Just like anything in life, nothing always goes to plan. Days have passed after Elras and I have finished the adventurer’s quest. I rarely saw Aaron outside of a brief moment in the lounge and in our class; putting a tremendous hold in further figuring out what that purple room is.
While waiting for the opportunity to meet with him, I try to keep myself busy like always, booking several adventurers’ quests with Elras and continuing my progress in the academy, especially in the《School of Wits Magic》that I’ve become quite fond of, but not too much. Combat magicians are always and will always be much wealthier and respected compared to Wits magicians. Following my passion will not bring me happiness; I need to always keep this in mind.
There is a bit of a silver lining, however, in joining the《School of Wits Magic》, one-to-one mentoring is very common amongst the department due to having the least amount of students, second to《School of Alteration Magic》. This, with the advantage of the slower time in the sky palace, allows me to master this field of magic quickly. And I’m about to attend my weekly one-to-one mentoring soon enough.
Arriving at the usual door, I lightly knock before slowly opening it. Inside, a source of dim light illuminating the room from a manaritium lantern placed in the middle of a round table with two cushioned chairs. All of it lies in the center of the room; the walls cannot be traced back, as if infinite darkness surrounds it due to the dim light. Creating a serene and somber atmosphere.
Behind the table sits an old lady. Despite her frail appearance and gentle expression, I know what truly lies behind that facet of wrinkles. Headstrong and wise. A profound doctor magician level at that. The very definition of the ultimate Wits magician known for its unfathomable wisdom and stoic nature. Noticing my arrival, she sends a warm smile.
Welcome, Alderhide-san. I’ve been expecting you.
I calmly approach the chair and sit down like I always do in our mentoring session, upholding the calm and serenity of the room. A mentally exhausting lesson awaits and every bit of tranquility helps.
Within the depth of my conscience, sheer concentration, and conceptualization intensifies. Symbols, shapes — patterns are all vividly imagined as it flows around in my mental space. An abstract woven-like thread sprung out and with my will, connects its way to her. A link forms between me and her.
A tunnel between two logos.
Good Afternoon, Instructor Smush.
What a pleasant surprise… You are able to cast a chantless《Cogitarn》spell. Albeit, requiring much more intense concentration on your end. It is very good seeing my students progressing rapidly, however, please be aware to not rush on your journey in mastering the《School of Wits Magic》since a single mistake can potentially impair your mind, especially in the realm of our subconscious mind, our… abs-logos. Now, please demonstrate to me any kind of illusion spell you’ve learned in our previous class.
Still, within my conscience, I recall a different set of symbols while simultaneously imagining the sort of circus I would perform in this room. Tiny sparks of light pop up one by one, and slowly magnifying into much grander colorful explosions. The silent room becomes quite hectic with the reverberated explosions. Illusionary Fireworks. The lights are intense and seem very real, instinctively closing my eyes along. However, it’s supposed recoil blast waves don’t exist. This small missed detail signifies this is only sparkles of light I came up with, not real fireworks.
Once the performance is over, what greets me when I open my eyes is the same warm smiles of hers.
Excellent display in coming up with the illusions as always, Alderhide-san. You scored very well. On to the next lesson that I’m sure you’re eager to learn. This lesson or spell I’m about to teach you, however, is not within your caliber.
It is the《Somn》spell. A very complex spell, one that can be bent or shaped to fit whatever the caster’s desire. But generally, it is used to dive deep into the dark unknown of our subconscious that covers the majority of our mind, abs-logos. You might venture into a forgotten memory of your past, the good or the bad. Or perhaps… you will face the other side you’ll wish didn’t exist. Fear. Twisted impulsion. Malice. These are human traits, and as much as we try to deny them, they exist and we must face them. For only by accepting them, we can conquer ourselves, and therefore metamorphose as the true Wits magician.
Usually, the caster of the spell will be able to take a peek at the receiver’s subconscious, however, for this one, I’ll deliberately prevent it to do so. So you can experience the wonders of the spell without worrying over me prying on your secrets. I can demonstrate the spell now to give you a glimpse of it, that is… with your consent of course.
Wow, I can’t believe she’s going to demonstrate the infamous《Somn》spell. But isn’t this an Advanced magic spell? I’ve only reached intermediate mastery and I’m somehow being encouraged to take two steps ahead. Is this because I’m one of the very few students in her class that is progressing very rapidly?
The subconscious huh…
Now that I think about it. I rarely delve into that part of my brain for a good reason. I always try to keep myself occupied with something. Being alone with nothing to do is such a foreign concept for me. And that spell is well known to be able to explore the other side of human nature…
I should still do it anyway, all for the sake of mastering the art of Wits magic much quicker.
Without an usher of words from her, I somehow become very sleepy. Sinking into a deep ocean…
As soon as I’m conscious and able to create coherent thoughts on my current situation, dark rocky caves surround me and only weakly lighted. Its humid, damp air added with its strong musty smell and a tinge of rotting meat makes me wonder how real this dream is. All of my senses seemingly fully wired to the environment. I can even feel the slight uneven rocks beneath my feet.
Wait a minute… Isn’t this that very same cave?
「 It branches to two, Renald. Do you want to split or move up together? 」
I look towards where the voice comes from behind me. Turns out, Elras is talking with the… “other” me, both equipped with adventurer’s gear. Man, that… blue hair still feels pretty weird and awkward. You would think after several years I’ll get used to it.
Looks like I’m visiting a memory of mine where Elras and I went to investigate kobolds’ activity and eliminate them if possible and deemed necessary as an adventurer’s quest. And from the way they don’t notice me as I wave my hands in front of their faces and dance around like an idiot to gain their attention, I’m guessing I don’t exist, a ghost.
It feels quite awkward seeing myself from another perspective. I should probably experience this as if I was watching myself on a recorded video, but this time I can wander around with my own physical body to gain a different view or perspective.
「 Let’s split up, I’ll go to the smaller branch on the left, 」the other me says.
「 Alright, it should be quite easy, at least compared to those damn elves. We already encountered the majority of them anyway. Just remember to retreat back if you think it’s too hard. 」
「 Understood, be careful Elras. 」
They split up as they move towards their designated branch. Hmm… What if I follow Elras along?
I tag along behind Elras as he goes to the right branch. As soon as I got several meters away from the other me, however, a migraine struck like a bolt of lightning. Like a cage of pain, the more I’m away from the other me the more the agonizing pain intensifies. I must go back to the other me again on the left branch where the headache finally subsides.
So that’s it I guess? I can’t get away from the past me? That seems quite reasonable when I think about it. The brain doesn’t have any information regarding the things I haven’t experienced therefore it becomes confused and stressed out, releasing pain in return. At least that’s what I assumed, I would need to ask Instructor Smush for confirmation.
And so I follow along with the past me as we… or I encountered kobolds along the way. It was a grind for sure, killing all of these kobolds as I traverse deeper to the cave. I think it was around ten to twenty kobolds in total just by my own.
Oh yikes, that kobold struck its dagger to the side of my other’s stomach. I winch as I remember how the pain was a fucking bitch and still remains slightly to this day.
Oh yeah, there was that pesky kobold trying to hide in the cave blind spot, but thanks to《Biante》Wits a magic spell that increases my awareness and passively detects lifeforms in a short radius, its sneak attack attempt failed before it even started.
As I followed along with the old me as he encountered more kobolds, slowly but surely I realize this wasn’t just a normal memory… It is the start of an event I am remorseful and very ashamed of.
Oh god, oh fuck, it’s that cave room. No, don’t go there Ryo or Renald or whatever! Just don’t go there!
I try to push the other me away, but I always go through him as if I were a ghost. Ahh fuck, no matter what I did the other me is just going there. I can’t fucking stop it. He’s going to the room. Aah fuck do I really have to follow him. Dammit, that painful migraine fucking struck again. I got to follow him, aren’t I?
There they are, numerous babies and young kobolds. They are clearly underdeveloped, less than half of the already small-sized adult kobold. There’s no weapon in sight, clearly indicating they are very innocent and defenseless. I forgot what emotion I felt when I first discovered them, but one thing comes to mind.
“I need more shadow minions”
That single thought becomes the devastating start of the immoral slaughter.
Their unintelligible screams and dying whimpers, begging to be spared, are all for naught.
Their small bodies spasm, underdeveloped legs kicking in the air, tiny hands clutching to the big sword boring a hole in their stomach, pushing it away in a futile effort.
Again and again and again…
Until I’m the only one who’s still breathing. And the once chaotic cry is replaced with silence, their lives are all speck of dust, worthless, and disappear just as easily.
Their bodies are all laying flat, a deep hole on each of their stomachs, seeping out blood, digestive juices, and even its intestines can be seen dangling out.
The sword’s once shiny polish is now replaced with the glistening blood, dripping to the already dyed red ground, oozing out the immoral act.
If I remember correctly, at this point that child should be… Ah fuck, that one is still alive and is trying to escape, dragging its body on the ground, leaving a trail of blood. It didn’t move too far since it was moving slowly.
And as expected I just walk towards it with my bloodied sword. I mean it’s not going anywhere with its slow pace but still. The sword strikes his back. Ugh… That same haunting dying scream, causing shivers down my spine.
Out of my expectations, the other me turns back, facing directly at me. I remember back then how disgusted I was with what I’ve just done. It turned into one of the worst days ever, as their seconds before death is always replayed in my head over and over again. I have to keep telling myself that they are just monsters. Forcing myself, justifying myself to accept the idea that their death is for the greater good and how it is necessary to kill them for peace and the prosperity of humanity.
I can clearly remember how sour and griefed I was at this exact moment.
So why is he — the once I — devilishly smiling at me?
W̶͉̍̃e̵͇̖̅ ̴̞̘̀̚â̵̜̼͌r̵̫͆͋e̷̼͌́ ̶̺̙͠á̸̞͝ĺ̷̛̙̘w̸͇͑á̸͚͜y̶͍͚̑͆s̴̨̎ ̶̨̱̚a̷̧͐͒ļ̶̝̇o̸̥͑̓n̷̖͝é̵̫̕.̶̛̠̈́.̶͕̐̍.̸̗͎̾ ̵̳̆
̶̦̟̽D̵̝̪̐̓ạ̶̉m̸͕̰̉͊ṅ̷̫̻͝e̴͔͂d̷͙̦̎ ̶̰͇͌t̵̹̱͂͐o̶̮͐͌ ̶̪̈́e̴͙̋ͅẗ̸͉͚́ē̷̹̬r̵͉̖̕͝n̸͔̗͌ȃ̴̩̰l̴͖͍̐ ̴̫̮̋͗l̷̟͊͐ò̸̡̘́ņ̵̼̎e̸͎͠l̵̩̈́̕i̶̭͖̐͒n̵̘͛è̵̟s̸̨̳̀s̷̩͎̔.̴̱̞̀͗
̶͎̓̀P̵̗̓̓o̶̳͂w̷̺̳̒͘e̶̘͎͘r̶͚̫̆̾.̵̮͌̚ͅ.̶̰̊.̸̗̙̊͒ ̷̮͒͝Ô̴̿͜h̷̘͉̽,̶͍̆ ̷̨͍̆̓h̴̡̝̍o̸̳̽̃w̸̫͋ ̵̱͎̾͝w̶̠͓͛̓ẽ̷̥͂ ̷̟̦͊y̶̙̹̎̃e̸̕ͅả̴̦́r̴͉͆͘n̸͉̙̐͌ ̵̟̜̓f̵̝̕ö̵̢́͑r̶̻͒̕ ̴̓ͅi̵̼͆̇t̸̢̞͛͆.̵͍̻̒̊
̶̱̮͑Ö̵̪̚ǘ̸̯r̵̝̈̃ ̴̬̬͐ọ̷̻͒n̶͎̬͂l̸̰̲͌ẏ̷̩̲͘ ̶̠͝s̶̨̓ͅả̴͓̄l̷̨̆v̵̜̩̾a̴̟͂̍t̷̖͖͆i̶̩̘̎o̶̮͊́n̸̯̔̽.̸̩͔̊̆
̵̼͉̃̎D̶̪͒͝o̶͕̱̕ṇ̶̡̓̀’̷͖̥͛t̷̞͚̐ ̷̙͆̔͜y̷̭̓o̸̻̮̓̔u̶̮͋ ̶̺͚͐ṭ̸̣͐h̴͓̩̀͐i̵̗̭̽̊ǹ̴̠̕k̶̝͎͌ ̶̫̊̎s̶̤͓̈o̸͖̓ ̵̡͋t̴͙̤͛̎o̸̡̍o̵͈͆ͅ,̶̜̖̈́ ̸̗̽̔R̸̙͝ý̶͈o̷͍͕̍?̸͙̎͋ ̸̢̫͋
I feel a great disturbance in your mind, Alderhide-san.
Her voice from within my mind unknowingly pulls me back to the surface.
It was a small period of darkness before now I’m back in the room with Professor Smush again. I could feel my heartbeat… every single pound in my chest. This pressure urges something… Something horrible. Each beat, pulse, thumping seemingly trying to urge me, reminds me of the other me.
She seems to keep herself and remain calm but the more apparent wrinkles on her forehead indicate she’s heavily worried about me.
Are you alright?
Not wanting to make her worry too much, I immediately nod to her.
We should end the session a little earlier than normal. You need to take a rest now. I’m very sorry for making you experience a bad memory. If you need any kind of help from this event please don’t be shy and let me know.
「 Thank you, Instructor Smush. I will take my leave now. 」
I immediately leave the petrifying room, trying my hardest to appear calm and to not bother her while the tsunami-like beating from my heart is still ongoing. A worried smile plastered on her face as I closed the door. Damn, I made her worried huh. I should be able to stop this fucking annoying beating soon enough.
I go outside the building, smelling the fresh air to calm myself down, but the thumping is still present. It didn’t work; why won’t it stop.
Damned to eternal loneliness…