Chapter 34 – Pawn
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After talking with Tara, Cain sent her on her way despite her slight reluctance. He wasn't in the mood to take a walk anymore so he decided to just peruse some books on magical theories and formulas — so much for a break.

He was always reminded of mathematics when looking at magical theories, spell models and their formulas — he hated maths. Well that was then, right now however, he was completely fine with it.

Unlike maths which dealt with numbers, spells dealt with circles, runes, arcane languages, magic tongues and so on. Mages were divided into various sub-classes; Arcanists, Wizards, Magus, BloodMages.

Arcanists used their arcane languages to imbue spells on themselves. Unlike other mages, they had strong bodies and were extremely deadly in close combats. Arcanists were the only mages who could boast of being adept at close combat, completely dispelling the fact that mages were weak in close proximities.

But their Arcane arts only accounted for close combat, they were almost useless when it came to long range combat and kiting—which was what mages were best known for.

Wizards used what was called the 'Magic tongue' to chant. Magic tongues were the oldest and most complex language, some claimed it was the language of the world itself. Unlike Arcane language which could be traced back to its creator, magic tongues could not. Because of how ancient and robust this language was, wizardian spells packed more power and were of higher quality.

However, they too had their disadvantages in the sense that their chants were extremely long and needed a lot of preparation before a battle. Not everyone could understand the magic tongue because of its complexity but it could be learnt albeit with extreme difficulty.

Magus were those who used runic spell circles and models. They were also called the Rune Masters. Unlike the other two, Magus only needed to cast their spell circles and affect nature itself. In terms of firepower, they were weaker than the others but they were more balanced than the rest.

Magus could also inscribe runes on their bodies just the way Arcanists did but their power would never match the arcane arts and spells.

As for the Bloodmages, they weren't a sub-class per say but more of mages with bloodlines. Their greatest advantage was that they could be either Arcanists, Wizards or Magus. This was why people with bloodlines were feared, they were extremely versatile. They each had their own innate abilities and could learn spells of all kinds.

Bloodmages were what you would call cheats. For example, someone with a bloodline ability suited for long range could choose to be an Arcanist, completely making up for their weakness in long ranged battles—they are called BloodArcanists.

Cain chose to be a BloodMagus, the reason was simple, they were more balanced than the rest. As for firepower, he couldn't care less, he had enough of it through his bloodlines and spells. However, in his free time, he learnt the basics of Arcane language which was also a part of what he used for his Dominion Body skill.

He kept on finger-walking through a handful of pages. His mind processing what he saw at a terrifying speed, even coming up with his own hypothesis and theories. This was the essence of a mage, there was no end to learning. Which is why they were extremely sensitive to nature.

After hours — who knew how long — was spent, he dropped the book which was titled <Spell Fragmentation>. He was a little satisfied with what he learnt and he couldn't wait to try out some more tests. But right now, he just wanted to sleep, he would continue from where he stopped once he woke up.

***

When Cain was busy browsing his books, Tara made her way upwards and her destination was the royal residence. Although she was extremely obsessed with Cain, she never forgot that this was possible thanks to Ellen. She wanted to really give Ellen a big hug.

She had already informed Ellen of her arrival so when she got to the residence there wasn't any hiccups.

Ellen was inside the living room fiddling with a particular coin. It was white colored with numerous gold colored symbols carved on it. She would flip it into the air and catch it with a her eyes closed and a smile on her face.

She was extremely relaxed as she sat on the sofa, her elbow was on the armrest as her head rested on her knuckles. It was quiet and only the sound of coin flips could be heard.

But that changed as the door opened and Tara entered with light steps and a smile on her face. She looked extremely composed but beneath her gaze, one could feel appreciation. However the coin attracted her attention, it seemed familiar to her but she couldn't place a name on it.

Ellen caught the coin in her palm and opened her eyes, when she saw Tara her smile widened. She was truly happy with her choice, she felt that she picked right.

"What's the update?" she asked.

"Your highness, it worked!" Tara clenched her fist and pounded it a little in the air. "He's mine, It wasn't easy winning his heart but I really did it. He even invited me to his room, HIS room" Right now it almost felt like she could burst into tears.

Although Tara kept stalking Cain, most of his information was provided by Ellen to her. Afterall, someone like her couldn't hope to know Cain's every movement. So she sincerely thanked Ellen from the bottom of her heart.

Ellen however was a little surprised as she raised her right brow, "Oh? That's surprising. Alright, I want you to tell me everything you both discussed."

Tara didn't beat around the bush as she began to explain everything. There was no ounce of shame on her face, in fact she felt a little proud of all her escapades.

However Ellen wasn't basking in her fun. The more she listened the more she frowned. She didn't like this development at all. But it was still within her control, afterall Tara was nothing more than a pawn to her.

After Tara recounted everything, Ellen now understood the gist of things. She sieved the important information and came to one conclusion in her mind—Cain wasn't interested in Tara at all. In fact she was a little sure that he saw Tara as nothing more than a pawn as well.

Ellen inwardly sighed as she thought of this. The way she looked at Tara was with one of pity. Fools really do die for love. This girl doesn't even know she's just a mere chess piece between two chess masters. But she shook her head.

'A pawn doesn't need to know the thoughts of their masters.'

Right now, Tara was an excellent pawn to her. She wasn't entirely worried about Cain, she had contingencies in place so it was all good.

Her expression became warmer as she looked at Tara, "You've done well Tara." She flicked the white coin in her palm towards Tara's direction which she caught. "You can have that, take it as a gift from me to you for doing a wonderful job. I do hope that you and Cain will be happy."

She nearly let out a laugh when she said that but held herself.

Tara didn't seem to notice anything, her attention was on the white coin with gold symbols. Her brows were creased, she kept trying to remember the name of the coin. It was in the tip of her tongue but somehow the word just couldn't escape her lips.

Ellen noticed her slight odd behaviour and chuckled lightly, "What? Never seen a white Zulle before?"

Like an electric bolt, Tara's mind was jolted. This was a white zulle and Ellen just spoke about it like it was some worthless object.

Zulles were the official currency of the Varmon Empire. They were divided into five in descending order — White, Black, Yellow and Red. Although there was a coin just before the red which was bronze colored and was mostly used by the commoners.

Among the major currencies, the red and yellow zulles were more common, the black was rare and the white was extremely rare, only used by the nobles or the wealthy merchants.

One red zulle was worth a hundred bronze zulles and could satisfy a small village family for an entire year. A yellow zulle was worth ten red zulles and could last a village family for ten years. A black zulle was worth hundred red zulles and a white zulle was worth two thousand red zulles.

One could see just how precious a white zulle was. Just one of those could last a family for generations. So Tara's reaction to such sudden wealth was out of her expectations. Although she knew that she was running errands for Ellen, she couldn't help but feel warm in her heart.

With shaky hands, she carefully stored the coin in her storage ring and then looked at Tara warmly,

"Thank you so much your highness, I'll make sure to repay this favour if I can."

Ellen had a beautiful smile on her face however she sneered inwardly, such a pitiful creature. Nevertheless, she was content. Tara's delusion wasn't her problem, she was just an object to be discarded.

"It's alright, I've taken a liking to you and I love what you've achieved so far." Ellen stood up and approached her as she put her hand on her shoulders. "I have high hopes for you, and since you've fallen in love with Cain, I can only wish you happiness. But I hope you still keep our deal in mind, you can consider me a friend."

Tara was filled with emotions, she didn't know what she did to deserve such treatment from a noble like Ellen. She already placed Ellen just after Cain and her father in people she cherished the most.

"I'll make sure not to disappoint you, your highness, thank you once again," her voice trembled a bit but she managed to string the words together.

Ellen just smiled sweetly after hearing that, "It's no problem...alright, you can leave now. I have some things to attend to. Take good care of yourself my friend."

Tara nodded as she looked at Ellen one last time before she left.

Meanwhile Ellen's smile only widened, the only difference being, it wasn't a sweet looking smile. It was eerie and sinister, even her eyes became crescent-like as she just stood there and began humming.

***

The days went by, the atmosphere in the airship was as usual. Nothing too special happened as everyone went on their business.

Cain felt refreshed, Tara was stalking him no more. Although she still sneaked a little, it wasn't like before where she wantonly stalked him without a care in the world.

He was busy reading on magic books as usual. He was always so engrossed in them, sometimes he could stay that way for almost the whole day without even knowing. It was just too interesting for him.

But all of a sudden, the voice of a male boomed throughout the entire airship, snapping him out of his concentration.

[Dear passengers, your air controller speaking. I hope you all have had a pleasant journey and an exciting experience. I'm pleased to announce that we have arrived at the Croye empire. Do not forget to leave a kind review and good rating for yours truly. I wish you all success in your battles as you bring glory to the empire.]

The announcement ended and Cain slowly closed the book and stood up. He stretched a little and began to make his way towards the living room. But his mind was filled with battle. He wanted to fight, he wanted to test himself. His body felt his battle intent and was roaring to go.

He felt like a caged beast waiting to be unleashed. Unknowingly to him, his aura became wild and savage as he kept walking. His body was excited, his blood pumped furiously. But despite all this, his expression was calm and unfeeling. His face betraying the thoughts he had and the aura he was unleashing.

Nevertheless, it was time for a good battle. He truly hoped that he wouldn't be disappointed. He wanted to fight to his heart's content and revel in it.

Tap Tap Tap

In the quiet hallway his slow footsteps echoed, his hands behind his back. His head held high. His whole being exuding the confidence of a lion. Slowly, his lips curled into a smirk.

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