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paradigm

...well, that happened.

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Word spread surprisingly fast in Izral, especially considering the disparity of power between the classes and a lack of any true governmental organization at play. That news could even traverse the expanse of the region was miraculous enough, never mind the veracity of the claims. They, being the talkers that ‘They’ were, claimed the slave market of Izral was in ruins. The life blood of several powerful merchant princes was being spilt and the grossly wealthy addressed the issue as only they could...by throwing money at it. With the slave trade on its last legs many merchant Princes were forced to protect their own interests: a mercenary’s wet dream. The call for bounty hunters had never been so loud as it was now. 

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Velleh Ah’bjyd was far from the wealthiest merchant prince, but he was certainly the most vain. Unfortunately, for Ah’bjyd his obsessive need for the finer things in life left him practically destitute. Aside from his lavish estate, the Merchant Prince was virtually penniless and with the slave trade dwindling, necessity saw him parting with some of his more exotic artifacts just to maintain his luxurious lifestyle. Mercenaries and bounty hunters alike flocked to the various merchant princes to offer their services. Whether to fill the ranks of the Prince's personal guard, or to hunt down any fleeing servants who thought to make off with pricey trinkets amidst the turmoil. 

So it was that  Garland found himself welcomed with open arms (so to speak) at the Ah’bjyd estate. In truth, his reasons for being there had little to do with the acquisition of coin and everything to do with sweet, sweet revenge. It took every ounce of Garland's self control to even look at the Ah'bjyd estate without vomiting. Every step he made felt weighed down by the shackles no longer fastened about his limbs. Peering down at scarred wrists, the youth ran an absent minded hand over the white patches of flesh that marred his otherwise tan complexion. It truly was a miraculous happenstance, this thorn in slavery’s side. No one thought the tall broad youth anything more than another sell sword. The heavyset man stationed at the guard house, waved Garland in and gestured for him to stand out of the doorway. 

"It's protocol..." the large man said, running thick fingers through his patchwork beard. "We get so many of you folks...er...I mean workers...not Izrali...I'm half-Izrali myself, on my mother's side...um...." 

Garland quirked a brow, uncertain exactly how one addressed a harmless faux pas. Truthfully, there were a great many social cues, the broad youth was rather clueless about. "Is Lord Ah'bjyd at the estate?" Garland asked, struggling to keep an even tone. 

The guard nodded. "Doesn't leave...um...er...Oh, I need your name...and uh...oh yeah, are you applying for a guard posting or were you um...here for something else." 

Garland pointed at the man, "The first one...the Guard posting. Yep. I'm a...expert at...keeping people alive," 

The heavyset man nodded his head and flipped through various forms on the table. "Great! Great! We...ah...we've been a little short staffed as of late...um...what with the um...difficulties with the unpaid laborers departing." 

Unpaid laborers? Garland had never heard slaves referred to as such, but he supposed it wasn't technically wrong. The heavyset guard rose from his chair and handed Garland a slip of parchment and a pen. "Fill this out and we'll contact you within 48 hours..." 

Garland did not take the pen. "I was hoping to start immediately." 

The guard paused and shook his head. "Captain Rothschild will want to do a small background check on you, it's not strenuous...just a cursory thing..." 

Garland peered down at the pen. It was going to be difficult to fill that form out when he couldn't even read. Already things seemed to be derailing in a monumental fashion. "Ah...I can't really read." Garland explained. "Just never really picked it up." It wasn't unheard of, some children from the Izrali slums never attended a day of school...so long as they assumed Garland to be an Izrali peasant and not an escaped slave...

"Oh...um...what did you say your name was again?" The guard asked, turning back towards his desk, a large pudgy hand reaching for his radio." 

Garland moved without thinking and slammed his hand into the guard's back, using a rush of air to slam the large man against the desk with enough force to drive the wind out of him and send a stream of spittle against safety glass in front of him. 

"So much for that plan..." Garland muttered to himself, reaching down to snap the guard's neck with practiced ease. The sound and scent of loosening bowels filled the guardhouse, prompting Garland to sigh heavily. "Well...I don't think your pants would have fit me anyway..." 

Edited by paradigm
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The guards scattered about the mess hall grumbled about shortened rations, but Garland thought it a feast. Seasoned spink broth, a thick strip of boar jowl and a boiled black fowl egg; Garland never imagined he’d see this much food on a plate that belonged to him. As a slave in the fighting pits the usual diet consisted of bean paste gruel with the occasional meat chunk, a thin flat bread to scoop it up with, and boiled water. Every year around some Izrali holiday he’d never learned about, the masters allowed them a small cup of broth. Surprisingly, Garland did not ravenously devour the meal before him. Instead, he savored every sip of broth as though it were the nectar of the gods, every bite of the crisp boar jowl was the divine ambrosia and the egg—that was the most treasured of his feast. He’d never tasted anything like it and once dipped in the broth it sent a rush through him that began at his tongue rolled down his neck and shoulders until it dissipated throughout him. 

 

They turned their nose up at this and it infuriated  him. Rising with his empty bowl and plate Garland reigned in his fury and moved to deposit his utensils in a designated bin. 

 

———

 

“Who’s the new guy?” Ambrose asked, a tilt of his head singling out a tall youth in a mismatched uniform clearly surly over the slim meal provided. 

 

“Some dipshit Izrali lookin to get plowed, how the fuck should I know? Captain Rothschild has been hiring just about any wayward fuck willing to get shot at. Boo hoo, kiddies, the grub’s shit. Deal with it.” Connor replied.

 

Ambrose turned his eyes from the young recruit and focused on the disappointing meal. “ Captain was pretty pissed about the last slave shipment going belly up.” Ambrose dropped his egg in the broth and took a bite of the tough jowl. 

 

Connor snorted “He’s pissed because Ah’bjyd crawled his ass...I heard the last shipment of slaves never made it here and the little merchant prince took a bath. To make matters worse, the slaves he’d been grooming  for the fighting pits  all took off as soon as they got to the city. Some type of revolt or something. Ah’bjyd blamed the Captain for not seeing to the transport himself.” Dropping his own boar jowl on his plate, Connor scowled. “You’ll break a tooth chewing on that shit...”

 

Ambrose shrugged and swallowed “Meh, who gives a fuck about a few slaves? They don’t even use em in the Cosa and Ark Prime Regions anymore.”

 

“Tell that to his highness.” Connor rolled his eyes “Twat’s always spent coin faster than he could make it,  but he bought his last batch of slaves on credit (them that run off) and the ones that never arrived were bought on the promise of profit from the last batch. He’s in deep shit and the other Princes ain’t likely to let him off easy.”

 

Taking another bite of jowl, Ambrose spoke around his mouthful “All I know is, when the coin stops, I stop. Too many places to make a living to work for nothing.”

 

“Amen to that. If I wanted to work for nothin, I’d have joined the bloody Masons. But you know how it is with these rich fucks...even when they’re broke they got coin. S’why he’s selling off his trinkets. If Ah’bjyd was desperate enough he could sell half his wardrobe at half price and could afford to pay twice as many guards twice as much for five years. Bloody criminal, but his pockets are deeper than an ocean. I mean, hell I didn’t come to the asshole of Alterion cus I like killing goat fuckers.”

 

“Weird shit, that slave revolt, tho. Not a good sign when the bottom rung punches upwards.”

 

“Meh, bound to happen sooner or later. Slaves will always be a thing in Izral, but the widespread network? Might be over. The Rebellion turned a blind eye to it cus the money was good, the Masons didn’t care so long as they didn’t have to see it. It was always the Merchant Princes’ machine and now it’s busted. Question is whether it’s worth fixing? How many of this rich pricks even rely on the slave market? Take Ah’bjyd’s last batch, the fighting pit slaves, most of em will end up in the fighting pits again, either as convicts fighting for a reduced sentence or gladiators fighting for coin. Now, some smart Princeling owns those pits and win or lose, he gets paid. The only person fucked in this scenario is Ah’bjyd and those like him—the fucks too stupid to get out of the way of history.”

 

Ambrose peered at Connor, wide eyed. “Shit, man...that’s pretty spot on...”

 

Connor shrugged. “Well, I ain’t just a pretty face...hey, looks like Torg’s fuckin with the new blood.”

 

Ambrose turned, half interested and half disgusted with the notion. “Ugggh,” he groaned, “I got detail with that ass tonight, Captain’s orders.”

 

Connor shrugged. “That’s right, You got an invite too. Heh, half forgot that. Captain told me last night to report at 018:00. Think it’ll just be me, you, Torg and the Captain.”

 

“What’s the deal? We goin somewhere?” 

 

“Captain’s been tight lipped about it...but I think Ah’bjyd’s planning to move some hot merchandise and wants as few people as possible to be involved. And I know Torg’s a steady sword...but fuck is he an asshole. Just look at that smug prick,” Connor gestures to Torg, now engaged with the new recruit in some altercation. “I’m all for fucking with the new blood, but I’m not gonna feed some dumb kid his  teeth because he called me on my shit.” 

 

Ambrose’ eyes went wide. “HOLY SHIT!” 

 

———

The plastic receptacle which received Garland’s items was filled with a thin layer of water and splashed a few harmless drops from within its confines to the countertop. Garland moved to wipe the drop away with the cuff of his sleeve but felt the sting of an open palm across the back of his head. The pain did not  alarm him so much as the suddenness of its arrival. Garland accepted pain as a daily part of his life in the pits. His proneness for receiving beatings was largely how he ended up as a pit slave. Filling a cup too low resulted in a broken wrist, too high and sometimes they’d only break a finger. 

 

Such resiliency was better served beneath a lanista’s whip. Darting his hands out to collect his cap, Garland turned towards the source of the strike to see a short man, more squat than stout, a red soldiers cap resting ago his mop of greasy black hair. Quirking a brow at the man, Garland doffed his cap and moved to brush past. A thick fingered hand clasped Garland’s bicep. 

 

“Easy, Boot.” The man sneered. “You got shit water on me.” The man moved to shove Garland, but the large youth’s body retreated from the hand as it attempted contact. It looked as though the man had shoved him, but his stubby fingers never touched the fabric of his jacket. The hand in Garland’s bicep tightened and the stranger stuck the toe of his boot forward. “Lick it clean, you Izrali fuck.

 

“You should remove your hand,” Garland cautioned, his voice lazy and features passive. 

 

“Or?” The dark man grinned digging the tips of his fingers into the meat of Garland’s arm.

 

Garland surprised himself. It has been drilled into him so many times that his body reacted without thought. In a crisp and smooth motion, Garland snaked his own arm around the man’s and as easily as one might lean against the wall, pulled his attacker’s arm out of its socket. 

Somewhere in the mess a cry (“HOLY SHIT!”) rang out.

The man gave a high pitched yelling cry, more akin to a wounded dog than a man and lashed out with his other hand in retort. Garland shifted his feet and seemingly floated towards the approaching hand, grasping it by the wrist and bending it backwards. “Or I can remove it...” 

 

Pressing the fingertips of his free hand against the base of the man’s wrist Garland continued in his last voice. “Ah...um...it’s not as hard to remove a hand as you’d thing. Bone is very dense, but...ah...but the joints just require enough pressure in the right spot.” He applied more pressure and the man whined again. “Shall I show you?” 

 

Edited by paradigm

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Garland felt a shift in the air, it was almost imperceptible but with his guard up it shine like a beacon in the night sky. Releasing the man’s wrist, Garlands boots slid backwards and arms splayed as he pushed his chest towards the floor. Keeping his base beneath him, Garland’s arms splayed our behind him, his face only inches from the floor. His teacher had said this stance was named for some type of elegant water fowl, but Garland thought a more apt name would be ‘stretch  before using.’ While his body instinctually knew the position,  the youth could feel the ligaments in his legs and back straining. He was going to be sore tomorrow morning. 

 

A spout of lavender energy passed over Garland’s prostrate form and slammed into the man in front of him sending the whinging bully into the adjacent wall with a thud. Garland shifted his weight, rotated his feet and fixed his gaze on his new attacker. Looming above him, garbed in crimson and gold was a muscular man in his late forties. Clean shaven and sullen, his features were hard and his eyes were a milky white, blotted out by whatever internalized cauldron of power bubbles within him. Turning his nose up, the man sniffed. “Apologies, Torg. Though you did deserve it, I’d felt you suffered enough.” The broad man straightened his back and brightly polished buttons strained against the muscular man’s barreled chest. 

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“You must be new...” he did not ask, eyeing Garland. “I am Captain Rothschild, your commanding officer.”

 

“You attacked me.” Garland reminded him, not abandoning his stance. 

 

Rothschild’s face split into a wide smile. “That I did and you responded admirably. Shall we see how you fair against a true warrior, rather than a thug with a sword?” Spreading his feet shoulder width apart, Rothschild raised his hands in a defensive stance. “Come closer, recruit. I’d like to know who taught you that stance?”

 

Garland brought his arms forward into a defensive position but did not move his feet, remaining squared off against the Captain. Slamming his arms forward, Garland sent a condensed blade of wind hurtling towards Rothschild. The large man flexed and met the blast, folding his arms over his chest to absorb the blow. More than a little surprised to see Rothschild still on his feet, Garland left into the air and drove both of his feet forward. Another gust battered against the Captain, sending trays and bystanders flying backwards, but Rothschild was unmoved.

 

His strange lavender aura pulsated around his form, sparking deep within his eyes. “You’re an egoist.” Rothschild said, sounding impressed. “But whoever trained you neglected to teach you the true strength in our particular style.” 

 

Without warning Rothschild sent a phantom fist of energy towards Garland. Hopping backwards, Garland encased his hands around the phantom limb, battering it with his own energy. Several sweeps and passes of his hands later saw it dissipate before it could collide with his own broad form. Garland doubled over, straining to catch his breath. Stepping forward, Rothschild grinned wildly. “Yes! Very good! Anyone can infuse their ego into the air, but there are only five people in Alterion who could  have taught you to combat my id. Tell me, boy, are you here to kill me?” 

 

“No.” Garland said between gasping breaths. “I don’t even know you...I’m just here for the money...and...um...ah...whew...the job.”

 

Rothschild studied Garland for a moment before gesturing at the youth. “Since you’ve effectively crippled Torg, you will fill his spot for tonight’s detail. Ambrose! Connor! See to it that Recruit...?” He left the unasked question hanging in the air. 

 

“Ah, uh...Garland.” 

 

“Unfortunate...” Rothschild muttered. “See to it that recruit Garland is ready for his detail within the hour. Lord Ah’bjyd wishes us to re-secure the tombs.” 

 

Two men amidst the crowd gave a salute, their eyes studying Garland with a mix of apprehension and fascination. 

 

“Very good!” Rothschild said, turning on his heel. “We shall finish the conversation of your Master after our business tonight has concluded. I’d very much like to know how my old friend fares.”

 

Straightening his back, Garland watched as Rothschild left the room, dragging  any hope of victory Garland had out of the tall youth. Assassinating Ah’bjyd seemed impossible now...let alone escaping with his life intact.  

 

 

Edited by paradigm

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Following the scuffle with Torg and Captain Rothschild, Garland was led away by the two soldiers Rothschild had referred to as Connor and Ambrose. The pair were cordial enough, considering that only moments ago Garland was squaring off against their commanding officer. The pair led him through a series of lavish hallways before stopping at a balcony overlooking a windowless room. Lit solely by crystal lamps, the room was spartan in comparison to the rest of Ah'bjyd's estate. The vast open space was partitioned off by a series of flowing curtains-- a dense thick fabric of royal blue for the partitions and a light muslin beige fabric over the doorways leading deeper into the tombs. 

The older of the two guards, Connor, gestured out towards the partitions and nodded at Garland. "The partitioned off parts of the room are where the Merchant Prince's items will be stored. You'll carry a vid crystal and point it wherever the Captain tells you to. Ah'bjyd will be in communique with his fellow Princes over his own line. Each of his colleagues is at one of his seasonal estates. Ambrose and I will transport the items through the doorways. The Captain has the rune key necessary to activate the transport sigils and will send the items to the specified locale when Ah'bjyd confirms payment. Simple enough. Do what you're told and don't fuck up." 

Raising a dark brow, Garland nodded his head. "Um...yeah, I can do that." Clearing his throat, the youth shuffled his feet. "The job I mean, not the fucking up part. Ah...I mean that I won't fuck up."  After an awkward moment of silence, Ambrose burst forth and let out a non-committal noise. "Eh...So...Hey...when you fucked Torg up the Captain said something about you being an Egoist. If it ain't prying...the fuck is that?" 


Garland paused and thought for a moment. While he couldn't remember his master's words verbatim, Garland remembered a decent amount of his trainer's ministrations. "There’s an idea that the human psyche...ah...er...soul is composed of three energy constructs, the id, the ego and the super ego. My master explained it that all mortals are connected to these constructs. The id is our basest desires, our instinctual need. The super-ego encompasses our moral limitations and parameters. The super ego seeks to put limiters on our id, usually by applying morality. A good person wouldn’t do this, etc. The ego is the middle ground by which these two conflicting forces compromise. It seeks to bring the id to reality whilst managing expectation and limiting output." Leaning against the edge of the balcony, Garland tilted his cap and scratched his head. "Er...sorry, got it crossed there. Egoists manifest these ideas as internalized sources of power. "

Placing his hand on the railing of the balcony, Garland tapped his finger and the collected dust that settled on the rail floated upward and spiraled around into a mini whirlwind. " Basically an Egoist is someone who takes these basic ideas and applies them to the internal energy that exists within all living beings. They’re just names for these aspects of ourselves that alter the way our energy is expressed in the world. When I create a gust of powerful wind, I’m manipulating what is currently there by expressing my ego. The same principle can be applied when I strike someone. I focus my ego (my id and super ego blended and regulated into a stable energy) and express it in any number of ways. I can feed it into my muscles to strikes harder or move faster, or to my skin to make it more durable. 

"It’s not that different from a mage using mana to cast a spell, or an Alchemist using a synthetic crystal to enhance his alchemy. Energy from within is gathered, expressed and manipulated to desired effect. "


Scratching at his chin, Connor folded his arms across his chest and sniffed. " Is that different from what the Captain does?" 

Letting the whirlwind peter out, Garland shrugged. "Yes and no. The Captain bypasses any filter or limiter. He is dealing with raw id, unstable energy. Pure instinct. Primal rage. "

"Why can’t you do that?" Ambrose piped up, his eyebrows furrowed in consternation. 

"I could" Garland clarified. " But it’s super impractical. When someone gets really angry, and I mean like frothing mad...they tend to be capable of great strength. Adrenaline is pumping, they’re overly aggressive and fight supersedes flight. It’s not a bad tool. Lots of martial artists and athletes use their anger. Now imagine walking around like that every second, all day, every day. The strain on your heart would be insane. You’d die from exhaustion or a heart attack or both. When I draw on my energy I’m filtering out any negative excess energy. I only gather and use what I need and what my body can handle. Honestly, it’s a miracle your...ah...the Captain is even alive."

Connor gave a shrug of confusion. "I don't get it.The Captain has been wrecking shit like that as long as I've known em...and you make it sound like you can't even attempt it without dying. Sounds fishy." Ambrose nodded in agreement. 

 

Garland shook his head. "It's hard to explain if you haven't dealt with the energy before. It's possible Rothschild trained his body for it over a long period of time and built up a sort of tolerance for it...but eventually it's going to catch up to him." 

The pair looked at one another and shrugged. Leaning forward Connor patted Garland on the shoulder and gestured down the nearby stairwell. "We're on in the next half hour or so. Remember..." 

"Yup..." Garland replied, heading down the stairs. "I remember...don't fuck up." 

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Sitting atop the steps overlooking the tombs, Garland let his thoughts overtake him. 

 

~*~

 

“You did well today, Kyu. Ekhar will not underestimate you again.” 

 

“I don’t consider that a good thing, Master.” 

 

“Teacher,” The squat old man corrected. “No man has the right to own another.” 

 

“Someone should inform the Merchant Princes.” Kyu practically spat at their owner’s title.

 

Ignoring the boy’s snark, the old man continued with his critique. “You killed three of Ekhar’s friends in the arena today. He will be ready for you. He is a strong opponent. The fight will test you and if you are fortunate, Sosha, will kiss you.”

 

“The goddess of death isn’t exactly who I hoped to share my first kiss with, Teacher.”

 

As he was prone to do when frustrated with his pupil, Kyu’s teacher darted a hand out and slapped two fingers against the youth’s brow. Kyu sighed and bowed his head in apology. “This is the way of our clan, Kyu. We seek out the strong. We seek only to better ourselves.” 

 

“Yes Teacher.” The young slave replied.

 

~*~

 

If he was destined to die here, so be it. He would show Ah’bjyd and his cronies the strength of the  kyōken.

 

~*~ 

 

"Garland..." His teacher said, cupping a hand to his cheek. "If I'd had a son...that's what I'd have named him...take it....please." The man cradled in his arms felt weightless, his voice a hoarse mockery of the commanding tone that had run him through so many drills over the years. 

 

"Teacher...I'm sorry...I've failed you..." the youth said, wiping tears from his eyes. "I should have known...”

 

His teacher’s fingertips pressed into his brow, drawing Kyu’s words up short. “Ah’bjyd could not afford for Ekhar to lose. This is my failing and my punishment for not seeing that. It was foolish to think we could earn our freedom... in the end I am nothing but an old fool.”

 

~*~

“Rookie!” Ambrose’s voice called out. “Form up! The Merchant Prince is arriving.” 

 

Pulled out of his stupor by the older guardsmen, Garland rose to his feet and moved to stand alongside them. In a few moments, Captain Rothschild entered from the opposite end of the stairs with the Merchant Prince in tow.

 

Velleh Ah'bjyd appeared younger than Garland expected him to be. Since childhood the picture of his Owner in his head was something more akin to a deity...or a devil. Either way, in Garland's perception the man who owned him was always perceived to be otherworldly and always spoken of with such reverence. To see the man now in all his vanity and finery, Ah'bjyd seemed a parody of Garland's fears. Though older than Garland, Ah'bjyd was not someone the youth considered old. His skin was the ruddy dark complexion of an Izrali and his clothing, while of exquisite quality and caliber was by no means flashy. Green piercing eyes looked past Garland the guards, focusing only on Captain Rothschild. All for the best, considering that Garland was fighting and failing to control his rage. 

 

“Let’s get this over with. I have an appointment I need to make this evening.”

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It took every ounce of Garland’s restraint not to launch himself at Ah’bjyd. Rothschild’s presence helped to deter him, if only because the youth realized the experienced egoist would lay him out before he could lay hands on the Merchant Prince. Fortunately, Ah’bjyd was just the right flavor of ‘smug cunt’ to pay no attention to those he deemed beneath him. In the downtime between his tour with the Ambrose and Connor and Ah’bjyd’s arrival, the Merchant Prince’s items were rolled out and placed in the various positions. It all happened faster than Garland realized. A large Vice with handles on either side was shoved in his hands and orders were given by Ambrose to keep the ‘damned shitting thing’ pointed at whatever item Ah’bjyd was referencing. Simple enough. 

 

In less than twenty minutes, Ah’bjyd led them through almost all of the partitioned off sections, speaking in a dialect Garland didn’t recognize into his own personal Crystal datapad. When they reached the last two rooms, Ah’bjyd moved towards the portal entrance and Rothschild accompanied him. Ambrose and Connor moved to either side of a large stone pedestal and lifted a marble casing off to reveal a large leather glove with a concave aperture at the wrist. 

 

Rothschild gestured for Garland to stand between Ambrose and Connor keeping himself and Ah’bjyd on Camera. 

 

 “And now,” Ah’bjyd said in a high nasally voice returning to a language, Garland actually understood. “Our premier items. First, one of the Gloves of King Aramus of Vielset. Those of you who follow foreign politics will recognize this as an artifact of the warlord Roku. A powerful warrior, Roku stormed Vielset and killed Aramus taking this glove for himself. He then found it’s pair and with this power took he city of Palgard almost single handedly. Eventually a man from the terrorist cell, Entropy killed Roku and took the gloves for himself. The psionic crystals that power the gloves were removed and remain with Roku’s killer, but the Gloves still retain a considerable

portion of their former power.” 

 

Garland’s eyes fixated on the glove. He could feel the raw energy radiating from the pedestal. With something like that in his possession, Garland could make short work of Rothschild. 

 

“Though it pains me to part with it, I’ve little

use for such a weapon. I leave the earring and killing to those more brutish than I. Shall we start the bidding at 12 million coin?” 

 

Ah’bjyd’s datapad lit up as bids came in, the Merchant Prince’s eyes shimmeringly brightly. But Garland could not stop peering st the glove. He could grab the glove before Ambrose or Connor could stop him, but they’d lay hands on him before he could slip it on. He could dispatch the two guards, but that risked Rothschild getting to him first. 

 

No danger of Rothschild using the glove. With his raw id power augmented by the glove, Rothschild would be split in half by his own soul. The real question was: could Garland get the glove on before Rothschild reached him. The man had to go a few meters and Garland was less than a meter away. Even with all his power...yes, there was no way he could beat Garland to it. 

 

Connor and Ambrose’s eyes went wide as Garland dropped the camera and their hands moved to grab the glove. However, before a single fingertip touched the enchanted fabric, Garland drove his knuckles into their windpipes. As the two guards fell in crumpled heaps towards the floor, Garland rushed to grab the glove, only to feel Rothschild’s fist bear down on him. Lurching back, Garland tried to reach out with his fingertips in a desperate bid for the glove, only to feel air pass through his fingertips. Waving his arms to stabilize himself, Garland slid backwards and readied himself for Rothschild’s next attack.

 

The former slave felt his blood run cold as Captain Rothschild raised the glove and slipped it on his hand.

Edited by paradigm

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