Landes wasn’t happy with his senior’s evaluation of his spell. Tawari viewed things differently as a battlemagus, however. ‘Scholar meets soldier’, as the saying goes.
Tawari said Landes had missed Banshee’s Howl’s point as a spell. It was a crowd control spell meant to help a magus out of a bad situation where they were outnumbered. It was meant to make opportunities for a singular magus, either to escape or take out as the situation required.
Landes disagreed. He didn’t need a crowd control spell. He needed one that could immobilise a specific target and give him time to do his job. It fit his need precisely.
Claude could understand both sides of the argument, and empathised with both Landes and Tawari. Most importantly, his spell was still a psychic one, which meant it didn’t do any harm to the body, and didn’t affect the materials.
In modern, non-magic terms, it was a strike to the back of the head. It didn’t knock its target out like the physical strike, but it incapacitated it without doing any physical damage. Claude could agree on that point, but he felt it was still a waste to engrave that into one of the triangles. He didn’t agree with the Landes’ reasoning for putting it there either. Landes engraved Mental Shock into his hexagram in memory of what it represented, his first play with magic to change something to fit his needs. That was fine and all, but it was a waste to use such a precious spot for it.
And, while the attack didn’t damage the materials, it wasn’t without its side effects. While none of the beasts ever evolved, Landes’ were the only ones to become dumber the longer the experiment went on. Clearly repeated exposure to his spell was damaging their minds.
Luckily for Landes, the towermaster didn’t catch wind of his use of Mental Shock, and instead just thought his selection of beasts were becoming domesticated by their prolonged exposure to humans. If he had found out it was all Landes’ doing, intentional or not, Claude doubted the apprentice would have lived long enough to write his cookbook diary.
Then again, the tepidity and timidity his repeated use of Mental Shock engrained in the beasts of his charge demonstrated the first real inroads into the domestication of ferocious beasts. While that might have saved Landes’ life if it came to it, Claude doubted it would have done much more.
Landes was ecstatic when the towermaster finally ended the research project. He didn’t care that an experiment in which he played a key part, and was, in all likelihood, half the reason it failed, he was just glad to not have to feed the beasts, which were still just as ferocious as always in his mind.
That event, and Landes’ recounting of it in his diary, gave Claude his first dilemma on his journey into magic. He couldn’t decide what path he should take as a magus. Rune magi were the weakest of all magi. They couldn’t even fight.
While Landes went into far less detail regarding Tawari’s spells than his own, Claude learned enough to understand how much more powerful they were. Tawari had one core spell for each of his rings. Explosive Fireball as his first, Energy Barrier as his second, Blink for his third, Imprisonment for his fourth, and Flight for his fifth. The names were horrible, but if nothing else, they did at least tell him what they did, and his mouth watered at the thought of possibly possessing them.
Unfortunately, Landes didn’t describe their formations or the principles behind them, so there was no chance Claude could acquire them.
That was not a problem that need be addressed immediately however, so he put it aside and closed the diary again. He put the diary down, got onto his bed, and started meditating.
The hexagram floated in front of him, slowly rotating clockwise. The hexagon was now glowing red ever so slightly. He estimated it would take him about four or five more months to fill it entirely.
The question continued to claw at the back of his mind despite every effort to ignore it. Should he wait a few years and see if he could find a combat manual or something similar somewhere? Or should he give up on becoming a battlemagus and start engraving Landes’ spells now?
It would be easy to go Landes’ path. He had his diary — read ‘manual’ — in all its glory. He could at the very least become a four-ring rune magus. His main issue was that, if he did that, he would never have any true combat ability. His best weapon would be a paltry Magic Missile.
That wouldn’t have been such a big problem when the world was rampant with magi. He could just rely on someone else to do the fighting. The world wasn’t however, and he’d have to rely entirely on himself. Then again, rune magus spells like the ones Landes used could be hidden more readily and used secretly to supplement his activities, the combat spells of Tawari’s kin were gaudy and immediately recognisable as magic. Both paths were this both suited and unsuited to his current situation in different ways.
Then again, if he was found out, he would be almost completely defenceless as a rune magus, while he could at least defend himself in the immediate as a battlemagus.
There was also the question of whether rune magus spells would actually have opportunities of use where magic was concerned. He didn’t know which materials were or weren’t magic, and even if he did, he didn’t know if they’d all but gone completely extinct by now. Even if he could only use his battlemagus spells as backup for dire situations, he knew he could at least put them to use in certain situations; it was completely unknown whether rune magus spells would be a complete waste.
They were all difficult questions he’d have to ponder for a long time before he could finally make an informed decision. For now, at least, he would put his decision off for a while, while he searched for a combat manual. He could afford to wait a few years, but not too long.
Each ‘ring’ was actually a hexagram much like the first. Once the first was filled, the second could be created and crafted, then the third, and so on. Each one could only be created once all the previous ones had been created, filled, and carved with runes. So he could not just keep putting his decision off if he didn’t find a combat manual quickly and keep becoming stronger while he waited. Every day he put off his decision after his hexagon was filled, was day he wasted.
On the different hexagrams, however. Only one hexagram could be filled by any one element’s particles. It was impossible to have two hexagrams of the same element. Claude’s first, and only his first, hexagram could thus be filled with fire particles. And his second hexagram would eventually be the one and only hexagram he could fill with whatever particles he chose to use when the time came.
Upon filling his second hexagram with mana of a different element, one would become a second-rank magus and could pick seven level-one spells to be carved into the second hexagram as basic spells. Only after that could one be considered a two-ring magus.
Claude had hoped Landes would note down all the basic spells he had come into contact with, and he did have an extensive list in the back of his second diary, sketches of their formations and all, but they were all related to his profession as a rune magus. Besides the two combat spells he had in his first hexagram, no combat spells were noted anywhere in any of his diaries.