I took a peek at Andis’ meeting with Iniri and he seemed a little bit more reserved than he had been in the throne room. So at least I’d made an impression on him. He also had called home, in the form of a divination-magic laden book that, at a guess, was paired with another one. It had words appearing in a different handwriting telling him to continue as he thought best, at any rate.
Now I didn’t just have the mage-kings to worry about, it was possible I’d find an annoyed fifth-tier at my door and have to deal with this Emperor Wright as well. With my luck, at the same time. I made some mental notes to keep an eye on the situation just in case I needed to step in, but the lid seemed to be on the pot, for now. With Ir suitably chastened I went back to working on my various projects, focusing on the ones that would bear fruit soonest.
Metallic hydrogen actually gave me a dungeon version of things. I had to perform the initial electrolysis manually, but the final steps were performed in a [Hydraulic Press] wrapped in magnets and charged with electricity, and then further charged with mana and cooled down with [Temperature Finesse]. Something in all that crossed a line and the moment the liquid hydrogen realigned I got a ping on my overlay.
Fabricator: [Celestial Metal Forge] discovered.
[Celestial Metal Forge]: Creates [Celestial Metal] from water.
Sure enough, it labeled the hydrogen as [Celestial Metal], which was accurate so far as it went. Given that it was pretty damn unlikely the magic system had seen metallic hydrogen before, it had to be using my understanding of what it was. Nobody else would know that stars ran off hydrogen, and probably thought of it as fire or light rather than the nuclear furnace it actually was.
The [Celestial Metal Forge] itself cost more or less what I expected for what I put into it. Copper, iron, storm Primals, earth Primals, Adamant Stone, Cultivated Steel, all the usual ingredients. I built one right away, considering I had plenty of spare earth and storm Primals in stock, and it ended up being a ten-meter cylinder with a pinched waist, metal for the top half and stone for the bottom half, both halves encircled by alternating storm and earth Source rings. Obviously it took a hell of a lot in terms of raw materials to make the metal, but I had infinite water and mana to spare so it wasn’t like I cared much.
“Again?” Ansae asked rhetorically. She had been busying herself with inscribing runes on metal plates, taken from her hoard of course, but whenever I was deep in experimentation she liked to watch. I didn’t really mind, because it wasn’t like she could duplicate what I was doing, and it would be awful hard to hide anyway. Besides, she often had some insight that I lacked. “It’s not as intense as that other one, but why does it make metal from lightning-treated water? What is Celestial Metal anyway?”
“It’s pretty exotic stuff. Hard to explain the process, honestly, but just think of it as a really advanced form of alchemy. It’s also kind of unstable – it tends to catch on fire and explode. Actually a good thing, I can use it to explode people I don’t like.” Most of the other uses required more infrastructure than I had access to, unless I could figure out [Mana Geometry] enough to replace computing. Predictably, Ansae’s eyes lit up.
“I’d like to see that,” she said with a toothy grin.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” I warned her. “It’s not impressive unless there’s a lot of it, and it’s well-contained. But since I have this forge, I’ll send some your way.” I lifted a glass bubble up near her and filled it with about a deciliter of the stuff. Still liquid, of course, looking almost, but not quite, like flowing mercury. As a superfluid it would never quite still, which made it look actually more magical than most of the magical materials I had access too.
This time I actually caught her using a spell. Usually I couldn’t tell how she managed her senses, which seemed to be better than anything you’d find on a military-grade vessel, but this time I saw an exquisitely shaped wisp of mana fly from her into the metal. It was one unit of mana at most; maybe less, if Ansae was capable of sub-unit precision. Which she well might be, the same way I had finer control over amounts of substance after getting [Material Precision].
I couldn’t tell what it actually did, but now I understood better why she thought my mana control was sloppy. I was at an infant-with-fingerpaints stage, aside from the dungeon-specific mechanisms, and she was past the realm of grandmastery and out the other side. Being able to build complicated structures at mana-atomic scale really emphasized her power in a way the simple numbers did not. I bet Ansae could figure out mana programming, if I introduced her to the concept. Terrifying thought.
Of course, after a couple of moments Ansae twisted her mana construct and the damn thing exploded as the stuff destabilized and cracked the glass, got exposed to ambient oxygen and went up in a rapidly-expanding ball of fire. Glass shards went everywhere, but Ansae didn’t even blink and of course the debris merely bounced off her scales.
“Not bad,” she said judiciously. “It has potential, but needs more mana if you want it to affect someone with significant Skills and levels.”
“Yeah my next step is to put it through the Anvil.” Which I hoped I could do without ruining the Anvil in question. But it’d be only a tiny amount and I had ten of them by this point and more on the way, which massively helped with the supermaterial output. Sure, I’d need several hundred to have reasonable amounts to play with, but I was able to at least start thinking about doing real things with them.
Fortunately for me, the tiny increment of metallic hydrogen didn’t spontaneously combust in the slightest. What it gave me instead was a [Stellar Fragment], which was fine so far as it went. But the stuff came with a separate counter, showing that each [Stellar Fragment] was one one-thousandth of, well, I couldn’t tell yet. Something. It wasn’t a material as such, it was an item. Or part of an item.
Naturally I couldn’t resist. It might take something like four days of anvil time, but I really wanted to see what the full thousand would net me. The curiosity was a terrible thing, and besides, it wasn’t like I didn’t have other stuff to do in the meantime.
Taelah’s idea about the deep-water crystallizers was already starting to bear fruit, as various storage crystals were slowly transmuting themselves. I could tell the mana involved was getting stronger the higher the water pressure got, so I’d have a good crop of higher-tier materials without any actual effort on my end. Not that I was hurting for mana or anything, but actually having a passive, pseudo-automated way to do it was nice. Plus, considering it was a far different process with far different mana, I was likely to end up with different results.
I also finished giving Affinities to Taelah after adding light, water, and earth to her nature Affinity, because those four were all her soul structure could support. Maybe in the future she could handle more, or the Affinities would merge together into something higher-order and I could add new ones, but for the moment that was her limit. That done, the next evening of Taelah and I spent together ended with giving her the twins she asked for.
It was the first time I’d selected the [Genesis] option, and I was half-expecting to get some sort of character creation interface or the like. Instead, I got a massive webwork of abstract patterns, all linked together to describe the nascent life Taelah would bring forth. Harmony represented valid genetic possibilities or the mana equivalent, while fragmentation and discord indicated problems or defects. I didn’t completely understand it, but I had enough feedback to figure out male or female, singlet or twins, and some of the genetic randomization needed to keep them from being clones.
I smoothed out all the spots of discord that represented potential issues, though there were damn few of them. So few, in fact, that I had to wonder if the humans had genetic tinkering in their past. Sure, I wasn’t viewing the chromosomes directly and I wouldn’t know what I was looking at if I did, but the interpretation I got suggested that genetic illnesses or significant mutations were far rarer than they ought to be. Given that dungeons could do some form of genetic engineering and supposedly all these various races came out of dungeons, maybe that wasn’t surprising.
I didn’t even have to send Shayma to tell Taelah what I’d done. She just lay there with a big smile on her face and put her hands over her belly, basking in the afterglow. I really didn’t know whether she could tell by her insight into me, by something to do with magic, or just sheer instinct.
“Mmm,” she murmured. “Thank you, husband.”
“You’re welcome, wife,” I replied, though she couldn’t hear me, and the response seemed inadequate anyway. Still, Taelah was happy.
With her asleep I turned my attentions to a far less enjoyable thing, namely my attempts to get a linear accelerator working. No matter how I approached it, I was finding it was fairly fruitless. I just didn’t have the finesse I needed, nor the instrumentation to make sure that all the bits were doing what I thought they were doing. Hell, I didn’t even have a good way to test for ions other than watching smoke curl off a hunk of Cultivated Steel when I lasered it. Even [Blue’s Sagacity] was no help, giving me not even the slightest hint how to get the thing functional. It drove home that making complicated things was extraordinarily hard without dungeon biology and mana shortcutting most of the steps.
By contrast, basic concepts were easy, as were certain types of technologies that required more knowledge than tooling. The magnetron was an example of that, since it had no moving parts and I wasn’t worried about anything but the crudest version. So I got one working, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. It’d be a decent defensive weapon, probably, but I couldn’t focus it like I could the lasers. Or could I? At the very least I could collimate it the same way, and feed it through portals. Unfortunately, since there was no mana or basic dungeon equipment involved anywhere in the construction, I didn’t get it as a mana-fueled, ready-to-build setup. It’d be something Shayma could use via [Dungeon Weaponry], but I didn’t have high hopes.
Throughout all this, the rebuilding of Tarnil went on. Hopefully soon the cities would be able to switch away from eating dungeon bait for food because it still weirded me out, but even with my Fields it took time to get stuff grown. Not to mention transported. While I could theoretically do all the transportation myself, not that I wanted to, that would kill all of Iniri’s attempts to get the economy running again.
Which would rather be the opposite of my Bargain.
Several days passed of balancing and building all my various things before one very early morning the number of [Stellar Fragments] ticked over to one thousand and formed a brand-new item. [Star Heart]. Now that was a really fantastic name, and it looked pretty spooky as well. It was a sphere of perfect black, not like my dungeon biology but like the depths of space. As usual, I didn’t get a description of what it was for, but the name gave me an idea. A terrible, wonderful, awful idea.
Since my idea was rather more dangerous than most of my stupid ideas, it did take a bit of preparation before I was satisfied enough to proceed. I chose a mountaintop way far from anything else, because I wasn’t completely stupid and wasn’t going to do this bit of experimentation anywhere near something or someone important. The seed of the thing was a [Star Heart] coated in [Firmament]. Considering the size of the [Star Heart] was about double the size of a clenched fist, that sucked up all my Firmament. Firmament might be indestructible, if things worked as I hoped I’d need something to keep the temperature contained too, so I added a layer of [Adamant Stone] on top.
It was also finally a use for the [Spatial Overlay], the weird Field that let me make two spaces a single one, since I wanted to affect the inside of the container and skip the outside completely. I had a little better handle on it now compared to when I’d first discovered it, so I could finesse it to do what I wanted, but I still was afraid I’d end up shredding everything in the end. I Relocated all the equipment to the same mountain, because I wasn’t a complete idiot even if I knew this experiment was probably an unwise idea.
The LAE portals went in a circle, aiming upward at the same point because there really wasn’t a better backstop for high-powered lasers than a couple dozen kilometers of atmosphere. The [Star Heart] with its container went nearby, on an Adamant Stone pedestal to make sure it stayed put. Then I just started up the Field and adjusted it so there was just the tiniest bit of overlap. I kept the Field relatively weak, too, hoping that if it was barely able to handle the lasers it’d simply disperse for anything more energetic. Through it all I was aware of Ansae watching with interest, and I thought about getting Shayma too, but if I was right there wouldn’t be anything for her to see. If I was wrong, I didn’t know what the minimum safe distance would be.
I activated the lasers and ignited the [Star Heart].
It wasn’t that anything happened in slow motion, but with [Genius Loci] I could see the bloom of heat and magic with unnatural clarity. A white-hot spark appeared, blasting outward and consuming the [Star Heart] in a nuclear furnace, the shockwave hitting the [Firmament] and rebounding, compressing the plasma for a second wave of fusion, the temperature shooting up to hundreds of thousands or millions of kelvin. I’d never seen a fusion explosion like this before, implacably contained by the Firmament and Adamant Stone.
The mana was boiling too, supercharged by the violence contained within the Firmament and wildly unstable. It was like a gravitational pull, wanting to collapse into something, anything that wasn’t completely unknown. The frantic motion seemed to match the hellish boil of the trapped plasma, looking like convection patterns more than anything else. The whole thing seemed like a contained star.
The world twisted. It was a strange lurching, falling sort of feeling, even though nothing physical moved, making my mind reel in a way that it hadn’t since the very first day. It was a massive cognitive load, though I didn’t know exactly how, as the mana inside the ultra-hot plasma shifted and realigned, reaching out to link in the [Firmament] and [Adamant Stone]. Though it happened quickly, there was such an enormous, unstoppable momentum to it that everything seemed to move quite slowly, grinding forward until it all clicked into place and dawn came to the mountains of Tarnil.
New Affinity Created: Stellar Affinity.
Origin Relic Created: [Contained Star]
A miniature sun floated inside a transparent bubble atop the pedestal I’d made for it, blue-white and blazing, complete with tiny sunspots and prominences and visible rotation. I boggled at it, partly because it was an actual star, and partly because it was giving off more than just light. An immense outpouring of a new Affinity, the stellar Affinity, saturated the air and the ground and cascaded down the sides of the mountain. It plunged into the mana of both Tarnil and Nivir, sending ripples that I couldn’t keep track of even though I was Tarnil. I could feel it too, a sort of warmth that I didn’t quite get from any other sort of mana.
Several hundred kilometers away, Iniri sat bolt upright in her bed.
Several hundred meters below my core, Ansae stood slack-jawed and staring.
Both Shayma and Taelah stirred and blinked awake, though their reactions weren’t nearly as extreme. In fact, all across Tarnil people woke and made muzzy noises of confusion as a veritable tsunami of new Affinity mana swept over them. In their disparate places everyone spoke at once, different words but the same intention.
What the abyss did you just do?
The problem was, I didn’t really know. I hadn’t seen that “Calculating…” message since the very first Bargain, and to see it now made me think I’d done something that my overlay was having a really hard time with. I would have thought it was Power level stuff if not for [Blue’s Sagacity] disagreeing, because a new Affinity could not be something that was common. Unheard of, maybe.
Then there was the [Contained Star]. It wasn’t just a bauble or a passive item or even an Artifact. Origin Relic was a unique term that I’d never seen before, and besides that it radiated power and potential, mana-mediated fusion churning out energy both physical and magical. This was a star, however small, one of those mind-bogglingly vast and energetic objects that gave life to entire worlds. I had no idea what I could do with it, I was still too stunned to consider that, but I could feel its power even as the light’s brilliance dimmed toward a level that wouldn’t instantly blind any flesh-and-blood that got near it. Or rather, it wasn’t so much that it dimmed as the container solidified, settling into place. I could tell I was still able to pull back on that protection, giving it back its former scorching brilliance, or maybe even unleash it entirely. Not that I was about to do that, as the surrounding stone was still half-slagged, leaving only the Adamant Stone unmarked.
“Okay, I think I’ll want to gather everyone up so they can see this,” I decided. “Shayma, if you could go pick up Iniri and Taelah, and I’ll make us a conference room.” Maybe I could have used the Palace, and there were certainly enough meeting places there, but this was not exactly a Tarnil thing. This was mine. “Ansae, you’re invited too. Amazon form, I think. I’ll put a portal in.”
It turned out I still had the room from when I discussed my Status with Iniri and Ansae, pretty much forgotten and abandoned, but it was the work of a moment to enlarge it, spruce it up, and add a bit of greenery. The [Contained Star] went in the middle of the table, maybe fifteen centimeters across and floating easily above the tabletop pedestal I made for it. I tried putting glasses down by it, but the thing had a gravitational pull to it that made the cup topple over and pulled some of the water into a rough ring about it. The gravity diminished severely outside the surface of the containment, falling to nothing after maybe a meter, but it was still an impressive effect.
Ansae fairly ran to the portal, shifting down to her amazon form and bursting into the conference room to stare greedily at the glowing star. She reached out to touch it and then stopped, probably seeing the same thing I was. Though the exterior surface was only hot enough to scorch flesh and the heat dropped off with unnatural speed, the actual star inside was hundreds of thousands of kelvin, well into exotic star territory. Even she had to be leery of putting her flesh near something that hot.
She compromised by opening her muzzle and sucking down great quantities of the stellar mana pouring out of the star, like chugging a keg of ale. I didn’t have any reasonable way to measure mana amounts outside of my own storage, but I had to guess she drank down several thousand points of the stuff. I kept an eye on her stats and they didn’t budge, so she clearly wasn’t putting them toward that. It seemed to be going right into her body-mana, and even with the amount she was drinking down I didn’t see it make any appreciable difference.
“That is delicious,” she stated, dropping down into the oversized chair I’d made for her. “Marvelously complex. Notes of fire, gravity, light, and kinetic, a whisper of wind, overtones of pressure, and other things I’ve never tasted before.” I knew she was a thaumovore, that she could taste mana, and I’d even see her do so before, but hearing Ansae critique it like fine wine was a still incredibly weird.
“I’ll fill you in on everything once everyone else gets here,” I said, partly because I didn’t want to repeat myself and partly because I figured my Companions had the right to hear it first. The ring of water that was slowly circling the star de-orbited from air resistance, nearing the surface and then boiling into vapor. It dispersed into the air, leaving the star bare once again. “But first could you check that it’s safe for more mortal people to be near it? Stars can emit some nasty stuff and I suspect it’s blocked or attenuated by the containment, but I’d like to doublecheck.”
Ansae cocked her head, focusing on the star before nodding.
“Shayma could probably hold it, but I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone else. So long as they don’t get that close, there’s nothing particularly dangerous aside from the sheer amount of mana.”
“Great! Thank you.”
Taelah arrived a few moments after Ansae reassured me, heading through her own portal to join Ansae in the conference room. Her reaction was gratifying as she gawked and stared, then quickly recovered and made for one of the chairs. She even gave Ansae a wave as she sat.
“Lady Ansae,” she said politely.
“Companion Taelah,” Ansae returned with a toothy grin.
Shayma and Iniri weren’t far behind, and Taelah automatically got to her feet again as Iniri entered the room. I’d have to have Shayma remind her that she didn’t need to do that anymore, but that could wait until later. Both of my companions had more or less the same response, blinking and staring at the floating star and its prodigious outpouring of mana.
“So!” I said, once everyone was seated. “I made a new Affinity. Stellar Affinity, and this is a [Contained Star], which as you can tell generates the stuff. I wasn’t actually trying to do anything that dramatic but apparently I just can’t help myself. Now, I have no idea what the ramifications of any of this will be, but stellar Affinity is already mingling into Tarnil’s mana.”
“Blue, you’re just…” Shayma just shook her head before filling in Iniri and Taelah.
“I’ve never heard of a new Affinity being created,” Iniri said. “I didn’t even know that was possible. Which is something I say a lot when it comes to Blue, but I can’t even imagine what this could mean.”
“New Affinities are found sometimes,” Ansae rumbled. “But I haven’t heard of one for thousands of years, and it’s always been merely someone discovering it, not creating it. Even with my Primal Affinity, I wasn’t credited with creating it. Not that Primal is exactly a new Affinity…” She waved her claws dismissively. “Regardless, even I couldn’t tell you what the consequences may be. I can tell you that this is an incredibly potent Affinity, a much higher order than most.”
“Is that really what stars look like?” Taelah asked, still marveling at the roiling surface.
“Yes. Also what the sun looks like, for that matter. It’s a different color, admittedly.”
Taelah looked surprised, but Ansae nodded confirmation. Of course. I hadn’t thought about it but with her senses she absolutely could see the local primary as something other than a big disc of light.
“You’ve brought the heavens down to earth,” Taelah said, reaching out a hand toward the star and stopping far enough away that she could feel its heat without getting scorched. “That feels like it’s beyond important.”
“I’m surprised this isn’t an Artifact,” Ansae agreed. “It’s something that probably shouldn’t exist to begin with, just by the sheer energy I can feel inside it.”
“Oh, come on, Ansae,” Shayma said with a grin. “You should be used to Blue doing stuff like this by now. Impossible this, impossible that, it doesn’t seem to make a difference for him.” Both Iniri and Taelah looked almost shocked by Shayma being daring enough to needle Ansae, but the dragon just laughed toothily.
“A good point,” she noted.
“Speaking of it not being an Artifact, it does say it’s an Origin Relic. Any idea what that is?”
“Actually, I do. You usually find them at the heart of Mana Springs, where the sheer amount of mana has accumulated enough to tip something over into producing mana spontaneously. My dagger is made from one, and that one came from the heart of an ocean. That you can just make yours means that if nothing else this place is going to end up with a lot of Stellar mana.”
“I can’t imagine this would be bad for Tarnil,” Iniri said as she stared at the tiny sun. “It doesn’t feel like void mana or anything. So long as it doesn’t have any effects like that, I think we can only benefit. Already I can sense that Tarnil seems to have…” She pursed her lips for a moment. “More energy, I think.
“As amazing as this is, I’m not fully certain what to do with it. Though I guess I could link it into my mana dynamos?”
“You absolutely should,” Ansae agreed. “But it’s impossible to tell what this Affinity can do without seeing people start to use it. Though since you made it you ought to have some inkling of the ideas and intents behind it. You must know more about stars than any of us.”
“Oh, yikes. Wielding the power of stars.” I considered it, knowing what a fully harnessed star could do. Though there wasn’t just the physical aspect of the star, even if that was a big one. Ansae had already named many of the physical properties that someone who could channel stellar Affinity could handle. Heat and light – in abundance – the stellar wind, crushing gravity, extreme pressures. But there were also the connotations of distance, aloofness, of the cosmically unknowable. The night sky, and the heavens. I was sure it’d end up touching any of the world’s beliefs about stars, astrology, maybe even meteorites, confused with stars as they might be. “Yeah, it could be very powerful. Destructive, but then considering it’s also like the sun, lifegiving.”
“It’s a shame you can’t cast spells,” Ansae said. “This [Contained Star] is a tremendously powerful energy source.”
“I mean, it’s not like I’m lacking in mana anyway.”
“I’m feeling more awake just being near it.” Taelah said. “And I can’t wait to see how this affects all my plants.”
“I kind of want one,” Shayma admitted. “It’s gorgeous. Fun to watch, too.”
“It ate up all my [Firmament] and all my [Stellar Fragments],” I complained. “It’s ridiculously expensive. It’ll take me at least a week to make another one and that’s not using my Anvils for anything else. I’ve got to figure out what I want to spend my Anvil time on.” One argument for making another [Contained Star] was that it was a really, hilariously potent weapon if I let it loose. Maybe too potent; I wouldn’t want to try unleashing the thing anywhere near anything I wanted to keep.
Unlike the laser, this definitely had its own mana. I’d dumped over a million of my own into the ingredients for it and it was producing more every second, so it wasn’t like it’d be shut down by simple magical darkness. That didn’t mean I could necessarily aim it, though, or that it’d do anything but devastate everything nearby. Plus, if I plugged one into my mana dynamos, or at least some of my mana dynamos, I wasn’t sure what would happen if I ripped it out to use as a weapon. Still, it was as close to a superweapon as I had so I was at the very least going to make a second one.
“A week, he says,” Ansae snorted. “To make something of that magnitude.”
“…yeah okay maybe that’s silly to complain about.” I’d have to at the very least make one for each of my Companions, plus one to trade to Ansae. Maybe one for each dynamo, when I saw what effect it had on my mana and my materials. One for Shayma’s Smithery, because a stellar forge sounded awesome, and the same for the Alchemistry. I was already seeing months of production slip away as I speculated on it.
“There may be those who have noticed this new outpouring of unique mana, too,” Ansae noted. “It’s not as dramatic as it might be, but as it goes out into the world, someone will eventually realize what it means.”
“Great, because I need more trouble.” Though, I felt a little more certain about my ability to deal with trouble now that I had mana-mediated fusion on my side. “Anyway, I figured you should all know what I just did since I seem to have woken up basically everyone. Besides, I figured making a new Affinity might have consequences we all have to deal with, and I didn’t want to spring it on anyone as a surprise.”
“I appreciate that,” Iniri said, rubbing her temples. “In fact, I hope that it helps. We’re going to start distributing the food from Nivir and Haerlish tomorrow, and packed salted fish is not quite as tasty as dungeon food, apparently. This new Affinity does make Tarnil feel a little bit livelier, so I hope it’ll offset the grumbling.”
“Well that’s all I have. Sorry to wake you all up but I really wasn’t anticipating such a significant result from what I was doing.”
“You probably should,” said Taelah with a slight smile. “Nothing you do is insignificant, husband.”
The meeting broke up after that, everyone returning to their beds – all but for Ansae, who stayed and focused on the Star. Fortunately for her I didn’t need to move it anywhere to link it into my local dynamos, given how much mana was pouring out of it. It did take me a few moments to figure out how to get it integrated properly, since it wasn’t like my normal mana flows. Instead of it snapping into place like my personal mana, generated by the Chrystheniums, I had to make a sort of collector or bridge, moving it from ambient and splashing everywhere into the rapids of the dynamo flow.
When it hit the Climates, night fell. The ceilings of each environment shifted, becoming spattered with stars and lit by moons. A meteorite streaked through the desert Climate’s sky and I gawked as it proved itself real, smashing down into a crater a few meters in diameter with a frost-steaming hunk of space rock at the center of a stretch of mana-laden rainbowed glass.
The normal plants and flowers closed up, chrystheniums included, but some of them spread different, previously unseen, leaves and blossoms to catch the moonlight and starlight. The night plants were dark and delicate, the Climates quiet. Even the volcano seemed to dim, the languid lines of lava drawing highlights on the cone. Conversely, the glacier almost glowed under a dancing blue-green aurora, dyeing the ice in soft, shimmering shades.
It added to my mana dynamo, of course, but more important than the quantity of mana it was generating was the quality of mana saturating myself and all my environments. It was still the pure stuff, my no-intent Affinities, but it was more robust. Rather like upgrading the number of colors in my palette, it was no less crisp for having more tones. Of course, all this metaphor couldn’t properly convey what it was like; mana sense was its own unique experience with dimensions that I had no names for.
I really didn’t do much beyond necessary maintenance, just watching my newly changed Climates until the sun came up, admiring the skies and the celestial lightshow, as well as the night skins of my chrystheniums and other plants. When day dawned outside, so too did it dawn inside, and with the blue-white of the star I’d linked in rather than the yellow primary of the world’s sun. If nothing else, my [Contained Star] had given me a real sky.