Trisha rested on her hands and knees. A bead of sweat rolled to the tip of her nose, falling to the wooden floorboards. Her arms and the palms of her hands throbbed as she panted. Reaching for the two curved knives on the smooth floor, Trisha rose, widening her stance.
" You need to maintain focus. You wield the affinity of wind like a drunken sailor drives a cart." Said Noah, leaning on the smooth wooden wall of the church training room and smiling at her.
" Why isn't the bishop training me to fight? I thought I was her apprentice." Asked Trisha, her frustration boiling over welling at her repeated failure to land a single blow to lord Noah.
Lord Noah cocked his head, leaning casually on his wooden sword. The man wiped sweat from his brow and frowned at her.
" You cannot contend with me yet much less her ladyship the Bishop. I am a priest of the church and through decades of fighting I have reached mastery of close combat and my magic. The bishop, however, has far surpassed me. She is a grand master mage, a mere apprentice like you would merely waste the bishop's time. As you are now, you do not stand a chance of defeating me in a straight on fight both with or without the use of mana. It would be a waste of her time to train a weakling like you." Said Noah, scorn rising in the man's voice as he ran his hand through his greying hair. The front door creaked as the tall, athletic form of the bishop strode gracefully into the room.
"That is enough, Noah! I have accepted her as my apprentice and as such it is my duty to train her to use her power." Said the Bishop sternly.
"But my lady, I can just as easily train her. You do not need to waste your time on someone with such a vile affinity." Said Lord Noah, his disdain bleeding through.
" I know your feelings and acknowledge your concerns. That is why both you and I will train her until she breaks and dies or masters her powers." Said the Bishop. Until that moment, Trisha didn't realize just how much trouble she was in.
" What do you mean, milady? " Asked Trisha, dreading the answer.
" Your power is dangerous. If unchecked, it will grow on its own and seek to influence everyone around you. This can break your mind and worst of all attract the attention of the queen's guard or a demon." said the Bishop.
Trisha took a step back at the ominous words. She could run, of course, but where would she run? The bishop was one of the most influential and powerful people in the kingdom. Not to mention now someone knew she possessed the curse known as mind magic. She could never rest again if she ran away.
" Are you saying that if I don't learn to control my power, it could drive me mad?" asked Trisha, fear welling in her chest. Trisha glanced around the personal training quarter of the bishop. Other than Trisha the bishop and Noah, no one else had visited the room during their training.
" That is very possible. Mind mana is not evil, as the kingdom wants you to believe. There is a problem, however, most mages do not reach mastery, much less the rank of grand master. Such skill and control over one's own mind requires a self discipline most lack." said the Bishop pausing momentarily.
" I will be honest, the only way I can think of to prepare you for the strain is to subject you to your biggest threat and see if you can overcome them." said the bishop. Noah's look of shock and concern took Trisha aback.
" What do you mean?" asked Trisha, swallowing hard.
" You will see. Come, Noah please accompany us." orders the bishop. The Bishop wore two long curved daggers at her hips, held by an embossed black belt lined with silver embroidery. Each of the weapons seemed utterly normal and stood out against the bishop's white robe like a Darva in the capitol.
More confused than ever, Trisha followed the Bishop with Noah trailing her from behind. It was as though Noah was keeping her from running away. Judging by his apologetic look, she would not enjoy this test. Trisha enter the Bishop's dining room and towards a completely blank unimportant wall.
Reaching out with one callused hand, the bishop touched the stone wall. The wall flickered and swirled, one moment appearing as stone and the next a smooth metal door lined with nearly two dozen runes. It was like when Trisha was deceived by the Bishop's illusion on the stairs, only this time Trisha could not even sense the deception no matter how much she tried. Trisha was taken aback as without even a trace of power. The door in front of the Bishop shimmered like a pool hit by a stone. Each rune flashed in succession in a complex, swirling pattern.
Trishas jaw dropped, as twenty runes activated at once? Her mind rebelled at the thought of such a monster. The Bishop could not be human, could she? Trisha could channel perhaps five runes, and even with that power she could turn a small home to rubble. If her studies were correct, then a spell powered by twenty runes would be two thousand percent more powerful than a single rune. The thought was sobering as the large doors shimmered. The Bishop walked right through the metal as though it wasn't even there anymore. Heart racing, Trisha strode forwards and stepped into a well lit chamber.
Trisha squinted, her eyes adjusting as she glanced around curiously at the bookshelves lining the left wall and then to the secondary metal door at the back. She followed the Bishop in silence as the woman passed all the books and taking a key from around her neck; the bishop opened the solid, smooth metal door. Trishas hair rose on her neck as the odd wall she had entered solidified, turning back to a steel wall. The door inside the cathedral's vault clicked with a heavy clunk and groaned as the bishop strained to heave it open.
" What is the point of a vault within a vault?" asked Trisha.
" It might seem excessive, but trust me its worth the hassle." said the Bishop.
Trisha entered behind the bishop and to her ever-growing discomfort the Bishop locked the heavy metal door behind them, leaving Trisha, Noah and the Bishop in a small room lined with shelves helpfully labeled.
On her right, labeled with a wooden plaque, was a single word. Minor, followed by medium and major. The final shelf, which was completely empty and all on its own, was helpfully labeled dread.
" What do the signs mean? And what are those metal cases for?" asked Trisha. Underneath the placard with the label minor was perhaps one hundred cases, varying from new on the top left to dusty and scuffed on the bottom right.
The Bishop strolled over to the section marked minor and removed a familiar smooth metal box lined with shimmering runes on its surface. The Bishop grinned at her and walked to Trisha, the box flashing and with a click of the box it opened.
Trisha swallowed hard and peered into the box, her head swimming with confusion. Trisha swallowed, trying to generate enough moisture to wet her now dry throat. .
" Is that what I think it is?" asked Trisha wearily unwilling to reach out and grasp the beautiful time piece laying on the soft fabric.
" Yes, this is the demon you captured. This will be your first challenge. Place the time piece around your wrist and then take it off." said the Bishop grinning a malicious smile. Trisha stumbled back shaking her head and raising her hands defensively..
" Why can't I just hold the timepiece in my hand?" asked Trisha.
" That works as well, but it will take much longer for the demon. If you accept the gift of the timepiece, you are in turn accepting the demon." Reply the Bishop.
" That sounds dangerous, won't the demon take control of my mind?" asked Trisha, shuddering at the thought.
" The demon will try to take control. It is your job to learn to fight the demon and keep control. This is your only chance to progress fast enough. You are all ready to powerful to go unnoticed for much longer." said the Bishop, her gaze hardening.
Her hands shaking, Trisha reached into the case, picking up the beautiful timepiece.
She felt an extremely irrational urge to put on the malicious item. Trisha knew she shouldn't but the Bishop's stern glare kept her protests silent.
She was once again impressed that someone had made a time piece with three hands. One hand for the hour, one for the minute, and even one for the seconds of the day. Not to mention all the tiny gears that could be seen turning underneath the clear glass on the top. Trisha breathed deeply and bracing herself clasped the leather thongs securing the gold and silver time piece around her left wrist.
She tensed, listening and waiting for something. Other than the sweat rolling down her neck and her racing heart, Trisha felt absolutely nothing. Before, when she had been delivering the time piece she had felt something right? But now she felt as though it was a regular, extremely expensive time piece.
" Well, anything happen?" asked Lord Noah.
" No, not that I can tell. Are you sure you grabbed the right time piece?" asked Trisha furrowing her brow. Trisha walked around for a few minutes, stretching and trying to decide if anything was different.
" Maybe now that you are prepared and hail the demon can't break through your mental defence." Mused the Bishop.
" You might be right, we needed to fight the thugs inside the pleasure house before we left." said Trisha.
" Lord Noah, will you do the honours? Just fight with your daggers for now, Trisha no wind magic, remember to keep the demon out." said the Bishop. Lord Noah grinned and drew his sword, ever ready to fight. Trisha swallowed, raising her daggers, widening her stance, and bracing for the coming punishment.