While Glenn was waiting for the new microscope and the results of Gadfly experiments on the frog, he had had a new sorcery book in hand, titled Basics of the Elements, thanks to his new-found bonanza of magical stones.
No sorcerer on the Sorcerer Continent would skip studying the Element Matrix, no matter how preoccupied heshe might be. And the temptation was the surge of mental strength for the cultivator, when the Element Matrix was built in hisher soul, and the process was dubbed the Element Matrix Curing.
The Element Matrix was the set of the permutations of the 26 symbols and signs (the elements) recorded in sorcery books. All of these symbols and signs could move, except for a six-sided star that served as the center of the matrix. Simply put, the Element Matrix was a complex pattern of symbols and signs, and when they were built or engraved onto the soul, they would greatly boost one’s mental strength.
There were much simpler and random combinations of the said symbols and signs (usually concerning two or three of them), and when combined, they would be connected and thus would produce power by consuming magical force. One example of this power was the Deathly Flame which Sorcerer Dior had used to take on the tentacles back on the ship. But this form of power generation would cost a disproportionate depletion of magical force. And apart from the 26 regular symbols and signs that existed already, further ones were being tapped in nature or being explored in the lab.
The Element Matrix could be any of the possible permutations and therefore, result in different power effects. The newly found or created symbols and signs could be added into the Matrix, but the very center of the Matrix – the six-sided star – would remain unchanged. It was said to be the creation of the sharpest minds and the most fundamental lever by which sorcery knowledge could be put into good use.
Glenn took out a white paper and a quill and began to copy the symbols and signs in the Basics of the Elements. As he was scratching his quill on the paper, he was actually using his mental strength to write them in his soul, and his soul had to be very familiar with these symbols and signs before their permutations were able to be accepted and engraved in soul, which would then complete the ultimate curing of the Element Matrix. A rejection might occur during the process, but mostly, the Curing would be finished within a year for most sorcerers.
Three days later, when Glenn found himself being able to write all the symbols and signs in his soul using mental strength without referring to the Basics of the Elements, he began to think that he might have some talent in this, and it turned out that he achieved the Element Matrix Curing on the tenth day of practicing.
Glenn took a deep breath and floated his crystal ball up before his face. He looked closely at the readings: Mental strength: 18 points.
“Unbelievable! That was a five point rise,” Glenn cried joyously before he murmured some spells to the crystal ball which then reverted from its brightly lit state to its original grayness.
‘Maybe it’s time to try the Fireball, like the one Sorcerer Elaine produced.’ Glenn thought to himself.
Glenn conjured up his magical force and then powered up the Element Matrix in his soul. At the moment, a teenager-fist-sized fireball appeared on Glenn’s finger tips after a puffing sound. Glenn was excited and then he flossed the fireball into the air, which drew a fire streak in the air. The fireball hit the crystal ball and relapsed back to his hand.
“21 points of power! The Fireball had 21 points of offense power! With such power, I could readily beat a knight.” Glenn rejoiced.
The power of a particular attack was affected by the “fulcrum” but was fundamentally determined by an individual’s mental strength, and usually only a quarter of hisher aggregate mental strength could be exploited within a short span of time if the user was a student, in which case, extra time would be needed for a student to converge and use the entire mental strength.
Glenn had applied 4.5 points of his whole 18 points of mental strength. That was almost a quarter of his mental strength. And he had consumed nearly 40 points of magical force to produce the fireball.
Glenn was now relieved a little bit, because with the Element Matrix cured into his soul, his chances of surviving in the upcoming First-years Sorcery Test would be greatly improved.
Pulling off the sorcery had exhausted Glenn, and he fell asleep.
After some time, he was awakened with a start by a ringing tone. It was the crystal ball that had rung. In no time, he could hear the ball speaking:
“My mentor is away now. Come quickly and bring some Marlin fish.”
Glenn recognized the voice. It was Varro, the microscope keeper, who was asking him to visit.
Glenn was also required to take along all his stuff that would be needed for the microscopic examination, because he had to use the microscope in Varro’s mentor’s room.
So Glenn packed up the rats, which had been intravenously injected medicines, to see what was going on in their cells, and a six-legged frog. The frog’s left hind leg had been deliberately amputated to be used as a host for the Gadflies, and amazingly, three additional legs had grown at the cut. The reason for that was the fact that Gadflies modified the hosts’ DNA sequences and thus, crippled the host to make them an easier prey for the crane. As a result, the Gadflies could spawn larvae in the crane.
The additional legs were not something related to evolution. By its very definition, it should involve progressive developments and gaining of new biological features, thus pushing the evolved organism to a higher level along a linear pathway through the food chain.
The disappointment aside, Glenn grabbed the pack, rushed to the Black Tower and purchased some Marlin fish at the trading market on the first floor.
“Today is your lucky day. My mentor is away on a school business.” Varro greeted Glenn with a big smile. “Now follow me and do remember: no wandering.”
Glenn and Varro were examined thoroughly by a large mechanical at the large gate at the seventh floor, which led to higher floors – the place that was off-limits to non-sorcerers.
The examination complete, they went upstairs.
“Don’t look around! Many of the school sorcerers live here. You would be thrown through the window if you rubbed them wrong,” Varro warned Glenn who was staring about and wondering why there was no one in this spacious place.
“Oh.” Glenn nodded.
After they were through 75 floors, Glenn couldn’t stop panting, with sweat all over his forehead, while Varro was as good as he could be. Staring at Glenn, Varro sneered:
“So weak? Why are you not practicing Hematology Sorcery, by the way?”
Glenn made no response.
At the 80th floor, they stopped before a room which was guarded by a lazy black cat.
“This is the customer you mentioned?” the cat asked.
“Yeah. And here is your share – five magical stones – as always, we go five-five, and here’s the Marlin fish you ordered,” Varro replied as he threw the stones and the fish to the cat.
“That guy siphoned off half the amount. I gave him 20 magical stones!” Glenn laughed in his mind.
The black cat then rose up sluggishly and stroked its face before it seized the bag of fish with his teeth and jumped onto the top of a large fish tank beside it.
The tank was nine-feet-wide and ten-feet-high, and in it, a score of grim-looking fish were swimming, displaying their sharp and long teeth from time to time.