After reading the notifications, Thomas opened his character sheet to confirm his suspicion. He found that his 'Fire Magic', 'Earth Magic', 'Water Magic' and 'Wind Magic' were all gone. In their place was simply 'Elemental Magic [Life]' sitting at rank twenty-five with zero experience. Thomas was stunned for a moment, then started to get a little upset. He'd worked hard to get all of those elements up to rank twenty-five or higher and now he'd lost more than seventy-five percent of the experience he'd gained. Even merging his professions into Magitech Engineering had only lost him twenty-five percent!
Wanting answers, Thomas immediately asked Fulin, "Why did I lose so much of my experience? As soon as I gained 'Elemental Magic [Life]' I lost over seventy-five percent of the experience I'd gained!"
Fulin looked at Thomas and calmly answered, "When the elements merge they come into a perfect balance. Your rank in 'Elemental Magic [Life]' is determined by the element with the lowest rank that's twenty-five or higher." Fulin grinned playfully as he added, "Imagine how much worse it would be if you'd had an element of a hundred or more and merged it with an element at only rank twenty-five."
Fulin placed his hands behind his back as he lectured the room, "Not everyone decides to merge their elements like this. Many know it can be done and choose not to do it. Some choose not to because they've already gotten one of the elements they have an affinity for up to a high rank and don't want to lose it. Others choose not to do it because they don't want to practice with elements that they have no affinity for. Some simply have no affinity for any of the elements of life so have no interest in what you have gained."
Fulin looked directly at Thomas as he said, "No matter how you may feel about 'losing' out on the experience you have gained so far on your journey the fact is, your journey will now be much easier going forward."
Thomas thought about it for a bit and realized Fulin wasn't wrong. Even though two of his elemental magics had 'decreased' in rank, with all four of them now combined he would essentially get four times as much experience. His fire, earth, water, and wind magic would all grow together at the same rate. It wouldn't take all that much effort to get his 'Elemental Magic [Life]' up to rank twenty-seven or higher. Though he still wished that the experience had combined and increased the rank of 'Elemental Magic [Life]' he didn't lament the lost experience for long.
Seeing that Thomas no longer had any complaints, Fulin turned to the rest of the class and spoke, "Since all of you had an affinity for at least one of the main elements of life you will find that using the elements you didn't have an affinity for will become a little easier. Do not be confused. You have not gained any new affinities. Combining them into a single magic has just spread your affinity a little and made casting spells a little easier. If you had no affinity with any of the four elements then using the elemental magic would still be just as hard. I only taught you all this lesson since you all had an affinity with at least one of the four elements of life."
Fulin looked over the class and let out a soft sigh of regret at the sight of the swirling balls made up of the four elements hovering over peoples hands. The phenomenon hadn't faded just yet so he could easily tell that all of the students had passed his test. With regret in his voice, he said, "Since all of you passed I will not be expelling anyone. Pity." He cleared his throat and continued, "Once the sign of your elements merging vanishes you all should head out to the practice field and test out the differences."
It took a few more minutes before the swirling mixture of fire, earth, water, and air started to disappear from above peoples hands. Thomas found the experience to be rather interesting. Though the ball of elements had been summoned from his mana it did not continue to drain his mana while it existed. It seemed to be maintained by the world itself as a sign of their growth. Or something to that effect.
Once the last sign faded, Fulin led the entire class to the practice field. As everyone lined up he spoke, "Though the four elements of life have combined within your body that does not mean you can combine them within your spells. Not yet anyway. Stick with casting single element spells for the time being. Once your Elemental Magic reaches a sufficient rank and your understanding of the elements is high enough, you will be able to combine the elements into new spells."
Thomas kept quiet about his shower spell. After all, that spell was comprised of two elements. He had no issue combining them and felt like he probably wouldn't have an issue combining others. Combining two elements into a single spell was clearly different than trying to cast two spells at the same time. Something Thomas was certain he still couldn't do.
After lining up in front of a target dummy, Thomas summoned up his mana and quickly cast a simple firebolt spell at the target. The spell worked as intended and hit the target to scorch it a little. Thomas didn't feel anything different at all when using the fire magic. Thomas felt a little disappointed. Combining the four elements into 'Elemental Magic [Life]' was great and all, but now it really just felt like a plain experience boost. Not exactly thrilling but not hated either.
For the next few hours all the students, including Thomas, cycled through the four elements casting their spells and getting a feel for the changes in their magic. Unlike Thomas, no one else had an affinity for all four elements so they all experienced at least a small increase in their casting speed thanks to the merging of the elements. Fulin, for once, actually stayed and watched everyone practice, even returning to the practice field after lunch, until he dismissed the class for the day.
Thomas was a little disappointed that the duel notification hadn't come for his challenge to Brao during class but the receptionist had said it would take two days. Thomas would need to stay in Reykhoten for two more days at least. Tomorrow the duel notification would come and the day after he would get to beat the crap out of Brao. Something he was very much looking forward to.
Thomas checked his character sheet and found that the day of practice hadn't been a complete waste of time. His 'Elemental Magic [Life]' had grown to rank thirty. In just a day of practice, he had basically made up for, and exceeded, the ranks he'd previously lost. He no longer really had any reason to be upset over it so he just let it go.
Now that he'd met the requirements of Hekrin's quest he wasn't really sure what else he could do at the academy. Sure, learning magic was entertaining but it also quickly grew boring as it became repetitive. After a moments thought, he decided to spend the entire next day in the library getting through the remaining books on alchemy. He still had very little hope of actually finding something useful, but he would forever wonder if he missed something as long as any book went unchecked.
With his plan in mind, he chased after Fulin, "Professor Fulin, I won't be in class tomorrow."
Fulin stopped and looked at Thomas with a frown, "You just had a week off of classes and now you intend to miss tomorrows lesson after only being back for a day?"
Thomas smiled apologetically as he said, "Sorry about that. But Grandmaster Hekrin sent me here to learn the basics and get five elements up to rank twenty-five. Now that I've done so I intend to head back to him in a couple of days. Before leaving I wanted to finish checking the libraries collection of books on Alchemy."
Fulin frowned deeply, "That's disappointing to hear. There is far more to magic than what you have learned so far."
"I realize that. But becoming a mage isn't really my primary goal in life. What I've learned so far will serve me well."
Thomas kept back that he fully intended to practice magic on his own. He felt that now that he knew the basics he could work out the rest on his own. With the threat of becoming a Devil minimized thanks to his race being Nephilim he had very little to worry about. Other than maybe accidentally hurting himself or blowing a place up. Worst case, he'd die and that wasn't exactly a big deal to him.
Fulin suddenly smiled, "In that case, you're officially expelled from my class."
Thomas froze for a moment, then grinned and nodded, "Got it."
After parting ways with Fulin, Thomas made his way to the library. The day still had a fair bit of light left to it and he could see pretty well in the gloom so there was no reason for him to not get some reading in. He stepped into the library and found himself before the bookshelves about alchemy without any issues. He was three-quarters of the way through all of the books. Not actually reading all of their content helped speed up the search. After all, it was pointless to read about a transmutation circle if there wasn't a drawing of it that he could replicate. Knowing what he could potentially do and being unable to do it would just be infuriating.
Over the next few hours, Thomas flipped through book after book. If something caught his eye and seemed interesting he would read the relevant passages and make notes. Otherwise, he would move on to the next book in the line. He was really missing the convenience of the internet right now. What he wouldn't give for a wiki on transmutation! As it was approaching full dark he was kicked out of the library. He made his way toward the cafeteria to have dinner. It still wasn't the best food, but it was far from terrible.
After dinner, he returned to his dorm room and sat in the middle of his living room to get his nightly practice in. Before he began though, he didn't forget to open his character sheet and spend the two thousand experience he'd earned from completing Fulin's quest. Thanks to the experience he was able to get his Power up to sixty-seven and tie it with his Endurance and Agility. Well, for a few seconds before he bumped the two attributes up to sixty-eight. The flow of soothing energy wasn't so great since he'd only bumped his attributes by three points. Instead, he focused on ranking up his 'Transmutation' innate ability.
After an hour of reshaping an iron ingot over and over, he made his way to bed and used 'Serenity' to lull himself to sleep.
The following day Thomas had no class to attend and spent the whole day inside of the library. With the exception of taking breaks for lunch and dinner, he didn't leave the library at all. He managed to browse through every book on alchemy and was unable to find any other transmutation circles that could help his ability progress and felt rather disappointed. He would need to find another library to browse through, or a high tier alchemist that already possessed the transmutation formation plates.
The only good bit of news was that in the middle of the day he'd gotten the letter informing him of the time and location of his duel with Brao. Thomas was really looking forward to beating the snot out of the uptight noble. Once he had he could leave the academy and make his way back to Hekrin. Thomas smiled broadly as the thought about the following day. He was allowed to invite a witness once more and intended to try to find Selena.
With that as his game plan, Thomas left the library and started asking random strangers if any of them had spotted Selena. Of course, not everyone knew who she was so he had to describe her quite often. As he was searching he ran across Fuller.
"Hey, Fuller! Have you seen Selena anywhere?"
Fuller glanced up from the book he was reading and smiled at Thomas, "I thought you'd left or been expelled or something." Realizing Thomas had asked a question he answered it, "Yeah, I saw her heading toward the cafeteria for dinner."
Thomas walked over to Fuller and smiled, "Thanks. I am planning to leave, but not until after tomorrow. When I finished some business I intended to say goodbye to the whole class. Though, I may be back in a couple of weeks. It really depends on what happens after I return to Ulvstad."
Fuller nodded in understanding and they parted ways. Thomas headed directly for the cafeteria to hunt down Selena. He was sure she would enjoy seeing Brao get a nice beating. After all, just the thought of it was enough to plaster a joyous smile on his own face.