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The three Guaranteed Truths [Private; Victoria]

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The duties of a court magician stretched far and wide; It went from many things, from giving advice to the emperor, to giving lessons to his son about the proper way to use magic, and then there were jobs where he was used as an enforcer for the Empire's laws.

The third one was the one that Yomi liked the most, because it allowed him to indulge in his favorite little pass-time; seeing others in pain. Of course, it wasn't physical pain which was a lot more pleasant than mental and emotional pain, but it was also the most legal way to do it.

Besides, even though the people that he was forcing to give the Empire their taxes were poor enough to struggle under the tax system, the law couldn't give less of a shit so he had less people on his back about the way that he conducted himself. The fact that it gave him an excuse to cause some physical pain if people fought back certainly sweetened the deal.

Riding through the small village of Dingcun, he could see people whispering as they looked on at him, his horse looking the peak of physical fitness and himself looking.. well, almost regal. In fact, considering the fact that the haori he wore was a mark of the upper classes, he literally looked regal.

The people who whispered about him must have known why he was here, why he had chosen to pay a visit to this small town, and why he had brought an accompaniment of guards with him. This was the sign that the thing they had been so afraid of had finally come to pass.

Finally pulling up in the middle of the village square, his three guards in armor with deadly-sharp swords at their belts maintaining a close position behind him to remind the people who were looking on that he was not the kind of person to fuck with.

"Attention citizens of Dangcun, this is a message for your elders and for every last one of you who's of legal age." he called out, not bothering to get off horseback as he called out to the gathered masses. The tone that he spoke in wasn't cruel as much as it was authoritarian, clearly sure of his position in this world.

"Your Emperor demands this year's taxes. You have repeatedly refused to pay your way to this glorious Empire, despite us giving you protection from those who would seek to harm you, and us helping you keep employment. We demand you pay your dues, or we will take what you owe us without your consent."


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Victoria

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A life dedicated to traveling and learning, though exciting and fun was difficult. Not everything went the way one wanted it to and it was never completely void of danger. Victoria, however, loved traveling, the excitement, danger and adventure it brought along no matter how difficult a situation became at times. The lessons she learned from traveling around the world was enough for her to keep going.

And it was in the middle of this journey that she came across the Zou Empire. She noticed how different this country is to Balbadd. When Balbadd can most strongly be called us a small heaven on earth, Zou Empire, in her eyes, had heaven as well as hell in it. The nobles, the powerful and the rich lived a comfortable life while the poor, the weak and commoners lived with their heads down, struggling every day to survive. This reminded so much of the place she was born into. The world where the number of slaves one owned determined his power and wealth.

She sighed, taking small steps, walking around the small village of Dingcun, a place where most of the poorer people of the country resided. Her head was covered with a hooded scarf and she had her usual white dress hugging her with her staff in her right hand. She was taking note of their life in that small village, having visited the richer part of that country already.

She was pulled out of her thoughts when she heard loud whispers around her. Everyone was whispering and following their gaze, her eyes landed on a tall male riding on a very healthy looking horse. She turned and stood there, staring at him, taking note of his appearance. Silver hair, dark eyes and a look that screamed confidence and strength, she thought. Her eyes narrowed at him and then at the armored people following him.

When he started talking, she saw the look of fear crossing everyone’s pale faces. It seemed that they were well aware of what he was capable of. Nobody tried to hide it, their horror stricken face nor their look of hopelessness. What he said though was interesting. He said they gave those people protection from those who sought to harm them and yet the look in everyone’s eyes told a different story. He made it sound like they should be grateful but Victoria couldn’t find anything in their situation that they could be grateful for.


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The common peasant was an ignorant fool in Yomi's experience. By giving them local guards to protect them from bandits or wild animals, they saved a thousand lives a year, if not much more. Those were lives that kept families together, kept farms working, kept everything going according to the "greater good" as so many people had named it.

By sending life mages to this village every so often, they stopped plagues and kept people in working condition. By giving them a standardized payment amount, they were able to avoid being cheated and lived a relatively decent life with the small amount they produced.

Yet they saw the Imperials as monsters because of the fact that that service cost money, and meany of them couldn't deal with the amount of money it cost them. They were only paying what was right for the service they were given, a service they couldn't live without, and because the people in this town didn't grow enough to both feed themselves and pay to get the money to pay for the service, they went hungry because they weren't intelligent enough to grow stuff efficiently.

They were sold food at the standard rate, but they demanded lower prices because they didn't produce enough to make good money. It was their fault for running everything so damned inefficiently, something the Empire had offered to help with multiple times.

This place was run by a bunch of idiots, but when they offered to give support to a change of leadership, they were accused of trying to conquer the village so that it'd fit in more with the Imperial regime.They were expected to belong to the Imperial regime anyway, so what they thought would change when it came to that was something that greatly confused him. Did they think that with an Imperialist leader in charge they would randomly authorize mass murder?

The Imperials didn't want to randomly kill civilians, that was absurd! Even Yomi didn't want to kill anyone unnecessarily; pain was much more enjoyable than death, and pain stopped when people's lives did.

A man, clearly in his early thirties, moved out of the crowd, calling out to him. He wasn't showing the usual signs of fear that everyone else showed in this village. "We are not paying you your money, you monsters! Go back to the palace and eat your caviar!"

A wicked smile crossed Yomi's face as he pulled out his staff from its position in his saddle bag. "I'm sorry... We provide you with guards to deter bandits and animals, we give you life mages to help you survive, we give you a fair price for your crop, and you refuse to pay us because you're selfish? Do you know how many other villages suffer because you force them to pay your way as well as theirs?"

The question was a fair one, but the guy was being unreasonable. Throwing a rock at Yomi's head, he barely dodged it in time, before chuckling. He began to build up his magoi in response, black rukh flocking around his staff as a small orb formed within the wand.

"Well then, it seems that you're not only greedy and selfish, but you're actually treasonous as well. You need to be shown why laws exist in the first place!" A strong beam of light shot through the tip of the cane, emanating from the mouth of the 'snake' and slamming him back against a wall, leaving the violent man screaming in pain. That should help stop their stupidity.


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Victoria only stood to the side assessing everything around her. It was not her intention to get involved in this predicament. That would be too much of a task for her at that moment seeing she was tired and she had no energy to spend. The events took an interesting turn when some brave soul among the crowd decided to come out and speak to the white haori clad man.  

“Idiot,” Victoria whispered when the man spoke. He was picking a fight he could only lose. Victoria, even though, could understand the man, still believed he shouldn’t have spoken with that much of audacity towards a man who looked like he wouldn’t regret it even if he killed off the whole village. She had always believed in living to fight another day. It was stupid and untactful of the man.

Her eyes quickly darted towards the now smiling man as he took out his staff. A staff...which meant he could use magic like her. Now, this had amplified her interest in the man more and caught her attention. She took two steps forward, still standing out of his sight but she was now able to see things much more clearly.

By the time he finished his speech, Victoria was frowning. Was that the real truth? She looked around and found many people putting their head down in shame. Her lips formed a thin line as she stared at them from under the hood of her scarf. Now she could see it from a different point. The leaders of this village had been stupid and now most of the innocent and weaker ones were paying for it.

Her thoughts were once again interrupted when the man had thrown a stone at the direction of the magician. Once again, she stood there watching the scene unfold in front of her. The man had commanded black rukh and her grip on her staff tightened. From her studies, she had very well learnt that black rukh was nothing but trouble.  It said a lot about its user as well and she just knew that someone was going to get hurt.

“Light magic,” she said to herself when she saw the display of his powers. She just knew it was light magic. She wasn’t yet an expert in different types of magic but she had learned enough to know that this one was clearly light magic. It was a powerful magic with a strong affinity towards strength magic. When the man was slammed back into a wall, she only had her eyes focused on the magician. As people’s screams and gasps followed with some of them running towards shelter, Victoria hadn’t moved an inch, keeping her attention on the man who had black rukh fluttering all around him.


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People were running and hiding from the open display of violence against their people. Seriously, some people were so damned hypocritical. What did they expect was going to happen, that they were going to randomly get to go free without being attacked when they initiated it in the first place?
 
They threw a rock at someone they knew, or believed, could destroy this entire village as easily as snapping his fingers. He was the son of the great Tsuki lineage, he was supposedly one of the strongest mages in the entire nation, and yet these people thought they could get away with throwing a fucking rock at him? 

Dear god they were either stupid or... well, no, they were just stupid. No two ways around it. To think that they actually thought they could win something like this... his guards began to move, ready to cut down those who fled, before he called out to them once more. 

This was more reasonable than he could have been by rights, they had attacked him and yet he was still giving them a chance to be free. He loved seeing them panic, it made him feel warn inside, but he also loved being adored, and that would only come from seeming like the good guy. 

"You know who I am. I know you know who I am; I am the son of Tsuki Hime, Lord Tsuki Yomi. I am one of the court mages to his majesty, Gao Zu. I am one of the strongest mages in this entire land, and I come from the moon clan, the Tsuki lineage. 

I have the power in the palm of my hand to destroy you with my magic just like how the moon that we were born the servants of brings about the tide to dissolve the rocks. You have no hope of winning any skirmish you try and start, and all I ask is what is rightfully ours."


He might have been a lot more cruel and calculating, but he was being supervised by guards, and if he was seen to be abusing his position of power, then he might risk losing his position as a court sorcerer. That position was what kept him in money and prestige, and so he couldn't risk threatening the security of it. 

"You have stolen three years of our services, and we are only asking for this year's because we don't want you to die." After all, dead villages meant no workers and no workers meant no money; no money meant that he'd failed, and he didn't want to think about what that meant. 

"We've been paying you despite you stealing from us for the last 36 moons. Now give us what you owe, or I will burn this place to the ground as a sign of what happens when you cross the palace. "


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She sighed, finding that the situation was very quickly shifting into something she really didn’t want to be in the middle of. She contemplated leaving and not bothering with the place again but something had her rooted in her spot and that something, she realized not too long after, was the man in front of her. He had power and knowledge way beyond most and that much she had to admit though something told her that openly saying it was going to boost his already gigantic ego.

As he finished his speech, Victoria couldn’t help but be more interested. He was one of the greatest mages in Zou? That meant he could teach her a little bit. After all, the purpose of her traveling was to learn more about magic and it was just in her luck or misfortune, she wasn’t sure of which yet, that she met this man.

But from those few minutes she had known him, she had been successful in picking up a small character sketch on him. He was arrogant, cruel, cold and a manipulator. His eyes told her he loved seeing others in pain and behind his “rightful” words; she could very well see the calculating snake. But then again, not everything was how they seemed. She couldn’t completely judge him yet since no man is born cold and cruel. Situations are what changes them. She knew since she grew up from a cheerful young girl to a boring person who rarely spoke.

She shook her head and turned to leave. She would have to meet him some other time as his guards had already started their job in the village. She was stopped, however, when one of them pushed a small girl of probably seven years back towards her. She caught the girl before she could hit the ground and helped her stand on her feet.

The girl was crying and pointing towards a woman who was violently struggling in one of the guards hands. Victoria sighed, feeling some memories rush into her head. She closed her eyes for a second and walked towards them. She grabbed the man’s hand and as a look of surprise crossed him and his hands unconsciously relaxed, Victoria moved it off the woman, releasing her from his grip.

It didn’t take him much time to realize what she had done and his face flushed red with anger. He was just about ready to yell at her when she stopped him with her hands after which she took out a sack containing some money and threw it at him. He caught it but gave her an odd look before walking away. She turned towards the woman who now had her arms wrapped around her child, crying at their miserable life. It was unfair...how these people had to pay for some others’ ignorance.


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One of the guards had apparently caught a troublemaker, and, moving over to attend to that little situation, he noticed something rather weird. There was a girl who was paying the guard off not to get in her way. Now, that was something that he hadn't expected to see, but judging by her complexion and skin tone, it was also obvious that she didn't come from around these parts. 

Why someone would give money for someone who was refusing to pay their debts confused him greatly; That was another form of stealing, forcing others to pay your debts. Of course, she wasn't actually making the girl pay her debts, but there was something undeniably odd about this situation. He just couldn't put his finger on why everything was going the way it was. 

So, going over to investigate, he ended up towering over the young mage, still having not gotten off his horse. He truly struck an intimidating figure, and the remaining parts of his magic showed off his black rukh, a sign of corruption. 

The guard who walked away moved back to his horse, and went back to keeping the other members of the town at bay. Yomi took his place near the girl instead, and forced a small smile at her. 

"You know, you really didn't need to do that. We pay them more than enough money to buy their own food and if they were smart enough to actually use the land around their village to farm more crops, they wouldn't end up forcing themselves to live off of rations. They've dug themselves into a hole and they won't let us give them rope."

It was true; very few other villages had a problem like this. They always accused the Emperor's warmongering as being the cause behind their starvation, that if he didn't need taxes to pay for his army then they'd be able to pay less. However, the army that he constructed supplemented the guards of the nation. The army they were so ungrateful for kept bandits at bay... well, all but the ones that leeched from the Empire itself.

"You seem like a good girl, so I'm going to tell you this only once; They're not worth it." The way that he said this was cold, like he was warning her of her action. Not that it was illegal, but that it was a silly thing to do. Unless they changed for the better, their fate was inevitable. That was something that was unavoidable.

"Your outfit, your face, even your body shape show you not to be from the Zou Empire. I assume you're a traveler, that means you know about what it takes to support yourself and to do what it takes to survive. The only way people are able to survive is to be able to carry their own weight. Oh, other people can help but in the long run unless they're able to help themselves, they're inevitably going to fail."

This was the truth that he had learned throughout his life. They had expected him to be great as the son of the Hime family, and so whatever his accomplishments they were never quite enough to live up to his family history. Eventually he had learned that if you were going to survive in this world, you had to be able to support yourself first and foremost.

"We have given every last bit of help possible, and we've been kind and patient with them. We've even offered to help get rid of their problems for them.  Its their rank laziness that is keeping them in this position, and then they have the nerve to be ungrateful to the empire that gives them that support. 

So, now you know what this village is really like. They're a parasite, clinging onto the body of those around them. They make us levy higher taxes on other villages to manage the loss, and so other people have to pay more for them. 

Because of the help that they try and make us give them for free, we've had to put the tax up 3 million huang for the other villages. Do you know how much money that is? That's enough for a small family to live off of for five years, and these people force that debt onto other villages because they can't be bothered to do what's necessary. 

People who refuse to do what's necessary are only going to make themselves starve and die, by paying their debts for them you're only encouraging their inaction and prolonging the time until they die, thus making thousands of other people suffer. Is it worth it?"


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The sight of some black rukh and a shadow looming around her made her turn and look at the man she had been staring at not too long ago. He looked intimidating but no emotions crossed Victoria’s face. She simply kept her eyes on him as he spoke. She had patiently listened to him, seeing the just in his words but also noticing a concealed sadism in his voice.

She closed her and took off her scarf, letting her strawberry blonde hair fall out. She had hoped to leave without drawing attention but it seemed lady luck wasn’t with her since she was drawn out into the situation without her approval.

“Are you done?” her voice was soft but audible and it held no emotions just like her. “I agree to your words. In fact, no life is easy and they really should pay for what they have brought upon them themselves. But,” she paused, her green eyes fixed on his black ones. “Let me tell you that no life is worthless and look around. There are genuine people out there, women and children suffering for the ignorance of their leaders who refused your help. And your guards...” she trailed off, moving her eyes to the women and children who were handled cruelly by the people he brought along.

“Your guards look like they are taking part in a war where they are ordered to kill people ruthlessly. What I think...” she again paused, letting her gaze fall back on him. “Picking on weak is not a sign of strength or power,” she finished, turning towards the woman on ground. The guard had been pretty rough and had drawn a cut on the woman’s right arm. She handed her scarf over to her before turning to leave. She didn’t want to dig deeper into the situation than she already had. The last thing she wanted was to stop them doing their duties and gain unwanted attention.

That must have been the first time in many years that she had actually spoken other than simple words. Usually, she would have looked at him and then walked away without uttering a word, something which would mean "I don't need to justify my actions to you" and yet she spoke. Maybe it was how he reminded her of that noble she her parents were slaves to. His words...reminded her of something that he would have said. Maybe that's why she retorted so naturally like how she used to.


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This girl truly seemed to be a saint, as she stood up for the people around her, claiming that the girl was a victim of the way that her leaders run the village. That might very well be true, but there was something that this traveler didn't realize, the fact that if she was so horrifically angry about the way the leaders had run this place, surely she would have left already.

The fact that she was willing to stay meant that she was willing to carry on day after day as long as she was protected and she didn't care who had to carry the bill for that protection as long as it wasn't her. If she had cared about the country as a whole, she would have already left; Sure she would have had to dig up her entire life and move, but that was the way things were. Life wasn't going to just randomly help you.

If you're in a bad situation, the only way to get out of it is to dig yourself out of it with blood and iron, but instead she just sat still, waiting for some fucking white knight on a faithful steed to save her. that was never going to happen. 

"You want to know something? We went past their leaders to ask if they wanted to change leadership, we offered our help to any man, woman or child who wanted to see a better place for the village, but do you know what happened? 

We got attacked, we were accused of trying to start an insurrection and they began to call us snakes. Right now, this entire village is a rebel settlement, and we're not tearing it to the ground. We are offering it one last chance to redeem itself, and look at how they reacted to it. 

That man? he was not a leader of the village, he was just an every day man. The leaders of the village haven't been found yet, which most likely means they ditched this place the moment they knew this raid was up. 

You talk about how these people are suffering for their leaders, but they weren't the ones who tried to attack us. You are protecting selfish, greedy fools who are hurting other people. How can you be okay with that?"


He loved to see other people in pain, but right now... he was actually getting annoyed. That was rare, he never really got annoyed. Maybe it was how this girl was questioning everything that he did, or maybe it was her stupid bloody optimism. It was disgusting. 

"No, having control over the weak is a sign of strength and power. That's why the leaders of this village exploited the girl you helped. That's why we were being taken advantage of, because they thought we weren't going to act against them. They thought that we weren't going to use our power, and that made us next to powerless. 

You are a good person, girl, and that means that you want to do what's right. If these people wanted to do the right thing, they would have moved, or they would have assisted us by paying their dues. 

Instead, they refused, they treated us like we were monsters when we tried to help, and now they cry and sob when we protect ourselves. If we didn't do this, thousands of other people would suffer, and you think we're the ones to blame?"


Of course, he wasn't caring about how other people suffered right now. He never really cared about how other people suffered. the whole damned world made him suffer when he was younger, so if the rest of the world suffered now that he was older, then that was its just desserts.


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Victoria sighed, realizing that she was fighting a losing battle. He was going to come up with words like that and she had already spoken more than she had to. Though a part of her told her he was right. Indeed these villagers do not deserve much help but people were getting hurt and she only helped because it reminded of some of her own childhood where she had been helpless when people beat and chocked her mother, driving her to a state of almost death.

“It’s like you said. They were exploited, made to believe their so called leader’s words. They thought what they were doing was right till now. In other words, they were just fools that fell victim to lies built by others to have their control over them. If you truly care, give them time to right their wrong. It’s obvious some of them don’t really have the money to pay right now. Give them time and let them realize their mistake. They were taken advantage of and if they still refuse.....then feel free to do what you think is right.”

She had spoken again. Why she did...she wasn’t still exactly sure. “And...May I ask? Do you really care about other people suffering?” Her voice had a hidden edge to it as if she was trying to lure out the real man behind his entire “caring” front. Her expression was still the same, serene and calm. Even if the girl was angry or irritated, she didn’t show an ounce of it.

She was no saint or sinner. She simply had her own views in matter. She wasn’t going to take either side. In fact, she would have gladly left the entire situation so she could get her energy back for another day of traveling. The only thing that kept her there was her interest in his magic. It looked like he could teach her a few things but being the student of a man like him? How long would she survive without the urge to kill him?


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This was just going to go around in circles. he sighed slightly, knowing that this argument was just going to become cyclical with nobody coming out of it the winner. it was the same argument that they had had last year and the year before, only rather than doing it among themselves they were having it with this fool of a girl. 

That was the only thing he could really call her; a girl. She was foolish and naive and all sorts of things besides, so he would have to take care of her before he took care of the rest of the village.  

"You are asking me to give them time? We have given them three years. They have already proven that they can't do what you're saying they can... although, that being said.." His tone seemed to drift off as he had a brain wave. 

Calling to his guards, he brought them around him. "Take over the village, but don't destroy it. If anyone resists you, I authorize you to take them down, but don't kill them. They will earn their way through this world, just like the most compliant members of this village. Oh, and Tāo?" he asked, calling the attention of the only guard that hadn't attacked yet.

"This village is now in the grasp of martial law. Until we can report this to the palace and get a proper leader set up, I'm giving you control of the entire village. You always did have a mind for tactics, do be good to these people, will you? We have three years worth of money to get back."

Now, turning to the girl in front of him, he forced a smile. "Of course I care about people suffering." the tone was gentle and wise, as he was holding back a snicker at the flat faced lie. "After all, everyone needs to earn their way in this world. If other people suffer unnecessarily, then it'll just be harder for everyone else to get on. It's one big cycle.

But, beyond all that, I want you to know something. You interfered with an official investigation, you perverted the cause of justice when you made Kenata drop the girl. That is a punishable crime; twenty lashings in front of the town.

There are only three kinds of people who are allowed to interfere with official investigations. Royal family members, court magicians and apprentices thereof, and superior officers. You are none of the three, so think very carefully before you make your next action. It'll either prevent your punishment or ensure it. Remember that."


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He cared about people? The tone of his voice said yes, that he genuinely cared but why did she,from their earlier conversation get a hint that he was actually a hypocrite and a sadist. She wondered if she had misjudged but kept up her emotionless face. She wasn't sure how she viewed this man yet.

What he said next, however, did draw some reaction from her. Her eyes visible twitched though her expression stayed the same. She definitely didn't like him. She wanted to break his head with something but he was useful to her. He was very useful to her. Plus, his words had given her something to grab on.

She stood with her stoic face, making it seem like what he said hadn’t affected her at all. Refusing the urge to smile, she opened her mouth to say the words that left almost all the people around her, even the guards gasp in surprise.

“Make me your apprentice,” she said it, short and simple. “You said there are only three types of people who can meddle in these kinds of business. I believe Royal family members, court magicians and their apprentices as well as superior officers. Now I am not a royal family member, far from it actually, nor a court magician or a superior officer. But I can be your apprentice, can't I?” By the time she finished, she could feel the eyes of the entire audience on her.

To give him a reason to know she could very well be his apprentice, she took her staff out and held it for him to see. “I’m a mage as well. I use life magic. I believe I could become your apprentice, correct?” she finally finished waiting for his answer as everyone else started whispering. What? It wasn’t every day that they saw something like this? Was it that much of a surprise to them? She guessed it would be since the girl who had been arguing with the light magic user had suddenly requested to make her his apprentice. They probably thought she would either fight or run away. They probably never expected her to have other plans in her mind.


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Quite honestly, he couldn't quite believe what he was hearing here. Make someone that he had only known for five minutes, someone who's name he didn't even know, his apprentice? Was she insane? Yes, most likely, yes she was. Raising an eyebrow at her little proclamation, he forced himself not to outwardly laugh at her.

The fact was, he couldn't look like a major jerk right now, that would just make everything to do with this village so much more difficult. People were more compliant when they believed he was an actually good person. But he couldn't just say yes, even if she was a mage. That was flat out crazy, damned crazy! 

He actually felt a major need to let out something, so he was going to have to do something that she would have no way of interpreting... speak in the language of the Zou Empire, something she had no way of understanding. 

To this point, he had been speaking Balbaddian, a language that was well known among the majority of the world due to that nation's trading links with most countries, but since he was actively attempting to avoid translation...

"qù nǐde. Nǐ zhēn de rènwéi, wǒ shì nàme yúchǔn?" the other guards who heard him speaking like this gave him reproachful looks - They were able to speak the language fluently, and that meant that they knew exactly what he was saying and weren't exactly big fans of it. 

Still, a single 'smile' in their direction was enough to prove that they should pay attention more to what they were doing than to anything else. After all, they had a job to do and it wasn't his job to deal with them. 

If they wanted to keep being paid, they were going to have to deal with it. If they wanted to keep their jobs, they were going to have to deal with it and if they wanted to keep their heads.. well, do you see a pattern here yet? 

Not like he was going to sign off on their execution papers but if word ever got to his peers that they had acted against a superior officer, that was all it would take to get them to sign off on an execution order for the insubordinate fools.

Now that he got that out of his system,he merely smiled at her. "You are asking someone who has never seen you use magic, someone who has no reason to believe you actually have any decent amount of magical power, to entrust you with the position of apprentice just because you don't want to get whipped? 

Okay, let me tell you something very quick; The reason people get apprentices among the court mages is to acquire something that they couldn't get through other methods, or to make sure their knowledge is passed on to the next generation. 

I might be older than you, but I'm barely in my thirties. I don't need to pass on my knowledge for another two hundred years with my amount of magical power. 

So, tell me exactly, with the cost of taking on an apprentice, and the fact that life magic is one of the most common of the eight types of magic among the entire magical community, is there any major reason why I should entrust you with a position of such importance? Hell, you haven't even proved that you can do magic yet."


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This was simply a situation where she had to kill two birds with a stone. He can get his ego boosted as much as he wants if it meant she could get out of her current predicament and stick to him till she can learn what she wants to. After all that, it would depend entirely on her judgment on him whether she should stay or leave. So far, the man seemed like he would get on her nerves a lot. Now the good thing is....Victoria is patient but the bad thing is...she wasn’t sure how long she could be patient. To her, ever after her life as a slave, any type of emotion was rare. She rarely felt like laughing or crying or anything. She rarely spoke too. So when he actually spoke something in a language she cannot understand and got a hunch that it was nothing good from the look on the guards’ faces, she kept quiet with no change in expression. It was still as calm as it appeared to be through their entire conversation.

What he said next did make sense though. He indeed didn’t know anything about her just as she didn’t know much about him except that his knowledge on magic would be useful to her. If not now, then later in the future for sure, she thought. So of course, in this situation, there was nothing she could do except for showing him what she got up her sleeves. “I have been fascinated with magic for as long as I could remember. There is nothing I love more than magic and while it’s a common belief that life magic is mostly used for healing, but there are certain other things it can do as well. Something that you might already know but let me give you a small example of what I can do.”

With that said, Victoria gripped her staff tighter in her hand as white rukh started appearing as if out of nowhere. It fluttered around her much like the black rukh still visible around the silver haired man. It was a beautiful sight, one that left people awing. The black and white rukh together was simply amazing. It wasn’t a usual sight for sure. Black and white rukh together.

With a simple wave of her hand she directed some rukh towards a simple tree that was behind her, giving it life. This was what life magic was truly about. Giving life. Many mistook it for a simple healing magic and not even many life mages actually realized the full potential of the power they commanded. It made her sad.

The tree started moving, making everyone except for the few brave guards take several steps back. In a matter of seconds, it was behind her, towering over her as well as the man who was sitting high up on his horse. “Do you still have doubts on my power?” she simply asked as the tree made a growling sound behind her.


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She was going on about her love for magic? He couldn't care less, the way she prattled on was like a child counting her toys, going on about the size and pleasure of every single one of them. 

He wondered, just for a moment, how other people actually responded to this belief of hers that other people actually cared about what she had to say. It was mean of him to point this out, but he wondered whether anyone actually gave a crap about what she had to say. 

Maybe that was something to do with her traveler path; many people chose the life of a traveler, but everyone did it for their own reason. Some because they wanted the adventure, some because they couldn't dare look back out of shame for their sins, and others... well, others did it for education. 

They were always so boring when they took the beauty out of the art and just studied it like a science. Not that science was bad, just people got too bent over the how, not really caring about the beauty of the whole thing. 

As she continued to go on and on about how wonderful her type of magic was, he began wondering just how long he should wait until ordering her to get whipped. She was putting him through ear-ache, it was only right that she suffer some major pain in recompense. Maybe double the punishment for being forced to listen to her drivel.

Like he could have predicted (or, really, anyone could have predicted with basic knowledge of how the rukh work), she had pure white rukh, something that contrasted magnificently with his own pure black ones. 

Although white magoi tended to loan themselves to naive fools who still believed that being sinful was wrong, there was also something so exquisitely beautiful about them, or, at least, there was something that he found beautiful. They were like a blank canvas, something which he could paint on with his corrupting paintbrush, bringing them down into the depths of sin and depravity. 

The comparison from beginning to end was always something that he enjoyed - After all, physical pain was sweet, but psychological suffering when they realize how far they've fallen... it's nigh orgasmic. 

Although, that being said, he couldn't help but ask a single question: Why were the people around them were so enamored with the sight of the rukh? the majority of them shouldn't even be able to see them, only magi-level rukh collection was supposed to be able to be seen by goi. 

As the tree was... well, not given life, but certainly animated, Yomi's face lit up in honest amazement and delight. 
"See, now that is something new!" He exclaimed, his voice filled with almost childish delight. Sure, he might be a manipulative, evil gǒu niáng yǎng de, but that didn't stop him being able to see beauty in the world. Jaded, certainly, but blinded to beauty? Hell no. 

"So, you animated the cells of the tree to give it a basic level of sentience? But, of course, there's no higher brain activity so it's not actually sentient, it just gives the impression of sentience! That is... well, that's certainly very innovative! 

I'd love to see what your mind can come up with when given a bit of education and funding... however, I can't just randomly take you in as an apprentice after you man-handled one of my guards. If I just take you in, I'll appear too soft, and that'll cause my peers to think differently. Any ideas?"


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Victoria

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Victoria couldn’t help but raise an eye brow at the childish voice he used when the tree started moving. Yes, it indeed was something. Life magic was and would always be something. She couldn’t help but think it has a lot of potential...potential that, sadly, she hadn’t been able to figure out yet. But her journey had only begun. She had time to learn, experience and figure things out.

And then he started talking about man-handling his guards. It took her some self control to not actually groan and hit him over his head with something. Oh how she actually wanted to do just that. She held it in, closing her eyes and washing off the anger from her system. Did that man even know what he was talking about? Man-handling?

Victoria might be able to use magic but she was physically only as fit as an ordinary athletic woman. She wouldn’t have been able to “man-handle” those guards even in her dreams. In fact, they could have done worse to her. But this man was switching around the victim here. Manipulative, she added in her mental list of what this man could be.

Nevertheless, she just stood there as if nothing bothered her. He wasn’t going to crack her. She had gone through a lot to simply crack in front of someone…especially someone who reminded her of that person a lot. He wouldn’t elicit a reaction from her even if was going to do that lashing he talked about. She had lived through a lot of them once.

She shrugged when he asked for ideas. She knew he had something brewing in his head and maybe she had an idea of what it could be. But that didn’t mean she would act on it. “I have none. But you might have some?” Though she meant for it to come out as a question, she noticed right after it left her mouth, that it had actually came out in the form of a statement.


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There was something about this girl that made it clear she had no idea what the word "manhandling" actually meant. Manhandle, n, To handle roughly. That was something that she had done, something she couldn't deny she had done, although he was unaware of those thoughts that were going through her head. 

The fact that she was so willing to attack someone else when she was the one in the wrong... well, that wasn't too far away from the concept of having black rukh. It was a shame that he wasn't aware of this little internal monologue of hers, because it might just have gone a little way towards proving that she was closer to corruption than he had actually assumed upon first glance. 

Willingness to attack other people over things that re relatively minor; not a sin in itself worth the dark coloration of the rukh, but the feelings that laced the intentions... well, that was something that showed a structural weakness, like crumbling foundations to some sort of hospital. Someone who was pretending to be so strong and righteous and yet was almost as bad as he was. How hypocritical. 

As she spoke about how she didn't know what she was going to do that was worth the clear punishment, he merely shrugged. So, it was down to him... well, normally he would have enjoyed seeing her whipped, but since he was going to try and corrupt her he couldn't be outwardly vicious. He had to seduce her towards the worlds darkness, he couldn't just pull her and whipping her was going to make that difficult. 

"Yan, come over here." The man who she had manhandled earlier came over to the pair of them, waiting for his orders. "I want you to throw this young lady in the holding cells. She's going to be in them for the next two days straight, but after that I want you to bring her to the camp. You alright with that?" he nodded, and so the meeting was done, an accord reached.

[Exit Topic]


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Victoria

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Victoria shrugged as he talked about throwing her to the holding cell. She looked at Yan as he came over to her. She felt bad for those people who had to put up with him almost all the time and for once she actually smiled at the guard. It was small and quick, lasting for less than a second before she nodded at him.

“By the way, Yan, did I man-handle you?” She asked, looking at him through the corner of her eyes as she followed him. She managed to see how he tried to stop himself from laughing out loud. His eyes lit up and he bit his lips which made her unconsciously smirk as well. “Yes…that’s what I thought as well.”

She wondered how things would turn from there onwards. Something told her she was in for a long and hard struggle to not lose herself. Her eyes wandered over to the black and white rukh fluttering around. The black rukh was flying a little too close to the white ones, she took note and her eyes then darted towards the silver haired man. Yes..she was in for a long and difficult game.


(Exit)


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