A large ball of fire shot out and struck the ground followed by a small explosion. Scarlett observed the scene with her lips slightly upturned. It didn't matter what her current circumstances were. Seeing real magic would always be exciting. Well, as exciting as anything could be in her current circumstances.

She looked down at the black wand in her hand, the gem at its top gleaming a dull red. The [Wand of Fireball] worked exactly as it had in the game. Without any cost to her, she could now cast [Fireball] four times per day.

She lifted her gaze to look at the area where the spell had hit. The stone might have become slightly charred, but it was hard to tell. The whole area surrounding the point she'd aimed at was completely defaced from years of abuse. It was clear she wasn't the first to practice magic here.

She was currently behind the Hartford mansion, between a hedge garden far too large for just one family and the outer wall that enclosed the whole estate. As it turned out the Hartfords did have a training ground. As did probably many of the noble families who used magic in this world. Where else would they train, after all? The servant she had asked about the matter the day before had likely been too surprised—and probably nervous—by her request to reply. Scarlett couldn't blame the woman. Knowing how the original Scarlett had been she wasn't sure if she would have fared much better in the servant's shoes.

A little over an hour had passed since Scarlett returned from her little excursion in the old Zuverian ruins. Since then she had spent some time organizing the loot—mostly old Zuverian coins—she'd found, and after that she'd had another meal prepared by the mansion's chef. She didn't know who it was but they deserved all the praise. She imagined this was how it was like eating at a Michelin-ranked restaurant every day.

But now her focus was on magic. The training ground set up by the Hartford family was essentially just a long stone courtyard with several wood and stone targets set up at one end. She hadn't tried attacking those yet but she assumed they were enchanted in some way. Otherwise they wouldn't really put up much of a challenge against most spells. Apart from those targets, there was also a shed at the edge of the training grounds right next to the wall. She hadn't bothered seeing what was inside just yet, however.

Bringing her attention to the targets Scarlett crossed part of the training ground and stopped a couple dozen or so meters away from them. Pausing for a moment, she focused her eyes. It was faint, but she took a few steps closer and made out a slight shimmer that surrounded the target. It was similar to what she'd seen around Kat when she had looked at the woman with the effect from the [Charms of Apperception]. She brought her left hand up to her ear where one of the earrings hung. It seemed their effect wasn't limited to just people, but every kind of magical defense.

A thought struck her. She lowered the wand and placed it in her belt for now and instead raised her hand towards the target. The shifting movement of the magical barrier that surrounded the target was much slower than Kat's had been. There were also a lot more of those instabilities in this one. Creating a ball of fire above her palm through pyrokinesis, Scarlett then moved it towards the target. She hadn't had much time to practice this yet so it was a bit wobbly, but she managed to bring it all the way to the target. She then brought it right against the wood itself for almost thirty seconds before letting the fire dissipate. She walked over to the target to get a closer look. It didn't seem like the fire left any mark.

She repeated the process once again, but this time she aimed the fire towards one of the weak points in the target's enchantment. After waiting for another half a minute she let the fire disappear and took another look. She had to lean over closely, but she did see a black burn mark on the wood.

Could she make the fire stronger? She only had [Minor Pyrokinesis], but it gave her a decent amount of control. She was pretty sure a single ball of fire wasn't her limit.

She created a new flame, this time immediately next to one of the target's weak points, and with all her focus she imagined it growing hotter and hotter. She could see the fire slowly glowing a brighter red as she focused on it. After a while it had turned a clear red, almost a little orange, and she felt as if she was starting to lose control. She let the fire dissipate once again and leaned forward to see the results. There was a large burn mark next to where she'd aimed the fire now. Part of the wood had even started crumbling into black charcoal.

So her pyrokinesis did have its uses. She glanced at her remaining mana.

[Mana: 913/979]

It hadn't even been especially costly to use it like that. The problem was that it wasn't very practical to use it like that in a fight. It wasn't explosive enough. She highly doubted anyone who attacked her—which she honestly doubted there wouldn't be in the future—would be kind enough to stand still while she hovered a fire to their faces.

Scarlett stood in front of the target, arms crossed as she observed the ever-shifting and barely visible shimmering that was the enchantment protecting it. Would it make more of a difference if her pyrokinesis skill was higher? In the game the skill hadn't had much more meaning than lowering your mana costs so she wasn't certain how effective the higher ranks were. It didn't help that currently, her only other usable skill was [Lesser Hydrokinesis]. She'd tried figuring out how to use [Minor Mana-control] but hadn't had much success there. Maybe it was just a prerequisite for the other skills or something like that? Unfortunately there weren't any descriptions for skills as there were for items. Or at least she hadn't figured out how to find them yet.

She paused. An idea had just sprung up into her mind.

She pointed her finger towards the head of the target and created a small ball of water—no larger than a tennis ball, really—above it, the liquid swirling around as it was held in its shape by some invisible force. She had realized yesterday that, like her pyrokinesis, she didn't need a preexisting source of water to use hydrokinesis. It was more taxing doing it like this, however. She was unsure whether the skill literally created water or if it pulled it from the humidity in the surrounding air, but it didn't really matter to her right now. She manipulated the water as to leave a hollow space inside the sphere, letting the excess water fall down on the target. Then she carefully used her pyrokinesis to create a small flame in the empty space inside the sphere of water. She seemed to be successful. The light from the fire reflected and distorted through the moving water that surrounded it as it heated the sphere from the inside. However, after about forty seconds she saw that the water had started boiling and she could see some wet steam forming as the heated water condensed around it. She immediately snuffed out the fire and let the water rain onto the target's head.

Her aim was to cause the water to go through superheating. It had been a while since her high school days, but she remembered researching quite a bit about the subject back then. The phenomenon known as 'superheated water' was essentially just water that had reached a temperature above its normal boiling point of 100 degrees celsius but still remained in a liquid state due to being under a higher pressure that increased the amount of energy required to transition to gas form. Similar to that, but not exactly the same, was the process of 'superheating' a liquid to delay its boiling by...well, she couldn't really remember the physics behind it. But she did remember that a liquid in such a state was quite volatile. And she'd hoped to reproduce that effect. But obviously she was doing it wrong.

She was pretty sure the fire wasn't touching the water, so there shouldn't be an issue there. It was just functioning as an odd kind of heater, hopefully. Then was it because the water was moving?

She created another ball of water, repeating the same process as last time. This time, however, she focused her attention on forcing the water to be completely still. It looked almost like a soap bubble as it hovered in the air. Just without the rainbow colors.

Making sure not to let her attention slip, she created a flame inside the sphere. Then she waited. After waiting for about the same length of time as last time there still wasn't any sign of the water boiling. She waited for a little while longer and squinted her eyes. It looked like the sphere had gotten a little smaller. Had the water already started turning into steam?

Making sure not to lose her concentration, Scarlett took several careful steps back. She then used her hydrokinesis to cause a small ripple in the side of the water that was facing the target. She unconsciously took another step back as the sphere of water immediately exploded into a tiny shower of burning hot liquid. A couple of drops even hit her arm, but fortunately she was still wearing the full-covering clothes she'd gone out to the dungeon in.

She glanced at the target itself. It didn't look to have been affected much. But the blast also hadn't been aimed at any particular weak points. She looked at her mana.

[Mana: 878/979]

She had been slow with that one, but it was still surprisingly affordable. Judging from how the sphere had started losing its size she had probably waited for too long too. She looked back at the target, locating one of the weak points in its enchantment that barely moved. Once more she created a still sphere of water next to it and created a flame inside. This time she waited for a little over thirty seconds. Just like last time, a small ripple was enough to cause the water to explode. The majority of the liquid shot out towards the target where she'd created the ripple, but there was some splattering in all other directions too.

Scarlett walked over to the target again to observe the damage up close. She was surprised to find that a small part of the target looked to actually have become dented. A clear indentation and cracks showed in the brown wood that made up its body.

She stepped back and moved to a safe distance to try again. She repeated the procedure again, but this time she tried making the fire a lot hotter. She ended up miscalculating its size and losing control the first two times, but on her third try she managed to replicate the superheating of the water and the explosion in only ten seconds. And for all she knew she might still be overshooting the time needed. The only way for her to be sure was by testing it.

[Mana: 696/979]

It was incredibly mana efficient if you compared it to the spells she knew of. Granted, it probably wasn't close to being as powerful as those were, but she didn't have much to work with.

She briefly considered whether it was possible to make this technique even more powerful if she could actually superheat the water, rather than merely superheating it. There was a distinct difference between the two even though they achieved a similar result. She didn't remember too much from her physics classes, but if she could perhaps somehow increase the pressure the water was under with her hydrokinesis, then she might be able to increase the liquid's boiling point. An increased boiling point meant hotter water and just more energy in general, right? Hopefully making this even more powerful. And if she recalled correctly enough of an increase in pressure and heat would cause the liquid to go supercritical...though she couldn't for the life of her remember how large of an increase that meant. Or even what effects that would have. Her knowledge of supercritical fluids was limited to knowing they were certifiably 'wacky'—to borrow how one of her friends had once described them—in how they acted.

Although not that she was ever likely to reach the point where she could test that hypothesis if she stayed at her current level. [Lesser Hydrokinesis] probably couldn't do it even if the skill let her change the pressure of the water.

Scarlett tapped her foot against the stone ground as she looked into the air in front of her.

[Name: Scarlett Hartford]
[Minor Mana-control]
[Minor Pyrokinesis]
[Minor Hydromancy]
[Lesser Hydrokinesis]]
[Dignified August]
[Third-rate Mana Veins]]
[Mana: 696/979]
[Skill points: 1]

She had learned how to summon the status window without speaking now, but there weren't any large changes compared to the first time she'd seen it. There was a slight rise in her mana, as well the skill point she'd earned earlier during the day. She hadn't put much thought to the skills points yet, though. She tried focusing on that part of the window.

[Skills Menu:
[Greater Pyromancy] (10 points)
[Pyrokinesis] (5 points)
[Hydromancy] (5 points)
[Minor Hydrokinesis] (2 points)
[Mana Control] (5 points)
New skills

She raised an eyebrow. This was definitely different from how it worked in Chronicle of Realms. In fact, there hadn't been a skill menu at all in the game. Skills had been rewards that you gained from achievements and important questlines. Upgrading the skills was mostly done by gaining experience with the skills.

This menu did arouse her interest, however. Especially the 'new skills' section. Knowing that she could upgrade her skills was good news. But the potential for buying new ones was definitely what excited her the most. There were some very powerful skills that she wouldn't mind getting her hands on. But the feature was locked right now. She tried prompting a description for it, but nothing appeared. No clues as to how to unlock it.

She frowned as she closed the window down. She would have to save upgrading and figuring out how to buy new skills for the future it seemed. Bringing her attention back to the place at hand, she raised her arm towards the target once more. For now, she would resume her experimenting. She still had mana to lose, after all.


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