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It has worked perfectly so far. I’ve freed a lot of slaves from their mental domination, killed a lot of people I disagree with ideologically vis-a-vis property rights, and found my tactics were working fairly well. I just imagined cutting the little magic lines I saw connecting slaves to wherever they led, and they were fine. All that is left now is the main plantation house. The freed slaves who have friends and family inside are following me, everyone else is evacuating into the woods or scavenging for food and equipment. Supposedly there’s some haven to the north, and I am happily also heading north, so now I have lots of traveling companions. More surprising, none of them had anything to say about me being a troll. The slaves I have rescued are all one of three races: kobolds, orcs, and dark elves. I never thought I would see a kobold and imagine them as being adorable, but they are. They are kind of like scaled puppies. The orcs are big and green, and the dark elves have pastel hair colors. Hopefully they are okay with me traveling with them as we haven’t discussed it yet.
Incidentally, the bites from the fire ants are all gone. Not sure what happened there. I definitely need to research that later. No itches, no redness, nothing. Am I the kind of troll that regenerates?
“If you guys will kill the baddies, I’ll pin everybody for you first. Is there anything special in the house I need to be careful with? Maybe a master arch-mage?”
The freed slaves have armed themselves with sickles, scythes, axes of various kinds, mauls, some have grabbed the whips from the overseers, one kobold is dual-wielding little garden spades, they’re mostly using tools. That do horribly violent things. I just try to stay away from the blood spray.
“There’s the surgeon. He’s a slave, but I’m not sure if he’s enchanted or not. That guy is pretty scary. I’ve seen him split a melon in one motion barehanded. “
This is my new friend Jondahar, who is apparently a big man in the orc community here, and a big man in general. His thighs are bigger than my head, and I can tell because they are eye-level to me. Jondahar carries a maul that is larger than me. He has been polite to me, especially since I have gone along with all his suggestions about how to conduct this raid since I rescued him in my first encounter. Everyone else also defers to him, so I think he’s important in their community.
“Where is he in there? And do you think he will want to tangle with us if we kill all the Sidhe?”
If this surgeon is really that strong, I don’t really want to fight him. That sounds scary.
“That whole wing on the right is the infirmary. There’s pretty bad rumors about him, but most people have their memories wiped after a stay in the infirmary, so we aren’t really sure what’s true.”
There are pretty bad rumors about trolls, too, Jondahar, but I promise I am one hundred percent okay! Just don’t ask all the people I’ve killed recently.
“So how should we tackle this? The infirmary first or the rest of the house?”
If the infirmary doesn’t have many people, it might be better to ignore it so we don’t have the folks in the main house attacking us if we make too much noise tangling with that surgeon. I am not sure if my gravity magic will work on him or not if he is really that strong, but I could probably try using a higher gravitational constant.
“Around the back is where the house slaves work. Laundry, kitchens, all that. We should start there, and get them out first, and then go to the infirmary.”
Jondahar, you are an invaluable source of information for me, because I am fucking clueless about what I am doing here.
“There should be cooks and maids in there right now, everybody else is probably asleep. Most of the extra security was focused on the fields, so I think the house security is actually light.”
I might have a fairly high murder total by now. It’s hard to think of them as combat kills when they can’t fight back, but I don’t really care. Combat is scary, and if I think someone should be dead, then I will just make them dead. Combat is for people with weird pathologies to engage in and clueless teenagers to fantasize about. That Eldritch Assassin title is definitely not just for show. I am the mightiest magical murderhobo the land has ever seen! I really hope there’s no way for other people to see my titles, though. That might be awkward. I would like to find some way to talk to people about titles and things, but Moso controlled the flow of conversation all the time with me, and right now we’re a bit too busy for me to ask Jondahar or anyone else about my UI nonsense.
“Well, let’s do this. I’ll sneak up, open the door, and do my magic on anything alive in there so we can sort it out.”
Look at all this confidence. It’s basically falling out of my pockets, I have so much.
We get everybody out of the working areas. No overseers, although there were a couple slaves Jondahar killed. Most of the slaves are gone, they’re all getting things ready to get out of here. Jondahar and that kobold with the garden spades stuck around. While Jondahar was killing the last slave who was not freed, I lean over to the kobold and ask what was going on.
“Those guys were trusted enough by the Sidhe to work without mind control. Nobody has love for a house ogre.”
After that angry whisper, he spits on the ground. I have no love of ogres, but I’m not sure he means that word the same way I do.
“I can get behind that. By the way, I never caught your name?”
I like to make an effort getting to know people.
“Tuck. You get my people back to our mountain and you will have made some good friends.”
“Good to meet you, Tuck. I’m Zav. Looking to get to a magic university to get some help. I think I got a curse.”
Tuck seems like an okay guy, even though I saw him sever a windpipe with one of those garden spades earlier. He helped some women and children with packing and made sure the children were all accounted for. Also, he looks like kind of like a terrier. He even has this weird scaly frill that helps with the terrier mustache look. Kobolds are cute, despite being a horrible cross of reptile and mammal.
“Yeah, I didn’t figure you would want to look like a troll if you’re a wizard. Hey big man, we good here?” Jondahar is coming back, looking rather pleased.
“Everybody is accounted for, except for a few people in the infirmary, and the family. The family is all upstairs. I think we handle the infirmary first. We don’t want the surgeon sneaking up behind us.”
Wow, that surgeon guy sounds super dangerous. So dangerous, I might call all the things Jondahar has said about him to be fiveshadowing. Haha, I am jocular and not at all afraid.
“The infirmary has a door going outside? We should probably go in that way so if we make any noise it’s further away from the main part of the house.”
That wing of the plantation doesn’t have a second floor, so hopefully we can minimize our odds of waking up the Sidhe family.
“I feel pretty confident with a wizard assassin like you helping us out.”
Ah, Jondahar, I cannot refute those sparkling eyes. I do have this title, so I guess he isn’t really wrong.
“Yeah, that magic is amazing. I’ve never heard of anybody using magic like that before.”
Tuck, neither have I.
“It’s my secret technique that I trained for decades to master.”
Okay, this is an enormous untruthitude but I do not feel bad about telling a lie like this when the truth would make people call me a lying jerk. They’re both nodding their heads. Yeah, being a liar was definitely the appropriate thing here. I guess this is like a white lie, comparable to telling a woman that she doesn’t look fat or telling a guy you did not even notice his bald patch. I’m just keeping up appearances.
Oh no, Tuck is looking at me like a kid who has found a new idol. Well, if he wants any combat advice from me, the first thing I am going to tell him is to stop holding weapons in that stupid reverse grip. Doesn’t he know to keep his weapon in between himself and his enemies? Use an appropriate weapon for that grip if that’s what you’re into, like tonfa or something. Huh, I’m familiar with some weird fighting styles. Is that also an effect of that title?
“Okay, you guys stay outside the infirmary till I tell you it’s safe to come in. If that surgeon is really all that scary, you guys will just be targets for him.”
Oh! I said a pretty good thing here, didn’t I? I’m like a hero in a movie or something.
They both nod and agree. I ease open the door to the infirmary while they are both ducked down behind some weird long outdoor chest things. Inside the infirmary is weird. It feels more like a chapel, with ornate carvings, gold backdrops on the ceilings and cherubs and all sorts of ostentatious decoration. It looks like the Baroque period just had an orgasm all over the place, to be honest. Or was that Romanesque? But there are beds lined up, and a few people sleeping and-
What the fuck.
An enormous praying mantis. It’s fucking huge. It’s staring at me. There’s chittering, and mandibles that slowly open and shut, while some ichor drips. Its forelimbs end in curved scythes, and one of them is slowly coming up.
Fuck that, I throw a ton of gravity at it and it goes down! Hooray! I did a lot of gravity, and surprisingly, it did not go splat. Did I piss myself? No, I’m still cool. Can’t disappoint my fan when he comes in. Is this bug the surgeon, or is there somebody else here to worry about?
I am the surgeon.
I am getting mental messages! There’s this quiet sussurus that accompanies the words, like crickets in the evening.
“The giant praying mantis? You’re a surgeon?” He’s in the infirmary so I’m pretty sure he isn’t the garbage man, anyway.
Surgeon is a poor title for a person with my skills. I have spent a great deal of time here studying primate neurology and endocrinology.
“Cool. How did you study all that?” I mean, maybe he’s like some evil scientist who does unethical things? Can’t trust people like that, they’ll view me as a specimen! Probably. I don’t really know, but I have these anxieties that tell me what to think.
The Sidhe are good at causing concussions and stress. This has allowed me to study those stimuli as I please. Especially in autopsies. I generally do not do anything untoward to living slaves, as that might impact the finances of this family. Most of their wealth lay in the bodies of their slave. Ah, so the slave trading is more profitable than the agriculture, but you need to keep doing the agriculture to justify having the slaves. I think I remember something like that from history. The Sidhe are also fascinating to study, as they have an extra pancreas. Trying to discern how that differentiates their physiologies from other primates has been a satisfying avenue of research for the last few centuries. I have largely finished my research and am ready to peer review, however the Sidhe are loathe for me to leave them without a medic.
“I’ve freed pretty much all the slaves and killed most of the overseers, and I’m heading to some city with a magic university. Maybe you can publish there?” This is a horrifying bug monster, but maybe I am just prejudging them for being enormous and scary. Everyone just said the surgeon was scary, but nobody had a specific act to point out or anything.
Leaving would be fantastic. I just need to collect my research notes.
There is a certain tone to that last sentence suggesting I should let up on the gravity magic, so I do just that. As the mantis stands up, a scythe comes up again and then a hand rises from the middle legs.
My name is impossible to pronounce with your vocal organs, so call me Tyu.
I shake the hand. It’s really big, has weird barbs, and thumbs on both sides of the palm.
“My name is Zavyyn. I’m probably cursed.”
Some people fear the stigma of being cursed and hide, but I figure if my bad traits are out in the open, people will see me as honest, and perhaps be less afraid when I commit an atrocity like mass murder.
There are a few slaves in here, and all of them are fit to travel.
My health care is impeccable.
That’s a smug tone, and I hear a clicking. Is Tyu laughing? I think that’s laughter.
“I’m bringing in a couple of guys to check things out.” I go to the door, and signal for Jondahar and Tuck to come up.
Jondahar and Tuck take some convincing that Tyu probably is not going to disembowel them, then eat their entrails while laying eggs in their corpses. Tyu helps out the few slaves in there, looking relatively healthy, they decide maybe he is okay. Tyu’s antenna cross, and that clicking started again when they finally agree it is okay for him to travel with us. Well, if he can laugh off their fear of him, I guess he really isn’t that bad a guy. Bug. Horrifying bug monster.
So Jondahar decided he would help guide the slaves from the infirmary to the others, while Tuck and I assassinate the Sidhe. Tyu said he would help us with checking the house since he knew it the best out of us. As Jondahar’s group set off, I look at Tuck and decide there is an easy way to do this.
“I think I can suffocate everybody in there, and then make it look like it was a fire, and we don’t have to go back in there. That sound okay by you?”
They agree, so we open a few doors and windows and exit the house. I start making a giant column of carbon dioxide to cover the house, making sure it has enough time to permeate through the house, and then I gently blow all the carbon dioxide away, up into the atmosphere. That was easy enough. In we go!