༺ Magic Is No Joke ༻
After shouting at me, the Regressor stretched out her hand. Simultaneously, it seemed as though her arm had been cut off from her elbow.
No, it wasn’t cut off. Looking at it more carefully, she had cleaved a hole in space and was putting her hand through the fissure. The upper half of her arm was still visible, but the lower half had just disappeared somewhere. It was just like sticking your arm out the window.
The only difference was that the window in question was a literal hole in space.
A personal spatial dimension called a ‘Pocket’. It was the only one in the world, and the Regressor was carrying it.
She rummaged through the spatial fissure and pulled out a round and hard object.
“Yeah! Let’s see how well you teach now!”
The object came flying at me. I extended my arm in anticipation, and my wrist was forcibly pushed back by the weight of the object. The excessive force sent tremors throughout my body.
‘I think I overstretched my ligaments.’
I stared at the Regressor for the near-death experience she had given me and then looked at the treasure that was now in my hands.
I doubted my eyes.
“Oh shit. It’s Alchemic Gold. And it’s a hyperpure sample with an alchemic value of over ten thousand alkeis. How did you…?”
Back in the day, alchemists would often transmutate different materials as per their liking. This wouldn’t just change the materials’ properties, but their value as well. Hence, people would never be able to know how much their material wealth was actually worth. Even gold couldn’t keep its value, so it was a time in which everyone doubted and feared the worth of the currency they possessed.
It was then that Alchemic Gold made its appearance.
The resource that was vital in alchemy itself had been turned into a currency with absolute value.
After giving such a valuable item in a helpful manner, the Regressor replied with indifference on her face.
“It’s an asset of mine.”
“All personal belongings should have been taken away when you were arrested.”
“It’s my spatial dimension item. Since it was in my Pocket, they couldn’t have known about it.”
The Regressor flatly dismissed it.
The Pocket. It was a treasure that could store all sorts of other treasures that couldn’t compare to normal pockets.
It truly was such a Regressor thing to be carrying around.
I pressed my nose against the Alchemic Gold and sniffed it.
“It’s not fake… right?”
“Why would I be carrying it around in the Pocket if it was a fake?”
‘That’s true. The Pocket itself would be worth over a million Alchemic Golds. I wasn’t actually doubting it. It was just an expression of surprise. Also, Alchemic Gold itself is already hard to replicate anyway because of the value the material inherently had. After alchemy became widespread, on the surface, all nations used the same method to keep counterfeiting in check.’
Obviously, the easiest way to mitigate the issue was to give the material itself value. The most common example was Alchemic Gold, which was made up of materials which in themselves had great value.
Alchemic Gold was used commonly across the world and could be used to create magic circles. If someone had some knowledge about alchemy, they could break it down and use it to make magic tools.
It was the ultimate currency with both modern economic value and material value—Alchemic Gold.
‘If it does have an alchemic value of ten thousand alkeis… I could probably recreate all my magic tools the State took away!’
“So, what’s your answer?”
I put the Alchemic Gold in my pocket and then I proceeded to forget about it.
Once Alchemic Gold went into a pocket, all feelings of gratitude would disappear. That was the rule of the backstreets. The saying ‘Greed knows no bounds’ didn’t exist for no reason after all.
“Oho! To think that this prideful warden of the State is going to fall to bribery. You are sorely mistaken! According to the act of misconduct of bribery, I will be confiscating this now!”
After scoffing at me—as if she had heard some nonsense—she grabbed two more from the fissure and waved it in the air.
“If you teach Tyrkanzyaka properly, I’ll give you two more.”
“To be honest, ever since I woke up this morning, I wanted to teach you all some magic. It just felt like a magical day, you know? So let’s learn about magic today.”
There was too much money on the line to say otherwise. I immediately stood in front of the lectern and finished my preparations.
During the entire time, the Regressor was constantly trying to convince the vampire of something.
“…Tyrkanzyaka, I’ve said it before, but I really chose not to go to middle school. It’s not that I couldn’t. Look at him. Even after graduating middle school, he’s easily swayed by a little money.”
‘It doesn’t matter what you say. I just need money to go into my pocket.’
I swallowed my pride, steeled my face, and started the lesson.
“Basically, magic is the act of overwriting the fundamental laws of the universe… You probably didn’t understand that, did you?”
All I needed to do was satisfy the vampire’s curiosity. It wasn’t going to be a boring lesson that started from the theoretical basics.
‘I’ll try to explain it as simply and concisely as possible.’
“The most important thing in magic is to establish one’s own world. But that’s easier said than done, right? It can be said that the spiritual and physical body are completely separate worlds. This is the reason why most middle schools teach magic that mediates the body and unifies the spiritual and the physical.”
I held my finger up and channelled magic into it. I could feel the mana flow up through my veins. I raised my right hand up and then did the same with my left hand, before finally tapping my palm, as if I were playing a drum.
“You will now witness a demonstration by a proficient teacher. Now, watch. Set, and check.”
The appropriate movements and the chants, combined with the fruits of the State’s rationalism could manifest magic with just the proper preparations without needing any extensive knowledge in the field.
0 level magic.
An electric current sparked from my index finger. After releasing the spark, I rubbed it against the back of my arm to discharge it.
A flame formed on my middle finger. The flame didn’t keep its shape and spread everywhere, so I had to extinguish it by waving my finger around.
My ring finger became covered in ice. It was originally supposed to just gather moisture, and even a slight mistake could freeze my finger. I grabbed it with my other hand to thaw the ice off.
Air burst off my pinky finger.
Phew. My life achievement of being at the top of my year in middle school isn’t failing me anytime soon… Even though I used mind reading to achieve it.
I extended my arms out and proudly proclaimed.
“These are just the basics. Unifying your body to shoot magic out of your fingertips… The best part of this type of magic is that you don’t have to use mental imagery to perform it!”
｢…Your fingers are bleeding.｣
The vampire said as she pointed at my hand. I looked at the fingers I had used to perform the magic.
The index finger I had discharged electricity from was cramping up.
The middle finger I had shot flames from was charred black.
The ring finger I had frozen had now swollen up.
And the pinky finger I had shot air from was now red and wrinkly.
‘Ah, now that I think about it, this hurts more than I thought it would. Four kinds of pain are pulsing through my body, so it’s kind of hard to accurately express it. But I can’t reveal that I’m in pain. Otherwise, my bluff would be called out.’
So I kept up my act with no change in expression and continued speaking.
“Like I said, magic is the act of overwriting the fundamental laws of the universe.”
｢So that’s what you did.｣
“I just overwrote the laws by using my body as the medium. On my index finger, the law that static electricity would be more powerfully discharged; on my middle finger, the law that fire would burn at a way lower temperature; on my ring finger, the law that objects are more hydrophilic; on my pinky finger; the law that wind blows stronger than it usually would in the world around us.”
It was basic magic that manifested at a local level. And that was exactly what 0 level magic was.
I opened my hand to show the evidence.
“These are the results.”
The vampire showed great curiosity.
｢It is definitely interesting. But must you always hurt your fingers while performing the magic?｣
“It can’t be helped, as I am using my body as the medium. It just so happened that the place where the laws of the world were overwritten were at my fingertips, so it’s only natural that my body takes the sufficient backlash.”
I hid my injured fingers behind my back and kept explaining.
“Magic using your body as the medium is incomplete as you have witnessed first-hand. So normally, people look for mediums other than their own body. Such as a staff, a wand, or even a familiar. They say that once you reach the peak of magic, you would be capable of molding the laws themselves. But I have never seen it first-hand. Also, they say that the more skilled you become, the wider your range of magic gets. It would be around this stage when you will be able to manifest miraculous feats.”
As I finished my explanation…
“It’s only middle school level.”
I’m getting used to the Regressor’s sharp comments.
I shrugged before speaking.
“Well, that’s because it really is just a middle-school-level topic.”
“Yeah. It’s just some useless information with an even weaker delivery.”
“Because it’s the basics. Compare it to the multiplication tables in mathematics.”
“Sure. You covered all the basics, and it’s impressive speed and completion for 0 level magic. But for someone like you who can only use body mediation magic, I don’t think you can show us anything more than that.”
There was a sense of superiority complex in her childish smirk.
No, it can’t be. Is the Regressor really feeling challenged by me? This is ridiculous. You’re a professional life-liver with thirteen lives under your belt. I’m just an amateur when compared to you. If you really do want to compete against me, why don’t you come at me fair and square on your first cycle?
“Magic isn’t my profession or specialty.”
“Hmph. Magic isn’t my specialty either, but I can use strategy level magic.”
“Oh, can you, now?”
“And you’re just done with illusionary level magic. Heh. I wonder if this is a difference in talent.”
Aren’t you embarrassed of yourself? Pretending like all the magic you’ve gathered through your multiple lives was a result of your ‘talent’?
Does she even have a conscience?
“If you really achieved that yourself, then it would definitely be due to a difference in talent.”
Saying that, I shot a cold glare at her. Then, she shrank away and decided to stay quiet.
「…Sure, these are skills I got from dying and regressing, but regressing is also a skill. So it should be okay to boast about it! Yeah! Regressing is an ability! It’s part of my skillset!」
Thankfully, she does seem to have a conscience since she’s trying to justify herself. People who don’t have a conscience don’t even try to justify themselves. So in that sense, it seems that she does know embarrassment.
The Regressor stopped and turned to the vampire.
“Tyrkanzyaka. I’ll teach you magic. I’d definitely be more competent than this guy.”
Hearing that, the vampire carefully asked the Regressor a question. It was more so because she had no choice but to ask this unfortunate question.
｢But didn’t you only graduate from primary school?｣
“I told you, I didn’t go to middle school because I didn’t need to!｣
｢Ah, yes. That is right. It is fine, child. I don’t really mind.｣
The vampire was trying to be nice. However, she was trying so hard to be nice that the person on the receiving end could tell what she was thinking. The Regressor’s hand quivered.
「I… I’m starting to realize why that man was treating her like an old woman.」
I told you so. She’s an elder. It doesn’t matter if you take it in a good way or a bad way.
The vampire kept glancing at me and continued the conversation.
｢Do you really have to graduate? Can’t you just show us here now…｣
“Magic is a secret weapon. Something I built for myself from the ground up. While it is my strength, it is also my weakness. I can’t just show it to anyone.”
｢But did he not show us his magic?｣
“Don’t compare mine to something like that! That was some standard State magic. It’s magic that anyone can use under the right requirements! My magic is unique. It’s high-level magic that only I can use!”
｢Ah, hm. I understand, I understand. Now, let us go.｣
The Regressor stomped out of the room, with the black coffin floating along behind her. The vampire kept glancing at me as she left.
「Magic that anyone can use… Is that not more incredible? Hm. I do not know. I do not know any of it.」
She really spent her years well. She was quite wise.
「Even so, for a dead woman like me… I wouldn’t be able to use even that kind of magic.」
‘…Well, I hope you two try your best. The Regressor is probably overjoyed to teach you magic, so even if she does disappoint, I’m just glad my workload has been reduced… Huh? Wait. I feel like I’ve forgotten something… Oh yeah, my money! My two pieces of Alchemic Gold!’
I hurriedly ran after them and shouted.
“Trainee Shei! Where’s my payment?!”
But all that came back was a tired response.
“Tyrkanzyaka’s going to learn from me now. Why would she pay you?”
“You said you’ll give me two pieces of Alchemic Gold! Are you going to break your promise?”
The Regressor spun around, looked at me, and smirked.
“Let me give you a piece of advice. No matter who you dealt with or how much you were supposed to get, until that money is in your pocket, it isn’t yours.”
“What kind of nonsense is that?! If you say that you’ll give it, you should give it!”
“Just be satisfied with the first piece. That’s worth a fortune on its own… Well, for you, that is.”
The Regressor left with a smile, walking off cheerfully.
If I were to express her thoughts just then as simply as possible, it would be akin to blowing a raspberry.
Quite aggravated, I huffed and puffed back into the classroom.
“How dare she trick me!”
‘I’ve always tricked people, but never have I been tricked myself. I even thought about giving them the other half of the content for free! But they changed their minds after hearing all that! I hate fickle people like this the most. People like them who don’t plan ahead and make things up as they go. How can I know anything if your thoughts keep changing every second?! Predicting a stormy wave on the ocean would be easier than reading that!’
“For me to be hearing those words… Damn it!”
‘I don’t know why, but I was royally pissed off.’
As I slammed the door shut…
…I heard an unsatisfied bark. I turned my head to see Azzy who was sulking and shaking her tail while lying on her belly in the back corner.
It was her way of telling me that she was getting bored. I didn’t even need to read a dog’s mind to know what they were thinking.
I extended my hand in frustration.
“What? What do you want?”
“That’s it for today. Go back to your room.”
“Why? You think you’re the only one who’s angry? I’m also quite angry. Also, my fingers hurt, so I’m not in the mood to play with you right now. Go…”
As I was bluntly replying to her, Azzy stood up and slowly came towards me. She kept showing her dissatisfaction as she got closer.
‘This animal. You’re trying to tell me “I want to apologize even if I’ve done nothing wrong,” huh? You think I’ll accept that?’
“Can’t you see my fingers? I told you they’re hurt.”
I scolded her as I showed off my multicolored fingers. Azzy looked at them in a weirdly sympathetic way and started to lick them.
“Huh? Are you licking them because they’re hurt?”
Azzy kept licking without an answer. Her slick tongue licked one of my fingers. A warm and soft feeling massaged my digit. As I tried to scrunch my face, I saw her kind gesture and relaxed my face.
Animals often licked their injuries. It was to stop infections, because it itched, or sometimes because it was the only thing they could do about it.
However, for a conceptual being like a Beast King, the act of licking oneself carried a generalistic healing power. It may not be effective on all injuries, but it was said to be more effective than applying a potion.
“You’re healing me.”
After quietly replying with a bark, Azzy thoroughly licked my remaining fingers. Even though her nature was that of a dog, she had a human form. Her fleshy tongue dug through every nook and cranny.
People compared anger to a fire. It seemed that they had some basis. As the fingers got wet, the anger within me got extinguished.
‘Yeah. What do I even get from being angry?’
I pulled my hand back, creating a string of sticky saliva stretching between us. The fingers that were now slobbered in spit had healed back to normal in no time.
The greatest enemies of humans were each other, and dogs were their greatest ally. I let out a smirk.
“Alright! So what if you eat some food in secret? It’s natural to eat when you’re hungry. Food was made to be eaten! Right?”
“Right! Let’s have some meat today!”
Azzy’s eyes sparkled. She got up instantly, as if she had never been lying down at all.
“Yeah! We’ll have meat for lunch!”
“Woof! I like meat!”
“Let’s go to the cafeteria!”
I followed behind the gleefully running Azzy.
‘Let’s forget about the lost money. If you can effectively break down a piece of Alchemic Gold, you could try to make a card. If you’re lucky, maybe even a piece of enchantment. And the Regressor’s going to fail teaching the vampire anyway. I’ll just accept some payment with interest when that happens.’
I started cooking up a storm in my head while cheerfully heading to the cafeteria.
“You fucking mutt! Don’t just take the meat!”
‘I’ve come to a decision. The dog food from now on is strictly going to be beans.’