Chapter 49: Flying By The Myriads Of Colors & Chapter 49.5: The Siblings (Eystil POV)


Author Update: Hey guys. Life grabbed me by the throat and kicked me in the gonads, school and work respectively. I will be doing monthly chapter releases now.

I still can’t believe people actually read my work, I just want you to know that I love you. Anyways here are the chapters for the month, enjoy! 

Love you cuties,

-Argent


Chapter 49: Flying By The Myriads Of Colors

Fourth Myriad: Shimmering Gold 44, NF 311

“Come.”

“What?”

“Come at me.”

“Spar you?”

“Yes, come. Try and land a hit. You can dial in your strength to a degree… Just don’t kill me is what I ask of you.”

I looked at Frium as she moved to take one of the more defensive stances keeping her spear slightly diagonal in front of her.

She’s serious…

Okay…I’ve been wanting to spar for a while now too. I focused my mind feeling for every muscle and tendon then constricting their output. Feeling the sluggishness of my weakened self I walked a couple meters away and took a neutral stance as I was most familiar with that style.

Standing apart our eyes locked onto each other from a hundred meters away in the open field. The only sounds were the soft breezes and the dirt crunching under my feat as I dug them in a little.

Frium’s eyes narrowed her icy gaze becoming sharp with her and her spear radiating white wafts of cold.

“Alright, I’m starting!” I yelled as I ran at her confident from my thousands of wins with the muddy golem at an intermediate difficulty.

Shooting forward like a bullet piercing through the air I felt the wind rush out of my way for every stride I took.

I’ll scare her with a massive running thrust at this speed! She’ll get spooked and try to dodge giving me an opening for a full ground sweep.

I’ve beaten the golem so many times with this my execution will be perfect. A charging decisive rush like this would be enough to scare anyone off!

Especially after tricking her with a neutral stance.

I smiled to myself wondering what surprised face she would have. In an instant, I had already closed in on her.

—CLINK

“Huh?” I felt my spear numbing my hands from an intense vibration.

“Hmm?”

I repeated my surprise.

I rain of sparks dazzled were our weapons made contact. With a screeching grind, I felt my body lose control as the force of our meeting was being redirected. With the speed I had used to push forth I couldn’t recall it back, I could only watch my spear slide across hers.

There was no hesitation after the redirection, I watched the butt of her spear already coming for me in sequence.

—BAM

I felt my ribs crack before I was sent rolling in the dirt.

“Too obvious. I’m taking a defensive stance Lucid I have all the opportunities to defend such a simple feint even if I had hesitated. Combat isn’t just thinking one, two, or even ten moves ahead Lucid. It’s about understanding the entirety of how the battle will play out.”

Understanding the entirety of the battle? I’m struggling to connect together more than two different attacks here! I grumbled silently waiting for the soreness at my side to leave.

“I know you know all the defensive and attacking movements in the neutral stance down and a few of the more aggressive ones, but the golem will never teach you how a battle with a person will play out. Remember this.”

I picked myself and listened closely using my hands to comb the remaining dirt off my tongue and shaking my head to remove some from out of my hair

“It works off a limited skill set. When fighting another person their temperament and their personality all play into the flow. And yes this applies to hyres too each one may have different personalities even within the same kinds.”

Using her spear she signaled for me to retake the starting position I had at the start.

“You normally use ranged attacks correct? Think back to that innate instinct built inside you over time. That instinct that allows you to understand the flow of your enemies movements when they’re in a group so you can target them in correct succession, it is a separate mindset from being only accurate. Connect those skills to close combat.”

The entire flow…

I had a vague feeling of what she meant but knew only by having a couple more thrashes would I understand.

“Starting!”

***

Fifth Myriad: Noble Peridot 24, NF 311

“That’s a good look in your eyes Lucid I think you’re on the cusp of understanding,” Frium spoke in a satisfied tone as I passed by her to my usual starting point.

“I do feel that ‘something’ you were talking about, but it’s still vague.” I lamented.

It was like trying to read something through a frosted glass a pent up frustration that only fists could break.

“Starting!”

With my acute sense of sight, I saw her lips mouth “Come then.”

I rushed forward my strides perfect making it look as if I was gliding over the ground.

—Clink

“Not bad.”

—Clank

“Unfortunately.”

—Clunk

“The execution.”

—Thud

“Was poor.”

I tumbled rolling on my side a few feet before using my hands to dig into the ground to stop myself.

Think what you want I, Lucid, lasted six moves against you! That’s almost one per week!

After picking up my spear I readied myself again. I understood what I had done wrong but how to fix it was still locked away.

“Hmm,” Frium looked at me as if she noticed something.

“Do not bother with resetting each time you lose. You’re at the edge when you are knocked down just come at me as soon as you can.”

Each time I lose? Who’s to say I’ll keep losing?

“Starting!” I yelled not bothering to return to my usual starting point I rushed from where I stood.

***

Sixth Myriad: Cerulean Luminescence 49, NF 311

The, fake, blue moon hung low illuminating the field in front of me with a pale light. Today marked the soon to be the fifth month within this micro world.

“Starting!” I yelled again repeating the same shout after an unknown amount of times.

Frium said nothing and only looked at me calmly.

I was glad she took each and every battle seriously, not once have I ever felt that she wasn’t paying attention.

—Clink

Our spears met with enough force to send a small shock wave in all directions throwing the loose surface dirt up and away with the two of us at the center.

“Hmm?” Frium let out.

—Clank

I twisted my body in a quick turn screeching our magical metals against each other as I spun in the air for massive swing.

“Okay.” Frium still looked unperturbed as she instantly understood what I was doing.

You can understand but can you stop it!? I mused myself.

Our spears intersected this time my blade fell against the icy shaft sending a rain of white and black sparks into the air. I took advantage of a half-second in deadlock as we pressed our spears together using her power to throw my spear back for me giving me a chance to reposition for a quick thrust!

“HAAAAA!” I screamed out as my practiced movements wasted no space.

I needed to be fast for this to work!

The moon glinted off the glossy black blade as the sharp tip closed in on her wide open hip I committed fully into this attack.

A sharp chill ran down my spine. A warning!

My mind and body telling me something was terribly wrong!

Before I could figure out what my head was already thrown back, wide-eyed staring up at the beautiful, fake, moon. Soon after my feet lifted off the ground as my body shot away from her feeling a dull pain on my chest. I bounced on my back and slid stopping a few dozen feet away.

“With something like that you leave yourself open too.” She said coolly.

Frium stood there with the butt of her spear thrust forward with one leg in front of the other accordingly.

Did she stay like that to show me what she did? She really is a good teacher. I question if it is from being naturally good at teaching or just having such a high mastery that allows her to teach so well.

A gave a dejected smile.

I really thought I had her.

“I will say you learn well.” She said as she moved her leg back and moved her spear to stand at her side.

“It’s only been five months and I’ve had to finally move my feet from their original position. You’re building it, the perception of a fighter. It would be fair to call yourself…” She tapped on her lips before raising her finger again.

“a novice spearman now, IF you understood what happened just now.”

Understand that I left myself open stupidly forcing the short thrust in the heat of the moment instead of keeping my eye on her hands and spear position? Or that I didn’t even prepare a defensive movement to stop the butt of her spear from hitting me whats to under—

Wait I do?

I did it? Did I just fucking do it?

I clenched my fist unable to stop myself from grinning from ear to ear as I began to realize my accomplishment only stopping short of yelling at the top of my lungs.

So that’s why she stayed like that for longer than necessary she was hoping for me to understand.

After twenty-five hours of pure training every day for the last five months, I’ve finally reached a milestone! If I could practice more I would but the remaining hours of the day went to the daily tasks of magic studies, lustrating, and essence training. If only I didn’t need to eat or have bodily functions…

I savored this moment knowing the next time I pass through a bottleneck like this won’t be for a very long time and the one after that even longer…

I didn’t let the tinge of sadness from stopping the giddiness that coursed through me. I wanted to fight more after feeling this hot-blooded enlightenment. However, turning my focus on magic would be better for my growth now. If I can finally create my very own sigils I’ll feel confident in my overall progress.

—BeepBeepBeep BeepBeepBeep

Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to attempt to best Frium, I had to stop the day’s training here. I turned off the alarm that signaled the end of the session.

“Tell Eystil to come tutor me later. I’m close to forming a sigil but I can’t materialize it and I’m stuck on the reason…”

Falling from a satisfied expression Frium gave a bitter smile. It was only recently that the duo finally figured out I wasn’t the supremely powerful being they thought I was when we met. Throwing lances? A godly archer? It was all a bluff!

Because they don’t know the truth behind my soul’s power they think my physical strength is the only special trait from my world. I actually prefer they think I’m weaker than I am at this moment it serves the dual purpose of letting their guard down, if they are planning anything, and saves me the trouble of having to pretend.

Besides, nothing has cropped up that indicates danger from the empire, the scariest moment was the first month after the discovery that they’ve been robbed.

“Okay, I’ll tell him to go over.”

A soft wind blew towards the spot Frium had stood after she had teleported back to their shared apartment. Similarly, I made my way back to mine making my way through the empty streets.

Not a single crack on the concrete blocks, not so much as a hairline from a tree’s roots lifting up a square. How much detail did the two put into this…

I silently praised while walking.

—Tak Tak Tak

My steps destroyed the stillness in the air making me feel as if I were walking on drums.

Not a single peep of noise tonight, I stopped and looked around and let out a long sigh after waiting for anything, anything, to happen.

I enjoy calm and quiet walks at night.

“But this is too quiet.” I shook my head and continued on my way.

The lucids seem to be showing small signs of developing individual personalities now that they’re experiencing a semblance of living. However! Their likeness is making the progress excruciatingly slow to the point where I had to enforce rules such as prohibiting the consumption of the same food more than 10 times in a row.

Maybe in a couple of months I’ll remove the rule if they really want to eat the same thing they I won’t stop them.

I’ve been wishing I could bring in some poor village outside the strong protection of major cities here to shake things up, but that could bring up too many variables. In the future, I will seriously consider this.

“What if I directly manage mandatory after school social events? Choose their friends groups and such…”

“Nononono…”

I’m starting to sound like an overbearing mom. I should let things develop naturally right? But I’m worried about their development, I took on this responsibility and I want to foster their growth.

Giving a final sigh I unlocked my apartment door and went inside.

After a quick wash and some food, I’ll wait for Eystil.

***

Waiting, I silently I held a bright red gem the size of a thumb attuning myself with it understanding its properties. It was the laser-shooting third eye of a burning razor clawed gorilla that Frium had killed when we were looking for a place to settle.

It’s only been five months, why does it feel like so long ago?

—Knock Knock

Eystil announced his arrival stopping me from finding the answer.

Personal lessons from a distinguished real mage should be a great help, I ran to the door collecting myself before letting him in.

“Good evening Lucid, my sister said you needed help creating sigils?” The same bitter smile flashed on his face but unlike his sister, it quickly disappeared.

I can only imagine how vexing it is to know the person they became enslaved to can’t even form their own sigils.

“I’ve hit a roadblock two nights ago the books just can’t explain attuned sigil creation very well.”

No longer do I bother hiding it. I stayed lofty and grand the first two months just as a precaution against them but they have settled in I felt no reservation reaping benefits from them like this.

“Come sit.” Eystil’s thin and tall pale frame followed me to the floor at the center of the living room where I had various gems and tools laying around.

We sat down on small cushions across from each other in between us was a small table on it etched in holy gold was nine overlapping pentagrams each slightly offset.

“Can I ask a personal question?”

Does he finally want to hear the words out of my mouth? I gauged his face.

“Have you been self-studying magic since you were summoned?”

“You are exactly correct. The world I came from doesn’t have magic so I’ve been doing my best learning what I can.”

I picked up a red gem again feeling it radiate a soft bit of heat while ignoring the life fading from Eystil’s eyes. He really did want to know the truth behind my magic prowess and it still hurt him to hear it. Like moments after ripping off a band-aid the light in his eyes seemed to return as he refocused them.

Eystil, almost, let out a long sigh and then spoke.

“Can you show me your processes, it will help me understand where you are and what you need assistance with.”

Having figured he would ask this I stared into the gem focusing my mind and mana into the throbbing red gem. Little by little the opaque ruby-like rock glow brighter and brighter with every pulse.

[Focus intent into the sigil design, choose the appropriate material or combined materials, channel mana through the material absorbing it into the mana body to form into the final design.]

I followed my note’s simple overview of the process.

—Pop!

The red stone shot up from out of my hand hopping around the hardwood floor adding tiny hard to see scorch marks onto the dark wood.

Another failure. A familiar sight.

I looked at Eystil waiting for some guidance. He quietly picked up the gem that landed by him and inspected it for a bit.

Just as I did he focused his eyes into the gem and making it pulsate as I did but instead of quickening flashes the gem seemed to have stayed “on”.

It can do that?

Huh…

“The material quality appears fine. You are making a sigil that corresponds to the fire element right? If you are, then the problem must lie with the cycle process, the intent, or in the design.”

That’s a roundabout way to say the problem is me.

“Can you show me the design and chant out your intent?”

At his request, I began to draw in the air leaving a simple trail of light following my finger. The design I chose with a simple symbolic drawing of a sun representing a sun followed by only the first letters of the words in a simple mantra.

“Spark Begets A Flame Begets An Eternal Sun”

I had overlaid each letter inside the sun to represent the progression of energy using my general knowledge from the earth of a star’s use of nuclear fusion as my intent on phenomena I want to manipulate.

“An Eternal Sun. I understand now. That is the reason it’s shooting out of your hand. This is nowhere near enough material to bring about the metaphorical and literal power of a sun.” Looking at his face I could tell he wanted to cry out but instead pushed through and continued.

“For such a powerful sigil this is not sufficient in terms of quality nor quantity. I am assuming you have a general understanding of the environment needed for nuclear fusion, but it is also important to focus on the kind of sun you imagine and abstract from. A red giant, a blue giant, or the middle ground of an orange sun? All that matters when creating a pinch. Not that this information would help as this is not enough for even the weakest of stars. Try a simpler sigil Lucid, better yet a sigil related to the hyre this came from, you are quite lucky you didn’t try and force it otherwise your apartment would be in cinders…”

A pinch?

Hearing the word be used in such a way began to make me think the way I imagined it being used in the textbooks wasn’t correct.

“A pinch wasn’t being used to describe the process as being difficult?” I sent a bashful smile.

Eystil’s smile formed another crack that quickly filled itself. It must be torture for him I laughed internally, I’m asking almost inane questions for an advanced magic-user. I remember getting frustrated trying to teach Kevin how to use a vending machine.

“A long time ago someone coined the word pinch and it caught on to become the word that describes the purpose of sigils. Because with special materials like this stone you are ‘pinching’ reality and the ether plane together at the sigil which is why, barring rare exceptions, sigils enhance the effects of magic spells.”

“Ohhhh” is what I wanted to vocalize but kept a studious face nodding my head.

Having a teacher is a godsend. Still, I don’t regret not getting a tutor sooner, it wasn’t possible when I first arrived and essence arts are always more cost-efficient too.

“I think I understand, and what about my mantra is there anything wrong with the length of it? Should I use a longer chant instead?”

As if finally being able to let out words he had been holding in Eystil let his complaints spill.

“Your mantra is too non-specific in my opinion. What do you want from the sun? Heat? Light? Size? Not that I’m saying your mantra is wrong, there is no wrong mantra or chant per se, but beginners always shoot for a general vague idea of what they want. In turn, their weak sigils trickle down into their magic spells and into flashy but terrible spells. If it’s clear to you what it means then you’re fine, but if your mantra isn’t clear to you then you need to rethink it.”

“I se—”

“Also as a scholar, I can’t ignore the major competing theory that claims the opposite of what I just said. This is mostly seen in practice within the Scale Allegiance and in the surrounding southern nations. They back the idea that sigils should be general-purpose believing, foolishly, in the end the use of fewer sigils results in a better overall effect due to less interference from multiple pinches. Which is a completely terrible thought because if your sigils are perfectly clear and concise enough for their purpose there is no interference.”

“—e.”

I wonder if it’s because of Frium that this became a habit.

“Ahem, here try it again.” Eystil realizing he had entered a bit of a tangent handed me my gem back.

Eyes of Fire Screaming Flames Of Anger At Fate?

I held the rock while continuously repeating my new mantra thinking back to the memory of the fifty-meter gorilla destroying anything in its line of sight, imbuing the words of my experience into the pulsating gem while channeling mana. Experiences and knowledge of phenomena could supplement each other.

Eyes of Fire Screaming Flames Of Anger At Fate, Eyes of Fire Screaming Flames Of Anger At Fate…

Sensing that the rock hadn’t shot away from me I grew excited sensing heat from inside of me spilling out causing my head to heavily sweat. Soon after my throat became coarse and dry and my skin hot and red. The gem in my hand slowly become hotter and hotter as it shrunk. Falling into a trance repeating the mantra I only awoke when the rock was completely gone.

“It’s there!” I could sense a small sigil orbiting my mana body much as the totems did.

A sadness crossed my mind from an unexpected reminder of familiar totems.

I switched my thoughts as I tried to focus in on it but the harder I tried the hazier its appearance became. Now it is the waiting period as it proves.

“You’re finished?” Eystil asked I could hear a bit of surprise in his voice.

“Will you be freeing the sigil for all who know it to use or keeping it for yourself?”

“I’ll be keeping it for myself for now.”

Eystil’s face showed no change this is the usual choice, at first.

“I will add Lucid because this is often left out if you noticed there was no material left over this means one of two things. One, there was a perfect amount for the sigil or, two, the sigil is damaged in some way. It’s always best to have material left over.”

There wasn’t any worry in his tone because we both understood this was just a learning example.

“I’ll make a note for the future.”

I sat in silence after responding as I continued to digest what I had just learned trying to vividly remember the rush of heat that passed through me and the sensation of the sigil forming completely. Much like how I became good at entering my mana body almost at will I was trying to do the same for the trance I had just experienced.

I want to go read again… I looked over to Eystil who was calmly sitting waiting for me.

Now I understand why the cost for Essence Art books became so exorbitantly expensive the further I wanted to progress. It wasn’t just the spells and techniques I was paying for but the knowledge to the secret sigils. It’s also why they don’t want a user to teach others.

“Have you processed your insights?”

“I have. I also have a personal question for you.”

Being reminded of totems I decided to finally ask Eystil a personal question. I refrained from doing so earlier because I worried I would reveal too much.

Eystil looked at me focusing his gaze radiating scholarly energy. In his face was no fear or nervousness from the possibility of failing my expectations. Those thoughts seemed to have disappeared with the notion that I was all-powerful.

I scoffed silently.

He is trying to move from the image of a capable subordinate to that of a mentor because I’m young.

“Your understanding of the body, the soul, and the various other ethereal parts that make us up is extremely high right?”

Eystil didn’t disagree.

“There are only a handful of others who are as versed as I am in those topics. ”

“From what I understand the soul is the container for the will that makes a person, using their memories as the experience to generate their uniqueness is that right?”

“Loosely yes, that is what is taught for those who are not going to specialize in anything related to it. In reality, like all things, it is much more complex. For instance, using the container example, the ‘container’ isn’t the same shape, size, or have the same strength of the walls inside to contain the will for everyone. Their race, their genes, both physical and not, and their environment all affect and continually change it.”

While it was nice to hear the inner workings from a genius on their subject of expertise it wasn’t what I was getting at.

“What happens if the container could survive transplantation from one body to another, are there repercussions? And if it happened but in the end some parts were missing from their mind, which you said is connected to their will, would it be possible to trace it back to regain it?”

Eystil furrowed his brows deeper the longer I spoke.

It can’t be impossible this world has magic, nothing should be out of magic’s infinite reach.

A long silence filled my sparsely decorated apartment. I don’t spend much time here so it didn’t bother me until know as my eyes had time to wander around as Eystil avoided my gaze reading to reply.

Eystil drew in a breath then looked at me and spoke.

“This is strictly my thoughts that I am basing off my research into body splitting mages. Please take these words as only thoughts. For the soul to survive the journey not only would it need to be terrifyingly powerful but also the next body would need…”

His eyes widened as if he realized something.

“…to be an exact replica.”

Like a true professional his face returned to normal, in less than a heartbeat he had regained his composure.

“As for regaining anything back after the transfer…”

It took everything I had to stop me from reacting too heavily. No reaction would be worse so I showed some trepidation.

“It would be virtually impossible in my opinion. Once the soul has reawakened in the new body it would have solidified its new shape making the retracing difficult enough.”

A dull pain slammed into my gut.

He’s fucking lying! He has to be violating the oath somehow just so he can get away with not helping me.

Is what my angry mind told me to say. I wanted to grab him by the collar and shake him until I heard what I wanted.

Hearing it come out made me extremely bitter towards Eystil while knowing it was unfair to hold it against him.

“That’s too bad, the reason I asked was that I have been having a vague feeling that I’ve forgotten some important memories. Well, if I can’t remember them then they probably weren’t too important. I’m sure you’ve realized now I am a survivor of soul a transfer. You can guess why. ” I didn’t say anything more.

It was a complete lie, of course, there were no missing memories. I remember everything vividly down to the strange indescribable smell of flesh being destroyed by a vorpal blade.

I could sense Eystil wanted to learn more about what he had just heard but knew he couldn’t press the subject. I didn’t want to talk more about it either.

“Let me ask you something personal and I expect the truth.” Eystil’s eyes back straightened and eyes lasered onto mine.

My mood was sour now and I also wanted to finally know this too.

“Did you ever, at any point, know the lucids were suffering.” His eyes shook a little.

After the words came out a sense of shame hit me. I could tell his mind was racing. Only after I said it did I realize how childish I was being, there were other ways to frame the question.

“No.” He said clearly.

“Neither I nor my sister ever knew the lucids where suffering. We never knew they had formed a consciousness. The tests performed showed no signs of them being aware in any way. They were just supposed to be a shell, a vessel, to extract your essence.”

Eystil took a pause then closed his eyes as if he realized something.

“But I think I understand now. If your soul is strong enough to survive a transfer with only memory loss then a portion of your ‘container’ template must have come been with them. It is impossible to forcibly check another being’s soul for consciousness and only symptoms of having one like monitoring for specific brainwaves would have told me as such, but they showed no signs. I even went beyond the empire’s Test Subject Dignity Regulations to make sure.”

“We are remorseful Lucid.” He looked down solemnly.

“We truly didn’t know.”

You say this but still were experimenting on live subjects! I wanted to sharply retort. I wanted to curse at him, how can such a meek apology make up for the fact that you used human test subjects! How could anyone be fine with using something so human-like with no qualms.

Before I truly let it out I calmed myself again.

Is it a cultural difference I wonder? Are homunculi like the lab mice on Earth. Was it just an unfortunate circumstance that these homunculi where conscious? That would make it my fault?

No.

My mood truly soured even further now I could feel my blood pressure rising remembering all these circumstances I’ve been put into without ever asking for them.

I sighed, ashamed for not controlling my emotions. My words came out harsher than I wanted and I could tell he is being truly honest. If it was a cover then it would be my own fault for misjudging.

“I see… okay. Thanks for coming if I have more questions I’ll call you to come again. I have some insights now and want to process them while they are fresh.”

Eystil took the cue to leave, I sensed a silent release of breath as if pressure had been lifted off of him.

“Until then Lucid.” Eystil bowed and left through the front door. I closed it after him then quickly returned to my seat.

I shook my ahead still angry at this world, mad at myself, mad at everything. Mad that I have the audacity to say I never wanted these circumstances while still fondling thinking about Eurval, Alra, and Eugene. Even the times I spent at the church in the dungeon were nice to think back on. I also can’t deny that I find magic fascinating or that I do enjoy combat. Most importantly the fact that my life didn’t end after the bus accident on Earth.

“My heads so muddled. FUCK! I should lustrate, yes, I should do that.” I consoled myself lustrating paired with meditation always refreshed my mood.

My last mana body was like a warm friend and this one was like a calming protector.

I took out a vial and stared at the glowing liquid in silence twirling the cool glass between my thumb and my fingers.

I made my own sigil… and soon my own completely unique magic…

“Look how far we’ve come,” I said in a low voice before drinking it.

***

Seventh Myriad: Divine Endeavour 00, NF 311

I stood before Frium in the same empty field as we always did, however, the air was different not just because today marked the beginning of the Fall-like change in this hemisphere, I had adjusted the settings to match, but because today there was no rush to fight.

I had qualified to learn the magic portion of Azer’s Essence Art techniques. As to why it only begins now instead of learning it earlier I don’t know.

“Channel your mana through your spear while casting First Snow.”

Recalling the spell I opened a thin channel of mana directing it through my hands into my spear.

—Ring~

A soft bell-like sound chimed as a gentle flurry of snow began to radiate around my weapon.

“Good, you learned it. Reducing the casting time can be fixed with practice. The most important thing right now is keeping the flow of mana stable any variance will destroy the spell and rebound. When you can keep the flow constant under any condition we can move on.”

I had 50 days left and before I leave for the Talent Tournaments and for the past months there have been zero signs so far of anyone scouting this area or entering within a five hundred mile radius so most of my worries over the safety of my children were laid to rest.

Eystil doubted losing one arm of the project was enough to warrant a massive effort to scavenge this forest or the unclaimed lands in general, but I kept vigilance regardless through the use of the estate treasure’s area scanning functions.

And as for the results of the seven-thousand or so hours I’ve poured into the Azer Dragoon technique to show off during the tournaments?

My spear gives a terribly powerful…tiny chill…to anything it touched, absolutely anything. A bit stronger than a surprise ice cube shoved under a shirt for comparison.

I gave a self-deprecating smile at my half-truthed joke. I really am proud of my accomplishments as a novice spearman in terms of combat. Even just saying it makes me happy.

I’m a spearman! A damn spearman! I want to yell out and tell it to everyone and anyone even if in this world it really doesn’t mean much.

I can twirl my massive spear with no fear cutting off my own arms, spin it while transferring behind my back to my other arm like it’s on a string, and most importantly I can fight with it confidently.

Soon my spear will become another limb. They say that at some point dedicated essence art users have an astral form of their weapon with them in their astral forms.

The reason why First Snow’s has a meek appearance is that it isn’t a combat spell, the real use was as body augmenting magic. It cleanses the area around the user warding off curses and strengthened the user. Turning the body into that of pure ice. It was an extremely advanced form of augmenting magic with holy and ice attributes. Just glancing at the spell the first time sent my mind into a daze.

While it isn’t flashy as the first spell it is the most important one because it’s the foundation of the entire Azer Dragoon technique, overwriting the reality of the object combining it with that of ice allows it to further empower all the techniques that come after.

Because of the dangers of overwriting reality of a body, the biggest drawback was any error can cause severe damage, so practicing on a bound weapon is the best way to learn.

“Keep it applied to your spear for the rest of the day. To master this means you can have it passively on you at all times. At worst you’ll master it to the point where you only need to cast it once a day by the end of the month. As a reference, the last time I cast this on myself was over a decade ago.”

The augmenting magic is active right now? She was only slightly more pale than Eystil but nowhere near as pale as I was. Wait why is Eystil so pale…

“Your body is made of ice at this moment?”

“Yes, my from my brain to my nerves they are all ice.” Frium gave a simple nod.

An Ice body, how does that work?

“Do you bleed?” I voiced a thought off the top of my head.

“No, I chip if an attack is strong enough, as long as the augmenting spell is active I can repair myself.”

“What if my head is pulverized or arm is broken?”

“You can repair yourself.”

I eyed her suspiciously.

“How?”

“The ice is just a new physical form you’ve given your astral body, however, because it is unnatural it needs to be sustained with mana. Mana expenditure does rise substantially depending on the injury. If you’re not mindful you may run out of mana and just die.”

But how do bodily functions work? And Eating? I wanted to ask but decided not to. It would more fun as a surprise when I can find out on my own.

“Don’t think you become undying either. Vaporized fast enough even while be full of mana might kill you because the cost would be too great to repair the body from nothing or powerful non-physical attacks can hurt you. But based on what my brother has said you should be fine with defending against soul attacks. Just remember the holy attribute only helps a little towards powerful curses.”

“Now, let’s see how much combat ability you keep while keeping it active. Come, lets spar. I do ask you remember when you get to the point where you cast it on yourself to readjust your strength to compensate for the added power.”

I followed her words and I readied my stance.

“Oh.” I let out a sudden sound as I felt my hands shudder.

The flurry faded and the little frost that had built up melted off my spear. I lost concentration and I don’t even know when…

“Any variance will destroy the cast Lucid much like any complex magic.”

I recast and fell back into my comfortable neutral stance with my spear in both hands. How much would it have hurt just now if I had cast it on myself…

“Starting!” I yelled out.

There was no mad dash to close the distance right off the bat anymore. Instead, I took measured steps walking around in a circle around Frium trying to discern how to go about this bout. Seeing me analyze her Frium followed my eyes taking small movements to turn with me. I’ve graduated from no use of her feet to her just staying in the same spot.

Now! In a quick flash, I arrived before her.

—Bang!

Our spears met again like longtime neighbors greeting each other before their morning commute.

“Shit.” I almost lost the spell again.

“This is going to be harder than I thought.” Just one tap and I accidentally almost blipped in a little extra mana.

Frium seemed to have noticed my tiny moment of hesitation.

“This is normal, come don’t stop.” Frium spoke out while we continued to trade blows.

I moved around her as I fished for an opening. She was on the aggressive side today so I dug around and prod at her sides knowing she wasn’t going to move from her spot.

So clean! Only recently have I truly appreciated how surgical her spear-wielding was. Although she was on the aggressive trying to nick and stab me I couldn’t find a good enough opening.

Her aggressive stance was better than my defensive stances with her not even trying.

—Clink Clink Clink

Every time our spears met they let out a storm of cold. Our sparks were replaced with snow and shards of ice from the reaction of two ice users.

“Does this ice mean your astral form also contains her spear as well?”

While our spears interacted I saw her nod her head.

“You really are a master. I can’t imagine how vast your skill is at only over half a century.”

“OW! Fuck.” I dull pain appeared on my forehead as if it had been flicked with a pipe instead of a finger.

Where did that come from!? I wasn’t able to catch a glimpse as to when the butt of her spear came that close with my limited power.

That was not something at an early intermediate level. Frium said nothing as we continued to spar.

“Why are you sensitive about your age? You’re young. You should be proud.”

“OW! Fuck.”

Another good smack got me square on the head. She gave no response to the question.

Seeing she wasn’t too keen on being reminded I refrained from bringing it up again. At least I learned that although people are young comparatively outright reminding them of their age could still be taken as an offense.

***

Seventh Myriad: Divine Endeavour 50, NF 311

“HAA!”

“GRAAA!”

Our spears smashed together as I went for long wind up heavy blows just because. I was feeling a little bored of the name neutral stance I always did and felt like trying going full aggressive.

Frium seemed to have called my hand and chose the same fighting style.

Now, this is stress relief!

Each blow was loud and hard sending deep vibrations through my chest. This type of fighting style is addicting…

The thunderous roars echoed off the building walls overlapping with the new waves of blows.

“Addicting isn’t it? Using your might can be intoxicating. Hmm, this is a good lesson too. Remember this feeling no battle will be devoid of emotion Lucid with this you might be able to catch yourself in a fit of rage.”

Frium showed a grin as she swung wide.

She’s smiling? Never expected the precise and literal ice-cold Frium to have hot blood in her!

Thinking back to her temperament I should have noticed sooner.

—Clang

Taking a blow to the right thigh I stumbled falling to my left. This ice body truly is wonderful.

I felt no pain and could sense the cracks instantly heal while swallowing up a ton of my mana.

“I’m basically out of mana… from just one blow.”

Frium relaxed and helped me up.

“Your strength is too imbalanced. You haven’t been in this world long enough to develop a large enough mana body and usually, it’s developed alongside essence.”

“I would suggest you avoid taking anything other than fatal blows while having First Snow activated. Take them head-on until you reach twenty no thirty-thousand AM. Maybe just use it on your spear for the added ice slowing effects and the cleansing aura when out on your own.”

I agreed. It would be pathetic if I suddenly lost the life in my ears and became an ice statue. When not in combat I’ll still have it activated to practice for when I do have the minimum amount of mana.

Even with lustrating every day with amazing materials mana is something that is built over time and can’t be forced.

Well, this is good enough for me to finally head to the Talent Tournaments. My first match is in a week and I can keep an eye on the estate through the amulet or just through the conversations with the lucids through that connected space.

***

Chapter 49.5: The Siblings (Eystil POV)

“Are you finished eating? It’s almost time, get your sleep soon.” I said as I looked over to my dear sister eating across from me. Today she returned much more energetic than usual. Like some stress was lifted off her shoulders.

She looked so adorable in deep in thought.

“Hey,” she paused to finish chewing.

Yes, my beautiful angel?

“Doesn’t this remind you of the first months after Sioh took us in?” She said with little effort to cover her food-filled mouth.

I made a confused expression, out early days in the Azer estate were nothing like this. It’s peaceful here.

“This is nowhere near as bad. No beatings, no groveling, no begging for scraps to eat. Did you block that out? Or forget? It’s been half a century but that was over a decade of our early lives.”

I suffered a lot for us and if she can’t remember a single time of abuse then I’m happy but also mad my sacrifice was unnoticed. My sweet princess should know how much her big brother did for her! I grumbled.

“Not in that sense.” My face relaxed as she seemed to understand my expression.

“Remember how much we practiced from morning to midnight back then so we could grow stronger as fast as we could to become advanced disciples.”

So she was referring to that aspect. I ended up taking the brunt of the abuse maybe I’m the one blocking memories out…

My sister continued to speak but painting a deep pink onto her words.

“The estate treasure, the training, the packed schedule I’ve been wondering why I was feeling nostalgia looking around.”

“I can agree I can feel some nostalgia but isn’t it more like our last few years before we left the circle?” I didn’t feel like ruining the mood by disagreeing.

“Actually I noticed the practice sessions have become extremely long, want me to take some of the lessons on? I have time now. I might not be as good as you but I did pick up enough to teach him at this level up to the middle of intermediately skilled.”

My sister shook her head. I wanted to pat it.

I expected this much my cute younger sister she always so hardworking and hated sharing responsibilities with others. It is also why I’ve never told her about the full truth about the treatment of new Azer circle recruits.

“He’s a good pupil, and it is a bit surprising to see how hard he is pushing himself. He has a bit of the do or die energy we, and the newcomers like us had back then. I can see his desperation to improve in each trade.”

Of course, he is desperate! He wants to find his friends. But it was my fault she didn’t understand. Out of fear of her being used and fear of the bad apples in the circle, I sheltered her too much. By the time I realized she was already strong enough to help herself… never making any bonds through experiences like suffering together with others.

“He wants to rescue his world’s people that the empire summoned including his friends, of course, he’s putting his all.”

“At least he was understanding enough that we didn’t know his kin where suffering. I thought they were all basically brain dead. It’s what my scans said too. Yet they can all talk, think, and walk around now. I would have never imagined.”

But I can only blame myself. It was my own incompetence that brought this injustice and the situation after upon us.

If I had known I would have chosen a different method…

But that’s hindsight, maybe at the time I didn’t want to change my methods so I never pushed for further tests as to not fall behind in progress.

“Well, we’re paying for my actions now so there is no point in feeling any more guilty than we do. He made an oath to free us once he completes, or fails, his goals it’s not so bad compared to the oath with Sioh that forced us to master our respective techniques if we wanted to leave and the see the outside world again. We also get to keep most of our privacy and freedom which was the most surprising.”

Frium said nothing as she played with the few vegetables stood up and threw another lamb rack on her plate.

Did I dampen the mood with talk about our hand in the automated genocide?

I could read her easily because I felt the same. We felt a mix of feelings towards Lucid hopping from guilt to pity.

We expected him to hold a grudge but so far his treatment has been more than fair enough for our position which made us feel more guilty for what we did.

The pity was because of the extreme schedule he placed on himself, sleep replacement pills hadn’t been developed yet when we trained. However, most of the pity came from the obvious fact that he is doing what he’s doing completely alone and from the small scraps of data of Earth’s culture we have he should be quite young…

I wonder what made him so extremely paranoid too even when we’ve tried to genuinely connect to this kid he shuts it down. There is only so much we can do and I’m not going to make it my life’s goal to become his friend either.

The conversation hit a lull as we both sunk into thoughts about the future once Lucid fails or succeeds.

“Sometimes I wonder how it’ll be if we go back?”

Frium broke the silence.

“Do you think we’ll be hunted and exiled. Maybe we have to become speculants again.”

If that was the case then she was saddened about how much she would miss our home kingdom and the home we built within the empire. Our friends and family won’t have any idea what happened to us… They didn’t even know how high within the ranks of the empire we were due to confidentiality agreements.

Both of our lives became twisted in a single moment, this was a major source of frustration and anger. We felt when everything about our future was unknown luckily Lucid wasn’t some sadistic psycho. We’ve accepted it and realized helping Lucid here is our just desserts and form of atonement.

“We can’t tell anyone what really happened either once we’re free because of the oath. I had a dream where we go back elated to return only to see all our friends and family waiting for us out with eyes full of hatred chasing us out just like how the main family did when mother died…”

“Was it the nightmares caused during the leadwood fog leakage?”

Frium shut her eyes after I reminded her of the small hiccup in the construction.

“A dream that’s more than just a dream more akin to a curse.”

I could only agree I experienced a nightmare on a similar level witnessing Lucid and his kin viciously attack my sister while I stood watching unable to do anything. The screams…

“Those were just dreams that used your innermost worries to try and fragment your soul. It’s hard to not take them seriously but you have to remember that they were not real.”

If it wasn’t for Lucid snapping us out of the dreams we would have truly died. I wonder what dream he broke out of…

Watching the mood dampen some more I decided to lift the subject with some interesting news.

“Remember when you said you wanted to see the Black Continent once I finished with my work with the empire? We could go there…”

In actuality, I had already prepared various plans in secret for our return one of them, in fact, was leaving for the Black Continent if the inevitable investigation when we return looks like it’s going badly for us.

The Black Continent is a place known for its abundance of rare materials and massive dungeons. A chance to easily recollect our wealth and this time with no luck. There we would be free from the jurisdiction of the Niefule Empire.

I’ve had many friends go there after having run-ins with the law and decide to stay there.

The Black Continent is lawlessness place. A byproduct of greed. That isn’t to say it’s a dark and seedy place. Its atmosphere is civilized and light, on the surface at least. While no cities are controlled by a single person there are thriving mega-cities with no real ruler or government.

“The journey there could be fun too…” Frium said finally sounding a bit happy while, cutely, scratching her fork on the bits of food left on her plate.

“You still sound sad? What are you angry that your one pupil is going to be him? Lately, I’ve noticed you’ve been more and more enthusiastic to go teach him.”

“No, it’s not that. I mean at first I was a bit bitter but after seeing him put in the work and watching him slowly grow I guess it is not bad that my one will be him.”

I’m surprised she isn’t mad. The Azer Dragoon technique is one of a kind even I wasn’t allowed to learn it because I didn’t show enough talent. Each practitioner can only teach one person, the exception is Azer of course.

In actuality, the only reason I was able to learn anything from the circle was that it was Frium’s condition. It was both of us be accepted into Azer’s circle or she wouldn’t go. I didn’t show talent like my cute little sister for any essence art but was allowed to be taught one of the few magic styles Azer created.

“Then what?”

Frium drew in a breath and sat up straight and stared directly at me. Seeing her change her seating position I grew a little worried.

“If we do go to the Black Continent it’ll be extremely dangerous just the two of us. Even once we go there we don’t have a clear picture of what to expect or how to rebuild.”

I gave a half-smile slightly understanding what she meant. I felt a similar trepidation about leaving for such a dangerous trip. But I’m not her big brother for nothing I, Eystil, have already covered those areas.

“You’re thinking too much, besides I’m already making preparations for our life once we’re freed.”

Her eyes bulged wide.

“You’re what!? Eystil that’s dangerous!”

It is dangerous if one doesn’t know what they are doing, but she wasn’t one to understand the deeper intricacies of magic. My dear sister isn’t much of a schemer nor has ever been very good at socializing.

Feeling the need to lift her spirits as her older brother I decided to spill one of my plans.

“I’ve secured two spots with an old colleague traveling to the Black Continent. Do you remember Yuthela?”

My sister’s eyes narrowed she didn’t have a good impression of her. Yuthela was an old friend of mine who had a very aloof personality. More importantly, Yuthela’s power was directly against Niefule’s way of life, a necromancer a defier of fate. Their personalities didn’t mesh in the least.

“That tiny girl with the black hair and pink skull mask grimoire?” She spoke with a cute snarky tone.

“That’s her, I found her renting a space at Dreamers. The group she’s with are leaving for the Black Continent in ten years but said that for me they would be flexible and wait another quick one or two more.”

“Oh? She’s taking refugee at Dreamers?” She said with a slight smile.

“Who is she running from?”

It seemed this news gave her back her energy as she got up and began washing her own dishes.

“The Empire, she got mixed up in some illegal necromancy research. She says it’s a rival circle using it as a guise to steal her work, but you know she’s always been a bit ditz when it comes to checking legal things. So she wants to leave until the time limitations to try case are up and come back.”

Plus maybe she can become friends with her or the other travelers with us bonding through the dangers of getting there.

“An entire generation, a hundred years… well for us it’s probably the same if we get exiled so it isn’t bad at all. Lucid should have failed or succeeded by then? You’ve said he has three. We might even have time to make a little money before we go if we do.”

I thought back to the truthful but choice words I said to Lucid earlier in the year. I expected to have figured out a better timeline for me and my sister’s future plans from that conversation but I was left with nothing new. I wanted to confirm that we would be free from Lucid by then.

Maybe he might even decide to finally open up to us and see us off with a smile, and maybe a gift of a vial of his essence, but I won’t try to manipulate or force him.

We, us two and the empire, have done enough to him already.

“I’m going to bed.” I watched my sister shake a pill into her hand and walk towards her room.

Success!

If I can’t raise her spirits as an older brother I don’t deserve the title of an older brother!

—Ding Dong

Both of us froze in place.

“Is that our door?” Frium looked at me.

“I think so…” I got up and switched to the camera feed in my MAGI.

“I-it’s Lucid…” A wave of confusion showed on our faces.

He’s never visited us before. What the hell is this curveball has he had enough of being alone?

I slowly opened the door sending a pleasant smile to the youngster.

“Lucid? Is something the matter?”

“May I come in?” He said so nonchalantly.

“Sure.” Frium and I looked at each other again.

I led him to the living room feeling unease at how bizarre it felt to have him inside our apartment.

“Would you like something to drink? Tea? Water?”

“No, it’ll be quick. I have a simple request.”

A request? Why come all the way here aren’t you younger than us just send a text or call.

Frium and I sat together slightly to the side of him.

“I need you to transport me to Obsense City.”


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