I was glad that I wasn’t chosen for the next match. Either Maks or myself would have to fight two in a row, and I drew the lucky straw. Sort of. Given my offer to provide force Armor for the three of us, I was short on mana. A short break between the matches allowed me to recover some mana as Maks and Rasmus began their fight.
Having seen Maks’ performance I had expected him to be at an advantage in the next fight as well. I barely did any damage to him, a single punch striking his force armor and a Firebolt that did nothing. Less than nothing, I suppose, since it allowed him a counterattack.
The battle started with Rasmus charging towards Maks, where he was met by a cone of fire. I was shocked when I saw that it completely melted him into a green puddle. And more shocked when I saw that Mezlti was unconcerned and the puddle was moving along the floor. I could feel my Force Armor spell was still active, so Rasmus probably hadn’t just been killed.
As the green puddle crawled along the ground Maks pointed his hand and shot another bolt of lightning like the one that had taken me out. It struck dead center in the puddle… and hit nothing as the liquid spread out in all directions. Then it snapped back together as it got close to Maks, who hadn’t been retreating. It turned into a wave that reached up from the floor and splashed over him, clinging to the Force Armor surrounding Maks.
Maks panicked just like me, trying to run away when he really should have attacked. It was clear watching from the sidelines, but not so clear when actually participating. Maks managed to begin coating himself with flame again, but his Force Armor crumbled and the green acid dropped onto him. Maks screamed loudly… even as the puddle dripped to the floor and left him perfectly fine.
The pool slid away from the flames and pulled itself back into the shape of Rasmus, the green liquid fading into his pale skin and the less reflective green of his outfit. “Relax, I only melt what I want to. And that wasn’t flesh.”
Maks was breathing heavily, eyes wide, as he put his hands on his knees to support himself. “That was terrifying.”
“Yeah, I understand,” Rasmus nodded seriously, “I only awakened my power when I fell into a vat of acid.”
“I got struck by lightning,” Maks said.
I just picked to be a mage when I was a little kid. So I didn’t really have a bonding moment with them. It seemed many abilities were revealed or created in stressful situations, based on my research on supers of all sorts.
Meztli clapped her hands, “That’s the match then, no injuries on either of you?” They both shook their head. “Then we’ll allow for Rasmus to rest before we begin the last match between the three of you.”
That was me versus Rasmus. It was only a short break after that before our match was to begin. We stood across from each other, but before we started I walked up to him. “Your armor is shaky. I need to refresh it before we start.” I tapped him on his shoulder, somewhat wary about touching his skin… though actually it seemed his suit had also turned into acid.
“Thanks,” he nodded as I returned to my position.
I nodded in return, and just glanced at my experience. Had it gone up during the match between the other two? It seemed like it. I hadn’t had the opportunity to fight with others on my side in Mossley, or really that much fighting at all. Thus, I hadn’t been sure if my spells supporting others while they fought would provide experience. The books about experience had been somewhat more vague. They said that casting spells on others was worth experience, but with Aspect of the Barbarian I wasn’t sure if it would count as combat.
It was somewhat unfortunate that I’d offered Force Armor for the others. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, but it really hampered my prospects of winning. Even with the short breaks between matches, I only had about six mana left.
That meant I could cast Haste and nothing else- which seemed like an awful idea, since he could just ignore me until it wore off. Or I could do something better. So far it seemed like he didn’t have any ranged abilities, and while he could probably dodge around my Firebolt I still had my favorite option.
As soon as the battle began I used Mage’s Reach, conjuring up a semi-real spooky hand. I moved it rapidly forward towards Rasmus, aiming for his chest. Somewhat predictably he melted into a puddle. Stopping the hand and shoving it towards the floor wasn’t too hard. Once more he spread out into a ring to avoid my hand touching him. Here was where I had to hope for something. I’d only seen it once, so I couldn’t be sure… but I had ideas.
I held my hand in the center of Rasmus as he moved towards me, trailing just above the concrete floor. As he got close to me, the ring trembled and then collapsed. Even so, Rasmus managed to prevent prolonged contact with the Shocking Grasp. It discharged but didn’t completely break the Force Armor on him like it should have. I’d held back slightly because it should have overwhelmed the defense by about a factor of two, but he’d managed to prevent that.
It was immediately clear there was no more charge on Mage’s Reach. I don’t know how Rasmus saw as a puddle, but he clearly had some method as he lunged towards me, washing over me much like he had Maks. It was a reasonable method of attack, but I covered my head with my right arm.
It did nothing to stop the weight of the acid or how it splashed all over me, despite holding up my arm to protect myself. Ramsus had excellent control, completely avoiding my hand and my other arm. That didn’t stop me from using Shocking Grasp, though. Just because it seemed like it should come from a hand didn’t mean that was the only way it could work. Anything touching me could be shocked.
I had just barely enough mana for it, and that was with making it weaker giving consideration to the Force Armor on him. Speaking of which, I had no idea what shape it was but it managed to conform to him just fine in his puddle form.
It shattered a moment later, and before the acid hanging over me could eat through my own Force Armor the somewhat sticky acid twitched and fell apart, gathering into a puddle at my feet that I leapt back from. It coalesced back into Rasmus without issue, but he was unconscious. Not really injured, though.
I smiled as I passed out from mana exhaustion. Got him!
When I woke up, I was in a bed. A hospital bed, or at least something like it. I heard people talking. One was a voice I didn’t recognize.
“All of his vitals appear fine. I can find no reason he would have gone unconscious.”
“People don’t just pass out for no reason, Doctor Martinez,” a voice I recognize as Meztli said.
“I’m sure he didn’t, but everything was within normal parameters. Even adrenaline, considering he was just in combat.”
Meztli was beginning to sound worried. “So what could have-”
“Mana exhaustion,” I interrupted. “That’s why I passed out.”
“You’re up,” came the unfamiliar voice, which soon revealed an unfamiliar face with a short beard. “Glad to see it. How are you feeling.”
“Tired,” I said. “But that’s normal.”
“Is it?” the man who must have been Doctor Martinez asked. “Can you explain what mana exhaustion is?”
“It’s when you run out of mana.” But that wasn’t going to be that useful, was it? “It’s how I power my magic. If I go below a certain threshold…” I shrugged. It wasn’t fun to pass out from mana exhaustion, but as long as I didn’t hit my head I would be fine.
“I see,” he said without seeming concerned. “What accelerates your recovery?”
“Nothing,” I said. “It recovers at a set rate.” One point per ten minutes. Though he didn’t need to know that, probably.
“Are you sure?” the doctor raised an eyebrow. He held out a Power Brigade Energy Bar. “Food and rest don’t help with recovery?”
I shook my head. I knew from tales of archmages that it was the same during rest. Nobody below level 40 or so had enough mana to know for sure if it recovered at the same rate when sleeping. “It seems pretty set.”
“What about my ability?” Meztli poked her head into view. “Did it not help you recover?”
“It certainly refreshed my physical stamina and helped recover wounds when you did it,” I said. “But not mana.”
“How unfortunate,” Doctor Martinez said. “Perhaps you should explore options to improve your capacity somehow.”
“It will go up on its own,” I replied. “At least, if I keep training.” And getting levels.
“Is that so?” he nodded. “I’m surprised there isn’t a way to recover mana more quickly. Many people can absorb from something.
“Well, there isn’t.” That wasn’t true, but it also wasn’t… not true. I certainly didn’t have any mana wells to draw from, and I wasn’t going to get into blood sacrifices or anything like that.
“It might be useful to try to find something unknown,” Mezlti said. “This world is different from yours, so there could be something. Recovery can be as important as maximum stamina.”
I considered that for a few moments. “You could be right. I’ve seen a lot of weird things here. But just training more should help significantly.” I really should have been a higher level at my age. But here I was, only level 12. 13. Whatever. I did smile slightly upon looking though.
|Turlough (No surname)|
Shocking Grasp +3
Force Armor +6
Mage’s Reach +1
Remaining Points: 17
“Are you aware of any long term negative effects from mana exhaustion?” Doctor Martinez said.
“There shouldn’t be any. Though I don’t plan to push myself that far often. It’s not pleasant.”
“Good to hear,” he made notes on a tablet he held in his hand. “Have you recovered some mana now?”
I nodded. “I wouldn’t be conscious otherwise.” Right now I had a few points of mana again, so I had to have been out for a third of an hour at least. Plus the one point from leveling, which unfortunately didn’t come in quick enough.
“I’ll have to scan you again, then. I might be able to detect some changes.” Seeming to take my silence as consent, he reached out to touch my arm. It seemed I wasn’t currently protected by Force Armor, since I felt some sort of energy go into me without issue. Probably fell apart the first time he did this. I felt a plane of energy move from the tips of my fingers down up arm, touching everything along the way before sliding to my torso, going up through my head and then my other arm before continuing down towards my legs, ending with my right toes. “Everything is… exactly the same. Except your brain patterns, of course, since you’re conscious now. No hint of psionic energy.”
“I didn’t feel you interact with my mana at all,” I said.
“Where is it located?” Doctor Martinez asked.
“… in me?” I tilted my head. “My soul, I think?”
He nodded. “That would explain it. Perhaps we might get someone qualified to help you, if your career here goes well.”
“Speaking of which,” I looked over at Meztli, “I guess I ruined the rest of the training session.”
“The others can continue,” Meztli said. “It might be less effective without the protection you can provide, but it seems that you need to rest. We’ll have you back in tomorrow, but the format will be different.”
I nodded. I could possibly provide Force Armor for one of the others, maybe both if I upgraded it some more for increased efficiency… but that would only do them good for a short time. At least she didn’t seem terribly upset that I passed out. I knew that wasn’t a good look for a new recruit.