Nidhoggr

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Chapter 7: The Fairy Court Marshals

“What did you think all that was about?” Angelique wondered while she devoured her mashed potatoes. It was the day after the examination. After Tanya ran from the moment school was over, we were left to our own devices.

Since none of us knew what to do, we just… left. After an uneventful evening, we all went back to school. However, the teacher was nowhere to be found. Instead, we had self-study sessions in the morning and practical sessions with the other classes in the afternoon.

“I dunno.” I shrugged. I had no idea why the Fairy Court would contact Tanya. Her Mark was of the Fairy-variety, yes, but the Court only acted when you were a high-priority target. This wasn’t making any sense.

“I’ll ask my friends if they heard anything about it.” Lily offered. I nodded: If there was anything you’d like to know, that bunch of gossipers mostly heard it through a rumour or two.

Soon, the bell tolled. All students made their way to the central courtyard. It was much bigger than the field my class used to train in. But that was only logical, since about a hundred students were present. They all formed neat lines of ten people each. The class I was in stood a bit lost at the side.

“What are you guys doing? Show these people how far they can go!” The old instructor yelled from the other end of the field. We all looked at each other before we walked to the middle of the field. I admired his drive to push the other students. But everyone knew there was a limit to the magic of low-tiered Marks; They could never reach Angelique’s current level, not in a million years.

“Fine…” I said and looked around. Lily nodded and swiftly turned around. She looked at a couple of students and gazed deeply into their eyes. The redhaired vixen snapped her fingers, causing the students to fire their spells at random across the fields. I recognized some spells as weak fireballs, hydro shots, and gale bursts.

Nothing impressive, however. I heard surprised gasps coming from the shocked audience.

Next up was Angelique , who charged up one of her spells and let it fire without a target it mind. The flames tore irregularly through the field and charred various spots. When it was done maiming the courtyard, it exploded and sent cinders all over the place. It was very impressive to look at.

Angelique blushed and hid behind a couple other students when she heard everyone applaud for her.

I was next. But what should I show them?, I asked myself. I didn’t have any flashy magic like Angelique, nor did I have something that had any effect on them like Lily’s unique magic.

Unless…

“Hey, can you order your subjects to fire towards me? Two should do the trick.” Lily smirked when she realized what I planned to do. Her eyes surged with a hot pink colour. When she snapped her fingers, two students under her spell immediately fired their spells towards me. A blubbery orb of water and a gale of wind raced towards me.

I jumped forwards and had my Mark devour the watery orb. While it held the spell inside me, I had it devour the gale of wind as well. I had the misty beast combine the two spells in its stomach before it regurgitated the two at the same time. The spell that resulted was something new entirely: it was some kind of bubble.

When it burst, it released a strong shockwave in all directions. Some students got knocked into the waiting arms of their peers. Maybe a bit too strong, I realized.

“So this is what the famed ‘Dread Trio’ can muster.” An unfamiliar voice echoed from the audience. The students stepped aside to let a small group of people. They all wore the same uniform and had a rapier strapped to their hips. On their azure velvet vests, they had the same marks embroidered with silver stitching.

The Fairy Court Marshals. I recognized the stitching in the shape of a four-leaf clover and a sword crossed together as their insignia.

They were renowned for their power and were used by the Court as their hands. Every single one of them was on par with some of the strongest people in the city. If not the strongest.

“Pardon? Dread Trio?” I responded. That was a new name for me. Lily frowned and watched the newcomers closely. I crossed my arms and waited for them to continue.

“But of course. That’s the name we’ve given to the three people who crushed about a hundred people single-handedly.” I raised my eyebrows. A hundred? When did that--?

Oh. They were alluding to the mall attack. But a hundred? That was way too exaggerated; I only remembered bashing about ten people into the ground.

“Aren’t you exaggerating? I’ve never—” One of the Marshals scoffed and shook his head.

“Of course not. I wouldn’t expect any truth coming out from one of the perpetrators.” The man sneered. I glared at him. So that was it, huh? We’ve been put in the same house, just because they think we were the culprits of that attack.

Not to mention the dip of popularity the Court suffered. Normally, they are regarded as the strongest organisation in the city. And everyone adored them for that, even if their methods were… questionable. Now that a new power that seemed to rival theirs has appeared, they felt assaulted.

Not to mention the fact that they couldn’t resolve the mall attack, and we did. I’ve read several newspapers about how incompetent the Court acted that day. And several articles praised Angelique, Lily and me. So there was some understandable hate, I thought.

“Now, look here, asshole.” I answered. “I don’t know what is going on, if anything, in that empty head of yours. But you don’t have any proof that we were the culprits, do you?” The man chuckled and shook his head.

“No, that’s correct. I loathe to admit that we did find any evidence. Yet. However, we have a decisive lead that will reveal the truth.” The Marshal rebutted. I frowned; What was he talking about?

“However… In preparation of the ceremony…” He didn’t finish his sentence. He glanced over at one of his companions, whom charged forth.

“Hey, what--?!” Lily pulled me backwards and kicked back against the attacker. Her legs clashed with the attacker’s right arm. After a couple of seconds, the redhead was forced to pull back. She massaged her left leg. The resulting force must’ve damaged her leg.

Before she could react, a big magic circle activated. It originated from the middle of the pack of Marshals. A huge torrent of water razed forth, towards the fallen woman.

“Lily!” Angelique was just in time with her spell. The clash of water and fire caused steam to spew everywhere. Angelique got blown away by the impact and landed about fifty feet backwards. The entire field was covered in a thick, sweltering mist. I felt my clothes stick to my back. I didn’t see anything around me, not even my own feet.

Was it a magic spell?, I asked myself. Steam normally wasn’t so thick.

“So pathetic. Why the masses think you are better than us is beyond me!” The man’s voice rung behind me. I rolled forwards, just in time before a sharp rocky spike skewered the place where I’d been standing.

“Holy--! Are you trying to kill me?!” I screamed.

“Maybe. Not that you would ever understand.” The man shrugged and fired off another spell. This time, two pincer-like rocks shut up from the ground and tried to crush me between them. Luckily, my Mark managed to eat one of the rocks.

So things manipulated by magic is food as well for you?, I asked the misty beast that chomped on the rock. It ignored my question and licked its misty teeth before it retreated back into my body. A second after, I got smashed by the remaining rocky pincer.

I rolled over the field until I finally managed to come to a stop. Twenty feet further. I grunted in pain before I jumped back on my feet. The steam started to clear out when a soft breeze rolled over the practice field.

“Ha! Pathetic! These are the idiots that ended the attack on the mall? Worthless.” The man scoffed. So it was about their reputation. I’ve read newspapers about a dip in the Court’s popularity due to our interference. Were they angry about that?

“What the hell is your problem?!” Lily yelled. She had been knocked quite a distance away and clutched at her bleeding ankles.

“Hmph. I don’t have to dignify worthless scum like you with a response.” The man turned around and faced his subordinates. “That’s enough for today.” The man turned around and ordered his subordinates to do the same.

I frowned: why did they attack us anyway? To gloat? I looked around me while the steam got blown away by a gentle breeze. At the end of the field, Lily clutched at her ankles and fell on the ground. Angelique slowly pushed herself unto her knees and made her way over to the redhead.

I felt countless stares at my back. When I turned around, most of the students looked wary of me. So that was it, I realized. They wanted to show their power. Show that we were nothing compared to them. That they were still the greatest institution in the city.

Which was annoying.

“Are you alright, Lily?” Angelique knelt right beside the red-haired vixen and checked her leg. It was swollen and, although she didn’t want to let anyone see, she whimpered in pain. That Marshal hit her hard, I assumed.

“Let’s get you to the nurse’s office.” I said and grabbed Lily’s left shoulder. I glanced at my squid-like companion. Angelique nodded and gently hoisted Lily on her feet. The redhaired vixen glared at the two of us and pushed us away.

“I’m strong enough to—ARGH!” The girl tightly grabbed her left leg and fell to the ground. More blood trickled through her fingers. I pulled her back up and placed myself underneath one of her shoulder to support her.

“Of course you are. But this time, let us help, yeah?” I said before carrying her to the nurse’s office with Angelique’s help. The doctor on duty ordered us to lie her down in one of the many beds in the room. While I was waiting for her to fill in the necessary paperwork, I noticed her Mark on the back of her neck.

“You’ve got a Fairy Mark?” I asked. The doctor looked up and flashed me a soft smile. She nodded.

“Yes, I do. It’s just a low-tier Mark though…” The woman responded despondently. I nodded and remembered what that Court Marshal said.

Once the ceremony is completed, huh?

“Say… You wouldn’t happen to know about a ceremony of the Fairy Court?” I asked. The woman frowned and stopped filling in the paperwork.

“I do know of one ceremony, yes. But it’s forbidden.” I frowned. Were those rumours about the Fairy Court and their usage of forbidden spells correct after all…?

“Can you tell me about it?” I pressed on. Something about the fact that those Marchals told us about the Ceremony in the first place didn’t sit right with me.

“Well… I don’t know the details but it seems like some kind of manipulation Ceremony. Normally, spells wear off after a set time, right? However, ceremonies can extend the length of that spell for as long as necessary.” So it was some kind of manipulation ceremony?

“Huh. Thanks for the information.” I said and flashed her a soft smile. Angelique seemed in deep thought, however.

When the paperwork was done, we both stepped out of the doctor’s office to let Lily be healed by the doctors. When we crossed the hallway and made our way to the Academy’s entrance.

“Hang on a moment.” Angelique suddenly said. I turned around. The squid-girl seemed to have come to some kind of conclusion.

“The ceremony is to manipulate people, right? ” I nodded. I wasn’t sure where she wanted to go with this, though.

“And Tanya ran off after the examination yesterday, correct? And she stepped into a vehicle of the Fairy Court?” I nodded again. I was starting to see what Angelique was thinking.

“Do you think… they’re going to force a false confession out of our teacher?” I proposed. Angelique slowly nodded.

“It’s a decent possibility. After all, she’s the only person that’s close to all three of us. And she is our teacher.” Angelique responded. “However, something still isn’t right. Why tell us about the ceremony, while the Court normally is so secretive?” That’s right, I realized.

If they planned on doing the ceremony and draw false evidence out of their asses, what reason did they have to tell us about it?

“Yeah… That’s weird.” I pondered about it while we walked back to our house. I scratched my head. But I couldn’t find the missing piece of the puzzle.

Just what was the Fairy Court planning?

When we arrived at the house that was forced on us, we were in for a nasty shock. Several letters had been dumped in front of the door. I didn’t recognize the senders. Angelique drew a blank as well when she read the names written on the envelopes.

The contents were nothing to laugh at, however.

“Look at this one. ‘If you don’t come out and tell the truth, I’m going to torture it out of you’.” I mumbled when I grabbed the third letter. They were all about the same. Confess, or suffer the consequences.

“I wonder why they’ve all been written with the same ink.” Angelique pondered. I watched how she grabbed a couple of latters and placed them against the window. She scrutinized them closely.

“You know what type of ink they used?” I wondered. The squid-girl nodded and turned to face me.

“Yes. Mother is the CEO of a big company that manufactures ink, among other things. You have no idea how many hours I’ve spent staring into the ink tanks when I was a kid.” The squid girl explained. I slowly nodded.

" It’s the same ink. Same colour, same smell, everything. It’s quite expensive too. Not everyone can afford to waste money on this stuff.” Angelique explained while she sipped from a glass of salty water.

“So we’ve got a nefarious unknown admirer, huh?” I summarized. My squid-like companion nodded before she grabbed the entirety of the letters and dumped them into the bin.

“No use worrying about it now. They probably want to make us flustered.” I said. Angelique nodded. Still, I coud see her eyes bouncing all over the place. She was getting nervous.

“Right! I’ll start dinner.” I announced. The girl softly smiled and nodded, before she grabbed a bottle of salted water and sat down on the kitchen counter.

While I was cooking, my head was filled with questions. What would happen to us? Practically everyone knew that the city was ruled by the Fairy Court. If they were truly set on destroying us...

We would have a heck of a time, that’s for sure.

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