Episode 136 – Core Principle of Spell Breaking
“Even breaking two spells simultaneously! Impressive!” Mustache’s voice sounded queer. Trying to come up with something to praise without revealing the fact that he had no idea what just happened was an arduous thing.
The remaining two nodded their heads in agreement before producing another magical artifact. This time it was an intricate looking red sword. The rosy glint reflecting the bright sunlight was almost as sharp as the adamantite blade itself.
Such a finely crafted blade deserved only the highest quality of enchantments. This was probably exactly what the enchanter who enchanted the sword was thinking at the time. For the enchantment on the sword was weaved with very dense mana making it difficult to break.
In fact, the density of mana used to weave it was so high it was probably the reason why the enchantment ended in failure. The enchanter wanted to create the highest quality enchantment that he could and ended up miscalculating. He spent the majority of his mana weaving the main spell and ran out of mana before he could finish forming the spell roots. Thus, the spell roots had gaps, not covering the entirety of the sword. Making it so that there were many spots not covered by the enchantment.
“I’m afraid this one won’t be as simple to break.” Beard sighed.
“The mana density of the main spell is too high. Simply too high.” Mustache nodded gravelly.
Eyebrows anchored his acceleration spell where the enchantment spell roots couldn’t reach and sent the sword floating towards Elaru once again. The entire time he nodded his head slowly, agreeing to the words of his colleagues. “This enchantment is rather unusual as well. I doubt you’ve had the opportunity to see it before.”
Elaru ignored their words, instead intently staring at the sword, or rather, staring at the enchantment on the sword.
Her Aethernea of Sight could see many things, but critical points of a spell weren’t among them. She could see no glaring red lines, or any other kind of sign marking a critical point. Sometimes there would be a slight, difficult to catch, distortion in reality, but most of the time there was nothing at all.
If she could simply see the critical points of a spell, would she have almost lost her life in the incident 12 years ago?
If she could see them so easily, would she have needed to spend her childhood studying theory of magic?
No. There was no shortcut. Talent could only take you so far. This ability… it was a product of hard work.
Before the floating sword could even enter inside her aura, there were already four whirlpools of mana in front of her, looking like they were devouring mana from her aura.
When the whirlpools stopped spinning, in their place remained four, marble-sized, high-density balls of mana.
Elaru didn’t even wait for the sword to land in her hands before the four mana bullets shot towards the sword, piercing straight through it.
The previously vividly glowing enchantment fractured into several large pieces, like shattered glass, sizzling and melting away until nothing remained.
The sight startled Eyebrows so much that his control over the Acceleration slipped and the deathly silence was broken by the loud clattering of the sword, as it fell to the floor.
In a moment of distraction, the three old men forgot to act high and mighty, their demeanor losing all of its grandeur.
“What’s with this spell breaking speed?! Have you seen this enchantment before?” Beard almost pulled out several strands of his beard.
“Can you not look so leisurely?! You are not even sweating!” Mustache’s mustache quivered.
“Lass, are you a certified spell breaker?!” Eyebrows gasped loudly.
Elaru paused slightly to sort out their questions, but in the end, all she responded with was a nod and a: “Yes”
It was unclear to which question she was responding to, but her pleasant voice, nonetheless, woke the trio up from their stupor.
Realizing how unsightly their current behavior appeared, hastily they adjusted their demeanors back to their dignified selves. Though, putting on airs was not nearly enough to cover up their embarrassment.
“Good, very good, excellent!” Mustache feigned nonchalance, however, the tremble of his voice gave him away.
“You are able to pinpoint the critical points in such a complex enchantment. Admirable, admirable!” Beard continued to stroke his beard, but his movements were visibly stiffer.
Eyebrows coughed awkwardly and retrieved the fallen sword. “Indeed. For a lass your age, your knowledge is not bad. Not bad at all.”
“Perhaps you could tell us a bit more about the process of spell breaking?” Mustache nodded his head solemnly.
“How about telling us about the five methods of spell breaking?” Beard interjected.
Learning from her previous mistake, Elaru nodded her head and quickly spoke up to prevent any of the other two from opening their mouths again and prolonging the whole ordeal:
“Every spell consists of a spell target, a weaved spell pattern, and a reality-altering phenomena. If either of the three is removed from the equation, the spell will cease to exist.
To weave a spell pattern mana is needed, and equally so, sustaining the reality-altering effect of the spell requires a constant expenditure of mana. Even if the spell is sleeping, its reality-altering effect temporarily not affecting reality, mana is still needed to sustain its grip on reality. Thus, all sustained spells need a constant supply of mana.
If such is unavailable, the reality-altering effect will start feeding off mana used to weave the spell pattern causing it to destabilize and fall apart, leading to the destruction of the spell.
The spell pattern is like a sand castle. No matter how many times it is kicked, the dispersed sand can form back together. But how can one form a sand castle without sand?
This is why the first method of spell breaking is to cause the spell to run out of mana.
This is done either by removing the mana supply if possible or by increasing the mana expenditure of the spell through various means. For most enchantments this is an arduous, time-consuming process, thus this method is only used as a last option.”
Elaru explained carefully, as if she was a master breaker trying her utmost to teach her disciples in words they could easily understand. She then paused briefly, giving each one of the old men a serious look, before repeating the core principle of spell breaking once again: “Every spell consists of a spell target, a weaved spell pattern, and the reality-altering phenomena. If either of the three is removed from the equation, the spell will cease to exist.
Thus, the second and the simplest way to break a spell is to destroy the target of the spell. Unfortunately, most of the times this is undesirable or, in case of spells targeting illusive things such space or the mind, impossible.”
The three old men nodded their heads in agreement. Beards opened his mouth to say something, but Elaru, worried that the three would start talking some more drivel, continued her explanation immediately.
“The third method aims to destroy the spell pattern. However, the spell pattern, no matter how damaged, can reverse-engineer itself from the information present inside the reality-altering phenomena, recovering back to its original form (as long as the mana making it isn’t consumed). Thus, one needs to completely destroy it to stop the self-regeneration.
This is done by attacking the whole spell pattern with a mana construct of a higher density and size than the spell pattern itself.
Unfortunately, the sheer amount of mana needed to accomplish this makes this method unusable for the majority of spells.”
Elaru took a quick breath, before continuing.
“The fourth method aims to destroy the reality-altering phenomena. To destroy the spell phenomena, another spell that causes destructive interference with the first spell is needed.
When the reality-altering phenomena of two spells affect similar properties of reality, they will interfere with each other and struggle for control over reality. If the difference in level between the two spells isn’t too high, both reality-altering effects would be damaged due to the spell interference. Even if one of the spells overpowers the other, allowing it to affect reality, the losing spell would still continue to struggle to regain its control over reality causing continuous damage to both reality-altering effects.
This damage, however, will not cause the spell to be broken because the solidified spell pattern, which is the source of the reality-altering effect, will constantly repair the damage done to the reality-altering effect, as long as it has enough mana to do so.
The solidified spell pattern is the source of the spell phenomena to begin with so no matter how damaged the spell phenomena is, as long as it is not completely destroyed, the spell pattern will be able to recreate the reality-altering effect.
That’s why we need to completely destroy the reality-altering effect without giving it a chance to regenerate. And for the overpowered reality-altering effect to get completely shattered, it isn’t enough to just overpower it. Rather, the difference in level between the two wrestling spells needs to be so enormous that the losing spell can’t even struggle.
Regrettably, this method of spell breaking is not usable for high-level spells, because we are unable to produce an interfering spell that is much higher in level. The required difference in spell level can only be achieved if a master mage is wrestling against someone who just started learning magic or if one of the opposing spells is a high-level enchantment while the other is a normal spell cast on the go.
After all, when mages enchant a magical artifact, they have a lot of time to perfect their spell so the spell levels of enchantments are much higher than spell levels of spells cast on the go.”
The trio of old men kept nodding their heads enthusiastically as if they were clucklings pecking rice, this time not even attempting to interrupt.
“Since the first method is arduous and time-consuming, while the latter three methods are not viable for most purposes, spell breakers generally use the fifth method most of the time.
The fifth method is to sabotage the self-recovery function of the spell, followed by causing enough damage to the spell pattern to destabilize the spell.
The reason why spells are so resilient and able to recover themselves lies in the connection between the solidified spell pattern and the reality-altering phenomena. Each one of the two is able to recreate the other if damaged. To prevent this cyclic self-recovery, spell breakers need to sever the connection between the spell pattern and the reality-altering effect. This is done by finding the touching points (a.k.a. critical points) between the two and destroying them simultaneously.
Interestingly enough, if one does succeed in destroying the critical points, not only does it stop the self-recovery of the spell but it also causes the entire spell to destabilize and fall apart.
Spell breakers are still arguing whether severing the connection between the spell phenomena and the spell pattern is the cause of spell destabilization, or if the touching points between the two are just located in areas critical to the functioning of the spell.”
Elaru paused, giving a mischievous smirk to the three old men. “Personally, I believe the former.”
Silence. Deafening silence.
“That is exactly right!” Eyebrows bellowed excitedly. “How could the location of the critical points be mere coincidence!”
Mustache slammed his hand on the table and glared at Eyebrows. “Stop spouting drivel! Spells have been simplified so much over the years that everything that is left of them is critical to the functioning of the spell, so how can the critical points possibly not be located in non-critical areas?!”
Beards sighed groggily. “Not again… can’t you two agree to disagree? Isn’t it the same either way?”
“Shut up!” – “How can it be the same?!”
Much to Elaru’s horror, what followed was an animated argument between the trio of old men, who seemed to completely forget that they were in the middle of an exam.
Elaru was forced to stare at them speechlessly, with a violently twitching eyebrow. Sh*t. What have I done…?!