SUBSTANCE, ENERGY AND LAW (Book excerpt)

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The following book excerpt is taken from the second installment of Weiqi Wang’s fantasy-meets-science series, Code of Rainbow. We hope you enjoy this snapshot of the fascinating world he’s created in Ancient Barons and the Returned Assassin.


The next morning, the friends gathered by the Libral Gate.

‘Meow!’ Snower was madly anxious. {Soar, take me with you please!}

‘Stay with the family and listen to them, okay?’ Soarame was fondling Snower’s silk-like fur. It had been almost two years, but Snower still looked like a baby kitten. This reminded Soarame of Halgon and Aertiuno, and the fact that they both had a much longer lifespan so that they looked much younger than their age. Besides, similar to dragons – ‘You sleep a lot anyway, so it won’t seem too long before I come back.’

‘MEOW!’ Snower tired herself out trying to grab Soarame’s robe with her little claws, but Soarame had to bear with her childish crying and pull her off. He couldn’t take her on the trip, because she was too young and he was not sure what he might be facing ahead. Maybe one day, Soarame would be able to mind-talk with Snower over vast distances all of a sudden – just like what had happened to Halgon and Icer.

‘MEOW! MEOW!! MEOW!!!’

Soarame took time to say goodbyes to his friends. After he rose up into the air, he could still hear Snower’s crying. But he had to toughen up and kept going for a long while, until he was exhausted.

Under the direct sunshine above the cloud, Soarame gasped with the heat. He actually was still not sure where he wanted to go – now that Scankeen wasn’t in Sunrise Alliance, the boy had lost a big part of the motivation he had had to go there. Plus, he had the badge anyway, so he was already registered with the Alliance in a sense. Being young and ambitious, he was leaning towards visiting Tottwal to hunt Max right away.

As Soarame flew, he checked his space-ring. The broadsword was put back in there again, emitting its unique alluring aura. Beside the sword, there was a book, a crystal ball and a purple demilance floating in silence; they were all personal gifts from Kastico –

~~~~

‘I’m sorry there’s no time to teach you Lightning now.’ The previous night, Kastico had put a book and a crystal ball into Soarame’s hands. ‘But this book has everything I can teach, together with my detailed demonstration in the crystal ball. With your talents in Lightning, I believe you can do a great job learning by yourself.’

‘Thank you, sir.’ Soarame took them with gratitude, but his attention was actually on a purple demilance in Kastico’s hands. In his Magneer vision, a cluster of purple dots was gathering around the demilance, indicating its speciality. ‘That’s not a wand, is it?’

‘I’d rather say it’s a demilance, as it looks. That said, it can enhance the Lightning spells if used as a wand.’ Kastico smiled. ‘However, it doesn’t conduct any other magic lineage, so it’s probably not a wand and I’m not sure what it really is.’

‘So, it’s not an Epic magigear?’ Soarame was surprised. ‘But it attracts Lightning elements! I thought it must be pretty high-ranking.’ Soarame had told Gazbell and Kastico about his special eyes, because Naclad had spoken it out anyway.

‘What a Magneer!’ Kastico marvelled. ‘You are right – it’s probably not an Epic, because I can’t bond with it.’ Kastico was fondling the short spear with great care.

‘However, its function could be even more powerful than an Epic, because it stores Lightning elements!’

‘Can’t be bonded? Stores Lightning?’ Soarame marvelled. ‘So it’s like a battery?’

‘I’m glad you did your homework. Lightning wizards can make batteries, but they are hard to make and unstable.’ Kastico smiled. ‘But this one is totally different. It does everything by itself, it’s very safe to carry, and you can even summon the elements inside it to enhance your Lightning spells. However, instinct tells me it’s not simply a battery. It must have a function of its own that I haven’t found out yet – there’s something carved inside it; check it yourself.’

‘That’s… too complicated for me.’ Soarame cast his mind power into the demilance, and visualized a delicate magic array. The array seemed incomplete, but either way Soarame didn’t understand any part of it.

‘See? It has more functions, for sure. But I’m no longer as curious as I used to be, so it’s your turn to explore its mystery now.’ Kastico handed the purple demilance to Soarame. ‘I call it Thunder Tube for now; but once you find its true function, you should rename it as you wish.’
~~~~

Thanks, Kastico. Soarame withdrew his mind power from the space-ring. Besides those gifts, Soarame was now wearing three magigears from the school treasury –
Lurker’s Veil, a skin-coloured mask that created an invisible cover around its owner, so that it hid his figure, breath, temperature, heartbeat, footsteps and more – it was similar to a sound-isolation array plus a shadowcape spell, only more efficient.

According to Gazbell, it could hide its owner from almost every means of detection except a Master’s mind-scan.

Templory’s Guard, a silver bracelet that cast a force field for protection. The force field could block pretty much any physical attack, but not mind attack. Mind defensive gear had always been the rarest, so rare that even Libral didn’t have it.

Lurker’s Veil and Templory’s Guard were both Epic magigears with which Soarame had bonded. The last one was different – it was a cloak in ocean blue, named Love of Winoces. The cloak could do nothing obvious; but according to Gazbell, it was definitely on the top tier in Libral’s treasury – it constantly absorbed Life Energy from the environment, infusing it to its owner continuously. The effect of infusion of Life Energy was somehow similar to a dragon’s hibernation – it powered up its owner bit by bit, constantly. Because it had been tested to work best on Water wizards, Libral had been reserving it for an absolutely amazing Water student for years.

Wearing the amazing cloak, Soarame was enjoying its nourishment in the high sky. Like Thunder Tube, Love of Winoces could not be bonded with anyone – despite its superior function that definitely qualified it as an Epic – and no one knew why. Both of them had reminded Soarame of Richie, the mini horse; he was so keen to meet Scankeen again and ask his countless questions. But now that Soarame wouldn’t be able to see his master as planned, he was wondering what he would be facing next.

‘Do you blame me for not saving you from Naclad?’ As he was thinking, a voice sounded from his back.

‘Ecrif!’ Soarame hurriedly turned back, overjoyed. He had believed that he could detect anything approaching him in an open sky, but he wasn’t surprised he didn’t detect Ecrif. ‘Well, you must have had your reasons.’

‘Good. When the time comes you will appreciate my reasons.’ Ecrif looked satisfied to see Soarame’s reaction. ‘Looks like you’ve learnt something from the Godmade.’
‘Yes, it’s amazing!’ Soarame hurriedly said. ‘What’s the voice in it?’

‘It’s the soul of the Godmade.’ Ecrif smiled. But he didn’t give the boy a chance to follow up on this. ‘Have you thought about my question?’

‘Do I believe in fate?’ Soarame smiled wryly. ‘I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand… why does that matter anyway?’

‘Just keep thinking then.’ Ecrif wasn’t surprised, but obviously he was not here to offer an answer.

‘I have too much to think about.’ Soarame was anxious. ‘I need to go find a few people, including friends and enemies. What do you think I should do first, please?’

‘I can’t guide you on your specific plans. That would change your fate.’ Ecrif said. ‘But I can tell you one thing: you’ve done a good job in combining Lightness and Water. You should dig more in there, and try to learn the Essence of Magic Elements.’

‘Pardon?’ Soarame was confused. ‘When did I combine Lightness and Water? I’ve hardly practised any Lightness.’

‘You can figure it out yourself.’ Ecrif frowned. ‘Don’t just ask for answers.’

‘Sorry.’ Soarame looked embarrassed. ‘I’ve heard a little about the Essence from my Wind teacher, but I don’t really understand it. What exactly is it?’

‘Each lineage of magic elements has its unique intrinsic features. The Essence is a systematic summarization of all those features, listing each of them as an item.’ Ecrif said, word by word. ‘Because it explains how magic elements have formed the world and regulated it, it is the fundamental knowledge that any great wizard must pursue.

If one truly understands any intrinsic feature and utilizes it well, his power in that lineage will enhance dramatically.’

Soarame nodded as he was listening. He felt, briefly, that he was starting to understand something; but the next second he felt that, actually, he hadn’t. ‘What kind of features are they?’

‘I suppose Sunrise Alliance will give you a whole series of lectures on that. But, as the simplest example, a feature of Water is that it flows, so that it’s transformable in shape.’ Ecrif was patient enough to explain some basics. ‘Don’t laugh at the simplicity of it – although this is the simplest example, you know how hard it is to put it into real practice.’

‘So true!’ Soarame was suddenly enlightened. His incantation choker skill, as well as the mind-painting, were actually both shallow practice of this very simple feature of Water. ‘Wait a minute… My master told me something like that too! I still remember his first Wind lesson – flowing of the air!’

‘He’s a good teacher. He was actually teaching you part of the Essence, without telling you what it was called.’ Ecrif said. ‘Now it’s time for you to know more of it as an Expert, and you must learn it as best you can from now on. Once you master any one feature in the Essence, you level up to a Master in the corresponding lineage.’
‘The Essence is the key to become a Master?’ Soarame was excited to hear this.

‘Master one feature, to become a Master?’

‘Exactly. That’s why it’s called Master.’ Ecrif affirmed. ‘Unfortunately, the features are many, and some of them are shared between different lineages and thus seem confusing – for example, you just mentioned that Water and Wind can both flow. However, they are different.’

‘So here’s why I’m here today: when you encounter difficulties in learning, remember the following.’ Seeing Soarame in deep thought, Ecrif continued. ‘All magic elements fall into three categories: Substance, Energy and Law. Most people don’t realize this, thus it’s hard for them to become a Master.’

‘Categories?’ Soarame was totally lost.

‘Think about it – what is fire?’ Ecrif stretched his right hand; a cluster of fire was dancing in his palm.

Seeing Soarame puzzled, Ecrif stretched his left hand too; a stream of water was circling in the centre. ‘What is water then?’

‘Err…’ Soarame scratched his head with a reddened face. ‘I’m not sure what you mean.’

‘What’s the biggest difference between them?’ Ecrif offered a hint.

‘One is hot, the other one is not?’ Soarame tried.

‘Can you store them?’ Ecrif asked again.

‘For water, yes. But fire…’ Soarame was enlightened all of a sudden. ‘I see! Water is liquid, so it belongs to substance! Fire is not substance, so it’s… energy then?’

‘Not bad.’ Ecrif smiled. ‘You mentioned fire has a high temperature – that’s all about energy. Fire and Water elements, they are typical examples of the first two categories. As I mentioned, all seven lineages of magic elements fall into the three categories, in one way or another.’

‘Earth is solid – that’s substance too!’ Soarame’s eyes shone. ‘And Wind is air… Air, liquid, solid, they all belong to substance!’

‘The formal term is “gas”. Gas, liquid and solid, three forms of substance – well done.’ Ecrif was pleased to see Soarame make such quick progress, so he asked a harder question. ‘Windblade and stoneball do damage upon collision, because they are essentially substance. Firebolt does damage by its high temperature, because it’s essentially energy. But how about icearrow and piercing wave?’

‘Emm…’ Soarame had to frown and think hard. When he came up with a plausible answer, Ecrif was no longer there.

‘Oh, come on!’ The poor boy muttered in frustration. He hurriedly tried to recall the entire conversation to make sure he had captured all the details, just as he had done the first time he met Ecrif.

You’ve done a good job to combine Lightness and Water. Soon enough, Soarame reached this part. After a while, the only thing he could think of was the Dragon&Empires Championship, where he had summoned an ice-lens to utilize Omifo’s Lightness spell. But what’s the big deal? Why did Ecrif bother to mention it?
Fire, Water, Wind, Earth, Lightness, Darkness and Lightning. Soarame ruffled his hair as he was reviewing the conversation. Substance, Energy and Law. Wait… what does Law mean here? Which lineage falls in that category?

Obviously, the answers were difficult and Soarame needed to take time to understand them. This made the boy wonder if he should get back to the original plan – to go northeast first, to report to Sunrise Alliance so that he could learn about the Essence before anything else. But the learning didn’t seem to be anything close to an easy task, so it would undoubtedly take a long time to progress. Alternatively, He could visit Tottwal to the northwest first, where he could probably make fast progress on tracing Max or maybe even Rodka; or maybe to the south for his uncle Filton – his last letter was sent from a small town down there.

‘I don’t know about my fate, but please let everyone be safe.’ Floating in the sky, the boy in the centre of the triangle looked at three different directions one after another. All his targets were far beyond the horizon, but he still needed to make a choice now –

Where to go first?

The first three books from Code of Rainbow can be downloaded here. For more information, visit www.codeofrainbow.com

IMAGE SOURCE: Weiqi Wang

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