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 Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)

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Binding Dharc
Junior Charmer
Junior Charmer
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Posts : 300
Charmer Power : 2016
Join date : 2012-05-20
Age : 22
Location : -NA-
Favorite Charmer : Dharc
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Character sheet
Name: Hiita the Fire Charmer
HP:
350/350  (350/350)
MP:
400/400  (400/400)

PostSubject: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue May 21, 2013 2:52 pm

A story mostly about the early years of the Charmers while being trained under Mistress Doriado to become Tribute Charmers. (This will not take into account all canon knowledge of the Charmers, more this is just me having some fun with the cards.)

Chapter 1: Pilot

“Concentrate now, all of you.” Elemental Mistress Doriado spoke in a kind voice to her six students.
These six students were the youngest of the six elemental Charmer clans, but also the ones who showed the most promise, whether they knew it or not. These six students were: Hiita the Fire Charmer, Eria the Water Charmer, Wynn the Wind Charmer, Aussa the Earth Charmer, Lyna the Light Charmer, and Dharc the Dark Charmer.
At the moment, they were in the middle of their first major training lesson. As those that could become rulers of the six elements, they had to learn how to balance their power with one another in order to be able to balance the whole of their respective elements once they assume control as Tribute Charmers.
Tribute Charmer was a title given to a single member of each Charmer clan that gave them the responsibilities of keeping balance between the six elements throughout the Spirit World. And of course, they first had to balance with each other. However, as Mistress Doriado watched, she saw that the six were far from being successful.
The six Charmers-in-training were releasing their magic power to set around with the other five to make a circle divided perfectly into six sections with an equal amount of magic energy being supplied by each of them to achieve a balance; but between the six of them, two were clearly not trying to achieve this balance.
The first was Hiita. Her hot-headed nature combined with her rivalry with Eria to be the strongest of the six prompted her to supply far too much magic energy for the others to achieve a balance with. Because of this, her magic alone took up over 1/3rd of the circle. The second was Dharc, but his problem in achieving a balance was actually quite the opposite of Hiita’s.
It was not that he was trying too hard to supply magic, but that he wasn’t trying hard enough to restrain its flow. Dharc was a very secluded young boy who did not see most of the other Charmers as friends, with Lyna being the one exception.
Eria, Wynn, Aussa, and Lyna all tried to put the magic output at an acceptable level, but with the other two’s inconsistent outputs, a balance was simply asking too much.
Dharc glanced over at Lyna, who glanced back at him and silently pleaded with a lightly saddened face for him to try harder. Dharc looked over at the other Charmers and then back at Lyna, and then focused back on his magic output, decreasing it slowly.
How doing this did put his element of darkness more at balance with the other four, Hiita’s magic only overtook more of the circle due to Dharc’s taking up less. The unbalance of Hiita’s magic to everyone else’s finally caused the circle to break completely, blowing all six of them back with a shockwave.
Getting up quickly, Aussa shouted at Hiita. “Hiita, what do you think you’re doing? This isn’t a competition.” She informed Hiita.
“I know that!’ Hiita protested. “Just because you guys can’t keep up with my strength don’t blame me.” Hiita told Aussa as if it was their fault.
“Cut the crap, Hiita-”
“Aussa,” Eria cut in, keeping Aussa from becoming anymore aggravated.
“Sorry,” Aussa apologized, and turned around and began to meditate while the others tried talking to Hiita.
“And Hiita, I know how competitive you are, but like Aussa said it isn’t a competition.” Eria spoke to Hiita in a calm voice. “We’re supposed to be learning balance here. That means regulating our own magic strength to fit each others, not just expecting the others to fit your level.”
“Well what about Dharc; wasn’t he going pretty strong too?” Hiita noted, trying to take some of the heat off of herself.
“Dharc tried to match us at the end.” Lyna said hurriedly, defending Dharc.
“Just because of you,” Hiita fired back. “Dharc has only ever opened up to you because you’re his cousin. He doesn’t even trust the rest of us.” She added, looking over at Dharc.
“I’m not going to argue, it’s not like you’re wrong.” Dharc told Hiita, dusting off her look.
“See, I’m not the only one here with an attitude problem.” Hiita exclaimed.
Now it was Wynn’s turn to speak. “But at least Dharc has someone to keep him straight. When he’s going too far Lyna can help him; but with you we just make you push harder. You want to surpass us, but that isn’t what the Charmers are about at all.” She said, and everyone in the room looked over to her, blown back a bit by her words.
Despite being shy and the youngest of the group, Wynn’s words always seemed to be filled with an air of wisdom. “Wynn’s exactly right, Hiita.” Now even Mistress Doriado spoke up. “The purpose of the Charmers is to bring balance to the six elements of the Spirit World. If you become so focused on surpassing the others, how can you fulfill that basic duty?” She asked.
Being told that by the Mistress, Hiita had nothing left for a comeback, and instead stood up and turned away from the rest of them. “Alright I get it; I’ll try to dim it down a bit.” Hiita gave in, and then walked out of the classroom.
Once the door shut behind Hiita, Aussa sighed and stood up. “I’m leaving too. If anyone needs me I’ll be in the Library.” She told everyone and walked out of the room as well.
“Well I suppose that’s all for today, children.” Mistress Doriado said with a sigh. “I’ll see you all for class tomorrow morning.” She said, and with that, the rest of the Charmers stood and left the classroom, dispersing to do their own things.
Lyna however, followed after Dharc to try and talk to him about how he had acted during training. “Um, Dharc…” She started shyly, trying not to sound rude.
Dharc turned his head but didn’t stop walking. He knew what Lyna wanted to say, but just didn’t want to hear it. “What is it Lyna?” He asked despite his personal feelings.
“Dharc, I know you don’t like Eria and the others but… I want you to try and open up to them more. I know that if you did, you would like them and it would make things easier for all of us.” Lyna told Dharc while staying close to his side.
Dharc held back an annoyed sigh. This had become a bit of a routine with Lyna and him. As Hiita said before, the only one Dharc ever opened up to was Lyna, and that was only because she was the only one he ever saw as ‘family’. All of the Charmers were part of the same clan, and it wasn’t like he didn’t have any other family members, but when he looked at Lyna, he felt like she was the only one who genuinely cared for him.
Out of all the Charmers, Lyna was the only one who actively tried to get him more comfortable with the others. That persistent attitude of hers was something Dharc had admired of her since they were very young. As a result, she was the only one he ever let close to him.
“Please, Dharc. If you would just talk with them I’m sure you’d become good friends with them.” Lyna pleaded once more.
Dharc looked back at Lyna’s pleading look and stopped walking. “I… can try.” He managed to say. It was probably going to be a poor effort, but any kind of effort would be enough for Lyna.
“Thank you Dharc.” Lyna said as the two of them left the school building. “I need to go now, Milia wanted to see me about something after class today, but please go and talk with the others.” She told Dharc and then went off her own direction.

***

Hiita walked along the road back to her house with her hands behind her head while thinking about what Mistress Doriado said. “If you become so focused on surpassing the others, how can you fulfill that basic duty?” Those words burned deeply inside Hiita. It wasn’t as if she didn’t want to balance with the others, but she didn’t like the idea of being the one adjusted to.
She felt that if she was weaker than the other Charmers, that meant that no matter how much she put in the others would still have to use less to match her, and that would make her feel like she was holding them back. The only problem was that she didn’t want to feel like a burden to the others.
It was at that point someone spoke up behind Hiita. “Hiita,” The voice simply called her name, and Hiita turned around to see Eria standing there, with a slightly angered expression.
“What is it Eria; did you come here just to drown me in more lectures?” Hiita asked, annoyed since she already got the message at class.
“I’m not here to lecture you,” Eria told Hiita. “But I am going to teach you a lesson!” She proclaimed and held up her magic staff in challenge to Hiita.
Surprised at first, it took Hiita a moment to react. But once she had understood the challenge, she grinned and held up her own staff. “Fine then,” She said and charged an orb of magic fire with her staff and shot it at Eria, who did the same with a magic orb of water and the two spells struck and canceled each other out.

***

As Aussa had told the others, she was now in the Charmer’s History Library. The truly expansive Library was full of everything about everything you could ask about the Charmers and their role throughout the history of the Spirit World. Aussa wanted to learn as much of what was in this ground-shaking amount of knowledge as possible.
Aussa may have known more about magic then even most of the elder Charmers of the clan, and could probably be stronger than either Hiita or Eria if she only practiced using the spells as much as she studied them.
Just then, Wynn came up to the table Aussa was sitting at and she looked up at her. “Are you alright, Aussa?” Wynn asked, making sure she had calmed down after she lost her temper during class.
Aussa sighed but continued reading as she replied. “Yeah, I’m sorry about that.” She told Wynn. In truth, Aussa was a very calm person most of the time, but she had a very unstable temper. Sometimes all it took was something small to trigger an outburst of anger from her. The only consolation was that it was normally just as easy to make her subside with just a word.
“That’s good,” Wynn said. “Even if Hiita is a little reckless sometimes, I know deep down she cares about us and the Charmers, she just comes on a bit strong.”
“I know, but this time her actions were affecting all of us, she needs to see she’s part of something bigger than herself.” Aussa stated, only half speaking to Wynn.
Aussa did not actually care for conversation much because – although to a lesser degree than Dharc – she also secluded herself from the group. Unlike Dharc, who simply did not trust any one of them, Aussa simply preferred time to herself. She wouldn’t ignore the other Charmers, but she wouldn’t be the one to start a conversation with them either.
“Well, try not to be too harsh on her when you see her again, okay?”
“Don’t worry about it Wynn, I’ll be fine.” Aussa told her, all the while not looking away from her book.
“Thank you, I’ll see you tomorrow then.” Wynn said and left the Library, leaving Aussa with peace and quiet to read her books.

***

It was only 5 minutes into their match, but Eria and Hiita were already noticeably worn down simply due to excessively using up their magic. Despite that, so far nothing had occurred but their magic canceling the others out.
“Not yet,” Hiita told herself and charged another fire attack, and in response Eria charged her water magic.
Then, almost at the same time, they both unleashed beams of their magical energy, and the lasers clashed in stalemate between them. For a moment nothing else occurred, it was just the two magic powers pushing against each other without either budging an inch.
Gradually, the two young Charmers supplied more and more of their magic to strengthen their beam, but still it pushed in neither one’s favor. After another moment, Hiita could simply supply no more power than she was giving, and apparently neither could Eria. But then suddenly the two beams canceled each other out and both of them flew back to the ground.
“Damn it!” Hiita cursed and sat up, even burning all her fuel, she still couldn’t beat Eria.
“Do you understand what I did?” Eria suddenly asked Hiita as she stood up, confusing her. “Each one of your attacks you threw at me, I responded to with a perfectly equal amount of energy to balance with you.”
Hiita actually hadn’t noticed just because she was so focused to attacking, but obviously this was the ‘lesson’ Eria said she was going to teach her. “I don’t get it, what were you proving just now?”
“That I’m capable of balancing with you no matter how much energy you let flow out.” Eria said, although to Hiita it sounded like she was rubbing it in.
“Well thanks for that.” She replied sarcastically.
“But the point is,” Eria continued. “I can, but do you realize that you and I are the only two who can actually operate on this level of power?” Eria asked, walking over and leaning down to Hiita, who was unsure how to answer. “The two of us are the strongest two in our class; even Aussa is able to match us in strength yet. And that means that we can’t be the one’s expecting them to match us.”
“I thought this wasn’t going to be a lecture.” Hiita noted, leaning her chin on her knee with an irritated look.
Eria ignored Hiita and continued. “The point is that I understand your wish to be the strongest, and I know you’ll be strong enough to take that title from me one day. But you can’t drag the others down with us just because of that. Anytime you want to fight, I’ll be happy to oblige, but don’t take your anger for me out on everyone else.” Without even waiting for Hiita to respond, Eria stood up and began to walk away, leaving her to ponder what she should be doing.

***

Rather than go home, Dharc found a tree nearby and sat down in its shade to rest and relax for a bit. After a moment a small creature came up to Dharc from behind the tree and nudged him so he’d take notice. The small fiend was Meda Bat, Dharc’s Familiar. All Charmers had their own Familiar; they were their partners ever since they began training under Mistress Doriado.
To them, the Familiars weren’t just pets, they were friends for life, and they would trust their Familiars with their lives in battle. This ideal held true even for Dharc, and he scratched the small fiends head with a finger to show it his care.
It was at that point someone walked up to Dharc, and he looked over to see Wynn standing over him with a friendly smile and her own Familiar, Petit Dragon, flying along next to her. “Hi Dharc, may I join you?” She asked nervously.
Dharc felt like saying no, but remembered his promise to Lyna to talk with the other Charmers. “Sure,” He told her; although it was obvious to Wynn he didn’t really mean it.
Nonetheless, she sat down next to Dharc and their two Familiars began to play with each other. For a moment there was nothing but awkward silence because Dharc didn’t want to speak and Wynn wasn’t sure what to say, even though this was her idea. She looked down at the grass while she hugged her legs close to her body, and then shifted her gaze over to Dharc.
Dharc shifted his gaze and looked back at Wynn, making her jerk her eyes back to the ground. Finally, she managed to speak up. “I, um, wanted to say thanks.”
“Thanks; for what?” Dharc asked her, as he certainly hadn’t done anything to earn thanks.
“Just for trying at the end of class.” Wynn said, although it just flew over Dharc’s head.
“There’s no reason to thank me for that. It was just like Hiita said; I only put any effort in because of Lyna.”
“I think that’s fine.” Wynn told Dharc, surprising him a bit. “Even if you only do something for a single person, it’s still better than shutting everyone out and never trying, don’t you think so?” She said and smiled up at Dharc.
Just like during class, Wynn spoke in a way that made her seem much older than she was. “Maybe,” He replied.
“It would still be nice if you could trust the rest of us more, but I think as long as you have Lyna, you’ll be alright and make it through.”
Dharc thought about and knew what Wynn was saying had truth in it. “Thanks,” he said, the idea Wynn didn’t mind his behavior was somehow calming to him.
“Don’t mention it,” Wynn replied and blushed with embarrassment. “Well, that’s all I wanted to say so… I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said and stood up, dusting off her skirt and walking away, and Petit Dragon noticed and stopped playing with Meda Bat and flew back to her, landing on her shoulder and rubbing her cheek affectionately.

***

Aussa was still reading in the Library by herself. Reading was what she normally did to try and forget things, but today Hiita really pushed her buttons. Whether or not her temper had been culled, her actually frustration was a different story. Her own Familiar, Archfiend Marmot of Nefariousness, had sat down on the table and looked up at Aussa, waiting for a sign she had calmed down.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the Library entrance. It was a public place where all of the Charmers were welcome to come at anytime, so the knock meant that the person was specifically announcing their presence. When Aussa glanced up from her book, she saw Hiita standing at the door with embarrassment lighting up her face.
Hiita’s Familiar, Fox Fire, ran across the floor and then jumped up onto the table, looking up at Aussa and then over at Marmot as Hiita walked slowly toward Aussa. After everything Eria told her, Hiita realized how she was acting was entirely out of conduct, and since Aussa was the one who had been most aggravated by her actions, she had come to apologize to her.
“What do you want?” Aussa asked with condescension as she looked back to her book.
“I want to apologize.” Hiita said, which was enough to make Aussa looked back up from her book and stare for a moment, as if waiting for Hiita to go on. “I’m sorry for what happened during class. I know I was being stupid and-” Suddenly Hiita was cut off by Aussa closing her book loudly and setting it down on the table.
After that, Aussa took another one of the books she had at the table and pushed it across the table to Hiita. “Take a look at that, Hiita.” She said, obvious the apology hadn’t done much for Aussa’s frustration.
Hiita picked the book up off the table and read the title out loud. “Duties of the Charmer Clan.”
“Open that up to the second section, page 53.” Aussa told Hiita, and once she had gave further instruction. “Will you please read the third paragraph on that page?” She asked, obviously trying to prove a point to Hiita in her own way.
Hiita looked from Aussa down to the book and began reading the paragraph. “‘But the duties of a Charmer who is to become a Tribute Charmer stretch beyond simply mastering spells. To properly lead as a Tribute Charmer in the future, a Charmer must have a level head and be able to make fair assessments. To do this, the Charmers need to have a high level of discipline and think rationally. Further-”
“That’s enough.” Aussa stopped Hiita, who looked up from the book. “You understand what this is saying, right? A level head, fair assessments, discipline, and rational thinking; do you know which of these qualities you’re missing?” She asked. Hiita realized what Aussa’s answer was, but didn’t want to hear it. “You’re missing all of them Hiita. You don’t have a level head because you’re always thinking about surpassing Eria. You don’t make fair assessments and it drags the rest of us down. You show a lack of discipline in the way you always look to take the blame off yourself instead of taking responsibility for your actions; and you don’t think rationally and instead think about yourself before your duties as a Charmer.
“If you really want to surpass Eria you need to start paying attention to those around you. Because once you recognize what you can do to help them, you’ll end up making yourself stronger in the process. I know I’m not really one to talk about being level headed because of my temper, but I recognize my problem and work on it. Do you understand, Hiita?”
“Yeah, I get it.” Hiita said, placing the book down on the table, and then she bowed to Aussa. “I really am sorry for causing you all trouble.” She apologized again.
“Thanks, I appreciate it.” Aussa said. “If that’s all, I’d like to be alone.”
“Of course, come on, Fox.” Hiita said and her Familiar jumped down from the table and walked out with her.

***

Lyna had just arrived at the gates to her family mansion. To welcome her back, her Familiar, Happy Lover, flew out from the house and over the gate, then proceeding to nuzzle up against Lyna’s cheek. Lyna returned her Familiar’s affection and began to open the gates to her home when someone called out to her. “Hey, Lyna,” It was Eria, who also had her Familiar, Gigobyte. “Do you have a sec?” She asked.
“As long as it’s quick, I still need to see what Milia wanted.” Lyna answered.
“I just wanted to ask if Dharc was alright after class. You talked to him right?” Eria questioned.
“Yeah, he’s fine; but wouldn’t it be better to ask Dharc directly?” Lyna asked, titling her head slightly in confusion.
“Maybe,” Eria responded. “But knowing Dharc, I was a bit worried he wouldn’t talk with me even if I tried. So I thought it’d be easier to ask you about it.”
Understanding Eria’s concerns, Lyna gave her a warm smile. “He’s alright.” She assured him. “Something like that isn’t going to affect Dharc anyways.”
“I guess not.” Eria said with a quick laugh at herself, suddenly finding it a tad silly that she had worried about it.
“Well either way, I think you should try to talk with Dharc. I think it would be good for him if you tried reaching out to him.” Lyna suggested. “I asked him to try talking with all of you, so he’ll listen to what you say at least.”
Eria sighed as if she was unsure of that. “Well, it’s a step in the right direction I guess.” She said. “Well, I don’t want to keep you from Milia any longer, so I’ll be going now.” She told Lyna while giving a slight bow.
“Yeah, I’ll see ya’ later.” Lyna replied, returning the bow and then waving Eria goodbye with a big smile on her face.

***

Hiita lay back on the top of her family mansion and gave a big sigh. As Fox Fire came up near her face, Hiita looked at her Familiar and spoke. “I’ve really screwed up this time haven’t I?” She asked her Familiar, and the small creature came up close to nuzzle its head in Hiita’s neck to show its affection. Hiita giggled at this and pet the animal. “You’re such a good girl, Fox. You can always make me feel better.”
Hiita of course had had outbreaks like this latest one before, but this time was different than any other. This had been their first lesson that involved them all working together. Before hand if she became competitive and tried too hard, it had only affected her, but this time it affected them all. That had never been her intention and now she was regretting it.
Then, Hiita’s attention was drawn over to the ladder up when she heard someone grunting as if it was a task to climb. The person there reached up to the edge of the roof and pulled herself up. When she did, Hiita saw that the person was Wynn, accompanied by her Familiar.
“Wynn, what are you doing here?” Hiita asked, sitting up as Wynn got all the way up and smiled a very befitting child-like playful grin.
“Well, I figured that if you were going to sulk you’d go back to your home. So I asked your parents and they said to come straight up.”
“But why are you here?”
“I just wanted to be sure you were alright after class. You aren’t still upset are you?” Wynn asked her.
Wynn always did care a little too much about others’ feelings. Even if her argument was justified, Wynn would still be concerned about brushing them the wrong way. Perhaps it was just Wynn’s young and untainted innocence that allowed her to be like that, or maybe she was able to look past everything and care for other people above herself despite it all; but either way, it help brighten Hiita’s disposition.
“No, I’m not upset.” Hiita told Wynn. “I’ve simmered down now; I’m sorry about all that.”
“Oh, it’s fine, I just wanted to make sure you were alright.” Wynn said hurriedly in embarrassment.
“Wynn, you should really work on that ‘too nice’ attitude of yours. Someone’s going to take advantage of you one of these days.”
”No they’re not; no one in the Charmers would do that!” Wynn argued.
Hiita smirked and giggled at Wynn’s reaction, and though she had a pouty face on, Wynn soon relieved her face of it to laugh along with Hiita at herself. “Well, you don’t have to worry about tomorrow Wynn,” Hiita said as she stood up. “I won’t drag you and the others down with me anymore.”
After saying this, Hiita walked over past Wynn and began going down the ladder with Fox Fire on her shoulder. “Oh, where are you going, Hiita?” Wynn asked.
“Well, I’ve still got a couple of apologies to take care. I’ll see you tomorrow alright?”
“Yeah, bye then.” Wynn said and waved to Hiita as she slid down the ladder.

***

Still sitting underneath the shade of the tree, Dharc sighed to himself. He had promised Lyna he would attempt to talk with the other Charmers, but so far he had only spoken with Wynn, and that was when she came to him. He didn’t want to disappoint Lyna, but he was having trouble working up the actual nerve to do it.
The reason he was so nervous about approaching them was because he wouldn’t even know where to begin if he did. Whether or not it was actually true, Dharc did not feel like he had anything in common with the other Charmers, so confronting them would be especially difficult for him.
Just then though, a voice spoke from behind the tree. “Have you been out here since class ended?” Dharc turned and saw Eria standing there.
Her question sounded honestly surprised that Dharc had decided to sit out here ever since class. Dharc looked away as if her question had suddenly made him feel stupid for doing so and answered. “Yeah, I’ve just been… thinking about some things.”
“Would those ‘things’ have to do with promising Lyna you’d talk with the rest of us?” Eria asked, taking a seat next to Dharc on the ground.
The fact Eria knew that meant that Lyna had told her, but that did not surprise Dharc. She probably realized he would need some help getting to the ‘talking’ part, and asked Eria to go to him instead. “Yeah, sorry about that.” Dharc told Eria.
“There’s no need to apologize Dharc, It’s only natural that after so long, trying to get close to us now would be difficult.” Eria said in response. Then, Eria suddenly put her arm around Dharc’s shoulders and pulled him closer to her in an attempt to make him feel more comfortable, although she knew it was probably doing the obvious. “Look, Dharc… you don’t have to force yourself to get along with us. A friendship is something that grows gradually, and it’s just as important to listen as it is to share.
“So, until you feel comfortable talking to us, go ahead and just handle the listening part. The rest of us can handle the talking until you feel ready to take the next step forward; okay?” Eria explained to Dharc.
Indeed, Dharc was listening to Eria, and really it sounded like she really understood Dharc’s position. Eria was trying to get the idea into Dharc mind that if he just let them closer to them, that would be all he needed to do. He didn’t have to be the one who walked up to them, he didn’t even have to speak, but if he just took the time to listen to what they all had to say when they approached him, he might get closer to them gradually.
But even if he understood all of this, doing so was still going to be a little difficult for Dharc to do. He sighed and looked over at Meda Bat who was taking a nap on the ground until Dharc decided to head home. Eria caught on to Dharc’s uneasiness, but grinned down at him anyways; at least he understood.
Eria gave Dharc’s shoulders a quick squeeze and then stood up from the ground. “Well, just remember what I said when you run past the others alright? If we can all understand each other, it will benefit us all.” She said, and then began walking away with Gigobyte close behind her.

***

Having found the resolve to fully apologize for her mistakes in class, Hiita made her way over to the light Charmer’s family mansion to speak with Lyna. Prepping herself by taking a deep breath, Hiita then knocked on the front door. “Just a minute!” Someone called from inside. Hiita recognized the voice as belonging to Lyna’s elder sister, Milla, who soon opened up the door to her. “Oh, Hitta; looking for Lyna?”
“Yeah,” Hiita answered nervously. “May I speak with her for a minute?”
“Sure thing; let me get her for you.” Milla said and went back into the house while leaving the door open. “Lyna, Hiita’s at the door for you!” She called back into the house, and soon enough, Lyna came up to the door.
“Hi, Hiita... what is it?” Lyna asked.
In response, Hiita took another deep breath and then dropped her upper body into a very deep bow of respect and humility. “I’m sorry for how I was acting in class!” SHe blurted out her apology, and held her bow with her eyes shut while waiting for Lyna to reply.
Lyna was a kind person much like Wynn was, only not as shy; so Hiita knew that Lyna would accept her apology full-heartedly just for having the courage to do so in the first place. However, because she was thinking this, when a moment past and Lyna had not said anything in response, Hiita wondered if something was wrong and opened one eyes and looked up without breaking her bow. When she did, she was surprised to see Lyna, with a strangely angered expression, holding up her magic staff and beginning to swing it down at her head.
“WHA!?” Hiita shouted in surprise, but could not avoid the blow to the top of her head.
“Stupid!!!” Lyna yelled at Hiita after striking her.
Hiita stood up straight and held the back of head as tears formed at the corner of her eyes in pain. “What was that for; and how am I stupid!?” Hiita asked in confusion. “I just came here to apologize.” She said, completely missing why Lyna had assaulted her.
“I’m not the one you need to be apologizing too!” Lyna shouted back at Hiita, making the red-headed girl stop in her tracks. “Dharc is the one you should be apologizing to. You insulted him during class just because you wanted to take the blame off yourself!”
Tears were also forming in Lyna’s eyes because of how upset she was about this. However, after hearing her reason, Hiita retorted by saying, “I know that; I was going to apologize to Dharc last because he’s the one I insulted.” And by saying that, now Lyna was the one who froze. Hiita then lowered her voice and continued to explain. “What I said to Dharc was rude and insensitive. I don’t have and excuse for it; and that’s why I was going to apologize to him last... because he’s the one I need to apologize to the most.”
In Hiita’s mind, if she apologized to Dharc last, then that made her apology to him the most important and most meaningful. SHe had gone to apologize to Hiita first because she had been angered the most by her actions, and it was imperative she fixed that problem as soon as she could. But with Dharc - whom she felt it most important to apologize to overall - she saved for last to make it special, at least to her. If she did it before anyone else it would seem to make it like she was taking the event lightly, and that wasn’t true at all.
Now knowing why Hiita came to her instead, Lyna now saw that the motion she was making was honest and true. “Thank you, Hiita. Sorry for hitting you on the head like that.” Lyna said.
“Don’t be, I deserved it anyways.” Hiita said, rubbing the bump she received from the strike.
“Right, now go apologize to Dharc.” Lyna commanded Hiita.
“Yeah,” Hiita nodded with a smile, and then turned on her heels and ran out to go find Dharc and apologize.

***

After finally calming herself down from her outburst at Hiita, Aussa began making her way back to her family mansion with Marmot hovering next to her. She had managed to give herself a quaking headache from all the books she had read in the Library, so now she was heading home to sleep it off. But then Orei came from around a corner and walked towards her.
“Hey Aussa; you stabilize from your temper burst yet?” She asked, wanting to make sure she was alright.
“Hm? Oh, yeah, don’t worry about it. Right now I just need a good night;s rest and I’ll be my old self again.”
“That’s good, no reason t be driving yourself mad with frustration. Although speaking of, have you spoken with Hiita since then?”
Yeah, she came by the Library to apologize earlier; she semed to really understand where she had screwed up this time, so hopefully we won’t have any more problems in class like today.”
“No, I think she really understand this time. We don’t have to worry.” Eria, smiling at Aussa.
“Anyways, I should really get some sleep; othewise I’m just going to flat out collapse.” Aussa warned Eria and continued on to her house.
“Yeah, it’s getting a little late, so I should probably be heading home myself soon. See ya’ tomorrow, alright?”
“Yeah; good night Eria,” Aussa said with one last wave to Eria.

***

After thinking more about what Eria told him about listening to the other Charmers some more, Dharc began making his way back through the village to his family mansion. The sun was beginning to set now, so he imagined the others had also begun making their ways home. He hadn’t managed to speak with all the other Charmers like he promised Lyna he would attempt to, but after what Eria told him, he felt that was alright for now, and he felt he did better than he could have from Wynn and Eria coming to him like they did then he ever could have if he had been the one to approach them, which would be enough for Lyna. Meda Bat had gone back ahead of him, so now Dharc was just thinking sleepily about what he would do tomorrow in class. But just then, Dharc heard Hiita call him from behind. “Hey Dharc!”
Dharc stopped and turned to look at Hiita running up to him with beads of sweat on her face, indicating she had been running around for a while now; apparently looking for him. When Hiita reached him, she stopped and caught her breath for a moment before stating her reason for finding him.
“I’m sorry for insulting you in class today, Dharc.” She told him, bowing ot him in the same manner he had to Lyna, but then straightened up and continued. :I shouldn’t have said all those things about you having an attitude problem and not trusting us. I was just being selfish and it wasn’t fair to you. I apologize completely Dharc.”
Hearing Hiita apologize like this, Dharc sighed and replied. “It didn’t bother me, I told you in class that you weren’t wrong.”
Dharc wasn’t trying to make Hiita feel better about the situation or anything by saying that. That was just honestly how Dharc felt. He didn’t mind if Hiita and the others saw him that way or not, and if they did it wouldn’t bother him at all. So he found Hiita’s apology here both unbecoming and unnecessary.
However, Hiita disagreed. “That’s no excuse. Whether it bothers you or not, it’s bothering me now that I said it. Even if you think I have nothing to apologize for, I;ll say it again; I’m sorry Dharc, I’m really sorry.”
At this point Hiita bowed low to Dharc again in a genuine show of remorse for her actions, and apparently was going to wait for Dharc to say or do something before releasing her bow. Looking at her like that, Dharc could see that the situation really was bothering her quite a bit, and so understood the importance of what she was telling him.
Since she was still holding her bow, Dharc look one hand and knocked her lightly on her head. “Ouch!” Hiita looked up and rubbed her head, Dharc having knocked the bump on her head she had gotten from Lyna.
“Thanks,” Dharc told Hiita in response to her heart filled apology, showing her he appreciated the effort to some degree.
Knowing that, Hiita stood up straight and smiled at Dharc. “You’re welcome, Dharc.” She told him graciously. “Good night then, I’ll see you tomorrow.” She said, and then turned around and began heading home herself.
Once she was gone, Dharc turned back and continued on his way home himself.

***

And so the next morning came and the six young Charmers gathered in class with Mistress Doriado and reattempted yesterday’s lesson. Mistress Doriado watched them all as they prepared themselves in a circle and began balancing their magic energy with one another. It was still imperfect, but it was clear that it was much, much closer than they would have ever gotten the day before.
Seeing the potential she knew the six had in them once more, Mistress Doriado looked upon her students and smiled softly, knowing great things would be waiting for them in the future.
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Hippocampus
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Age : 25
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Name: Theodore Tsakiris
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:59 pm

This is a very cute story. You seem to really know how to portray the characters well, and I can visualize everything very clearly. Good job!

Also, when you write "Chapter 1", I'm assuming you're going to continue this at some point?
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Binding Dharc
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:41 pm

I do intend to continue, it just takes me a while to write the chapters.

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Name: Hiita the Fire Charmer
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:21 am

Chapter 2: Family Business

It was about half an hour after their training session with Mistress Doriado, but the Charmers had not left to their houses yet. Instead Aussa, Lyna, and Dharc were gathered in the courtyard at the back end of the school while observing a fight between Hiita and Eria. For the past week, each day after training Hiita would challenge Eria to a match to try and prove she was stronger, but each and every time so far, Eria had come out on top. The other three Charmers watched the match with careful eyes, but also with unimpressed expressions. It was as if they were watching the same thing over and over again so many times that all the original surprises had lost their edge.
As they watched, Wynn came out from the building with snacks held in one arm for the others and herself. “Did I miss anything?” She asked as she jogged over to the other observers.
“Nothing good, pretty much the same as always.” Aussa replied without taking her eyes of the match.
Wynn went across the line of Charmers and handed out the snacks they had asked for. She handed Dharc a glass of a carbonated drink that was miraculously unspilt, Aussa a bag of rock candy, and Lyna an assortment of lollipops, while having a few bars of chocolate for herself. She sat on the ground next to Lyna and once again began watching Hiita fighting Eria.
Although calling this match a 'fight’ seemed inappropriate. It seemed that way because for all the offense Hiita was putting out, Eria did not truly seem to be trying. With each blast of fire Hiita shot out, Eria rarely even bothered to block it using her own magic. Instead, Eria simply sidestepped most of Hiita’s attacks with swift flowing movements like she was dancing.
Hiita only grew more furious with her opponent when she did that, because that meant she was still too far behind her. But that did not stop Hiita from using her all in the match. Landing even one hit could mean the difference between loss and victory, so as long as Hiita kept Eria from approaching, she felt she had a chance.
While dodging Hiita’s barrage, Eria held a playful grin on her face to say she was enjoying toying with Hiita as she was. If Eria really tried right now, she would beat Hiita in just a few seconds. That wasn’t their difference in strength however, but rather their difference in skill. Before Hiita could defeat Eria, she needed to learn to apply strategy to her attacks, but right now all she was doing was throwing around balls of fire. After another few minutes, Eria decided it was time to bring the so called battle to an end.
Eria stopped dodging and made a firm stance that easily showed her intent to attack. “Oh, here we go.” Aussa noted on the sidelines as everyone’s head perked up a little as if everything before this wasn’t the real show.
Eria held up her magic staff in front of her and began spinning it as another ball of fire was hurtled straight for her. Pouring magic power through the staff, Eria created a wall of water that extinguished Hiita’s attack. Immediately after, Eria stopped her staff’s spinning and used her magic to craft a whip of water that she then used to snare Hiita’s leg before she could react.
Grinning with satisfaction, Eria pulled back on the water whip and yanked Hiita off her feet as she readied another fire ball, which in effect caused it to fly up into the sky instead of forward. Hiita tried to get back to her feet, but by the time she got her back off the ground, Eria shoved the bottom end of her staff into Hiita’s face, declaring a victory. “That’s that Hiita, I win again.” Eria noted, which caused Hiita to scowl.
“Alright,” Aussa called out to her two friends, waving around her bag of rock candy as she did. “With that, the score is 7 - 0 in favor of Eria.”
With that, Eria lowered her staff and held out her hand to help Hiita up. Taking her hand, Hiita got to her feet and dusted herself off. “I’ll get you one of these days Eria.” She proclaimed.
Her smile only widening, Eria nodded to Hiita. “Yeah, never give up Hiita.” She told her rival, patting her shoulder in encouragement to continue getting stronger.
With that, Hiita stood up and walked off on her own, leaving the other five. Once Hiita was gone, Eria turned to the others with a warm smile.
“You know Eria, you could make you fights with Hiita a little more entertaining once you go on offense.” Aussa told Eria jokingly.
“Now Aussa, be realistic. If I went easy on Hiita, how do you think she would react?”
“What are you talking about? Aren’t you always starting out easy?” Aussa questioned.
“Of course not!” Eria readily denied that thought. “Being defensive and going easy are not the same thing. I may not be attacking for the first part of the fight, but I’m still giving it my all. That’s the only way she’ll really improve.”
“She doesn’t seem to be.” Dharc noted between sips of his drink.
“Au contraire, Dharc.” Eria denied this as well, wagging a finger at him with a happy grin on her face. “It may not look like it to you on the outside, but as I’m the one fighting her, I can see it clear as a stream. With each match, Hiita is coming closer and closer to striking me. It won’t be very long now until I don’t have the luxury of just jumping around the first half hour anymore.”
“Really?” Aussa hummed, her tone insinuating an incoming proposition. “You sure sound confident about that Eria; care to make a wager on it?”
“What kind of wager?” Eria inquired further, sounding quite interested.
“We bet on by when Hiita will be able to force you into offense. You chose a date by which you think she’ll succeed, and if it takes her longer than that then it means I win the bet.”
“And the stakes?” Eria asked.
“The ‘Usual’?” Aussa suggested, the term ‘Usual’ of course meaning that they made these kinds of wagers often.
“Loser serves the winner for day?” Eria stated the the ‘Usual’ wager was while considering it. “Actually, I have a better idea.”
“What is it?”
“Instead of the loser serving the winner for a day; since this wager is over Hiita’s success, how about the loser has to serve her for a day?”
At this suggestion, Aussa twitched. She was backflashing to a time once before when she had lost a ‘Usual’ wager to Hiita and had to serve her for a day then. Having wanted to rub her victory in as much as possible, the red-haired devil had forced Aussa to perform a number of physical endeavors just to tire Aussa out. She had been forbidden from using magic to make these tasks easier as well, so even things that might have been simple with it became quite tasking to Aussa’s body. By the end of the day, Aussa had been on her hands and knees, being half-dragged around by Hiita until the moment midnight came and the next day officially began.
It scared Aussa to think what Hiita would do to her this time then, if she lost this bet to Eria in which she would betting against Hiita’s improvment. Even if Eria were to lose this bet and be forced to serve her, Hiita might make it easier on Eria for having had faith in her abilities whereas Aussa was not such a believer.
Noticing her reaction to the idea, Lyna poked at Aussa’s pride to give her a push for accepting the bet. “What’s the matter Aussa? Are you afraid you’ll lose the bet?”
That question, even made as a joke, was all it took to push Aussa over the edge.
And although it may have seemed out of character for Lyna at first to push for such a wager, it was only because they all knew that the wager was in pure fun and games. All of the Charmers had participated in these bets several times before and been made to serve one other and do various things from ‘menial’ to ‘embarrassing’, but none of them would ever make the others do something that would cause them any real harm.
And even though Hiita’s tasks were usual more cruel than anyone else’s, they were not dangerous. She would make them run from place to place all over town and work them until they were a ball of sweat and couldn’t stand anymore, but she wouldn’t make any of them do something that might actually end them up in a hospital.
Even Dharc, Mister ‘Anti-Social’ himself would participate in these wagers every now and then. And so because of these things, even her, the kindest of them all, would participate in and encourage these bets.
“Of course not!” Aussa roared back at Lyna for her insinuation, and then turned back to Eria to accept the terms. “You’re on, Eria. Name the date.” She said, shaking on it with Eria to make the bet official.
“Alright, let’s see then...” Eria pretended to think for a moment, although she already had the number in her head from the moment Aussa proposed the bet. “I think she’ll be able to force me into offense by... Tomorrow.”
Eria stated her deadline, but it actually sounded crazy to the rest of them. She had said she thought Hiita would get to that point soon, but the others had believed she meant it would happen in maybe another week. But Eria had been so bold as to believe that Hiita, who had only just then been unable to even touch Eria for over half an hour, would jump a major hurtle to becoming the strongest Charmer the very next day.
Aussa was so stunned that it took a second to register that Eria was serious before she burst out laughing. “Ha! Hahahahahaha! Oh, you are SO on Eria. Enjoy cleaning Hiita’s mansion with nothing but a toothbrush.”
“We’ll see tomorrow then.” Eria still only smiled, and with the bargain struck, the two Charmers turned and walked off, which left only Wynn, Lyna, and Dharc still there behind the school building.
“Well, who do you think is going to win the bet?” Lyna asked the other two.
“I don’t know. Eria is usually right about these things, but one day just seems way too soon.” Wynn answered.
“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” Lyna agreed. “But Eria seemed so confident about it. What do you think Dharc?” Lyna turned to Dharc.
Looking to Lyna, Dharc thought about it for a moment before giving his answer. “Eria will win the bet.” He said, chugging down the rest of his carbonated drink.
“You really think so?” Wynn asked.
“Yes, and there’s a reason I think so too. But I’ll wait to see what happens to say it.”
“Well, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” Lyna said, hopping up from the ground. “I should be heading home then. Milla wants me back again today. I’ll see you tomorrow Wynn, Dharc.” She said and waved back at the two as she began jogging toward her family mansion.
“In that case, I’ll be heading home as well Dharc.” Wynn said and stood up as well while chewing on one of her chocolate bars.
Dharc gave Wynn a quick wave back and began walking toward his home as well.

* * *

Returning to her family mansion, Hiita entered through the front door and looked around to see if anyone else was home. When she didn’t see anyone, she called out through the building. “Hey! Anyone home? Mom, Dad? Sis-”
“I”m in the kitchen, Hiita.” A voice that belonged to Hiita’s older sister returned her call. “The others are all out right now, so it’ll just be you and me for dinner tonight.”
“Okay,” Hiita called back, heading towards a downward staircase. “I’ll be in the Study, so come get me when it’s ready.”
“Again?” Hiita’s sister questioned from the kitchen. “You’ve been spending a lot of time in the Study lately, what are you doing down there?”
“It’s not really your business is it?” Hiita told her sister, heading down into the Study.
“No, I suppose you’ve got me there.”
At the bottom of the stairs was a single door that lead into a dark room. Closing the door behind her, Hiita then lit up the room dimly with a large flame from her magic staff and set it on a stand meant to keep it up straight.
The Study was a very small room with almost half the space being taken up by the desk Hiita now sat in front of, The two side walls of the room had bookcases stacked with some books, and then mostly with self-jotted notes, diagrams, strategy tactics, negotiation methods, and in some cases journals that held personal thoughts. Though every member of the FIRE Charmers were allowed to enter here whenever they pleased, only one person was allowed in at a time, and the rest of the family was strictly forbidden from looking at anything their family members had drawn up in here unless they themselves showed it to them. They trusted each other to the fullest not to even try, but even still they did have a magic spell set up within the room that prevented anyone other than the writer of each article from touching it unless handed to them by the writer directly.
This charm was actually a safeguard against any intruders from outside the Charmer clan who might seek to steal the FIRE family’s hard worked plans and fighting strategies to use against them. Hiita did not know if the other Charmer families had a room like this one, but considering that was because she was strictly ordered by her parents not to ask; she assumed they all did and they were each just meant to be storehouses for each families’ secrets, and of course all the Charmers respected the privacy and secrets of one another.
Hiita reached to the bookshelf on her left and on the third shelf from the bottom grabbed a pile of paper she had already drawn on and then grabbed a few new sheets of paper from a supply box at the foot of the desk. The writings and diagrams Hiita had already made from the previous days showed and detailed strategies and fighting styles for dealing with a specific person: Eria.
Others who didn’t know Hiita on a very long term basis may not have thought that she was the kind of person to plan out moves like this days in advance, but those within the Charmers were all well aware of her true skills and that, if given the time, she could rise to any occasion. Every day lately after battling with Eria after school, Hiita would come in here to think through all of Eria’s movements. Eria’s every duck, block, spin, attack and even the occasional flinch.
She would then reevaluate her own fighting at that time and plan through steps on how to make her combat against Eria more effective. But to the other Charmers who had been observing her pitiful displays over the last week, they likely had no idea she was going through such measures. Hiita had not been using each days tactics to improve her fighting the next. Instead, she had been fighting in her usual head strong manner this whole week while gradually obtaining knowledge on Eria each time until she had enough to make her counter attack.
Hiita did have a sneaking suspicion that Eria was completely aware that she was gradually honing her skills for this moment, and that it was actually the real reason behind why she did nothing but dodge and block from the first portion of each battle rather than the assumed ‘she doesn’t attack because she doesn’t need to’ theory. It certainly fell within Eria’s personality to do so to help Hiita along faster, and Hiita wasn’t going to complain if it did.
Grabbing the pen on the corner of the desk, Hiita dipped the tip into the ink bottle next to it and began scribing onto the fresh sheets of paper. She worked in complete silence aside from the flickering of her staff’s flames next to her to stay concentrated while she worked.
Hiita literally spent the next hour-and-a-half straight jotting down ways she could improve her fighting against Eria. But it was at that time a knock sounded at the door that shifted Hiita’s attention from her work.
The voice that came from the other side was her sister once again. “Alright Hiita, finish up your work and come on out for dinner. I’ll be waiting at the table.”
“Okay Sis; be out in just a minute.” Hiita responded to her sister and then turned back to her work and began to review everything she had written so far from day one.
She went through it as quickly as she could so she could hurry to dinner before it started to get cold. In just a couple minutes she had gone over everything from stop to finish and then set the papers down in a neat stack in front of her while smiling to herself.
“Alright,” Hiita muttered to herself. “Tomorrow it’s time to give Eria a run for her money.”
With that, Hiita stashed the accumulated knowledge back into the bookshelf at her right. She then stood up, grabbed her staff, and opened the door right behind her to go eat with her sister.

* * *

Having returned to her own family mansion, Eria entered the courtyard through the main gates and was soon greeted by her familiar, Gigobyte. “Hi, Gigo. Have fun today?” Eria asked the small creature. Gigobyte made motions and sounds for communicating with Eria. And despite him not using the human dialogue, Eria understood what he had said. “That so, you played with the other familiars today? Did you have fun? ... Good.”
At that time, another voice came from the WATER family mansion, addressing Eria. “Welcome back, Eria.” Eria turned to the owner of the voice to see her eldest sister Gishki Ariel walking toward her.
Seeing Ariel, who for this last week had been off providing council for internal disputes in the land of WATER as part of her own training for becoming Tribute Charmer, Eria lit up with a smile and ran to give her a hug. “Ariel!” She called her sister’s name as she was swung around in her arms. “Does this mean Avance is back too?” Eria asked excitedly.
“Yeah, he’s inside talking with Emilia.” Natalia told Eria.
Avance was Eria and Ariel’s older brother, and first in line to succeed the seat of Tribute Charmer. Emilia was their step-sister, who was brought into the family by their step-mother: Noellia. Noellia had married Eria’s father some time ago after her real mother, Natalia, died.
“This is great, then the whole family will be together for dinner tonight!” Eria proclaimed, looking forward to the prospect of enjoying a meal with all of the most dear people to her.
“The dining hall is already being prepared.” Ariel told Eria. “Shall we head inside then?”
“Yeah,” Eria nodded, and the two sisters walked back into the mansion hand-in-hand.
On their way to the dining hall, Ariel and Eria found Avance as he spoke with Emilia. When they walked in on the them, the two were laughing about something. “Oh, and what are you two laughing about?” Ariel inquired with intrigue.
Somehow embarrassed, Avance stopped laughing and cleared his throat with a cough. “N-nothing,” he told his sister.
“Avance was just telling me about property dispute you two helped clear up while you were away.” Emilia explained with a smile.
“Ah that... was it really so humorous?” Ariel questioned, tilting her head to the side.
“Do you find anything humorous?” Avance asked Ariel.
“I suppose that’s a valid point.”
“Dinner should be about ready.” Emilia said. “Shall we all go in together?”
“Alright,” Ariel agreed, and the group of siblings walked through the halls until they came to the dining hall and entered.
Inside, they saw the table prepared with the young man who had prepared it standing to the side, Gishki Vanity. Once they had come in, Vanity bowed deeply to them in greeting. “Good evening to you, Supper is nearly done, so do feel free to take your seats and wait.” He informed them, and the siblings all took seats around the small table, Ariel and Avance sitting on one end with Eria and Emilia opposite of them respectively.
Vanity then left through a side door that led to the kitchen to await the food, and a moment after he did, Noellia entered from the hall. “Evening children.” Noellia said, although her tone sounded passive, as if she were only saying it because she had too. “I see Avance and Ariel have returned; welcome back you two.”
“Thank you, Mistress.” Avance gave a small bow from his seat to Noellia, however Ariel said nothing in response and only gave a slight nod without emotion showing on her face.
Noellia took the end seat on the far end of the table between Avance and Emilia. After another few minutes, Vanity returned from the kitchen with five meals on a rolling cart for the family member. Going around the table, Vanity placed a plate of cooked vegetables and a bowl of potato soup in front of Eria, a salad and two cobs of corn for Emilia, and then placed a plate of escargot and clams in front of Noellia. “Good evening, Madam.” Vanity greeted Noellia, as she had not been there to greet before.
Continuing around the table, Vanity gave Avance a few large baked potatoes with sour cream, and finally leaned over Ariel to give her cream of mushroom soup and mixed vegetables. It was subtly, but as Vanity straightened back up from placing down Ariel’s meal, his eyes met with hers; and both of them looked at each other with eyes that did not seem to hold emotion. They might have been mistaken for looks of contempt by a third part, but that was not it at all. Rather, it seemed as if the two were attempting to relay a message to one another without having it stated.
None of the others at the table noticed this exchange in glances between them, and once the moment had past, the two of them proceeded as normal. “If there is nothing else, I shall take my leave.” Vanity said once he rolled the cart back toward the kitchen. “Enjoy your meals.” He said, giving another bow to the family and began to exit through the kitchen door.
“Wait,” But before Vanity had left, Eria called out to him. Her family members as well as Vanity looked to her in wonder of what she had to say, although she seemed unsure of whether or not she should. “Um... why don’t you eat with us today?” She asked him, but that kind of question surprised the whole family around her as well as Vanity himself, and there was an awkward silence to follow. “I mean, well... we have an extra chair, and it wouldn’t be a bother, right?”
Eria asked this question to the family around her, asking for them to approve of her kind notion, however, none of them seemed to be sure how to respond. After a moment, Emilia took a breathe and began speaking. “...I-”
“How I am honored by the request,” Vanity interrupted Emilia to answer Eria. “I have other duties I should attend to at the moment, and must refuse.”
“Oh, I see.” Eria said softly. “Well, thank you anyways.” She told him.
“It is my pleasure, young Eria.” Vanity replied, and then finally left.
It was a moment before the atmosphere of the room returned to normal and the family began to eat, but once it had, Noellia gave comment on what had happened. “For someone who requested to be brought into this family as a servant, he doesn’t seem very grateful.” She said as she took a bite of her sea-food. “I can’t quite understand why your father let him in.”
“Vanity is a loyal servant.” In response to Noellia’s comment, Ariel spoke up on Vanity’s behalf. “He owed his life to our father, and may have even grieved more than we did over his untimely passing. In his own way, he may still be grieving.” She told Noellia, glancing up at the kitchen door where Vanity had left, a glimmer of sympathy in her eye for him now.
Eria’s father, like his wife before him, had past away from a mysterious illness several months after marrying Noellia. It had been a tragic day for the whole family, especially since they had already lost their mother. Vanity had been rescued from a monster by their father when he was still young, and held an extremely strong sense of respect for him. To repay their father, Vanity had requested to become his family servant, and had been given an even greater honor when their father made him an ‘honorary Gishki’.
Vanity held the title Gishki with pride and served their family loyally for many years. So when the man whom had saved his life died without feeling he had come close to repaying his debt, Vanity may have been hit harder than any of them.
“Is that right?” Noellia considered Ariel’s words. “I misinterpreted then.” She said, also glancing toward the kitchen for a moment, but then went right back to eating.
Ariel as well returned to eating, and then Emilia, who had almost spoken up earlier, leaned over an whispered to Eria. “I thought that was a very sweet gesture, Eria. I’m sorry I didn’t say something faster.” She apologized.
“It’s alright, I just thought he deserved it.” Eria told Emilia.
“Well, then next time let’s both insist he eat with us.” Emilia told Eria, determination in her voice now.
Hearing that determination, Eria smiled once more. “Yeah!”
With that exchange, Emilia and Eria went back to eating, but before that Emilia glanced up and saw Avance looking at her. He could guess what she had said to Eria and gave her a smile and nod to say that he agreed with her sentiment. Seeing that, Emilia’s face grew slightly red and she quickly looked down and began quickly eating her food. Seeing her react that way, Avance also returned to his food and the family continued their meal in silence.

* * *

At the EARTH family mansion, Aussa came in and plopped herself down on the couch in the living room and put her feet up on the table. While relaxing, Aussa continued to eat her bag of rock candy while smiling to herself over her bet with Eria. Aussa was the most knowledgeable Charmer of her group. She knew how to preform more spells than any one else in her circle, and it was often said that if she merely practiced her magic more, she could even beat out Eria for strongest.
Because of this, Aussa was confident in her perception capabilities. Aussa was aware that Hiita had been holding back the past several days and was likely making plans on how to take Eria down; but those truths did not make Aussa believe that Hiita would be able to achieve what Eria believed by tomorrow. There was a fundamental issue that Aussa believed would keep Hiita from getting to that level for a while.
That fundamental issue was actually the very system she was using to improve. Because Hiita was holding back at a single level until she thought she had enough to go forward, it didn’t matter how much planning she had put into her planning because she had still not seen the full extent of Eria’s skill. Aussa felt that before Hiita would be able to force Eria into getting offensive, she would have stop holding back.
Thinking that, Aussa felt that even if Hiita were to give it all she had tomorrow, it would not be enough because she had yet to see Eria’s full skill. With only seeing Eria’s basic movements, there was no way Hiita could force Eria into offensive. And that was what gave Aussa the confidence that she would win the bet. Even if Eria had said 2 days instead of one, Aussa would have felt like Hiita had a shot at succeeding. But because Eria had made the decision to bet on tomorrow, Aussa felt certain she would win the bet.
After thinking through it all, someone else came into the living and saw her. “Look who’s back.” It was Aussa’s older brother, Dante. “Eria and Hiita still duking it out after school?” He inquired.
“Yeah, and now Eria and I have a bet on how much Hiita’s improved.” Aussa said, and then explained the standings and wager of the bet.
In response, Dante gave a laugh. “You sure you wanted to make that bet? Image how hard Hiita will be on you if you loose.”
“I was worried about that until Eria put tomorrow as her deadline. I’m confident that no matter how much Hiita’s improved, it won’t matter until at least the day after she stops holding back.”
Just then, another person entered the living room and saw Aussa and Dante. However, when she saw them, she gave a mischievous grin and quietly began tip-toeing her way up behind Aussa. Dante noticed her, but he didn’t react to her at all as to not alert Aussa to what she was doing.
“You’re that confident, huh?” Dante made sure with Aussa. “I thought Eria was usually right about things.”
“Well, that’s true but...” As Aussa replied, the girl sneaking up behind her was just a few steps from the back of the couch. “...there is a reason people use the word ‘usually’ when they say that.”
With that said, Aussa reached over and grabbed her magic staff just as the girl sneaking up on her was poised with her hands held high, ready to strike. However, just before she did, Aussa pulled on her staff and the crystal head smashed into the girl’s head, knocking her down.
“Owww~!” The girl groaned from the ground and grabbed the couch to pull herself back up, poking her head over the couch while rubbing her head, and found that Dante was laughing at her failed sneak attack.
Aussa then turned around and looked at her older sister with bland unamusement, as if her attempt at a sneak attack had bored her. “Aryda, how many times are you going to do this before you learn that you can’t sneak up on me?” She asked.
“But that should only work when your feet are on the ground!” Aryda complained, noting that Aussa had her feet up on the table when she had tried to sneak up on her.
“Right, because ‘Ground Stalker’ is the only detection spell I know.” Aussa replied sarcastically. “I have several detection spells, and of them, two managed to alert me to you from when you entered the room.”
“Oh, man!” Dante said while still laughing. “Aryda, Sis; just quit while you’re behind on this one.”
“No way!” Aryda complained, jumping back up to her feet. “Aussa is my little sister; I’m not supposed to be losing to her!”
“You have potential Aryda, but your not living up to it.” Dante said getting a little more serious. “If you just trained harder...”
“But-”
“You can’t be making arguments against everything Aryda.” Aussa told her sister. “It’s impossible to have it both ways.”
Aryda’s expression was conflicted over what to do as she tried to think of a comeback for Aussa’s comment, but when she couldn’t think of anything, she just reached over and snatched Aussa’s bag of rock candy, then sprinted away.
“Hey! That’s my candy!” Aussa shouted after Aryda and jumped over the couch to run after her.
Being suddenly left in the living room on his own, Dante laughed a little more at his two sisters as they squabbled over the candy. “It’s always something in this house.” He noted to himself, then stood up and walked out of the living room.

* * *

Having just arrived at the LIGHT family mansion, Lyna opened the front door and entered the foyer of her home. “I’m home.” Lyna called out into the house.
“I’m with mom, Lyna.” Responded Milla’s voice.
Hearing Milla say that, Lyna quickly walked through the mansion until she came to the door to her mother’s bedroom. Opening the door, she found the room dimly lit, unlike the rest of the house. Most of the light in the room was being supplied by Milla’s magic staff set against the wall, which illuminated her as she sat in a chair with a bowl of soup on a tray in her lap, and in front of her was their mother sitting up in her bed. The light from Milla’s staff showed that their mother’s complexion was slightly pale, but even so, she was smiling at Lyna, and Lyna smiled back.
“Welcome back Lyna.” Lyna’s mother, Sybil, told her daughter.
“Hi mom, how are you feeling today?” Lyna asked with a smile and walked up to the side of her bed next to Milla, who took a spoon of the soup in her lap and put it to her mother’s mouth, feeding her.
After sipping the soup from the spoon, Sybil answered Lyna. “I’m quite alright. Just a little weaker than yesterday.”
“I see,” Lyna muttered, but didn’t lose her warm smile.
Lyna’s mother, as of a couple months ago, had become ill. Since then, her body had been getting weaker and weaker, until she became bedridden. Even now, her body was becoming weaker and weaker with each passing day, and it was obvious to them all what lied at the end of degradation. But even though they all knew what it meant would happen, they did not let it deter them or affect their attitudes. It wasn’t that they were all hiding their sadness, but that they did not let this make them feel sadness.
That just went to show how strong-willed the LIGHT family was. They wouldn’t let the sad truth they were not immortal get them down. It was a fact of life they could do nothing about, so they would not let something that had always been out of their control from the beginning be a reason to grieve. And so the LIGHT family moved on with their lives with smiles on their faces.
Looking at her youngest daughter, Sybil questioned Lyna about her day. “So how was school today Lyna?”
“It was great, everyone’s really improving their skills.” Lyna answered.
Milla fed her mother more soup and joined the conversation. “And how’s Dharc doing these days?”
“Really good!” Lyna was happy to report. “These last few days especially, Dharc really seems to becoming more inclusive with the others.”
“That’s great to hear.” Milla replied.
“Indeed, wonderful news.” Sybil agreed, and then began to ask Lyna to do something. “Lyna... how about you invite Dharc over for dinner tomorrow?” She asked.
“Eh?” Lyna was a bit surprised by the request.
Though the LIGHT family could deal with this situation well, they knew that the other Charmer families were not as optimistic. The others would make a big deal out of Sybil’s condition when they didn’t want it to be made one. To avoid that, the LIGHT family had not told anyone else about Sybil’s condition yet. And so Sybil requesting that Dharc be brought over was something Lyna was quite hesitant to do.
“Please, Lyna?” Sybil pleaded with her daughter. “I’d like to see at least one of my sister’s children before it’s too late.”
Hearing something like that, it became very difficult for Lyna to try and turn her mother down. It sounded like a final request of sorts, so really, how could she possibly say no? For the first time, Lyna‘s smile vanished for a moment. “Alright...” Lyna nodded, and then restored her smile just as quickly as she had lost it. “If it will make you happy, of course.”
“Thank you, Lyna.” Sybil thanked her daughter.
With that, Lyna reached up to her mother and gave her a warm hug. “I love you, mother.”
Placing one hand on Lyna’s head, Sybil lightly kissed her daughter’s forehead. “I love you too, Lyna.”
“Alright Lyna,” Milla spoke up again. “I’ll take care of mom, so you go and get something for dinner.”
“Alright,” Lyna nodded and left her mother’s room smiling.

* * *

At the WIND family mansion, tonight’s dinner was a means of celebration. As such, the family sitting around the table all raised their glasses and made a toast by clanking them together in the center of the rounded table with a cheer. “Congratulations, Windaar!” The family all shouted out together.
The celebration was to congratulate the family’s eldest son, Windaar, who as of yesterday, was given the position of WIND Tribute Charmer. It was a great day for the family, and so they wanted to celebrate the occasion.
“Everyone, I kept saying that you shouldn’t make a big deal out of this.” Windaar said to his family. “It’s not like I’m that excited to be taking the position.” He noted, though it was something they all already knew.
“Well big bro, guess what; it actually doesn’t matter if you’re excited about it or not.” Winda, the eldest daughter, told her brother. “We are excited about it, so like it or not, we are going to celebrate you.”
“Winda... you shouldn’t say such obvious lies.” Windaar retorted to his sister, who reacted surprised to his accusation. “You and I both know that your actually celebrating your own promotion to Tribute Charmer, not mine. Everyone knows that I’m planning to pass the title on to you in a few years, and that’s what you’re really excited about.”
“Hey, that’s only half-true!” Winda complained. “I’m still excited for you; even if I am picturing me on that seat in the back of my mind.” She fused, crossing her arms and shutting her eyes as if aggravated with Windaar. However, Winda glanced back at her brother who appeared unconcerned by her pout which immediately became a joking smile and she put one on her brother’s shoulders. “Well, whatever right?”
“Right...” Windaar replied and pushed Winda’s head to get her off him.
On the other side of the table, Wynn noticed that there was someone missing from the table. “Hey, where’s Reeze?” She asked her sister Caam next to her.
In response, Caam sighed. “Where do you think? She went off soloing again.” She told Wynn, sounding disappointed.
“What? Even though its Windaar’s celebration?” Wynn complained.
“It’s because of that she’s gone now.” Kamui chimed in. “To her, all Windaar becoming Tribute Charmer means is that she didn’t. She goes on these solo missions to try to ‘prove her worth’. She wants to Tribute Charmer so badly and thinks proving how strong she is will get her there.”
“But Reeze is just being reckless.” Hearing what those three were talking about, the father of the Gusto family, Musto, spoke up. “Strength is not what the Charmer Clans are built on. We are built on balance and understanding. No matter how strong Reeze becomes, if she cannot grasp that truth, she will never become the Tribute Charmer.
“But we needn’t talk about that right now. Even one short, this is still a celebration.” Their father concluded, placing one hand on Windaar’s shoulder in pride of his son and successor.
With that said, the family raised their glasses and cheered for Windaar one more time. That is, with the exception of Wynn, who still wished Reeze was here with them.

* * *

Now eating a small dinner with her sister Houri, Hiita inquired onto the absence of the rest of the family. “So how come everyone else is gone?”
Houri gave a bit of a sigh at that question. “It’s a big one, Hiita. A major problem has erupted that goes beyond the usual everyday disputes you’re used to hearing about. We needed to send as much firepower as possible for this. Even I’m leaving after dinner; I just stayed behind to let you know what was going on.”
“Seriously!?” Hiita just about shouted. “How long will you be gone?”
“Hard to say, really.” Houri replied. “Like I said, it’s big. We haven’t seen anything even get this bad since before the war. It’s a little sad to think that means people are starting to forget about it.”
“Yeah, maybe, but... don’t you think it could also be viewed as a positive thing?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that if there are situations getting this bad, then maybe it’s not that their forgetting about the war as much as they are moving past it.” Giving that kind of possibility, Houri looked slightly intrigued. “If you ask me, I don’t think the conflicts we deal with were minimized because people were reflecting on their actions and deciding to behave better. I think they might have just been living in fear that anything they did would look worse than it was and get them persecuted as a terrorist.
“If that is the case, then the fact there’s a problem this big showing up again means that people have started to move past all that and have stopped living in fear.”
“Wow...” Houri muttered after hearing Hiita’s words. “I’ve never thought about it like that before.”
“Well, it’s still just a possibility; I could be wrong.” Hiita admitted.
“Whether or not its right, it’s pretty insightful; especially for you.” Houri told her sister.
But when Houri said that last part, Hiita‘s eyebrow twitched. “And just what is that supposed to mean?” She questioned, giving her sister a very dark glare.
That glare on its own was enough to make Houri immediately regret her choice of words. “N-nothing, nothing at all. Just a bad choice of words.” She said shakily with a nervous laugh, and then tried to escape Hiita’s glare by quickly changing the subject. “S-so, how are you coming along with you matches against Eria?”
“Very well if I do say so myself.” Hiita replied proudly, leaving her dark glare behind impossibly fast. “I’ve made some serious progress in the last few days.”
“Really?” Houri asked with an impressed tone. “Glad to hear your doing so well.”
Of course when Hiita said she was making progress, she was referring entirely to the planning and documentations she had drawn up in the Study rather than to any advancement made in her actual battles; as she was holding back in those. “You bet your spicy bean dip I am.” Hiita told her sister in response to her praise, while at the same time sticking a chip into Houri’s aforementioned spicy bean dip and taking a bite.
Houri and Hiita then laughed together at that and continued to eat their dinner; and once finished, Houri got her things together and left to catch up with the rest of the family that had left earlier.

* * *

Dinner had concluded at the WATER family mansion, and the members of the household were left to themselves to do as they wished until night. As for Ariel, she had gone immediately from the dining hall to her bedroom. However, she was not going to sleep just yet. Ariel entered her room and closed the door behind her. When she did, she then turned and faced the corner of the room that would have been hidden by the door when opened, and standing there was Gishki Vanity.
Just like when the two had exchanged glances at dinner, the two members of the Gishki household looked at one another with eyes that displayed no emotion. They were not attempting to communicate silently this time. Instead, that was just how serious the two of them were because of the circumstances they were meeting under.
“So, you’ve finally concluded you investigation?” Ariel questioned Vanity, being vague as to the purpose of the said ‘investigation’.
Nodding, Vanity responded, “I have.”
“And...? What were the results?”
“It is just as we suspected.” Vanity answered. “Your parents... did not die of natural causes.”
“And the culprit? Is that too as we suspected?” Ariel asked one more question.
“Yes,” Vanity answered without hesitation. “And I have the evidence to prove it.”

* * *

The next day, after class finished, the moment of truth came for Aussa, Eria, and most importantly, Hiita. As the bet between Aussa and Eria included Hiita, she had already been informed about the rulings and standings, so she knew that depending on how this match went, one of the two would be serving her for a day. In a way, it sounded like a win-win situation for Hiita, but that was not how she viewed it.
As everyone had assumed she would, Hiita did not take kindly to Aussa’s lack of belief in her skill. So that made Hiita want to do as well as she and Eria believed she would so that she could give Aussa a little pay back. And in any case, Hiita had been confident she would be able to do much better today before knowing about the bet, so if she really couldn’t pull it off, she would feel like she let herself down.
And so at this time, Eria faced off against Hiita while the rest watched intently from the sidelines to see the outcome. “Alright then, both of you ready?” Aussa called out, going to call the beginning of the match.
“Ready,” Eria called back.
“Ready,” Hiita said as well.
“Alright then,” Aussa began. “Ready... Set... Start!” She shouted out to signify the beginning of the match.
When the match began, Hiita acted instantly. She charged a ball of fire with her staff and shot it at Eria in a straight-forward attack, just like all the days before... Or at least that was what the others had been expecting.
But things were not as simple as that this time. Despite Aussa having called the match, there was nothing. No action occurred on either side, neither Eria nor Hiita took so much as a step forward or backward. Neither one channeled their magic through their staffs, and neither one so much as blinked while staring the other down.
It took a second due to the surprise she hadn’t started immediately, but Aussa went into shock as she realized what Hiita was doing. (She... she’s waiting for Eria to make the first move!) And with that realization, Aussa suddenly found herself in a desperate need to recalculate her previous formula for Hiita’s chances at doing well against Eria today.
In Aussa’s belief that no matter how much Hiita planned her strategy against Eria over the past several days, not once had she thought of Hiita not initiating the battle. In the grand scheme of things, it seemed like such an insignificant detail, but for this one match today, it may have been just about everything.
No matter how good Hiita had become, if she were the one who attacked first, Eria would be able to read each and everyone of the strikes that would follow and dodge or block them all accordingly. But all of that changed if Eria was the one who had to make the first move.
If Eria made the first attack, it opened a whole new pattern of attack for Hiita to take. If Eria attacked first, Hiita would start off on defense. And just as Eria had handled being on defense from the start in all the previous matches, Hiita could watch the movements of her opponent and see when, after each strike, the best moment to strike back would be.
If Eria was the one to attack first, everything Aussa had expected out of this match was completely invalid. There was no telling just how well Hiita could do in this match now that she was forcing Eria to take the first move.
It was just one detail, but it was that overturning because it was not just any detail: it was the first detail. If the first detail was completely wrong, how could anything thought up afterward hold any kind of relevance at all?
Eria however, had expected this very situation to occur. Eria knew just from watching subtle changes in Hiita’s assaults each day that she was moving toward a defensive style. With each day, Hiita had become more focused on keeping her from striking back rather than simply getting a hit in. It was something that only Eria could have noticed as the person being attacked, but each day she noticed that there was not as much effort in Hiita’s attacks, and so she knew that it was going to lead up to this.
Because her belief had turned out to be completely correct, Eria grinned and gripped her staff. As Eria began charing her magic into that staff, she spoke to Hiita. “If that’s the way you want it, I’ve got no choice.” And with that, Eria swung her magic staff and a whip of water extended from the tip to strike at Hiita.
Some might have said that Eria didn’t have to make the first move even in that situation. They would have said that they knew Hiita was too impatient, and if Eria just didn’t take the offensive as she wanted, Hiita would succumb to her own personality and strike first anyways. However, those present to witness the fight knew another aspect of Hiita’s personality that far surpassed her impatience.
And that was her stubbornness. Hiita was far more stubborn than she was impatient. And what that meant was that if Hiita wanted to achieve something hard enough, there was no limit to the lengths she would go in order to get it done. So it didn’t matter how impatient Hiita was with Eria; because of her unyielding drive to succeed, there wasn’t a chance Hiita would ever give in and make the first move, even if the two of them were to stand there ‘till sunset.
Even Aussa realized that, which was why she didn’t feel like Eria was going easy on Hiita to win the bet. If it didn’t matter, there was no point in trying. So the only option available to Eria once Hiita had decided not to take the first move was to take it herself.
The whip of water stretched out to strike Hiita’s cheek. But once it got there, Hiita lowered her body and got under the attack. It was at that moment that she made her own move. Hiita charged a small fireball with her magic staff and threw it directly ahead at Eria’s feet. If that attack struck its target, Eria would be thrown completely off-balance and open her up to a much more powerful assault.
Because she knew that, Eria dropped her water whip and jumped up to the side. However, Hiita did not wait for Eria’s feet to land back on the ground. Hiita immediately began charging another fireball and shot it at Eria again. As she was in the air, Eria had no means of dodging. So instead, she created a barrier of water in front of her, and the barrier canceled out Hiita’s flame.
Eria’s feet touched the ground and she immediately took action. Eria manipulated the wall of water she had generated and fired it off as a surge at Hiita. If Eria tried to stay on the defensive at this point, Hiita would find a way either around it or through it. But if she could gain a clear dominance in offense for ever a moment or two, Eria could return to her usual defensive patterns again.
Technically, Eria was fighting to make Aussa the winner of the bet, but it was only by going all out that Eria could truly show Aussa how wrong she had been if Hiita did succeed in keeping Eria on the offensive.
The torrent of water headed directly for Hiita, but she did not attempt to dodge. Instead, Hiita charged more magic into her staff and kept the fireball it crafted on the end of it. When the torrent got close, Hiita swung her staff and made her fireball collide directly with it. What this ended up causing was a speed evaporation of the water and extinguishment of the flame. When this combination induced was a steam-smokescreen that hid Hiita from view.
This combination would keep Eria from seeing where her next attack would come from until it was almost too late. Because of that, Eria watched and waited until a firball was launched at her, but it did not come from directly in front of her. Instead, it came down at her from a higher angle. Hiita must have jumped to get that angle for a surprise attack, and just one second later, another fireball came, and this one was from directly in front of Eria.
Eria thought fast and charged magic through her staff. Quickly, Eria swung her staff in an overarching path and a whip of water stretched out. First the whip struck the fireball coming down from an angle and sliced in right in two. Something like that wouldn’t have been possible if they had been controlling actual fire and water; but because they were using fire and water crafter through raw magic energy, something like that was possible.
Eria’s water whip continued down and sliced the second incoming fireball as well. With that, both halved fireballs passed by Eria on both sides of her without actually hitting her. However, the true scheme behind those two attacks was revealed immediately when Eria did that.
Eria had had to focus so much on stopping the two fireballs that she had been unable to notice that Hiita had actually been approaching Eria just behind her second attack to get into a close-quarters space. Hiita got up close to Eria because of that and swung her staff at Eria as a melee attack instead of a magical one.
In response to this move, Eria didn’t have enough to do anything but move on instinct. Eria raised her own staff from where it was and blocked Hiita’s strike and then impulsively lifted her leg and kicked Hiita in the gut.
The kick caused Hiita to buckle for a moment and gave just a second of vulnerability. Eria knew that she couldn’t afford to waste it and made another water whip and swung it down on Hiita’s head. With that strike, Hiita fell face first into the ground and completely lost her edge.
With Hiita like that, Eria placed her foot on Hiita’s back and pointed her staff at the back of her head. “Got ya’.” She proclaimed with a smile, but was also breathing a little heavier than usual.
Having witnessed that spectacle that she had not at all been expecting, Aussa was slow to announce the end of the match. “W-winner, um... E-Eria.” She got out while shakily raising her hand to motion to Eria.
That statement was also meant in more than one way. Aussa had reluctantly just declared that Eria was the winner of both her match with Hiita and the bet with her. As Eria had predicted, Hiita had gotten to such a level with her planning that Eria had not been allowed the luxury of staying on defense. In order to still win, Eria was forced to take a much faster and more offensive strategy. If she had not, Hiita would have overcome her.
With her victory announced, Eria stepped off Hiita and and helped her off the ground. “Great job Hiita.” She complimented her friend.
“Just one slip up on your part would have meant victory for me in that match. But I’m glad you didn’t, because I don’t want to beat you by a fluke.” Hiita said. “When I beat you, it’ll be because I’ve truly surpassed you.”
“Yeah, I’ll be looking forward to it.” Eria told her with an honest smile.
With that matter said and done, Hiita stretched her back out a little and turned toward Aussa, getting on to the next matter. “Now then, regarding your bet Aussa...” Hiita spoke with dark intent, which struck fear into Aussa’s very soul as she recalled her last time serving Hiita again and knowing that she would get pushed even harder this time because of the circumstances.
“Make sure to be at my house exactly at midnight. I’m making sure to get the full day’s worth out of you this time.” Hiita spoke while walking closer to Aussa with an evil glare, which to Aussa made hear so afraid that it felt like Hiita was a giant standing over her. “I wonder what I’ll have you do first... hm, what did you tell Eria again... oh that’s right: ‘enjoy cleaning my whole mansion with nothing but a toothbrush.’ Was it?”
Hearing that, Aussa twitched in surprise. “H-how do- Eria!?” Aussa looked to Eria, wondering if she had told Hiita about her saying that, as Hiita had not been there to hear it herself.
Hiita however denied it. “Don’t be silly, Eria would never sell you out like that.”
“But then... how-”
“Dharc told me.” Hiita answered before Aussa finished her question.
“Eh...” Aussa sounded confused, and turned toward Dharc who was looking to the side nonchalantly. “Dharc did?” She questioned.
Somehow she found it out of character for Dharc to go out of his way to do something like that, so much so that it wasn’t just Aussa surprised by it. Eria, Wynn, and Lyna were also staring at Dharc with surprise now. “No way...” Eria muttered. “Is Dharc... getting a sense of humor?”
At that time, Hiita turned around and began walking away. “Remember Aussa, be at my house exactly at midnight. Oh, and make sure to bring your personal toothbrush for the job.”
“Eh!?” Aussa’s attention was once more taken in by Hiita when she said that and what it entailed for afterward. “EHHHHH!!!???” She shouted, and then pretty much just collapsed lifeless onto the floor. (It’s over. I’m gonna’ die. Hiita’s going to work me to death.) She couldn’t help but think that.
After getting over Dharc apparent gain in a sense of humor, Wynn recalled something. “So Dharc, what was the reason you so sure Eria would win the bet?”
Dharc looked back to Wynn when she asked that and then answered. “I was sure Hiita had a plan. Eria must have known it too. If Eria was that sure about it, I knew she was right.”
“Wow...” Wynn whispered.
She found it amazing just how much Dharc seemed to have opened up to them over the last week. He must have been trying really hard for Lyna. “Well, bye then.” Eria said, heading back home as well.
“Yeah, I guess we should all get going too.” Wynn said, and she and Dharc began to leave as well.
“Oh, wait a second Dharc.” Lyna stopped Dharc.
“What is it?” Dharc questioned.
“Um... would you please come over for dinner tonight?” Lyna asked Dharc as her mother had requested yesterday.
Dharc was a little surprised by the sudden request, but he could never say no to Lyna. “Sure,” He answered simply. With that answer, Lyna smiled and they both began walking back to the LIGHT family mansion.
And with everyone else gone, Aussa was left traumatized on the ground, thinking about the horrors that awaited her at Hiita’s. (I’m dead...) And as she lay there, that single thought continued to run through her head.

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Hippocampus
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Name: Theodore Tsakiris
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:05 am

This chapter surpasses the first. I'm not sure if I like the abundance of new characters you added, but you did leave the Gishki plot on a good cliffhanger, and I'm definitely wanting to read what happens next. Great job.

Also I think it's funny how the Charmers all like candy so much XP

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[19:31:10 25/01/14] Corrupted Charmer, Y : We opened a new world
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[07:24:14] Runo : "The day when Hippocampus joined Charmers Community, he also lost his precious sleep time for sure."

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Binding Dharc
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:25 pm

Just to be clear, when you say 'abundance of new characters' are you talking about introducing all the family members as a whole or are you only talking about the OC's I added in?

If it's the former, its just that this entire chapter was strictly made to introduce their families and give you a sense of their everyday life, just as the first chapter was made strictly to introduce the Charmers as the main characters and give you a sense of what their relationships with one another were.

If it's the latter, the reason for that was just so I could show a family. They are actually Temps, the names will be subbed out if and when the real cards come out.

I'm glad your liking it so far, and as for the sweets thing: they may be supernatural lords of the elements, but they are still kids. And kids. Like. Sweets.
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:48 pm

Binding Dharc wrote:
Just to be clear, when you say 'abundance of new characters' are you talking about introducing all the family members as a whole or are you only talking about the OC's I added in?

If it's the former, its just that this entire chapter was strictly made to introduce their families and give you a sense of their everyday life, just as the first chapter was made strictly to introduce the Charmers as the main characters and give you a sense of what their relationships with one another were.

If it's the latter, the reason for that was just so I could show a family. They are actually Temps, the names will be subbed out if and when the real cards come out.
It was the former, mainly because I was expecting more of a focus on the charmers themselves again. But your reason makes a lot of sense. I actually didn't mind the temps or their names. Honestly, Wynn's section seemed the least developed because you didn't give it a major plot like Hiita's or Eria's, and you didn't need to spend much time describing the characters like Lyna's or Aussa's. And of course, you haven't even shown us where Dharc lives... but that is exciting in its own right Smile

Binding Dharc wrote:
as for the sweets thing: they may be supernatural lords of the elements, but they are still kids. And kids. Like. Sweets.
Haha true, but I would've expected at least one person to be eating like potato chips or something.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:53 pm

Hippocampus wrote:
And of course, you haven't even shown us where Dharc lives... but that is exciting in its own right
Which was exactly the point of not showing it.

Hippocampus wrote:
Haha true, but I would've expected at least one person to be eating like potato chips or something.
Well neither Eria or Hiita got a snack at that time since they were the ones being watched, I could see Hiita chowing down on some BBQ potato chips.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:26 am

Awesome fanfic bro, i need to make one too. (If my lazy ass permit....)

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:31 pm

I'm glad you're liking it TheFael, and good luck on yours.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:09 pm

Chapter 3:Extended Family Business
In the WATER family mansion, the family was eating dinner with each other. But this time - through the encouraged insistence of Eria, Emilia, and Avance - Vanity had joined them at the table. While the group ate together, Vanity glanced over to Ariel, whose eyes passed by his for a moment in the same manner they had the previous day. Vanity had said he had proven that Ariel’s parents did not die of natural causes and could prove who did it. Normally, they would have called for a trial to be held in regards to the the crime, but it was currently impossible to do so.
When a trial was to be held by the Charmer Clans, the six Tribute Charmers were to be the Jury. However, just this morning Vanity and Ariel learned that entire FIRE family had left to handle a critical situation. Because the FIRE Tribute Charmer was gone, even if they did plea for the trial, they would not be able to hold it until he returned. Under normal circumstances, in the case one of the Tribute Charmers was missing like now, Elemental Mistress Doriado would step in and fill their seat, but this case would not be able to work with that method because it was an internal affair.
In the event that a trail held by the Charmer Clans also directly involved members of the Charmer Clan, whether as a victim or a suspect, Mistress Doriado would preside over the court and deliver the final verdict and punishment once the Tribute Charmers made their decision. And so Because of all the complications this case had, Ariel and Vanity had decided to wait until the Fire Charmer family returned to announce their findings.
After a moment, Noellia looked to Eria and began speaking. “So Eria. How have your lessons been going lately?” She asked, inquiring into Eria’s progress.
“It’s been going very well Madam.” Eria answered her step-mother formally. “Mistress Doriado even said we would be moving on to the next course level soon.”
Hearing that news, Emilia lit up in delight. “Wow, that’s great Eria! You’re really moving through the lessons quickly.”
“Thank you.” Eria replied to Emilia. “The others and I are really working well together lately.”
“Really?” Noellia however sounded skeptical for some reason. “I hear you’ve been getting into quarrels with the Fire Charmer after class recently.” She said.
But Eria explained defensively. “Hiita and I aren’t ‘quarreling’!” She said, but then realized her tone of voice and returned it to the respectful one it should be. “We’re just having friendly matches Madam- personal training.”
“Putting in extra effort outside the classroom is all well and good; but if you need a sparring partner, I’m sure one of your siblings would be happy to assist you.” Noellia told Eria, as if trying to put a stop to Eria’s matches with Hiita without directly forbidding it.
Hearing that tone of disapproval, Eria attempted to defend herself. “But-”
“I don’t see the problem with it.” However, Ariel cut in to defend it instead. “I myself had a number of bouts against my classmates to better our skills.” She explained. “This kind of exercise is also good for team building. Fighting against one another will allow Eria and her classmates to understand each other, and in the future when they have to fight alongside one another, their teamwork will be much better, because they will already know how the other moves.”
Hearing this valid argument, Noellia eyed Ariel suspiciously. This was the second day in a row Ariel had refuted something she said, as if she meant to deliberately undermine her authority. “I see, very well then.” She said simply, acknowledging Ariel’s point and ending the conversation, and the family and servant continued to eat in silence.

* * *

Returning to her currently empty home, Hiita didn’t waste the time looking around for anyone and walked straight from the door to the living area, where she plopped down on the sofa, and relaxed for a while, thinking back on her match with Eria. “Well, it’s not like I expected to beat her today, but I still wish I had lasted longer.” She muttered to herself, and rubbed her stomach where Eria had kicked her. “Oh well, I’ve just got to better next time.” She told herself, and grinned as her thoughts drifted from Eria to Aussa, and all she would make her do tomorrow.

* * *

Arriving at the LIGHT family mansion, Lyna opened up the gate and led Dharc through the entrance and to the dining hall. When they came in, Milla walked by as well. “Ah, hey there Dharc.” She greeted him.
Dharc nodded to her. “Hi Milla. Where are the others?” He questioned.
Smiling, Milla answered. “Mom’s in her room right now, Nadia and Kiran are training out back. Mind going to get them for me? I’ll bring Mom out in just a minute.” She asked them and then went down the hall toward her mother’s room.
Making her way toward the backyard, Lyna pulled on Dharc’s wrist. “Come say hi to them.” She said, and led him along with her. Reaching the back door, she opened it up and called out to the two sparring with each other near the tree in the yard. “Hey! Nadia, Kiran! Come on in and greet our guest!”
Hearing her shouts, the white haired spellcasters looked over and saw Lyna with Dharc. When they did, they smiled at him and rushed over. “Hey there Dharc, it’s been a while.” Kiran said, laying his hand on Dharc’s shoulder.
“It’s good to see you again, how have you been?” Nadia asked, and she smiled at him warmly.
Kiran and Nadia were twins, and it showed despite being of opposite gender. They were older than Lyna and younger than Milla, and both were very driven to become stronger. “I’m fine,” Dharc answered Nadia.
“Glad to hear it.” Nadia said.
“Okay, come on.” Lyna interjected. “Let’s get to the dinner table.” She said, and Kiran and Nadia nodded in agreement.
As the four of them walked back into the dining hall, they also saw Milla bringing her mother in, supporting her frail form with both arms as they walked slowly through. Seeing his Aunt’s weak state, Dharc commented. “Aunt Sybil! What happened to you?” He asked.
But Dharc had reacted so quickly he surprised himself with how much concern was in his voice. It was already known that although he was related to everyone here, Lyna was still the only one he really saw as ‘family’ and truly cared for. So he actually surprised him that he had been as worried about his Aunt’s condition as he was, although it certainly was a shock.
And by the looks of her, this wasn’t just a fleeting flu. It appeared that Sybil must have been sick for quite a while, and yet Dharc and his family had never heard about it. “Don’t sound so concerned, Dharc.” Sybil said calmly in response to Dharc’s inquiry as Milla sat her down in her chair at the table. “It’s a natural part of life.”
Dharc meant to say something else, but his mind went blank for a moment. ‘A natural part of life’; Sybil truly sounded perfectly contempt with her current condition. The smile on her face as she looked at Dharc was devoid of deceit and worry. She wasn’t afraid of death. And then, as Dharc noticed everyone else looking at him, he saw that they too were unafraid.
Realizing this, he looked to Lyna. “Is this why you asked me over?” He asked her.
With a nod, Lyna replied, “Yes... Mom asked me to invite you over.”
“Aunt Sybil asked you to? Why?” Dharc questioned.
“Because I wanted to see at least one of my sister’s children before I went.” Sybil answered.
“But then... why me?” Dharc asked hearing that reason, as his siblings would likely.
“Because...” Sybil began. “Because although I wanted to see one of you, I still want it kept a secret.” She told Dharc, and then he understood her choice. “I’m not sure how the others would feel, but I believe I can safely ask you to keep this a secret from anyone else.”
She definitely had a point. If Sybil had asked any of Dharc’s siblings over to tell them this, he had a good idea how they would react. Even if they promised to keep it secret, they would have told the rest of the family, and eventually it would have found its way to the rest of the clan. But Dharc was different, if Sybil didn’t want anyone else to know about her condition, he wouldn’t say anything. For Lyna’s peace of mind, if nothing else.
“Alright, I won’t say anything.” He said and took a seat at the table between Sybil and Lyna as Milla went back to the kitchen for the food. Against his better judgment, Dharc looked at his Aunt and asked, “How long have you been like this?”
Looking back at him with a soft smile, Sybil answered. “I developed the illness about 9 months ago. Ever since then, I’ve been progressively getting sicker and sicker.”
“And... how much longer do you have?” Dharc inquired further as Milla began bringing out the food.
“It’s hard to say.” Sybil answered. “Could be a week; could be a month. At best, I’d say two months.”
Hearing that, Dharc looked down as Milla put a bowl of hot soup in front of her mother, and then a plate of chicken legs in front of him. Then, Dharc shifted his gaze to Lyna, who was watching him quietly. Nervousness had sneaked its way into Lyna’s smile, but that was because she was worried about Dharc, not her mother. Lyna and her family were truly strong to be so natural in the face of loosing a family member, although in a way Dharc could understand how they saw it.
Death was an unavoidable part of life. Eventually, everyone fell. And though losing someone to war or murder - to be taken before their time - was certainly an event worthy of mourning; if someone died from illness or old age - things outside anyone’s control - then was there really anything to regret?
As an inevitable fate they had all known would come eventually, why should they cry, why should they curse life when it was always there? Dharc understood this as well as the LIGHT family, so he realized he shouldn’t show sorrow around them. Thinking this, Dharc gave Lyna a smile that communicated how he felt to her, and she sighed silently in relief as the nervousness left her expression. With the initial shock of his Aunt’s condition out of his system, Dharc turned to his food and began eating.
After a moment of silent as the family began to eat, Kiran opened up a new topic. “So Dharc, how’s everyone on your side been doing lately?” He asked, inquiring into the DARK family’s state of affairs.
“They’re okay.” Dharc answered simply.
“I heard things are getting pretty heated up in the FIRE side.” Kiran added. “You’re family hasn’t had to deal with anything like that have they?”
To this, Dharc shook his head. “No, just small disputes every now and then; nothing major yet.”
“‘Yet’ being the keyword.” Milla noted. “If things have started to get bad in the FIRE lands, then it’s only a matter of time before things get serious all over.”
“I hope things can stay peaceful around here for a while longer though.” Nadia said. “It would be bad if something happened while Mom isn’t able to deal with it properly.”
“That’s a nice thought.” Sybil smiled peacefully when Nadia said that. “To pass without having to worry about any responsibilities I’m leaving behind.”
Seeing their mother smile happily as that, her children smiled as well. “I hope you get that, Mom.”
After another moment of blissful silence, the family members turned back to their food and continued their meal, and Dharc silently marveled at their strength once again.

* * *

Wynn had returned to her family mansion and eaten dinner, but was depressed when she found that Reeze had still not returned from her soloing yesterday. The rest of the family were still patting Windaar on the back for his promotion, and it was probably the knowledge that they would be doing so that Reeze hadn’t come back yet.
Kaumi had spent a good portion of dinner trying to cheer Wynn up and get her mind off it, but it hadn’t worked. Wynn wanted so much for Reeze to get along with the rest of the family without thinking about the title of Tribute Charmer. In Wynn’s opinion, it was causing more trouble than it was worth. Was being the Tribute Charmer really so amazing that it was worth all the internal strife it caused? Was it worth risking their family bonds over just to obtain?
Wynn couldn’t see how that could be true, and left the dining hall early to go to bed. However, just a minute after leaving the dining hall, Reeze walked in from around the corner, and stopped when she saw Wynn. “Reeze, you’re back!” Wynn said joyfully, and ran up to hug her sister.
Stumbling a bit when hit by her sister’s hug, Reeze grinned ruefully and patted Wynn’s head. “Hey there Wynn.”
“I’m glad you’re back.” Wynn said as she smiled up at Reeze without breaking her smile. “Everyone else is still eating dinner if you want to say hi.”
At that suggestion though, Reeze’s smile vanished. “I don’t think so; I’m just going to hit the hay.” She told Wynn, and with a short glance at the dining hall door, pulled Wynn off of her and turned away, heading toward the stairs.
With that response, Wynn’s smile became an expression of depression once more. She looked after Reeze for a moment in silence, and then dropped her head to look at the ground, tears forming in her eyes. Reeze had almost walked the whole length of the hall when suddenly, she heard Wynn suddenly scream out. “WHY IS BEING TRIBUTE CHARMER SO IMPORTANT TO YOU!?”
When Reeze heard the usually soft-spoken Wynn scream out like that, it caused her to immediately whirl around just in time to see Wynn crying with an angered expression before the young girl turned and ran off in the opposite direction. Reeze had been stunned by Wynn’s reaction and was struck in her pride by her words.
In that state, Reeze could do nothing but stand and stare after Wynn as she ran off and turned a corner. It was at that moment the dining room door opened up and Winda peered outside to figure out what had caused Wynn to shout, and when she saw Reeze standing bewildered, she put two and two together and glared at her sister, and the other family members came into the hall and looked at her as well, including their father, who folded his arms and gave Reeze a disapproving look.
Put in that awkward position, Reeze looked down to avoid their gazes and bit her lip. She wasn’t sure what to expect until her father spoke to the rest of the family. “Go back inside everyone.” He told them, and Windaar, Winda, Caam, and Kamui all reentered the dining hall and closed the door. Returning his gaze to Reeze, Musto continued. “Reeze, I think we need to have a talk.” He told her, and then walked over to her, grabbing her arm and leading her away.

* * *

Finally picking herself up to drag her way home, Aussa walked through the door of mansion and was greeted soon after by the sound of her brother’s cynical voice. “From the look on your face, I’m guessing you lost your bet with Eria?” He asked her, leaning against a nearby wall with a pleased smirk on his face.
With a sigh, Aussa pushed her glasses up and spoke. “I’m so not in the mood right now Aryda.” She said, and her words were obviously not directed at her brother in front of her.
When she said that though, Aryda’s voice sounded above her. “Awwww, come on.” She pouted, jumping down from the edge of small ledge over the door and sulking away.
“So what went wrong Aussa?” Dante asked as Aryda passed him. “Weren’t you certain Hiita wouldn’t be able to do that good in one day?”
With an annoyed scowl, Aussa turned away from her brother and took a step down the hall. “I had a miscalculation from the very start.” She answered regrettably. “Hiita waited for Eria to strike first.”
Hearing that, Dante raised his eyebrows for a second before beginning to laugh. “Oh man!” He exclaimed. “I think ‘miscalculated’ might be an understatement if that’s what happened Aussa. You just straight screwed up!”
“Hey!” Aussa turned on Dante in a bit of fury at being told that.
“Well come on Aussa, aren’t we always telling you to make sure you think through ALL the scenarios before assuming?” He asked, still smiling. “That was the first detail, you should have thought of that possibility right off the bat.”
Aussa wanted to retort that statement, but she knew he was right, and so could do nothing but turn and stomp down the hall in embarrassment. “Whatever, just wake me up half till midnight. Hiita said she’s getting the whole day’s worth out of me.”
“Sure thing. But real quick,” Dante changed topics, and Aussa looked back to him. “What detection spell did you use to realize Aryda was over the doorway just now?”
Asked that question, Aussa sighed for some reason. “Actually, I had no idea where she was.” She admitted. “I just said that in case she was nearby and about to hit me; because like I said, I’m not in the mood.
“You can go ahead and tell her that, but she’s got to figure out why I couldn’t detect her there on her own.” Aussa said, turning away from her brother again and walking away.
“So now she’s got a chance at getting you? This might just get interesting.” Dante said, and then turned into the living room while Aussa went to go sleep.

* * *

With dinner over, the water family dispersed to do their own things. As for Eria, she went off into the garden behind the mansion. The garden, along with plentiful greenery and flowering bushes, had a system of small streams running all throughout it. And as Eria approached one of these streams, Gigobyte appeared from the side and came to her side.
“Hi Gigo.” Eria greeted her familiar, who spoke to her in his inhuman dialect. “Yes, Hiita did very well today.” She told Gigobyte.
Then, reaching the edge of a stream, Eria bent down and placed the tips of her fingers in the water, sending ripples through the water. After a moment like that, a small figure swam up the stream to Eria, and then jumped from the water, landing next to the young spellcaster.
The small form was one of the family familiars, Reliever. More specifically, Reliever was the familiar of Eria’s deceased mother. Since her passing, Reliever had been put under Ariel’s command, but Eria still saw Reliever as a piece of her mother; and the only connection she still had with her.
“Hi Reliever...” Eria whispered, putting a hand on the small fish’s head as she smiled gently. Reliever responded in the same tongue as Gigobyte, and Eria replied, “Uh huh, class has been really fun lately.”
Just then, someone else walked into the garden from the mansion. Noticing his presence, Eria turned and saw Vanity standing before her. But this was not a surprise to Eria at all, and she smiled up at him. With a nod in return, Vanity brought his fingers to his mouth and blew a short whistle.
Vanity came back into the garden just as often as Eria did, and for much the same reason. In response to Vanity’s whistle, the familiar Beast - the one that had belonged to Eria’s father - came from within the garden. In the same way as Eria, Vanity felt a connection to his master through Beast, and in addition to that, he owed Beast his life just as much as he had owed Eria’s father.
The two had worked together to defeat the monster that had almost killed Vanity a child, so he was very close to Beast as well. Putting one hand on Beast’s head, Vanity also put his forehead against the familiar’s and looked into his eyes with serious expression that made Eria wonder. Vanity was always professional when assisting any member of the WATER family, but Eria had had the privilege of seeing Vanity’s soft side during the times they both visited the garden, so the look in Vanity’s eyes now seemed strange to her, it was like he was trying to tell Beast something without actually saying it.
And, as if understanding the silent request, Beast nodded subtly and Vanity stepped back. Beast turned and wandered back into the garden, and Vanity did likewise and went back for the mansion.
But before he did, Eria commented. “Vanity... is something wrong?” She asked him, a concerned look on her face.
Hearing her question, Vanity stopped in his tracks and paused there, not turning toward her. After a moment though, he turned to look at Eria over his shoulder and replied. “Do not worry yourself, young Eria. Everything is fine.” He told her, and then went into the mansion without saying any more.
But those words did not ease the tension Eria felt. If anything, it made it worse. Suddenly Eria felt like something dangerous was going on, and Vanity appeared to be in the midst of it. Eria stood up and placed a hand on her chest as she looked after Vanity, only brought from her trance when Gigobyte and Reliever made sure she was alright.
“No, he’ll be fine.” She replied, smiling at the familiars. Eria leaned down once more placed her hand tenderly on Reliever again. “I’ll come by again tomorrow.” She said, and then stood up and made her way back inside the mansion.

* * *

Wynn had run off and escaped to her bedroom. Lying on her side holding a pillow in her arms, the youngest of the WIND family muffled her crying and tried to force herself to sleep. But before that could happen, a knock came from the door, and it opened without waiting for a response.
Turning her head to look at which family member came to comfort her, as she was sure they all heard her yell from the hall, Wynn was a bit surprised to see that it was actually Reeze who stood in her doorway, with a look of regret on her face as she held on arm with the other. “Hey Wynn... can I come in?” She asked nervously.
However, Wynn didn’t respond. Instead, she just buried her face back into her pillow and pulled her sheets over her, as if trying to hide. Reeze made a barely audible sigh and closed the door behind her, leaving barely any light left to see within the room. Quietly, Reeze climbed into the bed with Wynn behind her and put one arm over her while placing the other hand on her little sister’s head.
For a moment neither one did or said anything, but finally a tiny voice breached Wynn’s pillow. “Why...?” She asked, obviously still in tears even through the muffling of the pillow. “Why can’t you just be happy for Windaar?”
Without moving or lifting her gentle hold on Wynn, Reeze gave a less than satisfactory answer. “I don’t really know.” She said, with a tone that sounded as though she were only now giving the question any thought at all.
“Why not?” Wynn questioned, the barely understandable tone of frustration coming through the pillow with her words.
“Because I never thought about a reason; I was just angry.” Reeze answered honestly. “I wanted to be the Tribute Charmer so much I blinded myself with it.”
For a moment there was a pause as Wynn tried to figure out what to make of those words. Then, she repeated the question she had screamed in the hall earlier. “Why is being Tribute Charmer so important to you?”
With that question now asked with the intent of receiving an answer, Reeze sighed again and rubbed Wynn’s head. “Because...” She began, but paused for a second to find the right words to express her reasons. “Because I want to prove myself.”
Finally, Wynn removed her face from her pillow and wiggled around to face Reeze. “But you don’t need to prove yourself. Everyone knows how strong you are.”
“I’m not trying to prove it to them.” Reeze reacted defensively to those statements however. “I’m...” She huffed, as if embarrassed and was only forcing the words out to make Wynn understand. “I want to prove it to myself.” She finally said, although her eyes had darted from Wynn.
Hearing that unexpected answer, Wynn looked at her sister in a different light. “What do you mean?” She asked Reeze for an explanation.
“It’s just... it’s just that I have this picture in my head, you know? And in my head, being the Tribute Charmer means that I’ve become something great, that I’ve live up to my family name.” Reeze explained, and Wynn listened respectfully. “And to me, if I don’t become the Tribute Charmer, then that would I failed my family and myself.
“If I can’t become the Tribute Charmer, then what have I been doing all this time?” Reeze asked, the question pointed more at herself than anything else.
Finally beginning to understand Reeze’s motives behind her actions, Wynn looked at her sister’s face that was now searching for an answer to her own question, and supplied one herself instead. “But you can do a lot without being the Tribute Charmer.” She said, and Reeze looked at her again as she continued. “Everyone can make important contributions to the family and the rest of the world without having that title. Being named Tribute Charmer doesn’t make you strong, and being strong won’t make you Tribute Charmer either.
“You’re important because of what you do, not who you are.” Wynn added. “So there’s nothing you need to prove. Just do the best you can in everything you do, and you’ll be living up to your family name just fine.”
Once more, Wynn displayed the wisdom beyond her years that she had within her. She spoke truth that only she could have expressed so perfectly and so simply that it could not be dismissed as childish idealogy. The WIND family had heard this wisdom too many times to count, and yet it never ceased to amaze each and everyone of them every time Wynn gave such wise words to them.
She was transcendent, she was dazzling, and Reeze smiled at Wynn for that. Her smile brimmed with pride in her little sister that had just helped her see the truth. She couldn’t have asked for a better sister than Wynn, or a better family than the one she was already a part of.
Closing her eyes, Reeze wrapped her arms around Wynn and brought them closer together, with Wynn’s head just under her chin. “Thank you, Wynn.” She whispered to her sister.
Hearing her sister’s praise, Wynn smiled while her face was in front of Reeze’s chest. Without saying a word, Wynn stretched her arms out and hugged Reeze as she hugged her. The two sisters stayed like that for quite some time, and then, without even realizing it themselves, Wynn and Reeze fell asleep in each others arms, with happy, blissful expressions on their faces.

* * *

Having fulfilled Sybil’s desire and finished dinner, Lyna and the LIGHT family bid Dharc goodbye as he made to head back home. After thanking them for the meal, Dharc left and walked back toward his own home while continuing to think on Sybil’s condition and her request to keep it a secret.
He had already determined he would not tell anyone about it, and he really did understand their desire to keep it a secret despite how major the situation was. But for some reason, Dharc almost felt worried that they weren’t worried. No matter how much one prepares for death, it was rarely ever actually enough to push them through it. And in the case of family, it would be even harder to remain composed.
Lyna and the others were strong for now, but Dharc couldn’t help but think that their strength might exhaust itself when Sybil finally did pass on. And sadly, he could do nothing to change that possibility. And so with unwilling resignation, Dharc made his way home to sleep it off.
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Hippocampus
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Oct 21, 2013 2:17 pm

Awesome chapter, as always. The Aussa part seemed a little anti-climactic, but everything else is getting really exciting. Eria's sidestory is so reeling me in!

Looking forward to the next one ^^

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sat Dec 07, 2013 3:31 pm

Chapter 4: Pair Up

The next day, the six young Charmers were once more collected in the school with Mistress Doriado and again spread their magic out between one another to balance the powers in a perfect six-part circle. They had managed to achieve this several times since they began this lesson, but there was still trouble keeping the circle perfect for stretches of time, so they continued to practice until they truly got it down.
However, as Doriado watched her students keep the balance today almost perfectly for 30 minutes without any of them tiring out, she became satisfied. “Alright, that’s enough.” She told the Charmers, and the six of them drew their magic back to their bodies and then lined up before her. “You’ve all done very well in your training. Now we will be moving on to the next lesson.”
When Mistress Doriado told them that, many of the Charmers’ faces lit up in delight, and looked across to one another with pride. “So, what’s the next step, Mistress?” Eria asked.
“Hold out your magic staves.” Doriado told them, and the six Charmers did so.
Once they had, Mistress Doriado closed her eyes and held out her hand. Using her own magic, the Charmers’ staves floated out of their hands and began circling in front of them. The Charmers waited silently as they wondered what Mistress Doriado was doing, and then watched as the six circling staves began to separate from the circle, one by one. In one direction, Dharc’s staff floated off and then stood still apart from the other five.
Following it, Eria’s staff floated off in a different direction and stood still, and then Lyna’s did the same in another direction, leaving just Wynn’s, Aussa’s, and Hiita’s staves circling each other in the middle. Another moment passed of the remaining staves circling, and they too split off from the circle one by one, heading toward one of the already separated staves and stopping next to them. In this case, Hiita’s staff floated over next to Dharc’s, Aussa’s floated next to Eria’s, and Wynn’s went next to Lyna’s.
With this done, Mistress Doriado opened her eyes and looked across at the three randomly selected pairs. “Dharc and Hiita; Eria and Aussa; Lyna and Wynn.” She took note of the pairs, and then returned the staves to their owners.
“Um... so what are we doing?” Hiita tilted her head, unsure what the pairs meant.
“Now that you have learned to balance your magical energies with others properly, it is time for you to put that knowledge into practice.” Doriado explained. “With the person I just paired you up with, you are to practice combining your magic power with your partner to create a more powerful attack.” Once Doriado explained their task, the Charmer’s looked across to meet eyes with the person they were paired with. Lyna and Wynn smiled gleefully at one another while Aussa gave a casual shrug to Eria, and Hiita winked, giving Dharc a thumbs up. “But don’t think this will be a simple task, children. This is not a task that can be accomplished through power, knowledge, or even natural talent; but something that comes from within yourselves.”
But hearing something like, all of the Charmers lost the confidence they had held just a moment ago. And they knew who Doriado was thinking of when she said that too. Aussa relied on her knowledge for most everything, so she wouldn’t even be sure where to start. Hiita scowled, understanding how much she relied on raw power to solve problems. And although she had already come to understand that it could not solve everything no matter how much she had, it was still difficult to think of getting by without it.
And truly, the remark of natural talent was applied to all of them. Each of them had a certain amount of raw talent, and some had grown up being told by their families as much. But if even that talent could not help them master this technique, what could?
Doriado waved her hand and six sheets of paper floated up from behind her, and were distributed amongst the Charmers. “This is as much assistance as I can give you on the road to mastering this technique. But you must discover how to forge this power on your own.” Doriado said this, and looked at her students expressions, which held much doubt, as the single page held very little actual information. It was the same reaction she received every time she gave out this lesson. “You are to study this page tonight, and tomorrow you will begin learning the technique; understood?”
“Understood.” The six Charmers responded in unison, although none of them looked up from the paper in their hands, staring at it like an incomprehensible riddle, or squinting as if to discover hidden text.
“Very good, you are dismissed for today.” Mistress Doriado told them, and the six Charmers slowly began to leave the classroom.
On their way out, Hiita eyed Dharc, and moved over to him. “Hey, you making any sense out of this thing?” She questioned, for some reason in a whisper.
“As if,” Dharc stated plainly. “I’m not even sure what these symbols mean. If anyone has a chance at understanding this, it’s Aussa.” He added, pointing to the Earth Charmer, although as soon as Hiita looked at the brainiac of the group, she became even more discouraged then she already was.
While squinting, Aussa held her glasses in one hand directly over the page as if trying to use it as a magnifying glass. With a sigh, Hiita felt resigned. “She doesn’t even kind of get it... well, I guess I can take solace in the idea that she’s for once on the same page as the rest of us.”
At that time, Aussa put her glasses back on her face and turned to Eria next to her. “What on earth is this stuff?” She complained.
“How should I know?” Eria retorted. “You’re the one whose always got her head in a book at the Library. I was about to ask if you had come across something on this in all that reading.”
But Aussa regretfully shook her head. “For a second I thought I recognized one of these symbols from my readings, but they’re different. I get the feeling this is seriously the only page of information on this technique in the whole clan.”
“Well that can’t be good.” Eria thought. “How are we supposed to learn the technique if we don’t even understand what it is?”
“I guess it’s really like Mistress Doriado said: power, knowledge, and talent aren’t going to help us on this one.”
And like the other pairs, Wynn and Lyna began to discuss the confusing assignment. “Erm...” Lyna grumbled. “I don’t get it. Even the words aren’t helpful.”
“Did our families really accomplish something so complicated?” Wynn wondered.
“If they did, maybe they can help us figure something out.” Lyna suggested, rubbing her head as it began to hurt from thinking.
“Maybe...” Wynn wondered about that though. “What happens if we don’t figure this out though?” She asked, and began picturing failure in her mind.
“Don’t think like that!” Lyna hurriedly told Wynn. “I’m sure we’ll figure something out. Sooner... or later.” She hoped, although she sounded unconvinced herself.
“Well, see you all tomorrow.” Eria said when they all got outside, and jogged off.
“Hm, are you guys not going to fight today?” Aussa questioned.
“Well I was thinking about it, but this stuff definitely comes first.” Hiita said, glaring at the paper again. “No time to waste today... And so on that note Aussa; let’s go.”
With her expression turning sour, Aussa replied. “Got it...” She said, and stuck the paper in her pocket, and then crouched down in front of Hiita, who climbed onto her back.
As Aussa was still Hiita’s servant for the day for loosing her bet with Eria, Hiita had force Aussa to carry her to school this morning, and now carry her back home, where she would be forced to do more grueling tasks.  Even worse, Hiita was forcing her to run while carrying her, which made the trip even more painful for her legs, and making the only solace in the fact she wasn’t even half done with toothbrush-cleaning Hiita mansion being that she would at least be working on her hands and knees, and not on her feet.
Once they arrived at Hiita’s still empty mansion with her family out, Hiita hopped off Aussa’s back and more or less dragged her inside. “Pick up where you left off, Aussa.”
“Yes...” Aussa wanted to cry, but went to the kitchen where her toothbrush still was, and began brushing the floor tiles.
And while she worked on that, Hiita went into the living area and laid down on the sofa, pulling out the piece of paper again and holding it in view, trying once again to pry some meaning out of the symbols and text. “Hey Aussa,” She called back without taking her eyes off the images. “You really don’t have a clue about this stuff.”
“Nah,” Aussa replied. “Mistress Doriado didn’t even give this technique we’re learning a name. If it had some kind of meaningful name, I might have been able to figure something out. Although I emphasize ‘might have’.”
“No power, knowledge, or even natural talent, huh... well what else is there?” Hiita asked.
“That’s not what she meant.” Aussa corrected Hiita. “Mistress Doriado didn’t mean that we need something outside of those things to figure out; she meant that this isn’t the kind of technique that can be conventually taught.” She explained.
“So that’s why this sheet is the only thing she could give us?” Hiita confirmed.
“Seems like it.” Aussa answered. “It also means asking our siblings or parents for answers probably won’t be of any use either. We’re seriously on our own for this one.”
“You think that’s the point?” Hiita wondered suddenly. “You think figuring out this technique is a way to learn how to trust our instinct... or something?”
Aussa gave is a moment’s thought, but then shook her head and rejected it. “No, if that were the case, I don’t think we would need a partner. No, there’s definitely a meaning behind everything. The cryptic notes, the randomized partner, the need to figure it out for ourselves; it’s a piece of the riddle of the Charmer clan. I just wish I knew what it was already.”
For a moment, silence fell. Hiita continued to stare at the sheet of paper with unblinking eyes, with the only noise being that of Aussa’s toothbrush rubbing against tile in the next room. Then another thought came to Hiita, and she raised her eyebrow at the idea. “Hey, you think we should try it out now? The two of us?” She asked Aussa, sitting up on the sofa and looking into the kitchen.
When Hiita suggested that, Aussa lifted her head and paused. But then, she shook her head. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“Why not?”
Aussa inhaled and held her breathe, contemplating how to answer. “Permission to stop working and show you something?” She requested when she figured it out.
Curious, Hiita agreed. “Permission granted.”
Grateful for the break, however short it might be, Aussa stood and walked over to Hiita, sitting down next to her on the sofa and looking at the paper together. “Alright, when I was looking at this the first time, I thought I recognized this symbol here.” She began, pointing to the strange symbol on the right of the page that looked like an simple magic circle, only with a piece of the circle broken off and missing. “It’s a bit different, but its quite similar to the symbol for a ‘Direct Connection’.”
“So?” Hiita wondered what the significance of that was.
“So,” Aussa continued. “The symbol of a Direct Connection represent an unbreakable bond between two people or things. It entails that all things are shared, and nothing exist between those connected.” She explained, but Hiita’s raised eyebrow told Aussa she still didn’t understand. “What it would mean if this symbol and the one for Direct Connection are actually related somehow is that once we start this with our partner, no one else can enter the connection between us and them.
“If we attempted to start this technique and actually figured something out about it, or even if we didn’t, just attempting it might make it impossible for us to start the connection with our actual partner. I said I think there’s a point behind the randomized partner, so we shouldn’t attempt to do it with the two of us when we weren’t paired off.”
Hiita hummed in understanding as she looked at the symbol that was similar to the one for a Direct Connection. “So then, I guess knowledge paid off after all.” She noted with a smile for some reason.
But Aussa sighed and denied that. “Not in the slightest. All I just did was shot down your idea and stick us back at square one.” She told Hiita. “And I may not even be right. I’ve seen symbols that look similar despite not having anything to do with each other just as often as I’ve seen those that do. It could be that attempting the technique with the two of us wouldn’t impact our ability to do so with our partner at all. I just think it’s better safe than sorry.
“Besides, even if we were to attempt it now, do you have any idea where to start?” Aussa asked Hiita.
When asked that, Hiita made to say ‘of course I do’ but stopped just short when she realized she had no clue what to do. They didn’t even know the form to stand in when attempting it yet, and likely would be told how by Mistress Doriado tomorrow. And so, upset that Aussa just made that correction on her, Hiita responded out of spite. “Break’s over! Get back to work!” She shouted in Aussa’s face, although she looked satisfied with having made a fool out of Hiita as she returned to the kitchen.

* * *

As Lyna entered the LIGHT family mansion, she quickly saw Nadia and Kiran as they ran passed the doorway. “Oh, Lyna?” Kiran noted. “You’re home early today; did something happen at class?”
“We completed our power balancing lessons, so we were set up for the next one.” Lyna answered. “We were told to study this tonight and would begin tomorrow.” She added, holding up the confusing notes so her siblings could see.
Looking at the sheet for a second, the twins then grinned and looked past it to Lyna again. “Ah, I remember this lesson.” Nadia stated. “It’s a doozy alright, but don’t worry, you’ll get through it eventually.” She assured Lyna.
“Eh?” Lyna sounded surprised. “How did you know I was worried about failing?” She asked, despite having told Wynn not to think like that, it had been on her mind as well.
“Because I had thought the same thing when I had to do it.” Nadia answered, stretching her arms up and placing them behind her head. “Like I said, don’t worry. Everyone figures it out after a while.”
“So, who were you paired up with?” Kiran asked Lyna.
“Wynn,” Lyna answered.
“I see, she should be a good partner for you.” Kiran noted.
“Who were you two paired with when you had this lesson?” Lyna inquired.
“Well, as for me, I was paired with Aussa’s sister, Aryda.” Nadia answered.
“And I was paired with Hiita’s sister, Houri.” Kiran said.
“So... would you two have any advice I could use to figure this out?” Lyna asked, hoping her siblings experience in the matter might provide her with some hints.
But dashing those hopes, Nadia and Kiran shrugged apologetically. “Sorry, I wish we could help. But there’s really no way to explain it in words.” Nadia told Lyna.
“Milla told us the same thing when we asked her for help.” Kiran added. “It’s not something you can figure out up here.” He told Lyna, poking her head playfully. “It’s something you learn in here.” He added, this time pointing to the left side of her chest, at her heart.
Being told that, Lyna looked down and held a hand to her chest, feeling her heart beat within her. Finally, she looked back up at her siblings and nodded. “Alright, thanks anyways.” She said, and moved past them to her room until it was time for dinner.

* * *

“I’m home!” Wynn called into the mansion as she entered the door. However, no one seemed to be near the entrance to hear her, as she received no answer to her call. But is was only a moment until Petit Dragon flew around the corner as she walked down the hall and almost hit her face. “Wow! Petit, why are you in such a rush?” She asked her familiar as she gave the dragon a hug. With excited motions, Petit Dragon spoke to Wynn in her language, and when she finished, Wynn tilted her head curiously. “Something I’d like to see? What?”  She asked.
But rather than answer directly, Petit Dragon swung around in the air and began flying back in the direction she came from, and Wynn followed her. She had to jog to keep up with her oddly excited familiar, but when they arrived at the door to the backyard and opened it up, she understood why Petit Dragon had rushed her over.
In the backyard were two of Wynn’s siblings. The first was Winda, who sat in the comforting shade of a tree while she gave instructions to the second: Reeze. Reeze was practicing her magic, and from the instructions Winda was giving her, she was helping her improve. Reeze had not abandoned her dream of becoming Tribute Charmer because of her talk with Wynn last night, but she had abandoned her selfish way of trying to achieve it.
She wouldn’t be going on solo missions out of spite anymore, and she wouldn’t direct anger at her brother anymore for being the Tribute Charmer that she wanted to be. Instead, she would look to her siblings for guidance on getting stronger, in the proper manner, and getting closer to her dream as well as her family.
Seeing that magnificent sight, Wynn’s face broke into a smile that stretched almost literally from ear to ear. While she stood there grinning like a fool, Wynn overheard her siblings training regime. “Keep it steady, Reeze.” Winda said with the tone of a strict tutor as she sipped on hot tea.
“I am!” Reeze complained, using wind magic to float herself in the air.
“No your not.” Winda claimed, with a tone that annoyed Reeze to hear and she looked at her.
But when she did, she immediately shouted.“You’re not even looking!” She realized Winda’s eyes were closed, but her burst of anger threw the tranquil winds keeping her airborne out of balance, scattering them in a burst outward, and throwing her onto her butt. “Ouch...” She muttered as she got back up.
But Winda smiled anyways, while at the same time having shielded her tea cup from being spilt by Reeze’s wind burst. “I don’t need to look,” She claimed, opening her eyes and standing up, setting his tea cup on the ground. “I can feel the disturbances in your magic flow.”She told Reeze and walked to her, setting a hand on her shoulder. “But you are improving Reeze. Keep it up and you’ll have this mastered in no time.”
Taking the compliment, Reeze grinned slightly. “Thank you.”
“But...” Winda added suddenly, removing his hand from Reeze’s shoulder and turning back toward the tree. “For the moment though, maybe you should try lifting something smaller than yourself. Maybe something like a leaf.” She suggested, although in an obviously joking manner.
“WHAT!?” Reeze was angry with the joke anyways though. “That’s not funny Winda!” She argued.
But then, both Winda and Reeze stopped to look back at the door when they heard a sudden burst of laughter. Seeing Wynn there with Petit Dragon, Reeze became strangely flustered. “Wah! Wynn? What are you doing home from class so soon?”
It took a moment for Wynn to stop her laughter, which had been so hard it caused tears to form in the corners of her eyes. Once she finally stopped, she wiped the tears away with a finger and smiled at Reeze. “A new lesson; we’re starting it tomorrow.” She answered Reeze’s question. “Sorry, was this supposed to be a private lesson?”
“W-well, kind of...” Reeze scratched at her chin embarrassedly.
“So what’s this about a new lesson?” Winda changed topics. “You would have just finished the balance course, so next would be...” She recalled her own time under Mistress Doriado. “...Oh, is it what I think it is?”
But Wynn shrugged in response. “You tell me. I was hoping you could give me some pointers on it.” She said, pulling the paper from Mistress Doriado out and walking up to Reeze and Winda to show it to them.
When they looked down on the sheet, Winda smiled. “Yep, that’s what I thought.” She said. “Man, you guys sure are moving through the lessons quickly. So who were you partnered with?”
“Lyna,” Wynn answered. “So can you help me with this?”
“’fraid not, Wynn.” Reeze said with a shrug. “Believe me, we would if we could, but’s it’s not something easily expressed by words. Why do you think that page is the only thing about it?”
“This technique isn’t a concept you can comprehend with your mind.” Winda added, holding a hand to her head. “It’s something you have to feel in your heart.” She told Wynn, holding a hand to her own chest.
Wynn took a moment to digest those words and their meaning. But once she had, she smiled softly at Reeze and Winda. “I understand.” She said. “Thank you; I’ll let you get back to training Reeze.” She said, turning back and heading inside.
And as she did, she overheard one last exchange between her sisters. “Alright Reeze, let’s get your leaf.” Winda said, continuing her earlier joke.
“Can it, Winda!” Reeze growled back.
Wynn closed the door behind her, which shut out any other sounds the two made, and she was happy that Reeze was finally able to do things like this casually with the others now.

* * *

Arriving at the WATER family mansion, Eria past through the halls and soon ran into Avance. “Eria? Is your class already over?”
“Yeah, we’re beginning the next step tomorrow.” Eria told him and handed him the page from Mistress Doriado.
“Ah, I remember this.” Avance stated with a reminiscent tone. “I paired up with Lyna’s sister Milla when we did this. Who’d you end up with?” He asked Eria, handing the paper back to her.
“Aussa,”
“I see, I’d offer you help if I could, but there’s no way to explain this technique with words.” Avance said, knowing well that she would be confused.
But Eria just nodded in response. “I thought as much. If it were easy to be explained, we wouldn’t need to ask for help.”
“Perceptive as always.” Avance noted. “I’m sure you and Aussa will figure it out. Eventually we all do.”
“So, where’s everyone else?” Eria asked, looking up and down the hallway.
“Ariel been out most of the day, I’m not actually sure where she is. As for Emilia and Mistress Noellia, they went to the healing springs just a little while ago, so they probably won’t be back for about an hour.”
“And Vanity?” Eria asked, thinking about his strange behavior in the garden yesterday.
“I think I just saw him head back toward the garden.” Avance replied, looking toward the back end of the house. “Must be going to see Beast again.” But when Eria heard that, her worry increased, and she ran past Avance toward the garden. “Wow, Eria?” Avance called after her, wondering what the rush was, but did not go chasing after her.
When Eria arrived at the garden, her fears were confirmed. Avance was there, with Beast next to him, and he bore the same serious face as yesterday, the one he did not usually wear when visiting Beast. Her sense that something bad had happened seemed more like a premonition now, and she called out to the family servant.
“Um... Vanity?” Eria said, causing Vanity’s head to jerk toward her. “Are you... What’s wrong?” She asked, changing her question half-way from the unsure ‘are your you everything’s fine?’ to a certain proclamation.
“You need not worry yourself, young Eria.” Vanity replied in much the same way as yesterday. “It is under control.”
“But you don’t deny something’s wrong?” Eria noted.
However, Vanity did not respond to that question. She was sure he wouldn’t be keeping silent if it weren’t important, but that only made her feel worse. She stood in silence, waiting for him to respond in some way. After a moment, Vanity began moving toward Eria, and she worried he was about to go back inside the mansion without saying a thing.
However, instead of that, Vanity stopped in front of Eria and kneeled down to be at eye level with her, and then placed a hand on her head soothingly. “It will be alright, young Eria; I promise you that.”
Eria looked deep into Vanity’s eyes after he said this. She tried to find any sign in his gaze that he was lying to protect her, but she saw nothing. He was telling the truth. Or at least - he believed that.
Eria was still worried, but for the first time, she felt that worry ease, if only a bit. She trusted Vanity, she wanted to trust he would not do anything dangerous. And so Eria put on a brave face and nodded to Vanity.
Vanity nodded back to her, and then removed his hand from her head, making to stand back up. But before he did, Eria rushed forward and hugged Vanity’s neck, taking him by surprise. “Be safe, Vanity.” She whispered in his ear.
Eria wasn’t sure how it was for the others, but for Eria, Vanity was just like a brother to her. Ariel and Avance were both born before Vanity was brought in by their father, so they might just think of him as a trusted servant, but for Eria’s whole life, Vanity had been there helping take care of her. There had never been a moment in her life she didn’t know Vanity, and so she thought of him no differently than she thought of Avance or Ariel.
Vanity was family to her; it was as simple as that. She couldn’t bare the thought of losing him, especially not on top of her mother and father. Vanity knew this, and wrapped one arm around Eria to comfort her. “I will be, thank you Eria.” He told her, one of the very few times in her life she had said her name without adding ‘young’ to the beginning.
It made her happy to hear, and she released the hug, allowing Vanity to stand and go back inside. She stayed in the garden and watched him go, fighting back tears of worry over whatever it was Vanity had gotten himself into.
She stood there for a moment more until Gigobyte, her familiar, came up beside her, nudging her thoughtfully to get her attention. “Oh, hi Gigo. I’m alright, thanks.” She told the small creature, and then leaned down to rub Gigobyte’s head gently, which he enjoyed. And she continued like that until she recalled the assignment given to her by Mistress Doriado, and suddenly stood up. “Oh right, I need to study!” She said, and then ran back into the mansion.

* * *

The next day came, and the six Charmers grudgingly entered the classroom where Mistress Doriado waited. Having attempted to pull some meaning from the page given to them, some of them had been unable to get any sleep; which they had to hope wouldn’t make their attempt to perform the technique today any worse than they expected it to be in the first place.
“Good morning, children.” Doriado said to her students, who responded with moans of weariness. “Today we will begin working on the new technique. Get together with your partner and stand facing one another.”
“You ready for this?” Hiita asked Dharc as they faced one another.
“Not really, but we’re doing it anyways.” Dharc replied.
“I don’t suppose you have any last minute insight?” Eria questioned Aussa, despite knowing it was pointless.
“Nope, all we can do is try out best.” Aussa told her.
“Let’s do our best, Wynn.” Lyna smiled to Wynn, her worries alleviated from her talk with Kiran and Nadia.
“Yeah,” Wynn nodded in agreement, returning Lyna’s smile.
Then, Mistress Doriado continued giving the Charmers instructions. “Alright, now sit down and place your staves behind you, and take your partner’s hands in yours, right hand over left.” She told them, and the pairs did as instructed. “And now, close your eyes and try to channel your magic energies into one another, cycling the energy between you.”
The Charmers closed their eyes, but when told what they were supposed to do, they stopped. Cycle their magic between one another? They didn’t even know how to do that. They had never thought of channeling their magic energy into another person.
In fact, the only thing the six of them had ever sent their magic energy into were their staves. But those staves were made out of special materials specifically crafted to conduct magic. They didn’t even know where to start with trying to send into the body of another Charmer.
It was at that point that they realized why this lesson was so hard to teach and learn. After all, just how would one explain the method and the feeling with which you push and pull energy from another spellcaster? This truly wasn’t the kind of technique that could be learned through the ascertainment of knowledge. It could not be conventional taught because the technique had nothing to do with understanding. If Aussa were to describe how they could learn this technique, she would call is a ‘sense’.
The only way to figure this technique out was to develop a sense for what you’re doing; A technique a repetition. The more times it was attempted, the closer they would be to figuring out. This also explained how even natural talent would be useless in learning it. No matter how much talent you had, if you have nothing to start from as a base, then there was no way to figure it out. It would be like trying to learn how to play Shogi by playing against yourself without even a rulebook.
Even with the board and the pieces in front of you, unless you are at least playing against someone who knows the rules, there is no way to learn where the pieces go, in what manner they can move, or even how the game is supposed to be won. The only way to learn this technique was to attempt it over and over again until you got it right.
The Charmers came to understand this, and began attempting to do as Mistress Doriado instructed. While doing so, Wynn and Lyna began thinking on what their siblings told them, that this technique was something they would figure out in their heart. Focusing on that aspect and their partner, they felt their magic energy flow within their bodies and tried to control it, moving it into the tips of their fingers.
However, even though they focused and tried, nothing else happened. They pushed on their magic energy as hard as they could, but it would not leave their body and enter their partner’s. Mistress Doriado could see their expressions cringe with worry as their attempt began to fail, and saw that similar expressions were being donned on the other two pairs as well.
Eria had the same lines of thinking as Wynn and Lyna, but was no closer to figuring out how to make the technique work than they, unable to move her magic energy into Aussa. At the same time, Aussa was thinking through her ‘Direct Connection’ angle. Assuming the two symbols were in fact connected, she thought she might be able to get at least the first part to work. However, she dashed her own thoughts when she came to the realization that she was trying to rely on knowledge when she had already been told that it would not help her in any way. She put it from her mind and just focused on trying to move her magic into Eria.
And finally, Hiita and Dharc were feeling very discouraged as they had absolutely no idea where to begin. In their circle, they were the problem children. Hiita would try too much, and Dharc would’t try enough. This very issue had been made extremely evident to them when they began their pervious lesson. They felt that they were simply a bad mix, and even though they were attempting the, they felt almost certain they would be the last to figure it out.
Mistress Doriado watched her students with patience and silence as the minutes ticked by endlessly. The Charmers knew not to stop unless she told them, so until she gave the O.K., the six of them would continue to try. And of course, after having given this lesson so many times, she knew what she was doing. She was not waiting for a certain length of time to pass before calling it a day. Rather, she was waiting for something in particular to happen.
And after what must have felt like forever to the Charmers, it happened. And, as always, what happened inevitably drew the attention of everyone.
It happened to Wynn and Lyna. One moment, the two were still stressing about how exactly they were supposed to be achieving this technique, and the very next, their hands were pushed suddenly away from one another with a short but dazzling flash of light and burst of wind in all directions. When it occurred, everyone else stopped what they were doing to figure out what had just happened with the two of them. Even Wynn and Lyna themselves didn’t appear to be sure of what just happened, and stared blankly at their hands.
But when Mistress Doriado saw this reaction, she smiled. “Um... what was that?” Lyna asked, turning to their teacher for an answer.
With a smile, Mistress Doriado answered, “It was a rejection stimulus. It occurs when magic energies attempt to mix and fail to do so.”
“Rejection...?” Wynn muttered, their teacher’s words betraying her smile and making it sound like they were failing after all.
Mistress Doriado nodded. “Yes, it is a rejection. However, the fact that this rejection stimulus has even been able to happen at all is proof that you are beginning to succeed in sending your magic energy into your partner. It is the first sign of learning this technique.” After Mistress Doriado told them this, it was only a second before it sank in and Wynn and Lyna lit up with smiles and looked to one another with glee. “Now that you have gotten to this step, you must learn to cycle your magic energies between one another properly, without the rejection.
“It will take time to figure out, but in time, you will learn how to do it.”
And by now, the other four Charmers were all looking at Lyna and Wynn in awe. Lyna and Wynn were the youngest of the six, and yet they were the first to get to this point. It once again proved how power, knowledge, and talent had nothing to do with this technique. But it also showed them that it was plenty achievable. Seeing that, the other two pairs gained renewed confidence and faced each other once again, taking each others’ hands and closing their eyes, focusing as they tried to send their magic energy to their partner. Wynn and Lyna as well took each others’ hands and focused to attempt the technique again, all the while with Mistress Doriado watching them.
And the Charmers continued for the whole of their class time. After having had the rejection stimulus occur the first time, Lyna and Wynn were surprised when it did not occur immediately the second time, but then found that each time it was attempted, the time it took grew shorter. After the rejection occurred for the third time, the second pair, Aussa and Eria, also managed to get to the point the stimulus occurred. A splash of water dropped between them with a ring of pebbles, and leaving Hiita and Dharc as the only pair yet to get to this point.
As time continued on, Hiita couldn’t help her thoughts from drifting to being upset that she was the last to achieve it. Even if this technique had nothing to do with how strong she was, coming in last still wasn’t a feeling she enjoyed. And each time she noticed the pairs behind her go through the rejection stimulus, she felt even more discouraged.
Finally, Dharc whispered to her. “Stop it,” He told her, and she reflexively opened her eyes to look at him, which let her see that he still had his closed. “Don’t focus on the others.” He explained.
“Easier said than done.” Hiita muttered back.
Then Dharc posed a question to her. “What’s better, coming in last, or throwing in the towel because someone already finished first?”
That question struck Hiita hard. Partly because she had never thought of it that way before, and partly because it was Dharc asking the question. He wasn’t the insightful type; that was usually where Wynn or Eria excelled. So the fact it was Dharc making her realize this made the message hit home that much harder, and her face grew determined again.
Hiita didn’t put her response to Dharc’s question in words. Instead, she simply closed her eyes again and tightened her grip on Dharc’s hands, focusing as hard as she could on her magic energy flow. The rejection did not occur immediately after that by any kind of miracle. If encouraging or insightful words could push this technique to work, it would not have been this difficult to begin with.
It was still many long minutes later, after Aussa and Eria had seen their reaction for the second time, and then it finally happened. In a burst that pushed their hand away from one another, small flames stretch out and up, and a cloud of darkness briefly filled the space between their hands.
Seeing it, Mistress Doriado smiled once more and spoke. “Alright children, that is enough for today.”
“Eh!?” Hiita complained. “But Dharc and I just got the hang of it.”
“Yes, and that’s why.” Mistress Doriado replied. “Whenever I teach this lesson, I wait until all the pairs have experienced the rejection stimulus, and then dismiss them then. If you wish to though, you may practice with your partner outside of class.” Hearing that, Hiita looked to Dharc, who shrugged to say he didn’t mind either way, and Hiita grinned.
And with that, the six young Charmers were dismissed from class. “Alright Dharc, let’s go to my place and practice some more. Since everyone’s still gone, we won’t be interrupted while we work.” Hiita told Dharc, and he nodded to her, following her as she began heading for her house.
“So how ‘bout it?” Aussa asked Eria. “You want to put in some extra hours?”
“I’m up for it if you are.” Eria answered with a smile.
“Your place or mine?” Aussa asked.
Eria thought about it, and then decided against going to her house because she was worried that Aussa would sense the apprehension she felt concerning Vanity, and didn’t want to go worrying everyone else. “Let’s go to your place. I feel like I haven’t seen your family in forever.” She told Aussa, and she nodded back, the two heading over together.
“Us too?” Wynn asked Lyna after watching the others head off.
“Hmm...” Lyna mulled over it for a moment, deciding whether or not she wanted to go back home and help tend to her mother, or if she thought it was alright leaving it to Milla, Kiran, and Nadia. She knew they would be fine, so she smiled to Wynn and nodded. “How about we go to your house?”
“Sure, I’m sure my family will be glad to have a guest.” Wynn agreed, and the two hurried off together just like the other pairs.
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:29 pm

Augh this leaves so many questions in my mind!! But I guess that proves why it's a good story. I also like how you brought the focus back to the Charmers themselves, while at the same time keeping the other sidestories pressing in the background.

Keep on writing, Dharc. Can't wait to see what happens next!

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:57 pm

Hippocampus wrote:
Augh this leaves so many questions in my mind!! But I guess that proves why it's a good story.
Tee Hee! I love this reaction. I was once told I took cliff hangers to an antagonizing new level. Basically, I like to leave out as much information for as long as fictionally possible before revealing it, making my readers wonder and guess and hope about what it could be. Seeing my reader's squirm is both fun to watch an assures me they truly enjoy my writing. So thank you, for assuring me of that!

Quote :
I also like how you brought the focus back to the Charmers themselves, while at the same time keeping the other sidestories pressing in the background.

Yep, like I told you before, those chapters were specifically to introduce their families. With that out of the way, they return to their proper positions as side characters while maintaining numerous possibilities.
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:39 pm

Binding Dharc wrote:
Hippocampus wrote:
Augh this leaves so many questions in my mind!! But I guess that proves why it's a good story.
Tee Hee! I love this reaction. I was once told I took cliff hangers to an antagonizing new level. Basically, I like to leave out as much information for as long as fictionally possible before revealing it, making my readers wonder and guess and hope about what it could be. Seeing my reader's squirm is both fun to watch an assures me they truly enjoy my writing. So thank you, for assuring me of that!
Well, I'm squirming alright. Hurry and finish the next chapter Razz

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:00 pm

Chapter 5: Partners
After beginning their paired training and taking the first step by having the rejection stimulus occur, the next five days past with the same process being repeated for hours, and none of the pairs had succeeded in getting any farther than that. The speed at which the rejection occurred had become very short, now happening only minutes after they began attempting to cycle their magical energies. But apart from that, the young Charmers could see no evidence that they were getting closer to learning this complicated technique.
But the one time Hiita decided to inquired what was going on the previous day, Mistress Doriado had told them that it usually took 8 - 10 days to reach the next step. She also said that by past statistics, they were actually moving along rather quickly. The praise raised the Charmers spirits and made them focus even harder on their task.
Today was their 6th day practicing this technique, so if what Mistress Doriado proved true, it would still be another two days minimum before any of them would reach the next step, whatever it was. But if they were really doing better than usual, than there was the slight possibility that at least one of the pairs would reach the next step before they were dismissed today.
However, that did not end up happening. At the usual time, Mistress Doriado dismissed the young Charmers without anyone having achieved the next step. “Alright Dharc,” Hiita faced Dharc as they left the school. “We’re going to my house again. We’re getting to the next step tomorrow.” She proclaimed, regardless of the fact there was no way to make sure it happened.
“It’ll happen when it happens.” Dharc told her, cutting into her ego. “Trying to rush it will probably just have the opposite effect.”
“Well being negative isn’t going to help either.” Hiita protested, trying to cover up her own hubris.
“I’m being realistic, not negative.” Dharc remarked, looking away from Hiita. “I’m not saying it’s not possible to do it tomorrow, there’s just no point being as gung-ho as you are.”
Being told that, Hiita’s eyebrow twitched as she stared at Dharc. And behind her, the other Charmer’s stifled laughs at the prospect of Dharc telling her off like that. Catching it, Hiita spun around quickly to face them. “What’s so funny, you want some!?” She shouted at them threateningly.
"Maybe," Aussa replied playfully to Hiita's threat.
Not having expected an actual response though, Hiita's gaze zeroed in on Aussa, becoming a battle-seeking glare. "Oh; You really looking to start a fight right now, Aussa?"
As Aussa answered Hiita, she met and matched Hiita's glare and become serious. "Sure, why not? We've already established how Eria stacks up to you, but why should she get all the fun?"
Hearing this, a devilish smirk made its way onto Hiita's lips. "Oh, it's on now." She told Aussa, letting her now there was no turning back, raising her magic staff and pointing the end at her fellow Charmer. "Bring it, know-it-all."
"Just don't cry when you lose, hot head." Aussa retorted, bringing her own staff in front of her.
And just like that, Eria, Wynn, Lyna, and Dharc all backed away to make room for the impending duel. Once the four got situated at a hand rail, Eria raised a hand to call the match. "Ready... Go!"
Instantly with the call, both Hiita and Aussa unleashed a magical attack. In the middle, Hiita's flames and Aussa's stone collided, but because Aussa's attack was solid and had more weight, went straight through Hiita's flames and continued toward Hiita herself.
She didn't let herself get struck that easily or that soon though. As quickly and smoothly as if she had been expecting it, Hiita lowered the head of her staff and then snapped it back up when the rock was over it, catapulting it over her head and behind her. With a grin that told Aussa not to take her lightly, Hiita then crouched and burst forward, making a full throttle assault on her opponent.
"Any bets on whose gonna win?" Eria asked of the others while keeping her eyes on the match.
"Aussa's already watched you fight Hiita a bunch of times," Wynn noted. "She's going to use that knowledge of Hiita's fighting style to her advantage."
"So you vote Aussa?" Eria confirmed, and Wynn nodded.
"I agree with Wynn," Lyna said. "Aussa probably had both hers and Hiita's first twenty moves planned out since Hiita asked if she wanted a fight."
"I don't mean to insult my partner, but that's not possible." Eria said surprisingly. "Hiita only showcased her fighting style on the first day she stopped holding back. Everything before then was nothing but preparation. So you see, Aussa really doesn't know enough to have planned out Hiita's moves that far ahead. I'd say the only move she was sure would happen was her initial fire strike. Just look," Eria explained and motioned back to the battle.
It was only a few jabs, strikes, and bursts after the beginning, but Hiita was up close to Aussa, swinging her magic staff at her rather than attacking with fire. And because of that, Aussa was half stumbling backwards, dodging and parrying the blows. The two looked fairly even until you noticed that Aussa's expression was one that showed that she was just barely keeping up.
"Aussa relies on her brain in battle, but people like that generally have less physical strength and stamina than people like Hiita, who train at every spare moment. Hiita knows that, and she plans to exploit it." Eria said.
And then Dharc added his thoughts. "If this had stayed as a battle of magic, Aussa probably would have won."
"You're exactly right Dharc." Eria praised his developed analysis ability. "But the moment Hiita charged into close-range, she shook the advantage directly from Aussa's field to hers. And if she can't get it back fast, she's already done for." Eria left the discussion at that, and the four Charmers returned their full attention the match.
Continuing the close-ranged barrage, Hiita made it impossible for Aussa to get on the offensive, while at the same time remaining slow enough for her to properly dodge and block. Aussa was well aware that this was deliberate on Hiita’s part; she intended to wear her down completely before deciding the match. She was after complete domination, to win without taking damage, while at the same time providing her enemy with several times more than ample time to make a comeback.
If Aussa was unable to land even a single hit on Hiita, she would hold it over her head for a month. Knowing that all too well, Aussa watched each strike Hiita made as carefully as possible and noticed a pattern begin to emerge. It was almost impossible to avoid falling into some kind of pattern in battle, even if you completely blank your mind and swing randomly, your body will move a certain way because it is used to it. If Aussa could match the attack pattern, she would have a shot at returning to battle to her favor.
And in just a few moments, she had succeeded. Matching her movements with Hiita’s strikes so it was more fluid and not just a reaction, she had extra room to breathe and prepare a counterattack. To do so, Aussa made it look like she was still struggling against Hiita and spun her magic staff upside-down in her hands and then used the best timing to strike.
Jerking her magic staff up from a momentary blind spot, Aussa struck Hiita’s side with her staff, catching her completely by surprise and knocking her off balance. Using the few seconds that awarded her, Aussa put some distance between the two of them and began catching her breathe. Being aware of her own shortcomings was what allowed Aussa to make up for them and then some. She knew she had a lot less stamina than Hiita, but she had learned to use as little energy in her moves as possible and how to pick out weak points in her opponents to compensate.
Using that knowledge, she had attacked Hiita in the moment her arm hid the left side of her body from view, and stuck. Had Hiita seen the attack, she could have braced herself, but because she had not seen it coming at all, the attack did more damage than normal. But at the same time, it was naturally not all it took to take Hiita down.
Hiita got back to her feet and smiled at Aussa. “Good, I was hoping you wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.” She said snidely.
“You’re bark’s always been worse than your bite Hiita. But now I’m going to take control of this match.” Aussa proclaimed as she flipped her magic staff right-side up again and pointed it at Hiita threateningly.
“Let’s just see if you can.” Hiita replied, and then ran back in, planning to get back in close and this time beat Aussa down before she could counter.
But when Hiita moved forward, Aussa pointed her staff down slightly and shot out her magic. The rocks produced from the end of her staff flew directly at Hiita’s feet and tripped her up, throwing her to the ground face first, and Aussa moved back while laughing gleefully.
“Why you,” Hiita growled at Aussa as she got off the ground, her face scratched and dirty now. In building anger, she got to her feet and began charging once again. However, after her first step, Aussa threw another magic stone at her feet, making Hiita fall to the ground once again, and Aussa smiled as she took another step away from Hiita. “Hey!” She yelled at Aussa as she pushed herself up again. “Now you’re just running away.”
“It’s called ‘attrition’.” Aussa replied matter-of-factly. “It’s where you wear down your opponent slowly to the point of exhaustion, then take them out. I’m not dumb enough to think I have a chance of taking you head on, so I’ll just wait it out a little bit until I get my chance.”
“Are you kidding me!?” Hiita growled; smoke actually rising from her head in her anger. “That’s a coward’s strategy!”
“It’s a precautionary tactic; there’s nothing cowardly about it.” Aussa defended.
“Heeeeey!” Eria called out to the combatants at this point. “When the heck did this turn into a debate? Get back to fighting.” She urged them on, and they returned to their original states of mind.
Getting over how annoyed she was by Aussa’s attrition, Hiita stood still for a second and calculated a way around it. Thinking up a simple way in just a couple of seconds, Hiita then smiled and took position to charge once again.
Kicking off with her left foot, Hiita rushed forward and planted her right leg for the next sprint. At that moment, Aussa pointed her staff at Hiita’s leg once again while already guessing what her strategy was. Rocks flew from Aussa’s staff at Hiita’s foot, and then Hiita immediately swung her own staff that was already hanging low beside her planted foot to intercept Aussa’s stones.
The head of her staff struck the rocks, but that alone wouldn’t overcome the weight and momentum of the magical attack. In order to stop Aussa’s attack, Hiita shot out a magic attack of her own in the opposite direction Aussa’s was coming from. The force of Hiita’s flames being ejected from her staff pushed Aussa’s stone back and she threw it back at her opponent. But having foreseen this, Aussa easily side-stepped the rock and then used her magic to throw another one at Hiita, this one aimed for her head.
Having still been moving forward, Hiita had almost no time with which to react, but she managed to do so all the same. Barely escaping having her face meet stone in a more brutal manner than the previous times, Hiita landed on her foot for her next step and pushed herself to the side rather than forward, the rock passing over her shoulder by centimeters. Due to the suddenness of the action although, Hiita wasn’t able to keep herself balanced well and stumbled about.
And Aussa used Hiita’s unsteadiness as an opportunity to make another attack. Once again, she launched a magic rock at Hiita while she fumbled. But surprisingly, when Hiita saw the attack coming, she stopped trying to steady herself and continued moving with her arrhythmic step just so she could get out of the way of Aussa’s attack.
Aussa was caught off guard for a moment, but still managed to attack again before Hiita could regain balance. She threw another rock at Hiita, but she continued with her arrhythmic balancing act once more in a way that made their onlookers laugh, but still kept her from being struck down by Aussa. Finally though, Hiita got her feet planted and stopped, her eyes locked on to Aussa.
Becoming somehow annoyed by Hiita’s incoherent excuse for dodging, Aussa unleashed one more earth element strike at Hiita. But having fully recovered herself, Hiita was more than prepared for it. Jumping over the flying stone, Hiita shot a burst of flames at Aussa, which struck her back, her annoyance momentarily clouding her judgment and dulling her reaction speed.
“Oh, it’s over.” Eria noted from the sidelines, seeing no way for Aussa to come back from this one.
As she said, Once Hiita’s fire attack connected with Aussa and knocked her back, she had all the time she needed to run up to Aussa and begin another melee assault like her beginning strategy. Only this time, each and every attack made contact, and Aussa was on the ground in seconds.
“Got you; this one’s my win Aussa.” Hiita gloated while standing over her defeated opponent.
Aussa clicked her tongue. “You got lucky. No one could have normally stayed on their feet while being unbalanced that long. Much less pull off multiple dodges.” She complained.
But even though she seemed upset, when Hiita offered her hand to help her up, Aussa smiled shrewdly and took it, getting back to her feet and brushing herself off.
“I’ll get you next time Hiita. Count on it.” Aussa warned.
“Hee, we’ll see about that.”
“Alright, you two,” Eria interrupted them as she and the others walked back up to them. “That’s enough for today, let’s all head home now.”
Now getting back to what she had been on before the battle with Aussa came up, Hiita grinned. “Right! Okay Dharc, let’s go to my place.” She said, and grabbed Dharc’s wrist, dragging him along with her as she raced toward her house.
“Hey! Slow down already.” Dharc tried to get her to stop pulling on his arm, to no avail as she continued tugging him along.
“Well, you want to practice some more too Eria?” Aussa asked her partner.
Eria gave it a bit of thought. “Nah, better not today.” She decided. “Mistress Noellia doesn’t seem to like it when I stay out after class too often.”
“Why, what does she think is going to happen?” Aussa asked confused. All of their parents were fine with them doing whatever they wanted so long as they didn't leave the village. As long as they were home by curfew, they never even had to go tell them where they would be going.
“I don’t know, but it’s best not to upset her, so maybe tomorrow.” Eria told Aussa, then turned away and waved good-bye as she made her way back home.
Aussa waved back until she was gone, and then dropped her arm and looked to Wynn and Lyna. “What about you two? You gonna to continue practice?” She asked them out of simple curiosity.
“No, Milla wants my help with something again today.” Lyna answered. “So I’ll see you two tomorrow.” She added and ran off for her own house.
“Well, see you tomorrow I guess.” Aussa said to Wynn nonchalantly, and the two went their own separate ways.

* * *

Arriving at her home, Hiita pulled Dharc inside and took him to the living room. "Alright, let's get working!" Hiita said, taking a seat on the ground.
"Right," Dharc replied unenthusiastically, sitting in front of Hiita and putting his hands in hers.
Closing their eyes, the two Charmers began circulating their magic energies through one another just like always. In just under three minutes, the rejection occurred and threw their hands apart, and a flicker of fire and darkness flashed between them. Without wasting even a second, Hiita reached out and grabbed Dharc's hands again, and they repeated the process.
They continued doing this for almost half an hour with no kind of noticeable progress. But as they waited for the rejection to happen with their eyes closed, they felt a warmth flow suddenly into their bodies. Feeling it, Dharc and Hiita opened up their eyes and looked at the space between them and saw a small black flame flickering lightly.
Upon realizing this was the next step of mastering the technique, Hiita looked up at Dharc and her face lit up. But in doing so, her focus was taken away from maintaining the spell, and it broke, forcing hers and Dharc's hands away again, and with more force than the previous rejection response. But this did not discourage Hiita any at this point, instead she beamed at Dharc with joy at reaching the next step, her smile spreading from ear to ear.
"We did it!" She cheered.
While not as enthused as Hiita, Dharc tried for a smile to show he was impressed as well. "Looks like it."
"And to think you kept doubting it was possible." Hiita teased Dharc.
"I already told you, I never said it couldn't be done, just that there was no point getting overly-excited."
"Well, we did it, so now tomorrow we can show off to the others that we got ahead."
"It's not that impressive; we just practiced more outside of class than the others." Dharc said, and then Hiita scowled at him.
"Do you have to ruin everything?" She fussed.
"Do you have to exaggerate everything?" Dharc questioned in response.
Getting angered by Dharc's bluntness, Hiita raised her arms and voice. "Why you-!" However, just as she did, she heard the click of the front door opening accompanied by a voice calling into the mansion.
"Hiita, we're back!" The voice said. "Are you home?"
Hearing the voice, Hiita forgot about Dharc and scrambled to her feet. "Dad!" She shouted as she did, and ran back for the front door.
When Hiita turned the corner to the door, her family turned to greet her, with her father - the current Tribute Charmer for the FIRE clan - in front. In a full run, Hiita leapt at her father and wrapped her arms around him. "Hey there, miss us much?" Her father asked as he returned the embrace.
"Like crazy; it get boring around here without anyone around." Hiita said, and beamed up at her father.
"Well, don't just hug your father, everyone else is here too you know." Next to them, Hiita's mother drew her daughter's attention and held her arms out for her.
"Welcome back Mom." Hiita greeted her, releasing her dad to give her mom a hug as well, and then continue on to her siblings, Kouki, Tesni, and Houri.
"Hey, kiddo." Kouki, her brother said when he received his hug, rubbing Hiita's head.
"Good to see you, Hiita." Tesni, Hiita's sister told her.
And finally Hiita hugged Houri, who then spoke sarcastically, "Glad to see you didn't burn the house down while we were gone."
"Hey!" Hiita pulled away from her sister and pushed her away for the rude comment while she heard other family members stifle laughs. "Hey!" She repeated to the others.
Hiita's father, Pyrrhus, smiled at Hiita and then opened his mouth to suggest they get dinner ready, but then noticed Dharc at the corner. "Well hello there Dharc." He greeted him, and the rest of the FIRE family looked at him as well.
"Hello," Dharc replied with a nod.
"What brings you here?" Hiita's mother, Verino, asked politely.
But instead of Dharc, Hiita answered the question with a big smile. "This is why," She said, and then walked over to Dharc so they could show them.
Taking Dharc's hands, the two of them circulated their magical energies and within moments, a black flame appeared between them. In reaction, the rest of Hiita's family gave gasps of awe. "Wow, you guys are already learning that technique?" Houri said, amazement still evident in her voice.
"And to think we've been missing out on this." Hiita's mom noted, and then Hiita and Dharc made their combination spell die down steadily, so another burst wouldn't occur.
"Well, since you're here Dharc, how about you stay for dinner?" Pyrrhus suggested.
Dharc thought about it for a second. It was a little out of his comfort zone, but he had been trying to do just that to get closer with the other Charmers like Lyna wanted, so he nodded his head to accept the offer. "I'll start making it right away." Verino said, walking past everyone to make her way to the kitchen.
"Dharc and I will continue practicing up in my room. Call us down when it's ready." Hiita told them and then grabbed Dharc's wrist and pulled him upstairs to continue practicing their technique.

* * *

When Eria reached her home, she immediately swung around back to the garden to meet with her familiar. "Gigobyte!" She called upon entering the garden, and then noticed that Vanity was here again as well, patting Beast on the head.
Vanity turned to Eria when he heard her voice, and she smiled back at him. The last few days Eria had seen Vanity in the garden, he had seemed less stressed and serious. Eria hoped it meant that whatever he had been caught up in was over, but as he hadn't wanted to bother her with it to begin with, she had no plans to ask about it. Vanity waved to Eria and she waved back, going up closer to him as Gigobyte came out from within the garden.
"Good afternoon, young Eria." Vanity greeted her
"Good afternoon," Eria replied, scratching Gigobyte's head next to her.
"How have your lessons at school been going? Are you and the others making progress on the current lesson?" Vanity inquired.
"Not just yet, but Mistress Doriado says we should be getting there any day now."
"That is excellent news." Vanity told her, and then stood up. "I should begin making dinner, if you'll excuse me." He told her, then gave a respectful bow and returned to the mansion, leaving Eria to be with her familiar.
When Vanity left, Eria looked to Beast and put her hand on his head. "And how are you?" Eria asked her father's familiar, who responded in its quiet language. "Good, I'm glad." She said, and continued speaking with Beast and Gigobyte.

* * *

"I'm back!" Aussa called into the house as she entered her family mansion, but then paused as a the smell of food came to her nose. "Mmm, what's cooking?" She asked, suddenly realizing how hungry she was at the moment.
"Beef stroganoff." Aussa heard her mother reply.
"Sounds great! How long until its done?"
"Not long, your just in time."
"Excellent," Aussa cheered and then hurried through the living room to get to the kitchen.
But the second she passed through the doorway into the living room, Aussa heard a sudden shout from overhead. "Bonzai!" And the next thing Aussa knew she was thrown face down into the ground with Aryda on her back.
"GAH!" Aussa shouted in surprise as she fell.
Aryda laughed victoriously while staying on top of her sister. "Finally got you." She proclaimed.
"Yeah, okay... you got me. But do you know how you got me?" Aussa asked, turning her head to look at Aryda out of the corner of her eye.
"It was the aerial assault. That's the weak point in your detection spells. Can't believe I didn't think of that before." Aryda explained.
"Yeah, that's correct." Aussa admitted. "Even with all my detection spells, the one place I can't scan for attacks is overhead attacks. As we're EARTH element Spellcasters, that much should easily be a given." She explained, although as she continued her voice got more hoarse. "Now get... OFF of me!" She shout and twisted her body around, forcing Aryda to fall off her back so she could breath properly again.
But Aryda had become satisfied with her accomplishment, and smiled smugly at Aussa. "That's one goal down."
"Yeah, yeah..." Aussa mumbled, brushing herself off as she stood up. "Geez, first Hiita and now you. Talk about a bad day."
"Hm, what's that about Hiita?" Aryda asked.
"Oh nothing, we had a match after school today and she beat me after a few lucky dodges." Aussa told her.
"Wow, so that means you're on a losing streak right now." Aryda poked at Aussa.
"Shut up! You're sneak attacking me successfully isn't even that impressive. You're next goal is to beat me in a straight fight right?" Aussa pointed out, and Aryda nodded. "Well bring it on. I'll take your challenge any time."
For a moment then, Aryda and Aussa just stared into each others eyes, ready for a good challenge. But to break their determined zone, two small pebbles shot out from the side and struck them both hard in their heads. "Yes, yes, we're all very excited over your sibling rivalry. Now get in here before your brother and sister eat it all." Standing in the doorway to the dining room, Aryda's and Aussa's mother Sabre told them with a stern expression on her face.
Rubbing their temples where they had been hit, Aryda and Aussa quickly got over it as they once again sniffed the delicious scent of the beef stroganoff and scurried into the dining room.

* * *

Entering her family mansion, Lyna went to the living room and found Milla sitting on the couch there. "Hi, Milla. How's Mom?" She asked.
Smiling, Milla answered, "As good as you could expect her to be. Why don't you go say hi?"
Nodding, Lyna hurried down the next hall and entered her mother's room. Because the room was kept dark, Lyna supplied a dim light by pouring magic into her staff and closed the door behind her. "Hi Mom."
"Welcome back Lyna." Sybil replied, although her voice was now meek.
The degradation of Sybil's body had been worse in the last couple of weeks; it was clear that she would not be lasting much longer. Pretty soon now, Sybil wouldn't be able to keep herself going anymore. She was going to die very soon, and none of them were expecting even a week before it happened.
"Is there anything I can do for you? Anything you need?" Lyna asked politely. Sybil opened her mouth to speak, but instead, she began coughing harshly. "Mom!" Lyna started and stepped up to the side of her mother's bed.
Once the coughing past, Sybil cleared her throat and calmed Lyna. "I'm fine dear. I'm just fine." She told her daughter, reaching a thin, pale arm out to brush Lyna's hair. "I don't need anything right now, but... Would you mind lying in bed with me for a while? I want to feel your warmth." She said.
Lyna nodded and smiled again to her mother. "Of course, anything for you Mom." Lyna said, and then placed her magic staff against the wall, put out its light, and climbed into her mother's bed next to her.
Lyna snuggled in close and rested her head on her mother's chest, and Sybil wrapped her arms tenderly around her daughter. "I love you, Lyna." She told her.
"I love you to Mom." Lyna replied as she closed her eyes, and listened to her mother's heartbeat, smiling blissfully.

* * *

Wynn arrived at home and walked up to the front door. Just when she reached it however, it opened from the inside and Caam and Reeze walked out, looking ready for a journey. They stopped when they saw Wynn, and then greeted her with smiles. "Hi Wynn, how was class today?" Caam asked.
"Still working on the first step." Wynn admitted with a nervous laugh.
"Well. don't fret it. You'll get there soon kid." Reeze told her, rubbing Wynn's head and then walked past her with Caam.
"Are you two going somewhere?" She asked before they left.
"Yep, we've got a dispute to take care of." Reeze answered.
"Don't worry though, it's a minor issue." Caam added. "We'll be back in a day or two."
"Good luck then." Wynn said.
"See you soon." Caam replied, and waved as she and Reeze left.
Wynn waited until they were out of sight, and then went into the mansion. Walking through the house, she soon bumped into Winda. "Wynn, back from school are you? Did you catch Caam and Reeze before they left?"
"Uh-huh, do you know where they're heading?" She wondered.
"Yeah, it's just a couple villages away. I was hoping to get a little more training with Reeze before she went anywhere though; Oh well." Winda shrugged. "Well, the others are all getting ready for dinner, how 'bout we join 'em?"
Nodding her head cheerfully, Wynn walked to the dinning room alongside her sister.

* * *

Having prepared dinner, Hiita's mother called her and Dharc down to eat. "Alright then, dig in everyone." Verino said as she motion across the table at the food spread out for them to pick from. "I hope it's to your liking Dharc." She added to their guest.
Nodding, Dharc began picking some of the food off the plates in front of him, which was assorted meats and fried/steamed vegetables. "Hey Kouki, pass me a wing over there will ya'?" Hiita requested, sitting next to Dharc.
"Heads up," Kouki replied, lobbing a chicken wing up over the table to Hiita, who caught it with her mouth as apposed to her hands.
"Thank you," She said as she chewed off a piece.
"So how long have you guys been working on the technique?" Houri asked next to Hiita as she bit into a cob of corn.
"Six days now." Hiita answered before she swallowed a mouthful of chicken. "Had every last one of us tripping over how it was supposed to work at first though."
"Everyone feels that way the first day." Hiita's other sister Tesni noted with an exasperated tone. "Must of been worse on you though, with none of us around to assure you it'd be fine."
"Nah, I was alright." Hiita responded. "Aussa was here that day to pay up a bet, and she had some good thoughts on the whole matter that eased the stress of thinking about it."
"Well good for you then." Hiita's father stated with a proud smile. "And it's impressive that you've already reached the second step after only six days."
Hiita grinned wide with pride and satisfaction from the compliment, but as if specifically to deter her mood, Dharc chimed in. "We just trained a lot outside of class is all." He said, and Hiita immediately turned to shot him a glare, although it then turned into a look of curiosity as a thought came to her. "What?" Dharc asked.
"Have you always been this way or is this supposed to be part of that new sense of humor you seem to have been developing lately?" She questioned with a raised eyebrow.
Dharc returned the questioning look with one of his own for a second, but the turned his head to the side as if he suddenly had to think about it. When he gave shrug as an answer, Hiita looked at him in surprise before bursting out laughing.
When she got past that, she put her hand on Dharc's shoulder and shook him a bit. "I'm really starting to like this new funny Dharc!" She exclaimed. "Keep at it, okay?"
She released Dharc's shoulder sat back in her chair with a big grin, although Dharc was now looking at her like she was crazy. "You know what?" Houri said as something occurred to her. "You two actually make a pretty good pair."
"Really?" Hiita asked. "I was actually a little worried that our personalities would clash when we started." She said, looking to Dharc.
"Well, sometimes opposites can fill each others gap and work well together." Houri said. "Your differences help make up for what the other lacks."
Giving what Houri said a bit of thought, Hiita and Dharc turned to each other as they realized how true what she was saying could be. "You're sister is exactly right, Hiita." Pyrrhus agreed. "When people say opposites attract, this is the kind of thing they mean. Hiita, you are fierce and straightforward; while Dharc is calm and logical. If the two of you really put your heads together, you'll be able to accomplish a great deal."
Being told these things, Hiita smiled warmly and her eyes lit up in delight. "Keep on doing your best you two." Verino told Hiita and Dharc. "You two can go far together."
After all of that, Hiita smiled at Dharc one more time before they all continued to eat happily around the table.

* * *

At class the next day, the first thing Hiita did once everyone gathered was grab Dharc and show off that they had gotten to the next step; despite how unimpressive Dharc had made it clear it actually was. "So what is the next step Mistress Doriado?" Hiita asked after showing everyone.
"For the moment, just continue practicing and focus on maintaining your combined spell. I will explain the next step once everyone is there."
Nodding, Hiita and Dharc continued to practice as told while the others continued to try to reach the next step. None of them knew how long to expect it to take, but it was actually only a few attempts later that the others heard Wynn and Lyna breath in amazement. Stopping what they were doing for a moment, the rest of the class looked over to see that they had achieved the next step.
In between the two youngest charmers, a small wind was swirling around while shining and glittering with light, making it visible. "It's pretty!" Wynn said under her breath while she and Lyna watched the light wind dance between them as it lit up their smiling faces.
Wynn and Lyna smiled at each other as they then continued to maintain the light wind as Hiita and Dharc maintained their dark flame, which they quickly learned was not as simple a matter as it sounded. They had figured out how to properly cycle their magical energy between one another, but trying to keep the cycle up for an extended period of time drew on their stamina because it was still an unfamiliar sensation.
But after a time, as Wynn and Lyna were beginning to feel the technique become easier to hold, Eria and Aussa finally reached the second step. Hovering between them, a small muddy whirlpool span serenely. Grinning pleasantly at one another, Eria and Aussa then let the combined spell die down as the other pairs noticed and the six young Charmers looked upon Mistress Doriado for their next instructions.
Smiling down on them, Doriado spoke. "You have all done wonderful to get to this point, but before we move on there is something I need to tell you." She told them, and the six Charmers gave her looks of intrigue. "It's something I've always left unsaid until the second step so that you can get a sense of it for yourselves, but the manner in which the six of you were paired off for this assignment was not as random as you were originally lead to believe.
"Rather, when I paired you off, the magic I used was a kind of divination spell." Doriado explained. "It tested and paired you up with the one that you had the greatest compatibility with."
"Compatibility...?" Hiita muttered under her breath, and her thoughts went back to what her family had told her and Dharc at dinner the pervious day about how they were actually a good pair.
The pairs all took a moment to look at one another after Doriado told them this, realizing just how true it all was. Lyna and Wynn were the gentle ones; and Eria and Aussa were the intellectuals in the group, making them both perfect pairs. And as Hiita's family had pointed out to them yesterday, their differences were actually what made them compatible, complimenting each other in a way that filled the gaps the other had.
Continuing her explanation, Doriado said, "From today onward, the person you are paired with will be you partner. It will be your duty to help one another through the rest of the courses in this class, and be at one another's side."
As Doriado explained this, the three pairs continued to look at one another and had confident grins, showing they would have faith in one another. "Looks like we're in this together, partner." Hiita said to Dharc, holding out her fist to him.
Dharc looked at her fist for a second, then laughed lightly like the way she had said it was ridiculous, but lifted his own fist to bump it against Hiita's. In similar standings, Eria and Aussa gave each other an encouraging high-five while Lyna and Wynn hugged each other for a moment.
Finally, the group turned back to Mistress Doriado so she could explain exactly what they needed to do for the second step of learning the technique. Doriado took a proud look across her students, took a deep breath and opened her mouth to speak.
But just then, the doors to the classroom were thrown open, diverting everyone's attention to the people that entered. And when Eria turned, her breath was caught in her throat because the person coming in was Vanity, holding a very serious expression. And even more surprising, she saw her sister Ariel walking in with him.
She had hoped whatever had been bothering Vanity was over, but the current scene made it seem like whatever he was doing here was what it was all about. "Forgive us for interrupting your lesson, Mistress Doriado." Ariel spoke as she and Vanity approached. "But this absolutely cannot wait any longer."
"Ariel? What is it?" Doriado asked.
"We need you to call the Tribute Charmers for an emergency trial." Ariel answered, at which Doriado and the six Charmers gaped at her. "There has been a crime committed that we must draw not let go unnoticed any longer."

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:39 pm

Alright, so I finally got around to reading this. As usual, I'm not disappointed. Though I can't help but think this chapter should be called "Dinners", not "Partners"... since you spend so much talking about how they're all having dinner XD

Anyway, I didn't expect the whole Hiita-Aussa fight in the beginning, but it seems like you really like writing fighting scenes. It kept my attention for sure, but I feel that it did drag on a bit.

And of course, cliff-hanger is best part of story lol

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:30 am

Hippocampus wrote:
Though I can't help but think this chapter should be called "Dinners", not "Partners"... since you spend so much talking about how they're all having dinner XD
haha. Nah, I just like being as descriptive as I can be.

Hippocampus wrote:
Anyway, I didn't expect the whole Hiita-Aussa fight in the beginning, but it seems like you really like writing fighting scenes. It kept my attention for sure, but I feel that it did drag on a bit.
It is very true that I like writing fight scenes, this is actually one of my few stories where action doesn't come up that often, so that's probably why it feels that it drags on.

Hippocampus wrote:
And of course, cliff-hanger is best part of story lol
And of course, cliff hangers are my specialty!

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Thu Jun 12, 2014 9:00 pm

Chapter 6: The Trial
A bell was rung.
The sound of the bell coming from the courthouse reached everyone within the Charmer village. "A trial? What could have happened?" Pyrrhus, the FIRE Tribute wondered as the ringing came through to him and his family at their house.
Next to him, his wife took hold of his arm. "Come now, can't be late." She said calmly, soothing her husband's mind.

* * *

Noellia had been going through some paperwork as she heard the bell, her daughter Emilia assisting her. "Well this is sudden. I wonder what happened?" Emilia wondered, and looked to her mother who simply looked out the window blankly for a moment before standing from her chair.
"Let's go, Emilia." Noellia told her daughter as she made her way from the mansion.

* * *

Windaar had been relaxing in the backyard when the bell sprung him from his meditated state. "What the..." He questioned. Even trials usually took time to organize. For there to have been no prior knowledge that this was going to happen, something big must have happened.
Still contemplating what the reason could be, he looked back to the house and saw his father Musto in the doorway, looking to him with a serious expression. "It appears this will be your first true test as a Tribute Charmer, son. Best hurry," He said, and Windaar rose to his feet and began making his way.

* * *

Aussa's mother Sabre had been helping Aryda train when the bell broke their focus and demanded their attention. "Mom?" Aryda asked, wondering if she knew what this was about.
But Sabre shook her head. "It appears there's been a disturbance. Come Aryda, gather your siblings." Sabre said and headed for the courthouse.

* * *

Soon after the bell began to toll, the DARK Tribute Charmer, Dharc's father, was already on his way to the courthouse on his own. Though his reaction had been swift, he had the same worries on his mind as all the rest. "What is the meaning of this?" He asked himself aloud.

* * *

And finally, when the children of the LIGHT family heard the bells, they all raced for their mother's room. Reaching it first, Milla threw the door open in a panic. "Mother!" She shouted, and the light from the hall filling Sybil's room showed her sitting up in her bed with her head tilted up as she listened to the bell.
It was only a moment later that Kiran and Nadia also appeared in the doorway behind Milla, who walked up to their mother, attempting to suppress her panic. Milla opened her mouth to speak, but Sybil spoke first. "Milla, I can't go." She said, and then looked to her eldest daughter solemnly.
Milla froze where she was and stared at her mother as she took those words in. As she did, her throat closed up on her in spite of how she had remained up to now. She reminded herself to stay strong and not to let an inevitable force like death get to her. "M-Mom...?"
"Come here Milla." Sybil said, and reached to the side of her bed and picked up her magical staff. Milla took a deep breath and approached her mother, standing before her. "Now, offer your hands," Sybil continued in a torn, raspy voice.
Milla did as instructed, putting her hand out face up in front of her, her own staff sitting in them. Sybil copied the form, letting her staff rest in her hands as she held them out in front of Milla's.
"In this offering, a passing is signified." Sybil began.
"And in this taking, a symbol is made." Milla spoke in turn.
"This duty I bequeath..."
"This burden I accept..."
"I give you this light, to show the way to others." Sybil continued, and the shifted her hands to stand her staff straight up, tapping the bottom to the floor.
Milla then mimicked the motion so their staves were standing directly in front of one another, and spoke once more. "This light, I will be."
At that time, the two Spellcasters' staves glowed with a faint light that focused and connected to one another, symbolizing the passing of the role of Tribute Charmer. After a moment, the light died out and Sybil and Milla returned their staffs to their sides. "You should hurry, Milla." Sybil told her daughter, smiling gently.
Milla nodded, and without a word, turned and left her mother's room, closing the door quietly. Kiran and Nadia looked at their sister as she made her way back through the house. "Come on you two." Milla addressed them. "We can't be late."

* * *

At the courthouse, Doriado, Ariel, Vanity, and the six youngest Charmers all waited for the arrival of the others. Surrounding the center area of the courtroom were six sets of bleachers for each Charmer family and a seventh set of bleachers for outsiders that the case concerned. And intermediately between each set of bleachers were six more platforms for the Tribute Charmers to stand and judge and finally a high-rise stand, where Doriado sat to preside over the trial. Ariel and Vanity, as the accusers of this case, were standing in the center area which was a circular floor marked into two halves, one side inscribed with a 'P' for Prosecutor, and the other with a 'D' for Defense.
And while the six Charmers sat in different bleachers from one another, they still exchanged worried glances between one another with the exception of Eria who could not take her eyes off of Ariel and Vanity. Soon enough though, the other members of the Charmer Clan began filing into their respective bleachers.
Avance and Emilia were the first ones to join the scene, but before they took seats next to Eria, they froze when they saw Ariel and Vanity standing on the court floor. Becoming even more confused than they had been, the two Spellcasters sat down on either side of Eria, and Avance whispered urgently to her. "What on earth is going on?"
But Eria just shook her head without looking away from Ariel and Vanity at the floor. "I don't know. They just came in during the middle of class and told Mistress Doriado they needed to call an emergency trial."
"Didn't they explain what the trial was for to Mistress Doriado?" Emilia questioned.
"They said it was imperative not to give out any information until everyone arrived." Eria explained, and the three of them continued to wait while keeping their eyes on the two at the floor.
And soon after them, the FIRE, EARTH, and WIND families joined the courtroom. Asking the same question to Hiita, Aussa, and Wynn, they in turn gave the same answer.
And finally, Kiran and Nadia entered and sat down next to Lyna. Lyna looked between them and then asked, "Eh, where's Milla?"
"Well..." Kiran started nervously, and then looked up at the Tribute Charmer's stand beside them.
Following Kiran's gaze, Lyna pieced it together easily enough. "Is mom-"
"No... she's fine for now." Nadia hurriedly corrected Lyna. "She just said that couldn't do this."
"Oh... I understand." Lyna said, and looked back over to Dharc, who still sat alone in his section of the bleachers.
But a moment later, Doriado addressed the court. "Everyone has gathered. Will the Tributes now step forward." She said, which meant that the rest of Dharc's family was just out on missions at the moment.
At the six platforms next to their family bleachers the Tribute Charmer of each element stepped out from behind a curtain. And when they did, they all took a moment to notice two aspects of the court. The first naturally being the prosecutors Ariel and Vanity, just as their families had been surprised to see; but the second thing they noticed was what only the LIGHT family knew until just now. The whole courtroom turned to fix their eyes on Milla standing on the LIGHT Tribute Charmer platform instead of her mother Sybil.
Only Dharc shifted his gaze to Lyna. He had seen Sybil's condition a little while ago, and now had to wonder if she had passed on now or if she had simply passed the position of Tribute Charmer on because she knew it would happen soon. Lyna met his gaze and gave him comforting smile, but that smile didn't tell Dharc which the answer was.
And after noting Milla's presence, Noellia returned her gaze to Ariel and Vanity at the floor, narrowing her gaze suspiciously while they made themselves appear relaxed and kept their eyes downcast so as to not give anything away.
Once everyone had recomposed themselves, Doriado continued with the court. "Today, Gishki clan members Ariel and Vanity have come forth claiming that a crime has been committed that must be drawn to our attention, and requested an immediate response.
"Now, if the prosecutors will elaborate on this crime, the court can then proceed." Doriado stated, and all eyes focused on the two at the floor.
Raising their heads, Ariel was the one who stepped forward to speak before Doriado. There wasn't a person within the Charmer clan that didn't trust Vanity 100% after his many years of faithful service to the Gishki family; but even then, hearing these words come from Ariel would simply give more credibility to the story. And so she addressed the court. "Yes, we would like to begin by apologizing for the suddenness and inconvenience of this call, but it was an emergency that we get to this matter as quickly as possible.
"This is not a simple matter in any way. And I'm sure you will all agree that our precautions were understandable when I explain the following." Ariel said, and then drew in a deep breathe before finally making her accusation. "I, Gishki Ariel - as well as Gishki Vanity - accuse the WATER family Tribute Charmer Gishki Noellia of high treason!" She announced, her voice rising in volume as she went on, and raised her arm to point an accusatory finger at Noellia as every head in the court turned - many with shocked gasps - toward Noellia, who in turn was now glaring down at her persecutors. "For the first-degree, pre-meditated murders of both my parents: Gishki Natalia and Gishki Kimara!"
With this, the courtroom went into a state of near hysteria as the families all wondered where any of this had come from. Noellia herself was now had her gaze met by Ariel as she visibly became more and more enraged, while Ariel's eyes were stale, but still obviously filled with hate. And yet, there was no one in the room more distressed by hearing this than Emilia: Noellia's only blood-related daughter.
Avance looked at Emilia with a uneasy expression as she simply froze in place, looking down at Ariel with pure unadulterated agony. She was mortified at even the suggestion, and her thoughts simply stopped processing information. In shock herself, Eria looked between the two of them, feeling dread sink into her heart.
But after a moment, Doriado brought her thoughts back together and grabbed the gavel next to her, raising it up and bringing it back down with a deafening crash that brought immediate silence to the courtroom. "Tribute Charmer: Gishki Noellia..." She began as everyone's eyes returned to her. "...Please step to the floor."
The room remained deathly silent as Noellia came down from her platform and stepped out onto the floor, standing opposite of Ariel and Vanity on the section marked doe the Defense. Her expression had calmed now, but still held a strong hint of malice.
Once she was there, Doriado raised one hand and snapped, which then activated a trap set up at the floor. From the grooves surrounding and separating the Prosecutors and the Defense, a clear crystal wall grew tall enough that the Charmers in their family bleachers could touch it if they reached down. "Mirror Wall." Doriado stated the name of the trap.
The Mirror Wall was a safety measure set up to ensure trials went through without violence. While within the trap, no one could use any form of attack without harming themselves. This ensured that the trial would go uninterrupted or, if the Defense was found guilty, that they would not initiate an assault on the court.
With everything set and ready, the trial could now commence. "This court is now in session. The prosecutors Gishki Ariel and Gishki Vanity stand here today accusing Tribute Charmer Gishki Noellia of murdering previous Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara, as well as his wife before her: Gishki Natalia.
"Gishki Ariel and Gishki Vanity, do you have any evidence to prove your accusations?" Doriado asked them out of necessity.
"Yes," Ariel answered. "Gishki Vanity will now present his findings."
Saying this, Ariel stepped back, and eyes focused on the Gishki servant as he stepped forward and addressed them all. "As everyone here is aware, Lady- Gishki Natalia," He corrected himself from the manner he usually referred to her, as for court reasons it was necessary to use full titles when referring to anyone. "Came under an unknown ailment that had slowly taken her health.
"Soon after this, former Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara married current Tribute Charmer Gishki Noellia. And it was soon after this that he too came under the spell of a mysterious ailment and died as a result." Vanity explained. "Most of us took it as coincidence; that the ailment had been passed between them. But I submit the following: the ailment that overtook Gishki Natalia and former Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara was actually a toxin from Tribute Charmer Gishki Noellia's familiars."
Saying this much, Vanity paused a moment as the courtroom filled with murmurs again and he looked at Noellia, whose fury was again becoming more notable on her face. Without waiting for the room to be quiet, Noellia protested. "That is a ludicrous suggestion!" She said, unsuccessfully trying to keep herself from shouting. "My familiars Gishki Abyss and Gishki Chain both possess toxins, yes; but neither one is at all fatal!"
Doriado quickly slammed her gavel down again to silence everyone. "Order!" She commanded, and then looked back at the floor. "Gishki Vanity; what Tribute Charmer Gishki Noellia has stated is true. Her familiar's toxins do not cause fatal ailments. Do you have anything else to present?"
Immediately, Vanity answered. "It is true that the toxins of Gishki Chain and Gishki Abyss are not fatal." He admitted. "But this only holds true of the toxins on their own. I submit to the court that the ailment brought upon Gishki Natalia and former Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara was caused a poison created by mixing the toxins of the two familiars."
Again, the courtroom murmured. They could not help themselves from asking one another if they thought what was being said could be true. But again, Doriado brought order back by slamming her gavel down loudly. Both Vanity and Ariel met with Noellia's eyes once again, who was now beginning to look distressed as well as angry.
At this point, Vanity reached into his pocket and brought out a small jar filled with a clear liquid that as it was could not be distinguished from normal water. "I hold in my hand the mixture of Gishki Chain's and Gishki Abyss's toxins."
Seeing that, Noellia shouted at him. "How did you get that!? I object!" She looked to Mistress Doriado.
But Doriado, as well as the other Tribute Charmer then looked at Noellia with a mixture of confusion and suspicion. "Overruled." Doriado told Noellia, and looked to Vanity. "Then are you saying, Gishki Vanity, that you can prove this poison causes the ailment seen in Gishki Natalia and former Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara?"
To this, Ariel stepped forward and answered. "Yes we can. A simple test will be able to confirm it." She told the court.
"And how do you plan to do that?" Noellia questioned. "Do you plan to dig up their bodies? That is your parents - my husband you are talking about!"
"We do not need to dig them up." Ariel answered Noellia instantly, with confidence clear in her tone. "All we need to do is prove that this poison does in fact cause the ailment that afflicted Gishki Natalia and former Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara."
At this, more murmurs would have filled the courtroom if Vanity did not elaborate immediately. "You see, there is currently another that has been afflicted with this poison." He said, and while no one currently had their eyes on her, Noellia's eyes bulged in her skull upon hearing that.
"There's another?" Doriado inquired. "Who is it?"
"The one afflicted is..." Vanity began, and then turned his head to look at someone else in the courtroom. And when everyone else followed his gaze to look collectively at LIGHT Tribute Charmer Milla, he completed the response. "The former LIGHT Tribute Charmer: Sybil the Temporal Sorceress."
For a moment, silence enveloped the room in an unnatural way. It was so silent it seemed as though everyone in the room had held their breathe at the same time. But for those in the LIGHT family, the silence was even more unnatural. For them, it felt as if their ears had completely stopped working and any sound would not have been heard by them anyways.
This whole time while their mother had been losing her health, they had thought it was a normal illness that had taken her. They thought it was something that none of them had any kind of control over and could not help or stop. But if what Vanity and Ariel had presented to the court was indeed true, then their entire conception of what was happening to their mother changed. The very way they looked at it now was fundamentally different, starting with how they felt about it.
The LIGHT family had strong wills, so they did not let something they could never control like death be a reason to grieve. But that will they had all tried so hard to maintain crashed and burned if the reason behind the death was not as 'natural' as they had believed.
Milla and the other LIGHT family members now looked traumatized. They didn't dare to do anything, but in that deadly silence, Milla's arms went limp, and her magic staff dropped to the floor that - in the silence that currently held the courtroom - sounded even louder than Mistress Doriado's gavel.
It was still several moments before Mistress Doriado could force herself back to composure and addressed Milla. "Milla, where is your mother now?" She asked urgently. However, Milla still stood limp, unable to process anything until Doriado called to her again. "Milla!"
"Eh?" Milla snapped back to reality, though still traumatized.
"Where is your mother?"
"She's... She's home, in her bed." Milla answered.
"EARTH Tribute Charmer Sabre and DARK Tribute Charmer Bezal!" Doriado turned and began hurriedly giving orders. "Hurry to the LIGHT family mansion and get Sybil to the health clinic immediately! FIRE Tribute Charmer Pyrrhus, collect the sample of poison from Vanity and Ariel and standby to test it!"
In response to her orders, those she spoke to quickly turned to go do as she asked, but as they did they stopped when they heard another voice speak up. "That won't be necessary..." The one who spoke was Noellia, and most of the room turned to look at her in surprise. "I know when I'm beat."
For just a second, the room went silent with surprise again. Even Ariel and Vanity raised their eyebrows when they heard Noellia. "Are you confessing?" Mistress Doriado asked her.
Noellia had dropped her head, and having said what she said, her daughter Emilia was staring at her with an even more traumatized face than when Ariel accused her to begin with, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. Without raising her head, Noellia answered Doriado. "Yes, I confess the everything I have been accused of. It is all true."
The moment those words left her mouth, Emilia cracked. She threw her hands to her mouth to smother a scream of wallowing sorrow and immediately bolted out of the courtroom. "Emilia!" Having been watching her, Avance immediately stood up and raced after her, both leaving the courtroom as many heads swiveled to see it on account of Avance's shout, but there was nothing to be done about it.
Mistress Doriado took a deep breathe and straightened herself, donning a stern expression to finish out the trial. "Tribute Charmers, Tribute Charmer Gishki Noellia has confessed to the murder of Gishki Natalia, former Tribute Charmer Gishki Kimara, and to the poisoning of former Tribute Charmer Sybil the Temporal Sorceress. Though I am sure there is no need to ask, please raise your hand if you find her guilty." She said, and in response, the five hands of the Tribute Charmers on their platforms rose one after another, until finally even Milla's slow processing brain registered the command raised her hand. "Noellia, you have been found guilty of all charges. For this highest of treasons, I hereby sentence you to death." Mistress Doriado proclaimed, and once more slammed her gavel down, ending the trial.
A minute later, Dharc's father Bezal approached the floor, Mistress Doriado lowered the Mirror Wall trap, and the DARK Tribute Charmer put magic-inhibiting handcuffs on Noellia's wrists. Milla watched with a mix of horror and hatred as Bezal began walking her off to the exit.
But just then, Noellia's eyes met Milla's, and she stopped to say one last thing. "Not that it changes anything; but your mother was poisoned by mistake." She told Milla, who jerked back in surprise. "It was never supposed to happen." And despite saying this, Noellia's eyes were cold and stale, her voice flat without any form of remorse to be found.
Bezal then continued to take Noellia away, but now, something inside Milla broke. She had no idea why Noellia had bothered to tell her that, but her choice of words hit her hard. 'It was never supposed to happen.' Those words did nothing but emphasize her feelings about her mother's death now that the reason behind it was now established as an unnatural poison.
"Milla..." From the bleachers, Nadia called up to her with an expression not much different from Milla's.
Looking down at her family, she saw that Kiran and Lyna were also in similar states. Kiran was holding his head with his hands, noticeably shaking even from where Milla stood overhead; and Lyna was frozen solid, her eyes wide and mouth dropped slightly open as she stared at where Noellia had been. Milla swallowed hard as she looked at Nadia. "Come one, we've got to go home!" She said, trying her absolute hardest not to sound as traumatized as she felt.
Milla turned and rushed out, and Nadia had to half drag Kiran and Lyna from their seat before they all turned and rushed out themselves. And on the other end of the room, Dharc hurriedly got to his feet when he saw Lyna leaving with her siblings, prepared to run after her. However, when he stood up, he remembered that Lyna wasn't the only one of them that had been traumatized. Thinking that, he looked over at Eria, who was left alone in her bleachers after Emilia and Avance ran out, although he looked down at Ariel and Vanity who were also looking to her, and he expected them to go up to try and explain themselves to her.
Normally, Dharc wouldn't have even stopped to think about it and just run after Lyna. But recently he had actually been getting closer to the other Charmers and was considering staying to help comfort her. Considering his options, he wondered whether it was really a good idea to go to Lyna right now.
From the sound of things, Sybil was still alive right now and she was going back to her mansion to tell her what just happened. Thinking that, he knew she would prefer some time alone with her family at first. And so he made his decision and hurried over to Eria. Going around the hallway that connected to all the bleachers, Dharc ran around, and as he came close to the door that lead to the FIRE family bleachers, Hiita popped out in front of him.
"Dharc, are you going after Lyna?" She asked him.
But Dharc shook his head. "Lyna need to be with her family right now. We can go to her after Eria calms down." He said.
Hiita looked surprised by Dharc saying something like that, and suddenly realized just how much Dharc had grown over the last couple months. Not only was he thinking about the others instead of just Lyna, but when he mentioned going to her later, he was inclusive of the rest by saying 'we can go to her' instead of talking strictly about himself.
Hiita nodded to Dharc and the two of them continued down the hall until they went past the doors leading to the EARTH family bleachers and the visiting bleachers before reaching the WATER family bleachers, where they saw Aussa and Wynn reach it and stop to look at one another in front of it. "Hey, wait for us." Hiita called to them, making them turn to see them approaching.
"Both of you? Aren't you going after Lyna, Dharc?" Aussa asked.
Again Dharc shook his head. "She needs to be with her family right now." He said again, then Aussa and Wynn nodded in agreement before turning to the door and opening it to Eria.
They filed out into the bleachers slowly, and they all looked at Eria as she sat completely frozen, stunned beyond comprehension. Walking over to her quietly, Aussa circled in front of her while Hiita and Dharc went to her sides and Wynn walked up behind her. Eria looked up at Aussa and then around at the others. Aussa kneeled in front of Eria and lightly cupped one her hands in hers as Hiita sat down to Eria's right and placed her hand on Eria's other hand and squeezed it compassionately. After that, Wynn leaned down from behind her and wrapped her arms around Eria's neck lovingly and tenderly; and finally, Dharc took a seat to Eria's left, and placed his hand on her shoulder.
None of them said a word, but their feelings were still conveyed loud and clear to Eria as she looked around at each of them in turn, stopping on Dharc, whom even she was surprised hadn't raced unflinchingly after Lyna. Tears had formed in the corners of her eye and she was partially choked up as she spoke. "You guys... thank you." She told them gratefully. "Thank you..."
Eria felt like her family had just been torn apart. The parents that she had loved so much were actually murdered by the step-mother she had always respected. Her sister Ariel and Vanity - whom she thought of as family - had been the ones to reveal it. Emilia, a step-sister that she loved just as much as the rest was surely crushed under the pain of learning this about her own mother, and Avance, who cared for her more than anyone was chasing after her without knowing what he could do or if he could do anything to help her.
She was so confused and conflicted that she just felt numb all over. She felt horrible, and didn't want to hold it in. And with her friends surrounding her, she didn't feel a need to. Eria let herself fall into Hiita and gripped her shirt as she began to whimper and cry as the others adjusted their positions to fit around her, continuing to provide her support.

* * *

After running as fast as they could back to their home, Milla, Nadia, Kiran, and Lyna and rushed into the mansion and to their mother's room. "Mom!" Milla called as she threw the door open and looked inside to see her mother still sitting there, same as when she left her.
"Milla... everyone..." Sybil said slowly as she looked at all of their worried and shocked faces, wondering what had happened. "Is something wrong?"
When her mother asked, Milla's throat closed up and she felt tears trying to well up, but blinked them back, not allowing herself to cry in front of her mother. Taking a breathe with difficulty, Milla walked forward and took her mother's hands in her own, her younger siblings all standing behind her. "Mom..." She began, and Sybil looked worried. "It has... been revealed..." She stuttered as she tried to get it out. "That Noellia was responsible... for the deaths of both Gishki Natalia and Gishki Kimara."
Sybil's expression went blank for a moment. "...What?"
"She poisoned them. And..." Milla continued, still forcing herself not to cry, although her voice was beginning to crack up. "The poison that killed them... has also... been used on you."
"Bu- what?" Sybil herself was thrown into confusion, unable to understand this.
"She said that... that you were a mistake." Milla continued. "But she admitted to it."
"Hold on now, start fro-" Sybil tried to get a better explanation, but in the middle of her sentence, she began hacking uncontrollably, alarming her children.
"MOM!" They all shouted in unison.
Sybil stopped hacking after a moment and cleared her throat. "I'm- I'm fine." She told them, despite the obvious fact that she was most certainly not fine. "Please, what happened? Start from the beginning." Sybil requested.
Slowly, Milla nodded, and began to explain everything that happened at the trial.

* * *

Back at the courthouse, while mostly everyone else had filed out, Eria and the other Charmers still sat in the bleachers together. Finally though, Ariel and Vanity appeared at the door, and the first to notice them was Aussa when she momentarily glanced up from Eria. "Eria," Aussa whispered to her friend and partner, pointing back so that she and the others would turn to see them.
"Eria, are you okay?" Ariel asked her younger sister sympathetically.
Wiping tears from her eyes and sniffling, Eria stood up and looked at Ariel. "I will be." She said, and then ran up to Ariel and embraced her, which surprised Ariel. "I want to thank you."
Ariel and Vanity gaped at Eria. Of all the things they had expected her to say to them here, 'thank you' didn't even make the list. "Thank... us?" Ariel asked.
"It's hard now; and painful." Eria said, without letting Ariel go. "But... I'm glad that I know what really happened." She told her sister and looked up at her and Vanity. "You did it for Mom and Dad. They would have been proud of you both. So thank you."
For a moment, Ariel and Vanity exchanged glances of surprise. They were amazed that Eria could be so strong after all of this. Proud of her strength, Ariel looked back down at her with a warm smile and brushed her hair with one hand. "And they would have been proud of you too Eria." She told her.
The sisters continue to hug for a second more before Eria stepped back, rubbed any remaining tears out of her eyes, and turned to the other Charmers. "Thank you again, everyone." She said with a smile. "You can all go to Lyna now. She need you too."
"What about you?" Aussa asked.
"I need to look Avance and Emilia." Eria answered, and her friends nodded in understanding.
"Good luck," Hiita told her.
"You too," Eria replied, and they all left the courthouse, going in separate directions.

* * *

As quickly as they could, Aussa, Wynn, Hiita, and Dharc arrived at the LIGHT family mansion. When they did, Dharc went up first and knocked on the door while they all caught their breath a little. Soon after, the door creaked open and Nadia poked her head, then looked taken aback when she saw it was them.
"Oh... you guys must be looking for Lyna huh?" She asked, looking depressed.
"Yeah, can we see her?" Hiita requested.
"And is your mom okay?" Aussa added.
Nadia cracked a very slight grin to show her appreciation for Aussa asking that. "She's as good as she can be, all things considered." She told them somewhat meekly. "But... I'm sorry, Lyna's not here."
"What?" Wynn asked in surprise. "Where is she?"
Nadia avoided looking them in the eyes. "I don't know, she just ran off after we told mom about the trial."
"You don't have any idea where she could have gone?" Hiita asked, begging for any clue, but Nadia just shook her head regrettably.
"I'm sorry I can't be of more help." Nadia said, and then closed the door, heading back inside.
"Well come on!" Hiita then told the others. "We've got to go look for her!"
"You're right," Aussa agreed. "But let's split up. We'll be able to cover more ground that way. Hiita, Dharc, you two go East, Wynn and I will take the West." Aussa immediately made a plan, and the others all nodded in agreement with this, then turned and headed off to search.
Taking the first turn left, Hiita waited a moment before she thought to ask, "Hey Dharc, you know Lyna the best. Don't you have any idea where Lyna might have gone?" For a second Dharc thought, and then suddenly something did come to mind and he jerked to a stop, causing Hiita almost trip over herself when she stopped after him. "What is it? Did you think of something?" She asked hurriedly.
However, without answering, Dharc turned around and began running in a different direction from where they were heading, and Hiita quickly went after him.

* * *

And while the other Charmers looked for Lyna; Eria, Ariel, and Vanity ran around looking for Avance and Emilia. "Where do you think they would have gone?" Eria asked the others, hoping maybe they would have an idea.
But Ariel shook her head regretfully. "Emilia was in high distress; not that I can say I didn't expect that when we revealed Noellia. But the problem is that Emilia probably isn't running to anywhere in particular, she's just going to run until she can't anymore. Or until Avance gets her to stop." She explained.
"All we can do is keep looking." Vanity added.
Eria looked down for a second, saddened by this idea. But she reminded herself to stay strong so she could help calm Emilia and Avance when they found them and picked up her head. And then, she turned to look down another street as they walked by it, and stopped. Ariel and Vanity stopped when as well when they noticed, and then followed her eyes down the street and saw Avance sitting against a wall a few yards away - alone.
"Avance!" Eria called out to him and jumped into a sprint to him.
Avance picked his head up when he heard Eria call him, looking depressed. Of course if he was here alone, it was easy to guess why. "Eria," Avance breathed out.
Reaching him, Eria immediately asked, "Avance, where's Emilia?"
But Avance looked distraught at being asked, and dropped his head again as Ariel and Vanity arrived behind Eria. "Did you lose her?" Ariel asked. "We can still look for her."
But Avance shook his head to this. "No, if it was just that I would still be looking for her." He told them. "I caught her, but she wouldn't listen at all. She just screamed at me to leave her alone." He explained, his voice becoming progressively more miserable.
Eria looked at Avance sympathetically and leaned down to put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, which he move his own hand up to to hold. "She'll come back," Eria told Avance. "Just give her time. Eventually, she'll come back."
"Yeah, I know... you're right Eria." Avance said, although he didn't lift his head.
Moving to be in front of him, Ariel took a knee and spoke to him as well. "Besides Avance, with Noellia out of power, you're next in line to be Tribute Charmer." She told him, making him lift his head suddenly in that realization. "I know it's hard, but you need to step up and stay strong now. It's your responsibility now."
After letting that idea sink in for a minute, Avance nodded, strengthened his expression, and got to his feet. "You're right Ariel; thank you." He told her.
Ariel gave him a lighthearted smile. "You shouldn't thank me, I'm basically forcing this responsibility onto you." She pointed out, but Avance smiled at her anyways before turning to Vanity.
"And thank you Vanity, for helping reveal Noellia's treachery." He told him, and held out his hand.
Shaking Avance hand, Vanity bowed in respect. "I was glad to be of assistance. I would do anything for your family."
"And we couldn't be happier to have it. My father would be deeply proud of you." Avance told him, releasing his hand.
"Well then, shall we return to the estate and wait for Miss Emilia to return?" Vanity asked the Gishki member, who all nodded and returned home together.

* * *

After running for a fairly long time Hiita found that Dharc had led them to a place at the very edge of the village. Specifically, they came upon a broken down building known as the 'First Tower'. During the Fabled War, almost all the battles had been fought in enemy territory. However, knowing that the Charmer Clan was one of the most influential leaders in the war, a sneak attack was launched from this point. The attack didn't get very far, but as a reminder of the war, the Charmer Clan left the tower as it was, in disrepair.
When Dharc and Hiita came to a stop at the entrance, Dharc looked up to examine the damaged building. Then from behind him, Hiita asked, “Why would Lyna be here?”
“Because no one would think to look for her here.” Dharc answered, and entered the tower through the empty doorway. “Go find Aussa and Wynn and bring them back here.” He told Hiita.
“But what if she’s not in there?” Hiita asked reasonably.
“She is, trust me.” He told her and she straightened up, then nodded and turned back to the village to find the others.
Dharc took a deep breath before continuing into the tower and looked around for the purpose of nostalgia. To his right, he saw the stone staircase that spiraled up the side of the tower to the number of floors, although they had been destroyed in several places, so now ladders connected each ruined section of a floor to one another. The tower had no lighting of its own, but with the many holes in the tower walls, there was still plenty of light inside.
Dharc quietly approached the tall ladder that connected the ground floor to the next floor up, which was about 80% destroyed. And at the top of the ladder, Dharc poked his head up and looked across at end of the floor that remained which had a large hole looking out across the plains, able to see a forest in the distance.
And there, sitting on the edge overlooking that scenery while the sun began to fall as it passed midday, Dharc saw Lyna. But when he did, he couldn’t help but remember the first time they had both been here; and their roles were reverse.
“Found you!” Lyna had said, alerting a young Dharc to her presence and he turned to see her. “I thought I’d find you here.”
“How did you find me here?” Dharc asked Lyna, sounding worried as Lyna approached him and he eyed the ladder as if others might come up after her.
Lyna noticed his worried gaze and assured him, “It’s okay, I didn’t bring anyone else with me.”
Looking back to her, Dharc asked again, “How did you find me?”
“I just thought: ‘if I wanted to hide somewhere no one would think to look for me, where would I go?’ And this place is what came to mind.” Lyna explained, and beamed down at him happily as though she had just won a game of hide-and-seek.
Sighing, Dharc turned away and looked out the hole in the wall again. “Well what do you want? Leave me alone.” He told her.
“Well do you want me to tell you what I want, or to leave you alone?” Lyna asked playfully. “I can’t really do both, now can I?”
Again, Dharc sighed with irritation, and yet despite that, he asked again, “What do you want?”
With a smile, Lyna sat down beside Dharc. “I don’t really want anything. I just came to make sure you were okay.”
“I’m fine,” Dharc told her hurriedly, sounding unconvincing as he turned his head away from his cousin.
But immediately afterward, Lyna knocked the back of his head lightly with a fist. "Liar, if you were okay then you wouldn't have run off."
"Then why'd you ask!?" Dharc asked angrily.
"It's a courtesy." Lyna answered swiftly, and then silence followed due to the young Charmers unsure how to continue the conversation. The two then turned and looked out at the horizon for a minute until Lyna spoke to her cousin again. "Why'd you come out here?"
"To be alone."
"Why do you want to be alone?"
"I need to be alone."
"Why do you think that?"
"Why do you care!?" As Dharc became more angry with Lyna, he stood up and shouted at her.
But instead of looking shocked or dismayed, Lyna looked up at Dharc like she was annoyed. "I care because we're family!" She exclaimed. "That's what family does."
"Please," Dharc huffed and turned away from Lyna again, crossing his arms. "My family doesn't care."
"Of course they do, they're just hoping you can figure it out without help." Lyna told him. "All our families are, its what they trained us for." She added, her voice becoming softer, gentler.
"Maybe that's what they trained the rest of you for." Dharc retorted again, although his tone was becoming less aggravated now and more depressed. "The DARK family is different. We don't have the same priorities."
"Oh, so that's what this is about." But in response, Lyna suddenly sounded condescending. "You don't think anyone knows how you feel because of that?"
"You don't." Dharc plopped himself back down near the edge of the tower.
"I lost my dad too you know." Lyna told him cynically. "And in case you forgot, your mom was my Aunt. I'm sad too.
"We all lost people we cared about in the war. You're not alone in this."
"I feel alone." Dharc muttered, more to himself than to Lyna.
But Lyna had heard him, and this time she didn't retort. Instead, she looked to Dharc sympathetically and sighed. A moment later, she got on her knees and moved up behind Dharc, and wrapped her arm around him. He flinched a bit when she did, but he didn't stop her. She held him firmly, but gently, and they just sat there until Dharc decided to go back.

That had been the start of it. The start of when Dharc had looked to Lyna like the only person that really cared for him; the only one he truly thought of as 'family'. And now, years later, she was sitting alone in the same place, as if their positions were completely reversed.
Taking a deep breath, Dharc finally took the last steps from the ladder onto the floor and silently walked up next to Lyna, startling her as she caught sight of him in the corner of her eye and he sat down beside her.
Looking out across the land, Lyna spoke first. "Hi Dharc, should have figured you would realize I was here."
Looking at her, Dharc went ahead and asked. "Are you okay?"
Lyna took in a sharp breath and exhaled. "Isn't that obvious?" Lyna asked.
"'It's a courtesy.'" Dharc reminded her, hoping to make her laugh or at least smile with her own words, but sadly barely saw the corner of her mouth twitch. "I'm sorry about Sybil." He added.
"I know, thanks Dharc." Lyna said softly.
"Why did you come out here?" He asked her next.
In response though, Lyna shrugged. "I don't know. I guess I felt like I needed to be alone for a bit."
And then, Dharc asked Lyna then question he had never answered. "Why do you think that?"
Lyna was silent for a moment, her eyes flickering around while she tried to figure it out herself. "I think... I think I just felt like I needed some time to think though everything on my own without anyone telling me what they thought. I wanted to sort it out myself."
"And?" Dharc asked, wondering what conclusion she had come to.
"It's strange; I've thought I was prepared for this my whole life, but now all of this happens and suddenly it all feels different. Nothing's changed, but just the way I look at it now... it's worse."
"Of course it's worse. You thought your mom was just ill but now you find out she's been killed. That changes everything."
"But I was always fine before."
"This was still different." Dharc told her. "Before everyone was dying in battle. This time someone we trusted killed her. It's not the same this time.
"But you know you're not alone, right?"
At this, Dharc finally saw a smile peek on Lyna's face. "Yeah, I know. Thank you for being here Dharc." She told him, and then leaned over onto his shoulder.
In return, Dharc put his arm around her gently, and they just sat there until Hiita came back with Aussa and Wynn and huddled in around them, just like they had with Eria until Lyna was ready to go back.

* * *

Hiding alone in the village, Emilia sat sobbing into her knees after she couldn't run anymore. "Mother... how can this be true... How could you do this?" She cried to herself, still trying to convince herself it wasn't true even when her mother admitted to it herself.
She continued to sob there on her own until her tears ran dry and all she could do anymore was sniffle and whimper. But just then, Emilia heard what sounded like running water right in front of her, and slowly brought her head up to see a space open up in front of her that opened up to some body of water. A moment later, a head rose up out of the hole and looked into Emilia's eyes. Emilia immediately recognized the creature as one of her mother's familiars: Gishki Abyss.
"A-Abyss? Wh-what are you..." She began, but trailed off as she lost her train of thought.
At that moment, Abyss reached out his hand and grabbed Emilia's wrist to pull her down into the hole he had come from, which then closed behind them.

* * *

After hearing a knock at the front door, Avance rushed over to it and threw it open with his mind reeling. "Emilia!" He shouted with hope, but only found it was Milla instead, who had jumped at his reaction. Immediately averting his eyes, Avance apologized. "Sorry, I-I was hoping-"
"That's alright." Milla told Avance, looking down the hall a bit as she did. "Are Ariel and Vanity here?"
"Yeah, they're just-" Avance began, but cut himself off when he turned to the side and saw the two turn the corner and stop, looking to Avance expectantly. "Right here." He finished, pointing to Ariel and Vanity.
Vanity and Ariel shared a meaningful look. They had been expecting this, of course, but that in no way would make this easier to say or hear. The two of them walked over to the door and looked out to face Milla. "Could you give us some privacy for a minute Avance?" Ariel requested.
"R-right," Avance said, and walked away.
After Avance was out of earshot, Ariel and Vanity watched Milla and waited for her to voice her reason for being here. Stuttering some due to insecurity and nerves, Milla asked, "I-I'm sure I already... k-know the answer, but..." She began, her eyes unable to meet theirs. "...Isn't there... anything you could do to help my mom?" She finally got it out, and Ariel and Vanity let out breathes they had barely noticed they were holding. "I mean... you have the poison she used, right? Could you... make an antidote."
Again, the two Gishki members shared a glance, and then Vanity stepped a bit closer to Milla. "I'm sorry." He answered, and that alone almost brought Milla to tears. "If there was anything we could have done, we wouldn't have waited for the trial. We've already analyzed the poison several times but... there is no antidote for this."
"We're sorry you had to find out this way." Ariel told Milla. "We're truly sorry."
It took her a second, but Milla wiped at her nose and held her head up to face Ariel and Vanity directly. "You shouldn't be sorry. None of this is your fault." She told them with a sigh. "I just had to ask."
"We understand." Ariel told Milla. "Are you and your siblings going to be okay?"
"We will be... eventually." Milla answered. "Don't worry about us; you have your own to look after too." She said, and turned to head back home. "And, just... thanks for being honest. I know this wasn't any easier on you."
And for a third time, Ariel and Vanity looked at one another, only this time in surprise. This was the third time they had been thanked when it was the last thing they had expected to hear. Even more, they hardly felt deserving of the thanks for the amount of grief they caused by exposing Noellia; and yet now they had been thanked by Eria, Avance, and Milla.
Milla departed, and so the Ariel and Vanity closed the door and went back into the house. "Now if we can just get Emilia back here." Ariel said, casting her eyes down as she hoped Emilia would be alright.

* * *

And after a very long day, night fell over the Charmer village. And in the prison hold, Noellia lay on a thin mattress in her cell until her execution could be arranged. However, Noellia had no intention of actually staying here to wait for that to happen. After waiting for hours, she heard running water within her cell and a crooked smiled came to her lips. Without looking over, she spoke to her familiar. "You took longer than I expected, Abyss."
Rising up so half his body was outside the hole in space that led to water and spoke to Noellia in his silent tongue, excusing his tardiness. "No matter, you have Emilia with you, yes?" Noellia questioned, sitting up on her mattress. Abyss answered, and Noellia's grin grew slightly wider. "Excellent, then let's not waste any more time here." She told her familiar, and Abyss lowered back down into the water below him, and Noellia dropped in after him, escaping from her prison and the Charmer clan.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:30 am

Wow... this chapter blew me away. Initially, when you first introduced the idea that the Gishkis had been poisoned, I thought that Vanity was going to prove it by drinking the vial himself. But your idea was much more interesting! And holy crap, the ending was awesome as always. Smells like the Aquamirror Ritual is going to take place soon... and by soon, I mean not until much later, since that's what a good cliffhanger writer does XD

Excellent work, mate; I cannot wait for the next chapter. Hopefully we can see a bit more of the Charmers' training step 3 as well.

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Jun 23, 2014 10:01 pm

Hippocampus wrote:
Wow... this chapter blew me away. Initially, when you first introduced the idea that the Gishkis had been poisoned, I thought that Vanity was going to prove it by drinking the vial himself. But your idea was much more interesting!
I'm glad you enjoyed it so much., the ironic thing about that however is that I had not originally planned this when I scripted Sybil to be sick. (mainly, it was just a plot device meant to land Milla in the spot of Tribute Charmer) But that's what I love about writing, it evolves all on its own.

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And holy crap, the ending was awesome as always. Smells like the Aquamirror Ritual is going to take place soon... and by soon, I mean not until much later, since that's what a good cliffhanger writer does XD
It definitely won't be until much later... and by much later, I mean not until I finish this story and work on the separate Clan side stories I plan to write  hmpfh
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Mon Jun 29, 2015 7:59 am

Chapter 7: Taking Charge

“Are you serious about this?” Ariel asked Avance, her voice strained with disbelief as she watched her brother packing a bag with basic necessities.
“You think I'm joking?” Avance retorted without turning to look at Ariel.
And while the two argued, Eria stood in the doorway, watching them with worried attention.
In the middle of the night, it had been discovered that Noellia had disappeared from her cell, and that Emilia – whom the Gishki family had been hoping would return before they went to sleep last night – was missing along with her own familiar: Marker. After an emergency meeting between the Tribute Charmers, Avance had returned saying that it was decided he would be leaving the village in search of her.
Needless to say, Ariel didn’t like it. “Why does it have to be you? We should be organizing a specialized team for something like this!” She argued.
“You’re wrong Ariel.” Avance quickly shot her down. “Don’t you think that if there was another option we would have taken it? It can’t be anyone else. Anyone else and this whole thing would go public; it would be chaos.”
Ariel gritted her teeth. She wanted to deny that, but she knew all too well it was true. Noellia had been the Tribute Charmer of the WATER element. If it went public that not only had she been found guilty of murder to get to that position but that she was now on the loose, everything would spiral out of control.
Citizens of the WATER lands would be scared senseless that Noellia could be somewhere nearby and conspiracy theories would pop up all over that another war was brewing. And after just getting out of the bigger mess caused by the Fabled War, if rumors like that began spreading around the world, whatever Noellia might try next was the least of their worries.
“The only way to keep this under wraps is for me to look for Noellia myself.” Avance said, still not looking at Ariel.
“This is ridiculous!” She stated in frustration. “Even if it really is the only way, you’re not experienced enough to handle this on your own. They can’t make you-”
“This was my idea.” Avance interrupted Ariel on that point, and he heard Eria inhale sharply at his door.
“You volunteered? Why?” Ariel asked, her voice rising in volume.
“Because – like I’ve already said – this is the only way.” Avance answered.
Again, Ariel gritted her teeth. "Is that the real reason?" She questioned. "Or are you doing this because of Emilia?"
Needless to say, the fact that Noellia and Emilia had disappeared in the same night almost certainly meant that Noellia had abducted her. And likewise, Avance's feelings for Emilia also didn't need to be verbalized.
But Ariel's question didn't bother Avance. Instead, he gave her a very similar question. "And you; do you really not want me to go because you don't think it's a good idea? Or do you just feel guilty because you think you caused all of this?"
When Avance said that to her, Ariel went cold. It was her fault; if she hadn't revealed Noellia, she wouldn't have escaped, and this wouldn't be happening.
But rather than leaving it at that, Avance finally turned around and looked at Ariel, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Ariel, this isn't your fault. You did what you had to do to protect the Charmer Clan; you did the right thing.
"And I have to do this now." He continued. "Whatever my personal reasons, it doesn't change that this is the best decision we could make."
That was all Avance had to say on the subject. He wasn't denying that he had given this suggestion so he could go after Emilia, he was just denying that it changed anything about the current situation.
Looking down with resignation, Ariel accepted that. "I understand..." She muttered quietly.
Nodding, Avance picked up his pack and hung it over his shoulder, beginning to make his way out. As he passed Eria, he reached down and rubbed her head, "Take care of yourself." He told her before continuing down the hall.
But a second late, Eria ran at Avance from behind and threw her arms around him in a fierce embrace. She was silent, but when Avance turned and looked down at her, he could see that was because she was fighting back tears, her eyes squeezed shut and her teeth clenched as her lips quivered.
Eria wanted so badly to tell him not to go. After feeling like her whole family had been ripped apart, she couldn't stand the thought of Avance leaving and not ever knowing if he was alright or not. But no matter how much she wanted Avance to stay, she knew that there was nothing she could say to make him. Not only did he have to go, he wanted to go.
So in the end, all Eria could say was, "I'm going to miss you."
After another squeeze, Eria let go of her brother and looked up at him. In return, Avance turned back toward his little sister an then kneeled down in front of her to give her a fierce hug of his own. "I'll miss you too Eria." He told her before pulling away, giving her a quick smile, and standing back up to leave, with the familiars Diviner, Mollusk, and Beast waiting outside to travel with him.
When he was gone, Eria went back to his room where Ariel now sat against the wall, holding her head with one hand like she had a headache. Feeling very much the same, Eria walked over and sat down next to her sister, leaning up against her.
Putting her arm around Eria, Ariel thought out loud with a sigh. "How did it end up like this? Everything just went so wrong..."
"You did everything you could." Eria told her in a poor attempt to make them both feel better about the situation.
To this, Ariel took a long sigh and then stood up. "Come on, you need to eat and head off for class." She said, and reached a hand down to Eria, who nodded and took it.

* * *

Due to yesterday's events, the six youngest charmers had actually been given the option not to come to class for the next few days; but when Eria arrived, she found that no one had taken that option. Rather than sit around and mope for awhile, the six of them now wanted to use their training as a distraction from everything that happened. This was especially true for Eria and Lyna, whom had been most affected by the information.
Everyone looked to Eria when she came in, and once she had walked over to stand next to Aussa, looked up at Mistress Doriado for there instruction. "Good morning everyone. Now then, let's get started..."

Two months later

It was just after lunch, and Lyna was putting fresh flowers on her mother's grave. After doing so and offering a short prayer to her, Lyna then stood up and headed back out of the Charmer Cemetery to meet up with everyone else who were waiting at the edge of the village, where Ariel was currently giving them instructions.
"...And remember, even though we've done everything we can to keep Noellia's disappearance from getting out, some rumors are sure to have started by now." She told Eria. "If anyone asks you about it, deny it." She finished, and Eria nodded.
Today, Eria, Aussa, Hiita, Dharc, Wynn, and Lyna would be heading out to a small nearby settlement in the WATER lands as part of their training to handle these disputes later on as full-fledged Charmers. This was of course very unusual, but since Avance was gone searching for Noellia and Emilia, Ariel and Eria were the only Gishkis left in the Charmer village. And since Ariel was currently acting as the Tribute Charmer in Avance's absence, she couldn't leave the village herself for everything that popped up, but at the same time, Eria couldn't be expected to handle these situations on her own yet.
And so even though it was unorthodox - both for Charmers so young to handle these cases and for Charmers of different attributes to help in single situations that only involved one land's citizens - this method was being used as part of their training.
"Alright then all of you, good luck." Ariel told the Charmers now that Lyna had arrived. "See you when you get back."
And with that, Ariel headed back to the Gishki family mansion and the six young Charmers set out for their destination, Aqua Minor. "Alright, so let's go over the details one more time before we get there." Eria turned to the others and continued to walk backwards as she read through a couple of forms. "We got a claim from the Water Magician: Maria stating that a debtor of hers - Aqua Madoor - has been refusing to make his regular payments for the last few months and so has called us to help settle the matter."
"I thought money matters were handled by the Fortune Ladies, not us." Wynn noted.
Correcting her, Lyna explained, "The Fortune Ladies only handle money matters if there was a transaction that went directly through them or the amount involved exceeds 50,000 Kules. We still handle the smaller, personal loans."
"Make's perfect sense if you think about it." Hiita noted. "Not like you can expect the Fortune Ladies to handle every dime in the world."
"Right," Eria nodded. "Now, since this is really Gishki jurisdiction, it's my job to run everything and deliver the final verdict. Of course I'll be asking you all for you input toward the end, but for the most part you should just be like crowd control incase things gets out of hand."
"You got it, boss." Hiita responded with a playful salute as the group continued on their way.

By the time the six young Charmers finally arrived in Aqua Minor, it was nearly mid-day, meaning that depending on how long it took them to solve the issue at hand, they may need to spend the night here before returning home. Technically that wasn't anything new; but as the six youngest of the Charmer clans, everyone wanted them back as soon as possible.
But as they entered the town, the citizens of Aqua Minor approached them with interest. "You're from the Charmer Clan right?" One confirmed.
"That's right, but if you'll excuse us we need to get to our client." Eria answered, but tried to get through quickly in hopes that she could avoid any of them encroaching on the Noellia topic.
But perhaps because they were young, the WATER citizens did not seem to take them completely seriously and continued to crowd them, and just as Eria feared, it did not take long for someone to ask. "How come one of the older Charmers didn't come? Why is it the six of you?"
Keeping her breathing steady, Eria gave a pre-planned excuse. "This is part of a new training regimen that Elemental Mistress Doriado is trying out with us. She wants to see if early field experience will speed up our learning curve."
After answering with this, Eria once again tried to push through, but yet another citizen crowding them asked the big question they were truly hoping to avoid. "I heard something happened with the Gishki family and Madam Noellia. Is that true?"
Eria had to bite her tongue to keep herself from denying that too quickly. If she had shouted out that it wasn't true immediately, it would have been obvious she was lying. Looking to the one that asked with a stern expression, Eria answered, "No it is not. Those rumors have no basis. The Gishki family is doing fine."
"But something had to happen!" The people insisted. "Rumors don't come from thin air!"
At this point, Eria really started to get worried. But because the others noticed that, Hiita reached up and tapped Eria on the shoulder. Giving her a nod to say she would take it from here, Hiita stepped up in front of Eria and held up her magic staff. With that motion, she shot off her fire magic into the air and it burst loudly overhead to silence the crowd.
"Okay people," Hiita addressed the WATER people. "Now, we have a job to do here, and while your concern is appreciated, you are kind of getting in our way of doing it." She said strongly to indicate she was to be taken seriously. "So if you will please let us through."
Following this, the citizens slowly but surely made way for the Charmers to continue to their destination with Eria in the lead. Once they were out of earshot of the civilians, Aussa leaned over to Hiita and whispered her concern. "Are you sure that was the best way to handle that?"
When rumors like this get started, whether they are true or not, sometimes refusing to answer or trying to get away from those asking would only increase suspicion that the rumor was true. It was possible that Hiita silencing them in the way she did was taken that way, and would only make things worse.
But in response, Hiita whispered back, "What I'm sure of is that there is no 'best way' to handle the rumors about Noellia." She told Aussa, and then defended her point. "Even I'm smart enough to realize that with a rumor as serious as this one, the only way anyone will be satisfied is if we were to publically present Noellia to them. Anything less than that is just a cover up to them.
"What I did just now, I did to get us and more importantly Eria out of there before it got too out of hand."
"Yeah, I guess you've got a point." Aussa admitted with a sigh. "Huh, never thought I'd be saying that to you." She added as a joke, winning her a punch to the shoulder from Hiita, but also successfully lightening the mood.
After a while longer, the young Charmers reached the Water Magician's house. "Alright, here we are." Eria told the others before knocking on the door.
"Just a second," A voice called from outside, and a moment later, the Water Magician Maria opened the door to them. "You're the Charmers?" She confirmed.
Nodding, Eria motioned her outside. "Now if you'll lead us to where Aqua Madoor lives, we can get started."
"Of course," Maria said stepping outside, locking the door to her house, and then leading the way to Aqua Madoor. As they began, Maria looked back and asked, "If I may, why is it you six that came here instead of one of the elder Gishki?"
"This is a new training regimen Elemental Mistress Doriado is trying out on us." Eria repeated the cover story. "She wants to see if early field experience will increase our learning curve."
"Oh, I see." Maria accepted the plausible explanation. "Madoor lives closer to the edge of town, but it's not far." She noted, continuing to lead the young Charmers through town.
Eventually, they reached the house of Aqua Madoor, which in reality was one of a few old RV's that would essentially be said to make up the 'poor district' of the town. Walking up to Madoor's, Maria knocked on the door and waited until he opened the door to look at them, a mask covering his face. "Alright, come on Madoor. We've got a court date." Maria told him.
But Madoor's response was edged with annoyance and frustration. "Leave me alone Maria. You'll get your money; I just don't have it right now." He told her and then shut the door to his RV as if he expected her to just accept that.
But naturally his refusal to come along only enraged the Water Magician, and she quickly pounded her fist on the RV door again. "Get out here Madoor!"
"I said to leave me alone!" Madoor shouted back at her without reopening the door.
But before Maria could retaliate further, Eria grabbed her arm to get her attention. "Let me try; this is my job after all." She said, and Maria stepped back for Eria, who took a deep breath before knocking lightly on the door herself. "Aqua Madoor, I am the Water Charmer: Eria of the Gishki clan. Under the laws and regulations of this court case, you are required to appear as a defendant upon summoning.
"Refusal to abide with this court calling will result in your forced detainment." She stated, speaking assertively to indicate her authority on the matter.
With that, Eria let a moment pass in silence, but when no reply came spoke again. "Aqua Madoor, this is your final warning."
Another moment, but still no reply. Eria sighed and looked back to the other Charmers for a second before reaching for the handle of the RV door. But just before she grabbed it, Madoor finally opened the door himself. "Fine, let's just get this over with." He grouched and stepped outside, slamming the door angrily behind him and walking ahead of the others into town.
Looking after him for a moment, Aussa stepped up next to her partner and muttered, "Geez, what a jerk..."
"Aussa," Eria whispered urgently, calling out her quick temper.
Realizing how out of line what she said was just then, Aussa covered her mouth with a hand as if to keep herself from speaking further. Shaking her head, Eria began leading the other Charmers and Maria into town as well, making sure she and the Charmers got in front of Madoor as well. In spite of how out of line Aussa's comment was, Eria couldn't deny how inappropriate Madoor's attitude was.
However, instead of being angry at him like Aussa, Eria just felt bad that she was forcing him to comply like this. She reminded herself that this was all part of the job, and to do it she had to remain impartial.

* * *

Arriving a the court hall of Aqua Minor, one of the workers lead all of them to a small private room they would conduct their business. Rather than a full blown trial, Maria had requested the Charmers to come and act as arbitrators on this case. Therefore, this case would not be handled with a jury, but instead try to simply settle the matter on their own, with the Charmers making a decision after hearing the evidence that would be imposed on both parties involved.
"Alright, just take a seat and we can get started." Eria told Maria and Madoor as they entered the room.
Taking seats on opposite sides of the small table, Aqua Madoor had maintained his poor attitude and just dropped down into a chair, slouching and crossing his arms. Aussa had to turn away from him just to hide a scowl she made at this action, but then Lyna put a hand on her arm and gave her a reassuring nod to cool her down.
This was their first real mission, but it most certainly would not be their last; and that meant that this would not be the last time they had a case in which one of the parties behaved crudely and inappropriately. This was just something they were going to have to get used to and deal with from now on.
Eria took the seat at the head of the table with Aussa, Wynn, and Lyna grabbing spare chairs and sitting close behind her while Dharc and Hiita opted to stay standing, on alert on the off chance things got hairy.
"Alright, to start with, let's go back over the details." Eria said, looking between Madoor and Maria. "Water Magician Maria, the claim you sent in to the Charmer Clan states that thirteen months ago, you loaned Aqua Madoor Қ36,488 for medical bills. Is that correct?"
"Yes," Maria nodded.
"And the agreement the two of you came to was that he would make payments of Қ373 a month?"
"Also correct."
"Now then, Aqua Madoor," Eria turned to the masked spellcaster. "How many months have you failed to make your payments?"
Thanks to his mask, it was impossible to discern Madoor's expression, but he tilted his head down as if averting his eyes. "Five," He grouched.
Eria paused for a second. Five months was a long time to go without repaying even a penny on a loan. Even if something was happening to his funds that would make it harder for him to make the regular payments, he shouldn't have been incapable of giving Maria anything.
"And what reason have you been giving as to why you are unable to make your payments?"
This time, Madoor let out an exasperated sigh before answering the question. "I haven't."
When the answer came, all six charmers eyed Madoor curiously. To not make payments was one thing, to not even try to excuse it was another entirely. "In that case, would you like to give a reason now?" Eria asked, calm but stern to tell him he was obligated to do so.
"I just don't have the money right now."
"The question is not 'do you have the money?' Aqua Madoor." Eria raised her voice with authority. "The question is 'why don't you have the money?'"
"Expenses." Madoor said angrily. "I've had to use every penny I earn lately."
"What for?" Eria asked more calmly, but Madoor went suddenly silent as if refusing to answer. When he was quiet for too long, Aussa leaned over to Eria to whisper a suggestion to her. Eria nodded and then looked back to Madoor again. "Let's take a step back. We've covered that the original loan was for medical fees; but exactly what kind of medical fees were they?"
"My grandfather fell ill."
A momentary flash of empathy passed through Eria, but she bit back her apologies as to remain impartial and continued. "But he's been better since the treatment you got the loan for?"
"Yes," Madoor answered quickly.
"So the 'expenses' you've had recently are unrelated to your previous dilemma?" Eria confirmed, and it was only then Madoor realized the purpose of the question.
With a less direct question, she had ruled out one possible explanation for his inability to repay his debt. But Madoor just went silent again.
Eria looked at Madoor like she was almost disappointed in him, but she decided to switch gears for now in order to progress and turned back to Maria. "Water Magician Maria, how many times during these five months Madoor has failed to make his payments did you attempt to talk to him on your own terms?"
"Several times." Maria answered with tediousness. "Trust me when I say that calling the Charmer Clan was my absolute last resort. But after months of trying to talk to Madoor and continuously just getting a door slammed in my face with the response 'you'll get it, I just don't have it right now', I wasn't left with much alternative."
And there they had it. Madoor had more chances to explain himself to Maria than she probably should have given him. If this had really gone on for five months, Maria really did have no choice but to call in the Charmers. Her suspicion that Madoor simply wouldn't repay her rather than couldn't was easily justified by this.
But one thing that didn't fit into that was that for nearly an entire year, Madoor had been making his payment, not a day late and not a penny under; so the idea that he would suddenly stop completely unusual. But in the end, there job wasn't to contemplate what seemed strange, but simply examine the facts presented to them and come to a conclusion based on that.
Thinking that, Eria turned back to Madoor to give him one last chance. "Aqua Madoor, This is your last opportunity to say your piece. Do you have any explanation for your inability to repay your loan over these last five months?"
Eria watched Madoor and waited for him to say something, but he seemed intent on staying defiantly silent to the end. Unable to take it any longer, Aussa - who was practically about to break her teeth from clenching her jaw - grabbed the end of the table about to stand up and speak out against Madoor despite knowing she shouldn't.
But at the same time, Lyna reached out and grabbed at Aussa's arm, drawing her attention and silently pleading with her not to crack. Aussa had never been pushed this much before, but it had also never been as important that she keep her cool. And so, Aussa sat back in her chair again and took a deep calming breath.
One last time, Eria addressed Madoor. "Aqua Madoor, this is you last chance." She told him, doing her best not to sound angry herself, but just stern.
There was yet another pause, but this time, Madoor did say something, but only to put an end to the questions. "No comment."
But in some ways, that brash declaration was even worse than silent refusal, and Aussa really might have lashed out if she hadn't gotten lucky and choked on her own spit. But it wasn't just her, even Hiita, Wynn, Lyna, and Eria looked completely shocked that he actually gave that kind of ill response. Only Dharc managed to continue looking passive about the situation, and even he had his eyes fixed on Madoor because of it.
But Eria forced herself to become composed and spoke to both Madoor and Maria. "Could the two of you step out into the hall while we discuss our decision?" She said, and so the two of them rose without a word and exited the room.
The first thing Eria did once they were gone though was turn to Aussa, who was hanging her head down after her choke with a hand at her forehead. "You okay?" She asked her.
"Am I just maybe... not cut out for this?" She asked somewhat solemnly.
But Wynn leaned in to reassure her. "We're all new at this, and we're starting early. You can't get discouraged now." She reminded Aussa, and smiled at her
Aussa smiled back. She knew Wynn was right, she always was. "Thanks, Wynn." She said and sat up straight again.
Eria exchanged a smile with her partner, but then got back to the matter at hand. "Well, I'm sure we've all reached the same conclusion, but what are your thoughts?"
But meanwhile, while Maria and Madoor stood out in the hall, Maria spoke to Madoor. "Okay you, this is your real last chance. One way or another I'll find out so why don't you just tell me now?" She told him, but he just looked away from her. "You're grandfather isn't doing better after all is he?"
At this, Madoor actually shot his attention back to Maria, evidently, she hit the mark. "How did you-"
"I know your tell Madoor. Your always too quick to supply your bluff." She said, and Madoor clenched his fist. Suddenly, Maria's voice grew desperate. "Why didn't you just tell me he was getting worst? I would have forgotten about the debt; I would have given you more money. We used to be friends didn't we?"
Just then, Madoor turned directly to Maria and retorted. "And yet despite that, do you know nothing about me?" He asked, and Maria took a step back. "Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to come to you for a loan the first time? You really think I would have been able to come to you for anything after that; much less for the same problem? Give me a break, I've got at least that much pride left."
"Well that pride is going to come back and bite you one of these days if you keep it up!" Maria exclaimed.
"Maybe I'm okay with that." Madoor came back, but in reaction to that moronic reply, Maria reached out and grabbed Madoor's arm.
"Well I'm not." She told him. "Like I just said, we used to be - no, screw it - I'm still your friend Madoor. And I'm proving it right now." She told him, and then walked back to the door.
"Hey, what are you-" Madoor started, but Maria shot him a look to make him shut up.
With that, Maria took a deep breath and opened up that door, walking back into the room where the six young Charmers looked over and stared at her. "Um, Maria, please stay in the hall; we're almost done." Eria told her.
"No, that's not necessary." Maria replied, and the Charmers looked understandably confused. "I know this is unconventional and a bit rude to the six of you after coming out all this way, but I'm dropping the charges against Aqua Madoor."
"Huh?" The Charmers all tilted their heads and gave Maria a weird look.
To say suddenly dropping the charges at this stage was 'unconventional' was putting it lightly. A better phrase to describe this would be 'straight out of the blue'. "Um, may I ask why that is?" Eria posed the question.
Maria scratched her head thought. "Well, let's just say that I'm satisfied." She told them. As Madoor's friend, she wouldn't let his ridiculous pride drag him down further than this, but also as his friend, she wouldn't destroy that pride completely by telling the Charmers about his still ill grandfather.
Even realizing it was that same vagueness that had irritated the Charmers as well as herself when coming from Madoor, she wouldn't tell them about Madoor's grandfather. But she could see that more that upset, the Charmers were just bewildered.
The six young Charmers were looking back and forth between one another with no idea how they were supposed to proceed after this. With a sigh, she tried to help with that. "Again, I realize this is rude to you after coming all the way out here, but I am dropping the charges, so there's nothing else to do here."
The Charmers still looked unsure, but when they looked back at Maria once more and she gave them a reassuring smile, they slowly accepted it. It was somewhat disconcerting, but they couldn't do anything if this was their client's wishes. Eria sighed and turned back to the others. "I guess it can't be helped. Come on everyone, we're heading back home." She declared, and one by one the Charmers stood up and followed Maria back out the door, each one giving a glance to Madoor as they passed, who was refusing to even look in their direction as they made their way from the building.
Once outside, Maria turned back around to the Charmers and bowed. "I'm sorry for inconveniencing you."
Some of them kind of wanted to politely say something like 'no trouble', but due to their still whirling minds and just how true it was that this was extremely inconvenient even for more experienced Charmers, none of them were able to, and just shifted around awkwardly until Maria stood straight again. With nothing left to do or say, the Charmers turned around and started making their way out of Aqua Minor, still enough time at this point to get back home before nightfall.
After they were out of sight, Aqua Madoor exited the building and looked at Maria. Nervously, he cleared his throat to get her attention. "Uh... thank you, I guess." He half-forced himself to say.
Maria smiled at him graciously. "Like I said, I'm your friend. And friends don't let friends drag themselves into the mud over personal agendas."
"I'm still going to pay back every penny I borrowed from you."
"Sure thing Madoor, but no rush. You make sure to take care of your grandfather."
Madoor nodded, and with that headed back home.

* * *

After leaving Aqua Minor and beginning their trek home, Aussa posed a question, everything still bugging her. "But was that really okay? Just leaving it all like that?"
"We didn't have a choice, Maria was our client, so if she said she's dropping the charges, we can't do anything about it." Eria stated the obvious.
"Yeah, I get it, but..." Hiita started. "What exactly are we going to tell Ariel when we get back?"
"What can we tell her besides what happened?" Wynn answered. "I'm sure she'll understand."
"This can't be the first time something like this has happened after all." Dharc noted.
"True, but it still doesn't really feel like we can say we did a good job when we didn't even really finish it." Lyna added with a bit of a laugh.
"I guess all we can do is hope for better luck next time." Eria said, crossing her fingers.
"Yeah, let's just hurry and get home for now." Hiita complained. "I'm starting to get pretty tired."

* * *

Madoor arrived at his RV home and entered the door. "I'm back grandfather; everything okay now. Are you feeling o-" Madoor started, but he suddenly froze when he turned on the light and saw that someone he did not know was sitting beside his grandfather, who appeared to have fallen asleep. "Who the hell are you!?" He demanded immediately.
But the strange man that did not even look to be a WATER monster just held a finger to his lips in a hush motion. "Quiet down now, we don't want to disturb your poor old grandfather." The man said and chuckled.
Aqua Madoor gritted his teeth behind his mask, but the one hand the man held toward his grandfather showed him that if he tried anything, it would be the last mistake he made. "What do you want from someone like me?" He growled the question at the man.
Madoor was a poor man with nothing to steal, there should be no merit for anyone told hold him up with his grandfather as a hostage. But the strange man smiled at Madoor as he supplied the answer. "Oh, not much, I just want to ask you a few questions about your impression of those six young Charmer children."
But when the man said that, Madoor took a step back and froze. This man - whoever he was - wanted information on the Charmers. Sickeningly, Maria's words came back to his head. "Well that pride is going to come back and bite you one of these days if you keep it up!" Certainly she hadn't expected it to happen so soon, but that was certainly what this was.
Because of his pride, he refused to tell Maria about his grandfather's condition only becoming worse, and because of that, Maria was forced to use the last resort of calling in the Charmer Clan. Meaning that if Madoor had only swallowed his pride months ago, he wouldn't be in this situation with his grandfather's life at stake now.
His pride had definitely come back to bite him; and it came back with a vengeance. But if his grandfather's life was at stake, then Madoor would swallow down every last bit of resistance he had to make sure he would be safe. And so, even though he he hated it and could already hear the protests Maria would be shouting at him if she were here, Madoor didn't hesitate. "What exactly do you want to know?"

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Hippocampus
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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:49 am

Well, well. After a whole year, we get another awesome chapter in this awesome fanfic. Congrats on making 200 posts as well Wink

The "Two Months Later" thing surprised me. To have it inserted into the middle of the chapter like that is uncommon since I feel it disrupts the flow of the passage before it. Almost like you could've put the part about Avance going off to look for Noellia in a previous chapter. But that's just me.

I also found it interesting that you introduced Aqua Madoor as a secondary character. At first I thought this was gonna turn into a "character-of-the-day" story, but that last paragraph was a good way to tie everything together. And you must really like writing court scenes (Phoenix Wright influence perhaps?).

Anyway, keep up the great work!

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PostSubject: Re: Lore of the Charmers (Fanfic)   Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:31 am

Hippocampus wrote:
And you must really like writing court scenes (Phoenix Wright influence perhaps?).

Anyway, keep up the great work!
HA! The reason this chapter took so long was because of the arbitration. I had almost no clue what I was doing with that scene, I was so far out of my element!

I had to look up a bunch of information concerning the process of the Small Claims Court to help out with writing this chapter, and it still took forever to really figure out how I wanted to do it all.

The next chapter should be a lot easier though. With the introduction of the antagonist, I pretty much know what I'm doing from here on out.

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