“Hey big brother, whatcha doin’?” William saw Stefan wander up to him.
“I’m heating this rock to make it more malleable.”
“Oh. What’s a mal-e-a-bull?”
William had to stop chanting to respond, and he knew the line of questioning could continue forever. Even so, he couldn’t bear to refuse to answer his brother. “It means it changes shape easily.”
“Why not say that?”
“Because it’s one word instead of a bunch.”
“Okay. Why do you want it to be a bull?”
“Because I want to change its shape.”
“Why do you want to change its shape?”
“Practice to do what?”
“To change the shape of a crystal.” By now, the rock had cooled down, and William knew he would have to start the process over from basically the beginning.
“To make it better.”
“Why do you want it to be better?”
“To sell it for money.”
“What do you want money for?”
“To pay to study at the wizard academy in Ducson.”
“Because I want to study to be a wizard.” This could easily devolve into an endless series of why’s. At some point, William would give up.
“Oh. Why do you want to be a wizard?”
“Because-” William stopped. Why did he want to be a wizard? He thought about it. When he’d died on Earth, the answer had probably been something like, “Because magic is cool” and also “because magic is something nobody else can do”. Then, it was just something that he couldn’t do. He supposed it didn’t stop being cool. His first life in this world was spent with people all around him who could do magic, though he had placed himself in that situation. His second life here, he’d learned how to cultivate ki- and not clumsily, like in his first life. That fulfilled the requirements of being cool, but for some reason he felt it wasn’t enough.
Now, he could use magic. That made him technically a wizard by some standards. By the standards of Ostana, at least last time he was there, he would be quite knowledgeable. In terms of magic control, he wouldn’t be at the top there, but he’d only really been practicing magic for a few years, and could still see the improvement. Within a dozen, he’d pass everyone from Ostana… in that generation, at least. Those in Eclea were much more devoted, so he would take longer to surpass them. Other than that… William could only really think of two people he wanted to surpass. Lila was dead, but her level of magical power was an impressive goal. Meanwhile, Lorelei’s power was not as freakishly high, but her knowledge was expansive. If he remembered everything he had studied, he would place himself near the top in that area, though there certainly were more things he needed to learn. There always were.
William hadn’t been the type who wanted to know everything about everything, at least not in his first life. Now, though, he felt that way. Perhaps he would narrow it down to just magic, but he still had that desire. Why? Well… he had to do something. “I guess… it’s because everyone needs a goal.” He only then remembered Stefan was standing there, waiting rather patiently for his response. “Do you have a goal? Something you want to be when you grow up?”
Stefan nodded. “I want to be the best farmer! Like mommy and daddy!”
William was glad he hadn’t influenced him more, because if he also wanted to become a wizard, that might cause problems. His parents really did need the help… especially if they wanted to grow the farm and not just keep it as it was. “Good! If you really want to, you can be the best!”
When William thought about his current efforts as just a step of his eventual goal, it actually became easier. Sure, he might mess up the crystal… but he could get another one later. It might set him back a few months or a year, but what would that matter? If he took just that long to even try, he wouldn’t even have the experience of failure to think over. He knew that practicing with rocks more wouldn’t translate completely to a different kind of crystal, even though they were both “crystal structures”.
There was something that he needed to get practice with before he tried the crystal. Though he was more or less capable of reshaping rocks, the crystal’s shape wasn’t the most important part. In fact, he wanted to keep it almost the same shape as it was, just smoothing out some inconsistencies. However, he also wanted to remove impurities which he thought probably kept it from glowing as brightly as it potentially could. Either that or they would be responsible for making it luminescent to begin with, in which case perhaps he should equally distribute them instead of removing them. However, if he could remove them without collapsing the crystal structure and that wasn’t the right solution, he might be able to properly distribute them afterwards. He also might ruin the whole thing, but he had to try what the thought was most likely to work first.
Fortunately, any random rock had plentiful impurities, so he could easily get practice of removing one material from another. He treated it in much the same way, heating it up beforehand. However, the first few rocks he worked on cracked. He needed to fill in the area behind where he was removing the material. He knew that, but doing it was somewhat harder. Eventually he found some rocks with materials inside them that had a higher melting point. That meant they remained more solid while the material around them was more malleable, which made the process a bit easier. Otherwise, he could easily leave trace amounts behind, which were much harder to remove.
William looked at the small bit of quartz he’d removed from a rock. Unfortunately, normal quartz had little to no value. Though it was a crystal, even in terms of being a magic amplifier, it was one the low end. Topping a staff with a quartz crystal had little effect, and if the staff was made out of a proper wood, it would be a waste to not get a good crystal. If it wasn’t, there was no point in having the staff at all. Still, quartz was kind of fun to look at. After a few more successful attempts at removing various different minerals from rocks, William felt he should be good enough to try his real goal. If nothing else, his failure would teach him what areas he needed to work on, or what unexpected differences the luminescent crystals had.