Felan was quite right. Markov’s errant daughters turned out not to have gone very far at all… They’d mostly attached themselves to some of his allies sons; the more dominant boys who had already passed their exams.
How dare they steal from him!
As hatchlings, the girls were no longer his property the moment they left the creche – but technicalities had little effect on an annoyed chaotic chromatic dragon! Heading over to the neighbors shouldn’t count! Those stupid little hatchlings probably weren’t WORTHY to have his daughters!
Of course, he couldn’t challenge a hatchling in another dragons creche – especially in the creche of another member of his coalition directly. It would be a massacre, and an offense against the parent, and socially unacceptable. You DIDN’T challenge down the age range ladder… It would be like sending a heavyweight up against a toddler!
Even other hatchlings couldn’t challenge them directly unless the parent approved – unless they came out and accepted such challenges of course… Dominance battles weren’t really all that satisfying though! Without a slave-collar in the offing it didn’t really mean much, and hatchlings rarely fought to their full potential without that threat hanging over them!
Wait… the parents were his allies. If he got them to agree to pit a few of the hatchlings against each other they’d have a choice between abandoning the semi-safety of their creches and accepting. Hm. If he just proposed making them fight for training and dominance, it was unlikely that anyone would have any objections at all!
Well, the hatchlings might object – they would be the ones who were being blasted, clawed, and battered after all – but who cared about that? They’d be learning valuable lessons about life!
Hm… He’d build it up a bit, have a few minor matches first, and then it should be easy enough to get the five with his daughters set up for the same day! He could probably just buy and slave-process them if they lost; most of their parents would probably be willing to take any good offer and he did have plenty of funds available!
He might even wind up with a really robust stable of hatchlings!
That did work out; he fielded some of his mid-level hatchlings, they actually got some useful training and experience, the dominance-battles started settling the pecking orders in the various creches.
When the five hatchlings with his daughters came up he fielded five of his stronger hatchlings (with Felans boosts and more) against them – and scored four out of five victories.
The parents had no objections to his offers – after all, some of the Hatchlings had been getting a bit too comfortable with surrendering rather than fighting to their full potential since they knew that there would be no serious consequences for a loss – and so he bought all four and sent them off to be slave-processed, instead of off to be treated for their wounds…
Oddly enough, one of his enslaved daughters – who’d been bought along with her now-enslaved master – came back after they took the boy to slave-processing instead of for medial attention and spoke up and… protested?
Weird! What was her problem? What did it matter who her master was?
(Delcinarea) “You’re really rotten! Why did you have to do that? Just to be mean? There was no need at all for it!”
That was weird too! A properly-bound slave shouldn’t be protesting like that, even with the old-style rituals.
Markov started probing… With his power level it was pretty easy!
It looked like… she had thought that her chances of “washing out” in testing – and becoming a sexless slave – were a lot higher then they were (well, they would have been a LOT higher without his reality-warping power backing his hatchlings). She wasn’t nearly as tradition-bound as most phantasms though… She’d done her own evaluations of the available boys who’d already passed – and had picked one with fairly practical talents. She’d… offered to belong to him voluntarily, and help him try out a new path; instead of trying for epic dominance, he could simply pick up enough girls who were trying to avoid testing to satisfy his drives without drawing challengers. That way he could grow up quietly, develop useful talents, join the coalition as a junior member for the protection – and have kids with his dozen or so girls. Their male hatchlings would take their tests (since their odds were better that way) and their females could follow in her wingbeats if they were willing. That way HE was very likely to grow up free and intact – and SHE was guaranteed lots of kids, a relatively stable relationship, being chief concubine (the bond on her was extremely minimal and easily broken if she decided to leave), a small but prosperous dragon-household, and some measure of success. And then… he’d had to go and spoil it, and have her carefully-selected mate enslaved, and ruin her bargain!
(Delcinarea) “What’s the MATTER with you? Don’t you want grandchildren?”
The Emperor’s testing decree was making it possible for Dragon-society to HAVE a safe middle class, and then Markov had to spoil it for her!
Actually, the Imperial Testing Decree had left the 1-50 year old hatchlings with a few choices:
- Attempt to leave the Dragon Empire. Such an attempt meant probable death even if it was successful – which was really unlikely.
- Go in for testing. That meant a roughly 85% chance of low-pain desexing and happy slavery, a 14% chance of death or slavery in a slightly later conflict (and a probable high-pain transition to desexed slavery) and 1% chance of becoming a dominant – for at least a little while.
- Volunteer for slavery to avoid testing. That got them a 100% chance of a painful desexing. Even if you submitted to a female, no self-respecting female would ever want to mate with a slave.
Ergo, males were – by far – best off to just accept it and go in for testing.
Females however… their logic started out the same, but the conclusions were very different. They could…
- Attempt to leave the Dragon Empire. Such an attempt meant probable death even if it was successful – which was really unlikely.
- Go in for testing. That gave them the same 85% chance of low-pain desexing and happy slavery, a 14% chance of death or slavery (with a roughly 50-50 chance of desexing), and a 1% chance of winding up as dominant female.
- On the other hand, if a female volunteered for slavery to avoid testing… A female master would likely have them spayed. If, however, they picked a young male who had already been tested and seemed reasonably dominant, they had a very good chance indeed. Even if you hadn’t hooked up with an eventual real dominant, victorious males usually bred female slaves taken from other males, they didn’t normally spay or kill them. Taking that route gave you a 90%+ chance of sex, kids, and a reasonable level of happiness.
Ergo, if a female didn’t think that she was very VERY likely to pass the tests, offering herself to a dominant young male as a slave, and as an eventual concubine when both he and she reached sexual maturity, was a pretty reasonable choice.
And that meant… it was bonanza time for young dominant males who had passed testing. The struggle to be one would soon be even more intense than usual, because – for the moment – the rewards were even bigger than usual.
She was… busily throwing minor witchcraft-curses at him, since that was a power that wasn’t at all normal for dragons – and she didn’t think that he’d notice – and, even if he did, so what? He’d already spoiled everything, just because he was a big egotistical dinosaur who couldn’t see the muzzle on his own face!
And she’d been rather getting to like the boy too – and now he was screaming in one of her father’s processing-machines.
Hm. Fairly trivial curses, but cleverly tailored to pop up next time he was in a serious battle – and hopefully make him lose! That wasn’t bad!
OK, it was only basic witchcraft – she didn’t seem to have the power for anything else, and he (unlike a normal dragon) could easily spot and remove them even if one or two managed to stick – but Markov was busy experiencing a pair of quite unfamiliar emotions… Guilt and embarrassment. He’d been so upset that his daughters had foolishly run off to be enslaved that he hadn’t really paid any attention to the fact that it might actually have been a sensible and well-considered plan! The child… would be doing quite well by herself if he hadn’t stuck his nose into things. You shouldn’t ruin your kids plans unless they were bad plans, and this one hadn’t been bad… Totally untraditional of course, even if none of his kids seemed to pay much attention to what was “traditional” – but not bad.
He’d just never imagined that any rational plan could start off with “Get Enslaved!”.
Young Delcinarea believed that Markov would probably have her tortured to death for such defiance – but currently believed that her life and plans were all ruined anyway.
She had no idea that she’d just completely blindsided him… He was busy scanning the other girls – and finding that the all five had had roughly similar ideas, although they’d differed on strategy and in their ideas as to what kind of mate was best. Two had simply been planning to become slave-concubines on the theory that any male they could manipulate or steer wasn’t worth having; ergo, they’d just bear the children of whichever one wound up on top of the heap. Those two were fully ritually-bound, although that didn’t really hinder their plans a bit. That was somewhat more tradition-bound than the other three, although it was still a bit of a break with it.
Marty found it interesting that the kids weren’t as tradition-bound as most other phantasms. Was that a bit of his conscience shaping the realm, perhaps? Or was it just shaping the kids? They all seemed to be well ahead of the curve in a lot of ways – and especially on realizing new possibilities. And Markov… currently had no idea of what to do. That left him open to a little easy pushing… There had to be some way to handle this… Ah! He’d push him to earmark the girls and their newly-enslaved boyfriends for Kadia! That would get them out of Markov’s sight without any uncomfortable implications of his having fouled things up – or of releasing slaves – and once he had them in Kadia, he could easily have the slave-processing and binding rituals reversed! He could even offer the girls some more choices…
Markov – with a little pushing – did elect to sell the kids to his (somewhat vague) trading partner in Kadia… And Marty was quite pleased. That was his first major success at managing Markov… He just needed educating!
Meanwhile, however, young Tokif had lost his match against the owner of Markov’s other daughter… Worse, he’d submitted while still conscious, rather than risking taking the final shots, a few serious injuries, a week or two in medical, and being in pain for a few months (and a remote chance of being killed of course)! That was just pathetic! He was eight! He should be well past that sort of thing!
Then his blue partner – Vrysylin, the father of the hatchling who’d just defeated Tokif – offered to buy Tokif, partly because he thought that “keeping them on edge” was a good idea, and partly because Markov had just purchased two of his sons for the same reason. Perhaps today they should have just made it to enslavement – unless that would have meant risking having some of the hatchlings trying to run away… Still, their chances of surviving on their own were far less than a 50-50 shot!
Well, Markov had been quite pleased with Tokif when he’d defeated that gold hatchling – but he’d lost several matches, and THAT surrender had been just sad! Done!
Vrysylin waved for his own slaves to take Tokif away for the ritual.
(Tokif) “But you said it was just to dominance! Not fair!”
(Markov, tongue lolling in a dragon-laugh) “It was just to dominance! I’m just selling you because I feel like it!”
Tokif made frantic efforts to escape before Vrysylin’s slaves could get a hold on him… That was his right of course; as a Hatchling, if he escaped the Coalition’s holdings and Markov’s and Vrysylin’s control, he’d be free… Very likely to die of course, but free.
And that was better than being chained down to be tortured and bound into slavery!
Markov watched with much amusement; it was a combat arena! Not having any place to go was part of the point!
Marty’s concern was mounting rapidly! This is no way to handle your kids! Especially since Markov had forced him into the match to begin with and had told him that it was just to a submission…
Markov knew that little Tokif was doomed of course… He was already pretty battered and short of magic of course; he’d just lost a fight after all. He would be caught – and screaming on a processing-rack – in short order.
Vrysylin’s slaves had cornered him and were closing in – when he activated some sort of talisman and disappeared in a dimension-door flash. He reappeared well above the dome over the arena and off to one side, frantically headed for the border of the coalition territories – although with quite a lot of his owner’s current slaves taking off in pursuit.
(Vrysylin) “Hey! how big an allowance are you GIVING your kids anyway?”
Markov was startled himself… OK, you could get a one-shot talisman for that sort of thing for about a thousand gold – but he only gave them a hundred a month! Just for treats and things! It would take a LOT of saving to be able to afford such a talisman! Especially if he had any MORE magic on tap!
Huh. That might be a contributing factor to his indignation there; he might have won if he’d known it was serious enough to burn some expensive resources.
Nah. He was a lawful little blue! He’d still be a LOT more upset about being betrayed and sold on a whim when it wasn’t supposed to be a serious match!
He’d have to check to see what the kids had collected in the way of magic items though!
Huh! The kid DID have some more magic! He’d fired up some speed-boosting effect and was making a pretty good run for it! Still, at odds of thirty to one, and with many of his pursuers being older slaves – and even Thralls since a number of Markov’s own slaves had joined the pursuit – his chances were still very poor.
Marty was pretty indignant by this time… OK! He’d – somewhat – accepted that a lot of kids in the Dragonworlds would not get to reproduce, but casually betraying a child just because he wasn’t too enthusiastic about fighting gladiatorial matches for your amusement was going WAY too far! Even for Markov! Of course, he might not have if it hadn’t been an allies request – but STILL.
Should he have the pursing Thralls intervene? They’d gladly provide a little assistance. They were kind of rooting for the kid after all… (And were glad that Marty seemed to have changed his mind; that really had been kind of unfair, even for a dragon).
Oh never mind! He’d never much used his powers over gates, and there were some Thralls on call that could open magical ones.
A plump upstart human suddenly poked his head in, told Markov off, and then snagged the kid.
(Markov) “What the SHELLCRACK!?!? Blasted mages!”
The kid had been starting to plummet. He’d been hit with a hold spell, and thus Marty now had a totally paralyzed – and utterly panicked – dragon hatchling in his living room.
He cleared out all the babies and Thrall-girls who had infants to nurse and who couldn’t take a day out to come back in as orderly a fashion as possible.
As an afterthought, he drew on their massed power to rescue the other kids who’d vanished or been enslaved outside of Markov’s holdings.
It did make his living room crowded until the computers dissolved the outer wall to extend the place though.
Huh… mostly enslaved, one who needed to be pulled together again after being “killed”, one who was UTTERLY panicked (and chained down on a serving platter, and wounded where the “best cuts” had been being taken from).
(Thrall Houseboy) “Eww! Was somebody really eating… her is it?”)
(Mary) “I think so! What a jerk.”
(Thrall Houseboy, starting in on healing and soothing) “That’s really sick!”
Once she was healed and soothed, Marty released the chains and got her off the serving platter.
Now that she was calm, she was wondering who she belonged to now… She had apparently been quite throughly stolen after all – and even with Ailill’s conditioning she couldn’t work up too much indignation on behalf of her former owners.
Well, when Kevin made Thralls of little kids he just told them to have fun, so…
(Marty) “You’re mine now! I order you to go outside and play! The thralls outside will let you know more.”
(Dragon-Girl) “Yes Master!
He notified the Thralls that there were some new hatchlings in Kadia that needed housing and school and toys and other things – and, in several cases, at least partial de-conditioning and some regeneration. At least in Kadia that was… well, pretty much automatic unless they fell under the special rules for slaves that weren’t being set free… OK, make that some Thrall-minders to speed it up and to keep them under control as the conditioning started breaking down.
Hm… The girl who’d been… being eaten alive (oh, that was just… having Markov think of it was nothing like seeing the idea in action) had been being eaten because… her young master – she’d been a loser in a hatchling-challenge during testing – had been told that she wasn’t allowed to keep any dragonslaves, and she’d had no contacts to sell the one she now owned to for a decent price – so she had decided to host a dinner party for some of her friends.
Urgghhh… Little kids hosting cannibalism parties with live, screaming, victims. It was WAY past time to overthrow the Dragon Emperor.
Of course, that left the girl… rather upset at the thought that – somewhere – chunks of HER were digesting! She will began quietly agitating for the greatest of all masters to use his amazing, wonderful, powers again to use the link of her flesh to snatch the hatchlings who had been eating her! They’d make such GOOD slaves for her wonderful master!
Marty considered… Well… who owned those hatchlings?
It looked like… it was just some black dragon who’d sent in his hatchlings to be tested, had gotten back 85% slaves (as expected), and a couple of hatchlings with new slave-hatchlings of their own – whom the black had promptly said to get rid of.
OK, nobody at all important!
Marty had the Thralls peek in. If it was clear he’d snag them. If not, the girl would just have to settle for her own survival.. It was easy enough to determine that the coast was clear enough! A half-dozen young evil dragonesses had been having a mountain picnic, and were now wondering where their meal had gotten to! It had been delicious, and was surely too badly wounded to get far!:
He drew on the Thralls and opened a gate… it wasn’t like snagging a few random phantasms – even if they were dragons – was really much of a modification to the Dragon Empire or the Manifold!
The computers restrained them instantly.
There was much indignation, promises that their father would GET him, and wondering about where the male dragon who was obviously Marty’s master was! After all, who else would be snatching young (and, if they did think so themselves) marvelously talented and beautiful females!
(Marty) “Yeah, I’ve got no master. I’m one of the masters around here! Now, who wants a nice big roast?”
(Hatchlings) “Uhm… For us or FROM us?” “No!!!” “Er… Yes?” “Maybe!”.
OK! He got them a nice big roast…
They were quite willing to have some roasted meat – but wanted to know what he was going to do with them? (After one tried clawing at him and hit some mighty protective “spell”).
(Marty) “Oh yeah, that’s the force field. You can’t hurt me unless I give you permission.”
(Tokif) “Uhm… Ok… the spells worn off… Are you going to own me? I’ll be good! You’re obviously WAY powerful – but I won’t be competing for your harem! Not even when I grow up! Won’t that be enough? There’s no need to eunuch me!”
And the girls were talking too, wanting to know what HE wanted from THEM.
(Marty, to Tokif) “Sure, just go outside, play with the others, and talk to the human kids when they come up, OK?” (And to the girls – or at least to the one gold whom the Thralls said had a soul – probably how she’d gone from the typical LG to CE) “Have I got a deal for you!” (He pulled out a copy of Kevin’s Thrall-contract.)
She went for it quite promptly!
Who all did he have?
There were the two kids who’d lost duels during testing – Vrinda, who had been becoming a meal, and Kaschi, who was being a servant), the two who’d vanished while hatchling-hunting (Shantis – the kid who’d been “killed” and had needed to be pulled back together… fortunately, that was easy with a Phantasm! – and Baffin (whom some unfortunate stray hatchlings had been hoping to use as a bargaining chip to buy themselves SOME chance of survival under Markov’s coalition – or maybe even a trip to Ailill’s school to try to win a place there), Tokif of course, and Tethen (who, according to the Thralls, actually had a soul) had belonged to one of Vrysylin’s hatchlings.
Other than that, the other slave-children were all in Markov’s creche. At least none of them needed an emergency rescue at the moment… Most of them were even happy and well-protected.
Delcinarea, her chosen mate, and the other three girls and THEIR chosen mates would be arriving shortly – but none of them seemed to have souls yet.
Well… Marty offered Tethen Kevin’s contract too.
(Tethen) “Wow! Yeah! It wears off and leaves you with all kinds of extra powers? And you don;t age until then? And you get like 99% or MORE chances to stay intact?”
(Tethen) “Oooohhhh! YesYesYesYes!”
(Marty) “Okay, sign on up!”
After all, being a Thrall in Kadia was WAY better than being a slave in the Dragon Empire! And the fact that the boy was one of his kids – not that he knew that yet – made it even MORE free power!
Oh what the heck! Why not tell him?
(Tethen) “Errrrr?!?! You’re my father? is this like some of the stories about the Emperor’s kids being fostered out?!? Cause that would be WEIRD…. I mean, no offence, but you’re human! Is this like… by adoption?”
(Marty) “It’s complicated, kid. See, this is my normal body. When I go to your realm, I get a dragon body… and all the greedy, nasty urges that can come with it. Only what was going on was a bit much, so I decided to have my human body poke in and snag you. And when I’m not in him, he goes off to do things on his own.”
(Tethen) “Now that’s just WEIRD.”
(Marty) “That’s what having multiprojection and multiple identities does. One of my friends, Raphael, developed it all of a sudden, and he was confused for days.”
(Tethen) “I can see why!”
(Marty) “But, yeah, in another place, I’m a parrot. Most of the time I look like this, though.”
Tethen wasn’t going to doubt Lord Marty – if only because he was used to being a slave and knew just what Markov or another dragon master might do to him if doubted – but that one was hard to wrap his brain around!
(Marty) “Tell you what. Why don’t you assume a human identity around here, and you’ll get some idea of what I mean?”
As for the five unrelated phantasm girls who had been helping to eat Vrinda alive…. he was going to just make them guests, and enroll them in the get-dragons-souls program with all the others – but his daughter thought that they should at least be slaves! They were eating her alive! It had really, really, hurt!
Oh well. It wasn’t like being a slave in Kadia was that bad, even for young dragons! Off to the dragon-stables with them! Heck, his daughter could even use the one who took the biggest portion as her servant-steed! That would be… the gold. Oh of COURSE. Oh well, so she’d have a Thrall-mount! Why not?
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 194a – La Belle Draco sans Merci (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Session 194b — Future Concerns (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 192c – Reporting In (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 192b – Dragon Hunting (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 193b – The Lesser Dragonwars (ruscumag.wordpress.com)