(Patreon) Mage Among Superheroes 110

-–Chapter Index–-

“Thanks for keeping me from dying,” I said to the rest of the squad after we took a moment to get away from the nearly closed portal. Deimos was still in there, after all. HQ almost requested us to leave it, but it was kind of in the middle of the street and nobody wanted to think about what happened when a car drove into a portal too small for it. Or rather, not outside of a controlled environment. Shutting down a street was also not a popular idea.

We were waiting for Midnight and myself to regenerate mana before… whatever we were going to do next. It wouldn’t take that long with the portal nearby. Wherever those dragons lived was quite mana dense, like most of the portals I had sensed. 

“We are a squad after all,” Ice Guy said. “Though I have to admonish you for pulling away from the majority of the squad, even if you were chasing your nemesis. Or specifically because of it.”

I frowned. “Wasn’t that guy one of ours? No wait, that was Antagonist.”

“I meant Deimos. You came into conflict with him during your origin and marked him, then coincidentally and intentionally ended up in further conflict. He’s definitely a nemesis.”

“I suppose so,” I shrugged. “He’s gone now though.”

Acid Man gave me a look that I could only half interpret with his mask. “You really believe that?”

“I kicked him through a portal, and he doesn’t have any way to open them on his own. Also, I took his weapon.”

“Maybe you’ll be lucky,” Shockfire shook his head. “But I would bet that he returns. Is that portal to your world?”

“Or one like it…” I shrugged. “Why?”

“If it’s your world specifically, then based on Doctor Doomsday’s recent flood of these things, we will see more portals and thus more opportunities for Deimos to return… with an even greater grudge.”

“Ugh, what a pain,” I frowned. “Should I have killed him?”

“You would be justified, even by the standards of a super,” Ice Guy explained. “The fact that he failed to kill you so far does not mean the attempts weren’t real. Including this last one. If we had encountered him in a situation where he was easy to incapacitate it would be our duty to try… but it would have been acceptable to kill him here.”

“So you’re saying I should have used Sonic Lance…”

“That… might have had unfortunate consequences,” Ice Guy shook his head. “As he should be defensively close to a normal human and thus would be… everywhere. It’s not a good look.”

I looked at the street with various pieces of dead dragon floating about. “Yeah I suppose not.” 

After about fifteen minutes I was confident I had enough mana to finish closing the portal- only because of the increased density of mana that came through it- and it was decided to not let it stay. Information from HQ indicated that the other portals weren’t closing automatically like the previous wave. Supers were required to secure the area around them… but it seemed that this time there were slightly fewer portals as well. Aside from the exception of there being two within a couple blocks of us- the one on the hotel and this one in the street- they were spread out enough that they were being managed, for the moment at least.

“Alright,” I rubbed my hands together. “Midnight, pay careful attention here. I assume you can do this too, though it’s pretty mana heavy so it might be difficult.” I reached out for the portal, feeling the flow of mana that came through but also that held it together. Stable. This third attempt was sufficient for me to have a better understanding instead of just fumbling around… and it was surprisingly easy. I gathered mana, instinctively stopping at around ten. I felt like I had spent more for it previously, but perhaps this was the right amount for a mostly closed portal? Though that would have put the others beyond me by a significant margin.

Deciding not to worry about it too much I finished drawing the portal closed until it winked out of existence. The mana I spent to perform that task was quickly exhausted… and then replenished, as I tore away the strings of power that had been the portal. The feeling of mana rushing into me was exhilarating… and I almost threw up.

“What happened?” Midnight asked, presumably having felt something close to what I did.

Taking stock of myself, I determined that nothing hurt, and the wave of nausea had passed. “It seems I absorbed the mana of the portal? Though I had to fully close it before that happened. Now I’m… basically full again. Though absorbing that much mana so fast was… unsettling.” Absorbing mana was good, but that had been too much. I didn’t feel like when I had too many mana crystals but… it also wasn’t entirely different.

“Can you do it again?” Ice Guy asked. “New Bay’s got everyone with dimensional powers on dealing with the portals already, but accelerating the process would probably be for the best.”

“I can do… at least another one,” I said cautiously. “I might be able to do more if I can control the wave of mana.” Had I gotten too full on mana? I really didn’t want to find out that would make me explode or something. 

“Okay,” he nodded. “Midnight, you’re responsible for monitoring his situation. “Don’t let him push too far.”

“On it!” Midnight declared seriously.

I thought for a few moments. “Actually, if we work together on the next one… we might split the drain and the after effects.” I frowned, still uncertain of this new ability. “Probably.”

“Let’s try it,” Midnight agreed. “I can handle at least one thing.”

“Alright,” Captain Senan declared, “Let’s get moving. The closest one is this way.”

It took a few minutes of jogging through the streets, curious people looking out their windows but remaining safely inside, for us to arrive at the next portal. Through it, instead of a murky forest or literal hell, I saw an idyllic landscape. That could have been one of any number of places, and unfortunately my planar lore was rather insufficient on the deeper details. I hadn’t expected to be interacting with any of it outside of textbooks, after all.

“What came through here?” I asked of the small squad of supers guarding it.

“Nothing, so far as we can tell,” said their leader. “Though we saw some… elephants and wolves. And some sort of large winged creatures.”

“That’s… umm…” I shrugged. “Well, we’ll try to seal this place up. Familiar?” I looked at Midnight, finding it probably just as awkward to use his moniker as he did with me. Maybe more.

“I’m ready.”

Coordinating magical abilities could be quite difficult, but with the bond of a mage and familiar and whatever sort of bond Celmothians had, it wasn’t difficult at all. Where our efforts overlapped we didn’t conflict with each other, and soon we had the portal half closed. Interestingly enough, though I felt this technique should cost ten mana… perhaps that was the minimum required. Certainly with both Midnight and I it should have done more than close halfway. Still, we looked at each other, nodded, and gave another magical tug, closing up the portal. As it was about to be closed, I thought I saw a light green skinned bald figure step in front of it and nod. Not like a Martian, but closer to my height. I couldn’t quite be sure, though.

This time I was ready for the wave of mana, and I intentionally chose not to absorb it all. Midnight had felt what I did but had no firsthand experience, so I saw him stagger and internally recoil from the overload, but it didn’t feel that bad. Splitting it seemed to help at least a little.

Despite being full on mana, however, I was feeling drained and tired. We managed two more portals together before we had to call it quits. There was a lingering discomfort I felt inside, certainly similar to the mana crystal buildup. The Power Brigade wasn’t going to require us to push our new ability beyond safe limits, especially with the emergency now being more or less contained. 

—–

Doctor Martinez scanned both Midnight and I when we returned, then sighed. “I’m getting far too used to diagnosing mana based maladies these days.” He shook his head, “It’s a good thing you stopped when you did…” He looked at me, his eyes sharp. “You… with the combination of overusing those mana crystals and whatever this was, your internals aren’t in great shape. I’m not really sure what I should say except… perhaps you should spend some mana. If you really absorbed excess, it might have nowhere to go but into your body. I’ll monitor your situation while you do so.” He coughed, “Start small and nondestructive please.”

“I wouldn’t blow up your stuff,” I shook my head. “Maybe… light?” Midnight nodded, and the two of us began to play around with Basic Light Magic, which was kind of whatever I wanted it to be… within limits. I couldn’t create anything but simple shapes, but I could move it around and either have it stick to things or float in place. I remembered how I managed to fling it further than it should normally go, attaching it to Deimos. I couldn’t exactly do that in the confines of a doctor’s office, but I could try to stretch it to its limits, inflating its size until it fell apart or creating as many distinct orbs as I could. Four was the normal limit inherited from Dancing Lights, but I could manage five or very briefly six. I wasn’t sure if that was a magical limitation or due to my own mental limitations. 

“Well,” Doctor Martinez shook his head. “I think it’s helping slightly. I would recommend keeping yourselves below maximum mana capacity at least for the next few hours. Come check with me again before you clock out.”

—–

Though the persistent portals had been a problem, the actual danger had been less than Doctor Doomsday’s previous attempts, due to the smaller number. With that problem solved over the course of the night, there was only one more thing for me to do.

Look at my points. As I suspected, someone attempting to kill me was amazing for my experience growth. I imagined that someone doing the same thing Deimos did but without the actual intent to kill me wouldn’t have given me so much. Sparring had diminishing returns for interacting with the same people, and also was affected by seriousness, more or less. I had only barely passed the requirements for level 25, by 4 experience, but that was still a significant amount in a short time.

 

Turlough (No surname)
Level: 25

Experience: 1629/1755 (Author’s note: We can just pretend the second part of that experience was always there. I realized it’s not terribly meaningful without a reference)

Storage +3

Firebolt +3

Shocking Grasp +3

Grease +2

Force Armor +6

Mage’s Reach +2

Translation +1

Haste +4

Disguise

Familiar Bond +3

Enlarge +2

Energy Ward +3

Sonic Lance +2

Scrying

Shield +1

Stoneskin +1

Variable Freedom +2

Remaining Points: 42

Mana Crystal Deposition +2

Water Breathing

Basic Light Magic +2

Locate Object

Alter Portal

 

I couldn’t really spend points at the moment. I would need 39 of them for the promised Gate, after all. I was quite interested to discover the further improvements of Mana Crystal Deposition and Basic Light Magic. Then of course there was Alter Portal.

It wasn’t surprising, exactly. It was another spell that definitely wasn’t a spell, so it went in the weird section that shouldn’t exist. That was fine and apparently normal now. It was just a weird name. Close Portal would have been more accurate. But maybe it meant it. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do to portals but close them though. Except that temporary Gate for Izzy, but that hardly counted.

I still didn’t understand how any of this crap worked without points. I didn’t hate that I had it, but I really, really wanted to understand. Maybe Handface’s scanner thing would have helped? It would have been nice if I ripped that thing off his face before I kicked him through the portal, but I didn’t exactly have the luxury of time. Or at least… not that level of clarity in the midst of battle. 

At least I wouldn’t have to worry about him trying to kill me. I did keep in mind that it might be more on the temporary side since he hadn’t died, but as long as I grew stronger and he didn’t keep up, I could manage. A couple levels of Stoneskin would do wonders… shame I had to keep those points for something else. I’d just have to get more levels in the future.

-–Chapter Index–-