Weekend huh? Been a while, I’ll go see me lad, I guess.
Hey there lad!
How’s it goin’ lad? Been a while, hasn’t it?
“A while? It’s been a whole year!”
That long, eh? Goodness me!
Only messin’, come ‘ere you!
Ahhh, hugs are wonderful things! Been a while since I had one o’ ‘ose!
“Oh, Dad, how’ve ya been? The job doing ya fine?”
Arthur! It’s been goin’ fine. The place I’m workin’ is a right wreck o’ a place but I’m doin’ fine.
“Yar back doing ya alright? Delivery seems a bit harsh on ya.”
Oh, it’s fine. A bit o’ a workout for me ain’t goin’ to do any harm. How about you? Got fired yet?
“Still this again? I actually got promoted a few months ago.”
Oh! Good on you. The wife still a pain as usual, I presume.
Eek! Seems like I woke the beast itself.
“Who’s that I hear?! Arthur, do we have a guest?!”
“It’s just me dad!”
“That weasel’s back?! If he’s back to beg for more money tell him no!”
“Ya heard her.”
I ain’t ‘ere for no money. I’m ‘ere to see me grandson. Not seen ‘em in a while. They sure grew didn’t they.
“Yeah, they’ve really shot up.”
So, how about carryin’ off on me story, shall we lad?
“I don’t remember what happened last time.”
I told you about the war remember.
Good enough! How’s about it?
"I'll leave ya two at it then."
Okay, so 'en! I was trainin’ with the Arch-Mage if you remember rightly. It's a lil' borin' goin' day-by-day so I'll skim through a bit.
After getting’ the permission to bring food up to the Arch-Mage every few months I covered more an’ more o’ the bits an’ pieces o’ magic.
I was told about how magic works, in how it’s similar to breathin’ in a sense. When an Aquariet takes in water, the body takes magic an’ filters the water into oxygen. By breakin’ up that process you can release mana instead. They tried to teach me in maths, but you see lad, I’m not the smartest in the head at that stuff. It took a while, but I got the hang o’ it. It took a good 2 months to learn how to release it, not the quickest o’ things to learn.
But once I learned how to ’exhale mana’, I then had to learn how to use it too. You see, magic’s like another part o’ your body, more accurately it’s apart o’ your soul. Whilst you can’t do anythin’ to your soul, you can take control o’ the magic takin’ refuge inside your soul. Difficult to explain, so I’ll simplify it for ye. Mana is what you get when you take the magic in your soul an’ bring it out. From there you can move or shape it however you want. But it does take a long while to figure out how to move or shape it though. I only figured it out after another couple months had passed.
Anyways, skippin' forwards, learnin’ one bit at a time, I managed to learn most o’ the basics o’ magic. Unfortunately, I was a slow learner—so I thought. Despite me good memory, not much I could do for getting me head around a system unfamiliar to me. An’ as slow a learner I am, I’ve got even less o’ a magic reserve. I could only manage a good couple o’ standard spells without collapsin’ from overuse.
Whilst most outsiders are lucky with ‘eir magic reserves. I wasn’t.
Me teacher could manage a standard spell with the power to shoot a beacon to the cavern sky, yet all I could muster was a dim glow.
But I wasn’t about to give up nine months in! I worked throughout each day, usin’ as much magic as I could to strengthen me reserve. Buildin’ on me endurance one spell at a time. Eventually bein’ able to use a good lot o' standard spells an’ not tire.
- Hey Ischlam, when can I learn the next stage o' spells? I asked.
- You want to learn the next stage? I'm not sure if you can handle it yet. If you use up all your magic you can die, you know.
- Really?! Why didn't ye tell me sooner?!
- Thought it'd demotivate you.
- Small news like 'at wouldn't demotivate me.
- We'll see if you can handle an advanced spell or two if you're that confident. But you clean up if anything goes wrong.
- Don’t have much faith in me do ye? Ah, well I’ll all but do me best ‘en.
Strikin' me stance I focused me mind an' awaited me teacher's instructions.
They took a pebble off the ground and walked over to me with it. What could they be doin' with that lil' stone? I wondered.
Mana surrounded the rock, eventually fizzlin' out an' disappearin'. They turned around to look at a big slab o’ rock lyin’ at the edge o’ the cliff.
They threw the pebble, right shot-through the giant stone.
- Your turn. Me teacher said, pickin’ up a pebble and passin’ it to me.
- Let’s see ‘en…
I focused me mana to me hand an’ surrounded the pebble with it. Nothin’ seemed to be happenin’ yet, I turned to me teacher awaitin’ instruction.
- Figure it out yourself.
- Myself? Ye’re the one teachin’ me!
- If you can’t do it, you can’t do an advanced spell either.
- This isn’t the advanced spell?
- Of course not, how would chucking a magic stone be advanced? If cooking a bit of fish on the magic hob, with a bit of seasoning, counts as standard, this is too.
- Is that about this mornin’? I’m tellin’ ye, that wasn’t anywhere near a difficult dish.
- So, you could’ve made it?
- No, o’ course not. I can’t cook!
- Why didn’t you say that earlier, you fool.
- Alright, alright. I’ll figure it out on me own then. I finally decided, closin’ me eyes to focus on takin’ out me mana.
I tried wrappin’ the mana tighter around the rock but to no avail. I wondered to me self on how I could figure it out—on how I could get that same fizzle I saw before. Then I thought of somethin’. I softened me grasp o’ the rock an’ tightened it again an’ kept repeatin’ it over an’ over. The rock’s gettin’ warmer, I thought to me self. I kept goin’, warmin’ it up even more an’ more. Eventually the magic began bubblin’, I was close. I began to take an even closer hold o’ the stone, clutchin’ it with a great grip. The bubbles packed up even closer together an’ made ‘eir way to a concentrated layer around the lil’ stone. Finally, I saw the fizzling, the bubbles seethed ‘eir way into the rock, eventually disappearin’.
I aimed the rock at the wall o’ stone an’ threw the pebble right at it.
The rock whizzed right through the wall, hittin’ it a lil’ to the left o’ the hole me teacher made just before.
- Alright, what’s next?
- Before we go to the next step you need to be able to use reinforce magic quicker
- Reinforce magic? Is that what it’s called?
- Yes, you’ve heard me say it enough times before, surely you would’ve remembered its name by now.
- Now, just keep practicing reinforcing the rock and we can go to learning the next step.
An’ just like me teacher told me to, I did just ‘at. I practiced the day away, tryin’ to improve me grasp on the spell. Sleepin’ away in the night an’ wakin’ up in the day; I practiced for a good week before bein’ able to cast it in a few seconds.
- Now can I get to the next step? I asked.
- We can now, I suppose, Me teacher answered. I shall just get something from inside first. They continued, turnin’ ‘eir back to make for ‘eir tower.
A few minutes later the mage came, in tow, out from ‘eir home, with quite a rather sized bag. It dragged the floors, pulled by some threads o’ rope, scrapin’ past the stone-hard ground, with rustles o’ sound bein’ held inside. ‘Eir void-shade shoes strode a confident cheer. You’d think he was hummin’ tune, with his jolly march—shoulders broad an’ wide.
Bringin’ the joyous jog to a halt, the Arch-Mage plopped down the sack o’ goods in front o’ us both an’ loosened the knotted rope’s hold.
I kneeled on the rough floor an’ opened up the bag. The Arch-Mage quickly rushed down to join me on the ground an’ took a tight grasp o’ its base. Starin’ down, I looked in the sack’s inners. Green, wavy stripes o’ different shapes an’ sizes filled it up to where the mage’s hands had taken ‘eir clasp. The stripes floated up—some bein’ stopped by me teacher’s careful grasp o’ the bag.
A few o’ the sack’s inners made ‘eir way out. Quickly grabbin’ hold o’ ‘em, I took the bag’s throat to stop anymore from escapin’ so that the Arch-Mage could wrap it back up with the rope.
Crisis averted, I brought me attention to the three long greens clutched in hand. Wrigglin’ around, I stared at the slimy, snot-deep things to find that I were takin’ hold o’ some strands o’ seaweed.
- Okay, why’d it take ye a good couple minutes to bring me some seaweed? Actually, forget ‘at. Why did ye even bring me a bunch o’ seaweed?
- For your training of course.
- Why an entire bag full? Why do you even have an entire bag full o’ this stuff?
- It works well with adding detail to my models.
- Alright, so what does this have to do with me next step o’ trainin’?
- Try reinforcing the seaweed. You’ll see. They said, crossin’ ‘eir arms an’ legs, as they tried makin’ comfort o’ the stone ground they were sittin’ on.
Givin’ ‘em a couple alrights, I relaxed me kneeled leg an’ sat me self down to join me teacher in rocky comfort.
I brought one o' the sticks o' seaweed over to me other hand, applyin' a tight hold o' mana, just as I had the rock, only for it to be squashed into juice—spreadin' out into the waters.
- That's odd.
-It es, es it not?
- Hmm. Maybe I'll... I thought to me self aloud, bringing a tiny cloak o' mana around one o' me two greens I had left.
I thought to reverse the process. Goin' from a weak coat o' mana to a constrict one, only for the seaweed to get crushed into a mushy ball—leakin' more o' 'at green juice, spreadin' into the waters.
Me eyes stared at the last bit I had in me hand—outside the rest o' the seaweed in the bag.
- Wouldn't you agree that rock es harder than seaweed? Me teacher asked, tiltin' 'eir head to the side.
- I thought you wanted me to figure it out on me own.
- It es a mere hint to guide, They answered, springin' back up straight an' strokin' 'eir non-existent beard with 'eir left hand. You shall still figure it out on your own.
- So it's harder to reinforce weaker things 'en?
- It es easier, He said, his finger pointin' up. Once you have the knowhow at least.
I tried constrictin' the mana around the seaweed slowly, yet for even more o' 'at green juice to cloud out.
Untyin' the bag an' quickly pulling some more seaweed out, I refastened it an' started tryin' to get me head around what was puzzlin' me.
After tryin' over an' over again; pushin' an' noddin' the seaweed with mana, for it to burst out in greens. I finally came to a thought. Could I use less mana? I moved me left hand away from the seaweed in me right an' tried practicin' bringin' out me mana.
I looked to be on the right tracks too. Me teacher gave me a reassuring smile an' nod as he took notice. An' so I kept on practicin' an' practicin' till eventually I finally got it figured out.
An' so I weakened me magic a lil' an' low an' behold, I reinforced the seaweed with no fail. I looked over to the Arch-Mage with a triumphant look on me face an' stood up in victory to stretch me limbs for some.
- What's the next step 'en? I asked the Arch-Mage, archin' me body in stretches.
- Next es weakening magic, He said, standin' himself up an' joinin' me in me exercises. It's the opposite of reinforce magic—as in you're weakening an object, instead of strengthening one—name speaks for itself.
- How does 'at work 'en?
- You should know by now that I shall not tell you the answers to what you must figure out yourself.
- Ye gave me a hint fer the last one. Give me a hint for this one too, would ye?
- A hint for thes one too, eh? The mage leaned back, givin' hold o' his chin with his left hand. Try practicing without anything front of you.
- So just practice on the air—err wait, water? I think to me self, tryin' to fumble me mind around what I had been told, eventually clickin' the information into place.
I first thought to try an' use reinforce magic, with the chrome, ball o' mana expandin' and contractin', from where I released it out o' me hand. An' I kind o' got a lil' lost part way through. I lost me thoughts as the gaze o' the mana swallowed me whole. The more I stared at it, the more details I noticed. Its rainbow shine. Its mind-bendin' appearance. It had that look where you just try to get a different view o' it from each an' every angle.
Yet I was gettin' distracted.
I went an' snapped away from the trance o' the dancin' mana an' got back into the flow o' me trainin'; stoppin' for breaks once in a while, when me magic supply would run cold.
I tried runnin' a pebble into some pre-casted reinforce magic. I didn't know what I had expected it to do; it just reinforced it. But I did find out somethin' in tryin', an' it'd be somethin' really important in me trainin'. Normally mana is rather restricted in movement or form when cast onto an object. I found 'at when you have it already casted, you can move it freely. Only issue is it drained me proper quickly. It was rather difficult to move it too. I kept improvin' an' improvin' on movin' the mana an' increasin' the amount I could move it. Eventually after a month o' practice I was able to keep it goin' for a solid minute.
Now, I realised after doin' all 'at practice, I had completely forgotten about the weakenin' magic I was to learn. Whilst 'at was really dumb o' me, I wasn't lettin' 'at get me down any time soon.
I started with tryin' to reverse the process o' reinforce magic again, this time on the water around me. Shocks behold: nothin' really happened. An' so I instead gave different ideas a shot.
I tried pre-castin' some mana onto a pebble with a weaker hold around it. Didn't work.
I tried normally castin' that weak hold o' mana onto another pebble. Didn't work.
I thought to try an' reverse the process as well as weaken me hold around a pebble. Didn't work. Nothin' worked. I kept goin' at it from different angles an' couldn't get anywhere with figurin' it out. I was gettin' rather tired o' it too. Boredom is somethin' I seem to always go back to eventually. But no matter how tedious, I wasn't lettin' it get to me.
An' eventually I finally got somewhere. I tried quickenin' the process o' reinforce magic. It seemed to do somethin'. I made it bubble far more than it would with reinforce magic. So I tested out the pebble, touchin' an' proddin' it to see any changes in its rock-solid form. Nothin' seemed too apparent. So, instead I tried reversin' the method as well. An' would you look an' behold, weakenin' magic.
Yes, I finally figured it out. I weakened the pebble. It became rather brittle. I could just drop it an' it'd break into chunks. So indeed, I was to then go onto me next step.
- Hey, Ischlam am I able to go onto the next stage yet?
- It shall be rather difficult to pull off but yes.
- So, what'll be the next advanced spell?
- Oh, don't tell me what I learned was just some basic ol' spell.
- I am afraid so, Says the Arch-Mage, strokin' his chin like a beard. But the next step; that shall be your first advanced spell.
- Well, I better get started 'en.
- Indeed you do.
In response to me teacher's words I stretched to get ready for whatever difficult task I had next. I asked what the spell I was learnin' was an' found I were to do that o' disintegration magic. It's quite the tricky one. Took me a long time to get 'at one figured out. I was told to use what I learned so far an' figure the rest out me self. An' o' course I weren't goin' along with 'at. I kept on askin' questions an' questions about the spell to no end.
- Wasn't disintegration magic what ye did to that flag on the day we first met?
- What flag?
- Surely ye remember.
- I recall owning a banner o' the Whale's Crest—I don't remember where it went though.
- Surely ye're jokin'.
- Anyways, I shall show you what it looks like first and—
- It's fine. I remember what it looked like when ye used it.
- When did I use it?
- When ye disintegrated the banner.
- Oh right! I remember now! Yes, yes that was it.
- No problem!
- Are ye goin' to teach me 'en?
- I am not a good teacher. I might try and do what I think a good teacher might do. But I'm rather sure you'd likely agree that I'm not one of those so called 'good teachers'. I am correct in saying so, am I not?
I avert me eyes.
- You can say—I won't get mad, Says the Arch-Mage itchin' at 'eir chin. How long have we known each other now?
- Alright, ye're a terrible teacher.
- You say it so bluntly.
- Well, ye told me to say.
- Lighten your words next time.
- Aye aye. I salute the mage.
- How patronising.
- I do me best.
- Do better.
- Will do.
- Anyways. Your training.
- Right! I jump up straight an' cross me arms. Any hints?
- Apply what you've learned so far.
- Well I know 'at much, tell me somethin' I don't know.
- I know 'at I don't have logic—isn't 'at close enough?
- Try applying it, then we shall see.
- That we shall!
I got into focus an' tried thinkin' on how to pull disintegration magic off. Wasn't long before I had the idea o' combinin' the two spells I learned so far an' puttin' it onto a pebble. It was always a pebble now 'at I think about it. Then again the area was littered with 'em. There was practically no end to 'eir numbers; that was one thing that really helped me out, I suppose.
Anyway, I used both o' the spells at once an' pre-casted 'em onto a freshly picked pebble. O' course it drained me much more than usin' just one spell. I didn't think about that, so I ended up tirin' each time I tried combinin' spells. But I seemed to have already figured somethin' out. But with somethin' comin' across so easily, I was certain somethin' would block me path. An' right I was.
Every attempt resulted in nothin' but a bit o' bubbles an' fizz. No mattter how much I practiced nothin' seemed to change from step one. I kept at it each day, workin' away an' gettin' nothin' in return. It seemed as though I hit a wall an' couldn't get passed.
- Alter how much mana you give the pebble. Me teacher gave me a rare suggestion. I took 'eir words an' put 'em into action.
Focusin' on a pebble on the ground, I pre-cast mana from both me hands and moved it over for another try. I lowered the amount o' mana I were puttin' into the reinforce magic an' low an' behold the rock started shakin'. I was gettin' the hang o' it. Yet, I felt so drained. I had to wait a while before givin' it another shot. Once more I didn't let it get to me. I knew what I had to do an' was startin' to get a good grip on the whole magic thing.
Eventually, after enough practice me magic supply was strong enough to last ages without tirin'. It was a good couple years since I started an' it showed. I was able to keep mana cast for age. So I tried once again, a hand at disintegration magic.
I lessened the amount o' mana in me reinforce magic. After the pebble I were castin' onto began to shake, I started increasin' the amount o' mana in me weakenin' magic. It came naturally. I knew what to do without thinkin'. All the pieces fit into place. I kept on repeatin' the process until the pebble's shakin' turned to a vibration. An' finally, it tore into bits. The bits turned to a cloud o' grey an' dispersed out into the waters around me. I finally got it.
An' with me first advanced spell learned I could move onto the next. Heat magic. But to learn 'at we had to set out, off from the Wastelands, and go to the Boils. A journey that would end up causin' many issues in my time. An' I'm afraid that's a tale I'll tell you another time. For I am very, very hungry.
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