chapter 270 – back from patrol part 1

‘The Civilised Races’ is a term often bandied about casually in scholarship, yet many people remain ignorant of it’s true meaning and origins. The lines that become drawn between the races are often no so clear cut as ‘these races are civilised, therefore safe, and these are not’. The so called ‘Civilised’ are just as prone to greed, violence and short sighted action as the creatures of the Dungeon at times, as history as proven many times.

Others simply don’t understand the lines drawn between those races who existed before the Descent of the System (often referred to as ‘The First Born’) and those who came after (somewhat derogatorily referred to as ‘The New Blood’).

Only allowed on

Before the Time of Rending, mana began to infuse the surface, giving rise to magic and many other wonders. At the same time that mana concentrated in certain places and within some things, a process that only accelerated as the Dungeon opened and the surface became flooded with mana at levels that have never been seen again.

This mana injection changed the surface of Pangera forever, not only due to the monsters that devastated its surface but also by giving rise to new races, such as the Bruanchii, a race of sentient tree like creatures that appeared from a single tree in the southern wilds. Or the Brathian, the aquatic creatures who developed from Lake Bratha after it become flooded with mana during the Rending when a Dungeon opening connected to the Lake.

The Elder races have not always welcomed these newcomers peacefully and when the Dungeon monsters receded, a new wave of conflict began when Old Blood began to mix with New. Eventually peace was established and cooperation began. After all, the System does not recognise the ‘Civilised Races’ as monsters, therefore it would be unnatural to fight against each other, at least that is what the Church of the Path has always preached. Others, such as the Sophos, were not so lucky. Branded as monsters by the system they were first excluded and then hunted, causing them to conceal their underground settlements and withdraw from contact with those they had fought beside during the Rending.

Excerpt from ‘Ruminating on the Races’ by scholar Fuandri’ll of the Kaarmodo.


Myrrin was exhausted. Her body ached from top to toe and she had a sneaking suspicion one of those toes was broken. The mental fatigue may have been the worst of it. She hadn’t slept in what felt like three days. Why the hell did she let herself get talked into this rubbish?

“Donnelan, remind me why I let you talk me into this rubbish?” she asked irritably.

Her equally exhausted yet strangely animated fellow legionary turned back to her and she swore she could see the light of madness dancing in his eyes.

“After two weeks on the Bulwark, you want to spend our precious leave sleeping?! I am going to eat and drink until I’m sick, then do it again!” he declared and continued threading his way through the crowd.

Mirryn had to admit the idea held some appeal. The things she’d seen, done and been made to understand since her baptism had obliterated her understanding of how the world worked.

Only now did she understand what an underdeveloped and ignored pocket of the world Liria truly had been.

The trainees hadn’t been given any time to question or absorb their new circumstances before being thrown into gruelling training. The commander himself tirelessly drilled them. Two days of practice in the living rock suits known as Abyssal armour and they had been thrown into live combat patrols. Three days after that and they’d been broken up and sent to various forts that formed part of the ‘Bulwark’, the network of defences that locked a bubble of Dungeon off from the lower levels.

“Time you find out the sort of the thing the Legion really does down here” the commander had informed them gruffly, and find out they had. He’d taken the group on an extended tour of the Bulwark, inspecting the forts and dropping the trainees off as they went.

Deep down, Mirryn had always felt as if she were tough, as if she were made of stern stuff. Nothing like the commander obviously, but still, tough. The Legionaries she had met at her fort were so damn tough she felt they didn’t need Abyssal Armour at all, the monsters would snap in half when they tried to bite them.

She’d reported to her new Centurion on arrival, a grizzled veteran named Tannar, and been shocked at the man’s age. If he was a day under sixty she’d have been shocked. Thin and wiry, the tendons in his neck plain to see, Tannar had very quickly eliminated any concerns about age from her mind.

The man fought like an angry bear and sounded like one too. His Legionaries hung of every word that came of out his mouth and Mirryn learned rapidly to do the same. This man knew the business of killing monsters and business was good.

Too good.

If the wave above had been brutal, down here in the second strata it was worse. Each fort was tasked with locking down one tunnel, preventing monsters from coming up and going down. Shorthanded and undersupplied, the Legionaries fought for hours on end, every day. When they couldn’t stand up anymore they were rotated off to rest until they could, then it was back out in the thick of it.

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Mirryn hadn’t even taken off her suit the entire time she was out there.

She was also made to see some of the other measures the Legion had been forced to in order to hold the line.

She grimaced.

“Did you have any irregulars at your fort Donnelan?” she asked.

He paused for a moment as he pushed through the crowd, before starting up again.

“I see a bar over there, come on” he muttered grimly, pulling her across the street.

The two of them parted the curtain that hung across the front of the establishment, like most buildings in Railleh it was shaped out of the stone, creating a dark and cool atmosphere inside. Glowstones dotted the walls and roof providing a soft illumination that revealed a crowded bar area, with tables and booths towards the back.

Behind the bar a massive figure stood, a Golgarin, one of the stone people. His thick hands moved with surprising grace as he poured drinks and fetched glasses for his clientele. Barely pausing to take the scene in, Donnelan quickly stepped towards the bar and slapped down a coin, flashing it at owner, who nodded towards them as finished serving his current customer.

“I guess we know what those prisoners were for now eh?” the mage forced out a laugh as he played with the coin in his fingers.

“The what?” Mirryn asked, leaning onto the stone bar next to him.

“The prisoners” he repeated, staring at her. When she continued to stare back blankly he continued, “remember? When we came down here to Railleh the Legion brought a bunch of killers and criminals down with us? Where did you think the Irregulars came from?”

Her eyes widened with understanding. “Oh.”

Donnelan grunted. “Right, oh.”

As the massive bartender made his way over Donnelan ordered two tall glasses of ‘something with kick’ and paid the man.

As the huge figure with skin that looked like solid rock poured out the drinks Mirryn wasn’t sure she felt about the Irregulars. They had certainly helped in the fighting. Not as strong as a full Legionary, but stronger than most normal people. Now she knew where they came from, she didn’t know if it was right or wrong.

The criminals had been sentenced to death, and in most ways they had died, as humans anyway. She’d seen the Irregulars, seen them eat. She certainly wouldn’t call them people. That was what happened when a person eats Biomass.

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