Time and Place – Chapter 17

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The weeks turned into months and the months dwindled on. Learning to speak a new language did not come easily to Darian. He had never been particularly good at foreign languages. More so, they lacked any paper or writing utensils, making learning that much more difficult. Nevertheless, they used the tools they had available to them.

Devin started him out easy. He would just point to random objects in the room and declare their names. Regrettably, there were not very many things in the room and within a day or two Darian could name most of the items around him. Occasionally he would use the book he had had to teach Darian reading, which was a religious scripture that functioned as the only form of writing in the room. It was boring and dull, and Devin himself had already read the thing a half dozen times. Sometimes, Devin would dump the contents of their porridge on the floor, and draw in the liquid lumps. This seemed to work well for an hour or two until the food dried out and began to clump.

As Darian began to learn more, they started to have conversations in the common tongue to help Darian speak it better. Sometimes they would sit late into the night, telling bawdy jokes or funny stories from their youths. The longer time progressed, the harder these stories became to remember. After a time, Darian had to start making up his own stories, as the stories he used to remember seemed long gone.

Devin wasn’t content just having him learn the language though. He often spoke about Taerren culture and history, telling Darian about the modes of currency, commerce, and even lifestyle. Darian wondered why these things were so important to know. He had grown to suspect he would die in this prison along with Devin. He was already starting to forget any time outside the cell. It had gotten to the point where the weekly torture sessions almost became a welcomed change from the daily monotony.

Perhaps that is why Devin felt it was so important to teach Darian. Devin’s memory seemed to be effected in much the same ways as Darian’s. Teaching Darian his culture was a way of preventing himself from forgetting it. Cultural knowledge didn’t seem to be the only thing that Devin was forgetting, however. As the time progressed, Devin started forgetting words of English. Before long, Darian found himself helping Devin find the right words as often as the other way around.

It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for Darian. As Devin spoke less and less English, he found himself learning the common tongue more quickly so that he could continue to communicate with his roommate. He couldn’t lose that. The cell they were in had put a great deal of stress on the both of them. If he were to lose the capacity to communicate with the only other person in his world, he did not know what he would do.

They each had their bad days. Sometimes, they would scream at the top of their lungs for no reason. Other times they would tear up the sheets to their bed, throw their food at the walls, or destroy anything and everything in sight. They had to; no one should ever have been placed in a cage like this for as long as the two of them had. To say that Darian was stir crazy would be a mass understatement.

The two friends had an unspoken agreement. The days they needed to rant, or scream, or do any number of violent and aggressive actions just to continue to feel alive, they forgave each other for. Whatever this prison was, they were there together, and they weren’t going anywhere.

The worst part for Darian was the dreams. Every night it seemed that Darian had violent dreams. They seemed to steadily increasing in vividness. Sometimes he would wake up screaming, unable to separate the dream from reality. The most common dream he had was of the darkness. He was never someone who was scared of the dark, but that didn’t seem to matter in this dream. He felt alone, without help, surrounded by the darkness. He wasn’t afraid of things that might be hiding in the dark; he seemed to be afraid of the darkness itself. As if the darkness would somehow swallow him up. He often woke up in a cold sweat just before the invisible claws of the darkness snapped shut around him.

Other dreams he had often had included the man he killed, the woman who died saving him, and the sister who saw it happen. It was the sister’s eyes that haunted them the most. They accused him. He would plead to the eyes. He told them that he did what he could, that it wasn’t his fault. But her eyes just continue to look down on him, hate-filled and cold. He would always turn away, only to see the eyes of the woman who died for him looking up from where she laid on the ground. She was a kind person. He never knew what she said when he was with her, but those eyes and that voice were kind. Then she had died for him.

That dream hurt the most. It bit deep into his heart and clenched it. He often woke sobbing when he had that dream. If those were the only two dreams he had, he probably could have copped. But there were other dreams, dreams that felt strangely vivid. He often saw the woman, the one with the accusing eyes, walking into a calamity. He shouted at her as the trap close around her, but she was oblivious to his words.

Some dreams reflected a war. Dark beasts flooded across planets Darian had never seen, overwhelming everyone in their path. They would kill mercilessly. Children, women, old, sick; it didn’t matter, the beasts tore them apart without remorse. They would use weapons, claws, or even teeth. Their swarm grew rapidly outward, like of a flood of evil across the universe. He could hear a voice too, a voice in the dark, urging them forward, always driving them towards the next world.

He saw the planet he had come from too. He could no longer remember its name, but he remembered the blueness. He remembered the beautiful oceans. In the dream, his people would always be happy, and then in a flash, they were gone. He never saw what happened, just a flash. After that, there were no people and no cities. The oceans dried up, and the landscape turned into dirt and sand and dust.

He often told Devin about his strange dreams. Darian had recalled a dream where he was lost in a desert island. The girl was there, always staring at him, not the girl who had died, but her sister. He tried to talk to her, but she would not respond, just stare. It made him feel lonely. Perhaps it was lonelier than had she not been there at all. He would slap her, shake her, yell at her, to get her to react to his presence, but she just kept staring at him and doing nothing else. The old man told him not to dismiss his dream. They held importance. They could unlock hints at the future. Darian laughed at that one, but then Devin got very serious.

“You and the future will have a very interesting relationship. Never mock what you see, you will grow to depend on those visions,” He said, his finger playing with some of the food he was not interested in eating.

“What is that supposed to mean, what visions? They are just silly dreams.” Darian responded.

“Is she pretty?” Devin asked, changing the subject, “The girl in your dream, the one with the sister who died.”

“I suppose she could be considered pretty,” he responded, letting the subject be changed.

“Do you like her?”

“I don’t even know her.” Darian eyed Devin uncomfortably.

“You don’t need to know someone to like them, people like other people they don’t know all the time, with a look, a smell, a simple good feeling.”

“I don’t think it really works like that, you need to know someone before you can like them…” Darian began.

“Lord and Lady, I’m not saying you need to marry her, I’m just saying sometimes a pair of eyes sticks in your head for other reasons than guilt,” Devin chuckled.

Darian didn’t respond. Instead he shrugged and rolled over, closing his eyes. Sleep did not come easily for him, however. When sleep finally did take him, he dreamt about a thousand eyes chasing him around, no two alike.

When he woke the next morning, he went to the sink and washed his mouth out with a few swallows of water from the tap, which was the only kind he ever could remember drinking. He vaguely recalled a time where he drunk water from a cup, but the thought even seemed foreign to him at this point.

It was his day to visit the lab for a torture session, as they had come to call them. It made him a little anxious. He had grown used to them, in a way, but the thought of being strapped in that chair always unnerved him and left him in a cold sweat.

The old man remained asleep, his blanket draped over his eyes to block out the light in the room. Lights out lasted exactly 8 hours before the bright lights that encompassed the room flickered back on.

The lights were in panels in the ceiling. When they stood on their beds, they could just reach the lights, but they were behind strong, clear, protective plating that prevented the lights themselves from being touched. Neither Devin nor Darian had figured out a way to break through or remove the plating, should they desire to take out the light bulbs and give themselves a respite from the constant lighting, which often felt too bright for comfort.

Breakfast had already been shoved through the opening in the wall, displaying two bowls full of the same porridge that Darian had eaten from as far as he could remember. He gladly ate his bowl. It seemed a great deal easier to suffer through the sessions on a full stomach, as the inevitable throwing up he would do later went easier when there was something that could actually come up. This contrasted with Devin’s philosophy, which was the less you had, the less time you spent throwing up. In the time he had been in this cell, he still hadn’t decided who was right.

After he was done eating, he ran in place for a few minutes, did a few situps and pushups to help keep his body moving, and stretched a little. He washed up in the bathroom using the available sink, as he always did.

Soap was provided for them from a wall outlet that never seemed to run out. It smelled sterile, but did not resemble any substance Darian could remember. At the very least, it dried out his skin and made it feel clean. It was not meant for hair, however, and his hair was dry and brittle now.

By the time he was done with his routine, Devin began rousing from his sleep, which is to say he had thrown the blanket to the ground and was groaning as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. After taking one look at Darian, he sighed and rolled over, pressing his face into his pillow.

The door finally slid open. Darian stood to allow his guard to take him over to the lab. The guard today was Bob. He had grown quite comfortable with the routine, and rarely came into any issues with the guards. The guards, in turn, had become comfortable with him and more relaxed as a result. Before long, he found himself strapped into the chair again.

Like always, the scientist came in and set up the equipment. He cursed several times as he worked at putting the equipment together. He glanced several times nervously at Darian as he worked. Darian had never seen the strange man like this before. The man suddenly stopped his work, preceded to the door, and looked outside, trying to look casual while doing it, but failing miserably.

He headed back into the room, his eyes glancing across the room. When his eyes fell on Darian he jerked a little, walking towards Darian. He glanced at Darian up and down, finally sighing.

“I never wanted to do this you know,” he said in the common tongue.

Darian stared at him blankly, giving no indication that he could understand him. For some reason, he felt this was the right thing to do.

“They…my family,” the man winced as if he was in pain before turning away, “I know you can’t understand, but I am sorry, I wish there was a way.”

The scientist shook his head before walking back to the machine. He put his hand on the machine for a few seconds. He glanced back at Darian. Was that a tear in his eye? Darian was confused by his strange behavior, to say the least. Finally the man, turned towards the door. Darian realized he could give up this opportunity just yet.

“It’s not your fault, but there is always a way,” Darian said.

The man whirled around, staring at him hard, “You, you understand me?”

“I learned,” Darian replied.

The scientist nodded slowly, a strange look coming over his face. He turned and left the room without another word. Darian sighed. It was worth a try. He had still felt that strange affection for the man; he must have been going insane.

As the minutes passed, the machine did not turn on and the pain did not start. Darian began to grow very anxious. He hated it when things fell outside his predictions. Why did the machine not start? Where was the pain? After a few minutes, he started shaking. He began pulling against the bonds that held him. What’s going on? What happened?

He screamed. He screamed for help. He screamed for the man to come back. He rocked violently, pulling on the bonds. He eventually grew horse and out of breath as he struggled and fought. The chair didn’t move and inch and the straps remained tight. After about an hour, a guard came in. By this point he was breathing hard, his eyes blurry, his hands sore.

“Well, it looks like you’re awake through that one. That means I don’t need to carry you,” said Bob the guard.

Darian did not respond as the guard unstrapped him and lead him back to his room. When the guard closed the door behind him, Darian started laughing. Devin looked at him confused as he collapsed to the floor, continuing to laugh.

“What is it boy, have you finally snapped?”

“No pain…” Darian finally burst out through fits of laughter.

After getting himself calmed down, and back in his bed, he explained what had happened in the lab. Devin listened calmly before replying.

“Pain? What kind of pain?” Devin asked.

Darian laughed, thinking Devin was making a joke until he saw the look on Devin’s face.

“The pain from whatever they do to us in there, radiation, I guess, or lasers, or something. The worse pain ever, like they are ripping you apart from the inside out. I know the experiments make both of us a little forgetful, but the experiments themselves are hard to forget.”

Devin looked had him a few seconds with a worried expression, then a smile broke out on his face as he chuckled.

“Oh right, of course, so maybe he’s going to stop doing it now?” Devin chuckled.

“I doubt it, probably just a fluke, still, it feels good, like I won the lottery, getting a day off like that.”

However, when Devin’s day came up and he returned from his torture session, Darian asked about it. Devin continued to act confused about the pain, but declared that there was no pain during his session either. Darian assumed that Devin was just breaking down. Perhaps he was blocking out the torture, it was hard to tell.

Still, when Darian’s next day came, the guards took him and changed him down as normal. The man came in, never once glancing at Darian, but when the time for the machine to start came, nothing happened. Devin’s denials began to confuse Darian. Did he ever feel the pain to begin with, or was that just a piece of his imagination?

The guards mumbled a couple of times about how much better the prisoners seemed to be doing than they used to, which provided Darian some comfort. He hoped he wasn’t losing his mind like his friend. His sanity was one of the few things left to him.

Darian attempted to speak to Devin about the scientist, whom he had grown convinced was behind the stop in experiments. However, that mode of communication seemed to dry up. Devin seemed to grow more confused every day. Soon that confusion seemed to grow into anger.

“What is with you and that scientist, Faraday!” Devin snapped one day, “He is just another Taerren like any other, and certainly no friend of ours! I’d rather be back in prison than here!”

At this point he spoke exclusively in common tongue, as Devin no longer seemed to remember any worlds in Darian’s tongue.

“You never told me you were in prison before,” Darian said, trying to steer the conversation away from the scientist.

“What are you talking about! You were in prison with me, for almost a year before we ended up in this hellhole with no one to talk to and nothing to do!”

“We met in this hellhole, and I don’t remember anything besides it, but I think I’d remember something like prison.” Darian responded.

“So you’re going crazy? Seems like it was an inevitability, I hope I never go crazy like you,” Devin sighed, a look of sympathy in his eyes.

“I’m crazy?” Darian asked indignantly,” You’re the one who can’t remember my language when you could speak it when we got here, you’re the one saying I’ve been in a prison I’ve never been to, and you’re acting like I’m best chums with a guy I’ve spoken only a dozen words to. You are so backwards it isn’t even funny.”

“What did you say to me?” Devin asked, his voice taking on a strange edge.

“I said you are backwards, bonkers, off the wall, heading in the wrong direction!” Darian responded, his voice now a little raised.

Devin stopped talking, looking down at the floor as if in thought. After a few seconds he lied down in his bed and turned away. Darian disregarded his old friend’s strange behavior and contemplated what to do next. As he continued to think, and idea began to form in his head. It seemed to be more than an idea. It was more like a path. He knew what to do next. By the time the lights had gone out, he had already decided on the path he must take and stranger still, he knew the results it would cause.

“Are you still awake?” The old man suddenly asked, his body still turned away from Darian’s bed.

“Yes.” Darian responded with an edge to his voice.

He wasn’t really angry at the old man, but he couldn’t seem to keep anger out of his voice anyway.

“I… I always blamed you for that day, the day you tried to kill me,” Devin said, “But I was going to betray you. I was… I was younger, or older I guess, and I thought I could.”

Darian said nothing. He had nothing worth saying. He had no clue what Devin was talking about. Devin suddenly turned around, his eyes bright as if he had just thought of something.

“We’re friends right?” Devin asked.

“We are,” Darian responded in confusion.

“Can you promise me something? You have to swear to it.”

“Yeah, I guess, anything,” Darian said uneasily.

“There will be a time, a time when we can escape. No, don’t say anything, it will happen. I will tell you that we should go the left path, you’ll want to go right. When that happens, kill me, and go right.”

“What!” Darian shouted as his head rose.

Devin put his hand out in reassurance, “You may never understand, but actually, now that I think about it, I think you did in the end. Heh, to think, I’m the one who told you all along. You told me that once and I told you to go to hell.

Devin shook his head and rolled back onto his back, “Just promise me that you will.”

“Ok, I promise,” Darian responded, still confused.

“So this Dr. Faraday, he moved us to the prison, is that right?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Never mind, cultivate that relationship, and whatever other one you need to. Dr. Faraday’s experiment, it did something to us, to both of us. It changed us. You’ll become more aware of how it changed us soon. Embrace it. It will make you strong.”

Darian didn’t say anything. Devin wasn’t making any sense. That wasn’t particularly unusual for him, but there was an edge to his voice that made Darian feel like the things that he was saying were important.

“You, you’ve been a good friend. Never forget that,” Devin mumbled, the edges of sleep pressing in on his voice.

“You too,” Darian responded.

It didn’t take him long to fall to sleep. That night he dreamt of a ship a man he had never met in a prison cell. The man had shaggy graying hair, a round nose, and thick sideburns that went down to his jaws. He looked up at Darian, as if asking for his help. Darian had a key in his hand. He went to unlock the man’s door, but before he went two steps he slammed into his own bars. The man lifted his hand, revealing the key that would open Darian’s cell. They each had the other man’s key.

The next morning was another visit to the scientist, whom Devin had called Dr. Faraday. It was time for him to set up his plan. Once he was locked in the chair, the scientist came in again to do the routines he always did, despite the fact it didn’t run anymore.

Dr. Faraday refused to make eye contact with Darian. He never did after the day he had stopped running the machine. This time Darian looked long at Dr. Faraday as he continued his work. This made the man uncomfortable, Darian could see him fidgeting.

“Dr. Faraday,” Darian spoke, causing the doctor to suddenly go rigid, “We need to talk.”

After a few moments, the doctor sighed. Without looking at Darian, he went back to working on the machine.

“We do,” he said after a moment, “Give me a bit and I will be back.”

After he finished his work, he left the room. After a few minutes, he returned as promised. Sighing again, he grabbed a nearby chair, and pulled it next to Darian.

“Release these straps,” Darian commanded, “They chaff.”

Dr. Faraday looked at him and chuckled, “Why not? I’m already a dead man, and we are all sons of bitches.”

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Time and Place – Chapter 16

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The pain was intense, blinding and sudden. It always ended the same way, with him back in the room, weeping uncontrollably into the lap of his roommate. They came four times a week, twice for him, twice for Devin. Devin handled the sessions no better, and often Darian found himself being the comforter rather than the one being comforted.

The first week he had thought he would get used to the pain, but that kind of blind acceptance seemed to never happen. After every session, he felt wrong. Wrong was really the only appropriate word to describe his feelings. Like he was somehow torn apart and stitched together incorrectly. He didn’t feel appropriate in his own body, as if he was someone else.

The old man had grown quickly into a close friend and confident. They spoke most nights for hours on end, although it was always about trivial and unimportant things. The trivial things started to become more important when Darian realized after about two weeks that his memory was failing him. At first it was simple little things, but after every session, he was starting to realize that he was forgetting things.

Devin admitted to Darian that he had very little memory of his time outside of the cell, but Darian was determined to remember as much as possible. They provided no pens and no paper, unfortunately, making it very difficult for Darian to keep track of anything. He often told Devin stories, hoping to have Devin help remind him of things he had forgotten.

This often seemed pointless, as Devin often forgot the stories Darian had told him by the next day, finding himself not even able to bring up generalized points or ideas of the story. Devin laughed about his loss of memory, declaring that it was simply the consequence of being a crazy old man. Darian wasn’t so sure.

He already had trouble remembering subtle details, like the name of the high school he went to and the name of the friends he had at that school. Names of places and of people seemed to slip his mind. He stayed up many nights trying to run through a list of every person he knew. After every session, he could swear the list was getting shorter, but no matter what he did, he couldn’t bring up another name.

The day after he was brought back from his session was a “day of rest” as Devin had put it. They would not come for either of them that day, and they would have time to talk and relax, if anything they could do locked in this cell could be considered relaxation.

“You said you were going to answer my questions today?” Darian had asked when their morning porridge had been dispensed through the wall door.

“Did I?” Devin responded with a knowing smirk.

“Ask whatever questions you want to know,” the old man had stated, shortly after the two of them had finished their morning porridge.

“What is this place, where am I?”

“You don’t know?”

“No, like I said before, I know nothing about anything, where I came from, where I am, I don’t know any of it,” Darian had told him.

“As to where you came from, some ruins I believe, I know nothing but that you were in some stasis in some ruins. As to where you are, well, that’s a long story, but I suppose I have never told it to you before, so I guess I will need to tell it to you today.

“You are in a place known as the Taerren colonies. You ended up an experiment here, and will be their lab rat for some time. The Taerren colonies are a multi system government that controls 80 some star systems. It’s the largest, youngest, and fastest growing of the spigs. SPIG stands for Stars and Planetary Internalized Governments. Empires would be a better word for them, as they all seek out new land like an empire would.”

“There are currently seven SPIGs spread across known space complete with a few free planets known as outworlds. “

“And each empire is some alien race?” Darian asked.

“Aliens? No, all of the empires are all shaped from the same mold. The only aliens ever discovered were called Iridians. That’s a much different story. The Empires are descendents of Origin. Origin was the first planet, the one humanity evolved on. It was lost, a long time ago. Noone remembers where it was or what it was called.”

“That’s not exactly true, They remember, but the records were changed, and every empire claims there information is the right information. Some claim it was named this, some claim it was named that, some claimed it was destroyed, others claim that it was uninhabitable. It isn’t so much that the truth was lost, just that no one can tell the truths from the lies.”

“About 10,000 years ago, Origin sent out fifteen colony ships. These ships weren’t fast like modern ships, and didn’t benefit from the time dilations that let a crew go to a planet without dying. These ships were generational. They traveled close to a thousand years each to reach their destinations. Every colony has their own colonial history. Plagues, saboteurs, dictators, civil wars all occurred during these exoduses where people were born, lived, and died on these ships.”

“Only nine of them are known to have reached their destinations. And they formed the nine colonies. As the colonies grew separately, they all inevitably developed gateway travel. You see, the fastest anyone can travel is slightly slower than the speed of light. This slows down time or something, so you can travel just about anywhere, but by the time you get there, everyone you knew and loved was dead. So it’s great for traveling within a system, but if you ever wanted to leave the solar system it wasn’t possible.”

“At least, until gateway travel. It bends space or something, letting you cross from one point instantly to another.”

Darian nodded as Devin had continued. He recalled theories about bending space as a means of travel. He remembered these ideas often being related to black holes, and asked Devin as much. Devin shrugged.

“Black holes? I don’t know how gate travel works. I’m not an engineer or a scientist. Back before this captivity, I remember being a healer. I think, something like a healer. It’s hard to remember. It’s always getting harder. Damn these men, and their infernal machine. What they have done to you and me, it’s not right. You may forgive Faraday for what he’s done, I never will.”

“Faraday?” Darian asked.

Devin shook his head before turning away from Darian. He seemed embarrassed but wouldn’t say why. It was several minutes in silence before Darian decided to speak up.

“So these colonies? How did they recontact each other?”

Devin looked back at Darian before turning to him. He remained seated on the bed, crossing his legs as he continued.

“Time…a lot of time. With their colonies growing fast, they sent out people to nearby stars they expected to have fruitful planets. Two of the colonies were reconnected this way. Accidental, but it happened. Then began the reconnection plan. Gateways constructed for the sole purpose of reconnecting with each and every star. It’s random, and took 1000s of years. But each colony connected to each other colony. Taerrens were the last one found some 1500 years ago.”

Darian continued to press for answers, but he quickly got the feeling that Devin was preoccupied. When it became clear Devin was finished, Darian laid down on his bed and turned his head away. They didn’t talk much for the rest of that day, but the next day Devin continued to tell him more about the colonies. He knew surprisingly little about history. When Darian pressed him he declared that if Darian wanted more in depth information he’d need to talk to a historian.

Devin did know a fair amount about the colony of Arth. They had apparently been conquered by the Taerrens a thousand years ago at the end of a war known as the Iridian War, from which he was a descendent. His colony ships history was an interesting one. They had a period known as the great unrest where the colony ship had divided into three separate factions, each with a leader fighting for power over the ship. The great unrest only ended when one of the faction leaders died, and one of the others married his daughter off to create a peace tie between them.

Darian was initially startled by some of the very old customs that many of the colonies still practiced. Taerrens, for example, were headed by nobility, rather than election, with various houses competing for power. The Delphie were isolationists, and hid their faces from anyone they considered foreign or alien. The Usar were said to have very conservative views on women, denying them the right to work at various jobs.

When Darian pressed for details, Devin began to paint a picture that made it sound more like different civilizations. After each colony landed in their respective homeworlds, they began to grow, and their culture and even to some extent, their physical features, evolved over the course of thousands of years before they remade contact with their brethren.

As Devin put it, it was easy to see who came from what colony simply by looking at them. Taerrens were typically fair skinned and tall. Devin remarked that Darian looked very Taerren himself, which didn’t make him feel any better. The Akari were leaner and often had longer limbs. Ertlanders often had broad shoulders and big foreheads, and Hucton were often short. Usar were remarked for having larger than average ears.

Having never met an Akari, an Usar, an Ertlander, or a Hucton, Darian had very little to go by other than to take Devin at his word. They often would stay up into late hours of the night discussing anything and everything. Darian told Devin about his home, his family, his dreams, and what he had desired. Devin would wait patiently and listen to everything he said, offering support or sympathy wherever they applied.

“So, you were in stasis a long time,” Devin mentioned one day.

“What do you mean?” Darian had asked turning back to him.

Devin sucked through a gap in his tooth, a habit Darian found him to do often when he was thinking, He was in his bed laying down while Darian was in the bathroom rinsing his face.

“Well, the world you describe, it seems very old. I wonder how long it took you to get here…” He closed his eyes, sighing as if going off to sleep.

Darian stared at him for a moment. The memory loss was starting to grow more severe, and many of the people in his life were becoming distant shadows. He expected it to be more frightening than it was. It felt more like falling asleep. It was like he was in a dream that he couldn’t wake up from, ever since he woke up on the Vanderra station. He had learned that name from Devin, who recognized his description of the space station.

Before he was able to formulate a response, the door opened with one of the Taerren guards. They definitely were guards, Devin had confirmed this. They wore dark blue uniforms that signified their rank. As their location was on a planet instead of space, they didn’t require the customary jumpsuit. Instead, they wore a slightly more colorful khaki and coat combo.

It was always one of three guards that came and got them. This time it was the blond one which he had named Jeff. He had named each of his guards, simply to give a name to the face. The man who he had first met after awakening he called Bob. The other one he called Rick. Jeff was less prone to using the discipline stick, called a Stine, on them. As long as they did what they were told, he ignored them and let them do what they wanted. Rick, on the other hand, was prone to using it whenever they were a step out of line.

Either way, Darian bounded to his feet and headed over to the door. Even though Jeff was kinder, he wasn’t about to test how far that kindness went. Jeff led him down the nondescript hallway like he always did, and before long Darian was back in the chair, tied up and awaiting the strange man with the machine.

The man took longer than usual to arrive. At first, Darian really didn’t hear anything. However, after he found himself waiting for several minutes, he began listening for any sounds from the hallway. He realized he could hear muttering coming from outside the room in the hallway. The muttering grew louder until Darian was sure he could hear distinct words.

It seemed to be in the same tongue that was spoken on the Vanderra station. It must have been the common tongue, he was sure of it. The tone of the conversation seemed heated between the two. They shouted at each other, but eventually it seemed like one of the voices was cowed. A few moments later the door was shoved open and the man with the machine pushed his way into the room. For a second, his eyes met with the scientist and a flash of emotion shot through his body that startled him.

The scientist looked warily at Darian. The expression on his face must have been alarming. He quickly schooled his face. The emotion was now gone, but it had been there. It was the oddest thing that Darian had ever felt. Just then, when he had looked at the scientist, he had felt affection. He had felt like he had just run into and saw a good friend he hadn’t seen in days.

Perhaps he was going mad. That seemed perfectly logical. Devin had been there a great deal longer than he had, and Devin was most certainly unstable. The feeling had seemed so genuine though. For just a moment, he had felt like he had liked his torturer, as if they were friends. He shook his head to try to shake off the odd thoughts, but continued to watch the scientist.

The scientist worked uneasily. He seemed uncomfortable and depressed. He seemed to be struggling with something. He continued to mutter to himself in the common tongue, occasionally giving Darian uneasy looks. Darian realized he was staring at the man. Before, Darian had always ignored the scientist as the man went about his work. Darian keept his distance from the torturer. However, after that strange feeling, he seemed less inclined to do so now.

Suddenly, a word popped into Darian’s head. It was a word that the young woman at Vanderra had told him when he was agitated. Darian repeated the word out loud.

The man suddenly jumped as if someone had pinched him. He swung around and gave Darian a hard look. After a moment, he said something in the common tongue that Darian did not understand. When the man realized Darian did not understand him, he reluctantly continued with his work, now watching Darian as carefully as Darian was watching him.

Darian ended up back in his room afterwards, weeping in pain as always. He seemed to be able to recover a little quicker than he had in the past, but that could just be a trick of his imagination, he wasn’t sure. After he finally managed to wipe off his tears and regain most of his composure, he told Devin about what he had heard.

Devin thought about it briefly, sucking through his teeth, before finally shrugging. When Darian reluctantly mentioned his sudden feeling of comradely with the scientist, Devin barked a laugh.

“I’m not particularly surprised by that. He does torture you alot, but it’s just a job for him. I don’t think he takes any pleasure in it. I’ll never forgive him, but one day you might.” Devin responded, “It is a shame though, that you weren’t able to hear what they were talking about. At the very least, it would have been some gossip for us to talk about for a couple of days. It’s not like anything else ever seems to happen.”

“It was common tongue… I said a word to him, a word I had heard before. Ta ki, what does that word mean? He looked at me strangely when I said it.”

Devin burst out laughing when Darian finished. It took him several minutes to regain his breath.

“I am not surprised he looked at you strange. You said, ‘It’s Ok’. He was experimenting on you and you reassured him,” Devin continued to chuckle, “But I think it’s about time we remedy that little problem.”

“What Problem?” Darian asked.

“You need to learn common tongue, as long as your here, you will need to speak the language other people speak. I think I will start teaching you tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow will be a good day for you to start learning. Make sure to remind me of that in the morning.”

The very next day, Devin woke Darian up early, and he began to learn to speak common tongue.

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Time and Place – Chapter 15

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The tears came easily for those first few weeks. Her memory seemed to be incoherent. She remembered Max carrying her into the ship, but most of the trip was a blur. It had taken them a week to make it to the jump gate, another week to make it to a safe place that wasn’t compromised.

She was present at a couple of meetings where they reported the fall of the Lancers. Her father was captured, but his whereabouts were unknown. Of the two hundred sworn Lancers, one hundred seventy-three of them had been captured when it was all said and done.  There were only eighty-three Lancers captured in the initial raid on Terres, but after extensive interrogations, most of the remaining members and been identified and taken down.

Most of them now sat in a large scattering of prisons spread throughout the Taerren colonies.  They personally had managed to make it to the relative safety of an Akari system. They now stayed at the estates of the Lady Mesende, whom was an old friend of her fathers, or so she had been told.

The woman was very old and retired. Although she used to be part of the noble houses in the Taerren colonies, she had separated herself from them in a form of silent protest ten years prior, moving to a non-Taerren world to live out the rest of her days with the remainder of her wealth.

In truth, her outspoken tendencies had almost gotten her entire house destroyed. Berret had once told her that Lady Mesende was a very shrewd and skilled woman, who managed to maneuver politically with ease. When she realized she had pushed too far, she had maneuvered her son into a position of power, and left the spotlight of political intrigue to a younger generation.

The last time Marideen had seen Mesende, she was very young, and didn’t really remember it. Whatever the woman had been once, she took them in and provided them shelter. They had been staying at the estate for almost a week, and she asked for nothing and gave a lot. Berret was being seen over by her personal physician, and she had assured them that everyone in her employ would keep quiet.

And so she was lying in her bed, crying into a pillow when a knock came at her door. The room was dark, even though there was still light outside. She had all of the window blinds down to block out the sunlight. She seemed to crave the darkness since she left Vanderra station.

She didn’t move from her spot when the door opened and a familiar face peaked his way in.

“What a sorry sight you are, pretty lady,” the dark skinned man said as he opened the door about halfway, allowing light from the hallway to spill in.

“Close the door, it’s too bright,” she moaned into her pillow, shying her eyes away.

Berret took a couple of steps into the room, leaving the door open as he sat at the foot of her bed. His missing right arm had been bandaged up, along with a couple of other scratches and bruises he had earned at Vanderra. He attempted to brush his right hand through his black hair, but quickly switched to his left hand as soon as remembered he could not. He let out a sigh, but if he was saddened by his own state, he kept it from his face.

“You’ve been cramped up in here for three weeks now, you need to get some air,” He stated, placing his hand on the sheet over her foot.

“We haven’t been here for three weeks,” Marideen responded, turning her head from the pillow and glaring down at him with one eye.

“Did I ever tell you about how your father and I met?” Berret asked.

“You were an ambassador; my father was a Taerren dignitary…”

“A dignitary, yes, I suppose you could call him that. The Cleefe family, your family, were very wealthy and very successful land owners. Did your father ever tell you how your family was formed?”

Marideen shook her head.

“Well, you probably were told it once, a long time ago, but when your house fell, I am sure your father didn’t want to bring back bad memories.”

“He was never one for stories.”

Berret chuckled, “That he wasn’t. But still, it might be worth you hearing a little about your history. You’re the last of your line, you should know…”

“He’s not dead, there is no proof of that!” Marideen exclaimed.

Berret made a calming gesture and nodded, “I know that, but just humor me all the same.”

Berret took a deep breath before continuing on,” It was your great great great great grandfather who founded the Cleefe House. He was a Star Jumper. He was actually Ertlander, but he found Taerrens offered larger awards for Star Finders and at the time, a starter’s bond which he used to build his ship. There are less Star Finders than there used to be.  Back then, few people realized exactly how difficult and dangerous these missions were.”

“To travel to any star, at close to light speed, takes many many years. At least twenty years, often hundreds of years. Anyone who makes that voyage knows that everything they ever loved will be gone by the time they reach their destination. They pick a star in the sky, and fly there, hoping there are planets with useful resources, planets colonies can be established on. Hoping that the people they take along are enough to build a working gate. Hoping that the resources they have hold out, that the trajectory they established made them reach the right place, and that nothing mechanical goes wrong.”

“The chances of success are astronomically small. Only a very small percentage of those that set out ever make contact back with the colonies they set out from. A few hundred years ago, it was a fad. But when a hundred years went by, and fewer and fewer responded. Well, the last Star Finder I heard of blasted out two years ago. A couple every few years, that’s about it, I think.”

“Your great great… your ancestor was a little different than the rest. A lot of them were single men, six or seven of them, friends who decided to split the rewards of their endeavor. Yours was a family man. He brought his whole family. His wife, his three young boys, and that was about it. He wasn’t going to split with anyone.”

“As you can guess, he succeeded, and he named the place…”

“Fruscia,” Marideen interrupted, an unwilling smile briefly flickering across her lips.

Berret nodded and smiled back before continuing, “The Fruscia system, named after his wife, had a habitable planet, and two terraformable planets. We like to call that the jackpot. It was one of only four habitable planets ever found, although I’ve heard of a fifth found recently. Now, as soon as the planets are found and contact is made, the Planet Finder is given a large reward based on how valuable their find.”

“Habitable planets give a lot of money. Almost ten times that of a terraform planet. Some people believe that’s why the success rate is so low, a lot of Star Jumpers try to terraform a planet themselves before making contact, to earn bigger rewards.  Of course, I don’t think that is possible with the resources of just one crew. At this point, most people would go and buy a large chunk of habitable land, something with some good farming or mining land that can keep them comfortable and happy for the rest of their lives. In truth, that is exactly what all of the Planet Jumpers did.”

“Your ancestor was smarter than that, he took all the money that they gave him, and instead of buying some habitable land, he bought one of the unterraformed planets in entirety. Over the course of twenty years, his family terraformed the planet, and then rented it out his land rather than selling it. He became the senator of the planet, after all he owned it, and his house began to rise in power.”

“Over the course of two generations, the Cleefe family bought the rest of the planets, and established their power in the Taerren colonies. They were the third strongest house for a time. By the time your father took over, it had fallen in power. It was the Cleefe’s families unwillingness to employ a private army, that caused their fall. About eighty years ago, the houses started to become more aggressive. Politically maneuvering and money weren’t enough.”

“I thought you were going to tell me how you met my father?” Marideen asked impatiently.

Berret nodded and continued, “Well as to that, your father inherited a rich house, but with ultimately very little political power.  I was from a small house with almost no money or political power, and knew a little about your house.  I was having a bad day. My wife had just left me, and I had found out I was stranded on this little moon called Narn…”

“Which wife?” Marideen asked.

Berret looked at her with exasperated eyes before responding, “Second, I think, but that really isn’t the point. The point was he helped me out. I had misplaced my papers and could not get out of the port! I ran into him, recognized him right away, and came up to him and pleaded for help. At first he wasn’t going to help, but I told him he was an idiot!”

“An idiot?” Marideen asked, now engrossed in the story.

“That’s what he said! Your father asked me who I was to call him an idiot. I told him that I’m the guy he needs to call him an idiot every once in a while, lest he gets too big a head,” Berret chuckled and Marideen gave him a weak smile, “He laughed at that, and we shared a drink or two. Eventually, I told him my story and he helped me get off that god forsaken rock.”

“What does this have to do with anything?” Marideen said, her smile slipping.

“Just this. When we were drinking and talking, your father told me something, and it stuck with me for many years. He said, ‘The future only gets better if you make it better, the past is the past, you can’t work with the past, only the future’.”

Marideen sighed, shaking her head. She turned from Berret and buried her head back into her pillow.

“Your sister passed away, no one denies that you have every right to mourn. But the Lancers need you, your leadership. The leadership you showed on Vanderra shows you’re ready for this. Max is no leader. And I am just an old man with brain that is more mush than bronze. “

“My sister’s death hurt. It isn’t her loss that hurts the most, it’s the guilt.”

“You couldn’t have prevented your sister’s death.”

“I know that, I understand that, but I just feel so guilty, like I did something wrong, like I missed… something.”

“The boy?”

“The boy?” Marideen asked back.

“Your sister died saving that boy. He ended up dying all the same. Had he lived,  it… well….” Berret rubbed the back of his neck and broke eye contact with her uncomfortably.

“My sister’s death wouldn’t have been for nothing,” She completed the unspoken words, “Do you think he is still alive?”

“Possibly, that scientist thought he was important. But then again, the prince seemed to be going to great lengths to kill him. I don’t know which is right. It’s possible though.”

Marideen nodded, turning around and sitting up, crossing her arms in front of her. Her dark brown hair streamed down in front of her in an unkempt mess. She pushed the hair to either side of her ears, allowing her to see clearly.

She waited a few moments, when it was clear that he would not respond further she asked, “So what would you have me do?”

“Rebuild, start shaping the future?” Berret ended with a shrug.

The door slapped open causing Marideen to jump a little bit. Berret slipped Maximil a dirty look and he looked embarrassed for a moment before talking.

“Bad News,” Maximil said, his voice strained.

Berret nodded and stood up. He was to the door when he noticed that Marideen was standing as well. He gave her a concerned look.

“I can handle this,” Marideen told him, before passing him out the door.

They walked down the illustrious oversized hallways that made up the Lady Mesende’s manor. The walls were lined with colorful tapestries and mosaics. Occasionally, an artifact or two sat on pedestals that lined the hallway. The walls were a pale yellow, the floors made up a mosaic of reds, browns, and orange.  The house was quite majestic and beautiful in its’ own way, but it reminded Marideen of a grandma, if she had had a grandmother she could remember.

It wasn’t long before Marideen realized they were heading to one of the three libraries that were part of the estate. This particular library was the smallest of them, and was known as the blue library simply because blue was the predominant theme. The library was very impressive, and still consisted of more books than anyone would ever need in their life time on two levels.

When they entered the blue library, two other people were in it already. She only recognized one of the men, whom she knew immediately as Charles Fine. He was a man in his sixties who had always had a conservative approach to life. His brown hair was finely combed and trimmed, his beard thin and closely cut. He stood with a stately demeanor and a strait back. When Marideen had turned sixteen, Charles had tried to get her father to marry her off. Her father, thank the Lord and Lady, had declined to accept on grounds of her age. Charles never seemed to have taken offense. However, he never understood why her father had declined either.

The Fine family was not the richest family in the Taerren empire, but they had been friends with the Cleefe family for many years, and in the past, there were often many intermarriages between the two houses. Marideen’s grandmother was a Fine, actually, although she didn’t know if she had any relations with Charles.

The Fine house was still actively part of the Taerren empire, and kept their knowledge of the Cleefe family as well as their involvement with the Lancers to a minimum. However, they were still an invaluable source of information for those that need it. If Charles was here, it meant that he had in depth information on Taerren politics.

“My fair lady,” Charles Fine bowed, extending out a hand for Marideen.

By rote, Marideen let him kiss her hand. Although the act made her a little uncomfortable, it was one of the many niceties of etiquette that Charles always insisted on.

“Might I introduce my friend and blood, my nephew, cousin Vorus Fine,” he declared, putting his hand out to the man next to him, a much younger youth with only slightly less kempt hair and a narrower chin.

The youth, who wasn’t much older than her once she thought about it, gave her a low respectful bow, extending and kissing her hand as well. He was only a little less practiced than his elder.

“It is a pleasure to meet you both, you most likely know my friends, Maximil  Roe and Berret Stone. “ Marideen nodded to each of them, who nodded their heads but made no offers of respect.

Maximil was no noble and Berret might have one time practiced all the etiquettes of this life, but after his fall from grace he never had the tolerance to provide any more courtesy than was specifically required. Charles seemed to regard the lack of proper etiquette, but otherwise ignored the two men.

“Might I please ask what news you have for us, Cousin.”

It was often considered polite to call other nobles of socially close houses as Cousin. It almost scared Marideen how naturally all of the old noble etiquettes came back to her as she spoke with this friend of the family.

“Grave news, my dear child, grave news,” Charles lowered his head, Volus mimicking him a second later, “It would appear that all of the Lancers captured on the Paris raid have been sentenced to death.”

Bile rose in the back of Marideen throat as she suppressed a sudden shot of panic.

“All of them? How soon?”

“Immediately, Cousin, I am sorry, there is nothing that can be done,” Charles lowered his head again, his cheeks blushing slightly in mocked shame.

It was an act. Marideen knew that Charles cared very little for the Lancers. He saw the Cleefe’s as family, but the rest of them were merely commoners rising against their leaders. For a few seconds, Marideen thought she was falling backwards, but she forced herself to remain upright and keep her body steady. Maybe she was wrong; maybe she couldn’t handle this right now. Never the less, she was determined to not let Berret think he was right.

Before she had a chance to say anything, Berret spoke up ,” It’s not as bad as it looks, there may be some good news.”

Charles shot Berret an annoyed look, but after a second sighed and nodded for him to continue.

“Charles was able to get a list of everyone who was sentenced to death. They… they caught just about everyone who was actively participating, even Marcell.  But it’s the names missing from the list that are important. Deiron, your father, Kate, and Beiromon, none of them are on the list. There’d be no reason to leave them off and every reason to leave them on if…”

“If they were caught and were to be executed,” Marideen finished, a tightness in her chest seeming to loosen just a bit, “Where is Markus, he was friends with Marcell, wasn’t he?”

“Markus left three days ago. You weren’t available. I don’t know if he knows about this yet. He left quite unexpectedly.” Maximil answered, his voice surprisingly quite and steady.

“Cousin, if I may?” Charles waited for her nod before continuing, “I am not simply here to bring you news of the Lancers, I have come as well to discuss a matter of some importance to your family. You’re father is gone, and none of us can know when or if he will be returning.  You are the last Cleefe.”

Marideen didn’t like the way this was sounding. She already suspected where this was heading as she glanced over at the Volus. Volus had his head downcast, his face was flushed. She knew exactly where this was heading, but could not see how she could stop it.

“The Cleefe family needs an heir and you need a man in your life. I can see only one solution. I knew your father well, and while I never understood why he rejected my attempt to find you a suitable husband, you need someone who will give you a strong child. My nephew is your age. He hasn’t been promised to anyone else, and is strong, smart, and will bear you strong children.”

When Charles finished, Marideen remained quiet for a few moments. She looked over at Maximil and Berret. Maximil feigned interest in one of the bookcases, pretending to look for a book. Berret seemed to be fighting back laughter. She scowled at him before turning back to the two Fines.

“I know it would normally be your father making this decision, but in this case, I feel that I would make an acceptable surrogate father. I have taken the liberty of speaking with Lady Mesende, we will have the wedding in a few days if the Lord and Lady graces us,” Marideen’s face flushed red as she visibly shook, “I know you are full of emotion and are overwhelmed, my nephew and I will be in the east wing. Give yourself some time, this is the right decision, we will have a lot of planning tomorrow.”

Charles bowed to her before taking his leave. As soon as the door closed behind him she rounded on Berret.

“Don’t you laugh, what do you think this is funny?” her hand lightly slapped across Berret’s face before he could react.

Berret burst out laughing as he rubbed his cheek, “If you don’t want to get married, tell him no.”

“And the way he talked to me,” Marideen stated as she turned and began pacing back and forth, “Like I couldn’t make decisions on my own!”

“And don’t think you aren’t on my list either!” She exclaimed shaking her finger at Maximil, who shrugged at her, “He thinks he can just marry me off to some man I never even met, like, like I’m some kind of commodity that needed to be disposed of.”

“This is exactly what I am talking about. This is the kind of passion we need from you right…” Berret began but stopped midsentence when Marideen moved towards him with her hand ready to slap him once again.

“Well if you wanted me angry and agitated you achieved it.”

“So that’s the plan then, are you going to marry…” Maximil started to say.

“No, of course I am not going to marry him. We’re leaving tonight, without Charles and his nephew,” Marideen snapped as she paced back and forth across the library, her body bristling.

“They won’t like that, you may not be able to depend on the Fine family again for support,” Berret explained.

“I know that, but what other choice do I have?”

When neither Berret nor Maximil said anything else, she resumed pacing.

“And then what?” Berret asked.

Marideen did not answer right away. Her mind worked furiously as she thought about everything that had happened the last few weeks. Her life was her own.  What was it that her father had said to Berret? The future would only be better if she made it better. She had her answer.

“Up until now, the Lancers have always been passively aggressive in what we do. We never killed. We snuck in, did what we came to do, and snuck out. We were never the aggressor,” Marideen finally stopped short, releasing her breath slowly as she looked back at the two men she could trust with her life, “When they decided to start killing Lancers, murdering innocent men and women without trial, they chose what would come next. They want a war? I say we give them a war.”

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Time and Place – Chapter 14

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Fogginess, pain, suffering. There was very little else Darian could remember. Foggy shapes danced in front of his eyes. There were muffled sounds with words that he couldn’t make out. He had the feeling of being poked, stabbed, and sewn back together again. He could remember lights, bright lights in his eyes, then darkness again.

The cycles of darkness and light seemed to elude him. He tried to count time, but it seemed out of his reach. The first memory he had from this life, he remembered waking up in a bed. He tried to stand, but failed. The room was dark, but he could see light coming from a crack in his white slab door.

He wanted to go to the door, but it hurt too much. After this first time, consciousness came more easily. Each time he woke, he was able to remain coherent for longer periods of time. He would try to remember, but the memories were the source of the pain, and he would shy away from those recent memories.

Instead, he focused on the past. He remembered college. A girlfriend who loved him and said she’d be with him forever. A simple life. He always had a place to stay literally surrounded by friends. He always had food to eat, presuming his room and board was paid.

He liked cafeteria food. There was always a kind of endearing quality in small portioned out food. It was one of his favorite parts about college, getting to eat in a cafeteria breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although he had to admit, after a while, all the food began to taste the same.

Unfortunately, the food they left for him was not cafeteria food. It was a slimy porridge, which resembled cream of wheat, yet tasted like ashes. The first time the bowl had mysteriously appeared on a table attached to the far wall, he had eaten it quickly, presuming tomorrows meal might be a better choice. The bowl had come with no spoon, and he had to sloppily drink from the bowl as if it were a cup to keep his hands from getting dirty. However, by the next day it was the same meal. Then, it was the same meal again. It was the same for every meal; breakfast, lunch and dinner.

He had so far yet to see a single nurse. The room he was in was white, sterile, and small. He presumed he was in a hospital of some sort. The bed, a small bathroom with a toilet and sink, and a small chair and desk were all that were provided in the room. But where were the people? Who was checking up on him, and where was his food coming from?

He quickly began to realize that the place was on a light schedule. There seemed to be more light than there was darkness, but it was difficult to know exactly how long without a watch. Food was replenished 3 times a day whether he ate it or not. After watching the bowl for several hours one day, he realized that a bowl was simply ejected from the wall through a hidden door about the size of his hand. The door was flush with the wall, and the crack was almost nonexistant. Without knowing it was there, and having seen it open, he would have had trouble finding it.

Shortly after discovering where the food was ejected from, he found where he dropped the bowls off at. He already had two stacks of dishes before he located the small knob. Pulling on the knob opened a small panel just large enough for placing the bowls. Anything he left in it was taken the following day. He was able to change clothing in much the same way, leaving his clothing in the panel, then fetching a new one from the nearby dresser, which sat under the table the food came out on.

He quickly began to grow restless. The lights were too bright, and he missed human interaction. He slowly began to recall the events that lead him there. However, recalling the events and understanding them were two very different things. It was still difficult to believe or understand. Perhaps he had gone insane. His current location made a little bit more since if that was the case.

“If I truly am mad, and if there is someone else in here with me, but I can’t see you through my own delusions, I must say that I am sorry, and I cannot help myself,” He stated aloud.

It always felt nice, sometimes, to play to his ideas. He was always an open minded individual, and part of his open mindedness was that he could accept that all of his preconceived notions were wrong. In a way, it was comforting, to believe he was insane, rather than that he was kidnapped by strange people and taken to a strange place.

None of this stopped the fact that he was incredibly bored. At first, while he was still healing, it was much easier. He slept a lot, and time just seemed to float by in his stupor. However, the more he healed, the more coherent he became, and the more restless as well.

He banged on the door, called out, screamed, but noone ever responded. There was no doorknob to speak of. He had never seen the door open, thus had no clue how it even opened. It simply looked like a white slab, flush with the wall and only apparent by the faint outline of the edge of the wall.

There also seemed to be no way to bath. He took a sloppy sponge bath every night by using the water in the sink. He didn’t feel like sleeping twelve hours a night, but once the lights went out, there was very little light available for him to see. The room consisted of nothing that wasn’t attached to the floor and walls. If there had been, he might have flung it at the walls of what was quickly becoming his cell. At the very least, he might have moved his bed around the room, to give his room some semblance of difference.

The monotony of day after day was starting to wear on him. He feared he was starting to go mad if he wasn’t already. This made it all the more surprising when the door suddenly opened with a click one of these restless days. The door pushed back two inches, and then slid to the side in the crevice of the wall. Darian was frozen with confusion as he starred at the open door. A man stood in the hallway on the far side of his door. He kept his distance, but beckoned Darian to come through.

Darian took several quick steps through the door, prompting the man to raise some kind of device in his hand in a threatening manner. Darian tried to lift his arms in a soothing gesture, but this seemed to further agitate the man. He pointed in a direction down the hallway. He was muttering a command that Darian didn’t understand. It was clear that this man couldn’t speak English either.

Darian briefly considered trying to communicate with the man, but when he performed his threatening gesture with the device in his hand once again and pointed down the hallway repeating the same order, Darian decided to go along with him. The hallway was carpeted, unlike his room, with a thin gray carpet. The walls were the same polished white though.

After a brief walk down the hallway, the man suddenly stopped, turned, and opened a door. The door seemed to open through the use of a button on his wrist, but Darian did not get a good look at it. The guard, for his mannerism gave Darian the impression of a guard, pointed into the room. Darian went quietly. Deciding that his obedience and silence was enough, he turned to speak to the guard.

“Where am I and what is going o…” The door closed in his face.

“Oh, you won’t get much of a response from them you won’t,” a withered voice said from behind.

Darian jumped, startled, whirling around to face the source of the voice. It was an old man. He wore the same clothing that they provided Darian, although it was fitted to his much smaller frame. He had long stringy gray hair, sunken cheeks, yet right now his eyes seemed to hold a bit of amusement.

“I didn’t mean to startle you, you just looked a little confused there for a second. It’s usually that way after a… session, I suspect it will all come back to you in a second or two.” The old man nodded to Darian before turning and collapsing on a bed.

Darian could see now that he was in a cell almost identical to the one he was in before. One of the few differences was that it consisted of two beds instead of one. The room was no larger for it though. It took Darian a moment or two to realize that the man had spoken in a language he understood.

He took a long look at the man. The man seemed to be occupying himself with a book. It was a heavy volume, but upon looking at the cover, the words were a nonsense grouping of characters he did not recognize.

“You speak English…,” Darian began.

The man looked up from his book.

“Oh is that what I’m speaking, I don’t think I ever knew the name,” he chuckled.

“How do you not know what you’re speaking?”

The old man blinked, putting his book to the side, “Well as far as I know, you and I are the only people alive that speak that particular language, and frankly, you never told me what it was called.”

“What? Are you saying you just learned to speak English from me?” Darian asked.

“Yes, that one sentence you said was enough for me to construct and speak your entire language,” he declared, his hands outspread as if accepting praise.

“That’s…incredible,” Darian responded.

The old man burst out laughing, his face quickly turning to a shade of red. Darian stared at the man with a frown. Was this man insane? He thought to ask as much, but refrained. Whether the man said yes or no meant little and he feared insulting the man.

“No… no…,” The man continued his mirth finally receding a bit, “I don’t think anyone could learn a language with a sentence or two. There is a little thing called context. Without context, knowledge is useless. That is the difference between knowledge and wisdom, a good dollop of context.”

“Wha… Why do you think we are the only people who speak English?” Darian altered his question in mid stride.

“Because I know it, and you know it, and no one else does. It’s a dead language, like the planet it came from, I presume, you know that, “ the old man’s eyes narrowed and his voice became more cautious, “You do know that, don’t you?”

Darian stared at him silently, not quite sure how to respond. Earth, dead? It didn’t make any sense; his mind just could process this.

“You know where you were found, right? Some people dug you out of some ruins, you were in suspended animation,” the man continued, his voice now moving slowly and deliberately, “You know who I am? You’ve seen me before, haven’t you?”

“I’ve never seen you before in my life, I just woke up… from suspended animation. There were these people. This guy came after me, I was shot, woke up in one of these rooms, and they just brought me here. Who are you?”

The man’s eyes seem to fall and the energy and excitement left him, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, I knew this day would come. I just hoped we had had more time.”

The man laid back his head, sighing as his head pressed against the pillow. Darian stepped forward a few steps and stopped. The man was crying! He didn’t know what madness had hold of the man, but he did know he was trapped in a small room with him. He took several steps to his side, sitting down on the other bed. Just ten minutes prior he would have given anything to have a companion to talk to, now all he wanted was to be alone again.

The doctor… what had happened? It worked, apparently, but that didn’t seem like it was possible. He had slept through everything. His entire world vanished. Everyone he knew was dead. Everything he knew was gone. He thought he would cry. He thought… something. But all he could feel right now was numb. He lied down, his head plopping down on his pillow like the man next to him.

“Darian,” The man in the bed next to him said, in a voice that displayed much of the numbness he felt.

“Yeah?” Darian responded.

“Devin, my name… you can call me Devin,” He said.

When Darian didn’t respond he continued, “You have been the greatest friend an old man could ever ask for. I will miss you dearly.”

Darian looked over at the man, but continued to say nothing.

“You may think I’m mad, perhaps because I am a little,” Devin offered a forced chuckle that lacked any real force, “but you will need to listen to what I say now.”

Devin sat himself up his head pressed back against the wall, “Right now, you and I are part of an experiment. I won’t give you the specifics, but they won’t be pleasant. I will be here with you, every step of the way, but they will push you to the limits. If we stick together, we might make it through. You will make it through. But you need to be prepared. They will start soon, tomorrow. Stay strong. Think of someone you care about perhaps. Whatever you need to do to keep your sanity. You will one day make it out alive, I believe. I’m afraid my time is over.”

The old man wiped a tear coming from his eye, “My…. Where did that come from… I… I’m not afraid of my future. There will be a time, when you might know me better, where you might understand what I’m saying. Just know that I care for you, and that I regret nothing about the way things turned out.”

Devin turned lying down and covering himself with the blanket,” Good Luck, and good night.”

As if on cue, the lights turned off for the night. Darian was not aware the time had gone so quickly. He lied down, turning his back on the crazy man beside him. This place, whatever it was, drove people insane. Would he end up like that before the end? He almost felt sorry for the poor man. He believed him about the torture and the experiments.

He walked out of one experiment as a lab rat and ended up right back into another one. It seems like the awful luck that had shadowed his entire life had managed to hold out. It was almost too much to bear. As his mind twisted and waned, he began to slip into unconsciousness for another night. His last thought was that Devin had known his name, but he couldn’t recall telling him it. The thought slipped his mind as he went into a dreamless sleep.

The next day, Darian awoke when the bright lights clicked on over head. He couldn’t see any lights. Whatever panels produced light, they were embedded into the ceiling. It was much brighter than he would have liked, but he supposed it could be worse. Still, he fought the temptation to throw the blanket over his head to try to give himself some semblance of control over the lighting situation.

“Rise and shine, my friend, rise and shine,” Devin exclaimed, chuckling at Darian’s groan.

“Well, you’re certainly in a better mood than you were last night,” Darian growled as he sat himself up, wiping sleep from his eyes.

“Am I? Well I suppose I could be,” The man chuckled.

Darian walked over to the counter the man was seated at where the bowls of breakfast were deposited. He reached for one of the bowls, but before he grabbed it, Devin blocked his hand.

“Today is your day of the week. Probably a smart idea to wait on eating until after. You’re likely to throw it all up. “

Darian pulled his hand back, glancing at the old man in confusion as he brought his bowl up to his lips, making a large slurping sound as he drank the remainder of the thick porridge. When he finished it, he slapped it down on the table.

“Common tongue,” he stated, looking over at Darian.

“What?”

“Common tongue, you need to learn common tongue, I figured I should throw that out there, that’s the language everyone speaks. You aren’t speaking it, so that means you don’t know it, so that means it’s time to start teaching it to you,” Devin declared.

Darian sighed standing up, leaving his bowl at the counter uneaten. He walked back to his bed, sitting back down on it, facing Devin.

“Can you tell me more about where I am, and what happened to me,” Darian asked, his eyes following Devin as he went into the small washroom.

“I can, but not today,” The old man said as he bent over the sink and washed his hands and face, “You will need time to recover, rest now.”

Darian didn’t ask anything else, but put his head back to the pillow and closed his eyes. His roommate went over to the adjacent bed, lying down as well. He pulled out book, which he had tucked behind the pillow, and began reading it. It was not very long until the door pulled back and slid to the side, admitting another guard like the one before. He did not think this man was the same man as before, but it was hard to tell.

The man spoke in that language, common tongue? When he didn’t move, the man waved the device at him threateningly again.

“You know the drill. He says go with him, you better do it; those deliberators they carry can be very painful. Stay Strong,” his roommate said, nodding towards the man.

Darian stood up and followed the man through the door. The man stayed behind him as he continued to walk forward along the white hallway with grey carpeted floors. Eventually, he reached the end of the hallway and a set of double doors. They opened and he took a step through.

The room he stepped into had a much higher ceiling than the rest of the hallways he had come in from. The walls were the same bright white wash, but littered with hooks, sinks, tanks and cabinets. In center of the room contained a seat. The room reminded him of a dentist room, although it was much larger than that.

The guard jerked the device in his hand towards the seat in the center of the room. The seat was cushioned in a red color but had metal braces for arms and legs which included straps. He began to take several steps back. There was absolutely no way he was going onto that thing.

A blinding pain racked through him as the guard jammed the device into his back. The pain felt sharp, shooting through his arms and legs in spasm and preventing him from using either. He dropped to the floor like a brick. After the man finally removed the device from his back, he felt a dull ache, as if his entire body had run a marathon.

The guard shouted a command at him, pointing towards the chair. He attempted to get onto all fours, attempted to crawl away, although in truth he didn’t really know which direction the chair was in, as his vision was spinning. The guard shoved the device; the deliberator Devin had called it, into the back of his head. The world went white.

He could not be sure how long the pain shot through his body. He also wasn’t sure if he was screaming or not. When his sight finally began to clear the room was spinning. However, he felt like he was being dragged. The guard was starting to tie him into the chair. There were two straps for each arm and leg. The guard made sure to make them tight.

The world continued to spin as he sat in dizziness. At this point, he was glad at his roommate’s advice. He most likely would have thrown up if he had had anything to eat. Even with an empty stomach, he fought the urge to dry heave. He was not the kind of person who vomited easy, but between the dizziness, dull pain, and bright lights, he considered it. He still considered wretching, but the guard was strapping his forehead down and it would have ended up in his lap if he tried.

Once the guard finished, he left the room, and Darian was stuck in the middle of the room in relative immobilization. After a few minutes, the door reopened and a man walked in. He was a tall man in a lab coat, but seemed to slouch a lot more than was needed. He had straggly brown hair, a long pointy chin, and hollow cheeks. He kept his eyes downcast, but Darian could see dark rings of exhaustion under them.

The man also dragged a large machine behind him, which he rolled out into the middle of the room next to Darian. It consisted of a large base and a massive dish that resembled a satellite dish. The man set up the device in silence, refusing to take a single look at Darian, pretending he wasn’t there. The man positioned the dish directly over Darian, pointing right at his abdomen. He was starting to become very worried. What was this machine going to do?

When he finished setting up the equipment, he went behind the heavy machine. The machine rumbled as it sprang to life. The man clicked away some controls for a few minutes, mumbling words to himself that Darian did not understand. He finally finished whatever he was doing and left the room. The machine continued to rumble away.

Darian began to fill a warmness emitting from dish over his head. It felt kind of good, a comforting warmth pressing down on him. After about a minute, Darian began to feel the warmth increase. It started to push the limits of comfort and started to feel like it was burning. The machine did not change, nor did the dish. He did not see anything come from it, but he could feel it. Was this some kind of microwave? Were they cooking him alive as some kind of sport? To see what would happen to humans?

The burning grew and pain began to sprout through his body. He trashed from side to side, but realized that the straps were strong and he wasn’t able to move a muscle. The chair was much sturdier than he had given it credit for as well. The pain came in waves, a rhythmic thump thump thump. With each thump the pain sprouted anew and he could feel it burning through his body.

The thump thump thump of the pain resonated with his heartbeat, making each beat agony. He opened his mouth to scream, realizing that there was something in his mouth, holding it apart already. He had not noticed when the guard had put it in, but now his teeth clinched down on it as a muffled scream escaped his throat.

The pain did not subside. It grew, worse and worse. And he screamed, screamed as much as his lungs would allow. His body throbbed and burned, it felt as if every single cell of his body was being torn apart piece by piece. Then, all there was left was pain.

He couldn’t have said how long the mindblowing pain coursed through his body, but one minute it was there, and then it was gone. He felt like he was falling, falling into darkness. The pain had been with him for so long, that he didn’t know what else there was. He felt himself being picked up, being moved. He didn’t know if he was. He couldn’t remember if he was carried or he walked, but the next thing he could remember was being in a bed back in the room with Devin.

His head was in the old man’s lap and he cried. He couldn’t seem to stop crying. It hurt, it hurt so much. The old man, seeming saner than Darian had ever seen him, gently stroked his head as he cried.

“It will be OK,” The man said in his withered, tired voice, “Tomorrow, you will know more tomorrow.”

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Reincarnated As A Villager – Strongest Slow-life – Chapter 28

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“Sari Bali, I’m going to the harbor, what are you doing?”

Sari Bali is still talking to Shibada.

Although she’s an idiot, in this kind of country she still fits into the category of a pretty girl.

She doesn’t do anything for me, but she’s quite popular in my age group, and is loved by adults. Well, they probably see a foolish child as cute. Although, I don’t particularly think it’s adorable.

“I’ll stay here~”

“Hey, Shibada, don’t be charmed by Sari Bali.’

“Don’t treat me like a child!”

A small practice stone is sent flying, but it’s stopped by the trained me. I stop it with a pashi noise and hit a mark thirty meters ahead.

“Big Brother, you’re so amazing!!!”

“Wow, don’t be so surprised. I can afford that much.”

…Yikes! I got lucky, a little off and I would have lost their respect.

I returned to the coachmen seat of my wagon while deciding I would restart the throwing practice I’d been skipping tomorrow.

“Hey, hmm…”

When I swung my whip and started moving, someone called out.

When I turned my eyes towards the source of the voice, the village chief of the vine was heading towards me.

The chief of this village is still working hard at 62 years old. He’s never left the village, but as the only disciple of Obaba, given that the rotation of village heads is bad, you can kind of understand his story.

Well, I’m typically a good person, but it’s annoying not being good at cheating or lying.

“What do you want, village head?”

“You’re heading to the harbor. I’m sorry, but can you give me a ride?”

“Oh, I don’t mind.”

Because the countryside is wide, there is a kilometer between the sea and the village, and there is a small mountain in the way. It’s not far away in the country sense, but as you walk it will take a while and can be tiring. And if it’s between him and letting the general store lady catch me, you wouldn’t stay still either…

I confirmed he got on the carriage bed and then departed.

“Hey, so hmm… is it true what Samaba said?”

Samaba is the name of the general store aunt.

“I don’t know what circumstances she’s talking about, so I can’t talk.”

“Well, if that’s it, then sorry.”

“If it’s just gossip, no need to apologize.”

I apologize properly even if they’re a child. Really, you can’t behave too badly here.

“So, is the merchant ship big?”

“Oh, one or two merchant ships appearing in such a place isn’t so uncommon, but this is the first time we’ve had such a large ship, it’s like an island.”

I’ve seen merchant ships several times, but they were only about 20 meters. Because the village mayor is surprised, it’s likely more than fifty meters.

“How many people are there; did they have escorts?”

“There are about ten people with swords, the number of crew isn’t clear, but they have over forty people?”

“It seems like a pretty big merchant if that’s it. Did you hear their name?”

“Certainty, it was Barbond… err… Ba… what was it…?”

“Vadybirdle, was it not?”

“Oh, that was the name, is it famous?”

“In this Abelian, it is the best merchant. They don’t even lose to the marquis in terms of financial strength. Even the King’s assets can not win in front of Burbon’s personal connections and financial resources.”

Well, it’s impressive from a peddler’s point of view.

“…That, he was such a great person.”

If it’s Barbond, you’ll never run into violence, but the level of annoyance jumps up three stages.

“If it’s such a wonderful person, I’m not even sure… what should I do?”

It’s meaningless if I told you not the ask a ten-year-old child.

I’m treated as a child prodigy in this village. I’m recognized as a small sage that excels Obaba.

Well, I knew things that even the adults didn’t know. I was four years old when I started using characters and calculations. I not only became a pharmacist at the age of five, but I also started to self-study magic.

It could be likely I’d receive the heresy treatment normally, but since I was conscious of my reincarnation I took measures accordingly.

First of all, I don’t impose my knowledge. I taught only the things asked. I don’t talk to anyone in the village without knowing their relationship to our neighborhood. Helping the weak, cherishing the children. I don’t become arrogant and I don’t become pompous. I may be cheeky, but I don’t speak ill. There are many of things, if you use a little tsundere, heresy quickly turns to just a weirdo.

“Well, let’s go see.”

There is no choice in this village, but a useful card is held. If you don’t do anything stupid, you don’t loose anything.

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Every Isekai Ever Written

Some people requested this after the Xianxia. Well, this website is sort of a Isekai website, so why not.

_________________

“Huh, how interesting…”

I found myself in another world. Not me the writer writing this, me the main character of the story, who is in no way associated with the writer writing this, even though we have the same appearance, same career aspirations, I’m more his ideal age, but we share most of the same fetishes. His fetish, I mean my fetish is big boobs. Don’t worry loli lovers, we’ll throw you a bone too.

Anyway, I died somehow, it doesn’t really matter how because my former life will never be addressed after this prologue anyway. Friends? Family? The life I spent 18 years building? Well, screw that! I’m in another world now! I might as well get on with this one. No use crying over losing everyone I’ve ever known.

Speaking of which, I was now standing in a white space next to a beautiful goddess wearing a sexy outfit showing fairly big boobs of her own. I looked at her boobs. Did I mention I like boobs? Heh… boobs….

“Hey, my eyes are up here!” The goddess demands.

“Of course,” I look up at her eyes. “Hair color, eye color, and boob size are the three descriptive features of all women.”

“I think there are a few more.” The goddess muttered.

“I’m pretty sure that’s it.” I sized her up. She had long pink hair, and oh, why the heck not, bright red eyes, and a pair of D boobs.

“Well, anyway, you died, so I’m sending you to another world because…well does anyone really care about the reason?”

“Not really, I just want to know what I get.”

“Right, because I’m sending you to another world I have to make you a cheat character. So, you’ll get certain cheat skills. What magic do you want?”

“All of it!”

“What? All?”

“Damn straight. I want all the magic.”

“Okay… so if we’re going to make you some kind of supermage, then you stats should be…”

“All of it!”

The goddess spits out her drink. “All of it! Exactly how OP’d do you want to be?”

“Eh, just to the level of your standard Isekai protagonist.”

“You’re insane! That much power? You’ll destroy the very balance of my world, the exact thing I’m trying to avoid.”

“Don’t care.”

“You make a valid argument. All the cheating powers it is.”

“And the potential to get new ones whenever the plot calls for it!”

The goddess sighs. “Fine, that too.”

“And all the bitches!”

“You’ll have to get the bitches on your own!” The goddess cries.

“How about you? Wanna be one of my bitches?”

“That’s a definite maybe!” The goddess says before she slaps her hand over her mouth. “That is to say we’ll have to wait and see. The story might not go in that direction.”

“Ah, well, while we’re discussing these things, what is your world like anyway.”

“Fantasy RPG.”

“What are the video game mechanics like?”

“Exactly like your favorite game!”

“Awesome, who’d predict DnD nerds got it right about other worlds and it’s Earth that’s a screwy abnormality.”

“Yeah, it really is odd that every planet but earth has magic, has only advanced to the level of Knights and Monarchies, contains monsters, and uses video game mechanics, but that’s how it works!”

“Well, it’s not like I’d want to live in a technologically advanced world where disease is cured, entertainment has transcended the limitations of modern technology, and life is impossibly convenient. I know as an avid gamer with poor physical fitness I’d rather live in a world without movies, games, indoor plumbing, or air conditioning.”

“Of course.”

 

“Fine… I think that’s all I want to know. So, thank you so much for everything, goddess-sama.”

“Hey, why are you suddenly being so nice after you were so demanding earlier?”

“Don’t you know all isekai protagonists eventually become generic nice guys after a few chapters?”

“That’s true… I guess.” The goddess pouts for a second but then shakes her head. “Fine, I’ll send you somewhere in the wilderness nearby an exciting event that can propel your story forward a couple more chapters. Don’t screw up the world too much.”

“I make no promises.”

There is a flash of light and now I’m in some kind of forested area. I get up, pat off my cloths, and then run off into the forest, happening to head in the ideal direction to reach a road. As soon as I reach the road, I hear a commotion. That must be the event the goddess was talking about. There is a carriage and it appears to be under attack from a bunch of thieves.

I ran over to the carriage and check out the situation. It seemed like all the knights were dead, and the sixteen-year-old girl who appeared to be some kind of noble was in trouble. The thieves were all around her laughing with cruel looks as they tore off pieces of her dress, exposing her E sized breasts. She had <color roulette …. Blue> blue hair and <color roulette … pink, pink? Sure why the hell not> pink eyes.

“We’re going to rape you, princess!” One of the bandit clearly displayed his irredeemably evil behavior.

“Why? Aren’t I worth a lot more to you unharmed? I’m the princess of a freaking nation. If I’m returned that damaged, the King is going to stop at nothing to murder the hell out of you bandits. He’s got armies at his command! Don’t you have any sense of self-preservation?”

“Haha! What’s that?”

“It looks like the opposite of this.” I interrupt their conversation by single offhandedly ripping the throats out of two nearby bandits.

“Holy crap, he just killed two of us with his bare hands!” A thief declared.

“He got them by surprise, you five, go kill him!”

Five bandits attacked me and using my enhanced stats I easily killed each of them bare handed.

“Holy crap, he just killed five us without even batting an eye!” Another thief declares.

“That’s a fluke, the rest of you charge him at once!” The head guy declared.

“Boss, and I’m just throwing this out here, maybe this is a trap?”

“No, he’s easily beatable and I’m will to bet all of your lives on it. Even though we’re thieves, not soldiers, we will put our lives on the line for no freaking reason. Now run at him with your sword drawn and absolutely no plan or technique!”

Six more thieves charge and I murder them all.

“Damn you!”

“You know, I’ll let you go if you just leave.” I laughed.

The bandit leader charged thinking this time the results were going to be different. I ripped out his spine, pulled off his head, and then punted his head off into the distance.

“That’s a lack of self-preservation…” I explained to no one in particular.

Afterwards, I walked up to the princess who was stunned and making no attempt to cover up her boobies, which I could see. Heh, boobies…

“You just murdered twelve people! Are you perhaps some trained knight who does this often?”

“Huh?” I asked. “No, what? These are the first guys I’ve ever killed.”

“Uh… do you need a second?”

“No, I’m good.”

“You just murdered twelve people and you feel what… nothing? You know that’s psychopathic behavior, right?”

“You know, you were nearly just raped, shouldn’t you have endured some kind trauma from-“

“Ba-ba, let’s not talk about that ever again,” the princess shook her head and changed the conversation. “Forget I said anything. You’ve save my life, and as a result I, and my country, owe you.”

“Awesome.”

“Also, I’m in love with you now.”

“Well, that was a given.”

“But I’m not going to tell you that. So, I’m just going to blush and fidget for the next twenty minutes.”

“Well, technically you already told me that, but I see that you’re now blushing and fidgeting, so I’ll just play dumb.”

The princess blushed and fidgeted and I cocked my head to the side with a question mark floating mysteriously over it. Our actions were eventually interrupted by a group of knights.

“We had gotten wind that bandits might attack your escort, my princess, so we came as quickly as possible. We are relieved to see you are alright. We will escort you back to the castle.”

“Oh thank god,” I gave a breath of relief. “I was afraid I’d have to escort you back to the castle, progressing some kind of linear plotline and actually following through the story in a logical kind of way.”

“No, we can’t be having that.” The princess laughed. “Why, it may have even given us time to chat and I could have potentially formed the semblance of a personality!”

“No, no, can’t be having that now. I’m going to head to the nearest town now that I don’t have to worry about you anymore. Enjoy your trip to the castle. Even though bandits easily murdered all your previous knights I’m sure these Knights will keep you safe the rest of the journey!”

“Thanks! I’m sure we’ll meet again!” The princess replied, blushing.

You then walked to the town, which is totally normal and easy to do with your enhanced stats and not at all tedious or boring.

“Do you have any identification?” The guard asked.

“Ah, no… but can you let me in anyway?”

“Yeah, sure, but get some identification, not that it does any good when I just let you in anyway. You could be a terrorist or something, but who cares because it’s convenient.”

“Well, this entire conversation was pointless.”

“Wasn’t it though! Enjoy your stay!”

I also got the name of a good inn and the location of the Adventurer’s guild. Because of course I’m going to join the Adventurer’s guild if the world has one. That’s like, not even an option. Even if the story had nothing to do with me doing missions, I would still join the Adventurer’s guild.

As I look for the Adventurer’s guild, I come across a loli neko (cat) girl being beat up by a brutish noble. See, I told you pedo-freaks I was gonna give you your loli.

“I’m an asshole who beats up little girls in public, and everyone here is okay with it. Isn’t this world grand!” The noble declares. “Now, how dare you show clumsiness even though you’re like 12. You are just a slave whom I spent an enormous amount of money on, so naturally I’m going to treat you like complete garbage and beat you. I also wipe my butt with silk and chuck gold bricks at homeless people. Muhahahaha! I’m really bad at being rich…”

I go over and beat the guy up.

“Thank you so much for saving me!” The slave girl looks up at me with tears in her eyes. “Are you someone opposed to slavery?”

“Not really, Slavery is cool with me.”

“Eh?”

“I don’t mind people being forced into servitude caused by an oppressive and unfair regime likely influenced by racial prejudice. Even though I have the power to put a stop to it, I’m gonna just allow this without feeling any emotional weight. I mean, nobles are raping 12 year old girls and subjugating entire races, but who am I to judge. What doesn’t affect me doesn’t matter. Aren’t I a likable and relatable protagonist?”

“Well, they’re still reading this so…”

“Exactly, who am I to judge except someone from a more advanced world where 7 billion plus people unanimously decided that slavery is reprehensible. This weighs on my mind not at all, nor should it.”

“Then… why did you save me?”

“I needed to add a loli to my harem and a cat girl as well… you know, as long as you’re the hot kind.”

“Hot kind?”

“You know, you can have cat ears and cat tail, but I don’t want to be dealing with a Khajiit, you know what I mean? Once your face goes fury, that just kills all of it. Get it?”

“Not really, but what was your talk about joining your harem.”

“Well, you’re joining me and also you’re in love with me now, I assume.”

“Do I have a choice in the matter?”

“Well, you’re still a slave, aren’t you?”

“Right, well then I’ll just start blushing and fidgeting now. Can you please pat me on the head?”

“I’d do it even if you didn’t want it.” I laughed and patted her head as she blushed blushingly on her blushed cheeks which were blushed in color. “Now let’s go to the Adventurer’s guild.”

As we approached the Adventurer’s guild, the loli catgirl’s stomach growled so we stopped at a stall and I bought her some meat skewers with gold coins.

Oh, by the way, this is the part where I go into explaining the monetary system of this world and how it converts to yen, whether you care or not. You need to be told that there are copper, silver, and gold coins and each denomination is 10X more than the previous denomination. Although, if this world was pretending to be creative, I might change the names to knuts, or krems, or some kind of made up name for currency.

“That’ll be 15 Gil please!” the lady hands over the meat skewers and your hand touches hers and she blushes. “You just bought something from me! I love you now!”

I give her a nod of acceptance. This could only be expected. After eating our food, we head into the Adventurer’s guild. I hold the door open for a lady adventurer who falls in love with me because I held the door open for her.

“Hi, receptionist, I’d like to join the guild.”

“Alright, that will be 50 credits.”

“Here you go!”

“Alright, so, you can go over to the board over there in order to pick up a quest…”

“Ugh… I know how to join an Adventurer’s guild. Do we really need to…”

“The quests range in rank from S all the way to F. You will start at the rank of F…”

“Yes, yes… and I’ll gain ranks as I complete quests and I can only take quests up to my rank. This is the same bullshit in EVERY isekai novel, can we move on now.”

“…” The receptionist looked at me for a few seconds. “And you will need this guild card that –“

“Aaahh!” I banged my head on the table repeatedly as she spent the next fifteen minutes explaining how the guild system worked.

“Do you have any questions?”

“Questions! You want to know if I have questions? I never had less questions in my entire life. My world is a black hole, collapsed by the weight of your blabbering constant stream of answers to questions I already knew! A retarded monkey would know by now. Jesus lady…”

“…” The lady stared at me for a second with a flat expression and then blushed. “I’m in love with you now.”

“Finally, something we can both agree on!” I cried. “Anyway, let’s go loli catgirl.”

“I have a name.”

I laughed. “You say that like the readers will remember it.”

I left the pouting catgirl behind and checked out the mission boards. I looked under rank F, which was unfortunate given how powerful I am, but what the heck, I’ll do one anyway. Well, the S ranked quests included things like “Defeat the Demon King!”, so I won’t be taking that quest on until the end of the story when the stakes are highest. First I need to get us all emotionally invested.

“Collect some grass that heals or some shit.” I read the description of the F ranked quest, “Well, it’s a start.”

I handed in the sheet of paper and she stamped my guild card and then we headed out of town. Apparently, even though the herb I’m gathering was within an hour walking distance of the city, someone thought it was a tough enough job to require making it an Adventuring quest.

“Well, that’s twenty bags of herb.” I patted off my pants.

“I think the quest said just twenty herbs.”

“Eh?”

When we got back to the Adventurer’s guild while it was somehow still light out, I handed in the bags of herbs.

“Oh, wow, that’s so many herbs. How did you gather so many?”

“Um… I tried?”

“Well, this will earn you 10,000 bottlecaps!”

“That’s like $10,000. Who would have thought a job that could be done in a single afternoon for an F class Adventurer could net me enough money to live comfortably for months.”

“Nobody… because that would be freaking retarded.” The loli catgirl responded.

“Ah, well, either way I’m rich now. Exactly, how did you become a slave again?”

“Apparently, considering how gamed the system is, my parents were just generically bad at life.”

“Too bad. Let’s go buy a mansion.”

“You can’t buy a mansion with $10,000.”

“Maybe not a normal mansion, but I can buy a haaaaunted mansion!”

We went up to the city property manager, and he showed us a giant super awesome mansion formerly owned by a noble. However, the noble mysteriously disappeared and everyone who bought it since died a mysterious and horrible death, so it was cheap in cost.

I paid the amount and went into the mansion and beat up all the ghosts. Does it really matter how? Point was, I have an awesome mansion and I didn’t work very hard for it. As goddess intended.

A certain goddess sneezes.

“Alright, that was fun. Now, I’m going to go out and buy a slave.”

“You already own a slave.” The slave responded.

“I’m going to go out and buy a GOOD slave.”

As the loli catgirl teared up, I went out to the slave auction house. They line up a bunch of girls, and despite being slaves they’re all super hot and skimpy and full of skills. Each one had a simple, easily fixable default so noone wanted them and they were all super cheap so I got to pick the one I wanted. Plus, I could see their boobies through their outfits and it’s awesome. No problem exploiting enslaved women here. Am I still a likable protagonist?

“I’ll pick that slave.” She had <roulette roll… orange!> orange hair and <roulette roll… green> green eyes and also big boobies. She also had dog ears and a dog tail.

As soon as I finished the purchase, I started to touch the slaves ears and tail. It’s cool, she’s a slave. It’s not like she’s a person with feelings or something. We head back to the mansion.

“I’m so glad master isn’t the kind of master who will beat and starve me! You’ll just rape me and sexual harass me none stop!”

“Yes, I’m the only man in this world who isn’t just the most awful person ever. I’m only slightly awful. Just a little awful, so comparatively I’m a saint!”

“I love you, master!”

“Of course, is it because of the not beating you? It’s the not beating you, isn’t it?”

“That’s part of it! Plus, I have no trauma from being a slave, so now I’m just going to act like just a normal girl in your harem. Why don’t you sleep with me tonight?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Well, I love you and I’m your slave! So let’s have sex?”

“I don’t follow you.”

The new slave girl’s ears dropped down as she wore a frown. “I would like… to engage in intercourse, with master.”

“Huh?”

“Um… I would like to get naked…”

“Okay…”

“And I’d like you to get naked…”

“Right…”

“And then we… you know… have sex.”

“Now you lost me.”

“Wo-would master by chance be a virgin?”

“What? Pfft… what are you talking about? I’ve been with… like… so many… boobies…”

“Okay… let’s try it this way. You see my boobs?”

“Oh yes.” I responded excitedly. “I like boobies!”

“Now, I have something between my legs…”

“You know… if you keep talking like that, I’m going to think you like me or something.”

“I’ve already confessed I love you!” she snapped.

“Forget it, you’re dealing with an isekai protagonist in a pg-13 web novel, your relationship is never going to go past cute lovey scenes.”  The catgirl sighs.

“Well, I don’t know what either of you girls are on about, but why don’t you go take a bath in the outdoor hotsprings that this mansion for some reason has.” My eyes gleam a bit, “Don’t worry, I won’t peek!”

“You know, we could be doing the naked tango right now!”

“Just leave it, let’s go bath.”

As the two girl’s finally depart, I jump onto my bed and give a sigh. This was a very eventful first day. I would build a harem in this world, become rich, and be loved and respected by everyone. After that? Who knows? I supposed I’d do whatever those things are you’re supposed to do with harems. Put her in various outfits? I think you’re supposed to bath with them and they like cook for you and feed you. Those are the things you do with a woman, right? And live together, I guess? Can’t think of anything else at the moment.

If I knew at that time what I’ll know in the next chapter, I wouldn’t be so comfortable, because something big was going to happen. I mean, I’m so OP I’ll easily solve it, but it will stretch this wish-fulfillment story out a few more pages so, you know, look forward to it.

Every Xianxia Ever Written

This is part of my Wattpad “Every Book Ever Written” Novel, but I thought given the subject matter it’d be most appreciated with this crowd. I also wrote “Every Sex Scene Ever Written (By a 12 yo)” and “Every Zombie Story ever written” to name a few others. Would they be worth “porting” over here? Either way, enjoy this one.

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My name is Jang Yang. I have spent my life being made fun of and mocked because my profound veins were weak and womanly, and there is nothing worse than women, am I right, guys? Now, I’m going to spend the next 3000 chapters chasing after anyone with a vagina. Nothing ironic about that… Anyway, in the past, all of my attempts at forming a harem of girls failed because of those veins and how weak they are, but all that changed three years ago.

“Would you like ultimate power?” a crystal I randomly found in the stream asked me when I was twelve.

“Hell yeah, I would!”

And like that, I was given a second set of veins. Bigger veins. Manly veins. However, because I didn’t grow up with those mighty powered veins, they were empty. That’s why it’s been three years since then. I’ve been training in secret, filling my veins up for the day of trials.  That day was going to be today, so I needed to get going.

I started preparing to leave my hovel of a home. I was part of the Wu sect. They were the main sect in control of these parts, but because of my weak veins and my dad’s illness, the other Wu members walked all over my family. When my dad married my mom, he was a promising rising star, but an accident during training had damaged his veins, which he still blames for the reason I was born with such weak veins of my own.

Of course, now my beautiful jade-like mother was much higher than his station and many men looked on with jealousy over my weak, pathetic father having a woman as beautiful as she. As a result, she was frequently harassed when she went into town and took to having to wear baggy clothing and no makeup to hide her beauty as much as possible. If someone of the Wu family went too far, we’d be powerless to stop it.

Of course, while the Wu family were the heads of this city, this was actually a very small city, in a small region, in a very small country, in a very small continent, on a small world, in a small cluster of worlds, in a small multiverse. That’s right, multiverse. You’ll see that introduced again in chapter 8000 when I run out of other ways to drag this story out.

Suffice it to say, I was the bottom of the bottom, looked down upon by everyone. However, that was going to change starting today. As I was contemplating this, someone came up from behind me and put their hands over my eyes.

“Guess who!”

I smiled and turned to my beautiful sister. She had jade-like skin just like her mother, and green eyes, and long black tidy hair. Her body was frail and womanly and fragile and weak. Like, if you hit her body with a stick, her body would break. Not even like a thick stick. A twig even. You could beat my sister up with a twig. So hot.

“Hello, my beautiful sister.”

My beautiful sister’s jade-like skin flashed in a blush as she turned away. “No, big brother, please don’t look at me that way.”

I grab her hands and kiss her on the nose, “What way? My sexy, beautiful, hot, piece of ass but totally just platonic sister.”

“You know I must marry one the Wong brothers so that I can bring our family just a bit of peace.”

“No, you’re my woman. I won’t let any man have you, especially not someone from the Wong family.”

The Wong family were the worst of the bunch, constantly taking advantage of our family. Had father not had more power at the time, my mother, who’s basically an object, would have been Wongs. As a result, Father Wong resented my father for getting his dream girl, while Mother Wong resented my mother for being the one her husband really wanted. Basically, all of them are assholes, so you can understand how awful it would be if my sister ended up with one of their children.

In reality, I was only thinking about my sister’s happiness. I certainly didn’t have any incestuous thoughts towards her or anything inappropriate like that.

“Brother, your hands are groping my chest.”

I nodded thoughtfully, “Yes, just making sure they are developing properly.”

“Brother is always so worried for me.”

“Time for the Pap smear!”

“I’ll be leaving now.”

I slapped my sister’s rump as she walked out of the room and she gave me beautiful beaming smile and blush as she left.

“One day, I’ll marry you sister!” I declared as she fled the room.

Ah, that last part was also a totally platonic interaction. As a brother, it was my responsibility to let my sister only be with the best, and I’m it, so… you know.

I leave my home after giving my father and mother the proper acknowledgment as a filial son. As I headed to the temple, there was a woman who was being harassed by two boys. They weren’t letting her pass by on her way to the temple at all. I, of course, knew the two boys. They were none other than the Wong brothers.

“Please, let me pass!” The girl responded coldly.

She was also a beautiful girl, with long black hair and jade-like skin. She was so jade-like that she might as well be a rock. So sexy. She was also a childhood friend. She was one of the few people here who treated my family well. Well, I was going to make her mine because of it. That, and she’s also really hot. Other than my mom and sister, she’s the number one beauty of our city. Every man fancies her, including the Wongs.

“Don’t stalk off so soon, woman, If I have things my way your father will agree for you to marry me!” The older brother said.

“Hey!” I barked, causing all eyes to turn to me. “Don’t you guys know that two Wongs don’t make a right?”

“Oh, look brother.” The younger one snarled. “It’s Jang Yang. Even though I’m like engaged to his sister or something, let’s be really nasty to him!”

The pair looked down at me in absolute disgust, their eyes twisted with revulsion like I was a bug who suddenly stood in front of their path and started standing up to them.

“Today is the day all of that changes. Shortly, we’ll be ranked by the Daoists, and you’ll no longer be able to hide behind your family’s relative power.”

“Absolutely, soon we’ll be higher ranked Daoists too! You’ve inherited your father’s pathetic veins, Yang, don’t expect today to do anything but cement your place as a loser forever!”

“I disagree!”

The two men gasp, completely taken aback by my sudden defiance.

“Why you…”

“In fact! “I continued “… I think that in a few hours, you won’t even be lucky enough to lick my very feet!”

“This guy can’t even see Mount Tai in front of him…” He started.

“I’d even go so far as to say! You two, are poopy faces!” I interrupted him.

The younger brother ground his teeth in anger while the older brother spat up blood. The pair turn to look at each other and the younger brother gasps.

“Jesus! Big brother, you’re coughing up blood!”

“Yes, I do that when I get really angry.”

“Really? I mean, I’m no doctor, but are you sure it might not be something serious, like lung cancer?”

“I’m fine, I do it all the time.”

“That’s even less reassuring!”

“Look, let’s teach this Yang a lesson for daring to defile our name with his vicious tongue.”

“Rather than that, I think I need to take you to the doctor!”

“What are you doing, dammit, I said I’m fine!”

“Wait, now your bleeding from the ears. No, we’re going now, this ain’t right!”

The two brothers seemed to forget I was there as the younger brother dragged his big brother away as he seemingly bled from every orifice.

After a few moments, it was just me and the beautiful Jade girl Ying Ting. She turned to me and gave a nod.

“I’ll be going then.”

Wait, before you go!” I ran up to her beautiful jade figure and put my hand on her shoulder. “Oh, wow, you really are smooth as jade. And so ice cold, perhaps I should warm you up?”

“That’s a Jade Statue. I’m standing over here.” A girl’s voice came from my right.

I looked over at the statue. I did think it odd she was missing her arms. Ah well. Me and you will meet up later, baby. I abandon the Jade statue and walk over to the other object in the room.

“So, I just saved you from some mild annoyances. Do you love me yet?”

Ying Ting gave a snort. “I am the most beautiful woman in this village, so naturally I’m only concerned about increasing my own profound powers. I’m already more powerful than anyone else in this village, including the Wongs. The only reason I’d ever let a man touch me is if having sex somehow increased my profound powers and everyone knows that virgins have the strongest profound powers.”

“Yeah, but only if they’re women.”

Ying Ting nods, “Of course, but unless you’ve got some way of increasing my profound powers drastically through sex, this… just ain’t gonna happen.”

“Well, this story is written by a man so can we… yeah? Yeah… that sounds just super. See you in fifty chapters… naked.” I confirmed things with the narrator, and it turned out he totally could come up with a BS reason why she’d need my penis in a moment of distress.

Ying Ting rolled her eyes and walked away as I imagined her naked and all the things I’m going to do to her off-screen. I mean, you guys won’t experience it, but it’s going to be HOT. I mean, look at her, she’s so pale and thin and sickly. She just coughed and swooned! So hot. Well, live vicariously through me when the event happens. Totally HOT.

I finally made my way into the temple. All of the younger disciples were forced to line up in front of the gathered crowd on stage. An old man with white hair and white beard pulled out an orb and handed it to the temple elder. The elder started handing it to each person in line, one at a time as the pair watched closely. The color would turn into a blue, or a red, or a green, or some other color, and that meant something. It was your profound affinity. The strength the orb glowed furthermore revealed how powerful your veins were.

When the youngest Wong finally was handed the orb, it glowed in two different colors! Everyone gasped. A dualist! Who could have ever expected a dualist would show up in this smallest school at the smallest city in the smallest country, etc, etc…? The Wang family would rise in status substantially, to the point where my sister would be lucky to be his mistress. He gave me a condescending look as he finally handed the orb back to the old man who proceeded to pat him on the back with a smile. As far as his orb strength… oh, I don’t know, we’re just making up measurements here… let’s say 51 octopus. It’s a more than a lot, less than a lot-lot.

However, even though I just said all that like this was some kind of problem, I merely returned a flat and unimpressed look. With my new powered veins, I was certain would put out a show even more amazing. Ying Ting came up and grabbed the orb next. This time, it exploded in a rainbow of color.

“Holy Calamari, 95 Octopus!” The test instructor couldn’t contain his excitement as everyone broke into conversation.

I didn’t know what rainbow colors meant, but it apparently meant really powerful. Well, good for her. As expected of my future woman. She’ll be powerful… although never quite as powerful as me, of course. She’s only a woman, after all. God, I hope she loves me!

The orb continued to be passed from one hand to the next until it finally landed in my own. Ah, finally, I can show the world how powerful and awesome I am!

I reached out and grabbed the orb. At first, nothing happened. Wong’s smile seemed to be growing more and more until, without warning, the orb suddenly exploded. Glass shards flew out, striking the test giver in the face!

“Holy crap! Oh, freaking ow. I got glass in my eye! What just happened?”

“Ah, it appears the orb has spontaneously exploded.” The old man responded.

“Exploded! How does that happen?”

“Don’t know, this has never happened before. Here’s a spare.”

“Wait, you just said this has never happened before!”

“Yes.”

“Then why are you carrying an extra orb!”

“Ah, well, aren’t you glad I am?”

The elder priest sighed, grabbing the second orb from the old man and walking back over to me. “Alright, let’s try this again.”

He drops the orb in my hands. I stare at it. Once again. Nothing. There was some chuckling occurring behind me, but I didn’t turn to see who made it. Then, the orb exploded again!

“Ah, my other eye! Gossshhhhh… darn it that smarts…”

“Oh my, well, here’s another spare.” The old man pulls out a third one.

“Nope, no, nu uh. I’m not using your stupid exploding orbs no more. At least, not on this disciple. He is given 0 Octopus and blowing up orbs as his diagnosis.”

“Wise teacher, what does this mean for me?” I ask anxiously.

It’s the old man who answers. “Well, we’ve never seen this effect before, so effectively we can’t rank you. As a result, you’ll need to start at the bottom.”

“The… bottom?”

“A rankless, but that also has the side effect that you have no ceiling limit as well.”

“Huh?”

“Ah, well, to be frank, you’ll start at the bottom, but as you’re the first of your kind, we don’t know your limits. In a word, your potential is limitless. Only time will tell if you are the weakest of the weak or the strongest thing this world has ever seen. You’ll be constantly seen as complete trash by your peers until you prove to them your strength, one rank at a time. There are a thousand ranks… in the first profound realm, and there are like ten realms, so it’ll be a while. Plenty of time to stretch this story out forever.”

“Can’t we just assume I’m probably powerful and everyone can start treating me with at least the basest level of human decency?”

“What? Hah! No! To summarize, you and your family will be treated like garbage, until you steadily climb one rank at a time, getting your vengeance a handful of people at a time as the next progressively higher group continues to look down at you.”

“How long will this continue?”

“Oh, I don’t know, until you beat everyone up I guess.”

“Everyone?”

“Everyone!”

“Even you?”

“Especially me!”

I give a sigh as everyone stares down at me, most with superiority and disdain. Ah, well, either way, I’m going to rise to be the most powerful person alive. To protect my family, or for money, or women? Or something… does anyone really care? I’m going to be super powerful, let’s just leave it at that. But for the moment, I guess nothing was going to change after all. You’re just going to get the same crap, over and over again for the next 5000 chapters. Enjoy!