Feb 22, 2022
12 mins read
There were many stories about the Dark Witch.
Her fame of vigilantism and justice against the corrupted inspired merchandises (and a band). The people of Curtis, bored with their daily lives, spread the tale of the heroine of the night, the genius wielding various artifacts, and three colors of Mana to combat the corruption of Hecate. Nobles and commoners, even those from other states, came to idolize her.
The Dark witch was an icon.
But like most idols, the Dark Witch was the product of her time. Curtis’s eventual transformation into the Advance Research Empire, Intelligentsia, saw the heroine vanished from history.
Few could connect this once popular fad with one of the Unity Lord’s wives — the Sorceress of Athenaeum. Yes, the Sorceress was the master of artifacts, strategist of nigh unmatched analytical skill and Tricolor mage of such caliber she was only beaten by the best of each field. However, what threw people off was their personality.
The Sorceress of Athenaeum wasn’t hated. In fact, she was the fun big sister. However, the consensus outside the Unity Lord’s circle agreed the bitch was a scheming ball of violence, barely delayed by the cooling saucer called Princess of White. In moments of honesty, the various consorts in the harem admitted that their ‘seduction’ and ‘downfall’ via Unity Lord were the design of this big sister to ‘expand the family.’
It was the tale of the heroine turned magnificent bitch. You either died a hero or lived long enough to be a villain.
But how do you seduce a villain if not for the art of ploy?
The fall of the Dark Witch began that day.
Amy was in a [Training Room], watching the regular sparring match between Xia and Ciel.
As a function of the Residence, the [Training Room] weren’t the flashiest. Compared to the resource generation of [Garden], the power of [Hall] and the utility of [Treasury] in storing, transporting, and withdrawing material, this empty room of white walls and floors was downright bland. But the recent addition to the fellowship finally gave this room a regular used.
Ciel dodged a kicked from Xia, and barely reacted to the speed which she closed the gap. He raised his elbow to block a palm-strike infused with Aura. Their Aura crashed in the explosion of pressure, rocking the room and sending Ciel sliding back.
Xia leapt forward, attempting to take Ciel’s neck with a flying kick, but got her leg caught in a grab which flipped her away. She landed on her feet and boosted forward to finish the fight with an Aura clad punch, amplified by White Mana.
Ciel responded with his own punch, reinforced in a similar White Mana.
White Magic Rank 2: Strengthen
The two punches slid past each other. Glints appeared in the two sparring partners’ eyes. [Calculative] and [Strategist] both operated at their highest gears to map the path to win the cross-counter. Both Ciel and Xia lifted their free hand to simultaneously blocked the other’s fist.
The result was clear when Ciel flew across the floor.
“Not bad,” the victorious Xia wrung her sore hand. “Your Aura distribution and hand-to-hand combat skill is improving, but your White Magic is still rough. That Strengthen could be a lot better, but I think you are getting the hang on [White Allegiance].” She smiled at Ciel. “I can’t believe you actually give me an interesting fight within such a short time.”
[White Allegiance] was the skill Ciel gained through his contract with Xia. It gave Ciel an ability to command White Mana. The skill could be said to be a lesser version of [White Blessing] used by Xia. Unlike Xia who possessed resistance against White, Red and Black Magic, Ciel only resisted White, in exchange for the ability to enhance the White Magic of his allies.
“I am still far from you, to be honest,” Ciel said deprecatingly.
Xia wanted to bash her face against the wall, “Ciel, hubby dear, I should be worried if you can beat me. You are a non-fighter a month ago, and you just learn both White Magic and Aura within a mere month.” Xia’s lip twitched. “I am considered a genius, and I took me two years to reach the level you are at. It took me another year to learn Bind and solidified my combat foundation at twelve. It took me half a year to throw my first Smite, and only after constant practices worth seven years in total did I get to the point before I met you. Dear, right now you could take out an average soldier in Curtis without problem, and I can guarantee you can fill as Captain in Curtis army with your annoying battle prowess. ”
Amy had a feeling that her ‘sister’ was dying inside at the thought of comparing her progress to Ciel. He was improving at a fascinating rate. When he first started, Ciel lost within a second. Soon, seconds turned into a minute and a minute turned into the current length of ten.
“I recommend you never show what you are capable of to Betty,” Xia’s face twitched. “I am nowhere near her in jealousy, but I still want to punch you a bit. I don’t think Betty will be satisfied with a punch.” Xia cracked her knuckle. “In fact, let do quick Heal and spar again until you cannot move anymore.”
Amy promptly intervened, “We can’t. It is lunchtime.”
The lunch was held inside Amy’s cottage. Ciel and Xia promptly changed from their sparring clothes to enjoy the Bolognese spaghetti with Caislean and Amy. After a month together, this meal times had turned into something of a family ritual.
“So, where do we go next?” Caislean, the black hair, black heart secretary with golden eyes, opted to go with her cotton sweater and baggy trouser today. “Our fund is secured, and we got boss lady, right here.” Caislean nodded toward Xia, who busily chowed down her spaghetti. “What is our take after this?”
As usual, Ciel had a direction, “Curtis will be escalating thing with us sooner or later. I doubt Spade La Louve will be a threat, but Etaceh is a problem.”
Etaceh, at this name, everyone automatically paused.
As a Lord of Mechanical Magic, Etaceh possessed the authority to rule over artifact and Mana. Her knowledge of engineering was unnatural. In terms of raw research intellect, she was among the top of the Lord. Besides that, she could assimilate artifact with virtually no limit and command them like limbs.
Worst was her combat ability. Her assimilation extended to Magic knowledge, and with it, the potential to use all the five colors of Mana in a parasitic manner.
Mana and Aura had an upper limit. Aura was akin to a fighting-spirit. It possessed a certain quantity that could rise with practice, but the user still had to manage it like limited resources. Meanwhile, Mana existed as a separate force mages could call upon with no limit at the cost of their stamina. Unmitigated usage of both would leave the user exhausted.
Etaceh was the sole exception to this rule. Ciel believed she could chain Mana to her will with no repercussion.
“Because my sister crowned the puppet on the throne, we can assume the entire capital is assimilated,” Xia growled. “If dear is correct, the entire Hecate is under surveillance. We are caught the moment we step foot in the capital.”
“So how do we beat someone whose move in mystery without the ability to analyses her?” Caislean said. “Unless we can investigate what she plans in the capital, we don’t even have the beginning to a solution.”
“First, we need Betty,” Ciel answered Caislean. “Etaceh won’t suspect her, and the capital is her home court.”
“One question,” Amy said. “How can we bring Betty here?” she looked around at her fellow ‘sisters.’ “Let be honest here, we are trustworthy because we are pretty much married to Ciel out of either friendship or love. How do we get that from Betty?”
Xia, being Betty’s blood-related sister, was the best person to answer, “Normally, you don’t have a chance. Nobody does.” Xia spoke of her sister with grudging respect. “She knows every seduction trick in the book, because she is afraid of the very scheme we are planning. Whatever we can try, she already beat it. You can’t win with a gift, because she can probably get a better one herself. She won’t come to you because you are a nobody. If you are somebody, she will be wary of you.” Xia bristled. “Try to win her with talent? She will probably get an inferiority complex and shove you down a river. Use a grand romantic gesture? She will accept that, friend-zone you, and introduce you to a nicer girl with lower management to throw you off.”
Caislean quaked in her boot, “If she knows every trick, how do we seduce her? Much less doing it without stepping into the capital!”
“You said ‘normally’,” Amy said. “You mean this time is different?”
To display how far Xia came (fell), she gleefully sold her own little sister to the harem, “Yes, you get what other people don’t have. Me.” Xia began voicing out Betty’s weakness. “No one else got close enough to know this, but Betty is like Carolina Westerna. She wants to sell the V-card and settles down with a nice man, but her ambition gets in the way.” Xia giggled. “Both Carolina and Betty hate each other because they are kindred spirits. They have this image to protect. Carolina is addicted to her reputation, and Betty can’t surrender that super competent princess image. Their suitors fall for the illusion and miss the weak points they hid under seven layers of earth.”
“You have a method, right, big sis,” Caislean was excited.
“I feel this conversation is morally wrong,” Ciel pointed out.
Amy nodded In agreement, but the mastermind continued carting her closest relatives to the wolves.
“The best way to seduce Betty is to exploit her pragmatism and jealousy,” Xia spoke she had been dreaming this for days (she had). “She hates admitting her limitations, but she will rationalize it in dire circumstance. That emotional imbalance is the best method to crack her armor. Here is my plan…”
A few days later Elizabeth La Louve, Betty, was doing a charity work in an orphanage at the edge of outer-ring of Hecate, utterly oblivious that her older sister’s plot to marry her into a harem.
“Lady Elizabeth,” a man in a suit, a necktie, and various medals approached. “I want to ask you to a dinner.”
“Thank you, Marquis,” Betty smiled at the handsome man. “But I am busy tonight,” Betty instead grabbed a bashful woman who was talking to the children. “Marissa, I believe you are free tonight, right?”
“Y-Yes,” Marissa nodded.
“Excellent,” Betty beamed and dragged Marissa to the Marquis. “It will be a shame if your dinner goes to waste, why don’t you take Marissa here?”
The Marquis never expected this, “But I want to inv—”
Betty whispered in his ear, pouring acid on his resolve, “Marquis Tell, Marissa here is a niece of General Glenn. I believe her uncle can help expand your up-and-coming business,” Betty unloaded more ammo. “It will be ashamed if someone else snacks her up. She is lovely, teeny bit bashful, and an exceptional conversationalist, plus it is quite hard to get her to come out often. Few nobles knew her, but I dread the competition once she officially hit the ballroom. Don’t you think it will be easier for everyone if you take this opportunity?”
The Marquis caved and bashfully approached the shy girl. It turned out they went together as well as Betty calculated.
“Betty, look!” A kid walked over with a crayon picture of him holding hands with the princess. “I draw this!”
“How cute?” Betty was all smiles, patting the innocent kid in the head. “This is Impressive!”
The boy beamed.
The gaggle of girls alive.
“Betty, please teach how to write runes,” said girl one.
“Yes, we want to be as cool as you,” said girl two with pigtail.
“Can we be as smart as the Dark Witch, Betty!” said a starry eye girl three.
Betty was jubilant at the adoration, “Aww, of course you can,” she patted girl three. “But I am currently busy, so I will have all the material prepared next week.”
“Thank you, Betty!”
“No problem, girls,” Betty said with a wide smile.
Another man arrived at an orphanage, walking in with a flower bouquet.
“Princess Elizabeth,” the bouquet man flashed her the flowers. “This is the symbol of my devotion.”
“Aww,” Betty accepted the flower and presented the man a stone. “You are too kind, Sirius. I see the post I recommend work out. Here is my handcraft rune, take it as the symbol of my friendship.”
The man joyfully nodded, fully tricked by the illusion his effort was bearing fruit.
“Princess,” Betty’s secretary ran over like she went through a marathon.
“Oh, Sandra, what bring you here?” Betty greeted her secretary. “I heard General Rochester finally proposed to you, congratulation!” Betty playfully nudged the secretary (and once human shield). “Come on. Thank me for introducing him. I know you want to.”
“This is not a time,” the secretary yelled. “Unity was spreading rumors with it the latest batch of premium cookies.”
Betty’s eyes widened.
Unity cookies who had swept the capital by storm unleashed the Haiku which cause the monsoon. Rumor said the mysterious cottage co-owner would appear at a location pointed in the poem and gifted the first person who found her a new premium pastry.
‘New treat, come to me
While grudge and death divide us
We still share the sea’