The Day After
Shizuka wiped her eyes, the sleepiness still clear in her expression as she yawned. Opening them she found herself in the armoury corridor once more, having been woken up early by Erik who walked ahead.
She followed him, trying to keep herself awake as she did. She hadn’t caught much sleep, her change keeping her mind busy with questions. Questions she now found the courage to ask.
“Erik…” She felt strange speaking his human name, she didn’t feel at all close to him enough yet to use it. Not like Thea, Makaela or Nerick. Shizuka still felt like an outsider. ”You said I’d gain his power, but this is feels so different…What am I now? What can I do?” She asked while following him through the dimly lit and very large corridor.
Erik briefly paused in his steps, glancing back at her with a solemn gaze. He looked at her for a few moments before turning back around, “You didn’t, when I awakened the power within you as I did with myself and as I did with the Xilfir long ago. I found something else, slumbering within your blood.” He said, continuing to walk onwards.
“Something…else?” Shizuka asked, her eyes widening, slumber lost from her mind as a slight fear filled her. What else could he have found?
“Something far more ancient, than the vampiric power that enslaved you. Something…I barely recognise myself.” Erik admitted, the last part with a bit of annoyance as he stopped before a room they hadn’t entered before.
Shizuka glanced up, reading the runes under her breathe. “Dark Age…”
“In here I hold my collection of unknowns, magical objects from a time gone unrecorded. I know not how they were made, by who or for what purpose. All I know is the capabilities I myself was able to produce with them.” Erik explained as they entered the room, seeing a total of twenty-six objects. Some sealed in the same fashion as the cursed weapons within the Human room, while others lay with far more protection around them.
Erik stopped before a certain object, one of the few gone unsealed within the room. A circular hand-held mirror in shape, the metal surrounding the mirror being pitch black while the handle seemed to be made of a dark blue wood. The metal ring surrounding the mirror was etched with runes Shizuka could not even recognise less so read, characters she had never seen before, even within forbidden texts of Elven, Dwarven and Giant’s runes.
She couldn’t read them, but she also could tell they weren’t Fae.
And on Faetera, only those four kinds of runic writing existed, to her knowledge at least.
“What is that?” She asked as Erik reached out to the mirror while it floated high above them, it glided down into his grasp.
“I don’t only hold weapons here, but other objects of high magical capability as well. This mirror here allows the user to visually and audibly communicate with another they have at least met once before, no matter the distance.” He explained before turning to her, “Shizuka, I admit, I have absolutely no clue how to help you get stronger.”
Those few words made her heart grow cold.
“But, I know what you are.” Erik then said, “Your magic…Well, it’s not even magic. The power I can clearly sense within you, similar to what I’ve taught Makaela, is spiritual in nature.”
“T-Then teach me what you taught her!” Shizuka then argued.
But Erik shook his head, “I wouldn’t dare, I’ve heard what I need to, to never mess with powers like yours on my own. No, while Makaela can manipulate raw spiritual energy…You go far deeper. Physically you also cannot compare to a common soldier who could over power you. Experience wise? Nerick has more than you. No, I cannot train you, you wouldn’t survive.”
Shizuka’s heart plummeted lower with every word, “So…I’m still useless?” she then said, her tone one of depression.
“Far from it,” Erik said with a chuckle, “I have no idea how to train you, because physically you may be weak but magically…I can feel it, within you. To say that your soul is expanding to the size of a Dragon’s? That would be saying little. By far, Shizuka, you are by far the magically strongest member of this party.”
Her eyes widened as she looked up at him, her expression then paling at his words. “Magically…strongest?”
Erik sighed, “Don’t let it get to your head, if I was in my true form we’d match each other magically, IF you had the magical knowledge I do. Trust me, I’ve met with one of your kind that…I dearly hope he had reached his limits.” He said, then gazing into the mirror. “Speaking of which, I might not be able to help you, but he might.”
“Who?” Shizuka asked, when suddenly the mirror within Erik’s hand began to glow a bright white.
The light blinding both of them for several moments before it began to dim back down.
A whistling resounded throughout the room, as above the mirror an ethereal illusion formed, made of a blueish energy the being took a few moments to unblur. “Well, quite the collection you have here, is that a Magek over there?” Kyllix said as he glanced about the room, standing two feet tall while being projected over the mirror.
His gaze then set upon Shizuka, and his eyes widened in surprise. Kyllix glanced back at Erik, “What have you done?” he asked in a harsh tone.
Erik grinned, “You said Bestia are cousins to you Spirit Beasts, I never imagined they were this closely related though.”
Kyllix sighed, “Blood magic? Your world’s Dragons must be less caring for the Dark Arts than mine…”
“No, not Blood magic, Draconic.” Erik corrected, “Nature’s Spirits work within us all, Dragons and Bestia, Humans and Elves. Using that connection, I can project my mind into another being’s spiritual make, there I forced change into them.”
“Ah…Right, I don’t entirely know how your realm works yet. True enough though, that there are powers you call Spirits that act upon all life within your realm.” Kyllix mused before turning back to Shizuka, “I never imagined they could be used this way though.”
“Shizuka, this is Kyllix, a Spirit Beast and a God from another realm.” Erik introduced him, “Divine, this is…well, a new party member of mine. Shizuka…” Erik paused remembering he had never asked her for her family name…Or Nerick.
“Fao’lin, Shizuka Fao’lin.” She filled in her last name, “It’s my clan’s name, as little as it is used today…”
“Hm, whatever magical object you’re using to project me here with, I can sense enough to say this. Shizuka, you’re a Spirit Beast of two elements like me, water and…dark.” Kyllix said, the eyes in his projection gaining a white glow as he studied her.
At those words Erik’s eyes narrowed, “I was hoping you could show her what your race are capable of.” Erik explained.
“Heh, I could, but I’m afraid I’m far too busy at the moment.” Kyllix then admitted, “I feel like something’s afoot with this realm’s divine, Erik, it is why I unbound you from Grim. I’m here to make sure nothing is, and if it is, to take care of it.”
“I see…Then how should we proceed? You told me enough about your kind’s unbalance, should I worry?” Erik asked.
“Worry? Oh you mean about her turning Dark? Her elemental attribution might be with the elements of water and darkness, but what I meant by a Spirit Beast turning dark has nothing to do with the element. Magical and Spiritual energies are similar, but different.” The God explained with a shrug, “I’m an exception, and I can tell her linage is unlike mine. She’s just a Spirit Beast, while that alone is saying a lot, she won’t be turning dark anytime soon. It would take her years, about a decade to be exact, for that to come about.”
“Still, if I go about teaching her incorrectly, I could start the process by accident.” Erik argued.
“True enough, I would say for now to allow her spiritual powers to grow naturally with time, let her find her path. But, I understand you need strong allies for what’s to come. I can’t come to teach her myself, as much as it thrills me to nurture one of my own, I have business to deal with and it will take me a while. Instead, I can tell you that our kind has an exceptionally high amount of energy to be used as resource for spells. Where our mana comes off short, our spiritual energy can be used in its stead.”
“Truly?…” Erik’s eyes widened at this prospect, he could sense the vast amount of spiritual energy running through Shizuka but he didn’t know that it could be used the same way as mana.
“I’d guess you know how to proceed then, after all where one cannot be a ranger or a warrior, there’s always that third option. And from the looks of your party, you could use another.” Kyllix added with a smirk, “Remember what I told you? Then stop being stingy, I know the rumours, Erikathyr.”
Erik met Kyllix’s smirk with an annoyed grimace.
“Oohh, scary.” The God chuckled, ”Lighten up, nothing wrong with sharing. A lot wrong with hording though, and as much as you Dragons do it? It’ll do you good, admit it, you enjoy the attention from showing your collection off.” He then said with a wider grin.
Erik sighed, “I’m rethinking our agreement.”
“What? You dislike my bluntness?” Kyllix responded with another chuckle, when suddenly he glanced off, his grin faltering as his entire gaze grew more serious. “Well well, looks like something fell for my bait. I’ll have to catch up with you later,” he said, turning to give a confused Shizuka a friendly smile.
“Shizuka eh? You’ll find it strange at first, you’ll fear it later. But this power we have, don’t be afraid, because if you are then that’s when you truly should be. No, fear is what will cause you to be afraid. Instead, trust your power. Trust in your senses, in yourself, and you’ll be amazed by what you’ll be capable of.” Kyllix told her, before his image disappeared.
The mirror’s light shutting off right then.
“Tsch, he hijacked the spell.” Erik mused seeing that he didn’t cancel the mirror’s magic but it ended on its own.
“Trust…in myself?” Shizuka mumbled out, repeating the God’s words.
Erik turned around, raising the mirror back into its place where it flew out of his hands, and back to hover within its bubble of mana. “He’s a quite the piece of work, isn’t he?” Erik said with an annoyed tone, turning back to face her.
(“I could say the same about you.”) Shizuka thought, “What now?…” she asked instead, “He won’t help.”
Erik sighed, “If all that energy within you, can be used the same as mana? Of which you have about the same amount as the average Bestia…You do have about double the amount the average Feline tribe mage would have, to use as a casting resource. So…While your body is athletic, you cannot compare to Makaela. Strength wise Nerick has you completely beaten, and experience? Thea has far more. But what neither of those three have, is something I do. Knowledge, primary on the topic of magic…”
Erik flicked his fingers, and the both of them were suddenly standing in the first hall. “Magic…which I guess, I could share.” He added with obvious annoyance. He met her now bright pink eyes, his own blues fierce and cold, causing Shizuka to take an unconscious step back. “But, I shall only warn you once. As a Dragon’s treasure, is what I am about to share with you. Do you know the implications of this?” he asked, a hiss going with his voice.
Shizuka shook her head, he terrified her too much for her mind to think right now.
Noticing this, Erik sighed and broke their gaze. (“This won’t do…”) He mentally chided himself, (“I’m falling back to my previous ways…I can’t rule through fear, I won’t.”) He returned to Shizuka, forcing himself to look calmer. “I apologise, but we Dragons are very protective of our treasures…And what I’m about to reveal to you, is my most precious collection.”
“I thought the armoury was-” Shizuka began to say but froze in her words as Erik’s expression darkened once again.
“Prized, my armoury is, as among my peers it is regarded greatly. But for me personally, this is far superior a collection.” Erik explained, as he raised his hands up towards the ceiling where thousands of spells lay inscribed. “Do you know what Draconic spells are?” he asked, as a golden energy formed at his fingertips.
“Magic written by Dragons to only be used by Dragons?” Shizuka guessed.
“No, unlike Elven or Holy magic, Draconic magic can be used by anyone who is capable to process the large quantity of mana required to cast it. From my kind’s magic, and the Fae’s, Humans and Elves created their own schools of magic by dumbing ours down in power.” He explained, as suddenly the light within his fingers shot up into the ceiling, lighting every single rune with the same golden light.
“And I’m capable of processing that much mana?” Shizuka asked as she watched the light show in awe.
“Not mana, but whatever spiritual energy that is coursing through you, yes.” Erik answered before asking, “Tell me, how many spells do you know?”
“Uhh…Most of the first, second and third tier water magic, a few first and second tier shadow magic, and two lightning spells.” Shizuka listed off the top of her head.
Erik sighed, “Only third tier?” he mused, most draconic magic was seventh tier and he himself knew several hundred eighth and ninth tier spells from every element. “Pathetic, and you call yourself a mage?”
“H-Hey!…M-Most fifth tier and over spells were lost during the Dragon Wars…finding inscriptions about them that aren’t tightly held in secret or locked up by the Wizarding guilds…” Shizuka explained, slightly annoyed.
Erik grinned as he looked down, “Well, then you should be able to appreciate my collection.” meeting her gaze as he suddenly lowered his hands. The light fell from above, forming a massive projection of millions of spells all around them, three dimensional runic lines covering the entire hall around them.
The golden light then changed, the room dividing into several colour-coded sections, each section being coloured according to elemental school.
Shizuka’s eyes and mouth widened as she looked about, shocked into awe by the sight.
“Elven, Human, Bestia, Fae, Mer, Giant and even Draconic spells lay inscribed here. Each divided into element, then further divided into difficulty, and after which being divided into racial capability.” Erik explained, raising his right hand towards the bright blue section of the room and then his left hand towards the dim and darker section opposite of it. “Water school, and Dark Arts.” He said, then moving both hands inwards.
The lights moved with his gestures, the rest of the sections disappearing as the two sections he chose expanded, growing larger and clearer as they each filled a half of the hall.
“Now, Bestia are capable of casting your own shamanic spells, generic human spells and some Giant spells. So Elven, Fae and Mer are out of the question, while with your large amount of energy Draconic should be usable.” Erik said, as he closed both hands into fists, the projected runes around them expanding further to fill the space where many of them had disappeared.
Shizuka was too busy gazing at several of the Dark Arts to clearly comprehend him at the moment, to the point that Erik had to shake her by the shoulder to regain her attention. “These are the spells I’ll share with you, among them, you’ll also find some of my own creation.” He said, waving his hand forward as several connected runes suddenly glowed golden.
“Your…creation?” Shizuka repeated, her amazement still rising.
“I’m thousands of years old, what do you think I spend my time doing? Just observing you apes stab each other with sticks?” He chuckled, “No, I’ve spent hundreds of years collecting all these, I’ve observed masters of the art in casting and even creating them.”
“I…I wouldn’t even know where to begin with creating my own spell!” Shizuka exclaimed, gazing about with wide eyes as she held her own head. It felt like it was about to explode.
Erik laughed, “The steps are fairly simple to try, but actually accomplishing so is no easy feat. First, you must know how you start with mastering a spell.” He said, “Speak those steps first?” he offered.
Shizuka glanced at him and then at a spell she had been eyeing, a psychic based spell vaguely named ‘Projection’. “Well first…Intent, the caster must picture what outcome they wish from the spell.” She began to name off each step while concentrating on said spell.
“Second comes Concentration, willing, focusing your mana outside your body and if the spell is directional then mentally picking one out. The mana must also be the correct amount, else the spell will fail.” She did so, the energy invisible to the naked eye as she willed it to move upon her palm as she held out her hand.
“Third is Chanting, speaking words to add onto your intent, phrases who’s meaning is comprehensibly aligned to the wanted outcome.” She said, then reading off the chant that lay written in runes beneath the spell’s description. Knowing the intent, having concentrated her mana as well, she moved onto speaking those words. “Show all what I wish to see, show fear to all, show terror to all. Dark Arts; Psychic School; Projection!” she chanted vigorously.
“Fourth is Casting, the hardest step.” Shizuka then said, “The caster must reconnect with the mana they willed outside of their body, while the link still exists between energy and vessel. Once they have, the intent they spoke and imagined will meld into the mana.” She did so, focusing hard to not only sense the energy hovering about her hand but also expanding her mental connection with it.
And suddenly, an ethereal form appeared above her palm. A Dragon, tiny in comparison to the real thing and slightly see-through, but it lay there over her hand. Immobile, scales of a bright white and claws of gold, with its wings having webbing just a golden but limbs of scaly white holding said webbing together.
“Small, it would take far more concentration to project something larger. Also your mana control needs work, it’s barely visible.” Erik criticized, “But yes, those are the steps to start learning a spell. With time the third step, Chanting, can be vastly shortened. And with mastery, the fourth step being Casting, becomes instantaneous.” He explained before holding out his right palm flat and forwards.
“Dark Arts; Psychic School; Projection!” Erik chanted, and suddenly a massive Minotaur stood before them, a hulking humanoid and hairy brown beast with a bison’s head and horns. Much larger than Shizuka’s projection, and it was also moving, turning to face her and causing her expression to pale at how real it seemed.
“Originally, this spell was made to project nightmarish illusions upon enemies. Causing fear and confusion upon a large group.” He explained, dissipating the spell and causing the growling minotaur to fade away.
“Now, onto creating a spell…Hm, let’s start with altering this one for instance. Much easier to alter a spell than it is to create a brand new one, since there’s mostly a spell for whatever you wish to cast already.” Erik said, waving at the spell’s runes and making them move closer to them.
They now lay hovering before them, glowing a bright gold. “Four steps, first you must choose intent. For this, let’s say we only wish to use it upon a single target instead of a wide area. This focuses the spell’s psychic effects, making them much stronger. But, as you said, then you must pick your target and therefore a direction to cast it towards. Which brings us to the second step, concentrating your mana and the right amount.”
“But how do you choose the right amount? Spells are tiered by the amount of mana they use, tier one spells use about ten percent of the average caster’s mana to cast. How do you know what tier your spell is after you’ve created or even altered it?” Shizuka asked.
“Well, ignore the fact that Projection is a second tier spell. Instead, think of it this way, how do we Dragons know how much mana to will out and use if we have so much more than say Bestia or Humans?” Erik asked, gaining no answer from her. “Also, before tiers were ever thought up, how did ancient mages know how much to use?”
Again, Shizuka came up blank, “I…don’t know.”
Causing Erik to sigh, “Test, fail, try again.” He then said.
Causing her eyebrows to rise in question, “Say again?”.
“You try several different amounts of mana, until you find the right amount. This should’ve been obvious.” He chided.
“Oh…right.” Shizuka said, realising how obvious it was herself.
(“And possibly blow yourself up a few times while doing so…She’ll find that out on her own though.”) Erik then thought, (“It’ll be a good learning experience.”).
“What’s next?” Shizuka then asked, snapping Erik out of his wicked inner monologue.
“Ah…Right. To make things simpler though, take the original spell’s tier. Second tier, so twenty percent of the average human’s stored mana. Four percent for a drake, and much lower for a full grown dragon. We gave the spell a specific target, instead of a wide area. Spreading a spell in a wide area takes more mana than simply sending it off into a single direction, mostly if you want it to be equally effective with every target effected. But we’re also focusing that spell onto said target to improve its effect. Therefore, the mana needed to cast our altered spell is the same as the original’s. As the changes cancel each other out.” Erik explained.
Shizuka nodded, paying close attention to every word he said.
“Now for the third step,” Erik continued, “Chanting, this is by far the most important step in spell creation. Not only must you come up with a few phrases that are synonymous with the intent, but most importantly name the spell. The spell’s school of magic remains under Dark Arts, as we have not changed the attribute of mana we’re using, which is Darkness. We’re also still casting a spell with the intent to affect one’s vision, mainly one’s understanding of what they are seeing. Retaining the Psychic sub-school.”
“Now, go on and try to come up with a chant and a name yourself.” He then offered, “I’d advise paying close attention to the words used in the original chant, and alter it to fit your intent.”
“Okay…I’ll give it a try.” Shizuka said, turning to the runes and reading the inscribed chant. Over and over she read it within her mind, each time altering it, changing the wording and adding her own intent. “From; Show all what I wish to see, show fear to all, show terror to all. Changing the phrasing to direct at a singular target…I’d say; Show them what I wish them to see, show them fear, show them terror.” Shizuka tentatively offered.
“Good, but you can shorten it still. Every word is a moment your foe could use to their advantage.” Erik said, taking a step back and then raising his right hand towards her. “Show them what I wish to see! Show them fear incarnate! Dark Arts; Psychic School; Terrorize!” Erik suddenly chanted.
Shizuka glanced around quickly, but saw nothing, until the ground beneath her shattered. Large black vines rose from the ground, wrapping around her feet and causing her to fall back. She shrieked as the vines wrapped around her waist and arms, trying to wiggle herself out of their grasp.
Before realising, they weren’t real, “But I feel them!” she argued with her own thoughts.
“As I said before, the mana used to cast the spell did not change. But we’re focusing it on a singular target so it is far stronger in effect. At first, we only worked with vision and sound, now I’m also effecting your sense of touch.” Erik explained, dissipating the spell and causing the vines to fade out from view.
The shattered ground also fading back to its previous state.
“Also, you casted your spell and left the connection, disallowing you from controlling and contorting it. If ever possible, learn to retain the connection, so you can bend the spell as needed. That is true mastery.” Erik then said.
Shizuka rose shakily from the floor, she still felt slight pressure where the vines had been wrapped around her making movement awkward. “I heard…some used to be able to cast chantless?”
“Oh yes, all Dragons could bend their primary and secondary elements chantless for raw power. Like breathing bouts of flame or raising walls of earth, but the more complex the spell the harder it is to cast it chantless. Rarely, even among Dragons and Fae, can one cast either of the Dark Arts chantless as they are by far more complex than any elemental spells of the same tier.” Erik explained.
“Ah…guess that’s impossible for me then?” Shizuka asked doubtfully.
“Not at all,” Erik said with a thoughtful look, ”but it would take you several years to master an element to that point. We Dragons and Fae live for hundreds of years, more so than Elves. Your kind…well, the Bestia live for about twice the amount Humans would. So it is doubtful that you could, but if you start at a young age then I’d say it is possible.”
Shizuka sighed, “I’m 19…how long do you think it would take?”
“Hm, if you chose water as your most effective element, then I’d say in about six decades you’d master chantless bending up to the third tier of spells.” Erik offered, causing Shizuka’s shoulders to slump.
“Sixty…years…” She sighed again, this time far more dispirited as she dragged it out. Then a thought came to her mind, “How…old are you then?” she asked, glancing up at Erik with curiosity.
“My body is 24 years old.” Erik responded off memory.
“No, I mean…as a drake, how old are you really?” Shizuka asked again.
“Hm…counting how long it has been since my first death? Well…alive I spent six thousand, three hundred and thirty-two years.” He said at first, causing Shizuka’s eyes to almost pop out of her head with how much they widened. “Adding on the one thousand, seven hundred and ninety-two years I’ve been dead…My soul has existed for eight thousand, a hundred and twenty…four…years” Erik’s eyes grew dark as he realised something.
Shizuka was preoccupied trying to process the number, but did notice his sudden expression. “W-What is it?”
“D-Dragons gain the ability to…advance to their next stage of maturity after their twentieth cycle…I-In a year I would have reached my…Twenty-first cycle.” Erik said, his expression filling with dread.
“So?” Shizuka asked in confusion.
“So?…So!?!” Erik exclaimed, grabbing her by the shoulders and terrifying her with his maddened eyes. “If I was still a drake I’d have my wings by now!” those words echoed throughout the hall, followed by a wicked laugh which Erik recognised.
“Grim…you monster…” He hissed as he glanced about, a petrified Shizuka still in his grip.