51 Days Until Magic And the Uncertain End (part 4)
The connection had gone mostly silent, other than the inconsistent jeers from Evester whenever he reconnected. They were consistently shut down my Heia who was flustered and frustrated. She and Evester kept switching in and out, giving out orders to the others. In those moments, Zedyar found silence to focus on himself.
Numbers and theories spun in his head. He knew that he could do the spells, felt it in his gut, but without the proper skill he’d never be able to complete the necessary adjustments with his magic to make it work.
May breathed heavily next to him. The night was clear, where they stood. There were stragglers around him, but most of the attacks had moved to the other side of the Tower. Zeydar could, in theory, teleport over there. However, he didn’t have the magic. He needed more, but his reserves were nearly depleted, even with his efficient attacks. He stared at his Staff, trying to figure out how to use it. What was he missing? How did it work differently?
Kony tapped Zeydar, who switched to their channel. Kony then asked, once certain Zeydar could hear. “You okay?”
“Really? You seem distracted,” May whispered.
For the last thirty minutes, Zedyar did have to admit that he had been off. He could feel the magic. He knew how to use it, however he felt limited. The magic was asking to be drawn in, and he was trying, and yet no matter how much he tried it did not work. His skin burned. He was stunted in a way that he had never felt before. They were five hours into the night and finally had a break, albeit only because the Aralax had fled from him. He needed to get to the other side of the Tower to assist, but he didn’t have the magic to do that, let alone fight on his own.
“What’s going on?” Kony asked.
“I’m…” Zeydar didn’t know how to explain it. He had been trying to fix the way he interacted with the Staff. However each time he used a spell, he resorted to the original way he had used it. All his progress was negated with each consistent spell. “When you use a Staff, what does it feel like?”
“What do you mean?” Kony asked.
“I think I’ve been using a Staff the wrong way this whole time,” Zeydar answered.
“Are you serious?” May stood up gathering herself. “How were you using it?”
There was a moment that Zeydar almost felt that he’d have to defend himself. However she looked at him with eyes of real concern. For a moment, he contemplated lying. There was no point, and if he wanted answers, he could only ask. Shoving his pride aside, Zeydar turned to her and Kony.
“Saying the spell, using it to direct the spell.”
“What about shaping the spell? The gathering of the energy?” May asked.
“I always did it within my body.” Zeydar sighed. “I never thought the books on how to use a Staff applied to me, because my magic was different.”
“You don’t need a Staff to use magic,” Kony announced to the world. “Why do you care?”
“Because I don’t have my full reserves of power. So…”
May grabbed Zeydar’s hands around his Staff, and then closed her eyes, using his Staff as a medium for her magic. The color of his staff started to change colors as she did so. “Feel the way I do this.”
She pulled at the magic of the world pulling it into her body as she spoke a spell, before releasing the magic the fire spell outwards. All the excess magic she gathered was expanded along with a portion of the magic that she held naturally as her internal reserves. When she cast the spell, the Staff glowed.
“It glows when you pull magic back in to refill the magic you used.” Zeydar whispered.
“Make sense?” May asked dropping her hands.
He spun his Staff in his hand, thinking of what it had felt like and then in a moment he was back in Valaria. He was in the car with Evester. He was everywhere in the world where he had used other’s as mediums, ineffective. He probed at the Staff with his eyes closed, feeling the way that the structure functioned. He thought of the history of the Staff and its development followed by all of the designs and blueprints he’d memorized. He’d always known the how, so he forgot about the why. Why were they made the way they were? Why were they built? Why were they changed? As a historian, how had he forgotten the most fundamental point? It was what he always told his students: know the why to understand the how.
He tested it, and thought of it. May had gathered the energy through the Staff, pulling it into herself. She had then shaped the spell with the assistance of the Staff as a circuit, before releasing the energy outwards, directed by the Staff. She had gathered a certain amount of magic that was necessary for the spell, and ended up expending the additional magic that he held in her reserves, because the Staff and her body could not make the output and input match. She lost energy, because she was using a more powerful spell than she was naturally capable of at her balanced equilibrium. If she used something weaker, she would not gather back that energy, except with rest.
He recounted his lessons. Mages were not supposed to use their full reserves, ever. It could result in death, not because of the expended magic but because it left one defenseless. A great Mage could cast a spell at the power of their intake, consistently. However those spells were the most they were capable of. If they wanted to do more, they’d have to dip in to their reserves. Reaching the intake-output equilibrium, understanding it, and being able to constantly balance at it, was something that Zeydar and all Mages were taught.
Unlike May and other Mages, however, Zeydar could pull back magic into himself without a Staff at will. His place of balance was different. The magic of the world seeped into him at all times, and wanted to be used. He thought of his most powerful spells and how they had felt. He thought of the most taxing things he had done. Most were because he had been detoxing, and the magic of the world assaulted him. However, he had never used magic correctly. He had been using his innate reserves at all times, without gathering magic with his Staff. He’d never been at a real equilibrium: he’d been managing to keep himself from sinking. What could he do, if he gathered the magic of the world and used it the same way that other mages did?
Replicating it in his mind, Zeydar opened his eyes and then pointed his Staff towards the ground. He stared at the oil slick center and then thought of the tracing spell. He directed the magic that was seeping into him naturally to be filtered through the Staff and into him. Suddenly his body filled with a warm glow, deep as an abyss, pulling at him and surrounding him. He pulled and pulled, like he was parched and only tasted water for the first time in his life. It gathered in him, in his staff. It continued to grow, continued to reach until it reached the exact amount of magic needed for the spell. His Staff glowed in the past, but this time when it did, it was different.
It was the color of stars, silver and bright. It was the color of darkness: oil, inky, shadows. It was the Aurora Borealis, shimmering in blues and greens and purples, dancing about in the night sky. It was all at once, shaping and growing in intensity as he pulled in more. It was a thousand far off galaxies of pinks and oranges and yellows. It was the universe in one flash of a moment, blinding.
The magic swelled inside of him and then returned outwards. The tracing spell expanded in his mind — the whole world lit in the bodies of millions. He knew every movement and location of the enemies, as well as their exact locations. Not a bit of his own magic was used, as the spell itself was weaker than he’d previously assumed.
He felt hungry.
What would happen if he used the Staff to draw the magic into his body, as a filter? Is that not what he did with Kony? If a person could work, then the Staff had to work, as it was built for the same pivotal purpose. He pulled the magic in without thinking of a spell in specific, drawing it in to fill his reserves. His staff began to glow bright: brighter than before, almost blinding. All at once the magic of the world poured into him, feeding him. More. He pulled and pulled, drawing in all that he could, the world rippling around him as he did so. There was no end to his hunger and thirst for it, no way to ever sedate the feeling. Not at his current skill.
As he drew in the power, he knew that he would not be able to force it often. There was a limit to the amount of times he could use the Staff to pull in magic to replenish his reserves. How many times, Zeydar was not sure, and he knew he’d need to investigate and run equations to confirm at a later time. He did not know the draw backs, but he had a feeling that based on the lethargy of his body that it took a natural toll against his mental and physical energy levels. He could be at peak magical performance, but if he could not move or think, then it did not matter. He was also not completely certain how to do it. The intake speed was slow, and he knew it should be faster.
It was perhaps not the Staff, but the fact that Zeydar was inexperienced. He knew how much magic was contained within his body, usually; not how to regather that in a forced manner. Unpracticed, Zeydar was unsure what his limit was for a true balance. He needed more practice, before he’d be able to replenish his forces in a snap, as he predicted that he’d be able to do. The only practice he was ever going to get, pushing himself to his limits, was this night and the next battles that came. He needed to use them, to train.
Zeydar contemplated movement, and teleportation as well as the usual amount of magic that it required. If he were pulling with his Staff the amount of magic necessary for the spell and then using it, how much would that deplete him? Could he go further? How far? How long? A thousand numbers, theories, and conjectures resonated in his mind as he looked back to Kony and May who were gaping at him.
“Alright. I’ll be back.”
He flipped over to the other channel.
“You figure it out?” Evester asked huffing from the other side. He must have seen the cameras.
“I’m going to be moving a lot, and I’m unsure what its going to do to the connection. I’m going dark.” Zeydar announced before he flipped to the last channel that he shared with Maverin.
“Is this what you expected?” He asked.
“What did you just do?” Maverin asked.
“I think I might be able to infiltrate the hive mind, and speak with them.” Zeydar said. “I’m going to test it.”
“Zeydar!” Maverin spoke quick. “Explain. What is happening? Why are you–“
“Going dark.” Zeydar then turned off the channels, keeping the headphones on for noise cancelation and nothing else. He kept his camera on, but he figured it would help if they could see what he was doing. He just did not want to hear them.
Zeydar teleported, finding that it used far less magic than he had assumed. Dropping into the middle of an assault. Zeydar did not hesitate to cast out his magic in full, blasting apart the forces that were assaulting the Tower. Stepping forward he used his Staff to pull in more magic. He continued to attack, finding that all his calculations for his personal magical capabilities were wrong. The amount of energy and magic certain spells used, were wrong. It was far less than he assumed, when he didn’t have to use his reserves. He could strike harder, and faster.
He didn’t need to use spells to use the magic, however saying the spell gave him time to pull in more and more magic. The more that he pulled in, the stronger the effects. Limiting what he output, Zedyar consistently filled himself with magic while fighting at a high level. With each spell pulling in magic got easier. With each breath without a spell, he gathered more and more magic into his body, sucking it in to fill the emptiness within him.
His heart rate spiked, and he focused, on his Staff and the moment at hand. This was the feeling that Evester sat in, the fear and excitement. He was living in it again. Zeydar smiled and for the first time in years, magic was exciting. It was as if he were a kid again learning what he could do and trying to see how far he could push it. Each moment was a beautiful new discovery.
Breath in, Zeydar was going to test all his limits. How fast could he cast? What was his true equilibrium point? How strong could he get? What was the strongest spell he’d achieve? He knew what to do, and his mind cleared. All that there was, was magic and the requirements surrounding a great spell. He began casting.