"Yes, please take care of me as well." Theo felt strange as he accepted the greeting.
It had been a long time since he'd met Sylvia, but they had a friendly relationship. No, he hadn't seen her often except for the time when they'd traveled together by carriage to the Miller Barony. After that, they had been more busy than anyone else in the past six months.
That period of time was long enough for them to notice the changes in each other.
'Uh, her hair is longer?'
Sylvia was 18 years old. She was still growing and had become more feminine than she'd been half a year ago, making Theo moderately confused. Her hair, which had been cut around her neck, now flowed down her back, and the smooth curves of her body were revealed despite her straight posture. Additionally, her previously round, childlike eyes had become curved, and her chin line was also more defined.
The difference of six months had also affected Theodore.
'…Theo, you've grown.' Sylvia look up carefully at Theo, who was a head taller than her.
During the carriage ride, the difference had been just a few fingers. The muscles revealed under his loose clothing made Theodore seem like a strong young man instead of a boy.
In fact, Gluttony and Lee Yoonsung should be credited for this growth. Theodore was a baron's son who had grown up in the countryside, so his physique was at a mediocre level. He didn't have the blood of a warrior, and both parents were only averagely sized. Theo had grown up in such an environment and yet reached a height of 6 feet.
The reason for this was that after learning 'Battle Song' and extracting the essence of the original, his innate framework had been reconstructed. Lee Yoonsung hadn't been able to learn aura, but his physical condition absolutely hadn't been normal. No ordinary boy of 15 years would be able to traverse the continent alone. His body had been extraordinary as it had contained the blood of hundreds of years of martial artists.
Well, for whatever reason, Sylvia and Theo felt uncomfortable with each other.
The eyes of the two people finally met, and Sylvia instantly turned bright red. The action was quickly followed by the movement of her long silver hair.
Her introverted nature was still present. Theo was glad to realize this for some reason. Perhaps it was because he had only seen Sylvia look like this.
"Then shall we start?" As Sylvia spoke in a small voice, her slender fingers clutched her staff.
* * *
Chants were words that a magician cried out more often than the names of family and friends, and it contained the power to activate magic. A few words would cause a lightning bolt to pop out or for flames to soar. For those who didn't know magic, they were really mysterious words. However, if asked whether there was any special power in the chant itself, every magician in the world would deny it.
Casting was merely an autosuggestion.
"Fireball," Sylvia muttered, and a fireball appeared in the air.
It was the 3rd Circle's most famous attack spell, Fireball. This was a magic to summon a fireball and explode it toward a target.
She moved the fireball around and continued explaining, "[Basic Magic Theory] teaches that magic and chants can't be separated like this. A chant is definitely amazing. It isn't an exaggeration to say that a new history of magic appeared once chants were developed. …Kuk."
Sylvia grabbed her staff and looked in the air.
In the place where she looked, the same fireball as the one she had just called suddenly appeared. It was clearly a 3rd Circle Fireball.
"Prior to that, no one used chants. Now, it is common to consider no casting as special. The appearance of chants greatly expanded the power of a magician, so all magicians were captivated by the magic chants."
"Chants… are they a restriction?"
"Yes, Theo should know a bit about chants. Putting a certain amount of magic power into a magic formula is a type of 'chant'."
In other words, it was a type of association work. It was like recalling the texture, smell, and shape of a tree when thinking the word 'tree', just like how 'rock' reminded people of the texture, rigidity, and weight of a rock.
Likewise, Sylvia unconsciously calculated the magic formula, deployment method, and amount of magic power consumed when thinking of the word 'Fireball.' The speed and completeness were the advantages and disadvantages of a chant.
"In other words, casting is a habit. A habit we created ourselves and nestled it inside us. It is difficult to rewrite a habit that has been ingrained for a few years up to several decades. I think it is the reason why Theo's magic keeps failing."
"Amazing, I never thought about it that way," Theodore admired involuntarily.
Sylvia's advice was an insight difficult for anyone else to have given him. From the moment of her birth, she had been overflowing with sensitivity. Due to this, she had to 'constrain' it in the normal casting method which everyone else used.
'She has a point. The feeling and calculation is the same, but the power to control it has suddenly changed. It may be a conflict between the unconsciously calculated contents and the consciously calculated contents.'
At the novel advice, Theo felt like a wall inside his head was collapsing.
"Okay! Then I'll move onto the next topic." On the other hand, Sylvia was excited about this situation.
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It was her first experience of talking like this with a peer. Only the elders of the magic towers and her grandfathers could be a match for her. Having met the person she had long been waiting for, Sylvia poured out the knowledge in her head. Even when Theo refuted some of her words, it made her happy.
How many hours had they spent sitting on the floor of the practice room? After digging out everything in each other's heads, the two people somehow managed to find a solution.
"…Is it truly no casting?"
"Yep, I think this is the case."
The conclusion reached by the two geniuses was simple. From now on, Theo was to use no casting for all magic!
It was possible to fix the habit of 'casting,' but it was calculated that it would take Theo three months to learn up to the 5th Circle again. This was on the premise that he devoted day and night to training.
However, the situation would change greatly if he got used to not using the casting method.
'It might take more than three months, or less than three months.'
The crossroad depended on Theo's own learning ability, so he didn't hesitate. He was confident that he could do it. That was because of the girl in front of him. He would do this, with the pride of a magician and a man.
Theo got up from his spot and reached out to Sylvia while saying, "I will try it once that way."
The path of making a habit out of not casting was a thorny road which no one had succeeded in except for Sylvia. Maybe the difficulty would be worse than recovering his chants one by one. However, if Theo was successful, his magic abilities would take a step closer into the master's realm. It was a cliff which stretched out before him.
The girl smiled brightly at Theo's determination. "Yes! Theo can do it!"
At first he led her, and now it was her turn to lead him. Sylvia ignored the pounding of her heart and grabbed Theo's hand. As always, she was grateful to him for coming to where she was.
From that day onwards, the special training of the two people began.
* * *
It had been a month since then.
After deciding to use every magic with no casting, Theodore literally saw hell. The training to deal with his expanded senses wasn't easy.
Using an analogy, it was similar to having three or four arms on his body. Still having both arms didn't mean he could skillfully control his new arms. No, instead, it just confused his pre-existing arms.
'At first, 3rd Circle magic took a few seconds.'
The no-casting method Sylvia taught Theo was different from what he was used to. It wasn't just a quick oral formula. He had to calculate it using his growing sensitivity while trying to complete the magic faster. It was here that Sylvia's magic was faster than Theo's.
The difficulty of the technique she established was murderous, and Theodore's head hurt for the first time while learning. However, the culmination of his efforts didn't betray him.
Hwaruruk! A huge fireball appeared above Theodore's head without any precursors. It was the 4th Circle Blaze Shell that he had failed a month ago. As soon as Sylvia's nod confirmed its completeness, he used the next magic.
His magic power pushed at the surrounding air roughly.
4th Circle ice magic, Frozen Orb…
4th Circle lightning magic, Lightning Spear…
4th Circle wind magic, Gale Force…
Including Blaze Shell, Theo completed four magic spells simultaneously, and they were in a stable state. This meant that Theo could maintain 4th Circle intermediate magic without any parameters.
Sylvia nodded and ordered another magic, "Erase everything. Last one."
The four terrible magic spells faded into the air. It was evidence that he could do both activation and cancellation well. Perhaps he could use magic under the 4th Circle in the blink of an eye. However, Theodore's and Sylvia's capabilities didn't end there.
The very next moment, the air distorted strangely.
"Ah." Theo's head hurt.
However, Theo didn't lose his concentration and completed the magic. It was fire magic which pushed the limits of the 5th Circle. The two people simultaneously looked up at the ceiling where a red flame was blazing.
"…Minor Force-Inferno, perfect," Theo placed strength in the declaration.
Swiiik… The 6th Circle flickered, and Theo sighed as he released his concentration.
It was amazing that he had almost completed it in a month, but the improved magic was a burden. He couldn't maintain it for even 10 seconds. Still, it was a success, and both of them clapped with joy.
As Theodore was about to express his gratitude…
[Hoing!] Mitra suddenly popped up under his feet.
"Mitra? What's going on?"
Perhaps due to Theodore's higher sensitivity, she could freely appear in the material world whenever she wanted. Usually she played with Sylvia or with the dirt in a corner of the practice room, but her current attitude was strange. She tried to tell them something as she tapped on their shoes.
Theo leaned down to listen and heard the soft voice saying, [Deo! Jun! Jun!]
He was trying to understand what she was saying when there was a sudden tapping on the door of the practice room.