Chapter 1:

Let's Build a Sandcastle!

I am but a Cloud, Floating from Place to Place

I am but a cloud, floating from place to place.

I hovered over the sea: an ever-expansive body of blue-green water, ebbing and flowing to the pull of the moon. The view up there was plain and repetitive, but it always made me feel relaxed. My form grew puffier the longer I remained. Though, wringing myself out every once in a while was rather annoying, sort of like dealing with a sunburn after swimming.

However, the sea itself did not interest me. Rather, the edge of the sea, or the beach as the people called it, was much more captivating.

A small strip of sand separated the waves of the sea from the stones of a nearby path. People both big and small occasionally settled down on the strip for a few hours, either playing on the sand or swimming in the water. The people wore no clothes the first few times I visited; however, now they wore rather scant clothing, covering only some parts of their body. No idea why the people wanted that, but at least the colors were interesting to look at.

Near the shoreline, where the sand turned dark with each passing wave, little people carried buckets to scoop up sand. Once filled to the brim, they dragged the buckets back to dryer ground. Then, the little people flipped the buckets over, some of them smacking its bottom to knock loose anything stuck. As the bucket rose, a small hill in its shape appeared, standing tall against the slowly encroaching waves. The process was then repeated and, with a few tweaks from their hands, a sandcastle formed.

As the name implied, the sandcastles were made of sand. That might sound rather simple, but I had floated over sand many times, so I knew how fickle it could be. If someone poured a cup of sand onto the ground, it wouldn’t retain the shape of the cup. The sand would simply spread onto the ground, at most creating a small mound. Even if the sand could retain its shape, a gentle breeze would easily blow the sand away. And yet, a sandcastle managed to retain its shape, able to weather somewhat moderate winds. It must have something to do with the water.

Now, as a connoisseur of water, it was only fitting that I should create a sandcastle myself! Of course, it couldn’t just be a regular sandcastle. That was much too small! To even see the sandcastle the little people created, I had to enhance my vision tenfold using mana. Therefore, the only thing to do was build a sandcastle the size of an actual castle. In fact, I already had one in mind: a castle so tall that it reached the clouds above. One so imposing that it struck fear into the people who saw it.

But first, I needed to find a larger patch of sand. The patches I stumbled across were not big enough to construct such a monstrosity. The little people only seemed to use sand, so the place needed to be devoid of other creatures as well. I could not have their bodies making the sandcastle weaker.

Such a place had to exist somewhere in this world.



About a season later, I had finally found a place. I probably would’ve gotten there sooner if I didn’t leisurely float along the wind, but…eh.

The ground was not quite made of sand but more of a mix between dirt, sand, and gravel. But that was fine. Probably.

Additionally, the wind rarely blew over, and the area was so abundant in mana that no living creature could survive. Even the occasional tree was long dead – its color dulled to a light gray, matching that of the ground. The stillness of the gray land even extended to the shadows, remaining frozen as the suns passed overhead. It was the perfect place.

With that, let’s make a sandcastle!

First, I needed to move the sand. Unlike people, I did not have hands, but I didn’t need them. With the mana surplus, it was pretty easy to manipulate the wind. Watching the mana users among the people, I learned how to use mana. It was actually rather simple.

Just look and think.

Well, technically, I had to be a bit more specific than that. I couldn’t just go, ‘Move sand there.’ What sand? Where was ‘there’? However, if I specified a source, destination, and quantity, the mana would have enough information to take care of the rest.

And so, the wind moved the sand…


Honestly, it was a bit hard to tell if anything was happening at all. Is the wind only moving one grain at a time? The suns were already starting to reach their apex in the sky above. Or was it already the next day? I wasn’t paying attention, but this was definitely taking too long.

Maybe a bit more wind?

WHOOSH! Fssss.

Yep. The rest of the sand moved in a few seconds, leaving a giant, cone-shaped hole in the ground.

I’ll just pretend I didn’t see it.

Next, I needed to shape the sand. Manipulating the wind also helped…well, more than nothing, at least. The sand spun as the wind shaped it into the form of a bucket. Once the wind stopped, a bunch of sand flew off in every direction, which left…


…a mound.

Yes, a mound. The sand couldn’t hold its shape, but I expected as much without water.

Time to rain some water then!

Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.

And now, when I shaped the sand…


…it still turned into a mound. However, less of the sand went flying off this time.

Let’s try a bit more water.

Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.


Now the mound was a muddy puddle. That was too much water then. I had to start over; it was much easier than trying to separate sand and water.


Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop. Plop.

No ‘Phmphhhh’? No ‘Burble’?

…it’s standing up.


A small hill, partially in the shape of the bucket, stood tall. It didn’t collapse into a mound or turn into a pond. It was a proper sandcastle – the start of one, anyway.

All I had to do was make it bigger. Though, I used up most of the water within me – my form was much more cirrus now. I was going to need a lot more water to make a larger sandcastle, so I would have to import the water from a nearby source.

But that still leaves where to put it…wait.

I looked at the giant holes left behind from moving the sand.

…that’ll work.

Focusing for a moment, I located the nearest water source with mana. It seemed the water was from a lake inside a forest. It was a bit far away, but this gray patch was in the middle of nowhere. I would be surprised if there was any natural water nearby.

Manipulating the water and wind, the water from the lake rose in the air before shooting off towards me, falling into the holes below. They were filling up rather nicely.

A few days later, as the second sun disappeared from the sky, I finally had enough water!

Time to make it larger!


After several more long days, I had finally–



I tried upscaling the sandcastle, but apparently, after a certain size, it turned back into a mound! The only way it stayed standing was if the castle looked like a giant cone. However, that just looked weird. I wanted the sandcastle to look like an actual castle, not a giant cone!

Regardless, even if I reduced the size of the sandcastle, there was no way to create an overhang for an entrance. The sand would simply plop to the ground. What was the point in making a giant castle if you couldn’t go inside?

I tried thousands of things to make the sand sturdy. Adjusting the ratio between sand and water did absolutely nothing. It just turned into a mound or a muddy puddle even quicker. Trying to create different shapes also didn’t help. The sand was only stable as a cone. Adding in more dirt and gravel? Nope. Nothing I tried worked.

What was left?


…maybe mana? But the sand is already imbued with mana.

…maybe more mana? I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

I steadily imbued more mana into the damp sand beneath me.

The damp sand turned into…damp sand. Nothing happened, but maybe I just couldn’t see it. Manipulating the wind, I tried to shape the sand.

It remained perfectly still.

Did that actually work?

This time, I tried a stronger breeze, focusing its tip into a thin blade. However, it only made a small scratch.

I kept increasing the strength of the wind. More grains were flying off, but it wasn’t cutting the damp sand. It took the force of a natural disaster to actually cut and reshape the sand.

It was rather surprising, but I had to try something else first: did it work without water?

Yep. It’s still holding its shape.

Seriously?!? What was the point of the water then? Did people just like making their lives harder?!? Why didn’t I try mana in the first place?!? That was probably how people made walls come out of the ground! Why didn’t I think of that earlier?!? Mana was always the answer!



A giant, imposing sandcastle reached just below where I hovered, standing tall in this giant patch of gray. I ended up making the sandcastle even more monstrous than what I remembered to let off some vapor. If I had used mana in the first place, it would’ve saved countless seasons of trial and error, but I shouldn’t focus on the past. Rather, I should feel proud that the sandcastle was finished.

“[Ray of Light]!”

And then, a giant beam of white light sliced down from the sky above, splitting the sandcastle and I straight down the middle.

“[Meteor Smash]!”

And, as if out of spite, a giant meteor passed through me, slamming into the sandcastle. A giant cloud of sand quickly spread in all directions. It took a while for the sand to settle, but when it did, nothing of what I toiled for seasons to create remained. There was only a giant hole.


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