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Demented

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  1. Basically what the title says. Does this site have a Discord that I'm not seeing? I'd be interested in joining if there is one.
  2. Taking "thou doth protest too much" to a whole different meaning lol.
  3. Demented

    Chapter 29

    Sargis hovered outside of the room where his two masters were. He had checked into the private infirmary area a number of times during the night. Every time he peered in he saw the young Lord Baldric sitting eerily still next to his father's bedside staring at the floor. At least by all outward appearances it looked like his young lord. Yet he knew that whatever was inside there was merely a puppet that Baldric was controlling from who knows where. He could still remember the strange horror he had felt creeping over him when the illusion had dropped around this thing's body and revealed what looked like an ice sculpture with a fully visible skeleton and internal organs, all forged of ice and water. When the illusion was up it was almost impossible to tell he was fake, but now that he knew it was all he could think about. How long had Baldric been able to make creations like that? How many times had he been talking with him when he in actuality was talking to some strange ice sculpture instead? Part of the orc tried to reason that this shouldn't be as big of a deal as he was making it out to be. If the young lord had ways of being two places at once that could actually prove to be a benefit to the Estate. Yet at the same time the image of what this puppet really looked like under that illusory veil still clung to his mind. It didn't seem to sleep either. No matter what time of night he had tried to come in and check on the Duke, he found this ice creature just as awake as he was before, staring at the floor in exactly the same position he was before. He tried to rationalize that he didn't want to disturb the young lord who was watching his fathers health and clearly was in some distress. Yet at the same time he knew he was feeling dark emotions towards Baldric that he knew were not in line with his position as the head butler. He wasn't wearing Felsalvia's ring now, yet he could still feel it on his hand like a ball and chain. The doubts and dire predictions she had spoken into the Orc's mind about Baldric had all proven disastrously accurate as much as he despised her for it. His every retort about Baldric being a good heir to the estate crumbled when he saw the state his Duke was in. He was going to be catatonic for months, needing constant care for even his most basic needs. He would be vulnerable to any and all sickness that might come his way if it hadn't been for the wardings that Baldric and Marigold had put in place. Stealing his resolve, Sargis moved into the room and tried to keep the dark feelings he had at the moment off his face. He didn't have the whole story. He must not jump to conclusions. As bad as everything looked, maybe there was a way to salvage all this. "I have letters for the Estate for you to look over young Lord. I shall also inform you that the funeral shall be starting soon." The ice sculpture that look so much like Baldric, and acted so much like him as well, stiffly turned his head upwards and looked at Sargis as if coming out of a daze. He looked like he was trying to figure out where everything was before he leaned back and wiped his hands over his face in tired aggravation. Why would a puppet body need to do something like that, Sargis thought perplexedly as he watched the eerily natural movements with a small shiver going up his spine. "I never really thought about it before, but I haven't slept in years." Baldric said simply as he leaned back into the chair and stared off into space. He didn't even seem like he was talking to Sargis as he said that. "I never needed to before, so it wasn't a function that was built into me. Whenever he slept we would all get the benefit of him sleeping at the same time. It rejuvenated us and made us feel refreshed. Now that I'm not connected to him I can't do that on my own. My body wasn't made for sleeping. It wasn't made to work independently." "Young Lord? I'm afraid I do not know what you are talking about." Sargis said with some concern in his tone. Baldric sounded so stressed as he spoke, so lost, so confused. The anger he felt towards this situation was being replaced with genuine concern. Ice puppet or not, this was unmistakably his young lord and he was in a lot of distress. "I can't reconnect Sargis. I just can't do it. If I recconnect I'm going to be giving him all these uncertain feelings and emotions and fears I have. I would screw up everything if I let myself recconnect. But I can already feel the strain of not being connected with him. I feel so alone Sargis. I've never been alone before. I've always been everywhere. I've been in the sky, I've been in the lair, I've been under the seas. I was all of them. They were all of me. Now I'm just this floating hunk of ice in the middle of nowhere trying to see the world through a narrow keyhole. It scares me being this alone Sargis.” Sargis was caught completely off guard by the words spilling out of his young lord's mouth. With every word spoken his voice grew more strained and erratic. He was trembling more and more in his chair as his hands shakily ran through his bluish white hair. Everything from the way his chest was heaving to his breathing that was getting faster and more shallow with every second spoke to a growing level of panic that was getting out of control. Though he didn’t understand what his young lord was saying, he knew he needed to act. ”I don't want to be alone like this!" Baldric all but screamed, his panic hitting its crescendo as he did so. Sargis rushed over and got to his knees, gripping the boy in front of him by his arms as he tried to figure out what to do. This young lord before him was panicking more by the second. His chest was heaving, his eyes were wide in alarm, and fear gripped his voice more with every word he uttered. The orc cursed himself for being angry with Baldric as he tried to bring him down from this sudden attack that was gripping him. He had made a point of learning how to make the magic item that removes fear from Marigold after the harrowing day they had cleaning up after the FearCrafter. How he wished that creature was still alive so he could rip him to pieces himself. He killed close friends of his, some of the victims had been mere children. Even this version of Baldric had been hit by his power from what he understood. Baldric began to calm down as Sargis pressed a sewn object made of his silk into his chest and let it glow into him, calming the fears inside of the lad. He had doubts that it'd work, since he thought this puppet was being controlled from a great distance by Lord Baldric. Yet to his surprise it took almost immediately and helped his young lord stop shaking and hyperventilating like he had been before. Sargis was surprised to see actual tears coming out of Baldric's eyes as he tried to settle himself back down. Whatever was going on, this was not just some puppet. The Orc was sure of that now that he was seeing him up close. "Young Lord." "I'm sorry." "No, I am the one who is sorry." Sargis intoned with some repressed frustration in his voice. "I thought I was doing the right thing, and I ended up leaving our estate nearly defenceless because of my actions. If I and the maids that were in front of your Lair had been where they were supposed to be and not trying to stop you, we could have saved some lives. Twenty two people are dead and more were wounded because I let myself be talked into something so foolish. Never again." "I'm not sure you could have done anything Sargis," Baldric said, looking over at his father, "I never knew there was such a lethal type of magic. If it weren't for High Priestess Marigold, along with her clerics and paladins, my father and many others would be dead. Not only that, but she helped fortify my father from illnesses during this vulnerable time for him. I cannot even begin to express the kind of debt I owe her." "Will you be able to attend the funeral? I can send word that you aren't feeling well enough." Sargis said, not getting up from his position in front of Baldric. He would destroy every single speck of Felsalvia's cursed items as soon as he was gone from here. Her poisonous words had all but killed people he was supposed to protect. He was never going to lend an ear to another word of hers from now on. The fact he even entertained her words made him sick to his stomach now that he saw the results of her influence on him. "No," Baldric said, working to compose himself as he continued, "I need to give a show of strength right now. The estate needs to know that leadership hasn't been lost yet. People need me to be there." Baldric took the letters from Sargis and noticed one in particular that caught his attention. He never thought he was going to see this name again, and yet there it was right before him. It almost shocked him enough to make him smile in bemusement. To think that he would still be sending letters after all this time. The letter had been from none other than Wilfried, one of the chief thorns in his side since he had become a MageCrafter. Wilfried had been terribly obsessed with Baldric in an unhealthy way, and was oppressively monogamous to boot. That would not have been cause enough to cut ties with the lad. However him attempting to capitalize on him becoming a MageCrafter to slap a collar on him had been a step way too far. Strangely, this letter had not been sent with a Seal from his father's estate. It instead had the seal of the temple of Belenus on it, which struck the duplicate Baldric as very odd indeed. The fact that it had such a seal alone was well worth looking into what it had to say later. For now though he needed to attend the funeral. The other letters were addressed to the estate as a whole and were no doubt inquiries about the power surge that kotik unleashed. Other countries may figure out the source later than Vinal and Marigold, but they would be knocking on the door of Silbel soon nonetheless. After he had put away the letters, making a point of keeping Wilfried's on his person, both Sargis and Baldric's attention was drawn to a knock at the door. They turned to see a Paladin with prominent wolf-like features standing in front of them. Not many were taller than Sargis, but this paladin who had the head of a wolf stood head and shoulders above him, to the point that he had to stoop to look into the door frame. He struck an imposing figure with his well groomed fur and golden armor, especially with the oversized hammer that looked large even for him slung across his back. "Young Lord, Sir Butler, apologies for interrupting," His voice had some of the characteristic whine of a dog's voice while having a rumble to it as well. It was clearly not comfortable for him to speak words with his canine muzzle, but he managed to enunciate rather well none the less. "May I help you Sir Paladin?" Baldric said as Sargis and him stood to their full height. "We were just about to head down to the funeral." "I would be happy to escort you down to the Funeral young lord. I have something I would like to discuss with you. It's..." The wolf paused and looked between Sargis and Baldric, "In regards to the last time we met." Baldric looked extremely perplexed at that. "You must have me confused with another person Sir Paladin, I do believe I would remember a wolf kin of your stature." "You once asked me to rephrase something because you didn't like how I said it. We were in the kitchen at the time. Her kitchen." He put some emphasis on that last part, making sure he communicated which “her” he was speaking about. Baldric's eyes went wide after a brief moment as those puzzle pieces fell into place. It was everything he could do not to yell out the paladin's identity right there. "Sargis, I do actually know this Paladin. That jogged my memory quite a bit." He looked over to the tall Orc and patted him on the shoulder. "Thank you for helping to calm me down earlier. If you could go on ahead and let them know I will be at the funeral shortly, I have something to discuss with this paladin." Sargis did not like leaving his young lord alone, especially after what had happened. However this wolf was a Paladin of the Golden Maiden and worked directly under Marigold. They were guests in the estate right now, and if one of his masters wanted a moment alone with an esteemed guest such as this he would need to honor that. With a formal bow to the both of them he exited the room and went down to give word of Baldric's arrival. Lord Baldric did not know what to make of this at all. If this Wolf headed Paladin was who the duplicate thought he was, then that raised a lot of alarming questions. Questions he wasn't even sure how to begin listing. The duplicate didn't get much of a chance to ponder the implications of what he was looking at either, since as soon as Sargis had left the Paladin had put himself down on one knee in front of the bluish white haired lad and lowered his massive wolf head to the floor. Baldric looked at the kneeling werewolf with his mouth agape and his brain desperate to try to figure out how to process what he was looking at. He had never seen a werewolf with groomed fur before. The werewolves from preja bog all had matted disgusting fur and slobbering insanity stricken faces. They were rabid killers who viciously and unrelentingly attacked whoever Babica had sent them to. Yet this person before him was as composed and collected as any Demi-human. Except he wasn't a demi human at all. He was a human who was transformed by Babica Preja. He was a human who Baldric had seen on what was probably the last time he had the face of a man and not a wolf. He was struck speechless the more he looked at the kneeling figure and took in what he represented. "Young Lord. My name is Paladin Berhanu." The werewolf spoke, once again revealing that strange accent that hinted to how difficult it was for him to enunciate his words with his current mouth. "I want to thank you for everything you've done for me..." "Wh-what I've done for you?!" Baldric interjected loudly before Berhanu could continue. Growing horror tinged his voice as he spoke, "I left you for dead in that place. I used you as a way to curry favor with Babica and make her lower her guard with me. I did nothing worth thanking me for Paladin!" "That is not true, young lord." Berhanu shook his head fiercely. "If it wasn't for your words that day, I would have never looked within myself and saw what I had allowed myself to become. At one time I had thought of becoming an adventurer to become a hero, but I had allowed myself to become no better than some bandit for hire. You had every right to leave me there!" "No!" Baldric paced around the room as he wrestled with what he was looking at. "Do you have any idea what you represent?! Berhanu, you are living proof that Babica's monstrosities were savable! They could have been reformed! Look at you! You became a paladin! How many more werewolves could have been saved like you!? Werewolves I cut down in my war with Babica. By the gods." "Do not think of it that way My Lord!" Berhanu said forcefully, looking up at Baldric with a firm gaze. "I was an exception, not the rule. The one who helped give me my sanity back said he had never seen anyone like me come out of Preja Bog before. I was granted a second chance no one else who fell into Babica's clutches had been. I am firmly convinced it was because of your words that I was able to retain a semblance of myself and crawl out of that Bog to become the Paladin I am today." He stood up and gripped Baldric by the shoulders, looking him in the eyes. "You may not have intended on saving me that day, but you did." He gave Baldric a wolfish smile. "I help people now. I heal and I protect where instead I simply tried to line my pockets and get some more cheap ale down my worthless gullet. I am more of a man now than I ever was when I was human. As for the rest of the werewolves, there is no telling one way or another what could have happened. What I do know is you were the catalyst that set me on a better path. For that I thank you." Baldric was at a loss for words at the pure conviction in Berhanu's voice and expression. As uncertain as he felt since he had been disconnected from the central Baldric, this Werewolf had found a level of clarity and drive in his life that was awe inspiring to behold. If there was anything in his life that he needed right now, it was focus and clarity on what he was supposed to be doing with his life. A strange thought occurred to him based on a conversation he had had with Marigold. Marigold had been like him as well, a parallel mind set adrift from their original self. She had forged her own identity as a high priestess and even gained a title independent of her old self. A title as well as her own soul. Perhaps, perhaps if he couldn't return to the central mind without compromising the mission, he could become an ally instead. "Thank you Berhanu." The duplicate Baldric said as he looked up with a calm taking over his body as he smiled into the wolf's eyes. "I think you are exactly the person I needed to hear from right now."
  4. Demented

    Chapter 28

    Daw shucks thank you! This chapter took a lot of work to get right so I'm glad you enjoyed it! Also that is a good point, we do need to find out what is going on with that! Stay tuned~
  5. Demented

    Chapter 28

    I hope you understand that I am now going to steal the phrase "Zeus's Balls" and use it liberally for now on.
  6. Demented

    Chapter 28

    Count Raudh watched Kotik disappear behind the veil of steam as silence entered into Baldric's Lair. He hadn't been inside of the lair since it was being constructed all those years ago. He had seen Baldric work so hard to make this project a reality. At the time the count hadn't been entirely sure if Baldric would even be able to make a Lair. Sure he was smart, but Lairs took decades, sometimes even a century or two to complete. Yet Baldric had managed it in two years. Was he the emperor of the seas back when he was doing all that? How come this was the first Raudh was hearing about this part of Baldric's life? It sounded like he kept it secret from his father and his maidstaff as well. What else was he hiding? Baldric and Count Raudh's eyes locked onto each other almost at the exact same moment as those thoughts broiled in his head. Though Raudh wasn't saying any of this out loud, he knew he did not have the inscrutable face that his friend did when he wanted to keep secrets. Raudh wore his emotions and opinions on his sleeve. His every thought could play across his face at times depending on how worked up he was. It got worse when he tried to hide what he was feeling, because he'd end up making his face scrunch into all sorts of weird ways in an effort to hide what he was truly feeling and getting nowhere. Maybe Baldric didn't trust him to keep his secret? That hurt to think about. It hurt enough that he couldn't maintain his eye contact with his friend who was an apparent emperor and turned to the side slightly. Shahnaz saw the awkwardness brewing between the two lads and let out a sigh. She was to blame for this in a way. The Tiefling knight had needed to get her emperor to the Lair by any means necessary, and from the way she understood it, Baldric was not going to be covering up the fact he was the Undersea emperor for much longer. With that in mind it was the perfect tool to use in order to get past Sargis and the maids. They had been preparing a whole slew of traps for her group, and she could not have confidently guaranteed they would have made it through there without being either captured or being forced to do something they'd regret. The method she had used had stripped Sargis and the maids of their teeth and allowed them to pass through without resistance. The downside was the Ruby haired lad had been struck practically dumb from the sudden revelation. It was plainly evident to Shahnaz that if she did not intervene soon, Count Raudh would start peppering her emperor with a slew of questions. Questions that would almost certainly have an emotional tinge of hurt and misunderstanding to them from the way Raudh's face looked at the moment. Raudh had been able to weather the revelations of Baldric's perceived power during the fight with Babica Preja and her legion. The young count had been ecstatic to have been able to land a few clean strikes and lend a crucial hand in ultimately bringing her down without any casualties on their part. He had been so fixated on that victory that he had been able to overlook the sheer power that Baldric had put on display for at least a little while. Now that this revelation of him being emperor had been dropped into his lap however, it was evident that count Raudh was kept in the dark of a lot of aspects of Baldric's life despite the fact he was one of Baldric's closest friends. The count had not been the only one rattled by her revealing Baldric's secret the way she did. She knew he would have gotten cold feet and told her not to do it if she had told him what she had planned to do, which would have resulted in a much worse outcome from where she was looking. Her Emperor was good at thinking through problems in a controlled environment and plotting things out well in advance. However when he's put on the back foot to the degree that he had been in the last day or so, his ability to react to problems diminished drastically. There had been the harrowing fight with Babica Preja which could have easily turned sour once she had arrived in the village. There had been Kotik's realm shattering second awakening that had been felt throughout the world from what they came to understand later. There had been the maidstaff somehow keeping information from both Baldric and herself which resulted in them stationing themselves outside Baldric's Lair in an attempt to stop them for reasons not entirely clear to her at least. Then there was the matter of his duplicate cutting off contact with him during their escape. He had felt so terrified when he had cut off that connection. Baldric knew his body was still alive. If the vapor item inside of his ice and water simulacrum were to be destroyed his mind would go back to Lord Baldric. Ideally he would merge perfectly back with the central mind as they are supposed to be the same person.However they knew from personal experience that it didn’t work out that way. They had attempted to assimilate minds back into Baldric after they had learned the risks early on, and those minds they tried it with became apprehensive and resistant to the idea. They saw it as giving up their autonomy, and that they wouldn’t be able to work on their own anymore to help out the mission. It was clear in short order that Baldric’s minds, while prepared to act as copies, were not prepared to fully integrate back after they weren’t needed. Their sense of self preservation would kick in, which would only cause more divergences and not less of them. This had resulted in Baldric needing to maintain synchronization with all the minds he had made to make sure divergences didn’t take place. However the copy was refusing any and all attempts to reconnect with him since that fearful cutoff. He was stuck with mobilizing some of his copies that were stationed in the clouds above his estate to seek out this copy and find out what had happened. He did not like being in the dark about what one of his duplicates was doing, because that could easily result in divergences that would be insanely difficult to rectify later. Finally there had been the arrival of exceedingly powerful and influential diplomats that Baldric had absolutely no time to properly plan for. He hadn't just been put on the back foot, he had been knocked off his feet entirely over the past day or so. If he was knocked out of sorts, that meant his other parralel minds were experiencing the same as well. Shahnaz knew from dealing with Baldric over the years that such a situation was not something to play around with. If she allowed for a heated exchange between the confused Count Raudh and himself right now which was already out of sorts, it could lead to catastrophic problems in very short order. "Emperor Baldric," Shahnaz said with some authority in her tone that caused both the nobles to look at her in her full knight garb. She did quite like the respect her armor was already garnering for her in comparison to the Maid outfit she had been wearing up to this point. Pressing that prideful feeling aside she continued, "I will take Count Raudh to greet the two assigned to give us the tour, and I will also take care of debriefing him on the current state of things and your status as the Emperor of the Seas. You handle Kotik and make sure he isn't going to lose his marbles under the sea like we've been worried about. I'm not sure the Science Facility can handle Kotik should he go all out." As she said that out loud she continued in his mind through their paired connection so only Baldric could hear the next part. "I want you to get all your copies to stop what they are doing and just relax. You need to settle your nerves down and regroup before you start getting divergences everywhere. No more work with your copies until further notice, you need to make sure you are resynced with them. I can tell you aren't thinking clearly anymore right now." Baldric nodded with some relief and answered her mentally. "Thank you Shahnaz. I don't know what I'd do without you." He then turned his attention to Count Raudh and spoke to him with a warm smile on his face. "I promise you Raudh, you and I will have an in depth conversation about everything later as well. You are one of my closest and most trusted friends, which is why I wanted you to be here in the first place. Follow Shahnaz and your tour guides and let them talk to you about what is going on for now." The Count gave Baldric an awkward smile and scratched his head. Both Shahnaz and Baldric could tell that the young Emperor affirming their friendship and trust had done wonders for his mood, even if he still had a lot of apprehension and misgivings about what had happened. "I believe you my friend. This is all just a bit much to take in is all. I am not even sure when this ascension of title would have even transpired…” Raudh paused realizing he had heard something strange. .”Also, what is a Science Facility?" Shahnaz looped her arm through Count Raudh's and started leading him to the double doors with a smirk and waved off the young Baldric to go take care of Kotik and to get his rest and relaxation in. She was going to handle Count Raudh from here, and she was not going to let him field a single question to her Emperor until he had properly settled both himself and his duplicate minds back down again. "Direct your questions to me Raudhy boy, I'll answer everything I can during the tour." Raudh had a befuddled look on his face as he was led towards the two imposing doors of ice. He was not at all sure what he was going to see on the other end of this now that he thought about it. Neither Baldric nor Shahnaz had gone into much detail as to what this was going to even look like. Was it going to be in water? Was a wave of ocean water going to pour straight through the doors as soon as the doors were opened? He flinched half expecting just that as Shahnaz opened the door, but he was met with an even stranger sight as she did so. The sounds of applause could be heard as the doors opened for the both of them. Count Raudh looked out and saw strange humanoids the likes of which he had never seen before. They looked like living silhouettes with their ink black skin that seemed to absorb all light. He was not even sure if these beings had mouths, as trying to see any of their facial features was next to impossible. However that wasn’t the most eye catching thing about their appearance. Living tattoo-like patterns made of bioluminescent color that changed shape and hue traveled across the surface of their pitch black flesh, defining the contours of their face and the like while they were over those parts of them. Their eyes and long hair were similarly glowing with this bioluminescent light. He was certain in the pitch black ocean depths outside, they would be quite enticing for fish they’d hunt. However these applauding individuals did not seem like hunters. Instead they were all wearing identical white uniforms that looked similar to what a doctor or an alchemist would be wearing. The room itself was very smooth and white from floor to ceiling and gave off an almost oppressively clean aesthetic to it. There was not a spec of dirt or mess anywhere in this large room where this applauding crowd was standing in. It gave off the impression that whatever work was done in this place required the utmost control of its environment. In the center of this sterile room was one of these ink black individuals, and standing next to him was an imposing figure that Raudh couldn’t quite describe properly. He was a bluish green color and wore the same uniform the rest were wearing, however on his back was a draping of fin like wings that seemed almost like a cape on the large figure, as well as a swishing barbed tail behind him that looked as if it could do a lot of damage if he wanted it too. The tall bluish green figure flashed them a big toothy grin, and Raudh’s eyes grew wide seeing just how sharp and long those teeth of his actually were. Shahnaz also had sharp teeth, but they were not quite as long as this individual's rows of carnivorous fangs. The applauding died down when Shahnaz closed the door behind the two of them. Before Raudh could inquire what was happening she spoke up to the assembled crowd. “Assembled staff of Science Outpost Mirage, Emperor Baldric expresses thanks for this warm reception. However he has other pressing matters he must attend to and as such, he will not be able to greet you all at this time. He however will be personally coming by to check on your various projects to see how they are progressing. We look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor!” The crowd seemed to have taken the news in stride before dispersing down the hallway, leaving them alone with the two figures in the center. This place was like nothing Raudh had ever seen before. What was a science outpost? He had never heard of such a thing before. He had heard of science before. It was the study of how the world worked through experimentation. Instead of simply letting magic handle the details, scientists sought to understand how the world worked on an intimate level. It was not a very common practice in the surface world. It was more like a hobby for certain nobles who had a lot of time on their hands and the mind to grasp such topics. This science outpost seemed vastly different than those trivial pursuits on the surface however. Shahnaz raised her hand and pointed to the individual with the ink black skin and the hair and eyes that seem to be flickering between orange and red at the moment. “This is Doctor Falmer, One of our lead researchers in the Central Orb of Science Outpost Mirage. Doctor falmer is a Sea Elf, and was one of the very first recruits that Baldric made for this particular project of his. Standing next to him is one of the few Sahuagin we have on the facility, Doctor Pyar who is Doctor Falmer’s number two within the Central Orb.” “I am ecstatic that the Lair finally arrived Lady Shahnaz,” Said Falmer through what sounded like gritted teeth, though Raudh could not see his mouth to be able to tell. Even up close distinguishing any facial features was impossible save for the parts of him that were glowing. “The construction of the chamber reallocated a whole bunch of resources and made productivity on any project basically impossible. I am going to be thrilled when these non essential personnel are out of my hair and back in the lower orbs working on their projects where they belong.” Doctor Pyar nudged the disgruntled sounding Sea elf and grinned widely at the two new arrivals, “He’s just disappointed he didn’t get to meet Emperor Baldric in the flesh, don't mind him. He’s been fussing about seeing him since the time table got moved up on bringing his Lair here.” “Pyar!” a pattern of glowing red erupted on the ink black elf’s cheeks, which was easily readable as a blush for their kind as he continued, “Not in front of our guests! This is Lady Shahnaz you are speaking too. She helped design this whole facility in case you need to be reminded!” Count Raudh looked at Shahnaz with some awe as he asked the question immediately on his tongue. “You did? You designed this place?” Shahnaz laughed and scratched the back of her head. “Yeah I helped Baldric with the design. It wasn’t that big of a deal.” “Not that big of a deal?!” Doctor Falmer sputtered, his bioluminescent hair and eyes flaring brighter in a yellow hue this time as he stared agape at her. “Lady Shahnaz this facility is simply one of the most ingeniously designed magic items I’ve ever beheld! If any one of us should be giving the tour it would be you!” Raudh noticed with some amusement that Shahnaz looked really pleased with the praise she was receiving. She also seemed to swell a bit more with pride every time the Doctor referred to her as ‘Lady Shahnaz.’ She clearly felt a lot of pride holding her title and getting praised for her accomplishments. Embarrassingly, Raudh never really thought of Shahnaz like this before. He knew Baldric was smart and was quite fond of Shahnaz in a purely platonic way, but Raudh had not imagined her being on equal footing with Baldric in terms of intelligence. It was a thought that made his own cheeks flush with some embarrassment. “I suppose I could show the initial schematics just to start us off.” Shahnaz said with a barely contained smile on her lips and a flush on her cheeks. Raudh noticed with a gleam in his eyes that her tail was swishing behind her in delight at all the praise filled words. He would need to remember how much she liked hearing that kind of stuff for later. Right now her charms were coming to the forefront for Raudh, and it had been some time since he had been with a Maiden since arriving on the estate. Shahnaz raised one of her gauntlets and called forth a glob of silver off of its surface. The glob quickly spiraled and formed into a small orb that floated out in front of the four of them. The next thing the four of them knew, an illusory projection of what looked like a staff submerged in water came into view. At least that is what it looked like to Raudh at first. The more he looked at it, the more he realized the water the staff was submerged in was the ocean, making that staff positively enormous. "What you are looking at, Count Raudh, is Science outpost Mirage." As Shahnaz spoke she enlarged the image and began calling up labels on various parts of the structure. At the top of the spiraling staff was a large orb with an orbiting ring around it. Extending beneath it was a spiralling structure that seemed to extend all the way down to the ground below where it was built into a disc-like pedestal. In the Center of the Spiralling structure were various smaller orbs that were suspended directly beneath the large orb at the top. While it looked like it would be cumbersome to weild, it still nonetheless looked a lot like a magical Staff. "We are located right here in the innermost chamber of the central orb." She reached into the illusory projection and tapped the large orb at the top, which enlarged it greatly within the projection as if it had been zoomed in on. Raudh watched with some awe as the orb was split in two and revealed the inner workings of the structure, as well as the blinking section that indicated where they were. If the scale was to be believed, that orb at the top of this outpost was gigantic, as Baldric's Lair did not take up much space at all in the center of it. "Why did you make it like a staff?" Raudh breathed out in some confusion. "It looks beautiful, but I feel like there's more too it than just looks." Shahnaz made a gesture, pulling out of the orb and back out to the full view of the spiralling staff like structure with all the orbs in the center of it that were suspended all the way down it's length. "Without getting into a whole lecture on the matter," Shahnaz began with a smug look on her face, "Basically different parts of the ocean have different types of natural magic available. The spiral you see there is designed to draw and harness the natural magic from the ocean floor all the way up to the shallower surface water and harness it into the various orbs you see here. The design harnesses the natural magic and allows it to become usable for a wide variety of tasks and powers the whole facility." "Lady Shahnaz," Dr. Falmer said with an exasperated and admonishing tone in his voice, "You are downplaying your work far too much with that description!" The sea elf turned to Raudh as he continued. "This Tiefling and the Emperor devised a way of harnessing renewable magical energy that all but bypasses the need for attunments without actually creating a Lair! This is an artificial magic focal point the likes of which scholars have only dreamed of! That's not even getting into the functions it has as a magic item! The applications designs like this facility have are near limitless!” Shahnaz looked positively bashful as she tried to wave off the Sea Elf who was positively screaming praise up at her. Once again Raudh was seeing a whole new facet of her friends that he had not known was there before. Like Baldric had said though, the young Emperor wanted Raudh to be here because he was one of his closest and trusted friends. They were sharing this information with him because they knew he could be trusted. It made him feel a sense of pride knowing these two truly impressive beings counted him among their friend group, and he resolved to make sure he did not betray this trust they were giving him. He may not know everything that was going on, but he knew Baldric and Shahnaz were some of the best people he’s ever known.That was more than enough for him to trust them and keep their secrets in his book.
  7. This chapter has been giving me some issues, but the general idea of it is coming together. I've been loving all the engagement my stories have been getting. The Next chapter of Spare Me Your Alpha Nonsense is in the works as well.
  8. It comes for all of us at one point or another. The dreaded writers block is the bane of any writers existence. Nothing is worse than when you're on a roll and all of a sudden you hit that brick wall where you just can't squeeze out anything creative towards that project. What do you do under such circumstances? Usually what I do is I ask questions of my story and my characters until I feel out where the snag is and fill out those answers accordingly. That tends to do the trick for me most of the time, but even then it can take some time depending on how much information I'm missing to continue the story naturally. I'd be interested to hear what tricks and techniques other people have learned to break through writers block.
  9. Demented

    Chapter 27

    I do love it when I can get the gears in someones head turning. Very good questions! I've always enjoyed stories that reward people for paying attention, so I've tried to emulate that in this.
  10. Demented

    Chapter 27

    good questions!
  11. Demented

    Chapter 27

    There was a time not that long ago that Kotik would never have agreed to have gone to the Undersea Kingdoms. To Kotik, the depths of the oceans was a vile and dangerous place filled with unspeakable horrors. To this day he had no idea how foolish humans and demi humans could trust those flimsy vessels they call ships that could be brought down by ocean waves on a moment's notice. Fish ranged from being small and gross to being terrifyingly huge with innumerable rows of jagged sharp teeth. Then there was the recent discovery of King Morcant, that horrifyingly huge Gigantes who dwelt in the depths of the Muirren Sea and radiated so much power even in an illusory representation of him. By rights he should be throwing an absolute fit over the idea of being pantheon knows how many leagues under the sea at the moment. Both Shahnaz and Baldric were watching Kotik, expecting him to have such a reaction. Baldric had even contemplated needing to restrain Kotik should he try to attack some of his subjects. Yet for some reason the Lynxian was handling himself much better than they were expecting. “Kotik?” Baldric asked with a bit of apprehension after the teleportation had been complete, “How are you feeling right now?” Kotik looked like he was deep in thought for a moment before he started to speak. “I still hate the ocean and everything in it, but ever since I awakened these powers of emotion I’ve been able to handle things like this better I guess? I can feel it in there wanting to react violently to this situation, but it wont move unless I let it if that makes sense. Honestly it’s a bit surreal. It’s like my emotions are physical limbs that I can control now.” Count Raudh nodded at that. “That’s a good way to describe it. When you gain an esoteric MageCrafter title over an emotion, they become something like a limb you can feel with your mind but you can’t actually see. I don’t know what it’s like to have all your emotions controlled like that, but for me that’s how my rage feels. You can still lose control of it like you can with a limb that spasms on you from over exertion, but overall you have a much firmer control over the emotion than you did before.” “Well that’s good to hear.” Baldric said with a bit of relief in his voice. “Now, My sweet, if I may ask you to refrain from referring to my subjects as demons and similar pejoratives in their presence while we are here that will help things quite a bit.” “Fine. I’ll still think it though.” Kotik said while crossing his arms. Even if his emotions were in check that didn’t mean his distaste for the undersea kingdoms and water itself had gone away. It just meant that he wasn’t going to immediately try to attack the first denizen of the deep that he saw. Not on accident at least. As that was running through Kotik’s mind there was a firm knock on the door of the Lair. All eyes turned to Kotik who let out a loud cat like hiss. The Lynxian cleared his throat and blushed a bit before he turned to Baldric. “Lord Baldric, may I be excused?” He looked pleadingly at his master as he said this, desperately not wanting to be near that door when they open it. “ I uh, I think I can handle the idea of being in the ocean right now, but I think I’ll need some time to adjust before I actually want to risk going out there. Otherwise I might do something that’ll get you in more trouble like I did at my party.” Baldric sighed and nodded with a bit of a smile. “That is actually really mature of you Kotik, Let me seal you in a room real quick and I’ll take care of things out here, then you and I can have a Magic class as a way to settle your nerves a bit and reward you for handling this so well.” Kotik beamed at that. He really liked Baldric’s classes. They always had such interesting information in them! He was bouncing on the balls of his feet by the time the steam closed in around him as a wall and cut off sound from what was going on towards the entrance. He had a content smile on his face now. He had such a good relationship with Baldric, he was handling his fears and hatred better towards water, he had really good friends in Shahnaz and Count Raudh; Over all his life was going really nice lately. Sure there was this hiccup with people coming to the Baldric estate, but he was confident his smart and resourceful lover had a plan and solution for that. He always felt so safe and secure around Baldric. Kotik’s heart leaped into his throat and he froze in fright as he felt something appear behind him. It was several entities, six or seven of them from what his ears were picking up. They felt wrong. Their emotions were all over the place, never resting on one emotions for more than an instant at a time. Even less than an instant. Their emotional state was in such a state of flux that it actually hurt his head listening to the din. He screamed in pure fear when he turned around. What the hell were those things?! Pressing through the walls of Steam was Eldritch horrors the likes of which he had never seen before. One of them only vaguely resembled a human, and he kept growing and shrinking at a rapid pace. One moment he’d almost have normal proportions, the next one of his arms would be stretched and warped out in a spiraling pattern with silently screaming faces growing out of the skin. The worst part was their heads. They not a single one of them had a face where they should have had one. They all were pale white and faceless on their heads, but everywhere else on their body they seemed perfectly content with putting faces on them, each with twisted and exaggerated emotions. Their physical forms were so fluid. Nothing about them stayed the same from moment to moment. Not their proportions, not how they were standing, not even something as basic as how many limbs they had. Kotik could have sworn he saw one of them have over a thousand arms at one point and grew out a bunch of necks and heads from his torso as if he was a hydra. Then they started to speak. Each one of them had a different sounding voice, ranging from so deep it dwarfed even Sargis’s speaking tones to so high that Kotik’s human ears almost didn’t hear them. It felt like they were struggling to say the words, like each word took an eternity for them to actually say, and it frustrated them that it took so long. “We know you” “We know you” “We know you” “We know you” “We know you” “We know you” “We know you” “We Knew you” “We Knew you” “We Knew you” “We Knew you” “We Knew you” “We Knew you” “We Knew you” “We will know you” “We will know you” “We will know you” “We will know you” “We will know you” “We will know you” “We will know you” “We Saw you” “We Saw you” “We Saw you” “We Saw you” “We Saw you” “We Saw you” “We Saw you” “We’ve seen you” “We’ve seen you” “We’ve seen you” “We’ve seen you” “We’ve seen you” “We’ve seen you” “We’ve seen you” “We will see you.” “We will see you.” “We will see you.” “We will see you.” “We will see you.” “We will see you.” “We will see you.” “We love you” “We love you” “We love you” “We love you” “We love you” “We love you” “We love you” “We Loved you” “We Loved you” “We Loved you” “We Loved you” “We Loved you” “We Loved you” “We Loved you” “We will love you” “We will love you” “We will love you” “We will love you ”“We will love you” “We will love you” “We will love you” “GET AWAY FROM ME!” Kotik screamed as his eyes and mouth burned with power. He was so revolted and horrified looking at these things writhing and morphing before him. What the hell were they?! Where did they come from!? He wanted to attack them, to kill them, but he didn’t want to get any closer to them. They scared him so much that he couldn’t control his fear even with his new abilities. He could feel his fear spasming inside of him, struggling for control to make him run away. “SEVEN! Back away from Kotik! Now!” The voice of Lord Baldric boomed behind the Lynxian as he stepped through the wall and pointed at the abominations. Kotik watched the horrifying creatures writhe and warp before they shuddered and violently shrank back into the steam. Some of them crawled away, some dropped onto their bellies and slithered away, others seemed to just stretch their body out into a thin strand before floating off like a sheet of paper on the wind. Kotik trembled as he pressed himself against Lord Baldric and tried to get control of himself. He was hyperventilating with how frightened he was of those things. Lord Baldric had to hold the lynxian for minutes as he cried and tried to cope with what just happened. His love helped to ease his fear by stroking his head and kissing him gently, hugging his trembling Lynxian close as he recovered from the shock of it all. “I didn’t want you to see them like that.” “What are they Baldric? I’ve never seen or felt anything so horrifying. Their emotions felt so wrong.” Kotik violently shuddered in Baldric’s embrace, “I’ve never felt anything like it. It was pure chaos, writhing, maddening chaos. They felt like a nightmare come to life.” “They are, in a way. I don’t usually allow them to manifest illusory images of themselves, but they seem to have acted on their own accord here.” “You-You control those things? Why do you have things like that inside your Lair?!” “Come, lets go to our classroom. I will explain it as well as the lesson I had planned for us. They are, in a way, related to one another.” The shaking Lynxian let himself be carried as Baldric walked and waved to have a Classroom set up. However he used different hand gestures this time. Kotik noticed that the room that had been made was much smaller and had a couch for him to sit on while Baldric still had his teacher's desk. It was a more intimate setting with dimmer lighting and felt more like an office than a classroom. Kotik actually welcomed the change, as when he was put down on the couch he promptly laid on his side and curled into a ball, hugging his knees as his tail curled up between his legs. Every time he blinked he could see those creatures writhing, unfathomably horrifying bodies and hear their strange voices speaking in unison. Lord Baldric let the two of them sit for a moment in silence before he actually started. This was both to give Kotik some breathing room and to give himself time to think about how he was going to broach this topic with his love. The Seven had forced his hand on the matter. He couldn’t just not tell Kotik what they were after they had made their presence known so suddenly. Why had they chosen now of all times to show themselves to Kotik? Did one of their vision walks tell them to do that? Baldric knew he sure as hell didn’t ask them to. Especially not with illusory manifestations of themselves. They had gotten even worse since the last time he had seen them do that. He wasn’t even sure if they were even close to being human anymore. “Don’t feel too bad about getting scared. They scared King Morcant the first time he saw them as well.” Kotik actually brought his head up at that, an incredulous smile growing on his face despite himself. “He was? But he’s so huge!” “A maiden is bigger than a mouse or a bug as well, but they jump on the table to get away from them all the same.” Kotik had the mental image of the giant imposing undersea King screaming like a maiden and jumping on the table, holding up his tentacles like a dress to keep it away from a mouse, and he burst into a fit of giggles despite how scared he was. In fact the relief from being able to laugh after such a fright only made him giggle harder. Baldric was glad he was able to amuse his love so well and played on it as he continued. “He gave me a big scolding for having them as well.” “I agree with him!” Kotik said through his laughs, “I think I wet my pants back there! Where did those things even come from anyway? Why do you have them?” Kotik was sitting upright now, wiping his eyes with his mirth, feeling a whole lot better after that. It helped as well that it was easier to get himself under control with his emotional dominion. “They are a mistake I made when I was very young and arrogant.” Baldric said with a sidelong look to the corner of the room. “One of a large number of mistakes that I can’t undo now. You met one of them back on the estate actually.” “One of what?” Kotik asked with a perplexed expression. “I think I would have noticed if I saw one of those things before.” “Not all of my copies are like them.” Kotik’s blood ran cold and his face paled at what Baldric just said. His throat went dry almost immediately as he tried to ask a question that was on the tip of his tongue, but Baldric nodded before he could vocalize it. “Yes Kotik. Those are copies of me. The first Seven copies I ever made. They are actually not made of vapor like the rest of my clones. Each one of them resides in a small orb of silver.” The Lynxian thought for a moment before he looked up in realization. “You made them before you were a MageCrafter?” Kotik Jolted in his seat as he remembered that none of them had faces where their heads were. “You made them when you were the faceless wight?!” “The first one I made was even before I started working as the faceless wight. You see Kotik, back then I was so eager to experiment with magical items that I thought of these outlandish ideas just to see if they would work. One of those ideas was being two places at once. Through experiments I learned I could copy my consciousness into a Magical item and make a perfect duplicate of myself. Not only did it work, the copy was able to share my attunement slots as well. I also learned that my copy could draw from natural magic in the area just like a normal magic user could.” Kotik looked confused. “Draw natural magic from the area? I thought magic came from attunement slots?” Baldric grinned at Kotik. “That is true for Supernatural Magic Kotik. Do you recall the difference between Supernatural and Natural magic?” Kotik sat up straighter as the class really began. “Yeah! Hold on,” He thought for a moment, stroking his chin before he snapped his fingers as he remembered it, “Natural magic works with natural processes and doesn’t require attunement slots. Supernatural Magic draws power from other realms and requires at least one attunement slot.” “Very good! I’m glad you have such a good memory for this stuff. I haven’t even really taught you how to memorize things with your collar cause you’re so good at doing it already.” Baldric pulled out a blackboard from behind his desk that was smaller and tossed it over to the side. It halted in mid air before Kotik, floating in place as it began to write out words on its surface. “Magic 103: Natural Magic, Lairs, and why Baldric wants Kotik to be careful while learning magic.” Lord Baldric stood up and assumed his teacher's persona. Now that the class was fully underway, he felt it was a good time to fully embrace that deadpanned way of handling himself that Kotik found so funny and attractive. He began the lesson with a question. “Kotik, what do you think I mean when I say natural magic?” “I’m… not exactly sure.” Kotik admitted sheepishly. “The things that require attunement slots and the things that don’t still are rather confusing and random to me. I know there are items that don’t require attunement slots, and I know they use natural magic, but I’m not sure what that even is.” “Well lets start with this. Do you think the powers of a MageCrafter are Natural or Supernatural? You’ve seen what MageCrafters can do, what do you think the answer is?” “I mean...It has to be supernatural right? You are gaining the power from gods from another realm right?” Baldric smiled and shook his head. “Nope. A MageCrafters abilities are natural magic. In fact it is the most natural type of magic a person can wield.” “Okay now I’m confused. What do you mean by that?” “Pop quiz Kotik,” Baldric said, pointing to his love. “What is the first law of Magic I taught you?” Kotik mulled it over. It took him a minute or two before he pulled it up. “‘The most efficient magic items are the ones that assist natural processes, not generate supernatural ones.’ I think that’s how you worded it.” “That’s exactly how I worded it! This is also what I mean when I say MageCrafting abilities are the most Natural type of magic. The reason for that is it takes far less natural magic for us to use our MageCrafting than it does for us to actually use a magic item. With Magic, the true goal is efficiency, not raw power. If you can do both, even better, but efficiency should always be your priority.” “But why does it take less natural magic to MageCraft than it does to use a magic item? How do you know what is efficient and what isn’t?” “Very good questions Kotik.” Lord Baldric leaned against his teachers desk and pointed to the Black Board. A scale was drawn upon it. One side of the scale was labeled Natural while the other end was labeled unnatural. In the middle there was a dash called the Attunement Threshold, and after that there were additional dashes that indicated the first, second and third attunement slots. “This realm, just like any other realm, has magic permeating everywhere.” The world went black for Kotik and Lord Baldric. The next moment they were in a strange field that was sliced up almost exactly like a pie. In one slice of the field, there was a flowing field of grass that was sunlit. Next to it was a slice that looked like an Endless Desert radiating sweltering heat. Another one Slice was a frigid rocky plane, and yet another one looked like foul marshlands. Every type of environment you could think of was in this strange pie like field. “However, the magic behaves differently depending on what environmental factors are present. For example, I cannot use my MageCrafting abilities in a place completely bereft of water like a Desert or a Volcano. The less moisture is in the air, the less compatible magic there is for me to work with. It’s the same for other MageCrafters. They need to be around their preferred Material to be able to use them, however mine reveals a truth about magic in and of itself. Do you want to guess what that is?” Kotik looked around and scratched his head as he looked at all the slices. “Is it that Natural Magic works with the environment?” “Very close my sweet.” Baldric said with a grin. He then caused something that looked like water to rise up from all the slices at once to about their hip level. It didn’t feel like anything on Kotik’s body, but it did remind him of very still waters, which annoyed him. “Natural Magic is a lot like Water. It will take on the shape and form of whatever container it finds itself in. What do you think the container would be in this context?” Kotik mulled the question over as he turned around on the spot, looking at the different slices of environments and trying to see what Baldric was getting at. Then he recalled Baldric’s words from earlier. MageCrafting was the most natural form of magic someone could wield. That’s what he said. “Is the container what materials are available? Like if there is more wood in an area, then there’d be more magic that is ready to work with wood?” Kotik found himself taken into a deep and passionate kiss, which he leaned into quite happily after the initial shock. He knew whenever Baldric did something like this Kotik had figured something out that made him so excited that the young lord just had to express it physically. He loved whenever he could work Baldric up like that. “Such a brilliant little Lynxian you are.” Baldric cooed as he pulled away from Kotik, and the cat boy realized he had dropped the illusion during the kiss and had brought them back to their smaller and more intimate classroom setting. “Yes. Natural Magic takes on the nature of the materials around it. That includes everything from how hot or cold it is, to what time of day it is, to even something as small as what you happen to be thinking at the time. Whatever is present in the environment is what the natural Magic wants to work with before anything else.” “So when you use an attunement slot to draw power from another realm,” Kotik said, trying to parcel out the information, “you’re reaching out to magic that fits what you are trying to do? Would that mean if I was in like, a Volcano, or in a fire, I could use a magic item like a fire rod and not need to attune to it cause the magic would already be there to use?” “You have no idea how badly I want to bend you over this desk right now and just pound into that delicious rump of yours for figuring that out.” Baldric said in a lusty, sultry voice which made Kotik blush and squirmed at the open flirting Baldric was doing. “I guess I’m being a good student today huh?” “A very good student.” Baldric gave Kotik a playful swat on his rump and sat him down on the couch as he sat down beside the lad. The lynxian’s face flushed as his pants that were made out of Baldric’s preferred material vanished off of him and he was plopped onto his young lord's lap. He bit his lip and leaned back into Baldric as he felt him stroking his small shaft between his fingers, letting out a purr of appreciation for the attention. “Now, my sweet, brilliant little Lynxian, with that information in mind, what do you think a Lair is? You’ve been to mine a few times now. You also saw King Morcants Lair. What do you think makes a Lair what it is?” Kotik tried his best to think even as his cock was stroked so nicely. Baldric wasn’t playing fair at all, as he was using the moisture in the air to make the boy’s shaft more and more sensitive while simultaneously preventing him from coming until he wanted him to. Kotik’s toes curled and his legs squirmed in Baldric’s lap as he bit his lip and tried to think about the question. He could vividly remember the first time he saw into Baldric’s Lair. Back then it seemed like he was walking out of another realm of existence, out of a world that only knew steam and heat. His eyes opened up wide as puzzle pieces started falling into place, he could see Baldric’s face close to his own growing a big smile as he saw the realization growing on Kotik’s face. “Lair’s are made to look like another realm of existence aren’t they!” Kotik felt himself buck as he climaxed right as he said that, and his hips quivered as his little cocklet spurted out rope after rope of cum onto Baldric’s hand. Kotik flushed as he panted and leaned back against his love and watched him lick the lynxian seed right off his hand sensually before responding to Kotik’s exclamation. “You are even more right then I’d thought you’d be my sweet. Lairs are designed to mimic and emulate another realm of existence, as well as craft it in such a way that the natural magic that permeates the Lair is geared specifically for one user or a small group of users and no one else. Every single Lair is made with this concept in mind, be it in the form of a Lair like mine or a Temple for a god that Clerics, Paladins, and Priests use. However, a Lair also does something else.” Baldric gestured for the Black board to come over as he kissed Kotik on his cheek and hugged him against his body affectionately. Kotik loved the closeness, especially after the afterglow of a climax like he just had. On the black board it showed the artistic representation of the Greater Pantheon of the gods with all the intricate circles. Baldric then animated them and caused the various circles to collapse into each other until they were one main circle. “You see Kotik, the walls dividing the different realms of existence are not as impenetrable as you would initially think. All realms of existence exist simultaneously together and divided. However, the more a portion of a realm resembles another plane of existence, the thinner the dividing line between them becomes. A Lair in effect exists partially in two realms and is fed the natural magic from both of them. The reason it can be so hard to make a Lair is you need to emulate another plane of existence in this realm without seeing it. You have to pay attention to the flows of natural magic and feel out what is getting you closer to your goal and what isn’t. There’s a reason it took me two years to make this place.” “What happens if you go too far and you make the walls between Realms too thin?” “That would be very difficult to achieve. You would need to mirror the other realm of existence in that exact spot perfectly. However if you did manage such a feat, you could find yourself transported to that realm of existence. However Lairs are built with failsafes to prevent yourself from being trapped in another realm. One of the biggest ones is it’s built in an interior and has a specially designed door that will always open from the Lair to your realm of existence. Even if this lair were to faze into the realm of water, it is sealed off in such a way that I can always come back to my realm and I don’t have to see or interact with the greater realm outside of the lair. However there have been instances of people stumbling upon a naturally occurring lair that didn’t have such failsafes and found themselves in another realm of existence. Preja Bog comes to mind.” “Oh that’s right, Preja Bog is a Lair isn’t it!” Kotik exclaimed, and then shuddered, “So you can be walking through preja bog, and then suddenly you’d find yourself in a plane of existence that is ONLY a bog?” “Exactly, and then finding a way back would be extremely difficult without going to Babica for help. She’d be able to see and interact with you, but no one else would from our realm. Or rather she would have been able to. Now that she’s gone that lair would be even more dangerous.” “That is a lot to take in.” Kotik breathed, “Before I ask for a break though, could you tell me what that attunement threshold thing was? It was on that graph from earlier.” “Ah you noticed that!” Baldric waved his hand in front of the black board and brought back up the graph. “Have you ever heard of ritual magic my sweet Kotik?” Kotik nodded. “Yeah that’s that thing where someone spends hours to cast a spell right? I’m not sure why it would take hours to cast a spell when you can do it pretty much immediately from the item though.” Baldric kissed Kotik on his head between his ears. “Well think about it like this. Natural Magic fits whatever container it is put in as you recall; Well you can pour a little bit of natural magic into an item that would otherwise be supernatural over a long period of time, and as long as you do not hit this proverbial threshold, you will be able to charge the item with magic without it needing an attunement slot. The more supernatural the magic, the longer it would take to fill it with magic to avoid the attunement threshold. Shahnaz got quite good at avoiding the attunement threshold back when we were working as the Faceless Wight.” Lord Baldric bringing up the Faceless Wight made him remember those terrifying creatures that were clones of Lord Baldric. The Young Lord noticed him immediately tense upon hearing the name of the faceless wight and knew it must have been because of the experience he had had with the Seven from earlier. “They weren’t always like that.” He said sadly to Kotik as he held his love tightly in a hug as they sat on that couch. “They used to be just like my childhood self from back then. We were all friends in a weird way. Friends that thought just like me and had the same ideas I had. Back then I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just thought I did because I was smart enough to make the item in the first place.” He took a deep breath. “I had these items that I used which allowed me to think really fast. So fast that it made the world around me seem slow. I used to sit in that state for hours in a meditative state. It was such a great way to think and visualize how to solve problems. My parallel minds did the same thing all the time as well. At first we had a limit on how often we could use it because Shahnaz had to be the one to charge the items. However even back then Shahnaz and I started to notice something was going wrong.” “What went wrong?” “My copies were starting to think differently than I did. They started disagreeing with me, or making decisions on their own that I wouldn’t have made. They started not wanting to link back up with me, and I had to hold my attunement slots over their heads to get them to cooperate. It was a short term fix, but that changed when I became a MageCrafter.” He sighed. “I made a bunch of copies of myself after that, and this time I stayed connected with them so what happened to my rebellious seven didn’t happen again. We also figured out how to make our lovely assistants during that time, and we began to assign the assistants to various parallel minds. I made so, so many copies of myself Kotik. I am talking about thousands upon thousands of them. I have what is in effect a small army of myself that are made out of vapor and water. I grew intoxicated with making them, because each copy of me could access his own pool of natural magic, and we could perform feats of magic together with our assistants that was so much more impressive than what we could do on our own. I hadn’t realized the kind of danger I was placing myself in until I met with King Morcant and showed him what I had been doing.” He squeezed Kotik, “I am so very lucky I didn’t hurt myself permanently this whole time. You have no idea how dangerous what I had unwittingly been doing to myself was. However my original seven do give some clue as to what could have happened to me. You see My sweet,” Baldric paused before he continued, “My original seven became addicted to the thought acceleration items, and they began to isolate from the rest of us and just steep themselves in the items all the time. It got even worse when I made my Lair. At the time, I confess I didn’t care because they had become so unruly and rebellious that I just let them do whatever they wanted. I had my army I made, I didn’t need them. I still regret treating them so coldly to this day.” A sad look came on Baldric’s face. “It was because I didn’t try to intervene and help them that they became what they were. They started exhibiting strange powers that I had never seen before. They started being able to go on these vision walks and had these dreams that were so far outside of my realm of experience I couldn’t understand it. Their minds by that point was so much older than the rest of us because of the thought acceleration. Yet they weren’t older in a natural way. It was more like they were stretched far too thin. They became stranger and stranger, more and more erratic, less and less human. It got to a point where even their illusory representations of themselves didn’t look human anymore, and I forbade them from manifesting like that anymore. Then they got even worse. I brought them to King Morcant to try to figure out what to do and he told me they had become artificial Heralds of the realms of dreams and illusions, and that I needed to keep them in my Lair from that point on and take responsibility for what I had done.” He looked over at Kotik. “I started to learn from them though. I learned about you through them. Those weird and psychedelic visions they showed me all pointed to you coming into my life. They seemed to know you were coming before everyone else did. I think it was because of their connection with the greater Pantheon.” Kotik gasped in understanding. “You said you found a way to get messages from the gods, but that it was really unreliable!” “I was referring to The Seven when I spoke about that, yes. I know they are terrifying, but they were once me a long time ago. Even longer for them than it was for me. I’m not even sure how old they are now, but I’m sure it’s in the order of thousands of years by this point. Thousands of years of perceived time spent in an endless deluge of psychedelic vision walks.” “Th-that sounds horrible. It’s like they are trapped in their own minds.” “It’s one of the many reasons I want you to treat learning magic with the greatest of care Kotik. I already made enough mistakes for the both of us. Please learn from me and avoid the pitfalls I ran into in my haste to gain power to fix everything. I don’t want to put you in a position where you end up needing to constantly make sure you aren’t going to lose your mind thanks to the thousands of copies you made or something similarly stupid like I did. I’ve managed to turn those weaknesses into strengths, but I am walking a very thin line most days.” Kotik nodded. With everything he learned about magic, he grew more cautious of it. For every advantage it offered there was a secret cost it was ready to spring when you weren’t looking. It made him wonder if he hadn’t already made a mistake or two himself.
  12. I said it before and I'll say it again, I take that as a huge compliment. Love me some Kandric Saga!
  13. Glad you liked my little behind the scenes peek. It's fun talking about the creative process!
  14. Demented

    Dear Santa

    Dear Santa Listen, I'm going to need you to not pop by my place this year. I know, you're super bummed cause you wanted to drop off all that good shit, but seriously this is just not the year. In fact, you probably shouldn't do your run at all this year. Social distancing is the name of the game right now, and a man traveling by airborne animal sleigh going to all the houses (above a certain income threshold) in the world just seems like a bad call champ. I mean, what if you got Covid and didn't know it? Then you'd be bringing that shit to all the boys and girls down their chimneys or wherever the hell you break and enter from when they don't have those. Perhaps you should look into Drone deliveries? You could make the drone festive or something, and I'm sure your elves could crank those things out in your sweat shops. Oh, excuse me, Santa's workshops. Gotta get that brand synergy right. Say hi to the Missus for me! Irreverently, Demented.
  15. Trust me my shits drenched in weeb as well, I get you lol. I mean my biggest story on this site stars a goddamn Neko boy, I think my anime influence speaks for itself. ain't nothing wrong with that. They're modern day teenagers, it'd be weird if there WASN'T someone who shopped at Hot Topic.
  16. Granted, but you can only do that for places literally called "The Grocery Store" and nowhere else. Now to throw a curve ball at the next person. I wish this wish gets corrupted.
  17. Demented

    Chapter 14

    Praise me more! Uahahahaha! Glad you enjoyed the lil plot twist
  18. "The only thing hetero about me is my Chromia" -Nikki probably Nikki caught anime main character disease. Heterochromia, the harry potter/Goku/My hair is perpetually messy no matter what look, sees dead people, ect. I'm going to have to prescribe him to sit at the back window seat so he can wistfully look out of it while contemplating life. Cain sure seems like a totally not suspicious person at all. No sir. Not suspicious at all. Not one bit. Also "Bro could you like give me like 30 seconds with the fuckin thing before you try and steal it from me?! I literally just found the damn thing on my bed. Fuckin chill!"
  19. Demented

    Chapter 6

    As any good performer would say: "Know your audience." Making that kitty blush was exactly the goal lol
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