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Plum Blossom (Blue/Green)

[Prince of Tennis] Et Cetera: Chapter 1

Posted on 2012.07.18 at 11:43
Current Mood: rushedrushed
Tags: , , , ,
A Prince of Tennis fanfiction. Fantasy AU, drama/romance. Rated R (M) overall. Multiple pairings. 50,000+ words total.

Originally written 11/20/2004 - 7/18/2006, with ongoing revisions.

For Crysi, sine qua non.


Et Cetera

Shiraume


High Gods, rulers of the Heaven,
Humans, creation most adored,
Sprites, that cross the realms between,
And the rest...


Chapter 1


Someone was following him.

In fact, the same someone had followed him all the way from the foot of Crystal Forest. But no attack yet – and the Cassidna Mansion was already within shouting distance. He knew who his shadow was, which was why he allowed it as long as he had, but the wait was getting tiresome.

“Why don’t you come out?”

For a moment, there was no sound, and everything was still. Then, without a warning, a fire spell flew toward him. Without hesitation, he cast a water spell to neutralize the offensive spell, instantly extinguishing the fire. As soon as the last of fire disappeared in hissing steam, there was a physical presence right behind him, and he leaped just in time to hear the whistle of a sheathed blade rushing past his ear. He whirled, facing his opponent, who charged at him that very moment. Calmly, he brought out his own Ralt to block the attack, stopping his attacker short. Although he held advantage in terms of height and weight, his opponent was faster than anyone he knew. So he continued on the defensive, waiting for an opening instead of attacking. Just when his opponent lunged too far, he switched to offense, and in an instant, his opponent was sprawled at his foot, Ralt knocked out of his hand. He pointed the Ralt at his opponent, who scowled up at him.

“My win,” he said quietly, and his opponent looked petulant.

“Che. Sharp as always,” his opponent said, pulling himself to his feet. “When did you notice I was following you?”

“You started following me at the Crystal Forest,” Tezuka stated. The scowl deepened, but no verbal response was forthcoming. Instead, the boy retrieved his weapon and started to walk toward the mansion. Knowing the boy’s mentor was likely waiting inside, he followed, replacing the Ralt in his belt. After passing the herb garden, the two of them came to the double doors of the mansion, which the boy pushed open.

“How nice to see you, Tezuka,” a voice drifted out, and Tezuka saw his host standing at the foot of the staircase, smiling. Tezuka gave him a slight nod in acknowledgment.

“Fuji.”

Fuji smiled at him serenely, walking towards him to grasp his hand familiarly. “It’s been a while. Why don’t you come in?”

Tezuka took in Fuji’s traveling clothes, and belatedly, Echizen’s, and gave Fuji an inquiring look. “Bad time?”

“We were about to leave,” Fuji said, “for the Northern Vales.”

“I see. I wasn’t planning to stay for a proper visit,” Tezuka reassured him. “I heard Echizen passed Apprentice-level entrance exam with top scores. Congratulations.”

Ryoma snorted, and Fuji gave him a brief look before turning his attention back to Tezuka. “Thank you,” Fuji replied graciously. “I’m thinking of crafting a Ralt for Echizen,” Fuji said in the way of explanation, and Tezuka nodded in understanding.

“You’re looking for a stone that would complement his Magic,” Tezuka said. Fuji nodded. “You could easily order any stone from Heda’s shops without having to go looking for them in the Northern Vales.”

“Lake Genetra,” Ryoma corrected, sounding bored.

Tezuka frowned. Lake Genetra, one of the largest lakes in the surrounding parts of the world, lay beyond the Northern Vales, and Cetera rarely traveled that far north. He noted Fuji giving a censuring look to Ryoma, but did not comment. “Why that far?”

Fuji gave him a smile, one that veiled his thoughts, and replied casually. “I’ve been to those regions before. One can find interesting things there.”

Looking at the concealing smile Fuji wore, he nodded in acquiescence; pressing Fuji now would get him nowhere. And he didn’t have the time, just yet. “Will you require someone to watch the mansion while you’re gone?”

“No, my protective weaves will hold.” Fuji’s smile nevertheless softened. “Did you come all the way here to congratulate Echizen, or are you visiting Morgiana?”

“Both,” Tezuka admitted. “Morgiana might be able to help.”

“Or her extensive library might,” Fuji observed. “Another dead end in your research?”

Tezuka nodded. “I’ve exhausted Heda’s libraries and my own. Morgiana’s collection might have something I missed.”

“Good luck, then.” Fuji’s eyes sparkled. “The Council must have been lenient lately, if you’ve taken to visiting Hessedi so often.”

Tezuka raised an eyebrow. “Hardly.” They are just waiting for a better opportunity to spring a trap remained unspoken. Ryoma made an impatient noise, and Fuji’s lips twitched briefly.

“I think we’d better start. How long will you be staying this time, Tezuka?”

“A week, possibly more.”

“Ah, then, perhaps we will see you before you leave,” Fuji said, and Tezuka looked at him, puzzled. The journey to and from Lake Genetra could not possibly take less than ten days on foot. Fuji merely gave him a mysterious smile. “Until later.”

“Ah.”

Fuji gave him a nod, and walked out, with Echizen in tow. Echizen gave him a nod before the door closed behind them. Minutes later, Tezuka also headed outside, and resumed his walk towards Morgiana’s lair.

**********


Ryoma, as soon as they were out of sight from Cassidna, turned to Fuji. “You don’t trust him.”

“What are you talking about?” Fuji’s voice was pleasant and bland.

“You don’t trust Tezuka,” Ryoma insisted. “And you don’t trust me,” he added more quietly. “Or anyone at all.”

“It has less to do with trust,” Fuji said evenly, “and more to do with caution.” Ryoma gave him a skeptical look, which he dismissed. “You will understand when you are older.” Ryoma’s expression shifted to a put-upon look, but the boy did not comment. “Shall we?”

Ryoma took Fuji’s proffered hand, and in a flash of light, they disappeared. When the light faded, Ryoma opened his eyes and looked around, taking in his new surroundings. No matter how many times he saw it, Fuji’s power never ceased to amaze him. They were on the other side of the Northern Vales, right on the edge of Lake Genetra – a distance that would have taken them at least three days on horseback.

“Now, let’s get that boat and get going, shall we?” Ryoma blinked, drawn back to here and now. Fuji was already ahead of him, and he had to trot to catch up with his mentor. Ten minutes later, they sat in a small rowboat crossing the vast lake. Assisted by Fuji’s power over the waters, the boat glided soundlessly over the water. Ryoma stuck his hand in the water, creating wavelets as the boat sailed on, but hastily withdrew it.

“The water’s icy,” Ryoma said, drying his hand on his traveling cloak and rubbing it to restore warmth.

“That would be why Castor lives here, yes,” Fuji answered, watching Ryoma use Magic to warm his hand faster. “You shouldn’t use your Magic so casually.”

“Why not?”

“Magic has its consequences,” came the cryptic reply, and Ryoma scowled for a moment, settling more comfortably in the boat. He spent the next ten minutes ignoring Fuji, until he fell asleep, curled up in the uncomfortably small boat.

When Ryoma was shaken awake, he was looking up at a pair of large gleaming eyes watching him in amusement.

“Hi, Castor.”

Castor moved his face away, a chuckle rumbling deep in his chest. “As sleepy as ever, I see.” The Ice-Dragon stretched, the shimmering scales stirring and settling as he moved. “I can guess what brings you here, Fuji,” Castor’s voice rumbled. “If nothing in my layer suits your purpose, Pia Mountains will have what you seek. Go take a look in my lair, if you wish, little one.” Ryoma gave the Dragon a look for the epithet, but nodded and moved past the Dragon’s coiled body into the cave. Castor’s lair was one of Ryoma’s favorite playgrounds, and each visit yielded something new yet again. It was one of the reasons Ryoma always looked forward to visiting Castor. Without hesitation, Ryoma walked deeper into the tunnels of the dimly-lit cave.

**********


When Ryoma was out of sight, Castor turned back to Fuji. “A few things warrant attention, yours and mine.”

“I figured as much, when you called me,” Fuji murmured. “What’s wrong?”

“The northernmost peak of Pia Mountains,” Castor replied. “Pia Mountains have been silent for a long time. But no more. The northernmost peak is stirring.”

“There is an unusual amount of Magic concentrated around that peak,” Fuji observed thoughtfully. “That’s why you made your lair here, isn’t it?”

“Yes, I thought to keep a close watch on it from this place. You know that Lake Genetra’s water is well below freezing temperature.”

“Yet it never freezes,” Fuji finished. “But it wasn’t always so, you said.”

“No,” Castor said slowly. “When I was but a fledgling, years before War of Adamant, Genetra was like any other. Its waters warmed during the summer, its surface frozen during the winter.”

“Then, War of Adamant changed it?” Fuji asked curiously.

“Not quite. During the years of the War, Lake Genetra was still unchanged. But shortly after the the end, the Lake turned colder than ice, yet never froze again.”

“Not the War itself,” Fuji concluded. “Then, what happened afterward that changed Lake Genetra?”

“I do not know. My kindred, had they lived, might have. During the War, many of the Dragon-kinds were hunted indiscriminately, but most of all, the Ice-Dragons. I fear, child, that I am most likely the last of my kind.”

Fuji stroked the scales between Castor’s eyes until the Dragon let out a pleased purr. A thousand years ago, when he awoke from a long sleep without any recollection of who he was, it was Castor who found him and protected him, had taught him and guided him until he could fend for himself. In many ways, the Ice-Dragon was like a parent to him, and it saddened him that Castor might be doomed to solitude until the end of his long life. Fuji had traveled across the lands, far beyond what any Human or Cetera had ever done, but had never come across another Ice-Dragon.

“I will go to the northernmost peak,” Fuji said finally. “Will you take care of my charge while I am gone?”

Castor laughed. “I doubt your young charge will consent to be left behind.” The Dragon cast a shrewd look on Fuji. “You’ve trained the little one well. Why don’t you take him with you?”

“It’s not that I doubt his ability,” Fuji replied uncomfortably. Castor’s great head nudged him, and he resumed stroking the silvery scales.

“You worry for the little one,” Castor said gently. “And you have a hard time trusting anyone, even the child you reared with your own hands for the past decade.” After a long moment of silence, Castor spoke again, his voice tinged with sorrow. “We Ice-Dragons are wary beings. We trust very few, and almost never an outsider; so distant are we, that others say we have the heart of ice. But when we give our trust, we trust with all our heart.” The tip of Castor’s leathery wing tenderly brushed against Fuji, and Fuji leaned on Castor’s neck and closed his eyes. He knew that he was the only soul Castor trusted in his long years, with both his lair and his heart. In many ways, he was the young Castor would never have. “Syuusuke, if you keep your heart frozen shut from the rest of the world, perhaps you will be safe, but nothing will ever change.” Castor chuckled, the low rumble reverberating in the cave. “This, coming from an Ice-Dragon may sound strange, but even we must give our heart to someone eventually. If no one else, to our young. That little one is yours, child, if you would have him.”

“And I am yours,” Fuji answered tightly. There was no other being in the world that he trusted as Castor. Castor’s wing rustled, then wrapped around him like a huge blanket.

“Yes, you are,” Castor answered, affection clear in his voice. “I am old, Syuusuke. I will not be with you forever.” Castor’s voice became lower. “I would see you happy before I leave you.”

“How long...” Fuji’s voice faltered. “How long before I must leave him? Nearly a thousand years I have been in this world, and I do not yet know my own lifespan. You found me as I am now.” Castor was silent, and Fuji, after a moment, continued. “For Echizen’s sake, it will be easiest if I were to disappear in the next century or so. Three centuries have I lived as one of the Cetera. Too long will become troublesome.”

“You’re not one of the Cetera,” Castor said quietly. “At least, not completely. You are—”

Ryoma, coming back from the depths of the cave, stopped short just out of sight, startled by the stark bitterness in Fuji’s voice.

“—Cursed, with an endless existence. The Council would need no more excuse to eliminate me if they knew. If they even could.”

Castor was silent, and Fuji looked down, knowing he’d caused Castor pain. “Forgive me,” Fuji said after a moment of tense silence.

Castor shook his immense head. “It is a pain I know well. But the last millennium I spent with you, I have not misspent. Did the little one not fill your last decade with happiness?”

Fuji did not answer for a long moment, and Ryoma scuffled his feet hastily, making his presence known before walking up to them. He didn’t know what answer Fuji might have given, and wasn’t sure if he wanted to know.

“You’re back earlier than I expected,” Castor commented as Ryoma came closer. “Does my lair hold nothing that interests you, little one?”

“It’s not about interest. We came to look for something specific, didn’t we?” Ryoma asked instead. Fuji’s smile was more distant than usual, and Ryoma didn’t like it when Fuji felt so far away.

“Didn’t find what you were looking for, then?” Fuji asked, and Ryoma imagined Fuji’s voice was coming from miles away, echoing faintly through the cave.

“No.”

“We will visit the mountains tomorrow, then,” Fuji said amiably. “You should be able to feel it when we’re close.”

Castor gave an approving nod, and Ryoma, wondering what he had missed, stared at Castor quizzically, but the Dragon merely winked at him. Ryoma shrugged, heading outside. The sun was already set, and stars twinkled to life in the sky. Soon, the heaven was so full that not another star could squeeze in, and Ryoma chose a spot near the lake to lie on his back. A sudden memory of his mother telling him the legends behind the constellations made him hastily turn to his side. He stared at the calm surface of the lake instead, where cool breeze fractured the reflection of the stars in countless wavelets. Half an hour later, he was fast asleep.

Fuji made sure Ryoma was asleep before levitating him onto a thick blanket, and placing a warm cloak over him, tugging it up to his chin. It was something he got into the habit of doing during the past ten years of living under the same roof with his Pupil. He always felt uncomfortable doing this while Ryoma was awake, regardless of how many times he repeated it. The gesture felt familiar nonetheless, and sometimes, he could almost remember a gentle hand tucking him in a warm comforter, but the almost-there memory always disappeared before he could put a finger on it. Most of his memories were just blank, and try as he might, he couldn’t recall anything from his past before Castor found him. Any conscious attempts to recover the memories of his family caused migraines strong enough to knock him out for days, and eventually he’d stopped trying to recall them.

Absently Fuji put a warming spell around Ryoma, so he would stay warm even if he kicked off the cloak during the night. Lastly, a weave for protection, and another spell to alert him of any changes in his student, and Fuji headed back to the cave, settling down under Castor’s immense wing for the night as he always did when he visited Castor. The shelter of Castor’s wing was soothing and familiar, and Fuji was asleep a great deal faster than usual.

**********


Someone was screaming.

So cold...

It hurt. It was an agony, maelstrom of power tearing him apart, and it was still not enough –

“Syuusuke!”

No, Yuu --

“Child, you’re dreaming. Wake up.”

Fuji’s eyes were wide but unseeing, breath coming in harsh pants. He was sitting, although he could not remember getting up, drenched in cold sweat.

“Here, drink.” The water skin was nudged to his side, and Fuji reached for it blindly, uncorking it and drinking the cool water. It took a moment for his eyes to focus, and Castor’s worried eyes swam into his view.

“Castor.”

“Another nightmare?” Castor asked gently. Fuji nodded. “Have they been coming frequently?”

Fuji shook his head. “Not recently.” Castor’s wing brushed against him, and Fuji closed his eyes, pressing a hand over his face. The cool scale on his back calmed him, and he leaned back, taking comfort in Castor’s presence. The next moment, the alarm of his spell went off seconds before Ryoma cried out, and Fuji was on his feet, dashing out of the cave to where Ryoma was. Ryoma cried out again, thrashing, and Fuji ran to him, sinking to his knees next to him.

“Echizen!”

Ryoma did not quite scream, but his cry was a call, one Fuji recognized. Without thinking, Fuji reached out to grasp the flailing hand, his other hand over Ryoma’s forehead for a calming spell.

“Echizen, it’s only a dream,” Fuji said quietly, as the calming spell started to take effect. “It’s all right.” His voice became softer, gentler. “You’re safe. Hush.” Ryoma gradually calmed under his hands, and his breathing evened. Fuji hummed softly, stroking Ryoma’s hair until his breathing became the regular rhythm of deep sleep. The humming formed a song he did not recognize, but it was familiar, and he laid his head near Ryoma’s, his fingers moving lazily through the soft hair. Fuji did not notice Castor watching them from the darkness of the cave, expression thoughtful and warm.

**********


The next day, their trip to the northernmost peak of Pia Mountains was mostly in silence. It wasn’t a cold or uncomfortable one, but a thoughtful kind, and Fuji, distracted by his thoughts, did not immediately notice the quiet growing around them. Just when he was about to stop Ryoma, Ryoma’s head came up, and he trotted down the path towards the rocky face of a cliff.

“Echizen --” Fuji cut himself short when he felt rather than saw a shadow move, and the Ralt was in his hand before he began running towards Ryoma. The shadow pounced, and to his relief and pride, Ryoma did not need a warning to jump out of the way, Ralt at the ready. Fuji did not waste time calling out, charging ahead to the dark mass that moved too quickly for eyes to grasp. He veered to his left at the last minute, trusting his instinct to guide him, and felt his Ralt connect hard. Without sparing a glance, he regained his footing, preparing for another lunge. The shadow faltered, landing few feet away, and Fuji heard Ryoma take in a sharp breath. The mass of shadow -- there was no other way to describe it -- was not any shape they could recognize. It looked like a cross between a cat and a bear, and the shape constantly blurred as the light shifted around it.

“Vanuk,” Fuji murmured to himself, disbelieving. In a fluid motion, he unsheathed his Ralt and lunged forward. He heard Ryoma cry out in warning as the Vanuk evaded the blade and feinted to his right, and cast a defensive spell without looking, following with the sheath of his Ralt. The moment he felt the sheath connect, Fuji spun and pushed to his right, feeling the bared blade of the Ralt sinking into the Vanuk’s body, and pushed with all of his weight. The Vanuk gave an indistinct kind of shiver that might have been a scream before it slammed into the rocky surface of the cliff. It twitched a few times, then slowly melted away to nothing. Fuji let out a breath he did not realize he had been holding. He hadn’t been sure if the Ralt’s magic-enhanced blade would be effective against the Vanuk.

“You’re bleeding,” Ryoma’s voice came from behind him, hushed. Fuji looked down at his left arm, and blinked to realize his forearm was indeed bleeding. He let go of the hilt, leaving his Ralt embedded halfway in the rock, and examined the wound. With a wave of his hand, he stopped Ryoma from casting a healing spell.

“Healing spells won’t work.” Ryoma frowned. “That thing was a Vanuk,” Fuji explained, “although I have never seen one before. There are only folk tales and sparse written records remaining about Vanuk. I don’t think even Castor has seen one in the flesh.” It suddenly chilled him, to realize this thing had been roaming so close to Castor’s lair. How was it that Castor had never seen it?

“Fuji...” Ryoma’s voice was quiet. In the next instant, he felt another movement heading towards them, and pushed Ryoma away, his hand grasping the Ralt by the blade. The blade did not cut him as he pulled it out with a grunt, slamming the Ralt hilt-first into the oncoming Vanuk and sending it stumbling back. With the same motion Fuji flipped the Ralt to grasp it by the hilt. The quick headcount told him there were at least half a dozen Vanuk surrounding them, and Fuji cursed quietly. How had Castor missed them?

One of them lunged towards Ryoma, and he barely had time to call out before Ryoma summoned Fire. “No, don’t use --” Before he finished his sentence, the spell slammed into the oncoming Vanuk, which stopped short and landed on the ground. “Echizen, duck!” Seconds after his warning, the Vanuk shot a black flame speeding towards Ryoma. Ryoma rolling to his feet was the last thing he saw before he jumped up, evading another Vanuk that took advantage of Fuji’s momentary distraction to charge. Fuji maneuvered so that he was getting closer to where he had last seen Ryoma, evading the Vanuks and slashing at any that got too close. When Ryoma was finally within his line of sight again, he almost laughed; Ryoma was using the sheath in his right hand with equal facility as the unsheathed Ralt in his left. Ryoma had always been a quick study.

Assured his Pupil could hold his own, Fuji concentrated on the Vanuks charging at him left and right, drawing from the reserve of power inside him. Instead of focusing on a spell, he focused on an image of a shield, surrounding him, surrounding Ryoma, and relaxed his restraint on his power. He knew it was successful when one of the Vanuks lunging towards Ryoma was suddenly thrown back. Fuji walked towards Ryoma, glancing at another Vanuk that charged and was thrown back violently.

“...How did you do that?” Ryoma demanded when they were an arm’s length away from each other. Fuji shrugged and turned his attention back to the Vanuks. He frowned thoughtfully when he realized something: all of the Vanuks had moved to form a loose semicircle with the cliff behind them, almost as if...

Almost as if protecting something.

A shift in his focus and his thought, and the Vanuks were pushed back, with increasing force until they were up against the rock. “Stay here,” Fuji warned, before charging forward, releasing the Vanuks at the last moment, just before his blade sank into them. Three of them evaded his first charge, but few moments later, fell under the blade.

“Fuji!”

He did not have time to turn as the last Vanuk slammed into him, the dark mouth closed on his right shoulder, knocking him down. His blade was instantly at the Vanuk’s throat, but the Vanuk had already sunk its teeth into his skin. Few moments later, after the Vanuk disappeared, Fuji sat up, wincing a little. There was no sign of any more Vanuk as far as he could tell, but nevertheless, he cast a small, defensive shield around them, gesturing for Ryoma to come closer.

“Are you all right?” Ryoma asked, and sensing a genuine worry in the flat tone, Fuji managed a smile and a nod. The wounds hurt, but he knew his body would heal. It always did. Ryoma bit his lip, examining the wounds. “You said healing spells won’t work on these.” Ryoma sounded almost like a child that he should have been, and without thinking, Fuji laid his left hand on Ryoma’s head, stroking the hair back.

“I’ll be all right. What caught your attention before?”

Ryoma gave him a long look, before crouching down to pick up something. It was a stone, clear golden, bearing a close resemblance to...

“Tiger’s eye,” Fuji said and chuckled, then swayed on his feet. A combination of blood loss and adrenaline drop, he guessed. Gathering Ryoma to him, he willed them back to Castor’s lair, sensing himself grow fainter. The last thing he remembered was the gravel under his feet coming closer.

**********


“Fuji!” Ryoma cried, close to panicking. It was only when Castor’s great head nudged him aside that he realized he had been shaking Fuji none-too-gently. He relaxed his grip on Fuji’s clothes, moving aside to make room for Castor. Castor’s eyes, pale ice-blue that seemed even paler under the sunlight, narrowed.

“What happened?”

“Vanuk,” was the first thing that slipped out of his mouth, but Castor seemed to understand.

“I didn’t know any of those had survived to this age,” Castor muttered darkly. “Put him on my back, and get on, little one. Use levitating spell,” Castor reminded him, and Ryoma nearly blushed. He’d forgotten he could do that with Magic. “I will take you to Cassidna. Stay with him until I return.”

Something occurred Ryoma, cutting through the haze of shock. “Tezuka might be there.”

“Tezuka?”

“My guardian,” Ryoma clarified.

“I remember; Fuji told me.” Castor cast a sharp glance over the lake shimmering under the sun. “Can Tezuka be trusted?”

“...Fuji doesn’t trust him. Not...completely.” By that, Ryoma meant Fuji didn’t trust Tezuka with Castor. It was the most accurate assessment he could give.

“And would you trust him?”

Ryoma considered for a moment. “Yes,” he decided.

“Then so will I.” Castor’s pale eyes focused on Ryoma’s, and Ryoma suddenly felt very young. Castor’s expression softened, nodding his head. “Get on, little one.”

Ryoma obeyed.

In the meanwhile, in the northernmost peak in the Pia Mountains, a section of the rocky cliff wavered like the summer haze, color bleeding away from the spot Fuji’s Ralt had pierced. After a little while, a large chunk of rock at the base of the cliff melted away, leaving behind a gaping mouth of a cave, stretching into the darkness below.

END OF CHAPTER 1


Notes: I’ll explain more as I go, but two things first: Ralt and Cetera Magic! A Ralt is the trademark weapon for the Cetera. All Cetera learn to fight with a Ralt, and receives a highly personalized one as a gift upon some significant event in life (usually passing Apprentice-level entrance exam). It is a curved weapon with a magic-enhanced blade, about half to three-quarters of an arm’s length total. It has a hilt but no guard, and the hilt is usually set with stones that hold energy that complements the owner’s. Because of the destructive nature of the magic-enhanced blade, the weapon is kept sheathed even during combat unless in extreme need. A Ralt can also be used as a focus to cast a spell or a weave.

Every Cetera must learn to use Magic through spells, weaves, and arrays. A spell is the simplest form of casting with a verbal command. A weave is a more complicated spell, either written or spoken, and typically lasts longer than a spell does. An array is a diagram-based casting, and is significantly more complicated (and not everyone is suited to using arrays), but tends to last longer than either spells or weaves.

Crossposted at http://shiraume-fic.dreamwidth.org/22041.html.

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