Arc 3 – Chapter 26: The Origins of Magic
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Warmth… and darkness.

That was the first sensation I felt as soon as I entered as well as the first thing that greeted my vision.

Welcome, brother.

As soon as the voice resounded in my head, I instinctively turned towards the source.

There he stood; with arms at his back and at least two heads taller than me, he wore a deep dark-blue velvet-looking robe. His physique appeared lankier at least compared to me, but the pressure I was feeling was far greater than the time we met in that dream world.

Other than the robes, what appeared different was that this time his head was that of a golden oriental-looking dragon. He even sported the two long whiskers and the antler-like horns.

This was Astranir, the Dragon God of Dreams and Magic; the lord of all that is arcane and… my "brother".

“Mmm, not bad. You no longer have that dumb expression on your face.”

And in true brotherly fashion, the first thing he does is make fun of me in the guise of praise.

“Once again, I welcome you, brother, to my domain… or at least the very edges of it. You currently lack the ability to enter Arukashta, my true Divine Realm, and bringing you there directly would only do you more harm than good.”

As he spoke, he continued to look at me in a seemingly judging manner making me feel uneasy. I can’t help but think he’s disappointed at me in some way since I don’t feel like I could live up to being the sibling of a god.

“Hmm… it seems there’s a lot I need to clear up, but first, you must be wondering about your companions.”

He waved one of his hands and suddenly a screen seemed to have appeared before me out of thin air. Before it, I can see the girls seemingly enjoying themselves in what looked like a café surrounded by bookshelves. The screen split in the middle and on the other side I can see Fenril lazily napping in what appears to be a lakeside meadow.

“Your companions were weary, so I let them have some time for themselves while we have ours. Your condition is periodically transmitted to them so they’ll know whether you’re fine or not. I hope this alleviates any concerns you might have.”

“Y-yes, it does. Thank you… um, brother.”

I was still a bit hesitant to say it, but whether or not it’s my imagination, the tension in the air felt like it had somewhat thinned. My intuition appeared to be on the mark when I spotted him sporting a small grin. Acknowledging him as my brother seemed to have put him in a good mood.

“Ehem, now then. There are many things we have to discuss, but for starters, I shall tell you the current state of this world. I shall start by informing you that the form I am currently showing is not my true body, but a physical projection.”

“A… projection? You mean it’s like a hologram?”

“Close, but I can interact with the physical. Think of it like... a “shadow“ clone of sorts. You’re more familiar with that term, right?”

Ah, so it’s basically “that”. He must have seen the part of my memories involving those “ninjas”.

“It’s similar, but it certainly won’t go “poof” even with the slightest flick. This body is more an avatar if anything and is more than capable of channeling most of my powers. The reason I brought it up is simply because my main body is currently preoccupied and can’t move freely. Worse still, I cannot leave and… as things stand, it’s highly unlikely I’ll ever be able to.”

I unconsciously twitched when he mentioned. Is he perhaps imprisoned here?

“Seems like I don’t need to read your mind seeing the expression you’re making. To relieve your worries, no, we’re not imprisoned against our will. It is by our choice and the decision we’ve made to sustain this world is why we’re at this current predicament.”

Sustaining this world, huh. Going by that, I already have an idea which setting I might've reincarnated to. Seeing Astranir’s expression, I can imagine him thinking it’s funny that I’d relate the situation to the scenarios of fantasy novels and manga I’ve read.

“Another thing to be clear about, brother, is that I’m not necessarily reading your thoughts. You’re simply projecting them too easily with your expressions.”

…am I really that easy to read? Again, I could never really tell since everyone else doesn’t seem to notice.

“The answer is quite simple really; I’m a dragon and so are you. In time, those close to you will know you better, but for now they can’t really read the expressions on a being whose facial features don’t share their own. How is one to tell the meaning of a twitch in a scale or a beating tail if all their life they’ve grown accustomed to seeing flesh faces? An expert or scholar perhaps, but meeting one is already quite unlikely in your profession.”

I nodded at that. I kind of expected it, but still, it’s really shocking to know my face is actually the really easy-to-read type.

“Ehem, now then. Back to what I mentioned before, the reason I cannot leave is simply to do with maintaining this world's existence. As gods, from the moment of our existence, we have come to innately understand that each universe has its own Laws that it follows that keeps itself functioning and maintaining itself. This world is actually quite young and has only had a scant few hundred million years in its life, and yet the beings here along with their civilizations have developed rather quickly and have lasted for many millennia. Far older than even the civilization of your old world.”

So, he knows about my old world. Sounds like a large number to be considered young for a world, but even I know that the world I used to live in was already a few billion years old and still wasn’t considered old. This world being only a few hundred million years old is indeed very young, but something bothered me. If the civilization here is older, then why has technology stagnated despite the existence of magic?

“I see you’re confused about a particular point, but we’ll be getting to that at a later time. As for why civilization has lasted so long here, the answer, again, is quite simple – magic.”

Seeing the grin in his eyes, I hoped he wasn't about to tell me some bs that magic makes the impossible possible.

“Magic is fueled by mana and its use has brought about the most incredible of miracles and the most horrifying of tragedies. This, I know you can already imagine. The existence of magic has brought about an incredible advancement of civilization, but the question is – where does it come from?”

That’s… almost never really addressed in most of the media I’ve seen. The usual setting is either it just existed from the beginning or it’s a gift of the gods. However, if I recall from my pop’s teachings, wasn’t it brought to this world when the body of the Primordial Dragon was separated into the Dragon Gods and Astranir created it?

“I know what you were taught, but the answer this time is not quite so simple. Many would say magic is a gift from the gods; namely yours truly of course, but that cannot be further from the truth. If one simply thought about it, if the gods were capable of creating magic, why would we need to gift it to mortals and not wield it ourselves and bring about miraculous effects? Of course, I wouldn’t need to explain why that is the case, am I correct?”

Indeed. Such thoughts would be considered radical and blasphemous to most faith. Still, it’s quite odd hearing this coming directly from a god. Though, it also kind of makes sense if it came from a god governing magic and in relation, radical thinking.

“In its most basic premise, magic is the result of one’s ability to bring about phenomena through the manipulation and consumption of mana. Without mana, magic would have never come to be. But where does mana come from? How is it replenished? This, is what we and our siblings are trying to maintain, dear brother.”

I kind of expected it was something like this. The question now is, which format is it following. Since I have clue, I may as well start with the most common setting.

“Is it the World Tree?”

Seeing how his face lit up while showing me a grin when I asked, I think I may have hit the jackpot.

“In a sense, yes, it does indeed involve a “tree”. Only the elves of Runegaia have a name for this “tree” since they are the direct descendants of the old gods that have cared for it, after all. For clarity’s sake, let us call it the World Tree.”

Something felt off when he put it like that. It’s giving me the impression that I could be wrong and it’s more than just the tree that I think it is.

“Currently, the World Tree’s roots are loosening their hold on our world. Without the World Tree, our world will lose its source of mana and with it, magic itself. I and your brothers and sisters are currently at each of its foundational roots, keeping it in place to this world.”

As he mentioned this, he conjured a display that showed the image of something like a tree with several large roots attached to the world. Each root had a circle with a different color.

“The Gods of Light are aiding us in this endeavor as well, but the burden of maintaining a root is great, so only Seraphaem, God of Dominion and Authority and greatest of the Gods of Light, is powerful enough to maintain one of the foundational roots, just like us. Hestes is currently supporting him, while Arges, Elendris, and Arrhanea, the three remaining Light Gods, are maintaining a different root.”

I’ve heard of these gods before, but I’m not really as familiar with them. The ones I’ve learned about outside of the Dragon Gods are the ones the people call the Old Gods. Astranir must have noticed my confusion since he suddenly started talking about them.

“These gods are the next generation that have taken the mantle after the previous ones have decided to slumber. Most of the previous gods were greatly weakened from war against the netheric beings of the beyond. If it weren’t for the Primordial Dragon, they would have been wiped out completely, but luckily that is not the case. Unfortunately, it would be a long time before they wake again due to the faith being shifted to the current gods in order to support their mission.”

He suddenly shut off the image then turned towards me. The tension in the air that had left before started to return.

“Camus… brother. I would have wanted nothing more than to let you go on with your adventure and let you experience the world as our eldest would have wanted. However, I’m afraid I can’t ignore the current state of your being.”

The pressure I felt grew heavier and before I realized it, I was taking several steps back.

“Twice now, your physical vessel was nearly destroyed and eldest brother had to intervene. He is gravely weakened. At your current state, forget the Dark Gods or the Abyssals, you wouldn’t even stand a chance against Orihalcum ranked adventurers. This. Cannot. CONTINUE.”

A terrible pressure seemed to press against me after he said those three words. I shuddered then looked down as I heard a loud crack resounding. Looking directly under his feet, I could see the space under his feet appearing shattered. Brother is really angry.

“I – what do you want me to do?”

When I asked that question, he suddenly stopped moving forward. The pressure was still there and I was nervous so I wasn’t directly looking at him when I asked, so I slowly looked up towards him. On his face, I could somewhat tell he was showing a sad expression.

“Grow. Become stronger than you have now as though your very existence depended on it. I have the means to give you proper training and even time, but how far you go and… whether you will survive… is up to you. I won’t force you, but… it would truly please me and your siblings if you would accept our offer.”

I gulped at that. In truth, I simply wanted a life similar to the novels I’ve read where everything’s easy-going. I was very tired and jaded before the end of my old life, so having to go through something extreme after being able to do almost whatever I like is very off-putting. I honestly thought that was the end of it when my old man trained me during those seven years, but…

I looked towards Astranir, a god who claims he is my brother. Seeing his expression, it’s really strange. I can’t describe it, but I have this weird feeling that despite his recent display of anger and regardless of my choice today, he’d be fine with it.

And so, I’ve made my choice.


Inspiration has been dry lately. Probably because I haven't found a novel I'm into in a while. Usually, reading other works gets me going, but most of what I've been reading have either ended, gone in a weird direction, or just stopped, so on top of my workload, it's been hard for me to get motivated.

Weirdly enough, I've been getting more inspiration for my other work, so it's been getting more chapters sooner. If any of you are interested in a story about an isekai'd genetically modified experiment, ya'll are welcome to read my other work, Morphling, while you wait for more chapters of Dragon Road. Word of warning, don't expect the MC of my other novel to be able to become human or something; he's a monster to the end.