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Laonin walked through the Alleycity. Since becoming both literally homeless and one of the Homeless, he had been looking for a suitable place to claim for his own. He had come across many people in this strange place, from the DA to TUBA to any other number of other Homeless. He tried to mind his own business for the most part, as getting involved only seemed to end in death and despair. He hadn't been here long but for the time that he had, he had heard rumors of a great war which had happened in the past that threatened this entire place. A war which it still seemed to be recovering from. He passed ruined buildings, people huddled in corners, and others who rushed from place to place, either needing to be somewhere or needing to be away from somewhere else. There were of course many powerful people in this city. They went about their business, doing important things in important places with important people. Running around waving magic circles in the air, or shining bright with some inner light, or getting into fights with other people. Of course when fights between powerful people happened, those around without power seemed to suffer even more. Most of the people in this place seemed more concerned with trying to spike unsuspecting travelers with sweet delights, or trying to stop the people doing that, or creating strife between guilds. That isn't to say there weren't people out there trying to serve the greater good. There was at least one hospital set up that he had seen, but the care that had been given to most residents of the Alleycity was lacking in his opinion. Buildings had been left in rubble, people without homes. Countless dead caused by power hungry people with no care for the common folk. As far as Laonin could tell there was no central government to this city, and that meant there was no one keeping chaos in check, or rebuilding what had been lost here. He walked up to a ruined building he had been studying for several weeks. It seemed as though during the 7 day war it had been destroyed by flying rubble from an explosion in the distance. He had explored as much of it as he could get to, and had asked the few remaining denizens of this area for as much detail as they could remember. He pulled out his toolkit and set to work once again, carving into soulstone. He would restore this building, and hopefully with it at his disposal he could continue to restore the ruined parts of this city to their former glory. He took the soulstamp he had been working on for weeks, now finally finished, and pressed it to the cornerstone. The seal sunk into the stone, and he could almost feel the building trying to determine if his work was good enough for it to allow the change to happen. Suddenly the ruined building before him was replaced with a sturdy, well kept forge. "Well, that took long enough," Laonin muttered, "I should have just tried telling the darned thing the explosion missed it in the first place. Of course it still wanted to be in working order!" Wiping his hand on his pants, Laonin walked through the now intact doorway, surveying what he saw before him. The building seemed well built of course, one of the reasons he had chosen it in the first place. Something that had been created well was all the more likely to want to return to the vision its maker had had for it in the first place. He walked over to the anvil, and was pleased to see that the rust which had previously been coating its surface was now gone. It seemed it had considered itself a part of this place, and when the roof had repaired itself, came to the conclusion that the rains wouldn't have been able to reach it. It was a decently sized room, with lots of hooks and shelves on the walls for tools and equipment. Most of those were missing, either destroyed or looted by people trying to scrounge for valuables. That suited him just fine, he preferred to use his own tools anyway. Now to get himself situated. ----- A sharp ringing sound echoed out the front door, almost like the beating of a heart, a sign that this place had come back to life, and once again its blood was pumping. Laonin stood over the anvil, beating a hunk of metal with his hammer, forcing the impurities out of it. He did this for the time it took for the metal to start cooling and then shoved it back in the forge to heat up again, piling more charcoal on it. While it heated he perused the room, taking in the changes he had made to it the last few weeks. He had moved all of his belongings in, meager as they were, and the place had an almost homey feel to it. He had of course been concerned that the building would relapse into rubble, but after the first night passed without incident came to the conclusion that he had been correct in his assessment that the building wanted to return to its intended purpose. He had since been refitting his tools, as they had been through some tough wear and tear since his last chance to repair them. He had also been making good use of one of his soulcasters, converting some nearby rubble into iron with which to forge. Some would argue he could have simply soulcast it into steel directly, and cut out the purifying process, but he never really trusted a fabrial to do what he could do on his own. He trusted his own hands. Thankfully there was still a supply of charcoal in the back room, as it had been blocked off previously from looters by the rubble. He didn't quite have the skill with a soulcaster to create coal. Plus he had heard that excessive use of soulcasters could have ill effect on the nerves, so he tried to avoid it as much as he could. Which meant he would need to find a way to keep his metal supplies stocked. Something for a different day, he concluded, as he retrieved the now glowing metal from the forge and continued to hammer it into steel. After several hours of hard labor, Laonin cleaned and hung his tools on the wall, and put the forge to rest, to be reawakened tomorrow. He then ate some dinner in the sparse living quarters on the second floor, and set out, toolbox in hand. He had found his next renovation project, a tall building which seemed to have been crushed by something large, given the enormous footprint left nearby. While most of the building was destroyed, the first floor was relatively intact, and housed several families of people who had nowhere else to go. He spent the remainder of his day inspecting the building for damage, taking note of anything and everything that could affect structural integrity once it was repaired. Thankfully there seemed to be some records of what this building had looked like before its destruction, which made his task a whole lot easier. As he was working a rugged looking woman approached him. "What are you doing?" she asked, looking at Laonin making measurements and writing down notes on a sketch pad. "I'm trying to determine how easy this mess will be to clean up. This building used to be able to house a dozen families comfortably, near as I can tell. Now there's a handful lying about in the dirt, and with the holes in the walls it can't be much warmer in here that out there anyway." Laonin replied. The woman looked surprised for a moment. "You mean you're going to rebuild this. Where will we stay when you tear it down? Do you know how few buildings there are with even this much room? Why not build somewhere else that won't disrupt those few living here, and let us be." she said turning away. "I don't intend to tear it down, I'm simply going to fix it where it stands. And seeing as how there doesn't seem to be anyone barging in with deeds of ownership, you'll be first in line to claim housing once it's done." The woman stopped and turned back toward Laonin, a flicker of hope in her eyes. "Really? You're really going to fix it? Why would you do that?" she said, a hint of suspicion in her voice. Despite the hope she felt, her life had been hard enough to know no one would do something like this without a reason. "In my opinion, this place has seen enough power hungry men to last an eternity. I figured someone needed to step up and fix the damage they've caused. I know one man can't fix everything. But even if I only help one person, then that's good enough for me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to continue with my work." he said, turning back to the wall. The woman looked at him for another moment, the flicker in her eyes warming to an ember in her chest. She turned and went to talk with a group huddled nearby. Some didn't react but the rest watched this dwarf of a man continue to work. Not knowing what to do, they continued doing what they had been, surviving. After doing a preliminary assessment of the building, Laonin headed home. Strange, he thought, only a short time here and I already think of it as home. Have I really been so desperate for some stability? Arriving back at the forge he let himself in, and locked the door. He climbed the stairs to his small bedroom, and after changing, lay down in bed. He let out a deep sigh. Tonight he would sleep well. He finally had a goal, and the means to see it through. Turning onto his side, he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. --------
Chapter 1 The Awakening Pain. That was the first sign that he was alive, well other than his breathing. His head hurt as if someone had hit him in the head with a particularly large hammer. Though on second thought that would have been impossible as his skull would have been cracked and- time to move on. He opened his eye and immediately regretted the action. Sunlight made his eye hurt and his head ache more that it already did. He groaned and sat up. Who am I? he though. A name bubbled up into his mind. Sahin. That is who I am. No last name surfaced. He sighed. Apparently he didn't own a last name. Bother he would jsut have to come up with one on his own. Then something occurred to him, stopping all thoughts. He reached up and touched his face, specifically where his other eye would have been. Sahin instead touched a pointed metal spike. He reached to yank it out but reconsidered as a small inside voice spoke to him. That is your life line pal. it said. When doing so he noticed and odd symbol tattooed to the back of his palm. Three interlocking diamonds. Another memory stirred bringing up another word. Ghostbloods A voice interrupted his thoughts. "So your back?" The voice said. "Almighty help us all that you have returned. What fate has in store you I wonder." He looked to the speaker and noted his odd looking body which seemed to be make up of some odd insects. These bugs solidified into a man. "Was I really that bad?" Sahin asked. "You don't remember?" "My memory is a bit hazy at the moment." "That must be due to the Hemalurgy degrading process." The man muttered. "What?" Sahin puzzled. "Nothing, nothing. I am interested in what part you will play." The man burst into the insects he saw before. He opened his mouth to say something then closed it as he watched the creatures scuttle away. Disregarding the strange conversation with the bug man, Sahin turned his attention back to himself. He wore a tattered set of clothes and a matching ripped cloak. A broken mask lay in pieces not to far away. Must have been mine he deduced as he could only see one eye hole from the pieces before him. He wore a belt with little holders for glass vials. There were a few that were still full and unbroken. Though he did not unstop one to drink it. "Well," He said to himself. "Time to get off this wretched barren island." With that he started to walk with no particiular destination in mind. He just knew he he had to get off this forsaken island if he wanted to live. Little did he know, Sahin Vandre was really Solace First. A deadly assassin, a scheming mastermind, and evil to the core.