Volume III : The Divine Emissaries
Chapter 78 – Devotion Decides[1822 words]
The book-storing rooms of the highest level were protected by magic formations. Borrowing materials from these rooms required the permission of a high priest. Even the cleaning work had to be done by the priests. The watchmen were divided into a number of hierarchical levels as well. Amon, as someone directly appointed by the Adoratrice, held the highest rank among the watchmen and thus was qualified to guard every room in the Archive.
Maria had said that she would give Amon a chance. If he could ascend to the seventh-level, she would grant him access to the records about Duc. However, Amon already had access to all the records now. Nobody knew that he was able to read hieroglyphs.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t read the records openly. A watchman reading secret documents in public would be a sign of blatant disregard for the authorities and the rules. Besides, some of the most valuable documents were locked in specially-made coffers that could only be opened in the presence of a senior priest. Amon would only take the chance to read the files while patrolling alone and pretending to arrange them. The higher level the rooms were, the more chances he had, because fewer people would come to borrow from them.
He was most interested in two particular types of documents. One was the old legends involving the gods. Public information about the gods was heavily censored by the authorities. Common people only knew of the edited versions. The original legends about the gods, those rare and ancient documents, were secretly stored in the Archive. The other type was the research notes left by powerful warriors and mages throughout the ages. This wealth of knowledge guaranteed the power of the Isis Shrine.
The more Amon read, the more deeply he understood something. The knowledge taught to him by Crazy’Ole had been truly precious.
Bair must have visited the Archive countless times throughout his life. He studied most of the documents and gained a tremendous amount of information, which he then transmitted to Crazy’Ole. The latter had used this to enrich his spectacular depth of knowledge built up over his century-long quest.
However, Amon still found the documents nourishing. Crazy’Ole had only left him the knowledge broadly relating to magic. There were many other interesting subjects which Crazy’Ole hadn’t included in the messages. Amon was particularly eager to read the records about the town of Duc, but he hadn’t come across any of them yet…
The Archive was truly immense in size. Even if Amon could read everything in a book-storing room in just a single day, he would still have to spend months to go through all the rooms. In reality, he could only read several pages per day – and only when there was no one else nearby.
This was the most leisurely period of time Amon had ever experienced. He would occasionally patrol with other watchmen and have a casual chat. Every so often, he would help bring out copies for priests who came to borrow confidential documents. The watchmen had their own residences in the shrine. Amon also had his own house – not a very big one, but convenient enough. He received a monthly wage of five gold parans, which was more than sufficient even for a large noble family’s monthly expenditures.
If Amon wanted, he could take a wife and buy a house in the city. He could form a family and have children, like the other watchmen. Although he was a commoner, since he was working in the Isis Shrine, many noble families would love to marry their daughters to him.
He was a young, handsome and sturdy warrior of the fifth level, paid five parans a month. There was no reason for any young woman to reject a fiancé like him. Whenever he went out to eat or shop in the city, the shopkeepers and restaurant owners would try to introduce him to families with marriageable young ladies.
Amon always politely declined these invitations. His thoughts were not on marriage and family life. Although he enjoyed the peace and tranquility in Memfis, Amon continuously reminded himself that he was a sorcerer, and he had sworn to solve the secret of the gods and guide his clansmen back to their homeland. Everything he was doing now was to help him get ready for these two difficult missions.
Amon spent most of his time in the Archive, quickly becoming the most devoted watchman. But he also made time to travel around the city of Memfis. It was actually Aesop who served as his guide once again. Amon had kept his word and paid a visit to Sihathor’s house. The latter was surprised by his current identity, and thus his enthusiasm towards this young warrior naturally grew.
Sihathor even thought of marrying his daughter to Amon. He introduced Amon to his friends as proof of his good judgement in making new friends, telling them that he had known at first sight that this young man would have a great future. But Amon still preferred to go out with Aesop. While exploring the alleys and markets together, the witty storyteller would satisfy him with various tales and anecdotes which were more interesting than those recorded in the ancient documents in the Archive.
Most of Amon’s efforts, however, were still placed on practicing the power of both sides. He meditated each and every night.
He didn’t dare to practice magic skills in the Shrine, but meditation wouldn’t arouse any suspicion. As for the practice of body arts, nobody would have a problem with that.
His recovered from his wounds quite soon after arriving in Memfis, but he found that his bloodline power was only being restored very slowly. He felt that his body was entering a strange phase of growth, starting from nothing. When he believed that he had finally fully regained his power, the power in his body actually didn’t stop growing…
Amon also surprisingly found that, along with the growth of the bloodline power, the magic power he could use was seemingly increasing as well. Was this the secret of the power of both sides that was missing after being separated in two? During meditation, he could even “see” the changes inside his body. The transformation took place in his bones, his muscles and his veins. His strength and endurance had previously reached the peak of the fifth level, but now the limit was broken.
When the changes slowed down and his body finally stabilized, Amon started to examine his body thoroughly. He found that he didn’t need to sleep anymore. By meditating for just an hour or two, he could recover from exhaustion. He even felt that he could work for weeks without rest.
He also found that he was able to go for long periods without eating anything. Meditation could help him regain energy and dispel hunger. As an experiment, he stopped eating for half a month and didn’t have any trouble. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to keep fasting indefinitely, but he was confident that he could last more than a month!
Was this the meaning of “limit breaking”? Amon understood why that warrior still had such strength and endurance after the long pursuit. If the warrior hadn’t been severely wounded by the supreme magic scrolls, Amon would certainly have lost.
One night, in a deep and serene state of meditation, Amon became aware that his strength had reached a new equilibrium. He was fully “recovered”. From this moment on, his body was renewed, like he had become a new and more perfect life form.
Did this mean that he was finally a sixth-level warrior? Did it mean that he was a sixth-level mage as well? He knew a way to confirm it. It would suffice to bring out the Terroculus left by Crazy’Ole and try to read the next message.
But he didn’t dare do this in the Isis Shrine. He didn’t dare to vouch that the magic formation he set in his own house would definitely be able to block the prying gazes of other mages, let alone those of the gods!
On his next day off, Amon left the shrine at sunset. Many watchmen liked to go out at this time and find a good place to drink and have fun. Those with families would go home and come back the next morning. The city of Memfis was huge. He ate dinner at a restaurant in the northern part of the city, then watched some street shows. When it was completely dark, he entered a large hotel and ordered the most expensive suite with a private courtyard.
As a watchman of the Archive, Amon had earned a good amount of gold parans. He didn’t have much chance to spend them before. Now, it was time to enjoy a bit of luxury.
He set up a [Hide] formation. At midnight, he took out the Terroculus. Crazy’Ole’s voice arose from it, “I have to give you my congratulations again, my boy, since you must have achieved the sixth level on this difficult journey. There’s one thing I need to tell you before you realize it… Being a sixth-level mage means that you can start to practice supreme magics. But a mage can only ascend to the sixth-level under one condition: you have to immerse yourself in daily meditation and magic practice for a long period of time.”
“Many mages fail to master supreme magic because they don’t have the self-discipline to do this. Once you take a break or indulge yourself with vacations, you will have to restart the process from the very beginning! There’s no need to try to confirm it – it’s an undocumented secret among mages. Bair reached this conclusion after studying the notes and stories of many supreme mages in the Archive. He told me about this.”
“It is part of the test. One’s limit can only be broken after it has been found. And the further you push yourself, the sooner you’ll know where your limit lies. At least for a mage, meditating is the only way to find their limit. A long period of constant meditation is crucial to the process of limit-breaking.”
“The result of limit-breaking is that magic practicing becomes an integral part of your life. You regard magic practicing as natural and even a necessity. That’s the state of mind you need to achieve before you can master a supreme magic.”
“Many supreme mages, like me, notice it when looking back on their lives. But they won’t tell their apprentices or students about it, and I didn’t tell you about it either. I wish for you to solve the secret of the gods! If you can’t even devote yourself to the practice of magic and make it an uninterruptible habit, you won’t be able to fulfill my wish. Fortunately, you’ve proven that I was right about you once again!”