The clock rang, striking eight o’clock in the morning.

Elizabeth La Louve, Betty, looked over the city of Hecate, witnessing the morning’s sunshine. The landscape of smokestacks, towers and glorious manufacturing blocks forming the industrial ring cast a surreal shadow in the sun. As she absorbed the scenery, Betty couldn’t help but poetically note about the price of this progress.

Betty sighed and turned to face her greatest obstacle.

It was time to settle her account with Etaceh.

The hall was familiar to Betty.

She slowly walked forward, ignoring everything. The marvelous marble columns didn’t matter, and the red carpet spread over the ground held no meaning. All that truly counted today, the only goal with meaning, was the majestic gate she found herself passing through every day. This path was the same one she took every week. Every time Betty walked this route, she ended up wanting to murder someone, but this time she couldn’t wait to commit some first-degree homicide.

Betty kicked the door into the same room of golden statue and Curtis’ glorious throne.

Upon the throne sat Etaceh. She leaned lazily on the golden chair, relaxing in the face of the morning sunlight breaking into the room.

“Ah, Elizabeth,” Etaceh smiled. “Congratulations on surviving.” She took a long blink, winking at Betty with affection. “I know what you want, but it isn’t too late to join me. Last offer, Elizabeth, don’t you want to join the winning team?”

Betty glared at her former friend and mentor.

“How about no.”

Etaceh let out a wary air, “Yeah, I guess I need to put more punch into an offer.” She clapped. “Wakey. Wakey.”

Right on cue, six golden statues around the room woke. A pair of knights in golden armor with flail and sword stepped from their pedestals and brandished their weapons. Two winged sculptures of beautiful angels levitated, turning toward Betty with hostile intent. The two horse-golem by the side of the throne came to life, cantering from the housing, and standing between Betty and her target. The golden eagle behind the throne screeched from its perch, screeching at the invader.

Betty gathered her Mana. She never expected Etaceh to be defenseless, and she didn’t care.

Red Mana gathered around Betty.

Red Magic Rank 1: Haste

Blue Mana erupted outward, coating the golem in slow-field.

Blue Magic Rank 1: Lethargy

The golem might be slowed, but it was far from powerless, but Betty was fine with that. She dodged the galloping horses, and two beams of light from the angels, using her speed advantage to its fullest. Betty spread the palm loaded with glowing Red power and launched her favorite spell, returning fire on one of the angels.

Red Magic Rank 3: Flare

A colossal sphere of heat and fire engulfed the automaton, reducing it to a steaming pile of sparking molten metal. Betty heard the galloping horse from the corner of her vision. She responded with Red Mana through the floor.

Red Magic Rank 4: Earth Strike

A spear of rock emerged from beneath the galloping horse, crushed it to the ceiling, and reduced it into a broken wreck. Fully operating on experience, Betty tossed a grenade toward the ambushing horse, blowing it to smithereens with perfect timing.

The last angel-golem swooped in for a kill, while another knight came at Betty with his mace held high. Betty greeted them with gusto, dodging the mace and rolling away from the high-intensity light that set the carpet into a scorching mess. She gathered the Black Mana and unleashed the most basic spell in the arsenal of all Black mages.

Black Magic Rank 1: Drain

Black mist coloring her hand, Betty ducked from the two statues and tapped them with Drain, absorbing the energy from their core and reducing them into an empty husk of metal. Drawing from the mystical energy she absorbed, Betty cast another Black Magic at the knight coming at her.

Black Magic Rank 4: Puppetry

Black Mana invaded the golem, cramping its joint, invading the golem mechanism, and bringing the golden armored golem to its knee. Betty twisted her hand and broke the golem’s internal mechanism with Black Magic.

The last remaining golem — the eagle — flapped it perched and flew toward Betty, who greeted it with a blast of Blue Mana.

Blue Magic Rank 3: Freeze

The blue energy froze the eagle, dropping the golem cold to the ground, and caused it to share into a thousand pieces.

“Bravo,” Etaceh was impressed by the performance. “You slay it girl.” The Lord of Mechanical Magic even dropped in a whistle. “No wonder you’re in such good shape. All those fancy choreograph moves must really take practice.”

Betty sneered at her enemy, “You’re‌ chipper for someone who is utterly powerless.” She added the classic tempting fate. “All your war golem is gone now, Etaceh. It is over.”

“It might be,” Etaceh winked, and made a ‘gun’ gesture. “But you aren’t the only mage here.”

Betty watched in shock as Etaceh shot a beam of White Mana toward her. Betty produced an artifact, a disk, unfolding it into a curved reflector shield which deflected the White Magic.

“Smite,” Betty recognized Xia’s favorite kill-spell. “You can use White Magic?”

“Good guess,” said Etaceh, toying with the wisp of Red Mana. “But you're a few guesses off.”

Betty noticed stars of shimmering Red hanging above her.

“Shit,” Betty cursed, rolling away from the barrage of bolts with her Red Mana enhanced speed, and threw out another barrage of Red Magic projectiles of her own.

Red Magic Rank 2: Bolt

Etaceh greeted the countless blast of crimson pulses with the numerous blast of freezing cold Mana. Projectiles of Blue and Red spectrum met in midair. Cold fog covered the room from the aftermath of the crashing high-speed attack magic.

Betty gloomily watched the fight escalate. This was ridiculous. Etaceh was a Tricolor mage of Blue, White and Red. That natural ability was incredibly rare. It was a point of pride for Betty, a birth-right lottery that marked her as special. Etaceh had just trampled on that pride, that uniqueness of her, and it smarted. Worst, she could match her, who had actual combat experience and training. Betty couldn’t help but grit her teeth even harder at the jealousy.

The jealousy lasted until Betty felt the Black Mana pulling taunted her body.

Betty knew the feeling. This was a spell familiar to her. She had just used it against a golem. But how? How could Etaceh wield four colors of Magic? Three was supposed to be the limit of humanity, so how did Etaceh break the rule?

“How did you use all four?” Betty squeezed the question, struggling under the mystical restraint.

“Still get it wrong, Elizabeth dear,” Etaceh whirled her fingers, filling the throne room with the Green Mana of Life Growth. “I actually have one more.”

Witnessing all five contradicting mystical power obeying one body shattered all the expectations Betty held.

Etaceh snapped her fingers and summoned a lion-shaped chimera with a smirk.

That coming threat shook Betty out of her shock. She fought through the Puppetry Etaceh cast on her, slipped a ring from her finger and crushed it beneath her heel. Upon breaking, the ring released the burst of Ether, modulated by the ruin, and dispelled the Black Magic holding her.

Etaceh took Betty’s final struggle with a mild surprise and tint of annoyance.

“Artifact?” said the woman on the throne, brushing her navy-blue hair glamorously. “Oh, we can’t have that.”

Etaceh clicked her finger. Her deep eyes shone for a second.

Sparks flew all over Betty’s clothing as the gadget she hid inside her favorite red dress sparked and died.

“How did you do that?” said Betty. A crack finally emerged on the doubt she held for the outlandish theory held by her father and Xia. What happened in the last minute upended every fundamental knowledge Betty had on Magic and the limit of human beings.

“Elizabeth,” Etaceh gave the Dark Witch a sinister smile, akin to an owner taking their cat to a bath, “I am the Lord of Mechanical Magic. I held the title as the Subjugator of Mana and Ether.” Etaceh relaxed on the throne like she just finished a good show. “I can always do that.”

Betty prepared herself, knowing she could afford to be hit with another Puppetry. She gathered all her effort for one final fight to the death. Red Magic gathered around her, and she erupted with power.

Red Magic Rank 5: Mana Burst

“Poor Elizabeth, gifted with Tricolor and you still didn’t know how to use it,” Etaceh’s inner smartass surfaced in the gale of her superiority. “You splash all your attacks around like you want to show the world you are a Tricolor.” Etaceh shrugged, ignoring the build-up of Black Mana, strengthened by Betty’s Mana Burst. “Sure, it works against mobs, but fails utterly against a true Multicolor mage.”

Betty threw the Black spell.

Black Magic Rank 5: Damnation

The black-hole emerged, but abruptly vanished.

Betty saw the glow of Blue Magic from Etaceh’s hand and eyes.

“You should assign for each color,” Etaceh said. “Color like Blue with spells such as Null and Scry and perfect for defense.”

Betty felt her bone chilled at the revelation. Scry was a magic to see the ‌future, allowing Blue mage a ridiculous advantage of foreknowledge. Null was an infamous Blue Magic to cancel the activation of other spells. Characteristic of Blue Magic was its slowness and consumption, but at peak performance, it turned the user into an invincible mage.

The chimera Etaceh summed chose the moment to pounce on Betty, cornering her into a wall.

“You use Red and Black like a hammer,” Etaceh tossed another Red Magic, causing Betty to roll away from the Earth Strike. “Excuse me, but Black is clearly meant to end fights and Red is a demonstration in destruction.”

Betty launched Black Magic Rank 4: Puppetry on the chimera, breaking every bone in its body with the creeping touch of Black Mana. With that done, Betty hurled a ball of Red Magic at Etaceh.

Red Magic Rank 3: Flare

Etaceh met the attack with Blue Magic. Ocean. Fiery Red Mana competed against the water conjured by Blue Mana, and lost. Betty watched the wall of water come at her and swept her into the wall. Before Betty could lift her soaked body, the suppressive light magic — Xia’s signature spell — Sanction pressed her into the ground. As a final insult, a field of Blue Mana encompassed Betty, trapping under a slow-field, a Lethargy.

“Compared to the rest, White is a great utility discipline,” Etaceh used Beast Contract to summon a massive genetically engineered gorilla, and empowered it with Life Growth, Strengthen and Haste. “Green Magic is perfect for increasing leverage.”

The utterly spent Betty broke the hold of Lethargy with Haste and tried to overwhelm Etaceh’s gorilla with the same old Blue Magic combo.

A wave of water followed by the freezing chill.

Blue Magic Rank 4: Ocean

Blue Magic Rank 3: Freeze

The water soaking the ape and the chilling Mana freezing it under ice did practically nothing, the giant monkey broke the ice imprisoning it in an instant. With Etaceh suppressing her, Betty’s ability to wield Mana was heavily strangled, leaving her powerless when the giant minion threw her into the wall with such a force. Betty slammed in the throne room’s wall with a thump, knowing for sure the force broke something.

Not finished with the attack, the giant gorilla grabbed Betty up by the leg in its crushing grip. It lifted her above the gaping mouth, opening wide to take a bite of her skull. Betty, using the last of strength, cast the final spell right into the beast gaping maw.

Red Magic Rank 3: Flare

The point-blank explosion successfully blew off the ape head at a price of heavily burning the princess’ hand. Elizabeth La Louve fell back onto the floor with a painful thump, clutching her burnt hand, while every inch of her body ached. The battle left completely exhausted and injured, without strength to gather any more quantity of Mana.

Betty had completely and utterly failed.

Etaceh, not shifting a single millimeter from her throne as she toyed with the Dark Witch, smiled, more amused than anything.

“Nice effort, Elizabeth,” Etaceh said. “I believe a reward is in order.”