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Teach Us, Ms. Leonora!
(Chapter Three of the special series, published exclusively for the printed edition of Evil God Average Volume One. Takes place during the seventeenth chapter of the first volume.)
Leonora had just decided to lecture Anri and Tena about the intricacies of Dark Magic.
The girl stood atop a makeshift platform, her white lab gown fluttering behind her as she turned to face her two students. She’d even equipped herself with a teacher’s cane, although she abstained from wearing glasses for the added touch.
“So, you want to learn about Dark Magic, do you? Well… Before we can begin, there’s something I should ask. Can you two even use magic?”
Both Anri and Tena shook their heads in response. The two of them shared a more humble beginning as ordinary, everyday folk; magic might as well have been alien to them.
“I see. Well then, I suppose it’s best we start with the basics of magic. Allow me to explain just how magic is actually utilised.”
Leonora moved to a large sheet of paper that had been stuck to the wall, writing down two separate terms.
“There are, to put it simply, two requirements for making use of magic: Mana and Imagination.”
“What about Skills?”
She met Anri’s question with a nod and a hum.
A certain subset of those that roamed the world were blessed with what they called ‘Skills’, and skills based around sorcery were well documented. Anri, already familiar with that concept, had asked if those skills weren’t another prerequisite for the use of magic.
“If we ignore any of the more unique cases that allow someone to wield sorceries known to have a naturally limited set of users, as is the case with Light and Dark magic, then Skills really aren’t a necessity. Fire and Water Magic, for example, can be used naturally without the need for one.”
While it was known that Light and Dark Sorceries were limited to Humans and Demonkind respectively, there was nevertheless a handful of individuals that were either born with the capacity to invoke magic not available to their kind, or came to acquire them owing to unique circumstances. Those people were, without exception, gifted with a skill that pertained to these otherwise restricted feats.
Both Anri and Tena were prime examples of such people.
“Do skills for Fire and Water Magic even exist?”
“Oh, they do. Either can be used without the need for a skill, but those that do have them have a much easier time casting whatever type their skill leans towards. They also tend to be much more effective.”
Anri appeared satisfied with the answer.
“Still, they don’t come without their cons. For those that have a magic-type skill, using other types of magic becomes much more taxing. It’s not that they can’t be used, they just become harder to use. That’s why it’s so common for most of these skill holders to focus their efforts on what their Skill allows. And since you two have a Dark Magic skill, it’s better for you to turn that into your speciality.”
If, for the sake of argument, someone were to have a Skill pertaining to Fire Magic, then both their manipulation of mana and the maintenance of an image relating to that type of magic would be much more convenient thanks to the support provided by said skill. However, their natural predisposition to Fire Magic would affect their manipulation and whatever mental image they could conjure, which also meant that the same processes would become much more inhibited when using Water Magic.
“Um… I’ve got a question too, if you don’t mind.”
Tena had spoken this time, her hand raised timidly.
“Don’t you need something like a spell or a chant when you want to use magic?”
“Many make spells and incantations out to be a necessity, that much is true. The truth of the matter, however, is that they’re not completely mandatory. They’re more of a rite that makes magic easier to use. With enough mana and a clear enough mental image, it’s entirely possible to abridge them or leave them out in their entirety.”
“Oh, I see. I get it now.”
Having talked for long enough, Leonora cleared her throat and brought them all back on track.
“Alright then, let’s move on to something more practical. We’ll start with mana manipulation. Both of you, spread your legs to shoulder length, put your right hands in front of you and turn your palms upwards.”
Anri and Tena settled into their new position, just as Leonora had instructed them to.
“Now, curl your fingers a little and focus on the centre of your palms. Try to imagine the energy rushing around you slowly moving there.”
Graced with the view of two driven newcomers so intent on learning to manipulate their mana, Leonora simply crossed her arms and closed her eyes, seemingly reminiscing about the good old days.
“It’s entirely possible that you won’t be able to imagine the flow around you, at least not on your first try. It’s just something you need to do over and over again until you get it right. Everyone moves at their own pace, but it still takes at least hours to―”
“I did it too.”
“No, no, that’s way too damn quick!”
Leonora, faced with the sight of the two mastering the skill with ease, could do very little but play the straight man.
“W-Well, no matter… That’s what it feels like when you focus your mana. You can use that to create just the right quantity and density of mana, get the right image in your head, and then chant. Like I said, the better you get, the closer you are to not needing chants at all. Well, we’ve come this far. We might as well try out some beginner-level spells.”
Seeing them both master what had taken her hours and hours in a matter of minutes had been a great shock for Leonora, that much was true. She still looked past her own feelings on the matter and decided to move on to the next step, teaching the other two the incantation to a spell that would allow them to spew an orb of Dark Magic.
“Now that you’re done gathering mana in your palms, face them towards the wall and imagine a ball or darkness. Just hold on to that picture in your heads and chant the spell I just taught you. It’s a little challenging until you get used to it, especially since the incantation tends to distract you from the image. But if you keep practising over and over again, you should be able to get it right.”
It barely took a moment for two large orbs of darkness to spawn on their palms, each bigger than a person’s head might be. They shot from their hands, charging into the wall and leaving behind a large, gaping hole.
“Huh, it worked.”
“It worked for me too.”
“Oh come on, that’s still too quick!”
That made the second time Leonora was forced into the straight man role. It was bad enough for her that they’d taken an inordinately small amount of time to cast the spell, but the fact that the impact was so much more powerful that it should have been made it even worse. She was already sweating waterfalls, at least on the inside. To add insult to injury, the Dark Magic Skill they both possessed was clearly the main culprit behind their almost leisurely use of magic.
“W-Well… How about this spell?”
“Done and done.”
And that was when Leonora fell far enough to dish out much more complex spells, just to see if they could handle it. They also mastered those without breaking a sweat.
“Okay, how about this one?!”
“Would you look at that, it’s done too.”
It didn’t take long for her to to find herself bearing witness to every single Dark Magic spell she’d ever learned, her spirit being beaten black and blue in the process. Finally, she moved in with her last resort.
“B-But this one’s gotta be impossible, right?! I’m begging you, say it is!”
“Well, looks like I can use that too.”
“Me too, but I can’t say I’m handling it all too well…”
She attempted to teach them Dark Magic of the highest calibre, spells so difficult even she had yet to learn them. Those, she found, were cast so easily their expressions barely even twitched. And although it was rather obvious that Tena had only just barely been able to cast them, splitting hairs really wasn’t enough to console her.
Three hours went by and Leonora was, for one, utterly depressed. For another, her pride had been smashed to bits.