Chapter 8: It Pays to Know the Local Culture to Get the Most Out of Your Vacation
From what I understand, it’s been centuries since the true stars in the sky have been blotted out and what I’m looking at in the sky are imitations.
Every once in a while, on the scale of tens of years, these fake stars seem to melt and fall in torrents of light, streaming across the sky. Where they fall to, nobody knows.
“The ends of the earth, maybe.”
Was the only reply I got.
Anyway, when the stars fall, they release unimaginable amounts of magic called Mana. When this happens the ground shakes, strong monsters are born, new sources of mana are found, and old things from ages ago are brought to the surface.
It’s not unheard of for strange things to happen at that time.
I wonder if world-hopping is considered one of those “strange things that happen.” I decide to avoid asking.
“I see, so she suddenly received a lot of magic power despite not knowing anything in the Star Fall a few days ago.”
Lor is convinced and has taken it upon himself to be my magic instructor. Despite feeling a bit annoyed at his high-handed attitude, I welcome it. I’d like to make it to the first town without self-destructing due to magic.
He starts with the theoretical explanation of mana.
The magic called “mana” is apparently in everything. For living things it’s produced within – where and how are still trying to be determined by mages today.
Mana sustains the body through the blood or life waters; apparently it gives the blood potency for life. Mana is constantly being used and being replenished just through everyday living. But most beings produce more mana than they need to replenish. Most living beings can store amounts of excess mana, though the capacity for every being and every person is unique.
That excess mana is called Magic Power. For the record, Magic Power cannot be reabsorbed to become mana again. The living simply cannot absorb mana from any external sources. Once you exceed the capacity to store Magic Power, the magic is harmlessly released from the body as an aura. Non-living things absorb that mana, depending on their chemical composition.
For sentient creatures, Magic Power is a source of power that can be drawn upon and controlled.
The danger of running out of MP, Magic Power, lies there. Even though Magic Power cannot become life-sustaining mana, mana can become Magic Power. If you use up Magic Power, the excess mana, you’ll start drawing on the vital mana in your blood, and that’s when bad things start happening.
Like organ failure.
By the way, I asked about the average person’s MP capacity and
“If you train all your life you can get to 500,000, probably.”
Was Lor’s reply.
… I won’t say it. I definitely won’t tell anyone about my MP.
“Well, normally you can’t ‘just use’ Magic Power as easily as you seem to. It’s usually the opposite, where you have to train hard to gain the ability to manipulate your MP. It takes a lot of mental focus and visualization. Chanting is one way of helping you visualize your magic and helps most magic users to get the results they want. Well, that’s the theory behind it. As time has passed and we’ve developed chanting techniques, nowadays you can say chants activate your magic.”
Hm, so chanting is more like a meditation tool, but through ages of development they’ve become trigger words? As Lor explains he rummages one-handedly through a rather sorry looking pack. With all that pack’s been through it’s impressive it’s still in one piece. He pulls out a piece of paper.
“… well, I guess the most important thing is to help you control your Magic Power. This is usually used to help someone START using their magic, but we can use it a different way for your training.”
Usually the trainee channels magic from their Magic Power into the paper. As you channel the magic the paper will turn from purple to blue to green. Purple means there’s barely any magic while green is the amount typically needed to cast basic spells. Blue is just an intermediate, it seems. By the way, the paper doesn’t absorb any magic so slowly pouring Magic Power in won’t add up to green.
Anyway that’s not how I’m going to use it.
“Heheh, this is my own method I came up with. See how long you can hold it at green. Then try to reduce it and hold it at blue.”
So it’s a training to regulate how much Magic Power I’m using. Nice idea, Lor.
I reach out my hand to take the paper from Lor. It immediately turns yellow.
I don’t know what yellow means.
Lor’s staring at me, dumbfounded.
“… try putting more Magic Power in.”
I don’t really know how, but I imagine … something … going through my hand into the paper. It turns bright red.
Lor says nothing, does nothing, for a few seconds before he turns and pinches the bridge of his nose with his good hand. He finally says, in a defeated tone,
“… it doesn’t go past red.”
I look at my Status screen that I’ve been keeping up all this time to keep an eye on my MP. It was at 364 MP, after 3 hours from when it was 50MP, and now it’s going down fast. I immediately stop doing what I was doing, the paper turns yellow again, and I’m left with 76 MP.
That was 288MP in about 5 seconds.
“… I’m almost out of Magic Power again.”
“Yeah, I’m not surprised. After green, it goes yellow, orange, then red. You completely blew past a stage, and I’m betting you’re actually past the degree the paper can measure.”
Lor’s lost his awe-stricken voice and now just sounds really tired, and kind of irritated. Apparently the red means you can use the higher-end apprenticeship spells. Naturally there’s levels past that. So this is a paper used for mage apprentices.
Lor sighs heavily and says,
“Ok, so it looks like the problem isn’t only control, you’re also constantly “using” Magic Power. Actually, with this kind of situation you can’t call it ‘using Magic Power’ anymore. More like Magic Power is constantly leaking out of you. I guess the first order of business is teaching you how NOT to use magic, but …”
He scratches his head with a frown. It doesn’t seem like this is something he’s used to teaching someone.
Well of course, most of the time people can’t let magic out.
I think I really SHOULD learn to stop this ‘MP leakage’. It’s like I have a giant sign over my head saying, “Look at me, I’m SPECIAL!”
… Hang on a moment. So I’ve still been regenerating MP while I’ve been constantly using it?
Magic Power control training is put on hold until my MP regenerates. It’s unfortunate, but it was nice timing at least. Niera just called us to come eat.
I’m a little hesitant about eating, since I’m not really part of the caravan and they just had half their supplies annihilated, but Niera and the little girl, Lyla, urge me to come sit with them.
I glance at the two I think would protest, the militia leader Jericho and the merchant leader Kali, but neither of them show even the slightest sign of caring. I guess they’re more worried about me being trouble than about the supplies.
“So, missy, where ya from? I don’t recognize the language yer usin.’
A slightly round man with a moustache, who’s just beginning to bald, waves me over. I think he’s one of Kali’s workers. Feron, no, Louie? His arm’s in a sling, but it seems he can still use it.
By the way, I am speaking in Japanese. The only reason they can understand me is because I properly have the (Translate) passive. Since no one seems too concerned, this situation might be common.
“I’m from an island country, I guess it’s far from here” – reeeally far – “and my companions had just invited me to join them on an adventure when we were suddenly separated.”
I had been thinking of my response since a while ago, since it was just a matter of time before I was asked the details.
“You’re really lightly equipped to go adventuring. Don’t tell me your companions had ulterior motives.”
Niera frowned, though her quirked eyebrows lessened the scowl.
Huh? Ulterior motives? For what? I tilted my head.
“Dressing a young girl in such fancy-looking clothes and those long impractical boots to go on a journey…”
Nonono. In the first place, I’m a boy. Was. Was a boy. And even if I wasn’t, what’s with Niera jumping to THAT conclusion so fast?
Well, to protect Masaki and Seimei’s dignity …
“Ah, no, I was going to be dressed as a man. We were just discussing equipment when I ended up here without anything else. But putting that aside, was there something you guys were carrying that made the bandits attack you? They seemed pretty determined for just trying to rob a caravan.”
I quickly change the subject.
Everyone’s face sours.
Eh? Did I just step on a landmine?
“It’s those damn Nobles. Usin’ us in the middle of their stupid power plays.”
Kali’s other assistant, Feron, has bandages all over. He wasn’t walking much, so I think his legs or hips were hurt badly. His face is the darkest of all the others’ as he spits out those words.
“… I see. So the Noble-samas of this country terrorize others.”
I say that, convinced, but everyone else murmurs sounds that sound like disagreements.
“You must be from pretty far away. There’s no Nobles in this country, because this isn’t a country.”
Niera says that kind of proudly.
“Hmph, who would want to be living underneath those scoundrels, always fighting and getting us Unaffiliateds involved just because the treaty doesn’t let them fight each other in Unaffiliated territory.”
Feron mutters while drinking something that smells of alcohol. I vaguely recall drinking to be bad when you’re bleeding and injured, but since I can’t remember the exact reason why I let the scowling man be. I think he’s the kind of person who would only get angry it I tried to separate him from his alcohol after a stressful day.
Anyway, there’s something to be said about recovering your nerves after a day like today.
“Always tryin’ to make Unaffiliateds work for ‘em like slaves, looking down on us, dammit. This time too has to be something…”
Kali snorts at that and says bitterly,
“Not ‘something’, there’s only one thing they could be after, either for stealing or keeping them from reaching market. Our main trade, Mana Pots.”
The long and short of it is, there are many countries in this world. They’re all fighting each other, claiming lands and resources or just trying to sabotage the other countries. Noble-samas are of course those with high standings in their own country, but also those who have strong hands in developing magic – magic medicines, magic spells, magic weapons … those types of things.
They won’t hesitate to fight a Noble-sama from another country. Defeating a Noble-sama from another country is the greatest feat that they can perform, short of annihilating the other country’s capital.
Your abilities with magic are everything.
That’s this world’s common sense. Developing magic, Labyrinth diving for potent magical artifacts, scouring ruins for lost technologies, Noble-samas will do anything to further the amount of magical power attached to their name. Including recruiting people with strong magics and Magic Power.
And … “recruiting” people with strong magics and Magic Power.
“Well, that’s why we thought you were working for a Noble. Usually if they found someone strong, with talent, they won’t let them be. You’ll be kidnapped if they can catch you unawares, or somehow forced to work for them some other way.”
“I’m relieved my situation is like this instead, then. … but I wonder if my companions are ok?”
I mutter my thoughts out loud.
“Are they that strong?”
Niera asked that, her eyebrows quirking even more than usual.
I thought about it. If they’re the way they are in the game …
“… much more so than me.”
Everyone looks dumbfounded, and silence reigns.
I silently pray that Masaki and Seimei won’t be forced into anything ugly.
Well my worry might be for nothing. I don’t even know if they’re here.