Chapter 324: Fog of Exhaustion

on July 15, 2016 in Volume 2 Book 10: Lucky Thing, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Overextends Herself

Let me start by saying that in retrospect, canceling the elemental enchantment I had woven on my leg and just getting up and getting my mirror would have been the smartest thing to do.

It wasn’t even just the smartest thing to do, but the very singular and very definite smart thing to do… the only move that made any sense. Yeah, it might have aggravated things a little in the short term, but if I had committed myself to doing it I might have found some way to minimize or mitigate that, and even if I didn’t, so what? The exertion wouldn’t last long, and then it would be over and done with, and I’d have plenty of energy to redo my spells.

That isn’t what happened, though. The problem arose while I was still in full-on clever problem-solving mode, and so I was determined to come up with a clever magical solution.

Obviously spells exist for remotely manipulating, levitating, and conjuring objects to your hand. I’d never studied them in any kind of organized fashion, though. I had improvised a suitable effect by creating patterns of wind, but usually with something sturdier than a mirror, often something bigger, and never with something that was sitting on a cluttered desk covered with many other similarly sized and lighter objects.

This wasn’t to say that I didn’t give it the proverbial college try, at least with a cautious nudge. When the papers ruffled and started to slide away but the mirror remained where it was, I backed off of that idea pretty quickly.

But the larger idea that I could figure out a way to put my magical skills together to get the mirror to me was already planted in my mind, and I wasn’t about to give it up.

It’s exactly the kind of thing that if you read it in a story, it would make you stop and yell, “What the fuck?” if not throw the book across the room. It’s also exactly the sort of thing that’s all too plausible if you’ve ever been tired or in pain and stuck in bed. You get an idea in your head and once you’ve accepted the basic notion, you don’t question it.

The first thing I tried was more of the most basic form of enchantment, trait enhancement. My arm was far too short to reach the desk but that was another way of saying that it wasn’t long enough… and length was something I could play with. I’d managed to make my staff shrink and grow, after all.

An arm… an arm is not a staff. I think my capacity for increasing its length would have run out before I reached the object of my quest, but I had to stop before I found out. There was something way too… disconcerting about it. I watched my arm extend, but it looked too wrong, so I closed my eyes, and it felt wrong.

The sensation would be hard to describe. If you’ve ever had one arm in hot water and the other in cold, like when you’re in a pool with an adjacent hot tub and you’re leaning on the edge or something, it was a bit like that, but not just for temperature… for everything. The feel of air against my skin. The feel of my skin. My sense of space and the arrangement of my body within it.

I actually felt weirdly like the world was tipping either forward and backward, and my distended arm was either pulling me over into an abyss, or was the only thing that was letting me hold on while the rest of me dropped away.

I guess the short way to describe it would be that everything was out of balance, everything was out of whack. I guess the even shorter way was that it felt wrong.

I couldn’t let go of the spell quickly enough to avoid serious disorientation for several minutes that followed. I kept looking at my right arm, trying to make sure that it really was the right size, the same as my left.

I knew my arm didn’t actually grow in the physical sense. Changing its property of length at a fundamental level is more like distorting the way it manifests… a more all-encompassing version of looking at through a watery surface or in a fun-house mirror.

With the magical spell that was making it longer gone, it was the same exact length it had always been… but having gone from not really being aware of how my arm feels to being hyperaware of it and then back, I couldn’t be one hundred percent certain that it felt normal.

The general sleep deprivation certainly didn’t help anything, which is probably why I didn’t immediately dismiss the next idea that popped into my head: if I couldn’t make my arm longer, why not make the room smaller?

It didn’t seem completely unreasonable. I mean, I’d done space-distorting spells on containers before, on a smaller scale. Sometimes you needed a bigger pocket. It was trickier than making the thing that went into the pocket smaller, but far more efficient in the long run than doing that with everything that might go into the pocket.

Of course, if you were literally just making a pocket bigger, you’d wind up with an oversized pocket, which might work for some applications, especially if you didn’t care about the lines of your outfit. I didn’t like to care about the lines of my outfit. I didn’t like to think of myself as the kind of person who cared about the lines of my outfit. I actually wasn’t entirely sure what the phrase even meant. However, I had reluctantly conceded that the sorts of clothes I liked to wear when I was feeling good about myself didn’t look very good with lopsided pockets full of enchanter gear.

So I had done a few short-term spatial distortion spells, making the space inside my pocket a little bit bigger than it was without affecting the outside dimensions.

It wasn’t that hard. It was harder to affect the dimensions of space than the dimensions of a thing within space. The really tricky thing was managing the interface between the altered space and the unaltered space outside it.

I got as far as considering what that would mean with regards to a single room nested into the side of a multistory building… and in particular, would it would mean if I screwed up… before I gave up the idea.

I had actually torn a favorite pair of jeans the first time I’d tried to turn the useless stubby little pocket attached for some reason to the real pocket into a holster for my wand. My second attempt I’d tried to err on the side of caution and somehow turned the garment completely inside out.

On the plus side, imagining that happening to Gilcrease Tower completely made me forget about how my arm felt.

It’s doubtful I had the magical power to do that. In fact, no matter how deep my personal reserves were, I probably would have run out of oomph before I managed to contract the space inside the room by more than a few inches.

But that wouldn’t necessarily protect me or anyone else in the building in the event of a spectacular misfire, it would just make it that much less likely I would survive.

Still, the more things I came up with that seemed like they almost should have worked, if only the situation had been slightly different or some fundamental law of magic could have been slightly changed, the less inclined I was to give up.

I couldn’t animate an object, though that should have worked. Even if I couldn’t imbue the compact with flight, I could have at least walked the desk over to me… and that had me thinking about whether I could make it move by selectively shortening and lengthening the legs.

That seemed like it should work, and I even tried it… but I wasn’t using enchanting something that wasn’t close enough to put my hands on, even if I didn’t actually physically touch it. Trying to do it at a distance was draining and imprecise.

I managed it! Sort of. But I didn’t have the kind of control I liked, it was burning off my energy faster than I expected, and, when you get right down it, I didn’t have a very clear idea in my head to achieve the locomotion I desired with simple up and down motion of the legs. I more made the desk wobble violently in place, further disturbing the stuff on it.

I’d already used up more magical power than I did most days, but I had nothing else to do with it and no plans beyond resting.

If I couldn’t bring the mirror to me, maybe I could go to the mirror… no, I hadn’t dropped my determination to solve my problems with magic. I just flipped back to my original idea of using elemental magic.

If I couldn’t safely levitate the mirror, maybe I could levitate myself over to it?

It’s not the kind of idea I would have considered if I hadn’t been up for most of the night, severely frustrated, and generally stymied, but I did more than consider it. I tried it.

My first attempt was little more than a spinning cushion of air underneath me that almost blew the covers off the bed, but did nothing move me. Well, of course. A normal wind couldn’t blow me over, much less lift me.

I had a moment where I was trying to figure out what kind of tornado-strength winds it would take to lift a person of my size before I realized all of the problems inherent in that notion… and then another moment where I weighed whether it would be worth it anyway.

No, I realized, it wouldn’t be. The fact was, I was just too heavy to make this idea work.

But I could do something about that.

The weight of an object was a factor of its elemental properties. The average mortal body… along with most physical objects… would fall towards the earth because it was mostly of the earth. Even fire, water, and air-aligned humanoids still had a lot of earth-stuff in their make-up. We were all basically dust and clay when you got right down to it.

But I had a strong affinity for fire, and fire was the lightest element. It had the highest place in the strata of elements.

By both lowering my weight as a physical property and increase the lightness-aspect of my fire element, I could come at the problem from two sides and hopefully find a balance that would let me float in the air without completely disorienting me or setting the room on fire.

…again, in retrospect, this was still not my best idea. But at the time? It seemed like it would work, and that was all I had the capacity to care about.

I edged my weight down. I edged my… for lack of a better term… liftingness up. I felt my body lightening. It was… well, it felt strange, but not uncomfortably weird in the way that the distended arm had felt. I felt light, giddy. Pumping energy into anything connected with fire made me feel both powerful and also somehow more myself.

Bit by bit, I felt myself lifting up off the mattress… but one bit stayed stubbornly behind. The lighter I got, the heavier my leg felt.

Damn it.

My stoned leg had so little sensation in it that I had kind of forgotten it was there. Now it felt like an anchor, holding me down. With a mental snarl of frustration, I attacked the binding that held that spell in place… and the sensation that had been blocked away came flooding back with such a vengeance that I lost concentration on my other two spells.

I fell heavily on the bed, letting out a little scream in a mixture of pain and shock.

Fortunately, that’s the point where I came to my senses. Without the elemental binding keeping my leg locked in place, there was no reason not to just limp on over and pick the damned thing up… particularly since I had pumped so much energy into trying to levitate myself that I wasn’t sure I could try anything else major and have enough left over to keep my leg stoned up for the rest of the day.

I did have a fleeting moment where I considered the fact that if I could levitate the mirror in a similar fashion, I could invoke a gentle breeze to blow it safely over to me once it was clear of everything else on the bed, but I managed to shake that off.

This was the real danger of being too tired to think clearly: with your judgment so impaired, you can easily wind up overextending yourself further. It wasn’t the least bit fun stumping my way over to the desk I had to sit on the chair and collect myself for a few minutes before I headed back.

Dee didn’t know how lucky she was to be psychokinetic, I thought. Imagine how easy life would be if you could just think an object to you, without having to shape magical energy or formulate a spell to make it happen. I’d always looked down at the subtle arts a little bit, in comparison to real magic, but at that moment? It really seemed like the life.

I took the time I was sitting at the desk with the mirror in my hand to send a-mails out to the professors whose classes I was missing, explaining my circumstances and asking if there was anything they would like me to do. I knew they wouldn’t be used to students laid up with injuries that couldn’t be readily healed with freely available magical remedies, so I mentioned that I had a special circumstance. I didn’t think I was required to go into more detail than that, but if anyone asked I was prepared to tell them. It was more important to me that my absence be excused.

I didn’t expect any pushback, though. Amaranth was right that I was an excellent student who could afford an absence. Anyway, I was pretty sure they all knew I was a half-demon… the half-demon… and maybe they’d be able to figure out what that meant. If not, they’d at least understand that things worked a bit differently for me than they would for the more ordinarily mortal students.

I had just sent off the last variation on my message to the last of my teachers when there was a timid, halting knock on the door.

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11 Responses to “Chapter 324: Fog of Exhaustion”

  1. Erm says:

    It’s exactly the kind of thing that if you read it in a story, it would make you stop and yell, “What the fuck?” if not throw the book across the room.

    Oh trust me, if I could throw it then it would still be lying over there from when you planned to choke yourself out with a vacuum bubble. 😛

    Current score: 8
    • Erm says:

      My arm was far too short to reach the desk but that was another way of saying that it wasn’t long enough… and length was something I could play with.

      Mack what are you doing

      Current score: 4
      • Sylvan says:

        Obviously she is playing with a part of herself and wishing it were longer.

        Current score: 8
        • Durroth says:

          Something a good portion of us do regularly

          Current score: 5
      • P says:

        ” if I couldn’t make my arm longer, why not make the room smaller?”

        oh mackenzie

        (also these post-hiatus updates have been wonderful and well worth the wait. it’s peak mu.)

        Current score: 7
        • Lyssa says:

          It really is. I’ve been enjoying the hell out of them.

          Current score: 5
  2. Leishycat says:

    In which overextends herself?

    Current score: 1
    • Mo says:

      In which Alexandra overextends herself and forgets to put Mackenzie in the sub-headline.

      Current score: 1
  3. Kobold says:

    “Dee didn’t know how lucky she was to be psychokinetic, I thought. Imagine how easy life would be if you could just think an object to you, without having to shape magical energy or formulate a spell to make it happen.”

    It’s funny how ridiculous this statement sounds to folks in a world without any magic at all.

    Current score: 4
    • zeel says:

      I also have a feeling that it isn’t nearly that simple for Dee anyway. In fact, I can feel the lecture coming. Mackenzie just has to say something like that in front of her suite mate…

      Current score: 6
  4. Zathras IX says:

    Spells for remotely
    Moving things to your hand are
    A bit of a stretch

    Current score: 6