4-3 After the Disaster…
It was past noon.
The chilly air, combined with the cloudy weather, made me feel that dusk was already setting in. The clouds that had covered our heads thickly and densely when we had left had not yet cleared, casting dark gray shadows and clear raindrops on the ground.
“It doesn’t look like it’s going to stop.”
My nostrils itched, not because of the rain that had begun to fall, but the dusty air that’s been lingering in the abandoned fortress.
The rain may be a blessing in disguise, but in areas where magic is strong, it can be a deadly enemy. For some reason, magic has a high affinity with water and rain that comes down from the sky with a lot of magic in it is an inevitable disaster for creatures that are not resistant to magic.
It goes without saying that direct contact with raindrops will cause a cumulative effect on the body, even if it doesn’t get wet, as the concentration of magic power near the surface rises.
This is where barrier magic comes in handy…
“…… I’m really sorry for the trouble …………”
Between the faint moans lies Hazel, who collapsed shortly after the battle with the dragon and begins his journey on a cart. Now, his pale face has turned red and he’s lying on the futon like an invalid.
We took a detour along the way and jumped into an abandoned fortress and managed to get out of trouble, but we couldn’t move because Hazel wasn’t feeling well. As expected, walking with only the barrier put up by Lute has a risk of becoming checkmate for us if anything happens to him.
“All right, you should rest. If you don’t get back in shape by the time we leave, we won’t be able to proceed.”
Paula, who was standing by the bedside, complained. As she said this, she used ice magic to make an ice pack and covered it with a cloth and put it on Hazel’s forehead.
After the battle with the dragon, Hazel fainted. The barrier that protected him was damaged and he fell into a coma called “magic sickness” due to being exposed to magic. I’d been so focused on dealing with the dragon that I hadn’t realized that my magic had affected Hazel’s barriers as well. It’s not only that I trusted the barrier magic, but I also made a very beginner-like mistake.
“Don’t worry about it Sage.”
Did she guess my inner thoughts or did I show it on my face? Paula broke the silence.
“No, I should have used a safer magic.”
“No, no. My big brother really doesn’t have any resistance to magic, you know. He’s like a little animal!”
“Weakness is such an extreme ……”
“No, I didn’t tell you, but my older brother doesn’t seem to have a good magic circulation. I also liked barrier magic and learned it because he was dying on a daily basis.”
“If his magic circulation is ……? Then maybe I shouldn’t be around.”
“No, I’m putting up barriers around him now…..”
She said it’s okay, but it doesn’t sound like it.
In the first place, magic sickness is very difficult to develop as a premise. The magic power that resides in the human body is sometimes compared to heat and sweat due to its nature and as it’s often called “Circulating magic power,” it constantly circulates around the body surface even when unconscious. This is a premise that is no different for wizards and ordinary people and this small amount of magic power shields us from magic that can harm our bodies.
And humans cannot stop or enhance this cycle. In other words, with a few exceptions such as overuse of magic, it’s basically impossible to lose the shield of circulating magic power.
In the past, curious wizards have devoted themselves to the study of consciously eliminating circulation. If they succeeded, they could reduce the unnecessary release of magic power. They had high expectations and as a result, their three years of research ended in vain.
Hazel, unaware of the hardships of the past researchers, has spent his childhood without using circulating magic not realizing it. In the beginning, it was something that could happen unconsciously, so there was no way to teach him or learn it and he must have solved it with the help of barrier magic.
“Did he not study it? There are many things you can do, like using magic tools to soften it.”
“He did. But even if you say so, they all work with magic power, right? He bought one, wore it to bed and woke up to find his bed red with nosebleeds.”
Oh, well. Paula broke off her words and sat up. As if to control her movement, Sage rushed to stand up.
“Oh, I’ll take care of the patrol.”
I don’t know if my agile movements were creepy or not, but Paula turned to me and froze as if she didn’t know what to say.
“I… you used the most magic power right? Why are you so energetic?”
“It’s because it’s my job. You should look after Hazel.”
“Even if you say something like that, it won’t fool me.”
Pushing her hair back from around her forehead with her fingers, Paula sat down besides Hazel, making a strange expression. Without looking back at her dissatisfied expression, Sage quickly left the room without hesitation.
“I don’t know if he’s being quiet or secretive, but I think I understand why Chris is so worried about Sage.”
Paula’s small lips let out a heavy sigh. Ahead of her, Lute, who was reading a book on the other side of Hazel, looked up involuntarily.
“Sage-san may be the exact opposite of Hazel.”
“…… What’s that gesture?”
“I’m imitating the intelligent person on the book.”
As he said that, Lute proudly pushed up his glasses with the pad of his finger. After repeating it a couple of times, he noticed that Paula’s expression had cooled down, so he closed the book in a hurry to cheat.
“So, what’s with his constitution?”
“I felt uncomfortable with the fact that he was able to use so many different kinds of magic, but was not concerned about retaining the overflowing magic power. Hazel has the advantage of not wasting magic power but there’s no advantage in letting it waste, is there?”.
“Are you saying that…… Sage wastes magic?”
“I’m just guessing. But for those who have such a huge amount of magic power, it may just be a waste.”
“Well, he won’t be able to use magic as he likes when he gets back.”
“He won’t be able to use it, especially if it’s on a scale that would satisfy him.”
Lute agreed with a wry smile.
Unlike swords and spears that require permission to possess, magic basically does not require any modified permission. As long as it can be used, if a housewife starts a fire on a daily basis, in principle, there’s no blame.
Of course, it is a different story if it is misused. If you try to use magic with malicious intent in the castle of Fermina, which is an advanced country in the field of magic, the court mages will come to you in the blink of an eye and depending on the situation, you’ll be put in jail immediately. The main reason why the regulations are looser than for material armaments is that it is easier for people to detect that you have used it.
However, in Sage’s case, the scale of the magic he uses is far beyond the safety standards of the human world.
If Lute’s hypothesis is correct, then for Sage, magic is not something to be stored, but something to be dissipated and staying in the human world would be like chaining an infant who has too much energy.
However, we can’t talk about it in the same way as the selfishness of infants, in that no matter how many adults there are, they’ll not be able to stop it…….
In the tranquil space submerged in consideration, the sound of clothes and coughing broke the air. Paula’s gaze, with her face raised, crossed and overlapped with Hazel’s gaze when he woke up.
“What? You were listening to me? Are you feeling better?”
“Yeah, I think I’ll be able to walk tomorrow. But ……”
“? what’s wrong?”
Hazel smiled bitterly, looking up at Paula’s seriously troubled face from his bed.
“…… Aside from Sage, what are we supposed to do once we reach the border?”
Paula’s fingertips quivered as she lifted the blanket, her sweaty lips shaking as Hazel continued.
“To the people of Lurain, we are ……”
“No need to say more. Don’t say anything else, just think about getting better.”
“I know, I’m sorry. When I’m weak, I feel weak. …… No, I ……”
As Hazel’s last sentence melted away, a gentle sigh followed. Paula clasped the edge of the blanket that she was still holding and pressed her lips together with a smile that didn’t look good on her young face.
“Paula, don’t let it crush you too. We don’t have the luxury of being able to think about how we’ll be treated after Sage sends us home.”
“…… I know. I’m sorry, we just have to think about surviving and getting to the border.”
Paula repeatedly hung Hazel’s open futon again and crouched while holding her knees as if looking into her brother’s face. Lute, who was staring at the situation like a parent watching over children lightly shook his head. Paula was also sleeping peacefully, and he didn’t have to go near her to find out.
He tried to speak to her, but he stopped talking and smiled at her instead. His fingertips faintly touched her forehead and a shadow appeared on his calm face.
“So that’s how it is, that person …….”
After watching the two siblings sleep for a while, Lute left the room without a sound. With the candlesticks left unattended to with only ashes on the side, Lute passed through the intricate corridor that seems to be a fortress and climbed the extremely dark stairs. The night sky with a mixture of dark blue and ashes spread over head.
In one corner of the landscape stood Sage, clad in a black robe that seemed to melt in the night.
“Hazel…..? No. Lute?”
“It’s the latter. What are you doing here in such a place?”
“Oh, if I cover here with protective magic, I wouldn’t need to look around in the first place.”
A shining yellow square light emerged on the palm of Sage’s hand. The light soared into the sky and transformed into a huge, glowing substance. As Lute gazed up at the sky in admiration, another light began to shoot out from Sage’s hand and soon the sky above the bonfire-less fortress was bathed in a broad daylight glow, illuminated by four glowing protective spells.
“Won’t the protective magic be dangerous to those inside?”
“If you’re on the inside, yes. But I thought it could also be used in this way ……!”
The lights that floated above their heads began to fall, tracing the movement of Sage’s fingertips. The light brilliantly covered all four sides of the fortress, scooping a mechanical trajectory towards the outer wall of the fortress.
“Lute, can you levitate for a moment?”
Lute who had a question mark wasn’t looked at and Sage who crouched down, touched one side of the stone pavement. As the oval flash ran around Sage, a pale light emerged from the gaps in the dark cobblestones.
Lute who was soaring, stomped a couple of times on his feet with a look of mixed suspicion and confusion, and his toes sank slightly. As he lessened his force, a resilient feeling bounced off the soles of his shoes.
So the entire expanse of the fortress, including the zenith, was covered in a single, short time.
“…… So that’s it.”
—This person is no good.
Human beings aren’t a physically strong species. But they have the wisdom to compensate for their shortcomings, the learning ability to support it and the technology to share and develop their knowledge and experience.
A long time ago, when the power of magic was born into this world, the Queen said, “If there’s an existence that threatens us, it’ll be humans”. Just as she had predicted, the development of human magic technology over the past few decades had been remarkable, but even so, we believed as if it were a matter of course that we were clearly superior to them at the moment.
–That confidence was shaken when they met Paula and Hazel and was quickly shattered by this knight who appeared out of nowhere.
It’s even more painful to see why talented people like Paula, Hazel, Chris and all the other excellent people treat Sage like he’s special. This person is special and that’s why he is being treated as special.
There are no standards of race in this place. The common sense of the past no longer applies.
In this place, humans are stronger than dragons.
“…… By the way, how strong is this protective magic?”
“I’d like to think that it won’t break unless I break it. It’s hard to answer when you ask specifically……”
Sage looks down but immediately raised his face and opened his mouth.
“…Well, it might endure the magic power of the dragon that attacked at the time of departure.”
“Okay, that’s good to know.”
A glowing sphere spilled out of Lute’s sleeve, which was hanging down lazily. The sphere, which bounced a few times on the cobblestones, cracked with a dry sound at the end of Sage’s line of sight. The flash that erupted from the gap painted the scenery that was colored pale even more blue.
In his hazy field of vision, Sage felt a disturbing pressure and took a semi-reflexive distance. His eyes which soon regained light, caught a shape that shouldn’t have been there and magic power ran through his entire tense body.
A huge body covered with scales, sharp horns, fangs and wings that beat the wind and drove through the sky. The dragon, which should have been defeated at the beginning of the journey, was seated with gem-like eyes glaring.
“…… Now, Sage-san. Do you want to have a little chat?”
With him on the dragon’s back, Lute proudly pushed his glasses up with his finger and smiled as usual.