CHAPTER 1 – Oh god, spirits
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In the Great Forest of Illusions, there were two spirits that made friends with a young divorakk boy. They played all day and watched as the boy would practice his magic. He wasn't talented with magic by any means, but he was incredibly resourceful and never gave up even when his progress was slower than most.

But one day, the peaceful life of the spirits were shook by the revelation that the forest's guardian deity was being suppressed by a malignant force. One that combined the dark arts and human technology. A kind of magic that was known to be hidden away by a certain individual, and was banned from ever being used again.

"Doomtech… The Goddess has been weakened. We must tell the divorakks of the first frontier to evacuate." A High Wind Spirit said, he put out an order to immediately warn the divorakks that resided in the shallower parts of the forest to hide. Not knowing that, because of the malevolent technology, the revelation was a week late.

When the messenger spirits arrived in the villages, they couldn't help but fall to their knees and pray for forgiveness from their Goddess.

The divorakk villages—once thriving with the liveliest and happiest inhabitants—in the shallow parts of the forest have been pillaged and every single one of them razed to the ground. All of the divorakks were taken, none were left.

Except for one particular boy, who stood at the edge of his burnt village, eyes wide and unbelieving at the sight of his beloved home in ruins.

"Oh, I get it! This must be an illusion right?" Clailip said with a shaky voice, the two spirits can tell that he was on the verge of tears. "The Goddess loves Illusions. Of course she'll do something like this. A prank of sorts." Clailip's face was twitching, almost scrunching up, but not quite, it was obvious that the boy was trying to stop himself from crying.

"See,The ashes-" He grabbed a handful of ashes and then let it fall back to the ground, he watched with despair as he saw the ashes mingle with the wind and slowly fall back down to the ground covered in black soot. "No… wait, the ashes… they're supposed to disappear… this is… Simoy, Lawod, this isn't real. Right?" His tiny voice cracked as his eyes prepared to release the budding tears, drenching his cheeks went a pale pink as he struggled to breathe. He stood there, a distant look in his eyes, as if he was processing everything in front of him.

But, after a few minutes of just standing there, seeming to be deep in thought, Clailip took a deep breath and wiped away the tears that were threatening to fall. He beamed, 'Smiling releases those things called end-dolphins, right?' He thought.

"It's no use crying right now… Simoy, Lawod, tell me. I may be very young, but I'm not dumb—I think anyway—but did you and the other spirits lead me away from the village knowing this would happen?" He asked, his voice was still shaking, his tone was cheery and happy, but tainted with melancholy. It sounded like he was a hair's breadth away from crying.

"... We did. But it isn't what you think, me Lawod, and the other spirits are low rank elementals. We normally can't communicate with anyone, but you're special, so we led you into the forest to keep you safe." Simoy, a wind spirit, telepathically said.

"We wanted to warn the other divorakks too… but by the time we noticed the intruders… it would have been impossible to get you to relay a message and save anyone. In fact, ny doing that, you may have been caught up in the fighting. We did what we could." Lawod added.

Clailip took a few minutes to process the information, the two spirits were worried that he would lash out at them.

"...Are they dead?" Clailip asked a nearby wisp that seemed to have witnessed the tragedy. His mark was quickly dimming, a sign that he was currently experiencing a heavy onslaught of emotions.

The wisp flew up and down, left and right, seemingly trying to communicate with Clailip. The boy nodded and looked at the wisp with determined eyes, making sense of the wisp's literal body language. The two elementals couldn't help but make faces as they watched the boy and the wisp communicate.

They knew the boy could communicate with unspeaking spirits without much effort, but they didn't expect him to understand wisps—lower elemental life-forms that were the lowest forms of elemental spirit—so they just watched as they thought that the boy had gone mad from the grief. They couldn't blame him, he was only five, and as far as they knew wasn't exposed to any kind of mental duress. So they couldn't blame him at all for acting the way he does.

"So they captured them alive? Do you know why?" Clailip asked the wisp.

The blue wisp bounced once more, as Clailip nodded. He thanked the spirit and gave it his mana to consume, which made the wisp bounce happily in turn.

"The wisp said that no one was killed and they were all taken alive. She doesn't know why though." Clailip translated the wisp's musings to the two elementals in front of him. "So no need for sad times!"

"You can understand wisps?" Simoy asked the boy, genuinely surprised.

"Yep, as clear as I can understand you and other spirits." He answered nonchalantly, like it wasn't a big deal. He didn't realize that this wasn't something one could normally do.

"Well, he is the grandchild of those four… They could understand even the whispers of the wind and the rushing of the water. So, in hindsight, it isn't a surprise that their grandchild can talk to wisps." Lawod thought out loud.

"Are my grandparents really that amazing?" Clailip asked Lawod, genuinely interested in how renowned his grandparents really were. He saw them as heroes that could beat anything down and the more he hears about them the higher his regard for them grows. He looked up at Lawod with sparkling eyes, mostly due to the fact that his eyes were still glazed with tears, he smiled giddily and asked the water spirit this question.

"Indeed, they are extremely talented divorakks. The Goddess herself acknowledges your grandparents' skill. In fact, if those four were here then the village would have been untouched. Though, I do wonder..." Simoy answered the boy's queries, he found it adorable how his eyes would sparkle whenever his grandparents were the topic of the conversation.

"Oh…" Clailip's mood dampened, it seemed that he missed his grandparents, he hasn't seen them for over a year, after all, and the next time he would be able to see them was supposed to be next year. Though, with the village being burnt down to the ground, he doubted that he'd see them anytime soon.

"Do not worry, Clailip. Your grandparents hold you dearly in their hearts. When they are finished with their business in the North they will surely do their best in trying to find you and everyone that has been captured by those intruders." Simoy comforted the boy.

"You're right." Clailip said, "I guess I should try and survive until then… but I don't really want to rely on the spirits too much. You've all done so much for me, I have to be able to depend on myself to some extent." He fumbled in place as he wondered what to say next.

The two spirits were about to say that he could depend on them as long as he needed, as they were his friends. But they stopped themselves, thinking that this may upset the boy somehow.

"Ah, can you two teach me any offensive spell? I'm not really strong enough to hunt yet and I still can't control my magic… But it still wouldn't hurt to learn how to defend myself." Clailip asked the two spirits.

"We can, but first we must know how large your mana capacity is. We cannot teach you an offensive spell if it isn't big enough yet, as you could end up hurting yourself. Divorakks might be powerful magicians but you're still a young child, and your mana pool is still growing." Lawod explained to the eager boy.

"Huh? Wait, how do I do that? I don't think anyone's told me how to find out what my mana capacity is. Is there a spell or something that I can use?" The boy asked. He looked very confused with Lawod's words.

"You don't know how to check your status?" The water spirit asked.

"To be fair, Lawod, the village he lives in, doesn't make use of the status board. They're a very traditional divorakk village after all." Simoy defended Clailip, whose face was distorted with confusion. Lawod looked as if he realized something and said a quick apology.

"It's simple, just close your eyes and feel the mana inside your body, then say 'Status'" Lawod was about to demonstrate how but then remembered that unlike spirits; divorakks can't see the pure form of mana. So he just stood still and watched the boy attempt the simple spell.

"Status." Clailip muttered.

"I have… 203,190 points of mana. Is that good?" Clailip naively asked.

The spirits were about to be outraged by this revelation, until they realized that his lineage would explain his ridiculous mana capacity.

"Well… even by normal divorakk standards it would be a very big mana pool… but your grandparents are definitely not normal… not to mention your parents had bigger mana pools at your age too, so you would have inherited their traits… Your family really is deserving of the 'Diancia' name." The wind spirit said in exasperation.

"Diancia…? That's my last name. What's so special about it?" Clailip suddenly grew more and more curious about his lineage.

"Oh, Diancia is among the twelve surnames that has been given to twelve divorakks by Lady Diana herself. This means that your ancestor did something to please Lady Diana, and subsequently received her divine blessing and a surname from her. But of course divine blessings are not passed down, so don't be too upset if you don't have her blessing. Your surname is proof enough of your amazing lineage." Lawod patted the boy on his head, leaving a wet spot where he touched. The boy liked the damp feeling and briefly played with his hair before getting back on track.

"Woah… Lawod how come you know all this stuff? Are you just a very old man that likes looking like a young adult?" Clailip asked the water spirit, Simoy couldn't help but let out a snicker but quickly stopped when he realized that he and Lawod were just around the same age.

"No! Well- Yes- But-" Lawod let out a frustrated groan when he realized he couldn't really defend himself as he actually is choosing to look like a human male. Or, well, at least something similar to a human male, he lacked facial features.

"Eugh, anyway, do you have any skills that you think will be useful in a fight?" Simoy asked the boy, who was currently giggling at Lawod's flustered state.

"Oh, well I guess I found out that I have one weird skill." Clailip looked as if he just realized something.

"I have a unique skill called Spiritual Manipulation at level one." He said, as if it wasn't a big deal. He didn't really have an idea how valuable skills are, he just knew that everyone had at least one unique skill at birth.

"Interesting…" Lawod thought out loud as Simoy looked wide eyed at the both of them, seemingly dumbfounded by their lack of reaction.

"'Interesting'? That's all you can say? The boy has 'that' gift!" Simoy said, surprised at Clailip's revelation.

"Well, I'm not really surprised, he can talk to lesser elemental spirits and has a good affinity with them. I mean, he can even understand wisps. I would be more surprised if he didn't have a specific skill that allows this kind of thing." Lawod then turned to Simoy, "That said, do you think that maybe he can… you know?" Lawod gave Simoy a look.

"Interesting thought… maybe he can." Simoy returned the look.

"What? What can? Are you guys talking about me?" Clailip looked annoyed, he didn't like butting into adult conversations but he was the elephant in the room and the behaviour of the two was greatly irritating him.

"Simoy." Lawod gestured for the wind spirit to explain.

"Right, well, can you do something for us? Like an experiment of sorts. Can you create some sort of humanoid vessel using the earth?" Simoy cleared his throat before elaborating. "Your unique skill is very interesting indeed, and I've seen you exchanging mana with other lower elementals. We would like to know if you can use your skill to create physical bodies for elementals."

"Why? I can't even use earth magic, or control my normal magic, how am I supposed to do something like that?" Clailip asked.

"Well, first off you can have your own personal guards then, and you would have companions other than us. Second, you can use your natural attributes instead—which if I'm not mistaken are water, air, and by proxy of those two core attributes mixing, ice too—since you can't make physical bodies out of water and air, and you can barely use your ice magic, just giving lower elementals the right type of mana should be enough for them to take form. Normally, making elemental golems can only be done by magical experts, but your skill might make doing it as simple as that."

"My head hurts." Clailip held his head as the overload of information overwhelmed him, he quickly calmed down though and nodded at the water spirit.

He felt the spirits around him, the gusts that wind sprites provide, the moisture that water sprites spread, and the cool air that ice sprites make. He called one from each individual category, and let them rest on his palm.

He then started to feed the spirits directly mana that corresponded to their elements, they reacted gleefully and started dancing on his palm, happy that they were being given attention and that they were feeling more powerful by the second.

"Normal mages definitely can't feed elementals their mana directly, right? Even specialists have a hard time." Simoy commented as he watched the elementals gaining power right in front of him. "Exchanging mana is one thing, but to directly feed is something else entirely."

"This reminds me, his grandmother, Lucia, did something like this once right? It must have been an inherited skill then." Lawod replied.

"Mmm, though, Little Lucy's methodology is different, it's still the same in principles. They are not completely the same skills, so Clay's skill might have more effects." Simoy added.

"Simoy, she's already three hundred years old. It's inappropriate to keep calling her little." Lawod complained.

"Well, we're as old as this forest, tens of thousands of years old. Little Lucy is but a toddler compared to us."

"And yet here we are, still low ranked elemental spirits, while she's having her own grand adventures in the North. If I knew how slow life would be in the forest I would have signed the contract she offered me." Lawod felt a little depressed.

"Isn't he taking a long time though? Little Lucy managed to form the elemental sprite's bodies in less than ten seconds."

"Mmm, Clay isn't that good with handling mana. To be fair, the bigger the mana pool the harder it is to control it. Though, he is very smart, crafty, and resourceful. I wouldn't be surprised if he ends up being a prodigy in magical arrays."

"Right, didn't he make a magic circle yesterday despite us just telling him how it worked? It was surprising to say the least."

"He made a simple mana transferring circle right? It's the most elementary of all arrays, but definitely impressive for a five year old."

And so their talk concluded when a light suddenly flashed in front of them, signifying the transformation of the elemental sprites. They looked on in fascination as the sprites turned into slightly humanoid forms.

Slightly, because their bodies were unrefined and had odd shapes that could be seen in the right angles. Afar they'd definitely be mistaken for humanoids, but if you look closely then you'd find them weirdly proportioned.

They seemed to take the form of adults, there were two males and one female elemental spirit that kneeled in front of him.

The two spirits couldn't hear what exactly they said to Clailip, as it was all telepathy, but Clailip seemed surprised and started shaking his head, seemingly trying to deny something that the newly-born spirits were saying.

Then, Clailip walked over to Lawod and Simoy, a worried expression on his face.

"They're worshipping me. Saying that they'd die for me and would gladly give up their newly made bodies to serve as my shield. I don't want that, I want to be their friend, can you guys tell them to quit being so creepy?" Clailip asked the two spirits.

"Ah, it's only natural. Don't worry, you'll have to get used to it. You gave them a body and your mana, to a spirit that's like breathing life into them and giving them a whole new purpose." Lawod explained.

"Why didn't you tell me this earlier!?" Clailip whined, childishly stomping his feet in frustration. It disturbed the black soot beneath them and whipped up a small cloud of smoke, Clailip coughed a few times, his lungs irritated by the black substance.

"We didn't know you'd have such a strong reaction. No matter, at least now you know."

"What do I do now then?" Clailip asked, his voice was still very whiny, if this was his old life he would have been slapped for using such an annoying voice.

Simoy and Lawod looked at each other for a second, seemingly communicating with each other. "Just let them fight and gain experience, train them a bit so they can become good guards to protect you." Lawod told the whining boy.

"But I don't know how to fight… and Lady Diana's teaching forbids unnecessary fighting. I can't just go around and start killing some random animals." Clailip sulked as he started thinking that his hard work pouring mana into sprites was all for nothing.

"You don't need to fight unnecessarily, you don't even need to know how to fight. Just let them spar with each other. Spirits learn at a very fast pace. Some elemental warriors are self taught and only fought with rocks and trees." Lawod quickly fashioned a spear with his hands and walked over to the newborn spirits, intending to teach them how to make weapons using their bodies.

"Oh, cool!" Clailip said with excitement as he watched Lawod instruct the newborns how to move and fight, though Lawod isn't actually a fighting spirit, being the friend of Clailip's grandmother had the effect of him knowing basic fighting styles.

The newborns clumsily copied Lawod, they sparred and moved in ways that could barely be called fighting. But soon after, they started picking up their pace and sparring with newfound vigor, if one were to rank them, they would have the moves of an inexperienced farmer trying to fight for the first time.

Simoy and Clailip watched in amazement as the three spirits started to train earnestly, vowing to get stronger to protect the one that gave them their body. Lawod walked back towards Clailip and Simoy with a triumphant air around him.

"As long as they keep up this pace then they should be able to defeat at least a large bear in a week or two."

"Mm, make that a few days. Look, Lawod, their mana flow…" Simoy pointed at the spirits, which were fighting each other with makeshift weapons made with their bodies.

"You're right. It must be an effect of Clay's skill." Lawod seemed exhausted, he hasn't felt this way for as long as Clailip's parents and grandparents were children. 'Seriously, his family is always full of surprises.' He thought.

"What is?" Clailip asked.

"Their bodies are getting stronger at a really fast rate, the mana they're taking in from the environment into their body is growing at a steady pace. At this point they may become proper warriors in just a few months. Though, that's when this growth period may end. Every living thing passes through a developmental wall that would impede their growth harshly, it takes a long time to break through this wall." Simoy sighed.

"Oh. Have you hit that wall yet?"

"Yes, and I'm very insecure about it. So I would appreciate you not bringing it up again."

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