21 Chapter 21 - Days following the Spell
2 days after the spell:
The atmosphere was strained in the carriage. Joseph sent her to learn to use daggers, and that seemed to help a little. He's hoping in another day or two, she'll go back to normal. It was just an accident; couldn't she see that?
He started practicing the inscribe runes, and found it very difficult. It was like having a fast-drying ink, and trying to write with the brush so that not only does the entire thing dry at the exact same time, but that it also dries at the exact time you cast your spell. And just adding more ink at the beginning doesn't work as the lines have to be balanced. He was far more appreciative of the paper Stu had given him. He didn't think he would have been able to manage a flawless cast for a good long while yet. Having the rune already written allowed him to focus on just supplying the mana. He made a mental note to thank Stu the next time he saw him.
3 days after the spell:
Joseph picked himself back up from the ground, where he once again found himself during sword practice. It was a lot harder than he thought. The instructor was good though, and he found learning the forms immediately because of his memory ability helped. It was just getting his body to do what his mind wanted that was hard.
Stella seemed to be doing better when he returned from practice, but when she handed him his plate at supper, their hands barely touched and she got all embarrassed again. What was her problem?
5 days after the spell:
Joseph was flustered. His progress had slowed to a trickle. Some parts of his lines were fading faster than others and what he wrote seemed to have no affect on his skill training. According to the system, when he checked, it didn't seem to matter what he drew, when trying to inscribe the mana into the world, either a rune or a cat, it still caused his skill to grow. So, he drew the alphabets for English, Chinese, Lapian, and the common of this world. Then he started doodling pictures.
He realized, several hours later, that it helped with his stress over the whole Stella incident, and his progress was back on track. He was halfway through drawing a building, when it started to fade, and he was left with what looked like the remains of a body, before it finished fading away. He tried something else, and found the most beautiful flower he could ever remember seeing, glowing in the air before him.
Hours passed as he tried to copy the flower, but no matter how hard he tried, it just looked fake. He finally gave up when lunch arrived.
Stella was distant all day, and due to his single-minded focus, he honestly didn't notice the glances she gave him.
6 days after the spell:
Joseph was having a great day! His progress was flying. During practice, the instructor decided to pit him against Stella in a mock fight. Man, she was fast! He could barely keep up with her. Later, she seemed to be a little calmer, so he hoped that meant she was finally getting over the accident.
7 days after the spell:
Stella was avoiding him, he just knew it. He was still making progress on inscribing, but he couldn't for the life of him, figure out what he had done to make her upset again. Should he try and talk to her yet? Father had told him to wait a few days. It was over a week. Girls are so confusing.
At lunch he found out that someone had tried to sneak into the camp. Maybe several people. Guards were posted around his carriage for his protection, and that made practicing harder. Knowing he couldn't overcome an adult yet, made him even more nervous.
9 days after the spell:
"Excellent job, Master Joseph!" praised the sword instructor.
Joseph beamed. He could tell he was starting to get some stamina, but he still couldn't compare with the other seven year olds who were training with him. They had been training for several years already. He wished he could spar with them, but because they were slaves, if any of them managed to land a blow, they could get in serious trouble.
When he returned to the carriage after bathing, he was able to draw that beautiful flower again. Of course, Stella was out getting supper, so she didn't get to see it. She had been quiet, and he hoped that meant she was getting better. How long did it take a girl to get over such things? Was he being too sensitive? Maybe tomorrow would be better.
11 days after the spell:
He was almost three-quarters of the way there. If he focused, Joseph could make most of what he wanted visible. It was time to go back to practicing FOOD and TEST FOOD exclusively. He could focus on making the flow steady now.
13 days after the spell:
With a hoot of joy, he did a little dance in the middle of the carriage. Stella was out getting lunch, so he could enjoy his little victory without worrying about upsetting her. He only had about four more days before he could be considered a true mage.
He was in the zone, when Stella informed him it was time for etiquette lessons. Everything was going fine, she had a couple of moments when she blushed, but it was almost as if things were going back to being normal. Then the teacher informed them that they would be starting dance lessons the day after tomorrow and she looked like someone had stabbed her.
Joseph tried to make her feel better by promising not to step on her foot, but she acted like he was going to hit her. The teacher gave the two of them a strange look as they left.
He only needed three hours of sleep, which meant he was away for hours trying to figure out what was wrong. He was sick of this. What could possibly be wrong with her? Was someone doing something to her that he didn't know about? Shavist!