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Read Orphan At The Edge Of The World 53 Oew 52

Orphan At The Edge Of The World is a web novel produced by Seide.
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Once again, it was only Gan and Orison. Not that there was anyone better to be gazing off into the distance with. Since the scout’s eyes were better and he had a map, Orison rationalized that the moment he could no longer see what was getting further away, he could just look where Gan was looking and pretend he could still see it.

It was a strange realization that the young mage had spent nearly double the time sending people away than being able to welcome them back as he turned to Gan and said, “I knew Morrel would go with the rest by boat but it feels like such a waste to just leave with the scroll like this when a third, maybe even a fourth, could tag along with us as long as they packed light. Maybe we should just kidnap somebody.”

Black lines ran down Gan’s face as he said, “Please don’t do that, Little Boss. Haven’t you stirred up enough trouble here?… Speaking of trouble, did you manage to check the outgoing missives to make sure Nadir didn’t try to steal your thunder?”

Orison smiled benignly and said, “Of course I did. I also drugged Nadir and read all his private ones, putting the most incriminating in a neat pile right in front of his face to see after he wakes up any moment now. Then again, I’m not sure what he fingered the rim of the gla.s.s or spiked the whiskey with but whatever it was, mixed with mine, it’s making me positively bubbly.”

Gan muttered, “More like a hand full.”

Distracted momentarily, Orison focused back in and said, “Handful? When was the last time you peeked? The miasma did a… I mean why are you dithering around for? Let’s find a good place to pop this scroll… Truth serum, definitely truth serum. But why? Did he have a change of heart on actually doing anything during the toasts or something?”

Orison still seemed dangerously distracted and chatty while he activated the secret storeroom scroll. Gan looked green as he watched the young mage scrawling a set of symbols representing numbers while looking and babbling away at him instead of the model formation. Despite that, the drawing was neat and orderly without mistake. Being a novice at magic himself, Gan expressed sheer bafflement at Orison’s ability to do so. Once stopped from telling Gan about Beta, the young mage realized that he might have wanted to check on Nadir before they left. If the captain had dosed himself that strongly too he might have reached dangerous levels of toxicity.

Worriedly he sought Gan for psychological comfort. “He wouldn’t have dosed himself with truth serum too, right?”

Gan was in the middle of expressing doubt when the curtain of light swallowed them up and spit them into a pitch black room. “The man would have had to lose his mi- Whah? Wait! Don’t move. There are traps everywhere. I can see traps!… No, douse the magic light. I can see them better in the dark. Can you use your glowing eyeball thing to follow me?”

Orison said, “Yeah but if you spit on the safe spots, I can see them even after you’ve moved past them…. This is his safe room, he’s dead…. Never mind, the dad is in a dangerous ruin with my toy for some reason… Hey don’t use it so much. You’re going to grow hairy palms. Just kidding, but you will burn out your life force and soul. Get plenty of rest and take your time. You have a spark of talent. It can pay for some of it and if you use it like a key- Well, yes I made it, mostly. Yeah, after this haul you should toss it into a drawer til it moves on. You’ve got peeps to take care of.”

Gan said, “Have you finally lost your last marble or something, Little Boss?”

Suddenly a great deal more sober after finding out he could channel consciousness through to speak so clearly with a holder of the Danann Key, Orison replied, “No. Sorry about that. I have a conduit with a bit of it’s own mind and the current holder was using it without realizing what he was doing to himself. I have a sneaking suspicion that when we get out of this picky place, you’ll be able to do the same with your map. You’ll probably be able to control it much better too.”

Sounding relieved his companion wasn’t losing their mind, Gan said, “Well, if we want the loot we need to get this lock box, chest and wall safe open without setting off the traps.”

After a thorough discussion of options, Orison had the lock box in his s.p.a.ce and was fiddling with the chest lock using the bunk lock/unlock spell after having Gan spit into the key hole a few times. It could have been done easy enough with Danann’s key but Orison wanted to use the hidden room to test his capabilities and he didn’t want to take his conduit away from the man because the poor Northlander with the recovering elf girl would almost undoubtedly die without it. He didn’t have enough ability with the key yet to send it back where it came from and had a small fearful premonition that having a conduit bounce so quickly all over the place was bound to get the wrong kind of supernatural attention.

Fifteen minutes and a good deal of cold sweat later, the chest was open but neither Orison nor Gan had a decent way to get the stuff out of it without setting off the pressure plate. That’s when it dawned on Orison. There was no secret way to get this safely. Avenar had intended this place to be a death trap but for the person who knew what all the traps where and how to protect against them with magic.

Orison had Gan list all that the scout could figure out with his map and then deduced a puzzle. “Alright, If I have this figured out right, the lock box is corroded by the acid trap. Once it corrodes open, the box releases it’s gas which mixes with the one the pressure plate produces, causing an explosion…”

As Orison finished explaining out the rest of his most probable version of the Machiavellian mouse trap before him.

Gan said, “So, to get this stuff, we have to be melted, poisoned, burned and then blown up?”

Orison explained, “No. We are going to hide behind a golem and a kinetic shield and right after I put on my mask and you take a few deep breaths, I’m going to trigger it. After it’s done doing it’s thing, I’m going to grab the stuff and then we’re going to get out of here as fast as we can before we get too bad off and recover at the college in Fort Frost.”

Gan said, “That sounds dumb. Whatever, let’s do it, I guess.”

Once they’d taken every possible precaution and Orison was ready to blow the whole thing, he widened his spirit sense to it fullest capacity to really see the interactions about to happen, when he stopped.

Orison started cursing, then said, “You were right, Gan. The configuration of traps throughout the whole room, if placed on a flat surface, make the ancient elven pictograph for simple. It carries a much more derogatory meaning if used alone. The cheeky, obliterated b*****d insinuated that the person who died here would be dumb for ‘not seeing the bigger picture’. Quite a theme that’s been popping up in my life lately. First, Nub’s progeny insinuates that I think too big and now a dead guy wants to insinuate I think too small.

“Wait! This sick f*** was actually a genius. Proof that the world isn’t even close to fair. It’s ‘simple’ to see the big picture but ‘smart’ to see the little details… of the picture, Gan. Not there, the little details in the ‘big picture’ on the wall safe. There’s no direct translation into the modern tongue for it but much like simple is an insult by itself, complex is a compliment by itself.”

First with spirit sight and then with normal vision, Orison inspected a piece of the wall safe picture that formed the ancient elven pictograph for ‘complex’ out of gra.s.s stalks and wildflowers. He might not have the original item or spell to make it visible but Orison’s spirit sight helped him make out a slowly moving tumbler series of numbers. It still took time but eventually Orison managed to construct the simplistic magic model that lined up with the one laid inside the wall safe that acted as the k.n.o.b. With one last look at the picture to get the current sequence, the safe was finally opened.

Inside of the small compartment, were the items necessary to deactivate the traps and open everything. Both of them discovered that even with their special advantages, the real valuables were hidden in the traps themselves and neither of them had gleaned a clue of that. The main compartment of the wall safe, the lock box and even the chest just contained more elaborate and dangerous substances that weren’t of any value and a hazard to try and collect. After cleaning the infectious powders and poisons off the gold and silver coated lead bricks, Orison still took them out of the chest as Gan ran around gleefully collecting the real loot. It wouldn’t be long until the young mage could turn them into real treasure.

Surveying their bounty, the first apparent thing was that there was little plain wealth unless one counted the small bag of precious gems. After splitting up the less than a thousand gold between them, Orison quickly glanced through a small stack of scrolls a couple rare books on enchantment theory and a selection of weak enchanted jewelry that Gan had to remind Orison the actual value of before the young mage even cared about them.

The young mage looked at Gan and said, “We’ve got to be missing something. This was the last bastion of an affluent man who had a slave ran farm island, a master mage of s.p.a.cial magic and a scion of his clan. The traps and props were worth more than the loot so we have to be missing something.”

The scout said, “All of this doesn’t mean anything to me. The guy was meaner than a snake and crazier than a sack of cats. Didn’t you tell me that his spell book was mostly just love letters to his father or something? Master mages don’t usually carry their spell books around with them anymore, or so Court Mage Gerrald said. My gran told me that trying to understand crazy would make you crazy too. Let’s just go si-“

Orison stopped listening to Gan as his mind started whirling. Opening up the spell book and reading through it again didn’t reveal any new insights but another twenty minutes and a hundred of Gan’s bored sighs later, Orison doggedly inspected all the loot before discovering that the places the scrolls went coincided with Avenar’s parental ‘love letters’. Coincidentally, Orison discovered that the scrolls would also kill the person trying to use them since a small part of the math was wrong.

In a long, drawn out session of math, code cracking and general scholarship that Orison barely qualified to follow, he figured out that Avenar was a s.a.d.i.s.tic p.r.i.c.k who even wanted his successor to suffer but luckily the young mage picked up on something Avenar did not intend. He found the shortcut Avenar himself would have used to visit those other sites if there was need. Two days later, both Gan and Orison were more weary of heart than mind or body.

Implements of torture, remains of people and experimental subjects best mercifully ended were common welcome at each new site. There was great wealth to find, though all but a small fraction was invested into macabre and dangerous devices. Among them were a rebuilt ancient elf slave collar production device and a mana baptism machine that had been repurposed into some kind of pseudo abyssal creature creator. Fortunately, Avenar and his a.s.sociates hadn’t managed to make anything useful with it yet but from what the duo who were pillaging and destroying could see, it wouldn’t have taken many more years for the nearly 300 year long project to unleash new horrors on the world.

Orison burned the research papers and files on premises but had no doubts there were more elsewhere. Together the two of them dismantled and destroyed the magic machines and salvaged the eternium crystals with whatever other valuable pieces could be put to less gruesome use. After the sacking of the final and largest site, in the middle of retrieving correspondences and other sources of evidence that could be given safely to others, a substantial amount of flashing curtains of light appeared in the infernal machine room that had Gan and Orison scrambling to a hidden spot to pop the academy scroll.

“You are an unauthorized user of the teleportation scroll that brought you here. Until the Master of Defense has questioned and cleared you, move off the transport circle and into the secondary containment circle.” The old robed figure on duty said.

Orison nodded and while complying, asked, “Would novice spells be allowed while we wait? I have a great deal many missives to send and do not possess the proper amount of copies… Oh, right. I’m Orison Cantrip, disciple candidate to the archmage here. Journeyman Therridel is my registered tutor.”

The old prune of a robed Highlander, who’d been intent on pretending he couldn’t hear, perked up and turned to Orison. “Well, in that case, I’ll summon our prestigious aboriginal archmage to deal with this.”

The sourness of tone and implied lack of respect towards the t.i.tular leader of Frost Fort Academy had alarm bells going off in Orison’s head but after the old Northlander appeared looking fine, aside from a few new scars, Orison a.s.sumed the robed raisin was just an inst.i.tutional figure who’d been around long enough, people couldn’t be bothered too deal with his att.i.tude. Many aging figures probably even supported his right to surliness. Whatever the case may be, the archmage had questions of his own and it didn’t take long til they were in the old Northlander’s personal rooms.

“What new horrors are you preparing to unleash in my general direction, Young Cantrip?” The archmage stated in humor.

After transcribing a copy of the more important test notes and correspondences, Orison handed the originals over, content to not speak a word unless necessary.

The old Northander’s smiling face fell away by degrees. “Do you have any idea what this would represent if all were aware of these experiments, considering the names involved?”

Orison said, “A cold war magical arms race potentially ending with a cataclysmic event capable of destroying this world? More likely it would end with two or three super powers checking each other with the threat of utter doom while the rest of the world had to huddle in one of their shadows for protection while being exploited.”

The old man shook his head and said, “What you lack in magical knowledge cannot be made up for with historical pursuits and mind studies, Apprentice Cantrip. War, however, is correct. Insofar as I can speculate, world threatening cataclysms are a regular, bicentennial event… What is the state of this device? What did you see and what else do you know?”

“We broke it with extreme prejudice,” Orison said before relaying all but the treasure hunting.

The archmage considered the information and said, “Before I release you to get a meal and some much needed rest, why me? Why not report this to the Centerland college and earn some merit with the emperor?”

“Convenience. I could say that it’s because you have me listed in the books as being a prospective candidate for discipleship but I’m too tired to bullsh*t,” Orison replied.

The archmage chuckled weakly and said, “The last time I tangled into your affairs I lost the memories of three hours and picked up a few new hobbies I have to indulge. What will it cost me this time?… I honestly had your older brother painted as the spiritual heir of your father but your knack for stumbling into trouble is even stronger than Baldur’s, I fear.”

Two days of scavenger hunting for valuables while immersed in horror and death had worn heavily. After an evening meal and a hot bath, Orison and Gan both collapsed into their beds within an isolated guest room at the base of the archmage’s tower. And if a sobbing young mage was comforted back to sleep by a certain scout startled awake by m.u.f.fled, nightmare induced screams, no one but them was aware.


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