“No… I don’t really see anything,” I heard Lilia murmur. I had expected as much, but I caught looks of panic on the adults’ faces. Ignoring them, I turned to my sister and asked her the same thing. I was confident she would be able to see the light, but wasn’t sure she would recognize what to actually look for.
But she replied, “Brother, I think I see a small pretty light!”
The next step involved something that only I was capable of doing. I had to will the mana of all four elemental attributes into their bodies at once. By doing this, they would be able to more clearly see the specks of mana scattered throughout their bodies. Because the mana in their bodies was in its undeveloped form, not yet in a mana core, all four elements needed to be delivered at the same intensity to trigger a response from the dormant mana inside them.
“I’m going to start now. You may feel a little feverish, but I want you to endure it and just focus on the specks of light.” As I spoke, I placed a hand on each girl’s back and willed my quadra-elemental mana into them.
Lilia and Ellie both let out little yelps of surprise.
“I think I see the lights!” exclaimed Lilia. “They’re so pretty.”
“Wow! So many!” echoed my little sister.
“Now, this part is important. I’m going to help you, but your job is to try and connect all of the little lights, all right? Do you understand, Ellie? Pretend that all the little lights are friends and they need to be together. Can you do that for me, Ellie?” This was the trickiest and lengthiest part, and I had to make sure they understood what to do.
“I think I get it,” Lilia said, and Ellie added, “The lights are friends? Okay!”
I remained in my position for over an hour to trigger the dormant mana in their bodies, at least to the point that the specks would be visible enough for them to manipulate and gather.
Then, taking a deep breath, I removed my hands from their backs, instructing them to continue gathering the little lights until the lights disappeared.
“How is it? Do you think Lilia will be able to become a mage?” Both Helstea parents were a mess. They were clearly anxious, and Vincent was nervously chewing on a fingernail. I looked at my mother; even she had a hint of uneasiness in her eyes.
I responded with a wide smile. “Don’t worry. They should both awaken as mages within a few years. My plan is to do this with them every day for the few months that I’ll be home. By then, they should be capable of training on their own to form a mana c—”
Tabitha didn’t even let me finish; she swept me up into a big hug. “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! My baby will be able to learn magic! Oh, my goodness—I was so worried what her future would be, since neither of us are mages. Oh! Thank you so much, Arthur.”
Tears were streaming down Vincent’s face, and he kept his gaze on his daughter as she meditated. My mother patted my head silently, giving me a proud smile.
It wasn’t as big a deal for Ellie to become a mage, since our whole family could use magic. The chances of her never awakening would have been slim to none even if I hadn’t done anything; I was just speeding up the process. My thinking was, the faster she learned magic, the faster she’d be able to protect herself.
The two girls lasted a few hours before the mana I had exerted dispersed from their bodies. Surprisingly, Lilia lasted longer than Ellie. She had more willpower than my four-year-old sister.
My father came home from the Guild Hall shortly thereafter and was ecstatic that the Helstea family was going to have its first mage.
Picking up Eleanor and rubbing his beard on her cheek, my father cooed, “My little baby is going to be strong like her older brother! But promise me you won’t be stronger than Father, okay? Or he’ll be very sad.”
My mother laughed at this and my sister just giggled, pushing Father’s face away. “Papa! Your beard tickles. Stop!”
We had a wonderful dinner party that night. Vincent and Tabitha went all out on the delicacies, leaving my mouth watering. Sylv drooled right next to me. The night ended with everyone merry, Vincent going around offering drinks to even the maids and butlers.
The following days consisted of me condensing my mana core and my elemental skills, along with my dragon-will powers. This was a mind-numbingly slow process, and I felt myself stagnating because of the lack of stimulation.
I spent a few days during the week sparring with Father, but I could tell he was afraid of hurting me, always holding back even when it was unnecessary.
Aside from my training, I spent a couple of hours every day watching over my sister and Lilia while they continued on their journey to form their cores. It was a strenuous process, and I could see that my sister was a bit more impatient with the training, so I did my best to help her through it by making games out of it.
I also tried talking to my mother about her abilities as an emitter. I asked how she had learned it and trained in it when there were so few emitters, but she only smiled at me mysteriously, saying a woman needed to have a few secrets of her own.
I made a note to ask her again when she was feeling less secretive.
Two weeks before my birthday and the start of my career as an adventurer, I was startled one afternoon by loud, obnoxious knocks on the front door. When I opened the door and saw the all-too-familiar faces on the step, I couldn’t hold back my smile.