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My mind is quickly made and without wasting another moment, the book flips left and right for a short moment before finally settling on “Enchanting Techniques: Expendable enchanting”
Taking a seat by my usual spot, I let the grimoire take me. Learning magic through books bring peace to my mind. Much better than having a mentor.
“Expanding the maximum charge potential allows the user to cast spells from bodies more often before the magic in it dies out. Such traits are particularly useful for prolonged fights, however they are inefficient in short duels against very powerful opponents…”
As each word passes my eye, my mind soon forgets about the troubling times. Eventually, I reach the end of the chapter. Ah, but reading is only the first step, practice comes next. I take a look around for something to enchant, but of course, the maids do their jobs too well and there isn’t anything lying around to try it on. I could try enchanting a book, though I doubt Patchouli will be too fond of her books being imbued with explosive magic.
No matter, I’m sure the lake has plenty of stones. I close the grimoire and head outside the library where I’m greeted by a beautiful scene of flower patches and trees. I hold just for a moment, to take in the scenery and scent of fresh air. I notice Meiling on both knees by a patch of flowers. I decide to talk to her since there’s plenty of time. Walking up to her, the girl raises and eyebrow and stands up to face be right as I’m about to greet her.
“Good afternoon.” She ends up being first.
“Afternoon, Meiling. I didn’t know you were the gardener too.”
“Not out of obligation. It’s what I love. The mistress doesn’t mind if there’s no garden, but it’ll make the mansion out of place in such a beautiful land, won’t it?”
“Yeah, I suppose. Won’t look nice with overgrown weed. It’s pretty amazing how you manage such a huge garden, and guard the gates at the same time. Just how do you do it?”
A smile forms across Meiling’s face.
“Well actually, I don’t have to be at the gate. Not physically, at least. The fairies can handle it. I only stay there during the times when I know the annoying ones will come, like Marisa.” Meiling… brags, from the way she looks. “So, with much free time, I decided that I should pretty up the garden. Of course, I asked the mistress for her permission first. After that, it took me a few years to bring the garden to how it is today. Ah… I can still remember the moment when the last patch bloomed. The day when the garden was finally complete. It’s amazing how beautiful mother nature can make things look, even if the seeds were not sown by her, yet youkai and humans alike fail to notice it. It’s really depressing.”
I swear I can almost see a tear drop forming by the edge of her eye.
“Right, so do have you got any other questions?”
“Nope. It was nice talking to you, I suppose.”
“Thanks! I’ll see you later then.”
I bid Meiling goodbye and continue on with my day. I walk out of the mansion gates and towards the lake. As I walk, I glide my fingers along the smooth, red brick walls, following the contours of the flower vine patterns. After all that I’ve been through, I begin to sense a strange feeling growing in the pit of my stomach. In the few days I’ve been here, something already feels so wrong about this place-- an air of tension surrounding the people I talk to.
I finally reach the lake. The same scenery as before greets my eyes; The crystal clear lake and mist in the distance. I set the grimoire by a tree walk on over to the shore. Water gently flows over my bare feet with each wave, sending chills down my legs. I take in the beauty of the lake. Eventually, I find the will to try out the spell.
I pick up a stone in the water and cup my hands around it, ignoring the water dripping off it. Once again, I close my eyes and-
”Focus on the fire within you.”
Like I haven’t already been doing that. I concentrate on creating a fire between my hands. As the grimoire wrote, the more magic I produce, the more charges will go into the body, and so I do just that. My body begins heating up as it absorbs the heat from my surroundings while I channel all the heat into the growing fire forming above my hands, which in turn enters the stone below it with great ferocity. It’s a beautiful chain of magic which I’m disappointed I can’t see, but knowing that I’m doing it is already satisfying enough for me.
I keep going for as long as my body can handle. Every part of my body is burning up, but I don’t want to stop, I just want to keep creating fire. I barely feel tired from all the casting, in fact I feel like I keep this up for the whole day. The flame above my hands constantly lick my face, but it doesn’t burn me, merely a tickle. I don’t want to stop creating fire.
Eventually, I begin to feel weary. My mind wanders to thoughts of lying down and sleeping. I decide it’s best to stop and open my eyes, letting the fire die down in an instant. I look at the stone; it’s glowing pure white and smoke is rising from it, but my hand doesn’t appear hurt. I wrap my fingers around it and check my body and clothes to check for signs of being burnt. Nothing. I look up and notice it’s pretty dark, but it’ll clear out. These kinds of things always happen after creating fire.
I stretch out my hand and test out the fruits of my labour. I point at the sky and let everything go. A long column of flame flies out and keeps going, not even showing signs of being depleted. Seems good enough. I keep going until it hopefully dies out, but it doesn’t. It must be a good enchantment, so I stop and keep it in my pocket for future use.
I turn back to see a dark figure standing some distance behind me.
“How did you do that?! You’ve been going on for nearly five hours! And you melted ALL the ice on the lake!”
I walk up to the figure and accidentally bump into her. Gosh this darkness is taking some time to clear up. The girl holds onto my shoulders.
“It’s Meiling. Have you got any idea what you just did?”
“Uh… Not really.”
Meiling releases me.
“Come on, let’s get inside.” The girl turns and walks off and I follow her blindly.
As we walk, my mind slowly pieces together what just happened. For a start, I’m hungry for some food. Secondly, I must have created some sort of huge fire which I am unaware of. And lastly, it’s night time, which was why I couldn’t see Meiling properly. Strange, since when did it get so dark?
We walk up to the gates and the sight before me stuns me. Along the path, lamp posts light up the sides with a soft, orange glow. The fountain’s water is glowing a bright red, yet transparent hue. The flower patches glow with radiance, standing out from the dark night. In the back, the mansion’s rooms are all lit, creating an illusion of a busy household full of activities, or perhaps it really is full of activities. The huge tower in the centre is also lit, but with large torches which have a red flame on each side. The circular face itself is lit by hidden lights, giving it a mysterious white glow.
I follow Meiling through the garden, stopping every once in a while to examine the flowers. They don’t seem to have any light source, they simply… glow. Once we reach the main doors, Meiling pushes them open and lets me in. Again, the mansion is no less grand than before; There are chandeliers now lit to brighten the room and the few darkened windows make for an inviting room to sleep in, even if this isn’t the right place to do so. Really, I wouldn’t mind.
“We’re going to have dinner, right? I’m quite famished, actually.” I ask.
“Of course, of course. The mistress saw what you did earlier today, and she wants to discuss about that to you. Ah, I wouldn’t be too worried about it, though. She’s really quite friendly and isn’t as evil as she seems. It’s just that sometimes, she gets stressed and ends up appearing much more menacing.”
Meiling leads me to the dining hall. Upon opening the door, the maid in blue takes over from there and brings me to the same seat beside Remilia.
“Good evening.” The vampire greets with a warm smile.
“Evening, Remilia.” I say, returning the smile, wondering what she’s going to do now.
“You know, you caused quite a commotion back at the lake.”
“Ah… I’ve heard. Sorry if I caused any trouble.” I apologise.
“No, it’s fine. I just want to ask, were you actually aware of what was happening?”
“My eyes were shut, and the fire didn’t feel very large. So I thought everything was going fine.”
“I understand. I just have one more question, how evil do you believe Alice is?”
 "I don't think she's evil just that she's trying to hide something. In fact, she might not even be a threat."
 "Very much. I think she's trying to harm me in some way. I try to avoid her as much as possible."
 "I don't suspect a thing at all. I have trust in her."
Just as a side note, the choices will affect how MC interacts with Alice and Remilia.