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Prologue

Cold stone floors. Blank white walls. Harsh fluorescent lighting. The room is anything but welcoming, and the dozens of unconscious and dead mages that were gathered in the room, trapped there by anti-magic cuffs says nothing different. I am standing in front of the wall across from the doorway, that is lined with a poison for every effect imaginable and more. The small cart beside me has 12 syringes, separated evenly. Today I need to adjust the experiments’ lungs to their element, so I have several special syringes set aside just for that. A shiver runs down my spine at the very thought of getting to my favorite part of this process. After several surgeries, resulting in the death of at least two dozen images, I have a pool of several promising individuals for each element. This is where my fun begins, and when the mages finally get turned into weapons of destruction.

I’ve decided that what I have will be enough for today, and wheel the cart over to a young girl with softly curled brown hair. She’s fighting to keep her eyes open though manages to watch my every move. I shake my head and give her a condescending look.

“My dear, there’s no need to resist sleep. Soon, this will all be over, and you shall have every human being begging at your feet!” I’m nearly singing as I say it, and the girl looks beyond disgusted at my display. She appears ready to spit in my direction for such a heinous comment, and I’m guessing she would have if she had saliva to spare. I slink up to left her side and drag a single finger along her jawline. Her muscles grew taut as I trace my way up to her earlobe and reach for a few locks of hair. Experimentally, I tug, and when she fails to react to his ministrations, I yank down. Hard. She shrieks in anguish, and I smile wickedly.

“Ah, by far, you’re my favorite test subject, Kalina. You resist me so, but I can tell you are slowly losing that fiery spirit of yours. I know you want to give up, and I’ve got all these pretty needles that have yet to be acquainted with you.”

Just to prove my point, I remove my hand from her hair and picks up a syringe filled with an orange liquid that flows easily within its container. I place the point on the inside of her forearm, piercing the skin quite easily because of its sharp end. I press on the end of the syringe, the liquid draining into her arm and watch as she squirms at the discomfort but stays virtually silent.

“No need to hold back dear, I love to hear you scream.” I purr, but the girl gives me no such satisfaction. I pull out the needle rather harshly at her defiance, and she squeaks a little this time, but her mouth remains closed. She appears to be quite confused, though, because other than a little pain from the injection and removal of the needle, no ill effects have taken place. She becomes wary of the way I intently stare at her arm, and she takes a glance down though nothing seems out of the ordinary.

All of the sudden, she jerks up, her eyes blowing wide, her mouth open in an ear-piercing wail that pulls several of her roommates into the conscious world. Her skin appears to be boiling at and around the injection area, bursting and bubbling with blisters. My eyes light up in excitement as I watch her arm explode in angry red splotches.

“Ah, isn’t science so wonderful?” I cheer, my voice nearly drowned out by the girls pained screams. “The liquid is mostly dormant, but once it combines with those white blood cells of yours, it reacts violently, creating such an explosive reaction. Can you feel your skin slowly burning, the poison spreading? I know that I can see its movement, but can you feel as it slowly travels up your arm?” I explain the process animatedly, waving my hands wildly. This is definitely something I enjoy, and Kalina has to wonder how in the world such a young boy could be so twisted.

I place a finger experimentally on a blister, and she screams. Urged on by her reaction, I scrape my fingernail along the inflamed skin, and she lets out another cry. "Stop, stop, stop!" She pleads through her sobs, her breath hiccuping. I remove my hand, and she takes in huge gulps of air, attempting to calm her breathing down.

I wipe my hand on her shirt, that has long since been reduced to rags. Once a pristine white, it was now crusty with dried blood, and painted with various liquids. It's the least of the girl’s worries, however because the large ugly scar underneath proves how corrupted she's become during her stay in Chaos Prophet. The lacrima inside her chest spreads magic energy throughout her system, and she's attempted to rip it out it out several times in order to rid herself of the evidence that she was stupid enough to get captured. Weak enough to be overtaken by those driven mad by power lust. Tears begin to prick at her eyes for a different reason, and she can't seem to care as I pick up another syringe. This time, the contents are steel blue, and I place the point where the orange one had been. Injecting the shiny liquid, the blisters stop spreading, and her skin cools considerably. The girl sighs contentedly, her body going lax at the relief, and I smile a dastardly smile, to which her closed eyes do not see. All she knows is that the burning feeling is gone and that she's spent beyond words.

“This lovely injection is killing your white blood cells, and preventing them from flowing near the injection site." At my words, Kalina starts, and she leans forward in anticipation in what he has to say next. "It’ll stop your current predicament, but now you’ve gotta deal with the infections that you will no doubt get, will spread tenfold without white blood cells to kill them.” I say, my words light, but to Kalina their weight is much more. She gives me pleading gaze but I quickly dismiss it and her eyes are drained of any hope of escape or even a moment of relief.

“Now, I don’t want to utterly exhaust you,” That's a blatant lie because I’d love for her to suffer forever if she could stay awake that long. “I’ll move on to my next patient after your final shot,” I say it like a normal doctor would on a day of regular check-ups, and only the cart full of poisons says differently. Her face relaxes at the prospect of relief from this pain, but she still breaks down into tears, and I can only think she is an idiot for wasting her body’s supply of water. Grabbing a syringe filled with a yellow mixture, I place it on the left side of her neck. The liquid is dispelled from the container, and from Kalina’s heavy breathing, I know it's traveled into her bloodstream.

Electricity jumps from her skin, reaching me even though I have backed up a full three feet away from her. Her magic power is so immense and this is only the first time she’s been injected. If her sister is anything like her, I can see how she was able to wipe out Shattered Dusk all on her own.

Kalina’s harsh breaths are becoming a bit more even, and the effects are wearing off. Her magic energy is dropping dramatically, and the air no longer has an electric current.

As the last of the effects wear off, Kalina doesn’t even have enough energy to adjust into a more comfortable position, and once her eyes are closed, she slips into the veil of sleep, I inject her with a hazy purple liquid, and she makes a sour face. She begins mumbling incoherently, and she shifts back and forth, her peaceful sleep destroyed as she dreams of the blood of innocents on her hands.

I push the cart up next to a boy older than Kalina, who looks just as worn, if slightly less. His hair is plastered to his forehead with sweat, and his normally pale skin looks translucent and sickly under the bright lights. His red eyes are blankly turned in the direction of the ceiling, but they are so out of focus he can’t see it at all. His gaze shows that the treatment he’s been subjected to is taking a serious toll on his psyche, and he visibly flinches when he hears the squeaking of the cart’s wheels along the concrete floors.

"Well, Doc what have you got for me today?" Chase, the older male, questions, his tone deflated and raspy from dehydration and from the pain-filled screams that have ravaged his throat. He hardly seems ready for any sort of treatment that I Will give him, but he can't exactly fight against him. Despite my appearance, I hold enough magic power to fight everyone in this room at once, not that it has anything to do with the fact that I’m the only one who’s properly hydrated and fed. Chase seems ready to lunge at me every time he sees my face, though has enough sense to remain in his chair, unlike a certain Inari who has tried and failed to even lay a finger on me.

I grab a syringe, which accommodated with an indigo mixture that lets off magical energy like the yellow one I’d given Kalina. This one exudes pressure instead of electricity, and the syringe itself is metal as to not crack under the intensity. I place the tip on his neck and drain the magical energy into his body.

Chase struggles to exhale as the foreign magic power runs through his body, filling his lungs until they are fit to burst. His chest heaves as he tries to rid himself of the strange air filling his lungs, his throat burning with the effort. The lacrima that has been placed inside his chest begins to react with the magic energy inside the mixture from the syringe, causing his magical aura to grow at a rapid rate, encompassing him and the area around him in mere seconds. The ethernano in the air was instantly sucked away, and it fed Chase’s growing magical aura though he couldn’t even notice anything happening outside of himself. His magic power is about a third of what Kalina’s was, yet I’m still amazed at the potential the Sky Magic user has. Unfortunately, the raven haired boy isn’t even conscious enough to realize how tremendous his power was, and I decide right then and there that I’m going to inject him with poison to teach him a lesson. I survey the several poisons that I can use, and periodically glance to Chase as he continues to thrash about in the chair trying to bring in better air and force this terrible stuff out of his lungs.

"Come on Chase, you've nearly completed your transformation. If you can just pass this final test, you can guide the wind to your every whim." I coo, my words encouraging, but the dangerous glint in my eyes tells Chase that failure is not an option, and the consequences of such will not land him a spot even among the living, let alone Chaos Prophet’s ranks.

His magic aura shrinks and expands with each wavering breath he takes in, and he looks extremely close to passing out, but still he continues to struggle. He won't fail and become one of the several bodies that lie lifeless on the ground. I turn away from him, and Chase worries that he's already failed but if that were the case, I would've called for him to be removed from the chair. Chase’s magic energy becomes much steadier as he realizes this fact, and I smirk knowingly, marking a few things on a piece of paper. Once the magical aura disappears, under full control of the Wind Mage, he rests his head back down onto the chair

I grab a syringe filled with a viscous clear liquid. Placing the point on Chase’s arm, who’s too tired to really care, I inject him with whatever it is that’s inside. The toxin makes Chase’s head explode with pain, and he grits his teeth in order to shove down his screams. His eyes are tightly shut, and he clenches his fists until his fingernails are dug so far in his palm that they draw blood. It isn't as though he can feel anything besides the pulsating sensation in his head anyways, so he’ll just have to worry about that later. I shift so my face is right near his ear, and let out a raucous laugh, and Chase grits his teeth harder, writhing in the chair. While his attention is focused on the pain, I grab a small vial filled with a lavender mixture and open the top. Resting it under his nose, when he breathes it in, he relaxes, though it's still obvious he’s in pain from the way he continues to clench his jaw. After another thirty seconds, Chase goes virtually limp as he falls asleep. I step quietly around him as I move to the next person.

This time, I stop next to a girl, who is older than the Inari, but younger than Chase. Her appearance is nowhere near as messy as the other two, and she seems quite normal, aside from tattered clothes and signs of malnutrition, but everybody who isn’t an official guild member shares this feature. Her chair is placed in an upright position, and the girls arms have a distinct lack of bruises where the cuffs are locked. This patient has no qualms with her treatment, and it shows. She doesn't react at all when I approach her and watches the room with obvious disinterest. Her purple eyes are glazed over in boredom, and I ponder over how easily she has resigned to her fate, and how easy it has been thus far to turn her into the perfect weapon.

I gain her attention with a snap of my fingers, and while she seems no more interested than one might be while watching paint dry, I at least know she's looking my way. Nothing was worse than being ignored, and it wasn't something that I was going tolerate when I had complete control over every being in this room. A smile tugs at the corner of my lips at the thought and the malice hidden underneath is enough to make the girl pay closer attention.

I pick up a syringe from the cart, that contains a slick black liquid, oil-like in appearances and texture. I place the syringe on her neck and inject it and her chest expands as the magic energy courses through her. Her breathing becomes ragged just like the other two before her, and her purple gaze bores holes into the floor as she fights to gain control over her breathing. She’s able to do so in only a few seconds longer than the Inari girl, and I can hardly contain my excitement at the fact. Osias was right in his selection of the girl, and while it did mean I didn’t get to experiment as much, it did mean that I would get more free reign after the downfall of Koma Inu.

"Melanie, your ability to adjust to the new magic is astounding. Is it because you trust me?" I ask, and the smile on my face is anything but sweet. She simply nods her head in assent, though it's clear from her gaze that she demonstrates at least some restraint in trusting me completely. Because of me, she gets to remain in the guild and gain these new powers. There isn’t a single doubt in my mind that she would still be out on the streets if it weren’t for Osias, and more importantly me.

I chuckle at her response, or lack thereof, and tidy up the cart where all the syringes sit. I grab a syringe with a green toxin and place the point on her left forearm. She clenches her teeth in preparation of what’s to come, though what’s to come has her in shock. As soon as the poison is injected, her muscles begin to go lax, until she can no longer feel it. It continues to spread up past her shoulder and into her chest and then she can no longer move to even breathe. Panic arises on her face though she manages to keep whatever air she has inside. I watch, pleased, as she slowly loses consciousness, and in only two minutes is she out. I check her pulse, and to her luck, it beats slowly, though steadily against my finger. I grab another syringe, place it in the same spot as the one before, and inject it. Her chest expands slowly as she draws in air, but she stays asleep when I move on to the next person.

The next person I go to looks like something directly out of a fairy tale. Her eyes glisten like freshly fallen snow, and her hair is pure white, with a black ombre towards the bottom. However, it’s extremely stiff with tears and sweat that had been frozen by her icy magic energy. Her porcelain skin is also tattered with bruises and ugly red marks, and black circles hang under her red-rimmed eyes.

Out of all the candidates, she was the best for the Ice Magic, but she still refused to accept the 'gift' she was given when she was ‘welcomed’ into Chaos Prophet. There wasn’t anyone else who could've taken on the magic and lived, but I still wonder if my guild mates really meant that, or just wanted to make my job less enjoyable. I shake my head at the thought, because even though my guild mates would never try to make my life easier, this was an essential part of their plan, and they wouldn’t mess with the ring master. I quite liked being so important, and I never failed to lift my chin a bit higher when I announced my rank as Head of Experimentation.

Seeing me approach, she goes absolutely still and follow my movements intently. She watches as I pull the cart to a stop, grab a syringe filled with an icy blue liquid and stab the needle into her neck. She doesn't make the slightest reaction, which rubs me the wrong way, but I remain calm as I inject her.

As the magical energy flows into her, Iridesence is overcome with a frigid cold. Her chest barely moves, and the possibility she'll die of suffocation is highly probable, but it's not as though she'll be truly missed. She didn't talk to any of the others and barely made any signs that she was alive other than the rising and falling of her chest. I definitely won't miss her lack of screams, and would gladly replace her with someone more talkative if they could survive such experimentation.

The magic assaults her lungs, altering them until it feels like she breathing in cold. The icy feeling in her lungs is suffocating, but she can't even cough to try and rid herself of this feeling. Her mouth is tightly closed, and her nostrils barely move. If I didn't know any better, I would've assumed she was dead. My hazel eyes lock onto her white ones, and I breathe in easy and steady breaths, which fills her with a rage she doesn't allow herself to show. My eyebrows knit at her lack of emotion though I remain still as I continue to taunt her with the easy way I breathe.

I quickly grow tired of this game, and my childish impatience shines through. “Iridescence, I’ve had enough of your defiance! You better show me just what you're feeling, or else!” I shout, my eyes wild as I stare at the pale girl. Her only response is an eye roll, and something inside me snaps. The words Fire and Burn appear in front of me and lock onto her wrist. She muffles a cry of pain, to which I raise the intensity of the flames, changing from orange to green. Her skin is seared, and charred pieces begin to fall onto her lap. She clenches her eyes shut, and grabs onto her forearm, trying to will the flames away.

“Sing for me.” I purr, my eyes watching the flames blaze brightly on her wrist. Iridescence screeches only to get this wretched punishment over with, and the flames are quickly extinguished with a wave of my hand. She stares at her burnt wrist, which is red where it isn’t black, and blisters are already forming. I take a single fingernail along the tender skin, which causes Iridescence to yelp out of surprise and pain. I chuckle as I walk away from her, moving on to my next experiment.

The next Soon-To-Be-Dragon-Slayer had a very relaxed feeling about him, and his extremely developed body shows signs of having previous training in combat. I approach the young man, the cart of syringes glinting dangerously, yet both of our features remain cool and collected. I pull out a syringe filled with a liquid earthy in tone. I place the tip on his shoulder, injecting the magic power filled liquid. Caine doesn’t move an inch as he’s pricked, nor as the liquid magic energy is injected. When the magic energy begins to react with the lacrima stored in his chest, he lets out choked gasp, his chest expanding, but no air goes in. Watching him, I shake my head. There wasn’t any way he could have made it through. He was so adamant about becoming a Dragon Slayer, but I told him at least three times he’s not going to be able to support such a strong magic. Now he’s going to die.

I turn and go to move the cart onto the next person when I hear a shaky exhale from where the earth mage is sitting. No way… I turn around to see a struggling, but still very alive Caine. He’s desperately trying to force out the gritty feeling in his lungs, his throat aching with the effort. I watch with mild interest, a small smirk pulling at my lips.

It’s at least three minutes later when he can get air into his lungs, and while his chest is still heaving with the effort to efficiently supply himself with oxygen, I at least knows he’s not going to suffocate. I look at the older male with amusement and mark a few things on a sheet of paper. He relaxes in the chair he’s been assigned, slipping into a dreamless sleep almost instantly. I watch over him for a few moments longer but then move onto the next person.

The next mage is locked into her chair much more securely, both her wrists and ankles locked with anti-magic cuffs, and she’s even fitted into the chair with a thick band over her waist. The girl looks quite peaceful with her eyes closed, her golden hair flowing out around her head, her breathing peaceful and easy. I pull out a syringe filled with a sickly green substance and place the needle on the girl’s arm without arousing her from sleep. After injecting the poison, almost instantly does her body react. Her eyes fly open, and her lips part in a pain filled cry. The poison flows through her veins, flowing through every vein. Bruises form underneath her skin, and it feels no less painful than being struck with a hammer.

“Glad to see your awake.” I hum, messing with a few things on my cart. I grab another syringe, this time filled with a violet toxin. I place the end on her other arm, and she lets out a shriek as it takes effect. Her skin is tingling, and there’s no way she can possibly relieve the itch she feels spreading down to her fingertips and up to her shoulder and farther. She whines at the sensation, desperately trying to end it by shimmying and shaking her body against her bonds. I simply watch her wriggle in discomfort and the bruises grow in number. I press a finger to a bruise on her bicep, and Lyla cries out. With a devilish grin, I add a distinct amount of pressure to the same spot, and her breathing becomes ragged as she tries to contain her screams. I remove my hand once she can no longer utter a single sound, and stare at the nearly black mark on her arm.

I take a blue syringe, and inject it into the arm that had the violet mix injected into it moments ago. The itch she once felt is calmed, and no ill effects take place. However, without the crawling feeling in her skin, she can only feel the intense explosions of pain every time a new bruise forms. She bites her bottom lip to distract herself, and blood seeps from between her teeth only a second after she closes her jaw.

“I understand how unfair it may seem that you get to test out the majority of my poisons, and the others are stuck with theirs. But, since you already have Dragon Slayer abilities, I don’t need to expand your lungs or anything like that. Isn’t it exciting?” My voice touches on sarcastic as I speak, and Lyla looks as though she wants to speak, though is fighting against it. I smirk as I grab the same vial I had used on Chase and place it under her nose. She’s smart enough to stop breathing, but that won’t last long, and we both know that. Small tendrils of purple smog float out of the glass and wrap around her chin and up her face. As it creeps up into her nasal cavity, she sneezes, and it's all over. Just like Chase, within thirty seconds she’s out like a light. I place a stopper over the vial and place it back on the cart, before trekking to the next person.

The next person I dread approaching. It’s not so much fear as it is a gut feeling that I shouldn’t approach, and it has a lot to do with the muzzle across his mouth and the secure system in which he’s been placed into the chair. His ankles and wrists are bound tightly in anti-magic cuffs, and several have been molded together to hold him down at the chest, waist, thighs, and shins. He’s asleep, but I plan to keep it that way to the best of my abilities.

I pull out a blood red poison, and quickly inject it into his neck, which causes him to stir, but miraculously he remains asleep. I give myself a mental pat on the back, and remove the syringe, placing it back on the cart, and moving it and myself a few feet away as the magic begins to course through him. His black eyes flip open, and he instantly begins to struggle against the bindings, and I flinch instinctively. His chest pushes against the thick band over it as he tries to breathe after being assaulted by the magic energy in the mixture. The air has gone putrid, and nearly everybody startles awake at the smell; blood. Everyone peers over at the source, and I’m somewhat relieved by that fact. If he goes berserk and breaks free, I won’t hesitate to push all of them in his way to secure my safety. With them being awake if I unlock their chains will certainly make them dash, which will focus his attention to them.

Kizuato’s eyes take on an carnivorous gleam when he finally realizes the smell in the air, and his breathing almost immediately calms. I stare at him in shock and realize just how obsessive he is. There’s no way we can actually put him into a battle. He’ll kill anybody if they smell like blood! I think, and I think to make sure I am kept away from the Dragon Slayers during the attack, especially this one. I don’t even think to bring out the vial with the sleep-inducing scent, and quite frankly, I don’t want to get close enough to try it. I wheel my cart away from him as he continues to look around for the source of the smell that his own magic energy has produced.

After that terrible excursion, I think I deserve a little break, and head over to a girl who appears to be around my age, even though she has quite a few years on me. Her silvery white hair is cropped short, only adding to her child-like appearance, and her green eyes are wide with curiosity and fear though it's most likely more of the latter. She stares at the cart of syringes, though, from the obtuse angle of the chair, she has to crane her neck quite a bit.

“Be patient,” I snap, and she instantly presses the back of her head to the chair, locking her gaze to the ceiling above her. I smirk, grabbing a syringe, and injecting it into her shoulder. Her skin sizzles audibly, and small shocks of electricity jump from her skin. She screams out in agony while I watch with sparked interest.

After a few minutes, the electricity has all flowed from out of her system and into the leather of her seat, and down into the ground. She still shudders in pain, and tears continue to flow freely down her face.

Theia stares at me. begging and pleading with her eyes, though she keeps her mouth closed. I can guess that she does so in order to prevent herself from letting out any sobs. I leave her after that, as I have no need to inject her with the special magic energy. She just needed a power modification, as she already had Dragon Slayer abilities. She relaxes into her chair as I walk away from her, and I hear her breathe out a shaky sigh of relief.

My last patient has quite a few years on everybody in this room though his exact age he refrains from sharing. His deep purple hair is mussed, though it appears to be so more because of lack of care, rather than thrashing about. The implication of the lacrima was virtually a painless process for both of us, and while the absence of painful screams once deterred me, I’m quite positive he will be the driving force in our mercenary. This will ultimately give me even more people to test on, so I surmise it's a win-win between us. I don’t bother with trying to elicit some sort of scream from him, and grab a syringe, colored dark silver with its contents. I inject it into his neck, and he doesn’t flinch the slightest bit. The expansion of his lungs adds a bit or stress to his features, but he otherwise remains emotionless. A few long minutes pass, and while he didn’t have the best recovery time, it certainly wasn’t the worst. Cloud looks over at me for confirmation that his treatment is over, to which I do not respond

“Raise your head.” I instruct, and he complies with no hesitation. I grab a syringe filled with a foggy white substance and inject it into the back of his neck. I quickly move my hand and the syringe out of the way, and he is knocked out cold. “Your memories will be blocked off with this. It doesn’t have enough power to erase them, but will certainly do the trick.” I say, even though my words will fall upon deaf ears.

I walk back through all of the candidates, not bothering to rouse those who sleep into consciousness, and simply lift their heads for them. I finish injecting every one of them with the memory-blocking substance, and not a single one who is awake bothers to question the substance, or at least doesn’t have time to before they slip under its influence. I leave the room after that and go to Gavin’s office to report the success. Soon Fiore will be in our grasp and those stupid guilds won’t know what hit them until they’re dead. I enter his office with a triumphant smile on my face.

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