(Patreon) Mage Among Superheroes 79

-–Chapter Index–-

In my hand I held a crystal. It had taken me a bit to figure out the relatively simple rule for the amount of mana they restored, but I hadn’t had a basis to go off of, and feeling how much mana I recovered was somewhat imprecise when talking about partial points. But it was fairly easy. One point was one point. But two points of mana spent returned much less. Four points, however, returned two- half efficiency, but it could turn mana now into mana later when I needed it. To get three mana back, I had to spend nine. In short, it continued on in a geometric pattern. I spent mana and got a crystal that was equivalent to the square root of what I spent. 

That didn’t apply below one point of mana, however. While it would have been nice to get two tenths of a point of mana per minute by creating half mana crystals and getting slightly more back out, at that point it stopped at a quite sensible one hundred percent efficient. I could create smaller crystals, but they still took the same amount of time to absorb as the others- one minute. 

After learning this I began to intentionally create a larger stock, and though carrying around a large number of crystals would quickly get unwieldy, I could pop a few in or out of Storage at a time since they were relatively small and not too heavy. Motivation to upgrade it more in the future, when I had the points. 

At the moment the largest crystals I could make were five mana, and that would knock me out from full. Not really the most pleasant experience. Four mana crystals cost sixteen, and were still enough to make me woozy. Three mana crystals took less than half, nine mana- the same as Stoneskin. The use of mana there was not too rapid, so it was pretty reasonable. I could make one every hour and a half, so I had a decent stock over the last few days- though obviously I had other things to spend mana on, so I only really made a few per day.

Now I was in a training room, testing them. I had no idea how the rooms that made fake environments to play around in worked, like the one that gave us the trial run in the mansion, but I had access to one for a couple hours. The important part was that I could go all out destroying targets and they could just reform instead of having to completely replace something.

I held out my hand towards a wall, firing a Sonic Lance. It shattered apart the bricks easily, not that I expected anything different. It would do pretty much the same to a normal human, though some people were tougher, including supers that didn’t even have real defensive powers. Not enough to shrug a spell of that level off, but enough that they would retain their bodily shape, in theory.

I clutched one of the crystals, pulling on the mana threads within. It crumbled into nothing and began to absorb into me, and I took aim at more of the various structures strewn throughout the room. Hitting stationary targets wasn’t necessarily difficult, but testing how much damage I could do to different things was useful. I also needed to make sure I could use magic while absorbing a crystal, and it seemed to be no issue.

There was still an immediate problem, of course. Even if I was taking my time, it only took a handful of seconds to fire off a Sonic Lance. Two of them was a bit over nine mana, which was three minutes of restoration with my mana crystals. Thus, I quickly fell behind. After burning through all my mana in a couple minutes, I at least had recovered some. Three mana per minute was almost thirty times faster than normal recovery, so with my slowly increasing mana reserves I was feeling much more confident. Actual battles tended to be short and brutal, so as long as I didn’t get into a sustained shootout where I shot high mana cost spells I should be fine.

I continued absorbing crystals and using mana. Around nine or ten crystals in I began to feel weird. At fifteen, I began to feel sick. I took a break for ten minutes, making sure I had consumed some food and water, then began again. The next crystal made me feel uneasy again, and the seventeenth made me cough up black gunk and maybe a little bit of blood.

—–

“At least you didn’t get dragged in here unconscious,” Doctor Martinez said as he scanned me. “But you probably should have stopped when you first felt negative side effects.”

“Probably,” I agreed. I was feeling a bit… ashamed? Was that a feeling? I wrote it down just in case. “I felt fine right up till the end, though.”

“Well,” Doctor Martinez said after he finished beaming his power through me. “Do you want the good news or the bad news first?”

“Aren’t you a doctor? Shouldn’t you know how to say that kind of stuff?”

“I forget that just because you speak the language easily doesn’t mean you understand the routine. You’re supposed to say ‘bad news’ and then I tell you, and then you ask for the good news and I say ‘there is no good news’.”

“That sounds bad,” I admitted. “What happened?”

“It’s fine,” Doctor Martinez sighed, “There is good news. So I’ll start with the basics. You’ve got crystals growing inside your body, clogging up pretty much everything. Given my experiences with you, I’m going to assume they’re made from mana. I hope it doesn’t need to be said that crystals growing inside of you is not good, given your otherwise humanlike physical makeup. The good news is they are actively dissolving as we speak. I need to keep you here to monitor you, but I think they should be gone in… a few hours, maybe?”

“Oh. Okay.”

“Also, never do what you were doing again. I assume you were testing some kind of limit? Stay away from it.”

“… understood,” I nodded. “I’ll not do it again.” Maybe I would stop at ten crystals. Though was it the number that made it work this way? “Actually, I might need your help. A number of factors involved could lead to different limits.”

“I suppose it would be better for you to test supervised. How long will it take?”

“This took about half an hour,” I admitted.

“I can put you on the schedule then. Until that time, just… don’t do whatever you were doing. Also, if you could monitor the buildup on your own that would be great.”

“How can I? I can’t see inside myself.”

“They’re mana related, right? Can’t you feel it?”

I frowned. Could I? Besides the upset stomach, of course- which was probably already too far. I could feel the vague level of my own mana, mana around me, crystals in my pocket- but nothing like the crystals inside myself. Though I had to admit I’d never really looked. I didn’t immediately give up, but after a couple minutes I shook my head. “I don’t think I can right now. I might be able to learn though.” This sort of ability was outside what I conventionally understood mages could do, but making the mana crystals to begin with was abnormal. I wasn’t sure if it was a secret, unknown, or something about this world- but there could be more things I was able to learn besides the spells I understood.

—–

In the mirror Ceira saw her own face. She checked her teeth- it wouldn’t do to record herself with something in there. That also meant her hair, though that was pretty simple. Makeup was good to go as well, which basically meant it looked like she wasn’t wearing any. This would normally be the point she would go to sit down in front of her computer, but she was working on different sorts of videos now. She turned her camera towards herself while looking just past it into the mirror so she could see herself. It took a few recordings to get it right, but the intro had to be right. She couldn’t misspeak- unless it was funny.

“What’s up C-crew! Today I’m continuing the Portal Powers series! Some people heard that people with these powers get a few different small abilities. Lots of people suggested that growing plants was naturey, and suggested I should try to talk to animals! So that’s the point of today’s video. I’m going to be heading out to look for some, I’ll see you in a bit.”

With the recording stopped, she wondered if it felt natural. She didn’t really do a lot of vlogging, so she couldn’t be sure it was right. If she was lucky, though, the pet store would have some cute kittens or something she could put in the thumbnail. 

Her phone beeped- and right on time she saw her ride was outside. The nearest pet store was a bit too far to walk, and the expense was worth it for a video. Plus she needed to save the time so she could get back in time to record her normal videos too, and then edit. Keeping a regular schedule was important and she didn’t want to fall behind.

Everything was going great for a couple minutes. She saw some fish- boring- and a snake- creepy- but then one of the workers came up and asked her to stop filming. She could have raised a fuss, or swiveled the video into outrage from being kicked out of the store… but she just politely agreed. Nothing was talking anyway, and she would feel even weirder talking out loud to animals without a camera on her. The camera was a good excuse.

“Sorry guys,” she said after she was out, making sure not to point her camera towards any signage. “First pet store doesn’t allow filming. The fish didn’t say much anyway, just ‘blub-blub’.” Too bad she didn’t get to film the kittens.

She strolled along while she browsed her phone for similar places nearby when she heard growling. A large brown dog was in the alley nearby, looming over a cat that was… barking back? “Hey! Get away from that cat!” She yelled and waved her arms. Somehow she managed to hit record in time to see it turning to run. “Yeah! Leave that cat alone!” She turned the camera towards the cat, a deep black fur covering it. “Are you alright Mister Kitty?”

The cat turned to face her directly, sitting so his body and head pointed more directly up towards her. “My name is Midnight, if you please.”

Ceira dropped her camera. It hit the ground hard. “Oh crap!” she scurried to pick it up, looking it over for damage. It was certainly scraped up, but it seemed intact- and was still recording. “Uh, ahem,” she awkwardly cleared her throat. “Sorry, did you just… speak?”

“I did, yes.”

“Yeeeeeess!” Ceira pumped her elbow. “I can talk to animals! New power!”

“I regret to inform you that you are incorrect,” Midnight said. “I am not an animal. I am a Celmothian- an alien, that just happens to look like an Earth-cat. And I am speaking English.”

Ceira barely kept her grip on the camera as the emotions washed over her. “Uh? Really?”

“Yes. That ‘dog’ you chased away was actually a Bunvorixian- another alien. I was likely going to be fine, but I appreciate the assistance regardless. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go.”

“But- wait, what?” Ceira was very confused. “You can speak English?”

Midnight had already started walking away and turned to look over his shoulder, “I thought that was rather obvious from the beginning.”

“Uh… I guess. But it’s a lot to take in all at once. Can I contact you to ask more?”

“Ugh, fine,” Midnight said. “What’s your phone number?”

“Well, it’s-” Ceira barely remembered to stop recording before that. Obviously she would edit it out, but honestly she wasn’t sure if she could use any of this. Unless she was going to start some sort of alien-centric channel, but this really didn’t have anything to do with her new plant powers. 

Somehow there was a phone on the ground in front of the cat, and he typed with a single claw. A few moments later, Ceira got a text. “There. Now I really do have to go. What is your name?”

“Oh, it’s Ceira.”

“Duly noted.” 

The phone disappeared with a weird feeling of something happening. Midnight turned to walk away. Then the cat was gone. Or alien?

Ceira looked at her camera. Could she use any footage besides the intro? Did that not-cat really speak English and pull out a phone from nowhere? Maybe she would wake up soon and realized that she didn’t actually have a power after all and would have to go back to her mundane- if decent- life.

-–Chapter Index–-