Inconspicuous is a word that describes Grime well. All the mages that we met before and after him stood out from the crowd in one way or another. Whether it was us or them who was the first to arrive at the agreed meeting place, it was always clear which of those present or coming was the great mage. In Grime’s case, however, it took a while before we realised that the man who suddenly and discreetly slipped out of the crowd to appear in front of us (at exactly the right second, we must add) was the one we’d been waiting for. A man with a blatant disregard for his appearance and a look that says that he’s been watching this world for a very long time.

You are the master of battle magic that the game calls maneuvers. But what exactly are maneuvers?

Grime: The difference between your regular warrior and a mage who’s mastered battle magic is a bit like the difference between a sandcastle built on the beach with a bucket and a stone fortress with battlements and turrets. Any fool can pick up a hammer or, say, a sword and swing it in the air, and if they’re lucky (or have trained for a long time, it doesn’t matter either way), they are likely to hit someone. A battle mage, on the other hand, can use magic to force the weapon to do things that are against the laws of nature. He can make it dance the polka among his enemies and perform all sorts of tricks. Simply put, a maneuver is when a mage uses magic to control a cold weapon.

You make it sound as if battle mages were a specific type of variety artists.

Grime: Do I? (An enigmatic smile flashes on Grime’s face.) That’s a lovely idea, isn’t it?

Could you perhaps give an example?

Grime: Look, a sword can typically be used only to hit an enemy who’s standing right in front of you. That is, so to speak, the basic philosophy of swordsmanship. But there is a maneuver that sends your sword far ahead of you to cut an enemy there and then return to your hand.

And you can do that with any weapon?

Grime: No. Each type of weapon has a distinct set of possible maneuvers. This example was one of the maneuvers that can be performed with any blade weapon, but, for instance, with spears there is a different maneuver that can extend the weapon (to more than twice its length), hit an enemy that’s two squares away and pull them closer to you (where you can finish them off). Ranged weapons on the other hand can shoot several projectiles at once, and with magic, one arrow can hit more than one enemy even if they’re not standing in a line. Some maneuvers can also be combined to great effect. A shield, which is typically used only for passive defence, can push an enemy back (and hurt them, of course). This means that an enemy facing a battle mage armed with a spear and a shield may suddenly find that they’re dead before they even had a chance to strike.

Everyone would like to be able to fight like that. If this is true, why should anyone bother with all that strenuous training? All the sweat and toil?

Grime: Why indeed? (Smiling.) It may sound tempting, but you mustn’t forget that maneuvers are magic, and sometimes very difficult magic! To perform them, you need magical energy, which is why all weapon types also allow a very basic strike. Sure, this strike is weaker, but it does not consume any energy. And something like that can come in very handy when you need to get out of a scrape with no magical energy left.

I think that we understand maneuvers now. Why don’t you tell us something more about yourself? When are you going to join the company?

Grime: (At this point, we suddenly realised that the interview was over. Grime was gone. Nearby, a man in the crowd was sweeping leaves fallen from trees. And the ship that had brought us here and was supposed to take us back was ringing its bell to announce that it was about to set sail.)

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