26 Null Magic
Ashley slept quietly until the evening arrived when Elise shook her gently to wake her up. Ashley awoke with a yawn and stretched out like a lazy cat. Elise smiled and planted a kiss on her forehead as her little daughter nuzzled closer into her arms.
"Mommy I'm getting hungry," Ashley looked up with a pout.
Elise picked her up carefully and headed towards the dinning room, when she entered the hall there was a feast before her eyes.
Brown tender meats sizzled on large plates with an inviting smell, seafood was arranged in beautiful patterns across a sea of greens, there were desserts of chocolate and vanilla fountains at the far ends of the table.
Pausing in bewilderment, Elise asked the chefs setting the table what was going on and their answer brought a small giggle of laughter from the girl in her arms.
"My lady we need to welcome the young miss!"
"It is but a small sample of food! We have several more dishes to come!"
"The head butler insisted on a grand feast!"
Elise looked down at the little girl drooling at the sight of all the food and the words of complaint died down in her mouth. The table had a few chairs, so Elise sat down at the head of the table and placed Ashley on the seat next to her. Elena entered the hall and stood behind Ashley with a protective look on her face.
"Elena you don't need to stand, come and eat with us" Elise spoke softly.
The siren hesitantly sat down to the right of Elise, no noblewoman would invite her vassals to eat at the same table as them but Elise was an exception to the rule.
Truthfully none of her servants in the castle would eat with her as they did not dare to, and her only company would be the Valkyries when they came to the castle to visit.
Many a night was spent eating silently at the table with an empty room filling her with a sense of hollowness. Elise frowned at the unpleasant memories entering her mind, but it was all chased away when she glanced at her little daughter.
Ashley was carefully trying to eat according to the manners she had picked up from watching her half-siblings eat, unfortunately the form was quite terrible, but she ate with great enthusiasm. Her eyes sparkled with delight as she tried dish after dish with a contented look on her face.
Elise placed a few steaks on her plate and turned to see Elena still staring at the plate with a far away look in her eyes.
"Elena why don't you try some of these," Elise remarked.
Her father taught her to almost make sure that guests are comfortable at the dinning table, so she unconsciously slipped back into her training days. She reached across to some pork cutlets and placed them on Elena's plate.
Elena flushed a deep scarlet red and mumbled a couple words of thanks.
If anyone had wandered into the room, they would have thought that a family of three were dinning together. Laughter and a pink fuzzy mood filled the castle for the first time in many years which brought a smile to the old butler listening outside the dining room.
After the dinner, Elise sent Elena to rest in one of the guest rooms and brought her daughter to the castle showers. She gently heated up a bucket of water and rinsed Ashley to wipe the grime from days of travelling.
There was a small scrubber and body wash that she used to clean her daughter.
This would usually be the work of maidservants, but Elise insisted on doing it herself, it reminded her of when she was young and how her mother would also refuse to let the maidservants give her a bath.
A complex feeling welled up in her heart and instead of hate towards her mother, there was a trace of longing. Elise shook her head and buried the feeling.
"Mommy I want to wash you as well!" Ashley declared.
Elise nodded slowly and took off her inner wear, her beautiful figure was revealed and even Ashley was amazed at how pretty her mom was. Elise had a toned lean figure with curves and two plump mountains on her chest.
Her arms and hands were covered in calluses and small scars, but the rest of her body was unblemished save for an ugly mark on her right shoulder.
Ashley was too young and had not seen something like it before, but it was the scar of a chain mark.
Elise sat down on the small stool and Ashley picked up the scrubber and began to cheerfully rub up and down her mother's back. She frowned slightly when she approached the mark on her mother's shoulder.
"Mom what is that strange mark?" Ashley asked curiously.
Elise paused for a moment, she had completely forgotten about the chain scar! Her regular maids had seen her body before and knew not to ask questions, but Ashley was seeing it for the first time.
Her head began to ring, and the suppressed wave of memories resurfaced with a sense of vengeance. It took all Elise had to remain in control and her fingernails clamped down on her palm so hard that it drew blood.
The shadow magic trapped within her mana circuit began to rampage out of control and dark tendrils formed at her feet. Just when she was about to rush out of the room, Ashley's palms on her back heated up and her magic disappeared.
The mana was still in her body, but it was as if it was locked behind a chain.
Elise froze with shock, what kind of magic power could seal away her abilities like this? One had to know that Elise was one of the strongest magic warriors on the continent and could beat almost anyone save for the old monsters in first rate empires.
This did not make any sense, the only way to lock another person's mana abilities was if your mana was of the same element and vastly greater in quantity. Mana had to be cultivated over a person's lifetime and even if Ashley had started from the womb, there was no chance that her mana was greater than hers.
There was only one exception, one special physique known as the strongest and weakest of all mana circuits. It was called the null mana circuit and was an extreme rarity with only a handful of cases popping up in history.
Null magic users could not use spells and hence had low destructive capabilities but the mana flowing through their body could enhance their physical prowess to an almost godly degree. What was most dangerous was their ability to create null zones where all mana was sealed away, and any spell cast instantly lost its effect.
One would think that this ability would be greatly valued in war, but the null zones affected both enemy and ally alike.
A dark vision flashed across her mind and Elise clutched her head in pain as a voice whispered softly to her,
"The child will grow into a terrible woman. You need to kill her now because in the future she kills you by sealing your mana and leaving you die in agony."
"You have read the story so why have you not done it yet?"
"This child is truly a villainess."