Looking out from the glass window, Gloria could see Merlin training with his personal tutor, Aren. Finally, after all this time, Merlin could cast magic on his own. He was prancing around in glee with an enormous smile on his face. To be proud was the natural reaction of any parent. However, such a feeling did not exist for the Head Maester: dread and anxiety surfaced. When Merlin successfully cast the Fire spell, the air of her lungs escaped from her body. Cold sweat dripped from her forehead as she gazed at a particular silver pearl necklace resting at her desk. Her trembling hands slowly picked up the accessory. Only one image came into her disturbed mind: men presenting two covered up bodies in front of her.

  Gloria let out a frustrated scream, slamming her fists on the table. A cracking sound brought her back to reality. The pearl had several cracks in it. She clasped both of her hands together, holding the necklace near her heart. A tear fell from her face as she held back her cries through sorrowful whimpers.

  “An impressive sight to see, don’t you think?”

  And so, the blackened figure in the room’s corner walked forward. Gloria perked her head up, composing herself before facing the voice behind her. It was a person completely enveloped in the black-hooded robe they are wearing. By the tone of the voice, it was a man speaking to her, but his yellow eye was the only feature she distinguished under the hood. The black-hooded man wandered around, examining the many books residing on the shelves near the walls.

  “You’re late,” Gloria said.

  The black-hooded man chuckled. “I see being uptight is a common trait among the Head Maesters here. Was I intruding?”

  “No, you are not.” She looked outside the window. “Yes indeed. I can sense the seal’s power diminishing. I called you here for that reason.”

  The black-hooded man stepped in front of a particular shelf, taking out a book and shuffling through the pages. “So, this is about him. Continue.”

  “I trusted that a man of your talents could perfectly seal Merlin’s power away. That was part of the deal.”

  “Ah yes, that deal many years ago. I remember it as if it were yesterday.”

  When Merlin was growing up from the streets and into her abode, she noticed something very odd about him. His affinity for magic was way beyond normal, even for a prodigy such as her. After weeks of studying his mana wavelength and refusal to accept the undeniable truth, she realized Merlin was a half-demon human. Demons in the world of Dunia. were regarded as a threat, considering their nature of being merciless and bloodthirsty. Mortal-kind had fought against them during the Void Wars and beyond. To believe one would procreate with a human was unthinkable to her. Was Merlin a product of a sinister action, or did the demon go against its nature to fall in love with a mortal?

  Gloria, despite knowing Merlin was the kindest soul she’ll ever meet, couldn’t take the risk that one day her son will turn to evil. At least, that was the reason she convinced herself to be. She tried to seal the power herself, only for it to break with every single attempt. One day, this hooded-figure came to her, claiming he could seal his demonic power away himself. She agreed. Along with most of his magical capabilities, her son’s true power was locked away, until today.

  After recalling the past, she folded her arms, expressing a disappointed look. “We don’t have all day. Explain why is this happening.”

  “Of course. Let’s not waste any time.” The man placed a red velvet strip on a page and closed the book. “There is more potential to this boy than you would’ve imagined. His instinctive magical prowess is like none other in this world.”

  “I sensed such the first time I met him, yes.”

  “I assume you recall the properties of sealing magic? In every seal in magical existence, there lies a needle within a haystack. Find this needle and the seal shall be broken. That is the theoretical side of things. However, depending on the complexity and arrangement of the seal, many would assume the impossibility of such happening. Well, improbable is more the appropriate term considering the current situation.”

  “You’re telling me that his demon found this ‘seal breaking needle?’”

  “I have a proposed theory. The ‘demon’ was sealed away, as well as the boy’s magical proficiency. Of course, the boy released some mana for the spells, but the majority of it is trapped. There is a possibility his demon-self is absorbing the power for its own, therefore, amassing enough mana to locate and find this ‘needle.’”

  “If it is true, that would mean his demon-side is a complete separate entity…” Gloria said, shaking her head in denial. “Oh gods, how can this be?”

  “This all would’ve been avoided if you let the boy walk along his own path. His demon continues to grow and if he continues to keep casting magic… well, consider him dead as his demonic side will consume him.” The black-hooded man shrugged. “It is none of my concern, however. I’ve done my part of the bargain. You have signed the Blood Contract with me: a spell which linked our souls together and if either party cannot comply, one will be forced in the deepest realms of hell.”

  “I know, I know. What would you have me do?”

  “The broken ax head of Ragnarök. I know your lot use this place as means of transportation to important locales for the Damorian army. One of the portals under the Academy’s grounds leads to the infamous Vault. With your influence, it will a breeze to retrieve it. Be ready to give it away to your future guests. They will be here by nightfall.”

  The black-hooded man placed the book on the desk and made his way to the front door. He stopped for a moment, motioning his head back. “Why is it you are going to great lengths to seal the boy’s power?”

  “It is a business I won’t disclose to you.”

  The black-hooded man turned around, looking at the cracked pearl on her necklace, then back at her. “Ah, I see. That necklace belonged to someone special. I considered the details of the deal and your quiet cries earlier. I would assume the path of magehood had taken them.”

  She was silent.

  “You don’t want Merlin to follow that path as well. You are afraid he, too, will perish. Selfish but reasonable. I too had—”

  “You know nothing,” Gloria said, trying to hold back her anger. “Please, just get out.”

  “Fair enough. My condolences Head Maester, for your past and what’s yet to come. I bid you a farewell.”

  Within an instant, the man disappeared into thin air. She picked up the book and skipped to the red velvet bookmarked page. There, an image of an animal’s paw was seen. In a fit of rage, she threw the publication across the room. After a deep sigh, she calmed herself and opened a magic channel. The Academy Head Captain’s face came into view.

  “Head Maester Gloria. What can I do for you?”

  “Please inform the Executive Board of an emergency meeting. Tell them it is an important matter regarding my s—I mean, regarding Merlin Ambrosius. Also, tell the Vault Sentries that item ‘World Ender’ will be under my supervision from now on.”

  “My lady, I see no reason why such a relic would be taken out from its safe guard. The Vault’s location is undisclosed and even so, it is one of the most guarded places in all of Damore. Surely, you jest.”

  “Captain, trust my word. Please.”

  The Head Captain was silent but spoke again after a moment. “I have never doubted you, milady. It shall be done.”

  Gloria looked out of the window, glancing at Merlin once again. Whatever she was going to do, this may be the last time she will ever see her son smile again.

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