Garth dragged himself into bed, groaning. As it turned out, Alicia didn’t know the first thing about spellcraft, so a ‘spell’ lesson had inevitably morphed into a ‘magic’ lesson.
According to the terms of their agreement, all he had to do was throw his hands up in the air and call her a lost cause for not being able to understand a single spell, but Garth was a total pushover for a sassy lady with a nice round butt.
He’d spent the entire night trying to teach her how to channel mana out of the environment and how to control it, and they hadn’t gotten anywhere.
This must be how hard it was to learn with a non-magic class. Well, can’t give up after one lesson. Imagine how many college courses would be obsolete if you could learn everything in one day. Garth didn’t regret one iota losing some talent in underwater basket weaving to make room for being a magical savant.
“Ugh,” Garth started organizing his plans, face buried in the covers.
- Cut off Maggie Denton’s support.
- Make pure Heartstones.
- Restructure the empire abusing his children.
- Conquer Earth
- Conquer Sphere
- Kill Goat-horn Guy.
Each of those things had several steps. He’d have to visit no less than five families that supported the Dentons and use Operant Conditioning on all of them.
The pure heartstone mess was a huge part of his plan, but as it stood, he didn’t have anyone that could smith the tools except possibly the Mcdonnells.
Items three through six were a huge mess he didn’t want to dip his toes into right this second.
Was I missing anything?
Garth sat up, and pulled a Mythic Core out of his pocket. Right, these things.
Each one would make six slices, so he could make up to eighteen double sided enchantments. If he made them subdermals like last time, they’d probably be lost if he got murdered again.
Of course the point of using them was to prevent getting murdered in the first place. Garth glanced down at the body he was in currently. He didn’t plan on staying with this one permanently, so why use the Cores in a limited capacity?
So the problem was, find a way to create an object that couldn’t be lost or stolen, that he could benefit from indefinitely.
Garth only had a limited knowledge of soul-targeting magic, Magic Jar being the extent of it. He didn’t know enough to force a particular enchantment to teleport to his soul, which would be the ideal solution.
There might not even be a solution. Garth thought back to Cassius, who was too good for body modifications. Garth was starting to understand why.
Crap, decision paralysis. Garth shook his head. It would be better to get some use out of them than to put them on a dusty shelf for a special occasion that might never arrive.
The air in the corner of the room rippled, and Linda walked in, casual as can be.
Well, crap. I did give her my name.
“Hey, knock first. I’m fifteen years old. I got the internet in here. You keep barging in, you’re gonna see something you didn’t wanna see.” Garth said.
The old woman chuckled. “I didn’t think you’d still be here,” she said, spinning the nearby chair to face Garth and sitting in it. “Where’d you get that?” She asked, nodding toward the Mythic core.
“No offence, but…” Garth pulled all the mana in the room into his Lantern.
“Whatever it takes for you to feel comfortable.” Linda said with a dismissive wave.
Garth chuckled, shaking his head. “This? I got this from the Isle of Nunya.” He held the Mythic core up for her to see.
“Nunya Bizness?” Linda asked, raising a single snow-white brow above her piercing green eyes.
Garth broke into a smile.
“I’d like to know why someone who’s apparently a kid, but acts like a thirty year old man torn straight out of the twenty-first century can use a Mythic core, no scratch that, three Mythic cores, to cast highly advanced Plant magic without dying.”
“Spying on me? I thought that was impossible.”
“Gotta learn to bend the rules a little.” She said, pointing at him. “I spied on your clothes. If I just so happened to see you too while I was doing that, oh well.”
Garth glanced down at his shirt and made a note to change clothes after every major conflict with another wizard.
“So whaddya want?”
“I want what’s mine.”
Garth glanced to the side. “Okaaay. Do I…have it?”
“I want my kingdom back from the Clans. I want my planet back.”
“So who are you again?”
Linda heaved a sigh.
“I literally can’t tell you.” She said, leaning back in the seat. “I’m cursed. I can’t tell anyone who I really am, same for anyone who knows me. It makes things difficult. Makes my organization shadowy and corrupt, fills people’s hearts with fear and trepidation when they’re close to figuring out who I am, so they shy away from the truth.”
“Sounds like Operant Conditioning. Whoever cursed you probably created that spell using The Law in ancient L.A. as a template. It’s less of a curse on you, than it is a self-replicating virus spell infecting everyone, designed to subtly modify the people’s behavior. It was some of Garth Daniel’s best work, that handsome devil. The original was designed to last about a month and only infect seven hosts before killing itself to prevent mutation. The power sources were the enchanted jewelry the government whores wore, so men took it home with them like an STD before spreading it to friends and family.”
Garth chuckled. Good memories.
Her posture changed, cocking her head and staring at him, knuckles whitening.
“The spell on you seems more targeted, and possibly doesn’t have a power source, simply infecting the people and then sticking with them indefinitely. Not a safe thing to do, because of the risk of the spell mutating. If there is a power source, It’s most likely in a place where lots of people from all walks of life go religiously, like a church, or a brothel. That’s the way Garth did it, anyway.”
Garth enjoyed the way her jaw was slowly falling open, revealing metallic prosthetic teeth.
“I’ll bet you tried to remove the curse on yourself, and maybe made a little progress, were able to say your name for a day or two, but it came right back a little while later, right?”
“How do you…
“If you want to remove the curse, either get yourself a very talented wizard capable of making self-replicating spells to design a similarly infectious counterspell, or, find the source of the curse in every major city and smash it.”
Garth shrugged. “But that’s just me eyeballing the situation. I could be totally wrong.”
Linda stared at him, the old woman slowly regaining her composure and unclenching her fingers from where they had embedded themselves in Garth’s chair.
“That was an insight that opened a lot of doors for me, thank you. I’d never heard the inside details of The Law of L.A. and how it worked. Ever. From anyone.” Linda said, nodding her head. “There’s just one thing you got wrong.”
“Oh yeah?” Garth asked.
“Garth Daniels wasn’t particularly handsome. His face looked like a neanderthal fucked a very large rat.”
Must…not..self-incriminate… Garth thought, pushing down the indignation. Of course, if she was trying to bait him, it meant she was most of the way there already. Garth wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction, though.
“Huh, how do you know that, Linda? The only place I’ve seen his face was history books and tapestries. You wouldn’t happen to be a figure of myth and legend as well, would you?”
She narrowed her eyes and chuckled, standing from her chair.
“Thanks for the tip, kid, You’ve most likely broken two hundred years of deadlock, and Sandi was a stupid whore.”
“You fucking take that ba-!” Garth shouted, jumping out of his bed before icy fingers worked their way down his spine.
“See you later, Garth.” Linda said, the old woman smirking victoriously. “I don’t know how you’re still alive, but if you want help, the Prima Regula would be happy to work with you.” Mana rippled around her and she vanished, leaving a white business card fluttering to the ground.
2431 Fresnel street
Ask for the first order of the day.
“At least I still have all my teeth, you denture-wearing, geriatric bitch!” Garth shouted into the empty room.
Great, now another person knows who I am. Sooner or later there’s going to be a leak. Garth flopped back on the bed, staring at the ceiling. He needed his pure heartstones, and he needed them yesterday.
The only way I’m gonna survive the Empire finding out about me is by being badass enough to bend that horned bastard over my knee. I gotta pick up the pace.
Garth’s mental stats had been in the eighties when he bit the dust the first time, carefully cultivated over the course of two years, and he hadn’t had a chance.
The Phyto-lich class was growing significantly faster than the Phytomagus, outstripping the other’s growth rate by leaps and bounds, hopefully it would allow him to fend for himself.
Garth had bottlenecked the first time around forty before he had to increase his tier, getting rid of the Neophyte at the beginning of his Class.
I wonder how many tiers there are… Garth felt like he knew this, like it was something he’d learned while he was dead, coming back to him as a vague feeling. He felt like there couldn’t be more than twelve tiers, and there were differences between classes, so a tier two from one class might not be equal to a tier two from another.
Garth didn’t know this for sure, but he’d been tier two and ruling the western seaboard. Garth couldn’t even imagine what a tier twelve would look like.
“Sooner or later, you’re going to give in, or you’re going to go insane,” Dragus said, glaring at the intricately carved heartstone in front of him. It was a fist-sized, brilliant opalescent sphere with impossibly fine carvings creating a pattern that reflected light in a hypnotizing array of colors.
“Nuh-uh,” the heartstone said, mana glittering from it in lethal waves of existence-erasing spellwork that bounced off Dragus’s containment field.
“I’ve still got the memories of twelve thousand eight hundred and forty-three lifetimes to unpack, relive, and process. I’ll be good for another hundred and twelve thousand years, give or take, before I even start getting bored. You think you can last that long without making a mistake?”
“The game’s over. You lost.” Dragus said. “If waiting for a hundred thousand years is what it takes, then I’ll gladly do so.”
“The game’s over when it’s over.” Castavelle Dechestaland’s soul said from inside its self-imprisonment, keeping his heartstone active and absolutely lethal to consume. The stand-off between the two of them had lasted eight hundred and fifteen years, and it looked like it was only just beginning.
The ninth tier archmage’s wounded soul had reverted to its original form inside the gem, an ancient, barbarous looking elf dressed in ragged furs with a divine arrow through its stomach.
“This break is giving me plenty of time to recover.” Castavelle said, fruitlessly sawing at the glowing arrow with a stone knife.
“You’ve had thousands of years since Nyssa threw you back down to the mortal plane. All the resources you spent in that time haven’t done a thing. The arrow isn’t going to come out because it can’t come out. To do so would invalidate the will of a god. So why do you think you’ll be able to remove it now? Did you become a god last night?”
“Everybody needs a hobby. And the will of a god isn’t immutable. It’s just very, very strong.”
“All you are now is a tasty snack for men like me to advance our tiers.”
“Try it.” Castavelle said, giving Dragus a feral grin, withdrawing the waves of magic, making the heartstone appear edible. “You might like being me.”
Dragus experienced a moment of white hot rage, then laughed, the anger swiftly turning into enjoyment as he studied his ancient prey’s predicament. He had plenty of time to allow the wizard to go mad. Once that happened, he would slip out of his heartstone and be drawn into the pedestal beneath his gem, to be bound motionless for all eternity, going ever more insane.
And Dragus would eat his heartstone, becoming one step closer to godhood.
“I have all the time in the multiverse,” Dragus said, turning off the light in the shimmering quartz-lined room. “I’ll visit in another ten years or so. Maybe longer. I might get busy.”