104 Chapter 104 Happy Birthday
With the three blizzards they encountered, it took a solid month to arrive at their destination. Joseph didn't have a chance to cast them, but the AMCC crunched through SEEK EARTH, SHAPE EARTH, EARTH TO STONE, CREATE EARTH, SEEK PLANT, IDENTIFY PLANT and was partly through HEAL PLANT when they arrived. He felt a little bad for Derek. He only had a few more spells, before he would surpass him in number of EARTH spells. Without a supernatural talent like Selena, nobody would be able to stay ahead of him after his gift from Enacra.
When they finally arrived at the valley, it was already December 9th. Everyone was grateful to stop. Joseph headed to the kitchens, to see what the stores were at. Fortunately, it didn't seem that the ground here had been frozen by the icy fog, so plenty of wild plants were still alive, just dormant. It meant the entire north wasn't sterilized.
At the kitchens, it was very busy. Apparently, his dad had a similar idea, as another slave of his was currently doing the same thing. The slave must have gotten here faster because of the longer legs. Several wagons of food were getting old, so Joseph cast PURIFY FOOD to remove any bad spots and started thinking of recipes. Stu was there within a few minutes of Stella and his arrival.
Between the 3 of them, it only took about 20 minutes to decide the menu for the week, using up the food that would spoil first. The slave went to report that they settled the issue. Stu turned to him.
"Master Joseph, where did you learn all these recipes?"
Joseph started to laugh.
"Stu sit down."
Sitting across from him, Joseph grabbed his hand, and dragged him to the magical realm. Stu was obviously confused, to arrive in his magical realm.
"How do you know so many of the runes. I have heard of this place but…do you know all of the runes, Master Joseph?"
Joseph laughed again, "Not yet. This way."
He took him to FOOD. Joseph's gingerbread body was quickly remade, but today he went for whipped icing in his hair for a different hairdo. Stu took a few moments to be anything but a blob.
"Listen, Stu. You can work on your body later. Learn the sound of the realm. It will teach you."
Joseph roared out FOOD with all his might, back to the realm, and dozens of recipes came flowing into his mind. Stu was stunned. Joseph didn't know why exactly, but FOOD was a kind rune. It made sense that friends and family gathered around food. It had a kind of grandma wanting you to have plenty to eat feel.
Pulling them back, he found he was tired. Dragging others was always more effort. Stu was still dazed in his chair as Stella brought pen and paper. They hadn't been gone long, but already the other chefs had most of the pots full and simmering. Joseph quickly wrote down all the new recipes he had just learned. Many incorporated the ingredients that would expire first. If FIRE was nice to him because he was Selena's friend, then FOOD seemed to just generally be kind to everyone. It didn't let him shortcut learning FOOD magics, but it was very generous with the recipes.
A week after they arrived, everyone had finally settled down and figured out their places in the valley. There was enough food to last until April. Joseph was determined to finish PURIFY WATER and HEAL PLANT. He was already half way finished with PLANT GROWTH. After that was CREATE PLANT, which would let him literally create living plants, in a barren field. After experiencing the damage from the icy fog, he thought those would be good spells to learn.
On top of finally getting to focus on his magic again, he intended to keep up with his sword training and dancing with Stella, that had kind of fallen to the wayside in the chaos of the last several months.
(YOU HAVE COMPLETED 300 HOURS OF SWORD TRAINING AND DANCING.)
(YOU HAVE BEEN GRANTED DOUBLE JOINTED.)
(+5 TO SKILLS THAT REQUIRE FLEXIBILITY.)
(YOU CAN PASS THROUGH OPENINGS THE SIZE OF YOUR HEAD.)
(YOU HAVE COMPLETED 600 HOURS OF EXERCISE.)
(YOU HAVE BEEN GRANTED VERY FIT.)
(STAMINA DUE TO PHYSICAL EXERTION IS LOST AT HALF THE NORMAL RATE AND RECOVERS AT TWICE THE NORMAL RATE.)
Joseph realized there were higher levels that the system hadn't told him about. It made him wonder what else he could earn if he tried, but his father summoned him before he could do more than wonder.
William had set up his office of operations in a large cave along the edge of the valley. When Joseph and Stella arrived, he dismissed everyone else in the cave.
"Joseph, I finally have time to have a real talk with you. Sit down. We can talk freely here. Catch me up on everything that happened since I left you. I have heard much of it from Selena, but you obviously can't tell her everything."
Joseph paused to think. He knew that he needed to keep it short, and at the same time thorough.
"Dad, how much do you understand about magic?"
"Very little. I only studied the smallest amount of it in order to look for tell-tale signs in slaves and prepare defenses from nobles."
"Alright, I'll omit all the theories. I am likely the most learned mage in this realm with the possible exception of any remaining dragons. That's why the others have started referring to me as the child of prophecy."
"How many runes did you learn in these ruins to the north?"
"Nine that weren't in the kingdom's documents. But in order to truly exceed human potential in magic, I need to learn the META rune. It is the rune that governs how other runes interact. Every time I advance in META, the system will allow me to increase my magery, but the only copies of it are in the royal elven library, or the wastelands."
"We'll worry about the elves when we get there. It will be difficult for me to get you into the Elven kingdom."
"I also learned GATE."
"What is that?" His father perked up at that.
"It allows me to make portals from one place to another, but the system says I can't jump in time. That isn't allowed anymore."
"How quickly can you learn that?"
"You mean if I devote directly to learning that?"
"I need to learn TELEPORT, CONTROL GATE, and CREATE GATE. But to learn TELEPORT I either need to learn a spell from 10 other runes, or HAWK FLIGHT, but that is controlled by a rune I haven't learned."
"How many runes can you cast spells from so far?"
"FOOD, AIR, FIRE, EARTH, WATER, PLANT, ENCHANTMENT… so seven, and to learn one from WEATHER, I need twenty more hours to finish a second WATER spell, and 100 hours to finish a second AIR spell. I was working on learning up to CREATE PLANT. I have to finish PLANT GROWTH which I'm currently on and then I can start it. It's an area spell that literally creates whatever plant I want dad. I can solve our food problem with it, I think."
"I think learning teleport will be more beneficial. I have compounds set up in the eastern and central kingdoms, almost at the boundary of the wasteland. I know where the boundary is very well because I used criminal slaves to find it when I first started. Rapists and murderers mostly. The System allowed me to know if they were guilty of the crimes they were accused of or not. If you can get us to either of them, we won't have to worry about food. And I need to get to them, to ensure the kings haven't found them."
"So, you want me to work on TELEPORT as soon as possible?"
"Yes, most definitely."
"Let me finish these 2 spells I'm in the middle of and I'll devote to that."
"That is fine, but the sooner, the better."
His dad seemed to be somewhat more relieved after their discussion, than he had been before it. If teleporting was so important to him, Joseph didn't have a problem working on that instead. It wasn't like he hadn't planned to learn it anyway.
Joseph rushed through his current spells, spending almost 19 hours a day studying on top of the 21 hours his AMCC gave. In 12 days, he had finished LEND ENERGY from HEALING, which he could already do through mana control, DETECT MAGIC from KNOWLEDGE, which again he could already do, and SIMPLE ILLUSION and FIND WEAKNESS. He only took a little time to relax, with Stella and the other kids, playing and teaching.
Joseph had encouraged the mages to talk amongst themselves so much, that they were constantly deep in discussions which had been forbidden for them to talk of before. The rune mages and shamans had grown closer, thanks to his lessons, and often discussed differences without him needing to be involved.
His mother had been busy, helping with random jobs, and finding that she actually had a lot that she could contribute. It also gave Stella a reprieve from her constant attention.
With nineteen hours of study on his own, and twenty-one hours from the AMCC, he was getting an even forty hours, per day, of study, but he was becoming exhausted. Working like a machine through the rest of December, the days of ending and beginning, and even his birthday, he told Stella he was going to sleep, and slept for a full fourteen hours straight.
When he woke up, Stella greeted him with a cake.
"Where did that come from?" he asked.
"It's your birthday cake. Your mother insisted you get one as soon as you woke up. She couldn't believe you worked so hard, that you forgot your birthday!"
"I didn't forget my birthday; I was trying to finish stuff up for dad."
"Well, she has a present for you, as soon as you finish your cake."
Sitting at the desk, he watched as she carefully laid it before him. The frosting glistened and the smell was heavenly. How had they managed to get the eggs for it? They didn't have any chickens!
Happy to not have to work hard any more, he bit into the cake and paused. It was so moist and delicious, it seemed to melt in his mouth.
Once he had finished every last crumb, Stella led him to his mother's tent, where she presented him with a brand-new outfit. He didn't ask how she knew the sizes, because she had always managed to know before. Putting it on, he stood before her, with his arms raised, so she could see how well it fit him. He honestly loved it, as it was soft and spacious. This pleased her so much, she let him go without much more fuss.
Stella then proceeded to lead him to the barbarians, who had joined together to make him a set of leather armor. It had ornate decorations hand stitched over every length, so that it could come from many different people. Even Stella seemed impressed after he put it on.
From there, they went to see his dad, who had the slaves put together a musical performance that had obviously been practiced for a long time. Joseph was delighted and cried in delight at the jokes and stunts they performed for him.
Tekaun showed up, shortly after the last act, and presented him with a necklace from the barbarian shamans. They knew that he had killed lots of monsters, but without a proper necklace, he had no way to show off his trophies. She explained that she knew he did not necessarily follow in their traditions, but they felt it important that he at least have one.
Joseph was delighted that he wouldn't have to wear it, since he was still so small, and everyone laughed.
Shortly after she left, the mages began to show up, giving him small token presents for both his birthday and the days of ending and beginning. Stella stepped back and his father watched on in pride as Joseph excitedly started telling them about the new spells he had learned over the past month. The rest of the day was spent in him showing them off in grand excessive ways, and answering questions the mages threw at him. It wasn't long before he was showing off new runes, mathematical formulas, circle diagrams, and glyphs. Spending all that time learning to speak the runes in their primal form gave him insights into most every method, that any realm has devised, in order to invoke them.
All things considered, it was the best birthday he could ever remember having, and that said a lot.