Meanwhile, Markov had been trying to track down that fat mage who’d snatched Tokif – and apparently a few more of his enslaved offspring – right out of coalition territory! He’d called him fat! He needed to be tracked down and eaten!
He burst in on the young slaves he’d gotten from that “Kadia” place – they were good with the computer networks and things – and demanded that they start working on tracing, or searching, or whatever-it-was they did to find people! With magic, and technology, and whatever else they had!
That left them looking more than a little befuddled…
(Thrall) “But… Master… Isn’t that… you?”
(Markov, with some shock) “Wait… argh! You’re right! And I was looking forward to a delicious meal too… Hey, what would happen if I ate myself?”
(Shocked Thrall) “Urm… You might die? Eat me instead! I’m tasty!”
The master was a little odd today!
(Markov) “Nah, not enough meat on you. And I don’t like eating hatchlings. I don’t know… oh, wait, I do! Let’s arrange a hunt!”
(Relieved Thrall) “What shall we hunt master?”
(Markov) “Well, what’s in the area? And, more importantly, is it tasty?”
(Thrall) “There are mammoths a bit to the north! A couple of whites hold that territory, but they can easily be either bribed or enslaved!”
(Markov) “Well, let’s attempt to bribe them into the coalition first. If they refuse, THEN we can enslave them.”
The master wanted whites? Most of them were VERY stupid! Oh well! They could still recognize overwhelming draconic force when it was flapping it’s wings overhead, and the coalition certainly had it… Combined with a bit of bribery, that brought the pair into the coalition easily enough…
They didn’t bring any hatchlings with them though. This pair didn’t bother with creches; they just clutched every six months or so and scattered the clutches around at random!
Ah, white parenting! It reminded Markov of his primary self’s childhood for a bit…
Then it didn’t as Marty considered matters… ENTIRELY on their own? From birth? While trapped in glacial mountains surrounded by more powerful dragons, and with parents who would gladly kill them holding most of what hunting territory there was? No friends, no resources, no conversation, no emotional support at all, and nothing but an arctic wasteland to live in? Good gods… that sucked even WORSE than being subject to parental whims in a creche! At least most dragon parents gave their children something to eat besides each other!
Anyway… as members, the whites were not only quite willing to let everyone hunt Mammoths, but they didn’t mind them hunting any white hatchlings they ran across without sense enough to hide from more powerful dragons… It wasn’t like most of them didn’t die or get enslaved anyway! Any anyone could catch obviously weren’t tough or clever enough.
Markov found that more than a little… unsettling! If he hunted down and enslaved their kids, it would be a… wonderful present that would vastly improve their lives. If he killed them slowly, it would probably STILL be a kindly act of mercy! That was just wrong! How could you be properly evil when there was nothing you could possibly do to make a situation any worse?
He caught about thirty of them anyway… It was just too easy to resist!
He tried to distribute them among the coalition members before going out on the hunt – but most of the other nine members weren’t even especially interested… Whites mostly made rather incompetent slaves, they were weak and stupid and they were usually too scrawny to even be worth eating! If you needed to leash some guard animals somewhere, they were good at that!
Markov wondered for a bit… He hadn’t thought that most of his coalition members normally ate hatchlings… Ah; hyperbole “they aren’t even any good as MEAT!”.
Eating hatchlings mostly went with being extremely old and powerful – at the point where hatchlings seemed… almost nonsapient by comparison.
Oh well! Guard pets it was! On the off chance there were some less stupid ones in the mix, he set up the glacial areas as a free range where they could roam, fight, and possibly get enslaved. It wasn’t like the glaciers were any good for anything else after all!
The mammoth hunt was a lot of fun though! Mammoth steaks were big enough to satisfy even a dragon’s appetite!
Well, relatively young ones like Markov and his friends anyway.
Offworld, Marty tuned out the bloody feasting, and considered… It looked like Tokif could go back if he wanted; Markov had canceled the sale, and guaranteed that he wouldn’t sell hatchlings without REALLY good reasons – but it would still put him in a good deal of danger.
Tokif elected to think about that for awhile first. Everything he knew was in the Dragon Empire – but in Kadia… well, no one was after him!
Markov, having found out that Tokif was an item-creator, wanted him back too… Marty wasn’t so sure that was a good thing, although Tokif seemed to find it so. Was the boy still after his father’s approval? Marty could see how it would be hard to put a human in Markov’s place.
Tethen, however, wanted to go… Since he was a hatchling, and had escaped, it could be argued that he was no longer a slave (although it was a thin argument, since he hadn’t escaped before processing, or unaided – and that rarely flew without major support) – and he wanted a chance to beat up his old master and some of that hatchlings brothers…
Well, those were Vrysylin’s hatchlings, not his – and Vrysylin wouldn’t much care.
Far more importantly, Tethen had acquired a soul and was now a Thrall. It would be good if he was there to recruit Felan – and any other hatchlings who acquired souls – as Thralls. That was the only way Marty could think of to actually ensure their safety.
Blast it! Kevin didn’t even KNOW about this identity, or situation, and was in no way involved – and he had, yet again, managed to be the lesser evil!
Could that really be because he wasn’t evil at all? He certainly LOOKED evil…
Still… Thralls were GUARANTEED to live, and have children, and to be free, and to enjoy themselves – all the things that Hatchlings in the Dragon Empire were so desperate for, and had so little chance to actually attain. He LIKED the idea that his children would get to realize their dreams!
Especially when their dreams were mostly so small compared to those of other children.
Well, they could have bigger dreams later!
Markov was a bit startled as he considered the curious possibility that Tethen might show up intact again, off the leash, and wanting to move back in… That was funny! A proven loser would be a universal target! He dragon-laughed at the thought… The boy would be welcome to try again! He’d make it a hundred to one that he’d be back in a processing machine, or on a slave-processing rack, within a week!
Marty sent Tethen back anyway; Thralls were pretty good at taking care of themselves…
Markov was half right; Tethen’s old master, and four of his various allies sons, promptly tried to put Tethen back on a leash where he “belonged”. Surprisingly to Markov, if not to Marty, that left Tethen with five fine new slaves trotting along at HIS heels.
Felan tried to introduce him to his slave-creating art, and was surprised to find out that he seemed to be immune to the conditioning effects…
Still, at least the irritation was good for getting the remaining kids in Markov’s creche to start working together. In fact, he shortly got in a group of the free hatchlings asking if he’d authorize Felan to simply take and keep another sibling.
Marty considered that… Were they trying to bypass competing? But why would a group ask for a single slot? Trying to set a precedent? Well, he’d try to get Markov to explain that “chief aide” WAS a reasonable job, but that they’d have to hold a little friendly competition to find out who was best suited to the job – and the winner would get to be Felan’s new addition.
For once, for a few moments, Markov was absolutely speechless. Were they all crazy? They were a part of the target group of siblings and Felan still had authorization to simply pick one of them and have them done!
Then he realized (with some relief; mass insanity in his first group of Hatchlings would NOT be a good omen for later ones) that THAT wasn’t what they wanted at all!
That jarred Marty out of his battling business mindset… Oh yeah! The “position” that Felan had open was “slave” after all.
For once united, they both probed. What the hell did the hatchlings think they were up to?
It seemed that… the kids found having Tethen around really unfair and embarrassing – and felt that it ruined their own chances… He’d been defeated, mystically bound, fixed, and was another hatchlings property in another creche – and then he’d vanished, and came back with a lot more powers (they were pretty sure that THAT was unfair somehow too) – and Markov had let him back in! And he’d beaten up his old master, and four other young dragons, and taken them as slaves – and was being very powerful and dominant for free and it was no fair! It made them all look inferior to a slave! And all those extra powers meant that challenging him was a sure trip into a processing machine and slavery – and Felan wouldn’t just have him processed because he wanted to hold his authorization to just point and have the slaves process a sibling for him in reserve as a trump card! So they wanted Markov to authorize an extra so that Tethen could be properly enslaved again!
They hadn’t wanted to try to protesting directly, since they’d gotten the impression that Tethen was pretty favored – if only because Markov HAD let him back into the creche!
Now they’d be willing to put up with Tokif; he had a talent that helped them, wasn’t a big threat, had almost escaped on his own – and had never been formally enslaved, while Tethen had spent six months trotting around at its masters heels as an eunuch slave.
Marty… didn’t know what to do (outside, perhaps, of sending Tokif back; the Dragon Empire WAS his home after all). It had never occurred to him that the other hatchlings would see Tethen as a threat! But… they did, and he seemed almost invincible to them – and likely to get them ALL killed or enslaved – and so they… were willing to risk Felan choosing one of them instead to try to regain SOME chance of getting to grow up free!
But he’d been fixing that! They were ALL going to get better chances! He was arranging things so that… And they didn’t know that. Well DAMN.
Markov couldn’t say that the kids wanting to get rid of Tethen was unexpected – he’d known that letting him back in was going to upset them – but he’d expected one or another of them to simply defeat and enslave the boy; he’d already demonstrated that he was a loser… Still, all those extra powers the boy had somehow acquired had put a fang into THAT plan – and he had to admit that they really were an unfair advantage that none of the other hatchlings had any chance to match.
What was a shock was that the remaining hatchlings were willing to trust Felan on the topic… Sure, Tethen WOULD be a valuable slave for him, but coming to him, and asking him to allow Felan to simply choose another one of them? If he HADN’T been able to read them he might well have simply had the entire little committee slave-processed for being blatantly stupid!
Were they that desperate?
By all social standards they were right of course. Tethen had been a slave, and would have, and should have, stayed a slave – except for that weird wizard’s interference.
Marty pondered… Should he recall Tethen, or perhaps have him take a different dragonform if his presence really bothered the other hatchlings? And the kids were… trusting Felan. Was it simply that he was holding out a little extra shred of hope?
Meanwhile, Markov was considering who to consult… Philsantias was a disaster when it came to handling kids. His partner? The red girls? Tethen himself? The slaves?
He settled on the concubines first, since it WAS a creche matter.
Somewhat unexpectedly… all of them could see the hatchlings point. Even Tethen’s mother was more worried about Markov himself. She’d known that Tethen was lost of course, and while it WAS nice to have him back, she was quite sure that he was loyal to someone else! And with so many new powers… Was he he a danger to Markov? To her other and future children? “Free Power!” ALWAYS had a hook in it!
Felans mother was all for simply having Felan enslave Tethen; it was good for Felan – and that took a high priority since Markov favored him – let Felan keep a threat to hang over the others, got him a powerful slave, and defused a possible threat to Markov AND his coalition AND them!
Tethen… had no objections. As a Thrall he was property anyway, and if his master wanted him to wear a collar and serve someone else, so be it!
Besides… He was a telepath too now – and, as a Thrall, he was guaranteed as many chances as he needed or wanted. He WOULD get to live, and to father children, and to adventure, and to be free, and so many other things – while many of his siblings might well get… only one chance, and it was already small. They were terrified and desperate because they believed that HE might be taking even that away from them – as if they needed any more fear or stress. If comforting them, and correcting that error in judgement, called for him to be slave-processed – well, that was what ought to be done! It wasn’t really permanent for a Thrall anyway. HE would have more chances.
THEY might not.
Markov had to wonder if processing Tethen would make that annoying fat mage come back though. Still, if the bothersome mage snatched Tethen again, that also solved the problem! The risk was small!
Markov took that risk. He called in Felan and told him that he was free to claim Tethen at any time, without having Tethen count against his quota.
Marty sighed. The other kids did have a point; if Tethen was a threat to them he did need to be processed – and his very presence had been sort of saying “Defeated rivals may come back at any time! You will NEVER be safe!”. Moreover, Thralls were happy to do their owners’ bidding, and it WOULD be simply temporary. And a Thrall-slave would be VERY useful to Felan.
One quick-and-easy enslavement and serenity returned to the harem – and Tethen returned to trotting at a masters heels. He might even be able to try and recruit Felan and any others who acquired souls from that position anyway.
Markov still tested the committee… Not for slavery, but for powers and physical capabilities, handing out a variety of minor magical baubles from his personal stores as prizes along the way. They had been pretty unhappy, and they had been brave and clever about their approach.
Lets see now… He had a magic absorber/storer, shamanic spirit adept, one who talked to almost anything at all, a luckmaster, an at-will short range teleporter, an equipment absorber / self-cyberer, a relic master, a just-getting-started theurgist, a potion maker, a spell amplifier (who boosted her own breath weapons), a minor speedster, and couple of combat monsters… Nothing nearly as broad-scale useful as Felan, but still impressive specialities for Hatchlings – and Theurgy could be quite potent!
The speedster was one of the green boys – the one who’d defeated a blue sibling and who had been winning quite a lot in the dominance-fights – and was the most physically adept out of them. He – like most of them – hadn’t been displaying his full special powers in the dominance-matches. Better to have secret reserves.
That was quite sensible too! He got a good prize!
Markov did keep a discreet eye on the theurge though. That might come in very useful later on!
- [Emergence Campaign] Federation-Apocalypse Session 196 — The Slave Rebellion (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 199 – Gold versus Red (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 193b – The Lesser Dragonwars (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- 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 197 – Philsantias Versus Sanity (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 192b – Dragon Hunting (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 192c – Reporting In (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 191a – The Many Worlds Apotheosis (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 177 – Family Matters (ruscumag.wordpress.com)