I Thought That I Had
I kept quiet for the jog up to the river, thoughts still flowing around in my head but a quick rap from Master’s beak brought me away from my reflection. Time for action instead of dwelling that cannot change reality.
Looking at the river I was fighting the urge to think about fishing. The water flowing calmly downstream certainly kept a pleasant atmosphere. Only a dozen meters or so across, it was shallow enough that there was no need for a bridge, ordinary people could just wade across and the horse pulled carts and wagons would have limited problems with mud. With no fear of being swept away. A Gingerbread Man would, on the other hand, have a rough time and get soggy if not dissolved if he couldn’t stay about the water.
“Now we just need to make it wide enough to keep him from jumping across.”
Taking off from my head he fluttered over to a branch on a low hanging tree and looked at me with a discerning eye.
“Time for the next part of yer training. Because ye can draw power from yer elements ye can manipulate them. Direct manipulation can be many times more difficult than using magic, and precise manipulation is something that can take years of training. Fortunately, your elements don’t need as much skill to manipulate for our purposes.”
I’m not sure if I’m being insulted or complimented right now.
“Because both elements are easy to move if they are not already in motion all it takes is adding a little power to get them going in the direction ye desire. It’s not any major problem at all.”
“So how and what am I trying to do?”
“Stick yer arm in the river. I want you to feel out for the mana that resides inside it.”
Rolling up my sleeves and going prone by the riverbed stick my right arm inside the water and close my eyes reaching out trying to get a grasp of the magic in the water. There was a very light presence I could feel, something flowing along that felt slightly familiar to me, but it was faint.
“I can feel something, but it’s very diluted.”
“Aye, the drawback of wind and water is the concentration of mana within them. It’s easier to draw and find but at the same time, it is spread out. Now, I want you to focus with your arm, reach out to the mana like you are summoning your staff. Except instead of summoning I want you to connect with the mana in the river, use enough within you to make that connection and hold onto it.”
I nod my head, eyes closed, reaching out and feeling for the mana within the water, it was slippery at first but I managed to lightly grasp it, the trick I found was to find a strand and just sort of wrap my own magic around it, letting the strand flow through instead of trying to grip tightly and break it as the rest of the connected mana flows downstream.
“I got it.”
“Good work. Now, this is the tricky part. I want ye to try and push the mana side to side, spread it out make the water break past the banks.”
“Master, it’s hard just to hold on to it.”
“Imagine creating a dam. Yer mana is a wall that blocks in the water and mana together, pushing them to flow to either side while the wall moves side to side.”
I tightened my face in concentration, trying to do as he said. It was fascinating how the mana acted just like water as I tried to do as Master had asked. The mana brushing against the wall I was making and just slipped along the sides flowing downstream just slightly agitated when I tried to move it around.
This idea wasn’t working well at all. I could feel some grumbling from Master about how different this was from earth manipulation. I opened my eyes to see him looking irritated as he moved back and forth across the branch he was perched on. I get the feeling he wasn’t sure how to proceed with this now.
“It just takes some getting used to, ye just have to figure out how to manipulate the mana in the water. Ye’ve got some time. So… Why don’t ye keep experimenting while I go find the Fox. Two birds, one stone and all that.”
I wasn’t sure if that was a good analogy for him to use in his present form, but I nodded my head and returned back to trying to solve this problem while he flew off, half curious how he was supposed to get the fox to help without being eaten himself.
Master’s way of doing things seemed to be for his own element, which I’m guessing he was Green back in his days as Pagemaster. I guess the elements each have their own ways of manipulation. Making a dam certainly sounds like an earth way of dealing with water. It would certainly work fairly easy to get the water to increase here.
Taking a deep breath I start moving my arm around in the water, watching the ripples float across the surface and feeling the mana flowing around my fingers. Even if it was dammed up that wouldn’t guarantee a raise or widening of water levels. It’s called manipulation anyways, a wall is just blocking things not manipulation. Continuing to move my hand through the water I try to reach out and push and pull along the mana, giving tiny pushes. I could feel it swirling between my fingers starting to gather like a mini whirlpool.
Looking at the water I could see something starting to happen under the surface. Getting a little excited I tried to reach more with my mana and start pushing the flow between my fingers out to the other side of the river. The water started to churn slightly, making small waves in the water flowing across to the other side, growing a size or two higher from ordinary ripples.
It wasn’t much, but it was certainly in the right direction. I began to try and work it more forcefully, trying to use only the mana instead of my hand so I could tell the difference in the splashes I was making versus the ones the mana was. I could make out sloshing noises now, the water was starting to fall under my power.
Trying something else, I lifted my hand up slowly from the water, trying to coax the flow of mana to follow it, a small stream followed my fingers up, though it was quickly losing its size turning into a small thread that connected from my fingers to the river, water that was flowing with mana I was controlling. Water that was currently in a spire pointing about thirty centimeters off the surface.
Maybe I could get this to work. I continued to work with the mana in my hand, reaching up and down, seeing how far I could stretch the river away from its source, gathering more and trying to make the spire of water larger. Trying to see how far I could extend the connection and grasp I had over this new power I was getting used to. I was now managing to stand up and have the water spire actually start to bend across the riverbed without touching the ground or the rest of the river.
A part of me wished I had some sort of Heads Up Display for more information. I guess I could check the watch later if I can remember. I would also need to try this with the wind and air later as well, see how big the difference was in manipulating either of them. The cost to do this seemed a bit low as well, though that could simply be my own recovery power at work keeping me near full strength.
Now that I had a firm idea of how far I could pull the water out from its source, it was time to try and see how far I could reach into the river. Dropping the spire back into the water I started trying to handle the mana out of my grasp, using what was near to try and move the rest.
It almost felt like I was straining myself at first, like reaching for something dropped under a kotatsu without crawling under to fetch it. Slowly I began to get a grasp of the limit of my reach, I could use what was nearby with simple tugs and pulls to manipulate and bend the mana further away like a puppet on strings.
All the while during these experiments I was starting to formulate what I needed to do. Starting from the river’s edge I made the spire and walked several meters away, taking a deep breath as I began to work with the flow of the mana and change the flow of the river.
Under the surface of the water, the mana began to move and swirl counter to the river’s natural flow, I was working with the principals of the undertow. It took a few minutes but slowly the water began to back up and rise along the banks. The best part about this manipulation was that after the initial movements of turning the river back on itself it became much easier to maintain.
After twenty or so minutes I had the river lapping at my feet, successfully building up the river to almost a hundred meters across. With luck, I would be able to undo all of this afterward and restore the river back to its natural course. All that remained to be found was a fox and a Gingerbread Man.