Chapter 2: A Great Mage
Shadows danced across the pages of an old book, cast by the flickering flame of a single candle. On the pages of the book were a myriad of runic phrases written a language of this world. In front of the book I was kneeling, hidden deep within my father’s study, taking slow breaths and mentally preparing myself for what was to come.
I was four years old this year, and it was finally time to test my magical ability. Over the past three and a half years, I had been studying fervently on the magic of this world. Now that I knew where the study was, I made my way here every time my caretakers took their eyes off me. At first I made no progress, as everything was written in a language totally unknown to me. Over time however, I started to decrypt the books bit by bit. Eventually, I managed to read through one of the many books in the study on my own, and it just cascaded from there. 3 years. That is how long I had been waiting for this moment. Studying and preparing for the time I felt it was proper to become a great mage. It wouldn’t be proper for me to just jump into it obviously, so I took that time learning how the magic in this world worked.
Magic was divided into distinct stages of learning. Elementary, Intermediate, Advanced. These were the three levels that most mages would go through in their lifetime. You would be able to make a stable living as an Intermediate level magician, and an Advanced level magician would often be hired as an instructor for a magic academies or work as the Court Magician in the houses of lower nobility. Past these levels were the Saint rank, King rank, Emperor rank and God rank. It was much less likely to see these levels of magicians in the world, and a God ranked wizard had not appeared since the time of the heroes. Of course that would change with me. It was a given that I would have the talent to become a Hero.
Regardless, magical talent is measured in two ways. Mana pool, and casting efficiency. The mana pool is the amount of magical energy stored within an individual, and can be improved through constant training. Efficiency is the natural talent that a person has with any given system of magic. This can be trained as well, but there is a limit to how much one can go against talent.
Last, there are several systems of magic that one can have talent in. First, there are the Elemental Magics, fire, water, wind, earth and lightning. It was said that the [Elementalist] had reached the God rank in every system of elemental magic. Amazing. Other than that, there is Healing, Reinforcement, Barrier and Summoning Magic. Healing magic had long been within the domain of the Church, and all spells above the Advanced grade were kept by them. Reinforcement magic was used to strengthen equipment, and a talented blacksmith was said to be able to infuse attributes, or even stored spells within equipment. Summoning Magic was the ability to either imprint a mark on Magic Beasts and bind them to your service, or call manifestation of the elements to do battle for you. Last was Barrier magic. To be honest, not much was written on this magic, as it had fallen into disuse. Why practice a magic only suitable for defense when you could block an attack with an elemental shield and retaliate with the same power?
Regardless, the time was now. The book in front of me held the chants to the Elementary Grade spells of each of the elements, and my heart was ready.
“O’ Great Elements of Fire. Heed my call and come to my aid. Fire Bullet!”
As soon as the final word passed through my lips, I felt a previously unknown power swirl inside me. Like a vast ocean, the magical power contained within me felt like it was bursting at the seams to escape. Seemingly infinite, the energy found an exit and rushed through. Excitement bubbled over into my usually passive expression when I felt that vast energy racing through my veins toward my hand. I couldn’t wait!
God level Mage, here I come!
Just as the magic energy within me seemed ready to escape into the world around me however, it hit a wall. There was no way for the energy to pass through. Very rapidly, the energy backed up inside me and I started to feel an aching pain throughout my body. My breathing quickened and I could feel my chest tighten in panic. It hurt. Oh god it hurt.
In an instant, like an overfilled balloon, that barrier sprung a leak. With a rush, high pressure energy shot through the gap and finally left my body to manifest into the spell that I had cast. My excitement built up once more.
A tiny flame flickered to life in front of my palm before sputtering into non existence.
I fell to my hands and knees in disbelief. What the hell was that? Even now I could feel the immense pool of energy that was in my body. But what use was it when there was nowhere for it to go? Depression set in. 3 whole years of my life wasted in a single instant. I fell back and slumped against a bookcase, the candle casting a long shadow over my disbelief stricken face. Could it really be that I was destined to not be talented in magic? Then why would I have been summoned to this world?
After a moment however, I came back to myself. That’s right! Fire wasn’t the only element after all! Maybe I was just unlucky and chose an element that I didn’t have talent with to practice first! Actually, in hindsight, it might have been pretty lucky that I didn’t have some immense natural talent at fire magic. I had been caught up in the moment and didn’t really think about what would happen if a fireball shot off in a room filled with dry, old books. . . . Probably for the best.
That said, it was time for me to test myself in the other systems. There had to be an element that I was naturally gifted at! Let’s go!
o O o
I was on my hands and knees once again. In front of me were the products of my hard work. A wet spot on the floor. A single pebble. An unlit candle, snuffed by a single puff of air.
No talent. I had absolutely no talent at all. I was filled with a variety of emotions ranging from despair to disbelief, but the most prominent one of all had to be frustration. Why? Why couldn’t I even have an average level of talent? This was basically on the level of someone who couldn’t use magic at all! A second wet spot appeared next to the one left by my water spell. A was confused until I touched my cheek to find it damp. Tears were leaking from my eyes and streaming down my face. Damnit why!
I had spent 3 whole years getting my hopes up and preparing, only to have them dashed! If I wasn’t special, then for what purpose was I here? In my mind, that girl appeared. Whispering to me to save “them” whoever they were. How? How was I supposed to save anyone if I was just normal?
I let the despair sweep me up and consume me.
To be honest, this was a situation unlike any other I had faced. I had never been lacking for talent before. Even in my previous life, I had been pretty good at most anything I had tried to pick up. It was just lack of effort that made everything end up poorly.
Just like that, I sat there in the dark. There was some light in the parts of the study nearer the entrance, but I was deep within the bowels of the library. Here, I could faintly see through the dimness, but everything was unclear. For a long time I sat, wallowing in my own self pity. What a sight that would have been for my parents or nurses to see. A four year old questioning the worth of his own existence. Ha.
Slowly however, thoughts began to pass through my mind. Memories of a life past. A soccer ball easily dribbled between my feet as I danced through my opponents. Skipping practice to go play games at the arcade. Getting shut down and destroyed by more well practiced opponents. Quitting. Quitting because it was too hard. Quitting because it took too much effort.
Not this time. No. I wouldn’t let this despair get the best of me. So what if I didn’t have talent? For the first time in my life, I would let hard work be the reason for my success! I had started plenty young, so what reason was there for me to fall behind when compared with others my age? Even if I wasn’t as naturally good as they were, I would make up for it by putting in twice. . . no, three times the effort! My determination solidified, and my expression steeled into one of confidence and surety. I would not let a single roadblock stand in my way.
I remembered my parents. So forgiving of my attitude. Supporting a quitter all the time. Don’t worry, I’ll make my parents proud this time. I would give them a reason to support me. My hand clenched firmly into a fist when a calm voice called to me from the side.
“Why there you are Young Master. I expected I would find you here.”
I jerked my head up and looked panickedly to the side to find that it was Arthur standing there looking composed. I quickly released my fist and stood up, nodding in his direction.
“I apologize for making the caretakers worried again Arthur, I was just reading.”
For a moment, his lips twitched upward and mirth flashed across his eyes before settling once again into his usual demeanor. He placed his gloved hand upon his chest and bowed forward.
“No Young Master, my apologies. It was I who disturbed you. However, I came to fetch you on the orders of your father The Duke. It seems that your tutor has been waiting on your for a quarter hour now, and is starting to get upset.”
Oh no! The tutor! In a panic, I nodded once more to Arthur before taking off in a spring out of the study and down the hall toward the room designated for my lessons. Over my shoulder I called out.
“Thank you Arthur. Tell Father I’m sorry for me!”
A snort sounded out behind me, but I paid it no heed. As I left, the butler glanced to the book on the ground and then back at my retreating figure. A smile once again graced his lips as he watched me pass into the distance before he put the book back on the shelf and whispered to himself.
“Work hard, Young Master.”