Chapter 3: Head Start
ALICE LEYWIN’S POV:
Arthur has to be the most adorable baby, and I’m not saying this as a doting mother.
Him and his scruffy little patch of glowing auburn hair and playful eyes that almost radiate a blue light, while his gaze, at times, seem almost… intelligent.
No no, I told you, I’m not a doting mother. I plan to be a strict and just mother. I can’t rely on my husband to teach little Art any common sense. For God’s sake, he tried to teach my baby how to fight when he can now barely crawl.
I know this little rascal will turn out just like his father if I leave him be. As soon as he started crawling, I was so proud I was on the verge of shedding tears, but I didn’t know how much of a handful he’d be as soon as he became mobile.
I swear, there’s not a single moment where I can take my eyes off of him before he crawls into the study room. How weird. We made sure to buy him lots of stuffed animals and wooden toys to play with but he always ends up going back to study room. THAT, at least was directly opposite of his father, seeing how Reynolds almost gravitates away from texts longer than the weekly newspaper.
Looking at how excited he gets when we go out to town, I’ve decided to go shopping for food once every other day instead of twice a week.
No no, I told you, I’m not a doting mother. This is for his education of the outside world and for fresh food in the house. Yeah haha…that’s it.
My son seems to be interested in a lot of things. I can’t get enough of his head that seems so disproportional to his little body turning left and right, trying to take in everything around him. He seems particularly intrigued by his father’s practices.
Reynolds was a pretty competent adventurer back in the days. Being a B class at the age of 28 is actually pretty fast. Becoming even an E class, the lowest rank, required taking a test so we don’t send eager but ignorant adolescents to their deaths. As for the higher ranks, I’ve only seen a couple of A class adventurers in my years of working there and I’ve yet to see a S class adventurer, assuming that they actually exist.
Working at the Adventurer Guild, or what we just called Guild Hall, back then in Valden, I got to see too many eager teens. I swear, I was surprised they didn’t float off from their ego inflating their heads.
At least they were ambitious.
One time, I was assigned to proctor a basic practical exam where the examinee just had to demonstrate fundamental competency in their mana manipulation, but before even the test began, the kid crashed straight on his back because the sword he was carrying was too heavy for him.
Talking about airheads, Reynolds back then sure came off as one. The moment he saw me in the Guild Hall, his jaw literally dropped and he just stood there until the guy behind him in line elbowed him to hurry up. He wiped his drool and managed to mumble a “… h.. hi… can I trade in th…the stuff for the mission?” I just giggled as he turned beet red from embarrassment.
He managed to gather up the courage to ask me out for dinner and we just hit it off from there. Even now, I can’t help but smile when I see his droopy blue puppy eyes looking at me.
Art somehow wound up with both our redeeming traits, making him that much more adorable. You should see him when I have to change his diapers. I don’t know why, but he starts turning red in his cheeks and he covers his face with his tiny little fingers.
Can babies his age even get embarrassed?
The next landmark that made it to my baby journal, which is purely for educational purposes by the way and not because I am a doting mother, was when he first said mama.
HE SAID MAMA!
I told him to say “mama” again and again just to make sure I didn’t hear wrong. Reynolds sulked for the day because Art said “mama” before “dada.”
Haha, I won!
The rest of the year went by pleasantly with my son sticking by me wherever I went and oftentimes looking out the window to see his father practice after dinner. I’m glad Reynolds gave up being an adventurer and took a post as a guard nearby for our town. Being an adventurer may bring more money but not knowing when or rather if my husband comes home is not worth any amount of extra money.
To our relief, Little Art never got sick, but oftentimes, I would find him sitting still on his butt while closing his eyes. At first, I thought he was having trouble relieving himself but after checking the first couple of times, that didn’t seem to be the case.
How strange, I didn’t know how to really make it out. I thought babies his age were supposed to be energetic but after his episodes of escaping to the study room, he seems spend a lot of time sitting still, almost meditating.
I was worried at first but although it happens a couple times a day, it only lasts for a couple of minutes and Art seems strangely happy afterwards. The way he holds his arms up and looks up at me makes me just want to gobble him up.
*Ahem* Not a doting mother.
ARTHUR LEYWIN’S POV:
About two years has passed since I made my difficult journey to the study room.
Since then, I’ve been constantly trying to gather the little bits of mana spread out in my body and focus it to try and form a mana core. Let me tell you, it is a slow and arduous task. I would find myself having an easier time trying to learn how to walk on my hands and eat with my feet in this damnable body than trying to will my mana together.
I can see why the book says that it’ll take until at least the adolescent age for a person to ‘awaken.’ If I let the mana particles in my body move by themselves, it’ll take at least a decade for them to gravitate towards each other to form anything remotely close to a mana core.
Instead… A perk in having the mental capacity of an adult means I have the cognitive ability to consciously will my mana particles together. This was something I did as a child in my past life, where they teach you from youth in schools to learn how to control ki. Essentially, it’s being able to sense the ki, or mana now, in your own body and force them together near the solar plexus. If left alone, the particles will eventually slowly float towards each other anyway, but I’m just grabbing the feathers and shoving it down to the ground instead of waiting for them to float down by themselves, figuratively speaking of course.
Daily rituals consisted of trying to spend as much of my limited energy into gathering my mana while avoiding suspicion from my mother and father. My father seemed to think that throwing a child into the air would be quite enjoyable. While I understand there is a kind of adrenaline effect that may excite some people, when mana is used to reinforce his arms, and I am thrown into the air like a high-speed projectile, the only feeling I get is nausea and a traumatic fear of heights.
Fortunately, my mother has a pretty firm handle on my father, but my mother scares me as well sometimes. I oftentimes catch her staring at me, half drooling, looking at me like I’m some kind of premium meat.
I tried to adapt myself to my body by only talking in very simple sentences. After I first said “mama” to let her know I wanted more food, she almost burst into tears of joy. It’s been a long time since I received this sort of motherly affection. Since then, I limited myself to just trying to talk enough to get the point across, no grammar necessary.
Besides that, the pace of my training was strenuous and slow, but I was getting a pretty big head start from everybody so I wasn’t complaining.
I was in the middle of gathering the mana particles. These past two years, have not gone to waste for I finally gathered all of my mana into my solar plexus and was in the middle of condensing it into a mana core when… BOOM!