Creation: The Path of a God
The mana crystal in her mouth was like a children's candy. With her heightened senses, the words William spoke were heard much clearer despite the helmet covering her ears. It was as though he were right next to her, and she didn't have her armor while they were in a silent room.
"I understand the associated risks, but things will worsen if we encounter chowon gwemuls. Right now, we are in an area where they are typically found, with the grass being this tall. There is also the fact that we need to spot a forest soon, so we can set up camp for the night." She sucked on the crystal, feeling like she was enjoying a poisonous treat.
Releasing a heavy sigh, "You may be right. And you are not the type to abuse those crystals."
The sun continued to journey through the sky as their group made their way through the ocean of grass, where the road was the only thing that helped to guide them. Surrounded by the tall grass was not the first time for them, considering forests and grasslands were mainly what existed around Illumin. But it also brought them a familiar feeling of having something just out of sight follow them. As the wind rustled the grass, many of the students grew anxious but were still able to restrain their emotions.
Valessandria continued to extend her senses around the group like a bubble that tried to detect anything other than the grass. Her mind tried to find movements that didn't match her students, the horses, William, and the wagon. She was never really talented in sensory magic though it was a skill necessary to have in her previous duties.
"Calm your mind," She relaxed and tried to shed away the world around her felt through her five senses. It was a complex process while balancing on the horse and trying to maintain some awareness of herself.
Slowly, the world melted away, and she found herself in darkness aside from a faint bluish glow. Entering the space while also performing a task in the outside world was akin to wrestling a stream, the water escaping her grasp if she was too aggressive. Looking down, the horse had a strange outline as though it was being filtered out. This was the case with William and the students behind her. As she turned her head, the grass was transparent like everything else she actively tried to keep out and not waste energy to detect. Without realizing her action, Valessandria licked the crystal in her mouth, and the world she saw became negligibly easier to hold onto.
Up above her, the bluish glow of the world faded, and only a black nothingness could be seen. She couldn't help but feel tempted to increase what she could see due to the crystal in her mouth, but the thought was quickly dismissed. While in the world, there were tendrils of fear slowly growing inside her the more she relied on the crystal.
"I am here just to monitor our immediate surroundings. I just need to gain a few seconds to help alert the group if something is approaching us." Valessandria tightly held onto the thought, forcing the temptation to ingest the crystal and absorb all the tantalizing mana in one sitting.
Checking through the grass, she sighed in relief to see that there was nothing around them.
"Is there anything out there?" The voice of William echoed in the world as though her mind was trying to conserve its energy and remove anything that didn't align with her purpose but would only take more mana from her.
There was a ripple in the world as William talked to her, making her reflexively try to hold onto the state of mind that was precariously balanced. His words were like him tossing a ball as she juggled other items far more dangerous. Licking the crystal, the world stabilized in her mind though the bluish light decreased proportionately. Taking a slow deep breath, she waited until she felt things had stabilized. She slowly shook her head, feeling the mana in the air react to her distraction.
William stayed silent, understanding the struggle of maintaining the mental world created when using sensory magic on the scale Valessandria was working with. The delicately held world that allowed the user to see their surroundings could shatter instantly from even the slightest lax in concentration.
Valessandria's lips wordlessly moved, chanting out the words that helped her to concentrate. "Everything is an illusion. My mind is the world. The flow of mana reveals all." Repeatedly the words silently poured out of her mouth to help maintain her ties to the area around her.
No longer did the heat bother her, but even then, she could feel the sweat dripping down her face. A drop of sweat traveled down her to her eye. There was a stinging sensation, but all she did was slowly blink and attempt to clear the salty liquid. It helped that the pain felt dulled though her surroundings trembled, ready to burst. Continuing with the words, Valessandria fought to maintain her concentration, knowing that she'd need to retain it until they reached an appropriate place to rest. The mana inside her slowly decreased like a hole at the bottom of a bucket. Even with the crystal, the fact that she didn't crush it in her mouth and swallow the pieces made it so the rate at which her mana reserves were being used was greater than what the crystal supplemented. Fortunately, it helped reduce the rate at which the energy inside her was consumed.
William shook his head as he watched Valessandria try to detect any dangers in the area.
"She is pushing herself too hard," He grimaced, wishing there was something he could do.
The issue was that though he knew how to use sensory magic, from his experience, his technique was significantly worse than hers. Even with a mana crystal in his mouth, the exchange would be too severe, and he'd run out of mana within an hour. Worse, if a monster or bandit attacked their group, he'd need to take another crystal. He shivered at the thought of taking more than one in a day. Licking his lips, William tried not to imagine the feeling of power he'd gain upon taking a crystal. The fact that his body was so eager made him feel warier of the crystal. That was on top of how most people who used sensory magic could barely hold onto the necessary state of mind, even with minor distractions. It was one of the reasons why only a few tried to develop proficiency with sensory magic.
William tightened his fist, wishing there was something he could do to lessen her burden but knowing there wasn't anything he could do. He just needed to focus on guiding their group to a camp so that she could rest for the night.
Seeing the sun getting closer to the horizon with nothing in sight for them to stay safely in the grasslands, William prayed for any help.