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Literature / A Mage's Power

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"I am Tasio the Trickster and I am here to help you."

Due to 'help' from a mischievous trickster, Eric is stranded in a world where monsters and magic are as common as homework and hotdogs. While he struggles to adjust, he receives an offer to join a mercenary guild. Between training and missions, he's unaware of the forces at work in his life. All of them have a stake in his quest to acquire A Mage's Power.

A Mage's Power is Brian Wilkerson's debut novel and the first story in the Journey to Chaos series. The next book is Looming Shadow.


A Mage's Power contains these tropes

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Roalt's sewer system has tunnels that are big enough for two people to walk abreast, and it is also home to some large monsters. Eric spends a Rescue Arc down here. He has to wear a mask, but not because of sewage fumes, rather it's because of magical fumes.
  • Action Girl: All the female members of the Dragon's Lair qualify; mercenaries. The most prominent of these is Tiza, the tank of Team Four.
  • Almighty Janitor: Mia's position within the Dragon's Lair is "Receptionist" and all the guild's requests are made to her personally. Thus, she's the one who gives the mercenaries their missions. Not only can she make their lives unpleasant but she also effectively has a lock on their income.
  • All Just a Dream: Eric fears this is the case when he wakes up in his apartment and not a second has passed since he left. Then Tasio delivers his staff and spellbook to his front door.
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  • All Women Love Shoes: Tiza owns many more pairs of shoes than she truly needs. She insists they all have practical, mercenary, purposes. Kasile turns her from hostile to friendly by complimenting her shoes.
  • The Apprentice: Everyone who joins the Dragon's Lair mercenary company starts off with this rank. Eric is Basilard's apprentice until he proves that he can handle himself in a fight. He's technically a novice for the rest of the book but he's still learning magic from Basilard (and Dengel).
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Eric is teaching Kasile magecraft and asks if she is comfortable learning the fireball spell. He does this when they are in her room which is festooned with fire imagery that references her fire goddess heritage. Kasile just stares at him, prompting him to reference the trope, “Right . . . Stupid question.”
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Dragon's Lair hierarchy is built with this in mind. Proving that he can kick ass is how Eric promotes from Apprentice to Novice. At the top of each Squad is a captain more powerful than several regular members and at the top of the guild is The Dragoness, who could fight all five captains at once.
  • Attempted Rape: Tahart's job offer Annala to is a ruse for the purpose of raping her. He hides Power Nullifiers and a Slave Collar in her uniform to make her weaker. He would have succeeded if not for Eric's intervention.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The Leader of the Black Cloaks is its strongest member.
  • Badass Bookworm: To be a mage in this univese, you have to do a lot of studying. That fireball spell requires a working understanding of mana and the basics of how fire operates.
  • Bald of Awesome: Orcs don't grow facial hair, and as a Proud Warrior Race, all of them are this by default.
  • Bald of Evil: The one exception to the Bald of Awesome listing is Tahart Ligo, an orc who is gluttonous, unlawful, and a rapist.
  • Batman Gambit: Selen's coup relied heavily on Kasile's paranoia. If she hadn't jumped at his bait with the Ceihan ambassador, then it would have fallen apart before it started. He even thanks her once she's at his mercy.
  • Barrier Warrior: A secondary skill all mages possess is the ability to project one's spirit as a barrier against physical and magical attack. It's so common even non-mages have it.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Kasile. No matter how much she protests that "divine beauty is never tarnished" she is a sweaty and disheveled mess after a training session. After she's injured in the climatic battle, it takes a corps of ladies-in-waiting to make her presentable again.
  • BFS: Culmus carries around a metal sword that's as tall as he is, and just as wide. It was designed to kill orcs, who have infamously tough skin and thick muscles. He also insists that carrying it is weight training and that its great length allows him to add more magic enchancement runes than a smaller sword would allow.
  • Black Market: It's implied that Motsuc's Customization shop is part of a black market and that he is the one who sold a prison runed maid outfit to Tahart Ligo.
    Basilard: "Team, let's go before I get an urge to ask Motsuc where he got these items.”
    Motsuc: “I assure you I run a legitimate business!”
  • Blood Knight: Tiza looks forward to fighting monsters on missions.
    A mercenary's life for me!
  • Blood Magic: Members of the Bladi clan have a unique branch of magic that uses their blood as its catalyst.
  • Bookworm: After arriving in Roalt, Eric spent nine days in the public library. Because of its cafe, he didn't have to leave once in that time.
  • Bond One-Liner: Eric shows off his new confidence by throwing out one of these after defeating an academic mage in mercenary style, "leave the battlefield to the professionals, schoolboy."
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Eric and Dengel have an argument after Eric kills Tahart, an orc.
    Dengels: ...Orcs are savages.
    Eric: He was a person!
    Dengel: He was a savage person.
  • Broken Pedestal: Eric idolized Dengel ever since he read the ancient mage's book, "The Spirit and It's Power". After he becomes a Heroic Host for Dengel, he exclaims that he keeps that book on his bed side table. Then he pulls a Grand Theft Me and Eric realizes that he's a treacherous and power hungry opportunist.
  • Brought Down to Normal: After maintaining an elemental fusion spell for far longer than safe, Eric is unable to use magic for a brief period of time.
  • Casting a Shadow: While Eric can use all the elements for spells, he finds in himself an affinity for darkness.
  • Catch and Return: Getis Darwoss demonstrates his greater skill at combat magic than most academic mages by catching Eric's mana bolt and throwing it back at him in one motion.
  • Character Death: Aio dies in the Yacian Caverns due to injures.
  • Chekhov's Gun: When Eric fist arrives on Tariatla, he witnesses Captain Hasina test an instant-hangover cure on a passed out gian. When he needs Culmus to sober up in a hurry, he remembers this event and goes to see her.
  • The Chessmaster: Everything went as Tasio directed. He arranged for Eric to meet Annala and join the Dragon's Lair. He worked with Basilard to engineer a Darkest Hour that would force Eric into action. He removed the sound-proof runes from Tahart's apartment so Eric would hear Annala's cry. Even Selen's Evil Plan only unfolded as it did becuse Tasio incorporated it into his own.
  • Classical Antihero: Eric freezes whether confronting monsters or his crush. When things go wrong, he blames himself. Tasio thinks it's tons of fun to guide him into a mercenary guild.
  • Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: It would seem that the major job duty of a Dragon's Lair lieutenant is babysitting their eccentric captain so they don't do something silly, stupid, or dangerous.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Mercenaries don't fight with "honor". They use Groin Attack and Magic Eye whenever it suits them. This is part of Eric's advantage in a tournament populated by high-society student mages.
  • Compensating for Something: Because Culmus carries around a BFS, he is subject to many of these jokes.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: There's an aversion in the climax. Kasile and Siron are surrounded by a large group of faceless and nameless soldiers, and it is made clear that the only reason they're still alive is because these soldiers don't want to kill them. The former is their nation's popular princess and the latter is their boss' son. Not only do their orders include "don't kill them", they're personally reluctant to do so anyway.
  • Constructed World: Eric spends several chapter at the start learning how the world he dropped into works.
  • Cuddle Bug: If Mia thinks you need a hug, she will jump over her desk and hug you.
  • Cute Bookworm: In the words of Tasio, Annala is a "cute and sweet nerd".
  • The Cutie: Mia is a pretty and sunny girl who likes giving hugs. She's chiper first thing in the morning, when Eric and Nolien are groggy.
  • Curse of Babel: Zaticana, goddess of language, deliberately caused the original split in Tariatla's languages. It's not as a punishment, but because she thought the results would be fun to watch.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Kasile uses one of these at the climax. When Eric has given up completely and it looks like the bad guy has won, she reminds him of all the incredible things he's done. In this way inspires him to confront Dengel and save the day.
  • Darkest Hour: Eric and Kasile have been arrested on charges of sedition and locked in the castle dungeon. The Dragon's Lair is about to be raided so its members can join them. Power Nullifiers make Dengel's magical knowledge worthless. At this point Eric gives up and shouts for Tasio to send him back to Threa. Tasio doesn't arrive, and Eric realizes the Awful Truth-Tasio planned this outcome. Not only will he not helped Eric, he's laughing his ass off at his expense.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Kasile is kidnapped during a joust, but this does not (immediately) provoke a Rescue Arc. The main characters are mercenaries, and their leader insists that this event doesn't concern them unless they are hired to rescue her. Eric decides to go on his own time, along with his fellow mercenary, Culmus, who is also the princess' secret boyfriend.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Zigzagged Trope. Kasile easily handles the mooks that have come to abduct her, but their leader subdues her just as easily. Eric comes to rescue her but by the time he arrives, she's loose and on the verge of escape. In the end, she follows the outlaw force that composes her official rescue party.
  • David vs. Goliath: Eric often phrases his battles in terms of himself being small and his foe being large. For instance, when he triumphs over a certain orc his victory thought is "And the wasp defeats the lion!" This also happens when fighting mages with greater experience, raw power, or knowledge (which is most of them).
  • Death by Childbirth: Kasile's mother died giving birth to her, which is why she feels to pressured to excel as a queen. She doesn't have any siblings so there is no back up if she fails.
  • Dem Bones: There are many skeletons in the sewer's beneath Roalt and they are animated by a combination of ambient mana and lingering spiritual power. Dengel suggests that they are the remains of past adventurers, and stupid people on dares. Eric has to blow them up to stop them.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: This is a Implied Trope. Basilard mentioned offhandedly that he has drinking matches with Death.
  • Dual Wielding: Aegis dual wields buckler shields and Raki dual wields short swords. They regularly duel.
  • Engineered Heroics: This is Plan A for the Big Bad, Duke Selen Esrah. He's hoping a Rescue Romance will rekindled the relationship between his son and his ex-girlfriend, Princess Kasile. He hires some rogues to do the kidnapping, infiltrates them with a couple of his own guards to guard against betrayal and then sends down his son. The problem is that his son is captured despite his efforts, and someone else gets the credit.
  • Enthralling Siren: The Rose Forest is home to Venus Fly Traps with a similar ability. Their song creates a bewitching illusion that ensares their victim and dulls their senses. Eric encouters a beautiful wood Nymph playing a harp and is just barely saved from being the plant's next meal.
  • Evil Plan: Duke Selen Esrah orcastrated Kasile's kidnapping and then the coup at the climax in order to become king.
  • Faking the Dead: Aio is one of many guises worn by Tasio. He pretended to die to galvanize Eric into active.
  • Fantastic Racism: There's a lot of bad blood between the species but this doesn't stop them from getting along for the most part. Eric's school friends, for instance, include two demons, an elf, and an albino human.
    • Some humans are prejudiced against demons, and think of them as "freaks" or "dumb animals". They think elves are a race of crazy people.
    • Some orcs are prejudiced against non-orcs for being weak in mind and body. The word for this is "soft skin".
    • Some elves are prejudiced against humans because of their mortality; "temps" as in "temporary".
  • Fat Bastard: Tahart Ligo is an orc so "heavily muscled" that he can't bend over and clip his own toenails. He's not Nice to the Waiter, or anyone else for that matter. In fact, he attempts to rape his temporary maid and then bribe her rescuer into looking the other way. When Eric refuses, Tahart decides to eat him instead.
  • Fetch Quest: One of Team Four's missions is to travel to an insland island, retrieve monster poop, and bring it back to Roalt. It's the policy of the Dragon's Lair to give all the grunt work to the novices.
  • Fiery Red Head: The Bladi Clan is Playing with a Trope. They all have red hair as a dominant trait but their temperments vary.
    • Basilard is only firece in battle. Otherwise he's mellow.
    • Mia is closer to Rose-Haired Sweetie with her kind nature.
    • Raki is a rude and aggressive dual wielder.
  • For Science!: Captain Hasina wants to cut Eric open, because he's an otherworlder and she wants to study him. She finds comparing otherworlder humans and local humans to be a fascinating area of study. Her other experiments are more about solving a puzzle (i.e. curing a disease) and giving the solution to everyone.
  • Functional Magic: Magic is using mana to a diverse and practical purpose.
    • Inherent Gift is rare because it follows specific bloodlines. Bladicraft, for instance, can only be used by members of the Bladi Clan.
    • Rule Magic is the most common variety practiced because anyone can learn it if they have a teacher or a book. It's called "magecraft" and it involves a lot of studying. The most important lesson is the Three Laws of Magecraft; Mana, Knowledge and Will Power. The second most important is that Rule Magic is a crutch for learning Force Magic. Rules make performing magic easier for beginniners. Experts don't need them.
    • Alchemy is ambigious. Since the study of mana is as old or older than the study of chemicals, no one bothers with a difference.
    • Device Magic is also common. Wards against spells and physical harm are often sold to warriors while an artist is more likely to buy something to asist their latest work. Both of them stop by the corner store.
    • Force Magic is present in pulling mana from the surrounding enviroment or from a Place of Power, but most mages are only good enough to pull it from their own soul. Once a mage has a sufficient level of skill and power, they can forgo Rule Magic and focus entirely on Force Magic.
    • White Magic is called "healing magic" while Black Magic is called "combat" or "battle magic". There is no color for magic that is neither.
    • Blood Magic is a downplayed example. Only the blood of Basilard or his relatives count because their blood is magical. The blood of someone like Eric is useless for magical purposes.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mia wears her hair in two long tails for the cuteness.
  • Grand Theft Me: After the shaman of Kyraa gives Eric the spirit of Dengel, she warns him to never give Dengel full control of his body, because if he does, then this could be the result. At the climax, he crosses the Godzilla Threshold and does it anyway.
  • Grew a Spine: The premise of the story is Tasio trying to invoke this on Eric.
  • God Was My Copilot: In this case, the King of The Tricksters was my roommate.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: A justified trope given the difference in culture.
    • "Abyss take it" is the Tariatlan version of "damn it". It means the same thing.
    • "Oh Trickster!" is the equivalent of "Oh my God".
  • Guile Hero: As Eric's confidence grows so does his wilyness. He does not defeat older and more experienced mages by overpowering them but by outsmarting them. In this sense, he's not so different from Tasio.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted. Whenever Eric goes up against older and/or more experienced warriors, he is outgunned everytime. The only way to victory in those cases is with guile.
    • Eric trains for hours every day before and after school for a couple weeks and he gets humiliated by a veteran mercenary, whose experience ranks in a couple decades.
    • Any one of the Black Cloak rogues could kill him on their own, so he pretends to be one of them and uses a quick spell combo to disable them when his ruse is discovered.
    • When he fights mages from the Royal Academy, note  he curbstomps all of them but one. When he fights Kallen Selios note , he is curbstomped himself.
    • In his climatic confrontation with Dengel, his only path to victory is exploiting the elder mage's ego and deceiving him. A direct confrontation would lead to a quick and premanent death.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Healers are basically the world's version of doctors which means they go to medical school and learn about how the body works and how magic can be used to fix problems. When Nolien is tending to someone's battle wounds, he has a ditty that goes along the lines of "stop the bleeding, check infection, reconnect the nerves and veins..."
  • Heel–Face Turn: After his father's plot leads to Kasile being locked up in her own dungeon, Siron decides that enough is enough and frees her.
  • Heroic Host: Around midway, Eric is given the spirit of Dengel, a legendary mage. He has access to all of Dengel's knowledge which then gives him a leg up on older mages. However, he does not have Dengel's spiritual might and so he has to make up the difference with guile.
  • Heroic RRoD: Eric is a novice mage and novice mages should not attempt intermediate or advanced spells. The results are nasty. After maintaining an elemental fusion spell for a prolonged period of time, he starts going nuts and had to be knocked out for his own safety. He was unconscious for a full day and couldn't manage any spells for a week. He didn't return to full strength until Dengel treated the damage he did to himself.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: Eric needs Culmus to sober up in a hurry because there's a Rescue Arc they need to get started on. So he takes Culmus to Captain Hasina who has been experimenting with just such a remedy. It makes Culmus cough up blood, experience seizures, and would likely have killed him if Hasina didn't step in with White Magic. Despite that, he is awake, sober and ready to fight in a few hours.
  • Hired Guns: The Dragon's Lair mercenary company that Eric joins is composed of sword swinging warriors, spell slinging mages, more covert warriors (spies and assassins and such) as well as Combat Medics. Most of the time, they're hired to help keep the monster population under control. Since Eric is a novice in this book, he is only hired to do grunt work. Tiza would prefer playing this trope straight.
  • Hot-Blooded: Tiza runs gunho towards monsters. The greater the danger, the more excited she is.
  • Holding the Floor: Duke Selen, the Big Bad, has been cornered by the heroes. So he holds their attention with an explanation of his evil plan until his reserve troops can show up.
  • Hope Spot: After deftly handling three of the mooks sent to kidnap her, Kasile is feeling confident about handling the situation. Then their boss steps up and Magic Eyes her into submission.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Laharg the orc is taller and broader than any human. His mercenary partner, Malize, is a fairy and so she's small enough to ride on his head.
  • I Choose to Stay: Eric is happy on Tariatla and has no desire to go back to Threa. Tasio says otherwise and drags him back.
  • The Idealist: Nolien states that he joined the Dragon's Lair to help people, and Basilard calls him this in response.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: When a client (a restaurant manager) tells Eric to use his Functional Magic to be a Stage Magician, Eric replies, "I'm a warrior, not a stage actor." His mentor says that, as a mercenary, he is whatever his client wants him to be. Eric's reply to this is, "Yes, daylra."
  • In Medias Res: The story begins with Eric in an underground room and fighting an orc. As he wonders as how got himself into this mess, the story shifts to the day he met Tasio The Trickster.
  • Insufferable Genius: Dengel is famous throughout Tariatla because of his accomplishments in codifying the science of magecraft and he fills Eric's mind with bragging about his personal legend.
    Dengel: My lectures are brilliant and I never brag.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Eric prevents Dengel from noticing the trap he is setting by exploiting the ancient mage's ego. For instance, "the great sage is dead, because he wet his bed!"
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!: When Hanson is berating Eric for a paltry report (that Tasio wrote), Hanson says that "every other word is misspelled, its poorly organized, and it is bordered with smiley faces". Tasio asks what's wrong with smiley faces.
  • It Amused Me: Trickster gods in general do these things for amusement, because they are all children of the Goddess of Chaos.
    • Tasio the Trickster is a public nuisance in every city of Tariatla. According to a Roalt city wall commander, he would destroy a civilization or raise it to a new level of prosperity on a whim. "Most of the time, he's just a pest."
    • Zaticana, the goddess of language, caused a Curse of Babel because she thought the resulting confusion would be hilarious.
  • Karmic Death: Dengel teaches Eric magic string sewing for a mage contest and drills him until the strength of the string satisfies him. This is the very skill that Eric uses to hold him in place long enough to banish him (i.e. make him a wandering spirit again).
  • Killing in Self-Defense: Eric has to fight an orc. In this verse, even the weakest orc is bigger, tougher and stronger than the average human and Eric is a teenager with beginner magic. The only way to protect himself and Annala, who was Tahart's initial target was to put the orc down for good. The in-house advocate for Eric's guild says the self-defense case is so clear that he won't have to stand trial for it.
  • Kill It with Fire: Many of the monsters Eric fights in the Path of the Rat are vulnerable to fire and so he relies exclusively on Fire Ball and Flame Wave.
  • The Lady's Favor: It's tradition for jousters, be they formal knights or not, to receive a token from their girlfriend/wife (or boyfriend/husband as the case may be) before moving to the list field. Eric must acquire one of these to successfully complete a Rescue Arc. When Kasile is kidnapped, he acquires her handerchief from Culmus, her secret boyfriend, and uses it as part of a tracking spell.
  • The Leader: Basilard is both the sergenant and mentor for Dragon's Lair Team Four. He stays calm even when a pack of Xethras are attacking.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Shortly after his arrival on Tariatla, Eric remarks that his life has become very dangerous and strange, kind of like something out of a fantasy novel or video game.
    I'm rescuing a princess with a mercenary, a sentient staff, and a ghost. It's like one of those RPGs I used to play when I was a kid . . .
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Tiza would have been this if Sathel hadn't drilled it out of her. She loves rushing into danger and sometimes forgets that she's part of a team. Thanks to her apprentice mentor, she always has some rudimentary plan and will drag at least one of her teammates by the hair into trouble.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: The Silver Dragon writes about how awesome immortality is in her autobiography. One of her hobbies is visiting a place after a century has passed; the mix of familiar and new is something "only an immortal can truly appreciate".
  • Locked in the Dungeon: After being (falsely) charged with sedition in A Mage's Power, Kasile and Eric are locked in the dungeon of Roalt Castle. It is a dark and cold ungerground place with torment-by-fire imagery and anti magic runes. They spend the time blaming each other for the mess while despairing the inevitable torture and/or execution.
  • Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Zigzagged Trope. Aio, Eric's first friend in Tariatla, is certainly loony. His schoolfriends, Revas, Oito and Annala, are not loony in the least, but his guild friends are plenty loony. They all come together in the Power of Friendship.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Lieutenant Aegis of the Dragon's Lair dual wields shields. It's implied he uses them to disable and disarm his opponents; when Eric first met him, his sparing partner's sword went flying in towards the exit and almost impaled Eric. The one on his right arm is enchanted to not only defend him against magic but to return them to their castor.
  • Mad Scientist: Captain Hasina is perpetually experimenting on people to test homemade cures, and when she learns Eric is an otherworlder, she becomes obbessed with cutting him open For Science!. Because these cures have innocuous side effects, and her Morality Chain prevents her from dissecting Eric, she's played for Comedic Sociopathy.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Magic is a consistent and learnable skill in this verse. Introduction to Magecraft was written two thousand years ago and it is still the most popular reference guide for beginners because regardless of time or practioner, the basic rules of magic don't change. The Three Laws of Magecraft are as immutable as the Three Laws of Motion
    • 1.Mana. You can't do magic without mana because it is the root of all power.
    • 2. Knowledge. You have to know what you're doing. You can't just say say "Fireball!" while focusing hard if you don't how that spell is supposed to work
    • 3.Willpower. Since mana flows from the goddess Chaos, all magic can be seen as Wild Magic. Magecraft is the tamest of all forms of magic but a mage still needs a strong will to force mana to take the shape he/she wants and go into the direction that he/she desires.
  • Magic Misfire: The spell "Magic Sight" is tricky when you are first learning it.
    • Eric accidentally blinded himself when he first tried it.
    • Basilard relates a story when he rendered himself color blind and remained that way for several days.
  • Magic Eye: Evil Eye is a spiritual technique that can paralyze the target through eye contact. Unlike magic it cannot be taught, only be developed through periods of intense fear, hatred, and/or sorrow. When Eric sees that Tahart has restrained and is about to rape Annala, he develops this ability.
  • Magic Staff: This the Weapon of Choice for Dragon's Lair mages because they can double as a Simple Staff. They're mercenaries after all, not academic researchers. One way of killing monsters is just as good as another.
  • Mana: The source of power for all magic (but not all spiritual skills). It flows from the Sea of Chaos, through the veins of Noitearc, and into world fruit through the Eleven Mana Gates. Then it can be used by the people living in those world fruit as fuel for spells. Its absense on Threa (Eric's homeworld) is the reason why no one on Threa can perform magic.
  • Mana Potion: If a mage needs a boost in a hurry, they can down a bottle of Mana Juice! Available at your local convenience store
  • Master of Illusion: Averted by Basilard. Despite being a top-tier mage and knowing several illusion spells his skill with them is poor because they're not his speciality. This is why he usually forgoes them in favor of straight up combat.
  • The Medic: It's Dragon's Lair policy for a White Mage to be part of every team. Nolien fulfils this role for Team Four because he has the skill for it. He's still developing a healer's sensitivity.
  • Meido: Annala becomes a household maid as a summer job and wears a stylized version of a maid's traditional outfit as a uniform. The uniform is a ruse for Power Nullifiers and a Slave Collar.
  • Mentor Archetype:
    • Basilard is a squad five senior. His job is to teach Eric, Tiza, and Nolien how to be proper mercenaries and develop their respective skills.
    • Dengel is a classical example in that he is both older than dirt and regarded as a sage. He teaches Eric high-level and esoteric forms of magic.
  • Metaphorically True: After snatching his Spell Book away from his muggle apartment mate and needing a mundane explanation, Eric says, “After high school, I had the acting role of a mage in a mercantile company. My roommate sent me this when I lost it.” This sentence is absolutely true, but it implies that he went directly to this company after high school instead of years afterward and only joined at a high school age due to a Fountain of Youth effect, as well implying that it was an acting/theater company that had a mercantile attitude instead of being a literal mercenary company with a mercantile attitude.
  • Moment of Weakness: Tasio has been waiting for Eric to have a particularly bad day, because only then would he ask for help. The Trickster needs him to do this so he can deliver the Call to Adventure and drop him in another world.
  • Morality Chain: Captain Hasina is a Mad Scientist who might experiment on random bystanders all day and all night if Lieutenant Jemas didn't stick to her like glue and tell her not to.
  • Motive Rant: When Princess Kasile and her party corner Duke Selen Esrah during his coup, she demands an explanation for his actions. He talks about how she is a poor excuse for a future queen because of her arrogance and paranoia. He believes that taking the throne from her is for the good of Ataidar. He also doesn't like how she broke his son's heart and leands so heavily on outlaws for protecting the realm instead of nobles like himself. While all of this is true, he's actually Holding the Floor while waiting for his resserves troops.
  • Mundane Utility: All over the place. This verse uses mana in place of electricity, and so magic is used in every appliance and aspect of daily life.
    • The air conditioning in Eric's bridge house is wind magic.
    • Scries (cell phone equivalents) use runes in place of circuitry.
    • Locks use enchanted crystals instead of metal keys.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Orcs are known as Proud Warrior Race Guys who consider The Law to be sacred. Tahart Ligo is a stock trader who exploits laws to avoid punishment for unlawful actions.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Eric is new to the world of the Tariatla and to the Dragon's Lair Mercenary Company. The first couple chapters are about him learning about both of them, training for his new position as a battle mage, and spending nine days in a library. Then it's out into the wilderness to fight monsters....
  • "No More Holding Back" Speech: Eric lacked confidence in his own abilities and leaned heavily on the spirit of Dengel as a Heroic Host. When they have a falling out, Eric musters the courage to confront him, and once he is victorius, he announces that he doesn't need Dengel anymore. He will face the future on his own strength alone.
    Eric: "I don't need your power. I don't need your encouragement. I don't need you. Now begone."
  • Once an Episode: A bird will poop on Nolien in every chapter he appears in.
  • Only Smart People May Pass:
    • When Eric tries to enter the Temple of Zaticana, his path is blocked by the temple's guards. They declare that "No earthbound mortal may cross this temple threshold." Eric quickly figures out that instead forbidding mortals to enter the temple, the statement means they want him to jump across, i.e. prove he is not "earth bound".
    • The entrance to the Black Cloak's hideout is carefully hidden and guarded. To enter without setting off alarms, Eric has to use several spells in combination
  • Order Versus Chaos: Inverted; Eric reads a story that protrays them as family. In fact, they're mother and son. A scene at the climax states that there is more animosity between them then the story implied.
  • Our Founder: A statue of the Mother Dragon stands on top of her guild, the Dragon's Lair. Basilard "introduces" Eric to it when the latter joins as a novice. There are also statues of the first five captains in the courtyard.
  • Pair the Smart Ones: Eric and Annala, two school nerds, quickly become friends and later Twice Shy. This is engineered by Tasio, who knew he would fawn over a "cute and sweet nerd".
  • Pals with Jesus: Basilard is a drinking buddy to Death, as in, the Anthropomorphic Personification thereof.
  • Physical God: Tricksters are physical manifestations of the goddess Lady Chaos, whose true form mortals cannot grasp. All of them can fly, teleport and possess Complete Immortality but the level of divine power varies between them depending on their attunement.
  • Pink Boy, Blue Girl: The uniforms for the students at the Royal Academy of Magical Study follow this convention: girls wear long pink dresses hemmed with gold and collars of darker pink while boys wear blue floor length robes outline in silver and dark blue ascots.
  • The Plan: Several and Eric is a critical piece in all of them.
    • Tasio has a plan to make Eric grow a spine. He incorporates the later two into his own.
    • Duke Selen has a plan to become King or dowager king of Ataidar. He exploits Kasile's into his own but is unaware of Tasio's.
    • Kasile has a plan to ferret out her kidnappers. She has no idea that the person helping her hired them to do so.
  • Playing with Fire: The first spell Eric learns is Fire Ball. It becomes essential during his Rescue Arc.
  • Police Brutality: The Royal Guard that comes to arrest Eric on charges of sedition, treason, and brainwashing a princess is a complicated case. On one hand they are brutal in subduing him, but that's because he's a professional mercenary and so is capable of hurting them if they are not quick. One of them spits on and curses him, but she is immediately punished by her immediate superior. He then apologises to Eric and tells him that she is new to the force and doesn't know the code of conduct yet. He also tells Eric that he believes Eric's crime to be worthy of brutality but that would not be lawful and so he will restrain himself.
  • Power Crutch: Beginner mages all require something to focus and direct their magic. This object can be anything but it's usually a manner of weapon such as a staff. Once a mage is no longer a beginner, they don't need anything. Basilard, for instance, is a Greater Mage with decades of experience. He can start a camp fire with a snap of his fingers. His students, Eric and Nolien, require their stave and a spell.
  • Power Nullifier: There are runes which are known as "prison runes" because they are used to prevent criminal mages from using their powers to escape.
    • Tahart hides them in Annala's maid uniform to make unable to resist him.
    • When Eric is arrested, a metal collar is snapped on him to prevent him from attacking the officers.
  • Precision F-Strike: When a sweet and polite girl like Annala calls someone "a piece of shit", people take notice. Eric had never heard her swear before then.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: Kasile invokes both parts of this trope as part her princess image; she dresses fashionably and effects a cute-and-proper persona in public while also training in both physical and magical combat with mercenaries.
  • Properly Paranoid: For Kasile, no threat or conspiracy to her throne is too small or silly to ignore. She's positive that there's something brewing in the shadows and she's right but she fingers the wrong person. Her fears are exploited by Duke Selen Esrah in his Evil Plan for the throne. He uses her paranoia to paint the Ceihan Ambassador, and when she jumps into action, accuse her of being manipulated by someone else with designs for the throne.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Stand Stinger Society of Kyraa functions this way. They are the chiefdom's warrior caste and so they are charged with maintaining order. They enforce the decisions of the elders, patrol the desert for monsters and invaders, and fight in ritualized duels. Tiza becomes an honorary member by winning one such duel.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • Mia notes that Basilard's team is unusual in this regard. Its novices are a wimpy otherworlder, a posh runaway and an amnesiac street urchin.
    • The narration has this to say of the only group in position to stop the Big Bad's Evil Plan:
    The new party left the repository to confront the evil mastermind: a disowned princess, a noble with more loyalty than sense, and a two thousand-year-old mage in a teenage body.
  • Red Mage: Basilard is skilled in many forms of magic from standard Black Magic to White Magic to his clan's unique Blood Magic, but his illusion magic is as bad as a novice mage. He's about twenty years older than his students, so he's had time to study, and it's all basically Rule Magic anyways.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Revas (short tempered, agressive, red fur) and Oito (calm, patient, and blue scales).
  • Regenerating Mana: Mana charges by simple breathing, eating and drinking. It takes a while to get back to a full charge with this method.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Kasile is well known for her social activism. She also has an eye out for threats to her family and crown.
  • Rock Monster: Eric and Culmus have to fight several monsters of this variety in The Path of the Rat. They are rocks animated by the mana in the sewer and held together by creepers.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter:One of Eric's clients is an orc who thinks humans are fragile things and he supposes that the humans of Eric's homeworld must be even more so. Eric argues against this by saying they have many brutal, full contact, sports. The only one he mentions is Rugby.
  • Saintly Church: The Priesthood of Zaticana spend their time volunteering as translators, starting summer reading programs and running the public library.
  • Savage Wolves: Xethras resemble wolves and hunt in packs. They're dangerous enough for Basilard to put down his dirty book and get serious.
  • Secret Test: Team Four is told that their first mission is to determine what snacks their respective captains like in time for their Captain's Meeting. This involves going to each lounge and meeting every person in each Squad. Nolien works out that this is not a mission at all, but more of an orientation; the true purpose was to familarize themselves with the guild and the people that compose it. It's implied that this is why Nolien becomes the team's corporal.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: This is part of working culture of the Dragon's Lair mercenary company. Everyone has a metaphorical "lair" and they keep what is most precious to them inside it. This can range from their Love Interest to a #1 Dime to a personal code of behavior or just their own life. As Basilard explains to Eric, "the person who will do absolutely anything for money does not exist".
  • Security Cling: After nearly being raped, Annala clings to Eric's arm because she's rattled and in need of comfort.
  • Showing Up Chauvinists: Tiza thinks she has something to prove because she's in a mercenary guild. To this end she makes everything into a competition and doesn't like Nolien taking a leadership role among the three novices. This confuses her teammates because they don't think she has to prove anything. Two of the five guild captains are female, the other three captains have female lieutenants and the overall guildhead is female as well.
  • Shrinking Violet: Eric is a quiet and timid soul. He moves through an office without anyone noticing him and has difficulty making friends even when they share interests.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Tasio's plan to develop Eric's confidence is to drop him on a monster infested foreign world and then abandon him. After the reveal, he tells Eric that he was watching over him every step of the way, first as Aio and then in other guises. If he thought Eric couldn't handle a certain danger, he would have pulled the boy out of it.
  • Slave Collar: Tahart hides one of these in the ruffled maid collar he gives to Annala as a uniform. She's unaware that it places her under any more control than implied by a summer job. At a command it can choke her into submission.
  • Snobs Vs Slobs: There is enmity between the Dragon's Lair and Roalt Castle along these lines; mecenaries care little for social mores or polite behavior while the coutrier's revolve around them.
  • Speak of the Devil: No one wants to refer to Tasio by his name, because that would attract his attention. The speaker and everyone around him could be subjected to anything from a petty prank to a terrifying catastrophe. This is why Tasio has so many nicknames, with "The Trickster" being most common amoung them. Eric is yelled at several times for violating this taboo.
  • Spell Book: Since the most common form of magic is acquired through study and practice, there are a lot of these.
    • Eric receives two of these: The Spirit and Its Power for general spirit powers and Introduction to Magecraft, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • Basilard carries around Advanced Magecraft.
    • Nolien has one for his White Magic; it's a medical textbook.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Siron Esrah and Culmus Stratos are rivals, both as proxies for their families and personally over the love of Princess Kasile. It is so intense that they are not allowed to joust each other. Then, at the conclusion of a Rescue Arc, Siron abruptly draws his sword on Culmus. It was to attack a monster that spawned behind him.
  • Starter Villain: The Cecri the main novices fight on their first mission is their first challenge as a team. On the monster ranking scale, these are C class monsters. The novices are clumsy, sloppy and come close to death. Basilard uses it as a learning experience to demonstrate what skills they need to develop to survive real battles. By the middle of the book, the novices are killing C+ class monsters by themselves.
  • Suddenly Sober: Culmus has gotten raging drunk and done many comical things in a pub. Then Eric says that he needs him for something serious and so Culmus stops drinking and leaps into action, but he's still drunk. So Eric has to support and guide him to their guild for a Hideous Hangover Cure and even then it takes several hours before Culmus is truly ready for action.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: The Black Cloaks criminal gang tries to kidnap Princess Kasile but twice fail in their attempts to do. At that point, their leader realizes that he'll have to do it himself because his underlings are useless.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Dengel Tymh is a name known all over the world. This is because the world runs on magitek and he is the one who who codified magic as a practical science instead of a mystical art. His Introduction to Magecraft has been a best seller for over a thousand years.
  • Summon Everyman Hero: Eric was not summoned to the magical world of Tariatla to be a hero. Tasio regularly pulls people from other worlds and drops them there because it amuses him. Eric becomes a novice battle mage for a mercenary company during peace time.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Eric spends the first half of the story following Basilard, his superior in the mecernary guild, on missions. Then he becomes Kasile's sidekick in her court/political shenanigans. The story follows him the whole time but only on two occasions does he set the agenda.
  • There's No Kill Like Overkill: When fighting giant scorpions known as "boack" Tiza isn't satisfied until she had dismembered her's. She cuts off the claws, slices its tail clean off, and impales its head.
  • The Team: Dragon's Lair mercenary teams are composed of four members: A tank fighter to draw attention, a battle mage for artilery support, a healer for buffs and health, and a Magic Knight as a back up for all roles.
  • Those Two Guys: Revas and Otio are two of Eric's school friends; minor characters who are never seen apart and provide comedy.
  • Tomboy: Tiza has crude manners, loves fighting, and detests domestic jobs. She can't stand being called a lady. Eric believes she's invoking this trope because it's so exaggerated.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Tiza likes wearing jewelry, so long as it was made from a monster that she killed herself.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Compare Eric at the start, where he freezes in front of monsters, to Eric at midbook, where he kills one by himself. This is all before he's tutored by Dengel, which accelerates his magical education.
  • Tournament Arc: A brief example is the New Scepter Competition. It's opened and closed in a couple chapters. It has the traditional "characters fighting each other" aspect in addition to other forms of compeition, like magical thread weaving and flashy magician stuff.
  • Trickster God: Tasio the Trickster flies in and out of mortal life, bring hope or despair as he fanices. On an average day, he's just a pest.
  • Trickster Mentor: Tasio's goal is to help Eric learn confidence and preservence. His methods involve deception, cunning, and many dangerous situations.
  • Treacherous Advisor: For a good chunk of the story, Eric is a Heroic Host for the spirit of Dengel. He relies on the dead mage's advice and knowledge of magic to get out of scraps and accomplish goals. Then he finds out that Dengel is only bidding his time until he can take over Eric's body.
  • Valley Girl: Parodied by Mia when Tiza calls her a "smiling pink haired ditz". She affects the accent while threatening to give Tiza a mission that she knows Tiza will hate. Tiza immediately recants.
  • The Watson: Eric starts off as this trope, asking questions to inform the reader because he's new to the world of Tariatla. Then he spends nine days in a library and doesn't have to after that. At that point, he will recall stuff he'd learned at times where he would otherwise ask.
  • White Magic: There is a division of magecraft that serves the purpose of healing magic. It heals injuries, cures disease, and grants greater power to others. The arcane variety is no different in source or cost from any other kind of magic (personal mana) and used by doctors. The divine variety is drawn from the Goddess of Life and used exclusively by her clergy.
  • Wizarding School: The Royal Academy of Magical Study is like a prep school for mages. It's filled with the children of nobles and rich commoners learning magical theory, history, application, etc. Both the students and the teachers look down their noses at "trade schools" like the Dragon's Lair which only teach strictly practical magic.
  • Words Do Not Make The Magic: Spells are nothing more than a Power Crutch. They help with focus but are ultimately unnecessary. What you really need for magic is to understand the magical theory behind the spells. Novices like Eric need them but experts like Basilard and Dengel do not.
    • Eric finds this out the hard way when his improvised spell does nothing more than attract a monster's attention.
    • Dengel would like you to know that he can't simply tell you a teleportation spell because learning the mechanics behind the spell is a heavy endeavor.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Eric reaches this trope after a girl tries to electricute him.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Despite working with (and for) Action Girls, Eric has trouble attacking one during the New Scepter Competition's tournament. He overcomes this inhibition when she throws a lightning spell at him.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tasio says this about Aio, his alter ego. Since Eric has gained many other friends, he has played his role in Eric's development.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Basilard pulls this in the Yacian Caverns in order to enable his students and client to escape a pack of Xethras.

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