Aylin Merza was playing with fire, again.
Actually, more like courting death. She just couldn’t help it.
If Eragoth or any tribesmen discovered her sneaking around… Well, it would not be a pleasant experience to say the least.
She was dying of curiosity though.
Ethan West had apparently returned from whatever quest he was charged with by the Krell elders, and had been unequivocally successful according to the clipped discussions she was secretly privy to.
Damn savages! The Krell were always careful with their words around her. She’d met no Krell with a loose tongue so far, and she honestly doubted such a thing as a talkative Krell ever existed.
So she had to sneak around to catch stray, quiet conversations. She had to resort to stealth, like a sewer rat, lest they catch her and report to the elders or – gods forbid – to Eragoth herself. The haughty, god forsaken Krell Matriarch was so annoyingly observant… she’d ordered Aylin whipped twice on two separate occasions, and now Aylin knew to avoid her like the virulent, black-hearted plague that she was.
She couldn’t help it though, she was dying to know what Ethan had wrought with his return. She was sensing great changes on the horizon from the general subdued mood. The Krell guarded their secrets jealousy, however, and she’d be damned if she didn’t uncover their plans.
She was still planning her eventual escape, she just wasn’t sure how to bring an opportunity about, yet. She was also curious about what treasures called this mountain home. She’d make sure to liberate as many Krell possessions as possible when she finally got her chance. Especially that treasure hoard she’d discovered in the dragon’s den.
Soon, she promised herself, and her Krell captors would face their reckoning when that time comes. She’d make sure to leave them an… interesting present when she finally gained her freedom.
As much as she was looking forward to her eventual freedom, though, it didn’t hold a candle next to her desire to investigate a certain curious human’s case. She wanted to tie him down and dig her metaphorical claws into his brain. She really wanted to know which world he came from, and how. Such knowledge as world-walking was priceless. She knew the legends of her world well, and the secrets to world-walking had been lost to the eons long preceding her own time.
She couldn’t even imagine what her late, expansionist empire would do to obtain such information. She was sure such information would open gates and quickly pave the way for her to regain, and even surpass her previous station in the Polarii Empire and its military, should she wish it.
Hell, she’d be practically guaranteed a title and a pardon from her past – and perhaps future – offences. She would be granted a place of honour by the Polarii [Emperor’s] side, meddling with the art of Necromancy or not.
Or she could outright sell the information through an intermediary party and build her [Wizard’s] tower away from the court and all that headache.
She didn’t particularly care in what manner she would extract this information, either. Torture and death were possible venues of obtaining it. She just had to secure her position first, and if she didn’t have to resort to unscrupulous means, then all the better. If she could get Ethan to part with this knowledge wilfully, then that’d be for the best. She would even consider keeping him around as a useful slave. A human slave as strong – and perhaps, as handsome – as him wouldn’t go amiss in her books. She’d have to break him for sure, and she still remembered his spectacular battle with The Eternal Eye of Judgement when they were both captives; but that’s not how she did things. She’d simply bind his soul into a phylactery and keep it on hand, from that point, he’d have no choice but to obey her every whim, living or – she ruminated – after his death.
She suddenly heard something that grabbed her immediate attention, though. She shook herself from her daydream and focused on her surroundings again as she arrived at her destination, and the very quiet conversation she had chanced upon. She quickly slid next to a tall crate situated behind the large tent. She was quite sure it was the command tent, where the elders gathered.
She normally wouldn’t risk coming here, but the entire Krell volcano was abuzz with activity like a kicked hornets’ nest. Something important was happening, and she just had to know what. She knew she was risking detection, but she still had the pendant she’d stolen from the dragon’s treasure hoard around her neck. It was a veritable treasure, because as far as she knew, it granted her invisibility and protected her from scrying spells. At least according to her basic identification spell.
The two Krell guards in front of the tent seemed quite agitated, and were whispering furiously. She had to focus and carefully listen to grasp and comprehend what meagre words reached her ears.
Slowly, her eyes widened in recognition, and when the guards finally became silent and stoic once more. She barely held back a gasp of shock, and knew she didn’t have enough time.
With a frantic pace, she retraced her steps and stalked back the way she came.
Ethan walked back with Elder Ro as she led him a ways through the mountain.
It didn’t take long before he heard a great commotion as they approached the Krell’s makeshift prison area.
“By the Mountain King’s filthy bearded arsehole! Yer ginne regret that ye shrivelled smelly nutsack!” Someone was billowing with the loudest voice Ethan had ever had the pleasure of hearing.
He started smiling like a maniac. Is that a freaking Dwarf? Hell yeah! He thought excitedly.
“Shut up, you lousy maggot! I’ll hear nothing from you till the elders decide what to do with you!” A gruff voice sounded.
Ethan and Elder Ro made their way closer as the Dwarf went on another tirade.
“I be a Dwarven [Scholar]! Nay! I be the Dwarven [Scholar]! I be Felwar Ironvine, the greatest Dwarven historian in the mountain home. Ye hear?”
“I don’t care if you are the king of the Dwarven court, fool. You can shout all day long and you’ll still be detained here, and I’ll still be watching. If you don’t stop shouting now you’ll be pissing blood and pus tomorrow. You hear?”
“Ye feckin’ dare?” The Dwarf sputtered as Ethan approached. His face was red as a ripe tomato and spittle flew from his mouth. “I’ll rip out yer mother’s saggy pair of green Goblin tits! I’ll tear out yer rotten pubes and smother them in me soggy ass hairs then feed them ta yer big blabbering stinking mouth ye runny patch of worm-brained Calwar dung! I’ll…”
“ENOUGH!” Elder Ro interjected, putting a stop to the Dwarf’s grand triade, to Ethan’s great dismay. He definitely wouldn’t admit this was a great learning experience in the arts of Dwarven swearing, and would definitely not admit that his AI was recording every word of this exchange. He chuckled wryly.
Elder Ro gave him a sharp look and he hastily wiped away his big shit-eating grin. He surreptitiously surveyed the rows of empty cages to find six people detained in between them.
They were huddled close to one another, and surrounded on all sides by Krell tribesmen. The Krell parted at the elder’s word, and allowed him a good look at them for the first time.
Well, ‘people’ was a relative term. He was bewildered by the vast range of exotic features, skin tones, hair colours, and various statures and racial backgrounds. The only thing they had in common was their intelligent eyes and reserved looks as they appraised him in turn.
Four were females and two were males, as far as he could tell.
The first was a male Human with stereotypical Arabian features from his previous world’s fantasy themes. Turban and wicked looking scimitar included. He had tan skin and sharp brown eyes, black hair, and a shortly trimmed, well cared-for triangular beard. He was dressed in baggy whites, and wore an enchanted leather chest piece on top. Two mean-looking daggers and a strange pouch were strapped to his belt along with the scimitar.
The second was the self-proclaimed Dwarven [Scholar], Felwar Ironvine. Who wore chainmail and had a giant warhammer he was leaning against his leg. His face was flushed red. He had angry green eyes that somehow also shined with inquisitiveness, and a fiery red beard. He was sporting an impressive moustache as well. He was relatively short. His hairline barely reaching the first male’s waist, but was exceedingly well muscled for his build and stature.
The third was an honest to god, female Gnome or something along those lines. At least, that’s what she looked like. She was slightly shorter than the Dwarf and much more slim of body. He was shocked to find that she spotted a pair of good-sized breasts on her small frame. She wore dark green robes and held a glowing tome. She had a flowing mane of brown hair cascading over her shoulders and gave him a secret smile and a sultry wink when she noticed him checking her out. He hurriedly looked to the next person.
The fourth was a lithe woman with short, blonde braids and brown skin. She had bright, green eyes that reflected the light in strange ways like a cat’s, and a winning smile, which was only made more interesting by her long sharp canines. Oh, and she had feline triangular furry ears and a bushy swaying orange tail. A catgirl? Damn. She was wearing a simple, travel-worn shirt and pants. No armour that he could see. She smiled at him when she noticed his bewildered expression.
The fifth was a reptilian woman who didn’t have any distinctive anatomical features that could be associated with typical mammalian females – namely mammalian breasts, but she was wearing a distinctively feminine blue dress. Her head had webbed spikes instead of a mop of hair. She had a prominent snout and a broad tail. She had a layer of shimmering microscales instead of skin, they varied in shades, from slightly faint blue to deep green, and were somewhat reflective. When she smiled at him he could see she had a row of sharp, triangular white teeth.
The sixth mop of hair stepped out from behind the Catwoman and immediately caught his eye. She was a different female of a race that he just couldn’t place. She had long flowing blue hair topped with a crown of green leaves, golden skin, and when she closed her eyes or blinked he saw that her eyelids looked like two black, golden-rimmed, butterfly wings conjoined at her aristocratic nose. The butterfly pattern was slowly exuding motes of glowing magical particles that rose in the air before fading. She had a sultry look and was positively glowing in his magical sight. She looked like a queen in her element: exquisitely elegant and with a royal bearing. She had glowing floral patterns that were etched on her golden skin, and she was wearing… absolutely nothing.
Silence reigned and Ethan kept staring at her, totally mesmerised by her visage, until Elder Ro sighed and smacked him on the head with her cane, that is.
What is she? She looks like a freaking Goddess of verdant beauty embodified, if that even is a word. Daaaamn, girl. He thought smoothly.
He was surprised when she blushed and giggled sweetly with a musical voice that jingled like bells. Elder Ro smacked him again with her trusty cane and the Dwarf cleared his throat.
The Arabian guy facepalmed and the other women started giggling and whispering furiously while giving him curious looks.
“Ow!” Ethan protested smartly. Did he just say that aloud? Yep, looked like it.
“Never heard of a Faey [Princess] before? Witless fool!” The Elder chided him, then turned to look at the patrol members and dismissed them. She then turned to look at the intruders and spoke.
“Let me apologise about the treatment of those stupid harebrained idiots.” She pointed at the departing Krell tribesmen with her cane, and turned back to the intruders. “I’m told you’ve been asking after Ethan West. Well,” She pointed at Ethan with her cane, “here he stands before you. What brings you to our mountains, honoured guests?”
She’d evidently not met them beforehand, or she wouldn’t have chastised the patrol. Still, she seemed puzzled by their presence here.
They all looked at Ethan with curiosity, and the Dwarf spoke up.
“Ye be the new [Harbinger]?”
“Yeah.” Ethan said.
“What’s the world coming to? We come all this way ta meet with a puny human younglin’?” He scoffed.
The Gnome put her hand on his shoulder and spoke for the first time.
“He’s kind of cute, though.” All the women giggled.
“Oh, shut it. Grenda.” The human guy said calmly to the Gnome, “we don’t know for sure.”
The Dwarf looked up at the man. “Ye reckon it’s him for true, Faisal? The Goddess dunna tell us what he be like.” His eyes narrowed suspiciously at Ethan.
“We’ll have to see his mettle first, and see what he’s made of.” Faisal eyed Ethan critically.
The Faey [Princess] stepped up. “First, a courtesy we all owe. I believe introductions are in order.” She pointed at herself, “My name is Elnora Featherwind, and I’m a [Princess] of the Faey Court and a [Priestess].”
Faisal nodded. “My name is Faisal Tolsom, I am a Cerwish [Enchanter] and a humble [Trader].”
The Dwarf spoke up. “I be Felwar of the Ironvine clan. The greatest Dwarven [Scholar] and historian of the mountain homes!” He stated proudly.
The Gnome woman scoffed at the Dwarf, “my name is Grenda Sprittlebracketsockets. Gnome [Artificer] and [Elemental Alchemist], at your service.”
The cat and lizard women tried to speak at the same time. Then the cat blushed and let the lizard lady speak first.
“I’m Slinda Solay.” She said, hissing slightly while pronouncing the letter S, “A Drake [Librarian] and [Mathematician].” She stated simply.
The cat-lady was the last to speak, “Nadeera Sabretooth of the Jaguar Clan. Beastkin [Lawyer] and [Economist].” Her words were pronounced and very articulate.
“I’m pleased to meet all of you. My name is Ethan West, a human scientist and engineer. May I know why you wished to see me?” Ethan cleared his throat and finally spoke.
“Our Lady of Open Secrets has sent us. We were told to seek out the new [Harbinger] at the Krashi mountains, and we all gathered and obeyed.” The Faey [Princess] spoke.
“Lady of Open Secrets?” He thought for a second, then continued, “You’re all followers of Memeta?” Ethan asked, surprised.
“You know of her?” The Gnome spoke up delightedly, “that is one of her many names, yes.”
“I actually met her in person.” Ethan said.
“What?” They all exclaimed in shock.
“She helped me defeat a Nephilim [Defiler] or something like that.” He explained.
Everyone gasped. “Samayael the [Defiler]?” The Dwarf asked.
“Yeah, that was his name.” Ethan shrugged.
Elder Ro gave him a strange look.
“And you defeated him?”
“Well, yeah. Memeta taught me Soul Magic and I engaged him in a battle of wills using a Spell I invented during the chase. He almost killed me though.”
The Dwarf gave him a bewildered look and took out a journal, an inkwell, and a quill. Then he took a seat on a nearby rock and spoke. “Start at the ‘ery beginning.”
Aylin Merza sat in silence and listened to Ethan’s story of how he defeated Samayael the [Defiler]. She was hiding behind the cages and listening intently. She almost gasped aloud and exposed herself as she listened to the details.
Soul Magic? Direct intervention from a Goddess? Damn that human! She was feeling green with envy.
But… Primordial Soul Magic? Coming up with spells in mere minutes? She was well and truly flabbergasted.
Then Ethan finished his story by saying, “…then his soul was sucked into the Sceptre I made.”
“May I see this item?” Faisal Tolsom, the [Enchanter] and professed [Trader] spoke up with great interest. His eyes positively shining.
“Umm, yeah. Sure, let me go bring it from my tent.” Ethan said and went to quickly fetch it.
The group engaged in a deep discussion while he was away.
“Primordial Magics? Ye think he be tellin’ the truth?” The Dwarf spoke up, disbelieving.
Elder Ro cleared her throat, “That boy may be foolish, but he can’t lie to save a life. Another of our [Warriors] confirms this tale, although I was not aware of all the details.” She looked sceptical. “If this is true, then he has done the world a great service. The [Defiler] was a menace to all living beings.” She said contemplatively.
But where is the corpse? Aylin thought with a wide grin. What if she could reanimate the [Defiler] himself? She felt herself become aroused at the thought. All that power… she had to get to that corpse! If she turned it into an undead puppet, she’d have the power to topple empires!
“I am truly impressed… and quite relieved!” The Faey [Princess] spoke eloquently. “The [Defiler] has been the enemy of my people for millennia. He killed the last [Queen] and stole the Faerie Fire.” She said sadly.
Everyone present nodded.
“Samayael stole The Hammer of Thousand Thunders from the mountain homes centuries ago.” The Dwarf also spoke. “I be thinkin’… can we be questioning his vile soul? The King o’ The Mountains would sacrifice his own mother’s virgin arse fer that little piece o’knowledge! D’ya reckon it canna be done, Faisal?” He asked pointedly.
Faisal looked contemplative and nodded slowly. “It is quite possible, with the proper means. If his soul is truly powering that enchantment, we can possibly interrogate it for a limited time every day.”
The Dwarf’s grin was feral.
Ethan returned shortly, he was holding a travel sack that he deposited on the nearest cage and rifled through. He pulled out a shining golden sceptre and presented it to the bewitched Cerwish [Enchanter] and his group. Faisal looked awestruck as he inspected the item. “You crafted this? Truly?” He asked with reverence.
Aylin was dying to get her hand on that sceptre. She barely controlled her impulse to prevent herself from pouncing on Faisal and tried to stay hidden. She couldn’t help but slowly edge closer, mesmerised by the faint magical glow of the evident Divine-grade of the item.
The Faey [Princess] was staring at the item with glazed eyes along with the rest of them, but her ears twitched like a wolf’s and she looked in Aylin’s direction. Aylin froze. Stupid! That was close!
The [Princess] looked back to the sceptre in Faisal’s hand and reached out to touch it. They all did. Their faces lit by the divine aura.
And they all gasped and withdrew their questing hands when it pulsed in response to the touch of the Faey [Princess].
Her entire body started to glow, and the runic flowery runes etched on her golden skin pulsed in response. She withdrew her hand, and the sceptre levitated into the air, it started revolving in place and pulsating in front of her.
Her body pulsated in response and she moaned in pleasure, wracked with intermittent gasps. She closed her eyes, and the butterfly wings on her shut eyelids turned into a kaleidoscopic display of vast galaxies of stars that shone and pulsated to an unknown rhythm.
“The Faerie Fire!” She whispered in between soulful sobs as tears streamed down from her beautiful eyes.
Everyone present watched in awe as something marvelous happened; and for the first time in long millennia, the world witnessed the birth of a true [Faerie Queen].
|Class (1st)||Harbinger – Science (Level 11)||Strength (STR)||18|
|Class (2nd)||Magineer – Chaos (Level 11)||Vitality (VIT)||17|
|XP (Deferred)||676 (0)||Dexterity (DEX)||23|
|AP/SP Available||0 AP / 0 SP||Agility (AGI)||24|
|Health||173/173 (+1.7/min)||Intelligence (INT)||39|
|Mana||207/319 (+1.95/min)||Wisdom (WIS)||29|
|Soul type||Sapient||Willpower (WIL)||122|
|Divine Lawbreaker||You have broken a Divine Law and incurred the wrath of the heavens. Beware the consequences.|
|Runebreaker||You have transcended all forms of magic and unlocked the more mystic base elements behind it. You now wield great power over the arcane. Beware lest you err!|
|Divine Slayer||You managed to do what few claimed to do throughout the history of the world: to slay a higher being and live to tell the tale!|
|Divine Artificer||You have created a divine-grade artefact. Guard it dearly, lest it falls into the hands of your enemies!|
|Mana Deficit||1 (0%)||Your mana has regenerated, but the effects linger. Your mana regeneration is halved for one week.|
|Analyse (Active)||9||0.18||5 MP||You analyse any object or living being, obtaining information about it. More details will be revealed as the level of this skill rises.||[Scientist, Level 1]|
|Lecture (Passive)||5||0.22||—||You instruct another character on a subject. The level of knowledge conveyed and the success rate are limited by the level of this skill.||[Harbinger – Science, Level 5]|
|Assemble Schematic (Active)||2||0.27||15 MP||You assemble a schematic quickly and efficiently. 10% Less material wasted per level.||[Engineer, Level 1]|
|Adjust Entropy (Sustained)||6||0.78||~||Adjust the level of entropy in a system or creation. 10% To effectiveness per level.||[Chaos Engineer, Level 5]|
|Stabilise (Active)||2||0.88||~||Allows you to stabilise any chaotic reaction, quickly bringing down the energy of an unstable system, chemical reaction, spell, or machine.||[Chaos Engineer, Level 5]|
|Mana Manipulation (Passive)||5||0.02||—||The ability to manipulate mana is at the core of spell-casting. This skill governs how much mana your body can channel. 2% bonus to maximum mana per level.||[Magineer – Chaos, Level 8]|
|Rune Mastery (Passive)||3||0.56||—||The ability to construct and maintain spell models in one’s mind is what governs Rune Magic. Your mastery over runes will increase with the level of this skill. Can control +2 extra runes per spell model per level of this skill.||[Magineer – Chaos, Level 8]|
|Design Schematic (Active)||2||0.43||100 MP||Allows you to design a schematic.||[Scientist, Level 2]|
|Chaos Reign (Passive)||2||0.24||—||Chaos reigns! Your mere presence instigates chaos around you.||[Magineer – Chaos, Level 10]|
|Meld (Active)||3||0.08||4 MP||You shape an object or material to your liking, consuming mana in the process.||[Magineer – Chaos, Level 10]|