Episode 45 – Mystification
Kiel stood dumbfounded, staring at the luxurious shop in front of him which had several dangerous looking guards standing at the entrance. His bangs cast shadows over his eyes so no one was able to tell that his eyebrow was violently twitching.
Elaru pulled on his arm, but he stood frozen like a statue, refusing to take a single step towards the shop.
“Come on.” Elaru frowned slightly, his behavior was strange. Even his aura was turning violent.
“No.” Was the only response she got. And even that was said in a husky, dangerous voice.
“Wh…?” Kiel didn’t even let her finish the statement before interrupting her. “No.”
“Let…” Elaru pouted and was about to explain, but she didn’t manage to say much before being interrupted again. “No.”
Her eyes narrowed, and she stopped trying to communicate verbally. “Why won’t you go in?”
Kiel looked at her as if she was an idiot. “It. Is. An. Engagement. Ring. Store.”
Elaru stopped pulling at his arm, looking back at the store in front of them. It was a large luxurious building made out of white marble. Through the windows, could be seen the glow of silver and gold, coupled with multicolored light reflections of various precious jewels.
“Naah, I think they sell all kinds of different rings. Not just engagement rings.”
Kiel’s lips were pressed so tightly together they turned white. Naturally, he had never visited a jewelry shop before. But even he, who lived the majority of his life in a small town of Beyd knew this brand of jewelry shops. This was where couples usually went to buy engagement rings!
He had no idea why she wanted to go in there, but no way would he go in with her.
Kiel pinched the bridge of his nose trying to calm down. “Why are we here?”
Elaru looked back at him and smiled brightly. “Why do you think? We are here to look at rings!”
Kiel almost got a heart attack from that statement. Seeing Kiel’s horrified, pale expression, Elaru blinked confusedly. “Why are you so allergic to jewelry? You make it sound like I brought you to a lingerie shop.”
Kiel took several deep breaths, trying to figure out the right action to take in such a scenario.
“If you ever take me to a lingerie shop in the future, I’ll kill you.” As he transmitted the thought, Elaru could clearly feel his killing intent in the words. He wasn’t joking.
Why did she bring him here? Surely she wasn’t one of those insane clingy girlfriends who wanted to get engaged three days after meeting the male counterpart. She wasn’t even his girlfriend. In fact, she wasn’t even his friend.
“I am not going in there, and that is final. If you want to shop for jewelry, go by yourself. I’ll wait for you in a coffee shop.”
Elaru paid closer attention to Kiel’s expression, his eyes flashing cold light, his aura exuding all kinds of cold feelings. “I can’t go by myself. I need your help picking a ring.”
Kiel looked her straight in the eyes. His beautiful icy orbs made her forget her previous annoyance. “Is this really the time to be ring shopping? Can’t you wait to do it after the exams?”
Elaru shook her head. “It can’t wait. The sooner we buy it, the better.”
Kiel’s gaze only got more and more icy, frowning slightly. “Why do you need it? And why do you want my help?”
Elaru sighed in exasperation. When she lifted her head back up to meet his gaze, her eyes were emotionless. “Remember that enchantment I have been spellcrafting?”
Realization flashed in Kiel’s eyes. So that’s the reason! She needs a magic artifact to place her enchantment on. And she decided that a jewelry piece would be the most fitting.
Kiel let out a breath of relief he didn’t know he was holding. So it wasn’t any of the disturbing reasons his pessimistic mind managed to come up with. Of course, he shouldn’t judge Elaru with common sense. She probably had no idea that couples usually come here to shop for engagement rings.
She just wanted to buy a jewelry piece to place her enchantment upon. A ring would be the smallest and easiest to carry. It made perfect sense that she wanted to buy a ring.
He pinched the bridge of his nose again, the iciness in his eyes slowly dissipating. “Alright. Go buy it. I’ll wait for you.”
Elaru stared at him annoyed. For several seconds neither one spoke. “Darn it, Kiel. I said I need your help. Why are you treating a jewelry shop like a death zone?”
Do you want me to spell it out for you?? Everyone would think we are a couple! Who knows what strange rumors would start going around! “Why do you need my help? I don’t care what ring you pick. It’s your business. It has nothing to do with me.”
Elaru’s eyebrow twitched. “Remember that conversation we had a few days ago? I told you I would get you a magical artifact that you will use to fool everyone into thinking it is a mana purifying artifact.”
They needed to hide the fact that they are soulbound from everyone. And if an argel such as himself could use both augmentation and transmutation magic, it would be a dead giveaway. Unless he had a mana purifying artifact that could be used to explain his ability to use pure mana. Or rather, an artifact that everyone would think was a mana purifying artifact – a dummy, a decoy.
Kiel’s pupils widened, but before he could say anything, Elaru looked him straight in the eye, her gaze piercing to the deepest part of his heart. “I brought you here so you can pick a ring you like that I will use as a model to create a magical artifact.”
Kiel’s heart skipped a beat. Suddenly, countless images of the last 3 days flashed in his mind:
“What is simpler to get, a dummy artifact or an arcane contract forbidding you to use transmutation and arcane magic? The artifact is much simpler and cheaper to obtain.”
“How long will it take you to obtain such an artifact?” “A few days. I can get it before the Ashar entrance exams start.”
“What are you doing?” “Spellcrafting.”
“How good are you?” “I’ve never met anyone better at it than me.”
“What kind of spell are you crafting? Is it for the exams?” “It’s a secret. But yes, it will be quite helpful for the exams.”
Kiel’s heart beat erratically. Could it be…that instead of preparing for the exam…she spent this entire time making him that artifact?
All so he would be allowed to use transmutation magic on the exams? All so it would be easier for him to score higher on the exam?
“Why?” Kiel breathed out in a weak voice. “Why didn’t you go buy an unidentified artifact from the auction house?”
Elaru sighed gently. “Did you think any artifact would work? There are several very important requirements for it that can’t be met unless it is a custom made artifact.”
Kiel wanted to ask “What requirements?” but when his hoarse voice came out of his throat, the words spoken were different. “Why didn’t you hire an enchanter to make it for you?”
“Do you think trustworthy enchanters who can spellcraft and mystify a spell in several days of time grow on trees? Never mind trustworthy, do you have any idea how rare it is to find an enchanter who can mystify spells?”
Kiel’s mouth went dry.
Mystification was a process of rewriting and modifying a spell pattern in such a way to make it difficult to recognize. It includes a lot of techniques of changing the structure of the spell, introducing noise and useless spell fragments into the spell pattern. It was similar to encryption – it made the end result hard to understand.
Only spellcrafters of the highest order understood the theory of magic to such a degree they could manipulate it in such an intricate way to completely change the spell appearance while still retaining its effects.
Mystification made the spell longer and more difficult to weave while not adding any additional effects to it. Sometimes it even caused destructive interference inside the spell, decreasing its effects. And yet, this seemingly useless, counterproductive ability was an incredibly sought after skill.
Often when clients ordered custom made artifacts, they would want them made in such a way so only they themselves would know the function of the artifact. Especially if it was a battle related artifact. Which person would want their enemy to know the exact effect of their magical artifact?
Mystification was also used to make spells harder to break. After all, if a mage can’t tell what spell they were looking at, how would they know how to break it?
Since Kiel needed people to think his artifact was a mana purifying artifact, naturally, the spell on the artifact needed to be mystified so that no one would be able to tell that it was actually a dummy.
Kiel stumbled a step back. Could it be…? At that time…?
He remembered the spell she was spellcrafting. A day later the spell looked nothing like the spell she was spellcrafting the day before. He had thought it to be a different spell…but could it be that she actually mystified the old spell, making it look different?
Kiel stepped another step back, he suddenly felt a bit dizzy. “Mystification? Is there anything you can’t do?” Didn’t he already ask her this question before?
He expected her to gloat about it but instead of the expected smirk, she smiled bitterly. A flash of sadness passed through the depths of her eyes. “There are many things I can’t do. In fact, I have several serious disabilities. I just know how to hide them well…”
Kiel suddenly felt uncomfortable, something inside of him seemed to twist painfully. He had never seen such an expression on Elaru before. She was always in a good mood, never letting him see anger or pain. Not showing a single glimpse of the secrets hidden deep down inside of her.
He wanted to say something to lift the awkward air. But before he could do so, Elaru seemed to flip a switch, her mood did an 180-degree turn. All traces of the previous mood vanished replaced with her usual smiling expression. “I told you. I have never met someone who can spellcraft better than me. Naturally, I wouldn’t hold myself in such high regard if I couldn’t even mystify my spells properly.”
Kiel stared at her smiling face for a while but couldn’t distinguish anything new from it. The more she smiled, the more he felt like Elaru Wayvin hid the entire world behind that smile. She knew him well, but he didn’t know her at all.
“Why do you want to go to Muni? The way I see it, if you are as incredible when it comes to spellcrafting as you claim, your knowledge of magic is already deeper than most Muni professors. What could Muni possibly teach you?”
With such deep knowledge of magic, there weren’t many magic-based professions she couldn’t do. Spellcrafters were usually also enchanters, artificers, array masters or engineers.
Don’t tell me she actually wants to change professions to become something totally different like an animal handler or alchemist?
Elaru twirled around, showing him her back. She looked back to the ring shop in front of them. “The more you know about something, the more you understand just how little you actually know.” She murmured, more talking to herself than Kiel.
She then turned her head to the side, locking eyes with his. “If I wanted to expand my knowledge…where else could I go? Muni is the holy land of magic. If the knowledge can’t be found there, then it can’t be found anywhere else in the lands under the Shield.”