Chapter Cover

AUX 1 : Tessa Vivuk - Character Sheet (End of Ch. 30)

AUX 2 : Tolan Morndelen - Character Sheet (End of Ch. 30)

AUX 3 : H̵̱̎͌͜e̶̘̥͙͑̀̈́̈́i̷̺̤̊̋͘ ̸͍͍̠̲͂͛̃̀Z̷̳̑͋̏͘h̴̠͖͚͆̑̔͐a̶̪͎͎͐́͠ó̵̢̒͌ ̸̫̤̮͊̉͂̊-̴͖̿͝ ̵̢͚̌̒̈́͜C̶̢͇̞̣̾́h̸̖̖̦̪̑̔̉̋ã̶͇̲̯̣̽r̶͕̄̍͜ä̴͚͕͓́̾̃̎c̵̣͎͕̈́̔͐͘ͅẗ̸̤́e̶̦̝͓͇̿r̷̦̝̯̐ ̵̠̝͎̬́S̴͕̘̱̃̀̾h̴̛̗̬͜͝e̵̝̞̓̈́̽͛ę̵̞̪̆̈t̵̮͕̦̓

AUX 4 : T̶̬͍̳̳̫͐ơ̵̧̨̜͒͛̒r̸̢͖̥̤̝̟̂̈́͊́̓͝g̷͉̺̹̫͉̥͆̊̓̅r̴̛̺̪̳͖̔̎̿̕͜á̴̖̫ķ̵̨̮͎͎̼͛̈́̀̌̔̈́ ̵̼̱̙͑̑̈́͝͝-̸͓̝͌͝ ̶̨̢͕̦̞̩̿C̶̡̰̗̫̰͙̉͝h̶̛͍͉̞̘͍̣͊̃ä̴̪̍̊͒̂r̵̡̛̻̹̫͈̳̀̐̆̚͝à̶̖̺c̶̤̜͙̗̤̬̊͋̈ṭ̷̣̎̃̎̇͛͝è̴͚̮͜ͅͅr̶͖̦̣̺̝̪͗ ̴͇̳̗̳̾̔S̴̙̞̻͇͘ḥ̵̝͉̘͌́͛̿͋e̷̢̦̰̼̍e̴̩̓͌̑̔t̵̻̗͈͍̩̉̈́

Chapter 0 : The Hero and the Dragon

Chapter 1 : Dreams From Propaganda

Chapter 2 : Running Blind

Chapter 3 : Unmet Requisites

Chapter 4 : Not a Coincidence

Chapter 5 : Kneel to Fate

Chapter 6 : Saved and Sabotaged

Chapter 7 : Apprentice of Bastards

Chapter 8 : New Lessons to be Learned

Chapter 9 : Drilling in the Basics

Chapter 10 : Fanatic Extermination Preparation

Chapter 11 : A Few Moments Before Chaos

Chapter 12 : Never Wanted This

Chapter 13 : A Little Bit of Green

Chapter 14 : The Resistance

Chapter 15 : In Through the Front Door

Chapter 16 : Conversation Between Villains

Chapter 17 : Seeing What's to Come

Chapter 18 : Spark Amongst Flames

Chapter 19 : Everything Starts with a Big Bang

Chapter 20 : The Gun Goes Off

Chapter 21 : Miniboss Meeting

Chapter 22 : The Starting Light

Chapter 23 : A Convenient Opportunity

Chapter 24 : Unapologetically Breaking a Promise

Chapter 25 : No Rest for the Wicked

Chapter 26 : But It Was Me...

Chapter 27 : Second Verse Same as the First

Chapter 28 : Ritual

Chapter 29 : That Lesson Paid Off

Chapter 30 : 30. The End of the First Story

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Chapter No10:Fanatic Extermination Preparation

As Tessa rested in her new room, Hei walked through the streets with his usual smirk on his face. An aura of smugness all around him as he took one confident step after another. Sauntering along while giving every woman he deemed worthy of his attention a wink or blowing them a kiss, just to see them blush, swoon, huff, or all three at the same time. Though the ones that ran and hid got a small grin out of him. Along the way, he came across Torgrak for the second time today. “Can’t say I’m happy to see you for the second time today. Dutifully handling the prep work as you always do, you no-bearded ore gobbler?” Torgrak scoffed, “Just handling the back end affairs before ve leave. Need ta make sure Fate doesn’t suddenly change how it views our apprentice, ya half-vitted lotus eater.” “Zhat one stung a bit, but lacks the usual barbs. Have your years in exile softened your hands so much you can’t properly forge an insult anymore?” “For a mudblood, I zhought ya’d have more bite zhan a toozhless child. Ya have any spine at all, or has bending over every night finally broke yer back?” A silence fell between the two as they glared at each other. Then Hei smiled and tossed the dwarf a gold valin. “You win this round, but the next is mine.” Torgrak couldn’t help but chuckle at Hei’s bottomless self-confidence. “Save da dreaming for whoever’s pillow yer sleepin’ on tonight.” With the verbal quarrel over, the two walked side by side. Leaving the central area of Faethun for its Market District. “So. What business are you taking care of first?“ “I commissioned Morvir for some ‘special parts’ my creation needs. Had zhem special ordered some missions back. Should be done by now.” Hei put his hand to his chin, smirking as he recalled. “I’m surprised she agreed. Now, if only that woman would agree to a date. How lovely it’d be to be handled by her passionate hands. The dance of flames we could make would chip even your stony heart.” “Got da hots for one of da few vomen smart enough ta actually say ‘no’ ta ya?” “What can I say? I love a woman how knows how to use her hands. And if I can make even a genderless elemental into the progenitress of my next son, I’ll find a way into Morvir’s heart.” “Vasn’t zhat also da day ya vere exiled from da Kingdom of Eternal Flames?” (Wasn’t that also the day you were exiled from the Kingdom of Eternal Flames?) “Do either of us know the definition of ‘exiled’ at this point?” “Heh. Fair enough.” The two continued on, but Torgrak broke the silence by clearing his throat. “And vhat of yarself? Usually you’d be off flirting vith the first pretty face ya see. Finally give in ta a pining voman’s heartfelt letter an’ returning ta her bedside? Or did ya grow a heart an’ decide to make good on one of yer ‘promises’?” “Close, but no. Some friends of mine in the red-light district need refreshing. So I’ll be their masseuse until everyone feels better tomorrow.” Torgrak chuckled, “Guess even professionals require an expert’s touch now an’ again. Anyvay, how is da girl’s training progressing? She manage ta last da full duration on her first day?” “You really think she’s capable of such a thing?” Torgrak shrugged. “If Fate villed it, it’d make everyzhing easier.” “Begrudgingly I agree. However, she only made it to half of the duration. It’s farther than I expected her to reach, but we’d probably be much further ahead if she wasn’t so irritatingly set on using the light element.” “Seems her time at vhatever academy she attended saved us some time.” “It did, but her also being so heavily indoctrinated into the cult of Aeon is going to make training the child more difficult than I’d have liked it to be.” “So vhat’s her actual affinity?” “Force. Which, while lacking any weaknesses, lacks any strengths other than near perfect consistency. Come the later stages of her training, her abilities will be predictably consistent. Assuming Fate doesn’t delay things further, nor rubberbands and sends a god’s Champion to figure out why there’s a loose thread in their great weave, safe to say we’ll be making slow progress.” “I may not understand da intricacies of magix an’ such, but ain’t it harder ta connect vith the element of light vhen born vith an elemental blessing?” “Incredibly. To quantify it for your overcalculating dwarf brain, we’d only be half-speed if she had a fire or air affinity. Whereas if she had a water or earth affinity, it’d be at quarter-speed.” “Vhich is vhat it vas for you, right?” “Yes. But because the child is a force-type, we have to move at an eighth the speed of someone naturally born with a light affinity.” “Got an estimate on how long before she’s ready ta be plucked from Fate?” “If we’re lucky, she’ll embrace her inner zealot and go on a killing spree in Crimsonvale. But we both know the chances of that happening, don’t we? In reality, I can’t say. When we turned my sons into Fateless, they actually went along with our plans. This child is going to be a handful.” “Zhey did prove useful in understanding how powerful da reaper-mezhod works.” “Unfortunately, our current apprentice is too timid to make use of it, and doesn’t have a strong enough connection with her desired element to kill anything with her miracles. We could kill things in front of her until she’s desensitized, but that could backfire completely.” Torgrak scratched his chin for a moment. “Aye. Too risky.” As their conversation ended, they found themselves just outside Morvir’s smithy: The Black Flame Forge. Separating from Hei, Torgrak called back to him as he grasped the door’s handle. “Hopefully tomorrow’s field trip will get her ta start zhinking on her feet at da least.” Hei smirked, “I don’t think she’ll have a choice in the matter.” Torgrak scoffed and entered the building while Hei went off on his own. At the top of the door, a small bell rang out to signal the arrival of a customer. Morvir wasn’t at the front of the shop currently, but the burning blazes of the forge in the back were loud and leaking the smell of hot coals. Torgrak couldn’t resist taking in a whiff of the air. “How it reminds me of my first forge…” Entering from the back of the shop emerged a charcoal-skinned tiefling woman with runic crimson marks going down from her shoulders to her elbows. Two long-since-healed battle scars were also visible. One on her left cheek going to her jaw, and the other on her left bicep. Her hair was short, but as red as freshly spilled blood. And her eyes were akin to cut and polished amber. The sleeves of her shirt had long since been torn off and discarded, though the collar had a black and fluffy collar that went around the hood she always kept up and rested just behind her horns. “Either stop huffing the smell of my shop or get out, Torgrak.” Torgrak laughed, “It just brings back such fond memories of all da places I burned down or was chased out of.” Morvir growled under her breath as she took out a small wooden crate from beneath the shop’s counter. Her displeasure at being in the same room with the dwarf on full display. “Never ask me to make something for you ever again. I don’t want to be a part of whatever contraptions your twisted mind creates.” Torgrak took a moment to inspect the pieces, and he couldn’t help but get giddy at seeing the fine craftsmanship. Each one expertly made to the near exact specifications he desired. “Vell made, as usual.” With his expectations met, he took out a sack of coins that loudly clinked when it hit the wood. “Here’s da second half of yer payment.” “Good. Now get out before I call the guards.” “Heh. Zhreaten me vith a good time all ya vant, but ve both know I’m yer best customer. And Vizhout me, ya vould never be able to keep yer shop open.” “I have plenty of other customers, I’ll have you know.” “‘Customers’? Or ‘browsers’? Ve both know da value of yer vork, and that yer too skilled for yer own good.” Torgrak cackled as he left. Storing the parts in his bag. All the while, Morvir could only slam her fist on the counter. Smashing a portion of the lacquered wood with surprising ease. With his business at Morvir’s smithy concluded, Torgrak scanned the area around him as he walked and slunk into the shadows of the alleyways. Sticking to the hidden paths around the city, he made his way into Faethun’s underbelly. Walking through its depths and descending dark staircases until he came to a portcullis with a locked door. Taking a key out from his pocket, he undid the lock and entered Faethun’s sewers. The door locked itself behind him as Torgrak stepped into the wretched smelling labyrinth of tunnels. Turning one corner after another until he came across a lone lit lantern that hung outside a heavily rusted portcullis. Approaching it, he opened the lantern and blew the flame out. A moment later, the portcullis raised itself and Torgrak walked into the pitch black darkness beyond it. And behind him the lantern relit itself and the rusted portcullis came back down. Now that he was where he wanted to be, the awful scent of the sewers was neutralized by runes carved into the sides of the walkways that bordered the fetid water. And between each walkway were small bridges cobbled together from rusted nails and broken wooden boards. Along the way, many a shady merchant was trying to sell their wares to the unsuspecting pickpocket or thug. Some offered forbidden magic weapons too expensive for most, but potentially cursed as well. Others sold poisons or exotic animal parts. Torgrak perused one or two stalls that had the latter, but found nothing of current importance as he moved. Though he couldn’t resist letting out a small laugh here and there whenever some fool bought a defective weapon or useless enchanted item. Soon enough, he was where he wanted to be. A thick wooden door that only opened inwards and had a placard that read “Hog’s Hole”. Making his right hand into a fist, Torgrak gave the door a couple punches. Each one harder than the last. Then a giant eye opened and stared at the dwarf. “Who dares hit me?” it demanded. “Open up before I make zhis an explosive entrance.” Immediately, the door’s tone changed from fury to fear. Unlocking itself quickly as it recognized who was before it. “Y-yes, of course. Just a moment, sir.” With a loud SHUNK, the door swung open and welcomed Torgrak. “Welcome back to Hogs Hole. How unpleasant it is to see you return.” Walking into the underground tavern, Torgrak looked around. It was a much less raucous place when compared to any similar place on the surface. People sat in silence with drink in hand or spoke in hushed tones at the loudest. Bottles of all kinds lined the back wall of the bar. Each one filled with a sickly colored fluid, and more than three had some kind of eyeball or insect floating around inside. Ignoring alcohol for the moment, Torgrak found a seat across the table from a fairly short man wearing all black. He had a pair of vomit green knife-shaped ears that extended through holes in the hood of his cloak. A mask covered most of the lower half of his face, but it couldn’t hide his long nose with a wart on the left nostril. “Good ta see ya again, Kegz.” “Zame to youz, Bozz.” Torgrak pulled out the box of parts Morvir forged for him and set it on the table and pushed it over to Kegz. Reaching out with a gloved hand that covered all but his green fingers and yellowed nails, Kegz began inspecting the parts to see what they were for. “What for?” “Zhese are da big gun, as well as replacement parts for all yer veapons.” The goblin let out a deep and raspy chuckle. “Will do, Bozz. It be operational by tomorrow eve.” “Good, and have it pointed at Crimsonvale. Hei and I vill be headed zhere tomorrow, along vith our new… apprentice.” “Am zurprized. Bozzes gotz ztudent now?” “I’ll explain da plan regarding her later. For now, handle the cannon’s assembly quickly. It vill be a busy night tomorrow.” “Understood, Bozz.” Kegz took the box and slid it under his cloak, and it disappeared like someone had slid a coin into their back pocket. Then Torgrak pulled out a rather large and heavy sack from his mysterious pouch. The contents gave mechanical clicks as it exchanged hands. And in the same way, it disappeared behind Kegz. “Thankz for rezupply, Bozz. Crew been bored, many ztarted trophy huntin’.” “Well, zhey’ll be glad to know ve’re going on a mission. Prepare for a free fire mission.” Kegz mask partly hid his smile. His yellowed and jagged teeth just barely visible. “How many zquadz?” “Four, but leave enough behind to man and guard the cannon.” A deep and sinister laugh passed through Kegz’ teeth. “Yez, Bozz. Crew happily handle clean up while Bozzes are busy. None zhall be left.” Getting up from his seat, the goblin gave a surprisingly noble bow to Torgrak. Torgrak laughed, “Vhere’d you learn how to do zhat?” Kegz happily replied, “Learn by mimicking Bozz Hei. Pratized to imprezz. Will go now, much to do.” Raising his head and turning away, Kegz slunk into the shadows and disappeared. And once a couple of minutes passed, Torgrak did as well and returned to the surface streets as sunlight reflected off his bald head. Leaving the alleyways, Torgrak walked to his next destination. A very odd shop with a sign that had a piece tacked on below: Pi Wryte’s Pyrites, Playwrights, Pirates*, and Pie Weights - *Pirates severely limited. Upon seeing the sign, Torgrak couldn’t help but snicker to himself before entering. A bell once again signaling his entrance. This time, however, an older looking and white-haired gnome popped up from behind the shop’s counter. “Well, well, well. My favorite customer returned.” He talked with a very unusual accent for a gnome. It was as if someone had left him next to a set of prospecting tools as a child and all he’d ever known was digging for gold out in the sticks. “Aye. An’ good ta see ya too, Pi.” Pi had short, crazy hair that stood on end in random directions, but held out of his face by a pair of goggles. His eyebrows were thick and bushy, rivaled only by his mustache and goatee. He also smelled burnt as bits of soot clung to the singed ends of his hair. “What can I get ya’ for this time?” “Need ta do some restocking before I leave tomorrow.” “Ar’right! List ‘em off an’ I’ll ring ‘em up!” Torgrak cleared his throat before pulling out a small note. “I need: two number nines; a number nine large; a number six vith extra punch; a number seven; two number forty-fives, both vith extra stringy roots; an’ a large fizzy.” The gnome began pulling out various unique items, but all of them seemed to be sealed completely without room to even peek at what could be inside. “Need fire with that?” “Two orders.” “Ar’right…” Torgrak put the paper away and looked over the goods through their packaging while Pi totaled everything up. “So that’ll be, ‘two number nines; a number nine large; a number six with extra punch; a number seven; two number forty-fives, both with extra stringy roots; an’ a large fizzy.’ That everythin’?” Torgrak had his hand up to his chin, tapping his mouth with his index finger. “And… a griffon’s hook.” “Extra bloody?” Torgrak smiled, “Ya know me so vell.” Pi put the last item on the counter and wrote down a price on a sheet of paper before folding it and handing it over to Torgrak to see. Nodding at what he saw, Torgrak took out a sack of valins larger than the one he paid Morvir with and handed it all over. “Zhat should be everyzhing.” Examining it for himself, Pi lifted it and agreed. “Yep! Paid in full, as usual.” Torgrak then started filling his bottomless bag with the items he paid for. And once it was done, he said his goodbyes. “Let me know vhen yer special stock is back in supply.” “Will do! Good luck out there now, ya here?” “Aye!” With that done, Torgrak took his leave and spent the remainder of the day handling weapon, armor, and tool maintenance for both himself and Hei. As well as did a bit of potion brewing as night fell.