(Bonus chapter for meeting the Patreon goal.)
After spending an entire day for the recruitment of new members of the mage’s guild of Tobes I expected to rest for a few days while looking over the stone Zedross gave me that is used to check adventurer’s strength.
Unfortunately the next morning as I am preparing to head to the dungeon core room Belinda receives word from Logan about a sighting from the beastkin group at one of the churches of Faron. This church is not one in which we have visited.
It is one that is only a few days away from a location I can [Gate] to, and I can cover that ground on foot rather quickly, so I spend my morning running across the rocky region of Livinston. Once I reach the town I quickly cast [Gate] again, and have Belinda, Zoey, Roxy, and Azami join me.
Belinda: “I can’t believe you ran that far in just a few hours…”
“Being a hero does have a few advantages.”
Roxy: “But even a horse would be exhausted after covering that distance that fast.”
“Well I am nowhere near as fast as a horse, but with my endurance I could probably keep up that speed all day no problem. We better hurry to the church to see what has happened.”
We then head to the local church of Faron, and this one is very small. With only a small shrine and single priest there isn’t even an independent building to use as a church. The priest looks really worried when we approach but is greatly relieved when he finds out who we are.
Priest: “I am so happy you were able to arrive on such short notice!”
“Well this group we are tracking seem pretty dangerous. Are you sure it is the group that the grand cathedral warned about?”
Priest: “I am not sure, they arrived in town a day or two ago, but I haven’t had any dealings with them.”
“They haven’t tried to make contact at all?”
“They usually start trouble right from the start.”
Priest: “There was only four or five of them, so perhaps they are waiting on the others to arrive?”
“Four or five? That doesn’t sound much like them either. Maybe we should just meet with them. This could just be a misunderstanding.”
The priest then begins to worry.
Priest: “I hope I didn’t waste the time of the Archjusticar…”
“No, it’s quite alright, I rather be safe than sorry, so don’t worry about it at all.”
We get the information on the group that has arrived in town and quickly find them behind an on rundown building. I don’t want to start things off on the wrong foot just in case this is a coincidence, so I start of by saying.
“I’m with the church of Faron, are you five alright?”
Dog Beastkin: “I see, so the Archjusticar of the elders is acting as a member of Faron’s church now.”
“Just because a group of beastkin that looked to be down on their luck showed up in town, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions, so that is why I said I was a member of the church.”
Female Cat Beastkin: “So you don’t claim to be a follower of Faron’s then?”
“You haven’t done anything to hurt anyone, so I am willing to just walk away from here. That is if you promise not to hurt anyone and that includes the priest of Faron.”
Dog Beastkin: “You are the one we are here to see, so that all depends on you.”
Mouse Beastkin: “You have been appointed the position of Archjusticar just as has been planned, and now it is time for you to use your ability for the old gods.”
“I don’t care what the old gods want, if it really is them behind this, but threatening lives is not a way to get me to do what they want.”
Dog Beastkin: “This task is simple, you just have to use 3 of your justicar points and give a boon to dungeon core #1 Maric.”
“How do you know of that?”
Female Cat Beastkin: “We know that in which the old gods have instructed us to know.”
“Why Maric? Is he the one that summoned you all?”
Dog Beastkin: “No. He is about to perform a task in which coincides with the wishes of the old gods. Three justicar points is enough to change the task from a failure to a success.”
“And what task is that?”
Female Cat Beastkin: “Have faith in the old gods, and prove to them you are no pawn of the dungeon core elders.”
“I won’t put any faith into those who kill people for no reason.”
Mouse Beastkin: “There is always a reason. Just because you don’t know of it does not mean it does not exist.”
“I am not doing anything unless I know the reason why.”
Dog Beastkin: “You have two days to grant Dungeon Core #1 Maric a boon before it becomes too late. If he fails it will serve as your answer.”
“You can have my answer now. I will not grant Maric a boon without an explanation.”
Mouse Beastkin: “You have two days. Perhaps Dungeon Core #1 Maric will tell you what his plan is.”
Female Cat Beastkin: “Then again he does not like you, so perhaps not.”
The beastkin who are all lounging around now stand and start to gather together.
“What are you doing?”
Dog Beastkin: “Remember two days.”
The two beastkin that haven’t talked yet now cast spells causing the entire group to burst into flames.
I quickly cast a water spell trying to put out the flames, but by the time the flames are put out only one of the beastkin is still alive, but only long enough for her to reach for us with an expression of terror on her face.
Belinda and I both quickly try to cast a healing spell, but she is already too far gone and the last of the beastkin then dies.
Belinda: “This doesn’t make any sense! Why are they doing this?”
“I don’t know… We need to talk to Dyson and Madam Erin.”
I send a message to both of them telling them it is important that we meet about Faron’s task and within 30 minutes we have arrived at the neutral zone.
Madam Erin: “What is it pup. Even if you are the Archjusticar to the Elders we are not at our beck and call.”
“There has been a development on Faron’s task. I met with another group of beastkin that claim to serve the old gods, they killed themselves again when they were finished talking, but what they said was quite troubling.”
Dyson: “And what was that?”
“First, did you two tell anyone about the options available to my [Archjusticar Menu]?”
Madam Erin: “Of course not.”
“Well they knew about it, and said in an indirect way there will be trouble if I don’t give Maric a boon worth 3 justicar points within 2 days.”
Dyson: “None of that makes any sense, are you saying Maric is behind this?”
“They don’t really give you any clear answers when they talk to you… They just said Maric is about to do something in two days and a boon worth 3 justicar points would be enough to turn it from a failure to a success. They said they were not summoned by Maric, but whatever it is Maric is doing supposedly falls in line with what the old gods want.”
Madam Erin: “I think the quickest way to get to the bottom of this is to call in Maric, so that he might be able to straighten this out.”
Dyson: “I say to hell with them. We don’t do anything and Maric fails at whatever he is trying to do, and the ones causing harm to Faron don’t get what they want. I say it’s a win win situation.”
Madam Erin: “You’re not the least bit curious about what Maric is up to?”
Dyson: “I have my [Observation].”
“There is also the chance they told us about whatever Maric is doing, just to draw our attention to it.”
Dyson: “Well it sounds to me like a problem for the Archjusticar. We didn’t have you join us to cause us more problems. We had you join us to take care of them for us.”
Something seems to catch Madam Erin’s eye, and after what appears to be her reading a screen she say. “Fine, we will leave it up to the Archjusticar then. If you do decide to call a meeting with Maric you are free to use the neutral zone.”
“You are going to just leave it all up to me…?”
Madam Erin: “Your task was to stop the attacks on Faron’s secondary dungeons, and whatever this is going on with Maric is your problem.”
Dyson then seems pleased as he nods.
“You are saying you don’t care if the group of beastkin claiming to serve the old gods does something horrible, or that Maric is planning something just as bad?”
Madam Erin: “It does us no good to coddle you, this is the reason we appointed you the Archjusticar in the first place.”
“I was told I would do tasks for the elders. I didn’t agree to face off against the old gods…”
Dyson: “By the way you described it to us, it was you they wanted to begin with, and it has nothing to do with the elders at all.”
Madam Erin: “If you do speak to Maric remember you are to act as a representative of the elders, so behave as such. Don’t forget to keep us informed as well.”
Dyson nods again and then places his hand on Madam Erin’s shoulder and he teleports them both from the room.
Belinda: “After everything they are just going to abandon you like this now…?”
“I don’t know if it was Dyson that sent her a message or what, but Madam Erin’s attitude about it changed quickly after reading that message she received.”
Belinda: “You don’t think that they already know what is going on do you?”
“I don’t know, but one thing is for sure we won’t know what is going on till we at least contact Maric…”
I decide to send Maric a message
Dungeon Core #1 [Maric], you are requested to attend a meeting with Dungeon Core #212 [Archjusticar —— Gowen], and if you refuse no actions will be taken against you, but no assistance will be provided by the Archjusticar. No response by end of day will be taken as a refusal to attend.
Dungeon Core #212 [Archjusticar —— Gowen]
I don’t know how Maric will react to the message but I don’t have to wait long before I receive a response.
Maric: (Who do you think you are demanding someone such as myself to drop everything I am doing to meet with you?)
(I am the Archjusticar of the Elders, so I need a response. I will add that refusal would not be in your best interest if you have any wish to succeed with the plan you are working on.)
I then open [Archjusticar Menu] and go to Maric’s information and look in on the screen that shows what it is he is doing. He is sitting in a chair in a rundown building dressed in clothing not fitting to a dungeon core of his age and strength. His appearance is more fitting on one of the beastkins that claim to follow the old gods, and he seems to be agitated as he reads my response.
Maric’s dungeon is in Sarnova Outland, but based on his location on the visible map he is way down south on the Merretta/Southern Merretta border. He seems to be thinking hard before he sends me a response.
Maric: “Where it is you wish to meet?”
I haven’t tried it before since acquiring the [Archjusticar Menu] but between the map and the visual on the screen I should be able to use [Gate] to get to his exact location. I cast [Gate] which startles Maric as I see it appear a few feet from him, I then send him a message to step through.
Once Maric steps though the portal the first thing he says is. “How did you…” He then realizes where he has arrived. “What are we doing here?”
“First of all I might not be an Elder, but being the Archjusticar of the Elders does have its perks. Now as to the reason you are here. I have it on information that you are planning something big. I am also told that your chance of success or not solely rests in my hands.”
Maric: “That is impossible, how is it someone like you capable of helping me?!”
“How or why is not important, but what is important if you wish to succeed I need to know exactly what it is you are planning.”
Maric: “After everything you have done to me, why would I have any reason to trust you?”
“I am sure by now you heard what happened to me, so you should also know if it is the destruction of the dungeon cores you trained that you are referring to then Laura was the one to blame, and not me.”
Maric: “And yet you are the one that benefited from it.”
Belinda: “He lost all his memories! How can you call that a benefit!?”
Maric: “And yet here he is ordering around a dungeon core a hundred times his age and experience.”
“The truth is you have no reason to trust me the same way I have no reason to trust you. I don’t even trust the information that I got saying I am capable of helping you, but by your reaction to me knowing about whatever it is you have planned, they were at least right about that much. Do you really want to risk the chance of them being right about you failing without my help?”
Maric: “Then you don’t even have a clue what it is I am trying to do?”
“You are right I don’t, but you can be sure that now that Dyson knows something is going on he is going to be watching.”
Maric: “So what is it you think you can do to help me?”
“I don’t know exactly, but there is an option available to me as the Archjusticar to assist you, but I don’t even know if I am willing to help you unless you tell me what it is you plan on doing. Like I said I don’t trust the ones that gave me this information about you either.”
Maric: “Just who is it you are getting your information from then?”
“They claim to be servants of the old gods, and say whatever it is you are planning is a means to help the old gods.”
Maric: “Old gods… And you believe such nonsense?”
“I have seen too much to not believe in at least the existence of the old gods, and the group I spoke to has got to be getting their information from somewhere, and if not the old gods, then at least someone that has more information than even the Elders possess.”
Maric seems to be thinking about it.
“You seemed bothered I found out about it before you executed your plan, but it didn’t seem to bother you that Dyson would be watching.”
Maric: “I was surprised you were able to find out about it that is all… This isn’t a matter of concern to the elders, so of course I am not worried about Dyson. Draco might not like it, but I doubt he would even kick up a fuss.”
“If it really is of no concern of the elders why are you so hesitant to tell me?”
Maric: “Fine, I plan on subjugating a demi-human race in the area. If I can at least get enough of them to breed I will be able to summon them myself.”
“Why would the old gods be interested in that?”
Maric: “I don’t even believe your “old gods” even exist, so your guess would be as good as mine.”
“Well I don’t like the sound of you subjugating a race, I am guessing if you can make them join your dungeon that means they must be sentient.”
Maric: “You have never heard of the dragonkin of south Merretta?”
“Dragonkin… If that is what you are after I can summon dragonkin.”
Maric: “I have heard of your dragonkin, and yes maybe someday their evolutionary line might reach that of the dragonkin of south Merretta, but you are centuries away from reaching that level.”
“Well if they are sentient creatures, I will not help you subjugate them, but if you want to try to convince some of them to join your dungeon of their own wills I might be willing to assist you.”
Maric: -laughs.- “Convince a dragonkin…? After they eat you then what? You really are clueless. I don’t see how the elders ever thought you were a good idea…”
Belinda: “I haven’t heard of the dragonkin of Merretta, but do you mean the dragons of Merretta?”
Maric: “Ignorant human. Only a human would call a dragonkin a dragon.”
“If humans can confuse these dragonkin as dragons, they really must be different then what I can summon… If they really are that strong what is your plan for subjugating them?”
Maric: “I am not wearing this filth because it’s comfortable. Their nest has never been discovered, but they have been known to swoop in and carry off human slaves and other unprepared humans, so I was planning on making myself the perfect target.”
“And after they take you, then what? You plan then to beat the entire lot of them into submission?”
Maric: “They are quite strong, but let’s face it they are nowhere near my level.”
“Well I have no desire to help you subjugate a race or help the followers of the old gods, so I will return you to where I picked you up at.”
Maric: “What about them telling you to help me succeed?”
“I thought you didn’t believe in the old gods?”
Maric: “I don’t, but even if the chances are next to nil, if there is something you really can do to help me. Well then I am not about let a chance like that pass me by.”
“I won’t help you subjugate a sentient race, so it doesn’t matter.”
Maric: “After pulling me in for a meeting with no prior warning, holding me here while you interrogate me for no reason, and now you say you are going to send me on my way like it is no big deal? You owe me for at least taking up my time.”
“As the Archjusticar my priorities are different than that of the elders, and I am just doing what I was set out to do. I don’t mind owing you a small favor if that is your concern, but if you plan on threatening me I can hinder your goal just as easily as helping it.”
Maric: “If these “Old Gods” of yours would have had to of known how you would react, so if it is possible for you to help, perhaps it will be in a way that would no longer require me to have to subjugate the dragonkin.”
“For sounding so confident before, you seem to be back peddling a lot now. Besides they are not my old gods, they already have done things that seem counterproductive to getting me to assist them. In truth I agree with what Dyson told me, and that was to so forget about it, but after what Laura did I felt I owed it to you to at least hear you out.”
Maric: “Then how about we just make a deal then. If your assistance helps me complete my goal, then when I am able to summon the dragonkin perhaps I can give you one. I know enough about you to know that would allow you to summon them as well correct?”
“If you will give me time to think about it.”
Maric: “The dragonkin could find me at anytime, so you have until then to make up your mind.”
I then cast [Gate] returning Maric to where I found him.
Belinda: “Are you going to do it?”
“I wanted to talk it over with all of you first.”
Belinda: “I hate to agree with anything Dyson says, but he may have been right. We don’t owe Maric or the followers of the old gods anything… If anything we shouldn’t do it just on the principle of it.”
“I tend to agree, but we just don’t know how big of a threat the followers of the old gods really pose.”
Belinda: “We can’t just give into their threats either.”
Azami: “There is merit to accepting the deal as well. A dragonkin of that strength would add quite a bit of power to the dungeon, not to mention it would allow you to summon them as well.”
“We can’t base our decision solely on the fact it will benefit us, because that is a slippery path to start going down.”
Belinda: “What about getting a dungeon that can already summon them to give Maric a few, surely that has to be easier than doing it this way.”
“Maric will have to spend ten times their xp cost to make the dragonkin part of his dungeon so once they breed he can begin summoning them. Trading would be a far easier, and cheaper, so I think if he could have done it he would have.”
Belinda: “I don’t know how long dragonkin live, but the legends of the dragons of Merretta go back hundreds of years, so maybe they already belong to the dungeon, that would mean it wouldn’t cost him anything to transfer ownership right?”
“If that was the case he would have to have the consent of the dungeon they belong to before he could claim them.”
Belinda: “You never met Moss’s or Lilah’s dungeon core, so how did you manage it.”
Azami: “I believe that is due to selling them as slaves. Even if they remain bound to the dungeon for a time, selling them as slaves shows an intention of giving up ownership.”
Belinda: “What about Aria? Queen sold her as a slave but it never happened with her.”
“I think that has to do with intention as well. Queen only sold Aria to put her in the path of Doug to begin with. She had no intention of getting rid of her just using her status as a slave as a means to an end. I think we are starting to stray from the topic though.”
Belinda: “I see… Well I still think the followers of the old gods said that Maric will fail without our help so I think on the moral ground of keeping the dragonkin from being enslaved we shouldn’t help him.”
“They said Maric would fail, but they didn’t say what that might mean. It could be he can’t get any of them to join him, so he has to kill them all. I don’t think Maric is worried at all about his safety or he wouldn’t be doing this alone, so I am worried that Maric failing might be even worse for the dragonkin.”
Belinda: “You don’t really think he would kill them all do you?”
“If no other dungeon core can summon dragonkin like that, and they will not accept Maric as a master, I can easily see him making sure nobody else can either.”
Belinda: “Then what do we do…? The followers of the old gods obviously care very little for the cost of life, even killing themselves after speaking to us each time, so I hate to see them get their way, but…”
Zoey: “Any way you want to do it boss, I am right there with you.”
Roxy: “Well I think we should help Maric. We have no shortage of people that don’t like us as it is, and not helping Maric will only increase that number. Helping Maric on the other hand we have the chance to mending things with Maric, keeping the followers of the old gods off our backs, at least for a while, and we can gain the benefit of eventually getting a powerful monster from Maric to protect the dungeon.”
“What do you say Belinda? After what happened with Alex, I don’t want to do this unless you are on board as well.”
Belinda: “Roxy makes a good point… But can we at least get Maric to not kill all of the dragonkin?”
“Maric said the dragonkin were not much for conversation, but we can at least try.”
Belinda: “Then I trust you to do what you think is best.”
I hate to have to call Maric back so soon again, but this time when I message him he doesn’t seem as angry about it and tells me to set up the portal.
After he arrives back at the neutral zone he says. “Deciding to not help me would be as simple as sending a message, but I assume calling me back here you have agreed to help?”
“There are concerns, so I would like to make some conditions. For one, I don’t want any unnecessary loss of life.”
Maric: “You must be awfully confident in this ability of yours, either that or you are truly clueless on just how strong these dragonkin are. They are not going to join me willingly, but if it is possible I will do as you ask.”
“Also, from now till the time you can summon them on your own could be years away, so I would like an agreement to be established to make sure you don’t back out of the deal.”
Maric: “A typical magical contract should be no problem.”
“Lastly there are the concerns about the old gods. I don’t know why they want you to have the ability to summon dragonkin, or what their goal is, but as part of the agreement, if the old gods, or their followers contact you in any way I want you to inform me about it.”
Maric: “I have no use for the old gods.”
“Then informing me if they make contact with you shouldn’t be a problem.”
Maric: “Fine, but this all comes back to just how useful this ability of yours truly is.”
I then use [Menu] to make a contract and after Maric agrees, and signs I do as well causing the parchment to light up then split into two copies. I then access [Archjusticar Menu] and apply a 3 point boon to Maric.
Archjusticar has granted Dungeon Core #1 [Maric] a boon. Dungeon Core #1 [Maric] has been granted the skill Demi-human Confidant (Rank 3) permanently unless boon is revoked by the Archjusticar.
I then look up the skill on Maric’s information page, and finding it amongst the hundreds of skills he possesses it truly shows the difference between us.
Demi-human Confidant (Rank 3): Any sentient humanoid race finds you inherently trustworthy. At rank 1 it prevents attack solely based on race. At rank 2 while still being treated as an outsider any sentient humanoid race in which you can communicate will attempt dialogue. At rank 3 sentient humanoid races will find you as a curiosity and may forgive minor disagreements.
After Maric seems to read the effects of the skill he says. “It really does seem you are trying to do this without hostility.”
“I have no control over what is granted, but this should work to give you want you want.”
Maric: “The disagreements between the dragonkin and others are hardly minor, but we shall see. I guess this means your assistance can easily be determined by if I am able to acquire my dragonkin without fighting.”
“If a fight breaks out it would get harder to tell if the skill had any effect, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible either. As long as you do acquire your pair of dragonkin I think the matter is still up to discussion.”
Maric: “Well we shall see.”
After sending Maric back to where he was for a second time the girls and I then head back to the house. As soon as I arrive I receive a message.
New Skill Available
Demi-human Confidant Cost: 25,000xp
If granting skills with the [Archjusticar Menu] makes them available this might become quite helpful in the future.
We then let the others return home while Belinda rests her head on my chest.
Belinda: “Are you sure we did the right thing?”
“I think we did the best we could.”
Belinda: “I know, but I just don’t know if it was enough.”
“Until we gain more power that is all we can do.”
Belinda: “So now do we just have to wait and see what happens next?”
“It seems that way. We did what the old gods asked so they should back off, and unless they lied to us Maric should run into the dragonkin in two days. I think till then waiting is all we can do.”
Belinda doesn’t seem too keen on turning me loose, and the only other plan I had was to check on that stone that the mage’s guild left me, so I decide not to fight it and spend the rest of the day relaxing with Belinda.