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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 - 28. Chapter 28

Count Raudh watched Kotik disappear behind the veil of steam as silence entered into Baldric's Lair. He hadn't been inside of the lair since it was being constructed all those years ago. He had seen Baldric work so hard to make this project a reality. At the time the count hadn't been entirely sure if Baldric would even be able to make a Lair. Sure he was smart, but Lairs took decades, sometimes even a century or two to complete. Yet Baldric had managed it in two years.

Was he the emperor of the seas back when he was doing all that? How come this was the first Raudh was hearing about this part of Baldric's life? It sounded like he kept it secret from his father and his maidstaff as well. What else was he hiding? Baldric and Count Raudh's eyes locked onto each other almost at the exact same moment as those thoughts broiled in his head. Though Raudh wasn't saying any of this out loud, he knew he did not have the inscrutable face that his friend did when he wanted to keep secrets.

Raudh wore his emotions and opinions on his sleeve. His every thought could play across his face at times depending on how worked up he was. It got worse when he tried to hide what he was feeling, because he'd end up making his face scrunch into all sorts of weird ways in an effort to hide what he was truly feeling and getting nowhere. Maybe Baldric didn't trust him to keep his secret? That hurt to think about. It hurt enough that he couldn't maintain his eye contact with his friend who was an apparent emperor and turned to the side slightly.

Shahnaz saw the awkwardness brewing between the two lads and let out a sigh. She was to blame for this in a way. The Tiefling knight had needed to get her emperor to the Lair by any means necessary, and from the way she understood it, Baldric was not going to be covering up the fact he was the Undersea emperor for much longer. With that in mind it was the perfect tool to use in order to get past Sargis and the maids. They had been preparing a whole slew of traps for her group, and she could not have confidently guaranteed they would have made it through there without being either captured or being forced to do something they'd regret. The method she had used had stripped Sargis and the maids of their teeth and allowed them to pass through without resistance.

The downside was the Ruby haired lad had been struck practically dumb from the sudden revelation. It was plainly evident to Shahnaz that if she did not intervene soon, Count Raudh would start peppering her emperor with a slew of questions. Questions that would almost certainly have an emotional tinge of hurt and misunderstanding to them from the way Raudh's face looked at the moment.

Raudh had been able to weather the revelations of Baldric's perceived power during the fight with Babica Preja and her legion. The young count had been ecstatic to have been able to land a few clean strikes and lend a crucial hand in ultimately bringing her down without any casualties on their part. He had been so fixated on that victory that he had been able to overlook the sheer power that Baldric had put on display for at least a little while. Now that this revelation of him being emperor had been dropped into his lap however, it was evident that count Raudh was kept in the dark of a lot of aspects of Baldric's life despite the fact he was one of Baldric's closest friends.

The count had not been the only one rattled by her revealing Baldric's secret the way she did. She knew he would have gotten cold feet and told her not to do it if she had told him what she had planned to do, which would have resulted in a much worse outcome from where she was looking. Her Emperor was good at thinking through problems in a controlled environment and plotting things out well in advance. However when he's put on the back foot to the degree that he had been in the last day or so, his ability to react to problems diminished drastically.

There had been the harrowing fight with Babica Preja which could have easily turned sour once she had arrived in the village. There had been Kotik's realm shattering second awakening that had been felt throughout the world from what they came to understand later. There had been the maidstaff somehow keeping information from both Baldric and herself which resulted in them stationing themselves outside Baldric's Lair in an attempt to stop them for reasons not entirely clear to her at least.

Then there was the matter of his duplicate cutting off contact with him during their escape. He had felt so terrified when he had cut off that connection. Baldric knew his body was still alive. If the vapor item inside of his ice and water simulacrum were to be destroyed his mind would go back to Lord Baldric. Ideally he would merge perfectly back with the central mind as they are supposed to be the same person.However they knew from personal experience that it didn’t work out that way. They had attempted to assimilate minds back into Baldric after they had learned the risks early on, and those minds they tried it with became apprehensive and resistant to the idea. They saw it as giving up their autonomy, and that they wouldn’t be able to work on their own anymore to help out the mission. It was clear in short order that Baldric’s minds, while prepared to act as copies, were not prepared to fully integrate back after they weren’t needed. Their sense of self preservation would kick in, which would only cause more divergences and not less of them. This had resulted in Baldric needing to maintain synchronization with all the minds he had made to make sure divergences didn’t take place.

However the copy was refusing any and all attempts to reconnect with him since that fearful cutoff. He was stuck with mobilizing some of his copies that were stationed in the clouds above his estate to seek out this copy and find out what had happened. He did not like being in the dark about what one of his duplicates was doing, because that could easily result in divergences that would be insanely difficult to rectify later.

Finally there had been the arrival of exceedingly powerful and influential diplomats that Baldric had absolutely no time to properly plan for. He hadn't just been put on the back foot, he had been knocked off his feet entirely over the past day or so. If he was knocked out of sorts, that meant his other parralel minds were experiencing the same as well. Shahnaz knew from dealing with Baldric over the years that such a situation was not something to play around with. If she allowed for a heated exchange between the confused Count Raudh and himself right now which was already out of sorts, it could lead to catastrophic problems in very short order.

"Emperor Baldric," Shahnaz said with some authority in her tone that caused both the nobles to look at her in her full knight garb. She did quite like the respect her armor was already garnering for her in comparison to the Maid outfit she had been wearing up to this point. Pressing that prideful feeling aside she continued, "I will take Count Raudh to greet the two assigned to give us the tour, and I will also take care of debriefing him on the current state of things and your status as the Emperor of the Seas. You handle Kotik and make sure he isn't going to lose his marbles under the sea like we've been worried about. I'm not sure the Science Facility can handle Kotik should he go all out."

As she said that out loud she continued in his mind through their paired connection so only Baldric could hear the next part. "I want you to get all your copies to stop what they are doing and just relax. You need to settle your nerves down and regroup before you start getting divergences everywhere. No more work with your copies until further notice, you need to make sure you are resynced with them. I can tell you aren't thinking clearly anymore right now."

Baldric nodded with some relief and answered her mentally. "Thank you Shahnaz. I don't know what I'd do without you."
He then turned his attention to Count Raudh and spoke to him with a warm smile on his face. "I promise you Raudh, you and I will have an in depth conversation about everything later as well. You are one of my closest and most trusted friends, which is why I wanted you to be here in the first place. Follow Shahnaz and your tour guides and let them talk to you about what is going on for now."

The Count gave Baldric an awkward smile and scratched his head. Both Shahnaz and Baldric could tell that the young Emperor affirming their friendship and trust had done wonders for his mood, even if he still had a lot of apprehension and misgivings about what had happened.

"I believe you my friend. This is all just a bit much to take in is all. I am not even sure when this ascension of title would have even transpired…” Raudh paused realizing he had heard something strange. .”Also, what is a Science Facility?"

Shahnaz looped her arm through Count Raudh's and started leading him to the double doors with a smirk and waved off the young Baldric to go take care of Kotik and to get his rest and relaxation in. She was going to handle Count Raudh from here, and she was not going to let him field a single question to her Emperor until he had properly settled both himself and his duplicate minds back down again.

"Direct your questions to me Raudhy boy, I'll answer everything I can during the tour."

Raudh had a befuddled look on his face as he was led towards the two imposing doors of ice. He was not at all sure what he was going to see on the other end of this now that he thought about it. Neither Baldric nor Shahnaz had gone into much detail as to what this was going to even look like. Was it going to be in water? Was a wave of ocean water going to pour straight through the doors as soon as the doors were opened? He flinched half expecting just that as Shahnaz opened the door, but he was met with an even stranger sight as she did so.

The sounds of applause could be heard as the doors opened for the both of them. Count Raudh looked out and saw strange humanoids the likes of which he had never seen before. They looked like living silhouettes with their ink black skin that seemed to absorb all light. He was not even sure if these beings had mouths, as trying to see any of their facial features was next to impossible. However that wasn’t the most eye catching thing about their appearance.

Living tattoo-like patterns made of bioluminescent color that changed shape and hue traveled across the surface of their pitch black flesh, defining the contours of their face and the like while they were over those parts of them. Their eyes and long hair were similarly glowing with this bioluminescent light. He was certain in the pitch black ocean depths outside, they would be quite enticing for fish they’d hunt. However these applauding individuals did not seem like hunters. Instead they were all wearing identical white uniforms that looked similar to what a doctor or an alchemist would be wearing.

The room itself was very smooth and white from floor to ceiling and gave off an almost oppressively clean aesthetic to it. There was not a spec of dirt or mess anywhere in this large room where this applauding crowd was standing in. It gave off the impression that whatever work was done in this place required the utmost control of its environment.

In the center of this sterile room was one of these ink black individuals, and standing next to him was an imposing figure that Raudh couldn’t quite describe properly. He was a bluish green color and wore the same uniform the rest were wearing, however on his back was a draping of fin like wings that seemed almost like a cape on the large figure, as well as a swishing barbed tail behind him that looked as if it could do a lot of damage if he wanted it too. The tall bluish green figure flashed them a big toothy grin, and Raudh’s eyes grew wide seeing just how sharp and long those teeth of his actually were. Shahnaz also had sharp teeth, but they were not quite as long as this individual's rows of carnivorous fangs.

The applauding died down when Shahnaz closed the door behind the two of them. Before Raudh could inquire what was happening she spoke up to the assembled crowd.

“Assembled staff of Science Outpost Mirage, Emperor Baldric expresses thanks for this warm reception. However he has other pressing matters he must attend to and as such, he will not be able to greet you all at this time. He however will be personally coming by to check on your various projects to see how they are progressing. We look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor!”

The crowd seemed to have taken the news in stride before dispersing down the hallway, leaving them alone with the two figures in the center. This place was like nothing Raudh had ever seen before. What was a science outpost? He had never heard of such a thing before. He had heard of science before. It was the study of how the world worked through experimentation. Instead of simply letting magic handle the details, scientists sought to understand how the world worked on an intimate level. It was not a very common practice in the surface world. It was more like a hobby for certain nobles who had a lot of time on their hands and the mind to grasp such topics. This science outpost seemed vastly different than those trivial pursuits on the surface however.

Shahnaz raised her hand and pointed to the individual with the ink black skin and the hair and eyes that seem to be flickering between orange and red at the moment. “This is Doctor Falmer, One of our lead researchers in the Central Orb of Science Outpost Mirage. Doctor falmer is a Sea Elf, and was one of the very first recruits that Baldric made for this particular project of his. Standing next to him is one of the few Sahuagin we have on the facility, Doctor Pyar who is Doctor Falmer’s number two within the Central Orb.”

“I am ecstatic that the Lair finally arrived Lady Shahnaz,” Said Falmer through what sounded like gritted teeth, though Raudh could not see his mouth to be able to tell. Even up close distinguishing any facial features was impossible save for the parts of him that were glowing. “The construction of the chamber reallocated a whole bunch of resources and made productivity on any project basically impossible. I am going to be thrilled when these non essential personnel are out of my hair and back in the lower orbs working on their projects where they belong.”

Doctor Pyar nudged the disgruntled sounding Sea elf and grinned widely at the two new arrivals, “He’s just disappointed he didn’t get to meet Emperor Baldric in the flesh, don't mind him. He’s been fussing about seeing him since the time table got moved up on bringing his Lair here.”

“Pyar!” a pattern of glowing red erupted on the ink black elf’s cheeks, which was easily readable as a blush for their kind as he continued, “Not in front of our guests! This is Lady Shahnaz you are speaking too. She helped design this whole facility in case you need to be reminded!”

Count Raudh looked at Shahnaz with some awe as he asked the question immediately on his tongue. “You did? You designed this place?”

Shahnaz laughed and scratched the back of her head. “Yeah I helped Baldric with the design. It wasn’t that big of a deal.”

“Not that big of a deal?!” Doctor Falmer sputtered, his bioluminescent hair and eyes flaring brighter in a yellow hue this time as he stared agape at her. “Lady Shahnaz this facility is simply one of the most ingeniously designed magic items I’ve ever beheld! If any one of us should be giving the tour it would be you!”

Raudh noticed with some amusement that Shahnaz looked really pleased with the praise she was receiving. She also seemed to swell a bit more with pride every time the Doctor referred to her as ‘Lady Shahnaz.’ She clearly felt a lot of pride holding her title and getting praised for her accomplishments. Embarrassingly, Raudh never really thought of Shahnaz like this before. He knew Baldric was smart and was quite fond of Shahnaz in a purely platonic way, but Raudh had not imagined her being on equal footing with Baldric in terms of intelligence. It was a thought that made his own cheeks flush with some embarrassment.

“I suppose I could show the initial schematics just to start us off.” Shahnaz said with a barely contained smile on her lips and a flush on her cheeks. Raudh noticed with a gleam in his eyes that her tail was swishing behind her in delight at all the praise filled words. He would need to remember how much she liked hearing that kind of stuff for later. Right now her charms were coming to the forefront for Raudh, and it had been some time since he had been with a Maiden since arriving on the estate.

Shahnaz raised one of her gauntlets and called forth a glob of silver off of its surface. The glob quickly spiraled and formed into a small orb that floated out in front of the four of them. The next thing the four of them knew, an illusory projection of what looked like a staff submerged in water came into view. At least that is what it looked like to Raudh at first. The more he looked at it, the more he realized the water the staff was submerged in was the ocean, making that staff positively enormous.

"What you are looking at, Count Raudh, is Science outpost Mirage." As Shahnaz spoke she enlarged the image and began calling up labels on various parts of the structure. At the top of the spiraling staff was a large orb with an orbiting ring around it. Extending beneath it was a spiralling structure that seemed to extend all the way down to the ground below where it was built into a disc-like pedestal. In the Center of the Spiralling structure were various smaller orbs that were suspended directly beneath the large orb at the top. While it looked like it would be cumbersome to weild, it still nonetheless looked a lot like a magical Staff.

"We are located right here in the innermost chamber of the central orb." She reached into the illusory projection and tapped the large orb at the top, which enlarged it greatly within the projection as if it had been zoomed in on. Raudh watched with some awe as the orb was split in two and revealed the inner workings of the structure, as well as the blinking section that indicated where they were. If the scale was to be believed, that orb at the top of this outpost was gigantic, as Baldric's Lair did not take up much space at all in the center of it.

"Why did you make it like a staff?" Raudh breathed out in some confusion. "It looks beautiful, but I feel like there's more too it than just looks."

Shahnaz made a gesture, pulling out of the orb and back out to the full view of the spiralling staff like structure with all the orbs in the center of it that were suspended all the way down it's length.

"Without getting into a whole lecture on the matter," Shahnaz began with a smug look on her face, "Basically different parts of the ocean have different types of natural magic available. The spiral you see there is designed to draw and harness the natural magic from the ocean floor all the way up to the shallower surface water and harness it into the various orbs you see here. The design harnesses the natural magic and allows it to become usable for a wide variety of tasks and powers the whole facility."

"Lady Shahnaz," Dr. Falmer said with an exasperated and admonishing tone in his voice, "You are downplaying your work far too much with that description!" The sea elf turned to Raudh as he continued. "This Tiefling and the Emperor devised a way of harnessing renewable magical energy that all but bypasses the need for attunments without actually creating a Lair! This is an artificial magic focal point the likes of which scholars have only dreamed of! That's not even getting into the functions it has as a magic item! The applications designs like this facility have are near limitless!”

Shahnaz looked positively bashful as she tried to wave off the Sea Elf who was positively screaming praise up at her. Once again Raudh was seeing a whole new facet of her friends that he had not known was there before. Like Baldric had said though, the young Emperor wanted Raudh to be here because he was one of his closest and trusted friends. They were sharing this information with him because they knew he could be trusted. It made him feel a sense of pride knowing these two truly impressive beings counted him among their friend group, and he resolved to make sure he did not betray this trust they were giving him. He may not know everything that was going on, but he knew Baldric and Shahnaz were some of the best people he’s ever known.That was more than enough for him to trust them and keep their secrets in his book.

This chapter had been particularly unyielding for me, but I managed to work through the writers block. Thanks again to everyone liking and commenting on my story, I do enjoy and appreciate every ounce of feedback I get.

Copyright © 2020 Demented; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

1 minute ago, Yeoldebard said:

Zeus's balls! An entire building designed to focus arcane energies?! These two are incredible!

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

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So well done, we always need a chapter ever so often that gives us a lot of information without making us to emotional, this chapter does that masterfully.  Can't wait to see what happens next, although we need to find out why that duplicate is going off on his own on this...

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12 hours ago, centexhairysub said:

So well done, we always need a chapter ever so often that gives us a lot of information without making us to emotional, this chapter does that masterfully.  Can't wait to see what happens next, although we need to find out why that duplicate is going off on his own on this...

Daw shucks thank you! This chapter took a lot of work to get right so I'm glad you enjoyed it! 

Also that is a good point, we do need to find out what is going on with that! Stay tuned~ 

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I wonder what kind of experiments they are doing in this magical outpost. Given its location/design as a magical focal point it should allow the undersea creatures to research on lots of new and powerful stuff! Since the undersea people are older and more powerful than the surface nations, I could only assume that this outpost further widens the gap between the surface and undersea peoples. 


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On 12/18/2020 at 7:37 AM, Yeoldebard said:

Zeus's balls! An entire building designed to focus arcane energies?! These two are incredible!

I was thinking the same thing! WOW!

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