Mima examined the young red-haired girl sleeping on what was once her own bed. Ragged breathing, slightly blue lips and skin, uncontrolled shakes. She had all the signs of hypothermia. Normally, the "Evil" Spirit of Makai would have left her to die in the snow. This girl was interesting, though. Something about her reminded Mima of herself. The more she thought about it, the more she recalled her own history . . . .

"Mima Altriseni! Get your sorry butt out of bed! You've been called before the Court of High Magic, and I'll be damned if you're late again!" The green-haired girl shifted in bed, reached out with one hand, and patted all along her desk, looking for something. "If you're looking for that wand you always blast me with, I've moved it. You're not getting out of this one!" The hand that was searching for the wand turned into a fist and quickly struck out at the source of the voice: an "alarm clock" familiar assigned to Mima so she could be bothered to make her appointments on time. The familiar's words seemed to have some kind of effect on the once-sleeping girl, though, as she quickly pushed herself up and opened her deep green eyes.

"The Court?! They want me?!" She immediately threw the covers off and got out of bed. She went over the closet, sifted through various articles of clothing, and picked out her favorite blue robe, quickly donning it and doing up the clasps. "Why does the Court want to see me? I'm just a Rookie Mage, so why?"

The familiar Mima had punched floated over to her side. "You really think they're gonna tell me those kinds of details?," he countered. "All I know is that you've been called before the Court of High Magic. No ands, ifs, or buts."

Mima sighed and fished something out of her pocket. Another wand. "Vernietigen," she muttered swiftly, pointing at the familiar. She knew he'd survive. He always did, no matter what spell she used to get rid of him in the mornings. Today she'd chosen a Dutch destruction spell that worked wonders when making doors and getting rid of annoying familiars. She forgot who created it, but the spell-book she'd found it in held several more like it. Of course, those were all higher-tier spells that Mima didn't quite have the capacity for. Yet. She wondered if any of those spells had the capability to permanently dispatch with the familiar that bothered her on a daily basis.

Disregarding that for the time being, Mima rushed out her door and up the street. The Court of High Magic, when they were actually present, gathered in a tower in the center of the township. They'd wasted no energy on making it impressive, and anyone who didn't know about this town's association with spellcasters assumed it was just there for decoration. Spellcasters and those associated with them, though, knew that the Court of High Magic used it, albeit rarely. Most spellcasters also knew that this town was simply one of many that the Court frequented. Nobody save for the Court themselves knew exactly where they each called home.

As Mima approached the tower, she began considering exactly what the Court wanted with her. It could be anything from her frequent tardiness when it came to appointments, her tendency to attack the familiar assigned to her, or even her unwillingness to "progress" past the Rank of Rookie Mage. Aside from the Rank of Mageling, the Rank of Rookie Mage was the lowest rank a spellcaster training under the supervision and protection of the Court could have. Mima had held that rank for almost a decade, having earned it on her twelfth birthday. The more she thought about it, the more she thought that was the Court's reason for calling for her.

Mima eyed each of the ten members of the Court in turn, wondering what could be hidden behind those eerie-looking helms. The resounding silence only made the situation eerier. Of course, considering the members of the Court were all sitting on raised chairs that befit their almost god-like abilities and positions, Mima really couldn't be blamed for thinking the whole situation creepy. After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Mima heard one of the Court members speak. She couldn't see any movement from any of the Court members, nor could she tell exactly which one had spoken; at least she couldn't tell physically, as the voice seemed to come from every direction at once.

She felt a small mental nudge from the member directly to her right, though, as if that should tell her who the speaker was. The Spellcrafter. "Mima Altriseni. You have been called before the Court of High Magic in order to take your next Exam of Rank Advancement, as well as to discuss your future as a spellcaster." The voice was deep, rough, but cultured. Male, clearly. Far too deep to be female.

Another voice cut in, this one deeper and accompanied by a mental nudge from the one to her front-left. The Warmaster. "Come now, Stelzoch. Don't lie to the child." This voice was much smoother, almost as if it were water. Male, like the first voice, but also higher in tone "We all know her abilities, we all know the rules."

A third voice interrupted the Warmaster before he could say anything more, again accompanied by a mental nudge, this time from directly in front of her, albeit slightly offset to her left. The Witch-Queen. The title made it obvious that the speaker was female. "Azazel, Stelzoch. Control your impulses." This voice was cultured, lilting, soft, but at the same time, firm, commanding, and above all, in command, 100%. The two armored figures that had spoken before the Witch-Queen had seemingly shrunk, though the details of their armor were still clear as day. The Warmaster was militarian; sharp, clearly defined edges defined him. The Spellcrafter virtually the opposite; a 'caster's robe his main definition.

"With all honesty," Mima heard herself say. "I would like it if you got to the point." She pulled out her wand and held it at her side, fingers clenched around it.

"We have been watching you Mima Altriseni," claimed the Witch-Queen. "You've been at the Rookie Mage rank for almost a decade. Why?"

Mima searched for an answer. Why had she remained a Rookie Mage since she'd achieved it on her 12th birthday? "Uhh," she began, hesitating and trying to buy time so she could come up with an excuse. "I'm a slow learner?" Laughter rang from all around her, and Mima had a difficult time keeping up with all the mental pushes.

When the laughter died down, the Witch-Queen spoke. "The Spellcrafter begs to differ. He's seen your skill. Not many can cast several different destruction spells in a row." Mima flinched as she remembered that day. She'd gotten quite angry at her familiar, and so had cast every destruction spell she knew on it, including Vernietigen and Distruge. In the end, it had amounted to a total of eleven different destruction spells cast in rapid succession, followed even by a killing spell: Homicidium. When she thought about it, though, she really couldn't understand just why a killing spell had been in her basics spellbook. Unless it wasn't actually from a basics book.

While she never had trouble remembering spells, she frequently forgot precisely which spell came from which book. Rather annoying when it came down to it.

The Witch-Queen's voice sounding again snapped Mima out of her flashback. "In any case, we of the Court have a task for you, Mima Altriseni. A task involving the once-proud realm of Makai."