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A note from Arcs

There is a very large box in early on in this chapter that might not translate well to mobile. Sorry!

Erick eventually reached a landing at the top of the grey stone stairs. Chairs had been set out like in a small waiting room, while a desk sat in front of an open door. In the other direction was the exterior wall and a great big picture window, giving a wide view of the south. The city of Spur spread out before Erick, and above the grey and orange and yellow stone, loomed the mountainous walls of Ar’Kendrithyst, far in the distance.

Eh-hem.”

Erick turned around. Bluescale, Zago’s messenger kid, stood in the doorway to Zago’s laboratory.

Bluescale said, “She’ll see you now,” then took his space at the desk.

Thanks,” Erick said, as he walked through the open door.

Poi stayed behind. The door remained open.

Zago’s laboratory took up almost the entirety of the top floor of the guildhouse’s larger tower, and though they called it a ‘laboratory’, the room was half as much an office as anything else. Yellow and teal were the dominant colors of the rugs, the drapes, and the fabric cushions of comfy looking chairs. The room was rather similar to Silverite’s office, with collections of books on shelves and doodads everywhere they could fit. But there were also tables set with magic circles, and spiny magic orbs that hovered in one corner of the spacious, greystone room. Two cats, one black one white, lounged in the sun next to a window.

A great many chalkboards on rolling stands had been scattered around the room, some around tables and full of arcane symbols, some layered against a wall. Zago stood in front of one of the chalkboards right now, but it was a big metal chalkboard; not a thing made of slate like most of the rest of the boards. Dozens of small pieces of paper had been attached to the metal with what were likely magnets, in a grid that could have contained a hundred such papers.

Guildmaster Zago noticed Erick. “Archmage Flatt.” She was floating a book in front of her, but she moved that to a nearby table, setting it on top of several other open books. “Good to see you.” She gestured toward the metal board. “Care to see how many new spells have been discovered, so far?”

Erick was suddenly very interested in that metal chalkboard. He walked over.

 

Minor

Small

Medium

Large

Very large

S. L. R.

Force Bolt

Someone x2

Someone x1

Someone x1

F. Shrapnel

Someone x2

Someone x2

Someone x1

F. Wave

Someone x3

Someone x1

Someone x3

F. Bomb

Someone x1

Someone x3

Someone x2

F. Beam

Someone x2

Someone x2

Someone x1

F. Trap

F. Crash

Someone x2

Someone x1

Someone x1

F. Wall

Someone x3

Someone x2

Someone x1

F. Platform

Conjure Item

Someone x2

Someone x1

Someone x1

C. Weapon

Someone x1

Someone x1

Someone x1

C. Armor

Someone x2

Someone x1

Someone x1

Stoneshape

Impossible?

Watershape

Headmaster

Headmaster

Headmaster

Flatt?

Airshape

Impossible?

Fireshape

Maia

Maia

Maia

Lightshape

Impossible?

Shadowshape

Impossible?

Cold

Eduard

Eduard

Eduard

Hot

Maia

Maia

Eduard

Electric

Zago

Zago

Zago

Flatt?

!Metalshape!

Someone x15

 

Erick studied the board for a while. The ‘someones’ were actual names, but there was no way in hell Erick would remember any of them. He did take note of some of the names, though. Zago, Maia, Eduard, and the Headmaster were all up there. He was up there too, as the only name on the right hand side of the board, and in two different places.

Now that he was looking… What was [Call Lightning]? It could have been advanced [Watershape] for sure, but also [Airshape]. But the last line on the board, ‘electric’, was probably the proper place for [Call Lightning]. But that still didn’t seem right. Now that he really considered everything in front of him, Erick knew he wouldn’t have put his spell on this board.

Erick said, “Particle Magic doesn’t follow the style of the other schools. This doesn’t make sense.”

Yes, I agree.” Zago said, “This system is wholly inadequate, but it's the one being used around the world right now, for those of us in this exploding community. The inadequacies of this system showed themselves early, when people started inventing multiples for the same category. Metalshape in particular is prolific, like we had no real understanding of metal at all! It’s almost criminal how much we did not know.”

A lot of particles are metallic, so that made sense to Erick. If only they had a periodic table instead of this mess, they’d have a much easier time.

But wouldn’t interacting with individual particles be against the Infinitesimal Ban? Erick would have to save that question for later; Zago still had more to say.

Zago pointed to the minor [Metalshape] box, saying, “All of the new [Metalshape] spells seem to be about refining metals out of ore in a way that is much easier than using [Metalshape]. The new spells don’t seem capable of much more than that, but with a basic understanding of particles as discrete objects, getting the tier two spell [Goldshape] out of [Metalshape] is so much easier than before. But someone went and invented [Gold Grab]. Basic, tier 1 Particle spell. I expect that to be made illegal; possibly even registrar restricted, like [Create Food and Water]. After [Gold Grab] happened, [Silver Grab] and [Platinum Grab] were quickly invented. Thank the Demons none of that happened here.”

I would think targeting a specific atom like gold would be against the Infinitesimal Ban.”

Zago paused. She hummed. She said, “It’s possible that all of the ‘atoms’ of gold are in fact ‘molecules’?” Zago paused again. She turned and wrote something in a book beside her. She said “These new spells could actually be missing a fair bit of gold. Maybe if we used some sort of mechanical process to make the gold individualized… That could solve these looming currency problems?” She didn’t sound very sure of herself. “Maybe.”

Erick saw people inventing new spells, and for the first time, felt a strange worry. “Are you concerned about using up the magic?”

Zago turned and looked at Erick funny. She paused. “Oh? You’re serious?” She looked at the board. She paused. “No. I don’t think it’s possible to ‘use up’ the magic. Mana can neither be created, nor destroyed, only change shape and function.” Zago explained, “That’s something we’ve tested so many times, it’s in Introduction to Magic, 101. Principles of Magic. The major proof of this can be validated in any antirhine chamber, which any accredited arcanaeum possesses. With all of manasphere cut off, save for what is inside the chamber, a person inside casts [Cleanse], or any other non-destructive spell, as much as they are capable. The level of ambient mana in the chamber never drops. The record is 1 year inside. This concern you have is irrelevant, because we know for a fact that mana does not ‘get used up’.”

I’ve never heard of ‘antirhine’. Is it a very heavy grey metal, ductile and malleable? Soft, in its pure form?”

Zago stared at him, “… You know what antirhine is. What it actually is.”

Erick smirked, then changed the subject. “So mana is a particle. Like water. It never goes away, only changes form.”

Zago dropped a piece of paper she had been holding. She stared at the board.

She laughed, then picked up her paper, saying, “You gave me a fright. Ah. No. Mana is not a Particle particle. You cannot hold a cup of mana, but mana exists in the cup you’re holding. It might be a Particle, but not one capable of interaction outside of magic.” She smiled. She paused. “That’s an interesting concept, though.” She paused. She exclaimed, “That’s how antirhine is able to block mana!” She scribbled down a quick note on the book beside her. “Interesting theory, Archmage Flatt!”

Erick smiled. He had tried to hide something from Zago, but instead revealed something else.

Erick returned to the board. “Has no one unlocked Particle Mage yet? I assume that’s why everything Large and above is still blank.”

You are correct.” Zago stepped to his side. “The Class, like the spells you invented, won’t be available for another year. The rest of us might be plundering the ability points on the lower rungs, but you have an entire year to create the stuff at the top.”

Erick poked Zago’s name on the Electric line. “I see that.”

Zago smiled at him, her violet face briefly turning a shade darker. She gave a run down on the spells she had invented. “[Small Shock], pretty much exactly like the experiment. Minimal personal damage but that can be negated with a personal [Weather Ward]. [Electric Link], designate two close targets and they both shock each other for minimal damage whenever they’re two or less meters apart. That one’s a good one. So many applications for crowd control. [Shocking Curse], designate a medium range target and for the next 10 minutes they take damage from moving. [Weather Wards] negate all electric effects, but everyone picks a damage absorption [Ward] unless you’re flying somewhere, and unless you’re a Wardmage, you can only have one personal [Ward] at a time. Of course none of that matters against monsters. The vast majority of them don’t have [Ward]s. And it’s cheap enough to throw a [Weather Ward] at your feet and dismiss it if you’re forced to move.”

Erick had been thinking about a spell like [Electric Link]. That’s why he had created those two stone spheres on the roof of the Sewerhouse. If he hadn’t chickened out, would he have created the spell before Zago?

When did you make [Electric Link]? I was thinking of the same thing.”

The night after your first lecture.”

Erick laughed. “Truly?”

Yes.” Zago said, “Some of my contacts— Overzealous spies that I have already told to stop, really… They reported that you attempted something with two stone orbs on the Sewerhouse a few days ago. Sorry. It would not have worked. I got there first. [Electric Link] was the very first one I tried to make. I only went and did [Small Shock] for another ability point.”

I’m not mad.” Erick looked up at the empty half of the board. “I can just take the smaller spells of others and do them myself on a much larger scale, for 3 ability points for each one.”

Zago stared at Erick.

Yes!” She laughed loud and sudden, throwing her head back to let it all out. “You can do that! I did not expect that from you.”

"Everyone has surprises sometimes." Erick smiled as he gazed upon the half filled side of the board. “And that still leaves other people to learn more about the universe Veird has been in for the last 1400 years.”

And it’s just so very different, isn’t it?” Zago said, “All of these Particle spells are vastly cheaper than normal spells, too. In my opinion, that is the big game changer. And! There might be just as many variations of Particle Spells as there are with Mana Altering and the Force spells. This is like doubling the Force school of magic. There are drawbacks to Particle spells mainly of the [Ward] variety, and the fact that each spell only does one thing.” She explained, “That’s actually the largest drawback to Particle Magic. Each spell only does one thing, but each spell still requires 1 point to buy, whereas you can make variations for every occasion by spending 2 points with [Force Bolt] and Mana Altering, for example. But you can’t use Mana Altering with any Particle spell.”

Mana Shaping still works.”

She conceded, “Mana Shaping still works, of course. I foresee Particle Magic becoming a highly popular branch of magic, but in the way that most things are popular; Some delve deep into a subject, while the rest of us just dabble.”

That was good enough a segue as any. Erick said, “Speaking of combining spells and popular magic. How about that [Fly]?”

Right!” Zago walked over to her desk. “I have a few books for you.”

Erick followed her.

She set down three thin books in front of Erick with the titles facing him. [Fly] and You, The Skies Beckon, and Nuebus’s Guide to the Major Variations of [Fly]. The last one was colorful, like a child’s book. Erick picked that one up. It even had pictures.

It was still written by hand, though. At least the guy had good handwriting—

I need to invent the printing press.

Or maybe they already have something better?

How are your books made? One at a time, or several at once?” Erick inspected the book’s construction. It looked rather handmade, with threaded pages and glued bindings, and a tooled leather cover. “Where do they come from?”

Several at once, usually. A derivation of [Mage Hand] in most cases. Some are [Duplicate]ed, though that spell is heavily guarded by larger Mage Guilds than this one. We order our books from libraries and bookbinders all over. The closest books come from the mostly human Greensoil Republic to the East where many of our farmers hail. There’s also Portal, the largest ocean port for all of the Crystal Forest. They’re almost directly south from here, spread out on the coast, servicing all trade on the Letri Ocean. And then there's the worldwide Arcanaeum Consortium. They have offices in basically every major city everywhere. Spur used to have an arcanaeum, back before the Great Purge.”

No mass production in any of those places?”

Zago looked at him. She said, “Not hundreds at a time, if that’s what you mean.”

Erick indicated the books. “So what’re all these books about?”

Zago grinned, then picked up the nearest to her, The Skies Beckon. “I’m fond of this one.” She turned to a marked page, then flipped the book toward Erick. “I feel that this is the best [Fly], but someone like Krakina with her own wings would disagree. I urge you to seek multiple opinions.”

Erick set down his book and picked up Zago’s.

The recipe looked fairly simple. [Airshape] and [Weightless Ward] leveled to 10 and combined for [Soar], which was great for overland travel; not delicate aerial positioning. Then came [Weightless Ward] and [Telekinesis] to create [Precise Positioning], which was exactly as the name implied. Then, those two tier 2 spells together would create [Precise Flight].

A good version of the spell would look something like this:

 

Precise Flight, 10 minutes, 240 MP

Fly quickly and precisely through the air, unaffected by the wind.


Or:

Precise Flight, 50 minutes, 340 MP

Fly precisely through the air, unaffected by the wind.

 

Erick saw a problem. “All of these use [Weightless Ward]. Does that mean no [Absorption Ward] at the same time as [Fly]?”

Yes. That is a downside to the spell. There are some varieties that don’t require a [Weightless Ward], but those feel clunky. There are some workarounds… But I wouldn’t recommend them. For example, you could enchant a pair of boots or something with [Precise Flight], but that gets hideously expensive unless you’re an adventurer with…” She thought. She said, “With 170 gold in rads to spend every time you want a 50 minute flight.” She waved her hand, adding, “And magical items outside of spell wands are a deathtrap, anyway. Save your money for a rod of [Greater Treat Wounds] and then keep that rod somewhere you can [Teleport] to when needed. And don’t use a flight spell anywhere you expect to be in combat; it’s a small enough restriction to work around.”

Erick looked over the books. “Can I take these books home for a while?”

Zago pushed the books toward him. “Absolutely. You might even find something in there you like better.”

 

- - - -

 

Erick found Krakina in the farms. Valok was with her.

And the rainmaker returns!” Krakina said, “You don’t need to be here today?” She turned to Valok. “[Grow] requests still up at the guild?”

Nope.” Valok said. “All [Telekinesis] quests, now, and none posted until tomorrow.”

I’m actually here to talk to you, Krakina—”

Me?” Krakina puffed up, smiling. “Yes yes?”

“— What’s the best way to fly?”

[Airshape] [Telekinesis] no [Weightless Ward],” she answered immediately. “You need your [Absorption Ward] and everything feels loopy when Veird no longer pulls you toward her. It will take personal skill to use this sort of [Fly].”

“… Would I need wings to use that sort of [Fly]?”

I can’t help if you were born wrong!” Krakina huffed, “Go away. You’re not needed today. Come back tomorrow! We’re working on the fields now.”

Erick looked across the farms. Some people were clearing crystal agaves far away, while others tilled the land into the soil, flipping weeds and unwanted growth into the ground to serve as fertilizer for what was to come.

Erick said, “I can’t help if I was born wrong, either.” Erick stared out over the fields. Some people were opening up what might have been rice paddies by digging out long trenches, then throwing seed down behind them. “Looks good out there.”

Valok said, “We understand we’ll get 24 hours every tenday. We intend to use two 4 hour days, then eight 2 hour days for this next cycle. So 4 hours tomorrow. All in the morning. We want to fill those trenches there with enough water to have rice paddies and we won’t be using any underground water at all. We want to see if this is feasible in the dry season.” He added. “But we may only be capable of two hours in the morning. If we have to break, we’ll break then, then we’ll have a Rest until everyone recovers their mana and come back to the fields in the afternoon. Can we count on that?”

Valok may have said ‘that’, but what he was really asking was ‘Can we count on you?’.

I’ll be here after breakfast.”

We’ll be set up and waiting.” Valok nodded. “See you then.”

 

- - - -

 

Erick got back home and sat on a stone chair set Al had made in the living room, under a window. He set the books in front of him on a table, also made by Al, and began reading.

Broadly, there were three categories of ‘good’ flight spells.

All the ‘great flight spells’ used [Weightless Ward], but Erick immediately shot down all of those. He wasn’t going into any sort of battle without a good [Absorption Ward] active. He only had a hundred HP.

The second category of good flight spells avoided giving up [Absorption Ward] by using [Force Platform], which was a disk of hovering hardened mana that moved with you, that you controlled. If you combined [Force Platform] with [Airshape] you could fly pretty fast, and have rather good control. [Force Platform] flight was cheaper and lasted a lot longer that the rest of the options, but had the downside of the user possibly falling off the platform, or having the platform shot out from under them. The books complained that a [Fly] made out of [Force Platform] would always feel horribly unnatural compared to one based on [Weightless Ward].

But Erick could see himself riding a motorbike across the skies.

And the last category of flight spells were pure [Airshape] variants. These all relied on the caster already having wings. Dragons, harpies, and owl shifters could use these variants; everyone else was shit outta luck.

Erick might have been able to make something with particle magic, but messing with gravity…

Just, no.

[Weightless Ward] probably got around the problem of people flying off the planet because of magical mystical reasons. Actually removing the background gravity field from a person, and especially from himself, seemed like an idea no sane person would touch.

But maybe there was some particle magic he could do.

Superconductors.

Once attached to magnetic lines of force, superconductors stayed on that track.

How to make a track?

Uh. What is a superconductor, exactly?

Oh dammit. That’s too much. I don’t know anything about all that.

Wait. Maybe I don’t need to know anything about all that. Maybe the work has already been done for me.

 

Force Platform 1, instant, 10 minutes per level, 50 kilograms per level. 25 MP

Create a stable floating platform of hardened mana. You may move this platform around at will.

 

Purchase Force Platform 1 for one ability point? Yes/No

 

No.

Poi? Do you know how a [Force Platform] works? Or a [Force Wall]? What is ‘Force’?”

Not exactly, sir. I can conjure a [Force Wall] if you would like to poke at it.”

Yes. Let’s—” Erick paused. He would have to explain to some people if he were to start throwing lightning bolts at a [Force Wall] in the Human District. He didn’t want to do that. But there might be a workaround to that problem, too. “Were you there at the shadowcat fight, Poi?”

I was not, sir, but I might be able to answer anyway.”

Did the [Force Walls] around the bombardment tower move when I shot those lightning bolts?”

Poi looked away. He paused. He said, “No, sir. They did not. We would have noticed something like that.”

Do [Force Walls] ever move in response to anything? In response to attacks that miss them?”

Nope. They break in response to direct attacks. They do not move in response to missed shots.”

Erick hummed at nothing in particular, then asked a longshot question, “Do you know if a [Force Platform] moves in response to anything Mana Altered into Lightning? What about a different Force spell, like a Bolt or Shrapnel?”

Poi looked up. He said, “Force does not move in response to anything but the caster’s desires.”

Damn. There goes that idea. Who are you talking to anyway?”

Killzone, primarily.”

Can you tell him ‘thank you’?”

He says ‘No problem-o, Archmage-o’.”

Erick looked up [Airshape] and [Telekinesis].

 

Airshape 1, 1 minute per level, medium range, 10 MP

Slowly move minor amounts of air around you for 1 minute per level of Airshape.

 

Purchase Airshape 1 for one ability point? Yes/No

 

Telekinesis 1, 1 minute per level, medium range, 10 MP

Slowly move minor objects around you for 1 minute per level of Telekinesis.

 

Purchase Telekinesis 1 for one ability point? Yes/No

 

Yes. Yes.

Might as well try making the spell and see if I like it.

Wait a second.

Zago mentioned boots of flight.

Flying boots are enchanted spells like [Precise Flight], but those spells used [Weightless Ward]. So that means you could use an item with a [Weightless Ward] and it wouldn’t nullify your own [Absorption Ward], right?

Poi. Can you use Boots of Flight and an [Absorption Ward] at the same time?”

Of course, sir, but I would advise against considering magical items. They always fail when you need them to work. We try to keep most magical items like that from being sold around here, but some adventurers still like them.”

Erick shook his head. “That wasn’t why I asked that.”

Very good, sir. Thank you for not making my job difficult, sir.”

Erick frowned at Poi then stood up from the stone chair and went into the kitchen. He got a wooden spoon. Focusing on the end of the spoon, he cast a tiny spell.

[Absorption Ward]

A glitter of white settled around the bowl of the spoon in the shape of a sphere. Erick waved the spoon around, and the [Ward] waved around with it.

What.

The.

Fuck.

Erick felt like an absolute idiot.

He could cast his flight spell on something else and give everything in the sphere weightlessness.

Everything of a certain size half weight. Not weightlessness.

He quickly looked through the books.

Yup! There it was! Under group flight.

 

Group Precise Flight, 50 minutes, 300 MP

Designate a person or an object. The controller of a designated object becomes the designated person for the purposes of this spell. The designated person and all others they choose in a large area fly precisely through the air, unaffected by the wind.

 

Tier 3 spell. Doable.

Erick looked at his spoon. He dismissed the [Absorption Ward] and did something else.

[Special Ward].

A blacklight orb appeared on the spoon. Erick picked up the spoon and moved it around.

Erick still felt like the world’s most absolute idiot. He really should have known he could move [Ward]s around before now. How did he not know this? Why was this ONLY NOW being revealed to him, and only through his own experimentation?

He turned to Poi. “Did you know you can place [Ward]s on objects and the [Ward] will move with the object?”

Of course, sir, but objects like that are easily torn away from the user in any fight against any competent force. We don’t do that around here; too many people have died to a [Violent Telekinesis] from a Shade, or one of the other monsters in the Dead City. Never set a [Ward] on a movable object; they will be stripped from you. This is one of the first things we warn adventurers against, and one of the primary killers of people inexperienced with the Dead City.”

Erick eyed him. “Really?”

And artists don’t put [Permanent Special Ward]s on objects, because those objects can be stolen.” Poi shook his head. “We don’t use mobile [Ward]s around here for many different reasons. ‘No mobile [Ward]s of any kind’ is actually a local tenet of both the Adventurer's and Mage’s Guilds.”

Erick still felt like an idiot, but at least it was good to know he wasn’t alone. He said, “You can continue to do that. I’ll be doing it this way so I can also have an [Absorption Ward] at the same time.”

Poi sighed. He said, “Please attach such a flight [Ward] to your undergarments, or something... Anything really hard to steal, sir.”

Of course! That’s only good sense!”

And be aware that anyone looking with Meditation will be able to see that your undergarments are imbued with magic.”

“… You can do that?”

Erick looked at Poi with Meditation on. There wasn’t much different about him. Maybe there was a glow… Nope.

I don’t believe you.”

Poi let out a long suffering sigh. “Look at the entirety of the manasphere. For the cheap spells I have on right now, you should still be able to see a bend in the local currents. For a more expensive spell, you will see eddies and sinks.”

Now that he knew what to look for, Poi was right. There was a slight flowing stability around Poi, when compared to the rest of the mana flows.

Erick grunted. “Okay. I believe you.”

Active magic is easy to see; you need [Detect Magic] to see magical items. Even so, one of the primary ways murders happen amongst adventurers is to rip their magical items away and then kill them. Ripping away that wooden spoon you’ve just [Ward]ed would be child’s play to any competent assassin.”

“… That’s depressing.”

An assassin could also cast [Dispel Magic] around a person, killing all active spells except force spells, magical items, and personal [Wards], or at the very least, severely decreasing spell duration. A flight spell on your undergarments would fall under this category, and thus be subject to hostile dispelling. Personal [Ward]s are naturally twice as hard to dispel as anything else you could dispel.”

Poi was making several good arguments.

But Erick had a foolproof counter argument. “I’ll take all that under advisement, and stay far, far away from any hostile people.”

“… Please don’t make my job harder than it is, sir.”

I’ll try not to!”

 

- - - -

 

There wasn’t much to do for the rest of the day but to level his magic, working his way toward [Group Precise Flight]. Once he had that, he’d go out into the Crystal Desert and find a monster and…

And kill it.

Ugh.

Erick shivered.

Then he remembered Jane, all gung-ho, shooting for the stars, and probably able to get there.

And monsters killed people, dammit! Fuck the monsters!

He could kill a monster. He would kill a monster. Maybe even several monsters.

And fly around in magical underpants!

Ha ha!

 

- - - -

 

With only today remaining until he began working at the Farms, where anywhere from 1800 to 3600 of his mana would have to be set aside for [Exalted Storm Aura], Erick had a choice to make.

He could finish leveling [Mend], which would be the entire day’s mana supply.

He could level [Mend] and Mana Shaping, which would level neither to full, but get him further along on both.

Or he could start prepping for [Fly] with all of those prerequisites. Like [Telekinesis].

[Telekinesis] was pure sex. He had to go with that way. He was eventually going to go all ways—

har har

but for now! Moving shit with his mind seemed too cool to pass up!

And plus! [Telekinesis] is what the farmers used to pick and plow their fields. And Erick had a field. Well. It wasn’t a field right now. Right now it was mostly just a kid’s sandbox. A very large sandbox, but still, it was his! He was the kid in this situation. And he had new toys to play with!

Erick stood in front of the 15 yard by 20 yard sandy lot that was to be his garden. Ten burlap sacks of soil sat to the side. Two blue boxes hovered in front of him, waiting for him to decide how he wanted to do this.

 

Telekinesis 1, 1 minute per level, medium range, 10 MP

Slowly move minor objects around you for 1 minute per level of Telekinesis.

Exp: 0/100

 

Mana Shaping 5

Alter spell AOE in better, subtle ways, 10 MP + spellcost

Alter spell AOE in better, moderate ways, 30 MP + spellcost

Aurify Unlocked

Requirements: 10 Willpower

Exp: 140/800

 

Time to level some skills.

Oh! And Aurify, too. Cost per second should be low enough.

Aurify.

Mana Shaping.

[Telekinesis].

All around Erick, the manasphere shifted, and to his Meditation enhanced sight, he could see exactly how those shifts occurred. Here and there, whenever he focused on a spot, the mana shifted, and he felt the pressure of the shift—

The spell cut.

1 minute was not very long at all. Erick had a feeling of deja vu, leveling his magic the slow way. He had done this sort of thing with Stoneshape just the other day. Well. There was an easy solution to shorten this training time. It took an instant to activate the magic, and he couldn't seem to cast faster than once a second, but that was fine.

[Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis]. [Telekinesis].

 

[Telekinesis] has leveled!

Level 2!

 

15 mana per cast this time. Exact same progression as [Stoneshape], too. [Airshape] would probably follow this same progression. All Shaping spells probably followed the same progression. Erick decided to plow ahead until he got a workable version of [Telekinesis].

[Telekinesis]. x14!

 

[Telekinesis] has leveled!

Level 3!

 

That only cost 100 mana. And now the spell was 20 mana per cast, or 10 with Clarity. It would be 150 mana to get to the next level. Erick decided to go for it.

[Telekinesis]. x15!

 

[Telekinesis] has leveled!

Level 4!

 

Telekinesis 4, 1 minute per level, medium range, 25 MP

Move small objects around you for 1 minute per level of the spell.

Exp: 5/500

 

Erick did some quick math. It would be 250 mana to get to the next level. Maybe. He wasn’t that great at math. But 25 went into 500, 20 times, and 20 was the number of casts to get to the next level. 20 times 25 was then 500, but divided by 2, gave him 250 mana. Yes. 250 mana. His mana pool could handle that.

He looked out at the manasphere. It was rather turbulent from casting all these spells, but Jane had leveled like this in the first days of arriving on Veird. She did that thing where she struck that rock and healed herself with [Rejuvenation] before the spell was done working. This was, if not responsible magic, then at least necessary. Erick felt a little bit weird about powerleveling, like he was wasting something, but mana didn’t get ‘used up’; Erick was just a part of the mana cycle, and right now, he was a very fast part.

[Telekinesis]. x20!

 

[Telekinesis] has leveled!

Level 5!

 

Telekinesis 5, 1 minute per level, medium range, 30 MP

Slowly move medium objects around you for 1 minute per level of the spell.

Exp: 5/800

 

Erick’s mana pool was well below half. Now, it was time to see how this spell worked, for real.

[Telekinesis].

Erick had another sense, like proprioception, but wider, that included everything in whatever small space he focused upon. He could feel the ground with a pressure he controlled. He moved the pressure around, feeling the stone, then running his not-fingers through the sand. The sand moved in front of him like someone had stuck their fingers in to make furrows in the dirt. Erick ‘reached’ over to the bags of soil and ‘wrapped his hands’ around the bag.

It wouldn’t budge. He wasn’t strong enough.

Too heavy for a medium obje— Wait.”

Aurify.

Mana Shaping.

[Telekinesis].

Erick felt the world around him with a thousand small feelers. He felt himself, and that was odd. He looked to Poi—

Poi was standing outside of his range. Poi smiled.

Erick laughed, then went back to the bags of soil. He still couldn’t pick up the bag, but he did pick up a knife and slice the bag open, from five feet away. As soil spilled out from the bag, he grabbed at it in clumps; a hundred tiny hands making short work of a heavy load. He emptied the bag, dragging out the contents, throwing dirt into the sand pit. He emptied another bag, then another. Then two at once, two hundred tiny hands scattering soil across the sand. He emptied the final bags, and then looked at his mana. It was slowly rising; Meditation was winning out over the tiny drain of Aurified, Shaped, [Telekinesis].

Erick laughed. This was amazing!

He dug into the sand, mixing soil into the orange grit. The hands weren’t strong enough to mix very deep, but they didn’t have to mix that deep, they just had to spread everything around in more or less the correct locations. With hundreds of tiny hands, there was more than enough power in each one to do whatever Erick wanted.

Erick looked at the emptied bags. He needed more soil. The garden was too sandy right now…

How to fix that… Hmm…

He could try to [Grow] clover out of one of those grass seeds he bought from the market. Clover was supposed to be a good ground cover and biomass crop. Erick might be able to make something like that. After he got the clover growing, he could [Exalted Storm Aura] with Mana Shaping to make it rain only over his house.

Actually! The Farmer’s Council had already solved one of Erick’s problem!

Erick used his [Telekinesis] to pick up a seed packet—

His hundred hand technique shredded the packet, spilling seeds across the orange rock ground. He grumbled, then dismissed the spell as he walked over to the seeds. He picked up the shredded packet. It was for apple seeds. Meh. Apples. Erick physically rummaged around, looking for—

He found it! A packet of Ground Grass. Ground Grass was a short hardy grass the Farmer’s council planted on the farms when the season was over that eventually took over the whole place, because Ground Grass was the only thing that could survive the harsh desert life. It also happened to be a small thing that generated a lot of biomass. When the farmers came back for the water season they could [Grow] the Ground Grass to a heavy density and then till it back into the soil, making a sort of ‘green manure’ to feed all the growth yet to come.

Erick manually opened the packet and walked out onto his garden, spreading tiny seeds as he walked.

He put the rest of the seeds away, using Aurify and [Telekinesis] much more carefully this time. Without Mana Shaping the spell felt a little clumsy, so he wouldn’t use this version of the spell again, but it was enough to put the seeds away inside the house.

Erick cut his [Telekinesis] and threw a [Weather Ward] out beside the garden, then looked up at the blue, empty sky, judging how controlled he would have to make his next spell. Poi moved into Erick’s [Weather Ward] with him. Erick looked up, and focused on what he wanted.

Mana Shaping

[Exalted Storm Aura].

Mist flowed out of the manasphere around Erick, like a fog rolling into reality, and then up. White clouds spun up around Erick, racing into the sky to hold above in a rough column shape. Silver light flashed inside the white, as a cloud spread for a wispy hundred yards around, and a thousand fluffy yards up.

Silver light cascaded down through cloud, a rolling grumble following the light, like a chain reaction ending in a muted thunder.

Like a god had opened up a spigot in the sky, down came the rain.

Poi and Erick watched as platinum rain came straight down, upon the house and the garden, to soak into the ground, and for a hundred yards around. Orange stone and sand turned brown in the presence of water; soil turned black. Tiny green shoots of spreading growth began to tumble up from the sandy soil, twisting into flat, horizontal leaves, in small spots at first, then slowly over the entire garden. Erick watched. Minutes passed, rain fell, and green growth spread. The world seemed to turn just a bit nicer, just a bit easier, as a slow green carpet grew across a small part of Veird.

Soon, the entire garden was covered in dense green horizontal leaves, stacked dozens deep, from the very surface of the garden, to several inches above. Erick cut the rain. The thunderhead flowed away on the wind.

Poi said, “That really is quite miraculous, sir.”

Erick laughed. “They wouldn’t let me call it [Miracle Rain].”

Poi smiled.

Erick turned on Aurify, Mana Shaping, and [Telekinesis], and tried to become a lawnmower, but apparently cutting grasses was too much for [Telekinesis 5]. Instead, Erick acted the part of a kid pulling up weeds and then punching them down as far as he could punch. It worked out well enough, considering he had a maybe two hundred ‘hands’ with which to pull and punch. It did take a good half an hour to set the garden to rights, though.

He knew he should have left it to compost…

But playing in the sandy dirt was quite fun!

He threw out another [Exalted Rain Aura] and punched the growth back down again.

By the time he finished playing around, the ground was equal parts green manure, soil, and sand. The resulting pile of stuff stood a foot taller than the surrounding orange rock, and would have spilled outside of the designated garden if not for Erick [Stoneshape]ing a foot tall, foot wide lip to keep it all contained.

He would leave it to compost from there.

The most surprising thing about the whole experience was that no one showed up, wondering about the giant pillar of rain.

 

- - - -

 

Erick arrived at the farms bright and early. Compared to four days ago, the farms of today were much, much larger, and much more barren. Countless [Weather Ward]s sparkled in every color, all around the brown, freshly tilled grounds. He couldn’t even see the edge anymore, and zero crystal agaves grew in the distance. The orchards were still there, and so were the vines of not-tomatoes and many other vining plants, but all the grasses had been tilled into the soil, probably using much the same methods as Erick used yesterday in his own garden.

And everywhere, there were people, watching as Erick walked down the center road, to the center of the farms. He had to walk past where he usually sat; the farm had been expanded by a lot.

Poi walked beside and a little behind Erick.

And as Erick walked, people took notice; some of them moved in the direction he traveled. Not too long later, Erick finally saw the new center of the farms. A small gazebo of stone had been raised in the middle. That must be Erick's destination; it looked a bit crowded already.

Erick walked forward. As he got closer he saw Krakina, Valok, Apogough, Killzone, the silverscale Head Priestess Darenka, and a new bright orangescale woman, bustling around the gazebo in last minute preparations. About ten other people whom Erick did not know operated outside of the stone gazebo. Most of the extra people were wearing priestly robes. Some were setting up incense burners; a sweet smell already wafting upward on the wind. Others organized life-sized statues on top of waist high pillars, making sure they faced whatever correct way they were supposed to face; some looking inward to the stone gazebo, others to the east, or the west, or straight at Ar’Kendrithyst. Some statues faced the sky.

As Erick paused a fair distance from the gazebo, dozens of others were were already waiting at roughly the same distance, not alongside Erick, but well away from what looked to be a holy place, in a stretch of land that seemed made to be stood upon by an audience. Some of the people in today’s audience were obviously farmers, wearing rough spun clothes made to take a beating. Others were dressed in their Sunday Best; greyscales and older orcol women wearing big, fancy hats, men in suits but some in robes. Some incani wore decorations on their horns, while the wrought had their metal flesh done up in facsimiles of fancy clothes similar to their neighbors’.

In the center of the gathering, at the gazebo, Krakina and Killzone took notice of Erick first.

Poi whispered, “We should move inside of the Ring of Gods, sir.”

Erick looked at the statues again.

So that’s what they were.

To the right of the road to the gazebo was obviously Koyabez, the Silver Star and God of Peace; even in sculpture he wore nothing save an artistic loincloth. His tiny horns were framed by stone waves of hair.

And there’s Rozeta on the other side of the road, done up like a grey metal wrought receptionist, the only sculpture that was obviously metal instead of stone.

Erick did not recognize the rest, because he began walking forward after a polite, yet firm, whispered ‘sir’ from Poi.

As Erick approached the gazebo, he did recognize one more sculpture; the largest one. Toward the back of the gazebo, this largest sculpture took up a great deal more space than any of the others.

She was a sturdy woman with a gentle smile, twice as tall as the rest. Instead of standing on a waist-high stone pillar, the woman stood surrounded by stone versions of all the grains and fruits and vegetables and eating animals that Erick had ever seen in all his time on Verid, and many that he hadn’t. Her left hand rested on the head of an obviously happy not-cow, her right hand lowered to the viewer and holding a round fruit.

Erick knew who she was. She was Atunir, Goddess of Fertility and Field.

Erick’s worldview shifted a few degrees. He had thought ‘gazebo’ when he saw the structure from afar, but being here, now, he had a much better description for what had been created at the center of Spur’s farms.

It was a temple; an 8 pillared open air temple to a goddess of the harvest, with people scattered outside, waiting for Mass to begin, and for Erick to arrive.

Erick approached.

Head Priestess Darenka moved to the top of the temple steps. Krakina, Apogough and Valok took their place to the left, while Killzone and Orangescale stood to the right.

Everyone was silent.

Erick almost made a joke, but that would have been disrespectful. This looked like a very big deal to these people. Erick had tried to be more respectful about religious matters ever since Silverite had chastised him. He often failed to be respectful, but he wouldn’t fail this time.

Erick stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

Darenka smiled at him, nodding at him to stay there for now.

She spoke to the crowd, and her words carried.

We’re all here because we all gotta eat, and this is gonna be great. New ways of harvesting! All you idiots out there take note! I kicked a few divine asses to get this whole thing lined up proper, and I am quite capable of kicking non-divine asses, too. We’re doing this right. We’re doing this correctly. Now bow your heads and pray to whatever fool in the heavens you know does you best.”

Erick stood dumbstruck.

Darenka coughed once, cleared her throat, and spoke to everyone, across the whole farm, “We pray to you, in the bad times and the good, we bring you our hopes and our dreams, and you bring us comfort in the cold dark, and laugh with us in the warm light. You teach us to rise above ourselves, to goad us into positive growth, and fruitful change. We ask you now to join us in this momentous occasion, to share in the joy of a harvest, and to help us ensure that the future we have chosen is a bright one, full of joy, full of family, and with a healthy, happy community. Praise be.”

That sounded like a much more normal sermon.

Erick said a silent prayer to both Rozeta and Koyabez…

And then to Atunir.

 

Rejoice!

Atunir accepts you as her Champ—

 

The box vanished before it could finish its message. Another box popped up.

 

It’s better for everyone if we pretend that never happened. ~Rozeta

 

The second box vanished as soon as Erick read the thing, and when he looked in his recent notifications, there was nothing there.

Pretend like it never happened, eh? Sure! Why not.

Darenka spoke to Erick, “Do you have any words you’d like to say?”

Erick shook his head. If he was going to say anything, it would be a joke at someone’s expense, and that seemed like a momentously bad idea.

Darekna smiled. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Erick asked, “Can I come inside, first?”

Ah!” Darenka moved aside, “Of course!”

He whispered, “So no ill effects of rain on people?”

She whispered, “The gods launched a Deep Scan of the spell because some of them don’t like the others having nice things; if they had found anything, they would have said, and we would not be here today.”

Erick felt a surge of relief. He bowed to Darenka. “Thank you. And thank them, too.”

Erick turned on [Exalted Storm Aura] and began walking up the temple stairs. Clouds manifested across the land, like fog rising from nothing, to rise on unseen winds into the sky high above. Erick placed his left foot onto the staircase and slowly made his way up the five steps to the temple floor.

By the time he reached the top, platinum rain drops were already falling across the farms.

Erick turned around; he was just under the eve of the temple roof. Rain was falling across the brown fields in drips and drops. The audience watched as the ground turned wet and green shoots began to grow. The apple orchards turned lush, as pinpicks of red began to bloom into full sized apples. Water soaked into rice paddies, and green grasses poked upward. After a while water began to fill those paddies, and grasses turned into more than they were before, gold grains spilling out of green stalks like Midas himself touching the harvest.

Tomatoes dripped from trellises. Grapes weighed down vines. Wheat waved in the silver light of the storm. Pasture grew to foot tall greens, ready for the cows to come. Chickens explored the growing lands; more than a few were eaten by prowling cats.

And people were harvesting. [Telekinesis] was widely employed by both farmers and people in nice clothes.

Erick turned to Valok, Krakina, and Apogough. “You three organized this rather well.”

Krakina smiled wide. “Of course we did!”

Valok said, “This was good timing, Erick.”

Don’t lie, Valok!” Apogough laughed, then mocked, “He was ready to go find you.”

I said I’d be here.”

Valok grumbled, “I’m glad you are. Now. If you’ll excuse me, I have jobs to oversee.” He bowed to both to Darenka and the statue of Atunir, before swiftly vacating the temple.

Krakina and Apogough followed him.

The crowd began to disperse when the Farmer’s Council started to move away from the temple.

Erick just watched, feeding mana into [Exalted Storm Aura].

Darenka stepped up to Erick, saying, “Atunir is making a big stink at me. What’d you do?”

Best if the whole thing is forgotten. I’m not exactly opposed to what she wants, but I’m not too crazy about the whole thing either, especially if she wants to make this spell hers.”

Ah! So it’s like that.” Darenka agreed, “Your magic didn’t come from her; it’s not hers to take. We give the gods much of ourselves, and they give us much of them, but there is a limit to decency. But… Best to be seen saying a prayer to her every so often, anyway. It makes her happy, and her worship does provide food to anyone in need, as well as care for children.”

Erick had no objections to that. He gently smiled, saying, “Sounds good to me.”

Darenka stepped off down the stairs, through the rain, calling as she went, “Good luck, Archmage Flatt!”

Killzone approached with Orangescale beside him. Orangescale was a strong looking woman wearing the casual generic armor of a city guard, but much more well made and maintained than the armors he had usually seen guards wearing.

Killzone said, “This is Guardmaster Merit, Archmage Flatt.”

Merit gave a quick bow, then said, “Nice to finally meet you.” Her voice was warm like strong honey. Erick felt instantly at ease. “The city guard is stretched thin, but we’ll survive. And grow.” She looked across the farms, then up. “I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Erick followed her gaze. [Exalted Storm Aura] was as wide as ever; from Erick’s raised position, he saw that platinum rain was falling over the whole of the farm. Rain was even falling outside of the current boundary.

Merit asked Killzone, “Spare any more people?”

Killzone said, “Can’t do that, Merit. The Shades are equally afraid and joyous that Spur is growing. I’d be concerned, but word is that they’re more happy than afraid. More people for them to try to kill.”

Erick shivered. Killzone noticed.

Killzone stressed, “To try to kill, Archmage Flatt. They enjoy their cat and mouse games just as much as the next genocidal megalomaniac mostly trapped in a prison with other megalomaniacs.”

That was a lot to unpack.

Erick turned to Merit. “Nice to meet you, too.” Very seriously, he asked both of them, “Is this here a problem?”

Killzone said, “Not for me. Or for you. Got two army grunts headed your way for a ‘vacation’, as well. Should be there tomorrow, if’n that’s okay.”

That’s okay. I’m also working on a [Fly] spell, just so you know, so I’m gonna get out there and kill a few dozen mimics, pretty soon.”

Killzone and Merit both seemed to relax.

Merit said, “The Guard is fine, and Spur will be, too. We’re hiring more people as more people are moving to Spur; we’ll be at capacity in a few weeks as long as the vetting process doesn’t turn up anything too crazy, and if the weather holds,” Merit said with a smirk. “We can handle the adjustment.” She asked, “Are you doing well?”

Erick looked out across the farm. Platinum rain fell, crops grew, and people harvested as fast as they could. This was a lot of food. This was going to change Spur into something else. Everyone seemed to be happy with the change, though. Erick was happy, too, now that he took a moment to think, and evaluate.

A home with his daughter. Food in his belly. A good place to live with a nice community, and problems he could solve. Magic was wonderful, and every day he discovered something new and amazing.

He looked south. The walls of Ar'Kendrithyst were a dark mountain range, looming in the distance, covering the horizon. Darkness lived in there, and occasionally spilled out into the world, but there was always a darkness on the horizon, no matter where he lived. That fact would never change; only the specific circumstances.

Erick said, “I think I’m going to be more than fine.”

 

- - - -

 

Erick Flatt

Human, age 48

Level 19, Class: Particle Mage

Exp: 312811/676500

Class: 6/6

Points: 6

HP

100/100

150 per day

MP

600/600

1050 per day

Strength

10

+0

[10]

Vitality

15

+0

[15]

Willpower

20

+0

[20]

Focus

35

+0

[35]

Favored Spell waiting!

Favored Spell waiting!

 

Spoiler

 

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A note from Arcs

The spoiler is his stats up to this point; I haven't posted them in a while, so here they are.


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About the author

Arcs

Bio: The writer of Ar'Kendrithyst! If you want to support the story, there's either patreon, or https://ko-fi.com/arcs33454

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furball tiger ago

hmm, it reads like "vol. 1, the end" (not in a bad way, it's nice to have these plateaus and wrap stuff up). :)

SolaAesir ago

Edit suggestions:

Without Mana Shaping the spell felt a little clumsy, so he wouldn’t used this version of the spell again, but it was enough to put the seeds away inside the house.

.

we’ll be at capacity in a few weeks as long ifas the vetting process doesn’t turn up anything too crazy,

Camhanache ago

Welp, the first time he was wholly respectful of the gods one of them tried making him their champion.

Edit suggestions:

“Best if the whole thing is forgotten. I’m not exactly opposed to what she wants, but I’m not too crazy about the whole thing either, especially if she wants to make this spell hers.”

AlexScriber ago

People keep clobbering Erick over the head with how rude and ignorant he is, but ambushing someone with a religious ritual after turning their workplace into a shrine isn't just rude. Wars have started over less. If I arrived at work tomorrow and my cubicle had been turned into a shrine I'd turn around and leave. And the company would be lucky to not get sued and or burned to the ground by upset employees.

tfisb ago

Still not listening to expert advice.

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