Reading the reports about the internal struggle that was taking place in the Griffon Kingdom, the Mage Empress had the impression of reading an history book.
Centuries ago, the Gorgon Empire had faced a similar crisis.
After Magus Lochra Silverwing had divulged her magical inheritance to the whole world, the mystical arts had started to improve by leap and bounds.
The knowledge she had released, had interrupted the long stagnation period magical research had suffered.
As any change, thought, along with new solutions brought new problems.
Until that moment, magic had been limited to tier three spells, and that had allowed to rich and powerful families to hold a monopoly of it.
The inheritance contained the basis for many tier four spells, and planted the seed of what would have been known as specializations.
Realizing the countless military applications, the upper echelons of every Country were put in a bind.
Keeping the use of magic limited only to the scions of their families, would make achieving any progress slow and difficult.
Magic had always been a rare talent, and now there was so much to study but so few mages.
On the other hand, allowing commoners to study magic would have altered the balance of power.
Once they had access to tier four spells, who could guarantee that the new mages would not bit the hand that fed them
While the Griffon Kingdom opted for the creation of the Mage Association, granting even to commoners status and riches according to their contributions, the Gorgon Empire had dismissed such idea as suicidal.
They preferred focusing on Forgemastering, investing all their resources in the development of slave collars.
Thanks to these magical items, commoners could be conscript safely and their attitude for magic checked.
Every mage candidate was forced into submission, incapable of disobeying the orders of his masters.
The slavery of commoner mages lasted decades, until an old and crafty Forgemaster managed to find a loophole.
Her master had asked her to create an artifact capable of temporarily disable magical items, to use it on the battlefield and cripple the enemies\' resources when they needed them the most, but he never said anything about avoiding it to affect the collars.
When per his request, she showed him how it worked, the collars of all the mages in the household went off, and the revolt begin.
By combining the use of the artifact to free new mages and applying the collars to their tormentors, they slowly but inexorably exterminated or enslaved all the noble households.
The artifact was a secret, so all she had to do was to use her now obedient master as a trojan horse, letting the rebellion spread silently, until it was too late.
After killing all the nobles, the mages took the power, destroying every trace or mention of how to realize the collars.
Even researching the matter had become a capital offense.
From being a monarchy, the Empire became an oligarchy only based on meritocracy.
Titles would not be inherited, every position would be occupied by those that were deemed worthy.
Most mages had no interest in fancy mansions or life-size gold statues of themselves, they would invest most of their income for their families and research.
The first law enacted by the first Mage Emperor and his Magic Council, had been the freedom to study magic, no matter the social status, and introducing chore magic in the core set of disciplines children had to study.
The system wasn\'t perfect.
A good mage could be an incompetent or cruel ruler, not to mention that at his/her death, the replacement of even a local governor could take quite some time, leaving the territory open to corruption or attacks from the outside.
Also, because most of the resources were invested in constantly researching and developing new forms of magic, their human army was considered to be the weakest among the three neighbouring countries.
Nonetheless, the Gorgon Empire was now the most advanced Country in the field of magical research.
The capitol was a floating fortified city, whose white walls shone in the daylight like a beacon for the travellers.
The guard towers extended above and below the wall, with giant magic crystals at each extremity, fueling the mystic rune circles, visible at the naked eye.
Each tower was capable of attack or defence, according to the circumstances, making the city virtually unconquerable.
Idiots. Said the Magic Empress.
They have only delayed the inevitable, putting a different kind of collar to their mages.
No matter how long, a leash is always a leash.
Order the armies at our borders to be ready for the attack.
It\'s only a matter of time before someone does something stupid and things escalate.
We must be the quickest to reap the benefits from their folly.
The next morning, Lith had no real hope of succeeding at the second lesson of dimensional magic.
After teaching triple casting to the girls, he had spent the whole night practicing, but with little progress.
When they reached the Training Hall, Professor Rudd was already there, waiting.
The room was 30 meters (98 feet) long, 20 meters (66 feet) wide, and completely empty.
Small circles had been drawn on the floor, indicating were the students had to position themselves.
The ground and the walls shown no trace of crevices.
The room appeared to have been carved out a single massive stone rather than assembled from smaller ones.
Begin. He said even before the last gong announced the start of the lesson.
Normally Lith would have faked incompetence for a while before getting serious, but this time he had no reason to pretend.
Professor Rudd walked slowly among them, taking a mental note of those who were actually capable of triple casting.
The small yellow wisp was the indicator of that.
Lith, Lyam and only a few others were capable of completing the first step.
Many students after several failures, took out their books trying to understand what they were doing wrong.
Thanks to all his training, Lith had managed to understand the timing necessary to stabilize the wisp with water magic, allowing to add more energy to the core, turning it into two small black spheres.
The problem was that he had no idea how to continue.
After hundreds of attempts, he was still incapable of making them enlarge and stretch.
The event horizon form was the last step before properly completing the exercise.
- Second step already, not bad, for a commoner. – Rudd clicked his tongue, noticing the lack of progress from the rest of the class.
After one hour had passed and he had made no further progress, Lith decided to ask for help.
Professor, I have a question.
What a coincidence! So do I.
Tell me, did you read my book yesterday
Did you understand what is written.
Yes. Lith understood where he was going.
Something similar had happened to him during a college lesson.
Then for your own good, you do not have a question.
Go back to your place.
Fuming with rage, Lith resumed the spell.
More time passed, and since he was still stuck at the second step, he stopped for a moment to check how others where doing.
Yurial and Phloria had yet to produce the yellow wisp, while Friya seemed to be able to generate it regularly.
- Seems she finally grasped triple casting.
Let\'s see how Quylla is doing. –
After looking around a bit, Lith was able to find her.
Much to his surprise, he saw her generate the wisp, turn it into the two black dots, and even manage to start giving them the funnel shape.
Professor Rudd was incapable of deciding if to be more amazed of her, or furious with the class.
Several students tried to ask him for pointers and advice, but he gave everyone the same reply he gave Lith.
When the lesson ended, no one had made any further progress.
More than half the class had not been capable to achieve even the first step of the Loop spell.
Before you go, I want you to know that I\'m disgusted by your attitude. Rudd said.
I don\'t believe in equality, we are all born different for a reason.
I don\'t believe in solidarity either, an academy isn\'t charity.
It\'s a battlefield where every mage fights for himself.
Yet when yesterday I told you that triple casting was essential, why no one had the guts to tell me so many of you are not at that level Did you hope that somehow, I would go blind and not notice it
Well, all you have managed to accomplish today, is to waste my time and patience.
From tomorrow onwards, is better for those who are incapable to reach the minimum requirements to not attend my class.
Once outside, Lith eagerly ran to Quylla, hoping she could help overcame his bottleneck.
How did you reach the third step I managed to understand how to stabilize the first energy core, feeding it enough mana to grow and split.
But after that, it goes nuts.
Either I use water magic to stabilize one of the Gates or the other.
I cannot do both.
Or better, I tried, even resorting to quadra casting to use two water magic pulses at once, but nothing worked.
You don\'t need quadra magic, it\'s actually really simple. Quylla Replied.
The two Gates are so deeply connected that they act as one.
You mustn\'t treat them as separate entities, but as a whole.
It\'s like healing someone with a dislocated shoulder and broken fingers.
Two points in space, but only one arm.
You must simply make the light magic circulate through the whole damaged limb to take care of both issues.
Lith casted Loop once again, doing as instructed.
- Quylla is right! I can make water mana circulate from one end to another, Eureka! –
Yet instead of stretching, the two black dots disintegrated with a popping sound.
No, it\'s not! He replied with a sigh.