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Sienna Travler vs. The World

by NonAnalogue

NonAnalogue Knocking them down one by one.
There were ten of them – paragons of magic, the most exceptional in their fields. Through a series of contests, battles, conferences, and debates, they had been ranked according to their skill. Everybody in the world recognized the sheer amount of power and talent they possessed, and it was generally considered terribly unlikely that anyone would be able to successfully challenge any one of them.

Sienna Travler killed six.

The first had been Torvald Andrews. He was number eight, and he lived in the frozen reaches of Lycus – a small town called Virna. It'd been all too easy to find him. He was, after all, the world's foremost expert on transformation and alteration magic. Sure, he was a hermit, but all Sienna had to do was lean on the right people, drop hints about how much she'd wanted to change the curve of her nose here, the way her red hair curled there, and people were falling all over themselves to point her to Andrews.


The old man didn't even put up a good fight. All his spells, she found, relied heavily on preparation and having the right spell components. Without all his fancy magic, Andrews was nothing but a frail sack of bones – bones that, Sienna realized, were very fragile indeed. Oh, he didn't just roll over, sure, but there wasn't anything he could do against a much more youthful opponent. Sienna left him, bruised, battered, and beaten, to freeze to death under a blanket of snow.

Sebastian Kruger, ranked number two and resident of the hidden village Eldarin, proved much tougher. For one, he was much better known. Sienna couldn't just drop in on him and expect a battle to go unnoticed. Much to her pleasure, though, Kruger solved that problem himself. He worked in a library, and when she formally challenged him, he used a spell that she hadn't encountered before: he transported them both inside a book.

With the problem of their venue solved, Sienna was able to turn her attention to outclassing the mage. She soon found that he wasn't ranked number two for nothing; while in the book, he had complete control. His assortment of bizarre spells included ones that let him flip pages back and forth, speeding up and reversing time; one that closed the book itself to freeze her in place; and even one that rewrote the words on the pages, changing the details of their battlegrounds in ways she hadn't thought possible. On top of that, Kruger had a wide array of powerful brute-force spells that nearly overwhelmed her.

What he hadn't counted on was Sienna's own special ability. Sienna was what was known colloquially as a blue mage – a magician who had undergone very specialized training. They could, over the course of being attacked with a spell, identify the way the magic was cast and learn to cast it themselves. Every spell Kruger threw at her, he found coming back right at him. Sure, he managed to defend himself adequately enough, but eventually, his mind broke under the stress of so many big spells. Sienna briefly considered leaving him a comatose vegetable in the book, but decided against it; with one simple hand gesture and a small showing of magical power, she cut off his air supply.

When, later, Sienna got out of the book, she noted with a wry smile that the book itself was called A Better Place.

From Eldarin, Sienna traveled to the country of Becdeni. Becdeni sat between two countries constantly at hostilities with each other – the militaristic Remina, home to the best-trained army in the world, and the somewhat more peaceful Vandrio, the site of the world's religious capitol.

Becdeni had little choice but to be aggressively neutral.

The capitol of Becdeni, Rennardt, was none other than the town where all of the records concerning the ten most powerful mages were located. It would have been amazingly simple for Sienna to find information on who each mage was and where they were. Along that line of thinking, Sienna realized, it would have also been easy to make her mark on the list – she took down Kruger, after all; she could put her name in right at number two.

But it wasn't about the ranking. It never was. She wanted to prove herself. Taking the easy routes would rob her of half the fun. Besides, there was another reason for Sienna to visit Rennardt: Atarah Shapiro. Shapiro was a moderator, one who presided over many high-profile peace discussions. An accorded neutral party, she used her skills with emotion-based magic to ensure that nobody's feelings ran too hot.

As it turned out, that didn't do too much for Shapiro. She might have been able to quell Sienna's emotions, but that barely slowed Sienna down. It was a simple enough matter to get near Shapiro and, coldly, cut her throat. It seemed appropriate that her blood spilled out in time with her heart.

Sienna took no triumph in it. At least not until the aftereffects of Shapiro's spells wore off. Even after that, though, Sienna was slightly disappointed; the fight hadn't been nearly as flashy as she would have liked. She was, after all, a stage magician by trade; looking good was just as important as winning. Nothing to be done about it, though, she thought; she would just have to do better next time.

The next mage was almost as easy, though perhaps a bit more frustrating. Monmar Endegget, a resident of the sprawling Kenban empire, made his living healing people. He ran a charity organization, curing those too poor to see other doctors; it was funded entirely through donations. His ability to bring people back to full health was unmatched; there were even rumors flying around that he could revive the dead – and not as a zombie, unlike what the quack doctor one town over ended up doing by accident.

Endegget, as Sienna found out, didn't have any offensive magic capabilities in the slightest. That didn't stop him from trying to bring her down with a mace and healing up every wound he took nearly instantly. Eventually, Sienna lost her patience. Even though she managed to dodge most of Endegget's blows, it really only took being hit by a spiked ball on a club once for her to want it never to happen again. She channeled her energy into a single massive fireball, spell courtesy of Kruger, and lobbed it into the air.

The last words Endegget said were "well, damn," moments before he was completely incinerated.

As a performer, one of Sienna's biggest hits had been called 'The Mirror.' She would pull someone up from the audience and mimic their appearance exactly. The crowds ate it up. The spell even extended to changing her voice to match the target's. It was a spell her master had shown her when she was very young, and her master had cautioned her to only use it wisely.

Sienna used the spell to gain access to the Corta-based home of Zax Fugue, master of time magic. She disguised herself as his student. All of the information she had gathered claimed that Fugue and his apprentice, Dvorak Kuwert, were as close as any father and son, despite not being related. It had been easy to find Dvorak at the town's school of anthropological studies to learn his appearance.

Fugue had eagerly let Sienna in. He died, thinking all the while that his apprentice had turned on him. It had been a short fight; Sienna surprised him with a whip of electricity that coiled around his neck. He only had time to cast one halfhearted spell before the whip choked the life out of him – the spell only served to slow Sienna down for a moment, but it was enough for her to extrapolate some more potent temporal magic from there.

Alzabata, the country that Sienna visited next, was, in her opinion, decidedly pathetic. The country was composed almost entirely of desert, blasted land, and canyons. A few lakes dotted the landscape here and there, but, according to her traveler's guide, they were all unsafe to be anywhere near. Something about high levels of toxicity. Apparently the driving industry of Alzabata was tourism – not people paying to come there, no, but people paying to leave as quickly as possible.

Eve Fermi aided in that industry. She had an office in Port Kynos. Using her geomancy to influence the earth beneath her, the sky above, and the ocean in the distance, she helped travelers leave by ensuring their journey was unimpeded by natural disasters. That had, admittedly, been a rough battle. Sienna hadn't expected the sand to shift underneath her, swallowing her up.

But then, Fermi hadn't expected it when the sand, her former ally, did the same thing to her. As the sand slowly but inexorably crept up around Fermi, Sienna rose up from the ground… and Sienna was grinning. The last thing Fermi saw was Sienna summoning a large fireball in between her palms…

Sienna sank the fireball into the ground and encased Fermi in a glass tomb. There were four mages left. There would be some research necessary to find the next one. But, Sienna thought as she left the scene, she had Fermi's control of the elements, Fugue's control of time, Shapiro's control of emotion, and Kruger's control of… books (even she had to admit that the last one sounded much less impressive). She grinned. Who could stand against her?