Two lalafell children give each other a magic lesson. Zeelo agrees to teach Calex some white magiic in exchange for Calex teaching him synthesis summoning, to become part carbuncle.
By this point most people who had been enrolled in the arcanist guild were used to Calex so that he no longer got stares wondering through the halls. The six-and-a-half-year-old lalafell was strange, but had been around long enough to not quite be a spectacle anymore. People had simply gotten used to the fact he ran around naked and didn’t seem to actually own any clothing, as well as the fact that he had a pair of wings, a tail, claws, and horns protruding from his head thanks to channeling aether from the dreadwyrm. He had been doing it awhile now, and not gone crazy or snapped so the shock of it had worn off. Other than the lack of clothes and being part dragon, he looked like a normal lalafell child, one with long orange hair tied back in a ponytail and strangely cat-like yellow-green eyes.
As a result of them being used to him, no one paid much attention when he showed up at the guild one day with a friend, another six-and-a-half-year-old lalafell who was also completely naked head to toe, the only item on him an appropriately sized staff for his age. If anything he was more normal to Calex, as he was completely lalafell, no extra monster bits, and had messy brown hair and blues eyes. Anyone who was used to Calex was going to assume his friends were just as strange and so no one attempted to hinder or even so much as bat an eye as Zeelo followed Calex through the arcanist guild.
The two children worked their way through the halls and then down the spiral stairs into the basement. There was a ring set up here for practicing of magic, Calex peered over the railing down into the ring seeing it occupied and shook his head. Instead he started to check the nearby doors that led to classrooms to see if any were empty. Upon finally finding one where they wouldn’t be disturbed, he opened the classroom door, waved Zeelo in and then shut it behind them and locked it. Then the two took a couple of minutes to get the lights going in the room so that they weren’t doing this completely in the dark.
“You’re sure this is allowed?” Zeelo asked Calex once the classroom was well lit. He hopped up onto one of the desks and let his legs swing idly as gave the orange haired lalafell a look.
“Of course it is.” Calex beamed as he put his hands on his hips. “Knowledge is meant to be shared. In fact, pretty sure this is the type of thing that they encourage.”
“Then why are we being so careful to make sure we’re completely alone for the process?” Zeelo asked.
“Because just because it’s the type of thing they encourage doesn’t mean it’s what they want -me- doing.” Calex flashed a mischievous grin. “We’re not breaking any rules, but a concerned adult might put a stop to our experiment. Then if we continued anyway we’d get in trouble for disobeying a professor. But, if no one sees us till after we’re done then we can’t get in trouble because we never technically broke any rules.”
“And why would they try to stop us?” Zeelo stuck his tongue out. He knew the answer. But as Calex’s friend, he was obligated to give him a little bit of a hard time every now and then.
“Well… For some reason they think my methods of summoning are… Dangerous.” Calex rubbed the back of his head. “And that I get too many funny ideas that should only be tried by experts who have studied the art for years and not an unsupervised child.” Calex was definitely an unorthodox caster. In the traditional sense of how one would think of any type of mage, he was completely hopeless. Even the most basic ruin spell was beyond his normal abilities. However, he had a strange gift with summoning if it could still be called summoning. He absorbed aether into himself, changing his body, and with that change gaining magical skill on par with master arcanists. That was the reason he was part dragon right now, as he currently had some of Bahamut’s aether running through his body empowering him. “Like I haven’t been studying just as long.”
“Eh?” The last remark got a strange look from Zeelo. Calex was… Weird. In a good way he was fun to hang out with, and Zeelo had picked up some of Calex’s weird habits himself. However, every now and then Calex did or said something that made him sound… Older. Maybe that wasn’t quite the right word, but he seemed to have far more years of knowledge under his non-existent belt than six and a half years. The truth was, Zeelo wasn’t entirely sure if Calex was really even a lalafell. “What do you mean?”
“Don’t worry about it.” The same response Calex always gave when this subject came up. “For now time to get started. One Synthesis Summoner lesson in exchange for healing lesson, right?” That was what the two of them were here to do, each learn a little bit about the other’s school of magic, and hopefully be able to use some of it on their own before the day was over. Learning the magics of other guilds was highly encouraged, so Calex had been correct on that. The problem was… Calex was well… Calex.
You weren’t supposed to just use your own body as a conduit to channel the aether of carbuncles or primals and transform yourself. That simply wasn’t how it was done. There were an endless amount of dangers that could come as a result of this. Naturally, where the primals were concerned there was the threat of the young lalafell becoming tempered, or worst becoming something resembling a primal himself. Neither one ever actually occurred, and after a few months without incidents most of the guild had calmed down about it.
But Calex was still fairly certain they’d try to stop him from teaching this stuff to someone else.
“Okay.. Let’s get started.” As Calex spoke he floated in the air for a moment as his horns, wings and tail glowed brightly then disappeared. At the same time the scales around his hands and feet and his claws vanished at the same time. He was back to being just a normal lalafell. “So, should I give you an arcanist lesson first, or you want to get the conjuring lesson out of the way?”
“Well…” Zeelo was very eager for this lesson. He couldn’t help but feel a tad jealous when he saw Calex running around in his synthesis forms. Especially carbuncle form. Those tails looked so soft, and ears he had to remind himself not to pet because Calex was another student not a house pet. Though he suspected Calex would hardly mind. However, despite how eager he was too start, he worried about coming off as demanding if he got his lesson first.
Then again… Calex was bound to completely screw up even the most basic white magic spell while he was a full lalafell. The white magic lesson would be completely impossible until Calex transformed again, and since he was going to do the transformation to walk Zeelo though it, well… There really was no choice but for Zeelo to learn to carbuncle up first. A fact he took much glee in once he realized.
“I think you should give your lesson first.” Zeelo said firmly. “Then I can teach you some white magic while we’re both in carbuncle form.”
“Hmmm, that is probably for the best.” Calex looked mildly annoyed, though not at Zeelo. Calex was not the type of person to get upset about a spell backfiring. If anything, it made it fun to work through. But, in normal lalafell form spells didn’t backfire, they just fizzled out and did nothing. And that was irritating. Calex wanted to do magic in his normal form, but it was like there was something blocking it that he couldn’t get past without transforming into something else. He enjoyed his transformations, but he really wished he could do magic normally too.
“So… I know you’ve explained a little bit about it to me before.” Zeelo spoke up to distract Calex from his soured mood. “You said you channel the aether into your body.”
“Right.” Calex nodded. “Since you’re studying at the Conjurer’s Guild I imagine you’re already more than familiar with the different elements and the flow of aether.”
“Yeah…” Zeelo nodded.
“Alright, do you understand how crystals work, and why the beast tribes amass them to summon primals?” Calex asked.
“Um…” Zeelo had to think back. Not all of these things were covered at the kindergarten level. But, like Calex, Zeelo possessed some knowledge beyond what his current age should have, though not to nearly the same degree. Basically, there was a non-zero chance that Zeelo might have once been older, even an adult before he started hanging out with Calex. But those days were less fun. “A primal basically needs a lot of concentrated aether for it to form a body. And of course it needs fervor as well. A combination of belief and massive amount of crystals to provide the needed aether and you get a primal.”
“Bingo.” Calex grinned. “You already understand most of synthesis summoning already.” He grinned. “Now, do you know how aether crystals are formed?”
“That one’s easy.” Zeelo chuckled. “It’s when aether becomes extremely concentrated in a single location that it solidifies into a crystal. It’s kind of like a gas going becoming ice, just skipping the liquid step in between.”
“And crystals get made in a ton of ways. Areas where certain elemental aether is exceptionally common produces them naturally, and of course places where the elements have gone out of control. But… Ever try to make an aether crystal?” Calex asked already knowing the answer.
“No…” Zeelo shook his head. “But, I think I get where you’re going. It’s theoretically possible. Gather aether just like when I’m preparing a spell, but just continue gathering one element until there’s so much of it that a physical crystal forms.”
“Exactly.” Calex nodded. “But you’re not just going to make a crystal you can hold, you’re going to be the crystal.”
“Wait what?” This Zeelo had not expected.
“Not turn into one, but instead of gathering the aether into one spot till it forms a crystal, you’re going to absorb it into your body; it creates a crystal within you.” It was clear Calex was having fun with the lesson.
“Okay… But…” Zeelo was confused. “If there’s an actual physical crystal inside me pretty sure that’s going to be painful. I mean, where does it go? Does it sit in my stomach or something?”
“Nope.” Calex tapped Zeelo on the head. “What do all carbuncles have on their forehead?”
“A gemstone.” Zeelo replied without hesitation.
“A type of crystal.” Calex grinned. “The crystal you form is going to be embedded in your forehead. Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. Once you have the crystal formed, all that’s left is belief. You’re not trying to become an actual god, just part carbuncle to enhance your magic so you don’t need an entire beast tribe worth of fervor. Self-confidence, believing you can accomplish the transformation is the final key changing forms.”
“So the transformation just relies on a crystal and belief?” Zeelo looked Calex up and down. “No wonder your teachers were worried, that’s the exact recipe for a primal.”
“Perhaps, but there is one very important difference.” Calex actually seemed serious for once as he explained this. “Primals gorge themselves on aether to maintain their form. Left unchecked, they’d drain the land dry. After your crystal is created, you won’t be absorbing any further aether. Instead, the crystal is all you need to maintain your form. After that, you’ll only rely on aether as you normally do for casting spells, but find it’ll be much easier to manipulate in your new form.”
“Wait, that doesn’t make sense.” Zeelo spotted something wrong. Specifically, the form Calex had been in before the lesson started. “Your dreadwyrm form has no crystal anywhere on your body. So how does that work?”
“That is a little bit more advanced.” Calex’s tone was still serious. “If you want, I’ll teach it to you, but you need to master the basics first. For that though, I’m not channeling aether from the elements, but I’m stealing it directly from the dreadwyrm himself.”
“Right. Just carbuncles for now.” Zeelo nodded. He wouldn’t mind being able to fly like a dragon, but right now he just wanted to have three really fluffy tails.
“Okay, I’m going to demonstrate.” Calex stood in the center of the room. “Once you’ve mastered this, the transformation is nearly instantaneous. However, I’m going to go slow so you can actually see the steps and know how to mimic them.”
“Right!” Zeelo leaned forward waiting for the lesson.
“First, channel the aether. I’m going to use fire for this example.” Calex closed his eyes, and after a few seconds a glowing fire opal appeared on his forehead. “Then concentrate it into a crystal on your head. Then the next part is the hard part. Fervor. Believe you will transform. See your new shape in your head. If you do not truly believe the transformation will occur, then it won’t. You can’t allow for any skepticism.” As Calex spoke, tree orange tails sprouted from the tip of his spine. His feet became more paw-like as orange fur covered them. Similar fur covered his hands, and his ears grew out into large orange furred rabbit-like ears. “And that’s all there is to it.”
“Hey… What type of carbuncle are you anyway?” Zeelo had seen Calex in this form before. The first time he had assumed it was a ruby carbuncle. But his fur was orange not red, and the stone was clearly not a ruby.
“Fire opal, I feel it fits my personality better.” Calex explained. “If you want, you can try different elements and different gemstones to create new carbuncle forms. Whatever element you use will be the type of magic that comes easier while transformed. You could easily become a water or lightning elemental carbuncle if you wished. Even light or darkness. But, for your first lesson, let’s keep it simple and stick to wind aether and emerald. We’ll practice different forms of carbuncle, and maybe let you make your own once you’ve got the basics nailed down.”
“Right.” Zeelo had seen Calex change many times before, but it had always been over in an instant. Seeing it slowed down, and having it explained to him he felt he understood how it worked now. He was basically turning himself into a pseudo-primal of sorts.
He focused on gathering wind aether, copying Calex’s instructions exactly as explained. It was a familiar sensation. After all this was what he did to cast aero. However, instead of releasing the aether as a spell once it was powerful enough, he continued to gather additional aether. As the aether within him grew denser it grew harder to control. It didn’t want to be contained. Zeelo was surprised just how hard he had to concentrate to keep it from going wild. But slowly he continued to gather aether and soon his crystal formed. A ruby atop his head. He always found it strange emerald carbuncles had rubies instead of emeralds, but now was not the time to focus on that. He had done it, he had created a crystal.
The next part should be easy, all it required was belief. But… Zeelo wondered if it could really be that simple. As he faltered in his thoughts he felt aether starting to escape the crystal. Calex had warned him! He couldn’t have any doubts at all! And… Calex had done this a million of times. Sometimes multiple times in rapid succession before going out for the day, like how someone who actually wore clothes might have trouble picking what to wear to a party. That was proof it could be done. For Calex at least… Calex was special after all, he wasn’t a normal lalafell.
Once more Zeelo felt the gathered aether starting to break free. He forced himself to concentrate.
Calex may not have been a normal lalafell and bound to the normal rules of magic, but he was completely hopeless as a spellcaster. And this was definitely a spell. That meant even if Calex was special, for him to be able to do this it had to be really basic, easier than a simple stone or ruin spell. Zeelo was quite a bit more accomplished in his understanding of spellcasting. If Calex could manage a spell, then to someone who was actually good at magic it should be easy. That’s right. It was easy! He understood all the basic principles behind the transformation and they made sense. All that was missing was that final little bit of belief. Just a few tiny doubts nagging at his mind were the only thing stopping the spell from going off. And once he understood that he broke through those doubts immediately.
Three glowing green tails sprouted from the end of Zeelo’s spine. His transformation mirrored Calex’s, as his feet became paws, fur covered them and his hands, and his ears stretched out into long rabbit-like ears. And then, just like that, it was done.
“I did it!” Zeelo shouted excitedly once he realized he had created a synthesis carbuncle form. He also became aware of something else Calex had not warned of him, but it made sense. He was more sensitive to flow of aether, especially wind aether. It would be effortless to manipulate it. He suspected e could easily cast several aero spells at the same time now with this level of awareness, or maybe something a lot more powerful.
“Once you know the steps it’s easy right?” Calex gave a small giggle enjoying his friend’s amazement. “After doing it a few times you’ll be able to jump in and out of the form nearly instantly. Oh right, to change back simply release the aether from your crystal and…” Calex realized Zeelo wasn’t paying attention. Right now he was currently holding one of his own tails and twitching the tip of it. “And take a few minutes to get used to it and have some fun.”
“Hee hee… This is what it’s like having a tail.” Zeelo spun in place. “Now do m’qote ever get anything done when they have tails to play with.”
“They are pretty neat.” Calex sounded impatient. “But this is a cross class exchange workshop. You’re supposed to teach me magic from your school too.”
“Oh right…” Zeelo stopped playing with his tails. “Well… I mean you know the basics of spellcasting in general, right? Even when you’re a normal lalafell.”
“Yeah, it just… Doesn’t work then.” Calex muttered somewhat grumpily.
“Well, as a carbuncle you’ve controlled the elements to attack, releasing their harsher side. But there is gentle nature to them too.” Zeelo explained. “You want to draw on that nature for casting, pulling in a little of multiple elements to repair a damaged body. Let’s see… You should try something basic first. I know… Regen should be easy enough!”
Zeelo held a hand up in the air. In this form he didn’t need his staff and let go of it and let it clatter to the ground. He could manipulate the aether easily without it. He felt the elements around him, felt how they were each a part of the natural world, as was both carbuncle lalafells. Then, he called on those elements to protect and heal. With both of them in carbuncle form they could sense the movement of the aether as multiple elements gathered around Calex and began to slowly heal him. Or at least they would have had he actually been hurt.
“Huh…” Calex tilted his head. “Your magic, it’s much clearer to me when you’re not using the staff.””
“Yeah.” Zeelo nodded in amazement. “I was surprised, but like this, it’s easier to manipulate aether without a tool.”
“Guess it’s my turn. Just gotta copy what you did. Focus on those elements.” Calex closed his eyes. He was aware of the different elements. He had called on each of them to assume different forms for the purpose of battle. Now he was trying to call on fragments of each of them as a method to heal. He concentrated, and slowly he began to build up the aether.
“Um Calex…” Zeelo sounded worried, but Calex was too focused to ask why.
He understood the nature of healing magic, just not the how. This was hardly his first time as a carbuncle, he had seen Zeelo cast these spells several times before, seen how he gathered the aether and never been able to reproduce it. Now he understood what he was missing. A connection. Calex normally used his body as a conduit for the elements, and then taking complete control. Here, he couldn’t control them. He had to work with them, understand how they connected him to the world. It was a side of the elements he was not familiar with but now he felt it.
“Seriously Calex…” Zeelo pleaded.
Calex was still intensely focused. All that was left was to release the spell and get it to function properly. He was going to copy the regen spell Zeelo had done… Except he couldn’t resist the chance to show off. He felt he had enough aether, he was going to cast regen on them both at the same time.
“Calex seriously that’s way too much aether.” Zeelo tried to get through to his friend. But it was too late. Calex released his spell.
The spell was not unsuccessful. Indeed, Calex had released a regenerative spell that was strong enough to heal even the most grievous of wounds and restore the body to it is earlier state. The problem was that the spell was too strong. Suddenly, both carbuncles got a lot shorter and a little chubbier as they grew younger in age. Calex’s regen was powerful enough to reverse the aging process! Which might not have been a problem had the two not already been children.
“Gah!” Zeelo fell onto his bottom as his legs grew unsteady as he became a toddler.
“I did it!” Calex managed to stay standing. He did a little twirl showing off his rejuvenated body. “And oh wow we’re small…” The spell had left the tow as toddlers, somewhere between two and three years old.
“Caaaaalex!” Zeelo whined. “I tried to warn you! You went way overboard on the spell.”
“Sorry.” Calex rubbed the back of his head and smiled sheepishly. Then he offered a hand to help Zeelo up.
“Gonna be harde to walk like this.” Zeelo muttered.
“We should grab an adventuring job then.” Calex nodded. “That’ll get us used to it in no time… And being small makes it easy to be sneaky.”
“Maybe.” Zeelo couldn’t help but grin. Calex didn’t even see the age reduction as a big deal. “Anyway, I think… We should stop the white magic lessons here while we’re both old enough to talk. You need to work on not going so completely overboard when you gather aether before you try a spell again.”
“It’s just the opposite philosophy from what I’m used to.” Calex shrugged. “Go big as possible, make the biggest boom with your spell!”
“I suppose that makes sense for offensive magic.” Zeelo conceded. Now that he had his balance he realized this wasn’t so bad. And he was so adorable now. If he was capable of picking himself up and hugging he would have.
“Anyway, let’s go find a job.” Calex started for the door. He couldn’t reach the handle now and had to jump to get it. “It’ll be the fastest way to break you into fighting as a synthesis carbuncle.”
“I guess…” Zeelo wasn’t sure the Adventurer’s Guild was going to give any missions to two and a half year olds, or however old they were. But then again Calex tended to find a way.
“Alright let’s go!” Calex finally got the door open. Then standing on the other side was one of the arcanist professors. “Uh oh.”
“What… Is this?” She demanded as she looked over Zeelo, seeing that he had copied Calex’s technique, and also the fact the two were just under half the age they used to be.
“Multi-guild collaboration study project?” Calex tried with a forced grin that showed even he knew he was in trouble.
“Doing this to yourself is bad enough, getting others involved and now messing with time?” The professor asked.
“He didn’t actually mess with time just overdid it on-“ Zeelo tried to explain but was cut off by a sharp pain on his ear. The professor had grabbed each of the carbuncle lalafells by one of their long carbuncle ears and was dragging them down the hall.
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Stop!” Calex shouted.
“You are in for another afternoon of detention young sir.” The professor stated. “You can start by writing lines again. You remember them from last time?”
“I will not perform unsanctioned experiments without administrative approval.” Calex said with a sigh.
“And you…” She looked at Zeelo. “No idea who you are, but you can share the same fate. “Probably going to have to get up on each other’s shoulders to reach the chalkboard to write anyway.
“Wait, I’m not even a student here!” Zeelo pleaded.
“Come on this wasn’t even a real experiment!” Calex tried. “I didn’t develop any new spells.”
“I don’t want to hear it.” The professor dismissed both arguments.
“But-“ Calex tried.
“No buts.” The professor opened temporarily let go of them to open a door into a new classroom then shoved both of them in. “Neither one of you are to leave until this chalk board is completely full.” She paused. “And normal sized letters!” Then she slammed the door.
“This happen to you a lot?” Zeelo asked.
“You have no idea.” Calex kicked at the floor. “No one likes how I do things.”
“So… Any plans to get out of it?” Zeelo asked hopefully.
“Nah, it’ll just be a worse punishment if we skip out on it.” Calex shrugged. “Best to just get it over with.” He looked up to the chalkboard that was out of his reach. “I’ll start, let me up on your shoulders. When one of us needs a break from writing we’ll switch.”
And so, the two started on their punishment. It wasn’t quite the afternoon of adventure they wanted but it would still let them get used to their new forms. Sadly, it would be far from the last time they both found themselves doing this again.
But the mischief and fun between such events were always worth it.