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18 A Higher Realm

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"You don't even know something as basic as that? Didn't they teach you at military school?" Nolan asked in surprise. "Just what were those muscle-brains teaching you guys?"

Nolan had little knowledge about the military school's curriculum. But since they were under the Royal Family, he thought they would at least discuss the structure of the Royal Army's organization. After all, although the students of the military school did not possess any magic, if they had enough potential, they could still join the army's Combat Specialist Division.

"Forget it," Nolan interrupted before Kyran could open his mouth to speak."I'm not really asking. It is pure sarcasm."

With a shake of his head and a heavy sigh, Nolan proceeded to answer.

"It is the badges. In the Royal Army, if one wears a badge you will know their current rank and magic level. In order to create a tier four multiple arrays, a mage's level need to be at least an Adept. But when I fought the big guy from the army, you know the one who did that voice amplifying thing– Oh, right, you did not know him, or did you? Doesn't really matter. As I was saying, that guy sort of told me that he had a 'colleague', so I reckoned that since that guy can use magic he was the creator, but because he was only a Captain which is equivalent to being a Paige in terms of mage level, he needed another Paige level officer to create the array."

Kyran attentively listened to Nolan's explanation. If it were a different person, he would probably get lost the moment Nolan talked about the big guy from the army. But Kyran managed to follow.

'Is it the same guy back then?' Kyran wondered remembering the men in red uniform who led the raid at the Regis estate. He lamented that if the guy Nolan fought was the same one whom he knew that used fire magic, then it meant that he no longer had a chance to get even. Nolan had not been discreet about the fact that he killed him, after all.

"I see," Kyran nodded in acknowledgment.

"Now let me give you a brief explanation about the Royal Army's structure. Right now, it is important that you know this because today will not be the last time you will encounter one. At least when it happens, you can easily decide whether to fight or escape."

Nolan then explained the Royal Army's ranking system and how to know an officer's rank just by looking at the badge pinned to his vest.

There are four types of badges issued by the Royal Army. Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond. If an officer has a bronze badge, it means he is a Captain and can be given authority to lead at least three teams composed of four cadets and one lieutenant. A silver badge is given to a Captain after being promoted to a Major. Then a gold badge once he becomes a Lieutenant Colonel. Starting this rank, they will be given another gold badge for every promotion; Colonel, Major General, Lieutenant General, Army General, Deputy Marshal. That sums up to six gold badges. Last, the highest-ranking officer is the General Marshal who has a diamond badge.

Of course, it is not easy to be promoted in the army. Apart from the achievements that they contributed to the empire, their magic attainments need improvements as well.

For example, a Captain's magic attainment must be at the Paige level. Then the rest follows Adept, High Adept, Grand Adept, Master, High Master, Grand Master, Exalted, and then Magus.

In the Royal Army, mages at the Master level can be counted on two hands. There are even fewer above Master's level. For Exalted mages, there are three, and they are the three Deputy Marshals. Finally, is the Grand Marshal whose at Magus level.

Kyran was a little dizzy after hearing all this. He did not know that there were too many ranks in the army and levels for mages. But after hearing that there was one Magus in the army and that he was the highest-ranking officer, Kyran remembered something that Nolan said when they were in his domain.

"You are also a Magus, right?" Kyran asked.

Nolan smirked, "What do you think?"

Kyran did not know how to respond. He saw what Nolan could do and yet, he felt that he had not seen everything. He was not confident if that level was enough to judge a mage's magic attainment.

It was something that also made Kyran wonder how much one had to go through in order to be promoted to a higher-level mage.

Then Kyran remembered another detail, from his conversation with Nolan.

"You are at the same level as the highest-ranked officer of the army. Is it the reason why they kept tabs on you?"

"I liked how you remember all the small detail," Nolan nodded approvingly. "Before I answer that, let me ask you first. Do you know how the empire kept records of all the mages in their territory?"

Kyran knew the answer to this. When he was six he was excited to awaken his magic so he always asked his mother what would happen after he awakened.

"Every person who awakens their magic has to register at the Mage Hall. Every town has one. This is also to verify their qualifications if they want to enter a mage school after they come of age. But there are those who will not go to a mage school, this is usually the case when a mage is part of a clan." Kyran paused, remembering his clan. But he immediately pushed the thought at the back of his mind. This was not the time to reminisce and be sentimental. "So it is the clan elder's responsibility to register their mages."

"Hm, right." Nolan nodded. "Now you have to know that not all mages are being watched by the army. Only those with great potential will be closely watched. Of course, in the case where a mage is a 'late bloomer' the army's magic detectors are available almost in all areas of the empire, so the mage will not really be able to escape their scrutiny. Now, do you know how the army updates the status of mages in their records?"

Kyran frowned a little. Not because he did not know the answer, but because Nolan seemed to turn their conversation with him asking the questions.

"Well?"

With a sigh, Kyran answered. "The Mage Hall conducts a yearly assessment, and all the data will be sent to the army."

Obviously, he knew this because the Regis clan's disciples gather yearly to visit the Mage Hall for their assessment.

"Right. This is also how the Royal Army recruits new members. Once you become an Apprentice mage, then you can join the army training camp. In magic schools, once a student graduates, he will automatically be promoted to an Apprentice."

"It's different in military school?"

Kyran remembered that a graduate's rank will be determined after tallying up all their yearly achievements.

"Very. You can say it's the privilege of the gifted and the suffering of an ordinary human."

Kyran fell silent. A couple of days ago, he thought he was just an ordinary human. He knew exactly what Nolan meant about privileges and sufferings. But although he found about his magic, he still did not feel privileged.

"And? Why does the army keep tabs on you then?" Kyran immediately veered back to his original question.

lightsΝοvel

"Tsk," Nolan's eye twitched. He actually wanted to divert Kyran's interest to the mage school system and opportunities a mage would have after graduation, so Nolan could avoid giving out information about himself. But he underestimated the kid's ability to focus.

Nolan knew he could ignore this question, but if he wanted to teach this kid, sooner he was bound to know his secrets.

'Might as well,' he thought with a sigh.

"Remember that I said that the army keeps a close watch to those mages with great potential? I'm supposed to be one of those. But at least, that's how I let them see it."

"How you let them?"

Nolan sneered, "Sure. Currently what they know about me is only the tip of the iceberg."lightsnovel

Kyran contemplated a little and asked, "Were you able to hide your real information from the army?"

'This kid really is something to be able to catch the meanings in between my words,' Nolan thought in surprise.

"Good question," he smiled cryptically. "Yes, I hid it. Not that any high-level mage can do what I did, but because of my circumstances it is possible."

Kyran fell silent. What circumstances did one have in order to hide his real information? A lot of possibilities came to his mind. But only one possibility made an impression based on the few details he remembered from all the exchange he had with Nolan.

"Was the army able to update your original record?"

Nolan's eyes narrowed. 'Interesting.'

He smiled slyly and asked a question that did not really sound like a question, "What do have in mind kid?"

Kyran observed Nolan's expression. While it sounded that Nolan would immediately strike if he said something wrong, Kyran saw the amusement in his eyes. Besides, he did not summon his black mist for 'insurance' this time.

"You mentioned being able to keep a younger image when you're a Magus. And this," Kyran pointed at his face. "You can do this with your magic. So I'm thinking, what if your original record has not been updated and what the army currently has is a new one...?"

Nolan burst out laughing, "Hahahaha!"

Kyran was dumbfounded. He did not expect him to laugh at his 'idea'. He belatedly realized how absurd it sounded and felt embarrassed.

"Ah, Cade you really raised one hell of a monster."

Kyran frowned, "What?"

Nolan shook his head, "Never mind. You're right." But he did not elaborate.

Kyran did not pursue the topic as well. Nolan would tell him if it was necessary.

Nolan suddenly smiled that made Kyran's insides turn. Not because it was his usual scary smile, but because it looked... humanely. Which was very unlike him.

"I look forward to your future kid. Maybe you will also reach the higher realm."

"Higher realm? Isn't Magus the highest realm?"

"Of course not. You only touched the tip of the higher realm, when you become a Magus."

"Then what is the highest realm? Has anyone able to reach it?"

"Sure. That's why we know about its existence."

Kyran was surprised, "Then it is not entirely impossible."

Nolan chuckled, "No. But it is hard. After Magus, there is still the Arch Magus, then Legendary."

"Yeah, but if there are others who were able to reach it then – ."

"I never said anything about 'others' reaching that realm."

Kyran's eyes grew wide realizing Nolan's implication.

"You mean there was only one?"

"Uh-huh," Nolan nodded.

"Who?"

"Who else, was there? Apart from the mage who shook the world with his magic." Nolan said and pointed at Kyran.

"The magic which you also possess. The Void Master. The Dark Sage."

Kyran had goosebumps. Everyone knew about the Dark Sage. The adults in his clan usually used him to scare children to sleep early. Although it stopped when he turned six. He knew now that the Regis clan wanted to hide everything that had something to do with the Dark Sage because of his magic.

But knowing that that very mage actually reached a realm that no one did, Kyran could not help feeling awed and at the same time scared.

'I wonder what made him that way?' He wondered as he looked at his hands. 'Does the magic a mage possesses really affect his path?'

"Now you understand why the army wants to get you so bad? Why they want you alive, well, I have a few ideas. I'm sure you also had yours." Nolan interrupted Kyran's thoughts.

"Right, we'll stop for today. Rest up and tomorrow, we'll go to Starhorn."

Kyran looked at Nolan, who stood up and went to the door.

"Starhorn? What will we do there?"

Nolan turned to him and grinned mischievously, "We'll get those army big shots shit their pants."