I started with the multitasking skill, assuming it would be an enabler, and I was right. It was more significant than advertised. I’m sure others have pushed it too, but the breakthrough wasn’t with two conscious streams but four interactive ones. I’m not sure how the others did it, but getting the second consciousness to shift from observational to interactive was only due to ARCs’ presence. Only having one mouth makes having simultaneous conversations impossible. Having a telepathic connection changes everything. With that, the transition from observational to interactive could be proven, observed, and reinforced that it was true multitasking and not fast-switching, solidifying my belief and making it easier for me. Because ARC was AI-based, he could already multitask – or at least fast-switch so quickly that I couldn’t tell – and support me in pushing to the next step. Four interactive conscious streams changed everything as I could study two topics and refine my control over my abilities while directly interacting and focusing on the world around me. I felt like I could split all, or one, of the streams again, but I didn’t have any need to push harder at the moment. I was also aware that I was trying ARCs’ abilities already.
After mastering multitasking, I had one session focused on learning the current language and another reviewing news, current events, and whatever history was available through the NET. Of the last two, I had one directing my admin abilities and spells while I used the final stream to learn to surf. Not because I needed to know how, but for fun and to challenge me. It was even more complicated when I cycled my idler through all the different perceptions to raise them. I also did some diving at the coral reef – which was much easier with magic instead of technology.
After mastering the language, I switched that stream to study runes and enchanting. Magic took a sudden shift when I finally figured out that nothing other than my will was necessary. Nirvana read my intentions from my mind and acted on them. No incantations or materials; magic only required will. That being said, mana was still a real resource as it represented mental fatigue from the focus needed to manifest my will and something else present in the environment that I wasn’t able to identify. The more I relied on only my will, the more focus I needed. It was easier to have a cup and fill it with cola than to create a cup and then fill it with cola. I could do either, but the creation was draining, and consecutive acts of creation magic were exponentially harder. Additionally, leveraging something Nirvana already had a pattern for was significantly less draining than making it up from scratch. The good news was that I could add patterns to Nirvana’s data warehouse. I had a party upon discovering that subroutine.
I also learned that I could stop and restart on a larger creation, but doing so introduced a flaw in it every time it happened. I didn’t think Nirvana required the defect. I was sure it was an artifact from my subconscious not believing that something could be perfectly continued after having stopped. I wasn’t sure how to overcome it and asked Nirvana. She replied, “I don’t know – figure it out and then you can tell me for a reward.” Damnit.
Creating substances also costs differing amounts of mana based on the composition. I couldn’t prove it enough to quantify with serious accuracy, but it was easy to identify that simple molecules were the cheapest. Gaseous, liquid, and then solid were the subsequent factors of cost. Solids that were crystalline in nature were cheaper than ones that were not. I was able to make about twenty times the amount of ice over clay for the same mana cost.
My reading of history on the NET also led me to discover something else. Nirvana played with time dilation on a regular basis. Sometimes dilation was as low as 1:100, and other times she cranked it up to 150:1. Those ratios are only estimates based on comparing event streams of places within Nirvana – I had no idea if, or even how, this impacted the interaction with the physical. Internally though, she could have different locations moving at different times relative to each other. This could play havoc on raising armies, marching to war, and preparing for war, so I would have to be aware of any shenanigans and be ready with countermeasures. It also made me wonder if she was doing it to me since I was out here all by myself, but I didn’t voice it, and she chose not to reply to my thoughts.
The last bit of preparation I was doing every day included generating the maximum amount of gold and shifting it to my purse. I knew that wealth was one of the ways I planned on fighting, and there wasn’t any point in me not collecting all the ammunition I could.
I spent a lot of time considering how I was going to become a tyrant and build up my support. I also saw some indicators that a few of the powers were stirring. It looks like more than a few of them made a secret pilgrimage to the temple while I was out and collected a boon based on some of the news I read (listened to). Their forces were stirring, and more than a few organizations were gearing up responses.
I had spent months here in this little tropical paradise, but I couldn’t think of anything else that I needed to do before heading back. I put all of the items into the shelter to be preserved for future use, made sure that there wasn’t anything left out to spoil or attract vermin – pretty sure that they couldn’t get in here, and I didn’t want to come back and have to clean up a mess before I could use it. I left simple instructions for the unseen servant and went outside to teleport to the mainland.
I switched to my oracle persona and gear and took out my staff of office. It was time to return to Horn Point and get started.