I thought it was a lamb for slaughter I was raising. He turned out to be a tiger instead.
– Nura Rihan on Mars Felidae
My fingers paddled the void, causing the air to ripple in their wake. The tips spelt out the words for wind and storm in the Old Language.
Trails of mana shimmered in the air as they formed the floating text.
The brilliant letters vibrated in the air in a rhythm that echoed in mysterious ways with the world.
Wind mana from the surroundings coalesced onto them and a breeze followed in its wake.
The breeze grew into a gust. The gust into a gale.
Lost in my trance, I didn’t notice my eyes glowing white as my fingers cut jagged lines of mana into the swirling air.
They spelt the word ‘sharp’ and the errant winds swirling around me condensed into invisible blades that scattered all around me.
Tier 2 wind magic: Blade-Edge Hurricane.
The blades of wind lost their momentum and unravelled as they met the suppression of the topology as they went further away from me.
Snapping out of my trance, I whooped as finally, nearly a month of effort showed results.
Formed from an arrangement of Terran and Aeolian crystals, the opposing earth and wind mana caused the air in the topology’s zone of influence to remain utterly stagnant.
It was a very suitable environment to practise strengthening one’s wind magic as the counterpoint to the Cradle which was more suited for exercising control.
Grinning widely, I turned to Master who was sitting just out of the range of the Grave of the Winds topology.
Instead of the joyous expression I expected for the confirmation of his theory, I only found utter shock in his expression. Well, an understandable reaction. It was a mere conjecture on his part after all.
Without mana, he had no way to test his theory.
Once again, I felt sorry for him. Losing his harem must have been painful for him. I wish he would share his story with me. It might just lessen his burden.
Master recovered from his shock swiftly.
“That was confirmed much faster than I could ever expect. Can you tell me how you did it?”
I grinned. It wasn’t everyday that I got to shock my Master. He was nearly as parsimonious with his praise as Father. Earning it always made me feel accomplished.
“Well, it wasn’t too difficult, really. I just had to get used to the new mode of mana operation. Realising that mana resonance was the way to prevent the mana text from dissipating was the crucial turning point.”
“Hold on. Making the mana resonate with the natural mana frequency should have been the toughest part. How did you manage to do it simultaneously as you wrote?”
“Eh?” I scratched my head. “Well, I never found mana resonance challenging. Even when I perform my duties as a tamer and officiate marriages, I find the drawing of the mark the hard part rather than achieving resonance.”
“Then what were you doing for the past month if not training your ability to resonate with natural mana?”
“Well, manipulating the mana I release from my fingertips into the shapes of the letters takes a lot of control. Over the month, I was only able to achieve it for the wind element. That too because Deimos is Specialized in control, so my mana reflects that. Shadow and Fire still needs a lot of work.”
Master rubbed his forehead. “I keep forgetting that you are merely on the cusp of Tier 2. Having such delicate control is quite difficult for you to achieve.”
“It’s okay. It’s good practice. Anyway, Master, you were right about the Old Language not being merely random scribbles arbitrarily given meaning. They are the language of mana. When I was writing out the words, I could feel them causing the natural mana in the world to respond in specific ways. It was almost like commanding the world to bend to my will. This could revolutionize the way Hominum train.”
Master smiled wryly as he shook his head. “When are things ever easy? Achieving what you did would take the average Hominum years.” He pointed to the sheaf of papers bound in leather that contained the revised version of Ceres’ notes along with his lessons in writing. “When I wrote my theories down, I expected you to have to work on it for much longer. I expected it to come in handy during the endgame of the Swayamvar when you would be nearing Tier 3 and in dire need of something that could boost your spellcasting and rival a Domain.”
“The technique of external casting involves using the mana in nature instead of the mana in our mindscape. Due to the requirement for mana resonance, it is exclusively limited to Hominum and can provide a boost to our magic. I came across the technique in a remnant volume of a book from before the War. It seemed to be the primary form of Hominum magic then.
“The incomplete nature of the work kept me from getting all the details and I am missing a lot of the actual process, thus, as you saw, the might of the magic is limited and the casting is quite slow compared to internal casting. I don’t see it replacing the traditional training for Tamers anytime soon, but I feel that the extra endurance provided by it and the boost for the magic of you and your wives can act a formidable trump card that can net you victory in a pinch.”
He leaned back against the wall he was sitting in front of. “You took me by surprise by completing this so fast. My talent in this aspect is inferior to yours.”
I frowned. “If this was the primary form of magic for Hominum, then Contract magic?”
“Was merely an auxiliary skill. One for which we have become characterized today.” He replied.
As I left the training halls, I looked down at my hands. The very same hands that had seemed to control the very world for a brief moment.
I couldn’t get the heady rush out of mind. It felt… right.
I could easily believe that it had been the main mode of casting for the Hominum of yore. A method lost under the heartless tread of time.
An ambition began germinating in my mind.
I didn’t have the slightest clue as to how I would achieve my wish. But, I wanted to make external casting bloom in radiant splendour yet again in the present.