112. Cold Star Reinforcement
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“Any tip, Higure?” Rakna asked as he silently spread his mana across his body and reinforced it to a medium level.

 

“{Frankly? Use your gut feeling. It is your forte, after all, and there aren’t many other methods.}”

 

“…it’s my fault for asking you.”

 

“{Hey! What’s that supposed to mean?!}”

 

He ignored her and clasped his hands together. He then stared at them as if he was trying to find something that wasn’t there. After several minutes, the air around his hands began to cool down.

 

He couldn’t see it… He wondered where his mana circulated. His internal force was bristling inside his cells. His soul power sprung and left his soul organ and blanketed his entire body like a highly precise mold. But his mana… where was it?

 

At some point, he thought that it was the same thing as his soul because each time he called upon them, they would come from the same spot. But, after getting acclimated to it, he noticed a large difference between the two.

 

His soul power was… well, his soul itself. It was like he had a second, ethereal body hidden under his physical one that acted as a shell. His mana, however, seemed to originate from the soul as well but from somewhere deeper, deeper than even his soul scape.

 

His mana pool was definitely located somewhere inside there. And whenever he would command it to move, it would come out like a reversed waterfall. Then, he would pull it out of his body and shape it according to his will. That was how he cast his spells.

 

Reinforcement was different. It entailed keeping his mana inside his body, in a constant state of harmony with his anatomy. Logically, to attain Elemental Reinforcement, what he should do is shape his mana into his Cold Star element while keeping it inside his body.

 

Which brought the next question; where did his Cold Star affinity come from? Was it something innate to his mana? Did it come from his mind? Or was it also a product of his soul? His instincts were tilting his belief to the latter. In that case, all he needed to do was extract his mana from the usual place then picture the star in his head like he usually does and ‘ignite’ the mana.

 

He knew he could do it. In fact, he had the feeling that it would be very easy to do. But something about it irked him. It sounded and felt… “Inefficient.”

 

“{Hm? Is something wrong? I can almost hear how hard you’re brooding. Is it that hard?}” Higure asked a bit confused.

 

“Inefficient,” Rakna repeated to her, still focused on his idea. She got even more perplexed and it didn’t seem like he was about to explain it to her. “Both come from the same place but don’t work together… The mana is ‘bathed’ in the ‘cold’ but the ‘cold’ itself is not ‘inside’ it.”

 

“{…you lost me.}”

 

[Rakna?] Even Alexa decided to raise her voice. She had never seen him so engrossed.

 

“In that case… I just have to mix them. But to follow each other, a road is needed…” Rakna muttered and closed his eyes.

 

The soul had no location, it was everywhere and nowhere at the same time. But, accessing it was possible and his soul organ was the key to that. It was like a gate. Thus, he began the process with it as the center. He commanded all the mana he had to go there, both inside his mana pool and out of it, and the cold air around his hands dispersed as fast as it appeared.

 

Then, he confined all of that energy around his soul organ. If someone were to see him now, they would notice that he wasn’t releasing any mana fluctuation. It was as if he had none.

 

He began to sweat as it proved itself to be a considerably harder process than he expected. But he didn’t stop. He was too far in. The next step was shaping the agglomerate of mana. He breathed in and the image of a cold star surfaced in his mind. The mana started turning cold, chaotic, and barely restrained.

 

“{H-hey, Rakna? What are you doing? Something weird is going on in your soul realm,}” Higure said with a worried tone and it was accompanied by the cries of Rexam and Fenriu.

 

“Keep quiet,” Rakna finally responded to her and she became silent in shock.

 

At that point, he was barely able to not lose control. He wasn’t in pain or anything but something told him that if he let go now, it wouldn’t be pretty.

 

From the outside, something happened to his body. In the center of his chest, a glaring blue light was flickering whilst producing some mist. His tails and ears were also being affected, gradually becoming entirely white with a faint icy hue, just like when he used the Cold Star Manifestation.

 

The final step Rakna had envisioned involved his soul power. After confining all of his mana and converting it into a nearly uncontrollable cold energy, he pumped his Soul Core like never before and encased it with soul power.

 

What happened afterward was completely out of his control. His soul power burst like a balloon being popped. It undulated all around his body before abruptly settling down. Right after, it began to form systematic and orderly pathways from his soul organ to everywhere else.

 

They reached the tips of his fingers, his hair, his ears, and even his tails. This progression took less than a second and the soul power was cemented in place.

 

Then, on cue, the cold mana burst out of its confinement. But, unlike before, it didn’t randomly spread across his body but filled the soul pathways like water flowing through canals. That’s when Rakna opened his eyes with a gasp and saw the visible skin of his hands covered in azure lines.

 

They were sometimes geometrical, sometimes curved, sometimes linear, but jointly, they formed an organized and solid network. At the same time, Rakna saw that his hair, tails, and ears were not only completely white but were also releasing a cold mist.

 

He lifted his hand to look at the strange pulsing lines and clenched his fist, reveling in the strange sense of ‘completion’ he was experiencing. Then, after a few seconds, he decided to power down his mana, and the lines faded away.

 

At the same time, his hair and fur reverted to black as if the white had left along with the dispersing mist. Intriguingly, the tips were now black again; in a state preceding the awakening of his magic.

 

“{Did you just… make…?}” Higure sounded dumbfounded, struggling with her words. Rakna was about to say something when the System finally reacted to what he had done.

 

❮ ◈ ❯

Magic Theory has leveled up!

Mana Sense has leveled up!

Mana Control has leveled up!

Mana Control has entered Exceled State!

Soul Sense has leveled up!

Soul Breath has leveled up!

Eyes of the Soul has entered Exceled State!

Soul Core has entered Exceled State!

---

You have reached an epiphany.

Soul is Mana. Mana is Soul.

The World Generates and Creates.

You have successfully carved your Magic Circuits.

---

Internalized Magic Circuits

Magic Circuits are the source of the Worldly Energies. They channel them into Existence since the dawn of time. They are everywhere, in everything. Their role has always been to provide mortals the gift of strength.

Mana, Ether, Chakra, Qi… All of them are given by the Magic Circuits to the souls of mortals seeking them. They are said to take root in the essence of Death and Life and are intrinsically connected to every living soul.

That is how mortals regenerate mana; by opening their soul to the Magic Circuits. However, there exists exceptions. The Internalization of Magic Circuits builds a whole sub-system inside a mortal body, not unlike the original one.

While every living being is born with their own superficial circuits made to cast spells, carving a sub-network onto the body and soul creates a completely different effect. It allows a better connection to the Worldly Magic Circuits and consequently, an increase in mana regeneration, control, circulation, quantity, and consumption. It also attunes the physical body to higher degrees, enhancing reinforcements, healing, and recovery.

Some legends tell of Gods who have been able to not only build Internalized Magic Circuits but also recreate an original version inside their bodies, granting them unlimited mana.

 

Effects: +0.2 MP Regen Factor, +50% Max MP, -10% Mana Consumption.

 

Note: The effect will stack with Soul Core.

---

You have fused your mana and affinity through your Magic Circuits! The speed of your invocations will increase. Your basic output (without spell) of cold star energy has been boosted and your passive cold damage has been increased to 50%.

---

Reinforcement has been affected by the Magic Circuits!

Overwriting Elemental Reinforcement

Reinforcement has evolved into Cold Star Reinforcement!

---

Cold Star Reinforcement (Lv.7): The act of reinforcement with star energy is fundamentally different from normal affinities. Instead of giving a particular enhancement to the wielder, the reinforcement will turn the user’s body into the living embodiment of a star.

The more mana used, the more pronounced it will be. The flesh, blood, and bones will become nothing more than cold star energy. They will freeze and burn whatever they come in contact with and will always reform themselves.

However, keep in mind that the more mana you use on this skill, the more you expend energy to reconstruct yourself, and the more your body will fall apart.

This skill has been affected by Magic Circuits and performs as a physical reinforcement on top of the elemental infusion.

Cost: Variable.

---

Your Magic Circuits have stabilized your crippled state. You have restarted regenerating mana and stamina at half-rate. You will be completely healed in two days.

❮ ◈ ❯

 

“Well, I didn’t expect something like this,” Rakna muttered, hiding his surprise. He stood up and stretched his body, coincidentally noticing how the white tips of his tails were now gone.

 

He then opened his status and confirmed that he was indeed regenerating mana and stamina again. Though not at their maximum pace. His muscles were not sore anymore too.

 

“{#@%^&?!}”

 

“What the…?” Rakna covered his ears as he heard an incomprehensible noise. “Higure? Are you trying to learn an extraterrestrial language?”

 

“{Rakna! Answer me honestly, did you just build a sub-network of Magic Circuits!?}”

 

“Um… yes? That’s what it says at least.”

 

Instead of lashing out at his answer, the lioness was utterly mystified. “{How… I’m not saying you lack the talent for it but… how did you go from learning Elemental Reinforcement to carving your Magic Circuits?}”

 

Rakna shrugged. “I don’t really know myself. While I was trying to find a way to kindle the mana inside my body, I got distracted and went on a small tangent.”

 

“{Small?}” She interjected with a blank voice.

 

“Fine, a rather big tangent. Then, I kind of thought that the way my mana was shaped and molded into star energy was too inefficient. After that, I did just as you said; I followed my gut feeling.”

 

“{If only my definition of gut feeling was the same as yours… Did you learn what you wanted at least?}”

 

“Partially. I got a hybrid skill,” Rakna responded and with a small frown. He closed his eyes and activated Cold Star Reinforcement. Overall, the effect was similar to before and he barely could see any difference from his normal one.

 

“This is five mana per minute…” He muttered then increased it to ten.

 

Once again, he felt stronger but nothing else. He then made it twenty and something started to happen. His skin began to release a cold mist on its own and the color of his hair and fur began to lighten. At thirty mana, he saw faint marks under his skin, representing his Magic Circuits. At fifty mana, his hair was close to being gray.

 

“I can go farther than before,” he muttered and increased it to a hundred. The temperature around him fell drastically and his hair was getting silvery. Rakna looked at himself and decided to hold it at this level.

 

After a bit of consideration, he extended his claws and used them to pierce his own hand. He didn’t even flinch at the pain and watched grimly as his blood flowed down his palm. There was nothing wrong with that.

 

The color though was. It wasn’t red but light pink. Just like his hair, his blood was gradually getting closer to a whitish chromatic. There were also faint hints of sky blue along with it.

 

The next thing that Rakna observed was how the injury he had made to himself rapidly closed and left no trace behind. This wasn’t the work of his Lesser Regeneration and it had looked like the cut was clogged by raw star energy before turning into normal flesh.

 

Rakna turned off his skill, not wanting to waste all of his mana, and panted lightly at the toll that it had put on him. “I’m not sure how to take this skill,” he ultimately said.

 

“{It seems to be a skill that temporarily changes the composition of your body,}” Higure remarked after watching through his eyes. “{If I understand it right, this could probably make you immortal for as long as you have mana. Though, healing bigger wounds will probably be very expensive.}”

 

Rakna sighed. “I already have too many skills to worry about,” he grumbled. “How do the older Hosts keep track of everything?”

 

“{You’ll get used to it.}”

 

“Right… anyway. This is all I wanted to do. The good thing is I’m not crippled anymore, but I’ll still take my time on the First Plateau. I do want to learn blacksmithing, after all,” he said and flew off, heading back to where Pronos and Tyran were.

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