The following morning, Thomas climbed out of his bed and stretched with a yawn. He'd slept well and had a bit of an epiphany in his dream. He'd promised Fulin not to experiment with magic, but what Fulin didn't know wouldn't hurt him! He needed to experiment a little first to make sure he could do what he wanted. He stepped into his living room and looked around, he hadn't paid much attention before but lucky for him, his floors were wood and not carpet. He picked a random spot and summoned mana into his hand.
He studied the mana ball for a moment, he was still losing the majority of his mana to the air and it was getting rather annoying that his efficiency with magic was so terrible. Still, it would get better over time. He moved the mana ball from his hand and floated it in the air a little ways away from and above him. He quickly converted the mana into the water element and spread it out in a flat circle. He fed some more mana into the flat circle of water and encouraged drops to form and fall from it.
It took a little finagling but he eventually got little drops of water to start falling to the floor. After landing they would quickly fade from existence. He laughed and added more mana to make the water drops fall faster and faster until there was a steady stream of them. Thomas walked over and stuck his hand into the falling drops of water. He shuddered, the water wasn't ice cold, but it was definitely a good bit below room temperature. He pulled his hand from the falling water and watched as the water dried up far faster than it would have through normal evaporation.
He studied the water for a bit then slowly started to infuse the fire element into the water to slowly increase its temperature. He checked every few seconds and continued to feed heat into the water until it started to stream and became a comfortable temperature. Thomas grinned broadly and stripped off his clothing to step under the flowing hot water. He didn't have soap or shampoo or anything like that, but just scrubbing his body under the warm water felt divine. In his mind, he'd only had a couple of real showers over the course of five weeks so having one now was just amazing.
When he felt his mana starting to get a bit low because of the unusual application of magic, he stopped his shower and stood still for a brief amount of time. Because the water was warm and conjured from his mana, it did not take long before he, and the floor, were bone dry. The only thing left behind was the small amount of dirt and such that had been washed off of his body and collected onto the floor. Thomas looked at the dirt for a moment before channeling some heat into it to bake it, then summoned a quick gust of wind to scatter it into the air.
He wasn't sure if what he had just done counted as a spell or just an exercise in mana control, but it felt great and he intended to make it a daily habit. He'd need to get a broom or something though to clean up the pile of dirt after his shower instead of just blowing it randomly around his room in the future. He got dressed and started to contemplate how he would go about washing his clothes in the near future. Perhaps he could mess with the shower spell and make a washing machine spell?
After he was dressed he made his way to the cafeteria to get himself some breakfast before class started. The cafeteria was rather subdued this morning, half the students looked like they were sleepwalking. There were still some conversations, but it wasn't the same hubbub as it would be later in the day when everyone was more awake.
After his meal, he made his way to the classroom. He was the second to arrive. Unfortunately, Brao was the first. Brao unhesitantly glared daggers at Thomas and if looks could kill Thomas's head would have exploded right then and there. Fortunately, Brao didn't seem to want to speak to Thomas so that saved him from having to waste breath on replying to Brao. Thomas made his way to the back of the classroom to sit and wait for the others to arrive.
Over the next ten minutes or so the other students arrived and took seats wherever they wanted to sit. Weirdly, at least in his opinion, Selena was the last to arrive and she looked a little flushed. Like she had just run a good distance. Thomas gave her a friendly wave, which she returned as she took her seat. Shortly after that Fullin stepped into the room and looked over the class. He seemed disappointed that no one had been late.
Fulin was silent for a moment before he started to speak, "As promised, today we will be studying the earth element. As I know not all of you have an affinity for it I am not expecting the same performance from all of you. To help those of you without the affinity for the earth element we will start with earth bolts. Once everyone is on the same page we'll move on from there."
Fulin gestured to the door to the classroom, "Out to the practice field."
Everyone climbed to their feet and followed Fulin out to the practice field. The destroyed target dummies from yesterday had been replaced with new ones. Fulin looked at Essa, Fuller, and Selena, "Since you three do not have an affinity with the earth element we'll start with you. You other three can just practice firing earth bolts while I train them."
Fulin and the three without the affinity for earth stepped to the side where Fulin began guiding them. Thomas listened for a bit and realized it wasn't actually any difference in what Fulin was telling them to do. The difference was with them. Thomas could clearly see how much harder it was for them to use an element they didn't have the affinity for. If it took them five seconds to create something they had the affinity for, it took them over a minute to make an element they didn't have an affinity for.
It would take quite a bit of work to get that down to a few seconds, let alone nearly instantly. It was no wonder that they would generally stick with their affinities. Thomas turned away from watching them and went over to a free target dummy and summoned a sharp spike of earth to launch at it. The earth element wasn't one he'd worked a whole lot with the day before so it took him a good ten seconds to create and fire the projectile. Checking his mana he felt like he'd used somewhere around seven percent of it.
He looked over his hand and thought for a moment, then smiled. He lifted and aimed both hands at the target dummy. He'd been told not to modify spells or make new ones, no one had mentioned casting the same spell with each hand. He aimed both hands at the target dummy and began to channel a stream of mana into each of them. The mana formed into spike shapes without issue and he quickly converted it into the earth element. The two spikes of stone began to rotate at high speed before the launched both of them at the target.
The moment the two spells left his control he felt a distinct throb of pain as if his brain was trying to split itself into two. It was brief and didn't last more than a moment, but it was rather intense and gave Thomas the distinct impression that if he had tried to do the same thing with more powerful spells that it would have had some serious consequences. Thomas rubbed his forehead for a moment and sighed, this was not an experiment he would repeat in the future. Though, on the bright side, both shots had hit the target dummy and done some damage.
Thomas checked his available mana and was shocked to realize that he'd lost thirty percent of it firing those two shots. Not only did it give him a shot of pain, but it had also cost a serious amount of mana for no real additional effect. Clearly casting two spells at the same time was all downside with no upside. He rubbed his head for a little bit longer then cleared his mind and activated 'Serenity' to recover his spent mana.
After about ten minute his mana was fully recovered so he returned to casting the earth bolt spell repeatedly. This time he stuck to just casting the spell with one hand one at a time. He kept his pace slow so that his mana could recover a little automatically to keep his consumption down. It worked, sort of, but his mana was still steadily draining. By the time about an hour and a half had passed his mana was getting dangerously low so he stopped and sat down to recover using his 'Serenity' ability.
He slowly recovered his mana and after another half an hour had passed he was topped off. He climbed to his feet to resume casting earth bolts, but Fulin called out, "Alright! Everyone should be on about the same page so we're going to work on a new spell together."
Thomas turned and looked at Fulin. The three students he had been coaching were a little sweaty but looked like they were still good to go. Everyone gathered around Fulin as he started to explain, "The next spell we're going to practice is a defensive spell."
Fulin lifted his hand and the earth beneath his hand rose and formed a small wall that hardened with a loud crackling sound as the dirt turned to solid stone. Fulin smiled, "Just a small sample for this spell. This particular spell is a variable spell. The more mana you use the bigger and thicker the wall you can create. You can also reshape this spell easily."
To prove his words he lifted his hand and waved it. The wall he summoned changed shape, growing wider, longer and taller. Fulin smiled, "Earth is amazing for creating temporary defensive structures and ways to protect not only yourself but allies as well. Though, keep in mind that this is a low-level spell and will only protect against things like arrows and other low-level spells. Higher level spells or stronger weapons such as siege weapons will easily shatter this defense."
Fulin waved his hand again and the earth wall collapsed and became one with the ground once more, "This spell is pretty simple. To cast it you need to channel your mana into the ground and call the earth up while picturing the size and shape of the wall you want. Once the wall is formed you need to channel more mana into it to harden it. After you guys can form the wall I will cast low-level spells at them to test their effectiveness."
The group broke up and spread out to begin their practice. Thomas made his way to a clear area and thought over what Fulin had said. He decided to start small for this one. He had a bit less maximum mana than most of the other students so he couldn't risk overspending his mana by making something overly complex. Thomas looked at the ground and raised his hand above it with his palm down. He started to channel his mana into the ground and gather as much as he can maintain control of into a small area.
Once he felt he'd gathered enough of his mana in a small area he lifted his hand while converting his mana to the earth element. The ground slowly rose until it formed a wall a meter high, a meter wide, and ten centimeters thick. Once the wall formed he channeled additional mana into it to harden the soft dirt into solid rock. Once it was hardened he felt the amount of mana he needed to expend decrease dramatically. It still needed some of his mana to be maintained and he felt like the moment he stopped providing mana to the wall it would immediately collapse.
He cut off the flow of his mana to the wall and it did as expected, collapsing to the grounds and returning to the earth leaving no sign of its existence behind. He checked his mana and realized that casting the spell had cost him nearly forty percent of his maximum, a hefty price. Still, he could cast the spell once more before he ran a bit low on mana. He channeled more mana into the ground and gathered it together in one place. Once he felt he had enough he lifted his hand and transformed the mana into the earth element while raising his hand. This time he went a little further and let the wall grow to a full two meters in height and two meters in width with the same ten-centimeter thickness.
It cost more mana than previously, but surprisingly not all that much more. Once the wall formed he hardened it and smiled. The cost for maintaining the wall spell didn't actually increase with the size of the wall. He found that a little odd, but wasn't going to complain about it. With the wall formed and still being maintained by him, he walked over to it and tapped on it. There was a thump sound as he knocked on the wall letting him know how solid it was.
After thinking for a bit he smiled and balled his hand into a fist. He positioned his feet, bent his knees and took a simple stance. He squeezed his fist tight enough to hear his knuckles crack. He could feel the power in his muscles and grinned, it felt amazing. He slowly exhaled then inhaled again before throwing his fist forward. As his arm extended he exhaled and slammed his fist hard into the wall. There was a deafening thump as his fist collided with the hard wall. The wall cracked a little but did not shatter.
He pulled his fist away from the wall and blew a little imaginary dust off of his knuckles. He looked at the wall, and aside from the few cracks, there was no real significant damage to it. He contemplated that for a moment. It seemed like the wall was almost equally as strong as his power, perhaps a little stronger, and since his power worked for both his magic and his physical strength the wall was just as strong as he was. He cracked his knuckles and pondered what would happen if he was to punch someone else's wall. He looked over at Selena as she practiced the spell and grinned broadly.