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474 The Compensation, Into The Dungeons of the Stone Fortress

 Day ▋▋ - ▋▋:▋▋ ▋▋ - Stone Fortress, Eastern Mountain, Spirit Dimension

The celebration was remarkably successful.

With most of the races being nocturnal, the celebration outside the fortress had yet to end. It was even though it was already past midnight. They did not party like how humans did. Most of then just gathered around, listening to stories told by the chiefs of their tribes. Sometimes, others would step up in the limelight to boast about their achievements. Although most of them were boisterous, it just made things livelier.

The smell of roasted animals glazed with their tribe's mix of spices spread everywhere. Some tribes even brought out the liquor exclusive to their tribes.

And to see those happy expressions that they had not seen for a while, Diwata Danaya was satisfied.

Everyone had been living on the edge these past days. And the appearance of that Giant could have pushed many to their limits. If that condition continued, the unity in this place would fall soon, even if the Giant was defeated.

Danaya could not let that happen. Fortunately, the leaders of the races had the same thought. The threat outside was already overwhelming. If a problem rose from inside, it would be much worse as everyone had nowhere to go.

Fortunately, the sudden interference of Bathala made this celebration possible. His appearance back then made everyone feel that at a pinch, someone might step out to save them. Although the possibility was very low, it would give everyone the hope they desperately needed.

While Diwata Danaya hovered above the fortress as she watched everyone, two figures appeared before her.

It was Mark and Mei, who were taking a midnight stroll. Because of the ongoing celebration, the Trade Area was still open. Thus, Mark and Mei decided to look around if there would be something that would catch their eye.

Mark and Mei had changed into a more discreet type of clothing compared to what they wore in the celebration. They even more masks. This way, most of the races that attended the speech this morning would not recognize them.

And sure enough, Mark had found some good things, especially materials for crafting and some magical weapons. Furthermore, since he traded with the small crystals with the attribute that the owner of the item could absorb, he got more than what he needed. Many traders there were honest ones, and Mark was glad to trade with them. As for the ones that wanted to take advantage after seeing what he used for trading, he did not bat an eyelid to their call.

"Good evening." Danaya greeted the two. "Are the two of you going back already?"

"We are."

Mark replied.

"Then, before you get back, I would like to thank you once more for being the center of the celebration."

Danaya said.

"Well, I can tell you that I will not do it again."

Mark frankly replied. He did not even hesitate to say that and made Danaya smile bitterly.

"I also wish that I would not happen again. Because if it did, it just meant that we met another disaster that we would not be able to handle while your group is staying here."

Danaya sighed. She did not want to give them any more trouble, mainly because they did not belong to this place at all. They were just guests that were checking on the state of the Stone fortress because of Felenia. Furthermore, after their unfinished business here, they would leave. It was not new to her that they had two more destinations.

"Have you prepared the compensation?" Mark asked. "Because I want to receive that as soon as possible. The most that we can stay here should be another day or two."

"That fast?"

Danaya asked.

"Don't forget. We came from the Mortal World. The more time we spend there, even more time passed there. By the few days that we stayed here, we don't even know how many days or weeks we already spent there."

Hearing that, Danaya could only agree. Both worlds were approaching the end of times. It was better if everyone could spend their time in the places they wanted to be.

"Then please, wait till tomorrow afternoon."

Danaya said with a bit of disappointment.

"What is with that expression?"

Mark asked as it was clear that the disappointment was not with his group leaving but something else he could not read.

"Actually, it was better if you could tell us what you wanted. We are having an absolutely hard time trying to think of what would satisfy you. As for the Brigands, we have some Tikbalang Slaves, but we doubt that they would be able to fetch the same value. There was also the reward for dealing with the situation in the Kingdom of Sylphs. You wanted the Giant's body, but with what happened, that deal was a total void."

Danaya complained earnestly. They would not be able to give him a satisfying reward if he did not tell want he wanted. Furthermore, with the gifts he received in the gathering this afternoon, it became harder for the representatives to think of what he would need.

Because of her earnest request, Mark decided to compromise a bit.

***

Day ▋▋ - ▋▋:▋▋ ▋▋ - Dungeons, Stone Fortress, Eastern Mountain, Spirit Dimension

Afternoon, the next day, Mark, Mei, and Aephelia were being led by Danaya and the General of the Stone Fortress, Merio. They were going into the dungeons of the fortress.

The number of Tikbalangs that they could trade for the Brigand did not match up. Furthermore, they were obviously weaker. Diwata Danaya and the representatives could not just capture innocent ones either was it was against their code.

Thus, Mark decided to release that restriction. Any race should be applicable as long as there were a few Tikbalangs with them. And of course, the only ones that could be given to him were the ones imprisoned for different crimes in the dungeon.

Still, Mark was worried about how he would be able to restrain them. After all, unlike the Tikbalangs, the other races did not have that three golden hairs on their heads.

And because of that question, Danaya smiled.

Apparently, they have three ways to address that. Or else, no prison would be able to hold these races because of their superhuman abilities.

First was the most unreliable of the three methods. It was a Magical Restraining Shackle that would limit their magical and physical prowess. The shackle could be worn on either the arm or the ankle, depending on the race. However, as it limited their strength, it was not suitable to make them do manual labor. Furthermore, the daring ones might slip and cut off the limb that had the shackle. After all, only one could be attached to a person.

Attaching one to each limb would render them useless.

The second was engraving a crest on their bodies. This magical crest was connected to the master of the slave. If they disobeyed the master's orders, it would inflict massive pain on their bodies. This was the suggested method by Diwata Danaya.

It was because even though the third option was the best kind, it was the hardest to achieve either.

Among these three methods they use on the prisoners, Mark had never heard of the first three. According to Danaya, the spirits in the Mortal World hid these things as they could be exploited by people. It was because the two methods could also work on people, although the second one was severely weakened. It was because the crest was reacting to the magical energy in the body of the slave. Humans that did not have magic could barely feel it.

As for the third method, Mark had heard it before in some legends. It was to make to learn the True Name of the slave. Once a person knew the True Name of the slave, there was no way for the slave to disobey the master.

According to Danaya, everyone had a True Name, not only Spirit Races but also humans, animals, and insects. It was the name that originated from their souls. However, the inhabitants of the Mortal World had no way of knowing these names. They did not even know their own True Name.

To the citizens of the Spirit Dimension, however, it was a normal thing since birth. Since when they were born, they already had their True Names in their minds. They absolutely cherished it as it meant their lifetime freedom.

Last night, Mark asked the Spirits and Elementals in this group. And they all replied positively. They knew their True Names. Amihan even claimed that she would tell Mark hers if he wanted.

Of course, Mark declined. Amihan was a precious comrade and was not a puppet. Knowing the True Name of an individual, a person could treat them as a doll or puppet to be manipulated. It was fine if it was an enemy or an untrustable individual. However, it was a no go for the likes of Amihan and the others.

Right now, they entered the dungeons to show Mark the Tikabalangs they had. Furthermore, he could also choose among the other races being imprisoned here. And apparently, what made Mark quite interested, was the fact that they had some Demonic Races being held in the dungeons.

Thee Demonic Races were being held deeper in the dungeons and that was why Mark did not encounter them when he trashed the Brigands. Of course, he could feel them. Compared to the Spirits and Elementals, they had quite a disturbing emotional energies.

Some were not that intelligent at all. They were just filled with rage and violence.

First were the Tikbalangs.

Inside the large cell, there were eight Tikbalangs. All of them had a Magical Shackle on their right arm. They were imprisoned here because of their crimes. Of course, their crimes were not as heavy as the Brigands. That was why Mark was fine with them even though all of them did not even reach half of the strength of the weakest among the Brigands.

Six of them were guilty of theft. Apparently, they tried to steal some things in the Trade Area and were caught. To humans, that might not be a big deal, and some would reach an agreement before it reached imprisonment. Here, however, theft as a crime that was punishable by Banishment.

They would not be able to return to their tribe, and they would be forbidden to enter the place where they committed the crime. This was mostly the cause of the appearance of wanderers in the Spirit World. However, it was not a heavy punishment considering that they would be able to stay alive.

But...

If they were Banished right now, they would surely die. That was why even though the cell was cramped, they chose to stay in prison than being banished. Furthermore, although not that filling, the food was free either.

These brats were being freeloaders.

That was the complaint Danaya said about this group, considering that four of them were juvenile Tikbalangs. They resorted to theft because their families died because of the outbreak and they had no ability or courage to go out of the Forest of Illusions to hunt for food.

Still, seeing them being behaved, Mark nodded. Among them, only one had a heavier crime and that was the oldest. Apparently, a member of another tribe tried to capture his Anggitay daughter for indecent purposes. Thus, he killed them without hesitation. However, as it happened here in the fortress, he was subjected to the law.

Actually, both parties would be punished in this. But with the whole opposing party being all dead, he was the only one imprisoned here while the daughter in question was currently under Danaya's protection.

Mark was quite satisfied with this group of Tikabalangs. Of course, their strength was far from enough. But for him, it was not an issue. He could just cultivate them to become even stronger than those Brigands.

Of course, these eight were still not enough in terms of value. That was why after checking them out and being introduced as their master, Mark's group went to check the other cells.