Perhaps I was prone to making rash decisions. Deciding that I should be a mage just because someone said orcs were too stupid to do it was a bit rash. The people who said it would have deserved it if I firebolted them in the face. Sure, that would have made me the angry, violent orc- but humans made me that way. I don’t think I acted more angrily or violently than they would have in the same circumstances.
But while I didn’t think it was fair to call me angry or violent or stupid, calling me reckless was probably appropriate. Going through the portal to find things to fight so I could level up made sense. I was willing to deal with the danger- though clearly not ready to handle as much of it as appeared. The problem was with the rest.
I was on a strange plane I had never heard of. The city I was in was populated mainly by humans, or at least something so close I couldn’t tell the difference. I didn’t speak the language without magic- and I was out of mana. I didn’t know how to buy food or shelter.
I also didn’t know that the road I was on had magic carriages that went extremely fast. Not until I heard one make a loud noise, its driver spouting what was certainly profanity as it swerved around me from behind. Lesson learned- the black pavement was for those. Grey pavement was for walking.
More magic carriages crossed my path the further I went, and more people. I got strange looks. Mostly curious, some suspicious, but none outright hostile. I wanted to ask someone for directions or something, but I had to wait a full thirty minutes to recover enough mana to cast a full translation spell instead of a quarter-assed one.
I saw a few people who weren’t humans. What they were I couldn’t tell, but they didn’t seem to be orcs, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, demons, fey… anything I knew of. What plane was this? Humans weren’t so dominant on any plane but the material, were they? I should have heard about it.
People with masks and weird colorful clothing occasionally passed by. Several of them gave a standard greeting, which I returned. “Good day, citizen!” A man snickered. Was my accent off because of the weak magic? Well, at least mirth was an acceptable outcome to social interactions.
I had three problems.
Problem number one.
This plane did not speak common for some reason. I wasn’t even aware of a place that was so deviant in their languages. In fact, I saw a number of written languages that were completely unlike what I was used to and unlike each other.
The Translation spell worked. Given half an hour of walking the streets I regained enough mana for a full powered Translation spell that would function properly, and last long enough that I could still end up recovering mana for other uses given time. Once I looked at the varying written languages I was even more certain that they were different. The way the spell translated them was different, and I got different amounts of meaning from each character or symbolic word. It didn’t give me enough understanding to replicate things without the spell functioning, but I understood the full spread of variability. I saw at least a dozen languages and overheard a few being spoken in the first half hour.
That time, it wasn’t me saying it. I figured out it was weird. I waved to the hero even as I kept well to my side of the ‘sidewalk’. Heroes were the people in colorful apparel and masks.
Though there were also villains who dressed similarly and were more malicious. I understood the meaning of the word just fine, and I saw on a magic box people talking about where I had come through. Some sort of “Doctor Doomsday” with a “dimensionatron”. I wasn’t comfortable with how to determine hero from villain right away so I steered clear of both. I either didn’t encounter any villains or they found me beneath their notice. That was fine with me for the moment. I had no idea what level anyone was, but with all the fighting and magic I saw earlier it had to be high. Everyone could get experience from fighting- I just got more and was restricted to it as my only avenue for advancement.
Problem number two.
My stomach growled to remind me it was still hungry. I was not concerned about my ability to find food. All I had to do was close my eyes, spin around randomly, then point. I would probably be pointing at a dining establishment or street cart selling food. I required sustenance. In a similar vein, I needed rest. Magic made one tired and hungry. I could spend the night outdoors, but I did not find the idea agreeable. I could… yes, I had enough points to learn the Temperate Zone spell. I would not die of exposure, at least.
My eyes scanned the nearby buildings. Hotel. That name didn’t quite translate, but I felt it had the same meaning as the holy day inn next to it. I wasn’t sure if there were enough holy days to merit an establishment catering exclusively to pilgrims, but this new plane was strange enough that it might be possible.
Thus, with establishments found that could sate my hunger and my need for shelter, I was saved. If not for…
Problem number three.
It was difficult to tell the expense of dining establishments. I decided to enter one where I saw one of the non-human individuals carrying some sort of food and drink out. It seemed to have the food readily available, and I hoped cheaply available. I didn’t exactly have a job here.
The door chimed a bell when I opened it, but it had done the same as the other patron exited. “How much for one of those?” I pointed to some sort of sausage behind glass. Glass seemed to be everywhere. Perhaps this whole city was extremely wealthy and the prices inflated beyond belief.
The granny behind the counter pointed up and behind her. “The prices are there.”
I looked. I wasn’t sure what prices were what. I didn’t see any corn, but apparently a corn dog was .3 more than a hot dog. That was .3 out of $1.49 and $1.79 respectively. But what was a $? Copper? Silver? There was no way it was gold or platinum. I didn’t have coins that could be broken into such precise pieces. I took out a copper. “How much is this worth?”
The old lady took it and looked, squinting her eyes. Then she put some sort of glass things on her face. Goggles? Was the coin hot or bright or something? Maybe she’d be using an identification or weight calculating spell. “Sorry sonny, I can’t accept foreign currency.”
“Oh.” Why not? The weight of coins was pretty standard. Even if this plane was different she should at least have scales to measure.
I found myself shoved to the side unceremoniously. A large man slapped the counter. “Cigarettes.”
I had no idea what that word meant, but it sounded like a threat. I was just about ready to fight, but the old lady harrumphed. And pulled something out. I noticed she took some sort of paper the man had plopped onto the counter along with his hands. A number appeared like magic on a surface in front of us. Then she opened a drawer and placed the paper inside, pulling out several other papers and some coins. My jaw dropped to the floor. There were big silver coins, a second size of silver coins, even smaller copper coins, and further truly miniscule silver coins. The man got some of each and some notes. I couldn’t work out the value of the coins, but based on the paper saying 10 and the magic thing saying 5, whereupon he received in return four papers marked 1 and coins, a paper was a $. A dollar, Translation said. A paper marked 10 was therefore $10.
“What you looking at, mutie?”
The large man was quite a bit wider than me, though only minorly taller. I had accidentally been staring at him and the money. I turned away. He walked outside. I heard the door chime as he left.
“What an asshole,” said the old lady behind the counter. “Best stay away from folk like him. Give New Bay a bad name. Why don’t you head down to the bank and exchange your money? I can tell you just got in. You from Uck?”
“What?” I asked.
“Hmm. Guess I was wrong.”
“About that bank?” I asked. “Where is it?”
“Just down the road. Go under the freeway and hang a left at Pader.”
“… right.” She at least pointed. I wasn’t too bad with directions.
I stepped out of the store that appeared to be a roundabout way to say negative four. Numbers seemed pretty consistent between languages? Though I hadn’t seen that many.
Problem number four.
Something hit me in the back of the head. Hard. Like, hard enough to kill a man. I know, because my armor shattered and I still felt a strong blow. I fell forward onto my face and it took a moment to get my bearings. I just managed to roll over and cast the Force Armor spell again when a mace slammed into the ground where I had been a moment before.
It was the man who had been at the store. The one who bought ‘cigarettes’ and called me a ‘mutie’. Perhaps a cigarette was the thing in his mouth? He spit it at me, right into my eye. I blinked. It had no force or real heat, but it was reflexive. He swung the strange mace which was like a fully metal and extra thick truncheon. It hit me, but I was half ready. I blocked with my arms and relaxed them to soften the blow slightly. My armor didn’t shatter, but it was close. The most dangerous result, really. I leapt to my feet and swiped my hand at the man. Shocking Grasp was at full power. I didn’t sense any magical defenses from the man, but I didn’t really care. I had to live.
He raised one arm to block my hand. I still hit his arm, and the spell released to full effect. The man spasmed and twitched and fell over onto his back. I stood over him for a moment, wondering what to do.
“Freeze!” a voice yelled. “You’re coming with me!”
I turned towards the voice. Someone in a uniform. Not a hero. Nor a villain. Someone with an uncovered face. ‘Police’, read something on his chest. Some sort of city guard, if I surmised correctly.
“Don’t even think about it. My partner’s watching and Super backup is already on the way.”
I hadn’t actually thought about much of anything. “He attacked me. I was just defending myself.”
“Tell that to the interrogators.”
I narrowed my eyes.
“What? I mean it. I saw you two fighting. I have to bring you both in for questioning. Don’t worry, we’re not going to discriminate against you on account of your… differences.”
I found that unlikely. But the way he was holding that metal thing in front of him indicated it was a weapon of some sort. I did have the points to learn an extremely short range teleport if things went haywire. Assuming they didn’t stick me in an antimagic prison. Yet while there was clearly magic in this place, I hadn’t felt any enchanted buildings. “Fine. I will comply.”
“Hands out in front of you.” I complied. “Wrists together.” As I did so, he put on shackles. Very thin shackles that locked themselves. Magically enhanced, probably. So much for that escape thing. “Where’s the stun gun?”
“The what?” I asked.
“The stun gun.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe it fell.” I had no idea what it was, but saying that might not help.
The man looked over me. “Couldn’t hide it in those pockets. Stand over by that while there while I check that guy on the ground.” I didn’t bother to inform him that I could probably hide many things, though not actually in my pockets. He kneeled next to the man, then pulled out a wand and waved it over him. Was he a healing mage? No, if he needed a wand it was probably a power of the wand. Except the man didn’t get up, and the wand just made a strange noise. “Yeah yeah, I know.” He held his hand to his chest, “Can we get a medic?” Then there was a bunch of jargon, possibly an explanation of our location. Was he talking to himself, or… magic. More magic. I knew there were spells to communicate long distance, but enchanting something to repeatedly use that magic seemed expensive.
Without noticing, a man with biceps the size of my torso had appeared. He had a mask. A hero. Unfortunately, I didn’t think he was here to rescue me. “Just stay right there.”
I did. I doubted my armor spell would prevent a slap from him in its current condition, or even if it was at full power to be honest. He was a Super, which probably meant someone with a combat class. Did that mean the police weren’t a combat class, then? Strange.
I was put into the back of a ‘car’ a short while later. The man who was apparently the partner of the first police began driving the magical carriage with a strange wheel and some pedals at his feet. He did not appear interested in conversation, and I decided to allow him silence from behind the shielded separator between front and back.