After entering 'The Minotaur's Resting Place', Thomas didn't see Victoria of Janice at any of the tables. Given the time of day, the place wasn't that busy so it wasn't hard to see they weren't around. Holding back any feelings of disappointment he flagged down a waitress and asked about the two ladies. He was quickly directed to a private room off to the side where they were both eating hearty meals while waiting for him. When Thomas arrived, Victoria looked up from her food and spoke with a full mouth, "Ohbout time yooh showed!"
He laughed and sat down to join them. Victoria was practically shoveling food into her mouth while Janice took the time to cut her meat into small bites and daintily chewed on them. It was quite a stark contrast. Thomas didn't look at a menu as he said to the waitress, "I'll take whatever the best cut of meat is, along with a beer."
The waitress left to place his order so he turned to the two women and smiled, "Glad you two are still here. Sorry it took so long but I had a lot of repeatable quests to turn in."
Victoria just waved her hand dismissively as she asked, "So what did you want to talk about?"
Thomas shrugged his shoulders and said, "Lots of things. You two are the first otherworlders that I've really had the time to get to know. I've spent the majority of my time learning professions and magic from the locals so I haven't had much time to team up and do things like dungeon diving with otherworlders. I figure there are things we can learn from each other. Like the whole monster meat thing."
Victoria grinned as she chewed on a piece of minotaur steak. Janice spoke up, "I agree. I really want to see if I can learn how to use magic like you do."
Thomas agreed saying, "I was actually thinking of trying to teach you. If otherworlders can teach each other magic things could get interesting."
Seeing that Janice agreed Thomas spent some time telling her about his experiences within the academy. Especially how he learned to convert his mana into the elements and that all otherworlders had an affinity with every element with the exceptions of Holy and Unholy. After he finished explaining Janice asked, "So how do you bring your mana out and control it?"
One of his eyebrows rose as he asked, "You never learned how to do that? What do the trainers teach you?"
"It's pretty easy to learn magic from a trainer. You just find one that teaches the element you want and they show you a catalog of the spells they can teach, what your Magic attribute needs to be to learn it, and how much it costs to be taught. Once you pick a spell they just put their finger on your head and a moment later you can cast the spell just by saying its name. I've got abilities that match each of the spells with corresponding ranks to them. When I use a spell the ability for it gains some experience.", she replied.
Thomas couldn't help relating the magic trainers and the academy to the manual and automatic modes of crafting. Learning from a trainer was the equivalent of using automatic mode to craft something. You got the item, or in this case spell, it's just that it was always rather average. Using the manual mode, or going to the academy, gave you much more flexibility but you risked making mistakes. In the end, there was really nothing wrong with going either route because no matter what you ended up with what you wanted.
Now that he had a better understanding of the differences in their training Thomas started instructing Janice and Victoria, "Both of you should at least learn how to use your mana. Even if you don't intend to cast spells Victoria, you need to know how to do this to activate enchantments."
Before Thomas could begin to explain the waitress returned with his order. The plate of food had a rather large and thick steak sitting next to vegetables that only seemed to highlight just how big the steak was. She also set down a rather large stein of beer. After she left, Thomas turned back to the girls and smiled, "The first step to casting magic the way I was taught is channeling your mana. You both should be able to feel the mana inside of you right?"
After both girls nodded their heads he continued, "You can't force it to go where you want. You need to be gentle and slowly urge it towards your hands. Like this."
Thomas lifted his right hand and let his mana flow out to form a small white sphere of swirling energy above his palm. Both women watched in interest before mimicking his posture and giving it an attempt themselves. While they practiced, Thomas dismissed his mana and picked up his stein of beer. He grimaced at the first sip, not because it tasted bad but because it was warm. He set it down to use as an example later.
While watching the two girls as they tried to channel their mana, he picked up his utensils and began to eat his minotaur steak. He let out a groan of pleasure at the first bite. Monster meat really was magnificent and the steak had a texture that reminded him of filet mignon with how soft and tender it was. It only took the two women a couple of minutes to get the hang of it. Thomas found that a bit odd since it had only taken him a few moments to get the hang of it. Still, both women looked happy when they had small spheres of mana hovering over their hands.
Victoria had to cut hers off quickly since she didn't have nearly as much mana as Thomas, let alone as much as Janice. Without a high mana control ability, their efficiency with their mana was trash. Once Janice stopped both women checked their character sheets and smiled, both had unlocked mana control. Seeing they'd gotten that far, Thomas spoke up, "Alright, the next part only Janice might be able to do since she has so much mana. You need to summon your mana and then will it to change into the element of your choice. I'd suggest trying a solid element like ice first. Lightning has a tendency to go all over the place." He chuckled as he recounted, "The first time I summoned lightning I ended up shocking myself and putting a bunch of scorch marks in my clothing."
Victoria had a good laugh over that while Janice just smiled. Thomas continued, "Yeah, shocked the crap out of myself when I did it. But now I can do this..."
He lifted his hand up and summoned his mana before converting it into the ice element. A small sphere of ice hovered over his palm. He let them observe it before he dunked it into the warm beer. The best part? The ice wouldn't melt and dilute the beer at all! The girls watched before Victoria went back to eating and Janice started practicing. Thomas went back to eating his minotaur steak and sipping on his now cold beer.
During the next hour, Thomas and Victoria just chatted about their experiences so far. Thomas told Victoria and Janice all about his experience learning the different professions and getting Magitech Engineering. Even showing off one of his grenades to Victoria who was thrilled beyond measure to see the little explosive device. Both girls were surprised to know he was a full-time player and wasn't leagues stronger than them. They'd played less than half the same amount of time as him and both had much more experience spent on their attributes.
Their story was pretty standard as far as gamers go. They spent the majority of their time doing quests and getting experience while having fun. Neither of them had taken the time to learn any professions and only had combat-related skills. The only thing Thomas actually found truly interesting was that they had started in a large town named Gimbotn instead of a city like he had. The interesting part was that even the large town had its own dungeon that the two of them had completed more than once.
After the full hour had passed Janice was extremely frustrated and nearly drained of all of her mana. In the entire hour, she hadn't managed to convert her mana into any elements. She'd even tried her favorite lightning element and nothing had happened. When she finally gave up, Thomas thought about it for a bit and came to a conclusion, "It may not be possible to learn how to use magic like me without going to the academy." He stroked his chin, "It might be a prerequisite. Like the quests I had to do to unlock Magitech Engineering, you have to attend the academy to learn how to use the elements instead of individual spells. Which means players aren't going to be teaching each other anytime soon. Sorry Janice."
Janice sighed and gave up to spend time pouting. Thomas changed the subject and asked, "By the way, have either of you met anyone who's changed race?"
The two women thought for a moment then shook their heads. Victoria spoke up first, "I've not met anyone in person, but I read about a few on the message boards. A lot of them were complaints about their races being changed against their will. The official reply to that always ends up being 'you agreed to it when you agreed to the terms of service to play the game'. Who actually reads those?! Many were pretty happy with their race changes though. A lot of them seem to involve rituals that can only be done after attaining some reputation with the race in question."
Thomas frowned a little and sighed. So much for lodging an official complaint about it and getting his race changed back to human. Still, he honestly didn't mind anymore. As long as he could keep it hidden and didn't get dragged into conflicts by gods, or demons, or end up hated by both, it really didn't matter. Besides, he still hadn't taken his wings for a test drive in the air yet!
Thomas looked at Janice as he said, "I learned of a possible race change and feel like I should warn you about it. If you do learn magic like I did, be careful with it. If your magic goes out of control you could potentially turn into a race called a Devil. It can only happen to people who have a Magic attribute of one hundred or above, like yourself. The race doesn't sound all that bad to me, honestly. It's just that you would become an 'enemy of mankind' if the locals found out. It doesn't seem like it will be a problem as long as you use spells learned from trainers though."
Janice accepted the advice with a smile, "Thanks for the warning."
After that, they just had a general conversation until it came time for Thomas to pay the bill. The place they were in wasn't the most high class so it only cost him a little over a hundred gold. More than half of which was eaten by Victoria herself. When questioned on the amount she ate she just answered, "It's a side effect of one of my Innate Abilities."
Since she didn't go into detail he didn't ask, he hadn't told them anything about his Innate Abilities either. It just seemed almost rude to ask about it, like prying into a closely guarded secret or something similar. It could also potentially reveal weaknesses that could be exploited and no one wanted that. They all left the restaurant and parted ways. Thomas didn't know if he would meet them again or not, but if he did he would enjoy the reunion.
After Thomas arrived in his dorm he made his way to his bedroom while stripping off his gear and storing it away inside of his inventory. He climbed onto his bed and sat in the lotus position while he opened his character sheet and grinned broadly at the pile of experience he could now spend. He didn't even look at his Magic attribute as he dumped as much experience as possible into his Power, Endurance, and Agility attributes. When he was done all three of them had risen to 62.
As soon as he confirmed his choices he felt a powerful flow of energy surge inside of his body. It felt more powerful than any of the previous times he'd increased his attributes. He'd gained twenty-one attributes all at once and the energy flowing through his body showed it. Thomas smiled and lay back in his bed to enjoy the sensation while it lulled him to sleep. He knew he had been neglecting his 'All Seeing Eyes' lately, but he also knew that once he got back to Hekrin he would be using them a whole lot. It could wait until then, for now, sleep was what he wanted.