A tiny orange crab scuttled across the rocky ocean floors, quickly scurrying away into a small hole in between the cracks as looming shadows passed over the face of the rock. A small speck of light fizzled out next to it and the crab ducked deeper into its makeshift cave.
Tamaki sighed at his friend’s display. Although he didn’t intend to concentrate his magic so powerfully , Mirio did, sending an exploding ball of light and scaring off the poor crustacean, driving it deeper into the rock crevice. His eyes softened as Mirio laughed at his latest failed experiment—undoubtedly one that Sir had concocted to help hone Mirio’s magic.
He made his way closer to Mirio and placed his arm on the other mer’s shoulder, effectively cutting off his boisterous laughter. When Mirio gave him an enthusiastic smile, his entire body glowed a bit more with magic, the scales along his tail glittering beautifully as if they were miniature stars. Tamaki pulled back and squinted slightly at the brightness radiating from the shimmering tail.
“Mirio… focus. We’re supposed to be finding a mana shard, not… exercising our conjurations,” Tamaki mumbled, rubbing his arm as his eyes flicked up to the setting sun, signalling the approaching dusk. “We should hurry…. The class is probably waiting for us…”
Mirio scratched his head in embarrassment, “Sorry Tamaki! This spell has been on my mind all week, and I finally thought of how I could conjure it!” The golden mer puffed up. “But don’t worry! I’m sure we’ll be able to find the shard in no time!”
A peaceful silence enveloped the pair as they swam through the open ocean. Tamaki didn’t know where they were going, relying on Mirio to guide him to where they needed to be. The mer never failed to locate mana wells and was always able to track them down when nobody else in the class could.
Tamaki was glad they were paired together. The teacher’s assignment was to extract and bring back a bathyal shard. No doubt, most of the class had given up by now, meaning he and Mirio were the only ones still out hunting. .
Tamaki admired Mirio’s endless optimism. Even when Tamaki wanted to go back to the class empty handed, Mirio managed to convince him that they were on the verge of finding the shard. And true to form, they stumbled upon one of the most potent mana wells that Tamaki had encountered in his life, second only to the one he had accidentally stumbled across when he still lived in the depths as a child.
Confidently, Mirio swam forward toward where the mana seemed to be most concentrated, which happened to be near a colony of acropora. The acropora were larger and more vibrant than normal and sparked with magic.
Tamaki could feel the surplus of mana that was overwhelming the ocean water, which meant a rare bathyal shard had to be near. He approached the other mer, who was trying to concentrate his magic in a way that any nearby shards would absorb it. Tamaki felt a corner of his mouth quirk up involuntarily. Mirio was steadily improving his shard-tracing skills, but a bathyal shard would be difficult for even experienced shard hunters.
Tamaki placed a webbed hand on Mirio’s shoulder, effectively cutting off his conjuring. A small wave of mana flowed from the dispersed spell, the light magic dancing off of nearby common sea shards that had naturally formed.
“Mirio, let me handle this one. You already found the well for us, I can get the shard.”
After a brief second, Mirio nodded, backing away a few paces for good measure. He tensed visibly, taking a deep breath of water through his flared gills, preparing himself to assist his friend if needed.
Tamaki turned to where the coral gathered most densely, the vibrant colors beckoning him to start conjuring. He could practically see the shard in physical form, and he hadn’t even traced it yet. The cecaelia took one breath. And another. He stretched out both his hands toward the bundle of mana.
At first, nothing happened. The air was thick with tension, and the buzz of mana filled the silence. Tamaki could feel a warmth in his chest that slowly spread out into his limbs in waves. The warmth soon became a scorching heat that only he could feel. His octopus arms became cold as all of his mana travelled towards his hands, and only remnants of heat remained glowing on top of his suckered arms. He could feel the mana travel to his face as well, which was not good, but he just needed to gather a bit more…
Tamaki soon only felt the stark contrast between the chill in his octopus arms as the mana redirected itself towards his hands and the burn of the mana running through his upper body. He could see his magic seep from his hands, attracting the mana in the water to form it into a shard. He grimaced, but could see the form of the shard become tangible before his vision faded into white. With one last push of mana, a dark, inky blue shard materialized before their eyes.