The Runaway Magician and the Lost Prince

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Chapter 11

Serena’s garments and face desperately needed a wash, and she felt icky all over. A nice bath was definitely in order. Seeing as there was a stream not far from where the Dagaalayahanno had set up camp, Serena took a small brush and a dish to wash her clothes. She had also packed some soap, so if she was alone, she’d get rid of all the dirt on her. When she arrived at the river, however, she was dismayed to find that someone was already there.

It was a young woman clearly not from the Dagaalyahanno. Unlike the tanned-skinned, black-haired people of the tribe, her complexion was fair and her long blond hair was held back in a low ponytail by way of a wing-shaped clip. She was holding a strange instrument filled with water and beside her, even more vials were filled with mud and grass. Serena looked at the devices in fascination, wondering how on earth they worked. The woman then noticed her staring, and chuckled.

“I didn’t realize there were more visitors to the Dagaalyahanno other than myself.” Serena blinked.

“O-Oh, my friend and I are just stopping by for a little bit. I’m Serena. Serena Bly.”

“Mira Vetrar.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, what is all this?”

“I’m studying the natural life cycle of the Bannaanka Weyn,” Mira explained. “I’m a correspondent from Poseidos, see, and the Dagaalyahanno have agreed to let me stay with them for the duration of my research. It’s for the restoration of a cursed island.”

“Poseidos? You’re from Poseidos?” Serena asked excitedly. “My friend and I were on our way there when we… Sort of got lost.” She coughed awkwardly. “See, we heard that Poseidons were expert puppeteers, so we wanted to go there to fix our broken puppet.”

“Really? Well, I can’t deny that we were once masters of puppetry. What model is the puppet?”

“Oh, it’s my original design. I just couldn’t get it to work, even with my friend’s help, so we’re seeking out professionals.”

“May I see the blueprints?”

Serena showed Mira the carefully constructed pieces of paper, littered with scribbles, detailed drawings, and a culmination of information. Mira nodded and tapped her chin as Serena explained the Pure Soul Puppet Core to her. When she finished, Mira had closed her eyes, deep in thought. When she opened them, there was an inspirational and knowledgeable glint within her magenta orbs.

“I think I see the problem,” Mira said slowly. “I understand that you only had combat puppet blueprints to work off of, but this REAN is designed to be a puppet with free will, correct?”

“Yes.”

“That’s no easy feat, I tell you that much, and even for masters, it’s difficult to accomplish. It’s not commonplace in our modern world either. Furthermore, the ancient blueprints you based REAN off of seem to be of Doryokan origin, meaning that the core is contradicting itself, as the brain is following the Laws of Puppetry but the heart has free will.”

“Laws of Puppetry? I don’t think I programmed something like that into REAN.”

“I didn’t expect you to. But if you strictly followed the guidelines set by ancient Doryokan puppeteers, you will inadvertently end up coding the Laws of Puppetry into REAN’s mainframe. That’s probably what’s causing it to malfunction.”

“What even are the Laws of Puppetry?” Serena asked. Mira smiled.

“I can’t say the same for the ancient puppets of Poseidos, but in Doryoku, why do you suppose the puppets there were never given free will?”

“Um…” Serena thought hard for a moment. “Could that be it? No, I don’t think it’s possible, but…” She hesitated before answering. “Is it to prevent them from using magic?”

“Correct!” Mira seemed pleased. “If puppets did have willpower, then later models could evolve to somehow obtain a soul. Even an artificial soul might work. And as humanity advanced, puppets could easily learn the knowledge needed to use magic.”

“Right, because the three requirements to use magic are soul, knowledge, and willpower,” Serena realized. “If they’re stripped of all decision-making, puppets have no will and therefore no souls. But then they’d lack self-awareness, wouldn’t they?”

“Yes, but that was deemed necessary in order for puppets to function properly,” Mira said. “The first Doryokan puppet masters feared a rising rebellion from self-aware puppets in which the puppets tried to free themselves from their presumed slavery.”

“So that’s why they came up with the Laws of Puppetry.”

“Yes. They are as follows: A puppet must always be assigned a master, and must obey that master or any other human; a puppet may not harm a human in any way, shape or form and cannot be in the possession of any weapon known to man with the exception of combat puppets when ordered to; in the face of violence, a puppet cannot fight back against a human and must protect any human, even at the cost of its own body; and finally, a puppet cannot act without orders from its master or any other human.”

“So then the ancient Poseidon puppeteers didn’t program the Laws of Puppetry?”

“No, because we were the first puppeteers as far as modern records are concerned. Specifically, it was the ancient craftsmen of the island of Atlantis who created the first puppets. Doryoku merely stole our ideas.” Mira rolled her eyes. “The Atlantean puppeteers gave their creations free will, and there was also said to be a puppet army in service of the king. Atlantis is also the island I’m trying to restore, but most of its history is lost to us,” Mira added.

“What? Oh, no! Then how will I be able to fix REAN?” Serena fretted. “Do you know how to delete the Laws of Puppetry from REAN’s database, Mira?” The blond woman shook her head.

“Sadly, I don’t. Puppetry is not my area of expertise. But don’t worry, Serena. Once Atlantis is restored, we should be able to recover documents that may help you entirely reprogram REAN without having to worry about the Laws of Puppetry. You said you wanted to go to Poseidos, yes?”

“Right…?”

“Where is your friend at the moment?”

“Sulking. We shouldn’t bother him; he’s had a bit of a rough day.”

“I see. Let me tell you, Serena, this puppet model is absolutely ingenious,” Mira praised. “And the Pure Soul Puppet Core, extraordinary, revolutionary, absolutely brilliant. This is a project that deserves to be finished and given the time of day. The next time you see your friend, tell them that I am willing to bring you both to Poseidos with me once my research in the Bannaanka Weyn is complete.”

“Really!? Thank you so much for your kindness!” Serena gushed.

“It is the least I could do, as a fellow intellectual. I had so much fun talking to you, after all. It’s not every day you meet a fellow genius and can hold a highly educational conversation with them about puppets.”

“That is true. If you need any help with your research, I will be happy to assist. It’s the least I can do to pay you back.”

“Much obliged. Right now, however, it seems your garments and skin require some attending to.”

“Oh, yes!”

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