Episode 91 – Mana Purification Artifact
“When people notice you are in possession of a “mana purifying artifact”, they won’t find it strange because you are a noble. They would think that your family bestowed the artifact onto you. However, your family knows better. Therefore, they will start asking questions. Namely, where you got it.”
Elaru motioned towards the box on the table. “So, to avoid you having to come up with a lie, which could be easily exposed. I created a cover story that is true so you wouldn’t have to lie.”
She grinned. “When they ask how you got the artifact, you’ll tell them you got it as a birthday gift. If they ask further, you’ll tell them you found it on the table when you opened your eyes. And you can even show them the birthday note. If they ask who gave it to you, you can say that you didn’t ‘see’ who left you the ring and there was no name on the note.”
Kiel’s eyes widened in realization. Elaru gave him the ring, dubbing it as her birthday present to him, just so he could claim it to be a birthday present without having to lie about it. She even went as far as to make him close his eyes so he could claim that he “found it on the table” and “didn’t see who put it there”. Since there was no name on the note, he could easily manipulate the truth and make everyone think he doesn’t know who gave him the gift.
She transformed truth into a cover story that could be used to deceive everyone without lying to them. This way, even if he was forced to sign an oath of truth, he would still have a way out.
Even if someone suspected Elaru’s involvement in this matter, the timeframe wouldn’t match. His birthday was months before the two of them met for the first time, therefore she couldn’t have been the one to give him the ring.
Brilliant! Kiel’s eyes lit up. Elaru was simply brilliant!
However… Kiel’s eyes dimmed down again. “If my grandfather believes the ring to be a mana purifying artifact, he would take it away from me to give it to someone who “actually matters”.”
Elaru smiled mischievously. “I figured as much.”
Kiel’s heart skipped a beat. “You thought of a way to prevent him from taking the ring?”
“Of course.” Elaru nodded with self-satisfaction.
“I’m all ears.” Kiel motioned for her to explain.
“I’ll explain that later.” She waved it off. “Now, open it.”
Without further ado, Kiel picked up the box and opened it. Inside of the box was the same ring Elaru had crafted for him the last time they visited the Black Pearl restaurant.
The inner ring was made out of a black material, around which Elaru morphed a silver colored metal, encasing the black ring inside the silver ring.
Kiel removed his right glove so he could slide the ring onto his finger.
However, when he removed his glove, Kiel suddenly froze, momentarily forgetting about the ring.
When Kiel and Elaru had established their bond, on the inner side of Kiel’s right wrist a small black mark had appeared – the mark of the bond. Back then it was only the size of a tiwi egg, looking like a miniature tribal tattoo.
Later on, when the two of them visited Black Pearl for the first time, they noticed that the tattoo had grown. It was no longer the size of a tiwi egg, it was closer to a large cluckling egg.
This time around, the word “egg” was no longer appropriate to describe it. In fact, the marking didn’t resemble an egg at all.
It was as if that initial state of the mark was simply a seed. And now, from that seed sprouted black vines that twirled around Kiel’s wrist like a bracelet. The mark resembled an ivy that was trying to climb up Kiel’s arm.
As Kiel stared at the black marking, which he would have thought to be extremely cool-looking at any other time, his mind couldn’t even begin to consider the esthetical aspect of the marking.
“Awesome!” Elaru was first to break the silence. “It has grown a lot. I imagine that the distance between us has improved significantly as well. Perhaps the bond is even on the threshold of some kind of power up?”
Kiel remained silent.
Elaru’s eyes moved upwards to Kiel’s solemn face, and her lips curled into a smirk. “So… it is safe to say that I’ve… grown on you?”
“Pffft!” Kiel let out an involuntary laugh that instantly broke the solemn atmosphere. She was saying that Kiel liked her better now while not forgetting to create pun on the growing behavior of the mark.
“Stop cracking jokes already…” Kiel weakly protested. “I’m trying to be serious here. This is a potentially grave issue. What if this thing ends up devouring me whole?”
“I’ve never heard of anyone getting devoured by the Aetherneal bond.” Elaru giggled, clearly not taking the situation seriously.
“And I’ve never heard of anyone establishing the bond in the first place! So how would we know what happens to the people who do it?”
Elaru rolled her eyes. “Arites have been doing it for several millennia, and their family has been doing just fine.”
“Oh? Are we done calling them “they”?” Kiel joked. Previously, when Elaru had mentioned a family that had been monopolizing the power of the Aetherneal bond for ages, she had never mentioned which family she was talking about. However, from the start, Kiel had known she was talking about the Arites – the uncrowned kings of Halnea.
It was the Arite family that established the lands under the Shield, and although Halnea wasn’t a monarchy, everyone inherently understood that Arites stood on the top of the ladder.
The populace called them “the gods’ favorite children” for Arites were inherently superior to normal people, whether it was their intelligence, beauty, magic ability or being the only ones capable of using pure mana without mana purifying artifacts. For ages, people had been using their name as a premium brand – statements as “your beauty can rival even the Arites.” or “you can stand shoulder to shoulder with Arites” were the greatest of compliments.
Who would have known that the source of it all wasn’t a blessing from the gods, but rather a power that existed within everyone?
Kiel shook his head and his gaze returned to the ring, still safely sitting inside the box in front of him. He picked it up slowly and slid it on the ring finger of his right hand, exactly where Elaru had placed two days before.
“The enchantment on the ring has been mystified, so no one will be able to recognize the true function of the ring. For all intents and purposes, you can pretend like it is truly a mana purifying artifact.” Elaru spoke up, and then she proceeded to explain how mana purification works: “To purify their mana, the user of the mana purification artifact needs to channel their mana through the artifact. When their mana passes through the artifact, it will get purified.
As the owner of the mana, you would be able to feel which mana is pure and which isn’t (pure mana feels lighter and is easier to control). However, other people won’t be able to tell which particles of your mana have been purified and which haven’t.”
“Wait.” Kiel’s eyebrows furrowed. “It’s great that they can’t tell that all of my mana is actually pure, however, if the usage of artifact is that simple, then wouldn’t it be easy to reveal that my artifact is a dummy? All they would have to do is channel their mana into the artifact, and they will realize that the ring isn’t purifying it.”
“Ah, but, they won’t be able to channel the mana into the artifact.” Elaru grinned. “Usually, mana purification artifacts can only accommodate a single user. So only the person who is recognized as the current user will be able to channel their mana into the artifact.”
“How is the person recognized as the user? Is it through a trigger spell?”
Elaru shook her head. “No. Divine artifacts are different from regular artifacts. Most divine artifacts in the shape of a ring recognize the owner to be the person who is currently wearing the ring. Even if the person steals the ring, as long as they place it on their finger, they would become the next owner.
Not all divine artifacts are so lax when it comes to ownership. The more precious the artifact, the harder it is to become its owner. Before the great mage wars, mana purification artifacts were merely mass produced items, the least precious of all divine artifacts, which is why they have simple usage and ownership rules.”
“Ok, so the real mana purifying artifact would prevent the mana of others from entering, but this ring is a dummy. How will it prevent the mana of other people from passing through it?” Kiel interrupted.
Elaru smirked. “The outside layer of the ring is made from platinum. In the entire land of Halnea, there are less than 100 people who can cast magic on platinum, and even they can’t easily channel mana through it. If anyone tries channeling mana through the ring, they will find it near impossible. And then, they would think that the reason why they can’t channel the mana through the ring was because they aren’t recognized as the owner of the ring.”
Kiel looked at her skeptically. “I think most people would just conclude it to be because it is made from platinum, not because of ownership difficulties… wait… it is made out of platinum?!” Kiel’s eyes widened. “I saw you craft that ring!”
Elaru waved Kiel’s shock away like swatting a fly. “Yes, Kiel, I am among those one hundred. Shocking. Now, let’s move on.”
Kiel stared at her speechlessly. Why am I even surprised? Of course she can morph platinum. In fact, at this point, I shouldn’t be surprised even if she told me she was a god in disguise. He shook his head and decided not to raise the issue again.
Elaru continued. “This black inner ring is made out of kirine.” She paused, waiting for Kiel’s surprise.
However, this time, Kiel showed absolutely no response. His face was completely expressionless as if she was talking about the weather. Kirine? Super precious material? As expected of Elaru Wayvin…
Elaru blinked repeatedly, however, no matter how she blinked, Kiel’s face stayed as expressionless as before. Uh… could it be that he doesn’t know what kirine is?
“As you probably already know, when enough mana fills kirine, it will synchronize with the mana to accommodate it better. Once kirine synchronizes with your mana, only your mana will be able to pass through it.” Elaru probed, carefully monitoring Kiel’s reaction. However, neither his eyes nor his aura showed any surprise. Uh… did I break him?
Elaru suddenly pointed her index finger towards Kiel’s head, intending to poke his cheek, half expecting him to just slump on the ground like a doll. Kiel’s eyes narrowed, and he slapped her finger away. “What are you doing?”
“Uh… just testing…” Elaru mumbled.
“What are you testing? My patience?” Kiel glared at her half-heartedly. Elaru coughed awkwardly and then continued her explanation as if nothing happened. “The enchantment is placed on the inner edge of the kirine ring. This thin layer of kirine containing the enchantment has synchronized with the mana of the enchanter, so you won’t be able to channel your mana through it. However, the rest of kirine has still not been synchronized so you can claim it as your own.
This way, not only will you be able to channel mana through the ring, demonstrating that the mana channeling function of the ring works, but the enchantment placed on the ring is also secure from any possible magic breaking attempts.”
Elaru paused her explanation, waiting for Kiel, who was rubbing his temples, to confirm that he had processed the information.
“So basically, if anyone else tries to channel mana through my ring they won’t be able to do so because of the high resistance of platinum combined with high resistance of kirine? Therefore, since they can’t channel mana through my ring, they can’t verify whether my ring can actually purify mana?”
“That’s right.” Elaru nodded.
Kiel sighed. “But is there a need to verify? Even if the ring wasn’t a magical artifact, it would still behave in the same way if it was made out of kirine and platinum. Wouldn’t its materials give out that it is a dummy?”
“No.” Elaru shook her head. “Many divine artifacts are made from platinum and kirine, including some mana purifying ones. In fact, gods preferred using rare materials and materials that mortals can’t use to make their artifacts. It was a way to flaunt their divinity. Therefore, the fact that your ring is made out of platinum and kirine would only make it more likely that it is, in fact, a divine artifact.”