Day 3:

“This is really pretty easy.”

“It is no such thing, you are just incredibly intuitive.  You’ve made a connection.”

“Was that a compliment?  From you?”

“No child.  I promise that, if I ever do give you a compliment, I’ll explain what I’m doing very carefully so that you do not miss it.  Now what have you learned?”

“It’s like self-seeking, but I’m pulling the energy for a ward from myself.  I’m guessing this is dangerous.”

“Quite.  What do you know of the Replenishment ceremony?”

“No more than anyone else.  Each week, the commoners of Tressen offer a portion of their energy into the reserves that the city’s mages can draw upon for the good of all.”

“For the good of all.”

“You think that the mages of Tressen are abusing this power.”

“I think, my naïve friend, that the very existence of our power is an abuse of it.  Even the weakest, stupidest mages of Tressen wield twice the power of the strongest mage in the rest of the kingdoms, while at the same time, our most fit field workers will die ten years earlier than their counterparts in neighboring cities.”

“I’d heard rumors that the Replenishments shorten our life spans.”

Our life spans?  Of course not.  A mage of Tressen could live forever if we permitted them unlimited access to our reserves.  The last Greybeard lived well into his second century.  For the good of all.”

“So you’ve shown me how to ward myself without drawing from the reserve.  Can I use this method to cast a spell as well?”

 “Your continued focus on how all this benefits you is nothing short of appalling.”

“I’ve never been much for philosophy… sir.”

“A spell is a one-time expenditure of energy, but the total cost is much greater than even keeping an advanced ward up for hours.  And since you aren’t bound to anyone, the whole cost is paid by you.  This method of spell casting will tire you out like maintaining a ward, but it will do so in a matter of moments and it will take years off your life.”

“I’ll use it carefully.”

“What you should be wondering, in your infinite selfishness, is why I would show you it at all.”

“Defense, of course.  This allows me to cast against an opponent warded with energy from the reserve.”

“Fighting a lot of battles these days, are you?  Dueling other mages in the dark alleys behind the academy?”

“I…no.”

“And the Three Kingdoms have been at piece since the barbarian invasions three hundred years ago.  So why, why, why do I think you need to know this?”

“…The zombies.  I can’t seek them, but this would still allow me to cast on them.”

“But casting on the wall will always incense the zombies to attack you.”

“You’re lying, aren’t you?  That’s a lie.”

“What are you talking about, child?  I never lie.”

The End

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