The next day, our wagon stops in front of the entrance of a forest. The path leading into the depth is small. The wagon barely able to fit in. I glance around the entrance.
“Well. That is one scary forest.”
The forest is silent. Occasionally crows caw and wolfs howl in the distance. The interior is dark as the sunlight is blocked by the thick leaves. The eerie feeling has stopped countless people from entering.
“Really. They just have to choose this kind of entrance. Hmm? Magic?”
Mary grumbles beside me. Alishia is clinging to Mary as she looks into the forest. Fear can be seen in her eyes. Mary seems to have notice something about the forest and pats her head to calm her.
“Is this really the entrance?”
I shout to Frank who is reading his map near the entrance. He pats a few big stones to find something. After a while, he finds it. He then looks intently at strange symbols engraved there and the map back and forth.
“Yes. This is certainly the entrance.”
Franks walks back to wagon while putting away the map into his bag. Yuni walks out of the wagon with a basket. She puts it down on the large stone nearby.
“Let’s eat first. It’s lunch time.”
We gather around the stone as Yuni pulls out the breads and vegetables. She makes sandwiches out of the simple ingredients. We eat our lunch slowly to enjoy the sunlight.
“The forest is so dark.” (Yuni)
“It’s scary.” (Alishia)
“Don’t worry. Harold told us about this path so it should be safe.” (Erwin)
Mary smiles meaningfully but she doesn’t say anything.
“It looks like it will rain in a while.” (Mary)
All of us simultaneously look up to the sky. Thick, dark clouds are slowly drifting over from afar. It has already started to rain heavily over there. Sometimes lightnings strike the ground.
“Wow. That’s one big storm.” (Yuni)
“It will be harder to continue our way if the storm reaches here. We may have to stay inside the forest without moving for a while.” (Frank)
“Let’s just go as far as we can before the storm arrives.” (Erwin)
We quickly pack up and go into the forest. The bumpy dirt road shakes the wagon from time to time. I give up sitting on the shaking wagon and jump down. I walk beside the wagon.
The others soon follow. They jump down from the wagon and walk instead. At this point, the forest has slowly turn less scary. Our visibility has turned better as sunlight pierces through the veil of leaves. The forest is also more spacious than before.
“As expected. It’s that magic.”
Mary sighs with a smile on her face. All of us turn to her. Yuni curiously asks her.
“Illusion magic with signs of mental type magic included into it."
This type of magic is the hardest to learn and can be easily broken. Thus only a few magicians bother to learn it.
The illusion magic around us is supported by the forest itself. The forest is still untouched by any kind of exploitation. The thick bushes, dead trees, thick canopy of leaves that block the sun thicken the mysterious and eerie feeling.
The mental magic induces the feeling of fear. Although it is only a slight feeling, people tend to follow it and will amplify it on their own when met with mystery and darkness.
“Then, that means the forest isn’t as scary as it looks?”
“Yes. As you can see, it isn’t that dark in here and it is also more spacious. There is less crow’s caws and wolf’s howls too.”
We look around and listen carefully. It is certainly less but there are still around. Occasionally we can hear birds chirping that we didn’t hear at the entrance. Mary continues.
“The illusion will slowly subsides as we have taken the first step of breaking it. As long as you didn’t believe it, the illusion will be gone. Come on. We have to continue to move.”
Half a day later, the dark clouds start to spread above our head. We decided to stop here for now.
“Mary, I will set up the perimeter wall. It’s hard to see far in a big storm.”
“Okay. We will set up the camp here.”
I walk out of the campground for about twenty meters. I then take out a long and thick metallic stick from the storage. The head is even thicker and looks like a mace head. I hold it over the ground.
Pressing a button at the other end of the stick, it extends out and stabbed into the ground. Soon more metallic sounds ring out. I shake the stick a few times to confirm that it is firmly locked to the ground.
Then I press another button near the head. It extends once again to the sky until it reaches 5 meters. It hums out strange buzzes.
I open the interface on the bracelet and set up the connection with it. Then I walk to three other place and set up the same sticks. Finishing up the set up, I activate the wall.
Two beams of light shots out of the stick’s head in front of me. Soon a light screen drops down from the beams to the ground. I touch the screen carefully and find it harden up on contact. After punching it, I confirm the wall is set up properly and return to the camp.
A while later I reach the camp. Mary has spread out a waterproof canopy above the wagon’s thick cover. At the same time, Frank is digging around the wagon to make a small ditch to direct the rainwater away from the wagon.
“Erwin. What is that light screen around us?”
Yuni comes over with Alishia. They stares at the light screens around us with interest.
“It’s a perimeter wall. It can defend against any attack with power less than an advanced magic.” (Erwin)
“I see. Why did you never take it out before?” (Yuni)
“It's because the power storage to maintain it is small. Even though it can automatically absord mana from its surroundings, the cosumption far exceeds the absorption capability.”
“Then why did you take it out now?”
“With the possible downpour later, it will be hard to see far. Using this is much safer.”
"Do we need to keep watch then?"
"Yes because it doesn't cover the top."
I point to the sky while smiling wryly. Suddenly a drop of rain falls on Alishia’s nose. She blinks her eyes a few times. Then a sudden downpour falls on us.
We quickly runs back to the wagon. Frank who is slightly away from the wagon comes back some time later, completely soaked. He throws his shovel into a box of tools before quickly climbing up the wagon. Yuni hands over a towel to him.
“Now we will get stuck here for a while. What should we do?” (Yuni)
“How about teaching Alishia about magic?” (Erwin)
“Sure. Alice, do you want to learn it?” (Mary)
“Then sit there. We can shoot our magic outside.”
I shift my seat to the middle so Alishia can sit at the back. Mary sits opposite of her. Yuni sits beside Mary to watch while Frank sits on the floor.
“Alright. What do you know about magic?”
“I can create something.”
“That’s one small way of magic. Any other?”
“I don’t know. No one has ever taught me.”
“Alright. Let’s start with the basics. Mana.”
Mana is the power hidden in everything. It is a really subtle type of power. Most people can’t feel it.
To be able to use magic is to be able to sense this power and control it. It can be sensed through the mind or the five senses. However it is a rare case for the five senses. However, even if you can sense it, it doesn’t mean you can control it.
Controlling mana has three necessary step. Gathering, managing and imaging.
Gathering refers to picking up and accumulating mana. Novice magicians can only gather them in one place while trained and advanced magicians can gather them in multiple places according to their will. This accumulated mana will then be managed.
Managing refers to dividing the types of accumulated mana. In this step magicians will choose what type of magic they will use. Water magic will use water mana, earth magic will use earth mana, and the same with the others. After being divided, the unneeded mana will be released.
Imaging is the last step. It is usually be referred to as chanting. While advanced magicians don’t need to chant, they still have to have a firm image of the magic to use it. Thus imaging is the most important step in using magic.
“What is firm image?” (Alishia)
“Hmm… For example, Alice want to use water ball magic. You will need to make those little things you sense into a ball shape, right? That’s imaging or the simpler word will be imagination.” (Mary)
“You already have a quite good imagination. You managed to freeze his leg when you first met him.”
Come to think of it. My leg did got frozen by the water ball she cast at that time. Hey. Water magic and Ice magic should be different right?
“Now then. Based on those three steps I mentioned, magicians can be ranked into four ranks.” (Mary)
First is the novice rank. All new magicians will be in this rank. They need the longest time to use one magic. They can only accumulate mana in one place.
Second is the trained rank. Magicians in this rank can use magic much faster due to their speed of accumulating mana. They can also accumulate mana in two or more places. The test to get into this rank are the speed of accumulating mana and their control over two or more places for it.
Third is the advanced rank. Magicians in this rank can use magic almost instantly. They don’t need to chant as their imaging is already firm enough. The test to get into this rank are no chant and their control over five or more places to accumulate mana.
The fourth rank is the highest rank. It is the Master Magician rank. Magicians in this rank can use multiple magic types almost instantly. This is because their control over imaging is so powerful that they can divide the mana into two or more types and use them simultaneously.
In the second step of managing they can use a part of the previously unneeded mana to cast another magic, thus reducing their burden of having to accumulate them again. The test to get into this rank is to simultaneously use two or more types of magic.
“The Master Magicians are really powerful. Imagine you have to face fire balls and water balls at the same time. One side you will be burned, the other will make you soaked.
Or you can also imagine them using wind blades to guide fire balls. Blades of blazing flame fly around to attack you. That’s the strength of a Master Magician.” (Mary)
Alishia’s eyes shine brightly. She is very excited, hearing about the Master Magicians. Mary keeps telling her about many tales of those magicians. I look over to Yuni and Frank.
Cough. They look like children right now. No different from Alishia.
Seriously… Even I am slightly excited after hearing the stories. Using fire ball and water ball is just so Alishia can imagine it. The tales of those magicians are more amazing that just those balls.
Ah. One of the magicians use the four basic elements simultaneously. That’s amazing in its own but he once cornered a high rank mature dragon and killed it by himself. A mature dragon is really hard to kill. Even the lowest rank mature dragon can decimate a platoon or two of modern troops if they fight head-on. (A/N: 1 platoon= 15-30 troops)
“Come on. Let’s have dinner. We will continue to the types of magic tomorrow morning.”
I glance at the bracelet and wake them up from their bedtime stories.
“Okay. Mary, tell us more about those masters later.” (Yuni)
“Yes! Yes! I want to hear it.” (Alishia)
“Bedtime stories then.” (Mary)
Mary smiles wryly at Yuni as she has suddenly acts like a child. Frank stares at her dumbfounded. I ask him.
“What’s the matter?”
“She looks like a child now.”
“You aren’t any better. The two of you looked like children just now.”
I take out some breads and a thermos while ignoring Frank. Mary quickly slices the breads and takes out some butter and jams from her storage. I pour some hot chocolate milk into cups. Yuni quickly snatches one cup up.
“Chocolate milk. I missed it.”
Yuni murmurs something while enjoying it. She has been strange lately. Even Frank can tell that she is somewhat different than when she was in the village.
In the end, we ignore it as she doesn’t want to tell us. We enjoy the dinner in bliss.