As William experienced the next year, he thought a lot about dreams. He knew that while dreaming a dream, it was easy to be convinced that years of events had happened. However, he also knew that thinking about dreaming in a dream often let you realize the situation. Moreso, he’d had dreams in this new world, though that didn’t entirely discount the situation, since dreams about dreams were also possible. That said, he was entirely convinced by the clarity of his experiences. Even if he were dreaming, it wouldn’t hurt to act like it were real, and it would be disastrous to do otherwise if he were not.
Thus, William Stevenson, as he thought of himself, although names were somewhat different in this world, walked around his house and explored. His actions were obviously very consternating to his parents, but that didn’t stop his curiosity. Everything was slightly different, although it was quite recognizably a house. As far as he could tell, his parents were merchants. He was somewhat disappointed they weren’t wizards, and that he hadn’t seen any evidence of magic so far. He tried not to get his hopes up about becoming a wizard, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He really wanted to be a wizard.
His parents were very concerned about his actions, since he didn’t act anything like they expected a normal baby to act. Although his only way to get his needs met before he could speak had been wails, now he could communicate simple things. He was far too patient for a child of his age, and far too inquisitive. He’d wanted to act like a normal child, but he realized he didn’t really know how that was supposed to work. He’d like to explain that he was exploring and learning, but he didn’t really know how to say that. To humor his parents, he sometimes played with the ball they got him. In addition to humoring his parents, he did it because he got bored. The final reason, which he didn’t like to admit to himself, was that it was pretty fun. He’d gotten a lot easier to entertain after having many months where he couldn’t do anything at all.
William trips and falls often. Privately, he’d like to pretend it was because he was a baby, but in honesty to himself, he knew that he was pretty clumsy before. Actually, he felt like he got hurt less running around after a ball as a toddler than he’d hurt himself just walking around his office at work.
William grew to two years old. Well, he wasn’t exactly sure if he was two years old as he would have previously thought. He counted the days, but he wasn’t sure if they were exactly the same length as the days he was used to, and the years were off by a few days. Specifically, 360 days to the year. The other units of time seemed the same, or very close, which was good news.
His parents considered him a genius. William wanted to believe that, but he wasn’t good at lying to himself. He came with a lifetime of memories, after all, and the cognitive development that came with that, somehow. He did think that his brain was currently good for absorbing new information such as language, as well. He was doing much better picking up the language of this world than he’d done in school learning Spanish. He did have to admit that he had nothing else to spend time on, and that helped too.
At two years old, his pronunciation was not yet perfect, but some of that was his undeveloped vocal muscles, he thought. He was glad he could think as he used to, since his brain was that of a child again. Obviously, there was something special going on here. Well, reincarnation, for one thing.
Though his parents considered him a little genius, he struggled with some things he thought should have been easy. Colors and numbers were tough. He didn’t have any trouble learning the numbers until after ten. Actually, the real problem came after eleven, though at first he didn’t realize it. Eventually, he discovered what the problem was. He’d been assigning names of numbers to those he knew, on a one to one basis. That would have been fine, but the mathematical system was in base 12. It took him a long time to get used to the change. There was the convenient benefit of all the time units suddenly making some amount of sense. 60 seconds and minutes were multiples of twelve, and 24 hours and 360 days were also multiples of twelve. There were also 12 months of 30 days. 30 was… 2 ½ twelves, which was still pretty good.
The colors, he thought, shouldn’t have been a problem. After all, colors were the same everywhere. Indeed, there were no new colors in this reality. However, they had different distinctions for colors, and different names for them. The one now known as William remembered a study he had read in his previous world. The study had determined that cultures that don’t have names differentiating certain colors had a harder time picking out similar, unnamed colors out from a group of colors that were exactly the same, except for one. However, this similar color was not seen as different, since there was no name for it. So, he had to learn the new distinctions, and the words for them. Even realizing that, he wasn’t great at it. He’d likely never be an interior designer.
The thing that he was happiest about, though, was his progress in language. He was now able to carry on simple conversations with his parents. The first thing he got them to teach him was, “I don’t know the word for what I’m trying to say.” He needed to use that elaborate sentence frequently. He still retained the ability to create more complex sentences, but he was limited to simpler words than he might have liked to use. Sometimes he had difficulty prompting word he wanted to learn, since he couldn’t even explain the concept yet. He did start getting his parents to teach him to read.
William was sitting on his father’s lap, having a book read to him. He had a huge grin on his face, specifically because the book was about wizards. He loved books about wizards. At first, he hadn’t let such books get his hopes up, after all there were plenty of stories about wizards on Earth. Many children’s stories are filled with fantastical, unreal things. However, he learned early how to ask if something was real or not real. He hadn’t been sure at first if his parents were trying to keep up some childhood illusion by insisting wizards were real, but he knew they were consistent about everything, once they knew he was really interested in the truth. Thus, he had concluded that wizards were real. William wanted nothing more than to be a wizard when he grew up, again.
He’d also learned some about the country he lived in, Ostana. The capital city, Canta, was where he lived. Luckily, this city also had one of the world’s largest wizard academies! In recent years, they had been accepting quite a few new students.
Although it was good they were accepting students, it was unfortunate that their numbers were so low that they had to recruit more than in the past. However, it could not be helped. Every occupation was lacking people but in a state of growth. The reason for this was very simple, but almost unbelievable at first.
In fact, a demon king had risen bringing a large army, and been defeated not many years before William was born. The war had been very taxing, and many people had died, including many soldiers and wizards. This also included the populations of many towns that had been destroyed. Fortunately, the world was on its path to a strong recovery, but William heard numbers that as many as a third- one third! of some countries populations had died in the war.
On the notes he was keeping in his head about why he might have been reincarnated into this world, William crossed out the line that said, “Defeat a demon king”.
Soon, it was William’s fourth birthday. Instead of the normal presents a four year old would receive, he got something special. A book! While books were less common in this world than where he came from, they were not so rare that just any book would be special. This, however, was a magic book.
Not that the book itself was magical. Instead, it was a book about magic, and magical theory. Calling it a book might be a bit of an exaggeration, since there were only around twenty pages. Two dozen, if William were to use the terminology common to his new world.
Although he was now familiar with the language here, there are still many words he didn’t know. Thus, his second present, the dictionary, came into effect. The dictionary was the length of a real book, but was probably less expensive than the magic book by a significant margin.
William doesn’t expect to get much in the way of presents next year. Although his parents thought of him as a little genius, he doubted they would spend such large amounts of money on him every year. Well, he was mature enough to get by without more presents anyway. After all, for most of his previous life he’d celebrated his birthday alone, or not at all. William was disappointed to think about that fact, so he moved his thoughts back to his new magic book.
He had plenty of time to struggle through the hard words, and eventually read everything contained in the pages of the magic book. As a theory, it was not too far from what existed in games he’d played. Generally, there are funny hand motions and a series of spoken words, and then mana was added to complete the spell. Mana seems to be an energy that floats around everywhere. Wizards were called that because they could harness mana to perform spells. The best wizards were good at making efficient use of that energy, and thus could cast more powerful spells, or just more of them, before the nearby mana is depleted. There was also some mental drain on the caster, obviously.
William had quite a good grasp on the mechanics after he was done reading his present. He wanted to try the simple “light” spell written in the pages, but he had trouble figuring out how to add mana. Generally, someone would just “feel it”, if stories he had read were any indication. Not that he wanted to base his thoughts too much on stories.
Well, he didn’t let that bother him. Wizards generally had to go through an “awakening” to really make use of magic. William wasn’t sure how that happened, but he would keep trying things out to see if they worked. After all, with magic this familiar feeling, surely one of the stories had to be close.