Chapter 33 - Double trouble


A note from rykov00

2 more chapters left to write in Book 1! Hopefully this week will let us start the Book 2 planning and possibly up the speed we can do releases. Editing still takes awhile but we've finished up the "Intro to the System" story we wanted to tell. We have a list of feedback on things you'd like to see more of in Book 2, but if there's anything else you want to see let us know soon in comments and reviews!


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Mark watched Liz and Barry catch one of the crazy mice that terrorized the barn. This troubled him. He tried to justify using his stealth abilities to try and make sure that he figured out what she was doing. After all, practicing abilities was important, and dammit she was training another pet. She already had like three awesome pets, why did she need another one?

Mark was totally rocking the stealth and Liz had no idea she was being followed. The triumph was somewhat diminished as Mark observed what happened next. Watching someone meditate wasn't that interesting in any way fashion or form. Liz's focus and dedication was really scary sometimes, and Mark wondered what he should do next. Certainly he shouldn't just sit around and wait for Liz to tame every creature in the neighborhood and create some crazy monster army to do her bidding. Well, that would be cool, and then they could like have an army and do cool things too. But that wasn't the point! Mark needed some new abilities stat.

The only problem was that it was pretty clear the easy mode of drawing energy from mana cores wasn't working anymore. He chatted with a few other people and it seemed to be working for people who had no abilities, but those with existing avenues were having a hard time finding new paths to abilities. Mark had confirmed this first hand. Shoving mana around was way harder now even with cores.

Mark sat and thought. It would be turning dark soon, and he didn't have any ideas yet on what to do. He had cool stuff with chi, but really, the stealth thing seemed like it would be a lot more useful for the school. He wanted to scout the area, but he knew his dad would never let him go. Mark thought about this problem, and about giant birds. He also thought it would be cool if he had a spaceship, because then he could just fly around and zap monsters. That would be really useful. Mark shook his head. That wouldn't solve his problem currently though, since he had no way of magically making a spaceship. Unless...

A few minutes later, Mark admitted that he could not magically summon a spaceship, and returned to thinking about more practical ideas. He sat and started meditating. He could probably use some extra focus power now and the ability really helped clear his head. Entering a state of awareness, he felt around his body and the strange tingly parts where he pictured his mana to be. He pushed out his mana and felt it run through all the areas that he had formed in the past day.

He had already memorized his ability list. It was hard not to when you looked at it constantly. He pulled up his abilities for the umpthteenth time.





Mana Manipulation




- Infused Strike


- Falling Step


- Explosive Charm


- Severing Blade






- Mist Escape


He ran down the inventory of passive and active abilities he had unlocked. Chi was his most versatile skill by far. It let him do all sorts of crazy things but he couldn't really think of a way to use it that would help him with breaking into the school. He already had a good movement ability there but what he really needed was a better way not to be seen or some anti-mind control magic.

Meditation was just sitting there, doing nothing as far as he could tell. He did notice that when he meditated it filled up mana faster and his body felt invigorated. He even had taken some time to compare using the ability versus the skill and he definitely felt like the ability was pulling power from somewhere. The ability helped heal wounds as well as regenerate mana and his body felt stronger afterwards. Cool, but not worth spending time on right now.

Stealth was the obvious choice to try and find a new ability. The mist escape ability he had formed was already pretty awesome, but clearly that alone wasn't enough to convince his dad that he would be fine breaking in. Also, the obvious problem he had was the whole thing with no one being able to see him in order to escape. He figured creative use of an explosive charm would help with some of that but maybe he should make some smoke bombs or something. That would be pretty cool, but it just didn't seem like the solution he needed. Honestly, it would be cool if he could make shadow clones or something. That would let him sneak in then he could make a clone they would chase and then he could escape.

Mark froze for a moment. Why couldn't he make a clone? It seemed crazy, but so did creating magic exploding paper and running mystical energy along the blades of swords. He was pretty sure there were like a hundred different types of clones too. At least, anime told him so. Thinking about the current set of skills he had put together, Mark decided on a path.

He felt around the place that let him generate mist and focused on that area. Rather than slide through the mist as it formed around him, he tried to control the shape and density of the vapor. He pushed more and more mana into it, willing it to take on his shape, and the lump of mist slowly condensed into a Mark shaped outline. Mark raised his fists in celebration and his mist double raised it's fists as well.

"Ok, we're getting there." Mark felt the shape fall away as his concentration wandered. This didn't deter him at all as he quickly started meditating to get his mana back. He flexed the boundaries that contained his magic pool and smiled smugly. His pool was twice the size of Liz's. Not that he would rub it in that much; just a little. After topping off again, Mark flexed his Stealth power again to create the mist and this time it quickly formed into a human shaped lump. Mark sat there a moment pondering what to do next. Running through a few possibilities he decided to borrow a page from Liz's book. He couldn't tame monsters, but maybe he could tame this mist thing.

Mark imagined a tendril like Liz had described, filled with his will. Relatively quickly he felt a spike emerge from his body. Acting on instinct, he filled the spike with his intent, and shoved it into the mass of mist next to him.

Go. Run. Escape.

He felt the spike dissipate as it entered the mist and everything seemed to click together. The mist suddenly sported his face, except it was more a mirror reflection. Hopefully no one would notice the difference on where his hair fell over his eyes. His mist double, now looking fully like Mark, ran away in a somewhat convincing manner, and even dodged over some obstacles before running straight into a tree and disappearing in a puff of mist.

Okay. So it wasn't very smart, but this fricking rocked! Mark was dizzy from the loss of mana but elated at his success.

A few rounds of meditation and clone forming later he was rewarded with a popup.

Core Notification

Ability Gained - Stealth : Mist Clone

"I am going to be able to mess with Liz so much with this." He smiled.


As night fell he still saw a candle burning in the barn. No doubt Liz was doing something new, but he figured it would be a fun morning regardless. He grabbed some candles, waved good night to the camp, headed to his bedroom, and dreamed of a fun tomorrow.

The next morning, Mark woke at dawn excited to test out his new ability. Unfortunately, it was a huge mana draw, and he only could create a single clone, but he figured it would improve over time. For now, it was plenty for his plans. He sent focused and set a clone in front of Liz’s door and knock. “Liz! It’s wakeup time!”

Grumbling could be heard from the door as a tired and annoyed Liz poked her head out.

“Mark. It. Is. Barely. Light. Why.”

The clone opened and closed it’s mouth pretending to talk as Mark spoke from around the corner.

“Hi Liz! You’re a dumb head! I’m going to go walk around your room now,” and with a shove of intent he pushed for the clone to go into the room. Liz, startled and not really awake, didn’t step aside in time and the clone disappeared into a cloud of mist.

“Oh my god Mark. If you use a damn clone to annoy me again I swear I will duct tape you to tree in the yard and use you as an archery target.”

Mark walked over to the door wondering where he went wrong. “How did you know! I just figured out clones last night.”

Liz massaged her temples and barely managed to keep a calm voice.

“First, that was the worst ventriloquism act every. Seriously, did you think I wouldn’t notice that? Also, your hair was grown out on the opposite side. Lastly, the mist is exactly like what your stupid vanishing power is like and it totally fits with that show.”

“How did you know about that show! I thought you didn’t like anime!”

“Mark, I was literally sitting right next to you when you watched it. Half of your stupid abilities come from the things the ninjas did. I actually pay attention to things.”

Oh yeah, Liz did watch that series with him. Huh. “Well it’s still pretty freaking cool!”

The door slammed in Mark’s face. “I guess you’re not going to tell me what you figured out yesterday in the Barn? Liz? Liz?”

Mark heard a growl come from behind the door, and since he knew Moonlight was sleeping outside, he figured maybe it was time to give Liz some space. He’d learn what she figured out later. For now, there was work to do.

“I wonder if mom and dad are up yet.” Mark mused.

“Only one way to find out!” Mark summoned another clone and continued his path of starting the day right.

A note from rykov00

Mostly a characterization/power building chapter, but things will be picking up soon. If you like these focuses let me know. If you'd rather hear about power development in combat later rather than seeing the process, we can do that, but I figure half to point of this story is watching how people learn how to interact and work within the system.

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