Chapter 33:

Thoughts on Magic

Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

I leaned back on the chair I had been offered. Bookmark here

Alena was asleep in a small bed in front of me, thankfully having calmed down by now. She wasn’t groaning in pain anymore, and the sobbing had stopped. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was steady. By the looks of it she was just sleeping peacefully. Bookmark here

We were in a small bedroom in a tiny one-story wooden building. There wasn’t much in the way of decorations or furniture. There was another bed in addition to the one Alena was sleeping in, and the chair I was sitting in. That was about it. Bookmark here

The room had a rectangular shape, and there was a door leading out to the rest of the house on one of the shorter walls and a small window peeking outside on the other. It was already dark since a while back, and I couldn’t see anything of what was outside. Bookmark here

That offer the woman earlier had been talking about? This was it. Bookmark here

Someone was offering a lot of money to anyone willing to sell out the princess. Bookmark here

But the way that woman saw it, she figured there was even more money to be made by keeping the princess safe and giving her back to the royal family, and without any of the potential moral implications any other choice would have had. Bookmark here

I didn’t know enough about this world or Alena’s family to say if that reasoning was right or not, but for now I figured I didn’t really have a choice. I wasn’t going to deny any help we could get. Bookmark here

If that help turned out to have been given on false pretenses? Then I’d take the time to feel bad about it properly, but at least Alena would be safe. I had already done much worse anyway. I didn’t have the energy to care about a small lie by omission. Bookmark here

While there had been a bit more discussion, the short version of things was that the woman had offered us a room for the night… Or the next few days, if needed. Bookmark here

Good to know there were some nice people in this world. Bookmark here

And that was how we ended up where we were, and why I was now sitting and watching Alena sleep. I would probably need to sleep myself at some point soon too. My droopy eyelids and the yawns I couldn’t hold back were already making that clear. Bookmark here

But I couldn’t sleep. Bookmark here

Didn’t want to sleep. Bookmark here

Not while I didn’t know if Alena was okay. Not while I didn’t know exactly what had happened. Not while I was still tormented by what I had done. What my magic had made me do… Bookmark here

No, I couldn’t just deflect the responsibility like that. It was my choice to use magic. Any of the consequences that came with it were mine to bear. Bookmark here

I sat there, waiting. Waiting for hours. Just watched Alena sleep. I didn’t move from where I was, didn’t even bother shifting the way I sat once my butt started aching from how long I sat still. Bookmark here

Both of us were in a rather sorry state. I was better off by far, but my clothes were less immune to fire than I was and that had given my outfit an even more ragged look than the one it already had before everything that happened.Bookmark here

But Alena… Bookmark here

She had numerous small burns all over her body. Dozens of them. Some of them had started to heal, and some of the smallest were already almost completely gone. There were also larger ones that looked less than pleasant. I didn’t know enough to say if those were ever going to vanish. Bookmark here

Probably almost a hundred burns, and all of them my fault. Bookmark here

Staring at them was probably not helping me. Bookmark here

But it was still my fault. Bookmark here

I felt like I needed to take responsibility. I wanted to do something… At the same time as I was utterly incapable of accomplishing anything. Bookmark here

The whole night passed uneventfully, almost nothing of note happening. Bookmark here

The “almost”, of course, implying something did happen. Bookmark here

For some reason Alena was using her illusion magic in her sleep. She only had time for three of them, but it was still… Rather unsettling. Bookmark here

The first was by far the creepiest. An illusion of myself, sitting on Alena’s bed. “I” was sitting in a rather weird posture, seemingly having my arms around something. It was kind of scary to see another myself sitting next to the sleeping princess, but the illusion didn’t move and disappeared a few hours later. Bookmark here

The second was an illusion depicting the princess herself. It was sitting in the same position the one of me had, except facing the opposite direction… Bookmark here

...That pose… Wasn’t that…?Bookmark here

I finally got up from where I was sitting and tried taking a seat opposite the illusionary Alena. Bookmark here

I matched the pose the illusion of me earlier had been sitting in, and…Bookmark here

...I blushed. Bookmark here

If she could have maintained more than one at the same time, the two illusions would have depicted us kissing. Bookmark here

The last of the three illusions stood out much less in contrast. Bookmark here

A red dress similar to the one she had been wearing when I first met her appeared on the princess. Bookmark here

Hadn’t she said she couldn’t use illusions on herself? Bookmark here

Had that been a lie? Bookmark here

Or… Bookmark here

I tried touching the dress. My hand went through it without effort. However, there wasn’t anything directly beneath the dress either. It took a few centimeters more before my hand actually made contact with Alena’s body. Bookmark here

So she wasn’t actually applying the illusion to herself, but to the air around her? That made me wonder if there was a specific distance limitation. How close to herself could she create an illusion? What about the one she put on me for her prank right before we left? What would, for instance, have happened to that one while she was sitting in my lap? Bookmark here

I didn’t know. Didn’t know the answer to any of those questions. Bookmark here

I barely knew the basics of magic. There was no hope of me being able to answer that kind of question. Bookmark here

I didn’t even know the basics of my own magic. Bookmark here

What I did know was that I could burn some kind of fuel to then store up energy. I could use that energy to unleash a variety of fire magic. Bookmark here

If I put it that way, it almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Bookmark here

But there were so many finer details I had no idea about. Bookmark here

How did I adjust the fire I was putting out? All the magic I had done so far had generated fire at a fixed intensity. A fixed heat. I could change the shape and size a bit, but I had no idea how to change any of the actual properties of the fire. Bookmark here

I also couldn’t do any fine-tuning. I could do stuff at, like… Set levels. Do certain things at set intervals. Conjure up a shield that was small, large, even larger, or absurdly gigantic. Do about the same thing if I wanted to attack. Do a couple of different attacks, and create barriers with a few different shapes. But all with the same restrictions. Bookmark here

And my magic still often didn’t do exactly what I wanted it to. Bookmark here

Usually that was fine. Bookmark here

Today it had been a major disaster. Bookmark here

Aside from the problem of control, somehow burning something gave me back much more energy than it should have. Where was the extra energy coming from? Did everything in this world just ignore energy conservation? As a former physics student in my past life I wanted to believe that wasn’t the case. Bookmark here

I needed answers. I needed to know more. Bookmark here

Even aside from just the magic, I needed to start making choices for myself. To stop just going along with things. To stop just doing what other people told me to do, what other people wanted me to do. Bookmark here

I knew that. I had all along. All the way since my past life. Bookmark here

But if I didn’t have anyone to tell me what to do...Bookmark here

How was I supposed to know what to do instead? Bookmark here

I needed to get better at magic…Bookmark here

...And I had also gotten utterly lost in thought. Bookmark here

And I had been touching Alena the whole time as well. Bookmark here

I retracted my hand when I realised where I had been touching for several minutes now.Bookmark here

Anyway, if I couldn’t sleep, and if Alena still was showing no signs of waking…Bookmark here

...I figured I could take the time to think about magic instead. Bookmark here

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