<A/N: I wasn’t going to have a disclaimer about the romance, but then I thought about how it sucks to invest in a story and get to the romance bit, only to go, “Well, this isn’t what I signed up for.”
So Disclaimer: Jun being Jun, forget about which gender, I don’t even know if we’ll get to a point where I can say, “that person’s the main love interest.” At any rate, it’s something I don’t want to force and just let happen naturally. But, as the author I like tormenting Jun giving Jun interesting situations to work through so I will be planting lots of flags in both gender pools.
… It was only just recently that I realized, “Hang on, doesn’t that make Jun a harem protagonist?” orz >
Chapter 9: There’s Always a Lot of Things to Get Used to When You Move to a City
“No, people can’t absorb magic power. Medicine that adds mana to the body would be useless. Mana Pots increase your ability to replenish your mana for a short time. They’re very expensive.”
So it’s not the game-like MP pots in MMOs, where it heals a portion of mana. It’s the type that speeds up out-of-combat regeneration. I wonder what’s in Mana Pots, but since I think the answer will be “magic”, I don’t ask.
Wait, I think Lor already told me that we can’t absorb mana from other things. I’ve been thinking of this in game terms. I’m ashamed.
“Since the areas around old ruins and Labyrinths are considered Unaffiliated territory and Noble-samas can’t fight each other there, they’re reduced to petty tricks like erasing the supply of Mana Pots, or attacking supply convoys. Usually by bribing or hiring Unaffiliateds so they can say ‘We don’t have our hands in it.’ And that’s why Noble-samas hire Unaffiliateds to run Mana Pots and supplies, so their personal losses will be reduced.”
“Not like we have much of a say. We Unaffiliated are only living by the good graces of the esteemed Noble-samas and their countries, otherwise we’d be caught in a tug-of-war of invasions.”
Niera’s voice drips in sarcasm and she raises her hands, palms up, exaggeratedly.
Kali sighs, as if she’s worn out. Well, after today, she has to be worn out. And who knows how many similar attacks have happened throughout her merchant career.
“Well, we can’t stop running Mana Pots no matter what happens. There are too many people whose lives depend on them.”
Kali says this with some determination, then falls silent staring grimly at her meal.
Hm? Ah, the adventurers in a labyrinth need those MP pots, huh? But is it really worth risking your life …? Just when I’m considering asking that, though it’s a bit boorish in this type of atmosphere…
“Yes, over the last few decades there have been more and more people afflicted with mana deficiency.”
Was what Old Man Harulf said.
In extreme cases there are people who can’t produce enough mana for living, but apparently not being able to produce more mana than your body absolutely needs, aka Magic Power, is inconvenient enough to reduce people to starving on the streets.
People who can’t produce Magic Power are discriminated against, and many leave their countries and become Unaffiliateds. Well, there are apparently a lot of people who hate their country who become Unaffiliateds too. And people who love adventure, the so-called free spirit type.
“That’s why we need to develop better methods for making medicine. These Mana Pots are too inefficient – 50,000 ecrue for 12 ly is too much. No one but the rich can afford them, but if you’re rich you wouldn’t have mana deficiency. Like this, Mana Pots only serve as insurances to the rich, expanding the differences between those who have everything and those who have nothing.”
Lor spoke up suddenly, as if he was preaching. I don’t miss Niera’s eye-roll that seems to say, “Here we go again.”
By the way, the meaning for the currency and units were transmitted clearly through [Translate]. “Ecrue” meant “round silver”, probably a type of currency’s name, and is equivalent to about 1.2 Japanese yen (around $.01). A “ly” was … roughly a milliliter. … Eh? 60k yen ($500-ish) for barely a mouthful of medicine?!
That’s too high, too high! That’s at the amount where it could be about a month’s rent!
“Um… h-how many bottles were destroyed?”
I couldn’t help but ask. It’s the penny-pincher’s habit I got from living with my grandfather spending all the extra money on his forge.
Louie smiled and pointed. Eh? Despite the wagon’s condition being … not a wagon anymore, the crates of Mana Pots were in pristine condition.
“With that price, an extra coupla thousand ecrue is nothing to put the best Protection Magic on those shipments.”
The wagons were too big to be a financial risk. If they’re destroyed they could easily buy another for the price it would take to put the Protection Magic on.
“Well, we had basic Protection Magic on the wagons, but …”
Louie shrugged and left off the end of the sentence.
But the crossbow bolts’ magic was stronger, huh?
“… but just think, if we could reduce the price, the difference between people who can use magic and the people who can’t will disappear! Maybe we can even make weapons that people without Magic Power can use for their defense! By making it so not having Magic Power means nothing, wouldn’t that throw the warring over which country has the most magical offenses out the window? It would put a stop to these wars …”
“… Jeez, Lor, save the fantasy talk for a fantasy world!”
Niera and Lor have been arguing in the background. I have to try very hard not to say anything to Niera’s statement. This IS a fantasy world, y’know? But I understand her. Save the sleep-talking for your dreams, such an idealistic way of thinking … that belief of Lor’s would never happen.
“Even in a world without magic, where everyone has the physical ability to use all the weapons equally, it’s not like that fact alone will put a stop to wars. Because people are people, if there’s no reason for discrimination they’ll make one. If there’s not a reason for there to be equal distribution of weapons, they’ll make one. If there’s no reason to use weapons, they’ll make one. And they’ll easily use those reasons to wage wars of all sorts of forms. That’s just how people are.”
Not just physical wars, social wars, political wars, and internet wars … people like drawing up their own factions and fighting other factions. What I’m saying is the truth; because I come from such a world, see. Of course I don’t say that.
Despite not saying it, my words seem to hold weight as being “truth”. Though actually, I read it somewhere on the internet back home. Well, I do believe it.
Lor is silent, a thoughtful frown on his face.
“…then what can be done about this situation? Are you saying there’s nothing we can do so we should just let people die from the class differences, from getting caught in the stupid scuffles for each country’s ego?”
Lor’s words are bitter, angry, and frustrated. They’re directed at me, but I understand they’re not REALLY directed at me. Because it IS a stupid, harsh, un-fantasy-like situation.
“Just because they won’t stop wars doesn’t mean those types of efforts would be meaningless. If it weren’t for people who were always TRYING for peace, wouldn’t the world be a worse place?”
Lor’s hard look has softened. I don’t know if he’s convinced, but he seems to have drifted off to his own thoughts. I hope those words were some sort of comfort. Though I was just repeating an idea I’d heard from somewhere in the OTHER world.
After everyone had eaten and the watch order was decided, Lor and I attempted the magic training again, but it was no good. I have 62 MP left.
“… I will think on it.”
So muttering, Lor went to his makeshift bedroll talking to himself the entire time, trying to think of ideas based on the concept of Magic Power use. He’s a mage who’s the scientific type, huh?
I had volunteered for a later watch since I’m the least injured person, but I stay awake a little longer.
Old Man Harulf wanders away from the fire and finds me sitting on a rock nearby, staring at the stars in the sky.
“Do they look fake?”
I turn to him as he says that.
“No, they don’t.” It’s the truth. I don’t know the stars, never was into astronomy even in the other world, but it looks like the night sky from back home.
“But there was a time when the planets above the sky shown through. It must have looked at least a little different. That was a time when mana deficiency was rare. Ever since the stars became fake, the mana of this world has been strange. Though that’s only the tales of long ago.”
… Eh. Maybe I should have said “I don’t know if they’re different” instead… Luckily Old Man Harulf doesn’t seem to pick up on it.
He sighs and sits next to me before he continues.
“Lor is very idealistic, with all his theories and concepts. Though he’s half-elven, he’s only lived 264 moons, after all.”
Hoh … I glance over at Lor. Though I hadn’t noticed it before, he really does have pointy ears. Not the really long kind like some fantasy games in the OTHER world. 264 moons … months? Then… 22 years in my world’s time?
“Then how old are you?”
I couldn’t resist asking.
Old Man Harulf laughs, though he holds his injured back.
“This old dwarf is 3482 moons.”
… hang on, I can’t do the math that fast. It’s about 300 years though. … 290, +/- a month.
Heh? So Old Man Harulf is a dwarf. I did think he was rather short, but it’s rude to ask about it for older people, right?
“And so, this old dwarf will teach you a different method to control your Magic Power. It’s an imprecise type of way, so the youngsters don’t like it, but an imprecise way might be what you need right now.”
He had me stay seated, closing my eyes and centering myself.
“Imagine a thin film around your body, then draw it closer, closer, and closer until it’s at your skin. Do it slowly, let yourself note any of the little differences.”
I do as he says, and struggle a few seconds before I can pull it off.
Ah… there really is a difference. I can’t say what it feels like, almost like if you coated your hand in something so your skin can’t breathe, but there’s no real added layer and it’s not that uncomfortable. I open my eyes.
“That is the feeling of not using magic.”
Old Man Harulf smiles, seeing that I’d noticed the difference.
I glance at my status.
Ohhh the numbers are going up super fast now. Seeing that my MP is quickly regenerating, I’m sure that I’ve managed to stop wastefully emitting MP.
“To use magic, instead of releasing that imaginary film, think of it as poking holes in the film where you need to use Magic Power. That is how you control it.”
It’s not like I’m really making a film to hold my MP in; it’s just a really effective image that Old Man Harulf is describing. Now that I’ve done it once, I can sense that all I’m doing is holding my MP in instead of constantly emitting it.
But as expected, it was impossible to know what that felt like until I could do it.
I follow his advice and “poke holes” in various places and slowly feel how having just the amount of MP I was emitting felt. Though what I’m really doing is choosing to emit MP in small amounts from different parts of my body.
When I “poke holes” around my eyes, suddenly I can … see magic?
It’s not quite like it’s lights, but various colored… I guess lights for lack of better term … things move and jitter, collect and disperse from various objects, people, everything.
Old Man Harulf is aware of my startled reaction.
“Did you just learn (Magic Sensory) just from that?”