When I cracked open another box, hoping for that elusive diamond key a spider jumped out and devoured me. I sent myself directly to the gray.
“Would you care to continue, Miss Knight?”
“Of course I would! I’ve got armor to collect.”
“Right, but before you do, didn’t you promise to recite the memorized names for me?”
“I allowed you not recite them last time because you appeared to be in a hurry.”
“Okay, Let me think!” I put my hands to my temples like a certain lovable stuffed bear.
After a second he said, “Start with the country Nenvari comes from.”
This one was easy since I’d been exposed to the name so many times. “Goraitheshselan.”
“Good, Now the major Light Fae kingdom.”
This one was harder. I knew it sounded like Say, Rayvo, hint that land. “Seirei Vohinthaslan.”
“Good, now the queen, first consort and heir of that country.”
“That wasn’t in the deal.”
“I did ask you to memorize them.”
It took a minute for me to remember what funny names I gave them but I managed it. “Queen Ruler Vasena, Consort Gaerm and Princess Yoishay.”
“You did well.”
I sighed. “I do want to be a doctor. I can’t be one if I can’t memorize stupid scientific names which are about as awkward as these, though they tend to make more sense.”
He chuckled. “And what about—”
“Enough. Tell me what the country names mean.”
He cleared his throat. “Very well. Goraitheshselan is a combination of words that basically mean A Beautiful Darkened Land Under Light.”
“And Seirei Vohinthaslan is also a combination of words that mean essentially, The Celestial Land of Exquisite Loveliness and Strength of Spirit.”
“Oh. I can see how its actual name is easier to say than that.”
“You aren’t going to tell me what all those royal people’s names mean, are you?”
“Do you want me to?”
“Then, let’s get you back to the cave so you can claim your new armor.”
That was when I remembered my mana point. “Wait! I need to learn my next spell.”
“Very well then. Please take your time.”
“Will do!” I grinned. “This is my fourth mana point.”
He eyed me skeptically. “Miss Knight, how many mana points did you start with.”
He coughed in obvious surprise.
“What? You said magi tend to start with lower mana than mages.”
“Yeah, 6 or 7. But you only had one?”
“Didn’t I tell you?”
“I would have remembered that.”
“It doesn’t matter. I’ve already come to the conclusion that I am not the greatest magic user. I’m fine with that. Now please hand over my book.”
He took out my tome and placed it gently in my hands.
I reviewed the simple spell, Minor Cleanliness. It was a little different from the others in that I had to think of what I wanted to remove from an area before I cast the spell. It didn’t actually remove the dirt or what I considered dirt from an area, instead it gathered the individual components that made up the dirt and formed them into solid balls in the center of the cube. They would then either go into my inventory or fall depending on what I willed them to do. It was such a weird spell description. Its complexity made its cost understandable.
It also came with a more complex spell diagram. I wrote it in the air with my finger. Two rounded triangles on top of each other but with no bottom, A backward C with quote marks on top, and a line that looked like two elongated parallel S with a circle on top. It was hard to memorize. I kept writing the symbols wrong because they were almost similar to letters I was familiar with.
After watching me for several minutes Mr. Black took out a blank leather-bound notebook and handed it to me.
I blinked. “What’s this?”
“I have a lot of free time, so I sometimes write or draw. I generally keep extra notebooks on me.”
“I mean. Is this for me to have?”
“Think of it as an apology for my sister’s behavior.”
“Thank you, but you don’t have to apologize for her behavior. You’re not her.”
“Still she’s family.”
My lips twisted into a wry smile and I nodded.
I began writing the spell diagram using the reaper pen.
He cleared his throat and I looked up. “Also, If you use your own internal magic for the reaper pen, you can use it without me being present.”
“I can use my own magic for it?”
“Now that you’re a magus, yes.”
I started to use reaper pen but tried to use my own magic. Since I had no idea what to do I just automatically continued to grab the plentiful ambient death mana.
He sighed. “You need to grab the mana from your core, pull it out and convert it into death mana, then use that.”
“Oh. I thought I needed to cast a spell to access my mana.”
He shook his head.
I swallowed and tried moving the mana in my core. It slipped out of my mental fingers like water. I tried it one more time, but the same thing happened.
“You’re doing it wrong.”
“You can see me?”
“I try to let others have their privacy so I cannot unless I strain myself to look. If I could have seen you earlier I would have known that you only started with one mana point. It’s just obvious that you’re having trouble from the look on your face.”
“You know what I’m doing wrong then?”
“Since when has the pen magic ever needed that much mana?”
I blinked. So I was grabbing too much?
I pulled a few particles of condensed mana from my core and connected them together like a string. I pulled them to the finger I planned to write with and paused.
“How do I add an attribute to it?”
“For someone who hasn’t died this part would be particularly difficult. But you know death. You know it intimately, how it feels. You’ve used it as a weapon in your mind and as an ink to write with. You’ve removed it from mana before. It is everywhere and nowhere. All you need to do is twist the mana so it catches the death within you.”
It was strange. As he spoke I knew exactly what he meant, like it was so obvious I should have realized it before now. The only way I could describe it was that I twisted the mana until it reflected the many deaths I’d experienced. Each of the condensed particles I infused with death expanded and I was then able to use it to write. The first thing I did was draw a bad cartoon of a grim reaper.
Mr. Black’s pale finger touched the sketch. “May I have this?”
I nodded and he pulled the page out of the notebook. He looked at it, an amused expression appearing on his face.
I then continued to use the reaper pen to draw the spell diagram. After a while, I yawned and stretched.
“Since I’m here, there is something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
“Why does my bow work when I’m using Telekinesis on it, but not when I just throw it?”
“Where does Mana come from?”
“The soul but—”
I raised a brow.
“Haven’t you ever wondered why your pickaxe, bow, armor, and inventory always stay with you when you die?”
“I thought that was your special reaper magic.”
He shrugged. “I’m not saying that I couldn’t bring the items with you when you died, but doing that for one person is no big deal. Please keep in mind that I’m the reaper for everyone in the mine area of this bubble country.”
“Wait, so if I hurt myself up in the main cave?”
“Since it is not part of my assignment there is a great chance I wouldn’t be able to save you. But don’t worry. It is highly unlikely anything can hurt you up there.”
I nodded but still felt a hint of unease about the main cavern now. “So,” I said, working through the previous part of what he said. “These items are somehow connected to my soul?”
He nodded. “And since your mana is part of your soul and part of you, using it on them allows you to use them. It also explains why you have been so attached to your bow.”
“Huh? No, I just like my bow.”
“Most of the spurious bodies have several weapons within their tool that they can call forth at any time. You’ve focused specifically on your bow because inside you feel like it's part of you and that there is no need for another.”
He was wrong. I just liked my bow, but I doubted that I could convince him. “Anyways. I think I have this spell diagram down well enough. I think it’s time I get back and claim my armor.”
Bio: I'm an artist and a retired game industry professional. I also enjoy drinking tea while I write/edit and sometimes coffee. If you enjoy my stories in any way and feel like treating me to some Matcha, Earl Grey (hot), Almond Milk Tea, or Royal Milk Tea then please support me on ko-fi. Your donation will go towards fueling me creatively, and if there are enough donations then I will use it for things like an actual illustrator to make a better cover. *This dragon author does not expect any donations, so any that are given are especially appreciated!*