A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

Hello everybody! Have a glorious day of might! And so we head into the final stretch of book 1. 

I'm already preparing my over-emotional gushing note, hahaha.

Wow what a journey this has been.

Let's go.

If there was anything that would never cease to surprise Alex about people, it was how quickly many bounced back from just about anything.

In the days following the attack on the patrizia’s estate, Giuseppe had seen to the few wounded who’d stayed on at the manor, put them back on their feet, then escorted them to their homes. Then he’d begun a single-minded hunt for any Barrens-monsters that had attacked his home and guests but had escaped. He and a group eager to avenge themselves and restore their aristocratic honour—scoured the countryside for gorgers, muupkaras, bonedrinkers, and any of the spike-toothed monsters Alex Roth, his golem, and the cerberus had slain.

The dryads also engaged in a punishing campaign to root out and destroy any monsters that had fled into their forest. From what Alex had heard, they’d completed that task very well.

The patrizia’s force had tracked the horde’s footprints back to the wall, and discovered a tunnel extending deep beneath it and into The Barrens. Quite the stir had arisen from that. In the past, on the rare occasion, the odd monster had slipped over the wall from The Barrens. But, it was very rare for a pack to do so, and even rarer for them to create mass havoc. But it was completely unheard of for different types of monsters to join together in a horde, escape The Barrens of Kravernus, and launch a coordinated attack on an estate.

Discovering the tunnel and understanding that the monsters had dug it was a shock to Giuseppe and his neighbours. He informed the city’s officials, who launched an investigation into the attack then brought in earth wizards to fill the tunnel. Investigators and researchers from the university combed the countryside, searching for the unidentified creatures that had united the monstrous horde. Yet, no matter how far they searched into The Barrens, and no matter how much of their bestiaries, monsternomicons, and natural field guides they combed, they could find no trace of anything that could identify the creatures.

So, the officials focused on the information that they had.

The city noted the creatures’ innate intelligence and cunning, and commissioned an expansion of the wall’s guard. Groups of rangers were to patrol the areas beyond the wall. Wizards specializing in earth magic were recruited to regularly sense out the ground beneath the walls in case the monsters began tunnelling beneath them in secret again.

Once all was said and done, people—even those that had attended the patrizia’s ill-fated party—put the events of that evening behind them. To Alex’s amazement, the patrizia had already begun to plan another celebration to be held at summer’s end.

“Most have returned to life as normal,” Isolde had said over lunch one day. “It is not the first time that Generasi’s people have endured violence at the hands and claws of monster-kind. How many times has a creature escaped the confines of a wizard’s laboratory? How many monsters have escaped The Barrens over time, or how many times have monsters in the countryside attacked folk there? If these events broke the people of Generasi, then they would have left long ago.”

“That…makes a lot of sense, I guess,” Alex had said.

He had moved on too, in some ways.

Life always continued on. If people didn’t move with it, they’d simply be left behind.

In the weeks following the monster attack, Alex and his friends had finished midterms and continued with classes as normal. The paper that Khalik had helped Thundar with had earned the minotaur a mark he’d jumped for joy over. Alex had done well on his exams, and had even managed to raise his grade in force magic a bit. Isolde continued crushing every class.

Time had flown by at the speed of lightning.

Even Selina had recovered quickly after the attack.

“I don’t like bad monsters,” she had said. “They always come and ruin everything. I just want them to go away.”

She was looking forward to starting her lessons in wizardry in the next school year. His sister had definitely gotten tougher, he realized, in the same way that a lot of people in Generasi seemed to be resilient. He supposed the folks of Generasi and Thameland had that in common: both lands had monsters, and their peoples were not about to let their lives be constantly ruled by fear.

Still, he’d continued to wonder about the creatures.

His own investigation had turned up some new information, but few answers.

“I would remain at ease,” Baelin said. “A Proper Wizard must be prepared to be made the target of monsters and enemies. On the battlefield, warriors wield steel for armour and weapons, and power themselves with their own strength and experience. But a wizard wields the elements as their weapons. They armour themselves in the cosmos, and power themselves with mana, which many consider the lifeblood of creation.”

He chuckled. “Do not take it so personally, Alex: any intelligent combatant knows that a wizard on the battlefield must be removed almost before any other. It is just strategy.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Alex said. “But it said it wanted to hunt me down after. Me.”

Baelin raised an eyebrow. “And had you not just finished killing its companions?”

“…yeah, okay,” Alex said. Though he still couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more…personal in the way the monsters had targeted him. Had he really only imagined that?

“I have checked every single bestiary from Thameland that lies in our library,” Baelin continued. “There is no mention of such a creature. Now, some of our volumes are quite old— and your kingdom is somewhat insular with lore about this Ravener and its armies—but I do believe that most of what your ancient enemy is capable of has been catalogued throughout its many cycles.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Alex agreed, turning his attention back to the mana spectrometer.

They were in Baelin’s lab for the afternoon, as the chancellor had graciously set aside time for dissection and analysis of the monsters’ remains. In the sunny laboratory, the sound of another analytic device came from close by.

Isolde stood tall and proud in her safety equipment, rapidly jotting down notes as she analyzed another part of the monsters’ remains. She, at last, had also become one of Baelin’s advisees and was excitedly taking part in their research. The young woman was eager to learn more about the monsters that had wreaked havoc on her family member’s home.

She watched as Alex ran some of the creature’s tough hide through a mana spectrometer. Elsewhere in the lab, an entire shelf was filled with sealed jars containing parts of the creatures.

Isolde was performing analysis on the monster’s poison. She shook her head. “I still cannot believe the speed and ease at which this equipment performs.”

“I only seek the best.” Baelin stood a little taller.. “Which is why—permit the flattery—I have taken you on as an advisee, Isolde.”

“Er, thank you Baelin,” she said.

The chancellor chuckled quietly.

Alex grunted as the mana spectrometer finished, then he wrote down the results. The read-out revealed…not much.

“It looks like there’s a few compounds that might be useful in transformation magic.” His pen quickly scrawled across the page. “Potions that could harden flesh and toughen skin: things like that.”

He sighed, glancing at the shelf with the monsters’ remains. It was everything they’d analyzed so far: the monster was alchemically useful, but not revolutionary. The remains exhibited similar properties to substances already well known and widely used in the study of alchemy. Of all the parts they’d analyzed, the most interesting bits were the monsters’ malleable voice boxes, and a bell-shaped organ that they weren’t quite sure about. It seemed like it sent out some sort of ‘sound’ in all directions that sensed mana and perhaps other things, but they couldn’t be sure without a live specimen. Unfortunately, or fortunately—depending on how Alex was feeling on a given day—they didn’t have one.

Even those unique parts of the monster had equivalents already well known in alchemical guides. Alex glanced over at Claygon. There weren’t any revolutionary ‘dawn of new wizardry’ discoveries hidden within them.

“I was hoping there’d be something more to these things,” he sighed. “It’s kind of a letdown after the dungeon core’s remains.” He looked at Isolde. “Anything neat on your end?”

“It’s the same answer as the last ten times you asked, Alex: not particularly,” she said. “The poison is deadly, sure, and contains properties that might make it a good base for an antitoxin, an anticoagulant and well…a poison, but there is not much else to it.”

“Ah.” He glanced over at the jar of poison with some annoyance. When he’d tried even touching the stuff, The Mark had gone absolutely berserk as he’d feared it would. It looked like poison was pretty much always considered to be harmful.

Still, that revealed new information about The Mark: wine, liquor and other spirits could cause harm when someone drank them to excess, but he was able to drink, and handle them just fine. One of the keys definitely seemed to be that he couldn’t use things intended as weapons, or intended to harm others.

Even high-proof alcohol—which could easily poison someone—didn’t set The Mark off as long as he was using it for cleaning purposes. Perhaps he could see where that line of thought would take him for brewing potions in the future.

It was a tricky line between The Mark being set off by any attempt at direct harm, and simply being quiet when indirect or accidental harm was done by the bearer of The Fool. Alex glumly wondered if the other Heroes had to deal with such issues. Or any issues.

“Something the matter?” Baelin asked. “You look as though you have been dining on nothing but lemons for a week.”

“That bad?” Alex said. He sighed. “I had thought…you know…we’d find out something useful from these monsters’ remains.”

Baelin raised an eyebrow. “Have we not? Plenty of its remains are alchemically useful. They can be sold or provide you with a bank of ingredients. I would call that ‘something useful’.”

“Yeah but-” Alex gestured to Claygon. “-look at the dungeon core and what it could do.”

“Why yes, it was most impressive. Your stories of how it performed in live combat were fascinating and its performance during the field test was incredibly promising.”

“But…” Alex roughly indicated the jars of the monsters’ remains. “This stuff doesn’t even come close.”

Baelin looked at him curiously for a moment and then realization came over his face. “Ah. I see. I should have anticipated this. Alex, do you know the results of most experiments that occur in alchemy? Isolde, would you know?”

“Failure,” Isolde said as she dropped the poison onto a portion of Kamookak’s Moss. “Most experiments on unknown substances reveal no alchemical value or value to wizardry in general. Of every discovery of a new monster, beast or plant, approximately one in every twenty generates a new body of knowledge, or new material that advances alchemy. Most either have no use or have uses that are redundant with substances already discovered.”

“Really?” Alex said, surprised.

“Oh yes,” Baelin nodded toward Isolde. “Very good, Isolde, I can see that you have experience with others that have researched the arts of wizardry.”

“Like…one in twenty?” Alex blinked. “That’s all?”

“Actually, that is a generous estimation. I would get used to that disappointment if I were you Alex,” Baelin warned with a somewhat amused note in his voice. “Wizardry—like me—is a very old art. Much about the world has been discovered. In its early days, one discovered something new about magic or alchemy just about every time the sun rose. But now, much has been catalogued and much has been understood. Usually, one only gains a wave of new discoveries when alchemy has advanced enough to produce more sensitive analytical equipment. Even then, re-examining old substances may generate new knowledge, or it may simply confirm what we already know. A Proper Wizard understands that the path to true…well, understanding, is not a sprint or a brisk walk in the countryside. It is a marathon that is forever run: what is not revealed today might be revealed tomorrow. Or it might be revealed in a thousand years.”

His eyes twinkled. “Pace yourself: you were extremely fortunate with your dungeon core discovery. Do not mistake that for routine or you shall never be happy again.”

“Right, got it. Be realistic,” Alex said.

He had enough to be thankful for anyway.

While things had returned to normal after the attack, there was one thing that was markedly different.

“Hm? Did you discover something about the substance after all?” Baelin asked.


“You suddenly seemed to be absolutely radiating satisfaction.”

“Oh, er, no it was just-Uh, nothing, I got distracted for a moment,” he said quickly, glad that he was wearing his safety mask which hid both his blush, and the stupid grin that had been on his face.

Alex had seen new couples that seemed to be perpetually in a world of flowers and butterflies: all smiles all the time and a dreamy look in their eyes.

He was almost ashamed to say that he and Theresa were no exception. The very thought that they were, well, together was enough to send a surge of joy shooting through his core, which would inevitably send his face into a dreamy smile. He wasn’t the only one: he’d caught Theresa with the exact same smile on her face a bunch of times.

Again, he marvelled at how people bounced back from things.

The two of them had gotten together when it looked like they might be about to die. It hadn’t been the deep, romantic confession that he’d hoped to make, or even the clumsily stuttered confession he feared he’d end up making, but they’d opened up their feelings to each other, then immediately started fighting for their lives against a horde of monsters. But instead of that worsening the memory—or at least his memory of how they’d gotten together—if anything, it had made the memory even more special.

‘You know what?’ Alex thought. ‘I dunno why I’m so surprised. I’ve been bouncing back from shit my whole life.’

His parents’ deaths.

Receiving The Mark.

Being attacked by monsters.

Every time something terrible happened, he just tried to move on or squeeze some good out of it. A lot of people did just that.

He looked over at the monster’s remains, trying to quiet the feeling the creatures had specifically come for him.

It was the only thing he was worried about lately.

Baelin followed his gaze. “Not to worry, Alex. The librarians are still searching through bestiaries and books containing monster sightings from around the world, at the city’s request. If there is even an obscure mention of such a creature that I either do not recall or have not read about, then it shall come up soon enough.”

He glanced at the time keeping device on the wall. “Ah, speaking of books, we should finish up. Final exams are only a few weeks away and I do not wish to cut into your study time.”

Alex froze for a moment.

Alright, maybe he had a few things to worry about.

He shook his head.

The end of his first year at Generasi was looming ahead.

A note from UnstoppableJuggernaut

And so we're winding down first year of Generasi. And what a year it has been!

Alrighty, just a few more chapters to go until the end of book 1. :) See you Tuesday!

Big thanks to all my readers—I appreciate each and every one of you—and a very special thanks to my patrons on my Patreon

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