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    Demented
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Though not present in every chapter, this story will contain graphic violence and coerced sex/rape, some of which involves underaged characters. Keep this in mind before reading. 

MageCrafter - 10. Interlude: The Faceless Wight

Years before that fateful night two men decided to kidnap a young lynxian boy, there was a story that was only known to the seediest criminal underworlds in various nations. A story of a being with a featureless white face and an equally white suit, who came in the cover of night to reign sudden and violent death on their sturdiest and most fortified strongholds. The being did not speak, did not make a sound, and wielded a silver rapier that seemed to be able to deal dismembering blows to any unfortunate enough to come across this frightfully quiet wraith like being.

For that frightening year and a few months, none of the criminal organizations could get a read on whoever this was. Sometimes he would be tall, other times he would be as small as a halfling or a human child, but always it would show up to the strongholds of mob leaders and disreputable slave traders. Slave Traders who dealt in slaves to sadistic and wealthy nobles and businessmen who bought their victims so they could be tortured to death for their customers' amusement. Wherever this Faceless Wight appeared, there would be nothing but smoldering ash by the time it was done with them.

What was most terrifying about the Faceless Wight was that he never was around for more than a few minutes at a time, yet it was able to carve through magic user and thug alike with the same frightful and calculated swipes of his silver rapier and his mysterious and inscrutable magical powers. The superstitious of the criminal underworld wondered if it was a ghost that came back from hell to reap retribution against those who had wronged them in life. Others doubted the stories at all, thinking them mere fanciful tales to cover up for a certain mobs incompetence.

Little did they know that this Faceless Wight operated normally as the imposingly charismatic and boisterous Arch Magician and assistant Ringleader of the Bavaram Circus, the child prodigy Lord Baldric. On this very night, all those years ago in the Kingdom of Snade, Lord Baldric was in a port warehouse with his secret weapon and the one who supplied him with the tools he needed to complete his vigilante missions.

The Acrobat, Bavaram belly dancer, his first personal Maid in Training, and MageCrafter of Silver; Shahnaz.

“I hope you appreciate how hard it is to get some of these magic items to be School Neutral while still being below the Attunement threshold.” The Pink Tiefling child quipped in the empty warehouse by the docks as she rolled out the display of silver items that Baldric would be using that evening.

“You spoil me Shahnaz,” Baldric said affectionately as he handed her some tea he had brewed for their mission briefing. “Looks like you retooled quite a few of my favorites for this mission. Did my theories on how to make them more efficient end up panning out?”

“Yes,” She pouted, “Like they always do. I swear if you ever become a MageCrafter I won’t even know what to do with myself.”

“Not likely Shahnaz,” the boy said with a smirk, “ it’s already lucky enough that I’m a Magic User. Besides with your skills and my theorycrafting we make for a quite devastating duo if I do say so myself.”

“We are LUCKY is what we are.” Shahnaz said with some exasperation, poking her Master’s chest with her heart tipped tail, “You haven’t screwed up yet, but it only takes one time for your white clad behind to get killed out there, and then what am I gonna do with myself?”

“That’s what we practice for Shahnaz! It’s no different than rehearsals with Lord Tugast.”

“Anyway!” She said with an eye roll, swishing her tail as she grabbed for an orb on the table. “Lets get on with the briefing, we don’t have a lot of time to get this right. We have some kidnapped acrobats to save and some morons who decided to try and ransom them to the Bavaram circus to deal with.”

The young tiefling got situated as Lord Baldric sat down on a comfortable silver chair that could grow and shrink in size over time at will. It took awhile for it to grow to its proper size to avoid the Attunement threshold, but it was worth it to be able to have a nice chair wherever he wanted that he could keep discreetly on his person.

The pink skinned Servant held out the orb and willed some natural magic into it, allowing the premade illusion to resolve itself and project before them.

“Our Target should be pretty easy this go round. They are in a Warehouse much like this one down town, not a lot of defenses to speak of. Three floors. Our Acrobats along with other kidnap victims in the area are located in the basement here, here and here.”

The last part she said, highlighting several parts in the illusory projection of their Warehouse target. Being a MageCrafter, Shahnaz had access to all schools of magic as long as she was using her magic items to do so. With her master’s eye for efficiency and her talents with making magic items while using as little silver as possible, they made for a devastating combination. The Illusion they had in front of them was in actuality being consistently updated every six seconds by paired magic items that resembled flying insects made out of tiny amounts of silver.

These silverbugs were already well inside of their target location, feeding the illusory representation of the Warehouse as well as Shahnaz’s collar and Lord Baldric’s Noble ring.

“forty five men, five of them Magic Users of the Evocation school if their Fire Rods are any indicator. Not an abjurationist to be seen among them.”

Baldric scoffed with a snort before sipping his tea. This almost wasn’t worth a briefing; it was so trivially defended.

“I’m figuring relatively standard gear for tonight's show should be more than enough to deal with these amateurs.” The young tiefling said with a scoff. “Now you know what most of these do, but I know you’re going to make me explain them anyway.”

“You do it so well Shahnaz, how could I take that away from you like that.” Baldric quipped back with an impish grin on his youthful face. She couldn’t hold back her smirk as she rolled her eyes and shook her head at his antics and ushered him over before taking a swig of her tea. He stood up and walked over with his arms behind his back, appreciating the small arsenal of silver magic items on the table laid neatly out on a nice black cloth display.

“Your mask is relatively the same.” She pointed to the first item, his faceless white mask that struck fear into the hearts of the international underworld these past few months. “Threaded in the interior of this material are several thought acceleration and parallel thinking items, all of which I’ve managed to give an upgrade to per your updated schematics.” The orb in her hand shifted to show a rotating image of the mask, as well as highlighted indicators of where the threaded silver items were located.

“You should have about a maximum of sixty seconds on one hundredfold thought processing speed for active use, and your passive thought acceleration items should keep you humming along at about five times thought processing speed while it's on your face. Do try to keep the thought processor items away from max output, they are designed to be regulated for a reason and I’d rather you not burn through that time limit if at all possible.” she pointed at him in slight aggravation with her tail as she added, “It is a bitch and dreadfully time consuming to charge these items ritually without triggering the attunement threshold. I do not want to hear over my collar that you blew your thought acceleration load before you even got through the door of the building.”

She pointed to other parts of the mask. “We have some basic School Neutral scrying items located around your forehead which you can use to enhance your vision. You should be able to see through most objects up to about sixty feet ahead of you. I’ve also got that heat vision and sound wave perception versions located about that area as well. Try to keep them running relatively low on magic, just memorize what you can glean with your Noble Ring and turn it off so you don’t run through the charge that fast.”

She picked up seven tiny orbs made of what had to be mere dollops of silver. “Your parallel thinking items are paired with these illusory projectors. They fly in any direction at up to 30 feet per second and each can create one illusory Lord Baldric your parallel thoughts can maneuver about. How we managed to get this up to seven without going into the attunement threshold is beyond me, and I’m the one that made the Gods Damned things.”

Lord Baldric grinned impishly at Shahnaz, “You’d be amazed how much thinking you can do in an hour of meditation if you use up enough thought acceleration items.”

She shook her head, “I don’t even want to know what your mental age is at this point Lord Baldric, but I know it ain’t what’s on your birthday cake at this point that's for sure.”

Baldric laughed at that. Thought acceleration items, a theorycrafted magical item he had pitched to his Tiefling MageCrafter almost a year ago, slowed down Baldrics perception of the world by an impressive degree while he employed its effects. Though this did not translate to him being any faster in real life, He found an immediate use for the item through meditation and running through mental illusory simulations in order to figure out problems and make plans at an impressively fast rate from an outsider's perspective.

Couple that with parallel thinking, which allowed the lord to create duplicates of his mind for a short time and think about either different problems or the same problem at the same time, it led to the Young Lords personality radically changing over the past months from a rambunctious boy into a cool and calculating individual with insights about the world far beyond his physical years of age. In truth he wasn’t exactly sure what his mental age was at this point, though he was certain it had crossed the threshold into adulthood by now at the very least, despite him personally still being a young boy. Over time, the constant use of the items changed the way his brain worked so that his passive thought processing speeds radically altered his intelligence level to a frightful degree.

Shahnaz put the mask down and moved down the table to a harness he wore underneath his suit. It was form fitting and nearly impossible to see when he was fully clothed, but it had a deceptively simple spell imbued in it that made him very mobile.

“Harness of Arrowflight: Restricted to shoot the wearer straight upwards from the ground regardless of the wearer's personal orientation. With its current charge you can send yourself straight up into the air at max capacity at the speed of an arrow for roughly ten seconds. That is not what you will be using this for however,” she demonstrated by holding it and taking a light hop before drifting back to the ground, barely using any of the magic ritually put inside of it, “because much like the thought acceleration items this can be regulated with your thoughts to lower the output and thus lengthen the time you have to work with. This harness should be used like in The Bavaram Circus where we employ cords to enhance people's jumping ability. Just pump enough force upwards from the ground to aid your jumping or make you a bit lighter on your feet when you need it. Don’t keep it on all the time and only use it when you’re about to jump or you need that extra bit of lightness in your step.”

She smirked at a pair of socks and underwear as she pointed at them with her tail, picking them up to show her Master.

“Undergarments of feather fall: Should you find your tush about to eat it by a bad jump, the fall will automatically trigger these paired items before one of them hits the ground at a certain velocity threshold you specified in your schematics. You should be able to land on your feet from almost any height without much in the way of injury as long as you don’t abuse the time limit on these things too much, you got maybe three falls worth of protection in these.”

She moved onto his neatly folded white suit, pointing at it with her heart tipped tail as she continued her showcase of the magic items he would be employing for the mission.

“Your suit has the usual smattering of School Neutral abjuration wards, though don’t push your luck with them. Just because you CAN probably deflect an arrow or two with these doesn’t mean you SHOULD do so. The best protections are the ones you don’t have to use. Use those illusory skills of yours and keep them guessing to where you actually are, don’t be a dumb butt and stand there and take arrows.”

She moved onto the next section on the table. “Now we come to your illusory equipment. We have your Gloves of Sound Snatching,” she pointed to the white gloves neatly on display, “Which as you know allows you to grab sounds within hearing range and store them within the material to be deployed at the nearest hard surface at your convenience, or simply toss it into the sky to nullify the sound entirely. Use this to disorient your opponents and make them wonder where the hell you even are, or what goon you just took out, and so on and so forth. Also useful for breaking into windows without actually drawing attention to the sound of broken glass.”

She thumped a white top hat with her tail, “Top hat of Illusory Disguise, allows you to look like a person you’ve either seen or you’ve made a mental image of as long as you aren’t moving much faster than a walking pace. Useful for disorienting your opponents and wondering where the half pint faceless kid in white ran off too. Just thumb the bridge of the hat like you’re giving a showmanship bow and you’ll activate its effect.”

She picked up an elegant looking cane, also very white with some stripes of silver on it. “Your Echo Cane, just look in a direction and thwap this cane against something, and the sound of the cane hitting whatever you struck will play where you are looking instead of near you. You can amplify or muffle the noise the Echo Cane makes with a thought.”

She came across a deck of playing cards. “Illusory wall cards, each made with silver paint. Allows for single use effects that mimic an two dimensional image, either static or moving, of your mental choice for one minute in a stationary location, consuming the card in the process. These are useful in foggy or smoke filled rooms, as they are harder to tell that they are fake under such conditions.”

She pointed to several pouches, “Alchemical tear gas pellets, smoke pellets, and flammable gas pellets respectively. Each one is imbued with a small amount of kinetic force that will let you toss them farther than usual and harder than usual. They will break on impact and will deploy about a small room's worth of their specified gas. The Bags they reside in are impact resistant, but still try not to jostle them around much. Just grab what you need and toss them into the room. Your gear is specially warded to repel each specific gas mentioned, though do try not to be in the same room as the ignitable alchemical gas should you spark it.”

She moved onto the main event. “And now, for tonight's Attuned Items. I managed to get your Soundless Rapier down from threefold attunement to two. It can shift from sword to razor sharp whip seamlessly and extend outwards for up to three hundred feet within a second down to the size of a dirk. Per the name, it does not create any sound whatsoever and muffles sound around it. While you are attuned to the Rapier, you are entirely imperceptible to the sense of hearing, and anything going on around the weapons immediate vicinity is going to sound very quiet and distant at best. Since you are an expert enough with a whip and sword both, you should be able to flick this puppy about without much issue, but do try not to cut yourself. Also for the Love of the Gods do not break it, I do not want to deal with an Exhaustion Cursed Master for the next month.”

She pointed to a small crossbow. “A small soundless crossbow of single attunement quick reload, which will supply you with a new silver bolt every three seconds after firing. Second verse same as the first, do not break this item. The ammunition is considered non magical and will make sound, but the crossbow itself is completely silent like the rapier and works to even further remove any chance of you being heard by someone. ”

She pivoted around and looked to Baldric with her hands behind her back and her tail waving impishly as she leaned forward. “Any questions Lord Baldric?”

“Honestly I think this gear is going to be overkill, but better to be over prepared than not at all. I should be back at the Bavaram Circus Campsite with the kidnapped acrobats within the next two hours or so.”

 

*** 

 

It had been a quiet night at the hideout. The local gang leader had been quite pleased with himself for managing to snag several acrobat boys from that stupidly expensive circus that had rolled into town. They were going to score big on the ransom he was putting on those brats heads, and if they don’t fork it over he could always sell them to black market slave dealers. Things had really been looking up for the gang leader lately. He had 3 wizards and two sorcerers in his team, each with their own style of Fire Rods that bolstered his gangs firepower to leagues above his competition. Those Fire Rods were so useful too, able to do everything from light candles to shoot fireballs at businesses that didn’t fork over protection money fast enough.

His men were loudly drinking downstairs, enjoying themselves while gambling for who’d get to take first shot at raping the flexible acrobat boys they had below should the Circus not deem them valuable enough. The boss wasn’t going to let them if the brats were virgins of course, cause those fetched a pretty penny, but if their asses had some wear and tear his men could make a night out of it if they didn’t have the money in the drop off location. Hell they might just keep the brats and the money depending on his mood.

Suddenly there was a frightfully loud knock on the warehouse door downstairs. It sounded wrong, like it wasn’t the right noise for the door to make, yet it was unmistakably coming from the door. The men stared at the door in silence, nervously looking at each other before the knock came again, even louder this time. What was creepier is the door didn’t even seem to move, yet it sounded like it was being banged on by a drunken Orc.

Slowly some of his braver men started to move towards the door. Whispers about why the guards outside weren’t doing anything about whoever was knocking like that started to pass between them. Each time the knock happened, it was even louder than the last, till it was utterly deafening and hard on their ears. Some even covered their ears with their hands to try and save their ear drums.

With a sudden move, one of the men opened up the door and then backed up in alarm.

The door seemed to open out into a void of pure darkness like nothing they had ever seen. They couldn’t see outside at all.
They were almost scared to pass by the doors threshold, and that fear was only justified as a gas lamp flickered in their field of vision and a lone figure in all white with no face stood next to it, posing silently with a walking cane.

Several of the men pissed themselves as they tried to slam the door closed, knowing exactly who that figure was. They tried to call out to warn the others, but they found their voices had left them no matter how loudly they screamed.

Suddenly the door and the wall around it exploded forcefully, while being utterly silent at the same time. It was traumatic to those who were blown back by the silent explosion, watching their comrades they had been gambling with get horribly burned and dismembered in the explosion while not making a sound. The figure began to walk slowly towards the warehouse, his faceless white visage taking his sweet time as he flourished out his silver rapier.

More men pissed themselves, some soiling their trousers entirely as they tried to clamber up the stairs. Those who were stuck at the bottom with the debris began to cough and sputter as they breathed in something strange that made their eyes and skin burn like mad, and it was only creeping up higher on the steps as they tried to shove passed one another to safety.

Only to find the men up on that second floor had already been brutally chopped to pieces and strewn about, painting the walls in their blood. Some were sliced clean in half from their center, others horizontally, still others made into mincemeat by whatever had cleaved through them so effortlessly.

The Gang Leader barely had any idea what was going on, but knew from the way the building shook and the few sounds that did manage to escape from the Faceless Wights clutches that something was very wrong.

Then he started to hear them.

One after another, in different corners of the room, screams of his men and pleas for help started bombarding his ears, like the souls of his men themselves had found themselves inside his hideouts office. His Fire Rod wielding guards picked up their magic items with shakey legs and tried to figure out what was happening.

Then, slowly, the Faceless Wight walked in front of the entryway and stared at them silently.

They didn’t even notice the smell of ignitable gas as they tried desperately to shoot at him with everything they had. All that ended up doing was making the entire top floor of the Warehouse erupt into a fiery explosion that shook the surrounding docks for several blocks, temporarily lighting up the night air with how violent the blast was.

While that was happening, a seemingly elderly man had got into the basement of the warehouse and ‘found’ the kidnapped victims and seemed to ‘somehow’ find a way to free them and get them to safety. The old and slightly dirty geezer could only hobble at a walking pace, but he managed to haggardly give the young acrobats directions back to the Bavaram circus and managed to slip in casual conversation that some strange fellow in white went and took care of the men who had kidnapped them.
Of course, as that old geezer rounded the corner and was out of sight from the now fleeing Acrobat boys, he resumed his appearance of the Faceless Wight and began to rapidly change clothes without even slowing down into the attire of Lord Baldric.

The kidnapped boys then would stumble upon Lord Baldric on a late night stroll, who was quite alarmed and worried that they had been kidnapped, but he was glad they were safe!

Though there were some stray survivors from that onslaught that had lasted all of a few minutes, the gang had been utterly decimated, and what few that survived were too scared to even contemplate joining another one, lest the Faceless Wight show up at their door again.

No one knows where The Faceless Wight came from, or where he went off to after his brief reign of terror in the criminal underworld of various nations, but some still fear the day it might return.

Copyright © 2020 Demented; All Rights Reserved.
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The flashback to this earlier secret identity of Lord Baldric was a little disconcerting, but insightful. As a magical revision of the Punisher, he was awesome. It also shows how he aligns so seamlessly with Kotik. They are both killers, but not without a reason.

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Well, this came totally out of left field.  Sort of fits with the belief system embraced by Lord Baldric, just a little less refined at the time.  The writing was good as usual; but I did find the pacing in this chapter rather choppy.

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Wow.

When you’re smart... it appears the use for magical items is limitless. 

Baldric is intelligent and with how his mind works it’s scary what kinds of magical items he’s able to conceptualize. Most if not all of his enemies will never know what hit them. 

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