HP: A Magical Journey - Chapter 8

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After three months of slaving away at detecting mental attacks, Quinn was finally ready to move onto the next stage. But, Quinn had to admit that the previous three months, even though tough, were extremely productive. His detection layer had gone from being a flimsy film to a potent screen that wouldn't let a legilimency attack go unnoticed.
Quinn felt excited as he was finally going to learn the next step. Just like for the past three months, Quinn arrived at the designated room and found Alan sitting in his wing chair. Alan could tell from Quinn's smile that he was excited about moving on to the next step.
Alan waited for Quinn to sit down on his stool before beginning. "Mr. West, you look excited. What is the occasion?"
If it had been any other day, Quinn would have glared at Alan for messing around, but today he was just too happy and excited to quarrel with Alan and laughed. "We are going to learn the next step. You said so in the last lesson."
Alan could understand Quinn's elation as he had been in contact with Quinn's emotion while improving Quinn's detection layer. While Quinn had been working diligently at improving his detection layer, he didn't find it enjoyable. He was fine the first month, he tolerated it in the second month, but in the third month, Alan could feel Quinn's boredom while working at new variations of mental attacks.
"Ah yes, the next step. So, Mr. West, can you tell me what is the next step?"
Quinn placed a book on the table and answered, "According to this book, the next step is building occlumency shields or simply mental shields."
The book in question was a book on Occlumency written by Alan. He titled it 'An Occlumens' Treasure Trove, Vol. 1.' Quinn was skeptical reading the title, but he knew better to judge a book by its cover, and he was right, as the contents of the book justified the gaudy title. Quinn hadn't completed reading the guide, but what he had read was insightful.
The book was one of the reasons that Quinn could complete twenty-four methods in twenty-four lessons. The book was filled with theory, tips, tricks, and experiences. Quinn had read that and applied everything he understood to the practical lessons with Alan.
And while the book was a pleasure to read, at the same time, it was torture as Alan had spelled the book so that he couldn't read ahead. The spell only allowed Quinn to read the content related to the upcoming lesson and not a word ahead of that.
The only thing Quinn knew that volume one of this book had everything Alan would teach him and that there were two more volumes that Alan would give at the end of completion of the occlumency course. And Quinn couldn't buy this book in the market as it wasn't publicly available.
"I am happy that you are reading ahead. And, you are correct. The next step is building a shield for your mind. You have a detection layer which is excellent as it will alert you to the presence of the legilimens' attack. But nothing is keeping the attacker from entering your mind, as even if you know that there is an attack, you might not be able to stop the attacker in time.
You need a shield that would block the legilimens out of your mind. Even if your shields are not strong enough to keep the legilimens out indefinitely, it is still useful as it would give you enough time to counter-attack the attacker before they could break the shield and enter your mind."
Alan finished with the benefits and uses of an occlumency shield, to which Quinn asked a question, "Is it possible to create a shield that would be impenetrable to legilimency attacks."
Alan put his elbows on the table and rested his chin on his palm, "Mr. West, understand nothing is perfect. There will always be some way to break an occlumency shield. If a method is not found today, then it would be found in the future.
I have a philosophy that has served me well throughout the world. I resent perfection; attaining perfection means that there is no room to improve, that you have stopped growing and have reached a plateau in your development. Perfection stops you from exploring new ideas and hinders progress.
That is why focusing on progress is the key. It motivates you to keep going and encourages a mindset of learning. When you make progress, it gives you a reason to celebrate and help you gain satisfaction from your work.
Perfectionism isn't sustainable because life is ever-changing. There will always be new trials and tribulations that will sway you from your target. You need to be nimble and flexible to manage all the challenges life hands you. By focusing on progress, you can easily overcome obstacles because you know there will be ups and downs. Know you don't have to be perfect. Know that the path to success isn't a straight line. This knowing keeps you on the path to success."
Alan's words mesmerized Quinn. He didn't understand the meaning behind Alan's words, but they sounded inspiring, and maybe someday he would understand them, but for now, he would just remember these words.
Alan cleared his throat, "Ahem, we got off-topic. Let's return to the topic on-hand."
Quinn shook his head, "No, that was inspirational, but yes, let's return to shields."
Alan nodded and continued, "Building a shield is a simple yet arduous process. Unlike the detection layer, where you had to complete building the layer in one fell swoop, we build the shield bit by bit.
You need to cover the bottom side of your detection layer with a shield. How you want to build that shield is up to you. You can build the shield, like building a wall with layering bricks next to each other, or you can paint the inside of your detection layer until shield layers pile up and result in a thick shield.
There is no fixed way of building a shield, and you have to see what suits you. In the book, I have mentioned many methods that you can use to build your shield, but you are free to think of a way of your own, and we can discuss it.
For now, let's discuss how the process works..."
- (Scene Break) -
After that lesson, Quinn opened Alan's book on Occlumency and found that the section with shield construction was now readable, so he began reading the given examples. After reading through them, he didn't find a method that appealed to him.
Thus began the find for a shield that would make Quinn believe it was strong and reliable. Alan had explained to Quinn that he needed his construction method to be strong, as the intent was important for the shield's success.
So, after a few days of thinking, Quinn came with a method that he thought was best for him, and in the next lesson, Quinn relayed his thoughts to Alan via a drawing of his shield structure.
Alan looked at the drawing asked, "Mr. West, why do you think this structure is best for you. I will be honest; my first impression of this structure is not positive."
On the sheet of paper was a honeycomb structure. Hexagons lined next to each other, one hexagon covered by six other hexagons.
Quinn nodded and explained, "I took inspiration from the beehive. I know the structure that this structure is strong and very efficient to build."
Alan sighed and argued, "Mr. West, you might be true, but you are building a shield. Each of these hexagons is a hole through which a legilimens could drive his attack through."
Quinn put out his counter-argument, "Who said that I am only building a single layer of this structure. I am going to build layers upon layers of this so that there is no gap left. I will connect each hexagon to six hexagons by the sides but also connect the layers to each other."
He looked at Alan and said, "And, Mr. Baddeley..."
Quinn smiled and declared, "I believe that this method is strong."
Alan's eyes widened, and he ended up smiling, "If this is what you want, then we will proceed with this structure."
The reason Quinn wanted to proceed with layered hexagon layers was not that bees used it in beehives. But, because it was the structure of the strongest material known to man, Graphene. He wanted to emulate Graphene's structure and make an excellent base for his defenses.
Quinn did not know why Graphene was the toughest material and didn't understand the science behind it. He only knew that it was made of hexagons, so he chose multiple graphene layers as his shield.
Quinn felt that he didn't need to understand the science behind Graphene's strength and only needed to believe that it was strong, and Quinn did believe that Graphene was strong, so he believed his shield would be effective.
After finalizing the structure of Quinn's shield, Alan began explaining the process, "Mr. West, you will start by focusing on your detection layer, then you will build a hexagon underneath the detection layer. Finally, you will build hexagons and interlock them with each other.
One hexagon at a time, you will build the first level of your shield. Next, you will repeat this entire process again and construct another layer, which you will lie on the first layer and connect the two layers."
Alan continued to explain the finer details of the process, and after he was finished, Quinn asked, "How many layers do I have to build?"
Alan showed three fingers and said, "You have three months to complete your shield. It will be up to your hard work and understanding how many you can build."
Alan sat straight, "Just like the detection layer, I will attack you with controlled legilimency, but it will be only on specific parts of your mind. This method is my own creation; combining targeted legilimency and your completed detection layer would help you focus on those specific parts of your mind.
I will stimulate specific parts of your detection layers, which will help you focus on those parts, and you will build hexagons on the targeted parts."
Quinn nodded, and they began the process. When Alan used Legilimency on Quinn, Quinn felt quite different, unlike the last three months, where the sensation of heaviness covered his entire head, but this time only a small part of his head felt the heaviness.
Quinn didn't start the construction process and asked, "How are you doing this?"
Alan spoke as they maintained eye contact, "Mr. West, my legilimency skills are much greater than your occlumency skills. I can deceive your detection layer to make it think that only specific parts of your mind are being targeted.
This method only works when there is an enormous gap between the legilimens and occlumency. If the legilmens and occlumens are closely matched in capabilities, then the legilimens won't be able to deceive the occlumens' defenses.
Even if you have built a detection layer, I can bypass it without triggering any response. It will be years before you can keep me out of your mind."
Quinn sighed at the implied meaning. He knew that if he kept on working on his occlumency skills, and then by the time Quinn was ready to join a magical school, he would be capable enough to protect himself.
But, Quinn had a hunch that even by the time he was ready to join a magical school, it would be exceedingly difficult to keep someone like Alan out of his mind. Alan was a mind art specialist, and that a century of experience would be difficult to catch up in a few years.
Quinn began building his first hexagon, and just as Alan had said, creating shield hexagons was easy, but he knew that he had a long way to go as one layer of hexagons comprised of ten thousand hexagons interlocked with each other.
So, a lengthy process of creating countless numbers of hexagons began. In ten weeks, Quinn constructed ten layers of hexagons. And in the remaining two weeks of the agreed three months, Quinn went through every single hexagon and made sure that they connected every neighboring hexagon. Every layer also needed to be connected to the neighboring layers in an offset manner.
- (Scene Break) -
Quinn groaned as he banged his head once on the table. The past three months were yet another kind of struggle as Quinn had become numb while building one hundred thousand hexagons over three months.
He looked at Alan and asked, "Are we done? I don't think I can keep this up anymore. I would be happy to continue building more of my shield, but can we do it after some time? I am really sick of building hexagons every day."
While Quinn's production was the best when Alan was using legilimency on him, Quinn had taken upon himself to build hexagon shield-units outside of the lessons. He dedicated a couple of hours every day to his occlumency shield, and three months of this was Quinn's limit.
He hadn't said a peep to Alan in these three months, and even though Alan could feel the complaint through Quinn's emotions, but hadn't heard a single word of complaint from Quinn's mouths. But, after completing and connecting ten layers for his shield, Quinn begged for a change.
Alan smiled and gave Quinn the joyous news, "Mr. West, I had set the target time for your shield as three months, and in the last lesson, those three months were over, and I am happy to inform you that you have created a respectable shield, so we would be moving on to the next step."
Alan wasn't expecting Quinn to build ten layers. He knew Quinn was talented, but talent wasn't everything, and talent needed hard work to show extraordinary results. He thought Quinn would begin slacking off, and that thought was reinforced because he was in contact with Quinn's emotion in every lesson, so it was no secret that Quinn wasn't particularly thrilled doing the mind-numbing task.
But, Alan was wrong. Even though Quinn wasn't thrilled about the task, he nevertheless did the task without slacking off. The result showed work put in as Quinn had constructed and connected one-hundred thousand hexagons.
"The next and the final step to your defenses the last line of defense.", Alan said, revealing that they had reached the third and final part of an occlumency defense.
Quinn tilted his head and said, "The final step?"
Alan nodded and explained, "Let's imagine that a legilimens attack you; he or she passes through your detection layer, detected or undetected. Then they break through your shield by either breaking it or bypassing it without you knowing.
Now, what? We are at the mercy of the legilimens, so we will build a last line of defense. Something that will at least delay the attacker from accessing your mind."
Alan pointed to himself and continued, "For example, I am a legilimens, and when a legilimens attack you, they create a connection between mind, and I can use that connection to stop them by deploying a counter-attack."
"So, what will be my last line of defense," Quinn asked with excitement laced in his voice.
A smile appeared on Alan, which didn't bode well with Quinn, "Because I only trained you in the defense part of occlumency, your last line of defense would be another detection layer and a thinner shield."
Quinn was sure that he heard his mind broke, as he, for the first time since the start of the occlumency lessons, refused, "No, just no. I don't want to repeat that. Please, give me some alternate. I want to learn something else. You said that you can use legilimency as the last line of defense, teach me that."
Alan shrugged and replied, "Mr. West, I was hired to teach you how to defend your mind against legilimency. I am not contractually obligated to teach you anything else."
Quinn bit his lower lip and began tapping the table with his finger, and a few moments later, he spoke, "What if I ask my grandfather to alter your contract. Would you teach me then?"
Alan went silent and began thinking. This wasn't the first time a client had asked to extend or alter the service period. Usually, he would consider the pay and the student before extending his services, but never in his teaching career had he extended a service that came with a magical contract.
Magicals didn't like magical contracts binding them, and Alan wasn't any different. He only signed magical teaching contracts if the requirements weren't too severe and the pay was worth it.
Alan glanced at Quinn and thought about his latest student and the progress he had shown. People with natural talents were rare; he could count natural legilimens on his fingers. A magical like himself who was a natural at both legilimency and occlumency was once in a generation talent.
But, never had he seen a child who could learn this fast despite not being natural. Alan contemplated his options, and after thinking for a few minutes, Alan came to a decision.
He looked at Quinn and declared, "I would like to talk to your grandfather. Please, confirm if he is free to meet me right now."
Quinn's eyes shined as he wasted no time; he jumped off his stole and ran out of the room. It was ten minutes before Quinn returned to the room with a slight smile on his face, "Grandfather would like to see you know."
Alan nodded and stood up, ready to meet his client and see the future of his employment.
- (Scene Break) -
Quinn paced outside his grandfather's study. He didn't know what they were talking about as he wasn't allowed inside, so he could only restlessly pace outside the study, waiting for the two adults to come to a conclusion.
Quinn had to wait for half an hour before he was asked to come inside the study. He entered the study quickly and saw them sitting in their respective chairs, waiting for him.
He quietly sat on the empty chair before his grandfather asked, "Quinn, Mr. Baddeley, and I have come to a decision."
Quinn gulped as he waited for his grandfather to continue. George stared at Quinn as he asked, "We have decided to extend Mr. Baddeley's contract, and he would be teaching you another aspect of occlumency."
Quinn stayed silent, he was calm on the outside, but inside he was burning with curiosity and excitement.
Alan turned to face Quinn and asked, "Mr. West, do you remember the basic aspects of occlumency?"
Quinn immediately responded with the answer, "There are three basic aspects of occlumency; defense, emotion, and efficiency. I am currently learning the aspect of defense."
Alan nodded and said, "As you heard, your grandfather and I have come to a decision that I would be teaching you another aspect of occlumency, but the choice of said aspect is yours, so tell us which aspect would you like to learn?"
Not a second had passed before Quinn blurted out his answer, "I would like to learn the aspect of efficiency."
George and Alan watched Quinn, but they didn't ask him why, instead George put out some conditions.
"Quinn, if you want to learn another aspect, you would have to complete your defense aspect training. I heard you refused to work on it today, so if you want to start learning another aspect, you need to complete the current task."
Quinn fought the urge to groan and resigned himself to the conditions, "I understand."
That day it was decided that Quinn would learn another aspect of occlumency.
Quinn West - MC - Eight years old - Wants to learn something new.
Alan Baddeley - Teacher - Extended his contract before free agency.
George West - Grandfather - Has loads of money.
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