Chapter 17 | The Bell Tolls
The entire city of Marrens Eve was in search of the elusive green-haired dame.
"There!" They pointed once again to Rusen.
"I told you to cut your hair," Denica joked, brushing her fingers through his locks.
"Very funny. Ha. Ha."
The air around them had picked up slightly. Denica turned to the sky, looking for a cloud or two, but there was no sign. Yet, the weather had picked up, and she could almost feel the dampness building.
"Where do you think she's gotten herself to?"
Denica had the knights search first in the most possible places Asena would've gone to which was the library, the gardens, and found in the back alleys of Marrens Eve, smithies. But not a hair was found.
"My lady! My lady!" A Ventosa knight, clad in Drakonian armor, called frantically to Denica.
The buttons to their armor were embedded with fluorites and amethysts. They wore the new design that Asena had sent only months ago.
Rusen liked how they looked in comparison to the old ones. The added gemstones were also a welcomed detail.
"You found her?" Rusen addressed the knight.
"No, sir. The young girl and her father, they've turned. We've restrained them for now, but–"
"You can only do so much."
"That's the thing, ma'am. We had to knock them out..."
Both Denica and Rusen didn't understand why the knight was anxious.
"It seemed to have made it worse."
They turned to each other before rushing back to the town hall. Rusen, impatient by the running speed of his fiance, which was, by all means, fast already, took her by the waist and lifted her completely off the ground.
Ventosa Avis was not named after the commander of the company, though his ability to fly aptly fit.
During ancient times, it was no big feat to lift yourself off the ground as an Anima. Most could fly and command the wind. When the Lighting Tree disappeared from the view of mankind, over time, man forgot the many blessings they were given.
Scientifically speaking, people stopped being born with ample mana.
In the Ignis Dukedom of Damyanov, there are at least four geniuses. To the empire and the world, these types of geniuses had a title.
Solum-Pròta, Anima-Primo, Unda-Prvi, and Ignis Primis which on all purposes was a fancy way of saying "the first of their own". In even simpler terms, they held the blood of the firsts, descendants down a very long line.
However, the Spiros blood was mixed beyond records. They were a family that didn't care about lineage, just a regular family.
"Evacuate everyone, I'll head to the room–"
She cut him off. "You don't even know where it is."
He groaned in response but receded knowing that she was right.
"Do you feel that?" She asked as she took lead.
They paused, the air was thicker in the hall. The dampness she'd felt before was also present here.
"What is it?"
"Are you telling me that the child tried to cultivate mana?"
"No." The Chief of Port met them at the stairs. "This is more like a WM3."
“A WM3?” The knight following them asked.
“World-to-Man Magic Misalignment,” Rusen informed him. “It doesn’t happen often.”
"But she was fine before." Denica reasoned, half in disbelief of herself.
"From the infection, Lady Denica."
"The infection does that?" Rusen asked while they hurriedly went up.
"It's a working theory."
"Yours?" Rusen knew the answer, but he wanted the confirmation.
A couple of healers met them at the stairs.
"Lady Asena has already gone in," both healers said in unison.
Asena felt a surge of mana burst as if it had been holding itself only for it to go out of control. She jumped through the window of her assigned room, jolting the three knights stationed.
The one-armed man, the other young knight she recognized, and a Ventosa knight.
"My lady! Where did you come from?" The one-armed one asked.
"Where's it coming from?" She ignored his question for a second but doubled back. "The roof."
He nodded, a little lost.
"You should evacuate, Lady Asena." He instead responded.
She shook her head and repeated her question.
"The shift in mana, where is it coming from?"
The knight felt the surge of mana similar to his experience.
"I'll look for it," he responded.
They busted out of the room, hurriedly. Each knight went in separate directions. The Ventosa knight ran downstairs to inform others of the little information he'd received from Asena. The two others assisted in the search for the large mana pooling around the hall.
"Here!" The older of the two knights called out.
Not waiting for instructions, he opened the door. Cold air broke through the open door. The released pressure caused the windows inside to crack. But it wasn't just cold inside. It was wet. An inch of water flooded the floor but did not seep out as water should.
Inside the room, knights drenched in water and blood were sprawled on the floor. A young girl sat in tears at one end while on the other end were healers, one Unda and the other Anima.
"Don't come in," the Anima-healer whispered to the knight.
The little girl heard this. She snapped her head when the door opened wider. The gust of wind picked up just before Asena and the one-armed knight arrived.
"What do we do, Lady Asena?"
She dialed in two gems at a time on her vambrace. It gave a crystal glow before projecting a pentagram.
"I'm going to go in. When I'm in, you'll follow and bring those two healers out of the room. Do not engage with Jojo."
"And you, my lady, what will you do?"
Asena always knew the answer. Pacify. Kill the threat. But this was different. She was different.
For the first time in her entire life, she answered, "I don't know."
But she couldn't think any further than that. Just act. Do.
Asena stepped on top of the water and took control of what the healer had been holding the entire time with a swift swish of an arm. The vambrace vibrated against her arm. The mana was heavy, but she would manage.
Though, the air around her did not help as it mimicked a tunnel.
"What is the water for!" The one-armed knight shouted at the healer as he reached her.
His voice was slightly drowned out by the pressure.
"It's not mine," she responded and pointed at one of the bodies on the floor. "I was only trying to keep it from flooding out!"
"Keep your shield up. I'll back you up!" The other knight instructed his comrade.
With her free arm, Asena pulled out a pouch from the pentagram. She picked out the large gemstone inside it and began the arduous method of infusing excess mana into the gem as she'd done before.
She wasn't confident in her current strength, but she must figure out a way to pacify the threat without killing. And there were two to deal with.
"Hurry now," the knights instructed the healers as they rushed out of the room.
The Unda-Healer hadn't felt the control of the room leave her, so she remained at the doorway.
"What are you waiting for?"
"The water will overtake her if I leave. I don't have enough mana to keep control from a far distance."
"It's fine," the knight placed a hand on her shoulder, "she has it under control already."
The healer noticed his eyes change in color.
He smiled then said, "now go. Get to safety."
She nodded and ran to the stairs with her fellow healer, a little apprehensive.
"How can we help her?" The Geminus-knight asked.
"The pressure is too much on her. She'll buckle before she finishes infusing."
"How strong is that girl's magic?"
"Stronger than I was when the infection momentarily took over me, I guess. I can try to fight back her wind, but I can't guarantee how much of a dent I'll make."
"Just try anyway. And I'll see if I can help with the water."
They inched forward with their half-baked plan.
"Don't hurt her!" Asena shouted.
Jojo took the chance to strengthen her magic while Asena was distracted. Under the immense pressure in the air, she could feel her legs buckle and her lungs struggle to breathe. She gasped, fighting for a reprieve that never took.
She gasped again. A cold rough object touched the back of her neck.
"Sorry," the knight drew in close to her ear. "You looked like you weren't breathing."
He had intended to help push, but that plan was now moot.
She was surprised by his knowledge. An Anima that can control a person's air intake was something she'd only seen twice. Once through the Second Commander and another when her brother attempted it.
Her feet could almost touch the floor as the mana she was stealing moved from feet to the stomach, to heart, and into the gem she held. The source of the mana was losing energy.
Asena looked at the body. It belonged to none other than Jojo's appa. Unlike what she'd expected, he was not completely dead. But had his magic always been water? Hadn’t it been earth?
"You told us not to harm her," the other knight spoke. "So, soon as his mana was low enough, I lulled him to sleep."
Asena smiled, forgetting that there were two infectus in the room for a moment.
"No. No. No. No. NO!" Jojo screamed as the water dried out, thinking that her father was dying.
Jojo dug her hand to the floorboards, rupturing them as she grew angrier.
"He's fine Jojo! Get the father out of here. I don't want any more deaths."
A little taken aback, the knights hesitated.
"I'll shield you," protested the one-armed knight to the other.
"Follow the order," the other knight pushed his fellow knight forward.
Asena tried to get Jojo's attention, calling her name over and over again. But Jojo was attentive. She would not let her father out of her sight. The two knights struggled to keep her magic at bay while Asena tried to straighten out her thoughts.
The emotions swirling in her mind, her heart, and her entire body were more than she could handle. That and the surge of mana that she had come in contact with all day without prior preparation was causing her to lose control.
Her eyes flickered as she tried to stay awake.
One of the knights noticed this.
"Take him, hurry. I've got the lady."
Jojo turned her attention briefly to Asena with a wide grin. Too playful, forgetting her purpose for that moment.
Asena swayed, and her eyes shut for a second. Shaking her head to wake herself up, she egged on this Jojo that was not Jojo. Taking this opportune time, the knight ran to her aid. Jojo laughed, built up mana to press down on them all even more.
The one-armed knight whisked the father out but turned back around as soon as he was sure they were out of the way.
She laughed again as a visible explosive current formed before her. Then without warning, she released the condensed mana towards Asena.
Geminus are often born with at least one of three identifying factors. One, Heterochromia. Second, two magical elements. Lastly, the ability to tap into another's magic.
The knight barely reached Asena's hand as the explosion of magic thundered through the brick walls and disintegrated the roof to nonexistence.
1. Cultivation Misalignment happens when someone either cultivates too much mana into their body without properly preparing their body or cultivating too much mana that the body becomes stressed.
2. World-to-Man Magic Misalignment (WM3) happens when a person is not compatible with the world. Their body cannot handle the constant travel of energy in the air.