You have learned Illusion! Proficiency 8%
You have learned Floating Eye! Proficiency 8%
You have Learned Scry! Proficiency 8%!
Spell Theory Proficiency has reached 53%
You have learned Stone shape! Proficiency 15%!
You have learned Wall of Stone! Proficiency 12%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 54%
You have learned Create Water! Proficiency 20%!
You have learned Warding! Proficiency 15%!
You have learned Charm! Proficiency 8%!
Spell Theory proficiency has reached 55%!
Fly proficiency has reached 25%!
Telekinesis proficiency has reached 30%!
Spell Theory isn’t growing so fast anymore, but my spells are gaining proficiency much faster than they used to. Garth thought as he telekinetically flipped one page of the Charm spellbook after another. The book was one of the highlights from the one of the destroyed shops. There had been another spell Garth had been interested in sitting in a glass case with a mithril lock on it. The Create Undead spell. He’d spent an hour cutting through the reinforced glass, but when he finally touched the book, Garth had felt as though he was suffocating, so he’d quickly handed it off to someone else.
In ransacking the three destroyed outposts, Garth had finally found a breed of magic that Beladia’s blessings didn’t play well with, but it made sense, her being attributed with life and nature. Necromancy was about the furthest thing from that.
Garth had found dozens of other spells of every kind, and he’d passed out duplicates to the appropriate people and kept the morally dubious ones, or ones he was missing from his collection for himself.
Charm, Attraction, Modify Memory and Dominate Mind, being prime examples. Garth wasn’t even sure he trusted himself with that kind of power over people. As far as Garth was concerned, the inner workings of the mind were the last bastion of privacy that every person should have a right to.
The only problem was, Garth was pretty sure high level wizards fought in the mind as well as in reality. Garth couldn’t afford not to learn mental magic.
“Weren’t you going to mess with people’s heads when we get back to L.A. anyway?” Wilson asked from his shoulder.
“I was going to give them tiny jolts of pleasure or anxiety for observable behavior. No mind reading, no thought control. Gently enforcing standards of behavior is totally ethical.”
Garth took a sip of the coffee hovering beside him.
Jamal and Jessica jogged by side by side, sweat running down their faces in the morning sun as the First Earth Company of Beladia got ready to start their day. Men and women were crawling out of makeshift tents and stretching, strapping on their armor and weapons.
Samantha had distributed the last outpost’s loot to Garth’s satisfaction the night before and Paul was currently having people break down camp and store everything in their Status bands. The Spellblades were out looking for breakfast and the giant cast iron pots stolen from the castle were slowly steaming, bringing the conjured water up to temperature for the morning stew.
Today was the day they started to hunt the creatures responsible for the destruction. In every city, the pattern was the same, obliterated walls, eaten corpses and a trail that disappeared just outside the city. The question was, were they dealing with something that could teleport or fly?
Garth was floating in the middle of the camp with his hands in his lap, just outside his rather large tent made of the massive drooping leaves of a jungle plant. He was flying about four feet above the ground, the Charm spellbook floating in front of him, along with a steaming wooden cup of coffee.
One purpose of running two Telekinesis Spells and a Fly spell simultaneously was to raise his proficiency with the incredibly useful spells, and the other was to maintain his aura of mystery. Garth had learned a long time ago that sometimes it was better to simply let people assume you were mysterious and powerful, and this was taking it one step further.
Leadership Proficiency has reached 2%!
Ugh, being a poser is what does it? Leadership wasn’t a spell, so Spell Theory didn’t help, and it Garth was nowhere near a natural at it, but he was gaining proficiency with it whether he liked it or not, given the circumstances.
His temple ached with the sustained effort of three spells, but he kept up the ridiculous façade. He had to get his morning exercise in too, after all.
A leaf rustled behind him, and Sandi crawled out of the tent, yawning as she pushed a man-sized leaf out of her way. Sandi’s hair was mussed up from sleep, and her sheer white pajamas were made transparent by the morning sun streaming down into the ruined city.
Her breasts pressed up against the thin fabric as she stretched, giving Garth a subtle view of her nipples even as the pajama top rode up, revealing the feminine curve of her waist. Her pants almost covered the curve of her hips, and her casually spread legs let Garth see where the fabric pressed tightly against the mound of her womanhood.
Just behind her, Garth could make out where she had bitten halfway through the wooden trunk supporting his tent. She’d bitten down on it reflexively last night in a moment of passion. Garth’s tent wasn’t big because he was the boss, it was big because it had to fit Sandi too.
Yeah, life is pretty okay sometimes, Garth thought to himself as Sandi’s hair fixed itself, and her clothes morphed into her typical tank-top and scandalously low-cut jeans.
“Morning,” he called, still floating in midair. “Coffee?” he floated the steaming mug over to her.
“Urgh.” She said, blinking as she walked out of the tent. The leaves parted as her real body climbed out of bed, her natural invisibility spell only barely visible to Garth’s eyes as she took the coffee out of the air and downed the whole thing at once into her real mouth.
“It’s so bitter,” she complained, a sour frown on her face as she looked around the camp.
“It’s that or water.”
“Fine.” The farmgirl succubus stretched again and Jamal tripped over a rock and faceplanted into the stone pavement of the outpost. Garth glanced over at the teenager being fawned over by Jess. Those two events were probably related, he thought, conjuring hot water into his mug and grinding more coffee beans telekinetically.
In the vast jungle, Garth and his mysterious prey saw neither hide nor hair of each other. They spent a week combing through the jungle with no success when he decided to take a different tactic. What they needed was bait.
Enter Jindar outpost 8901, closest outpost to the other three.
“We should tell them, don’t you think?” Sandi asked as they walked through the streets. People were going about their business in the muggy weather, carting nuts into the outpost by the wagonful. Must be one of the region’s staples.
“We’re going to tell the right people.” Garth said, glancing at the orders in his hand. “Although if the people in charge of this outpost aren’t aware of the threat, that in itself is an even bigger problem.”
“Why?” Itet asked.
“It implies someone higher up the foodchain didn’t want them to even have a chance. In short it would be fishy as hell.”
“But they sent us.” She said, her antennae wiggling in confusion.
“To die, not to stop the destruction.”
“Oh. Non-Tzetin make no sense.” She paused, seemingly deep in thought. “What do fish have to do with it?”
Garth glanced at Sandi, who shrugged. Tzetin must not have a euphemism for suspicious.
“Fishy means suspicious.” Garth said, taking a hard left into the government building responsible for handling mail and slapping down a stack of letters from himself and the rest of his Company, along with a huge sack of care packages addressed to sick mothers, underage children and distant lovers making the pilgrimage to the outskirts of L.A.
According to Clark, the city was riddled with Kipling and still needed to be cleared out, so he was taking charge and gathering up everyone at Earth outpost 3502. Luckily the old man got the class and spells he needed, so he was able to keep them afloat selling Simmons Cigars and magically growing fava beans, but they could use all the help they could get, hence the care packages.
Some of it was loot from the other destroyed outpost, and Garth thought he might get the third degree, but the aged corio clerk did nothing more than blink, sliding the papers and packages behind his desk to be sorted. Civil servants rarely could be bothered to care. The blue skinned man’s pointed ears drooped with age, and one of his horns was busted off long enough ago for the break to have worn smooth.
“That’ll be five thousand three hundred and sixty nine credits. He said immediately.
“Five thousand three hundred?” Garth exclaimed.
“Son of a bitch,” he said, digging out the cash and putting it down on the counter. “Thanks.”
“Good afternoon.” The aged corio nodded.
Task one had been completed, now Garth had to see about warning the people in charge of the city. From what he saw on the way in, they weren’t expecting anything more challenging than the occasional giant eagle or snapping lizard, both of which had long since learned to stay away from settlements.
The sentries at the wall had been playing games to pass the time, and the ballista wasn’t even strung. It was like they were asking to get eaten.
No armies could march through the jungle, was the general consensus. Their armor would rot, their skin would peel under their clothes, the biting insects would keep them from sleeping. In short, the jungle was supposedly a nightmare for any large group of creatures to move through.
Garth’s people had done it. That meant someone else could too. Hopefully when he dropped his marching orders on the governor’s desk, that would light a fire under their asses. He was halfway to the governor’s office when a flicker of light caught his attention.
It was the plasma crossbow, fired into the air. The signal that the outpost was under attack. The people he’d left outside had spotted something approaching.
“Son of a bitch!” Garth shouted, staring at the streak of light soaring into the sky. Of all the rotten luck. Why did it have to get attacked now? Well, maybe the governor will believe me. When the wall starts coming down.
“You two, go see if you can get the wall ready, I’m going to warn the governor.”
Sandi and Itet nodded and sprinted toward the walls, while Garth broke into a run toward the governor’s office.
Garth heard the faint snapping of trees in the distance as whatever was coming for the city began to plow through the jungle toward them.
Garth dodged around curious rubberneckers wondering what the sound was and charged into the building, storming past the governor’s secretary without a care. He burst through the door and screeched to a dead halt.
The rather fat corio was scooping the last bars of gold from a safe into a hastily packed bugout bag. He froze when Garth entered, glancing over his shoulder guiltily. There was a wavering door of light in the corner of his office.
“Whatcha doin’?” Garth asked unable to hide the ire in his voice as he closed and locked the door behind him, his vision narrowing on the fat bureaucrat. The little fucker knew. He knew and he was running.
Garth lunged forward, causing the fat corio to yelp and made a dash for the portal. Garth jumped over the table while seizing the man with Telekinesis, pulling the horned coward straight toward his fist.
The combined momentum sent a shockwave through Garth’s hand, and the Governor’s eyes rolled back in his head as a spray of blood dirtied his suit.
Garth stood over the man, deciding what to do, when a furious pounding came at the door.
“Governor Hine, are you okay!?”
Crap, Garth thought, cleaning the blood from his fist. So much for getting the governor’s help.