Federation-Apocalypse 167 – Sights To See While Golem Out

Raphael was livening up the parties more scholarly discussions by using the thralls and his own abilities to give low-level demonstrations of other magical systems, and discussing their various advantages and limitations. Things like channeling were good for creating specific high-order effects, psychic powers were good for subtlety and ease of use, innate enchantments for being able to work perpetually, and rune magic was good for specific fields.

Yes, the local magical style was quite flexible, and generally COULD do almost anything that you wanted, there were some things that were easier to do in other ways.

He got quite a lot of invitations to speak at the local schools and magical colleges. Well, he did want to do some local research, and having a reputation was good for getting funding and supplies!

Kevin had contemplated Raphael’s little show for a minute or so – but it reminded him far far too much of the CANINE party, with the endless jockeying for social position. Like it or not, parties tended to involve intoxicants and socializing! (OK, there might be some species where they didn’t, but all of the human variants he’d ever seen did). Academic discussions might be an indirect method of showing off your magical power around here, but there was still only so far that theory would take you! After a bit everyone would either be drunk or wrapped up in business of their own.

He, of course, continued to circulate, waiting to be approached by the local power-brokers or by visitors from the greater Manifold and passing the time by chatting up any pretty, unattached, cat-girls and giving casual gifts to kids.

He was prepared to provide explanations as well – after all, the Wolf-Matron was getting them anyway – but there weren’t any of those yet. Evidently the cats were a lot more independent about making decisions like that.

Hm. It looked like the sheer novelty of Raphael’s demonstrations were drawing more of a crowd than he would have expected. Quite a few people stopped to watch, and then more showed up to see what all the fuss was about, and shortly there was quite a crowd – even if some of the ones in back were mostly just asking what was going on.

It was the liveliest scholarly discussion to be seen in some time! The talk of the party!

It got even more interesting when one of the better local mages got upset with the notion that foreign magical systems might be in any way superior to the divinely-ordained theurgical system that HE – and all other PROPER mages – were using!

He demanded a mage duel to settle the matter.

Raphael really didn’t see what that would “settle”- after all, the differences in skill would likely swamp the advantages and disadvantages of the systems in use in any single encounter – but presumably the local customs allowed him (as the challenged party) to define some of the terms of the duel (he’d never heard of a system that worked otherwise). Still…

(Raphael) “I am not too well informed of the local traditions. What does this duel entail and why should I bother with it?”

Oh wait! He could just divine the answer to that anyway!

(Cheetah Mage) “Well it’s simple, we agree to a number of rules like “no lethal magics” the City Mages enact a barrier enforcing the rules and to protect the others from misfires, and then we trade spells until the victory condition is met. It might be knocking the other unconscious or the one best able to impress a judge. As for why you should accept a duel, I would have thought it obvious that you might want to defend your honor when I claim that your magics are not worth bothering decent folk with.”

Meanwhile, Kevin was approached by a leopard mage who wanted the services of some of those magical-child assistants he was using – and by a Tiger merchant with questions about the alliance with the Platypus Trading Company.

Well, he was certainly willing to discuss either renting out assistants or training children – but the leopard was mostly interested in renting (although he could provide a few kids for training if that was how “Angkor” did things, but he’d much prefer to bypass that difficulty). Well, THAT was easy enough!

Hm… He mostly wanted magical aides for his business and research, and would prefer six (although it was obvious that he wasn’t likely to get them). Well, they were sort of interested in opening the local markets and contacts… Kevin set him up with six for a week of slightly-limited services (nothing suicidal, abusive, reality-damaging or otherwise wildly destructive, or criminal) for a token payment on prospectus – with longer-term arrangements to be discussed later depending on whether or not he found them useful. He’d send them over in the morning…

The mage was quite pleased. He hadn’t expected terms even remotely that generous.

Raphael’s divination revealed that usually a challenge was made, then the challenged got to pick the nature of the duel (i.e. type of spells/objective) and then the pair decided upon a number of rules on how to engage the duel. The City Guard was then informed, and sent mages to watch over and enforce the rules of the duel. They could even judge the results if that was the style of duel agreed to. Anything from magical cooking face-offs to trading destruction spells had been done in the past – although the guards seriously frowned upon duels like “cause the most damage while bypassing the wards” – and “who could destroy the universe quickest” REALLY got stomped on – and usually involved the death penalty if there was even the slightest hint that you thought that you knew how.

(Raphael) “I think the magic can speak for itself, but why not? My divination Rune vs whatever you deem appropriate for challenging it, either defending against it directly where I try to identify things about random things in the environment you name and shield or competing to get information say telling everything about the same local object chosen by a judge. since that is what you are talking about.”

(Cheetah) “Very well then, let us summon the guards and begin this duel!”

The guards turned up quickly; they were keeping a careful eye on Kevin and company anyway – and were most relieved at the announcement it was to be a duel of divination. That made the duel-wards a lot easier to manage. The odds of a rogue divination or cloaking spell escaping to destroy the city were fairly small!

That didn’t mean that it couldn’t be bloody inconvenient though. They still put up the wards – using alchemical powders to lay out the circle, drawing various outside of it, and taking up stations at each quarter to power it up and contain the forces which were about to be unleashed – or at least which might be if either of the mages involved lost their tempers.

The prospect of a mage-duel initially drew a lot of partygoers – most of whom drifted away as they realized that it was going to be a duel of divination. Still, you never knew how entertaining such things would get! They might wind up poking into the private lives of famous people or answering questions from bystanders!

A few tried to ensure that, but proposing that the private lives of powerful and famous people be the topic to be divined about!

The usual choices were a single spell each, three spells traded, or as many spells as they could fire off in a given timeframe as measured by an external reference.

(Raphael) “Three spells traded sounds good enough. speed casting would be totally unfair and say nothing about the utility of the style over my personal powers… Would you like me to do it with my hands bound and silently… this style does not require much to do that.”

OK, that might limit things a bit – but he was pretty sure that it would limit theurgy a lot more.

(Cheetah) “If you wish to impose such a handicap upon yourself, go ahead.”

(Judge) “Very well then, I shall now pick three targets to be used sequentially for this. Anyone in the crowd have any interesting suggestions for targets?”

(Bystander) “Who the creator gods are currently sleeping with!”

(Judge, sighing) “And how would the results be checked?”

(A young Cheetah) “Where the nearest unclaimed buried treasure on public ground can be found!”

(A middle-aged Tigress) “The secret of Immortality!”

(Judge, crossly) “It’s NOT DYING – and do you want to volunteer to check the answer?”

(An older idiot) “Whether my wife is cheating on me!”

There was a moments appreciation for what HIS home life was going to be like for awhile, but he was otherwise ignored.

(Crowd) “What’s for dessert? What’s the Clan Patron’s middle name? Will I ever find true love? Which magical academy will be the next to unleash disaster?”

(Judges) “Things that can be conveniently checked within the next hour please!”

(Lynx Girl) “That great cake recipe that Tirvioles uses!”

Tirvioles? Oh, one of the local eateries.

(Raphael) “No I think it would take too long to set restraints up. but silence is easy and easily checked.”

(Crowd) “What have I got in my pockets! The True Name of Abarxua the Impaler who haunts the southern pass! Where my two brats have run off to this time!”

Kevin hoped that they didn’t pick that one! It could be annoying if they had run off to Kadia.

(Judge) “All right, how about we go for the nearest unclaimed buried treasure on public land, the middle name of the Clan Patron – if he agrees – and the contents of my colleagues’s pockets. I will award bonus points if either of you can also divine the True Name of Abaruxa the Impaler though.

(Cheetah) “That will be acceptable.”

(Raphael) “Sounds good to me”

The Cheetah kid who’d proposed the treasure-hunt grinned and got some speed-boosting spells, a teleport spell, and some digging spells, ready as power words!

(Raphael) “Nearest by distance or by travel time? And just the pockets he is currently wearing or should I include the contents of his laundry too?”

(Judge) “I would say by distance – and I would prefer to keep it to the contents of the pockets he is currently wearing. I would rather avoid rifling through his laundry if I could. Earl is a bit of a messy eater.”

(Earl) “Hey!”

(Judge) “Now then, shall we begin? Let us start with the Clan Patron’s middle name since it will be a simple enough one to verify.”

The Cheetah kid was now setting up a spell to boost his reactions, and another to prevent interference with his teleporting, and another subtle one of some sort – but then so were at least one or two other partygoers.

(Judge) “I believe we shall go with both of you casting, then writing down your answers and giving them to me. The Clan Patron will inform us of his middle name and I will show both your answers.”

Raphael cast silently just to prove that he could – and got Hubert, named after his great uncle Hubert who led the defense of the southern gate when it was attacked by a pair of rogue mages 63 years ago.

Hm. That might be a cheap tie for his opponent there; he was in the cat clan, and might well know that anyway.

(Judge) “And now that we have the answers, let us see what the Patron’s middle name is, if you please?”

(Patron) “Wiliford Hubert Borleges. I prefer Will or Patron Borleges though.”

(Judge) “And tell us, what were your father’s and grandfather’s middle names, and who were you named after?”

(Patron) “My father’s was Cecil, and my grandfather’s was Lyle. I was named after my great grandfather Wiliford and my great uncle Hubert.”

Raphael had the middle name and origin, while the Cheetah had the three middle names of the patron, his father, and grandfather.

(Judge) “I think we have a tie on that round.”

(Crowd) “Boo! Yah! Featherhead! Couldn’t outdo a Fox huh? What a boring duel! I knew THAT! Who suggested that question? Switch to fireballs! Switch to butterflies!

(Judge) “Now, shall we continue to the content’s of my colleagues’s pockets? (The Judge turned to his colleague – and found him to be ridiculously padded with things stuffed into his pockets. He looked more spherical than humanoid.) Earl, is that really necessary?”

(Earl) “Hey, can’t let it be easy on them! I’ve been telling you that random junk spell would come in handy!”

(Judge) “All right, I think we may have to go with the most complete inventory either of you can provide. Hmm should I go by weight, by volume, or by quantity?”

(Crowd) “Quantity! Alphabetical Order! Edibility! Order of Value! Size!

(Judge) “All right, I am hearing the most calls for quantity I think. Let us go with that.”

Raphael was saving the big impressive spell for last, and simply went for a direct scan… Lots of species appropriate food, several books on a wide variety of subjects, lots of sporting equipment, a blacksmith’s forge and anvil, a large cauldron, camping gear, several spare sets of clothes, a grand piano and accompanying instruments, a conductors stand, a statue of the cat clan’s head, a giant hairball, a map, a list of well rated restaurants, a wand, thirty coins, marbles, paper, a talking music box, a disco gem, and a spellbook.

He composed a long list sorted by size.

The Cheetah didn’t do so well that round; he ended up misidentifying the type of muffins, and miscounting the number of marbles.

The judges ruled that THAT was a narrow win for Raphael this round.

Of course, the next one was a bit vague… Was a single unclaimed coin “treasure” or did it have to be a big chest of gold or something? Useful magic? Perhaps a new mine? Presumably it should be something a bit bigger than lost change.

Meanwhile, Marty was considering that legal summons… Legal cases were fun! You got to fight it out with the opposing witnesses!

Well, maybe not outside of battling business world, but it might still be fun! Which New York was it? The Jesus Realms? Oh yeah! The one with cool bar, where they built the persona-soul chip for Limey! Not too bad of a place as long as you could pay for your resurrection… Well, a summons was bound to happen eventually with what Kevin was doing.

Kevin was kind of looking forward to it too. They had retained some local lawyers – although he was hoping that Marty, who had more experience with law than he did, had some ideas for precedents beyond traditional demonic pacts.

Sadly, Marty didn’t; people from Battling Business World made bad slaves unless you drugged them to the gills – although he did suggest mentioning that they remained in full control of their minds and bodies (other than what the bond did to them, of course). There was a lot of anti-slavery stuff that might help in researching the defense though. Sort of a counterpoint strategy.

They’d probably have to check with the lawyers – and perhaps challenge their definitions of “death”. About that “enslaving the living”… Did the souls actually depart? Did it count that most of their residents had already died elsewhere? Did it matter that most of their precedents, and the basis of their legal system, were fictional parts of a history that never happened?

At what point would the trial become a philosophical debate? Considering that most of the action was out of their jurisdiction – and that their laws probably didn’t cover soulbonds anyway – it might well start out that way. Still, it might actually be in their best interests to get some precedents and debates on record SOMEWHERE – especially if we they either won or made the debate look silly.

Marty wasn’t sure the law was made to handle those questions… He was all for making the debate look silly, though.

Back at the duel, cleaning up the mess generated by the enormous pile of stuff took some time – although Raphael heard the Clan Patron announcing that “I was wondering where that went!” as he grabbed the music box.

(Crowd) “Yah! Boo! Boring! When are they actually going to do anything? Is this a novel writing contest or a duel! Looks like Foxy is doing pretty well there! How’s he doing his divinations anyway? They look weird! Stupid to challenge someone in their speciality! Pretty Foxy Foxy! Throw them out!”

Raphael put up with that.

(Judge) “Very well, I think we are now to the treasure hunt. Remember, it has to be unclaimed and on public land. No digging in the rat tunnels. I assure you this is as much for your own good as theirs.”

The young Cheetah who’d suggested treasure hunting had all his spells prepared to try and get there first! – at least until a judge stepped hard on his tail and pinned him down.

Raphael pulled out all the stops, and went up to a tenth order spell for this one. It pointed to a public well in the middle of a nearby plaza – while the Cheetah’s pointed to a section of brick retaining wall in one of the hillsides somewhat further away.

Meanwhile, Kevin heard an explosion and turned to see a rotating metal door heading towards his head at high speed. Fortunately, he ducked in time to let the metal door embed itself in the wall behind to him.

(Kevin, corralling shards to make sure that no one was hurt) “Hey! Watch it! This is a party and there are innocent people present!”

(Scrawny Lion Mage) “Uhhh, sorry about that! Don’t worry, everything is under control! Nothing to be afraid of!”

(Kevin) “What were you doing anyway?”

(Judge) “FRED!!!!!”

(Lion Mage) “I was uhh, experimenting with a new golem design. This one was going to turn things invisible! Unfortunately, there was an accident with the mirror, and now I can’t find it.”

A table disappeared

(Judge) “Gods damn it Fred!”

That was pretty eccentric golemcrafting, even for a mage.

A section of wall disappears with a crash and cloud of smoke and invisible dust.)

(Kevin, to the Lion) “Well, it looks like it works! What was it you told it to do and will it be able to hear a counter-order?”

(Lion) “Well I told it to protect us from the Rabbits, since they seemed so intent on picking fights with us. I figured this would be a nonviolent way of accomplishing this! And don’t worry, I wrote the counter command in big letters on it’s face so I wouldn’t forget it!”

(Raphael) “Oh how I hate automations running uncontrolled.”

Raphael threw an area-of-effect “see invisibility” – but the blasted thing was already stomping away.

(Kevin) “Ah, you wrote it in big letters on the now-invisible face?”

(Fred) “Oh, wait, that might pose a problem if I can’t see it. Good to know for the future!”

(Kevin) “Now it’s off to attack the rabbits?”

(Fred, looking really sheepish) “Ummmm, yeah. I guess so.”

(Kevin) “Oh bother”.

He headed up – and out of easy invisibility-detection range – to look for big crunchy footsteps along line of travel – probably right in a direct like towards the rabbit holdings.

Back at the Feline Party, the area of effect invisibility revelation revealed a good deal of the hidden furniture and patrons – although it wasn’t required to illuminate the steady line of chaos spreading across town.

Over at the Rabbit Party, a low-grade and somewhat intoxicated war party member had – perhaps unwisely – picked Marty as someone to grouse about the general “cowardice of his clan” to. After all, Marty was clearly an outsider, and thus presumably neutral – and wouldn’t pass word to the others. The sale had upset him more than a bit…

Well, sometimes it was better to pry someone for info while they were drunk than to be drunk yourself! Marty – politely and very quietly – agreed

(Marty) “It’s a shame. But it’s their decision. What can you do?”)

His drunken “friend” babbled on for awhile about how he and his friends could do a lot, all they had to do was to lean on whoever bought them to let them go…

Unfortunately, Marty’s attempt to extract information was interrupted by the smashing sounds from the city outside. He could hear an ominous STOMP, STOMP STOMP sound approaching – and the drink he was holding showed a disconcerting ripple effect with each stomp as well. Oh BOTHER. The other partygoers were picking up on things too…

(Drunk) “Won’t nobody dare try to stand up to US. Us Rabbits’ve got strength in numbers! And unity! And more courage and heart than anyone else! We’ve gotta, cause it don’t take no nerve for a canine or a feline or ursine or… well, lotsa things… to threaten rabbits, but to stand up to them rabbits gotta be tough!”

Marty had to admit to a bit of sympathy there.

Kevin, of course, was attempting to get ahead of it if at all possible, to drop in to try and stop it… Wars were stupid! And he was trying to VACATION in this town!

It wasn’t too hard.

(Raphael, sighing) “Well I just cant let something like this just cause havok. Is the duel concluded satisfactorily? If so I will go help stop that thing.”

The judges ruled that the duel was concluded for the time-being – although they would like Raphael and his opponents to be present during the excavation; after all, they would (much to the disappointment of the cheetah kid) have a claim to whatever was found.

(Raphael) “Oh sure… forgot about that… well off to go stop a damn automation.”

Kevin dropped in and colored the air, so he could see where the golem was displacing it – and a number of city guards converged on the area as well, as the vague outline of a hulking unseen monster stomping towards the rabbit holdings appeared. It was probably magic-immune, like most Golems. Fortunately, it was large and slow…

(Kevin) “Fists of Adamant! Strength of the Titan! Speed of Thought!”

He was really enjoying being physical for once! The Angkor identity was made for it!

Marty looked out, to see the city guards beginning to mobilize outside the rabbit residence. Fortunately it WAS the Rabbit clan, and most of the other partygoers would probably be too skittish to go outside. He politely said goodbye and headed out to meet the guards – discretely keeping an eye on the few rabbits that were going outside too.

It looked like some of the more powerful mages and physical combatants among the older generation; they wanted to keep the disturbances quiet during the party.

Kevin, of course, was setting about trying to punch out the golem. That was usually Marty’s job!

Marty was open about his intent to help the guards. And though he wasn’t saying it, he was itching to get physical too.

Raphael had followed as well, keeping his area effect invisibility-revealing spell running.

Marty was happy to help with the defense. Their Rabbit estate was lovely, and whatever it was sounded nasty. Of course, he wasn’t saying that he’d be focusing more on the golem instead of stopping it from smashing things up. If the Rabbits were spending money on fixing their estate here, that was less money for opposing adventurers, assassins, and Panthers!

That, of course, neatly got them all together outside the rabbit residence – even if it was for fighting a no-longer-invisible foe in the middle of the street.

Kevin promptly put the monstrous pile of enhancements he’d just invoked to work, happily pounding the golem mercilessly…

Marty whimsically gave him a few moments to do his thing, using his oratorical powers to boost Kevin – and, incidentally, Raphael, the city guards, and the rabbits, even if most of them WERE letting the reckless young wolf take his shot before getting involved.

Raphael – since the thing was immune to direct magic – used gravitational warping to create a reverse gravity ring around it, altering the local gravity instead of targeting the golem. If it couldn’t fly, getting it off the ground would leave it stuck – and he could use TK (and the help of the local bird people) to rescue any normal people who got caught and provide “footing” for any guards who needed it.

Kevin simply defaulted to telekinetic maneuvering. Hopefully the golem wouldn’t simply ignore him and swat him across town and fifty feet into a hillside – but there was no way of telling just how powerful it was, and it might be getting a boost from someone).

(Marty) “KILL THE GOLEM! USE ITS LIMBS FOR DECORATION IN YOUR GARDEN!”

Marty was mildly impressed! With his werewolf-identity, and all those enhancements running, the kid was actually getting quite physical! Even by his standards!

Besides, the annoying construct had no vital points to strike at!

Kevin and the Golem exchanged massive, crushing, blows… It was a good thing that Kevin was iron-tough in this identity and that he could heal himself reflexively as a werewolf – but he couldn’t keep that up for long. Still, until then, it would be a good show!

Marty threw in a few knife-throws of his own – gaining some looks almost as odd as the ones that Kevin was getting as they blew massive chunks off the golems enchanted stone-and-metal body – leaving one of the legs a crumbling mess and the arms less articulate than they had used to be.

Raphael had his personal constructs deploy as shields. No reason to get involved directly though; Kevin and Marty seemed to be quite used to teaming up on things and dishing out raw damage.

Meanwhile, Kevin was hammering it’s main body into rubble, although having it’s head spun around backwards didn’t seem to be affecting it much though.

(Kevin) “This thing has great durability for a golem! Fred’s really talented at making golems if he just threw this together!”

The golems final wild swing tore it’s arm loose, but Kevin bent time a bit to get in front of it before it could hit the kid it had been spinning towards.

It shattered against his chest as Marty finished off the golem.

 (Kevin) “Well, that was invigorating!”

(Marty) “Yes, it was.”

(Guards, almost in unison) “FRED!!!”

(Marty) “Who’s Fred? Did he do this?”

Raphael made a note; those Thrall-kids really were useful! They’d smoothly deployed to make sure that the bystanders had been protected, they seemed to be able to store high-end boosting spells for you, and they had a lot of other powers… He might as well see about employing a few for his own projects. It looked like plenty would volunteer simply because he was working directly with Kevin.

OK, he was generally uneasy about the fact that they existed at all – but they did, and they were just too useful to say no to… and, that way, could let them see his plans to convince Kevin to grant them some technical skills to all the Thralls so that the rumors could spread.

If that worked, they would soon have some technical skills. Of course, it would also prove that Kevin has no control and was frighteningly easy to manipulate.

If so, he wasn’t even going to mention it to Marty, even if he almost certainly knew it already. That WASN’T a bit of information that he was going to let spread around too much if he could help it.

Marty made a note too! He could have Kevin give HIS thralls some booster spells to hold. A giant size spell! He could be tall!

(Fred) “Sorry about that! My fault!”

(Marty) “What the hell were you thinking?”

(Guard) “You don’t know Fred very well if you are asking that.”

(Marty) “Hey, I haven’t been here too long. Does he usually make golems and send them after people?”

(Fred) “Well, I thought that we might be attacked soon, so I was going to create a protector for our clan. And what better way to protect people than to make them impossible to hit! The idea was foolproof. At least until it accidently turned itself invisible while I was still busy programming it.”

(Guard) “Fred is well known for his eccentric and arcane ideas. I don’t think I’ve seen one yet that hasn’t eventually threatened to destroy us all.”

(Second guard) “What about that time he turned all the left shoes into right ones? Kinda hard to destroy the city with that one.”

That made Marty glad he chose to be a bird. Hard to wear shoes when your feet were claws!

Kevin, meanwhile, was posing a bit, employing his “Look Good” and “Stagecraft” skills. After all, there were Wolf- and Cat-girls around!

(Guard) “Do you really think Fred wouldn’t have figured out how to eventually?”

Marty sighed. Kevin was preening again. Oh well, it was time for him to preen too!

(Kevin) “Maybe no one who wore shoes would have been able to do anything any longer because two rights make going backwards?”

(Fred) “Well I kept having trouble finding both of my shoes, I figured it would take care of that issue nicely. Things just got out of hand.”

(Marty, blinking) “Why don’t you just magic your shoes to come when called?”

(Fred) “Oooh, now there is an idea!”

One of the guards promptly smacked Marty.

(Marty) “OK, I deserved that.”

(Guard) “Fred, remember that last time, when you accidently unleashed that cheese monster on the docks?”

(Raphael) “You know that sounds like it could go bad in so many ways.”

(Fred) “That was not my fault!”

(Guard) “We warned you that another incident would force us to reopen the banishment case again. We’ve tried to be understanding, but this has gotten out of hand.”

(Kevin) “I could assign an assistant to stay with him and watch him and advise him, would that help?”

(Fred) “But I don’t want to be banished!”

(Guard) “What sort of assistant?”

(Raphael) “A little kid to spot all the holes in his plans?”

(Kevin, sighing) “A trained magical aide, with a good grasp of theory, some sense, and good at countering magic in case he tries to do something without getting advice first! Although youth can be arranged.”

(Marty) “And, if all else fails, the same aide can subdue him.”

(Kevin) “Or at least sound the alarm.”

(Guard Captain) “I must inform you that such an arrangement would result in you and the assistant being partially liable for any further disruptions.”

(Kevin) “Hm. That might be problematic; he does seem rather… out of control. Oh well! Would you like a comforable spot to sit out a bit of exile? Alternatively, what kind of bond would it take? It might be manageable.”

Largely it came down to being able to show evidence of curtailing ideas, restraining enthusiasm, and sounding the alarm when all else failed.

Well, that was doable – but was subject to the cat clans opinion, since they also shared liability there.

Kevin was happy though! A favor for the guard, who didn’t have to fight the golem, a favor for the cat clan, who wouldn’t have so much in the way of damages to pay, a favor for Fred, good exercise AND a chance to show off and impress girls! It had been good all around!

(As it would turn out later, the cat clan was more than willing to receive help in restraining Fred without going through the embarrassment of having him banished.)

Marty was pleased too. He’d gotten to party and fight today! Though he was wondering when Kevin is going to have enough girls…

Oh that was right. Not while the dominate-breed-expand-the-race darkness-instincts were his primary driving force. Thus the colonization projects, thrall-breeding, general defensiveness, and Midnight Gardener on the general scale and the harem-collecting and swarms of kids on the personal one.

Still, come to think of it, Kevin WAS improving a bit. He’d apparently lost interest in simple physical sport with phantasms, he wasn’t being quite so… domineering any more, and nowadays he was mostly trying to attract and seduce girls rather than simply indulging his whims with Thralls and slaves…

It was starting to remind him of how he’d been before, only without the expand-the-race part.

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