Usually, winter was the worst time of the year for any beast, be them magical or not.
Cold, hunger, and long battles to get their fangs on scraps of food had been the rule for years.
For pets, however, it was the best season.
Due to the snow and the storms, the kids would spend most of their time indoors studying, leaving Abominus and Onyx nothing to do but long naps.
They would eat to their heart content and the food would be delivered to them on a silver platter.
At nightfall, when the wind howled and the temperature plummeted, they would hog all the space in front of the fireplace, exposing their full bellies to the warmth of the flames.
Move it, lardass! Tista tried and failed to make Onyx leave her some space.
The Shyf just meowed with a pained voice, making Aran cry.
Stop bullying her, you meanie.
She got here first.
The magical beasts had become capable of emitting sad puppy noises that made anyone who tried to move them away from the fire look like the bad guy, summoning the children to their defense.
\'I would like to say that Onyx did nothing all day while I worked my ass off, but arguing with Aran like that would be childish of me.\' She thought.
At least until Tista noticed the smug expression on the Shyf\'s snout as Onyx waved the tail in what Tista was certain had to be the feline equivalent of giving her the finger.
You son of a-
How is your research on the orc crystal going, Solus Phloria cut Tista short and forced her to sit down before she made a fool out of herself.
Slowly, but at least it\'s helping us to deepen our understanding of both Menadion\'s Eyes and Hands. Solus replied while taking Lith\'s hand the moment he sat down beside her.
Being away from a geyser and having spent so much time apart, physical contact was the quickest way to replenish her energy reserves without being forced to turn into a creepy talking ring.
The steady flow of energy from Lith\'s deep violet core also nurtured her damaged life force and holding hands felt nice, combining business with pleasure.
Both Phloria echoed without failing to notice how casually Solus had made her gesture.
While I\'m in my tower form, I can freely access all of my forms at the same time.
On top of that, the mana geyser allows my power core to manifest, relieving me from most of the toll that controlling such powerful artifacts requires. Solus said.
We can use the Eyes to study both the orc crystal and the energy tracking system that the Master planted into it.
The instructions that he gave Lith back in Lightkeep help, but thanks to the Eyes, we have further perfected the Master\'s method.
Yeah. Lith sighed.
I wish we acquired the Eyes form back when I touched them for the first time during the academy\'s mock exam.
That way, we would have gotten the opportunity to study Zolgrish\'s enchanted Adamant forge, and maybe we\'d have learned how to do it ourselves.
Back then I was lucky to still have my mana core. Solus sneered at his unquenchable desire for more despite barely having the time left to breathe.
I was able to pick up and mimic the Eyes\' energy signature only thanks to my power core.
Without it, taking that form would have fried my brain and you would have spent years nursing me back to health.
What about the Hands How are they related to the orc crystal Phloria asked.
That\'s the odd part. Lith said.
The more we learn about the orcs\' technique to manipulate the crystals, the more I\'m convinced that Menadion either had an unfallen orc helping her to craft the Hands or that she procured herself one of their crystals after treating it the same way the Master did.
Why do you say that
Because as our study progresses, we are discovering new abilities that the Hands possess.
They closely resemble both what we have experienced from orc shamans and what Nandi did to you back in Baba Yaga\'s hut. Lith said while Solus turned into a pair of silver gloves that slipped on his hands.
The colored gems on his knuckles lit up, allowing Lith to mess with the fire element in the air and making the enchanted fireplace dim.
Phloria and the others tried to cast fire magic, but they discovered that something messed up with their spells.
This is amazing! Phloria said.
This is unfair! Tista said.
You two already have too many abilities.
Leave some for the rest of us.
This is neither. Lith replied while Solus went back to her seat.
You have no idea how boring it is to stare into the crystal for hours while hoping that our mana flow triggers one of the pathways that the Master managed to mark.
Also, with our current mastery of the Hands, we can mess with the elements, but it just takes you some effort to override our control and cast spells.
On top of that, we can\'t affect equipment as Nandi did and I\'m quite sure that power cores are shielded from us anyway.
Last, but not least, without a proper power source, using any of Solus\'s forms takes so much of her focus that it\'s really not worth the effort.
What mister positive thinking fails to mention is that, while inside our tower, between the Eyes and the Hands we\'ve enhanced all of our capabilities beyond our wildest imagination. Solus said.
Thanks to the Hands, both Lith and I have achieved control over the energy that comes from the geyser.
We can use it to boost the tower\'s defenses, the arrays, Nova Spells, or to make complex Forgemastering processes like that of the DoLorean easier.
What How Phloria was flabbergasted.
Before it was only Solus who could control the world energy and only that that flowed through the tower.
Now, instead, we can control even the surplus energy and use it as we see best. Lith said.
This way, I can relieve Solus of part of the burden of keeping the Forgemastering circle active, allowing her to participate more in the process, or I can further boost the circle and our hammers to craft artifacts of superior quality.
But Solus had her glove form for years, much earlier than our visit to Kolga, and yet you never had this ability.
Did you learn it from the Hands Tista said.
Not at all. Solus shook her head.
We learned it thanks to the Eyes.
As long as we are inside the tower and the power core protects my mind from sensory overload, the Eyes enhance our ability to comprehend the laws of magic.
They have no mind nor intelligence so it\'s up to us to come up with theories and interpret the data, but the amount of information they provide us with is priceless nonetheless.
That\'s why I scolded Grumpy here.
Without the Eyes, it would have taken us years to understand the Hands\' true potential and even more to decipher the crystal.
The Master gave us his method, but he has no way to interpret the data since he never got his hands on the treated crystal in the first place.
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