Little Red Riding Witch
Though Lucy went back to her patrolling task, her mind had long perished the thought. Now that she knew Tempest had set her up to get used to the darkness around her, she would certainly not waste this chance.
Shadow… thought Lucy. When you think ‘shadow’, you would definitely think ‘dark’. But… what exactly is ‘darkness’?
Darkness – a concept that was present all in her childhood, but never something that Lucy, or anyone else, for that matter, would pay attention to. Because darkness itself was a state that depended on something else to define.
Darkness was just a concept to describe the lack of light. However, ‘light’ could come from many sources, from celestial bodies like the sun and the moon, to natural animals and plants that emit light, to manmade sources like fire. So, for darkness to form, there had to be light, either existing side-by-side, or happening just before it.
And it so happened that there was another light source that preceded darkness. A light source that would also immensely benefit Lucy.
“Rain?” As the sensation of the first falling droplet hit her skin, Lucy unconsciously looked up at the sky.
A crackling sound of thunder, and a flash of lightning.
At that moment, Lucy formed a smile.
Lightning – a phenomenon that was deified since ancient times, the strongest force of nature that served as the pinnacle of humanity’s development. Though humans had long tamed fire, water, and the wind, lightning was something that had always eluded humankind. It was because of its mysterious nature that there were very few lightning-based spells, and there were even fewer mages that could use them well.
This, however, did not hold true for the Mythics of old. Their natural gift of mana had granted them the ability to understand lightning. Though not in its entirety, it was sufficient. And sufficient was all that the girl needed.
“Lightning is…” Lucy mumbled, her hands and feet unconsciously moving into a fighting stance.
“Fast.” A forward jab of her arm.
“White-hot.” A stomp forward, splashing over the rain puddles around her.
“Blinding.” A spin towards the back, utilizing her momentum to deliver a heel kick.
A thunderous sound echoed, and as if following a cue, Lucy made another punch forward. Her posture was clumsy. Her grip was loose. Her balance was weak. But somehow, even in the middle of the pouring rain and flashing lightning, the girl went on with her air fighting seamlessly.
The more Lucy moved, the more in tune with nature she was. Each step was quicker to respond to the rain, each hit was faster to race with the lightning. Her mind had completely forgotten about the patrol, but there was nothing else replacing it. At that moment, Lucy’s head was completely void of thought, and the only reason for her to move was a natural call from every fiber of her being.
The training camp flared up in a blinding white light. A crackling thunder boomed through the area, sending every trainee into a panic. All eyes widened in shock, and everyone moved out of their tents as fast as they could.
However, when they reached the outside, what awaited them wasn’t a flooding rain or a howling storm. The sun was only barely out, but there were no clouds left in the sky. The earthy smell of dampened soil rushed into their noses, indicating that heavy rain was indeed present, but it had stopped long ago.
Murmurs started to spread, as few believed lightning would strike even after the rain.
“Is everyone alright?” Meliae stood out and asked out loud.
Whispers continued, but no one was particularly panicked or worried. However, Meliae did not believe that things would be that convenient.
“Dryad!” The fiery girl called out to her sister, only to find that the girl in question was still soundly sleeping on her vine hammock. “Stop sleeping!”
“zzz… huh…” only now did she regretfully open her eyes and let out a loud yawn. “What’s wrong…”
“Didn’t you have a new roommate yesterday?”
“… Did I?”
“Lucy, damn it! Did she come back to your tent?”
“Here!” Just as when Meliae was close to fuming, Lucy’s voice called out from behind. “What is it?”
“Lucy! ... Oh my goodness, what happened to you? Did you not go inside yesterday?” Meliae gasped in horror. The girl in front of her was nowhere close to her image from yesterday. Her clothes were all soaked to the bone, her hands and feet were covered in dirt, and the few leaves and branches sticking out of her hair made her head even more like a bird’s nest than it was before.
“Oh, this…” with an embarrassed laugh, Lucy answered. “I guess I was too caught in the moment.”
“In the moment? What are you—”
Meliae didn’t finish the question. By facing Lucy, she had also seen the thing behind her, and she couldn’t believe her eyes.
A large part of the trees around the camp was broken and twisted. Normally, it would only be disregarded as the inevitable result of the storm, but these ones had burn marks on their trunks, and a trace of damage strangely similar to a hole.
“Don’t tell me… that thing just now…”
“Shall we get to the warm-up test?” Lucy avoided the question and instead asked back with a confident grin.
“Uh… yeah, let’s.”
As the trainees gathered around the grounds once more, the murmurs only went further among them. And with Feall approaching, it didn’t help.
“Hey, L—” the boy could only speak the first word out of everything he meant to say, before glowing red as the sun and rapidly looking away from the innocent girl, whose clothes clung a tad too tightly to her skin after being soaked in the rain.
“Oh, Feall!” Lucy, still ignorant of his reaction, waved hello. “Ready for today’s work?”
“… Dry yourself first, girl,” Meliae, seeing the whole thing unfold, could only shake her head in disappointment as she conjured up a fire in her hand.
After a good minute, everyone was finally ready, and just in time for their instructor to appear.
“It seems like all of you are early today,” Tempest nodded with satisfaction. “Good work. Now… The usual! Twenty laps around the grounds!”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
Once again, everyone started as soon as the words were uttered, each utilizing their own strength. Even Feall, who was rough after the first week of training, had shown his growth – though still slow compared to the others, his wind enhancement had been more stable.
Out of everyone, however, there was still one person who hadn’t moved.
Tempest, seeing Lucy standing still, was amused rather than angry.
“Aren’t you going to join them?”
“In a minute,” answered the girl, whose eyes were shut tight as she raised her arm forward. “I’m trying to get into it.”
Remember that sensation you felt. That tingling feeling that ran through your head.
It was only a spark at first, but soon, crackling sounds were apparent. Lucy’s body slowly but surely glowed a white hue, made even more apparent by the darkened sky.
I’ve “observed” it, “understood” it, and now it’s time to make it my own!
The girl moved a foot forward and leaned her body along, shifting an arm behind her to ready for her sprint.
“This is my ‘magic’!” Shouted Lucy as she finally started her run. “Thunder Force!”
A thunderous boom, and a flash of lightning. Even the ground shook violently as the girl moved, sending bits of rocks and weed all over the place. A track of burned soil and grass slashed through the grounds in a matter of seconds, and before anyone else could even notice a difference, Lucy had turned back to exactly where she was, panting wildly but smiling just as aggressively.
“Done! How’s that?” Turning to the General, Lucy let out a triumphant shout.
However, her instructor was nowhere close to impressed. Lightly hitting her on the head, Tempest scolded:
“You didn’t even finish a lap! You just ran back and forth in a straight line! Start over, and do it properly this time!”
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