Chapter 3: The Sorceress Strikes Back

"If there is one thing Louise has, she has a mind of a battle genius. Honestly her schemes seem to border on madness, but it's scarily effective. Like for instance, how she handles golems. The first time I've seen her do that, Fouquet never knew what hit him. Hell, I don't what she did even after the explanation." – Kirche of the Fiery Passion

Henrietta rubbed her eyes as she put down her feathered pen. It was a long day of work as she was signing off some documents she had been working on. There seemed to be more reports coming in today. Right now she was signing off the permission to open more mines for more weaponry. This certainly looked like the nobles are finally getting off their high horses and actually protect their subjects under their land. She wondered what prompted this?

Being a princess to a kingdom isn't like what people think it is. For one, there was no shining knight that would save her from certain doom. All she really gets for being a princess is to look regal, get shoved into an arranged marriage to protect the kingdom, and get sucked into cutthroat politics. That was before mentioning the paperwork and reports she had to read every day.

The only excitement of today was some petty entertainment. Agnes had been rather irritated all day. Then the princess asked what happened. It turned out that Agnes was getting a sword built by an arms dealer that day, and, apparently, just when it was about to be finished, the shop burned down. It was rather enjoyable to watch Agnes with that permanent twitch in her eyes along with that occasional shaking of rage when Henrietta asked for more reports.

Henrietta nearly jumped out of her seat when Agnes barged into the room. It seemed she still was angry, even after that calming fetch task that the princess gave her. Really, getting more documents shouldn't have been that anti-therapeutic.

"Princess Henrietta, I have to reports you wanted." The captain handed over the papers. It was pitiful, the great captain of the Tristain musketeers reduced to what amounts as a courier. If only Agnes could get the permission to hunt down that arsonist…

The princess leafed through the papers before setting them down. She looked the captain in the eyes, "You are quite sure these are the reports from one of Lord Mott's guards that came in a couple days ago."

"Yes my princess." Agnes answered. Henrietta sighed and rubbed her temples.

"This is a serious situation. For all the threats that could happen to the kingdom, this is by far the most unexpected. It seems Lord Mott actually had a legitimate reason to ask for something. "

The princess really didn't like Lord Mott. Aside from the fact that he was a noble that followed very traditionalist views, he really had this creepy aura about him. It didn't help that he was always trying to ask for maids from the palace at every opportunity he could.

"Princess? What could be so threatening, it was only a guardsman complaining about goblins." Agnes had heard some of the rumors from the guards in the palace. There was only one guard that came in a couple days ago and he was, according to the local gossip, raving mad about goblins.

"Yes, goblins." Henrietta said with finality.

"They are just smaller brainless orcs, surely you must be joking. Lord Mott may just be incompetent at protecting his land."

"Brainless orcs, hardly. During my times in Germania, I have heard many things about goblins, mostly nonsense, but throughout everything I heard, one thing remained the same. Germania is serious about goblin threats."

"They must be exaggerating."

"Did you know Agnes? They only send elite units into the dens of goblins. The reason why they have a high commoner army is not only from the lack of nobles, but because the commoners have been dealing with relentless and ruthless goblins that periodically attack villages. I've been in Germainia long enough to see that there are areas that are in perpetual war with the vile creatures."

Henrietta remembered the times when she was visiting the Germanian Royal Family. She had passed through villages that seemed to be suffering from some goblin attacks. More often than not, she would see war scarred villagers rebuilding the ruins of their homes. After seeing the state of these small villages, she was quite glad the goblin threat was only contained in vast expanse of land that is Germania.

"Agnes, I need you to go out and investigate this. Let's hope for our sakes that Lord Mott is actually incompetent rather than that we are dealing with a full scale goblin infestation."

With a nod, Agnes left the room. Goblins? How hard could this be? Before she left though, she was going to investigate more on this blue robed arsonist. She'll be damned if that fire mage is alive after burning down her favorite store.

It was early in the morning and the Academy started off with a fresh dose of pandemonium. The classes were canceled today, not on the account of the freaky weather on the night before, but rather from the coincidental robbery. They were robbed by a famous thief, Fouquet. Strangely enough, the thief wrote in chalk rather than use the magic he obviously had. If anyone was near the headmaster's office, they would have clearly heard the heated argument.

Old Osmond resisted the urge to rub his temples as his staff kept bickering and whining. Fouquet managed to not only bypass the defenses, but also thwart the ancient magic system protecting the academy. This thief was a rather formidable foe; all he had for defending against the thief at the moment was this staff of panicking teachers.

"How could the academy get robbed like this!" yelled one of the teachers. Richards was it? Osmond couldn't tell because of the headache forming from these bickering fools.

"What about our guards?"

"Guards nothing, they're all commoners!"

"Who was the noble supposed to be on guard then?"

Now they wanted to lynch someone. Great, now he had a mob of panicking teachers instead of an organized group. Colbert better come quickly with the witnesses. Otherwise, they were going to have bigger problems than wild lynch mobs. Problems like an ancient old man going on ballistic rampage with dangerous magical fireworks. At least he had a teacher that was level headed and calm in situations of grave importance, but unfortunately he was absent. Perhaps he should have used another one of these teachers to search for witnesses.

He knew that there had to be someone that saw the attack, he felt at least one person conscious enough near the tower. He didn't know where exactly, but he felt it while he was finishing some last minute reports in the basement of the tower. Then it happened in an instant, the magic of the academy was drained and an earthquake struck. By the time he made it outside, he saw a giant gaping hole and no sign of the criminal that did it.

"Chevreuse was supposed to guard it, but she left for an emergency."

"Then why didn't anyone else fill in for her!"

Osmond gave into his urges and started to rub his temples. This headache was getting troublesome and the loud obnoxious noises of these rabid creatures in front of him weren't helping. What was keeping Colbert so long?

"If only that fat a—"

"Enough! I won't have you bad mouth your fellow teachers in front of me, and especially when she is not present to hear it." Making crude remarks about his selected staff in front of him was one thing, but making crude remarks about the female staff... Well, Mr. whatever his name was just crossed the line.

"Now everyone be silent, you're all squabbling like the students you teach. Instead of finding a scapegoat, think of a solution to our current problems. Does anyone here have any experience in using tracking magic?"

Everyone was silent. Osmond could feel another headache growing. He has all these intelligent people under his command and yet none of them had any practical experience in catching a thief. It would better if he hired more professors like Colbert, at least he could think on his feet. Speaking of which, the competent professor just walked in.

"Did I miss anything important?" Colbert asked as he walked into a room full of silent people. He could've sworn he heard some yelling as he and the students were approaching.

"No, no, you came just in time." Osmond quickly said as he eyed the three witnesses. Well, there were supposed to be four, but these teachers who called themselves nobles would've been outraged that they would need a testimony from a servant. Clearly, these teachers had not seen the work of a real servant yet.

Behind the fire mage, he could see a doll faced young girl with light blue hair. Ah, Tabitha, one of their most promising students. Next to the girl was an exotic beauty with fiery red hair. If he recalled her name correctly, that girl was Kirche Zerbst and she certainly cured any ailment he was having right now. Lastly, there was the strawberry blonde girl dressed in blue robes with her cloak draped over her back. Oh god, Osmond felt another headache forming. It was Miss Vallière, the most destructive and possibly the most talentless mage in history of the academy. That girl belonged in the Tristain Millitary Academy, where they properly tought you how to blow things up. She would be a prodigy there and- Wait, was that a broom she's holding?

"So these are the three that saw the crime?" Osmond asked as he pulled out a pipe from his desk and started to light it.

"Yes, Tabitha, Miss. Zerbst, and Miss. Vallière saw the culprit leave with the stolen item." Colbert confirmed.

Osmond motioned the three students to walk closer. "Tell me what you three saw."

After a moment of silence, Louise was the first to speak. "We were outside chatting and feeding Slyphid when the sky gotten dark. Then all of a sudden this big storm started and lightning struck all the lamps."

Osmond rose and eyebrow to that. When he checked the roof this morning, he had found a peculiar array. He could not make any sense of it, but if what the child was saying was true, then the thief must have used a weather array. There was something strange about that though.

"When the storm started getting worse, the thief broke open the tower and stole something. I think she said it was the 'staff of destruction' or something and then he rode a golem away from the academy." Louise finished explaining as she nervously gripped her broom staff.

"We would've followed the thief, but the storm prevented us from riding Slyphid." Kirche quickly added.

Tabitha nodded and simply said, "Dangerous."

The headmaster just sighed. In the end, they were no closer to finding where the thief went or what the motive behind stealing the staff was. There were other artifacts that would surely catch the eye of the thief, but why didn't he steal anything else? Only the staff was missing.

Osmond was interrupted in his thoughts as his secretary bustled in. It seemed she was a bit tired from running to the office. "Ah, Miss. Longueville, where have you been? The academy has been in an uproar since the thief broke in, and I sorely missed your services."

"About that, I found some information where the thief is located." The women took a moment to catch her breath and to compose herself before continuing. "It seems a man with a black cloak entered a house east of here, four hours on horseback."

"Interesting. Where did you get this information?" Colbert asked, looking directly at her.

"From the commoners in the area." she answered without flinching from his gaze. Her eyes betrayed nothing as to what she was thinking.

Osmond was in deep thought. In a way, this piece of information was too good to be true . It was suspicious that there happened to be someone that saw Fouquet, given the caliber of thief that he was. It smelled like a trap, but on the other hand, the thief could have exhausted a major portion of his willpower to do this heist. There was only one last thing that was bothering him.

"I've already listened to the thoughts of your co-workers, what are your thoughts Colbert?"

"I would form a party to search the last known location of the thief"

"I will only say this once. Fouquet is such a brilliant, yet dastardly foe. Not only did the thief challenge the magic of Tristrain's Academy, but to so using such powerful magic, it is no wonder why nobles have such a hard time against this thief. So I ask again, who wants to go hunt this thief down?"

Aside from Colbert and Longueville, everyone had a nervous look. The nobles had to agree, the Crumbling Dirt must have some powerful magic and a lot of talent. Enough to overwhelm any group of nobles. Osmond had to actively restrain his urge to groan, he was in a room full of cowards.

There were only a couple of people not worried about being killed by Fouquet. Louise was one of them, and actually she was more preoccupied with the fact that she could fix her mistake. Not just that, this would also give her a chance to prove to the family that she wasn't a failure. She would capture that thief no matter what it took!

"I'll go!" Louise called out as she raised her 'staff'.

"I suppose if a Vallière is going then I will go too." Kirche raised her wand up.

Wordlessly, Tabitha raised her staff up. "Worried."

"It's good to see that we have enthusiastic students. I know Tabitha is a young and bright child with the title of chevalier."

"Tabitha? Is that true?" Kirche was pretty surprised. She knew Tabitha was good at magic, but she never suspected the quiet girl had used them in service of the country.

"Then there's Miss. Zerbst who comes from a line of family of Germanian war heroes with a strong background in fire magic."

Louise was trying her best to contain her excitement. Headmaster was complimenting everyone and it was almost her turn. She wondered what the old man was going to say. Perhaps he'll say how she can conjure up all the elements or that she's a brilliant mage of the Vallière line.

"Ah… Miss Vallière comes from the Vallière Family, known for their strong combat mages and her magic is… interesting."

Louise bit her lip and restrained the urge to yell out. Her magic was interesting? That was the type of thing you would say to a noble with a bad taste in clothing. She even heard that phrase used to describe her magic by the other students. So even the old man thought her magic was a failure. Well, she would show him! She would catch that thief.

Osmond cleared his throat a bit. That was pretty hard, he almost expected the young pink haired girl to explode. "While I do approve of these three to go, I would feel more comfortable if one of the adults go as well."

The rest of the staff still looked uneasy about the suggestion, but only Longueville spoke up, "I'll go, I know exactly where that house is."

"Good, but you three student be very careful. Fouquet may be tired, but he is a powerful individual." Osmond warned.

Longueville inwardly smirked. It stroked her pride when someone as old and powerful as Osmond acknowledged her strength.

"Be careful, even though he may appear to be tired from using such powerful magic."

Powerful magic? All she used was a golem for her getaway, seriously. What was the old man saying?

"But any person with the knowledge to build such a complex and powerful weather array must be a person with great power. At the first sight of danger, you all should think of running away."

Weather array? Wait, what?

The party of four people rode out of the academy on a 'carriage'. It wasn't really qualified as a carriage; it was more like a wooden box that someone had slapped a couple of wheels on as an afterthought. Tabitha was reading a book to pass the time while Louise was watching the scenery pass by with a vacant look on her face. It seemed like she was in a deep thought about something.

Kirche on the other hand was wonder what the Zero was up to. She had been sitting there for a couple of hours with that same expression on her face. In fact, she had never seen her move an inch. The dark skinned red head moved from her spot to wave her hand in front of Louise.

"No reaction. I guess I should've expected that from the Zero. As in zero attention." Kirche offhandedly said as she moved back to her seat. Still no reaction. It was hard to believe, about a week ago the zero would be an unstable alchemist's potion, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. Nowadays, she had this vacant look to her face as she wandered around. The only time Kirche had seen the Vallière child experiencing emotions was during her spell casting.

"I heard from the staff that you three were out talking and feeding a familiar. Now that is a little hard to believe, but I don't recall a Zerbst and a Vallière be on social terms. I thought our families have a sort of blood feud? What were you two planning?"

Kirche narrowed her eyes. Longueville was certainly bright, but the red head had an excuse in case someone brought that up, but before she could say anything Louise spoke up.

"Same thing we do every night."

Kirche was confused, what did they do every night? Vallière really didn't seem like she was even paying attention to what she was saying.

"And what is that?" Longueville asked. If she can manage to coax these kids into admitting that they built the weather array, then her alter ego would have her sentence changed from kill at sight to capture at sight.

"Plan to take over the world." Louise mumbled out. It still didn't look like she was listening to what she was saying.


"Yeah, we've been playing a mock strategy game since a few nights ago. Tabitha introduced it to me and well Louise overheard. She demanded to play saying that 'Vallière shouldn't be defeated by a Zerbst.' She definitely got into the game as it encompassed the entire world." Kirche quickly said. It was time to change the subject.

"Say Miss. Longueville, why didn't you let a commoner drive that horse?"

The driver sighed as she replied, "It's quite alright, it's not like I'm a noble. Well, it looks like we're at the stop. We'll have to walk from here." She was not going to explain her life story, they were close enough to the small house anyway.

Longueville stopped the wagon and pointed at the forest. "The house should through the forest here. "

"Huh? We're here already?" Louise finally noticed that they stopped. To her, it didn't feel like a four hour ride. She was too busy looking into other magic that she could try to perform. They were all too hard right now, in fact, the only thing that she could really feasibly do was focus her magic, conjure elements of mass destruction, and magic circles. She could blanket an area with magic, but that didn't really do her any good. Conjuring elements, well she had been working on making them less destructive. Magic circles were actually surprisingly simple, it was just like following a recipe, no thinking required.

"Yes Zero, we're here. Where has your mind been?"

"I was just thinking."

"Thinking? Well it certainly looked like it, you were spacing out through my insults." Kirche said as she got out of the wagon.

Louise fumed a bit. She was getting insulted while deep in the browsing? The nerve!

"For you information, I was trying to figure out what magic to use on the thief. Perhaps if you study magic instead of your harem, you would be as adept of a mage as me."

"Then what do you call last night because that didn't seem adept." Kirche retorted quietly as she followed Tabitha into the forest. The girl was naturally quiet, she could sneak ahead, scouting the area without giving away any hint of her presence.

"I heard that, it was a fluke. A fluke!" Louise was a good mage, she would show them. She would show them all!

After a couple of minutes walking in the forest, the group found themselves in a clearing. If Louise consulted the archives, it would've given a reply back saying that this was an event flag. The only thing that was in the clearing was a suspiciously abandoned house. It was planning time, and the group of three mages and one secretary annex master criminal huddled together near a bush next to the house.

"We should go in for a closer look, I don't see any activity in the house from the windows," Kirche commented.

"Silent." The usual emotionless Tabitha answer.

"Should we just go in and ambush Fouquet?" Louise asked in a much softer voice. Fouquet might have been dangerous, but she doubted he was more lethal than her own mother.

"I think a bit more caution is in order. Fouquet is dangerous remember. I'll go in and check it out. Tabitha can follow afterwards." Kirche trusted Tabitha to cover her back. The germanian also had experience with operations like these. More times than not, goblins sprung ambushes. If Forquet was in there waiting, he would get a nasty burning surprise.

"What about me? You can't expect me to just wait here and do nothing." The pink hair girl asked. Who made Kirche boss?

"No, I need you to stay on guard here in case Fouquet is in the forest nearby." Kirche really didn't want the zero to go in with them. If anything, confined spaces with the magic of the zero equaled a burned down and exploded house with them inside.

"Then I'll scan the area for Fouquet or anything suspicious." Longueville spoke up. She needed to get away from these kids to safely execute her plan. It was the reason why she hid the staff in an obvious place in the first place. She knew these kids were responsible for that forsaken weather array, she was confident that they would figure out the staff of destruction as well. After they had done that, well, even with the staff she doubted any of them had the raw power required to destroy her golem.

"Fine, I'll guard." Louise resigned. A Vallière guarding? Well, it gave her more time to think of other magic, but still, mother would not be proud of this nor would it prove to anyone that she could in fact use magic.

With that, everyone split up. Kirche cautiously entered the house. The house or rather small cabin seemed simple. There appeared to be no traps, no thieves waiting in ambush, and no other kinds of lethal surprises either, just a bed with a few paintings on the wall and a miniature painting on a desk. She noted all the paintings looked extremely detailed to an inhuman degree, whoever lived here must have been a master painter… or stolen the paintings from one.

"There's no one in here." Kirche softly called out.

"No traps." Tabitha walked over as she examined a chest. Satisfied with the examination, she opened it up and saw tube like artifact.

"You know that's an odd looking staff if anything."

Outside, Louise was too busy checking the archives she had access to when the ground started to come to life. First a fist, then an arm, then the head of the golem rising from the ground like an undead zombie. By the time Louise snapped out of her trance to notice something, it was too late. The golem had already lifted the roof off the house.

Kirche and Tabitha looked up at the golem as it lifted the roof off. It looked like it was made of stone! Where did that thief get the stone?

"It's a trap!" Louise yelled out.

"Thanks for the warning, we never could have guessed!" Kirche replied sarcastically. The girl cast the largest fireball she could muster. Instead of doing any damage, they now had not just an angry stone golem after them, it was on fire too.

"Ehehe, oops." Kirche said as she ran for it.

Tabitha quickly responded by pointed her staff at the golem and singing a small chant. Shards of ice pelted the golem, a spell only triangle mages were capable of. It was also of no use other than putting out the flames on the golem.

"We're in over our heads, we need to run. Now!"

Tabitha nodded at the suggestion as she signaled her familiar in the sky. It was too late as the golem threw its fist forward with the intent to crush the intruders. Tabitha prepared to intercept the flying fist, better that she die here than Kirche. Suddenly, a bright yellow light intercepted the fist. As they looked at it, they realized it seemed to only encompass the house.

"Get out of there! My barrier can't repel a golem of that magnitude for much longer!" The Vallière yelled from outside.

The duo got to their senses and ran out of the house with the staff of destruction. Kirche swore afterwards that she felt the golem's fist touching her back just as they ran out of the house. Behind them, the golem seemed to frown as it's prey got away. The two paid no mind to it as they ran to a safer distance from the walking tower of stone and death. Slyphid landed nearby and as fast as they could they mounted the dragon.

"We got the staff, it's time to run! Where's Louise?" Kirche wondered then heard some explosions behind her.

The girl in question only ran back to get some distance. Louise was conjuring every element she could to stop the golem. A flaming boulder didn't work, electric beams didn't work, and she even tried freezing the damn thing. It was still advancing and she tried varying powers of her elements.

"Louise, we got the staff. We need to run!"

"Run! I won't run from this! I'll show everyone that I'm a noble! I'll show them I have the most powerful magic!"

"Damn that Vallière! This is no time for your stupid pride. We're outmatched and your 'magic' isn't doing anything." The germanian gritted out.

"Support." Tabitha said as they lifted off the ground and flew around the golem casting various spells. Still doing nothing to it, they had yet to even damage it.

As Louise was conjuring more spells to throw at it, the golem steadily advanced on her position while ignoring the two mages in the sky. Louise was getting worried; it would be only a few moments before the golem smashed her into the ground. Quickly, Louise asked one question to the archive.

*Scanning… Forty methods to stopping a golem…*

Forty? She didn't have the time to check them all. Which ones could she do in the shortest period of time?

*Narrowing search… Entry Found… Acceptable two-step process to increase time and total annihilation of golem. This will decrease MP by 90% of current value. Proceed?"

Yes, yes. If it destroyed the golem before turning her into chunky salsa, she would gladly sacrifice this… MP. As long as it didn't use willpower it was okay, right?

Instructions started to flow into the girl as she pointed her broom staff at the golem and blanketed it with her magic. The first step was to stand still and the second was to remain calm.

-Extract from the Archive on the 'False Statement' method of stopping a golem-

To the mages of this land, not very much is known how a golem works. A golem, by Halkeginian standards, is earth animated by magic. Magic put in a golem is rather strange and no one really got why a golem had the sentience to follow commands. The truth of the matter was, it doesn't have sentience, magic only grants a golem certain logic parameters to allow it to follow commands. The more magic put into a golem, the more complex instruction sets it can follow. It's like overclocking a computer, the higher the voltage one runs through the processor the more computations it can preform per timeframe.

There are several critical magical subsystems of a golem. Usually the creator doesn't have to worry about these since magic itself creates these systems. These subsystems are a necessity for any golem and they are comprised of regeneration, command logics, and stabilization kinematics. Regeneration is responsible for how the golem is formed and its auto repair and maintenance. The command logics govern the ability to follow the user's commands from magic. The most important part of a bipedal golem is the stabilization kinematics, its ability to move and stay standing under rapidly changing conditions.

The last step one needs to perform using this method utilizes both these ideas and the concept of the spell 'intercept'. Instead of the regular spell 'intercept', allowing one to take control of an opposing golem for a few seconds, this spell is a variation of it. The mage in question only needs to focus on blanketing her magic on the golem and think of it's movement. Her intent should be to insert one command into the kinematics subsystems of the golem. If the opposing mage doesn't know what command was inserted, then the opponent won't be able to override it. Once enough magic is available to break into the subsystem, a mage needs to chant only one phrase.

"This statement is false!"

In an instant, everything went silent and the golem stopped in place. For a few moments, no spells were thrown and the golem halted its progress in an asymptotically stable position. Kirche scratched her head, "What did the zero do? And how does a golem stop from what she yelled out?"

Fouquet, who was controlling the golem from a range, cursed as she tried to command the golem to move. It's like it was stuck deciding something and not responding to any movement commands. If the things didn't start working again soon, she would have to remake the golem and she didn't have the willpower for that. That golem took a quite a bit of magic to transmute the earth into stone and fashion it into a golem.

The first part of the plan executed, the next part of the plan was to concentrate her magic and think of her most hated thing in the world. It wasn't enough to lock the golem in place, she needed to destroy it. For a full minute, Louise concentrated then in a moment she push her staff forward and yelled, "Arcane BEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAM!"

She once read that the power of a beam attack is exponentially increased with the amount of letters between the first letter and last letter of the acoustic component. Therefor it was no surprise to her when a red beam erupted from her wand with a diameter of three feet. It shot out over the golem, splitting it in half when she arced the beam downward. After a dramatic moment of silence, the two halves felt apart and violently exploded as if they were made of high explosive instead of hardened granite.

Slyphid landed as Kirche and Tabitha dismounted. They had been flying above the golem when the beam almost hit them. After the attack ended, they could see a gaping chasm marking the path of the beam, extending about between four to five times the height of the golem. Kirche knew Louise had destructive results when her spells failed, but when she actually tried to destroy something the results were beyond anything germanian had ever seen. Fire doesn't pull off this much carnage.

"Louise what the hell was that!"

"It was a beam attack… I was going for more beams." Louise exhaustedly said. One beam was good, but she was going for that beam spam attack. She must've forgot the 's' at the end of beam. The spell she used was a full arcane spell amplified by spending a large amount of MP. In the course of that attack she had found out that MP was, in fact, willpower.

"If you don't mind, let's find Longueville. I need to take a break, that took a lot out of me." she said panting.

"I'm right here, I was hiding until the golem left." Longueville popped out from the bushes behind them. It was one thing to have her golem destroyed by the staff of destruction, it was another to see it utterly obliterated by a student. That was when she called it quits on the job. With magic powerful enough to not just stop her most powerful golem but to carve it completely in half, there was no way she was going to risk her life against that. It would've been easier if the client just needed the staff, but whoever it was wanted to know how it worked.

"Then let's head back, hopefully Fouquet won't send more of those golems."

Yeah, no more golems. It wouldn't do her much good anyway; any golem she made would be from weak earth. Between two relatively fresh mages, one being close to a triangle wind mage and somewhere around a line fire mage, they would have enough firepower to take down a dirt golem. Not to mention the pink haired devil might have enough magic to stop any golem. How she'd stopped her first one, Longueville didn't know. All she knew was that a paradoxical statement would stop it.

"So Fouquet wasn't found anywhere after you retrieved the staff?" Osmond asked as he eyed the staff on his desk. Then looked at the four individuals that went on the hunt, they don't look too worn by it, but if what they said was true, the Vallière used powerful destructive magic to dispatch a stone golem. He should've figured, that Vallière child had explosive results when she was trying her normal magic, it would make some sense if her intentionally destructive magic was on a scale not heard of since Heavy Wind. Probably ran in the family.

"No sir, Fouquet was not around." Longueville replied as she was the one that scanned the area.

Osmond felt a twitch in his magical senses. Odd. In that moment, Colbert entered into the room. "Well, you three seem tired from the journey. I'll see to it that you are rewarded for your efforts in retrieving the staff." As the three left, Osmond signaled Colbert to close and lock the door.

"What about me?" The green haired women asked as she eyed the professor that finished locking the door.

"Ah yes, well I had Colbert do some research on the information that you had. You see, Colbert summoned a fire dragon as his familiar and so he had the ability to either warn the palace of the thief or to search the nearby area around that house for information that you retrieved."

"And what has he found?" The women did not like where this was going. She was eyeing possible ways of escaping now.

"Nothing. You see there was a problem with the information that you supplied. In particular, how did you get the information when servants that I questioned told me no one had used any horses this morning? So my question is, Miss. Longueville, do you know how to use magic?"

"I…." In a swift motion, Longueville pulled out her wand and pointed it at the headmaster. "I want out of here, NOW!"

One thing that Longueville shouldn't have assumed was that Colbert was a defenseless, coward like the other teachers. It was too bad she never knew that Colbert was once known as the Fire Snake, the man that defeated whole battle groups with a wand, blade, and a powerful fire dragon. So it was no surprise when the instant that the now known thief threatened the headmaster, he reacted as quickly as possible and pointed his staff at the thief. "Put the wand down now!"

"Call off your lackey, old man. I swear, I'll blow your head off!"

The only reply that the lady got was Osmond cocking an eyebrow up and saying, "My word, is that how a young lady should act?"

Fouquet was in a pickle now. She really wasn't going to blow the old man's head off, even if he was a rabid pervert. The professor behind her wasn't a sniveling coward, and that impressed her as well as annoyed her. Well, she'll just transmute the floor and drop down with an invisibility spell. Quickly she pointed at the floor and chanted the spell for transmutation. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Colbert moving to stop her. It was too late, the spell activated.

She was fully expecting the spell to disintegrate the floor, but that didn't happen. A circle appeared around her to mark that she was using transmutation, but nothing happened. Then the professor reached her, first knocking her to the ground with a quick swing with the staff and a small fire spell to instantly destroy her wand. Out of options, she knew that she was done for. They were going to turn her in to the palace.

"So you do know magic. Well, did Fouquet hire you?"

So she still had a chance, no instant death for her, just incarceration. "Yes."

"Interesting. Do you know Fouquet?"

"No." If she kept answering questions, she might get a lighter punishment from the old man. "Can I get up? This floor is cold and dirty."

With a nod, he signaled the fire teacher to let her up. "Is he nearby?"

"No." Why would he ask that question, it seemed pointless to her.

"Hmm, that's unfortunate. I do wonder though. Were you the one to steal the staff?"

"No." Only her iron self control prevented her from experiencing cold sweat. The slightest slip up now and the game was up.


It started to look like she would be arrested, not executed. He had no proof that she was Fouquet, just that she was working under Fouquet.

"I guess, only one more question remains. Are you Fouquet?"

What? What kind of question was that? Something strange was going on. Something to do with the questions asked. "No, I'm just his messenger and informant."

"Very interesting, you see Longueville, if that's your name, I've built the defenses to this room in specific in the time you were gone. One of things you've no doubt seen, anti-transmutation magic. I have to say, that is powerful transmutation given by the light emitted from it. Like something only a triangle mage or above can do."

Uh oh, that did not bode well. Osmond might be onto her, but maybe she could still get out of the mess she was in.

"One of the other protections I put in here was something new. I put in an empathetic detector for this room alone. It allows me to question anyone and know if they are lying. Of course, something like this will only last a week until renewal, but it served its purpose. I just regret not giving you the formal interview." With that Osmond nodded to Colbert.

Detect if she was lying? Shit. That means he know that's she's Fouquet. Giving that they still blame her for the weather array that she had no part of that gives grounds for instant execution. The question is they going to kill her or just turn her in for public execution. Colbert quickly took something out of his robe and grabbed her right arm. She felt something metallic clamp tightly on to her right wrist.

"What is this? While I appreciate you giving me jewelry, this hardly seems the appropriate time."

"No, just insurance. I wouldn't tamper with that, you might find the results undesirable, nor should to try to leave the academy."

"So now what, you're going to wait for the palace to come pick me up?"

"No, I have something better in mind. No one needs to know that you are Fouquet. This academy will be your prison."

They were not going to kill her. She would be praising the founder, were it not for one detail that bothered her.

"Why? You have nothing to gain from this."

"On the contrary, I'll be out one secretary. Well, I'll still be out one secretary if you agree to the terms."


"You see, I know brilliant magical talent when I see it, one that can be of great use to the academic world. That transmutation requires a lot of knowledge and experience; it'd be a waste to see that rot away in prison."

So the old man wanted her as a teacher? Well, there was not much she could do now, it was either death or forever teaching brats to use earth magic. Good thing she had experience with brats.

"Besides, that weather array is one of the most complicated arrays I had ever seen. I couldn't even decipher it. The most impressive part of the array that you built was that it had no visible negative impact to the environment. It never became unstable, only when too much magic was fed through. Then again it was your intent to use it in a magically rich environment to pull the magic from. "

Wait, wait, he wants to know how that damn thing worked?

"I don't know anything about that array." she protested.

"Remember, I can feel if you're lying. You do know something about the array, but no matter. You can keep the secret to yourself for now. No doubt you'll be working on it later if you accept the proposal to be an earth mage instructor."

Yeah, she only knows that one of those kids made it, but Fouquet's life is riding on the fact that she's a powerful mage. Better not say anything for now. "I accept."

"Good, you're now the primary earth mage for transmutation. I have a couple of things I need you to work on as far as repairs are concerned since our current earth mages are out."

Great, fixing walls that she broke.

"Then there's the Vestri Court…"

Oh joy, fixing stuff that pink haired devil blew up.

"An lastly you can continue your work on that weather array…"

Wonderful, trying to figure out what that blasted array does besides breaking the academy magic.

End Chapter 3

AN: Following closely to the original story. Not likely, some things out of order, something things that might be cut out entirely, and I'm planning on the next chapter to be labeled Tarbes RPG. Again, I thank Madork for beta-ing this.