"The magic community is like a separate society, and just like any society it has a clear hierarchy. First there is normal people.
Anyone is capable of using chore magic, but their range barely reaches two metres (2.2 yards) and are incapable of executing any complex task. They are not even considered people. Most mages refer to them as cattle.
Then comes those like you, that can use all the six elements, can perform complex tasks with magic, but lack a proper magical education.
They are referred to as magico (males) or magica (female) and are the real grassroots of the magical community, from which mages can expect a magically talented offspring.
Even if it's considered uncommon, a magica can sometimes be accepted by a magic academy and become a full-fledged magician, like it happened to me.
A magico usually becomes a medicine man in a village or city, depending on his talent. A magico becoming a magician is even more uncommon, but far from rare.
Terms like mage, witch, sorceress, warlock are all just different words that identify someone that managed to enrol in a magic academy and complete the five years course necessary to be recognized as a true member of the magic community.
At that point, one has just to follow his ambitions. You can become the personal mage of a noble, I you enjoy life at Court. Others choose to devote their whole life to study magic or create specific artifacts.
As long as you don't do anything to contribute actively to the development of the Kingdom or the Mage Association, you'll only remain just a mage, no matter how powerful you are or what you accomplish with your experiments.
Remember, no mage can be forced to share his/her spells or discoveries in the magic field. Not even the King himself can openly violate this rule.
But what you keep for yourself has no worth for society, hence it gives you no merits.
Only by sharing your knowledge or by using it to perform tasks from which the Kingdom or the Magic Association take great benefit, you can be elevated to the status of archmage.
They are for the mages what dukes and marquises are for the nobles.
And finally, there is the Magus. A Magus is someone whose power is equal only to his outstanding merits toward the community and the knowledge he shared with the Magical Association.
A Magus usually ensures to those who come after him a deeper understanding of magic, and the means to achieve better foundations than their predecessors.
A Magus is a King to mages, and a god to men. Very rarely there has been more than one. Whenever any country has two or more Magi, it's considered to be in its golden age, everything becomes possible."
Lith was far from impressed.
"Basically, is just a fancy title that some old fogey forces on you after milking you dry. I don't know if by becoming a Magus I would feel just sad or simply lose all my self-respect."
"You insolent whelp!" Nana was outraged by such disrespect. "Without Magi like Lochra and their legacies, people like me would never get the chance to pass the entrance exam of any academy, no matter how small or insignificant.
It would remain a privilege for those with an outstanding talent, or that come from noble or magic families.
Simply by writing that book, she willingly sacrificed a great advantage she had over all the rest of her peers!"
Lith shook his head.
"I see it differently, Master. In my opinion, you do have an outstanding talent. If in the past even those gifted like you wouldn't be accepted, in the long term this would have led the magical community to dwindle, if not to completely disappear.
Being born in a wealthy or talented family only gives you more resources and schooling, but the talent is decided at birth.
Hence Lochra must have written that book not out the goodness of her heart, but to correct a dangerous flaw in the magical community. It's true that magic allows to beat quantity with quality, but there is still strength in numbers.
Without people like you, maybe even like me, there wouldn't be enough new blood, and magic would sooner or later disappear. This is the reason why I can't see her book as a gift. She needed us, and badly."
Nana opened her mouth to rebuke Lith, but stopped halfway. She pondered a while before speaking again.
"Dammit, Lith, whatever your mother fed you with as a baby, I wish I had it too when I had your age. I never looked at it from this perspective, yet I can already sense enough truth behind your words to not dismiss them as child babble."
She sighed deeply with regret.
"I wish I was so profound back in my days. I would have avoided so many stupid mistakes."
"Yeah, sure." Lith thought. "A over thirty years old man that comes from Earth and is not able to see that much would be a complete idiot. Scholarship here or on Earth are the same.
Either a way for the rich to get rid of some of their sense of guilt for being filthy rich, or the manifestation of their fears.
The fear of not having a doctor, a lawyer or any professional help when they need it. If just having an offspring would suffice for their needs, they would have closed the schools centuries ago."
The door of Nana's waiting room opened, the first client of the day had arrived.
"Time to make some money. Do you have any other questions from the foreword?" She tried being sarcastic, but was still dwelling on Lith's words, so she lacked the proper tone.
"Only one. I may need to take notes. Is there anything I could use to write?"
"But off course." After confirming that the woman and child that just entered the waiting room simply needed a medical check, Nana asked them politely to wait for a minute or two.
Nana and Lith got back to her study room, where she gave him a big, thick book with a red hard cover. Its pages were completely blank.
"This will be your first grimoire. Treasure it dearly. Paper is rare and expensive by nature. It's sold by weight, and it's more precious than silver."
Lith was stunned by such news. The book was twenty-seven centimetres (10.7 inches) long, seventeen centimetres (6.7 inches) large and three centimetres (1.2 inches) thick. It was huge.
"I-I…" Lith stuttered for the second time in his new life. "I don't know what to say. I can't believe you would do such a thing for me, it must have costed you a fortune. I'm deeply moved." A tear appeared on the back of his eyes.
Nana laughed heartily.
"Oh! Oh! Oh! So wise yet so naïve. You bet I wouldn't! Money doesn't grow on trees. If it were for me, a few pages would have sufficed, little imp."
The warmth in his heart died as quickly as it had appeared.
"Then who do I have to thank for it?"
"Count Lark, who else? That noble is a magic enthusiast, he sent it to me as soon as he was informed of your apprenticeship. Now more studying and less flapping your gums. You are here to learn magic, not to chat!"
Nana left in a hurry, hoping to avoid her waiting room getting clogged up with patients.
Lith sat back behind the desk and resumed reading. Most of the contents of Lochra's book were old news to him. He had discovered them by himself through countless trial and error experiments.
He could only sigh in regret.
"If only I had this book as soon as I was reborn. I wonder how powerful I would be today."
Whenever Lith would find something noteworthy, he would write it down in his grimoire. Lith could not trust his bad handwriting, so he would dip his finger into the inkwell and then use water magic to spread the ink on the page, and then to dry it.
The result was a whole page written with an outstanding calligraphy, even copying illustrations when necessary, in perfect English. All in just a second.
"Ah ah ah!" Lith inwardly laughed. "I don't need a secret code. I am the only one that speaks English in this world. My secrets are safe with my grimoire."
"They would be safe either way. Don't forget my pocket dimension." Solus chimed in.
"One more layer of protection never hurts. There is no such thing as too careful."
Lith found the sections about fire, water, air and earth quite bland. He already knew almost everything written in the book, but he read carefully every word.
Nana allowed him to read only until lunchtime, then he was forced to go back home and resume his previous routine, switching the hunting time from morning to afternoon.
It took him three days to get to the juicy part. Lith was aware that being a self-taught, light and dark magic were his weakest subjects. They were the only two elements that didn't exist on Earth, after all.
He spent a whole week on the light and darkness section, taking countless notes and finally understanding how shallow and rough was his mastery over those elements.
"Amazing, simply amazing. It never ceases to impress me how profound is Lochra's understanding of light and darkness. Her description of the mana flow in the patient's body is just peerless. I would have never thought of that on my own.
Only now I finally understand why she wrote about them in the same section. Light and darkness are not separate elements, but two sides of the same coin. Darkness is of paramount importance for healing diseases and congenital conditions.
Once I have fully absorbed all this new knowledge, I might even be able to cure Tista for good. If I really manage to do that, I will rethink my view about being a Magus."
Lith read that section again and again, until he became certain to have not missed anything. His magic power hadn't increased much, but his comprehension was now on another level for all the six elements.
Lith was sure he would be able to achieve even stronger foundations, also improving his spirit and fusion magic. But with his confidence, also new doubts arose.
"The more I learn the less it makes sense. How is it possible that with all this knowledge in her hands Nana didn't manage to cure Tista over the years?
Why she needed both hand signs and a magic word to kill Baronet Trahan and his son? A finger snap should have sufficed."
Lith decided to postpone those question until he had fully understood Lochra's book. Maybe he was missing some key element, or maybe it wasn't as easy as it appeared.
Nana was delighted learning that he had finished the whole book in just a week, and immediately gave him his first tier one magic spell book.
"Let's see if you are good at practicing magic as you are with its theory."
Lith took the book from her hands, treating it like a precious gemstone that could easily break. He walked solemnly to his desk, opening the book full of anticipation.
He would have never imagined to be disappointed to such a extent.
"What the f*cking f*ck is this? Is this how a spell book is supposed to look like?"
"By my core, what is this cr*p?" Solus cursed for the first time in her life.
Both Lith and Solus were too flabbergasted to make any further comment. So, they closed the book, re-opened it again, discovering it was unchanged.
They had expected for it to be filled with instructions about how to manipulate the mana flow in the mage's body, how to better connect with the world energy to obtain spells whose power was incomparable to those they already knew.
Instead all they found was an odd mix of a spelling book and a hand signs instruction manual. Not to mention that they already knew all of those tier one spells, just with different names that Lith had invented over time.
"Blasting Sphere is just a Fireball, Piercing Ice is identical to my Frost Lance, if not worse."
Lith did go back to the foreword, noticing that this book had not been written by a Magus, and was just a collection of the most common spells.
By reading the instructions for Blasting Sphere, Lith noticed how the author stressed out the importance of executing the hand signs in the proper order with precise movements.
Even the magic word was split into syllables, to help the student learn the correct pronunciation and accent. After skimming through the whole book, Lith couldn't find any mention of how to perform them with silence magic.
Becoming more and more confused, Lith went to Nana for advice.
"I'm sorry Lith, I had forgot how frustrating and painful is going from the simple and easy silent chore magic to the much more complex real magic. Only tier zero magic can be silently cast. All the superior tiers of magic require both hand signs and proper spelling of the magic word."
Lith's head was spinning so fast he had to sit down for a moment.
"This makes no sense at all." He thought. "I use silent magic with my ice spears and fireballs all the time. I wouldn't be alive otherwise."
Then a sudden thought erupted in his mind.
"Maybe I am special, after all. Maybe I use a different kind of magic because I came from Earth. Maybe I am some sort of chosen one!" Lith was both scared and flattered at the idea.
"None of the above." Solus words abruptly doused his enthusiasm.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence. Much appreciated. What's your explanation then?"
Lith could feel Solus's mind spinning so fast that it was hard for him to follow her reasoning.
"If my hypothesis is correct, then you, like Lochra Silverwing and all the other past and present Magus, are one of the few people in this world to actually use true magic."