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I woke with a massive head ache, and there was a body lying next to me. There was strange looking creature standing over us. Around me it looked like a deep crevasse in the roughs. As my head cleared I asked the creature "Where am I?, and Who or what are your?"

It said I am a Cryptic and you can call me Fractal. You are in the Chasms on the shattered plains. Then it asked me "whzy dos I feel az if you aren relatedz to Taldar mynz bond matez?"

I looked at it and replied "I am not sure what the shattered plains are but where I am from I am considered an Identity mirror. It is kind of like being a living hemalugic spike except I copy personalities to my metalmind of people I come into contact with then I weave parts of that Identity into myself." 

I continued "You can call me quicksilver. I must have come in contact with this Taldar while he was alive and before his journey lead to this final destination"

Out of nowhere I heard or felt something say your oath is accepted. Suddenly I felt an infusion of power and my headache vanished as well as many other minor pains. I also felt a flood of knowledge about what Taldar had known of these new abilities. I seemed to suddenly have as well, an understanding of who and what Fractal was. I filled the Pewter and Gold minds I had gained access to when I mirrored some other ferings Identities with the surge of power I felt.

Once I gathered anything useful I looked at Fractal and said I guess we should get moving since I don't think we are safe down here. Then with pewter aided strength and filling Iron climbed to the plateau. Looking around I said to Fractal "where to from here?"

Edited by BenduLuke
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It took almost a day to reach the war camps and I was tired, hungry, and thirsty. I didn't have the first idea what they used for money, but I figured that the gem stones might be worth something. As I entered the market I saw people exchanging small glowing gems for products.

I turned to Fractal and asked "why do those gems glow?"

It said "the stormlight inn yourz haz beeenn uzed up or the gemz you founnd onn Taldar would glow toooo. You were very confuzed wheenn you found uz and I couldn't wake Taldar theenn he died."

So I asked it, "how did it get used up, Did it leak out?"

"No Taldar uzed it up fightinng fuzed before it mortally injured him or he might have lived." It replied.

Before I could ask another question some fancy dressed dandy collided with me. He glared yelling something and demanded some kind of satisfaction. For a few moments I stared blankly at him because I couldn't understand word one that he said. I could understand Fractal but that might have something to do with us being tied together in some way. Then seemingly out of thin air the man held a massive sword and he swung it at me.  I reflexively burned aluminum and raised my hand to catch the blade. In the roughs I had learned that I could nullify the abilities of someone burning metals if I came in contact with them and that sword sure looked like some invested ability. Things didn't quite go the way I expected. I felt the blade bite into my hand then time seemed to freeze for me. There was a surge of power flowing from a gem in the swords hilt through the sword. The sword seemed to have some kind of Identity and it also seemed to remember another Identity from long ago. Part of that identity was searing pain at the loss of connection to the old bonded Identity. I instinctively channeled the bonded Identity filling one of my minds with it then weaving it into my identity while channeling the power from the gem into another mind until the gem shattered from the loss of light breaking the connection to the man holding the sword. Some of that captured light flowed into me to heal the minor cut I got from the blade then I was holding the screaming sword hilt. I took the pain from the swords Identity and filled a third mind sealing it off,

While I, Fractal, and the man stood their stunned I sensed the sword tell me it was called harvest. Then the sword disappeared and standing next to me was plant lady made up of vines. Wide eyed the man and those with him ran like Ruin was on his tail.

Edited by BenduLuke
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Growing up as a seemingly powerless Skaa in the roughs I learned to navigate the underworld and to defend myself.

I quickly located a pair of sia and infused my dunn spheres from some of the stormlight in my metal mind to make the purchase. Following Fractal's direction I soul cast the sai into reinforced Aluminum. I replaced my tattered clothing then sought out somewhere to get a bite to eat and drink.

By habit in the pub I listened to the discussions around me, and I learned that the place to be would be somewhere called Urithiru. To get there either I had to convince a caravan to take me across the plains, which would take days, or travel via radiant through one of the "gates?".

Once we left the pub we threaded our way through the alleys toward the gate and through the market square to see how it worked.

Harvest asked me as we traveled, I remember being broken for a long time, how did you fix me, and why do you seem familiar?"

I responded, "I absorbed you and your friends identities and filtered yours back to you without that soul wrenching pain, and then I wove aspects of your friends Identity into mine."

"So some of him became part of you and that is why I feel like I know you?" She asked.

"Yes."

"And you kept my pain?" she continued.

"No. I stored your the pain from your Identity in a metalmind, and later I may find an appropriate time or place to release it either all at once or over time."

About then we entered the Market Square and wouldn't you know it there was the Dandy with a pair of guards. He pointed at me saying "that's the one who stole my sword!" They immediately started after me at a run from across the square.  So I turned toward another alley away from them. I was tired, and they had been rested. They were very athletic and knew the camp better than I did so it wasn't long before they started gaining on me. Also in their favor was that they had buddies showing up along my route trying to intercept me. I guess, I thought, unintentionally freeing a magic sword could get someone into a bit of trouble with the authorities.

Harvest whispered to me "use the light and become slippery".

"Slippery" I said.

So tapping the light I started skating down the path, and up on walls, and around corners streaming light behind me. Soon I was grinning and laughing like a mad man. Even when a guard reached out to grab me I slipped through his fingers. Next thing I knew we were at the gate and had left our pursuers behind. I slid onto the platform just as one of the radiants engaged it. Snap, pop and we were somewhere else.

Several people and the Radiant looked at me and she said "where did you come from?"

"I just came from the market square. Is this Urithiru?" I asked.

She nodded her head then said, "I thought I knew all the edge dancers, are you new?"

"You could say that I just met Harvest a couple hours ago though I have known Fractal for a couple of days." I answered.

Puzzled she asked, "Harvest? Fractal?"

"Yeah" I responded. "Fractal was Tovar's Spren before he died a couple of days ago, and Harvest was a sword with a gem in her hilt until a couple of hours ago."

Grinning she said "I can see that your story might be as colorful as one of Lyft's. Let's find someplace to get you situated then we can talk."

Edited by BenduLuke
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I picked a room high up in the tower and settled my very few possessions there then followed the woman to an eating hall.

Once we were situated she asked me where I was from. I told her that I was from the roughs, but that it doesn't seem to be on this world. She asked me about my history and I told her how as a child, the son of a bastard feruchemist who didn't seem to have any metalic abilities, I was picked on and bullied. One of my aunts gave me a very valuble aluminum ring when I reached my teens, and I found that I could put my pain, frustration, or anything else that made me feel bad in it. It wasn't until later that I realize that I could also store good things as well. I discovered that I could put things away to deal with at a later time or to use when I needed some extra emotional support. It wasn't until my late teens that I realize my other ability. Someone shot me with an aluminum bullet and I instinctively burned it so it didn't need to be removed. They used aluminum in case I was an undiscovered coin shot or lurcher. For a few minutes everything and everyone I touched gave me a reflection of who they were, and which I could store in my Aluminum ring and then later weave at will into my own identity temporarily.

Because I was bullied I worked hard to learn to defend myself from attacks, and because of my social position I ended up engaged in some shady business, which was the reason someone shot me. Aluminum, though most people don't realize it, burns slow, never the less from that point on, and if I could get it even though expensive, I insisted on payment in aluminum.

I started almost constantly burning aluminum especially around people whose allamantic or feruchemical abilities I was interested in, but before mirroring them I would obtain a small amount of the metal that they used. The metal never quite worked as well for me as it did for the one I mirrored. I was also able to access the feruchemists metal minds by weaving some of their identity into myself. I quickly found that I needed to keep a firm grip on my own identity, so that I wouldn't get lost in the mirror identities, until I could incorporate parts of those Identities permanently into myself. Over time by weaving mirrored parts of other's Identities I acquired access to most metal arts. It was this mirroring ability that I used to heal Harvest and to initiate a bond with Fractal.

So she asked me "you have a bond with two spren?"

"In a manor of speaking yes", I told her.

Edited by BenduLuke
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From there we went to the monastery to have my martial skills tested. Though I could summon shardblades weird things happened to invested objects in my bare hands so instead I used the sai I purchased. As a precaution I also put on a pair of gloves to limit unintentional skin contact. To test my baseline skills I was denied stormlight, though the radiant abilities were still very new to me. Even with our precautions after several minutes with each partner I began to instinctively mirror the monks skills, incorporating their combat styles into my own identity.

While we were practicing one of the light weavers arrived and they paired me with him. It became apparent very quickly that he was tapping stormlight for speed, strength and healing. He was also bending the light to confuse his position. I smiled tapping the light that I stored earlier in my metal mind, and some metal reserves for increased abilities. Then I warped the light around us limiting his perceptions of me. Using my new sound and light abilities, I assaulted his equilibrium until he surrendered the match. Then just for fun I mimicked his appearance and mannerisms for a few moments afterward, to confuse and amuse the gathered crowd.

Edited by BenduLuke
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For a few moments Talen, my dustbringer host, laughed and said "we need to introduce you to Shallan, to see if you fit with her crew once she returns, because you have real talent."

"For now though let's call it a day."

I went off to my quarters, and the next morning I arose early to search for metals, or stormlight, with which to soulcast metals.

My metal arts had developed in fits and starts. At first I would mirror people unintentionally, so even when I mirrored a feruchemical ability and an allomancy ability based on the same metal, because they usually came from different people, I couldn't generate a resonance between them. In addition eventually the Identities I mirrored to gain abilities would fade or evaporate and I would need to start all over again to acquire them. In time I realized that both problems had the same root, which was the foreign Identity, and if I wanted to retain the abilities as well as create resonances between them, I couldn't just mirror Identities. I had to weave parts of them into my own Identity, and discovering what parts to weave in took allot of time, forcus, and effort on my part, as well as calculated mirroring. 

You could say my metal arts developed piecemeal. I never had full power use of the mirrored abilities from any one source, be it metalic arts or other abilities. Only after mirroring and weaving abilities from perhaps a dozen individuals did the ability seem to approach full strength, and resonances were still a major challenge to create, except with my native aluminum. I would spend hours even days practicing a new skill or ability to weave it into my Identity permanently. Usually before an ability could be woven in I had to use metals at near a savant producing level or beyond, and without the benefit of developing savant level abilities.

Well to be at my best I needed to acquire, one way or another, some metals to use for burning and minds since, I lost most of mine in transition. In addition I needed to get on with developing these new abilities, before they might begin to fade.

Once I left the market, with some of the metals I searched for, I made my way to the Lightweavers barracks because they seemed to most closely match my own native talents, and might provide a challenging outlet for them.

Edited by BenduLuke
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I spent hours working out each day with the light weavers, edge dancers and Truth watchers practicing and honing my new abilities and skills.

After several days while practicing with Shallon she asked me "Why don't you summon a shard bladed, you seem to have the potential?"

I told her "I don't want to take the risk of injuring either Harvest or Fractal unintentionally."

Then she said "I need you to do something for me."

"Ok, just ask" I responded.

She continued "I need you to travel on a covert scouting mission to Talus on the coast. While you are there mix with the locals and bring me back any information you can on the Ghostbloods."

I narrowed my eyes and said "they have a presence here? It's trying to escape from them that brought me here."

She waited nodding while I gathered myself, and I continued "Is there anything in particular you want me to watch for?"

She answered "pay particular attention to their organization, and the connections they are cultivating with other people and or groups. Travel using mundane means as you work your way to Talus, to help you covertly insert yourself there."

Edited by BenduLuke
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I spent the day gathering equipment and supplies. I also covertly drained stormlight from nearby spheres, then stored it in Nicrosil bands woven into my new bracers. I mirrored the identities of several merchants, and wove them into parts of other merchants I had mirrored in the past, to quickly adapt to the specifics of commerce on this world. I also slowly built a lightweave that gave me a non de-script but familiar appearance, so that I was easily forgettable. When I interacted with individuals or groups, I would leave the impression in the moment that I seemed seemed familiar. I reinforce those impressions by projecting those emotional waves around me. Even though I was carrying a respectable amount of spheres, my projections and weaves caused would be trouble makers, who may have wanted what I had, to avoid me, or even overlook me.

Once I was supplied and equipped, I inserted myself into a caravan headed down the valley out of the mountains and westward toward Yeddaw, then on to Berizhet, and finally to Talus on the coast of Steen. on the trip I carefully used my skills to maintain order and to divert trouble both inside the company and out. Bandits who approached us suddenly felt it was to much trouble, or to dangerous, or any number of excuses, so they avoided us. Troublemakers, and those less than honest within the group, found it easier to use their energies to speed our journey and contribute to our overall well being. While those honest travelers found the travel encouraging and invigorating even when it became difficult due to weather, terrain, or some other factor beyond our control.

I also used my abilities to make our trip generally profitable. I was careful to limit my own profits, so that again I only seemed to be some unremarkable merchant in the group, and also limited my direct interactions within the group to avoid undo notice.

Edited by BenduLuke
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Very interesting. Be careful of RoW spoilers; I’m not sure if we’re allowed to put them in this forum.

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On 12/22/2020 at 7:28 PM, Kingsdaughter613 said:

Very interesting. Be careful of RoW spoilers; I’m not sure if we’re allowed to put them in this forum.

I am trying to avoid most main narratives and characters in the books and I am taking liberties with the magic systems. I see a pattern with aluminum in that the only kind of active investiture it seems to have is Identity so I extrapolated that it functions by absorbing and burning away the identity of metals in allomancy and absorbs the identity of the power in the case of hemalugy thereby making it inaccessible. I further speculated that an aluminum twin while burning aluminum may be able to mirror any identity they come in contact with and might act as a living hemalurgic spike if pierced by invested items perhaps even mirroring the identity of anyone in contact with the piercing object.

What did you find interesting?

What spoilers do you think I might be approaching?

Thanks for commenting

Edited by BenduLuke
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In the market square I set up a booth with various textiles such as clothing, utensils, and dishes. I also carried a selection of liquids, and durable travel food like spirits, oils,nuts and some spices. I had used the textiles covertly to improve my soulcasting skills as we traveled and had increased their value of material in the process.

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A stocky woman in 3rd don light eye fashion approached my stand puzzling over some the dishes on display.

Sir she said "I don't think I have seen plates and cups like those before. What are they made of?"

I replied "They are of a fine new material called porcelain who's manufacture is a secret."

She said "they are so white and shiny I want to have them. How much for them?"

"2 saphire brohms", I told her.

She paid me. Soon word spread that I had novel, and unique items for sale, and a brisk trade followed.

Edited by BenduLuke
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As people came to my booth I carefully breathed in small amounts of stormlight from their spheres and from passers by. So as not to start glowing I stored it into my metal minds immediately. I also covertly stored material identity mirrors whenever I got the chance to come in contact, for use in soulcasting.

That evening I packed up and went to the inn I was staying at with the company, where I had made inquiries into more permanent lodgings. The hostler took me aside when I arrived and said he had a lead on a place just outside of town. We went a little north of town to a small cottage and met the owner. After some negotiation we agreed on a price and the place was mine to use.

In the privacy of my new cottage I set myself to my unique metal art. In my bracer I left a blank aluminum mind. I filled that mind with a nicrosil identity then I transferred the stormlight into the nicrosil identity band. I layered the identities so that the aluminum, which I could always burn and invest by reflex, acted like the metal which identity I stored in it for me. It took me years of practice to learn to do that, and required utmost concentration during the process. It also cost me aluminum and stormlight to accomplish. Once the nicrosil band was clear I used stormlight to soulcast it into an aluminum blank into which I stored the identity of the next metal band in line, steel, and layered on its stored attribute, speed. When I finished this process with the interwoven bands in my bracers it was hours later, I was low on stormlight, very tired, and my metal minds were locked in a way that no identity lock could achieve, while being very accessible to me. After filling my layered metalminds by burning metals I went to bed.

 I got up early the next morning. Got ready. Then I went to the market for more buying, selling, information, and stormlight gathering.

It was near mid day when a man dressed in dark armor and brimming with filled spheres walked by. Perhaps I should have been much more cautious. I didn't take anymore stormlight from him than I had from others, but he noticed. Fortunately I reflexively store investiture immediately. So when he spun angrily and accused me of taking stormlight from him I didn't glow at all.

At the outcry he made guards rushed in from all around. The lead guard took charge and asked the armored man what the problem was. Where upon he accused me of stealing stormlight from his spheres. Then the guard questioned and inspected me, my booth, and my possessions and told the man he couldn't find any evidence of fowl play.

The Man turned red, gritted his teeth, and looked down for a count of ten. It was only just be fore he finished that I and the guards noticed that he was holding his hand out next to his leg.

The double edged, gem hilt-ted sword slashed up towards me in a lightning quick strike. I burned feruchemical steel just avoiding him slicing through my elbow, but not entirely avoiding the slash across my forearm. The steel I was burning was from one of my newly created aluminum minds, and something strange happened. Because I was moving so fast time seemed to drag out, almost like I was in a moving personal bend bubble. I heard the same kind of scream from his sword as I had from Harvest. Since I was actually burning aluminum, I instinctively latched onto the identities of the fixed gem in the hilt, the shadow identity of the knight, the swords identity, and channeled all the stormlight from his gems into my bracer including the stormlight from the gem hilt breaking it. In a blink there was a bright flash, the sword vanished, and I appeared to topple as if struck by his hand. The guards seized him pulling him away from me.

When the nearest guard turned to me, he found himself staring at one of my aluminum sia.

He asked, "are you all right sir?"

"I think", I responded, "he tried to attack us with some kind of stormlight illusion. I guess the aluminum in my sia dispelled it."

Edited by BenduLuke
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4 hours ago, BenduLuke said:

As people came to my booth I carefully breathed in small amounts of stormlight from their spheres and from passers by. So as not to start glowing I stored it into my metal minds immediately. I also covertly stored material identity mirrors whenever I got the chance to come in contact, for use in soulcasting.

That evening I packed up and went to the inn I was staying at with the company, where I had made inquiries into more permanent lodgings. The hostler took me aside when I arrived and said he had a lead on a place just outside of town. We went a little north of town to a small cottage and met the owner. After some negotiation we agreed on a price and the place was mine to use.

In the privacy of my new cottage I set myself to my unique metal art. In my bracer I left a blank aluminum mind. I filled that mind with a nicrosil identity then I transferred the stormlight into the nicrosil identity band. I layered the identities so that the aluminum, which I could always burn and invest by reflex, acted like the metal which identity I stored in it for me. It took me years of practice to learn to do that, and required utmost concentration during the process. It also cost me aluminum and stormlight to accomplish. Once the nicrosil band was clear I used stormlight to soulcast it into an aluminum blank into which I stored the identity of the next metal band in line, steel, and layered on its stored attribute, speed. When I finished this process with the interwoven bands in my bracers it was hours later, I was low on stormlight, very tired, and my metal minds were locked in a way that no identity lock could achieve, while being very accessible to me. After filling my layered metalminds by burning metals I went to bed.

 I got up early the next morning. Got ready. Then I went to the market for more buying, selling, information, and stormlight gathering.

It was near mid day when a man dressed in dark armor and brimming with filled spheres walked by. Perhaps I should have been much more cautious. I didn't take anymore stormlight from him than I had from others, but he noticed. Fortunately I reflexively store investiture immediately. So when he spun angrily and accused me of taking stormlight from him I didn't glow at all.

At the outcry he made guards rushed in from all around. The lead guard took charge and asked the armored man what the problem was. Where upon he accused me of stealing stormlight from his spheres. Then the guard questioned and inspected me, my booth, and my possessions and told the man he couldn't find any evidence of fowl play.

The Man turned red, gritted his teeth, and looked down for a count of ten. It was only just be fore he finished that I and the guards noticed that he was holding his hand out next to his leg.

The double edged, gem hilt-ted sword slashed up towards me in a lightning quick strike. I burned feruchemical steel just avoiding him slicing through my elbow, but not entirely avoiding the slash across my forearm. The steel I was burning was from one of my newly created aluminum minds, and something strange happened. Because I was moving so fast time seemed to drag out, almost like I was in a moving personal bend bubble. I heard the same kind of scream from his sword as I had from Harvest. Since I was actually burning aluminum, I instinctively latched onto the identities of the fixed gem in the hilt, the shadow identity of the knight, the swords identity, and channeled all the stormlight from his gems into my bracer including the stormlight from the gem hilt breaking it. In a blink there was a bright flash, the sword vanished, and I appeared to topple as if struck by his hand. The guards seized him pulling him away from me.

When the nearest guard turned to me, he found himself staring at one of my aluminum sia.

He asked, "are you all right sir?"

"I think", I responded, "he tried to attack us with some kind of stormlight illusion. I guess the aluminum in my sia dispelled it."

Nice! This is much easier to read, thanks!

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On 12/30/2020 at 5:39 PM, Kingsdaughter613 said:

Nice! This is much easier to read, thanks!

thanks for your continued input. It wasn't the input I was looking for, but it certainly was input I needed.

I am certainly grateful since the main reason I am attempting a fan fic is for critical input.

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4 minutes ago, BenduLuke said:

thanks for your continued input. It wasn't the input I was looking for, but it certainly was input I needed.

I am certainly grateful since the main reason I am attempting a fan fic is for critical input.

That’s generally my reason for publishing my work too. Glad it helped!

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Posted (edited)

The guard captain considered me for a moment and said, "that makes some sense; I'll have my eye on you". Then he grinned, winked and walked away.

One of the other guards whispered to me, that they were looking for a reason to take the man into custody; he was a consistent troublemaker, especially since he carried a Shardblade.

At the end of the day, I went to my cottage. In a few minutes I was settled: I brought forth the shadow identity of the radiant; I acquired earlier that day, and wove it into my own identity. I also released all but the pain from the Spren identity within the prepared mind. In front of me in the air a sparkling presence materialized. She said she was call a Reacher and her name was Lumina. In a few short minutes the other Spren explained who I was, why; she was free of pain, and familiar with me. I swore to her that I would always seek to free the captive as I had her.

She started teaching me to mold stone including metals. She explained that she could enable me to transition to Shadesmar; it would be very dangerous for me at this time, so I opted to wait on that training. Instead I began soulcasting steel and shaping it into gears, cylinders, handles, and other firearm parts to assemble: It was time consuming, detailed, precise work. From the parts I assembled two pistols, and soulcast the outer surfaces into aluminum.  Then I molded stone into cartridges, and bullets; soulcasting them into brass and aluminum respecively. Finally I soulcast chemicals for propellant, mixed them, filled the cartridges, and set the bullets until i was once again running low on stormlight.

Edited by BenduLuke
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Over the next week, I continued to siphon stormlight, and use it to make more cartridges. In the evenings I also shaped stone into pottery, cookware, cutlery, plates, cups, goblets, and all kinds of kitchen ware. I would soulcast my shaped items into various materials to sell at market. To cover what I was doing I shaped a kiln, forge, and tools which I built a workshop around.

My father was a craftsman in the roughs specializing in pottery. When I was a boy, that gave me the opportunity to interact with other crafters, and to work in my fathers workshop. I learned from them the basics of carpentry, pottery, and smithing, and I always had an eye for design. Being able to mold stone and choose materials opened up avenues of creativity for me, but as I completed my workshop I increasingly used my tools instead of surges to produce items. More and more I used my surges to make templates, and molds for my items instead of the items themselves.

In the market I would trade until I sold out, but each day I had more inventory. At the end of the second week my daily inventory had grown, and out of area traders began coming more often just to trade with me. Early one morning a man came to my booth inspecting my goods. After examining several items he said "we have been watching you".

"Really", I replied with a smile.

He continued, "we've been wondering where you get your items?"

"That's easy", I said, "I make them".

"But you never take any deliveries of raw materials", he said, "why is that".

I answered him, "then your watchers must not be paying close attention, or you would know the answer to your question".

Continuing I told him that I got my materials from around the area. That I used nearby clay, and extracted minerals from the soil and rocks, which was why many of my items were often unique. At that point he called me a liar, and accused me of having the material smuggled in. Laughing I told him that if I was working with smugglers either their watchers were very poor, or my smugglers were very good, since they never saw anything.

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He glared at me; motioned thugs out of the crowd with his hand; speaking in a low tone he said, "your going to introduce us to your suppliers".

Looking around I saw that I was surrounded, and not a guard in sight, I said, "alright I'll pack my inventory, and we'll wait back at my workshop".

As we left the market, I saw the terrified expressions on the merchants, and knew there would be no help for me there. I was escorted back to my cottage by half a dozen thugs, each heavily armed. They took my sia from the sleeve scabbards I carried them in, without realizing that my bracers were weapons as well. He sent the thug with my sia into the workshop ahead of me. As soon as I crossed the thresh hold I tapped steel; slammed and barred the door; clubbed the thug and retrieved my sia; then tapped stormlight. I slid into shadesmar for the first time, ran back to where my cottage was located and slid back inside, then barred its door while i retrieved my pistols and ammunition and threw them into my pack.

Just before I slipped back into shadesmar to make my escape I heard a voice yell "Kari, stop and clear out".

The man, Kari, answered "this is none of your business Ander".

"It's my business if I want it to be", Ander responded.

There was the brief sound of fighting outside then the man Ander called out to me, "come out, I want to talk with you".

I would have run except that he said it from outside my cottage door not my workshop door. Changing my mind I quickly loaded my pistols and stuck them in my belt in behind my back under my jacket. I unbolted the door and stepped outside to a scene of dead eyed thugs on the ground before my workshop door. Ander was standing open handed, looking at me appraisingly a few feet away.

 

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He grinned and said "I hoped you would come out". Then he approached me with open hands. Still grinning he said "I am not sure when or how you created a tunnel from you shop to your house. We thought we kept you under close surveillance, but when you barred the door behind you, I knew you must have some other way out. it only made sense that you had a way back to your house."

"How long have you been watching me" I asked.

Ander responded, "ever since that day Jet confronted you in the market. We could use a person like you who can get things without revealing his sources".

"What kind of things are you looking for?" I asked.

Answering he said, "we can talk about that another time, after we get to know each other better". Then he turned and walked back up the path back toward town.

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I returned to the market and purchased tanned leather, metal buckles, and leather crafting tools. When I returned home I crafted a two gun holster and ammunition belt. I soulcast the buckles into hardened aluminum alloy. I made ammunition boxes lined in aluminum alloy to attach to the belt, and to conceal the cartridges. I had underestimated how quickly the local underworld would approach me, so I determined to go out fully armed from then on.

When I returned to my market booth the next day I was greeted by nearby merchants with surprise and relief. One of the local inn keepers stopped by to purchase some of my wares to replace some dishes broken in a fights and accidents recently. I asked him to bring the broken and damaged pieces to me, instead of throwing them out, and I would give him a discount on future purchases. I traded other merchants for cloth bolts and continued the practice of siphoning small amounts of stormlight from the crowds. At the end of the day I returned home with my new goods.

Instead of returning to the market the following day I worked on expanding my workshop into a store, with stone shelves, counters, and walls molded from the local stone.

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I continued to maintain my booth in the market while I worked on my shop expansion. I thought about what Ander and his group might want from me. Did he really think I was having items and materials smuggled in? Was Ander a means of gathering intelligence on the Ghostbloods or was he just a local underworld leader? I knew he was in some kind of covert leadership position. Other merchants seemed to be surprised that I returned unharmed. I wondered how Ander had killed all those after me? I had held myself apart from the other merchants to avoid inadvertently revealing to much about myself. It seemed that if I was to get answers; I needed to expand my circle. I was able to remain separated until now, because I was obviously busy establishing myself. I also had to consider that because I was an outsider I might never fully fit in or be accepted.

While I sat pondering my situation in my booth I cut and tailored the fabric into simple, and durable clothing. I was making a long coat like a duster when Jansen, a merchant a few stalls down, approached me.

He looked at what I was sewing and said, "that's starting to take shape; is that some kind of coat? I ain't never seen any coat like that before".

"Coats like this are common where I come from", I replied.

I smiled and said, "I could make you one if you like".

"I don't know", Jansen answered, "I think I'll wait and see how it looks on you first".

"tother day we'all thought we'd seen tha last of you", he continued. "But then you came back like nothin happened and the didn't return."

"Well", I said, "it seems they crossed someone else who interceded on my behalf during our negotiation". "It doesn't look like Kari and his buddies will be a problem from now on."

"Did you or any of the others have a problem with them?"

He answered, "nothin that a few spheres didn't solve after our first meeting with'em".

Nodding I asked, "now that Kari's left, will there be other collectors coming around?"

Jansen replied, "Oh yeah, I spect so. Kari was only low level. They's others used for collection too".

"Then it sounds to me like we need to get together with some of the others, to discuss forming a cooperative, so we can renegotiate the collectors tariffs." I said.

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Jansen nodded, grinning and said, "perhaps our first meeting should be tonight".

"Meet you at the tavern after I put things away tonight', I replied.

He walked away chuckling; intermittently shaking and nodding his head.

A few minute later I spotted a man in the crowd approaching my booth. He looked at me without recognition, but I knew he was one of those who kidnapped me, and he was with Ander confirming my suspicion of Ander's affiliation.

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