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  1. Golem Quest Chapter 4: Meeting the State (Personal notes in parenthesis)
  2.  
  3. *Major Events:
  4. Mordre returns to the Kyogrock Arcanoworks after the battle with Dulu
  5. Keddic joins Mordre
  6. Mordre and Keddic go to Golgan (Now Gialgorra) Island
  7. Purchase the Twins of Gavrock
  8. Look for inventor
  9. Go to Gialgorra's Mansion, see Steam Golem, meet Gialgorra
  10. Silicanthos' defeat at the hands of the Steam Golem
  11. Fight against Diozagrath and Geodiaz/Their operators with Gialgorra/Save mage Wendelin
  12. Acquire Edge of Oblivion and convert form to Wootz Steel
  13. Talk with Mage Wendelin and acquire Mortal Coil books
  14. Hire Dregas
  15. Acquire schematics for AGC revolver upgrade from Dimmond
  16. Return to Jezebel and deal with Diomand
  17. Make contact with Ellayia and ask questions
  18. Return home to deal with Lord Brigadier General Quinton Delevas, Warmage
  19.  
  20.  
  21. *Interesting/Useful Facts/Unexplored ends
  22.  
  23. -A warped Skyfall cannon with intact runes (Restored)
  24. -Dulu's morphic staff (Returned)
  25. -15 Blood-Togas (Given to Premen/Bang)
  26. -1 Blood-Cloak (Currently worn by Keddic)
  27. -14 runed swords (Given to subordinates)
  28. -1 heavily runed cleaver with lightning engravings (Unused at this point)
  29. -~70 pounds of Blood Iron (Eaten)
  30. -Balboa's backpack (unsearched) (As of this writing it has been searched)
  31. -Six hand-cannons (All 108 functional hand-cannons now in possession)
  32.  
  33.  
  34. "I want you to intensify their training, For all three of the candidates you mentioned. Add to their curriculum lessons on stealth, Subterfuge, sabotage, and infiltration. I want them not only to be capable leaders, But also able to go wherever I need them." (These are the training orders for our special operations group)
  35.  
  36.  
  37. While Arkus continues muttering, I take a moment to inspect the contents of Balboa's bag. ...Inside, I find thirteen copies of the short wand I saw him brandish at my Inferno Golem, the one that could bend the air around it. Each one is topped with a small sapphire, precisely cut. Besides the wands, there are two wooden cases, one much smaller than the other. The larger of the two cases contains two rows of wire-bound flasks filled with a dull orange fluid.... these look identical to the healing potion I saw Dulu use before. There are nineteen in all. The second, smaller box, however, refuses to open despite it's lack of a clasp, and I put if back down before I risk breaking it and the contents inside. (As of this writing the small box remains unopened)
  38.  
  39.  
  40. ...I make note that Weinsho's death will be satisfying on many levels beyond removing someone who clearly has grievances against me. I also plan to, while in the presence of those who don't know my secret, periodically 'sleep in', and remain both inoperative and unresponsive for some time after the others have roused themselves, to further maintain my ruse. The more thoroughly I convince people of it's truth, the less likely someone will find out the truth, that I am anathema in the eyes of the nations, a sapient golem with free will. It is my most precious secret, to keep restricted to only the ears of those I trust... and those I could not prevent from discovering it, yet chose to let live, Arkus being chief among them, clear demonstration that at least some true allies can be found. (Cover information)
  41.  
  42.  
  43.  
  44. The mass of blood I had felt pulsing underground before now has massive veins meters thick coursing deep into the ground and out of the range of my senses. The mass itself has grown, now likely larger than the whole of my form, though not by much. As the iron, all of which sings to me as being Blood Iron, flows about, the mass contracts and expands, as if some gargantuan heart were beating. I try to take command of the Blood Iron, to manipulate it, but it rebuffs my efforts without issue.
  45.  
  46. ...I cannot place it specifically, but something is.... wrong, even compared to how it was before. The difference of this.... heart, that beats beneath the ground is not what I felt, and still it irks me, something that is off.
  47.  
  48.  
  49. ...I recollect that I gained my new-found knowledge of World magic's connection to leylines after my last trip here, and the presence of a nearby leyline junction, some half day's travel south of here, according to Arkus' findings. That, coupled with the beating heart's veins trailing downward, makes me wonder.... I grasp the knowledge I hold, and reach out to any leyline present. I feel no immediate response, but.... there is something, something deep, possibly miles beneath the earth, so far that I can scarcely believe I could feel something so distant with such incomplete magical prowess, and yet.... I have the sensation of a distant figure yelling, his voice reduced to a whisper, yet magnified a million fold, the speaker growing larger, louder, and more distant, until some giant on the horizon, his words making the land about him quake, has a voice as soft as a child beside you when it finally reaches you.
  50.  
  51. This is the sense I gain from deep beneath out feet, where the massive veins lead, of a power barely perceived by sheer dint of it's distant ferocity, burning so bright it must be perceived. Is it a deep running leyline? It seems possible, I noted some of Arkus' documentation on leylines when he spoke on junction locations, and I distinctly saw... meandering, I suppose, lines drawn across the land... and in cross sections of the earth. Could that mean leylines rise and fall in proximity to the surface, and this Core Being is tapping a deeply rooted leyline? ...Hm, that would seem to fit what I felt, as leylines carry phenomenal power, easily fitting the description of 'distant, yet potent' that I ascribe to what I feel.
  52.  
  53.  
  54.  
  55. ....That, or I am reading far to much into a faint response from what is still a meager area of magical expertise for me, World magic less understood even that Blood magic at the moment.
  56.  
  57.  
  58. ...And yet, if it had outside power..... the Core Being cannot fully manifest in a cellar, or indeed when inside any contained area, or so spoke Jojo one night while we discussed magic, commenting on lore of World Nightmares/Core Beings being trapped within caves due to their weakness, and clans saved. But once the creature is free, it swells to monstrous proportions and begins it's devastation in full, this being a point Arkus steadily agreed on. ....But if it had an outside source of power, to fuel it's growth, before it gains freedom, to power it's manifestation here and now.... it wouldn't need to get out of the cellar, it would grow to encompass it, and gain freedom without ever escaping, circumventing it's restrictions. This seems distressingly likely, as with this creature summoned by Weinsho's apprentices, I wonder if, as part of his 'restricted' notes, these could have been documentation on how to make a Core Being summoning that is harder to stop. I would not put such a thing past a mage touted as a hero in the struggle against the Mosmordren Empire, as ultimately the worst of fates, the Curse was leveled on the empire: If they went so far, why would they not have at least considered less terrible means of ending the empire? The thoughts continue to roll about in my mind, and I find myself believing them.
  59.  
  60.  
  61.  
  62. Moss Withermane dashes alongside us, the stone in his chest once more burning brightly. I consider my earlier theory, that the stone itself is perpetually feeding Moss, still leaking World magic even now. It seems logical, when I found the stone it passively radiated magic, I see no reason why such a process would terminate after the stone was absorbed. And indeed, as I stare at the stone burning brightly in Moss' chest, I feel a slight response from my feeble World magic senses. Perhaps my theory has more grounding than I thought. Interesting then, that the stone could even do such a thing, as that practically
  63. makes it a tiny leyline font, a resource fought most viciously over. Why would I have such a thing? I ponder many things as we continue running, ever northward to Kyogrock Arcanoworks. Indeed, at our current speed, we return that very same day, late at night. ....I daresay that were I not present, Keddic and Moss could well have traveled even more swiftly. Still, a persistent speed in excess of twenty miles per hour is something most generals could scarce conceive troops maintaining, not without horses, and even then there would be terrain restrictions that our group simply does not have. It is quite surreal, to be the slowest member of the group again after gaining Magnetomancy.... and I find it gratifying, as it means that if only I improve myself in some manner, we could travel yet fast
  64.  
  65.  
  66. "These were made by a mage turned gunsmith that I bought this shop from. Forged of Blue steel, and runes are worked into the decorations. Basically, any shot loaded in it needs no gunpowder, or anything, just load and fire. Mage-gunsmith made a press, also Blue steel, to mold more shells with, that goes with the two pistols. Well made, and took down a barn and boulder with equal ease when they were demonstrated. You being the magely sort, I am sure you could appreciate such fine craftsmanship as this.... in fact, I was hoping you'd appreciate it so much I tell you which of all the metal workers here has had the most experience with military contracts, and has made all manner of weapons big and small, and has managed to keep closed lip about it.... to everyone except an old friend and longtime business partner. So, what do you think of an old ladies hopes.... to get six hundred marks for the set, the two pistols and the mold?"
  67.  
  68.  
  69.  
  70. Keddic nods in comprehension, but says nothing, his face clearly telling of his notice of my comment, and I observe him trying to give me space, possibly in commiseration of the fictitious loss: I make a mental note that I have now established part of my cover as being previously married to an individual with financial prowess who is now either dead or has left me. No name has yet been provided, but I came close to confusing my cover once before, and I would rather avoid such calamity in the future. The night wears on, with the moon high over head and the stars blotted out by the light of this sleepless port town. I have acquired a valuable trinket of magical origins, and I have commissioned a modification to my cannon, to be ready in a day or so. Originally, I came to this island for the prior reasons, as well as to track down an inventor to hire and see this Steam Golem Professor Gialgorra is crafting, though to my understanding his abode is some ways deeper into the island. (More cover story)
  71.  
  72.  
  73. I realize that as the Premen learn the common tongue, they shall need to be instructed to not address me as if I was.... well, me. They shall need to participate in my ruse, if I am to remain undetected. I shall need to broach this subject with them in the future. (This still needs to be adressed, thankfully it seems the Premen's langauge progress into Common is not going quickly)
  74.  
  75.  
  76. "-nk it's such a big undertaking, I'm just asking you to keep Mauser out. But the poor cat loves to play with you, maybe jus- NO! I've had this conversation with Illia, just keep the cat OUT, alright Bethany? I'll try sir, but that cat... I know, I know, now please find Illia, I find my throat parched.... Ah." (Cover story, mentions Mauser and an additional maid named Bethandy)
  77.  
  78.  
  79. ...If what they said is true, and the steam golem is outfitted with a Lortoxite-forged drill..... there is little I could do to prevent severe damage the moment such touched me. The ensorceled steels, Blue and Red and Black, even the metal of the Mosmordren Empire, Necronostrium cannot withstand it. ...I make careful mental note that I should keep a wary eye on that drill, lest this bout prove terminal for me.
  80.  
  81.  
  82. The room goes white as a bolt of lightning springs from Jezebel's brandished pistol, snaking across the room, slipping past Keddic to impact my form. For a brief instant, the world goes somewhat hazy, and I feel restricted, but the feeling passes as swiftly as the light from the blast fades, leaving only a scorch mark on my breast to bear witness I was fired upon. With her mouth hanging ajar as she stares partly in horror (and possibly fascination) at me as I nonchalantly brush at the soot on my chest, before I continue.
  83.  
  84. "...Okay, so remote golem operation... maybe World magic, to use leylines like giant cables to connect you to the golem? ...Or maybe... nah, I'm not even going to try to guess, magic isn't my thing. Still!"
  85.  
  86. "Oh, water under the bridge. I can get a bit protective, Of my work that is. Ah, been years to get those runes to work right, What with that confounded machiner... ah, never-mind, Pretend I didn't say that."
  87.  
  88.  
  89. I bring her rambling to a close as I speak again, finding some amusement in her startled expression as I rejoin the conversation.
  90.  
  91. "Instantaneous communication? Ah, such a useful magic...ohoh! Or, in your case, science that is just like magic, isn't it? Now, while I did say I couldn't tell you how it works, Well...heh...If you guess right, I might tell you, how about that?"
  92.  
  93.  
  94. As her eyes goggle at me, alarmingly wide, Keddic quickly interjects.
  95.  
  96. "Ah, but only five guesses, no more." (Challenge offered to Lacrazzia in order to create a better cover)
  97.  
  98. Keddic starts marching down the left corridor, and Moss and I both follow along after him. ...It is at this point I realize Lacrazzia didn't even make mention of Moss. Rather odd, considering how most at least give it a wary glare. begins to frown, and paces about, muttering to herself, already lost in the proffered challenge. Keddic sidles up beside me, and whispers conspiratorially.
  99.  
  100.  
  101. Any material that falls from Silicanthos' body crumbles away into ash, and then fades from existence. Something about being the creation of it's core mass... I never really put that much of my attention towards the specifics when grandfather instructed me, it was a bit technical, but generally speaking, as long as at least... oh, a quarter of Silicanthos' chest still persists, and can be gotten into contact with stone, it could conceivably fully regenerate, given enough time... oh, fifteen minutes minimum, I would assume... I haven't really tested the limits of it's regenerative abilities, what with the risk of losing such a family treasure. ...Though it is just like any other golem, if I wasn't... alive.. anymore, anyone could walk off with this... and that man with the Small Tomb.... he asked some rather disturbing questions. ...I wonder what he could have wanted, but I sensed some ill intent, I'm sure of it!
  102.  
  103.  
  104. "CANNON-MODE!!!!"
  105.  
  106. The steam golem snaps and clicks, it's arms slotting into it's chest as it's legs split apart, it's shifting weight sending Silicanthos' attack at it's elbow off, and the attack against it's chest only scores it's side, craving and cratering rents into it's exterior.... I can't really tell what kind of metal his golem is made of, but it seems galvanized, by the look of it. All the while, the drill has only been speeding up, and has now reached more dangerous speeds, more able to part stone, or indeed anything in it's path without resistance. The legs now form a four legged brace for... a cannon with a drill-head, the body reformed by transformation into a self bracing drill-cannon.
  107.  
  108.  
  109. With a hiss of steam, the steam golem fires at Gialgorra's command, the drill-bit, at least three feet wide, carving a path through Silicanthos' midsection (wonderful, it's shifting weight in it's midair transformation yanked it's mass around enough to once more be aiming at Silicanthos' chest), passing through the stone as if it wasn't even there. Silicanthos continues to pound the golems body with it's two free hands, but it's reshaping seems to have pulled metal plates over most of the steam golem's more sensitive parts, and so for now the damage seems to be superficial, thought that could change with sustained assault...And the still-spinning drill comes to an abrupt halt.... and I see a chain anchored to it's back, now reeling it back towards the steam golem..... cannon. The drill head is some fifty feet away, being rewound at a speed of about five feet a second.
  110.  
  111.  
  112.  
  113. The turbines on the steam golem's back continue to spin and hum, and as Silicanthos wrests a massive slab of rock free from the ground, a bolt of lightning lances at it's stone form, carving a heavy channel into the hastily hefted shield. Silicanthos avoids harm... but another bolt flies out, the next turbine discharging what it holds, the bolt passing perilously close to darting about the shield and striking Silicanthos' leg. As bolts continue to fly, coming in succession from each of the four turbines one at a time, Silicanthos continues to dart and weave across the ground, interposing it's crumbling stone shield between itself and the barrage. I note that Silicanthos is visibly repairing itself, and it is only a matter of time before it is fully restored.
  114.  
  115.  
  116. "DEFAULT-MODE!!!!"
  117.  
  118. I watch in confusion as the steam golem shifts into it's more mobile and less armored humanoid form, still immersed in the mountainside and Silicanthos merely forty feet away in it's gliding charge to slam into it's foe, what good will thi-
  119.  
  120. "[u]SUPREME VOLTAIC BEAM, FIIIIRRREEEE!!!!!!
  121.  
  122. The steam golem, only just having managed to sit up, has an evil light shine in it's glowing eyes.... and the blue lens in it's chest, wha-
  123.  
  124. VVVVSHWEEEEEEEE!!
  125.  
  126. The lens flares with light, and less than a second later, a perfectly rigid lance of crackling, hissing light, a bolt of lighting that lasts forever, connects the lens to Silicanthos.
  127.  
  128. My golem promptly explodes, the electric lance passing straight through it's stone and shatters it with ludicrous amounts of heat, lightning crackling about the expanding wall of stony debris.
  129.  
  130. I watch the pieces fall to the ground, the largest less than a tenth the size of Silicanthos' torso as the beam shuts off.
  131.  
  132. ....My golem.
  133.  
  134.  
  135. I did not directly attempt to influence the match, but all through the bout I directed my Magnetomantic senses towards my potential foe, and what I found... was troubling. While I could sense it's magnetic field like any other no-warded object, when electricity was flowing about it's form, it's magnetic field goes wild, the poles randomly and rapidly shifting position thousands of times a second. I suppose I might be able to take control of such a thing, but I think I would need to attain physical contact to optimize my chances.... and that carries a fair few risks of it's own. I contemplate this as I watch the rubble that was once Silicanthos crumbling away, a cloud of dust pouring off it's disintegrating shards. Lord Dregas looks ashen-face, and barely responds to Keddic as he dully stares at the arena. The Steam Golem continues to stand at attention, it's drill still spinning and building speed while it's claw swivels back and forth, periodically pinching at the air. The dent in it's head and rents in it's armor are visible, though other than the few fitful sparks from it's turbines (already being diminished by the repair dendrites that attend to the turbines and drill arm alike), this CANTI does not seem impaired at all.
  136.  
  137.  
  138.  
  139. "My condolences on your loss, And a well fought match, One that I give you my compliments for. I could not help but note your skill, In the realm of Golem control.... If it is not too forward, I would be amenable to employing you, To take advantage of your expertise."
  140.  
  141. For a moment he continues to stare at me dully, no real response present on his face, and I pull out my best line. ...I hope I can prove it to not be a falsehood.
  142.  
  143. "...And there is yet a chance Silicanthos could be restored."
  144.  
  145. At this Lord Dregas' head snaps up, and the fires of determination light in his eyes as he grasps desperately at the lie I offer.
  146.  
  147. "Do you mean it? Is it possible?"
  148.  
  149.  
  150. "I cannot promise you success, or insure Silicanthos' return, But I have some knowledge of golems, as does my apprentice Arkus, And a colleague of mine, the Mage Kyorto. There is much that could be attempted."
  151.  
  152. Having hedged my bet with half-truths and misdirection rather than outright falsehood, I note Lord Dregas to still be undeterred in his attention to me now, his posture recovering and color returning to his body.
  153.  
  154. "...And if.... if Silicanthos cannot be restored.... there would still be a place for me? A position of respect and prestige, for an experienced Golem Operator?"
  155.  
  156. "Of course."
  157.  
  158.  
  159. I turn back to Gialgorra, who has been patiently awaiting my response to his earlier question.
  160.  
  161. "I apologize, but 'twould be most unfair of me, To divulge such information to you here and now. I was already questioned by your daughter, Lacrazzia, And challenged her to deduce something of my methods,
  162.  
  163. Within the range of five questions. Well, if I were to tell you, I fear the challenge would be ruined."
  164.  
  165. "Yes, yes, of course, wouldn't want to take away a puzzle from my little Lacrazzia, no.. hm, five questions to deduce it you say?"
  166.  
  167. "That is so. If you wish to participate, the same rules would apply. No matter how much respect I have for what you have crafted, You must understand my reticence to freely share it's workings."
  168.  
  169. "Yes, I understand, after all I'd tell you to to retract any inquiries you direct towards me about the three engines my CANTI uses, I could hardly expect that to not prove true for others, even if you are in a different field than I. Heh, good to see you have a healthy respect for curiosity, if you leave at least the chance to puzzle it out..."
  170.  
  171. "But we share enough for the moment, In our joint interest in Golems, Regardless of how they may be powered. And I must say, that was a most enjoyable match! A pity that they must always end in destruction, That Silicanthos was a fine piece of craftsmanship."
  172.  
  173.  
  174. I reach out to the still living guards with my Magnetomancy-And my advances are rebuffed, by personal magic or runes, I could not say which, but either way those aligned with the Small Tomb Operator seem immune to my touch... a rapid assessment of their leader, likewise clad in plate, finds him similarly unreachable through my Magnetomancy. I note black lumps one the surface of each suit of armor, but I have not yet had time to sufficiently study what they could be with more pressing concerns bearing down on me. I do note no runes present on any visible armor amongst the lot of them.
  175.  
  176.  
  177. I take a step forward, taking in a deep breath as I take in the souls around me... most notably the heroic soul that had guided Diozagrath, refusing to let another soul slip away from me like Dulu.
  178.  
  179.  
  180. "Maybe, but you aren't as observant as you thought. CLAY GOLEM GEODIAZ, I BIND YOU TO ME IN ABSENCE OF MASTERS! DEFEND ME!" (It seems all it requires to take control of golems like Geodiaz is a simple vocal command)
  181.  
  182. I have perhaps a third of a second to register what has happened, the golem operator having claimed the unattended and currently master-less clay golem's ownership, before I feel the impact of it's one armed blow, turning my head to see-
  183.  
  184. The club it strikes me with, a stone anchored on a length of wood the size of a tree, bears a metal replica of a skeleton in it's head, something I had only idly noted before. Now the skeleton cherries, the air shimmering with heat.... and I see Soulfire leaking from it's empty sockets, wha-
  185.  
  186. The one-armed blow abruptly intensifies a hundred fold, and instead of being able to shrug it off I am slammed to the ground, my knees buckling and shoulder warped so badly from the impact the Anti-Golem cannon is unusable, and my one remaining arm is now severely restricted by the warped metal. ...How could it have struck so much harder with it's second blow?
  187.  
  188.  
  189. At this development, I see the Small Tomb captain sprinting, blood flowing from his two stumps, clearly trying to make his escape. I see a shadow on the tunnel-side, and realize the fleeing criminal will run into whoever it is.... ! If it is one of Gialgorra's daughters!-
  190.  
  191. I do indeed see a women within years of Lacrazzia climbing the steps.... but I would not consider her helpless. In place of arms of flesh, I see the gleam of metal, hear the hiss of steam and whine of electricity.... as well as note her artificial hands hold a very large device, vaguely resembling a pistol and cannon combined. She jabs it's barrel at the approaching criminal, and put on an evil grin, pulling the trigger.
  192.  
  193. KRACK!!
  194.  
  195. With an explosion of fire about the muzzle and the hiss of hydraulics compensating for what most be atrocious recoil within her bionic arms, the new arrival converts the Small Tomb/clay golem operator's chest into a fine pink mist, and the recently rekindled light in the clay golem's eyes snuffs out once more, it's arm dropping loosely to it's side. As the mechanically limbed, gun toting, pouting girl nudges the corpse with her foot, she looks past me, and waves. With her gaze averted, she does not see the soul that starts to emerge from the corpse-only to seemingly catch fire, it's ghostly face awash in
  196. agony, and burn to nothingness. ....Well, that doesn't seem very similar to Dulu's escape, I didn't even see his soul flee... I snap back to focusing on the developing conversation taking place about me.
  197.  
  198.  
  199. [NO, actually, they largely don’t, only particularly strong willed souls are generally perceivable (Kyorto or most Heroic souls would count). So Only Soul Graves (and Soul Mages) can see the souls of… well, the non-important, those without the will to set themselves apart. Good eye to catch this.]
  200.  
  201.  
  202. Gialgorra turns at his most recent comment as he passes by me, and speaks directly to me now.
  203.  
  204. "To clarify, I have no issue with magic in and of itself,
  205. I simply find the over-reliance on it's functionality,
  206. To be impeding technological progress,
  207. By providing an 'easy' way out....
  208. Oh, and to make matters worse, that Mortal Coil,
  209. They've kept most of the established mechanics of magic locked up,
  210. And parcel it out to the rich. PFAW!!"
  211.  
  212. "Does knowledge belong to everyone?
  213. NO, say the mages of the Mortal Coil,
  214. It belongs to the wealthy, and our order.
  215. NO, says the nation of Castiliathen,
  216. For much of this knowledge is forbidden.
  217. NO, says the people,
  218. For they have been fed on the lies of others!
  219. I reject ALL THESE NOTIONS!!
  220. I... I choose something different, I choose-"
  221.  
  222.  
  223. With a button depressed on the metal rod he carries, I hear metal groaning and sliding all about the area. ...Did Gialgorra just remotely seal the premises, with a single push of a button? (Gialgorra has remote control technology, could have many useful applications)
  224.  
  225.  
  226.  
  227.  
  228. "Well now I have seen everything, my dad admitting someone HELPED him? Definitely going to have to remember your name then, Mr. Mordre."
  229.  
  230. Before Gialgorra can respond, I hear a crackling noise interrupt our conversation, as Gialgorra's hand dips into a pocket and fishes forth a hand-held device with a cord running back into his coat. He presses a button, and the static resolves itself into the scratch voice... of Lacrazzia. (He also has a walkie talki system, something with even more useful applications)
  231.  
  232.  
  233.  
  234. "..You would think after I stopped all thirteen prior attempts in a purposefully brutal manner they would stop."
  235.  
  236.  
  237.  
  238. I consider Keddic's words as I harvest Blood Iron and Black Steel both from the corpses, and claim the souls unburned by Soulfire. The ten or so pounds of Black Steel conjoin with Sable Executioner, nominally increasing it's total range, but otherwise causes no change. As I finish harvesting the smaller desirables present, I turn back, considering the box with the Twins of Gavrock, my bag of coin, rations for Keddic and I, my one remaining pre-prepared Anti-Golem Shell, Diozagrath's Cleaver, and the tons of Wootz Steel that made up the Small Tomb's body, alongside the one-armed runed clay golem. Other than Keddic and I, no one else is present.
  239.  
  240.  
  241. "NYA-HA-HAA, never fear, for my lovely daughter Anastazia has made some wonderful medical devices! They may not have quite the same scope as what magic can offer.. not yet, at least... but nevertheless, I think you shall be most surprised by how much recovery is yet possible."
  242.  
  243. As he says this, Antoledo hoists Wendelin's severed arm in his hands, and I see the mage faint at his manic grin. Thankful to have dodged potentially risky questions from a member of the largest magic order on the continent, I pose a final question to Gialgorra, who now looks confused to find the mage so stunned by his grisly offering. (Gialgorra has a daughter that builds medical devices that can heal limb loss, interesting to note in case we ever find someone in need)
  244.  
  245.  
  246. "Yes, I remember Old Gavrock, and as I know the kind of things he made and your established interest in armaments, I'll skip ahead and tell you the only work of his I know the location of, barring that which you purchased, would be the Shell Of Gavrock, a powered armor suit with runes all over it. This one belongs to someone who used to be a guard at the ports, to break of trouble, but somehow got a whole mess of marks in his hands, the suit, and came to me. Payed me to rebuild the engine, as it was an antiquated an inefficient mess, and thereafter, I regretfully must say he turned pirate, now sailing the waters around these islands looking to plunder merchant ships. ...Ah, and I am... sorry... to say I did a perfect job on the engine, making a miniaturized version of the Endless Steam Engine in my own golem, so... yeah, he is a mite fast now, though I fully encourage you to hunt him down, as you'd get another fine piece of magical weaponry, and I'd get a rather embarrassing affair straightened out. Anyway, the man's name is Cyfus Oteldt, he's already built a good bit of a reputation as a gun-toting pirate." (The Shell has currently been retaken by Gialgorra)
  247.  
  248.  
  249. Directing my focus inwards, I reflect that the soul of Wendelin's apprentice was comparable to those of the would-be summoners I encountered slain near Trekel. ...And considering she felt inclined to World magic, I doubt I could detect any changes on these islands. I know Arkus to have mentioned the total mass of uninterrupted land immediately surrounding any given area influences the amount and potency of leylines, with the ocean dispelling that connection. With the islands cut off so, I doubt that even were I a fully capable World mage, I might not sense anything.
  250.  
  251.  
  252. I face Wendelin whilst raising the sword and pulling the Sable Executioner away from the runes engraved along it's length as I hold it up for the mage of the Mortal Coil.... while I let my own focus attend to her runed stone golem standing beside her, memorizing the shaping and contours of the many-fold runes engraved across it's form.
  253.  
  254.  
  255. "Hm.... well, as I thought, those are spatial and temporal runes there and there... binding... infusing.... internalizing...hm. Well, I don't blame you for not recognizing this, it's certainly niche, even among runes. Yeah, this is old.... huh, Mosmordren Empire time-frame or thereabout, though given it's a golem weapon intend for use against other golems, that makes sense. Temporal and spatial runes hardly ever get used anymore, partly because they have very limited uses unless you have a supreme surplus of power, resources, and expertise at crafting, and because they have to be so large to even work, let alone provide room for an inscriber to get ALL those little lines the runes are coated in, but it definitely works for a golem-scale melee weapon. ...Well, since the two runes are bound together through the internalization... yeah, I'd say these runes are designed to 'lock' the blade in the exact condition it had when it was inscribed, removing it from the normal flow of time. Huh, so that cutting power was just a perpetually keen and unbluntable edge, rather than some emphasis on the concept of severing? Interesting.... ah, and it has no buffer either, so if it comes up against anything else with one of these old-fashioned golem-weapon enchantments, it will either overload the other weapon and destroy it... or if the other weapon has better runes, well... Oh, and Lortoxite is likewise a bad idea to bring this into contact with, it'd just immediately overload it and make it shatter. Still, other than Lortoxite and similar temporally-removed armaments of higher quality, this would work fine on just about anything you can cut, provided you can get enough force behind the blow."
  256.  
  257.  
  258.  
  259. During her lengthy rumination and explanation combined with commentary, I finish noting every single minute detail of the runes on her stone golem... at least, the one's visible from this angle. I'd have to walk around it to fully see it's runes, it's positively covered in them. I decide to start strolling about, with the intent of appearing to inspect the medical lab while I reply. (Since we have all the runes on the stone golem it may be possible to replicate them)
  260.  
  261.  
  262. "As it happens, I actually give lectures on rune-work for students of the Mortal Coil, you know, those without magely sponsors who deem them worthy of individual apprenticeship. I'm afraid as a Mortal Coil instructor, I can't teach anyone who's not a member, and forgive me if I am mistaken, but I am fairly certain I would have heard of a Mortal Coil mage with a Soul Grave. .....Buuuut... I have, amongst my things Gramarbic there is carrying, copies of most of the material I use to teach the students..... I suppose it is such a shame, then, that I lost my bag during the attack, would you not agree? Gramarbic, give the second tote bag, the brown one, to Mordre."
  263.  
  264. As I bemusedly accept this circuitous offer, stunned at the potential usefulness of what I have obtained, I hear Wendelin continue speaking.
  265.  
  266. "Just to be clear with you, if anyone amongst the Mortal Coil finds out I gave those out, I could be in serious trouble, so de me a favor, and don't let your apprentice show them to anyone."
  267.  
  268. I complete my circuit of of the room, and finish mapping all the rune-work on Gramarbic as I offer my response, and attempt to transition into a farewell, in an attempt to flee this conversation without having to answer any... difficult... questions.
  269.  
  270. "I will honor your request, And keep these well warded, Against all eyes save my apprentice's. Well, forgive me for being so abrupt, But I have much still to do today, And a boat to catch as well. Fare well, Mage Wendelin."
  271.  
  272.  
  273.  
  274. ..Iron? Oh-ho.... With the rest of my group currently elsewhere, I decide to capitalize on this opening: After all, I already came to the conclusion I might need additional funds to get the rest of my prize back. ....And truly, to have shown me the whole of the schematics like that... I know what measurements are required, what parts where... I could craft it myself, if I took the time. If I had lips, they would be in danger of grinning as I utter the following.
  275.  
  276.  
  277. "I messed up your potential goods, which I am retaining possession of, of course ye don't pay me. ....I hope this won't prevent you from comin' back in the future, I'd like the chance to prove this a fluke."
  278.  
  279. "I intend to return to this island at some point, Perhaps I could seek you out at that point, Should I still need metalwork. Well, good day sir."
  280.  
  281. I bow myself away, laughing inside as I see Dimmond scratch his head in confusion as he ducks back into his shop. Well, I would say that went rather well for me.
  282.  
  283.  
  284. I hear a clang and clatter of motion to my right, turning to find Jezebel springing from behind a workbench with her lightning gun proffered, pulling the trigger with a look of rage, a bolt of lightning jumping to my form. Again I find myself, for the brief moment the bolt connects to me, to feel... restricted, and feel as if I could not move properly. Now that I am assessing myself, I note that the electricity seems to not present an issue to my corporeal form overmuch, but, as it is conducted through my body, it feels as if it is somehow influencing my actual spell matrices, that which gives me
  285. life... and this thought is not a pleasant one to consider. If this is true, and I had ended up fighting Gialgorra's steam golem, I could have ended up locked in place the moment I touched it.
  286.  
  287.  
  288. "A most amusing naming convention. We spoke earlier of Gavrock, And I have gained an interest in his works; Tell me, what do you know of the mage-inventor?"
  289.  
  290. "Well, I know that before Gialgorra even showed up on this island, Gavrock and his inventions are what attracted attention to this place to begin with, though you'd hardly know that if you asked most people here now, who moved here after Gavrock died. I'd heard something about the Shell of Gavrock being found and refurbished, not too sure on that, and I heard the Gaze Of Gavrock is actually on one of the nearby islands, some sort of multi-lens goggle-sporting helmet, not too sure what it does, or where specifically it is, but I've heard enough people comment it is somewhere on one of the nearby islands that I feel confident it is so." (Goggles still around)
  291.  
  292.  
  293. "...Okay, what is it going to take to make this go away, Mr. Mage? What do you want to just forget about helping this stuck-up inventor, and leave me in peace? I have coin and inventions aplenty to offer, and with how bad business has been for Jezebel here, I doubt she could match my offer, I have inventions by Gialgorra, Gavrock, dozens of people who have lived here, all squirreled away.... and ready to be gifted to you if you'll just.... walk away."
  294.  
  295.  
  296.  
  297. "What I want? What I want is simple: I want you to pay for transportation back to the mainland, With room for at least twenty tons of goods on my part, I want all the relics of Gavrock you possess, and.... I forewarn you, tell me the truth: How did you come by some of Gialgorra's works?"
  298.  
  299. "For once, I came by them completely legally.. well, to be more specific, I legally purchased them from Gialgorra myself, two items, with funds from my back street dealings. ...Great, I assume you want those too. .....Fine, you'll get what you want, the two pieces of Gialgorra's work I have, and the one relic of Gavrock I have, in addition to complementary freight shipping back to the mainland. But I'll need your assurance you'll stick by your word, I'm agreeing to this only for the purposes of preserving my public face, If I lose that through your actions I swear I'll make you regret it."
  300.  
  301.  
  302.  
  303. "I can arrange to bind our deal."
  304.  
  305. With no further comment than my brief and purposefully vague allusion, I offer forth my left hand, as if to shake on our compact. Diomand eyes my hand for a moment in thought, before he reaches forth and grasps a finger. As he does so, I create a strange humming noise as I emulate a chime, flaring some additional soulfire out of my Ruby eyes to imply the use of magic. Diomand jerks his hand back as I speak again.
  306.  
  307. "As you asked, an assurance has been made. If one of us breaks the compact, the other will know, Through a wholly otherworldly sensation in the skin. That should suffice to ensure my compliance, Just the same as it does yours, wouldn't you agree?"
  308.  
  309. "...That will suffice, yes. There's a ship at dock, the 'Storm Bitch,' big ship with plenty of room, crewed by several of my.... acquaintances. If you will excuse me, I'll arrange for them to provide transport while I get what you asked for... I assume you plan to leave presently?"
  310.  
  311. "Indeed." (A lie)
  312.  
  313.  
  314. “Well I wouldn’t know, daddy dearest has been dead for quite some time, ad I’m not particularly good at talking with the dead. …Hahaaaaaa, bet you thought I was someone you know, tooooo bad, sooooo sad. So, who are you hiring?” (Questioning Ellayia)
  315.  
  316.  
  317. “Hmm? Oh, the spatial grapnel. …Yeesh, that one’s a gooood question, no lie there. Okay, so I happen to have this enchanted grappling hook, and I can hook it on… well, anything, so long as I can perceive the concept of the grapnel latching onto it. …It’s a bit complicated, and I didn’t pay all that much attention to the guy who made it, but basically… I can latch the grapnel onto any patch of space, irrelevant of whether something is there, I guess? …Again, not too shabby of a question. Okay, those two dots on the horizon, one pretty big, I assume to be your Soul Grave coming to port. My question is this: Who is it that is managing to keep pace with that Golem and operator?”
  318.  
  319.  
  320. “I was wondering when you’d ask that! Hmm…. Well, that one’s a bit tricky to answer, as I have quite a few names. Now, obviously I can’t tell you ALL of them for just one question, but… hm how about this: My birth name is Ellayia, there, now you can’t argue with an answer like thaaat! Okay, counter-question: How do you know this Harksburton individual?”
  321.  
  322.  
  323.  
  324. “Wow, a bit open ended… and since I just gave you a freebie, my answer will be appropriately frustrating. I charge 1/3 of the value of anything someone contracts me to steal as payment for my services, or the sum value’s third if getting a bunch of stuff. …Oh, did you mean my assassination rates? Soooooooooooo sorry, but that’s a whole nother question…. Besides, I don’t even know WHO this mage, maybe archmage is, other than that they sound like quite the jerk, the way you describe them. Hmm… you know, I don’t think I feel like talking more unless you tell me WHO this mage is, so…. Who is it?”
  325.  
  326.  
  327.  
  328. “ha-haaa, I knew you’d get curious! Hm, well, that question is a bit like the name question: I can look a few different ways, if you understand my meaning. Anyway, right now I look like an oh-so-pretty and daring thief-adventurer, perky curvy body, about 5 foot eight… ah, I dyed my hair two days ago, currently red. What? Oh, you wanted me to SHOW you what I look like? Well, you should have asked your question more carefully, mr. mage., no dice. Okay, counter-question: Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that I had an interest in maybe going after Weinsho, how much would you offer for my services to remove him, and what kind of time frame would I b working with? Keep in mind the shorter the time-frame desired for a resolution, the more expensive I get.”
  329.  
  330.  
  331.  
  332. “Well well well, would you look at that, a reasonable assassination attempt, have you done this before? Eh, whatever. No disguising the fact orders like those are preferential to me… ah, I guess that’d make for a discount, if I want to stay fair in my business dealings… ugh, hate being fair, soooo boring! Hmm… Okay, got any general ideas of where to look for the guy? Last I heard, Weinsho had fallen off the face of the earth oh.. ‘bout two years ago. No more public appearances, didn’t attend functions or anything. Given that, the trail is probably going to be right proper cold by now. So, if you want me to get to spying faster…. And knock more off the price for making my job easier… mind giving me your thoughts on where I should start looking for Weinsho? Or anything I’d need to know about him, in terms of stalking him, or potentially trying to end him?”
  333.  
  334.  
  335.  
  336. As I consider the possible merits of attempting to hire Ellayia to hunt down more mages skins for me, I think of what I may know about Weinsho, and what information I could offer. Concurrently, I also think of how I could explain the need for unbroken skins in any way that would not attract her further curiosity, if such a thing is possible. But most importantly, I think about what kind of prices I should quote to her, for assorted jobs. I recal a mark being roughly the equivalent of a head of cattle in worth, and that Verther, the Duran bandit king, had a bounty of 500 marks on his head, and I sincerely doubt Weinsho could be classified in the same range of threat or challenge. For a moment I consider offering 200 marks and one of the Twins of Gavrock, but I find myself immediately second guessing the very notion. Hmm…
  337.  
  338.  
  339. "Pretty well, actually. Ellorika here's been doing superb at the pep-talk, inspiring people thing, pretty good at getting your blood up, a useful trait in a leader. Pretty good at direct martial craft... not so much on the sneaky stuff. Vespinto's a mad fine hand with... well, anything with an edge, really, the lad has a knack. He can stay hidden, and can irk information out of people.... but not so hot at the field tactics. Ulzrick here, pssh I swear he can get anywhere, guy most have a collapsible chest or something, but anyway the sneakiest of the lot, despite being the biggest. He's got a good grasp of tactics, and he fights creatively, always a useful thing.... but he just isn't that good at talking with lots of people, so leadership is out. Boy lies like a natural, though, so hey, there's that. ...Yeah, I'd say that's all I got to comment on about them right now, training's only really just begun, all that." (Each spec ops officer's talents)
  340.  
  341.  
  342.  
  343. "...Human has gift, and Jojo wonders how Mordre knew, Souldreaming is exceedingly rare. But learning has begun, Ulzrick has learned of how to master own dreams, is learning of the craft. ...And as to the other matter, it was not possible, it remains broken."
  344.  
  345.  
  346.  
  347. "Salutations, I am Lord Brigadier General Quinton Delevas, Warmage. I have come here both to relieve Warmage Densly of command and take residence in the reclaimed outpost, and to assess you. I was told you are the Mage Mordre, and in addition to possessing a Soul Grave, you devised some means of controlling it at range. I find myself skeptical of this claim, and of the reasoning behind your actions. However, as you removed the bandit presence here, and according to Densly were a 'vital aid' in besting the nearby collection of rebels, the state has ordered me to assess you, rather than simply interrogate or evict you from state property for squatting. As I am to potentially be your 'neighbor', I was chosen to perform your inspection. So, provide answer to the following, and I shall have more questions beyond them:
  348.  
  349.  
  350. "I see you are not one for pleasantries. As you wish. Let me see, now, which to answer first. Well, my reasons for coming to the State are several. One was to conduct field testing of my Golem in a location where such... Rigorous trials might do some good, such as removing lawlessness."
  351.  
  352. "Clarify that. I am here for an official assessment, I'd prefer you speak clearly on your intentions, so there is no confusion on the matter.
  353.  
  354. "I have several combat-based tests to run, Concerning the function of my Soul Grave interface, As well as testing the golem's innate capabilities, And I chose a place where bandits, rogues, And other ne'erdowells could be found aplenty. Does that clarify the issue, Lord Quinton?"
  355.  
  356.  
  357. "It is, and it is well that I see no obvious evidence of abusing that trust of the people. The giant soldiers, what about them?"
  358.  
  359. "Ah, them. The 'Giant soldiers' mentioned likely refer to these fine fellows, alchemically enhanced tribals under my supervision and authority, With a few of their number more augmented than others. They pose little to no threat to anything I don't direct them to, as no harm has come to their sapience, So really, think of them as over-sized soldiers, more than anything else."
  360.  
  361. "So you claim responsibility for their actions, that shall be noted. And the Core Being?" (Should be noted whenever we bring Premen to The State)
  362.  
  363. "A group of incompetent dabblers in magic attempted some manner of ritual, I've yet to divine the specifics of what they sought as much of their work was destroyed, And the fools managed to summon a CORE BEING into a farmhouse. I had it buried, and have been working from my facilities to ensure that it doesn't break out - A difficult thing to do when it starts tapping hidden leylines to fuel it's growth, I assure you."
  364.  
  365. "Where is this Core Being?"
  366.  
  367. "In an earth mound occupying a field north of Trekel"
  368.  
  369. "You said the Core Being is tapping leylines, explain what you mean."
  370.  
  371. "Well, it is trapped in a cellar, restricted in the same manner most Core Beings are, Needing someone to allow it entrance to the surface world, But it seems to be using the blood of those that summoned it, Connected with a particularly deep-running leyline, to power premature growth. It seems to be trying to fully manifest around the cellar it is trapped in, And thus bypass the restrictions it normally is bound by."
  372.  
  373. "I shall send men to verify your claim. If it is as you say, we have a severe problem."
  374.  
  375.  
  376.  
  377. "Would that categorize me as a vassal or member of the State military?"
  378.  
  379. "You would be treated as a vassal, largely left to your own devices, but with any State orders you receive through me or any other official representative superseding your own machinations. This is a non-negotiable part of retaining ownership of this outpost, this was made very clear by those who assigned your assessment to me. Further, if you have any more questions, now would be the time to ask, unless you are willing to travel to the outpost I am taking control of to request an audience."
  380.  
  381.  
  382.  
  383.  
  384. "Forgive me, but I have already worked on this particular issue, And would like to see the issue resolved, see it through to the end, You know how it goes."
  385.  
  386. "As much as your enthusiasm is appreciated, that will not be happening. Despite your thus far acceptable record of aiding the State, you are not beholden to us, nor are you well known enough to our administration to be trusted with such an issue. Trust must be earned, not simply given freely, if it is to have any substance. If the issue is still not resolved at a later point when you have gained such trust from the State, your offer of assistance may be accepted, but that is currently an impossibility."
  387.  
  388. "How would I know someone to be a true State representative, Bringing me official orders and not an opportunist?"
  389.  
  390. "Any State representative cleared to bypass my own command to directly give you orders would be able to verify their service to the state by a dagger on their personage made of bone and crystal, with a symbol of a sword and gem-topped staff within a crown with peaks reminiscent of roofing. The daggers I speak of would be completely and incontrovertibly unassailable, fully immune to any form of magical manipulation or even detection. Anyone lacking such a knife would not have the appropriate clearances to dispatch direct orders to you."
  391.  
  392.  
  393.  
  394. ""A few questions, then: Should my services be requested, Am I to undertake these operations alone, Or in conjunction with genuine State Military forces?"
  395.  
  396. "While it is conceivable there may be commands made wherein you will be acting alone, unless otherwise noted any military action you participate in would be a joint military venture with other state forces, most likely my own."
  397.  
  398. "Also, am I to be at all privy to what attempts are made to contain the Core Being? It is a matter that gravely concerns me as well since...well, Outpost or no, I imagine things would not go well for those here should it end up freed. If nothing else, my golems sensory abilities are useful in tracking it's progress."
  399.  
  400. "You may eventually be made privy to what actions we take on that front, but for now it is the State's concern alone, with several specialists already sent for. If the situation changes, and you are given access to knowledge concerning the subject or commanded to aid us, you will be informed."
  401.  
  402. "Finally...this is more of a personal request, really, But as an individual who clearly knows about this outposts layout: Do you know how to gain access to the locked floor of the facility?"
  403.  
  404. "Ah, the key for this outpost is missing, then?"
  405.  
  406. "Key?"
  407.  
  408. "I shall take that as a yes. The door you cannot surpass, if it is in fact the one on the top floor of this central tower here, does not actually lead anywhere: Instead, opening it with the appropriate key and supply of magic allows the bearer of the key to create a new floor of the tower. All of the six tower-based outposts in the State follow this protocol. I shall make mention in my report that you do not possess a working key. If at some point you prove sufficiently valuable to the State, a new key will be issued to you, in addition to documentation of what kind of magic is required to successfully activate this function." (Do not yet know of the other tower based outposts, but should inquire about the key)
  409.  
  410.  
  411.  
  412. "What do these keys look like?"
  413.  
  414. "They are opaque like any conventional metal, but in terms of coloration, could be more easily compared to a prism, their tones constantly shifting relative to any light source. Further, World and Will magic will be sensed within the key, if one looks carefully enough."
  415.  
  416.  
  417. "So long as you do not have conflicting State orders preventing such ventures, that is acceptable, but if at any time we come to give you orders and find you not present without having forewarned us of your coming absence, there will be repercussions."
  418.  
  419. *Unknown Causes/Effects
  420.  
  421.  
  422. I count out fifty five golden marks of assorted origins, and the eyes in the room glue upon the hefty bag I drew them from, likely considering the possible wealth held within. But none seem interesting in action, considering what carries the loot they might otherwise target. Keddic completes his meal in piece, and I leave a mark as payment and tip alike for his feast. My dual acts of generosity seem to have been well noted, and I see several people already talking as we make our way to the pier. Fragellus leads us to a large trading vessel, with a wide, plated deck, already loaded with considerable cargo. When I step aboard, the vessel sinks only a little bit deeper in the water, large enough my weight isn't a pressing concern. Moss and Keddic alike leap spryly aboard, and after the captain calms his crewmen, we set off, the ship slowly sailing out as ropes are tossed free, masts are unfurled and people run everywhere about the ship. The steady breeze and clear waters, combined with sails that shortly snap taut as wind fills them, leads to a surprisingly fast cruise in such a widely hulled ship. We cut through the waters, dodging about the two nearest islands, before heading on to a third, closer to the massive, miles high super-storm that seems to cover all the ocean. No matter where I peer, the storm is present, so long as no considerable land mass is about. Strange, I wonder why such a thing would be there out at sea, yet not about the archipelago or the continent itself?
  423. Such thoughts cross my mind as we sail, and the sun eventually begins to set.
  424.  
  425.  
  426. ...The thought that this group, well-outfitted and bearing surprisingly high quality arms and golems each, would be here by happenstance during my visit strikes me as more than passing odd. ...Could they be allied with this Weinsho I know myself to have earned the ire of? I snap out of my reverie as the clay golem raises it's club again, the air still shimmering about it, looking to pound me into the mountain.
  427. For my part, I am on one knee, struggling to rise and move, my left arm resisting my attempts to move it freely.
  428.  
  429. "Wootz, if I am not mistaken."
  430.  
  431. "Makes sense, a durable compound... still nothing compared to the armor plates I put in CANTI though..."
  432. >"So dad, what's with the talking golem?"
  433. "Ah, this would be the Mage Mordre, who was courteous enough to assist me in defending both my home and my guests."
  434. >"...Moving past the whole 'talking golem' issue, I am assuming that you didn't want to protect all the guests..."
  435. "Most accurate. Yes, it seems that the clay golem and small tomb operators had some nefarious scheme planned, though I must question why such relatively well outfitted individuals would commit to such a clumsy attack.... it seems more like an attack of opportunity, a gamble taken and lost than any overt plan, yet the presence of two groups-"
  436. >"Dad you're rambling."
  437. "Hm? Ah."
  438.  
  439.  
  440. "What, this? It's just a belt-fed 40 millimeter repeat fire gun with a drum canister. If it weren't for my arms, I wouldn't even be able to hold this thing for long, much less shoot it. Needs a lot of tweaking before I could really call it infantry-scale artillery, and I've already had to reduce explosive force THREE TIMES to get it this small...."
  441.  
  442.  
  443. As I haltingly open my warped left hand, the metal already returning to a more normal shape, I glance over to the runed clay golem, still motionless since the death of it's most recent master, noting the clay bunched about the stump of an arm it has.... but mostly noting the club it carries. Hm... with the power displayed near the end, I wonder if the club somehow drew power from the operator, considering what happened to his soul shortly thereafter. I decide to question Sofiazza, to assuage my concerns.
  444.  
  445.  
  446. "Pray tell, could that weapon of yours, And the ammunition within it, account for this? The disintegration, the ambient consumption of a soul, One freshly released at that?"
  447.  
  448. "Well, not really all that knowledgeable about anything magic can do-"
  449. >"Outside of what can make things explode."
  450. "Hey, what can I say, I like explosions, and I like making things that make other things explode. As I recall dad, we have gone over this.... and if I further recall, you said you accepted it when I was helping you design CANTI's turbines."
  451. >"Ugh how could I forget. Two weeks, you kept going on and on about putting magic in my golem..."
  452. "Hey, you know as well as I that the steam golem could be even better if we-"
  453. >"That's not the point. It was never the point. The point is, and always has been, about proving we don't NEED magic. Making the best weapon possible is secondary to the goal of attracting more interest to scientific pursuits." (Interesting to note due to the fact it not only confirms Sofiazza did not cause the disappearance of the operators soul, but that she has interest in magitech. I would think this, in addition to her impressive skill at creating weaponry, makes her an excellent candidate for hiring now that she has left her father's island to adventure.)
  454.  
  455.  
  456. "Well, today was not at all the first time that Diomand's men came to pay me a call. I've had a shop here at the ports for... oh, about a year now, and Diomand's been sending 'collection agents' practically since day one. After enough time, I saw more than my fair share of thugs... and initially, that wasn't an issue. Before, I could just tell them to sod off, point an appropriately terrifying weapon at them, and take my time pulling the trigger, with the end result of them clearing out rather fast. But... oh, about two months ago, Diomand's men stopped being so easily spooked, and it went downhill from there.
  457.  
  458. Today is the first time they tried to actually take something from me by force.... which I find more than passing strange, as even with your visit they had to know I couldn't suddenly make money appear from nowhere.... ah, here they are!" (Why the sudden bravery? Perhaps it's related to the attack.)
  459.  
  460. *Factoids (Things we know about people/places, events on the world stage)
  461.  
  462.  
  463. "Right, well, I think I have a pretty solid grasp of what kind of texts are where in this tower, so I should be able to finally answer whether we have something on 'subject x' or whatnot.... ah, and so far, I've been able to figure out the locations of two leyline junctions not too far from here, where World Motes would be likely to appear. There's one almost straight north, about two days distant, and one that looks to be about a half day south of Trekel ....Oh hey, what’s all this stuff?"
  464.  
  465.  
  466. "Well, then I would suggest leaving it alone for now. Your shot filled it's own hole back up as it went, nothing got let lose, and you bloodied it's metaphysical nose, it sounds like a rather apt time to depart to me. ....Oh yes, on the subject of cannons, a thought occurred to me: In one of my earlier jaunts about the land, I made my way to the Western Islands, a week of brisk travel from here, if I'm not mistaken, to at least reach the shore, ANYWAY, I found that, as a result of the islands being magic starved, something about the Leylines being withered due to the size of each island's landmass, they focus primarily on constructing devices... and one in particular caught my eye. It was a pistol, with a set of cylinders stuck together, with each housing a shell to fire.... oh what was i-REVOLVERS, that's what they were called. So, have you heard of these things?"
  467.  
  468.  
  469. ....But beyond the chain of islands, father out at sea, I perceive a solid wall of boiling and thundering clouds, the sea slowly devolving to massive waves crashing recklessly about past the most distant island. Even as I sweep my gaze about, I see the super-storm coating every patch of open sea, only the waters about the densely packed islands bereft of it's calamitous influence.
  470.  
  471.  
  472.  
  473. "...Okay. So, the gunsmith I mentioned is Dimmond, he was and still is a miner at heart, but long ago learned his knack for metallurgy could make him more money than any bit of picking away at the earth. So, now he lives on the south side of town, amongst the other manufacturers. Funny thing, he doesn't put up a shop sign, just a symbol of a big old pick-axe breaking open a wall, no text or anything. Tell him Calira sent you, he'll listen to whatever request you have.... oh, and no matter what other people may say, DO call him 'Dimmond the Miner,' most folk think he hates the name, and he works to make them think it, but he actually likes the name plenty. And don't worry about bothering him at night like this, he's.... not a morning person, and odds are good he'll still be awake. There, I gave you your information, and as I doubt you'll buy more, I'll ask you to kindly move away from my shop, no other customers have come near while you've been present."
  474.  
  475.  
  476. [Good spot, Dimmond actually has an older brother by the same name, who you are now aware of beyond as a result of this catch. Dimmond the Major is, as his name would imply, a military officer, a Major, in service in the Warring States. The two get along, and exchange frequent letters.]
  477.  
  478.  
  479. I fish out ten marks, and I see the merchants eyes (and indeed, everyone around us) focus on the coinage. It is a bit belatedly I realize we are in less.... maintained part of town, and some of the passersby are stopping to give the sack I carry an ugly, speculative look.... but they nevertheless keep their distance. It helps when a living siege weapon is the one with the money. I toss the marks to Keddic, who promptly begins talking with the merchant again. Three marks later, we have a new lead: Old Friko, a bit west of town, supplies tools of all sorts to the inventors and tinkerers of the island, making reliable, unadorned and economical tools that are always in demand. If anyone would know of remaining inventors amenable to hire around here, Old Friko would know, or so the merchant says. We march onward, Moss turning from inquisitively rooting through detritus by the walkway to bound along after us on our march to Old Friko's place. Behind us I hear the merchant getting mobbed with people asking about this 'bet'. It would seem I have already started spreading word of what I intend.
  480.  
  481.  
  482. I decide to question a few people myself, looking for information on Gialgorra's golem. Not that many people seem inclined to talk to me, but after two hours spent following Keddic, I manage to run into perhaps a dozen people who claim to have seen the golem themselves, and perhaps two score more who heard of it. From all their commentary, I have amassed the following general outline of this Steam Golem:
  483.  
  484.  
  485. --The Steam Golem, as it's name implies, uses steam, both as a power source, and to create an obscuring cloud of scalding water vapor around itself. Clay, Wood and Life golems have all suffered from exposure to the mist, either by starting to melt (clay), becoming softer and more easily broken (wood), or suffering blisters and burns, possibly fatal (Life).
  486. --The Steam Golem has some sort of 'lightning-generating device', that it can use to electrify itself and any present steam cloud. The electrical charge has proved fatal to several Life golems and caused ignition upon contact with wood golems. Stone golems have been damaged and Clay golems outright shattered from prolonged exposure to electrified material.
  487. --The Steam Golem has a drill made out of Lortoxite, found in an old meteor on this island when Gialgorro moved here. Said drill is repetitiously mentioned as being exceedingly sharp and able to punch through, well, anything.
  488. --The Steam Golem has some sort of grappling arm, no one seems very specific on this particular facet.
  489. --The Steam Golem has some sort of cannon with 'retrievable ammo,' but no one gets more specific than that, as most commentary on this function is second-hand.
  490. --Some allusions are made to further combat functions, but no one I speak with knows anything about them. It seems only those who saw some fights against Runed Stone and Clay Golems, and a few particularly potent Small Tombs, would know about the other functions, and they have either all left or some few may remain at Gialgorra's abode.
  491. --Some sort of mechanical 'brain' controls the thing, and can register it's creator and accept voice commands from him.
  492. --The closest anyone came to beating it was, depending on who I ask, either it's first or eleventh fight. The first was against a Stone golem, and at the time professor Gialgorra's creation was still largely experimental, and only after three hours was the bout finally won. The eleventh fight, with the Steam golem, now more streamlined, facing it's first Small Tomb, had issue (lacking the drill at the time), and managed to win by sheer dint of having more metal it could warp without losing function, and resorted to bashing the golem until it shut down. It took three days of repair, but the Steam Golem bounced back from that fight stronger than ever, and has since not had that many close fights.
  493. --The Steam Golem is mentioned as being particularly spry with only a few of the most limber Life golems and nimble Small Tombs able to surpass it.
  494. --Professor Gialgorra constantly proclaims the golem to have an inexhaustible power supply, and indeed the golem has never been seen in need of fuel, going from match to match without pause.
  495. --Professor Gialgorra claims the golem to be his masterpiece, but that it is still not complete. His four daughters are still spending most of their time assisting his tinkering, which has apparently been a trend for them in the last year or so.
  496.  
  497.  
  498. ...Well, hopefully this will go well. I go over what my Silicanthos can do as I consider what my first move will be:
  499. --Silicanthos was built atop a leyline geyser that popped up in my land during the time of my forefathers, and has been passed down to each heir. As a result of the prolific World magic involved at it's creation, Silicanthos can slowly regenerate any damages, so long as it is in contact with stone.... I note this whole arena has a floor completely comprised of stone, so this should effectively be constantly happening. For reference, a hand could be reformed if lost in perhaps a minute, an arm three or more minutes.
  500. --The diamond spikes on Silicanthos' four fists are able to self-sharpen any time they are broken, and likewise benefit from Silicanthos' ability to regenerate, with a fully lost diamond fully reforming in 30 seconds. While in contact with enough earth and stone, Silicanthos' knuckles will stay perpetually keen, possessing subtle points to rend through armor.
  501. --In each of Silicanthos' palms, a large, facet-less crystal is present. These crystals, as an embodiment of order, can absorb multiple forms of energy, and harmlessly dissipate it without harming Silicanthos. There is a limit to how much energy the crystals can absorb and disperse with their Order, designated by their transparency: The crystals slowly lose transparency as they fill, and will break shortly after becoming fully opaque. These crystals can also benefit from Silicanthos' ability to regenerate, and are reformed in two minutes.
  502. --As a Stone Golem forged not just atop a leyline junction, but also the aforementioned briefly lived leyline geyser, Silicanthos' can 'glide' across rock while in contact with it, allowing him to stay fully braced while moving, letting the earth carry him. Only possible when in contact with stone, but capable of lightning turns and reversals, even if the overall top speed is not that impressive. This also makes Silicanthos impossible to knock over while so melded with the ground. without destroying it's legs (which can reform in two and a half minutes).
  503. --Silicanthos has a mouth that comprises the majority of it's chest, with a width of some ten feet. The mouth, when opened, is seen to be completely covered in jagged garnet teeth, each more than a foot long.
  504.  
  505. Hm.... I need to give Silicanthos some verbal commands, but I can be somewhat vague, as it can problem solve on it's own.... though leaving it to it's own devices could leave it making tactically unsound decisions.
  506.  
  507.  
  508. [There is no ceiling or pipework in said nonexistent ceiling, since the arena is the top of a leveled-off sea-facing mountain peak. There are walls on one side and a tunnel into the mountain, but that is it.]
  509.  
  510.  
  511. [Yeah, it sure would suck if the assumption the Supreme Voltaic Beam had a slow charge was based on erroneous data, the true cause of the fitful charging being the crystals in Silicanthos' hands absorbing electricity with each strike, thus retarding the turbines building charge. And it would suck if, after accounting for that, one realizes the laser fired immediately when commanded, and ionized an air channel via thermal blooming along which to send electricity in... oh, about a half second.]
  512.  
  513.  
  514. [BONUS DEDUCTION: Small Tomb Alloy Identification Bonus: Increased Magnetomantic effect on the Small Tomb, and Wootz Steel is now identified on detection.]
  515.  
  516. [BONUS DEDUCTION: Black Lumps Identified Bonus: recollection that Black Steel creates a largely spherical field, and deduce where small gaps in the coverage could be hiding. Mordre can now minorly influence their armor around the Black Steel's influence.]
  517.  
  518.  
  519. "Good sir, I'd hoped you thought higher of me, than to neglect guests in such a situation. I have a full wing for visitors.... rather conveniently beside the emergency room.."
  520. >"It's easier that way."
  521. "Oh, hush Sofiazza."
  522. "You have my thanks, Antoledo-"
  523. >"Antoledo 'steel', you mean!"
  524. "W-what, oh, don't go bringing up that childish nickname!"
  525.  
  526.  
  527. ""Just who is this Diomand, and why does he trouble you so? There is no shortage of inventors and tinkerers on this island, Why does Diomand target your wares specifically?"
  528.  
  529. "He doesn't target them specifically he targets me because I am the only freelance inventor that DOESN'T pay him for his stupid 'protection'! I'd only been able to push them off for so long because business had been bad, and I told them I couldn't afford it, but you showed up, and nothing I could say would make them think I didn't suddenly have wealth pouring out my ears! So. you tell me why Diomand would be targeting me!"
  530.  
  531. "And why have you not gone to the guard about this?"
  532.  
  533. "BECAUSE DIOMAND IS THE CAPTAIN OF THE GUARDS, YOU DOLT! What am I supposed to do, ask him to arrest HIMSELF!? That's why he gets away with it, he uses the guards preferentially to insure his criminal accomplices have free reign... AGH, I HATE THIS PLACE!
  534.  
  535. [Inaccurate. The spear can prove lethal with filled canisters on organic life up to Oggroth's size in a single successful strike, barring magical enhancement, thanks the the physical properties of the rapidly expanding gases (you can make real world mixtures for this if you want, anything you can pressurize and would have interesting reactions when decompressed and mixed with something else). It's killing capacity is individually far in excess of what Sofiazza had. This is somewhat OOC knowledge, but I felt it necessary to clarify. And Dimmond had not yet finished your proposed order, nor was it going to have magical properties of it's own, it was to be purely mechanical.]
  536.  
  537.  
  538. [Correct, no monetary amount was suggested for Lord Donwick Dregas either, because none have been quoted to me, just a desire to hire people. As such, Mordre has been confidently acquiring new workers, without having yet payed any attention to what they might need to be payed. And as Mordre has a habit of staying involved in action and jumping about conversation topics, those you have spoken to about hiring have not yet thought about asking for pay, even though you have a;ready 'hired' Dregas. Might want to think about that at some point (Collective advise to posters, neglecting details in plans can come to bite you in the ass)]
  539.  
  540.  
  541. "This is the Tristage Antiarmor Single Target Eliminator, or as I call it, the TASTE o' Doom. Still need to streamline the design, as this prototype is way too bulky and has some other issues, but... well, it's a bolt action rifle, using electromagnets as projectiles. One of these two charge packs goes towards initially charging the electromagnet shell, and firing it with magnetic repulsion, combined with conventional black powder explosives. Once the shell is fired and given it's initial charge, it will curve nominally in flight paths towards masses of metal, so as long as you aim at a sufficiently armored target, you don't have to be that precise. This bit right here, with the canister, will forcibly eject a very brief stream of water at high pressure, cutting unarmored skin, but more importantly tagging whatever the electromagnet shell hits with water. Then, the third of these protrusions is employed, the second energy cell being used to discharge a bolt of lightning, targeted to the fired electromagnet shell and whatever it may have impacted. This second charge turns the electromagnetic into a magnetic equivalent of a sinkhole, violently attracting any metal near to it, with sufficient force to warp armor or wrench free bolts and rivets. It also vaporizes the water, surrounding whatever was shot in a scalding cloud of steam. So far as I can tell, it can't NOT be lethal. ...Granted, it's still too big, bulky, and takes way too long to reload, with each individual shell, canister and pair of charge packs needing to be loaded one at a time..."
  542.  
  543.  
  544. "I'm brusque, not daft. Besides, even with the amount of metal you have, the shot couldn't go THAT far off, it can home perhaps a foot or two in any direction for every thirty feet traveled, enough to help
  545.  
  546. someone with poor aim, not enough that I'd hit you unless I was shooting right at you. Mostly, it's just so it's harder to miss any armored target you aim it at, if the attraction was so strong the bullet could veer off that easy, I could hardly call it a working prototype now could I?"
  547.  
  548.  
  549. [You did, but the sword is crazy heavy and unassailable via magnetomancy, so when in transit, unless you feel like devoting at least half of all your potential Magnetomancy to keeping yourself from
  550.  
  551. overbalancing, it stays in the Sable Executioner during travel. Or until someone comes up with a proposal for an all-metal method of attaching the sword to Mordre, like an inbuilt sheath or some such. Picture required for Mordre to simply mold it himself. For reference: Sword is 13ft long, 2.5ft thick, single edged, Mordre is 15ft tall, 8ft across the shoulders, 4ft deep at the chest.]
  552.  
  553.  
  554. --Outside the wall, on either side of the gate is a stable and guardhouse alike, now staffed with some dozen personnel each that I can see, lights still kindled. The wood for these stables came from where once a shantytown was built against the wall. Now, nothing is in direct contact with the walls of the keep, the ground clear of obstruction.
  555. --The five fields inside are finally showing results, several crops starting to grow quite readily, and the five stone buildings show filled beds nearly everywhere I look. All said and done, I spot a total of two hundred eighty individuals, either through windows or on active duty, and I feel certain there are more. My numbers seem to have swelled considerably..... and so shall my food needs.
  556. --Which thankfully do not seem to be an issue. Within the walls, a wooden warehouse has likewise been assembled from the deconstructed shantytown, and is stocked with food I am told is from Shellik, Trepany and Glenston. There is little danger of starvation here, and the wells have been providing water without end.
  557. --I note the walls and five sentry towers about the Arcanoworks to now be staffed with three dozen personnel, each armed with a hand-cannon. I also note the sentry tower opposite of the gates to now have a newly restored Skyfall Cannon sitting within, and a dozen metal shells stacked on either side of it, four soldiers about it at any given time.
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