384 Kept for Amusemen
Tycondrius had found an interesting synergy in two of his magic items.
The first item was the Sword of Venom.
⟬ Sword of Venom. Third Circle Magical Katana. Target injured may be afflicted by severe poison damage. Soulbound to host. ⟭
Sol Invictus member, Dragan, had sent a long, curved blade via the Courier's Guild, delivered by the newest member of their guild, Popoto Potata Pota.
The weapon was originally stolen from a slaver in the Kingdom over a year prior. At the time, it was enchanted with frost magic. It seemed that Dragan had the silvery blade re-enchanted, as now it was coated with a waxy sheen of debilitating injury poison.
While functionally the same, Tycon was not keen on using a sword enchanted with frost mana. Cold made him uncomfortable. On the opposite end of the spectrum, he had a natural disposition towards poisons.
...Tycon wanted to use the weapon, solely based on personal preference.
The second item was the Sturdy Scabbard, an enchanted weapon sheath reinforced with durable adamantine. He had chosen it as a reward from his dungeon delving with the Brazen Guard.
⟬ Sturdy Scabbard. Elementary Transmutation. Warning: This scabbard is inhabited by the Orcish Samurai, Garock. The weapon spirit may possess the user. Soulbound to host. ⟭
He had discovered a strange phenomenon after he had placed both the sword and scabbard within his spatial item, returned to him by Sorina Capulet.
⟬ Ring of Holding. Third-Circle Conjuration. Opens into a nondimensional space of 10 cubic yalms and up to 250 ponze. ⟭
That was stolen, too.
A few suns prior, Tycon had summoned the Sword of Venom, intending to perform basic maintenance. Upon doing so, he found the sword snugly sheathed inside of the scabbard.
This was odd for two major reasons. First, he had not directed his System to perform any kind of item sorting or consolidation. Second was that the scabbard fit the blade suspiciously well... which meant that the previously Orc-sized scabbard had transformed, slightly in shape and moderately in size.
His first hypothesis for the phenomena was that the sentience within the scabbard was stronger than he'd initially given credit.
Such would be easy enough to verify. Tycon would just ask Garock, himself.
On a training off-sun, he asked Zenon to guard him as he... cultivated.
In the privacy of his own room, Tycon opened his palms, mentally summoning the Sword of Venom. It appeared as before, sheathed in its scabbard, and resonating with mana.
Holding it in his hands, Tycon felt like... the weapon wanted to be wielded.
Tycon pulled the blade out of its catch, examining its integrity. Masterful craftsmanship. Sharpened. Well-oiled and cared for.
⟬ Warning: The weapon's spirit is attempting to establish communication. Accept? Y/N? ⟭
Tycon sighed, internally making last-checks on his gear. Even if he were to be drawn into an illusion, he would treat the endeavor as if it was an actual combat scenario. Such preparations would only help and not hurt his performance within the dream-state.
Better still, likely Garock's spirit would be weaker than when he was empowered by the Dread Wraith. That meant he'd be vulnerable to the injury poison on his crossbow bolts.
Tycon could not deny that he was looking forward to shooting the fellow.
« Accept the communication. »
Immediately, Tycon fell into a daze... and his mind drifted elsewhere.
Tycon discarded his overcloak, basking in the warmth of the sun.
« System, inquiry: This is an illusion, this time, yes? »
⟬ Affirmative. ⟭
Tycon had been transported to a hot and humid swamp... likely somewhere in the Free Nation.
The weather was overall enjoyable and the scenery was pleasant, if a bit... archaic.
Nearby fields were planted with rice in neat rows. Orcish hovels had been erected in the distance, made from woven bamboo and roofed with thatch. Those homes rested upon stilts, implying that the area was prone to flooding.
Most interesting was that the area underneath some of the houses were fenced in. Though the pens were empty, they were suitable for keeping livestock.
...Tycon would have loved to raise chickens or pigs at the Vanzano estate, as his quest was nowhere near being finished. Unfortunately, besides a stablehouse in need of repair, it was far too much work to be worthwhile.
Anyroad, the stench of it would likely be bothersome, as the estate was deep within the city of Silva.
Red standards were planted in the areas around the settlement. Each of them bore the image of an open-mouthed, tusked face, shoddily painted in white.
He recalled that Garock belonged to a Hidden Sect called the Screaming Silence. The wild areas of the Free Nation were unexplored enough that it was less likely they were purposely 'hidden' but more likely... forgotten.
And for those who were aware of the Orcish tribe's existence, the standing faction banners would protect them from local Warbands scouting for places to raid.
A War Prince capturing a neutral village would incur the wrath of a confederacy of neutral forces. Or worse... an Orcish War Chieftain could use the incident as an excuse to unite several tribes. The Blood for Blood principle was perhaps the most respected 'law' in the Free Nation.
Tycon felt the slight vibration of a heavy bipedal creature approaching from behind him.
"Is this your home, Warrior Garock?" Tycon spoke aloud.
Turning around, he found a stunned Samurai scratching his cheek in embarrassment.
Garock wore a simple farmer's tunic, wooden sandals on his feet, and a broad-brimmed bamboo hat upon his head. The grey-green and tusked orc's massive sword hung on his side from a cloth belt. It was flipped upside down in its sheath, to make it harder to draw.
As Tycon expected, the sheath was identical to the adamantine scabbard that he held in his own hand.
He appeared not-so-much a fearsome warrior, but more of a... a retired adventurer, relegated to a backwater village.
"It is... or it was, anyroad... long, long ago." Garock smiled politely, "I, alone, remain... a single warrior who should rightfully be surrounded by a loving family and a sect of hundreds..."
Tycon nodded. Garock was a ghost of his former self. Whatever force of will that was powering his existence was strong enough to evoke a location: rice fields and hovels, sun and sky. It was not enough to create illusory companions...
The Samurai sighed and shook his head... "How many years has it been since we last met, Warrior Tycondrius?"
Tycon shrugged, "It's been a few weeks since I defeated your spirit in the Icingdeath Dungeon. I was wondering why you didn't pass on to whatever afterlife you believe in."
The Orc shifted uncomfortably, "I believe the current me is a vestige of what I once was. My sole reason for existing is to pass on my sword skills to a worthy successor."
"Well, that sounds... nice."
It was an interesting concept. Samurai Garock's peculiar defensive sword style was difficult to deal with in melee combat and had nearly gotten Tycon killed.
As beneficial as training in the orc's weapon arts would be, Tycon didn't currently have any two-hand sword users in Sol Invictus on hand.
He supposed he could gift the scabbard to Dragan... or perhaps the young Pale, the youngest human member of Sol Invictus. Pale picked up new training methods quite easily.
Tycon pursed his lips as he turned around to leave, "I'll be going then."
"Wait! Wait!!" The Gold-Rank orc moved swiftly... clumsily running in front of Tycon, holding his palms out in a panic.
Tycon narrowed his eyes at the lonely orc, "Yes, Warrior Garock?"
"I... uh..." The orc clasped his hands together, inclining his head, "Do you have any snacks?"
Oh. Tycon had forgotten. Garock had asked for snacks when they last met.
Spirits, in general, go for long bouts of time without the simple pleasures that most living persons take for granted, eating and sleeping, in particular.
Tycon summoned a small lunchbox from his spatial ring, still warm and delectably fragrant, "Fried potatoes with cheese and sour cream. It's my charge's favorite dish, so I made some extra for you."
Garock took the small box, cradling it as if it were a high-rank spirit treasure, "My... deepest thanks, noble warrior."
Was he going to cry? How droll...
"Tss. Don't be thankful," Tycon scoffed, "This is not treatment reserved for an honorable opponent, but more like a pet kept for my amusement."
The orc's eye visibly twitched... "I'd have liked it better if you hadn't provided the comparison."
Tycon rolled his eyes, "I'd prefer it better if you passed on properly."
Garock crossed his thick arms, sighing in defeat... "Is it possible... for you to listen to this old orc's tale?"
"You are aware of my medusa bloodline, Warrior Garock. I am older than you are-- or were, when you were still alive."
"It would honor me greatly," The orc bowed deeply at the waist.
Tycon took a deep breath, "I'm very busy at the moment. Conversely, you are a spirit with little concept of time. Your personality may degrade over the years and epochs, but the skills you have to offer will remain."
The orc lightly raised his head, grinning sheepishly, "Time flows differently in this dream. I believe it has only been a few breaths of time in the outside world."
« System, inquiry: How much time has passed outside? »
⟬ System response: Thirty-seven seconds. ⟭
"Hm..." Tycon mulled the thought over. He supposed he could spare the orc some of his time, "Very well. Are you going to invite me into your home, or are we going to stand outside all sun?"