[ New skill learned; Mana Control lvl 1 ]
[ Mana overload ]
[ Mana overload; ended ]
[ Runes lvl 8 ]
[ New spellshape created; Sublimate ]
[ Spellcraft lvl 6 ]
[ Mana Control lvl 2 ]
[ Mana Control lvl 3 ]
[ Mana Backlash ]
[ New skill learned; Spell Stability lvl 1 ]
[ Mana Backlash; ended ]
[ New skill learned; Yelling lvl 1 ]
[ Yelling lvl 4 ]
[ New spellshape learned; Phlogistonate ]
[ New spellshape learned; DePhlogistonate ]
[ New spellshape learned; Calcinate ]
[ New spell created; Piercing Shot ]
[ Spellcraft lvl 9 ]
[ Mana Control 5 ]
[ Spell Shaping lvl 6 ]
[ New spell created; Exploding Shot ]
[ New spell created; Piercing Exploding Shot ]
[ Spellcraft lvl 10 ]
[ Mana Control lvl 6 ]
[ Spell Shaping lvl 7 ]
Evot mentally commands the blue screens away. The fact that they’re being projected on top of her vision without any form of external projector or internal nanobots still feels like a massive invasion of her privacy and body. But the blinking blue dot at the bottom of her vision had finally managed to overshadow her discomfort with the interface. The annoyance is now gone, and Evot is none the wiser. All the information she had gleaned from the impossible to ignore blocks of text was stuff she already knew.
The mana overload was from when Douglas dropped yet another mana stone into her mouth. The creation of the spellshape was just a simple mental exercise in the beginning, something to do in an attempt to ignore the constant pain radiating from her healing body. The mana backlash was from when she had tried to cast a spell at random, panicked at the thought of being buried alive, when Douglas had somehow shattered the mental image she had been feeding mana to. That headache had been the single most painful and paralyzing thing she has ever felt in either life, and she even now feels echoes of that migraine shooting through her mind. The Yelling skill she had learned while shouting at Douglas as they were being chased by the Histaff Gargantuan.
The fall into the roofless bunker has been a weird form of relief so far. Instead of being stuck underground, or running above ground while being chased by a horror of mountainous scale, they are just hiding in a small tunnel. The fact that the Histaff monster is still after them, rolling over their position every couple of minutes, is now a source of comfort instead of terror. Somehow, Evot feels like she understands those hostages that start loving their captors a little bit. The earthshaking roar coming overhead periodically is starting to feel nice and comforting.
She has not lost sight of the fact that, if they ever want to leave this broken bunker, that thing will most likely need to die. That is why she had bothered Douglas until he let her learn the other three spellshapes the skeleton was willing to show her. Douglas had suggested showing her the Death spellshape again, but Evot had firmly declined that offer.
She had spent some time studying the newly gained formations, and had found them very similar in nature. Then she had turned to creating new spells, as none of the attacks Douglas has thrown at the enormous rolling thing had done much. Neither fireball nor ice spike nor earth lance had done any damage. Evot still doesn’t know if it even noticed the sad ball of wind Douglas has thrown at the thing.
So she had thought to create a piercing projectile that would freeze the Gargantuan’s insides. Douglas had chimed in with a rather hard to understand story about controlling bones, frozen goop, and traitorous vehicles. Evot had nodded along to the skeleton’s enthusiastic storytelling, pretended to understand, and taken away the lesson that ice is not a great weapon against Histaff. The many, many times the skeleton had told her of the effectiveness of fire in killing those ‘horrid abusers of bone’ was enough of a hint for her to switch to fire instead.
By this time, she had managed to cobble together a piercing projectile spellshape. Using the various safety mechanisms built into the four spells in new and interesting ways that they are not designed for has allowed her to create new things. She had designed a magically fueled containment shell housing a dense packet of frost. A simple timer connected through a fly-by-magical-wire control system later, and the blue boxes had judged the Piercing Shot spell to be completed.
A drastic redesign to switch out the frost element to an explosive package followed. It took her some more tweaking and dangerous test castings before she had earned herself recognition for the Explosive Shot spell.
The Piercing Exploding Shot spell had only come about after discussing the intricacies of mana control with Douglas at length. Evot looks at the metal clad skull on top of a partially stone-clad skeleton with new eyes now. No matter how much she has been practising, the spell shapes that she manages to project into the air are wobbly, crooked, and misshapen in all kinds of ways. The fact that the spellshape is projected into the air in the first place means that the spell is being cast inefficiently, as the blue hologram is a manifestation of mana being wasted during casting. She had tried until she could try no more, and then had tried again anyway. She ended up concluding that draping the power over the runes with any form of precision is beyond her current skill level.
Her Mana Control skill had levelled up a bunch of times, but it didn’t really seem to help her at all. The most annoying thing about the entire situation, she thinks once again, is that the general tips and hints are telling her she is doing great. Merely dumping mana into the mental spellshape is more than enough, as far as the information she seems to be receiving from her skills is concerned. Instead of layering power over each rune, the random tips and hints just tell her to shove more mana in. The outside learning factor would have been rather creepy to Evot, but she has had the privilege of having experienced several deep neuro learning session. The costly way to gain knowledge and skills that can only be done by the most advanced of neuro-tools seem crude and rough in comparison to the help she gains from her levelling skills.
Evot then chides herself from lingering on that part of her youth. The rebellious streak she was suffering from had been corrected, she must admit. Whether or not the month she was bedridden and the half year of physical therapy afterwards had been worth it, though, she is less sure on.
“You still haven’t learned it?”
“Alright. Please look closely, alright? Casting while not casting is very difficult. How are you making it look so effortless?” Shaking her head at the clueless skeleton, Evot once again starts the process of casting her newest original creation. Calling up the rigid shape into the forefront of her consciousness, she starts guiding the ever-present flow of mana from her forehead towards her mental space. The switch from a physical location - her forehead - to a mental one - a picture in her mind - once again happens just outside of her notice. Trying to notice the switch when the flow of mana enters her mind-space just prevents the entire casting from happening. She had blocked herself for half a day when noticing this phenomenon for the first time, a few days ago now. During this time, Douglas had shown impatience for the first time Evot can recall.
Switching her focus to something else for long enough for the channel of mana to enter her mind’s eye, Evot casts her Piercing Exploding Shot spell without trying to cast it. Looking away from the ever increasing layer of bones stacked up at the tunnel entrance, she tries to not blow up Douglas. A small circle of shimmering yellow appears in front of her palm. Then, slowly and hesitantly, blue runes and lines appear around the glowing orb. Instead of the single symbol that makes up the centre of all the spells Douglas can cast, this one starts with a circle made from runes. A part of the mana that she channels into the spell keeps the shining containment field going. Another part starts the spinning process, the central most mana loop controlling which step gets how much power.
As more and more parts of the spell light up, the yellow orb deforms into a spinning oval. Then it fills with intense fire, a small blazing pinprick growing into a miniature sun. The spinning starts distorting the entire field, sending swirls of blue and yellow ripples through the entire thing. Evot feels the flow pulling and pushing on her mind, the spell trying to tear itself apart under the forces needed to keep the entire construct together. Unlike all the previous times, where she lost control before she managed to supply enough mana to power the final step, she somehow manages to hold on.
Douglas’ empty burning eyes appear to be fixated on the spell, but Evot is never truly sure where he is looking. Chasing that stray thought from her mind, she commits her full focus on keeping the burgeoning magical construct together. WIth a final gush of controlled mana, the central control ring sends a stream of power towards the propulsion system. In quick order, a second containment field forms and fills with a lesser purity level of exothermic compound. Finally, a single weakness is made, a hole that can be opened at the back of the propulsion chamber.
Covered in sweat, and her eyebrow smoking like mad, Evot moves her face away from the back of the Piercing Exploding Shot and let’s go. It hangs there for a single moment, the blue lines and runes shredding into nothingness under the whirlwind of power emanating from the spinning bullet. Then a bright line made from pure rocket flame burst from the back, and the entire thing disappears in a flash.
“I like it.”
Evot wakes up. A combination of mana fatigue, the massive mental effort that was casting the spell, and sheer stupefaction at what she has wrought had nearly put her to bed. Molten rock drips from the hole in the concrete with syrup consistency, lighting up both skeleton and woman. The darkness inside the glowing hole lights up for a single moment. Then a hot wind buffers the duo moments after the booming sound of a far away explosion arrives. The blue dot below her line of sight is impossible to ignore once again, so she just gives in and lets it have its say.
[ Spell Shaping lvl 5 ]
[ Mana Control lvl 8 ]
[ Mana Sense lvl 8 ]
Once again, stuff she already knows. Commanding the screens to go away, she rests her back against the wall. “I’m glad you like it. That was immensely…” Evot is wide awake. Instead of having a little nap, like she initially intend to do, she is now trying to crawl into the wall. Trying to get away without alerting the skeleton, she very carefully asks “Douglas?”
“Why are you casting my spell right now?”
“Yes, I know that I made this spell to get rid of the Gargantuan that has been holding us for days now, but why are you casting it like that?”
“YOU SAW WHAT MY SMALL ONE DID, YOU HONKING HUMPERT! WHY ARE YOU CASTING ONE THAT IS TEN TIMES AS BIG?”
“I want to make sure.”
And with those words, Douglas crawls out of the tunnel and disappears from sight. It takes Evot a good few seconds to process what just happened, her current lack of sleep not helping her cope. She had just cast her newly made Piercing Exploding Shot spell for the first time successfully. She had based it on a central ring through which the mana would flow. From there, the multi-stage process of forming a magical artillery shell would start. She had only just now managed to cast it once, and that took all her focus and, after a quick check of that screen that shows her all the numbers, around a hundred points of mana. It had let her create a head-sized projectile. This projectile had burrowed through solid rock when fired. It had then exploded a couple hundred meters away from her position, and she had still felt the shockwave and warm wind emanating from it. While huddled underground, in a ruined bunker.
And Douglas had just walked out into the open, a Piercing Exploding Shot more than two meters in size slowly and neatly forming above his outstretched hand.
Evot decides that if she is to die, she might as well do it standing. The fact that the ground has once again slowly started to shake is a pretty good indication that the Histaff monster is about to roll overhead once again. And it seems to be slowing down over time, so hiding underground was bound to stop being effective pretty soon anyway. Evot guesses her survival chances against a slow-moving Gargantuan pretty much zero, so she might as well see her death coming. Knowing Douglas, it’s bound to be interesting at the very least.
Touching her forehead horn in a misguided gesture of good luck, Evot emerges from the shallow bunker tunnel for the first time in a week, and starts jogging after Douglas. Maybe she will finally be rid of this eternal hunger after she has become Histaff food. A single flash of memory, furiously swimming inside a Histaff Amalgamation, flailing and shrieking in anger as advertisements and stores are all around her burrows its way up from her memories.
Before she can crawl back into her hole, she finds Douglas. She skids to a halt in the middle of a three-way junction and immediately spots the skeleton, who is standing with his back to her. His ribs and angular skull are vivid black contrasts against the blazing inferno he is holding. The three-meter wide sphere of pure light seems tethered to his outstretched arm, a blue circle of immaculate lines and perfect runes forming around it. Then the thing starts spinning, and the escaping heat and pure mana lashes deep grooves into the open corridor. The sand in front of him melts, the glowing walls unable to outshine the fierce sun. Like a glowing, spinning nebula of fire, waves of heat and plasma are flung from the elongating containment field.
“AIM IT UPWARDS!” Evot shouts in a near panic. The rotational momentum is sure to cause problems down the line. She can see it happening in her mind's eye. Douglas trying to haul the spinning spell towards the sky, but unable to do so because of its rotational momentum.
Douglas swirls the pell upwards like it weighs nothing, and Evot immediately regrets her well-meant warning. The escaping superheated winds are now aimed directly at her head. Throwing herself towards the sandy floor, she ignores the globules of lava splashing down next to her a she keeps looking at the skeleton. Douglas, still holding the very sun in his skeletal hand, turns his head in a manner that would have broken another person’s neck. “I don’t have enough mana.”
Staring at the scene with a slackjawed expression on her face, Evot is once again at a loss for words.
“Made it too big. Mana is nearly empty. Give me mana.”
She hears the words, but they fail to register on a conscious level. She feels her newly healed skin start to turn red under the blistering heat of the Piercing Exploding Shot Douglas is holding. She watches in mute fascination as she crawls forward, barely in control of her own body. She wonders why she is moving forward instead of running for the hills, but then realizes that those hills are most likely Histaff Gagantuans anyway. She feels her fingers touch smooth bone, and looks upwards at a somehow awkward yet thankful skeleton. She then shoves the little bit of mana she still has access to out of her horn, into her neck, through her arms, and into Douglas’ tibia. She lays there for long seconds, feeling a version of her life force enter the skeleton.
Her eye twitching at the incorrect grammar, she can only reply in kind. “No problems.”
The shaking ground, roiling heat, and steadily increasing rumble all reach a crescendo simultaneously. A large wave of sand and shards of bone lands around the two figures. The magical combustion chamber part of the spell breaks, dousing Douglas’ head in a golden stream of fire. The Histaff Gargantuan enters the scene next, now a mass of red goop surrounded by a thick layer of shattered bone reminiscent of broken pottery. The four-metre-long magical spell stays tethered to Douglas’ rapidly disintegrating arm for a single second, vanishing into a golden streak. Evot wants to scream, but the burning air prevents her from breathing in.
“MY BONES!” yells Douglas, who is cradling his charred and crumbling hand.
And the mountain of Histaff explodes directly above her.
Evot once again doesn’t breathe in, but now only because she is drowning in a sea of red slime.
Douglas’ agonized scream is still audible, even as Evot finds herself dragged along in a rapid stream of red goo, bone shards, and sand.
[ Histaff UNKNOWN lvl UNKNOWN slain; UNKNOWN xp earned (shared) ]
Instinctively and internally yelling at the blue screen to get the heck out of here, Evot slams into a grey wall face first. She is dragged along the rough concrete surface, finding that she is still holding onto Douglas’ leg. The world around her has started spinning rapidly, and the fact that she finds herself tumbling head over heels inside a rapid river made from exploded Histaff isn’t helping her sense or direction any. The lack of power coming from her forehead is making her rather drowsy, she notes, but the alternating boiling and ice cold liquid around her keeps her awake. Then another wall comes towards her with speed, and this latest obstacle on her tumultuous life path graces her with blessed darkness as she slams into it.