We managed to make it back out of the dungeon while only encountering one more minotaur. Fortunately Kasner had enough mana left for another patch of ice, and some smashing and clawing and stabbing later it was dead.
Our light started to get a bit weak, as everyone was pretty low on mana… but Socks kept us from taking any wrong turns on the way back. We almost missed a turn, since it wasn’t easy to see them even with proper light.
I had several things to think about, but that had to wait until morning. I wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed.
The first thing I did in the morning was take notes on our encounters. Slightly slanted corridor with boulder trap, secret room designed to trick people into thinking it was their escape. It wasn’t a terribly complicated setup, and more importantly it didn’t require anything from the monsters of the dungeon. In fact, it had even been set off by one of them in a way it would get killed.
Did that mean dungeons cared more about killing intruders than keeping its monsters alive? Though, that supposed dungeons cared about anything at all. It seemed they still had some restrictions… or they weren’t the most intelligent. The rolling trap could have been worse, but I wasn’t about to say that near a dungeon just in case it could understand me and do something about it.
The second thing I had to do was learn light magic. I could have easily been separated from everyone and without light. Sure, I had a torch in my bag, but I could easily imagine it being used up or more probably broken to bits. I didn’t want to walk around holding a ball of fire, even with a gauntleted hand. Light magic could be used in other circumstances, and if I kept it small it could even be only using as much mana as I recovered. Or, that was what I had been told anyway. I still didn’t really know much about magic, which was sort of the point here.
I asked Alhorn to teach me light magic. Kantrilla could have done it, but I thought Alhorn would be a better teacher. Kasner probably could teach me as well, but it wasn’t his specialty.
Alhorn and I sat together in a dark-ish room in the inn. The shutters didn’t exactly block all the light, but at least it kept them from sleeping in too late. Alhorn held out a hand and a small point of light appeared above it, “Using mana for magic is different than for physical skills. For those, you manipulate the mana inside your own body, but for magic it’s external… in most cases.” Alhorn shrugged, “I hear that there are more advanced physical skills which blur the line, but the point is it requires more difficult manipulation of mana.”
“Hmm, okay, so how do I start?” I understood the basic idea, but that was true of many things I couldn’t do- like playing instruments.
“The first step is to make something happen. You need to project the mana outside your body and make it do something. After that, we can work on the form. Just imagine a little ball of light… not warm like the sun, or like fire, but just light. Fire is dangerous to start with.” Alhorn let his ball of light disappear.
I nodded. That made sense. Light in small amounts was quite safe- and what I wanted to learn anyway. I concentrated, trying to make mana pop out of my hand and become light. I opened one eye to peek… but saw nothing. I shook my head. I wasn’t doing it right. First, I felt for mana. Most of the time I just used it as part of a skill instead of trying to feel it on its own. Finally, I got the feeling… then I moved it to my hand.
Moving it around inside my body was easy, but projecting it outside was harder than I would have thought. Unlike inside my body, where I just had to think about it gathering in one spot or another, it absolutely refused to go where I told it if it was outside my body. Even though my mana wasn’t being used up, I felt the mental effort. I even started sweating. Finally, after an hour I breathed out heavily, “Ugh… I don’t know if I can do it.”
“That’s okay,” Alhorn shrugged, “It might take more practice. It can be pretty hard for martial classes to learn to use magic.”
I frowned, “Why is that? Because we’re… not as smart?”
“No! Well, I mean, there are a number who lack in the necessary mental stats, but that’s not the primary reason. It’s just harder to learn magic in that sort of class. Even I would have trouble with magic outside of my area of expertise.”
“Kasner seems to be able to use ice and lighting magic pretty easily, and he can even do light magic.”
“Well, he’s a Sorcerer. That puts all magic in his domain… more or less. Holy and light magic would be harder, but not as hard as learning something like… Bash.”
“It took me like… five minutes to learn Bash. I doubt he’d have trouble learning it… even if he couldn’t do much with it.”
“Oh, sure. He could have learned it easily as a puny little halfling, but now that he’s a Sorcerer… It’s not so easy.”
“He could have learned it before, but can’t now? Wait, do classes make it harder to learn things?”
“Sure, it’s a trade off… but not really. Unless you pick a class that isn’t related to the things you want, you grow more quickly in the right areas. A Barbarian isn’t going to throw fireballs anyway- it doesn’t matter if his growth is slower in magic if he wasn’t going to be training it anyway.” Alhorn shrugged, “Of course, a class doesn’t necessarily make things it doesn’t improve worse. Some things just stay the same as if you had no class.”
I sighed. Well, that was just the way things were. It wasn’t like I couldn’t learn to use magic, I would just never be great at it. Light would still be helpful to have, though. I supposed if it were absolutely necessary, I could change class- but since that took effort, I needed to make sure that was what I wanted. However, I liked Martial Adept. I didn’t plan to change classes, even if it meant it was harder to learn magic. I would just have to keep that in mind in the future.