Chapter 7: Training and disillusion
“Good, continue just like this. Don’t slow down. ”
I continued to shoot balls of flame from my right palm towards a target ten meters away from me. I did this for nearly an hour, until I was finally growing tired.
I was shooting one of the most basic magic but contrary to my expectation, just using this kind of magic was already really difficult for young mages. I thought that the mana consumption of a weak magic would be low but this wasn't the case for one simple reason.
My control over my mana was insufficient.
It was the same for everyone. You need time to learn to control your mana more efficiently and reduce the waste of consumption. It was something every mage need to learn by themself to be able to use more powerful magic requiring at the same time a bigger portion of mana.
Because of that, just shooting five balls of magic was apparently quite good for a young mage at first.
When Amanda explained me that, I finally understood what she meant when she told me that I had a ridiculous amount of mana.
Regarding my control over my mana, I was probably the same as the other children of the same age but because of my reserve of mana I was still able to shoot far more balls of magic before getting tired.
Of course, this was providing that I didn't move at all and focused entirely on my magic. It was exponentially more difficult to use magic while moving or just doing something else because your mind wasn't totally focused on the manipulation of the mana which increased the waste by tenfold.
Amanda was a powerful mage but she couldn’t keep with my pace in terms of mana. When looking at our respective mana pools, it was like comparing a small lake with an ocean.
She told me that she had a small mana pool but developped her control of the mana to not be at a disadvantage. As a result, she was able to use nearly as much magic when she didn't move than when she was running.
She used as much mana when she moved but that wasn't the case for me. I wasted an enormous amount of mana with each magic. When we were sparring together the superiority of her control came into light and left me without any way to compet.
I couldn't be her match for now but she made clear since the beginning that it will only remain true as long as my control over my mana remained at this level.
I was inferior to Amanda because she had far more experience but the other children of the same age were probably for the most part far from my level.
My large mana pool gave me another advantage. Whereas, other new mage exhaust their mana after a couple of minutes, it took me close to an hour of intense training to exhaust my mana. Because of that, my progresses were considered monstrous.
While others must often stop to recuperate some mana, it was not the case for me.
As a result, after four years of training with Amanda, I was able to become an advanced mage in three elements and a scholar mage in the water element. It was something that will normally need a couple more years to achieve at the very least.
By the way, to achieve scholar rank, you must be able to master what is communally called ‘barrier magic’. It was called that, because it was the obstacle you must surpass to achieve the next level of magic mastery.
For the water system, it was ‘water shield’, a magic that surrounds the body with high-pressure water. The act of moving water at a sufficient speed to be effective was the challenge of this magic. It required a lot of practice to master, but once I crossed this obstacle, a new world of possibilities awaited me by being able to add speed to the water I produced.
Before that, I was only able to surround my body with water or have some water interfere with the space outside my body.
It was totally useless, just as if I was firing raindrops. However, once I was able to add pressure and speed to the water I controlled, every useless magic I mastered became quite deadly.
She was so happy with my progress that she almost became a totally different person from four years ago, where she was constantly beating me.
The harsh look she gave me became a gentle one. Her voice full of impatience transformed into a beautiful smile with words of encouragment.
I didn’t know when I did, but I eventually stopped hating her.
I despised the cruel neighbourhood that deprived me of my family, but I was grateful to the woman who taught me magic.
At first, I didn't want to give up on my hatred toward her but after a couple of years by her side and with no one else to speak I finally gave up on the bitterness of my heart. Humans can't live with just hatred in their heart after all.
She was the only person I talked for several years. Even if someone explained this to me, I probably wouldn't have realized what this implied. Who would dare to say that they knew what it felt like to be in contact with a single person without encountering or talking with someone else for four years?
Without me noticing, she became the center of my life.
I wanted to talk to her, to know her. I couldn't hide those desires inside of me even if I wanted. I even became interested in her reasons for spending her entire time with me. Why was she doing it?
Was it for money, or because of her loyalty to my grandfather?
One day, I finally gathered my courage to ask her this question that was always on my mind.
“Why did you accepted to train me?” I asked.
“I did it, because my master asked me to.” she simply replied.
I stared blankly at her, which then turned into a questioning look. I was sure that this wasn't the entire truth, therefore I delved further into the topic.
“Is that a sufficient reason?”
“It’s the only reason I need.”
“Why are you so loyal to my grandfather? Did he promise you a lot of money to obey him? Will you become a noble when I end my training? Is he threatening you with a hostage?”
Several days after my prowesses in basic magic, she was still smiling and looked like the happiest woman in the world.
However, when those words left my mouth, the smile she put on had faded from her luscious lips. Her dark eyes became colder as she grabbed my chin, turning my head to face her dark pearl eyes that looked at me in fury.
I was already used to being hit by her and truly never cared whenever she did. It had been more than a year since the last time she hit me so I was even less afraid of her but the moment my eyes met hers, I suddenly became terrified. My body refused to move, as if I was immobilised in fear.
Her face slowly moved closer to mine, then in a silent voice that I almost couldn’t hear.
“Never say that kind of thing again. I don’t do any of those thing for my wellbeing. There is only one person in this world I truly care about and that is not you.”
My body shivered one last time before she let go of me.
We resumed our training and I never mentioned my grandfather to her ever again. She acted as if this never happened making me forget the fear I felt that day.
As days passed, I realized that I still wanted to get to know her.
After some time, I finally gathered enough courage to ask her a personnal question again.
“Do you have a family awaiting you?” She looked at me with an indifferent face.
“I never knew my parents, but I have a little sister somewhere in this world. However, I doubt she would awaiting me.”
She hesitated a bit before answering
“We’re not really close. We were, but not anymore. Life separated us years ago.”
“Do you miss her.”
“I do. Do you miss your family too?”
That question felt more painful than any of her punches.
“… I do.” I replied in a slightly depressed tone.
An awkward silence soon followed my reply as I remembered my situation.
“It’s alright to be sad, but never forget who you are and why we are doing this.”
I looked her in the eyes trying to guess what she was telling me.
She smiled before continuing.
“We don’t know what life holds for us. I was once a criminal and now I’m serving the head of the Waldemar house who rules over the entire east of our kingdom. I was just a bandit, but now I have reasons to be proud. You’re sad and angry right now, but I’m sure that when you accept your situation you will become the most outstanding leader of the Waldemar house this world has ever seen. I hope being by your side when the time comes. Will you let me?”
She looked me straight in the eyes. She wasn’t lying. She was thinking of every word she spoke, I was sure of it. This woman will follow me to the bottom of hell if I asked her.
“Yes, I will.”
I think I will remember this day my entire life, the day our hearts connected for the first time. The first time I wanted being beside another woman than Trisha.
After this day, she often smiled and hugged me. I had more and more difficulties denying my feelings, which were growing stronger every day.
I became aware of that fact when I caught a disease that nailed me to my bed. She spent the entire night under the blankets, watching over me. I almost couldn’t sleep that night with her curvy figure and her sweet scent next to mine.
I guess it couldn’t be helped as she was the only person in my life for the past four years.
**I suppose it’s what they call the Stockholm syndrome.**
I was only 9 years old, so I obviously didn't have a chance with her, but who said I couldn’t dream about it?
I finally stopped the slaughter of the metal target.
I sat on the ground, trying to catch my breath. Amanda came up beside me and wiped my forehead with a towel before giving me a cup of water.
“You did well today too. I’m proud of you. In his letter, your grandfather was very pleased with your progress. He is going to take you to the main mansion, so that you can continue your training and be given a proper education.”
I felt my heart sink within my chest.
“I-I will leave? When?” I asked in a shaky voice.
“He said he will come in a week."
“Will you…” I paused.
“Will you be coming with me?”
She smiled seeing the clear redness on my face.
“Of course I will follow you. We will be always together after all”
I couldn’t help but smile.
She came closer and gave me a hug, which I liked so much.
“I promise I will stay by your side, Sillath.” she said in a sincere voice.
After those words, I felt as if I had heard the voice of an angel.
“Thank you Amanda.” I replied with a pure smile.
The last week passed by in a flash.
We arrived at the front of the house to welcome my grandfather.
He was riding a carriage pulled by two tamed Vrapy.
It was a strong species that lived in the desert at the south of the Eastern continent beyond the red mountains. They were faster and stronger than horses, but were obviously much more difficult to obtain and consequently more expensive.
I learned that we were residing within the western side of the Eastern continent, a few miles away from the green sea, separating the continents.
Since he was coming from the eastern part of the Eastern continent, it wasn’t surprising he chose the fastest conveyance.
The beasts looking like giant lizards were covered in dark and red scales. They approached us pulling the large carriage. Their long spikes on their back and tail shone in the sun. Once the coachman pulled the cords around their neck, they laid down obediently. In this position, they looked like dogs with sharp teeth protruding from their monstrous mouth.
When the carriage stopped, I finally saw my grandfather for the first time in four years.
He was much thinner than last time and looked very tired. His disease seemed to have weakened him a lot.
“I’m glad to see you are well, Sillath. You’re taller and look much more like a member of the Waldemar house than last time I saw you. Good job with him Amanda.”
“I’m glad hearing your words of praise master.” She bowed her head with a smile. I imitated her and bowed my head, as well.
“I don’t have much time, I have a meeting with the King in a week. However, I wanted to see if you’re really a Sokeï scholar mage. It seems quite unrealistic, but since it’s Amanda who told me this, I can only believe her. I would like to see your magic, Sillath.”
I bowed once more and turned my attention towards the usual metal target at the other side of our training grounds.
I used the magic I practice every day. Small balls of fire, earth and wind flew to the target. The fireballs were engulfing the metal target, balls of earth crashed against it, whilst the wind I summoned was only moving some dirt around the metal object. As I hadn’t mastered the ‘Barrier magic’ for those 3 elements, neither of them were truly powerful. However, the water leaving my palm at a frightening pace left some traces on the massive metal target.
During those ten minutes, fire, earth, wind and water flew from my hand one after another. The balls of fire, earth and wind were slow to form and left my hand at an average speed but that wasn't the case for the balls of water. The difference between the magic before and efter the first barrier was fully displayed in this moment.
The barrage continued a few minutes until my grandfather told me to stop.
The rain of magic ceased as I turned to look him in the eyes.
His brown eyes were shining with a glow that I had never seen. His broad smile made him look much younger and stronger, as if the disease was only a figment of my imagination.
“It was true. You really are a prodigy. Hahahaha, the world will soon shake, once they start hearing your exploits and everyone will once again understand the true power of the Waldemar family. You did well my grandson.”
“Your words are too kind grandfather.”
I repeated the words Amanda told me beforehand. I didn’t want to incur her wrath by disrespecting this man. Even if I did hate him.
We then entered the house and spent several hours discussing the future that awaited me.
“We will travel to the mansion tomorrow. It will take us several days even with the speed of the Vrapy. Amanda will stay with you to help you familiarise, while I meet the King. After that, when I come back I will introduce you to your teachers. As the next head, you will have to gather a large amount of knowledge without stopping your magic training. It will be even harder than before; I hope you’re ready.”
“I am grandfather. Will Amanda stay with me after you come back?”
He looked at me with a small smile.
“If you want then she will stay by your side. Is that alright with you Amanda?”
“Yes master. I’m happy to able to serve the young master.”
It was the first time she called me this. It was unpleasant, it was a too distant way of speaking.
**I would prefer if she called me Sillath like she did before.**
I wanted to be able to become closer to her, so that one day she will answer my feelings.
“I still don’t want tell anyone about your existence. The coachman doesn’t know who I am.”
“Why did you do such a thing? You must have enough men to accompany you and surely more coachmen than you need. Therefore, why did you hire a stranger and traveled with him alone?”
He smiled wryly before making a small sigh. I knew he was around sixty years old, but he looked so tired that it made him look like a frail old man.
“It wasn’t always like this. Twenty years ago, when I was younger and stronger with my son with me, the Waldemar house was flourishing. However, everything changed the year your father left me. He was an excellent warrior and a proper magician, even if he wasn’t astonishing. He would have made a fine heir, if only he never dreamed about the outside world. He believed that the world was full of adventures and there were mysteries that awaited him. He always believed that, since the time he was a little boy. I thought it was just a transitory desire, but one day he confronted me and told me that he wanted to leave the house. He told me he wanted to be free. For a stupid reason like that, he abandoned me and humiliated me in front of the other houses. I was sure he would come back after a few weeks, maybe a few months, but he didn’t. Without an heir, the other houses saw this and took it as a sign of weakness and an opportunity to strike.”
He made a small pause to catch his breath. He looked so frail that it made me almost forgot that it was this man who took me away from my parents and threatened to kill them. I didn’t like him, but I was still grateful to him for allowing me to with meet Amanda.
When he caught his breath, he then continued his story. His voice was almost inaudible, but I could feel his sorrow and anger as words began to flow out of his mouth.
“A year after the departure of Millodas, three assassins attacked me. I escaped with my life, but at a huge cost. Their weapons were poisoned. It was a rare poison, you could only find on a powerful deviant spider hiding in the great land of sand in the south. This poison should have killed me, but I survived at the cost of my mana. Every day, my mana pool is consuming a little more. A man who can’t use mana in this country is worthless and as the head of the Waldemar family, I was as good as dead. Over time, the noble houses supporting me left, until I was alone. The men who swore their allegiance to me, also left me alone. I can’t trust anyone anymore, except for Amanda.”
His gaze became gentle as he looked upon Amanda. He then shifted his gaze to me once more before opening his mouth again.
“That’s why you’re a benediction, Sillath. With your power, the Waldemar house will be able to rise from the ashes, just like the legendary beast the ‘Nenshik’. Then, I will be able to destroy my enemies and claim back our past glory. You asked me why I didn’t take my own coachman or men to accompany me? It’s because I don’t have any and even if I did, I would not entrust them with the secret of your existence. Not until you’re strong enough to defend yourself.”
He wore a beaming smile on his face. It was a mad smile carrying the hopes of a man who lost everything. A heavy silence fell in the room.
“I must rest, my travels have exhausted me. You should do the same, Sillath, the travel will be long.”
I stood up and left the dining room.
I couldn’t sleep that night.
I pondered about his story. If everything he said was true, then I understood why he hated my father.
I also felt some sympathy for this old man after hearing his story.
**It was probably his purpose.**
As I was thinking about my future life, I heard a sound.
It was a regular sound. If I wasn’t already awake, I wouldn’t had heard it.
I didn’t knew what this sound was, but I replayed the story I heard a few hours ago.
**Assassins! Did they followed him in this house?**
I left my room as silently as I could.
Now that my door wasn’t covering the noise, I understood that it probably wasn’t assassins.
The sound was too regular. Persons cautious of not making noise couldn’t make it.
I wondered in front of my door if I should find what this noise was.
My curiosity quickly won the fight.
I carefully advanced in the direction of the sound.
It became louder and louder, until I could localise its provenance.
**It’s from Amanda room!**
I held back running to her room to see if she was safe.
I accelerated the pace and quickly found myself in front of her closed door.
I hesitated opening it, as I wasn’t sure what I would find.
I finally decided to look through the lock.
At first, I couldn’t see anything.
After focusing a few seconds, I saw Amanda’s black hair moving rhythmically.
I didn’t understood until I saw she wasn’t alone. My grandfather was behind her. They moved together. Each time her hairs changed directions I could hear a small moan coming from her mouth.
I stepped back in horror.
I couldn’t believe what I just saw.
**It’s impossible. She is… she isn’t like that. How could she... with him!**
My thoughts raced through my mind as tears began to fall from my eyes and slid down my cheeks.
I sat down against the wall in front of their door, unable to believe what I just saw.
She was the second woman I ever fell in love within my two lives and it was the second time my heart broke.
Her moans became louder, until it became unbearable.
I ran away without thinking that they could hear me. I entered my room and sat on the wooden floor after I closed the door behind me.
I spent the rest of the night crying. At some point, my cries became uncontrollable laughter.
**It must be true what they say: we’re born alone, we die alone and in between we try to change that. I lived alone and died alone in my previous life, it seems like it won’t be any different this time, either.**
This night, despair and loneliness once again seized my heart as I continued listening to the constant noise that awoke me from my disillusionments.