Count Hart's twisted logic in raising his child succeeded in raising his bastard son Barnaby to become a stereotypical arrogant noble just like him. However, his daughter as well as successor Mia was actually someone from another world who had a completely different set of standards.
Five years old was far younger than average to be learning magic in this world. As someone from a non-magic world though, Mia was highly interested in finding out more about magic. First, she wanted to know if she had any aptitude for casting magic herself. Witnessing her father use magic for the first time to burn that merchant alive gave her the idea that she should consider training herself in this world if she wanted to survive, and overthrow her father.
Mia went to her father once again and this time succeeded in requesting to have her magic aptitude tested. Count Hart was rather surprised, as it was quite rare for Mia to speak to him of her own volition. Her care was left entirely up to a personal maid, and thanks to the maid spreading rumors, all the servants viewed Mia as a creepy child.
"That girl is always staring at you! I think she must be retarded. She doesn't seem like she knows how to laugh, cry, or show any emotion! Stay away from her, maybe she's just an evil little witch that will curse you!"
Mia knew about such rumors, but kept quiet about it. Her lack of expression was just her own way of doing her best to not reveal her thoughts. Right now, she was nothing more than a weak child, so she wanted to keep a low profile. However, she made a mental note to definitely deal with her personal maid sometime in the future.
Count Hart acquiesced to her unusual request coming from a five-year-old, and summoned for a magician from the capital who was specialized in appraisal magic. Apparently, magic in this world was split up into six main elements: fire, earth, wind, water, light, and dark, a common magical system used in many games. There were also many types of magic categorized as typeless, such as the aforementioned appraisal magic or summoning magic. That was what Mia remembered from the RPG game which had a magic school for nobles as the setting. Less than one percent of the general population had talent for magic, but nobles generally came from magic families and married with each other in order to maintain hereditary magic powers, so Mia was hopeful that she would have some magic ability in this new world. She knew that her father was a mid-ranked Fire Mage while her mother was also a mid-ranked Wind Mage during her life.
But alas, Mia's hopes were quickly dashed. The magician from the capital merely snorted at her after casting the appraisal spell, and then turned to Count Hart with a look of utter disdain on his face as he informed Mia's father that she possessed wind magic with only an E rank, the lowest level of magic power.
It seems that each type of magic had its specialties depending on the user's personality and how they apply the magic. Some water magicians reign over ice, for example, while both wind and water magicians could influence the weather. The E rank magicians in other elements were all considered more useful than wind, being able to perform mundane tasks such as farming for earth magic, or lighting fires and providing clean, fresh water for fire and water magic respectively. Light and dark magic were both rare, so it would always be prized even if it was E rank. Of course, since magic was limited to begin with, this meant that magic users would be under the country's control. The Hoplia Kingdom seemed to have a system that any magic users born with a B rank or higher class in magic must be reported to the nation and go to the capital for training – but Mia was exempted due to her low power classification.
Wind magic, so she was told, was the most useless of the E rank ones. All she would be able to do was no more than summon a light breeze. Mia would have no power to fly through the sky, control the weather, or summon fierce windstorms to batter an enemy.
Still, it was something special to Mia, an ordinary person in her past life with no magic to speak of. She surreptitiously vowed that she would train her ability and make use of it the best she could. Since magic was also partly based on imagination, Mia believed that she wouldn't be lacking in this area thanks to her accumulated experience (well, mostly ideas about magic learned from various media in her past life.) Not to mention, Mia also had insight into the game system that this world was based on.
In her past life, whenever she played video games, Mia always had a predilection for playing characters that fought from the rear. It just seemed safer and more natural to her, as in real life she certainly had no penchant for close combat. Now that she was living in this world though, she figured that perhaps she should also take up a defensive skill like swordsmanship in this medieval world that she now belonged to. After all, even spellcasters in games couldn't just spam their spells endlessly, and what was the most important and commonly used command in many RPG games? That's right, the "normal" attack. Knowing from the game's setting that this world was a dangerous one where an all-out monster invasion would occur in ten years' time from now, Mia definitely wouldn't allow herself to die again like in her previous life: powerless and helpless to defend herself. Still, she was a total beginner, and training would have to wait for the time being.
Mia was five years old now, and could read in addition to speak the Hoplian language fluently. She also finished picking up the basics of the Rodanian language, knowing that the Rodan Empire was the setting of the game and figuring that the knowledge would come in handy down the road. Although, it was only a kingdom currently, strangely enough.
In fact, Mia became something of an eerie child at Count Hart's mansion, with rumors spreading about how nobody had ever seen her smile. While Mia knew about those rumors, she considered them completely fabricated for no apparent reason. All the servants avoided her whenever possible – which she paid no mind and continued doing the things she wanted to do with zero interference, and that was just how she preferred it, anyways.
Nowadays, Mia typically spent her days in Count Hart's study. She considered his book collection a paltry one, but anything was better than nothing. He had more novels than nonfiction, and a single large bookshelf of books was all he possessed. Still, Mia devoured all the nonfiction books first: ravenously wanting to gain more knowledge about her new life. History, politics, geography, she studied them all. She figured that any servants that saw her would probably think that she was play-acting at being the part of an adult.
Of course, the topic Mia wanted to find out the most about was magic. However, when she brought it up to Count Hart, he reacted the same way as the magician from the capital: with contempt. He told her that it would be a waste of his time and money to have her trained as nothing could possibly come of it, that the topic was not up for discussion, and that she should go run off and play or something. Typical. Well, it helped him to lose his burgeoning unwelcome "interest" in his successor, so it wasn't all that bad for Mia in the end.
Fortuitously, she was able to discover a tattered book titled "Introduction to Magic." It was quite musty, seeming like it hadn't been read by anyone in forever. It didn't have any specifics on the wind element, but instead focused on the principles of magic, which was just fine for Mia.
To be honest, this book was only at the tutorial level of teaching how to use magic. Like many video game players, Mia had always preferred skipping tutorials and learning the controls on her own, but only now that magic had become possible, she felt that the foundations were important for her to begin from.
According to the book, those with innate magical ability could channel their thoughts into reality. All you had to do was visualize a fireball, for instance, and one would appear for you. But, there were still limitations depending on the environment. Spells drew from both the caster's personal mana as well as the mana in the surrounding environment, and a spell like Fireball would be created using by condensing mana with the heat in the environment. In other words, magic was unable to create something out of nothing. Again with fire magic as the example in the book, fire magic would thus be at its strongest during the summer and weakest during the winter when there was very little warmth to draw on, so fire magic would be a greater strain on the caster's own mana capabilities during the winter.
Of course, the magic's scale depended on the user's power as well, an E rank fire mage would be unable to summon anything more than a small flame. Apparently, many magicians would close their eyes or say a simple invocation like "Fireball!" in order to help them cast their spells. Generally speaking, the more powerful the spell, the more of a toll it would take on the caster's body. Well, not that there were many high-ranked magicians to begin with.
After finishing that book, Mia decided to experiment right away. Closing her eyes, she tried imagining a light breeze flowing around her just like how the capital's magician claimed it was the only thing she'd be able to do. …Nothing happened.
Well, it was too early to give up just yet. This time, she closed her eyes and visualized a breeze around her one more time, while shouting "wind, come to me!" for a lack of anything better to say.
To Mia's surprise, even though she was also anticipating it, a light breeze indeed swirled around her for a few short seconds, causing her short hair to swish slightly. To make sure it was actually her that caused this phenomenon and not some random draft, Mia repeated the process one last time.
"Wind, come to me!"
Once more, there was the feeling of cool air blowing on her skin. Barely able to contain her excitement, she almost wanted to jump up and down like a little girl. Ahem. Well, right now she was indeed a little girl.
It was currently summer. If Mia could master this ability, if nothing else, it will be useful for keeping herself cool, like a personal air conditioner.
Three months had passed since Mia began self-studying about magic. Considering how her father Count Hart reacted, she decided not to tell anyone what she was doing. Her magic training was both proceeding smoothly… and also not making much progress.
With how things currently stood, she was now able to command soft breezes without needing to close her eyes or say an invocation anymore. She was unable to progress beyond that, however, making her wonder if perhaps that visiting magician had been correct in his assessment of her abilities, that a soft breeze was her limit.
As for the scope of her power… the wind she could command was at the level where it would maybe cause a girl's skirt to flutter. Sure, she could control a large amount of it if necessary, but so far, she needed to think of some way to make it useful… Mia also tried to see how forceful she could make the wind by experimenting on inanimate objects, but she learned to her dejection that she wasn't able to budge even a wooden cup. So, basically, the wind's strength was at maximum equal to how hard she could blow…
Just as Mia expected, this ability was most useful in dealing with the weather. She was now able to keep up a constant light breeze around her at all times without feeling any significant mental fatigue. Perhaps this was because her magic was so weak that as a side effect it didn't require much mana to maintain? Mia was currently unable to check her status like in a game for any information about her own condition, but she was grateful for at least this small boon which helped insulate her from the scorching hot days of summer in Hoplia. After all, there was nothing like air conditioning here…
Speaking of status profiles however, Mia believed that the ability to see one's own status was a critical element of any game. She learned from the book that there was a common magical accessory purchasable at just about any equipment shop. Status Stones were a re-usable magical artifact for just one simple purpose: informing the user of their current status. Mia made up her mind that a Status Stone would be one of her first purchases to make when she got the chance to go outside of the mansion and explore by herself.
As for how to use her wind magic power… Mia felt that she may have to give up the idea of using it as an offensive or defensive skill of any sort. She would simply have to wait and see if her power would develop in any way as she aged...
Nonetheless, perhaps she could use wind magic in other ways, as a type of support magic. Mia knew from basic science classes that sound was carried on the air. After having that idea in mind, Mia decided to see if she could use her power for eavesdropping.
The range that she could control wind was roughly as far as she could see. Wondering if it would work indoors, Mia experimented to see if she would be able to overhear conversations even through walls and doors.
Mia headed for the dining hall, then once she arrived, she focused on imagining the kitchen area. Envisaging an air current flowing in her direction, Mia concentrated her senses.
"Sigh, that crazy Lord Hart is ordering that duck meat be served again for tonight's dinner. Just where does he think we're even supposed to get such a thing!!"
"I suppose we'll have to go out hunting and pray for good luck. If we can't provide Count Hart with duck meat, he'll have us whipped again..."
...Mia felt as if she overheard something quite awful. Well, at the very least this was a confirmation that she could use her wind magic for clandestine purposes like spying, if she felt like it.
The Hart domain was a medium-sized domain in the southwest of Hoplia. Given its size, the Hart domain should have been more prosperous than it really was - her father, Count Hart, enacted terribly high taxes alongside despotic policies. In fact, Mia knew that he resupplied his coffers whenever they ran low, which was quite often, by sending out his soldiers that were truly no better than brigands. His soldiers would use the excuse of "tax collection," which was in reality nothing more than an excuse for ransacking the Hart domain citizens' residences and stealing any wealth they could find. Mia knew this personally, because by now, she had gone on multiple "raiding" trips together with the soldiers. Mia could notice just from the oppressive atmosphere that all the citizens loathed Count Hart and his soldiers.
As someone bearing the Hart name, she was unable to stand the situation. Mia had a feeling that she was going to inherit a huge problem on her hands that she would have to clean up. To her sensibilities, it was entirely wrong, both economically and morally. If looking at it from a pragmatic point of view, smart thieves should leave something for the villagers, so that they may recover and have something actually worth taking the next time around.
Regardless of the corruption abound in the soldiers, Mia felt it was necessary for her to understand just how deep-rooted the problems were, and to see if she could make the best of a bad situation and find something useful for her, such as someone willing to give her combat training. The main problem was that even finding someone as a combat instructor seemed difficult, with the average soldier in the Hart army always lazing about, drinking and gambling rather than ever doing any military training.
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