Disclaimer: Negima and all its characters aren't mine. I'm just playing with them.

Continuity note: When I wrote this story, I'd read up to where Asuna's importance to the Mundus Magicus is revealed, she is kidnapped, and Ala Alba is getting ready to mount a rescue, but I hadn't yet reached any more confrontations with Fate and Cosmo Entelechia. Consider this story AU from that point forward.


by Netherwood

Evangeline McDowell was a master of chess.

She picked up the game centuries ago in her darkest years, when she led armies, razed nations, and terrified the highest king and lowliest peasant in her relentless hunt for blood and vengeance against two worlds that hated her for a blood-curse she had not wanted. Back then, it seemed appropriate for such a monster as herself to sit over a chess board while she considered the fate of armies and nations as though they were pieces in a game meant only to amuse her.

Though she could still likely outplay any opponent, she put away her collection of chess sets about the same time the rage in her heart died and she slipped into shadows to calmly scoff as the world spun along. Nowadays, if she was going to go play a game, it was more likely to be on electronic console. But, occasionally, she still caught herself thinking in terms of chess.

This, for example, was a stalemate.

Negi was still stretched out on her couch, and she still watched him from over the rails of the second-floor landing. He had recently retreated from the roof, as it was almost time for Ala Alba's daily assault on the cabin to try to drag him out, "for his own good" as several of the brainless girls put it. This had been going on for three days.

On the first day after Evangeline dragged him to her cabin, he refused to stop moping in his room, though he ate when Chachamaru brought him rice, vegetables, and fish, and promised to forcefeed him if necessary.

On the second day, he ventured out to lie on the roof, saying nothing and returning indoors when he heard the approach of any of his girls trying to abduct him. Evangeline gleefully took the duty of standing at the window and shouting down to Asuna that Negi was indisposed and not accepting visitors as the brat tried to bash her door in. Any other door would have disintegrated to matchsticks under the force of her attack, but this was Evangeline's door.

On the third day, Negi decided to grace the house with his society and, not meeting anyone's eyes, quietly asked Chachamaru if there were any chores he could do to help. She assigned him to chop wood for the fireplace. They never really used it except in the deep of winter or whenever Evangeline was feeling nostalgic for the merry flames of burning cities, but Negi needed something to do. He took an axe and reduced a few trees to manageable size. After, he spent the rest of the morning doing tai chi before seeking refuge on the roof for the entire afternoon.

Evangeline understood it. This really wasn't all that unusual for a warrior who had just been through a long trial and no longer had a battle; wait, reflect, and exercise. His face, though, made it excruciating. His earnest fire was doused, and the drooping expression he sported even while chopping wood reminded Evangeline of nothing so much as a dead fish still twitching reflexively in air. It was boring, it was pathetic, it was revolting, and it was a waste of tantalizing potential.

Evangeline watched; Negi, on the couch, clutched a pillow to his chest and just… stared.


Three days ago, an explosion of magic rocked Mahora Academy.

The faculty, tracking the source, rushed to the World Tree. When they found Ala Alba in its shadows, unexpectedly returned from the Mundus Magicus, Evangeline's first thought was, "The king returns, and his army still stands."

They weren't in the best shape, though. Everyone was haggard, and a few had raw, badly-tended injuries, but everyone still stood in tight formation, ready to defend. The only one she paid attention to, though, was their king. His brown overcoat was all but shredded and he leaned on his staff as though it were the only thing keeping him upright, but the look in his eyes smoldered with the promise of pain. It was a look that said someone had done something very wrong, and they were going to deeply pay for it. This was not Negi the teacher, or her toy Boya; this was the Master Magister Negi Springfield, vengeful and monstrous.

He had clearly been checked—but the game was far from mate.

Evangeline barely stopped herself from visibly running her tongue over her fangs, lest she startle her prey. She liked that look on Negi, and she liked the excitement it promised. It suited him.

Negi tried babbling out whatever news he had to the Headmaster, but the old geezer waved it off and insisted that Negi and his students get some medical attention before all else. A team of medical mages came and, in the loud voices and slight panic common to any minor emergency, began bustling Ala Alba away. Every one of the returning heroes, even veterans like Mana and Kaede who ought to be more independent, looked to Negi for his nod before they budged an inch.

Negi stood in the center of the dissolving comitatus, staring at the World Tree and clenching his teeth as the wind raised the tattered remnants of his coat into the air. Evangeline did not bother lifting a hand as the school mages helped the exhausted students walk to shelter; details were unimportant at the moment, and everyone but Boya was currently a detail. As the last of Ala Alba disappeared, she found herself crossing the courtyard to stand before him.

She put her hands on her hips as she unabashedly looked him up and down like a side of meat. He muttered, "Hello, Master." A token. He swayed on his feet, and dark rings under his eyes said it had been a long time since he'd gotten any sort of rest.

Pathetic and wretched. "Don't just stand there, Boya," she told him. "Let your sub-bosses explain to the geezer whatever needs explaining. You're coming with me." He didn't protest as she led him from the World Tree, away from the main campus, and to her cabin in the woods. His eyes were distant, his mind clearly occupied, and his body meekly compliant as he shuffled after her. He had completely lost the anger, the quiet vigor from earlier, and Evangeline found herself… disappointed.

She wanted to take him somewhere and wring out whatever juice was left. Maybe the story of what happened on Mundus Magicus was good. Perhaps she was looking forward to the inevitable chaos when someone realized she had spirited Negi away. Or, if he was finally ready for the last vestiges of his control to crumble so he could go out on a blood hunt, Evangeline wanted to watch.

Regardless of exactly why, she knew he was coming with her.


And three days was quite enough of that shit. Negi wasn't breaking ranks, so it was time for the queen to force her way into the back row and flush out the king.

She swept down the staircase to Boya's ceiling-watching couch, wishing he would at least have the decency to go mope in her resort. The staircases there were long enough for the sweeping to be properly dramatic; trying to look imperious in this creaky old wooden hut was impossible.

"Boya," she snapped. "Attend your master." She barreled on as soon as Negi, startled, forced himself to sway upright. "I'm bored, and you've been awful company. You're joining me for dinner tonight in the resort. Meet me on the highest balcony. One of Chachamaru's sisters will make sure you don't get lost, so don't even think of dawdling."

He took a moment to collect his bearings. "Um, of course, if that's what you want, Master."

She turned and swept off to dress for the evening. "Damn straight," she said over her shoulder. Spineless. His meek, yielding manner pissed her off more than usual—though, of course, she'd break him into pieces if he actually refused her command.


He arrived first. She had chosen a slinky black dress that had less fabric than some swimming suits; he had somehow found a suit in his size. Chachamaru helped, probably. As she approached, she stopped to admire the view. Negi, the dashing ruin, leaned against the railing of the balcony, watching the sunset. From the perfect orange glow, the gentle breeze playing against his hair, and the scent of the ocean, no one would have guessed that it was all fake, a mere illusion designed to create a pocket dimension for Evangeline to escape to when she wanted to shut out the rest of the idiotic universe.

Only, that whole privacy thing hadn't quite worked out for Evangeline and her household. First came Negi, painfully polite and sickeningly sweet and sliding his way into her life. His entire gaggle of mostly empty-headed girls naturally barged in right after him and turned the resort into their own private little clubhouse.

But… when they finally picked up and went to the Mundus Magicus, the resort had seemed deserted without the constant study parties, training brawls, and general giggling. Evangeline was the Dark Evangel, the Gospel of Darkness, the Mistress of Shadows, the Puppet Master, the Slayer of the Light, and a hundred more titles lost to time, and she ended up making room for a gaggle of mindless teenage girls for no better reason than they were Negi's.

When had Boya become part of her household?

When had she decided she would take him in if he was lost and needed to rebalance? Because, being honest with herself, that was exactly what happened three days ago.

Thoughts for another time.

"Boya! Drop the dull face and join me."

He didn't jump or flinch, even though he hadn't looked her way and Evangeline's approach had been habitually silent. He just turned, murmured, "Of course, master," and joined her at the gold-trimmed table for two in the center of the balcony.

Several of the robot servants, Chachamaru's sisters, rolled up a serving table and began setting out the dishes. At Evangeline's orders for the evening, every dish was well-prepared meat: chicken, salmon, hawk, lamb, and lobster. To drink, the servants presented Negi with a red wine from a vintage older than he was; for Evangeline and her unique taste, a deep crimson 'special blend'. In the center of the table, where both diners could easily reach it, the servants prepared a chess set.

Evangeline grinned to herself as Negi's eyes caught on the antique game board while he took servings of chicken and lamb. This was a favorite from her collection; she had acquired it in the late 1700s in Germany. She had stopped playing chess and terrifying nations by then, but she saw it while slinking through a city on her way to obscurity and had to have it. The board was heavy marble nearly two inches tall. The pieces of hand-polished black ebony and white onyx were carved to resemble real human soldiers in minute detail. The knight's stamping horses, the bishop's hands raised in blessing, the pawns each setting their spears for a charge; exquisite detail, except for the perfectly smooth and featureless faces. She could feel Negi's curiosity at this strange centerpiece.

"Now, Boya," Evangeline said, breaking the silence. "Whatever you did in the Mundus Magicus, you look like someone went and burned your village down. Again. But I'm not in the mood to listen to you whine, so while we eat, I'm going to ask a few questions about what happened. I talked to Chachamaru a bit, but I want it from you too. After that, you're going to shut up, and I'm going to talk. Got it?" Negi nodded.

"First, from what I heard you babbling to the Headmaster, it sounded like you caught up with this Fate Avernicus kid that's been giving you trouble. Right?"

Negi bobbed his head in agreement while working on the chicken. "Right, Master. We caught up with him, and…" Negi frowned, and looked down. "He's dead. Cosmo Entelechia is finished."

"With such passion you speak." Evangeline rolled her eyes. Was this Negi's first kill, then? Yes, unless he had to put someone down earlier in the Mundus Magicus and she hadn't heard yet. Negi looked dazed just thinking about it. Perhaps it was still sinking in. Evangeline felt a pang of jealousy that Negi could believe his first kill had been just. It must soften the pain. She relentlessly quashed that feeling. Her past was long set in stone, and there was no point trying to take back the moves. "And what about this great power of creation and destruction I heard you were looking for, this Key of the Mundus Magicus?"

"We… found it. But, Fate…. I'm still not quite sure what he did before we beat him, but the power is… missing. He somehow tried to seize it while we were using it, but he lost control, and now it's gone." To himself, almost so quietly that Evangeline didn't catch it, Negi added, "Asuna is safe, but the power is gone."

"Well, no loss, then. You got the job done, and trust me, when you figure out where to look, you can get primal powers of the universe for a dime a dozen." Evangeline grinned, and took a sip of her wine. It wasn't over, of course, however she teased Boya. He wouldn't be moping in a cabin in the woods if it was over.

"The Mundus Magicus is fading," Negi said quietly. "The magic is weakening, Master. Sooner or later, their whole world will crumble."

"And you're going to take that on your own shoulders? Let the future worry about itself." That wasn't exactly what Evangeline really thought, but she just wanted Negi's reaction.

He fiddled with his wine glass and frowned, apparently not quite ready to bite at her yet. "Even if it isn't my problem, I want to do something about it. Even if I can't do anything about it now…" He trailed off, and took a stiff drink. "But that's not the problem, Master. Right before the final fight, Fate tried to convince everyone that what he was doing was right. We had the Key and he couldn't beat us, so he did the last thing he could. He tried to turn everyone against Ala Alba. Everyone, Master. The whole magical world was watching our battle, and he proved to everyone that their world was fading. The whole Mundus Magicus knows their world is dying now."

The pieces lined up in her mind, the board showed her the next moves. "Let me guess," she said, cutting Negi off. "The Northern and Southern continents are usually on edge with each other at best. That idiot Kurt Godell, panicking, openly declared his intent to grab as many humans as possible from the North and retreat to Earth, and damn everyone else. The magical beings of the Southern continent, scared and desperate because they think their world is about to vanish, snap back at him and want to claim a slice of Earth for their own, it having the advantage of not disappearing under their feet. Only, you can't dump an entire planet of refugees on Earth and keep magic a secret, so Godell is willing to throw secrecy out the window, and the magical beings… well, they'll burn their way past anyone who tries to hold them out. But the teleportation network between Earth and Mundus Magicus is still down, so right now the two continents are having a race to get them up and running again. As for yourself, I don't know what sort of small, jury-rigged magic you scraped together to teleport Ala Alba back home, but you were obviously running from trouble."

"A hunter squad from the Southern government," Negi answered, dazed. "Um, I think they're angry at me for losing the Key…."

"And I'm sure you could obliterate any pack of goons they send, if you wanted to." Evangeline grinned wickedly. "With everyone as scared as they are…. Tell me, Boya. How do you think Earth would react to a fleet of magical warships suddenly appearing in orbit?"

Negi slumped forward and hid his face behind his hands. "It wasn't supposed to happen like this," he said with more emotion than Evangeline had heard out of him in three days. He sounded ready to break. But, Evangeline suspected that right now, Negi would just go to pieces instead of going on a rampage, and that was no fun. "I was just looking for my father. That's all I went to Mundus Magicus for. I wasn't looking for a war, or Fate, or any of this! I can't leave it, but I didn't want it."

Evangeline smacked her hand on the table hard; Negi jumped. "Disciple! I didn't give you permission to whine, so shut it. Now, from where I'm sitting you have two choices. Well, three, but if you choose 'sit here and cry like a little boy,' I'll break a leg off this table and shove it through your stomach myself for dishonoring me, your divine master."

Evangeline raised a finger. "First! You can try to build a way back to the Mundus Magicus and see whether there's any remnant of that grand power you misplaced and use it to reinforce the magical world for another however many centuries it'll last. If you can pull that off, the magical beings will keep blustering for awhile until they figure out their lousy planet isn't going to self-destruct under their feet, and sure, their descendants will be stuck with happy doomsday later, but for now, who cares?

"The problem, of course, is how the hell do you get back to the Mundus Magicus? The gates were originally built with cooperation and contact from both sides over a few generations. Magical tech has come a long way since then, and the Mundus Magicus can eventually brute force a gate quicker than that, but this tiny magic colony on Earth can't, which means they'll still get here first anyway. And if you do manage to get to Mundus Magicus, how do you know there's any of the power of the Key left? How much damage could a magical warship fleet do to Earth while you're off searching for the Holy Grail, hmm? Maybe you'll never find it, and while you and your girls are off looking, the world will burn to the ground. Would you like that, Boya?"

"Of course not!"

"Hmm, I didn't think so. That brings us to the second option." Evangeline sat back, took a long sip of her crimson wine, and raised two fingers. "Forget about the Key. Forget about the power. Forget about questing and hunting. When the warships arrive to take Earth, be ready, and rip them to pieces. They're bringing a war? Give them a war." Evangeline chuckled as Negi blanched, and then she drove in the knife. "You father took that route, you know. When war broke out, he took to the battlefield. He and Ala Rubra wiped the face of the planet with their enemies."

"But he didn't take that path for the entire war," Negi objected. "He found the ones responsible for the war in the first place, Cosmo Entelechia, and he stopped them! That's why he's known as the Thousand Master, a hero to both the northern and southern continents. He stopped their war and saved everyone."

"He didn't save Cosmo Entelechia or the dozens of thousands of ignorant soldiers he personally slaughtered," Evangeline countered. And he forgot to come back to save me, she mentally added. Bastard. "Besides, who's really responsible for this war? Who's pushing for it? The Society of Chancellors cowers in the shadows, so if there's open warfare and secrets revealed, the idiots have already lost control of whatever boneheaded schemes they're playing with. Fate's the one who dropped the Key, wasn't he? Except, he's dead, and the rest of Cosmo Entelechia is broken. I'm sure you remember that part. Beating his rotting corpse up again won't do any good. Maybe we could argue it's your fault, but…. No."

Evangeline leaned forward and grinned grimly. "This isn't some video game where you can stomp the end boss and everything's fine. This is the entire magical world, human and magical being alike, ready to tear themselves apart and descend on us next. Say you find every chancellor and every leader who got tangled up in this on both continents and wrung their necks until their heads pop off—and it would be neck wringing, because very few of them would last three seconds against you. Would everyone say, 'Oh, maybe war doesn't sound like a nice way to spend our afternoon after all' and go back to their quiet lives? No! Their world's still dying, and they're still panicked and scared. Say you quietly went before the entire planet, somehow got the various groups to forget they were trying to kill you when you left, and convinced them to reveal themselves to Earth and beg asylum. Can you guarantee the various bastards and governments of Earth will happily take them in? How many of them would you have to slaughter? You want to kill the bad guys so you can be the good, shining hero who saves the innocent?" She laughed, light-hearted and cruel. "Fine. Go ahead and commit genocide, Boya, because that's what it'll take. I'll even help if you ask nicely."

"But I wouldn't have to go that far, Master!" Negi made it sound like an assertion, but his eyes begged her. "The people of the Mundus Magicus may be scared and confused, but they aren't evil. They can't really want a war that much. I'm sure if I could find enough people with influence in the continents and get them to sit down together, we could figure out another way. I honestly haven't the faintest idea what, but I'm sure there's some way."

"Just like you talked with Chao Lingshen and Fate Avernicus," Evangeline said. "For such a powerful warrior, you're absolutely dense about your own methods." Evangeline gestured at the table they sat at. "Boya, look around you."

Negi blinked, confused by the sudden change in direction, but looked. "Okay, Master, I'm looking. What should I see?"

Evangeline selected a mouthful of the hawk and took her time eating it. "Right now, Boya, you sit at a sumptuous meal, which you haven't touched in almost five minutes. Eat something, Boya. Try the salmon. There, that's better. Now, point is, for us to enjoy this meal, a few things had to die. A chicken, two lobsters, a hawk, a lamb, and a salmon, to say nothing of who was inconvenienced to get the special ingredient in my drink. Even if we decide to go vegetarian, we still have to kill some sort of plant to live. That's the nature of life, Negi Springfield. If you want to live, you have to take it from someone else.

"Sure, these were just beasts. Lower life forms, but that's just some arrogant little hierarchy we made up to explain why our life is so precious and their death is so necessary. Well, do you know what happens when humans band together in groups? Do you know what happens when it's not one human pillaging the natural world, but Ala Rubra or Ala Alba against Cosmo Entelechia, Northern continent against Southern continent, Earth against Mundus Magicus?"

She waited for Negi to oblige her by shaking his head, asking her to go on. "No, I don't."

Evangeline reached both hands out and placed them at the edges of the chess board before her. "Then we have chess, Boya.

"The more people you have working together, the greater their needs. More land, more resources, ideologies to protect, populations to control. Sooner or later, it always turns into chess, one group lining up against another. Individuals become pawns to be sacrificed to the greater good of the group. Powerful warriors and politicians and scholars become knights, rooks, and bishops, ready to do their holy duty to the group. And you… people like you become kings whose banner can rally entire worlds.

"You said the people of the magical world don't want war. Well, guess what. They probably don't. Very few people are actually crazy enough to want that. But they want resources, they want safety, they want to push back anyone who threatens them, and sooner or later, war is the only way to get what they need." Evangeline frowned. "Over, and over, and over. I've seen this a hundred times over in my centuries. Trust me, Boya. No one ever learns."

"Always? Does it always happen, Master? Isn't there some other way?" He wasn't even bothering to hide it now—he was openly begging her.

"Sometimes it can be put off for a while," she said softly, watching him with a tiny pang of pity—nations could burn and she would laugh, but take one really good-hearted boy begging to not go down the path of darkness…. Tch. She was getting soft. "But, I think, no such luck here. You're on the cusp of interesting times, whether you like it or not.

"The thing about chess, though, is that you get to choose to play black or white, dark or light." She pointed to Negi's side of the board, where the onyx white army stood ready. "People who like to talk about living in the light, people who draw strength from their passion, their hope, their charitable dreams—people like your father—if they stopped to think for half an instant that all those warm, fluffy, feelings inevitably cut down someone else's passion, hope, and dreams… well, that would be a bit of a moodkiller for them. People like that can only survive because they never stop to think that they aren't nearly as pure and good as they think they are."

Negi stared at the white pieces, but didn't say anything. He had flinched when she named his father part of the ignorant light pieces.

Evangeline leaned forward, her grin turning hungry. "You, though—you certainly feel charitably towards the magical races, and it doesn't seem to be giving you much strength. It just makes you hesitate and doubt yourself. You hope you can save everyone, but you know you can't. And passion? Right now, yours is dead. All that hope and light just reminds you that the world will never measure up to your dreams. People will die, and because you hope otherwise, you're in agony. Why? Because you didn't walk your father's path. You chose mine."

She snapped her fingers, and one of the servants brought forward another set of chess pieces, slightly newer but still antiques and just as detailed. They were made from deep red rosewood with angry streaks of black. The servant used them to replace Negi's white onyx pieces, and the two dining warriors watched each other as the field slowly changed from black and white to black and red, dark facing against dark.

"Much better, don't you think? Now, I don't give any praise lightly, so realize it's well earned when I tell you I'm impressed you threw this Ala Alba thing of yours together so fast. None of your girls could put a scratch on me, of course, but you people are still decent at what you do."

"Th… thank you, Master," Negi managed from automatic politeness. "You're very kind."

"Feh. These pieces don't have faces, so let's give them some. You, of course, are the king of your little army." Evangeline reached across the board to caress the red king, then let her hand glide over the other pieces. "Hmm… Most of your girls would have to count as pawns, of course. Who would get the ranked pieces? Chachamaru could be a rook. She mentioned that Pactio of hers, and an orbital death ray is about as much like a rook's long, straight attack as you can get. Kaede is one of your better fighters. She can be a knight to match the way ninja like her always attack from the side. Setsuna can be the other knight, because, well, who else in your party is so bone-headedly devoted to match the knight's loyalty? Seriously, does her mistress even realize how lucky she is to have Setsuna around?" Evangeline picked up the knight that was Setsuna and studied it, then looked to Negi. As he listened to Evangeline praise his students, the way Negi had taught, protected, and fought for his them across two worlds shined through in his smile.

Evangeline closed her fist around the knight that was Setsuna and squeezed. The fine, delicate horse and rider broke apart under her grip. She pressed harder and felt the thing go to splinters. She opened her hand, and the pieces clattered onto the marble board.

Negi's smile vanished in shock. "M…Master?"

Evangeline made her voice casual, disinterested. "Let's say Setsuna put that mulish devotion to good use, got too eager, and went down early in the fight. Konoka, of course, wouldn't last much longer, since they would be in the thick together looking for the tragic end of stupid, star-crossed lovers. She would be a bishop, of course, all the pure mages are best as bishops." Crunch. Evangeline was careful to sprinkle the bishop's splinters together with the knight.

"And the other bishop… hmm, that girl Nodoka, I think. Her mind-reading is rather terrifying, by the way, but I think it suits the scholarly image of the bishop well." Crunch. "With the size of the schoolgirl crush she's failing to hide, she'll fight near you, so…." Evangeline sprinkled the splinters over the red king. "And your queen? Well, it's not like the redhead will let anyone else get close enough to you to take that place, so the queen naturally has to be Asuna…"

Negi's hand grabbed Evangeline's wrist, stopping her as she took the red queen. "Master," he begged, "Why are you doing this?"

"Hmph." Evangeline set the red queen back in its proper square, tugged her wrist free from Negi, and leaned back in her chair with legs crossed.

"Your father was lucky, Boya. He had a war designed and run by wicked men. He punished the guilty, and then the killing just dried up and went away like the misunderstanding it was. You, though, you get a war of desperation. You get a tide of frightened refugees willing to do anything to escape the calamity behind them. If everything goes wrong in just the right way, you'll get a war of genocide, the ultimate 'us versus them'. If you want to protect as many of your precious people as you can, the only way is to draw a line and kill anything that crosses it.

"So what will you do, Boya? Warm, fluffy hope and charity won't do you any good, but despair and fear may serve you. Despair of ever getting the bright, happy dream you want, and get yourself dark and dirty now instead. Fear for the lives of your people, because every minute you hold back could kill them—not just abstract innocent humans or magical beings somewhere out there in the world, but your friends from Wales, your students and fellow teachers here in Mahora, especially your little troop in Ala Alba. What will you do about it when war finally hits earth? Will you wait and equivocate and wish the world could be somehow different while the fighting rages on?" Evangeline leaned forward again, snatched up the red king, and slammed it into the center of the board. "Or will you take your place on the battlefield and defend what's yours?"

Negi gripped the edge of the table to stop his hands from trembling. When he looked Evangeline in the eye, it was through desperate tears. But, behind them, written in his set jaw and narrow glare, there was steel, and the promise of violence, and an oath to never lie down and die, no matter what the cost. "I would want to find another way," he said, voice quiet but hard. "I wouldn't want to kill anyone. But if the warships of Mundus Magicus do come to start a war… if everything does go wrong, I won't stand by and let them burn us down. I'll fight, and though I can't really speak for them, I'm sure Ala Alba will fight as well."

Evangeline suppressed a shiver. So that's what it looked like. She remembered feeling the same thing herself, centuries ago when a ten-year old girl first woke up with a man dead in front of her, his throat torn out, and blood dripping all down her front. At first, she fled into the forest, but the hunger stayed with her. She panicked, then spent a week crying in terror, then swore that no one would take anything else from her ever again. She was going to need to take some of Negi's blood soon; the desire to drink in his passion was almost overwhelming.

"Good," Evangeline said decisively. "If you can decide that now, you won't have to waste time feeling sorry for yourself later. Now, when you're done with dinner, go turn in for the night. I've let you slack off for a few days, but I've missed beating you to a pulp, so we're starting your training again early tomorrow. Bring your red-haired brat with you, of course. Hell, bring anyone in your little club who thinks they can keep up with our pace. You lot need all the help you can get."

"Of course, Master." Negi rose from the table and gave a deep bow. "Thank you for your wisdom tonight, Master."

"Eh, whatever. I was just sick of you moping." As Negi left, Evangeline took another serving of the chicken and studied the chess board.

Negi would be a terrifying dark mage someday. Not one setting out for wealth or power or dominion, just a simple desire to protect the people precious to him. But the rules of chess never give the reason for the battle, do they? Reasons were for politicians and historians and demagogues. The warriors just fight, and Negi would certainly fight. The world would have its choice to line up with him and bask in his power, or get in his way and suffer the wrath of a vengeful god. Evangeline would see it come to pass.

She took the black queen from her side and placed it in the center of the board next to Negi's red king, and smiled. The game was getting interesting again, and Boya was the most interesting piece on the field, and he would be hers. It was time to take up chess again.


A/N: This has been sitting on my harddrive for... a year? Yeah, about that. Mostly unchanged for the past few months. It was time to either rewrite the whole thing, or polish it up, post it, and move on - and I have other projects I want to work on. I'm not completely happy with where I left it, but I thought it was interesting enough to post. I love the interactions between Evangeline and Negi in the series. It's so... twisted. The original idea was to lock these two in a house for a few chapters and see who ended up corrupting whom, but this is how long my attention span lasted. I hope you got out a kick out of it. Thanks for reading.