A Study of Magic
Editors: Sebas Tian, Speedphoenix, Joker
“Ugh…” I loosed a sort of lethargic groan as I lay in a position that could only be described as awkward. My face was on the floor and my arms were sprawled all over. Meanwhile, my feet lay resting atop the throne. While I couldn’t deny that the groan did have something to do with my awkward posture, it wasn’t by any means the root cause.
“Is something the matter, my lord?” Leila, who had noticed my interesting pose, had approached in an attempt to uncover the source of my behaviour.
“Oh, hey Leila,” I craned my neck to greet her while handing her the book I had obtained from the town we visited. My attempts at processing it had all led to no avail. “It’s this goddamn book.”
“Is that perhaps a book about magic circuits?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Crafting Zaien had sent me over the moon. With the resulting tailwind at my back, I had promptly begun investigating the magic circuits I needed to strengthen it even further—only to be bricked in the face by reality. Being all gung ho was great, but it didn’t exactly do anything to help fill the holes in my knowledge. In other words, I still didn’t understand the things I had started off not comprehending.
The three magic circuit related books I had bought were labelled to contain elementary, intermediate, and advanced concepts respectively. I had obviously started with the easiest of the three, but even that was apparently far beyond anything that I could grasp. Even the book on elementary concepts seemed to assume that the reader already had some degree of proficiency in the subject matter at hand.
Of course, I knew literally nothing about the theory of magic. There had never been any point in learning it given that I could create any phenomenon simply by imagining it. But now, everything had seemed to backfire. My attempt to turn Zaien into a symbol of calamity, a blade infamous for its overwhelming power, had caused me to descend into an endless abyss of confusion.
“Would you like me to teach you?” But just as I was about to give up, Leila extended her hand through the darkness and offered me salvation.
“Wait, you know this stuff?” I immediately pushed myself off the ground, the fire in my eyes burning anew.
“I do,” she said. “My knowledge of this sort of magic was precisely what I used to put bread on the table in the past.”
“Please and thanks then.”
I immediately took the maid up on her offer with a smile.
“Do you remember what I taught you about modern magical techniques, my lord? Specifically, the methods by which they are activated.”
“Uhhhh…” I paused for a bit. “I think it was something like… you chant to create a frame for the spell then pour mana into it in order to complete it?”
“That is correct. Magic circuits use letters and patterns to express the very same frame the caster would normally construct with a chant. And like any other frame, pouring magical energy into it completes it and transforms it into a spell,” said Leila. “To equate this to the primordial magic that you are more accustomed to, drawing the magic circuit is no different from forming the image of a spell within your mind.”
“Wow uh, you make it all sound simple. Why’d the book have to make it seem so friggen complicated?”
Man, I really should’ve just asked Leila from the start. To hell with the book.
“That would be to dissuade the common folk from learning magic,” the maid said matter-of-factly. “Magic is a powerful weapon and an easily concealed one at that. Those in positions of power have mandated that magical texts be phrased in a manner difficult for those lacking knowledge in the field to understand. That, however, does not happen to apply to demons, as we regard magic as a fundamental skill that all members of our species must learn.”
In other words, the overcomplicated textbooks were the government’s way of regulating the distribution of magical knowledge. Huh. I guess it’s kinda like how those that lorded over Japan’s Sengoku era would confiscate swords en masse in order to ensure that their reigns remained stable.
Adventurers and people working in other similar trades would still have access to magic and pass on their knowledge of it to their peers, but as far as the brass was concerned, that wasn’t a problem. They knew that adventurers were dangerous; they were often visibly armed with all sorts of weaponry. The ruling class felt much more threatened by the prospect of the arms remaining hidden. That is, they didn’t want to have to worry about getting attacked by the average Joe even in the case that he lacked any sort of visible weaponry. Yeah uhhh… I can kinda see why they wouldn’t want that.
“As I was saying, each individual magic circle can be split into several distinct modules,” said Leila. She began drawing on the whiteboard as she spoke, one that I had originally bought in order to make it easier for Illuna to study. “Let us start with a simple example in the form of the Fireball spell. The three modules that make up the Fireball circuit implement the functions that allow the caster to create the fireball, establish control over it, and launch it. It is no difficult task to take the implementation a step further and apply a module that allows one to either affect its trajectory mid-flight or alter its form.”
Leila had drawn an entire diagram on the board by the time she finished speaking. The magic circle penned by the demonic maid was of the exact modular design that she had described; it was comprised of several smaller circuits that came together to form a whole.
“Uhhhh… wow. I gotta say, I’m impressed with how much you seem to know about all this.”
“These are just the basics,” she chuckled. “I must say, my lord, this board of yours is quite convenient. So much so, in fact, that I am starting to lament not having had one to work with in the past.”
And so, Ms. Leila’s classes on magic circuits continued.
All the magic circuits she taught me were much like the first. They were all made up of smaller modules that could be combined to create a whole. However, they were benign. Apparently, magic circuits could not be activated unless they were drawn from start to end and in a single go; the two ends had to meet before the marker left the whiteboard. I guess that means it’s kinda like how I have to make my mana circulate through my body before casting primordial magic.
Unlike primordial spells, however, magic circuits had to remain fairly small scale. They needed to be as compact as possible, as it became difficult for magical energy to flow through them otherwise.
“Wait. Do magic circuits have to be drawn on flat surfaces or something?”
“Like, the whole thing doesn’t all have to be on the same plane, does it? Can’t you like, put different parts of it on different parts of the thing you’re trying to enhance?”
The idea I had in mind was to carve a magical circuit into a three-dimensional object, as one would in the kinda software that let you make models. Doing that would allow the circuit to remain fairly compact even with a larger magical algorithm. That is, it would eliminate the mana flow problem without compromising the spell’s complexity.
“Well, you see…” I had begun explaining my thoughts to her, but cut myself off before I dug too deep into the weeds. “Actually, y’know what, nevermind. What I thought up is like, super obvious, so I’m sure someone’s already tried it and failed, so yeah. Forget it.”
I waited for the maid’s response, but none came.
“Uhhh, Hello? Leila? Earth to Leila?” I tried giving her a verbal prod or two in order to get her to stop spacing out. Only then did she suddenly come back from her daydream, but what she did next was something that almost seemed to completely shatter the nonchalant impression I had of her. She grabbed my hand with hers and began speaking in a tone that reeked of excitement.
“That’s an incredible idea, my lord! I believe you may have just made the greatest breakthrough in the study of magic in the modern age!”
“Everyone that has studied magic circuits has always assumed that a flat surface was necessary, but that assumption is one that holds no ground. The method you described is precisely what is needed in order to increase each spell’s complexity without necessitating a decrease in the resulting circuit’s ability to process magical energy! I’m sorry, my lord, but I will have to excuse myself! I have something that I must immediately attend to!”
Leila dashed off and made a beeline straight for her room the moment I gave her my consent.
“Though I really would’ve liked it if you had at least finished this lesson up first…”
Editor’s note (Joker): Hey, guys! Joker here. Sorry, can’t really pull out my usual charm and pizzazz right now. Damn near suffered a micro fracture in my right arm, and it’s still bruised all to high hell, so typing doesn’t really feel too good. Hopefully by the time boss gets the next chapter done, it’ll be better and I can go back to the Joker you all know and love, or love to hate. Whichever. All right, we got five letters in the mailbox today, so big thanks to asterthegamer, Zehd Cashew, mind break, kx, and Teru. Remember, if you’ve got a question you’d like answered, leave it down below with the hashtag #AskJoker and I’ll reply directly to you. Get noticed by your senpai today! Hah. See y’all in the next chapter!