Chapter 196

Isabella watched, Concealed, as Mars Felidae and his wives debarked from the airship. It was a simple magic, Concealment. Well, simple for a Demigod that is.

All it involved was coating one’s body with soul force and wishing that no one could notice you really hard. All forms of soul magic were more intuitive than their elemental counterparts. For example, all elemental magic started off as rigidly defined spells and only after the mage had spent magnanimous amounts of time and effort understanding the Aspect the spell was based on would they be able to wield it as they wished. But in the case of soul magic, all you had to do was convey your intention to your nascent soul and it would cast the spell for you – like an ingrained instinct.

Concealed as she was, the eyes of the crew slid over her, their minds failing to register her presence even when she was right in front of their eyes. The only one able to notice her now would be another Demigod… or Mars Felidae.

A curious case, that one. A tamer that had managed to break out of the shackles of a mindscape and returned to the path of the ancient Hominum. He too was capable of soul magic – albeit much attenuated.

She shook her head as she remembered how close he had come to dying when he had scryed on her. Thankfully, she had kept her hand, only haunching her mental defences instead of lashing out in a counterattack. If he had met a more irritable Demigod like the Sunlight Soldier, only his ashes would remain… and there would be little his family would be able to do about it.

It was lucky that she was the first Demigod that he had met.

Still, contact with her soul realm had damaged him and if left unattended, the wound would eventually drive him insane. The soul was intrinsically tied to the personality and fiddling with it was like altering the very individual. This made soul magic extremely dangerous.

Isabella looked down at her palm and sighed. She was a young Demigod. In terms of experience in soul magic, she was the least qualified among the seven current generation Demigods of Regiis. Yet, to save Mars, she had to be the one healing his soul as she was the one who had injured it, leaving her mark on it.

It had been a scary experience, healing him.

The weight of responsibility one holds when they have someone’s soul at their mercy is heavy like a mountain. In comparison, death is light as a feather. You can kill someone; they will live on in the memories of their loved ones, but if you alter someone’s very soul, even that will be denied them as the new persona that emerges will substitute them in their subsequent life.

Isabella admitted that one of the reasons, apart from moral obligation, why she had told Mars about souls was that she hoped that he would decline to have her treat him. Then she would be able to shirk responsibility without burdening her conscience. Yet, to her disappointment, he had agreed to put himself in her hands.

Along with disappointment though, she had felt absolutely flattered by how much trust the boy was placing in her. So, she had done her utmost to heal him without leaving any sort of sequelae. She had succeeded.

She smiled wryly as she remembered the impression she had obtained from him as she healed him. The reason he had allowed her to heal him wasn’t because he trusted her, no, it was simply because she was the most convenient option.

If she were to put his thoughts in words, it’d be something along the lines of: ‘There’s enough on my plate already, I can’t be bothered with adding another greatly troublesome goal to my schedule.’

Well, it had been a win-win situation for them both. Mars got the knowledge of Demigod secrets from this encounter while she was able to practice her soul magic on a willing human subject.

Some Demigods were unscrupulous and practiced their magic on whoever they wished but Isabella couldn’t bring herself to follow their lead. Others practiced on death row criminals, but she found even that distasteful as the one who would emerge after the procedure wouldn’t be the criminal anymore so continuing with the death penalty would be unethical. But setting them free would also be a miscarriage of justice – and dangerous to boot as the effects of the procedure were often very difficult to clarify. They could be unleashing a lunatic into the world.

In short, finding someone to practice on was a real challenge for someone with as many hang-ups as her. Mars was her first ‘patient’. And what an experience it had been. To heal him, she’d had to contact his soul with hers directly for a short while and in that moment, his personality had been laid bare for her. What was more, some of his personality had rubbed off on her.

Meeting new people affects us… We pick up some of their idiosyncrasies and habits… their world views. Maybe they inspire us to change our entire way of living. To aspire to new ideals. To achieve greater things. When this happens, we say that that person has touched our soul.

But when soul magic became involved, this was taken to new extremes. It became possible to Impel someone to agree with your way of life, with your ideals, your goals.

In her enthusiasm to keep Mars’ soul free of taint, Isabella had accidentally let his soul leave a mark on hers. She wasn’t the same woman who had started that procedure. Now, her values were a mishmash of hers and the boy’s.

She sighed again. His most prominent trait was his devotion towards his family. Family? She didn’t even have one. She was an orphan in this life… and as for the memories of her other life that plagued her dreams… A complicated feeling rose within her. It seemed that she’d have to stop procrastinating and finally deal with them.

If nothing else, if this incident motivated her to finally resolve her issues, curing him would be worth it.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a commotion at the side of the ship. Frowning, she walked over to the railing and swept the crowd with her soul sense to get an idea of the situation. Understanding what had happened, she sighed yet again.

Idiots. They were everywhere… and they seemed to be multiplying.


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