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Contrary to Lith's expectations, the following day the wargs didn't attack the city and during the night no one died . Yet it didn't make him feel happy, it only made his worries increase .
'So much self-control can only mean one of two things . Either they are waiting to increase their numbers before they resume attacking, or losing two warriors in a single day made them scared . ' Lith thought .
'In their shoes, I'd regroup and pick an easier target . Since I'm in my shoes I need to find them as soon as possible either way . If the pack becomes too big and they all learn true magic, I'll need backup .
'If they change targets, it will just be the same situation in a different location, since I'm in charge of the whole d.a.m.n region . '
Lith was no Jirni, but after spending so much time together in Othre, he had more an idea of how to conduct his investigation . Tracking the wargs' accomplices within Maekosh was just a waste of time .
No matter if they were shapes.h.i.+fting wargs or just humans that had smuggled them inside the city and hid them in their homes, if they had managed to fool the overly paranoid inhabitants of the city, Lith had no way to find them .
There were simply too many people to check with Invigoration, without a solid lead, it would be like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack . Finding the wargs, on the other hand, was likely to be easier .
To feed the pack and increase their numbers, they needed food and a lot of it . Lith had no idea if a monster could die of starvation, but he was almost certain that they would not fast for long willingly .
During winter there wasn't much they could hunt, so he found the closest settlements to Maekosh on his map and alerted them of the threat with his communication amulet .
He could only hope that hunger would cause them to make a mistake or that by examining the carca.s.ses the Balkor department could help him to track his prey .
Free country of Lamarth . Beyond the eastern borders of the Gorgon Empire .
Like any decent mage in the three great Countries, The Master received countless reports about the monster outbreaks he had caused . At first, they had considered the anomalies to be a good omen .
Their treatment worked even better than they had predicted and if it was applied to an orc shaman, it could make them friendlier to the cause . Soon, however, everything spiraled out of his control .
Some sp.a.w.ned too fast, other had become too powerful, but the worse part was that all of them stuck out like a sore thumb . Their plan of raising Abominations disguised as monsters quickly backfired as every country started to investigate the phenomenon .
"I don't get it, Xenagrosh . What could have possibly gone wrong?" The Master whined .
"It's the nature of research . " The Eldritch shrugged . "A lot of failures are required before succeeding . Now we know why Thrud limited her experiments to humans . Monsters are great breeding grounds, but their unique nature makes them unpredictable .
"From this experiment, we learned that it's better to stick with Thrud's strategy . Humans for the Abomination who were humans, beasts for beasts, and so on . It will be slower, we'll still need to kidnap a lot of people, but it's much safer .
"Your plan was sound, my disciple, only its initial result was poor . We'll do better the next time . " She patted his shoulder .
"I guess you are right . " The Master sighed . "I've never been so wrong, though . I never am, dammit!"
"Don't worry, sugar, you weren't wrong . " Xenagrosh's sensual voice said .
"Sugar? Are you drunk or what?" The Master respected her but there was nothing more between them .
"That wasn't me . " Xenagrosh said turning toward their surprise guest .
She was a woman of rare beauty, with grey skin and silver hair . She was wearing a comfortable mage suit which emphasized the perfect proportions of her body . More than her skin or hair, it was her second set of arms that identified her as not human .
Xenagrosh couldn't believe her own eyes . The body was all wrong and so were the creature's golden eyes, but she could never forget that face nor the dress she was wearing because they were her own .
"I know I've never been this beautiful, but who cares?" Said the woman .
"Trolls have such magnificent bodies in their true form . I'd say it's only fair to enjoy them for a while after being stuck for centuries as a monster . "
Being an Eldritch, Xenagrosh could shapes.h.i.+ft into many forms of her choosing . Sure, in her natural state she wasn't easy on the eyes, but Abominations were survivors . Only being pretty just meant leaving a pretty corpse to them .
Yet the insult bothered her because it voiced one of her most private inner thoughts .
"Why are you here?" Xenagrosh asked her troll-self .
"What do you think?" She replied as one Chaos spell appeared on each of her twenty fingers .
"I'm not going to let you use me as an energy potion . We're going to merge on my terms and using me as the base . There can be only one . "
And so, the fight for survival began .
The mages from the Balkor department came to pick up the bodies first thing on the morning of Lith's second day in Maekosh and gave him the results of their preliminary a.n.a.lysis the next day right after noon .
'Already? That was fast . ' Lith was also amazed the investigative department had sent someone instead of just using a communication amulet .
"Let me begin by saying thank you for storing the bodies immediately after their death . " Said mage Pazeol, a man in his early twenties with black hair and brown eyes . Three long and thin scars ran from his jaw to his neck .
Lith recognized the marks left by Balkor's Valors . Like many survivors of his last attack, Pazeol had decided to keep his scars to never forget and never forgive .
"Well preserved specimens make our work much easier . Sadly, the monster outbreaks aren't Balkor's doing . " He sighed .
'That news should be worth celebrating . Being so obsessed about anything is an unhealthy behavior . ' Lith thought .
'h.e.l.lo pot, my name is kettle . ' Solus chuckled .
"The people responsible for these wargs have improved his method, turning it into something completely different . The Abomination fragment is not used to just create a hive mind and give the monsters new powers, it's a seed meant to grow .
"Almost a quarter of the body of the second warrior you fought had turned into a monster-Abomination hybrid and I'm sure that the Abomination side is programmed to convert its host over time .
"As for the good news, whoever did this planned to retrieve their creatures, so they added a tracking spell to each Abomination fragment . " Pazeol took out an enchanted amulet made of silver the size of a tablet .
It had a blue mana stone on its center and a green one on each of its corners .
"We managed to prepare a receiver for the signal that you can use to track them down . There is one problem, though . Even if the bodies were perfectly preserved, the spells deteriorate fast after death takes away the mana fueling them, so the data was corrupted .
"It will not work unless you are within 200 meters (656') of the signal's source, but once it locks onto the target you should be able to follow it with ease . Have a good hunt, Ranger Verhen . "
A cruel smile appeared on Pazeol's face . Destroying every trace of Balkor's work was the sole reason for his existence .
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