“Oh, look, there’s little Serena.”
“As poised as ever, I see. She’s like a belladonna flower.”
“I wonder what new discoveries she’ll make for us?”
“I heard she was falling behind the other magicians!”
“That couldn’t be. She’s the Serena Bly!”
“Her magical talents bless us all. I’m grateful we have her here.”
Serena frowned, the praises of the townsfolk falling deaf upon her ears. She wasn’t expecting to return to the village so soon, but she was informed that the elder wished to speak with her. What he wanted to talk about, Serena didn’t know but she hoped it wasn’t something radical and unreasonable.
“I do hope she marries my son. It would be a shame if her abilities ended in her generation.”
“Ooh, little Serena and Kaito would make the ultimate couple! Blessings on us all if that ever comes to pass.”
Serena winced upon hearing those words. It was no wonder that her fellow townspeople would believe them to be a match made in heaven. After all, it didn’t matter to them that Serena and Kaito Candra didn’t get along whatsoever. He scorned her, and she couldn’t tolerate his attitude. But both of them were magic-users, a kind rarer than diamonds in Zetreum Village. Only seven people could use magic here and Serena had the misfortune of being one.
She arrived at the elder’s hut in heavy spirits. Knocking upon the door three times, she entered when a rough, wispy voice spoke for her to come in.
The elder was writing down something on a scroll, probably propaganda promoting the town magicians. He would do anything to make the people totally dependant on magic to elevate his status and coagulate power. The elder stood up and turned to Serena once she closed the door, watery grey eyes staring down at her in a judging, calculating manner.
“You called?” Serena asked.
“Yes.” The elder picked up a small gadget. Inside the circular glass panel was an exact image of the constellations for tonight. “This device has made recording the movements of the stars extraordinarily easy. It is now much simpler to decipher when our magic will be at its strongest.” Lies. Magic didn’t depend on the astrological activity of the heavens but the willpower and knowledge of its user. Of course, Serena didn’t say anything, less she incurred the elder’s wrath. He could believe what he wanted, but most of them were misplaced.
“I am glad it has been of great help,” Serena said monotonously.
“Your enchanted seeds have increased crop growth, and you’ve discovered how to predict said crop growth. Serena, your ingeniousness has enriched the lives of our people.” Serena nodded. “Thus, I must ask,” The elder glowered at her, “what have you been working on now?”
“Nothing at the moment. I’ve been mostly concentrating on my studies.” Or rather, she had been working on REAN010 with Kakane extensively.
“A waste of time. You already know everything there is to know about magic.” Serena was about to disagree but closed her mouth and bit her tongue instead.
“I suppose that’s true,” she managed out. She had no idea where the elder was going with this.
“Create a new device by the end of this week,” the elder ordered, “or I won’t let you into the archives ever again. I’ll even ditch you in the forest if I must. Put your knowledge to use instead of relearning material you already know.” He leaned into Serena’s face and leered at her. “Do I make myself clear?”
“I-I don’t have any ideas right now, but I’ll think of something.” Serena gulped. “Could I have another week?” The elder recomposed himself.
Serena decided not to go back to her workshop that day. After the threat the elder issued, she needed time to herself. Kakane was sure to be angry at her, but perhaps she could afford a quiet stroll before she talked to him again.
A new invention… Perhaps something dealing with communication? She’d have to put REAN on hold, though, and that was sure to upset Kakane even more. She had dragged him into her project, so she couldn’t just suddenly ditch him. He had become rather invested in REAN, and Serena did not want to incur his wrath. Kakane didn’t deserve it. Wait, but if Serena pulled a few all-nighters, she and Kakane might be able to finish REAN in a week, then she could work on a new device the following week. If there was anything left to be done, like minor editing, Kakane could probably take care of it.
The sky was clouding over, a sure sign of rain. Yet for some reason, Serena welcomed the dismal weather with open arms.