The Power of Formations - Chapter 28 - Advanced Formation
The first week of the year passed, and the weather turned warmer, as if signifying a new beginning.
For Emmet, life continued as normal, his schedule relatively unchanged. His job proceeded as usual, and other than that, he continued to spend virtually all of his time at the library, reading and studying. While during the past semester, he had mainly focused on diversifying his exposure and reading on all the different basic level topics, he now began to move on to some intermediate level topics. The more concepts he was exposed to and became familiar with, the more his confidence rose.
Over the course of the week, Emmet helped Maisy put up flyers for her debugging depot all over campus and register her company in all of the job listings. On each flyer and listing was a place and time for a trial for new recruits, a gathering happening at the end of the week. It was at this meeting the previous year that Emmet had first arrived at the company, so he couldn’t help but become excited.
On the day of the interest trial meeting, Emmet walked in and was shocked to see that this time, there were nearly two hundred students, nearly all first years, crowded in the room and sitting in wait. Witnessing such a dense crowd, Emmet was shocked. This many people had came? How come the job suddenly became so popular?
However, he quickly realized the answer. Maisy had recently become famous, rising up like a bright crescent sun within the formations world. Given the opportunity, many students pounced to work for such an amazing groundbreaking figure, coming in droves to apply. This conjecture was proven by many of the students’ respectful gazes toward her during her orientation statements.
This orientation, instead of Janine, Emmet became the employee who stood next to Maisy during her speech and brought out the trial formations. Doing so, he couldn’t help but feel prideful – standing there, he couldn’t help but feel like he was a integral member of the company! This time, since there weren’t enough buggy array formations to assign each new potential recruit to a single formation, Maisy assigned groups of four and gave each group one. Thus, there were many more successful debuggings during this trial, as people in the groups were able to work together to solve the problems collectively.
The next day, nearly fifty of the recruits came back to the company to officially start work. In one day, although several of the veteran employees sadly had to leave campus due to not making their grades’ cuts, the workbase increased by nearly three times, forcing Maisy to open up a whole other part of the building to make space. From then on, the company became much more lively.
However, apart from having a few basic skills, many of the new employees were largely clueless on what they were doing. Thus, many of them would ask upperclassmen for help, and soon enough, a portion of them would come to Emmet to ask question and seek assistance. It seemed that they had heard of his reputation as a ‘mad man’ and respected his credentials, and it also helped that he appeared humble and down to earth, and was easy to approach. Emmet was happy to help, giving numerous tips on the appropriate steps to solve their problems. At this point, he could be considered pretty experienced, and had a very strong understanding of all the basic level formations.
Time quickly passed, and Emmet’s schedule turned into a concrete routine. Work, sleep, study, study, study, attend lecture, study, study, work, sleep…
At his debugging job, things only became busier and busier. Even though there were now many more employees, and everyone became more efficient at debugging (especially Emmet, who would rip through many of the basic level formations so quickly it left people speechless), the piles of debugging assignments to complete didn’t decrease. Rather, they increased, and every work day, everyone always had work to do.
This phenomenon could be attributed to Maisy’s fame. Because of her newfound widespread name-recognition, many more students began to utilize her service (instead of sending their faulty formations to other places). Because of this, the Maisy Debugging Depot not only kept its position as the #1 on-campus debugging service, but soon began to swallow up a large portion of all other competitors’ clientele, monopolizing the business and becoming an oppressive and dominating presence not just on campus, but even within the nearby sector of the city as a whole. Soon enough, the number of faulty formations that came into the service had multiplied, causing the entire building to become constantly busy in a flurry of activity.
As the weeks passed, many of the new employees became friendly with Emmet, largely due to his approachability and ability to explain concepts simply and concisely. It seemed his advice was helpful, because he had soon earned a reputation as a helpful mentor to the new recruits. Thanks to Emmet’s help and guidance, a lot of them finally seemed to be getting the hang of debugging the basic formations, and because Emmet was so willing to help them, more and more of the recruits would come to him for assistance, not only with their debuggings, but also about their schoolwork. Soon enough, a small crowd would form around him every break.
Emmet didn’t mind this extra burden at all. He had constantly been receiving help from others in the company in the past year, so he felt glad that he could now pay it forward and help other people get their footing.
Time passed quickly.
One day in the first week of the second month of the semester, after numerous easy debuggings and deep dives into new textbooks, Emmet glanced toward the three piles of buggy formations stacked up in the center of the room. His eyes wandered over toward the smaller pile to the right, and his eyes suddenly sparkled, his motivation beginning to spike.
After quickly finishing off a middle pile formation he had been debugging, testing it and confirming that it was properly fixed, he walked over toward the piles of buggy formations and ominously stood there for a while. Eventually, he reached over to the pile to the right and chose a small intricate-looking one, bringing it back to his desk.
“It’s time.” Finally, he felt like he was ready to tackle a formation from the pile to the right!
“Phew…” He sat down and took a deep breath. The formation was multicolored and smaller than some others, but that didn’t mean it was any less complicated. If he could debug this formation, then that meant that nothing was off-limits! He could truly soar up within the company and become an advanced debugger!
After steadying himself, he screwed off the cover of the formation and tensely peered in. Sure enough, an incredibly dense, maze-like labyrinth of microcircuitry and structures once again appeared before him. However, this time, he took a moment to take a deep breath, and found he wasn’t as intimidated. Over these past six months, he had really gained a lot, and felt like if he worked at it, he could probably recognize many more of the structures.
Without further ado, he got to work.
It was a whole week later when Emmet finally looked up and let out a relieved sigh. He had finally finished. Fours hours a day for seven whole days (Emmet would regularly go overtime for no salary) – in total, this formation took about 28 hours to debug. And it wasn’t even that big of a bug – on a macro scale, it actually was rather simple, but because of its complexity and scale, it had forced Emmet to spend hours and hours just figuring out the workings of the thing. After pinpointing some of the microcircuit structures within the formation, piecing them together one by one, he was finally able to match them together, and then from there, it got much easier, as the macro structure resembled a debugging of a more complicated medium pile formation. In general, there were so many more moving parts, so it was much more intricate and confusing.
However, he was glad he had done it. It had been a while since he had been challenged by a debugging, and he enjoyed the feeling. He could feel his understanding growing as he worked through the kinks, and it was undeniably satisfying when all the puzzle pieces fit together at the end.
Now, it was time to test it. Emmet nervously placed his hand on the mana introduction socket, took a deep breath, and sent his mana in! – at this point, he had a slightly larger pool from the beginning of last semester (about 30% more from his initial awakening amount), but it was still an extremely pitiful amount compared to everyone else around him, even to the other squires. Just testing this advanced formation sucked in nearly the entirety of his mana pool!
Voom! Voom! Voom!
Three clear layered warding circles appeared one by one around the formation, each about five feet in circumference. They pulsated rhythmically, creating a dim humming sound. Although he could look out through them perfectly clearly, Emmet could faintly feel the repulsive power even from inside the circles.
Although it seemed simple, this was actually an extremely advanced technique. Although building a one-layered warding formation was relatively straightforward, building a multi-layered ward, in which two or more wards were layered over each other in the same space (which exponentially increased the power), was exponentially harder. It wasn’t so simple as just building another ward within a ward. If done in this simplistic manner, the two fields would conflict with each other, causing both to falter and break. The only way to get it to work properly was to use a complicated series of microcircuital logic, called advanced multilayered Qatinian recursion, to sort it out. It used a ton of additional circuitry to link the gap, altering the very nature of the force to make sure they worked together, and required much more resources and mana, but also gave a proportionally much higher degree of repulsion and defense.
The more layers of wards within each other, the more powerful a warding formation would be, but also the more exponentially complicated, slow to respond, and resource-intensive it was. That’s why it was incredibly rare to see any warding formation with more than five layers. They existed, but only for extremely important situations or for places with incredibly high security. These layers were referred to as levels, so if someone asked for a level three warding formation, they would be asking for a warding formation with three layers of embedded wards.
This topic was covered cursorily in the Intermediate Warding textbook, so Emmet had formed an understanding of how it worked. Apparently, it would be covered in detail in Advanced Warding. Mainly, however, his intuition yet again came from a puzzle in his picture book. This time, it was on page 68, way up ahead in his book. Clearly, it was a more advanced concept.
“Yes!” Emmet looked around and couldn’t help but cheer. He really had done it! Looking over his handiwork, he felt a great sense of accomplishment rise up through him. Doing this had been his goal for a few months at this point. Finally completely his goal was certainly satisfying.
He hurriedly ran off to show Maisy, who was now much more free and willing to talk to Emmet. After seeing the fixed formation, she was at first stunned for a moment, and then formed a happy expression and praised Emmet repeatedly. From then on, she ordered Emmet to tackle another formation from the pile to the right at least once every one or two weeks until he became even better and faster.
As for Maisy, during this period, her life was once again carefree. Every day, she would be working on something different, a unique new construction in her workspace every week. Emmet was once again wowed by the diversity and scale of the plethora of constructions. Clearly, she was enjoying life.