Episode 92 – Devour the Free Mana
Kiel had to admit that he was impressed. Elaru has put a lot of thought into this.
“Of course, people would deduce that there is a possibility of your artifact being fake, but the possibility is higher that it isn’t a fake. After all, you can use pure mana. And it would be impossible for them to channel mana into it and confirm that it is a fake. If they can’t confirm it is a fake, then it is as good as real.”
Kiel stared at the elegant ring glittering under the crystal light. It didn’t look like an ancient artifact at all. But then again, most divine artifacts still looked the same way they did when they were made. They could be buried in mud and covered by dust, but they would never age.
Unlike normal artifacts, which would eventually run out of mana and stop working, divine artifacts contained the eternal power of the gods – they would never run out of energy.
Which is exactly the reason why Elaru couldn’t include a mana crystal inside this ring to power it. If she included a mana crystal, it would be clear that it wasn’t a divine artifact. However, without mana crystals, how would one power it?
When he voiced his concern, Elaru smiled. “That’s a good question. The ring has just been enchanted, so the enchantment has still an abundance of mana to power it. However, eventually, that mana will be used up, and you’ll need to charge your ring. Since the ring wasn’t enchanted by you, it can’t be powered by your mana.”
Magic could only be powered by the same mana used to cast it. Meaning that only the mana from the mage who cast the enchantment would be able to power the artifact.
“However, I included a Devour spell inside the enchantment, therefore, if you place a free mana crystal in the proximity of the ring, it will be able to absorb the mana contained inside the crystal.”
Devour. An arcane magic spell with the ability to absorb free mana in its area of effect.
Mana was a mysterious energy created inside a soul that was initially ownerless. A freshly created mana was flexible like clay, any mind that came into contact with it could mold it and claim it as its own. It was exactly because of this that Kiel could use the mana inside Elaru’s mana pool – as long as his mind was the first one to touch the freshly created mana, the mana would become his.
Once the freshly created mana was claimed by a person, it could never again return to its original form. No other person could ever turn that mana into their own.
However, mana was the energy that originally didn’t belong in this world, and as such, it couldn’t sustain its original form for long once it left the soul. If the mana didn’t crystalize into a spell thus stabilizing, at most, in a few days, the mana would dissipate into the surroundings, becoming free mana of the world.
Mana inside mana crystals was no exception. Unless special measures were used to stabilize the mana inside the crystal, it too would become free mana after a few days, albeit, it would remain trapped inside the crystal.
Such free mana cannot be controlled and cannot be claimed. However, free mana still carried energy within it, just like light or heat carried energy, free mana also carried energy. And where there is energy, there is a way to use that energy.
That’s where Devour spell came into use. This arcane magic spell could be used to transform free mana into the same type of mana used to weave the Devour spell.
Technically, the Devour spell could also be used by mages to replenish their mana, however, in practice, this wasn’t viable. Unlike the gods who could impose their divine will on free mana to control it, the Devour spell could only transform free mana inside its area of effect into something usable, it couldn’t attract free mana towards it.
Since the concentration of free mana in the air was not high, and the area of effect of the Devour spell was extremely limited, it meant that the amount of free mana the Devour could absorb from the world couldn’t catch up with the staggering amount of mana used to weave it.
The Devour spell was only useful if it was used to absorb a large quantity of mana crystals, for the concentration of mana inside the crystals was countless times greater than the mana within the air.
Therefore, the Devour spell was only used in the creation of precious magic artifacts which will need to be recharged in the future, or for weaving important large-scale spells that required many times more mana than was available to the caster of the spell, in which case, a large quantity of mana crystals would be used to supplement the lacking mana of the caster.
“Also…” Elaru continued. “…I included a backup plan, in case you don’t have any mana crystals at hand when the ring needs to be recharged…” She paused and looked at him strangely. “…or if you are broke and can’t buy any…”
Kiel’s eyebrow twitched. “How thoughtful of you…”
“Yes. I thought of everything.” She nodded seriously. “The backup plan is a Light spell I added to allow you to charge the ring with an intense light beam.”
“Great…” Kiel mumbled. He directed his attention back to the ring and started channeling his mana through it. He avoided the platinum and went straight for kirine.
The more mana he channeled into kirine, the easier the channeling become. It didn’t take long at all for him to feel like kirine was not putting up any kind of resistance at all. This phenomenon signified that it had successfully synchronized to his mana. Now, no one else would be able to channel mana through it.
“Alright. It’s been synchronized.” Kiel declared.
“Good. Now let’s talk about how you’re going to fool everyone into thinking it is an actual mana purifying artifact.” Elaru rubbed her hands looking like a crafty old man.
“First things first, since mana purifying artifacts are divine artifacts, and therefore, really precious, no one wants to openly waltz around and show them off. That’s like inviting someone to steal it.
Therefore, don’t show off your ring. Don’t even admit that you have it to people other than your close family. In fact, it isn’t likely that anyone would openly ask you about it anyway. Nobles have an unspoken rule to not inquire about divine artifacts of other nobles because divine artifacts are considered as family secrets.
So, when you are using the dummy, you too, should be discreet about it. If you are not subtle about it, that would be strange, and we don’t want people to think there is anything strange about your ability to use pure mana.”
Elaru placed her right hand on top of the table. “You should develop a habit to constantly channel mana into your ring. People in possession of a mana purifying artifact usually train themselves to subconsciously direct all their mana towards their artifact so they could purify it as soon as it leaves their soul. That way, the mana inside their aura would always be completely pure, and they could use it instantly in the moment of need.
Unlike them, you don’t need to worry yourself about which particles of mana are purified and which are not, you should just put up a show and roll your mana around your ring inconspicuously.”
“Alright, alright, I get it. I’ve been acting for 12 years, this won’t pose a problem.” Kiel sighed and rubbed his temples again. “Let’s talk about more interesting matters.”
Elaru didn’t get the chance to respond before Kiel continued: “You say that no one will be able to tell the real function of the ring. What is the real function?”
Elaru grinned, her eyes glittered mischievously. “Activate it, and you’ll find out.”
Before she even finished her sentence, she transmitted an image telepathically depicting a simple trigger spell.
For the purpose of conserving power, most enchantments were designed to have a sleeping mode in which the enchantment isn’t altering reality. For example, there is no point for a ring artifact to waste mana with its continued activation if there was no one wearing it. One of the simplest ways to implement mana conservation was to make the artifact activate only in certain conditions, such as by performing a trigger spell in its vicinity.
“Is it safe for me to activate it?” Kiel asked with narrowed eyes. He didn’t know what the ring would do once activated. For all he knew, the ring could let out a light beam and create a hole through the ceiling. Or perhaps it would turn his hair pink. The thought gave him shivers.
Elaru rolled her eyes. “You can activate it without worry. Nothing bad will happen.”
Upon receiving her confirmation, Kiel started weaving the trigger spell in the proximity of the ring. One needed to cast a trigger spell inside the artifact’s monitored area. Otherwise, the artifact won’t be able to ‘see’ the spell and therefore won’t activate.
The trigger spell Elaru showed Kiel was simple, so in no time at all, Kiel had finished weaving it. As soon as the last line was weaved the previously cold and lifeless ring reacted.
It heated up to be the same temperature as Kiel’s flesh and the previously black kirine started glowing with bright azure light.
Kiel winced and involuntarily shut his eyes. However, his eyes didn’t remain closed for long. A soft, warm sensation climbing up his arm made his eyes snap open again.
The sight that greeted him left him speechless.
The black marking on his right wrist blended into his flesh and disappeared without a trace.
“You enchanted it to hide the mark of the bond.”
“This way, you won’t have to upkeep a color changing spell on your skin. Even if you are knocked out or asleep, our secret will still stay a secret.” Elaru purred. She looked at Kiel as if waiting to be praised.
Kiel’s eyebrow twitched. “It is somewhat useful, but wouldn’t the color revert back to normal if the ring was taken off? In fact, the whole premise of people being unable to verify whether my ring is fake lies on them being unable to take the ring off my finger. If they took it off and wore it they would instantly realize that the ring is a fake, wouldn’t they?”
Elaru nonchalantly nodded her head. “Yeah, they would.”
“So, it doesn’t really make much of a difference whether I cast a color changing spell myself or wear this. If I get knocked out, whoever knocked me out could just take off the ring to reveal the truth.” Kiel continued.
Elaru’s face revealed a devious smirk that gave Kiel the chills. “Not exactly.”
“Not exactly?” Kiel’s eyebrow rose. “Also, what should I do when my grandfather orders me to hand him my ring? Refusing him would bring me a lot of trouble.”
Elaru’s smirk only grew. “Oh, no need to refuse. You can cooperate fully.”
Inexplicably, Kiel suddenly had a bad feeling. “What do you…” Kiel tugged on his ring. “…mean?” He stopped talking and instead concentrated fully on taking his ring off. He tugged, pulled, and twisted for a whole minute before his hands stilled.
He turned to Elaru and looked at her with his signature ice cold glare. “El…a…ru…why… can’t… I… take… it… off…?” He pronounced every syllable clearly in a most chilling voice he could muster.
“Ah! I forgot to mention! It also comes with anti-theft function.” Elaru’s face blossomed into a most wonderful smile, completely oblivious to the murderous chill being directed her way.
“…in other words… no one can take it off… including me?”