City of Sin

Book 1, Chapter 11

The First Spell

The next day’s lesson was still magic philosophy, but the lecturer was a level 17 great mage named Riley, the ‘certain fellow’ from Popovich’s lesson. The man was lean, wearing a pair of golden magic glasses and dressed meticulously from head to toe. His gaze was deep and wise, looking like he’d already seen beyond the facade of the world.

With him behind the lecture, the class was still as quiet as could be. A level 17 mage was on the verge of becoming a grand mage, and that advancement could take anywhere from an instant to eternity. One had to know that the extra grade 8 spell slot a level 17 mage possessed allowed them to be far superior in battle to a level 16 mage. This was something even a child would know.

The advantage extended to lower level spells as well. While grade 7 and below spells wouldn’t be as useful in that level of battle, they would still give the level 17 mage an advantage. This was why Riley perfected many aspects when he first advanced to level 17, unable to care less about the affairs of insignificant idiots, let alone talk about them.

Standing behind the lectern, Riley felt good. At least in that moment, in that classroom, he was the most superior; the one who had control over everything. It’d really be perfect if he wasn’t reminded of Sharon.

Riley’s voice was gentle but not soft, ringing in the ears of all the students at the same volume, “Everything has its foundation, like the world is built on origin force and planes and laws rely on each other. We and the other races are beings that live on the various planes, and though we’re minute we aren’t insignificant! There are no two similar souls in this world, not similar people. So then, what is the point of our existence? It is to comprehend the world, to become stronger and gain resources which in turn gives us freedom. We live in a world where might makes right, and the basic regulations of the world can decide most of our fates here. Try to break them, and you’ll be destroyed before you can even break any of the derived laws.”

Most students nodded in agreement, the point resonating even more so with the older ones.

Today’s lessons were much more interactive than the previous day’s, with spiritual force being pushed into their bodies. Riley smiled at their positive reactions, explaining without a hurry, “Grand mages can feel the derived laws of the plane, and those with legendary might will be able to understand the basic laws. How many of us here can actually reach such levels? Even geniuses fall.

“Yes, I can tell you what the world is made of, and what the laws of the planes are, but this is all irrelevant because anything is possible in this world of magic as long as you have great power. Where does this power come from, then? From your understanding of yourself, from exploiting the environment around you. Everyone is complicated, and it might take you your entire life to understand yourself. You have to be grounded, increasing your power with your self as the root. Start from the bottom, and move up to the top; go from yourself to the world. This is how you’ll control your destiny!”

Riley waved a hand, and a projection of a human body flashed in front of him. He pointed at various parts of the projection and began to explain the core content of the lesson, “Power isn’t something complex, but it’s not as simple as having more spell slots. Though we all know that three level 8 spell slots are definitely stronger than two, we have other factors to consider as well. Overall, a person’s power can be categorised into 4 major classes: Their attributes, their equipment, their abilities, and their bloodline.

“There’s also intelligence, but that varies from person to person and you’ll have to work on that yourself. I won’t go into that, so let’s start from your attributes.

“So, what is spiritual force?”

Richard gained a lot from this class. For the first time ever he learnt that spiritual force came from the soul, and magic came from mana. Fighters accrued power by training their physical bodies, while clerics borrowed the power of the gods they served. All legendary beings, regardless of their original path, would start to borrow the power of laws, the more power they could get from laws the more powerful they were.

At the end of the lesson, Riley did not fail to make a conclusion that was on par with his elegance, “Don’t be greedy for unrealistic goals. Always stay grounded. What you should do is to take one step at a time in your path to power, using the increased lifespan from that extra power to grow even more. So… know yourself, know the environment, learn how to distribute resources, and exploit your power the best you can. The more powerful you get, the more influence every action of yours has. The difference between level 17 and level 16 mages isn’t as small as you’d think...”

The next professor, Philip, added another line of thought to the broth before Richard could completely digest what he’d been given already. He drew a circle in the air and cut through it with a line, making the left side red and right side blue.

“There are tons of mysteries in the world. But can we know all of them? This is where opinions start to diverge; some believe they can, and some not. The former group includes most mages while the latter is mostly worshippers and clerics who believe only the gods can do so.” He’d cut the circle into two exact halves, not for the ratio but to show that he wouldn’t make a stand for the correct view, staying neutral in his introduction of the topic.

After he explained the contrasting views of whether the infinities of the world could be broken up, he also talked about a dozen alternative views. Richard and the rest didn’t really understand what was going on, thinking about how useful these things would be since they wouldn’t help in increasing mana.

But, of course, no one raised any questions about that. Technically the difference between levels 17 and 18 was just one spell slot. One grade 9 spell slot, that is. So not only did nobody question Philip— despite the content being… slightly unrealistic— everyone in the classroom listened beyond attentively. Not one in ten mages could be so lucky, even in their entire lifetime, to be able to attend a lesson conducted by a grand mage.

A dazed Theodore stood behind the lectern on the fourth day, similarly drawing a circle and splitting it. The only difference was, the line started in a different position. The red of mystery occupied most of the circle, leaving the blue to be a thin strip.

“The world is profound, we can’t possibly know everything, only the gods are all-knowing…”

Richard only learnt afterwards that Theodore wasn’t a mage. He was instead a cleric around level 16 or 17. The Deepblue was a world of mages, so it was rather strange to have someone divine here. What’s more, Theodore wasn’t of one faith. He worshipped three different gods, somehow not having their faiths clash with each other. It allowed him to cast divine spells from three systems, giving him power surpassing clerics at the same level. But as Richard thought about it, and with prior knowledge he gained from various books, he realised that the only way to have three or more faiths was to cheat.

He could cheat the gods? And three of them at that? This fact alone told Richard that Theodore was no simple man.

On the fifth day, Teslifa did the same thing with the circle and the line, and when the outcome was almost all blue Richard knew immediately that he was a mage. One that believed in agnosticism. Yet, such a precise and quick judgement did not help much.

On the sixth day, Master Fuchsia pointed at a bunch of irregular numbers and said, “When you see beauty in these numbers, you’ll have completed half your journey in mathematics.” Master Komu wanted the students to see numbers in a series of complicated and beautiful three dimensional images on the seventh. The intention was to abstract numbers with aesthetics.

Richard then fell into a cycle, trying his hardest to see beauty in numbers and numbers in beautiful images.


A month passed in the blink of an eye, and Richard only learnt insignificant theory and knowledge that mostly wasn’t related to magic or spellcasting at all. Many of the teachers even contradicted each other, presenting large amounts of information built around four specific keywords: Sharon, special, boss, and dictator. It left a huge impact on Richard.

Another thing the teachers liked, from Popovich to Teslifa was to say ‘the world is that simple.’ It seemed like the motto of the various schools of thought in the Deepblue.

The world may be simple, but Richard was growing more confused than ever. Nonetheless, he’d had his own gains too. In some serendipity, he had placed his first foot into magic.

He’d learnt how to create a fireball.

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