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After his sudden awakening, Anlal ended up staying shut inside the same room for several days. The lady with blond hair often visited to shower him with hugs and affection — despite his verdant pleas for her to cease. He found himself cursing this new body of his on several occasions. In spite of how he looked at the moment, he was an archmage old enough to be considered that woman's father.

Or perhaps her handsome uncle.

But she cared none for this fact. Why — he suspected she wasn't even aware of it.

She did show signs of surprise at first when she realized Anlal was speaking in an entirely different tongue than her, but for some reason, she seemed to quickly brush it aside as the ramblings of a child. She'd even begun teaching him her language!

While he was hesitant to let this particular woman teach him, Anlal had never been one to deny an opportunity to learn something new. Besides, he would have to learn the local dialect eventually if he wanted to ascertain where he was right now. And the current situation of his disciples and other acquaintances.

Anlal had always been a quick learner. After a week in this place, he'd learned the words for most everyday articles and was starting to get a grasp of the different kinds of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and — oddly enough — how to ask where the closest library was.

He still barely understood a tenth of what the people in the house said, but he was improving. The overly affectionate woman seemed rather shocked and strangely elated at his quick rate of progress. Anlal didn't feel that it was anything particularly odd. He did not have much else to do, after all. He was unable to perform anything but the simplest of magic, and even that tired him out so much that he could barely move for the rest of the day. There was also the fact that he'd been under almost constant supervision ever since he first woke up in this place. He was hesitant to use magic in front of these people at this point in time, so he spent almost all of his time learning this new language.

This way of living continued for him for a while. Food would be brought to him and it was only after he vehemently refused to let them feed him that they gave up and allowed him to feed himself. The visits to the bathroom were best left unmentioned.

During this time he had tried leaving the room many times but was always stopped by the servants that had been put in place to watch over him. He felt more like a prisoner than anything else. And as he was in a greatly weakened state there was nothing he could do except stay locked inside his room and wait. The way everyone around here fussed over his every single move, it was almost as if they were afraid he'd hurt himself. At the very least, it was apparent that they did not harbor any hostile intentions towards him.

He wasn't planning to stay this weak forever, however. For a child, there were two main ways to improve the state and amount of mana in the body. The first one was time. All children have a low amount of mana, at least relative to most adults. But as they grow older their mana capacity grows until they're about sixteen. At this time they're more or less considered adults. But even for those that are born with more mana than usual the amount of mana they naturally have at this age isn't enough to be a real mage. For that, you'll need to train your body to be able to hold more mana by itself.

Of course, there's always the option of using mana from a different source than your own body. A Cinclucite gem was an example of such a means. But Cinclucites were very rare and expensive. Most effective sources of mana were — although Cinclucites were certainly at the higher end of that spectrum. There were cheaper mana sources that were useful for some formations and rituals but they were as good as worthless in combat due to their low conduction rate.

That's why Anlal's best option at the moment was to train his body.

There were many ways of training your bodies' mana capacity. Many senior mages liked to brag that they had developed the best methods for such training, but it was prudent to be wary of such methods as incorrect usage of technique could severely cripple a child's developing body. But Anlal had trained several young mages in his life and was knowledgeable in many of the ways to train a child at this age. He would have to spend some more time to get a good sense of this body's needs, but he was certain that he would be able to develop a good method for handling this.

His body was still young. He estimated that it was around five years old, and had never used any sort of magic before. Therefore, his first priority was to get his body used to the presence of mana. This was a slow process that required him to regularly move his minuscule amount of mana throughout the body. As he didn't want to arouse the suspicion of the people in the house he chose to do this during the night after having gone to bed, and in the mornings before the servants woke him up. It wouldn't look like much from an outside perspective, but the process required much concentration and he couldn't afford to let the servants interrupt him in the middle of it.

After waking him up the servants would always come carrying large trays of sumptuous food. Then, after breakfast, a tutor would arrive to teach him more of the language. The blond lady had been the only one to do this at first, but it seemed that the job had been transferred onto this tutor at some point. However, the blond lady would always come to visit him in the afternoons when he was brought lunch. It was mainly to shower him with hugs, but she did try to teach him some words to him while she was at it.

After living like this for a while, Anlal eventually learned that she was Ivana Arndal — the lady of this house. She was also under the impression that he was her son, Khalid Arndal. This came as no surprise considering how he was treated.

From what he gathered, it seemed as if Khalid Arndal had been born 'mentally defective' — a light way to put it. The boy had barely been able to do anything by himself since birth — not even eat or relieve himself. Perhaps it was a tactless way of describing it, but the boy had been more like a vegetable than a person. Anlal had seen similar cases before, although those were usually due to severe illness or injury.

But despite his condition, Ivana Arndal did all that she could so that her son would live a decent life. When she heard the news that her son was moving and talking, she'd been overjoyed beyond belief. When she first saw Anlal and he was speaking an entirely foreign language she and the others disregarded it as the meaningless rambling of an unknowing child. Ivana was simply glad that her son had recovered. Nothing else mattered to her.

Anlal himself wasn't entirely comfortable with the idea of essentially having taken over the body of such a young child. He had been afraid that he had stolen this body and somehow killed this young boy, so perhaps it was a small comfort to know that it had effectively been nothing more than an empty husk, to begin with. But maybe that was only his way of excusing himself after the fact. There was no way right now for him to know what happened to the boy.

But for now, at least, Anlal had decided to try fitting in as best he could. Telling the mother of this boy that he wasn't him struck him as unnecessarily cruel.

It took two months for Anlal — or Khalid, as the others in the household called him — to reach a level where he could communicate moderately well with the people here and learn most of this. Only recently had he asked the woman whom he now — still rather reluctantly — called mother if he could look around the mansion and been given permission. She'd denied his requests earlier in fear of him hurting himself but Anlal was certain that his rather exemplary behavior was what convinced her. Being stuck in the same room for two months on end under almost constant supervision had been hell for someone such as him. He needed something exciting to do, so he was thrilled.

So, as he woke up the day after Anlal immediately left his bed and put on his clothes. he'd needed help with that at first due to the state the body had been in originally, but that was no longer a problem.

He didn't bother with waiting for breakfast to arrive today. Getting out of this room, even if it was just temporary, was far too important now.

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A note from Mongoose

If you're reading this — thanks for that. Feel free to enjoy this story, if you're able.

Also, feel free to point out any grammatical errors you notice. I promise I won't cry too much.


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Mongoose

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