"Madam Mima?"

"What is it this time, child?"

"It's cold in my room."

"Yes, and?"

"It's the middle of Summer! My room should be scorching hot!"

"Marisa, your room is cold because I enchanted it. You're going to learn Cryomancy, and to do that, you need to learn to accept the cold."

"I don't like it."

"Well, tough. Magic isn't about doing only what one likes."

[Page Break]

Mima didn't like this turn of events one bit. Not one. Tiny. Bit. Yuki simply would not be quiet. She was continually going on about what few accomplishments she had achieved. While at first, the stories had been interesting, Mima was quickly growing bored of the chatterbox Pyromancer. "So anyway," Yuki continued, on her fourth story. "This was back when I first met Mai. She was still pretty frosty to be around, both literally and emotionally, but she hadn't quite figured out her magic yet. We spent, what, two hours slinging raw elemental energy back and forth? Finally, we both ran out of mana and we agreed to become partners."

"You agreed to become partners," Mai corrected. "I agreed to work with you to become stronger. There's a difference." She spurred the horse Shinki had provided (one for each of them) in order to catch up with Yuki and Mima. "Keep your facts straight so as not to confuse the Lady Archmage."

"If there's a difference, I ain't seein' it," retorted Yuki. "We're partners, whether you like it or not."

"We are not partners!"

"Oh really? Explain the combo attacks then!"

Mima quickly reined her horse back before she got pulled into the argument between the two mages, but even next to Yuuka twenty feet back, she could still hear Mai shout "Those were your idea! You had the idiotic idea to mix your fire with my ice and half of those ideas don't even work!"

"Do you think those two ever stop arguing?" asked Mima of Yuuka.

"Probably not," sighed Yuuka. "It does make for an interesting show, though.

"Perhaps if there's no other show to watch," Mima countered, glad at the chance to tune out the arguing girls. "Still, the Cryomancer raises an interesting point about combination attacks, and the like. I've never tried mixing my spells with somebody else's."

"Hmm," Yuuka toned. "While the concept itself is interesting, don't forget she raised a valid point about it, as well," she said. "Half, roughly, of those proposed combination attacks didn't work out. The exact details are unknown without asking," she gestured to the still-arguing pair. "But I'm fairly certain mixing two spells can lead to some rather explosive and disastrous results if done incorrectly. Sorcerers have the same problem with singular high-level spells. Perfecting it would take quite some time."

Mima nodded and pursed her lips. "Actually, that reminds me of something I've been wanting to ask since we met," she said after a few more minutes of riding (and a full minute of genuine silence from Yuki and Mai). "What Branch of magic do you study under?"

Yuuka smirked softly. "I don't actually study under the Court's protection, nor do I actually study magic the way you do." She sighed wistfully. "You see, despite my youthful appearance, I'm several hundred years old. As well, I'm not human, like you and the Court Mages. You recall my title?" Mima nodded. "That's more literal than you might think. I'm a Demon, of sorts. In my homeland, they called me a 'Youkai'."

"A 'Youkai'," Mima muttered, trying the word. She shrugged noncommittally and shifted her gaze forward. Yuki and Mai had stopped arguing long enough to get a glimpse of what lay ahead. Makai's gate—and the gate's keeper—stood ready to let them pass. Louise was standing off to the side while Sara stood in front of the gate proper. Louise herself seemed miffed about something, but Mima had no clue as to what.

"Louise is demanding an apology for the mistaking of her name earlier," Sara explained. "I told her she wasn't likely to get one."

Mima flinched slowly, surprised. "Well, uh," she started, uncertain. "I do apologize for botching your name, and deliberately at that." She let out a breath. "I was . . frustrated, at the time, and I took it out on you."

Louise looked at Mima with an expectant look, clearly wanting more than just an apology. Sara, on the other hand, simply pushed the waiting girl aside so the quartet could travel. Puzzled, but undaunted, Mima and Yuuka traveled through the gate quietly while Yuki and Mai continued their argument about whether or not they were partners and whether or not combination attacks were a good idea as they traveled through Makai's gate.

Mima, on the other hand, continued talking with Yuuka. "So, what kind of magic do you practice?"

Yuuka's smirk broadened. "The closest thing to what I use is Terramancy, under the Tetramancy branch," she explained. When Mima put on a confused face, she added "Elemental magic, my dear. Earth Elemental magic." She took the opportunity to poke fun at Mima's lack of knowledge about other branches besides the one she studied. "Goodness, I'd have assumed you knew about the other branches."

"Last I checked, there weren't any Tetramancers in the Court," Mima tried to defend. "Haven't been for at least two-hundred years. I only study the branches that the Court Mages practice."

Yuuka checked on Yuki and Mai to make sure the two hadn't fallen behind before deciding to quiz Mima. "So tell me then," she started. "What branch of magic does the Forgotten practice under?"

Mima scoffed. "That's easy. Lady Amahlia practices mentat," she answered. "Mind magic."

Yuuka chuckled softly and posed another question. "And the Witch-King?"

"Lord Vittorio?"

"Yes, that dashing young man."

Mima turned to face Yuuka in surprise before answering. "Let me think," she started. "He only recently became the Witch-King a couple years ago, but if memory serves, he started out as the Armorer." She nodded in confirmation. "Yes, that's it. Lord Vittorio is a Warcaster."

Yuuka nodded. "So you do study, after all." She turned her smirk into a gentle smile. "Last question, I promise. The Immortal."

Mima scrunched her face in thought. "The Immortal?" she said questioningly. "But, there isn't anyone on the Court by that title . . . . Is there?"

"I believe she only ascended this year," Yuuka explained. "You might not have been able to study her."

"Hmm," Mima said thoughtfully. A moment later, her face lit up in realization. "You mean that little half-pint Omnicaste!" she exclaimed. "I never thought she'd pass the Court Mage Ascension Exam, much less defeat the Dead Knight!"

"Even half-pints can hide massive amounts of power, Mima," Yuuka said, not without a large dose of wisdom in her voice. "Remember that."