Marty was getting seriously worried about Kevin… Practically everyone said that the dark powers were incredibly corrosive – mentally, spiritually, and physically – and Kevin seemed to be getting increasingly erratic. Taking random children under his wing, handing out lifetime Thrall-grants at a whim, and suddenly changing the behavior patterns of decades, was troubling. Physically the kid seemed to be capable of handling almost anything – but did that apply to his mind?
What COULD be done if Kevin went mad? He hated to say it, but the Core Military might have a point there. If the kid started unleashing the full power of the darkness all the time… It would be a lot worse than Zero melting down Manhattan!
Well, it was still possible that it was just that something had upset him. There had to be a layer of teenage angst under there somewhere. That was pretty much standard issue for every teenager. It was worth looking into that before he started worrying about the boy’s sanity.
That was why he’d asked his Thralls to investigate what had been going on in the other worlds where Kevin maintained a presence.
He was with Angkor of course, and nothing much had happened to upset HIM. Angkor was a lot more violently physical than Kevin usually was of course, but Kevin had seemed to be reveling in the role until very recently – and nothing much had gone wrong on their current adventures; the only casualty had been that idiot phantasm…
Kadia was easy, but of course nothing much had happened to upset Kevin THERE. There wasn’t much that COULD happen to upset him there short of an invasion by other gods.
Imperial Rome was easy enough; the place was busy extending its roads out into the manifold and linking itself to the other major historical empires. The tendency for any unhappy masses to wander off into infinity and be replaced by contented phantasms stabilized most realms and borders pretty effectively. There were a few mad emperors and such out there who refused to play nice, but those were mostly just being isolated for the moment. It wasn’t like Caligula’s little “Roman Empire” had EVER been popular.
Nothing much seemed to have been happening over in the English Fantasy Zone… A string of recent resets and world-splits had made sure of that.
The anime realms were running about frantically as always, and Kevin had been spending a fair amount of time there recently – but it seemed to be just recreational.
Crusader… Crusader had split into Crusader-Traditional and Crusader-Core, but both seemed to be going along pretty much as usual. Besides… Kevin didn’t hang around there much any more.
Wait, Kevin spent a LOT of time in the Dragonworlds, even if he didn’t talk about it much. While he didn’t have a lot of sources in the Dragonworlds, he could send a Thrall or two to visit and interview the staff readily enough. None of the Thralls wanted Kevin upset…
Oh wait! He could have someone talk to Eogam too, the kid had plenty of Dragonworld connections to pull on.
Ok… So the Emperor had inspected the school and made it mandatory. A bit later Kevin had visited the Emperor to take him some newly-conditioned servants and drop off some processing machines. He’d apparently accepted an invitation to dinner while he was there – and then had teleported back tot he school looking quite ill. Once he’d gotten back he’d disintegrated his body and made a new one. The Thralls there thought that maybe somebody had poisoned him with something really awful.
Wait, what?!?!? Making a new body was a lot of trouble! And painful! Kevin had just BEEN through that! Why would he…
Something had left him feeling so unclean that he didn’t want to inhabit that body any longer?
“He hadn’t set foot outside his personal holdings since? And seemed to have a lot less enthusiasm than usual for his draconic pursuits and harem-building?”
Marty put out secondary queries for incidents involving dragons and Kevin over the last few weeks.
There was one in Kadia proper. One ensouled, and thirteen phantasmal, hysterical dragon hatchlings (one of each color) had shown up in Kadia in one mornings resurrection – and had been given one-week amnesia treatments by Kevin’s direct order… According to the Concubines, Kevin had promptly adopted the one with a soul – instead of just keeping it as a slave or Thrall – and had put the others directly into his “get hatchlings souls” program instead of just sending them back to his dragon-school.
Kevin hadn’t been willing to talk about the incident with any of the girls in the harem either.
Huh. He really needed to get that “be in more than one place at a time” power figured out like Kevin had. It would let him investigate this kind of thing a lot more easily! Still, sending thrall-investigators wasn’t a bad substitute.
So… Almost certainly something really and TRULY nasty had happened on the Dragonworlds. The timing and blatant draconic involvement was just too close for coincidence. Since then, Kevin had gotten really erratic and extravagant – and not a little distracted.
To the point where he thought that a kid was getting a raw deal and promptly gave him a lifetime grant of Thrall-services as a consolation prize.
Well, the good news was that it probably wasn’t darkness-corrosion. The bad news was that it meant that some truly nasty bastard had managed to hurt the boy emotionally pretty badly (that would take some doing, he was pretty resilient) – but it was better than him being overwhelmed by his power.
The focus seemed to be that dinner invitation. The hatchlings might well be connected, but the amnesia treatments might block off that route of investigation – and it seemed that they hadn’t been wearing or carrying anything except slave-collars. There had been a lot of hysterical crying however… According to a few witnesses, the hatchlings were mostly screaming things like “No! No!
Wait, wasn’t everything in Kadia recorded?
The recordings were classified? Well, that was one of the things that having full access was good for…
They were mostly incoherent, but there was something like “don’t eat me!” mixed in there with all the pleading.
(Marty) “Don’t eat me?” What the hell? Now I know that realm is pretty harsh, but… no. No.”
He listened a few more times to make sure that he’d heard that part right.
(Marty) “Oh great. They’re cannibals.”
So they hadn’t been gated in. Kevin must have set up an overlay with the dragonrealms shortly before they died to save them – ergo, he’d wanted to save them, and hadn’t been able to.
So; the Emperor had served living hatchlings for dinner, and of course Kevin couldn’t refuse without consequences. Even worse if he’d agreed to join the Emperor for a meal, and had to stick with that agreement. That was a downside of “bound by your agreements” that he’d never considered.
He send out more agents – and had to wait.
Past imperial menus were not exactly high-security items. It was easy enough to confirm his deductions.
Well… Shit! Poor kid, and him being a new father too!
What to do? It was no wonder that he was off on being a dragon! And overreacting to kids!
He needed to consult a psychiatrist – and to overthrow the current dragon emperor! And not Corrigan, either! The last thing he needed right now was somebody trying to assassinate Kevin through psychiatric drugs!
He started looking up psychiatrists.
The Core Computers were REALLY good at counseling – but they did note that this was something of a unique trauma. Forced living infant draconic cannibalism by a new dragon-shapeshifter father wasn’t much of a problem in Core… The computers requested as many details as possible – which soon enough turned up the exact procedure.
His Thrall-agent looked rather sick as he described the meal… Marty was somewhat sick too. Even in Battling Business World there were STANDARDS for disciplining your kids, and they certainly didn’t include cannibalism! Much less ripping chunks out of living kids who are being kept alive magically and eating them while they watched!
That left him pissed. Kevin had been doing the Emperor a favor, and the bastard had put him through the wringer. There was evil and then there was STUPID. Even dingbats like Ming the Merciless repaid favors because it meant that the favors would keep on coming! You didn’t kick your benefactors in the face! He didn’t care if Kevin had interests in the Dragonrealms! That Emperor needed to be taught a lesson!
Show him what it felt like? Nah, that was gross – and he was trying to cut back on the violence. Besides, it wouldn’t really help things. Maybe install a metallic before the cycle turned somehow?
It wasn’t like Kevin would interfere. He was traumatized badly enough that he wasn’t even sticking his nose outside of his own holdings there, where he could ensure that things like that DID NOT HAPPEN.
Still firmly in the shades of gray then. That would do on Kevin’s end.
As far as the Dragonworlds went… Well, he’d been a green dragon a couple of times, and it had been fun. Maybe he needed to be one again and do a little personal investigation? Overthrowing the Emperor was going to be a project though.
Still, if he managed to pull off the multipresence trick, he’d have plenty of time to work on it.
Besides… the Dragon Empire was a potential problem. The Number Lords couldn’t really venture into rational realms, dragons on the other hand… With high-end magical, technological, psychic, and physical power at their disposal, there were a LOT of realms they could raid or attempt to conquer.
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 158 – Parental Concerns (ruscumag.wordpress.com)