When Nova woke up, she felt off. She couldn’t quite explain it but she felt weaker and her mind groggier. Rubbing her forehead, she sat up and looked around. Nothing was out of place. She looked down at herself and she looked the same.
“Shower,” she said. Maybe she just needed something to wake her up. Unfortunately, she remembered that there was no shower in Mathius’s home. “Bath will have to do.”
Beside her, she heard movement and turned to see Briney. The kraken was looking at her strangely. She squinted at him. “Shards?”
Briney just looked at her. Shaking her head, she climbed off the bed and went to where she left the shards. She pulled out the bag and took out three and then went back to Briney. As soon as she held out the crystal shards, Briney snatched them up in his tentacles and shoved them into his beak.
Nova chuckled and then picked Briney up, grabbed her clothes, and made her way to the bath. As she crossed the room she tried to be as quiet as possible, not wanting to wake Mathius. Honestly, she was surprised he wasn’t up yet. Today was the day they started on the explorer’s guild.
In the bathroom, she pushed the blue stone and watched it light up. Water began to fill the tub. Briney immediately jumped into the tub. Nova laughed and took the opportunity to take care of some morning business. Once the tub was filled, she tapped the red stone. The stone flared up brightly.
She started to undress when a sharp screech sounded in the air. Nova dropped her hands away from her shift and jerked her head up. Briney had jumped out of the tub and was angrily screeching. Nova hurried to his side.
“What is it?” Nova asked, but as she got closer, she figured out exactly what it was. She could feel the heat from the water. She glanced at the red stone. It was still glowing and the water was starting to bubble.
“What the hell?” She pushed the white crystal. The mana crystal began to glow and a soft humming came from it as it grew brighter and brighter. Nova’s eyes widened and she grabbed Briney and dashed out of the room.
Nova grabbed the table and knocked it to the floor, putting it on its side, and hiding behind it. She got behind it just in time. A loud explosion sounded from the bathroom as the tub exploded. Pieces of wood flew through the air, slamming against the table and walls, and shredding the drapes separating the bathroom.
There was the slap of feet and Mathius appeared from behind one of the drapes. He said something but Nova couldn’t understand him. She rubbed at her ears, wondering if the explosion had damaged her hearing. She didn’t hear any ringing in her ears which was lucky in itself.
“What did you say?” Nova asked, standing up from behind the table.
Mathius frowned and spoke again. Nova recognized he was saying words but she couldn’t understand any of them. “I don’t understand you?” Nova said, wondering if he had slipped into a different language.
Mathius shook his head, looking confused, and spoke again.
Nova stared at Mathius blankly and then a realization slowly began to dawn on her. She couldn’t understand Mathius because he was speaking in another language.
Several aspects of your system will be unavailable.
“Shit!” Nova said. She quickly pulled up her system, relieved she could even do that. The blue screen floated in front of her but there was no information, just a single message.
[Diagnostic check in progress. 186 hours until completion.]
Nova groaned. She knew she should have waited but it never occurred to her that the system was the reason she could speak the language.
“This is a disaster.”
There was a knock at the door and Mathius said something to her before going to the door. Nova went back into her room. She needed to think. Not knowing the language was going to be a huge issue. How was she going to communicate with Mathius? Not to even mention working with Tinle next week.
“I really didn’t think this through,” Nova said.
A soft squeak went up next to her and she looked to see Briney rubbing his face against her arm. She reached out and patted the kraken. She couldn’t help smiling at his attempt to comfort her. As she looked at him a new idea came to mind.
“Briney, can you connect to Jace? I’ll give you another shard,” Nova said.
Briney let out a happy squawk.
At least he can still understand me.
She grabbed the pouch and fished out a shard, handing it to Briney. The kraken gobbled it up and then plopped down on the bed. Nova sat down on the bed. Briney let out a squeak and blinked at her.
A wave of nervousness went through her when she heard Jace’s voice. She just hoped he understood her but if not him there was still Miko. “Can you understand me?”
There was a long pause. “Yes. Is there something wrong, lass?”
Relief flooded Nova and she laughed. “You will not believe the morning I had.” She then went on to explain about the bathtub exploding and how she had basically locked herself out of the language.
There was a pause and then Jace burst out laughing. “You really know how to get yourself in trouble. There’s always a new story with you.”
“Jace, be nice,” Miko said in the background.
“What? It’s true, ain’t it? She’s fought golems, been chased by guards, and now this?” Jace said with another chuckle.
Nova gave an exasperated sigh. “Yes, yes, so hilarious. My issue is I can’t do much if I can’t communicate. Not to mention what else having my system offline might do.”
“Hmm, that’s true. Have you tried out any of your abilities yet?” Jace asked.
Nova bit her lip. “Let me try.”
She focused on her mana sight. At first, there was a hint of light, and then suddenly the light expanded and her entire vision was covered in lights so bright it felt like someone was stabbing her in the brain. She tried closing her eyes but the lights didn’t vanish, they just grew brighter until it felt like her insides were being cooked by tiny suns. She screamed and covered her eyes.
Turn it off. Turn it off.
“Nova! What happened? Are you all right, lass?”
She could hear Jace but the light was everywhere. Even with her eyes closed and with her hands pressed over them she could still see it. Everywhere and overwhelming and she felt like her eyes must be bleeding.
There was the slap of feet and then she heard the drapes being pulled away. “Nova!” She felt hands on her shoulder and a gentle voice calling her name.
Slowly, the light faded. Her head pounded but the pain in her eyes eased away. Slowly, she pulled her hands away and opened her eyes. Mathius was kneeling beside her with a worried look on his face. He said something but she couldn’t understand him.
She groaned. “I’m all right…I think.” She waved her hand over her face. Her vision wavered and then stabilized.
“What in the pits happened?” Jace demanded.
Mathius jerked up and looked around before his attention landed on Briney.
Welp that’s one secret out.
“Mathius meet Jace,” Nova said, rubbing her eyes.
“Nice to meet you, Mathius. I’ve heard a lot about you,” Jace said cheerfully.
Mathius’s eyes widened and he pointed at Briney and spoke.
“No, no,” Jace said. “Briney can’t talk. I’m talking through him. Name’s Jace.”
Mathius frowned and looked at Nova and spoke. Nova didn’t need to understand him to know he was angry.
“Sorry, my boy, but she has no clue what you’re saying. Her system is busy fixing itself. You’re literally speaking another language.”
“Jace,” Nova said in warning.
“What? He’s going to figure it out anyway.”
Mathius snapped out something.
“Hey, don’t take this out on me. I’m just the messenger,” Jace said.
Nova groaned and rubbed her forehead. “Jace, can you translate what I’m saying to Mathius?”
“Thanks. Okay. Um, so Mathius, sorry about this. It looks like my magic is a little broken at the moment and I’m waiting for it to fix itself. I didn’t know that it would cause my communication to just stop like this.”
Jace translated and Mathius frowned. He said something to Jace who said something back.
“What is it?” Nova asked.
“He’s wondering who I am so I told him,” Jace said.
Nova narrowed her eyes. “And what did you say?”
“That I am your incredibly handsome friend and dashing rescuer.”
Nova rolled her eyes. “Please Jace. I don’t need you feeding him bad information.”
Mathius cut in.
“He wants to know if you can still use mana,” Jace said, his voice sounding worried. “What happened to you when you tried using it? You started screaming.”
“I tried using my mana sight and everything was blinding then I felt pain. Like someone was hammering a spike through my eye and straight into my brain.”
“That was an especially vivid description,” Jace said.
“Imagine actually having to feel it,” Nova said with a dry laugh. “In any case, I’m not sure what that means besides don’t use mana sight.” She paused as a thought occurred to her.
She could hear Mathius say something and Jace responding but Nova was already lost in thought. Her mana sight was out of control and when she touched the bathtub the crystals exploded. She thought she knew what was going on.
“I didn’t lose my magic,” Nova said. “I think it’s the opposite. I think I’m unable to control it.”
“Oh! Well, that could be a problem. Do you want me to tell your fella that?”
“He’s not my fella,” Nova said, annoyed before turning the question over. She could keep it a secret but she wasn’t sure how long it would last. “Tell him.”
Jace spoke to Mathius who got a pensive look on his face, nodded, and then said something to Jace.
“He said you’ll work around it?”
“What?” Nova said. “He can’t possibly mean he wants to continue working on the guild.”
“I think that’s exactly what he wants,” Jace said before translating what she said back to Mathius.
Mathius nodded firmly and spoke.
“He said you have a deal.”
“Seriously?” Nova threw her hands up. “Fine! Whatever. Just let me get cleaned up and we can go.”
Jace translated and Mathius nodded and stood up, leaving the room.
“You gave in rather quickly,” Jace said.
Nova shrugged. “He’s right. We had a deal.” Besides, she hadn’t forgotten about the quest. She was on a deadline if she wanted to get the rewards. She just hoped it would be worth it.
“I don’t mind playing translator for you but Briney can’t hold up the connection indefinitely,” Jace said.
Nova wilted at that. She had hoped. “I understand. I’ll probably still use you to translate but only when I really need it.”
“That works for me. You might want to give Briney a few extra shards to keep up.”
“Will do and thanks, Jace.”
“Anytime,” Jace said.
This time when the connection ended Nova could feel it. She wondered what that meant. She never felt it before. She sighed and went back to her pouch and pulled out a few shards. She handed them to Briney who ate them quickly and seemed to immediately perk up.
She pulled up her system screen and sighed as she read the message.
[Diagnostic check in progress. 185 hours until completion.]
She knew she needed to get the errors fixed but she was starting to think this had been very bad timing on her part. She closed the window.
“Time to get started.”
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