The Ackscha Project

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Chapter 3

Magical Manipulation for Dummies

Figure 1.b.11 - Magical Manipulation for the Modern Age, written by David Algreny and Jacob Mullester.

Wynd placed an electromechanical contraption on the picnic table, flipping it open like a clamshell to reveal a hand-shaped slot, decorated with different colors on the end of the fingertips.

“Uh, what’s that?”

“CMCE tester. We’re gonna see how well your body makes magic.”

“Don’t you already know that?” Glade recalled the term in yesterday’s discussion.

“Well, a side part of the project is doing some basic research on the participants. We’ll measure your CMCE at the end of the trip, too, so we can see how much you improved. Also, it might show how good of a teacher I am, hah.”

The woman beside him scoffed. She had been introduced as another professor that was part of the program, specializing in bioarcana.

“If anything, it’s gonna decrease because of you,” she replied in jest while helping set up the tester device.

“Oh sheesh, why don’t you teach them, Saige?”, Wynd heckled back.

“Sure, they’ll at least be healthier and won’t be blasting spells everywhere like you.”

“Yeah, well spells are better than your glorified yoga techniques. Breathing exercises aren’t gonna be impressive on a resume or application.”

Glade watched the two presumed friends taunt each other as they set up the machine. He absorbed the slightly burnt nature of Bakersfield Park while waiting, relieved he wasn’t here with Adam again.

Saige redirected her focus to Glade.

“Okay, so how this works is that the device will draw out some magic from your hand. Each finger corresponds to a different element, and the device will help your fingers naturally generate each type of elemental magic.”

Glade checked the colors on the fingertips and noticed that they did indeed correspond with the core elements he learned about in class. Green to wind, blue to water, brown to earth, red to fire, and yellow to electricity.

“Are you right or left handed?”, Saige asked.

“Oh, right.”

Saige turned the device 180 degrees so that there was a right hand slot instead of a left in front of Glade. “You can put your hand in palm down.”

Glade did so, feeling a cold sensation from the sanitization that was applied.

Wynd adjusted a laptop and used a USB cable to connect the computer and the main device. Saige closed the contraption, entrapping Glade’s hand.

Wynd grabbed the power cable extending out from the device and looked for the split midway through. The left split led to a standard plug that would go in an outlet, while the right led to an ergonomic grip. Wynd put his hand on the right end, producing a current for the machine. It powered up, generating a new sensation that Glade winced at. The energy of it dragged at his hand, almost feeling like it was stretching his fingers out. He maintained his stance in front of the table.

Saige continued giving directions. “Okay, you’ll just focus on your hand and generate magic how you normally would, when we’re ready. Any questions?”

“Uh, why do we have to do it in the park?”

Saige considered the easiest way to explain the process.

“Well, we generate magical energy similar to how we generate thermal or kinetic energy in our bodies, from chemical energy. But…“

Saige nodded at Wynd, expecting him to explain.

“Oh, right. Magical energy seems to be affected by the surrounding environment. Where you are won’t change the way you generate magic, but it’ll probably affect how much you generate. Sorta like how huddling with other people conserves body heat since people are sharing some of their body heat to you.”

“Except those aren’t the same principle at all,” Saige interrupted.

“I said sorta!”, Wynd snapped back, “whatever, basically, nature helps draw out more magical energy from your body. Are we good to go?”, he finished exasperatedly.

Saige nodded. “Whenever you’re ready, Glade.”

As instructed, he focused all of his energy as he usually did into his hand. The machine pulled harder, literally extracting his energy. After several seconds, his focus became unsteady and suddenly felt a bit dizzy. His vision blurred, and a headache formed. Saige noticed his worsened state.

“Okay, that’s enough.”

Wynd let go of the grip and stopped his current, turning off the machine. He went over to check the laptop.

After struggling for a couple seconds, Glade managed to stop the magic from flowing out. He nearly collapsed from the dizziness, his vision darkening greatly at the same time. His left hand grabbed the table for support.

“You okay?”, Saige asked with a mix of concern and surprise.

“Yeah,” Glade mustered.

Wynd was fixated on the data and analytics now on his laptop screen, hand over mouth while studying.

Saige briefly went over to Wynd’s side to check the same data.


Wynd read the statistics off directly.

“70.3% CMCE, 27% wind, 22% electricity, 20% water, 19% fire, 12% earth. 42.4% stability.”

The numbers sounded like another language to Glade - he could not grasp the meaning of any of them.

“So uh-”, Glade started.

“You’re a weird case,” Wynd plainly stated.


“The average CMCE is about 25%, and about 50% is where you can start hurting other people with magic,” Wynd noted, as if these were well known facts.

“But the average stability is about 75%, and somebody with a CMCE of your level would definitely have an even higher stability.”

Glade looked at him with a curious eye. Those statistics felt somewhat consistent with his past experience, but it was strange to directly confront those numbers. Saige finally unlocked the device, allowing Glade to free his hand. He took a seat next to the device.

“Well, it’s not a big deal,” Saige interjected, “these aren’t necessarily representative of anything big, and it could be improved with time.” She eyed Wynd with a slightly annoyed look.

“Oh, uh, yes, that’s right. Anyways, we can move on,” he said somewhat hurriedly. He looked back to Saige.

“The textbook?”, he suggested.

Saige understood and retrieved a thick hardcover textbook from the same bag used to carry the contraption.

She placed it on the table in front of Glade. On the cover was a title in bold saying “MAGICAL MANIPULATION FOR THE MODERN AGE”.

Wynd got up from his seat to explain.

“So, since our program is dead set on actually teaching you stuff,” Wynd jokingly whined, “we have to actually give you full lessons and have a curriculum and all that.

“Which means we have to give a textbook as supplementary material. I don’t actually know if we’ll use-”

“We’ll use it for some lessons,” Saige corrected in advance.

“Uh huh,” Wynd sarcastically agreed, “I think the book is a rental, by the way, so try not to lose or damage it. Oh, oh, also,” Wynd snapped his fingers, trying to remember the next piece of information.

“There’s an app you can download,” Saige assisted. “It’s on the cover, Wynd, that’s the whole point of the new edition-”

“I don’t care about the editions,” Wynd grumbled like a teenager, crossing his arms. “It’s a textbook!”

“You were credited in it! Don’t act sly!”

“Oh sure, they’ll credit anyone nowadays. Even you got your name in a textbook-”

The two professors continued bickering, both on seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum of professionalism.

Eventually, the quarrel died down and they both dismissed Glade for the day. Wynd gave a reminder, “coming Monday, okay? 12 P.M. sharp. See you then!”


Sunday night felt hopeless. Sleep would not set in, no matter what. Different fan settings, changing pillow sides, listening to videos, nothing would cause Glade to doze off. The thoughts of tomorrow and beyond were inseparable from his mind. There was a tinge of excitement marred by anxieties, fears, and a preemptive homesickness.

He was also irritated by his own inability to accept the situation, to accept an offer that others would have likely worked much harder for than he ever did for anything. He thought that he did not deserve such a good hand in life.

He became numb to the thoughts after a while. The only thing he was confident in was anticipating tomorrow, however few hours away it may be.

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