Federation-Apocalypse Sessions 189-190 part IV – Don Quixote the Innkeeper

Some of the 200 or so gigantic faces in the te...

Yes, we're watching YOU!

Somewhat to Raphael’s irritation – what, were these two TRYING to turn him into a balloon? – the first distraction to catch Kevin and Marty’s eyes was another restaurant…

Kevin grinned, realized that practically everyone in the party had hairy feet – and promptly voted for “Second breakfast and perhaps elevenses!”.

Partly promptly picked up the que and parroted the call…

(Marty) “Second breakfast! Second breakfast!”

(Kevin) “Lets not make a hobbit of this! We are in the middle of the earth here! And down a very comfortable hole!”

Raphael groaned at the horrible puns. Were these clowns going to eat ANOTHER huge meal? Probably followed by drinking, then lunch, more drinking, second lunch, and so on?

Marty wasn’t complaining! – although he did feel that one bout of drinking was more than enough for lunch time.

Raphael avoided eating this time… he actually had to worry about his diet and how it made him look… You’d think that they’d wandered into some sort of bizarre anime world they way these two were going at it!

As far as Kevin was concerned it was just a snack!

More children showed up during second breakfast with more questions about magic, the outside world, evil flowers, and so on.

Kevin cheerily handed out the usual presents and witchcraft.

Mr Cartwright was now aware that that was a very low tier of magical power… but it was still just casually granting magic to people. The Colony Council would DEFINITELY want to discuss this! Urgently!

Marty and Raphael were paying more attention than Kevin – and they were seeing a number of adults quietly arriving and keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings. They moved to keep a clear vantage point as the children moved around and partially obscured the view. Each and every one a local anthropomorph – not rats and mice. The hired mage-contingent? Those social workers again?

Raphael cheerily put their faces into a recognition program and added nice circles and highlights to the HUD’s of the rest of the parties smartclothes to keep track of them…

Marty was most impressed! He’d never thought of using Smartclothes that way! That was pretty cool!

Kevin just shrugged when they were pointed out. Of COURSE suspicious mages were keeping an eye on him! He was a demon lord!

He cheerily ignored them.

Raphael kept an eye on them, but so far they weren’t making a move.

Marty set up for trading! That was one of the fun parts of any visit!

Hmm… They didn’t need too much local tech – theirs was better – but magical trinkets, tomes, perpetual grow lights, and such were all in high demand, as were foodstuffs and fuel. Their attempts to expand their food production above ground had proven difficult and they had been forced to expand farming underground – which was a much more intensive process.

Raphael busied himself with looking at the maps he’d recorded – and with plans to test out his fabrication rune magic with his new battle magic to take lots of time off their building estimates and to harden their defenses a bit.

Kevin presumed that what they really needed was… a City Ward and a few Heartstones…

Marty couldn’t really argue there – but he did attempt to dissuade Kevin from simply trying to create them. He’d already warped reality enough around here! If he needed some trade goods from Kadia, he’d set up the gate himself! With some Thralls mostly using magic! It would warp the place a lot less than Kevin’s “smash-a-hole-in-reality” approach.

They were willing to trade… metals, advanced clockwork mechanisms, high quality machinery (at least what worked under the local laws and infrastructure), some precious metals, stonework, gunpowder, alcohol, woods, medicines, advanced glass, and clean fresh water.

Kevin pointed out that Feanor could erect city wards. He’d given both of his favorite pets a good deal of extra power! Feanor would need a lot of Zenni and/or cooperation from the locals though.

Raphael offered to try his hand at the living heartstone trick that he’d been thinking about in his spare time… it might be nice to set up a magic academy that was based on that notion! His current proposal to make them far more durable required genetically-engineered bees from core! They were far more hearty and less aggressive! And they had bee souls!

He would have gone with ants, but no one had really domesticated them, even if they had created some special-purpose strains.

Marty shuddered! He knew what bees were like in Battling Business World! Bees. My God. Bees.

Oh well! He brought in Raphael’s bees, more smartclothes (Raphael wanted these everywhere anyway) foodstuffs, glow lamps and other items for indoor agriculture, minor magical trinkets, relevant tomes of magic – and lots of Zenni for Raphael and Feanor to work with.

He mostly bought glass and stonework, which should sell well amongst the nobles somewhere… They even had an elaborate stone fountain that played music! Business was good!

Raphael promptly got his proof-of-concept project underway. It would still take a few days, but it would be ready soon enough.

Sadly, despite all of Kevin’s and Marty’s crazed suggestions for making his new academy a place of horror, he decided to make it a straightforward school – or as straightforward as a school that taught rats and mice to use magic was ever going to get anyway.

He didn’t even want to fill it with magical robots, or kidnap students, or plant secret chambers and magical monsters in the basement! What kind of a school was that supposed to be?

Would Raphael’s Academy of Magic at least offer randomly-re-arranging rooms and corridors?

The answer there was “no” as well! This wasn’t going to be any fun at all!

Raphael simply put out some notices that the school would be accepting applicants – and then realized that he’d need some other teachers… Robots were good for some things, but they made lousy magic teachers.

Well, while he was hiring some of those, much as he hated to admit it, Kevin’s Thralls were quite capable of teaching the basics – and of handling magical pranks. Still, at least he could arrange some magical testing to sort out which applicants were actually going to put in the effort – or have enough raw talent – to be really good mages – or at least at or above what the locals would deem the competent level.

Better make it high school or above too.

Marty chuckled! The Magical Academy of Destructive Spell Combat Imploding Entirely Normal Towns, Islands, States, Trees and Scenery? Nah, that would have to be the destruction and evocation major!

Kevin – rather practically for him – pointed out that they really needed to talk to the City Council before they started setting up magical schools, and heartbees, and wards major, and all that kind of thing…

Kevin headed back to the Inn after he ran out of kids to play evil santa for – although it wasn’t that big a city; both the supply of kids, and the supply of distance (across the main square) was fairly strictly limited.

At the inn he found the Innkeeper arguing with a pair of guards and a city administrator. She was not exactly be happy to see Kevin come back…

(Innkeeper) “You! Treating children in such a fashion! You should be ashamed of yourself!”

(Guard) “Ma’am, calm down, we really don’t need a disturbance right now.”

Outside, Raphael and Marty found themselves being approached by some guards as well.

(Marty) “Hi. Anything wrong?”

(Guard, to Marty) “Just wanted to ask some questions. Would the occupants of the one named Angkor’s room at the Inn happen to be some of these (looks at clipboard) “Thralls” we’ve heard about?

Raphael got the same question from the guard approaching him.

(Kevin) “So what’s up?”

(Guard, to Kevin) “I’m afraid this Innkeeper has filed a complaint regarding the treatment of the occupants of the room you have taken. Would you please confirm that they are not in fact legal residents of this colony?”

(Kevin) “That’s easy enough! They weren’t born in this universe, signed up quite voluntarily and legally where they were, and entered both this dimension and this city as property!”

Raphael considered that for a second – and flashed the question to Marty and Kevin’s smartclothes with a “how do you want to play this?” message.

Naturally enough, Kevin was playing it straight – as always. It was more or less against his personal code to deny ownership of his Thralls.

Marty was quite used to that as well. It wasn’t like even Kevin could break the Thrall-bond, or make them anything BUT property until it wore off…

(Raphael) “Yes, they are Thralls. Why?”

(Guard, to Raphael) “Well, we’re obligated to look into these complaints, but right now I don’t think there is much we can do. I would like it if you would provide us any background regarding how they became Thralls and why they are being treated….. differently than the others.”

(Raphael) “Well, I am not really sure about all of it. Angkor and Marty exist simultaneously in several places at once, and I occasionally get distracted with research.”

(Marty, sighing) “They’re conspiring with Angkor to annoy their dad. Once all of them get bored with that, he’ll return them to humanoid and unfixed forms.”

(Guard) “I see, so this treatment is at least partially voluntary?”

(Marty) “It’s… complicated. The way the thrall bond works, they’re subservient to his desires, but they also enjoy fulfilling them. He also gives them excellent benefits for doing this. Here, would you like to see a copy of the contract? The contract itself is entirely voluntary. Anyone who doesn’t want to sign up is welcome to stay in his realm as a guest.”

Kevin, meanwhile, was having his trio of pets shift back into their usual puppy-boy forms…

(Kevin) “Now then! These three are originally residents of Shayhian, a planet in the Core! At the moment, they’re playing at being canine slave-children! Now (he waved a hand at them) they’re fire elementals! Now (as he waved again) they’re giant serpents! Now (more waving) they’re small dragons! Now (wave) they’re panther girls! Now (wave) they’re horse boys! Now (wave) they’re back the way they were! They can change by themselves of course, but that takes longer and they can’t do it as often! Now if you’d like to see them doing something with their various powers – since the innkeeper here seems worried about them being killed – we can go somewhere else and they can demonstrate!”

Outside with Marty, the guards read over the contract.

(Guard) “I’m not sure I entirely agree with some of the points here, but if they various claims in the contract are true, then Angkor’s his treatment of his (sigh) “Thralls” is perfectly legal – and I could see citizens of the other local towns and cities going for it. They would probably see it as just an odd apprenticeship program.”

(Marty) “Hey, I don’t entirely agree with it myself, but he does offer a really good deal.”

(Guard) “Well, so long as they weren’t legal residents of this colony, entered the contract voluntarily, and are not actually being deceived regarding the terms of the contract, there isn’t much we can do. I do presume that the fantastical claim of bringing people back from the dead has never been tested?”

(Marty) “It has, and it works.”

(Guard) “Really? How do you get someone to volunteer to test for that sort of thing?

(Marty) “They’re thralls, if Angkor asks, they’ll do it.”

(Raphael, with some exasperation) “Well, there are tens of thousands of them, and most of them are on jobs such as search-and-rescue, disaster-relief, demon-hunting, and other high-risk occupations. Casualties are not uncommon – and so their souls quite often have to come back to Kadia to manifest new bodies. Their line-of-duty death benefits include a small shopping spree and three days off as soon as there’s time for it, while stupidity-deaths usually incur several days of really boring duty before being sent out again. There really isn’t any need to ask for someone to “test” it – although they will eagerly volunteer to demonstrate if it’s needed. They like shopping!”

(Guard, with a REALLY annoyed look on his face) “I’m not sure if I should classify that as confidence, arrogance, faith, failed assisted suicide, or manslaughter through compulsion that got better again… Since I can’t think of a specific law this is breaking, although I could probably drudge up something if I had to and convince someone that it fits, I am going to have to side with the visitors against the Innkeeper on this one. At least until the Colony Council decides to tell me otherwise – although I am afraid that you might have to relocate to another inn since I doubt the Innkeeper will like my decision on this matter.”

Meanwhile, the guards inside were watching Kevin’s “demonstration” with some disbelief… The locals had magic, yes – but such a… casual disregard for the laws of nature surely went well beyond normality even for the locals! They placed a lot of stress on their sex and species, so they could not possibly change them so… casually!

(Kevin, cheerily smiling at the innkeeper) “Anything else you’d like to see? Want to go somewhere where there’s room and see their defensive and offensive powers?”

(Innkeeper) “I shall have to speak to the Council about this! This type of outrage cannot be tolerated! That anyone would let you do this with their own children disgusts me!”

(Marty, from the door) “Oh, the parent’s didn’t let him. He saved them from a sticky situation, let them read the contract, and gave them the choice of signing on. Then when the dad got angry, Angkor AND the kids decided to teach him a lesson.”

(Kevin) “What’s the problem? They’re having fun, they get to keep their powers after the indenture is up, and they’re guaranteed to survive since the powers I grant include immortality and the ability to retreat back to my personal universe if they’re trapped somewhere. What’s wrong with that?”

The Innkeeper stormed off in a huff.

(Kevin, reflectively) “Hm. She does realize that Rusty here is twenty-eight years old? It’s entirely possible that he is older than she is.”

(Raphael) “Probably not, considering the cross-species difficulties with estimating age, how much Core has altered the rate at which humans age, and the fact that NIMH rats and mice probably age differently than “normal” rats and mice here, her ability to determine age at a glance is not going to be entirely accurate.