Chapter 43 - : Deck of Destiny
Translator: SaltyTank Editor: SaltyTank
Whiterun was a flourishing city which put Amber City to shame. Even though travelling there was not as convenient, it was one of the southern cities with the longest history. In the center of the city lay the skull of a red dragon, the symbol of the city. Adventurers once killed an evil red dragon in this region, and with the wealth they obtained from it, they built a city which then became Whiterun, the trade center of the Southwest.
There was a luxurious mansion north of the city hall. The previous baron who owned the mansion had died from a peculiar sickness, and the mansion had changed hands a few times since.
It was said that a widowed noble once caused a commotion when she moved in, not only because of her riches, but also her beautiful looks. The widow lived in seclusion and rarely appeared publicly. She was uninterested in the banquets held by other nobles, nor did she bother to have dealings with them, which was why they rejected her. People only saw her carriage from time to time travelling from the mansion to her villa outside the city.
It was known that she was extremely rich. She had not only purchased the best shops in the city, but also owned a large villa outside the city after all. It was not hard for people to understand that she had quite the backing, as a noble widow normally could not own and secure so much property and riches.
Right now, the mistress of the merchant squad arrived at the above-mentioned mansion. Servants were already standing in front of the mansion, waiting for her to arrive. A maid took off her shawl, and she was led to one of the large rooms in the mansion.
A high-quality carpet made out of goose feather covered the floor; this type of alchemy product was popular among lower class nobles, and they would pay a fortune to get one. However, the room was luxuriously covered with such an expensive item as if it was simple, cheap cloth. A bewitching lady with wavy black hair sat on a large rocking chair made out of redsander wood while reading a book. She wore a white nightdress with the collar loosened slightly, revealing her voluptuous chest.
The mistress of the merchant squad bowed to the lady and said, “I have brought the requested item. However, I don’t understand. Why make me travel all the way here just to bring you a card of the Deck of Many Things? You know I’m undergoing important research, right?”
The bewitching lady casually stood up, her nightdress slipping down ever so slightly. She did not bother to tidy up herself though, as the person in front of her was her daughter. With a joking tone, she said, “Gloria. How can you not notice it even after so long? It is not a card from the Deck of Many Things, but a card from the Deck of Destiny! The apex of alchemy! The dream of all alchemists!”
The woman was a Northern witch as well. Her age could not be determined just from looking at her appearance. She walked toward the mistress and held out her hand as she received the black metal box.
“Those idiots of the Witch Council had this for so long but were unable to discover anything. They should have handed it over a long time ago.”
With her white fingers, the bewitching lady caressed the mysterious card inside the box, her eyes glowing in delight.
“Deck of Destiny… the key to becoming the child of destiny!”
The card disappeared from the bewitching lady’s palm all of a sudden; it was a spell commonly used by advanced wizards and witches called Storage. The spell opened up a sub-dimensional space, allowing the caster to store items within it.
“My dear daughter,” the bewitching lady said as she lazily laid on a soft, large bed while fiddling with her lengthy hair, “did you encounter something meaningful during your journey this time? It’s been a while since I’ve heard about interesting things since I’ve been imprisoned here, you know? Seriously, I want to leave already.”
Her daughter furrowed her brows and spoke with a serious look, “Please do not forget that you are currently being punished by the Witch Council. Because you conducted a forbidden experiment at the Root of the Dead Wood, everything within fifty kilometers was annihilated, turning it into a no-man’s land!
“If the council didn’t cover for you, the Northern druids would have hunted you down already. All that would await then would be the trial of nature, and I’m sure you know what that means.”
Her mother, however, chuckled and shrugged her shoulders like a teenage girl. With a slightly wicked tone, she said, “Gloria. It was just a small accident when I was trying out something fun. Those druids are way too stubborn!”
The mistress was obviously agitated by her mother’s reply and began talking as if scolding her mother.
“The rampaging elemental energies of the Root of the Dead Wood caused by your ‘fun experiment’ dealt serious damage to the region. The geological structure underwent a complete change, and the elemental energy radiation level reached Grade A! Even now, energy is still pouring in from the Elemental Planes, and that area will be a land of death, void of any life, for the next five hundred years!
“You call this a small accident?!
“If her majesty, the Eye of the North, did not apologise personally, even the Legendary Shapeshifter who lives in seclusion in the Frozen Mountains would take action against you!”
“He’s a guy who can transform into a dragon but can’t use dragon breath attacks. I’m… I’m not afraid… of him, you know!” her mother replied as her smile vanished, seemingly overwhelmed by her daughter.
Gloria, who rarely smiled, grinned as if enjoying her mother’s troubled expression.
“A fifty-year exile is not harsh at all considering what you have done, even more so when you’re not actually imprisoned. Her majesty is partial toward you for your talent as always! However, bear in mind that the druids will have the right to force you to undergo the trial of nature if you sneak out on your own. If that happens, even her majesty cannot save you.
“The Druid Order is still trying to equilibrate the elemental energies even now. The Witch Council has already sent out twelve advanced witches to help them, but that is insufficient to soothe their rage. Even the council is getting agitated because they have to take care of your mess!”
“Enough.” Her mother furrowed her brows and said, “Those stubborn idiots will never understand how important my experiment was. If I had succeeded, a whole new era would await us!”
Without backing down, Gloria harshly countered, “But you failed, which is why you have to take responsibility for your actions.”
As if her safety switch had been turned off, Gloria’s mother threw her book to the ground and yelled in dissatisfaction, “ENOUGH! Is this the attitude you should have when talking to your mother?!”
Gloria loosened up a bit, and began to speak in a milder tone as she bent to pick the book up.
“Mother, I respect and love you, but this does not change my opinion of you as a witch! You once told me, ‘When our own powers are insufficient, faith will always be our last and final trump card.'” (Northern witches mostly relied on cards for spellcasting.)
Her mother sighed in response and waved her hand with a tired expression. “It’s fine. You can leave now.”
“Oh, on my way here, I encountered something interesting. If you wish, I can tell you about it,” Gloria hesitatingly said.
With a look saying ‘I’m all ears,’ her mother nodded and told her to go on.
Even if she was exiled only in name, she was constantly monitored by the Witch Council. She was only allowed to move around freely within the mansion and, when the council called for her, the villa outside the city. If she made even an ever so slightly suspicious move, the council would send her warnings, and she might even be truly imprisoned. The Northern Druid Order had already labelled her as the most dangerous person among their list of targets, spreading her notoriety to all other druids across the world. In fact, from the moment she was exiled to Whiterun, several druids and elves had been observing her in secret.
“I met two interesting people on the way here.” Gloria organised her thoughts and continued, “A man and a young girl, a pair of siblings.
“The man was a smart rogue, and I thought he was just a typical person at first. Afterwards, I discovered that his soul was even weaker than most commoners’. Normally, I’d have thought he either made pacts with devils and demons or suffered severe soul damage before. The thing is, he would have the odor of the Abyss if it was the former, and he should not have survived if it was the latter.”
The bewitching mother was intrigued by what Gloria said. She interrupted her daughter and asked, “Oh my dear daughter, why not kill him? You will know the answer by imprisoning his soul and studying it.”
After hearing what her mother said, Gloria had a cramped expression. She took in a deep breath and replied in a stern voice, “Mother. It is inappropriate to snatch away someone’s life just to satisfy my curiosity.”
“What if his soul was very valuable? Hah, go on.”
Gloria sighed in her mind, annoyed by her mother’s way of thinking.
“What truly amazed me was the little girl. She was exceptional. A special one. I don’t know how to put it into words, but she has extraordinary talents. If not for her lack of divinity, I might even mistake her as one of the mythical Descendants of God.
“I wanted to learn more about them, but they were extremely vigilant toward others. I only managed to learn about trivial things.”
“Too scrupulous,” her mother said with disinterest. “Just use Charm Person and make them talk. If they have strong willpower, use Dire Charm instead. There’s no need to go through so much trouble.”
Gloria frowned once again and slowly said, “We must not abuse the power of magic. They are not evil, and I can tell that the two have a strong bond between them, so strong that I’m a bit jealous. Never forget our values and bottom line, and we shall not be lost on the journey for strength and power.”
Gloria’s mother snickered as she tidied her clothing and covered up her chest. “Oh, my dear daughter. You’re deviating from the neutral alignment which all witches abide to. Oh my, I might even mistake you for those muscle-headed paladins!”
“I’m just adhering to my own values. You’re the one who should reflect on your actions, doing as you please all the time.”
Gloria turned to leave the room.
* * *
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*[Long Taos]: side characters in Chinese operas who perform acrobatics and fight scenes
*[12.47 to 13.07]: don’t ask me about the tree sap