Chapter 15:

Cradle of Ignorance

The Writer of Magic

The trip to Arcania was a long one. But it did told me one thing about the country. It had undergone a significant change.

Before the lockdown, I wrote it as a paradise of beauty and knowledge. Where scholars and tourists alike were enjoying the sunlit landscape and a sea of pure azure. A land undisturbed by erosion, one that will weather even the stormiest of seasons and the ever changing

The trip there by boat was one thing, nothing but the sound of the waves and the glistening sun beating down on us. Good thing the garment that General Nagatsugikiri was light and not heat absorbent. I observed the other passengers, majority of them were recruits like me. But I was the only one with a different uniform. Which is to say, I was the odd one out.

"Attention all passengers. We are approaching Suncrest Pier, please prepare your luggage as we disembark. As always, once we enter the premises, please wear the Arcanum at your earliest opportunity."

A terminal suddenly drives past us and hands me a miniature tablet roughly the size of a hot pocket. The terminal then embedded itself on my wrist and I felt a sharp pain as it's spindles dug deep in my flesh. I knelt in pain and tried hard not to scream. It was like a hot sword cutting my wrist off.

All of the other recruits knelt down in pain as well, but they were screaming and kicking from the pain. I heaved as I resisted the urge to try and pry off the device. A few minute later, the pain subsided. And the embedded device was now glowing green.

'Welcome to Arcania, I am your personal terminal. Please give me a name.'

The device was a bit weird, but I did gave it a name. Something easy and it just popped in my mind.

"Zero." I said and a miniature display appeared. It took the form a small child.

"Greetings Master Caliesto, I am Zero. Your personal arcanum, ready to assist you however I can." It said, it was making a wide array of facial expressions.

"Uh... What are you doing?" I asked. And it's facial expression mimicked my perplexed face.

"I apologize master, but I was curious about the thing called as 'emotion'. Plus... Your subconscious has commanded me to study it." It said and I did felt guilty about it. I always wanted a companion in a form of an AI. Someone to talk to other than my inner thoughts.

"Also uh... Don't call me master. That's too formal for my tastes." I told Zero and it nods.

"Understood, what should I call you?" Zero asked.

"Call me Yman." I said and it's expression turned bright.

"Calling my owner in a first name basis. I must be the happiest Arcanum in all of history. Anyways, we are arriving in Arcania in a few minutes. Please be sure that you are prepared for disembarking." Zero told me and I stood up, my legs felt like jelly. But at least I wasn't as bedridden as the other recruits.

The ship came to a steady halt, and with the glare of the noon sun was the first to greet me, I've arrived in the Bastion of the East, Arcania.

I knew that it was weird, but I could feel it. The whole island appeared normal, but if you were mana sensitive, you would know. The whole area is being surrounded by a vortex of mana. It was so condensed it made me sick just by looking at it.

Aside from the twisting storm, someone or something was singing. I couldn't comprehend it that since, the storm was making me lose focus. But from the tone and from the level... it sounded like a little boy singing.

"Are you okay Yman? Are most humans as weak as you?" Zero asked.

"What's that suppose to mean huh?" I glared at the AI.

"I mean, you are experiencing nausea, headaches, and partial muscle weakness. So, I assume that you have a weak constitution." Zero said and I didn't even rebuke him for that assessment.

"I'm just sensitive to mana that's all." I admit and the AI nods.

"Your mana sensitivity is strong. If I were to compare, it is the same as the Sage of the Gold Tower. Perhaps, even as on par with the Grand Sage." Zero said and I just shake my head. Me? Have a strong sensitivity?

I mean, sure... I hadn't expected that the body that I possessed, no... The Extra that I possessed had a strong affinity in magic. Because I know this kid is a faceless person in the crowd. And somehow... I changed his fate. Now, the name Yman Caliesto is being spoken in everyone's lips.

"Yman, are you okay?" Zero asked and I nod. Walking towards the maelstrom of mana, I felt my knees getting weaker by the minute, as the condensation of mana was getting heavier. I was already sweating bullets because it was already an effort underneath the glare of the sun. Once I reached the Entrance of Arcania, I finally felt fine. Yet something scanned my Arcanum device and my whole body. And a speaker welcomed me:

"Welcome to Arcania, Cadet Caliesto." It said and heads turned towards my direction. Their eyes were full of expectation, anger, and disdain. Walking towards the plaza, I could feel their gaze, their whispers. 'Spellcaster' they called me. I mean, I am, but that doesn't mean I'm an exotic animal on display for them to look at 24/7.

"So, the child who speaks to the mana has arrived at last." An elderly man's voice boomed across the whole plaza. His velvet robes billowed in the wind, his cane was imbued with a powerful mana crystal. His gray eyes bore on me like I was an elaborate piece of meat that can be bought in a 20 peso store.

"Cadet Yman Caliesto, reporting sir." I saluted to him, judging by his superior presence. He was Grand Sage Daban. But my greeting was met by a hostile glare.

"Only a cadet. How tame. Seems the tales of your capabilities were... overly exaggerated. Fine, get sorted then. We'll see how you'll fare in this academe." The Grand Sage said and he strolls off. His impression of me was... Terrible. To the point that he was openly disapproving of me as a whole. And it seems like everyone in the plaza was in agreement.

A Spellcaster who made waves in Calastro's Main Academy, a participant in the subjugation of the Sandata Ruins, and a key member of those who found the God of Woods in the Kusanagi Rainforest. And they are met with a person who was only in the rank of Cadet. Talk about a major downgrade of views.

But the less people looking at me, the more I can move freely. As I move away from the plaza, a sea of humans took me by surprise when I crossed the way towards the Arcadis, the Research Facility and the screening for recruits.

I initially wrote the screening process like this: by the sages' evaluation and discernment, but I think the new author had other ideas. The screening, according to Zero, was a hand picked assignment based on the performance of every cadet held in the Arcadis Training Centers. There are 4 schools in the region; Arcadis is more on research, Magisteria is on Academics, Fortis is on topographical and cultural affairs, as well as national security, And finally, Arkham, the Magic Medical facility.

"Zero... What's the best place for me?" I asked. And the AI was making that scanning sound, after a few minutes, it was done.

"After careful evaluation, you are best suited in the Fortis Section. You have the combat experience, and are more attuned to violence rather than words." Zero said.

"Ease up on the roasts." I sighed and I head towards the Arcadis building. It did had the feel of a collegium, with the black and white marble, emblazoned with gilded gold and bronze.

I walked up towards the reception, which was also an Arcanum device. But it had a humanoid like structure with a pure platinum plating with silver dragon-like marks.

"Recruit, please bring up your arcanum for security clearance." It said and I did what it asked.

I put my wrist where it was and its hand suddenly became a scarlet scanner-like device and fired a beam that almost seared my wrist off clean. A few minutes in, my arcanum device was removed from my wrist. The device fell on the floor with a loud clunk.

Wait... Why did they remove my terminal? And what happened to Zero?! My heart raced, did they took Zero back and everything he knew about me?

"I guess this is what humans call... 'panic'? Yes?" Zero's voice sounded from my head.

'Zero?!' I thought.

"The installation process is complete. I am now apart of you as long as you are inside Arcania." Zero said in my brain. "And don't worry, I'm here as a sort of guide for you."

That made me feel relaxed a bit. But still, he scared me a little there. I looked at my wrist where the device was embedded, sure enough a scarlet mark was left on my wrist. It was shaped like a barcode, minus the numbers.

"Cadet Caliesto, please proceed to Training Area Alpha. We wish you the best of luck." The android said.

Training Area Alpha, the one with the silver stag like tree. A replica of the sacred tree of Elham stands proud, the bark made out of alabaster marble, as if mirroring the real thing.

Elham, the sacred tree of life, is said to house the power of Light. No one knows where it can be found, but I know the scholars here are trying hard to find it. Since they are also searching for something.

From what I can remember from what I wrote, the sages never placed a lockdown, rather, they were openly distrustful, especially to Toby's whole platoon. And the initial goal of Toby was to recruit his final member, an Elementalist with the name of Zira.

"Get a move on recruit, you're the last one to be sorted." An academic said as he brushed past me but not before smacking the back of my head with a scroll.

'The hell was that for?' I asked myself.

'I believe he was exhibiting... 'arrogance'. Zero told me and I sighed... Now I have someone who would tell me stuff that I may or may not need to hear.

I scratched my head and run towards the training center. Inside, was a sea of heads and an ocean of glares. I really was the last person to be present. Above the podium, were the sages. Old men with shimmering staves. They are also the representatives of each magic tower.

"Cadet Yman Caliesto, stay on stand by. For being tardy, you will be participating on this assessment trial solo." The Red Sage, Dalamar said. Master of the Red Tower, he is also the overseer of the Magisteria.

'They are singling you out Yman.' Zero concluded and I sighed. Figures...

I saluted and wait for my turn as the instructors told us what to do.

"The Trial will measure your combat and analytical skills, as well as your adept use of magic. But be forewarned: Your magic must be limited to what element you should use. Please refer to your number and let your Arcanum translate it for you." They said and I was the last to be given a number.

'Zero?' I called him out.

'Hold on. Hmm... Weird. Your number... It doesn't make sense.' Zero told me.

'Huh? What?' I began to panic internally, but I kept calm and looked at the podium. The Red Sage, the Blue Sage, and the Grand Sage were looking at me, as if they were expecting my reaction.

'So those old fogies did something huh?' I asked. 'Zero... is there anyway to fix that?'

'It's a simple fix Yman. I just rearranged it since it didn't make sense initially. They underestimated this AI's capabilities.' Zero said smugly. And if Zero was that confident then...

I flashed a smug look on my face towards the sages, and their faces went tomato red with fury. But they couldn't say anything.

'Yman, that face you made was creepy.' Zero said and I told him to can it.

According to Zero, the element I'll be using was Water. That could be either really bad for me... or really good.

Mana is formless, but to me, a spellcaster. I can shape that mana into anything, so long as the region's levels permits me. In Arcania, there is an overabundance of Light Energy, which is almost a polar opposite of Water, since it belongs to the Darkness Attribute.

So the Water element here is a bit... weak. But I was hoping that my task would be a bit simple.

"Caliesto, change of plans. You will be the first to perform this test." The instructor said and I scowled, but only glanced at the podium. The sages were still fuming, but they were being smug about my situation.

Every recruit was also giving me a glance over, and for once... I was actually afraid. Whatever the challenge was... I don't know about it. And I'm going in alone.

'You're not alone Yman. You've got me!' Zero informed me like a ping and I chuckled, earning me some concerned glances.

"Yeah... you're right, guide me safely Zero." I said as I rush for the simulation gate, which immediately greeted me with a splash of water.

I am slowly starting to hate Arcania and it's people.

The Writer of Magic