Mandrake’s scribblings: Heave ho! Heave ho! My chapter backlog is not increasing at all T.T
The loud whistle of the train echoes throughout the station as the large train pulls to a stop in front of the train platform. The station officers come forward and open the train doors, directing the impatient train passengers rushing to the designated exit. A man stumbles out of the train as the morning rush pushes him from the back. He tries to leave the crowd from the side but is dragged along by the sheer amount of people. A station officer who sees this scene blows his whistle and move into the crowd, grabs the man and pulls him out of the crowd.
Officer: “Are you okay? Is any of your belongings fine?”
Rosetta: “I’m fine, thank you. Go and tend to your duties.”
Rosetta gratefully waves to the officer, hoists his large luggage on his back, and proceeds to leave the station. Looking at the bustling scene of the city, Rosetta stands there for a moment to take in the scene. A bustling street with pedestrians and vehicles. Peddlers and street performers at the community space. Advertisements and banners on aged shopping districts. This is a scene of a Vietnamese city.
Rosetta lifts his hand to signal a taxi. A driver picks up his gesture and drives to him.
Driver: “Good day, Sir. Where do you want to go?”
Rosetta: “I want to go out of the city. To the countryside. In… That direction. Take me as far as you can.”
Rosetta takes a second to get his bearings and points at the general direction of his destination. The driver looks at the direction his gesture and nods.
Driver: “Okay. Please put your luggage in the back.”
Rosetta stuffs his luggage into the popped trunk and enters the taxi. The taxi sinks a little as he sits down in the middle.
Driver: “Hmm… Bringing a lot of luggage, sir?”
Rosetta: “Ah, yes. It is heavy equipment. Quite heavy.”
Wearing a puzzled look, the driver flips on the taxi meter and drives off to Rosetta’s destination. Throughout the journey, Rosetta keeps his eyes peering at the scenery passing by from the taxi’s window. The urban scenery slowly turns into the outskirts where the buildings are smaller and more worn down.
Driver: “Is this far enough from the city?”
Rosetta: “No. Much further. Is this the farthest you can go?”
Driver: “Yes, This is farthest I go.”
Rosetta: “Alright… I’ll get off here. How much is the taxi fare?”
Driver: “450 000 dong.”
Rosetta reaches into his pocket and pulls out some money. He hands out 5 ‘100 000 dong’ notes. The driver struggles to find the correct change for the payment. Rosetta lifts his hand to urge the driver to keep the change. The driver thanks him and left. Rosetta pulls his luggage over his back and surveys the area he is in.
The outskirts of the city. The road seems to be the only structure that is relatively new as the buildings consists of old brick houses and shanties. The presence of nature is more pronounced here than the city. Rosetta looks around and even glances at the sky. Having decided on the direction, Rosetta steps off the road and walks without stopping.
Hours has passed by since his arrival in the city. Rosetta’s view of the surroundings has changed from the outskirts in the day to the open fields in the evening before turning into forests at night. The sounds of the forest are all around Rosetta. He can see nothing in the darkness. There’s no moon to shed its light. The only thing can be seen are the stars in the sky, shining just enough light to be seen but not enough to illuminate anything.
The sound of rustling leaves and breaking twigs ceases. The magician has stopped his walking. In the pitch black darkness, he senses a forest clearing around him.
Rosetta: “This is a good place.”
He begins to set down his luggage.
His feet sunk deep into the ground and water from the surrounding soil pools and drenches his feet. Rosetta merely chuckles.
Rosetta: “Huhuhuhmhm. Such a lively place. It is such a shame.”
The plants around him begin to part. The wet and soft peat soil begins to part as well and stones start to group under Rosetta’s feet.
The stones crunch together and eventually fuse together into one solid stone slab. The slab slowly rises to ground level. The forest plants are squeezed together around the edges of the stone. Rosetta taps his feet on the stone platform. The stone is uneven and rough to the touch.
He lifts his foot and stamps on the platform.
The stone platform immediately levels itself out, producing a smooth flat surface. Rosetta sweeps his feet around to confirm his work and nods.
Rosetta notices that his form is of a man’s. He had cast an illusion spell to hide his appearance which is now not needed when he is alone.
Rosetta: [How foolish. I’ve forgotten to dispel this form.]
He slams his fist on his chest and the spell breaks, releasing a cloud of sparkling dust. When the dust disappears, Rosetta’s true form is revealed. A giant person towering over 2 and a half meters high. A giant cloak covers Rosetta’s body and on his head, he wears a gas mask with a set of ram horns on it. Under the cloak, he wears simple clothing which is covered with belts and pouches holding various kinds of tools and trinkets. He wears large heavy gloves on his hands and large boots caked with mud from his walk earlier. At first glance, he is no doubt an image of the devil but he is not bothered by it. In fact, he is rather proud of his appearance.
Satisfied with the comfort of his current form, Rosetta faces the forest around him.
Rosetta: “O forest, I request your aid. But the company I keep will no doubt end your reign.”
Rosetta positions his luggage behind him and sits on it.
Rosetta: “This mission is very important to me. I cannot leave. I’m sorry. I can at the very most assure you a future. For now, let me grant you a champion.”
Standing back up again, he raises his hands and focuses his mind on a magic chant. The forest rustles in response to his magic. The peat soil around the platform begins to move and gather into a large mass in front of him. Vines, plants, rocks and dead trees are dragged from the forest onto the platform. They wrap around the soil mass and the whole pile starts to mold itself into a new form. A huge mass is formed in a shape of a strong, long body. The bark of the dead trees spreads across the surface like armor plates. The vines and twigs weave and bundle together into green muscle and sinew. The rocks break into fragments and fused to the limbs to be made into claws. Large branches spring out from the body’s back which became the framework of wings made from weaving vines and leaves. From the long protrusion that resembles a neck, a tree stump attaches to it. A crack opens in the stump and split open like a mouth, forming a terrifying maw of splinters. Rock shards embed themselves along the edges of the maw, mimicking teeth. The roots of the stump twist into horns, completing the transformation.
A dragon. A strong fearsome creature made entirely from the forest. Standing in a strong posture and its wings spread out as far as it can, the dragon faces Rosetta. Revealing its terrifying maw, the dragon growls softly in acknowledgement of its creator. Rosetta caresses its head.
Rosetta: “Good dragon. You’re quite strong, aren’t you? I need you to fend off evil people and give me time to find her. I’m relying on you. Try your best, okay?”
The dragon grunts in agreement. It turns around and enters the forest. Rosetta checked the time on his watch. It will be hours until the sun will rise and hours more for the sun to reach its peek at noon. With the amount of energy present as sunlight, harnessing that energy will be enough to fuel his magic spell.
Rosetta: *That should be enough mana spent. Goodness, my stinginess has been affecting the way I operate.*
Without the energy, his magic spell will not function. Coincidentally, he could fuel the magic spell with his own mana by himself but the large of mana consumption has deterred him from doing so. If this spell is for naught, then all the expended mana will be wasted and he can’t allow that. The main reason for this mindset is because of the limitations of his true body. All these spells that are deployed in order to search for the girl consume massive amounts of energy.
[What if I ran out of mana before I found her?]
[What if I do not have enough mana to send her over?]
[What if I ran out of mana protecting her from them?]
These questions have plagued his mind every time he deploys a massive spell. He must have enough magic. Enough to find her, prepare her and send her off to the other world. Rosetta glances down and wondered about what to what end will he have to meet to find her.
Rosetta: [The last one. The most important one.]
Rosetta reminds himself for the umpteenth time before positioning himself in the center of the stone platform. He takes out one of his items hanging from his belt. It is a long clear crystal with a thin chain attached to one end. It looks exactly like a dousing crystal. He channels mana into it and the crystal starts to move. Runes that were once invisible on the crystal’s surface glow bright red. Then a bright beam shoots out from the crystal’s end and cut into the stone platform like a blow torch. The crystal swings around at an amazing speed. It directs the beam to carve out shapes and signs on the rock. The beam flickers quickly to space them apart. Like a high speed printer, the crystal carved the runes of the magic spell on the rock surface. The runes shimmering red from the melted rock.
The sun has reached its peak in the Vietnamese sky. With the clear blue sky, the temperature has soared. The farmers has stopped their work in the fields and taken refuge under the shades of nearby trees. No one seems to notice the forest nearby has swelled into great green domes.
Inside one of the domes is Rosetta, sitting on a stone platform carved with concentric circles of runes. The concentric circles continue outwards onto the trunks of trees that has tightly packed their trunks together, curving the trunks to form a spherical space with the stone platform in the center. Rays of light is filtered from the tropical canopy shines in from above.
Rosetta stands at the end of one side of the circle of trees carving the last of the runes of his spell. The dragon can be heard circling the area from the outside. The sound of its heavy footsteps and the long intervals in between gave a telling sign that the dragon has no doubt grew bigger since the time it was created. This is all according to plan. With the rising of the sun, the runes he carved out at first drew in sunlight to nourish the forest and shape the trees into its current formation. The dragon also benefited from it as the energy absorbed is also used for its growth. All this is due to the mysterious nature magic Rosetta has conjured.
Swinging around the white hot crystal to cool it, Rosetta does a final check on his work on the runes. With the power of these runes, Rosetta is able to conjure the highest form of nature magic, going further than the capabilities of plants. The photosynthesis of the forest plants has been going wild since sunrise. Rosetta longs to breathe in the fresh air now rich in oxygen.
Rosetta: [What’s lost is lost.]
He nodded in affirmation. The rune circle is perfect and will be performing efficiently.
Rosetta: [Now then. For the final piece.]
Rosetta put his hand under his shirt. He reaches in deep into the center of his chest and carefully retrieves a clear crystal ball. The crystal ball is very old, as many scratches have scarred the smooth surface. Rune circles can be seen etched inside the glass surrounding a small empty space. In that empty space rests a lock of hair. Rosetta grips the glass ball firmly and revises his actions from here on.
Rosetta: [This spell will draw attention from everyone, including the enemy. There’s no need to be stealthy on this. I should force the spell as hard as I can before the enemy gets to me.]
He sits down near the center of the stone platform. He places the crystal ball near the center of the rune circle. The ball jumps from his hand and floats in midair at a fixed position. Rosetta runs his finger across a circle of runes. The runes starts to shine white and causes a cascade of the other runes shining. He has started his grand spell. His surroundings becomes bright as if he is in a completely white space. The scene looks peaceful and beautiful, but a different scene unfolds outside. The sky darkens into pitch black and the bright sun now shimmers into a dim spot in the sky.
Farmer 1: “(What?! The sky! It turned black!)”
Farmer 2: “(Is this an ‘eclipse’? Everything is so dark!)”
Farmer 3: “(I can’t see the fields! I need to get home to check on the family!)”
The farmers are alarmed at the sudden change of the sky. One assumes that an eclipse is happening while some doubts the assumption, pointing at the sun in the sky. The dark sky expands over the land as Rosetta’s spell claims the light from its surroundings to fuel its true function, to translate every human’s DNA in its range into its corresponding mana signature and compare it to the mana signature stored in the single lock of hair. Rosetta gathers his mana in his hand and releases it into the runes to trigger the spell’s function. The runes shine brighter for a second and releases a blinding wave from it center. The wave travelled outwards in the ground, fading out as it get bigger. Across the fields, cities and settlements. Across the land. Rosetta’s search has begun.
If you like this work, please share and help get this series more readers!
If you like to support this mandrake, join the Mystical Forest on Patreon!