Chapter 5:

Prelude to a Long Night

Theodora Plays to Win (With Cheat Codes)

Inside the basement was a room about the size of the shed above. Dresses hung from bars built into each of the four walls, they were frilly, expensive, vibrant ballgowns. Edith ran around the room excitedly touching each dress. A ball of light she had conjured bobbed around in the center of the room.

Theo’s eyes were drawn to a large chest hidden under the hem of a sky-blue dress. Theo bent down, opened it and gasped. There was a decent amount of gold and jewels. There was even a Mana Crystal the size of Theo’s fist or Edith’s brain, depending on how you looked at it.

“It’s mine.” Edith peered over Theo’s shoulder.

“I wasn’t planning on taking it.”

“Then you’re dumber than I thought. Hand over the gold.”

Theo slid the box over to her. She immediately took out the oddly shaped crystal and rolled it over to Theo. Theo looked at Edith in shock.

“What? Worthless trinkets should be handled by worthless people.”

Theo’s eyes narrowed. Was she being nice, or did she really not know what this was. Edith continued stuffing coins into her pockets.

“You can’t take that with you.” Theo scolded. This little idiot, I should just leave her here and continue on by myself.

“And why not? Mother likes me the best, even more than Cambria. She’d want me to have this.”

“That’s not the point. It’ll slow you down if we come across any monsters and need to run.”

“A few couldn’t hurt. We’ll need a bit of money for an inn or food.” Edith and Theo shook their heads at the same time, both of them thinking the other was the dumb one.

“Don’t slow me down, got it.”

“Same to you.” Edith jingled over to the other side of the room and let out a gasp, “It’s mine. You can’t have it.”

“What’s yours?”

“Don’t even look at it.” Theo turned over to look at Edith who was holding up a thin looking sword.

“A sword?” Edith put it down and swung her head to glare at Theo.

“It’s not just any sword, I’m pretty good at distinguishing treasure and I’d say this is Orilisium. Do you see the faint blue color of the blade? The is the strongest metal on the planet and it’s extremely conductive to Mana. This is something the Sacred Guardians would use. Not even royal mages could get their hands on something like this! There’s a large vein that stretches from Ohai to Olina. There’s a tribe called the, uh…Orsi, and they specialize In extracting the stuff in exchange for protection by the national government. It takes almost two years to forge just one of these.”

“You seem to know a lot about this.”

“Yeah. When I was little mom would tell me stories about her travels from when she was younger.”

Theo cast her eyes back to the crystal. This crystal, the sword, the gold, the dresses, just who was the person they called mother. Mana crystals were not exactly crystals per se, they were solidified mana. If a person with too much mana stayed in one spot for a really long time then a mana crystal would begin to form. A common punishment for mages was to isolate and immobilize them until a sizeable mana crystal formed then they were released depending on the crime. The color and shape of the crystal could be used to identify the mage it came from. This one resembled a seahorse. The “crystal” was made of rough clouded diamonds so it felt kind of pointy to the touch. There was a slight blue energy, the same color as the sword, swirling around inside.

How did she get a hold of all this? She always talked openly about her 2nd marriage, the one that resulted in the three demonesses, but she never said a word about anything before that. She said she was a traveler before she met their father. She stopped by this village on her way to Minowa and ran into Shylus Cower. It was love at first sight, they got married and had three, err, two beautiful, hmm, one beautiful daughter, an ugly snake, and a walking honey trap. Happily ever after, however, was not to be; a skirmish broke out between Babel and Casterly which lies in Ohai which directly borders our kingdom. Babel is the largest kingdom in Sylvania, which is also the largest country on the continent. Babel happens to share borders with Minowa and Ohai. Minowa is on friendly terms with Sylvania but Ohai is not and so our kingdom is always skirmishing with Casterly and the Ohian military. The point is Shylus didn’t return home after being drafted and sent off to fight.

Their Mother did a bunch of jobs after that ranging from handiwork to “handiwork” in order to make ends meet and along the way Theo was born, with an additional mouth to feed she began taking requests outside the surrounding villages, sometimes in the capital and sometimes in other countries. She never talked much about the work she did, at least not to Theo. It made Theo a bit jealous learning that Edith was so loved by mother that she would get bedtime stories, and got to learn more about their mother than Theo.

“What did she do? Before Dad? Do you know?” The words fell out of her mouth before she realized it.

“She was a traveler, right? So, she traveled.”

“She didn’t tell you anything else. She was married before Dad. You know anything about that?”

“She doesn’t really talk about it. All of this certainly raises some questions though. I’ll have to ask her about it.” She froze. That wasn’t going to happen, they wouldn’t be seeing any of them again.

“Let’s get some rest. We have a long night ahead of us.”

“You’re right.”

Theo emerged from the basement and undid the rope, then went back down closing the hatch behind her.  

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon