Once Garth noticed the correlation between Spell Theory and learning new spells, he decided to learn a bunch of them rather than spend tons of time on any one in particular. Spell Theory provided a substantial boost to the learning speed of spells, along with proficiency gain, and how difficult it was to create his own. By raising it as high as he could, he could save years of time when he went back and mastered each of the spells individually, with a broader understanding of Spellcraft in general.
Mana Channel proficiency has reached 78%!
Mana Wielding proficiency has reached 89%!
You have learned Teleport! Proficiency .05%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 15%!
You have learned Fly! Proficiency 4%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 17%!
You have learned Polymorph! Proficiency 5%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 20%!
You have learned Shrink! Proficiency 1%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 23%!
You have learned Summon Nature Spirit! Proficiency 20%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 28%!
You have learned Force Shield! Proficiency 2%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 29%!
You have Learned Fireball! Proficiency 4%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 33%!
You have learned Telekinesis! Poficiency 1%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 35%!
You have Learned Magic Jar! Proficiency 3%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 38%!
Ooh, Magic Jar, Garth thought as he ran through the pages of the book that described a way to prepare a special container to house the caster’s soul. Maybe if he could combine it with a modified Control Plants spell, he could give Wilson a body. While it was true Wilson could move things, it was demanding on him, and he didn’t do it more than a couple times a day with light objects. With a real body, the lizard could actually soak up some damage – errr, be part of the team.
“This is so boring!” Sandi said, idly feeding her sundew a cricket at the café’s polished table.
Garth looked up from the Magic Jar spellbook and set down his imported Ixellian coffee, glancing over at Itet, who made a Tzetin shrug before snapping off another bite of imported sweetroot with her mandibles. She was going to rot them eating that stuff.
“Something wrong?” Garth asked Sandi, checking the time and tossing another alchemically purified Heartstone in his mouth. One every four hours for maximum effect. They were sitting in the closest thing to a fancy restaurant remaining on Earth, a polished wood café with nice rocking chairs and excellent Inner Sphere coffee in Outpost 3504
“When you said you were gonna become a legend and fight the system, I didn’t think it was just gonna be two weeks of running from outpost to outpost, making lots of money, sending letters and hiring lawyers. And So. Much. Reading!”
“We get attacked every now and then.” Garth said, shooing Wilson away from his coffee. He knew if Wilson got a sip of the stuff, he’d be literally bouncing off the walls for hours. Which was weird considering anything Wilson ate was actually going into Garth. How did that work?
Every once in awhile going from outpost to outpost, people did try to rob them, but it was hardly common. Most people saw a guy riding something invisible cruising at about 70mph and just…went the other way. The rest of them were easily picked off by Itet before they could start trouble. For the most part their trips were pretty safe, one day hops between towns.
Garth was pretty sure they’d gotten far enough away from Harold that they could afford to relax a little, setting up franchises across the Midwest. Maybe they could find a nice beach and settle down in L.A. before people reclaimed it from the Kipling. Nobody said a wizard had to live in a dank and dusky tomb.
It hadn’t even been a month, and Garth was looking at a seven figure income. The thing that worried him the most was the complete radio silence from Beladia. What did she mean by the Gate was closing? The Gate to and from the Inner Spheres was still open albeit restricted to Citizens of the Inner Sphere, which Garth was not.
The lawyers were part of the process of making him a citizen, actually. There were a lot of things Garth wasn’t allowed to do as a non-citizen, and being a legitimate business owner, landowner, voter, and personally appealing to the Senate were all things that made it on the list.
All necessary things for his plan to keep Earth…if not independent, at least not under crushing debt like most of the Hives on Itet’s planet. Although, to be fair, Tzetin were incredibly gullible, so Earth probably wouldn’t get that bad.
“And I mean, why did you even register us as an adventuring party if we don’t do any actual adventuring?” Sandi demanded
“Tax benefits.” Itet said. She was learning well. The bug girl took a sip of her coffee, copying Garth as she leaned back in her seat, trying to learn his ways through mimicry. Coffee was the only way to get caffeine reliably nowadays, and while coffee wasn’t Garth’s thing, he did need the caffeine.
“The cores have already formed rat, slime, plant and insect dungeons! We could be harvesting rare materials, you could practice on plant monsters, or we could find a mutated dungeon that has traces of mithril ore, gold or orihalcum in the walls! If you stake a claim on one of those, you’ll be set for life!”
“We already are set for life.”
“Farming! I grew up on a farm!”
“We have people to farm for us. And I don’t think you would enjoy digging ore out of the ground every day, either. It would get old fast.”
“With that much money, we could have people..to..dig…for us.” Sandi blinked, realizing the direction her thoughts were going. “Shut up.”
“Besides, you got to see the Grand Canyon, didn’t you? And Yellowstone?” Garth said, flipping through the pages of his book.
“Yeah…those were cool,” Sandi admitted.
“Well over the next couple weeks, I’m thinking about hitting L.A. and seeing what the situation is like there. Should be a lot of survivors, just based on numbers. Although I bet most of them starved to death the day after the Kipling came. Heh. Have you ever been to the beach?”
“Sure, my dad took us out to fish all the time.”
“Oh, did you ever do any swimming?”
“No, it was way too cold to swim!”
“Then you’ve never been to the beach. Trust me, you’re going to like L.A., and L.A. is gonna like you.”
Who was he kidding, a man-eating monster in the shape of an incredibly beautiful woman? She’d fit right in. Except Sandi was more tolerable.
Travelling through the desert was a lot harder than Garth thought it would be, relying on a Spider-oak to pick up the slack when they rested while the hot sun was overhead. Forestwalk didn’t do much on the arid, dusty rock.
They were cruising through a little abandoned suburb in Nevada around dusk, on their way to California when Garth saw it. A perfectly happy pot plant sitting in the window of some hippie’s house. It must have had some kind of drip irrigation system, because even after a month, it still looked healthy. As a matter of fact, it looked positively ripe. The leaves were a deep green, and he could make out the little white hairs from here.
“Hold on a second, Sandi,” Garth said, holding up his hand and causing her to slow to a stop. “I gotta go…loot someone’s house.”
“Help yourself, I’m gonna go relax.” Sandi said. Itet followed her to the back of the house, where they settled in for a game of cards. Itet was dilligently trying to learn how to cheat. It didn't help that Sandi had a remarkable field of view, and would sometimes look over her shoulder with her main body. Itet hadn't even suspected that yet. She still had a long way to go.
Garth walked up to the brick house with the white paint, white door. Any little thing to deflect heat away from the house in the desert. He glanced around the suburb and didn’t see anyone else watching him, So he gently tried the door.
Locked. Not unexpected.
Garth closed his eyes and focused on the mana in the air, guiding it to coil around the deadbolt, sliding it back until he heard a click. This time when he turned the knob, the door slid open easily.
Goddamn did Telekinesis make his life easier. Garth was pretty sure he was going to get fat if he wasn’t careful with it. He could only lift and move small, unmoving things relatively clumsily right now, but he saw a lot of room for improvement.
The stink of marijuana permeated the house, and paraphernalia practically dripped from the walls. There was an open piece of wax paper on the coffee table in front of the sofa, with a suspicious brown resin in the center of it. There was a dab rig sitting next to it, along with an uneaten pizza crust.
Whoever lived here knew his shit. Not like Garth, who was still pretty grade-school in terms of his stoner knowledge. You smoked pot, and you got shaky, sounds and sights started having more meaning to them, you got couchlock, or maybe a little paranoid. Food tasted better.
That was about the extent that Garth knew about pot, having driven a couple times with his friends to have some. It was fun, but the paranoia and feeling a little stupid a full day afterwards was a bit of a deal breaker for Garth.
Still, it was a popular drug, and with Design Plant, he could do things that your average grower could only dream of. Maybe even make a strain that fit Garth like a glove.
He was lost in thought about all the awesome things he could do with a ready supply of THC, when he noticed that the plant in the window had no drip irrigation system. It was being watered by hand.
Garth leaned down and pressed on the pizza crust on the cluttered table. It squished down under his finger. Someone had been here in the last few hours.
A screeching battle cry filled the air, startling Garth out of his hypothetical sleuthing. A skinny old man with a shock of white hair and tattoos coming from the collar of his shirt charged Garth, a wooden chair raised high.
“Wait, I-“ Garth tried to speak, blocking the chair with his hands. The old man’s strength and speed were nothing to write home about, and compared to Garth, who’d been buying Ability points with money the last couple weeks, they were the flailings of a child.
A vicious, angry, mean-spirited child with a heavy wooden chair aiming for his delicate parts.
Undeterred, the old man swung the chair up again, taking another good shot at Garth, and another, before he finally managed to snatch the chair out of the man’s fingers. He was going to have bruises to remind him of this encounter for days.
“You’re not gonna eat me, you goddamn hellspawn!” The old guy shouted, diving behind the sofa while Garth looked on incredulously.
“Excuse me, I’m sorry to break in to your house, I just thought nobody was alive. I don’t want to hurt you, and I don’t want to get hurt, so let’s just talk, okay?” Garth said to the motionless sofa. There was no response. The dark brown upholstery shifted once, but other than that, nothing.
“We can talk this out sir. I’ll get out of your house and we can just talk, okay?” Garth said, edging around the sofa in the direction of the door. Leaving the guy’s house and letting him confront Garth on his own terms would do wonders for de-escalating the situation.
Garth peered behind the sofa as he moved, expecting to find the man cowering behind or underneath the upholstered furniture. What he was not expecting to find was a trap door in the floor, leading into a black abyss under the house.
Not interested in finding out where that leads, Garth thought, shaking his head. Wilson seemed to agree. Anyone crazy enough to build a bolt-hole into their living room floor was not the kind of guy you wanted to screw with on his own turf. Good way to get shot. Garth was pretty sure he hadn’t gotten that tough yet.
“I’m leaving!” Garth shouted, hoping the guy heard him from god-knows-where. He slowly backed out the door, his hands raised.
Garth was backing out the door slowly when he spotted the old man across the yard, peeking out from behind his neighbor’s white-painted house, leveling a shiny new handgun on him. His heart leapt into his throat.
|Garth Daniels||Human||One Star Iron Soldier of the Inner Sphere||Apostle of Beladia|
|Strength||14||Blessings||Photosynthesis, Temperature resistance, Empowered Plant Magic, Pheremones, Hyper-fertility|
|Speed||16||Skills||Plant Analysis, Mana Channel, Mana Wielding, Spell Theory|
|Intelligence||27||Spells||Control Plants, Force Armor, Forestwalk, Design Plant, Create Fire, Haste, Plant Growth, Teleport, Polymorph, Fly, Shrink, Summon Nature Spirit, Force Shield, Fireball, Telekinesis, Magic Jar|
|Senses||20+3||Inner Sphere Bank account:||516347 credits|