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Chapter 33: Asha

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Episode 2-174Edit

Season 2 Episode 174: Asha (1)

In exposition, Asha explains that her mother had one close friend who was a half, whose husband left Carte for Willarv to serve as a priest there. When the Cataclysm happened, the friend went berserk due to emotional resonance and was killed. Asha's mother took in her friend's daughter, Mirha, and the girls were raised as sisters.

A small group of children gather in the woods, asking each other what they want to play. One suggests hide and seek, but then another mentions that they would never find Asha. Another child suggests they play hopscotch. Asha (in exposition again) explains that Mirha had no trouble getting along with ordinary children, while she herself found it to be a frustrating waste of time, and yet she still smiled along with them. She thought she would only need to continue like this until getting admitted into Eos Magic Academy, where she would no longer have to deal with kids who were nothing special, and where she would no longer have a reason to play with Mirha.

As an academy official looks over Asha's personal file, she tells the young girl that the water channel question was designed to prevent anyone from getting a perfect score, something that Asha managed to do anyway. Asha is confused when the official tells her that she is highly intelligent and would make a great scholar, and suggests that she apply to a general academy since they cannot admit a student with a divine affinity of only 136. Asha protests because the student admitted just before her only had a divine affinity of 120, but the official explains that the student is a triple-Light who will benefit from a large multiplier. For someone with all different attributes, a minimum divine affinity of 300 is required. The official stamps "Rejected" on Asha's paperwork and tells her that she must have other talents that would allow her to do many things. Asha thinks to herself that this is true, but she will still be beneath the ultimate class—magicians.

Outside the academy, other children are amazed that Mirha is a triple-Wind whose divine affinity is 1830, even higher than that of Trisilla-nim, the current Priest of Wind (1500). Mirha tries to be humble, saying that she still has a lot to learn. One of the children shouts that Asha is coming, and asks her how it went. Asha replies that she failed because her divine affinity is 136. She then warns Mirha not to say any comforting words because they would only make her angrier. Since the academy is a boarding school, their career paths will be different and they will not be seeing each other anymore. Asha finally tells Mirha to study hard because she will become a great magician.

(In exposition) Asha explains that even with the absence of superior suras since the Cataclysm, magic still held high authority since the world valued the strong over the intelligent and she could not compete with that. She questions why she should be educated with those who were below her level, and states that it would have been better if she had no divine affinity at all. Since superior suras have vanished from the world, humans could live without magic, even though it maybe be inconvenient. Did the gods leave magic in the world just to frustrate her?

Exam scores are posted, and Asha holds the #1 spot. The older students begin to gossip as Asha stands around the corner, listening. They mention that her scores would be high enough to put her at the top at Eos Magic Academy, but that she is someone smart who has a low divine affinity. They say that she learns quickly, barely needs to study, and probably does not understand what effort means. She is smart, yet when they ask her questions, she makes them feel like idiots and embarrasses them. In exposition again, Asha states that she learned once she was in school that she could barely interact with anyone who was beneath her level, especially without a mediator like Mirha. In a short time, they no longer admired her as an honor student and called her "an extreme overachiever" instead. Asha admitted that they were not completely wrong, since she did not stop with class textbooks. While the others spent their time playing and socializing, she would browse through the library to learn more. She should not waste her time with those who say they could be as smart as her if they spent all that time in the library as well. She will still pass them by, graduate earlier, and enter society sooner. Even if she cannot become a magician, she will still have a much nicer life than them.

As some leaves swirl in the breeze, Asha's mother asks her how she is doing in school. Asha replies that she is studying as usual, and that she will be graduating soon. Her mother explains that she meant if she was enjoying her school life. Asha asks her if that matters, since it is simply the last step before she enters society towards a better future. Her mother notes that Asha's father used to say the same thing, that everything he did was for a better future, so he never enjoyed his present life and ended up dying before the age of 30. Asha says that it was just bad luck that he died in the Cataclysm. Her mother suggests that she think less about the future and live more in the present. Asha asks her if her teacher told her that she had very few friends. Her mother simply tells her to smile a little more like other children her age and stop pushing herself so much. Asha says that if this is all she has to say, she can leave; she can tell her these unimportant things after graduation.

The year N5, 6th month, 30th day—This was the last day Asha saw her mother alive.

Episode 2-175Edit

Season 2 Episode 175: Asha (2)

The disasters on Carte did not end with the Cataclysm. Water overflowed from every entrance of the water channel and swept away 20 million people. Of those who sought higher ground, 40 thousand were killed in red sky attacks. Weather patterns changed and communication was disrupted planet-wide.

Asha, apparently in a rush, asks around for the location of the residence of someone who had moved. The nearby townspeople gossip that even though Asha took good care of her mother, she never once returned home after she was admitted into her academy. They claim that if Asha had visited more often, then her mother, Lilith, would never have been out of town.

Asha hurries to her mother's bedside, calling for her and asking her to open her eyes. When she tries to touch her, her uncle tries to stop her. Asha slaps his hand away and asks why she is not allowed to touch her own mom. She places her hand on what appears to be her mom's body under the bed sheets, then lifts up the sheets only to discover a rolled up blanket in place of her mother's body. Her uncle explains that they did this because they knew it would come as a shock, but then her aunt berates her for not visiting more often. Her uncle then explains that her mother was caught in a red sky attack and the only part remaining was her head. Asha yells at both of them to get out. Her aunt continues to criticize Asha, but her uncle tells her that she has said enough, and they both leave Asha with her mother. Asha picks up her mother's head and holds it close as she recalls being criticized for not crying over the death of her father, and then her mother's last wish that Asha live among others. She suddenly hears an explosion outside, and a strange little boy tells her not to go out or she will die. The boy goes on to tell her nonsensical things, and she asks him what he is doing there in someone else's house. He tells her to step closer to him to find out. She approaches him, but then stops and stubbornly refuses when he tells her to take one last step. There is another explosion outside, and glass shards from the window fly through the room, cutting Asha's legs and right arm. The boy chastises her for not listening and claims that he could completely heal her right away, but declines to as a punishment to her for not listening to him. He then tells her to take a look outside. Asha steps out, still holding her mother's head, and sees everything around her destroyed. She laments that just as she was about to follow her mother's last wish to seek the company of others, everyone had already died under the red sky.

Episode 2-176Edit

Season 2 Episode 176: Asha (3)

Surrounded by red light, Asha trudges through the rubble holding her mother's head. She sees body parts all around her. She thinks to herself that in the aftermath of the Cataclysm she had hopes that scholars would be on par with magicians, who no longer had superior suras to fight. Unfortunately, in the year N5, those suras returned and changed the situation of the entire planet, and so this 10-year-old girl with a low divine affinity was on her own.

Once evening falls, she sits in front of a small fire with her mother's head in the center of the flames. Asha realizes that her goal of becoming a successful scholar will never be reached, and so her new objective is to become stronger than anyone else and take revenge on the suras who robbed her of her future. In her determination to find a path to that power, she considers looking into fiendish magic. The boy from before appears and tells her she would be wasting her time. He asks her about her wounds, and then offers her more firewood to properly cremate the head. Asha asked if he knew the attack would happen and why he did not stop it. He replies that there was no reason to since tens of millions on the planet had already died. Asha protests that he should have done something to save them, but he counters that her planet is not the only one facing disaster. From the perspective of someone who has seen many universes come and go, the demise of one planet does not affect him. When Asha becomes silent, he tells her that she is realizing who is standing before her. She tells him that he is the primeval god Visnu, but... he disappeared during the Cataclysm. Visnu tells her that he is here due to a transcendental from the past, so he is both existent and non-existent. To make it clear that he is not simply a child spouting nonsense, he changes to his older form. He tells her that her cognitive processing speed rivals that of the highest-level gods, but she lacks experience and depth, and left on her own, she would never achieve her goal. The price for his help is high, and she tells him she will offer anything for power, even her life. Visnu asks what else she would offer, then places his hand on her head as he shows her the moment, 500 years ago, when the single creation who understood the primeval gods died. The vision causes her to cry out. In tears, she says she has nothing to offer, but Visnu tells her that she does not have it now, but she will later. If she gives that up, he will grant her power. She agrees to the deal. He asks her if she is being hasty without any concern, but Asha replies that if she does not have it now, it cannot be important in the future. Visnu tells her he will grant her an opportunity that corresponds with what she gave up. Their surroundings change, and Asha sees people in the distance. He tells her that those people are restrained, and this is sort of preparation for battle. If she kills all those people, her divine affinity will rise above 1000. It is her choice to take this opportunity.

Episode 2-177Edit

Season 2 Episode 177: Asha (4)

After Asha makes a vow of revenge, she cuts her hair short with hoti marut to test her divine affinity. Visnu restores her hair and reveals to her that gods have the ability of insight, so there is no reason for her to hide how she feels. He adds that the easy part of her path ends here, and to gain more power she must kill those with the name of a god. He begins to show her the path ahead.

Visnu finishes the first half of Asha's to-do list, and praises her for taking this opportunity to avoid an unproductive life that will end in the year N13. She questions him as to why she even needs to follow that path, since she could combine her new strength with other magicians to fight superior suras. He asks her if her objective is simply revenge, and she replies that it is. He then points out that if that was true, she would have asked for the resurrection of her mother; the truth is that her anger over the loss of her future is greater than her grief over the loss of her family. He adds that having her mother back in this terrible situation would not do anything to improve it, so getting revenge and power would result in a better outcome for her. Asha angrily admits that she would rather stand at the top than be trampled on. Visnu mentions that humans with the necessary capability to memorize all of the future that he discloses to them are very rare, and there are some on this planet, but Asha just killed them. He then explains that the 12 people she killed had gambled that all his candidates would refuse to commit murder in order to gain power, and live a comfortable life instead. There were another seven who declined to take the bet. She was the final candidate, and the refusal of those 12 people from committing murder would be acknowledged in the underworld. He points out that the one who passes judgement there considers murder to be a serious crime, but Asha tells him that she has no regrets, to which he says that it would be good if she never has any from now on.

As Visnu is about to give Asha her list of choices for after the year N15, she first asks him a question: Why does she have to shut down the transport engine room and make it look like an accident? He explains that two people will die on the transport as a result: the Priest of Wind, from using up her lifespan after summoning the God of Wind, and a second person who will use his own body as a shield to prevent the ship from crashing on Willarv. Asha questions allowing a person who would be a strong opponent to the suras to die. Visnu explains that his death would upend the life of another candidate who has the potential to become even stronger than Asha. Her gains and losses depend on the choices she makes.

Present Asha, still driving the car and surrounded by white light, wonders if the path not chosen would actually have been the unhappier one.

ReferencesEdit

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