126 Chapter 124 Answering to Mom
"You are late," said his mother, pausing to take in their soaked clothing. "Were you in a storm?"
"Yes! It was awesome!" he exclaimed in excitement. "There was this massive magical storm with all these different colored lightning bolts! It was so neat; we just couldn't stop watching it!"
Uncrossing her arms, she said, with a frown, "Before you leave in the morning, I want you to eat breakfast with your father and I."
"Alright," he said, starting to shiver.
"Get out of those wet things, before the two of you come down sick!" she said, turning to leave.
After they were warm and dry, Joseph spent a few hours practicing magic before he went to bed. The next morning, when he visited the world of the runes, he noticed that he could kind of see Stella as a ghostly image, moving around him. Maybe it was because she had the mana battery, but before he could ask, it was time for breakfast.
Stepping into the dining room, he saw that both of his parents were waiting, and they had very serious looks. Searching his mind on why they would be so upset, he really couldn't think of anything. Maybe the kings were sending their armies down from the north? Frowning at that thought, he took his seat. He didn't want to move again. This place was really set up. He would just have to fight them off. Maybe if he killed enough of them first… Could he capture the mages? No, it would be too risky.
"Joseph, we need to talk," said his mother, once Stella had sat down next to him.
"It's okay. How much time do we have?" he asked.
She blinked a couple of times before saying, "What?"
"Um, isn't the kingdom armies on the way?"
"No, Joseph. Why would you think that?"
"Oh." He sat back in his chair as relief washed over him. Then he was confused. "You looked so serious, I was trying to figure out if we were under attack, or something. Did you hear something about the elves? No, that doesn't make sense. What about the demon worshippers?"
"Demon worshippers?" asked his mother faintly. "No, Joseph we need to talk about you."
"Me? What?" Even his second mind, Joe, was confused by that. Glancing at Stella, she merely shrugged and picked up her fork to start eating.
"Joseph, we think you may be becoming overconfident because of your successes," said his mother, rubbing her forehead between her eyes.
Stella looked up, clearly confused.
"What?" he asked, not having a clue what she was talking about.
His mom continued, "Joseph, I think that all of the success you've had, has gone to your head, and you are taking risks you don't need to because you think you can't lose."
"I'm…overconfident? What?" He looked over at Stella, who was thinking hard about the accusation.
"You do take a lot of risks," she said.
"But, it's not like I had a choice! Most of the time, someone was dying!"
"Your father said you learned a spell to detect poison, just before you almost died from tainted food," said his mother.
"I would have survived. Dad would have had the healers cure poison on me first. A bunch of others would have died though, yeah."
"And you learned some air, or breathing technique, which saved you from the assassins," added Stella.
"When they burnt the Oranche? The only reason that saved my life was because I was allergic to the stuff in the first place. There were like a thousand slaves with us that day and I was the only one who was allergic. Yeah, I was lucky to survive but I was really unlucky to be allergic."
"What about the arrow when we were leaving?" asked Stella.
"I would be running around with only one arm until I learned regenerate. If it hit my head, I would have died, or my chest," he said turning back to his mother, who was looking surprised and horrified. She hadn't known anything about him being hit by assassin arrows, but Joseph kept going, not caring.
"Stella would have had to cut a chunk out of me, but Stephan was right beside me. I would have survived anything but a head or a heart shot. And I've been thinking about how to purge the curse from me, ever since the same spell won't work again. I plan to get a spell that protects from arrows soon anyway."
"What about fighting that thing in the north?" asked his mother.
"If I didn't, everyone would be dead by now. I didn't have much choice. We made it in time before it became stronger."
"Well you didn't need to bait that one mage to shoot lightning at you."
"He told me he used lightning weeks earlier. I'd been planning on how to stop him since then. Even if the coins didn't work, other mages can't actually hurt me with spells like lightning or fireball unless I let them."
His mother had obviously been talking to a lot of people to have heard about so many things. It was obvious from his dad's expression that this was entirely his mother's idea. She seemed stumped at his last comment though.
"I control the mana around me. Anyone who attempts to use magic against me has to pretty much be superhuman."
"You still came home soaked last night."
"Yes. But I learned a lot about both AIR and WEATHER. Two runes I don't have many spells in yet. The lightning was multi-colored, but it was still a magical effect that I can protect myself and Stella from. The hail I couldn't, so once it started, we came home. I was careful."
"Hail?" she asked. "Joseph, your success is nearly unchecked. You have done far more than any eight-year-old should be capable of, and we are concerned for you."
"Yes, you have succeeded in pretty much everything you have attempted, haven't you?"
"No. Not even close. The wasteland is still there and not only is it still there, I have only the barest of clues as to why it is there, and no idea how to fix it. I've never even seen the world tree to know what state it's in. The barrier around the elven forest is still there, and now I have to find gnomes because one rune has been substituted from an elven rune for a gnomish rune.
"I have a glimmer of what it's doing but it would be like knowing Latin and trying to reconstruct Portuguese from a single letter."
His mother was starting to look more and more lost, her whole argument and concern falling apart around her.
"We were chased out of the western kingdom, because the king was routed after I had done everything to make the barbarians free people, so that all went to waste," he continued, but his dad jumped in.
"You were still prepared for the rout though, because you made sure one village, where the new technology was being made, was able to be burned to the ground."
"I didn't think the king would be overthrown. I was thinking the nobles would come north with spies and try and get a piece of the pie once I opened the frontier. Regicide was completely beyond my preparations. One of my students was beaten into talking which evoked the contract and killed him because I didn't keep a close enough watch on them. I had to resort to such a public thing as tricking Dominic into trying to kill me before I could kick him and his minions out. They almost rioted a half dozen times in the one month I took to save the world.
"We only made a few pieces of porcelain before we moved here, and the soil is wrong to make more.
"We need too much alcohol to extract the scents and pigments to get the paints and perfumes I want ready. It took an incredible amount of effort to just get what I gave to Stella as a present.
"I finished one spell, that I've been planning for weeks, in a day, but the next spell I spent a whole day on without any break throughs at all, and I'm likely the best magical researcher in this entire realm.
"I don't have hardly any time to study more, or teach, because a group of evil demon worshippers is trying to end the world, or at least the world as we know it. I'm trying to overcome a group that has been hatching plans for over a thousand years. The only way most of this has worked out has been ridiculous amounts of effort, tons of luck, and a lot of help from people around me.
"No, mom. The most important bits of what I wanted to happen, have been going horribly wrong. I'm just not stupid enough to miss the fact that I'm making progress."
"Oh," she said, sitting back and looking down at her cold breakfast. His father was carefully eating small bites, so as not to draw attention to himself.
"I guess, that you've just grown up so much, and everything I've heard from people, it just seemed… I'm sorry. You may be capable of so much, but you are still my son, and I worry about you."
"I really appreciate that, mom. But I can't stop helping out. If I do, the people who are trying to end the world, might actually succeed. And I know that I have the ability to eventually stop them. In fact, I may be the only person in the whole world."
She nodded and picked up her fork. Joseph sighed in relief. He had thought he had ended this the other day, but apparently his mom was still trying to adjust. Picking up his own fork, he knew that this would probably happen again. She just couldn't stop her mind from worrying about him. Being so small probably didn't help either.