Ledger Nano X - The secure hardware wallet

Chapter 7

Magus_Anon Jul 23rd, 2018 791 Never
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  1.     Winter. It was a long, cold winter. You step out of the small home and leave the village where you had just spent your whole childhood. Across the tundra. To hunt. Like your grandfather had. Build a cabin, protect it with wards. A cabin for winter, for it is ALWAYS winter. Hunt. Kill. The pelts line your walls, bed, and pockets. Set the trap, place the bait. Your age slows you down. The snap of twigs, the feeling of eyes unseen watching you move. Move through the snow, something moves behind you. Winter never ends. Hunted. Killed. In the distance, spring.
  2. ~~~~~~~~~~~
  3.     You could feel the morning sun on your eyes even before you opened them. Outside, the call of strange and alien birds rang out. With a stretch, you propped yourself up in the bed and opened your eyes. The room was the same as it ever was, a small but adequately sized room with basic furnishings. Walking to the latticed window, you peered outside.
  5.     The dozens of elves walked to and fro, going about their lives. It was impossible to make out much about the town from here, as you had neither the height nor the angle to see the entirety of the village. Moving to the door, you test the knob. Unlocked. It would seem the elves now trust you enough to allow you to roam the hallways. Or perhaps they were tired of having to let you out to use the bathroom all the time.
  7.     You were starting to grow concerned with the dreams you had been having. Every night, without fail, you dreamt of a new life. Not just fragments, it was as if you were living a stranger’s entire life from birth till death in a single night. But it was never the same life, and the dream never took place in a setting you knew or with a cast you recognized. Was it the food? The change in the environment? Some sort of chemical in the water? Perhaps the elves would know.
  9.     Stepping in to what you had learned to be the men’s room, you relive yourself in one of the stalls and wash your hands. How the plumbing here worked was a mystery to you. The toilets seemed to be simple outhouse style, but you could not see the bottom or smell any kind of stench. The faucets worked in a similar manner to the ones on earth, but without temperature controls. A single lever controlled the flow. Shaking your hands dry, you make your way back to your room.
  11.     As you enter, one of the librarians looks up at you in surprise. The one with the dirty-blonde hair, who you knew as Lythris. She had just set down a tray of food for you on the table.
  13. “Ah! Hay-lou Ayy-none!” she greeted cheerfully.
  15. “Averine-dalay, Lythris.” you say.
  17. She beams at your greeting.
  19.     It had been six days since you had arrived here, and you were already feeling stronger. With enough food and water, your scrawny form had begun to fill out once more. The elves had washed what was left of your clothes and returned them to you, but you noticed that a small scrap of cloth had been cut from each article, and the tags of your shirt had nearly been torn off. This did not surprise you, clearly these elves were naturally curious. The writing on the tag along with the washing instruction symbols must have kept them busy for hours.
  21.     Now, you wore a light, grey shirt, and forest green pants of the same fabric. It felt like cotton, and was soft and pleasant to the touch. It was obvious that they had been sun-dried, as they smelt faintly of sunlight. The elves had also issued you a pair of undergarments, and some heavy-duty socks. You hadn’t worn the socks yet, since you were still not permitted outside the building and walking around barefoot was much more comfortable.
  23.     You pull up a chair and begin to dig in to the bread. It was definitely not wheat, but whatever grain it came from was still filling and tasty. The elf watched you intently as you ate. You offer her the other chair, but she shakes her head.
  25. “Bahy An-un!” she says with a little wave. You are certain that you will see her later though. The what you learned to be librarians had visited you every day to learn more about your language and world.
  27.     It was a fools errand though. Clearly these elves were ignorant of even the simplest contraptions. You had tried to explain some of the amenities of your world to them dozens of times, yet the elves always gave you a confused stare. Surely once you learn more of their language you will have enough of a grasp of abstract concepts to articulate yourself. The concept of an automobile just could not be explained at this moment. When you tried to draw one, they kept trying to add horses to the front or water underneath to ‘complete’ the vehicle. Ignorance of technology didn’t come as a shock to you, after all, the elves lived in glorified tree houses.
  29.     Looking out the door down the hall, you confirm that the coast is clear before pulling your battered wallet out from under the mattress. Well, the mattress was more like a bag of hay wrapped in cloth, but it was damn comfy. Maybe it was magic that kept it so firm yet oh so soft.
  31.     Examining the contents of your wallet had become something of a ritual for you. Every day you would take it out at least once to do an inventory of its contents. You had: $26, your driver’s license, a credit card, a debit card, and a rewards card from your local grocery store. All that remained from your previous life. In the chaos following your arrival, it would seem that the elves had failed to check your pockets. From what you could tell by watching the town square outside and the clothes you wore, most elves carried around packs or had a series of small pouches on their belts to hold their items. The idea of showing it to the elves had crossed your mind, but you had not been ready to risk the wallet in the name of elven anthropology. Based on how they had treated your clothes, you had made the right call. You didn’t really need pockets either, now that this wallet was your soul possession.
  33.     Your phone was long gone. The first thing to go, lost upon impact with the water. No way to retrieve it, who knows how deep the pool may have been or what may have lived there. Maybe if the elves are desperate enough, you could find it again in the future. Doubtful, as any sort of sediment would bury the phone and there was no guarantee that you had dropped it in the pool to begin with. With a sigh, you replace your wallet and settle into one of the chairs. Using the ink and quill you had been provided, you began to copy and translate elven into English and vice versa. It was a grueling and mind-numbing process. In the few days that you had been here, all you could translate were a few food items, water, a few pieces of furniture, and Arsofina’s name.
  35.     All of these things were uncertain, as there was no way to know for certain that the translations were correct, or even accurate. For all you know, the symbol you had been drawing for ‘bed,’ could be their word for ‘sheet.’ To make things worse, the context of how the word was being used seemed to change how the symbol was drawn. Much like how an apostrophe and an extra ‘s’ had perplexed the elves, it would seem to denote a possessive was to change the symbol completely. At the end of yesterday’s tutoring session, it was clear that the elves were frustrated with your lack of understanding.
  37.     While it would be nice to say that the elves were struggling with your language as well, the scholars seemed to pick-up your language much faster than you did theirs. Already they had come to understand how each letter represented a noise, and memorized basic punctuation. What seemed to baffle them most was the necessity of vowels. Often times they would try to write something from their language out phonetically, only to end up with a jumbled mess of consonants. Any attempt to rectify this was met with frustration and the insistence that what they had written was indeed correct. Who the hell did they think they were, trying to tell you how to write your own language?
  39.     You take a break to flex your fingers. Well, the elves may be arrogant, but you were happy to have the company. Your time in the jungle had left you desperate for human, or, well, elf interaction. Some of them may look on at you in disdtain, but you would not change their view by returning a sour gaze. Maybe they would let you out for some fresh air if you asked politely? Arsofina should be here soon anyways.
  41.     Just the thought of her brought a smile to your face. Out of all the elves, you could tell she cared the most about you. There must be some way you could properly thank her for saving your life. Pondering what she would enjoy, (and that you could do or obtain for her), you practice writing her name again.
  43. ~~~~~~~~~~
  45. “Captain, today’s papers.” said a guard.
  47. “Just drop them on the desk, I’ll get to them eventually…” replied captain Stellora dryly.
  49. The guard placed the thin stack of papers down onto the disheveled desk as Stellora read over a report on what sort of armaments were being shipped from the capital city. The guard fidgeted, but made no move for the door. Stellora turned her eyes away from the paper in her hands and onto the guard.
  51. “Was there something else? Hucha?” said Stellora.
  53. “Er, yes… captain. It’s just, Mrs.Triti just submitted a missing persons report. Her husband isn’t back yet from his trip.” said the guard.
  55. “And?” said Stellora raising an eyebrow.
  57. “Well,” gulped Hucha as she looked down at the rug, “It’s just that that’s the fourth person in three days. What’s happening out there? Why aren’t we on alert?”
  59.     Stellora picked up the missing persons report and shrugged. “People get delayed. It’s the frontier for fuck’s sake. This guy wasn’t just taking a trip to the baker, he was going out into barely charted territory to grab some critter or root or something. It’s unpredictable out there. There’s a million different reasons why he may be delayed. ‘Sides, he’s only… one day past his EXPECTED return date. Hardly cause for alarm.”
  61. “But so many? So close together? It doesn’t make any sense. And it all started when that human arrived!”
  63. “Listen, if it was up to me, that savage would be tossed over the wall. But Lady Irin has made it quite clear that he is our guest, and is not to be harmed. The guards I’ve posted report that he hasn’t done anything even remotely suspicious. I had my doubts about him, but it seems like he’s just a bumbling fool, not the demonic infiltrator I had him pegged for.”
  65. Hucha remained unconvinced. “What about the sightings? Two different guards reported seeing something moving near the edge of the clearing last night.”
  67. “Yeah. Something moving in the woods. Again, not enough to mobilize the militia. And like hell they did, I know for a fact that most watchmen just sleep through the night shift anyways.” said Stellora setting down the paper.
  69. Hucha looked down in embarrassment.
  71.     Stellora sighed and reclined in her chair. “Look, I get it. You’re worried. That’s good. It’s our job to protect these people from any threats. But out here on the frontier? Everything is a threat. This is a dangerous place, and these people know it. Most of ‘em are damn good at what they do, good enough to venture out into the jungle alone. But sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes people… just don’t come back. As harsh as that may sound, there’s nothing we can do about that. Everyone in Oreath knows the risks. Our job is to keep the risks in their favor, not go tromping through the jungle every time someone’s late for supper. Vigilance is the most important part of out job, but you’re jumpin’ at shadows Hucha.”
  73. “Y-yeah… I guess you’re right.”
  75. Stellora smiled. “Atta girl. Listen, if we don’t here from any of the missing people by sundown tomorrow, I’ll put together a search party and lock down the city. Four people is probably just a coincidence, but like I said, we operate to keep the risks in Oreath’s favor.”
  77. Hucha looked reassured thanks to her superior’s reassurance. “Very good captain.” she said with a small salute. With that, she turned and left Stellora to deal with the ever-growing mountain of paper work on her desk.
  79. ~~~~~~~~~
  81. “So, Arsofina dear, how is the human doing?” asked Irin.
  83. “Very good, Lady Irin. He is regaining weight and appears to be in fine health in spite of all he endured.” said Arsofina.
  85. “Good, good. From these reports, it seems as if he is adjusting well to us as well, no?”
  87. “Indeed. His uncertainty about us seems to have faded into curiosity. Anon certainly enjoys the visits from the archivists, though that may be because he grows lonely without any sort of contact.”
  89. Irin took a sip of water from a glass. She leaned over to a thin stack of papers and pulled out a sheet near the top of the pile. “So, he is cooperating with us, and we still no nothing of his origins… how queer. This language, what an interesting way to write! I have not seen such a thing for decades.”
  91. Arsofina perked up. “You have seen this language before?!”
  93. “No, no, not this language. I mean a phonetic language. If my memory serves, the last phonetic written language was used by a small costal nation of pirates on the southwest shore of Silvecca. But that was ages ago, and the pirates were exterminated, or integrated into a different city-state.”
  95. “Oh, I see…”
  97. “And what of these drawings? The archivists keep delivering some of his drawings to me, but I cannot make sense of what they depict. Do you have any idea what they mean? For instance… this one…” said Irin as she presented a drawing of a figure sitting in some sort of box “makes no sense. The circles on the bottom appear to be wheels, but what is the main compartment? Why is there a huge hole in the side of the box? It is unsuitable for housing, and there is no source of locomotion if the box was intended for transport.”
  99.     Arsofina took the drawing and looked it over. She had been there when Anon had drawn it, and had no idea what he was trying to articulate. It may be because Anon was terrible at drawing. The ‘figure’ if it could be called that, was nothing but a series of straight lines and a circle on top. If Anon hadn’t been there, she and the archivists would have never even known that it was a human.
  101. “Sorry, I am just as baffled as you.” said Arsofina returning the paper.
  103. “Oh no, it’s quite alright, I’m sure that it will be easier for us to understand him as he learns our language. Regardless, that is not why I called you here. Anon has been in our care quite some time, and he seems to be recovering nicely. I imagine that he will be fully functional soon.”
  105. Arsofina said nothing, waiting for Irin to continue.
  107. “And since he is no longer in mortal danger, I think it would be best that he be returned to humans.” said Irin.
  109. Arsofina stiffened. “You mean… send him to a human village?”
  111. “Yes, he cannot stay amongst us forever. Endearing as he may be, we cannot play caretaker to a lesser race for the rest of his life. He deserves to be with his own kind.” said Irin.
  113. “Of course. It would be wrong to keep him here…” said Arsofina. Her gaze lowered in spite her best efforts to keep eye contact with Lady Irin.
  115.     Irin reached out and clasped Arsofina’s hand between her own. “I know you enjoy his company, but he is not a pet. He is a human. It is dangerous for his kind to be here. Every day he stays here is a greater risk to Oreath. I have done all I can to reassure the town and placate the elves who would see him hanged, but there is merit to their concern. He has to go.”
  117. Arsofina swallowed dryly. “I understand.”
  119. Irin smiled sweetly. “I know you do. Perhaps you can visit him some day.”
  121. “Where will he go?”
  123. “I have already sent a messenger to a human village. There is a small university there, and I believe that the college would be more than happy to house Anon and teach him all he needs to know. He will be in good hands.”
  125. “Good… good. I’m glad he will be taken care of…” said Arsofina.
  127. “Do not despair, he still has a few days before they arrive. I know the archivists wanted to collect some sample of his blood and hair. If he is as docile as the reports suggest, it should be easy to convince him, but having you beside him wouldn’t hurt.”
  129. Arsofina rose out of her chair and gave a short bow. “Then I will go assist them at once.”
  131. As she reached for the door handle, Irin called out to her. “Oh, and Arsofina dear, in all the time you have spent with Anon, did you notice anything… strange happening around him?”
  133. Arsofina turned and cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
  135. “Things that shouldn’t be happening, happening… you know, a feeling of static, things floating around, drafts and cold spots, the smell of air before a storm…” Irin continued. Her tone was nonchalant, but her normally peaceful face betrayed her. She was clearly nervous about something.
  137. “No… no nothing like that milady. Why… do you think…” Arsofina lowered her voice. “Do you think that he may be corrupted after all?”
  139. Irin immediately reverted back to her effervescent self. “No, of course not. It was silly of me to ask. Now why don’t you go get those samples hmm?”
  141. “At once milady.” said Arsofina and she hurried out the door.
  143.     Irin sighed and reclined into her chair. So even Arsofina could not feel it. There was something wrong with that human. But what? It was like seeing a figure in the corner of your eye that always vanished when you turned your head.
  145. Irin strode to the window and looked out onto the bustling square below. “Oh Arsofina, what have you brought into our midst?”
  147. ~~~~~~~~~
  149.     Arsofina hurried across the square to the medical building. What Irin had told her was bothering her more than it should have. Anon was leaving. That was a good thing! He would be more comfortable with other humans. It was wrong for a human to live with elves, dangerous even. But how dangerous? Irin’s last question unnerved her. Anon posed no threat to anyone, did Irin see something in him that the rest of the city did not? If she did, why had she allowed him to stay in the first place?
  151.     With long strides, Arsofina arrived at Anon’s door to see him hunched over his table, quill in hand. Archivists were seated in various places, talking amongst one another. Seeing Arsofina, they rose to their feet and greeted her.
  153. “Are you ready to help with the tests?” asked Lythris
  155. “Yes, I suppose so. Not like I’ll be doing anything…” replied Arsofina.
  157. “Ah, but he’s so much easier to control with you here. That counts for something, no?”
  159. Arsofina shrugged and the elves began to leave the room.
  161. “Anhnone, follow.” Arsofina said.
  163.     Anon looked up from his work, and quickly followed the elves out into the hallway. The party strode the length of the building in silence, out across the breezeway and into the apothecary’s lab.
  165. An elderly elf greeted them with a smile.
  167.     “Ah, the human. We’ve been expecting him. Come, this way.” He said shuffling through a curtain separating the lobby from the lab.
  168. The lab was a mess of chemicals and flasks. Glassware was scattered everywhere, in various states of fullness. Dried plants hung from the ceiling and shelves and drawers overflowed with all manner of alchemical stock. The elderly elf led them to a chair, and brushing aside some goo patted the seat for the human to sit down.
  170. Anon was obviously not keen on the idea. He looked at the archivists, and then to Arsofina with a skeptical look.
  172. “It saf Anon!” said Arsofina trying her best to reassure him.
  174. His eyes narrowed and he gave a sigh, but took a seat in the chair and leaned back.
  176. “Mmm yes, very good. Now, we will only need a bit of his blood, a sample of his flesh, and some semen to complete the test. Should be easy. Just keep him restrained until then.” said the old man as he prepared an intimidating syringe.
  178. “W-wait, SEMEN?” stammered Arsofina.
  180. “Yes. It is critical to the test. Arguably the most important thing.”
  182. “W-w-well how are we going to… to… you know…” Arsofina was blushing furiously, staring at the ground.
  184. “Err, that will be HIS job. Just tell him to masturbate into the cup we provide.”
  186. “Ewww…”
  188.     Anon was much more concerned with the needle than Arsofina at this point, but her lack of confidence was certainly not helping his nerves. The archivists all milled around him, helping the doctor prepare the extraction site and pick a small patch of skin to take from Anon’s thigh.
  190. As Anon clenched his fist, Arsofina took his hand and squeezed it. She was no fan of needles either. She could feel the tension in his arm loosen in her grip.
  192. “Alright now, just a quick pinch, be ready to hold him down if he starts thrashing.”
  194.     As the needle entered Anon’s arm, both he and Arsofina had to look away. It was hard to tell who was squeezing whose hands harder.
  195. The blood drawing, as promised, only took a minute or two. The archivists did have to hold Anon down as they removed a dime-sized piece of skin from him, but he calmed down after a bandage and salve were applied. With his wounds bound, he made to get up.
  197. “Wait! Aynone!” said Arsofina.
  199. He turned to her with a quizzical look on his face.
  201. Arsofina held out the cup to him. “Y-y-you, uhh… need… n-need to… in, in here… umm…”
  203. She was a wreck. Her hands trembled and beads of sweat began to from on her face. Her palms were already slick with sweat. Anon just stared.
  205. “I don’t know how to get him to do…’that’…” she said
  207. “Oh fine, I’LL show him.” said the sole male archivist.
  209.     Shoving the cup into Anon’s hands, he began to make a masturbating gesture to Anon. Anon’s eyes grew wide as he realized what was being asked of him. He looked around at the other elves, who were all doing their best to avoid his gaze. All except for the old doctor and the archivist.
  211. With a nod, he began to undo his pants.
  213. “NO! NOT HERE YOU IDIOT!” shouted the archivist. The women behind him blushed even harder and Arsofina had to leave the room. The doctor quickly herded Anon into a curtained stall and told the other archivists to follow Arsofina into the lobby.
  215. After fifteen minutes, the Anon reemerged with the doctor close behind.
  217. “Yes, these samples will do nicely. You may take him back, though I recommend you bathe the creature before he touches anything…”
  219. Anon had a blank expression on his face.
  221. “Home now?” he asked
  223. “Yes, home…” said Arsofina, still looking at the floor.
  225. Making certain to stay upwind of Anon, the archivists and Arsofina directed Anon to the showers.
  227. ~~~~~~~~~
  229.     Miles away from Oreath, Madari before a small fire with the other braves of her village. The party of bright-eyed young women had now more than doubled in size. The braves were no strangers to combat either; these were the tribes veterans, the pride of the village. Each had seen combat and emerged victorious. Yamazi had also sent for several shamans, who huddled together in a separate group. Their long robes and unblemished skin was a stark contrast to the near naked, battle scarred bodies of the braves. There was a tense silence, all eyes were pinned at the dwindling flame.
  231. “I am certain the runner informed you as to why you were summoned…” Madari began.
  233. Every amazon in turned to her.
  235. “The human who desecrated the Spring of the Ancestors has been taken in by the elves. Our honor demands that we retrieve him.” continued Madari.
  237. “She also mentioned something about the elves living in a fortified outpost with ten scores of elves.” said an amazon.
  239.     Heads turned to the new speaker, and back to their leader. How the amazons were supposed to take the human back from a fortress of notoriously good archers had been the question on all amazon minds during their trip to the staging ground.
  241. “Our scouts have been observing the town for nearly a week. We have learned the guard’s habits, and have made rough estimates of how many in the town are fit for combat.” said Madari. “The guards themselves appear to be complacent and lazy. No night watchman does not fall asleep at their post. Only thirty guards ever appear to be in armor. A large portion of their population, but dwarfed in size by our force. The real problem is judging what resistance will be encountered inside the city. The elves inside often venture out into the forest to hunt, trap, and forage. If enough of them organize into a militia, they will be difficult to overwhelm, but undisciplined. Our prospects for victory are high.”
  243. The other amazons murmured and chattered in small groups. It seemed that the lack of knowledge of what lay inside the walls was a common sentiment.
  245. “And what of sorcerers?” asked Yamazi.
  247.     Silence fell once more as the tribe eagerly awaited an answer. It was known that the man they had been pursuing was a mage of some sort, but elvish sorcery would pose a serious threat to an invasion force. Haw many casters there were in the city would determine everything about the battle, what angle it would be fought from, what weapons would be used, and how the amazons would form up to attack.
  249. “We... we do not know how many casters reside there, but we know there must be several. Based on what can be seen through the main gate, and what can be seen looking at the rear wall, there is a temple at the back of the city. Certainly, there must be priestesses of the Damned Goddess there.” said Madari.
  251. At the mention of the Damned Goddess, the cloaked shamans began to mutter and curse.
  253. “Surely we can triumph over the elves, but at what cost? Need I remind you that the original war parties original purpose was to raid a human village for husbands? What would become of the tribe if our numbers were thinned to the point where we could no longer wage war on the humans?” said a brave.
  255. “Wise words. We would be fools to assault the town with so much up to chance. What if the entire city is built on sacred ground and most inhabitants are channelers? What if its denizens are all skilled hunters and huntresses, capable of cutting us down before we even reach the wall? If too many of us are to perish, or become too debilitated, our tribe will surely be conquered and incorporated into another tribe!”
  257. “Is it not possible that the elves would simply surrender him over to us? The elves hold nothing but contempt for humans, they may be glad to be rid of him.”
  259. “They find us even more repugnant.”
  261. The campfire was descending into chaos as arguments began erupting all around.
  263. “ENOUGH!” Madari shouted, bringing an end to the din. “While I would enjoy nothing more than plundering an elven city, I cannot ignore the risks we would take as a tribe in doing so. There is no longer enough time to plan our attack; the elves are beginning to suspect something. Already we have had to imprison several of them who stumbled across our camp. Tomorrow morning, we will give the elves a choice; surrender the human to us immediately for the hostages, or fight to the death.”
  265. “That would only give them time to prepare! Our advance will only be hindered further by fortifications!”
  267. “True, they will have time to fortify and prepare, but we will have an opportunity to see exactly what kind of garrison resides inside the walls. If they do not surrender the human, we will attack at sundown after we have made conclusive observations of their strength. Either way, we are certain to achieve our goal.” said Madari.
  269.     The amazons nodded in agreement, looking over to several elves who were tied to trees. The elves’ eyes were full of fear and hatred. One face was full of lust, having already succumb to the amazon’s conversion. Her skin was already darkening, and the first hint of a horn was beginning to part her whitening hair. She wore no gag unlike the other elves, and instead panted lewdly. The male elf she was tied next to was obviously disgusted by the display.
  271. “Are there any objections to this course of action?” asked Madari.
  273. Silence. What was nervous excitement had been replaced with steely determination now that a plan was in place.
  275. “Very well. At day break we will deliver our demands. In the meantime, sharpen your blades and string your bows, I do not suspect that the elves’ pride will permit them to surrender so easily." Madari concluded.
  277. The circle broke and the tribe began to mend their equipment with earnest, chatting amongst themselves about what they wanted to loot most from the city.
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