I liked the names… so I re-used them for this character intro. With the end of one Dungeons and Dragons campaign comes the start of another. This should be an interesting one.
“Here’s the workshop.” Lexai said smiling his usual smile as he opened a wide pair of doors to a large room with a mixture of modern and ancient equipment, shelving, cabinets and a ten foot tall statue of a suit of armor in the corner. “Outfitted with standard blacksmithing tools, a forge and the newer alchemy supplies you requested as well as a bit of the modern magitech.”
Gravelox looked around and smiled. This place would be perfect. He could barely afford the monthly payments, it didn’t have any Passages in it to disrupt his work and the combination of the captive fire elemental for a forge and the alchemy tools were exactly what he was looking for. There was even a small office space he could convert into a living space.
“Who owns it now?” He asked his realtor, mentally going over his finances to make sure he had enough for a downpayment.
“I keep my clients confidential.” Lexai said in a flat, businesslike tone. His smile stayed fixed as though plastered on. “That’s not a problem is it?”
“Of course not.” Gravelox replied, too distracted by the workshop to think clearly. “Just idle curiosity. Now, about the terms you had mentioned?”
“The offer stands. The owners are willing to sell it to you contract for deed.” Lexai said, his smile ratcheting up a notch. It was really almost mechanical. “And at a low fixed interest rate of ten percent.”
Gravelox tried not to swallow his tongue. “What? You said it would be five percent!”
“Well, inflation and all that.” Lexai waved a hand vaguely, “I have three other clients interested. None of them need financing.”
Swiftly calculating in his head, Gravelox decided that as long as he met his projected sales potential he could make it work. Barely. Provided he didn’t run into any unexpected difficulties. He shook the Kobold’s hand. “Done.”
Something wasn’t right. Gravelox had only been living here for a month and it seemed as though things kept going slightly wrong; just wrong enough that many of his creations failed. He stared at the tiny bit of powder in frustration, watching as the reaction failed to produce the violent reaction intended and instead slowly smoldered and let off sullen red sparks.
It was time for drastic measures. Opening the scroll case at his waist he withdrew one of the few remaining scrolls within and incanted the spell on the thick vellum. His eyes glowed violet and he looked about the room, searching for magical anomalies.
At first glance, nothing was wrong. Of course his forge had a hazy outline showing that it had runes that contained and compelled the elemental within with conjuration, evocation and enchantment. There were protections on the walls that kept outsiders safe should any untoward alchemical event occur with abjuration magic. The chamber even had some transmutation magics built into the walls that deadened sounds and helped control the temperature.
A more careful scan showed that the rusting metal statue that served as one of the support pillars radiated subtle power. To his surprise, both of the statue’s hands radiated a hint of conjuration, but the rest of it seemed almost to be a dead zone. It almost appeared to be absorbing ambient weave and redirecting it for some unknown purpose. He also noted that there was a small bit of the statue in the direct center that seemed to be damaged now that he was inspecting it closely.
Removing an old friend from his equipment case, he leveled a wand of mechanical repair at the imperfection and activated it. The statue twitched, sagged and fell over with a resounding crash. Gravelox watched in horror as the wall it had been supporting collapsed. When the roof truss smashed into him he was too surprised to shout. All he could think of was that if he couldn’t make the payments he was dead.
Something was very wrong. Gearslayer’s systems were gradually activating, one after another. The first were the large muscle groups; the cables and cantilevers flexing and going through their startup tests. A blockage of its shoulder joints impeded mobility so it first tried to lift, then allowed its knees to bend and slump. Rust made it impossible for Gearslayer to fully articulate its knee joints, and it lost its balance and fell.
Many other things fell as well, and when Gearslayer’s ocular inputs came back online it found itself to be prone in a pile of rubble. A shriek of protesting joints and pulleys that were long overdue for oiling accompanied its movements as it sat up, easily moving large wooden beams aside. A fire seemed to be starting and there were multiple code, health and safety violations in effect.
More urgently, there seemed to be a Citizen bleeding and unconscious beneath a section of roofing. Protocol suggested rescuing the citizen had priority. Ignoring the warnings about joint malfunction and improperly lubricated equipment, Gearslayer bent and tried to move the section of roof. When it refused to budge, it extended a hand and a pure white glittering scythe appeared in its hand.
With a perfectly calculated slices, Gearslayer chopped the sections of rubble that pinned the Citizen to the ground. Dragging the boards off the Citizen, it lifted him to safety.
“Citizen.” Gearslayer said, as its vocal systems finally coming back online. “Your building is the subject of several health and safety violations. I also believe it to be on fire. My channels of communication with local authorities seem to be very outdated. Do you have the ability to contact them?”
The Citizen did not respond. Gearslayer attempted to recall how to check for vital signs but found that program to be corrupt. It attempted to recall how to restore consciousness but found that program had been removed at the request of one Officer Durand.
A passerby was goggling at the destruction and Gearslayer approached her. “Attention Citizen. I require assistance contacting the local constabulary. It would appear that this building has been destroyed and is in danger of setting fire to the surrounding neighborhood. Can you assist?”
The Citizen burst out laughing, “You some freak baby, I ain’t no firefighter. Ain’t no damn cops out here honey.” She walked off, still chuckling. “Crazy ass machine, don’t know where he be.”
Coughing behind it made Gearslayer turn back to the Citizen it had rescued from the building. “You destroyed my shop.” The Citizen gasped.
Gearslayer paused to consider this statement. “I do not recall doing so Citizen.”
“What is your name, designation and what year is your commission?” The Citizen asked, coughing and spitting blood out of his mouth.
Gearslayer paused again, sorting through its protocols. “My name is Gearslayer, I am designated a Defending Bailiff and sentence executor. I am unsure as to the year of my commission Citizen. It appears that some of my records are damaged, or possibly modified.”
“Your worthless carcass was holding up one of the walls of my shop.” The Citizen said, “My name is Gravelox. Your lawless destruction of my property puts you legally in my debt.”
Gearslayer considered this statement. Likely he did indeed at least partially owe this Citizen something in return for what had happened; even if it wasn’t intentional. “What is the amount needed to cover the damage done Citizen Gravelox? I do not seem to have mention of funds in my name in any of my databanks.”
“Eighty thousand gold.” Gravelox said, “And that’s just for the building, not counting all the equipment and materials lost.”
“That is a substantial sum Citizen Gravelox.” Gearslayer said, “I fear it will take some time to assess my capability to assist in the reconstruction.”
“Time is something I don’t have.” Gravelox said, running his hands through his hair. “We’d better get the hell out of here.”
“Why would we leave Citizen?” Gearslayer asked, “Should we not attempt to salvage-“ He was cut off by a small explosion from the ruins of the building.
“There’s dangerous stuff in there. We need to run – ah – to get the proper authorities.” Gravelox said.
“That is a valid point Citizen.” Gearslayer said, “Lead on to the nearest constabulary. I believe it is six blocks west and fourteen blocks east.”
“Sure.” Gravelox said, “Come on.”
Lexai frowned, looking about at the destruction. He’d been counting on the gunsmith to make him some real coin. Now he was out the lucrative trade of firearms dealing to the less savory elements of this particular quarter as well as being out a building, the mortgage payment and even worse, his Minder wouldn’t be happy about losing the interest on the loan, the regular payments or the property.
“By the Portals what went on here?” He wondered aloud. Gesturing to his followers, he looked around the streets. “Find out what happened. Bring me witnesses. Bring them alive, or at least capable of being brought back for questioning.”
The Shadows glided into deeper darkness, the winged folk took to the sky, the other assorted toughs and monsters trudged off into the maze of streets. When he found Gravelox, there would be a reckoning.
One of the Shadows returned almost immediately, depositing a sealed envelope at Lexai’s feet. Inside, he found a note from his missing gunsmith.
‘Lexai, please excuse my absence. I know you will be displeased by the events that have unfolded, however I do plan on paying you back in full. With proper interest. It will merely take me more time. I apologize for the inconvenience. You have my word that I will compensate you in full once I am able. Payments will be forwarded regularly.”
“I’ll have his skin for scroll vellum if he so much as misses a single payment.” Lexai hissed, and the note immolated in his hand. “If the Minders believe me to be getting soft, they will end my contract.” He shuddred, ending a contract with his Minders wasn’t fatal. But he would likely wish it was.