\'Another tribe of monsters already\' The news left Solus shocked.
\'We dealt with another one less than two weeks ago outside Kogaluga.
How can they possibly spawn so fast despite our rounds and the lack of resources due to winter Don\'t tell me it\'s more trolls.
Those things are disgusting, they give me the creeps.\'
\'No trolls, it seems they are dealing with a pack of warg.
Also, I agree with you, it shouldn\'t happen this often.\' Lith thought as he dispelled Scanner and Scalpel.
\'I can only think of a few possible explanations for this.
If we are lucky, it\'s just them coming out of their nests after running out of resources.
Monsters are as powerful as they are dumb.
They are incapable of planning ahead for a whole season.\'
\'Worst case scenario\' Solus asked.
\'Someone is making them spawn to further their own agenda.\'
\'Yeah, right.\' She chuckled.
Even by Lith\'s standards, that was full blown paranoia.
\'I wonder where you left your tinfoil hat.
We don\'t want aliens to read your mind.\'
Free country of Lamarth.
Beyond the eastern borders of the Gorgon Empire.
The Master had been on cloud nine for months now.
The incident in Othre had given them exactly what they needed to put an end to the slump their research had been in during the last two years.
I\'m telling you, Xenagrosh, this is the will of Mogar.
Everything happens for a reason. The Master\'s usual mean, lecturing tone had been replaced by one of a child on a sugar rush.
They spoke with a shrill voice, talking fast as their hands operated the experimental machinery the Abominations were assembling in the magical lab.
Ever since the Master had managed to acquire a copy of the Spellbreakers\' report, they had barely slept.
Xenagrosh, the Eldritch Abomination who served as their right hand was worried about the Master.
Their maniacal enthusiasm for magical research was a double edged sword.
It had brought them far, but had also caused many casualties among their ranks.
Abominations were even rarer than Awakened ones, their numbers were limited.
Four years ago, Balkor taught everyone with a working brain how Abomination\'s tissues can be implanted inside other creatures to control and empower them.
At first, I thought it was as ingenious as it was useless, until Thrud showed me how wrong I was.
She brilliantly solved the main problem of Arthan\'s Madness\' low energy assimilation rate by converting her victims into copies of herself before harvesting them.
I\'ve devised a way to fuse Balkor\'s and Thrud\'s research which has solved many of our problems.
Abomination\'s tissues are much stronger than human\'s, they can take root in any living being.
By creating copies of our associates, we can boost your powers endlessly and get rid of the madness which ensues after fusing several Abominations into one.
If they share the same mind there will be no conflict.
It\'s just perfect!
Xenagrosh\'s enthusiasm was limited.
She had been a powerful Awakened before turning into an Abomination and being forced to rebuild her strength from scratch.
She knew all too well that saying and doing were two very different things.
I don\'t know.
Even if I knew I was just a copy of the original, I\'d rather die fighting than let myself being sacrificed.
Also, we still need to kidnap a lot of specimens for your experiments.
I don\'t see much difference in our situation now. She shrugged.
How can someone who once was so brilliant have become so idiotic The Master sighed.
We\'ll harvest them before they reach full sentience, we can\'t risk a civil war of our own.
As for the specimens, we\'re only going to use monsters for the trial runs.
Xenagrosh was stunned by her mentee\'s brilliance.
Monsters spawned fast, had great magical potential, and no one cared how many of them died.
What about the orc shaman\'s crystal The Master asked interrupting her musings.
We need it as energy source, otherwise mass breeding Abominations will take too long.
What do you mean lost The Master\'s good mood disappeared.
The retrieval team spooked the shaman enough to make him detonate along with the mana crystal rather than let it fall in the hands of \'demons\'.
Both the Master\'s rage and eloquence reached a new peak, making them say words so crude that it\'s best for them to remain forgotten.
City of Maekosh, Prancing Griffon tavern.
It was Lith\'s second time being there and his first visit hadn\'t degenerated into a brawl solely because he was as happy to leave as everyone else was eager for him to go.
As long there was a mana geyser in the proximity, Solus\'s company was the only thing Lith needed to enjoy his stay in a new place.
As I told you the last time, Ranger, your money is most welcome here.
You, however, are not. Xelos, the tavern\'s owner, was glaring at Lith in such a way that if looks could maim, the Ranger\'s remains would easily fit into the establishment\'s trash bin.
Like many medium sized cities in the north, hospitality wasn\'t a strong suit of its inhabitants.
Most Northmen lived in fear of the borders and of the spies that might come from the Gorgon Empire.
Uniforms and badges could be counterfeited, so even during the good season they only trusted strangers as far as they could throw them.
Winter made everything worse.
With no Warp Gates and snowstorms that could isolate a city for weeks, a single foreigner mouth was one too many.
No one was willing to share their rations and risk suffering from starvation in case something happened or if the cold lasted longer than expected.
The tavern\'s usual patrons shared Xelos\'s hatred for Lith.
Everything he ate or drank was something they wouldn\'t get to enjoy.
Even if he was paying for his meals, they still considered his presence like that of a thief.
And as I replied to you last time, you will give me what I paid for, or suffer the consequences. Lith considered Maekosh a **hole, but the variety of beers they brewed there were top notch.
He had got a taste of them from a merchant in Othre and found them a marvel for his taste buds, even at room temperature.
Served cold they were simply divine.
Lith had added as many kegs as he could to his stocks during his first visit.
Unfortunately, they didn\'t amount to much.
Winter was coming and most of the supplies were already sold.
Like what Xelos sneered.
You are nothing but a military dog, so follow your precious orders and get lost!
I\'m glad you asked. Lith replied with a soft smile, as his mouth and fingers weaved an incantation.
You can\'t use your magic! Xelos didn\'t lose his spunk.
Everyone here is my witness.
Uniform or not, the Griffon Kingdom won\'t stand criminals.
Indeed. Lith opened a Warp Steps right behind Xelos, using a bit of spirit magic to push him through it before closing the Gate.
The patrons jumped from their seats in outrage, but he remained calm.
I\'m a civil servant, not a slave.
There\'s a big difference to it.
According to the law, robbing a Ranger, refusing to serve him, and slandering him are all criminal offenses punishable by imprisonment.
Which means that you only have two choices left.
Waive my protection and face the monsters on your own or join your friend in a solitary cell for the entire time I\'m forced to stay here.
Silence befell the tavern.
When pride and fear clashed, the latter usually won by a landslide, especially when monsters were involved.
The patrons went back to their seats and no one protested when the barmaid served the Ranger his meal.