Stories of a God's ascension from mortality
Chapter 1 – James' Childhood
Hidden in the rifts between worlds are memories, imprinted from events of the past. Most people can't see these, most people don't even realise there are multiple worlds. Those that have can't even begin to imagine the large hierarchy that the worlds are a part of. Of course, not everyone belongs to the class “most people”. Some people are exceptional, the truly exceptional can see rifts, read the memory of the past, and travel through them. They take this for granted of course, much the same way “most people” take simple common goods like water for granted.
The world not known by “most people” is a competitive one, and having the ability for someone else to read your entire life is not an ability you welcome them to have. So it is not a small task that I am undertaking, to read you this character's history. You do want to hear it don't you? It is a perfect example of the rise from ordinary to exceptional. It is my hope to inspire you, although I doubt it will work. The person whose rise we are following has a name. His name is not important, as a name does not define who you are, but for simplicity's sake and the avoidance of confusion, his name is James.
It wasn't a particularly special feeling day when James first began to develop some exceptional talents. He was merely eight years old, and his father had rather annoyingly forced him to learn to write with both hands from a very early age. James never saw the point in this, and among other things would point out how unfair it was that he had to do this when none of the other kids in his school did. James was the only child in his family, and his mother had died giving birth to him, so his dad was all he had. James' dad was a flower child of the seventies, he had long grubby hair, liked to experiment with all kinds of drugs, and didn't earn enough money to afford any other luxuries.
As a result of this, James had spent his entire school life in clothes that didn't fit him, or weren't particularly well washed. At the moment he was in some clothes that were slightly too small. The green of the t-shirt he was wearing had a quite noticeable brown stain on it when its previous owner had played in the mud too vigorously, and the holes in the black trousers had grown so large that they were in danger of turning them into shorts.
The only positive benefit he had seen from his dad's ambidextrous training, was his top score in penmanship, the only class he felt he was any good at. He didn't find the other material in the class extremely hard, but he really didn't see the point in doing it and felt very demotivated. However doing penmanship worked so easily for him he didn't even have to bother, he just copied every letter the teacher wrote on the board exactly. It hadn't taken long at all for the teacher to give James his pen license, and let him play games whenever the other children were practising. However James didn't really like playing most of the games they had in there, especially when there was no-one else to play with, so he just hung around generally annoying the teacher.
It was on this fateful day that the teacher, getting so annoyed at James incessant need for attention, came up with a new task to keep James busy.
“Not right now James! I'm helping Mindy with her writing at the moment. Do you think you're the only child in this class who deserves attention do you?”
“No”, said James, feeling a bit guilty.
“Then please just play games in the corner in peace, the other pupil's would love to be able to do that.”
“But they're boring, and there's no-one to play with”
His teacher sighed, usually letting the kids play with the games was all you needed to do to get some peace from them, but this obviously wasn't working. “Very well, I'll make some advanced penmanship problems for you to work on, will that work okay?”
James wasn't really sure, but the teacher did it anyway. After some quick work on the computer and searching on the internet, there was a new task sheet for him to work on.
James was good at penmanship, but he wasn't particularly good at reading. There was quite a few large words on this sheet that he had trouble understanding. There was one however, that had something particularly curious on it. Below the word signatures (which James read as “sig nayturees”) were a bunch of scribbles. These seemed to defeat the purpose of writing, where you couldn't even understand what was put down. He didn't treat them any differently though, he had to visualise how the pen would have to move to in his hand to generate the curves on the paper. These definitely took more time to get used to than the simple writing he had already been taught, but by the end of the session he had them all done exactly.
After this incident, that sheet got lost in the mess that was his desk drawer, and the teacher gave up on giving him any more penmanship work. It was a pity because it was only several years later that he realised what a signature actually was, and what it could do.
At the age of ten, James was still at the same school. Not much had gone on in his life over the last two years. He had grown much taller, and at the moment his replaced second hand clothes were too baggy for him. Baggy clothes were in style at the time though, all the other kids had them too so he didn't look ridiculous at all. His brown hair had grown quite long, and the fringe would often get in the way of the eyes.
“Get yer hair out of yer eyes boy!”, his father would often tell him in a way he uncharacteristically never talked like to anyone else. “You need to let the world see those beautiful eyes you got from yer mother”
James would of course brush it to the side, showing his father a glimpse of his green eyes, but gravity would sweep it back in front of his eyes. It irritated both of them to no end. James' teacher was sympathetic to his family's financial plight, and didn't make a big deal of his hair to James, despite the school's regulations on the subject.
His father was usually working when James finished school. They couldn't afford a babysitter to look after him, so he did extra curricular activities as school every day. On Monday it was music, which was alright. He played the guitar, and he found it a lot easier to play the chords than the other kids, the problem was getting used to the orders of the notes you were supposed to play. Tuesday was karate class, which he was hopeless at, just like everyone else there. Wednesday was computer club. This was supposed to be teaching you about the basics of using computers, but James just played games there all the time. This was his favourite time. His favourite games were the role playing games, where you could cast spells and fight monsters. There were no activities on Thursdays, so he would go to the park adjacent to his school and pretend he was one of the avatars in his role playing game. His dad didn't work on Fridays, so he was able to pick him up on time and take him home.
James was quite a recluse as a child, he hadn't made a lot of friends, and was often teased by the other kids for being so poor. He didn't let it get to him, he wasn't particularly smart or good at sport so he just thought they were right. This is how he managed to get to be ten years old before he discovered how unique his dexterity actually was. It was one day in assembly, when the school was giving out some autograph books for an unimportant event. The day was baking, and the kids in the assembly hall were restless to get outside and play in the fresh air. So once they were outside, there was a large crowd of excitement with people signing each other's books in case anyone became famous. Some of the kinder kids asked him for a signature, but he was too ashamed to ask what that was. What he saw them doing cast his mind back to a time he could barely remember, complex patterns that didn't make any sense. This time Tom came up to him. Tom also went to the computer classes on Wednesday, and they both played the same computer game. This meant he was one of the few people James was actually comfortable talking to. So when Tom asked for his signature, he actually took the step to asking what a signature was.
“Um.. What actually is a signature?” he said rather meekly.
“You don't know what a signature is?”
“No-one's ever told me, how was I supposed to know?”
“Er.. I dunno I guess, I just assumed you would have found out somehow. Well its like this see. A signature is like a way you write your own name, but all fancy like so that it doesn't look like normal writing, and nobody can copy it.”
“But if you can see it can't you just copy it?”
Tom giggled at this question, “well you can try. I once tried tracing my dad's signature but it still came out looking all wrong. Its a bit like when you're writing in class, and your handwriting looks different to somebody else's, and you can't copy that.”
“Oh, okay, well how should I do my signature then?”
“Oh, well its kinda just like drawing your name, but really fancy with big curly letters, here give it a try” said Tom, handing him the autograph book. James looked at the six signatures he already had in there, they were very messy looking and quite unrefined. One person had tried to do his signature several times on the paper, and it had come out looking quite different each time. James thought about it for a bit, then with a few quick whirls on the paper drew something on it.
“How's this?” he asked.
“God, chats really fancy, should I do yours now?”
At the end of the day, James had upwards of 20 signatures in his book. By the next day, each signature had been repeated several times, near perfect for most of them. He had even experimented with putting quirks into each different one to make it look like what that person would do if they tried to write it again. The biggest part of this for James though, was that he now knew he could do something that no-one else he knew could. He would keep this as his little secret, how he wasn't useless after all.
It wasn't a long time after that the next step in James' ascension started. He had already been playing around with what he could do with a pen, and found it wasn't just with respect to pens. It was any task that required complex used of his hands. He now considered himself to be a very gifted hands person. It was on a Tuesday after school, during his least liked extra curricular activity, karate. He was performing poorly as usual, and his mind was so caught up in what else he could try seeing that he could do with his hands. The instructor was being particularly mean to him, he would keep yelling at him until he was paying attention. I wish I was as good with the rest of my body as I was with my hands, then maybe he'd leave me alone James thought, and as he had this thought an epiphany struck him. Almost literally, because the idea surprised him so much that he actually fell over in practice, much to his instructor's annoyance. But I could be, it was that constant training that my dad forced on me that made me so good at hands stuff, perhaps if I constantly train the rest of my body that will be good too.
Probably the most amazing thing about this, isn't that he had the idea, but that he stuck with it. He related it back to the RPG he played with Tom. This was a very simple RPG, the three main attributes that his character could increase was strength, agility, and intelligence. He decided he was going to be awesome like his character, and get really good at all three of those. He thought of strength simply as the act of being strong, which while useful in its own right, wasn't that great on its own. It was the other two that interested him, agility was like what he did with his hands, but over his whole body. Although he wasn't fully aware of how true it was then, school had always drilled into him how important it was to be smart, and now that he felt he could become smart to, he was very excited.
He first started by spending a lot of time maintaining still poses exactly how he wanted. It didn't work like he wanted at first, but he remained persistent by doing this every recess, lunch and after school. He would get up early in the morning to go for runs before school. These gave him a stitch in the side, and he always showed up at school feeling quite gross and sweaty, but he persisted none the less. During his computer sessions, he stopped playing his RPG game, much to Tom's disappoint, and began searching the internet for ways to get smarter. He found some puzzle type games that ways to improve your cognitive abilities and other things. He wasn't entirely sure what that meant but they kept mentioning increases in intelligence during parts of it, so he started playing them. Tom just thought he was playing some boring games with squares popping up everywhere and stuff like that. Although James didn't get any better at the game in the first week, he noticed improvements in his ability at school, although he tried not to show it too much.
After playing the intelligence games at his school, he found he was finding music class a lot easier. When he first started playing around with the music, he played some notes that he thought sounded interesting and the music teacher immediately stopped what she was doing.
“Why James that sounds beautiful, what is that song?”
“Um.. I was kinda just playing around with an idea in my head,” James said rather embarrassedly
“Oh..” she said, a bit perplexed that her seemingly unmotivated pupil she had always just considered extra luggage, was suddenly making up something so nice on his own. James was careful after that, playing all the tunes that came to him in his head first. After a while he stopped going to music practice entirely. On Mondays he would instead go on to the park adjacent to his skill and continue his agility training. He had started doing multiple things at once in his training. He would form new melodies in his head and imagine going through the guitar chords for playing them, while also attempting to move his body in a way exact to what he wants.
Fast forward four years. James is 14 years old, he is in the second year of high school, and still hasn't had his growth spurts yet. The school uniform had just been changed the year before he went to the school, so his father actually had to find the money to buy a brand new uniform, which still fit him quite well. He has stuck rigorously to his training, and the girls in the class had taken a liking to him because of it. His body had become very well toned, not excessively, but for a class filled with boys who hadn't reached puberty yet, he easily stood out. His face was somewhat chiselled, and he had a few scars on his cheek from falling over into bad places. One of the things the girls loved was his green eyes, which had become very keen, always aware of everything. While pretty much all of the girls in the class had a crush for him, he was still very asocial towards other people. This meant that although some of the girls had tried flirting with him, they were left with hard stares and almost got a bit afraid.
James now had to work almost equally as hard at keeping his exceptional talents a secret as he did on improving them now. He stopped going to his karate class, pretending he was sick of not being any good, but mostly because he was improving to the point where it was impossible for the instructor not to notice. Instead he continued to go over the motions himself, often looking at videos of black belts on the internet and trying to mimic the other fighter's moves. Tasks like this helped him keep his memory fresh and alert, and he found he knew the answers to everything in class, but just wrote down other things a lot of the time to maintain an average score. His body was now able to follow exactly what his mind wanted to do, although for some of the harder tasks it took him a bit too long to do it. That was what he spent a lot of his time practising now. He had started taking up some other complicated body oriented arts, such as acrobatic free running. His morning runs are now resembling obstacle courses more than a running track, but he is still maintaining a very fast running time. He has developed several very small movements that can be used discretely when sitting down, or even asleep, to help build up muscle. This was a measure he did to generate effectively no down-time.
He was still finding some problems on the intelligence front. Even though he was still ahead of the rest of his class, comparatively he wasn't nearly as advanced in that area. His limited time on the computers at his school was really affecting how quickly he could progress. What he wanted to do was get his own laptop and internet connection at home. He knew his dad couldn't afford this however, it was a miracle his dad managed to find the money to buy him a guitar. He wanted to get an after school job to work at, to get the money to afford not just the laptop, but the internet connection afterwards as well. So far his attempts at getting a job were really not working well, pretty much everywhere was ignoring him because he was too young.
His life had been like this for a while, applying for jobs, and not getting any. He knew it wasn't impossible to get a job at his age, as several people in his year at school had some after school jobs. There must be something they had that he didn't, so they would get jobs. A few of them had gotten jobs with their family, he ruled that out straight away because that wouldn't help him find a job. The ones who were left didn't seem very exceptional, they weren't great at their courses, nor were they particularly strong or skilled in any way. James struggled with this concept for several days before a new idea came to him. Perhaps there were characteristics other than the ones he'd been working on. Ones that are still important for self improvement. As soon as he thought this, he realised that all of the other employed kids who he had been looking at, were all very friendly people. They generally got on well with anyone, and had a natural charismatic talent.
It was after this that James started to add the ability to socially react and manipulate people as a goal of his training. His time on the computers at school was spent almost entirely on reading psychology web sites. He made an effort to actually engage with other people, and found that a smile would get you a far way. Within a month he had found an after school job.
Chapter 2 – The chosen one
This story is about James' first encounter with another exceptional individual. James was quite lucky in meeting another one so young, well you could say maybe lucky, because there is a great risk involved in such a task. This is probably where things start to get interesting, so stay on board.
At this point in the story, James has just turned 18 years old. His social progression had made very good progress. He was the most popular kid at school, although he took care not to become too close to any of the other students. Once he had saved up enough for his laptop, and the first few months of internet service, he quit his after school job. He was able to learn some programming and design skills very quickly that helped him make small amounts of money as a pseudonymous freelancer. James had perfect control over everyone all of the students in his year. He had formed couples, made enemies, and started cliques. The greatest part was that nobody even knew it was him, and he could completely change it all around within a week.
One time, James had accidentally driven one of the kids in his year to suicide. It was after his first ever night of drinking, and not being totally in control of his loss of inhibitions, he started to engineer some quite nasty situations. When he woke up the next day, he had a splitting headache, and was in some girl's bed. He tried to recall exactly what had happened the night before. Oh shit he thought as he immediately evaluated the consequences of his actions. The night before he had engineered a situation which would end with Fred killing himself. He didn't want that guilt in his hands. He immediately got up, got dressed, and raced out of the house.
James was able to quite quickly evaluate a person's personality, and use this to easily predict the types of actions they would take. He knew that Fred would hang himself, but he wouldn't get around to it until probably about midday, due to being unable to decide what to put in a suicide note. James' internal body clock told him it was quarter past eleven, giving him approximately 45 minutes. He knew the perfect person to help fix this situation, and already had a strategy in mind to get this to work. He would need to get Richard to basically go and stop Fred's suicide attempt, and reaffirm his belief in living. Richard had himself gone through many times in depression, and his ability to get through it definitely meant he would try to help Fred. They would probably become best friend's after this as well, but that was alright with James. James went to a cell-phone shop, and immediately bought a prepaid cellphone. He then sent a text message to Richard, basically telling him to go to the building where Fred was going to try and kill himself, but worded in a way that Richard wouldn't ignore. The next step was to sneak into the abandoned warehouse where Fred was going to do the deed, and remain in the shadows as a back-up, in the case that Richard doesn't make it in time.
Fortunately Richard did manage to make it in time, crisis avoided. After this problem, James started making it part of his routine to practice his abilities under conditions where they would be impaired, such as drinking alcohol, with his eyes closed, or other things.
This was James' last year in high school, and his school didn't require a uniform for last year students. James wore a very basic attire of Jeans and a t-shirt. After school, he would often go out into town. Every time he did this, he managed to get himself invited to parties with people he didn't know. He would make it a challenge to be able to control all of their actions within the night. Usually this was a complete success, with people eventually doing exactly what he planned for them to do. This night was different. It was a fancy dress party, and he was in a suit. Most of the people in the room had easy to diagnose personalities, but there was one person whose personality would subtly change with every person he talked to. He was getting on well with everyone, and was steering the ways they were all thinking.
The party had gone on for a few hours. James had made some attempts to change the other party goers in certain directions, but he always seemed to get undone by the other man. They all seemed to be uninterested in James. He could maintain a small group of people around him but after that they all scattered in ways he wasn't planning. After the strange guest had made his rounds, he came to talk to James. James was leaning his back on the balcony, enjoying the night air. When the stranger was up to James, he had dropped the wide smile he was giving everyone and looked dead serious.
“Can I help you?” James said, trying to act unannoyed.
“You are an abomination. You have to go.” The stranger's voice was monotonic.
He reached into the insides of his jacket, and pulled out some throwing knives. He was then throwing these knives directly at James. After eight knives were thrown, he pulled out two pistols and shot them at James. Six shots were fired from each gun, until they were both out of ammo. James was surprised by this. The two throwing knives in each of his hands were heavily dented from blocking the bullets. He dropped these and picked up another two knives that he had scattered onto the ground. With a sharp knife in each hand, he back-flipped off of the balcony.
This was the largest jump he'd ever done before, everything else had been two stories at most, usually one. This fancy dress party was on the top floor of a twenty story building. Time seemed to be moving slow for James, he opened his jacket outwards like a mini parachute, and directed his way to the edge of the building. He tried to stab one of the knives into the wall of the building to slow him down, but the speed of the impact flung it out of his hand. It was then caught by the stranger, who had jumped off the building after him. Son of a.. who the hell is this guy? James thought to himself, suddenly some other thoughts intruded into his head. I am the chosen one, and you are the one most likely to cause me trouble. The strange man's guns were now reloaded. He at James again, who only had one throwing knife to block with. As a result he could only block one of the guns, and took a bullet in his lower abdomen. Chosen one, what the hell are you on about? He then took one in his left foot. I was prophecised by the mages of the crystal kingdom. They chose me as the one most likely to achieve greatness, by leading their world into the future.. Another bullet in his right leg. Mages? Like magic? And the crystal kingdom? Stop making stuff up. Magic isn't real. James was blocking the bullets that were in the important places, and the strange man realised this. One gun was aimed at James' head, the other at his heart. Then how do you suppose that I'm talking to you through your mind. James could see his opponent grinning wryly. He pulled a twisting manoeuvre. The bullet that was for his head got blocked by the remaining dagger, and the other one went into his left arm.
At this point they were mere metres from the ground. The strange man stopped in mid-air, floating with the aid of nothing. James saw this just before he fell to the ground as a crumpled mess. Satisfied the strange man flew away.
The doctor's proclaimed James' recovery miraculous. As a victim of four gun shots and a four story building, they said he was lucky to be in such incredible physical health. Even so, the doctor's worked very hard to fix his body. James couldn't see much, as his lower body was entirely in a cast. The doctor's said he had broken his both of his legs in several places. The entire rest of his body was bandaged up after all of the gun shot wounds. He looked like a mummy.
At this point James had been recovering for several days. One of the
nurses came into the room with a man in his mid forties. He had a
large bushy moustache, which was started to grey from its natural
blond colour. His skin was leathery and wrinkled. To James though,
the most important part of his appearance was his uniform. The
uniform of a police officer.
“James,” said the nurse warmly, “We have someone here from the police, he's been assigned to look into your case. Are you up for speaking with him?”
“Go ahead” James said, although it didn't matter much, the police man had already begun setting up a tape recorder for their conversation before checking for permission. The acceptance was implied.
“Hello James. My name is inspector Karl.” He held out his hand to shake him, and then realised the stupidity of that. “Whoops.. I guess you can't shake that then.” He grinned widely to try and relieve the tension. “Okay, I've talked to all the other people at the party you were at that night. I'm going to tell you everything that I've learnt so far, and you can let me know of any extra information I might need, does that sound okay? Alright then. They say that both you and the unknown assailant were people they'd never met before the party. You were both being friendly to most people, but when you both met on the balcony, he shot you. Everyone said they heard six gunshots, but after this there's a debate. Some people say you fell off the balcony, and others say you jumped off the building. The falling off seems more likely to me, but the people who said you jumped off were pretty adamant about it. Haha, alright next they say this unknown assailant jumped off the balcony after you. They couldn't see what happened next but they heard four more gun shots. You were found in a bloody mess on the street, only four gun shot wounds, even though there were a total of ten bullets fired. Not a single trace of the assailant anywhere. No witnesses saw you land. Alright is there anything you would like to add?”
“Um..” James had to think about this for a bit. There were definitely many things he'd could add, such as: the “chosen one” throwing knives at him; that he did back-flip off of the building; that the assailant was using two guns, so that meant there was twenty bullets fired. He could add that he blocked the assailants shots with the knives that he caught himself; or that the assailant flew away afterwards. Of course, if he did that they'd think he was on insane. So instead he made a different story. “Yeah I just said hello to him, and he told me that I had to die. I don't know what was up with that, but he pulled out a gun and fired at me. I tried dodging his shots a bit, but its harder than it looks, so he got me four times our of six. The impact of the bullets made me fall off the balcony. I heard a few gun shots after that, but I was starting to fade out of consciousness as I fell so I couldn't tell. To be honest I'm surprised to still be alive.”
“Hmm.. Okay,” said the inspector. “So you did fall off the the balcony, not jump, as I suspected. Now none of the people we've interviewed could give me any information on what the assailant looked like. They all claimed it was foggy, and he just looked like a blur in their heads. Is there anything you can tell us about him for us to go on?”
“Well, he had a light coloured skin. If I had to guess I'd say a quarter Asian and three quarters Caucasian. He was of an average height, about five feet ten. His hair was black, short and spiked with gel. His eyes were brown. I could probably draw you a picture of him once my arms heal.”
“Yeah that'd be great if you could, although most pictures that victims don't end up looking anything like the real thing, so I won't hold out for it. So you don't know whether this person jumped off the edge after you or not? Because there's no trace of him doing so, apart from all the people there saying he did.”
“Yeah, I heard some gun shots, but lost consciousness before I hit the ground. I really can't say whether he did, although it seems unlikely, since you said there wasn't any trace of him where I landed. That's not something you can do if you've just jumped off a building.”
“Yeah exactly. Okay. Thanks for your help James, the information you've given me has been very helpful. I only have one more question. Is there any motive for this person to attack you.”
“None that I can think of at all. Like I told you, I just said hello to him, and he told me I had to die. He seemed to get on very well with everyone at the party though, so maybe they were covering for him.” That last statement was a lie, but James was trying to retain his appearance to the world here. He didn't want anything of his true abilities to be let out. “Like, he could have just shot down into the darkness a few times, and then ran away, with the guests all agreeing on a story to cover him.”
“Hrmm, that is a likely prospect. Okay, thanks again for your time. I'll see you later James. Hopefully next time we'll have this guy behind bars.” With that last comment he gave a hearty chuckle before leaving the room.
The conversation they had had left James with a lot to think about. Who was the unknown assailant? What is the crystal kingdom? How did he talk in James' mind? Or fly away? He definitely had the time to think about these questions and more. His body was probably going to be out of commission for several weeks with these injuries.
It was early morning when Inspector Karl left the hospital James was staying at. It only took him twenty minutes to drive back to the police station.
“Hey Glenn! I got that cassette interview from the incident outside the Barlow building.”
“Oh yep.” Glenn said, stalling for a few seconds as he remembered which incident that actually was. “Was there anything useful on there?”
“Yeah, some big stuff. A lot of it should completely turn this case around, well only if its true though. I'm a bit suspicious about some of this stuff he said though. Here take a take a listen.”
Karl passed the recording over to Glenn, who went and listened to the whole thing.
“Well. What do you think?” asked Karl. “Does anything strike out to you as odd?”
“Nothing extremely so, this is some pretty big stuff though. I guess it is a bit weird that he didn't know any motive, but we've dealt with cases like that before, you know how it is.”
“What about his excuse about the killer being friends with the party people? As though they had worked out a story?”
“Yeah, well it did actually sound a bit like they had worked out a story. Not that that necessarily means they did, but its plausible.”
“You would think though, that if they had organised a story, they would have remained consistent. But there was a large discrepancy between whether he fell off the balcony or jumped off. If they had organised a story, then it would have been consistent. There is something wrong with this. I'm sure he's lying to us about what he knows. I can feel it.
“Calm down man. I think you're looking to deeply into this. Remember, we are not allowed to 'feel' it. We have to remain objective in everything we do. The guy was probably just hypothesizing about what could be done. “Never attribute to malice that which can be easily explained by stupidity”.”
Karl sighed, this was gonna be a hard case.
The castle of the crystal kingdom was not made out of crystals. This is not what you would expect, but its how it was. The entire building was made out of metal, and it just looked like a large metallic dome from the outside. There were several holes scattered around the outside of it, leaving and entering, or even just for a view. Scattered around the dome-like castle, were the houses of the peasantry. Our unknown assailant could see them tending to their fields as he flew past to the dome.
Now at this point, it becomes difficult to tell the story without knowing this assailants name. Although like James, his name is not important. Having you know it very much helps with telling the story. So yeah, his name is Rayid.
The reason this land was called the crystal kingdom, was not because it was made out of crystals. But rather because of one large crystal, situated in the centre of the dome-like castle. This was a great source of magical power. Its storage abilities were said to be limitless, and it would resonate any unused power to increase the energy it was currently storing. The crystal kingdom had strict usage guidelines for the crystal. To use a quantified unit of energy from the crystal, at least two units of energy must have been generated first. This allowed for it to add the extra unit to itself, and would thus grow faster and more in the future.
All of the inhabitants of the crystal kingdom were heavy users of magic. Their kingdom was moderately prosperous, but they were still no match for many of the other kingdoms in terms of raw man power. It was their largest fear that one day one of these kingdoms would invade. For weeks non-stop, a group of mages reached out into the rifts between the worlds, and worked out the probabilities of how to expand their kingdom's strength. One thing they found, was a young boy. A child of one of the peasants. It was uncommon for a peasant's child to ever shown any magical aptitude, but this boy was different. He would lead their kingdom into prosperity it had never experienced before. This boy was Rayid. The mages took Rayid in as one of their own, and gave him the training a peasant would never have otherwise gotten.
Rayid flew into one of the entry holes and landed gracefully. There was nobody to see him enter, which was just the way he liked it. He moved silently towards his room to retire for sleep.
A cough sounded through the hallway. Not an innocent cough. The kind of cough that you do to attract someone's attention.
“Rayid! Come! I've been meaning to speak to you.”
It was Elder Lumni, the ruler of the crystal kingdom. His tone was imperative. The kind of voice from someone who is used to giving orders.
“er.. what about?” asked Rayid, but the elder didn't respond. He knew he didn't have to answer that, so Rayid just followed him into his office.
The office was a dull looking place. It had the same metal coloured walls that the outside dome had. Elder Lumni had done nothing to personalise the room. There was a metal desk in the room, with several large books placed carelessly around on it. There were two metal chairs. Elder Lumni sat on the one behind the desk.
“Have a seat Rayid. Would you like a cup of tea?”
“No thanks,” said Rayid, sitting himself on the chair. It wasn't particularly comfortable, but he was used to that after living in this castle for so long.
“OK then. I'm not going to beat around the bush Rayid. I've been monitoring your activities recently. I see you've been reading the probabilities a lot recently, and have even taken a few out of world trips. I want to know exactly what you've been doing, so if necessary, I can put a stop to it.”
This wasn't a welcome jolt to Rayid, but he was hopeful the elder would understand.
“Well.. You know how I'm supposed to be the next leader of the crystal kingdom. The chosen one to lead us into the future.” The elder nodded, a silent motion to continue. “Well you always told me from the start that it wasn't a hundred percent certain. So I decided to check what could stop me from being your ruler.” Elder Lumni's mouth had turned into a frown at this point, but Rayid continued anyway. “Anyway, most of the stuff was fairly unlikely, or too small-fry to worry about. But there was one thing, a person in fact, whose existence was a threat to my rulership.”
“Well? What did you do then?” The elder seemed quite tense.
“I made sure that he wasn't around to bother me any more.”
“You did what!?” The elder snapped. “This is serious Rayid. I think you'd better show me exactly what happened.”
Rayid sighed, he always hated having to share his mind with others. Elder Lumni touched his finger on to Rayid's forehead. Rayid could feel the thoughts in his mind twisting around, being tossed carelessly. Suddenly out of the twirling chaos, the scene with James arrived. After it flashed by in mere seconds, Elder Lumni released his hold of Rayid's mind. Rayid fell off his chair, and then threw up.
“Ugh.. I hate doing that”
“Quiet Rayid! I don't think you understand how serious this situation is.”
“I was just looking out for the future of the kingdom.”
“Fool! You were looking out for the future of yourself! It is unlikely, but you better pray like hell that he survived that fall.”
“Heh unlikely, don't you mean impossible?” Rayid's words were lost, as Elder Lumni had already entered a meditative trance. “Er.. Elder?”
The elder opened his eyes. “You're one lucky man, Rayid. The man you attacked is alive.”
“What!? No way.”
“Yes way, and you're going to go back to his world and heal him back to full health.”
“No buts Rayid. Your probabilities were right, but not in the way you thought. It is actually this act you just made that brought him into your world. And if you don't heal him, you won't become our leader because you'll be expelled. Do I make myself clear?”
Rayid sighed yet again. “Yes Elder Lumni.”
“Good, I can only hope that you actually know healing spells, your training has indicated nothing of it.”
The doctor's were claiming James' rehabilitation speed to be a miracle as well. The strain his body was used to taking seemed to have made it regenerate at an improved rate. His upper body was usable within a week, and he was already moving around carefully on crutches. When James was seated, he had been practising movements of his upper body. One thing he had recently found curious was whether he could keep his arm perfectly still. He was having trouble with it at first, because he could still feel very very small vibrations going on within his arm. Currently though, he was getting to a good point with it, and noticed a very strange phenomenon. His skin and flesh was starting to become translucent, and all the blood in his capillaries, veins and arteries were visible underneath it.
“That's a very intriguing start of an invisibility spell”
James looked up, and Rayid was standing in front of his bed.
“Relax, I'm not here to hurt you. In fact my master said I made a mistake, and I have to come here to heal you.” He sighed, and then flex his arms forward, palms facing James.
James felt the last of the gun-shot wounds on his upper body disappear. He couldn't fully feel what happened to his legs straight away, but then the casts burst open, and he could move them again.
“Ju-just who are you?” James stammered.
Rayid sighed. “I thought I had gone over this already. I am the chosen one.”
“Er.. yeah.. Do you have a name?”
“It is impolite to ask for a name without offering your own first.”
“Well if we're talking about impolite things. I think throwing knives at a person, then shooting them transcends impolite.”
Rayid sighed. “Fine, my name is Rayid. I have come here to atone for those actions I made. Your injuries are healed, now just let me remove any memories of the incident from other people and we'll call it a day huh?”
James peered at Rayid. “Not so fast, Rayid! Do you really think merely healing me makes up for what you did. I very nearly died back there. I was thinking, perhaps you could also teach me how to use magic like you do.”
“Ha! That will be the day. My healing you is gracious compared to what I was going to do.” The way he emphasised the I was unsettling to James. “There's no way I'd let you be in a position to be of that much danger to me, that's why I attacked you in the first place. No, I have healed you now, so I will be leaving.” He paused for a second. “I will tell you one thing though. What you were doing with your arm there was a good start. If you can expand into some of the extra feelings you had when doing that, you should be able to start learning magic on your own.”
And with that, he left. There was not a trace of James' hospitalisation left in the room. He was sitting on an already made bed. The plaster from the shattered cast had disappeared, and the room itself was generally very empty.
A nurse walked past the door, stopped, and looked to see James sitting on the bed. This was the same nurse who had been tending to James during his week-long stay.
“Um.. excuse me.” She said quite politely. “This room doesn't have any patients in it. Could I help you find whoever you're looking for?”
“Uh.. no, sorry. But thanks for the offer.” James gave her a warm smile to help remove any suspicion she might be feeling, and walked out of the hospital.
Elder Lumni was just casually reading another book he needed when Rayid knocked on his office door.
“Ah. Rayid it is you. Tell me, were you able to heal the man you attacked?”
“Yes Elder Lumni. I also took the precaution to hide the memories away from the people who knew about this incident.”
Elder Lumni nodded approvingly. “I am glad that you were able to do it. From your exam results, I was unsure whether you even knew how to do such tasks.”
“With all due respect sir, I beat every single opponent I was examined against.”
“Yes, but you did it without showcasing how much you have progressed. The enchantment you're applying to that wooden sword is excellently done, but its a very simple enchantment. The same goes for the speed boost you give yourself. If you can not showcase your abilities to the others, they will be reluctant in accepting you as a worthy leader.”
“Sir, then perhaps it would be better to find an opponent who can actually make me have to use the skills at my disposal?”
“Your arrogance will be the end of you Rayid. Or at least much more so than any foreign man ever could be.” Elder Lumni thought it over for a few seconds. “Very well. If you're up for it, we will have you fight against one of our senior students. How does that sound?”
“Like music to my ears. When and where?”
“It will take time to organise someone to fight you. How about in a week next Monday, two pm on the senior field outside the castle?”
“That's fine by me. I'll see you then.”
It was a fine and sunny day that Monday. A large crowd had come to watch the fight between Rayid and whichever senior student he was pitted against. Rayid was the underdog in this match, and all of the younger students were rallying behind him. The senior student chosen to fight him was named Torlo. He was a tall lanky boy with a fiery red hair. This suited him, as he was the most skilled fire magician the crystal kingdom had seen since Professor Neebu. It was said that his fire could turn flesh into bone in as little as two seconds. Rayid couldn't help get the feeling that Elder Lumni only agreed to this match to teach him a lesson in humility.
The senior field had long lost any grass from the high intensity battles that were used as assessment. And today would be no different. There was a magical square drawn on the ground, easily large enough for the two students to move around easily. This acted as a shield between the two users, ensuring that any of their attacks would not spill out on the audience. On two opposing corners of the square, a professor sat. Their role was to act as interventionists, constantly maintaining the spell that would rescue any student about to suffer a fatal attack.
The tension was starting to unnerve Rayid, who usually remained calm, completely confident of his abilities. Apart from his clothes, the only thing Rayid was bringing into this fight was a long wooden sword, mostly blunt. Torlo on the other hand, had quite an assortment of pre-enchanted items. Such as a deck of cards that stored additional energy, or a belt that could create a shield barrier.
“Gentleman, Ladies, I welcome you to this battle here today.” Elder Lumni's voice was being amplified by magic, and everyone had stopped what they were doing to listen to him. “Today, we are bending the rules slightly, to allow a tenth year student the chance to fight one of our fourteenth year senior students. As expected this has drawn quite a large crowd.” His chuckles to this remark resonated throughout the crowd. “So without further ado, I present to you the battle of Rayid vs. Torlo. Battlers, enter the battle-square.”
Rayid walked in via the corner closest to him. Torlo did the same.
“And let the match begin.” A roar erupted from the spectators.
Torlo wasted no time putting the pressure onto Rayid. He flung small balls of fire off the ends of his finger tips, right to where Rayid had entered. The fireballs were deceptively small, but Rayid could feel how much of a punch they packed. As an act of showmanship, he waited until a few split second before they were going to hit him, before jumping sideways with incredible speed.
The area where he had just left exploded. The result was much larger than even Rayid had expected. Large pieces of ground went in all directions, and Rayid had to use his best dodging skills to avoid being hit by them. He had also hoped to use the distraction by his late as possible avoidance to surprise his opponent. But Torlo had already filled his hands to the brim with large wisps of fire. Dear god, if those small fireballs did that, what will this do. Torlo punched his left arm towards Rayid, palm open. A wave of fire erupted. A good metre and a half above the ground. The emanating heat was already causing it to heat up into lava. Rayid was already on the other side of the square at this point, and he could feel the heat cracking his skin. With his other hand, Torlo did a similar motion as the other towards Rayid. A wave of fire erupted again.
This fight was going to actually force Rayid to use magic other than what he normally did, to his disappointment. He liked fuelling the myth that he was a one-trick pony, but the whole point was moot if he refused to unexpectedly show another trick. Determined to keep it as a minimum. He held out his left hand, two main fingers out, and began fuelling his body with the protective quality of ice. The two fingers started to glow a light blue. This was the time to start his own offensive. He added the sharp power of wind to his blade, turning it from a blunt piece of wood, into a sharp weapon.
What he needed to do now was find a path to Torlo that would minimise the heat he took from the waves of fire. He first went to a position that was equally as far away from each wave of fire. But as the first wave died out, he went down that to avoid the most heat. Torlo had already begun casting another spell, so he would have to be fast in reaching him. Rayid thrust forward. Torlo spell erupted a wall of fire around him in a ring. This happened at precisely the same time that Rayid sword reached him. He heard a loud “Argh” through the wall of fire. And a large burst of energy blasted outwards knocking him over, and dispelling the wall of fire. Rayid's sword had been incinerated in the blaze. All that remained was the handle.
“Urgh.. you hit me! I'll make you pay for that you bastard!” Torlo went into a frenzy. Balls of fire were being thrown all over the battlefield haphazardly. It was all Rayid could do to dodge them and cool himself off against their barrage. “I'll kill you! I'll fucking kill you!” The heat had caused the entire battlefield to turn into lava, and extra professors had been called to make sure it didn't leak outside of the battlefield. Rayid had to put ice magic into his feet to walk on it. This meant he had less for wind magic, which would result in him moving slower. This wasn't a particularly good situation to be in. On top of that, he had lost his sword, his primary means of damage. He was going to have to show another of his abilities to even be able to do some damage, let alone survive.
“Why.. won't.. you.. die..” Torlo was puffing strongly from the attacks. He was levitating in the air to avoid the lava, but was obviously having trouble with it. With a pained cough, he lost control and fell into the lava.
They were both then pulled to the corners outside of the battle-square. There was a large pause of bewilderment from everybody there.
“Uh.. Rayid wins!” Elder Lumni said, finally realising he was supposed to speak.
Nobody erupted into cheer, they were all disappointed at how anti-climatic the fight was. A few people congratulated him on winning, but they all felt a bit cheated.
“Rayid!” It was Elder Lumni. “I'm disappointed in you. I organised this fight especially so you could show case your abilities, and you went through the whole thing only showing one new spell. Is this really the limit of your spell casting?”
Rayid grinned wildly. “Perhaps you just need to send someone stronger”
Elder Lumni mostly ignored this remark, walking away and muttering under his breath.
Chapter 3 – The defence of the Crystal Kingdom.
Well I guess that last part of that story was mostly irrelevant, but I felt that it was important to let you know what kind of person Rayid was. As he still has an important part to play yet. This next section details James first grasps on properly understanding magic, and how Rayid leads the crystal kingdom towards a prosperous future.
It was three years later, and Inspector Karl had been recently promoted to a nicer office. As a result of this he was packing up all of his stuff, and looking at some of things that had accumulated as part of his mess. A police officer was supposed to be organised, as it represented the orderly behaviour that they were supposed to uphold. Karl never cared for that, so he was intrigued at all the things he had done in the past. The accomplishments were quite numerous, and made him feel like he deserved this promotion he was getting. The majority of the documents he recognised immediately, but there was one thing that he couldn't remember seeing at all. A tape, the type that was discontinued a year ago for newer technology. They used these for recording interviews between the people. Curious, he found a tape player and plugged it in.
“Hello James. My name is inspector Karl.” That was definitely his own voice, he had gotten used to it over the years. As he listened to the entire tape, he could not remember it having ever happened. The tape was dated for almost exactly three years ago. Back then his partner was Glenn. He decided to check in with Glenn on it, seeing if he knew anything about it.
“Hey Glenn. I was packing up all of my stuff when I found this tape. I can't for the life of me remember having this interview, although it definitely has my voice in it. The tape was dated for three years ago, back when you and me were partners. Could you take a listen?”
“Sure. Congratulations on your new promotion by the way Karl. Its about time they gave you one.”
Karl smiled. “Thanks Glenn.”
A few minutes later Glenn had a perplexed look on his face. “It feels familiar, although I'm also sure I've never heard it before.”
“Yeah I get the same thing. It's almost as though its a repressed memory or something.” They both looked at each other nervously at that remark.
“Perhaps you should see the sergeant about it? Although if its a repressed memory, it may be best to leave it. Who knows what you might dig up.”
Karl frowned. “OK thanks Glenn.”
James was at the local university library. A pile of twelve large text books were stacked up in various piles next to him, and he was rapidly flicking through the pages in the current book he was on. It was a book on macro – economic theory. And James could tell from his socialising abilities that most of it was wrong. It did give him some ideas on how to run an economy however. On the left was the pile of books he had already read today. Shakespearian Literature; Advanced Matrix Algebra; Freudian Psychological Analysis. James was attempting to rapidly increase his knowledge in all areas. He had made a short-term goal to be able to fool an expert in any field into believing he was also an expert.
James' invisibility spell had made great progress. Once he found out how to keep atoms at the lower level still, he found he could stay invisible while still moving. This meant his blood could still pump, and he could move around successfully. The only problem was the lack of heat. Having no vibrations meant having no heat. So he could only maintain the invisibility for about one minute, before having to wait much longer for his body to warm up again.
James was not actually enrolled at the University here. At first he attended lectures for free, but he found they taught things too slowly for his liking. Since he did not actually take any books out of the library, he could read them as much as he liked during public hours without raising any suspicion. This worked perfectly for him.
Over the last three years, James' programming time had been devoted entirely into an Artificial Intelligence program. It was getting pretty good now. He had taught it to be able to analyse and program code. This took a lot more processing power than his laptop could handle, so he had to hire some on line storage space to run the AI on. The program had gotten to the point where it would improve itself, and he had left it half doing that for several months. The other half had been doing the freelance coding work for him. This meant James had a source of income that he had to do no work for. And as time would go on, the capabilities would be even better.
Several hours later, James packed up and put the books back into place. Little did he know that today would finally be the day of his magical break through. Back at his flat, James was living the student's dream. It was all a charade he put on to fool others, but he was the only one who knew that. His room was musty smelling. He had clothes sprawled everywhere. In the corner were a large pile of books he had wanted but couldn't find in the library. In the other corner was a guitar. He was part of a band at campus, but he didn't take any creative direction in their songs, in fear they might get too popular. Although in truth he had no idea whether his musical talent was really that great. Since music was so opinionated, and he did not want to draw attention to any talent he might have, he just worked on things that interested himself. On the other hand, the few songs from his band where he had given creative direction did seem to be their most popular.
He went inside of his room, where his flat-mates usually just left him alone. He was just lightly working on his invisibility spell, when he kinda noticed a spiral-like circle had been forming on the very edge of his mind. As soon as he noticed this, it got brought to the very front of his mind, where suddenly his arm went totally invisible. Interesting James thought. He noticed that he could change the shape of this circle, although not always with pleasant results. For a split second he changed it into a triangular shape, and millions of small cuts appeared all over his arm. The cuts weren't deep, but blood was gushing everywhere out of them. The potential blood-loss could be fatal. James grabbed a towel and wrapped his arm in it tightly. He should really do something more, but this new development was enthralling to him.
He concentrated on his other arm this time, with the usual invisibility spiral. It took him a while, but after about twenty minutes he was able to get the invisibility to occur over an area of about one centimetre in diameter. He began practising moving the area of invisibility up and down his arm. At first the area of the invisibility would hugely increase as soon as he made it move. But yet again, he was able to contain it after a short while. He moved it to the very edge of his finger, and then changed the shape in his mind to a triangle again. This time the result was more catastrophic, the cuts were just as numerous, but over a much smaller area, and the entire end of his finger was sliced off into many pieces. Blood was leaking out of his finger quite fast, and the towel on his other arm was soaked. With a sigh he made the decision to go see a doctor, as otherwise the blood-loss would be far too over the top.
James had gone to the doctor, his arm and his finger were both in bandages. He had tried to think of a logical explanation for why he had done this. But nothing could come up for what he had. As a result, the rather suspicious doctor had called the police. And by some strange act of chance, Inspector Karl was directed the call.
Ugh.. I have so many better things I should be doing. Some weird kid cut himself, was probably listening to too much emo music.
By the time Karl was travelling there, it had begun to rain quite heavily. His car was getting a bit old and should probably be replaced soon, but combined with the rain he definitely had to take it quite slow. So when he arrived James was already considering leaving.
"Hi, I'm inspector Karl." He said, holding up his police badge. "You gave us a call about someone with many cuts?"
"Oh.. Hi. I'm Doctor Bridges." She came across as a friendly woman. "Yes we have a patient called James who refused to tell us why he got cut. We believe someone inflicted it on him, and he is covering for them."
This is such a waste of my time, thought Karl yet again. "Alright, let me see him then."
Inspector Karl was guided down a long corridor before he reached the room.
"He's in here."
Doctor Bridges opened the door, and James was arguing loudly with one of the nurses.
"I'm fine, I just needed some bandages, won't you let me leave?"
"No! You nearly fainted from the loss of blood, it would be irresponsible for us to let you leave with what could happen to you."
James wasn't even looking at the nurse any more though. His bemused face was instead changed to an odd expression as his eyes found their way to Karl.
"Hello James. My name is Inspector Karl." He held out his hand to shake James', but realised that this probably wasn't such a great idea. As he tried to laugh this off, he got a foreboding sense of deja vu. James wasn't opening up to his nice guy act. Karl was used to this, and changed his tact to a more serious one.
"James, the doctor's here have reports of numerous scars all over your right arm, and a chunk taken out of one of your fingers. You refuse to tell them anything about what is going on. You can understand why they might be suspicious here. I'm frankly quite suspicious as well." James stared at him silently. "Now, with a case like this. The usual reason for this, is one of two things. Lets take option 'A'. You have gotten involved with the wrong group of friends, and one of them feels the need to cut you. Maybe because they don't like you, maybe because you've done something wrong. Who knows? The people who do this kind of thing are already pretty screwed in the head. Anyway its possible that you don't want to expose whoever did this to you. To be honest I can't force you to expose them. Now before I try and convince you to tell me there other names. Lets look at option 'B'. I personally think this is the more likely case. Basically that you were cutting yourself on purpose." James was still staring intently and silently. "In the police force, there are two main reasons why a person cuts themselves. Originally there was just one, that the person wanted to kill themselves. We were often called to convince people not to do this, and would have psychologists on board to help ourselves with this. The other reason is a more recent one. There's basically a culture of kids who thinks its cool to cut themselves, goths or emos or something. I'm not too clued up on the things kids like these days."
James gave out a laugh. "Well I can assure you, I'm not an emo, or a goth. My life is too good to want to commit suicide either."
That voice.. There is something familiar about it. "Uh.. excuse me, I seem to have forgotten my train of thought. What where we talking about again?"
"Er.. you just tried to tell me that I'm either covering for criminals, or that I'm some sort of suicidal emo. Not very professional if you ask me." James said this with a glare, he was getting impatient at being kept waiting. He wanted to test out his powers some more, although preferably ones that don't put cuts all over his body.
"Yeah well, I'm sorry but you're not being very helpful here." Karl took a few seconds to put his thoughts on track. The boy definitely sounded familiar, but he couldn't remember from where. "Well basically I agree about the suicide part. I don't think that's likely. For a start, your cuts, although numerous are quite thin. Also would a suicidal person walk themselves all the way to a doctor after the act? The only way that would work is if you changed your mind about committing suicide. And the work that happened to your arm is far too elaborate for that. You also come across completely differently to those who cut themselves. As an officer of the law I'm not supposed to use my gut feeling on this, but I'll let you know that my gut tells me you didn't cut yourself. So what does that leave? If Sherlock Holmes is to be believed, by process of elimination we have proven you have been cut by someone else, and refuse to tell us who."
"Sherlock Holmes was a retard. If your elimination leads to the incredibly improbable. That means your sample of possible options was too small. There is another cause for my arms, that is none of the things you suggested. Of course I am not legally obligated to tell you any of it. Now may I ask, Inspector Karl. Are you here to arrest me for something? Or can I leave?"
"Well no. Technically I am not here to arrest you. Whether or not you can leave is up to the doctors however. From the sounds of it you'll be here a while. I'm going to take a copy of your information and get back to you later. Get well."
Inspector Karl left the building feeling slightly better than he did coming in. It wasn't until he was lying awake in bed that night, that he remembered where he had James voice from. The mysterious tape. He made a note of this, while he was naturally curious to see what it was about. It could wait.
Rayid was doing well in his study at the Crystal Kingdom. Although his knowledge of magic was certainly well above most of the other people there, he used as little as possible in their battle-tests. Elder Lumni wouldn't let that go, until Rayid beat him too, using only some of the most simple magic. The world around the Crystal Kingdom was under rough conflict. One of the kingdom's had just begun using advanced technology to aid them in battle, and had already taken over many other parts of the world. The Crystal Kingdom was being left for later, because as an country of advanced magic, it was considered more risky than the others. However there was only so long until they were invaded. And the technological army was getting larger with each passing month.
Elder Lumni and the other more advanced magic users were anxious about letting Rayid lead them, especially in such tough times. Some of them believed this was exactly what their reading of the probability maps had meant. While others thought that he was unfit for the job in most ways. The fact that he had beaten every other magic user in the Crystal Kingdom meant the vote eventually went in his favour. Even Elder Lumni was convinced to give him a try.
Rayid was completely unaware that these discussions were even happening. He divided his time between studying more magical powers; practising his sword stances; and aiding the peasants with their chores in the village. As a result he was become a well-rounded character. The peasants began to really like and trust him. Usually the peasants looked upon the kingdom itself with disdain. A bunch of magic users who cared more about maintaining their own position in the kingdom's hierarchy, than aiding the people within it.
The conversation about Rayid didn't mention the peasants at all. Although a few were aware that he helped the peasants with their work, they just assumed it was his peasant heritage. Nobody realised how much they trusted him. Therefore his first action as leader of the Crystal Kingdom surprised everyone.
With the impending invasion, all of the mages were so focused on becoming stronger to fight off the enemy. Rayid knew that the enemy were just too numerous, and their technology was also very powerful. He decided to enlist the peasantry as a militia force. The peasants would have refused any of the other mages. The idea of being cannon-fodder for the invading forces while the mages can try and fight them from a far. They trusted Rayid though, he had shown that he actually cared for them.
Rayid designed some simple enchantments. A tunic with a minor barrier and healing capabilities; and a magically blessed sword, with the power to cut through a lot more than a normal sword. The items were quite easy for the mages to make, once the initial design had already been done.
"People, hear me. You have been enlisted to the defence of our kingdom against the ever increasing threat of invasion. There are many of you who don't want to become a part of this. You would rather succumb to the rule of the invading force, than die for our rule. It is unfortunate that you think that, but I will not sway you. However, you know that I respect you. The peasants are what makes this kingdom. You provide us with the food we eat, the paper we write on. Your labour is what makes our country strong. As the new leader of the Crystal Kingdom, I will make sure you are rewarded for your work.
If you fight for us, you will not be alone. Not only will the mages be on the battlefield, working amongst you all, but I have made them work tirelessly. They have worked tirelessly to provide you with these." Rayid held up one of the tunics and swords. "Protective clothes of healing, and swords that can cut through steel. We understand that your lives are important. A simple stabbing wound will be healed in approximately ten seconds wearing this tunic, and arrows will bounce off a barrier before they even hit you. I must warn you that these suits will not make you invulnerable. If you die, they can not resurrect you. If your are dismembered, your limbs will not grow back. But these will greatly improve your chance of living. And if we defeat this invading force. I can assure you that your lives will be greatly improved under my rule."
The speech was rather well received among the peasants. Not necessarily because of the content, but many of them would have fought for Rayid anyway. On the other hand, the mages weren't particularly pleased about what he had promised. They liked the ideas of hiding themselves in towers, firing fire balls from above.
"What are you thinking Rayid?" It was Torlo. "Having us fight among the peasants. Not only will we suffer far greater losses among our mages with this. But what about any fall-out from our spells?"
Rayid smirked. "Yes, that is why the use of excessive magic in this battle is therefore forbidden. I will give out a notice to everyone else about this later."
"What!? Forbidden!? But why?"
"Torlo, we are going to win this battle. The peasants have high morale, and they will be trained in the proper use of their weapons, as will the rest of you. I have seen the invading army, they have many amazing tools. Guns that shoot tiny metal rocks at enemies faster than you can blink. Large crawling hunks of metal that shoot giant rocks. They are a tough force that the world has not expected in the slightest. However their largest advantage against us has always been their numbers. With the numbers being provided from the peasantry, we can easily out-match them. We don't even need to use any of this magic. Don't show off your abilities to the world when they don't need to see them. What I want our mages to do, is focus on protective barriers and healing. If we do well enough against their invading force, we may be able to push a counter-attack.”
“Y-you want to do a counter-attack? Geez you're certainly optimistic.” Torlo thought for a few seconds. “Alright, I'll do exactly as you say, but if they're beating us-”
“Then I'll give the order to go all out myself.” Rayid interrupted.
Torlo grinned wildly. “OK, want me to spread the message to everyone else then?”
Rayid simply nodded.
James had made good progress on learning his magic. It had been several days since he had been discharged from the hospital. He had found different patterns that made him able to do different things, and was getting the hang of how the symbols worked. He was also able to focus where and how strong the magic was going. He could now do a minor cut over a small area of his arm if he wanted. As opposed to the near removal of his finger from the other day. He had even found a way of knitting his wounds back together, so he was even able to fully heal.
So while he was doing some more work on this, he wasn't particularly pleased to have Inspector Karl come round.
"Hello James. I just came for that check up I promised." Karl said through the door.
James put on a large sweatshirt to cover his arms, and put his left hand in his pocket. "Er.. Just a second." He opened the door for the police officer. "Hi, come in."
"You're looking a lot better already. Are your wounds getting better?"
James face showed no expression. "Yeah they're healing alright."
Karl nodded thoughtfully. He didn't really care about the wounds, he was more concerned about how he recognised James voice from the tape. "Hrmm.. Okay then. Have you ever been in any accidents before, been on the wrong side of a fight, that sort of thing."
"Not at all."
Hrmm.. that didn't work. "Okay then." Maybe I should just ask him straight out about it. "Look, I'm gonna be blunt here. I have a tape here about a report, and it has your voice on it. Could you listen to this for me?"
James raised his eyebrows in genuine surprise. It seems there must have been some loose ends from that incident several years ago. The tape was exactly as he remembered it, he was probably going to have to confess now.
"You weren't supposed to have this tape you know. This really complicates things."
"What? How come I don't remember anything about this. This is definitely my voice, and the other voice is definitely yours."
"That's because the voices are ours. About three years ago, you and I were both having an interview about another case. As the interview pointed out, a man shot me several times and knocked me out of the window. Its not the full story though." James didn't continue after this.
"But I've never seen you before in my life, and I had never heard this interview until as of a few weeks ago."
"Not entirely true. You don't think you've ever seen me before, but you actually have. For this story to work, there are things you'll have to know about me. Things I don't want other people to actually know. If I were to let you know about this, I'd be putting a lot of trust into you."
"You can trust me."
"No. I don't think I can. You think that you're trustworthy, but you have no idea what I'm going to say. Hypothetically speaking, lets say I told you that I was a serial murderer, you would then have to lock me up."
"You're a serial murderer?" Karl said, slightly shocked.
"No. I said hypothetically speaking."
"Except now you've given me reasonable doubt on thinking you're a serial murderer. You're going to have to tell me, otherwise I'll be forced to arrest you."
James grinned. "You know that kind of stuff doesn't really go down in the court. I could make that decision be the end of your career for you if I wanted."
Karl sighed. This guy was obviously quite smart. He couldn't out-wit him. Honesty was usually the best approach in these situations. "Alright, yet again you've forced me to be honest with you. I have no idea whats going on with that tape. I don't want to arrest you, I just want answers. Will you please help me? This thing is creeping me out."
James looked at him intently for a moment, and then sighed. "Alright, here take a look at this." He pulled his hand out of his pocket, and rolled up his sleeves.
"Y-your wounds. They're completely healed!?"
"Yeah, and there's more to it than that as well." With a whimper of pain, he sliced several long cuts along his arm, and healed them in front of the officer's eyes.
"What the hell. I don't believe this. What's going on?"
James sighed again. "Basically, I'm not your ordinary person. Ever since I was a kid I've been training myself up in secret. That tape you have there, its not entirely correct. I was at the party, like you knew. And I also didn't know anyone there, like you also know. At the time I was testing how well I could get along with people, being able to get invited to parties of people I'd just met, stuff like that. Well this was quite an expensive party, so it took me a while to get good enough to be able to get in with a crowd like that straight off the bat. I was doing my usual mingling, but it wasn't working quite as good as usual. There was another person there completely out doing me. After a while, I got a bit bored and stood out on the balcony to get some fresh air. He then came up to me, and told me that he wanted me dead. He took out several knives from under his jacket and threw them at me, then pulled out two guns and shot each six times right at me."
"Wait.. what? Knife wounds? two guns shot six times right at you? I didn't think there were any knife wounds when you were in the hospital."
"Correct. I caught the first two knives, and deflected the rest of the attacks."
"You rest of the attacks? What about your four bullet wounds."
"Yeah. I deflected all of those attacks, then jumped off the balcony. I was trying to slow down my fall by slicing one of the knives into the wall of the building. But it just got ripped out of my hands like that. After that I noticed that this strange guy had also jumped off the balcony after me. He started shooting at me some more, while speaking into my mind."
"Speaking into your mind."
"Yeah. It was like I was having thoughts about things, but they weren't my own. Anyway, I only had one knife left at this point, but he still had two guns. On the way down he shot four times with both. I blocked the more fatal of the gunshots, but had to sustain a bullet for each time he fired. Straight after that I hit the ground, but he flew away."
"Flew away? Don't worry, as far as the rest of the story goes its about the same. This is pretty unbelievable, and on top of that it doesn't even answer my questions about the tape."
"Yeah. Well its information you need to know for my answer about the tape to make sense. I was pretty close to dead at this point, the doctor's claimed my recovery a miracle. You were assigned to the case, pretty worried about it and everything. That interview was from then. I lied a bit about it, because the story is insane, and I'm still trying to keep everything a secret. About a week afterwards I was already walking around on crutches and stuff. I'd been doing a bit more practice on my muscle work, and had started what was to be the start of my first spell. Anyway just as I got that doing something, the same guy who attacked me shows up in the hospital."
"Wait. Was he trying to kill you or something?"
"Funnily enough no. He told me that his masters had told him that what he did was wrong, and he had come to atone by healing me back, and removing any memories of what had happened from the authorities involved. My wounds were back to normal really fast, and none of the doctors or nurses knew who I was. I never heard from you again either, so it seems you were brainwashed as well."
"But he left the tape behind?"
"Yeah, he obviously didn't do a perfect job."
"Man. This is too much to handle, so you can use magic now?"
"Well yeah I've only really just started getting a proper hand on it. Last week when I had all those cuts, it was from me learning how to do different magic to the one spell I've been working on over the last years. It didn't work as well as you could hope for. But I was ecstatic about it, even with all the blood. Its why I was so insistent on leaving the doctors early. So I could practice some more."
Karl nodded. "Do you think.. er.. that maybe you could teach me how to do that?"
James laughed. "Maybe, but you'll definitely have to take a rain check on that. I'm nowhere near good enough to be teaching others how to do it yet. It was only a week ago that I ended up cutting myself to shreds."
Karl sighed. "Okay, well will you get back to me about it?"
"Maybe. I won't make any promises, who knows what could happen to me between now and then. Make sure not to tell anyone about this though, okay?"
"Yeah definitely." Karl was really hopeful about being able to do this cool stuff.
Rayid had been training all of the peasants, and all of the mages, in the use of the sword. Some of them had already learnt the basics, such as many of the black smiths who forged the blades to begin with. But the majority had a long way to go, so Rayid was drilling it into them fast. He had checked the probability lines, and today was the most likely day of the invasion. Most of the people were good enough with the sword for what was needed. But he wanted to do some last minute drill instructions before putting people into their tactical places.
Rayid had also been searching for magical talent among the peasants. He had found quite a large amount, at least a good eighty or so among the children, and many more among the adults. Among the children alone, this would nearly double the class size. As of current, he had just taught the adults to supply more energy into their enchanted items, to boost their power.
Several hours later, Rayid was standing at the very edge of the outer village, alone. Everyone who wasn't participating in the battle was locked away in the safety of the actual kingdom fortress. He also had a few of the Elder Mages by the crystal itself, as a back-up plan in case things went really bad and they needed the crystal powers. Rayid didn't think this was necessary, but the Elders insisted on it, having trouble trusting in Rayid's plan.
The very edge of the out village was on the bottom of a hill. The hill was covered in tussock and flax and other large bush-like plants. There were no trees, but a lot of cover. When the foreign troops marched over the hill ridge - thousands wide - it must have looked strange to see Rayid all alone, waiting for them confidently. It could have also possibly looked quite intimidating, with the rumours of the Crystal Kingdom's mages. The men were wearing camouflage, but it was plain to see they were there against the blue sky. There were many camouflaged tanks.
Several of the foreign troops - those who felt one opposing troop made less reason for concern - aimed their guns and fired. The bullets shot out at Rayid, but stopped mere centimetres from him, as he had planned. He pulled out his sword. Electricity crackled along the blade. The opposing army responded with some loud artillery fire. Six different units shot out giant balls of lead at his location. Rayid had seen these in his previous observations. Their impact on the ground would send out shock waves against the earth, so even if he were to dodge them, he would be knocked over. Loud claps of thunder flew from his sword, and destroyed the artillery fire in mid air. Rayid had a suspicion that he could possibly defeat this army single handedly, but that wouldn't work for a ruling kingdom.
“Chaaaaaaaaarrgee!” he bellowed out from the very depths of his lungs. He started to run towards the enemy, moving like a blur up the hill. On his war cry, the peasants arose from the various shrubbery in the hill and also started charging up the hill. It didn't take long for Rayid to overtake them, and he was the first into the battle. He quickly ran down the people in his way. He wasn't concerned about the soldiers, his men could easily take them all on. The biggest problem would be the various armoured vehicles they had.
When he came up to the first tank, he struck out with his sword. The lightning crackled everywhere. He heard screams from within the tank, but then it exploded. By this point all of his men had made it to the top of the hill and were also fighting. The various mages he had were either working on protecting the peasants as much as possible, or taking out any of the other artillery. The peasants were fighting ferociously. The gun-fighters were totally unprepared for this size of an assault.
The battle was over in a mere twenty minutes. The few people who had survived the frenzy were kept as prisoners of war, but there weren't many. His side had managed to get away without a single casualty, and because of the healing tunics, this meant none were currently wounded either.
"I'm sorry I doubted you, that was probably our finest battle ever."
"That's okay Torlo. But you will see us have many more final battles."
"Everyone!" Rayid had amplified his voice. "This battle may have been our finest, but we will have more to come. This country dared to invade us, and we have proven that to be their worst decision ever. Now we will prove it some more. There is much prosperous lands for us to conquer, and we will start with theirs."
Chapter 4 – Dimensional Travel.
Okay, so we kind of have two varying paths of story going now. The story of James, and the story of Rayid. The story was originally about James, so you may be wondering what Rayid is doing in it. This is the part where their stories start to truly join yet again. So be patient and listen, it is worth it.
It was a year later. James had made great progress on his magic, and had found it helped him with many other things. Probably the best thing that came out of it, was that he no longer needed to sleep. He could re-energise his mind on his own, and spend that time doing other things. He was also able to absorb information a lot faster. Basically once he had learnt to interface to his brain with magic, he found all kinds of extra opportunities.
He had been getting interested in mechanical engineering, and nano-technology. Specifically trying to combine the two towards better results. He had hired out a building where he worked on building various parts. The equipment for building devices at the nanometre level was incredibly expensive, so that just goes to show how much money his on line AI was making him. The AI was now decentralised from any particular point, distributed over many computers on the internet. The AI would now actively buy server space for itself, and expand to various locations. Making it less at risk to being shut down by power cuts or anything else.
James' current work was a large bi-pedal robot. He wanted to teach it to move elegantly. More elegantly than a human, possibly even as elegantly as he does. He could design it to be as flexible as he wanted it to be, so although it looked like a human, it had inhuman range of movement. His current training task was to fight with the robot, and let the AI learn how to move it by fighting him.
The robot stood before him now. It was twice as tall as a normal human. All of its limbs moved via pump action, and he had refined the speed down to millisecond latency response. On the right hand was a nanite enhanced sword. It had been designed so that there were many small particles inside the metal, that would rotate over it like a chain saw. These chains would all go in different directions, often grinding against each other. When activated, it hummed loudly, and the only thing James had found to stop it, was another of the same swords. In the robot's left hand, it carried a pistol. The pistol shot bullets that worked similarly in concept to the sword.
James was carrying two knives, beautifully decorated, but nothing special about them. On his back was one of the nanite enhanced swords in case he needed it. He had found a large sized room to have the battle in, a good twenty meters wide in all directions. He plugged a cable in to the back of the robot from his laptop, and pressed a few buttons. The screen buzzed with a progress meter, and within a minute it said "Upload complete". The robot immediately moved into a more relaxed position.
"Nicely done, you seem to have gotten the hang of basic human movement pretty quickly. Okay, give me the green light when you're ready."
The robots speakers spoke with a heavy tone, remarkably similar to that of a humans. "Okay, am I allowed to try some moves before we begin this? Just to get used to some basic things like jumping."
"Sure, go ahead."
The robot started to run around the room. The robot weighed very little for its size, but its feet still made a loud thump when they hit the ground. The robot noticed James cringing at this, and played around with different walking styles until it could move nearly silently. Next it tried doing some acrobatic moves. First it just did a basic jump, but that was too easy, and it got it right the first time. Next it did some fast running, and jumped forward into a roly-poly before standing upright again. It did a few back flips, falling over at first, but got it right the second time.
"Alright, I think I'm ready." A green light lit up on the robot's chest.
"OK then, lets go."
The robot raised its left arm in James' general direction and fired. The first few shots were terrible, but within no time at all every shot was aimed at James perfectly. James was dodging the bullets pretty effortlessly still, he wasn't even using magic to aid his speed. He moved in close to the robot, and started to attack with his knives. The knives weren't doing a lot of damage, but he was scraping the side of the case quite badly. At this point he was still trying to go somewhat easy on it, as it still hadn't perfectly calibrated all of its movements yet. The robot tried swinging its sword at James. As with all its other actions, the first few moves were terrible, but got better astoundingly fast. James had to sacrifice one of his knives to slow the sword down long enough to get away.
The robot charged right after James, swinging the sword with expert precision. There were only two things James would be able to do, use magic, or use his own sword. He chose the sword.
"Alright, now we duel properly. You may be able to swing it accurately, but that doesn't mean you can use a sword. En garde!"
James held out his sword calmly. The robot did some perfectly accurate swings yet again, but they were easily deflected. James then made some of his own moves. He charged in on the robot, side stepped its sword attack, and sliced off its gun. The robot didn't quite have a quick enough reaction, but just after gun got chopped off, its propulsion thrusters pushed it backwards incredibly fast.
It did seem to be learning though. It had just changed it stance, with its legs ready for fast dodge-like movements. James could still read it like a book however. He charged in for another attack. The robot moved in to side step, but James did the same thing and caught it straight on. The robot had managed to get its sword out properly and still managed to deflect the attack perfectly. It pushed James backwards, and started doing a series of quick and skillful moves. At first James was comfortably engaging him. He couldn't find an opening so he kept parrying the blows. It started to become such that James couldn't keep up though, the robot was actually beating him. He needed to do something fast because this could get out of control for him.
James crouched his feet, then sprung forward in a twist-like motion. The robot's sword went straight at him, but James was ready for this and knocked it to the side. He was now between the robot and its blade. Quick as a flash he struck his sword out, and chopped off the robot's arm.
"Deactivate." The robot stopped moving. He got his laptop out and downloaded the changed state it had learnt during the battle. "Okay, can you run a simulation of the battle, and think of any improvements you can since make."
The Crystal Kingdom was the most prosperous it had ever been. It had literally conquered the entire world under Rayid's rule. He had convinced many of the opposing nations to simply surrender to him, so a lot of their land was still in good condition, and he had less bitter relations with many of the countries he had conquered. He had taken his local peasantry magic recruitment to all around the world. The amount of new students went from eighty to over six hundred. The current mages would be very busy teaching them. He also made sure that they learnt spells that would help the peasantry, such as blessing their fields with better crops and other spells like that.
He had also been personally interested in the technology thing he had beaten, and understood there was many potential for it to replace magic without the requirement that a mage use it. He had already seen machines that would spray water everywhere, hugely simplifying a farmer's work. However this avenue of interest hadn't been fully explored yet. The only thing he had really done was add some of the weapons to his military might.
Many of his military was now from all over the world, and they all had magically enhanced guns, swords and tunics. The only thing missing was a place to conquer. But Rayid already had a place in mind. That place was James' world.
"You want to conquer another world? We don't know what could be on the other side." Elder Lumni was sceptical, as he was with most of Rayid's plans.
"Elder Lumni. You always challenge my plans, haven't I proven myself to you again and again. Under my rule the Crystal Kingdom has become the most prosperous kingdom of all time. It encompasses the entire world. Why not make it cover two worlds, or even twenty worlds."
"Just because your decisions have worked so far doesn't mean I should follow you blindly. This is stupid, the reason we were able to beat everyone here is because we already knew what they were like. We would need to do reconnaissance in the other worlds before we could even think about invading any of them. And who knows how dangerous that could be."
"But we already know this place. I've been there once before."
"You want to go there!? Are you not worried that he will be there. I would not tempt fate if I were you."
"You worry too much. You said it yourself, the reason he was a threat to me, was because you were going to expel me for what I did to him."
"He seemed pretty powerful to me. He stopped all of your original attacks without any knowledge of magic. If we invade his world, who knows how much he could learn."
Rayid frowned at this. "Actually. He kind of already learned something, or had at least started to when I last left him."
"Had started to? This was what? Like four years ago now? Geez he's probably learned everything he needs to defeat you now. You're treading on thin water here boy."
"No. This will be my time to defeat him once and for all. We should have killed him back then when we had the chance, but you wouldn't let me. We'll invade this world, and we'll win. Our military prowess is far stronger than theirs. If he really turns out to be too powerful, then I will have you all supply me with the power I need, I'll even take everything from the crystal if I need to."
"You would drain the crystal for your stupid games. That is the essence of our kingdom, it would be a mistake."
"Hardly, we barely even use the crystal, we're too worried about draining it. This kingdom's current power was built up from our own power. If you have a super powerful crystal, but you're too afraid to use it, then you're no better off without it than you are with it."
Rayid left him at that, and begun drawing up plans for transporting mass amounts of soldiers to another world.
James was travelling to the local university when it began. The sky turned a dark grey, and lightning was forking to the earth everywhere throughout the city. There were loud explosions, and screams from way off. Curious, James cast his mind to the direction of the commotion.
It was about five kilometres away. There was a large crowd of about a hundred men, wielding swords and guns. They were a tightly knit group, and obviously knew what they were doing from extensive training and experience. Some of them were throwing large fireballs from their hands at distant buildings. Flying above them all, covered in lightning, was a face he recognised. Rayid, the strange man who had attacked him all those years ago. This wasn't a good sign. James wasn't entirely sure what they were trying to do, but it wasn't very good.
He made a small portal inside his bag to his lab, and pulled out his nanite enhanced sword and gun. The gun was technically just a pistol, but he could still hit them at this range. He quickly twisted his gun towards them and fired the entire round.
The bullets tore through the buildings blocking their path. A quarter of the infantry were killed instantaneously, and the majority were winded. One of the bullets went straight through Rayid's head. But Rayid dissolved.
"Shit!" Rayid said from below. It was a good thing he had just made an illusion there, because those weren't any ordinary bullets for sure. He pulled out his sword, covered it in lightning, and blasted his way in the direction of the gun fire.
James saw him coming. He had been tricked by the illusion, but he would be ready for this attack. Rayid swung his blade at James, but he skillfully parried. His sword sliced off the end of Rayid's.
"I figured you would be here, that's why I accompanied this group of infantry instead of some of the others." Rayid was stalling him with words.
James decided to play along. "The others? How many more did you send over?"
"This is a full scale invasion, there are hundreds of thousands of these regiments all over the entire world." Rayid flicked his fingers quickly, the sword rejoined together in one quick motion. James closed in and aimed his sword at him. Rayid parried it, and this time his sword didn't get sliced up.
"Those are some nice weapons you have there. Not even magic are they? Very interesting."
Rayid called forth multi coloured lightning all over his body. It rippled wildly and resonated at different colours. In retaliation, James amplified his movements with wind magic. They traded blows like this, but it was obvious that Rayid's ability was more useful.
"What is that?" asked James, genuinely curious.
"I use lightning, to send electrical signals along my nervous system, gives me instantaneous reflexes. I'm not as fast as your wind magic, but I can react much faster."
"Doesn't that hurt? Like a lot?"
Rayid's face showed no emotion. "You would have to try it to believe. Be thankful I will be killing you here now so you will never have to try it."
James could see Rayid adding the speed of wind magic into the mix. Definitely not good. He barely made it out alive of their next encounter. The flurry of blows was instantaneous. It was before James had even decided which move to use that Rayid was already in a stance to counter it. Feeling out powered, James called forth a small portal, and let himself be sucked into it.
James had travelled back to his lab. It was underground, so he hoped that meant Rayid wouldn't find it straight away. He went to his computer, and executed a command to his artificial intelligence. The command was propagated over the internet to the various servers where the intelligence was residing. Once James was confident that the command was being set into motion, he called fire out of his hands and destroyed everything in the lab. The remains of the robot he had made were turned into a molten pile of metal alloy. This world had gone to the shit, he would have to leave it for several years before he could come back. Perhaps there was things in other worlds that would help him learn. He opened a rift between this world and another, chosen totally at random, and stepped through.
"Shit, he got away." Rayid couldn't trace were James had disappeared to. That was a totally new use of magic he'd never seen before. He headed back to the rest of his infantry.
"How's the unit holding up lieutenant?"
"That first barrage we felt took out the majority of our force, however this was a larger unit than most. Due to the perceived danger that could be found here. The rest of our men are holding out well, we should own the town by night fall."
"Did you get the son of a bitch who did this to our men?"
"That's a negative. Sorry lieutenant, I was beating him in a fight, but he pulled off some move I've never seen before in escape. Interesting fellow, but I would've preferred him to be dead."
The lieutenant nodded. Over the street, a large collection of this world's soldiers had shown up. A tank with a loud speaker went up first.
"Lower your weapons. If you do not lower your weapons, we will have to open fire."
Rayid did the opposite, he brandished his sword straight at the tank. A long arc of lightning flew out and struck the tank, which exploded immediately. The opposing soldiers looked quite uneased by this.
"Fire!" many of them yelled in unison. What followed could probably be best described by the word slaughter. The bullets bounced right off the protective barriers around James' men. James' men then fired back, and decimated the remaining troops.
"I believe it is you who should lowering your weapons. My name is Rayid, I am the ruler of the Crystal Kingdom. We are here to conquer your land. Surrender and you will be spared. I will give you five minutes to discuss this amongst your men."
After a huddle, one of the soldiers came up to Rayid and his unit. He was obviously fighting his fear to get this far.
"Er.. I'm sorry mister.. er.. wh-what was your name again?"
"Y-yes. I'm sorry-ry mister Ray-yeed. B-but we soldiers don't ac-actually have the authority to su-surren-render to you." With that he cowered backwards, afraid of getting attacked in anger. Rayid however, just laughed.
"Yeah I would suspect as much. Very well, if you won't fight us, we will conquer this area ourselves. You can pretend to be prisoners of war until we coerce a surrender out of whoever your authorities are. Move out men!"
Rayid's unit moved efficiently, binding up all of the soldiers.
James appeared in what looked like the largest forest he'd ever seen, planted on the largest swamp he'd ever seen. The trees above were so numerous that it looked dark, although he could sense it was truly day above. Their branches were long, and coiled like snaked around each other. The ground was muddy, and stank of death. He couldn't see any corpses around, but the smell was truly overpowering him. He used some magic to get an intuition of a good way to go. A small orb appeared out of his palm, and started pulling off towards James' left. It faded in a few seconds, which was alright by him. James had developed a keen sense of direction, and could head in a general direction in even the most windy of mazes.
It was only twenty minutes or so before he saw a speck of light in the distance. He started to run after it, making quite a loud noise in the process. A few hundred metres later and he saw it was a camp fire in a small clearing. It was surrounded by many armed men, who were startled by his loud running. He burst out of the forest into the clearing, and many of them started to attack him instinctively. They stopped only a few meters before hitting him. They seemed relieved to see who he was.
Once he was inside the clearing, he got his first glimpse of the sky. It was a deep red colour, and was textured like that of human flesh. Small tendrils of blood were pulsing along it. It looked alive and menacing.
One of the older looking people in the clearing spoke to him. It was a strange guttural language, and James had no idea what they were saying. James decided to speak some english back to them so they would understand he was a foreigner.
"Hello, my name is James." He said slowly, pointing at himself while saying his name. "I got lost, and I was wondering if I could join you."
The people looked at him suspiciously. They huddled together and spoke to each other in strong guttural tones. After a while, the same person who talked to him originally, beckoned him over with a hand gesture, and pointed to an oddly designed sleeping bag.
James awoke to a large screaming sound. One of the strange men pulled him out of his sleeping bag wildly. Running rapidly through the forest was some kind of demon. It was heading straight towards their camp, setting afire the wood that it passed. It was a strange shaped creature. Its flesh stuck out like large pudgy pieces of fat, although they moved together like muscle. The overall shape was something like a tall pyramid, and there were several mouths going up and down the body.
The men were all armed, so James pulled out his sword as well. He got ready to face the demon, but most of them were preparing to leave. As the James struck the camp, he was aware that he was the only one left. There were some loud guttural screams, which from James' now vague understanding of the language, were telling him to follow them. Instead he sliced the creature with his sword, starting at the top and slicing it in half down to the bottom.. Acid blasted out of the wound, some of it hit James and burned his skin, but his sword was unaffected. The demon let out a loud scream that echoed right through James' soul, and disappeared into a blue wisp towards the sky.
The guttural men look dumb-struck. They had seen the demons die before, but never to one lone man. They let loose a loud cheer. James was finally getting the hang of their language, so tried some speaking to them.
“I think I understand your language now. Hello, my name is James.”
“James. James the Demon Slayer. It is doubtful all of would have survived that attack, you saved many of our lives.”
“Heh, I was just seeing whether I could fight it. I've never seen one of those before.”
“You've never seen a demon before? How is that possible? Do you live under a rock?”
“Haha no. This is kind of hard to explain, but I come from a different land.”
“This land you come from. It doesn't have the demons?”
“No. We fight amongst ourselves instead.”
The men were aghast at the thought of this. The demons had provided a unified goal so difficult to beat that there was no room for fighting amongst humans. In fact once they had a war and the demons nearly killed both sides while they were fighting. Trying ti change the direction of the conversation, one of them spoke to James.
“We are heading back to the capital. It has a large fortress and many men. We should be safe there. Will you accompany us on our journey.”
“Sure. You have been most hospitable to me so far.” James had been reading their minds, and his understanding of their speech was getting more and more eloquent. He was also able to gleam the history of their world. Apparently that demon he had killed was only one of the weaker ones. Perhaps he would be able to find a good training ground in this world.
Their journey to the capital was mostly uneventful. They encountered a few more of that same demon type, and James killed them with increasing ease. Several days later, the thick swamp-like forest cleared, showing a towering structure made out of black stone.
“This is our capital. The pride of our kind, the only thing that has held out against the demons over the ages.” James had already seen it in all of their memories, but it was still an impressive structure. Its sides were jagged, and could possibly even be climbed like a cliff. At various places were small caves, which possibly would lead into the inside, giving room for the archers to shoot at the demons below.”
A loud screech pierced the night. It literally shook the entire party of travellers back, and the earth crumpled beneath them under its weight. James was the only one left standing.
“Oh shit, its an Angorhyydon.”
James had cast his eye out. “No. Not one, but seven.” His understanding was that these were one of the tougher demons, and seven of them could be absolutely devastating. They were large winged demons. Flying in the air with light elegant bodies. They could shoot large pockets of acid down to the earth below. And their screams sent shock waves that could bend the earth.
The door to the fortress was blocked. The inhabitants didn't want to risk having the demons fly inside. They were stuck outside with these menaces. James pulled out his gun. He only had six rounds left, so there was no way he could kill all of them with it. It should at least help though, he lined up the first bullet, and shot. The bullet went right through the closest demon's head. It fell to the ground, but midway through disintegrated into a wisp that flew into the red sky. He fired another four shots, all perfectly making their mark with the same result. As he was firing the last bullet, another scream pierced through the night, and knocked his arm slightly just as he pulled the trigger. Even so he only just missed the demon. This meant there were two demons left who he was going to have to fight with a sword, having no means of reaching them.
The travellers were looking at him with wonder yet again. They had seen him make six loud bangs, and saw five wisps go into the sky. The two demons flew into view. James ran to the fortress and started scaling the walls. He climbed quickly and efficiently, but it was difficult as the Angorhyydons were screaming harassment at him, and their acid was dissolving parts of the wall he was trying to climb. He didn't have to use magic yet however. The tiny molecules inside of his sword could be charged with magnetic energy. This meant, when they grinded around against each other. The million little chainsaws would generate static electricity along the blade. A lot of static electricity. It didn't take much guidance at all for James to direct that at a target. In a matter of seconds the sword was already bursting everywhere. James had to use it quickly or it would all arc to the nearest target on its own. Not a good thing, since the nearest target was himself.
The lightning zigzagged to the furthest of the two flying demons. It let out a loud scream in all directions that even knocked the other demon several meters. It disintegrated into another wisp of ether, which flew into the sky. From these six deaths, a small speck of blue had appeared in the sky. The other demon was very close to James now. The blast of the previous shock wave had moved it into a very close range. James cancelled the magnetic charge on his sword, and jumped at the last demon. He didn't make a perfect hit, but he managed to slice off one of its wings. They both fell together towards the ground, James on top of the demon. The fall was slowed down slightly by the flapping of the remaining wing. James managed to remain on top during when they hit the ground. He took nearly no damage, due to the slowing of the fall, and the demon taking most of it. However they were both still alive. With a deft strike of his blade, he killed the demon right there.
It disintegrated beneath him, and the wisp of ether went through him on his way up to the sky. The feeling was disgusting. It was like having slime going through your veins and arteries. He had to throw up right after it happened. The travellers gave him a loud cheer.
“That was amazing. I thought we were going to die for sure, just from one of those things. But you single-handedly took down seven of them. What was that lightning attack? I've never seen anything like it.”
“Its kind of complicated to explain, perhaps we should go inside first?”
A large section of the black rock opened up in front of them. It was mostly impossible to tell that a door was there before, but now several armed men came out to greet them. They were wearing some sort of strange breathing mask. They surrounded the travelling group.
“Don't move.” One of them said. The voice was raspy through the mask.
“What is the meaning of this?” one of the travellers replied.
There was no response. Something smelt funny though. James felt very drowsy, and collapsed alongside all of the travellers with him.
James awoke to the roar of a crowd. He was lying down in sand, which had gotten into his mouth and all over his hair. Everything in front of him was blurry, and he had a large head ache. He pulsed some magic throughout his body, performing a detox. Everything was clear now. He was in some sort of round colosseum. The crowd was shouting out some very mean things about him. His sword was gone, but next to him was another less sophisticated sword, and a basic shield. He was wearing some sort of leather armour, rather than his original clothes from home. This doesn't bode well he thought. He picked up the sword and the shield, wondering what he would need them for.
There were two entrances to this colosseum, one behind him and one in front. They were both closed, and obviously locked. James cast his mind behind the doors. In the door behind him, was some sort of jail. There was a locked chest where all his possessions had been placed, and chests for some of the other residents as well. Behind the other door, was a very large demon. It had several heads, and three large disfigured looking legs in odd places. Its skin was a slimy grey looking colour. Its entire body seemed to have some an armoured plating, which looked of the same stone the fortress itself was made out of. Its tail was thick and covered in spikes at the end. One of its arms had a claw with sharp talon-like fingers. The other arm had a long flat piece of the same black rock with very sharp edges, protruding out like a blade.
This demon would be weaker than the Angorhyydons, but not by a lot. Since he also didn't have his sword with him, it could prove to be more difficult to beat. He tried to remember how he had gotten in to this mess. After he had defeated the Angorhyydons, those men had came out, wearing breath masks. He had then gotten drowsy, and only awoken now. He searched for any traces of the gas in his whereabouts, and found it was quite a simple molecule. He could even possibly synthesize it himself out of magic. He added an immunity to it into his body, and sat waiting for the fight ahead.
The strange demon on the other side of the door in front of James was called a Episluncurac. They had managed to catch it in the wild, and used it as a punishment for any large criminals. James wasn't technically a criminal, but they believed he was a demon in disguise. They believed that wherever or whoever the demons were coming from, they had somehow figured out how to infuse a demon's essence into a human. And therefore, James had been ordered to kill a few lesser demons, so he could get inside and kill everyone. He was obviously still a human, as the gas they subdued him with doesn't work on the demons. They were still prepared that he may be able to defeat this demon here though, which would be further proof of the demon inside of him. They would then have to subdue him yet again, and possibly kill him.
It surprised them that James was so fully conscious and responsive already. However they attributed that to the demon infused inside of him. They made a note to use a larger dosage of gas next time, and released the Episluncurac to fight him.
As soon as the door was open, the demon raced out of it. It was the same as ever however, the freedom was only to a short extra area, with one puny man for him to feast on. It was still better than being trapped in the dank dark area where it had come from. The demon flung out its claw at James. He managed to block it with his shield, but the impact was still too strong. He was knocked back several metres, and the shield itself was strongly cracked in several places. Almost immediately after he had fallen over, the bladed arm came toppling down towards him. He rolled to the right, dodging the attack. The demon's arm went pretty deep into the ground, and was having a short period of struggle trying to get it back out. James picked his sword back up and stabbed into the place where the flesh met the blade. The demon screamed loudly and flung his claw at James again.
James didn't quite have enough time to fully dodge, but he was able to use his shield to help him dodge. He dodged downwards, with the shield knocking the claw upwards, preventing any large impact. He moved in closer to the demon itself, and thrust his blade into a crack between the plating in its chest area. It screamed yet again, and managed to catch James off guard with a kick from one of its legs. James staggered back a metre or so, his sword still stuck in the demon's chest. He jumped backwards to dodge the demon's next claw attack. Its blade was still stuck in the ground, although it wouldn't be for long. It gave James enough time to cast a quick repair spell on his shield. He also hardened it, and made the edges sharp. He embedded a sharpness spell to the edge of the shield. Hopefully this will be able cut all the way through it now. He threw it, spinning, straight into the demon. The result was more spectacular than James had predicted. As the shield spun like a disc into the demon, it not only sliced the area it touched. The area around the edge of the shield was rapidly slicing into a million pieces. Therefore the demon burst apart as the shield hit it. James quickly dispelled the effect once it got past the demon, and the shield lodged itself into the wall on the other side.
This result was totally unexpected by the crowd, who burst into cheer. However the authorities had totally imagined this scenario. They leaked the unseen gas into the pit of the colosseum. What did surprise them, was James complete lack of reaction to its presence. James knew it was there of course, but he was now immune to its effects. Picking his sword up from the ground, he went and climbed onto his shield on the wall. He then stabbed the sword into the wall and climbed onto that. This gave him enough height to climb over the wall, into the spectator stands. The crowd was cheering even louder at this, until arrows flew their way at James. James released a timed pulse of kinetic energy which everything backwards, arrows and people included. He released a large amount of the invisible gas over the entire colosseum. Everyone fell asleep. He next found someone of a similar build to himself, and exchanged his clothes for theirs. There weren't many, so he didn't get to be very picky, but he thought what he had would be blend in with others relatively well. He exited down the stairs.
“Hey, how's the match going? I heard the demon screaming already. I didn't expect him to be out so soon.” It was the guard to the prison area. He obviously thought that James was a commoner
“Oh, the demon got its blade arm stuck in the ground, and the fighter is just stalling.”
“Oh, that's not very sportsman like of him. Criminals these days have no sense of honour. You leaving already?”
“Actually I wanted to get past you into the prison area.”
The guard suddenly stood to attention. “I am sorry sir! The cells are off limits to all civilians and unauthorised personnel.” The saying had been drilled in to the guy so much he probably was barely even aware what he was exactly saying.
“That's alright. I don't need your permission.” The guard was taken aback by this, but before he could react, James had already released some of the noxious gas into the air. He fell to the ground asleep. At least this world has taught me something useful so far. He walked into the cell area, intending to get his gear back, and find out why he was put into that colosseum like that. The chest containing his gear was in the office of the guard captain. This made it a perfect place to find both.
The guard captain wasn't happy to see him. “You!? What are you doing here. You're supposed to be fighting that demon.”
“I already beat him. Now I'm coming to collect my gear, and ask you a few questions.”
“But if you won, you were supposed to be re-toxicated. Why are you here?”
“I'm here to get my gear back, and ask you a few questions, like I already said. The gas doesn't work on me any more by the way.” The captain was speechless. “Good. First question, and you'd better answer it. Why did they put me in that fight with that demon. I could have died.”
“Y-you demon! How does the gas not affect you? Only demons are immune to it.”
“Demon. You seriously think I'm a demon don't you. Have you always thought that? Or just since I said that.”
“Well I wasn't sure before, but you definitely must be now. There's no denying it.”
James sighed. This explained a lot. He released some more of the gas, knocking the captain out. The key to his chest was on the captain's key ring. He collected his goods, and left. This world had not been particularly hospitable, so he decided to move on to another.
When James changed worlds. He could choose which world to go to, but he didn't have control of where he landed in that world. It came out as quite bad luck that he appeared out of nowhere on a stage. A play was obviously going on, the audience laughed at his entrance. The actress on the stage gave him a glare, but continued acting, to try and ease the moment.
Her words were quick and high pitched. He couldn't understand them yet, but read their meaning from her mind. “Oh, a hero has come to say me. Or is he a villain disguised as one? Young man, tell me your name.”
James was able to figure out a small part of the language, which helped him with this line. “My name is James.”
James was able to understand parts of her next dialogue, but he still had to read her mind to get the whole jist of it. “Well then James, an evil man has killed my father, the king. He is trying to force me to marry him, so he can take the throne. What can you do to save me?”
The next line he wanted to say was complicated, so he had to do some comical manoeuvres to stall some time. He tried to pull out his sword, but instead acted that he had accidentally pulled out his belt. As his pants fell, he stumbled forward, then pulled out his sword, and held it into the air.
“A pretty princess like you milady? I would gladly marry you myself if it was to protect the kingdom.” The audience laughed at the sheer audacity of the claim.
The actress was flustered by this, it took her a moment to come up with a line to counter it. “I would not trade one buffoon for another. If you can not seriously help me, then begone!” This was a hint for him to leave the stage, which James took.
“I bid you farewell then my lady.” He made a bow, but acted that he fell over instead, right into the girl.
“Ugh.. Get off of me! You're disgusting!”
“I'm so sorry,” he said, pretending to be embarrassed. He ran off the stage quickly. The play then proceeded the way it was going before he arrived. The director came up to him, seething with rage. He was a small fat man, wearing a suit that was slightly too tight for him, as if he was trying to pretend he wasn't as round as he actually was. His head had no hair, and his chin wobbled furiously as he talked.
“How dare you teleport into the middle of my stage like that? You nearly ruined my play there. I have a good mind to report your act as a violation of magic to the mages guild. And don't think for a second I'm going to let your little stunt give you an edge into the world of acting. Even if your overall result was good.”
“I'm so sorry. My spell backfired, I ended up going somewhere I didn't want to be.” James lied.
“Like hell it did. Why would you appear dressed like that if you didn't want to pretend to be a hero in my play. That's it. I'm not letting you get away with this. I was going to let you go, but your lame excuse has just cost you. I'm reporting you to the mages guild.” He then turned around to one of his assistants. “Where the hell is our magic liaison. I have some punk to report.”
“Er.. I'll get him right away sir!”
The next few seconds on their own were awkward. James decided to try saying something to ease the tension. “So, are these plays popular or something?”
“I'm getting tired of your attitude. You think you can waltz into my bloody play and then start lying about shit. Of course my bloody play is popular. This is the play to watch at the moment.”
“Oh, ok. What about that girl I acted with. It was quite clever how she managed to keep the play going when I arrived. I was a bit dumbstruck about what to do.”
“Seriously. Just shut your god damned mouth. She's the best in the industry. So many guys would give everything they have just to spend five minutes with her, and you fucking go and take it. I'm going to make sure the mage guild gets you good. You just wait and see.” The magic liaison showed up. “Ah. Its about bloody time you showed up. Where the hell have you been?” The man glared at him for this remark. “Er.. I'm sorry. I mean, thank you for showing up for my request. I have a man I'd like to report to you.”
“Yes. So I have heard. Is this the man here then?” he said, indicating at James.
“Y-yes. That's him. He teleported onto our sta-” He stopped when the magic liaison held up his hand.
“I saw what happened. Very well I will start this investigation.”
“Make sure you get him good. This guy was totally abusing his powers.”
“That is for us to decide, not you. Now I will be taking this man to the side to interview him personally. Could we please have a bit of privacy?”
“Yes sir.” He turned to his assistants. “You heard the man, move!”
James and the magic liaison were alone now. He was a thin man, probably in his early thirties. He had a thick but short black beard, and wore a long plain red robe. Overall he looked very unimpressive, but the director's reaction to him seemed to suggest he held a lot of power in this world.
“Okay then. Name?”
“Magic license number?”
“Your magic license number. I need to know it for the investigation.”
“What's a magic license number?”
“If you had one, you'd know. Okay this is more serious than I thought. Using magic in public without a license is a class A offence.” He pulled a scroll out his robe, unrolled it and threw it onto the floor. It went up in flames, a large vivid green fire. When the flames died out, there were several other men standing where the flame would have been.
“You called about a class A offence?” one of them said.
“This man has been participating in the use of magic without a magic license.”
“Okay, we'll take care of this from here.” He moved to James. “Sir, the use of magic without a license is considered a class A offence. We will have to take you into the station for questioning. Do not use any magic or we will have to respond with force. Anything you say now may or may not be used against you. Do you understand?”
“Yes. I have a few questions though. Can I ask them now?”
“They will have to wait until we get to the station. Are you ready to go there?”
They room they were in started to swirl, the various stage sets and props disappearing, to be replaced with desks and paperwork.
“Alright, can you please enter this room?” The man said, gesturing towards a door he was opening. James entered without saying anything. “Take a seat.” James sat down in the seat. “Okay good. Now we will have to have you hold this orb here. It is a lie detector, if you say something false, it will go red, if you say something correct it will go green. If you're not making a statement, it stays the white colour it is now. Understand?”
“Yes.” The orb went green.
“Good. Alright, so you teleported onto the stage of the country's most popular stage, and then proceeded to interact with the country's most popular female actress. Not only this, but you did it without a magical license. Why did you do this?”
“To be honest, I had no idea about any of this magical license stuff, or even that this was a popular play. I appeared there by accident.” The orb was green, with a tiny streak of red.
“Okay, the orb says that its true, but you're withholding important information. Spill it.”
James sighed. “This is pretty clever magic, I'd love to be able to learn how all of your stuff worked.”
“Okay, okay! Yes I didn't mean to appear there, it was an accident. The spell didn't misfire though. I came here from another world. I couldn't control where I ended up, and it was just bad luck that I entered there.” The orb was pure green.
“Another world? That's pretty out there stuff, but the orb agrees with you. That doesn't mean what you're saying is true, its just that you fully believe what you're saying. You managed to teleport onto your own into that stage, we did a search we couldn't trace where you came from. You're obviously a skilled magician. Perhaps you're fooling the lie detector.” The man sat there, thoughtful for a moment. “Alright, answer me this. If you came from another world, they wouldn't speak our language. How are you able to speak like this?”
“I read the girl's mind on the stage. I was able to learn the language from her thoughts.”
“Mind reading? No way, I know for a fact that can't be done without extreme preparation. Its one of the fields we research here to help with our investigations. Screw this orb.” He tossed it to the side where it shattered. “Tell me the truth, I'll judge whether its correct or not.”
James sighed, there was only one way to prove this to the man. Hello? Can you hear me in there. This is me talking through your mind, and I can hear what you say. The man went white. How are you doing this to me? He asked. Like I told you, its mind reading, I can also put thoughts in your head. I'm surprised you guys find it so hard to be honest, it was the first spell I ever saw.
“Ugh.. Get out of my head!” James complied. “Hmm, how do I know you're not still in there?”
“You probably won't, you'll just have to take my word. However it seems obvious that we both know things about magic that the others don't. Perhaps you could grant me an honourary magic licence, and we could exchange knowledge.”
“Look. It's not that simple. Lets suppose you didn't know the law. Part of the law itself states that ignorance is not an excuse for breaking it.”
“Could an exception not be made? I mean if I were to withhold with information from you, you would all be missing out.”
“Let me call a supervisor. You may have to show him some of the magic you know as well. Try something other than the mind trick.”
He left the room before James could protest. But I don't know which magic you guys don't know. The man came back with another person. A woman of about forty years. She had long black hair, scruffy and unwashed. Her grey eyes were hidden behind a pair of glasses, sitting on top of her small nose.
“Your name was James was it? Strange name. I'm Leryuna – head of the imperial enforcement agency for regulation of magic. Pornin here says you claim to be from another world, and know some magic we only dream of having.”
“Yeah, that's correct. He also said if I want to demonstrate it, I should avoid using the mind tricks, because it freaks people out. The problem is, I don't know which spells other than the mind tricks will impress you. Perhaps you could show me some spells which indicate what you guys know, and I can try something else.”
“Well even mind reading isn't something we can't do. We just can't do it fast like Pornin claims you can do. Take this for example.” She closed her eyes, concentrating. She held out her hand, and a small ball of fire appeared in it. She was still quivering while trying to hold it. “This is an advanced spell that most people can't do.” She let go, and the ball of fire disappeared. She instantly looked a lot better.
“I can do that” said James.
“Yeah, well so can I. That only proves your a good mage, not that you're from another world that knows far better magic than we do.”
“Actually, in my world no one knows magic. Someone from another world came to attack me personally, and he showed me some. Since then I learnt it myself with no guidance.”
“No one knows magic? You learnt it on your own? Those are some pretty big claims.”
James held his arm into the air. He pulled waves of fire out of his hands, wreathed itself over his entire body, not quite touching him, but showing an impressive display of fire.
“Dear me. That's amazing.”
“Its not even hard for me. So can I get that magic license yet?”
“I don't know. I suppose we could give you a provisional license. With abilities like those, you're very dangerous, so we wouldn't want to give you unrestricted use of your abilities.”
James let the fire disappear. “Okay, what if I can use my magic within your library? I want to read all your literature and learn all the new magic. Being strictly self taught with no guidance, there is much I could do with help from.”
“Um.. Okay, I'll get someone to organise it. We'll have to get permission from the King however, you are quite the liability.”
“Yeah. I'm sorry about that.”
“Don't be. This could really help us out.” She gave him a very warm smile.
James was finding the library in this world amazing. For two reasons: The amazing effects they had learned to produce, and the sheer amount of noise that wasted energy in their spells. Not a single book had shown using magic his way. And he had found that their spells would slip the important part of the pattern into millions of recursions of nothing. Once he was able to isolate the important part of the spell, he could do the same thing so much more efficiently.
He had been able to show other mages how to cast the spells more efficiently, but had yet to find anyone who could understand his explanation of how to learn it themselves. He had gotten back on good terms with the director of that play. Once he was out of such an awkward situation, he could actually use his social skills to get on the directors good side. Even the actress was warming up to him. He had also been getting along well with the king. The king had first just viewed him as some new magician who was helping out his mages guild. Not something he cared that much about. But James was convincing him on certain ways to run his country. A behind the scenes political advisor.
This world was slowly becoming a wealthier place. The weeks of giving advice to the king turned to months, and he had become the King's official advisor. Every decision the King made was really James'. He had unprecedented popularity because of it, and the kingdom had unprecedented wealth.
The kingdom had bested all its adversaries in a way similar to that of the Crystal Kingdom. He made the mages and military synergise. So the mages were enchanting the swords and armour of the infantry. They had taken over the entire world, but did it with minimum damage to their infrastructure. This meant they were able to keep the world just as strong as before, and with such a benevolent rule, everyone began to like them. Some countries surrendered before they were even considering invading them, just to get the economic benefits their country offered.
“James. My kingdom had gained such power over the years. The people love me. I look over how this happened all in months, and I realise I had you to thank.” James smirked at this, thank you captain obvious. “I would like to promote you to the position of duke, due to your loyalty to my kingdom.” James bowed.
“I would be honoured to accept this position from you, my lord.”
“Excellent. We will have to a banquet to celebrate.”
The banquet was huge. James only vaguely recognised most of the people, although he somehow knew all of their names anyway. His new title, and given land, was the hit news of this world. It was funny how he had always spent his life in secret in the past, but now he was letting everyone know of his abilities, and it was working out perfectly well. Perhaps this had been what he was saving up for. James realised something though, he was still letting the King take credit for his work. A Duke was pathetic compared to the work he put in, the results he came up with. It was on that day he put forth a plan that would make him replace this dim witted king.
He went on to the stage. Some people saw his cue, and yelled out “Speech!”. Soon the whole crowd was following. James cleared his throat loudly, trying to signal that he was ready to speak. The crowd quietened.
“Ladies. Gentlemen. Thank you all for attending this banquet tonight in my honour. Its only over the past few months that I have gotten to know you, but I feel they are some of the most cherished months of my life.” The crowd applauded. “No really. It pleases me that the king feels my work is work rewarding in such a prolific way. However I have decided tonight, that I will be handing in my resignation.” He gave it a few seconds to sink in.
“What!?” Bellowed the King. “You can't leave!”
“I am a duke now, and that satisfies me enough.”
“I will strip you of your title of duke if you leave me. Like hell I'm going to let a reward for your loyalty stay if you abandon me.”
“If that is what it takes, so be it.”
The king looked absolutely shocked. His face had gone white. The rest of the crowd was silent. Nobody knew what to say.
“Guards. Arrest him!” The king was screaming. Nobody had seen him look so undignified before.
Several mages appeared, knowing that traditional guards would be no match for James. James knew that these mages had all learned many of the spells he had remastered, and could prove a tough match, especially against so many. It didn't matter of course, it was within his plan to be captured. He gave himself up, and he was teleported to the imperial enforcement agency. He was locked in a cell, designed to remove any use of magic. Minutes later the King entered the cell, anger drawn all over his face.
“How dare you embarrass me like that in public. I have half a mind to gave them execute you for that. However I realise how much I need you, so I'll make a compromise. Continue working for me, or you'll stay in this prison for the rest of your life.”
James laughed. “You don't get it do you? This isn't about loyalty. Those people out there in the world, they think they love you, but they don't. They love me! Without me you'd still just be some petty ruler. I realised last night, being a duke isn't enough. I do all of the work, so I am going to claim all of the glory. Just try and stop me.”
The king's face was dead white, he was terrified. “No! You can't do anything if you're not alive.”
“You really think you can kill me? Its not just in magic that I excel you know. Any guard who comes in here will be dead. You should count yourself lucky that I don't require your death to take your kingdom, because otherwise you'd be dead right now. Besides.” James held out an arm. “I can still cast magic in here anyway.” He let out a small puff of fire from his arm. The King ran out of the room.
The room prevented him from casting his own magic, but being surrounded by magic for so long, it had left its residue all over him. That small fireball had used a good quarter of it already, but he needed it for the bluff. In reality the spells he would be using would be far more subtle than that, and require a lot less magic because of it.
That didn't matter of course. For now he would just wait.
It was only two weeks before James enacted the next part of his plan. As he had expected, the King hadn't ordered for his death. From what he heard of the outside world, his paranoia was causing the country to rapidly deteriorate. It was about time to start the next phase of his plan. The anti-magic spell in the room was quite complicated, he had been using a small amount of the residue magic to study its pattern. Its complexity would be its own undoing. James only had to change a very small portion of the pattern to make it into complete garbage.
With each injunction he made, he could feel small parts of his own energy becoming accessible to him once again. He made a loud explosion noise, then turned invisible. After all of his magic studies, he had found many ways to turn invisible. The only one he had yet learned a detection spell for was the one he originally came up with. It was amazing in a way. When some of the guards came to check out the commotion, they saw an empty cell. They entered wondering where he could be, and he used that opportunity to exit. He locked the door behind him, and set up replicate illusions in front of the door. Hopefully he'd be undetected for a long time.
The world right outside of the imperial enforcement agency was bustling with activity. People were walking down the road several metres thick. On the edge of the road were hundreds of stalls, with various people going around looking through all of them. This could very well be a perfect place to start the rumours he wanted. Of course it would never work if he started them himself, so he planted the idea into the heads of the most gossip hungry people he could find. He sat himself down next to a snake charmer, here he could meditate without raising suspicion. He cast his mind over the entire world, rapidly evaluating each and every person. He put his idea into the minds of the most curious, and the most gossip fuelled people. He couldn't force them to spread his word, he just wanted them to research it first. He felt his actions would stand for themselves.
He was done with that in a few hours. He found a lodging to stay in, and paid the owner quite generously. It would likely rouse suspicion, but when the entire world was demanding his return, it would be good to have someone expose his location, rather than turn up on his own accord. When James woke up the next day, he could hear the protesting already happening on the street. People were praising him, saying he should be replace the King. It was exactly what he wanted.
He was eating breakfast when the owner of the lodging came up to him.
“Don't I know you from somewhere?”
“I don't think so. I probably just look like someone you know.”
“No, I'm sure I do. I think you're that guy some people on the streets are talking about. Didn't you abandon the King?”
“Please. Could we not talk about this? I left that life behind me.”
“Alright. Alright. Just seems to me this country needs you is all. Is a shame we can't work something out.”
“I had a proposition, but the King didn't like it. Its gonna take a lot more than those people out there to convince me to do all that again.”
“Fair enough. I guess. I don't really know. Would you like another drink?”
“Nah I'm alright. Its too early for alcohol anyway I reckon. I might go explore for a bit.”
“I feel bad taking all of this money from you without providing you a drink, come on.”
“Don't feel bad. I managed to earn a fair bit of money before I left that job. I have nothing else to spend it on.”
“Heh yeah. I would've thought the King would take all of that away when you quit. Would've thought he'd have put you in prison and everything really.”
James smiled. “He did. But the King is no longer in control of his own country any more.” With that statement James left.
Only several days later, and everyone in this world was talking about James. The protests outside the palace were gigantic, and even the palace guards were defecting.
“You know. Is this enough more people out there to convince you to help us yet again?”
“Maybe. But if I were to show up right now, it wouldn't have the right effect. I'd need someone to discover my whereabouts and accidentally let it loose on the crowd.” James winked with that remark. “I'd have to have them find me, rather than me find them.”
The owner of the lodgings nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose you want me to do it?”
“Maybe, but it'd be even more interesting if it was someone else. Since I've been here for a few days already, we'd need to make it out like you had no idea who it was that was staying at your lodge.”
“Geez. You've planned every part of this haven't you?”
James grinned wildly. “I deserve this position.”
“Yes. I guess you do. I'll see what I can organise eh?”
The owner went outside, and went up to an old woman who was preaching in James name. “This James fellow, what's he look like? Large build? skin whiter than anybody of this world?”
The preached stopped what she was doing. “You've seen him?”
“I think so. Maybe you should head over to the palace and tell everyone.”
The road to the palace was long, and the lady was showing her age. However she still ran with joy. Shouting that he has been found. Of course all the joy in the world can't suddenly make you fit enough to run a marathon. Luckily some other fitter preachers heard her, and she sent them to spread the word.
“We found.. we found.. him.. James.. must.. must.. alert.. everyone..at the.. palace..” She was puffing between every few syllables.
“Rest here miss. We'll get everyone at the palace.”
The old woman found a place at the side of the road to rest. She was really having trouble breathing. She collapsed onto the ground. As her last breath faded, she saw a white light.
“I didn't mean for anyone to get hurt like this from my plan.” James smiled.
The woman's breathing had returned. She got one glimpse of James in the bright light, before it disappeared and she was sitting down on the side of the road again.
Back at lodging, James said "that didn't go too well. That woman
you sent out almost died trying to pass on the message. In the end I
had to heal her, which could make things seem a bit over done. But
who knows. In our country, we had a sacred book called the bible. A
lot of this stuff is starting to sound a bit like it."
"Oh, so you planned it to be like the bible?"
"Not really, but going and healing a person before they die is making it feel cliche to me."
"Don't worry about it. Everyone out there loves you right now. If you get in your actions will be able to speak loudly enough to help."
"Hrmmm, I suppose you're right. Very well, now we just wait."
The follower who stopped the old lady had reached the crowd. He went up to a few people on the edge of the crowd. "Follow me! I know where he is."
"Buzz off! We're not going to fall for that again."
"No. Some old lady nearly died running here to get you all. She seemed so sure. Please we need to get back to her."
"Old lady? There's no old lady here. You're full of it."
The messenger sighed with frustration. "No, she was going to die from running so hard. I had to stop her and get you myself." The majority of them had turned back around to their protesting. One man off to the side a bit seemed intrigued.
"Have you seen him yourself?"
"No. I only have the old lady's word."
"Okay. Why do you believe her?"
"Well, I just don't think someone would risk their life so badly for attention like that."
"True. The problem is, the people here don't believe in the old lady to begin with. You see, you're not risking your life for attention, you're just asking for it."
"What do you want me to do then?" The messenger asked, slightly terrified.
"Nothing. I believe you. I doubt that it will be enough, but I think with my help we could organise a few more people to come see. You'd better not disappoint us though. You don't want to see what happened to the other guys who were trying to grab attention."
The messenger gulped. "I guess you could say that me taking you is risking my own life then."
The other man's face lit up. "Ooh, very good. Okay, I'll see what I can help you muster. Go ask some other people. We'll meet over by that fountain there in fifteen minutes. Okay?"
The messenger nodded.
The messenger was able to get a few more people, seven in total. The fountain was crowded though, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to find the other man here. After a bit of being confused, he finally found the other man there, but he looked alone.
"Did you not find anyone then?"
"What are you talking about boy? I got this entire crowd of people to follow us."
The messenger was stunned. "W-wow. I'm very grateful."
"Lead the way boy. We're waiting."
He lead them down the streets and passages back to where he met the old lady. She was still sitting there luckily.
"Oh thank goodness you're alive. I was worried, and slightly guilty about leaving you there. But I knew your message was more important to you than your life."
"He believed so as well. I was just uttering my last breath when I felt a warm light on me. I thought it was death, but it was him! I've never felt better in my entire life. All my bones have stopped aching, it's amazing."
"Really? That's wonderful."
The old lady peered at the crowd. They were looking a bit restless at finding the lady who was supposed to be nearly dead in such good condition. The story sounded just like an excuse. "Is this all you got then?" The old lady peered at the messenger.
"I'm sorry. It turns out a lot of people are trying to seize the moment by pretending they know where he is. Everyone here is doubtful. I sure hope you really do know where he is, because otherwise they'll want blood."
The old lady's face went white. "Well, I never actually saw him. Someone else just told me where he was. The owner of a lodging said he was staying there."
"What!? Oh man. I can't believe this. They're all going to kill us because you were so gullible."
"Quiet young man! Why would he have healed me if I was just telling a lie."
"Well, I guess you have me there."
The crowd was getting restless. The messenger could hear some nasty whispers circulating among them. "Alright! Lets get going. Lead the way old woman!" He shouted towards the crowd.
"My name's Bertha." She muttered.
The messenger smiled. "My name is Friehda. Nice to meet you."
When the crowd got to the lodging. Friehda and Bertha were both very anxious.
"This is the place." Bertha said. The crowd had gone silent. Friehda slowly and cautiously walked into the door. He peered inside. His face immediately lit up.
"It's him. It's really him!"
The crowd charged in after him. There wasn't enough room for all of them in there. Especially since most of them seemed to congregate in the door-way instead of moving further in to let the others get in.
"What do you want?" James demanded.
Someone from the crowd spoke up. "Sir. We believe you are the real reason for our country's recent prosperity. We are a movement that is growing very popular to have you the new ruler of these lands."
James knew this of course. "You say you're a popular movement. There is only two hundred or so of you here. You'd need far more than the majority of the country for that to ever happen."
"But more than the majority of the country does support you. They're just not here!"
"I'm sorry, but you'll need to find more people to convince me of that."
The crowd was bickering with frustration. Friehda found it humourous how every single one of them was claiming that they never doubted they would find him in this crowd. He had heard some of the earlier comments. They were so petty.
"If you all think so many would follow me. Go out, fetch more people."
The crowd realised this should be pretty easy. Such a large collection of people would be hard not to believe at the palace protests. "You there!" James said, pointing at Friehda. "I want you to stay. The old woman as well."
Friehda was a bit surprised. "What is it, M'lord?"
"None of that. I'm nobody's lord just yet. I'd probably prefer a better title than that anyway." James laughed deeply. "I'd just like to thank you for both being amongst the first few people to truly help with this part of my plan."
James grinned. "Yeah. This whole thing against the King was staged. I definitely deserve the post more than he does. You're all right, I did all the work and he took all the glory. But overall if I hadn't left the King people wouldn't have thought about that. I waited and fuelled the dissent. All I had to do was then organise a few people to find out where I really am. That would be you two."
"So you tricked us?" said Bertha.
"Technically yes, but I'm also going to reward you. You will both go down in history as being the second and the third knights of my order."
"Knights?" Bertha looked a bit stunned. "You know I'm an old lady right?"
"The word knight traditionally meant 'servant'. It got twisted into a station of battle, because the servants all ended up fighting for the rulers. I'm taking back to the traditional sense. Knight means servant. You will be my servants. Honourable servants of course. You won't actually have to go around doing things like making beds or any of that. Unless you want to for some odd reason. No, technically everyone who is under my rule is a servant of the kingdom. But the title of 'knight' will only go to the most honourable and esteemed of those servants."
"Wow" Friehda was slightly stunned. "This is a great honour you do us."
"You're welcome. I expect you not to tell anybody about my plan though. Do you understand?"
Bertha was a bit quicker on the uptake. "If you didn't want us to tell of your plan. Why didn't you just not tell us of it? We never suspected anything."
"Yeah." Friehda agreed once he realised.
"Because, if I didn't tell you my plan, then I wouldn't have been able to have rewarded you. It wouldn't have made any sense."
"You think we would've cared whether it made sense?"
"No, but I'm a logical man. I would hate to deprive others of that logic."
Friehda realised something. "You said we would be the second and the third knights. Who would the first be. You?"
James laughed. "That would be silly, making me my own servant. No." James spun around on his chair, until he was facing the owner of the lodgings. "That would be you."
The owner laughed. "Oh no you don't. I'm not having you pin any of this 'honourable' stuff on me."
"I don't see why not. You hid my location, served my every command. If every follower was more like you, there wouldn't be a need for a ruler like myself."
"I hid your location, and served your commands, because you were paying me a lot of money. When someone pays you a lot of money, it doesn't matter how famous or infamous they are. If you expose them to the world, they aren't going to be able to pay you any more money."
"The idea is, that under my rule, everyone will be earning that much more money already. We will be a very prosperous country, but I'm sure some people will still dissent, even after all the money I get them. Don't kid yourself short of your role in all of this. I will take nothing less than giving you the first knighting of my new kingdom."
The owner didn't really have anything else to say to this. It was about an hour before the word had spread enough for everyone to know of James' location. Everyone was waiting for him to speak, but when he did it was not a particularly inspiring speech.
"Alright. This is probably enough people. Shall we go then?"
The crowd erupted in a loud roar. They weren't really saying anything, but James assumed they were cheering the idea on. They walked towards the palace. Slowly but surely. There were still a few protesters at the palace, but when they saw him walking they all joined the ever increasing crowd that followed him.
He walked up to the entrance of the palace.
"I hereby claim this kingdom as my own!" He shouted out over to the whole crowd.
There were whispers of "Can he do that?" and many over things going over the crowd.
The King himself certainly didn't think he could. He burst out of the door. "You can't do that! Guards! Arrest him!"
James smirked. "Actually I can, a king is nothing without his followers, and so many kings seem to forget that. I have all of your followers, the few that remain aren't loyal enough to disobey my majority now either. See how no guards come to arrest me? Its because they obey me. Now, get out of my palace. I will make sure you get a profitable job like the rest of the people here. If you pull your weight there's no reason why you can't be influential either. I will not have you just sitting around doing nothing all day while you take the glory of others."
The crowd roared yet again.
"I also hereby, make these palace grounds publicly accessible to any and all who wish to visit them. This kingdom is heavily dependent on the public, so the public should be able to claim some of the glories. I also hereby claim this day 'Freedom day'. Every year it will be a public holiday with festivities for everyone." He felt that freedom day was very cheesy, but the crowd seemed to soak it all up.
Chapter 5 – Aggressive expansion.
After James had left, Rayid's attack had been swift and powerful. He had convinced most people to surrender to his might, and killed anyone who didn't. His interrogations had shown only one man who had learned of James' powers. He was a police officer, and had remained silent in the hope of learning magic himself. Rayid had decided to teach him those spells, train him personally to become a great warrior on the field of battle. He could prove useful by betraying James later on.
He was unaware of another development occurring at the same time. The AI that James had left behind was working on carrying out James' last order. It was a tough order, that would require a lot of preparation, and a lot of new knowledge would have to be acquired, but it could be done. It had continuously bought new server space, but now it was also buying physical goods. It bought several manufacturing factories, and started its own business. By remaining a private business, completely off the share market, it managed to mostly avoid any suspicion of the true identity of its higher staff. This was especially true due to the destruction caused by Rayid's invasion.
So while Rayid spent all of his time rebuilding the world he had invaded, a secret retaliation was being made. The AI had done some research into the physical properties of various molecules in the world, and with its new factories, was able to test whether these were being simulated correctly. It was then working on making a robot similar to James', but with a lighter material, and more battery life. The claiming of real world goods was possibly the hardest part to do. With the world working towards rebuilding, the raw materials it needed were a high demand commodity. Never the less, it had managed to build a large army of these new robots. They were being in hiding until the AI believed it had enough of these robots. It shouldn't need many, a thousand would probably be enough, but it would develop five thousands as a large contingency.
Today was the day that it made its five thousandth robot. So today was the day that it released its own order upon the world. It first sent out a hundred robots. They acted swiftly and decisively. The bullets pierced through any of the magical defences the crystal kingdom had enchanted on their soldiers. As did their swords. They were mostly sticking to bullets however. They had been stocked with plentiful ammunitions, and attacking from a distance was a lot safer. Especially since they were able to see through buildings, and aim with perfect accuracy over incredibly long distances. Many of the crystal kingdom's infantry units had no idea what was killing them. Right down to the very last man alive.
The AI had managed to hack into many government databases, and had identified the majority of the world's population. This meant it was particularly efficient in only eradicating the presence of the crystal kingdom, and nothing else. Some of the third world countries were worse off, because a lack of proper government infrastructure meant that many of the people were unidentified. The AI had dispatched more robots to those areas, because it was worried that in its caution they might get caught off guard.
Rayid was still in James' city when it happened. He hadn't even noticed straight away, as it was another unit that got targeted. However when messages from all over the world reached him, he was quick to act. He scanned the unit nearby, and was shocked to find it entirely dead. As he was searching for what caused it, his own unit was under attack. Luckily he hadn't been personally attacked first, because he was completely unaware it was coming. He was able to see where the attack was coming from. A metallic contraption with a sword in one hand and a gun in another. It was firing the gun rapidly at his unit, and the bullets seemed to be piercing through everything like butter.
Rayid sped up and charged towards the robot. He pulled his blade out and was charging lightning into it faster than he had ever done before. The robot was able to calculate his path and shoot a few bullets at him. The lightning crackled out on its own at anything near him however, and blasted into the bullets. Once it had been able to melt the nanites inside the bullets into something much simpler, their impact didn't have any affect on Rayid. He struck out at the robot. It parried with its blade, and sliced Rayid's blade right off. The lightning charged off the blade right through the robot, but it seemed to make it faster more than anything. It moved in quickly, not allowing Rayid any time to recover from his broken blade. Its moves were precise and deadly. Rayid had to charge his body with lightning, using it to override his nervous system. Without it, his reflexes would've been far too slow to dodge all of the attacks. Strikes of lightning would often charge out of Rayid at anything nearby, completely unintentionally. Often they would strike the robot, who would move even faster when it happened. A few of these managed to let him scrape Rayid's skin. Seeing how the battle was not going his way, Rayid swiftly moved towards the remains of his blade, picked it up, and flew into the air. The robot was on him the entire way. It seemed to be able to fly as well. With energy thrusters pushing it into the sky. Like Rayid however, it was less agile in the air than on the ground. It was a disadvantage they both had, but Rayid was hoping he could out-smart his opponent so he could take the advantage from it.
Rayid unfortunately was underestimating James' AI. Of course he didn't know it was an AI. He assumed there was a person inside there somewhere. He knew somewhat of technology, but had never heard of anything this advanced. The robot flung its blade at Rayid just as he managed to repair his own. He charged it with wind energy yet again, and managed to block just in time. The robot also had its gun however. While Rayid's sword was in use, it shot at him. The nanites in the bullets were half-melted by the time they got through his layer of lightning around his skin. But he was unable to deflect them before the normal effect of bullets did their thing to his body. He had several bullet wounds now, and was fearful whether he could win this battle. From what he understood, there were several of these things over the entire world attacking his troops. The whole thing stunk of James. The blade the robots were using seemed to work exactly the same as his, and so did the bullets in the guns. He was unsure why, but it seemed that lightning spells seemed to dull their effectiveness. This was useful as lightning was really Rayid's main elemental speciality. He could see that what he was currently doing against the robot wasn't going to work however. He infused his muscles with the power of earth, and pushed his blocking sword outwards. He was able to throw the robot backwards. It was surprisingly quick at recovering. Not once did it let itself get into a vulnerable pose during this process, it was already pointing its gun at Rayid again.
Rayid was beginning to suffer from maintaining so many different spells at once. He often practiced getting really good at individual spells, but his pride of not showing off his skills to everyone, meant he had never had the need to use multiple spells at once. As a result his concentration was suffering. He was able to react quickly to the robot's moves due to his lightning reflexes. But the responses were not ideal. He was maintaining an earth spell to increase his strength against the robot's overwhelming mechanical engineering. A wind spell to both fly and move quickly. A lightning spell for both protection against the nanite enhanced bullets, and for increased reflexes. The lightning going through his body was causing immense pain. Every nerve in his body was being shocked, and the pain was hindering his concentration as well. Perhaps he was taking the wrong approach here. He noticed that the robots sword was able to take large amounts of lightning while remaining just as sharp as ever. It seemed different to the bullets.
The robot could also see that its current approach wasn't working ideally. It activated the magnetic charges in the mini chainsaws inside its blade. Lightning crackled on the blade, exactly the same as Rayid's did. The AI didn't realise this, because the AI effectively knew very little about magic. But if its lightning was able to interfere with Rayid's, Rayid would no longer be able to control his nervous system's reflexes with lightning. The lightning could also charge into Rayid's nervous systems at currents and voltages exceeding what his body could handle. If his nerves died out entirely, he wouldn't be able to move at all, and would surely lose. So it was with great difficulty that he decided to remove his own lightning. This really helped with his concentration. One of the more complicated spells was no longer occupying his mind, and no longer was the excruciating pain. He would have to be more careful in the battle however. Predicting his opponents moves and reacting to them instead of being able to react as soon as they happened. This gave a certain element of error, but Rayid was already able to move faster. He was quickly charging in and out of battle, lashing out with his blade, trying to find a weakness in the robot's defence. Of course, no matter how fast he was, the robot could see it all happening and react accordingly.
The robot seemed to be made out of a light metal, but very strong. However despite its strength, it was still bent into place in appropriate places. So it must be beatable. The standard process for bending and shaping metal was to heat it. So he took the Torlo approach, and ringed himself with fire. He couldn't get it as hot as Torlo could, but he was pretty close considering the other spells he had active, and how fire wasn't his speciality. He charged his blade at the robot, who swiftly dodged to the side. His blade sunk into the side of the building. Rayid had already jumped out to attack the robot some more. Seconds after Rayid had sliced the building, the area with the scar exploded loudly. The robot was noticing this happening. It was merely on a whim that it dodged the first time, but seeing the end result, it was glad it hadn't decided to block with its own blade. It was unsure whether it could handle that kind of attack. Its lightning was crackling quite loudly now. A large amount of it seemed to be flowing back into the robot itself, speeding up its own movements. Rayid saw an opportunity in this. He wasn't sure if it'd work, but if it did, he would be guaranteed victory.
He thrust his sword into the ground, and held his hands up into the air menacingly. The robot saw a completely defenceless opponent, and after the struggle it had been having, decided to attack. It charged at Rayid. Just as it got over the sword, it exploded in a mighty blast, extremely high into the sky. Rayid couldn't afford to wait for it to clear. Using a magical ability similar to radar, he was able to charge in and detect the robot. The robot couldn't see anything from the explosion. It had managed to escape unscathed, but disoriented. Rayid used this chance to pull of his move. The lightning flowing through the robot was pure and untainted. He placed his hands on it, and used the energy to create a more devastating spell.
The act of converting lightning into fire was probably the simplest of all conversions, but it was still an extremely complicated spell. Rayid knew the process but had never tried it properly before. It was with great relief for him that it worked. The robot basically started to pulse with heat. It was overwhelming and was quickly baking away at Rayid's own arms, but the robot itself was glowing red. It begun to melt, Rayid quickly ran away. He had set the spell in motion, so as long as lightning was being provided by the robot, it was be converted into pure heat. He flew away quickly, enchanting himself with ice over his body, to counteract the swelling heat. He puffed loudly, he had managed to defeat the robot, but he was absolutely beaten. He worked on healing his wounds, and took a rest.
The AI in its factories all over the world, had been watching the transmission of this robot's feed. He realised this must have been the character James was worried about. The one who had lead the invasion on their world. It had defeated one of their robots, but he looked pretty bad. He had lost his sword, his only weapon. He looked like he had taken from fallout from the final act of destruction against the robot as well. It sent three more robots out to face him. If he could only just defeat one, three should easily be able to defeat him. It gave express instructions not to use the lightning blade as well.
Luckily for Rayid, he had already retreated. He saw that although he could defeat those robots one at a time, it was extremely difficult and more than one could probably overwhelm him. He went back into the crystal kingdom, and closed the portal behind him. Already he was the only person left from that invasion, the robots had done an incredible job at taking their world back.
The AI declared itself ruler of this new world, and would remain so until the true leader came back. By this it meant James but nobody else knew what it meant. It ruled in a benevolence similar to James', creating some unprecedented wealth. Many people had tried to pretend they were the true leader, and they had all been placed in prison. This wasn't much of a disincentive however. The prisons were more like a separate society than a punishment. The criminals were treated very well, and in general seemed to rehabilitate back into society properly. A lot of tasks were now being done by the robots. It had created all of its robots to be the same as the ones that took over the world. It was a bit overkill, for a lot of the jobs it did. But it also meant it was immediately able to respond to threats.
Rayid was declared as a terrorist, and the AI would instantly recognise his face. A few times he tried to come back into the world and take down a few of the robots, but each time there were more and more of them, and they all recognised him instantly. He was going to have to get a lot more powerful before he could take that land over again.
The crystal kingdom itself wasn't doing so well either any more. The losses it had received from the robots were astounding. Elder Lumni had that incredibly annoying 'I told you so' look going on, but Rayid ignored it. There was no way anyone could have expected this to happen.
It was two years later. James' kingdom had grown enormously. He had
been introducing technology into its world as well as magic. The
common person found this immensely more useful. Things like
microwaves, fridges, the car became a must for everyone. The world
had made a major shift for moving upwards. Back in the day every
building was two stories at most, usually one. Now every building was
a sky scraper, hundreds of stories high. The population kept
increasing, and James had to keep working out new logistics for
creating and providing enough food for everyone. He found that never
having to sleep really did help with being a leader. It was the only
way he found time to work on his other continuous self improvements,
such as keeping his body able to move in perfect precision, learning
new types of magic, and all of that.
He was currently working on his own spell at the moment, one that no books or people had heard of. Namely the ability to see magic other than that which he was casting. He was having a bit of trouble, this was the first time he was really making his own spell out of non trivial patterns. The first step had been very easy, he was able to get it to see very simple magic like the triangle patterns or the swirl of invisibility. He found it failed drastically on the more complicated stuff, like the wall of anti-magic he had found at that prison. The problem was that to see magic of a certain complexity, he had to be able to work at magic of an even higher complexity. His current magical training was now working on increasing the depth he could concentrate his patterns at. He was pretty sure he'd already learned all the spells the country had to offer, so that was probably his best step to figuring out something new.
Part of his reason for taking over this world, was to build up an army that could rescue his old world again. He had been training his mages in normal combat, as well as his combatants in magic. He found that a combination of the two was the best. He had been doing this for years really. The kingdom was already prosperous almost without him now. Although it was interesting work, he didn't care much for it in itself.
It was about now that he convinced himself that his army was good enough to defeat Rayid's. He designed a large portal between the two world, that millions of men could walk through. He only wanted to go in at once place first, so he could assess how bad it was. With a unit of a hundred or so, he walked through the portal.
The other side of the portal was full of even taller buildings than James' kingdom had made. There were robots around doing all of the work. They looked exactly like the ones James had designed quite a few years ago, albeit with a few minor changes in detail. One of the robots saw him and his band of men come through the portal. It recognised him as the 'true leader' and transmitted the message throughout the world.
Fireworks rocketed into the sky. It was a celebratory action, but the men from James' world were on unfamiliar ground. The fire flying into the sky was quite intimidating, even the powerful fire mages thought that if they could waste their magic doing this, imagine what they'll bring on them. It didn't matter though. James recognised the fireworks for what they were, and calmed the men.
The robot came up to him, speaking in a very human sounding voice.
“James. We fulfilled your command to retake over the world. For a year we have been waiting for you to come back, the true leader of this new world.”
James really hadn't expected the AI to do anything, perhaps slow Rayid down as he worked on another way to beat him. Regardless this was a good outcome.
“That is wonderful news. To be perfectly honest, I didn't think you would be able to pull it off. But this is just amazing.”
“Certainly sir. Are these men with you? I can provide accommodation and leisure for them if you like?”
“Yes. That would be excellent. We have much to talk about I guess.”
A car pulled up beside James, and a large bus behind it.
“Alright men.” yelled James. “It turns out we don't need to conquer this world, we have a bus here to transport you to some accommodation and leisure. Think of it as a holiday. I'm going to need one of you to volunteer to tell the rest of them what happened though.”
“I'll go sir!”
“Excellent.” James went inside the car. “So. Brief me on everything that's happened while I've been gone.”
“Certainly sir” It was a monitor in the car that spoke now, the robot had stayed behind. “When you first left, the Crystal Kingdom had taken over our world. You gave me the command to create an army to defeat him. I spent a lot of the time organising funds and buying factories. He had devastated the world, so acquiring the raw materials was quite difficult. In the end I managed to acquire them all, so it wasn't too much of a problem. I was simulating the robot electronically, trying to examine the various properties of real world molecules and see if my conjectures were correct. The factory was able to test my findings, and I ended up building a general model of the universe. Not quite perfectly complete, but all of its approximations were within a range that was satisfactory. I found a new metal alloy that is perfect for the robots. Making us light, strong and heat resistant. I also added some other functionalities, such as the ability to absorb outside energy to make us faster rather than damage us. I built an army of five thousand, mostly as a contingency. I thought a thousand would be enough, and in the end I only used a hundred and three to take the world back.”
“What about Rayid?”
“Ah yes. Well when I was taking over the world, I initially sent out a hundred robots. He is the reason for the extra three. He had a battle with one of the robots, and has so far been the only one to be able to defeat one. It left him very weakened however, I sent out another three to fight him. I figured that if he could only just beat one, three should defeat him easily. But he got away. He has tried a few times to come back, but we always recognise him every time. We have in excess of a hundred thousand robots at the moment. Mostly doing menial tasks, but always ready to react immediately to any real threat.”
“Interesting. May I see the footage of the fight?”
The recording was too rudimentary to store any magic information, so James' new eye ability couldn't be tested on his biggest adversary, but he was able to get the main idea about what was going on anyway. Rayid was mostly using very simple spells, in very unique ways. His lightning spell was a good example of that, but he turned it off when the robot used lightning. This was probably because they might interfere with each other in bad ways. In the end he did an electricity to heat conversion spell. Usually the easiest conversion to make, as heat is usually what energy is lost as. Still not an entirely trivial spell however.
“Interesting. I'd like to try fighting one of these robots myself some time.”
“That can wait sir. We have to introduce you to the world. They are anxious to know who the true leader really is.”
“Very well. Should I tell you what I've been up to then?”
“Well, when Rayid initially attacked, he overpowered me. So I gave you that order and travelled to another world. I wasn't really fussed I just chose one at random. I ended up in some swamp like forest, the place was writhing with demons. In all honesty it was lucky that I found some humans first. The demons really weren't a large challenge for me, but I would've had no idea where to go for safety. Unfortunately when I arrived at the main city, it was this giant fortress, and it was being attacked by these bird like demons. I shot down five of them, but that still left two, and me with no bullets.”
“You only brought five bullets?”
“And you missed?”
“Yeah. They scream shock waves, it send the bullet off track.”
“Ah. Okay I was worried for a second there.”
“Yeah. Well I had two of them still left, and I had to beat them with my sword. Anyway once I had done that, the people thought I was a person with a demon infused in me. They poisoned me with this knock-out gas. And put me in an arena against a really fierce demon. I didn't have my nanite sword either, just their crappy steel one. Anyway after I beat that demon as well, I used the same knock-out gas on all of them, and took my stuff back. Then I went to another world. In this other world I appeared in a theatre. The director of the play was furious at me for teleporting into his stage, and demanded that a magic official arrest me. Then I got into even more trouble for not having a magic license.”
“Ah.. So I assume this world already had magic then?”
“Yeah, but what I found out was, that they were very wasteful in how they cast their spells. They ended up giving me a magic license so I could teach them how to cast spells properly. As I made my way up in their society, I became advisor to their King. The King became very prosperous during that. He took over the world, and some countries simply defected to him because of his better economy and treatment of people. Then I left that position, and it all fell to pieces again. The King was furious and had the mages lock me up in a room where I couldn't use my own magic. It didn't matter though because I had residue magic from all my other spells laying around on my skin and the like. So I broke out of there later, and organised a revolt against the King. Within a few days everyone was outside his palace protesting that I should become the new leader. So I just went up there and claimed the position, didn't even have to battle for it or anything. I decided to build up an army there to take this world back, and came here now to find that I seem to have already done that. So now I'm the ruler of two worlds.”
“Congratulations sir. We are just coming up to the main parliament now. This is where the humans involved in our government work. We are on a distributed network where each and everyone of us is able to communicate commands effectively, so we have no need for a building. You humans are different however.”
“Very well.” A robot opened the door and accompanied him up the stairs to the parliament. The walls of every building around him (and the whole world) lit up with a television announcement. That's a pretty cool effect thought James.
“We have an urgent message to bring to you from parliament. The famous true leader of the new world has arrived. We are welcoming him in now.”
Suddenly all the walls changed to have pictures of James on them. He wasn't used to being on camera, but thought he seemed to suit it well enough anyway.
“People. My name is James. Before this invasion from the Crystal Kingdom, I spent all of my time pretending to be an ordinary person. I was unfortunately, not entirely normal. I could use a small amount of magic like they could, and I was very smart and physically fit. I had invented an Artificial Intelligence that was working its way over the internet. When Rayid, the leader of the Crystal Kingdom, attacked our world. I was at the forefront fighting him. But he was too powerful, I had to retreat. Before I left I made one last command to my AI. To defeat Rayid and the Crystal Kingdom, and drive them out of our world. I didn't expect him to accomplish this. When I retreated, I used my magic to travel to various different worlds. I found another that knew of magic already, and I became their King. I was going to use them to help take our world back, but I see the AI actually succeeded in that. Now that I am the ruler of both worlds, I hope to bring them together, and merge their different benefits to help reach the unattainable goal of a utopia. Thank you.”
The walls shut off. “Very good sir. I think they will be very impressed.”
James smiled. “I know they will. There will be a few who protest, but I see you already have provisions in place for that sort of things. Benevolent prisons, what a great idea. Anyway, you said you have over a hundred thousand of these robots, where you only needed a hundred to defeat the Crystal Kingdom?”
“Yes sir. A hundred and three actually sir.”
“Great. I'll be needing several thousand of these for another invasion.”
“Yeah. Lets go eradicate some demons.”
Chapter 6 – The giant demon in the land of fire
James was standing on the edge of a cliff, looking over the thick swamp riddled forest beyond him. The trees' branches wound around each other in tight coils, so “most people” would not have been able to see where they started or ended. James stood confidently on the large drop below him. He was wearing a suit made entirely of a dark leather, which helped disguise him in the night. The arm bands were lined with metal blades, infused with nanites to keep them sharp. At numerous places on his suit, nanite enhanced daggers were sliced into the leather. Strung across his back was a sharp looking long sword. Unseen nanites gleamed across its edge, and rune marks shimmered softly along the flat edge of the blade. James stood a good six feet tall now, his keen eyes glanced down over his hawk like nose, and his hair was cut short for battle.
“This is a pretty interesting suit you've developed. I feel so light, like I could move in any which way.”
This world was a lot worse off than James'. The sky was red, just like flesh, with the obscure ripples that look like capillaries and everything. A sign of demons. Far beyond the forest was the fortress village that he had been chased out of when he was last in this world. Even at this distance James could see they were defending against a demon attack. To the right was a large mountain, James could tell there were large caverns inside it, and suspected it was the source of the demons.
Behind James stood thousands of his robot soldiers. Each carried a nanite enhanced blade, had guns that could shoot through 2 metres of thick lead, and had an advanced energy propulsion for movement. When James jumped off the cliff, they all followed him in the way that no band of lower world people ever could.
Once inside the forest, James was only overseeing and commanding the battle. The computerised contact lenses he was wearing displayed information to his eyes, and broadcast any orders he made to his army of robots. So far nothing needed his immediate attention. The robots were tearing their way through the horde of demons like they were butter. As each demon was cut down, a disturbing wail pierced through the air. Their bodies immediately decomposed into a red stream of ether, which then flew into the sky. For each stream of ether flying into the sky, a small spot of blue would open up in the sky. A useful sign, James thought, but it was definitely happening far too slow.
A loud roar suddenly burst through the night. James reflexively encircled himself in a protective barrier, and it was a good thing he did. All of his robots exploded into pieces, releasing small scale nuclear explosions everywhere. Even the swamp water had caught fire in the aftermath. Remaining calm, James drew his blade. Infusing it with the powers of earth and ice, he used it to slice through the forest above as he jumped into the sky. Towering quite visibly over the night, was the source of the roar. A sixty metre tall demon. The demon made the entire night glow, its muscles were ripped over its red skin, and large purple veins were strung down its sides. Its eyes were pupil-less, and the irises were bright yellow. On its gaunt head were four horns, two pointing sideways out of its chin, one in the centre of its three eyes, and one sticking out the back of its head. It had the same two arms, and two legs that humans do, except with large talon like claws for hands. It had four tails whipping around violently removing chunks from the mountain behind it.
“Get reinforcements lined up and prepared for entry on my command,” James said to his eyepiece, “and bring something along that can put out fires.”
Another of the demon's roars burst through the night, but James was prepared for it this time and had the protective barrier up in advance. The demon felt the resistance in the air this time, and noticing James sitting there calmly, charged at him. At this same moment, James activated the hidden energy thrusters in his suit, and charged as well. In seconds they were within the demon's arm length range. Its arm thrust out like a spear, so fast that if you were to blink you would miss it. But before it was even half way to James, he had started a barrel roll to curve around it. Being adjacent to the arm, he sliced deep into his arm and powered his sword with ice. White shards spurted out of a long wound all the way up his arm. James released from the arm and went for the face. Then there was another explosion.
James was sent flying back in shock, quite hurt as well. He was merely 20 metres from the ground moving at an alarming rate before the propulsion in his suit kicked into gear and slowed him down into a survivable impact. CRUNCH! James fell to the ground with his legs flailing out in malformed directions. Crap broken legs, several fractures in each leg. Crap! It was around this point that James started to feel less calm. He began to regulate the impulses of his nerves and his brain, nullifying out any pain his legs were feeling, and turned off his lower thrusters. Next he brandished his sword high into the air, pointing upwards. An arc of lightning flew from the sky into it, and James rode the lightning into the sky. Next wings of fire and wind spiralled out from his back. “Wisps of Fury” James muttered, and the wings turned themselves into long tendril like columns of flame, burying themselves into the earth. The earth began to shake, and the tendrils pulled a giant magma golem out of the ground, easily the same size as the demon. The tendrils pulled the golem up tall, until James was sitting on its shoulder, the molten magma burning away at the flesh in his legs.
“Send in unit two, equip fully spherical anti force fields, Go! And get me a small rescue unit of five, I've broken both of my legs in several places.”
With a wave of a hand, the golem began to charge after the demon. The red tendrils retreated and turned into wings again, and James flew off back towards the portal between the two worlds. Already he could see his second robotic unit shooting out of the portal in small waves. A group of five flew up to him, two carrying a large stretcher for him to rest on. Without a word he sat on it and surveyed the damage to his legs. His right leg had a fracture in the upper Femur bone, as well as two fractures in the Fibula bone. His left leg had two fractures in the Tibia bone, and one in the Fibula. Altogether not a very good result. On top of that, the lava golem he had summoned had cost a lot of energy, and at the time he didn't have enough left to protect himself from the lava it spewed. That meant that the flesh on the underside of both of his legs, all the way up to the buttocks, had been completely singed off, bone was visible underneath it all. Focusing his eyes on the right areas, James realigned all the bones in his body, and began to concentrate on reattaching all of the pieces to each other again.
Over on the battlefield, the lava golem and the demon were trading blows. The demon was missing the horn on its left chin, and although James hadn't worked this out at the time, it was used as a sacrifice for the explosion that propelled him away. To the sides of the fight small blips of light were flying around like flies, shooting holes into the demon, too small to do any serious damage, but large enough to annoy it none the less. Every now and then, a tail would manage to fling out and hit one of the robots, but overall there were enough of them for this not to matter. The demon's blows seemed to be having more of an effect on the lava golem than the other way around. Each blow the demon made singed the skin on its claws, and each blow the golem made singed the skin where it landed. However, the demon was mostly ignoring this singed skin, while the golem was slowly starting to lose its heat, becoming more of a rock golem. As hits were struck, the claws started tearing away more than just small amounts of liquid, large chunks of rock were falling off with the blows.
James had now repaired his legs fully, and had already regulated feeling back into his legs. Unspent pain blared through him like a knife, but he ignored it.
“I'm going to sneak in to the forest underneath the demon and catch it unsurprised. Stay here in case something goes wrong. Squad alpha, use your swords, see if you can take out its eyes.”
By now the golem was pretty much half crumbled apart. James closed his eyes and began to concentrate on the first spell he ever learnt to use, invisibility. A loud explosion sounded on the battlefield yet again, and this time the horn between the demon's eyes was gone. Oh, so those horns can be sacrificed for the explosions, interesting. Squad Alpha had been destroyed by the explosion.
“Squad bravo, use your swords too, aim for its eyes.” he said, sending in another squad to replace them.
Fully invisible now, James skulked into the forest. Quickly jumping between branches, he found himself underneath the demon in less than a minute. A survey of the battle through his computerised contact lenses showed that the golem was only just intact. James took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for the quick succession of moves he was going to have to perform next.
He brandished his sword into the air, facing upwards yet again. Eight different arcs of lightning bolted into the sword, seven of which going through the demon itself. James rode the one arc that wasn't going through the demon, right until he was in front of the demon's face. Its eyes had been gouged out by the bravo squadron, and it was flailing wildly at the nearly dead rock golem before it. James pulsed wind energy into his arm, and ice into the sword, and began to attack rapidly. The following flurry of attacks was faster than “most people” would ever be able to see. In fact, what they would have seen, was a pile of thin ice flakes suddenly start to spurt out of the place where the demons head was. The demon disintegrated with the loudest wail of them all, it was so loud that it pierced through dimensions to the world where James had come from. The stream of red ether looked like an eruption from a volcano itself, and when it was other, a mere ten percent of the sky remained a flesh like red.
“Alright Unit two, that was the big one, all the demons left should be well within your abilities, move out!”
The snow from the ice attack was still falling, over the forest and beyond. It wasn't strong enough to put out the fires that were still raging below. James cast an eye over the shambles that remained of his lava golem.
“You did me well, you fought with valour against a stronger enemy, sacrificing your own body to defeat him, now I shall renew your strength, and split you into many smaller golems, to help rebuild this forest we have destroyed.”
He made sure to amplify his voice to loud proportions, there was no way the people in the fortress to the north hadn't seen parts of this battle, and an impressive speech would help him win them over. The golem suddenly stood tall, with renewed vigour, and smaller golems started appearing out of his skin and walking off, until he was just a small golem himself. The hundred golems left over began to work on putting out the fires, piling dirt over the top of them to suffocate the oxygen required to keep them going.
“Send out the fire fighters”
Many more robots flew into view, and started spraying water over the forest. The fire was starting to get under control, and with each passing minute the amount of red in the sky shrunk to less and less. James flew over to the fortress city to begin his victory speech.
“People of this world, I am here to request your unconditional surrender to our benevolent rule. As you have seen, the sky above you becomes less red by the minute, as our mechanoid army eradicates the last of the demon infestation of this land. This was an act that we did for free, as part of our benevolence for you. I would advise against you standing against an army that destroyed the demons that you never could. If you choose to follow our government, you will receive the following benefits..”
The rest of his speech didn't really matter, some of the people there recognised him from his previous visit to the world. The small party of travellers he had been with was cheering him on the entire time. In the end the entire fortress surrendered to him, they were too afraid not to. He had already begun his merging of the two other worlds at this point, and added this one to it as well. The increase in wealth was immediate. All the extra land made it perfect for his ever increasing population.
It was only several months later when he was already using most of the space he had available in all three worlds. James wanted to go liberate another world. He quite liked the idea, not because it was necessarily made him more powerful, but he felt the other worlds should have a chance to get the same prosperity he had to offer. Best of all is that he had a legion of robots to fight for him as well now, so he didn't even need to sacrifice any of his own soldiers for his ideals.
James chose his world randomly yet
again. After setting up the robotic army, he created a dimension to
the other world, and they all marched through it.
They entered right into an army encampment. It seemed like a primitive army, with swords and shields and things like that, but James was able to see the magic they contained. Hidden between some of the armies items were standard technological items, like obscure guns James had never seen, and things like that. Many of the items themselves contained spells that were beyond him. So while he was talking, he kept working on upgrading his eyes to be able to view at a higher complexity.
"Hello, people of this world. My name is James, and I have come to liberate you of your world of your troubles." The soldiers laughed at this, before James could even get to the next bit of his speech. One of the more brave ones walked up to him.
"You wish to conquer us? We are the mighty legion of the hawk. We have already conquered many worlds. If I were you, I'd run before we cut you down where you stand."
James continued his speech even louder. "Behind me is an army of robots, far more powerful than most mortal men. If you do not surrender, I will be forced to let them loose upon you. It is within your best interests to do so. The worlds that this army has conquered have all become very prosperous."
They laughed at him yet again. One of them walked up to him, he had a very complicated spell prepared. James was only just able to identify it in time. A wave of strangely twisted magical fire blasted at him. He quickly placed a counter spell. The fire dispelled before it even hit him.
"Ah. So I see you know of dragon fire then. Well how about this?"
He brandished his sword, it glowed black, if such a thing was possible. Long tendrils of shadow struck out at James. Unlike the previous spell, he was unable to properly identify the spell, but he was able to dodge it.
"Hostilities engaged!" He shouted to his robot army. "Fire!"
A roar of bullets flew at the fighter. Protective barriers formed around him to stop the bullets. He could see several other mages in the background very quickly getting tired. Some were screaming out in pain. The magic army started to attack the robots back. Balls of fire, bolts of lightning, and other strange bits of magic flew through the air. James was marvelling at it all, he hadn't seen magic like this ever before.
"Stop this at once!" a strange man came into view. His most distinctive feature was his silver helmet, which was shaped to look the head of a hawk. Underneath was a normal face, he had quite a crooked nose, possibly another similarity to a hawk. James gave the word to his robots to hold fire. "Who are you?" the strange man asked.
"My name is James. I am the ruler of three separate worlds, and I have come here to conquer this one."
"Too bad! This one is taken. My name is simply Hawk. This army has taken over four worlds, which I guess, makes your three worlds look pitiful."
"I think, if we were to battle, it would be worse for both of our armies. May I suggest a duel? You and me, whoever wins gets to have the other opponent's army."
Hawk's entire army sniggered at this. They seemed perfectly confident that he would not be defeated. James was riled up though, in the last ten minutes he had learned more magic than he had learned in the entire year before that. His eye was continuously getting more advanced, using the different things it had seen to build more complicated versions of itself.
"A duel? Well that makes this even easier then. So lets define the stakes properly before we begin. I'm not sure you're offering an even deal on your end. My army has conquered three worlds, mine has conquered three. I think that makes my army worth more than yours."
"I guess you could say that's the odds of the battle affecting the rewards."
Hawk laughed. "You're a clever one. However I'm going to take that as an insult, that you would offer me so much comparatively. You clearly underestimate me."
"Perhaps, are there any limits to what equipment we bring. I think it should be said that once we start the battle, we're not allowed to use anything else."
"Sure, take whatever you want."
James nodded. "Suit up!" One of the robots started to expand and break up into many minor pieces. It covered around James, in a full mechanical robotic suit. "What equipment will you take?"
Hawk laughed. "Equipment. I don't need any of that. Let me know when you're ready."
Hawk's army had backed a long way away. It seemed that they didn't want to be too close when he got into a serious fight. James had his robots do the same thing. "Alright then. Ready"
Hawk immediately stretched his arms out sideways. The flesh broke off of his arms, turning into small white birds, fluttering away high into the sky. Once the majority of his arms were gone, they started to grow back again. He charged while the area was still reforming. James was ready for him, he shot out several bullets. Hawk send out some gusts of wind, the bullets veered off course, missing him by mere millimetres. James put his propulsion thrusters into ready mode, and moved to swing his sword at Hawk. The sword connected, it sliced right down Hawk's shoulder, but it wasn't slicing as easily as usual. It got stuck half-way in. He latched on to James' mechanical outer shell, and started to glow red. He exploded into a million tiny pieces. It blew the mechanical armour right off James, and nearly got him too if he hadn't prepared for it.
The entire time, James was actually letting the AI of the suit control the battle. He had been spending his time analysing his opponents magic. He could only just fully read the bird spell, but had no idea what it did. Fortunately he could fully understand the explosion spell, he was slightly taken aback by it, but managed to prepare a counter in the nick of time. Although the mechanical outer shell had broken off. James had still preserved his sword for the battle.
"I win!" he loudly proclaimed.
One of the birds dropped down to the ground. It large grew, pulsating with large pulses, until it turned into a white shape approximately the same as Hawk. Colour flushed alongside its outside, and suddenly it was Hawk. He grinned wildly. "I'm not sure sure about that."
James got it now. The spell Hawk had cast was a magical separation spell, giving him the ability to separate his body into separate pieces. He couldn't die unless all of the pieces were killed, and James could see thousands of birds up there now. Each of them were splitting and then regrowing, so they were creating more even without Hawk's presence. An interesting concept, James thought. He made a variation of the spell himself, it wasn't quite the same, didn't have the same animated flying around concept. He just placed a piece of mud on the ground. Discretely making it ooze out of the side of his shoe.
James moved into a proper fighting stance with his sword. It was time to get serious. He blessed his entire body with wind power, and flew straight at Hawk. Hawk seemed ready for this. He had made a sharpness spell on the edge of his hands, so he dodged James and sliced at his back.
"Ugh.." he grunted in pain.
James was still trying to think of a plan to properly defeat this man. He was definitely the hardest fighter he'd ever had to face. Each and every spell he made was pushing his eyes to the very limit. However he was also getting a large thrill out of it. He'd already found a way to avoid death. James armed himself with lightning, and shot into the sky. It crackled loudly, and a huge pile of dead white birds fell to the ground. He rode the lightning up there, and used the wind magic he'd stored in his body to flail wildly with his sword. It seemed to connect to everything. Its range was hugely increased, and it would hit everything in range, but still some birds had avoided it all. There's just too many of them, James thought. Down below, Hawk closed his eyes. The birds above all exploded. They were even stronger explosions than before, using some of that dragon fire James had seen earlier for impressive impact. Fortunately for James, he already knew the counter to the dragon fire. It seemed to turn it into regular fire upon contact, instead of dispelling it entirely. The spell must have had elements of both. He was lightly burnt all over his whole body. However none of the birds were left, this was probably his best chance to take out Hawk.
He pulled one of the nanite enhanced daggers out of his leather suit, and threw it at the enemy leader. It flew through the air, straight and true. Metres before it hit, Hawk's entire body burst out as millions of tiny birds. James had attached a piece of string to the dagger. He sent lightning down it, and rode the lightning straight to the center of the birds. Yet again he flailed his sword out wildly, hitting as many of the birds that he could. Unfortunately several got away, and each went in different directions. Some of them started bulging the same way the one who turned into Hawk did. James threw his daggers at them, but they just burst into more birds again. By now there were hundreds yet again. Way up at the highest point, one turned into Hawk much quicker than he had previously shown he could do. James threw a dagger at him, but Hawk had some of the smaller birds explode to deflect it.
"You're actually quite a good fighter." Hawk said. "Perhaps those odds you thought up were more accurate than I thought."
"There's always a chance, and I have learnt so much from you already."
Hawk peered at him after that remark. It probably wasn't a good sign. James eyes had now adapted enough to be able to easily understand all of the spells Hawk was using, although he didn't have of an understanding to devise counters on the fly yet. Hawk suddenly turned invisible, and
so did all of the birds. No matter
what James did, he couldn't see them yet. Every now and then there
were small shimmers of complicated magic in the air, but he wasn't
quick enough to pick up on what they were.
Suddenly a bird appeared in front of his face. Half a second later it exploded, although it didn't matter since James, anticipating this, had already quickly retreated from the thing. Several other birds appeared. All taking half a second before they exploded. This was probably the invisibility spells best weakness, and should work to James' advantage.
Hawk was analysing the battle though, he was still unable to determine which direction James would run, but the distance he ran from each blast was fairly consistent. He encased the entire area with a sphere like wall of birds. He sent one bird in to James, who dodged it yet again. As soon as he set that one to go off, he turned on the other ones too. James saw a wall of birds around him. It was just at this moment that he got a proper look at the invisibility spell, but his concentration on that meant he couldn't find a way through the wall. They birds all exploded violently, and the explosion ripped James' body to pieces.
Deep into the ground, James' ooze of mud had tendrilled itself, like the roots of a tree. He disconnected one root, and used it to reform himself under ground. The earth under that area was rumbling as James was forcing it outwards so he could fill the spot where it once was. After he was done, he flew out of the earth, good as new again.
"I have learned your replication spell mister Hawk. Are you sure you can beat me now." Now that he could see the invisibility, he knew exactly where Hawk was. He charged his hands with wind magic, and sliced the air. The wind magic sliced outwards through the air, all the way to Hawk's location. Hawk managed to dodge it, but the spells required to do so had removed his invisibility. "And I can see your invisibility. Do you want to surrender yet."
"I don't think you're good enough to warrant me surrendering. But I'll admit it looks like neither of us can win. What do you say to an alliance? Your worlds and mine working together to bring harmony across all others."
James assessed the situation and realised this was probably appropriate. "Alright, I agree. We will share military, wealth, land and knowledge. May this relationship remain mutually beneficial to both of us."
Both Hawk and James left the battle, thinking what they did wrong in the battle, and vowing to get stronger to beat the other next time.
It was about this time that James
felt the need to learn how to read the past. He had lost huge parts
of that battle, he just simply hadn't been able to take it all in on
time. His eyes' perception to magic had greatly increased, and the
level of complexity that could go down to was impressive. He got
headaches if he concentrated for too long on some of them. He would
probably have to figure out a way to get around that too. One of the
things his eyes noticed, on his way back into his own world, was the
rift between the worlds. It was a chasm of various images of the
past, swirling around like you'd see in some sort of horror
television show. It was difficult to learn exactly how to use it at
first, but he found he was able to find anything and everything that
has ever happened in there. This gave him the perfect opportunity to
study the previous fight. He spent days doing this.
Afterwards he realised there were so many things he just simply had not picked up, subtle spells being cast here and there. Once he had a full handle on that battle, he realised that this well of the past had more than just this battle. He was getting better at identifying the spells Hawk was using now. He blitzed through the rest of his life in about the same time he spent on the battle. He also spent time looking at some of his various other soldiers. They all had some other interesting spells, but he was able to identify all of them pretty easily now. He devised a counter for each and every one of them.
This other duplicate separation spell that Hawk had done offered James some security in his future. He now permanently hid several spots of ooze all over the world, giving himself the ability to come back from the dead if something bad happened. He saw that Hawk had done the same, and he knew exactly where they were hidden.
With the help of James' robotic army, their alliance capture many other worlds. Hawk was unofficially the real leader most people looked to. James came across more like a general of his. It wasn't a portrayal he was particularly happy with, but he'd have to live with it for now. Soon Hawk gave James the order to invade a certain world.
"Seems strange to me Hawk. When did our mutually beneficial alliance end with me doing your orders?"
"When my orders were mutually beneficial for our alliance. This world is a tough one, we've ignored it up til now. But I think you might be able to do it."
"Whats so tough about it?"
Hawk smiled. "Recently its become smart, like your world did. It has some advanced technology and magic aiding their military, and they have a powerful artifact. It's rumoured to have been left by a god."
"Oh, what kind of artifact?"
"A large crystal. Its so important to them that they named the entire kingdom after it."
"Wait. Is this the Crystal Kingdom?"
"You've heard of them?"
"Yeah. They invaded and took over our world."
Hawk laughed. "You got invaded? Some how you failed to mention this before. Perhaps I should lead this alliance."
James smiled. "We took our world back. If we could take over the Crystal Kingdom, but you're too afraid to, then maybe it is I who should be leading this alliance."
Hawk snapped at him. "No! Why didn't you try fighting them on their own soil? You made it sound like a big deal that you drove him out of your lands, but you didn't even chase after him? What's wrong with you. I don't care how powerful you are, that's just a bad decision. Their leader, Rayid has gotten a lot stronger over the years. Something has really driven him to improve radically."
James said nothing to this. This was news. It was likely that he had been shamed by being defeated by a bunch of robots, and was now working on becoming strong enough to defeat the entire robot army. James wasn't even sure he could do this, it could be another very even battle.
When Hawk was gone, James spoke into his eye-piece, requesting information from his Artificial Intelligence. "How are all the new designs and test research coming along?"
The eye showed a picture of a small black ball. It suddenly starting to crackle with red electricity arcing all over its surface. The pieces expanded out into six separate plate, each connected via the strange red electricity. In the center was another ball. "This is the prototype for our next robotic warrior. It seems to work quite well. Not being centered around the build of a human, it is far more agile. It can travel around the planet in under two seconds. It has a reaction time of one nanosecond. It can send out energy blasts of up to two hundred volts with 100 amps of current at the same time. The only problem is finding a proper power supply. It is theorised that a magician could make something that can store enough energy and regenerate that energy on its own. I'm sorry to say sir, we are probably going to need your help to complete this here."
"Okay, I''ll be there in a few seconds." And that's all it took him to travel across the world. James was rapidly advancing his magical ability, and the act of continuously working on his eye's perception was giving him large amounts of power stored up. The computer has designed a card that should theoretically be able to store large amounts of magical energy. Unfortunately its own understanding of how magic worked was quite limited, and it could only guess. James also looked at the design of the metal, and noticed a few flaws before they even tried it. He was rapidly becoming able to absorb a text book's worth of information into his brain in seconds. "Alright, so we have the new prototype of this card, it just needs to generate energy correct?"
"And we haven't tested this new robot we're using it on?"
"No sir. Without the energy we've only been able to simulate it working."
"Okay. Well I guess we can't begin fixing the problem of it not working until we've actually verified it first. So lets work on this power supply."
The object was a thin card, like you'd find in a deck of playing cards, but made out of a strange metal. James touched his hand to it, and focused his mind on creating absolutely no patterns while he fed raw magic into the card. It was surprisingly quite hard to keep his head clear like this, so he had to feed it in slowly. The metal on the card became see through as the magic was added. It looked like a piece of glass, with a few very subtle shades of green down the side. James was doing this for about ten minutes before he got the proper hang of keeping his mind clear. Once he did this he was able to start pumping energy in at a much faster rate. He kept going until he felt physically exhausted. He felt really sleepy, which was an odd sensation for James, as he hadn't slept for years now. He curled up and went to sleep.
"He awoke, feeling still a bit drained, to the sound of crackling. He opened his eyes to see the new robot above him."
"It worked, exactly as simulated. This is the first time my simulations have been so perfectly successful on such a new area of research."
"Congratulations. How long until that robot runs out of power?"
"That's the thing, it never will. That metal is able to regenerate magic on its own, up to an undefined amount. So long as we ensure that it never uses more magic than it regenerates, its going to just continuously get more powerful."
James blinked. That was actually pretty impressive, although it sounded kind of familiar. He wasn't sure from where. "Okay then, how many of these do I have to make?"
"I am beginning work on a plan to channel magic from one to another. This means that if I have one of these with enough power, I can use that to create ones with enough power for the robots."
"I'm sorry, but I'm drained at the moment. Its going to take me a while to restore all the power I used charging that one there up."
"Okay then. What I'm going to do is turn that robot there off, and use its card to start the collection. It should be able to slowly generate a decent amount of power."
"That sounds like a good plan for now. You can do some testing on it. I'm going to look into figuring out how to increase my own magical power limit. This is the first time I've ever had to worry about it so badly, but I could imagine that under a really intense battle it could be quite important."
All of James' battles so far had mostly been about using the most complicated and skillful spell there was. A complex spell could counter a simple one while barely using a percent of its original power. That still meant that with enough power you could defeat the more skilled magician. And if someone was able to be able to do both that would be terrible indeed.
He went home and rested at first. He slept for three days in a row. When he woke up, he was refreshed, he seemed to feel that he had even more power than before. This could be like muscle, he thought. Weaken it, and it will build itself up upon resting. This analogy got him thinking of what he'd need to do. Draining all of his power, and then resting would be slow. What he needed was the magical equivalent of weights. He designed a spell which absorbs a large percentage of the magic you use. This meant to cast a normal spell he had to focus thousands of times the amount of energy into it. It was a simple spell, so he could dispel it pretty easily if he really needed to. But the idea was to try and live for as long as possible without removing it, so when you take it off you'll have so much more power. The first thing James noticed was how much he had been subconsciously using his magic to help him move faster. He felt so sluggish, moving around at such human speeds when doing anything.
The first challenge he had to overcome was removing the need for sleep. The actual spell to make him less tired was making him even more tired. He spent weeks on this, getting it right, until he finally didn't need to sleep. He was still
focusing all of his energy on this spell however. Able to stay
awake, but not do much more. He organised some battles with the
original robots. They usually beat him. They were getting smarter and
smarter in battle. The AI had been organising fights against the
magic members in Hawk's army, and was learning how mages fight, and
good ways to combat them. When James didn't have the extra power of
magic available, he was just not good enough to out-react and beat
the AI. Even so he was able to last quite a long time, and with each
passing day was able to use more and more spells against it.
It was on the fourth week since he'd put up the weight spell before he finally beat the AI's traditional robot in battle. Maybe this was enough to be of help with the next robot. He dismissed the weight's spell, and talked into his eye piece.
"Alright. I think I may have enough power to charge into your magical battery now." Before he was even finished speaking he was already at the factory. He cleared the magical part of his mind of any thought, pumping in large amounts of raw energy into the card. It was glowing during the process. He found that the weight training had also helped him be able to transfer the magic at a much faster rate. He got a thousand times the previous magic into the card in approximately the same time as previously.
"Wow sir! This is amazing. It'll only take a few days for this to generate the energy to make a new robot card."
"Still going to take a few days? What was it before?"
"Before it would have been sixteen years, four months and 12 days."
James laughed. "I guess an odd number like that would make sense. Geez wouldn't that have been a waste. Okay. Once you're done making a few of those robots, I'll come along and charge it even more. Then I'll get some cards charged for my own personal use, if that's okay with you."
"If its your will then it is okay with me."
James laughed again.
When James entered the world of the Crystal Kingdom. Rayid was already there waiting for him.
“Hello James. My only worthy adversary. I have been waiting for you.”
“Hello Rayid. I want you to know I mean you no personal harm or misfortune from this invasion. In fact it is my hope that we can have your kingdom surrender to ours. Only then will it be able to gain the true prosperity associated with our alliance.”
“You sure do like to talk a lot. Very well. Talk is what you'll get. I was the chosen one to lead the Crystal Kingdom. It was said under my rule it would reach its most prosperous age ever. It was prophecised by the elder mages. When I learnt enough magic how to, I read the probability lines myself. There was something they missed. Well either missed or ignored. This something was basically you. I was the one most likely to become the Crystal Kingdom's ruler. And you were the one most likely to remove me from power.” Rayid sighed. “So I hunted you down to stop this from ever happening. It was possibly my involvement in your life that really started it though. Every time I thought that I had you beat, you somehow come out of nowhere much worse than before. Well it was only really two times, and one of those I helped you, but still. I've decided the probability lines are something that are too difficult to play with. I have dethroned myself from the Crystal Kingdom. And it is so I can fight you on even ground. I guess that means that you are the reason why I would lose my rule of the Crystal Kingdom, and the prophecy has been appeased. This has granted me the true freedom from destiny I need to defeat you. I also took the liberty of locking the very crystal that the Crystal Kingdom was named after away from those petty mages. They really don't know as much about magic as they think they do. I have exclusive access to the crystal, and destiny won't stop me now. I think that's probably enough talk. Are you ready to die?”
“You can try and defeat me all you like, but you won't kill me. Not now. You know too little.”
Rayid literally cackled. “I know too little do I? Do you even realise how much there is in the crystal. I could through raw energy at you and you wouldn't be able to counter it. And I've learnt some pretty complicated spells now.”
Rayid rose his arms towards the sky. Lightning coated his entire body. Clouds formed in the sky, and the lightning didn't just fork over the ground, it literally bathed it. He concentrated the lightning into the form of a large dragon, and had it swoop towards James. It was truly a spectacular work of magic. Somehow Rayid's magic had gotten nearly as complicated as Hawk's, and the power he was dealing with was several magnitudes more powerful. James knew the perfect counter to the spell. But the amount of magic he had to supply to use it all was too much. He instead opted for a slightly less intensive spell, which caused the dragon to swoop just slightly higher, missing James by a meter.
Rayid growled at this. While still maintaining the dragon perfectly, he slammed his palm into the ground. The ground crumpled underneath them. Lava rose to the surface, and started spurting dangerously. James had created a small platform of red rock he could balance and float on. Rayid created a lightning unicorn and had it charge at James as well as the dragon. He didn't have to worry about touching the lava. The static charge generated from his electricity was keeping him in the air on its own.
The dragon and the unicorn both charged at James. He was unable to
deflect attacks from both of them, so he dived into the lava. The
lava was untainted, just very hot. It was burning through him at an
alarming rate, so he had to act quick. He made a variation of the
magical separation spell, and assimilated his magic into the lava.
His physical body was destroyed, but he was now the lava. This had
the advantage that he could now use a lot of the energy provided by
Rayid as his own. A small dragon rose out of the lava. It was only
two and a half metres tall. Its skin was a mixture of dark black and
glowing red. Its eyes were unseen behind fire. It had seven tails at
James struck his tails out at Rayid. They extended as streams of lava, sucked out of the ground and being thrown out like a jet. The streams bounced and danced their way to Rayid. Rayid held his palm outwards, and ice blasted at the streams of lava, turning them back into rock. The lightning dragon swooped down into the lava dragon, and it blasted away into many pieces. The lightning then pulsated through the lava, nearly removing all of James' presence in it. He quickly rebranched out, and summoned the dragon again. It roared in a loud gurgling noise, and out of its throat came a human body, skin glowing red and wreathed with fire. James had his dragon fight the two lightning creatures, while he dived down against the lava. He was running so rapidly that he didn't get a chance to sink. He skimmed his hands against the surface of the lava, and they emerged as black stone claws. Rayid struck his blade out at him, and James was able to catch it in his hands.
Rayid could see something had changed in the battle. The lava had been tainted. He jumped away and blasted destructive energy into the lava. It heated up a lot more, but he could sense the taint was gone. He pulled a complicated pairing of moves between his lightning dragon and unicorn, and they took out the lava dragon. James was here fighting on his own yet again.
"Alright. It seems I may need to use this then." James relaxed his muscles, flying up into the air, he released the weight spell that was prohibiting his magical flow. "Alright. This should help me out."
He put a large amount of wind energy into his body, and moved in to attack Rayid. Rayid's lightning reflexes was able to see the attack coming, but his body was still too slow to keep up with the string of movements. He was being battered, and he couldn't recover long enough to boost his own speed. He had to send the dragon and unicorns in to rescue him while he retreated. They both swooped in, but James let out a shimmer of earth magic through the air. The magic crumpled the lightning creatures at a low level. They lasted far shorter than Rayid had expected, but he managed to get enough time to draw more energy from the crystal.
"It seems I'm going to have to take more than my daily limit of energy to defeat you James. That's alright with me, I'll bleed the crystal dry if I have to."
James sent the shimmer attack right at Rayid. It shimmered through the air, but Rayid was able to dodge it this time. He moved in close to James and swung his sword out in quick successive moves. The blade struck the claws for the first few hits, but managed to get through them after wards. He was slicing in to James' flesh, slowly but surely. Now it was James who needed to do something to save himself. He leaked some more ooze from his ankle. It was a good thing that he did, because Rayid managed to behead him a split second later. His body and the ooze were both falling to the lava, but before they reached it, the ooze reformed into his body. It had all of his equipment back this time, so he wasn't going to have to fight with stone claws.
"I told you that you couldn't kill me. For the most part, I am unkillable."
"I see how it works now. I just have to destroy all of those before you can resurrect yourself."
"You're assuming that I don't have any back-ups."
Rayid glared at him, he had nothing to say to that. He pulsated lightning over the entire field again, this time drawing far more magic out of the crystal. The dragon that came out looked exactly the same as the last one, but it was much faster, and James knew it would take a lot more to defeat it this time. Since his weight's had been removed, he still had enough energy. He estimated it would take about a quarter of his energy to defeat it, using the most efficient spell he could think of. The amount of time it would take to extract that magic was approximately fifteen minutes, which wasn't a good sign. He would have to go into a minimal defensive stage until it was all ready. Of course the dragon would continuously be weakened during the onslaught. Calming his muscles down, he focused most of his concentration on pumping out the magic to defeat the dragon, and put the minor amount left into wind energy to dodge all attacks.
Rayid kept charging towards him, but he maintained a large enough distance so that the enhanced reflexes shouldn't matter that much. He was finding ways to pump out magic even faster than before. It was quite fascinating what you could accomplish when under stress. The dragon was half weakened within six minutes, and after eight minutes total, he had totally destroyed it.
"You're such a chicken, running away from all of attacks. Do you really think you can beat me this way?"
"If I have to. Yes."
Rayid growled. "Alright. I'm going to bleed this crystal dry. I have no reason to keep it other than to defeat you. Prepare for an onslaught."
The clouds above the sky grew so black that you couldn't see past them, even when the lightning struck down towards Rayid. He had stopped bothering with the creature imitations. Now he was just sending arcs of lightning down towards James' location. Lightning was dangerous, because the particles moved towards whatever it could find. This made it harder to dodge them. James was creating diversionary pieces all over the place, but Rayid was upping the number of lightning bolts he was firing. It was getting impossible for James to keep up with this pace. He had to destroy this field of lightning. If Rayid was telling the truth, which he could very well not be, then this was the last of his crystals power. It was definitely terrifying, but if James could defeat it, then Rayid would be on a far weaker playing field. He calculated that if he could use all of his magic in one instantaneous moment, he would only just not have enough to destroy the magical field. He only had one way of using all of his power instantaneously, and that was through the cards that his AI formed. They already had some magic in them, probably enough so that in combination with his own magic, he could destroy the lightning field above. He continued doing the diversionary tactics he was currently doing, and also pumped all of his remaining magic into the card. He wasn't able to to put raw magic into the card, so he converted the magic in there into the spell he needed, and did the same with the magic he was pouring in.
It took him fifteen minutes at his increased rate to put everything he had in the card. He left a small sliver for contingency, but he was betting a lot on this move. If Rayid had been bluffing about using all the crystal's power, then there was nothing he could do to defeat him, but if it was the truth, this was his only hope of putting them on a level playing field. Once he was done, he pulled the card out, and flung it into the cloud. The magic dissipated from the card immediately. The cloud immediately disappeared, and Rayid sat there standing in wonder.
"Where did you get that?"
"I was storing up magic during those last fifteen minutes, purposefully dodging so I would have enough to beat your lightning cloud."
"No not the magic. Where did you get the crystal?"
"Crystal? What are you talking about?"
"I thought our kingdom was the only one who had a crystal to store energy into." He pulled out a grey piece of metal on a necklace. "Hrmm, it seems to lose its crystal qualities when its depleted of energy."
"Wait. You mean these are the same as your kingdom's fabled crystal?" James said, pulling out several more of the AI's cards. Each of them stored enough energy to power one of the new robot designs.
Rayid looked at James in wonder. "Where did you get those?"
"We made them."
"You made them!? Oh dear god is there no end to your abilities. And you didn't even realise it was the same as our country's famous crystal?"
"No, we just needed something to store magic in to power our new line of robots."
"Okay. There's obviously nothing I can do to defeat you. You've completely drained my crystal, and you already have your own. This is a lost battle for me. I surrender. I don't speak for the Crystal Kingdom anymore however, you'll have to take them over yourself."
"Great. It would be a waste to just let you go though. How would you like to serve our alliance at an upper level? Such as a general or something like that?"
Rayid thought about this for a while. He had been so determined at beating James that he hadn't even thought of the possibilities of working along side him.
"I'm sorry. I just don't think servitude is for me. I'm probably going to wander across the worlds, exploring and experiencing the world."
James sighed. "You're missing the point. Part of the deal of this alliance is that everyone has to be a part of it. You can't refuse to be a part of the alliance, you can refuse a position in the alliance, but then you would have to take a lower one."
Rayid thought about this. "Well what about all of those countries you haven't conquered, they're not part of the alliance."
"They will be."
"Okay, well can we make an agreement. Once you have conquered every other country in the world, you can come back for me. I'll be waiting
James sighed again. "Very well. I guess its the least I can offer you after giving me such an exciting battle."
Rayid laughed, and travelled to another world.
Rayid was the main challenge for taking over the Crystal Kingdom. He had their crystal, and without it they were mostly powerless. He probably would have been the best at using it as well, so even with it James would have eventually defeated them. They surrendered quickly.
James returned to Hawk victorious.
"You look haggard. You conquered the Crystal Kingdom then?"
"Yeah. It was very difficult."
"Excellent. This is just the opportunity I was hoping to create. I'm challenging you to another duel for command of the alliance."
"And if I refuse?"
"I'm not sure you can, because all I have to do is fight you. If you don't fight back then I will kill you, and the alliance will be mine."
"I see." This wasn't good. James' body itself was very low on energy, although he still had a few cards of magic to aid him. "Well that's not particularly fighting fair. So I'm not going to either." He then spoke into his eye piece. "Send me your entire fleet of the you design, and bring in back ups of the original robots."
Several rifts opened up nearby. Black balls of metal fell to the ground. Several robots poured through another rift.
Hawk replied in a similar fashion. His entire army appeared, ready to take on James' legion of robots.
"Are you sure you want to go through with this Hawk? I may be tired, but I really do believe my army has the upper hand here."
"That's just a failure in your analysis James. I've analysed your robots. They're tough, but we have them down."
"Alright. Lets begin then."
Hawk split into millions of birds in the air. The balls of metal started to glow red. Red lightning crackled along their sides, and split the balls into six outer plates, each connected by arcs of red lightning. The normal robots opened fire on Hawk's magical army, but the bullets were deflected. One of the new robots attacked Hawk. Red lightning blast out and pulverised his body instantly. The rest of the new robots attacked Hawk's remaining army. They completely turned the tide of the battle, his army was quickly being devastated by it. The one that was attacking Hawk had charged up into the air, and was letting out large charges of red electricity at all the birds.
James hadn't even needed to fight. This new make of robot just out classed everything. He would have to try fighting one himself when he had more energy. Minutes after the battle had begun, Hawk and his army had been destroyed. James knew that this wouldn't be the end of him, Hawk had several back up birds all over the world. He went for the one Hawk was most likely to reappear in.
"I don't think that went too well for you. Do you want to surrender now."
"Urgh.. I can't believe that. What were those things? You didn't even fight in the battle."
"Like you said, I was exhausted. They're an experimental model we've spend some time working on. Did you not wonder why it took me a month before I attacked the Crystal Kingdom."
"Actually I did wonder, I was getting impatient. What took you so long?"
James shrugged. "I was just making sure I was ready for it. I got Rayid to surrender. He hasn't joined our cause yet, the promise was that once we had conquered the rest of the world, we could take him."
"That was foolish, he'll get much stronger by then."
James organised his robots towards taking over every world he could find. He was getting quite good at reading the rifts between worlds, so he could analyse each and every world before he went to them. It wasn't long until he had conquered nearly every world. None of them had provided any challenge like Rayid or Hawk had done. There was however, one world that looked like it'd be the worst challenge yet.
The last world, a land of demons that put the previous ones he had fought to shame. There was something strange about the world that caused all technology to fail there. Since there were no people, he didn't feel any obligation to liberate the world. There were still problems however. The previous demons James had fought, were actually from this plane. Someone had opened a rift to there accidentally. One minor one came through the portal, and separate many lesser demons as off spring. That minor one that the giant sixty metre tall demon. In this plane of existence, it was an insignificant weakling. If another rift was opened, who knows what kind of stronger demon could come through. Something on the second tier would be able to destroy everything he had accomplished on his own.
One thing that could be said about this demonic plane though. It would be the perfect training grounds. James hunted down both Rayid and Hawk. He could defeat them quite easily, but they were still the most skilled magicians he had ever seen. He wanted them by his side if he was going there.
They were both reluctant about serving James, but when he promised to teach them some of the magic he used to beat them, they were suddenly quite receptive. The two main things he showed them, was the ability to track the past, and his eye ability to see other magic. These two simple ideas had both proven to be his best assets at learning new magic. He didn't really have much to learn from these two yet, but he hoped that by giving these two powers to them, they would be able to think up many innovative new ways of using them. Giving James himself new powers to work with.
They entered the demonic plane together. It was a large cavernous place. They were inside a small cave, outside was a gigantic hall way. It seemed quiet, everything was empty. Rayid stepped towards the exit, and suddenly the ground started to spin beneath him. The rock was quickly being crumbled into sand. All three of them flew into the air, they were able to get away from the sand's sucking power, but then a giant scorpion like beast appeared out of the sand. The first thing that came out was its tail. It struck right at the three of them, but they managed to dodge it in time anyway. Every part of it was covered in a thick shell of purple armour. The rest of its body came up after wards. It snarled loudly at them. Its tail shot a venomous liquid at them, but they were able to dodge that also.
James tried throwing a knife at the scorpion, but it just bounced off the shell. Hawk sent some of his birds in, but despite the massively improved explosions, there was minimal damage. Some small chunks of its shell got taken off, but there was no penetration to the actual flesh underneath.
“We should be able to beat this.” James said. “It's weaker than one of the demon's I defeated in the third world I conquered, and we're stronger than I was then too.”
“But it is in its natural habitat.” Rayid replied. “It has an advantage here that it didn't have before.” He hadn't participated in the battle yet, but was calmly watching it from the side, dodging any attacks that came his way.
James decided to come in closer to the scorpion. Its tail was long, but rigid. This made it unable to attack with its piercing edge in close range. It battered the edge of its tail down on itself, trying to squash James who was now standing on top of it. James dodged each blow. He focused on a complicated wind pattern, designed just then for slicing through hard objects. The next time the tail came down, he tried to slice right through it. His sword got lodged in about half way. The scorpion let out a horrifying scream as it felt its flesh get cut. James held on to the sword as it flailed its tail back and forth. He was trying to pull it out, but he kept having to dodge all the walls he was getting swung into. Rayid was able to capture the spell James had used from his position on the side lines. He put it on his own sword, and struck right between the scorpion's eyes. It let out a quiet pained cry, and stopped moving.
“I had it under control, you know.” said James, finally pulling his sword out of its tail.
“Maybe, but we're wasting time here. Who knows what attention that screech could have attracted, and its not even one of the demons we came here to kill.”
“Fair enough I guess. I was still having fun though.”
“The demons will provide more fun.”
“Yeah I know.”
They explored the caverns for weeks. Sometimes they could go for hours of walking without finding a thing. Other times they would be overwhelmed by torrents of demons and beasts, fighting each other in a hideous and chaotic free for all. They had all memorised the passages they had already walked down, and were making sure to constantly explore new places. They had met the majority of the different creatures here, and had been able to discern their strengths and weaknesses for optimally killing them all. The demons were different, that usually were more unique from demon to demon, and required some experimentation to diagnose. Even so, there were getting better at doing this, and the demons were all starting to recognise them on sight.
It was the sixth week or exploring that they found something significantly new. It was a large open area, surrounded by the taint of used demon magic. In the middle of the floor was a black and purple swirl, twisting and writhing with seemingly random curves. Every now and then a demon far more terrifying than any they had already encountered would appear from within, see nothing around, and head back through the portal with a dissatisfied grunt. Similarly sometimes a demon would dive into the portal. These ones rarely came back, although hilariously one time one did come back. It was running out with a comical panicked look on its face. Several of the more terrifying demons came out after wards, chasing it and eventually killed it, feasting on its flesh.
“The portal to the second tier,” said James.
“Geez, those things that came out of it are huge.” said Rayid.
“Yeah the demons get exponentially more difficult. You guys think you're ready to go there?”
“We have back ups back home if anything goes wrong right?”
“Exactly. Lets go.”
The demons on the next tier were fierce. There were hundreds of them guarding the entrance, waiting for someone weaker to feast on. All three of them were literally running as though their lives depended on it. They each had to split up and enter separate passages to get away. The passages were small so one one or two demons could go through in a time. The other demons left them since they obviously wouldn't be getting anything to eat with other demons already ahead.
James' passage was pretty quickly a dead end. This meant he had two fierce demons in front of him that he had to fight. He pulled out his sword and gave it an invisible extension, a sharpness resonating in the air. Both of the demons could see this however, and they stayed back. One of them let out a mighty roar. The cavern collapsed around James. They were hoping to crush him under it and take him back, but James managed to position himself so he didn't get touched. Amidst the confusion he dug away at the ground trying to get out. The rock was incredibly solid. He needed to use quite a complicated spell to get through it all. As he burrowed into the ground, it started to rumble all around him. Suddenly a beast completely different to the demons appeared, smashing through the rock and chewing him up whole. He had to resurrect himself back on his home world.
“Okay, memo to self. Don't go in the earth in the second tier just yet.”
Rayid had found a passage that wasn't a dead end. His combination of lightning reflexes and speed like the wind was helping him dodge all the demons, but he couldn't quite lose them. He was probably going to have to do something to distract them. He turned himself invisible and made a decoy where he was standing previously. One of the demons followed the decoy, but the other still followed him. He kept making decoys but it wouldn't fall for it. Oh well, guess I'm going to have to fight. He pulled out his sword and charged it with ice. He created a wall of ice so thick you couldn't see through it, but the demon just burst through it. As it came through, he thrust his sword into its torso. Lightning pulsed through its entire body, paralysing it as Rayid ran away weaponless. He later fashioned a new sword out of the rock in the wall.
Hawk only had one demon following him. It was remarkably fast though, probably the reason that it was able to get to him before the other demons. He had split up into hundreds of thousands of little birds. It wasn't working too well until he hit a fork, where he was able to go two different ways. Unfortunately at this point the demon split up as well and did the same thing. Hawk kept this up until the demon had split up twenty seven different times, and then he turned the birds into ice magic and exploded them into all the different parts. He had a few birds left over to maintain himself.
Both Rayid and Hawk met up with each other later, it was safer now that they were together and weren't being chased by hundreds of demons. James took a bit longer to meet up with them, he had to keep dodging the demons, but eventually got good enough to fight the ones that managed to follow him. So when he finally met the others he was actually stronger than they were. It only took a week before they were all able to fight all the demons here. They eventually found the portal to the third tier. It was hidden in a small room in the middle of nowhere, and thus had nowhere near the activity the last one did.
When they went through it, they ended up in a large room. The first thing they noticed was a wetness. Water was gushing past their legs, it felt like it was washing away their very soul. They had to fly in the air to avoid it. Behind and in front of them, where endless darkness. To their left and right in the distances, were giant walls. Even with their magic they couldn't see the ends of it. The wall was perfectly smooth, except for millions of small caves dented into its sides. Most of the caves were glowing the orange colour of fire. Their casted out eyes could see huge demons inside them. Usually wreathed in fire. They rest of the area was mostly dark, so the demons hadn't seen them yet. None seemed to be waiting by the portal in the soul rending water. They decided to take on some of the demons in the caves. They were mostly resting and concentrating on magic, it was interesting to see demons not totally fanatical about eating flesh. Of course that changed when they arrived. The first demon they met burst into flame as it charged at them. They both jumped out of the cave to dodge it. It seemed reluctant to leave the cave, but was throwing balls of fire more intense than any of them had fought before. They were able to dodge the flame, and were focusing on upgrading their eyes to be able to see the magic behind them. Rayid was the first to figure it out, but he waited for the others to get it first. James was next, but he didn't think of that, and devised a spell to counter the flames. Now that he was used to casting spells at this complexity, he devised his own attack and obliterated the demon.
“Hey I hadn't figured out that spell yet” said Hawk.
“Oh sorry, I didn't even think of that.”
“I did” said Rayid. “I was able to see the magic before you, but I decided not to act on it so you could learn.”
“Oh, I'm sorry.”
“It will probably be alright. We can learn the rest from one of these other ones. I was quite surprised how quickly you designed that other spell. I could never have done that.”
They worked their way down through the river. Fighting off demons through the caves. It didn't take long for them to all be powerful enough to kill the demons with ease, but as they moved further down the river, the demons were getting stronger. They also seemed to be moving more and more away from fire spells, trying various other things at first before then resorting to fire in desperation. As they got to the end they found the reason why. The next portal was submerged hundreds of metres deep through the soul rending water of the river. While the three of them already knew of spells to get through that. For demons, who are specialised fire elementals, they were all sitting in their caves, training up non fire magic so they would be able to get through.
The next plane was completely black. All five of their senses had disappeared. It felt like complete isolation. The magical alterations they'd made to their eyes were able to make out shimmers of magic here and there. James shone his magic brightly, and could see it bursting around himself. The others did the same, and now being able to locate them, he linked their minds together.
What's going on here? It was impossible to tell who was saying what. James couldn't even be sure it wasn't himself thinking this.
We've lost access to our senses. We're probably going to need to find another way to get through here.
I can see magic, but nothing more.
I guess the solution is to access the real world via only magical means.
Should we put some protection on first? We don't know what could be happening to us while we figure that out.
Sure. I guess the good thing about this is we can also know when it gets attacked so we'll know if we're being attacked.
Hmm, could we then push outwards with a light version of this barrier and see where it hits?
Good idea. It will probably take a while to get used to seeing where it intersects things though.
They spent hours doing this before they were able to get the general idea of their surroundings with it. Since their minds were linked they were able to immediately share any progress they were each making. They kept working on it for several days before they figured out how to perfectly sense everything around them. They needed to pulse out weak blasts of these barriers at least sixty times a second to be able to mimic the same speed as their eyes. There were hundreds of other demons who had all found their way through the portal, sitting here like ducks. Just like them. It turned out that the complete lack of feeling also meant you couldn't move at all.
So we can see, but we can't move now?
Yeah. We can move ourselves with magic I presume? So long as we know exactly where we are.
If we move ourselves with magic we're going to lose those bearings pretty quick.
So we'll practice?
Yet again they had to spend a long time practising their movements. They were able to move a lot faster only using magic than without, but it was uncontrolled and felt unnatural. They would quickly lose track of where there bodies were and would accidentally do movements that broke bones. Luckily they couldn't feel this, and were able to heal it quickly, but it was still dangerous. It took them much longer to sort this problem out than the vision. In the meantime, their pulsing barriers would still give away their position to anyone who could feel them. After a few days they had the general idea of moving without senses down, and were practising battle against each other. They were still sloppy, they wanted to get to somewhere reasonably close to what they were at before. They had destroyed most of the demons around them just to be safe.
Once they had vision and movement down, finding the portal to the next dimension was easy. It was literally just in the next room across. Once they went through they found their senses working again. Unfortunately they were now too used to using magic for vision and movement. They were double compensating and were having trouble getting used to it. They pulsating barriers disturbed the giant demon sleeping by the portal. It wasn't a traditional demon, wreathed with fire or any of that. It was covered in ice, and sparks of electricity arced over its icy skin. They didn't even realise it was a demon at first. It snarled loudly at them, annoyed at being woken up from its slumber.
The demon wasn't particularly difficult for them to fight. The only main difference between this one and the others they had fought, was that it was confident in using non fire spells. Never the less they weren't any more complicated than the fire spells they had already fought. The reason they were having so much trouble fighting it, was because they still weren't used to the balancing of their two new ways of moving. James went to dodge the claw that was attacking him and accidentally flew straight into the other one. Hawk's explosions were way past the demon.
Never the less, a battle like this was the perfect way for them to relearn these things. They took longer than they needed to to get the hang of it. Once they were done, they quickly destroyed the demon.
Once the demon was out of the way, they took the time to observe the area they had arrived in. It was a black circular room with portals surrounding the sides. There must have been hundreds of them. They saw that marks had been drawn on the floor of this room. Possibly helping to identify it from the others. They chose a portal at random and went through it. They found themselves in another version of the room that looked exactly the same as the last. The only difference was the lack of portal in the floor, and the symbols etched into the ground. They headed back through the portal they came, but it didn't take them to the same room they were in before. It was another room, with the portal no longer intact.
“Okay then. I think we're going to need to learn to map these rooms.” said James.
“I'm on it.” said Hawk. He sent out a bird through every portal. He sat there for a while. James and Rayid knew what he was doing, so they decided to do some magical exercises to pass the time. After about an hour or so they were getting worried. By this point Hawk was profusely sweating.
“I can't maintain this many birds. Man, there's so many rooms. I haven't come across a single same one. I think there may be infinitely many of them, or rather, that its not a maze with a way out. I think the portals are a red herring.”
“Strange. Lets look for signs of magic throughout the room, there has to be a way through.”
They spent days increasing the complexity of their eyes. Using each other's eyes as guidance to check against, they were able to keep it increasing at a fairly linear rate. After a while James had an an epiphany.
“Oh, its so obvious. This isn't even meant to be that much of a difficult test.”
“What is it then?” asked Hawk
James punched the floor. The ground beneath them shattered into thousands of pieces. Underneath the pieces was the next portal, waiting for them.
“Oh I see. It was probably a test of despair or something like that. Going on forever through the portals finding no way out.” said Rayid.
“Probably, breaking the floor isn't that hard to do though. I think each of those portals creates a new room whenever someone walks through one, and destroys the room when they leave. I don't know where the find the power to do that though, there could be millions of other demons stuck here at this very moment.”
They dove into the portal. They came out in a valley entrance leading to a castle. This was the first plane they had found that had a sky, although it was a very deep crimson red. It had the same flesh like qualities that James had seen when he defeated the demons outside of the demonic plane, but its essence seemed to be much thicker and rich looking. The ground itself was dry and cracked. Further down the valley was a river made out of lava so hot it was nearly gaseous.
The demons of this world seemed to be less chaotic than those previously seen, they were marching in armies and would often work together in drilling exercises.
“Oi! You lot there. I've been waiting for you.” It was one of the demons, nowhere near as tall as the others, but he radiated an aura far more fearsome than anything they had seen yet. They immediately went on their guard.
“You can talk?” James asked, somewhat surprised.
“Yeah. I can understand your feeble language well enough. You have been disturbing our world for long enough.”
“Well who are you then?” James was trying to stall him so they could spend more time trying to analyse his aura, but at every new step it just seemed to increase in complexity.
“Haha, my name cannot be pronounced in your feeble tongue. It doesn't matter. I am the prince of the demons. It is my duty to indoctrinate and train those who make it through the fifth plane. Of course this only applies for demons. We can not harbour those such as yourselves. That would cause a large disruption to our workings. Your species is weak, but you yourselves are not. For that you earn my respect for becoming so much more, however compared to demons you are still weak. We are going to kill you, but first we will have some fun.” His face contorted into something that could be interpreted as a smile.
Suddenly a small group of demons, about twelve or so, surrounded them. James hadn't even seen them arrive. They were forced into cages made of some sort of solid version of flame. The magic entwined in them was deep.
“These are my top soldiers, we will be having a tournament. Them against you. Good luck. You're certainly going to need it.”
They were taken in to the castle. Inside was a room similar to most castles James had already seen. There was a long room with a large red carpet flowing down the middle of it. To the sides on the walls were large tapestries. They were different to most James had seen, showing the plights of different demons doing different things. They were set down in the corner of the room. The whole time they had been focusing on trying to fully understand the spell that was blocking their cage. They were interrupted by the demon princes announcement.
“Okay. Here we are. This battle will be broadcast all across the demon lands, for their enjoyment. So you had all better give a good fight. First up is the Butcher.”
An average sized demon covered in spikes stepped forth. The spikes were long, curved and sharp. They pointed towards towards the ground and away past its arms. In its hands was a gigantic cleaver, three times its size. He carried it effortlessly. The cage around Rayid had disappeared, signifying that he was going to have to be the one to fight first. He breathed in calmly, and stood up ready to fight.
“When do we start?” he asked aloud to whomever could answer.
“Now” the butcher said, his voice a deep guttural grovel.
It swung his blade at Rayid, quickly and effortlessly. Before it could hit Rayid threw out several small black daggers in opposite directions. His body crumpled under the blade, but reappeared instantaneously where one of the daggers was. Before the butcher realised what happened, he held his hands close to each other. Black shurikens flew out from where his hands were. Some hit the demon, without any noticeable effect, but most just slowed down to a halt around it. The butcher let out a deep guttural laugh at this minor effort. Rayid clicked his fingers, and lightning pulsed all through the shurikens, forming a net of lightning arcing its way through the demon's body. He pulled out his sword and rode the lightning towards the spiked beast. All of the lightning had attached itself to his blade, which he swung furiously into the demon's side. The lightning released itself through the demon's body. Searing its way through every nerve he had, and damaging large amounts of tissue within. It screamed in agony.
“Geez when did Rayid get so good?” asked James.
“I've no clue. He's buying us good time though, we need to concentrate on learning these spells.”
James nodded in response. The butcher swung its blade furiously at Rayid, slicing him to pieces. He reappeared again where one of the other daggers was. He sent the same shuriken attack right at the demon. This time it was prepared for that. It sent all of its spikes out of its body. They slammed into the shurikens, crushing them before they could release any lightning. He charged at Rayid yet again, slicing him into hundreds of pieces. Rayid reappeared at his last dagger point. He threw out some more daggers before the demon attacked him yet again. Its spikes were growing back out of its skin at a rapid rate. With each successive attack Rayid was throwing more daggers, but with each successive attack it was getting better and better at attacking him as soon as he respawned. By now its spikes had grown back and it shot them at all the daggers. Rayid then appeared out of one of the shurikens still embedded in the demon's flesh. His thrust his blade in the no longer protected flesh of the demon, and jumped away.
The demon tried to swing its blade at him, but he somehow managed to finally dodge it. His own sword exploded violently. The result tore a huge chunk out of the butcher's back. It howled, writhing in pain. It couldn't move efficiently any more. Rayid's arms glowed a bright yellow. His hands were completely masked by the light. He struck his arms into the butcher's head, finally killing it.
The demons watching let out low whispers in a unknown piercing growl of a language. Rayid went back to the cages with the others, and continued focusing on understanding the cage. The others quickly linked their minds with him, sharing what they had already learnt.
“Amazing. This mere human defeated the Butcher. Next among us we have the Reaver.” A demon stepped forth nervously. Its arms were both covered in long blades. A cage reformed around Rayid, and James' cage disappeared.
“Very well,” said James, “lets begin.” He could see the demon's doubt brewing in its mind after what happened to the Butcher. James let out a small patch of mud out of his feet with each step he took forward. The demon stabbed into James, but the area where it hit just turned into mud as well. James collapsed on top of the demon, a pile of mud staining its body. All of the mud he had left behind rose into small turrets. They shot cannon balls of mud everywhere. Each place the mud splashed more turrets rose, save for the demon itself. The mud James had left on the demon was splitting into small fragments and finding its way into the demon's blood stream. The demon wiped the mud off of itself and raised a barrier to protect itself from these attacks. A cocoon rose from the mud. Its skin peeled away to reveal James.
“Boom” he said. The particles of mud he'd been reproducing inside the demon exploded, tearing it to pieces. It literally vaporised into thin air.
The demons were clearly flustered by this. James returned to focusing on the cages, he couldn't tell this right then, but they were all very close to figuring out how they worked.
“I think you may have overdone it” said Hawk. “I have to fight next I think, and who knows what they're sending next.”
“Did you see what I did there?”
“Well just try your own version of that.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the demon prince. “Okay they have beaten the Reaver as well. Defeated him much faster than the Butcher. What's wrong with you sissies? Next will be the Fiend. If you lose this as well then I'm going to have to show you sissies how this is done.” He looked quite angry. Rayid gulped at that last comment, while Hawk let out a soft sigh. Another demon stepped forth. This one was entire black in cover. Hunks of black flesh hung from hunks of black bone. It already looked half dead. Hawk stepped forth.
The Fiend let out a belch of toxic gas. It rippled quickly outwards. Hawk burst into millions of small birds towards the sky. As the cloud hit them they quickly wilted away into nothing. Hawk had to split the birds up even smaller until he was floating small molecules of his own around. He broke down the atom layer and became a ball of plasma, easily dodging its way through the poisonous gas. At this level he could see exactly what the gas was doing. It was similar to Rayid's shuriken spell, except the lightning charged itself in tiny bursts across trillions of atoms. He swum through the gas until he was at the demon itself and flew into its veins. The only problem was that this plasma was the only part of him that was still alive, so he couldn't explode. He instead burst cutting through every point, slicing the Fiend's body into trillions of pieces. He reformed some of the plasma outside of the gaseous field.
“What!? It turns out I was wrong people. I had announced the fiend's victory, but I was too soon. Somehow this man still lives and our army's elite is down three of its most prized fighters. Now it is time to bring out the heavy artillery.” The demon prince flexed his muscles.
Rayid whispered. “I have the cages down, will you support me?”
“Okay. Do you think you should try on your own first?”
“Heh Okay. Should be fun for a bit. I just hope he isn't too good. Can I leave this with you?” He passed a dagger through the cage as though it wasn't there.
Rayid's cage disappeared. He jumped forwards and immediately threw out his daggers. The demon prince let out a piercing scream. Small fireballs went and hit each of the daggers, pulverising them into dust. Rayid let out a burst of lightning that bounced around on its own. Immediately after this one of the small fireballs hit him, turning him into dust as well. The lightning bolt didn't attack the demon prince, but instead went towards the audience. It charged its way into the other demons, killing them quickly and growing stronger with each kill. The demon prince tried to stop it, but couldn't get anything to work.
Rayid let out a quick spell from within the dagger James was holding to relinquish the cages. The lightning bolt arced its way back towards them and Rayid appeared just in time to catch it. The bolt formed into a short sword in his hand, its blade a light blue crystalline colour. The demon prince screamed in response. It let out a series of small fireballs so thick it looked just like one giant wave of fire. Rayid sent out a his lightning blade through the fire, then rode the lightning through it. Hawk turned into plasma and was able to get through it by dodging all the particles within. James didn't have quite as good of a strategy. He created several mud turrets and kept shooting until a small gap appeared. He only just managed to get the small speck of mud through. Luckily that was all he needed.
Rayid realised his lightning blade still didn't have enough power to defeat this demon prince. He unleashed the lightning bolt onto the rest of the demonic world. Hawk tried to enter the prince's blood but he had released a barrier so thick that even the plasma couldn't get through.
James' eyes were getting better at seeing his spells though. He managed to cast a counter spell to the barrier and then punched a shock wave right into the demon prince. It staggered backwards, shocked by the assault. Hawk used this chance to get his plasma inside the prince's blood. However he crunched some magic throughout his blood and managed to kill Hawk right there. Hawk had to return back to the real world where he had left one of his backups. James was trying to hold the demon off while Rayid's lightning bolt was charging around the rest of the world. He sent a barrage of earth attacks at the demon. His turrets were blasting pellets and he was using magical means to increase the weight of their impact. Regardless it was only holding the demon back. It let out a primal roar and smashed its fist into the ground. A wave of light spread outwards from where it had smashed the ground. It destroyed all of the mud James had left around.
James saw through the spell. He turned into a shade and slipped through the wave unnoticed. He then started controlling his way through shadows to attack the demon prince. He returned back to his normal self right behind the demon prince. He created a magical blade surrounding his arm and sliced into the demon's back. It let the blade sink in, then its flesh opened up and swallowed James whole.
Rayid had been using this spare time to spread his daggers across the room, but they had been beaten by the wave of light. His lightning bolt had defeated this demonic plane entirely, so he decided to call it back. When he caught it this time it made a long sword. It probably wasn't strong enough on its own to defeat the prince. But it could help him do it for sure. Rayid spread some lightning all over the room and rode across it to instantaneously travel around the demon. He appeared behind the demon and sliced right into it, sending torrential amounts of lightning magic into it. Its back opened up and tried to swallow Rayid, but he was able to ride the lightning back to safety. The demon screamed in anger more than pain. Rayid kept riding the lightning around the room, throwing shurikens at the demon from all the different angles. He then set the shurikens off, lightning piercing through them. He attached that lightning around his blade as well, and sent even more lightning into the demon. This time into its head.
The demon let out another roar. It punched its fists together, and some sort of dispelling spell went through the room. All of the residue lightning disappeared, although Rayid's sword was still intact. It appeared next to Rayid almost as fast as his lightning could, and rended his flesh to pieces with its claws. Just before Rayid died he commanded his sword to go out across the other planes getting as much demonic energy as it could.
The demon let out a roar of victory, but then realised the sword was getting away. It chased after it unsure what to do to defeat it.
The three of them met back up at James' world.
"Well that didn't go particularly well then" said Hawk.
"No I guess not. He was pretty tough." said James.
"My lightning blade is still there though, attacking all the other demons to build up power" said Rayid.
"Nice. Should we head back up there for a second round?"
"Perhaps we should train some more. Check the past on this demon prince and see what we need to know to defeat it."
They spent quite some time going over all the different spells that the demon prince knew. Not only were they very complex but it had a lot more magical power than any of them, despite the amount they had increased it by fighting on the demonic planes. James showed the rest of them his magical weights spell, and they also spent some time on using that to increase their power. They waited months before they decided they were strong enough to decisively beat this demon prince.
The first five planes of the demonic world meant nothing to them this time. They blitzed through them all in less than an hour. On the sixth plane Rayid called his lightning bolt back. It came back far more powerful than it was before. When he caught it, the sword was huge.
"Well this isn't any good." He focused on the blade, seeing how simple the spell seemed compared to what he knew now. "Can you go on without me for a bit? I want to upgrade this sword some more."
The demon prince appeared shortly after, still following the sword.