International Comic/Manga School Contest 2022 Storyboard Category Storyboard Text 1 (Courtesy of pixiv)

Theme: Journey

◆ Characters, personalities, and relationships

  • Mage
    An immortal mage. In return for their immortality, all the blood, tears, and any other fluids drained from their body are turned into gems. Fearing that others will use the gems for nefarious purposes, they can no longer trust even their family, and spend the next 150 years on high alert, barely interacting with others. Devoted to researching magic to find a way to eliminate this costly source of loneliness, fear, and ugly greed, but the mage has made no progress and is fed up with this unchanging life.
  • Boy
    A boy who has escaped being sold to a foreign country by his parents and is now wandering all alone. After noticing the mage frequenting a jeweler with gems, he sneaks into the mage's residence to try and steal some.

◆ Setting

In this world, you can become a magic user by paying a price. This price depends on the month of your birth, and includes a part of your body that turns into a beast, fire or ice, or causes harm to the people around you. It is not uncommon for magic users to face prejudice and discrimination. In particular, mages who create jewels from their bodies are often kidnapped and used for evil purposes, and few of them become mages for the same price as the main character.

◆ Scenario

One day, I was dozing off. I can't remember the dream I was having. I think I was dreaming about my childhood.
Suddenly, I felt a presence around my house. I immediately activated more than a dozen spells and appeared in front of the intruder to see if I could get rid of him or kill him.
"Who are you? What do you want?"
Upon hearing my question, the intruder was startled and turned around. He was still a young boy with a small knife and a burlap sack in his hand.
--Oh, not again.
I felt a sense of bleakness. Even this boy was planning to hurt me to get gems. This made me feel so sad, so hateful, and so angry.
But then the boy said something I hadn't expected.
"Yo- you've got food! I always see you buying a lot of food at the market place."
"Ugh... Hand it over!"
The boy held a small knife in both hands and pointed the blade at me. I let out a sigh and moved a fingertip to melt his knife.
"Oww! Wha-, what's happening?"
I pressed my index finger against the neck of the boy who unconsciously dropped his knife. Then, in a low voice, I threatened him.

"I don't care what happens to you, but now that you've come this far, I see no reason to let you live. If you resent me, resent your shortcomings instead."
My fingertips dug into the boy's taut skin. The boy cried and apologized.
"I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry! It’s all my fault!"
This caught me off guard and eased my index finger off of the boy's skin. The boy slumped down, sobbing and hiccupping.
Now, what do I do?
I cannot leave the boy alone so, for now, I said this:
"Come on inside. I'll at least give you some food."
At my beckoning, the boy stumbled to his feet and followed me, still hiccuping.
My first visitor in a hundred and fifty years was sitting on the sofa in the living room, waiting for me to bring him his meal. I offered him some bread and vegetable soup, which he happily accepted and began to eat.
I asked the boy why he had turned to thievery. With tears slowly welling up in his eyes, the boy answered.
"I was sold off by my parents but I ran away just before they could take me overseas to a faraway land. I was scavenging in the marketplace, but recently there's no food at all, so I was desperate."
The disheartened boy hadn't lied. I had secretly cast a spell to detect lies, but there was no reaction to his words.
"I always see you come out of the jeweler's place and buy food, so I followed you and found this place."
"Did it ever occur to you that it might come back to bite you?"
"Yeah, but, I haven't eaten in days."
If he had no choice but to rob me then he must not know anything about me being a mage nor the cost associated with it. I grew slightly more interested in the boy.
I posed this question to the boy.
"I study magic here, but I'm a little burned out. I'm thinking of taking leave on a year-long journey. If you are willing to accompany me, I can provide you with food and clothing.
What do you say?"

For a year, me and the boy traveled across deserts, frozen lands, oceans, and mountains.
I met with many mages from all over the world.
The other mages were very intrigued that I was accompanied by a boy who was not a magician. The boy, on the other hand, was happy to be surrounded by so much magic.
Because of this, my discussions with the mages proved quite fruitful.
I taught the boy how mages of the world use magic for a price. The boy remarked:
"What price did you have to pay to become a mage?"
I showed him a jewel and told him that my blood and tears had paid for the jewel to be born.
The boy stared at the jewel intently and expressed his admiration.
"That's great! It's not a price, it's a gift. It's called a gift. It's power that god gave you.
I couldn't argue with the boy's innocent words.
Can I really call it a gift? I paid the price. For one hundred and fifty years I suffered.
But the boy, as if to blow away my thoughts, praised my "gift" with an innocent smile. To him, my price was a boon, and I could say nothing to contradict this.
I began to wonder if I had made a mistake in hoping to lose the price I pay for this magic.
I asked the boy.
"So, you think it's a mistake that I want to be rid of the price I paid for magic?"
The boy thought for a moment, and then said:

"I don't know about you, but your power to create gems is beautiful. I think it would be sad to lose that power."
The boy was entranced by what he saw before him. It would have been easy to dismiss his opinions out of hand.
However, I was unable to do so.

When I returned home after our year-long journey, I gathered all my research on ridding myself of the price I paid for magic into a small box.
The spacious house was now completely empty. The boy who had helped was not aware of his impact on me.
One day in the future, a mage who hates the cost of magic as much as I do will inherit this small box.
I decided to continue traveling with the boy to worlds unseen.
I believe that the day will come when I will be able to say that the cost of magic is indeed a gift.

(Source: "The Jewel and the Mage," winner of the Magic Master Award in the Novel Division of the pixiv SUKI1 October project "Magic Contracts and Their Compensation"/Tohro Hokoma)