Chapter 30: The Garden (3)
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For those of you who read the previous chapter 30, I feel that there's enough of a difference between the two to warrant a reread, but you could still skip this and not miss anything.

I spent the next few weeks visiting the garden and talking to Lucan. Throughout our conversations, I learned a good amount about his past. He was the son of a lesser noble and decided to focus on plant magic because of a book he read in his childhood. The book's name was Tales of Eccentric Magus and was an anthology of short stories dedicated to anecdotes of great wizards. While the authenticity of these stories is lost to history, Lucan told me of the story that set him down his path. The story went like this:

 

In a kingdom long forgotten to time, the king was facing an unsolvable dilemma. For the third year in a row, the kingdom's crops failed to grow. While the kingdom could afford to import food, if the agricultural problem wasn't resolved soon, the kingdom would face an insurmountable financial crisis. To combat the future problems, the king consulted his ministers almost weekly regarding the crops, however, none of their efforts proved fruitful. After much deliberation, the king decided to hire a royal magician specifically for agriculture. When this news was announced, magicians from all corners of the world flocked to the kingdom. 

During the interviews, the king and his ministers were face to face with an unusual magician. Unlike the other magicians focusing on plant magic, this magician dressed in clothes more suitable for a nomad. When the magician was asked what his qualifications were, he said that he was the reason the Flial Forest was created. The king was perplexed when he heard that, while there was no Flial Forest on any map, there was a Flial Desert. 

When the king asked the magician if he mispoke, the magician simply smiled and said "It was called the Flial Desert before I visited it." 

That was the end of the story. I asked Lucan if the king hired the magician, or the kingdom's crop problem was ever resolved, but he simply shrugged and said the book never included it. In fact, he said he couldn't find a Flial Forest or Flial Desert in any history book he picked up. 

To be quite honest, I wasn't too sure how this story inspired him to become a magician focusing on plants, or why he even liked it. However, there was no point speculating on his past.

Besides talking about his past, we also started conversed about botany in general. In our conversations, Lucan told me of some surprising benefits of my inability to manipulate energy. Similar to my world, there were a wide variety of plants present in this world, from plants resembling weeds to plants resembling a Venus Flytrap to plants that would be regarded as aliens in my world. Contrary to my world, almost all plants utilize energy in some way. As a result, because I have no mana or ki, many plant mechanisms wouldn't work on me. The drawback to this benefit was that some plants would be able to outright kill or injure me with relative ease. Lucan's gave me a simple example.

"The Salamander Thyme has a defensive mechanism that causes it to close its bud when it senses internal energy in large amounts near it. In this case, large amounts of mana refers to essentially any animal. For you, it would be relatively simple to take the fruit of the Salamander Thyme without it closing the bud. On the contrary, the Fenwort's defensive mechanism is to release an air blast. While everyone else can defend with internal energy, you would just get thrown back. Of course, I should mention that most lethal plant mechanisms only exist in the monster territory, plants near this area should be generally harmless..."

All in all, I did enjoy talking to Lucan. Our conversations helped me fill in a lot of gaps in my general knowledge (such as the fact that mana and ki fall under a general category known as internal energy), and I could talk to someone casually without walking to the prison. Some parts of our conversation were boring, but it was always interesting seeing how much Lucan could talk about plants.

Today, while I was relaxing in Lucan's garden, he suddenly brought up a strange topic.

"I've been thinking about this for around a week and a half now, but you and the prodigy magician get along pretty well huh? I guess it's natural considering both of you are outcasts."

I was slightly confused by his statement, I don't think I've ever spoken about Kasa unless it was in passing. I decided to answer him honestly.

"Yeah we're good friends, actually, our relation is probably closer to brother and sister."

When I said that Lucan raised his brow and smiled wryly, "Are you sure it's just friends?" He then continued with a slightly wider grin and spoke "Just brother and sister?" 

At this point I was getting rather confused, Lucan didn't seem like the kind of person to make statements like this out of the blue. But before I could say anything, he continued.

"You don't have to hide it from me, liking someone is nothing to be embarrassed about. You know, when I was your age, besides plants, I had an interest in-" Before he could continue talking, I interjected him and spoke with a stern voice.

"What are you talking about, Kasa and I are just siblings."

"I said it before, but you don't have to hide it from me. I don't treat you like the others in the mansion." 

With an even lower voice, I spoke again.

"There is nothing romantic between us."

"I said it before but..." Lucan tried speaking again but trailed off as I stared and interjected him.

"Nothing."

"Really, nothing?"

"Nothing at all." 

"Alright, I get your point, you can cease staring at me like that. But that's incredibly peculiar..." 

When I heard what Lucan said, I relaxed and had a sigh of relief. While I may not be the oldest person in this world, I am ~30, I feel absolutely nothing for a child and hate being accused of liking one. 

Still, I couldn't help but be curious, why would Lucan say something like that?

"Why did you think that I liked Kasa in the first place?"

"What are you talking about, anyone would've thought that because it comes straight out of the 3 tales from the library doesn't it?"

"I don't understand what you're talking about?"

Lucan scoffed and stared at me.

"Do you think I'm a fool? There's no way anyone wouldn't know... if it happened... to them..." He slowly stopped speaking and I saw his pupils dilate.

With a slightly nervous voice, he started speaking again.

"Do you really not know?"

At this point my back was starting to sweat, I had a hunch that I hoped was false.

"Just say it, I really don't know what you're talking about."

Lucan started speaking slowly.

"I'm not 100% confident, but I am around 80% confident, that girl, she put tracking magic on you for at least more than a week. To be honest, it may have been even longer."

At that moment, I felt like I was a deer in the headlights.

And so it begins

 

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