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  Magic is an incredible force, but sorcery is just awesome. The raw understanding of the various parts of magic combined with the soul-entrenched authority to make it bend to your will is a drug that will never get old. Using Gungnir, my old weapon that had become my paraclete, my focus, the materials I had gathered in front of me melted before my eyes under the flow of incredible power. I projected my will and the image of what I desired through the powerful flow of mana using Gungnir as the governor and forklift for the load. The generator is the only reason this was even possible, the nuclear reactor of mana powered the entire process that would have otherwise killed me. Gungnir handled most of the channeling itself as couldn’t harm him at this level. But what my weak body could not do was more than made up by the creativity of my soft brain. Even though my hands were holding the usually talkative orb, I could almost feel ethereal hands of mine grasping the liquid ingredients and shaping them, molding them to the image in my head. I already had a name picked out, Svalinn. The mythical Norse shield that protects the Earth from the deadliest of our Sun’s rays. A fitting name for that which was forged with dragon bone, precious metals, sorcery, and the wood of the World Tree.

 

  The completion of the process was actually finished by Gungnir, it took care of the small details and measurements while I channeled images of how it would look and function to my mini-souled satellite. I am weak, for now, but I will get stronger. In many ways, I needed something that would serve me a lot longer than a plain staff or weapon. It felt like ten minutes, from the time I began sending Gungnir the images of what I wanted to me standing over the masterpiece. It was beautiful. The shield is diamond shaped, edged with the dark blue of my water sorcery and shot through with solid browns of earth. The blue was embossed with dragon bone and the back was framed with Yggdrasil. Runes of gold and silver were etched into the bone and stone, and the centerpiece of the Shield were two clenched fists gripping the symbol of eternity that had a blade protruding from each side. Picking it up almost knocked me over as it felt weightless, the shield responding to my sorceries like a long lost lover returning home.

 

  The back of the shield had two arm braces on top of each other, but rotated ninety degrees than a normal shield had. Perfect. I put both of my arms in there and pulled them apart. Svalinn separated down the middle, forming two shield blades along my forearms. Flexing each aspect of my magic molded the structure of the shield so that they became full-length, from shoulder to knuckles, gauntlets. As gauntlets, the runes lined up, forming channels where magic could be stored and unleashed by a mere thought. I put my arms together in front of me, as if I were bracing a tower shield, and it manifested in front of me, so smooth that no sound was made from the startling entrance.

 

  “NOW THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!” Gungnir screamed, “WHO’S THE BEST?! I’M THE BEST! And you don’t even know the best part!”

 

  I flexed my will and Svalinn became gauntlets again. “Come on now, I helped make it, what’ja do?”

 

  “I channeled all of Rath’s soul energy and sorcery into the forging! Who’s so smart?! I’m so smart!”

  “What the hell does that even mean?” I said, starting to freak out a little, “You put the damn dragon in here? He wants to eat me remember? Or are you just too drunk on power to think about that??”

 

  “No, no, not his brain or soul, his soul energy and sorcery. Dragons eat sorcery which gets converted to make their own kind, like Rath’s was fire, even stronger. You tried to eat it but couldn’t because you’re not a dragon, duh. So, I stuck it in the shield.” Gungnir explained, “And because it’s in the shield, that thing, and by extension you, are immune to fire blasts of any kind. And combined with your sorcery with the runes in there, that shield can turn into gauntlets with blades or channel or protect you from magic way too powerful for you.”

 

  I had just imagined a shield powerful enough to fend off the sun. Gungnir went about ten thousand miles past that. “I mean, I kinda did,” it said reading my thoughts, “I’m not a spear anymore, and you needed something else to keep you alive while I float around and blow stuff up.”

 

  I stretched out an arm and channeled a mix of earth and water sorcery into it. A reinforced blade of tungsten came out the front above my knuckles while spikes of ice grew out of the top of my arm from the elbow to my shoulder. Just to try it out, I channeled some nature sorcery into it and vines popped out underneath the joining scales forming a braided whip with a ball of thorns at the end of it.

 

  “And the other best part, other than being completely fireproof,” Gungnir added, “Is that I left the enchantment tied to your flesh sorcery but open in case you learn of something awesome that you want to add.”

 

  It began to hit me that I was becoming less like a human as the days rolled by. Innocence stripped away through violence and betrayal. Kindness removed by loss and pain. Trust eroded by power. Is that what it takes to survive in a world touched by mana, monsters and deities? Don’t get me wrong, these abilities are beyond fucking awesome, but everything has a cost, a consequence. I may have already paid those consequences, but I sure as hell didn’t look at the receipt when I did.

  My soul was weary. The loss of mental energy combined with the exhausting effort of crafting Svalinn left me vulnerable to the more despondent side of humanity. That, or my blood sugar was low. Wolfing down a can of clam chowder and drinking water helped, but I couldn’t help but think about the radical changes this planet has gone through, and what I have gone through because of that.

 

  “YO!” Gungnir mentally blasted at the walls of my mind, “Knock it off and get yo fat butt up! We have bridges to burn and bitches to get!”

 

  The profanity of the floating orb combined with its ironic statement put a quick stop to the downward spiral of introspective darkness. The chuckle turned into a laugh which then rocked into full-blown belly laughing. “I’m not kidding! We have gates to find and close and creatures to hunt and aliens to run off and man the list just keeps on getting bigger! Maybe find some leftover humans and bring them here, then be king!”

 

  Leftover humans huh? I like that idea, but not the ruling part. People are trouble, too much trouble, which I don’t want to deal with. “Yes, people are trouble,” Gungnir said, “But you are people too, and that comes with a sex drive and a need for company.”

 

  “I can tone down or turn of my sex drive with sorcery,” I retorted, “Besides, that’s when we men do stupid things, when we’re horny and there’s some hot chick in distress. Mute that drive and suddenly I have forty more IQ points than normal. Besides, taken remember?” I gestured in the general direction of Yggdrasil’s main Earth sapling.

 

  “Four THOUSAND years remember?” Gungnir came back, “That’s a long time for one woman.” Damn orb had a point. I don’t like it, but still had a point.

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