Magic, Love, Family Pt. 02

tagIncest/TabooMagic, Love, Family Pt. 02

Author's note: This is a fictional story and all the characters engaging in any sexual activities are over the age of 18 years.
First time readers: I would advise you to read the previous parts.
Past readers: This is a slow burner, primarily focusing on world-building and defining story elements which play a major role in the upcoming parts.
There is also a glossary and maps page. Do take a look.
Edit 1: DevlinCarnate
Edit 2: alalu
A special thanks to alalu for being such a great, helpful person. You've been wonderful.


Character Introductions:
Gelodesh: Northernmost kingdom of the continent.
Ostorth: Capital of Gelodesh.
Ryhor: Smallest of the three cities of Gelodesh.
Samantha Tygrine: Ruler of the kingdom of Gelodesh.
Suzanne Tygrine: Twin sister of Samantha Tygrine. Marshal of Gelodesh Kingdom.
Miranda Tygrine: Eldest daughter of Suzanne Tygrine. Water Element Awakened.
Rose Tygrine: Younger twin of Miranda Tygrine. Fire Element Awakened.
Lily Tygrine: Daughter of Samantha Tygrine. Earth Element Awakened.
Raymond Tygrine: Younger twin of Lily Tygrine.
Shania Mosel: Lover of Raymond.
Ingrid Beltran: Royalty from the neighboring kingdom of Beltran. Friend of Suzanne's.
Theodore Henry: Chief of the Ryhor Branch of Henry Trading Association, the biggest trading association in the continent.
***
Raymond dragged himself out of his bed. Early morning rays streamed in through the large window in his room.
There's no use in thinking about it anymore. Aunt Suzy will be here in a few hours. I should get my training in before she arrives…
Troubled by the indifferent behavior of Miranda, Raymond had little-to-no sleep the previous night. He felt exhausted and drained of energy. He regretted his actions of the day before but couldn't think up a proper way to rectify his mistake. He just wanted things to go back to the way they were before… before he kissed Miranda.
"So impulsive… sigh…"
He lazily donned his usual training gear of light, leather armor, arm guards, and leather boots. Satisfied with his preparations, he glanced in the mirror at the corner of the room; his skin looked pale, dark circles colored underneath his eyes with purple and black tints. His short, dark hair was unkempt. He quickly combed through his hair and put on the cloak over his muscular shoulders. His six-foot tall frame was well hidden under the cloak. He picked up the broadsword that he kept by his bedside and left the house.
***
It was a quick ride on his horse to the northern outskirts of the city. On his way, Raymond passed by the guards on patrol of the city. A few of the shops were open, preparing for the day ahead.
Many young warriors walked towards the northern gate. Raymond guessed they were doing the same as him, getting in their early training before the day starts. Most people in the city, whether a man or woman, had some proficiency with weapons. But less than one in twenty of the populations were awakened individuals.
This number was actually unprecedented in the continent. Though Gelodesh was a kingdom rooted in military origins, it still could not justify the large number of awakened in the population. The average number of awakened individuals in any of the large empires in the continent amounted barely one in forty, well below the average of Gelodesh.
The kingdom-wide policy of compulsory magic training for individuals below the age of 21yrs, as well as the unique geography, played a major role in inflating this number. Nonetheless, the percentage of awakened warriors/individuals was unusual.
"Fucking cold!" Raymond grunted gazing at the white scenery in the distance.
Gelodesh was situated to the northern edge of the continent. To its north lied the cold, snow covered forests. The Northern Forest, as it was called, received heavy snowfall every winter and remained blanketed almost the whole year. As one went deeper into the forest, the number of prime beasts increased exponentially.
The Army base situated inside the forest reported several sightings of prime beasts during the summer. The hunt traditionally took place in summer, which was carried out to clear out these beasts that had wandered out from the depths.
Raymond mused about his cousin and sister. "I wonder how deep Rose and Lily went…" His tone was of intense longing. The path to the depths of the forest, visible out of the gates, reminded of the things he had missed.
The Northern Forests was largely an unknown factor in the continent's history. Before Gelodesh was established as a kingdom, no one had explored it, and the farthest expedition had only probed some tens of miles into the depths, stopping at a large lake, known as Badafloat.
When Raymond reached the gates, a number of people, who were just about to go out of the city, had lined up for inspection. It was done so that the city council could keep track of the nearby tribes' people coming inside the city.
Raymond rode to the front of the line where the guards on duty quickly let him pass through. He noticed that many of the guards were training their formations. A number of army captains were present as well, overseeing the drill.
Must be in preparation for my aunt's arrival.
"Good Morning, Sir Raymond," someone shouted in greeting towards him.
Raymond stopped his horse at hearing a somewhat familiar voice. He turned around to find a young man, not much older than himself, walking towards him at a brisk pace. The man had a powerful aura about him, typical of an awakened individual.
However, Raymond wasn't the least bit intimidated, and although he couldn't accurately tell the level of the man, he was sure his cousins were far stronger.
"Morning, Captain Fjord. What a pleasant surprise to meet you here!"
"It's always a pleasure to meet you, Sir Raymond," the captain replied curtly.
"What's this "Sir" business!? You have awakened your attribute now, so there's no need to address me as such." Captain Fjord only smiled politely to Raymond's remark.
Raymond shook his head, "Well, do as you please," he said distantly. "Is this all in preparation for my aunt's arrival?" Raymond asked, gesturing to the ongoing drill.
"Yes, sir. The marshal is set to arrive in a few hours, and we want to show her that the Ryhor base is not slacking off," Captain Fjord replied in a proud manner.
"How is the hunt going?"
"It is going very well. Lady Rose and Lady Lily have been a commanding presence. The morale of soldiers is always high when they are around."
"Good… good …" Raymond muttered, a look of longing covering his face. He turned and rode off without saying anything more.

Captain Fjord sighed in sympathy towards Raymond's predicament. He could still remember a few years back when he wasn't an awakened individual, just an ordinary guard. He would watch Raymond reverently, occasionally greeting him when he was placed on duty for inspection. Raymond had always been polite to him, a little impatient to get going for his daily training but polite regardless.
What a pity!
Captain Fjord shook his head and rejoined his ranks in overlooking the training drill.
***
Raymond was lost in his thoughts as he slowly rode through the road going north towards the forest. It would take him a bit of time to reach his base, as he liked to call it, at the rate he was going.
He felt troubled by the apathetic response of Miranda towards their kiss. He had wanted so much to apologize, but in the end, he chose not to do so. Miranda had seemed distant, and he couldn't work up the courage to talk to her. All of the elaborate plans he made during the walk from Shania's place to his home were ruined when she told him about his aunt's arrival.
After recovering from the initial shock of the news, he chickened out. During dinner, he had again tried to speak with Miranda; however, he got unnerved by the disappointed look on her face as he broached the topic.
As if all this was not enough, he was forbidden to go out and meet Shania. He was sure Miranda was punishing him for his actions, and he was beyond himself with worry. He felt tortured by Miranda's sudden coldness and couldn't catch a wink of sleep.
This is so fucked up. I should not have kissed her. She's never been this… she didn't even say a word. This is so…
"I hope she comes back to normal in a few days, otherwise… otherwise, I won't know what to do," Raymond muttered dispiritedly, as he interrupted his own thoughts.
For as long as Raymond could remember, Miranda was the one who spoiled him the most. She was never angry with him, never fought with him, even as children. He could deal with the violent and moody Rose. He was used to the aloofness of Lily. But he had a hard time dealing with this behavior of Miranda, even if just for a day.
It had always been the four of them together, earlier when they lived in Ostorth with his mother and then later when they moved to Ryhor.
It was almost a year after the three of them had awakened in the same week that they moved to Ryhor. So much had changed during that one year. Rose, who upon awakening her fire element, instantly became popular with the army officials. She started spending much of her time in the army headquarters, making Raymond jealous of her attribute and her newfound popularity among the warriors.
Lily, who was already the quietest of the bunch, became even more withdrawn. Most of her time would be spent on her magic training or reading through the records. Though she still made time for Raymond, it was not the same. Unlike Rose and Miranda, their twin cousins, Raymond and Lily were always close and used to do things together. Suzanne even used to joke about how Raymond and Lily were the only actual twins in the family.
However, Miranda had never changed; she remained the same kind, loving, caring cousin. She would give him pointers on his training, bring him some snacks, or just drag him to the markets to accompany her. Being royalty, much of their life was restricted. Their interactions with kids their own age were also limited. Miranda was his beacon of light through all the dark and lonely times in the royal capital.
After they first came to Ryhor, Rose reveled in the spotlight of being a rare fire element warrior. Rose, who was the wild child of the family, enjoyed the freedom of being away from the eyes of her mother and aunt. In contrast, Miranda had taken responsibility for the four of them.
It had been very difficult at first, living alone without any assistance from servants. Their traditional training called for them to be absolutely independent. It was odd in a sense, for the royalty of a kingdom to learn to do those things, but it was undebatable and non-negotiable for all the awakened warriors to partake in it. Raymond was affected the most since he was the youngest and had yet to awaken his attribute. He loathed this "tradition" of leaving the palace, living alone after one awakened their attribute.
It was during that time that Raymond realized how much Miranda cared about him. She would be on a constant lookout to make sure he was alright, that his training was not compromised, and that he was adjusting well. Sometimes that came at the expense of her own training, which prompted Rose to chide Raymond for being "such a baby".
Clang…
Raymond was pulled back to the present by the sound of metal clashing.
"Huh. What's this!? A prime beast?! This far out?!" Raymond quickly rode towards the source of the sound.
A few warriors were trying to bring down a beast which looked much like a bear.
"Oh! Only a magical beast," Raymond sighed in relief.
Clang
"Phew! What a scare!" he remarked and wiped the sweat off his brows. He observed the party trying to kill the beast. They worked well as a team. Three of them carried swords, while one particularly large man carried an axe. From the auras they were releasing, Raymond could tell there weren't any awakened ones among them. He remained seated on his horse, a good distance away so as to not distract their teamwork.
"Looks like they'll be fine. Some prime beast must have driven it out here. Four warriors against a single, Razor-Clawed Bear is definitely overkill…" Raymond muttered. He took his leave from the scene without alerting the party of his presence.
The Razor-Clawed Bear was a common magical beast in the Northern Forests. It had very sharp claws and considerable vitality. Though Raymond was confident in his ability to kill a Razor-Clawed Bear single-handedly, if he ever encountered its mutated counterpart, the Violet Horned Bear, his best option would be to flee from it… at least until he had awakened.
Prime beasts and magical beasts were worlds apart in strength. A single prime beast could easily overpower a small herd of magical beasts. Any party hunting for a prime beast must have more than a couple awakened beings in their ranks, else they could all be easily wiped out.
During the summertime, many prime beasts came out towards the outer parts of Northern Forests, pushing hordes of magical beasts to flee further outside and towards the city.
"I have to be careful; Lily mentioned something about unusual activity from beasts…"
People in Gelodesh earned most of their money by hunting these magical and prime beasts. The kingdom was scarce in natural resources and lacked significant agricultural lands. Magical beasts, though small in number, could easily take care of most of their needs. They were, of course, hunted for meat, but they also provided material for weapon processing, leather and hide for armor and, in some very rare cases, for obtaining magic stones harvested from the beast's corpse.
Summer was the ideal time to hunt and stock reserves. Though warriors could still hunt magical beasts in other seasons, it became difficult and the risks increased steeply. The Northern Forest was the only place to hunt for them, and it was very dangerous to go in when the snow had yet to melt. It was extremely hard to fight and sustain in that environment even for an awakened warrior, and a few of the magical beasts would become incomparably strong during that time.
The kingdom allowed for hunting, and the material obtained was owned by the party or individual. The tax was also nominal in regard. The beasts hunted by the kingdom were traded for the supplies needed, and the necessities thus obtained were rationed to the commoners. Typically, the army hunted only the prime beasts, leaving the magical beasts for the common people.
***
Raymond felt motivated after watching that scene of a few warriors hunting a magical beast. He sped up his steed and quickly reached his base.
"I have a good feeling today!" He dismounted and tied the horse to a nearby tree and went inside. The base, as he liked to call it, was nothing more than a cave he had carved out on a small hill.
The cave was a comparatively long one and provided him with a peaceful environment. He had already filled it with a futon and a blanket in preparation for a rainy day. He sat down in a comfortable, cross-legged position.
"Alright, let's try one more time to form the connection; maybe I will get lucky and awaken my attribute." Raymond psyched himself; for him, this was his daily ritual before he attempted to awaken.
Awakening, as it was known, entailed using the mana present in the atmosphere to give a shock to the mana pool. When successful, a half-awakened warrior, such as Raymond, would be able to evolve their mana pool and awaken their attribute.
Raymond circulated all his mana to his mana circuit. "Easy…"
Mana control, the ability to circulate mana, was the fundamental block for undergoing an evolution of the mana pool. As without sufficient proficiency in it, the process of awakening could backfire and blow up the body of the half-awakened warrior.
"Easy…" His mana was flowing vigorously and sweat covered his skin. He breathed deeply and slowly made contact with nature's mana. "Easy…" Just when it seemed like the mana present around him, nature's mana, would invade his body and fry his mana circuits, he channeled all his own mana back inside the mana pool.
"Fuck!" He screamed and fell down.
It was a resounding failure. The impact brought about by the sudden contact was not sufficient, and he couldn't use it to evolve the nature of his mana pool. "Fuck! So painful!"
"Why! Why do I always fail?!" Raymond had sufficient confidence in his ability to manipulate and control mana inside his body, but he was baffled by his continued failure to awaken. He exercised precise control for each of his attempts but still came up short. "I easily progressed from a magic warrior to a half-awakened warrior, so why am I stuck on the easier step?!"
A human became a magic warrior after he was able to manipulate the mana inside his body. The number of them wasn't small, and they made up the majority of numbers in any kingdom's army. The next step for a magic warrior was to become able to interact with nature's mana. A very large portion of them could never do it, could never reach that step to become half-awakened warriors.
"Arggh! So frustrating!" Raymond was infuriated as he waited for his mana to recover. He had been proud, proud of his achievement to be so accomplished in mana control. Though Lily was miles ahead of him in that regard, he could disregard it as a freakish case. However, he felt like a complete failure, unable to reach that next step. His heart felt heavy and sad as he inspected the condition of his mana pool. "Just fucking evolve already!"
Evolving the mana pool was the necessary step to cross the divide between a half-awakened warrior and an awakened warrior. The first thing required for evolving was to have a jam-packed mana pool. After that, the individual must have an apt level of mana control. It was essential because without it the individual wouldn't be able to fully circulate their mana through their entire mana network.
"I am convinced the problem is not with my mana circuits, so I don't understand why the fuck I still can't awaken!!" Raymond punched at the wall until his hands felt numb.
Circulation of mana and then aiming for the split second that the entirety of it interacted with nature's mana was what he needed to do to evolve his mana pool and awaken his attribute. However, he kept failing again and again.
"Fuck! I can't give up!" The pain from the earlier try had passed away. The impact on his mana pool had also stabilized. He thought about happy memories, such as awakening the fire attribute, to cheer himself up for another try. "Okay… Okay… I can do it!"
Attribute and evolution of the mana pool were closely linked. The instant when the entire mana of a half-awakened came in contact with the nature's mana, they had to promptly circulate it back to their mana pool, lest a mishap occurred.
That moment, that split second, was when the attribute of an individual was decided, and they would become an awakened. Because of this mutation of mana inside the mana pool, it would undergo an evolution. Although the chance to awaken an attribute different from one's clan members was small, it wasn't unheard of.
"I can't be the only one left behind… no way, dammit!" There was a feeling of desperation inside Raymond, even as he tried to calm his mind. "Definitely, I will do it too! I'll also awaken!"
A half-awakened and a magic warrior didn't have a lot of difference in strength; however, it was completely opposite in the case of an awakened. And that was where the desperation stemmed from for Raymond. The feeling of being powerless and inferior drove him to unrest.

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