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Demented

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  1. I thought since I've made a few chapters for my first story on this site I'd make a discussion thread for it. It seems to have garnered a good reception so far which I am quite pleased about. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about the story's world, the characters themselves, or other elements that might strike your fancy. Whether or not I'll properly answer said questions depends on how spoiler heavy I feel the answer would be. I'm interested to hear what people who've read it so far think.
  2. I will have to disagree on the sentiment of disregarding methodology and other authors opinions on how to go about writing. While I certainly understand the spirit of the statement, it does leave out an important thing to remember; Any and all things you learn can be used to enhance the way you tell your story. You may not use everything you've learned from other people on every story, but having that methodology at your disposal could be the very thing to help bust you through the dreaded writers block when it comes knocking. You do not know everything about writing, lord knows I don't with how I use spell check as life support. It is important to be able to admit that to yourself and see what other people might be able to offer you,. Chances are they might just have that nugget of information or that special way they handle problems that could shoot your writing to the next level.
  3. That is precisely how I do things actually. Sometimes, if I'm having a particularly hard time with some dialogue, I'll even get up from my computer and act out the conversation out loud as the characters, letting myself use mannerisms they might employ or postures they might take, changing up the wording and the tone until I find something that feels right. I'll not be winning any awards for my performances, but its enough to get the creative juices flowing at the very least. I also like to make small vignettes outside of my stories for my personal use that I use to explore the personality of a character I haven't quite fleshed out enough yet. This could be stuff like having an interview with the character or having them respond to a situation that would be out of the ordinary to them to feel out how they would react to it. That way, when I'm actually writing the story I can just let the characters do what comes naturally to them instead of prescribing what they do for them artificially. Learning about how improvisation works helps a lot when you try your hand at this kind of writing.
  4. "Listen," Your soon to be ex boyfriend says in what he thinks is a calming tone, "I didn't mean to crash the space ship alright? That asteroid came out of nowhere. Lets just find some supplies and see what we can do about repairing the hull, please?" Trapped on an uncharted habitable planet with your air head of a lover and pilot, your task is to try to survive long enough in this blasted alien world to get off it in one piece. Figuring out how to do this without throttling the man next to you is an entirely different matter.
  5. Demented

    Chapter 3

    Shahnaz’s mood had made a marked improvement since she had found her young Lord’s present. The Tiefling had been so frazzled and despondent over not being able to find this elusive MageCrafter. Her young Lord had sounded so excited to meet this person, even though the lad had never even laid eyes on whomever this was. The young Lord who had balked and waved off every single eligible candidate to be his present had finally found someone deserving of his attention, and to her dismay she had not been able to perform her duty for him. That despondent feeling wasn’t simply because she was his first Personal Maid either. For Shahnaz, everything in her life before she had become a MageCrafter had been nothing short of misery. While demi-humans all had some level of prejudice levied against them by a decent number of the human population, notwithstanding the other race's own interpersonal grievances, few could boast the level of mistrust and distaste that was brought to bear against her kin. Thanks to the longstanding belief that tieflings were the offspring of demons and mortals, to be a tiefling meant to suffer. Add on top of that fact the further complication of her being in orphan in a kingdom that held the belief that compulsory indentured servitude for parentless children served the community a great deal more than the ineffectual and costly orphanages of other lands; it was easy to understand how she had ended up being chained in the unforgiving dark basement of a Silversmith’s shop before she had even been old enough to properly walk, and where she had remained for several years. If you were to ask Shahnaz what her first master looked like, she would not be able to adequately tell you. Not only had it been so long ago, the only times she had seen the man was in the dark musty basement. She was never allowed to look at his face either. “I’m not going to allow you to steal my soul!” he had angrily roared to her during one of her many whippings. She didn’t recall what work she did down in that accursed basement exactly, everything about that time was muddled in her memories, where the only things that stood out to her were the constant feelings of starvation and deadened misery. The only thing she did know is that she had not actually touched any of his silver merchandise until one day he had demanded she polish some of them out of the blue. That moment when she touched silver with her painfully thin and tiny fingers, her whole life had suddenly taken a drastic turn for the better. She had felt some sort of jolt sparked through her, filling her body with life as she gazed at the material that seemed to shimmer even in that dark place. It had filled her mind that had only known deadening sadness and abuse with a sense that she was supposed to have this material in her hands. She was made for this. Though her body was starved to dangerous levels of frailness, she felt a spark of life that gave strength to her tired little body and made her tail perk up. It was only a half hour later that Sargis had come for her. He looked exactly as he does today; that same dark grey hair tied in his prim and proper ponytail. That same deep voice that could rival the tongue of any dragon. That same fatherly gaze that looked at her, for the first time in her life, with genuine compassion and caring. She had never been hugged before the Butler had found her and wrapped her in his large, muscled arms. The girl had thought he was surely going to beat her for feeling so nice about holding silver, but he just held her in that basement, calmly telling her that she would be coming to live at the Duke’s estate. Receiving her collar had been the best thing that ever happened to her, only to be matched with her first meeting with her young Lord. Oh how the duke and him fussed over her eating food those first few weeks. She had not been used to eating so much, so she had found it difficult to finish her plates. Her rambunctious young Lord who stood a full head and shoulders shorter than her would have none of her skimping on her meals, however. “Father said your tummy was really tiny, so we need to get you eating properly so it grows to a normal size. Okay?” her Lord Baldric had sagely explained with the slightest of lisps in his youthful voice. He practically spoon fed the older girl who was supposed to be his Maid in Training, or a Servant as that rank is called. He always found it funny when he ‘accidentally’ got some on her face, but she could tell his antics weren’t like how others had looked at her up till that point. He didn’t look away from her black and gold eyes and fear that she was going to snatch his soul away, nor did he gawk at her demon like horns. In fact, he loved her bright pink skin, and watching her heart tipped tail swish about in front of his nose never failed to get a giggle out of him. That’s not to say her young Lord hadn’t caused her his fair share of headaches over the years. She got quite good at running through the halls in full servants garb, calling after her butt naked Lord as he darted about with his arms flailing in merriment. Getting that boy dressed and keeping him that way was a challenge the staff was all too familiar with in his early childhood. They had strategy meetings on the subject even. The moment Maids, Servants like herself or slaves on the estate had taken their eyes off of him, those sly hands of his would get to work shucking off his noble attire far faster than they had taken to put it on him. Yet she’d gladly take having to keep a scamp from disrobing at any chance he got or the mischievous teasing over the old life she had in a heartbeat. In this place she wasn’t a tiefling, she was a Servant, a Maid in Training as she learned all the tasks expected of her when she attained the vaunted title of Maid and was shown how to craft her own uniform. Bertolde’s Estate over those years became her life, filling her with energy and playfulness that she had absorbed from being around her young Lord. Of everyone in the Estate, including the boy’s father, Shahnaz had become the chief expert when it came to Lord Baldric. If she said he was going to like something, large amounts of coin could be wagered on her being correct. That had only made the month she had been searching for this wayward MageCrafter all the more disheartening. She knew her Lord was beyond excited to receive this person as his present, and time was growing ever shorter to the date of his Birthday. Despair had filled her heart as she had walked into the Tavern that fateful day in civilian garb. The maids had all gone undercover, concealing their true nature as Maids with MageCrafted items fashioned after merchant and peasant clothing. Shahnaz flopped into a booth inside of the tavern, cradling her head in her hands as she tried to figure out any last ditch effort she could do to find this blasted person. How did they mask themselves so well? Were they already captured by Babica Preja’s forces? That had been the growing consensus among her fellow maids through their paired communication items they had worn as earrings. And then it happened. “Hi there!” a friendly and cheerfully polite voice greeted her, “ My name is Kotik and I will be serving you today. Welcome to The Old Man’s Tavern by the way. Always nice to see a new face here!” She wanted to pinch this boy’s dimpled cheeks so badly. He was beyond adorable! The pair of cat ears on top of his head seemed to flip about with a mind of their own, monitoring everything going on around him and listening for anything that might need his attention. His thick and quite long tail swayed behind himself in an almost hypnotizing manner. That didn’t even touch on that smile on his face that reflected in those impossibly blue eyes of his. It was everything she could do not to snatch him into the booth with her and tousle those ears of his. Her Lord would fawn over this lad in a second if he was here! The Maid staff had figured out long ago that their young Lord was far more attracted to males than he was to the opposite sex. He especially enjoyed the bashful and friendly ones who could blush at the drop of a hat from his teasing. The redder they got, the more he enjoyed being around them. More than a few slave boys in the estate knew this proclivity of his all too well, and the things he would do to get them to squirm and flush was the stuff of legends. He was never mean spirited about it, cruelty was not what the young Baldric was after. Thorough and total embarrassment flavored with some light humiliation and being teased to the point of having their poor brains proverbially frazzled though, well that was a different story! He was a master in the art of finding what got a boy to blush, and it didn’t matter if they were a slave or a visiting noble from another territory, he was going to figure out how to get under their skin and tease them into confusion. Lads who had walked into Bertolde’s estate swearing up and down they only had eyes for fair maidens left with far too many mortifying questions about themselves rattling around their expertly toyed with minds. She had seen one noble boy after another who were friends of his get into fist fights or glaring matches with each other over who would get to spend more time with her Lord. One wanted him to come play on their private beach, trying to pass off the invitation as casually as he possibly could under the circumstances. He’d pretend it was fine whether or not Baldric decided to come or not, and that it wouldn’t bother him if he didn’t, but the fruitive looks he’d shoot her Lord and the way he kept bringing it up only revealed his hand all the more. Another wanted to bring him to see the mountainous vistas in their estate back home in Irehelm to the south, though the poor thing was so nervous about asking he kept coming to the maids like herself for advice. Where should he ask him? Did he have a favorite time of day? Perhaps this should be over his favorite food? The poor dear had run himself ragged trying to figure out how to say it, only for Her Lord to wait just at the right moment of him sputtering and stuttering at the finish line of asking the lad had spent all that time and energy on getting to, just to put a finger to the other lad's lips and state that he WILL be going to that boys estate. The massive flush in his friend's shy face that her Lord had been building up that whole day made the whole thing worth it. Then there was probably their most frequent visitor, a fiery tempered lad who by all outward appearances wanted to Spar with her young Lord and yell himself hoarse at him at least once during their visit. Those Temper flair ups never lasted long though, as Baldric would make him sputter and blush long before he got violent with his masterful handling of him. It didn’t help when that same lad would come with surprisingly thoughtful gifts, only to be thoroughly beside himself with how Baldric used that to work his poor frustrated brain into overheating. She loved Lord Baldric to death, but the devilish scamp was a tease through and through. Maybe, Shahnaz had thought, even though they hadn’t found this MageCrafter she could show him this Lynxian instead. She knew her Lord well enough to know he would do anything to get such a specimen into his arms. He’d come down personally with an escort of Maids and proposition this cat-eared boy right in the middle of the street if it meant scooping him up and bringing him back to his home. She thought, with a bit of bemusement, that if this sneak of a MageCrafter was anyone, she sure hoped it was this one. It was beyond unlikely of course, but as she spoke with the server and let him happily take her order, she decided on a whim to do a little scan of the room. She used her scrying item to see if the MageCrafter was among the patrons, or even better, if they were this Kotik. Baldric had enchanted several drops of water with a small spell to see magical auras and dripped them into each of the Maid's eyes with something he called an eye dropper. It had limited uses per day of course, but it was more than enough to find what they were looking for. She almost jumped out of her seat with glee in the middle of giving the boy her order when the telltale glimmer of his aura glimmered around the server. She needed to keep him there longer. “Actually, scratch that order. Why don’t you tell me what’s special on the menu today cutie?” To her delight he had flushed slightly at being called cute but was far too polite to chastise her for it, “You look like a bright young man, I’m sure you know of something back there that’d really make my mouth water.” He smiled brightly at her as his impossibly blue eyes sparkled and his rosy dimpled cheeks glowed with a sense of pride. “Actually I do! I went out hunting the other day and brought back this Chimera, and the regulars have been asking for second plates all the time. That meat goes great with our potatoes we grow in the field out back, especially if you season them right. I just picked a whole bunch this morning and I didn’t see a bad one in the whole bundle!” He didn’t even sound like he was bragging when he said he had toppled a Chimera, it was just something he did to help out this restaurant! This boy was getting even more interesting! She held him there a few minutes longer, asking all manner of things about himself and what kind of foods he’d recommend as a side dish from the establishment while she stealthily sent her Lord and the Maidstaff the visage of the boy. Shahnaz had never heard such an excited noise out of Baldric in her life. “Oh my gods and goddesses above, I’m donating to all of your temples immediately!” squealed her Lord in the middle of her mind from their paired connection, He moved on to address everyone in the loop of this paired link, “ Sargis, get the Maidstaff ready. Shahnaz, you beautiful beautiful woman, please get any information you can and figure out when would be a good time for Sargis to come. With all the Warlock activity in the area trying to find this boy we do not want to risk him getting caught before we mobilize.” She kept her conversation with Kotik going even as she held an entirely different one in her mind with Baldric. “How are we going to go about doing that My Lord,” she thought out at him, “They are going to be looking for any and all signs of Maid activity.” She could feel the determination in her Lord through their paired connection, practically heating up the earring the link was coming from. “Oh don’t worry about that. Just get me the time and place and I’ll have everything set up. I’ve been stockpiling Attunements within my Lair for almost two years now, and it’s high time I spent some of them.” A shiver of excitement wafted through her at those words. If he was willing to dip into his savings of attunements that he had been painstakingly dropping into that steam filled chamber of his, she could only imagine what he was going to do. Every individual with magic, be they magic user or MageCrafter, seemed to have on average around three attunements a day to work with. Once their personal attunement limit was met, they would not gather any more until they expended that attunment on a magic item that required it. This meant that all magic users had to seriously think about what magic items they would employ their attunments on. Magic Items that did not require attunment were highly prized because of this, even though they were not as powerful as their attuned peers. Lairs were different however. The one who owns a lair not only had their attunments replenished nearly as fast as they spent it within the confines of that room, but they could also store one to three attunement a day inside of it, stockpiling them for far more powerful MageCrafted items that would normally need scores of magic users to utilize. Once that stockpile of attunements were spent, it was gone forever and would need to be built up again. “What kind of magic item do you plan on crafting for this My Lord.” She asked, her curiosity beyond peaked. She could practically feel his impish grin as he replied, “Oh nothing much. Just an item that will make one Mother of a Thunderstorm that will dampen any and all scrying efforts for a set period of time within a few leagues of that Tavern. One hundred fold attunement should be enough for that.” “On-One hundred Fold Attunement My Lord?” Sargis asked with an uncharacteristic hitch to his voice, Not a lot of things would frazzle that orc but this had been one of the exceptions. “I understand the need for caution Lord Baldric, but expending an entire month and several days besides worth of attunements to cast one spell…” “Think of it as all the days I’ve had to wait on finding this charming and mysterious beauty, plus interest. I was already interested before I even saw this Kotik. Now that I do see him, with the assistance of the lovely Shahnaz,” The tiefling beamed at that, “ I would spend three times as much from my Lair’s reserves to make sure he was mine without batting an eyelash. Now, let's get to work!” If anyone else had said that, she’d have assumed they were blowing hot air in regards to spending that much magical savings on this. She knew her Lord better than that. He was about to throw a whole lot of power he had been building up for all that time into a monster of a MageCrafted item, to cast a spell the likes of which one only heard about in legends about archwizards or archpriests. If he was going to put that much effort and spend that many resources to make sure this delightful Kotik ended up being at his side, then the Maidstaff needed to be on the top of their game to make that happen. *** Kotik had heard stories of the opulence of Noble and Royal Estates, but seeing it in person was breathtaking. He felt guilty even setting his bare feet on the softest royal blue material he had ever felt, as much as he felt like he shouldn’t be in the presence of the radiant and ornate chandeliers that hung high over their heads from the vaulted ceiling. Lifelike paintings depicting stories he only knew from traveling bards adorned the walls, celebrating heroes of legend and the gods themselves triumphing over demonic forces. What got to the peasant boy most was just how big this entry way was. He was positive they could fit half of the buildings from the mining town inside of this expansive area, and there’d be plenty of room to spare even after that. Next to what he was looking at, The Old Man’s Tavern felt positively cramped, and that had been the largest building he had known up to this point in his life. Ever present among all of this was the Crest of Duke Bertolde which hung proudly from banners spaced at even intervals. His gawking was cut short by a tug on his collar from the Tiefling maid. She grinned down at him as she led him down the hall at a steady clip. “Amazing isn’t it? Hard to believe the whole thing was MageCrafted.” “Wait really? People like us made all this?” “A whole lot of them yeah. We aren’t the only Maids and Butlers in this Kingdom cutie, we’re just one dukedom in a much bigger nation. You should see how many of us are at the Royal Palace. You could field an entire battalion from there alone, and that’s not even counting normal magic users.” This felt so different than what he was used to. Kotik knew the forests, where he tracked and hunted dangerous game. He would bring their meat to nearby towns, trying to scrounge enough coin off of anyone who’d consider doing business with a Lynxian boy like himself. More often than not he was ripped off by a large margin, but he always managed to get enough supplies and food to go out and hunt again. He made more coin when he ran with human adventurers and sold the goods as a group instead of on his own. Even then however, he still got the short end of the deal far more often than not. It frustrated him, but at the same time he felt being friendly and trying to put his best foot forward with people would benefit himself a lot more in the long run than letting anger overwhelm him. That’s not to say he didn’t snap at people however. When he finally did get angry, finally did let that dam burst, it was beyond terrifying to any it was directed at. Part of that fear came from the fact that the boy was far stronger than his short and slender body would suggest. Lynxians normally boasted roughly three times the strength of a human of a similar size and build. A brief glimpse at Kotiks exploits spoke to the fact that he was well above that. Thanks to how light his body is, coupled with how much force he could exert, it was not at all strange to see Kotik practically flying from tree to tree with each leap. His grip and flexibility was something else as well. Adventurers, hunters, and villagers alike spoke of a strange cat eared boy who could climb up and down a tree with speeds rivalling a horse at full sprint, and he could do so regardless of what direction he was facing. The lad did not have the slightest bit of fear when it came to things like heights, not when the forests were involved. One would think that would lead to Kotik having an ego, but to the bafflement of all around him he seemed completely oblivious to how strange his strength was. Couple that with the great care he took to give a good impression and be friendly with everyone, sprinkle in the fact that he was surprisingly sheltered for being so independant, and most concluded the lad was someone to be easily exploited. None dared push their luck too much with the Demi human, but they ripped him off enough that he never got out of the sheer poverty he was used to. The Old Man put a stop to that however. Kotik had done business with the tavern quite a few times on his rounds from one town to another. The Old Man showed him how to do small things at first, like how to drain the animals he brought to sell and make them easily usable in their kitchens. He learned rather quickly that Kotik had a fantastic memory for things, recalling instructions he had been given days after the fact. Kotik never got The Old Man’s name. He would always brush off such a question and say for him to call him The Old Man like everyone else. Kotik didn’t question that much further as their interactions got on. He was offered room and board in the Tavern for full time work, but Kotik had turned that down for a different idea. He would have a room in the tavern to store his things and maybe sleep in on occassion, and he would alternate between hunting and working as a waiter in the Tavern. Some days he would hunt, other days he would wait tables and take orders. He was a natural at being a server. The charm he could use on customers warmed even the most anti demi-human hearts. Though he had been seen as exploitable and gullable in other areas in his life, in the Tavern his sharp mind and attention to detail coupled with his adorable appearance made for a lethal combination. The Old Man ended up having to invest in more tables and booths to handle the influx of customers, and yet the Lyxian never seemed overwhelmed by it all. His ears were always monitoring for problems and he seemed to have a knack for reading a customer's mood and figuring out how to make them happier than when they walked in. He had taken a lot of pride in that job and became a staple of its business model. He also just really enjoyed being able to help people, even if it was listening to a poor drunk man who had been dumped by his fiance, or surprising burly orc and dwarven miners and lumberjacks with his undefeated arm wrestling streak. Now he found himself in this opulent place and felt completely out of his depth. He was led along one corridor after another, passing slaves, employees, servants, Maids, and various magic users as they went. This place probably had within its walls more people than the entirety of the small town he had been teleported from. It was mind boggling just how completely alien this all was for him. That awe he was feeling sparked into near panic when they stepped into a humid room and spotted a large, steaming pool of water filled with soap suds. Both his ears and tail poofed out in alarm at the sight, and he let out a noise that one could only describe as a hiss. Those pupils of his were slitted looking at the water, and he was trying desperately to back up despite the leash that was now taut between his collar and the Tieflings grasp. She looked at him with a perplexed expression. “What’s wrong cutie, I did say you were going to bathe remember?” “I thought you meant with a bucket and a cloth!” He squeaked out, panic and alarm evident in his voice as he looked at the soapy water. The tieflings confusion spasmed into a barely controlled smirk as her eyebrows creased. “Kotik...are...are you scared of...” He did NOT like her amused tone right now. This was serious! “NO! I’m not!” The tiefling had never seen a worse liar in her life. “Oh my gods!” As much as she tried to hold it in, sporadic barely controlled giggles filled her voice as she tried desperately not to laugh at the poor thing. “Kotik sweetie, the water is not going to hurt you.” Another hiss erupted from the boy at even suggesting that water was anything less than evil incarnate. A bucket was one thing, he could tolerate that, but that much water was simply too much! What monster made this room! They must pay! Shahnaz had to put her fist partially in her mouth and turn away as her body was hit with almost painful levels of mirth. By the gods this boy was too cute for words! She cleared her throat and put her thumb on her collar. “Ladies,” the tiefling mentally sent out to the MaidStaff, showing an image of the thoroughly agitated boy before her, “ you’re not going to believe this…Our present to our Water MageCrafting Lord… is afraid of water.” “NO!” Peals of laughter flooded her mind from several of the maids who shared the paired connection. “We’ll be right over! You might want to activate your strength enhancements in your maid outfit, because I have a feeling we’re going to need it. Lynxians are tough little guys!” “I don’t think in my wildest dreams I could have imagined a being our Lord would want to mess with more.” Shahnaz added to the link before turning back to the boy. “Sorry Cutie, but you are getting in that bath one way or another.” So it’s war then. Fine. Kotik was generally someone who wished to be nice to every being, but there were lines that must not be crossed! Those cursed depths of water will not claim him this day! He refused! *** “Unhand me woman! I don’t care if you are Maids, I’ll fight all of you!” Such were the panicked shrieks of a Lynxian boy as he was manhandled by several maids within the tub. The women were quite surprised when they had to devote quite a bit of magic into their uniforms to match their strength with the thrashing creature between them. However their superior training and coordination eventually won the day, at the cost of several soaked uniforms. They had eventually opted to seizing one of the boys thrashing limbs each, gripping them by the ankles and wrists and wiping scrubbing him down, the whole while speaking in controlled and calming voices to get him to relax. There was a method to their speaking to him as well, sending small waves of magic from a discreet pendant on their clothing that lowered the fight or flight instincts of a creature. Humorously, they normally used such things when handling wild animals they were tasked to train, or when trained beasts became frightened and needed to be corralled. Shahnaz shook her head even as she scrubbed the sole of the boy’s flexing foot in her grasp, working the lightly enchanted cloth through his toes and over his skin as she looked down at the thoroughly mollified youth. All calluses, injuries, and minor blemishes from years of traveling everywhere without footwear faded with each pass of the cloth till they were smoother than an infant's rump. The same was happening to other parts of his body with their deep cleaning, bringing out the charms of the boy's body even more as they did so. His ears were still flat as two maids shampooed his hair and tail, and his eyes stared into the distance in a seething but much less panicked expression. His lips were a thinly pressed line of aggrivation, and his cheeks were red with all the exertion he had put into trying to fight them off. Normally they’d have used his collar to help with some of his anxiety, but it had yet to be paired with the Young Lord and hadn’t been fully activated just yet. There were some functions he could utilize, but with how dead set he was at fighting they did not see it as an option at that point. “Feeling better now?” Shahnaz asked as she worked up his leg, cleaning him far more completely than the boy had probably been his whole life. The flat, unnamused look she got from the boy almost made her laugh all over again. Though he was no longer fighting, his face spoke volumes as to how grumpy he was about all of this. Unfortunately for him, that flushed angry expression, now that it had been gradually dialed down from its initial apex, was more adorable than it was intimidating. *** Kotik calmed down a lot more after they had put some distance between himself and that room of unspeakable evil. He had to admit that even though every instinct in his being screeched in alarm at the mere thought of getting in that deep of water, the bath had cleaned him more completely than he had ever been in his life. His skin actually felt more sensitive now, especially on the soles of his feet now that they were buttery smooth. It allowed him to feel the fabrics of the rugs and the pleasant firmness of the marble floors. His almond colored hair had gained a glossy shimmer he didn’t even imagine was possible. This extended to his Lynxian ears and tail as well, all of which were brushed and groomed to perfection, achieving a level of softness that one could feel just by glancing at it. He would probably be able to admire their handiwork more if a growing sense of guilt and embarrassment over his behavior didn’t gnaw at him so much. Even with his conscience giving him a mental berating, it took a lot of effort for him to open his mouth, not looking at the Tiefling as they walked. “I would like to apologize.” His tone said otherwise. “Oh? What would you want to apologize for cutie?” Merriment danced in her eyes at how he did not like her playing dumb about this at all. It was clear he didn’t want to talk about what happened, but at the same time he was far too nice a kid to not feel bad about fighting people doing their job. “I don’t know why I get like that. It just sorta happens… that room was still conceived by the evilest of demons.” That last part was said in a grumbling tone. Shahnaz managed to control her face for the most part this time, though inwardly visions of what her Lord would do given this knowledge threatened to break that tentative hold. “What is this costume anyway? It doesn’t look like any uniform I’ve seen here.” Even as he asked that they walked into a simple room with one wall that was a mirror and a lot of open room to work in. She looked down at the Lynxian and admired the handiwork that had been put into the dancing attire he was wearing. “It is clothing worn by dancers from the nation of Bavaram from across the sea. We do trade with them a lot and the young Lord is quite a big fan of this style of dance.” Now that Kotik had a look at himself in a full body mirror, he wasn’t sure how he felt about these clothes. On his legs were what he wanted to refer to as trousers, but the way they were made was so flowy and loose that it looked more like a long crimson skirt that went down to his ankles. On each leg of this strangely airy fabric there was a split that went up nearly the entire length of his leg to his upper thighs, revealing flashes of his silky smooth skin beneath the thin folds of deep red fabric. Towards his waist, a band of black and silver was fitted in an asymmetrical way, the expensive looking cloth dipping down and revealing more of his waist on one side than the other end did. His youthful torso was almost entirely bare, save for a similar draping of black and silver that was fitted in that same asymmetrical way around his shoulders, neck and chest. While the right side of his chest was covered completely, by the time the garment had tilted upwards in a near towards his left side, it nearly exposed his nipple if not for the pendant with Duke Bertolde’s crest fastening it the garment snugly in place. His collar, which sported those expensive gems the same hue as his eyes, was now joined with loose fitting bands around his wrists and ankles with small blue gems of the same variety, bringing the whole look together. “I don’t know of any dancing with weird clothing like this.” He said, yet he couldn’t help twisting and turning in the mirror absent mindedly, looking over his new appearance. “And besides, I’m still not getting how I’m supposed to learn how to dance in what can only be a couple hours.” “That’s what I’m here to teach you cutie.” Kotik watched in some amazement as Shahnaz performed a gesture in front of her maid uniform, and all at once it began to move and shape until it resembled what he was wearing. He didn’t think their clothes could do that! What else did those things have that he didn’t know about? “Now, I’m going to show you a trick with your Collar that you are going to find very useful here.” “My collar? What does my collar have to do with dancing?” “It has to do with a lot of things actually. Now, why do you think you won’t be able to learn a dance. Really think about it and explain to me what you think would be the problem in learning the dance in such a short time?” Kotik was confused, but he did as she instructed him. Something about her voice had taken on a similar kind of tone as The Old Man whenever he had taught him something new. He thought about what she had asked, trying to articulate what the problem was. “I think I wouldn’t be able to learn it because you need a lot of practice to copy movements of someone else. You can’t just learn to fight in a day, you have to repeat movements over and over again in the right way so your body remembers how to do it when you really need it. Dancing can’t be much different right?” She ruffled his shimmering hair, enjoying the enhanced softness it now had. “You are a really smart kid, you know that? You’re right, normally it takes a very long time to learn how to do movements like that. However.” she pointed to his collar, “That right there is the most powerful educational tool you could ever dream of having.” “I thought it was supposed to make me do stuff against my will?” “Nonono, you’re thinking of Mind Control, which by the way is a complete waste of attunement slots. Even at three fold attunement you get maybe a minute of control and the person acts like a drone. Do I seem like a drone to you?” Kotik shook his head, but he still looked very perplexed. “But wait, if it doesn’t make me do stuff against my will, what DOES it do? Also, still not seeing what this has to do with dancing.” “One thing you will learn about magic items here is that small effects that you can cast repeatedly over time are far more effective than trying to make a change happen all at once with an attunement slot.” She pointed to her collar. “This is a magic item that does not need attunement. It has a lot of small effects that uses the body and minds natural abilities to adapt and learn and helps aalong the process more efficiently than you could naturally.” “What do you mean?” “I’ll show you. I want you to close your eyes and think to yourself really hard that you want to follow along with my movements and learn this dance. Give yourself that mental command that you want to learn this dance by following my movements.” He was nervous, but he did as she said. With his eyes closed he focused in on what she said. She started repeating herself over and over again in a soothing tone of voice, and he found his mental order to himself started matching the pacing and tone of how she was saying it. He had fully expected nothing to happen, but soon enough a strange warmth began to flow over his body and into his mind, the kind of warmth someone tends to feel after exerting their muscles by lifting something heavy. “Do you feel that? Now open your eyes and follow along as best as you can, watch me in the mirror and stay concentrated on those words I said.” At first, it seemed like this was having no effect. While her body was moving in strange and mesmerizing ways, shimmying her hips and controlling individual muscle groups with practiced ease, the way he moved was nothing more than a pale imitation of what she could pull off. Yet as the time drew on, he became more entrenched in that repetitive hum of thoughts he had started. Soon his body was picking up where he had been making mistakes before. He learned how to isolate his shoulders so that they remained level while his torso swayed and his hips shimmyed to an unheard rhythm. Soon he found he didn’t need to hold the concentration at all and he was following her movements like he had been attending classes for months, years even. “Wow!” he let out in excitement as he began to improvise with the knowledge he had gained from watching her so intently. His body seemed to have developed muscle memory for these strangely exotic pelvic movements and flowing arm gestures, and he was quite excited with how easily it had been picked up. “Impressive! I don’t think I’ve seen someone learn belly dancing in an hour, even with the collar. It’s probably because you were already so athletic.” “How did I do this? What happened exactly?” Even as he asked this, he couldn’t help but test out the new movements, enjoying the feel of them a lot. Shahnaz had a feeling he would take a liking to this, and seeing the excitement playing on his face only confirmed that. “The collar used your personal command as a template, and it broke down and healed your muscles a little bit at a time, over and over again in an effort to build up your muscle memory. That’s what that slightly burning sensation was. It's a very small effect, barely uses any magic, but the two alternating effects are cast over and over again into you as you concentrate on learning the task. Basically, it’s designed to teach you at a much faster pace than is normally possible without trying to make it happen all at once with one spell.” “That’s amazing. I didn’t really understand everything you said, but still, It feels amazing. I feel like I could learn anything like this.” “You will. Trust me, by the time your finished your training and become a full fledged Butler, you’ll be a forced to be reckoned with. For now though, we’ll settle for adorable belly dancer.” He flushed at that. He had no idea what belly dancing was until now, and he didn’t really understand why he enjoyed seeing himself move around like this, but he felt like it awoke something in him he didn’t even know was there. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all?
  6. Demented

    Chapter 2

    Deep beneath the foundations of Duke Bertolde’s estate, there is a massive room filled with billowing plumes of steam. Every time the Duke peered into this room, it seemed like almost another plane of existence, separated from the outside world. Standing guard outside of the room were two of his son’s personal Maids. One was a cheerfully Pink hued Tiefling with black horns and a tail with what could only be described as a heart shaped tip at the end. The other was a young human woman with deeply tanned skin and black hair that she wore in a bob cut. They both curtsied to the Duke as he walked up to them in his firmly tied bathrobe.The thick, fluffy fabric that draped his tall and compactly muscled form was imbued with a rather powerful heat resistance spell. A spell that was restricted to protection against steam and powered by a threefold attunement. Restrictions, such as specifying what type of heat the spell protects against, helps lower the cost and ups the efficiency of the magic item itself. The more specific the task a magic item is to perform, the more effectively it can utilize the magic it is imbued with by its user. That efficiency allows for a longer duration of the spell's effect, more charges to cast spells, and potentially even removing the need to attune to the item in the first place. It spoke volumes then, that Bertolde had to unattune from every magical item he normally utilized and devote his entire pool of magic into the garment he was wearing. If he was going to speak with his son for any length of time in that Lair of his, he needed all the energy he could give this protective garb. “Every time I come down here the boy seems to make that place somehow even more scalding than before.” The Duke said with a sigh of exasperation before flashing a smile at the two Maids before him, “Shahnaz, Rhoda, how are you two doing this afternoon? I hope Baldric has been behaving himself.” Both Maids curtsied again at the greeting with practiced ease. Though their uniforms seemed identical to the casual observer, those with a keener eye would be able to tell their clothing was each made out of a different material than the other. MageCrafters like them benefited greatly from draping themselves in the materials they have dominion over, and they usually can mold and craft them in such a way that it mimics the appearance of the estates Maid Uniforms. “Lord Baldric has been quite busy this morning Master Bertolde.” the tiefling Shahnaz spoke with a toothy smile, showing off her rather sharp looking teeth that somehow seemed cute on her. Her black and gold eyes suddenly looked sheepish as she continued, “So busy that our Lord hasn’t quite chosen which fledgling Magecrafter he will choose to train yet.” The man nodded and stroked his finely trimmed beard of bluish white hair, “That issue will be resolved today if I have anything to say about it. His fifteenth birthday is in a month and he needs to have one picked before then. If you would please open the door to his Lair.” Steam hissed as the door to Baldric’s lair was opened. Inside that opening was billowing clouds of white so thick that it was impossible to glean more than a few feet in front of himself. Even with all the protections he placed on himself the room still felt exceptionally hot as he stepped inside, walking across the smooth white tiles of the room towards his son. The lad was hovering in the air with his legs crossed in a lotus position. His son was rather tall for his age, almost six feet in height and he had a toned body that didn’t seem out of proportion or lanky. He sported his father's same bluish white hair that he wore quite long, draping down the sides of his face and even covering one of his eyes on occasion. He looked deep in concentration as illusions rapidly materialized and flashed around him, displaying glyphs and calculations that had long since gone past most people's understandings. Bertolde’s son was one of the few MageCrafters to be born into a Noble household. Though almost all Nobles and Royals were magic users to one degree or another, MageCrafting was not something one could inherit through breeding. It appeared to come upon a person totally at random, regardless of cast or station in life. Even more astonishing, his son was an exceptionally rare MageCrafter who could mold and shape water in all its forms directly, as long as it was touching his skin. Such broad control over a type of material was called True Dominion. “My boy,” the man called out to his son, wiping his brow as he did so,” would you perhaps bring the temperature down for me a little bit.” Baldric swiveled around in the air and turned to his father without breaking his cross legged pose. “Oh, I didn’t hear you come in father. Sure, one moment.” The teen raised an arm and snapped his finger, and suddenly billowing white steam began to swirl and create an empty pocket around his father. Almost as suddenly, liquid fed from the cloudlike formations and quickly took the shape of an ornate chair made of ice and snow. “Please sit father. The Chair’s enchanted so that it is not cold to the touch and the coushions should be quite soft.” It took a moment for the Duke to take in what he had just witnessed. “Son, you crafted a magic item this quickly?” He asked as he gingerly sat down on the seat, fully expecting his rump to freeze. Yet he felt relieved and was just as comfortable as his son had stated. An impish grin played on his son’s face as he draped himself to the side in the air, lounging on a plume of steam as he looked down at his dad. It looked as if he was resting on a cloud like one of the angels themselves. He looked quite pleased at how befuddled his father was at his abilities. “Only while I’m in this place. I put a lot of time into making this Lair so I could practice without having to wait for my attunements to replenish all the time. It’s fantastic for practicing.” Lairs were specially designed rooms that replenished the magic of its owner nearly as fast as they expended it. Archwizards spent decades building towers specially designed for them for just this purpose, and once they made it the Archwizard more often and not never left the walls of that tower again. Clerics and Paladins had rooms within their temples meticulously designed around their particular brands of magic. Trying to fight a magic user while they were in their lair would be tantamount to suicide in most cases. “So what brings you down here today father?” Baldric leaned forward and placed his hands on his bare knees, not showing the slightest hint of discomfort hovering nude in front of his father. The boy never had a sense of shame or modesty growing up. The Maids had to chase their young Lord down a few times a week as he streaked through the halls of the estate, giggling the whole way as he fled in his birthday suit. The memories of those early years still had the power to make the Duke break into a silly grin of his own at his son’s antics. “You still haven’t picked a fledgling magecrafter young man. Your birthday is right around the corner.” The young Lord groaned and flopped backwards, plopping against a particularly thick bunching of steam as he drifted through the air. “They’re all boring. Look at these people father,” He lazily waved his hand from his flopped position in mid air, materializing one illusionary picture after another of the candidates that the Duke had for his son’s birthday present. “None of them give me anything to work with. Their mage crafting abilities are so hyper focused, and I didn’t read enough drive or wit in any of them. Why would I want any of these as my birthday present.” “Son, you have to pick someone.” Another groan escaped the teen as he was now upside down with his arms crossed as well as his legs, aggravated at being put in this predicament. He didn’t want to waste his time training someone that he couldn’t find intriguing. Still he had to give his father something. “Alright how about this.” Baldric said as he began to slowly rotate in the air, “The next MageCrafter to awaken in the area will be my birthday present. No matter who it is, what race they are, or what their dominion happens to be.” The Duke let out an exasperated noise at this. “Son, we don’t know when the nex-” Both nobles bolted upright at a burst of magical energy they could feel east of their location. Their eyes gazed upwards and over towards the far wall, almost like they could see all the way to where it happened. Baldric grinned. “Oh wow, that one sent shivers down my spine. Whole lot of rage in that awakening." The teen floated to his father’s side and waved his hand, summoning a map of the area that showed where the emanation of magic came from. Above the map, illusory visages of Baldric’s personal Maids were brought up. “Shahnaz, take Rhoda over to where this location is, I’m sending it directly to your collar to memorize. Find me whoever made that splendid burst of magic. I want them!” Moments later, Bertolde and Balric had a visual on two skewered and mangled men barely clinging onto life, and a cart that looked as if it had rotten to pieces over the span of decades if not longer. “Lord Baldric, we’re not seeing any trace of this MageCrafter. None of our scrying tools are picking up an aura in the area.” “How is that possible?” The Duke asked with a concerned look on his face. His son however looked far more excited and intrigued. “No… Take a look at this. If you trace the map back in time a bit, you see that the energy signature becomes smaller as it moves towards the forest right around here, and by the time it’s made its way through a few trees it vanished. Do you know what this means?” “I’m afraid not Lord Baldric, I’ve never heard of anything like this.” Shahnaz admitted with befuddlement evident on the projection of her face. The blue haired lad was beaming with excitement now as he darted through the air in his lair, floating back and forth as he set to work thinking. “Whoever this person was, they not only figured out how to use their crafting abilities almost instantaneously after activating it, but they also had enough control to mask their aura mere moments after it erupted out of them.” a thrill induced shudder went through Baldric as he grinned at his father, “Father, we need to find this person immediately.” The Duke agreed, but for an entirely different reason. From what he could see on the illusory projection, this Magecrafter was highly dangerous and possibly as gifted as his own son. He would need to put his entire Maid staff into finding this being. if Babica Preja’s Warlocks found them first, Bertolde dreaded to think what kind of power boost that could give to the Hag Giant’s forces. *** Kotik had thought the most eventful part of his night was over. After being in hiding for a month, and being found by the Orc Butler Sargis, Kotik had lived through his worst fear of having his freedom taken away. Now that he had that collar on his throat, the rest of his life was going to be dictated by someone else. Though he was still quite scared about the idea, at least he didn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder expecting to find a Maid lurking up behind him to snatch him off the street. That is how he had thought this would have gone down. Yet as Sargis and him stepped outside of the Tavern, there was a potent sense of unease in the air that Kotik could almost taste, as well as a rage he was picking up further in the distance. A whole lot of things were coming right for them, and the indignant anger he was feeling was prickling the hairs on the back of his neck. Sargis looked down at the boy tugging his sleeve. “Sir, something is coming.” Kotik looked around in the sky still pouring down copious amounts of rain, “ I can’t hear it with either set of ears over all that thunder, but I feel like something spotted us the second we walked outside.” “We have company Ladies!” Before Sargis could process what Kotik said, a human Maid with long black hair and horned rimmed glasses stood on the edge of the tavern roof and looked up at the sky. The glass in her eyewear was glowing a golden hue and seemed to have images darting around it that Kotik could barely make out. She took a commanding pose, straightening her back and stretching her arm out as she shouted out her orders. “Alright, battle stations on the double! Carriage team, get that shield up now!” Kotik’s eyes darted from her to the carriage where five Maids stood around. All five roared out strange words he never heard of in perfect unison with mirrored hand movements before slamming their palms into the carriage. The Lynxian fell back into a mud puddle in alarm as a blue wave of energy erupted from the vehicle and solidified over the area, covering all of them and some of the buildings. Not even seconds after the shield went up, arcs of sickly green energy bombarded against the dome, causing tremors and ripples through the protective barrier. “Fire Rods, Lightning rods, I’m feeding coordinates of the enemy fliers to your collars now, shoot when you got a lock!.Carriage team, get that teleportation spell revved up so you can add some suppressive fire in, We need to be out of here in 60 seconds! Ice Rods, gets some walls down!” Kotik’s eyes bulged out of his head as the Maid’s got into position in perfect unison, each move fluid and practiced as they got to work. They only opened wider when balls of fire and arcs of lightning blasted forth to meet the green bombardment their shield was getting. As the clouds were lit up by the explosions of fireball spells and the searing light of Lightning from magical rods, his Lynxian eyes could spot scores of flying monsters honing in on their location, some of whom had beings on their backs who were shooting those blasts of energy at them. Howls erupted from either side of the street as strange giant wolf-like creatures peeled around the corner and rushed at their party. “40 seconds till Teleportation. Carriage team, Activate Swift Reload, silver ammunition!” Another incantation was said by the five of them as they hefted out crossbows, and somehow silver bolts materialized right into place on the weapon. That surprise was only doubled as the five got into position, some kneeling while others stood, and unleashed a volley of crossbow bolts the likes of which he had never seen. They flowed out of the crossbows like water as they pierced into the wolf creatures hides, ripping them to shreds as they methodically mowed them down. Ice walls were being erupted from the ground as well, narrowing the cobblestone road so the Wolves could only run down the center where most of the silver ammunition was streaming from. No matter where Kotik’s eyes went, it was filled with the deafening and blinding display of force from the Maids. Scores of bodies fell from the sky, smoldering and burning from the hail of lightning and fire, and on the ground there was an ever growing pile of those wolf like creatures trying to shove their way past the glacial ice on either side of the street. “Trade you this big crossbow for the cutie sir.” A Pink tiefling from Carriage Team tossed Sargis an enormous crossbow, already armed with what looked like a silver spear instead of a bolt before she swooped down and unceremoniously picked the dumbfounded and shell shocked Lynxian from the ground. He hadn’t even realized he had stopped breathing from how overwhelmed he was. “Alleyoop cutie`,” she said in a singsong voice, seemingly not at all concerned with what was going on around her, “ let's get you in the carriage.” Despite the all out war being waged all around him, his cheeks flushed in embarrassment as he was tucked under her arm with his limbs dangling limply in the air, facing backwards as she made her way past her currently engaged comrades. His tail was curled under his legs and into his stomach and his ears were flat between how alarming this all was coupled with having his trousered backside on full display as the Tiefling made her way over the side. “Ten seconds Ladies, take positions around the cart for teleportation!” Kotik couldn’t see anymore once he was inside the cart. The Pink Tiefling had plopped him on her lap and settled herself back, giving him a scratch behind the ears which only enhanced how embarrassed he was feeling right now. All at once the noise stopped, replaced by the gentle sound of nighttime animals. Even the torrential rain seemed to vanish. Kotik couldn’t find his voice for several moments as he tried to figure out what was happening. The Pink Tiefling ruffled his hair and ears. “Heya cutie, we made it! That wasn’t nearly as bad as we thought it’d be.” The absurdity of that statement snapped him out of it as he looked at her. “Wha-What do you mean that wasn’t as bad as you thought!? Did you think a hoard of demons were going to show up as well?! What was that just now!?” “Just some Warlocks, Wyverns and Werewolves from Preja Bog. We had thought they had already got those dimpled cheeks of yours until we found you on accident yesterday.” “Wait…” Now that his adrenaline was simmering down and his heart wasn’t thumping quite so wildly he took a better look at the girl in front of him. “I know you! Garlic Butter Potato and chimera steak chopped up together and cooked in a skillet, with a side salad and water!” She gave a huge toothy grin at that, “Oh wow! You didn’t even need your collar to remember my order! What an impressive little munchkin you are. No wonder that old guy liked you!” Gears began to click in his head as he blinked at her. “So you’re the one who found me?” She nodded, looking somewhat serious, “Good thing too, cause those Warlocks were pretty close to doing the same. Now,” She slapped his rump playfully, “out the door, we got things to do.” She was entirely too handsy with him for his liking! All the ear scratching and head patting and now this, it made his tail and ear fur frazzle out as he gave her a somewhat indignant look. She only seemed to enjoy that even more as she pushed him forward out of the carriage. “Oh my gods and goddesses above, Lord Baldric is going to have a blast with you, I can already tell.” Before he could react, the pink tiefling hoisted him up and carried him in her arms in a princess style like he had heard about in stories. “Girls, I’d like for you all to meet Kotik! He was such a charming little server when he took my order yesterday.” Women he had seen valiantly dismantling enemy forces while he sat in the mud in shock beamed down at him with varying levels of adoration on their faces. More than a few of them pinched his cheeks, stretching his face as he flushed with embarrassment. Still, another emotion came up that overpowered that. “You all were...amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that! Wow!” Laughter came from his sincere expression of admiration as his cat pupils grew large, making his blue eyes sparkle in awe as his mind caught up with everything he had seen. He shook his head suddenly, “I don’t understand, Why were there so many of them? How did they know where we were?” “That was why there was a Dozen Maids and a Butler out with you tonight instead of just one or two of us.” The tiefling holding him said, giving his nose a poke with her heart tipped tail, “If we had found you when you had awakened this probably wouldn’t have happened, but somebody wanted to be sneaky!” Sargis nodded, “We already knew they were patrolling and that we were going to have problems the second your collar activated.” He turned to the black haired woman who had been giving commands throughout the entire minute of fighting and gave her a pat on the shoulder. “You did splendidly for your first field command! There is not a thing I would have done differently in your place.” A bright smile erupted momentarily on the previously stoic and serious face as she gave the Orc a curtsy, “Thank you sir, that means a lot coming from you.” He looked over the assembled Maids and spoke out in his deep voice, “You all did some fine work out there. Unattune from all weapons as well as from the Carriage and return them back to the armory. Afterward, report to your assigned duties. We still have birthday preparations that need to be completed.” Kotik was stunned as they moved out. That had been the most thrilling and frightening moment of his life, and these women were now going to finish planning for a birthday party. A party that he was supposed to be a present for. In fact he realized as his heart thumped in mild alarm that they had essentially treated this whole affair like picking up a birthday present. The cat-eared boy looked up at the pink Tiefling, meeting her black and gold eyes as she grinned devilishly, flashing her sharp teeth at him. “You and I got some work to do cutie.” She thumbed his muddied peasant garb. Both his shirt and trousers were held together by various patches that had been sewn on in an attempt to salvage them, and she surmised if he had other clothes they hadn’t fared much better. “Those rags you’re wearing are not going to work at all, and we still have to give you some dance lessons before the party!” “D-Dance lessons?” Kotik had just realized he was still being held in the Maid's arms, however he decided to deal with one thing at a time.“H-hold up now, isn’t this party only in a few hours? How am I going to get new clothes AND learn how to dance in that amount of time?!” “Also bathe, You got pretty dirty playing in the mud while we were trying to teleport.” “I-I wasn’t playing!” his entire face down to his neck went crimson as she struck that nerve at how he hadn’t been able to react at all. “You poor little thing,” she cooed in a mockingly sympathetic tone. As she walked toward the estate, the tiefling added more to herself then to the boy as she had a sly grin playing on her face. “Lord Baldric's going to eat you right up.”
  7. The way I see it, the only thing you need to do with exposition is imply that the world is bigger than what is on the page. Context clues, implications, and passing mentions of unintroduced elements gives the readers questions they can mull over and want to find the answers for. Take someone shopping in an aisle of a supermarket. The only thing happening in that scene is someone looking through whats on display and trying to find what they need to purchase. However with implied exposition and context clues you could morph something like that into whatever you want. For example, lets say the person that is shopping is a kidnapper and this is a thriller story. He has a victim in the trunk of his car and he is currently shopping for things he'll use to dispose of them later. You can gradually reveal the true nature of his shopping trip through the course of the narration that not only conveys the necessary exposition, but builds tension and makes the reader want to know what happens next. Maybe he's musing about what his victim is doing in the trunk right now, and enjoying the thought of them squirming around in there. Maybe he had some injuries during the struggle capturing the person and he doesn't want to go to the hospital, instead deciding to try and find some self help products in the store. Maybe there's an off duty detective in the same aisle, and he notices the scratches on the man's face and hands, and other signs of a struggle, and he strikes up a casual conversation with the man about what he's buying to gather information. let the scene tell the story rather than thinking "I should put exposition here."
  8. I've already started posting on here but I thought I'd introduce myself. I've been writing awhile under various pen names, usually within the realm of fanfiction. I thought I'd finally step out of that comfort zone and try my hand at some original fiction writing, especially after being so inspired by the care and effort put into some of the stories on here. Hope people here enjoy my efforts as much as I've enjoyed theirs so far.
  9. Demented

    Chapter 1

    Kotik raced down the cobblestone street, nimbly avoiding the rain puddles that were building up as best as he could. He didn’t want to get any wetter than he already was. Each wayward splash of those puddles seemed to give him a fresh wave of cold that lanced through his entire body. Still despite the pelting rain and the thunder rumbling above him, he couldn’t help but feel somewhat happy about today. His employer, a local Tavern owner in this small mining community, had found out that today was his thirteenth birthday. Most of the other adults avoided an unsupervised Lynxian youngster like himself, but the old man had taken a shine to him and his work ethic. Humans tended to be wary of demi humans in general. Gripes about how they lived unnatural lifespans or were too strong to be considered normal abound. Though humans bred like mad and populated much of the world, there was always a budding resentment in the background towards the demi human races. Kotik didn’t get it as bad as some others however. He looked predominantly human, save for the rather long and thick tail coupled with fluffy feline ears that could almost be camouflaged into his almond colored hair. At least they would if they didn’t twitch around and draw attention to themselves so much. His eyes were the dead giveaway even if he managed to cover up the other non human features however. On a dark stormy night like this, his blue eyes practically glowed brighter than the gas lamps that lined the street. It didn’t really strike Kotik as odd that there was nobody out on the streets at first. The rain was coming down in torrents after all, and his Lynxian set of ears were flattened against his scalp from how much they were getting bombarded. It muffled his hearing a bit from that pair, which made him have to rely on his human ears instead. Those were nowhere near as deft at monitoring their surroundings. Human ears were good for listening to grownups chat about their day while he wiped down the tables. His feline ears on top of his head didn’t understand languages for some reason. Though he could hear much farther into the distance with them, whatever discussion he picked up with them ended up sounding like gibberish till he got close enough for his second set of ears to hear it. He had no idea why that was the case. Yet even with those sensitive ears being suppressed by the roar of the thunderstorm, he couldn’t help but feel like there were eyes on him. It was the same kind of feeling he got when he was hunting some particularly dangerous game in the forests nearby, and the creature had managed to spot him before he found them. That same prickling sensation at the back of his neck down to the base of his tail. If his tail fur wasn’t so drenched with rain he was positive it would have poofed out in mild alarm and agitation. Something about the growing tension in the air was screaming at him to turn around and run away. Even as he got closer to the Tavern, he could feel a growing sense of dread emanating from the place, not the excited anticipation of a birthday party. The worst part was, Kotik had a sneaking suspicion he knew exactly what was behind that door. If this was what he thought it was, running away would be pointless. Kotik’s body was shaking now as he stood in front of the Tavern door. The usual sounds of business that took place inside of the establishment could not be heard at all. It was eerily quiet. This could be the regular customers playing along with the owner, laying in wait to surprise him, but even at thirteen years of age he knew better than to expect that. With a deep breath, he opened the door into the Tavern. Standing near the bar with his back facing the door was a frightfully tall man with green skin and a tailored black suit of such fine quality that it made the Lynxian’s eyes widen. The thick silken material the prim and proper attire was made from had a luster to it that spoke of its refined quality and craftsmanship, and the way it hung on the large muscular figures body said that it was tailor made to fit him. The man’s long dark grey hair was braided into a thick ponytail that was neatly tied off at the end with a simple black lace bow with gold trim. The large man turned his neck in Kotiks direction, his thick neck muscles rippling beneath his perfectly expensive clothing. The lower tusks in his mouth, barely poking outside of his lips while curving upwards, along with his green skin spoke to his Orcish heritage. Some Orcs drank at the Tavern regularly, but they gave off a much different aura than this man. His eyes were intense, bordered with well earned wrinkles. Every ounce of this Orc exuded sophistication and education that was practically suffocating to the drenched lad. “I didn’t think the old man could afford a Butler.” For the life of him, Kotik didn’t know why he had said that. Perhaps it was just the absurdity of the situation that was getting to him, but whatever it was, it made those words slip out. The green man's face betrayed a small smirk as he nodded toward the boy, “Very humorous Master Kotik. The Duke enjoys those with senses of humor, so it is pleasing to hear that you have the makings of one, at the very least.” His voice was beyond deep. The Lynxian boy had never heard words spoken in such a low pitch before. Each syllable seemed to rival the very thunder outside. “Your former employer is perfectly well in case you were worried.” He continued after a moment of awkward silence, “He was rather upset about our arrival, but he did ask us to wish you a happy birthday in his stead. He seems to be quite fond of you Master Kotik.” Tears were slowly coming out of Kotik’s eyes now as he tried to keep his composure. He was so terrified right now, but he knew running wouldn’t do any good. This orc was a Butler. Though that title was used for simple servants in other lands and other kingdoms, in Silbel they were something far more than that. In some ways he’d have rather been facing down a score of guards than one of these men. “What gave me away?” Kotik hated how his voice trembled as he stood shaking in the door, making an ever growing puddle of water beneath his bare feet as he tried not to do something stupid. “I will be happy to discuss that topic with you over a meal.” He gestured over to a table that had a plate prepared for him. Kotik had to admit it looked good, but he was far too scared to get any closer to the Butler. It was everything he could do to just stand in place. “You are not in trouble Master Kotik.” The man said in a more soothing voice. His expression was that of genuine empathy, which surprised the Lynxian. “I understand more than you may know how upsetting this meeting must be for you. However I do believe you knew one of us would be coming eventually.” Kotik wiped his eyes with his damp sleeve, achieving nothing in the process as he replied ruefully. “Did you have to do this on my birthday? Could you not have waited to take my freedom away for another day?” He tried to make a joke out of it, but the way his voice hitched and choked betrayed the sincerity of the question. Actually speaking those words made his body shake even more. He wanted to fight, he wanted to run away. Yet he knew doing either would be less than pointless. It would just put him in a worst predicament. “You are handling this quite admirably young master.” The orc said, his tone sounding almost fatherly now. Kotik wished he didn’t sound like that. It would be so much easier if he were mean and nasty. Then he’d have something to strike out at. “Would you like me to dry your garments?” Kotik gulped as he nodded silently. He couldn’t force out any more words as he tried to work up his nerve to walk across the room to that dreaded table. The orc gave a small nod and waved his gloved hand ever so slightly, just a brief gesture, and suddenly the puddle beneath his feet and the water clinging to his clothes and hair left his body and vanished into vapor in the room. He wasn’t cold and wet anymore, but his body was still trembling. “How many are outside?” Kotik croaked out as he finally summoned the will to stumble forward. His tail was firmly between his legs and his feline ears were the flattest they had ever been. “I couldn’t tell, I just knew some people were out there watching me.” “Approximately a dozen or so Maids.” The Butler responded matter of factly as he moved to help guide the trembling boy to the chair, “I’m impressed that you could tell they were there at all. I suppose that must have something to do with your race.” “Somewhat.” The boy sat himself down into the chair, lacing his tail through an opening in the seat so he didn’t have to sit on it, before wrapping the long appendage down around one of the chair legs. “This smells really good.” For some reason admitting this about his last free meal made his eyes well up again. He hated how much his lip was trembling as he buried his face in his hands for a moment. The Orc said nothing, merely standing there and letting Kotik process his emotions before he looked ready to continue. Even with how terrifying this situation was, a small part of him did appreciate how nice this man was being, all things considered. “About a month ago,” The Orc began as Kotik finally summoned the energy to start eating, “We in Duke Bertolde’s estate picked up a rather large burst of magical energy towards one of our mines in the east not far from here.” Kotik nodded, a look of resignation as well as recognition growing on his face even as he chewed the rather delectable hunk of meat in his mouth. “Our Scouts found two ruffians of ill repute with quite a few serious injuries, some of which were nearly fatal. Beside them was what appeared to be what was left of a rotten wooden cart. I trust you know what I speak of.” Kotik nodded. “They kidnapped me, and were trying to sell me as a slave.” For the first time a tone of anger and bitterness filled the boy's voice, replacing the fear he had been feeling earlier. He hated those men with every fiber of his being. If he could he would kill them slowly, ever so slowly for what happened. His expressive youthful face said this in spades as he glared down into the table. “They tricked me.” Kotik continued, laughing with a dryness and a sullenness that sounded like an embittered middle aged man instead of a boy. “They told me they were adventurers. That they never had a party with a Lynxian before. Said they heard my kind were strong and fast and could climb trees faster than we can move on the ground. They buttered me up good with all their talk.” The wooden table he was sitting at grew dark and slightly warped as the boy continued. The orc noted some sharp spines were starting to grow on the wood, poking upwards like needles as the table took on a more menacing appearance. Kotik didn’t seem to notice any of this as he continued to talk in that seething tone of voice. “We bagged some monsters. Worked really well together even. I was able to play the distraction and even managed to stab a couple Howling Squirrels in the neck during a treetop fight. Got scratched up real bad in that one. The two guys, they offer me a potion to heal my wounds. My gullible ass takes it and bottoms it up without hesitation.” By now, the chair and some of the wood planks of the floor were beginning to take on the blackened threatening appearance as he kept talking. The Orc did nothing, merely observing what was transpiring and monitoring the boy without interrupting him. “The next thing I know I’m chained up to this damn Cart being pulled by two horses.” His voice shook with barely contained anger as his pupils became slitted, making the blue of his large irises stand out even more, “ They were mocking me. They thought it was so funny how easy it was to trick me. They were enjoying the fact that they were going to sell me to some mine and have me live the rest of my days under the ground breathing in who knows what. They even mocked my race, saying if they’re anything like me they must be all killed off by now with how stupid I was.” A smile grew on the boy's face, a cold smile that conveyed his rage better than his scowl did before. “Then it happens. Suddenly my head is filled with all this information about the cart. At that moment; I knew what kind of wood the cart was made out of. I knew how old each tree the cart was made out of was. I knew where each of them were planted. To this day I still have a mental image of the people who made the cart. I’d probably recognize them if they walked down the street. Anything and everything having to do with that rolling hunk of wood filled my head like I had read an entire parchment about it.” Kotik’s eyes turned up to the Orc now. Though his eyes were still watering, it didn’t diminish the frustration and anger his cat-like eyes conveyed. “Then I found out I could do things with the wood. I could make it like new. I could rot it from the inside out. All manner of things. Before I knew what I was doing, I made the cart erupt with spikes of hardened wood all around me.” Kotik looked away from the Butler as he gulped, “I’ve never seen so much blood. They wouldn’t stop screaming in pain.” The boy let out a shudder before continuing, “I rotted out the wood that was holding my chains in place and yanked it out.” He grinned again, “I swung that hunk of metal at that bastards head with everything I had. Let it keep going and wrap around the other guy's neck as well before I broke it off me with more wood. Before they could do anything, I made their cart rot to pieces and let their horses run off while I bolted into the woods. I never looked back.” Kotik noticed what happened with the floor and furniture he was sitting on, and within seconds the formerly sinister looking wood was brought back to its original luster. He shook his head a bit to try and cool down and went back to eating. “What really pisses me off about that whole ordeal is that, even as I ran away, I knew it wasn’t over. I’m a peasant that uses magic. I was looking over my shoulder for you guys for weeks after the fact. I’m surprised it took this long.” There was a brief pause before Kotik continued, looking up at the orc with a calmer expression, “I’d like to ask.” He hesitated for a moment before he forced himself on, “How did I use magic without an item? I know that cart wasn’t a magic item. As far as I’m aware, it’s supposed to be impossible to cast without some kind of specially designed tool to funnel it through, like a wand or a book or whatever.” The Orc nodded and smiled, “You are correct. Witches, Wizards, Sorcerers, Druids, any spell caster you can think of needs magical items to cast their spells. However I would like to pose a question to you.” The boy tilted his head to the side in slight confusion, his feline ears twitching with apprehensive curiosity. “Whom do you think makes those magic items?” A look of pure befuddlement grew on Kotiks face as he thought about the question. “I never thought about it before. How would someone make magic items if you can’t use magic without those magic items.” The Butler Orc’s smile broadened at the lad. Kotik couldn’t help but like the man's smile, he kind of reminded him of an uncle he never had. “The answer to that question is in this very room. You are a very special lad Master Kotik. I would know because I am just like you in a fashion.” The boy’s feline eyes widened as he looked up at the Butler, “Like me? How so?” “Master Kotik, we are what this kingdom refers to as MageCrafters. We have dominion over very specific materials, and we can mold and shape those materials into what people call Magic Items. In truth, all Butlers and Maids in this country are MageCrafters. Within a few years, you’ll be in our ranks as well.” The topic that Kotik had been dreading was starting to come to the forefront. However he was much calmer now that he had spoken with this wisened orc. “Why is it that magic users have to be owned by the kingdom. Why do I have to be a slave just because I can do these things?” For the first time, the Orc moved forward and knelt down in front of Kotik so that they were eye level with one another. His large hand rested on Kotik’s shoulder as he smiled warmly at him. The boy could feel an understanding in the man that made him feel better and more relaxed by the moment. “Master Kotik, I’m sure you understand what some magic items are capable of, correct?” The boy nodded as he kept eye contact with the orc. “You must understand that you and I are capable of creating tools of great good as well as terrible evil. While a magic user can be stripped of his spell book or kept away from magic scrolls, all we need is just a small amount of our preferred material and we could potentially threaten kingdoms. If a Warlord or a cultist got ahold of you and got you to do what they wanted, they could outfit their entire army with magical weapons and armor in the best case scenario.” He put his free hand to Kotik’s chest to emphasize his next point. “You, Master Kotik, are even more dangerous in some ways. You have dominion over wood, and even if that is constrained to only one variety of wood, which I suspect it isn’t, that is still a devastatingly versatile and abundant material. Just think about everything you know that is made out of wood, and realize you could make that thing into a conduit of magic with a specific spell in mind.” Kotik took in a deep breath and let out a shuddering exhale. Though more than a few words of what the Orc said were outside of his understanding, he understood enough to know that his powers were very dangerous. “Thank you for explaining this to me.” Kotik paused a moment before flashing the orc a wry smile, “You still ruined my birthday though.” The Orc’s face spasmed with a barely contained smirk as he deeply chuckled at the boy's words. “The duke is going to like you a lot. Of that I am sure. Now, I sense that you have an appreciation of Irony, so I think now would be as good a time as any to break this news to you.” Kotiks eyebrow went up slightly, “Can’t be worse than enslavement.” A small glint of mischievousness twinkled in the Orc’s eyes before he spoke his next words. “You are to be a gift for the Duke’s son on his Birthday tomorrow.” The boy stared at the Butler in front of him with a blank expression before he spoke. He blinked several times, his lips thinning a little as he digested what the Orc said. “I want my nice thoughts about you back.” Kotik stated flatly. The Butler had to cover his mouth to stop himself from laughing out loud, and despite the deeply aggravating news, Kotik wasn’t that far behind him as he doubled over in a fit of giggles.He wanted to be mad at this Orc, but at this point he could either laugh or cry about his current lot in life. This felt nicer than the former did. They didn’t say anything for a moment. They just let the mirth settle down as the boy calmed down again. He had been dreading this day ever since he ran away from that cart, but now that it was happening he was pretty much resigned to it. This was the law of the land, and from the sounds of it the Duke wasn’t a bad man. Him being told that he was a birthday present for some other boy on his birthday still irked him a lot. It was insult to injury on him losing his freedom. “I can tell you are a wonderful lad.” The orc said, ruffling his almond color hair and tousling his cat ears a bit, “and you are handling this far better than any of us expected. None of us likes to bring this news to someone, especially one so young.” He took the boy’s hand in a handshake, “My name is Sargis.” “I would say it’s nice to meet you, but I’m not quite there yet Sargis. I do think we could get along though.” “More than fair Master Kotik.” He paused a moment and gave the Lynxian another reassuring pat before he continued. “Now if you’re ready, we have something we must take care of before we leave this establishment.” The lynxian’s body shivered with a fresh jolt of nervousness as the orc reached behind himself and presented a finely crafted leather collar with blue gemstones lining it at even intervals. In the middle was a large gem with the Crest of Duke Bertolde on it. It took the boy a moment to steady himself before he gave Sargis a nod of assent. He could feel his heart pounding terribly fast in his chest as the collar that radiated a light magical aura drew close to his throat. He squeezed his eyes shut as he felt it seal around him, shrinking slightly so it conformed to the shape of his neck perfectly. He could feel something like a ripple roll out of it and radiate out to all parts of his body from the tips of his Lynxian ears down to his toes. He didn’t feel any different, but he knew now that he was no longer a free person. Part of him was waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the orc to start mocking him for being a fool like the two men had done before when they captured him. That didn’t happen however, the orc let him get his bearings and adjust to his new station in life. Surprisingly, the collar was barely noticeable on his throat. It fit him so well it did not draw attention to itself like he thought it would. “Let us be off young man.” The orc waved his gloved hand, cleaning off the plate with a swish of his wrist and leaving it sparkling before making another motion in front of Kotik’s collar. The boy's eyes darted downwards and spotted a leash that had materialized between it and the man’s hand. His cheeks flushed with more than a little embarrassment at being led by one of those. “There shall be a carriage waiting for us outside. Once we are back at the estate we will get you situated and prepare you for your meeting with your new Master. Oh, and Kotik...” “Yes sir?” The boy asked looking up at the much taller man beside him as he followed him to the door. He tried not to let shame get the better of him but it was quite difficult with the ever present leash in front of his eyes, held lightly in the Orc’s gloved grasp. Sargis looked down at the lad with a gleam in his eyes, that same slightly mischievous look from earlier. “They did a splendid job on that collar, it looks quite charming on you. It really makes those eyes of yours stand out.” Even as his face reddened further the boy let out a sigh, “You’ll have to forgive me not knowing how to respond to that sir.Though, I’m fairly certain my gut instinct of crawling in a hole somewhere to hide would not be the correct choice.” Another laugh came from the Orc at that as he led the Lynxian out towards his new life.
  10. Demented

    MageCrafter

    Welcome to the Kingdom of Silbel, where Butlers and Maids are known and feared as mysterious and powerful magic users in service of nobility and royalty. Follow Kotik, a thirteen year old Lynxian peasant boy as he is thrust into a world he is both terrified of and fascinated with in the same breath. Expect to find Elves, orcs, dwarves and other demi humans in this Victorian styled nation, and learn what lies in store for our cat eared protagonist.
  11. I admire those who are able to make such languages. Personally, I wouldn't be satisfied with a language I made unless I did some in depth research on how languages are made to do it right. J.R.R Tolkien made languages as a hobby and that man had a massive college education on the nature of languages.
  12. Demented

    Chapter 32

    You have no idea how feverishly I have been devouring this staggeringly delightful saga since I stumbled upon it by happenstance. Words cannot express how much I adore everything about this story. I never expected to be so completely enthralled when I started reading it a few days ago. The world building is utterly inspired, I can envision the world of Kandric so completely it excites the nerves in a way few professionally published novels have ever done, much less something I stumbled upon on a website. I can only pray to every god this story has that this story shall receive a long awaited update soon, cause I am on baited breath waiting for the ultimate conclusion to this tale. I can only applaud the imaginative power and care that you have put into this, and I am greatly invested to seeing more of the Red Haired Half Elf in the future. Bravo!
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