It was a massive hall that could only be described as a grand library. It wouldn’t even be farfetched to call it the grandest library one would ever see. This was how this place appeared to its current guests.
In the center of this grand library, three women were seated before each other in a round elegant looking table while either holding a book, or enjoying some tea and snacks.
“I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I can’t say it enough; this place is just too bizarre.” said the white-haired foxkin woman with snow-like skin that wore a kimono. “The floating bookcases are one thing, but the fact it has almost every book that I know in existence, and even ones that I’d never expect to exist is simply amazing to me.”
“I’m more surprised that whatever food or drink that I think about just suddenly appears on the table floating from somewhere. Like, what is this place; a library? Or a tavern?” replied the brawny tanned woman with red hair as she drank from a tankard.
The last woman, a bunnykin with neck-length black hair with bright purple ends, remained quiet on the side as she stared at a book involving stories about dragons.
With a look of concern, the foxkin woman asked her, “Vai, dear, are you alright?”
Closing the book she was reading, the bunnykin, Vai, sighed.
“Mistress Sorena, I… “
Despite her attempt, Vai couldn’t bring herself to continue.
Seeing Vai’s despondence and the book she was holding, the foxkin, Sorena, had a thought as to what the problem could be.
“Are you still worried about how Camus thinks of you?”
On point with her guess, Vai nodded in response.
“Do you think… I’m worthy of Master Camus?”
Hearing her ill-thoughts once more, Sorena couldn’t help but sigh while rebuking her, “Dear, we’ve been through this…”
Shaking her head as though it were a misunderstanding, Vai corrected herself.
“No, I didn’t mean to say it in that manner, but… I can’t help but think back to Master Camus’ reaction that morning.” As she spoke, she looked at the book that was in her hands. “That is why I’m trying to find what might appeal to him. Or at the very least, understand more about dragons.”
Sorena shook her head as she gave Vai a thoughtful look. “Little dear, it’s great that you’re trying your best for him, but it’s also no good if you overthink it. From what we’ve learned of him, the oaf doesn’t even understand most of his physiological needs. Raised too much as a human.” Sorena paused as the sides of her lips curled upwards, “But then again… that is what makes him appealing. Most dragons I know are… how do I say it? Pushy?”
“Aggressively domineering is more like it,” groaned the brawny woman, Azula, on the side. “Most of them take what they like without a thought causing trouble to most people. We’ve had a few Avai and even Oroi over the years that have been taken against their will. Not like any of them were harmed or restrained in the end, but it did cause a few disputes when some of them didn’t want to return.”
Sorena giggled but Vai was a little confused. The people of the Szentari approved of having powerful mates, so dragons were normally at the top of their desired partners.
“I know that look, and I get it,” Azula said seeing Vai’s expression. “Just because our people like them strong doesn’t mean we don’t get to choose. Each one in the tribe still has their preferences, but the only condition has to be that they’re stronger than their Szentari partner in some form.”
With a pause, Azula took another swig of her drink as she continued, “It’s just that the dragon thing I mentioned earlier… think of it like this; if a couple wanted to marry each other only for one of them to be taken away by someone else and they no longer want to come back, how do you think the other one is going to respond?”
Understanding the messy situation, Vai shook her head to show that she didn’t want to hear any more.
“Exactly. It was a pain and a half to deal with those kinds of situations, and being one of the chief’s daughters definitely didn’t make it any easier,” she finished while downing her entire drink.
“Now that I think about, I cursed those girls that were taken back then, but in the end… I ended up like one of them,” she groaned while waving her tankard in the air. Another filled tankard flew in from somewhere between the shelves and landed in front of her while the empty one simply “poofed” out of existence.
“Ha! If I knew how good it felt to be taken like that, there’s no way I would have cursed them back then. No way I can live without being done that way now,” she laughed while taking another swig. “He’ll have to tie me up and bury me somewhere if he thinks he can leave without me.”
Vai smiled faintly listening to Azula. She envied her spirit and uncaring attitude towards rejection.
Just as she started to lighten up, suddenly an immense amount of mana surged at the open end of their table. The girls were initially surprised at the sudden flow of magic, but they soon came to realize that the mana seemed to match the surrounding magic that ensorcelled the library they were in.
Before them, as though the shadows coalesced to form the being, stood Astranir, the Dragon God of Magic.
“Hello, ladies. I hope you three are enjoying your stay at least more than my brother. I believe this is our first meeting, so allow me to introduce myself. I am Astranir, Dragon God of Dreams and Magic, and I’ve come here to make an announcement.”
The girls were a little shaken after being exposed to the intensity of his magic, but nothing shook them more than his words. Camus was his brother? A Dragon God’s?
“My brother, Camus, has made the choice to stay here and train within my demesne. Time flows differently here, so I wanted to inform you ladies that it’ll be while before he’s finished, so as not to waste your time, you’re welcome to leave first in case you have unfinished business or worries in the world above.”
The three looked at each other then towards the tall blue dragon. Sorena, with reverence in her tone, decided to ask on their behalf, “Your Divine Grace, if you would permit this humble self to ask, for how long would Camus be staying here to train and how large would this time difference be?”
With a chuckle in his tone, Astranir replied, “No need to be so formal with me, my dear. As my brother’s special ladies, there’s no need for any of you to be so hung up on how to address me and whatnot.” With a grin he added, “You can even call me brother-in-law if you will, but… perhaps that would be a little much for any of you. A shame really, but in any case.”
While lifting a finger to his chin as though giving it a thought, he turned towards them. “To answer your question, based on your world’s time, it would take a mere three days. However, within the realm where my brother is training, the difference in that amount of time would be… roughly five years.”
The girls were a little stunned when they heard the response. Five years? That’s not really a long time by dragon standards, but Camus having been raised as a human would still feel the weight of the flow of time. That would also mean he’d be all on his own within that time.
“It’s honestly too short a time if I wanted him to reach the standard that I’m aiming for, but sadly that’s how long his vessel can hold while staying within my realm before it starts to deteriorate from the intense divine energies that circulate here. You three are currently safe in this region from those destructive energies, but the flow of time will be the same and you will have to wait for the same if you chose to stay.”
With a wave of his hand, a man-sized blue portal appeared beside him as he gestured towards it. “Being mortals, I understand the value of your time, so I’ve decided to offer you all a way back so it would be easier for you to wait for my little brother to finish. So, what do you say?”
Looking towards each other, the three silently nodded as they all came to an understanding. Sorena again, was the first to speak and this time with a smile, “It would only take three days in our world, you say? In that case, everyone would be just fine if we decided to stay a little longer. After all, we wouldn’t want our dear Camus to be lonely in these five years.”
Azula, with a fierce smile, added, “Also, it wouldn’t be fair if he were the only one who gets to train and get stronger. I still want to pay him back for last time, so it’s only right I get the same chance!”
With a look of resolve on her face, Vai finished, “I want to be of help to Sir Camus. If it means staying and waiting for only this much, then I will do so easily. I will also learn and train as much as I can so I do not disappoint him.”
Seeing the women’s resolve, Astranir could only shake his head and smile. He could see that these women were blessed by his siblings, and because of that he felt that his brother was truly fortunate having found such women on his journey. Possessing a God’s blessing would show the divine’s approval of that person’s worth, but the individual would still have free will and would not necessarily move within the devices of the gods.
“Very well. If this is what you’ve all chosen, then so be it.” he said after closing the portal. He then gestured towards the library which then began to expand and reveal hidden paths.
“You each will have your own lodgings, and you can use this hall as you have before. Your necessities will be answered should you request it within the hall, and should you wish to train then simply head towards those doors.” He said while gesturing towards three large wooden doors. “They will open a path to a training room where you can test yourselves in any way you can imagine.”
He was preparing to leave, but not before turning towards them with a grin, “And… should the opportunity arise, you may yet get to see my brother, Camus, within these halls.”
As my brother took me further into his realm, I started to feel slightly uncomfortable all over my body. It felt like an invisible force was trying to push against me in an attempt to crush me as a whole.
“What you’re feeling right now is the denseness of purer mana. Having lived your whole life in an atmosphere of thin mana, your body will take some time getting used to its magical pressure. This is why we won’t venture too deep within my realm. The mana would continue to become denser and purer to a point that it would simply crush your existence.”
That was certainly made clear when I heard some of my scales begin to crack. As he mentioned that, I can’t help but get worried that we might be moving in a little too deep.
“Calm yourself, Camus, we’ve arrived to a point where it’s just barely safe for you,” he said with a grin.
“Was it necessary to come in so dangerously close?” I decided to ask as I stared onto my hands filled with cracks. I didn’t feel any pain outside of the pressure, but it looked very unnerving.
“Don’t worry yourself, little brother. As I mentioned before, your body simply isn’t used to it. You’re no simple High Dragon after all, and as a scion of the great Primordial one, you were originally meant to grow in it and will even come to thrive in much purer mana.”
He swung his staff then struck the ground, causing sudden changes to our surroundings. Before I could blink, we’ve become enclosed in a massive walled room that looked akin to some sort of VR Training Stage that you see in some fighting games.
“Now then. Before we begin training your magic, we first need to allay some of your preconceptions about magic as well as some “incorrect spells” that you have learned. For starters, you need to completely forget about using [Status] magic.”
I recall he mentioned this before when he sent that image in my head when I fought Vai’s old boss. Something abut the spell being easily misguided.
“The idea of a magic spell that would let you see all that encompasses a being is quite ludicrous. Only one entity in this universe is privy to such information, and that is what you know as the Akashic Records. Simply put, an idea or a concept of it does exist, but to simply put it on the level of a simple spell is quite the grandest of delusions.
What you are seeing when you cast this spell is nothing but the information that this world in particular is privy to, or rather what is generally known by multiple individuals of a particular entity. An example would be that old malformed king that you fought, Nabolros.”
I didn’t think I’d hear about that old king in this conversation. If I recall, his status window looked like something you’d particularly see with a weakened boss of an RPG game.
“…or rather, what you believe you’d see if you saw him through that RPG game.”
As he added this to my thoughts, the only thing I could say was, “…wait, what?”
Suddenly snickering at my confusion, he showed me the window that would pop up whenever I would use [Status], but it was different. At first, it simply showed his name, but then the information on it simply kept changing.
“Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying [Status] is entirely useless. In fact, a spell that managed to barely scrape the absolute minimum in having contact with the Akashic Records is something praiseworthy. The only problem is that this spell is highly influenced on what is generally known by the conscious beings of this world. If no information is known about a particular entity, then the information it would display would simply be based on the caster’s own ideas, thus likely turning it into false or incomplete information.
Simply put, because no one knows what Nabolros stats were after he had turned, it took the knowledge you and your father knew about such a being and simply derived the most likely conclusion. This is simply no different to asking an AI on what the most probable answer would be to a hypothetical question."
That's... huh. I guess that makes sense, but then why –
“Why did it choose to use letters to determine the scaling of stats? Simply put, in your head, you just can’t comprehend how stats can be quantified, so it chose a vaguer yet familiar interpretation.”
Ah, I see… wait, is this implying I’m bad at math? Or that I'm simply no good with numbers?
“On another note, because that Korvo fella hid his abilities so well, the only information you gained was what was known by his pupils and peers, thus making it feel disjointed from his true abilities. This is what I meant that the information could be manipulated. This is the limitation; the information of the entity cannot be derived from the entity itself and is reliant on what is overly known about it.”
And he chose to ignore my previous thoughts. In any case, I can finally understand why he’s adamant on me not relying on it, but… Kor-who?
“…Korvo, one of your mate’s old boss. The guy you fought that had a golden crow mask.”
Ah, him. I honestly forgot what his name was even though he was quite annoying. After making fun of Vai, I simply wanted nothing to do with him.
“Sigh… in any case, I hope you understand my point. Now, another sore point that we simply have to beat out of you.”
Um, I don’t like where this is going from the way he said that.
With a savage grin, my brother spun his staff and I could feel the mana surge all around me, completely filling the room with all kinds of elemental spells, such as bolts of lightning, and balls of fire and water.
“And that… is the preconception that Dragons… are immune to magic.”