Chapter 3: The Last Metatrin (Part 2)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
However, Saleen reacted very quickly. He widened his eyes and shouted, “Mage! You are a mage!”
His voice revealed excitement coupled with fear. He had nearly swallowed the last few words back into his throat.
Saleen had never thought that a mage would ever appear before him. Ceylon City had not seen a mage for over two hundred years, and everyone would have known of their existence if there had been one.
Mages represented mystery, power, fear, and distance. Normal people did not have the opportunity to encounter mages; only noblemen, emperors, the army and the wealthy, etc. would have the honor of being acquainted with mages.
Mages were very wealthy people. While they chose to live in isolation from others, they possessed great powers. A single mage could destroy an entire city. Mages did not even need to bow before the emperor…
In other words, mages were living legends. They built magical towers and practiced inside of them. There were no limits to their power. Even if there was a war, all armies, regardless of the forces they possessed, would need to detour around magical towers. If a nobleman won a mage’s favor and gained the opportunity to support them, his status would be elevated immediately.
Saleen was confused. He astutely understood that the appearance of this mage would change his life, but he was unsure how to seize the chance. Should he ask for more money? Would it incur the mage’s displeasure?
Gold coins! Gold coins! Bread…
“How about a hundred gold coins? I shall buy you a small house in town which will be sufficient for you to live in.” The mage looked at the child with pity. Saleen’s body was so thin that a person could count the number of ribs he had. There was also a bruise on his ribs, which made him look even more pitiful.
Saleen doubled over from the weight of the hundred gold coins. He almost wanted to agree immediately, but the pain in his ribs suddenly struck, and he took a deep breath of cold air, frowned, and bent over further.
“Oh, let me take a look.” The mage held Saleen with one hand and used the other hand to release a spell. A shiny green glow shrouded Saleen’s body.
Saleen felt as though he had been submerged in warm water. The green glow penetrated his skin, and the pain in his body disappeared.
A thought entered Saleen’s head, and like the temptation of the devil, it could not be dispelled.
“I do not want the gold coins!” Saleen straightened his body and said, “Mage sir, please accept me as your student.”
Saleen did not know how to salute, so he raised his head and looked straight into the mage’s eyes. In that moment, he was overcome by nervousness. What would the mage’s reaction be? Would he think that Saleen had insulted the profession of a mage, and turn hostile and kill him instead?
The mage’s dark eyes deepened. They looked bright like obsidian, as though there were more veins within them. He looked at Saleen thoughtfully. “You would like to be my student?”
“Yes. I would like to learn magic,” Saleen said resolutely. Despite his fear, the pain in his ribs had stirred his heart. There was no use in selling the house for a lot of money, as it would be depleted one day if he did not have any survival skills. If he met with bandits, it was possible that he would even lose his life.
“It is difficult to learn magic.” The mage prevented Saleen from interrupting him and continued, “Nine out of ten can become students of magic, but only one or two out of a hundred can become mages. Students of magic do not have strong powers; it can only be a means of livelihood. If you become my student, you will not be allowed to switch occupations without my permission.”
Saleen kneeled down on the floor with a thump. Bending his head down, he said, “I am willing to be your student.” He tried hard not to use unrefined words, but had learned to include honorifics.
“Get up.” The mage’s voice turned icy. He said with a firm tone, “Even apprentices of magic should not go down on their knees.”
“You must remember: if you are to be my student, this shall be the last time in your life that you are on your knees.”
“Yes, Teacher.” Saleen stood up with joy, for he knew that this meant that the mage had agreed to his request.
“What is your name, and how old are you?” The mage’s voice softened.
“I am Saleen, Saleen Metatrin. I am twelve years old,” Saleen replied respectfully, but disappointingly, his stomach rumbled.
The mage smiled. “Go get changed and eat something. I will be waiting in the living room.”
“Okay,” Saleen promised and sped upstairs. He returned to his room, put on his jacket, and headed down the stairway to the kitchen. The half-packet of old rice was still there on the stove. He opened the oil-paper packet, grabbed a handful of rice, and stuffed it into his mouth.
“You are eating this?” the mage’s voice boomed at the doorway. Saleen jumped in fright. He froze in embarrassment, not knowing what to say. The mage sighed, took out a piece of meat jerky, and handed it to Saleen. Saleen’s tears, unable to remain in his eyes for even one more second, streamed down his face.
He used his sleeve to wipe away his tears. Instead of eating the meat jerky, he told the mage, “Teacher, I will not cry in future, lest I bring you shame.”
The mage watched wordlessly as the youth shed tears while wolfing down his food. In reality, given his status, even if he were to be gifted ten thousand gold coins, he may not have been moved enough to accept a student. But when he had first seen Saleen, he had immediately been unable to bear it. There had been no life in Saleen’s eyes; they had only showed the hopelessness of someone on the verge of death.
The mage did not have Saleen do anything. He took out more meat jerky and bread, and put them in the kitchen. Saleen did not know how these items were conjured, but he had no doubts, for in his heart, the mage was omnipotent.
The mage had Saleen rest first. He watched as Saleen got onto the bed before casting a Hypnosis spell. Saleen’s eyes closed and he immediately fell into a deep sleep.
When he opened his eyes next, he felt hungry again.
The mage’s voice was heard, “Take a look around you to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, then come to the living room.”
Like mystical magic, this sound was delivered directly into his ears, neither soft nor loud. Saleen sighed as he jumped off the bed. His shoes were almost dry. He put on his shoes and found that his room had an additional door. The interior of the house had also changed – there was a table and chair, as well as a cabinet. On the cabinet was an enormous dressing mirror.
The whole room looked as if it had been cleaned, not a single speck of dust to be found. The furniture was not new; there was a mattress, and a quilt and pillow had been added to the bed. Having slept like a log, he had not detected anything amiss. When he opened the door, he saw that the corridor was unusually spotless. A few of the rooms now had doors attached to them, and there were some paintings on the wall. Everything was like when his parents had still been alive. Saleen had the urge to cry again, but this time, he resisted.
There were eight rooms on the second story – four large ones and four small ones. The one Saleen owned, at the end of the corridor, was small. He looked through all of the rooms. The four large rooms had been completely transformed into study rooms, while one of the three smaller ones was a bedroom. The doors of the other two rooms could not be opened.
What had surprised Saleen was that the entire floor of the second story had been renovated. The doors and windows had been repaired, and numerous mysterious symbols had been added to them. The walls appeared to have been repainted as well, and even the ceilings were clean, with not a single spider in sight.
The house had become unfamiliar. Saleen walked down the stairway uneasily. There was furniture in the main hall of the first story, and the kitchen was filled with kitchenware. Saleen did not venture into the basement. He went to the living room, and pushed the door open. Although he had mentally prepared himself, he gasped in surprise at the completely transformed living room.
A huge table, made from some unknown material, had been placed at the center of the living room. On the rectangular table were many tools of all shapes and sizes which Saleen did not recognize. There was also a crucible burning a black flame. There was a chair near the table, and the few cabinets against the wall were filled with things.
There was not a single item that Saleen recognized. He only saw mysterious symbols everywhere. There was a chandelier hanging from the ceiling, but under its soft glow, there were no shadows to be seen.
The mage raised his head and said gently, “Saleen, you are awake. Fix yourself something to eat and we shall speak after.”
“Teacher, please speak first. I am not hungry yet,” Saleen primly stood by the table, anxiety in his heart.
“Alright, then I shall speak first. My name is Jason Statham. I am of the Qin Empire, and a grade-5 mage. I am unable to give you, my student, much guidance, as I do not have that much time. First, I will impart to you reading magic. This is a level-0 magic, and if you can master this, then I will impart to you the method of meditation. After that, you will be able to read books on magic by yourself to gain knowledge on magic. Before you become a grade-10 apprentice, I will not give you any additional guidance.”
“Grade-10 apprentice?” Saleen asked cautiously. He did not know what “grade-10 apprentice” referred to.
“There are ten grades to being an apprentice of magic. At the apprentice stage, you can only master level-0 magic. Level-0 magic does not require the use of magic chords for the magic to be cast. As long as you have sufficient mental power and corresponding affinity with the elements, you will be fine. The level of your mental power determines your ability to control magic, while your affinity with the elements determines how many sets of spells you will be able to release consecutively. Should one of these not be satisfactory, you will not be able to become a real mage.”
“How does one advance?”
“A grade-1 apprentice can continuously release two sets of level-0 magic; a grade-2 apprentice can continuously release four sets of magic, and so on. When you are able to release twenty sets of level-0 magic, I will then guide you on how to become a mage. Alright, I shall now impart to you the first set of level-0 magic,” the mage said. He recited a spell with a strange sounding rhythm.
“Follow this, and you will be able to learn the characters and magic knowledge from books.” Jason recited the spell repeatedly as Saleen followed along over and over.
After three rounds, Saleen was not only able to recite the spell without missing a word, but he had also mastered the hand gestures.
“Alright, go ahead and practice this on your own. When you have succeeded, I will impart to you the method of meditation. After that, you can read the books that I have prepared for you. Start from the first room and do not go to the next room until you have finished all the books in that room.”
“Yes, Teacher,” Saleen bowed, just as a person did in Ceylon City when they were meeting with a noble.
Mage Jason shook his head, and made a mental note to revisit the matter of etiquette in future. He did not correct Saleen’s behavior this time and waved his hand, indicating for Saleen to take his leave.
Saleen left and walked to the kitchen briskly. He found the box in which the rice had once been stored. He was famished, so he simply grabbed the meat jerky now hanging there and happily ate it along with white bread and water.
As he ate, he recalled the magic he had just learned. He had found neither the spell nor the hand gestures difficult to master, especially the spell, which he had committed to memory after repeating it just once. The subsequent two times had been to correct his pronunciation. It appeared that he did have talent; at the very least, he was not stupid. At this thought, Saleen felt that his future was indeed bright.