55 Alone In The Crowd (2)

When Lith realized what he had done, it was already too late. His entire face turned red, even the end of his ears turned a bright shade of red.

'Smooth move, stud.' Solus mocked him mercilessly. 'Too bad you forgot the flowers, the chocolate, and more importantly, the ring. What will she think of such a poor performance?'

Professor Nalear giggled, making Lith turn an even brighter shade of red. He felt so ashamed of himself that he could only hide his face between his hands. He was incapable of looking at her and banged his head on the desk.

'You f*cking idiot!' He inwardly screamed. 'Since when do I have a d*ck for brains? Just when I thought that things couldn't get any worse, I turn out to be my own worst enemy'

"I'm honestly flattered by your feelings…" She said while still chuckling.

"… but I'm not into kids. I'm looking for a tall and strong mage as a life companion. If in six years I'm still single and you haven't changed your mind, I will be happy to resume this conversation."

Lith wanted to cry and run away, spending the rest of his life hiding in the deepest hole he could find. But he had already made a fool out of himself, there was no reason to add insult to injury.

He took some deep breaths to calm down, using water magic to cool down both his face and nether regions, finally regaining his focus.

'If I apologize, I will make everything worse.' He thought. 'She reacted like I was joking, let's play along. The more I stir it, the more it will stink.'

"Now, before going back to the course's topic, one last word of warning for you scum. The next time I catch you doing something disrespectful towards one of your classmates, I will make every single one of you regret not having a Guilty Ballot.

"Are we clear?"

No one dared to reply.

"Perfect. Let's forget about your pathetic, miserable existences, so I can explain to you what Principles of Advanced Magic is about."

She approached the chalkboard, a long and thin piece of mineral appeared out of thin air in her hand, allowing her to draw a human silhouette.

"As you should already know from your first three years, every human possesses a certain degree of talent for magic. The extent of such talent is defined by the amount of mana one has stored in his mana well."

Lith followed her speech with interest.

'So, they really have no concept of the mana core.' He thought.

"An individual's talent can be roughly split into three categories: the normal human, …" She hit the chalkboard at the level of the silhouette's knees, and suddenly the empty space within it was filled by a glowing blue light up to that point.

"… the magico/magica, …" This time the mineral hit at the chest level, and the light rose up accordingly.

"…and finally, the mage." The whole empty space within the silhouette was now filled to the brim with a pulsing blue color.

"While performing the first three tiers of magic, hands signs and magic words are the equivalent of a bucket, that once dropped in the mana well allows you to extract the right amount of power.

"Hence, the spellcasting will be successful, as long as you are capable of forming a perfect bucket. Sadly, from tier four and up, this process no longer works.

"This kind of magic requires such an amount of mana, that there are only two ways of extracting it from the well. The first one, that you can learn in minor academies or in the books available for purchase, is to create a bigger bucket.

"This method is feasible, but most of the time impractical. It requires so many magic words, hand signs so complicated that either your opponent is a rock, or you work with a team that keeps it occupied during a very long spellcasting time.

"Just like using a bucket too big and heavy, extracting mana out of the well that way requires much more time and effort than just using the old bucket twice."

'What the f*ck?! This is exactly what I learned from Lark's books. This explains why it took me so long to perform them correctly with fake magic.'

"The second one is only available in one of the six great academies. What I am going to teach you, has its roots in the first magic's multi casting skills. Professor Trasque should have already stressed the importance of first magic, correct?"

The whole class nodded.

"Multi casting means that an individual has the talent to form and control more than one bucket at the same time. Let's say that a mage capable of double casting, potentially they can control up to two buckets. That's the minimum requirement for tier four spells.

"Some may even require three, while only tier five magic demands an even higher multi casting capability. Please, understand that all this talk about buckets and water is just an oversimplification.

"In advanced magic, mental visualization is a key element for success. You can choose to imagine it as a jar of wine, a chest full of gold, whatever fits your bill is fine. Always remember that the second method has a much faster cast time in exchange for a greater focus and mental strength.

"It's up to you to learn how to form and control more than one 'bucket' at a time. Hand signs and magic words are still necessary to form the first one, then you need to be able to sense it and generate as many copies as you can.

"Those who are incapable of learning such a method by the end of the academic year will be dismissed as they show insufficient talent. Money and status cannot help you, only talent and hard work will guarantee your promotion."

The lesson went on for another two hours, and soon it was lunchtime.

Lith was so engrossed in what he had learned, that he completely forgot about his crush and the poor impression his previous marriage proposal could have left.

He said goodbye to Professor Nalear before leaving the classroom, but didn't give her a second look or even a thought.

'The more I learn, the more fake magic does indeed resemble true magic, but most of the things she explained are completely wrong. The only right thing she said was about mental visualization.

'If one does not realize the existence of the mana core, the current approach to magic is too passive to be effective. It's not a matter of water and buckets, it more closely resembles building and fine-tuning a power plant that can provide energy for countless applications.

'According to her theory, a fake mage with 100 mana points can only produce 100 points of energy.

'A true mage, despite having the same amount of mana, can stimulate their core to generate an output that depends on the situation, bringing it up to 120, or even 150 if necessary.

'Sure, the physical burden would be remarkable, but anything is better than being dead. Also, this difference grants a true mage a versatility that fake mages can only dream about.'

Thanks to the academy map stored in Soluspedia, Lith was able to move faster than anyone else. While others would get lost or needed to ask for directions, he managed to arrive at the canteen first.

Once again, the skill of the Forgemasters left him speechless. It was nothing like his old high school cafeteria. There was no cash register, no need to form a line or pick up a tray.

The room was of rectangular shape, five meters (16'5") high, with the long side 200 meters (656 feet) long and the short side 100 meters (328 feet) long. Except for the door he came from and the floor, all the other walls had been turned into windows.

Lith knew that above the fourth floor, where he currently was, there was still the floor for the fifth year and many others, yet by looking up he was able to see the brilliant light of noon.

The room, like all the others, was perfectly lighted. The whole canteen was filled with rectangular dinner tables, each one capable of accommodating up to six people.

The tables were evenly spaced among them, allowing students to walk to and from them with ease, even when the room was at its max capacity.

Lith chose a corner table with a corner seat. Having a wall behind him and another at his left, no one could get to his back without him noticing.

'Interesting, they choose to make the cafeteria look like a panoramic restaurant. Probably to let the students remember what the outside world looks like, and to avoid the claustrophobic feel that windowless rooms give.'

Once he sat down, he discovered that the chair was somehow bolted to the ground. Lith could not move it, but as soon as his butt touched the cushion, the seat auto-adjusted its height and size to a perfect fit.

The only thing left for him to do was to place his order. Lith put his hands on the table, injecting a small amount of mana and activating the embedded communication device.

���I'll take fillet steak, 2 centimeters (0,8 inch) high, medium-rare. Also, a vegetable cream soup, a side of roasted spiced potatoes. Red wine or beer are equally fine as a drink."

A small Warp Steps appeared in front of him, delivering his order with the exception of the alcohol.

"Sorry, sir." Said a voice coming up from the still open Warp Steps.

"Only sixteen year old students are allowed to drink fermented beverages, and only moderate quantities. You can choose between water, milk and fruit juice."

Lith sighed deeply. It would not be the same without some spirits to lighten up his heavy mood.

"I'll take water."

Soon he completely forgot about his problems. The academy's chefs were worthy of a five-star restaurant. The meat was tender and juicy. It simply melted in his mouth.

The potatoes were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, spicy enough to make his blood run and pleasantly tickle his tongue.

The cream soup was excellent as well, but Lith saved it for last. He hated vegetables, of any form and kind. Yet he left the plate clean. He knew how important it was keeping his diet balanced while his growth spurt approached.

He managed to enjoy his whole meal, ignoring the people around him and only looking at the forest outside. It stretched as far as his eye could see, and during his brief time in the canteen, he was able to spot many beasts and herbs he had never seen before.

'I wish I could take seconds, but if I eat too much, I will be so sleepy that I will barely be able to pay attention. It's my first lesson for my Master healer specialization, and first impressions are very important.'

Despite considering himself to be a great healer already, Lith was really curious about tier four light spells, since there was none in all the books he previously had access to.

'Over the years, there were so many things that I wasn't able to come up with a solution for, so many patients I have lost. This is my chance to learn from the masters and impress them.

'If I manage to keep my status as an A rank student, my life will be much easier!'

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