59 Magnus and the Dark Mage
Five months before Noctis Noir was established, Razette Epsilon walked into the Jupiter headquarters seeking membership. She needed a quick way of boosting her skills and joining a guild was a great way of doing that.
Donned in her dark blue corseted dress and silver cape, she pushed the large wooden doors open and let herself in. It was such a majestic entrance that the two recruiters immediately turned their heads and waited until she reached the middle of the wide room and spoke. "I'm looking for the guild recruiters. I want to join Jupiter."
Two mages appeared before her. One was Magnus, currently one of the guild's official recruiters. Beside him was Frisk, one of the assistant recruiters.
"What's your name?" Magnus asked while folding his arms.
"It's finally a cute girl! Ok, you're in," Frisk said with a thumbs up.
"Frisk! Don't skip all the steps!"
"We've only been getting male recruits. We need more girls in the guild!"
Magnus sighed. "Anyway, you can get in if you pass the test."
"I'm ready. Let's hurry up and finish this." Epsilon had her staff ready.
"Listen, Jupiter is the best mage guild in this world. We get a lot of applicants, but we accept only the best. Our test is simple. You just need to defeat four of our guildmaster's summoned golems. Each golem has a different property: wind, water, fire, and ice. Use whatever strategy and spells you have to exploit their weaknesses."
Magnus removed four glass cubes from his inventory. Inside each of them were temporarily frozen golems created by their guildmaster. Using a wind spell, he broke the glass and summoned all four of them at once. The golems towered over them. They were about thrice their average height.
He continued, "Our guildmaster's specialty is his summoned golems, so defeating them might be tough for a mage with their high magic and physical defense. Good luck!"
Epsilon prepared to charge her area of effect spell. Her staff glowed purple, indicating the spell property.
"A dark mage?" Frisk was surprised. "I haven't seen one in a long time."
"Oh? Interesting." Magnus was already intrigued.
Although mages could learn spells from all property skill trees, mages in Aries usually went for fire and ice as their main spell properties. It was rare for a mage to choose the dark property skill tree for their main attacks. This was because players often took advantage of monsters' elemental weakness. Dark property only had an advantage on holy. However, the enduring debuffs and status effects that come with the dark spells were often overlooked.
Epsilon activated her spell, Cursed Tree. An apple tree grew in front of her and the ground color around her changed to black. The golems couldn't approach her and were damaged every time they tried to enter the cursed space.
She cast two more spells that placed debuffs and a status effect that lowered their health every few seconds. Once she finished, she yawned, took out her portable sleeping bag, and slept beside the cursed tree she summoned.
"What is she doing!?" Magnus exclaimed. An applicant taking a nap in the middle of a test? It was unheard of!
"She's probably just waiting for the golems to die from her spells," replied Frisk.
"Doesn't she plan on attacking or something? This is a battle!"
"Will you guys be quiet? I'm trying to nap," Epsilon complained.
Magnus angrily pointed his finger at her. "This is supposed to be a test! This isn't the time for a nap!"
She shrugged. "You said I just had to defeat them. You mentioned no rules against napping."
"She has a point." Frisk nodded.
"Frisk! Whose side are you on!?" Magnus shook his friend.
Epsilon yawned. "Anyway, the golems will be dead soon. I'm not gonna bother casting more needless spells." She went back to sleep.
After a few minutes of waiting, the golems were defeated.
"Over already?" Epsilon rubbed her eye, got up, and kept her sleeping bag.
Frisk was ecstatic. "Congratulations! You're in the guild!" He threw confetti in the air. Some of it landed on Magnus' head. Magnus shook off the confetti like a dog.
"Hold on just a second!" Magnus wasn't satisfied with the way she lazily aced the test.
"What's wrong, Magnus?" Frisk asked.
"I fulfilled the conditions, didn't I?" Epsilon tilted her head.
"Now, now, Magnus. Every person has their own unique fighting style. Don't take it out on her. We could use a dark mage in the guild as well. It's good to have some variety." The Jupiter guildmaster appeared behind them and placed a hand on the angry recruiter's shoulder. "You're in charge of showing Epsi around and teaching her the guild rules. You two get along now."
"What!?" Magnus was shocked.
Frisk stared in envy. "I'm so jealous!"
Epsilon faced Magnus and smirked. "I guess I'm your junior now."
Magnus' face turned sour, as if he accidentally ate the poisoned version of Pizza Noir.
It was a smirk that would haunt him for a long time.
"Today, we're heading out in teams to complete the weekly guild quests. Consider it as training for the upcoming Guild War event," announced the guildmaster.
The Jupiter mages were all gathered at the courtyard with their respective questing teams. One particular mage appeared rather upset about the choice of team members.
"Why are you in my team!?" Magnus was annoyed to the core.
Epsilon shrugged. "Cause the guildmaster said so."
He sighed. "I will have a word with him later."
"Why are you so triggered? You're like a social justice keyboard warrior." Epsilon asked while she casually ate a bowl of noodles. "You want? It's from my family's shop."
Magnus folded his arms. "I still haven't accepted you yet as a member of Jupiter!"
"Is that so? I guess it will take some time before it sinks in." She slurped her noodles.
Frisk sighed. "Give her a break, Magnus. She just joined the guild. At least give her a proper welcome."
"Humph. I will once I accept her." Magnus stubbornly folded his arms like a child who refused to admit his mistake.
"What does it take to accept her?"
Magnus paused to think. "If she wins against me in a duel."
"Isn't that a little too much?" A drop of sweat trickled down Frisk's cheek.
"I could use a warm up." Epsilon finished the last of her noodles. "Let's fight."
Frisk was surprised. "E-Epsilon, you don't have to take him seriously."
Magnus folded his arms and flipped his noble cape. "Very well. Epsilon, I challenge you to a duel!"
"Both of you, calm down!"
"I am calm," Magnus and Epsilon said in unison as they looked at each other in the eye with such intimidating gazes.
Frisk gave up and stepped back.
Epsilon quickly cast Cursed Tree. The ground before her turned black.
"Humph. That again? It won't protect you from my attacks. It might push back mobs, but not my fire balls!" Magnus hurled fireballs at her.
Epsilon quickly dodged and stayed within the area of her cursed space. She returned his attack with the dark property version of the fireball. Unlike the fireball, it was very slow, but it locked on to its target like Magic Missile. She continued casting until Magnus was surrounded.
"This is also useless!" Magnus quickly chanted the spell Crimson Rain, which dispelled the slow balls of curses heading his way.
"Hmm. I guess you aren't a small fry," said Epsilon as she took an apple from the cursed tree.
"Were you underestimating me this whole time!?"
"I'll have to use marionette." She dropped the apple. The moment it made contact with the ground, it blossomed into a giant wooden marionette dressed in a bride's outfit. Black butterflies spawned around it as a special effect. The marionette's strings were attached to Epsilon's palm.
"Woah!" Frisk was amazed by the spell. The spells from the dark skill tree were so rarely used that most players never saw any dark spells.
"So this is the power of the dark skill tree?" Magnus was amazed as well, but he tried to hide it. It was embarrassing for him to show Epsilon his admiration.
"Marionette, stone curse," Epsilon commanded.
"Wait what!?" Magnus was caught off-guard when a sudden wave of dust hit him. He lost the ability to move and cursed himself.
With one heavy pound, Magnus lost all his health points except for one, resulting in Epsilon's victory. The dark mage girl deactivated her cursed tree and marionette. Frisk ran to Magnus' side.
"Magnus, you alive?" Frisk continuously poked Magnus' fallen body with a stick.
"We still have a quest to do, you know?" Epsilon also poked his body with a stick.
Suddenly, Magnus rose and angrily declared, "I still haven't accepted you as a member yet!"
Frisk shook his head in disbelief. "Even after being defeated..."
Epsilon smirked. "Fine by me. You'll eventually acknowledge my membership anyway. You just lost to me, you know? As of now, you're too weak to defeat me." She gave an evil laugh.
Frisk was enamored by her dominant aura. "Lady Epsilon!"
Magnus, on the other hand, was red with embarrassment. "T-That's not true! I wasn't giving it my all in that last battle!"
"Here. Discount coupons for my family's noodle shop. Bring your friends." She slapped two coupons on Magnus' face. "See ya!" She walked away calmly slurping another bowl of noodles.
Ever since that day, Magnus continually challenged Epsilon to a duel and always lost.