A Returner’s Magic Should Be Special - Chapter 187: Enlightenment (3)
The hub of magic engineering, city-state Altea.
Desir could easily move between Dresden, the capital city of the Hebrion Empire and Altea. He was able to use the teleportation gates freely thanks to the golden plaque bestowed by the emperor.
Desir examined the lab Zod had secretly built.
The lab had changed greatly in the span of just a few days. The number of devices restraining the homunculus had doubled and panels detailing various readings from the homunculus had been installed.
Desir sighed as his eyes drifted across the lab.
“Progress on the research hasn’t been great.”
Zod stopped operating equipment near the homunculus, dropping it and sighing.
“Yeah. No progress at all.”
He continued, pointing at the screen in front of him.
“This is just the top-level observations of the homunculus’s body.”
Desir took a closer look at the screen.
It was convoluted even at first glance. Even Desir, equipped with knowledge from the future, found most of it difficult to understand.
“… I see why there has been no progress.”
As Zod fiddled with the screen, the information changed from a generalized overview to individual detailed elements about the homunculus.
“The more I research, the less I find myself understanding it. There is far more here to understand than I thought. This is well beyond the current technological capabilities of the Magic Tower.”
He smiled in a self-deprecating fashion.
Desir felt anger creeping into Zod’s voice.
It was a natural reaction. Zod Exarion was the most powerful magician in this day and age as well as the best magic engineer. His pride was wounded significantly, admitting that there was something beyond his ability to understand.
“At this rate, we’ll never make any substantial progress. As much as I hate it, the best choice of action would be to build a team to work on this..”
“I understand your frustration, but this project requires the utmost secrecy. We can’t afford to allow their evil hands to interfere.”
By their evil hands, Desir meant the mysterious power leading the Outsiders, most likely Skull Mask and Crow Mask. Zod understood what he meant, and smiled faintly.
“I’ll hire reliable helpers. Don’t worry about that.”
“There was one success though.”
He sounded a little excited, but still too calm for it to be anything major.
On the screen, circles near the heart area of the homunculus were displayed. They were the mana circles of the homunculus.
“I can’t believe my theory was right. It really has artificially implanted mana circles.”
Each magician carried a unique set of mana circles. This was a truth that never changed.
“I had prepared myself for this after hearing your theory, but I still cannot believe it.”
Desir had seen evidence of the Alchemist extracting mana circles from humans and implanting them into the homunculus’s body. That was why Desir was confident that the homunculus had mana circles taken from various magicians.
These implants served as an important key to the homunculus’s power.
“Have you figured out how the Alchemist implanted them?”
“Yes. Though trying to understand how the homunculus manipulates causality seems to be impossible, I have however, figured out how the mana circles were implanted.”
Desir sincerely admired him. Getting these kinds of results after only a few days was something only Zod Exarion could achieve.
Desir felt his heart fill with anticipation.
“… Finally, I can reach the Fourth-Circle.”
Desir had long hit a wall. An impassable barricade that stood between him and the Fourth-Circle.
‘I never thought I could overcome my poor mana compatibility.’
It was the primary measure for the potential and talent of a magician. Those with superb mana compatibility could achieve higher circles than those who were cursed, like Desir.
All other aspects of a magician, whether it be calculation speed or situational judgment, could be improved with training and experience. However, it was impossible for one to surpass the limitation of their mana compatibility. The size of a magician’s most valuable resource, their mana pool, essentially determined how gifted they were as a magician.
As a result, the Desir who had long given up on reaching the Fourth-Circle, was now presented with this heaven-defying opportunity. He couldn’t help feeling utterly delighted.
“But I can’t implant a mana circle into your body carelessly.”
With Zod’s warning, his heart emptied in an instant. Desir was covered by ice-cold despair.
“Will extracting a mana circle from the homunculus hamper your other research?”
“No. The mana circles only allow it to mobilize its power. It has many other circles too. If I extract one of them, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem to further research.”
“Then what is the issue?”
Desir didn’t understand why Zod was hesitating.
“Implanting the circle isn’t the hard part. It’s what happens after, that becomes the issue.”
Zod leaned back in his chair.
“The mana circle implanted will fundamentally be someone else’s.”
Desir realized what he was trying to say.
“Of course. The mana circles will have a different resonant frequency.”
Every set of mana circles has their own unique harmony, built from the mana circles within the body.
When Desir had taken mana out of the mana crystals in both his Clothes Line, as well as the Aurora System, he had used them as batteries, allowing him to make use of more mana than he was theoretically capable of harnessing. All of this mana, since it wasn’t directly produced by Desir, had to have the same unique frequency as Desir’s circles if he wanted to use it.
The only way he was able to use the mana crystals was by harmonizing them to the same frequency as his own mana flow when he invoked whatever spell he needed.
“Unlike with a mana crystal, it will be incredibly difficult for you to synchronise your existing mana circles with an alien mana circle.”
A magician’s mana circles are incredibly important to their ability to spell cast. Mana circles are created by a magician’s body for the purpose of gathering and storing mana. As a magician slowly depletes their internal mana supply, it is their mana circles that draw in mana from the area around them in order to restore that supply.
As fantastic of a system it is, it posed a huge problem for someone who wanted to artificially boost their mana supply. Each individual mana circle within a magician’s set draws in mana at a different frequency. Luckily, mana circles generated by the body naturally stabilize with each other. It’s impossible for them to not be in harmony.
The task of ensuring that mana circles stay in harmony is truly meticulous. A mana circle’s resonant frequency will naturally react to changes in the mana around them as well as what is absorbed. When all mana circles are from the same source, a magician’s mana circles run like a perfectly oiled machine, whether there were few like Desir’s or many like Zod’s. If a magician wanted to introduce a foreign mana circle, they would have to continually adjust the mana circle’s frequency in order to ensure it was in harmony with the rest. As such a procedure had not been successfully completed before, it was impossible to tell whether the magic circles would eventually remain synchronized without conscious effort from the magician, or whether this would be a life-long struggle for them to maintain.
“Theoretically, controlling a mana circle wouldn’t be impossible.”
“Yes. I think you can do it, given enough time.”
A look of puzzlement crept onto Desir’s face. Why was Zod making such a big deal out of this, if it was something he ultimately believed Desir could manage?
“The mana circle will explode if you fail.”
The answer he desired came from an unexpected source.
The homunculus opened its eyes, its face consumed in utter maldness. As it quivered in rage, it managed to choke out a few words.
“Thanks for reading on patreon.com/maldfrogsclub ! Join us in talking about RMSBS at discord.gg/wxSdrsn”
As if it were all a dream, some kind of plug for the group chronicling his life, Desir snapped back to reality…
The homunculus’s eyes fluttered open, glaring at Desir and Zod. To call the homunculus alive was only a partial truth. Chunks of its flesh and organs were interconnected with tubes for blood flow and wires for nerve stimuli. The beeping and pumping of machines was the closest thing it had to signs of life. The sight was gruesome, inhumane; were it actually human, Desir and Zod would likely be charged with war crimes.
“You’re not unconscious?”
“I stayed still because there was no need for me to talk, but I heard something interesting. You’re planning to implant one of my circles?”
The chains clattered.
“If you implant a mana circle that exceeds your body’s natural production, your mana compatibility will be forcibly increased to accommodate it. It’d make you very happy, if that was the only side effect.”
The homunculus giggled.
“But it’s not going to end that simply. When your mana compatibility is forcibly increased due to the implanted mana circle, it won’t be long until it disintegrates and floods your body with mana..”
“But you succeeded.”
Even though Desir spoke confidently, he wasn’t entirely sure.
“Ah, yes. I did succeed. After using my ability ninety-eight times, to be exact.”
When it mentioned its ability, it was probably referring to its ability to control the principle of causality.
And by ninety-eight times, it must have meant that it was on the verge of death ninety-eight times.
“It’s right. The risk of implanting a mana circle is too big. The homunculus only succeeded due to its ridiculous abilities.”
It was an incredibly slim chance.
At stake was his very life. If he failed… he would die.
“You’ll live out the rest of your life as you currently are.”
The homunculus snarled out, but Zod didn’t move to dispute what it said.
There is nothing more precious than life. Risking his life on such a remote possibility was foolish to the extreme. Giving up on it would be the choice ten out of ten magicians would choose.
However, Desir chose differently.
“It’ll be possible if it’s me. My ability to control mana is far better than the homunculus.”
“I’m well aware of your skills, but I’m not going to change my view that the risk is too great.”
To be able to control the mana before the explosion destroyed the body, you would have to finish everything in an extremely short amount of time. Both the analysis, calculations, and the manipulation of mana.
This was on an entirely different dimension to interfering and inverting someone else’s spell.
Zod’s concern was natural.
Even then, Desir could not back down.
He had found a method to reach the Fourth-Circle at last. It was a realm he thought would remain beyond his reach in this life as well.
“I cannot give up this hard-earned chance.”
Zod inhaled deeply. He adjusted his posture as if preparing himself for a long conversation.
“You’re strong enough already, Desir.”
Zod looked genuinely worried about him.
“Your combat strength is comparable to a Sixth-Circle’s. How many people do you think can face off against you in a magic duel?”
Desir shook his head.
“But I’m already facing walls. I felt my limits when I fought Feather Mask. I cannot stop here.”
Zod’s voice was more serious than ever.
“All humans have limitations. That’s why we form parties. You have your party members, the Hebrion Empire, the Western Kingdom Union, the barbarians from Harrowind, the Saintess of the Artemis Church, and the Master of the Magic Tower, me. You’ll have full material and emotional support from everyone.”
This could be considered a list of Desir’s most important achievements.
All the groups in power across the continent had started to unite as a result of his effort.
Desir knew the importance of this better than anybody.
‘It’s still not enough to stop the Shadow Labyrinth.’
“If you’re worried about the remaining Outsiders, don’t worry about them.”
Nothing he said hit home with Desir.
“With this current climate, we can easily deal with any disaster. Even a Level One Shadow World would mean nothing before us.”
‘You’d think that is the case. However, you know nothing about the Shadow Labyrinth.’
“… It’s not that. I must become stronger for other reasons.”
Desir hesitated, choosing not to reveal his true motive.
“Let’s find a different method.”
“A different method? I can’t afford to be carefree and wait for years… !”
It was at this moment that he felt something deep inside him tumbling down. His thoughts were interrupted.
It sounded like something had fallen.
It was Zod’s voice.
At some point or another, Zod was lying on the ground looking up at Desir.
Desir’s mind snapped back into clarity. Zod’s chair had fallen down. He belatedly realized that he was the cause of this, that he had pushed the chair.
Desir could not believe his behavior.
‘Why am I so angry?’
Zod was simply worried about him. He was trying to help Desir out.
“I’m sorry. I… I don’t know what came over me.”
“I know, it’s fine.”
Zod dusted himself off and assisted Desir in righting the chair.
“It’s not something we can decide right now in a hurry. Let’s talk again in a week. I hope you think it over.”
Zod beat around the bush but Desir knew what he meant. He had deferred the decision to a later date.
Des1r couldn’t reject this offer.