171 Chapter 168 A Quest from the Gnomes
They were ushered into the town, almost reverently. Children peeked out of windows and from street corners, to see them. The adults stayed very quiet and still, and refused to meet their eyes. Joseph was busy using ANALYZE CREATURE on everyone in sight, as they followed the guards to the town center.
The leader was obvious, standing and waiting on them, wearing an elaborate vest and headdress. Behind him were several women and children, that had to be his wives and children, based on the way they were also elaborately dressed. His skin was green, and a single tusk poked out from his lower lip. Studying them with small, beady, black eyes, he spoke with a rich, deep voice that carried well to the crowd, when they paused in front of him.
"You claim to be pure bloods from beyond the plains of storms, and the forest of death. Name yourselves."
Joseph looked the man up and down, then around at the crowd that had gathered around them.
"I am Joseph Aurum, First of the Wizar, The Mage King, The Rogue King, Rune Master, Thaumaturge, One Who Cripples Gods," he proclaimed in a loud voice, that also carried to everyone around the square.
"I am Stella, Slayer of the Divine, Commander of the Army of the Fey, Champion of the Grove, First Protector of the World Tree, Shadow of the Mage King." She didn't hesitate, speaking as soon as Joseph finished.
The leader looked them over, his skepticism obvious on his face.
"The titles you claim, are many and lofty. Do you have the strength to move mountains like the great giants? Do you have the life force to regrow your head like a troll? Can you run without sound, or trace, like a forest elf? Can you create gold from lead like the gnomish masters of vials? Can you take the form of mythical beasts like the lycan tribes? We have not heard of your races. Prove to us you have the strength of a pure blood."
Joseph knew these people didn't have a clue, and while he wanted to make an example, he held back his annoyance, and decided to humor the primitives. His mana control had reached advanced, and the benefits that came with that would make this easy. First, he made his mana visible. There were gasps from the crowd, and while that might have been enough, he took it a step further.
The entire square was within his mana territory, so he stiffened the mana within the adult's throats, and forced them to kneel. Fear radiated off them in waves, and the confused children, who he left alone, looked on as every person within their sight knelt to this strange man before them.
Causing the extra mana particles around him to form small figures, he had them all kneel around him as well. Each of them appeared different and unique. It wasn't long before some of the children kneeled too, but he released them all before any of them could faint or pass out.
Stella merely stepped through Joseph's shadow, to appear behind the leader, as he struggled to his feet. The women gasped, back peddling to get away from her, as he turned to see her. She rushed at him, as if to attack him, but instead stepped back through his shadow and appeared back next to Joseph.
"I am the king of my people. I am the first Wizar, the Origin and Purest Blood of my line. No other Wizar can do that…yet."
The leader turned back to him, as Joseph's chilling words carried around the silent center square.
"If this does not prove our worth to you, then nothing I am willing to do, shall."
"We believe you, Pure One," said the leader, shakily.
(YOU HAVE GAINED THE TITLE: PURE BLOOD.)
'That makes me sound like a vampire, system.'
(NOT MY FAULT.)
"Please, forgive us our discourtesy! We had no idea how great you are! Pure One, we would make a request, if you would grant your mercy?"
While the man still sounded terrified and in awe, Joseph wasn't sure he liked the sudden sound of hope that sprung into his voice.
"What is it first?"
"Please, help us find our people. For months now, whenever someone leaves one of our towns alone, they disappear. Now, even when two or three go together, they go missing. We cannot farm our lands, or trade between our towns. We will grant whatever you wish."
Joseph considered their plight. These people were obviously not the ones he was sent to help, but they seemed to be having issues that would decimate them if he didn't get involved. People going missing, sounded an awful lot like the demon worshippers that he had dealt with not too long ago. It made sense that they would flee the area Joseph had hunted them in.
"I came to your town searching for the ancient gnomes and their city. Their god has asked a favor of me to rescue them from where they are trapped."
"Please, Pure One, if you grant us this, I will ensure the scholars and keepers of records from the other towns will also grant you all the texts we have on the gnomes you search for."
"How many are missing?" he asked with a sigh.
"Over 200 are gone from this town. But the incidents started in the town to the north."
"And you've had no clues?" he asked, having a hard time believing these people didn't have any idea where they had gone.
"None. Some report an odd smell at the last place someone was seen, but nobody has been able to recognize it."
"Like what?" he asked, almost certain now, that it was another of the demon worshippers.
"Almost smoky, but none of the wood we use around here smells like that."
Joseph glanced at Stella and she nodded. She was following the same train of thought he was.
"Does that help you, Pure One?" asked the leader, confused how he seemed to know exactly what was going on.
"Yes, get me something from the last person to disappear. Clothes, a hairbrush, anything extremely personal to just that person."
The leader motioned at one of his daughters, and she ran off to a nearby house. She returned a few minutes later with a hairbrush.
Good, it failed.
"She is likely still alive."
Stella grabbed his hand.
SEEKER. INVISIBILITY. TELEPORT.
Below them a caged wagon was rolling along a narrow path through some trees. Inside it were three naked women and two naked men, chained to the wagon itself. They had obviously been there for several days, judging from the waste around them, and their sunken cheeks and eyes. That meant there was no intention of them living much longer. Definitely a bad sign.
There was a slight poison in their systems that kept them from struggling much. They probably wouldn't last another day. Joseph then turned to the drivers.
The man on the left was possessed. His face looked like he had taken a sword to the face, and it had healed crooked. The other guy next to him, looked normal, and unremarkable, but he was dominated and a murder addict.
"Both are human," he told Stella quietly.
"You mean, were human. Anyone who can do that to a person, doesn't deserve to be called human anymore."
"Fair enough. Droko demons. They appear to focus on wrath, rage and violence instead of fear like the last faction we took out."
"So, they want to keep these people weak in order to beat them to death later?" she asked.
"Or make them cage fight each other to death, but yeah, you're probably right. They would want to do it themselves."
"So, what's the plan?"