[The Forest] Midnight Oil

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Straken
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[The Forest] Midnight Oil

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Later in the day following Ruarc’s jog into town, he had spent the better part of day relaxing in the garden with Caoranach; and Alva bounced between plodding around the plants and snoozing near Ruarc’s chair. The Druid was scribbling away making notes, while the faerie was curled on the bench beneath the rowan tree sketching on some loose leaf paper. She was planning some new outfit designs, and he was doing some work he’d been long meaning to do. The day drew on towards noon as Drysi and Willow meandered over to use the study, and Laoise was off at practice. A few handfuls of students were scattered around the grounds doing their own studies, but overall it was a comfortably quiet afternoon.

The day was getting on and many of the students had left the grounds to think about dinner. Ruarc had done the same, preparing a tidy meal of grilled burgers and a light salad of garden greens with plenty made up for Drysi and Willow to enjoy. Once the meal wrapped, Caoranach went upstairs to help the girls with some quizzing, and Ruarc announced he was going to go for a walk; wishing the girls a good night as they’d probably be heading back to the dorms by the time he returned.

Dusk was setting in as Ruarc wandered into the woods. The crickets had come out, and somewhere along the mountainside an owl was hooting. Walking down the slope, Ruarc was making his way down to the riverbank that Kat and Johann had visited during their first exercise. By the time he got there the sky was settling into the deep blue of late twilight. The air had become cool and slightly clammy as the humidity of the day settled into the valley. At the edge of the bank, Ruarc kept a small pile of wood for times like this. Carrying some of the wood to the small fire ring a short way up from the elevated waterline, he prepared some tinder and kindling before striking a match and shedding some light onto his own little getaway. Once the fire was burning reliably, Ruarc stepped back and basked in the ambience for a short time.

Paper rustled in his pocket as he shifted. Pulling it out, Ruarc unfolded the sheet torn from his notebook. All afternoon he had been hard at work working on magical theories. It had been a long while since the Druid had added a new spell to his catalog, and longer still since it had been an offensive spell. Over the past year or so he’d noticed he had been slowing down, at least as far as his training was concerned. It had been easy to miss, but with the recent battles with his old allies it had become easily noticeable. The others had become quite strong in their magic, but Ruarc had plateaued. While he had become more proficient, adding armor and utility to his arsenal as well as training his reaction time and magical focusing, he hadn’t necessarily added much to his offense.
So you better learn yerself some'in good, cuz ye know he ain't takin a snooze.
Jane’s words still haunted him months later. She’d been right, of course. Had Ruarc not thought to ask Jane to join him in France, he still wondered how things would have gone. Compounding this, during the Second Elementia Incursion, Ruarc had only performed on an adequate level thanks to the Garnet Gem and the Rune Gauntlet. He was finding more and more that he was relying on others or tools to get him through encounters rather than his own power. But no more. Ruarc was the oldest of the group, and had always felt like getting hurt was fine if it meant others stayed safe. That meant he needed to knuckle down and get serious about his own training.

In theory, this would help him instruct Drysi as well, as the creation of a new spell incorporated important core aspects of Druid training. First and foremost, inspiration. As much as he disliked it, he was taking a page from Alexei. During their encounter in France, he had used two different versions of the same spell. His Razor Wind. A focused version, and a more erratic and destructive version. The differences came down to how he channeled his magic into the air. The chant for the spell was also important, but existed more as a way for mages to guide their mana. So at this point Ruarc would need to pick a spell to try and alter, or devise a new one. That is what he’d spent his day doing, and he believed he’d found one.

Dragon Fire.

In his younger days, the spell had been Ruarc’s proudest spell. The most difficult to cast in his catalog, it had also been the spell he’d used to pass his trial to become a fully recognized Keeper. As an added matter of pride, it had been created by his own grandfather. In recent days however, he’d used it far less. It felt cumbersome, and rarely seemed to suit the situations he found himself in. So he was going to alter it.

The fire crackled in front of him. Closing his eyes, Ruarc felt the warmth on his face, and how that warmth affected himself and the area around him. It was energetic, similar to how he would channel lightning, but diffused around him like when working with air. To channel fire magic, he needed to create a channel extending outward from his palm, creating a pathway for the energy to follow while also consolidating it down into the blast of fire. In its original form, the spell required more focus than other fire spells as it created a formed head that amplified its striking power; and indeed, times when he’d needed to cast it quickly the dragon head was often ignored.

“Créatúr na tine, theilgthe breithiúnas” Ruarc chanted as he pointed his palm outward. Brilliant light formed and spread outward as a gout of flame shot out over the water. In a blazoned roar, a large dragon head formed and snaked its way down the river before arcing up into the sky where Ruarc released the spell.

He held his pose for a minute, memorizing how the spell felt from start to finish, and how the words of the chant focused the spell to how he wanted the flames to manifest. Step one would be determining the form of the new spell, then how the magic would need to be focused, an incantation to aid in consistent manifestation, and then of course practical application.

“You’re going to be tired tomorrow if you keep this up,” said a voice from the edge of the forest. Looking over his shoulder, Ruarc saw Caoranach leaning against a tree.

“Haven’t been down here that long,” Ruarc called back. Caoranach simply pointed upwards. Following her finger, he saw what she was getting at. The moon had risen high in the sky.

And that last log you threw on the fire was the last log,” she almost purred; she sounded tired. Clad in a cozy looking knit sweater and some jeans, Carrie wrapped her arms around herself as she strode across the pebbly bank. “It’s a little after two; you’ve been out here all night.”

“Wow,” Ruarc sounded almost dumbfounded at how he had lost track of time. Carrie eventually joined him by the fire and snuggled close to him.

“You smell like smoke,” she chuckled.

“Let’s head back up after this log burns down,” the Irishman said, feeling a yawn set in.
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