"Vortexes are akin to muscles I never used.
The pain has at least allowed me to learn how to feel their position even when I don't use any breathing technique.
The next step is exercising them." Lith had a hard time staying awake while being cuddled, but he wanted to keep hearing Kamila's voice a bit longer.
"No offense, but the comparison doesn't hold.
All Awakened with a bright blue core can see the vortexes with their breathing technique.
If it was so easy, then why are so many mages stuck at your same level even after centuries" She asked.
"Quite a bit taken, Constable Smartass.
What do you suggest me to do, then"
"I'm not an Awakened and I don't even qualify as a magica." Kamila kissed his head again.
"What does a mana core do and what are the vortexes supposed to do"
Lith had already had that conversation with Solus countless times ever since Faluel had shown him the violet dots in his eyes and told him that, somehow, merging with his Demon of Darkness was akin to the Hydra bloodline's secret technique.
Yet he didn't mind repeating it again.
As a teacher, he had learned that it was by explaining his knowledge to laymen, by answering to all of their whys and hows about things that he considered too simple to give them a second thought that he could reach enlightenment.
Managing to dumb down complex concepts so that anyone could understand them meant to have truly mastered their underlying principles.
Teaching others allowed him to understand how deep his understanding of a discipline truly was.
"Awakened or not, a mana core produces the mana that allows us to use magic.
The main difference between us is that I can stimulate mine at will and fuel powerful spells whereas you can't without resorting to magical words and hand signs."
"I'm sorry, you already lost me." Kamila sighed.
"Imagine that we both have a crackling fireplace.
To make it hotter, I need but a thought to make my hand pick up more wood and throw it into the fire whereas you have to tell your hand how to move and where to throw the wood to achieve the same result.
"It's akin to having a dumb dog for a hand that needs precise instructions every time you want it to do something right."
What about the vortexes" She asked.
"That's an excellent question.
My hypothesis is that to achieve a violet core, I must turn them into auxiliary cores like it happened when I was one with my Demons." Lith projected two holograms for her.
One depicting his hybrid body with all the extra cores from Kolga's vengeful souls and the other depicting his human body with its vortexes.
"Which means having many more hands that don't just pick and throw the wood, but even restock the woodshed." Lith said.
"No wonder so few people achieve the violet core.
It sounds like a pain in the a.s.s." Kamila nodded.
What do you mean and how is this any different from the analogy with the muscles" Lith said, genuinely surprised by her words.
"Flexing a muscle is easy." She said while giving him a warm smile to emphasize the concept.
"A hand, instead, is made of several bones, muscles, and ligaments that need to perfectly coordinate between them to perform their duty.
"On top of that, even the nimblest of humans is born with just two hands or one core, if you prefer, which means that the new ones have to be trained from scratch and that you must also learn how to coordinate them with your starting two hands.
"Imagine how hard would it be if you suddenly had a third leg and you had to relearn how to walk without it being a drag.
No s.e.x.u.a.l innuendos!"
"I won't make jokes, but how do you know so much about anatomy" Lith asked while pondering her words.
Please, don't ask and I won't tell you anything that will make you puke your lunch."
'She may actually be on to something.' Solus said. 'After all, what you do with your core is to form runes with your mana and to weave them into a proper sequence that must make sense to manifest a spell just like your hands do with letters when you write.
'We can even push the analogy further since, in the case of high tiered spells, the core is the hand, the spell is the puppet, and the mana works like the strings connecting the two.'
'F.u.c.k me sideways.' Lith inwardly blurted out as he realized what kind of mammoth task getting control over even one vortex would be. 'If you two are right, then a vortex isn't a core that lacks power so much as one that has no coordination.
'A spherical core is akin to a hand that can form a perfect fist whereas a vortex is like a limb with no muscle memory that the brain doesn't even recognize as its own.'
'Does this knowledge help you in any way' Solus asked.
'I don't know but it's worth a shot.
I'll follow Quylla's example and train one vortex at a time, starting with first magic.
Writing a single word is the best exercise I can think of.' Lith replied before falling into a sleep as deep and happy as that of the children.
Everyone was so tired that they woke up only when the inn staff called them for dinner.
They ended up spending the night there and once again, the kids joined Lith and Kamila in their bed.
She was a bit annoyed by the complete lack of privacy since the children would barge in at any moment even when she was taking a bath.
Yet spending so much time together with those adorable rascals and being often mistaken for a real family made her soon wish to have one of her own.
'Is this my maternal instinct kicking in or what' Kamila thought while looking at the snoring pack around her.
She wasn't that tired to start with and after sleeping all afternoon she was wide awake.
'I'm still a Constable rookie with no stable career, I've got no family worth speaking of that might help me if I quit my job, and either of us has yet to say the Love word.
Instead of wasting time with daydreams, I'd better try and get some rest.' She sighed.
Yet every time that Leria responded to her c.a.r.e.s.s by calling her Mom in her sleep, Kamila's heart skipped a beat.
The following day, Lith Warped them back to Xaanx, where they spent the rest of their vacation.
Kamila forced Lith to bring the children to clothes and toy shops, trying his stinginess more than once.
Aran and Leria hated clothing stores as much as Lith did, which in turn pushed Kamila's patience to its utmost limits.
Dealing with three kids turned out to be way harder than with two.
As for the toy shops, the kids' enthusiasm lasted less than a matchstick in a storm.
"I'm sorry, miss.
What does this do" Aran politely asked a round-faced clerk while handing her a scale model of a Royal Fortress armor.
It appeared to be entirely made of small gilded feathers.
The helmet was shaped like an eagle's head, its gloves ended with claws, and a couple of wings made of glittery substance were dr.a.p.ed like a mantle around its shoulders.
The suit made the toy soldier resemble a humanoid Griffon covered in metal.