Saleen took an interest in the ship. He had been born near the sea, thus he possessed basic knowledge of ships. The ship’s structure was not suitable for high speed sailing, and the way the sails were positioned was even worse. Without help from the propellers which were powered by magic, the speed of the ship would not even exceed twenty miles an hour.
However, this ship had an advantage to it. It was stable, and the average human would not feel any vigorous rocking while on this ship. Such an environment was also beneficial for casting spells. Usually, a mage was not particular about their surroundings when casting spells that they were familiar with. The surroundings only needed to have elemental stability.
But at times, some spells needed to be prepared for more than twelve frames of time, so the mage would need a stable environment. Events such as riding a horse, riding a boat, or flying would cause problems with the process of casting a spell.
Many spells required more than sixty frames of time to be fully prepared. Within a mere second, a vigorous bump would be able to cause an error.
Saleen’s senses moved towards the bottom of the ship and passed by the cabin where the sailors worked. In the middle of the hull, Saleen discovered an alchemical machine which was almost as wide as the hull. This alchemical machine was about five meters wide with a height of about two meters. There were twenty sailors to the front and rear of the machine, and they were shaking a rocker attached to the alchemical machine.
Aside from six magic arrays, there were also many gears and metal shafts within the alchemical machine. With the effects from the magic arrays, the sailors only needed to exert a minute amount of strength to be able to turn the propellers on both sides of the hull.
Unfortunately, this alchemical machine was too bulky, or else it could have been used to produce a chariot. Saleen’s perception could not be as clear as his own eyes. However, this installation aboard the ship had already been perfected, and if it could be shrunk and used on a chariot, the Qin Empire would have done that long ago. Saleen dismissed that thought and looked up to see Lex standing near a porthole. She was gazing off into the distance.
"Lex, does the Qin Empire have many ships like this?" Saleen felt that the magic arrays aboard this ship were extremely delicate. Only a single magic disciple was required to activate them, and with more than ten pieces of low-level magic nuclei as the driving force, the strength input by the sailors was being amplified by more than ten times. Had it not been for its colossal size, this alchemical machine would have been nearly flawless.
"Let’s sit down and talk." Lex turned around and went with Saleen to her cabin, where they unconsciously sat down on the floor across from each other.
"Why? Are you interested in alchemical machines?" Lex then took out a piece of parchment and placed it on the floor. On that piece of parchment was a complex magic formula. As Lex did her calculations, she chatted with Saleen. The two of them had always done that in the hell of god’s punishment. In addition to training their magic together, they had also chatted about topics other than magic.
"I feel that this alchemical machine is very useful, and it can be used on the battlefield."
"Haha, do you know how much this machine costs? At least twenty thousand gold coins. But it only takes one Grade 1 mage to paralyze this machine."
"Then what about the indomitable fleets from Cloudflow?" Saleen grew slightly curious. Since this installation which required magic power had such a glaring weakness, there had to be a reason why the Cloudflow Empire possessed a fleet of ships which was nearly impossible to destroy using mages.
"The smallest armored ship costs at least ten million gold coins. With a large surface area, a higher-level alchemical machine could also be installed. The way this ship functions is similar to the way puppets work. The Qin Empire is lacking in construction plans and is not able to provide a substantial quantity of magic nuclei for a fleet. A true installation powered by magic is a gigantic defensive magic array in itself. Have you ever seen a puppet whose core was directly destroyed?"
"When it didn’t have enough magic nuclei?" Saleen was more puzzled now. The Qin Empire was called the magic empire, so how could it be poorer than the Cloudflow Empire to the point that it could not even provide magic nuclei?
Lex cracked up. Then, she said to Saleen, "The two of us are not lacking in magic nuclei, but there are many mages in the empire. There are many mages who have trained for over ten years, and they cannot bear to use their magic nuclei to restore their magic chords aside from when they are in battle. The more mages there are, the more expensive magic nuclei will be. Furthermore, the Cloudflow Empire definitely has the skills to breed magic beasts. Every year, the Qin Empire buys large quantities of low-level magic nuclei from Cloudflow. Without their ability to breed magic beasts, their ships would just be scrap metal."
Ability to breed magic beasts? Saleen thought of the space in the hell of god’s punishment. The world inside that metallic column seemed to have been a conducive environment for breeding. However, there had already been magic beasts in that world , and their levels had been fairly high. Those beasts had pursued him and Lex crazily, and Saleen shuddered when he thought of that.
The sailors worked until noon before replenishing the necessities on the ship. Even though it was not a ship at sea, Saleen requested for the ship to sail through the night. The quicker they were, the better. Just as the ship left the docks, a drizzle began.
Lex leaned against the bed and looked at the magic formula on the parchment, seeming lost in her thoughts. Moisture drifted into the room through the window. It was cooling and refreshing, but did not feel excessive. Lex rested her cheeks in her hands and used her elbows as support. Her sleeves naturally slid back, revealing an emerald bracelet on her white wrist.
Saleen looked at Lex, and he was in somewhat of a daze as well. Saleen felt that his heart was very relaxed all of a sudden. In that moment, he did not want do to anything. He simply hoped that the rain would go on forever, and that the ship would never dock anywhere ever again.
Nailisi and Sika were in the room next door. Sika clutched her bone necklace and knelt on the floor with her eyes closed. Nailisi was lying on the bed. Nailisi looked like she was napping, yet her ears kept twitching, trying to detect any movement in the next room. For a few hours, there was not a single sound from the other room. What was her master doing?
Pu la! The rain was light, and a noise came from outside the window. A dark red bird had landed by the window. It used its green eyes and observed the two people in the room with great curiosity. Saleen and Lex raised their heads at the same time and looked outside. At the same time, the serene atmosphere was destroyed. Under the eyes of two mage masters, the bird was startled and flapped its wings, flying to the trees on the eastern bank of the river.
"Just now…" Lex glanced at Saleen.
Saleen continued, "The bird was not scared of us!"
"That was a green-eyed fire crow, a Grade 1 magic beast. Strange. That creature is extremely sensitive to elemental fluctuations. What were you doing just now?" Lex could not help but ask Saleen that question. Magic beasts possessed inborn intuition. Aside from magic beasts that had been reared by humans, wild ones would not even dare to get close to human mages.
Saleen and Lex were mage masters, and magic beasts which were Grade 4 and below would steer clear of them.
"I was just thinking, if the Holy See did not exist, it would have been nice to spend my days practicing magic in an environment like this."
"If there was no Holy See, we would not even be on this ship."
Lex gave a weird smile while Saleen appeared normal. Then, Saleen asked, "Then what were you doing just now? I can easily hide my aura since it’s a rainy day. But you are a Grade 6 mage, so you cannot conceal it, right? That is, unless you have become a sorcerer already."
"It’s not that simple. Even without any setbacks, I’ll still need another eight to ten years. Back then… I was thinking about some things during my childhood."
"Oh." Saleen did not continue probing. When Lex was a child, the only people beside her had been her teacher and Faerun. Now that Faerun was dead, those memories might have become depressing.
Both of them resumed their silence. This time around, Saleen and Lex were thinking about the feelings they had felt just now. These two mages had unknowingly entered a state where they had become one with their surroundings. Even the green-eyed fire crow, which was renowned for its sensitivity, had not realized that they were dangerous mage masters.
Lex and Saleen sighed at the same time. They tried returning to those states, but they just could not do it anymore. If they could stabilize that state, it would be greatly beneficial to their magic training.
As night gradually fell, a magic lamp lit up at the ship’s bow, illuminating the section of water in front of the ship. As fine rain droplets fell past the lamp and landed on the surface of the river, they formed ripples which resembled fine scales. It became pitch black in the cabin, but Saleen and Lex did not use magic to illuminate the room. The two of them sat across each other in the darkness and relaxed their moods, repeatedly practicing the spells they were still unfamiliar with.
The six great elements created a sudden intense fluctuation before calming down as quickly as they had fluctuated. Each time Saleen and Lex cast a spell, they would immediately disperse the magic in the shortest time possible.
No two mages possessed identical mental power. Dispersing one’s own magic was easy, but it was troublesome to do so for another mage. In the darkness, Saleen suddenly asked, "Lex, what do you say we try to disperse each other’s magic?"
Dispersing magic was not a spell, but a skill. It was far more challenging for a mage to use this skill on others than to try and use magic to destroy the sword aura.
The principles of the sword aura were fairly simple, whereas the principles of the formation of magic were bizarre. One example was the water shield. The moment Saleen cast a water shield, it had the defensive ability of Grade 4 magic. Even if another mage was also an expert in that spell, they would not be able to decipher a method of dispersing Saleen’s water shield.
Saleen had altered the way he chanted mantras in order to activate his magic chords. Even if other people were to learn and apply his transformation magic, they would still find it hard to disperse Saleen’s water shield.
"Is it dangerous to do that?" Lex replied hesitantly.
"We can use our slowest casting speeds to release the spells, and we can start practicing from Grade 1 spells." Saleen seemed extremely eager to try it out. Training like this was indeed dangerous. If one of the two mages harbored ill intentions, tragedies could happen very easily. Even if neither of them had any intentions of causing the other one harm, magic itself had no feelings, and a slight misstep would be able to hurt someone.
The slowest speeds for casting magic were all the same. The most ridiculous spell was an earth-type spell which required more than an hour to finish its preparations. As for the fastest low-level spell, even with the Icicle spell, a beginner would be able to finish preparing it within three seconds.
Between two frames and one hundred and eighty frames of time, a mage would be able to complete the preparation of a spell so long as they managed to finish chanting the mantra or used mental power to stimulate their magic chords. Once the time exceeded one hundred and eighty frames, the elements would immediately disperse and then forcibly pool together. As a result, the elements within the mage’s body would be in disorder, and the mage would either die or their magic chords would be rendered useless.
Mages often researched ways of making spells instantaneous, but no one had thought of a way to slow down the preparation period yet. This was because during battle, there were specialized skills to delay spell casting, hence it was meaningless to extend the preparation time.
"It is pretty difficult!" Lex had taken interest in Saleen’s suggestion. She had never tried slowing down her preparation period before. Since the first day that Lex had begun learning magic, she had been fixated on trying to shorten this time instead of extending it.
"Then let us begin." Saleen blessed himself with ice plate armor before casting an additional layer of water shield on top of the armor. This was Saleen’s strongest defense. As long as Lex did not cast any magic above Grade 5, Saleen would not be hurt at all.
Lex bent her finger, and used her thumb to hold onto her index finger and middle finger. Following that, she cast a Grade 1 spell, and she did not need to complete any form of preparation. However, she now needed to delay her preparation time. The Grade 1 fireball still needed four more seconds of preparation time, and Lex found that somewhat taxing on her body. A faint blue fireball floated at Lex’s fingertip, illuminating her face within that darkness.