These are the berries I was looking for! This is way more fun than buying the stuff from Mama Elena, I'm glad they let me come out and hunt for my own stuff. They take care of the ogres and corrupted beasts in the area, so it's always safe.
Now that I've found a couple of bushes with the berries on them, I open up my spatial storage, a pure-white magical circle forming in the air. I reach into it and pull out four baskets, then begin filling them with berries I pick from the bushes. These berries possess potent healing qualities. Papa Harold said that there's a sickness running through the towns he visits, and Mama Elena began making batches of potions for him to sell to the people who are suffering from it. She wanted to make a stronger potion, but didn't want to travel and look for the ingredients, so I snuck a look at her recipe book.
When the baskets are full, I return them to my spatial storage, then look around. These berries are usually favorite of bears, but I don't see any, which is good. Papa Michael said that if I ever see a bear, to play dead, and Papa Samuel said to contain my presence as much as possible.
I think I can take a bear!
Now that I have the berries, I start making my way back to the house. It took me forever to find them, but I manage to with the scan spell I figured out. It's Papa Samuel's. I learned it by watching him use it.
The spatial storage, I figured out on my own. I've never seen Papa Samuel use one before, or any of my papas or mamas. I remember seeing it before, though, in my weird memories and dreams. They're really weird. Lots of stuff that's not here, so they've got to be from somewhere else. Maybe across the ocean!
Going home won't take me as long as finding the berries, though, because of the boots Mama Elizabeth made me! They're made of leather, and she enchanted them for boosted swiftness. I use them when training with Papa Michael, but always wear them.
Imbuing my boots with magic, I take off running. Mama Elizabeth didn't enchant them for too much speed, since I wouldn't be able to keep up with them, she said. I'm not sure how that would happen. Would the boots fly off my feet and keep running on their own? That would be weird. Cool, but weird.
As I run, I sense something weird. It's a stag, but not the type of stag I normally sense when traveling with Papa Michael and learning how to hunt. Changing directions, I make my way towards it, and when I spot it, I stop and stumble, catching myself quickly. The stag is beautiful! It's pure-white, with a massive pair of horns on its head!
How should I kill it? I don't have a bow on me, but I do have my knife. Papa Michael won't let me carry a sword until I'm ten! And until I can make my own. Papa Jared taught me how to make the knife, so I'll be making swords soon! I even enchanted the knife myself!
I might be able to make a new vest with the hide. Mama Elizabeth taught me how to stretch a hide and treat it until it becomes leather. She's taught me lots of weaving and woodwork and clothing enchantment.
All of my papas and mamas teach me, I want to be like all of them!
If I use the stag for a new vest, though, Papa Harold won't have as much to sell on the market. Well, it's a huge stag, so there will probably be lots of its hide! I just have to be careful of how I kill it, that's all. Too much damage, and it'll be useless.
Pushing a hand forward, I shape a spell to kill it from the brain. Force magic rocks! I never heard of it as 'force magic' in the memories, it was always stuff like 'telekinesis' or 'psychic power'.
When my spell completes, the stag drops to the ground. Yes! Killed it without damaging the hide! I run forward and send the stag into my spatial storage, then take off towards home again. On the way, I come across four bunnies that I kill and add into my spatial storage, too. With my boots, they're too slow to hop away before I can kill them!
When I get home, I walk over to the tanning house Mama Alyssa and I built last year. She taught me how to use wind magic to cut the wood, which is a lot faster than using mundane tools. Papa Michael doesn't like it when I use that magic to cut firewood, he says I need to do all that by hand. It takes forever to do it that way!
In the tanning hut, I hang up the stag and the rabbits, setting up buckets beneath them to catch the blood. Then, I cut off the stag's antlers before I cut the animals open and let them drain as I skin them. Mama Elizabeth didn't want me to learn how to do this yet, and I found out why when I first watched her.
I puked a lot. That wasn't fun. But I can handle it now! Mostly. I have to hold my breath a lot, or I start feeling sick again, sort of like on special days, only holding my breath on those days doesn't help.
Once the animals are draining, I clean the antlers with a quick rinse of water magic and put them into my spatial storage, then I wash my hands with a quick rinse of water magic. With those clean, I clean the hides and scrape off all of the fur and grit and stuff, then stretch them on frames and treat them so they can begin the tanning process to turn into leather.
With all of that done, I make my way inside, where Papa Samuel and Mama Elena are talking as Mama Elena mixes more potions. Papa Samuel's helping her, chopping up herbs.
"Look!" I open my spatial storage and pull out the berries. "I got the berries you need, Mama Elena!"
"Good job," she smiles as Papa Samuel looks startled. "I can't use the berries without-"
"Mint herbs and bayva leaves!" I pull out two more baskets, each filled with a different herb. "I got those, too!"
"Good job," she smiles at me. "I can make the stronger potion once I finish these batches, then. It will help in more severe cases."
"I want to help!"
"You can help her later," Papa Samuel says. "Why don't you and I talk about your magic lessons?"
"Again?" I ask. "I can already use fire magic and water magic and earth magic and air magic and light magic and darkness magic and energy magic and force magic and holy magic!"
He won't teach me mind magic or curse magic. He said that curse magic is almost completely forbidden by everyone and that mind magic isn't something a child should ever use.
"Yes, you can," he says. "But you are far from a master, Jason, and there is a lot you have yet to do. Right now, you've only used elements one at a time. Remember, they can also be combined."
"Like fire and earth to make lava!"
"Yes," he smiles. "Let's go outside."
I follow Papa Samuel outside, and he gestures for us to sit on two stumps that were carved into stools by Mama Alyssa.
"What type of magic does your dimensional space fall into?"
"My dimensional space?"
"How you carried the berries here."
"Oh! My spatial storage!" I say. "That's a special-type magic!"
"Yes, it is," he says. "And I take it you figured out the spell on your own?"
"You're a very bright boy," he tells me. "Can you explain what the category of magic known as 'special' is?"
"It's everything that doesn't fall into the other eleven categories," I nod. "Spatial, enhancement, transputation-"
"Transmutation," he corrects.
"Transmutation," I nod. "And others I don't remember. All of those are special-type magic. Why don't they get their own categories?"
"Figure it out on your own," he smiles. "There isn't a book in our library that contains information on that, and I'm sure that one day, you'll manage to learn it by yourself. You're a smart boy, after all."
"Yes, I am!"
"Now," he says. "Can you do other types of special magic? Or just the dimensional-the storage space?"
"Nope!" I shake my head. "Isn't making lead into gold illegal? Plus, I don't have lead."
"Lead into-" he frowns. "No, it's not illegal, and that's only one type of transmutation. It's also incredibly difficult to perform such a change. Transmutation can usually only be used to turn something into something similar. Raise a pillar of dirt from the ground, would you?"
I nod, then lift my hands and create the spell to raise a pillar of dirt from the ground. I make it three feet tall.
"I did it!"
"Yes, you did," he frowns.
"Did I do something wrong?" I ask.
"No," he smiles. "You actually did it better than I expected. We've never worked on magic like this before, only generating the stones for your stone magics. When you raised the pillar, what were you wanting to happen?"
"For it to rise up!" I answer.
"Did you think about strengthening it at all?" He asks.
"What about it holding together?"
"No?" I answer. "But it has to, or it wouldn't be a pillar. Wouldn't it just be a crumbly pile?"
"I see," he smiles. "Normally, when a starter magician pulls up a pillar of earth, it crumbles down because all they did was raise the dirt. As it isn't strengthened or bonded together, it isn't able to sustain its form. The solution to that is to alter the earth magic to compact it so that it holds together or to transmute the dirt into something that holds together better. You did the latter, casting transmutation magic at the same time. You only changed it enough that it would hold together."
"I transmuted it?" I poke the pillar. "Really?"
"Yes," he smiles. "You aren't a starter magician, after all, Jason, so I shouldn't be surprised by that. You're a very smart boy."
"I am!" He keeps saying that, it must be true!
"Which means," he gestures, and a pile of dirt lifts up from the ground and lands on my pillar, which he simultaneously cleaned of the grass on the top and turned completely into stone. That is cool! "That you can perform both spatial magic and transmutation, Jason."
"Cool!" I say.
"Yes, it is," he smiles. "Now transmute the dirt I put on the pillar into stone, okay?"
I nod, then focus on the pile of dirt. It's just a pile right now, so I reshape it into a rock form with earth magic, before I weave together the spell to make it stone, just like Papa Samuel did to my pillar. He only made it into stone, but I'm going to do even better and make it a really hard stone!
The dirt shifts, turning into a single, solid object, and I grin at Papa Samuel.
"Good job," he smiles, then holds out his hand.
A ring for a spatial storage appears, and he pulls out nine candles, setting them on the pillar as he swipes the stone off with a hand. Then with another wave of his hand, he lowers the pillar so that I don't have to stretch my neck as much to look at it. Now, it's like a table between us! He arranges the candles so that they're sitting in three rows of three, making a square with one in the center!
"You've shown you can cast two spells at once," Papa Samuel tells me. "So I want you to cast five at once."
"FIVE?" I ask.
"Yes," he nods. "Five. I know you can do it, Jason. What I want you to do is to light each of the corner candles and the center candle at the same time without lighting the others. And without putting your hands beside the candles."
I nod, then hold my hands up. Why does he want me to cast five spells for this? Can't I do it with one?
"Can I do it with one spell?" I ask Papa Samuel.
"If you think you can, go ahead and try," he tells me. "Remember, Jason, that you can only ignore the four corners and the center candle. Do not light the side candles, or I'll put them out and you'll have to try again."
"Okay!" I turn my attention back to the candles.
I don't know why he said five spells at once instead of just the one. Papa Samuel's silly sometimes. I weave together the spell, shaping my mana to ignite the wicks of all five candles. Hey! The ones he wants me to light are all ones I made!
"Papa Samuel!" I look at him. "Stop using my candles for magic practice! Make your own!"
Papa Samuel laughs.
"Do the spell, Jason."
"Stop using my candles! Make your own!"
"I'll stop using your candles," he tells me. "When you kill a full-grown ogre on your own."
"I'm not allowed to hunt ogres!" I protest.
"Not yet," he smiles. "But once you're older and more experienced, your Papa Michael and I will take you ogre-hunting. Now light the candles, Jason."
I return my focus back to the spell, which I've been holding, ready to cast, and I activate it. Immediately, all five candles light, while the others don't!
"I did it!" I tell him.
"Yes, you did," he says. "Good job, Jason. Do you know why your Mama Elizabeth is giving us a bewildered look as she comes out of the tanning house?"
"No?" I answer. "I put my kills in there, though. I found a white stag and four bunnies! I also treated the hides like Mama Elizabeth showed me, and left the meat to cool and drain."
"A white stag?" He asks.
"A nomis white stag," Mama Elizabeth says as she approaches, and I look at her. "That was definitely a nomis white stag, and the only damage I could find on its hide was from when he cut it in the tanning house."
"Really?" Papa Samuel asks. "How did you kill it, Jason?"
"I put force magic in its brain," I answer. "Turned it all to mush."
Papa Samuel gives me a frightened look.
"It's okay Papa Samuel," I tell him. "A stag isn't a person. I won't do that to a person, that would be cruel. And probably get me arrested. Is something special about the stag?"
"The nomis stags," Mama Elizabeth says. "Are very rare. A white nomis stag is even rarer. Its blood is useful in alchemy, its hide is used to make high-quality gear, its meat is quite delicious, and its antlers and bones are used in a variety of tools and objects. What did you do with the antlers?"
"I put them in my spatial storage," I answer. "I want to mount them on a board and hang them above my bed. They're the horns of my first stag kill!"
I also have the tail of my first rabbit kill and the tail of my first squirrel kill. It's important to claim a trophy from my first hunt of each creature, after all. Not, like, ogres and goblins, and trolls and stuff, those are monsters. Trophies from the things I hunt for food or resources! Like rabbits and squirrels and stags!
"Why don't you go ask Mama Alyssa to help you mount them?" Samuel asks. "I need to talk with Mama Elizabeth for a few minutes."
"Okay!" I hop off the stump and look for Mama Alyssa, who's carving in her carpentry hut. She's making a wooden dragon! That's so cool! "Mama Alyssa, Papa Samuel said to ask you to help me mount my stag's horns!"
"You killed a stag?" See? She gets the trophies! "That's impressive, Jason."
"Thanks!" I tell her. "Can you help me mount them?"
"Sure," she says. "Where are they?"
I pull them out of my spatial storage, then Mama Alyssa selects a wooden board for them. Blue oak. I'm not sure why it's called that, it's not blue, but it is sturdy, and a medium-light brown. Mama Alyssa and I cut the board to a shield shape, sand it smooth, and then we stain it to make it darker. I use magic to speed the drying. Warm air hitting it just right while water magic draws the water out. Mama Alyssa taught me how to do that! After, she has me enchant the board for extra strength, then she inspects my enchantment for flaws before we fix the antlers to the board using nails from behind the board. We have to poke holes into the base of the antlers for that.
"There you go," she tells me. "Let's go hang this above your bed."
"You get me," I say, and she ruffles my hair as she laughs.
Mama Alyssa and I go up to my room, and she helps me hang the board above my bed. I can't reach on my own, because I'm still growing. One day, I'll be tall enough to do it on my own!
Now that my board's hanging up, I follow Mama Alyssa back to her woodcarving hut and start carving a small dragon as she works on her big dragon. I can't do a dragon that big yet. Hers is three feet tall and has lots of detail. Mama Alyssa said that I'm building up the dexterity to do all that detail, though, especially with my work with her and Papa Jared.
"One thing I'm glad of," I tell Elizabeth as Jason looks for Alyssa. "Is that we don't have the issue with him that most families with a child who starts using magic early does."
Normally, magic isn't begun to be taught to someone until they turn thirteen, when they turn of age. The reason for this is that children who can use magic have a tendency to subconsciously use it when their mental state becomes unstable. A tantrum by a child, especially one with a lot of magical power, can be dangerous. Even a weak child could accidentally use force magic on their surroundings. A child with as much magical power as Jason could level not just the house, but the woodshed, the tanning house, the forge, the woodcarving hut, and everything else in our clearing.
That isn't fully out of their control. What typically happens is they desire the destruction to happen because they're unhappy and subconsciously move their mana into the proper spell for it. We call it 'subconscious casting'.
It works in good moods, too, as well as when a child desperately wants something. I've heard of numerous cases where a child with an affinity for force magic who began casting young would subconsciously cast a spell to pull something to them. Most of the times, it was things like cookies. When I was young, I learned that I could use it to steal. It wasn't until the previous king caught me one day and forced me to attend a magic school that I began to straighten up my act.
"We might not have to worry about dangerous subconscious casting," Elizabeth tells me. "But what about when he snaps? The only reason we don't worry about that is because we keep him happy and he's always full of curiosity. So far, he's never gotten mad or thrown a tantrum."
"Jason is a happy child," I shrug. "It isn't hard to keep him happy, all we have to do is give him something to work for, and he will charge towards it head-first. When he fails at something, he just tries again rather than throwing a fit."
"Maybe," she says. "But sometimes, the worst ones to snap are the ones who are least likely to."
"That is true," I nod. "He's never been around someone who doesn't like him, and has never been under heavy pressure before. I don't plan on introducing too much stress to him until he's older. When he's able to hunt ogres and corrupted, we'll start him on that. That will add stress and danger to him, and we can use that to help temper him."
It is worrying, though, what will happen if he remains level-headed in danger. The way he's growing now, he may just remain calm and composed under stress. Maybe we should introduce some stress to him now. Michael's training is harsh, and while it should be stressful, Jason is eager to learn and please.
"Why the serious looks?" Jared approaches us.
"Talking about Jason," Elizabeth answers. "And what will happen when he finally gets introduced to people who don't like him or is put under heavy stress. So far, he's cheerful, even when we push him hard. He does his best to learn and perform to the best of his ability. What will happen when his mood goes south?"
"We need to introduce him to stress," I tell Jared. "But how do you put a boy who remains cheerful and happy, even when he fails to meet the expectations of his parents?"
"We aren't planning on sending him to a school until university," Jared says. "Which is when he's sixteen. That gives us eight years. Let him continue to learn and have happy failures for a couple of more years. Then, when he's thirteen, give him a challenge. Send him deep into the forest, even deeper than us, possibly the mountains. Tell him that since he's an adult, he needs to meet the goal we set for him then. If he fails, then he will have to restart, and he won't be able to return home until he succeeds."
"That's a good idea," I nod. "Give him a set amount of time to acquire a certain amount of items. There are some boars that live in the mountains up north, they aren't easy to kill. We can tell him to kill a certain amount of them and collect their tusks and hides, among other things."
"We can sort out the details of how to stress out our son later," Elizabeth says. "But it is best that we introduce him to it and make him upset."
"I can't just make him upset," I say. "It goes against my morals."
"It goes against all of our morals," she says. "He rarely misbehaves, and he always owns up to his mistakes when he makes them. When we disagree on something he's done, he often argues a good point."
Kid logic can be hard to argue against sometimes, sort of like him with the books. He already knows the full details, just like most children who grow up in rural communities, so why should we prevent him from reading books that contain knowledge he already has? We know he still sneaks those books out of the library, even after I put my strongest locking enchantment on the door.
It took us six months to figure out how he was getting around the original locking enchantment I placed. The spell prevented the knob from turning at all. With the way our trim is set up, it's impossible to slip something and move the latch, meaning it shouldn't have been possible to open the door. What Jason was doing was using force magic directly on the latch to push it in, which allowed him to just push the door open, no turning of the knob.
My current enchantment seals the door, effectively binding it to the door frame. It also prevents the latch from pushing in and the hinges from opening while adding an extra layer of durability enchantment to the door and the frame.
That boy still somehow manages to sneak into the library.
"Why the thoughtful faces?" A voice ask, and I turn to find Zachary standing there, Elena standing beside him.
"Thinking about Jason," Elizabeth answers. "And how to apply stress and make him upset without violating our morals. He's well-behaved and takes the rare punishment we give him with dignity."
"I was thinking about how he manages to get into the library with my strongest locking enchantment on the door."
"Does the window open?" Zachary asks.
"Yes," I groan. "He's sneaking in through the window. How did you think of that immediately?"
"My son sneaks through windows if the door is locked," he answers. "He also does it when he knows he can't get through the kitchen door and wants to steal a pie or pastry. We can't exactly seal all of the windows, so we began setting up alarm enchantments for if something over a certain size or with a certain level of magic passes through the windows. Where's the little tyke?"
"With Alyssa," I answer. "I think they're mounting antlers. Why don't we go inside? You've journeyed quite a bit, I'm sure you're tired."
"The journey is worth it," he smiles.
We move inside, and Elizabeth immediately gets to making tea for us as Jared, Zachary, and I sit.
"Here to vent?" I ask. "Or need an issue solving?"
"Both," he answers. "I already know that Elena over there is working on making potions to help treat the ill. Almost the entire barony was hit by the illness before Baron Kel was able to put a lockdown in place. That region grew much of the wheat that Varil uses, and prices have increased as a result of much of the labor force being incapacitated. Once again, I thank you for helping Varil despite not being a part of it."
"We may be retired," Elena says from where she's working on the potions. "But that doesn't mean we don't care and don't have friends. Your father was a close friend of ours."
"If you want to put Jason under some pressure," Zachary says. "Tell him to help make the potions, and that they need to be ready as soon as possible. He can make most basic potions, so if you have him work on preparing the ingredients for you, that should help."
"I'll have him help with the next batch," Elena says. "Elizabeth, Jason moved them, they're in the cabinet to your right."
"Thank you," Elizabeth opens the cabinet and pulls out the jar of tea leaves she was looking for. "Why did he move them?"
"Something about not wanting them beside the honey," Elena shrugs.
Sometimes, kid logic doesn't make sense.
"So," I say. "What issue are you needing a solution to? Other than high wheat prices, that is."
The price of premium wood has likely risen as well, as that barony also supplied much of the more premium wood used in carving.
"As it is right now," he says. "If someone is who they say they are is either up to a matter of merit or the merit of someone else. Commonly, that is not an issue, but we want to implement a system that makes it easier to identify someone easier while making it more difficult to fake one's identity. We considered having papers, but those can be forged and it would also require them to keep the papers from being damaged. If someone stole the papers, then we would need a way to verify someone's identity to have them replaced, as well as to know if someone is using their own papers."
"This seems an odd change," I say. "What brought it on?"
"The royal universities," he answers. "Lately, we have had an increase in students attending, and a few times, we have had students show up claiming to be someone else who was admitted. With how many students are tested, it's easy to forget or misremember an identity, or to not even know the original student in the first place. During discussions lately, we came to the conclusion that some sort of definite identification system would be needed."
We turn and face Jason, who's giving us a curious look while holding a half-carved dragon.
"ID?" Zachary asks.
"Yeah," he nods. "I-do-ti-fi-ca-tion," I think he meant 'identification', and it seems he had to sound out the word as he spoke it, so we'll work on that one later. "An ID card. It proves you are who you say you are."
"But how would we know it's yours?" Zachary asks. "We considered having someone's portrait put onto it, but that would require drawing it onto each and every one."
"Everyone's magical signature is different," Jason answers. "Why not link them to that? You can do two things. At birth, have their birth certificates imprinted with their magical signature. Then, when they get their ID's when they're older, verify their magical signature with-"
"Birth certificates?" Zachary asks.
"Yes, Uncle Zach," Jason gives him a look that makes it clear his uncle is being silly, though I'm not sure why. I've never heard of these, either. "A paper issued when you're born. It has your parents' name, your name, where you're born, and all that stuff. Eye color and hair color, though that mostly won't matter since almost everyone in Varil has blond hair and blue eyes. Stuff like that. Just imprint their magical signature onto it, and onto the record of it, too. That way, if they need it replaced for some reason, you can verify who they are through their magical signature. You're an adult, you should know this."
"Yes, I should," Zachary says.
There's no such system in place. Recording someone's magical signature? That isn't as easy as Jason makes it sound, especially if they can't use magic.
"So you just do that to their ID's, too," Jason nods. "That way, you can just check that against the official records made at birth! It's that simple. Stop being silly, Uncle Zach."
"Tell you what," Zachary stands and walks over to Jason, kneeling in front of him. "Why don't you show me how you would do this?"
"Okay!" Jason runs off, and when he returns, he no longer has the wooden dragon, but he does have several items from my workshop and one of the playing cards from a deck he doesn't use anymore after accidentally burning one of the cards.
For the next ten minutes, he works. First, he transmutes the playing card into something a lot more durable and smooth, using magic to remove the ink, which he then transmutes into… ink. He uses the new ink to make a crude representation of what he said.
Name, birthday (we used the day we found him as his birthday, as we think he might have been born on the trail, possibly there), height, weight, eye color, and hair color. He also makes a spot for where he lives, as well as two boxes on the bottom part of it.
With the design done, Jason enchants the card, and as I read the enchantment, I find myself impressed. He pieced together several other enchantments to make that one.
Jason then pricks his finger using a little bit of air magic, before pressing it into the box on the bottom-left. Immediately, the card glows blue for a second, then fades, and he pulls his thumb away.
"Now," Jason says. "You just have someone else or a reader touching the other square while they touch this one. If their magic is the signature that's in the card and the right spell is used, then the card will glow to verify their identity! It's that easy!"
"Here's a test," I tell Jason. "Why don't you make an item that can print this enchantment onto the card? And another that can perform the read and comparison? You have until Uncle Zach leaves."
"When are you leaving?" Jason looks at Zachary.
"Morning after tomorrow."
"Okay," Jason looks uncomfortable. "Papa Samuel? Can I look at some of the enchanting books in your library? I'll need to find out more to do it right. This was just what I thought of, but I don't know everything. I'm not you. I might need Papa Jared's help, too."
I don't know everything, either.
"Go ahead," I smile and stand. "Let me fetch them for you."
Where did our son get such an idea? And why did he think it was already normal?