Author's Notes: It's my first time at a serious Epic.
"HOW COULD YOU DO THIS!? After all I've done for you, after all I gave you! You do this to me!" Edea screamed at me. Her voice rose an octave higher.
"I didn't do this. I would never do something like this to you. What would be my reasoning? I have none. I am utterly loyal to you. You should know this." I say, trying to calm her.
Everything that came to pass within the past day has turned my Lady's world upside down. First, a brew, a healing tonic actually, for the Mayor's wife, was tipped over. Normally, if something were spilled, we would just clean it up. But this was to help with the woman's cycle, to help bear children. And the Mayor's wife, who isn't a pleasant lady to start with, has been calling almost all day. Actually, she's been asking since she ordered the tonic a month ago. But today, since the tonic was supposed to be finished, she's been calling every few hours. And it's starting to ride on Lady Edea's nerves.
Of course, that's not the only problem we have right now. Our other apprentice has gone missing. And that alone has made many turn their shrewd and watchful eyes towards my Lady Sorceress.
But to get back to the present and my very pissed off Sorceress.
"You lie! You spilt my tonic, probably murdered Rinoa and told the city that I did it!" She yells. Oh yeah, I can feel the wheels turning out that conspiracy. Okay, so one part of that statement could be a nugget of truth. I would actually love to kill Rinoa. I hate her so much! Okay, it wouldn't be a very strong hatred if she weren't so mean. She's two faced. She plays sweet to Edea, and most of the town, and then turns around and backstabs her, along with the town folk.
This whole day's events reek of her and her evil plotting.
I turn my attention back to Edea. My wise woman, my Sorceress, my witch, mentor and almost mother.
"Seifer! Damn it! I am so mad right now! I'm vibrating! Look at my hands! They're shaking! Damn it! Leave me. I want to see if I can salvage some of this tonic."
I turn and leave. I know I didn't knock the cauldron over. I was in the garden picking herbs. I heard the crash. I went running. Edea came in through the front door and saw me by the cauldron. Guilty by assumption I guess.
I'm still wondering where Rinoa took off too. I know she's not dead. She can't be dead, she's too tough of a little... um... cookie.
Seriously, I think she tipped the kettle over. She was against it from the beginning, going on about a rich brat who may end up condemning us. Uh huh, sure, it could happen in perhaps twenty years, or even longer, and if given a very good reason. But I guess one would suppose that an apprentice who seemed loving and sweet would be a reason to start hating us.
I figure since I got booted out of the house, and my chores are finished. I'll pick some apples to bake a pie with.
I walked into the orchard and began picking apples. I figured a nice pie might calm Edea; then again, I also need the oven to bake said pie. Of course, I'd deal with that later.
"Edea's still mad, isn't she?'
I stopped pulling at the apple in my hand. "How did you know she was mad? And where the fuck did you take off to?"
Rinoa. See, I knew she wasn't dead.
"I had things to do. I'm just a fledgling Sorceress right now, but still, one has to make connections in the world!" She said, clutching her hands in front of her breasts.
"You're not a sorceress yet. Right now, both of us have an inkling of power... and if Edea dies, we still don't know who'll get her powers. She hasn't decided, so for now, we're still apprentices."
"Maybe you are, but I've got more magic in my little finger than you do in your whole body right now! And one day, I'll get even more!"
That last statement really caught my attention, but outwardly, I just rolled my eyes and grabbed another apple.
"Don't you have plans for yourself Seifer? To secure your future?"
"What do you mean?" Now she had my attention. I wanted to know what plan was going through her usually airy head.
"I mean, what if... what if, someone else ends up getting Edea's powers, not one of us? What are you going to do with your life? Just do as you were? Go back to being a baker?"
I shrugged. "Why not? Powers aren't everything. I mean, if I get Edea's powers, so be it. Then I will be the next healer and protector. But if not, that's fine too. I'm not really planning for the future. Right now is what I live for."
I look over at the little raven-haired woman. Something was different. I don't know what, or how to put it, but something was different. She seemed almost evil... like she was tainted.
I put my apples in the wicker basket, run a hand through my short hair and sigh.
She blinked at me, saying, "Hmm, well, Seifer, unlike you, I am trying to secure a future for myself. I do have plans. There are other Sorceress out there... more powerful ones... less powerful ones. Could you imagine having all of those powers?"
She gets a far off dreamy look on her face, and thoughts start brewing in my mind. Maybe she was planning on getting more powers than just Edea's. There were a few lesser powered Sorceresses out there, and maybe she was hatching some kind of plot go gain from them... maybe...
"I mean Seifer, this feeling is divine! Like Hyne reached out and touched me... "
Interrupting my thoughts, which left me a bit scatterbrained, I have to scramble to catch up to what she's saying.
"I'm sorry, what is 'divine.'"
"Getting another's powers. That's what feels divine, silly!"
"So, you have someone else's powers already? I thought there was suppose to be a ceremony for that?"
Rinoa nodded happily. "I got them a day ago. And technically, you don't need the ceremony... it's just for show, but there was a little woman who was one... she died, I was there at the right time... and taa-daa!"
That last statement shocked me, but I didn't let it show. Instead, I said, "Oh, well then. Um... Congratulations."
I didn't know what else to say. I'm sure Edea wouldn't be pleased with this. I turned back to pick more apples, hoping Rinoa would take the hint and leave. She didn't.
"Seifer. You know how every Sorceress needs a Knight right? Well, when I get more powers, I want you to be mine."
Well, that stunned me. If I was drinking something, the reaction would be me spitting liquid all over, luckily, I wasn't, and thankfully, I can control most facial reactions. "Uh, I'll have to think about that. I don't think I'd make a good Knight. But, uh, I'll think about it... yeah."
Oh my Gods! My mind screamed. I need to tell Edea quickly.
"I need to be off!"
"Wait... Rinoa... why don't you tell Edea that you're okay? I mean, she has been worried about you."
Rinoa stopped under the branch of a birch tree. "I should, but I don't want her to see me with my new powers... I want her to see me when I'm powerful, like her. Not yet."
"How about a letter then?"
Rinoa tilted her head, her streaked hair falling over her delicate shoulders. She turned back and looked at me. "Yeah, a letter would do. She doesn't have to see me. That's perfect! Seifer, you're so smart!"
She pulled some bark off of the birch tree and pointed at it. A white light flew from her fingertips and hit the make-shift paper. Writing appeared. It was burnt into the bark. Being so close to Rinoa, I could feel her new magic pour off of her. And of course, if I could feel it, so could Edea.
It was a matter of seconds when the house door whipped open and Edea's voice cut into the twilight.
"Evelyn? Is that you?"
Rinoa whipped her head up. "I have to go!" and with that, she disappeared, and I was left holding the bark letter.
Edea came running out of the house towards the orchard.
"Was Evelyn here? I could feel her magic signature."
"Um, no. You felt Rinoa with, I guess Evelyn's powers. She told me to give this to you." I handed her the letter.
Edea took it and read it out loud for us.
" 'Edea, I'm okay. I've decided to go on a quest of sorts. Don't worry about me, I'm fine. Rinoa.' Seifer! Explain this!"
I sighed and told her the whole conversation between Rinoa and myself. By the end of it, my dark haired witch looked pale and ill. I wrapped my arm around her waist and walked her inside. I sat her down at the kitchen and started the little kettle for tea.
"Did you salvage any tonic?" I asked looking at the large water stain, which was drying to a dull silver color.
"Huh? Oh yeah... not all of it was tipped out."
"That's good. I'm glad. When do you have to deliver it?" I asked getting her mug down.
I heard her sigh, and then say, "She should be coming for it soon."
I nodded, and stared at her mug. 'World's best sorceress.' Cute.
"Seifer... " I turn to look at her.
"I'm sorry that I got mad at you earlier. I should have believed you."
I quickly sat down, reached for her hand and gave it a squeeze. "It's all right. This whole month has been hard on you. This tonic has had you stressed and seeing your hard work dumped onto the floor, was enough to break the Chocobo's back... so to speak. And with Rinoa's disappearance, that just added to your stress. It's okay. I know you would never have yelled at me like that normally. You don't yell."
She smiled and nodded. "Thank you for being so understanding."
I got up, made us some tea and sat back down.
"Seifer... I need, we need... " The dark-haired Sorceress sighed. I waited. "We need to go and see if Evelyn is dead. She wouldn't give her powers up willingly. We had a plan... if either of us died first we would pass our powers onto the other. If she died, I would take her powers, and eventually pass them onto yo- an apprentice that I deemed worthy. If I died, I would've given my powers to her and told her which apprentice I wanted to have them."
I blinked at her words. "Wait, she was in league with you?" I didn't make any comment of her slip of the tongue of me getting powers.
She smiled a warm smile, one of remembrance. "We were best friends. Most of the stuff we do is for her. I barely use my powers. You know that."
I pondered that statement, and then nodded after sipping my tea.
"I was thinking, there is a youth in town that would make a good apprentice to you. I don't know if there is much magic in them, but very energetic and eager to learn." I told Edea.
I caught her expression. Surprised eyebrows raised above her cup rim.
"Seifer, why are you trying to get me another apprentice?"
I shrugged. I really don't know. Edea always had two apprentices. When I was young I would see them walking, her pointing out things and them listening, asking questions. It seemed wrong for her to only have one. The other apprentices ended up 'finding their way' as she would say. Some left the world of magic to do 'normal things', unable to accept the reality of protecting and serving, others gained powers from Sorceress's or Sorcerer's long past. Some died; but never under Edea's care.
"I don't know, I've always seen you with two, and now, well you only have one, and it's weird... so maybe, I'm trying to help you. I don't know."
The small woman nodded her acceptance of this answer. "I see. But maybe this time, I'm only supposed to have one. Things happen for their own reasons but I'm babbling. We should be off to Evelyn's."
I nodded, and then said, "Wait. What about the Mayor's wife?"
I watched as her slender shoulders slumped. "Right... "
I blinked as an idea came to me. "Send me to Evelyn's. I'll look, I'll come back, tell you what I saw. Send me."
Edea pondered this, and then nodded. She lifted her arms, preparing for a spell. Her amber eyes began to glow gold. I could fee a mist surround me, I heard her speak the words. They flowed like honey.
"Away to the cottage of Evelyn,
Closest to the isle of Heaven
Cloaked in the heart of dark
Return to me when I hark."
I thought of her words, I was to be cloaked in darkness, and only she could bring me back. I felt coldness tear at me, my breath left my body and darkness enveloped me. I hate this... why couldn't I just walk through the wall like normal?
We only had to do this once before. It was for a great distance, we went from the Shumi village to Edea's house. But I don't think the Island Closest to Heaven is so far from Edea's home that this way of traveling was needed. I'm sure though, that my Lady has her reasons.
But before my body fully left the cottage, I heard the door chimes.
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