8 Toddler Period – Magic Experiments

I quickly understood that my new dad was definitely a playboy. I thought as much from the fact that he had kept his hair in a short ponytail, but that was 100% confirmed after our latest father-son bonding time.

After bringing me out to a giant boulder and chopping it to bits with a tree branch... something that still didn't make any sense to me.

I think it had something to do with how that silver light floating around my dad flooded the tree branch when he swung it.

Though, my dad had swung the sword around faster than I could see anyway, so maybe it was just some super secret martial arts technique that I didn't get.

Anyway, setting that aside, the entire time he kept telling stories about his old adventurer days. Diving into magical labyrinths with his friends, meeting chicks, getting magical treasures, meeting chicks, drinking and eating good food, meeting chicks...

The entire time I wanted to question him if he understood that I was practically still a baby and didn't understand a single thing. Not only that... but those sorts of stories would definitely be a bad influence on any other kid.

Seriously. What if I grew up wanting to be a hero and chased after dungeons just to pick up girls? I mean, it isn't wrong to pick up girls in a dungeon, but isn't it dangerous?

Though, considering that my dad looked really young, I didn't blame him for not realizing that. He was still practically a kid himself. Hell, I knew for a fact that I didn't know what the heck I was doing when I was around his age.

Even then, he was trying. Just like my previous dad, he was doing his best to be reliable.

Though, Paul didn't really seem to know what 'reliable' meant...

Anyway, my new dad was a playboy.

...That made me a bit worried that he might lay his hands on Miss Lilia and cause some problems. I'd seen the two give each other some rather ambiguous looks... and they seemed to have a weird history too.

I really hoped he didn't though. My new family was nice and cozy, and I didn't want it falling apart.

...Maybe I should give my dad a hand then? Make some preparations for the inevitable mistake? Probably a good idea. But it looked like it wasn't happening anytime soon since he and Mom were still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage and very, very, very much in love... very active in 'loving' each other too.

Setting that aside...

Today was the day.

A few weeks had passed, and I properly brushed up on my reading skills and alphabet literacy.

Turned out that it wasn't that complicated. The writing system was mostly the same as I was used to, but the letters were just different. Kind of like if someone took the Roman alphabet and squished them together.

Made my head spin for a while, but the wonderful benefits of having a rapidly developing brain meant that I picked it up pretty quick.

Huzzah!

So, with that done, I returned to challenge the magic guide book again.

Dad was out, Mom was busy at the clinic, Miss Lilia was doing laundry outside... so it was the perfect time to experiment.

In secret.

I didn't want my parents to make false expectations out for me. It'd be bad if they thought I was a genius and that suddenly ran out-

'It was so easy for you in high school! Why are you failing university courses?!'

...Yeah. It'd be bad.

Anyway...

While everyone wasn't paying attention to me, I made my way back to the storage room upstairs, closed the door, and then grabbed that book again.

"Guide to Magic... Yep. Definitely a magic textbook." I plopped myself down and then started flipping through the book.

First impression from a brief skim: the magic system here seemed pretty basic. From a glance, it looked like magic spells could be cast using either incantations or magic circles.

The key part here was the 'or' bit. Below every spell, there was a picture of the magic circle that would cause the corresponding effect.

That was interesting. Usually, it was a combination of both, wasn't it? Like saying an incantation would cause the magic circles to spring up and enact the spell.

Seemed like that wasn't the case here though. One or the other was sufficient.

Apparently.

I was suspicious about it though.

From my quick skim, most of the spell incantations sounded like prayers. And the magic circles weren't that complicated either. They were literally circles, with concentric rings and bits of incantations written along the outer edges with a geometric figure in the middle.

My memories from my previous life were fading, but I remembered seeing much more complicated magical arrays before in some novels and Anime. This seemed way too simple.

And that made me wonder.

...Was it possible that these were just memory techniques? Or maybe visualization techniques?

If what I could freely move around was mana... and if all of those colors I saw was also mana, it didn't make sense for things to be so simple. I mean, so simple in terms of casting that is.

If mana was like a natural extension of the body, it should be possible to directly manipulate it without having to go through the hassle of making complex symbols or incantations.

If it wasn't, then the prayer-like incantations made sense. But that didn't explain the magic circles.

There was a saying that there was genius in simplicity. And it was possible that some magical genius reduced complex calculations into simple forms. But something that required external help to manifest certainly wouldn't be that simple.

Not only that... but I remembered seeing how the golden light flowed when my mom cast the healing spell. The light had just gathered and then *bam* healed.

...Well, I guess that debunked my hypothesis a bit. If mana really *was* that easy to manipulate, then the magic circles could be basic too.

But in that case... what would happen if there were more complex magic circles?

If the magic circles were so basic, then was it because 'mana' was so stable that it only required minimum balancing to shape the spell? Or was it like a cookie cutter that cut out a shape to cast the spell? And were these magic circles even optimized?

The most stable shape was a triangle. If these magic circles were a way to balance the mana output to shape a spell, there should be one at the core to prevent collapse. Or if not a triangle, then a hexagon.

No, that was operating under the assumption that mana would resist being molded into a shape and have to be balanced by the magic circle in the first place. But then why...?

"Argh. Let's not get ahead of ourselves." I muttered to break off my train of thoughts. If I kept thinking, I'd be here for the rest of the day. I didn't have that much time to experiment.

For now... let's get the basics.

According to the book, magic was broadly classified into three groups.

1. Attack magic

2. Healing magic

3. Summoning magic

From that alone, it seemed like magic in this world was more combat oriented. That, or this was a combat oriented book... But it made sense. If monsters existed, and if people like my dad could cut up rocks with literally just sticks, it'd be natural for magic to develop more towards combat uses.

War was the mother of invention, after all.

But anyway, the categories were basically what they said. Attack magic was stuff that attacked things. Healing magic was stuff that healed things. And summoning magic was stuff that summoned things.

Basic stuff.

Next, magic required using mana. And you could use mana by either pulling out the mana your body possessed or drawing out mana from something else.

Again, basic stuff. Either use fuel you owned or find fuel from somewhere else if you didn't have any or didn't have enough.

The interesting part was the next bit.

Apparently, there were only two ways to activate magic.

The first was incantation. Those prayer-like passages I saw in the book. By verbally chanting those incantations, you could cast a spell. Provided you had enough mana, of course.

The second was what the book called "Magic Arrays" but what *I* called magic circles. Because these simple things were definitely *not* magic arrays.

Though, this *was* a beginner's book, so maybe the more complex ones weren't shown. Even so...

Anyway, the more popular method of casting was incantations for obvious reasons. After all, you couldn't just stand around and draw a magic array in combat. And apparently magic arrays were preset and couldn't be modified on the fly. Once you drew it, you could only cast a spell with a set level of effect.

On the other hand, it seemed like you had a bit more leeway with incantations since you could pump out more mana to make it stronger, or less mana to make it weaker.

Summing it up... Magic arrays were like casting magic in a game. And magic that inflicted true damage at that. If you didn't have enough MP, it wouldn't work. But if you did have enough MP, it would only ever do the preset amount of damage it was meant to do. No more, no less.

Magic incantations were more flexible than that. It was kind of like baking, actually. There was a same basic recipe, but you could add more of this and that to come out with a custom result to your liking. And even if you put in the bare minimum, you still got *something* back out at the end. Or if you put too much, you'd get a disastrous result... but you'd still get a result.

Probably.

The book didn't go into that much detail, but that was my brief analysis.

After that... the book said that a person's mana was set the moment they were born, but that sounded like the old fixed mindset/nature v. nurture dogmas that used to be passed around, so I ignored that.

Now then, with that out of the way...

I closed the book and then stood up. "Time to see how this works."

I memorized the incantation for the basic water spell. I also memorized the magic circle for it too.

The book said that magic circles... No, magic arrays? Whatever, I was calling them magic circles.

Anyway, magic circles were supposed to be written down on things that could conduct mana in order to work. But I was curious.

Since I noticed that I had mana in my body... even if I didn't know that was it at the time, I had been moving it around. And I hadn't stopped since then.

By now, I could freely pull out a faint thread of mana from my body and shape it however I wanted.

Nothing ever happened from my tests, but I also never made anything substantial or with the intent to cast magic.

So I was curious what would happen. If magic circles were meant to shape and channel mana into a spell, if I directly shaped mana *into* that magic circle...

But that was later.

First, incantation.

Ah, but safety first.

I took a look around the room and then made my way to the window.

It'd be terrible if I tried casting the spell and a giant water bomb went off inside. And considering that I had absolutely zero metrics to work with... and that if mana was anything like muscles I'd have a crap ton of explosive power... yeah, aiming outside was for the best.

So, after tossing open the window and revealing the clear blue sky and rolling green hills, I held up my right hand and aimed out the window at the clouds.

...The book didn't say anything about whether that was necessary, but if my hypothesis about the incantations and magic circles being just memory and visualization aids was correct, then this would probably help as a memory anchor too.

So... Time to test things out.

Taking a deep breath, I slowly started saying the incantation. At the same time, I focused on how it was affecting the mana in my body and the mana around me. "Bestow the protection of water on the place thee demandest..."

A strange sensation- no, a familiar one. The same as the 'flow' I originally thought was my blood.

I raised an eyebrow and stopped chanting.

The moment I did, I felt the 'flow' change. My mana started receding back to its usual flow around my bloodstream.

But before it did that, I pulled my mana back into the flow of the spell and kept chanting. "...Let thine crystal clear flow here. <Water Ball>."

*ba-dump*

A weird sensation. A pulse, spreading from my heart outwards before cycling around my body. And with that, a crimson thread pulled out from my hand, like silk being unwound from a spool.

And one that was being pulled out of control.

Immediately, I felt a wave of fatigue. Just like if I had spent all night manipulating my mana.

My eyes widened and I quickly reeled the thread back.

When I did, the fatigue vanished. But I didn't manage to pull all of it back.

A tiny sliver snapped off and floated into the air. When it did, the crimson thread shimmered and turned a light blue color. And the moment that happened, water swirled, forming a floating water ball at the end of my hand.

"Huh."

I pulled my hand back. When I did, the water ball came floating with me.

It was weird.

The crimson thread... No, my mana snapped off and changed, but I still felt a connection to it. And just like how I could move the mana around in my body, I could move the blue thread too. And when I did, so did the water ball.

It was harder, sure. Kind of like trying to pick up a fragment of eggshell that broke off into the egg white when you were trying to make scrambled eggs. But it wasn't impossible.

I shifted the water ball over to my left hand and then just observed it for a bit.

It looked pretty stable. The water ball wasn't going anywhere any time soon. But if I squinted, I could see that the blue thread was burning away like a candle wick.

"Weird." I tried tossing the ball between my hands, carefully keeping an eye on the thread inside of it. With each pass, the thread disintegrated a bit more. And after about a dozen times, the ball turned into a puddle of water in my hands and splashed onto the floor.

Wait.

I frowned and stared at the puddle of water.

"...Is it turning mana into water, or converting water from the atmosphere?"

It didn't seem to be the first one since the blue thread didn't disperse. If it was, I would have expected to see a cloud of blue vapor or something. Then, if it was the second...

I knelt down to the ground and focused.

Instead of chanting the spell again, I pulled out a thin crimson thread of my mana and snapped it off.

Again, it felt weird. Like trying to grab a piece of eggshell in yolk. Slippery and moving just when you least expected it.

But I managed.

Now, if I remembered the feeling of how that thread changed color... Ah.

I lost control of the crimson thread.

Thankfully, it immediately shot back to me, as if drawn like a magnet. But I didn't manage to do what I wanted.

"Hm... Then let's try again."

I chanted the spell again, this time paying extra close attention to the process. Instead of letting it loose, I carefully regulated the flow, purposefully snipped off a bit of the thread... and then slowly observed and felt how the thread changed colors.

It was weird. All of this was weird. But I managed to get a feel for it.

This time though, before water could swirl, I brought the blue thread down to the water puddle.

And like I thought, the water leapt up and floated around the blue thread like iron shavings to a magnet. Or maybe more like iron shavings to an electromagnetic field...

"Huh."

I spun the blue thread around and watched the ball spin in place. At the same time, I stretched the thread and tried moving it around in weird ways.

As expected, the water moved along as well.

Then, just as the thread started to completely disintegrate, I tried to pull it apart into a small cloud. If it was disintegrating anyway, I might as well try to vaporize it.

The blue thread scattered... partly. I didn't have very good control over it, so some parts of it didn't change like how I wanted. But some did. And when it did, about half of the water ball disappeared.

But not really.

Faint blue sparkles filled the room. And at the same time, I felt a soft spray of water.

"...Interesting."

I looked back at the book and said, "Seems like I might need to make some notes."

The book said water ball was a spell that converted mana to a ball of water to send flying at a target. But it didn't seem to be that way-

Ah. Wait. I never actually let the spell go the way it was meant to.

Maybe it really did convert mana to water if I let it go all the way?

I turned back to face the window and started chanting again. This time, I didn't resist.

The familiar reverse flow, sending my mana out to my right hand. All of it, spinning out like an out of control spool of thread.

It worried me, but Miss Lilia was outside and Mom should be coming home soon. In the worst case... well, having 'dead by magic exhaustion' was more respectable than 'dead by freak car accident.'

Wait. If I died now... that'd be twice then. Twice that I disappointed my parents. Twice that I would die without accomplishing anything.

I narrowed my eyes and focused.

If this spell was trying to make that happen...!

A wave of fatigue. At the same time, my blood felt like it was starting to boil, my mana flowing out of control.

But I clamped down on it, focusing. "Like... hell...!"

A ball of water started forming in the palm of my hand again. But this time, it wasn't water being drawn to a blue thread. Instead, the crimson thread was dissolving into a mist of clear blue. And with that mist, water was forming.

Like the book said, converting mana to water.

But it was tiring. I could hear the blood pumping in my ears. And I could also feel my senses dimming.

Was I going to faint? I was going to faint.

But before then...

"Stupid... spell! Stop already!"

Dangerous. The spell was a fire and my mana was gasoline. But the problem was, I couldn't stop the flow. Not anymore.

"God... dammit...!"

I grit my teeth and then wrenched my hand back, physically trying to snap the connection.

But it didn't work. Like a feather stuck on my hand with static electricity, the thread wouldn't budge. Not only that, but it kept spilling out of me.

How the hell was I going to-

Wait.

I held out my left hand and quickly spun out another thread.

Only a tiny bit came out. About a palmful. But it was enough.

I quickly moved that over to the water ball and then started shaping it.

Circles, letters... Working as fast as I could, I recreated the magic circle I saw in the book.

And the moment I did, the water ball shrank. The spell stopped pulling mana from me as well.

I let out a deep sigh of relief.

"Damned book. You need to warn people about this stuff."

I grumbled and then focused on the magic circle.

It was small, but with it I could finally feel a connection to that out of control water ball.

And I could also feel a connection to the mana it stole from me.

"Yeah, get back here."

I spun the magic circle in reverse and slowly pulled the string back into my body. With it, the mana converted into the blue mana turned back to my crimson mana and went back into my body. At the same time, the water ball dissolved, turning into mist.

I waited, making sure nothing else happened. Then I walked back over to the book and kicked it into the corner. "Dumb author. What kind of idiot wrote this book and left out such a crucial detail?"

Was it a genius? It had to be a genius. The dumbass skipped such a critical and dangerous detail! What if some other kid tried the spell, huh? They'd drop dead! Seriously!

A door slammed open downstairs and then a familiar female voice called out. "Rudy~! Mommy's home!"

I flinched and quickly put the book back. After that, I toddled out to the center of the room and plastered a smile on my face.

"Hm?" My mom's voice echoed from downstairs and she said, "Rudy?"

"Upstairs, Mama!"

Footsteps rushed upstairs and then the door to the storage room swung open.

I immediately held my arms out for a hug.

My mom looked around and then scooped me up. "Kya~! Rudy's as cute as ever!"

I laughed and hugged her.

...Yeah. Let's forget about magic for a little while. That was *way* too scary.

"Come on!" My mom turned around and started walking out of the room with me. "Mommy's missed you! Let's chat again and you can tell Mommy all about your day! And then we can read your favorite book about Perugius again! Does that sound nice?"

"Mmhm!"

It wasn't my favorite book... but Mom always got super into it, so it was fun watching her. Besides... she worked hard and looked forward to spending time with me. It was only fair to be grateful, right?

...Right. I didn't want to regret not being able to spend time with her in the future after all. Not like-

'I spent all of that money so that we could spend time together on this vacation! Couldn't you at least enjoy it? Why are you complaining so much?!'

I flinched and then hugged my mom tighter.

"Rudy?"

I shook my head and buried my face in my mom's chest. "...Love you, Mama."

My mom tensed. But then she relaxed and hugged me tight too. "Mommy loves you too, Rudy. Sorry that I have to be gone so much..."

"It's fine. Story time?"

"Story time." My mom patted my back and then carried me downstairs.

...Was it because of the spell? Or the memory? For some reason, I felt really tired. And Mom was really warm...

...Maybe a tiny nap would be good...

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