When I reached the third floor I stayed away from any doorway. Yes, I had a task to kill jadinfray but for me, it was too soon to use the Death Mind technique.

I approached my first nest. The closer I came the more the scent of sour droppings hit me.

At two blocks away from the nest, I took out the ball.

Did Engra say that there were instructions that came with it?

With a shrug I pressed the button and threw it, aiming at a feather that stuck out of the nest’s siding.

It flew through the air but missed the nest completely. A block below, it hit the ground with an unimpressive fizzle. Smoke snaked out of the ball.

A few birds peaked out of the nest. Their heads turned in various directions the way raptors did.

I stilled, hoping they were like Tyrannosaurus Rexes and could only see movement. Or was that just in a movie I saw once?

They ignored me and attacked the contraption until it was pieces on the floor.

When the birds left I took out another orb and pressed the button.

Light filled my vision. A loud noise blasted my eardrums and turned into ringing. My hands burned. Pain dimmed the world.

I screamed but could not hear. My throat ached from the effort. My eyes were open but I couldn’t see. I blinked repeatedly.

Uncomfortable while hovering in midair while unable to see I floated down and sat. Vines dug into my bottom. After a while, my eyes slowly adjusted. I laughed in muffled hysteria.

I’d been injured but hadn’t died. This was a new one. When my vision cleared I noticed my hands. They were like charred rare steak. What was worse, they didn’t hurt and smelled of barbeque. My stomach tickled my throat, asking me to throw up its nonexistent contents.

Perhaps my body would go back to normal the next time I died. I should have been thinking of a way to suicide, but even now, I couldn’t force myself to do it.

I sighed. With hands like this, I couldn’t throw anything and definitely not the cage. But I had played soccer for many years so maybe...

I took out another ball. Pain shot up my arm. My eyes watered.

Okay, bad idea to grab the orb with my severely burned fingers. I swallowed and dropped it onto my foot. I bounced it a couple times to get its weight and to press the button. When the vibrations of the activation click ran up my foot I tossed it up one more time and kicked it at the nest.

It impacted. Tiny mechanical pieces burst out in all directions. Azure light connected the pieces and rearranged itself into a tightly woven cage. Birds exited the nest and swarmed but they could not get through the contraption. A fog that smelled of oranges congregated within and the birds all flew back into their home. The device and the nest both zoomed toward my pocket and into the new inventory.

Experimental Cage x13

Nest with 48 birds x1

One down nine to go.

I stared at my hands. No way could I continue with burns like this. I doubted that I could hold my bow. If I couldn’t hold it, I couldn’t mine, right?

I focused on flying down through the block under my feet. It just felt like my gravity increased a bit.

I couldn’t continue forward, and I couldn’t suicide because thinking about it revolted me. But why didn’t the mine kill me like it did when I’d trapped myself? Was it the amount of oxygen?

Fire could eat oxygen.

I took out 10 of my candles and using my uninjured elbows, awkwardly placed them in a circle around me. Apparently, a bushel was 56lbs, which came out to be a lot of candles. This also made me wonder if miners were somehow rich-ish in their realm.

After taking a deep breath I cast Candlelight on one then another.

Obviously, I didn’t want to use my hands to light the other candles and this was a great opportunity to cast more magic and hopefully gain another point of mana.

I continued casting until all 10 candles were lit. I blew them all out and started over again. After about a half hour I once again watched as my Satellite, a little over half the size of my Core, fall into it. With a flash of light, they combined and another Satellite appeared at the edge of my Lake.

Did everyone gain only a single mana point each time they, for lack of a better definition, leveled their magic?

My hands started to itch and I peered down at them. On the tips of my fingers and at the edge of the burn on my forearm newly healed flesh had appeared. Even my archer’s bracers seemed to regrow. Was I self-healing? Was this what it meant to have a spurious body?

If I could heal, that meant I wasn’t done here, it would just take time, of which I had plenty and none at all. Engra hadn’t given me a time limit on this, but every day I stayed away from home probably had my parents believing we were dead. I couldn’t keep doing that to them.

I sighed. Not like I had a choice.

Now that I had three points of mana, wasn’t there a spell I could learn? I tapped my chin. Right, Minor Telekinesis! I totally needed that.

Unfortunately, Mr. Black had my book but I remembered most of the spell description from reading it earlier. I just hoped I remembered it correctly.

If I was right, this one required a will to cast it, enough mana and a memorized spell diagram. The diagram looked like four dots in a square with a curvier squiggly line on top and to the right, a backward capital s with a c at the end of it. It had been fairly simple which was the only reason I could recall it.

After writing it in the air a few times along with the Candlelight spell diagram to ensure I didn’t forget it, I felt more confident.

Of course, this might not be the first or last time I overestimated my brain.

I concentrated on a single candle and cast Minor Telekinesis. For a brief moment I thought I hadn’t remembered it correctly, then my mana drained.

Relief flooded my system and I focused and willed the wax to lift slowly into the air. It did so. I grinned and lost concentration. It clattered to the floor.


Did I still have it cast, or did losing concentration mean I had to wait 30 seconds and cast it again?

I tried to pick it up with my mind but it wouldn’t budge. So, there was more to this spell than the page mentioned. A teacher would have been useful.

Since my only recourse was to learn by myself I cast it on the candle again. I turned it as I lifted it up.

Within 10 seconds I recovered a single point of mana. A wild thought entered my head. While concentrating I cast the Candlelight spell on the wick. The candle shuddered as the wick caught fire then I dropped it. The fire turned to smoke as it fell.

Huh. I guessed that I could cast another spell while concentrating on a first but I needed to practice before I tried that again.

I cast Telekinesis on the candle once again and waited. My mana refilled. Another 30 seconds went by and my Core drained completely. The candle did not move from where I willed it. I also noticed that my Satellite didn’t move quite as much this time as actually casting it again would have, but it still orbited significantly closer than casting two Candlelight spells would have.

I kept holding it, trying to see how long I could go. About 15 minutes later my mind started to wander and I dropped my concentration. I was about 20 percent of the way to my next mana point.

If I could get good at this I could hold my mining tool. That would allow me to continue even with my hands messed up. It would also help me train my mana while I worked.

I returned the candle and took out my bow. With a jolt of pain, I released it onto the floor. I willed it to move up. My mana drained and it did as I commanded, floating in the air as if carried by a ghost.

I took a step down while focusing on the smoky shaft. The strain was like carrying a full glass of grape juice to the table while trying not to spill on grandma’s white carpet. Fortunately, my body moved one below and my weapon came with me. After doing that three more achingly slow times an arrow knocked. With its sudden appearance, I lost concentration and it clattered to the floor.

Sighing with frustration, but picked it up again and continued down.

A note from DragonOfRochester

Thank you for taking the time to read my story! You are incredible!

This chapter's procrastination is brought to you by The Phobia of Renegade X The fourth book in the Renegade X series written by the relatively unknown goddess of storytelling and characterization, Chelsea M. Campbell.

I wrote this story while listening to "The Doomed" as performed by A Perfect Circle.

About the author


Bio: Artist and a retired game industry professional.

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