Dee waved her hand in front of Ngaire’s face, getting no reaction. The large Dagon man seemed to be frozen mid swing, his sword coming down in a downwards strike. For good measure Dee even poked his cheek, once again getting no reaction. Ngaire’s eyes were open and staring at the spot where Dee had been standing before he suddenly froze.
“What is he seeing?” Moirai asked from the side.
For months the three had trained Dee’s ability to penetrate mental defenses while in a fight, and this was the first time Dee had succeeded. Moirai had not made it easy. The small woman was quite proud of her student, and was also curious about what Dee had done with her first access to a vulnerable but ostensibly hostile mind. The result would be very indicative of Dee’s future direction.
“Nothing.” Dee replied, somewhat distracted.
“Nothing?” Moirai asked a little confused. She had assumed Ngaire was stuck in some kind of illusion or vision, but Dee’s words indicated something else. “Explain.” She prompted Dee.
“Well, if it worked as I meant it to, and it seems to have worked just fine, his mind is completely frozen. Not like frozen in ice, but like frozen in time. It’s like his mind is not there, until I let go.” Dee frowned a bit, thinking further. “Actually it seems I could tie it off, and he’d be frozen forever. Or well, at least until his body collapses. It’s not like his body is properly frozen in time or anything.”
Dee was actually a bit surprised that Ngaire’s body had suddenly stopped mid-swing. You’d think the body would’ve still finished the motion due to momentum, but there was something here she was missing. She had felt something odd while her mental attack on Ngaire hit. Something else had moved as well. She guessed it had something to do with her holy power, but couldn’t figure out how that could be the case in a purely mental attack.
“Oh.” Moirai replied. Dee heard something in her voice. It wasn’t disappointment exactly, but it wasn’t a positive emotion either.
“You don’t sound very pleased.” Dee said simply. “Is there something wrong?”
“Not as such. It’s something I didn’t explain to you before, because it could’ve colored your actions. The first effect you cause when tampering with someone’s mind is very instinctive, and very indicative of one’s development in the future. As you might imagine, the field of mental type psionics is not just about defending your mind and attacking someone else’s. It’s much more about what you can do when you get there.” Moirai explained. Dee could read complex emotions on the other woman’s face.
“And my action somehow displeases you?” Dee asked, taking the first guess that came to mind.
“Well displeasure is perhaps the wrong word. Not aimed at you anyway. If I was displeased, it’s more with myself at having guessed so wrong. I assumed you would be the type that would use illusions and influence what your opponent sees and feels. I mean, that passive aura you have that makes people unable to notice you seems to fall into that category. But I guess I was mistaken.” Moirai said with a sigh.
Dee simply prompted Moirai to continue with a wave of her hand.
“Well, there’s three rough groups that mental psionics fall into. The stronger your tendency in one, usually the weaker you are in others. If you’re a heavily mental type psion, this might not hold true as much, but that’s the rough gist of it. The first category is perhaps the most useful, and the one I already mentioned. The people in this category are usually great at extracting information and these sorts of effects require a shallower hold over your targets mind. They can still be just as useful in battle though.
The second type is those with a tendency towards controlling the minds of their targets. This can range from taking control over a part of their body, more subtle effects like charming your target and more direct like completely dominating your target. The more powerful the effect, the deeper you need to penetrate into the target mind. As someone who places emphasis on control in your fighting, you can recognize the usefulness of a very light intrusion combined with making your opponent stumble at the right time. Again, this would’ve been my second guess for your tendency. On the flipside, I’m happy that at least you don’t show the tendency towards mental domination, as that is a dark path to tread on.
What you just did falls into the third type, which is all about directly attacking and damaging your targets mind. It’s probably the most direct, and will have the most drastic effects, but also requires a deeper penetration into their mind. At the lightest, you can do something similar to what you just did, although the effect is a quite a bit stronger than I’ve normally seen. At the heaviest your type will shred the mind of your target, essentially killing them.” Moirai finished her explanation.
“Well, you know I used to be an assassin. It shouldn’t be that big of a surprise that I’d lean this way. I’m actually surprised you let me practice on Ngaire. I could’ve killed him.” Dee replied with a tilt of her head. She was not surprised at all herself that she would lean this way.
“Well, I was actually taking precautions and protecting his mind separately against more severe effects, though I have to admit I have no idea how this managed to slip past me.” Moirai frowned again. “You can let him go now by the way.”
“Nope.” Dee refused simply. The two had been fighting for months, with Dee usually losing due to being distracted by the mental battle with Moirai. It wasn’t until lately as she grew stronger both physically and mentally that she finally managed to hold her own. Keeping Ngaire stuck like this for a while was her little petty revenge. She’d let him go when the evening came.
Moirai could guess her students thoughts and decided to leave it for now. Ngaire had taken way too much enjoyment from beating Dee, partially because of the humiliating defeat when they first fought without the mental component. This should be a lesson for him. First of many, seeing as now that Dee had succeeded once, she was prone to keep doing so over and over again. The girl had always been good enough to hold on to any advantage she once gained.
Speaking of which. “Enough about that, how is your training with the other two things going? I can do only so much to help but, I can give advice at least if you run into problems.” Moirai suggested.
Dee had asked her for lessons on power type abilities. Moirai had started her on the path of the two most versatile and useful abilities she was aware of. Those abilities were commonly known as Force control and Telekinesis among psions and other people well versed in psionic abilities. Both of those abilities could be powerful beyond belief and could reach unimaginable levels in both versatility and usefulness.
Only problem was that each psion had to find their own approach to both abilities. Because they were so versatile, each person had their own way to handle them. Moirai could set Dee on the right path and give advice and suggestions, but she couldn’t just show Dee how to do it. Their psionic energies were too different, and they had wildly differing personalities, which would affect their ability usage. So Dee was stuck on self-study for the most part.
“Well, as you guessed, the fact that my power is so thick and refined lends itself great to force control. I’ve already managed to manifest my power in many ways, and have managed to control it enough to suit my purposes, but it needs more time before I can actually make something useful out of it.” Dee said in a rather positive voice.
Force control was an ability very suited for Dee’s purposes, which was good since that was also Moirai’s strongest ability. Thus her teacher could give a lot of suggestions about possible avenues of approach and possible uses. Force control was a blanket term for a wide group of abilities based on the same principle. You forcefully manifested a large amount of raw psionic energy and forced that power to behave in a certain way to achieve your purposes. Hence the name.
How that worked in practice depended on how you did it. That power could manifest as a storm of psionic energy, or a burst of kinetic energy, or any number of hundreds if not thousands of other ways. It was a little like how some mages that had achieved a mastery of an element and could mold that element into anything they could think of, instead of just casting spells. Only in this case the power was much more wild and harder to control.
The powerful energy that Moirai had used to push the lich into a wall when she had saved Dee had been one way to use force control as had been that dangerous ball of energy that had finally killed the lich. With enough power, you could use force control to bend the very fabric of space. Dee secretly thought that the weird portal Moirai had used was also derived from this same ability, just taken to one extreme.
Dee had a rather easy time with this ability due to how thick and refined her psionic energy was. As a result she didn’t have to use as much power to achieve the same effect as another psion would, and thus it was easier to control. She had already showed great strides in manifesting her power in various ways, only the control part was still lacking. She could cause a storm of psionic energy strong enough to rip a small forest to pieces, but that’s because it was perhaps the easiest way to use that ability as she only needed to throw enough raw power at it, and then exert barely enough control to not get caught in the storm herself. Beyond that, she hadn’t managed anything useful yet, but she was getting there.
As was usually the case, the power and versatility came with a tradeoff. As you were basically throwing raw power at problems and barely controlling it, the method was far from efficient. It was quite the opposite in fact. Force control was one of the most wasteful uses of psionic power. You might be able to manifest great power, but you would lose any battle of attrition ten times out of ten against almost any similar level mage, warrior or psion using other abilities. Of course, the more control you could manage to exert, the less wasteful it became, but even at best of times force control couldn’t be called efficient.
“And the telekinesis?” Moirai asked, already guessing the answer.
Dee simply grimaced as a reply. Nothing further needed to be said.
Where her thick and refined power was an advantage when it came to force control, it was a real detriment with telekinesis. Where the former ability was all about power and just enough control to achieve the effect you wanted, telekinesis was all about control and careful management of power. There was a reason why Moirai had taught both of these abilities to Dee. The two abilities overlapped and complemented each other. Used together they were even more powerful.
When using telekinesis, Dee felt like an ogre in a glass building. It was a tad hard to try and learn to move objects around with your mind, when those objects kept getting destroyed by being squeezed too hard by her power. It was like a giant trying to pick up flowers. Yes you managed to pick them, or what’s left of them anyway, if you were careful but the flowers got destroyed along the way. In addition, when she moved something, it got tossed around with a burst of speed instead of gently moving as intended.
Now that could be a good thing too as part of the offensive strength of telekinesis came from trying to crush things, but any powerful individual would be able to use their own power to resist against such crushing force. It was more effective to use force control if that was your goal. That’s why those with telekinetic abilities rather focused either on throwing things at their enemy or squeezing at a single point like the carotid artery of your enemy, instead of crushing your enemy as a whole.
Dee didn’t have the necessary control for either. If she tried to hurl something, the object she used would be crushed, and if she tried the squeezing something, it was like using a giant hand to accomplish something that should be done with two tiny fingers. In other words, she was stuck. It wasn’t that there was no way she could improve her control, but that she didn’t really have the chance to without destroying whatever she wanted to train with.
“Well, now you see why I wanted you to train the two abilities together. The minute control you learn with telekinesis will serve you well with force control. In theory at least.” Moirai also grimaced. She had known Dee would struggle with control, but she hadn’t quite realized how badly. This was the first time she had met someone that had refined their power to this extent and Dee’s lack of earlier training with less refined power was now coming back to haunt her. “Maybe you need a change of perspective. Sometimes focusing on a problem too deeply will blind you to other solutions that might be right in front of you. Have a break. Go eat Mina’s cooking and clear your head.”
Moirai had no way of knowing that her randomly given advice would end up changing the fate of both Pantheon and the universe at large.
Mina found Dee in her garden practicing with an intense glare in her eyes. Dee stared at a crumbled piece of metal that might have been a dagger at some point. “What do you have there?” Mina asked with a cheerful smile.
“One of the daggers I asked some of the blacksmiths to make for me for practice. Or what’s left of it anyway.” Dee replied with a sigh, letting her frustrations flow out. Mina’s presence always calmed her somehow.
“Seems you need more practice. I’m assuming that’s not the most optimal way to utilize daggers. I mean I’m not an expert, but I would imagine a crushed heap of metal is less than optimal as far as daggers go.” Mina joked.
“Flimsy piece of trash metal.” Dee cursed in a rather quiet voice.
“I thought you were something of an expert with daggers? And didn’t you already have your own? I seem to remember that you have much more beautiful daggers of your own. So why a flimsy piece of trash metal like that?” Mina asked, genuinely curious now.
“I’m not going to waste my own daggers for this practice.” Dee said and then explained her problem with a few short sentences.
Mina thought for a moment. “So let me get this straight. Your mental power is so strong that anything you try to practice on end up like that?”
“And you can’t learn better control when things keep getting destroyed?” Mina asked again.
Dee nodded again.
“Why don’t you train with something more durable? Get something like a huge chunk of iron to practice with.” Mina suggested.
“It isn’t quite that simple. I can’t get any proper feedback that way. I can’t learn to control my strength properly if I can’t see or feel the differences in what I’m doing. Ideally I would use something soft like a fruit or a sponge, but with even steel ending up like this…it would be even better if I could do something where I can feel the difference like using my own body, but that seems like a really bad idea. I may regenerate quickly, but I’m not a masochist.” Dee explained a little frustrated.
Mina thought for a moment before coming up with another suggestion. “How about using your own power to practice with?”
“How do you mean?” Dee asked with a frown, getting the sudden feeling that Mina was on to something important she herself had missed.
“Well, I’ve seen you create weapons out of your own psionic energy. Could you create something you could practice with as well? I mean, I can only speak from a magic point of view, but I would imagine you would be able to feel the amount of pressure exerted since it’s still your own power.” Mina tilted her head a bit while lost in thought.
Dee’s eyes grew large. It wasn’t just that she realized that Mina’s suggestion might work, her mind had already considered that possibility and realized it would work as soon as Mina had said the first sentence. No, Dee’s mind was already on the further implications Mina’s words had given. Dee had always been vaguely aware of the possibility of using her abilities together, but mostly in sequence instead of actually combining them.
That’s not really using her abilities together though. That was just using them in conjunction and maybe at the same time. What about actually fusing several abilities together? She had always had some minor control over the psionic arrows she shot or psionic daggers she threw, but that was marginal at best. What if she created a weapon out of her psionic power, and controlled it with telekinesis, like she would control a sword in her hands? Could she create and control more than one? How many? A dozen flying daggers moving at her command? More?
“Dee? Dee!” Mina poked at Dee’s cheek, but the kitsune girl was completely lost in thought. Mina had never seen Dee quite like that. Her prodding finally succeeded in bringing Dee back to reality though.
All of these were intriguing possibilities, but would any of it work in practice? Could she achieve control like that? Suddenly a dagger formed from her bluish psionic energy appeared above Dee’s hand. She tossed it into the air, where it suddenly froze. The psionic dagger was being crushed from all directions by heavy telekinetic power, however the dagger was not damaged at all.
“It seems my own power really doesn’t damage something made from that same power. Interesting. I can even feel the exact amount of power used. This is excellent. Perfect for training.” Dee kept mumbling to herself.
“Seems you found the solution you were looking for.” Mina said with a smile. “I’ll cook us a little something to celebrate.” She knew Dee’s fondness for her cooking.
Suddenly Dee looked at Mina with an intense look that actually made the latter one take a step back instinctively. However, Dee was much faster as she rapidly scooped Mina up and gave her a big celebratory kiss straight on the mouth.
“Thank you, thank you! You have no idea how much you just helped me. I’ll have to repay this later.” Dee said hurriedly and then dashed off for more testing.
Mina just stood there confused. “O…k…you’re welcome I guess.” She was a little weirded out by being kissed, though it didn’t really carry any romantic overtone in her mind, partially because it was odd to be kissed by someone with a canine nose and mouth. “Wait, you don’t want food?” She suddenly yelled after the already disappeared Dee.
Something important enough to make Dee forget her cooking?