XVI.1 (RE)

Another couple of days passed since Merlin started his training. With his teacher’s guidance, his Mana Core stabilized further, preventing the demon side of him from expanding more. This surprised Aren, which led them to begin their session of magic casting. Merlin went over the spells he already knew, but like his previous endeavors, they sparked into nothingness. He wondered why Aren would make him do spells he wouldn’t be able to pull off, but without question, he listened and performed. And like today, his spells fizzled out and he let out a deep sigh. It was late in the afternoon and classes were done, which meant students were out and about. Some saw his recent failure and giggled at the sight.

  “Mr. Aren, why are we doing these exercises. I’m afraid my patience has far gone to the bottom.”

  “Exercises, you say?” Aren said. “Interesting.”

  Merlin frowned, puffing his cheeks. “How is this interesting? You are making me do the same thing repeatedly, expecting a result. This is the definition of insanity, you know.”

  “That is true, but this is something else. You are not putting much thought into your training. You’re blindly following them and not thinking outside the box.”


  Aren sucked his teeth. “You’ve got mana control down within a week-and-a-half and yet you can’t figure this out? Do I really have to SPELL it out for you?”

  “I am trying, Mr. Aren. I truly am, but I still do not understand…”

  “How thick is that noggin of yours? If something does not work, do you keep on trying to do it or you try something else?”

  “Y-You try… something else?”

  “Exactly. Now who’s the insane one here, me or you?”

  Merlin perched up. “B-But this is the way the Academy taught the others for years on end! If their methods worked for generations, how come it doesn’t work for me?”

  “You really are that close-minded, huh? You don’t have enough i-MAGIC-nation, kid. Looks like I’m gonna have to spill the beans.”

  “I-MAGIC-nation…? And what beans do you have to spill, Mr. Aren?”

  Aren face palmed himself. “It’s… a saying. Forget all that. All right, gimme your staff.”

  Merlin resisted, putting his staff behind his back. “B-But I can’t cast magic without it!”

  “Ah-ah, no buts! Come on, don’t make it harder for the both of us.”

  With a sigh, Merlin handed his staff over. Under normal circumstances, Aren couldn’t cast magic, for his body would start to destroy itself if he did. However, this spell was on the low-end of the magic tier, so nothing too serious will happen. He twirled the scepter, then pointed it to his right. Blue orbs of mana sparkled and assembled at the tip. A magic circle formed and manifested a ball of fire. It hovered over the area where it was created.

  “See that? This is one way to cast magic.” Aren waved the staff around. “There are two main classifications of magic casting: Exoteric and Expeditious Casting. This one is part of Exoteric, but this specific subclassification is called Expeditious Natural Apparatus. I used Natural Mana and a medium to create a magic circle to conjure this fire.”

  “O-Oh! I remember one of my professors talking about it during one of my lectures.”

  “Finally rung a bell? All right, now the next one.”

  He cast the same spell. The magic circle and ball of fire appeared like it did before, except this time no mana orbs were seen at the tip of the staff.

  “Take a guess of what this casting is.”

  Merlin’s eyes veered away, contemplating about the potential solution. Then he remembered his lecture and raised his hand instinctively. “I know the answer, Mr. Aren.”

  “All right, Mr. Ambrosius! Give it your best shot!”

  “It is Exoteric Casting, sir!”

  “Yeah, but what type?”

   “Um, I think it is Inner Mana Casting, sir!”

  “That’s on the money. This subclassification’s name is Exoteric Constitutional Apparatus. I’m using Inner Mana and a medium to create a magic circle to conjure this ball of fire.”

  Merlin lowered his hand and tilted his head. “Mr. Aren, I realized you aren’t speaking incantations. Why is that?”

  “Ho-ho, so you noticed! Exoteric Casting heavily relies on magic circles and rhetoric to cast magic. However, if you are good enough, you can skip the incantation. If you’re even better, you can skip the whole process. Here, take a look.”

  Aren pointed the staff to the left. In an instant, the ball of fire appeared. “Pretty cool, right? This is Expeditious Casting. Also known as Quick Casting in other parts of the world.”

  “I hear only that type of casting in legends! No way, Mr. Aren, you can do such a feat?!” Merlin said, his eyes gleaming with passion. “If you are able to do it, maybe I can—”

  “Probably not in your lifetime. Let’s be real, okay?”

  “Aw… Wait, but you are as young as me. So how are you able—”

  “Let’s continue on! There’s like four other types of exoteric casting, but these are the two we are going to focus on. So, we know your Core is too unstable, right? With the clues given out, I’m sure you can find the reason.”

  Merlin took a moment, then he raised his hand. “I’ve been doing Exoteric Consti-thingamajig casting, right? I mean, considering it is unstable, of course.”

  Aren handed the staff back and nodded. “Yup, you got it. Your Demon Core has more mana than the Natural Mana around you. Your perception of magic casting made you believe you needed extra mana to sustain a spell, hence your demon-part instinctually gives more. So, when your demon-part overrides the Natural Mana—”

  “They clash and make the spell fizzle out. How can I stop this?”

  “What do you think those mana control sessions were for? Let’s get it done. Close your eyes now. Imagine a blue, exquisite line streaming from one side to another.”

  Merlin nodded, closing his eyes. With a bit of focus, a blue straight line appeared from his subconscious. “It’s there, Mr. Aren.”

  “Ah-ah, no talking or you’ll lose focus! Okay, tell me what’s happening next.”

  A red, malicious aura came out from the blackness. It was attempting to break the straightened blue line. It lashed out with tentacle-like attacks, and with each strike, Merlin’s concentration cracked.

  “Mr. Aren, my demon-side is… not being very nice.”

  “Seems daunting, but don’t worry. You remember how to straighten your stable Magic Core, right?”


  “Now think of ocean waves pushing against a soft, sandy beach. Your stable mana is the waves and the red being the sandy beach. Push hard, pull soft, push hard…”

  Merlin repeated the phrase “push hard, pull soft” as his blue aura pulsated like the ocean waves. The red aura was pushed back further and further. It was no longer visible within his subconscious. The blue line brightened like the sun, which forced him to open his eyes. He was on the ground, looking up at the sky, and saw a crouched Aren gazing at him with a smirk on his face.

  “Congrats kid, you did it.”

  “Erm… What happened? Everything was bright blue until…”

  “You kinda were in a deep meditative state for several minutes. I think a good hour passed, actually. After that, you collapsed and well, here we are.”

  Aren helped Merlin to his feet and dusted the dirt on his shoulders. “We can begin on the magic session now. Can you feel it, your Magic Core radiating?”

  Merlin looked at his hands. He didn’t feel any different from what he was before, but there was a firm sensation emanating from his body. He told Aren such, and the white-haired boy laughed.

  “W-What’s so funny, Mr. Aren?”

  “First time? Totally get it.”

  “What do you mean, ‘first time?’”

  Aren poked Merlin’s chest. “That, my friend, is power. Your teachers are quick to judge you not based on your potential, but what you can do at the current time. Their failure is the reason you could not reach this level.”

  “Perhaps it was because of my unusual circumstance that—?”

  “Excuses-excuses. Don’t give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s their job to notice such things.” Aren glanced at Merlin’s staff. “The moment of truth. Cast the same spell I did before: Fire.”

  “A-Are you sure this is—”

  “No talking! Concentrate. Feel the Natural Mana in the environment, let it flow through your staff, and evoke the spell’s name.”

  “B-But what happens if-if—!”

  Aren folded his arms, not listening to another complaint. Merlin’s eyes glanced back and forth. He soon realized his teacher won’t be convinced otherwise, so after letting out a sigh, he did what he was told. He closed his eyes, taking in deep breaths and exhaling slowly. There was a tingly sensation all around him, as if small ants were crawling all over his body. When he opened his eyes, mana swirled all over him, forming a blue aura around his figure. The students watching him were shocked at this sight.

  “W-Woah…” he remarked.

  “Aw yeah, you’re getting there. Focus that energy into the staff now.”

  “Yes sir!”

  Merlin turned his attention to the staff. He imagined a blue, streaming line pouring through his medium. Upon doing so, the staff was shining in a bright blue light. This was the moment he was waiting for his entire life. This was his chance to be a proper mage.

  With all his body and soul, he commanded the spell to manifest. “Fire!

  Blue particles of light swirled around the tip of his staff, forming a magic circle. After the circle was complete, the ball of fire manifested. Aren touched his chin, smirking.

  “How about it? Looks like you… Merlin?”

  Merlin was on his knees, his face drowning in tears while he bawled out loud. Aren came to his side, placing a hand on his shoulder. There was a time in his life where he was in the same position as well. Screams of agony echoed from the back of his mind, but he shook them off and smiled. After Merlin calmed down, he hugged Aren tightly.

  “Mr. Aren, thank you! I-I never would’ve done this without you!”

  “Hehe, yeah kid, no problem.” Aren stood up, lending a hand. “You ready to learn more?”

  Merlin wiped the tears from his eyes and gave the biggest smile he could. “Yes!”

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