Mage Among Superheroes 155

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There were times during battle when I did not recognize the danger. This was the case with the safehouse, as part of my jacket was gone leaving a wide hole over my chest. I had no way to know if Stoneskin could block whatever sorts of mini death rays those minions had. Though if we actually managed to capture some, we might be able to test on some sort of dummy.

Clean up and investigation crews swarmed over the area, along with a few people from the Brigade trained to secure Doctor Doomsday’s equipment using the principles of Rodentia’s super tech. There were some with generally weaker tech powers who could at least reproduce certain things. I saw them retrieve at least one fully intact AEGIS from the orc who warped my staff- which now looked like a gnarled corkscrew. I was also interested in the remains of the knives the assassin drow had. The material had become the core of my staff, providing storage for mana and a dispelling effect. I was quite eager to have more of that.

On that note, I picked up my staff, activating the dispelling power to return it to its proper form. I was about as disappointed as I had expected. The wood remained exactly as it was. Which, unfortunately, made sense. It was not actively being held in its shape, it had just been twisted. The magic was done. I wrung the staff in my hands, as if that could somehow return it to its former state… or do anything. How did an orc even learn magic?


“So,” Doctor Patenaude asked. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” I said.

“Mhm,” he made the familiar sound of taking notes. 

“That sounds like you don’t believe me.”

“Is that so? What would cause me to not believe you?”

I wanted to say previous experience, and that maybe I had been bothered by encountering orcs before but I was fine this time. But I also knew he could read my feelings. “How am I feeling?”

“That is what I asked you,” he pointed out.

“But I know you know.”

“I do,” he said clearly. “But the point is not for me to know. It is for you to know. Have you been losing touch with your emotions?”

“I’ve been keeping track of them. I think.” I paused to think. “Learning a way to expand my mana capacity made me happy.”

“At risk to your own health, it seems. It is my job to make sure your mental state is taken care of, but I also cannot recommend improving your mental health via physical risk.”

“It’s fine, I got checked after.” Not directly, of course, but I was scanned and there were no signs of problems less than a few days later.

“I will trust your judgment on that,” Doctor Patenaude said. “So, what do you feel?”

“About what?”

“The orcs, of course.”

“Angry, I guess. Why did they have to be… like that? Attacking people for Doctor Doomsday. Hiding out with drow assassins. Making everyone think I’m violent.”

“I will concede your final point, given their continued presence in this world,” Doctor Patenaude said. “But when you were one of the solitary individuals here, that was mostly true of your own world. Or at least the parts you knew.”

I didn’t like feeling angry. It made me think of being a barbarian. So I tried to move onto something else. “The drow made me kind of… jealous? Is that an emotion?”

“It is certainly involved with emotions. What about them? Their physiques? People’s perceptions?”

“Hah, no. They’re probably worse than orcs. That comes with vows to evil and all that. But I don’t really care about that. They just have cool magic materials for their daggers and I want more of that.” I sighed, “Especially if I have to replace my staff. I hope Vilhelmiina could make another, though the wood probably isn’t replaceable.”

“What happened to your staff?” Doctor Patenaude asked.

“This,” I said, pulling it out of Storage. “It’s not really… wieldable anymore. Not even close. Makes me want to smash in his stupid face. The battle was kind of busy for that, though.”

“And smashing in the face of an unconscious individual would be rather barbaric.”



“So, can you fix it?” I held up my staff for Vilhelmiina.

“That would imply that it is broken. Which, by a certain perspective, it is not. But it’s also not useful.”

“Yeah…” I hung my head. “I was hoping it could be fixed.”

She answered quickly, “As much as I would like to make a wood-straightening machine or whip you up some Yggdrasil Wood MK II with magic resistance, I have more important things to do right now.”

It seemed I had been taking her help for granted. I had heard about the flights of fancy that tech supers experienced, but I had not yet found myself on the other side of an obsession. “Alright. I guess I’ll see myself out.”

As I turned to leave, she called after me. “Mage. I have lived long enough with limited social skills to have learned to pick up on basic things.” I turned to look over my shoulder as I listened to her words. “You seem disappointed, and I want to assure you that my words were not sarcastic. But I am quite busy at the moment, and neither the city nor your Brigade would be pleased if I were to delay my efforts. I expect this situation to continue for at least a month… so I would suggest you continue to look for solutions elsewhere.”

I left slightly less disappointed. She was right. Clearly, I either didn’t know her as well as I thought, or I knew her well enough and simply second-guessed myself. Of course she would actually want to immediately swap to a random idea she had, but just because she had before didn’t mean she was always capable of doing so. And I couldn’t really ask for anything more, since I’d already benefited from her expertise. 

I wondered if I could create a spell that would improve my social interactions. I was technically aware I could enhance my mind or persuasive power, but neither seemed to fully fit. And that was the problem, wasn’t it? I needed to understand what it was that I wanted, and if I didn’t how could I use a spell for it? Even the spells I learned through a menu I had some practical understanding of. That was why it had been so hard to use Storage at first.


Recognizing that something bothered me unfortunately did not stop me from being bothered. Instead, it brought it to the forefront of my mind. I couldn’t stop talking about it. Midnight was one of my victims, though the only thing he could offer me was supportive pity. I knew it was genuine, at least. 

“It does look much harder to wield,” he said. “Though I couldn’t have picked it up anyway.”

“Hmm, good point,” I nodded. “Except with Mage’s Reach, you can make sorts of hands.”

“Not having fingers normally makes that only minimally practical.” Midnight paused, then came up with another one of his surprising insights. “Is the problem with your staff that you would hit yourself with it being distorted? Could you not hold it in your hands with two of Mage’s Reach?”

A few moments later, I was holding my staff floating in the air in front of me, held up by both a left and right hand Mage’s Reach. I almost swung it around, but that wasn’t appropriate to do most places. I did wiggle it a bit, and I came up with a problem. “The lack of symmetry would make it difficult… but I like the idea.” Nothing would stop me from doing it if the staff was fixed, though. Except the mana cost, which wasn’t too bad.

The next person that I brought it up with was Khithae, when I saw her at lunch. “Do any of your powers let you fix this?” I asked. “I can put in an official request, if you need.”

“Hmm…” the gecko-woman clasped her fingers around the staff. “This is not something I’ve had to test.” She turned the staff over in her hands, “How did it end up this way? I don’t see any signs of stress or fracturing.”

“Magic,” I said. “I don’t know what spell.”

“I will make the attempt,” she said. “One moment.” I felt her gather mana. Not more than a handful, but more than a first level spell. I felt the magic flow through the staff, and it did… nothing. “My apologies. It appears this is the natural state of things, now. It is not damaged, really.”

“Not damaged or broken, but definitely not right. Thank you for trying,” I said. “If you ever need me… well, you know where I live. It’s not as conveniently located anymore though.” I thought for a few moments. “How are the Western Luxury Apartments treating you?”

“Better,” she said. “They are closer to luxury than they used to be. Much of the building is in better repair.”

“Are you… maintaining that place too? All by yourself?”

“I am being paid by the landlord. It is not as much as I could technically earn otherwise, but it was not allowed to deteriorate on purpose. There were physical and financial restraints.”

“It’s in a pretty good part of the city. Money shouldn’t have been bad.”

“The rent has traditionally been low. It simply seemed to be because of its condition when I moved in, but it is also in part due to the care of the landlord.”

“If only there were more people like that,” I said. “I feel the prices, and I have a good paying job.” I had seen where Tylissa and Jerome lived. They were thinking about moving soon, with the main thing keeping them around being Jerome’s friend. Tylissa’s new job should earn more than what she was doing before. Everyone at the Power Brigade was paid well, which wasn’t surprising based on what independent supers could manage to pull in if they had a method. Though people like me weren’t useful outside of a mercenary context, Khithae’s ability to repair things that were considered irreparable was of great value. She also had magic.

“Whoa, what happened to your staff?” Those words heralded the appearance of one of my primary complaint vectors, though even if I didn’t expect Great Girl to solve most of my problems, she had a surprisingly high success rate.

“My staff got messed up,” I said, leaving out the ‘by an orc’ part. I didn’t want to admit to such a thing, even if I was the one not in special power restricting cuffs.

“I see that,” she said. “That sucks,” she sat down. 

“Yes,” I agreed. “It does. Khithae can’t repair it because it’s not broken. Vilhelmiina said the same thing, and she’s too busy to make up some super tech thing.”

“So what caused it?” Great Girl said, taking the staff in hand and flexing it slightly. “Clearly wasn’t bent by hand. It would snap, right?”

“It was magic,” I said.
“What kind? Some sort of curse?”

“I’m not certain. It doesn’t seem to still be magic though.”

Great Girl nodded, “I see. What sort of caster was it?”

“Uh…” The correct answer was still not ‘an orc’. “He enhanced his strength then did this. I didn’t see him do anything else.”

“I mean, I guess that could be a lot of things,” Great Girl admitted. “But like, this is wood. So probably a druid? This could be the Warp Wood spell.”

I narrowed my eyes. “That’s a spell?”

“I thought you read the spell list on the website to compare?”

“… I read the ‘wizard’ spells,” I admitted. “I didn’t know enough about druid spells to compare. But I suppose it makes sense that he was a druid.”

“Too bad you don’t know any druids.”

I blinked. “I should talk to Ceira.”


“She was involved in the Stargirl incident.” I realized that was insufficient context. “The one with Gloom attacking the fan rally we were infiltrating.”

“Oh. She was fine right? I guess if you’re mentioning her…”

“She was physically unharmed and barely injured mentally,” I said. “Unfortunately, she will have to manually learn the spell as she does not have the… full experience.” While the Power Brigade was aware of the other side of Portal Powers, not everyone inside would know. “We were thinking of bringing her to correct that, if we should find an opportunity. Speaking of which… I haven’t explained that to you yet, Khithae. We could figure out what class you are.”

“Isn’t she just an Artificer?” Great Girl asked, then looked at our confused faces. “What? I know they’re not in every version, and you’re not from a world with classes, but come on. They’re like… tech mages. Or object focused ones, at least.”

“… I had not considered that avenue of power exploration,” Khithae said. “Repairing things in impossible ways was already quite amazing.”

“Well, I can show you what you might be able to do,” Great Girl said. “I’m surprised you didn’t look it up on your own. Weren’t you curious?”

“I am not used to such things,” Khithae said. “Like type-F worlds. I assumed since Mage had no explanation…”

“Sorry,” I shrugged, “I wasn’t that interested in reading that stuff.”

“But you love reading and magic!” Great Girl said.

“Yeah, but that’s not real.”

“None of it-” she sighed, “It’s probably real somewhere. Doesn’t make it less cool if it isn’t.” 

The way she folded her arms was one of the signs I had learned. I didn’t know exactly what I meant, except it wasn’t good. There I went, upsetting one of my few friends after she helped out. Though she would likely get over it quickly with a proper apology.

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