The March of Time

Following the brief interruption caused by Prei’s transformation, Lily and her companions quickly settled back into their peaceful lives, less one young dragon.

Prei had moved quickly. A week after she had received Lily’s blessing, she had packed her things to move to the soldiers’ quarters in Riasode. Lily had flown to Riasode atop her, whereupon they had explained Prei’s request to a surprised Victoria. Thankfully, the demon woman was quick to agree to the arrangement, and even offered to pay Prei a salary. Lily, however, refused: it was unwise for Prei to be bound to the town by any kind of contractual obligation. Being a reasonable and intelligent woman, Victoria dropped the subject without complaint, to Lily’s relief.

With the explanation complete, Prei flew Lily back to their home and departed again after a series of excessively tearful farewells which also happened to feature Lily generally hovering over Prei while ensuring her daughter had everything she needed.

In accordance with the conditions Lily had laid out, Prei returned once a week, on the weekends, usually bearing gifts of food and other perishables from Riasode. With Prei’s speed, it was no longer impractical to purchase and transport perishables. On Friday evenings, in anticipation of Prei’s return, Lily and Iris would work together to prepare a large meal with which to greet Prei.

Once Prei returned home, the entire family, Tate included, would have a long, pleasant meal together, with Prei sharing her experiences in Riasode, complaining about the unpleasant things and gushing about the pleasant ones. Victoria had taken it upon herself to personally oversee Prei’s training in her free time, sharing her wealth of combat experience and personal advice, allowing Prei’s fighting capabilities to improve by leaps and bounds. This, combined with Prei’s naturally heightened physical abilities and instincts, allowed her to grow exponentially stronger. Within a year, she had defeated every member of the guard – except Victoria – in one-on-one, two-on-one, and even ten-on-one sparring sessions.

On weekends, when Prei was home, she would spend most of the day working with Tate in the forge, creating numerous magic crystals for use in Tate’s work. In view of this schedule, Tate adjusted her own smithing schedule, saving work that involved the crystals to the weekends, focusing on her other, less exotic items during the rest of the week.

With the versatility and ease of use that Lily’s invented forge offered, allowing its user to freely control the heat of the flame with the flick of a switch, Tate had developed a new method of metalworking which involved using different metals and differing levels of heat to produce a multi-layered alloy which was hard yet light, with its surface seeming to almost shimmer under sunlight. Due to the unique composite properties of the material, its appearance seemed to be one that had multiple colours swirling and mixing together, granting it an ethereal appearance that was proving itself popular with the people of Riasode. Many who had previously ordered works from her placed a second order, requesting that the new method be used, while many blacksmiths ground their teeth at how tight-lipped she was about the process.

Naturally, during the years when Prei left to train with Victoria, Tate was not the only one to innovate and create new things. With Prei gone from the house, Lily was now able to direct all of her focus to her work. In addition to completing the special forge for Tate, Lily had made several other breakthroughs in her research, which in turn led to the creation of various useful tools and techniques. The foremost of these was the creation of an inorganic magical core. By carefully examining and studying Iris’ magical core, Lily had been able to, over the course of several months, develop a working prototype magical core which could draw in magical energy from its surroundings, albeit at a much slower rate than Iris’. It took about ten minutes to draw in enough energy to create a fireball, whereas Iris could easily absorb that much energy in a hundredth of a second. It was, for all intents and purposes, so inferior to Iris’ core that there was no point even comparing the two.

That said, the successful creation of this magical core was far from insignificant. Since most of the core’s properties were provided by the inscribed ManaScript, it was possible for Lily to replicate it with minimal effort, simply by copying and inscribing the same series of commands. This discovery opened the pathway to many other creations, which revolutionised their lifestyle. Lily developed a lamp which required no fire: it contained a magical core which was programmed to constantly absorb magical energy, and then employed a magical reaction to convert that energy into light, giving off a constant dim glow. With this, the family no longer needed candles, and due to the self-sustaining nature of the lamps, they would never need to be replaced. Other inventions which Lily created were a metal box which used a series of magical cores to take in air from its surroundings and cool it down before circulating it within the box, allowing for the prolonged storage of perishables.

When she first created these tools, she intended to produce them in bulk and sell them in bulk – an undying lamp would most certainly fetch a high price. However, she quickly realised that time spent creating these tools was time spent not researching and developing new creations, which offended her creative spirit. As such, she only produced enough of these items as they needed within their home, and returned to research and development.

One other major project she undertook was upgrading her prosthetic limbs. Aided by a deeper understanding of her own abilities and the properties of the metal with which she had forged her limbs, Lily restructured and improved her limbs, adding numerous new features and tools to them, allowing herself access to a greater range of options in battle should it become necessary. Naturally, she hoped that she would never have to exercise these options, but she understood the necessity of preparing for possibly unfavorable outcomes, particularly when she considered the unsettling news which occasionally filtered in from Gemaris, Tate’s home continent.

While Lily lived a comfortable life with her family, Vessel had spent her time uniting Gemaris under the banner of the Church. Merely two years after Lily had first heard from Victoria of the Church’s moves to secure power, said organisation was firmly entrenched in the power structures of Gemaris, with the governments of the various cities giving in to pressure and ceding power to the Church. In those short two years, the entire continent had transformed into a theocracy, with Vessel at its head.

Still, these troubling issues were a distant worry for Lily and her family, who were content to live peaceful lives. While their peace was occasionally interrupted by a number of disturbances, such as Prei entering and breaking off a relationship with another girl, most of these instances were rather insignificant and easily resolved.

There was, however, one instance in particular which stood out. An occasion on which a great many things were revealed, an occasion on which a simple yet significant change came about.

This occasion happened four years after Prei left to join the knights in Riasode.