While both sides of the conflict had their own issues, Nita had been happy to side with the Luminous Covenant for two reasons: firstly, the alternative was unacceptable. Even before the war had begun in earnest, when talks for peace were attempting to be brokered in the rather luckless Felidae City, the Pergrandian envoy had survived alone, of all the envoys who had been brought to Felidae, and he had been saved by a mage, no less. In response, the mage was incarcerated, and Pergrande used the tragedy of Felidae to declare war on Bellum, despite the fact that the Bellian envoy had perished in the catastrophe. In Nita’s opinion, there had been absolutely no reason for Pergrande to declare war on Bellum, but they did, obviously desirous to plunge the entire continent into war without care for who lived or died. Even though Pergrande was her homeland, there was no way she could side with such a tyrannical outlook. Besides, if Pergrande were to win this war, what would happen to the mages in the countries Pergrande dominated? Chances were that Pergrande would allow Minstrel and Enca, both nations with sizeable mage populations, some respite, as they were allies, but most likely there would be terrible pogroms in the other nations over which Pergrande’s iron fist rested. One could not even say whether Pergrande would turn on its own allies in a bid to control the magic users. Nita was unwilling to side a faction with such prospects for the future.
The second reason for Nita’s choice of the Luminous Covenant was that she had somehow found her way into the graces of Arcanos, the national god of Bellum and Ishgaran god of magic, and while she could not specifically say what Arcanos had been thinking, granting his blessings to the child of an enemy nation, one thing she suspected was that her patron deity seemed to be favoring the Luminous Covenant, and as a result, she would throw in her lot with them. With the support of a god, the Luminous Covenant was expected to be victorious, right? Unfortunately, it seemed that was not to be the case. Pergrande had, in an unexpected turn of events, turned Bellum’s finest into rags.
And there was the matter of Tim Timson, who had called her to a meeting with him, just to inform her that he had died. That was perhaps the greater woe. Perhaps, Nita felt, she had been a bit too presumptuous. With the gaining of her powers and her striving for improvement, she had probably made the mistake of believing that, thanks to her abilities, she could come to the aid of her friends in a moment’s notice, and save them from harm. Tim’s death had reminded her that in the end, despite having the powers of a deity, she was still human, and constrained by the same things that the average human was constrained by, the greatest of them being ignorance. She had been unable to help him, simply because she had had no idea that he had been in need of help. Perhaps this was the price to pay for hubris. Perhaps what made the death of her friend hurt more was that it wasn’t until the fateful meeting in Hargeon that Nita had realized that even though they had been friends, perhaps their friendship had been trying to grow into something more. Unfortunately, she thought, no one would know if something deeper could have come of their friendship.
These thoughts had plunged the Pergrandian mage into a vale of deep depression, and while she carried out her duties and tasks as well as was expected of her, there was no motivation to do anything else, anymore. And this was a dangerous thing. The reason constant improvement was needed was because everything deteriorated if left alone. To stay in a single place required energy; to move forward required even more. It was erroneous to think that stopping meant one was staying in the same place, for the world moved by, and left them behind, meaning that one was not in the same place if one stopped. Stopping meant regression, and Nita was stopping.
Maria could not have that.
One of the things that had galvanized Maria’s resolve to do something drastic in order to relight the fire under Nita was the observation that when the goddess had thought up her plan, and begun to carefully put it into motion, Nita had not even seemed in the least curious as to what she was up to. Maria had suspected that for this plan of hers to work, Nita had to be unaware of it until the last moment, and as such, had been borrowing Nita’s body from time to time, all the while preventing the girl from accessing memories of what had happened while the goddess had been in control. On a normal day, the normal Nita would have gone hysteric on the first moment of realization that Maria had hijacked her body and was hiding what had been done during that time from her. This time, Nita simply asked what was going on. And when Maria had replied that she would not tell, but that she thought it would be for Nita’s own good, the Pergrandian had just shrugged and moved on. The Nita Maria knew would have practically gone crazy until she had had an idea of what the goddess was trying to do. And while Nita’s indifference made Maria’s scheming easier, Maria was quite unwilling to have her host continue like this.
As was said, desperate times called for desperate measures. Such as the one being taken today. And while the scene of this desperate measure would take place in the Ancient Ruins, far out in literally the middle of nowhere, to set things in motion, Maria had come to a quiet, little, nondescript village, in search of her quarry, whose movements she had been trying to track for days now. She was hoping she would find the person she was looking for in this village, but in truth, it was not Armina that Maria was really interested in catching. There was a bigger fish that needed luring, and Armina would be the bait. Seated at a food stall in the village’s market, Maria, in control of Nita’s body, stretched out her magical senses, seeking her prey.
Hopefully, she would show up. Any moment now….