Its been one month since I came to Snarlava. In that time everyones skills have improved. Im amazed by the growth of everyone. I had trouble keeping up with Reunes improvement, but as it stands, shes well on her way to being a Tier 3 Frost Mage.
Emil and Vincent have been taking sword lessons from Jett. I stepped in for a while, but a sword doesn fit my taste. Overall, I have been working on my Vis control. Im currently trying to figure out how to use the Mana I have in my body. Its tough, control my Vis movement isn that hard as I already have practice on it. The problem is the Mana. I can feel it like a second pulse, but I can make it move on my own. Im stumped.
Vincent, seeing my perplexed look walks to the chair Im sitting at. "Whats up man?"
"Im having trouble figuring out how to use my Mana."
e the greatest Mage. I see you using Mana all the time."
"Not that Mana, the Mana I have inside of me."
"But thats really dangerous."
"Not real…" Before I could finish my sentence, Vincent had thrown me over his shoulder and ran into the yard. When did he get this strong? Reune was practicing Magic out here. Vincent throws me on the ground. With the impact the air in my chest was forced out. "Ugh!"
"Reune! Ren got Mana in him. Help him out."
"Thats fine, isn it?"
Vincent was taken aback by her words that were said so nonchalantly. I had taught Reune all the Healing and Recover Magic I know and then she picked up more by studying at the library. If I was in trouble, Reune was the person to go to.
"Youd really let Ren die like this?"
"Thats not what I mean." She panicked. Once I got my breath back, I explained everything to Vincent about my Skill. After hearing it, Vincent took a sigh of relief.
"Had me worried there. So, you don know how to use the Mana in your body. Why don you just use it like normal?"
"Yeah, just pew pew boom like you normally do." As he spoke, he gestured with his hands the act of casting Spells. His words were confusing but made sense. I was overthinking it, why don I just use it normally?
Instead of drawing Mana from the world I draw it from inside my body. "If thats the case, I should be able to." I open up my hand and draw a Flame Magic Circle with my Vis. As predicted the Circle is filled with the Mana that was in my body.
"Hey Vince, Jett says its time for our lesson. Whats that?" Emil had walked out into the yard with two wooden swords in his hands. He stopped when he saw the Magic Circle in my hand.
"Look Emil, look at Ren can do." Vincent beckoned Emil over.
With the Circle open there were still things that I needed to test. I rotate my hand and move my arm around. All my movement is good. The next was to see if I could walk. While keeping the Circle open, I walk in a straight line all the way to the wall of the building. "Im not rooted!"
The last thing was to fire off the Spell. I aim it away from the others "Spark." A small ball of fire shot from my palm and hit the ground ahead of me. "The range isn effected either."
The only thing I could tell is that the Mana usage felt greater than normal. Maybe because I had less total Mana to draw from, but I felt half of my reserves leave with the casting of a simple Tier 1 Spell. I close the Circle and raise my fist in triumph. The others clap, though Emil is still confused about the situation. A quick explanation and hes on the same page.
Jett enters the yard and the two boys run over for their sword lesson. Now alone with Reune I can ask her something thats been picking at my mind. We walk back into the house. "The other day, when you saw me absorbing Mana, why did you think I was trying to kill myself?"
"Oh that, uh." She is stammering for words. Her eyes are darting around as well. "You said how dangerous Mana was if it entered your body so seeing you take in so much made me panic."
"Thats not it is it?" From her mannerisms shes clearly hiding something.
"I, uh, t-trade secret!" She mimics Jetts catchphrase, complete with a finger to the lips. For some reason it doesn feel condescending when she does it. But that confirms it, there was something that happened that shes not at liberty to say. Or maybe, not want to remember. Whatever the case, I might be able to get the information out of one of the others. Consider my interest piqued.
I tried to ask Clair about it after dinner as I was helping her clean up. I kept as much secret about that day as I could. She blew me off harsher than Reune did, as expected. After that I tried to ask Vincent, but he was amazingly quiet. He probably shut himself up, because if said anything hed say too much. My final hope is Emil before I give up.
Today was bath night, Emil and I were taking our bath together. This is an awkward time, but its now or never. "Hey Emil."
"Whats up?" He said with a relaxed tone.
"Has anyone here tried to kill themselves?"
"Where did you hear that?" Emil snaps to attention.
"Back when my fathers death was announced, Reune had asked me not to kill myself. Her words had a feeling like she went through it before."
"That girl." Emil sinks into the bath water and sighs. "Im not proud of it, but it was me."
"Unlike the others, I was brought here when I was seven. Ive spent less time here than they have. Jett had said that my parents were dead, and I couldn accept it."
At the time my mind couldn understand what was happening. I found a dagger that belonged to Jett and tried to stab myself with it. "If they
e not here then why should I be!?"
I closed my eyes and moved the dagger towards my neck with as much force as I could manage. To my surprise the blade never made it. When I opened my eyes, I saw the blade in Jetts arm. "Quite the force, huh?" He said with a chuckle. His blood dripped out of the wound. He took the dagger out of my hand and pulled me close. "If their death is so disheartening for you then ignore it. Its your reality to make."
"Since that day I haven seen that dagger again. I don think Jett has a scar from it either. It mightve faded."
"Thank you for telling me."
I shouldve figured that at one of them would have a past that theyd want kept hidden. I know Reune and Clair were brought here when they were 3 and Vincent a year later. Theyve spent most of their lives here. Likely they might not even remember their parents faces. Emil coming later means he actually developed memories with his parents making the separation harder.
e living together and we
e friends. We got indulge each other in our stupidity every now and then." Emil laughed as he splashed water into my face.
We finish in the bath and leave it for the next group. As we
e walking to our rooms, I catch a glimpse of a sheet of paper on the table. I leave Emil to check it out. Once I get close to it, I recognize it as the letter from that woman. This was the letter that Jett had read to himself. Its wrong for me to read this, but my curiosity gets the better of me.
The letter reads, "Yo ho, its Lloyd again. Heres the scoop and Ill make it short. 6 years from now theyll be a war between the Mages and Man. After my death is announced, both will start preparing. Well make the first strike. Up to you on what you want to do. Later." Theres a smile drawn next to the signature.
On further inspection, fathers Common handwriting is awful. Regardless of the penmanship, a war!? In my letter, father had mentioned that Kin would do something stupid in 6 years, is that what he was talking about?
In our history of countless battles and wars with the Kingdom of Man we have only started one. And that was the war that gave us our independence. We have been lucky that, despite our Kings valuing strength, we haven had any war mongers. If its avoidable, Id avoid war. But what even is the reason for it.
"Oh, looks like you saw something you shouldn have." Jett had finished his bath and entered the main room.
"If you want to keep it a secret, why did you leave it out?"
"You got me."
This deepens the mystery behind Jett and fathers relationship. The contents of this letter should be classified, yet Jett has them. And before him, that woman. Who are these people?
Before that, I need to figure out a way to stop the war. 6 years isn that long of time and theres no telling if one of them will start early. Then again, to safely have a war, soldiers need to be trained, resources need to be stockpiled, and strategies need to be drawn. Kin has decades of military experience, so he wouldn just throw us into a war without a plan.
Still, its not a future I want to live through. Our alliance with the Kingdom of Man is on the rocks already. A war will send us back to the endless battles of the previous Mage Kings.
I continue to wrack my thoughts to the point that I get a headache. With that pain a memory comes back to me. Back when fathers death was announced Jett had told me, "…don forget you
e not alone." Of course, the others, I can ask for their help.
With that in mind I assemble everyone in the main room. And explain what I can.
"I don have a plan yet, but will you all help me?"
"Of course, we
e friends aren we." Vincent answered immediately.
"I need to go there anyway, so its not a problem." Emil tried to act cool, but his face showed that he was excited by the thought.
Reune gives a nervous nod. And Clair responds last, "If everyone else is going, I guess I will too."
"Thank you. Again, Ill come up with a plan later."
With my party assembled we continued our studies in earnest. Again, the rate of everyones growth makes me think the royals back home are slacking. I say, "home" but I guess this is home now.
"Are you ready?" I ask Reune.
Its been six years since I arrived in Snarlava. Reune and I about to head to my fathers old cabin. Both of us are wearing heavy coat and thick pants. We have pairs of snow goggles on our foreheads.
Stepping to the edge of town I notice the red glow of a Magic Circle. I shouldve guessed that the entire town is surrounded by a Magic Circle which regulates the heat within it. A Circle like this can be set up by a group of Mages then maintained by changing out a source Mana Crystal at a designated location.
It makes sense because once you step outside of the Circle the expanse beyond it is pure white. Snow falls year-round in the area around Snarlava, nothing grows here. With the exception of outposts with similar Magic Circles to the town there is no life. For that reason, this area has been referred to as the Snow Desert. I pull my goggles down. "Did father really have a house out here?"
I didn need a response. His cabin was said to be northwest of Snarlava. Following those directions, we begin our trek. Reune is a Tier 3 Frost Mage, so the cold doesn bother her much. Im in a similar place as a Tier 7 Frost Mage.
Only now that we
e walking do I wish that father had given a distance to his cabin or a map. With the depth of the snow, it could take us hours or days to get there. "Uh Ren." Reune calls to me. I look her way and see her standing above the snow, shes not sinking in.
"Oh right, Magic." I open a Circle and cast the Enhancement Spell Frost Walk on myself and step onto the snow. My Ability uses the Mana I have in my body, thanks to Mana Circulation, and lets me cast Magic without being rooted. I call this Ability Mage Hands.
Enhancement Magic is one of my weak points. But at our level, both of our Enhancements should last an hour. And we can always recast them if we need to.
It was a shorter walk than I thought it would be. After a half, an hour an old wooden cabin enters out view. It has a Magic Circle like Snarlava around it. Because of that there is no snow on the ground around the building. Its strange, no one shouldve been here for at least 30 years. So, for that Circle to still be active means that someone has visited before us.
We cautiously enter the building and immediately a piece in the center of the room catches our eyes. "That?"
Floating in the center of the room is a large spherical crystal, about 20 centimeters in diameter. I can sense Mana flowing out of it and into the Magic Circle below us. "Ive never seen a spherical one." I say as we approach it.
What floats before us is a Mana Crystal, a stone made of hardened Mana. Because Mana flows like liquid it sometimes gets caught in places and condenses. When that happens, it solidifies into crystal form. These Mana Crystals are mined and used for various Magical purposes like powering large continuous Magic Circles and Magic items.
They are named based on their size and for what that size is normally used. It goes: Décor, Wand, Enchantment, Town, City, Country. The size of this Crystal would put it at Town level. But the shape is the oddest part of it. Itd take a master miner to break this out of stone. If it was polished, then material wouldve been wasted.
"How long do you think its been here?"
"Don know. But at least we can take off our coats while we
e here." Best not dwell on something that doesn matter. I take off my coat and carefully set it on the table at the side of the room. Despite me setting it down slowly, dust still puffs up. Reune follows suit, the Gods really are kind, shes grown into a feminine body. Her shape is slender and curved, her face hasn changed from when we were kids. Shes only lacking a chest, but besides that, thank you Gods.
Now that our hair is exposed, I can see that we both let our hair grow out too much. My bangs grew in a way that it covers my left eye if I don push it out of the way. As for Reune, her hair would reach her hips if she didn have it tied up. I catch myself from looking at the back of her neck too long. I clear my throat as I look away from her.
The walls of the building were covered in bookshelves that were packed with books. Reune pulls one down and I look at it with her. The book is bound with thread, the holes that they go through look to be punched with a knife. She opens the book. "What does it say?" She holds it up to me, must be Divine Script if shes having me read it.
"Looks like a journal on canine animals." I flip through the pages. "There are even entries on Magical beasts and Monsters."
As I flip through the pages a fold page falls to the ground. I pick up the page and open it.
I read it out loud, "Hey Ren, welcome to my old house. Sorry about the dust. You came here with a cute girl didn you. Anyway, if you
e here you
e probably about to head to Sun City. Before that you should check on the Guardians, theyve been lonely ever since I became King. Im sure theyll help you and your friends out. I left a map to them under your coat."
"I don know if I should be impressed or grossed out." I had heard rumors that father could see the future and his letters until now have shown that he had some form of precognition. But this solidifies it, not only did he know what book we were going to grab he knew where Id put my coat and that Id come here with Reune.
"I want to go with impressed." Reune was glowing. She had been called cute by someone she hasn met. I don get it, but as long as shes happy.
I pick up my coat and see a folded-up map. Unfolding it shows the entire continent. There are some handwritten notes in Divine Script pointing out important locations. There were also some joke texts, like by the border to the Kingdom of Man there was a note saying "Mean!"
"This is far more detailed than the map in the Lords office."
"Come to think of, I haven seen anything in the capital this detailed either."
I flip the map to the back to see a message saying, "Don tell anybody."
"Dad, this is too much."
From what Ive seen there is a mountain of research just sitting in this room. Even if its all in Divine Script it would still be useful to bring into the limelight. After all, most Magical Beasts have been endangered because they were confused with Monsters. If people were properly educated, then we could bring those populations back. However, with this message I could tell that he wants his map and research to remain secret.
"What are we going to do now?"
"We should visit these Guardians if father suggests it. Though taking the whole group to each one would be tedious."
"What should we do then?"
"Well talk it out with the others, but I think well go in groups of two to each Guardian. Myself and one other."
Guardians are assistants to the Gods, so itd be likely that theyd speak Divine Script, if they don also speak Common, Ill have to be the translator. We collect the map and get our coats back on and head back to town.
We get back to the orphanage, can it still be called an orphanage when all the occupants are adults? We explain the letter to the others.
Vince has mellowed out with age, he still brimming with energy, but he doesn shout as much now. His hair has also grown out, though it is better kept than mine. Its layered nicely and tied in a small tail. He is the tallest of all of us and his physique betrays his strength, despite being thin his muscles are well trained.
Emil is in a similar boat, hes also thin but you could carve stone on his muscles. Hes kept his hair short. With is fighting style movement is important so he can have his hair getting into his view.
Clair shares her beauty with Reune, they do have the same face, after all. Her hair is shorter than her sisters but still tied in a ponytail. The sisters also share a similar physique, but to honest with myself, Clairs chest is too large for my taste. Because of our heights, I have to look down to see her eyes and I catch a glimpse of her cleavage every once and a while. Its unsettling and catches me off guard every time it happens.
"So, we got to visit these Guardians. Whos going to which one?" Emil asks the first question after the explanation.
"If its alright with you guys, Id say the element you specialize in will be the Guardian you visit."
Lucky for me all of them focused on different elements. Reune needed challenge so I taught her Frost Magic. Emil had the second highest proficiency for Magic, I was going to teach him Frost as well, but he requested to be taught Flame Magic. Vince doesn have Circle Comprehension, so I had him specialize in Land Magic which I simplified the Circles for so that they were easier to remember. Clair had her own problems with deciding what she wanted to practice. I selfishly taught her Breeze Magic to round off our team.
"Tomorrow Reune and I will go to the Frost Guardian. The rest of you can head to Larcretsia and wait for us."
Before it got too late Reune, and I went to the Lords office for the last time. In our time here, Reune had become an assistant to the old woman working in the library. As for me, I led a makeshift school in the library for the children of town. Though its been illegal to teach Magic in a non-military environment for 3 years there isn any law against reading and arithmetic.
The Lord of the town was too grateful when I suggested opening a school. Many of the adults of town forbade their children from attending, I was just an orphan kid to them. But still, kids would sneak into my classes. Reune has gotten over most of her shyness with the townsfolk from her work at the library. Though her appearance has gotten her some attention I wish she didn . Im not completely complaining, thank you again Gods.
We say our goodbyes to the old lady at the library as well as the Lord. Afterwards we head back home. The others are gathering their things for the trip. Vince and Emil were able to get good quality swords from their apprenticeship at the local blacksmith. As for Clair, she was able to score good meat for us to cure for our rations.
"Weapons, food, clothes, sleep gears. Are we missing anything?"
"Whos got the flint?"
"I got it right here."
"Put it in my bag, I don want it getting lost."
"Itll probably still get loss, but okay."
"Man, I wish we could see Jett one more time before we leave." Vince had taken a break to lament our caretaker. He had disappeared without a trace three years ago. Its unlikely that hed get himself killed, but the thought was still in our minds.
"Hes probably picking up a new batch of stray kids. We can take care of ourselves now."
"Yeah, he must be waiting for us to clear out before he brings them in."
After a shared laugh we finished packing and turned in for the night.
Morning came and so did our time for departure. It was sad to leave these walls behind. I can only imagine how the others feel. To them this is the only home theyve known. But nows not the time to get sentimental. If we get too many flashbacks, we won want to leave.
"Ah, before we leave. Can I check everyones Skills one more time?" Id remembered that I got Tier 7 Analysis so I can finally look at the descriptions of the Skills I didn understand.
"Sure, but don look at our private stuff." Clair commands.
I had mentioned that high versions of the Spell can give me measurements of the target. Clair was in the right for not wanting that information out there. Luckily at Tier 6 I can select the information I view.
One at a time I look at everyones Skills.
Sex: Male (Female)
Vis Capacity: High
Skills: Mana Detection, Circle Comprehension, Heart of Crystal [Allows owner to change minor aspect of their body over time to have desired effects.]
Abilities: Land Magic (3), Wave Magic (3), Frost Magic (3), Healing Magic (3), Recovery Magic (3), Enhancement Magic (3)
Name: Vincent Newman
Vis Capacity: High
Skills: Mana Detection, Pain Mitigation, Increased Stamina
Abilities: Land Magic (2), Endurance [Allows the users body to continue moving if knocked unconscious.]
Vis Capacity: High
Skills: Mana Detection, Circle Comprehension, Mirage [Allows owner to make illusion around themselves], Increased Balance
Abilities: Land Magic (2), Flame Magic (3), Unnamed Ability
Vis Capacity: High
Skills: Mana Detection, Circle Comprehension, Kinetic Vision
Abilities: Land Magic (2), Breeze Magic (2), Healing Magic (1)
Name: Ren Namimori
Vis Capacity: Extra High
Skills: Mana Detection, Circle Comprehension, Magic Knowledge, Divine Script, Mana Circulation
Abilities: Land Magic (8), Flame Magic (7), Breeze Magic (7), Wave Magic (7), Frost Magic (7), Sun Magic (1), Elementless Magic (7), Healing Magic (4), Recovery Magic (4), Enhancement Magic (3), Mage Hands
Good, everyone has made substantial progress. These four people are on par with scholar that spend their entire lives on Magic. I don know if I should be proud in my friends or disappointed in the scholars. Come on guys, you got out did by teenagers.
Also, I finally have a read on Heart of Crystal. It lets her change her body as she wants, if she doesn know she has the Skill then it acts subconsciously. I think even if I tell her about it that won change. Better not break anything if I don need to.
As for Emils Mirage, Id love to see it in action. Though I don know the full extent of its power. Back during his training, I had mentioned the Skill to him, but it sounded like he already knew about it, so I didn press it further.
I don know if Vince got Endurance on purpose or accident, either way its a good ability to have with an ally.
With our final preparations we separated into two parties. Reune and I went northwest to the Frost Mountains where the Frost Guardian is located. The others headed to Larcretsia, a city to the southeast of Snarlava. On foot it should take a day for both of us to make it our destination. Which mean Reune and I have a two-day trip after finishing at the mountains. Too late to turn back now.