Have you ever watched a drama about a girl training to be the best chef? Her teacher gives her a list of impossible challenges, like finding 100 different plants, being able to distinguish what’s the ingredients in a dish with just a taste etc etc.
My life turns into this. I feel like I’m being trained to be a chef. I have to try to distinguish the ingredients in a poison with just a smell, I have to go to different places with Lord Valentine to find different herbs and ingredients.
“A poison that makes people lose their sight?” I say out the answer after taking a sniff of the transparent liquid in front of me one last time.
“Permanently or temporarily?”
“Eh…” I take another sniff. If there is a hint of bitterness amid sourness, it’s temporary. If there is a hint of bitterness amid tartness, it’s permanent. Aren’t they the same thing? I take another sniff.
I believe it’s more sour than tart. “Temporary?”
Yes! I do not wish to continue guessing today. It’s tiring.
“Ianthe, how long have you started learning magic?”
“About five years.”
It’s been five years since I transmigrated here. Sometimes, especially late at night, my heart still aches from home sickness. I wonder if my parents have moved on already? If they still miss me as I do?
“It’s time for an exam,” Lord Valentine suddenly says.
An exam? Lord Valentine is a pretty strict instructor, during these past five years he gives me challenges at random time. Like pretending to be him, like finding a herb in the middle of nowhere, like trying to predict the menu for next day’s dinner… But he has never uttered the word ‘exam’. I am a bit nervous now. If his ‘challenges’ are like quizzes, then this ‘exam’ is the real deal. But his challenges are already challenging enough!
“Ianthe, have you heard of the Realm of Deep Sea?”
“No, my lord.” Aren’t we already in the deep sea?
“The realm is just outside the capital, it’s a good training ground for nymphs like you. If you’re lucky, you might get some treasures. But of course there are dangers too, monsters and poisonous water. I want you to get a plant that can only be found in the realm and bring it back.”
This sounds like an adventure, but can I do that? I have to trust Lord Valentine, he always gives me challenges that I can achieve, albeit a bit too hard.
“I’ll try my best.”
He rewards me with an affectionate smile and a pat on my head. “I am sure you can do that.”
Lord Valentine’s smile really cheers one up.
“Now, go and pack for things you need! Papers for spells, herbs, potions, anything you think you need! Dolphin will go with you.”
I can now do simple spells without writing them out, but for more complicated ones, I need to write them out. However for practical purpose, I usually write them out in advance. These include useful and powerful spells to protect myself, like spells to summon fire, water or shield.
With a snap of his finger a tiny bag appears in his hand. A bag in different shades of blue. The clasp and strap are made of pearls. It’s a pretty bag.
“This is for you. This is charmed, so you can place everything you need in this bag.”
So it’s like Doraemon’s pocket. As expected from Lord Valentine’s creation! It’s pretty yet super practical!
“Thank you, my lord.”
“You’re welcome. Now go and pack things you need! Don’t forget things! No one will come and save you!”
“Not even you, my lord?” I ask before I can stop myself.
A mischievous smile breaks on his face. “No, this is Ianthe’s challenge, so I won’t come and save you. You’re a strong and independent sorceress, so I am sure you can save yourself. I believe in you. And who are you? You are my pupil, so I have trust in myself too.”
“I am the pupil of the Royal Sorcerer, I will try my best!” I vow with determination.
“Exactly, that’s the spirit! I’ll accompany you to the entrance of the realm tomorrow, so go and prepare!”
I beam. Lord Valentine’s words always comfort me. He is like a sun that guides me in this new world.