(Patreon) Mage Among Superheroes 5

-–Chapter Index–-

There were so many interesting people to look at around Extra HQ, so many strange things in the wide open room presumably related to all of the people coming through. I saw a few people step out of a big orb without anybody entering- perhaps some sort of portal? I could have spent hours looking at the giant hourglass and the various spinning things or the aquatic section where they had a whole office flooded with water.

Of course, I spent most of my time in Extra HQ in a boring room. 

“Sorry I don’t have one of the outside rooms to give you a view of the bay,” Zorphax said. “Too much light gives me a headache.”

Malaliel had been called away for something else- I was betting on truth reading abilities but I couldn’t be sure. Though apparently I was ‘in her department’ I was physically in Zorphax’s office with an assistant helping.

The dark skinned, bespectacled assistant was ‘printing’ and filling out papers. Here on Earth I’d seen a much larger number of people with glasses and goggles and the like, instead of just weird artificers. They had huge glass windows too. I wondered who made those, since I hadn’t seen any craftsman or forges of any sort as we moved through the city. Maybe they were just sealed inside with all of the heat instead of having it open? That seemed extremely unpleasant.

“Type F, you said?” the assistant confirmed. He had a little thing on his chest which said Basant, which I determined was his name.

“That’s right Basant,” Zorphax said as he pressed buttons that seemed to interact with a large magic square in front of him. It was a different sort from the one they’d had at the police station which could be held in the hand.

“Super powers?”

“Magic,” I corrected.

“Mhm,” Basant nodded his head. “Speaks English…”

“That’s also magic,” I pointed out. “I mostly speak common and like half of orcish.”

“Is there a limit to your communication magic?” Zorphax asked.

“It’s magic so… it’s limited by mana. But I can regenerate more than it uses if I’m not doing anything else.” I shook my head, “I don’t understand words that represent things I haven’t heard of before.”

“I’ll mark that as a working understanding,” the assistant said. “Can you read and write?”

“Yes.” Translation was a powerful spell. It cost more than any of my combat spells to use, so it wasn’t crazy. Of course, it also lasted for a significant duration. 

The assistant moved on to the next thing, “Any training in a trade or profession?”

“I didn’t pick a trade class,” I answered.

“Got it. Not sure if skills from a type F would translate anyway…”

“Is type F good or bad?” I asked. I understood that was a letter in their alphabet, but I had no idea where it was placed. Were the earlier letters better or worse?

Zorphax and the assistant exchanged glances… probably. I couldn’t actually tell where Zorphax was looking with those fully black eyes. “It’s just descriptive and functional,” Zorphax said. “It’s not really bad or good.”

It might have been bad. He didn’t seem to want to talk about it. Oh well, there wasn’t much to be done about it.

“Are you capable of manual labor?” the assistant asked.

“Well, I am an orc.” All I got back was a blank stare. “Assuming humans here are the same, I should be bigger and stronger than most of them.” It was entirely possible that the lifestyle of a mage would have left me somewhat flimsy, but all that running was good for me and I kept myself vaguely fit at least.

“We might be able to set you up with some sort of labor job,” Basant said. 

“Oh.” I frowned. “I was hoping I could be a hero or something.”

“That’s uh…” he looked towards Zorphax.

“Given the conditions of your arrival, there will be a period of time before you can be considered for hero work,” Zorphax explained. “You need character references and the like.”

“I can’t just have Malaliel tell if I’m lying?” I asked. I didn’t know for sure if she had that ability, but I was trying to find out.

Zorphax sighed, “That wouldn’t be sufficient… even if you couldn’t try to get around the ability since you know she can tell if you’re lying. The world you’re from might have very different ethics, so your own opinion on whether you are suited for hero-related activities isn’t inherently reliable.”

“Well, I can’t throw a magic carriage anyway so I might be too weak.”

“Magic carriage?” Zorphax’s face shifted in a way that was hard to read. “I presume you mean cars. Like we came here in?”

“The box?” I asked.

“That’s an elevator. With the wheels.”

“Oh, yeah. That,” I nodded.

“You don’t need to be able to throw a car to work as a superhero,” Zorphax commented. “In fact, it’s highly discouraged to use civilian property as a projectile.”

“Oh. There was one flung at me.”

“By a hero?” Zorphax asked, “Or by a villain?”

“… by an earth elemental.” Seeing he didn’t understand, I tried a couple other things. “Rock golem?”

“Some sort of animated stone creature?” Zorphax nodded. “I see. Well, if it was being tossed at you it was likely the work of a villain.”

“The hero caught it and threw it back though.”

“That-” he sighed, “Is not my job to deal with. Let’s get you your papers.”

I ended up with a lot of papers. ‘Basic overview of technical devices’, ‘Important laws and their relation to super powers’, ‘How money works’, and more. Plus all the papers I had to sign and fill out to get an ID. Apparently it was temporary but it seemed like it was real- oh, it just expired after… 3. “How long does this last for?” I asked.

“Three months,” Zorphax said. “You can apply for a longer renewal or something permanent, but this is the one we can get you today.”

I read through all the papers before I put my signature on them. I didn’t want to sign away my soul or something. I doubted Zorphax would do that, but someone could have snuck something in to the papers. Mostly, it acknowledged my receipt of the pile of papers I had, and confirming I wasn’t fleeing from any law enforcement. That was true. That wasn’t why I’d stepped through the portal. Also, to the best of my knowledge I wasn’t actually a wanted criminal in town. Though they’d like to lock me up for an evening to teach me a lesson if they could. “I wish I got experience for reading all of this,” I sighed. “It’s lengthy enough to get a few levels.”

“Don’t we all,” Zorphax said. “Sadly it doesn’t work that way.”

“… is everyone cursed?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Zorphax asked.

“Well, I have Curse of the Barbarians so I can only get experience through, you know, fighting. But even normal classes improve a little bit with reading.”

Zorphax exhaled slowly. “Let me ask something I suppose I should have already. Do you have a level?”

“I mean…” I sighed. “I was kind of hoping… I’m only level 11.” A low level like that made me sound like a lazy bum who didn’t do anything, since most people didn’t understand how Aspect of the Barbarian really worked. “I didn’t see it brought up anywhere on these documents.”

“You get experience to level up?” Zorphax asked.

“Of course. That’s how levels work.”

“Ah- I apologize. This is equivalent to asking about your powers, so you don’t have to answer me.” Zorphax tapped his chin. “How should I say this though… people don’t have levels here.”

“Low level people can throw around cars in this world?” I asked. That was kind of terrifying. That means I needed even more levels to keep up.

“That’s… not what I meant. People just… don’t have levels.” 

He looked at me. I looked back at him. I understood the words, but they didn’t make sense. It was like saying people didn’t have vital organs. Or a soul.

“… Nobody has levels?” I asked.

“There’s the possibility that someone has a power that results in them having levels somehow,” Zorphax conceded. “But that would make them unique. In general, people don’t have levels.”

“… how do you do things?”

“We just learn to do them… and then do them.”

I frowned. “That sounds awful. It would take forever to get good at anything.”

Zorphax shrugged, “That’s life.”

We finished up with all of the paperwork eventually. That included something about a temporary ‘apartment’ which I determined was a place to live. I signed simple stuff about it like not destroying it and all that. It seemed quite reasonable, though if I did something wrong and had to pay for it… I didn’t have any dollars. When I brought it up, Zorphax mentioned there was a soup kitchen nearby.

I still had a huge pile of paper in front of me- including magical copies of everything I’d signed for me to keep. I hadn’t read all of the stuff about rules yet, though Zorphax did point out the section on use of superpowers. Apparently I could have gotten in trouble for killing that guy with magic, even though I was defending myself. Maybe I should learn how to fight. And don’t bring up the fact that I used to pick a lot of fights. Just because I fought a lot didn’t mean I knew how to do it well. I was a kid! And I also had magic.

“Do you need something to carry all of that?” Basant asked as I was getting ready to go.

“Nah, I got it.” Fortunately I didn’t have much else in Storage, so I didn’t have to spend more points to expand the capacity. I just called upon the mana and stored the whole pile.

“… Interesting. If I may ask, how much can you store that way?”

“Some,” I said.

“I see. Well, let me take you to your apartment. I’m sure you’d like a break from all of this. In the morning I will help you look into jobs you might do. Having some sort of employment would be beneficial.”

—–

My apartment was nearby. Like, really close. I suppose that made sense, considering how the building was labeled Extra: Temporary housing. Basant gave me my key which didn’t look like a key at all, but was just a flat thing made of weird material. “Make sure you bring it with you if you go out. Though if you do lock yourself out, talk to the people at the front desk.” I nodded. “There’s a small kitchen here- no stove or oven for safety reasons but there’s a microwave, fridge, and freezer.” I didn’t know what any of those were besides boxes that he gestured to, but I assumed they would be in the technology notes. “Bathroom and toilet in here, and the bedroom. Not luxurious by any means,” he shrugged, “But it’s not meant to last forever.”

I looked around. “I like it.” It was bigger than my room by quite a bit. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Basant smiled. “If you have any questions now I can try to answer them. Otherwise, Extra is always open. Do try to read the papers we’ve given you first, though. People can get quite busy.”

With that, he left me with the key and a bag of ‘toiletries’. I wasn’t sure what they had to do with the toilet, since the instructions on the toothpaste clearly indicated it was for use on teeth. Apparently it helped stop teeth from decaying. I wasn’t sure why I would need that since I wasn’t old, but it seemed important enough to give it to me along with a room.

 I still had half a box of doughnuts and nothing to do, so I sat at the desk by the window. My room was about halfway up one of the massive towers, and it was my first chance to get a good angle on the city- and the bay in the distance. It was an impressive sight. It was hard to believe people were living in every single building, though I could see a large number of cars moving about below that had to have people in them. 

I began to read through the papers. It was already getting dark, but I managed with the light from the moon and stars until I was halfway through the technology documents. Then I flicked a lightswitch. Amazing. I didn’t need that much light, but having several sources of light in every room was even more extravagant than the best mages towers I knew of.

When I was too exhausted to continue reading I threw myself into the big bed that was even taller than I was, so my feet didn’t hang off at all. It was comfortable and soft and warm. This world was great, and if I was lucky I would get in more fights so I could level up. Though maybe I didn’t need to.

-–Chapter Index–-