The Beginning After The End

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Chapter 37: In the Meantime

A dim ray of the rising sun managed to peek through a gap in the curtains right into my eyes waking me up rather pleasantly. These days, Elijah or Ellie usually wake me up so it’s been a while since I’ve gotten up before either of them.

Sylvie, she ended up sleeping for 4 days straight before waking up. She explained to me how changing her body like that takes quite a long time to recover from, and she wasn’t able to do it often.

It was only a little past dawn so the manor that was always bustling with maids and Ellie was still very peaceful except for the few cooks in the kitchen getting ready for the day. Not bothering to wash up, I made my way to the backyard where I felt fluctuations in the mana. As expected, my father was busy training, absorbing the S class beast core I retrieved from the dungeon.

Not wanting to disturb his training, I found a place to sit next to him and I began studying his aura. My father, Reynolds Leywin, ex party member of the Twin Horns, was stuck at a bottleneck, not able to overcome past the dark orange stage. I’ve spent a lot of time overlooking the mana circulation in my father’s body, as well as Elijah’s.

As expected, Elijah’s mana veins, the veins responsible for absorbing mana from the surrounding atmosphere, were incredibly wide. My father, on the other hand, as an Augmenter, had much more developed mana channels, the arteries that allowed diverse distribution of mana throughout the body.

“Ah you’re up early today Son. Why didn’t you say anything?” My father got up, wiping the sweat off of his face and neck with a towel he had on his lap.

“I didn’t want to disturb your training Dad. How are things going?” I get up too and start stretching.

“I just finished absorbing the rest of the beast core, but for some reason, the core didn’t crumble.” He hands back the S class core to me. After the purified mana stored inside the beast core is depleted, the beast core will crumble into fine dust.

Curious as well, I put it into my pocket to study later. After I got back, I’ve been training my father and Elijah whenever I can while I train by myself at night. Until now, my father has been busy absorbing the beast core but looking at his aura now, I could see a noticeable change.

Noticing my inquisitive look, he shoots me a smirk and tosses me his dirty towel. “Your father has now passed the dark orange stage into the solid orange stage.”

I laugh as my father starts flexing his muscles in demonstration of his accomplishments.

“Congrats Dad. Now that you’re at solid orange stage, I think it’ll be okay to teach you something I’ve been messing around with.” I hang the towel on a nearby chair.

Giving me a curious look, he beckons for me to continue.

Focusing a tiny bit of mana into the palm of my right hand, I will a small flame to ignite. “Here is the most basic flame attribute technique you learn, Ember.” I throw the small flame from my palm unto the towel that was hanging off the nearby metal chair.

As expected, the small flame, by the time it reached the towel, was so diluted that all it left was a tiny black soot mark in the middle of the white towel.

“If you’re talking about mana theory, it’s not anything new to me, Son. For Augmenters, since we produce mana from within our bodies, the farther the mana travels away from us, the more diluted and weaker it becomes.”

“I wasn’t trying to demonstrate mana theory. That’ll be for next time Dad.” I wag my finger at him, earning me a hard thump on my head for being a smartass.

Rubbing my head, I will another small portion of mana into the palm of my hand. I ignite another flame but whereas the first time the color of the flame was bright red, this time it was orange. “Now watch Dad.” I throw the small flame, that was the same size as the previous flame, at the towel again but this time, it burned a small hole through the towel.

My father didn’t show much of a reaction. “Didn’t you just add more mana unto the flame to make it stronger?”

Shaking my head, I explain. “If I added more mana, the flame would be bigger. Dad, did you notice the color of the flame?”

“Yeah, the color was a bit lighter, more orange.” He scratches his head, trying to piece this puzzle together.

“That’s the key! What I did just now was a technique that is considered a high level spell by Conjurers to use only.” I grew excited as I began explaining it to him.

“You see Dad, fire’s temperature, or more accurately, the rate of combustion depends on a mix of different things: the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, black-body radiation, the type of fuel being burned, the oxidation of the fuel and so on. The so-called ‘fuel’ being burned, in this case is fire attribute mana. What I discovered while playing around with it is how versatile this ‘fuel’ can be. That orange flame, Dad, was a flame much hotter than the previous one, making it even stronger.” I stop to take a breath.

My father gives me an expression as if I talked to him in Hebrew but he understood the last portion of my explanation. “So what you’re saying is that, by using the same amount of mana, I can produce an even hotter flame for my techniques?” He fiddles with his beard while pondering.

“Exactly! Watch, it can go even further.” I demonstrate again, this time producing a yellow flame, which left an even bigger hole in the towel, with the ridges still aflame.

I don’t stop there. The last demonstration takes a bit more time, as I have to manipulate very carefully the fire attribute mana in my palm. After a couple of minutes, I produce a dim blue flame, which makes my father’s eye go wide. Upon throwing the blue flame at the towel, the towel instantly combusts and the fire spreads rapidly, eating away at the towel until only ashes are left.

“Are you sure you’re my son?” My father gives me a suspicious eye before smiling. Smiling back, I say, “I must’ve gotten Mom’s brain right?”

Elijah walks in, his head a bird’s nest and glasses crooked, looking at me clinched in a headlock by my father who was squeezing hard at my nose while I tapped in resignation.

“What are you guys doing?…” is all he says while he rubs his eyes.

““Training.”” We say at the same time. My voice nasally from having my nose squeezed.

I give my father a few key pointers in controlling the structure of his flame attribute mana so he could produce higher-level flames. “Son, why did I have to become a solid orange stage in order to learn this though?” He says while seated in a mediation position. Changing the structure of the attribute mana is basically the essence of chanting a spell. Using vocal incantations can condition the brain to change the structure of the mana in the atmosphere to create a spell.

“The higher your mana core stage, not only do you have a larger pool of mana to draw out from, the mana itself becomes of higher quality so you can have more control over the miniscule properties of it.” I clarify, turning my focus unto Elijah.

Nodding in understanding, my father goes back to training, holding his right palm up and willing mana into it.

Elijah’s training was a bit slower. What I realized with Elijah is that his control over his main element, Earth, is unstable, metal even more. It’s not so much as a problem with mana manipulation of the earth attribute mana but more so the quantity. Elijah’s lack of control over the strength of his power made it so he couldn’t make precise and coordinated spells.

One thing that continues to baffle me about Elijah’s magic is how unfair it is. Earth is powerful, yet limited in the sense that Conjurers and Augmenters alike can only make do with the earth that is around them. Most of the time, that isn’t a problem, but it still gives a certain amount of predictability in the attacks that earth mages use.

Elijah, on the other hand, seems to have the ability to change the structure of molecules and change it into earth. The closest thing I could think of that may explain it is something akin to alchemy. Elijah, as an example, can summon earth spikes from trees and buildings made of wood. A limitation is that he isn’t able to conjure earth spells from water or thin air, but his capability to so easily change the structure of earth and its properties scare me.

When I think about the possibilities his power has, I think of the spell petrification. When normal Earth Conjurers use the petrification spell, it is actually just using the surrounding earth to form around a human, “petrifying” him. Elijah, on the other hand, if he became adept enough, could literally change a human into stone.

I shake my head to dismiss those scary thoughts. I’m just glad that Elijah is a friend, not a foe. Elijah’s practice consists of playing around with a small ball of earth. He is practicing doing different things with the small ball of earth: Rotating it really fast, changing the shape of it, expanding it, condensing it, splitting it into different pieces, etc. This way, he can train both his mana control and shortening his incantations by learning the so-called “theory” of how the spells work.

I go back into my room, leaving Elijah and my father to train. Looking at my bed, I see Sylvie still sleeping. The transformation still seems to have a small toll on her body. She either takes longer sleeps at times, or a separate nap. Fortunately, these periods of sleep have been getting shorter so I’m hopeful that in a few weeks, she’ll return to normal.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, I take a look at the S-class beast core, probing it with a string of mana. The mana inside has been depleted so I was curious as to why it didn’t dissolve but upon probing a bit deeper, I feel a sharp pain on my left arm that makes me drop the beast core.

“What the hell?” I rub the tattoo that I always covered underneath the feather of Sylvia. Carefully picking up the beast core again, I probe it once more, even more intrigued than before. Suddenly, inside the vast black space of the beast core that I was studying, the figure of the Elderwood Guardian that I almost lost my life to appears, bowing at me with its lance pointed directly upward.

“A beast will!” I tremble in excitement as I clutch harder at the invaluable prize I obtained from the dungeon. What would happen if I were to integrate with two beasts? Was that possible? Would I then have two? Or would this one replace my Dragon’s Will?

While I was thinking of these things, a sudden feeling interrupts me. It wasn’t as intimate as the mental transmissions I have with Sylvie but a primitive form of communication. Realizing that it’s from the will of the Elderwood Guardian, I will more mana into the beast core, hoping it’ll somehow allow me to have a better connection with it.

“I see…” I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed as I let go of the beast core. From what the Elderwood Guardian was trying to express, if I were to try and absorb this beast’s will, only the stronger of the two will end up being left. It made sense, but what I didn’t understand was, why wasn’t my father able to absorb the beast’s will?

I realized the answer almost immediately after remembering what Grandpa Virion, that crazy old elf, taught me a few years back. There was the matter of compatibility between the beast’s element and the mage’s element attribute.

I can’t help but let out a small smile knowing who to give this to.

‘Good morning Papa! Why are you smiling?’ Sylvie cuddles up on my lap and purrs when I pet her.

“I’m just thinking of how fun school is going to be.” I answer.

“BROTHER WAKE …oh!” My sister slams the door open but sees awake me petting Sylvie.

I walk up and also pat my sister’s small head. “Let’s go eat!”

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