17 Evlin gets new accessories
Today was going to be a big day for Evlin. She had received a message stating that she could receive a piece of the channeling tree which would allow her to conduct energy at will and become a full mage, which in turn would open the door for taking new jobs and requests and earning some money in the process. This was an opportunity she could not waste since she had been hut by a huge feeling of uselessness and hopelessness ever since she arrived in this new world.
Being able to perform magic would be enough to help her recover her self-confidence and start regaining control of her life. That was the thing she was earning for the most, the sense of control. First she was dragged to this weird place by some random servant mage, then she was attempted to become a princess by a the king's spoiled son, after that she could not move for weeks and had to be taken care off by a nice old lady, and when she tried to find a way to repay her, she kept constantly being tossed at the hands of a group of examiners who were forcing her to take a bunch of crazy tests to prove herself.
Basically, it's been a long time since she felt her life belonged to herself and that it wasn't just some ball being tossed among players like in a football game. She wanted to start doing what she wanted and not just follow or obey what everyone would tell her. But for that, she would need power. Power to defend herself, to speak for herself, to walk by herself, power to not need to depend on anyone, power to help her friend Dalla and to find a way to return home. Evlin needed the piece of the tree to gain that power.
She was going to meet the prince to receive the tree's piece since the royal family were in charge of deciding who could become mage or not. The problem was that she had a bad history with the prince, as in, he basically ordered her kidnapping and was the cause of everything that had happened to her in the last few weeks. Worse, not only was the prince after Evlin, there was a chance that the royal family itself might be after the young girl who had managed to reach the rank of expert mage despite only being "twelve" years old in order to make her their servant. There was a big chance that if Evlin entered the building where the meeting was taking place, she might end up getting captured.
"Here we are..."
"Are you sure about this...?"
"I need the tree's wood... You don't have to come with me..."
"I don't want to leave you alone..."
"... Thanks... Truth is, i don't want to be alone either..."
Evlin and Dalla entered the building after being greeted by two knights that were guarding the door. The two started to sweat and tremble as they reached the room where thy would meet with the prince. They looked at each other and took a deep breath before opening the door. Inside, the young kidnapper with a crown on his head and a red cape that was way too big for his body was waiting for them. Evlin and Dalla bowed to the prince.
"Greeting your majesty."
"Ah! Good, we were just talking about you!"
Alongside him were twenty guards standing proud while the kid himself was sitting on a large table with a huge black box in the middle.
"I heard that there was only one person to become a mage this time, was that a mistake?"
"Your majesty, this is Dalla, she is my caretaker and came along to watch over me."
"Watch over you? Does she not trust my security guard's to protect us?"
"Of course she does your highness, it's just that it's in her nature to be extra-careful towards children."
Also the ones she is worried about are the guards themselves, is what Evlin wanted to say, but she managed to keep it to herself. The young prince was just as Evlin remembered minus the constant obsessive love-talk. She was trying really hard not to jump across the room and punch the kid in the face for all the trouble he caused her while shouting 'Long live the prince!', but she controlled herself. Getting out of here with the piece was her top priority right now.
"I understand. My mother is the same way. Always worrying over nothing. Always going on and on about how i should 'leave my room more often' or 'be mindful of my duties'. It can be really tiresome."
"... Thank you for understanding your highness."
"Well, why don't you come closer? I wanna see the famous new mage that managed to break the record of youngest expert-rank!"
"... As you wish."
Evlin approached the table and started to pray for her life. She kept thinking to herself 'Don't recognize me! Don't recognize me!' during the whole walk. Dalla was right behind her to reassure her which managed to calm her down a little. Dalla knew that Evlin was not on good terms with the castle so there is no way she would leave Evlin alone right now.
"If it's not too much trouble, could you please tell me a little about yourself? Such an outstanding mage must surely have an outstanding story behind her."
"There is not much to say your highness. I've developed an interest in learning magic after learning about the potential it could hold for the future and just did my best to pass the exams with all my strength. I must look unusual to some because of my age, but I'm sure anyone with great effort and passion could do the same."
"So you are saying you are a lady with plenty of passion?"
"I'm saying that this is the kind of person i strive to be in the future!"
"I see. And what is your name my lady?"
"Evlin, your majesty."
"Evlin, the youngest expert mage... Would you be interested in becoming my second bride?"
Evlin's body felt like it had been hit by a truck after hearing these words. There is no way the prince had recognized her right? Was he actually pulling the 'be my bride' card to her again? And what was that about second? Did he got married in the few weeks Evlin stayed in the cabin? Did he end up summoning another poor innocent girl from her world?
"Se- Second bride... your highness...?"
"Second, yes. You see, a few weeks ago i finally got the chance to meet my future bride, but to do some circumstances she ended up disappearing. My father tried to convince me to just summo- i mean... Find another one, but i feel like she is the right one for me!"
"But after hearing about you, someone so young with so much potential, and just by our short talk i could feel you have a passionate heart! I feel like i want to take you in as well!"
"So i decided that i shall make you two my brides! We shall spend all our days together as one happy... Well, i guess i can't say couple... But i assure you that i will provide you two with all the love that only a member of the royal family can give! What do you say?"
Honestly, Evlin wanted to find the nearest bathroom and just vomit for the rest of the year after hearing these words. Looking at Dalla it seemed like she shared the sentiment. Not only was this little joke of a prince trying to marry a girl after sharing two seconds of conversation, he was daring to ask her for permission to cheat on her with herself. At this rate, never mind being captured by the guards to be turned into a servant, she might just be murdered on the spot for not being able to control herself and murder that little pest.
"You... Highness... This is a very charming and all... But i have no desire to be queen, and i definitely don't think i would be comfortable living a life as a second wife. So... If you could just allow me to receive a piece of the tree and let me be on my way... I would appreciate it!"
Please let me leave, is what she really wanted to say, but managed to hold herself.
"... ... ... What was that word you just said...?"
"Just now... You said the word 'charming'... When you said that... You sounded just like her!"
"... You know... I think I'm just going to take my wand and leave, you don't have to trouble yourself!"
Evlin in a hurry approached the huge black box and opened it hoping that the piece of the tree was inside of it, and indeed, a large chunk of root too heavy to carry by herself was there waiting for her which surprised her a little. The prince started to talk again while slowly walking towards her.
"Were you expecting to receive a wand already set for you? Candidates attempting to become mages need to first indicate what shape they want their pieces of the tree to look before completely receiving them. Everyone knows that... The only way you wouldn't know that..."
The prince was now staring right into her eyes, one inch away from her face with a big malicious smile.
"... Is if you are not from here... Right my love?"
Evlin was in despair. She was found out and couldn't get her wand. All she had was this gigantic piece of root that would need about two of her to be able to carry it. Once again the prince begun his speech.
"I was informed that you deserved an extra large piece of the tree due to your excellent scores. I was reluctant at first but what a blessing it turned out to be. If you had gotten access to a normal-sized piece you could end up escaping from me again. Assuming you were ready to leave your caretaker behind that is."
Evlin looked towards Dalla and realized that she was surrounded by knights with spears pointed at her neck. She was nervously shaking trying not to move to avoid getting stabbed by accident.
The whole thing had turned into a disaster. Evlin had brought Dalla alongside to help her stay calm and now she was more desperate than ever. She tried to disguise herself to avoid getting the prince's attention but now he wanted her even more than before. She wanted to regain control of her life by obtaining some form of power and now she was even more hopeless than before. Or was she?
"... Do you like bets... Your highness...?"
"How about we play a game? My hand and my magic talent for mine and Dalla's freedom. Winner takes it all."
"You dare to challenge me? I have you cornered! Why should i gamble when i have nothing to lose?"
"You don't have me yet... Not completely at least. You capture me now and i swear that at the first chance i get I'll grab the nearest knife i can find and cut my own neck. Or maybe I'll just bite my own tongue and bleed to death."
"You would kill yourself just to get away from me? Stop bluffing."
"You say that to the girl who literally threw herself out of a window to escape from you?"
"Accept my game, and if you win... I'm yours forever. Refuse, and we can say our farewells right now."
Dalla and the guards were staring at the prince with their eyes wide open.
"... What kind of game...?"
"A magic duel. Me and my studly huge piece of root against your best mage. The first one to make the opponent give up or knock him out wins!"
"Looks like you recent success in the exam has gone over to your head. You may have been ranked as an expert class but you still have only been in this world for less than a month. You think you can beat my best mage who has been training for years?"
"I'll take my chances."
"Seems like you are not the perfect bride after all. Beautiful and talented but dumb as a rock. Very well. After you are knocked out I'll put a spell on you so you can never run away or try to take your own life again. Better yet, i will just put a spell to make you fall for me! Shall we do it right here?"
"Sure... Just bring me some moron to beat up and let's get this over with."
"Some moron... Is this anyway to speak to your future king?"
The prince removed his red cape and revealed a staff that was hidden inside of it.
"You asked for my best mage. I am the best mage of the castle. Ten years studying under the greatest teachers my father could provide!"
The prince walked towards the center of the room and started to spin his staff while releasing a number of magic waves, all in different elements to show his dominance. After finishing he looked at Evlin with a smug face and made her a dare.
"Still feel like moving on with this?"
"... You will be my opponent...? I've been waiting to punch you in the face ever since you first opened your goddamn mouth to me... And now you are telling me that if i want to become a mage, save my friend and move on with my life, all i have to do is knock you out senseless?"
At this moment she touched the giant tree root and used it to channel some modeling energy onto itself creating a huge light around it. After finishing it, The guards, the prince and Dalla stared at Evlin and noticed that she had changed the shape of the root completely. The piece of the tree was gone and now Evlin was wearing a pair of wooden bracelets on each hand, a pair of wooden greaves on each leg, one wooden necklace around her neck and carrying a wooden crossbow with her right arm and resting it on her shoulder. She had completely turned all that mass of wood into a some sort of half-finished suit of armor for her. While smiling from ear to ear she looked at the prince and responded him.
"I say... You just dug your own grave!"