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Practice Makes Perfect
((For those not in the know, torch is brit-speak for flashlight. He doesn’t have an actual torch.))

Before Cain scouted out the address that Nox gave him, he stopped by his old haunt in the underground to collect his things. He had his bag stashed away behind an old wooden crate that had somehow ended up in the tunnels. It didn’t have too many valuables in it, mainly just a loo roll, some extra clothing, and other useful knickknacks that the redhead had been able to accumulate on his way towards the capital. Cain carefully checked it for signs of theft or tampering, but didn’t find anything. Satisfied, he slung the bag over his shoulder and got moving. Briefly he considered telling someone about his departure, but it didn’t seem worth it. He hadn’t made any friends Underground, and after a night or two of not staking his claim on his spot, the other ‘residents’ of the tunnels would move in happily. Still, he exchanged a nod or two with friendly people he’d met and carefully ignored those that he’d had problems with.

Soon enough, the magician found himself at a fork in the road. If he took the left tunnel, Cain would find himself back above ground near the markets. However, he’d had nagging thoughts for the past few hours about the skills demonstrated by Nox and Dane. He’d been dying to try some of them out, ever since he realized that he could use powers other than just fire. The redhead bit his lip in contemplation. There wasn’t really a safe place to practice his magic outside of the tunnels; after all, it tended to be a bit flashy. However, he’d also learned today that the Underground wasn’t exactly clear of Atharim. Regardless, he needed to practice at some point, and it would be best to have some new tricks under his belt just in case he needed to use it against his new host. Cain trusted Nox for the most part, but his time on the streets had taught him that even the nice guys could turn against you in a heartbeat.

Mind made up, Cain headed to the right, and walked until the darkness was absolute other than the light of his torch. Bracing himself, the redhead flipped the switch, turning the light off and allowing himself to be submersed in the inky blackness that surrounded him. The feeling was unnerving to say the least. It was easy to convince himself that the faint scurrying and dripping noises he could hear were signs of more monsters sneaking up on him. The fear the visions conjured was sufficient to allow him to grab hold of his power. The redhead’s breath hitched as it filled him. Every sense sharpened; he could feel the slight rustle of the wind against his skin, and the previously impenetrable darkness became less opaque. What was the most intoxicating though was the feeling that accompanied it, as if he was on top of the greatest mountain rather than submerged in the dredges of Moscow’s depths.

When Cain opened his eyes, he wasn’t certain how much time had passed. It wasn’t easy to conquer his magic. He had the impression that if he wasn’t careful, it would steamroll all over him. In times of need, like when he’d been fighting the ‘chups’ (as Nox called them) he’d been able to use his magic fairly quickly, but those times had been the exception rather than the rule. Still, it was easy for him to extend a hand and use the portion of his ability that was associated with fire. A flame appeared above his outstretched hand, lighting up the space around him. Clenching his fist, Cain dispersed the apparition. He was good at fire; he’d been doing that trick for months now. What was more interesting was the other elements.

Carefully, the redhead reached for strings of the different flavor of magic, the air magic. It didn’t come to him nearly as easily as fire did. Whereas threads of fire seemed almost eager to jump into his grasp, air was more like greased noodles. After a bit of a struggle, he managed to sew together a semi-coherent pattern, using the shape that he’d seen Nox use earlier. In the darkness, the glowing strings were plain for him to see, although the wall itself was invisible. When he placed his hand on the construct it was a bit of a strange sensation. It felt cool and smooth, rather than the warm, coarse feeling he’d expect from more mundane threads. Perhaps the threads themselves were more metaphysical rather than physical? Regardless, Cain let the construct fall, and practiced putting it up a few more times, until he felt like he could form it in a pinch. It could be extremely useful if he was confronted by any gunmen or monsters.

Afterwards, Cain played around a bit with the size and shape of the wall. It was a bit of a trick, manipulating the pattern in slight ways to tweak its effects. Eventually though it was fairly straightforward to make the wall curved or shorter or taller. Playing around a bit, the redhead ended up with a disk on his arm, almost like a shield. He chuckled as he swung it around playfully. He figured that there was a lot more that he could do with the technique, but to be honest he was getting a bit bored of it. Something that Dane had done caught his eye earlier, both literally and metaphorically. The man had combined air and fire to make a globe of light.

It was a challenge to hold onto the slippery streams of air while reaching for fire. The latter seemed to leap into his grasp, eager to be used. Eventually, Cain realized that it was much easier to do it the other way around. Fire was always just a moment’s thought away. Once he was holding onto it, the magic seemed content to sit still while he struggled to hold onto air. As long as he didn’t let the tricky element out of his metaphorical sights, the redhead didn’t have too many problems weaving the two magics together. His first attempt ended up a wobbly mess, awkwardly dull and flickering… but still recognizably the result he’d been going for.

he cried, pumping a fist in the air, before chuckling and being grateful that no one else was around to see him.

Still, he could feel himself getting less fresh. Cain wouldn’t say he was tired yet, but he definitely didn’t feel at one hundred percent. Clearly there was a limit to how much magic he could use at a time, even though he’d never been desperate enough to reach that point in the past. The globe of light was something that he could easily work on in the privacy of Nox’s dwelling. What he couldn’t do above ground was the trick with the earth that the other man had done. Frowning, the man tried to remember the feel of the earth magic. Nox had only used it once by itself, and briefly. He thought about the magic, about stability and stubbornness, about weathering the ages and remaining unchanged as empires rose and fell. Perhaps unsurprisingly, earth came to him far more easily than air, although not quite as much as fire. Using it though proved harder.

Earth was content to be held, but not to be moved. Forming the net of strings that he’d seen Nox use was simple enough, but somehow laying them was challenging. Similar to how he’d had to wrestle his magic under control, he had to wrestle the spell into settling into the ground. The concrete and soil that made up the tunnels didn’t want to change. It didn’t want to move from its resting place. Cain had to grit his teeth and force it to do what he wanted. It took a few moments, but eventually the redhead felt the tremors under his feet. He cut off the spell before he ended up bringing lord knows how many tons of rock down on himself.

he whispered to himself. The redhead quickly wove another earth spell, shattering a nearby rock into pieces. “Wow!”
he repeated. Cain felt like he was on top of the world. He had honest to goodness magic, magic that he could use to do crazy things like make fireballs or earthquakes. It was only the sobering memory of how much more powerful his two new acquaintances were that kept his ego in check. Feeling a bit creative, he formed the same pattern he used to make the wall of air, except this time with earth magic. Settling the net into the ground in front of him, he yanked on the stone with his magic, and laughed when a large wall of dirt rose before him. Cain made a mental note to remember that spell. The air magic was perhaps more versatile, but much more difficult for him to use.

“And now for my final trick,”
he mumbled to himself.

Cain frowned as he swung the beam of his torch around the cavern. It was getting tedious using the tech to see his nets. He wondered… With the ease of practice, the man formed a fireball, and then quickly dropped his hand. It was simple enough to keep the flame floating in the air; he didn’t need to hold it physically. Cautiously, the redhead turned around so that he couldn’t see the fire (although the light still illuminated the tunnel). Even without having it in his line of vision, as long as he kept a sliver of consciousness directed towards maintaining it, the light didn’t extinguish.

Nodding in satisfaction, Cain reached for threads of fire and earth. It was difficult enough to wield both at once, and to his frustration once he had a hold of the two, his old spell wore off, plunging him back into darkness. “Shite,”
he swore, quickly weaving another fireball. On the plus side, he was getting good experience making fireballs without having to hold his hand out awkwardly. Once he had light again, the redhead tried to make lava as he’d seen Nox do. Combining fire and earth was easier than it’d been with fire and air, but every time he’d start to weave the two together, his flame spell would escape his grasp.

Cain wiped at his brow. His use of magic wasn’t quite physically exhausting, but it certainly seemed to take something out of him. Also, the mental exertion from keeping track of the many strings of magic was taking its toll. Frowning, the redhead decided to give up on the fireball for now, and focus on twisting together threads of fire and earth. Finally, he had something similar to what he’d seen the other magician use, and he settled it onto his previously-raised wall of stone.

the redhead had to jump back to avoid the pool of lava that formed as the previously vertical wall melted downwards, but he grinned at the successful spell. “Call me Cain Belasis, magician extraordinaire.”

Cain must’ve been overestimating his endurance though, because when he let the spells dissipate, his grasp on his magic slipped away from him. He thought about trying for it again and practicing the spells some more, but he didn’t think he could. His fear was gone, and in its place was a giddy sort of excitement. He was a magician! For the first time in months, the fear that had been dogging him had faded to the background, and he could appreciate what it meant to have his gift. As the poor grandson of a day laborer in nowheresville England, he hadn’t had much to feel special about. Now though… his magic separated him from the masses. It made him feel powerful and unique. Cain knew it was silly; there was an organization dedicated to killing him. There were other magicians far more powerful and vicious. Still, he couldn’t find it in himself to be afraid enough to even try to access his power.

No matter. It’d been a successful day, and he might as well go check out his new lodging. Gathering up his backpack and torch, Cain headed back in the direction that he came from, feeling much more upbeat than when he’d entered.
Edited by Cain Belasis, Aug 5 2016, 08:31 AM.

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