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  1. Demented

    Chapter One

    It will be interesting to see how this goes. This isn't like a modern day romance where a rich guy can just have a lover and not worry about having an heir. Kingdoms notoriously care about their bloodlines, and that is going to be an ever present thorn in the side of this relationship if there is going to be one. Even if he 'changed the law' it isn't going to change the fact that he'll need an heir that Noah simply cannot provide. If he intends on keeping that crown and not having a power struggle on his hands, Noah here will have to be relegated to something akin to a male concubine at best, and given the text of this first chapter I'm not sure our cross dressing hero would be fine with such an arrangement. I'll be keeping an eye on this one, there's a lot of potential for melodrama and political intrigue in its future!
  2. I actually stumbled upon the MICE Quotient while plowing through a lecture series by Brandon Sanderson that was relatively recent. He had a guest speaker in one of the videos that talked about it. I've found it's super useful with figuring out what a scene's purpose is in the greater story and what the goals are of that specific scene. I think you're right about adding that caveat about narrowing the set up and pay off requirements to elements you're investing time in with the story. That said, the proverbial cigar can say a lot about a character depending on how you use it. What KIND of cigar is the character smoking? How long have they been smoking them? Has it changed their voice any? What is the setting they are in opinions on smoking? What is the characters opinion on their own smoking habit if they even have one in the first place? There's a lot you can play around with and make payoffs for later with something as simple as a cigar.
  3. Teabag quartet, meet the Galactic Mermaid
  4. Demented

    Chapter 23

    Marigold’s facsimile of a face hardened upon seeing the last person she intended to meet on the Bertolde Estate, or anywhere else for that matter. If the magic item had a heart, it would no doubt be beating much faster seeing the avatar of High King Vinal sitting down in the meeting room they had been directed to. The High King did not seem very pleased to see her either, as his eyes took on a much sharper and colder glint to them the second they rested on her form. They said nothing at first as the Priestess moved into the room and sat down at the table opposite of the high elf gigantes. She barely took note of the fact that both their entourages responded to the increased tension in the room and fanned out to protect their respective charges. The High King’s men wore gear that was made from thick leaves from the gigantes’s vines. The intricate design resembled full plate armor with many segmented layers. They wore skirted leaves around their waist, adding further protection to their bodies. The High Priestess knew from first hand experience that the armor the High Elf soldiers were wearing were far more effective than one would initially think leaf mail like that would be. Not only were the components that made up their armor stronger than any non MageCrafted metal, they were alive and would naturally heal damage on their own provided it wasn't extensive enough. They also acted with the wearer, offering a non magical variety of strength enhancement which allowed the user to lean on the strength of their armor instead of wasting their own energy in combat or labor situations. There were benefits to having access to living material that simply did not exist with other types of MageCrafting. “I didn’t realize the Golden Maiden’s Gift Shop delivered. I was not expecting to see one of her trinkets here.” The avatar of High King Vinal said with barely concealed disdain in his voice as he took a sip out of a rose goblet he conjured up for himself. Marigold gripped her gloved hand in frustration at that jab at her being a Magic Item, and her Paladins and Clerics took deep offense to having their vaunted High Priestess belittled to something as insignificant as a trinket from a gift shop. “What brings you out from your Lair High King Vinal? You haven’t taken interest in affairs outside of your lair in thousands of years.” Marigold asked, trying to keep her tone light and conversational. She did not want to get into another argument with the High King. It was clear his animosity towards her had not waned at all in these thousands of years, but she still wanted to keep things as civil as possible. “I’m here regarding family matters. Not that a hunk of metal would know anything about that.” He added that last part with some venom in his tone before taking a sip of his goblet. The normally aloof and flirtatious tone that the High King employed had long since dropped off his face upon seeing the High Priestess. Neither his own guards nor the paladins and clerics behind Marigold understood the hostility between their two charges, yet the tension in the air was palpable. “I suppose I should have expected you to stick your nose in affairs that don’t concern you however. That is how you operate isn’t it Trinket.” He emphasized the name he gave her, making it quite clear that he did not want to refer to her by her name or title. Her more aggressive paladins were beginning to reach for their weapons at the continuous insulting of their High Priestess, but she waved for them to stand down. Marigold steadied herself, hoping against hope that Baldric and Kotik would be coming soon to alleviate this awful tension in the room as she tried to navigate this minefield. Though no one in the room other than the two who were having this terse exchange knew what their animosity was about, several of the more perceptive members on either side could surmise that it stemmed from something that happened long ago. “Jayceon would not have wanted us to be like this…” Marigold started to say in a placating tone. However the High King's eyes immediately flared bright white as his face contorted into a snarl. Her paladins and Clerics immediately responded, pulling out their weapons and books in preparation for combat. Meanwhile the guards of the High king unsheathed razor sharp and quite massive leaf blades that she knew had quite devastating qualities to them. Should one of those weapons even graze one of her paladins or clerics skin, the resulting allergic reaction would almost certainly be fatal. “Don’t you say Jayceon’s name to me or tell me what he would have wanted, you vile traitorous hunk of trash! Don’t you dare speak his name like you didn’t betray him when he needed you most!” The rose goblet that had been in the High King's hand was now far larger than before, coiling around the High King menacingly as its flowered head almost hissed at the High Priestess like a snake. She could already tell the inside of the flower was now packed with deadly pollen that could easily be violently ejected into the room and deal massive damage and even death to her guardians. “If it wasn’t for the fact that you almost immediately ran and connected yourself with another kingdom, I would have rid this realm of your filth ages ago. It is only the fact that destroying you would cause all out war between our two nations that is holding me back from doing so. Do not press your luck with me any further than it already has been!” Each side of the table stood in battle ready stances for quite some time, the warriors on each side staring each other down on behalf of their respective rulers. They were fully prepared to lay down their lives in combat should either of their leaders give the order to do so. Thankfully neither the High King nor the High Priestess seemed willing to take it to that last step. The threat of all out war between the two nations was just enough to keep their personal grievances in check for now. What killed Marigold was she knew that the High King didn’t used to be like this, and it was largely her fault that he was so filled with rage, and perhaps why he hasn’t seen fit to leave his Lair in quite some time. If she could fix the mistakes of the past she would, but such power was not hers to wield. Not anymore. *** Kotik felt a bit unnerved seeing the copy of himself in the bedroom. Lord Baldric’s creation didn’t move just yet, he was still working on the interior of the illusory figure’s body, but it held an uncanny resemblance to the Lynxian. The younger teen couldn’t help but walk around the copy of himself, looking at it up and down while his tail swished about curiously. Several of the people within the room took quite a bit of appreciation at the sight, finding his adorably inquisitive and wide eyed expressions rather cute. “I’ll be basing this copy’s behaviors and mannerisms off of what I’ve seen from you so far,” Lord Baldric said with a bit of a grin on his face. Despite the seriousness of the situation he was quite enamored with his love circling around his copy and looking at it from every angle like he was. He had been like that himself when he first learned how to make illusions of himself. The sensation was sort of akin to looking at a three dimensional reflection of yourself instead of a mere two dimensional one that you would find in a mirror. “It’s not going to be a perfect copy of you since it won’t have your mind, but it should be enough to fool my father at the very least.” Shahnaz grew a dastardly grin on her face as she shimmied over to her master and whispered something in his ear. Lord Baldric’s face nearly broke almost immediately upon hearing her idea, and though the situation demanded a certain level of seriousness his more youthful teenager impulses ended up winning out. Within an instant, the copy of Kotik took on an exaggerated, romantic gaze as it reached out to lord Baldric. “Oh Lord Baldric, my one true love! Please hold me in your arms forever and ever!” The false Kotik spoke in such an effeminate way, swaying his hips back and forth and clasping his hands together in an almost pleading manner. The real Kotik’s face lit up bright red with embarrassment at his copy’s behavior and stood in front of the figure, yelling at it like it was sentient. “H-hey! What’s the big idea! I don’t act like that at all! Cut that out you!” “Oh Lord Baldric, My heart yearns for you my love!” swooned the false Kotik. “Q-QUIT IT!” He was blushing to the tips of both his ears now as he tried to cover his doppelganger's mouth and prevent him from saying any more truly embarrassing stuff with his own voice. The other three in the room were beside themselves with giggles at the antics, happy for the distraction of the dire news they had been speaking about moments earlier. It was at that moment that the door opened and another version of Lord Baldric slipped into the room. “We’ll be out in a moment, father, let me just get Kotik ready and we’ll head down to the meeting room.” The double said, making sure not to open the door very wide before closing the door and locking it for good measure. There were now two versions of Lord Baldric and Kotik within the room and despite the bed chambers size it was starting to feel a bit cramped with the doubles presence. Kotik found the double of Lord Baldric especially strange since it carried itself and acted so much like the Baldric he knew and loved. It also seemed to have something else that struck Kotik as very strange. “Lord Baldric, why does your copy have emotions?” He asked the young lord inquisitively, absentmindedly keeping his hands over the false Kotik’s mouth as he did so. The double of Lord Baldric was the one who chose to answer. “I am Lord Baldric. My mind is a copy of his and I carry all his thoughts and feelings inside of me just like he does.” “Y-You can copy your mind? I don’t think you told me you could do that!” Kotik said with some alarm in his voice, not sure how he should feel about this. Lord Baldric decided to head off questions before they really started piling up as they did not have much time to go into explanations. “Yes I can, I can make a whole bunch of them in fact. I’ll make sure to include an explanation about it in one of our magic lessons in the future. Right now however we need to get our plan moving.” With that the others in the room crowded around Lord Baldric as the copies of himself and Kotik moved towards the door together. Before the door opened, Lord Baldric encased the four of them in a hollow dome of liquid with very interesting properties to it. Though those inside of the bubble could only barely see what the dome was doing, it was in effect projecting the room around it onto its surface in such a way that it made itself nearly invisible. No matter what angle someone would look at the dome, it would be barely perceptible. The clone of Baldric made a point of opening the door wide as he led the false Kotik out with him. The stressed and frazzled Duke did not take much notice of what was happening at all as he led the illusory clones away from the room at a brisk clip, lecturing the two of them about being on their best behavior during the meeting. He certainly did not see the nigh invisible dome moving out of the room and heading in another direction. Kotik and the others at first thought they would be walking down the hall on the floor, avoiding maids and such as they moved their dome down the various corridors towards the lair, however they were soon met with a much different answer. The dome they were inside did not only serve as a method of concealing them. It also highlighted a vapor stairwell that was originally not visible to them when they had came into the room in the first place. Much to their surprise, they were able to plant their feet tentatively on the vapor stairs as they followed the young lord higher and higher into the air until they came to a whole different pane of ice made with the same properties the dome like bubble was. To those below, this ice floor that stood halfway from the ceiling and the floor was entirely invisible, perhaps even more so than the dome because of how stationary it was. This floor did not go from one end of the hall to the other either, rather it was it’s own mini corridor that snaked in the air above the stone floor below. “Whenever I need to move through the estate without being seen,” Baldric began, “I have these temporary halls constructed for me to walk through. Sometimes I make it into a tube and fill it with water to expedite myself towards the lair, but that takes more preparation than I had available to me. This is also the safest method.” “I always wondered where you vanished off to.” Shahnaz said as she walked along the path. Several were suffering from mild vertigo whenever they looked down at the floor below them, especially since they did not see their own shadows on the ground below. To anyone looking up, it would look like nothing was there at all. The vapor that had served as the stairwell up to the elevated floor was already gone before they even turned a corner. *** Berhanu tried to keep his tail from tucking between his legs as he stood with his fellow comrades in the meeting room. The tension between the High Priestess and this foreign ruler had been alarmingly potent and it was not clear whether or not they’d erupt into all out combat at any moment. They had thankfully brought the tension back to the point where they simply were not speaking to each other, but none of the soldiers on either side had sheathed their weapons since their heated exchanges. In some ways, The Werewolf Paladin could not believe he stood among the ranks of these noble holy warriors. He did not even think himself worthy enough to serve as the guardian of the Silbel Temple’s resident MageCrafter much less act as a guardian for someone as important as the High Priestess, yet that seemed to be where his life had been going ever since he had clawed out of Preja Bog all those years ago. It had actually been meeting that MageCrafter all that time ago that ended up setting him on the path that led him where he was today. Though the youthful MageCrafter of Liquefied Gold was not allowed outside of the Silbel Temple without heavy protection, there was a time when he lived on his own as something of a protector for his hidden village. Berhanu met the lad back when he was just an alchemist and blacksmith those years ago, almost directly after the werewolf had escaped from Preja Bog. He had been so lost and scared at the time when he had stumbled upon that secluded village of Goblins. Though much of the land surrounding Preja Bog is uninhabited save for some brave souls who mine for ore near her lands, that only applied to human settlements. The hidden villages that shrouded themselves so far outside of human eyes while still being outside of Babica’s Bog Lair was another matter entirely. They were the home of goblinoid and even some orcish races within Silbel that wanted to live outside of the reach of adventurers. It had been a long standing accusation from humans that Goblins were nothing more than Minions of Babica encroaching on human lands. They fail to point out that Goblins have a longer history in the country known as Silbel than humans do, and that the goblinoid races have faced a near genocidal purge on multiple occasions from various human kingdoms that have risen and fallen over the centuries. Silbel has a more passive approach to Goblins, merely allowing Adventuring guilds to put standing bounties on all Goblin heads, offering coins for every goblin ear an adventurer brings into the guild. Most humans in Silbel don’t even consider Goblins demi-humans, but simply some variety of mindless monster that infests areas instead of a thinking feeling being. This particular Goblin village was quite well protected, as he had discovered when he stepped on a trapped teleportation rune. One moment he was crawling through the woods, sneaking towards the village with the intention of stealing some food, and the next moment he was trapped in a cage in a cave somewhere else entirely. He was so scared thrashing in that cramped cage, yelping and trying to talk through the unfamiliar shape of his mouth. At the time he had only just started getting back his sense of self. He was not sure who or what he even was, all he knew was that the giant woman scared him and he didn’t want to go back. His thoughts were so simple and primal, driven by fear and a need to survive. His panic had only gotten more intense when a red skinned goblinoid peered around the corner with goggles and thick gloves to hear what the ruckus was about. “Who be making that racket in me cages?” Came the youthful voice of the goblinoid that Berhanu later learned was a juvenile hobgoblin. His ruddy red ears were enormous and flopped about expressively as he lifted up his goggles, revealing a smattering of monocles that magnified and enlarged his eyes. With some flicks of some switches on the side of his head the monocles all rotated out of the way while the goggles he had been wearing rested on his forehead. His irises were deeply purple and quite big on his rounded face as he approached the Wolf thrashing about in fright in the cage. Paired with his diminutive stature that was common with goblinoid races, he actually seemed quite adorable. “Why do The Babica pupper be tryin ta sneak into me village? Me teleportation runes only activate if ye be tryna steal or do other nefarious deeds within the borders of me village. What The Babica be playin at?” He leaned in and stroked his chin, squinting one eye and then another as he looked the werewolf over. “Unless ye not be workin fer The Babica? Ye face be screamin fear somethin fierce, and The Babica’s puppers normally just look heckin pissed and hungers.” Berhanu had shook his head fiercely at the time to indicate that he didn’t work for Babica. This made the Hobgoblin boy’s face light up with interest and curiosity while his ears flopped about excitedly. “Well me be damned, ye be understandin me speakin? Me don’t think me heard of one of The Babica Puppers gainin their thinkin brains back after she be workin her mojo on them. Can ye speak Pupper?” Berhanu had tried, but it only sounded like whines and barely formed half words more than anything else. It frustrated his excited nerves greatly even trying, as he was still quite mad at the time. The Hobgoblin lad raised his thickly gloved hands and gestured for him to calm down. “Relax yeself pupper, ye don’t need ta be sprintin before ye even learn how ta crawl again. She scrambled ye brain up good and changed ye mouth on top of that. Ye probably gonna need ta learn how ta speak all over again. Ye lucky ya ran inta me pupper, cause me no havin the love for The Babica that the other villagers have. Stick with me and me will get you back up and thinkin proper again lickity split like.” That chance meeting had set Berhanu on the path that ultimately led him to take his oaths as a Paladin of the Golden Maiden. He truly did not feel like he deserved to be among all these strong and fearless men and women around him who carried the title of Paladin alongside him. However he tried to keep such thoughts off of his features as he focused on watching the hostile ruler and his green clad soldiers behind him. It had almost felt like an eternity in that standoff before the doors of the meeting room had opened up and revealed Duke Bertolde, Lord Baldric, and the mysterious Kotik that so many that were here were there to see. At least that’s what they looked like. However the Werewolf’s nose picked up something strange in the air about two of the three that had come inside the room, something he almost immediately could identify. The scent that was on Baldric and Kotik wasn’t real. There was an attempt to mask the subtle scent of ice and water in the two figures with an illusory smell, but his werewolf nose coupled with his lucid mind that was already on alert for trouble saw through it almost immediately. He was about to voice his concerns before Duke Bertolde Spoke. “Thank you all for coming today. My son and I would like to formally welcome you all to the Bertolde estate and Silbel. After we handle the matters that are on the table, my son has offered to open up his private showing of the Bavaram circus to those in attendance here as a show of good faith and good will between our respective nations.” The Duke sounded as noble and put together as he could, but it was clear he had been momentarily put off his game by the sight of so many drawn weapons. He even half considered dropping the offer considering the tone he was feeling in the room, but he had gone through with the prepared speech anyway to see if that would help ease some of the tensions. ‘High Priestess,’ Berhanu projected through his helmet to the High Priestess near him. This more than warranted direct mental communication with his superior instead of his next in command. ‘ I have a strong suspicion that the two lads with Duke Bertolde are impostors created by Lord Baldric.’ ‘I was under much the same impression, thank you for affirming my suspicion Paladin Berhanu.’ Marigold messaged back to him as she adjusted herself in her seat, figuring out how she was going to broach this topic. “THAT LOVE IS FALSE! IT’S A FALSE SILBEL STRANGLER! WHERE IS THE TRUE ONE!?” All turned to face the crazed shrieks of someone who had stepped out of a secluded area of the meeting place, holding onto what looked like a boy in acrobat tights as he got closer. It looked like a Hareling, a normally quite docile and friendly race of demi-human, however the expression on the pink Hareling’s face said he was anything but. The insanity and rage that etched on his features was so strange and unnerving on a race known for their warm hugs and friendly dispositions. They were almost stereotyped to be the friendliest race in the world, yet this creature radiated a murderous rage like nothing many of them had ever felt before. “IMPOSTOR! FALSE! GIVE ME MY LOVE NOW!” Several soldiers from both the High Kings and the High Priestess had moved up to deal with him, but at least a couple of each staggered where they stood with Exhaustion gripping them. The Hareling laughed maniacally in such an unhinged manner that it sparked a twinge of fear among a few of the soldiers, especially as they checked on their staggered comrades. “STAY WHERE YOU ARE, ALL OF YOU, UNLESS YOU WANT YOUR FRIENDS SOULS DEVOURED WHERE THEY STAND!” The High King let out a snort of derision, which made the Hareling almost lose his train of thought as he glared at the green haired ruler. “What, do you have something to add!? Hand over my love or your minions perish! You as well Duke,” The hareling pointed at Duke Bertolde, “I have my Geas inside of you as well now! If you do not get your son and my love in this room in the next ten minutes I will have my Geas devour your very soul! Do not try me!” “Enough of this farce.” High King Vinal said with a snarl as he gestured to his rose, which fired off one thorn from it’s vine directly towards the Hareling at high speeds. The hareling was hit right between the eyes with the thorn, and at first it didn’t seem to do much more than puncture into his forehead. However, to the horror of the Paladins and the Duke, and even some of his own soldiers, Vinal’s power became quite evident to everyone in the room. The pink eared bunny scraped and clawed at his forehead in panic as a blistering rash began to grow and boil on his head in a spiderweb pattern. The maddening itching was like nothing he had ever felt before and it only got worse as the thorn began to grow and spread out beneath his skin. No matter how much he scraped and clawed at his face it did not seem to alleviate the horrible painful itching at all, in fact his eyes soon became blinded with clear liquid and blood alike as his blistering skin burst explosively. The acrobat boy scrambled away from the shrieking Hareling, and even though some of the liquid had gotten onto his own skin it didn’t seem to do anything to the boy like it was doing to the hareling. Within moments the creature that had been trying to hold the room hostage began to gargle as his throat closed up and his bubbling and blistering flesh continued to explode mercilessly from the intense allergic reaction. Before he hit the floor, he didn’t even look like the hareling who had initially revealed himself, his face had become too bloated and blown apart by this point to even identify him. All that damage had come from one of the thorns from High King Vinal’s Rose Vine he had been using as a goblet not but a few minutes earlier. However Vinal was not simply sitting there as this was taking place. As the Hareling had died that horrible death, the High King had handed out flower cups much like his rose goblet from earlier to his own men. Each one who drank from the goblet felt their fear fall away from them with a warm glowing feeling in their body. They still had the curse of exhaustion inside of them, but the geas had been dissolved and dismantled in their bodies before they could do any more damage. Marigold had rushed as fast as she could across the room to the acrobat boy, touching her glove to his chest and hitting him with a warm golden glow that cured the lad of his fear and the geas inside of him before it ate his soul. Unlike her own Paladins and Clerics who had a layer of protection with their attunement slots, the boy had nothing of the sort safeguarding his soul. A normal person with a geas inside of them would face instant death of not only their body but their soul should they disobey someone like that horrible hareling. She had seen what creatures like him could do to people in the past, and it was the only reason why she had not said anything about how brutally the High King had chosen to kill the hareling. Anyone with that power was not someone to be shown mercy, she knew that much from her time in this world. “The little bastard was a FearCrafter, a wretched agent of the Dark God of Fear.” the High King spat on the floor towards the hareling, knowing that the creature must have agreed to commit some truly heinous deeds to acquire such power, “Haven’t seen one of their ilk in a long time. Normally they are a pest to deal with, however if you find a way to rid yourself of all fear inside of your body either magically or through willpower it will break apart the geas inside of you. It’s easier if you use a magical aid to just temporarily make you immune to fear when handling these cretins, then they have no power over you at all..” Duke Bertolde felt himself stagger from the exhaustion curse that had hit several of the soldiers earlier, and he noticed with some alarm that the High King hadn’t handed one of the cures over to him. High King Vinal did not address The Duke, instead turning to his son. “I can easily cure your father of his Geas as well, but I will need you to stop playing games with me. Why are you trying to keep my nephew from me boy? Your answer had better be good if you expect me to save your father’s soul. I don’t know what time limit that psychotic hareling put on that Geas your father has inside of him so you better start either coming up with answers or bringing my nephew into this meeting place as soon as possible.” Marigold turned on the High King with alarm and disgust on her face at his proclamation. “You wouldn’t dare allow the duke’s soul to be destroyed when you could have done something to prevent it!” The High King turned on the High Priestess with his eyes glowing menacingly. “Don’t you tell me what I dare to do or not to do trinket! This welp tried to trick me, keep my nephew from me and take him Pantheon knows where! What obligation do I have to save his father when he won’t even face me in person!” The Duke’s breathing came so haggardly as his second attunement slot was destroyed. His face lit up with confusion and alarm as he gripped his son’s shoulders before crumbling to the floor. His body trembled with powerful exhaustion that made it hard to even breathe properly as he tried to stay conscious. He could almost feel whatever that terrifying Hareling had done battering at his third attunement slot even now as he lay drooling on his own stone floor. “Answer me quick boy! Your father doesn’t have much time!” Vinal yelled forcefully at the Copy of Lord Baldric while he prevented Marigold from approaching the Duke. The High Priestess responded to being blocked from aiding the duke by spreading her arms wide and summoning forth an array of hovering gauntlets of enormous size, each made of glowing gold and seemed to be under her direct command. “Stand aside Vinal!” She roared threateningly at the High King, “I will not allow you to let a foreign dignitary die during a diplomatic meeting when it could be prevented! You will start war if you allow such a thing to transpire!” “W-Wait!” The illusory Baldric said, finally finding his voice and raising his hands up in alarm. He had been so lost the second the Hareling had made his appearance and started yelling so loudly about the Silbel Strangler. It had hit the copy of Baldric like a dear in headlights seeing someone that not only knew that dark secret about Kotik, but claimed to be Kotik's lover. What did that even mean? Then there was the Geas that had been made inside of himself. Thanks to his awareness of the nature of magic items and his nature as a copy of Lord Baldric, he had been able to immediately identify when the Hareling had crafted the item inside of his body. He had figured out enough to know that this Geas wanted to attack his attunement slots. In a desperate move, the copy cut off himself from the Main body's attunement slots and isolated the Geas inside of his crafted body. The creation didn't have any attunment slots to attack, so it writhed about inside him as a concentrated being of fear that the copy of Lord Baldric didn't know how to deal with. He couldn't even reach out to the main body for help because the Geas could potentially hop over to his main body and attack his attunment slots if he did so. This version of Baldric's mind was effectively cut off from the rest of the copies until he got rid of this geas inside of him and it terrified him to think about. Terror that only seemed to make the geas stronger inside of him. He tried desperately to quash the fear as he focused on saving his father. “Pl-please save my father! I-I don’t know how to do this myself!" He hated how strangled and frightened his voice sounded as he pleaded to Vinal, "I promise you High King, I am not doing this to spite you! I have to do this! I have to take Kotik!” “Then answer my question boy!” Vinal Spat at the Illusory copy of Baldric who was now stooping over his father and cradling his head in his arms. The Duke shuddered and lost consciousness as his third attunement slot was eaten through, paralyzing his body entirely. The frantic clone of lord Baldric who was trying to process everything that had been happening so fast finally couldn’t hold it back any longer as he shrieked in panic at the High King. “Cernunnos told me to do this okay!? I-I met his avatar! I met him in a Tavern! He told me Kotik had to stay with me! He said I couldn’t let anyone else have him! You have to believe me! Please don’t let my father die!” Baldric had been so distant with his father lately. He had felt so detached from him, not even meeting with the man in person. Yet in this moment as his father lay so helpless in his grasp he felt so scared about losing him. More scared than he ever felt in his life. All his power meant nothing cause he didn’t know how to cure fear like these two high rulers seemed to know almost instinctively. Tears of relief came out of the doppelganger's eyes as Vinal growled and stepped aside for Marigold to rush in and cure his father of his Geas. However, the damage had long since been done to his attunement slots. It would take the Duke months to recover from the paralyzed state he was in now thanks to him losing all three attunements in so short a time. The illusory Baldric’s body was trembling as he hugged his father, wishing that he was doing so with his own body instead of this false copy. High Priestess Marigold turned on Vinal with her facsimile of a face contorted in rage. “We could have prevented this! Either one of us could have! What do you have to say for yourself!?” Vinal glowered at the High Priestess before looking down at the illusory copy of the boy. “I expect an explanation from you, In person, about your meeting with my Uncle Cernunnos. Kotik is my nephew, boy, and even if he’s been entrusted to you I am not going to just let you slink away with him and pretend I don’t know he exists. Where is your real body going to be?” “W-we are heading to the Undersea Kingdom of Triton. I am the Vicar of the Pantheon of Water…” A noise of recognition came into his voice. “I notice you said Vicar and not MageCrafter. That lends some credence to what you say boy. So that would make you the Emperor of the Seas eh boy? Well then that should make this easy. Arrange an audience in your throne room and we’ll discuss this like proper rulers. Send that invitation quickly though, boy, this day has made me quite aggravated.”
  5. Demented

    Chapter 22

    Daaaaw thank you! Happy Turkey day to you as well!
  6. Nice to hear Florida Man is using his powers for good!
  7. Demented

    Chapter 22

    I'd be kinda worried about a person who'd say "You know who MY favorite MageCrafter character is? The psycho stalker bunny boy!" lol
  8. Demented

    Chapter 22

    Lord Baldric felt uneasy as he held Kotik against him while they lay in bed. At first, he had thought he had been using sex as a way of distracting his love from his worries, but in the afterglow he found himself troubled with his own concerns. First on his mind was Kotik’s recent awakening. He now had access to an entire realm of MageCrafting that Baldric could not help him with. He had no real experience with Esoteric MageCrafting like the Art of the Barbarian. If Kotik got into trouble with an item he made inside of him there would be little he could do to help him with that with the knowledge he currently had. What was worse, it seemed to augment the range and potency of his dominion over wood, which caused a whole other host of issues. How was he supposed to give Kotik a safe environment to train if Kotik had such diverse ways to make magic items? He could stumble into some serious problem with an item and trigger an Exhaustion curse or worse. As he lightly stroked Kotik’s head he couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by this growing responsibility he had over the boy. Cernunnos had made it very clear, Kotik’s protection and happiness was his responsibility now. He had to protect him from all comers that may try to take Kotik from him. “Are you sure The Old Man isn’t mad at me?” Kotik asked without looking up at Baldric. The old man had given him a simple cover story before he faded away. Due to his store being destroyed and his downturn in business, he was going to go back to where he came from for a while to build back up his funds. However he said that he would be able to see Kotik again eventually, so he didn’t have to worry or anything. Kotik, when he had realized he had destroyed the Tavern, blamed himself for The Old Man going away. This only deepened his depression from choking someone to death after so long. As much as the boy tried to rationalize that it was Babica, a truly evil woman, the way in which he killed her really ate him up inside. “Of course he isn’t mad at you. He cares very deeply about you. Just like I care about you.” It killed him that he couldn’t tell Kotik that the old man was his father. As far as Kotik knew he was just Giant Blooded. Thankfully the secret of the Old Man’s identity was going to be relatively simple to keep. At that moment, Baldric’s eyes went wide and a shiver went down his spine. The parallel mind that had been speaking with his father reconnected with him and it brought the worst news imaginable. There was so much bad news that happened in that one meeting alone that it was hard to process it all. Kotik’s awakening hadn’t just been enormous for one thing. His awakening had apparently been felt by every magic user and MageCrafter in the world, and international politics had gone into an absolute uproar when Baldric hadn’t been looking. How did he miss this? How did something this massive fly under his information network? Yet it didn’t stop there either. The High King of Felsalvia had decided to not only take a personal interest in this, he had sent a very threatening letter to the Silbel government and the Bertolde estate about how Kotik was his nephew and that he should be relinquished into his custody immediately. The High King never took interest in any affairs outside of his lair. Not since the Dark Age Wars. Yet he not only took a personal interest in this situation he seemed to know for a fact that he was related to Kotik. Which was almost certainly true considering the High King was a Gigantes and a True Dominion MageCrafter of Vines. His father might very well be blood related to Cernunnos. The sheer forcefulness of the letter and the speed in which his Ambassador was supposed to be arriving at the estate alarmed him greatly. “Lord Baldric? Are you alright?” Kotik turned around to look up at Baldric after he had felt him tense up while he lay against the older teen. Baldric tried to answer that he was fine, but then other Parallel minds started reporting in on the guests that were arriving. The guests that were arriving today. How had this gotten past his information network?! Baldric’s face went pale as images of the supposed Ambassador came into his mind. He knew what the High King looked like from investigations into the heroes of Old through interviews with citizens of the various undersea kingdoms. That was no ambassador. That was High King Vinal’s Avatar. He knew how to make a fully fledged avatar like the gods themselves. Not the pale imitation that Baldric could make with his ice and illusions. A true Avatar. This was not like with Babica Preja at all. Babica was a decrepit warlord who had long since lost the prime of her youth and the sharpness of her mind, and even with that it took years of preparations and study to make sure the victory was assured. High King Vinal appeared to be still in his relative teenage years despite being one of the heroes of old from the Dark Age Wars. Since he was both a Gigantes and a High Elf, he aged exceptionally slow even for a normal High Elf. He was genuinely powerful as well, as he had been one of the heavy hitters among the Heroes of Old who dealt the most damage against the necromancers with his weaponized Vines. The only reason why Felsalvia wasn’t named after him was because he delegated rulership to the Queen instead. She was his subordinate, and they didn’t even seem to like each other from the way she told it. He had to get up, putting Kotik to the side as more alarmed parallel minds of his started feeding in images and intelligence into his mind. High King Vinal was not the only one arriving at the estate. High Priestess Marigold from the Central Temple of the Golden Maiden was here, flanked by a company of paladins and clerics. This was in some ways even more alarming than Vinal himself because he knew so little about the High Priestess. He knew so little in fact he wasn’t sure if Marigold was a singular person or a title that has been passed down over the centuries since the Dark Age Wars. He knew she wasn’t a Hero of Old, but she arrived shortly after the Dark Age Wars and has been a central figure of the Goddess of Gold’s temple ever since. Count Raudh, who had taken a nap after their lurid threesome, woke up groggily at the sudden movement that was taking place in the room. Baldric could not pay much attention to that however, because his mind was being inundated by so many updates from his panicked parallel minds it was everything he could do to sift through the information. From what he understood, the meeting with these diplomats was going to happen soon. The Parralel mind assigned to his father was buying them time to think of a plan, walking slower than normal as he made his way back to his room, but the writing was on the wall. Lord Baldric needed to figure something out and he needed to figure something out fast. “My friend, what has come over you? I dare say I have not seen you in such a state before.” “Lord Baldric? Did I do something wrong?” Baldric snapped to attention, gesturing his hand to assuage Kotik. “No my sweet. It’s just…” His words hitched in his throat as he truly tried to process the ramifications of what he was contemplating here. Should he move forward with his contingency plan right now, he would in effect be kidnapping the nephew of a High Royal of another nation. Kidnapping that would be already on top of the enslavement that has already pissed off a very powerful Gigantes. Silbel would not stand by him to keep Kotik, but they doubly wouldn’t stand by him should he go through with this plan. Yet Cernunnos had left no room for question. Kotik was to remain with him. He could not just hand him over to the High King even if he was his Uncle. Surely such a god would not overlook such a thing from happening. If he had to choose between angering earthly nations and angering a literal god, he was going to go with the lesser of two evils on that front. There was more to it besides that. He could not bear the thought of giving up Kotik like this. Kotik was his to protect, his responsibility. “Shahnaz, could you come inside the room please?” Baldric called out to the door as he stood there with an expression that spoke to how hard he was thinking right then. Even as the tiefling entered the room the only thing that was on Baldric’s mind was how to go about this without jumpstarting a repeat of the Dark Age Wars. He was dancing so tentatively on the edge of making an international incident by trying to keep Kotik from Vinal. “Uh oh, I haven’t seen that look on your face in a long while.” Shahnaz said apprehensively as she closed the door. “What happened?” “It’s not good Shahnaz.” Baldric said, pinching the bridge of his nose as he did so, “We’re going to need to move up the time table. By a lot.” “Timetable? What timetable do you speak of Baldric?” Count Raudh asked with a raised eyebrow, “You’re speaking quite cryptically at the moment my friend.” “Lord Baldric, what’s going on? Why do you look so nervous?” Kotik asked as he clambered off the bed and got closer to him. The only person in the room who seemed to have a clue of what Baldric was even talking about was Shahnaz. She did not look too pleased with what he was suggesting. “Are you nuts? Right now? You realize we got foriegn dignitaries on our doorstep right now? The Maid’s have been shooting messages about it with each other all morning.” “They’re here to take Kotik Shahnaz, I can’t let that happen.” Baldric said as he began to pace again. He had his hands behind his back with an expression that was deep in thought, weighing the pros and cons about what he was going to do. “Yet at the same time I cannot just leave without saying a word either.” “Now hold on, why would they want Kotik?” Shahnaz asked with befuddlement evident on her features “Is this cause of that insane awakening of his?” “So this really is my fault.” Kotik slumped dejectedly as his fears were confirmed. “Not exactly.” He hesitated, wondering how exactly to broach this topic with Kotik around. Part of him feared that Kotik might actually want to go with Vinal the second he found out that he was his uncle. He never had a family like that up till now, and he craved and desired attention. Plus Vinal was someone who probably knew how to handle Kotik’s burgeoning powers better than Baldric did. Yet the words of Cernunnos quashed that train of thought. He was supposed to be the one to care for Kotik. He couldn’t just hand over Kotik to Vinal and expect things to work out. Especially not with their mission regarding silbel. “Alright everyone.” Baldric began with a deep intake of breath. “I cannot get into everything at the moment as it would take too much time to explain,” Not a lie, but still rather deceitful, “However what I can say is there are very powerful diplomats that are at our doorstep, one of whom has already made it clear that he’s coming to take Kotik away from us. We cannot allow that to happen.” “Alright my friend, what plan do you propose to not let such a thing transpire? Do you plan on meeting with this person to negotiate for Kotik?” “Something like that Raudh. I’m going to have a copy of myself and Kotik meet with them, however I am almost certain they will be able to see through my illusory creations almost immediately. When that happens I’ll have to hope they’ll hear my copy out about setting up a more neutral meeting place to talk. As a duke's son I have next to no negotiation power in this situation.” “What are we going to do while the copies are talking to them? Where will we go? To a teleportation cart?” Kotik looked quite alarmed about what was happening. Baldric shook his head at that. “No. We will be heading to my Lair, at which point I will take care of everything from there. However we have to move to the lair without being seen so the copies look convincing.” The bluish white haired lad faced the count and took a deep breath. “You do not have to come if you do not want. This is almost certainly going to cause an international incident to one degree or another, and coming with us is going to cause problems for you with your family.” “You know I am with you my friend, though I would appreciate a bit more elaboration on what we plan on doing.” Lord Baldric took a deep breath. He knew Kotik wasn’t going to like this one bit, but it was better to rip this bandaid off now before they actually started sneaking. “Once we are inside the Lair, I am going to activate it’s emergency teleportation feature and transport the entirety of it into the Undersea Kingdom of Triton.” “WAIT WHAT?!” *** The pink eared Hareling had quite the satisfied expression on his face as he snuck into the port city near the Bertolde Estate. The family he had traveled with had brought him a great deal of amusement as they each keeled over one after another. He had cruelly told the boy he had been petting in his arms that he would let the little guy live. The whole time they were traveling in that cart towards the port city, he told the child the exact moment their loved one was going to fall over dead, relishing and stoking the fear inside of the youngster as he watched one family member after another die in such a horrifyingly sudden way. Yet the boy was too scared to warn whatever family member was next, cause he was warned by the bunny boy who held him that doing so would kill himself. The boy had tried so hard not to get killed, crying silently even as his father finally fell over while leading their horses by the reigns, followed by the horses themselves keeling over and dying while still connected to the cart. "Go ahead little one! You were such a good little boy. Go run and be free now. Don't worry! You're safe now! You are You are! Be free!" Yelled this with mock friendliness as he ushered the boy to run away. The sobbing youngster actually thanked him as he turned and fled. The Hareling watched with such glee on his face as the little thing sprint away crying as fast as his little legs could carry him. He fled right until the Gias inside of him struck like a snake in the bushes, making the fleeing boy tumble lifeless into the ground. It had been so funny watching these humans be so afraid of him. These evil, awful humans who had made his life miserable for all those decades. Now he was their nightmare, not the other way around. He was the one with the power now! With that thought filling his mind he rushed forward and infiltrated the port city near the Bertolde Estate. While Harelings upper bodies were about the same strength as a human of a similar size and build, their legs were another matter entirely. They had rather impressive jumping abilities which allowed them to travel rather quickly over short distances and leap onto small buildings. They did not have the climbing ability of a Lynxian, but with some training they could maneuver around city rooftops with superhuman ability. The Hareling was also quite adept with using fear to manipulate crowds around him. Even hints of fear could be nudged in one direction or another. When he placed himself intentionally in a slave auction, he could exploit the bidder’s fear of not being able to purchase their frightened prize and compel them to fork over much more coin than they intended on spending. Sometimes he would stalk outside of a human family’s home for weeks, figuring out what fears gripped their family with his Hareling ears. Sometimes a spouse feared that their love was cheating. The Hareling had been able to take that fear and stoke it, growing it into a full blown paranoia which led to such delightful results. He had driven almost a dozen people in various territories in Silbel to slaughter their whole family and then themselves without even showing his face to the family or crafting a magic item inside of them. He knew for a fact that the Silbel government has been growing more on edge lately due to his efforts. He had used his abilities to terrorize everything from merchants to the barracks of low ranking soldiers and guards. Sometimes he would even scope out a prospective target to become one of his fear crazed super strong minions who would slaughter and keep slaughtering until they were put down like a rabid animal. It didn’t matter to the Hareling how long the minion lived. Even if the minion failed and was killed right away, it would raise fears and concerns among their ranks about traitors in their midst. Fears that the Hareling could stoke up into greater and greater realms of hysteria until they were executing each other for imagined treason. He was not here to play like that however. No, he was on a much more serious mission this time. His love was nearby and he had to find him and finally be together with his Silbel Strangler. He was so excited to see his love after so long. He wondered how much the lovely little cherub had grown since the last time he had seen him. He had been such an adorable little angel when he had choked that fat horrible man to death all those years ago, it was almost certain he had grown into a true beauty since then. There was quite a lot of fear and uneasiness in town. As his ears felt and listened around, he picked up that something had happened. He could tell it had to do with when his love called out to him with his fear and his power so forcefully. He had called to the hareling so loudly that everyone heard it as well! How romantic! His love wanted the world to know they were meant to be together! He was only too eager to listen and find out where his love was. Every fleck of fear in the air painted more of a picture for him to work with. The Bertolde estate had a Lynxian did they? A lynxian with Blue eyes you say? That had to be his love! He never broke into a noble estate before. Those were normally so heavily guarded. Normally he'd not even chance it, but for his love he would risk it all to be together with him! Then he heard them. Circus performers, his ears tuned into them and their light fears about how their private performance at the Bertolde estate was going to go. His grin widened so broadly as he crouched on the rooftop and prepared to sneak into the festive procession towards the estate. His love will not have to wait much longer! His love was coming to save him from these filthy humans!
  9. Working on the most recent chapter of MageCrafter. This one's got quite a few moving parts to it so It'll take a little bit.
  11. This classic came back in my mind and I thought it fit here lol.
  12. If there is anything I've learned in my time researching writing techniques and how different authors tackled their writing styles, it's this very simple concept that seemed to always come back to the forefront. The idea that if you set something up, you need to have at least one payoff for it. This is broader than just if you have a beginning you need to have an ending, or if you show a gun in the first act you need to use it by the third act. Every element you introduce into your story should be put in there with a payoff in mind. I think using this kind of thinking has helped me get through more writers block than anything else over the years. A setup in the way I see things is any element you introduce into a story. Lets say we have a character. He's in his mid twenties, an alcoholic, working a dead end job, and is just having a rough time at life in general. There is a lot in what I just said that set up things that I can pay off later in the story. That pay off doesn't have to happen in the characters future either. That payoff can come in the form of backstory, characters from his past, how his apartment looks, whatever. Any element that is birthed from the details you initially provided with that description pays off your set ups. Maybe we learn why he's already an alcoholic, or how he feels about being one, maybe he really wants to change his life but he's been stuck in such a rut he doesn't see a way out of it. You can further pay off that idea by showing his apartment strewn with empty bottles that he hasn't bothered to throw out, late bills piling up on his table that he doesn't want to look at, maybe angry people banging on his door that he owes money too. Not only are those descriptive elements payoffs, they are potential plot threads you can expound upon in the story. Each payoff to the initial setups can cascade into being their own setups and organically grow into a plot. By asking what the character really wants to be if he wasn't in this situation, you can have a payoff of opportunity for him to start changing his living conditions. Maybe he has this guy he really wants to date, but he doesn't want to drag him into the slovenly depressed lifestyle he finds himself in. Maybe him wanting to actually make something of himself encourages him to reach out to people who can support him into a new life. You can build a whole lot of hi-jinks into this, making it as dramatic or even as comedic as possible. Maybe he's got this friend who he asked to help him stop drinking, and that friend has taken his new duty in life to a damn near comical degree, crusading against every bottle that should dare touch his hand or mouth. He pops out of nowhere like a ninja to deal devastating death to Budweiser cans everywhere. Or maybe it's family who is trying to give him a second chance and it gets really dramatic cause he starts slipping back into drinking after something stressful in the story happens. I find this way of thinking about things really helps to bust through writers block. When you're stuck just ask yourself 'what have I set up in the story so far? what kind of payoff can I employ from the elements I already have to push this story into a direction I want.' Once you start thinking about it and asking questions about the elements you've introduced into the story, ideas will start to popcorn up for you pretty quick, at least in my experience they do. It's all about asking questions of your story elements and using improvisation to find the answers to those questions that'll lead to the continuation and ultimate conclusion of your story. Do you use this kind of method in your writing? Would you use it if you haven't before? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
  13. Universe, did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? I have to ask at this point, cause today’s turning out to be a lot more shitty than I even initially thought it’d be when I left Dale and the apartment this morning. So far I’ve fallen down some stairs, found out my universe is scheduled for an apocalypse demolition by low skilled labor demons, I now have a local magic item dealer threatening to sick covens in the area on me if I don’t find a denizen to date and fall in love with, I did a nice thing for a would be carjacker which ended up getting me a ticket for my piece of crap vehicle, and THEN my aunt blows up that same vehicle with a kick not even an hour later. To top all of this off the most infuriatingly hot man I’ve ever met has decided to start courting me to make me hopelessly fall in love with him, and he even wagered that if I managed to fall in love with someone other than him he’d hold off on the apocalypse for the next one hundred years. We are currently waiting to be seated at this barely Italian restaurant. They serve an approximation of Italian food here of course, but everyone in the transaction knows that this isn’t what such dishes are supposed to taste like. You’re not here because you want to have the best Italian food; you’re here because you either cannot afford proper Italian food, don’t know what proper Italian food tastes like in the first place, or you simply don’t want to make it yourself and are willing to pay their prices to avoid your own kitchen. Wow Hunter, you might be thinking, you sure sound like a pretentious food snob right now. Listen, if there is one thing I miss about my family’s resources out of everything, it was access to their chefs. Holy crap do they have some top of the line people on their payroll cranking out some fantastic food all the damn time. I didn’t even know how good I had it in the food department until I started making my way out in the normal world and tasted this processed crap people call food out here. Do you have any idea how much sugar is in everything on store shelves? I swear you people keep wondering where this diabetes epidemic is coming from while doing lines of sugar like cocaine. My Aunt has been around long enough to go through a few famines and junk, so she is actually not as picky with food as you might think judging from her Marry Poppins like attire. Of course neither of us are eating anything at the moment because the line to get into this damn place is excruciatingly long. Did everyone want to eat at this place today or something? We have an elderly couple, a haggard looking mom with five rugrats screeching and jumping all about her while she struggles to find her wallet and her will to live, and a smattering of middle aged people who look like they are there on a sad and depressing version of a ‘date.’ These types of restaurants know how to exploit the old sunk cost fallacy don’t they? We make the people wait in the lobby just long enough where they get frustrated, but not so long that they give up and leave. If they leave they’ve decided it’s not worth giving more time. However there is this sweet spot where, If you hold them there just long enough, you’ve made them sink enough time into waiting for this damn food then they’ll actually spend more to make that time waiting worthwhile. That’s not even counting the time you end up waiting for the actual food to be made. That’s a whole other affair entirely. See, you know I’ve been waiting a long ass time when I’ve started concocting conspiracy theories about why I’ve been waiting a long ass time. It was right around the time my eyes started glazing into my eyelids when one of the worst things happened. “Oh my god Hunter!” Suddenly my body was tackled and hugged before I even had a chance to open my eyes. “I haven’t seen you in ages!” My heart leaped into my throat and my face heated up the second I realized who this was. Son of a bitch Universe, what the fuck man!? When he pulled back from his hug it almost hurt to look at the guy. He was taller than me, though that’s not saying much. In truth he’s a pretty short guy himself, however next to me his five foot six ass looked like a Harlem Globetrotter. He’s a skinny bitch, but he’s got padding in all the right places, especially towards his waist where, no matter what fucking pants or skirts this man is wearing it always accentuates his perfect buns. Yes I said skirts. See for awhile I had this stint where I kinda got swept into this, well, how do I put this exactly? I kinda did drag for a while! There I said it. I was at this gay bar one night getting tempted by all these normal gay dudes who wouldn’t be able to do anything for me in the bedroom, and I ended up hitting it off with some guys who cross-dressed on the weekends. They were so alive and energetic and excited with how they acted with one another I admit I got sucked in bad with the crew. I will also say that I can fuckin pull off some goddamn looks let me tell you the fuck what. However I had to stop going. Not because they were bad or anything. No nothing like that. I was starting to fall for a normal person. The normal person who was currently our Waiter right now. Fuck me this just aint fair. Why did it have to be this guy?! “Hey Felix.” I said, hating how my voice cracked looking up at that stupidly bright smile on his face. Fuck me, do you have to be such a ray of sunshine you asshole!? It would never work! “I didn’t know you worked here?” “Oh I just started doing this as a side thing gurl. Gotta supplement this bitches income somehow am I right?” Felix said this with a dainty move of his hand, leaning down to me and saying this in a hushed tone like he was letting me in on a little secret. All that before he snapped up and looked at my aunt with such a sparkle in his eyes that he damn near blew out the lights with how much energy it had. “Gurl, I adore everything about your look!” His hand gestured to my seven foot tall Aunt’s wardrobe fearlessly, beaming such a smile at her. “Honey you are a trend setter for sure!” “Oh Hunter I like this boy!” My aunt said as Felix sashayed off and gestured for the two of us to follow. God dammit why did it have to be him! Fuck! Stop swinging your perfect ass about like that you tease! You have no business being as attractive as you are. Hunter you might be saying, What is wrong with Felix? What scary dark past do you have with him? What made you have to stop hanging out with him and the other drag queens on the weekend? To which I have to reiterate to you that he is a normal person. As in not a denizen. As in as much as I find him attractive we literally cannot have sex. I don’t even mean that metaphorically either. Any movement inside of me that would cause the slightest bit of damage would halt a normal cock in its tracks. I’m literally not penetrable by a normal person back there! There is only one way Felix and I would ever be able to have sex. Only one way, and I would never do it to him. Cause if I did that to him I’d be dragging him into a world he knows nothing about just to fulfill some selfish desire of mine. I’d be no better than the assholes who try to turn me into a vampire or a shifter. In order for Felix and I to really date, and have sex, I’d need to turn him into some type of Denizen with enough strength to get past my non magical defense. I would need to do the very shit I judge my asshole ex roommates for. The scary thing was, it was getting really tempting to do so. Like, you don’t understand how much I was growing to like Felix. It was bordering on schoolgirl crush territories of heart throbbing. He’s just so energetic and positive and everything I’m not! it’s just intoxicating, you know? Like I actually felt more awake and happier after spending a night with him, like he recharged my goddamn positivity battery. It felt so nice. YET HE’S NORMAL. No Shifting, No Blood Sucking, no magic, none of it! Not only could he do nothing back there, I could actually hurt him if I got too excited in bed! It’s fucking not fair man! “Now ladies,” Felix leaned over the table and brushed his dirty blond bangs out of his face to speak like he was conspiring with the two of us. “normally I’m supposed to sell the food here like it’s the hottest thing since myself,” He had this smirk on his face towards the end saying he was half playing around and half acknowledging that yes he was that fucking cute, “but since I actually know Hunter here, just avoid ALL the stuff with red sauce. Bitch tastes like canned water. Their chicken Alfredo on the other hand? Shit, that was part of why I threw an application in here honey!” My Aunt and Felix hit it off instantaneously. They are like two peas in a pod, bantering and complimenting each other, ramping the energy each of them has up to such a point where I practically need sunglasses to deal with their radiant positivity. You’d think my bickering ass would hate a person like this but I really truly don’t! Believe it or not I actually like to be around glass half full people! The problem is I just cannot sustain that positivity on my own. It’s not natural for me. I need to draw that energy off of some energizer bunny of a person like Felix to maintain that good mood myself. I don’t know what kind of perpetual positive energy machine he’s got inside of him, but fuck would I want it. I can appreciate dark and smokey guys for sure. I’m not confined to liking one type of guy. If Felix was already a denizen I’d have eagerly and without hesitation dated him. Yet when he asked me out that last night I was with the group, it scared me so much I ended up never going back. Now I’m just so embarrassed. What’s worse is Felix isn’t even acting like I ditched him and the crew, he’s pretending like it never even happened! He’s just happy to see me! Fuck me! “If you’ll excuse me, I need to use the restroom.” I needed to get breathing room between Felix and myself. I couldn’t leave the restaurant cause my Aunt’s the one driving and I don’t have a car anymore. It’s driving me crazy being around him without him even asking why I left in the first place. Like I don’t feel guilty enough without him pretending like I didn’t do anything wrong by leaving him in the cold like that. Fuck me. I rush into the bathroom and start to just run water on my face, trying to calm myself down from being so worked up from seeing Felix again. I nearly jump out of my skin when I see The Devil from this morning standing with his hands behind his back like a perfect gentlemen. “Hello again Mr.Borisov.” That frustratingly hot deep voice intoned as he smirked at me through the mirror with his glowing yellow eyes, “I trust your day has been going well so far?” I crack the porcelain of the sink with my grip before I turn on the guy. “You’re really zero for two on this flirting business Devil. I thought you said you were good at this?” “I’m not here to Flirt, Mr. Borisov,” he raised an eyebrow and smirked wider on one side of his face as he said this, “I’m here to clarify some things you seem to be confused about.” “What do you mean?” “Well, you seem to be under the impression that I specifically said that you had to fall in love with a Denizen. I said no such thing. I merely said you’d need to fall in love with someone in this realm.” See now why does him saying such a permissive win condition for me make my stomach lurch in panic? He must know about Felix. He can read my mind after all, and who knows how deep in my mind he could actually go. For all I know he could know almost everything about me. “In a manner of speaking Mr. Borisov.” Cooed the Devil with that train of thought. Fucking hell I already forgot how disconcerting it was that he could hear my internal monologue. My body tenses as the devil moves his tail upwards and wraps itself around my waist, pulling me into him as he took my chin in his gloved hand and tilted me up to look at him. I try to push away but I might as well not even have my passive non magical defense with how useless my strength is against this guy. He leaned down till his face was mere inches from mine, heating my face up so much with a flush with how frustratingly hot I found this situation. “You adore Felix, you yearn for him, yet you won’t let yourself love him.” He spoke this so soft and sultry into my face as he gazed into my eyes. “You won’t let yourself love him because in order to do so you’d have to make him just like you.” He drew out those last three words, punctuating and pronouncing them so deliberately that it made my whole body shudder. “Yet you find me attractive and you know that nothing you do will hurt me. You don’t have to change me to allow yourself to fall for me like you would with Felix.” Fuck you eyes, why are you watering right now! Stop giving him the satisfaction! Why can’t I push this bastard away from me. “What was my wager to you Mr. Borisov? What were the precise words that I used when I started this little game with you?” How could I forget, his words had been rattling around in my head the whole day. ‘ I plan on dedicating part of my vacation to make you hopelessly fall in love with me.’ Those were his exact words. Those words that have been playing on repeat periodically since I heard them. Every time I fucking close my eyes I see this asshole. I am not looking forward to going to sleep cause I have a feeling he’s going to be there as well. “Precisely Mr. Borisov, I said I’d make you hopelessly fall in love with me. I was very particular with my choice of words. You see, Mr. Borisov. What does hopeless mean to you exactly?” His grinned widened as he loomed over me, his glowing yellow eyes flashing even brighter. “I don’t know what you mean. Hopelessly falling in love is just an expression.” “Is it? Is it really?” He leaned closer so our lips were so close to touching. Fuck why did he smell so good. “Hopeless means having no hope Mr.Borisov. You’ll fall in love with me not because I have to try particularly hard to court you, because if I truly wished to I’d be able to do so quite easily.” The fact that my face was on fire being so close to him like this made it disastrously clear to me how right he was, and that killed me inside. Was I this easy? Am I really so shallow that I’d fall for a literal devil? That thought seemed to have pleased the Devil quite a lot. “To be hopeless is to be incapable or unwilling to find a solution Mr.Borisov. Yet I’ll extend an olive branch to you as a show of good faith.” He spun me around and pointed me to the mirror, where he conjured up a reflection of smoke inside of it and created an image of Felix and my Aunt talking. “All you need to do to prolong this universe, just a little longer before it’s inevitable end, is to simply change your Felix into a Denizen and fall in love with him. Of course, you can’t just ask him if he wants to be one since he’s shielded by the collective unconscious. No matter how you’d end up doing it, it would be non consensual.” He seemed highly amused about that as he stroked my cheek. Damn him. Why the fuck is he putting this in front of me like this. Why was he even saying this like this was an option I’d even consider. “Because you have considered it Mr. Borisov, and it eats you up inside even contemplating it. It gives you such a delightful palette of emotions inside of you.” The Devil cooed into my ear. “You don’t have to do that to Felix however. If you simply give into your hopelessness and fall for me instead. You’ll know that you didn’t force me to change into anything, and you’ll find me just as attractive no matter what I end up doing after you give into your hopeless feelings for me. You already know what I am, just like you already know what you are. Yet Felix doesn’t know what you are, and without breaking through the mental barrier blocking him from seeing you for what you are, he’s going to remain in the dark about you.” I close my eyes tight so I don’t see the fucking pitiful look on my face. Stupid traitorous eyes were shedding tears, which seemed to delight the Devil so much. “I’ll also need to point out that you can’t simply turn Felix into a denizen for, shall we say, altruistic reasons.” I could feel his smirk even with my eyes so tightly shut. “You’d need to pursue him and do so in a way that is inspired by your genuine love of him. I will know the difference between you doing that and simply trying to buy an extra century for this condemned universe. No, Mr.Borisov...” He sounded so goddamn pleased with himself ”...you have to be JUST like the denizens you loathe so much to make it count. Does that not sound entertaining?” He asked that last part with a chuckle that finally sent me over the edge. I opened my eyes and threw a punch at the devil, but he had already vanished. Instead my fist hits the stall door and utterly shatters it and the stall itself with the aftershocks of the fist colliding with it. I can barely see how much damage I did cause my stupid tears are running so much. Fuck me!
  14. this particular cover speaks to me
  15. Captain Planet 🏳️‍🌈 He's our hero 🏳️‍🌈 Gonna Power Bottom this big Cheeto🏳️‍🌈 Nacho cheese, just watch it fly 🏳️‍🌈 He's fucking on the planets side 🏳️‍🌈
  16. Demented

    Chapter 21

    Irritation etched on Queen Felsalvia’s face as she walked into the inner sanctum of the High King’s Lair. She hated even referring to that sloth as the High King, but there was nothing she could do about that. One did not simply oppose a Gigantes and expect to come out the victor, even with her being an Arch Druidess like she was. As much power as she had amassed in her lairs, she knew in her gut that she would not be able to bring down this infuriating lecherous hedonist, no matter how poor his drive and work ethic were. Still, she had to hand it to him that he knew how to make a Lair. Vines thicker than any natural tree weaved together in intricate patterns far in the distance in all directions as it made the interior of this expansive lair. Flower Petals larger than most houses drifted listlessly through the air from massive flowers that looked almost normal sized from where she was standing. However should she approach any one of those colorful flowers that grew out of the walls of this Vine Hall she knew it would dwarf her body many times over. Beneath the bridge she was walking was a flowing river of fragrant and luxurious wine that was constantly being circulated throughout the subterranean Lair. She could already see several of the wine waterfalls spilling from further down the hall, it’s purple liquid pouring out in massive quantities and roaring into the flowing river of wine below. It filled the hall with the sweet scent of it all. Felsalvia hated it here however. Just being in this place was liable to make her inebriated and prevent her from doing her job properly. Debauchery and Hedonism reeked from every pore of these vines. Debauchery that reminded her so much of that cursed Incubus human brat that corrupted her first born. That bluish white haired human brat who turned her firstborn away from the embrace of fair maidens and into the arms of a never ending parade of males she could not stifle no matter her efforts to stem the tide. She did not want her beloved first born to become like the High King, a lazy good for nothing layabout who spent his days in the company of his harem of men and boys of all ages and races while partaking in his never ending harvest that he could summon forth from his vines. She could see the deplorable high king lounging back in a hot tub filled with fragrant liquids and oils. From a distance he looked no older than a lad of Fifteen years of age in human years. However one would have to stand so far back that they’d be looking at him from the horizon in order to get that sense. Despite his lithe and youthful looking proportions, he was so enormous that he made the tallest of normal giants look like little halflings in comparison. His green hair was immensely long and well cared for, draping over the vine tub he was leaning against and cascading down to the heated concoction he was bathing in. Covering his body from head to toe was hundreds of his concubines hard at work scrubbing, rubbing and licking various parts of him. Queen Felsalvia had to look away in distaste from his lap, where an entire harem was taking care of his immense girth with their entire bodies, enjoying the precum that was dribbling out of his length like a mini waterfall for them to feast on. Some younger lads were even playing on his tip, taking turns dunking their head inside of his cock slit and laughing at how covered in seed their friend was when they pulled the person out of the entrance. Even as this happened the Gigantes High king lifted a Goblet made of Vines and a rose petal cup and daintily held it under a waterfall before bringing the delicious contents to his lips. Contents that he could change the flavor and age of however he saw fit. Holding back her disgust at his open debauchery, Queen Felsalvia knelt down on the elevated platform above his steaming tub of wine and vines. “ You requested my presence, High King Vinal?” She tried to keep her tone free of her internal judgment of the Gigantes, but every pour of her wished she was not subordinate under him. Her country was named after her. She had been in control of these lands for thousands of years. Everyone acknowledged her as the rightful ruler. Yet she knew deep down should this lout decide he wanted to, he could dethrone her immediately and assume control of the nation whenever he chose. She was only working as the queen because he was simply too lazy to be bothered with doing his duty as the high king. “I sure did darling!” The youthful Gigantes said as he adjusted himself in his waterfall fed tub of wine, raising up his smooth leg and draping it over the other as he did so. The very act of doing so made the water below writhe and crash with waves like he were sitting in the very ocean itself. His concubines took this all in stride, knowing how to maneuver about his body and maintain their balance regardless of what little move or twitch he might have. They were trained for this after all, and quite thoroughly. “You didn’t happen to feel that immense burst of magic recently have you?” He asked with a simpering grin, looking down at her through lidded eyes from high above her as he sipped on his flower goblet. “The one that came from over yonder in Silbel?” “Of course your highness. That happened a day ago.” She gritted her teeth, knowing now what this was about. “You see Darling, I have been curious as to why you did not come by and talk to me about such a thing transpiring. Especially when I made it quite clear that I wanted you to report to me immediately if such an emanation should occur.” He smirked behind his perfect red goblet while taking a sip before continuing, “Is there perhaps a reason why you did not want to report to me about this?” “I’ve just been very busy with handling matters of national concern, your highness.” “See now that’s disappointing to hear,” He said dryly as he swished his goblet and stared into its contents, “Because I delegated such matters to you because you said that you could handle them. If what you say is truthful and you truly have just been too busy, then perhaps I have entrusted too much authority to my little Queen and need to start considering getting you...help.” He let that last word float in the air, enjoying her steeled expression as she tried to maintain her composure. “I will not let my duties lax again Your highness.” She wanted to use every single attunement in all of her lairs to wipe this smug hedonist off of her country's map! Damn him threatening her sovereignty like this! “No matter Darling,” He said lazily, willing up some wine out of the pool and creating a reflective mirror in the air, before revealing the Kingdom of Silbel on it. “I ended up getting curious while I waited for you to do the job you’ve been graciously granted to do.” she gritted her teeth at that jab letting her know her place so casually. “I ended up taking care of the investigation on my own. It's actually rather fun! Haven’t had a reason to use the old Vicar authority I have in a long while.” He grinned down at the high elf queen as he adjusted himself and rested the side of his head on his fist. “Turns out I have something of a nephew! Isn’t that fun Felsalvia?” “Th-That magical emanation was from a Gigantes your highness?” She asked with a subtle gulp. The last thing this world needed was another one of him lazing around making things harder for her! “Not just a Gigantes darling, an especially young and adorable nephew of mine! Look at this little cutie!” He waved his hand, revealing the image of a Lynxian with staggeringly blue eyes, beautiful almond colored hair and an ornate collar on his neck fastened with a truly luxurious array of blue gemstones. One in the middle in particular had a crest that made her jaw clench and a vein pop out of her head. Of COURSE that accursed Dukedom had something to do with this! This disastrous magical emanation that set international politics ablaze in the past twenty four hours. “Turns out my Uncle Cernunnos was a naughty little deity thirteen years ago and had some fun with a Lynxian maiden. See this is why it is better to bed with the fellows instead of you ladies Darling. My relatives upstairs would get in much less trouble if they just found a nice lad to bed instead of risk seeding a maiden. Still, to each their own I suppose.” He said the last part with a shrug before letting out a grunt and climaxing. She had to turn her gaze in disgust as his cum rained down upon the harem working his shaft, drenching them in his seed. “Feeding time boys! Get on down there and help your fellow harem mates clean me up.” he called out to the other men and lads in the chamber, who all responded by sliding down his smooth body or diving into the steaming wine to swim over to his hips so they could taste his seed. “Where was I,” He continued, sipping on his goblet and enjoying the woman’s clear distaste of his antics, while also basking in the feeling of so many bodies hard at work to consume his seed. “Ah yes, I think I am going to pay my dearest nephew a visit!” She nearly fell out of her kneeling position at that proclamation. “Y-you are going to leave your Lair your highness?” “Now why would I do a thing like that Darling?” He asked curiously, resting his head even further into his fist. As he did so, he lazily willed one of the lads on his lap upwards by the ankle with a lasso-like tendril from the wine below before dunking him entirely within his cock, moving the youth around inside of him before pulling him out completely coated in his seed. Boys his age and a bit younger swarmed the lad and began cleaning him up with their mouths as they did so. “Y-you said you were going to visit your Nephew. Does that not mean you would leave your Lair?” “Do the gods visit in person when they go over and meet someone darling?” He asked her with a raised eyebrow while repeating his lewd act with another lad, this time a halfling who held his nose and breath before getting dunked inside the entrance of his shaft. He enjoyed the writhing sensation inside of him before he pulled the lad back out by the ankle and plopped him next to his similarly treated friend. “Th-they do not Your Highness, they use an Avatar.” He grinned down at her even as other lads and even some of the older males on his laps hopped up and down wanting to try the game he had done with the first two. “Precisely darling. Which is what I’ll be doing.” Rising out of the tub of wine rose a vine that kept spiralling up till it reached the platform she was kneeling on. The tight rosebud that rested on the very top of the vine opened up with a flourish and revealed something that made Queen Felsalvia’s eyes widen in barely repressed alarm. Standing before her was a perfect replica of the High King, but this time at the scale of a normal high elf lad about his apparent age instead of his enormous body that was behind him. “Hello Darling! Do you like my new body?” He twisted around and checked out his new form. She looked up to see that the Real Vinal was perfectly present and aware of his surroundings, in fact he didn’t seem different at all. Yet this small duplicate was unmistakably the same person. “This little fella has a duplicate of my mind and I can assure you he is not lacking an ounce of my power as a Gigantes. In fact, as long as I am in my lair, my avatar here has all the lovely little benefits of being in one as well.” Felsalvia blanched at the very idea. He had the power to make a copy of himself that he could walk outside of his lair while still maintaining all the benefits of being in one. She never felt her position as queen threatened more completely in her life. He could easily just use an Avatar to do his day to day tasks while his true self lounges about in his lair having his lecherous fun all day. “Darling” Both versions of the High King spoke at once, “would you mind setting up a visit between myself and the Bertolde estate. I know you have some inexplicable bad blood with the duke’s boy, but I am absolutely fascinated with meeting my little nephew! Oh...one last thing.” His face took on a dangerous look as his eyes began to glow bright white. “Warn the Silbel government there will be dire consequences should they attempt to harm My Nephew, and make it very clear I am speaking of that Lynxian when you do so. Tell them this is coming directly from the High King of Felsalvia, and I will be more than happy to follow through on such promises.” *** Berhanu shook in the presence of Marigold who had come in person to speak the matter of what they had witnessed days earlier. The air within the Golden Maiden’s temple seemed denser as the powerful being walked in regally. She had just arrived from overseas, leaving the Central temple almost immediately and traveling as quickly as possible to the Silbel Temple branch where the Werewolf Paladin now called home. There was not a single person within the golden Temple that did not drop to their knee in her presence. To an uninformed observer Marigold might seem like a Priestess who wore a gold and white habit that covered her body head to toe, and wore a strange white mask that held the smooth, glossy appearance of a nondescript but beautiful woman. However those of the faith of the Golden Maiden knew the truth of what Marigold truly was. It was a deeply held secret that few outside of the faith would ever even think to ask. Berhanu would have not believed the tale had he not seen her take her mask off to reveal nothing underneath it. Marigold was in truth, a magical item in the shape of a Pendant with the Golden Maidens insignia upon it. She had been crafted long ago by a Hero Cleric from the Days of old, and fought alongside her master in many battles during the dark age wars. Eventually, as the story goes, the Cleric used so much power through this magical item that it gained an identity and will all its own. Even long after her former master perished, Marigold has remained a faithful follower of The Golden Maiden religion, and has learned to even maneuver the entire wardrobe she is wearing all on her own. She is, by all reports, an entirely self taught magic item with a high degree of intelligence. She also houses within her far more attunement slots than the normal individual, as she was crafted before the Dark Age Wars when magic was stronger upon the world. It isn’t known how many spell slots Marigold has, but she is capable of performing some truly miraculous feats on behalf of her goddess the Golden Maiden. Some even consider her a Messenger from the Golden Maiden herself. She reached down and lifted the wolfen face of Berhanu to gaze upon him with her facsimile of a face. He shivered a bit as the mask smiled in a frightfully natural way and gazed into his eyes with her own, despite the fact that not a speck of her face was painted. Yet he could feel her gaze upon him all the same. “Hello Brave One. I do admire your strength to find a new path in life like you have. Know that the golden maiden does not judge you for your past, only the actions you take based on your oaths going forward. You will find comrades in our ranks back home, of that I am certain.” He felt guilty for finding her so scary and creepy after she had spoken those kind words to him in that smooth motherly voice of hers. The mouth on the mask didn’t move, her voice emanated from the pendant itself that resided inside of her outfit. However the mask she was wearing could assume any number of expressions to aid in her communication in how she was feeling. “Faithful Paladins and Clerics of The Golden Maiden.” Marigold said as she stood to her full height inside her puppet body. “Thank you for meeting with me on such short notice. My understanding is you have information regarding the awakening that took place within the borders of this nation of Silbel?” ” “Yes High Priestess Marigold.” Berhanu’s blond captain said with a deep bow of her head, not daring to look up from the floor at such a holy being. “Our company bore witness to the battle that would rival the Dark Age Wars of yore. We saw with our own eyes two young lads whom we now know to be Lord Baldric of the Bertolde Estate, as well as his slave and fledgling MageCrafter by the name of Kotik utterly decimate and slaughter the forces of Babica Preja and then Babica herself with feats of magic not seen in these modern times. Though the young lord Baldric was the one who wiped out Babica’s army, it was his slave who slayed her with such viciousness and brutality that I confess I needed to pray to the Maiden for strength to not flee where I stood. My Lieutenant Berhanu claims to have had an interaction with the young lord before.” Marigold turned her facsimile of a face to the large kneeling werewolf in paladin armor, and it took him all of his willpower not to shake even more visibly in her presence. “Before I was touched and changed by Babica, this Lord Baldric was invited into her home and had a conversation with her. At the time I had thought they were allies, but the sheer finality in which he ended her and all her creations tells me he was merely lulling her into a false sense of security. He did seem quite scarily intelligent when I met him that time. The dislike he felt towards me speaking ill of demi human races seemed quite genuine.” Marigold seemed to mull this information over, stroking the chin of her mask in thought. “This is good information. From the sounds of it his ideals may not be in line with the greater nation of Silbel, and that is something we can latch onto. Now what do we have on this slave, this Kotik?” The Captain nodded in her bowed position again. “Not much. We know he had been picked up from that very village they were fighting in not but a few days ago, however; The power he displayed. The Strength. High Priestess He didn’t just Kill Babica Preja in battle, that would be one thing. No High Priestess, he brutally and effortlessly beat the hag giant to death with his bare hands, and did so with such an animal-like savageness that it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. He strangled and suffocated a being many times bigger than him in the mud and blood of her creations. I know of nothing that could possibly have such power.” Marigold straightened up and nodded. “I however know exactly what could have done that. It appears a deity has broken Greater Pantheon Law and had a child in this realm. Though which one I know not as of yet. I hear all wood temporarily became dark and thorny for a few minutes after the awakening?” The captain nodded with a shudder. “The residence of Silbel already dubbed it, ‘The day of Black Thorn’ as it was such a pervasive thing and many people ended up getting injured by the eruption of thorns out of so many places. From what little we have gleaned we did learn he was a True Dominion MageCrafter of Wood.” “Vicar of the entire Wood Pantheon? Interesting.” Marigold said almost to herself as she started to ponder what this could mean. “My understanding is you have already arranged a meeting for me in this Bertolde estate, correct?” “That is correct High Priestess. We shall accompany you as well since one of our number has personal experiences with one of the people in question.” Berhanu gulped. He really did not want to visit the home of a person who had so effortlessly slaughtered so many creatures just like him with those unfathomable storm powers of his. He had bore witness to the strewn remains of werewolves that had been men just like him. He was certain some of his old comrades must have been on that battlefield, but there was not a single body that was intact enough to tell which part went where. The glacial shards seemed to have broken apart and sliced in such a way that it left no chance for Babica to rebuild them. Still, if he ever wanted to fully believe in his change for the better, facing the being that shocked him out of his life of ever spiraling evil might end up being good for him. He prayed to the Golden Maiden that this was the case, even as his tail tucked under his legs in barely repressed fright. *** Lord Tugast did not like the feeling of uneasiness within Silbel as his circus touched into Port. He had not intended on bringing his troop to the nation for some time yet, however he had received a request that he simply could not refuse. He smiled warmly as he watched his ships being unloaded and assembled on the docks and adjusted his hat as he thought about the lad his troop was going to go visit. He was the single greatest decision he had ever made in his life. As sceptical as he was with the rambunctious tyke back when he was so dreadfully young, he had been proven so very wrong not only by the boy's presentation but the dedication to the craft he put into those two years. If the boy had been orphaned, Lord Tugast would have gladly and without hesitation adopted the lad without a second thought. Even now he held a pride for that performer that far outstripped his own false bravado he wore on stage. Never before or since had he met someone who absorbed his lessons with such zeal and earnestness. Lord Tugast remembered with a growing grin under his mustache the absolute state that he had been in when he finally allowed the boy to run the show as the Ringleader and Arch Magician. Never before had he been more stressed about a show going well as he had been biting his nails for the lad to do well and not croak right on stage. Yet the lad not only killed it that night he did it in such a spectacular fashion that he became the talk of the city they had performed in afterwards. Crowds came in even bigger numbers the next night to witness the spectacle of a tiny boy wielding the pride and presence of a godlike man. They had not been able to arrive on the exact day Baldric had wanted, but the lad had said that it’d be fine if he showed up a few days later or even just as soon as they could. He knew the boy well and he had probably figured out a slew of contingency plans should they not arrive on time. The boy admired Tugast for his planning ability, but the elder Lord simply could not understand why. His Lord Baldric far outstripped his capabilities by many factors and he held no shame admitting that fact. If anything he took pride in being able to mentor such a driven boy into a profession he adored so much. Still, he was not liking the atmosphere that he was reading in the air in Silbel. Something had happened recently, and it had caused quite a stir among the inhabitants. With a snap of his white gloved fingers several of his acrobats in plain clothes appeared seemingly out of nowhere, and he gave them the slight hand gesture commands to scout the area and come back with news regarding current events. They nodded and did so soundlessly, melding into the crowd and disappearing from the docks like they had never been there. If there was one thing that Lord Tugast prided himself on, it was information gathering for a prospective audience. He would know why these citizens were so spooked before he even saw the Bertolde estate. *** The tension that was within Duke Bertolde’s office between father and son could be cut through with a knife. The older man tried to steady his breathing as he stared out of the window and clenched his drink in his hands. Lord Baldric stood in the room with his hands behind his back, holding his head up high and maintaining a calm and collected demeanor in front of his father. This only served to piss his father off more as he finally snapped and threw the glass he was holding hard against the wall, shattering it utterly as the shards rained on the floor. “Who are you?!” Yelled the Duke, pointing out his window towards the direction where a destroyed village and a blood-soaked battlefield. “Who are you and what did you do to my son?! Cause you cannot be the boy I know. The boy I know is a carfree noble boy who gives his father a hard time sleeping around with other noble boys his age. The boy I know caused me stress for sure, but it was nothing I shouldn’t expect out of a typical noble’s son. Why I was even proud of your accomplishment with your Lair, thinking it a hobby for that scarily intelligent mind of yours. But this!? This!?” He raised up a handful of letters with seals of various nations as well as a few from Silbel itself. “Do you have any fucking idea the kind of pot you’ve stirred boy?!” The Duke was spitting with how he was yelling so hard and frantically. “I thought you had crossed the line when you had killed that Warlock the way you did, and I was quite concerned about your choice for a Fledgling MageCrafter. Yet never in my wildest dreams did I think my own boy would wage all out war with Babica Preja herself! Wage all out war almost entirely on your own, slaughtering nearly her entire army, On Your Own, and finally sicking your slave on her who beat her to death with is FUCKING BARE HANDS.” Duke Bertolde paced like mad as he ran his hand down his face. “I knew your slave was trouble the second he awakened. I didn’t like the feel of it at all, it felt wrong. It felt so enraged. Yet you were finally excited to have a Fledgling MageCrafter so I reluctantly went along with it. Sargis and the maids gave promising reports at first, but then it started going downhill fast.” He raised a finger in the air as he kept pacing and running his hand over his face in agitation. “One is the fact that he dealt so casually with Darzi. I should have seen that as a warning sign, but everyone we tasked to investigate the matter thought he was giant-blooded. It was strange, it was unprecedented, but still not out of the realm of possibility. Your best friend Raudh is giant blooded after all so it’s not like this estate was entirely unfamiliar with them.” A second finger goes up as his pace gets even more forceful, his shoes slamming against the floor with each step. “Then your slave punches your MageCrafted stone wall so hard it shattered the MageCrafted window next to it. We asked your friend the Count casually by the way, and he said he would only be able to slightly crack one of our walls, and certainly not put enough force to shatter a window next to it. That raised even more concerns but still I let it slide cause we did know that lynxians are stronger than normal humans and we figured that translated to him being Giant-Blooded as well.” A third finger goes up as his face gets even angrier. “Then your slave attacks a member of nobility entirely unprovoked, Despite the count's best efforts to convince me otherwise. There is this growing pattern of rage and instability within your slave that I keep noticing, but like a fool I keep pushing it away cause you seem to be happy with your new slave and other that initial altercation he seems to have taken quite a liking to the Count. I try so very hard to ignore all these warning signs that make my hair get thinner by the day.” He turned on his son and threw up his fourth finger, “Then you go and pull this and justify every fear I ever had about this slave. Not only that, you show that I should have had more concern about what you’ve been getting up to. No normal person has the magical capabilities to utterly destroy Babica Preja and her army boy! Do you have any idea how dangerously close you are to Silbel collaring you?!” The man rushed his son and Hugged him tightly before proceeding to shake him in his grasp. “I love you boy! Yet you are terrifying the ever loving shit out of me with all this! You need to tell me what the hell is happening and who you really are, cause clearly you have been leaving a lot of who you really are out with me! I do not know how to handle the Silbel government right now, much less these other ones that are currently knocking on our door. ‘We already have no less than two Nations coming to talk with YOU and your slave, one of which represents the High King of Felsalvia who claims your slave is his nephew!” He looked deep in his son’s eyes and tried to read anything he knew out of him. “Son, I don’t know how much longer I can protect you from getting collared, and I will be Blisteringly frank with you,” His face hardened slightly, “I would be more than fine with having this slave off of my estate at this point. He’s been far more trouble than he’s been good for our estate’s standing with this country, and honestly I do not have a compelling reason to justify housing such a powerful being on our land when he could be in the capable hands of the Silbel capital.” “That is not your decision to make Father. He is my property.” Lord Baldric said simply, but there was a warning that lay beneath his tone that almost made the Duke back up. He instead stood his ground and got loud at his son. “He’s your property, but this is My estate. My estate that he has repeatedly damaged by the way. We were lucky we had the necessary Maids to fix what happened in the Garden, or else I’d still be looking out at rubble right now from where your slave had tried to fucking kill a noble like he did with Babica Preja.” “Would you rather she be alive?” “This isn’t about her! Of course I’m glad to finally be rid of her presence in Silbel! She was a menace to society! Yet you didn’t just kill the hag giant who has thwarted every military effort to capture her Bog over the centuries, no you completely obliterated her military force and crushed her utterly within a day! You just showed the Silbel government you have the capability of taking on an entire military single handed with just your powers! Add on top of that this claim from the Giant High King of Felsalvia that this slave of yours is his Nephew, and I’ll be lucky if either one of you will be on this estate before the week is out! Do you understand how hard I’ve been fighting to keep a collar off your neck just to have you go and prove that you are not only a threat to the nation un-collared, but that you can and have toppled an actual country nearly single handed! That’s what Babica’s Bog is Baldric! It was an entire country to itself, and you completely obliterated its population! How is Silbel supposed to respond to that?! I don’t even know how to respond to this and I’m your father!” Silence stretched on between the two for an agonizing moment as they stared each other down. Baldric noticed his father had more wrinkles than he used and his father did indeed start to have something of a bald spot growing on the top of his head now, as much as he tried to fight it. The more logical and level headed side of Baldric understood where his father was coming from. He was largely in the dark to Baldric’s plans and to him his brief and decisive war with Babica Preja came entirely out of left field. The side that cared for Kotik however felt nothing but seething rage at his father for threatening to send Kotik away from him to the single place Kotik would hate the most in the world. Kotik wouldn’t take kindly to being sent to the Capital. In fact at this point he’d probably have the strength to just rip the palace down around their ears if his fight was any indication. It looked like he needed to trigger one of his contingency plans, which he knew Kotik was not going to like one bit. Duplicates of his were already setting up the necessary preparations. The contingency had been laid down months ago, but now the final touches were being placed down. He didn’t want to have to do that, but if it came down to choosing Kotik or the Bertolde estate, he’d pick Kotik every time. Just like how his physical body wasn’t actually in the room with his father right now. He had been experimenting with just the right ratios of snow, water, and pliable ice for awhile now along with his illusory powers. From the fact that his father had not reacted when he had hugged his body, the fully solid double of himself seemed to have been a success. The applications for fully solid duplicates of himself or other people he could impersonate were staggering, and would certainly prove useful in pulling off this contingency plan. “Let me think over what you said to me Father.” Baldric finally spoke to him, “You have given me a lot to think about and I want to make sure I address your concerns properly. For now we have guests that we need to greet and attend to. Thankfully the present I had planned on giving my sweet Kotik will end up paying quite the dividends for these unexpected guests. If there is anything that could welcome foreign diplomats, it is a private showing of the Bavaram Circus.” The Duke sighed wearily and sat down behind his desk, running his hand through his hair. “Fine, you’re right we need to handle one thing at a time. However once all these guests are gone you and I are going to have a seriously in depth conversation about everything you’ve been keeping from me, and there will be no more ‘thinking it over’ when that time comes. I expect and demand explanations when that time comes.” “I understand Father.” *** Meanwhile the real body of Lord Baldric and Count Raudh were working to lift the mood of the little Lynxian who had had such a rough birthday to put it quite lightly. Strangely enough, nothing quite lifted the Lynxian’s spirits and distracted him from his current thoughts like engaging in some debauchery. The three of them had been lounging on the bed, and Kotik had been watching with some fascination on his features as Lord Baldric utterly inhaled the girth of Count Raudh in one fail swoop and worked him in and out of his throat effortlessly. Kotik had been wallowing in depression before then, thinking about how he had strangled someone else, even if it was the hag giant, when Lord Baldric completely unprompted began to suck Count Raudh off. The Ruby haired tanned youth let out a noise of complaint at first, but it died almost as soon as it appeared as he settled back and let Lord Baldric work his magic. The Depressed Kotik tried to ignore what was happening to persist in his wallowing, but his curiosity and own libido which was getting more and more intense lately was getting the better of his dark train of thought. “Lord Baldric, how do you do that?” Kotik finally voiced in some awe, turning his head to the side as he watched the girth actively making itself visible in Lord Baldric’s neck whenever he bottomed out into Count Raudh’s ruby colored pubic hair and breathed in his scent. A smirk of satisfaction at pulling his lovely Kotik out of his funk played on Baldric’s occupied lips as he pulled off his girth with a pop. “Some of it is just practice my sweet Kotik, but I also have some enchantments in my throat and mouth that allow me to handle larger shafts than normal. Would you like for me to apply them on you so you could try?” Count Raudh got even harder at the prospect of being able to get the entirety of his length down the fair Kotik’s throat. While it was adorable to see him barely manage his tip in it’s own way, there was something amazing about having his entire cock treated that he could not pass up. His excitement only grew as Kotik nodded and smiled at the idea. Lord Baldric lifted Kotik and settled him in between his legs and conjured up some water. With some coaxing, Kotik opened up and let Baldric send the enchanted water inside of him, making him feel a tingling sensation from his lips down into his throat. “Now I’m going to hold you just like this so you can lean into me for comfort. Try to breathe through your nose.” As Count Raudh stood up on his knees and got into position, he could not help put feel how unbelievably lewd this was to be looking at two lovers like this, the larger one hugging the smaller one from the back, and they were going to share that love by letting him shove his cock right down the fair Kotik’s throat. He almost came at the very thought! Not only had he got to punch and elbow the great and feared Babica Preja in the face, multiple times, he was going to get to enjoy the throat of the most beautiful lad he had ever seen. One who had utterly destroyed Babica with his bare hands. Kotik let out a moan of surprise and light protest as his mouth was invaded. Suddenly, with some effort, Count Raudh could get his girth farther into kotik’s mouth than he could the last few times he had done so. Lord Baldric helped his little lynxian adjust the angle of his head and calmed him down from straining so much as more and more of that cock was squeezed down into his still quite tight throat. He whispered sweet nothings into Kotik’s ears, telling him how beautiful he was right then and how he so enjoyed seeing him do something so lewd. It made Kotik’s cheeks burn bright red and his heart thump wildly. Before he knew it, the moaning and thoroughly filled lynxian had his nose pressed right into the ruby colored pubic hair of Count Raudh, who was letting out wondrous noises of delight with how tight Kotik’s throat was. He adjusted his knees as he set himself up to do something he wouldn’t dare do with Lord Baldric or anyone else. “Oh fairest Kotik, please allow me to do the work this time. You are the only one I can trust to be able to handle this request for me.” Kotik’s eyes glistened with tears at the strain in his throat but he leaned his back and head into Lord Baldric and gave a hand gesture of assent, telling the Count to have at it. Lord Baldric gripped the lads hands and proceeded to bring them behind his back and shackle them with ice, making Kotik even more excited for what was going to happen even as Baldric went back to hugging him. As Kotik experienced his very first face fucking, a rapturous look of delight came across his features that the two noble lads quite enjoyed. Kotik enjoyed the feeling of surrender he had, and the fullness he had in his throat. Part of it was ruined by him drifting into thoughts of Babica beneath him all blue and suffocated, but he quickly quashed that out of his mind and let himself enjoy the moment. It was easier for him to do that since he had gained that new MageCrafter title. His emotional state was much more flexible and malleable than it had been. He hadn’t quite experimented on how to make magic items with this new power yet, but he thought he’d ask Count Raudh how that worked when he had a moment. For now he just wanted to enjoy this new experience, feeling his friend piston in and out of his mouth with abandon as he let out increasingly girly sounding noises that made Kotik giggle into his length. He liked the fact he was leaning against Baldric and being hugged by him while he experienced this. It really gave a new meaning to what an open relationship could be like. Maybe everything was going to be okay after all. That was the thought that crossed his mind even as Count Raudh gripped his head and fired off one of his most powerful loads he had ever felt down into Kotik’s welcoming stomach. *** A fearful family who recently bought a slave boy shook violently as they rode their cart towards the borders of the Dukedom of Bertolde. Several members of their family had already died without so much as a scratch before being unceremoniously tossed out of the cart into some bushes by the pink eared bunny boy among them. The grinning lad had given them all the same order to get him to the Dukedom of Bertolde, but each family member had been given a different time-frame to get him there. Some time frames were more unrealistic than others, and their family members flopping onto the ground and growing still and dead without a touch simply for disobeying his unreasonable order had made them all very compliant to his commands. Little did they know they were all going to be dead and soulless before they even reached the town, and the trail of bodies he left along the way in such a strange and mysterious way would only serve to help stoke up more fear among the Silbel inhabitants. The more fear they had, the more he could do with them. “I’ll be there soon my Silbel Strangler.” He said wistfully into the sky as he stroked the head of a trembling child who had watched so many of his family die in such a scary and sudden way by this Hareling's power. “I heard you calling out to me. I did. I did hear you call me! Such fear you had, but so controlled as well! My love, I am so happy you finally understand we are meant to be together! I’ll be with you shortly! I promise!”
  17. Some behind the scenes stuff about Babica Preja for those interested.
  18. I am something of a fan of folklore and mythology and I've done quite a few dives into such tales in the past. Babica Preja is something of an amalgamation of a few bits of Folklore with some Dungeons and Dragons underpinning mixed in. The first source of inspiration of her was, of course, the oh so famous Baba Yaga. If you have no knowledge of folklore at all you've still probably heard the name said somewhere before, perhaps in the movie John Wick as that is his nickname. In folklore, Baba Yaga resides deep within her forest where few return. She was the regional boogeyman used to get children to behave. However she was not just used as a threat. Baba Yaga was known to be nice to good children and act to them like a kindly grandmother, but to bad children she was a cannibalistic witch who use those brats bones as pickets for her fence outside. Baba Yaga is not "evil" in these folklore, but rather someone with an extreme and violent worldview where the "good" are treated nicely and the "bad" are worth nothing more than meat for her kitchen. It is that stark and extremist morality that molded how I had Babica Preja interact with people. The Warlocks are the "good" people that run into her, usually demi-humans who've been unjustly persecuted or wronged by humans, and she offers them power to fight on her behalf to extract revenge on those same people. The rest of her creations are what happened to the people she considers "bad." Once someone is considered "bad" by Babica they are nothing more than material for her to make more wolves and ogres and such. The second source of inspiration for her was some of the earliest versions of Werewolves in Ancient Folklore. You see, back in the day Werewolves were not seen as cursed people changed under a full moon. No that's a more modern interpretation of werewolves. The earliest known stories of werewolves is of a much different flavor, where the werewolf is actually something like a witch who actively changes themselves under the cover of darkness to cannibalize people. Accusations of being a werewolf were happening at the same time as accusations of being a witch were taking place. The idea of being a wolf charmer, someone who can control wolves and use them to attack people, was seen as a type of witchcraft back in the day, and suspected practitioners were even prosecuted as such. Those wolves didn't just attack that traveler, Old Man Jeb got them to do it with his magic. That kind of idea. Werewolves weren't just seen as a singular wolf back then because of this, but rather someone who turns into a wolf and leads wolves to attack people. This served to inspire how Babica Preja utilized her powers and lead her minions into combat. It's very similar to how the folklore described these accused werewolves to operate. Another aspect that comes from the earliest versions of werewolves was her Cloak. One of the versions on how people turned into werewolves is very similar to how I depict Babica changing. Instead of it being a metamorphosis, the witch like werewolf would have a wolfskin they would keep hidden from their neighbors and when they donned it they transformed into the werewolf. The wolfskin was actually seen as something like a Lich's phylactery, in the sense that if you destroyed the skin when the user wasn't wearing it you'd end up killing the person linked to it. This is only one of many depictions of how people saw werewolves back, then, but it was one I latched onto for Babica. I very much like the idea of her werewolf transformation being something more akin to an Eldritch Iron Man suit, where she uses it to protect herself as well as attack people in ways she normally can't. Third source of inspiration for her was limitations I put on this story. These are not all the limitations, but these are two that I'm willing to share now that the season 1 finale is done. Limitation 1: NO NECROMANCY. it's banned. No zombies, no liches, no ghosts, no spirits, no undead of any kind. Chop out the entire school of magic. Necromancy is a far too easy crutch to lean on for your bad guy in these kinds of stories, and by actively and purposefully cutting that type of magic out of the equation it forces me to think up ways the other schools of magic can be used by nefarious people. Limitation 2: DRAGONS TAKE A BACK SEAT. Dragons get all the fun in these fantasy stories! They always get the spotlight cause they're the quintessential giant scary monster. Well they are going to take a back seat in this story. They are there, but they are not the movers and shakers of the story. Giants play the role that Dragons normally play, but even they are not going to get to hog the spotlight all the time. So with that in mind, it crossed my mind of what would it be like if someone could use living people like a necromancer uses dead bodies? That is what inspired Babica's variety of MageCrafting, where she can only work with bodies while they are still alive. The second they are dead her MageCrafting doesn't work on them anymore. There are other inspirations melded into her, but that would get into spoiler territory for future stuff, so I'll leave it at this for now.
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