~~Noon, The First Day of the Eleventh Month~~
The lake and moats were finally complete.
The southern gate had regained its function as a gate, too, and a small cabin built on top had given the gatekeeper a better position from which to keep watch.
I’d wanted to make an alarm bell, but with metal being a valuable resource, I had to settle with wooden whistles. They were the handicraft of the old artisans in town, made with elaborate design and great attention to detail.
We still had no choice but to leave the northern district as-is for now, but what we had now in the south was sufficient for the current population.
The increase development rates of the fields, I had sprinkled some quickening magic spells over the soil, so now we have some fruit tree saplings out of the ground. By everyone’s perseverance, we haven’t had any particular worries regarding food and drinking water.
Right now we were rationing the supplies as we went, but I would like to eventually re-establish trading and currency exchange systems. I suppose that is still a long way off, though.
Reid, Ryan, and Pochi kept watch at the gate as always, and Mana and I now acted as teachers of sorts for the kids.
“Well then, we’ll be going over the fundamentals of magic, the Four Core Elements.”
The only ones to attend this improvised magic class were Lina and another girl, Tifa, who was still 10 years old.
These two were the only young ones who I could see potential for development as mages. Although no particular talents were needed for learning magic, the major factor was the innate Magical Power, popularly abbreviated MP, within their bodies.
Among the children in town, only Lina and Tifa were ones with big enough MP pools.
Tifa, the gentle girl with green hair, was mature for her age and understanding of other people’s hardships. She had no parents, but thanks to Lina and Mana keeping her company, she didn’t seem to be lonely. Surprisingly enough, she had decided by herself to sign up for this class.
Also, it is worth mentioning that Mana is currently instructing most of the boys and girls with weapon practice.
“Now, Lina, can you name all four of the Core Elements?”
“Yes. Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind.”
“Mm-hm, correct. Next up, Tifa, do you know which element among them is the easiest to manipulate?”
“Umm… Er… Fire?”
Tifa’s personality really shined when she smiled ear-to-ear with delight. She was quite the diligent one, doing all the homework I had assigned her, and she had prepared for lessons with the Magic Book I’d written… well, those were more like beginner guides, but still.
“Today, we will be going further over the fundamentals of magic. As practice for one of the Core Elements, you will be invoking the elementary fire spell, Little Fire.”
“Is… is it dangerous?”
“Of course it is.”
Lina’s expression instantly tensed up. Rather than her kindness and dislike of violence, it seemed to be excessive fear of being under attack.
“But if you follow the procedure properly, there will be no danger at all. First of all, I recommend not to use it to get Pochi attention, like I used to do.”
“I don’t know if I should be worried or relieved to hear that!”
“I don’t know!”
“I was trying to make you not worry, of course. Since Little Fire is a simple spell, you will be invoking it with these sticks instead of a staff, so come take them. I’ve borrowed these from the retirement home, so do treat them with care.”
The two stood up from their seats, which was the ground in this case, and took a stick each.
“Stand still when you’re back in position… Now, I hope you remember how to draw a Spell Circle like I’ve taught you yesterday. As you should recall, the technique is known as Air Tracing. Draw a Spell Circle in the air by focusing magical power at the tip of your stick and waving it like writing with a pen. If it’s too heavy, you can hold it with both hands. Once the Spell Circle is set, aim your stick at the center of the pentagram and invoke it with a chant… Now!”
Together with the two’s shouts, small balls of fire were unleashed from the centers of their Spell Circles, flying off and popping upon hitting the wall.
“We did it, Asley!”
“It’d taken me two weeks to be able to invoke it, but the two of you only took a single day. You truly did a wonderful job.”
I wanted to cry at my lack of talent.
I had been so rare of a case that had even the Magic University teachers troubled, it seemed.
If one was of age and had a high enough magical power pool, they could enter the Magic University via a simple written examination.
Enrolling also cost money, of course, and if one did not pass the advancement examinations held every half a year, they would have to keep paying more.
There were eight of them in all, so graduation took 4 years at the very least.
I had become a laughing stock after failing the first examination, which had a 100% passing rate up to then, and had left the University.
Focused on getting back at those people, I had also taken up alchemy, a subject closely related to magic, and had accidentally distilled the Drop of Eternity. By the time I realized how much time had passed, though, all of those people had already passed away.
I’m not even sure what I’m capable of now, but I suppose it’s not so bad to watch over the growth of today’s youths, one step at a time.
“Now then, I’ll hand you each a parchment with some simple magic formulas, so make sure to memorize them by tomorrow. And remember that you must not use the spell you had just learned while not under my supervision. If you do…”
“”If-if we do…?””
Both their faces tensed up. They seemed to get along quite well, so much that even their held breaths synced up.
“I won’t teach you magic anymore♪”
Fire-attributed magic spells were extremely convenient, but at the same time, dangerous. This town had finally seen some hope for a revival, so I must have them remember such dangers it entailed. And make sure they never forget it, too.
In the present day, the decreasing number of active mages had apparently stemmed from the same concerns.
The Magic University issued licenses to mages, and ones without it seemed to be ridiculed as unofficial mages.
That was what Ryan had told me, out of concern for my situation, but there apparently was no particular laws that dealt with unofficial mages. Still, it can’t be denied that such mages would be at a great disadvantage of treatment if any incident occurred.
I had also explained all that to Lina and Tifa beforehand, but I would not worry about them, for I believed that with proper improvement, they would be at the level to attend the Magic University without issue.
~~Four O’clock in the Afternoon, The First Day of the Eleventh Month~~
Since I had ended the magic class a little earlier, I decided to pay a visit to Mana’s combatant class.
Her class was being held near the plaza, where the working women and elderly could also keep watch.
Some parents did not want their children to participate, of course, but it was not mandatory in the first place. Rather, we had insisted that participation was strictly voluntary.
“Hey, Mana, how’s it looking over here?”
“Oh, Asley. Everyone’s finally decided on weapons they think they’re a good fit for.”
Over the past month, I had discussed the matter of the children at length with Mana, and we had built quite a friendly relationship with them.
As young as Mana still was, she was an excellent instructor, who thought in the best interest of the kids and had remembered every one of their names.
On the subject of ages, Reid was 28 years old, Mana was 20, and Lina was 13. Also, it may be worth mentioning that Reyna was 23, and Ryan was 49.
Quite a lot of kids participated in the combatant class, and some among them were quite the active rascals. In bygone days, there had been a theory stating that one’s personality decided whether they would be more fit for a mage or a combatant, and that may have proven to be true to a relevant degree.
“So, Asley, care to go a round with me? The kids wouldn’t stop bugging me about wanting to watch one.”
“Sure, no problem. I’m not all that good, though.”
I shrugged, and Mana took a practice wooden sword from one the kids and laughed.
Cheering could be heard all around, some from the kids and the rest from the women who were here to draw water at the well.
“I thought you’d say that. So far, I’ve only seen your skills as a mage, and not your martial arts… well, physical abilities, so…”
“Right… If I say so myself, I might be on the upper level of average?”
“Heh heh… now you’re sounding confident!”
Mana opened by brandishing her sword and dashing to close the distance between us. I braced myself and intercepted her swing with my staff.
The clash of wood and wood echoed through the plaza, grabbing the attention of those who were working in the vicinity.
“No way… you stopped that?”
“Well, I’ve been wielding staves for a ‘long time’ now!”
I said as I jumped back, opening some distance from Mana.
Once again, Mana closed the gap and swung from her right, prompting me to take another step back. Mana then took yet another step and reversed her swing.
I’d avoided it but also staggered, leaving myself open for Mana to throw a left front kick. I narrowly blocked it with my staff, but was knocked back all the same. As if to deliver the final blow, Mana closed in with a roundhouse slash.
I ducked to avoid it, which ended up looking like me flopping onto the ground, and knocked Mana’s pivot leg with my staff. Tough I’d successfully thrown one of her legs off-balance, Mana instantly switch her pivot leg and threw down a heavy slash.
In a clumsy dodging movement, I rolled to the side and scrambled myself up, then moved in for a strike while her sword was down, to which she lifted it up to intercept.
Once again, a clash of wood and wood resounded. However–
“All right, that’s enough!”
It turned out that that Reid had stopped our clash by whipping a scabbard between our weapons.
“Brother…? Why’d you stop us?”
Mana puffed up her cheeks as she turned to Reid.
“The audience’s bound to be scared when things get too flashy, yeah? Look…”
Reid gestured us to took at the children by pointing his chin, and Mana timidly turned around. She was probably worried that she might have come off as a maniac.
With that, she was concerned whether she’d just mentally scarred the kids, but the kids themselves–
“That was awesome, Mana!”
“You too, Asley! You were like, boom! And bam! And–“
They showered us with praises.
That prompted the women and the old folks to cheer for us as well, making Mana redden up with embarrassment.
“You weren’t half bad either, eh, Asley? I never thought you’d keep up with Mana that well.”
“Ha ha ha, that did take everything I had, though.”
“If so, Mana would have no chance against you in a proper battle, eh?”
“B-brother? What’d you mean by that?”
Reid took this chance to lecture Mana, seemingly to distract her from the awkwardness. Seeing her like this reminded me that even with her responsibilities, she still had a child-like side to her.
“I mean, Asley also has magic and magecraft up his sleeve, right?”
“Well, I haven’t used any of my special techs either!”
“Hey, if he can do magic, wouldn’t that mean he has support spells as well? That’s why mages are considered beastly powerful, you know? Then again, there’s the Six Braves as well, being all-powerful and stuff.”
“Well, that… that’s true, but…”
Mana grumbled, seeming dissatisfied, but nodded in agreement nonetheless.
Reid let out a hearty laugh and patted Mana’s shoulder.
Frankly, I felt quite envious to see siblings get along this well. For me, the only child of my family, I had never experienced that type of relationship… well, Pochi might have been something like that for me in a way.
From that point on, the days went by without incident.