It’s hard to find people to talk to about your interests.
If I still had the internet, I could join a chat group, look up videos, or just read articles about anything I found interesting.
Finding someone who has the same interests as me, in a small village, is impossible.
Or should have been.
Sitting across from me, Sandra came over again with Richard. It’s Richard’s turn to help make dinner, and mother firmly refused to let Sandra help him. At least with her here, he might finally make a decent meal.
With her waiting for Richard, and me waiting at home for Del’s decision; we both needed someone to talk to.
“So, you’re waiting for Del-Razen to take you back as an apprentice?”
“Yes and no. I messed up pretty bad during my training and he misread the situation making everything worse. Luckily, after I apologized yesterday, he looked a lot less angry.”
“That’s good, father was worried he might leave the village. He’s hard to talk to, but he’s an incredible smith.”
“Yeah, I know. A part of me was hoping he would stop by today, but I knew that was wishful thinking.”
“You shouldn’t worry too much. If you’re half the hard worker Richard has told me about, Del-Razen will definitely take you back. Just continue to work as hard as you can and you’ll succeed. That’s what my father always says when I’m having trouble with my training.”
“You talked about that a little last night, you’re training to be a mage, right?”
“That’s correct, I’m the only other person in the village that can use magic. Father pays Anastasia to teach me as much as she can, so when I go to the city for proper training soon, I’ll find a better teacher.”
“Does brother know you’re planning on leaving soon?”
“We're discussing it… he knows how passionate I am about magic. I need to leave eventually to find a real teacher, someone who can use real magic not…”
“Magic items. You want to cast your own spells, not using gloves for everything, right?”
“Exactly! Did you talk to Anastasia too?”
“I tried after my awakening. She wanted a ridiculous amount of money, just to try and teach me how to use some magic gloves.”
“I know what you mean. Father has her teach me, because he wants a mage in the family. She’s been teaching me since before my Awakening, and her lessons have barely changed. If she wasn’t so important, I’d tell dad to stop paying her. I heard she’s the daughter of a large caravan company, that’s why a traveling merchant regularly comes to our village, to check up on her.”
“Why is she out here, if she comes from money?”
“Father told me she tried joining the Healer branch of the kingdoms army. She was probably supposed to earn a ranking position and help her family gain military shipping contracts. Unfortunately for her, she had only the most basic of magic talent. She was told, she could only be placed in the Healer’s Reserve garrison.”
“The Healer’s Reserve garrison is a fancy name for the Healer’s maids. They do all the dirty work the healers don’t want to do. Knowing she couldn’t provide the contact with the military for her family, she quit. For failing her duty to her family, she was cut off financially. With the last of her money, she bought some minor healing gloves and came to our village.”
“How does your dad know all of this?
“He was contacted by Anastasias family. Our village gets a merchant to regularly stop by, in return for keeping an eye on her.”
“So, has she been able to teach you any real magic?”
“No, only theory.”
“That doesn’t sound… too bad?”
“Thanks for your understanding, Aaliyah.” She doesn’t look very happy. I should have been less condescending with my remark.
“I’m sorry Sandra, I’m just a little jealous that you have a teacher. Magic sounds really cool, what have you learned so far?”
“Have you heard about the three methods to cast magic?”
“A little, Anastasia went over them really quick, but she didn’t sound super enthusiastic about what she told me.”
“Well casting magic falls into three different categories: runic, chanting, or pure manipulation. Runic magic is the channeling of mana into runic symbols to trigger a magic affect. There are two main methods to cast runic magic. The first is with magic circles that contain many runes. The more complicated the circle is, the harder it is to channel your mana into it. The larger and more complicated the magic circle, the more mana you need to successfully activate it. The best thing about runic magic is the ability to create the magic circles ahead of time and then leave them till you have a need to activate them.”
“Because Runic magic can be carved into things like metal, runic magic is used to make magic items. Magic items can be created with as little as four runes, to make a simple fire box, or hundreds of runes can be carved into a sword, turning it into something capable of slaying a dragon. Unfortunately, like all magic, different runes are kept secret by their owners.”
“How can you own a rune, Sandra?”
“Runic knowledge is passed from master to apprentice, and no mage wants to give up their personal magic knowledge, unless it’s to someone they trust. Kingdoms have their own runic library, but the Stone Kin are considered to be the masters of Runic Magic. Supposedly, Stone Kin make thousands of magic items every day. Dad tried to get Del to teach me some runic magic but he always refused. Maybe if you're lucky, you can learn some magic from Del!”
“Yeah, maybe.” Hearing how much people think of Stone Kin magic, I can only imagine what Master Del had to deal with after he left his home. It’s nice being able to hear so much about magic, and Sandra said that this is all basic knowledge. What else can I learn? “What’s the next type of magic?”
“The next type of magic is spoken magic, or commonly called “Chanting” magic. Using your will, you can shape magic with your voice…”
“Wait, wait, wait! You can make fireballs by yelling “Fireball” hard enough?”
“He-He, technically yes. If you had the will of a god that might work. Spoken magic has to be extremely specific to trigger any real magical effects, here watch.”
Holding out her palm, Sandra starts speaking in an even pace. “I summon a candle flame in the center of my palm, two inches off of my skin. The flame will burn for one minute, and flicker out. I guard my hand with mana so the heat doesn’t affect me. IGNITE!”
Before my eyes, a tiny flame flickers atop Sandra’s outstretched hand.
“That’s all it takes?” Sandra doesn’t answer me, she’s staring at her little flame concentrating.
I can cast magic with this! As I’m about to run outside and try to conjure a fireball, the flame winks out of existence, leaving Sandra winded.
“As you can see, using magic like that is almost impossible.” Confused, I tilt my head. What’s impossible, she successfully triggered magic?
“What’s wrong with your spell?”
“Other than being too long? Magic like that uses more mana the more complicated you get. And worse, if you chant is not complicated enough, you can’t summon anything. Even balancing a small flame like that cost me 380 mana.”
“380, how is that fair?” That would be most of my mana for a single candle flame, lasting only a minute.
“The reason it costs so much is because our language can’t convey the magic we want to cast. Mages who practice spoken magic use the Celestial language, but just like runic magic, all Celestial spells are kept secret by their owners. The Celestial language was recovered hundreds of years ago and people believe it came from the gods. In the Celestial language, that spell I chanted could probably be uttered in less than seven words.”
So, no matter what you want to learn about magic, you need to acquire the knowledge from someone who’s willing to teach you.
“That’s why you want to go to the city, so you can find someone willing to teach you Celestial or runic magic? What about the last type of magic?”
“The last type of magic is almost impossible to use, period. Pure manipulation of magic is forcing your mana into a magical effect with just your mana control. The idea came from watching magic beasts. Say, you have a magic beast that covers its body in flames. That magic beast is converting its mana directly into fire. Only the best magicians in the world are able to try something like that, let alone succeed.”
“So, the only way for someone to become a decent mage is to find a great teacher?
“That’s right, and magic teachers are extremely picky. That’s why my dad still pays Anastasia to come to our house and try to help me improve. If I can prove myself better, I might be able to be an apprentice under a two-star mage.”
“All mages deserving of credit, showcase their skills at the royal capital. Depending on their magic abilities, they are awarded one to five stars. It’s said 87% of mages only obtain one star, with 12% of mages gaining a second star, .9% for a third star, .09% can manage to get a fourth star, and only .01% of mages will ever manage to claim all five stars. Cities usually have one or two, two-star mages. I’m hoping my basic skills are high enough to convince one of them to take me as an apprentice.”
“What are your basic magic skills?” let’s see how I compare to other aspiring mages.
“The four basic skills masters look at are Meditation, Chanting, Sense Mana, and Expel Mana.”
I’m missing one of those. Doesn’t matter, I’ll probably get chanting tonight, after I try reciting my own spells.
“What levels are Masters looking for?”
“Masters look for someone with a Meditation skill over level 30, and the other skills in the high twenties. I can’t give you my exact levels but I’ll tell you I’m close to reaching all of the requirements.”
I probably have four or five years of practice on her, but my skills are a lot higher. That must be what mom was saying about me being gifted with my skills.
“What about other magic skills? Anastasia told me something about Mana Manipulation, when I stopped by after my awakening.”
“Most other magic related skills are tier three and above. Mana Manipulation is said to be one of the hardest tier three skills to level. Mana Manipulation can be as hard to level as a tier four or even tier five skill, depending on who you ask. That said, it’s believed that the higher a person’s Mana Manipulation level is, the easier it is for them to gain tier four skills.”
“What are the chances I have magical aptitude?” I’m trying not to smile. “Mom said it’s really rare, but now we have two people in the village that can use magic.”
“That’s actually false information, usually one out of every eighty people can sense their magic. As long as a person can sense their magic, they could technically be called a mage. Just because someone can use a little bit of magic that doesn’t make them a true mage though. A person isn’t qualified to be called a mage unless they have a star. Everybody who doesn’t have a star is still considered a normal person. Anastasia is considered one of these people, if she didn’t study anatomy with the kingdom’s army, she wouldn’t be able to even use her gloves properly. Real healers, with her amount of magic, can easily heal much bigger groups of people or even larger injuries.”
“She does help people though. She saved my dad after the karhu attack.”
“You're right. She works hard to heal anyone who comes to her door. And, despite her repeating lectures, she honestly tries to answer any question I ask her.”
“Do you have any more questions, Aaliyah?”
“I was wondering, how do you cast magic with Expel Mana?” If I’m going to try Chanting, I need to know how Expel Mana works when I’m talking.
“Expel Mana is the basis for most magic skills. When using runic magic, you need to use Expel mana into special tools that carve the patterns onto different surfaces. The same applies to spoken magic. You need to expel a small amount of magic through your mouth when chanting, then expel your mana according to your chant. You noticed how I designated where the flame was going to appear, knowing where the mana needs to be, you have to expel your mana as the spell is forming in its designated place.”
“When you say special tools, what are you talking about?”
“Anastasia only told me a little about magic enhancing tools. Anything that helps you perform magic stronger, faster, or more easily; can be considered one of those tools. Mages can use staves, wands, swords, shields, anything that is made from magic compatible materials. Materials that compliment magic are expensive, most people can only be lucky to find them where…”
“Alright girls, dinner is done. Aaliyah, help your brother set the table.”
But they just started making dinner?
Looking outside, the sun is falling over the horizon. Sandra and I have been talking for hours? As I leave the table to grab the utensils, Sandra looks just as surprised as me. We both lost track of time. It was worth it though; I learned a lot about magic in one sitting.
Tonight should be fun. When Sandra and Richard leave, I can try chanting a spell before I go to bed.
“How am I going to do this?”
Saying it out loud isn’t helping.
After Richard and Sandra left, we cleaned the kitchen, and each of us went to our rooms for the night. I got comfortable, but planning my chant out has been difficult. I know it needs to reflect my desires; in the shortest, most precise way I can imagine. The problem is the language, itself. The reason I had such a hard time learning the local language, was due to the extra words they use to convey additional emotion in their words. Saying the same sentence in English is almost 60% shorter.
Sandra said, any language could be used!
Why am I limiting myself to the longer language? I wouldn’t want people to recognize what I was chanting anyway. Anyone listening to my spells would know exactly what was going to happen.
Let’s try doing this in English.
“Summoning light, in a 1cm diameter ball, on the tip of my index finger. It will be 100 lumens, and will take 100 mana. Go!”
It’s weird speaking in English again. The mana I expelled during my chant cost me fifteen points, and following Sandra’s advice I channeled my mana to my index finger.
I can feel the mana gathering into a small ball, on the tip of my finger. Suddenly, my room lights up. I almost want to cry; I can finally cast magic spells!
I look like a Spielberg alien right now, he-he.
Continuing to channel the spell, I can feel how much mana I’m burning.
The light only lasts another twenty seconds, before it flickers out of existence. Checking my mana levels, I burned 116 points of mana. Instead of giving a time like Sandra did, I specified how much mana I wanted to spend. Next time I see her, I’ll recommend she try it.
I wonder how English compares to the Celestial language with mana costs?
Riding the high of a successful spell, I try once again to break into level 51 with my two skills. I’ve been practicing every chance I get these last two days, and I’m positive, I’m almost there. Each time I try, my open-eyed meditation becomes a little closer towards real meditation. The wisps of mana are becoming clearer and I can even move my head slightly without breaking my concentration.
Laying comfortably on my bed, I feel like I’m being swallowed by my bed. Trying to enter the mental state I’m used to; the wisps start to appear in my eyes. I can pick out small strands of my mana, the remains of my spell, fusing with the ambient mana around me. I keep trying, but the feeling just won’t come. I need to try harder!
This is just like my spell earlier. I’m trying to force the magic, when I should be taking a step back!
Let’s try something different.
This time I close my eyes and enter my normal Meditation and Sense Mana skills. Sinking into the deepest meditation I can, I slowly open my eyes. All the flows of mana I’m used to sensing overlap with my room. The joy I feel almost pulls me out of my meditative state. Taking a slow breath, I calm myself.
After I sink back into my calm state, I feel everything settle. I did it! I can tell I passed the test!
This new sensation was worth it. I can now see how the ambient mana is interacting with my surroundings. I can see mana flowing both around and through items. The mana in everyday materials slightly changes the color of the passing mana. I can still see the mana flow beyond the walls of my house. Unfortunately it doesn’t allow me to see through objects.
I can feel the mental fatigue building behind my eyes. This should be enough for tonight.
With the training done, I try and get some sleep. I don’t like to empty my mana pool at nights anymore. I need to have mana to practice the next day.
As my eyes close, I can’t help but start thinking about my breakthroughs tonight, and of course the thought of trying to throw a fireball tomorrow.
I really love waking up during spring time. The birds singing, almost makes up for my inability to sleep in, almost.
I can hear father getting ready in the next room as I sink into my morning meditation. Keeping my eyes open, I have no problems reaching the meditative state from last night.
This is the best use of skills I’ve come across so far. Once you reach the next level in a skill, everything feels more natural. Even though I only achieved the next level once, recreating that same effect is almost second nature now.
Now that I don’t need to shut myself off from the world while meditating, I can hear the door open and close as father leaves for work.
“Aaliyah, come out here, please!”
Why is mom calling me so early?
She always gives me a few hours in the morning for practice.
Donning my usual clothes, and brushing my hair, I run my tongue over my teeth. Brushing regularly has been hard. I fastened a toothbrush out of a small strip of wood, and attached a small piece of pelt from a farkas. The tail of a farkas is made of extremely bristly hair, and with some thread I can floss properly. I surprised my parents with the idea of dental hygiene, but dad ended up making one for each of them, after seeing mine.
Wait, I have magic now!
I can’t think of a better use for magic, than good dental hygiene. Let’s think of a good spell really quick.
“I summon water magic to clean my mouth, removing tartar and plaque. Clean around my teeth gently, till 100 mana is spent. Clean!”
After I finish reciting my new spell, I continue to channel my mana to my mouth. This should be great; I won’t have to worry about my teeth anymore.
Once the mana congeals into water, it starts forcing itself around my mouth. I said gently!
I can feel the water twisting in and out of my teeth, and every breath I take I inhale water.
Collapsing to the ground the magic finally stops.
Taking deep breaths, I cough up slightly yellow saliva. Running my tongue against my teeth again, it feels like I just got out of the most detailed dentist visit ever.
Still coughing a little, I wonder if it’s worth almost drowning myself. I have to be really careful with what I chant from now on.
Straitening my hair again, I leave my room to see what mom wants.
Walking down the short hall, I stop once I see Del standing by our door. Father is standing in front of mother protectively, staring with a straight face at Master Del.
Master Del notices me, and asks the question I’ve been waiting for.
“Can we Talk?”