The Last Time Mage – Part1
865 AM, Maar, the Capital of the Great Charrian Empire
It was a bright, sunny afternoon. Henriette Habibara, a young 20 years old sorceress from abroad was rushing through the streets. She was late. She was an honor student of the Maar Academy of Magics and a proud citizen of Karsh, a small mountain country in Continental Midgard. Usually, she was very precise, she was never late. Today was her big day at the Academy, and out of all the days, she had to be late today. In the morning her orb, a small magicore device used for communication, broke and because of that, she missed several of her appointments. She was running as fast as she could, she was to give a speech in front of the graduating students and the elite of Charr.
Why was she chosen to do so? The board of directors had lots of reasons to want her as the face of the Academy. The most obvious reason was the fact that she was the most promising mage there. She had immense power within her, and she had the proper control to match up to her bewildering strength. As things were, she would at worst became an A+ rank mage, but becoming one of the legendary archmages was not out of the question either. This alone would have been more than enough for her to have such an exceptional position today, but there was more. She was a foreigner, which in these dire times was always a nice touch. Since the Fourth Gemwar broke out between Ilial and Charr in 862. AM, people started to keep a distance from both Ilial and Charr, therefore anything that could get Charr even just the slightest bit of positive publicity abroad was more than welcome. Karsh was a very small and peaceful country, but still, this occasion could send the message to outsiders, that Charr is still a friendly country.
A boost in image was indeed needed for Charr. Since the Gemwar started, Charr’s export in gems drastically declined. Charr was a rich country, that had all the blessings of nature one country could wish for, nonetheless, a decline in a country’s number one export product was never a good sign.
Even though the war was raging at the Charrian borders, not much could be felt from this in the capital. It was a day just like any other. People were busy as always, maybe even a bit more. The Forging Festival was coming up in a few weeks time. This festival was one of Charr’s most beloved traditions. It reminded everyone of the grand roots of the country, the pride of the blacksmiths. People were already preparing for this event. This, unfortunately, made the streets a lot more crowded than usual and that was the last thing Henriette wanted. She can’t possibly get there in time, at least that’s what she thought, as she bumped into a well-decorated carriage having the royal bear emblem on its side. She immediately recognized it, the personal carriage of Ignatius Björn. The carriage stopped, one of the windows opened and a deep yet friendly voice was heard from the inside:
-If it isn’t Henriette? I suppose you’re headed to the Academy. Care to join me on my way there?
-Yes, I’d love to. – Said Henriette in a humble, quiet voice.
She got on, and the carriage immediately started. This way she wouldn’t be late, in fact, she’ll most probably arrive early. The thought of not being late somewhat relieved her, even though she still had the speech to worry about. She wasn’t exactly a good public speaker, and today was her first time talking in front of such a large and influential crowd. While she was not calm about her special day today, she was still happy. The fact that she was chosen was not only important for Charr, but for her homeland as well. Henriette was the daughter Ibi Habibara, the leader of Karsh. It’d be a stretch to call Ibi a queen, as the royal line of Karsh willingly secluded themselves after a few infuriating political mistakes, leaving their country without a proper ruler. Ibi was the head counselor of the king, so the role of a leader fell into her palms. During Henriette’s years at the Academy, her background didn’t make a real difference, but on such an event as a graduation ceremony, it mattered a lot. Henriette knew very well how important her presence in Charr was for her homeland, and while she did not want to be part of Karsh’s foreign affairs, she accepted her mother’s wishes and went with the flow. She often met with highly influential people, and naturally, she had long, and in her opinion boring, talks about the affairs of the world. She liked to call these occasions diplomatic small talk meetings, but she rarely voiced this term. While most of the times these meetings did bore her, there were a few exceptions. Ignatius Björn, the person sitting in front of her was one of the few politically powerful individuals, who in her opinion had an actually interesting personality. She was pleased to have a short, calm talk with him.
-Thank you very much for taking me to the Academy. I’m honored to share a seat with such a wonderful person as you. – She started.
-Oh, you flatter me, my dear. I tend to help people as much as I can, especially when it takes no real effort. We are going to the same place, aren’t we?
-Indeed we are. – Henriette still talked in a low voice, but there was a certain, very small, but noticeable glimmer of joy in her words. – Today will be a remarkable day.
-Most certainly. The graduation ceremonies of the Academy are always remarkable. Today, however, the real star will be none other than you, my dear. Even though you still have a year here.
-Now you are flattering me.
-It’s not every day, that the Academy has such a talented student as you. I’m pretty sure you’ll have a delightful career ahead of you.
-I’ll try my best.
-Aim for as high as you can see, if it is you, I’m certain that becoming an archmage is not out of the question.
Henriette paused for a second. She knew people had high hopes regarding her talents, and she even heard here and there that she had an actual chance of becoming one of the archmages, but the thought was somewhat foreign to her. Being one of the archmages meant becoming one of the ten best mages of the current era. Technically speaking it was even more difficult than that. At the time there were only five archmages and the Straumrheim council never really pushed it so that there’d be exactly ten archmages. Becoming one of the best was a bit too competitive for her, even if she did have extraordinary talent in the field of magic.
-I will do my best Sir! – She said finally in a somewhat confident voice.
-That’s the spirit!
Ignatius Björn was a very supportive person. He really liked to see others grow, he found pleasure in other’s prosperity. In many ways, he was an ideal sovereign. He worked hard for the sake of Charr and he did a rather good job. He deeply despised the fact that his country had to go to war with their northern neighbor, but in all honesty, that was not such a rare occurrence. Charr and Ilial were never on good terms with each other. Luckily Charr and Ilial was only connected on a very small slab of land, so as the forces of both nations were concentrated in that small place, usually, a standstill developed, and luckily this way it rarely affected the lives of the general public. This was the current situation, a standstill between the two nations of the West.
They arrived at the entrance of the Academy in a few minutes time. Usually, Ignatius would bring up the future of everyone he talks to, but for some reason, he did not mention anything related to this topic now.
The Academy was a grandiose building. It had several chambers dedicated to spellcrafting, arenas for combat practice, a library that specialized in collecting knowledge related to magic, countless regular study rooms, and even a small workshop for those who wanted to mix magic with magicore engineering. The Academy was founded several centuries ago, but the building was only roughly a hundred years old. It was built when the need of gems in Continental Midgard first started to rise, and with which true Charrian prosperity started. Naturally, as any other high-end Charrian institution, the Academy was well equipped with magicore items. The lighting was the most glamorous part of this, which was so extravagant, that it, in better times, even attracted the attention of tourists. Maar Academy of Magics represented Charr in a spectacular way, it was grand, it displayed strength, wisdom, intelligence and it was built on the back of gemcraft, the trademark industry of Charr.
Henriette was standing in the entrance of this monumental building. She went in there day after day during her studies, and she knew she will still go in there a lot more in the future, but today felt different. Today Henriette Habibara was about to go down in the history of Maar Academy of Magics. With Ignatius Björn, the current emperor of Charr, Henriette entered the building. The ceremony was about to begin…