Meanwhile, Philsantias had reached the metallic dragon territories to give his report.
The metallic elders had lost several agents already, starting with an adolescent silver trio who had tried just barging in and working up from there – and were quite pleased to have gotten anyone back at all (although they’d learned a lot from the failures – and youngsters were eminently disposable), much less with as much information as he’d gotten…
Oddly enough, while they seemed interested in Ailill’s defenses, security, and personal abilities, they seemed to be focusing a lot more on… the treatment of the humans, elves, dwarves, anthropomorphs, and all the other lesser species in his holdings, on the operation of his “testing center” and “school”, on how he treated slaves (who had seemed oddly… cheerful come to think of ig) and hatchlings, and… on what he’d been able to get on his personality.
Moreover, the security precautions the council was taking – especially against the Drow Secret Police – were incredibly elaborate.
It wasn’t like the Emperor would be worried about someone taking a hostile interest in Ailill. That sort of thing was Ailill’s problem! Could they be contemplating some sort of alliance? Ailill was a lot more reasonable than most reds… That still was no big imperial concern though; Ailill might be an atrocity of power, but he was still an adolescent focused on (somewhat absurdly) expanding what might already be the largest harem in the history of the Dragon Empire…
Philsantias focused on giving a truthful and through report, clearly distinguishing between facts, deductions, speculation, and inferences – but found it easy to split his attention and keep a secondary train of thought running…
The council did indeed sweeten his payment a trifle – and also offered their personal congratulations on avoiding becoming one of Ailill’s properties, unlike the last eighteen agents.
(Philsantias) “Wow, eighteen before one of us decided that reporting on the sheer scale of the defenses was important enough to be worthwhile even without direct information? Really?
(Elder Silver) “Their missions and instructions varied somewhat. The first trio was dispatched simply to get an evaluation of Ailill’s power level and resources – and did indeed obtain a part of that information through the failure of their attempt to take over his holdings while he wasn’t in. The temptation of such wealth was doubtless too great – but their failure did show that, even in their master’s absence, Ailill’s slaves and other defenses were capable of handling a full assault by three well-equipped young adult dragons without any signs of struggle.
Others looked at the defenses and opted for a formal challenge which bypassed them; after all, a young silver normally has an excellent chance against a young red. All of those were apparently defeated handily, and suffered the proper penalty for their foolishness.
A few others tried to sneak in, and were apparently snared by the outer defenses; according to your own report it required a great deal of divination and skill to find a way to get as close as you did.
Still others made “diplomatic” visits or asked for a tour on the basis that they would soon have hatchlings who would need testing. Those may have lost their tempers at some point. during their visits or otherwise made errors. It’s possible that Ailill or his servants can tell who’s come as a spy from his more legitimate visitors.
Of course, we also suspect that some of the remainder were taken into custody by the Imperial Secret Police – one of the major reasons why none of you were given any especially vital or complete information.”
(Philsantias) “Well, I guess it was perfectly rational caution this time.”
He had done an awful lot of work to get that close undiscovered! Or… at least he remembered doing so. Had he moved in on an existing, but soulless phantasm, or had all this… history… sprung up just to accommodate him? Was there any way after the fact to tell?
Raphael had been lucky… He wouldn’t have been able to visit the school without blowing his top either – and not from idealistic lawful-goodness. From his point of view automated enslavement systems HAD to be destroyed! If the machines ever got a hold of those humanity would be doomed!
Unfortunately, it soon became apparent to Philsantias that, to get any more information, he was going to have to make a serious commitment – such as accepting a major secrecy-binding spell. Still, they were willing to throw in a few more extras to compensate for the trouble. More slaves and concubines – even if adolescent dragonslaves were a glut on the market, they were still expensive as hell – and some special training for his kids too; some of his hatchlings were nearly eight by now…
(Philsantias) “What type of secrecy-binding and about what subjects specifically?”
Hm… They wanted to make it time-sensitive. Covering everything they’d be discussing during the conference by fixing it so that he couldn’t remember that time period when he wasn’t involved with them.
Laying aside the lack of trust there – even if it was fairly inevitable when dealing with elder dragons; none of them would trust a young adult to be able to defend a secret -that was complicated. He was multipresent; how would their spell interact with that? Chop out a chunk of his memories from each ID? Let hem remember in other ID’s, but not this one?
Urgh… The spell WAS very powerful – but might not apply in non-magical worlds. It might though, since HE was linking them. It would certainly work in THIS world; His dragon ID wouldn’t be able to remember what had been talked about – but he should be able to think and talk about it elsewhere, albeit fuzzily. It might fuzz his recollection of what had happened during the conference period in other worlds slightly, but that shouldn’t be serious.
Blast it, he might need to start running some effects that were limited to particular ID’s now…
Wait, were these independent existences, or did existing in multiple dimensions at a time simply mean that his limited attention was spread over multiple places and that he could be attacked in many places at the same time? Was this a curse or a blessing?
Huh… Sort of gray really. The ID’s weren’t entirely independent, although they could be left to “run on automatic” – but they were all HIM, and if one of them was injured, they all were. After all, they were all HIM.
Well, that wasn’t so good! He might have to learn to compensate for that!
Still, as long as it didn’t send him nodding off in other dimensions, or forgetting what he was doing in other realms while the meeting was going on… It was a big payoff and these WERE the good dragons (and he had very little to hide). As long as it wouldn’t cover up direct mindprobing, compulsions, or other things that could violate his privacy.
The gist of the problem was straightforward. The Dragon Empire was now some 7180 years old – and had been ruled by the good dragons for the first seven thousand. It was now the era of Evil Dragon rule, starting with the Reds. In a mere 180 years of their rule the first red emperor had already attempted to destroy the cosmos. The reds had fought over the position for months – and had finally agreed on a rather young cantidate that they all thought they could manipulate – which at least set a precedent for rule by someone other than “the most powerful”. Sadly, their choice was… perverse and paranoid even by red dragon standards; eating your own children alive was definitely a vice.
The Metallics valued the Dragon Empire. It’s formation had ended a galactic epoch of constant warfare. The lesser races and the Dragons prospered under it’s rule – but they did not think that the Empire would survive another 820 years of Red rule, much less the six thousand years of rule by the lesser evil dragons after that!
Unfortunately, trying to cut out the evil dragon emperors turns would result in a terminal civil war. This Ailill however… He was a young red, already seemed to have enough power to survive as Emperor – and had been doing his best to stabilize the galaxy. He’d even come up with a way to evade the hitherto unavoidable mass deaths of hatchlings.
They wanted to know about him personally to decide whether or not they wanted to try and maneuvers him into launching a bid to become Emperor via coup. Of course, such a discussion was grounds for a torturous enslavement – or execution by being sent to the abyss or some such.
(Philsantias) “From what I saw of his territory it would seem like an improvement – but if he wanted to be Emperor I think he would have gone for it already; young reds have little patience… (Hm. WAS he going for it?). Still, in my personal opinion, he would be by far the lesser evil if it could be arranged.
Raphael almost had to laugh at himself; presuming that it WAS Kevin, the smiley-faced rainbow banner of “The Lesser Evil” rose once more!
The metallics were aware that Ailill didn’t seem to want to be Emperor – although that might just be a rues for the benefit of the secret police – but could he be pushed into it with concealed backing? Surely any red was ambitious enough for that!
(Philsantias) “I am not sure. He might not actually want it yet. I did confirm that he was using thralls of the demon lord Kevin… if he is working with said demon lord he might not be ambitious enough even if he is a red.”
Raphael carefully limited himself to reporting things that he’d discovered in the Dragon Realms – and to some general information on the demon lord Kevin that is was apparently helping enhance Ailill’s servants.
After all, even if he’d been entirely sure that Ailill was Kevin (and not Marty, or a Thrall in a very powerful ID, or some local ally of Kevin’s), it wouldn’t be playing the game fairly to report information from outside sources.
Raphael wasn’t yet used enough to being in multiple places at the same time to just ask Kevin about it; that option just wasn’t a part of his worldview yet…
The council did as him to gather any more information that he could. If he would like to go back in, they’d pay even more – but they quite understand that he might not want to and that, for the moment, he would probably want at least a few weeks to take control of his new properties, organize his new slaves, try out his new concubines, and see his hatchlings.
Philsantias had to agree there! Whether or not he decided that going in again would be worth the risk, it was entirely possible that he would find less risky ways to scout later – and waiting a week would give him time to ask Marty and Kevin where in the dragon worlds they were. In the lifespan of a dragon, a few weeks meant little.
Raphael, on the other hand, was finding it… QUITE disorienting to contemplate the fact that he had several children – up to about five years old – whom he remembered siring, and hatching, and growing up, and assorted slaves he personally defeated over the years, and concubines who have mothered those kids, when he’d never visited this world before yesterday! That was WEIRD!
And from what he recalled… he’d had a small-but-variegated harem, which was why he currently had three silver hatchlings, two coppers, one brass, and one naughty little blue… Saying it like that made them sound like pocket change of course – but considering the casualty rates for dragon-kids… a lot of dragons seemed to think of them that way – which was also disorienting.
Well, when in Rome…
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Session 192b — Dragon Hunting (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Session 192a — A Dragon Born (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 172a – The Wheel of Incarnations (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Sessions 189-190 part IV — Don Quixote the Innkeeper (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 174 – The Darkness Before the Domination from Emergence Campaign Weblog (ruscumag.wordpress.com)