The Reincarnation of Alysara - Chapter 70:
As interesting as [Unlimited Minds] – and some of the other things Kayafe mentioned – sound, I’ve got many, many other things to do before I can worry about any of that. For now, I still need to work on [Manipulate Mana]… and making solid mana is my next objective. I wait at the top of the temple for about an hour and a half while my mana regeneration fills up my reserves and my Kyhosa, then start compressing the mana nearest to the Mana Arc. I shrink my focus down to a small point, and with the help of my second mind, I squeeze and squeeze the mana. Slowly, very slowly, the mana gets denser and denser until it somehow locks into place. Too bad I left the Mind Core back home; I could have really used it right about now. The extra mind would have helped me exert more pressure on the mana.
Ting! Mana Manipulation has met the requirements for a breakthrough and will continue leveling past level 240!
24th Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to forge mana; this will help you create metals of pure mana.
I don’t bother checking the level gain just yet because there are still more breakthroughs to be gained. I single out dark elemental mana and start solidifying it into a solid flake of mana, which drifts down onto the floor. Next, I start doing the same with my beauty essence, commanding my core to ramp up production to make more beauty mana to compress. Finally, I start compressing my own unique mana, using the pressure near the Mana Arc to do the ‘heavy lifting’ for me. With each level gained it becomes easier for me to make solid mana until after half an hour I have all the breakthroughs I need for forging mana.
Ting! Mana Manipulation has met the requirements for a breakthrough and will continue leveling past level 270!
25th Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to forge elemental mana; this will help you create metals of pure mana.
26th Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to forge essence mana; this will help you create metals of pure mana.
27th Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to forge unique mana; this will help you create metals of pure mana.
I begin training my activity levels; the level of first use I already have, next I gain the level of extended use, then the level of repeated use, and then the level for doing a lot at the same time. I try to get the level of mastery, but even with my knowledge of mana and high [Sense Mana] level, I am unable to get the last action level. Instead, I work towards mastery of mana forging by first making raw, rough stone-like mana and slowly refining it, slowly compressing it down, observing the mana, and learning about the structure of solid mana.
[Inquisitive Perfection] helps me figure out the best way to compress the mana into something akin to metal, smooth and flexible, not brittle and rough like rock. I watch the mana get denser until I have a thin piece of mana metal, flexible yet durable. I observe the mana, noting the sheets of monolayers; sheets of one particle thick mana. This can still be improved by squeezing down just a little more; I can make it more solid, compress the layers further. I do so, watching as the layers start blending, becoming more solid, less flexible, more brittle, yet stronger. Like hammering a piece of metal, I push at small sections, unable to squeeze down on the whole thing at once. Little by little, the mana metal takes shape.
[Inquisitive Perfection] screams at me, as tiny microfractures are present in the piece. I hammer those down ever more delicately until there are no cracks in the solid piece of perfection. I do this for each breakthrough, and only when completing the last breakthrough do I finally understand what I am seeing: tiny spheres connected to each other through a force… mana particles and the MM force. It appears that the MM force spreads like rings, or static ripples in a pond, from the mana particles, with ‘capture points’ in the low regions that prevent mana particles from getting closer to or further away from each other. Like a valley between two hills, one will have to climb them both ways. This, it is now clear to me, is how mana weaving and mana forging work; I squeeze the mana into the stable points and the structure maintains itself.
Ting! Sense Mana has met the requirements for a breakthrough and will continue leveling past level 280!
27th Breakthrough: You’ve learned to see the mana particle; this will now let you study the interactions and true nature of mana.
28th Breakthrough: You’ve learned to see the MM force and empowering fields, letting you see the workings of one of mana’s driving forces.
Ting! Sense Mana has obtained levels 254-267!
I gasp, seeing the effect of the mass level gain in my mana signature. The skill’s presence abruptly grows a lot brighter, vastly outshining most of my other skills. It looks so… radiant, but its saturated color could become more; even though I have almost all of the breakthroughs, I still need to reach the max level of the skill.
As I look around, I can now clearly see the fields produced by mana. I can see how mana particles are pushing and pulling on each other, their chaotic movements becoming easier to understand. The strength of the fields, the range of them, all become clear to me.
Finally I return my attention to what’s floating right in front of me: the Mana Arc has a vastly exaggerated MM force pulling all mana towards it. The peaks and valleys in the MM force that normally keep mana particles at certain distances apart have been replaced by an endless attractive force, sucking up all the mana near it.
“That’s how you did it, isn’t it? You manipulated the MM force, molded it as if it was clay in your hands,” I whisper in awe. Kayafe was truly a master at controlling mana… she may not have known everything, but she came damn close to it.
I look back at the pieces of metallic metal I was working on. I can see now that I can still get the particles closer, I just need to push the mana particles up five ever-higher mountains to create the most compressed, solid metal possible. However, it seems that what I already did is the limit of my capabilities so far; if I want to make it more solid, I’ll have to level up [Mana Manipulation] more. I check my level gains from what just happened to get an idea for how high I need my [Mana Manipulation] level to be.
Ting! Mana Manipulation has obtained levels 211-251!
I can easily take [Mana Manipulation] much higher. Kayafe is right; I already know what I can do to improve this skill; even level five hundred is within my grasp. The question is, do I want to take the dive? It’ll ruin potential race evolutions and maybe even class evolutions, not to mention my second class options will have to be Bond-based as all others will likely be corrupted.
I need to figure out how, if it’s even possible, to remove cursed skills. I have many of the puzzle pieces, [Inquisitive Perfection] is telling me that, but I don’t know how they fit together. I have almost ten years to figure this out – I can delay my fifteenth-year evolution until a day before my twentieth if I have to – otherwise I might be stuck choosing a weak evolution or even missing an evolution opportunity altogether. There is another argument to be made, too, which is that perhaps the answer will become clear as I dive deeper into this cursed skill. It could be that those who master their cursed skill learn how to cure it in the process, but most people don’t or can’t, and thus almost no one knows how to cure cursed skills.
I have nine whole years. Do I choose to master the cursed skill?
Yes, I do. There isn’t really any choice, when it comes down to a final decision. There is simply too much to be gained for mastering [Mana Manipulation].
Night has fallen by the time I row the boat back to the village. Mom won’t like me being late for the Lojyo, but I’ll just make some excuse of doing something related to the airships, which isn’t far off from the truth now that I think about it. My [Mana Manipulation] is important for making airship control crystals.
I look at the gains I made today, feeling like I crossed a line I shouldn’t have. Anxiety and nervousness stir in my stomach as I read over my messages. There’s no turning back now.
Ting! Mana Manipulation has met the requirements for a breakthrough and will continue leveling past level 350!
28th Breakthrough: You have managed to transform essence mana within another entity; this will help you do so with more ease.
29th Breakthrough: You have managed to split your area of control, allowing you to control mana in multiple areas.
30th Breakthrough: You’ve transformed mana into vitality; this will help you heal others.
31st Breakthrough: You have learned how to manipulate very small amounts of mana. This will help you master doing so.
32nd Breakthrough: You have learned how to manipulate extreme amounts of mana. This will help you master doing so.
33rd Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to fuse elements; this will help you do so with more ease.
34th Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to fuse essences; this will help you do so with more ease.
35th Breakthrough: You’ve learned how to make nexus mana; this will help you do so with more ease.
Ting! Mana Manipulation has obtained levels 251-330!
I have figured out mana wiring and, at the same time, found an answer to mana filters. By making flexible mana steel in such a way that the stable points in the MM fields overlap to produce channels of low resistance, I can have the loose mana particles ride a rail of sorts between the plates of locked particles. I can now start working on automating spell crystals and making mana wire.
Arriving at the Lojyo, I apologize for being late and sing and dance with everyone else. Chofel invites me to play music, lending me an instrument while she sings. As always, after the socializing comes the time when people show off mastery of their crafts. Nyam shows off her first Myrou dedication project, a small clay sculpture of a featureless woman; a projection of Myrou inhabits the sculpture just like the statues at the baths. Others show off their works, not dedications for Myrou, just advertising their wares. Dedication projects are always shown before non-dedication projects.
The next morning I start planning, both to make my weapons and to upgrade my armor. With mana steel available I won’t have to rely on cloth anymore; although making a full suit of armor will take millions of mana. It will take days to make mine, but it will be well worth it.
For today, however, I’ll start with making a diadem, using the Mind Core for it. Dad has already cut the Mind Core to my specifications and carved the wolf fangs. The wolf fang dagger will have a pommel with a piece of the Mind Core. My hope is that it will at least improve my connection to the clone or something, but I don’t know what to expect. The spear will have its piece of Mind Core just beneath the blade.
I start mana forging with a mix of mind essence and my unique mana, hammering the layers of mana together. I carefully hammer each group of mana particles until there is no gap between each piece, only separated by the last MM force peak to prevent it from becoming liquid mana. When I try to enchant it, however, the enchantment mana can’t fit between the particles and fails to take.
“Interesting,” I mutter. It seems that mana metals need a gap between the particles for the enchantment mana to fit into. What if I learn the exact enchantment structure and make a gap specifically for that?
I begin practicing my technique, forming replicas of the diadem over and over again. At first I place the the mana comprising the diadem into a very loose, uniform structure to allow the enchantment mana to be applied in the gaps, but I quickly learn that the enchanting mana has a non-uniform structure. It twists, turns, branches out, and some of the already existing mana does not conform to the enchantment structure despite leaving gaps I thought would be large enough. The incorrect structural mana gets in the way of the enchantment mana, preventing some of the enchantment mana particles from taking their places and reducing the enchantment’s effectiveness.
In addition to that, another problem with having a loose structure is that I am unable to compress the mana particles as close as I want, after the already imperfect enchantment is placed, without destroying the enchantment in the process.
For the next three days, I work on my mana forging techniques, gaining more levels as I perfect the process. For figuring out the technique in such a short time, [Inquisitive Perfection] has been a godsend, both pointing out errors and potential improvements and increasing my rate of learning when it comes to art and crafting.
In the end I have to forge the whole thing, carve out a hole for the enchantment mana to be inserted, then slowly fill the mana back in. It takes a painfully long time to do: five more days, when it’s finally finished I had begun to wonder if I’d complete it before the next dungeon expedition. Conveniently, Esofy informed me that there’s been some trouble with getting the next expedition started; it will be delayed for another week, possibly two. With the extra time, however, I have finally completed my diadem.
The centerpiece of the diadem, over my forehead, is the two-dimensional figure of a Runalymo – with the usual number of tails – crafted from my unique mana. Nine oval gems cut from the Mind Core, getting smaller as they are further from the centerpiece around the circumference of the diadem, are the source of beauty essence metal vines that twist and grasp around wisdom essence metal books and scrolls. The vines twine around these representations of knowledge, their elegant lines finishing by merging into the centerpiece figure.
With the diadem finished, I look it over. My [Inquisitive Perfection] is pleased with how it turns out— no, it’s more than pleased; it’s proud. A perfect creation down to the particle level, leaving no gaps between the mana particles except what is necessary to process the mana for the enchantment.
I put the diadem on my head, and to my surprise, mana starts rushing into the diadem… no, mana is being burned out of existence! Tons of mana, hundreds of thousands of points worth of mana is consumed… and then, as suddenly as it started, the diadem stops burning mana; instead, its mana has shifted to a new unique mana. It has become a magical item.
Diadem of the Lonely Princess:
This Diadem has been crafted, with incredible mana sensing capabilities, to such perfection as to be the magnum opus of a master mana manipulator with multiple minds, with the express purpose of gaining more minds to pilot illusory clones.
When worn, grants three additional minds to its wearer. Grants the ability to make three semi-real clones made of the wearer’s unique mana that can be controlled by each of the minds.
I’m not lonely! Nor am I a princess. Regardless, this is a powerful item.
I use the Diadem’s clone ability, finding that it costs a whopping ten thousand mana per clone! There is a reason why though, the body of the clone is filled with dense mana and its ‘skin’ even feels like skin when I touch it.
“Hello,” I speak with the clone, finding that I don’t need to use sound essence to talk or even to hear. There is still a link between me and the clone, like [Create Twin] and [Summon Familiar], but in my eyes that’s a good thing as it means I can cast spells through it.
I now have five minds, just like the Mind Slime, but I only have two spheres of perception. I never experimented with further splitting my perception, and my breakthrough never stated I had to only have two… I split my perception in two, each with half the range; I split them again with some effort to give me four with just a quarter of the range. This means I can take on four dens at the same time and even bring back materials from three of them.
Before I start on the wolf fangs, I make simple mana silk and cast my enchantments on it to study the crystalline patterns that I need to make the mana steel around. The most confusing one is the mana battery enchantment; it purposely leaves gaps for mana to be stored in, but I have a better way to make the mana battery – using the same technology as the mana wire. I make the whole handle of the spear one long mana battery encased with mana steel and the carved wolf fang, as the spearhead, has its cutting edge reinforced and sharpened with steel, leaving the flat side exposed.
I decorate the spear with inlays; swirling, crisscrossing, spiraling lines of beauty mana that cover the entire thing all the way to the tip, flowing around the mind gem set just below the blade. Even the fang has inlays, placed so perfectly that it still has a smooth surface. Next, I cast my three enchantments; one is just to augment the innate ability of the fang, the second is mainly to give it the mana battery identifier, the third is to allow for discharging the stored mana just like my charged beauty spears.
Discharging Pack Fang Spear:
This spear is made for a powerful caster warrior, able to store a charged spell for later use. However, the primary use of this weapon is its ability to form quasi-real spears to be split up among others. The mana stored for discharge will be equally distributed between all created spears.
Battery 30000, Discharge, Cloning, Linking.
A quick series of tests show that forming each spear for my clones takes two thousand mana, not exactly cheap and that the spear is just an enchanted item rather than a magic one. I had hoped, with my technique, I could make more magic items, but I guess it’s a one-time deal.
Like the spear blade, the dagger also has steel around the sharp edges of the carved fang, and it has the same style of decorations. However, this dagger only has a simple battery enchantment instead of one that can store and discharge spell mana. The dagger’s hilt is made just like the spear, with the mana steel battery and the mind gem is set in the pommel.
Pack Fang Dagger:
This dagger is made for a powerful caster warrior, linked to its spear counterpart, and able to provide additional mana should the need arise.
Battery 10000, Cloning, Linking.
With my weapons and Diadem all set, I set my new quasi-material clone, piloted by a third mind, to start making my armor while I leave to do something else for a while with my ‘real’ body.
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