Of all the things I did not want to think about, being invaded by a gigantic horde of insane and hungry undead magic eaters was definitely one of them. The only comfort was further research that I made Gungnir do in a frantic hurry which revealed that it would probably take hundreds of years before the undead could make any headway towards the equator with their cloud of magical darkness. The sun’s rays are just too strong near the equator for the Hungry Ones to extend their power that far. What this means for the Temperate Zones, thankfully, is that I shouldn’t see them for quite some time. Apparently the zombies I had killed so far weren’t the “Hungry Ones”, because they came from a different kind of magic, one less evil than the other even though I didn’t understand Gungnir’s attempts to explain.


  Honestly, I really didn’t care to take the time to figure that out right now. According to what we pulled out of Rath, this has happened before on other planets and planes the dragon has lived on. The funniest thing Gungnir pulled out of the lizard’s brain was a memory of the undead invading a desert planet that had an ocean of magma covering a decent chunk of surface area. Needless to say, that invasion didn’t last long.


  “Hey, you might wanna take a look at this,” Gungnir said, interrupting my train of thinking, “My generator ain’t working the same right now.”


  I took the floating orb in my hands and pushed my magical senses into it, reaching inside with my magic and pulling out the matter to mana generator and setting it in front of me. Gungnir was right, something was screwed up. The enchantments holding the process together weren’t handling the energy flow properly, almost as if they simply weren’t strong enough, as if someone had replaced a steel strut in a car with wood. “What the hell did you do?” I asked Gungnir, tossing it back into the air while I examined the giant rock.


  “It wasn’t me, honest,” it answered, “I mean, yours ain’t doing too hot either.”


  “Shit!” I exclaimed, pulling off my personal generator. The emergency shut-off hadn’t activated, but the entire enchantment was wearing down on all sides. If this keeps up, my endless supply of power concept will cripple some of my long-term plans. Hold up a second. Shutting off the personal generator and the one I took out of Gungnir, I ran to the main generator in the center of the cavern scanning it very carefully with my magical senses. This one wasn’t breaking down or wearing out.


  “My mana, my beautiful mana,” Gungnir whined, pulsing pink and purple lights while playing soft violin music, “You gotta fix it!”


  “When the hell have you been able to play music?” I asked, a little bewildered by the strange ability. I didn’t stop scanning the generators, but I just had to know.


  “Well, I copied all the music from your mind, in the correct key cause you can’t sing, and then the rest of it from Rath’s mind. Did you know he spent a 100 years on the other side of a Gate in Louisiana, just listening to music from a bar? That lizard has heard everything!” Gungnir rambled on, “And Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, what a time to be alive?! Can’t believe we missed all of that!”


  Gungnir was also a jukebox. Great. And the fact that the stupid orb didn’t get tired meant that it was a 24 hour jukebox, randomly switching between Bayou Beats and classic rock with interjections of Bach to my pain and pleasure. I spent the next two days working on the damn generators, trying to get them figured out. The answer finally hit me the morning of the sixth Ripple when I just got pissed at Gungnir and out of anger made Gungnir’s former generator grow to a huge size just so it wouldn’t fit inside of it anymore. But really, Gungnir pointed it out.


  “DUDE! LOOK!” it screamed, shooting a beam of red light at the generator. Our mental communication happened faster than words but my magical senses revealed to me what was going on. My fit of anger actually solved the problem. Making the stone matter to mana generator bigger stabilized the process. The issue wasn’t that the enchantments weren’t stable enough, it’s that they weren’t big enough, they couldn’t hold up under the “current” or “flow” of mana that was being generated. The generator itself had to be bigger. As magic enters our earth, saturating everything, the level of prevalent energy rises. Imagine the mana from the generator as a little river with a little dam, and now that the Ripples have begun strengthening and changing every magical process, that little river quickly became a big river, which needs a bigger dam. Now, it’s being flooded with mana and a dam needs to be rebuilt to contain or channel the constantly growing outlet. That was my problem. The generators could be small in the beginning because Earth wasn’t fully integrated with the rest of the Universe where the mana levels are exponentially higher. This probably means that I’m going to have to find another portable source of mana, crap.


  “So size does matter!”


  “Shut it Gungnir,” I snapped, “This screws you over just as much as it does me. We’re gonna have to find something else. Big generators are perfect for the cavern and Yggdrasil’s sapling, and tapping the kinetic flow of the river works great for the runes of the cavern, but none of that is portable. Dig around in Rath’s head and see what works the best at holding raw energy.”


  “Fine, fine, such a pansy,” Gungnir whined, bobbing away, “It’s not like you couldn’t easily fix yourself to carry more mana or generate more. Or hell, even walk along a ley line to fill up on it.”


  Stupid orb. Stupid, crazy, whiny, BRILLIANT ORB! Oh so many ideas, so little time! I knew the Ripple was coming soon, probably today, and I could handle it, but I had lost track of time. The Ripple brings change, pure, unadulterated Change. My beasts bonds probably won’t stick if I can’t get the animals here and shielded. Also, I really didn’t know if I could shield them all, Gungnir has been tested to show that it can absorb the raw energy of a dying deity of Chaos, but Svalinn hasn’t been tested in that realm yet. And all of my mineral and nature experiments are here in the cavern so I won’t lose them like last time.


  “Gungnir! You’re on guard duty! Stay no more than three feet away from me and make sure that the Ripple doesn’t kill me. Absorb as much raw Chaos as you can and see if you can solidify it if at all possible. Also, summon all of the beasts that you can reach to the cavern and we’ll see if we can shield some of them too. We might end up saying goodbye to Norn and Gator . . “


  “Jaws! His name is Jaws!” Gungnir interrupted.


  “That’s a stupid name. Jaws is a shark movie . . “


  “So, you said I could name it, and since we aren’t going to the ocean anytime soon, WHERE WE WOULD RULE, I’m naming him Jaws.”


  “Fine, we may have to say goodbye to Norn, Jaws and Kong for now because we still have Ripple number seven to contend with,” I said, “And fighting them twice to dominate them is a total pain.”


  “They’re here!” Gungnir sang in my head while outwardly playing its own rendition “Happy Birthday to Me”. A minor stampede of animal flesh crowded inside the cavern, which I immediately began enlarging. Kong was carrying the snake chimera John on his back while pups 1-8 ran between his legs before darting to lounge around petrified Spot. “Hey, where’s the rest of them?” my saddened orb pouted, zipping around the disorganized zoo. Three eagle sized crows flew threw the cavern door. “Norn!” Gungnir screamed, joining the three birds in flight.


  “What? What are you . . “


  “Oh yeah, forgot to tell ya. Norn figured out how to split up into smaller versions of himself,” Gungnir said, “Smaller and faster and can cover more ground, and when they spot big prey, they combine back to giant Norn!”


  Looking closer, I saw that the smaller versions of my first bonded beast actually were smaller versions of him. Magic is fucking cool.


“The tree is consumed, the seed set adrift.”


“Sunder the bonds, shatter your chains.”


“Rise from my fall, grasp what you will.”


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