Chapter 4:

Catalysts

Peters' Crosses Side Story: Legacy of the Round


The angry mob, naturally, is even more ticked off seeing that I don’t seem to even notice that they were coming at us. And as a matter of fact, they’re right. These people pose no threat to me whatsoever, so I can’t ask for a better set of guinea pigs for my first class. Of course, the children don’t know it, but as long as they believe the danger is real, their potential can be realized.

“Um… what do you want me to do?” Softly asks the young girl, who is strangely calm even in the face of the mob, unlike her two siblings who are basically stiff as stone as they try to block people from going any closer.

“Tell me, Morgan… have you learned any basics on magic?”

“No,” the girl slowly shakes her head. “I just… know that I can do it recently.”

“Perfect. Then it means you’re not tainted by the regular way yet.”

To prove my point, I take out from another of my bag a small piece of paper and bite my finger, just enough to bleed a little. With the bloodied finger, I draw on the paper a symbol of unknown origin – to the people around here, that is. The letters “ארץ” signify land, the key to earth magic, and also Morgan’s affinity, if my theory is correct. For a human to naturally conjure magic without a catalyst, they would have to instinctively trigger spells within their affinity, after all.

“Do you know what this is?” Giving the piece of paper to Morgan, I ask.

Replying to me is another shake of the head.

“It’s a rune. One of the many ways for a person to do magic. Of all the spells you have done so far, none of them are really big or noticeable, am I correct?”

A nod confirms my theory.

“Now, you see those people over there, right? What do you want to do with them?”

The girl turns her attention to the chaos outside, seeing her brothers struggling to deal with the angry mob. Kay seems to be getting more and more tired, both physically as he’s forced to spread his arms as much as he can and stop the mad customers from advancing, and mentally as he’s bombarded with all kinds of screaming and shouting. The youngest, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all, but his pitiable strength can only help so much as he’s repeatedly pushed away and stands back up again only for the same thing to happen.

“Well… if they stopped moving… it would be good.” After a moment of thought, Morgan answers.

“Good. Now, how would you want them to stop moving?”

“What… do you mean?”

“Well… these people are clearly angry, right?”

“Yes.”

“And since they’re angry, it’s not easy to reason with them, right?”

“… Yes.”

“So, let’s say they can’t be reasoned with. Do you think anyone would help us?”

“… No. We’re in the wrong in the first place.”

“Correct. Now, imagine if it’s not a person that helps us, but some kind of natural phenomenon. What do you think would happen to stop them?”

“…” The girl hesitates for a moment, seemingly choosing her answer among the ones that have come up in her mind. “I guess… maybe their feet get stuck in mud… or maybe there’s an earthquake…”

Spot on. She doesn’t know it yet, but her mind is already subconsciously thinking of her natural affinity.

“Good. Now, I want you to focus on that scenario, and do what you always do with your magic while holding that piece of paper.” I conclude and give the rune to Morgan.

The young girl follows my instructions, raising her hand forward while still holding tightly the piece of paper she has received. And soon enough, her efforts have borne fruit. The rune on her hand glows an ever so slightly dim golden light, while the same small magic particles that appeared when she first showed her talents gather around her palm yet again, but this time in a higher density than before. At the scene of the crime, changes to the earth beneath the crowd have also been spotted, starting with a surprised voice from the back:

“Oi, what’s going on?”

“Ewww! The ground is all muddy all of a sudden!”

“What in tarnation! ...”

“Wait! It’s not just mud!”

“Help! I’m sinking!”

“Get me out of here!”

Surprised voices soon turn into screams of despair, as I can clearly see the angry mob sinking lower and lower into the ground, struggling with all their might to no avail as the seemingly bottomless pit continues to suck them into its depths. The young girl, seeing the dangerous nature of her spell, quickly lowers her hand and lets go of the rune in a panicked rush. As a result of the sudden stop in power, the muddy ground hardens in an instant, saving the mob from their certain doom, but also leaving them stuck halfway under the ground in the process.

“Wh… what d-do… I do now?” Asks the girl in gibberish. She must have been so used to her small, weak spell, but this will be a good learning experience nonetheless.

“Stay calm, Morgan. Now, think about a way to get them out of there. Maybe… the ground rises up and pushes them out, for example.”

“Okay!” She firmly nods. However, before she can pick back up the rune on the ground and resume her pose, the piece of paper has already returned to my hands, and with a snap of my fingers, the rune combusts into ashes in an instant.

“W-what was that for, Master?” Morgan asks again, this time even more scared than a few seconds ago.

“Why do you think that you were able to do that spell just now?” Ignoring the urgency in her voice, I ask.

“It’s the rune, right?”

“Right, but not entirely correct. The rune did help you with enhancing your magic, but all it did was just give you a bit of leverage. Think of it as if you’re getting a piggyback: you can get to places fast without being tired, but in reality, you can always just run on your own. Sure, it’s more tiring, but you can get there even faster if you’re sufficiently trained.”

“Do the spell, but this time with only your imagination,” I give out the second assignment. “The essence of magic is freedom; a powerful mind is the greatest catalyst you can have.”

“… Alright.” Morgan nods once more, seemingly still unsure of her own strength.

“Remember: the more detail you can imagine, the stronger the effect will be.”

The girl steels herself and raises her hand once more. The same golden glow radiates, this time from her entire body, and tiny particles float towards her fingertips yet again. Per my expectations, the speed and density of the energy around her are indeed visibly slower than before, but for essentially a novice, a result like this isn’t too bad at all. It should take a while, but she can do it without any problems.

The people at the scene seem to agree with me also, for their screams and shouts are slowly but surely being replaced by sighs of relief and cheers of joy as they realize their bodies are, bit by bit, being pushed up towards the surface once again. However, that’s not to say the screaming has stopped, but for some reason, their cries are getting a bit… different.

“Ouch! Easy on me there!” Shouts a person from far away.

“Oh, sorry. My bad.” Another voice answers. It seems like there has been some sort of scuffle among the ones stuck at the far end of the crowd, but this voice… I’ve heard it somewhere before.

Quickly following the voice are a multitude of the same kind of yelling and complaining happening in regular, breakneck-paced, intervals, and each time the voice sounds the exact same words again, accompanied by seemingly the sound of a fake laugh.

Wait. I remember now. This is bad.

“Morgan, Kay, Arthur! We’re getting out of here!”

“Going somewhere, magus?” The voice now sounds directly in front of us, and from the sea of people emerges a man. His white, unblemished robe is a strange sight to behold in a remote town like this one, but nothing can catch the attention of everyone more than the pair of giant white wings flapping on his back.

Stroking his blond hair as if to show off his dashing look, the angel continues. “We’re just getting to the good part.”  

Bubbles
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