A gigantic portal opened near the stalactites on the ceiling like the gaping maw of some primordial beast. Waves of dimensional radiation baptized Merlins soul-body directly, causing the violet streaks to glow more prominently.

A flickering bright light at the end of that tunneling seemed to be aggressively closing all chances he had of transmigrating successfully.

”Siubhal Luath ” he incanted, teleporting direct in front of the tunnels exit.

”It seems the longer I stay exposed to this radiation, the denser my soul-body becomes. But I cannot gamble with my life. Into the breeeeeeach. ” With all of the grace of duck spinning in a lake, Merlin pierced through the dimensional barrier at the end of the tunnel and entered into pure darkness.

Deep within the mines of Azorp the Tormented, fifty slaves and a ex-slave overseer relentlessly plundered the near dead corpse of a demon for low grade mana stones. This was delicate work and the sweltering heat and creeping darkness at the heart of this mine demoralized the men.

”Its as hot as a sand hippos balls on a summer day down here, can we get a reprieve Overseer Freeman, ” one of the miners instigated.

” Yeah, if it were any less ventilated down here, wed be in the vacuum of space boss, ” another one cracked.

”Alright heckle and jekyl, you know if we don meet this quota, my pay gets docked, yet again, and u guys get five lashes each, yet again, ” Isaiah Freeman sighed. He knew they were doing the best in these hot and cramped quarters.

”And Freemans wife lashes him ten times in private. Yet again, ” the budding comedian continued. Of course none of the miners stopped working as they were cracking wise at their once slave companion. They delicately tapped their darkstone chisels with their iron hammers. The tunnel ”walls ” were encrusted with somewhat brittle low-grade mana stone and it was their job to tease out the biggest pieces they could.

The mana stones were a common blue threaded with bloodred capillaries that spoke to the organic origins of these materials. Origins seldom discussed as they seemed to agitate and attract the remnant souls of Azrop.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, these miners plied their trade five kilometers deep into the Azorp Mountain Range. They were debt slaves who went too far speculating at Jameson Arena and now have this inglorious asterisk next to their trade.

Freeman was born into his fathers debt and later cleared it; securing this ”plush ” job supervising these rascals was the highlight of his career. But it was said in Lord Brandons desert territory that to be a miner one must either be a debt slave or simply desperate. While the prices for low-grade mana stones were high, the death rate in the industry was higher.

If asked why he pursued this line of work after gaining his freedom, Isaiah would tell you that its all he knew. Hed missed the prime training age to join Lord Brandons armed forces, and had no money or patience to pay for an apprenticeship in another field. Therefore he accepted this inglorious promotion and made sure his old crew could extract itself from the bowels of this tormented demonic mountain range.

”Azorp and his shiny green demons didn see this ending coming did they Freeman ” quipped one of the crew.

”Foresee his corpse turning into a renewable mining resource for his greatest enemy Lady Mary Jameson, no I don think so. ”

Really Isaiah didn fault the tormented soul: he was an alien demon who came from beyond the void. He knew nothing of Lady Mary Jamesons stellar martial prowess and accomplishments. Simply put Lady Mary was, and still is, one the most powerful warlords this side of the Unknowable Peaks.

”Enough of the taboo…, ” Isaiah trailed off, entranced by a flickering white light that suddenly appeared a few meters inside of the mana stone deposit they were mining.

*CRASH*

The mana deposit inexplicably shattered into perfect ten centimeter pentagonal mana stones.

”Holy space cows tits, I think the hand of god has made an appearance boys! ” A heavy-set sweaty miner shouted.

” Alright, alright fellas lets collect the loot and depart. That old ghost Azorp will show if we continue this little stand-up special yall are putting on, ” Isaiah called out.

As the others were collecting the heaven sent stones, he covertly made his way to the area he last saw the blinking white light. After perfunctorily collecting mana stones along the way, he made it to the general area and started searching, soon finding the cause of their great fortune.

It was a tiny ten centimeter high alabaster figurine of a boy, in the fetal position, encased in mana stone. It had electric blue eyes, dazzling silver hair, and two pointy golden horns. Isaiah quickly tucked this figurine into his utility belt pocket.

*inaudible whispers* *inaudible whispers*

”Lets get the hell out boys, we got a remnant soul incoming! ” Isaiah shouted, partly out of concern, partly distracting the crew from his find of the century.

Though they only picked up 1/3 of the mana stones, the crew did not lollygag. Soul remnants abounded these tunnels and would drive men to suicide and worse. Lord Brandon apparently did not care to clear out the pieces of the shattered soul of Azorp, partly due to population control issues, partly because it ruin the renewable nature of the mine.

The men teared up as they cinched their utility belts to the grappling lines they left at the entrance to the tunnel. If they would be have been able to collect the full deposit they would be free men in the morning. But among other things, Azorps wandering remnant souls would crush into dust any mana stones they came across.

”Swallow those tears and engage those grappling lines, we
e headed to the surface ” Isaiah gave the command and the crew followed suit. They absconded with nearly 90 kg of raw low grade mana stones. And little did they know that their overseer made out with a partially reincarnated sorcerer.

”…it is the answer to our prayers Isaiah. The gods have brought you this idol as a test ”

”I don know Dolores, those freaky mages love stuff like this. Im sure I can get a good price. ”

Merlin awoke to a domestic dispute; music to his partially reincarnated ears. All of his 5 senses were offline, however he was able to use his well developed soul sense to get a clue as to what his situation was.

The room seemed to be part of a semi-sphere living complex. It was crafted with enchanted steel, one of the worst magical materials Merlins had the privilege of using. He seemed to be placed on the one window sill this room had.

My new family doesn seem to be in the money. He doesn even seem to have Robert Freeman money, let alone Morgan Freeman money, Merlin thought.

He quickly grasped the particulars of their argument. This buffoon wants to sell me and the other genius wants to worship me, he snidely remarked internally.

” We haven been able to get pregnant and the gods have sent us a fertility idol to assist us not make us wealthy. Besides those mages would sooner rob and kill us than pay us, ” Dolores shouted, exasperated by her husbands greed.

”I know a guy who works as a go-between for these kinds of situations, so would you please stop with the superstitious nonsense ”

”STOP ”

The Freemans stopped. Dolores immediately prostrated herself while Isaiah slowly reached for his old iron hammer.

”If your hand inches any closer to the hammer, I will turn you into a cat, ” Merlin bluffed. His only powers at this point related to the sensory soul sense he displayed and a minor telekinetic ability he discovered was available.

”What do you want almighty God ”

”Woman, Im no idol and I won have you turn me into a false one. Such blasphemy steps on the pride of beings Im in no condition of fighting ” Merlin stated.

It was true, stepping on someones faith territory without paying your dues is a one way ticket to the underworld. Their underworld.

”However Im generous, if you two agree to shelter me and acquire some materials for my revival, Im willing to solve your fertility issues. I swear on the name of my mother Gaia ”

The Freemans gave each other an stupefied look and finally came to the conclusion that their lives were in this strange figurines hands.

Dolores stepped forward and proclaimed ”If you keep that oath, we will hold our end of the bargain ”

”Dolores at least negotiate- ”

”You want to try your luck tomcat? ”

Isaiah decided against trying his luck, although he was curious about one point, ”Why did you swear on your mothers name and not your own? ”

” Ah that. Thats an old sorcerers convention when making solemn oaths. When a sorcerer swears on his mothers life, you know they
e serious ” Merlin bullshitted. Of course he didn want to share his true name with these strangers and have that circulate before he could even regain his old powers.

”What should we call you then? ”

”Im the Grand Sorcerer…Tristan ”

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