“Okay. Let’s get this out of the way. Frank, you stay two meters away from this. Pria, just to be safe, I need you to be as further away from this as possible.” Johan said while putting on a serious expression and looking at the two people who stood on the room with him.
Frank, already used to this, nodded while sitting on the sofa with an amused expression, while Pria put on a slightly disappointed expression as she leaned against the wall. Feeling a tinge of guilt at seeing her making such expression.
But he quickly steeled his feelings for the sake of his money and held himself back from calling her. Since her interaction with magic was still a bit strange, he decided to not risk it during such a complex and expensive ritual as the one he was about to do. Well, the reason was more for the expensive part, but there was no need to linger on that, right?
Leaving that aside, he quickly turned back to the piece of paper he had laid on the ground before him and whipped out a small pot of homemade ink and stirred it up a couple of times before removing the feather-tip and kneeling before the paper.
“Okay, for starters, this is a special ink I made that uses blue-roses stems, Enchanted iron dust and tap water as additives.” He explained to the Slime girl to see if this would cheer her up a bit. It did. “With that done, then I must mix it well while heating it up using flames from a tree grown in blessed grounds so that it can take its effects.” He explained while drawing large circles on the paper.
Having finished the three main circles, he took out the armor from his storage ring and put it on the center of the inner circle. Piling up all the pieces together one atop the other, so that they would all stay within the circle (and thus he wouldn’t need to spend even more of this less than cheap ink), he nodded before moving on to the next step.
Pulling out a small handbook from his pocket, he checked his notes one last time before moving on to write the ritual itself. Using a mix of latin alphabet, greek letters plus a couple of other symbols from other languages,
At the same time the magician started to murmur in a low tone a language that neither Frank nor Pria could understand, and as if answering to his voice, the ink would emit a slight glow every time he finished a word.
“Hmm… Isn’t that the classic magical circle?” Frank asked confused. “I thought you didn’t like using it much.”
“Not really.” Johan said with a shrug. “”It’s a nice well balanced piece, but if I can be a bit more specific, I can use less materials with the other settings.” He explained before pulling a few strips of paper from his pocket and putting the ink away, only to take another ink with a brush instead of a feather this time. “However, it’s also the one that’s easiest to use when you have to use more than one grimoire, as it is so versatile that little to no conversion is needed.”
“I see…” Frank replied with a nod amused before leaning back on the sofa.
For a moment, Johan went back to writing on the strips of paper using the large brush, making elegant and beautiful strokes as he wrote down a varied amount of symbols on the strip.
Taoist charms. From the grimoires of the far east where these are their main source of magic and also one of Johan’s favorite pieces of ritual, thanks to their incredible versatility thanks to the fact that most of the effect comes simply from the writing of a simple black ink.
“Errrm… Johan… I think your girlfriend wants your attention.” Frank said suddenly, making him stop surprised before raising his head surprised.
Blinking confused, he looked at his friend before turning towards the girl on the corner of the room. She was standing fidgety while looking at him as if trying to get his attention, but also afraid of distracting him from the serious job.
However, once she noticed that he was looking at her, she smiled briefly before making a curious expression, leaning forward as if trying to approach him, but holding herself back so she wouldn’t move from where he told her not to stay.
“What?” he asked confused, seeing her eagerness. “What am I doing?”
Pria shook her head before stopping to think for a moment as she tried to find a way to ask what she wanted to ask. Finally she blinked and looked around, as if searching for something, but after not finding it, she asked for him to wait and dashed off from the room and into his bedroom.
Confused, Frank and Johan looked at each other confused, before shrugging together, not really understanding what she wanted to ask. Luckily, after a few seconds the girl came back while carrying something in her arms.
Johan recognized the small circular item as being the alarm-clock from his bedroom. It was a cheap store-bought alarm he got for the time his cell phone battery had fried up. He used it for a couple of days before he got Deaddie to fix the battery for him. For a price cheaper than buying a new one nonetheless.
The girl quickly pointed to the clock’s hand and started spinning around in a counterclockwise fashion.
“…AH, you mean earlier?” He asked confused, to which she nodded. “What I said earlier?” She nodded once again excitedly. Johan took a moment to understand what she meant, but after some time he widened his eyes and understood. “Ah you mean grimoires, right? I don’t think I explained you what they are yet, did I?” She nodded while staring at him with curiosity.
“Well… How to explain… When you speak about grimoires, most people think of some kind of devilish tome that destroys the soul of the reader with their knowledge or something like that, but in exchange grant them unfathomable magic powers.” Johan explained in a joking tone, to which Pria looked at him worriedly. “Well, that’s all a bunch of bul… That’s completely wrong.” He corrected himself. “In fact, grimoires are more like manuals that define the basics of spells and enchantments from a certain type of magic. The ones that people seem to think, are either fakes or are less than ten years old and were made by some psychotic magician of kinds.” As he said that, he looked over to the bookshelves. “I think I have a printed copy of all but a couple of all the grimoires released up to this day.” He explained.
It took the girl less than five seconds to make a beeline to reach the books and start skimming through them with a curious glance, searching for said grimoire. However, with a laugh from johan, she quickly stopped and turned to him confused.
“Just reading a grimoire won’t make you be able to use magic, you know?” he said amused, and Pria immediately got a downcast appearance. “Anyway, I’ll point you to some that I find easier later, okay?”
The girl quickly nodded excited again before skipping back to the corner where she was earlier, as it was a bit closer than the shelf and had a better angle. Johan grinned awkwardly before turning back to the charms before him and finishing them with the help of his notes.
Finishing the drawing of the charms, he held them in with three fingers before chanting a couple of words in japanese and throwing them around the circle, where they would mysteriously stick to the larger sheet of paper and glow with various colors.
“To compensate for my useless magic power, I use this charms to draw energy from the earth’s dragon veins, lay-lines and whatever else it’s called.” He explained to the girl who nodded. Frank already knew about this, so he kept quiet. “And now, to the finishing touches.”
He said before pulling out an assortment of items from his inventory. From beautiful dried flowers to a small pouch with green powder, as well as the piece of metal he got earlier and a small bronze amulet in a cross-like shape.
However, just as he was about to start assigning each item to their respective sections, he stopped and put on a conflicted expression.
“…Which way is north again?” He asked Frank.
“Shouldn’t you know it already? This isn’t the first ritual you make, right?” The dark skinned man asked surprised.
“Yeah, but… I usually do them in the depot or my room… It’s a first for me to do on the living room.” He explained.
“…Haaah… Sometimes I wonder how you don’t lose your way every time you leave your house.” Frank said amazed before pointing to the north.
“Why do you think I’m always using the rooftops to travel?” Johan replied with a frown. “I use it to find landmarks and guide myself, you know! Or I use my phone’s GPS. A bit expensive, but worth the price.” He added in a low tone.
While saying that, he quickly reorganized the taoist charms, as they were extremely dependant on the cardinal directions and quickly arranged the items in their respective positions. With the metal on the north alone, the flower and powder to the east and southeast each and the bronze amulet to the west.
After looking over the set and re-checking each symbol over and over again to make sure nothing was missing, he finally added the last piece of the spell he needed.
Most magician usually avoided spells that used their own blood as a catalyst. Mostly because of the bad image that the media put on the whole blood-magic thing. However, Johan would frequently use it in his own rituals since he didn’t need to pay for it.
So after summoning a small knife and poking at his own finger until a single drop of blood appeared.
Standing up for the time, Johan frowned slightly as a sharp pain ran through his leg, thanks to the injury he occurred while fighting the two thieves from earlier. Making a mental note to cast a quick cure on his leg later, he waited for the pain to pass before extending his arm above the magic circle and letting the drop fall on top of the ink.
The moment his blood stained the paper, he started murmuring in a soft voice a variety of different languages, mixing and weaving different unknown words that had apparently little to no meaning at all. The pair of spectators simply watched in a silent awe as the magician did his trick, and the whole room suddenly went dim, even though the light was still on, with only the glow of the magic circle eerily lightning up the room.
Before them, the materials he had set in the random-looking order started to shine in the same light before decomposing themselves into thousand of little sparks of blue and red that flowed around the room before centering around the magician and flowing back into the armor.
Pria felt tempted to simply extend her arm and touch one of the sparks that came closer to her, but thanks to Johan’s warning, she quickly pulled back her arm and kept it to herself. For a couple of minutes, Johan simply stood still while chanting, but after a sudden pause, his words paused before he finally took the knife in his hand and reversed his grip on it.
Then, while holding the knife in that position, he raised his right foot and slowly moved his arm that stood above the circle towards his side and raised the other one above his head.
From there, a strange, bizarre, and somewhat funny dance started, with him making a bunch of strange poses as his words finally stopped in a single language and he followed them like a bizarre choreography of sorts.
Frank let out a couple of chuckles while Pria simply tilted her head to the side as she tried to understand what was happening.
With a last and sudden movement, Johan clapped his hands in a single loud sounds and all the sparks that still were left in the room stopped before rushing towards the armor that laid on the ground.
“And, with that, it’s done.” Johan said after a long sigh as he relaxed his body and threw the knife back into his own magic storage.
“Flashy as always, huh?” Frank said as he noticed the light of the ambience slowly coming back to normal.. “So, what’s it this time.”
“A cooling spell for when it’s hot in the summer.” Johan said with a thumbs up and a silly smile. Frank gave an awkward smile while Johan turned towards Pria and made a motion for her to come closer. “Anyway, now that I’m done, I have to deal with any lingering mana, so…” he showed his hand, dyed in a light blue glow of the lingering mana, as well as the paper itself that had an even more intense glow.
Pria immediately understood what that meant and quickly approached him, grabbing his hand excited, however, after noticing that the shirt she was forced to wear was hindering her original plan, so after a brief moment wondering what she should do, she finally took his hand and pulled it to her cheek, smiling satisfied at the feeling of the tasty energy she was allowed.
Meanwhile Johan simply smiled gently while watching her delighted expression, only to notice the smug smirk in frank’s face and understand the position he was in. For a moment he tried to remove his hand from her to avoid the awkward position, but Pria held tightly to his hand and didn’t let him pull it back.
For a moment he thought how strong and soft she actually was. Mostly on the second piece, but he thought that it would be better not to linger his thoughts too much on that. After a couple of seconds in that position, Pria finally finished absorbing all the mana still settled on his hands before moving on to the following piece of paper on the ground.
After waiting for the slightly crimson-faced Johan to move the pieces out from the circle, she let her feet melt down into a puddle that covered the entire area and put on a satisfied expression as she did her work.
“And you insist she isn’t your girlfriend.” Frank said playfully while nudging him playfully with his elbow.
“Shut it.” Johan replied dryly. “Well, on the bright side, I do get to economize a lot with the mana absorbing crystals, so I at least got that going for me.” He said before turning back to Frank.
“So… What’s next?” Frank asked curious. “I mean, you did your ritual, got to flirt with Pria and saved a few pennies.” He raised his eyebrows. “Any plans for now?” He asked, to which Johan simply blinked before shaking his head.
“Not really.” He replied with a shrug. “This was pretty much everything I had in mind for now.” Johan explained. “Maybe do something about my leg, though. It wasn’t hurting much earlier, but now that the adrenaline finally settled down, it’s starting to sting.” He explained.
“I see. Well, then I’ll take the chance to get to know a bit more your girlfriend…” Frank said jokingly, only to stop as the sound of his cell phone echoed. “…Scratch that. I have to go see my own girl.” He said after reading the message.
“Oh well. It’s a shame to see you go.” Johan said in monotone.
“Couldn’t you at least try to look like you care?” Frank complained before laughing. “Anyway, I’ll try to look a bit more into it.” He said a bit more seriously, to which Johan nodded. “That said, I’m pretty sure you can deal with the whole guild register thing by yourself.”
“I’ll look into it.” Johan replied with a nod before sighing. “Anyway, if you find anything else that might be of help, give me a call.”
With one last exchange, Johan helped Frank tidy up his things before seeing him off with Pria. After his lawyer-wannabe friend left, he heaved a long sigh before turning back inside and seeing satisfied that the girl had already eaten all the lingering mana on the room.
Before he started relaxing, though, he took out the sheet of paper in the middle of the ground and stored all the armor pieces within his ring. As much as he wanted to know whether he was successful or not, he would have to wait for the following day to test the heat resistance enchantment anyway.
Sitting on the sofa with a loud thud, Ace heaved a loud sigh before bringing up his injured foot up so that he could massage it for a moment. Pria seemingly noticed his reaction and immediately came to his side with a worried look, kneeling on the sofa besides him while looking at him worriedly.
A small awkward smile appeared in his face while feeling glad for her worry.
“Don’t worry about it too much.” He explained quickly. “I’m already used to things like this.” He said with a smile. “When you work as a hero, it’s fairly common to get hurt, and compared to getting shot, this is nothing.”
As he said that, he went on to massaging his feet for a bit more, but after putting on an expression of enlightenment, Pria suddenly stood up and dissolved herself into a puddle and dashing away to his depot, leaving behind only the robe that Johan spent so long trying to make her put it on.
Taking a moment to understand what she was doing, after it finally sunk in, Johan put on a worried expression before trying to lift himself from the couch in a hurry. However, the awkward position and the sudden pressure on the injured foot didn’t exactly help him as he stumbled back into the sofa thanks to the pain.
Looking towards the depot, he worried about Pria who was inside there. While part was indeed thanks to the price of the items found there, the bigger part was the fact of how dangerous they were. Together with the mostly unknown reactions that Pria’s constitution would have with the items there.
As he waited for the sting to subside, he sighed and stood up once again, however, the sight of a slime puddle running back towards him made him calm down a bit seeing the girl coming back safely.
Much to his surprise, she entered the robe and reformed herself from within. But after comically missing the sleeve with one of her arms and having to reform herself once again. Sighing in relief, Johan then frowned while staring at her angrily.
“Didn’t I tell you that the depot have some dangerous things?” He said worriedly, and she replied with a look that mixed worry and sadness, before extending her hand and letting something flow out through her palm as if giving him something.
He let out a brief laugh and smiled gently at her after seeing the small plastic bag of green powder in his hand..
“Geez. Thanks.” he said while taking the package, and after seeing the girl put on a large smile, he couldn’t help but smile back at her. “But that said, I won’t be using this for now.” He said while setting the bag aside. “You see, as much as I use magic, it’s not entirely known all of its effect on people like me.” He explained to the shocked Pria. “So I avoid using healing magic as much as possible whenever it comes to light injuries like these.” Seeing the girl once again put a downcast expression like an abandoned puppy, he let out a soft chuckle. “Well, all said and done, if I need to move out for a job or something, I can’t really hold back, so I’ll hold on to this.” He said.
The girl nodded weakly while still looking a bit depressed. While thinking that she was too nice of a girl, Johan decided in his mind to look into the whole registration thingy as soon as possible.
But for now he wanted to eat something.
And to cheer her up, maybe teach her a thing or two about magic. Who knows, maybe she turn out to be a better magician than someone like himself who can only use rituals.
A slime being a better magician than a magician.
He felt awkward when he thought about it that way.