Worlds Adrift Chapter 69

If anyone has serious problems with fantasy racism, then skip the ending part of this chapter, the part after the third (*=====*). Obviously it’s there for a reason, but this is just a trigger warning. Thanks.

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“Okay,” Mary said as she placed the bolt onto the bench, “Now that we’re done with that, we can move on to figuring out where the mana will be going. Let’s just put the batteries here…” she trailed off as she got to work. Placing the batteries on the body of the rifle, she fastened them on by using small strips of duct tape. “And then run a transfer rune line here…” She carved two small lines in the metallic body of the rifle that led from the bolt to the batteries. “And there! We’re done!”

[Not really. We still have to do something with the mana. Sure, we could just figure out how to eject it or something, but that would be wasteful. How about this: we enchant some bullets with runes, funnel the mana from the batteries into them, and when they shoot they have some sort of effect. Maybe we can have one turn into a blast of fire, one into a… I don’t know. You know more about enchanting than me, so what can we do?]

She began to trace lines along the body of the rifle, bringing them into the barrel, and ending them with circles next to where the tip of the bullet would be in the gun. As she worked, she spoke aloud, “Well, there are more things possible than just fire. You can use things like ice, air, or even just reinforcing the bullet to make it hit harder. There are a bunch of other ideas as well, but they’re more particular and might need a mana gem to make properly.”

[Okay, so we can go with basic, or we can go with complicated. I think that we should go with an electric bullet.] Abe said.

She giggled for a moment, “Why? I highly doubt anything getting hit by this thing is going to need the extra punch a lot of electric power will give. That, and if we try to use this as a stunning weapon, then… better to just not bother with that idea,” she stated.

[Okay, hear me out here. This thing is going to punch through, pretty much, most things. If we add electricity, then everything around the bullet will get electrocuted; more collateral damage. We should, though, make one that only hits one thing.]

“Hmm…” Mary replied, “It might work… How about we use a few for fire, a couple for electricity, and another couple for trying our hand at the single target option. Other than the bullet idea, we should do something with the sword.”

[Wait, didn’t you already put runes on it?] Abe asked.

She shook her head, “Not really. I just said that to Huk to keep him guessing. I did, however, put in some mana-runes for a temporary solution,” she admitted.

Abe mentally raised an eyebrow, [I don’t think I’ve heard of mana runes before. What’s that?] he asked.

“Well, before a few hundred years ago, people had to use normal runes and runic paint to enchant things,” she explained, “But, one day, some genius in the warring kingdoms figured out that you could shape mana itself into runes by bending them inside the thing you want to be enchanted. It caused a pretty big stir, but people soon figured out that a good blast of mana can knock the runes out of place and make it all useless. Eventually, people could completely erase mana runes, making them only useful in either survival situations or as a style of battle. It doesn’t work on normal runes, though, so that’s good,” she said offhandedly as she finished the runes, “Done! Now then, let’s do the paint…”

Mary took out the yellow runic paint and a tiny paintbrush from the gun-tinkering kit, and painted one of the lines that led from the batteries to the barrel. As she did that, she focused her mind and imagined the formless mana being sucked through the line, like a pipe or tube, and being forced one way by the energy inherent in mana. Something in her mind clicked and the burden of focus was removed as the paint she laid with her tiny brush was turned from pure yellow to green-blue. Her mana drained, little by little, as the rune became complete and she stopped painting. She felt Abe’s attention flow through her bloodstream and examine her mana as she took a deep breath and began the next lines. After a half an hour of painting she collapsed on her bed and took a deep breath. [At least you know your limits,] Abe told her, [you’re running a bit low on mana there.]

“It’s alright,” she panted, “I’ll be fine after I absorb some more mana.”

Abe sighed, [Do you want some of mine? I can give you some.]

She sat up, “You can!? I thought you needed it after I saw you slinging lightning all over the place,” she asked in surprise.

[I don’t ‘need it’ per say, but one of the documents in the Sect database is saying that I need it to stay conscious. If I wanted to fill your reserves up, then I would have to give you about three quarters of my own. It’ll be fine.] he said as mana began to flow through her blood and flesh. Before too long, she felt refreshed and ready to finish the enchantment, [Alright, I kind of underestimated how it feels to not have mana,] Abe muttered, [I feel a bit sleepy, oddly enough. Anyway, let’s just finish this while I am still awake.]

She nodded as she pulled the bolt from the side of the table, “Okay, but I still need your help with it though,” she said, “You need to give me a good image of it and how the enchantment works.”

[Okay,] Abe said, [Tell me when you’re ready.] She pulled out the brush, dipped it in paint, and began to delicately paint the tiny grooves in the bolt while nodding. [Imagine an explosion going off on a wall. The energy from the blast may not break the wall, but it pushes the wall backward, sending it flying. But imagine instead that the wall’s energy is turned from movement to mana. Like heat moving steam upwards. Like sunlight feeding plants.] he said.

The vivid image of the wall, of the force, of the explosion, of how force turns to movement, and of how it can turn to mana combined in her mind and drained her mana faster than anything else she had ever done. Her mana flooded into the paint and compressed into a new form, turning the paint that spiraled around the bolt from yellow to violet. Just as she finished, she fell backwards and onto the floor, “Holy… what… woah… That was… hard…” she panted.

[You okay!? You’re running on, like, three percent right now! Here, I’ll give you some mana to get you on your feet,] Abe frantically said.

Feeling the comforting warmth of mana filling her veins once again she smiled, “Thanks. I needed that,” she said as she drifted off to sleep.

Abe sighed slightly, [Damn, couldn’t even make it to her bed, huh? Oh well, gives me time to read all of this stuff,] he said to no one. He pulled the thousands of pages of documents from the archived memory of his core and drifted into semi-consciousness as he absorbed the words.

*=====*

“That is all, your eminence,” the man in red and black armor said. Kneeling in front of the golden throne, the elite crusader spoke reverently to the man sitting on it.

The man on the throne let his gaze drift across the ornately decorated room, filled with religious art and symbols, and across the cardinals and bishops, all of them important members of the Purity Union, taking in their reactions, one by one. Most were mortified, but their fear of his wrath kept them from voicing their concerns. Others were interested in the series of events, ill concealed greed in their eyes. His gaze returned to the man in armor kneeling before the throne. His armor was similar to the crusaders’ armor that was worn 500 years before, with thick metal plates overlapping each other, but the enchantments were very modern, with features like reduced weight and mana guns. “Raise your head, Order Leader,” the man said. The armored Order Leader obeyed without hesitation, raising his eyes to look upon his Pope. “You are certain that this is the case?”

He nodded, “Yes sir. Nine of my elite, undercover crusaders were slaughtered during their assault of the Sect’s headquarters. From hidden cameras, we have identified the killer as one Mary Grant,” he said.

The Pope’s slightly troubled expression contorted into one full of wrath and hatred, “Mary Grant? You mean to say that the spawn of the disgusting Grant family still lives!?” the Pope shouted, causing fear to ripple across the audience as his voice echoed across the walls.

The only one who was calm was the Order Leader, who maintained his eye contact, “No sir, not exactly. She is an orphan who the last member of the Grant bloodline took in and raised. That is not as important, however,” he dared to say.

Silent gasps came from the audience at the Leader’s audacity. The Pope, for his part, simply raised an eyebrow, anger still written across his face, “How so?” he growled.

Clearing his throat, the Order Leader spoke, “We… We believe that she has fused with the ‘divine’ core that the Sect was creating. She was… able to use mana as if she were a manabeast,” he said. Audible gasps escaped the mouths of the audience as the Pope’s fury turned to concern.

“You mean to say… that she can use mana as if she were a manabeast? That she is capable of fighting on equal footing with crusaders without the blessings of enchantments? This is indeed more important…” he trailed off as he began to think.

As the Pope went silent, the bishops and cardinals began to converse in hushed whispers. As the Pope maintained his silence, the voices became louder and louder until they drowned the room with noise. Eventually, bishops and cardinals began arguing over every detail of the event, making the drowning noise reach even louder volumes. Soon, the Pope had had enough, “SILENCE!” he roared, “By my name, Pope Helix the First, I demand silence!” At his shout’s end, the room was silent to the point that the Pope’s breathing was the only noise in the room. 

“What do you wish of me, your eminence?” the Order Leader asked.

The Pope’s glare whipped to the Order Leader, but was met by the man’s reverent stare. Taking a deep breath, the Pope calmed himself and addressed the man, “Order Leader Bunaki, for now, we cannot do anything. She has disappeared into the slums, the accursed place, and will not likely leave till she either leaves or is forced out. For now, however, there is a task I require you to handle. In three days a shipment of water-attuned steel will reach our island nation, a shipment that will be important in our final purge of Olsvania. You will leave by needle-boat to protect it tonight. Make sure that every scrap of metal makes it here. You are dismissed,” he ordered.

The man’s kneel seemed to become deeper, “Yes, your eminence. By your will, it will be done,” he declared as he stood and left the Holy Council chamber.

Pope Helix sighed and set his gaze on the Cardinal of Justice, “Cardinal Gerick, is there anything else we must discuss?”

The man straightened his back and met the Pope’s gaze, “Yes, your eminence. Last night, a few hours after the previously mentioned event, a devout believer in the slums was killed,” he said pensively.

“What is so extraordinary about this event that we must speak about it so early in the morning?” the Pope asked.

“Well… a Speaker has claimed that the killers were… extradimensionals…” he admitted with a fearful face. 

The Pope stared at the man for a moment before laying his head in his hand, ‘This is going to be a long meeting…’ the Pope thought.

*=====*

[Good Morning, Olsvania! I’m your radio host, Dan Johnson, and we have some pretty interesting news today!

First up: the Pure Youth is organizing a baseball game in the Owen Avenue Lot! Anyone can join a league according to your age and the order is based on your age. The youngest league, 5-9 years old, will be playing their matches today. The next league, 9-13 years old, will be playing their matches tomorrow. The last league, 14-17 years old, will be playing their matches tomorrow. If you want to sign your kids up for a league, now’s your chance!

For our next piece of news, we have a tragic tale. Early this morning, our friend and neighbor, Joshua of the Mana Wire Mill, was brutally murdered during his god-given mission to exterminate the corrupt demi-humans from the world. For the sake of the viewer, we will not be showing what was done to him, but-]

“What!? Joshua was killed!?” a man sitting at the diner’s bar yelled out, drawing the attention of the rest of the establishment.

“Pipe down, man, I’m trying to pay my respects,” a young man rebuked.

The first man turned his attention to the rest of the patrons, who were glaring at him with annoyance. “Sorry…” he muttered.

[-and with that said, let us give a moment of silence to the brave hero, the upstanding citizen, and the friend Joshua.]

With those words said, the people in the diner bowed their heads in prayer for a moment.

[Enforcers have declared a state of high alert due to the brutality of the case and advises citizens to be on the lookout for any demi-humans that believe they can lay claim to any part of our fine city. For your safety, please report any demi-human or demi-human sympathiser to your local enforcement station immediately.

Unfortunately, my faithful comrades, we have more bad news for you today. Last night, in a raid against the terrorist organization ‘The Tunnel Rats,’ nine enforcers were slaughtered in cold blood. The perpetrator has been identified as Mary Grant, the adoptive daughter of the demi-human Arthur Grant. She has stolen a Purity Union close-combat sword and is on the loose in the slums. The enforcers recommend avoidance of the slums, not only due to the murderer Mary Grant but due to the large number of demi-human sympathisers that still infest the area. 

I now ask you, dear citizens, how is it that a young woman, not even a year out of school, can slaughter enforcers of the law and not feel any emotion about it? If you were to ask me, I think it’s because of her upbringing. We all know the tendency of cyclops to be violent and cruel, so it stands to reason that the barbaric habits of an inferior and corrupted race would spread to those who they raise, right? I truly admire the luck of those who have met relatively peaceful cyclops before the Day of Purity and the ascension of Pope Helix the First, God bless his piety and intellect; they’re quite a rare breed of savage.]

A woman, sitting at the end of the diner’s bar, snorted, “It’s a damn wonder those inferiors haven’t been driven to extinction yet,” she said.

The young man who scolded the man turned to her from his breakfast sandwich, “I’d agree, but it’s in the blood of inferiors to run from an angered superior and to gain favor from a sympathetic superior. We’ve been rightfully angered and they scurried away like the rats they are,” he spat out, muted laughter arising from the other patrons.

An old man sitting at a booth near the corner of the room turned his head toward the young man, “Eh, you kids don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, drawing confused stares.

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“The hell do you mean, old man?” another woman sitting at the bar asked.

He looked at her and laughed, “Heh heh… you kids don’t know about the time when no one cared about being a demi or not,” he said wistfully, “Ahh… I can remember it now… I worked with a goblin myself. She was a piece of work, but she was quite the comedian.”

The patrons stared at him with growing anger, and the man who lamented the death of Joshua worked up the sense to speak, “You mean you… you’re a demi-human sympathiser, aren’t you?” he asked in horror. The rest of the patrons widened their eyes in blatant horror and rage.

The old man’s face slowly contorted into one of rage as he shouted at them all, “So what if I don’t like you f****** children killing innocent people in the streets!? You should all be ashamed of yourselves! You kill and burn but don’t realize what you’re actually doing- ARGH!” he cried as a bolt of electricity, shot from a button on someone’s jacket, hit his chest. His body fell limp and convulsed as electricity ran through him. 

As if a dam broke, the crowd of men and women rushed forward to get the man. They all screamed and shouted, but the young man sitting at the bar eventually held the man by the scruff of his neck and yanked him behind him, “Come on! Let’s get this filthy sympathiser to the enforcers! If we’re lucky, he’ll be cleansed before any of us have to get to work!” he shouted, inspiring cheers from the crowd. They immediately rushed out of the diner and into the streets, heading toward the enforcement station.

As the diner emptied, the only people left were a man sitting at the counter and a staff waitress standing next to the coffee machine, filling up a cup of coffee. The sudden silence was broken as the man placed his fork down on the counter, “Is this really the best of ideas? Can’t we do anything else?” he asked the waitress.

Without turning, the waitress spoke to him, “It’s all we can do, y’know? Helix has his claws so deep in those types that we have to get rid of them somehow. Don’t worry about Vanessa, though. She has escaped from entire enforcement stations before, so staying just far enough away to puppet the guy is child’s play for her,” she explained.

The man sighed and drank a sip of coffee, “I know, but… it just feels wrong.”

“I know it does, but it’s all we can do. We-”

[-AND ALL OF YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHY WE MUST DO THIS! IT IS OUR HOLY MISSION! IT IS-]

The crazed rambling was cut off by the waitress, as she slammed the power button and turned the radio off. “A brief respite,” the man said.

She chuckled, “A break is never unappreciated. Enjoy it while it lasts, you’ve got another five hours for your shift,” she taunted.

“Not as bad as you, though,” he responded, “You listen to that crap all day, every day. How do you get used to it?”

“Dunno. Once you’re forced to attend enough ‘cleansings’ you get desensitised from the whole thing. It’s still disgusting, but… whatever.”

The man shrugged, “I don’t envy you, that’s for sure.”

“Neither do I,” she laughed, “Alright, let’s get back into it; they’ll be back before too long,” she said as she turned the radio back on.

[Ahem… I apologize for my outburst, fellow citizens. We all have our emotions, but I let mine out to the detriment of civility. Apologies. Anyway, we’ll be back with the weather in just a few moments, and as always, stay pure.]

*=====*

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Heh heh…69… funny number. Get your mind out of the gutter.


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