Volume I : The Flood
Chapter 16 – Everyone Gets Sick[2347 words]
Maqi mumbled, “I…I…I just couldn’t wait any more. I wanted to ask you where you found the ores last time? …… Amon, we are neighbors, I’ve been watching you since you were born, how would I hurt you? ……I’m very sorry for tonight. Let’s just forget about it, alright? I’ll def—”
And he stopped. Then, Amon saw the weirdest scene he had ever seen since he was born. The ice that lay on the ground suddenly spread, wrapping and freezing Maqi’s whole body. Countless cracks appeared all over him. Maqi’s body collapsed as if he was hit by a miner’s hammer, decomposing into a pulp.
The ice dissolved, and all was left was a puddle of red mud. Maqi had disappeared for good.
Amon turned up his head and saw Crazy’Ole, as he expected. What was the magic that this great sorcerer had just performed? Freezing? Space cutting? Maqi vanished within a blink of an eye! It was the first time Amon saw a man killed in a way that was more eerie and frightening than he could’ve ever imagined. Amon panted before he could ask, “Crazy’Ole! You killed him just like that and asked nothing?”
“He had been following you for ten days, and also had sneaked into your home three times during midnight.” said Crazy’Ole emotionlessly, “He was rushing at you waving a huge hammer, what else do you think it could’ve been?”
“He’s been in my home? When I was away?” Amon was shocked.
Crazy’Ole nodded, “Yes. You’ve been calm and cool-headed these days, but not careful enough. Although you made progress tonight, and found him out. Never stop observing and evaluating the environment. Now you know how important it is! ……. Hmm, perhaps I am asking too much of you. You’re just a boy afterall. Anyway, you didn’t kill him with a strike, which means you pass the first test.”
Amon was confused, “You’re talking about me passing the test of desire’s awakening? Except, you killed him without asking, why? You should’ve at least let him finish his words!” he was still in a state of shock watching the red mud.
“Because my boy, sometimes it’s just a waste of time! What you’re going to be learning is not just magic or body arts. If that was the case, you would have nothing more than some useless power! The beasts are strong enough, would you like to be an ignorant beast?”
“Ignorant? I just wanted to know why he was here and what he wanted accomplish: capturing me or killing me. ”
Crazy’Ole pointed at the traces on the ground, “There was no need to wave the hammer like that if he just wanted to catch a boy, not to mention with that strength and speed! It was a killing shot……He didn’t even want to talk to you. Maybe he was afraid that he couldn’t do it if he were to talk to you, so he went straight for the kill without the least hesitation.”
Amon could not help to shiver, “Are you sure?”
Crazy’Ole sighed, “Maqi lived right next to you. He’s been watching you since you were a baby. But he did not hide his face tonight, and he did not care whether you could recognize him. Which can only mean that he was not expecting you to live through this night.”
Amon lowered his head, “I can’t believe Maqi would do this to me. He earned it, but I’m at fault too. Had I not brought the Aquaticore out that day, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“So you figure out that he was sent by Shog.”
“How can I not figure that out after hearing your analysis? He wasn’t even wearing a mask, so he aimed to kill me in the first place. It can only be Shog, Maqi was his servant. ”
Crazy’Ole came to him and patted his back, “You said you were at fault, but that is your business, it has nothing to with Maqi. You have done nothing wrong to him……You could’ve chosen to kill him or not, but the next time you want to forgive somebody for some purpose, you have to understand two things first.”
Amon turned up his head and watched Crazy’Ole’s eyes, “What two things?”
“First, you have to clearly understand that everybody will have to bear all possible consequences for each of their choices, whether they like it or not. For example, since Maqi decided to do this tonight, he should bear the possible consequence of being killed, whether he realized it or not.”
“Second, if you choose to forgive, you should think through it and bear all possible consequences for your choice as well. You should ask yourself if you are resolving the hatred, or bringing greater harm to yourself or to others…….As for Maqi, he was a third-level warrior. He must have noticed that you had used magic on him. Even if he could not kill you, he would denounce you. You did nothing to him, but he could’ve still wanted you dead.”
Amon lowered his head again, “You don’t need to explain to me in such detail. He didn’t even need to denounce me. You’ve said that he was a third-level warrior. Once I set him free, he could’ve killed me right away.”
Crazy’Ole smiled as if he were mocking himself, “I don’t even remember the number of people I’ve killed. It’s the first time that I had to explain all of these things to a child. Amon, you are much calmer than me when witnessing slaughter for the first time. Remember the events that took place tonight. Everyone has their first time, experience is your biggest wealth.”
Amon looked at the ground with his eyes glazed, “Maqi died for his plot, and for Shog’s excessive desire. Shog is still in the town though, what should we do?”
“Think for yourself! Think as if I were not here, what would you do then?” said Crazy’Ole.He then felt that it might be too hard for a boy, so he threw a glimpse towards the town and continued, “If you are clever, then you should do nothing. Time is precious, don’t waste it for men like him.”
Amon soon understood why Crazy’Ole had told him to “do nothing”. Lord Macrobe had gotten sick again, but this time much more severe than before. He lost a whole lot of weight and became worried all the time. He did not come to seek trouble with Amon. On the contrary, he would try his best to avoid Amon when he occasionally showed up in the town, as if he did not dare to see Amon’s face.
Maqi was an important figure in Duc as well. His disappearing had become a big issue. The topic was discussed in every house across the town. His relatives and neighbors were looking for him everywhere, but couldn’t find a clue. His wife sobbed day and night. His family went to the shrine of Mourrin filled with worries and prayed to their goddess.
It was unknown whether their goddess had heard their prayers, but the priest surely had. It was said that Lord Macrobe gave them a large sum of money as his condolence, which earned him great appreciation from the townees.
Shog was on the edge of bankruptcy after paying Amon’s tax. How would he be so kind to bring out such a large sum of money? He had been feeling guilty and scared ever since the day Maqi went missing. He did not know what had happened to Maqi. Perhaps he had lost his way in the Charcoal Forest? Or had he been killed? Could he have been captured and confessed all about him? Or had he just failed and run away?……He had thought about many possibilities. Each of them was torturing him, telling him that everyone would eventually come to know everything he had once done.
Shog had made up his mind. If Maqi had failed and confessed, he would deny everything. It was Maqi who had lost his mind after seeing Amon’s parangons and had tried to kill him. After all, there was no evidence of his involvement, Maqi’s words were not enough to nail him down. He would just become a false accuser.
However, nothing happened. Maqi had just disappeared in the thin air. Instead, Mayor Dusti had asked him if he knew something about Maqi’s disappearance. Shog of course said that he knew nothing, but he felt that Lord Dusti’s eyes looked weird that day, which made him more anxious.
Shog really wanted to know what had happened exactly, he was obsessed with it. He had sent Maqi to kill Amon, but Amon had come back like nothing had happened. Shog did not dare to ask Amon, in case the latter might find out his secret. He could not figure out how things had come to this, fear had completely engulfed him.
At last, Shog could not withstand the torture any more. He asked Lord Mayor for a leave and went to the city to see the doctor, so he could escape from Duc temporarily.
What had Amon been doing these days? He had no time dealing with Shog. Crazy’Ole had taught him a lot of things, or rather say, had poured a lot of things into his head. He had explained almost all the first-level magic to him. Amon could not practice all of them in a short time, neither did Crazy’Ole want him to. He just told Amon to keep them in mind.
Even the greatest sorcerer could not master all the magic perfectly. But a sorcerer should have a proper knowledge of all of them, so that he would know how to fight against them. On the other hand, Crazy’Ole did not know what Amon would be good at in the future. It seemed that he had no time to observe it patiently, so he just lay a foundation to Amon. No shrines in this continent would teach a new mage the way he had done so.
Amon tried all he could to remember those complicated instructions and information. He had to keep himself in the most concentrated state to keep them in his mind, which happened to be harder than mining all day. Compared with this, it was rather easier to learn the body arts. Crazy’Ole taught him about the magic and asked him to practice body arts only.
The first-level body arts was about the explosive strength, which Amon could accomplish already. Crazy’Ole asked him to apply it in all kinds of circumstances until he could burst out the proper amount of force at the moment he wanted. It was contained in the technique of Duc, but the initial purpose of training the explosive strength was to build a stronger body. Most of the skills about exploding extra force was used in the combats, they were called the martial arts.
Crazy’Ole was not adept at fighting skills, so he asked Amon to use the stick to explore himself. As a supreme sorcerer, he had not had to fight with people with sword or fists. In fact, most mages thought that it was against their dignity to fight like the barbarians.
Most of the important experience of the physical combat could only be learned through the real fights, which Crazy’Ole could not teach Amon too much about. So what Amon had been training himself every day was mostly regarding strength, accuracy, dexterity and endurance.
Amon was experiencing mental fatigue. Had he not practiced the magic a lot in the former period, he could hardly have kept the instructions in mind. Fortunately, he had been making progress physically. His body became stronger and he felt comfortable about the training. However, right after Shog had left the town, Amon fell “ill” suddenly.
Amon had no idea of illness, since he had never been ill. This sudden illness was really strange. He felt cold and hot one after the other, similar to the feeling he had had when he started trying to bathe in the cold spring. Two years ago, he had once fell and broken his leg. One year ago, he had accidentally sprained his shoulder and back. These wounds had healed long ago, but these days Amon felt the pain from them again, and it was unbearable.
He did not show any signs in the daily life so as not to scare his father, but in fact he had suffered a lot. He could hardly control the stick when he practiced the body arts. Crazy’Ole had casted curing magic on him. However, the curing magic from an eighth-level mage could only stop the pain temporarily, it was not able to root out the illness. The ache appeared again and again.
Amon did not understand what had happened to him. He was not afraid, but a bit anxious. Crazy’Ole on the contrary, appeared to be quite happy. He noticed Amon’s worry and one day spoke to Amon, smiling, “My child, you must be suffering these days, aren’t you? As a matter of fact, I have to thank you. Your recent performance has proven a theory that I have developed for years. You did not disappoint me and came to the new test so quickly.”
“What theory? And what test? I remember you said that the first test a mage would face is ‘desire’s awakening’. To achieve the top of the primary magic, the coming test is ‘faith’s confirmation’, but I don’t feel anything wrong about faith or something.”
“Not just the tests for the mages.” Crazy’Ole shook his head, “You have awakened the power of two sides, so the tests you are going to face will be from the two sides as well. I call this test ‘body purification’, it should be a test for the warriors, but has been totally neglected. No instructions on the body arts has ever mentioned it specifically. Before I tell you what it is, please hear a piece of my experience. I got this conclusion from countless casualties.”