Daniel Black Open Thread

There seem to be a lot of people who still want to talk about what Daniel ought to be doing and what enchantments he should be working on, so I figured I’d give you a better place to do it that the comments of an unrelated post. I may even answer a few questions, as long as they don’t give away anything I have planned for future books.

Of course, the answer to most questions of the form ‘why hasn’t Daniel done X’ is ‘he hasn’t had time’. At the end of Extermination it’s only been about three months since he was summoned, and he’s been insanely busy for that entire time. So his enchantment work has focused almost entirely on things he could do quickly, without having to spend much time figuring things out.

The other point I want to mention, though, is that Daniel isn’t intended to be some perfectly hyper-competent superman. He’s just a guy who had enough brains, imagination and determination to get the job done, at least so far. But there were several places where I intentionally had him do things that turned out to be a mistake because it fit his attitude at the time, or because he had no way of knowing better. That’s going to continue to happen in the future, although he is learning.

My inspiration for Daniel actually comes from some of the more capable players I’ve met in tabletop RPG games over the years. You know that guy who can debate everything from Napoleonic military tactics to advanced space launch technologies? The one who keeps bypassing the GM’s carefully constructed plot complications by doing something clever but sensible instead of just charging after the obvious plot hooks? The one who always seems to be overpowered, because he reads all the rulebooks and carefully min-maxes his  characters? That’s Daniel.

The trouble is, it’s a lot easier to talk about things than to actually do them. Real life doesn’t come with a rulebook, and just because you watched a video about something once doesn’t mean you can do it. So even with the huge cheat of mana sorcery, there’s going to be a lot of trial and error in Daniel’s future.

He’s still frustrated that he can’t remember how a Geiger counter is supposed to work…

7,991 thoughts on “Daniel Black Open Thread

  1. At some point, I am assuming Daniel will meet an Atlantean – and recognize that he is meeting an Atlantean.

    Who – the Storm guy.

    Justification
    1) Odin mentioned two Atlanteans and speculated which was Daniel. Storm guy and women-font-of-magic guy.
    2) Allana mentioned she was bonded at one time to an Atlantean with storm magic – one of their most powerful wizards.

    Two mentions = we will see this guy. And given her history, I give very goods odds that Allana recognizes him based on some mannerism or aura – no matter what disguise he wears today.

    I wonder if the two mentioned by Odin are the last two free Atlanteans?

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    1. How good are the Atlanteans organized? Somehow I doubt that a wise Atlantean would constantly repeat his strategy. Nor would they necessarily operate entirely alone. Do they strike back or only hide?

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      1. Oliver, I’d put my bets on “hide and accumulate power.”

        Any surviving Atlanteans know bloody well they got their asses handed to them by a coalition of the Gods, a coalition that still exists.

        I’d also bet that once rumors of Daniel’s ‘ridiculously huge’ mana supplies begin to spread, there will be an increasing chance of some surviving Atlantean(s) attempting to scry, spy or ally to discover how it is done.

        Irresistible allure, that.

        And won’t they just KNOW Daniel might very well BE a ‘honey pot’ targeting THEM.

        All sorts of potential for clever subterfuge plots, so I almost expect something like this in one of the next books.

        Betcha the ‘Atlantean’ who sidles up to Daniel with an offer he can’t refuse is Agent 44-26-38.

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  2. Daniel learned a lot in Thrall that he has yet to apply. Some examples

    1) He learned how to create adaptive factories (for the armored skimmer) that adjust the build based on what is already there. He also can leverage his dryad’s experience with armor. I imagine with the two he can easily create a factory to custom fit enchanted armor to any person that stands within. At a minimum, this can be used to outfit his army with excellent armor. I suspect with some more sophistication, he can build a better suit of armor for himself that his dryad can just “pop” on him. Putting tacks into a cloak is inherently an imperfect defense as there are multiple gaps in coverage and variable sturdiness in material. A custom fitted armor that provides the same benefit could easily be built to provide more comprehensive protection – and that does not even include any other enhancements that can more easily be placed on a permanent suit of armor.

    2) He has the binding spells from the devouring rod and his ability to extend his magic to cast at range. That gives him AOE binding attacks to take out a large number of foes prisoner and/or disable creatures that lack physical form

    3) He has a disintegration attack that ignores living creatures. That may or may not be useful depending on how easily it can be used – and how easily wards can block the effect. At a minimum, it is awesome for a prison break out where you need to remove chains or bars to release prisoners. Or alternately to disarm rioters or soldiers where that makes sense (aka – potential allies or at least people he prefers to not kill).

    4) He can grab the soul from enemies. Probably not gods or anybody really powerful, but it is another way to bypass serious defenses. I wonder what impact it might have on demons?

    5) He has an apple to analyze

    6) And he has this ability now to have his cloak move dramatically — always a good power to have when trying to make a good impression 🙂

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    1. Don’t forget the Sun Tap and white hole tunnel he learned while studying the Spire. Since his knowledge of physics is somewhat more precise than the Atlantean wizards’ it might be possible for Daniel to do something particularly nasty for a major weapon.

      Nothing like your own personalized custom coronal mass ejection in the face to say, “Go Away!”

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    2. I can see the armor working like this.
      1) Daniel stands in place to be measured
      2) his dryad surrounds him with her own personal armor
      3) then the factory starts building his custom suit of armor to wear over #1 and #2 above.
      4) his dryad moves Daniel into her tree, leaving behind the shell of her own personal armor to stay within the factory.

      That way, even if the factory takes 3 weeks to make the armor, Daniel does not have to stand there for 3 weeks. Or alternatively the factory can retain the dimensions, but the dryad wood statue of Daniel concept just sounds better.

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      1. Then she can store the armor in her tree and summon it whenever he wants. On top of that she can serve as his undergarments something she would uniquely enjoy. Hey looks like he just got himself a space suit. With built-in rebreather.

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    3. One more mention. In extermination, it was mentioned that Daniel can have spells put into bullets – so when the bullet hits, the spell goes off. The context was around putting some of Cerise’s magic on the bullet. This was never followed up on. But I can totally see a gun that shoots bullets with capture magic just like the rod of devouring, even if it is not linked to yanking your soul. A lot longer ranged weapon than what he can do with spell projection. Probably needs some custom weapon due to complexity, but doable.

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      1. Good idea. I would wager that he could design the spell on the bullet to pull the soul into the bullet itself. And that would suck for an enemy. They get shot and then they get stuck inside the bullet lodged in their body.

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  3. One more Daniel problem if he is facing gods. How go get enough mana into his spells to realistially hurt a major god. He cannot use the sunspear approach as he does not have the sunspear (duh), but also because he is morally against caging gods/beings to act as surge protectors.

    But he might be able to use some of his programming expertise in distributed computing and parallel processing to allow 2,000 mana generator cores to be effectively linked to create one super overpowered yet controllable magical effect. And if he can do it once, he can do it many times.

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    1. Or, Daniel could talk to the several experienced experts with whom he has direct contact, and solicit THEIR opinions on how to ‘supercharge’ them.

      Pelagea’s response is easy to predict: “Daniel, just add more power stones to our Groves and my nymphs will challenge goddesses, my dryads will treat einherjahr as cheap chew toys.”

      Sefwin and her father will answer somewhat similarly, although they and the other magic users of Nethwillin are also likely to spend quality time with Daniel determining how far they can push his magical mass production of more clever and more powerful weapons.

      Obviously, Cerise, Elin and Avilla would also benefit some from a serious supercharging, but they don’t have the experience to gain really full use of it, although Cerise could probably elevate herself to einherjahr nightmare status. Tina, given her blessings and direct support from Bast, might surprise all of us.

      Finally, there are the goddesses like Hecate and Bast, maybe Mara, too, after she Ascends.

      All of the above except Pelagea will benefit from some sort of local link to Daniel’s power stones, like the one Tina uses during and after the coven ceremony.

      Of course, that has limited range.

      Daniel should do something about extending the range beyond which he can effectively offer massive power enhancement.

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    2. He has understood the conversion spell and Daniel understands what powers the Sun. With Force he could even build a gaseous nuclear reactor operating at tens of thousands Kelvin.

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      1. Oliver, given that Daniel can use enchantment to summon hydrogen or deuterium or both and that he knows, as you say, the conversion of energy to mana, add an appropriate Force spell to the mix and he could build a Real Fusion (TM) sun for a pocket world like Gaia’s.

        Slap a fusion pulse engine on the end of it and he could build an interstellar travelling O’Neil colony inside an asteroid, or inside a chunk of Midgard mountain.

        Of course, either or both would be every bit as stable as Daniel’s enchantments make possible.

        Beats being smashed by a coalition of the gods.

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      2. I considered that. The answer is a qualified ‘no’. Daniel cannot operate by sorcery on isotopes. Proton-proton fusion is just hideously inefficient. Pure uranium, however, is available, as would be pure graphite or beryllium. Daniel can build a nuclear reactor.
        How to survive R&D is a different question, but it is definitely possible to build it.

        Getting it up to higher temperatures would be a challenge, as nuclear reactions get more inefficient at higher temperatures, but likely surmountable. And the heat would come for free.

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      3. Oliver, is Daniel’s magical ‘cheat’ of functionally 100% controllable Force sufficient to overcome the inefficiencies of Hydrogen plus Hydrogen to Helium fusion?

        On the other hand, why would he bother, when he could do the same thing with the Sun that he does with the Earth?

        Summon a chunk of fusing, seething, blazing hot Hydrogen/Helium/Proton/Positron/etc. ‘soup’ from deep inside the solar core and convert some of the energies to mana.

        Who needs the recipe when the soup is being served continuously, 4.5 billion years and counting?

        His biggest challenge will be containing and shielding, followed by the actual conversion.

        Seems to me there would be all sorts of heat, several different kinds of radiation and a variety of weird particles to play with.

        The whole project becomes such a fascinating time suck it should probably be set aside for future consideration unless he needs a massive, raw nuclear propulsion system and does not care who gets a face full of his exhaust.

        Given Daniel’s brief consideration in EXTERMINATION of Hecate’s needs for personal weapons and mana sources, he’s probably already well advanced into ideas for enhancing his matter to mana enchantments, while also miniaturizing a much more powerful mana source. Since all of that simply leverages his existing work it is probably the wiser immediate investment.

        Daniel does need to come up with a significantly larger energy supply to survive combat at the level of Gaia or Odin.

        That energy supply does not, however, need to be mana.

        Daniel knows enough physics to try something truly cosmic. He may and probably will fail a few times along the way, but something along the lines of a personal cyclotron ought to be possible. Slicing and dicing with a positron beam or maybe an X-ray laser ought to impress the opposition. Imagine something like Grinder but equipped with intense magnetic fields that literally shred molecules.

        What other comic book mega-weapon is Daniel likely to remember and try?

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      4. Ok i am missing something. Why would daniel have to mess with some kind of controlled fission/fusion to get mana. He has mana generators. He can create links to mana generators. Much easier to just create 5 mana generators and link the output of all 5 to some action than to create some fusion/fission reaction –> than take some portion of the output and convert to the same amount of mana

        The limitation is control, not raw power generation.

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      5. “Oliver, is Daniel’s magical ‘cheat’ of functionally 100% controllable Force sufficient to overcome the inefficiencies of Hydrogen plus Hydrogen to Helium fusion?”

        No, because the probleme is caused by quantum mechanics, not lack of pressure. You would overcome it by going to a CNO-cycle, but Daniel is not an astrophysicist.

        “Summon a chunk of fusing, seething, blazing hot Hydrogen/Helium/Proton/Positron/etc. ‘soup’ from deep inside the solar core and convert some of the energies to mana.”

        It takes a mind and may not scale and is a sure way to bring all the world’s gods down on you.

        “Ok i am missing something. Why would daniel have to mess with some kind of controlled fission/fusion to get mana. He has mana generators. He can create links to mana generators. Much easier to just create 5 mana generators and link the output of all 5 to some action than to create some fusion/fission reaction”

        Daniel is quite intelligent and that option is kind of obvious, so we must assume that it would not work. Question is why. I do not know.
        If the level of control of the ‘burn rate’ does not work, he will need to control the fuel supply.

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      6. I suspect the primary previous reason why Daniel has not yet linked together multiple matter to mana blocks is his own limitation regarding personal mana channels. The amount of mana he currently manipulates is enough to cause him severe headaches and exhaustion after a few hours of intense or continuous work.

        More mana would cause him more pain, sooner.

        However, now that he seems likely to become toymaker for a small pantheon of energy hungry goddesses, all bets are off and he may begin exploring FAR more energetic solutions for Them.

        Of course, we also have yet to discover whether Daniel’s new body Mk II has significantly better mana channels.

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      7. Talking about Daniel new body, shouldn’t he use Ellin help in that project, as a healer and fay she is well versed in the complexitys of biology and mana manipulations, yes his flesh magic gives him an great advantage, but maybe with her help he can come up with improved theorys for it.

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  4. Biggest Vulnerability for Daniel right now- Power Links

    While his power amulet is a mana generator as are the amulets of his coven, all the other power amulets, all the weapons, vehicles, and other warlike devices are now operating via power links. If somebody blocks those links, Daniel’s people get a LOT weaker.

    Not totally weak. Those like the dark elves still have their normal magical abilities. Black Citadel has massive battery reserves of energy. I suspect the dryads and nymphs will only loose their benefits gradually over time. A lot of the minor magic items like heaters and lights work off background energy. And of course any rituals or items built with the power amulets have not gone away.

    But I still argue that the power linkage is the one big weakness that Daniel’s base of operations has right now — and with Daniel gone, nobody is available to fix it if somebody jams the links.

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    1. Yes but who would be capable of blocking the link as of now, the closest to it that I can come up would be The citadel, but they are to busy cleaning up the house to decided and attempt an attack of any kind to Daniel fortress, even more now that they must believe he is not coming back and they have plenty of time to get their hands on it. The Gods are other magic users that could do it, but why would them??? The dwarvs aren’t even aware that Daniel is a thing yet, they migth pinpoint to him in the future but so far his move have been well hidden by experts. So altough it is a dangerous posibility its not something that should be adreesed with uregency.

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      1. The list of capable is fairly large. These include the conclave, gods, other dark elf clans, probably the dwarves, other mages, etc. Power links are old hat for all these people. While they may have had difficulty creating power links that operate over big distances from scratch, they can probably figure out how to jam them fairly easily.

        Motivation is more sketchy, but anyone who wants to make a play for the citadel (aka – Kozalin facation), or get access to Daniel’s power stone secrets (Conclave/mages) or get vengeance (dwarves) might try. They will likely fail – Daniel’s keep is still a mighty fortress and his defenders will not be totally helpless without the power links, but few would have good intelligence on Daniel’s capabilities enough to know that fact.

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      2. Truth, at this time not manny are considering that attempt. Besides Daniel has a much more pressing concern regarding facing Demi-gods and such, he admitted that so far he has been preparing for normal class threats now he has to completely reconsider his game plan, wondering what he migth have to do for his wives???

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    2. Dspring, there is another, different link we should also consider. The dryads and probably Clan Nethwillin have their own ‘connections’ with lands consecrated and empowered to their groves and their communities.

      Would these be cut by the same sort of interference that might sever Daniel’s various enchanted power links, like his soldiers’ weapons, for example?

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      1. It should be a given that Daniel will be attacked by area of effect anti-magic field eventually. After all that was the first attack used against him by the priest in the first book. So it is probably a common technique for killing Wizards. I can see many of the assassins from the order of whatever trying to use that or a similar technique to kill him. Or maybe just weakened his minions so that they can get through his defenses easier. As was shown in first book that technique would be useless against him or now his wives. But for his soldiers and elves it would be devastating unless they took measures themselves to mitigate it.

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      2. Yes, DaShoota, I’m agreeing with you for sure on Daniel’s soldiers, but not so much Clan Nethwillin.

        1) They are experienced magi with skills and tools for ‘charging up’ before combat and other exercises.

        2) They MIGHT also have a divine or spiritual connection to their habitat, somewhat similar to dryads and groves.

        Of course, (2) probably depends on whether Daniel actually made the time to attach a few power stones to Clan Nethwillin’s habitat before he was kidnapped by Odin and Thor. I’m not certain whether that empowerment happened.

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      3. I’m not sure he had time to fully delve into the construction of their habitats either. But the events before the kidnapping make me think that he completed it. I don’t think Daniel is the type of person that would jump from a discussion and planning session with the elves to constructing a factory for vehicles. I think he would finish the habitat first.

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      4. The Dryads connection via the land is utilizing a power link. Not clear if the “land” is holding a lot of mana like a giant battery or if the land is how the mana transmits to the nymphs (aka – an extension of the power link). If a battery, then any disruption of the link will take significant time to seriously weaken the nymphs.

        Clan Nethwillin has no connection to the land at all. They get their benefit via mana link amulets – again power links.

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      5. Dspring, how do we know that Clan Nethwillin has no connection to their land? We have not seen anything specific, but they have not had access to an empowered habitat for many centuries.

        Who knows what tricks their magi can blow the dust off and revive?

        In any case, what we DO know is their wand-carrying magi are very familiar with storing mana for combat and other applications. We saw that before the assault on the Dwork caverns in EXTERMINATION.

        If Daniel has actually made the time to empower Clan Nethwillin’s habitat on Black Island, as he seems to have been planning at the beginning of THRALL, then the clan’s magi and others may have access to far more stored mana than erstwhile opponents expect.

        If nobody chokes on all those “IFs” and “MIGHTs”

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      6. They also draw energy from the air. A great deal of the discussion in book 4 at the beginning during his conversations with the elves was how high to push the manna in the air. They use are much like the groves use the land.

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      7. Can you point to something specific in the book that shows they pull mana from the land or air. The only comments I remember is related to fertility and personal comfort

        1) comfort: Daniel was designing the layout of their building with particular focus on lighting

        2) Dark elves need a high level of mana in the environment to be fertile.

        I totally agree with you two that the Dark Elves have mana batteries and totally going to town with the mana amulets. But I do not remember any comments about them drawing mana directly from the land or air or environment.

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      8. Dspring, we’d probably have to reach outside the Daniel Black stories and look at Earth legends about dark elves, or elves in general. I totally agree there’s not much to go on with the current story line, because we have not yet been allowed to visit the Clan in its new — presumed — habitat.

        One thought does occur to me. If Daniel does increase the density of ambient mana inside the Clan’s habitat, their personal magic might adapt to it from ‘genetic memory’ and their spells, enchantments, etc., will perhaps already be crafted to take better advantage of greater access to more ambient mana.

        Totally guessing all that, but we do have Sefwen gushing all over Daniel at the mere thought of returning her Clan to the sort of mana density their ancestors new.

        There has to be SOME advantage to them in that?

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  5. Good for the baby….

    That was a comment Tina made when Daniel hooked her up with a mana feed. I am curious about what that meant.

    It cannot mean that Bast required a mana feed to be born. Bast obviously felt that Tina by herself could give birth. After all, she made no request for a mana feed to daniel – and could not have known Daniel had the option to create mana amulets and would do so for Tina.

    It might mean that some mana is required. After all, Tina only developed a magical talent after possessed by Bast. Perhaps that was a side effect or perhaps Bast made sure this happened because baby Bast needed some mana.

    I do wonder if having “a LOT of mana” would make a different to Bast once reborn (aka – child Bast) or to bast fully recovered her divinity (aka – after a year).

    Probably the answer will delve into the details of how gods are born (of other gods), but frankly the book is really sparse on details other than a clear statement that giving birth to a god is dangerous/difficult for a demigodess (aka – Mara)

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    1. Dspring, it’s probably more accurate to suggest that Bast knew Tina would have Daniel’s best healing assistance during a potentially difficult divine birth. Bast also would have all the months of Her development in utero to make helpful modifications to Tina’s biology so the birth can be as quick and painless as possible.

      Can we point out again the potential influence of Prometheus in this?

      Where could there possibly be a better combination of man and woman to bring Bast’s divine spirit back to physical existence?

      Imagine the conversations between Bast, Hecate and Hestia about that ‘coincidence’….

      As for mana amulets and healing amulets or mana/healing amulets, Bast would know a LOT about Daniel’s amulet because he was wearing it and She was there. Studying Daniel as She must have done, it seems likely She would expect he will be quite able to provide Tina some very good healing assistance. Remember, at the point Bast meets Tina, Tina has been biomagically transformed from human into cat person by Daniel, and Bast seems to approve his work.

      That’s some powerful medicine!

      As for Bast Herself and mana, remember Hecate’s comments in EXTERMINATION about the mana sources and magical tools once available to Her. Bast probably had something like those, too, and would be quite familiar with how a strong mana feed enables Her to enhance Her own meta-biology during fetal development and as a growing kitten person.

      Just imagine the welcome scene when Daniel first meets baby Bast. She’s going to be bouncing off the ceiling!

      As for Mara and birthing children, it should be no surprise when she spends some time talking with Tina and discovers how Daniel made that SO much easier.

      Yet another of the obvious plot threads increasingly binding Mara to Daniel by her own desires.

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      1. The mana generators were new to Hecate and she needed some time to understand them. The magic factory was the quick recognition item.

        In any case, Bast would have to assume (based off a 5 min conversation) that Daniel has a powerful mana generation source, that Daniel can divert that mana to Tina, that Daniel would want to divert that power to Tina. That is a lot of assumptions to make if it was really important. If the mana feed was critical, then Bast would have mentioned something to make sure she gets what she needs. Even if she did not know Daniel had a mana source, she could have asked for mana contributions if they really were critical. There are multiple ways to transfer mana after all.

        So I am very confident that extra mana is not REQUIRED. But that does not mean that extra mana is not very good for Bast’s development. I am guessing that it will mean a big difference in Bast’s power level when that year is up. Without the magic, she probably starts off as barely better than a demigoddess in power. With the extra mana, she probably is fully reborn (after a year) at full greater god strength.

        I wonder if the apples that Daniel will soon have would provide any additional benefit to Bast?

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      2. I’m more interested in how long it will take him to figure out that he can replicate the essence in those apples for his Hearth witch.

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    2. Well the coment migth as well be refering that the more mana Tina has acces the better atune she would be to deliver the reincarnation of a God, besides from the info we got about Gods and their aspect we can asume they are beigns mostly made out of mana more that flesh and blood so is understandable that the more acces to mana they have the better for their health.

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