The story will follow Esther around for 4-5 chapters in the "main" storyline before shifting to an interlude of a few chapters of other relevant characters and events. Then I'll go back and repeat.

The interludes are more focused on setting building but also contain plot relevant information.

The first part, which is technically until Chapter 5, will be followed by an Esther segment.

In the Age of the Gods,

Gods came down and made the world

Sea and land, plant, beast and men

Men were new the child of gods

They cried out, yearning for life

In the Age of the Land,

Men lived free, along the ground

Plants grew tall and beasts grew strong

Men were weak and were in fear

They cried out, yearning for light

In the Age of the Men,

Men grew tall, walked over all

His works rose and beasts cowered

Men were strong and marched to war

They cried out, yearning for death

In this Age of the Sky,

Men fly high, above the clouds

Our works soar and beasts are gone

Are we weak or are we strong?

Do we cry?

- A traditional poem by Unknown Bard; circa 500 years ago

700 years ago

"Signatures approaching from Sector 4! Count 261!"

"Perimeter lines taking fire!"

"Data intrusion on CnC network! Engaging information defense protocols!"

Mina carefully crafted the last piece of magic and the insanely complex assembly clicked into place. The shell around a new weapon. Hopefully the last weapon.

"It's ready," she said, almost quietly.

Her sister, Miyo, touched her lightly on the arm, as if trying to comfort her, but Mina brushed it off. The images of the small nameless grave and of her husband jumping off the top of the Central Tower were too fresh to ignore.

Even so, she gulped as the custom built magical bullet of the huge magical cannon rotated into position, amid multiple confirmations. Their enemies were vicious, but it wasn't like Mina hadn't been. At least after she miscarried from the last attack. Making weapons for the final struggle of Lys's failing defences, struggling to find a more efficient method to kill, was not like her. And this weapon would be the deadliest of all.

"Ready to fire. "

"Magical consumption stable, Grey Mist is ready to deploy. "

Mina held her breath for a moment, this was the weapon that would end the war once and for all, kill every single last one of their enemies. A self-replicating weapon, one single shot was enough. It would spread and kill everyone else in the world too, but it seemed like the whole world was against them now anyway. Behind her, another magical explosion highlighted a breach in their defensive lines.

"Fire it. "

And the world ended.

400 years ago

Tezmon hurried down the hallway, wood planks echoing his footsteps, as the wailing siren blared its warning. "Aphenasia incident in ward 4B!"

"Again?" he panted out as he came to a halt outside the magically shielded ward.

"Yes, this drug is also unsatisfactory," his supervisor said, writing it elegantly into the stack of notepaper with a pen.

Tezmon looked past the Crystal walls of the ward holding the third generation magic amplified human. The young boy must not be much more than ten years old. Uncontrolled bursts of magic splashed against the magical shields surrounding him.

"Do you think it is even possible to control these outbursts?"

"Yes. "

Tezmon eyed his supervisor again, unsure where the man got his confidence from.

"Now, my good student, tell me again why we need stable Araels?"

He sighed internally, his supervisor just loved asking spot questions. Tezmon had lost count of the number of things he had to memorize over the past year just to humour the man.

"Araels, magically amplified human beings, are an alternative to our magical technology. The human population is growing too small to sustain our previous levels of sophistication, so Araels, which can learn to perform many of the same functions, make perfect replacements. Araels are controlled by restricting their magical usages to certain trigger conditions with certain family themes, but this can be overcome by strong emotion.

Furthermore, while Araels are magically and biologically similar to human beings, their lifeforce continuously loses magic; they are essentially no more than slightly inefficient, very flexible magical devices. It is convenient that they feel increasing pain and exhaustion as their approach their limit beyond which they become unstable.

Araels will grow unstable if strong emotion causes them to drain their lifeforce by more than they can survive, which results in an uncontrolled explosion of magic, something that normal trigger conditions cannot do. We require a stable Arael because unstable Araels are just like magical devices that can explode violently without warning. "

"Perfect, Tezmon! Just like in a lecture. Now tell me why this boy is so special?"

"Thank you, sir. Unlike normal Aphenasia where Araels kill themselves, he doesn't die. When undergoing strong emotion, the boy is also highly susceptible to Aphenasia even though it normally only occurs at critically low magic levels and he certainly isn't low. "

"Good man! I foresee a fine future as a lecturer or teacher for you!"

Tezmon sighed again, he had no intention of becoming a teacher of any sort.

320 years ago

"Your name is Tir and you are an Arael. You belong to Weinbar. "

That was the first thing she had been told once she could understand. Waking up slowly in the glassy tank, learning how to talk, learning her place in life. Before she could even speak well, Tir had started to learn magic.

Era, a girl a few years older than Tir, held out a tuning fork and struck it. A small block of crystallized Earth magic grew on the table and the girl nodded at Tir. Tir recited the poem as she was told to memorize and soon enough, a slightly smaller block of Earth was on her side of the table.

She grinned at Mauricio, the guard who was supposed to keep her safe and followed her everywhere. This was the first time she was actually trying out a spell without direct supervision from her Arael teachers. They wanted to see if Tir could learn by herself. Since this clearly showed that she could learn just by herself now, she wouldn't need to be forced to learn from the scary teachers anymore.

"Look here!" Era said, striking a different tone, "I can do this too!"

A ball of red hovered in front of her, shedding heat like a candle.

A tune immediately leapt to mind and Tir discarded the memorized keys she had learnt and reserved for new spells. A slightly playful and nonsensical song seemed to fit the ball of Fire perfectly, wavering and dancing.

Era grinned back as Tir made her own ball of flame, she struck the metal fork again and her fireball grew bigger. Tir shifted her song in response and poured out her magic, if Era wanted to compete, then...

There was a noise that flattened everything else and Tir felt a huge pressure on her body throw her across the room. A dull pain was building all down the front of her body and she dimly remembered whimpering uncontrollably. Mauricio bending over her with a needle dripping some clear liquid was the last she remembered.

The next week, after she had recovered from the burns, Tir was told that a new Arael would be teaching her and that she would not see Era again. That sing-song tune was never mentioned and she did not use it anymore.