Wizard! Chapter 240
Before William purchased any materials, he had to think about what kind of light he wanted to create. No matter what he did, he would need something that could draw in mana, as well as a way to convert that mana into light. He thought about lightbulbs. A filament bulb worked by running electrical current through a fine wire. However, this was not the right way to make light for several reasons. First was the practical side. William didn’t know if fine wire of high enough quality existed, and he was absolutely certain it wouldn’t have the right composition. Second, it was inefficient, since you ended up giving off heat as a by-product other than light. With magic, light could be more or less directly created.
The only problem was that an object didn’t have a consciousness to direct mana like a wizard. Instead, magic items were more like machines, where various parts worked together to accomplish something in a specific manner. Machines or magical items didn’t do anything of their own volition, but just functioned as they were designed, unless the design or construction were flawed. Thus, he couldn’t just take any mana reactive materials and tell them to “produce light”. Actually, there were already crystals that produced light all on their own, it just wasn’t much. It was usually just a faint glow… and ones that were brighter became very expensive. He didn’t even see any of those in Caister.
Regardless of the end materials, William had to first come up with the base idea, which he’d narrowed down to a few options. He could create a device that strictly absorbed mana and released it as light. That would be simplest, but probably not the best. On the other end, he could create something that functioned like a flashlight back on Earth. That would have directional lighting, and the ability to stop converting the mana into light. He thought the second option was a bit too ambitious, so he settled for a middle ground. He wanted to at least create a structure like a lamp for the light to go in, and a cover. That would let it turn “on” or “off” without having to actually create a system where the part gathering mana was connected and disconnected from the part producing light. It would still constantly absorb mana from the surroundings, so they wouldn’t work if there were too many similar objects around, but light required relatively little mana, at least for the level he was planning to produce.
William bought several things before he left town. First were a few kinds of (cheap) metals that had the kinds of properties he was looking for, a slightly luminescent crystal that otherwise looked like quartz, and an actual oil lantern. He also bought some other bits and pieces, which would hopefully be enough for him to complete his idea, though he might have forgotten or misunderstood something.
The first task William had was to activate the materials that would absorb mana from the atmosphere. Most materials wouldn’t just absorb mana all the time, and certainly not much. If they did, the materials that did so would reach their limit of absorption and cease… or explode when they passed the capacity they could control. This meant any materials found in nature would already be stable, unless they happened to have been completely surrounded by materials that didn’t let mana pass through. That could occasionally happen in mines, but was probably one of the less common disasters that could occur.
Once activated, materials followed a few rules that were the same as those that didn’t activate. They would absorb up to capacity, or again possibly explode after passing their capacity. Most materials that passively absorbed mana could absorb much more when intentionally activated. Activating them required one of several things. It could be other materials, or heat, or a number of other things- somewhat like chemical reactions. William supposed some of them actually were chemical reactions, but there were certainly things that were only because of mana, and had to be activated by intentional application of mana… or very occasionally by random coincidence of natural mana. Some materials would stay activated once it had started, some required the continuous presence of other materials or wizards keeping them activated. Some couldn’t be deactivated, at least not by removing the original stimulus, which could lead to more explosions. After they were deactivated, different materials would react differently. Some would stay in whatever state they ended in, and some would discharge any energy they had absorbed, in various levels of safety.
Some of this knowledge William had already remembered, and some came back to him as he fiddled around with the things he had picked up. As for putting it into practical use… it wasn’t too hard. After a few days William had a simple setup working. It had only taken that long because he still had to help his parents around the farm. His results were… not terribly inspiring. He had set up a system where mana absorbed by other materials would be fed into the luminescent crystal he had purchased. As he expected, it glowed more brightly when fed more mana than it naturally absorbed on its own… but the light was still somewhat dim. He could create a better light source with minimal effort through his own magic… with the only disadvantage that he had to continue to concentrate on it.
Still, William had ideas for how to make improvements to his lamp. While he could probably make improvements to how the mana flowed from the absorption materials to the crystal, some of the biggest problems was with the crystal itself. It was full of impurities… and not really of an optimal shape to be a light source. He could buy a better crystal, but then the costs would likely outweigh any actual benefit he could get. Instead, he thought about modifying the crystal. One of the biggest functions of “earth magic” was moving around dirt and stone. Perhaps he could do something similar with the structure of the crystal itself. He knew it wouldn’t be that easy, and if he messed up he would likely ruin the crystal. First, he decided he would practice fine control on other things.