Chapter 20: Chapter (4)
Truthfully speaking, Lucid was torn on whether to discuss the strange experiences he had been through. It felt reckless to talk about such things in front of others. As the first grade “prodigy,” Lucid knew better than to trust adults to know everything.
“As I thought, it still gets quite chilly.”
Pincheno wrapped his robe more tightly around his body as he followed after Lucid, who showed no intentions of saying anything back. Though Pincheno was right about the drop in temperature, Lucid thought it quite fortunate, as it helped to cool his body down. Usually, he had only needed to reach the end of the forest and make his way back home, which was a rather simple route. This time, however, they had to get to the mountains as fast as they could if they wanted to avoid getting lost at night. As such, he had rushed more than usual, and he could already feel the dryness settling in his throat. They had yet to reach the border of the forest, but Pincheno saw that the boy was struggling.
“Lucid, let us take a small break. Pacing is also important. It will be of no use to lose all our strength here.”
Though he wanted to play strong, Lucid ultimately decided that resting would be best and joined Pincheno, who had already made himself comfortable on an adequate spot of dry ground. Lucid also took a seat on a protruding tree root and allowed himself to relax a bit.
“Would you like some water?” Pincheno asked.
Thinking of it, the boy was rather parched, but no matter how much he looked around, this part of the forest had no bodies of water. He remembered that there was a creek running through the forest, but they had likely passed it about thirty minutes ago, In the other world, he could have just taken a water bottle before leaving, but he had never seen any such container here.
“There’s no water near here.”
Pincheno quietly handed the boy a cup. How did he have that? Lucid noticed that it wasn’t a cup from his house. He stared at Pincheno in confusion, but what surprised him more was when he noticed that the cup was full of water.
“What… What just happened?”
“Drink first, then we can talk.”
The old man looked rather amused as he watched the boy, smiling from ear to ear. He clearly had no intention of revealing his secret so easily. Lucid thought that it wouldn’t hurt to quench his thirst first and carefully sipped the mysterious water. It was clean and crisp, and surprisingly cold. When he had emptied half of the water in the cup, the boy handed the cup back to Pincheno.
“You can finish it all, you know.”
“No, that’s alright. You should have some too, mister.”
“Oh, child. I can take care of my own needs. Don’t worry about me and drink as much as you need.”
“No, I’m really okay now.”
“Is that so? Well then, alright.”
Pincheno took the cup from the boy’s hands and finished the rest of the water. He lowered his hand, but somewhere along the trajectory of his arm, the cup had completely vanished. Lucid stared in amazement, his mouth agape.
“What…? The cup… It was right there, in your hand… Wasn’t it…? I saw it…”
Pincheno turned his hand front and back to show Lucid, who followed every movement with his eyes like an alert meerkat.
“Yes… Is this… A magic trick?”
“Hmm? A trick? Well, I suppose, in a way. It’s just magic, plain and simple.”
“Oh, okay. Wait… Magic?”
“Yes, magic. Is this your first time seeing a sorcerer?”
How could it not be? Sorcerers were things straight out of his friends’ storybooks. Thinking of it, there was one rather famous story about a sorcerer… What was it…?
“Huh? Well, isn’t that what sorcerers do? Recite a spell, and then light comes out of a wand…?”
“…What? Pfft, hahaha!!”
Pincheno began to laugh boisterously at the boy’s confused look. He grabbed his stomach and rolled around, and when he saw Lucid fidgeting, awkward and embarrassed, he laughed even more, slapping his thighs as he struggled for breath.
“Who… Ahaha!! Who says that?! Expecto what?”
Though Pincheno’s face had turned an alarming shade of burgundy from the excessive laughing, Lucid simply sat and looked at him, appearing out of sorts.
“Pfft, what a name! Harry! He must be quite the troublemaker, that one! A sorcerer named Plunderer!”
Lucid couldn’t help but feel like they weren’t quite on the same page, but he had no choice but to wait for Pincheno to properly explain. He lacked the knowledge to process this situation in a sound, logical manner, so he waited for the old man to calm down. After a while of laughing and cackling, Pincheno finally stopped regained enough control to wipe the tears from his eyes.
“I don’t know where you heard about your strange sorcerer, but I won’t ask. I fear I’ll die from laughing too much if I hear any more than this.”
Disregarding this entirely, Lucid decided to be patient and keep wait for an explanation. His eyes were very reminiscent of cat eyes, and Pincheno couldn’t help but smile again. He was not difficult to amuse, laughing about this and that. If laughter were a currency, he would have gone bankrupt many a times. And yet, Pincheno thought, going bankrupt was an easy price to pay to be able to see this boy’s mesmerizing eyes.
“I will keep it short and simple then. I’m a sorcerer. I can conjure things like cups and water whenever I need to. The reason I laughed so much is because it’s been ten years since I last practiced magic, and it’s been quite a while since anyone’s reacted the way you did. Hmm, well. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone reacted the way you did, ever. Anyway, it wasn’t my intention to belittle you at all. Though that Harry… Pfft! Ahaha! …Ahem.”
As he watched Pincheno beat his knees with his fists to stifle his renewed laughter, Lucid realized that this world contained secrets beyond his comprehension. Though he hadn’t wished for it, he had still experienced quite the mysterious phenomena. First, he had gone to another world and discovered wondrous things, such as technology and advanced civilization. Now, he was back in his original world, only to find himself face to face with a sorcerer, something he had only thought of as possible in storybooks. The things that had driven him to despair were also stimulating his mind, heightening his curiosity and imagination, and helped him understand that whether here or there, the “world” itself harbors limitless knowledge and countless secrets.
How much would one have to experience and learn to know the world? Could Lucid learn of all the marvels of the world by the time he reached adulthood, or even Pincheno’s age? Even elementary school textbooks were full of notions he didn’t understand, and even then, he had wondered how long it would take him to grasp it all. Could he ever hope to learn the truths, the secrets, and the mysteries of the world itself? How long would it take?
“Would it be possible for me to learn?”
To learn everything?
At the boy’s rather distant tone, Pincheno ceased his laughter and asked nonchalantly. “Would you like to try?”
“… I’m sorry?” Asked Lucid, confused.
“You said you wanted to learn. I’m offering to teach you.”
Lucid opened his mouth to ask what he was offering to teach but stopped himself as he recalled the context of their conversation.
“Magic? Could I really learn it?”
“Well, of course you can. Anyone can.”
“Is… That so…”
“Indeed. It’s a matter of whether or not you can use it.”
Lucid wasted no time pondering. Using it could come later. For now, he must learn. He had to know everything. Anything.
“Yes, I’d like to learn. Please, teach me magic.”
Pincheno’s lips curved into a smile again, the smile of a penniless gambler stumbling upon a gold mine.
“I can’t teach you everything about magic right now, and we are quite short on time. Have you rested enough? We can talk as we go.”
Wasting no time, Pincheno kicked aside some vines as he began to explain.
“Magic can seem like a miracle to ordinary people. That’s probably what you thought when you first saw it, wasn’t it? Seeing a cup of water just appear out of nowhere is bound to be surprising. But magic isn’t about making something. It’s about summoning things. Which begs the question, where are they being summoned from? Put simply, it’s from a place we call Ratio. It contains the true form of all things. Of course, it’s not a worldly place.”
“So, it’s another world of its own?”
“Ho! That’s a novel reaction. It’s not easy to come up with the notion of multiple worlds. You might be a natural sorcerer. But it’s not really another world, to speak of. Perhaps it’d be most accurate to say that Ratio is something more than our world, or even other worlds. Hmm. I don’t know if there are other worlds out there, but we’ll define Ratio under the hypothesis that there are. So, Ratio is something that transcends all worlds.”
Lucid stopped walking to turn and look at Pincheno. When their eyes met, Pincheno saw that the boy was white as a sheet.
“Is there something you don’t understand?”
“… All of it.”
What Lucid had failed to realize was that he had almost no knowledge at all about this world and that, though he had shown signs of great intellect in the other world, he had still only been a first grader.