Chapter 35:


Fighting For My Freedom In Another World

The next day, me and Alena were outside.

Just a few meters away from the house we had stayed the night in. Alena had discussed with the woman who owned the building, and would arrange for some sort of reward once she got back to the capital and her father.

We hadn’t yet decided whether to continue or go back. Did we abort the mission, now that we could so clearly say we were thoroughly unfit for it? Turn back to safety, prepare and train, and then ask for another mission we actually could handle.

On paper it seemed like a rather attractive prospect.

There were just a few caveats.

For one thing the mission was supposedly about stopping some sort of criminal activity. If you were a criminal and you realised someone had caught on to what you were doing, would you just stay where you were? Or would you go somewhere else, hide out somewhere where nobody would have a clue what you were up to?

I would have chosen the latter.

In other words, this wasn’t the kind of mission we could try again at. The best we could hope for would have been to be granted a different mission, a new chance at being pardoned.

If that was all there was to it, it would have been an easy decision.

But there was also the matter of my own circumstances. How I had come to this world in the first place.

And that was why we hadn’t been able to agree on what to do.

I wanted us to go back, because Alena’s life would be in danger if we didn’t.

Alena wanted us to continue, because my life would be in danger if we didn’t.

We had argued about it for all of about a minute before we mutually agreed that our time would be better spent on other things, and postponed the debate until later. Maybe we couldn’t agree on how to solve the problem, but at least we could agree that neither of us wanted to deal with the problem just yet.

Which was why we found ourselves doing something else useful instead… At least after I had pestered Alena to ask if she really was fine about a dozen times, and she had repeatedly reassured me she wasn’t feeling any pain anymore.

That left us back at the present moment, where Alena had promised to help me figure out things about how my magic worked.

“So, what do you know about magic? I know you can use it, and that you’re pretty powerful. What else?”

“Basically just what you and other people have told me these last few days. That’s it. And the stuff you’ve seen me do. But that’s all.”

Alena pondered that for a moment, stroking her chin while deep in thought.

“So what you’re saying is, basically… You know more about other people’s magic than your own at this point?”

“I hope you do realise I said absolutely none of that.”

“But it’s the conclusion I could draw from thinking about it. The only people you’ve heard talk about magic should be me and that old man we met. I’ve only told you about my own so far, and the old guy just told us his story. In other words, assuming you have no other source of prior information that you have neglected to tell me about… You know quite a few things about other people’s magic, but absolutely nothing about your own!”

For some reason she pointed dramatically at me.

She stood still like that for a while, adjusting the pose slightly to make her look even more dashing. After about two minutes she eventually gave up on it and went back to standing normally.

“Now that I think about it, that witch was known for always using fire magic, and I’ve also only ever seen you use fire magic… You wouldn’t happen to be up for checking if you can do anything else?”

“If people only ever have seen her use fire magic, wouldn’t it stand to reason she probably couldn’t do any other magic?”

“She could have a situation similar to mine going on. How I didn’t have my illusion magic innately and stuff.”

Alena had a point. If both she and the old man could use two types of magic for different reasons, what was there to say the witch also couldn’t for one reason or the other?

But how did I check that?

I could just kind of use fire magic intuitively. If I wanted to intentionally try to do something else, how would I do that?

Just try doing it the same way I did with my fire? Worth a shot.

I closed my eyes. Tried to do the same thing I always did when I used magic. Reach out for the fire that always was burning inside me.

It reacted almost immediately, ready to do my bidding at a moment’s notice.

I rejected it. Probed deeper to see if there was anything else.

Went as far as I could, only to find nothing but emptiness. Or? There was some slight trace of something there, but… Nothing I could use.

“There’s not much. Just flames, fire, heat. The same old magic as always. There seems to be something else there too, but I can’t use it. Just tiny fragments of something.”

“Guess murderous witches get bored of things all the same as the rest of us. She must have tried to learn a couple other types of magic and quit before she got anywhere. It’s pretty common for people to get far enough to leave behind a couple traces they tried, but not… You know, far enough for anything actually useful.”

No matter how much bad stuff you had done, I guess that didn’t make you exempt from basic human nature, laziness and procrastination included. That did raise a question, though.

“Speaking of all that stuff about learning magic, how does all this stuff actually work anyway? What I’ve been able to piece together is that there’s different types of magic, and… Most people know one from the start, I guess? And you can learn more types, but not use them at the same time as what you had from the start? What else should I know?”

“That’s already pretty good. The only thing you’re missing is that innate magic also has to be learned. To some extent. It’s just that… Let’s say you grade your knowledge of some specific type of magic on a 100-point scale.”

Alena held up both of her hands parallel to each other, a distance of about a meter between them to represent the scale.

“In that case, any magic you have will innately will start at around 30”, she brought her hands closer together to demonstrate, “while you need to learn other magic from scratch.”, she clapped her hands together.

“So those things I felt are types of magic the witch started to practice but never got anywhere with? How long does it take to get magic to an usable level?”

“Usually a few hundred hours of practice for each step, if we’re still going with the 100-step scale analogy.”

“So considering how well you can use illusion magic..:”

“I’ve spent hundreds of hours practicing, yes. Illusions are easy to practice even while you’re doing other stuff, you know. I can just put them on the castle roof or something and no one will ever know… Of the people inside the castle, at least. Visitors have gotten scared a couple of times though.”

“That seems… Exactly like the kind of thing I would expect you to try.”

For better, or for worse.

Perhaps Alena didn’t realise it herself, but even if her silly side was both cute and charming, there was always the risk she would end up doing something stupid that could backfire on herself. That exact sort of thing had already happened almost as soon as we left the castle, even.

More importantly, if she didn’t take things seriously enough when the situation called for it…

...I was afraid I was going to lose control and do something irreversible, and she would walk right into it with open arms, smiling the entire time as she burned to nothing.