Chapter 136
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Alice had always wondered why dimensional mana behaved the way it did. She had heard, multiple times, of the tragedy of Allenheim – where a bunch of dimensional Mages had effectively nuked their kingdom into the ground by polluting it with dimensional mana.

For a while now, Alice had been tossing around ideas for how this worked. Her most recent theory, and the one that she favored the most, was that any objects, such as oxygen molecules, that passed through a portal would start to ‘infect’ any mana they came in contact with, turning it into broken dimensional mana. This would imply that dimensional broken mana worked kind of like how class mana worked.

Her second idea was that mana itself became broken while passing through any portal. She was pretty sure that mana did naturally pass through portals. That wouldn’t explain why broken mana had such a ridiculous cascading effect, but if Alice was missing something, it was entirely possible.

Her third idea was that portals just warped mana that existed near them. This would be a little odd by the standards of the way most mana Alice had observed acted so far. Most mana only broke when a Mage lost a little bit of efficiency while using magic. However, dimensional broken mana had already proven that it was unusual in a wide variety of ways – and it also made perfect sense for dimensional mana to ignore things like distance in a way other broken mana types might not.

Since Alice had only seen dimensional mana used by Society Mages and natural occurrences so far, she wasn’t sure which of the three theories she had was correct. It was even possible that all three were wrong, and Alice was overlooking something.

Either way, Alice was eager to finally put it to the test. Since the broken mana part of dimensional mana was what made it so dangerous, Alice needed to have an idea what caused broken dimensional mana to form before she could start trying to figure out how to defend against it.

Figuring out how dimensional broken mana worked might also help Alice protect herself against any Society Teleportation in the future, and protect herself against whatever was causing the Society to freak out. So there was a lot more than just Alice’s curiosity at stake right now.

She waited a few hours, for her new magic seed to form some mana for her to experiment with. Then, she informed Ethan that she was going to be experimenting with dimensional mana.

This was in case Alice messed up and accidentally created a massive cloud of broken dimensional mana, potentially causing everyone in the area to undergo broken mana baptisms. Even though Alice doubted she would create such a massive problem just by creating a few basic portals and testing how they worked, there was no sense in taking risks with other people’s lives, or her own. Having someone willing to watch over her tests and step in if something went horribly wrong was a good idea when playing with something as dangerous as dimensional mana, even though Alice’s {Safety Analysis} had already claimed that the tests she wanted to run were probably fine.

After Alice outlined the tests she wanted to perform and her reasoning, Ethan gave her the green light to start her tests. He brought her to one of the testing rooms in the mansion, located a reasonable distance underground. It was already enchanted to keep broken mana inside of the room from spreading. He took a seat nearby and watched as Alice got started.

The first thing Alice tried was opening up a small portal between two spots in the room. It was best to start simple.

Alice quickly noticed that there was a great deal of resistance against opening portals.

When she tried to use dimensional mana, it felt like she was trying to wrench open a firmly closed door. She had imagined that opening a portal would be… easier. Instead, she could actively feel her mind and her mana straining to make her portal appear, fighting against space to make her portal happen. Alice vaguely wished that she had a lot more mana to work with – it would certainly make portal manipulation dozens of times easier.

The resistance she felt grew based on how big of a portal she wanted to make, and also increased based on how far away the other end of the portal was.

Interestingly enough, once Alice stopped messing around with little flecks of dimensional mana and finally opened a thumb-sized portal that teleported things about a centimeter away, she realized something else. Alice’s ‘portal’ didn’t cost any mana to toss items through it. It simply consumed a big chunk of mana when she created it, and then consumed a small amount of mana to remain every second.

Absently, Alice wondered how the passage of time interacted with portals. There didn’t seem to be any time at all that passed between an object entering one end of the portal and exiting the other, although that could just be because of how limited her eyesight was. Her [Perception] pushed her senses well beyond what a regular human was capable of, but she still couldn’t register things that happened on the scale of nanoseconds.

For a moment, she wished that she hadn’t sacrificed the {Timer} Perk a while ago. It would have been quite helpful here.

The reason she was so focused on the time between entering and exiting a portal was simple. Alice vaguely remembered from her physics class that time and space were the same thing, or very closely related, and that the faster one travelled, the weirder the flow of time got for them compared to ‘normal’ time.

Or something like that. Even if she hadn’t taken all of the physics classes available at her high school before being pulled out of Earth, she at least remembered that the passage of time got very weird once one started travelling at or near the speed of light. Alice’s understanding of why that happened was a bit patchy, but it still raised an interesting question of how exactly time worked in this world. There was obviously time mana that she could use, but this world also seemed to mostly work off of the same physics that Earth did. Since that was the case, did this dimension’s laws of physics regarding time just work completely differently from Earth’s?

Alice honestly had no idea, although she did wonder what would happen if she sling-shotted a pocket watch back and forth between two portals at opposite ends of this planet for a few hours. Sadly, that experiment was completely impractical to arrange, even if Ethan used all of his influence trying to make it happen.

Alice spent a while thinking about weird questions related to time and space, before she decided to set it aside for now. Even if the questions were interesting, she certainly had other priorities. Her memory of how relativity worked from Earth was also a patchy framework of understanding she got from a high school physics class. As much as she wished she knew enough to test more, she simply didn’t have the knowledge foundation to play with this subject.

The second thing Alice noticed was the broken mana. Alice had already seen a few other portals before, but now that she had time to study them in greater detail (and without people throwing knives or firing objects at her), she confirmed that her first and second hypothesis about what caused dimensional broken mana to appear were both correct.

During the time Alice had been working on treating Borris and his early Status Screen, Alice had mused that perhaps the reason that Dimensional mana ‘spread’ so quickly was because the air travelling from one portal to another somehow caused the concept of dimensions to ‘infect’ the air around it, sort of like how people ‘broke’ the mana in the air around them by doing things one typically associated with a Class.

After some testing, Alice’s observations lined up with this hypothesis. When Alice used a mana filter to let air pass through the portal without any accompanying mana, the mana on the other side of the portal still turned into dimensional broken mana after a few seconds. The same thing occurred when mana passed through a portal – however, mana didn’t ‘naturally’ pass through portals very quickly at all, unlike air. Alice mused that if one made a longer-range portal, the difference in air pressure would probably accelerate the process of air molecules passing through the portal, causing one side to suddenly break out into a massive flood of broken dimensional mana. Meanwhile, even if Alice created a massive difference in mana concentration on each end of her portal, it didn’t cause mana to flood through the portal and create the kind of cascading broken mana flood that dimensional mana was infamous for causing. While this could be an issue with Alice’s testing conditions, she was pretty sure that the majority of broken dimensional mana came from air’s interaction with broken mana.

Which was fascinating.

After testing what actually caused the mana in the air to turn into dimensional broken mana, Alice moved on to chucking more normal objects through the portal, to see what happened. Alice was vaguely hoping to find some objects that didn’t start breaking mana after passing through a portal – if she could figure out what made broken mana and what didn’t, Alice might be able to find a clue to stopping the broken mana production entirely.

First, Alice tried tossing a few copper paupers through the portal, to see if they ALSO infected the air around them with dimensional broken mana.

Alice quickly confirmed that, for some reason, some coins would start infecting the air around them with dimensional broken mana, while other coins did not.

Alice had no idea what the difference was. Her first guess was that maybe some of the coins had different metal contents, and that somehow influenced which coins started spewing out broken dimensional mana everywhere. So she tried standardizing her tests by using a few different items that had less variance in them. After all, there was always a chance that coins in Illvaria just weren’t that standardized, right?

Apparently, the metal content of coins was not the issue here at all.

After Alice tried tossing a few pieces of pure iron that Ethan lent her through the portal, they also seemed to have a completely random chance of either infecting the mana around them with dimensional broken mana.

Standardizing how long the pieces of pure iron were exposed to the portals still resulted in seemingly random results. Changing how hard she threw the pieces of iron through the portal didn’t change the randomness of her results. Changing the amount of mana they were exposed to didn’t suddenly make her test results make sense.

Throwing the same piece of iron through the portal over and over again still had random results. And there was no consistent ‘it starts breaking mana it comes into contact with every third throw’ or anything like that. It was more like Alice was just randomly rolling the dice anytime something passed through the portal, and sometimes the object thrown through the portal caused mana it touched to turn into broken mana, and sometimes it didn’t.

Alice didn’t understand why it only applied to whole objects, either. Logically, every single atom or molecule should have had its own ‘roll’ for producing dimensional mana if the results were truly random… right? However, each piece of pure iron either produced dimensional broken mana or didn’t after exiting the other side of the portal. There weren’t any cases of some parts of it producing broken mana while others didn’t. How did the dimensional broken mana know whether each atom of iron was part of a whole block of pure iron not?

Eventually, Alice tried banging her head against the plates of pure iron before throwing them through the portal.

This also didn’t change the fact that the results were totally random, but it made her feel better.

Alice had taken a small break to ask Ethan if she was doing something wrong, after which Ethan had given her a very unhelpful shrug.

Alice had been sorely tempted to scream into her pillow for a while after that.

She tried several more things, but no matter what she attempted, she just couldn’t figure out why on earth the presence of broken dimensional mana coming from an item seemed completely random.

Not to mention, cleaning up all of the broken mana in the area so that she could get a clear view of what was happening was also growing increasingly irritating as her experiments plodded along. The fact that anything that passed through a portal had around a 40% chance of infecting all mana it touched for somewhere between 2 seconds and 2 minutes was something that Alice simply couldn’t understand. There must be some pattern behind how everything worked. But Alice could not for the life of her figure it out, no matter what she tried.

After about twenty minutes of testing things with a portal the size of her thumb, Alice ran out of dimensional mana, and was no closer to figuring out what the heck she was looking at.

Apart from discovering that pure mana didn’t turn into broken dimensional mana after passing through a portal, Alice had also discovered that she had a massive headache.

Was this what the physicists who discovered quantum physics had felt like?

“Find anything interesting?” asked Ethan.

Alice was about to seriously answer the question, before she realized that Ethan’s voice had a rather playful edge to it. Instead of responding, she opted to give him her best intimidating glare. Ethan actually laughed at her before he started talking again.

“Don’t worry. If dimensional mana was easy to study, other countries would have lifted the ban on dimensional mana studies years ago. The fact that the ban has lasted as long as it has is proof of how complex and weird it is.”

Alice didn’t feel any better at all after Ethan’s words. Just because other people had failed to solve a mystery didn’t mean that she felt better after failing to solve the same mystery. Alice simply felt frustrated.

She decided to take her mind off of her unsuccessful first foray into dimensional mana experimentation by looking at her System notifications. Of course, she first converted all of her mana into appropriate classes, to make sure she didn’t lose any of her hard-earned levels, or lose a her personality. She got a couple Attributes from the tests as well as a few scattered levels.

You have leveled up!

Scientist: 60 -> 62, Scholar 58 -> 60

Sadly, despite doing an entirely new experiment, as well as benefitting from Ethan’s Mother’s boost since it hadn’t quite worn off yet, Alice still didn’t get quite enough XP to level [Explorer of Magic].

Alice noticed, with some concern, that there was now a fair amount of [Dimensional Mage] mana floating around inside of her body. She was pretty sure she had seen a few Society researchers that looked like they had a class built around dimensional mana, but it hadn’t occurred to her until now that she could now get mana for a class she couldn’t form a seed for.

Which would be very bad. The influence on her personality wasn’t very noticeable yet, but if Alice didn’t find a way to deal with it, she would have to stop messing with dimensional mana. The idea of wasting all of her work here and being forced to give up on searching for answers left a horrible taste in her mouth, even if she still intended to mostly focus on System mana as her subject of study.

The [Dimensional Mage] mana kept swirling around near her mage core, as if it were trying very hard to form a class seed but simply couldn’t. This made Alice very, very concerned.

Luckily, after a few minutes of worrying, Alice realized that even though her [Dimensional Mage] mana wasn’t sticking to any nearby class seeds, unlike all of the other mana she had gathered while levelling up her classes, it was still sort of similar to [Explorer of Magic]. Or at least, she hoped it was. She had no clue how to form a proper class fractal yet, and without that knowledge, Alice was pretty sure any attempts to make a [Dimensional Mage] class seed would backfire horribly and possibly kill her.

After a quick confirmation with {Safety Analysis}, Alice started using her filtration magic seed to whittle away at the [Dimensional Mage] mana. Even though the efficiency was horrible and half of the mana was disappearing into who-knows-where, Alice managed to get rid of the unsafe mana with some effort. This made Alice feel very relieved.

At the very least, she wasn’t going to accidentally wipe out her mind during her experiments. Unfortunately, even that wasn’t enough to get [Explorer of Magic] to level 78. Alice was finally starting to understand why so many people struggled to reach Immortality. [Explorer of Magic] was probably close to levelling up – but it hadn’t levelled even after experimenting on an entirely new kind of magic. Which was very frustrating.

Then, as Alice was thinking about the way she had converted [Dimensional Mage] mana into [Explorer of Magic] mana, and idea hit her. It wasn’t related to her own Status Screen – instead, she started thinking about all of the problems caused by the disappearance of the System.

Currently, it was a huge problem if people got more mana from their environment, because their Class seeds weren’t properly handling the mana they absorbed the way the seeds were supposed to. [Farmers] who worked in the field, for example, might get a level or two of [Farmer] experience over the course of a few weeks of farming now – but they also got a whole lot of other, similar classes that would clog up their seed and gum everything up, then cause an overflow of mana that they couldn’t absorb and would corrode away their personality.

But what if Alice could create an enchantment out of her filtration mana that solved this problem?

Sure, the System itself was still missing, but Alice could, theoretically, create a type of enchantment that would reach into someone’s body, grab all of the kinds of mana that were ‘similar’ to [Farmer] mana, and then convert it all into [Farmer] mana before stuffing it all back into the body and letting the class seed do its job.

After all, the System had clearly been doing it before it shut down. It was very obviously possible. Alice was nowhere near as skilled as the System was at mana filtration and manipulation, but she could already manage to do this without enchantments. The trick was just figuring out how to automate it.

And having rings that could permanently ‘cleanse’ mana problems would be a huge breakthrough in solving the current crisis.

After all, people didn’t need to have any problematic mana wiped out immediately. They could obviously last several days without the bad types of mana from their environment wiping away their personality. A few wisps of a different kind of mana wouldn’t do much to someone besides annoy them a bit, as long as it didn’t build up. If Alice’s idea worked out, people might just be able to wear a [Farmer] ring once a month to get all of their ‘pending’ levels, clear out the mana harming their mind, and then get back to work in the fields. Not only would it solve all of the health problems associated with too much buildup of the wrong mana type, but it would also let people keep levelling up, AND it would take far fewer resources and much less time than it would take to make a mana-blocking ring for everyone in Illvaria.

After all, right now people were scrambling to get one mana blocking ring per person and then wear it all the time. However, if Alice’s ‘mana filtration’ rings could be made, a farming village could probably get by just fine if they shared a ring for [Farmer] mana and just swapped it from one person to another every few hours. It wouldn’t be too hard to organize, and it would require far fewer enchanted rings to be made.

The mana blocking-rings would still probably be useful for children, since the System restricted children from gaining access to their classes until the age of six. Alice had no idea why six was such a magic number for getting class seeds, but it was probably logical to do the same thing until she could figure out the reasoning behind it and determine whether or not it was needed. However, for adults, as long as their class seeds only needed to deal with the right kind of mana, it was entirely possible to keep levelling up, gaining Perks, and growing stronger even with the System down.

Of course, Alice also realized that she would run into a few problems.

First, all enchantments needed three things. A power source (usually a monster core), a material that could contain ‘instructions’ which an enchanter programmed into the material, and finally, an [Enchanter] to actually bring everything together.

Power sources weren’t that hard to find – even if it was best for enchantments if they had a similar kind of mana to the type the enchantment used, most enchantments could run on any monster core. They would just degrade a lot faster if the monster core used a totally different kind of mana. Which was a good thing, because as far as Alice knew, no monster in existence used any kind of System mana as its primary mana type, meaning that it was probably impossible to get something like a ‘Filtration mana’ monster core.

However, the other two things would still be major problems. Alice had no idea where to find materials that could memorize ‘filtration mana’ instructions, and Alice was also the only filtration mana mage that she knew of. Cecilia might be able to pick up a similar kind of mana with Alice’s help, though. And perhaps the Mages who were training under Cecilia could be trained to make filtration mana seeds instead of pure mana?

Admittedly, the fact that they had never seen or heard of filtration mana before today would make it far harder for them to conceptualize and build the magic seeds, compared to pure mana magic seeds, which were already well-known, even if they were uncommon.

Alice sighed.

It was something worth trying, at least. She made a mental note to herself to let Cecilia know about her new thoughts, and then walked over to Ethan to discuss her failed dimensional mana experiments and her new request to look for ‘weird’ enchanting materials. Maybe some [Adventurers] or [Enchanters] could scrounge something up, either by finding it in the wild or by artificially forcing a material to accept instructions from unique types of magic seed. It was worth a shot.

Alice now had yet another project to work on. And this one might actually be game-changer that started solving the problem, instead of just mitigating damage. It was nice to know that she had gotten something out of her dimensional mana experiments besides a massive headache.



I accidentally had Alice level up Explorer of Magic from level 76 to level 77 in chapter 130… and then she levelled up from level 76 to level 77 AGAIN in chapter 135. Whoops! Obviously, the second one should have been leveling from 77 to 78. This has been corrected.

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