An Angel's Thesis Original

SS) No Mana

Dirt mixed with sweat is smeared across Aiden’s face.  It covers him all the way from his black hair down to his feet.  Green leaves and flower petals cling to his body and mud caked clothes.  Yet, despite his filth, excitement radiates from his dark eyes. Anticipation laces his voice as he says, “Hey, hey, are you free?  Can you help me out with something really quick?”

Deeper in the woods within a small clearing sits a lone, light grey, blouder.  Carved into the ground around it is a magic circle with a diameter of 3 meters.  Rocks and sticks are laid out in key areas of the circle, making it three dimensional.

The man Aiden dragged along steps to the edge of the circle.  He looks around and says, “How’d that rock get here?  It isn’t from this part of the island.”

Aiden gives a halfhearted, “I rolled it,” before leaping onto the rock.  He looks over the circle and grins.  “Perfect!  Alright, let’s get started.”

The man looks from the circle to Aiden.  Underneath the grim covering Aiden’s arms are various cuts and scrapes.  He didn’t clear the field and make the circle with alchemy, he did everything by hand.  “What do you need me to do?”

Aiden’s excitement spills into his gestures.  He waves his arms and flings them at the circle as he says, “Just need to pour some mana into the circle and activate it.”

“That’s all?”

“No helping it.  I don’t have any mana.”

The man looks Aiden over with a faint smile on his face.  “You’re the scholarship student everyone’s been talking about this past year.”

Aiden’s glee falls at the remark. “The ascension ritual was a failure.”  As the man is taken aback by the shift in tone, Aiden adds, “Sure, I survived, but the whole point of that that ritual was mana.”

The man chuckles.  “And now you’re here.”

Aiden shrugs.  “This spell is designed to draw mana from the surroundings and funnel it into my body here in the center.”

Approval laces the man’s voice.  “How tenacious, but why not ask Camilla for help? Isn’t she the one who over saw your ascension ritual?”

Aiden gives a flat, “She’s busy.”

The man then approaches the magic circle’s edge with an, “I see,” and activates it.

The lines Aiden dug into the dirt emit a faint white light as mana channels into the circle. The carved circle shines white while the sticks and rocks placed on top glow red. Branches shake and leaves rustle as a mana funnels around Aiden on the boulder.

Aiden hunches over from surprise.  Exhilaration courses through his body as mana builds within its seven chakra points.  Their warm pulses give him a soothing sense of completion.  He feels like a bird finding his wings.  The initial shock on his face melts into a grin bursting with laughter.  Then, right when he’s ready to soar, they’re clipped.

Anger distorts his joy and frustration laces his tone. He glares at the man as he says, “What gives?  It was working!  Why’d you stop?”

The man shakes his head.  “Your spell wasn’t drawing mana from its surroundings.  It was taking it from me.”

Aiden clicks his tongue, but doesn’t retort.  He scrutinizes his circle from atop of bolder to search for what he needs to change.  His scowl and clenched teeth, the jerks of his head as he looks left and right, and his incoherent mutterings display the depths of his frustration, but he remains undeterred.  His eyes burn with the desire to acquire mana.

The man, impressed by Aiden’s attitude, says, “It’s a known fact that spell casters produce mana within their own bodies.  Even if the mana is used up, it will refill itself.  The crown, third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, spleen, and root are always producing mana inside of spell casters.  Something like this, drawing mana in from your surroundings.  This is practically heresy from the common world view.  How’d you come up with such an idea?”

Aiden, focused on analyzing his failed magic circle, gives the man half his attention as he says.  “It was just a thought.  According to Shintoism, animals like foxes and raccoons gain magical abilities after living for a long period of time.  Under certain conditions, the same can apply to inanimate objects too. The best known example is swords gaining souls after 100 years.

“That’s when I thought about trees.  They’re everywhere. They’ve also been around longer than us.  Can they gain souls, become sentient, and wield magic?  According to my research, yes, they’re called treants.  So, my hypothesis, do trees gain the ability to use magic after their souls, or could they always use magic but lacked the ability to do so because they didn’t have souls to make them sentient?  If the latter, then I should be able to syphon the mana for myself.”

“Hoo, interesting, interesting.  A perfect example of innovation out of desperation.  However, you’ve made a mistake.”

Aiden looks away from the magic circle and gives the man his full attention.  “Really, what, where?”

“I’m not a spell caster.  I am one of the normal humans brought to this island to help keep it operational.”

Aiden’s taken aback at the remark.  “What? But didn’t you just channel mana?”  He leaps off the bolder towards the man at his nod.  He leans towards him with hope, desperation, and anticipation all over his face.  “How?”

“You’ll become one of my students?”

“Please, teach me!”

The man nods and gestures for Aiden to follow him back onto the path.  As they walk, the man says, “If you wish to learn under me, then you will refer to me as Sifu.  Is this clear?”

“Yes, Sifu.”