Mage Among Superheroes 56

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After I became more lucid, I realized that obviously thirty points of experience was significantly less than half a level. It was still very good, though, so I didn’t regret what had happened when trying to scry Gloom. I just regretted not doing it more effectively. 

More poking and prodding from the doctors eventually resulted in me being let go, though they made me promise to come back so they could make sure there was no brain damage. I felt fine, but an hour before I hadn’t been able to do basic math so maybe they had something.

“Sorry about that,” Great Girl had brought me to the cafeteria to get lunch, where she apologized. “I didn’t think something like that would happen with Scrying. That’s not normal, right?”

“No, usually it should be a case of nothing happening. But apparently Gloom’s powers have some sort of interaction with it. It seems a bit dangerous for now so I’ll have to try again when I’m stronger.” Would more points in Scrying help, or did I need some sort of mental defenses? Unfortunately the latter was kind of lacking at lower levels. There was the absurdly high level and powerful Mind Blank, or a small handful of protection spells that weren’t properly tuned to protect against someone like Gloom. Unless he was a Fiend? Seemed like something worth knowing, but I didn’t plan to test that with my brain possibly melting on the line.

“Yeah good idea. So do your saves go up with a higher level?”

“Save what?”

Great Girl tilted her head and frowned, “Like your… resistance to stuff? Especially mental.”

“Oh, yes,” I nodded. “It does.”

“Really?” Midnight joined in. “I haven’t noticed.”

“You wouldn’t,” I shrugged. “It’s not like you’re suddenly better. And I don’t think people have been throwing mental attacks at you.” I leaned back and sighed, “I just realized those aren’t that rare here, huh? Things like that are pretty discouraged in my world, but if you just randomly get a power it’s not like you have much choice…”

“Mental attacks are frowned upon?” Midnight asked. “Why?”

“Because it’s easy to cause irreparable harm to someone. Only higher level healing magic is of any help. It can mess people up pretty bad, and it’s kind of evil. Still short of necromancy, though.”

“Sounds like they banned it because it was too effective,” Midnight did something resembling a shrug. “But I suppose you’d know.”

“… yeah.” I thought for a few moments. I looked at Great Girl. “Mental attacks aren’t looked on more highly here, are they?”

Great Girl shook her head. “Mostly not. Though it depends on what kind. If you can just put people to sleep, it’s very useful. Anything nonlethal and without permanent effects. Any sort of mental control is… more regulated.”

“I thought so. I should avoid getting anything like that for now… especially since I’m less familiar with how most of it works. Since I wasn’t going to be able to use it anyway.”

“Yeah… so about your other problems. This Deimos guy…”

“Handface? What about him?”

She snorted. “Is that what you call him? That’s a good one. Anyway, he used some kind of higher powered rifle, right? I remember you saying Stoneskin was too expensive, but do you have Shield? It’s supposed to be a short burst of high defensive power.”

“It is,” I nodded. “It helps against most incoming attacks, but… it only lasts a short time.”

“Could you use it as a reaction to being shot?”

“Uh… if I saw someone shooting an arrow at me, maybe. If they were really slow on the trigger and I was watching, I guess the same would work with a gun. It’s a lower level spell, so gathering the mana is quick. But I’d have to know the attack was coming.” I paused to think for a moment, “It might be desirable to pick it up for use in combat instead of replacing Force Armor. Though it would be lacking my substantial number of upgrades and thus cost about an extra half point of mana.”

“That’s a shame,” Great Girl said. “What about a Contingency? You could have something trigger if you’re attacked.”

“That… would require a lot more skill points. Plus an expensive material component. Also, not immediately useful against a sniper. I would still have a hole in me and then a defensive spell would go up.” I still rubbed my neatly trimmed beard as I thought about the idea. “The idea does resolve one of my problems, however. That is, how much mana I can hold at once. Contingency requires use of all of the mana upfront, so if I could guarantee nothing would happen for a couple hours…” I shook my head.

“Oh yeah. You’re still searching for a way to recover mana more quickly, aren’t you? Maybe I could talk to some people who could help. I owe you at least that much for what happened. And a match, of course. I’m interested to see how much stronger you are. I heard you got a new spell.”

“That’s true,” I nodded. “It’s about… three times as powerful as Shocking Grasp was. Would that be okay?”

“Well… that’s fine. I owe you a serious spar for this whole fiasco. Though we should probably put it off for a couple days to make sure you don’t have any lasting damage.”

She was right, of course, but that didn’t mean I had to like waiting.


Over the next two days I learned that ivory was illegal, and rubies were still really expensive. That made me wonder what parts of the material component were actually important, and which were just tradition. I knew things didn’t necessarily have to be expensive, though it made sense that it would be the case when there were a lot of high level wizards vying for the same materials. In this case, the component might be called a ‘focus’ as it wouldn’t go away afterwards. It was just a little statue of the caster to hold onto the magic. Thus it made sense that any sort of magically conductive materials would be usable, but unfortunately I didn’t know anything in this world that would do it but gemstones. Maybe I could get a license to get some ivory?

That, and what other spells I might get once I actually had more points to spare, occupied my thoughts. When I got more points from my next level I wasn’t going to spend them all on a high level spell that I couldn’t use. For multiple reasons, since the mana cost would also be prohibitive.

Then I got a text from an unknown number. Fortunately, the sender eventually identified themself.


Greetings, Turlough

I have just obtained a phone, so I am making use of this to thank you for your help on multiple occasions now. I hope it finds you well… and not asleep. I understand you are back on a diurnal schedule since some sort of attack, so I am sending this just before I go to sleep. I hope you have recovered well.

Given an additional week, I have greatly increased my mastery of the English language. How is it? I have set my phone to ‘silent’ so I will be able to receive texts from you during the day without being awoken unnecessarily, if you desire to contact me.

Do not hesitate to contact me on the phone in the future if you need my assistance during the night.

Good Morning,



She’d written in English. She had to, since I was pretty sure her language’s alphabet wouldn’t be available in Earth’s phones. I was pretty sure ‘an additional week’ was not sufficient to learn English, but there could very well be some sort of magic involved. Unfortunately I doubted I could learn anything about magic from her, since it was from a whole different world and, well, blood magic. Even if I could do it, it was better for me to not. The same went for methods to recover mana. The texts on that in my world had been pretty sparse, for obvious reasons.

I sent her a much shorter reply. Texts weren’t for using a lot of words. I also didn’t have much to say, except wishing her good luck.

I hadn’t done any scrying since the Gloom incident. I wasn’t going to try to look for him again and nobody else would have that effect, but that was the doctor’s orders. Ignoring healers was a bad idea.

Nobody was eager to run into battle with Handface anyway. One guy with a rifle? Acid Man could take him out. But we knew he had some interaction with supervillains, and people working for him. There could be several people with guns just as powerful. As for why they weren’t used more often… they were highly illegal. They wouldn’t get people locked up in jail either- they would get them dead. At least if supers had to be involved, they were extremely uncharitable about people with weapons designed for actually killing them. I couldn’t blame them, either. If I got a chance I was going to use a full powered Sonic Lance right into Handface’s guts and probably explode him. Unless he had enhanced durability somehow, but I was aware that normal people still died just the same even if they were soldiers. That was why people wore armor. Even supers and people with levels appreciated more safety.

It was a shame we couldn’t keep up patrols, but the area was probably safer without us at the moment. I was worried about my companions as well. Several of us were in the works for upgraded outfits, but nothing was perfect. I had the points available to purchase Stoneskin, but it wasn’t enough to cover our whole team with all of my mana. Though I could cover myself- which would carry over to Midnight- and Shockfire, who was most vulnerable. That would leave me with a measly handful of mana however. Still worth considering if we were going to end up in similar situations. In that case… I put some diamond dust on order. I wouldn’t spend the points until it came in just in case, but I knew I’d eventually want it. And if I didn’t use the diamond dust, it was just money. What else was I going to use it for? Maybe some kind of gem encrusted ivory statue of myself, but twenty or thirty dollars wasn’t going to make a difference there.


An extra hour before my spar with Great Girl was set aside for one specific reason. Safety was important, and no healers could fix death. Or at least, if they could it was very secret. And based on my world, also very difficult and expensive.

Since we wanted to avoid even getting close to that, I was demonstrating Sonic Lance on a testing doll of some sort. Apparently it exploding would give her some idea of how much it would hurt her. And it should explode, if it was close in makeup to a human. It was enough to kill someone several times over if they took a direct hit to the vitals.

I raised my hand towards the dummy that was the lone feature in a random training room. I gathered the slightly less than five mana for a Sonic Lance with a single upgrade and cast the spell. As expected, the thing exploded- but only the torso, and not all of it. 

“Hmm, interesting,” Great Girl nodded. “I kind of expected to see it a little bit.”

“Why? It’s sound.”

She shrugged, “I don’t know. Lots of sound powers have visible features. Maybe the air wavered a bit but… that was it. So do you have to extend your arm like that?”

“I do have to aim it,” I admitted. An outstretched arm was the easiest way, and spells had to originate from somewhere. Hands were one of the most convenient and least risky. Trying atypical options usually resulted in unpleasant side effects. Telling her was fine, because it would still be effective.

After that I sat and waited, looking at a Power Brigade energy bar in my hand. It was fine. Not particularly tasty but not gross to eat. I just wished it gave me the kind of energy I wanted. But alas, it did not. In my world high level casters just had to be patient about recovering their mana- or evil, blood and soul stealing psychopaths who were simply put down- but I had hopes that this world would have more. And if not… I’d just have to get to the point where I had a large mana pool. And that meant more fighting.

Even as I entered the training room again, Great Girl was already there waiting- and not just her normal six foot height either, but a solid eight. It was quite a bit more intimidating than normal, especially with her stance. A serious fight was good for me, but I had the feeling this one might result in more than a couple broken ribs if I wasn’t careful.

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