Second Wind: Rebirth of the Strongest Fighter
were considered sealed. Their magical energy was trapped within their bodies, unable to escape, effectively preventing them from ever using magic.
That alone was disgrace enough, but the Fell curse also caused internal mana to circulate wildly through a Fell childs body in cursed fashion, mutating them over time.
Children born as Fell seemed normal until they hit their seventh birthday. At that point, they would sprout a single horn, and from there, their life was forfeit.
Naturally, Fell children were seen as abominations.
Not just because of their inability to use magic and their hideous appearance. They were a threat to public safety; the longer they lived, the more they mutated, eventually growing insane and dangerous.
Common Fell children were therefore branded and stripped of their intelligence, turned into dumb but strong slave labor or, if they were lucky and from a recognized bloodline, given a chance to survive by being exiled and cast down from Sky Cities.
That wasn much better than a life of eternal slavery. Being cast down was essentially akin to a death sentence. Orian society cast that judgement on lowly criminals, the bottom-most, filthiest rung of society.
If I didn end up developing some way to use magic by seven years old, that was going to be my fate.
A fate that was basically the same as death as it meant I would be all alone in a hostile world, destined to be consumed by a curse that turned me into a mindless monster.
Very similar to being infected by the Mutagen back on earth.
That, of course, scared me enough to ask rigorously about magic.
I couldn read any magic tomes yet, but I might as well try and figure out the basics by pestering Eyva with questions designed to mine information.
Eyva didn want to answer my questions about magic too much. She seemed to think it was far too early to be curious about it. But she indulged me regardless.
From her, I got a basic rundown of it.
Magic at its base level seemed to function similarly to how you would expect it to in an ordinary fantasy world.
It involved shaping mana with your mind and giving it physical form in the form of spells like, say, a fireball.
Most mages, though, preferred to inscribe words of power in the air called Arcana which manifested spells.
Chant based magic tended to be more unstable, with silent magic being the most liable to fail.
Eyva herself could use magic, creating tongues of flame around her fingertips with ease without a chant, though I greatly suspected she could do far more than that.
The mechanics of the magic, however, were a little more complicated.
People that could use magic did so by extending their willpower out of the confines of their bodies, surrounding themselves in a visible aura called a Mana-Veil.
By directing that Veil, a manifestation of their willpower, around them, they could absorb mana in the environment and transform it into magic.
Thus, to practice magic, you had to first be able to generate said Veil in the first place.
The only way to create a Veil, however, was to Awaken, and that happened spontaneously and naturally.
Awakening was when a beings eyes and senses awakened to magic, becoming cognizant of the flow of mana around them.
Unawakened beings could not see or feel the mana around them, preventing them from controlling it. That was me right now.
Even if I did have mana flowing inside me, I couldn sense or interact with it.
If I had to wager a guess, I actually did have mana in me. That was why I was growing so quickly.
But if I wasn Awakened, then growing big and strong was the only thing mana would do for me.
I wouldn be able to control all that juicy mana stored up in my flesh. I wouldn be able to project a Veil. I wouldn be able to become, as I hoped, a mage.
Some gifted people like my father were Awakened from birth and projected their Veils within months.
This was what I had to accomplish if I didn want to get tossed out of Ardor, the Sky City my father was lord of.
After projecting a Veil, you could go a step further and Submerge.
As your Veil was essentially your willpower made visible, you could project it out into the Swirl, entering the dimension of magic with your mind.
This happened later than basic Awakening, though on average most Orian children accomplished it by the time they were five, when their minds developed enough to have more complicated thoughts and a greater sense of self.
From here, you could access what were known as the Archives.
Mages could carve symbols in the Swirl, and these became Arcana that they could draw in the material plane to manifest pre-recorded and stable spells.
Each Arcana represented a spell or fragment of memory and emotion, and over centuries, Orias mages had created a massive archive of collected spell knowledge that had no equal throughout the entire world.
But actually getting to that point was a faraway dream for now.
I needed to Awaken first. Then project my Veil. Then learn how to Submerge.
Only then could I even begin to take the first steps to learning spells.
It was a long, long road ahead of me, one I wasn even sure I could even set foot on.
Could I even Awaken in the first place?
Or was I a Fell, destined to have my mana sealed inside me uselessly forever?
Whenever I tried asking Eyva to help me Awaken, or if there was another way other than just waiting, she said that it was impossible, that I had to wait for it to happen naturally.
No matter how much I tried questioning her about this, she did not give any different of an answer, and she was quite strict about it, driving my questioning away from the topic quickly.
Which meant that I was left with simply waiting and rolling the dice to see whether I was a Fell or not.
Whether I was going to die or not.
Well, I thought, if Eyva was right, I at least had seven years to figure it out.
By that time, with the way I was growing, I should have been big enough to survive on my own if I got kicked out of the Sky City.
I wondered if I could stop the Fell curse from mutating me by controlling the flow of mana within my body like I had controlled the flow of Qi in my past life.
It was impossible to tell unless I actually Awakened and managed to perceive the mana within me in the first place. Without perception, there was no control.
Id resort to using my martial arts too, if it really did come down to it, but I would have hoped to live a comfortable life as a noble mage if possible.
Little did I know just how delusional that hope would end up being.
When I was ten months old, I felt the time I had left to Awaken shorten considerably. It happened at dusk when I was supposed to be asleep and tucked into bed.
My mother came in for the first time in almost half a year to speak with Eyva. They talked in hushed whispers, but I knew how to focus my senses from my lifetime of martial arts training.
”He has still not Awakened? ” That was my mother. ”There must be something wrong with him. Perhaps there is a blockage in his core. And look at how he grows! He is already as large as a child of five.
I fear he shows signs of being a Fell already. Maybe we should cast him away now, before he turns feral and becomes a danger to you. ”
”Be patient, my lady, ” said Eyva. ”Your son is a sweet and intelligent child. Did you see his writings? The ones I sent you? ”
”No, I was too busy. ”
”He is a genius, my lady. Not even a year has passed, and he can read and write basic texts.
Granted, his mind and body are both developing rapidly, but even accounting for that, his grasp over language, no, not just language, but in learning any topic, is astounding.
Were he allowed to leave this room, the Scholars Guild would forth at their mouth trying to snatch him up. ”
By now, I didn care whether my mother was disappointed in me or not.
I did, however, find happiness in Eyva praising me. She stopped praising me as much while I was learning, probably to drum up her image as a strict teacher, but now I could tell it was all an act.
It was a kind of happiness I had never felt before. I had never received genuine praise before.
At best, a gruff nod of recognition from my master, often after beating another student to a pulp.
This felt infinitely better than any nod or extra piece of stale bread. I earned it myself. And I earned it without hurting someone else.
For once, now that I had months to bond with Eyva, I felt appreciated.
I felt loved.
For some awful reason, I always thought Eyva was being nice to me because it was her job. That she had to be nice in front of me to keep me soothed. But she was defending me even though she thought I was asleep, and she did so with no hesitation, only pride.
I felt myself smiling under my blankets involuntarily. I thought I would have been embarrassed smiling like this, I, a cold blooded assassin and Fighter, but it came to me naturally.
And I did not reject it.
”Just wait, my lady, ” continued Eyva. ”With that brilliant mind of his, he is destined for greatness. Once he Awakens, he will be the greatest mage this world has known. He will memorize so many Arcana that he will be without equal.
And even if by some chance he does not inherit his fathers vast mana pool, he can still apply his sharp mind as a supreme scholar. He will progress this nation by a century! ”
”But I don want a scholar, I want a heir. I want the next Magic Lord. He NEEDS to awaken, and he HAS to have talent. ” My mother whined. She sounded like a child, and I the adult at this point.
”Again, my lady, have patience. ”
”Patience? Yu-An roars at me every day, calling me a worthless, damaged womb. I cannot stand it. ” My mother started to quietly cry.
”Calm now, my lady, calm. ” I heard Eyva patting my mothers back, hugging her.
”I can …I can …, ” sniffled my mother. ”Yu-An grows wilder and wilder by the passing month. He is at his wits end already, and you want us to wait seven whole years. He has already begun to strike me.
I fear what is to come as he grows ever more desperate.
I fear what he may do to the child. ”
”Come, my lady, I will make you your fire-lily tea. That will help calm you, ” said Eyva, leading my mother out of the room by the hand, like a mother taking her child away.