Chapter 366: Preconceptions

At the end of Riveria’s long recounting of events, Shizune raised her tiny hand and asked in a somewhat childish voice that suited her body, but not her age, “That is a very interesting story, but I don’t understand what it has to do with magic~?” Riveria snapped the book she had been reading shut before turning to the kitsune girl and saying in a plain tone, “It is important to understand the History of all things when discussing magic. Magic is derived from the miracles that had been created by spirits in the past…those miracles only existed because of the natural forces in the world that had been established by the gods that had helped shape the world in Heaven. Understanding magic is understanding the very structure of the world and peeking into the laws that govern everything, not just in the Mortal world, but also Heaven and Hell. When you’re chanting magic, you are recounting stories, legends, and myths in order to draw upon their power and recreate it in the present.”

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Vahn stroked his chin in thought as he listened to Riveria’s words before asking, “So…when a new magic is born, it is because a new story, or legend, had been created? By that logic, doesn’t it mean that anyone should be able to create a magic spell as long as they have an understanding of the elemental laws governing it and are able to convey their intent to the world itself?” Hearing his question, Lefiya’s eyes opened wide while Riveria nodded in approval and said, “That is correct, Vahn, very well deduced. This is why the chant could vary from person to person even when casting the same spell and also why not all grimoires are compatible with people. Without understanding the story and legend behind the spell, it doesn’t matter if you know the chant for the spell…well, there are exceptions to everything…” In the latter half of her words, Riveria had turned her attention to Lefiya and made the bashful elf blush.

Though he had turned his attention to Lefiya and smiled at her reaction, Vahn was actually lost in his own thoughts as the processed the information Riveria had told him. Most of his magical knowledge came from his interactions with Eva and Vahn understood that, while both systems were different, they actually used very similar logic. Vahn began to wonder if this was the case for magic systems in all worlds and began wondering if magic was simply the product of a powerful story. With this thought in mind, Vahn thought about how Eva formed her magic and realized she only ever used chants whenever she wanted the spell to be stronger. This meant that she was able to form the spell using her imagination and understanding of the spell structure without requiring a chant at all. Chantless magic didn’t seem to exist in the record of Danmachi, but Vahn assumed it should be possible since magic circles existed and skills like Riveria’s, which allowed her to extend chants, also existed.

Seeing Vahn lost in thought, Riveria squinted her eyes in interest before asking, “Did you think of something, Vahn?” From what Riveria understood, Vahn had an inexplicable ability to intuit things using a form of common sense that was founded in rationality but held few similarities with anything she had observed in her 97 years of life. Most of his thoughts were revolutionary and he was able to make logical leaps that others simply weren’t capable of. He was like a blank slate where anything could be written and, after a certain amount of time passed, the slate would be able to provide a solution to the problem, even if it was something that confounded scholars for generations.

Vahn turned his attention to Riveria and saw a strange sparkle in her jade-green eyes, like the light of expectation, or maybe even ‘hope’. After thinking how to best answer her question, Vahn decided to say, “Maybe…can you show me one of your magic using a chant? I want to see the magic circle that is created by your [Mage] Development Ability.” Riveria considered his words for a moment before nodding her head, raising her hand toward him, and saying, “Assemble, breath of the land -my name is Alf.” During the short chant, a forest-green spell circle appeared under Riveria’s body before a green glow surrounded Vahn and he could feel an invisible layer of protecting covering him from head to toe.

Though it was very brief, Vahn could replace the scene of Riveria casting her magic over and over in his mind, even in slow motion if he wanted to. When he focused his attention on something, The Path enabled him to ‘record’ everything his sense picked up and play it back just by making a request of Sis. She could even analyze the data for him while he focused on other stuff and help provide a solution at a later date when it was more convenient. Using this ‘replay’ feature of his mind, Vahn slowed down the image of Riveria casting her spell and noticed that, though the magic circle seemed to appear all at once, it actually formed in a specific sequence.

Vahn blinked to snap himself out of his reverie and activated his [Eyes of Truth] before saying, “Please, Riveria, can you cast the spell again? I think I might have picked up on something…” Without hesitating, Riveria nodded before pointing at Lefiya and using the exact same spell, this time drawing it out a bit more for Vahn’s benefit. With his [Eyes of Truth] active, Vahn was able to see that, not only did the magic circle not form all at once, but it also had a different distribution of mana circulation through it in a complex structure. When Riveria finished the chant, the structure would ‘freeze’ for a brief moment before ‘dissolving’ and infusing itself into her target. Though it no longer had the same shape as the magic circle, the structure of the spell didn’t change between the time it was a magic circle and when it had been infused into someone else’s body.

The most important thing to note, however, was that Vahn’s ‘translation’ function in the system actually allowed him to interpret the magic circle as language. Though he didn’t entirely understand how it worked, the magic circle Riveria made had a complex structure that, when translated, literally meant ‘Assemble, breath of the land – my name is Alf’. It was exactly the same as her chant, without a single bit of inflection or deviation. After playing the sequence over and over in his mind, Vahn held out his hand and, at the same pace as the circle was formed in his mind, said, “Assemble, breath of the land – my name is Alf.” There was no magic cirlce that appeared and Riveria gave Vahn a strange look since he had pointed at her while ‘mimicking’ her chant. She thought he might have interpreted things in a strange manner before she suddenly felt a formless energy cover her body and her eyes widened in abject shock.

Vahn, however, didn’t see any changes and just felt a powerful throbbing sensation from his temples as he began to rub them to alleviate the discomfort. Before understanding the changes that had happened, Vahn said in an apologetic manner, “Sorry, I guess I made a mistake…” While he was trying to alleviate the pain in his head, Vahn sensed Riveria approach him quickly so he turned his eyes and saw the shock on her face as she said, “You didn’t make a mistake…I don’t understand what you did, but whatever it was, it worked. Please, Vahn, explain what just happened.” Seeing the confusion on his face, Riveria unsheathed a small dagger and cut towards her own arm before a green light shone and completely deflected the dagger. Vahn immediately understood what Riveria meant now so he said, “I copied the magic circle in my mind…and then just repeated your words as the circle formed…”

Hearing Vahn casually mention that he had duplicated her magic circle in his mind, Riveria actually showed an awkward smile before laughing in a strange manner. As if she was copying Vahn this time, Riveria lifted her hand to her head and began rubbing her temples. She understood that Vahn was likely telling the truth, but it turned out that the truth was something inexplicable, almost impossible to even comprehend. Elves had studied magic circles since the existence of the [Mage} Development Ability was known yet, after nearly a thousand years of study, hadn’t been able to understand their structure at all. Yet, here Vahn was sitting at his little desk telling her he had seen through it after watching her cast the spell twice…the most problematic thing of all, however, was that the magic she had used was ‘Elven Magic’. There hasn’t been a single instance in the history of magic where someone from a different race was able to emulate, much less duplicate, the magic of another race. Specifically, Vahn had used magic that was only useable by High Elves within the direct lineage of the Royal Family…he even used the Royal Family’s name ‘Alf’ as the activation key…

Riveria sat down at the desk she had set up for herself before waving toward everyone in the ‘classroom’ and saying, “Everyone is dismissed for the time being…go have lunch and then come back in two hours. Vahn…” Riveria looked up and showed a somewhat tired expression on her face before shaking her head and saying, “There are a lot of things we need to talk about. Lefiya, you can stay as well, I don’t think I’ll be able to make sense of everything if it’s just me alone.” Though they were confused at first, the girls listened to Riveria’s words when Vahn reiterated them. After hearing it from him, the girls all left as Preasia walked over to wake up the sleeping Fenrir before taking her with them. When everyone else had left, Lefiya looked up at Vahn before saying, “Vahn, I’d like to see your Status Board…I want to confirm with my own eyes that you don’t possess any skills to emulate magic like Lefiya.”

Knowing that Riveria wouldn’t be able to see through his Innates, Vahn nodded his head in agreement since she had allowed him to see her Status Board the previous night. Vahn stripped off his tunic and stood bare-chested before the two elven girls as Riveria looked at him with a plain expression while Lefiya turned her face away with a blush. Pulling over one of the chairs, Vahn sat down and allowed Riveria to look at his status after she pulled out a strange, blood-colored, vial of liquid and placed it on his back. Vahn knew it was the illegal magic item known as ‘Status Thief’, but he didn’t really care since he had allowed her to view his Status freely.

Though she couldn’t read all the hieroglyphs making up his status, Riveria was able to understand the majority of it and noticed that Vahn had two magic she had never seen before, but neither of them explained his ability to duplicate the magic of others. Most importantly, Vahn possessed no racial traits or skills associated with elves and his status clearly listed him as a human. Just to be sure, Riveria asked, “Can you show me both of your magic skills, please…?” Vahn nodded his head before immediately disappearing from his spot and reappearing three meters away.

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Before she asked, Vahn said, “That is my chantless magic, Shundo. It’s a movement type magic that links two points in space and allows the user to transition between them. It’s hard to explain, and it’s not a magic I’m trying to popularize, so you’ll have to forgive me for keeping the finer details a secret.” The last thing Vahn wanted to see was a bunch of people running around using Shundo and using it for devious means. Just imagining an assassin capable of using the skill sent a shiver down his spine and he had long ago committed to only teaching the skill to people that had taken a vow of secrecy to protect the information.

Riveria nodded her head, because she could understand why such a skill should be kept secret. It was a powerful ability and likely one of Vahn’s core strengths and it was his right to teach others about the skill at his leisure. Seeing Riveria nod, Vahn showed a small smile before thinking about Haruhime since she was the first person that came to mind when he was thinking about racial traits to copy. Using his [Thria*Mimos], Vahn turned into a male Renard with blond hair and aquamarine green eyes while standing in front of the two elves who were shocked to see his sudden change. Vahn flexed his hands and said, “This is my magic, [Thria*Mimos], it allows me to mimic the traits of animals and beast humans, though it prevents me from using the majority of my other skills in the process.”

Seeing that Vahn had transformation magic, Riveria thought there was something unique about his ‘pseudo-divinities’ that hadn’t come to light yet. After thinking how best to structure the question, Riveria asked, “Vahn…have you always been human?” Vahn blinked for a moment since it wasn’t a question he expected. Without much hesitation, Vahn nodded his head and said, “Yes…I’ve been human for as long as I can remember…” Hearing his words, Riveria released a sigh before saying, “That magic you used earlier, it should be something unique to High Elves. Lefiya is able to copy my chants with her skill, but that is a unique ability that is incredibly rare within elves…you shouldn’t be able to use the magic at all since you’re a human.”

Vahn thought about her words for a moment before shaking his head and saying, “No, that doesn’t make any sense Riveria. Like you said during your History lesson earlier, everyone has a common ancestor and all the races within the world resulted from the union between primordial man and spirits. Though we have different racial traits, the core structure of all the races in the world are fundamentally similar. If magic is the culmination of a person’s understanding of a story, legend, or myth, it means anyone able to understand the structure of the spell should be capable of casting it.”

Riveria was surprised by Vahn’s rebuttal but couldn’t help but agree that his speculation, at least in theory, was correct. However, all of the studies related to magic were the evidence against his claim since, other than Vahn himself, there has never been a single other exception to the rule. One of the biggest points against his theory was the fact that most half-breeds couldn’t even use magic at all since the changes in their body made them incapable of forming anything but a few fundamental magic spells. While she was thinking over matters, Riveria noticed Vahn’s eyes had changed colors as he passed his gaze of herself and Lefiya as if confirming something. They were the same eyes he had used when watching her cast her magic earlier and Riveria couldn’t help but feel like he had just seen through her completely.

Before she asked, Vahn started explaining, “Other than a few physiological differences, the basic structure between elves and other races is the same. There are a few differences in how the mana is formed within your bodies, but that isn’t something that can’t be emulated by others…” Vahn got lost in thought for a brief moment before saying, “If I emulate the flow of mana, I believe I would be able to become an actual elf after a few weeks passed.” Vahn knew his body could change depending on his perception, so if he changed the flow of his mana and wanted to become an elf is should be possible.

Not just Riveria, but Lefiya looked at Vahn in confusion before he said again, “I’m telling the truth…though I wouldn’t be a natural born elf, I can almost guarantee that I’d be indistinguishable from the real deal. It might even update on the status board if I maintain the image for a long enough period of time. If the only difference between races is minor fluctuations in the energy contained in their bodies, it isn’t impossible to alter the structure of the body…besides, I seem to have a talent for transformation magic and understanding the physiological structure of other races. Remember what I did for Tsubaki?” With Vahn’s reminder, Riveria remembered how drastic the change in Tsubaki had been and began to seriously consider his words.

Thinking she didn’t believe him, Vahn tried focusing on his own image within his mind by passing his perception over his own body. He was already made of pure source energy and had incredible control over the energy within the bodies of others, so it stood to reason that he could replicate the changes in himself. He tried imagining himself as an elf and began ‘willing’ the energy in his body to emulate the flow he had observed in Riveria. She and Lefiya had minor changes, probably because Riveria was a High Elf while Lefiya was a normal elf. Vahn figured it would be more ‘believable’ if he emulated a High Elf since it should be marginally more difficult to pull off.

Since they were both very perceptive to mana, Riveria and Lefiya turned their attention to Vahn and saw something that was hard to describe since both of their minds blanked. Vahn’s dark-brown hair began to turn into an emerald green from his roots and his tanned skin actually started to turn lighter at a visible rate until he became somewhat fair-skinned. Since he hadn’t been wearing a shirt, the girls saw his body become thinner as his ears began to increase in length before coming to a point. Even his height began to increase marginally before he opened his now jade green eyes and inspected his body before pulling out a mirror for a better view. With a satisfied smile on his face, Vahn paused for a moment before turning to the girls and saying in a confident manner, “That wasn’t as difficult as I expected. Though I won’t be able to hold the image for too long, I should have become a High Elf now if you’d like to check my Status Board to confirm.”

For several long seconds, Riveria just stared blankly at Vahn because his appearance was actually very similar to her own and she knew he had used her as a base when changing his body. She had no words to refute his earlier claims because he had clearly shown that his words were credible and that all preconceived notions of magic were flawed on a very fundamental level. Riveria knew that Vahn would likely revolutionize the very concept of magic in the future and it would likely be usable by anyone that made the effort to study it. For now, however, Riveria was most concerned about checking the veracity of Vahn’s words as she used Status Thief to reveal Vahn’s crest. As he had claimed, his race now showed ‘High Elf’ instead of ‘Human’ and everything Riveria thought she knew about magic shattered into pieces…

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