Episode 18 – Distance Test (Part 1)
“First things first, try transmitting your thoughts to me.” Elaru’s lips never moved, yet her voice reverberated inside Kiel’s head with perfect clarity. He would probably be able to hear her loud and clear even if they were in a noisy environment. Thoughts seemed to be a more powerful signal than sound.
She had picked up the whole telepathy business pretty easily. As if she had previous experience with it. Or perhaps telepathy wasn’t that hard at all, maybe it should come naturally to them? He wouldn’t know since he had never tried it before.
“I’ll give it a shot.” Kiel thought up a response. Can you hear me?
Elaru’s stare didn’t change. She didn’t respond, so he assumed she didn’t hear him.
Thinking of a response to her question wasn’t enough? Of course, it wasn’t. Otherwise, she would be able to hear his thoughts and words that weren’t intended for her to hear. His thoughts should be private while they remained inside his mind. Therefore, perhaps he needed to push them outside of his mind? If his thoughts were like a paper message, instead of just writing it and keeping it, he would need to scrunch it up into a ball and throw it towards Elaru (would be perfect if he managed to smack her in the face with it).
Kiel concentrated all his senses on Elaru. He layered his Mind on top of hers like a blanket.
This time, instead of just thinking of a response he imagined telling her that, he wanted her to hear it. He concentrated on the message and imagined pushing it out, he willed it to move. He could almost feel his thoughts leaping towards her.
This sensation was very familiar to him.
And just on cue, Elaru chuckled. “Hearing someone else’s voice inside my head feels so weird. In a cool way!”
Kiel’s eyes narrowed in doubt. Isn’t this…too simple?
He had done something like this a thousand times before. All those times when he was trying to silently communicate with someone or pass them a silent message. All those times he bore holes into someone, practically screaming at them inside his head. All those times when he’d icily glare at someone, internally calling them names. All those times when he looked at his mother hopefully as a child, begging her for something.
He’d do it just like this, exactly like this!
Sometimes, when someone was staring intently at him, he got this feeling of being watched and could almost feel them projecting their thoughts towards him.
People attributed these feelings to their Mind picking up on the intent hidden in the aura. But what if what he had been picking up were stray thoughts? Thoughts that he could feel but couldn’t understand?
Kiel’s eyes brightened, his mind branching out into many different possibilities. Could it be that everyone had an innate ability to send thoughts to others, but the problem was receiving them? Could it be that every mind thought in a different wavelength, and could only understand the thoughts that were on the same wavelength?
Right! The reason why people couldn’t feel Minds of others was exactly because they were on a different wavelength! It was as if each Mind existed in a dimension of their own, never managing to see or touch the Minds of others.
Their dimensions overlapped, layering on top of each other like sheets of paper. Others were there, within reach, sometimes you might even feel them, but at the end of the day, you couldn’t speak their language.
The reason why he could feel and communicate with Elaru’s mind was that Aetherneal bond connected their minds. But what did that mean?
Was the bond between them like a wormhole connecting the two separate worlds? Like a gum gluing two sheets of paper together?
Or was it that their wavelengths were now one and the same? Was it that Aetherneal bond made their different worlds merge into one? Did their two Minds exist in the same world which would naturally make them able to communicate with each other?
Kiel’s eyes glittered. If their Minds were only connected by a hole, he would be able to send thoughts, but he wouldn’t be able to feel her Mind this clearly. He could feel every twitch and movement of her Mind, as if his Mind was truly touching it. Which means it was very likely that their Minds truly did exist on the same wavelength.
Kiel’s pupils suddenly shrunk as a dangerous idea appeared.
If their minds could touch and interact with each other… would it be possible to…invade her Mind? Would it be possible for him to catch those thoughts that were hidden deep inside? The thoughts she wasn’t projecting outside towards him.
Would he be able to read her mind?
His heart skipped a beat.
If he could do it, then she should be able to do the same!
The idea terrified him. For his most private thoughts and feelings to be laid out in the open. For everything, he tried desperately to hide and disguise to be found by someone else. He would be stripped naked of all his armor. Nothing could save him from being used and manipulated.
Each of his embarrassing thoughts and mistakes, all the information he knew, his lies, experiences, everything would be exposed! The image he tried so hard to build would shatter in a single moment.
Would she care about it being ethically wrong, for it being a serious invasion of privacy?
No. He couldn’t rely on her sense of justice. He could clearly recall her view on the law: “It’s not illegal if I don’t get caught doing it.”
It was critical for him to find out if this was possible. He needed to confirm it, and if it was possible, he needed to find a way to prevent it from happening to him.
His heartbeat quickened. What if she was reading his mind right now?
Kiel looked towards Elaru to see her giving him a quizzical look. “What are you thinking about?” was written all over her face.
Kiel forced himself to calm down. Either she was the best actor he had ever seen, or she wasn’t reading his thoughts. Just because mind reading occurred to him, it doesn’t mean the same idea crossed her mind as well. And besides, it was just speculation, it might be impossible after all.
It would be best if it were impossible.
“If I didn’t have you in my field of view, would sending thoughts be more difficult?” Kiel decided to throw in a diversion, jerking the conversation onto a topic which had nothing to do with the relationship between their Minds. The last thing he needed was for her thoughts to travel down the same path as his.
He took out a notebook and a pencil from his backpack and sat down on the bed. He started noting down all his questions. He even noted down his previous fear but worded it so only he would be able to understand what he was referring to.
Elaru took that as her cue to leave, and she quickly dashed out the door, closing it behind her. “What is your favorite season?” Kiel heard inside his head. She clearly had no issue with sending her thoughts without being able to see him.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on her once again. “I don’t know. Every season has its good sides and bad sides.”
“I don’t have a favorite either.” He could feel her smile, even though he couldn’t see it. She could send expressions telepathically too? Or was it that feelings traveled along with thoughts by themselves?
Kiel suddenly felt enlightened about the nature of thoughts. Thoughts weren’t made out of words, they carried meaning. That meaning could be a message, or it could be memories and feelings. It might even be possible to transfer knowledge or pure intent. Anything that exists within the Mind had a possibility of being transferred to another Mind.
Elaru continued: “I see you have no trouble sending your thoughts to me now. Sit tight, I am going on a little trip. Don’t forget to note changes in your body while the distance between us increases.”
Elaru dashed down the stairs and exited the tavern. She didn’t even notice Mira, who greeted her. She ran down the street and flew up onto the roof. She scanned the horizon briefly to decide which direction to take, and then accelerated towards the outskirts of Ashar, periodically shifting between jumping, flying and running.
Kiel closed his eyes, shutting out the information coming from outside. He concentrated on the state of his body and the mana inside and outside it. It would have been helpful if he could perceive their soul, but not even Aethernea of Sight could see it.
Ancient records described it to look like a flower of light, or a flame hemisphere with many fiery tendrils, positioned in the center of one’s body. Those petals or tendrils, touched numerous different parts of the body, transmitting mana through them into the body.
The mana would nourish every cell, and the excess would drift outside of the body forming an aura – a cloud of mana around the person. The mana making the aura was exactly the mana that the mage usually used to weave magic.
Elaru had told him that Aetherneal bond glued their souls together, and instead of staying inside their bodies, their merged souls would drift about and shift their position to stay in between them. As the distance between them and their soul increased, the length of the tendrils of light would stretch, and the mana would need to travel further to reach them.
Would the tendrils be stretched thin by the distance? Would that stretching make it so they can transfer less mana through them? Was there a limit of how much they could stretch? Could they be stretched to the point of breaking? Or would the tendrils only detach? What would happen if they snapped or detached? Would the damage be reparable? Would he even be able to tell that they were close to snapping or detaching?
He had too many questions and too little answers. He craved access to the Muni library like a starving man craved food. If there was one place where he could find the answer he was seeking, it would be the Muni library.
He decided to share his concerns with Elaru. Her response was more helpful then he thought it would be: “I have been observing the behavior of the soul for years. While I can’t see the soul itself, I can see the mana inside of it which allows me to get a general idea of the shape.
Through my observations of the people under the Aetherneal bond, I’ve noticed that those tendrils are of no significance. If soul moves too far away, they snap. However, as soon as the soul moves back into range, a new tendril regrows and takes its place.
The snapping of the tendrils can’t even be considered as damage. It’s like someone pulled out a strand of your hair, another one will soon grow out and take its place.
The soul is one of the most resilient things in all of creation. The ways of causing permanent damage to the soul can be counted on fingers of one hand.”
Kiel’s lie sense wasn’t tingling, making all that she had said to be true. He let out a sigh of relief. He could trust her on this matter. Considering how careful she was about her equipment, one could deduce that she would be even more cautious about the potential danger to herself. She wouldn’t have agreed to this experiment if she wasn’t sure that it wouldn’t negatively impact them in the future.
He continued observing his state until he noticed a subtle change in his aura. As expected, it was shrinking and thinning out, slowly approaching the pitiful state it was in when he was a non-mage.
He tried weaving mana and controlling the activated spell. Everything was as it was supposed to be. His performance didn’t degrade, he only had less mana available.
The first unexpected anomaly appeared when Elaru passed the 5 km mark.