Her speed is like a jogger in a relay race.

Simply put, she is like the world’s greatest chef in a desert. All that skill won’t do you any good if there’s nothing to cook in the first place.

These two. I am worried for both of them.

Chesney is threatened by Ashen’s obvious skill. I think he fears the day that Ashen acquires strength to challenge him. He’s very good himself, but it’s at the level of very good versus genius. But it is clear he has some resentment against Ashen for daring to be better than him. I also think he is jealous because he thinks she is taking my time away from him.

Oh, I don’t think he seems me in that way. It is more that the master that he fought so hard (not really) to get taught under took another weaker pupil under their wing at the same time instead of fully committing to him.

I hope he will grow out of it. The chip on his shoulder is the only thing holding him back. I was hoping he’d see Ashen as more of a friendly rival, but instead he treats her as the enemy.

Well, if that lets him grow, I guess.

Ashen sees Chesney as an older brother. She seems to write off Chesney’s abrasive remarks. I wonder if she had a similar relationship with someone in her past life?

Ashen is different from most children. She is a reincarnator, and a famous one at that. The legends of her line go back to the founding of the kingdom. What sets her apart from her past is that now she remembers her previous life, while the others only had vague notions.

That, and the others were super strong and formidable warriors, while Ashen is all brains and no brawn.

Even though I say all that, she is still very childish at heart. It would be strange to think of her as an adult.

“That’s enough for today.” I say to stop their bickering. “Let’s pack up and go inside for our meal.”

This has become our daily routine. Lessons in the morning, followed by sparring and then lunch. Afterwards, I will continue to train with Chesney, and Ashen will take a packed meal from the kitchen, and run off on her own. She says she needs time to think about things as well as practicing her magic.

Well, I can agree with that. Maybe it is that time of reflection that gives her the edge over Chesney? After all, I don’t think he has much self reflecting. No, wait, perhaps it is that he self reflects too much? Except he only sees threats rather than opportunities.

As for Ashen, I think it may be time for her to give up the sword. She is exceptionally talented at magic. She has even created her own magic system from what Sander says. He says that this is why he did not want to get her a magic teacher; her knowledge and skill are so much that her system is better than the one taught at the academy. Likewise, it goes both ways he says; if she is left to her own devices, others won’t be able to learn her system and we can avoid a magical arms race.

As for a governess, since she has more knowledge than most from her past life in another world, the most the governess could teach her would be etiquette and history. She has good manners, but then again, who am I to tell? I barely was a noble, if you can call it that, and that was only for the scant years before I ran away from home.

“All said, I am a little jealous about her a bit.” I say as I watch Ashen, clothed in a tan canvas shirt and black pants, says ‘see ya later, mom, I’m off to the forest!’, skips over the low stone wall onto the road. She seems like she is almost skipping away towards the forest to play. Did she hate sword training that badly?

“Jealous? Of her? What of?” Chesney says with a snide remark. “With her skills, there is no way she can be a swordsman.”

Ah, focusing on the skill part. He’s showing his own jealousy there.

“I mean, here we are, training all morning, drenched with sweat, and her with not a drop on her.”

“Oh, that. Well, whats wrong with a little sweat?”

“Nothing’s wrong, I just wish I had her talent for magic. When I asked her about it, she said off hand that she just created an ‘air conditioner’ effect around her that made the air nice and cool. I’m jealous. She doesn’t even realize that other people cannot do that, doesn’t she?”

We continue to banter on aimlessly. Despite his coarse tongue when it comes to Ashen, he talks quite charmingly to me when we are alone. He’ll definitely be a lady killer when he grows up.

I wouldn’t want him to court me, though. He’s the type who gets an inferiority complex when others around him are superior to himself. At least those whom he thinks he cannot use.

Yeah, I don’t want Ashen to marry such a boy.

“You’re always in high praise of her, and I know she is your daughter, but does she really think she can be a swordsman with how she is? She has not able to land one hit on me the entire time we have been training together.”

“But she has almost done it quite a few times.”

“Almost doesn’t keep you alive on the battlefield.”

“Like you have ever been on a battlefield.”

“And?”

“And I have. Almost may not be good enough for yourself, but for your opponent, almost throws them off balance and opens them up for your allies to get a hit in. But we’re not on a battlefield, and when learning anything, almost is a good predicate for being able to do it in the future. Besides, she knows how to think. She has grasped concepts that you still are working on, you know?”

“How to think? Hey! Like what? What don’t I know?”

“That you have to ask… no, asking questions is good. I mean, you know… Listen, when in a fight, the most important thing is to sustain your active concentration. Always be aware and concentrating at all times, even when nothing is happening around you-because something could happen at any time.”

“Just concentrate? That’s easy. I am concentrating!”

“No, you don’t I am not talking about in the heat of the moment. I am talking about at every moment of every day. It is exhausting at first, but a huge advantage once you master it. It is very taxing, though.”

“Alright, what else then?”

“Always assume that your enemy is around every corner, in every hiding place. Assume they are there.”

“So you just swing at every hiding place?”

“No, because it could be your ally is there, or maybe someone not involved. So you must assume they are there, act as if they are there, but not to react until you confirm it.”

“That’s impossible. You should just swing.”

“That’s how you become a Criminal, Chesney.”

“Well, as long as you are with the knight order, it will be-”

“If you say that its fine as long as you have authority, I’m gonna seriously beat you down you little twerp.”

Ah, I accidentally let my temper get the best of me. I really hope he doesn’t actually believe that crap, that as a knight you can do anything.

Or I may have to kill the boy.

“You must anticipate your opponent’s action, even if they are not there, while having the control to react regardless of being wrong or right.”

“What other oh-so-important words of wisdom will thou supply to me?” said Chesney in a mocking voice. “As Ashen has already applied those techniques, I should be able to easily, right?”

He really is infuriating.

Sigh…

“Ashen actually understands these precepts, unlike you.”

“What? Of course I understand-”

“And can put them into practice.”

“I can put them into-”

“Huhuhu…. Then let’s try it. I have an idea for you and Ashen. Ashen may even be able to land a blow if we do it this way.”

“I don’t know if I like the sound of that… no, wait, I mean, no way Ashen could land a blow. I wouldn’t allow it!”

Allow it, shmallow it, it will happen.

“Let’s see, to give you some time to practice, how about next week? For an entire day, You and Ashen will be in a game of tag. The last person tagged at the end of the day loses.”

“Fine, I’ll do it, I can do it. What do I get when I win?”

“Hmm… that is a secret.”

I haven’t thought of a reward yet. I’ll look in the treasury and see if I can find a fitting magic tool or armor. Maybe a sword?

“There are other precepts I have not talked about yet, you know.”

“Such as?”

Now that there was a competition and a reward to be had, he was really paying attention, huh.

“What are the fundamentals of Shipboard combat.”

“To out maneuver your opponent.”

“That is one, but it is more basic than that.”

“To out think your opponent.”

“That is just a rephrasing…”

“To always put your opponent on their back foot-”

“Again, thats the same thing.”

“Then what?”

“To be ready to fight anywhere, with anything, at anytime, on any terrain, be it favorable or unfavorable. With or without your weapon of choice. You mitigate your weakness by being ready to turn any situation into your strength. Be that on a burning, rocking boat with a cutlass, or a forest path and armed with nothing but your fists. You must be ready.”

“Okay then, show me!” yelled Chesney.

“Okay, I’ll show you!”

We continued to spar, practicing the precepts, for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. He is dedicated when he feels he can gain from it, eh…

Ashen will be back soon, so I’ll have to tell her about the competition, and pick a day.

It’s getting dark. Isn’t she a bit late?

 

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Chapter 13 – Encounter

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

Whatever it is, I need to pick up my pace.

To where?

Nowhere. I don’t know. Just keep going forward. Nothing to fear right? It’s just dark, in an unknown forest surrounded by magical beasts who have all ran away frightened, right? Perfectly fine. Perfectly normal. I mean, birds just stop chirping all at once all the time, right?

I fail to reassure myself as I continue to skip over roots at an anxious pace. I glide past the conifers all around me, and keep going in. Deeper, and deeper, and deeper.

When I look back, I see my footprints… are gone. The little magic poofs are… eating it? They’ve been eating the magic I’ve laid down. No wonder they keep following me. I’m like a fucking meal to them! And where is the way back! Crap! How do I get home?

Should I shoot up out of the forest and get my barrings?

Stupid. I’d just smack into tree branches, break my arms, get a face full of leafs and then fall down and hurt myself more. I at least know this of myself.

Onward, I continue forward.

Bash!

I trip over a root and fall face first into a bush. Great, so much for not getting a face full of leafs. I look up and… shit.

There is a large bear like thing hovering over me. The tree which I tripped over is now crashing down to it’s side. Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

I know I said I could handle myself, but shit, can I?

I’ve never been attacked before!

I’m gonna get eaten!
To die as food, how ironic! Wait, is that irony?

This all goes through my mind in a flash. Instinctively, I shoot a blast of wind magic at it’s feet. The monster bear stumbles back a little, but the blast pushes me clear from it’s swipe just in time.

I run.

Shit, shit shit.

I can hear it charging towards me.

It is surprisingly agile, able to glide around trees effortlessly.

This must be it’s territory.

It roars as I send Ice Bullets back at it. I can’t concentrate enough to fire something bigger, and I think all I am doing is antagonizing it.

As I hear it right behind me, I spin around and produce an emerald shield in front of me. It is just a block of emerald that is pointed at the corners, in a kind of diamond shape. I don’t know what I came up with. I just wanted to block with something.

The bear swipes at me and hits the block.

Jang! Crack!

The emerald block cracks, but absorbed the blow fully.

Can this protect me? Ah! If I hold it with magic, can I use the brick to block attacks?

Emerald doesn’t seem to be strong enough, though.

Can I use it for attacks though?

I hop backwards again as another attack comes and I throw the emerald brick at the bear.

Ouch! Right in the face! Or not! The bear swiped it away as it came, and the brick shattered. But there is blood mixed in with the shards.

Maybe I can do this?

No, I don’t have time to refine this. What do I do. Whats better than emeralds?

Sapphire? Diamond?

I create two blocks, a sapphire block like an arrowhead over my right arm, and a large diamond block like a shield over my left.

The bear lunges again, and I take the blow on the diamond shield.

Thankfully, it holds, and I remain upright.

Yes.

Holding the diamond with magic keeps it strong.

I can do this.! I can do this!

Concentrate.

I keep blocking attacks with the diamond shield on my left, and with my right, I fire sapphire bricks shaped like pointed arrows. It feels like the ammo you would use in an artillery piece or a rail gun, but it is all I can think to do.

The bear keeps swatting away at the sapphires projectiles, but its taking damage. It is off balance as I keep them coming, rapid fire.

Good.

I am pushing it back.

The bear jumps back, and then fades back into the forest.

But I can tell by it’s link-core. It is still there. Further, there are two more approaching!

Shit, I can barely take one right now, how do I take two?

I turn tail and run.

Run. Run. Run.

Bam!

I ran right into a gate.

A gate?

Shit, whatever. I shake the gate with my hands, but they don’t budge.

Handle? Key? Lock? Where? Gotta get through, gotta get through!

I channel magic into my hands and push the gate and it opens.

I got through!

Immediately after getting through, the gate slams shut behind me.

Three magic bears appear and slam into the gate.

They keep hitting it over and over.

I stand there like a deer in headlights, just watching and catching my breath.

Will the gate hold?

But I could get through even with my strength, surely they can get through it too. What? Don’t cal you Shirley? Shut it.

The gate holds. With a clang and a bang, they hit it but they cannot get through.

It is only now that I see it. A thin film of magic is covering the gate and the surrounding walls.

Whoa, it also extends into the sky. It’s like a dome.

It was only then that I realized that I was in a courtyard.

It was overgrown, and full of weeds. And in front of me was a mansion almost identical to the one that I grew up in just a few miles away.

A forest mansion.

At least I’ll have shelter for the night.

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Chapter 12 – A Walk in the Forest

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

To take out my frustrations, I go exploring in the afternoons. This way I can do practical magical training as well as having fun.

There is a village not too far away from here, but I’ve been leery about approaching it. Whenever I’ve broached the subject with father, he warns me against exposing myself. Is it because he thinks I can’t hide my true (mental) age? When I ask mother, she will put on a displeased face and tell me that there is nothing good about going there. It seems she feels that she is mocked whenever she visits the town, but cannot retaliate due to her new position. Amelia is indifferent, and says it is alright as long as I don’t tell people my surnames.

Because of this, aside from Chesney, I don’t really have any friends my age.

Such is solitude.

But! There is a playground! The playground of a fantasy world! The Forest. The forest is about a mile away from our home and I have gotten in the habit of heading out there every afternoon.

There are magical beasts living in the forest, but they are no match for my magic, muahahahahaha.

The walk through the forest gives me time to contemplate my thoughts. I think of new spell formations, look for interesting things with my magic eyes, and try and figure out a counter play towards Chesney. I know he is older, so I of course should lose in any sparring match, but the sheer hopelessness is overwhelming to me.

I feel like I know what I should do, but I can’t do it. I can’t do it in time. I can’t do it with enough power. Whereas he can do it without effort.

Frustrating.

It’s frustrating.

I think this to myself as I walk down the cobblestone road that leads from our mansion towards the town. Occasionally I will pass by merchants on the road going to and from town in their horse drawn carriages or wagons, but I aside from a jovial wave of affirmation, I pay them no real heed. Eventually I reach the fork in the road that leads to the forest. I say road, but it is really more like a dirt path, or a desired path, to the forest.

Once I get to the forest, I will occasionally run into hunters on the periphery, and I’ll hide and observe them. My stealth skills are getting a boost. From cover I can observe them and see how they fight the wild beasts.

There aren’t any magicians among them. Usually they are archers and axe men. They get together as a party and attack large beasts that look like large guinea pigs. Capybaras, I think they were called in the other world. They run from the magical ones, though.

When they run into the magical ones, the fights get heated, and if they are not careful they can get out classed, especially if reinforcements come. When that happens, I stealthily help them from the shadows. I can trip them up with earth magic, push them off balance with wind, or give them wounds that seem to come from nowhere with ice magic. This way, the hunters won’t know I am there. Hehehehe.

I reminisce while I glide into the forest path that I wander every day. Glide? Yeah, glide. Back in my old world, I used to ride a hoverboard to work all the time.

When I got here, I wanted to create a magical tool to do the same time.

But, I don’t know how to create them yet.

It’s something I will need to study in the future. Does this world have schools? Or at least a governess? My parents seem to be of the opinion that since I have my past memories, I already have the knowledge I need to survive.

Still, I feel in the dark, though.

But yes! Hoverboard! I can’t build a hoverboard yet, but I can do the next best thing-do it myself.

I found a peculiar property of magic when playing around.

If I create something with magic and hold it in front of me, I can hold that magic in place with a significant amount of force. It is way stronger than if I physically held the object.

However, as soon as I touch the object I created, that force disappears and I bare the weight of the item.

So I can create a sword, but I can’t actually swing it with my hand.

Wait, there is a line of thought there…

Where was I? Ah yes, hoverboard.

I tried creating a ball of magic under my feet, and used it to lift myself a couple inches in the air. When I did so, it was like I was flying!

Well, floating, really.

In the past, I had a hoverboard that let you have one on each foot. That was hard to control because they could zoom off in opposite directions, leaving you with the splits. Plus, you could only go backwards or forwards at a time.

But this way, I can have my feet go in any direction I want to. And since I am the one controlling which direction I am going at anytime, there was no danger of the splits. Yep, it was easy. I totally didn’t fall on my ass for an hour straight, yep. Didn’t happen.

Once I got used to it-I mean, I was already used to it!-I was able to get going. I can glide along with surprising speed and maneuverability. I can even go backwards or sideways at a whim!

It even works well in the forest, despite the overgrowth, as my magical buffer between me and the ground does not care about the smoothness of the surface of the ground under my feet.

I still have to hop over hurdles like tree roots, but it has surprising agility and speed.

Oh, and since I am using mana for it, it burns fat as well, so I am all clear for being lazy and not walking! Mauahahahah!

The forest around me is lush and green. It feels like an evergreen forest, rather than a tropical jungle. I keep my magic eyes posted and look around as I go. I want to keep an eye out for magical beasts. Occasionally I will see glimpses of little balls of magic that seem to take a look at me, then flit off. They are too fast for me to catch up to follow, though.

The canopy is green and of full cover, with trickles of sunlight filtering through. There are mossy trees along the path I’ve carved for myself here.

Usually I follow my path around in a big U, going about a mile into the forest then turning back around. It’s become my afternoon walk.

But this time I want to go off the beaten path.

There is something I’ve noticed.

It’s really hard to see it in the forest, but there is something here. Like a bubble of fog. It filters through the trees and gets denser in one direction. Until now, I have been afraid, I mean, reluctant, I mean, I haven’t considered following it, but today is the day. Anything to keep Chesney’s smug face out of my mind after beating me down all morning. Grr….

The fog is magical, btw. You can only see it with magic eyes. I don’t think anyone else has noticed, as it does not extend above the tree line, so you couldn’t see it outside of the forest.

I hop along towards where I perceive the source the fog is coming from. Because I haven’t beaten this path before, I have to skip over roots constantly, and in many cases between trees.

The cattails and spiked bushes are annoying, though.

Strange. The farther, I go, the fewer magical beasts there seem to be. Well, except those aforementioned puffs of magic. They keep peering at me from behind trees, but skitter away when I look in their direction.

I’ve laid a trail of magical breadcrumbs behind me to make sure I can find my way back. Just drips of mana here and there wherever I step. I can see them with my magic eyes. But, they’ll evaporate in a few hours, so I don’t have much time, though. I just have to avoid getting lost in the forest. Disorientation would be bad, right?

Still, it is quiet.

Really quiet.

“It’s too quiet.” I mummer to myself.

Shit. Did I just self-trigger a flag?

 

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Chapter 11 – Afternoon Self Study

Ashen’s Age: 10 Years Old

Ashen’s Perspective

While I get into the routine of being taught sword lessons and physical training by Mother and Amelia with Chesney, in the afternoon it is my own time. During that time, I either learn about magic, or explore around the area and practice my magic and sword skills.

I have found through my spell crafting that there are limits to creating spells. Magic Spells are exponentially complex. When you create a spell, you build it out of the component parts and have it do the thing you need to do. Those components could be thought of a spell with a level of 0, for example an element of magic that creates heat or flame. After putting together different components, you create a spell of level 1.

An example of this would be a fire bolt. A simple bolt of fire that can be directed at a target. If you take that as a base, and then add more to it, such as adding other spells and modifying it with additional components, you get a level 2 version of the spell, such as Fireball, which has more power, versatility and speed.

But there is a catch.

Each time you go up a level in the complexity of a spell, the new spell is exponentially more complex, and requires similarly exponential amounts of power to invoke it. So creating a level zero spell is easy. Creating a level one spell is simple.

Creating a level two spell is twice as complex and uses twice as much power as a level 1 spell, a power of 2.

A level three spell requires twice as much complexity and power of a level two spell, so a power of 4, then a power of 8, 16, 32, you get the idea.

That means that to create truly large spells, you would very quickly run into a wall. Eventually you would need the magical power of a country to go to the next level, first requiring the brains of that entire country to work to create it.

At least this gives me a way to tell the power level of a spell.

Alright. On to healing magic. I didn’t think healing magic existed at first.

There is the need to insulate yourself from your own magic damaging you, and the doctor who visited me when I electropeed myself didn’t heal me with magic either.

When I asked father about this, he said that there is a small division at Astrania University that focuses in medicine and healing magic, but that it was not very effective and could not be used on the caster, or the person who developed the spell.

Thus, medicine is at least a bit more advanced than they would be if they solely had to rely on magic.

However, I beg to differ. Healing magic is not like how it is in games where you say a few words and you are made whole.

Instead, it is more like speeding up regeneration or adding a little bit of scar tissue here and there while doing surgery.

Basically I have found that you need to give the magic specific tasks to do, and that is not possible with a blanket catch all spell. In essence, each spell has to be crafted in real time while you work on the wound.

And even then, it cannot restore limbs. It is more like a soldering iron for flesh. I can make two pieces of a blood vessel heal together, but things that cannot heal can’t be healed.

You also can indeed use healing magic on yourself.

But to do so, you need to use it without the protective current that you insulate your other magic with, which actually makes it a rather dangerous magic to practice.

I have been using it on myself after sword practice, or when I get bumps or bruises playing outside. It is still very hard to use, though, and as I mentioned you need to know exactly what you are using the healing magic to do.

If anything, it is more comparable to using a soldering iron when building an electronic circuit. You can’t just throw the solder and wires on a board. They need to be precise, and in a very specific pattern, with a specific method.

Otherwise, you get junk. Only in this case, the circuit board is you, and the junk is you dying.

Learning healing magic was good, because I’ve been hurting myself more and more lately.

The sword practice is making me more fit, I can tell, but unlike Mother, I don’t feel like I am getting sturdier.

Like I am getting better endurance, but not strength.

To compensate for this, I have been experimenting with techniques to use magic to enhance my abilities as a swordswoman.

Stuff like putting magic around the blade of the sword, or trying to increase my speed when kicking off the ground. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gone very well.

Kicking off the ground with magic backing it hurts my ankles. Hitting things with the magic enhanced sword hurts my wrists.

Shouldn’t I be getting better at this?

Shouldn’t I be leveling up or something?

Frustrating.

It’s frustrating.


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Chapter 10 – Morning Lessons

Ashen’s Age: 8 Years Old

Ashen’s Perspective

“I still think this isn’t going to work. She’s going to be a magician, right? Do you know any magicians who can use a sword for anything more than a cane?” said Chesney.

“She’s my daughter, of course she will have talent.” said Blue. “Besides, if you don’t shut up about it, I’ll treat you to some live fire training again.” said Blue.

“Yeep, ok, sheesh.”

“Where do we begin?” I asked.

“We’ll start up with some stretches, and a jog around the mansion.” said Blue.

“Try and keep up, pipsquee-ow!” said Chesney.

“Then let’s go.”

And with that, we were off running.

Running.

Running.

Huff. Huff. Geeze, I was a nerd in my previous life. Physical exercise never really appealed to me.

Then again, maybe it will be better in this world. What always drove me crazy were the muscle pains afterwards. Maybe I can figure something out.

“Whats wrong, little dude? Already lapped you.”

Huff. Huff. “I’m coming… coming… com… coming..”

We finished after three laps. No. I finished after three laps. Chesney did 10 laps. I couldn’t even count how many Mother did, though.

After running, I drank some water and caught my breath. I wish I could create water and drink it, but that is useless. The water that I drank would immediately evaporate in my system, and I’d be in an even worse condition. It’d be the same as drinking salt water to quench your thirst.

We also did some stretches to loosen up our joints and prevent cramping or tearing a muscle.

Finally, we began the training.

“Since this is your first time, Ashen, we’ll start with the basics. And the basics start with your grip. Here, this is a short sword, Try holding it out as if you are going to attack me.”

I took the sword, and held it in my hands, gripping it for dear life.

“Now, look here.” said Blue. “Your hands are stiff, holding the sword with great force. This will just tire you out, and make it hard for you to move your sword around when you need to change positions. You should hold it as so.”

Blue instructed me on how to hold the sword, the correct grip, and then we took some practice swings. After taking five practice swings, she would stop us and then teach us a different grip to use for different swords, and different scenarios. We would then practice five more swings with each grip. By the time we were four grips in, I was sure my arms would fall off.

“That’s it for today. Ashen, you can sit down and rest in the shade.”

“Oh, over already?”

“Not for you, buddy. You’re just getting started.”

I walked back over to the door where father was leaning against the door frame and spent the rest of the afternoon watching Chesney spar with Blue, while chatting casually with father.

Let me say that Chesney is strong. His bluster and bragging are real. Still., he is no match for Blue, but I have never seen such good swordsmanship outside of experts on Youtube. He’d definitely put any Hollywood stuntman to shame.

This became our daily morning routine.

1. Run around the mansion.
2. Do some stretching.
3. Practice Grips.
4. Practice Swings.
5. Practice Sparring.

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but…

After a month of this, I became rather adept.

After a half year of this, I became good.

After a year, I became solid.

But I am still no where near Blue or Chesney.

I am excited though. Being a swordsman is every boys dream. Wait, I am a girl now. Shit. Well, if Blue can do it, I should be able to too.

En Garde!


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Chapter 9 – Sword Lessons Begin

Ashen’s Age: 8 Years Old

Ashen’s Perspective

I am eight years old now.

When we had that dinner, my first dinner with the entire family, and I have to say that it went in a way that I had never imagined. I also learned that I have no talent for subtlety or deceit. As it turns out, not only did they obviously know that I was practicing magic basically the entire time, and that they had been indeed watching me, a baby, the entire time, but they also knew that I was reincarnated from the start. The only thing they didn’t know was how much of my past life I remembered.

Well, past lives I should say. The Blue Star. That is what they said I had. Apparently I have been reincarnated a dozen or so times before and I this is just the latest instance. Well not quite. The previous Blue Stars did not have any of their past memories, but they did have some latent ones which led them to do some crazy things at an early age.

But I am the odd one.

Is it because the core now has enough magic to retain them?

No. It is not that.

It is because I am not really the Blue Star.

It was Mother. Sara. Sara was the previous Blue Star. I just hijacked it, didn’t I?

Will I need to give it back some day?

Probably not. Sara never knew much magic. Instead, rather than the brainy type, she was firmly in the brawn category. What magic she did use, according to father, she used to strengthen herself as well as to create swords out of magic. Well, in fathers words, ‘She wouldn’t go anywhere without carry a sword around. But you obviously couldn’t bring one around everywhere. To school? To formal functions? So when we forced her to leave the sword at home, she came up with the magic to create a sword at will so that she would always have one at hand. We were so exasperated by that point that we just let her own thing. I mean, the girl with no magic talent suddenly pulling out a magic sword? Come on.”

Magic can be used for strengthening? Form complete magic items from pure magic as a temporary item? That gives me ideas.

I am now watching Mother train.

Blue, my current mother, that is.

It turns out that she was actually the head of a large pirate fleet that operated around the kingdom. It was so powerful that it basically controlled the ocean around the country. The Fleet, as it was called, were made up mostly from former slaves. And they didn’t just limit themselves to the sea. As they grew and got more powerful, they branched out into other areas. Prostitution, banditry, escort protection from banditry, logistic and transport over land and sea, and more. They came to effectively govern half the country!

Father was a childhood friend of hers, and he negotiated with her and the ‘The Fleet’ to integrate their organization into the Kingdom itself. They were all given pardons, and were converted to more official organizations. Many of the organizations were so well run that the country scrapped what they had, and instead used The Fleet as their core.

Policing for rural areas, for example. At first they operated like bandits, but as a way to ensure that only they had control over areas for banditry, they in turn also provided escorts for people and merchants. In time, the banditry portion of their job almost disappeared and they began escorting all the time. Now, under the country, they patrol the roads and provide escorts for a modest fee, employed by the country.

The same thing happened for the Navy. Mother, who was the head of that navy, was forced to retire as part of the agreement. The kingdom feared that if she stayed in that position, she could start a revolution, while they also feared that tearing her down would actually start said revolution. Instead, the solution father came up was marriage into the royal family, ala through him. That lucky devil. But apparently it was mutual, so there is that. Mother still meddles in Fleet affairs, though because as she puts it ‘it is so boring with nothing to do out here’. She still secretly escorts father around the country at times, though.

Mother tells me stories about her past during bedtimes.

So what does she do with all that spare time?

She trains. She fights magical beasts. She trains some more.

To get to the head of such a cutthroat organization, Mother had to be strong. She developed a fighting style called Shipboard Combat to be used in unpredictable and variable conditions.

It is strong. Oh boy is it strong. It is apparently extremely difficult to master, but if done so, will beat down all of the other schools of fighting. Amelia is also a top flight Shipboard Combat sword fighter. Father can use it some, and Mormack can use it as well.

I am still small, so I just sit in the shade, make magic and watch as Blue and her latest disciple, the son of a local knight named Chesney. He is about 17 years old and he is very good. I watch them every day, and sometimes try to imitate them, but… A world of swords and magic, and I can only use half? No fair, no fair.

“Ashen.”

Wah. I am broken from my thoughts as I look at mother’s face a few centimeter right in front of me.

“Do you want to practice with us?”

“I do. I do, but…”

“You do but…?”

“I am not strong enough, am I? Besides, girls are so much weaker than boys.”

Blue laughs.

“Oh that is only at first. The more you train, the stronger you will get naturally. That is all. Sara always used to train every day, and she became one of the strongest persons I’ve heard of. Surely you too can do so. Being female only means that you start off weaker than the boys, but that quickly passes if you begin training.”

I can be a magic swordsman after all? If so, that would be awesome.

I jump at the chance.

“Yes, I’ll do it!”

I get off the stoop and follow mother into the courtyard.

“Since you started watching, I knew you would be interested.” mother said with a gleam in her eyes. “Anyone would be interested in swordsmanship!”

“Ahem.”

“Almost anyone would be interested in swordsmanship.”

I turned around and father was standing in the doorway.

“Blue, while it is fine to begin teaching Ashen swordsmanship, she will need the necessary equipment or she may get hurt.” said Father.

“Oh that’s alright. I already have it here!.”

With that, mother pulled out a sword and a pair of gloves.

“Wah-where did you get those from!?” yelped father.

“From father in law.”

“From father… father….. grr….” said Father.

“Yes, he told me some interesting stories about various things…” smirked mother.

“Var-various things? Like what? Wait, no, I don’t want to know… that shitty old man…”

Is it alright to call the King a shitty old man?

“Anyways, here you go.” said mother as she handed the gear to me. “This was your fathers when he was a child.”

Oooh, father’s equipment. It does seem sturdy and good for royalty. Quite light too… well, father is more of the bookish type, so…

Father held back and stood just inside the doorway and observed the rest.

As a young boy about the age of 17 approached, mother looked up and then held out her arms.

“Ashen, I don’t think I have formally introduced you two yet. This is Chesney, he is the son of the local knight group captain in charge of protecting this area. Chesney, this is my daughter Ashen.”

“Good morning, Chesney. My name is Ashen.” I say.

“Ohh, quite polite isn’t she. Much different than her mother ow~.”

A fist came down upon his head.

“I mean, what a lovely young girl with a lovely young mother.”

“Better.”

“So what is with that?” He pointed to the sword. “Playing around?”

“Ashen is interested in learning swordsmanship, so I thought I’d let her train with us.”

“Train? Isn’t she about 8? She barely knows what a sword is. Don’t you think she is too young? She could hurt herself.”

“She’s fine, she’s fine, I started even younger.”

“Huh?” said both Chesney and I.

“Younger…?”

“Yes,” said Father from the doorway. “She used to be the leader of a rather rambunctious lot of us before she went on her journey.”

“Hoh, is that so, amazing.”

“Now then, let’s begin the lesson.” said mother.


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Chapter 8 – Family Council III

Ashen’s Age: 2 Years Old

Amelia’s Perspective

I told Julie, the cook, to bring the dinner at 8 o’clock, including Ashen’s meal as well. To my surprise, Julie said that her daughter would be cooking tonight’s supper, and that she was called into 7 o’clock meeting as well.

After everyone was bathed and clean, we congregated in the dining room. As Sander instructed, we would have our discussion at the dining room table, and then after our talk, we would bring Ashen in and talk with her over dinner.

Each of us pulled up a chair to the large dining table, and focused our gazes over at Sander. In turn, Sander looked at each of us in turn; Mormack, Julie, myself, and finally at Blue.

“To start with, let us go over what we know about Ashen, and the Blue Stars in general.” said Sander.

“Wait,” said Mormack, “In the first place, how do we know that Ashen is a Blue Star?”

“Um…” said Julie, “if I may ask, what is a Blue Star?”

“I will answer that question with a different question. What happens to living beings when they die?”

“Um… let’s see…” said Julie. “Their Link Core is removed, and… put into Astrania’s Tree?”

“That is a little further down the line. After all, it is not all living things to which we put their link core into the tree, but only elves, and those of good character. But there are also criminals, and magical beasts as well.”

On the word criminals, sharp gazes dug into Sander, and he paused for a moment before continuing..

“Ahem, until now that is. When someone or something dies, their Link Core remains inside their body for a short period after their death. After that period the Link Core will evaporate and will not be retrievable any longer. However, if the Link Core is removed from the body shortly before death, then the core will not evaporate and can be used for other purposes. For us elves, we will add the deceased’s core into Astrania’s Tree, which powers the great barrier and then they can live on protecting us all. For magical beasts, the core is removed to be used as magic stones to power magic tools. Because the timing of when the Link Core is highly variable, this is why parties will employ members dedicated to retrieving link cores even during fights with magical beasts.”

“What’s different about Ashen?”

“As I mentioned, normally a link core will evaporate soon after death. But the Blue Star is different. After their… host.. dies, the link core of the Blue Star will leave the body and will move to the next available host.”

“Host? What makes something a host?”

“The closest and youngest living family member.”

“You mean, like, anyone of us could?…”

“By youngest, do you mean?….”

“Well, the Blue Star will generally merge with unborn children.”

“Ah! So that’s why it….” said Blue, before stopping with a deep red blush. Sander stop blushing as well. Stupid couple.

“Ah, yeah, that is, ahem, why. Well, with Ashen, ahem, we know she is the Blue Star because we saw her get chosen.”

“Chosen?”

“Ah, yeah, that is, um… after we… um… it came flying through the window and into my.. um… tummy?” said Blue. I said stop blushing you two. Seriously.

“Well then,” Sander said, “there are some things we need to keep in mind while interacting with Ashen.”

“Keep in mind while interacting? That’s kind of cold and detached even for you, isn’t it?”

“No, no, I mean just the opposite of that. We must keep in mind that she is reincarnated. However, the question is if she remembers her past or if this is just innate knowledge. But in any case, she is still our daughter. She is still a member of this family. We should never treat her as an outsider just because she may be different than a normal child.”

“Of course she is our child. Regardless, I would feel that way. I mean, I had to carry her around for a year! Damn sure I’ll cherish her, if not just for the damn inconvenience of not being able to swing my swing-”

“We get it, Blue, we get it.”

“Now then. I think it is time, Julie, would you please bring Ashen to the table?”

Before Julie could respond, Blue chimed in. “I’ll do it”, got up and left to pick up Ashen. She returned in a minute with Ashen nestled in her arms. Somehow I feel that Blue’s demeanor has changed a bit. She seems more attached and protective of Ashen than she had previously. I wonder what triggered this change. Was it something in our conversation? Or perhaps in the bath?

“Blue, would you place Ashen in the baby chair?”

“Nupe. Not gonna happen.” said Blue, holding Ashen closer to her between her bosoms. Ooh, Ashen is blushing, something interesting is going to happen, isn’t it. What? I’m not, I am not jealous or anything. you know.

“So be it.” Sander leaned in a little bit. “Ashen, Ashen, I am your father, Sander.”

“She knows you are her father, Sander, it’s not like it is your first meeting. Then again, you don’t show your face that often, maybe she has forgotten?” said Blue, playfully.

Ignoring Blue, Sander continued. “Ashen, um… look at me. Do you understand my words?”

Ashen stared at Sander.

“Do you recognize this place, and the people around you?”

Ashen continued to stare.

“… We know that you are reincarnated. We will love you, regardless. Please, if you understand me-”

“Yes, I understand you.” said Ashen with a sound between a gasp and a sigh. When I looked around the table, with the exception of Sander and Blue, everyone wore a startled face.

“Amazing. I am glad you will be open with us. Ashen.” Sander took a deep breath and let out a relieved sigh. Tension seemed to fade from his brow while tensing his shoulders. “I am sure that there is much that you would like to know. But first, can you please tell us a bit about yourself? Do you have past memories?”

“Um…” Ashen looked around the table nervously, then finally straight up and into her mother’s eyes. She seemed to have seen reassurance there, as she then looked back at Sander with a more confident expression and continued “Yes, I do. It is just, um… yes, I do remember my past life.”

“Life? You do not remember anything before the one that came before?”

“No? Was there… no of course there would be more from before. With the circuits on the Link Core, it must have been programmed to do that. That means that mother…”

“Mother? Um… can… can you tell me the name of your mother?” said Sander. His shoulders seemed to be almost buzzing with stress. Did he sense something coming?

“My mother… My mothers name was Sara. Sara Astrania.”

I swear that I could almost hear the sound of all of the jaws dropping around the room.

“From the reaction, um… did you perhaps know my mother?”

“Well….” said Sander, “We… I…”

Blue stepped into the awkward space. “Yes, Sara was your father’s aunt.”

“She was? Well, I guess on the bright side, I have been born back into my own extended family, regardless.”

“Sara” said Sander, “Sara, do you know where she is? Is she alive? Where? But then, you…”

“My story is a bit complicated, and I have only conjecture for most of it. I died when I was in my early thirties, so I am mentally-”

“Thirties? Not even an adult before you passed?” blurted Julie.

“Huh? No, no, Thirty three is an adult. It’s almost middle age!”

“Middle age?”

“Well, I do not really know much about elves, and I am pretty sure that I was a half elf-human, and not even one from this-”

“Half human? You don’t mean that the rumors were really true about-”

“We won’t talk about that now. Let her continue.” said Sander, staring at Momarck.

“Ahem. Well. Um… In my world-”

“WHAT?!” said Sander.

“My world? In the world I grew up in, it seems that Mother was sent there accidentally. Her Link Core, um.. that is the blue thing that is inside you where magic comes from, somehow got separated from her body when that happened, and she was unable to use magic or anything. She was already pregnant with me, though and I was born over there. In that world, there is no magic, and there are only Humans, so I grew up only really thinking of myself as Human, and with no knowledge of magic or anything. I know the Elvish language because Mother and I would converse in it, cause she was bad at English. When I was in my teens, she suddenly disappeared, however.”

“She disappeared?” said Sander.

“Yes. I suspect that she was trying to fix her Link Core, and it somehow she activated the circuit that caused the transportation and she probably was sent back to this world.”

“How do you know that?”

“Well, a couple decades later, I was flying back across the country to where I grew up and I was sitting next to her old Professor-”

“Wait, flying? But you said there was no magic?”

“Yes. In that world, there is only Science and Technology.”

“Science and Technology? Like that flying thing?”

“Yes. Science is the study of the natural universe, and Technology are inventions that utilize those principles. An example of that is the aforementioned Airplane, which can fly through the sky over large distances. There are many different technologies, especially with the utilization of electricity, such as computers that can do math extremely fast, space ships that can go to the moon and back, atomic bombs that can disintegrate cities-”

“Space ships to the moon? Wait, disintegrate cities? You can’t be serious. Surely they can’t-”

“Oh yeah, completely. The early versions of them were even used to end the second world war. After that, the bombs became many, many times more powerful and no one dared to have another world war since due to fear of ending the world.”

“Ending the world… ending the world…. But… you… you can’t do that, can you? No way-”

“Create an atomic bomb? I think I can. Once the science behind it was figured out, the hard part is less in building the bomb and more being able to refine the fissile material to make them. I couldn’t make a hydrogen bomb but since I can create the materials with magic, I could probably make a bomb similar to the first ones in use. And hey, you wouldn’t even have the radiation and fall out afterward since the magical material would evaporate after detonation.”

I can literally see the gears turning inside Sanders head. I wonder if he fears he is unleashing a monster?

“Ashen. Please. Whatever you do, you must not… do not make…”

“I understand, father. I will not pursue that unless the need is dire. Though I cannot really picture what such a need would be to get that far. Trust me, I know how scary it is.”

Sander sighed as if to relieve that worry off his mind, though I could tell it was still there.

“To back track, I was flying back home to study something when I found I was sitting next to my mothers old professor. He was carrying the thing I was to be studying, as it turned out. It was the Link Core. It was found in the club room where my mother disappeared from and had been hidden until now. There were circuits carved in it, and as that was my area of expertise, I was called in. When he showed it to me, and I started examining it, I noticed an area of it that seemed incomplete. Somehow, I accidentally activated it, and it flew into my body. Then immediately after that, this girl who was behind me reached through the back of my chair, through my chest, and tried to grab it! Somehow, I don’t know how at the time, I managed to create a sword of lightning, and stabbed her through my own chest. Next thing I know, I am falling from the sky and she blows me up with a fireball. Then, I woke up covered in blood to hear my mother being congratulated on a healthy baby. Totally mind blowing experience, if I do say so.”

The room was silent.

“Um… so that is my story. Is there any?”

Blue clutched Ashen to her and began to hug her back and forth. “Oh, Ashen, it must have been horrible. Ouch, ouch, owwy. Don’t worry, I will protect you from now on.”

“I think…” said Sander, “I think that is all we need to know for now. I know you will have a lot of questions for us. For now, for the basics I will tell you this, and the rest will be taught to you during your lessons.”

“Lessons?”

“Yes, when you are twenty, you will be sent to school until you come of age.”

“That’s a long way off then, isn’t it?”

“Well, compared to Humans, Elves mature more slowly, but in turn do not fear age, and live much longer than humans do. You will see in time.”

“I wonder if it is the telomeres…”

“The what?”

“Ah, nothing.”

“Anyways. To sum it up for you, you’re name is Ashen Testarossa Astrania, the first born daughter of myself, the fourth prince Sander Ryman Astrania, and my wife Blue Testarossa Astrania, in the Elven country of Astrania.”

“Wait, that means I am a princess?”

“Well, you are far down the line for inheritance, but yes, you do have a claim. Don’t let it go to your head though.”

“Won’t, won’t. Though that will be the biggest hurdle I think I’ll have to face in getting used to things over here.”

“Being Royalty?”

“No, being a girl.”

I have no words to retort for that.

After that, we introduced the rest of the household to Ashen, and during our meal, punctuated by Blue making swishing sounds and putting food into Ashen’s mouth, we all made small talk during the rest of the meal before turning in for bed.

The thing we didn’t touch on though was this; if Ashen grew up in a world with no magic, how was she so good at it now?


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