After stubbornly wasting half a day trying to come up with a better solution, I gave in and created a [Sentient Golem] to help shade the sprout.
I didn’t really want to give up, but all of the other ideas I had seemed too labor intensive. As the sun moved throughout the day, I got worried I would either shade too much, or too little. Eventually, I elected to “contract out” the work, if possible.
Still… It wasn’t what I expected.
Short the Fire magic I have, I never really dived too deep into “premade” spells.
I mean, I remember seeing them. They were always there, in the menu. Not that the Menu seems to be letting me at them now.
[RESTRICTED ACCESS] [!]
No, that menu hates me.
[!] [!] [!]
Anyways, activating the spell, I got to see something I’m not super used to.
I saw what the Magic wanted.
Like a shortcut, it simply “was.” As in: “This is what the spell will be doing now, so you just gotta give it mana, and wait.”
Fundamentally different from most of the basic magic I’ve gotten used to.
I mean, yes it still activates, but the control is different.
I’ve seen humans use this sort of thing. Young Gandalf did it more than a few times. Eveth did with several of her spells, though she was probably less dependent on it than most.
If I were to call this anything, it’s the “cheat” version of Magic.
With little to no input on my part, the basic figure it began to form was nothing more than a printed template. All the tiny nitty-gritty work rushed off along that plan immediately.
Mana was sapped, as it began to rise up to meet my scaled intentions and mana contributions. With no suggestions from myself, for the sole exception of general size and scale, the creature formed up. I watched, I learned, I didn’t so much follow the instructions, as I did interpret them as they went along.
One minute later, it was pretty much all there.
Slow magic, then.
Wasn’t a fan of the speed, but once it came to the looks and cosmetics…
It was, I’ll put this frankly: hideous.
A poorly molded head, lumpy arms, legs barely separated…
Blind, poorly balanced, inefficient to a manner that actually made me feel anger. So much, that I could have sworn I heard the other voice- far off and distant, begin to rumble once again.
I had to look away for a bit, and let the magic cease, before that settled.
Once everything came to a stop, Slowly, the Golem took a knee- if what it had could even be called knees, and not lumped molds of stone, and stared me down.
Not in a scary way, but a…
A lumpy, misshapen, abomination sort of way.
I stared back, mostly in pity.
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up]
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up] [!]
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up] [!] [!]
[Lesser Sentient Golem] had begun to progress like any basic skill might, when provided an almost endless mana supply. The notifications were rolling along, now. Considering the excessive cost, what I had just created, would have been completely impossible if I was working with what a starting monster might have available.
Ten slithers tall, half that wide, it loomed.
A complete mockery of stone work, yet… loyal.
That was pretty much the only positive thing I could get out of it. Not language or words, but a consistent signal of… well, waiting for me to tell it what to do, I suppose.
Still, I wasn’t pleased.
A quarter of my mana was simply “gone.”
That was a LOT, for what I’d ended up with.
No, this had taken far too much mana, and provided far too unfortunate a result. To say I was unhappy with it, was an understatement. Maybe I’d gathered up a little bit of an ego, but Earth Magic was supposed to be better than this.
Still, it stared at me.
No, I wasn’t satisfied.
[Lesser Sentient Golem] huh?
After spending so much mana, I didn’t want to tear it down and start over, but…
I activated the skill for a second time, I did something different. Instead of the letting pre-decided Magic run through whatever terrible template it thought of as a structure, I intercepted.
I took over, with a vengeance.
It began, anew.
First, I shaped.
From the ashes around me, I took everything up with the sand, letting the spiral circle inward. Only the things I wanted, and nothing else. I operated on a “pick and choose” for what went in, as I encased it. Then, I pressed the materials into place, sinking them into the sad excuse for a Golem. Without stopping, I let the Magic pull: forming up a skeleton of carbon, muscles and tendons of frozen stone. Piece by piece, layer by layer, taking the Golem’s original form, and changing it.
Cutting away, shaving bits, or completely reshaping…
As the body morphed, I covered the figure which rose in armor, plated in polished stone, pressed so hard it glowed with a heat of its own- regardless of the sun. As the sandstorm raised higher, I searched- patterns skittering out among the growing cloud of swirling dirt. Lost mana crystals, unresponsive to earth’s pull, were seized. Scattered bits and pieces, hidden among the sands, lost from boxes of fleeing adventurers.
Taking a note from the cookie-cutter design, I formed several hands of sand to pluck these free, settling them into the mold. Slipping through the surface as it parted way, dozens of tiny shards clumped together, right at the statue’s heart. As many as I could find, placed one by one until a glowing core formed.
Though the spell didn’t give me much in the way of reason for why this would matter, I elected to do it anyways.
Then, I letting it all settle out, came the tricky part.
Two spells were going at once.
Not normally a problem.
Two spells going at once, while fighting one another.
Sort of a problem.
[Earth Sculpting] and [Lesser Sentient Golem] did not play nice with one another, whatsoever. Especially not when [Earth Sculpting] was more like several hundred spells operating under one name. The drain soon became substantial: while everything was held into place, but not everything was as I wanted it.
Originally activated, then interrupted, the [Lesser Sentient Golem] spell was having what I might just have to call a panic attack.
Mystical, magical, whatever- that’s what it was.
Clearly, it had specific orders to try and issue, but being massively outclassed by Earth Sculpting, it was doing so in vain. Over… and over… and over…
Oh, it tried. It tried, alright.
Like someone caught in a loop on the same mistake, or a computer program, running and failing. Unable to undo what Earth Sculpting was solidly locking in place. As it tried to reverse my creation, I continually forced the stone still, in the hopes of letting the spell run itself out.
I didn’t want a lumpy Golem.
It really wanted a lumpy Golem.
Really- REALLY wanted a lumpy Golem.
It was stubborn. Maybe seeing someone cheat the system pissed it off, or maybe it’s just built that way.
At first, it resisted.
For several minutes, it certainly struggled.
Then, all at once: it died.
Thankfully, not without completing whatever important bits were needed at the very end, though. I let the remaining sand fall down around us, as the spell came to a close.
The work was done.
Kneeling before me, the Golem stared down with eyes of pressure-formed gemstone. Armor, carved with battles and trials of war. On its left arm, it bore a massive great shield, and on its right: a heavy club of riveted stone. The mighty warrior of… Frog.
I guess I’m just a slave to routine, after all.
Though it couldn’t speak, I felt the Froggy Golem’s mind reach for me.
Though the Golem couldn’t form words, or true language, it requested a purpose all the same. Just like the first time I used the spell, it wanted to know what I asked of it.
I considered this.
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up] [!] [!] [!]
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up] [!] [!] [!] [!]
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up] [!] [!] [!] [!] [!]
[Lesser Sentient Golem - Rank up] [!] [!] [!] [!] [!] [!]
It knew so little, but with every rapid ping of the skill which formed it, I felt that changing. Although the structure had been overwritten by my efforts, but Magic was still very much a “Lesser” compared to what it might one day become. The core of the skill, as it were, was still a rather simple “mind.”
Sentient, but not particularly smart.
As the notifications finally stopped, I decided it was good enough.
“Guard this.” I ordered. “Don’t step on it.”
The Golem nodded, as the commands set in.
I watched as those commands settled, deep inside it. Imprinting, I watched as the earth around the lump of crystals, shifted. Peering into the mana crystals themselves, with Earth magic, wasn’t really possible, but all around them, I saw the seams start to fill in. Like ice melting, then refreezing.
Rising to take a single step, the Great Froggy Golem lifted its mighty shield and… stood in place, blocking the sunlight.
It was rather magnificent.
It was rather shameful.
All that, because I was too lazy to move a stone umbrella a few times a day.
I didn’t dwell on it, though.
Instead, I went to sleep. Or, as close as I can get to sleep, while trying to pull water out of the ground.
There’s no thrill in this.
Pulling water out of the ground, bit by bit… I won’t bother describing it further.
Several hours of grinding, at this point.
I guess the positive is, at least I’m in the shade.
Good work, Golem.
I’m sure I’ll come up with a name for you, eventually.