Entry 15 Riloth 19th the 12th

Dear Spellbook,

Today did not go well. I should have stayed in my room, but I grew impatient.

I washed up in my room, dressed in my travel gear with your satchel and set off to start the day, just as I had the two days before while setting up my minions, but today I’d convinced myself that I could sneak out of town, avoiding the minions and preserving my surveillance set up. The risk seemed low, since the accounts of Twiggy and his crew matched my own observations.

I don’t need to lie that low. I can go hide in the forest. I should be safe out there even if there are others in the town aware of the reset.

By the time I’d reached the cashier, my plan was set to break cover and do something. Anything. This time, when I collected my winnings, I took it all.

With two large sacks of gold weighing heavily on my belt, I was escorted out of the Parlor by two guards in Parlor security uniforms. The outfits were similar to the uniforms of the town guard but they wore no armor. They carried light swords and batons, and were dressed in military style uniforms in the red, white, and gold of the Parlor.

This escort hadn't occurred before, and already I began to regret my decision. Walking out of the Parlor with a small fortune made them assign a guard detail.

What else would this change?

They were not guards I had seen before around town or at the gate.

"Are you two going to follow me around all day or just till sundown?" I asked.

The shorter of the two replied, "Well, we could if you'd like, but I get the feeling a young fellow like yourself doesn’t want chaperones after a windfall like that." Then he winked at me as he gestured to the gold. "We are required to escort you to the square at the very least, if you don’t want our protection, we will part ways there."

True to their word, they stopped at the bottom of the stairs that marked the edge of the square and turned back to go inside. On their way, they caught sight of the passed-out dwarf I’d seen the children pestering what felt like years ago. They tapped him lightly with a booted foot with their baton, "Move along sir, if you’re a refugee, please go to the camps. I'm sure they can find a place for you. If you're just on a bender, best get yourself home."

Not waiting around to see how this progressed, I continued on my mission. At Levar’s, I entered with less fanfare than my previous visits, and was rewarded for the consideration. When I bought four clarity potions and the potion foregone sleep, he threw in the sleep potion for free and it was an even eighty gold coins.

“Thanks, Levar!” I said, as I paid him. Even though I could afford it, the gesture was appreciated.

"No, thank you for the business." He replied.

The potions slotted nicely into the ink vial loops on the inside of your satchel, and I slipped the spare potions of clarity in after I'd downed the first.

Rejuvenated, I swung by the market square to pick up some food for myself and to motivate my minions. After setting them in order, I left the town through the north gate and made my way out into the woods. It'd been some time since I'd followed my mother’s training regimen, and that was exactly what I needed after being cooped up for so long.

Benchmarking one's Will is a key facet of measuring magical growth as both a wizard and a sorcerer—according to my mother at least. Every few months, she would take me into the wilderness where I would cast spells until spent. When I first learned Firebolt, my first sorcerer spell that wasn’t a cantrip, I could only cast it three times in a day before exhausting my Will. I think I touched on this, and maybe being a spellbook you know, but when casting a spell, as a sorcerer or wizard, you use your Will to harness the power of the Fonts. The methods are very different, but they both drain the same resource. Aside from being unable to cast spells, being out of Will is a rather unpleasant state to be in. Being Will drained is similar to the rung out, out of focus, state you get into when you stay up way too late, just without the sleepiness. You struggle to focus on anything, thinking critically becomes difficult, and everything just feels a little alien.

Back to benchmarking. Sorcerer and wizard spells of similar power all use similar amounts of Will, Wizard spells tend to be optimized in their construction to maximize the effects and minimize the Will required, but sorcerer’s can become more efficient casters the more they practice. In the end, it about evens out. To measure my capacity, my mother had me fire as many Lightning Bolts as I could in sequence. Since I know Lightning Bolt as a wizard spell, it always uses the same amount of Will and with it I can gauge my Will gains. The last time I’d done this, I cast the spell four times. The next day I repeated the process, but with Firebolt and I cast the spell five times.

Firebolt and Lightning Bolt are both spells just a step above a cantrip and require an exertion of Will to cast. For wizard spells, that effort comes from building and maintaining the mental constructs required to access and shape the font. For sorcerous castings, the effort comes from piercing and shaping the wall of the font. In most instances, the Will is comparable, but because sorcery is more flexible than wizardry, my spells go a little further there. My familiarity with the Font of Fire also allows me to use less will to cast a "standard" Firebolt. Another aspect of this flexibility is that I can cast slightly larger Firebolts and tap myself out in three or four castings

The more complex or powerful a spell, the more Will it takes. While I could cast Firebolt four times, I could only cast Blink twice, and the second was never able to go as far as the first. If Blink was a spell of wizardry, instead of not being as effective, I wouldn’t have been able to complete the spell at all.

The walk through the refugee camp was much more pleasant when children's laughter didn't send lightning shooting through my skull. The place had begun to look nice, for a tent city at least. The roads were filled with happy children playing.

How did these ones escape Daulf’s clutches?

The air was filled with the smell of cooking food, and everyone looked more hopeful than from the time of our arrival.

During this walk, I kept you hidden in my bag. Part of me—okay, all of me—knew I was being impatient in leaving my room before I was certain there were no others aware of the reset, and a spellbook would draw attention, even if it did a great job at clearing a path through crowds.

The camp had expanded to the forest’s edge and I emerged near the tree line to find that the caravan of dwarves had left some time ago. The camp dwellers had pushed back the forest’s edge to feed their fires and constructions, and the journey was riddled with stumps. I continued from the clearing and into the woods, seeking a location where I could practice my spells in secrecy. Twenty minutes into my trek, I found a clearing that suited my needs. It was a rough circle, about thirty feet at its widest. In the center sat a large moss covered boulder.

This will do nicely.

I hung my satchel on a low branch at the forest’s edge, and stepped out into the clearing to begin. Extending my hand out towards the boulder—fingers splayed out and level with the ground—I formed the spell for Lightning Bolt in my mind, and pushed it off into the Arcane Realm. As soon as the spell had left my mind, the power leapt from my hand, arcing out from each finger towards the boulder in a brilliant blue-white flash. A deafening crack accompanied the flash that would have been audible from the camp had the forest not swallowed the noise. The streak of light left a faint pink after image that remained even as I closed my eyes.

While the camp couldn't hear my spell, the forest did. The sky became dark with creatures as birds and mammals alike burst from the trees seeking to escape the sudden disruption.

Once my vision cleared of the pink splotch, I looked at my target to see a faint scorching in the moss—two feet to the left of where I’d been aiming. Targeting an inanimate object with Lightning Bolt is tough. Aside from the rare Feralkin attacks and the recent ordeal at Edgewater, I’d never cast the spell against much besides rocks and trees, and I’d always just thought it was the nature of the spell. I hadn’t dwelled on it much at the time, but ever since Edgewater I’d noticed targeting the Forsaken forces had been much easier than targeting still targets. As if the spell had been designed to find them. Or could it be the nature of the Font? The effect was more pronounced on Forsaken than on Feralkin, but I can’t recall missing in any of my castings of Lightning Bolt of late.

Does this effect extend to men? Maybe Daulf would let me zap him. Maybe if I framed it as an educational exercise. After inspecting the target, I continued casting, with a short pause between each to check my aim. The subsequent Lightning Bolts were equally loud and inaccurate, but less dramatic, the animals already fled. After eight bolts I was tapped out. A solid improvement on my last benchmark of five from just a few months back. This was a significant gain in such a short time. It took me years to get to four and I just doubled it.

After each bolt, I felt the loss of Will as my mind began to lose its acuity. The process starts out slowly, and is hardly noticeable if you aren’t paying attention, but after the seventh casting your mind rapidly fogs to the point it is difficult to focus enough to cast the eighth. The ninth fell apart in my mind, like trying to tie the laces of a boot that are too short to meet, all the while wearing mittens.

The boulder was now covered in singed moss that had already begun to yellow where it hadn’t burned, and the air smelled fresh and clean, a smell that always lingered after accessing the Font of Lightning. After surveying the poorly grouped patches of dying moss, I walked over to my bag and drank my second potion of clarity of the day, gagging slightly at the taste. Without the fog of the hangover, the full flavor pallet really expressed itself.

Will recovers the fastest while sleeping, but if I refrain from mental exertion I can recover about a third to half of my capacity throughout the day. Recovery of Will occurs slowly throughout the day. An average day, light on mental activity, will recover a quarter of a caster’s Will, but a two hour long nap can do the same in a fraction of the time. A good night's sleep will usually grant a full recovery, barring any interruptions or nightmares. With that in mind, you can see how potions really sped up the whole process of benchmarking from a week to just over a day.

Returning to my position, I began casting Firebolt at the boulder. Unlike Lightning Bolt with its limp wristed pointing, Firebolt required a little more physicality with its casting. To begin, I pulled my arm back and away from my body as I sent a sliver of awareness into the Arcane Realm to stand before the Font of Fire. There, I crafted my Will into a knife with which I cut into the Font, carving open a hole with my mind, and allowing the fire to build in my palm. Once it had grown, I whipped my hand forward, as if throwing a stone, and disengaged my mind from the Font at the apex of my throw.

The ball of fire flew from my hand and crashed into the boulder, exploding in a flower of flame, and leaving a scorched black mark the size of my chest on the rock’s face. The spell was quiet until it reached its target, only emitting a faint flapping sound as I prepared to throw it. When it hit it made a faint thud followed by a loud whoosh as the flames expanded on impact. The smell of burning leaves filled the air as the moss smouldered.

With Firebolt I made it to nine "standard" castings before the tenth was more of a sad hiss than a satisfying thud-woooooosh. I could feel my Will waning as I tried to open the Font for the last spell, until I lost it and the hole in the Font snapped closed on me, shunting my mind out of the Realm painfully, sapping my remaining Will, and leaving me with a headache.

Where the lightning had lightly charred the mossy rock, the Firebolts scoured it clean, leaving behind blackened and bare stone.

With my Will gone, a headache started to set in.

This is different. Will drain doesn’t usually feel like this.

I drank my third potion of clarity for the day, and felt my focus return to me, and though the headache improved, it still lingered.

Weird, maybe this is a bad batch and this potion isn’t as strong?

By then, I’d only been at it for less than half an hour. I’d never cast so many spells in so short a time, my Will capacity never having been so large, and potions not being available.

Spellcasting is much more physically demanding than I realized.

I decided then to break for lunch. Lunch for the day consisted of six apples. Using you as a pillow, I laid down in the grass and watched the clouds as I ate. My lunch of apples was partially dictated by opportunity, not wanting to disturb the surveillance, I’d bought the first thing that caught my eye after setting up my minions. But I love apples. They are great, the perfect travel food. They don’t need to be cooked, they clean off easily if you drop them, and the juice clears out the taste of road dust.

I don’t know why I’m defending my lunch choices to you.

After lunch, I decided Blink would be the best spell to benchmark next. Using Lightning Bolt, I can calculate how many times I can cast other wizard spells. Sorcerous spells are more complicated. With Font affinities and the ability to vary a spell's power, you can never be confident in using one to predict another. So Blink needs a benchmark of its own, being from the Font of Space.

To benchmark Blink, a little extra prep work was required. I went to the edge of the clearing, stood with my back against a large tree, and paced through the clearing marking the distance. When I reached fifty paces, I was well into the woods on the opposite side. I marked a tree with an X and returned to my first tree.

Focusing on the X as my target, I sent my mind once more into the Arcane Realm, where I pierced the Font of Space, and channeled the power into the location my eyes had chosen. With a subtle pffft as the air moved to fill the area I’d left I disappeared, only to immediately appear before the X with a woosh as I displaced the air of my arrival. The transition was seamless from my perspective, and if I could cast the spell blindfolded, the sound of the air would be the only give away that I’d moved.

I Blinked back and forth between the two marked points four times, and on the fourth try I only made it a few feet short of the target. Blinked? Blunk? I really need to find a book on spell terminology, I don’t even know if Blink is the name of this type of spell. I’m realizing just how much of my training is words I made up myself. Every day reveals just how flimsy my disguise really is. If I ever get to talking about this with anyone who has more formal training, my charade will fall apart.

With that, my benchmarking for the day was complete. All I had left to test was Gale and Mage Armor, but both of those should be doable in town. I had one potion left, but that was to keep my head clear the rest of the day.

I hope that whatever allows me to remember these resets will allow me to retain any magical skill improvements. It takes months and years to progress in any meaningful manner.

Month. Years. Will I be here long enough to make a difference?

My mind dwelled on this as I walked through the clearing. The idea of spending years here would have brought me to tears a few todays back. It was still daunting, but now that the physical torment was gone, it scared me less.

Before leaving the clearing, I pulled my fourth and final potion of clarity from my bag and downed it in a single gulp. I was getting better at sending them straight back and avoiding as much of my tongue as I could, but the taste defied my efforts.

I took four steps into the woods before losing all feeling in my legs. Collapsing to the ground in a heap, I fell on my face and began vomiting uncontrollably. Before I started writing, that was all I remembered but now—thanks to you—I vividly remember having a seizure and soiling myself.

Thanks for that.

It was just past noon when this occurred. It's very late now, I think the reset is going to happen any minute and I'm writing this under a tree in the dark and covered in my own filth. In the last few weeks, blind writing has served me in ways I don’t think my father ever expected when he forced me to learn it.

My legs don't seem to work and casting spells causes excruciating pain. I tried casting Glow, but even attempting to enter the Arcane Realm caused a splitting headache and I couldn't focus enough to begin casting the cantrip. I never thought I'd be looking forward to the reset and waking up miserable in my bed.

I think, possibly, just maybe there may have been some side effects to those clarity potions that Levar failed to mention.

One positive thing came out of it, I learned that I don't actually need ink to write in you. I spilled my ink pot in the fall and when I tried to scratch letters into your paper, the letters appeared as if with ink. Silver linings I suppose.

Levar has some answering to do tomorrow. I might have to repeat my earlier dramatic entrance. Or maybe just burn Levar's shop down. Would that be wr◜

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Bio: Aim for perfection, but don't try too hard.

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