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Fleshcrafting Technomancer 9 Raging Against the Dying of the Ligh

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Oskar Stenzel was a man of no virtue. In his youth, many dubbed him as an outstanding manager whose skills would bring his family to new heights...as far as commoners were concerned, of course. He found himself a gentle wife, pupped her with two lovely children, and replaced his father as the head manager of a metallurgic industry following his demise.

Alas, he contracted two diseases whose combination ruined all men under the vast blue sky: alcoholism and compulsive gambling. In less than three months, he lost all family assets, accrued a debt of 50 qraftas, and drove his family into the slums to escape organ removal.

Soon, he went from a loving father and stately gentlemen to an abusive freak soothing his sorrow in the beating of his wife.

Like everywhere else in the world, currency in Orloth was split into two: coins and banknotes. Bronze, silver and gold coins on the one hand, and qrafta on the other hand. But because one qrafta was worth one gold coin, it wasn't that accessible to commoners.

At first, Oskar considered coining himself out of his debts, tricking his creditors with fake coins. Alas, to say nothing of the metal supplies being monopolized by the aristocracy, even if he had the gold at hand, all state-produced coins and banknotes possessed an invisible, magical code engraved within. A simple check at any reputable institution would expose the fake. Using the slums to evade pursuit, Oskar managed to stay hidden for more than a decade, surviving on his wife's work and the coin earned by his son.

A pity that it wasn't enough. He needed a quick way back to wealth, and like all the unscrupulous, desperate iniquitous, could only rely on one thing: Organ Trading.

His relatives', of course. Lukas' presence prevented him from acting on the thought. But after three days of the brat's absence, Oskar received an irresistible offer from a mysterious slaver.

He sold his daughter, Tamara, to the slaver for 500 silver coins, and smashed his wailing wife's head open with a brick, ready to sell her organs to his other contact. Typically, only the nobility traded in gold coins or qrafta. Commoners settled for bronze and silver.

One gold coin was worth 100 silver coins, and one silver coin, 100 bronze coins. Five silver coins were enough to feed an average artisan family for a year. Oskar truly couldn't comprehend why his daughter was worth that much. Not that it mattered.

But as he counted his silver coins, stroking his unkempt beard with greed-glazed eyes, Oskar didn't expect a knocking sound to come from his door, stopping him mid count. His eyes contorted into a frown.

"It's 3 a.m. I don't have friends. No one knocks on a stranger's door at 3 a.m. without ill intent. Can't be the brat, slum houses don't have locks, and even if they did, he would have the key. Why knock?" Oskar reasoned. His hazel eyes shifted toward his wife's cold corpse that still lay right beside the wooden table.

Undoubtedly, trouble lay beyond that door. First, he pocketed his coin, moved toward the adjacent kitchen space, pulled out a scraped kitchen knife from a drawer, grabbed his brick in his left hand, and moved toward the door as silently as he could. For commoners, Ostria was a shithole run by a despotic viscount, the slums even worse.

Four gangs ran the area, one less scrupulous than the other. Oskar firmly believed that this was one of those "invitations to organ donation" that emptied houses overnight. He didn't plan to slay the invaders. As long as he could use surprise to open a road to escape, that was enough.

Back against the wall, Oskar made no move, awaiting the intruder's entrance. In loud wincing sounds, the door opened, revealing a cloaked figure that directly walked in. Without hesitation, Oskar struck!

A decade in this hellhole had taught him a lot on survival, the kitchen knife he swung at the invader's neck, while the brick he kept ready for a follow-up!

The knife met thin air, Oskar tripped, but before he could land on the ground, two white pairs of hands grabbed his shoulders, stabilizing him mid-air. Oskar's eyes went wide with fright.

"T...templar?" He instantly realized. Templars aside, who could move at such speed? When did he collide with such an existence?

"Dad, after three days of absence, I didn't expect the first thing you'd do would be to aim at my neck. How sorrowful." Kilian stated in a deadpan tone. Hearing this, Oskar regained his wits. He'd long expected that resourceful son of his to secretly be a templar trained by some secret cult. Therefore, hearing Lukas' voice, he inwardly quieted down.

With a spin, Oskar turned to face Kilian, and pulled off his hood, revealing a face that, in the dimly lit room, he didn't find that troubling.

"Lukas, it's you? It's really you! Across all those days, where the hell have you been? Do you know what happened in your absence? Your sister...your poor mother...aaaaah!" Oskar broke into tears and dropped on his knees, clutching at his face while letting the stench of blood direct Kilian to the corpse of Lukas' mother.

"M-my wife! My wife! Why weren't you there to protect her?! To protect them! N-now...they're gone! Gone!" Oskar's voice cracked, rejecting the fault of his incompetence onto others was quite typical of him. Therefore, those that barely knew the crook might have been tricked into believing this oscar performance.

Even Lukas would have been destabilized. Oskar counted on that. As long as Lukas floundered on his mother's corpse, he would sink the knife into his back! Alas, it was Kilian that now stood before him.

With four nimble steps, Kilian landed before the woman's carcass. For someone that spent a decade between an abusive husband and the anguish of Ostria's slums, she was quite beautiful. But even in her lifeless eyes, the weakness of her life remained.

"You killed yourself by being harebrained, and your son killed you by being indecisive," Kilian whispered. At that time, Oskar had already stepped closer toward him, keeping his knife at arm's length.

But as he awaited Kilian's filial moment, the boy spun, hoisted him into the air by the collar, and flashed him a gentle smile.

"Lukas asks me to give you one message," Kilian began, morphed his right hand into a claw, and plunged it into Oskar's chest, forcing his heart out of his back. For a short time, the heart still beat. Oskar, however, didn't have the same luck. His eyes remained wide open, and his lips stopped in an "O" shape.

Until death, he couldn't understand the root of this sudden change.

"Do not go gentle into that good night." Kilian's words echoed in the ramshackle house. The thought of drawing on Oskar's knowledge never once crossed his mind. Even the average Lesser Emissary was only worth 20 k.p. For this level of goods, there wasn't much difference between 30% and 100%. As for Lukas' sister, from Oskar's previous words, Lukas' request, and the clanging silver coins in the man's pockets, Kilian could already guess her fate.

She'd been sold to a slave trader.

Women taken from the slums typically had to go through all rounds of inspections, beautification, and "sanitization" before getting sold. Therefore, the slaver would first return to his headquarters.

There was no official slave agency within Ostria. With slavery being so mainstream and regulated, unless trading in noble slaves, no need for underground deals existed. The slaver was long gone, and Oskar, who spent the last decade in the slums, couldn't retrace him.

Dropping Oskar's heart, Killian pulled his arm out of his chest, and with the fallen man's own blood, drew an ouroboros sigil on his chest.

Theoretically, Kilian shouldn't have known the first thing about dra control and spellcasting. But after killing the seven cultists, broken bits of their knowledge flew into his mind.

This ouroboros sigil was the foundation of a simple hex that prevented the deceased's soul from ever finding peace, forcing it into perpetual self-torment. Cutting open his palm, Kilian dripped his fehl-tainted blood on the sigil, fueling it with the dra contained within. Red light surged from the blood marks, announcing the hex's completion.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!"

The wailing sounds of Oskar's departing soul soon echoed within Kilian's mind, and again, he felt that high.

Satisfied, he lay on a nearby bed and fell asleep.

His rest was short-lived, broken by the sudden appearance of a female form that stealthily straddled him, staring right into his sleeping face.


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