Between Two Worlds

15.4 Your most precious possession

Athena stared. One moment, she was fighting for her life. The next moment, he had bowed to her.

“I, uh..” she didn’t know where to put her hands, but as the Guardian made no indication of resuming their battle, she tucked them to her sides. “That’s it? The tome’s mine??” Her query elicited a firm nod.

“With your power, you’ll be able to master the spells in this tome and continue his lifelong research into the secrets of the Untamed arts.”

Athena shrugged. “I don’t plan to master anything. I only want to learn the elemental spells to protect myself and Curtis.” It was the first time she acknowledged him aloud. Her face turned bright pink.

“Perhaps you’ll change your mind.”

“No way! Learning Untamed magic requires sacrifice. I could lose my mind like how Morgyn did! I’ll only learn to control the elements, nothing else.” 

“I can help you with that.” he replied. She eyed him suspiciously.

“My purpose is to mentor the Fourth Sage. You’ll master Inferniate, Zipzap and Chillio immediately under my guidance. They’re but low ranked spells for your powers.”

“I can learn them in my own time. I shouldn’t stay any longer.”

“Whoever sent you might be waiting now that you’ve completed their errand. You possess great power, but lack the knowledge to harness it. What if you were ambushed?” His words struck a chord with her.

“You’re right. This book can’t fall into the wrong hands too,” she said thoughtfully. “What about the sacrifices I have to make?”

“By your bloodline, you needn’t sacrifice much since it has already been done.” The Guardian began flipping through the pages of the tome. He rests a finger at the bottom of the page. “If you learn on your own, these are the sacrifices.”

Athena read the list, then gulped. “These are horrible!!”

“A small sacrifice for mastery of the elements,” came his reply. Athena wrinkled her nose at him. “Riiight, so what will I trade if I choose to learn with you?”

The guardian took a moment to assess her.

“You need only trade one thing – your most precious possession.”

Athena mulled over his words. “My possession? I don’t own a lot of things. I’ve nothing precious… Do you mean my wand? It’s a family heirloom. Mom will kill me if I traded that!”

“It isn’t your wand. It hasn’t been long since you acquired it, fairly recent I believe. It makes you happy and keeps you company.”

“Oh!” Athena said, eyeing her familiar. “Batty? But.. he’s my first familiar. I really like Batty..”

“Your trade is not exclusive to this world, you will have more of it in the future.”

“But Batty is my first pet! The sentiment itself is exclusive…” her heart tore in two directions, for though she didn’t want to lose him, it sounded like the better trade compared to the sacrifices should she learn on her own. “What are you going to do to with him?”

“What you exchange will never be destroyed. In fact, you can trade for it again in the future.”

“Really!? Then.. Okay.. If only to make sure I leave the Realm safely. I’ll get you back Batty, promise!” The familiar nodded and returned to his orb. His trust made her even more determined to have him as her familiar once again.

For the next half hour, she learned so rapidly that she thought their minds melded together. Her brain felt like a sponge, absorbing and retaining everything he said as she practiced distorting water molecules, extracting electrons and summoned flames.  

“It is done.” His voice boomed at the end of their training. “The exchange is complete.”

“This is fantastic, I can feel the difference! Finally, I can cast offensive spells to protect myself and…” she paused, confused. Was there ever a continuation to that sentence? A sly grin crept on the guardian’s face, only to vanish as soon as it appeared.

He interrupted her thoughts. “I shall return to its pages until you need me.” 

“You are part of the tome?”

“I am to train you, Fourth Sage. I will always be here for you.” he replied reassuringly.

“Call me Athena,” she said, though ‘Fourth Sage’ had a nice ring to it. She liked the idea of having a powerful mentor at her beck and call too. “Goodbye, Guardian!” she said cheerily.

A portal appeared behind her as he vanished. While grabbing the tome, Athena noted how Batty’s orb remain unclaimed by the pedestal. She placed Batty in her inventory and exited the chamber.  

*****

“Lady Athena, You’ve returned!”

I watch the young mage emerge from the gate, a wide grin upon her face.

“Your prolonged absence concerned me greatly! I would’ve sought after you had I not been… indisposed.” I must take great care not to divulge her mother’s secret. The responsibility lies in the maid herself, which she had promised to do so.

“I’m sorry Grim! You won’t believe what happened! But first, I need to catch my breath…” Young Athena stretched her shoulders and ambled towards her bed. She plopped down gracelessly, as if she were a starfish. An uneasiness rose in me. There’s something strange about the girl…

“I sense a darkness about you, child,” I say as I peer at her. “What do you have in your possession?”

“Oh, this?” She lifts a- … Mercy of heavens! She holds-

“It’s the Tome of the Fourth Sage! It’s giving off dark vibes because Morgyn wrote it himself! Can you believe it?! Other than that, nothing’s wrong with it.”

I leapt to my feet. “The Fourth Sage’s tome is locked in the very heart of the Council Building! How did you manage to navigate through all its seals and barriers!?”

She frowned at me. “You knew about this? You told me Morgyn’s spells were lost to history!”

Her accusation is just, but there isn’t a moment to spare – not when she held the most precarious tome in the entire realm!

“Lady Athena, do not stray the conversation! How did you manage to retrieve his tome!?”

She crossed her arms, upset that I chose not to address my fib. Nevertheless, she succumbed to reason. The young mage exhaled deeply as she answered.

“Someone controlled me. They tried to use me to get the tome for them but I escaped – along with the tome!” She said with a triumphant smile.

“How did they control you, child? It is not easy to control a mage of your calliber.”

“I… I traded my magic to get some Aelrs..” she admitted sheepishly, but swiftly defended herself. “I had to! I needed magic money to buy the ingredients.”

Her attempt at deception roused my annoyance. “Impudence! The Magic Realm is brimming with Valerian root and turquoise is found in the human world! You traded your magic for the familiar in your inventory! Foolish child! You endanger yourself and now you seek to veil my eyes!”

Her face turned red. “You have no right to raise your voice at me! You lied to me first! You knew I wanted to learn his spells since forever! I had to go through an intense battle to get it too! This is an accomplishment! You should be proud of me!”

“Proud?! This tome is deadly! The dark arts will deceive you! You must hand it to your mother immediately.” 

“No! This tome is my prize – I could’ve lost my life there but I didn’t. This is the first time I protected myself successfully, on my own too! I just want to keep it.”

“You will NOT keep it! No mortal can resist the allure of the dark arts! You admitted to having almost lost your life too!! To think if you did, I- … Silly child! I would tear that book from your hands this instant if I were living! You cannot be trusted to think for your own safety. How helpless it is to be me – to watch mortals make foolish mistakes every time!”

“I’m glad you’re not living then!! You’d make a terrible human! Tearing the tome from my hand? You wouldn’t say something like that if I were a man! Resorting to physical means just because you know you have the upper-hand?! I can’t believe you, Grim! I thought you better than those…”

The young mage left her sentence unfinished as I stewed in hurt and anger. Her unfair condemnation of my character aggravated me. Is there a need for insults when I hold her best interests?

The young child gathered her thoughts before speaking, exerting her best manner as she tries to convince me. “Look, I know this book is full of dark magic, but I don’t plan to use his spells for harm. I’m a girl. I’m tiny and I’m not good at self-defense. I lose out physically but with his spells, I can make up for it! I can protect myself from bad people! That’s all I want to do!”

Her false justification left me speechless and thoroughly saddened. “You disappoint me, child. Your charade is convincing, were it not obvious that the true motive behind your efforts is to protect the Unclaimed Soul! He is not worthy of the sacrifices nor perils you face should you dabble in the dark arts. I am appalled at the fabrication of your victimhood to gain my sympathy for his sake! I implore you to see reason, child! He is not worth your disregard of morals and honor!”

But she wasn’t listening. Something of my speech beheld her attention.

Her eyes glistened with tears. She looked as if I had put a stake through her heart.

“Fabricated.. victimhood? You- you think I’m playing the victim card…?!”

Lady Athena burst into tears. She turned from me, her body swayed back and forth in attempt to control her turbulent emotions. “How can you say that!? I am the victim! I am pitful! Have you forgotten what happened to me!? What’s wrong with me trying to get stronger to protect myself!? I must be able to… No one will save me! Not even you because of your stupid code as a Reaper! I have to be able to rely on my own powers… I won’t let anyone hurt me like that again..”

“Lady Athena, you misconstrue my words! I did not mean to undermine your misfortune, I am merely disheartened that you would use it as a tool to claim favor for the Unclaimed soul–”

“Enough!!! What the heck is that!? Why do you keep saying that!? WHAT IS AN UNCLAIMED SOUL!?

The pit of my stomach fell to the ground. I gaze upon her confused face and pieced together her outburst, her regressed fear and hurt, and the vile tome in her hands…

“Lady Athena.. do you not know who the Unclaimed Soul is?”

“NO! And I DON’T CARE!! I had enough of your accusing me and… belittling my.. experience.. I… I don’t wish to see you now, Grim! I really.. cant stand you.. or any guys around me now.. Go…! Just. go!”

“Child, did you trade with the guardian?”

“None of your business! Go away!”

She is at her limit, but I cannot leave. I must verify my suspicions. I must know what my dear friend has traded. I lifted a hand towards her. She recognised my actions. “How… how dare you!!” she cried hysterically. “You’re reading my memories without my consent!? You.. You have no right! You’re just the same as those men!!!”

Dread overcame me — Lady Athena possesses no memory of the Unclaimed Soul. Where he once stood, a void has taken his place. She has traded her memories of her love.

Tears fell freely down her cheeks. She looked at me with disgust, disbelief, disappointment and hurt. My final act – assessing her memories – was an act of betrayal. Her trust in me withered like a dying rose. The softness in her eyes were no more – they were fierce, cold, and hateful.

“I don’t… ever… want to see you again,” She said slowly, but surely. “Get. out.”

32 thoughts on “15.4 Your most precious possession

  1. Has she not learned from all the fairy tales and stories?? “The most precious” is always a person, not a toy, or a possession, and even then, how does she not understand the meaning of “Most precious”–
    Okay it is probably better that she only lost her memories, and did not have to trade Curtis’ life for her own, so there’s at least a chance.
    But, he’s working hard to climb the mobster ladder, and she had issues already before, when they will meet again (and they will, ofc, this is a story, after all), he will have a HARD time to get her back…
    besides, she might have pure intentions now, but I sense that she’ll not be completely immune against the darkness in the tome… and also now Grimmy might not come so often around to hang.
    Oh boy.
    This is gonna be a mess.
    And I’m caught up at like the most intense parts of the story 😭😭

    1. 🤣 That’s a good point! She’s very naive and it didn’t help that her mom raised 2 kids on her own and probably didn’t have much time nor knowledge to teach nursery rhymes and introduce stories.

      Thankfully, she is only trading for spell knowledge so she only lost her memory, unlike her mom who wanted freedom and traded all their lives. 😵

      I love your predictions. They’re solid <3. You'll find out in the epilogue.

      Ah.. Sorry I'm supposed to update today! But I'm falling behind because I worked on further chapters than the one directly after this. 😭😅

      1. aww dang. and I bet they don’t show them that often on TV nowadays also…

        Eeek, it also means her little brother is in danger too, no? Is he also a spellcaster?

        What, is there an epilogue already? Is this story over soon? 😱😱

      2. Ch 16 is final, then Ch17 epilogue. And then I want to take a break for a bit before continuing. Maybe I’m not using the right terms because there will be a season 2. 😅

      3. ah, so soon!
        So it will take a while still until our main lovers meet again… (because they must hehe, no matter the outcome !)
        but sometimes it is good to take a step back and sort out all the story stuff before continuing! (I do that all the time 😅)

  2. Haha, I knew it! The guardian was deceptive and took Athena’s memories of love. I knew love would be the trade, in some form. But at least Curtis isn’t hurt and because of this and they can meet again and she can fall in love with him all over.
    Athena has good intentions now, but the Grim is right, she needs to stay far away from that book.
    There are still so many questions I have. Like, who kidnapped Athena and made her battle the guardian? They must have known about her bloodline, I wonder if it is someone close to her, or maybe they are somehow connected to Curtis, or maybe someone we haven’t met yet? I will have to continue reading to find out.
    And why is the Grim so invested in Athena’s wellbeing? I know that she and her mother can see him because of their bloodline, but there must be something more to it than that. I may have missed something when I read the previous chapters.

    1. Hehe! It is a love story after all! Some cliches are needed. Hope it was still entertaining! As to your quote.. oops… 😅 I think you know by now things have gotten a little bit more complicated.

      I love your questions. I have the answers to them but I’ll have to tackle one drama at a time. But I can say you didn’t miss anything regarding the two questions and they will both be answered soon. You’re right there’s something going on there with Grim 🙂

      1. I have no problem with cliches or tropes, after all, I think it’s hard to completely get away from cliches and as long as you can put a new spin on it and make it enjoyable (which you’ve done, imo :)) that’s what matters. And I always enjoy a good love story. 🙂
        Haha, no worries if all my questions aren’t answered right away. I like some mystery. And I’m glad I didn’t miss anything.

  3. Dear gods, at least the guardian didn’t see Curtis himself as a “possession” and “only” took her memories. This is awful, but it could have been even worse. Avery clearly did not teach Athena about fairy tales when she was a child, because this had deception written all over it. Gah, is this girl doomed to only learn through negative experiences? >.<
    Also, the mage that tried to get their hands on the tome in the first place. I doubt that they're just going to give up. If anything, that tome is now easier to get their hands on than ever. Avery and Athena might be in more danger than ever, too. I wonder who they are, how they knew who Athena was and how to make use of her that quickly.
    Poor Grim. There might be no coming back from that. Even though they mean so well T.T

  4. Such a horrible trade! No wonder Morgyn got such a horrible reputation if that’s the sort of thing he did to people!

    Although, losing her memories of Curtis is not nearly as harsh as what happened to her mom! She lost their lives!

    I thought I understood him to be saying that she would have another love in her life someday, but then he specifically said that she could trade to get him back. Or is that not what he meant?

    It’s too bad that their relationship ended up going that way, but I can certainly understand her pain. That was a violation, just like she went through already! I guess I understand why Grim did it, but geez, if he’d been patient she would have given her consent at some point I’m sure.

    1. Yes! Don’t get me wrong I love Morgyn in game, but for the story I need bad characters, and well, he is the sage of Untamed Magic. Being pg13 the word untamed is used so we all know what it actually means. :p

      Yes! Athena losing her memories is small change compared to what her mother did because her mother defied fate by completely leaving the realm whereas Athena just wants to learn elemental spells. Hence the severity of the trade off reflects what the caster wants and how large the changes are.

      Ooh what a neat interpretation, I didn’t think about that. He was talking about her memories but what you mentioned is wayy cooler. I need to take notes. ❤

      Ah I'm so glad you gave me your feedback about this matter! It contradicts another I've received and I was worried I didn't convey it well. Now I know its more reader interpretation. But I'll definitely work on my writing skill too. Yes! He really shouldn't have pressured an agitated teen. But then again, he doesn't deal with children much (or people unless they're dead). xD

  5. I knew it wouldn’t be Batty… 😁
    I’d like to be happy for her because now she won’t risk her life for Curtis. But clearly she’s found another way to put herself in early grave. With that damned book.

  6. Oh no, that is so sad. I almost screamed at Athena, seeing her trade away the very thing she hoped to protect. Though I assumed it was Curtis’s life more so than the memories of him. Makes sense though, since she herself confessed that’s what had kept her going all this time. Oh man…

    I wonder if her diary still has her memories with him, or if the pages from the diary disappeared too. Though even if they didn’t, reading about those memories might as well be like reading someone else’s.

    Bah my heart 💔

    I will hang on to the shred of hope that she can somehow retrieve those memories back. It may not be impossible, but judging how untamed magic works in this story, I feel like it would require a sacrifice even higher than that…

    There you go, incoherent stream of though word vomit complete 😂

    1. I really like your comment so im just going to cross out that last paragraph as if I never read it 😝.
      You’re right about how untamed magic works in my universe. If you want something that alters your fate drastically, the price is higher. Athena wanting some simple spells is not as life changing as her mother’s escape from the realm entirely. Hence why she only lost her memories, while her mom loses her entire family. The exchange is “equal” on both sides.

  7. So the very thing she wanted to protect has been taken from her. I wonder if she’d left batty at the place that the clone would’ve been content with that. But she took batty back, meaning he had to get something else. hm.

  8. Oh I’m so worried for her. She can’t remember the Unclaimed Soul? She can’t remember Curtis? She gave up her most “precious possession” – memories of her love with Curtis and memories of Curtis himself?? She gave up all her goodness? Does that mean she’s evil now? In wanting to protect Curtis, she lost him? Poor girl. I can understand why she’s angry, but she’s so foolish. Now she doesn’t remember him at all, and this could prove troublesome when she might encounter some of the people who are “after” him and after her. She was even going to give a statement on his behalf and she can’t now. I mean, Grim may be partially right. Curtis is in way over his head and she does need to distance herself from him, but not forever. The memories… so precious… now lost… hopefully not forever.

    1. BTW, I thought it was pretty cruel of Grim to invade her mind. He violated her in a way different than her physical assault, but it still wasn’t cool. It felt very… uncomfortable.

      1. Ah I agree. Sometimes we mean well, like parents leafing through their teenage child’s diary. But the sentiment won’t be shared by the party that is being inflicted upon.

    2. Athena remembers everything that happened to her, but if it was a shared memory where Curtis was in it, she will remember it as being by herself. So their lighthouse scene, meeting in the alleyway etc, she will think she was alone. in all of that. Where Curtis was, it would be a void. Our minds have an amazing ability to fill in the gaps in our memories and regard it as reality. (Confabulation theory) So Athena has no idea about what has been taken from her because her memory has been “patched up” by her own brain.

      Yes their memories are so precious. 😢

  9. she didn’t know where to put her hands

    Yes! More works where hand placement is a major theme.

    Putting aside the obvious emotional reaction, I want to break down how bad Grim is at conflict resolution. This jerk just
    – moaned about how her absence affected him (“Your prolonged absence concerned me greatly!”) rather than asking if she was okay
    – lectured her for not having information she could not possibly have known (“The Magic Realm is brimming with Valerian root and turquoise is found in the human world!”)
    – refused to admit to untrustworthy behavior (“upset that I chose not to address my fib”)
    – “Nevertheless, she succumbed to reason”: oh, go jump off a bridge
    – undermined her competence (“Silly child! …You cannot be trusted to think for your own safety.”)
    – totally skipped over her badass line, “You wouldn’t say something like that if I were a man!”
    – “Her unfair condemnation of my character aggravated me”: Waah, waah! False accusations! Waaah!
    – refused to listen to her (“Her false justification…”)
    – accused her of playing the victim (“fabrication of your victimhood”)
    – gaslit her (“Lady Athena, you misconstrue my words!”)
    – and lastly, violated her consent and is just like shoulder-shrug about it (“My final act—assessing her memories—was an act of betrayal.”) RIGHT AFTER SHE REMINDED HIM ABOUT HER ASSAULT!!!!

    Grim has a point and would’ve gotten it across if he had any EQ whatsoever. This is a perfect template of What Not to Do written by someone who has heard this exact conversation go down a million times. Love it.

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