From Here On
A needle slowly impales itself into my arm. My arm is bleeding, and it’s probably a good two or three inches in there. Given just how small I am, that’s a lot.
“You’re feeling absolutely no pain from this, right Lilith?” Brother says to me as he wriggles the needle around in my flesh.
“If I did I definitely wouldn’t be this calm. Please take it out though, I don’t want to mess this spell up by accident and feel the full pain of this…”
“That’s the point of this Lilith, so that you keep it running all the time. What about your other spell, is that still running?”
“Um… not to the accuracy I’d like, but it certainly is.”
Recently, after a bit of my earth magic training Brother decided that I should have the mana capacity to keep both of the spells I made with my Gift running permanently. That’s what we’re training here today.
Brother pulls the needle out slowly. As soon as it’s out, he waves his hand over the wound, and it closes instantly. Not completely, only to the point where the blood dried enough to stop the bleeding, but it’s still really incredible, I think.
“This spell is incredibly useful, but you need to get the other one better before you focus on this one. Living life without pain can be potentially really dangerous, but if you get that other spell working well, and working constantly there shouldn’t be any problem with it.
What I really want to do is have you both working at the same time all over your body, all the time, even when you sleep. We need to have that detection spell running well enough to be a supplement for pain before we can do that though.”
“Yes, I agree. I’ll try my best to work on it. Do you know of anything I could do to help with that?”
“Let’s see… What I’d probably recommend is shutting yourself in some quiet place, closing your eyes, and just sensing what’s going on in your body. Think of it like meditation.”
“Alright, I’ll do it every night and morning. Before I go to bed, and after I get up.”
“That should be good then. We’ll keep working on normal magic until you reach a sufficient point then.”
“So we’ll be heading out to learn more earth magic now then?”
“Yes, it’s about time you should start getting the basics down.”
“Lady Amber! This is where you were!” Yells Leah, suddenly butting in on our conversation.
“Oh, Leah! I’m super happy to see you! Is something wrong? Do you need help with anything?” I ask, legitimately happy to see her.
“Lady Amber… it’s officials from our capital. They’re here to verify your Gift. Please see them.”
We meet in the foyer of the Amber manor. Three tall men in uniforms representing the kingdom of Osnye are waiting for me. Accompanying me are Brother and Leah.
“Sirs, I’ve brought Lady Lilith. This is her brother, sir Annei Amber.” Leah says to the men.
Each one of them looks down at me inquisitively. I feel like I’m being sized up. I try my best to keep up the most stern expression and posture possible. Whether that’s the right decision or not right now, I don’t know.
“Yes, so this is Lilith…” begins the middle man, “Does she have her Gift with her?”
“Yes sir, I do.” I say, trying to remain polite. I take my Gift out and hold it out for them to see. The middle man grabs hold of it, and looks at it from every possible angle.
“A Gift of Knowledge, huh? We’ve already received your report about Lilith’s Gift, but we’d like to verify its authenticity, and there’s a bit more we’d like to know.”
“Yes sir, please, ask me any question you need.” I say. I don’t think I can rely on Brother or Leah for this. I have to appear capable, and not reliant on my caretakers.
“Alright, when did you get your Gift?”
“Only a week ago. I was poisoned, and gained it when I was close to death.” I keep constant eye contact. He seems to be unnerved, am I acting too strong for an eight year old?
“Er, r- right… um, does this look like a legitimate Gift to you?”
He holds my Gift out to the person on the left, who stares at it intently.
“Hm… Yes, it is. Not a single one of my analyzing skills is working on it. It’s legitimate.”
“Alright, we’ve confirmed that this is a legitimate Gift, but we still need to confirm that it’s hers. She’s had it for a week at this point, what spells could she show us to confirm this?”
“You see sir-”
“My younger sister doesn’t currently have any spells that warrant themselves to being able to prove they are hers.” Brother cuts me off.
“Oh, and why is that?”
“She currently only has two spells. One of which allows her to understand all of what’s happening within her body, and one that shuts off pain. You can’t prove she’s capable of the first, and you’d have to physically harm her to prove the second.”
The middle man lets out a twisted smile for a brief moment. Oh dear, I think you just made a mistake, Brother.
“If she can shut off pain, I see no issue with hurting her to confirm that it's her Gift.”
“Sir, wouldn’t it be easier just to hide her Gift? Gift holders are capable of locating their Gift no matter what, so that would make a much better test.” Leah says, trying to cover up for Brother.
“Nonsense, this will be much quicker, and much less susceptible to cheating.” The man says before grabbing my arm, and gripping hard.
He grips far harder than you ever would an arm of a child. He’s actually crushing it, but I’ve had my pain spell active this entire time so I feel nothing. I look him right in the eyes as he keeps gripping me harder and harder to get any sort of reaction from me.
“Is that it, mister? I was in the middle of training with my Gift, and if you keep holding me so tightly, I’ll never get back to it.”
He jumps back, looking pretty afraid of me. I accidentally let out a smile, so I improvise on the spot, and try to make an expression that says “that’s it?” None of these men appear to feel safe with me around them. I can’t help but find that kind of hilarious, since I am in the body of an eight year old girl.
“Give my sister’s Gift back, and never lay a finger on her again.”
“Sirs, I’m afraid that I must ask you to leave.”
Both of their words are dripping with hostility. It’s honestly kind of scaring even me. All the men look more afraid of Brother and Leah than they were of me just a second ago. Is it wrong I feel kind of jealous they’re stealing my spotlight like this?
“Er, uh, yes, we’ll leave right away…” Says the middle man, handing me Gift back.
After I grab back a hold of it, they all start walking away without a word. After they’re gone, Brother and Leah kneel down to my level, and both grab my wrists, looks of worry all over their faces.
“Sister, are you OK? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“Lady Lilith, do I need to get any medical supplies?”
I wrestle my wrist out of their grips, and start waving it around to show I’m fine. It does look awfully red though. I’m sure the second I stop using that pain spell, it’s going to hurt like hell.
“No, no, I’m fine, see? I had both of my spells up and running the whole time. You don’t need to worry about it.”
“As your older brother, I most definitely need to worry about it. Just because you couldn’t feel anything doesn’t change the fact that he just assaulted you.”
“I agree with your brother, Lady Lilith. You shouldn’t handle things like this so casually.”
“How am I supposed to handle it then? He seemed to be pretty afraid of me, and he backed off before either of you said anything.”
“Er, that is true, Lilith, but… Lilith, you know why he acted like that, right?”
“Because of my name?” I ask, even though I already know the answer is yes.
“Yes, because in wider Cralia, your name is associated with the Demon Lord Lilith. This causes many people to be afraid of you, and what you’re doing is simply justifying that fear.”
I see where Brother’s coming from, but that man clearly had it out for me. I obviously wasn’t getting out of that just by being nice. I have no way of fighting back, so scaring them off is obviously the best thing to do, right?
“What should I have done then?”
“Well, in this specific situation, you did well, but did you ever consider getting out of that another way?”
“I did after, and nothing’s come up yet.”
“That’s the problem, you’re coming to the conclusion that if someone seems to be going after you, you need to feed into their fear to protect yourself. In that specific situation, that might have been the right decision, but if you keep using fear as a first resort when you meet someone new, you’ll scare off people who up until then weren’t scared of you at all.”
“I agree with your brother. This defense mechanism of yours isn’t healthy at all. I understand why you feel like everyone is out to get you, I really do but pushing everyone away regardless of anything will keep you lonely to the day you die.”
Defense mechanism? Am I using fear as a defense mechanism? I could have sworn Rain would have noticed me doing something like that, but comparing my actions to what Rain considers a defense mechanism, it certainly fits.
Yes, there are more important things in my quest to live than just strength. If I’m unable to talk to anybody or defend myself legitimately, it will make avoiding death near impossible. I need to cultivate social skills as well, and make sure I’m able to defend myself without making anyone afraid of me.
“Alright,” I begin, “I understand. I’ll try to be more open to other people from now on.”
While I’m waiting for my sword instructor, I should definitely be reading up on this country and the world at large. We have a huge library in the mansion after all, I might as well use it.
Let’s see, according to Lilith’s basic background knowledge I currently live in the Osnye Kingdom of the Cralian Empire. The Cralian Empire works under a system that allows its provinces to remain fairly independent, with the actual Empire itself only stepping in on major issues. Something similar to the United States, except with Kingdoms, not states.
There are a total of six kingdoms, each with their own royal family that rules everything until the current Empress or Imperial council steps in. The Osnye, where the Amber family lives, then there’s Nymet south of that. We’re both the kingdoms that exist right on the border of the demons, so our culture is more geared towards war than the other kingdoms.
West of Osnye is the Pilcor Kingdom famous for its various dangerous monster species. West of Nymet is the Floala Kingdom, which rules over mostly coastal areas and various other archipelagoes. To the far west is the Umen kingdom, the farthest from the threat of demons and yet the most prejudiced against them. Then there’s the Enebris Kingdom…
The Enebris Kingdom is where the hero Lilith was born, the person Lilith was named after. It rules entirely over a large island north of the rest of Cralia, and has the most unique culture out of all the kingdoms. It’s allowed to do whatever it wants much more than the other kingdoms due to its sheer isolation. Its current queen even has six husbands, something that wouldn’t ever be allowed anywhere else.
As for our war against the demons, the war I most likely will be sent to fight, they’re a fairly fractured race. They operate under a system of mostly anarchy with not many huge communities ever really forming. Apparently they spend about as much time fighting themselves as they do Cralia, but I’m not sure how much of that is just propaganda that Lilith’s been fed.
As for why they’re a threat, whenever a strong demon comes around, it’s possible for them to muster up a fair bit of a following, community, and army, which is always dangerous. The most dangerous of these being the Ten Demon Lords, who are capable of running entire kingdoms and each as strong as armies just by themselves.
Demons are also stronger than humans, both in strength and in magic. Not to mention also being able to be given Gifts too. Each of the demon lords also apparently has a Gift of their own, and have all lived well over a century to learn how to use them.
As for why that’s important, the second demon lord is named Lilith. The second strongest demon in the entire world. That’s what everyone outside of Enebris associates the name Lilith with. In a nation that wants nothing more than the death of the entire demon race. This is obviously going to cause conflict.
Now, a story that Lilith knows of that caught Rain’s attention was the existence of the Great Abyss, and the Eternal Rapture.
Basically, both these geographic oddities exist at opposite ends of the planet. The Great Abyss is basically a giant hole in the ocean with a ring of islands around and in it. The deeper you go, the steeper the path down becomes, and the darker it gets. Apparently it’s filled with monsters beyond human comprehension that guard the way down.
The Eternal Rapture is on the exact opposite end of the planet, and instead of water flowing down, it flows up. Instead of getting darker, it gets brighter, and there are no bodies of land anywhere near it. Due to the ocean currents though, it’s extremely difficult to even get there, let alone travel up it.
What really caught my attention was some stories of sailors getting near the thing. They basically feel overwhelmed by a great joy, and a desire to climb higher so intense it drives them all crazy. More importantly though, they describe it as a bridge to the stars, a gateway to worlds never before seen.
It isn’t completely unprecedented then… other worlds, I mean. Now, even getting there is an exercise in futility, even if I do have a Gift so even if I want to look into it, things that affect me more like the current war effort and local politics are much more important.
Maybe a few years in the future, but for now I can’t. This is definitely something I want to keep in mind though.