Chapter 4 - Spells
His success enlightened him on the nature of magic in that world.
Before successfully casting his first spell, he had studied the signatures for three days, only to find that none of the theories he had come with made sense.
The issue with each spell was that they required different elements besides Pure mana. However, he had no access to said elements and didn't think any four-year-old would have. That being the case, what was the use of providing him with spell signatures that he couldn't use? Was his father that failure of a mage, as to not realize the obvious issues with delivering him those signatures?
However, now that he used his first spell, he understood that his theories did make sense, except he had been missing a key piece: the help of the world itself.
As soon as he used the First Light spell but failed to provide Light mana to it, he felt an external force pull huge amounts of Pure mana from his pool and convert it to Light mana at a rate that he was confident was incredibly wasteful.
First Clean, First Levitate Object, First Mana Shield, First Heat, First Cold.
He tried all spells and the same automatic conversion happened. They also reinforced his idea that the rate of conversion was wasteful, for if higher level spells required that much Pure mana, they would be very limited in what they could do.
As luck would have it, after observing each forceful conversion once, he knew what to do. Eons of experience and the title of the best energetic manipulator ever born in his old universe had to be worth something.
He took a bit of mana from his pool and applied knowledge and pressure to it.
Knowledge about what that mana should become, about how the process should happen, step by step. As simple as it sounded, it required the understanding of some secrets of reality itself, of the Laws of the universe.
And pressure, willpower, for that mana to change the way he wanted it to.
Lo and behold, his mana turned into Light mana. As he expected, the quantity of mana consumed in the conversion when he did it was one-hundredth of when the external force did so.
The World's Writ appeared before him.
New element learned!
He used the spell again, now converting and providing the required Light mana himself. It worked much faster than before. He did the same thing with all the other elements and got access to Air, Fire, and Ice.
Knowing what to do, in the next days, he then used his knowledge to convert his mana to all elements he could think of until the World's Writ showed a pleasant message.
All elements learned!
You've mastered all available elements.
Just to make sure, he tried to turn mana into other elements, like Void, but it all failed, showing that mana could only be changed in specifics ways. Satisfied, he went back to analyzing the six spells, trying to pry their secrets open.
At his fifth anniversary, when he was still at level 6, Notable Mage, his father brought him a different kind of gift: a woman. It was a beautiful young lady, fifteen years old or so. Aaron could feel mana coming from her and was surprised to realize she was the very first mage he met outside his father and grandfather.
Now that he thought about it, he had been living a very sheltered life, without having ever left the house even for a bit of leisure time. He had been focusing on studying, and since training for long periods of time without leaving his room was common in his past lives, he hadn't thought about how unusual his upbringing was, until now.
Even more uncommon was how long he had taken to notice it. He felt that something was wrong, and he would have to think about it, maybe even question his father at a later date.
For now, he used a Heavenly Skill to check her level, regardless of being able to guess it just by feeling the amount and density of mana in her mana pool. Sometimes the Heavenly Skill would give different information than his conclusions, which in turn would have different implications depending on the situation.
Check Level, he thought, and a tooltip appeared above her head.
Level: 4 — Four Stars Mage
In terms of level, hers was lower than his by two. In terms of magic knowledge, however, she was his superior.
In the past year, he had studied and derived many things about mana and magic, thanks to the six spells available to him, but he doubted he could beat her in a direct combat by cleaning her clothes or by making her feel slightly cold.
The spells he knew were level 1 and had a limit to how much power they could deliver; it was impossible to set anything on fire using the 'First Heat' spell or to freeze anything by using the 'First Cold' spell. It only made sense, since they had been given for a four-year-old to use. Although he had theorized ways to create level 2 versions of those spells, he was still learning new things from the level 1 versions and had postponed investing time on advancing them.
If he fought the woman, he would be like a bodybuilder who had never learned to fight facing a skinny MMA veteran, and the result would be his defeat. He had the strength but no way to use it.
"Hello, little Aaron," she said with a sweet voice and lowered herself to get in front of him. "Nice to meet you."
"Hi," he replied, pretending to be shy while wondering who the hell she was.
"Son, this is Sara," Alphonse said. "She will teach you many things from today on."
Aaron's eyes shone. "She teaches magic, dad?"
"Not yet," she said delicately. "You must learn your letters and math first. Only then will you be able to learn magic."
"Don't worry," Alphonse said when he saw his son's face sadden. "I'll bring you two new spell signatures tomorrow."
"Thank you!" Aaron said happily and hugged the man's legs.
Alphonse smiled and patted the boy's head. "Sara will start tomorrow. Today, there's cake!"
"Cake!" Aaron yelled happily and ate his fill as soon as the food got to his reach.
It was only for nourishment purposes, of course. He was a growing kid and needed the energy. There was no way an exalted former Origin Immortal like him, who had feasted on banquets unimaginable by mortals, would ever find so much pleasure in eating cake.
No way at all.
"Asa," Sara said, pointing at a letter in a book.
"Asa," Aaron repeated.
"Aoli," she continued.
"One plus one equals...?" Sara asked.
"Two!" Aaron said excitedly.
"Good boy!" She smiled. "You earned extra dessert today."
"Yay!" He punched the air.
Sara was a dedicated teacher, who didn't seem to love teaching, but did her best and didn't complain. By listening to her talking to his father, Aaron learned that she was a distant relative who was studying magic from a level 8, Eminence, from the family, but was having troubles to pay for her studies, and therefore had decided to teach kids.
For one year, Aaron pretended to learn at a fast speed, but nothing that would alert anyone. He also pretended to use the Light spell for the first time, making his father almost explode in pride.
The promised new spell signatures that were placed around the house were Second Light and Second Clean, level 2 versions of the First Light and First Clean. They made Aaron notice the words 'First' and 'Second' in the spells' names denoted their levels. He loved having received level 2 versions of spells he already knew because they showed that his theories on how they should look like were on the right track. In fact, he believed he could create better versions of the level 2 spells than the ones he had been provided with, and when he put it to test, he succeeded.
He wasn't sure about the right speed to pretend to learn new spells though, so he decided to show one every three months. On his sixth anniversary, he showed his father the fourth of the six level 1 spells, and for a moment he was sure the man would physically burst in happiness right then, right there.
"Amazing!" Alphonse yelled. "A heaven-defying genius! This is my son!" He laughed, took the boy, and threw him up. "This is my son!"
By Sara's astonished face, Aaron realized he might have been showing spells too fast, but when his dad stuffed a huge study room with nothing less than a hundred different spell signatures, Aaron decided it had been worth it.
The spells were mostly levels 1 and 2, except for ten level 3 ones, and a single level 4 signature.
"These eleven spells are for the future," Alphonse explained, talking about the higher leveled spells, "but it won't hurt for you to take a look at them now."
For Aaron, that was the best gift ever.
His magic studies increased by leaps and bounds that year, and he was so distracted by it that he also ended showing a faster progress in his math than he should, which made Sara inform not only Alphonse but also Aaron's grandad, Firebringer.
Aaron, almost seven years old, was having lunch with his father one day when his grandfather came like a hurricane.
"Alphonse! How dare you?!" Richard Firebringer yelled in pure rage.
Aaron's dad immediately paled. "W- What are you talking about?" He stuttered.
"What I'm talking about?!" The old man yelled even louder. "You're hiding my genius grandson from me! He learned all six base spells before he's even seven! And Sara told me he can do math as good as her!"
"She told you?" Alphonse said in disbelief.
"Yes, and she did it two months ago." Firebringer crossed his arms. "I waited for you to come to me, but you're deliberately hiding it, aren't you?! I repeat: how dare you?"
Alphonse gulped. "Father, I'm just trying to protect Aaron. If news of his potential spread, it might attract unwanted trouble..."
"Bullshit!" The old man said. "You're just afraid he'll fail like you, so you decided to wait and see, didn't you? You didn't even contact any Eminence about teaching him! What was your great plan, hire low-wage students to teach him until it became clear if he took his magic talent from you or me?"
Alphonse's hand was trembling as he used them to hide his face in shame. Firebringer sighed and approached the man, putting one hand on his son's shoulder.
"Son," the old man said, "I told you to not let your failure in magic define you. You're the best Major the Brigadier has ever seen. Did you know he put forth motions for your advancement to General in all Counsel meetings in the last two years?"
Aaron's father raised his head, his eyes wide in shock.
"I'm proud of you," Firebringer said. "I've always been, and I've always told you that. You failed as a mage, yes, but you were a great husband to your late wife, and didn't you spend all your savings, and even mortgaged this house, just to give your son more spell signatures to learn from? You are hard-working and you take care of your own. I value that in my son much more than your ability to cast high-level spells."
For a few moments, Alphonse's eyes shone bright, but he ended up lowering them and shaking his head. "We both know that without power I'm nothing to the family, and how much you've suffered because of that. Aaron is a genius, yes, but I was one too. And he's my son. If he fails, too, it'll only be proof that everything related to me is a failure. Even my wife died from a magic disease that having relations with an Ascender would've fixed, but I'm only a Notable Mage. I... Father, I can't take more than that." Tears started rolling on his cheeks. "If I infect Aaron with my failure, too... My dear Aaron, my beloved son, the last memory of her... I can't bear the thought of it. I just can't."
Firebringer stood silence for a long time as Alphonse cried. When Alphonse recomposed himself, the old man spoke. "Son, when was the last time you checked Aaron's level?"
Alphonse frowned. "What?" He looked at Aaron, and after a moment, his eyes widened. "What?!" He repeated, yelling in shock. "How?!"
"Sara used the 'Check Level' Heavenly Skill on him when he learned so fast," Firebringer said. "To her surprise, she discovered your son is already Champion Mage! A six-year-old Champion, who has never been taught magic before!"
Aaron had just become level 7, Champion, about three months earlier, when he was six and a half years old. That would be his last level up for a very long time. The next level, Eminence, would only come when he became twelve years old, and only if nothing went wrong.
Alphonse could say nothing, only stare at his son in pure disbelief.
"He already surpassed you," the old man continued. "Even if he never levels up again, he's already an asset to the clan, not a failure. Are you still afraid of showing him to the world?"
Aaron's father gulped and shook his head. "No," he whispered.
"Good, because I'm taking him to the Three Towers."
Alphonse's neck snapped, so fast that he looked at his father. "Say what?!"
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I'm Ed, a writer of GameLit. So far I have released only two books, but I'm working on increasing this number by tens! No, by hundreds! Maybe thousands! xP
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