Friday, December 9, 2016

Chapter 55 - Base Building for Beginners

Well, there were a few no-brainers. We had a shortage of skilled craftsmen, and their talents could be better served rebuilding the town and the surrounding area. So ‘Advanced Auto-Repair’ was a given. Plus, I liked the idea of being able to stockpile material and have my castle repair itself. 1% per hour wasn’t much, but it changed the repair time from months to days, and that wasn’t bad.

Next on the list was the Mist Workers. While the description suggested that they’d be useless in a fight, being able to summon manual laborers was always good. I wouldn’t trust them for something that required a degree of fine motor skills, like picking fruit. Even basic things like cutting trees or mining would best be left to those who had the skills. But hauling the trees, stone, and ore around? Or preparing ground for building? Or plowing a field? Or clearing debris? That was all possible. Maybe more, once I figured out their limits. So they were purchased, too.

That cost me 15000 PP, but since I paid for it from the castle treasury, I didn’t mind as much. The next thing I really, really wanted was that ‘Area Scan’ upgrade, but it was missing a prereq, and that ‘Astrogatorium’ wasn’t on the list of things I could build. Which probably meant that it was something that you had to build after one or two other things were up, like in those RTS games, where certain units or buildings couldn’t be bought until a couple other things had been built. In my case, that probably meant the Magic Lab needed to happen first, which was one more reason to get that repair work done soon.

I wanted to wait until the walls and towers were repaired before deciding on defensive weapons and emplacements, so I left that for the moment. I did, however, get the Everfilling Well, Alchemy Lab, Tailor/Leatherworker Workshop, Training Hall, and the Library (which held 5 book lots). The result was that a new section opened on the Upgrades list, called ‘Extras’. I’d look at that in a sec. First, I needed to make this place livable. So I opened the Living Quarters upgrade section.

There was a LOT of stuff going on here, but when it was done, I had a master suite for myself and my harem, nice rooms for guild officers, Iqnora, and visiting dignitaries, barracks for guild members when they were in the castle, some well-equipped kitchens, a dining hall that also served as a guild hall, and baths (including a separate, and more luxurious, one for myself, my pets, and the officers). I also had a private study/office. All to the tune of 25000 GP and 200000 MP from the castle stores. Of course, most of that was just bare space, with the basic equipment needed. I’d have to get craftsmen to make furnishings.

That done, I opened the Upgrades page again, to see what had changed.

Facility Upgrades
Name
Cost
Description
Mystic Forge
N/A
Upgrades the current Forge and Smithy to a Mystic Forge, allowing the processing of magical metals and materials. Allows advanced smithing techniques.
(Locked until Forge repaired.)
Magic Research Lab
N/A
Creates a lab suitable for magical research. Is an upgrade of the Enchanter’s Lab.
(Locked until Enchanter’s Lab repaired.)
Craftsman’s Workshop
N/A
Upgrades the Workshop to a Craftsman’s Workshop, giving +20% bonus to all general crafting skills (Woodworking, Sculpture, Painting, and so on).
(Locked until Workshop repaired.)
Stables
1000 GP
Creates basic stables for up to 20 mounts.
Throne Room, Lv 3
N/A
Upgrades Throne Room to Level 3.
(Locked until Throne Room repaired.)
Living Quarters
Special
Creates residences, kitchens, dining halls, baths, and so on for castle residents and staff. Price depends on options selected.
Dungeons
Special
Creates a dungeon to keep prisoners secure. Price depends on options selected.
Dark Temple
20000 GP
Upgrades Dark Shrine to Dark Temple. +20% to all divine spells cast by Evil or Neutral characters. Additional +20% to all divine spells cast by worshipers of the Goddess venerated at the Temple (Currently: Sharess).

Area Upgrades
Locked until new features explored.

Townland Upgrades
Locked until townlands settled.

Defensive Upgrades
Area Scan
N/A
Provides detailed map of area, including enemy troop movements.
(Locked until Astrogatorium built.)
Veil
100000 GP
Creates a magical veil that hides the castle from view to anyone hostile to the Owner or the residents. Reserves 50000 MP from Castle stores.
Deathwater Moat
50000 GP
Moat becomes filled with Deathwater Poison, killing enemies that touch it. Useless against Undead or Constructs.
(Current Moat: Cursed Moat)
Acid Moat
5000 GP
Moat becomes filled with potent acid, dissolving everything except for earth (will affect allies as well). No effect on Earth-type creatures.
(Current Moat: Cursed Moat)
Flaming Moat
10000 GP
Moat becomes perpetually filled with flaming oil, doing damage to all who try to cross it. Smoke may impair vision.
(Current Moat: Cursed Moat)
Augmented Walls
N/A
Augments castle walls with various effects. Price based on options selected.
(Locked until Magical Research Lab built.)

Weapons Upgrades
Magic Ballista
1000 GP
Creates a magical ballista. Can be upgraded or enchanted for further effects. Ammunition costs 1 MP per shot from castle stores.
Magic Trebuchet
10000 GP
Creates a magical trebuchet. Can be upgraded or enchanted for further effects. Ammunition costs 10 MP per shot from castle stores.

Extras
Everful Larder
2000 GP
Creates a larder that never runs out of beginner-level ingredients. Not as bad as field rations, and starvation isn’t an issue, but still…
Basic Book Lot
100 GP
A lot of books providing a 10% bonus on skills relating to a single subject (such as Alchemy, or History).
Intermediate Book Lot
500 GP
A lot of books providing a 25% bonus on skills relating to a single subject (such as Alchemy, or History). Counts as 3 book lots.
Advanced Book Lot
1500 GP
A lot of books providing a 50% bonus on skills relating to a single subject (such as Alchemy, or History). Counts as 5 book lots.
Master Book Lot
5000 GP
A lot of books providing a 75% bonus on skills relating to a single subject (such as Alchemy, or History). Counts as 10 book lots.
General Book Lot
200 GP
A lot of books providing a 5% bonus on skills relating to any subject. Counts as 3 book lots.
Class Trainer
100 GP
Creates Trainer Orb, allows user to unlock most Classes and Advanced Classes.
Training Dummy
100 GP
Creates basic training dummy for weapons and spell training (indestructible).
Enchanted Training Dummy
N/A
Creates a construct training dummy enchanted to fight back.
(Locked until Enchanter’s Lab repaired.)
Transport Tiles
N/A
Creates a teleport tile that transports those who step on it to a designated spot.
(Locked until Magic Research Lab built.)
Secret Passage
N/A
Creats a ‘Passage’ that allows two-way travel between two points. Options: Concealed, Password, Master only. Further options may be unlocked with later research.
(Locked until Magic Research Lab built.)
Portal
N/A
Creates a two-way Portal to a single point.
(Locked until Magic Research Lab built.)
Mystic Gate
N/A
Creates a one-way Portal to a point determined by traveler. May result in mishaps if user is not familiar with destination or imprecise with directions.
(Locked until Magic Research Lab built.)

I was definitely going to have to get those magic facilities repaired! But some of the extras were appealing immediately. While I doubted we’d be using it much with Cookie around (no way would she use ‘beginner’ ingredients unless there was no choice), I picked up the Everful Larder, because having food to go with the water from the well would make a siege much easier to outlast. The Training Dummy and Class Trainer orb were also immediate buys, so that when my slaves and guildmembers needed classes or advanced classes unlocked, they wouldn’t have to run off if they didn’t want to, except for obscure classes. And being able to train weapons and spells on an indestructible dummy was a no-brainer.

Then I picked the ‘Advanced Book Lot’ for History, to put in the Library. I’d have to expand that library later, or add in new ones around the castle, but given the angry dragoness, Iqnora, and all the other things going on, being able to research lore was going to be a potent weapon in this game.

I realized I’d been at this for a whole hour! I took a brief look at the building interface again, and was pleased to see that at least some of the damage to the building and defenses had been repaired. Apparently, the debris from the attacks counted as having at least a bit of the appropriate materials on hand. I still needed to go and see about getting resources, though.

Building Interface

Lithaes Castle
HP
1318608/8500000
MP
400060/900000
HP Regen
0 per min
MP Regen
1 per min
Defense
350690/500000
Shield
1000/1000000
9043 PP
173750 GP
15600 SP
125032 CP
Statistics
See building statistics by section or type.
Upgrades
Choose available upgrades to castle.
Settings
Current display and power management settings.
Status
View damaged areas, prioritize repairs.

But first, I ought to take a look through these treasuries, right? Just to get an idea of what was in there besides a (now reduced but still quite) extreme amount of money? Yes, I really must! Of course, the mental interface went and ruined my plans of ‘Scrooge McDucking’ through the vault, and just popped up an inventory sheet. Spoilsport.

There was pages of stuff in the list, broken down by different factors. Of the six ‘lesser’ treasuries, I found that there was one each for different types of crafting materials, and they were all chock full of magically preserved, high level stuff. Which of course meant that none of our crafters could use them yet, but once someone got to the point where they could make things out of mithril or Hellspawned Spider Queen’s Silk or other such things, then we’d be in good shape. The storehouses were for Ores, Stones and Gems, Herbs, Fabrics, Leathers (including bones), and Miscelaneous (things like drop items from quests and such).

The magic items in the main vault were all really too high level for me, but once I got to level 80 or so, I’d be able to trick myself out with some truly badass gear. Same story with the armories. They were great, for your level 80+ characters, but for those of us who had just started, we were going to need to wait a while.

Dismissing the inventory sheet for now, I got up from the console, and sealed the vault once more. I didn’t want to do any more upgrades until everything was repaired, and we were going to need more Greenstone in order to make that happen. Which meant I’d have to organize a work party, and head out to the quarries to see about getting the stone. Even if we got more than was needed, having a supply laid in for the auto-repair if we came under attack wasn’t a bad thing.

As I considered these options, I found myself moving through the keep, towards the new living quarters. That wasn’t what concerned me, however. What concerned me (well, maybe ‘concerned’ is too strong a word) was the moans I heard from one of the rooms. Female moans. Like any good pervert, I was very interested in seeing what was going on.

Stepping into one of the servants’ quarters, I found myself presented with Severa, naked from the waist down, with a winged human woman kneeling submissively between her legs, servicing her. I could tell it was a woman, despite her armor, due to the shape, without even Observing her. Severa looked up as I came in, but didn’t stop the woman’s attentions.


“Mind telling me what the fuck is going on?”



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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Chapter 26 - Wrath

War is a democracy. The enemy gets a vote, too.

Evidently, word of our smashing teeth on a route to go stomp on Aprico had spread, because when Wraith Group jumped into the first of the Thaolians’ systems, Tsket, we found four fleets’ worth of ships standing against us. Of course, we kindof expected that, which is why Wraith Group, with our smaller ships and generally better cloaks led the way.

As we broke from the jump point, maintaining stealth, I turned to the monitor connecting to Engineering. “Destiny?”

“Mother’s in the system. We’re out of my contact range, so two-way comms is impossible, but she can send messages and I can write files for her to ‘read’.”

“That’ll do fine. We’re proceeding to Victor -3K kilometers. Sparrow is compiling up to date targeting information on the fleet nearest the gate. Tell her the play is ‘Quickdraw’. We’ll signal when initial targets are ready for servicing.”

“Roger.”

I turned away from the monitor to look at the sensor feed. Point Victor was the jump point we just came from. Wraith Group was translating down relative to the ecliptic three thousand kilometers. That’s nothing, in cosmic terms, but it was the equivalent of stepping to the side once you kicked in the door. Which was important when dealing with a ‘Quickdraw’ scenario.

Even the best sensors had problems when you jumped into a system. Faster-Than-Light sensors, like tachyon pulses and other such things would give you an instant picture of the area, but they were LOUD, and used a ton of power. Power that could be going to keeping shields and weapons charged. Non-relativistic sensors had the problem that while light moves damn fast, space is BIG. So, any information you got on them outside of knife-range could be hours, even a day or more old. It was basically like using artillery on Earth before Contact. You either used it on something that didn’t move, used enough to waste an entire county (and probably miss anyways), or you had a spotter give you targets.

Wraith Group would be the Fleet’s spotters. And they needed us, because there were fifty capital ships covering the jump point we came in. This fleet was Thaolian, and we could already see two more Thaolian fleets: one at the other jump point into this system from outside the Thaolian Conclave, and the other covering the fifth planet and the industry there. A fourth fleet covered the jump gate we were heading through next, and they weren’t Thaolian. Probably Aprico.

Anyways, once we were in position, and the data was finished collating, I had Destiny give the signal. And then all hell broke loose.

The Fleet arrived in system, and all weapons fired on the capital ships, targets preset and weapons computer-controlled to launch the picosecond the fleet was through the gate. Most of the ships didn’t even have a chance to recognize that doom was upon them before they were exploding, pulse torpedoes tearing through their formations based on having good firing lines to incoming ships. This meant that the fleet had great firing lines to the enemy, however, and the enemy was too spread out to effectively cover for eachother.

Forty-six of Fifty-seven ships died in seconds. Seven more died shortly afterwards, the damage destabilizing power cores or other volatile things (like ammunition stores) that tore ships apart from the inside. Of the four remaining, only one, the pocket battleship Satcsah, was able to maneuver enough to flee, much less fight. Assassin, Void Traveler, and Vengeance finished the job, eliminating the Thaolian First Fleet. There wasn’t a single casualty on our side.

Daddy’s face appeared on the screen. Every screen. If only I could find a sucker to bet with me, I’d lay all my money down that Aunt Crystal was forcing this transmission through to every screen in the entire system. Especially since I saw realtime subtitles translating Daddy’s message into Thaolian and Trade Tongue, a language created by a now-dead race that served as the language for merchants and captains in the Core.

“The Thaolian Empire has been found guilty of Crimes against Sanctuary and its people, and aiding Enemies of Sanctuary. For these crimes, this system shall be cleansed of all ships, all industry, and any settlement not on the surface of a planet.”

“Know now the name of Iceblade, Butcher of Argetha, Demon of Rithena, Doom of Silex, Bane of the Kratuans! Those who surrender shall be allowed to keep their lives. Those who resist, those who try to run, those who think that there is no truth to the tales they tell of me shall perish.”

“The Venatori have come. The Hunt BEGINS!”

And then the transmission cut out.

Looking around the bridge, I opened a channel to the Group. “Well, we’ve kicked in the door and called the assholes out to play. Wraith Group, it is time to show these bastards why they should never, ever, piss off humans, especially Sanctuary humans. The Fleet will take the Thaolian fleet guarding the jumpgate. Assault Group is tasked with capturing or destroying stations and settlements around the system. Wraith Group gets to bloody the nose of that Aprico fleet out there, to let them know what’s coming.”

Lucky Dice spoke up from the Chimera, “And the fourth fleet?”

“Well, if you’re hunting rats, doesn’t it make sure to chase all the bastards into the same trap? Any survivors of the second Thaolian fleet will try to rendezvous with the fleet guarding this system’s primary industrial centers. Any survivors of Aprico’s fleet will either do the same, or turn tail and run. Either way, we concentrate our enemy’s forces, so they can’t sneak around and hit us from behind.”

I paused, and then grinned, wolfishly, “But if you’re in the mood to give them something to think about, Mark, why don’t you launch a couple of those missiles of yours before we take this show on the road. Two of the superdreadnaughts in orbit of the planet, if you please. Once you fire, we go in hyperspace to Point Gamma, which I’m sending you all now, to ready our first attack run.”

“Yes MA’AM!” Ah, supervillains. They always loved it when you told them they could blow shit up.

About an hour after the initial attack, we were in position. Fool’s Gambit and Black Sparrow were the only ships not participating directly in the attack, but that was because those ships were ill-suited for combat. On the other hand, Gambit’s fighters would be joining us, while Sparrow kept overwatch.

Assassin uncloaked in front of the fleet, and unleashed her weapons upon the nearest ships, a pair of corvettes. Chimera, next to her, fired her phase-missiles into the ships behind Assassin’s targets, aiming at three frigates. Without even waiting to see the results of their attack, they dashed to hyperspace, making it impossible for the fleet to counterattack.

Just as the first ships were exploding, Gambit’s fighters dropped in, peppering four of the lightly armored corvettes in two strafing runs, ten fighters to a corvette at a time. One corvette was dead, another dying, while the other two were clearly out of the fight, one of them drifting after their engine got shot.

Just when the defenders were looking forward, Vengeance and the Void Traveler appeared inside their formation, torpedoes flying as they took out a pair of heavy cruisers to the right side of the formation. Even as the enemy turned their fire that way, the two ships escaped to hyperspace.

Not to be left out, Dragonflame appeared to the port side of Aprico fleet’s flagship, the Cry’shad Radvana. A modern superdreadnaught, this was the pride of Aprico’s Third Aggressive Sales Fleet, one of the ships sent to demonstrate Aprico’s weapons technology to potential buyers. (They also gave a much more direct demonstration to the corporation’s enemies, when needed.) Ten pulse torpedoes from Dragonflame all concentrating on the same sector of the ship’s shields in flurry attack (each torpedo striking the same area one after another in rapid succession) changed that. The shields stood up to six. The seventh compromised the hull. The last three struck inside the ship, to cataclysmic results. Dragonflame was long gone before explosions turned Cry’shad Radvana to cloud of expanding gasses.

These weren’t new tactics. They were the same that Daddy had used in the war. As he was fond of quoting something he called the ‘Evil Overlord List’, “If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will not hold it in reserve. I will use it as early and often as possible.” Pulse torpedoes were those weapons. Other than relying on your shields to hold, there were only three known defenses against pulse torpedoes. The first was to, simply, be somewhere else. The second was to hit them with kinetic weapons, like a rail gun or missile. The third was to use a concentrated energy blast on an inverse frequency of the ‘bubble’ keeping the antimatter contained to release it prematurely.

The problem with this, of course, is time. Since pulse torpedoes travel at significant fractions of lightspeed, this means that once you’ve detected the launch, you have little to no time to react to the attack. It is the naval equivalent of asking a normal human to dodge a gunshot at ten paces without moving until after the gun is fired. It just isn’t possible. Your only hope is that you can either take the hit, or the other guy misses.

Traditional space battles are basically slugfests. Most navies bulk up on heavier ships, because they can have better shields, thicker armor, and more plentiful and powerful guns. Smaller ships, like corvettes and frigates, are thought to be relatively useless in normal battle, and are used primarily as screening elements, or detached patrols, hunting pirates or the like. A traditional corvette couldn’t hope to take down a heavy cruiser single-handedly.

Pulse torpedoes rendered that ‘logic’ moot. So Sanctuary ships favored lighter, more agile ships, that could maneuver quickly and deal devastating blows before escaping. The fact that we’d managed to cloak ships larger than a shuttle, which no one else in the Orion arm had done, was another point in favor of quick-attack ships.

The only reason we had superdreadnaughts at all was for intimidation, really. And because while Dragonflame could throw ten torpedoes at once, the Harbinger of Death could throw thirty-six, and follow up with rail guns and beam weapons. The Harbinger was a planet-killer.

While the Aprico fleet was trying to figure out what happened, and who was in command, Chimera’s second volley of missiles detonated inside the other five superdreadnaughts, killing two outright, and leaving the other three shattered wrecks drifting in space. When Void Traveler, Assassin, and Vengeance jumped in and attacked together, with Dragonflame and Gambit’s fighters flanking the Aprico fleet, the enemy broke, their command structure shattered. Some began firing wildly, hoping to hit us, even though we were already gone again. Others turned to try and head through the warp gate.

Honestly, we’d only killed or disabled only fifteen ships out of the fleet of fifty. If someone organized their defenses, and led this battle, they could easily beat us. But the leaders of this little ‘trade armada’ were all on the superdreadnaughts. With their leadership decapitated, and our ships not having taken losses, the Aprico ships were acting on fear and panic, instead of strategy. Their confusion doomed them.

A couple focused attack runs on the ships trying to flee the system, and twenty of the remaining twenty-eight ships, mostly frigates and what remained of the cruisers, fled with no organization towards the fifth planet. Seven of the remaining corvettes turned, and tried to form a screen for the last. They were going to sacrifice themselves to make sure word got out!

Musing to myself, I said, “There’s a solid captain in charge of that squadron. They may prove useful.” Indeed, the captain had maneuvered his squadron into a tight wedge, hoping to spend his ships as dearly as possible to buy time for the messenger. I looked over to Kyle, and said, “Let us see if we can’t disabuse them of their illusions. Please have Assassin deal with the runner. Once Destiny determines which of those ships is in command, give me a line.”

Moments later, the Assassin decloaked, and fired pulse torpedoes. With the messenger dead, I opened a channel to the commander of the corvette squadron, and requested his surrender.

It was only two hours from the first shots destroying the Thaolian First Fleet when the commander surrendered. It seemed Aprico managed to find a captain willing to spend lives for a goal, but who didn’t throw them away needlessly. I was liking this captain more already.


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Friday, December 2, 2016

Chapter 54 - Lithaes Village

I hadn’t bothered looking at it that much the last time I was here, but it was clear that Lithaes Village had seen better days. Better centuries, even. The only hint that a town once stood here were stone-walled buildings forming the core of the town, including what must have been a town hall, and a smithy. The only building that was reasonably intact was a shrine to the elven gods, so it seemed that the holy protections placed on the building hadn’t completely faded over the years. The roof of the shrine was damaged, and it hadn’t been cleaned in forever, but the walls were still solid, and the doors intact.

The farms the local townlands encompassed had gone back to nature, but one could still roughly see the area they’d encompassed, an area of grassy medows. It was past the fall Harvest season, and we’d made sure to bring a store of food with us to get us through the winter, so when the spring harvest came, we should be able to have food grown from our townlands. Looking over to Lexichan, I said, “Organize the farmers, and have them start clearing lands. Tell them that they are to work together for this first harvest to ensure we have enough food, but after the planting enough to ensure our survival, we will begin dividing the claims, and everyone will help clear the land. The hunters and woodsmen are to go into the forest, and gather game and wood so we can begin repairing the buildings we can, and building new ones. Make the smithy and a workshop the first priorities behind shelter. Tell the hunters to send word if they see any bandits or other potential problem creatures.”

Turning to Raunaeril as Lexichan moved off, I said, “Take your group, and explore the dungeons. I’ve sent you the map data we had from last time, but I want to know if there are any changes, or things I’ve missed. If anyone’s moved in, or if traps have reset themselves, that would be an unfortunate situation that we need to know about ahead of time.”

Next, I looked at my girls, Hrozne, and the drow slaves behind them. “Follow me. It is time we explored the keep in earnest. Iqnora, stay by my side. I’ll want to know your impressions of the building, and if anything has been changed since your time.”

As we approached the moat, Iqnora gasped, seeing the holes in the towers and walls encircling the keep. “These walls were made by the best craftsmen of the day. I’ve seen dragons fail to break them before.”

“Can they be repaired?”

“There was a quarry nearby, where the Greenstone came from. It has properties that make it resist magic and magical attacks, making it very useful for defensive measures.”

“I will see to getting the walls repaired once shelters are built for the people. What about this moat? I can feel a sense of unease just looking at it.”

“The water comes from the nearby lake, and the waterway is enchanted to be hostile to those not recognized by the artifact at the keep’s core. Once attuned to the artifact, the water is harmless, clear, and safe to drink, for you. Until then, it will act as a potent acid, or worse.”

“So the artifact will allow those I designate to cross freely, but keep enemies at bay. An incredible piece of work.”

“Much has been lost over the years. The ‘legendary’ or ‘artifact’ items of this day were merely masterworks of a bygone age.”

Nodding thoughtfully, I take a good look at the remains of the keep for the first time. For having been neglected as long as it was, the condition isn’t that bad. Most of the walls look to be standing, though it seems damage from a catapult or spell took out part of the upper floors. “

Together, we made our way into the heart of the keep. The place held little of its former glory, but sometimes you could see hints of the elven architecture, bits of stonework that hadn’t fallen into disrepair. But everywhere, there were signs of delicate carvings being chiseled away and defaced, formerly exquisite tapestries either burnt or allowed to molder and rot, and furniature that was all broken and rotten, if not missing entirely. The centuries had not been kind.

Trying to keep her eyes off the sad sight, Iqnora led us into the main hall. A huge hole at the far end marked where a catapult had made short work of a massive stained glass window. The stone still lay on a stone dais, now cracked and broken with the impact, the remains of whatever throne may have sat here crushed beneath it.

We moved behind the dais, and here Iqnora reached out to touch a stone emblazoned with a black rune. The stone glowed as her magic touched it. “I knew my time in the mortal realm was limited, so before the Terror came for me, I sealed away the castle’s treasuries and armory, to keep the artifacts out of the hands of those not worthy of them. The magic of this place is such that it hid the sealed areas from even magical searches. The control artifact was kept in the most secure vault.” As she spoke, stone shifted, dropping down to become a set of stairs leading beneath the floor. A hidden basement!

Iqnora led the way now, deactivating traps and other defenses as we passed through the stone corridors. I noted two large armories, and six lesser treasuries, running the length of the castle. If my internal map was correct, we were now almost directly underneath the entrance hall, and before us was a massive adamantine vault door. Iqnora uttered words of power, and a ward flashed in front of the door, before deactivating, and then the door slid open.

Inside was a storehouse of magic items, all of rare or higher grades, I was certain, but in the center was what to anyone from my world was immediately recognizable as desk-sized console, with a luxurious chair behind it. This would be the master interface for this castle, maybe even the whole territory!

Iqnora motioned me forward, and said, “Only the Master of the Castle, or those he dictates may use the console. I am no longer the Mistress of Lithaes Castle, and the magic knows this. Take your rightful seat, and we will have some idea about how much work there is left to do.”

I sat at the console, and placed one hand upon a marking that was clearly supposed to be a hand scanner.

Initializing…

New Owner detected!
Default parameters loaded.

It has been 1562 years, 6 months, 23 days, 8 hours, 12 minutes, and 54 seconds since last update.
Updating Status…

Building Interface

Lithaes Castle
HP
1233608/8500000
MP
900000/900000
HP Regen
0 per min
MP Regen
1 per min
Defense
345690/500000
Shield
0/1000000
24543 PP
303450 GP
15600 SP
125032 CP
Statistics
See building statistics by section or type.
Upgrades
Choose available upgrades to castle.
Settings
Current display and power management settings.
Status
View damaged areas, prioritize repairs.

Huh. So there was more to this than simply throwing rocks together, it seemed. Still, considering it had been over fifteen hundred years since the last time someone played with the interface, this place has held up nicely. Still had most of its defense (I guess that’s what the walls being mostly intact meant), but it was in bad shape, with around an eighth of its total HP remaining. The fact that this place had mana, and a shield, was very interesting, as well. But before I got into upgrades or repairs, I decided to check the settings.

Settings
Command Method
<Manual Interface>
Voice Command
Mental Command
Display Method
<Physical Screen>
Audio Relay
Mental Display
Access Settings
Access List
Edit Access
Remove Access
Shield Charge
ON
<OFF>
Auto-Repair
ON
<OFF>
Physical Defenses
Upgrade Required

Magical Defenses
Upgrade Required


I quickly changed the settings to allow Mental Commands and Mental Display. Those were a no-brainer. I was pleasantly surprised, though, that I could now access the building menu anywhere in the castle so long as I gave a mental prompt to bring it up. Looking at the shield charge and auto-repair, I wondered why they were turned off. Upon inspecting them, I found out:

Shield Charge – Recharges the Castle’s magical shield, to help protect it from attacks. The shield absorbs damage instead of the castle walls, providing an extra layer of defense. It also prevents some harmful spells and effects from entering the castle. It does not prevent enemies from entering the castle. Turning this option on reserves 100000 MP from the castle’s supply, and charges the shield at a rate of 1000 points per hour. Shield recharge is suppressed whenever the Owner or a designated representative is not present within castle boundaries.

Auto-Repair – Uses available materials to repair the physical structure of the castle, restoring lost HP and Defense. Must have a supply of the correct materials to begin repairs. Rate of repair is 1000 HP and 250 Defense per hour. Repair If used in conjunction with someone using an appropriate skill (Construction, Woodworking, Architecture), repair speed increases based on user’s skill rank. Turning this option on reserves 200000 MP from the castle’s supply. Auto-Repair is suppressed whenever the Owner or a designated representative is not present within castle boundaries, or when there is no available material to use for repairs.

That explained it. Since no owner was around to provide the commands to the console, the functions shut off. They used an ungodly amount of MP, and would take over a month for the shields to charge, and a helluvalot longer for the castle, if I didn’t find a way to speed it along. I might be able to upgrade that Auto-Repair function. Anyways, I turned them both on, reserving a full third of the castle’s mana supply. Best start things charging up early. While I was at it, I went ahead and added Lexichan and Iqnora as authorized users, though their permissions didn’t match mine. I designated Iqnora my Seneschal and Lexichan my ‘Heir-Designate’. Basically, if I got kicked out of the game somehow, Lexichan became the new owner.

Looking up at the others, I said, “We’re in business. There’s a lot of work to do, but I’ve started charging the defense shields and the auto-repair functions. If we can get proper materials to the castle, and craftsmen to speed the process, the castle will repair itself. I’ll have to play around with upgrades to see if there’s anything to speed that up.”

I looked around, and said, “For now, Della, you take the girls and find rooms for us to set up in until the residential areas of the castle are rebuilt. Then you may all pursue your own ends until dinner.”

When they left, I went back to the interface, and called up the Upgrades page.

Facility Upgrades
Name
Cost
Description
Advanced Auto-Repair
100000 GP
Auto-Repair increases speed to restore 1% of castle HP and Defense each hour, provided appropriate material is present, but eliminates worker bonus to speed.
Mist Workers
50000 GP
Unlocks Mist Worker ability. Registered users may summon Mist Workers to do physical, unskilled tasks around castle. Mist Workers cost 100 MP and last for 24 hours.
Mystic Forge
N/A
Upgrades the current Forge and Smithy to a Mystic Forge, allowing the processing of magical metals and materials. Allows advanced smithing techniques.
(Locked until Forge repaired.)
Alchemy Lab
2000 GP
Creates a basic Alchemy Lab, allowing the creation of potions and other alchemic works.
Magic Research Lab
N/A
Creates a lab suitable for magical research. Is an upgrade of the Enchanter’s Lab.
(Locked until Enchanter’s Lab repaired.)
Craftsman’s Workshop
N/A
Upgrades the Workshop to a Craftsman’s Workshop, giving +20% bonus to all general crafting skills (Woodworking, Sculpture, Painting, and so on).
(Locked until Workshop repaired.)
Library
500 GP
Creates a basic Library. Additional levels increases space. Books purchased separately.
Tailor/Leatherworker
1000 GP
Creates a Tailor/Leatherworker’s Shop. Allows crafting of Cloth and Leather goods.
Stables
1000 GP
Creates basic stables for up to 20 mounts.
Throne Room, Lv 3
N/A
Upgrades Throne Room to Level 3.
(Locked until Throne Room repaired.)
Living Quarters
Special
Creates residences, kitchens, dining halls, baths, and so on for castle residents and staff. Price depends on options selected.
Dungeons
Special
Creates a dungeon to keep prisoners secure. Price depends on options selected.
Training Hall
1000 GP
Constructs a Training Hall, suitable for weapons and magic training. Allows Class Trainer upgrade.
Dark Temple
20000 GP
Upgrades Dark Shrine to Dark Temple. +20% to all divine spells cast by Evil or Neutral characters. Additional +20% to all divine spells cast by worshipers of the Goddess venerated at the Temple (Currently: Sharess).

Area Upgrades
Locked until new features explored.

Townland Upgrades
Locked until townlands settled.

Defensive Upgrades
Area Scan
N/A
Provides detailed map of area, including enemy troop movements.
(Locked until Astrogatorium built.)
Veil
100000 GP
Creates a magical veil that hides the castle from view to anyone hostile to the Owner or the residents. Reserves 50000 MP from Castle stores.
Everfilling Well
100000 GP
Creates a magical well and cistern that constantly refills itself with clean, pure water.
Deathwater Moat
50000 GP
Moat becomes filled with Deathwater Poison, killing enemies that touch it. Useless against Undead or Constructs.
(Current Moat: Cursed Moat)
Acid Moat
5000 GP
Moat becomes filled with potent acid, dissolving everything except for earth (will affect allies as well). No effect on Earth-type creatures.
(Current Moat: Cursed Moat)
Flaming Moat
10000 GP
Moat becomes perpetually filled with flaming oil, doing damage to all who try to cross it. Smoke may impair vision.
(Current Moat: Cursed Moat)
Augmented Walls
N/A
Augments castle walls with various effects. Price based on options selected.
(Locked until Magical Research Lab built.)

Weapons Upgrades
Magic Ballista
1000 GP
Creates a magical ballista. Can be upgraded or enchanted for further effects. Ammunition costs 1 MP per shot from castle stores.
Magic Trebuchet
10000 GP
Creates a magical trebuchet. Can be upgraded or enchanted for further effects. Ammunition costs 10 MP per shot from castle stores.


“Well, fuck. What am I going to do first?”



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