“Let’s go over this again,” Argus grumbled, holding in one hand a piece of parchment that had been all but soaked in ink, and in his other a feather pen, “You’re saying that by watching me use my skill, [Mana Manipulation], your skill, [Aptitude] allowed you to use it?”
“Yeah, that sounds about right,” I replied, for what must have been the fifty billionth time, “Even I’m not really sure what this skill does.”
“Do you have any idea just how utterly STUPID your entire story sounds?” Argus yelled, dropkicking the clipboard across the room, “First, you just show up, with no background, no memories, no knowledge of anything, anything at all! And now, you expect me to believe that you just happen to have this mysterious magic that NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN? Do I look like I was born yesterday?”
The man had gone near insane. Shortly after I was rescued from the room, which, as we soon learned from Lana who had tried to make sure it hadn’t malfunctioned, was completely ruined, Argus had whisked me off through another series of corridors, locked the two of us in a small confessional, and had begun to interrogate me, jotting down notes on anything and everything he observed, using up both sides of the paper in near microscopic text, twice.
“Argus!” James’ voice roared through the door, accompanied by heavy banging, “If you don’ com out righ’ no’, Imma hafta break this ‘ere door daun, yeh hear me? D’ya hear me?”
Before anyone could respond, a thick, heavy blade, about a meter long thrust itself through the thin, wooden door, then turned sharply to the right, shredding the poor thing to splinters. Through the shower of splinters, Lana stepped into view, her sword transformed into a meter and a half long buster sword, the faintest trace of armor shimmering around her body.
“Hiiiii-!” Argus squealed, crabwalking as fast as he could towards the back of the room as fast as he could. His face had turned as white as a sheet, and sweat had begun to pour down his face like a freshly spawned river.
“Yah’ll righ, kid?” James’ voice boomed as his immense girth made it’s way through the doorway, “Don’ worry kid, i’s all over now. Jus’ tell me wah’ he did to you.”
“Oh, he just asked me a few questions, ” I answered as James picked me up from the chair where I had been sitting and spun me around in a circle.
At this, James set me down and stared straight into my eyes, disbelief flooding through his own eyes.
“Ah, wahtever. We’re jes leavin’ anyways,” James said, then turning to Argus, “An’ don’ even think o’ reportin’ this ter tha pope ah’ yers, yeh hear?”
Somehow, through what I can only assume was through the vast experience of trial and error, we managed to make our way out of the temple to the carriage where Lana was waiting, her dagger once again at her hip in it’s usual ornate, golden form.
“So?” she asked, her voice refined into a dagger that would have rivaled the sword from earlier, and as if saying that the obvious anger within her speech wasn’t enough, her voice had been frozen to the point where I could feel my limbs going numb.
Or perhaps that was just James’ arms cutting off the bloodflow to the lower half of my chest and below.
“Don’ worry,” James said, “‘E Says it’s jes questions.”
As Lana turned her disbelief filled eyes on me, I saw my life, or whatever short portion of it I could remember, flashing before my eyes.
“Anyways,” James continued, as if Lana had never spoken, “Now tha’ we know Allen’s magic, we don’ got no reason ter stey here annymore. When we get ‘ome I wan’ both a ye ter pack a bag an’ we’ll be settin out ter Merun in the morn. Allen, I’ll grab you a few changes o’ clothes an a bag so jes pack a few books er summat.”
I had a surprisingly easy time drifting to sleep that night, however unlike last time I was not greeted by the assembly of gods that had appeared last time, rather this time I was met by the sight of an ornate room, fashioned like a library. In the center of the room, on top of a circle of gold stood a desk made of a dark wood, piled high with books. Spreading outwards from the golden circle were rays of alternating gold and black obsidian, reaching out toward a single, cylindrical book case that encircled the entire room.
“How do you like it?” came a smooth, pleasant, voice from behind me, “It’s my personal library. A copy of every written work ever produced by an intelligent species; and a few by some unintelligent species.”
The voice’s owner was an olive skinned man of average height. He was crowned by a head of golden, wavy hair that stopped just before his eyes, which shone a warm, yet icy blue that seemed to pierce through one’s very existence, like an arrow from the world’s largest bow.
“Hmm?” He intoned, “Cat got your tongue?”
“Oh, er, sorry,” I stuttered, “I was distracted by how beautiful everything was.”
“Are you, hmm?” the man chuckled, “Well I guess anyone would be, coming here for the first time, so I guess you wouldn’t be any different. I mean, it is a big honor you know!”
For some reason I just couldn’t seem to understand, the man seemed to be trying to convince himself of his words more than he was worried about me believing them. Every so often, he would give a nervous laugh, or glance of his shoulders. After he was through with his speech, he wandered around the room a while, as if he was scared to break the silence that had descended upon the two of us, picking books off the shelf, opening to a random page then setting it back down.
“Where are my manners,” he said eventually, placing his latest piece of reading material back onto the shelf and extending his hand toward me, “I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Aphoth, God of Magic, but you, eh, you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“I am Allen,” I said, shaking his hand. For a second, it looked as if he might’ve wanted to pull away from me, however the moment quickly passed and his face seemed to gain a sort of glow that seemed to warm up the room.
“Allen, hmm?” Aphoth asked, “Yes, yes, I know of you. Er, right, how are you enjoying your magic? You do know those are my gifts to life, right?”
“Really?” Thinking back on the events of the past few days, I could vaguely remember something of the sort being said, however I hadn’t paid much attention to it, “Then can you explain what this [Aptitude] ability you gave me is?
“Aptitude, hmm?” Aphoth grumbled. From the looks of it, I had probably offended him by not getting it right off the bat, “Isn’t it obvious though? You have the Aptitude for magic! As long as someone’s willing to teach you, you can learn it!”
“Wouldn’t it be much easier if everyone had this ability?”
“Oh yes,” Aphoth replied, rolling his eyes so hard a bowling ball would be jealous, “Why don’t you ask Brophr why only a select few are given Holy Weapons, or Forus why she gives people bad luck?”
I will admit that his explanations made sense, but I didn’t have to like it.
“Anyways,” Aphoth continued, rubbing his face as if to wake himself up, “I called you here for a reason, and the reason is this!”
He flung out his arms, which clasped between them a large, purple book. On both covers were what looked like the impression of a magic circle containing a wrench, and the spine bore a title written in the faded, golden letters of a forgotten civilization. Across the entire length of the book was a series of chains and locks that had rusted over, fused, and then rusted again.
“Why is that book in chains?”
“Oh this? It’s nothing really, the original copy did a massacre or two. I removed the curse before putting it in here, of course, but you can never be too careful, that’s what Forus always says. Maybe sometime I’ll show you the ones in top security, but we’ve wasted too much time already.”
“Okay then. So, what does this book have to do with me?”
“What does it have to do with you? Haha! He asks what it has to do with him! Boy, this book, or rather, some of the contents are my little gift to you. You see, as a part of my blessing, I’m allowing you the right to learn any of the Magic Skills from this book; a Class 3A Grimoire.”
“Hold on,” I asked, “Why would magic even be written down like this? Aren’t Magic Skills something we’re just born with? Why would anyone feel the need to write down how to use them?”
I could almost see the crimson whirlpool at the base of his neck as the blood drained from his face, leaving behind a pasty imitation of the confidence that had filled him earlier.
“M-Maybe a different time then? Hehehe,” Aphoth stuttered, “Er, I th-I think I hear y-your friends calling y-you awake, er ta-ta now! H-Have a s- Have a safe t-trip to M-Merun!”
“Damnit!” I cursed, flinging my covers off, “What was up with that?”
Peering over the side of the bed, I caught sight of Lana, fully dressed in what appeared to be a short, leaf green dress with a matching ribbon strung through her hair. Her dagger had shifted into a heavy hammer for use in a forge, though I was afraid to find out what she had wanted to use it for.
“Er, Lana, you okay?”
“Aaah! What was that for, you jerk!” she yelled throwing the hammer at my face. Although it missed, I took careful note of the fact that it returned to her, as if it was some sort of demonic boomerang. It seemed that, during my forceful awakening, I had hit her in the face with my arm and knocked her off, resulting in a large, red mark across her face, though, I thought as I took a closer look it wasn’t that obvious, especially through the beetred blush that had spread across her face.
“Allen you idiot!”
Oh, I was naked again. I forgot about that.