Little Red Riding Witch
“As you might already know,” Tempest stood in front of the large crowd of trainees, gesturing towards an embarrassed Lucy in front of him, “from today, we have some new recruits. One of them enters from our own Majesty, King Dragon’s recommendation, a future asset to our revolution, Cu Sith!”
While the crowd shared their enthusiasm with a thundering clap, Lucy only wished that she had a hole to hide herself from all the prying eyes. Having escaped the high when Dragon goaded her and everyone into his speech, she had come to the realization about how ridiculous this pressure and shame were dumped on her actually was. Standing next to her, however, was Feall letting out a quiet giggle, seemingly enjoying his new friend’s flustered look.
“And as for the second one, through special recommendation from the Queen herself, Feall Svikari. Everyone, please show your best support to these two talents!”
“Wait, the Queen?” Lucy was almost to the point of shouting, though her voice would surely be drowned in the applause anyway. “Feall, you never told me Phoenix recommended you!”
Now it was time for the latter to wipe his nose in embarrassment. “Well… we met by chance a few days ago, like how I met you, actually. Then, she was impressed by my showing, so she recommended me into the camp.”
“She was impressed by that spell that broke your entire body?”
“Hey, that was totally awesome! It’s just… I haven’t controlled it fully!”
“Ahem!” A feign cough from Tempest interrupted their argument, as the cloaked old man then gestured towards the crowd. “Now with that being done…”
“SQUADS!” Tempest shouted in a volume much larger than Meliae did before, rocking even the trees from afar. And replying to him at once was a united cry from the entire field:
“SIR, YES, SIR!”
“We will be conducting a test right at this moment! It both serves as a gauge for the recruits, as well as a gauge for your current abilities after one month of training! Therefore, I expect everyone to perform to the best of their current abilities! Slacking off will result in severe punishment!”
“Sir, yes, Sir!”
“Everyone, to the starting zone! Give me twenty laps around this training ground!”
“Sir, yes, Sir!”
Without another word, every single trainee made their way to the far-right corner of the area, where a white-marked line lay in wait. All except for Lucy and Feall, both of whom were still stunned from the ringing sound in their ears.
“What are you two doing? Get going!” Tempest pointed towards the crowd.
“Now?” Asked Lucy. I still have no clue on what to do or how everything worked, and now I have to run? How would any of this make sense?
A glance at her current instructor, and the only reply she received was a resounding nod. “Now.”
“But… don’t I have to learn, you know…”
“And that’s precisely the case. Now go and join the others.”
“You’ll understand when you run.”
Seemingly unable to reason with Tempest anymore, Lucy had no choice but to begrudgingly join the racetrack, where an anxious Feall and an excited Meliae was already waving at her to signal their spots.
“I didn’t realize it since I was wayyy at the back before, but you’re the new champ returning from the human realm?” As soon as Lucy made it to the starting line, the fiery girl had already asked, grinning her teeth in innocent joy. “Man, I’m pumped now! Wanna race?”
“Uh… you might be disappointed with me…” Lucy awkwardly scratched her cheek. She couldn’t possibly tell Meliae that the only magic she knew she was capable of was essentially sealed off… though, she could tell that her image was about to die after the day was over, no matter what happened.
“What? No worries! It’s just a friendly spar! There’s nothing to lose here!”
“Give it up, Sis…” sounded a gentle, almost sleepy, voice to their right. “If she doesn’t want to compete, you can’t force… zzz… her…”
As Lucy turned around, her mind was in awe as another girl around her age stood before her. However, “stood” was already stretching it, as contrary to her vibrant green hair full of life, the girl was practically dozing off, complete with her eyes closed, her mouth mumbling nonsense, and a small bubble that kept growing and shrinking from her nose.
“C’mon, Dryad, you’re no fun…” Meliae huffed, but soon turned to rage as she realized what her sister was capable of. “And stop sleeping already! You’re embarrassing us!”
No matter how hard she tried, however, Dryad still remained solid as a rock, and slept through the whole ordeal as if nobody else existed. The experience only served to fuel more into Meliae’s rage, and the chuckling on her other side didn’t help.
“Haha, that’s just how she is, Melly,” when Lucy turned around, another girl – one with a cheerful laugh like the soothing ocean waves, perfectly complimenting her hairdo with the same aesthetics – waved hello. “I wouldn’t mind a bit of competition though, Sis. Wanna bet our lunch?”
“No gambling, Nereid,” Meliae’s face soon turned to a cloudy sky, ready for thunder to strike at any moment.
“Awww, now you’re no fun.”
“By the way, where are the others?”
“Naiad and Oread? They’re further at the back,” the girl, now Nereid, gestured behind her, while her other hand pointed towards Lucy. “Our new star, I assume?”
“You guys really shouldn’t put too many expectations on me…” a nervous laugh came from the forced hero, as she stepped forward to offer a handshake. “I’m Lucy, by the way.”
“Lucy? I thought the General said you were Cu Sith?”
“Oh, I’m… more used to this one.”
Before the two sisters could comment more on anything, however, another shout from the old general from afar had reminded them of their current positions:
“Everyone! On your mark…”
“Well, better get ready!” Meliae and Nereid immediately went into a starting pose with a grin on their face, while to the side, Feall did the same but with an expression of worry. Most others had the same kind of face as Feall, save for Dryad was still sleep-standing, and Lucy, who still had little clue of what they were exactly achieving by hosting a running competition.
It didn’t take a second for Lucy to understand completely.
Wind. Fire. Water. Earth.
A cacophony of the natural elements roared and crashed onto one another as the trainees pushed forward with everything they had. The fire wielders, led by Meliae, thrusted themselves with flames on their palms and feet. While other water controllers did the same, Nereid instead rode on a giant tidal wave. The wind riders, including Feall, zipped by like raptors. The earth users blasted themselves forward with rummaging earth and rocks. After just a second, only Lucy and a sleeping Dryad remained.
“What in the…” Lucy could only exclaim in shock. But before she could compose herself, her only remaining companion started to move as well.
Still with her eyes completely closed, Dryad fell down on her back. Before she could touch the ground, however, sturdy vines sprawled out of the ground, binding themselves together into a hammock with wooden wheels just in time to catch the young fae. As soon as Dryad had settled herself, the strange vehicle started to move, carrying her along the way without a problem.
Just as things couldn’t get any worse, Lucy was soon approached by Tempest as the man rode a small cyclone to her position.
“Well?” The old man raised his brows. “Start running.”
“But… they’re all doing magic!” Lucy argued. “How can I compete?”
“Did I ever say it was a competition? This is a test.”
“That’s even worse! I can’t do any magic!”
A brief pause from Tempest, as he took a closer look at the girl his king called champion. He never dared to bring it up to the king himself, but questions had already risen within him ever since he met her.
Why her? Why this child? Does she have any latent potential that we of the Mythic Ops are missing?
He wanted to see for himself on what she was capable of, whether or not he and the rest could place their trust on her.
“Girl, how do you walk?”
“Huh?” The sudden question sent Lucy to a confusion.
“It’s just as I said. How do you walk?”
“I just… walk? What do you mean?”
“How do you walk?”
“I don’t know… Put my feet forward?”
“Okay,” a reluctant nod, “then how do you move your feet forward?”
“What are you talking about? How do I explain moving my feet forward?” At this point, Lucy had had enough with the nonsensical riddles. “I just do, okay?”
However, it was those exact words that Tempest wanted to hear.
“Exactly. You can’t explain it. You just do.”
Gesturing towards the running crowd, he continued. “For us Mythics, magic is like breathing, walking, talking. It’s not something we learn as we grow, it’s something we learned from birth. By observing and imitating others. We drill it until it becomes our instinct.”
“But… then how long is it until I can actually do it?”
“That depends on your talent, girl. So, before that, learn to not rely on magic to do things.”
Those final words struck a fear in Lucy.
“So… you mean… I have to run the twenty laps… normally?”
“Until you can use your latent potential,” nodded Tempest. “Or you end up like him.”
As the man gestured forward, the sight of a defeated Feall lying face-first on the ground caught Lucy’s attention. While the girl quickly moved to pick him up, Tempest’s final words echoed within her:
“Magic is powerful, but it isn’t the end-all-be-all. If you do not have it, then you hone your physical bodies, so when you can attain the magic you wanted, you’ll have the strength to use and bolster it to a whole new level.”
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