Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 62

Claude had to admit that, while the diary contained lots of trivial details, he found them interesting and gained a basic understanding of magic from them, such as the talent-evaluation glass ball, elemental affinity, and so on. Those were the things of which he wasn't aware. He only went to sleep late that night.

So there was also an elemental component to magic... He wondered for which element he had the greatest affinity. Regrettably, he didn't have his own glass ball.

He went to sleep very late, so he was quite tired the next day. The whole day was spent yawning and being lectured by his teachers when they caught him dozing off. He barely even heard his father lecturing him around the dinner table about how quickly he was using up his lamp oil. He merely told him he had to study Hez.

He played with his younger siblings and the dog for a little while after dinner then headed up to his room when they went to bed at nine. He had only read about 40 pages and he wanted to see what else Landes had written about. He dearly hoped he wrote something about his life as an apprentice.

He flipped the diary open and continued his read. As expected, Landes described the helplessness, unwillingness, and disappointment he felt when he left home with the grim-looking magus in great detail. He didn't expect the place to which he was heading to be so close to home. They arrived at their destination after only crossing the lake to Egret Island.

He wrote three pages just on his first impressions of the tower. He focused especially on his shock and amazement at the sheer size of the thing and he revisited that description often throughout the rest of the diary. For the first time, he even felt a little pride bubble in his chest at the thought that he was going to be living in this incredible place.

He had not seen anything even comparable to the tower in his entire life. He was a country bumpkin marching into a city for the first time and his mouth was open more than closed for the next couple of days.

His life in the world of magic began thusly on quite a high note, but he soon encountered a problem. He might be the most talented of all the youngsters who'd been chosen this round, but he was also completely illiterate.

Six others were also illiterate. Luckily the tower had accounted for this, and a two-ring rune magus had been arranged to teach them how to read and write.

Magic was written and taught in Hez, which Landes recorded was said to be a variant of dragon tongue. They weren't just taught how to read the script however, they were all but taught the language again from scratch, as they had to learn the proper, 'high Hezian' pronunciation, which was used in spell casting, which was quite different from their native varieties of 'vulgar Hezian'. They were also taught proper enunciation, as that was crucial to spell casting.

Landes' teacher was a low-ranked female magus. She was quite beautiful, so much so that Landes often found it hard to concentrate. A month or so into his stay at the tower he was completely infatuated with the woman and took two pages to describe her in what could only be called excruciating detail.

She didn't care much for him, or any of the other illiterates, however. To her, they were nothing but charges who she had to get literate as quickly as possible so she could be done with them. They were an annoyance more than anything else, though she was painstakingly patient and gentle with them.

She vanished the moment her work was done and Landes never saw her again. He heard much later, when he became a one-ring rune magus, that she was gifted to another seven-ring archmagus by Loenk to be his concubine not long after she finished teaching them. The archmagus had run into her on one of his visits and became, much like Landes himself, infatuated with her. Unlike Landes, however, he had the clout to get her, or more specifically, the riches: he traded several precious magic items for her.

Before Landes learnt of this, however, her disappearance was already a deep disappointment to him. His first crush, crushed so quickly and mercilessly. He'd had some hope of winning her over with his talent and personality, but that was gone once he learned what happened to her. He had entertained the thought of going to fetch her for a few moments, but only a few. No one dared, or even could, challenge Archmagus Loenk's decisions, not to mention the other archmagus.

He moved on to being trained in actual magecraft after he passed a final assessment on 'high Hezian'. The first order of business was assigning him to a class.

That was news to Claude as well. He'd read quite a bit of literature on magic. Magi were usually differentiated by attribute, as far as he knew, he'd never heard of classes. He didn't even know what was meant by 'classes'.

Landes came through for him again, though, and carefully described classes in his diary. His senior, Tawari -- so that's how they'd met -- had described it to him. Interestingly, Tawari was the very magus who'd brought him into the fold of magic in the first place.

The magi had ruled the world for three millennia by Landes' birth. They believed they were very advanced, though they didn't include the lives commoners lead in their consideration of 'advanced'. They were at the tail end of a declining world -- where magic was concerned -- however. The ancient high class magic resources no longer existed, and even the common, and even previously not-considered-magic, ingredients were also now rapidly becoming scarce. Their best minds said that the last vestiges of magic would vanish from this world in another thousand years at most, and the world would be nothing but barbarians fighting over scraps with clubs.

The Council of the Nines, the council of nine ring magi were acting to try and solve the issue. They'd built a massive array in the 'holy land', Symposium, that connected to a whole new world and were hoping to bring back resources from that virgin land -- some had started calling it Kenpus -- to save this one.

Landes had no idea what the world had been like before he'd been born, so he didn't have a way of comparing the current and previous states of the world to see if there really was a crisis, nor really would that affect his life much -- or so he thought at the time. Tawari at some point told him that he'd hoped he could become a battlemagus like himself, but the tower master insisted he be trained as a rune magus.

If nothing else, the drying up of magic in the world had two clear effects. First, apart from white sterling magi, no one else was supported beyond becoming a five-ring magus.

They didn't have the resources for such an endeavour. It didn't help that they felt vulgar commoners, even those that had become magi, didn't deserve such a privilege.

They'd also for the first time ever officially divided magi into two classes, battlemagi, the enforcers of the magus world who ensured the will of the Council of Nines was obeyed, and rune magi.

Everyone was trained to be rune magi, they were the bottom tier of normal magi, just above apprentice, and a few would be selected from among them to become battlemagi.

Their training focused on magic theory and alchemy and their main purpose in life was to be apprentices and assistants to archmagi.

Tawari had wanted Landes to become a battlemagus because he had the talent for it, and it would have been a better life than being a rune magus. Tawari himself was chosen to become a battlemagus because he scored eight for fire. Landes scored nine, so he was even more qualified to become a battlemagus than Tawari. Loenk had the final, and only, say in such matters, however, and he'd said no, so there was nothing that could be done for Landes.

Landes didn't know enough to understand the difference between the two classes. He was just happy enough to be a magus of any kind at all.

Tawari explained that only battlemagi were allowed some autonomy of movement. Their responsibilities outside the towers they served meant they needed to be able to leave without having to ask explicit permission from the tower master. Rune magi, however, were tower bound unless explicitly ordered to leave it to do something for their master. This freedom might not sound like too much, but it meant that battlemagi had far more opportunities to net resources for their personal use after they became five-ring magi and were thus not given anything by their masters anymore.

A few months after his first love disappeared, Landes became a first-rank rune magus and was made assistant to a five-ring senior. His studies focused in on alchemy pretty quickly, and he was soon pouring every ounce of energy he had into mastering its mystery. Even when the rebellion which would eventually tear down the magi broke out, it barely even registered with him. He didn't care about what happened outside his lab and quarters, much less outside the tower.

When he became an official apprentice, an official one-ring magus, he learned there were 130 others 'graduating' of sorts like him. He also met the slaves that served in the tower for the first time. There were over 200 of them. He'd not run into one before because he was so drunk in his books, and because they made every effort to be as invisible as possible. They were foul sights for their masters, after all. They didn't even live in the tower, but in a kind of out-house somewhere nearby.

Landes got to stay in the tower, being a magus, but only just barely. He was quite literally at the bottom of the ladder, and lived in the tower's basement. He shared his room with five other apprentices. Each could own only as much as he could put in the single drawer beneath his desk and a single chair.

He didn't get along with his roommates, mainly because they despised him for being more talented than they were, and almost destined to get a better place in the hierarchy eventually than they. It didn't help that he was quite the smoothtalker and often stepped on people's toes while sweet talking his teachers and superiors.

Support Ryogawa and his work Black Iron's Glory