I fell right asleep when I went to bed last night, and woke up only in time for breakfast this morning. I really doubt I will ever pull an all-nighter again. At least, not unless it's necessary for something. I could have waited to test that until yesterday afternoon, but my excitement took over.
Now, I'm waiting in the lecture hall with the rest of the first-year S-Class students for the Magical History lesson to begin. The professor for it was nowhere a student could access after lessons ended yesterday, despite the general rule being that they're to be available to students for at least one hour to an hour and a half after the end of lessons for the day.
This is one of the few lessons in the university I'm lacking knowledge in, too. My mamas and papas didn't quite go into the history of magic, and while I know a fair bit from my memories as Nolan, it's probably three millennia out of date for the university's standards.
When the lesson begins, someone other than our usual professor enters the lecture hall and approaches the desk. A woman who appears to be in her forties, though she has an upper blue level of magical power, so she could be eighty or ninety, possibly even one hundred years of age.
She's dressed in the standard black, white, and grey robes of the university professors, but that is where her similarities to most of the professors ends. She has olive skin, black hair, and dark brown, almond-shaped eyes.
She comes from the eastern islands, and it's not often someone from them is found in Varil. Unlike from my memories on Earth of people of all races and cultures living together, most nations don't intermingle in that way, especially not over such great distances as with Varil and the eastern islands. They're something like two thousand miles apart, and that's before factoring in the terrain, such as the ocean and wide mountain range between them.
I wasn't aware we had a foreign professor here, but since this is Varil, I suppose it is only natural.
"Attention, students," she says with a light accent, then continues once she has our attention. "Your previous professor, Dean Wollard, has been suspended due to the mistreatment of wealthy students. I am Professor Ruren, and I will be taking over his classes. As you can tell, I am not from Varil, and this is my first time as a professor in a Varilan educational facility. I ask that you bear with me when it comes to differences between our cultures, it was intended for me to begin teaching next year and only act as an assistant until then, to allow me time to adjust to your culture better.
"Despite that," she continues. "Do not expect me to be inexperienced with teaching. I taught on the islands for more than forty years, so I know how to handle rambunctious teens. Am I clear on that?"
"Yes, ma'am," we respond.
Our class is rather well-behaved, so she won't have to worry about too much trouble with us. Maybe the second-year S-Class students, but not the first-year S-Class students.
"Excellent," she says. "Now, I understand you did a packet yesterday and had an essay due today. They will not count for your grade, and you do not need to turn in the packets. I have already assessed the curriculum and where you are currently, and your previous professor did not follow the plan. You were covering recent magical history, when the start of this term was supposed to introduced you to what is known about the origins of magic. Does anyone here know them?"
Uncomfortable silence, before one of the girls in the front row raises her hand. I am definitely not trying to answer this question, as my knowledge do not varies greatly on this. Both in the literal answer to her question and the answer to her actual question, which regards the origin of humanity using magic.
"Yes, you," Professor Ruren indicates her. "Please forgive me, everyone, as I take time to learn your names. Do you know the origins of our magical history? Where it all begins?"
"Yes," the student stands. "Three thousand years ago, at the dawn of our history."
Three thousand years ago? Magical history goes back to then, even though most records from those times are lost?
"When humanity was young," she continues. "It is said that the gods blessed twelve mortals with immense magical might as a way of aiding in their survivals against monsters. They-"
"I see you read Elizabeth Salin's Magics of Time and Grace," Professor Ruren interrupts her. "However, her book is nothing more than a collection of fairy tales. While there are some truths to them, they are not quite history. You may sit."
So she knew fairy tales, then.
The student sits, and I can tell that most or all of the students in here are like me – unaware of the 'true' history of magic. Even Lina seems unaware of this. I guess some things don't make it into the royal education as a 'need to know' thing.
"Three thousand years ago," Professor Ruren tells us. "The world was in turmoil. No one knows what this turmoil was, nor how it came about. One thing is known for sure, however, and that is that the Twelve Kings and Queens of Power came to be in that time."
Twelve Kings and Queens of Power? Are those the Magi?
"Six men and six women," she continues. "Of extraordinary power. Many of you have likely heard of the King of Spring – he was one such being. No one knows for sure where their power came from, but they were masters of magic. The very foundation of magic today was begun by those twelve.
"What little is known of them," she tells us. "Is that they understood magic on a level no one else did. Before they came, magic was often weak, pathetic. These twelve taught others how to use magic in the more proper way, and those basics are what we use today. Visualization, chanting to assist with the visualization, all forms of magical control training, and more were all set into place by those twelve. While what happened to four of them remains unknown, eight of them settled down and died in different locations across the continent. The most powerful of the twelve was their leader, the King of Magic, and a being said to be on par with the gods when it came to raw magical might.
"However," she holds up her right hand, index finger raised. "This does not mean he was a god. No one knows who the twelve were, where they came from, how they came about, how they became so powerful, or anything else about them. Were they messengers from the gods? Blessed by the gods? Angels? Gods themselves? All of that is mere speculation, and even today, three thousand years later, we are no closer to discovering this than the people who knew them."
She is definitely talking about the Magi. So we are known as the Kings and Queens of Power now, outside of the rare few who know true history.
"Because written texts were rare enough," she continues. "And there are no true texts from three thousand years ago still in existence, this is all we know for sure, and even this information can be doubted."
Our professor allows this to sink in, and I suspect there is more to this than she has given us so far, based on her expression. Information about the Twelve Kings and Queens of Power not in the standard lesson.
"This is the standard education," she says. "However, there is secret information regarding the Twelve Kings and Queens of Power which the leaders of most nations are aware of and have decided to reveal to the world. This was a joint decision made in the summer of last year by many of the world's leaders, and it is being taught only to the best and brightest of each nation at the moment. This class is the only one of all the first-years in the academies and universities of Varil catering towards magicians which will learn this information. Your counterpart in the Royal Knight Academy is likewise for the warrior academies and universities."
Then, she turns around and writes a rune on the board that causes me and four others to stiffen.
Professor Ruren turns back around and appraises us.
"I see that five of you recognize this word," she says. "I expected this of the two royals, but I did not expect it of any others. Normally, information regarding the Magi is kept secret, because the true history of magic is considered blasphemy. Or rather, the Magi themselves as heretics.
"The reason for this," she tells the class. "Is that three thousand years ago, the heavens and the underworld warred here on Midlaris. And the Magi fought demons, angels, and gods alike to protect humanity, eventually turning both sides into enemies. And when they finished, there was nothing left but for humanity, which was nearly destroyed by the ancient war, to rebuild. The Twelve Kings and Queens of Power, also called the Magi, fought the gods.
"There are no records," she continues. "Regarding how they ended the war, but there are a few records in stone tablets that regard several of their other feats. They slayed dragons. They killed angels and demons, despite no human ability to. They challenged the gods and survived. And when the war ended, the gods pulled back. Stories tell that angels interact with humans on the behalf of the gods, yet there is not one verified account of this since the war. Whatever the Magi did, their negotiations with the gods decreased heavenly interactions with humanity. It also completely ended the appearance of demons on Midlaris."
As she continues to tell us the true version of what is known, I look at the four other students who reacted. Niko, Lina, and Tasha were expected, as I already believe them to be Magi, but Kayla? She was unexpected.
And no doubt a Magi, too. I already knew by instinct her sacred beast was the fire elemental. If that matches up with what she was as a Magi, then her past life was Kendra, Magi of Fire. And if everyone is paired up with their past romances… then Kyla is Abigail, the Magi of Water, which also fits with her scared beast being the water elemental.
That creates a total of eight Magi in my training group, myself included. And if the other two people I suspect might be Magi are Magi, too, then there are ten in Varil City right now.
Most of whom came from outside of it, all of whom gathered for university. I doubt the Queen of the Gods has put her personal hand into this, but also that it was unnecessary.
The Magi gathered three thousand years ago, who is to say that fate itself does not draw us together in any future life we will have, too?
The ones I am unaware of the presences of are likely here or on their way as well, but I'm sure they're here. Everyone else came for university, so it stands to reason they did as well.
For the rest of the university day, I think about things, not just the lessons. I do pay attention to those as well, but also rearrange my plans, having set everything into stone by the time I enter Lecture Hall 17 for my training group.
I wait until everyone has gathered, then run them through the magic control training for twenty-five minutes, telling them when to adjust or extend how much of them their exerted magic covers. Niko has not just his arms, but his upper torso coated as well. He will likely soon reach the next level of magical power based on his training and where his magic currently rests in power.
"Alright," I clap my hands, ending the magic control training. "This is it for today for everyone except seven of you. Starting today, my advanced training group will be meeting every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sorday. We will all meet for this part of the training, then the rest of you will be dismissed.
"Those of you whose names I call," I say. "Remain. Everyone else, you are the basic training group and are dismissed. Niko. Lina. Alex. Jacob. Tasha. Kayla. Kyla. You are the current advanced training group. Everyone else, you may one day reach this group if you continue to improve your control and abilities. The seven whose names I called have met the standards for it already. Dismissed!"
The other students either congratulate and leave, or just leave. These seven were chosen not just because they were Magi, but because they genuinely meet my standards for the advanced training group.
"Jacob, Lina," I say. "I have received permission from your papa to take you without your guards to where the advanced training will be. I requested this of him at the beginning of term, on the chance that one or both of you made it into this group."
"Take us?" Jacob asks. "The advanced training group will not be training here?"
"No," I open a gate and hop off the desk. "We will be meeting somewhere more fitting for training magicians and warriors using high-level spells. Even if we do not begin the truly powerful ones immediately, it is best that we begin training there from the start rather than later on."
I gesture for them to enter and they do, then I follow through. Everyone but Niko is looking around in amazement.
"Where did you take us?" Jacob asks.
"To a safe space in the Unwild Lands," I answer, and the eyes of everyone but Niko and Alex widen. "You have all seen my gate spell. As far as I am aware, there is no distance limitation, I need only have been there before."
"No wonder Papa granted permission for us to come without our guards," Jacob looks around the rocky field. "If you can take us hundreds of miles in an instant, away from any other people. What about monsters and corrupted?"
"Insignificant," I answer. "This field has wards put up around it to prevent their entry. Only a creature that would take a middle blue or higher to handle can enter. If it does, I will be alerted, and they are manageable with my training."
"You do not look all that surprised," Lina tells Niko. "Is this where you and Jason disappear off to?"
"Yes," Niko nods. "I have been assisting him in setting up some of the training things. I do not actually recognize this field."
"I haven't taken you here before," I tell him. "Now, we have a limited time before I have to return to teach the Marran students, so let us begin. Stay here."
I teleport to a spot fifty feet away, then open up my spatial storage and take out a stone training dummy, placing it on the ground. Then I teleport back to the group and pull out a grey crystal tablet.
"Is that-" Jacob begins.
"This is a different one," I tell him. "I want each of you to hit that training dummy with your most powerful offensive spell. Papa Jared, Mama Alyssa, and I designed this dummy. It will withstand your attacks, so don't worry about destroying it. Once you hit it, it will send a notice to the tablet in my hands informing me of exactly how much magical power your attack did."
"Would that not be around the same as our magical power?" Tasha asks.
"No," Niko answers. "There is a difference between how much magical power you have and how much your spells contain. You felt that fraction of it that Jason released on the first day of applications for the group. A simple flame would not need anywhere near that much magical power. Were he to throw a fireball with that much magical power in it, it would be beyond devastating to everything around."
"Here," I open another gate. "Let me show you."
Everyone walks through the gate, then I close it behind them, remaining here as they no doubt wonder why I stayed behind. I moved them three hundred yards to the side. Then, I summon up a fireball with all of my magical power. Unlike my normal flames, I let this fireball be a 'normal' flame temperature, meaning that it consists of only orange and yellow flames.
Making them blue would be too much for the others without a proper barrier, and I want them to feel some of the effect of this.
I throw the fireball, setting it on a slow enough flight that I am able to open a gate to the others, step through it, close it, and dispel the barriers they all made to protect themselves.
"What just happened?" Kayla asks.
"Jason used dispelling magic on our barriers," Jacob answers. "We can continue to cast them all we want, but he will probably-"
Jacob cuts off as the fireball impacts the testing dummy. Even from here, we can hear the explosion from the impact. A sphere of flames erupts around the contact point, orange and yellow and rapidly expanding to nearly a hundred yards in diameter. A shockwave rushes out as well, the eight of us a safe enough distance from it to be unharmed.
We can still feel the heat, however, and are still brushed by the shockwave. Other than Niko, my advance training group is stunned still by the shock of the power of that spell.
"That was a fireball?" Jacob asks. "I've never seen or heard of fireballs doing that before, Jason!"
"In order to add more magical power," I say. "Slight changes in its effect are to be expected. I could have simply cast the fireball with all of the magical power concentrated in just the small ball of flames, even after impact, but that is neither efficient nor something you would be able to see much of.
"That," I gesture to the flames burning the ground at the impact point and the crater that formed. "Is what results from putting in all of my magical power into a simple fireball. The basis of the spell is 'fire', 'ball', and 'burst'. Increasing the magical power of the spell amplified those.
"I could have," I say. "Made the effect smaller by increasing the heat of the flames. As the increased heat takes more magical power, the rest would have been diminished. However, increasing the heat would mean greater temperatures that reached us, and I did not want anyone to have magical defenses protecting them.
"Now that the point is made," I say. "Controlling magical power in a spell is one of the most basic aspects of spellcasting there is. However, very few people can put even eighty percent of their true magical power into an actual spell. That is why my training group has been focusing on basic spells and magical control training. It not only increases your mana, magical control, and familiarity with the elements, but that magical control increase allows you to actually use more of that magical power in a spell, and thus, cast stronger spells as well."
I open a gate back to where we were before, then gesture for them to pass through it. Once everyone has done so, I step through it and close it, then restore the damaged land and set the dummy back up with my magic, earning more than a few curious looks.
"What?" I ask. "Just because this is a training field, doesn't mean we need to leave it damaged. I have pits for that. Now, I want each of you to cast your most powerful spell at the target. After everyone has done so, we will work on optimizing that spell to your abilities. Next week, we will focus on martial spells, or the kind of spell used with physical combat techniques such as swords and martial arts."
"May I ask what your power registered as?" Jacob asks, and I show him the tablet, which has nothing on the screen. "It is empty."
"Indeed," I respond. "That's because it's been more than thirty seconds. Since I didn't look at it before the time limit, I don't know how much magical power actually affected it. That said, it was enough to qualify for an upper violet amount of magical power, as I put as much magical power into that spell as I could. Jacob, you're up first."
"I knew Jason was powerful," I tell Lina as we enter one of the privacy rooms of the palace. "But that was frightening. To turn a fireball into such a devastating spell was something I never imagined possible."
"Yes," she says as the servant leaving behind water for us exits, closing the door as he departs. "I believe something like that is to be expected of the reincarnation of Nolan, though."
"Maybe," I say. "But it still frightens me to know there is a magician with that much magical power. We might have been the Magi in the past, but we are not them anymore. We do not have the experience now that we did back then. Times are vastly different."
The era of beings of unbelievable powers has long since been over, and our experiences today are of people of more moderate magical abilities. Even we have more moderate magical abilities, for now.
"Speaking of different eras," Lina says. "Did you send for Papa because of what I mentioned about today's lesson?"
They learned the 'true' history of magic at the Royal Magic University. We have yet to learn about magical history at the Royal Knight University, but I know it is only a matter of time before we do as well.
"Yes," I nod. "Why did they choose to reveal such a large secret? The knowledge they have on the matter is small. They know that, basically, the Twelve Kings and Queens of Power are the Magi, that the Magi were magicians of unparalleled power, and that the Magi fought the heavens and underworld alike, putting an end to a war that lasted for thousands of years."
Heretical knowledge that the church will fuss over, no doubt. I can see trouble brewing as a result of the information being revealed. While they might trust the students to keep quiet regarding the matter, that does not mean it will not leak out.
A knock on the door draws our attention, then Papa enters the room, walking in and taking a seat on one of the armchairs. Lina and I look at him.
"Papa," Lina says. "Why did you authorize people being taught about the Magi?"
Papa thinks over that for several minutes.
"It was not a decision made gently," he finally explains. "The conference between rulers that occurred during the summer of last year debated on it heavily. We know that many will dismiss the knowledge as heresy and false, but also believe it is time that people know the truth. The Magi, and what little is known of them, are a part of the true history of Midlaris. You are a part of the true history of Midlaris."
Lina and I stare at Papa in shock. We never told him what the runes on our Crystal Crests mean, and as far as anyone is aware, the reincarnated always come from another world.
"Do not give me such stunned looks," Papa chuckles. "The records we have of the Magi contains the same trio of runes signifying the potential destinies the two of you share. Magi. Slayer. Hero."
Considering how much he speaks with the Sages, then he knows Jason is a reincarnated Magus as well.
"Then you know that Jason is a reincarnated Magus as well," I say, and Lina gives me a look to 'remind' me that we only suspect this.
"Yes," Papa nods. "And we have confirmed no less than two other Magi as well."
Tasha for sure, as they would have needed to see her Crystal Crest as part of officiating the betrothal when we turned thirteen and became adults. The same would go for Niko.
"The presence of five Magi," I say. "Is that why you decided to reveal it?"
"No," he answers. "I had and still have no inclination on sharing this information with the others. What changed our minds, Jacob, Lina, was when we went to temple. After the High Priest performed his sermon, the other leaders and I were praying.
"As we prayed," he leans forward, folding his hands together in front of him and looking at each of us in turn. "A presence unlike any other filled the room. Though we had never felt such a presence before, we knew immediately that is was something not of this world. Something divine. The same went for the light that seemed to radiate from everywhere at once, brightening the temple.
"A woman's voice spoke," he told us. "And she told us 'The Gathering will soon occur'."
The Gathering? What is that?
"Before you ask," Papa sits back straight. "We do not know what this 'Gathering' she spoke of is, but we have not a doubt that a goddess spoke to us directly. Not an angel, a goddess. She gave us only that knowledge, then her presence faded.
"Regardless," he continues. "We spoke deeply on this matter, and chose to reveal the truth beginning this term. We would entrust it to the best and brightest of our students. The numbers of ogres, corrupted, and monsters have increased in recent decades, and we believe the Gathering refers to something dealing with that.
"Even before the five of you were born," he tells us. "We began to suspect that we may one day need magicians and warriors on par with the Magi of old soon. In the last three hundred years, the number of known living dragons have doubled. An all-out war against monsters may happen soon."
"Do you believe," I say. "That we reincarnated Magi were reincarnated to stop these monsters?"
"Of the five I know," Papa tells me. "Only one possesses immense magical power. It is possible you were reincarnated not for the purpose of acting as the Heroes of Midlaris once more, but as guides for the current generation."
Should we tell him the truth? That while we have our memories, knowledge is separate from that? And that much of our actual training – where most of our knowledge came from – is missing from our memories?
I think on this only a few seconds before informing Papa, but only about how reincarnation truly works, from our understanding.
"I see," he says. "I will admit, I had always been curious why the two of you never displayed the abilities of Magi, even as children. This does make a little more sense, now that we know for sure that personality does not carry over in reincarnations."
"You suspected?" I ask.
"Yes," he nods. "The Sages and I discussed it previously, when we first suspected Jason was reincarnated. Now that the three of us are being honest about this with each other, do you have any questions for me?"
"Yes, actually," I say. "But regards Jason. His past life, more specifically. The Magus he was three thousand years ago came from a small collection of clans. Currently, that would be in a small region at the edge of the Unwild Lands not far from our southwestern border.
"I have been attempting to learn," I say. "If those lands still exist. However, every map that exists of there includes no settlements at all. A blank spot. While I know that the Unwild Lands are supposedly uninhabited, I also know that there should be at least a shrine of some sort somewhere there. Yet nothing appears on any map."
The shrine would not before Magus Nolan, but to the dragons. Several of my memories of Nolan have mention of it, and I doubt it was something that would disappear with time.
"The Dragon Shrine," Papa nods. "You must be referring to the Dragon Clans. They still exist, but they keep to themselves for the most part, and they are not placed on any official maps to help decrease the number of people who travel to them."
So they do still exist. And they are called the Dragon Clans even today, too. For the same reason? Or different ones?
"So they are there?" I ask. "Do you know why they are called the Dragon Clans?"
"I have visited them only twice in my life," he tells us. "And I cannot say for sure. I do know that they have a connection with the dragons that live in that area. Whether as friends, servants, or subjects, that remains to be known. I would advise you to avoid pursuing them further, Jacob. The Dragon Clans do not like to be disturbed."
"It was only curiosity," I tell him. "To know if the homeland of Jason's past life still existed."
That does not mean I will not send someone down that way, however. Based on what Lina told me of their lesson today, Nolan was no doubt the King of Magic, most powerful of all the Magi. If we are known as the Kings and Queens of Power today, then I could probably ask them if they would be willing to educate me on the King of Magic, as they no doubt call him as well.
Whether or not they respond would be an entirely different matter.
"Good," Papa smiles. "The Dragon Clans would be unlikely to respond to any inquiries you sent them, Jacob, so simple curiosity is always best."
He knows I am planning on sending a messenger.
"Indeed," I smile back. "His homeland and one other Magi's homeland were the only two I could not track down to see if they still existed, so I simply wished to learn if it still existed."
Finding out whether or not Benjamin's homeland still exists would not be easy, considering it would involve traveling past the Unwild Lands, over mountains, and then across an ocean.
"Is that all?" Papa asks.
"Yes," I answer. "I have an essay to write on the history of the Sixty-Years War."
"Then let us make our way to dinner," Papa tells us. "You two do not eat with me much since beginning university."
"Sorry," I apologize. "With the training group, we usually return after or around the time you are eating, and we prefer not to interrupt your dinner."
"You may interrupt it at any time you wish," Papa tells me. "You are my children. Come! I believe the kitchens prepared roasted duck for us today."