18 History of Cultivation PT. 3
"A mage's duties simply extend to the exploration of the unknown, into understanding the complexity behind the elemental particles. Dwelling too deeply into the theories we have uncovered so far would take away from the already limited time I have with you. Instead, a brief overview should answer a few questions of yours."
Elder Xing walked forward and raised his arm. Two dots of light flew out and spun, intertwined around his arm. "I am a practitioner of light and dark. I was first introduced onto this path at the age of 7, coming from a long line of royal court mages. My affinity was predetermined at birth, though this may not be the case for all people. It has been noted that exposure to a certain element, or severe situations, can force the human consciousness to adapt to said element. Dormant powers also exist, where you may have had an affinity to a certain element, but did not know it until something came up in which you were specifically guided to master that element. These types of powers are generalized into two categories, natural born and induced. Bear with me, as this lesson is quite compact, and is important to your understanding of this world. These are things we can't just brush over, as it builds upon the very foundation of the mage's path. While natural born and induced mages may share the power to control the same elements, they share several key differences. A natural born fire mage will have a stronger control over the flames he uses, and will find it easier to connect with fire, while induced mage will have much stronger flames"
"In that case, isn't it better to be an induced mage?" Bai Qi questioned. "Especially for combat, in which an induced mage will be much more powerful."
"While induced mages have stronger flames on the same level, they cannot boast the same precision and connection to their powers as a natural born. Similar to the accomplished swordsman, whose techniques stand unrivaled, versus the raw power of a warrior, whose every strike brings forth his full power, both the natural and the induced have their points, high and low," Elder Xing explained. "Now as I was saying, people generally fall into one of the two categories, and I happen to be a natural born. After I turned 12, I was formally introduced into the academy, and became a Grade 4 mage when I was 20. My lessons in the academy consisted of the full history of magic and training to control my elements. We, unfortunately, do not have that sort of time with you, as I have a bit under 3 months to make you fit to compete in the annual tournament. The first thing we need to establish is to what extent you control your elements."
"Other than making the orbs, not much," Bai Qi replied.
"Do you need to incant anything while making them, either out loud or in your mind?"
"Not that I'm aware of. I sort of feel the orbs forming and the elements listing to my will, taking shape."
"So it seems Da Lao's words hold true. You are at the level of a Grade 4 mage, though you lack understanding of the power you can harness."
"Seems that way," Bai Qi replied.
"Do you know the significance of the grades yet?" Elder Xing asked.
Elder Xing waved his arm, and in front of him an apparition of man appeared. "A Grade 1 mage has a basic understanding of his or her element. I will use fire as it is the easiest and most visually distinctive element for examples. This mage has the ability to borrow the power of the elements through the use of elemental relics and chants. The chants provide the ability to shape the mages thoughts into the action of the element, while the relics guide the elements to do the mages bidding. At this stage, the most a mage can do is the simplest spells, such as a fireball."
The man raised his arm. He had on a necklace, as well as a few rings that started glowing as he chanted out words that seemed to have no meaning, but held some sort of power. A ball of flames formed in front of him, and the figure hurled the fireball.
"A Grade 2 mage is not far from that, the only distinction being the ability to partially shorten the chant, by forming a better connection with the element. He or she will start to touch upon the stage of nonverbal chants."
In this case, the man formed the fireball much faster, albeit he still needed to chant.
"A Grade 3 mage doesn't require a verbal chant for most spells, and has a much more advanced control over spells, such as creating multiple fireballs form at the same time, forming a wall out of flames, or even producing basic shapes using the fire. Using verbal spells for him would mean longer casting time, though more powerful spells, or a greater degree of control. A Grade 4 however is when people begin to channel the power of the elements through their body as a medium, and begins to touch upon the very essence of elementals. They start to begin to communicate with the elemental powers at will, and can twist and turn the power just by merely thinking. This is where you are right now, and this is the required rank any mage has to be in before they can be considered a full mage, rather than an apprentice. They will receive their title from the academia they are in."
The man used the fire to punch out, and fire coating his arms, following the path he set.
"Higher ranked mages differ in key aspects, though I will not bother to completely draw it out for you. Usually the higher the rank a mage is, the stronger degree of power and control they have over their respective element. Do you understand?"
Bai Qi nodded.
"Good. Now that we have that out of the way, let's start with your training. I will not bother with vocal."
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Elder Xing raised his arm and grabbed his walking stick. He tapped once on the ground and an intricate magic circle formed, teleporting a basket in front of him. The basket was about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Inside the basket was what looked like very small glass beads.
Elder Xing picked up some of the beads by cupping his hand, and raised it to Bai Qi's face. "Inside my hand, there are nearly 300 individual beads. Out of them, some have a strand of the pure fire element, some have a strand of pure earth, and some don't have a strand." He dropped the beads back into the basket, and tapped once again on the ground, 3 smaller, but empty baskets appearing next to him. "Your first stage of training will be to sort out all the beads. You are not allowed to leave until you finish. Meals will come every 5 hours, and after the third meal, you will be allowed to sleep 8 hours, the sky will dim itself. Do you understand?"
Bai Qi looked stupefied. "That's all for training? I thought you were going to teach me?"
Elder Xing looked at Bai Qi with an irate expression. "I do not have time to personally teach you every moment of the waking day, as I have other responsibilities as the head mage of the city. As a favor to Da Lao, a close friend of mine, I have agreed to get you ready for the yearly competition, nothing more. That is all I have to say. What happens next is up to you. If you want to leave, I will inform Da Lao, and we will part our ways."
With that, he turned around and a door formed in front of him. After opening the door, Elder Xing said, "If you give up, just yell out, the void will let me know."
"Yes," Elder Xing said exasperated. "The place you are in right now. It will let me know if anything happens. I have to go now."
Elder Xing walked through the door, and the door vanished on it's own.
"The void?" Bai Qi was confused. "Is it alive or something?"
Bai Qi walked up to the basket, and squatted, looking inside. The beads were all the same color and looked like identical glass spheres that were around a quarter the size of marbles. "How am I supposed to sort these?"
He picked up two of the beads and brought them close to his face, peering inside the glass. "They look identical. Are they marked or something?"
Rummaging through the basket provided futile, as all the beads looked exactly the same.
Bai Qi sat down, crossing his legs. He took one of the beads, and concentrated on it, trying to feel for the elemental strand Eder Xing was talking about. He closed his eyes, trying to visualize the bead in his mind, and attempting to peer inside.
After a few minutes, Bai Qi gave up. "This is useless. He probably gave me this to make me give up so that he could tell Da Lao I'm useless."
* 'That's a fire bead. Now suck it up and try again until you can tell for yourself.' *
"Oh great, look who's back. Where were you for the last few hours when Elder Xing was going over the history of Elementalism?"
* 'Asleep,' the thing responded. 'It takes energy to show you those dreams, you know.' *
"About those dreams," Bai Qi responded. "Where are they from"
The thing grew silent. For a few moments it didn't speak.
* 'Elements resonate with each other, so instead of focusing on the bead, try to send a strand of your element and feel for the resonance.' *
After saying that, the area around the thing grew dark again, completely obscuring it once again.