Dwarves of Appalachia

by

Blackguard

Chapter 39: Servants, or not? That is the question.

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     “Hoard?” Jamie asked confusedly.

     The small lizard-like humanoid nodded, “Yes Horde-Maker, we are your kobolds.”

     Jamie looked even more confused, “I… I didn’t make all this. This is just my shop.”

     “Oh, no, you made us!” The kobold responded happily, as he did several other small kobolds appeared around the corners of the shop.

     Jamie nearly fell over panicking. “What? When did I? How did I?”

     After a few moments they quickly ran back up the stairs to see that yes, there were two more Kobolds in the sleeping area above the shop. Jamie looked down at the shortest kobold, standing on an old stool by the bathroom sink.

     “I… I guess thank you for this morning?” Jamie said, more as a question than a statement.

     “We live for you, Horde-Maker.” The small purple kobold replied.

     Jamie let out a long exasperated sigh, realizing that it was already time to go back to school. “Hey uhm…. What’s your name?”

     “I have not one yet Horde-Maker, would you like to give me one?” The short purple kobold asked.

     “You can pick one yourself later, just… ugh, would you mind coming with me?” Jamie asked, not ready for whatever amount of responsibility this new event may have imposed.

     “Gladly, Horde-Maker.” The short purple Kobold hopped off of the stool.

     “Second thing, just call me Jamie,” The humanoid cobalt dragon responded as they led the way back down the stairs and out of the door.

***

     “BWAHAHA!” Zippy nearly fell off of his cloud laughing as Jamie returned to him with one of their Kobolds.

     “Quit it, what’s going on?” Jamie asked, exasperated as the gnome had been laughing for a solid ten minutes, starting when they had arrived.

     “I told you, your horde will grow,” Zippy responded calmly after regaining his composure.

     “Sure but I thought you meant “Hoard” Like a dragon’s hoard, treasure?” Jamie asked.

     “Oh, yes, and no. Your inner-world does seem to use a treasure hoard as the measure of your mana, but no. Every dragon that comes into this world spawns in a species of Kobolds. Yes, yes, someone may turn into a kobold when they go through their change. However, these are entirely new species.” Zippy turned to look at the short purple kobold.

     Jamie sighed. “So, are they like, figments of my imagination or…”

     Before Jamie could finish, Zippy cut them off, “Oh no. They are quite real. Remember how I told you that Dragons almost exude mana? Well, this is one of the ways. Normally Kobolds can take a year or so to appear, but considering your connection to what has to be the largest source of creation mana that I have ever even heard of… Timelines tend to change.”

     Jamie sighed, burying their face in their hands. “What am I supposed to do with a load of short lizard-people?”

     Zippy laughed, “You mean, what can they do for you? Kobolds are summoned as obedient little helpers that want nothing more than to make their creator’s life easier.”

     Shaking their head, “I… I can’t really accept that a species or whatever came into being to serve me. What if I don’t want servants?”

     Zippy laughed, “You got them. And they won’t be happy unless you give them an order or let them be of use to you.”

     Jamie let out a long exhausted breath, deciding this wouldn’t be the best place for advice. Sure, Zippy could tell them why they had tiny lizard-people, but he’s clearly too old fashioned for what they wanted. The way Zippy talked it was like they were just willing slaves which is… uncomfortable to say the very least.

     Jamie looked back to see the short kobold following them. “What do you want to do?”

     The Kobold looked confused, “What would you like me to do?”

     Jamie just sighed again, a theme for the day as they realized that even with the early hour, they already felt exhausted.

***

     Jamie stood outside Dr. Hawthorne’s practice, small kobold in tow.

     “Maybe here I can get some better advice,” Jamie said with a smile.

     It was still too early for the doctor to be seeing patients currently, but considering her house was above the practice itself, they felt like it was a safe bet to ring the doorbell. After a few minutes of waiting the old but young-looking wood elf woman came to the door.

     “Yes, what is it? My hours are on the door and it’s far too early for…” Dr. Hawthorne tried to say before getting cut off.

     “I woke up and this… uhm… fellow? Well, I woke up and this fellow existed. They did not exist the night before, what do I do?” Jamie asked, exasperated.

     The Doctor blinked twice then looked at the kobold, “Uhm, yes. Magic is back, you appear to know that first-hand.” She said with a confused tone.

     “I know, but… what do I do with it?” Jamie asked with desperation in their voice.

     Dr. Hawthorne then looked at the small Kobold and replied to Jamie, “Firstly, I’d recommend not talking as-if our subject isn’t right here.” She said with a chiding tone, “Secondly, why not just ask?”

     Jamie sighed, “They want to serve me, but I don’t want a species of… well... “

     “Slaves, you don’t want a species of slaves deary,” Dr. Hawthorne said the uncomfortable thought that had been bouncing around Jamie’s head all day.

     “Correct,” Jamie said, looking down at the small kobold.

     The elf woman looked at them both and let out a sigh, instead of offering for them to come inside, she sat on her stoop step to talk to them. “Listen, a little over a hundred years ago, children weren’t made because mommy and daddy loved each other very much or whatever. They were made for free labor, to help on farms or businesses.”

     Jamie nodded along as she continued, “I’m sure many of those children just wanted to make their parents proud. So, if you really did have a new species just appear in front of you, which I don’t even doubt, I mean, after all, I seem to be at least part plant now. Anyway, back on the subject, just let them do what they want to. Guide them away from dangerous things and teach them. These aren’t slaves or servants, think of them as children and allow them to go out and do what they want.”

     Jamie nodded and looked down at their walking companion, then back at the woman formerly known as ‘Grannie Getcha’, “Thanks, that… that actually lines up a bit with what I was told before.”

     “Any time, just, next time, set up an appointment. I don’t like doing this before my morning coffee.” Dr. Hawthorne said with a smile, slowly getting up and heading back inside.

     Jamie looked down at the Kobold once more, “So, you just want to serve and make me happy?”

     The small purple lizard-like humanoid nodded, “Yes, what can I do?”

     Jamie sighed, “First, It’s going to be very clear this will get confusing. What’s your name?”

     The kobold again looked confused, “Name?”

     Jamie let out an even louder, annoyed sigh, “Yes name. What’s yours? As in, what do I call just you?”

     The kobold looked confused and then contemplative. Placing one of their clawed hands on their chin and tapping it. “I… I don’t know.”

     Jamie let their frustration ease, this was a new being, and patience would be needed, even though it definitely was not their strong suit at times. “Well, the first thing you can do for me is telling me your name when you figure it out.”

     With that, Jamie smiled at the kobold who now wore an even more contemplative look.

***

     Will looked upon the early-morning sun and smiled through the body of the goblin receptionist. Spreading their wings out and just enjoying the gentle light. The artificial soul normally inhabiting said body decided to take their rest hours in the early morning, so now the body was directly under the genie’s command.

     It felt good, the actual responsive nerve endings feeling the gentle warmth of the morning sun. While being made of mana was useful for many, many things, touch and taste didn’t seem to be as powerful for them as it was the humans. Will decided they’d need to look into this further just as they saw Jamie walking up the gravel road with a… small lizard person?

     “Heya, what’s going on?” Will called in the body of the brown-skinned goblin, beautiful wings spread to absorb the morning sun.

     Jamie, confused, stopped walking for a second. “You okay up there? I’m just looking for Will.” They paused, remembering the normal lazy, and dismissive attitude the receptionist had.

     “Oh, you mean Splug, he’s resting, it is Will,” the goblin replied joyfully.

     Shaking their head, “It’s still hard to get used to you all not being connected to any body. And since when can you inhabit something you’ve made?”

     Will giggled, “Since I began testing my new floor, zone, level… Hm, I don’t know what to call it, but ever since I began work on my expansion I’ve been able to have more control. Anyway, who’s this you’ve brought?” The genie said, rubbing their cheeks in a joking manner due to the perceived cuteness of the small lizard-person.

     “That’s actually what I’m here about. They just sorta… showed up. Apparently, this is normal for dragons, but Zippy thinks your mana may have sped it up. So far I’ve been told just to accept them as servants, or treat them as children, but… Well, you’re sorta the only person I know who has just made life. What do you think I should do?” Jamie asked.

     Will looked ecstatic, smiling, “Well this is just wonderful! Well, first I’d ask them what they’d want to…”

     “Only want to do what I ask them to, or something,” Jamie cut in.

     Will looked down at the Kobold, their smile shrinking into a gentle kind one, “You just wanna make em proud don’t ya?”

     The kobold, now hiding behind Jamie’s leg at the new and possibly scary thing, “Y-yeah…”

     Will looked back up to Jamie, “I’d say the children advice would make sense, still… I feel a latent intelligence, a lot of it actually. This small one here may develop fast. I don’t think I would consider them children so much as… students. It has worked well for me.”

     Jamie thought about that, the small creatures were already seemingly running the shop well. Checking the receipts before they left, they saw that they were indeed selling at the right prices… but with the ledger behind the counter, and if they can read, that should be easy…

     “Thanks, Will, that makes sense, I’m going to go. I’ll try and work something out with all of them.” Jamie, not waiting for a response, picked up the small kobold and started jogging back down the gravel path.

     Will watched them go, before a thought popped into their head, “Wait, all of them?”

     Dismissing the thought, for now, Will let out a long sigh of contentment, speaking to themself, “That dragon better tell me what’s going on later, or I’ll send Hero out in his new… I better get back to that.”

     Will split off some focus to take care of the goblin body and keep on the lookout before returning the majority of it to the newly created split room, and the major issue. Hero was currently testing out his new body underground, however, each of his punches caused a small tremor to reverberate throughout the dungeon. A hard enough stomp would shake the greeting room so hard all the plates would fall off of their shelves and crash to the floor.

     Speaking into his mind, Will spoke, “Calm down, for now, I have some work to do.”

     Hero obediently did so, but instead of simply calming down, his soul orb plopped out of the construct. “Sure boss, what’s the problem?”

     Will sighed, creating a light over the impact craters that Hero’s new two metal fists had made by punching at the wall. “Hit a human, heck, hit a reborn with that and their head would be gone in one go. I mean yeah, I can mess with the system numbers, but a missing head is still a 1 hit kill. Sorry buddy, I gotta nerf you.”

     Hero looked down, or would if he had eyes, “Yes boss.”

     Will laughed, “Don’t worry, I’ll let you go wild as a boss some time, Right now I still need my main mini-boss, which means you can’t be unbeatable in the second room.”

     Will looked at the construct, really looked at it, and then some more. They just couldn’t bring themself to weaken such a well-made creation, instead, they looked to the room around it. The fork in the road led to this small circular room with Hero’s new body. So, Will began warding the room.

     Inertia dampeners, gravity weakeners, both mid-tier runes. The first would make it so the force of an attack is reduced, meaning that the blows from both the construct and the diver would be less powerful. Reduced gravity to make it so that the construct had less powerful punches as well, both of these runes together should weaken the construct by a factor of ten.

     Upon further testing when Will spawned Hero’s old body in the room, Will saw something amazing. The inertia dampeners would actually make it so physical recovery from making a blow was much faster. Reduced gravity increased the speed of the flesh and blood body as well, allowing it to sprint freely and dodge around with ease.

     With a mental smile, Will added a third rune to the first two. The rune for inertia dampening was remarkably, the constellation of Scorpio, at least, the constellation from 125,000 years ago. The gravity reduction rune was a series of interconnecting spiraling lines, and together, Will thought they oddly looked like a scorpion playing with a ball of twine. The final rune however would be the illusion rune. A large matter, the rune was ovoid, like a massive eye, inside of an eye, inside of an eye, seemingly infinitely but in reality, it was a total of ninety-seven times. The two runes of the scorpion and the ball of twine became the center of the final eye as the full illusion rune took up the entire roof of the circular, thirty-foot radius battle arena.

     Will took over the constructed body, while Hero inhabited his old, “Okay Hero, come at me like a real battle. This thing was so powerful before that even with a novice like me behind it, I should still beat you.”

     “You sure about that boss? Take off these…” He took a moment to breathe, “Almost got me there, come on, let’s test out your changes.”

     Will fired off both the shoulder cannons at Hero who almost disappeared with the speed he took to dodge to the left. Hero began laughing as he ran toward and then up the wall, “Wow, this is great! Everything feels responsive and… just wow!”

     Running along the side of the circular wall Hero quickly got behind the construct as Will brought up their arm to block the longsword strike. Will felt the blow bounce off of the construct harmlessly, but both of the combatants saw a gash in the construct’s metal arm.

     Returning the blow, Will slammed their right fist into Hero’s face, knocking him two feet to the left and back. Hero looked up, readjusting his broken and bleeding nose, grabbing his sword with both hands he slowly circled the construct.

     Will fired another volley from the electric cannons, Hero slashed through them however, the sword absorbing most of the energy before it travels down his sword and into his hand. The spasming appendage dropped the weapon, but Hero had let go of his two guard stance just in time, grabbing the hilt as it fell with his left hand he held the sword in a reverse grip, slashing at the construct’s head.

     Like that it was over, as far as the two perceived. Hero had cut through half of the construct’s neck. Although the reality of the matter was much different, as far as the system Will had created knew, the fight was over.

     Will floated their mana from out of the construct, their axolotl face smiling, “I think I’ll call that a success. I doubt many of the fighters will have that level of skill at first so, go easy on the newbies, alright?

     Hero’s circular spirit orb floated out of the flesh body, “Sure, I think we’re getting ready for the day to really start, So I gotta get back to room two, I can’t wait to see what you come up with next, boss.”

     With that, Hero floated away, back to room two while Will thought, “Hm, Boss… I like the idea of that. Hey Galatea, want a week off?”

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A note from Blackguard

This one was a bit... odd. I mean, I'd planned it out for weeks, but actually going through the ethical dilemma of magic servants... It never really felt right how games and stories would treat magically summoned beasts as mindless "Yes summoner" kinda things.

I need Ideas for Kobold Names, please include them in the comments, heck, please just comment if you like the story or the chapter and give me your thoughts. Genuinely everyone's feedback really helps me keep active in writing the story.

Best Wishes,
Blackguard


About the author

Blackguard

Bio: Amateur writer and ravenous reader. I do my best to keep consistent if not generous updates, comments are welcome and encouraged. Nonbinary Zebra.

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