Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 246
Kindle and Fireball
The spells he demonstrated had been categorised 'harmless' by his mistress. They were on sale in the magic shop in Whitestag for just ten crowns each to registered magi. So they were even harmless enough to be sold.
For Maria, apart from finding Luminous Pearl useful for reading and experiments, she didn't have any use for Kindle, Hydrogenesis, and Appraisal. She had a noble background and lived a life of comfort. She had no need to make/buy her own candles. She never lit them herself either.
No spell was truly useless to Claude. They were only ever used inappropriately. The three spells, Luminous Pearl, Hydrogenesis and Kindle, were unquestionably useful for someone living in the wilderness. He even thought that those three spells would be far more useful than Magus' Hands and Fine Control for the girl. They would give her a source of light at night, a fire starter and clean water. Life in the wild would be made so much easier with them.
As for Appraisal, Claude only thought about offering it to her later. He found it weird that, while rune magi had Eye of Appraisal and battlemagi had Insight, nature magi didn't have their own spell for detecting ripples. It was a huge disadvantage. First, they couldn't tell whether an opponent was a magus or not until they actually cast a spell. It made it rather easy to ambush magi like her.
There was also the potential of wasting mana unnecessarily. She usually reset all her traps once every five days because she couldn't appraise how much longer they'd last, for example. She'd only have to replace them when they were on the brink of failure if she had Appraisal as she'd know exactly when that would be.
When Claude told her about Appraisal, the poor girl nearly broke her head as she tried to decide what spell to trade in return. In the end, she stared at Claude like a pitiful puppy begging for food. She didn't want to say it, but she desperately wanted all the spells. She understood how useful they were.
Claude avoided her gaze, however, and left her to her own devices, even going so far as to whistle innocently.
How infuriating! Angered, the girl began to breathe haggardly like a little wild boar.
"I want all four spells!"
"You want all of them?--" Claude turned to her with an odd expression. "--You have other spells you didn't tell me about?"
"Not spells!--" She pouted. "--I have three medicinal recipes. I'll trade those for Appraisal."
"Three recipes... Apart from the ones that treat flu and external injuries, what do you have?"
This was exactly what he wanted. He'd revealed Appraisal for exactly this purpose: to get another recipe. He only needed to throw in Featherfall for the injury-healing paste's recipe. He didn't think she would be willing to trade all three for a single spell, much to his delight and slight guilt for bullying a young girl like her.
"Mama left me a recipe to treat broken bones and fractures, but that requires the powdered bone of mountain leopards and their marrow. It works wonders, but there are no leopards in this area, so we weren't able to make any. If you can't find any leopards, you can replace them with wildcats, but the effect won't be as great," she said, looking a little troubled. Since she had no sample for the recipe, she didn't know whether Claude would be willing to accept the trade.
"Alright, that's a deal." His nod gave the girl quite the surprise.
By the time he left, he handed over the drawings of the formation diagrams of the five spells to her and received the three recipes and her five spell formation diagrams in return. In the following days, he would have to memorise the nature spells and practice with them before burning the five diagrams. He couldn't hold onto anything related to the magic in the military lest he got discovered and exposed.
Naturally, he asked the girl to make sure the window and door of the room to be shut tight before practicing those spells so as to not cause any commotion that would attract the attention and fright of other soldiers. Claude knew that while he told the soldiers that Sheila was the daughter of a hunter living in the wilderness, the rumour that she was a witch was still going about. The black wolf that followed her all around was enough to convince many of the soldiers that she was a witch.
Claude went downstairs and was just in time to see Myjack, Gum and the two signallers help fry the bear meat in a pot of hot oil. The fragrance was incredibly pleasing to the nose. While it smelled great, the pieces of meat about the size of a palm were only cooked on the surface. They were still raw deep inside and had to be fried for a period of time along with the spices used to marinate it for an hour or so before it was completely cooked and seasoned.
"Sir, you haven't gone to rest yet?" Gum asked.
Rest? Where would I rest? You think I would sleep in the same bed as Sheila? Claude regretted bringing Sheila into his room. He should've brought her to the empty guest room on the first floor instead of his own bedroom. Now that she was already sleeping in his bed, he didn't feel it was appropriate to get her to change rooms.
"Myjack, after you finish putting the meat into the pot, go upstairs with Gum and pack your things and move to the guest room. Stay there from now on. I'll live in the room you two are using now."
He had no choice but to go for that arrangement. He was worried that Sheila's spell learning would alert Myjack and Gum since the two rooms were separated by only a wooden wall and it was all too easy to notice what was going on in the next room. When Baroness Vaskiri was still there and Claude had his way with her for the night, he saw Myjack and Gum the next day with bags under their eyes as they waddled out of their rooms. They'd not slept a wink.
"Alright, Sir. I'll move everything later," Myjack answered.
He didn't know what relationship his superior had with the beauty and her wolf, but he could tell they were close. He might just bed the girl like he had the baroness. Gum and Myjack would lose even more sleep then. They had to relive the hell of having to rub themselves out thrice every night when the baroness was staying with Claude.
It was best for them to stay as far away as possible. Myjack was no fool. If Claude stayed in the guest room instead, he might run into Myjack on the way there from the corridor and the situation would no doubt be awkward. That time when he heard some noises and opened his door only to see Claude carrying the baroness into his room, he almost wanted to slap himself at the sight.
Claude didn't think his decision to live in another room would cause his orderman's imagination to spiral. When he was done giving instructions, he put on his beastskin raincoat and headed to the stone warehouse next door to check on his band. He would also have to check on the outpost at the camp entrance. Those should've been Mazik's responsibilities, but Claude didn't know if he could count on that man, given how drunk he ended up last night.
After another week, Sheila finally recovered. She complained that the medicine Claude gave her was for military use and had rather poor quality and efficacy. While it stopped blood rather quickly, it usually left scars. Sheila was quite dissatisfied about the three marks that stretched from her left breast to her lower ribs about half a foot in length. She hatefully said that if she had managed to make her paste, those three scars wouldn't have remained.
While Claude was all too interested in giving them a good look, the girl didn't afford him that chance. Nowadays, she had grown rather sedentary and laid in bed all day apart from when she had to go to the washroom, bathe and eat. She cast Magus' Hands and Fine Control for tasks ranging from reading to cleaning. She even used one of her manifestations to hold Blackwind in the air and used the other to create a brush to groom it properly.
Luminous Pearl and Hydrogenesis also saw a lot of use. There would always be a ball of light hovering in the room and she drank two cups of water she created every day. The window and door of the room was almost constantly shut tight and nobody outside knew of her antics.
For the past two days, she had been researching Kindle's formation diagram. She noticed that it looked rather similar to the spell diagram for Fireball, a spell her mother was rather proficient in and had recorded in her tome. However, she was only about thirteen back then and had just begun learning meditation from her mother. She hadn't yet become a true one-ring nature magus.
There was once when she was picking mushrooms in the wild with her mother when they ran into a few grey wolves. Her mother stretched out her hand and blasted those wolves down the mountains with a few small fireballs. Sheila thought that her mother looked awesome when she used Fireball and constantly pestered to be taught the spell after they returned home. Her mother, however, found it rather funny that she wanted to learn it despite having just begun meditating. However, she still drew the diagram on the desk and taught her how she should use it to not disappoint her. Naturally, she wasn't capable of actually casting the spell. She had only listened on casually.
When her mother left with the other magi on a treasure hunt, Sheila was only fourteen and still wasn't a one-ring nature magus. She thought that her mother would return half a year later, only to be stymied to find that her mother's tome was nowhere to be found when she became a one-ring magus and she didn't know which basic spells to engrave. After waiting a few more months, she didn't have a choice and engraved the five spells she already memorised.
Fireball was the earliest spell her mother taught her, but she only had a vague impression of it. She couldn't recall the structure of the whole spell formation, so she hasn't been able to use that combat spell up till now. But with Claude's Kindle spell formation, she began to see some similarities and gradually recalled the formation.
When she told Claude about her new accomplishment, Claude was completely shocked. He remembered that Maria said that Chill was a simplified version of Freeze, which the Watch abridged for use of creating small ice cubes during hot weather. It made sense that Kindle was a simplified version of Fireball, but the spell formation was much simpler in complexity. It was rather impressive for Sheila to be able to reconstruct Fireball based off the formation of Kindle.
The girl excitedly drew ten-odd similar formations that could be Fireball and couldn't wait to try them out, only to be grabbed by Claude. He was completely stupefied by her airheadedness. If she were allowed to test Fireball in his room, he couldn't be certain whether the wooden building would still stand at the end of the day. Testing spell formations was also a risky affair. Any mistake could result in the spell exploding in the hand of the caster in the best case. At worst, there would be blowback from the spell and injury to the void space and hexagram was a real possibility. To remedy that, one would have to go through much retraining.
Claude had to promise her time and again that he would take her to the mountains to test it out after the rainy season to stop the impatient girl from doing it on the spot. She proceeded to inscribe her mana formations inside her new bear skin while pouting all the way. Since Claude had traded for Mimic Beast, he ought to familiarise himself with the mana formations required for the inscriptions to use them, even if he didn't get to see the spell itself in action. He then asked her why she prized that bearskin so much.
She said she could transform into a large black bear with the skin and take back a cave that had been made into a den by another bear. She said her mother stored many books in the cave.