Chapter 183: Measuring Magic
<span class=”s1″><b>ARTHUR LEYWIN</b></span>
Measuring and recording someone ‘magic the hell out of people,’ was a rather un-intuitive way of describing an unfamiliar process to a group of elderly mages—and two teens.
However, once Emily quelled her enthusiasm and began slowly explaining the functions of the disks all over the room and the metal panel filled with gauges, as well as the leather armor I was wearing, I could see the excitement bubbling up on everyone’s faces.
“So the things attached all over the room serve as detectors of some kind to record how powerful a spell is?” Camus asked, tilting his head.
Emily nodded. “The word ‘powerful’ is a vague term, but yes. The disks were rather tricky to make because each one of them needs to be sturdy enough to receive the impact but sensitive enough to accurately transmit the feedback into my recording panel. That’s just one of its main aspects though; the other, I’ll explain in a bit.”
“What were those glowing lines connecting the disks earlier?” Hester asked.
“Good question!” Emily nodded. “Well you see, a spell is rarely going to be the size of just one sensor so I needed each disk placed relatively close to one another with sensors in between so that even when a spell is several yards in diameter, the disks can accurately gauge the impact or force of the spell. I made a new term for this measurement—It’s called force per unit, or fpu. The glowing trails of mana, that light up once powered sufficiently—in this case, by Princess Kathyln and the four elders—serves as sensors that connect each disk to one another so I can more accurately gauge the fpu of a spell as soon as it’s released into the field of disks.”
I could see more than a few eyes glazed over from confusion by Emily’s excited explanation, so I was tempted to remain quiet and let her run out of words to say, but I was curious about something as well. “So the disks act as sensors after basically being struck with a spell. What if I hypothetically fired a blast of wind at Elder Buhnd and he blocked it? The spell would never reach any of the disks, so would that spell not be measured?”
Emily’s eyes lit up. “As expected, you caught on to one of the shortcomings rather quickly. I realized in the early stages the same problem. If these disks were just targets to be hit, then the impact they receive is enough to get an accurate reading on the force of the spell. But in cases where live sparring takes place, more than half of the spells would be either unreadable or inaccurate at best due to being partially or fully mitigated by a counterattack from the opposing side. I said earlier on that recording through direct contact was just one of the main aspects of the disks. The other is also the reason why I needed to cover the whole room. Each of the disks not only sends visible trails of mana to the disks around them, but also creates a sort of ‘pressure’ that can be read right at the force of a spell as soon as it’s formed.”
“Is that why I had to help you put all those disks so deep beneath the ground?” Buhnd asked, scratching his head.
“Exactly, and so the disks aren’t in the way even when using earth magic!” she replied. “Thanks to Elder Buhnd, installing the disks underground was easy. It is through the sensors in the ground, all over the walls, and on the ceiling that manipulated mana can be measured even without the need for any of the disks to actually be physically hit with a spell.”
“Okay, so basically having this room completely surrounded in these disks creates a room where mana can be measured,” I simplified.
Emily pursed her lips. “Well… yeah, if you want to just summarize an entire six months’ work into a sentence, I guess so.”
I let out a laugh. “Believe me, I know very well what you created here is a technological marvel that’ll help mages develop much faster in the future, but I don’t think any of the people here have plans on being artificers.”
“True,” Emily admitted, still pouting.
“So you explained what the disks and the panel does, but what about this armor you’re having me wear?” I asked.
“Ah, I made that armor for Miss Emeria’s sake,” the artificer replied, turning her gaze to Alanis.
My training attendant nodded before speaking. “Miss Wykes noted the possibility that this ‘environment’ might have an effect on my personal ability, so she created that suit so that I can make accurate readings throughout your training.”
“That’s a rather vague explanation. If I didn’t know any better, it seems like you’re trying to keep your ability a surprise, just like Emily with her invention,” I teased my robotic assistant.
She was, however, less than amused. Her expression remained deadpan. “General Arthur, you asked for specifics of Miss Wykes’ suit, not my ability. If you are curious about my ability, please tell me so.”
“Will do,” I replied, taken aback. My training assistant, unlike Emily, didn’t seem very keen on explaining anything and everything pertaining to a certain subject. “So, Alanis, what does your ability do?”
The stoic-faced elf nodded, satisfied by my straightforward question. “After making a physical connection with an individual, I am able to utilize nature-affinity magic to accurately observe the mana flow of said individual. ”
I heard a snicker from Buhnd. Taking a peek, I saw the dwarf nearby nudging Camus with his elbow and whispering, “Hehe, physical connection indeed.”
I held back a groan while Camus simply ignored the lecherous dwarf.
“So does that make you a deviant of nature magic?” I asked, curious.
While it was common knowledge that the higher forms of wind, water, earth, and fire magic were sound, ice, gravity, and lightning respectively—with metal and magma magic specifically a dwarven specialty—little was known about what nature magic exactly was. It was acknowledged that only elves were able to utilize nature magic, which made magic researchers believe it was a sort of deviant specialty of wind and water, just like how magma was a specialized combination of fire and earth. One example of nature magic was plant manipulation, like what Tess was able to do, but I’d never heard of reading mana flow using nature magic.
“Whether my ability is an evolved form of nature magic or a specialized peripheral use of it, I am uncertain,” she answered. “However, Commander Virion tasked me with providing accurate feedback on your mana flow throughout the course of your training like I had for a few of the other lances.”
“You helped out the other lances too?” I asked. I wasn’t as much surprised by the fact that the others had been helped by her but more so that Virion hadn’t told me about Alanis until now.
“Yes,” she disclosed.
“How intriguing,” Hester chimed in. “To what extent does this sensory magic show about General Arthur?”
Alanis took out a small journal, bound by worn leather. She flipped through several pages before reading aloud, “General Arthur’s rate of mana flow upon manipulation from mana core to extremities measures at roughly point-four-six seconds for body augmentation. For spell casting, there is roughly a forty percent increase in time for wind-attribute spells and fifty-five percent increase for earth-attribute spells compared to ice and lightning-attribute spells. Fire and water magic were not used enough during the session so no readings could be made.”
“Point-four-six seconds is awfully specific. How were you able to accurately measure the time?” Camus asked, his interest piqued as well.
Alanis took out a small cube-shaped device from the inside of her suit-like jacket. “Miss Wykes generously provided me this time-counting device.”
She pressed a small button on the side and the cube began whirring before she quickly pressed it again. She showed us the top of the cube, and it showed the time, down to a fraction of a second.
“Never thought I’d see such a useless tool,” Buhnd grumbled, obviously uninterested in the analysis of these numbers.
“Nonsense. That device can measure how fast you can run from one end of the room to the other with those short stubs you call legs,” Hester jeered, a smug grin on her face.
Buhnd let a loud snort. “Why do such a plebian thing like running when I can have the earth underneath me move my feet, you old witch?”
The two began bickering once again, making me wonder what their relationship was. It wasn’t just their bickering, though; back when we were sparring, all three of the elders had had an uncanny degree of coordination, like they had fought together before.
I made a mental note to ask either Kathyln or Virion later.
Turning my attention back to the two elves, it seemed like Alanis had just finished answering Camus’ question, which I’d missed.
“I see,” the old elf replied thoughtfully. “I wouldn’t want to hassle Miss Wykes too much about this so I’ll procure some materials myself.”
“It’s really no problem at all, Elder Camus,” Emily chimed in. “I was planning on improving Arth—General Arthur’s suit anyway. Making a few more wouldn’t be much of a strain assuming I have the materials at hand.”
“What’s going on?” I whispered, leaning toward Kathyln.
“Elder Camus asked if it was possible for Miss Emeria to do readings for multiple people,” Kathyln answered, taking a step back from me.
<i>Whoops. A little too close for her. </i>
I distanced myself as well, remembering the princess had always been wary of her personal ‘bubble.’ “Does that go for you as well?”
She nodded. “I’m curious to know how the speed of my mana flow compares to others.”
The aspect of comparison brought up a whole load of questions to mind that I wanted to ask Emily, but it wasn’t the time to ask that now. Instead, I turned to my training assistant. “Alanis, what were my numbers after I used Realmhea—I mean, after my hair and eyes changed colors?”
Everyone looked at the straight-laced elf expectantly. Even Hester and Buhnd, whose squabbling—maybe even flirting—I had tuned out, stopped to hear her response. <span class=”Apple-converted-space”> </span>
Alanis only had to flip a single page in her notebook before answering. “General Arthur’s spell casting efficiency, from the mental invocation stage to the physical shaping of elemental mana, increased nearly five-fold throughout all spectrums of elements, and…”
“And?” Buhnd pressed while everyone held their breaths.
Alanis shook her head. “My apologies, General Arthur. I did not record your body augmentation after the change in your form.”
“It’s okay,” I consoled. “Was it because there wasn’t enough of a difference in times?”
“Oh, no. It’s not because of that,” Alanis amended, her eyes wide. “I did not record you simply because I could not. General Arthur, your body augmentation speed is already normally on par with most of the lances. After the transformation, however, your body augmentation speed was much too fast for me to even attempt to measure.”
“How’s your brother doing these days?” I asked, hoping to fill the uncomfortable silence in the corridor.
We were walking in one of the residential floors of the castle. The clear view of the moon and stars just outside told us that training had gone far longer than intended after our in-depth discussion about the intricacies of Emily’s gadgets and Alanis’ deviant ability. With everyone either already asleep or down in the lower levels working, the castle felt almost abandoned.
“Curtis is doing much better now that Father has finally allowed him to leave the castle—under supervision, of course,” Kathyln replied with a hint of envy. “He described in his last transmission scroll how rewarding it was to be one of the assistant training instructors at Lanceler Academy.”
“You’re not so lucky, I’m guessing?”
“I had hoped that getting stronger as a mage would allow me a little more freedom, but the image my father has of me remains that of a timid little princess,” she breathed.
I chuckled. “Well, to be fair. You are pretty timid.”
“I-I have been told that I’ve become more outgoing!” Kathyln replied, flustered. “Even the idea of participating as your sparring partner was by my insisten…” Her voice trailed off.
“What was that?”
She quickened her pace, walking on ahead. “It’s nothing.”
We walked in silence once more and I found myself paying eerily close attention to Kathyln’s walking. Her footsteps had an almost lulling cadence, each footfall deliberately made on the balls of her feet to make little sound. She was small-framed but each stride exuded a confidence that seemed well-rehearsed. If I didn’t know her, just by her walk, I would’ve thought she was just another arrogant and pretentious noble.
She stopped, and by the time I raised my eyes, I found her looking back at me with just the slightest raise in her left brow. “Is everything okay?”
Realizing that I had spent the past few minute staring at her legs, I blushed. “N-No, I mean yes, everything is okay.”
“Your footsteps are very quiet; I didn’t know if you were still walking behind me,” Kathyln said, waiting for me so we could walk abreast.
“I could say the same for you,” I laughed, “If I couldn’t see you in front of me, I would’ve thought you were a ghost.”
“Mother was very strict on anything that could be seen by those around us. Curtis and I were forced to receive lessons that covered every spectrum of what is expected of royal blood,” Kathyln answered.
“Oh! My mom had Ellie go to those kinds of classes when she was little. Except for the only thing she seemed to learn was how to get out of chores by saying they were ‘unladylike,’” I breathed.
Kathyln had a faint smile. “Ellie is your sister, correct? Short for Eleanor?”
“Yeah. Have you met her? She’s usually in the outdoor balcony practicing her archery.”
“I have seen her on occasion but never talked to her,” she answered.
“She can be a bit intimidating with that bear she always takes around,” I admitted. “I’ll have to properly introduce you to her sometime. I’m sure she’d be excited to get to know you.”
Kathyln’s smile widened to a point where it actually looked like a smile. “I’d… like that.”
We continued talking as we made our way to her room. Hester was originally supposed to escort the princess back, but I wanted to get out of the training room and actually planned on getting something to eat after so I volunteered. The old mage was reluctant, but knowing Kathyln was with a lance and the excitement of measuring the fpu of her spells outweighed everything else.
She, along with the two other elders stayed behind with Emily and Alanis to measure the force of their spells. If someone were to stand absolutely still and stay quiet, it was possible to feel the castle tremble slightly every so often.
Kathyln’s room was just a few feet ahead when I remembered. “Does your guardian personally know Buhnd?”
She nodded. “All three elders know each other.”
My brows lifted in surprise. “Really? How?”
The three of them played crucial roles in the last war between human and elves. Darv sent soldiers to help Sapin during the war, which is how Hester and Elder Buhnd know each other. After the war was over, leaders from all three kingdoms were obligated to attend a summit held every couple of months in an attempt to mend broken bridges. I’ve heard of Elder Camus’ and Elder Buhndemog’s name mentioned several times by Hester. They often trained together before.”
“That explains their impressive coordination during the spar,” I noted.
I wanted to ask more about Hester and the Flamesworth House in general, but we had been standing outside of Kathyln’s door for a bit now and it felt more proper to ask Hester directly.
“Will you be okay by yourself, Princess?” I teased as Kathyln carefully unlocked her door with a touch of a palm. My room didn’t have a mana signature reader, but then again, having one probably didn’t do me much good.
“Father took extra precautions with the reinforcements in my room,” she said before taking out a familiar-looking pendant from around her neck. “I also have this.”
“That’s made from a phoenix wyrm, right?” I asked, knowing where I had seen it.
“I’m impressed you know what it is with such a brief glance,” she replied. “The artificer, Gideon, made these from the core and scale of a phoenix wyrm.”
“It’s beautiful,” I said, omitting the fact that I had bartered two of the same artifacts from Gideon almost ten years ago for the blueprints on the steam engine ship. Ellie and my mother were still wearing them now, one of the reasons why I could sleep a little easier at night.
“Thank you.” She tucked the phoenix wyrm pendant back inside her shirt. “And thank you for walking me back. I was happy to see Hester so eager but knowing her, she wouldn’t have stayed with me inside.”
“No problem,” I responded. “It’s the least I could do for taking the time to help me with my training.”
She shook her head. “It’s training for me as well. No need to thank me for that.”
“Well, then let’s train hard and get even stronger.” I stuck out a hand.
Kathyln stared at my open hand for a moment before gingerly accepting the gesture.
Both her palm and her fingers were warm to the touch—hot, even—and her hand remained absolutely still in my grip. Making sure my friendly gesture didn’t linger until an uncomfortable duration, I gently squeezed her hand before letting go. “Goodnight.”
Without even a pause, she whipped her head away and shut the door. From the other side of her door, I heard a muffled, “Goodnight, A-Arthur.”