“Lilith, you what?” For a brief moment, my request even made Mother have a look of shock in her face. Should I be proud of myself for being able to throw her off?
“Yes Mother, I would like a sword trainer. Can you get me one, please?” I ask again.
I find myself in my Mother’s office, standing in front of her desk with no one to assist me. I’m the only one who knows I’m trying to ask this of her.
“Lilith, what could you possibly want a sword trainer for?”
“I am a Gift holder, am I not? I’ll surely be shipped off to the military when I come of age, regardless of my status.”
“Lilith, you know that when that happens, you won’t be put into the role of a simple foot soldier, right? Given your status and eye condition, it’s much likelier you’ll be made an officer from the get go. Hell, with the Gift of Knowledge, it isn’t entirely unlikely you’ll be made a spy, or put into internal affairs rather than the military.”
I didn’t actually know that, but that does make sense. Still though, I want to be acting on those visions, and farming up a certain level of physical strength and martial skill will be helpful in avoiding the death I foresaw. Now I just have to come up with an excuse that still sounds like Lilith would have thought of.
“I hear you, Mother, but I still think that it’s important. If I am made an officer, how will my men respect me at all if I was a duchess’ daughter without any sort of skill? Or a spy, if I’m caught I’ll have to defend myself in some way, and my Gift doesn’t lend itself to combat. As for internal affairs… well that’s a best case scenario. I don’t want to think that that’s the only place I could possibly end up.”
Mother sinks back into her chair, clearly in thought. The silence stretches worryingly long. Did I speak too well? Did too much of Rain come up in my speech? I am an 8 year old, I can’t be sounding too smart.
“It’s been three days since that night. How has your training been going with your brother?”
“Those spells I mentioned three days ago, I have been able to replicate them, but not to the same effect. I don’t have a very large mana pool, so Brother’s been prioritizing fixing that rather than making my spells better or learning more.”
“I see. So a lack of pain, and understanding of what’s going on in your body. Within three days you’ve trained to that extent, and Annei is prioritizing your mana capacity… If I did get you a sword instructor, you’ll be keeping up with your brother’s training. You are still young, you should be playing, and these are two huge commitments. Are you sure you can handle them?”
Right… even if Mother is strict and cold, she still cares about me. Quite frankly I agree with her. I am eight, I should be enjoying my childhood rather than training in the sword and with my Gift. However, I took a vow to prolong my life as much as possible. More important than anything is living. I need to prioritize that over my own happiness.
“Mother… quite frankly, I just don’t want to die.”
The silence is deafening. Mother’s brow is furled a bit. Crap, did I mess up? Can I even back out now?
“Fine. I will get you a sword instructor. Make sure to pace yourself. Now go to your brother so you can train with your Gift.”
“Yes Mother.” Phew, the pressure was honestly crushing. I’m glad that that’s over.
I walk into the massive garden of the Amber manor. The walls of the large building surround me as I walk into a well kept field of hedges and all sorts of different colorful flowers. Near a white bench is where Brother is standing waiting for me.
“Brother! I’m sorry that I’m late!”
“Don’t worry about it, Lilith. Let’s hurry up and start for today.”
“Oh, Brother, about that… I have another request.”
“Hm? What is it?”
“We’re mainly expanding my mana capacity by having my keep using the same spells with my Gift, right?”
“Well, I was just thinking that instead of that, I could use up my mana by having you teach me regular magic instead.”
“What?” Brother clearly has no idea how to react to that.
“You see, I was thinking that since the Gift of Knowledge doesn’t exactly lend itself to combat, that I could actually learn offensive magic to supplement that!”
“Um… well, are you sure? You have a Gift, are you sure you want to learn regular magic as well?”
I just nod up and down really quickly. There’s no way I can tell him I asked Mother for a sword instructor, he’d definitely tell me I’m pushing myself too hard. Sorry about this Brother, but I really need to do this. I’ll definitely get in trouble when Mother and Brother find out about this, but as long as I keep that from happening until my sword instructor gets here I should be fine.
“Alright, alright, I’ll give you a basic synopsis OK? Then we’ll get on with using your mana to expand your mana capacity.”
“Yes! Please start!”
“Basically, all magic and combat revolves around gaining “skills.” You gain these skills by constantly practicing in the one you want to gain. If you want to cast fire spells for instance, you’ll start by waving fire around until you gain the Fire Manipulation Skill. After that, a bunch of skills having to do with manipulation of fire will unlock themselves as long as you train them enough.”
That… that sounds a lot like a video game. Rain didn’t play many of those while she was alive, but I still get the fact that that seems way too much like a game mechanic to be natural. I should keep listening to Brother though. It would be extremely weird if I complained about it. Suspicious, even.
“The main places you can start with magic are manipulation of wind, fire, water, and earth. There are many many more minor skills you can gain without starting there, many of which remain undiscovered, but this will be the easiest. Since you’re just starting, you don’t need to lock yourself into a path just yet, but I’d like you to pick just one of those four so you can get a basic feel for it.”
The four elements too? I definitely have to keep this in mind for later, but now I have to pick a starting path. Even that feels way too much like a video game for my liking, but I need to stop thinking of that. Just pick one.
So in order to start using magic, I need one of those basic manipulation skills. He said to gain the Fire Manipulation skill I needed to wave fire around for a while. That seems a bit too dangerous for Rain’s and Lilith’s likings, so that leaves three. Which seems the easiest to start out with then?
Wind is everywhere, but it might be a bit difficult to actually visualize anything… As for water, I can’t always guarantee that I’ll have access to it. There’s water in people’s bodies, but I would imagine I’d need a specific skill for that. I’m just beginning, so I’d rather pick something that can be decent just starting out.
“I want to start with earth.” I say.
“Alright, earth then? Let’s see… I have an idea. Follow me Lilith.”
I follow Brother through the garden, but he eventually walks inside the manor. We walk through the halls for a bit, and every time he passes a corner, he looks every direction, like he’s looking for something. We walk in circles for a bit, until we run into Sister leaning on one of the manor’s walls.
“Hey! Hana! I’ve been looking for you!” Brother calls out to her. What? Why were we looking for her?
“Huh? Annei? I thought you were angry with me?”
“I still am. But this is for Lilith.”
I’m worryingly lost in this conversation. I don’t like it one bit. Why are we speaking to Sister? What reason does Brother have to be angry at Sister?
“Alright, what is it you want? I’ll be sure to manage it.”
“Lilith would like to learn the Earth Manipulation skill. You’re going to be helping with that.”
“Huh? Lilith? Earth Manipulation? But she already has a Gift, doesn’t she?”
“She believes that since her Gift isn’t combat focused, she should supplement that with normal magic. Now are you going to help or not?”
“No, no, I’ll help, I was just a bit confused at all.”
“Now Lilith,” Brother kneels down so that we’re at eye level. “You haven’t been outside the mansion since you’ve been poisoned. We won’t be heading far, but we will be leaving. Are you going to be OK with that?”
I nod. He’s so worried about me. Don’t worry Brother, I swear I’ll get so strong you won’t have to worry about me one bit. I don’t want to cause you any unnecessary stress.
“Alright, we’ll leave now. Oh, and Lilith, change your clothes. Something that you don’t mind getting dirty and won’t tear easily.”
Oh right, yeah I am learning Earth Manipulation. Given how Brother described it, it’s sure to get very messy. There’s just one problem with that though.
“Um… Brother? I don’t believe I have any clothes like that…”
“Don’t worry about it sis. I’ll just give you something of mine from when I was your size.”
We stop just outside of the Amber family manor inside one of our carts. Sister was the driver, I didn’t know she could drive. Sister, Brother, and I exit the cart onto the open field.
“So Brother, you haven’t explained yet. Just what am I going to be doing?”
“Ah, right. Hana, you can take them out now.”
Hana walks around to the back of the cart, and takes out… a few buckets, a shovel, and a hoe. Oh no…
“We’re just trying to gain the Earth Manipulation skill, but if you’re serious about pursuing magic, you’re going to have to learn much more than that. What we’re going to be starting with is basically just digging a hole and making a pile of dirt a while away, filling the hole with the pile, and then repeating until you get the skill.
This might take a while, and you are small, so please don’t worry about getting exhausted. We’ll stop if it’s too much for you. If you don’t want to pursue earth magic, that’s also fine. There’s no shame in being an all rounder instead of focusing on one thing. As for when you get the skill… I should be able to tell that with my Gift, since I have the Gift of Magic.”
“Alright sis!” Sister yells at me while handing me a shovel longer than I am tall. “Pick a spot to start digging, and put the dirt in one of these buckets. After that’s done you’ll do a little walk with it before emptying it out. Got that?”
“Y- yes, I think I do.” I say as I insert the shovel into the dirt.
I’m a duchess’ daughter and I’m doing manual labor? How ridiculous. Still though, this should be very humbling, and this is required to do magic. This is what everyone has to do to learn earth magic, regardless of race, gender, or social class so I have no right to be complaining.
I quickly realize just how little Lilith’s trained physically. The dirt is so heavy, and difficult to pull out of the ground. I guess that Rain also never exercised, but her body actually went through puberty, so it would be much easier with her body regardless. Still though, I do what Brother told me to and shovel the dirt into the bucket.
After a while, I grow pretty tired, but I do manage to fill the bucket. After that I carry it for as far as Sister tells me to. I probably only walk a dozen or so yards before Sister allows me to dump it, but it feels like I’m walking forever.
The sun beats down on my skin as I repeatedly dig another hole, carry the dirt a dozen yards, dig up a pile I made, fill up a hole I made, then repeat the process all over again. Even though it’s exhausting, I get quite into it.
Honestly, my whole world becomes repeating this process over and over again. Everything else might as well not exist. It’s quite relaxing, and honestly quite fun.
“Lilith! Lilith!” I apparently became so distracted in fact that I barely notice Brother calling out to me.
As I’m snapped back to reality, I realize that Sister actually set up an entire picnic blanket complete with three bowls of salad.
“Um! Yes, Brother?!”
“Lilith, you got the skill.”
“Yes, I’m quite surprised too. I thought that it would take longer. That was about as long as it took me when I was small?”
“Huh? Brother also knows normal magic?”
“Of course I do. It was back before I got my Gift. You got yours at a way younger age than I did, after all.”
“Oh… so, can I try it out for a bit then?”
“Yes, it should be rather intuitive. Don’t take too long though, you must be hungry.”
I hold my hand out towards the open field I’ve been single handedly tearing up all morning. I imagine moving all of the dirt to the left at once, and… a bit of dirt starts moving. Only about a bucket’s worth, and it does so very slowly. It can certainly unearth grass, but anything else? Not so much.
“Ahhhh! All of that for this?!”
“It’s just basic Earth Manipulation. Don’t worry, you’ll gain much more useful skills soon. So sit down and eat.” Brother calls out to me.
“A- alright…” At least he doesn’t seem to be upset about that outburst.
I walk up to the picnic blanket and sit down by the only unclaimed bowl. All of my muscles are extremely tired, but it actually feels nice somehow. Is this why people like exercising? This feels amazing, I could get used to this.
I grab a fork, and puncture it into my salad. I take one bite, and it’s honestly the most delicious thing I’ve had in a while. I quickly chew and swallow.
“Brother, which of our chefs made this? It tastes amazing, I need to thank them for this.”
Sister looks a bit surprised, but Brother looks rather tired. He even sighs?
“The chef? She’s sitting right next to you.” Brother says.
“Huh?! Sister made this?! She’s good at cooking?! I had just assumed she was completely useless!”
Sister bursts out laughing at my insult. She then starts patting me on the head.
“I had heard you suddenly got nice after the other night, but apparently not. Don’t change, sis.”