"So, what, does this test what kind of element of magic I'm suited to, or something?" Albert asked, watching the different colored lights dance along the lines of Kuzma's palm.
Kuzma looked to Calandra to see if she understood him, who shook her head.
"What do you mean by that?"
Al blinked, nonplussed. That was usually how it worked in the comics or anime.
"You know, like Fire, Water, Earth, Air..." He trailed off, not liking the smirk on Calandra's face.
"You've read too many Chinese Martial Arts stories," Calandra said, giggling. "Those elements don't exist."
"At least, not in the way that you're referring to," Kuzma added kindly. "The idea that the world was separated into 4 elements, or six if you consider the Chinese method, was debunked many centuries ago."
Albert felt his face redden, but he refused to acknowledge it.
"So then, what is the mana stone? What is it for?"
"Well, as you may have guessed, mana stones form in a way that is very similar to diamonds. They form in places that are under high-pressure and have a high concentrations of mana. This is why they are so rare. This is also why they are the perfect conduit for magic tools and, of course, training to utilize mana. "
"So, anyone can use mana as long as they have a mana stone?"
"Impressive, you intend to move straight to the difficult questions?" Kuzma nodded in approval.
"I can try and explain in more detail later, but long story short, yes and no. If the mana stone is inscribed with a function beforehand, then anyone can activate it. However, to do anything other than the inscribed function, or if there isn't a function, or further still if there isn't a mana stone, then only people born with the innate ability to manipulate mana can use it."
Kuzma tossed the stone to Albert, who caught it easily. The second his skin touched the hard stone surface, he could feel the energy in it swirling and absorbing the energy around it. It reminded him of a water filter, sucking in water and then re-emitting it again in a changed form.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" Albert asked, watching as a strand of energy separated from his body and flowed through the stone.
"Well, what do you want to do?" Kuzma asked simply.
Albert blinked. "What?"
"What do you want do with it? Conjure up flames, move the earth, fly along the wind?"
"I, what? I can't do any of those things!"
"Quit lying, you're already in the Mana Emission Stage," Calandra snapped. "Just channel your mana through it and do something."
"Channel my mana? Myrin?" Albert pondered, directing his thoughts towards the part of him that used to be empty.
"I'm not sure of what they mean by mana, but it may merely be a different name for Numen," Myrin replied, distracted by the stone in his palms.
"What's Numen?" Albert hissed, aware of the two sets of eyes upon him.
"Ah, yes, yes, Numen is the term for one's source. It's the one energy source that everyone, even the gods, have within them. It is by utilizing this force that Mystics can do the many wondrous things that they do. Similar to what this Kuzma mentioned, only few people can use Numen, so Mana may merely be a different name for Numen.
"Something wrong, lad?" Kuzma asked quizically.
"How do I channel Numen then?" Albert thought in exasperation, growing impatient with the God of Knowledge's uselessness.
"Ah, you've done so already. Just feel within you for the power you used to break the girl's sword and draw it out using your willpower."
"Um, okay then..."
Albert hesitated, unsure of how to go about doing this. He didn't really remember what he did before, he just remembered the anger and the rush of power flowing through him. He closed his eyes and searched within him for some trace of the rush of power he had felt earlier. He could feel Myrin's presence within him, glowing like a sun, its Numen rushing through his body. After a few more seconds, he became aware of something else, a pooling of energy completely different to Myrin's. If Myrin's Numen was like a sun, then this was the moon, a collection of silvery energy that pulsed and ebbed in response to Myrin's Numen.
This must be his own Numen, his Mana, Albert realized, enjoying the icy sensation of it, as it danced with Myrin's fiery Numen in an eternal dance.
Albert willed the cold pool of Numen within him to rise up, and he saw a stream of it separate from the rest. The stream coiled and curled around above the pool, eager to rejoin the rest of the energy below but chained back by the force of Albert's will. Al channeled the energy, driving it forward and towards his hand, which seemed very far away to him in this spiritual state. With an effort that left him breathless, he forced the energy through his body and and out of his palm.
Even without opening his eyes, he felt the difference immediately. His Numen rushed towards the stone like iron grit towards a magnet. The stone was voracious, drinking in the energy as a thirsty man in the desert would drink water.
Albert opened his eyes, feeling both exhausted and exhilarated. The stone in his hand glowed like a hot coal, but felt no hotter to the touch. In fact, it almost felt cooler.
"Yes, you see?" Kuzma chuckled. "Now that you've drawn your energy into it, direct it to do something."
Albert's gaze flicked to the fire in the center of camp that sent red and orange lights dancing amongst the camp and the entrances of the tents behind, then up above, where the pouring rain still battered against the invisible shield. With an idea in mind, he pictured water pooling on top of the domed shield, somehow not surprised when the droplets of rain immediately began doing as he commanded. The mana stone had immediately shot the collected energy above them.
Next, he sent the rain spiraling downwards, like water down a toilet, creating a large waterspout. He teased the water downwards, altering its path to the left, and then the right. He enjoying the water moving around at his command, and he made it slither above them like a snake. Then, he directed the head of the snake towards the center of the stone fire-pit. Once Albert had completed the thought, the floating serpent dissolved and shot towards the fire with a force stronger than a fire-hose. The water doused the fire immediately and began flowing out of it, with more and more water flowing down after it. A wave caught them and Albert was shoved backwards.
"What are you doing!" Calandra sputtered, managing to hold her self on a nearby boulder.
Panicking, he gripped the stone tightly in his hand, worried that he might lose it in the deluge. Quickly, Albert imagined the water retreating back upwards, flowing upwards like an upside-down waterfall.
However, this time, Albert didn't feel the mana stone react instantly. He couldn't feel any surge of power, nor the confidence that it imbued. The water would not heed his call.
It continued flowing downwards, quickly filling up the magical dome in a swamp of murky water. Albert rapidly went from treading water to being completely submerged. He could only barely see anything around him due to the small amount of dim light that the Mana stone still emitted. The campsite around him looked grey, and eery. The stone had apparently already used the energy he had supplied it.
He had to give it more.
As he shut his eyes to try and locate his Numen again, his chest burning with lack of air, he felt his feet touch ground beneath him and then his face was greeting by air. Albert coughed and allowed the blessed air to flood into his lungs. Never again would he take breathing for granted. It was the greatest feeling in the world. Each shaky breath brought with it the realization that he was alive.
"Well," Kuzma said, standing before Albert with his hands outstretched, calmly guiding the water out of the dome. "Even if I didn't believe you before, I do now. You definitely need training."
Thanks for waiting for the new chapter.
Living in a foreign country is surprisingly taxing mentally so it took me longer than I would have liked to get this out. I won't promise anything, but I will try and at least get one chapter out a week. It should become easier as I get used to my new schedule.
See you soon!
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