Chapter 7: The Mage’s Principle (Part 2)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Thank you, Teacher,” said Saleen with a heart full of joy. He picked up the bags of money and returned to his room, putting the bags of money and the Qin Empire bank notes into the box which still contained the outdated collection slips, documents, and his family badge. Saleen tried to stuff the money into the box but felt that it was not right, so he took it out again, unsure of where to place it.
After wavering for a short while, Saleen felt that he was being a little ridiculous. What thief would dare sneak into the house with Jason around?
Recalling how his teacher had released one spell after another at the city guard department without chanting, Saleen felt his excitement mounting. If he was able to do the same, no one would dare harass him!
Magic was the only principle in this world. Those who possessed abilities in magic were above the law.
At the thought of this, Saleen could not sit still. He put the money on top of his bed and headed to a room containing magic books.
Looking at the rows of bookshelves in the room, Saleen was impatient and wanted to read each and every book there. He walked to the back and stood before the shelf containing the level-0 magic books.
The shelf for level-0 magic was the largest, and yet it did not have the largest number of spells. There were less spells than there were in level-1 magic. Despite this, there were four books to a series titled “Principles of Level-0 Magic”, and each was extremely thick.
Saleen took a book and sat himself down on the ground. Leaning against the shelf, he began reading.
Reading magic, illumination magic, burning magic, detection magic, poison detection, invisible shield…
Reading on, Saleen was a little overwhelmed. He realized that without the support of a theoretical system, he did not even know how to decide on what to learn. As he leaned on the bookshelves in a daze, Saleen felt like he had lost control. Even if a person was eager to increase their strength, they could not be overly ambitious. His teacher had asked that he conduct his learning in order. If he skipped over his foundation, it might cause unknown issues in future.
At this thought, Saleen placed “Principles of Level-0 Magic” back onto the bookshelf, returned to the beginning, and started to gather basic knowledge on magic in a systematic manner.
Magic was categorized into six types, but in practical terms, when learning magic, most people conducted their learning according to its uses. The six types included the attack series, protection series, therapy series, alchemy series, potions series, and one other type. In addition to the six types, there was also the summon series, which was not a popular form of magic. It had originated in recent times, beginning no more than ten thousand years ago, but it had declined some five thousand years ago. The deployment of each magic spell had three stages – the preparatory stage, the completion stage, and the release stage.
The preparatory stage referred to the chanting of spells, use of gestures, pooling of elements, and resonance of magic – all of which required the mage’s use of their mental power to control. With practice, the mage could shorten the time needed to prepare their magic by chanting silently and omitting the hand gestures.
The completion stage referred to the spell being formed and readied for deployment. This stage could be extended. The mage could keep the prepared spell on standby while preparing a second spell to achieve an intensive attack. For example, after a mage had prepared a Fireball spell, they could choose not to deploy it while preparing a second Fireball spell. When the second Fireball spell was ready, they could deploy both at the same time. This skill was known as double release, and was a method commonly used by mages to magnify their attacks.
Similarly, double release required the mage to have powerful mental power. Without strong control, the mage could cause severe harm to themselves if the elements emerged in a disorderly manner.
The release stage was about more than just the deployment of a prepared spell. This stage comprised of locking onto the target, the final cutting of the elements, and time control.
These three parts all relied on mental power to be completed, with locking onto the target being the most basic ability. Without tracking abilities, a mage was no different from an archer. The final cutting of the elements was the key to expending the spell. Without this ability, the mage’s expenditure would always be at the maximum. Lacking good control, a grade-1 mage could use up their magic chords by simply releasing two level-1 spells instead of the usual twelve.
Time control referred to the continuous control that was exerted while magic was being released, allowing the magic to complete its release at the most appropriate time. This skill was also known as level-2 execution. Senior mages could skillfully use level-2 execution to control the momentum of the battle. Similarly, level-2 execution was also used in the making of magic scrolls and alchemy.
Mastery of these abilities was the absolute minimum for one to be a qualified mage.
Saleen also understood that the values of the basic attributes of each spell were not fixed.
Execution time, execution distance, and energy units were three variable components. The execution time of a spell was not measured in seconds, but in frames. Each frame was equivalent to one-sixtieth of a second.
Instant execution was not done at a speed of zero frames, but at a speed of two frames. While it was commonly said that magic was instantaneous, this essentially meant that it took two frames for the three stages to be completed – preparatory, completion and release – which was two-sixtieths of a second. No matter how powerful a mage was, they could not compress this time further.
The cause of the zero frame illusion had been the double release, meaning that a mage would not release a spell after it had been completed, but would store it for release at the same time as the second spell. Basically, the post-completion release stage of this spell took place concurrently with the release of the second spell. This required the mage to have resilient mental power.
Such a skill was considered high order control, which was a very dangerous action.
Saleen read on, and realized that he had indeed been ignorant to have thought that magic was merely a powerful means of attack. He had never imagined that the basic knowledge of magic would be so complicated. If he did not put in the effort to learn it well, his future progress would be unusually problematic.
Without this basic knowledge, not only would the abilities of a mage be confined, but they would also be unable to judge the abilities of others.
One would not be able to determine whether the numerical value for the execution time should be at its minimum or maximum, the numerical conversion between the execution distance and the power of the attack, the relationship between units of energy and the cutting of elements, and so on…
Senior mages could make the calculations instantly to determine the effects of their releases of magic instead of leaving things to fate.
Control! The power of magic depended on control!
Saleen patiently read on and began to acquire mathematical knowledge such as how to calculate these magic formulae. This mathematical knowledge was critical to the creation of a magic array.
In a flash, another three months had passed. Saleen, aside from taking his meals and relieving himself, had essentially not stepped out of the room. As he carried on, he began to feel depressed. His intellect and mental strength were perfect, but his affinity to the elements was lacking. If his affinity to the elements had just been of normal standard, it would have been sufficient for him to have been an outstanding mage.
It was evident that where affinity to the elements was concerned, he was useless. This made it very difficult for him to form magic chords. Without magic chords, all of these were simply castles in the air.
A year passed, and Saleen was only at the standard of a grade-1 apprentice with the abilities of a grade-2 apprentice. He had learned five types of level-0 magic, namely Reading Magic, Poison Detection, Acid Sputtering, Flame Combustion, and Blending of Elements. He had mastered the method of meditation, and through meditation, he could quickly restore the loss of magical elements.
The reason for this outcome was because the amount of magical elements that had been deposited into Saleen’s body were too small. Even while relying on self-healing and not doing anything, he needed ten minutes to recover.
What was the use of having three types of level-0 magic? Nothing could be achieved with them. Rather than have him use magic during battle, it would be more beneficial to give Saleen a knife instead. At the very least, after a year of being nursed back to health, Saleen’s body was much healthier. Although he still looked thin and weak, his strength had, in fact, increased.
Since the food previously delivered by the red-headed swordsman had been finished off, Saleen needed to go into the city again. Now, he no longer harbored the ridiculous thoughts he had half year ago of exquisite clothes, trendy hairstyles, and nice horse carriages. Such things were all so stupid and ridiculous when mages were concerned. Knowledge was the only thing that mages relied on.
Wearing the comical robe and black boots that Jason had bought for him, Saleen bid farewell to Jason before leaving the ancestral house. Jason had given him two bags of gold coins totalling one hundred pieces as well as a list of items to buy. Mages’ experiments required large quantities of low-grade materials, and Jason’s laboratory was perpetually in operation. His basic materials had almost been exhausted within a year.
Ceylon City was a port city where items from overseas could be ordered, and it took only a week to receive the goods. This was why Jason had chosen to remain here in a relatively remote place where one could still buy necessities. Entering Ceylon City again, this dilapidated city looked completely different in Saleen’s eyes. Having spotted Saleen on the road from afar, the soldiers guarding the city hastily straightened up.
The soldiers at the city gate were affiliated with the House of the Lord, and were not linked to the city guard department.
The two soldiers’ expressions were a mix of wariness, envy, jealousy, and fear; they immediately put on fawning smiles.
“Master Metatrin, good morning!”
Saleen nodded, not knowing how to reply. To be honest, soldiers from the House of the Lord were much better than those from the city guard department. In the past, when he had visited the city, they had not made things difficult for him. He had been like a mass of air with no scent. As long as he did not request otherwise, no one had noticed him.
Master Metatrin? Half a year ago, Saleen probably would have been pleased. After the incident with the city guard department, Saleen had become more mature and understood that these people feared his teacher, a grade-5 mage who would make their heads explode.
Saleen followed the sunshine and walked along the road leading to the pier. There was a long street in front of the pier lined with all kinds of shops. Ceylon City’s only equipment store was situated here. As Saleen entered the store, he nearly collided with a youth.
The youth opposite to Saleen was about the same age as him. He seemed to have been frightened and nearly fell, but caught himself in time. Although Saleen was just an apprentice of magic, his mental power was comparable to that of a real mage. With keen perception, he realized that the youth’s hand was touching his money bag.
It was a well-concealed hand. Saleen was amused; it must have been an unlucky year for him to have bumped into a thief the moment he was out.
He gently nudged the hand, and a flash of fire pressed onto the juvenile’s hand. The youth felt a sharp pain on the back of his hand, as though he had been scalded by a hot rod. He was stunned and gave a sudden shout, “Is that you, Saleen?”