Little Red Riding Witch
For Lucy, that day was bliss.
For the first time, someone would understand her.
For the first time, someone would encourage her.
For the first time, she felt like she could do something. That all of her struggle until this point was not all for naught.
Her mind was set. She would join their battle – her fellow kin’s battle – against humanity. To regain what was lost to her. To avenge the family she had lost. She was ready to join the fray.
So, it wasn’t a surprise if the very next day, upon seeing her benefactor again, the first thing that she uttered was a pumped-up cry:
“So, what am I supposed to do?” Punching her other palm, Lucy grinned. However, her enthusiasm was soon shot down.
In front of her was a confused Dragon sitting at his desk, a Tempest with a grimace, and a snickering Aqua.
“Hold your horses there, champ,” replied the latter. “You’re nowhere near ready to go to the front lines yet.”
“What do you mean?” Lucy, confused by the situation, asked once more.
“Let me give it to you straight,” Dragon answered, rubbing his temples as if suffering from a chronic headache. “Right now, you’re a ticking time bomb.”
“But, didn’t you just say the other day…”
“That part is still true. You are our trump card. But that’s the ideal you, not the current you. Do you understand what I mean?”
“… Not really, no,” Lucy shook her head.
“In your current state, you cannot control your true form,” Tempest gestured towards the girl, still wearing the same annoyed look from the start. “Am I right?”
“My… true form? You mean…” Lucy hesitated. As excited as she was about the possibility of actually fighting for herself, she still couldn’t forget, or rather, couldn’t remember that lapse in her memories. She knew that she was not a human and that she possessed some kind of hidden strength, but no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t recall it. Everything when her power was supposedly awoken was a simple, deep abyss.
“Let’s put it this way,” the old man continued. “You said your name was Lucy, right? However, we know that you’re not really Lucy, but Cu Sith. With your current condition, you can’t control when or where you can become ‘Cu Sith’. Get it, girl? Right now, you’re still ‘Lucy’ – weak, frail, and powerless.”
“You don’t have to spell it out like that, old man…” Lucy grunted. More than anyone else, she knew how it felt to be powerless. And she would do anything to not return to those days.
“It’s the truth,” meanwhile, Tempest’s merciless words still cut deep. “And thus, we have agreed to put you under training.”
“Training? What kind of training?”
This time, it was Dragon who answered, giving her a piece of paper. “A special camp for prospective talents to join our ranks on the front lines. You’ll be spending two years there to strengthen yourself and gain new powers, before officially fighting with us.”
“Two years?” Lucy raised her voice, almost to the point of shouting out loud. “I’m stuck doing menial work for two years?”
“You either spend two years to train, or fight now and die in some ditch. Your choice, champion.”
Lucy hated the simple fact that Dragon was right. If she was thrown into the battlefield now, her chance of dying would be dangerously close to certain.
Swallowing her anger and pride, Lucy begrudgingly nodded.
“Okay, I’ll train.”
“Smart choice,” on the other side, Dragon gave a satisfied nod. “Which leads to the reason we called you today…”
It was at this moment that the commander realized a certain miscalculation on his part. Turning to his blue-haired subordinate, Dragon asked.
“Aqua, have you seen the Queen?”
“… Now that you mention it, your Highness, I haven’t,” the young man answered. “This is strange; she would always be the earliest among us to show up…”
“She was. She prepared the documents for me and made me breakfast, then excused herself for her usual morning routine,” Dragon nodded. “But it is strange for her to take this long. I wonder what happened…”
His concerns were cut short, for almost immediately after the man started talking, the door to the room creaked open, and the familiar figure of the second-in-command walked in.
“I am terribly sorry, my King,” Phoenix made a light court. “There was a certain child that needed my help, so I took longer than usual. Is everything ready for Lucy’s aptitude test?”
“Aptitude test?” Lucy, surprised at her name being mentioned, asked.
“We’re just about to explain to her, your Highness,” Aqua lightly bowed. “So you’re just in time.”
“I see. Thank goodness,” Phoenix breathed a sigh of relief and soon stepped forward to stand behind Dragon while leaving the rest to the blue-haired young man to continue.
“Now, Cu Sith… or do you prefer ‘Lucy’?”
“Lucy would be better. It might have not been my original name, but it was something that I’d lived with almost my entire life.”
“’Princess’ it is, then,” a cheeky smile coming from the young man sent Lucy almost fuming as she realized that he was just deliberately teasing her.
“Anyway,” Aqua continued. “Here’s a question for you, Princess. What do you think us Mythics are?”
“What Mythics… are?” Lucy repeated the question, unsure whether what to expect from her sudden examiner.
“Just try to guess, if you don’t have a clue.”
“I just know that you… I mean, we… aren’t human. But that’s about it.”
“Okay, that’s good enough,” the young man continued. “Now, you know that there’s a concept called ‘witch’, with Aife – or rather, the woman responsible for sending you to the outside world – being a prime example. What do you think that word means?”
“… I’m… not sure. Is it another kind of Mythic?”
“Well… ‘witch’ is a special case. Biologically speaking, they are humans. Mythics are fundamentally, biologically different from humans, like how humans are different from other animals.”
“Why would witches ally themselves with Mythics, you ask? Because while they’re humans, witches, or rather, mages, have something that also makes them fundamentally different from humans, and that is…”
“Magic, right?” Lucy guessed, expecting a correct answer. However, what she received was in fact a shake of the head.
“Correct, but at the same time, wrong. ‘Magic’ is what we Mythics use, since the ability to control the basics of magic – the world’s mana – is already within our systems. We were born with it, and we cannot learn it. On the other hand, humans don’t have the natural capability to manipulate mana like we do, but their wisdom allows them to formularize it, generalize it, and learn it – of course, with help from us. The first humans to successfully harness mana were called ‘mages’, and since then, mages have developed a systematic path of mana manipulation – magecraft, or the kind of ‘magic’ that you’re probably used to.”
“Which leads to your current situation,” Tempest continued. “You’re a peculiar case, because while you’re a Mythic, the ability to manipulate mana is essentially gone from you… or rather, it was never awoken because of the error in transporting you outside that day.”
“So, we’ve decided to train you up from scratch,” Dragon gestured. “To either attempt the unknown of wake up that dormant potential within you, or do the previously impossible of having a Mythic learning a mage’s way. Now, there is theoretically a third way of doing things, but unfortunately these guys wouldn’t let me…”
“With all due respect, my King,” Phoenix interrupted. “But I think that your methods are still too advanced for us to understand. Perhaps if you can complete the final formula…”
“Anyway, with that being said,” Dragon retorted with an interruption of his own. “That’s why we called you here. To train you, we need to first understand your latent talents. My Queen, if you will?”
“Of course,” Phoenix nodded, bringing out a red crystal ball hidden in her sleeves. Putting the ball – having turned itself colorless as soon as it left her hand - in front of Lucy, the woman continued. “Touch this crystal ball with your hand. This ball is extremely sensitive to mana activities, so a Mythic touching it will almost instantly have a reaction. That’s why it was red when I held it, but is colorless now.”
“A bit of a reference for you, Princess,” Aqua added. “The color represents the element that you’re naturally affiliated with. In her Highness’s case, being fire, the color is red. For water, it’s blue. Wind is light green. Earth is brown-orange. Lightning is yellow, and finally, shadow is black. However, there are rare cases of one having more than one affinity, which results in some weirder colors. Try it for yourself.”
“This is supposed to be the first entrance exam of the camp,” Dragon concluded. “But since everyone else has already finished theirs and entered, you’ll be doing it right here, right now.”
Without another word, Lucy reached out for the orb. In her mind, she had already had an image of what her affinity might be, and the thought scared her to no end.
What if those lapses were my power? What if the abyss is actually my only strength?
Lucy hesitantly touched the ball. And, to her fear, it had really happened.
As soon as the smooth, cold crystal made contact with her fingertips, the entire ball was dyed in a deep, dense black, thicker and darker than anything else anyone had seen before. Lucy’s heart sank to her stomach as she dreaded the result – the one thing that she wanted to not happen, but was sure that it would be the result nonetheless.
However, there was a ray of hope in the end.
“This… this is…” Dragon was the first to exclaim, practically jumping out of his seat in surprise. One must have a pair of excellent eyes to see it, but there was indeed something else deep within that abyss.
A small crackle of yellow and white, like an imminent lightning bolt trying to break itself out of the clutches of the dark thundercloud.
“Having two affinities is a rare enough feat by itself, but to think that you’d have the extremely rare case of having two opposite affinities to each other…”
“That settles it!” In the end, unable to contain his excitement, Dragon stood up and pointed at the still-confused young girl. “Your affinities are lightning and shadow! Training starts in three days!”
“Y-Yes, Sir!” Lucy, elated for finding a light within her dark future, saluted in return.
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