Episode 53 – Reflection Barrier
Elaru leaves Kiel to attend to her own matters. Kiel spends the time studying in the public library. Meanwhile, Venric Rroda is furious at his subordinate’s inability of catching Kiel and Elaru. He orders more men to mobilize and use trackogs to help them in their search.
Kiel spent several hours in the public library waiting for Elaru. By the time she appeared, it was already the closing time of the library. Before leaving, Kiel bought several books on spell replicating.
Public libraries all over Halnea also served as bookshops. For a certain fee, one could come in and read the books, but couldn’t take the books out of the library unless they bought them.
The stories say that it was Alann Farhice who first came up with the idea of a public library. It is said that in his youth, Alann used to work in an old bookshop and that there were always people who came to read, not buying anything or buying a single book, just to avoid being thrown out.
So Alann figured: if you are going to read anyway, I might as well make it easier for everyone and earn an extra profit.
And thus, the first public library was established.
Needless to say, it had been flourishing ever since.
Besides revising his knowledge on magic theory, Kiel had also inquired about books on Aetherneal gifts and divine magic.
He didn’t have high hopes, so he wasn’t too disappointed that the closest thing to divine magic he could find was a compendium of known divine artifacts.
When he had asked the librarian about the subject, the librarian pointed out several larger books on various magic-related subjects that dedicated a page or two on the matter of Aetherneal magic – all of which he had previously read in his school studies.
One would be hard pressed to find a Halnean who hasn’t previously heard about gods and Aetherneal magic. Both played a large role in the history of Halnea and still held an important role in culture and religion. Children came in contact with “the divine” from an early age through fairy tales, legends, and myths.
However, beyond the stories passed through word of mouth, there was nothing.
Most of the heritage accumulated through tens of thousands of years was lost in the Great Mage Wars, either completely destroyed or buried in the layers of rubble in the depths of the forbidden zone.
Not only did the authoritative information on the matter disappear, but even the gods had followed suit, not showing themselves to mortals ever since.
Most people attributed the lack of information to the results of the Mage Wars.
But not Kiel.
Something so important couldn’t just disappear. Even if all the books were lost, people still lived. And they would pass on their knowledge to their descendants.
That knowledge couldn’t disappear unless someone made it disappear.
And even if the knowledge disappeared, how is it that in the past millennia, no one researched Aetherneal magic?
Surely, there were plenty of people to research it. Without a doubt, every noble family had their people research their Aetherneal heirlooms and inherited Aetherneal gifts.
The research was there. But the results were never made public.
Perhaps only the elite were allowed to know the truth.
Therefore, he had to become one of them.
All roads led to Muni.
After picking Kiel up, Elaru told him that things were getting a bit complicated. She had noticed many different batches of men in Rroda uniforms, patrolling the city with trackogs in tow.
Even though she wasn’t with him, her Aethernea of Sight could cover a wide range so she had still kept a close watch on his surroundings. In the case of trouble, she would have warned him telepathically.
Luckily, he spent his day inside the library and didn’t roam the streets. It made it difficult for them to find his scent. Still, it was only a matter of time, unless they took preventive measures.
Both of them had to conceal their presence and closely control every drop of their mana so they wouldn’t leave a mana trail behind them that the trackogs could follow.
They flew up in the air, and Elaru latched on to Kiel’s arm once again. He didn’t show any signs of resistance this time. For some reason, she always latched onto him when she needed to cover them with a light bending barrier.
Her precautions didn’t end with Invisibility. Even if they didn’t leave a mana trail, they would still leave their scent. If they couldn’t conceal it, their whereabouts would be found out during the night.
Luckily, Elaru was well versed in concealment.
She weaved a peculiar augmentation spell similar in appearance to Acceleration, using her own body as the anchor point of the spell. Then she branched out the roots of the spell to create a thin, spherical web of roots around them.
This method of targeting was the difference between barrier spells and normal sustained spells. Barrier spells targeted a region of space instead of concrete objects. Usually, a mage would create a wall or a veil made out of spell roots. To make the spell move with the caster, the core of the spell would be placed on the body of the caster, effectively anchoring it there.
Any sustained spell could be used in such a way to turn it into a barrier spell.
The spell Elaru had enshrouded them with was actually named Reflection. It was derived from Acceleration, altered to change the velocity of particles that entered its area of effect in such a way to push them out of it.
The area of effect was exactly the thin layer of the barrier, which meant that any particle that touched the barrier would be repelled back.
Reflection belonged in the category of protection spells, and most argel mages knew of it. However, most argel overlooked the spell, very rarely using it.
On first thought, one would think that the spell could be used as a great protective spell, repelling attacks of other mages.
One would be both right and wrong.
Faster the object moved, harder it would be to repel it. Heavier the object, harder it would be to repel it. If an object was coated with foreign mana denser than the Reflection spell, the spell couldn’t reflect it.
And worst of all, if the object were already under the effect of someone else’s Acceleration based spell, the two spells would cause interference with one another. After all, both are trying to alter the velocity of the same object.
In such a scenario, the spell that was already on the object before it entered the area of effect of the Reflection would have priority. Reflection barrier would be able to win over the other spell only if its level was considerably higher than the spell on the incoming object.
Because of all these limitations and drawbacks, most mages couldn’t make good use of the Reflection spell, making it useless in their hands.
Kiel too had rarely used it in the past. He simply didn’t have enough mana to support its usage.
When Elaru had used the spell, he was both surprised and confused. He was confused as to why she would cast the spell. Until she revealed the hidden effect of Reflection, which was not written in any of the textbooks he had read before.
Particles inside of the barrier would also be repelled upon touching it, not letting any of the particles from inside to leave the confines of the sphere.
And what is “the scent”? The scent was created by residue particles that drifted through the air, reaching the nose!
If Reflection prevented particles from leaving, that would mean that it would prevent their scent from spreading!
Kiel sharply inhaled when he realized that a spell everyone overlooked could be used in such a way.
Such was the nature of magic. The magic was the tool, and how and for what purpose it was used depended on the user.
After his initial confusion had been resolved, all that was left was the surprise: Elaru, as an elibu, couldn’t cast augmentation magic before the Aetherneal bond, yet she seemed to be quite familiar with it. It looked as if she was just as familiar with augmentation magic as she was with transmutation magic.
Not only did she proceed to use advanced flying magic only hours after they became soulbound, but her casting of Reflection also seemed natural, even knowing the hidden effects as if she had used it a thousand times before.
When he asked her about it, her response was:
“Papa passed on to me a mana purifying artifact when I was little, so I have never actually been just a transmutation magic user. Papa thought me all three types of magic equally in preparation for the future. That’s why my understanding of magic is quite complete.
I also have a very good memory, so I always remembered the unfamiliar magic other people used and recreated it later on. So even if papa didn’t insist on teaching me all three types of magic, it wouldn’t have changed anything.”
Kiel almost gaped at that response but restrained himself at the last second. “Didn’t you put on a longing face and tell me that you’ve always wanted to fly? If you had such an artifact, wouldn’t you already be able to fly?!”
Elaru shrugged. “I didn’t lie. After I had perfected my usage of acceleration magic, Papa didn’t let me continue using it. Being able to fly and then suddenly becoming unable to fly is even worse than not being able to fly in the first place.”
She sighed sadly as if recalling a painful past. “He said it would be better for my future development if I could be fast even without usage of acceleration magic.”
No wonder. Kiel almost facepalmed himself. No wonder she used it all so naturally. As if the distinction between transmutation and augmentation didn’t matter at all.
Kiel let out a long breath. “Do you intend to use that artifact as an explanation for why you can use pure mana?”
Elaru shook her head. “Can’t. I don’t have it anymore.”
“Oh, did your father take it away?” Kiel’s raised his eyebrow questioningly. Elaru replied nonchalantly: “No. I lost it in a bet.”
Hearing that, Kiel stumbled in his step, looking at Elaru as if she grew two heads. “Who in their right mind would stake a divine artifact in a bet?!?”
Elaru shrugged. “It was an important bet.”
Seeing her nonchalant behavior, as if she was talking about the weather, Kiel’s eyebrow started twitching violently. “You don’t even seem sad about your loss. Wasn’t your father mad about it?”
Elaru looked at him for a few seconds in confusion. “Why would he be mad? Loss? What loss? I was actually the winner of the bet.”
Kiel covered his face with his hand. He didn’t know how to proceed with this conversation. It was like he was trying to communicate with an alien. Everything was upside down.
Thus, the two ventured to the outskirts of Ashar and spent the night camping in the woods.
* * *
After a while of waiting, the door to the room 307 finally opened revealing a tall elibu with bluish gray hair tied behind his head. Kiel’s examiners were still Rau Eryey and Kady Ailert.
Kiel walked in, followed by the swarm of groupies. Ever since he appeared in front of his designated classroom to take the exams, he had been assaulted by both males and females, trying to get in his good graces. They had asked him how he managed to achieve such a good score, what his name was, and all kinds of other questions. Some of them even introduced themselves.
Although annoyed, Kiel remained perfectly polite, showing the flawless bearing of a noble. However, his patience was running very thin. Inwardly, he was already swearing and snarling.
If I was mediocre looking and my score wasn’t so high, would you have taken a second look at me?
Opportunistic. Feeble. Selfish. Shallow.
That was the inner nature of people.
When everyone settled down inside the classroom, Rau Eryey motioned his white, slim hand towards a large glass apparatus in the middle of the room. “Today’s first exam will test your spell control.”
I will be writing an Aethernea side story about AlannFarhice in the future, simply because Alann’s story is simply too funny to not be told. He is nothing like the books portray him. ;)
In fact, Alann was one of those freeloaders who went around bookshops, reading stuff without buying anything. It was after he got blacklisted by all bookshops in the city that he found a way to get back at them by stealing their business. But that is a story for another time. :D
Aethernea patrons will be the first one to lay their eyes on Alann’s story, several chapters of which will be given to them as a support reward for October. When (and if) it will be available for non-patrons to read is currently unknown.
Coming up in the next episode:
When the words left Kady’s mouth several gasps could be heard.
It is said that the gods were flawless entities, the embodiments of a perfect balance of opposing elements.
That statement only made the elibu smile even wider while the faces of argel turned unsightly. You call that a fair treatment?!