Finally, I had all my stuff set up for becoming a variant. I didn’t really know for sure that having ten perfect mana organs for the transformation would be better than ten high quality mana organs, but my gut was telling me it was. The first thing I did after eating breakfast was heading over to Djarleen’s shop.
“Good morning Djarleen, are you ready for today?” I asked.
“Yeah, yeah. You’re entirely too chipper for this early in the morning Angus.” She grumped as a kettle went off nearby. “Hand me that, will you? I need some tea to get going in the morning.”
“Sure thing.” I replied, carefully handing it over.
“Oh, that’s the stuff.” She muttered after her first sip, eyes closing in bliss. We both simply relaxed in silence for a bit, letting her finish her tea in peace. Five minutes later and we were heading through that gut wrenching transport once again.
“Guh, how do you not have your tea coming back up after that?” I panted, mildly annoyed.
“Practice. And the tea has a little bit in it to settle your stomach.” She smiled as she explained.
“Damn cheating teachers.” I muttered. “So, what do we need to do first?”
“Follow me to the headmaster’s office.” She said, leading the way. We walked silently past a glaring Montgomery, I assume he heard what we were talking about and decided not to interfere.
“Come in” a voice called as we knocked on the guildmaster’s office door. “Ah, Djarleen and Angus, just the two I have been expecting.” Guildmaster Willow greeted us as we walked in. “Still set on using the variant transmutation circle?”
“Yes.” We both replied.
“Good, good. Before we do, let’s sit down for just a bit of business. Tea?”
“NO!” Djarleen practically yelled, before clearing her throat and trying again. “I mean, we just had a cup of tea before coming over, thank you for offering.” I guess she was worried about side effects.
“That’s fine.” He said, pouring himself a cup. “I hope you don’t mind if I drink one?”
“Not at all.” Djarleen responded, and I was happy to let her lead this conversation. Sadly, that wasn’t to last.
“So, Angus. I hear you have come into possession of some tunneling worm blood. Have you decided what to do with it yet?”
“Not yet sir. I don’t believe that I have the skill to properly utilize it yet, and would hate to waste such a valuable reagent. Knowing how hard it was just to get juvenile blood, I can only imagine the pain it is to get adult blood.”
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear you say that. One of the hardest things about alchemy is knowing your own skill and your skills limits. It seems you are staying conservative in your estimations, which is what all the long lived alchemists tend to have. Would you be willing to trade a portion of it to the guild?”
“I would.” I carefully replied. “Provided the benefits are comparable to the value of what is traded.”
“Of course, of course.” He responded with a smile. “I have been thinking about this for a while, honestly expecting you a few days ago.” Before I could make an excuse he held up a hand. “It’s ok, I’m well aware of what you would need to go through just to get all of those mana sensing organs. So I have this offer. We will use three of the vials of blood to brew you an earth resistance potion. This will boost your earth resistance by 30%, permanently. In addition, we will also provide an affinity resistance potion of your choosing, providing another permanent 30% resistance to one other element. I’m sorry to say, but before you ask these resistance potions are one time effects, and can’t be stacked. In return, you would give us ten vials of blood. How does that sound?”
Thinking about it, I couldn’t help but smile. They really wanted that blood, and getting boosts to resistances without the use of gear would be huge. “I will gladly accept that offer. That also leaves us with seven vials unaccounted for.” When I revealed that, his eyes got wide and he looked at a smiling Djarleen. “Now, I am preparing for a chain quest for Thanatos. Is there anything the guild could offer to help with this? I know for sure I will be fighting spirits soon, while I expect undead to be filling my near future.”
“Well, this is certainly unexpected! Djarleen, it seems you still like to keep a little something in reserve for negotiations, eh? Angus, I will put a request out to the masters in residence to see what they can come up with. Are you going to require us to use some of the blood in whatever we trade you for?”
“Oh, not at all. This would simply be seven vials of blood for their own use in exchange for whatever we can agree upon. Although I do have one stipulation.”
“I’ve seen that there are certain, grudges, that could be formed and continue for a while. I have no wish to engage this or alienate any members of the guild, so would it be possible for all offers to be sent through you? When you offer them to me, forgo any identifying information and let everyone know that you are doing this. That way everyone gets a fair shot.”
“Blind offers are highly encouraged around here, for that exact reason young man. I’m sure that there will be no objections to that.” He said with a smile.
“Great, then I’ll leave the details up to you if that’s ok. I also wish to ask for my second resistance potion, could you make one for cold resistance?”
“Covering for a racial weakness? Not a bad idea, and one we have already prepared for. Now, as you might assume, we rarely get the option to use the variant transmutation circle. Would you object to anyone who wants to view it? It really is a fascinating process.”
“If at all possible, let’s limit it to masters only. I don’t want too many people knowing about what my variant is.”
“Very well, I assure you nobody will hold that against you. Are you sure you won’t try a cup of tea to settle any nerves before we do this?”
“I, I’m ok.” I stuttered a bit, keeping Djarleen’s words about him experimenting on people in mind. Who knows what an unknown potion would do in an interaction with transmutation? “Oh, before I go, here is thirteen of the vials of blood. For payment and creation of the promised earth resistance potion.” I added, carefully placing the vials in a rack he was holding for me.
“Very well, I’ll let the masters know and we can get this started!” He said, rubbing his hands together. As we were leaving, he rang a few different bells on his desk. We headed downstairs, and to my surprise entered a slightly hidden staircase, having to make our way almost directly behind the front desk to get there. Contrary to what the rest of the building was, the stairs and walls down were roughly hewn directly from the rock, though it was much drier than what you would imagine from some stories. I guess they did some waterproofing to make sure the stairs didn’t get slick and mossy. Either way, at the bottom of the stairs was a large room.
There was a set of bleachers off to the left, only three risers high. The central portion of the room was a massive array, much larger than what I had seen earlier. It was a circle within a circle, with several different shapes and runes cut directly into the rock and filled with gold. Barely touching the outside of the second circle were two stone pillars with silver hand holds sticking up from them, and heading down the front of the pillars to connect to the circular array. Encircling all of that was a circle-triangle-circle arrangement. The inner circle touched each of the three sides of the triangle once, and the outer circle touched each of the vertexes of the triangle. They were made of a greenish hued metal, and I bent over to study it for a bit.
“Orichalcum.” Djarleen said when she saw me studying it. “Used for its resistance to magical effects.”
“Wouldn’t something like lead be better?” I asked, thinking of the most inert to magic metal I could think of.
“Works too well.” The guildmaster said, having snuck up on us. “Lead in such an array would completely isolate the interior, and you wouldn’t have enough ambient mana to complete the ritual. They only did it once, seeing someone turned into a husk as all the mana is sucked out of their cells was horrible.”
On that gruesome news, walked over to the final portion of the room only to find a rather mundane work bench.
“For final preparations?” I asked.
“Indeed.” The guildmaster nodded, before heading over to take a seat in the bleachers. “You know what all you need to do, right Djarleen?”
“Yes sir.” She responded, and smiled as several alchemical masters walked in.
“Angus! I shoulda known you’ld be tha one bringing us down here. Good to see ya again lad.” Master Faraldo bellowed out as he hit the bottom of the stairs.
“Good to see you too, Master Faraldo.” I said, unable to stop from smiling. Feeling better, I gave Djarleen a look that I hoped asked what I should be doing.
“See those empty spots with a single rune in the center around the edge? Place one of your mana sensing organs in each one, then sit cross legged in the central circle facing me. Ok everyone, this should be interesting.” She continued, turning to face the crowd. “Angus here is going for a magic sensing variant. To that end, he harvested mana sensing organs from crayclaws, and transmuted them until he has ten perfect mana sensing organs for his final transmutation. We will try and answer questions you have, but it might take a while to get back to you. We might also entertain certain experiments when we have a better idea about any abilities that are gained, but ask you have patience for those also. Thank you.” She finished, and several of the masters were already jotting down notes. Guildmaster Willow and Master Faraldo were both sitting back with smiles.
“Ok, now that we have everything placed, are you ready Angus?”
“I am, Djarleen.”
“Great. Here we go.” She said, while grabbing both silver handles. They immediately started glowing white, and I got a popup.
Player is attempting heavy avatar modification via magical means. Since there is no known analogue for this procedure in the real world, Arctic Storm insists that this process will be done via remote session for the player. You will be able to control a floating camera and must maintain at least a five foot distance between the camera and your avatar at all times. Feel free to record this and post to your streaming account if you wish.
I suddenly found myself looking at my own character’s back from a few feet above him. I started the recording, and panned back so that I could see the start. Hidden runes started glowing underneath me, as my mana flowed from my body into them. They charged and showed up moving counterclockwise, as other runes started reacting in a clockwise manner to Djarleen’s mana. Mine went in a spiral out from my body to the circle, and were much smaller and packed much more tightly than the ones on the outside circle.
As the runes surrounded the mana sensing organs, the floor underneath them lit up with a white glow and they levitated. I started moving the camera around so that I was looking into my avatar’s face, and the eyes were glowing pure white. Flashes of electricity started, firing between each of the mana sensing organs and myself. The organs started glowing, and the electricity was firing faster and faster. With a deep thump, the glowing organs all flew down one last bolt of electricity and into my avatar’s body.
I blinked my eyes, finding myself back in the middle of the circle with a bit of smoke rising from my body. My entire mana bar was blocked out with a 24:00:00 timer counting down next to it, and I saw Djarleen looking pale and using the pillars as support.
You have successfully completed a ritual designed to create a variant. You are now a Mystic Vision Kobold, and your eyes will glow with a silver white light when you use your abilities. Due to using such high quality reagents for your ritual, you have been given a choice for enhanced vision. Please choose below.
Your mana vision extends to twice the normal range.
Your vision is so sharp that you can discern the mana channels that lie below the skin of creatures.
I blinked a few times before choosing enhanced acuity, wondering if I could strike certain places and destroy a creature’s ability to use mana.
New skill acquired!
Mystic vision level maxed
When active, concentrations of mana can be seen. Due to increased acuity, barriers like skin are half as effective.
Distance: 30 feet
“Well, did it work?” Someone shouted.
“Yeah.” I replied, voice barely a whisper. Coughing a few times, I tried again. “Yeah.”
“And we will answer questions, ha, ha, when we feel comfortable with it.” Djarleen panted, glaring at the questioner. I nodded my thanks at her, and took my time stretching my muscles that had all cramped up despite the relatively short amount of time the ritual had taken. Several of the masters made some disapproving glances, but I caught the guildmaster mumbling to them and herding them off the stage. I gave him a smile as he turned back to wave at us.
“Ugh, feels like I just ran a marathon.” I mumbled. “How you holdin’ up Djarleen?”
“Like I’ve been crushed in an avalanche.”
“Sorry. Thanks for doing this for me, I want you to know I truly appreciate it.” I said, offering to help her stand.
“You’re welcome. Although I fully expect you to take my spot when and if I ever attempt this.”
“Done deal, done deal. Heck, I’ll even help gather reagents if I’m in an area. Were you thinking of anything special?”
“Oh not really. Maybe something with fire manipulation to help with brewing potions.”
“That would be cool. Can I give you a bit of advice?”
“And you are suddenly a font of information?” She chuckled.
“For this little bit, yes. Don’t let the light races know, but it is definitely worth it to use the highest quality materials possible.”
“Oh?” She asked, pitch rising to show interest.
“Yep. I got a choice when I did it, to either enhance the distance or the precision. If you can stand on your own for a second, I’ll test it out. I chose the precision by the way.” Taking a few steps back, I activated [Mystic vision], and blinked a few times merely taking in the view. The circle we had just left and the silver handles glowed a whitish gold. Djarleen had a brown and red aura, with lines extending from her heart to her head and down both arms. Oddly, she only had brown lines heading down her legs and splitting off into her own claws. There were also some faint lines swirling through her torso, with a concentration near what I assumed was a womb.
“Whoah, that is freaky.” I said, losing concentration and cancelling the skill.
“You can say that again, your eyes were white. Like pure white orbs, it was very, what was your word? Freaky? Yeah, very freaky.”
“I can imagine; it did say something about that. What I was looking at was you though. You have fire and earth mana, but you can only use fire through your hands.”
“How can you know that?” She asked.
“There are red and brown lines heading into your hands, but only brown lines heading down to your feet.”
“Fascinating. Can you watch a few potions I make in the future? I always wondered how the different mana interacts as it brews.”
“I can try, but let’s keep it simple to start.” I pleaded, just knowing she would want to start off with some master level potion right away in her excitement. “Shall we head for home? I have a few things I still want to do today, as well as see if Dharkiss wants to make another, I don’t really know if it is more trap or weapon, but if he wants to make it for me.”
“Let’s go.” She said, sighing in exhaustion. We took our time heading up the stairs, taking a break halfway through. Of course, Montgomery was sitting at the desk doing his best to ignore us as we walked by.
“Mr. Montgomery, sir?” I asked, hoping that stroking his ego would get me a slightly less frosty response.
“What?” He grumped, obviously not swayed.
“I was wondering if you would pass on a message to the guildmaster for me.”
“Go on.” He said, obviously not happy to do his job for a kobold.
“I will be back tomorrow for the potions, and will probably have some basic answers for the masters. Thanks for passing that on.” I said, giving the man a pained smile.
“Very well, tomorrow then.” He replied, before turning right back to whatever paper shuffling he was up to.
Not wasting any time, Djarleen and I headed back through to the transport before realizing that neither one of us could use the mana required to activate it. We had to go back and practically beg Montgomery to help us, but eventually he got up and did it. Once we made it back, I headed out to see Dharkiss.
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.