Some people might question what value someone who used to be an Archmage would get from attending a magical academy. What would there be to learn? There were several incorrect assumptions with that idea. First was that an Archmage knew everything there was to know about magic. That, then, delved into the idea of what magic was. In the simplest terms, magic was anything caused by mana that was properly agitated to perform what was desired. Usually, this was by a chant, or the sound waves from a chant plus something related to the wizard’s will. That was the most mysterious part, how magic did what the wizard desired, to an extent. However, the study of magic was only partly about manipulation of mana itself. The more important parts came in studying the natural world- physics, chemistry, biology, and really anything else. Knowing how things worked helped a wizard do similar things, or more easily work against the natural order to do what they wanted. Some wizards understood this, and some merely went through the motions.
William knew some special pieces of information from his first life, but that didn’t mean he’d fully understood every subject then. He just knew about the various chemical elements and things like cells and bacteria. He wasn’t sure if there weren’t actually different or new chemical elements here, or if they were just special compounds. This world had enough time to discover many things, even during William’s three lives here. Why, then, did technology not advance in any significant way? William posited that the most educated people were wizards, who viewed everything more with the idea of it interacting with mana, instead of just on their own. The Demon King wars probably didn’t help much either, with a large amount of information being intentionally destroyed.
William hadn’t known everything there was to know when he was Archmage… and then he’d had a life where he only studied magic as a hobby instead of as a profession. Plus, he was now in a new place, which had some new things to learn- or at least a different way of thinking about old things. The earlier courses William took weren’t especially enlightening, but they reminded him of things he didn’t remember in full, and very occasionally introduced new ideas. The most important thing, though, was he got practical experience with magic this time.
William was listening to a lecture in a class called “Magical Formations and Crafting”. It was a much more fulfilling class when he could actually do something with the information. The class was taught directly by Headmistress Lorenz, which was interesting. He hadn’t known she was a professor as well, because that wasn’t necessarily the case with a headmistress. Her lessons were straightforward and practical. This kind of material had certain properties, which made it useful for these kinds of components. William thought there might be too much emphasis on defensive mechanics for magical robes and other things for use in combat… but he’d learned she also taught the magical dueling classes, so it made sense.
“Recently, a new kind of formation has come along that is rather interesting. The basic structure is rather standard… but there are some interesting components in it.” William was interested in seeing what this new thing was, but instead of drawing on the board or bringing in an example, the class walked to a different location on campus. The class came to a room, and the headmistress provided further instructions. “The room is rather small, so a few of you at a time go through and look at things, then come out and tell me what you noticed.”
Going in a few at a time really only meant there would be four groups or so, with the dozenish students in this particular class. William found it interesting that there was actually one professor attending the class as well. He didn’t speak much so it was hard to say if he was new to the subject, just brushing up on his knowledge, or attending for some other reason. The first group went through. “It’s cold,” one of the students observed.
Headmistress Lorenz nodded. “True. What else?”
“Umm… there’s food? Like a pantry.”
“Right. I was hoping for some more interesting revelations, but we’ll give everyone else a chance first.”
The second group went through, with Matfey in it- there weren’t that many different classes, or total students, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the same people in everything. Matfey was a bit more specific as he came out. “There’s summer vegetables. Still fresh.”
Headmistress Lorenz just nodded, but smiled slightly.
The third group had nothing much to say, and William went through in the fourth and final group. Well, he wasn’t surprised to find what he did. It was a refrigerator- his design. That made him a little bit nervous, so he did some quick checks. Fortunately, it was complete- including the provisions to keep it from removing bacteria from people. Not that it would be dangerous over a short period anyway… but William remembered how unpleasant it had been. When they got out, seeing nobody else volunteered any information, William made some observations. “There were two parts of the formation. One of them was specifically to keep it cold.”
“Oh yeah!” Matfey spoke up at that point, “And the other one was to keep umm… something out, but not like… always.”
Headmistress Lorenz nodded. “It has long been known that cold can preserve food for longer. Freezing things has the longest effects, but while food in such environments can last for a very long time, there are some deterioration effects. This doesn’t have the negative effects of freezing, and the results are still quite enduring. However, just the cold isn’t enough. The other part is also necessary.”
“What does the other part do?” Matfey asked.
“Well, we don’t know exactly. As you said, it keeps something out, sometimes. That something would be… very small animals, based on the structure… but not when the very small animals are with a much larger animal? It’s not clear why that helps, but it does.”
One student spoke up, “Well, rats getting into food is really bad for it.”
“True, but in this case rats seem to count as one of the ‘much larger’ animals. There’s a reward for anyone who can figure out why it works.” Left unsaid was her doubt that any of the students would be able to figure it out.
“Well, why don’t you just ask the creator about it?”
Headmistress Lorenz clicked her tongue. “This was one of a number of formations we purchased… and we lost the information on where they came from. Well, we’re sending someone back through the latest route so we’ll get the information again. This reward will probably only be available for a few months before we can ask the creator, so if you want the chance you better work quick.”