Chapter 1:

A Helpful Task

Satan’s Blessed Souls

My eyes snapped open, as my body immediately jerked up from the bed.Bookmark here

Cold sweat ran down my forehead as I rubbed my eyes, still stinging and sore. I took a deep sigh and stood up, looking to my hands, part of me expecting to see thick red blood. Bookmark here

Of course, it was just the same dream. Bookmark here

I clenched my fist in frustration and closed my eyes.Bookmark here

When would this bloody dream go away?Bookmark here

The rain poured down mercilessly as loud as thunder. I pulled my curtains aside, staring outside into the gloomy abyss. This dream had haunted me repeatedly ever since I was eleven. No matter how many times the same scene was shown, I couldn’t stop the shock from reaching my heart. I had no idea who the girl from my dreams was, her age, or even her appearance, besides the fact that she had long black hair.Bookmark here

Quickly dressing, I rushed down the hall to the dining room, where I’d find a meal cooked by my uncle and a note. Tossing the note aside, I devoured my breakfast, consisting of eggs and bread today. The rest of my daily routine was quite normal; I’d spend the morning studying academics and the afternoon wandering town for books and fresh groceries. Bookmark here

This was my life, the daughter of the late Duke Clemont, Sophie Clemont. Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Ever since father died from a severe illness when I was eleven years old, I’ve been sent to live with my uncle. However, my uncle quickly decided to dedicate his life to teaching me proper academia. This meant mastering the education most ladies of nobility never even have a chance to try. The kingdom of Terage, with its rigid social class, considered it to be more important for ladies of nobility to learn those that could support the houses of their husbands. Except, I already had an older sister, and my older brother, the current duke, let me off the hook for a single reason:Bookmark here

I had uncontrollable magic abilities.Bookmark here

I’m sure that’s the real reason why I was sent to live with my uncle, who has a firm grasp on magic, and also why my powers haven’t gone berserk since the day it was decided that I’d be leaving the main house. There was a part of me that wanted to go back to the life I had been left out of for the past five years but also scared of the responsibilities I’d have. Of course, eventually, I’d have to go back and fulfill my duties as the daughter of the late duke, but no one knew for sure what that role would entail yet. Bookmark here

Until today...Bookmark here

“Sophie! I’m back! And there’s a letter from your brother!”Bookmark here

I darted up from my chair, tossing my book aside and rushing to the front door to greet uncle. White hair that matched perfectly with his snowy white beard, the prodigy who chose the life of a commoner instead of a court official: Merlin Clemont. Bookmark here

“What does the letter say, Uncle Merlin?” I asked eagerly, excited to see if my brother had decided I’d go back to the main house soon.Bookmark here

Uncle Merlin sat down at the table, opening the envelope and clearing his throat.Bookmark here

“Dearest Sophie and Uncle Merlin,” he started. Bookmark here

“I’ll be short and brief. In the past few weeks, there has been a string of murders targeting noble families in the Oreane region, the region that the Clemont house has been charged with protecting and organizing for the past one-hundred years. However, I’m afraid the murders have caused several riots and unrest among its citizens. We are currently occupied with maintaining order at the capital, as the king is in poor health and still unable to announce the next successor to the throne. I’m afraid I have no choice, but to ask Sophie to go investigate the murders in the eastern part of the region. Do not worry about her safety, for I have sent my best and one of my most trusted guards to protect her. I ask that she comes alone, as Uncle Merlin coming would attract too much attention and prevent Sophie from growing. I will be sending a carriage in two days. Sincerely, Lancelot.”Bookmark here

I sat still, unable to wrap my mind around the task Lancelot had tasked me with. Nowhere, out of the blue, with minimal explanation, Lancelot wanted me to go to Oreane, and investigate a serial killer? Bookmark here

Uncle sat across from me in silence, both of us unsure how we felt about Lancelot’s sudden and dangerous request. Bookmark here

"A killer?" I finally asked.Bookmark here

Uncle Merlin folded the letter and stuffed it back into the envelope, tapping his finger on the table in deep thought.Bookmark here

"Perhaps it's about the next successor to the throne?" I asked. "There's no way they're going to let someone ascend without some riots and backstabbing. Especially if the king is sick and on death's door?" Bookmark here

Uncle nodded thoughtfully. Bookmark here

"Yes, that would indeed be a likely cause. The question is, who is the one organizing these murders? Most noble families have guards, and even so, for the murderer to get away not with one, but a whole string of them...the odds seem quite low."Bookmark here

"You're saying someone who is a noble ordered these killings?" I questioned. Bookmark here

"Yes. It depends on which noble families are being targeted, and which connections they have. But..." uncle's voice trailed off again, his eyes closed, probably pondering whether or not to agree to Lancelot's request to send me to Oreane by myself.Bookmark here

“Sophie…” Uncle Merlin finally said, releasing a heavy sigh as he handed the letter to me. “You’ve studied with me for the past five years. You’ve grasped your magic, and also became one of the most educated girls in the country. Yet, I still don’t know if I can just let myself send you off into such a dangerous situation.”Bookmark here

I stood up and looked firmly into uncle’s eyes.Bookmark here

“I’ll do it! Plus, you still have your duties as the magic teacher for several noble families! They won't take a sudden leave request like this too well!" I insisted, determined to go by myself.Bookmark here

Uncle Merlin stared at me uncertainly, finally shaking his head with a small chuckle.Bookmark here

“Angering noble families doesn't bother me. Are you sure you can handle this by yourself?"Bookmark here

I nodded, trying to shove my own doubts away as well.Bookmark here

 "I knew this day would come eventually,” he sighed, looking back into my eyes. Bookmark here

Calm, understanding, and wise. This was the uncle I had come to know and trust ever since I started living as a commoner with him. Someone who only wanted the best for me, and would do everything in his power to support me.Bookmark here

“So you’ll let me go?” I asked with a grin.Bookmark here

“You’d sneak out if I didn’t.”Bookmark here

I silently cheered in my head, trying to keep my excitement contained. This was my first mission! The first mission Lancelot was entrusting me to complete! Something no one could do except me! Bookmark here

“I won’t let you down, Uncle Merlin! I’ll complete this task successfully!” I reached across the table and gave my uncle a big hug. Surprised, he didn’t react for a moment, but wrapped his big arms around me after a moment, giving me a small pat on the back.Bookmark here

“Yes, I’m sure you’ll do great.”Bookmark here

***Bookmark here

Uncle had to leave to teach another student that morning.Bookmark here

I got up bright and early, getting myself ready to go into town.Bookmark here

Sometimes, I'd go visit Lana, the girl who lived a few streets down from our little house. Lana's mother owned a flower shop that I frequented because I couldn't grow flowers to save my life. Sadly, uncle just happens to like having flowers for our table.Bookmark here

"Lannaa!" I called out cheerfully. "Are you here~?" I asked, walking into the flower shop and taking off my hat. A head popped up from behind some pots of unknown grass as Lana quickly rushed over to me.Bookmark here

"Sophie!! It's been so long!" Bookmark here

I rolled my eyes. "It's been two days actually. How's managing the shop without your mother?"Bookmark here

"It's alright! I wish mom could come home sooner though, this sucks!" she said, sticking out a tongue at me. Bookmark here

Lana's mother had left town a few days ago to see her sister, insisting that the trip was too long for Lana to come and that she needed to stay behind to watch the shop. Lana reluctantly agreed but still couldn't handle greeting the customers while also managing sales properly. Bookmark here

"Actually, I wanted to ask you for your opinion on something..."I admitted sheepishly.Bookmark here

Lana’s smile faded off. She came over to the front of the door and suddenly grabbed my hand.Bookmark here

“Today’s the day isn’t it?”Bookmark here

“Wh-What??” Bookmark here

“You’ve...found...”Bookmark here

Lana took a deep breath and hurled me towards a chair.Bookmark here

“A cute guy that you have a crush on and you want my help!” she squealed in excitement.Bookmark here

I stumbled away from the chair and rolled my eyes.Bookmark here

“No, silly. Someone from my family is asking me to do them a favor but that would also mean leaving here,” I explained. Bookmark here

“Ehhh? That’s it?” Lana sighed and shoved me down onto the chair anyways, disappointed and having lost all interest.Bookmark here

“This is a serious matter!” I insisted.Bookmark here

Of course, she didn’t know just how serious it was. Most of the people in town didn’t know who uncle and I were, as a way to protect ourselves from possible threats and dangers.Bookmark here

“Why are you hesitant about going then?” Lana asked in confusion. “I mean, you could always come back can’t you?”Bookmark here

I shook my head. Bookmark here

“No. I might not come back after this. I’ll have to return to live with my brother and sister eventually, it’s just a matter of now or later.”Bookmark here

“Really? That sucks then,” she admitted with a frown.Bookmark here

“Sorry...” I mumbled softly.Bookmark here

“What! No, no, I know it’s not your fault,” she said with a nervous chuckle, her eyes darting away from mine.Bookmark here

I looked away too, guilty that I was technically lying to such a close friend of mine. Bookmark here

“Then you should go!”Bookmark here

I looked up in surprise at Lana’s sudden determination for me to take off.Bookmark here

“Do you want me gone or something?” I wiped my eyes and gave a little sob, but indeed a little hurt by her comment.Bookmark here

“No! I meant, well, if you’re going to have to leave sooner or later, it’s better to leave now and also accomplish the favor right?” she asked thoughtfully.Bookmark here

I nodded. “Yes, that’s very true. What about you and uncle though? Won’t you be lonely?” Bookmark here

Lana turned away and laughed.Bookmark here

“I’m getting married when mother comes back remember?”Bookmark here

Ah. Right. That was indeed the case.Bookmark here

“So, you don’t need to worry about me, Sophie.” Bookmark here

Actual tears began to form at my eyes as I got up my chair and hugged my closest friend in five years as tightly as I could, trying to stop my tears from overflowing.Bookmark here

“Promise you’ll write!” I pleaded.Bookmark here

“You too!” she snapped back.Bookmark here

And like that, we spent the rest of the day together, me reluctantly agreeing to help her with the shop, even though I was glad she asked me to stay during the last day I’d ever be in this small town. Bookmark here

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