Jeb wondered if it was worth going back. He finally decided that it would somehow defeat the purpose of visiting the Bard if he didn't at least ask. Back at the inn, the bard still hadn't left the table.
"I thought you had more questions than when you were playing the lute," he said.
"Actually, I have more questions about that," Jeb replied.
The bard motioned for him to continue. "Can I still apply it with elemental attuned mana after it's bonded to me? I really like the effects that the different elements give to the sound and I'm curious if there is a limit to the intensity of the effects."
"I have a few questions I'll ask you after the connection, but yeah. You can still enforce your lute. If anything, once combined, it should be much easier to apply."
"That leads to my next question," Jeb said with a little more hesitation. "Can I impose myself?"
The bard considered the question for a moment. He seemed to waver between the truth and a useful lie. Eventually, Jeb realized he had decided on the truth.
"You probably can," the bard said pointedly, "but I certainly wouldn't, especially considering your age and level." Jeb wasn't expecting that response at all, and it clearly showed because the bard continued, "You're aware that your body gets better with each level, right?"
“For many of the higher levels, the time difference between levels is too long and they need to prolong their youth in some way. Strengthening your own body is a fairly common method, especially if you have a class that is capable of it. Seeing Jeb was about to ask what classes they were capable of, the bard quickly added, "More or less all bard classes and quite a few caster classes are capable of this. Rumor has it that the druids were able to enforce this as well, although of course there is no way to verify these claims in the Republic.
It was a bit confusing for Jeb. Why could more and less limited forms of magic be used but not glyphs? He must have asked the question aloud, because the bard winced.
"What book have you read that describes the forms of magic through their limitations?" he asked with a sigh.
"It was in the spell book the librarian gave me," Jeb replied. - Is there anything wrong with that?
"Not directly, no," replied the bard, "especially at higher levels, Magic Users in each of the different Magic Schools almost always use their Magic this way. Since learning is almost always top-down, it ends up in the curricula we have now. However, I want you to consider, did you use the fireball wand schematic to make the fireball wand?
"Yes?" Jeb replied, a little confused.
"Really? Created a weapon that produced various fireballs with the express purpose of harming others?
"What did you use the fireball wand for?"
"I made kindling out of my mom," Jeb said, beginning to understand what the bard meant.
"Exactly," said the Bard, "although the Wand can only create Fireballs, that doesn't mean it has only one use. On the contrary, there are bardic songs that can only be used for destruction."
Thus Jeb lost the thread of the conversation. Seeing her confusion, the bard paused for a moment and remembered his thoughts. "The way you read the Spell Handbook highlights how limited magic is based on the variety of results that can be obtained from the same input. Another equally important way to define a question is how much input can produce the same output. In that sense, the spell is much more flexible than bardic magic, as anyone can use the wand you crafted, while only you can sing the lute force to bind the lute together.
"What does this have to do with using Fireball Wand to hurt people?" Jeb asked.
“I was the one who tried to explain the concept in a different way. It's harder to put this in the same context as the input-output analogy, but I can try if you want.
"No, I think I understand," Jeb said, "but what does it matter?"
Apparently that was the wrong question. Bard's spirit visibly drained and sank back into the chair. "What does it actually mean?"
The two sat in silence for a few moments until the bard spoke again. "Do you know the standard way to teach low-level bards?" he asked in what appeared to be a non sequitur. Seeing Jeb shake his head, he continued, "You'd learn at least five different instruments." Then you'll learn seven or eight simple bardic songs. By this time you would be at about level five. Then, and only then, will you start tying the instrument of your choice. Of course, many linger until the Seventh Level, when using an instrument for Song is seen as clumsy. At this point, the combination of the instrument is a serious obstacle to the progress of the bard. Yet having a combined instrument is essential to singing most of the songs a level nine or ten bard would use."
"That's not how you taught me," Jeb said. "Is it because I'm not a bard?"
"In part yes. If you were a level one bard, I'm sure a level seven or eight bard would have been notified and instructed in the standard way.
Jeb cocked his head. "Why don't you teach me? Weren't you already in town when I had classes?
The bard considered the question. "The librarian could have pointed you at me, that's true." If that happened, I would probably train you in a very similar way to the method I am using on you now. Of course, it would happen faster because that would probably be his main goal, not flirting."
Jeb nodded, though he wasn't entirely sure he agreed. After all, even as a Supreme Mud Mage, he didn't spend most of his time working on Mud Magic. However, it raised an interesting question.
"Then why would you teach me otherwise?" he asked.
The bard looked impressed, though Jeb didn't know why. “There are several reasons. However, two stand out in particular. First, I find it terribly inappropriate for the lower levels of a bard's life to be entirely devoted to memorizing and performing songs without knowing how to play them." When you combine this with the fact that higher level bards are expected to create new songs and weave tapestries from their music, the system we use for teaching seems fundamentally broken to me.
'And the second reason?' Jeb said, hoping to forestall the tirade he knew was coming.
The bard smiled bitterly. "I've already mentioned this, but the fact that instrument linkage is usually reserved for people after level five, even though bards that link before level three don't hit the level nine wall, seems like an act of active spite. . stupidity."
"What is a level nine wall?" Jeb asked confused.
The bard stared at Jeb for a long moment. "If no one has told you yet, I don't think it's my job," he said finally.
It wasn't a satisfactory answer, though Jeb had no way to argue with it. "Well, it looks like it's time for me to play the next set," Bard said, making it clear that he was done talking.
Jeb returned to the farm, pondering what he had discussed with the bard. When he reached the farm, he saw that his mana was almost full. “Well, I guess I have nothing else to do today,” he said as he headed back to the hive.
Deciding what Mana to Force her lute with was a struggle. On a whim, he tried to ask the hive what they thought he should do. To his surprise, the hive didn't hesitate.
All the Air Attuned bees rushed out of the hive and surrounded it. The air thickened with Air Mana, and Jeb could almost feel the breeze beginning to move. Taking the hint, Jeb opened the briefcase and began the Song.
Getting the thread of his Song through the Glyph of Attunement was usually quite a challenge. However, with the bees surrounding him, his thread immediately cut through the pattern and began to push the transparent white mana he associated with Air into the lute.
As the mana continued to flow into the lute, Jeb felt the song grow louder. The small part of her mind that wasn't focused on having fun noticed that several birds that were flying nearby suddenly flew away. The same part also noticed that his mana drains much slower than normal.
The feeling of connection with his lute only grew. As the Song continued to flow from him, he felt the barrier between them disappear. But even as that barrier fell, Jeb felt another fall.
The bees circling around him, which only minutes before had been visible to his magical sight as dots of thick Air Mana, no longer looked any different from him. Now he saw that they were all just agents of the hive. What's more, Jeb saw how attached he was to the hive.
Even as his Mana poured into the lute, Jeb saw the Mana in the lute approaching him. He knew on some fundamental level that if that thread reached him, he would be bound. At the same time, in the direction of the hive and the bees in it, strands of Mana stretched. The swarm was approaching him at the same time as the lute. To his surprise, the lute even stretched out towards the hive.
When Jeb considered whether it was worth letting the threads come together, the choice was taken away from him. The Mana in his core was finally drained and the Magic that bound three separate beings was broken. Jeb could no longer see the world as a bee hive. He no longer knew how to sing like a lute.
He tried to get up. The movement seemed strange. Jeb, just for a moment, connected his mind with many other beings. Bees may have limbs, but they don't move the way he does. Shaking off the feeling, Jeb stood up.
As he was about to leave, he turned and bowed to the hive. "Thank you for sharing your Mana," he said. The bees buzzed in confused response. As Jeb watched the dance, he understood the commotion.
The bees saw him, though not as the queen of their hive, but as someone they must strive for. As a result, they helped him in every possible way.
Jeb's status sheet at the end of the chapter:
|Age: 16 years old|
|Class: Initiate Less mud|
|Total Stat Load: 352|
|Physical charge: 127|
|Mind charge: 225|
|Magic Affinity: 55|
|Mana Depth: 37|
|Glyph Attunement: 26|
|Tier 1 Earth Enchantment in Minimal Form (Modified)|
|Least Hold Earth (Modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least Create Earth (modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Lesser Earth Destruction (Modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Minimal Form Earth - Level 3 Effective Spell (modified)|
|First water spell in minimal form (modified)|
|Least Hold Water (Modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least Conjured Water (Modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least Destructive Water (modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least Moving Air (modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Minimal Air Hold (Modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least Air Forming (Modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least Destruction Air (modified) Tier 1 Enchantment|
|Fire of Least Movement (modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Tier 1 Minimum Cease Fire Enchantment (modified).|
|Least fire-inducing tier 1 (modified) spell|
|Least Destructive Fire (modified) Level 1 Spell|
|Least mud-creating (modified) tier 2 spell|
|Earth Mana Attunement (modified) Level 0 spell|
|Water Mana Attunement (Modified) Level 0 Enchantment|
|Water Mana Attunement - Effective level 2 spell|
|Air Mana Attunement (Modified) Level 0 Spell|
|Fire Mana Attunement (modified) level 0 spell|
|Level 0 Sand Mana Enchantment Attunement|
|Less level 1 arena enchantment crafting|
|Sand Mana Attunement - Effective level 2 spell|
|Famous bardic songs: 1|
|less mud magic|
|Improved glyph collection|
|the gift of the word|
|play the lute|
|student of magic|
|Slay the Dragon of the West (Progressive)|