“What did you do?” asked father as he stared at me in in open shock. Striding forward, he touched my forehead with the pad of his thumb and placed his fingers on the top of my head. Shutting his eyes, he tried to investigate my mindscape. To see if it had magically repaired itself.
It hadn’t. I could feel the tingle of his mana as it permeated my mind, but with nothing to retain it, it passed out just as easily.
Pushing his hand off my head, I ran a hand through my ruffled hair to set it back in place. “I wasn’t using my own mana to cast. I was using the mana in the environment. It’s a form of magecraft known as external casting.”
“External casting?” he questioned as he frowned. “Explain.”
So, we were back to one-word sentences? Truly, this was the father I was accustomed to. I wasn’t used to him behaving so apologetic and guilty. This aspect of him; calm, collected and commanding, was what I had come to expect throughout my childhood.
“This is the fruit of Master’s research. He developed it as an auxiliary casting system for Hominum which would allow us to reduce the burden on our comparatively scarce mana and use the naturally available mana from our environment.”
Drawing a few mana lines in the air, I explained, “In his original proposal, the Hominum is supposed to draw these lines with his own personal mana and make it resonate with the ambient mana, thereby achieving the goal of casting a spell. Apparently, the letters of the old language are shaped in a manner that can convey their meaning to the mana in the environment and chaining the appropriate letters will result in a spell.”
Father looked pensive for a moment then spoke. “So, now that you don’t have any mana, you are directly using the ambient mana to both form your runes as well as cast?” When I nodded, he raised his finger and drew a line in the air. The tip glowed a bluish-white and I could feel the ambient mana gather towards him. When it reached the line he had drawn, its frequency changed to match the mana in the line.
When he let go, it collapsed in a swirl of wind. “Was this what you did to increase the density of light mana while your mother was treating your wife?” he asked.
“Yes. Father you…” Predicting my question, he answered. “Instead of changing the frequency of my mana to match that of the ambient mana, I used my high cultivation in order to force the ambient mana’s frequency to match mine.
“Actually, sensing ambient mana is quite difficult for us Bestia. Only at the peak of Tier 3 do we get a fuzzy impression. During Tier 4, we can clearly sense it and impose our will on it to a certain extent. It is only when we reach Tier 5 that we gain complete dominion over our element. But as you saw, the effect falls far short compared to your method. Let alone, we are restricted to our element.” He paused. “Did your master say where he came by this?”
“He said that he found it in a book about how Hominum mages cast their spells before the apocalypse. He said that contract magic was actually an auxiliary skill and not the main form of our magic.” I replied.
“It makes a lot of sense if you consider that the Hominum and the Beasts were equally matched during the war, at least according to the lore. Only contract magic wouldn’t have helped them much. But to gain access to such precious books – your master’s background isn’t very simple. I thought that he was a Tamer who had somehow lost his harem and was therefore wandering destitute, living hand to mouth. His talent was why I asked him to teach you; but now, it seems that he is a man with a story. Where is he now? I’d like a word with him.”
I shook my head with a wry smile. “Master left right before I set off for the Swayamvar. He said that the road was calling to him again.”
“A pity,” Father said, regretfully.
Curious about the implications of this new cultivation direction, I asked. “Father, do you think that all Tamers can be trained in this form of casting? Although Master said that the speed at which they learnt was extremely slow, but that is in the case that they possess a mindscape. When I lost mine, my sensitivity to external mana shot up drastically. So, couldn’t Hominum children be allowed to major in external casting and minor in the art of the contract?”
Father shook his head. “It is not that simple. Your case is extremely unique. You say that they’d be able to sense ambient mana when they don’t have a mindscape. But, were you able to sense it then? Before they awaken, all Bestia children do not have a mindscape. You don’t hear talk of them being able to sense ambient mana.
“Only after you contracted with Deimos were you able to use mana as well as sense it. I believe that your contract with your wives is the reason for your sensitivity to mana. And along with a contract…”
“Comes a mindscape.” I finished for him.
Then, my situation was truly unique. If a Hominum wanted to sense mana, he had to form a contract. If he formed a contract, his mindscape would form simultaneously.
The loss of a mindscape wasn’t a joke. It could result in a person turning into an idiot, falling into a permanent coma, or even death. It wasn’t like you could wake up one fine morning and say ‘I feel my mindscape is quite restrictive, I want to cast it off.’ Mindscapes weren’t clothes.
I was lucky enough to survive and experience the joy after the sorrow. But, I still had one doubt.
“Father, I can sense shadow, fire, and wind mana. If you say that it is because of my contract, I can accept that. But, why can I sense light and water mana? In fact, those two strains are the ones I have the highest induction to. It’s not like I can sense all elements either. Earth mana is off limits to me. Do you know what this means?”
Father rubbed his forehead. “This…”
“Actually, this is totally unknown territory for me. I’ll try to get the information cell searching for information about the pre-apocalypse culture of the Hominum. There might be some clues in there. You will have to figure this out on your own.”
“Sir!” A panicked shout interrupted our discussion. Turning around, we saw a military cadet rushing towards us, not even hesitating to consume his wind mana wantonly to accelerate himself.
Skidding to a stop not far away from us, he composed himself as best as he could and gave father a military salute. When he spoke, even though his words were clipped and precise, I could easily notice his fear from the clenching of his hands and the slight quaver in his voice.
“Sir, Cadet 19 of the Messenger Squadron reporting! The seventh scout outpost has detected abnormal activity in the south-eastern Forbidden Zone. The fifth recon squad has confirmed sightings.”
He swallowed his saliva. “The Calamity. It’s coming!”
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