Ceres had yet to wake although her vitals were stable. Apparently, the severing of the Geas’ connection to her mind had created some mental backlash. Not enough to harm her mindscape but enough to delay her recovery.
It had already been two days since I had regained consciousness and mother estimated that she would wake up tomorrow.
The Geas, the accursed word.
The first thing I had done after I had recovered enough to move around was gather and read as much information on it as possible. Thankfully, the army intelligence cell wasn’t short of such information and with father granting me clearance to view the files, I was soon up to date with the cruel practice.
Implanting a ticking time bomb into the heart of your own daughter to ensure that she worked to fulfil your agenda? The Duchess was totally crazy.
I was just waiting for Ceres to wake up and tell us the details of her situation before I filed a lawsuit against her. I’d like to see how her craftiness would hold up at the tribunal.
I glanced to my right. There, walking beside me in the training grounds at the outskirts of the city was my father.
Realizing my gaze, he turned to me and gave me a once over. “Just five months apart and you got yourself embroiled in such deep trouble. Getting tricked into marriage. Tsk.” He said in a teasing tone.
I don’t know why – maybe it was the teasing tone he spoke in – I couldn’t help but refute him. “It’s not like you did any better. The Duchess sneaked a spy in right under your nose.”
After the words were out of my mouth, I was mortified. I had never talked back to father. Why did I have to start now? That too with a taunt.
He was silent for a moment before sighing and looking up at the sky. “Yeah. Maybe us father and son are fools not meant to thrive in this world where mothers treat their daughters as tools for their goals. We are too soft.”
After the incident with Ceres, Phobos and Deimos had filled my parents in with the details of the situation. They knew that someone with a high rank in the clan as well as someone personally close to them was a spy, otherwise the Duchess wouldn’t know such an intimate secret like mother’s state of relations with the Egyptian Cult.
“I’m sorry.” He suddenly said, shocking me.
“For what?” I asked taken aback.
He kept his gaze on the clouds as he replied. “For raising you the way I did. It was the way my father raised me and it was the only way I knew how. Now that I think about it, I didn’t much enjoy my childhood. Why did I ever think that you would like yours?
“Maybe I’m no different than the Duchess and thought of you as a tool to help consolidate my power in the clan? Who knows? Now that I’m here, I don’t want to think about it anymore.”
He turned to me and stared me in the eye. “Maybe the loss of your mindscape is a good thing for you.”
“I read some of the verses you wrote.” Clearing his voice, he recited. “In the mountains, a cottage of stone. / A hearth, a fire, a cosy home.” He paused. “Now that you don’t have your mindscape, you can finally get the peaceful life that you wanted. It would –”
His words were cut off in his astonishment as I hugged him.
From infancy to maturity, father always kept his distance from me.
Mother loved to kiss my forehead. Deimos enjoyed hugs immensely. Phobos was always one for kisses. But father was always that cold, stern figure I was afraid to approach.
I didn’t know why I was so courageous today. Maybe he was right and the five months apart had changed me. Maybe the time apart had changed him.
He was never this loquacious before. In this hour alone, he had spoken more to me than he used to in a week. Seeing him feel guilty for raising me to be the man I was, made me spontaneously feel like hugging him.
So, I did.
Recovering from his surprise, father awkwardly patted my back and we separated.
I grinned. “I was planning to surprise all of you but seeing how wordy you’ve become due to my injury, I think that would be too cruel.”
Ignoring father’s raised eyebrow, I closed my eyes and let my senses spread out to my surroundings.
At my high degree of concentration, my thoughts grew fewer and fewer till, I reached a state that I had reached only twice before, when I had fought Phobos’ feral form and when I had fought the shadow swordsman from the Vulpine clan in the Tournament.
My mind merged with the air around me. It felt like even with my eyes closed, I could see. No, it was more than that, I could see, touch, hear and feel everything in contact with the air. The wind was my eye, my nose, my tongue, my skin.
In his notes, Father had said that it was the Oneness, one step prior to the Void.
Somehow, ever since my mindscape had shattered, my sensitivity towards external mana had shot up drastically. Specially towards the elements of wind and light and surprisingly, water.
My sensitivity towards shadow and fire mana remained at their states before my injury. I couldn’t make any sense of this development. I had too little information.
But, whatever be the cause, the most important thing was that all magic wasn’t lost to me. External casting was still within my grasp. That meant that even if I couldn’t find a way to repair my mindscape, I could still hold true to the title of a mage.
When I had set firm resolve to restore external casting to its glorious seat, I hadn’t imagined that one day, it would become my only recourse.
In my state of Oneness, I didn’t even need to trace the characters into the air with my fingers, the wind mana in the air began to condense into the sigil for ‘wind’. Another formed soon after the first and then more followed suit.
Earlier, I had trouble forming even three runes and chaining them into a spell, but now, without the fetters of my mindscape, I could easily condense seven simultaneously and I knew that it wasn’t even my limit. If I wasn’t being cautious about overstraining myself so soon after my injury, I had little doubt that I could easily handle more than ten.
The wind began to pick up speed around me, until it was a five-metre-wide vortex with my body as the eye.
I opened my eyes, lightly stretched out my finger and drew the final rune. One that spelt out ‘sharp’ in the old tongue.
Under father’s shocked gaze, the storm around me turned into countless blades of wind that laid waste to the grass around us.
When the spell ended, centred on me was a huge circular swathe of clear land with the ground beyond the attack range scarred by the impact of countless blades.
Tier 2 wind magic: Blade Edge Hurricane.
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