Chapter 2

The Absolute Trinity

The two Underground Palace residents had spent the last three days avoiding each other. They could not rely on one another, especially after their last conversation, which had shed light on many unresolved issues and hidden secrets. It was tough on the both of them, for very different reasons.

 

The Elder Sage’s deepest fear had come to life in front of his eyes.

 

Since then, he had spent most of his time coming to term with it, meditating on his life choices. At the moment, a never-ending battle inside his head was taking place. He had to choose between his duty and his personal feelings towards this former apprentice, whom he had come to see as a son.  

 

The Master of All Magic still had trouble shaking off the feeling of betrayal.

 

He had always accepted his responsibilities, lied, protected, stolen, and even killed under the Elder Sage’s guidance, under the promise of what his heart truly desired. The practice of esoteric Magic gave him a sense of purpose and harmony. But, through no fault of his own and for a choice that he did not make, he had been refused the most arcane of Magic by the Elder Sage.

Saturday, September 1st 2063
Underground Palace

The Master of All Magic found in manual labor a most effective tool to divert his attention from more serious matters. He did not find peace nor chaos in it, merely letting his mind rest. Seated in front of a workbench surrounded by numerous machines, he was currently facing a short but simple blade made out of silver.

 

With a chisel in his left hand and a hammer in the other, the Master of All Magic slowly but surely carved delicate letters near the guard of the weapon. The letters soon formed a sentence. While other enchanters usually carved symbols, sentences had always been the Master of All Magic’s personal touch and signature. 

Absolute Zero, bringer of the eternal frost.”

Carving was the first of two steps in weapon enchanting, requiring knowledge of materials and countless hours of practice. Training, studying, and experimenting, applied to hundreds of blades made the Master of All Magic’s skill in carving good enough to be considered amongst the few masters of the craft.

 

However, the carving job of this silver blade was not really up to his standards. 

      (Not my finest work, but it’ll have to do.)

His mind wandered to what to do next while tidying up his workspace. His own chamber was the obvious choice to let his Ether run wild inside the weapon. Such a delicate matter could not be undertaken elsewhere but the most private of places.

 

Only once the short blade was protected with thick tape did the Master of All Master leave the workshop. As soon as he entered the corridor, a known figure entered his line of sight. Silence reigned for almost agonizing seconds before the Elder Sage’s eyes fell onto the taped weapon. His eyes sparkled with excitement. 

     Are you enchanting?

      Yes.

     Can I…?

      You can watch if you shut up and let me concentrate.

      I… I can do that.

They soon found themselves in the Visitor’s Wing, the location of the Master of All Magic’s personal chamber.

 

With a wave of his hand, the door in front of the Master of All Magic opened to a very traditional, yet small Japanese-styled room. The beige mats on the ground were soft to the knees, allowing for traditional seating positions. The lighting was artificial and its warmer tones very subtle. This room was nothing if not functional, with simple furnishings. It just included a bed, a table, storage units hidden behind a panel, and a wide GLASS Entertainment System.

 

With his free hand, the Master of All Magic invited the Elder Sage inside. The older man made sure to show his appreciation before stepping into the chamber. He was not well versed in enchanting, so these experiences were rare and always memorable to him. This opportunity even prevented him from allowing his tea addiction to run rampant for a while.

 

After getting rid of the white tape, the Master of All Magic sat on his knees facing his master. He held the now bare blade in his open palms, carefully breathing to slow his heartbeat. The final step of his preparation was to fully close his eyes. 

       This is very dangerous. It could go very wrong, so don’t interrupt me, under any circumstances.

With his warning being taken care of, the Master of All Magic focused on his inner self. Control over the Ether within his body reached higher peaks in this meditative state. In the blink of an eye, a light blue aura appeared all around his body, continuously growing in intensity.

 

The temperature in the room dropped at a rapid pace. The Elder Sage’s entire body shivered because of the sudden change in atmosphere, but his face remained still. After all, he had seen his fair share of situations in which Ether had gone berserk.

 

The light blue Ether then flowed away from the enchanter’s body and condensed itself around the weapon. One by one, the carved letters slowly undertook a light blue color, until the full sentence was glowing. The enchantment had successfully taken hold.

 

The Master of All Magic’s eyes snapped open as he was hit by an enormous headache.

 

In the enchanting field, headaches were common occurrences. The knowledge, concentration, and mental discipline required for enchanting the mightiest of spells were insanely hard to reach. More sophisticated enchantments simply meant stronger headaches and other forms of physical backlash.

 

There were only five enchanters on the planet capable of imbuing weapons with the highest tier of Magic. The Master of All Magic was one, renowned to the others for the variety of his creations, but lacking in every other possible way. The remaining enchanters had dedicated their lives to the craft of magical weapons.

 

But despite all the Master of All Magic’s years of training and experience, these backlashes were not something he could simply endure. He let go of the newly enchanted blade before staggering backward and falling unconscious.

 

When he regained consciousness, a strong smell of cherry assaulted his nose. In addition, he was surprised by how diminished his headache was. He then realized that he had collapsed for quite some time. He had questions to ask his former master, whose presence he could still feel around. 

       How long?

The Elder Sage’s eyebrow rose while he sipped from his teacup.

      I’d say an hour? More or less, I suppose. I made some tea. Want some?

      Did you cast any Magic on me?

      I think the words you’re looking for are “thank you”. By the way, something vibrated in your pockets a couple of minutes ago. 

The Master of All Magic silently nodded his approval before sitting up straight. He immediately took out his GLASS, which he had calibrated to only alert him in cases of emergency.

 

His pseudonym was currently being used hundreds of thousands of times online. It took him a couple of minutes before he was able to pinpoint the source of this grave disturbance. The Master of All Magic then used the portable device to power on the GLASS Entertainment System and switched onto M1. 

      “Stay tuned on M1, your source for Magic news. In a few minutes, we make history with a never-before-seen live interview of the World Eater!”

The Master of All Magic’s sigh soon turned into a slight chuckle.

 

The Elder Sage, who had always been more or less up to speed on his former apprentice’s situation, was still surprised by this development. The Master of All Magic’s calmness about this development left him puzzled. 

      Shouldn’t you try to stop this?

      He knows nothing of value. Besides, this is great entertainment, isn’t it?  

      What do you mean?

       There will be nothing to bury after she’s done with him. 

Separator

M1 Livestreaming Studio

The lead director was deciding on the final programming for the floating cameras alongside his engineers and assistants. Around them, the set had been prepared and equipped with screens and a truss full of lighting. In the middle of the room stood two comfortable chairs, for both the interviewer and his guest.

 

When the World Eater and the show host entered the studio, they gathered everyone else’s attention. The World Eater had made a particular effort today to choose relaxing but fashionable clothes. He was wearing a dark shirt, tight jeans, with black sneakers. A pair of golden earrings perfectly matched his short and blond hair. On the other hand, the show host wore a professional three-piece suit. Fresh from the make-up artist’s chair, they had also been set up with tiny lavalier wireless microphones.

 

Once the lead director was satisfied with the last-minute changes, a message reached his earpiece. They would be live in a few seconds, which he used to yell his final directions. They all reached their dedicated seat and nodded at the final order of silence before the countdown reached zero. 

       You’re live!

The show host immediately slipped into his role and looked at the floating camera.

       Welcome everyone, you’re watching M1, your source for Magic news. You’re going to love what we have in store for you all today!

He then transitioned to face the World Eater, while the background screens shifted to display various information and pictures about the magician.

      Here with us today is the amazing World Eater! We’re beyond lucky to have you here with us. How are you tonight?  

      I feel great! I have to say, you people do know how to entertain. I’m going to remember that lovely time in the green room for a while!

Faithful to himself, the World Eater liked to tease his targets. Right now, he was hoping to catch the show host off guard with allegations as to how the M1 Group had secured this interview. All the World Eater’s demands, even the most outlandish, had been accepted in order to secure his presence tonight in the studio.

 

However, the presenter had no intention of letting this affect his professionalism. Instead, he kept his long-practice smile and shifted the focus. 

      Why don’t you introduce yourself and the Absolute Trinity?

      Sure. I am the World Eater, a Country-Class magician for hire. For a suitable price, you can give me a target to eliminate or protect, with a few restrictions here and there. The Archbishop, the Master of All Magic, and I gather once a year to discuss geopolitical issues related to Magic. 

These Absolute Trinity meetings, by nature, were highly confidential. Information about them was are rare as hen’s teeth. That was precisely why M1’s executives had decided for their focus to be on the individuals themselves, rather than the group. Furthermore, their target audience loved gossip, especially about them.

 

Nonetheless, the show host found it wise to start small. 

      We’re all dying to know what does your usual day of work look like?

     Well… I’m not going to lie, it’s mostly physical and magical training. I also keep myself informed on matters of warfare and magical intelligence. Lately, I’ve been training my spearmanship like a madman. That’s the ace I’ve developed over the last few years. I can finally announce it is battlefield-ready. I have finally gotten myself a specialty and therefore no longer am a jack of all trades.  

The World Eater’s sharp tactical mind and athletic abilities had been of interest for the army from his early teenage years. It was only after his recruitment that he discovered his affinity and talent for casting Magic. A couple of years of diligent training ensued, making him a force to be reckoned with on a national scale.  

 

Two years ago, the blonde did not renew his contract with the army because of diverging opinions about its leadership. Instead, he offered his abilities to the highest bidders. But the World Eater was more than a simple mercenary. He only worked under a few conditions, making him the most exclusive magician for hire in the business.

 

Of course, his total loyalty to Japan remained an unwavering force. Any jobs that endangered Japanese citizens were swiftly refused. In addition, he would do the job he was hired to the best of his abilities but nothing more. His specialty had never been suicidal missions and a signature on a contract did not change that fact. The World Eater valued his life over his pride after all. 

      Survive to live another day, right?

     Hasn’t anyone tried to take… issues with that?  

The World Eater’s mouth twitched in disdain. For a short moment, memories of past events moved to the forefront of his mind, a fist forming out of his right hand. The blonde’s tone was now cold and deadly.

       Some tried to label me a coward. Some argued that I am without honor. Screw them. There is no honor in death, just the knowledge that you have failed those who believed in you. Dying is giving up and therefore not a service I offer to my customers.

The World Eater let his emotions take over for a moment. An aura of power emanated from his body, freezing everyone else in the room.

 

The show host felt trapped. Even with all his willpower, his body was simply not responding. Fortunately, the lead director forced himself to manually trigger an advertising break. With deep breathing, the World Eater was finally able to calm himself.

 

Everyone in the studio relaxed. The World Eater’s outburst had finally been subdued.

 

This initiative came from an experienced director, who had decided that letting both his crew and the World Eater calm down was paramount for tonight’s success.

 

This interview was a one-in-a-million opportunity, and he would not let it go to waste. Strategically, the lead director knew extracting secrets from such a hardened veteran was a tall order. The least he could do was provide a calm environment for his show host to perform.

 

Meanwhile, the World Eater was silently sipping some high-end tequila.

 

These few minutes of break were a godsend to many inside the M1 Studio. Behind the crew, all the executives cracked a smile and shook hands after taking a peek at the audience report. It was overwhelmingly in their favor. Everyone had tuned in to M1 to witness history. This was shaping up to be M1’s historical success.

 

The executives’ enthusiasm spread like wildfire to the lead director and his crew. In their mind, happy executives meant promotions, bonuses, and pay raises. After a while, everyone was operational once again at their workstations.

 

The advertising break soon came to an end.

 

Like a puppet master, the host immediately took back control of his show. 

       Welcome back everyone! We apologize for such an inopportune break. The World Eater’s aura is no joke after all. I pity those who have made enemies of him.

Following his words, the background screen shifted to a stylized portrait of a blonde woman in ecclesiastic white and blue attire.

       Now, let’s dive right into our next subject. I know of many, including me, who would like details and your opinion about the Archbishop. Would you care to enlighten us?

       The Archbishop is your average, cute girl next door with lots of responsibilities. Ironically, she packs a mean punch for someone so focused on peacekeeping.

       Looks like you have an interesting story to share. Out with it, we all want to know!

The blonde harbored a cheeky smile. He had always appreciated people with a developed sense of humor. He was of the opinion that the world was a grim place that could make use of a few more laughs. So, he decided to engage in this war of words and behavior to test his host.

       Should I? I wouldn’t want to be in trouble, you know…

       You can’t share anything? How disappointing.

       Nah. I’m just messing with you. 

The World Eater relaxed in his chair and started playing with his hair.

     During one of the Holy Light Church’s fancy parties, I ended up… mingling with one of the high priestesses. I was privy to some embarrassing stories about the Archbishop. There was no way she was such a perfect poster girl.

      What exactly did you find?

     A few years ago, some stupid idiots tried to badmouth the Holy Light Church to her face. At the time, she hadn’t tamed that fiery behavior of hers. She had also received training with the best sword teachers there are.

      She snapped, didn’t she?

      Oh yes. Oh yes, she snapped indeed. I think I will spare all of you the details.

The Archbishop’s perfect public image had been a thorn in the side of every news outlet for years, but not anymore.

 

The show host, lead director, and all the executives were more than elated. They were all currently thinking about how this was what they should strive for: national-scale scoops. Their excitement had no limit as they all knew this was only their first discovery of the night.

 

The World Eater seemed to notice everyone’s reaction but still kept on going. 

       Just never ever openly threaten or badmouth the Holy Light Church. I have on high authority, mine that is, that advice and constructive criticism is fine. She’s a pretty nice gal overall. Just remember a boot in the face still hurts.

The show host nodded, still feeling a high sense of accomplishment. This topic had run dry, which led him to ask about a completely different matter. They were on a tight schedule after all.

       Rumors have spread about the Archbishop’s governance of the Holy Light Church. What do you know about her future plans?

       She wants to shift the church’s self-interest towards humanitarianism. Basically, the Holy Light Church would shed the safeguarding of its political power for helping those in need. That’s one hell of a good change if you ask me. 

Even though he was not supposed to remain unbiased, the show host could not help but nod his approval.

       She has been making headlines after headlines with her traveling schedule. Is her presence abroad focused on this strategy?

       No idea. You’d better ask her. I know she has an agreement with the Foreign Affairs Bureau. Maybe that’s why? 

The show host smirked once again. The World Eater had just broken the confidential status of the link between the Archbishop and the Foreign Affairs Bureau. Now that he had tended to the interests of serious and professional news providers, he finally decided to satisfy the gossip rags.

       Pictures of you in her company are circulating online. Can you enlighten us?

       Ah… I see where this is going. She’s gorgeous, I’ll give you that. However, she is too job-focused for me. She literally does not know how to take it easy. 

       What about the pictures then?

       They were taken without our consent. We meet occasionally to use each other’s expertise: my military experience against her diplomacy skills. That’s all. 

The show host felt somehow unsatisfied with that response. But even with all his years of experience, he knew he would not reach further than this rehearsed answer.

 

Behind the camera, both the leading directors and the executives tensed up. They knew they had only gone through the easy part of the interview. Now came the hard part: a topic that had been the decider on whether or not this stunt would be worth it.

 

Everything had been engineered to make the World Eater talk about someone else.

 

This was all about the Master of All Magic.

 

It was showtime for the show host, who adjusted his suit before diving right in.

       You have another Trinity coworker, right? He’s a complete mystery to us all.

       As a matter of fact, he’s a mystery to me too. 

The show host internally sighed but pushed the deflection aside. His brain was currently working double overtime finding the most effective angle. There just had to be some interesting details and stories for him to dig. All he had to do was ease his guest into a story-telling position.

       How does it feel being in his presence?

       He doesn’t talk if he doesn’t have to. He just stands there, gazing at you like a hawk. He actively listens to everyone and never interrupts. When he talks, you just know it’s actually important. 

The World Eater himself had always been intrigued by the Master of All Magic. He just could not fathom how someone so powerful could be that enigmatic. He who relished in the attention found the man to be an anomaly. As a military man though, he was able to fully appreciate the upsides of remaining in the shadows.

 

It almost seemed like the show host was reading his thoughts. 

       Is there a true need for such secrecy?

       That’s what makes him powerful. No name, no country of origin, no age, and a face hidden behind a mask. He could be anyone. Even the secret services seemed to have stopped digging. I don’t know, maybe they have come to an arrangement?

The show host could already envision the secret services higher-ups meeting to deal with the consequences of this leak. He had no idea how the public would react to this speculation. However, he knew exactly what question the spectators had in mind.  

       You versus him, who would end up victorious on the battlefield?

       Let me make myself clear. I’m brave, but certainly not foolish. If he’s fighting for the enemy, I’m out. 

       But why?

       I’m better in hand-to-hand combat, but that’s pretty much it. He’s hoarding an absurd amount of rare Magic that I know nothing about. There’s nothing more dangerous than the unknown, nothing. And god forbid if we have to duke it out, I hope he at least attacks me head-on. 

Brutal honesty was what the World Eater went for. It took everyone in the studio off-guard. Even with his prior warning, no one here ever really assumed walking off a battlefield was a possibility. The show host felt like this was not the end of this story and therefore pushed for more.

       Does it come from first-hand experience? 

       Mock-up battles, to be precise. The first three were for me, the next seven for him. On the last four, I don’t even remember how I lost. Talk about a monster…

       We’re lucky he’s siding with us.

       Very lucky indeed.

Over the course of ten minutes, the show host clenched his teeth in frustration at regular intervals. The World Eater was not even evasive, which would have been the typical behavior in front of journalists. On the contrary, his guest continued his policy of brutal honesty. At every turn, he confessed that he simply had no information to share on the matter. 

 

Knowing that there was no salvaging this situation, the show host briefly looked at his lead director, who sadly acquiesced. The drone camera focused on the show host, who thanked the World Eater for such a wonderful time that had to come to an end. 

 

In the World Eater’s opinion, the interview was a huge success. Even so that doing it again in the near future was now in the realm of possibilities, in exchange for some good time obviously. 

Separator

M1 Livestreaming Studio

The Archbishop finally put on some casual clothes in the comfort and anonymity of her quarters. Her official attire was not much of a problem, except for all its jewellery. All day, every day, it was tiring to wear. Fortunately, she no longer needed people to help her with it. 

 

After a long work day, the shower that she had taken was a benediction. It was late, but she decided to relax on her living room couch before going to bed. Suddenly, her portable GLASS device alarmingly rang up. 

 

Friends and colleagues alike were panicking for her. The one common denominator of all these messages was M1, a magic news channel that she was keen on watching. Everyone telling her she must tune in gave her a really bad feeling. 

 

The archbishop wasted no time and turned on her Entertainment Video System. The young woman stood completely still and rigid in disbelief for the next half an hour. The replay of this emission sounded like some elaborated joke targeted at her. The World Eater had simply gone too far.

     The Archbishop is your average, cute girl next door.

She’s a pretty nice gal overall.

Just remember a boot in the face still hurts.”

She’s gorgeous, I’ll give you that. However, she is too job-focused for me”  

I know she has an agreement with the Foreign Affairs Bureau

Disbelief soon turned to anger. It kept on pilling up without stopping. The archbishop slammed her fist onto the coffee table, turning it into piles of broken wood. With an icy tone, she made a solemn vow.

       My boot, his face, I make that promise before god.  

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