Linos again sat on the dirty floor of his room, legs crossed and eyes staring unfocussed at the wall. Slowly, slowly he blocked out all the distractions: the noise from downstairs, the skittering of a rat as it scuttled across the warped floorboards, the creaking of the roof in the slight breeze, the smell.
Ah yes, the smell.
It had only grown more complex—enriched one might say if one had been seriously tripping on dangerous substances—with the longer-term use of goblin labor. But Linos eventually blocked even this most-potent assault on his senses. Slowly, his mind concentrated on the cheap-looking locket he wore on a leather thong around his left wrist, it’s place on his neck now usurped by a richer-looking amulet.
Then the connection…
A familiar, cold intellect surrounded him, and a mental voice like thunder addressed him.
IT IS THE APPOINTED TIME. REPORT.
“My Master, we aided the client as contracted, but also became involved in a scheme to free the people of Mycr who were enslaved.”
He sent a burst of compressed information—sounds, visual pictures, all now meshed with labels and comments his Master had called “meta-data tagging”. Linos had had difficulty understanding the need, and even more learning the technique, but his Master had ordered it. And so he had learned and become accomplished.
YOU ARE BECOMING EMESHED WITH MYCR AND HIS SERVANT. THIS IS NOT OPTIMAL NOR NEEDED FOR YOUR TASK OF OBSERVATION.
“My Master, I owe them a life-debt.”
YES. THAT IT WAS YOUR LACK OF COMPETANCE THAT LED TO THAT DEBT IS DISPLEASING TO ME. BUT IT IS A TRUE AND LEGITIMATE DEBT. YOU WILL TAKE MORE STEPS TO MEET IT. THIS INVOLVEMENT WITH THE SLAVES IS INSUFFICIENT.
YOU HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED BY MYCR. YOU MUST FULLY DISCHARGE THE DEBT LEST HE CONTINUE TO INFLUENCE YOU. HE WILL CHANGE YOU IF HE CAN. MYCR CAN BE… DANGEROUS.
The voice sounded almost… careful when speaking of Mycr. But Mycr was just another god, and an unpopular one at that. Linos didn’t understand, but he knew what was expected.
MAINTAIN YOUR OBSERVATION OF MYCR’S SERVANT. I WOULD KNOW WHAT HE PLANS WITH HER.
“Yes, my Master. I hear and obey.”
[Remote data request logged. Accessing. 1 hit found. Returning top 1 hits.]
Linos frowned. Knowledge was power, or so went the creed of his Master. But when he used the Master’s gift of knowledge, he found only one relevant item related to Mycr, and it was a string of pure nonsense preceded by an odd riddle. Perhaps he, Linos, was not meant to know the Master’s full understanding of Mycr. The Amazon shrugged. It wouldn’t be the first time that understanding had to take a back seat to obedience.
Far, far across the surface of the world, an ancient and immense blue wyrm stirred in its lair. Festooned with crystals and devices of strange and arcane metals, the lair looked less like that of a dragon, and more like some bizarre techo-wizard’s laboratory. One of these crystals was now lit up with an image of Linos frowning. Another showed the information that the dragon’s minion had called forth. The great dragon’s eyes narrowed in annoyance. While his array of crystals and logic machines had called forth a large amount of data on Mycr from the vast infosphere of this world, this data package—unlike anything else yet ingested—appeared to be encrypted.
And the key prompt was… most impertinent.