Luke grins, looking down on his uncle. He extends his arm to him, which Olin takes promptly. Luke shifts his weight and helps Olin get on his feet, his uncle a lot heavier than expected. “So, what do you think uncle Olin?” A warm smile was plastered on his face, his bright orange eyes sparkling in the sunlight.
Olin answers with a grin of his own, pride evident in his eyes. “You have grown so much young master. I must say that I am proud of how far you’ve progressed.” The old mage dusts off his tunic and proceeds to ruffle Luke’s dark black hair.
Luke doesn’t retaliate, finding comfort in the company his uncle provides. They prepare to go back to the shack when a familiar thumping can be heard in the tree line behind them. Luke jests, chuckling at the well-known approach of Tyrone the Treant. “I guess lunch is ready.”
As expected, Tyrone emerges from the trees, carrying Nieko on his back. He smiles and waves furiously at the two mages, causing Nieko to hold on for dear life. “Tyrone! Are ya tryna kill me ya big oaf?!” Nieko shouts, which makes Tyrone realize what was going on. Nieko loses his grip and falls for a good bit before Tyrone snatches him out of the air, accompanied by a loud thud.
Luke and Olin laugh, amused by the sight in front of them. A thought crosses Luke’s mind. “Uncle, you have met Xylia, haven’t you?”
Olin nods, still looking at Tyrone and Nieko arguing in the distance, the latter doing most of the talking. “I have. She was a spirited one, that pixie! If I did not know any better, I would have thought she hated me.”
The thought of Xylia hating his uncle wasn’t too far off, but Luke decides to keep his mouth shut. “She was with me when I was in Blepalon, right after mother gave me the Hearthfire.” Olin looks at him, a concerned look now on his wrinkled eyes. “Don’t worry, mom just bid farewell. I was just wondering why I can’t call Xylia like when I was in Blepalon.”
To further prove his point, Luke attempts to summon Xylia, the same way he did in the Severed Realm. He concentrates his manna into a single point, hoping to conjure the pixie. However, Xylia did not appear as expected, which saddened Luke. Olin speaks, his voice giving Luke assurance that there was nothing to worry about. “I do not know much about pixies, nor do I know anything about escaping from Blepalon being a possible feat. But I can only guess that she must have expended an immense amount of manna getting you out of there, which could only mean that she requires rest.”
Luke nods, his uncle’s words making sense to him. Nieko shouts in the distance, finally finishing his rant with Tyrone who was now sitting behind Nieko, imitating his gestures. “Oi! Food’s ready!” He gestures for them to come, which Olin and Luke certainly do.
They arrive at the shack, its structure improved with the help of Luke and Olin. Its once broken windows and fragile looking woodwork were nowhere to be seen, replaced by the evidence of Olin’s mastery in the field of architecture.
Luke is the first to break their silence. “Nieko, how’s uncle Souyer doing?” This causes Nieko to smile brightly. “The old sod’s doing great mate! After ya hit him with your mojo, he seems a lot more energetic than I’ve seen him in years!” This makes Luke glad since Luke was the one who tended to Souyer’s ailments, completely erasing the diseases that have encumbered the old man.
The scent of delicious stew filling the entire house hits them as soon as they entered, making them realize how hungry they really were. Nieko leads the way into the dining room, leaving Tyrone to stay outside. Luke and Olin follow him. A small wooden table barely enough to fit the four of them lies in the middle of the room. A huge pot of stew is placed in the middle, which Nieko attempts to get a spoonful of. This gets him a thwack from Souyer’s ladle, causing Nieko to grimace in pain for a good second.
“Have a seat! I was feeling awfully well today, so I decided to make stew enough for everybody to feast on!” Souyer gestures Luke and Olin to their chairs, which they promptly take a seat in.
Lunch went by quickly, with each spoonful a delightful burst of wonderful flavor. Luke looks at Souyer’s warm smile, his white hair and trimmed beard gives him a look that always seemed to be contented. The young Laisren catches the old man wink at his uncle, which meant that this recipe was Olin’s. Olin simply nods in response, a sense of pride evident on his face.
Nieko is the first to rise from his seat, asking Luke to follow him upstairs. Luke follows, leaving the Olin and Souyer downstairs. Nieko speaks, his voice filled with excitement. “Mate, you won’t believe what I just made!” The lack of weight on his accent catches Luke off guard, which Nieko explains. “I don’t talk like that always, only when I feel like it. I’m weird, sue me.”
Luke does not speak however, simply following Nieko into his room. The room was unexpectedly neat, way too neat for someone who seems to be as messy as Nieko. Near his bed, a huge wooden desk lies with various tools placed upon it. A blueprint was plastered on the wall overlooking it, one that seemed to be of Nieko’s own design. A metallic contraption which resembles a glove lies in the middle of the workbench, resembling the one on paper.
Nieko sees Luke’s interest and proceeds to lift the gauntlet for Luke to see. “I call this the Manna Gauntlet, the Maga for short.” He points at the blueprint, further explaining how the contraption works. “Manna is something that you mages use to conjure your magic, right? So I was thinking, if us Feebles were to have a catalyst to do the work for us, we might be able to do something similar to you guys!” Nieko puts the Maga on his right hand, its base shining faintly in the low light.
The silver gauntlet suddenly comes to life as Luke sees an immense amount of manna funneling within it. Luke now understood how it works, with its design being similar to how a mage uses his own body to process manna. The base was made of a material that was resistant to any form of magic, a mineral known as Mohnet. How Nieko came to get a hold of something so expensive baffles Luke. Once the manna enters through the suction above, it then converts the energy and stores it for the user to do something similar to magic later on, though it would be far more raw.
“That’s impressive. Although the nature of manna you’ll be using is random, it’s still an impressive feat nonetheless.” Luke pauses, as he sees Nieko smile with pride. “How did you come up with this?”
Nieko points towards a book found on the desk, the same book that Luke had been reading ages ago when he was trying to figure out what was different with him. It was now easy to see why Nieko would pursue something like this, as Luke was in a similar situation himself.
Nieko now takes off the gauntlet and places it on the workbench. “It still needs something to manually control the amount of manna that it releases, otherwise all of the manna stored will just be given off in one powerful blast.”
Luke comes up with an idea. “A limiter…” He picks up the pencil and starts to draw on the blueprint, ideas now flooding him. Luke sketches beautifully, a trait that resembles his father’s. “Allow me to help.”