Dreamweaver Chapter 199
I began to stir from my sleep. Things have been changed again. I’m not real sure where I am. But carefully I can feel that I’m whole and not injured. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and stretched out getting on my feet.
But my peaceful wake up was interrupted.
“Prisoner 22901-B come forward,” I heard a voice over the intercom.
This is not where I was before.
It’s not my fake house. It’s not fake Japan. And those two idiot spell shape shifter creatures are gone, no longer acting like fake dad and fake mom.
My area is barren but a clean cell…it’s not even a cell actually. It’s like a huge strange crafted and polished pit that’s lowered into the ground with slick polished almost perfect seamless and smooth marble crystal type of material for the walls and floor, which is too slick for me to climb up. It vaguely reminded me a bit of the movie where I was seeing the inside of Superman’s base up at the north pole except it’s not cold here and smaller.
Heck, everything here is made out of that stuff actually. I can’t see far and there’s obstacles but I’m guessing there are tons of cells and corridors all around me, though mine is specifically isolated on purpose I think. Hell the crystal building material is so smooth and thick with some kind of special mana refinement that I doubt even Mallory with her vampire claws could climb up to where it feels like open sky above the pit, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like I’m outside though I’m seeing sky above me.
Is that an illusion too?
Marble shouldn’t grow in crystal forms either around various places on the walls outside my pit that I can see. Crystal grown marble?
“Do I have to repeat myself?! Prisoner 22901-B come forward and follow the waypoints leading out of your cell!” the strange squeaky voice said again even though no one is next to me.
My…what looks like a copper wrist band on my wrist that wasn’t here before I was taken to this place lights up. While made of a cheap material it looks made so smoothly that there’s no imperfections whatsoever in the metal, almost as if it were made by computer guided machinery from our world. It also looks like it’s made out of a strange crystal embedded on the front side and the copper alloy all melted together on the rest. It’s blinking and I feel it giving my mind a pulse telling me to go to the east wall.
Waypoints; a tracking and guiding mechanism perhaps probably from magic? I guess that means me huh? When did I get a wrist band you are probably wondering?
At least it’s not a slave collar right? If it’d been a slave collar I would have killed myself trying to get lose or gone on a rampage to break free, or fought till I had no arms and legs. I won’t accept slavery. There’s no way I’ll accept being a slave, I told myself a second time.
But I’ve got to ditch that cooper band thingy fast. There’s nothing I can do except go forward and see what these people want, I admitted right after.
As I get up the smooth marble of my homely pit grows stairs out of the wall right before my eyes, made of the same material as the walls and everything else. Carefully I moved up them but they seem stable and normal stairs, though they shrank back into the wall after I was up. Everything feels and seems stable, well built, though the stairs were very narrow and almost like ladder like protrusions.
There’s no way of going anywhere except forward. And as I move forward small force fields cut off other hallways so that I can only go ahead the way they want me too. The force fields also won’t let me go back so I have to keep going wherever it is they are taking me.
As I look around this whole place looks like some huge fortress that has no end. There are tall towers and fierce looking walls that seem to imply there’s a reason this place is so heavily fortified everywhere and in every direction. I’d never seen a fortification this big! I can see buildings of all kinds, towers of which most of them look like military structures and even something that look like some kind of ballistae shooters made from the same crystal marble materials as everything else. Each part of the city is made up of different quadrants and streets like a normal city except this one looks vastly cleaner, but not necessarily technological in nature.
It feels like a magic built city and everything here has a smell of mana around it faintly in some areas, and not so faint in others.
Hmm, that’s interesting.
There are metal armored golems all around all over the place. Yet they don’t act to interfere with me or even approach me but just stay at even intervals throughout the fortress prison or fortress city, whatever it is. They remain at attention, but I can vaguely feel that their enchantment is active and running like an engine inside of it.
“Don’t even think about trying to escape prisoner 22901-B,” the voice said.
Waypoints lit up ahead of me.
That wouldn’t be smart. But I’m tired of being pushed around. Someone is going to get it.
I already know this is some kind of fae prison and it’s been a very short time already living here, under their mind control game. And I’ve been breaking through it so many times that they couldn’t hold me in that previous version anymore.
My body still itches where that fae bitch kept hitting me with the mind zap before they put me in here.
What I’ve learned is that my pit is one of hundreds or thousands around it just like I was living in some hexagonal shaped marble beehive shaped fortress on a field or plaza area between other city sections, though I don’t think everyone lives in the pits but probably it’s a newcomer processing area set up to temporarily make sure people aren’t a threat to others. I don’t see the guards most the time but I still feel guarded and watched at the moment.
I don’t even know what race they are yet, because this place is so well run.
Only prisoners see each other. But I don’t’ even know yet what kinds of creatures run this place, though It’s probably those fae like the ones that tried to trick me in that dream or illusion state.
Yet after that I went through another gate and this section of the city is suddenly different. Now there are no more prisoners but it looks like everyone is walking around free with merchants and people all over. They even look happy.
What a strange change.
Actually as things open up and I see the other parts of the city this looks as prosperous as any place I’ve ever seen in this world so far or better. Even the dwarven city would be put to shame compared to this.. Small temporary cart shops also are on the streets, with all kinds of people of different races here doing vending to make a living. This one is selling apples, and the next guy is selling beef jerky, while the guy after him is selling mules. It’s hard to tell what people are in charge because as I walk around following the waypoints I can see that there’s already a few dozen types of people and sub-races so far.
Thankfully there aren’t many dwarves, I noticed as I’m led along.
And whoever the hidden guards are they watch us somehow using magic eyes or divination of some kind. I can sometimes feel their probing magic because of my sharp skills and higher stats, and I know they are powerful, though I haven’t seen the ones posing as my mom and dad again; still the probing sense feels vague yet not invasive or hurtful, which I’m thankful for.
“Follow the lighting waypoints and illumination enchant guiding your path Prisoner 22901-B,” a voice said that I realized was coming out of the prisoner’s bracelet that they’d put on me. I couldn’t even tell if it was a real audible voice, or a telepathic projection actually.
I can’t tell but the architecture looks both techie and medieval at the same time. There isn’t any sign of machines or ships however.
I continued to be led over many paths that seemed to be taking me somewhere that was taking a long time to get too. It seems people are living peacefully enough and doing business just like normal so I doubt everyone here is a prisoner, or they aren’t conscious of it. Some of them are seen smiling but others serious. Still, there’s something strange about this place that I can’t place yet.
At least this one wasn’t as bad as the dwarven version or a prison. I think this type of bracelet is less effective than the dwarven version too but I don’t know why they would do that. And I also don’t want them to know that I can still cast magic. But I’m not sure what they know about me.
Could they have scan magic? What I felt before might have been it, but I couldn’t be sure. It felt different than how humans do it. That leaves questions too if magic will be a different system in races of creatures that are so different from humans.
Are they going to interrogate me or execute me? What’s going on here?
I look for signs of what’s going on not only in the strange crystal marble fortress but also on the faces of other prisoners around me but none of them will look me in the eye. There’s no conclusive way to tell anything from them because there are many types of facial expressions and so on.
Last night I’d felt the activation energy rise across the threshold needed to cast a spell but I’d failed it on purpose knowing they were watching me. And I purposely avoided going to the dream state for fear that the monitoring they are conducting could discover the others and capture them too.
I follow the steps slowly as I pass other pits around me but most of them are so deep that I can’t really look over the edge and see what’s in them because they aren’t exactly next to the path either. And I think if I go off the path there will be some kind of punishment game.
After several minutes I find myself in an interrogation room after going in one of the smaller towers that linked to a huge fortress structure that reached to the sky. Strange though, not only is it an interrogation room, but it looks like this room was modeled after a particular style of maybe an Earth business meeting room or a cop meeting room, one of the two.
Yet no one is here to beat me or even verbally threaten me. I sit in silence for a long while. I waited for so long that I’d ended up falling to sleep on the wooden desk alone. I continued to rest undisturbed for a time. At least the room temperature was nice.
“Good morning!” a harsh voice penetrates the silence waking me from my quick nap.
I look up.
A vicious looking half-ogre stands there. He’s dressed like a human though in human looking clothes from this planet which are surprisingly stylish and well made except they don’t look right on a half-ogre, rather than an ogre wearing work clothes that look strangely dwarven. Still he has a sharp toothed grin, fierce looking almost violent eyes with a villain sneer over his goatee beard. He has more facial and nose piercings than anyone I’ve ever seen in my life.
He’s smiling? What is this? And he’s a half-ogre? What?!
The civilians outside had no half-ogres and were mostly humans. So this guy is maybe an oddity rather than the norm here. I almost had a reaction to defend myself, since I’m used to fighting ogres but this guy made no sudden moves or other moves to attack.
How in the world…I try to keep my cool and stay quick witted and mask my expressions. I want to be the one in control psychologically. If I learn more about him than he learns about me then I can consider that a win.
I couldn’t talk I’m too shocked.
“Hi, my name’s Lars,” he offered his hand out to shake mine. He looks like he’s forcing what looks like a genuine smile. He ignored my defensive reaction and is trying to be friendly. I’m not used to this. Something strange is at work here. How could a half-ogre be a decent person?
It took me some time but after a minute I shook it. Besides he wasn’t going to let me not shake his hand. He was planning on waiting till the end of time. His grip is strong and as I released his hand I could tell he’s a major player here.
“I’m your cell block captain by the way. And also the cell block captain for a few others,” he flashed a Cheshire grin.
“So this is a prison?” I said.
“Not so much. You’ll get it in the end. Let me explain first. You won’t really be a prisoner after today,” he smiled again showing some wicked tusk canine lower teeth.
“Cell block? Like as in a prison huH? So I didn’t imagine it. But your words and what I’ve seen are confusing when I compare them,” I sighed.
He chuckled. “Well it isn’t unusual for you to wonder which way is up after coming out of their observation phase. They messed with your mind pretty good in there. That’s all it was meant to do. They were going to observe you a bit and then let you go.”
“So do they do that to everyone or just me?” I asked.
“Meh, who knows? They recruit whoever they think they can use after observing them for awhile. That’s why you thought you were home, wherever home is. They were trying to figure out if you could live peaceful or how you’d react, and make sure you weren’t a threat. But you saw through it too fast. That impressed them. Nobody has ever seen through it that fast,” he smiled.
“Thanks…I think,” I said.
“Anyway over time they bring people in here after they are satisfied they won’t be a danger to them. Then they keep building it up. And that’s how it works! It’s grown to be a lot of people since this fortress is full of people, both soldiers and civilians. You didn’t see that on the way in but there are shops and stores here just like any other city. They spread people out and help them get settled and have a life here too. Some are used and recruited for economics, some for building, some for mining, and whatever they can for military purposes gets a good chunk too. Some of them are captured, some rescued from dangerous places, some bargain to come here in exchange for escaping slavery, or war prisoners, slavery, and so on. They take in people from many areas and sources; most of which were imperiled before they intervened so its not such a bad thing to save them and ask for mutual cooperation right? I was saved from being killed too you see right before they pulled me in here.”
“I still don’t like that I wasn’t aware of what was going on,” I fumed.
“Well you have a right to be feeling that way. But they are good people. They intend to pay you for your time, including the time lost in processing,” he smiled.
“Hmm, we’ll see,” I countered with a sneer.
“But before you think they are nice there are drawbacks too. They are sneaky SOBs too with a lot of psychological bullshit that they do, but they aren’t cruel except in times of trying to keep the enemy out of their realm. So if you don’t cause trouble you can have a good life here, and you will earn more than if you’d worked in other places, even comparing it to dwarven towns its more pay! Thus, we’re brought here to help defend this place. But they also don’t like force recruiting us, which I’ll get into later. For now just be glad that the light fae are in charge and not the dark fae. Things would be different then. If that were the case we’d be in way worse shape since they condone mutations and experimenting on people among other things,” he added with a concerned and scared look.
“Wait, what does that mean? You still haven’t explained their purpose,” I said.
“It means you’ve been recruited Shun. They want you to fight for them like me and some of the others to keep the demon hordes back from taking over this world called Gaia. And this fortress is one of the only places in this world with sufficient defense and infrastructure to achieve that. Isn’t that nice?” he said with a friendly tone.
What…what do I say to that?
I’m still processing this.
“Wait, you said light fae? Is that good?” I said.
“I don’t know. It’s at the least politically good and somewhere between politically good and genuinely helping all people good with some fluctuation in between. It took a long time for me to even get that figured out. So I’ve saved you some time because I think if we’re honest everyone gets what they want. You have no idea how much time was spent just figuring out they were fae. Even now I haven’t seen any of them and neither has anyone else that I know. The important thing to consider is that they are fair. If you work for them they share their wealth and prosperity,” he said.
I’m not sure if I should cooperate with this guy or not. I stay silent for now.
So there’s more than one faction huh? And dark fae sound scary.
“So it was mind control they used on me right? I’m remembering things now. I think they kept resetting my mind or something. But why didn’t they just use forget spells instead?” I asked him.
“That’s regrettable. They actually are really small creatures so they are afraid of us. So sometimes they go overboard with their paranoia in screening people,” he shrugged.
“May I continue?” he asked.
“They seem to not care about it as much now that so many people know, but they are ridiculously smart and organized. They are also quite powerful. It wasn’t mind control fully but similar to it. Mostly they put you in a simulated dimension pocket resembling your home to observe you, except you kept breaking out of it as I said before. There was never going to be any harm done. That confused the hell out of them actually how you did that,” he grunted and folded his arms as he sat across from me similar to how a cop might sit across someone he’s trying to get confess. “They want us to have strong minds and stuff. So I guess that was part of stopping the forget spells after they found out those can cause alzheimers after awhile, whatever that is.”
“To fight? To fight what exactly? I know you mentioned demons but what are they really? I’m not sure what a demon really is? There’s got to be more to it and this sounds bad.”
“Yeah pretty much; it is bad but you have a chance to live and a chance to make a living too here. You didn’t think they’d let us stay in here for free did you? Everybody contributes here,” he cackled.
“That’s nice I guess,” I said but didn’t really know how else to respond.
“No it’s not nice at all. They do that so we can fight. And hit the enemy hard while there’s a chance. They fight against the demons trying to genocide and take over this world. They used to be people once too but perverted their genetic code for war and then couldn’t make the changes go back. Who knows what they originally looked like,” he shot back with that sneer of his again. As he said the last part he smacked his fist into his palm loud and hard with a loud smack.
“So the demons doing genocide is that true?”
“I’ve seen it unfortunately. It’s not pretty and there are also losses here. A lot of them in fact. So we have to always be replenishing our forces and recruiting the strong even when it looks like we’re near full,” he frowned.
“So they work the prisoners? Like what mining or chipping rocks? Do I get a choice? I don’t want to do any arena fighting or whatever it is. And I want control over my life and not to be someone’s servant. I want to be free,” I asked.
He laughed again. “You’d be lucky if it were only that kid. No…see this is the fae prison town. And like I said people do whatever they want just like they are free but it’s like this is a permanent military post to defend. Its current job and purpose is the acting to guard the entrance to the inner fae realm. So for all intents and purposes you will be free but you will guard this place while you get stronger at an accelerated right, and get rich. So it’s not a bad deal. And I mean guard as in guard against enemy invasions too, so this is some serious shit as this is basically their front door. It seems they’ve recruited you to be a door guard kekeke. So how do you like that? Have you ever wondered what being a castle guard would be like? Well here it is, like it or not. But even if it’s a prison and you can’t leave its actually a better life than if you were on the outside. You really can get rich here and our standard of living is better. Also I get lots of women here,” he laughed again. He seems to like to laugh, except it’s not a kind laugh but something of harshness and spitting in the devil’s eye at the same time.
“But it looks like a town even if you can’t leave?” I wondered.
“Prison,..fortress…who knows? But yeah like that. I think its really just a fortress with paranoid bosses personally. Maybe it’s all in my head. You can’t leave really but you can have a good life,” he kept saying.
I didn’t like the sounds of this.
“Well it’s more like a city that they don’t let you out of. But the city has everything you can hope for or want. You’ll never go hungry and you can even advance your martial and magic skills easily here and faster than you could anywhere in the world. We can even build stuff, explore, and be happy. We just can’t leave the fortress,” he noted.
“Oh that’s not the half of it. You see as your cell block captain it’s my job to try to get you up to speed so you can fight,” he cackled again.
“But I don’t want to…” I started to say.
“Fool! You think they’ll let you choose! You will fight or you will fall. That’s the seriousness of the demon expansion here. And don’t piss them off. If they wanted they could summon you in front of the enemy army. I’ve seen them do that too,” he snarled.
So someone else besides me in this world can do summon spells. That caught my interest!
“So you’re the cell block captain? How many are in a cell block?” I asked.
“Oh you’ll find out soon enough. But if you can be trusted you won’t have to sleep in the crystal pits anymore. They’ll have you stay at a rich room at the inn that looks like a king’s room. I can give you access to housing and an allowance if you’ll cooperate. You can make so much gold here bro! Don’t you worry about that, and also I’d just forget about escaping. It’s better instead of you just cooperate,” he gave me a wicked smile.
This guy is really chatty and keeps talking in circles. But I think he’s doing it on purpose to kind of build from point A to point B and help me connect the dots.
“Kekeke, you were going to say you won’t fight. They all say that. I’ll show you the bones pit on the way out. It’s where all the dead go that won’t fight. You’ll want to fight, then I can assure you. You’ll be surprised how many bones there are too. And before you think about it, nobody gets away from this place so don’t even try,” he said.
“So …if we’re door guards and stuff that are used as soldiers what are they making us fight?” I asked.
“Didn’t I just tell you? Demons obviously…” he snorted.
“But what is a demon? Isn’t that like saying ‘humanoid’? How many demon species are there? And whats on the other side of the gates of the fortress,” I asked.
“Boy aren’t you the curious one. You’ll love this part. Let me spell it out for you; D E M O N E S. DEMONS of course. As for their species and how many there are I’m the wrong person to ask. Sorry I can’t give you a better answer but someone else will. I’ll special like have it set up for you to be explained all that stuff. Did you know the fae are going to be the next species that becomes extinct on this world? That’s why they have this careful and crafty forced recruiting method you know?” he asked me carefully.
“EH? So that’s true about the extinction of the elves huh?” I said.
“Unfortunately yes; I wasn’t around then to see it but they have data saved footage of it on special data crystals that’s stored here. They have tons of that information stored and you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff we’ve been able to view and study of that war. You won’t understand what that means right now but it’s basically like visual recordings of the battles and some of it is pretty wild stuff. The light elves were tough as shit and still lost to them too. So that’s what kind of trouble we’re in. And that’s why they are so paranoid too. So you better get your shit together. But when the demons get to a point where both the elves and the fae are extinct, then if the dwarves fall this world will become theirs. No other groups can stand up to them, not even the beastkin. Anyway even when you do have strong beastkin they are too loosely organized and too tribal to stand up to them. That’s why even as a half ogre I fight for humanity,” Lars said, still not looking entirely sane as he said it.
I noticed he didn’t tell me the answer when I’d asked him what’s on the other side of the fortress and its gates…you know the inward inside side.
“Well…if they let us fight, how do they not worry we’ll try to break out?” I said in a confused tone.
Lars just cackled. “Heh, I predicted you’d say that. Everybody asks that. Here’s the thing kid. Everybody tries to leave at least once and they won’t make you stay by the way. But this place is surrounded by three other demon cities that are doing a blockade. So if you leave you’ll die quite fast.”
“Hmm that’s not fun,” I said.
“Of course. They are smart. But they are desperate even though they are trying to share their prosperity with us. You see, all around us we’re surrounded by a demon siege and those are the only ways out. So the front door leads to the demon camp with two other demon camps also near it. And only fae have access to teleportation magic anyway. They’ve been sieging this door to the fae realm for over a hundred years. There’s a skirmish here every week. So yes you can leave, but if you try to go out the front door you’ll get shot down by the enemy before you even get a hundred feet from the door,” Lars said.
Every week…crap. That means I need to train huh?
And can anyone get teleportation magic?
My understanding was that it’s pretty hard to branch out into other magic specialties. Mine was protection magic it seems. It might take everything I had to even attempt to gain another specialty, and this was why I didn’t have tons of nuke spells dripping off my hands all the time.
“Great…so they recruited us to fight in some war?” I folded my arms in defiance.
The problem is that Lars seems a bit too open and honest as if he knows exactly how this goes every time. He isn’t even trying to care about winning me over.
Suddenly he tosses me a key.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Hurry and use it. It’s the key to your copper band. If you use that, you can take that thing off and use your powers again. You better hurry before any raids happen today, and it could happen. The other side is already forming up ranks and doing their intimidation thing again to try to get some of us too scared to fight. In about a half hour you’ll hear drums so loud it will make you crazy just wishing you were deaf too. I think there’s going to be a skirmish tonight with the enemy. Boy when you see what some of these demons look like, you’ll shit your pants,” he said as he led me out of the interrogation room.
Instead I find myself in a locker room with a whole bunch of other people dressed as medieval soldiers all normal humans it seems; some of them give me a once look over. There are all kinds of people in here of all races it seems, so Lars being a half-ogre doesn’t’ seem so bad. Some of them look callous, but a lot of them look like they’ve been here forever and then some. Some are old while others are young-ish but none of them as young as me.
No one bothers to say anything or greet me.
“Friendly place,” I said sarcastically.
“Oh don’t worry; they’ll get to know you after you live through your first sortie. That’s the way it works around here. To them if you aren’t blooded then you aren’t trustworthy heh,” Lars scoffed.
The locker room itself doesn’t smell bad and is actually well made. These aren’t small lockers either but something you might see in a pro ball player’s locker room with huge personalized and custom lockers each full of weapons and equipment.
And like Lars a lot of the people in here are really scarred up. He’s the only half-ogre though. A good chunk are humans, but there are beastmen and everything else in there too.
So…this is weird.
I’m free but I’m not free.
And instead of fighting orcs it’s something much worse now.
Lars then has me approach another team member. “Hey I need you to take this guy to screening. They haven’t finished the job because someone rushed him out of screening too soon. Now I have to fix the paperwork and am taking flack for it.”
“What? But I’m busy,” the assistant said.
“Look, they rooted out that he’s hostile but they haven’t read his combat stats yet, something was blocking them from doing so and I don’t get it. I’d like you to step it up,” Lars said.
Well its good my cover isn’t blown still…
But if they read all of my stats that’s a problem too.
If they read my mind and if they find out I’m a demon prince candidate then what will happen? Fae could definitely do something like that. And why didn’t they discover it before when they tried to mind control me?
“Please, boss, I got stuff to do,” the other guy said.
“Do it or else…” he said.
“By the way Shun, I was told to give you this chit,” Lars handed me a special looking envelope that I had to sign for.
“What is it?” I wondered.
“I was told it’s a trade in chit you can use to get another pet. Someone said something like it’s compensation for them taking away a hostile pet from you, a vampire or something? It sounds like an interesting story. You can use it to get a new one,” Lars wasn’t sure what it meant but gave me the chit.
What did he say? I think I blanked out in shock. So it’s true that I don’t have Mallory right now? But fuck that. I want Mallory back. She was my own private little tornado of death.
I look at the rune chit thing. It looks like a rune crystal of some kind with some kind of special mark on it.
“Those are valuable as hell by the way. Don’t let anyone see that or they’ll kill you to steal it,” Lars said seriously before leaving.
So using this I can get a different creature in place of Mallory? It’s a good find but I don’t want to give up on Mallory. She was loyal and powerful.
Later I find myself in another interview room. This also resembles a sort of plush 1800s mansion table and desk setup. It’s got mirrors all around me and I can feel magic coming from most of them. As I sit and wait I hear a tap on the door and then a woman comes in wearing a long silver gown in some strange other worldly style that I don’t recognize from either world.
I think this is another interview. I’m curious how it will turn out.
It’s clear the girl in front of me is a fae, because they kind of resemble being too perfect humans similar to high humans. When wearing the human skin they make it unbelievable because they can’t resist using their magic to soup it up too much. There aren’t many people that can look this beautiful. It’s like their skin is made of perfectly formed plastic almost or machined to look too flawless. And nothing is out of place with her hair. If I tossed her ass in a washing machine, she’d probably still come back out without a hair out of place because of the weird glamour spell thing she’s wearing.
“So, just to clear things up, I’m here to finish screening you. Nice to meet you, you can call me Jetty,” she flashed a fake smile which disappeared the second I went to shake hands with her. She also refused to shake hands. She has on a white business skirt suit similar to what you might see in the latest style of modern Earth, that’s so white it’s almost brilliant and glowy. And her hair never seems to even have a strand out of place.
Jetty is an odd name but not a bad one I guess.
“That’s…so barbaric. I don’t understand why humans shake hands,” she sighed.
Ahh, seems like she has a lot of pride huh? Bitch…I can’t deal with her while I’m moping about missing Mallory. I’m afraid I’ll get violent.
“So I’m recruited to help you fight monsters?” I asked.
“I’ll be the one asking questions here. This is also a lie detector test. If you fail it, you can imagine what kinds of punishments will happen right?” she asked.
“But I’d already been screened before. Why go through this again?” I said tiredly.
“I don’t get that either. Someone rushed you to the front lines to help us and so you are technically way ahead of schedule from the mind conditioning phase, but don’t worry that was never harmful and we don’t brainwash you. That phase’s purpose is just to help you adjust, smoothen out any character flaws and so on. Someone thought you didn’t have many bad traits I guess but that must be a mistake since you are a human..but they skipped going through several necessary screening processes. So I’m here to find out why, and if you or they are hiding things. I’m basically a lie detector,” she gave me an aggressive look after going through something on what looks like a clipboard of paperwork about me. I can even see my name and picture on the top of the file in the open folder.
Wait, I don’t lie much in real life anyway, so maybe I can get through this?
I’m going to have to really stay on my toes with this person. A fae that can detect lies?
“So who helped you leave our screening process early?” she asked quickly.
“Huh? I don’t know. I don’t know anything about your people or process. I’ve not run into fae before now,” I said.
“Eh? Are you sure about that?” she gave me an eye of grit again and is leaning towards me in a bad way.
OH I just remembered…the fairy I’d rescued? Would that count? But are fae and fairies even the same species or just in the same genome tree? Does that count? I’m not sure if they are connected actually.
“Wait, you do have something don’t you?” Jetty leaned forward. Dang, she’s sharp.
This is dangerous…I better be careful.
Huh is she looking my mind?
“Wait there was this one time…but was she fae or something just related to fae, I’m not sure. And how do I know if her faction and yours qualify as the same?” I wasn’t sure where to begin. I’m hoping I can learn from Jetty too by cooperating in ways that won’t harm me. Maybe there will be clues about the fae?
“What is it?” she gently probed. Her eyes look sort of intense too.
“Um do fairies count as fae?” I asked.
“They might…but how do you know them?” she nodded to urge me on.
“Have you ever hunted fairies?” she looked a bit even more intense.
“No, why would I do that?!” I looked at her horrified.
She didn’t respond right away. But then she relaxed a bit. “OK, I believe you on that. Let’s move on,” she said ignoring my question.
“Tell me what you do know about fairies? You had an experience with one didn’t you?” she probed.
“I think so…?” I said. She was disappointed when she heard the quick story that I’d rescued a fairy once from being staked to that one goblin casters nail cross necklace. Or rather, I think she was hoping there’d be more dirt to dig up on me but there wasn’t. She seemed disappointed that I’m not the true villain in that story.
“I’m not a bitch by the way,” she said out of the blue.
“Well…” you kind of act like one.
She then glared at me. Yeah she’s trying to read me.
“We’ll see… that’ doesn’t give you any special privileges here,” she snorted in derision.
“Are you currently a follower of darkness or the evil beings?” she asked.
“Hmm that’s a tough one. Does sin count? I make mistakes sometimes, and I’m greedy about women and money but I don’t consider myself evil. But I plan to get as many hot women as I can to have a big family. How do you define evil?” I asked carefully.
“Sin? What does that….oh I get it. Haha that’s funny. You are a funny guy. Did someone tell you about fae humor?” she said. She laughed strangely but then suddenly the laugh is gone and she got tight lipped and business like again. “Sin hehe…so hilarious!”
I don’t get this at all. That wasn’t even that funny.
Then she stopped laughing suddenly. “You trying to make me laugh won’t work,” she added. Her saying it after the fact is weird too though.
Actually I wasn’t even trying to go there. I was just trying to figure out how she defined darkness and evil. The answer could affect my own answer and that would affect what she thought was honesty.
Whew that was a close one. Dodged the bullet there; it seems I got through that one.
“If called upon to defend the front gates would you fight for us?” she asked, also giving me narrowed eyes.
“I suppose I could. But isn’t there some kind of rewards system? I don’t want to come away with nothing you know. I’d like to grow too and not just throw my life away but I understand cooperation to survive and teamwork to survive. Is this system going to be like that? I don’t go for slavery too you know or being considered a prisoner. I’d prefer if you can give me magic skills or something? Or help me get stronger and acquire magic items? That’s fair right? So what’s it worth to you to help you out?” I folded my arms and glared back at her.
“Hmmph. I guess that’s a satisfactory answer. Not too greedy and that’s good, but looking out for your own future is OK too. You didn’t ping any betrayals from your soul so that’s good. So far I’m hoping we won’t have to terminate you. We believe in mutual exchange so even though we’ve force recruited people we reward them very well and don’t like slavery either,” she noted. She then wrote something down on what looks like a fae version of a clipboard, except it’s made out of crystal and transparent but I can’t read it anyway because it’s written in some fae symbol language system that looks even more bizarre than dwarven runic alphabet.
Shit this is serious. I suddenly began sweating bullets.
“So you would work for us then?” she asked carefully.
“How do I get paid if I do?” I said back.
“We could…arrange to help you out with magic skill instruction and even acquiring items to build your way up,” she said finally.
“But it won’t be free. You help us, and then we’ll do what we can for you after you show us your loyalty and worth,” she frowned.
“Do you keep your word?” I asked her.
“Of course we do, but its give and take. If I promise you something it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t work for it and just try to say I owe you somehow later on. We need to see your cooperation,” she said plainly.
“I get it. I can say the same thing. I’m watching to see if you will cooperate with a somewhat decent version of equality. But I’ll consider any contract invalid if you break your promises and don’t deliver,” I countered.
“I doubt you will do much. You look weak. But your answer is acceptable,” she snorted in a high tone that sounds a bit arrogant actually. She’s back to the proud version again.
I resisted getting mad. Is she vain or just way beyond me in terms of power? Actually the arrogance could be a feint to test me too.
“I’ll proceed to the next question. I have a list I have to go through, so please don’t be offended by the wording I use. Are you currently in any way trying to undermine the fae kingdoms or kill fairies?” she asked frowning again.
Gosh she frowns a lot for someone with a nice face.
“No, why would I do that?” I said.
“A simple no will suffice,” she said.
“Are you involved with or have any ties to criminal organizations or worshipping of darkness or evil gods? And do you have a criminal background?” she asked.
A crap. What do I say here?
She is a lie detector huh?
Actually what did they do with Mallory? Where is she? And I can’t lie anyway. And if she’s reading my mind now anyway then…
I have to get it out. I sighed inwardly.
“I was mistakenly thought of as related to vampires by the dwarves before I got here. If that came out later you might think I lied,” I said.
The interviewer blinked. “Oh dear…that’s a class three violation.”
“What’s that mean?” I asked.
“It’s bad…really bad.”
“But I wasn’t doing it willingly do you understand? I was forced into it. I wasn’t even an accomplice but sort of pushed into a forced survival arrangement with one. Although to be fair she was hotter than you are,” I said. I guess this was true. I didn’t choose to be with Mallory. And she just sort of…
“What’s her name?” she asked. I swear she also popped a vein on her head when I told her Mallory was hotter than she was.
She knew it’s a she. Yep, she does have some mind sensing perception thing going on but its limited I think. She can’t get everything but probably just flashes of insight or surface memory pictures.
Well its better its out rather than she thinks I’m a criminal. Hopefully I can help her understand. I tried to explain it a bit but she’s staring at me so hard.
“Are you reading my mind?” I shot back glaring at her. Briefly I considered yelling ‘fuck you, fuck you, fuck you…’ over and over in my mind and then got a better idea. Mind reading also depends on what someone is thinking at the time and doesn’t mean you can just sift through any memory unless you are a pro with it, mostly in the past Fox had hinted it has to do with what they are actively thinking about.
She chuckled. “Wouldn’t you like to know…”
“Stop it! I’m innocent!”
“I will not! This is for our defense! We have to do this! I’m sorry, this isn’t personal. I don’t want to harm you either. Look I apologize for my attitude. The truth is its just scary meeting non-fae so I use that as a mask but I don’t really act that way when not here. I get s-s-scared around some of the people we bring in here so I put up a farce. Humans are scary! We’ve suffered a lot from them but I have to do my job to protect our people,” she added this time with extreme humility.
Now suddenly she’s crying. Jetty is weird.
This is unexpected. Or is that a ruse too?
“Oh shit, stop that! That drives me crazy!” she left slamming the door behind her.
Haha…I drove her nuts so she won’t read my mind. I guess I pass now.
I guess when you read people’s minds and they start counting or doing something annoying, it becomes annoying squared; or (annoying!)^2*(!!)^2.
Later I’m pulled out of the interview room by a tall lanky looking fae. He’s looking me over carefully.
“Hi, I’m …well you can call me Bob but that’s not really my name. You don’t need to know my name. You aren’t worthy of that honor,” he said casually while looking down at me. He obviously is seeing me as some cockroach like existence beneath him. Bob is a stupid ugly name too, and he probably picked it just to rub salt in the wound.
This is exhausting.
Fae all have this massive superiority complex over humans it seems. They are more powerful than we are I’m sure but it’s not like they we like it being rubbed in on us like salt in the wound all the time. But to be fair, his attitude was slightly better, no vastly better still than the woman that just left.
“I guess you already know my name huh?” I said.
“Yeah I do Shun. We have a lot of work to do. I’m happy to meet you by the way. You show a lot of promise,” he said. Then she shook my hand with what seems to be genuine interest.
“Where’s Mallory? I need her,” I said.
He frowned. “That’s complicated. Why would you have a vampire mistress anyway? That’s dangerous. You have no idea how many strong powerful mages were killed trying to make vampires sex pets. Sooner or later someone loses on their willpower and it’s all over fast.”
“I still need her,” I said.
“From my perspective of being over three thousand years old you seem immature and young and stubborn,” he countered.
“Let me manage my own affairs. Mallory was suffering, I was helping her. I can help her curb her instinct to kill,” I said.
“Right… a likely story,” he’s obviously very skeptical.
“I’m sorry Shun but we can’t let you have her. She’s scheduled to be ‘decommissioned’,” he said breaking the news to me.
Ahh frick…what the fuck does that mean?
He’s confirmed my worst fear too. After Jetty had left the room I’d noticed a disturbance in my summoner’s abilities, and felt like Mallory was missing from my summoning crystals. But I’d had to have the shackles off before I could notice it.
I tried to resist crying and I felt him awkwardly pat my shoulder for empathy. “Sorry Shun.”
“At least let me say good bye and see her,” I said.
“Come with me. I want to help you get closure too,” he said. He towers over me and is trying to wear a human skin, however they do it.
We go through the fae fortress again going through hundreds of passageways and halls till my legs started to ache. And part of it being bad is that all the signs are in some strange long flowing elaborately beautiful script that the fae use on everything, which I can’t read. We’re brought to a certain room where we’re looking through a glass panel that is one way only, from the way they described it.
He led me into some kind of processing room.
“What’s this?” I said.
He just pointed forward.
Below me is like a stasis room of some kind. I can see containers with all kinds of figures and monsters in them. Various fae posing as humans are leading creatures into an area that appears to be a processing room of some kind. While doing so they of course are using a lot of magic and restraining equipment like collars on the end of long poles which guards use to herd the more dangerous creatures through with the collars looped around their necks. Of course they are leading them with paralysis stasis fields on them of some kind, since many of the creatures are dangerous here.
As I watch the monsters are led in with guards and cuffed with restrains while the guards feed them into a massively complex steampunk and mana machine with wizardry elements. Then they get processed through a second machine that turns them into miniature figures…then the figures are going into another machine after that but I can’t see the end result.
I can’t believe I’m seeing this.
Suddenly I’m very interested. But not in a good way? Is this machine eating people? Are they killed or just imprisoned?
Then suddenly I had a glimpse of what was coming out the other end on the third machine.
No way! It can’t be! I can’t believe it!
This machine puts creatures into the summoner crystals!!
I’d always wanted to know where they came from! And here the answer is staring at me in the face! This is my first hint at the origin of how slave crystals came to be and who made them! And of all people it’s the fae that are involved, that are supposed to be nice people and a good race?!
If what I am feeling is true the creatures are still alive but inside the slave crystals…probably. At least some of them are but I’m not sure how many are lost as ‘reagent’ material in the process.
When the creatures that they feed into the machine come out the other side, they come out as slave crystals in brightly colored crystals of many types, some of them even have different colors for various reasons which I don’t know. So there’s more than one type of crystal too!
Each color must have different traits to tweak them for different advantages or for element compatibility! This place is a mage or summoner’s wet dream! This is a gold mine worth of magic creatures for a summoner with the ability to summon. They are also being dumped in a pile while workers pick them up and put them in boxes that hold like twenty of them at a time, and there seems to be like several dozen wooden boxes.
Somehow I have to get into this room again later to investigate it. It’s too amazing and wonderful. The potential is limitless if I can get my hands on more summoning crystals.
I just have to figure out how their security works and how to raid it without getting caught.
But in my mind also I’m still trying to pick up how they separated both me and Mallory without suspecting I’ve got some demon genes. Wouldn’t they suspect something? It was pretty clear we were together I think. There are missing pieces to figure out too.
How did that get solved?
“What are we here for?” I asked.
“You can’t keep the vampire girl. She’s too dangerous, but I’ll let you see her crystal before we put it away. Think of it as me letting you say good bye and admitting your defeat,” he said.
“What?! But she’s loyal! And tame!” I cried out.
“Do you know how many times I’ve heard grieving parents say that when they lost a child to a daughter-in-law or son-in-law vampire that married their child or was their pet? Or family members of a person that married a werewolf? Look my job is to stop problems and tragedy from happening,” he said.
“And you know everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule right?” he raised an eyebrow.
“But please, she’s nice to me. And I was with her for weeks alone,” I said.
“Weeks? I don’t think so. That’s not possible. You are covering for her. We can’t let you keep Mallory; even if she seems like a nice girl. And as for your statement about alone with her that long, I think that’s impossible and you are trying to cover for her since there’s no way you could have done that without getting bit and savaged to death,” he said.
“In return we’ve restored the other girl to her human form from the witch’s cat curse. I’ve already taken care of it,” he said carefully.
That kind of surprised me when he said that. He solved the Rina problem?! I almost fainted hearing that. It’s too amazing and I was trying to figure out how to deal with it. Thank goodness… I didn’t know how I was going to solve that one.
I stood there gaping in shock. I’m partly surprised by him giving me something in return but I still don’t want to lose Mallory.
But still Mallory’s battle potential is leagues beyond Rina’s too.
“That is a gesture of good faith, if you help us defend our realm. But you won’t be a fae, and won’t have the chance to live in our realm. But we’ll help you in other ways,” he explained.
“That sounds like …” I almost said shitty deal but stopped.
“Humans and fae can’t mix. Period. Bad things happen when they do. Sorry but you will live a good life, have nice things, and like it here,” he said.
“Won’t be harmed. She’ll just be put in stasis in a crystal like the others and put into storage for eternity. It’s just like she’s asleep and she won’t feel pain but just be dormant,” he gestured forward.
As he did so I see the machine going off and some werewolf guy is screaming as he’s fed into the huge machine contraption. Then a few seconds later, suddenly out pops a slave crystal on the other side.
“NO!” I screamed as I banged on the window.
I just spotted like six of their beefiest guards leading Mallory in the room by restraints while she’s fighting to get free. She’s kicking and trying worm her way out with a bite collar over half of her face. At least they are letting her wear clothes. If they weren’t I’d want to off some of them.
“Shun!” she cried out and bolted for the window where I am. She’s running towards me desperately. At least they have her wearing clothes. I hadn’t had much luck with that recently.
“What in the world? She shouldn’t be able to see through and know you are here…” the guy escorting me said.
The guards stop her by dog piling on her by like six or eight guys.
“You won’t get lose that easy,” one said. They are having a rough time restraining her but eventually do so while I’m pounding on the glass wall to also try to get to her. The glass wall is unbreakable and made by magic so it’s useless.
Shit….they are going to throw her into that machine aren’t they?
Somehow I have to get Mallory back.