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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 - 24. Chapter 24

Sargis did not feel good about what he was doing right now. He stood in the hall in front of his young Lords Lair with a full company of Maids behind him guarding the sealed off entrance. Their resident Stone MageCrafter Maid molded the stone around the nearby floor and walls to put up a thick block of stone between the Lair’s entrance and the rest of the hallway. There was currently three feet of MageCrafted Stone standing in front of the Lair’s entrance with warding against all moisture from water.

The tension in the air was palpable as they all watched the hall silently. He knew his young lord was quite adept at sneaking around places. He could turn invisible and seemingly vanish on a whim. Yet the Orcish Butler had to at least try and steer his young lord away from doing something that could embarrass his house any further. Lord Baldric was going to have some difficulty sneaking through this particular hallway today.

At least he would if the Butler Sargis had anything to say about it.

He thumbed a new ring that resided on his gloved hand with some apprehension. It was made of plant matter that was hardened to the point of resembling metal. It had on it a small yellow flower bud that was made highly reflective to resemble a gemstone. He hated wearing this thing, yet it had proven necessary after what had happened in the village with Babica Preja. Never in his wildest dreams had he thought it would be important to keep things from the young Lord Baldric in order to protect the Bertolde Estate.

He remembered the day he had received this ring that made him feel like a double agent within his own master’s house. It had been on that fateful day he had been tasked to apologize on behalf of the Bertolde estate to the High Elven Queen, Felsalvia. She had spent much of the meeting railing and ranting against his young lord and his supposed corruption of her first born. It had been a quite frightening experience being in the lair of a High Druidess who had so much power at her disposal. Towards the tail end of that frightening meeting it had taken a strange turn however.

“You know he is plotting something right?”

“Your Highness? I’m not sure what you are referring to.”

“Of course you don’t! He has hoodwinked you all quite well after all.” The high elven queen seethed on her throne within her lair. “However I can see you are a reasonable man. You understand the importance of keeping our Master’s honor and working your hardest for those who are above you. I can respect that, even if I have issues with one of the people you are serving.”

“I thank you for complimenting me, Your Highness, but I truly do not know what you mean. What would the young Lord be plotting exactly? He is merely a boy with a rather… active appetite for the pleasures in life.”

“That is where you are mistaken, my young Butler.” Queen Felsalvia said as she leaned closer to him on her Throne. “Surely you cannot think he has been going to all these countries throughout the world, as well as the undersea kingdoms, simply to fulfill some base carnal desires of his. Your Charge just wants you to think he is acting like a hormonal canine in heat. No…” her face grew harder as she continued, “He is toying with all these noble boys like my son to obfuscate whatever it is he is really scheming. I do not like it one bit.”

“With all do respect, Your Eminence, these are serious accusations you are levying against my Young Lord.”
“You are correct. Without proof I am merely making baseless accusations. However I want to bring this to your attention regardless, because I see in you a desire to protect the honor and integrity of your Master’s Estate and your Master Bertolde’s name. Should your meddlesome Young Lord actually be plotting something serious you need to be prepared to reign him in before he deals serious harm to your Master’s house, or worse, your entire nation’s standing on the world stage.”

“What do you suggest?”

Her answer had been quite simple; Establish a secret communication network between the Butler and the Maidstaff that Lord Baldric would not be aware of. She made a point of telling him that he could share any information he gathers through this secure network with Duke Bertolde, but that Lord Baldric was to be purposefully kept out of the equation. He had humored her by taking the communication tool, but he had no intention on using the ring or any of the paired items that came with it. He even told the Duke about it, who merely waved off the gift as nothing more than her being paranoid and said to shove the magic items in a box somewhere.

They had remained locked up in a box until the day the Young Lord had killed Darzi. The power he had revealed that day had thoroughly alarmed his Duke, who had long since forgotten about the High Elven Queen’s gift. The Orcish Butler had not however. It had sprang to his mind almost immediately when he had seen what his Young Lord was truly capable of.

Queen Felsalvia had been right. Lord Baldric was clearly scheming something. A boy who had been supposedly living the life of a shameless incubus stealing the hearts of noble boys throughout the world was not someone who would have that kind of power. He had started off small after that day, merely wearing the ring and establishing contact between himself and the Queen.

Then things started getting more suspicious as time went on. The Queen started pointing out discrepancies and suspicious activity of Lord Baldric that the Butler hadn’t noticed before, and it spurred him to start passing out secure communication items to the maids he could trust. He made a point to have them not tell Shahnaz about what was going on, since she was the closest Maid to Baldric and was more loyal to him than to the estate. That was his gut instinct on the matter at least.

During and After the Battle with Babica Preja however, Sargis had been confronted with the full force of Queen Felsavlia’s dire warnings. How could he have possibly known that his young Lord was amassing power capable enough to near single handedly wipe out an invading army led by the waking nightmare known as the Hag Giant of Preja Bog. That wasn’t even touching on the growing level of danger that Kotik was proving to be to the estate. The boy had become steadily more terrifying as the days wore on, and him beating the hag giant to death with his bare hands only heightened that alarm.

The butler had then sent out the order through the secure channel to keep all foriegn news to the magic items he had provided them until such a time as Lord Baldric could not react to them. The young lord clearly had a way of gathering information outside of his noble ring, and keeping things secret from the young lord was becoming increasingly important. Which is what led him to standing guard in front of Lord Baldric’s Lair when he was supposed to be attending a meeting with foriegn diplomats.

He hoped and prayed that his suspicions had been for nothing, but the growing tightness in his chest and the tension brewing in the air told him that this was not the case. Lord Baldric was up to something, and it was up to him as his Butler to try and steer the lad away from the ledge before he did something drastic.

To that end, the entire hallway leading up to Lord Baldric’s Lair had been purged of all humidity and moisture through abjuration warding. Connected to the Butler’s glove was a series of long thin strands of nigh invisible silk that ran in weblike patterns all throughout the hallway. Each strand of silk was under his complete command, combing the area and sensing for any and all movement that his maids would not be able to pick up.

Their resident Glass MageCrafter who had been in charge of Kotik’s extraction in what felt like a lifetime ago had her glasses trained on the Hallway, cycling through any and all methods of detecting invisible intruders. Lord Baldric was exceptionally good at concealing himself. Not only could he fool all normal senses with his illusory powers, but with his mastery over water he could mask his body heat from being detected as well. Motion sensing was practically the only tool they had to really track him, as everything else could be fooled by his illusory powers. Still, even seeing his distractions with her glasses would tip them off that he was in the hallway at the very least.

‘Alright Ladies, we have company.’ The Glass MageCrafter mentally spoke into their secured magic items as she tensed up, ‘Remember, direct offensive action will not work against a noble from Silbel thanks to our collars. We need to focus on cutting off resources and discourage them from trying to get into that Lair. Best case scenario, Sargis talks them down, worst case scenario, we forcibly teleport the young lord into the crafted area we made for him and secure Kotik from there. Kotik does not have the protections that Baldric has, so it should be easier to subdue him.’

The Maids and Sargis stood in anticipation for what their young Lord might possibly have up their sleeve. They were expecting him to pull out some strange and fantastic illusory distraction to make them scramble to find an answer for.

 

***

 

Shahnaz knew her young Lord was having issues with his escape plan just from his body posture. While Baldric certainly had gotten better at concealing what he was feeling and putting up a front for others over the years, for Shahnaz the slightly younger teen might has well have written a journal and given it to her to memorize. She knew every twitch and expression her young lord had better than her own reflection, and it spurred her to ask him about it as they moved through the halls on their elevated and invisible platform.

“Alright Baldric, spill the details. What’s got you all twisted up.”

The young lord looked visibly appreciative that she had said this while using a discrete magical item on her person that made it so only he could hear her voice. He carried the pair of that item on his person at all times and it served as a private channel for them to communicate outside of the Noble Ring when they were in close proximity to one another.

“My duplicate just cut off all contact, and he seemed really scared when he did so.” He said in a hushed tone, keeping his face forward so the other two couldn’t see his lips moving as he spoke. “ I also am getting word that there is activity outside my Lair, and none of my duplicates or assistants seem to be able to get into the hallway. It’s entirely warded off from all moisture from what I’m gathering.

“Sounds like they know we’re coming. Or at least they know we’d try to come.” Shahnaz said in a conversational tone. Baldric looked mildly annoyed with this as he darted his eyes over to her and kept walking down the elevated platform, moving their bubble as he did so.

“Why do you sound so okay with this? How have they been getting this information outside of the eyes of my information network dammit? I thought I had all the information gathering taken care of.”

She patted his back with her tail briefly as she smirked at him with a sidelong glance. “Clearly the Maidstaff are better at hiding things than you thought hmm?”

“Did you know anything about this?” Baldric asked in almost an accusing tone, but her steady glare into his eyes with her black and gold pair made him stand down from his aggravated remark. “Sorry, I know you wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize this. I’m just agitated because…”

“You don’t have control of your stage or audience.” Shahnaz finished for him with an impish grin on her face. He let out a sigh and nodded slightly at that. She had seen that barely repressed panic at not having control of a situation on his face many times before back when they worked together in the Bavaram Circus and as The Faceless Wight. It was time for her to step up to the plate and fill in for what he lacked. A task she took quite a lot of pride in.

“You are in your element when you’ve planned and plotted everything out and added a million contingency plans on top of it, but boy do you suck at Improv Baldric.” She quipped at him with a chuckle. “It’s the one thing you never managed to learn off of Lord Tugast.”

“The man is an absolute genius at thinking on his feet. I never could figure out how he did it. All I could do is fake it with all my planning and hoped nobody would notice.” Baldric grumbled. She chuckled at that and proceeded to crack her knuckles and stretch, loosening herself up for her task ahead.

“Well don’t you worry bout a thing. Leave everything to me Baldric.”

“Why? What do you have in mind? Did you plan something?” Lord Baldric asked apprehensively. She scoffed and waved her hand dismissively at the very thought.

“Planning is your thing. However It was my ability to read ‘the audience’ as you love to put it and give the performance they need right at that moment with improvisation that got us out of our stickiest situations. You’re the guy that makes sure it goes right, I’m the gal that hops in when it inevitably goes wrong.”

He let out a shuddering sigh of relief before looking over at Shahnaz. “Are you going to tell me what you’re going to do?”

“Nope! I want your butt to sit back and watch me work my magic on those guys. If I tell you, you might freeze up on me. I need you limber buddy.”

 

***

 

Sargis and the maids both felt their eyes grow wide in surprise as Shahnaz stepped forward into the hallway in full silver plate armor. It wasn’t just any silver plate armor either. It was emblazoned in the front with a royal crest that contained the three different symbols of the Undersea Kingdoms and contained in the center the white symbol of Lord Baldric. Her entire appearance radiated a formal and imposing presence that she normally never had. Her playful smile was now trained into a formal and dignified expression so alien to her that there was a brief question if this was Shahnaz at all.

What was even more alarming was she did not have a collar on her neck anymore. It was completely absent from her neck now, revealing her bare pink skin where it had once been for the first time in their memory. Even Sargis had only seen her neck without a collar for the briefest moment when he had taken that silversmith’s collar off of her and put on the Bertolde Estate’s collar on instead.

“Attention, Butler and Maids of the Bertolde Estate.” Shahnaz said with her arms behind her back and her chin held high, “You are standing in the way of the Emperor of the Seas, Emperor Baldric. By the Authority vested in me as his personal Guardian Knight, you are formally requested to cease any and all obstructions between himself and his Lair.”

“Sh-Shahnaz? What is this about? Where is your Collar? You know it is illegal for a MageCrafter from Silbel to be without a collar!” With each word Sargis’s voice grew more agitated and angry. He knew that she had grown too lax in her duties lately, but to think she would stoop so low as to commit a crime such as decollaring herself. He felt hurt, as he had known the Tiefling since she was a starved orphan child in the basement of that silversmith’s shop. He had brought her here thinking she would be safe, and she goes and pulls something like this.

“Butler Sargis, you are not speaking with a resident of Silbel. I have not been a resident of Silbel in years. I was merely serving at my post as his Guardian Knight while wearing the attire of a Maid during that time.” Her black and gold eyes leveled on the Orc. “Stand down and remove any and all obstructions from this hallway so My Emperor may proceed down this hallway unimpeded.”

“Shahnaz. What are you talking about? Lord Baldric is just the trade ambassador of the undersea kingdoms. What game are you playing at.”

Shahnaz flicked her wrists, revealing a shield with the same royal crest on its surface that seemed to grow out from her gauntlet as well as an ornate silver rapier that seemed to almost grow out of her armor itself before solidifying into its own magical item.

“While Lord Baldric maintains dual citizenry between our two nations, he has operated in part as a trade ambassador. However his main and true duty is to the Undersea Kingdoms as their Emperor. A duty which you have now flagrantly stood in the way of despite my repeated requests for you not to do so.”

Her rapier sang out as she pointed it at Sargis and raised her voice imposingly. “Stand. Down. Immediately. Remove all obstructions in this hallway and do not hinder my Emperor any further in stepping into his rightful Lair. I will not ask again.”

None of them knew what to make out of any of this. They had known Shahnaz for years and never seen her act like this at all. Yet she seemed deadly serious and they did not want to get into a full on physical altercation. Not when they didn’t have all the facts. If she was speaking the truth, they could cause serious problems to the Bertolde Estate by stalling any further.

Through gritted Teeth Sargis finally relented. “Maids, stand down and lower the barrier from the Lair.” With that he retracted all his threads back into his gloves, shaking with frustration as all the preparations they had laid down to stall and stop Baldric were dismantled before their eyes. Shahnaz responded by adopting a less threatening posture, though she still kept the rapier and shield on her person as she did so.

“I do wish to thank you for bringing me to my Emperor back then Butler Sargis.” Shahnaz said to the Butler, still maintaining her dignified air but softening her tone up a lot. “You helped turn my life from a truly bleak existence to one I can truly live with pride and joy in my heart. However I will not ever apologize for relinquishing my citizenry to Silbel or taking my Emperors offer to become a free person. As such, My allegiance is with my emperor and to him alone.”

After she spoke those words, three figures walked out into the hall and followed Shahnaz to the Lair. What immediately caught the eyes of the Butler and the Maids was Lord Baldric who was now unmistakably wearing the regalia of an Emperor, from the crown, to wielding the Scepter, to the robes that were pure white, a clear sign that he made these items with his MageCrafting. Both Kotik and Count Raudh walked beside him, trying to keep their eyes from wandering too much as they headed towards the Lair.

Sargis watched through gritted teeth and clenched fists as they entered the Lair. All let out noises of alarm mere moments lair as the entire hallway shook and the doors of the lair immediately and suddenly vanished, causing the carved out space the Lair had been residing in to immediately cave in from the lack of support it suddenly had. Dust plumed out of the now vacant entrance as the realization that Baldric had teleported the entire Lair out of the estate became evident to all of them.

“We need to tell Duke Bertolde. We need to figure out what is going on immediately. What just happened?”

Sargis shook his head. He had no idea, but it killed him that once again that terrifying Arch Druidess of a Queen had been proven right. Though he knew in his gut that not even Felsalvia could have predicted Lord Baldric would have pulled something like this.

Copyright © 2020 Demented; All Rights Reserved.
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This has been an amazing story!   The stakes keep rising and it continues to delight and surprise me.  Well done!

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I don't like Sargis being in conflict with Baldric even just to try and prevent him from causing issues.  I know that Sargis has to stay loyal to the Duke, but he should know that that damn druidic elf is also playing at games as well.

Can't wait to see what happens next...

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41 minutes ago, GanymedeRex said:

This has been an amazing story!   The stakes keep rising and it continues to delight and surprise me.  Well done!

Daw shucks, it's great to hear people are really enjoying the story! Makes telling it all the more fun! 

 

 

5 minutes ago, centexhairysub said:

I don't like Sargis being in conflict with Baldric even just to try and prevent him from causing issues.  I know that Sargis has to stay loyal to the Duke, but he should know that that damn druidic elf is also playing at games as well.

Can't wait to see what happens next...

I can practically feel you shaking your fist in the air at "that damn druidic elf" lol! 

 

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