They reached the hall of magic at the ground floor. A large flat space that was equivalent to the size of 20 whales arranged in rows of two. The centre was open space, lined with long sitting tables and straight row seats. Each arrangement could be broken up into smaller groups, with wheeled blackboards placed off to the side of each.
Many ivory pillars lifted to the edges of the centre portion extended upwards to support the skeleton of the library structure. The first to third floors were built off to the sides, leaving no obstructions in the centre. One could look straight up to the glass roof up top, super strengthen to resist corrosion and weather, allowing pure daylight to fill the enclosure. At night, the sights of the moon, stars, galaxies or perhaps nebulas would display themselves in magnificence. All someone needed to do was, look up.
Occasionally, at night, Curtis would come watch as the celestial objects dance around the sky while he read books under the comforting warm light of the library.
From the crowds present, Curtis noticed Professor Liam teaching a group of 7 students a short distance away. He, by coincidence, also glanced Curtis' way by chance. They looked at each other and with a nod, gave each other a brief greeting.
"This one," Kelp pulled a book over from the table to lift its contents in front of Curtis. The book, merely inches away from his face, while Kelp's two hands extended straight out.
Curtis took a step back before taking the book from Kelp's hands, inspecting it under the basking light of the sun. It did not look like an advance spell? But why did they need his help? The repertoire was made up of many simple elemental clauses, moreover, it was a fairly short.
Curtis tilted his head in a hit of confusion.
"This part right?" Curtis pointed to a weird clause that caught his attention.
"Even you know the problem," Kelp laughed.
"It's a derivative from the shape-changing clause."
"Speak in simple terms please."
"Uh, a special variable clause to alter shape."
The trio knew this much about Curtis—his understanding of magic was otherworldly.
"It's something to change the shape or form of an element;"
"Can't you ask your professor to do it?"
"We can't... you see. We're in the middle of a project, something like that."
"Professor wants us to memorize an advance spell by ourselves."
"Let me guess. You were too lazy to learn the longer ones so you picked this one?"
The trio nodded.
"I think this would be more difficult to master."
"Should we pick another one then?" Merlin held a pitiful face. They had already wasted a whole morning on this one spell. If they were to switch to another one, the effort for this one would come to a waste.
"No. I think if you learn to use this spell, it would impress your professor."
"Didn't you say it was difficult? If a prodigy said it was difficult, what else could it mean for us?"
"You've already gotten the other parts right already, right? It's only this small part?"
"Like this," The blue crystal on Curtis' neck lit up with a tingle. His hand was raised a little and a ball of flame coalesced above his fingertip. The with another finger gesture, he summoned four more flame balls, a total of five; they independently formed into a straight line. "You can do this right?"
"That....", Kelp looked astound as always. Curtis generated five flames like it was nothing.
Merlin waved his hands, narrowing his eyes in front. Five flame balls appeared, but unlike Curtis, they appeared more volatile. It was clear he wasn't as adapt, but among the trio, he was second the best.
While Merlin was controlling the flames to form a straight line, Cordelia and Kelp started to creating flames of their own. They had to cast the flame spell one-by-one, while also focusing on maintaining the it's substance form with wind magic. When they finally caught up, generating five flames, Merlin had already arranged his into a straight line. It took a while longer for Cordelia; Kelp managed to move the flames into position as fast as Merlin did.
"This part onwards, you'll have to refer to the book," the book Curtis held on his other hand floated in front of the trio. "Merlin, you go first."
"Got it," the book appeared in front of Merlin. The notes lit up, making easier to read. The kind of wind magic control Curtis possessed was totally out of their league, to be able to stabilize a book in the air was an impossible feat for most people.
"Before we start, can you try wiggle the fire balls?" The five clumps of flames started to move in a mesmerizing wave-like motion. Like a snake wiggling its body forward; vertically rather than horizontally.
Merlin focus incisively, the first flame moved, followed by the second, then before he attempted the third one, the first flame ball went out of alignment. Merlin quickly retracted his attempt and realigned the flames.
"Do it with two streams of wind. One from the top another from the bottom. Bend the wind, not the flame."
Merlin did just that, and the flames gently rocked up and down. A somewhat tensed version of the natural wave-like motion Curtis demonstrated. Nevertheless, it was a success.
Kelp and Cordelia were becoming impatient, so they tried too. And to their surprise, it wasn't as hard as it looked. They just need to change their approach!
This was the thing about playing magic repertoires, there existed many approaches to how one could attempt a clause. Which was why Curtis believe that correct techniques were necessary to improving efficiency and ease spell casting evocation. Of course, with practice comes mileage, so even for clauses that Curtis had never encountered before, his instincts would automatically figure out the best method to go about playing the clause.
"Amazing! So that's how it is!"
"Everyone got it down already? Nice work," Curtis paused before continuing, "The first two notes with the variables, focus on that first, flatten the flame. Pull them closer together, so they look like one string."
The five flames moved closer to each other, thinning into a flat ribbon.
"Complicated.." Merlin commented, his hands started shaking, tensing up as the flames drew closer. He took another look at the notes before he drew his five fingers in and closed his fist. The flames merged into a clump, then straightened out into a flat sheet, a little wider and fatter.
Cordelia and Kelp tried to keep up, but the flame balls just lumped together into a bigger one, squished into an oval, unable to thin out. Kelp furrowed his brow.
"Can you keep up?"
"Ok, I'll try not to over complicate things so try practice till this point first. Practice merging it together fluidly, and keeping it in that state. Next," Curtis repeated the wave-like motion before, this time with the flames being a ribbon. The fiery ribbon oscillating in the wind, "Merlin, try to apply the wave movement like you did before. Two streams, the entire form of the flame at once."
Merlin's twitching hand began to open, the flame ribbon swayed a little, a single wave motion was produced.
"That's about my limit," Merlin relaxed his hands, the entirety of the flame broke down and dissipated.
"So to this point then. I think you three could manage to make the ribbon oscillate with a few more hours of practice. I'll continue on from here to show you the true form of the spell, just so you know how it should look like," Curtis spun his finger in the air, "Then flatten the ribbon even thinner at the centre. I also added more flame. If possible, try to use a larger quantity of fire, it would make the molding part easier."
The fiery form of a manta ray appeared, looking stiff.
"It's fine if you can't reach this level of detailed yet," the manta ray diluted into a basic flat pancake with a tail attached, "This amount should do for your level. Then you provide 2 pairs of streams, one at the tail, another at the wings, perpendicularly," the shoddy manta ray started to beat its pancake wings, the tails swinging left, right, up and down. "It should look something like this— but if you want to take it a little further.."
The shoddy manta ray gained incredulous details. As if the real thing, even the stinger at the end of the tail and the two clasping mouths were present. Two crimson, beady eyes in front, looking kinda cute. The manta ray flapped it's magnificent pancakes and swirled about Curtis' hand. With every second, it looked more and more alive—as if it wasn't a spell at all; majestic with it's superior fiery aura. Someone forgot maple syrup.
"Oh my gosh."
"Curtis is a prodigy, as expected.."
"The one clause there is to alter the fire into the shape of the manta ray, with the intricate details, no wonder it would be so difficult," Curtis smiled.
"Difficult for us, not you. You're practical at god-level."