Image source: JoakimOlofsson
Mandrake’s scribblings: Well this is the second time and it’s much worse. TWO DAMN MONTHS. This mandrake apologize for his incompetence. It got into a business venture with another person. Person looks like a decent guy and built up a solid business. But then, this person decide to become a mobster and demand a ridiculous entrance fee. Turns out his business is actually a hostile monopoly. So this mandrake has been trying to cut him off. Greedy bastard. Enjoy the chapter.
Faceless and a body like a mannequin draped in white cloth. Floating in the air with limbs twisting and turning at odd angles. All of them converge to a light source in the pitch black darkness. A lone ball of fire floats in the air. A group of six men gathered in a small area illuminated by the fireball. The spirits confronts the men, cackling at their resistance. One of the men, Wen Hou, stands boldly in front of the group. His mana flares around his arms, mimicking his anger.
Hou: “You damn spirits. Don’t play around with me!”
Hou thrusts his fist at his pursuers. His mana flashes through his knuckles, making them glow red.
Fist sized fireballs fly out from his knuckles straight through the air at high speed. One of them goes right through one of the spirits.
The spirit laughs for a split second before dispersing into vapors. The fireball continues its flight path in parallel with the other three and struck the floor in the middle of the spirits.
Yuen: “Gahak- You fool! Be careful!”
The explosion blasts dust into the air. The cloud of dust engulfs the men, obscuring their vision. Guo Yuen who calls out Hou’s mistake and braces himself while he warns the other men.
A spirit emerges from the floor with its arm wide open to grab him. Yuen is ready for that. He immediately pulses his mana through his muscles and slams his palm against the spirit’s chest.
A shockwave blasts through the spirits body blowing away the dust behind it. The spirits fly in the air and crashes, skidding a good distance away. Yuen brings his palm back to its striking position.
His second strike is just as quick. A second spirit lunges out from the floor with its hands aimed at his neck and he chops across the side of its head because its protruding nails could reach him. The spirit spins sideways in the air and lands head first on the floor.
-Ching Clink- -Boom Thoom-
Close behind Yuen is Jingyi Rong Hou. Wrapped around his arms are thick metal chains and on the other end, two spirits entangled by the chains. The chains whip around, smashing the spirits against the floor and ceiling.
Rong Hou: “HAAA!!”
He swings his chain to the side with all his strength. The chains fling the two spirits and send them crashing in the darkness beyond.
Rong Hou: “These spirits are so weak. I’m angry that I have to deal with them while looking for the magician.”
Yuen: “They are weak because we have magic. If we are just normal people, the-“
The spirits before Yuen begin to twist and convulse. Then, their bodies quickly slither like snakes into the darkness. Yuen retreats a little while making a disgusted face.
Yuen: “Accursed spirits!”
“Guo, look out!”
Yuen turns to Yun Hong Hsu’s direction and is instantly greeted with many things sliding past his feet. They are severed limbs. Convulsing and twisting like snakes. Yuen recoils in surprise as they slither past him.
Hong Hsu: “Disgusting…”
-swsh swsh swsh-
Hong Hsu steps forward, brandishing his sword at the escaping limbs. His strikes are superhumanly quick. His sword cuts the air so fast that the sound that it emits are quick and sharp like the blade itself. The floor around him is scarred with long and thin cuts, courtesy of his sword. It is obvious as to what happened. The spirits attempted to attack Hong Hsu with their limbs through the floor but were foiled by his high-speed swordplay.
Yuen: “Zheng! How are you faring?”
Yuen turns his attention towards Bao Zheng. The fireball’s light dances on his back. Zheng is silent and his front faces the rear direction of the group. He tilts his head in their direction, not wanting to break sight of the group’s rear.
Zheng: “I’m fine.”
-Shing Clink Clink-
A few of Zheng’s weapons come into view. Chinese swords, spears and polearms. They swirl around Zheng, shimmering from the fireball’s light.
Hong Hsu: “Oi, Hou! The fire is going out.”
Hou: *To use my magic like this…*
Hou storms over grumbling. He smashes his fist together and slowly brings them apart.
A fireball forms in the space between his fists. Its light is much brighter than the first one. Hou nudges the fireball upwards and it floats upwards to join its dimmer counterpart.
Rong Hou: “We need your fire to make light. Or else the spirits with overpower us.”
Hou: “I better have enough energy to fight that magician! Zhao, can’t you seal them away with your magic?”
Chen Zhao faces Hou with utter bewilderment.
Zhao: “I already tried! Walls don’t work on them! They just walk pass through!”
Rong Hou: “Everyone else seems to be able to handle them though.”
Zhao: “You all use things that are personal to you! I use this building’s concrete!”
Hong Hsu: “Ch… You are one of the strong ones too.”
Zhao: “When we find that magician, I’ll show you how strong I can get!”
Yuen: “That said, how are we going to find that magician? Ever since the lights gone out and these spirits attacked, the magician’s energy has disappeared.”
All six men look at the ceiling. In one of the floors above, their target lies in wait. Before the lights went out, they could sense the magician’s large energy with no effort. Now, the magician’s energy has disappeared and they have no way of knowing his exact location.
Rong Hou: “Let’s think for a bit. The magician’s position has not moved the entire time we came here. There’s a chance he has not moved yet.”
Hou: “So we just keep going up?”
Hong Hsu: “Okay. Let’s get going. Zhao, make use a path.”
Zhao extends his arms upwards and concentrated hard on his hands.
The concrete ceiling begins to move. Like soft clay, it peels off and descends downwards until it touches the floor. The concrete fuses to the floor making a ramp to the next floor through the ceiling.
Hou: “Let’s go! Search this floor and go up to the next.
Hou jogs up the ramp in full vigor while the other men follow suit while making an annoyed face at the chore that is to come.
White, green, red, blue, brown, purple, grey, yellow, orange, and black. Small balls of mist of these colors gathered together in a dark room. The black one speaks in Rosetta’s voice.
Rosetta: “I recall meeting more people than this… Who is present?”
The white mist chimes in.
Center: “We have Matryoshka, Amazon, Oak, Sandman, Clock, Giant, Zookeeper, and Conductor. Blizzard, Seafarer and the others are lying low.”
Matryoshka: “Do you even remember any of us?”
The red mist lashes out at Rosetta. Her spite is clear but held back. Rosetta clears his throat in response.
Rosetta: “Yes, I know all of you. More than your aliases, I assure you.”
Upon his answer, the white mist begins the meeting before anyone else can chime in.
Center: “First and foremost, I need to address the current state of affairs. The situation right now is dire.”
Vapors extend out from the white mist and forms into a large image for all to see. The image displays a diagram of Earth with multiple satellites in orbit.
Center: “The enemy organization, spear headed by Jeroth Gibson, has gained the capability to scan for mana.”
A subtle tone can be derived from her words. One born from hatred.
Giant: “They still don’t have a name?”
The purple mist voices his concern. Center decides to address it.
Center: “I reckon they don’t need it. Why attach a name to unaccounted funds of a group of countries?”
Center: “They have launched a satellite with mana detecting capability into orbit. From there the satellite is able to pinpoint the location of any person with mana anywhere in the world.”
The orange mist exclaims in alarm.
Zookeeper: “So these people can find us?!”
Center: “Fortunately, I was able to counter that with a temporary solution.”
The hovering image changes to another one. A picture of the Earth covered in auroras.
Center: “With the help of Oak and Amazon, I pumped mana into the upper atmosphere, blocking the satellite’s view. As of now, the organization can only pinpoint the location of large concentrations of mana. So any powerful magic can be detected. Be wary of that.”
Zookeeper: “Ah- So that’s why the sky is like that.”
The grey mist happily chimes in.
Amazon: “Yup, what a beautiful view! Enjoy it while it last!”
Center: “Yes… Although, I am not going to leave this as it is. The current solution is a temporary one. The layer of will only last for another three to four days before it is completely destroyed by the Sun’s radiation. I’m currently working on a spell to lock the mana in the upper atmosphere. This one will cover the entire Earth.”
Zookeeper: “Will it cause the aurora in the sky like now?”
Towards her innocent question, Center answers, her voice clearly vexed.
Center: “No, I will be converting the mana to its inert form so it will not cause the aurora in the sky anymore. Until then, restrict your use of magic and if you release large amount of mana, evacuate your region immediately.”
The brown mist speaks.
Sandman: “How long until your spell is up?”
Center: “It will take around a week. After that, everyone will be protected from detection. It is a different case for Rosetta though.”
All attention shift towards the black mist who is silent.
Center: “Rosetta’s vast reserves of mana could not be hidden by a simple cloud of mana.”
Upon her statement, Rosetta speaks out to explain his circumstances.
Rosetta: “My mana is large enough to be detected by normal mana users from a few kilometers away. Normally, this is not a problem on a world so large and the enemy agents spread few and far apart. Up till now, I have always escaped underground when they surround me as a thick layer of rock is enough to hide mana my mana and I will reappear on a different part of the world.”
Center: “So, now that they have mana detecting satellites orbiting the Earth, it is impossible for Rosetta to escape. They might not detect his mana if he is underground but they can locate him the moment he resurfaces. That’s why I propose a new tactic for Rosetta.”
Rosetta: “I will be travelling to the bottom of the ocean. Even if the ocean cannot hide my mana, they could not challenge me at that depth.”
Zookeeper: “But how are you going to continue the mission if you’re stuck on the ocean floor?”
Center: “There is a second part to this.”
Rosetta: “Proxies. I will be sending proxies to aid everyone in the mission.”
Rosetta: “Offshoots of myself. They will retain my consciousness and a fair bit of my mana. These proxies will be scattered around the world in order for me to see this trough.”
The blue mist speaks.
Conductor: “What about the final step? Transferring the person to the other world?”
Rosetta: “Regrettably, I have to conduct the spell directly with my real self. I’ll be there when everything is ready to go.”
Center: “There is nothing else planned after Rosetta escapes to the ocean and scatters his proxies. Further planning hinges on the fated… Girl..”
Center ends her sentence with an awkward pause. No one else notice except for Rosetta who is quiet. Then Matryoshka breaks the silence with an annoyed voice.
Matryoshka: “Then let’s get to the crux of the issue. The girl?”
Finally approaching a topic of interest, green mist chimes in.
Oak: “Is there a breakthrough? There’s still some issues we wish to discuss.”
Her voice is aimed towards Center who approves.
Center: “Mhm. We have a breakthrough. The girl we have been looking for. She has been found.”
There is a moment of silence as the others perk up to the new information. Amazon claps her hands together and exclaims.
Amazon: “That’s great! Have anyone made contact with her?”
Oak: “Hang on. We shouldn’t approach a young girl out of the blue. Take great care in the next step.”
Center: “Yes… The next step has to be taken with the utmost care… Mostly due to some circumstances that arose around her.”
Center: “For now, here is the new information on her.”
The floating image disappears and a photo takes its place. It shows Jiang Shuu Ren smiling while holding out a caged bird.
Center: “This is Jiang Shuu Ren.”
The first to respond is Amazon.
Amazon: “Oh! She looks so pleased!”
Zookeeper is next, but her concern is focused on the caged eagle.
Zookeeper: “That eagle is pretty upset…”
The rest follow suit.
Giant: “I-Is that Japan?”
Conductor: “I think congratulations are in order.”
Oak: “Where’s the girl?”
As the others take in the picture, Rosetta is conflicted at the sight. Having found an end to a struggle, his thoughts and feelings churns within him. One feeling finally surfaces. Humility. To this photo, this proof of the possibility of the end, Rosetta can only…
Whimper. No one catch wind of it. Except for Center who proceeded to introduce Jiang Shuu Ren.
Center: “Forty four years old. Originally from Jingdezhen in the Jiangxi province of China, she now lives in Hirosaki and has worked as a salary woman in a company for the past sixteen years.”
Giant: “So… She really has been in Japan the whole time? I live in Tokyo though.”
Center: “Yes. Clock chanced upon her in a hospital in Tokyo and I confirmed her identity through her medical records.”
Her words disturb Oak, prompting her to ask for clarification.
Oak: “What is she doing in the hospital?”
Center: “She was having a health checkup. She has enrolled in a fertility program and is pregnant with a child.”
Upon those words, Oak bursts into a flurry of questions.
Oak: “Pregnant?! Then that means her child is the fated girl?! The girl isn’t born yet?!”
Center: “Oak, calm down. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.”
Oak: “What do you mean? She is a relative of the fated girl?”
Upon her query, Center takes a deep breath before continuing.
Center: “No. We found the fated girl. The fated girl IS Jiang Shuu Ren.”
The yellow mist that has been quiet all this time finally speaks.
Center: “I’ve compared her mana profile with the mana profile we have. The result is a match percentage of over forty percent.”
Amazon: “Forty percent… Isn’t that a little low for a confirmed match? That kind of result seems to point to her being a relative of the girl.”
Center: “Mana works a little differently compared to DNA. Mana is energetic in nature and thus much more diverse in storing information of a person than DNA, which is restricted to four nucleotides. A mana profile can provide-“
A loud noise like a table being hit cuts off Center’s words. Everyone turns to the culprit, Matryoshka.
Matryoshka: “Pay attention to the time some of us have to be awake at! Get to the point!”
She strikes the table once more before turning silent. Center, who waited for her to finish, continues her explanation.
Center: “To keep things brief, mana profiles are hardly similar to each other. The most similarity between a mother and her daughter in terms of mana is when the daughter is a newborn. That similarity stretches up to thirty percent. But as the daughter grows older and deviates from the mother, that percentage drops down to around ten percent. This ten percent similarity is as far as genetics can contribute.”
Amazon: “But this is is…”
Center: “No way around it. Forty percent. The only way there is this high of a percentage is for Jiang Shuu Ren to be the fated girl.”
The reality of the development begins to sink in. Jiang Shuu Ren, a woman in her forties, is the fated girl that was supposed to be found when she was a child. Too late. Decades too late. Not wanting to give in, Amazon gleams something from Center’s explanation.
Amazon: “But you said that the percentage can reach as high as thirty percent. It’s not that far off. Maybe this is a special case, since the girl is supposed to be fated or destined.”
Center cannot answer. She has exhausted that possibility after completing hundreds of parallel testing only to receive the same result. As she struggles to find her words, Rosetta fills in for her.
Rosetta: “Sorry. That is not the case. Center has done enough to eliminate any possibility of an outlier result.”
The listlessness of his voice. Everyone know how demoralized the magician is.
Rosetta: “The mana profile of the fated girl is extracted from a lock of hair. That lock of hair was taken when the girl was an adult. So no matter how special the case is…”
His voice trails off and Center picks up his slack.
Center: “We found the fated girl and she is Jiang Shuu Ren.”
Then there is silence. No one is able to make the situation better.
Matryoshka: “Alright. I’m leaving.”
Oak: “Wha- Wait! The meeting is not finished!”
Matryoshka: “Rosetta’s final mission is screwed, right? Then there’s nothing left to do.”
And with that sound, the red mist evaporates. Her presence no longer felt around them.
Center: “Should I reach out to her and get her back?”
Rosetta: “There’s no need. Let her sleep. If there is anything that needs her attention, it can be addressed to her later. Let’s continue.”
Sandman: “Alright. So… What now, Rosetta?
Conductor: “Is your mission even possible at this point?”
Center: “Yes. When Jiang was found, Clock was sent to observe her and her daily routine to eventually get in contact with her. However, Clock had stumbled on a more complex situation that anyone could anticipate.”
Oak: “What happen? Did ‘those people’ get to her?”
Center: “No. Clock got in contact with her but Clock was confronted by two beings in close contact with Jiang.”
Zookeeper: “Beings… Something you don’t know and are not human?”
Center: “Yes. I managed to identify traces of two unique mana signature after the encounter. Turns out, during the encounter, they force their mana presence on Clock, freezing her body up. For them to overpower Clock so much that staying still is the only best action to take, these beings are exceptionally powerful.”
In response to her words, Clock clicks her tongue in anger. It is humiliating to recall that event, in the presence of others.
Zookeeper: “What other information do you have on them?”
Center: “Only one of the beings’ identity. Take a look at the picture again. For your information, Clock obtained this during the encounter. See the eagle in the picture? That’s one of them.”
Amazon: “The eagle?!”
Zookeeper: “That’s so aweso- Sorry. But it is a surprise.”
Amazon is surprised at the information. Zookeeper is ecstatic but her excitement is quickly quelled when she felt Clock’s angry glance.
Conductor: “Where is the other one?”
Center: “Most likely hidden on Jiang’s person. It is very likely it is taking the form of one of Jiang’s belongings.”
Zookeeper: “Center, you sure you can’t get any more info on them?”
Center: “My extent of knowledge about them is that they harbored massive levels of mana and could potentially use devastating magic. What’s even more impressive is that they can hide their mana. The only reason I was able to gauge it was because they unleashed it upon Clock as a show of force.”
Oak: “How much mana are you talking about?”
Center: “Though not as large as Rosetta’s, Amazon’s or mine, their mana outclass the rest multiple times.”
Zookeeper: “Wow. So, they are hostile?”
Amazon: “Or just protective. Do they know about the ‘organization’?”
Center: “That is interesting. What makes you say that?”
Amazon: “Well, it’s because of their behavior, isn’t it?”
Amazon: “They hid their mana and the eagle…”
They return their attention to the picture, their focus on the eagle in the cage. Its feathers are flaring and the bird looks like it is rearing for an attack.
Amazon: “It looks like it is on guard.”
Center: “Yes… We could even be mistaken as one of ‘them’.”
Giant: “I’m sorry, but I want to be kept away from this. I can’t stand fighting.”
Conductor: “My thoughts exactly. We should work around these beings.”
To their proposals, Center sighs.
Center: “That will be hard if not, impossible.”
Amazon: “Why? Is it because they are always in contact with her? Or… There are more of them?”
Center: “Yes. When Clock is investigating Jiang’s residence-“
Clock interrupts Center as she is explaining the events that happened. Noticing Clock’s intent to leave the events of her retreat unspoken, Center omits them.
Center: “The encounter was short but my analysis after the encounter manage to identify seven more mana signatures. All of them with a caliber similar to the first two.”
Zookeeper: “Seven?! ”
Oak: “Clock, are you alright? You’re not-”
Clock: “I’m fine.”
Oak turns to ask Clock of her condition, but Clock cuts her off with a quick answer. Amazon presses on to the main issue.
Amazon: “Are you able to identify any of them?”
Center: “Only one. A cat that is likely to be Jiang’s pet. It was the only one that directly approached Clock. The other six seem to reside in Jiang’s home.”
Amazon: “That’s not much information to go on, is it?”
Clock: “Rosetta. You have been quiet for a while now. Do you know anything?”
Realizing that he has just been listening the entire time, Rosetta chips in with his observation.
Rosetta: “… From my experience, I believe that these ‘beings’are wisps.”
Wisps. The term seems insignificant to them except for Center who exclaims out loud.
Center: “Wait- Wisps?!”
Zookeeper: “What?What? Wisps?”
Conductor: “Those are wisps? The eagle? And cat?”
Amazon: “What do you know of wisps?”
Surprised at Center’s reaction, they requested for an explanation.
Center: “Uh… From what I know, wisps are mythical beings that exist in scarce numbers even in the other world.”
Center puts together a brief explanation before questioning Rosetta.
Center: “Rosetta, how could they exist here? This world has no mana!”
Rosetta: “I don’t know. But this does not change the fact that they are gathered around Jiang Shuu Ren.”
Center: “Even I don’t even know much about wisps. What are they? What can they do?”
Rosetta: “Give me a moment. I am recalling what I know.”
The black mist becomes silent for a bit before speaking.
Rosetta: “Okay. Wisps begin… As beings made entirely out of mana. As for capability, they can produce any form of magic within their mana capacity.”
Center: “Beings made from mana… So exactly like you.”
No one responded to her observation. The true weight of the matter finally hits them. The wisps are in the same class as Rosetta.
Rosetta: “Yes. The form I have is their most basic form. So in order to create their own bodies, they take in matter to form them or just possess and take control of something. The body in turn becomes framework to house their unique magic. Their body can take the shape of anything, be it an inanimate object or a living thing.”
Amazon: “Sounds like the wisps can be masquerading as normal household items in Miss Jiang’s home.”
Conductor: “Miss Jiang is certainly living up to her title as fated girl.”
Clock: “So, what are we going to do?”
Center: “I guess ‘Try and make friendly contact with the wisps.’ is a good start. What is your suggestion, Rosetta?”
No response. Center looks at the hovering black mist.
Clock: “Our. Next. Step?”
Clock spaces out each word, displaying her displeasure of Rosetta’s inattentiveness.
Center: “My suggestion is to make friendly contact with the wisps. What is your opinion?”
Rosetta: “O-Oh… Yes, that’s a good way to start. After that should be the usual procedure. Establish contact with Jiang Shuu Ren. Persuade her to transfer to the other world. Get her to the location for interdimensional transfer and send her off. All the while, protecting her from the enemy.”
Sandman: “Where is this ‘transfer location’?”
Rosetta: “Hmm… Somewhere around the north part of the Atlantic Ocean.”
Conductor: “Looks like I am needed in getting her there.”
As they ponder their roles, the black mist retreats.
Rosetta: “Alright. I have to take my leave now. My time is up.”
Oak: “Wha- Wait! I still have some things to address!”
Rosetta: “I’m sorry. The situation on my end has become dire. I need to be there. Don’t worry, when I scatter my proxies, we can have a talk. Center, please handle this from here.”
Center: “Alright. Take care on your end.”
Rosetta: “You too. Everyone, take care. I wish you well.”
His consciousness clears up. The view from his real body becomes his main focus.
As he tries to stand up, the horns of his mask strikes the concrete ceiling.
He has forgotten about his tall form. The form that he chose to confront those who hunted him. Brushing the top of his mask, he focuses his attention to the mana around him.
Rosetta: [Xin Yi… I heard you calling me.]
He raises his hands and tiny orbs begin to glow around his hand. Like fireflies hovering around his pitch black hand.
Rosetta: [I’m sorry. You must be really tired.]
He bends forward to have a closer look at the glowing orbs. They glow meekly, barely illuminating his face.
Rosetta: [Chun Xin Yi. You have supported me this whole time. Thank you. I’ll take over from here. I will finish my mission.]
The orbs sparkles. Then suddenly the entire floor is flooded with a blinding yellow light. Rosetta feels a strong wind blowing from under him.
Cries of joy and laughter. The people that passed. Those who stayed behind to aid Xin Yi. They have passed on with bliss in their hearts. Hearing their laughter, Rosetta can feel some of the happiness brushing of him.
Rosetta: [Even among strangers, you are loved.]
The voices of the people faded and darkness returns to the floor once more. The only source of light left is the tiny glowing orbs flowing around his hand.
Rosetta: [Thank you, Xin Yi. Farewell.]
The tiny orbs disappears and the presence of the kind old woman along with it.
Rosetta: [Now. For these men.]
A pulse emits from his body. Rosetta’s attention is towards the group of men staring at him through the floor.
The floor exploded. Or rather, the floor bursts like a bubble on a water’s surface.
The concrete smashes into Rosetta’s body, wrapping around him like soft clay. In the next moment the concrete turns solid. Rosetta’s movements are restrained.
-Cssh Clink Clink-
Chains. And not only that. Swords, spears, and daggers. All of them flying at high speed at Rosetta.
The chain strikes his body heavily and wraps around him, tightening and crushing him. The weapons slash, cut and impale his body.
Rosetta grunts in surprise as a sword pierces his back and out his neck. But before he can look at the person behind him, another man lunges at his front.
The man strikes him in the head with his fist. A blast of mana erupts from his fist and into Rosetta’s head. The blast spreads outwards creating a small shockwave through the air.
Hou: “Finally found the bastard!”
Hou climbs up from the hole in the floor and balls of fire follow him, floating up and illuminating the whole area. Yuen jumps backwards and the Hong Hsu’s sword quickly withdraws, but not without twisting on its way out. The men gather around Rosetta, ready for battle.
Guo Yen: “Hold him steady!”
Rong Hou: “Focus on yourself! I can handle myself!”
Rosetta casts his gaze across the cautious bickering men.
Rosetta: “You… Are not from Gibson’s organization. But your magic…”
His voice turns deep, sending the men into a silent vigilant state.
Rosetta: “It is my stolen property.”
The concrete binding him cracks as he begins to break free.
Rosetta: “I need to right that wrong.”
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