Okay, so for the story I am working on, I have a problem-or, rather, Serena the Shaman/Witch has a distinct problem. She has only one low-mana spell-Hydro Jet-and it deals low but consistent damage. All of her other spells-Burning Frost, Whirlwind, Stormsurge, Lightning-consume rather high amounts of mana. So much so that she can only really cast any of those heavy hitters once per any boss battle, which means she can't afford to miss, creating save-or-sucks and hesitation.
However, Serena has found a surprising secret that can help her with her problem. Something that can expand her mana regen and allow her to actually contribute to the team's quest of going home (long story I won't get into here). An absolute game-changer that can enable multiple castings of even such demanding spells as Lightning (shoots a small lightning bolt) and Stormsurge (miniature tidal wave that can wash out a group of small monsters, like a wave of charging goblins).
What is this amazing secret? Hair. That's right, hair. For some reason, hair naturally catches and retains small amounts of magical energy from the mage who creates it, making hair magical. Mages who realize this can put more magic into their hair-hair can contain more magic than it captures naturally, especially when one may or may not alter the hair for this purpose-and as magic is drawn to magic of the same type, store more and more magic that otherwise would be lost to them through casting.
This is why powerful witches and wizards have so much hair-it's not just because they want to look good! But as great as this could be for Serena, it also brings with it certain problems. Long hair can easily get in the way during combat, traveling-basically just daily life. It can be a pain to clean. It can get cut or damaged easier as it gets longer. And depending upon how it's styled, it can even be a strategic disadvantage!
I know this because an aunt once demonstrated how bad ponytails and pigtails are. Basically, by gathering all the hair into one spot (like a ponytail), you make it really easy for someone with bad intentions to control where your head goes. Same goes for pigtails. And for this and many other reasons I hope are obvious, I need to ask: what is the best way to style ridiculously long hair?
The answerer must account for the pros and cons of different hairstyles and practically determine which one will least inconvenience an adventurer who doesn't want her power reserve caught, cut, snagged, or used against her. Ponytails, for example, on a quick and strong mage, can potentially be used as a whip (remember, magic is involved). But, as great as that might be, heaven forbid if the whip gets caught! Braids seem sensible, but as mages gain more and more hair (and trust me, Serena is going to want a lot of hair) they seem to become more and more unfeasible. The list goes on and on-I just want to know the best method of getting all that hair caught up so there aren't any physical or metaphorical loose ends here.
If you are wondering what kind of volume to expect here, imagine Serene reaching up, throwing off her scrunchie, and the screen going dark around her as her hair billows out like a growing storm cloud. Or....just imagine any anime girl with long, billowy hair. I imagine any of the heroes from Glitter Force could apply if they let their hair down. Not quite Tangled level hair-I think-but definitely getting there.
As noted in #1, magic is involved. That means low-key magical manipulation can and will be accepted in an answer. For example, while one can't create and control hair tentacles (too much mental effort to feasibly accomplish) one can magically manipulate hair and whip it forward to deal damage, a la Shantae. One could also shrink or thicken hair, change hair texture or rigidity to mimic things like rubber or metal wire (I hope the latter is balanced), or magically enhance the length if they just need longer hair right now. Obviously this would be expensive and should not carry an answer.
Further Specification To Address Comments:
The amount of magic hair can store is determined by mass and volume, not necessarily weight. Thick, messy hair traps magic better overall, for obvious reasons, and vice versa for thin, neat, straight hair. Lots of small but well-woven hair, however, can retain magic better than just lots of snarled thick strands. As a sidenote, odd hairstyles or hair colors (brought on by dye) draws more magic into hair and increases its ability to store magic, so Jessie from Pokemon could actually be a savvy mage in this respect.
There's no reason for the hair to necessarily be carried by the head-especially when the Levitation enchantment exists. The right accessories (like floaty beads) could really take a load off, or else a mage can pull a Bayonetta and make the hair cover their body, which would come with its own pros and cons.
Rate of use depends on the user's experience not the hair's surface area. There is no need to have hair billow in battle, it just looks cool. Any experienced mage can just activate their hair's 'charge' and unleash it all at once, or just activate one section's charge for when they don't want to just destroy their reserve.
Spells are an act of will; you can write spells down as runes to convey will for a later date, sure, but I fail to see how that could be done on hair. It's a good idea, and I do appreciate it, but I fail to see how I could make it work for my magic system.
The hair doesn't need to be attached per se, but A) attached hair can't have its power stolen by someone else, B) hair has to be specially enchanted to prevent magic loss during and after the cutting process, which is quite difficult and requires both enchantment maintenance and an insane amount of focus during the required ritual, C) attached hair, if destroyed, can have its power quickly snatched up while you can't usually do that for unattached hair
Finally, I appreciate your feedback, thank you for helping, and please let me know if there are problems!