A WITCH'S TALE
he air reeked of ash. She could taste it in her mouth and feel it hovering over her skin. The town from yesterday, the lively and colorful world that she had come to call her home, had finally been "saved." It had drowned to death during its molten baptism leaving nothing but a scorched atmosphere and a sea of obsidian in the wake of its demise.
The girl wasn't one for politics or current events; she had never picked up a newspaper or paused playing with the other children to spend time asking people about recent happenings. Thus there was no face for her to attach blame to, no name to curse at the top of her lungs, no person to scream and shout at until the hatred burnt away and the sorrow disappeared. No. There was just death: the death of her neighbors, the death of her parents, the death of her friends, and her siblings, and everyone else she knew within her little bubble in the vast cosmos. Her only company was the weight on her shoulders and the ethereal barrier which had materialized around her just before the wave hit. Little Pauline had made her way through the wreckage and the rubble, but it was all for nothing. There was no friendly face waiting for her beyond the smoldering ruins, just more reminders of what had once been. It made her wonder why she had bothered digging her way out of the remains of that building in the first place.
She wandered aimlessly for a bit longer, but eventually she gave in. The weird, sparkly glow which had surrounded her fizzled out and she fell down onto the hot, hard ground with a lifeless expression carved across her face. It wasn't that she lacked the energy to keep moving (in fact, she actually felt strangely invigorated), but rather that she lacked the motivation. What point was there in walking any further? It wasn't like there was anybody waiting for her. Just more of the same char-scented stench, just more of the same crumbled houses and burnt bricks...
Pauline laid on the ground like that for a while. As she sat still, time marched onward, though she had long since lost track of it. Only when she saw a hand reach down toward her did she return to reality. And when she did, she heard the gentlest voice touch her ears:
"Are you alright?"
Her name was Majolica and she was a witch. She had been surveying the aftermath of what was apparently a terrorist attack (although it appeared much more akin to a natural disaster) when she stumbled across Pauline. The child appeared to be one of few survivors and with her home destroyed she had nowhere left to go: all that she known and loved had been ripped away from her in an instant. Pity took form in Majolica's heart and, unwilling to leave someone so young alone to rot in the wasteland, she took the child in as one of her apprentices. Of course, she accepted. It wasn't like she had many other options and even though despair gripped her heart, she still had a base, instinctual desire to survive hidden away within her. Thus officially began Pauline's time as a pupil of Majolica, though unsurprisingly it'd take longer for her to open up to her teacher and adjust to her new environment.
Pauline was the sixth of eight apprentices, but despite her relatively new arrival, she quickly began to rise above many of the others. She learnt that she had an innate prowess for using magic and that the arcane was a fascinating subject matter. It wasn't the sort of thing she had learned about in school; rather, magic had a direct practical application, and it was theoretically infinite in the scope. It was around this time, when she was first being introduced to the concept and how it functioned, that she began to notice shifts in the rules of the universe and, more specifically, how mana worked: how it flowed, how it was channelled, and even changes in how strong, or fast, or versatile the spells it could produce were. It was odd, perplexing even, but it was also intriguing and Majolica herself would later mention that these changes were something she had noticed as well, confirming to the youthful pupil that this wasn't just something that she was imagining or that only she had noticed.
As time went on, Pauline learnt more and more, but her hunger for knowledge never subsided. The arcane was the only thing she had left and she slowly became obsessed with discovering all there was to know about it. Her mentor was insistent that no person could understand everything, that there were some secrets that could never be unravelled, but she didn't buy it. She saw the miracles it had produced and already she was thinking up more applications, more ways it could be used, more ways it could be controlled. Some days she even wondered if magic could have prevented Disney Town's destruction somehow; maybe it could have shielded the world from that blast of lava, or maybe with a powerful enough spell the citizens wouldn't have had to worry about mortality to begin with...
These thoughts gnawed at her mind more and more. Everywhere she went, they lingered there, always reminding her of what could have been and what could be
. She started to lust after the little knowledge her teacher had locked away from her and by the age of sixteen the girl had made a decision. In order to acquire all the secrets her mentor had to offer, in order to fuel her search for a way to prevent destruction on that scale from ever occurring again, she swore to herself that'd she kill Majolica
It... wasn't an easy choice to make. Majolica wasn't just her teacher anymore, but also the closest thing she had left to a mother. But she knew there was no other option. She saw in her fellow apprentices the same hunger that laid in her eyes: if she wasn't going to do it, someone else would, and she was certain that her peers would be far less just or careful in how they handled the hidden knowledge. So Pauline acted. In the midst of night while the woman slept, the apprentice struck her master with one of the most powerful spells she had been taught, and successfully managed to end her life in almost an instant. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. Before she died, Majolica let out a sharp yelp, waking the other disciples and alerting them almost immediately to what had occurred. They rushed to stop Pauline and a bitter battle ensued. In a fit of rage two of her former colleagues charged straight at her only to burnt to cinders by a powerful blast of fire she unleashed. The fire continued pushing ahead, threatening to consume the rest of her enemies as well, though one caught it with a gust of wind and threw it right back at Pauline. In the heat of the moment, she dove out of the way and the spell struck the books she had been trying to steal, destroying them and setting the whole library ablaze in the process. By the end of the fight, Pauline was gravely wounded and just barely managed to escape to Traverse Town, left with nothing to show for her efforts. In her obsession, she'd destroyed the family and home she had come to call her own, and once again she was left with nowhere to go and no one to rely on.
She was consumed by grief for a long time. She even thought about ending it all, about just letting go and giving up. áBut just like on that day in Disney Town all those years ago, she pushed herself back up to her feet and continued on. There was no Majolica to save her this time, but it didn't matter; she wasn't a child anymore and with the powerful magic at her disposal, she was sure she'd be capable of fending for herself. The young woman turned to adventure as a recourse and spent three years accumulating money, building up resources, establishing allies, and acquiring new information for both herself and for others. Once again she rose from the ashes and under a new name, Gemini, resumed her search for the secrets of the universe. Of course, while knowledge can be an end unto itself, she doesn't seek it purely for its own sake. No. Nowadays something more than curiosity motivates her actions.
Gemini will not rest until she's vanquished her most hated foe.
The witch will not stop her search until she has found a way to slay death itself.