Moroch was born in the year 1518 in the Dunan Province of Creston. Born to middle-class parents, Moroch enjoyed a fairly privileged upbringing, his father a preeminent authority on the relatively new and controversial practice of alchemy. During this time, however, the current ideological struggle of Creston and many of the southeastern regions involved the question of whether alchemy was a science worth pursuing.
Almost paradoxically, many modern nations had become increasingly secular and however unfairly or not, research was largely discouraged as well, leaps of logic and faith alike on equal footing. This is not to say that the citizens were content to remain in the past; having acquired a taste for the many conveniences afforded by even rudimentary forms of sanitation, cleanliness and progressive thought, there was little sense in trying to disrupt or stop that immovable force.
What existed then was more of a healthy skepticism or perhaps, more fittingly, almost a zero-tolerance for weaker or unproven schools of thought: there had been no new breakthroughs in the realm of alchemy in almost half a century. There were presently very few legitimate uses, many of them confined primarily to warfare or deceit, still nowhere near as effective as a decent piece of steel.
While no one could rightly claim to entirely and coherently justify their unabashed hatred for certain scientific pursuits, the prevailing thought was that there had to be some precedent for it—such a bias could not have simply or spontaneously arisen. Creston was not a forerunner in terms of large-scale cultural diffusion or progression, merely and quietly adopting the various grudges, praises and misgivings of their neighbors, especially Anondend to the west.
The nationwide opinion had shifted after all, loosening slightly the once-tight grip on scholarly pursuits. They had branched out nearly a century or so earlier, trying out new areas of knowledge and expertise: astronomy, seismology, geomancy and ultimately alchemy, pending the experiments and discoveries of the venerable alchemist Utolstalrich of Phernt (a colony of Blosk.)
Moroch was a precocious and highly intelligent adolescent, having eagerly absorbed nearly a lifetime's worth of knowledge from his father already, learning at a young age how to produce many tinctures, poisons and even incendiaries. As a young boy, Moroch was weak, clumsy and uncoordinated and what he lacked in athleticism, he attempted to make up in ingenuity.
In 1532, The Border War erupted between Anondend, Creston and Anondend's own northern rebellion forces. This war had been thrown to Creston with little warning or preparation: northern forces had been overtly and for many months using various mountain passes connecting Anondend and Creston as a means to wage war against southern Anondend. Upon crossing into Creston, they were able to navigate more favorably the immediate lowlands and find, after a night or two, direct passage into southern Anondend.
It was primarily Anondendian pressure that drove the Crestonians to action; they were content to turn a blind eye and in many cases even knowingly watch as the rebels seeped into their country and out again. Creston had firmly splintered into two dominant factions: those who wanted to break away from what was perceived as an unbalanced relationship with Anondend, and those who felt that the country as a whole was simply too young to be weaned from the teat. It was this healthy mixture of opposing viewpoints that left Creston paralyzed as its delicately-constructed roads, passes and watchtowers were ceded to rebel control—another country's rebels, even.
Despite their attempts to remain neutral and faced with increasing Anondendian pressure, Creston soon 'inherited' the ongoing fight, dispatching its dozen battalions to its northwestern border to route the rebels. Anondend cautiously observed, stationing the bulk of its troops north of its own capital, supplying only apprehensively a specialized team or two in favor of Creston.
Moroch, meanwhile, one of Creston's thousands of expendable youth, grew to resent the increasing insistence of his parents that he follow in either of their footsteps, wanting instead, in the heightened military tension of the age, to join his peers in bloody combat. Despite his attempts to hide his own intelligence, Moroch consistently scored beyond his peers and increasingly developed his alchemy skills.
He was torn; on one hand, any particular poison he could synthesize would render paralyzed, at least, any given rebel soldier, or to even greater effect, he could blow any of them to bits with a well-placed lob of a sparctite bomb. On the other hand, in an area suddenly dominated by war, the bulk of his skills would go unnoticed. Who, among the leaders screaming death and destruction, would listen to the advice of a young, chicken-legged wimp, who could neither throw or take a punch?
As the fighting spilled into several nearby Creston villages, Moroch gathered up his supplies and impulsively ran away from home, joining a group of non state-sanctioned militiamen who had congregated on the border of one of Creston's few 'cities', Balemange. This particular force had hoped desperately and without any particularly strong leadership, to ward off an invading force of nearly five hundred, unbeknownst to them.
With the enemy rebellion force looming nearby, Moroch entered the camp, immediately accosted by a Crestonian soldier who advised him, in quite colorful language, to gear up. Having no idea what to do, and having given little thought to what would happen when he arrived, Moroch quickly entered an unoccupied tent, face-to-face for the first time, with a sword, shield, cuirass and helmet.
Realizing immediately that he had no idea how to 'gear up', and not even sure if he wielded the necessary strength to even hold the sword, let alone swing it, Moroch realized that he had made a terrible mistake in coming there. In typical teenage fashion, he elected to follow up the one impulsive decision with another, deciding then and there, that he would begin brewing a 'concoction' that he hoped would turn the tides of battle and, moreover, show everyone exactly what he was capable of.
He hadn't been taught this recipe, but had instead found it written down in his father's journal. The process as described and carefully followed, would result in a liquid that could then be applied to any random stone or pebble, causing it to explode with devastating force upon contact with the ground or ideally, the head of an enemy soldier. The recipe was deceptively simple, requiring nothing particularly exotic beyond the materials he already possessed.
Luckily, with the other soldiers scrambling and occupied, Moroch was able to remain undetected and unquestioned during the initial setup, and within twenty minutes had nearly finalized the liquid, using the helmet as a bucket in which the strange goop simmered. He still needed one crucial ingredient with which to finish the mixture, something so simple and innocuous that he had, in his hastened determination, realized that he might not be able to find easily.
This crucial ingredient was merely a thimbleful of water. While it was likely that water had been stored somewhere in the camp, he preferred not to mill around, as to avoid attracting the attention of others. He peeked out from the tent, finding the coast completely clear. Armed with a beaker, he began to sprint southwards, remembering the stream he had passed along the way.
Unfortunately, Moroch had overlooked a crucial step in his father's instructions, namely, the step that required water as the very first ingredient as to neutralize the mixture's volatility, a quantity that had slowly been building since he had left the camp. He had barely filled the beaker when the explosion rang out, leveling the entire camp and killing the 30 or so Crestonian militiamen instantly. The blast was so violent that it launched him into the stream himself, despite being several hundred yards away from the camp.
As he thrashed about in the water, he realized that he had, in fact, forgotten that critical neutralizing step and he was solely to blame for having obliterated the entire allied force. If he had realized then that their small and pathetic 'defense' would have been wiped out regardless, it might have granted him some small comfort. Presently, however, as he dragged himself to the shore, he could think only of the devastation that he had unleashed: he, the weak and pathetic Moroch.
Westward Ho! Edit
Moroch's mind raced, a terrifying and new thought entering the fray every second or so, the most prominent idea being that he should get as far away from there as possible. No one would believe anything that he could possibly say regarding the incident, and he wondered, as he rose to his feet, what the rebel forces would think when they stumbled upon what was surely now just a smoldering hole. They had expected the Crestonians to be inept, but destroying one's own army was a new tactic altogether, even to the more veteran among them.
Moroch escaped into Anondend, but this was simply not far west enough. He continued through the battered country, staying where he could, eating what he could find, starting to eventually hear whisperings of the 'crater' near Balemange, the general mood of such conversations being one of amusement and merriment, often punctuated by a hearty chuckle.
Moroch reached the western border of Anondend, traveling alongside a friendly merchant convoy that took him further south towards The White Marsh in exchange for news regarding Creston. While he left out obvious details, he told them everything he could think of before they deposited him safely on the boggy shores of the largest natural hazard in Onich.
With no discernible way to cross, having neither money to rent a greil or foolishness to venture through without, he had resigned himself to eternal vagrancy. Luckily for him, he was able to eventually hitch a ride with another group of travelers, a Crestonian family even, having much the same idea as himself, if not the colorful past. They informed Moroch that Balemange had fallen to rebel forces, and he tried to convince himself that he had no role to play in that.
The journey took nearly a month, as they had taken a different, but far-safer route through the swamp. Upon arriving on the other side, they continued further north into the port town of Drovian. He decided that this was far enough, the concerns of these people infinitely removed from the affairs of Creston, Anondend, and the eastern nations altogether.
Moroch abandoned all aspirations of alchemy and found work as a dock loader and unloader. For the next few years, he was content to remain there, eventually developing close friendships with a number of his co-workers and establishing himself firmly as a hard and dedicated employee.
He began to learn of the various dealings between Drovian and the neighboring coastal towns, finding eventually that Drovian had massively increased its intake of certain rare (at least on the eastern side of Onich) alchemical reagents. To the untrained eye, these were harmless materials; to Moroch, on the other hand, these were the specific materials one would use to develop a bomb, almost exactly in recipe to the one he had mistakenly unleashed some years ago.
The event came rushing back to him despite his most valiant efforts to forget, and he began to panic. There was no possible way that those materials, in those quantities and orderings, could be used for any other purpose. Curious, Moroch began to investigate the identity of the recipient of those ingredients, eventually tracking the shipments to a large house in the Drovian commercial district.
He attempted to discover more about the reason for the ingredients, but was rebuffed upon knocking on the door. He mentions that alchemical knowledge is rare in this region, especially at the skill level required to properly handle such delicate materials. He further posits that he doubts that the occupants of the house have the required skills necessary to do so.
At that moment, he is yanked into the house and thrown onto the floor, noting that the 'house' actually seems to contain an assembly line of sorts, manned by three or four workers, all of whom stop to watch the ensuing tussle. Moroch attempts to stand up, but is kicked in the stomach before he can do so. He is fiercely interrogated, the aggressor demanding to know who sent him there and why.
Moroch responds that he is simply a concerned citizen and asks to merely go about his business, promising not to say anything. They debate openly whether they should kill him or not, the tension broken finally when one of the workers recognizes Moroch from the docks. They tell Moroch that he will be killed if he says anything to anyone and throw him back on the streets, advising him that it would be best if he left Drovian altogether.
Immediately, Moroch finds the nearest Drovian guardsman and explains the situation to him. The guard laughs, telling him to get lost. More insistent, Moroch tells the guard that he will take him directly to the house and the guard threatens him, stating bluntly that what he is claiming is impossible.
Frustrated, Moroch returns to work the next day, but is distracted nearly the entire shift, in a daze, ruminating over all of the various destructive capabilities offered by alchemy, noting that there are no apothecaries in Drovian, as expected, as they were hardly commonplace even in Creston. It comes as no surprise, after all, that alchemy was misunderstood, as the regenerative aspects and capabilities were largely eschewed in favor of raw destruction.
As another shipment of yurelite is unloaded, he decides then and there to open up his own apothecary, hoping to aid in efforts to legitimize the practice of alchemy. He elects to leave Drovian, hoping to find an area without any ties to a larger government, further from civilization, in a location in which he can more dominantly shape the public's perception.
Perhaps driven even more significantly by a desire for personal atonement, he quietly slips away from Drovian, leaving all of his friends and possessions, save for the modest savings he had accrued. He ventures first further westward towards the village of Yelev, but finds it to be an absolute disaster of a settlement, and he is just as likely to be flayed alive by the residents for being human, let alone an alchemist.
He stays a single night and leaves, heading this time north along the mountain range. Despite passing through several hamlets, all of them nicer than Yelev, none of them strike him as desirable. He finally decides to travel all the way to the northern most Human kingdom on the western hemisphere, known as Auvane, hoping that its unique blend of mysticism and spiritual belief systems will be more amenable to an endeavor such as his.
Moroch continues along the plains, finally reaching the Salinas River and more settlements. He follows the river, eventually crossing over into the geographical region considered Auvane. He spends the night in a nearby village of Cephaline, suddenly realizing the next morning, upon awakening, that he has, at long last, found the spot.
New Roots Edit
Moroch uses most of his savings to purchase a rundown shack largely isolated from the rest of the village,and spends a portion immediately building up a supply and logistics network based on a model used by his father's associates back in Creston. At first, there is little interest in his offerings, which causes him to expand more aggressively into the general store market.
While being unable to ask his competitors for advice, he sets out southward towards the river villages, hoping to slowly begin building stock. He hires help for the trip in the form of a middle-aged man known as Wodell, and is able to accrue a large amount of both reagents and general purpose items. While visiting the southern village of Shamalse, he has his first encounter with the substance known as duru, a gel-like material created from the sap of the Vilgamore Tree.
Having heard of duru only a time or two before, owing to both its unavailability in the East, and more importantly, its profound and potent effects on the behavior of the user, Moroch declines to purchase a large quantity when pressed, a decision that his accomplice later praises him for. Wodell reveals the existence of a relatively large organized crime organization existing in the region between Auvane, Molsha and Cephaline.
Known as the Cullstone Syndicate, the group was largely responsible for the distribution of duru throughout the area in the early 1540s. Much of it came up river and occasionally across the sea from Drovian, harvested near the western entrance to The White Marsh. To have purchased such a large amount, even unknowingly, with intent to carry it as part of his inventory would have been seen as an infringement upon their territory.
Wodell continues, adding that they are lucky that they had not encountered any of them on their trip, admitting that he had expected resistance and that Moroch would have most likely lost all of his supplies. Then again, he explains, as the syndicate grew, so too did the size of their targets, and a random highwayman was more apt to be a wannabe than a legitimate member of the organization.
Moroch continued to grow his 'brand', becoming more well-known throughout the community as well as regionally, earning many customers simply by cutting their travel distances in half: what used to be obtainable only in Auvane was now available much closer and even at a cheaper price! That same positive notoriety, however, hid a few offended parties as well and it wasn't long before he appeared, at least by name, on the radar of the syndicate.
Before long, Moroch was able to hire Wodell and another associate permanently and entertained the thought of expanding into the nearby town of Molsha, knowing that the competition would be more fierce, but the rewards much greater. To that end, he visited the town several times, trying to get a feel for it, deciding that he would use it as a springboard for his still-ultimate goal: expansion into the kingdom of Auvane.
While there, he became fascinated by the city's reliance on mining: nearly everything revolved around the mining community and specifically, the mineral known as yurelite. While yurelite could arguably be called one of the most important minerals known to the Onichian continent, its role had plummeted precipitously over the years. Whatever its ancient purposes were, they were mostly lost to the passage of time.
Presently however, yurelite jewelery was among the highest quality status symbols available to the citizens of the mighty kingdom known as Valequine and a far-reaching and elaborate chain had been constructed to sate their material lusts. Molsha resided on the far end of that chain, toiling to procure the slowly fading stones from the deepest reaches of spider-webbed mines, feats of engineering within themselves.
Without delving into the specifics, yurelite was naturally found in two forms: the regular form was simply referred to as yurelite and the alternate form, distinguishable by a faint, reddish glow, was referred to as activated yurelite. The glowing form, while alluring, was less desired by the Valequinian royalty, although it still had its buyers in other markets. While yurelite had been mined nearly to exhaustion, activated yurelite still remained aplenty and it was quick to remind them of that fact while also providing convenient lighting for subterranean excursions.
Moroch began to imagine the possibilities inherent in having activated yurelite within reach. The Crestonians would have lost their minds from so much yurelite as it was exceedingly rare and slow to trickle down from its recipients in Valequine (and occasionally other lands, like Blosk.) He decided then to delay opening a new shop, instead opting to reinvest his new found profits in a rigorous research and development cycle, one of the first, he hoped, to seriously analyze the alchemical properties of the stone.
The question then was how to obtain this yurelite? He had attempted once or twice to ask to purchase it directly, but was looked at with extreme skepticism and refused. He traveled north to Auvane, but was denied there as well. Aside from flat-out stealing the yurelite and despite the absolutely massive quantities and good fortune he had finally encountered in stumbling upon such a vein, there seemed no way to acquire it.
Dismayed, he returned to Cephaline and visited the local shops, and chatted up both merchants and townspeople alike, trying to find some lead on yurelite. After sitting alone on a bench for a much longer time than one could be reasonably expected to sit on a bench, he returned to the store and asked Wodell whether or not the Cullstone Syndicate targeted convoys carrying yurelite. “Of course”, was his response, who continued to explain to Moroch the various avenues through which yurelite was then sold and smuggled, notably, Moroch realized, including Drovian as one potential outlet. Duru in, yurelite out, simple economics.
Wodell then cautioned that the syndicate was 'appointment only' and visiting them was simply something you did not do. He offered to set up a meeting between Moroch and a member, but the meeting would take place in the Atonian Steppe, a dangerous and distant destination, requiring the aid and protection of at least one more person.
The group of three met with a low-ranking member of the syndicate, and the deal was made, Moroch purchasing nearly 8 pounds of activated yurelite for a surprisingly decent price. He realized quickly, however, that he was ill-equipped to transport it and the syndicate had solved this problem already, transporting it in wooden trunks as opposed to the burlap sacks that Moroch had brought. So they returned to Cephaline, three men carrying three strange, glowing bags of pure gold (in the figurative sense.)
The Gamble Edit
Moroch set out to study the properties of yurelite almost immediately, finding an isolated area far from the confines of the village where he was able to slowly build up a makeshift, heavy-duty alchemy lab and setup. If something went wrong, he would take only himself to the grave this time, hopeful that there were no such unknown reactions laying in wait with respect to the yurelite.
He left the store in the hands of his associates and over the next few weeks, immersed himself, more or less, fully in his studies, returning sparingly to the village, preferring to sleep in the wilderness, all the while, growing a formidable beard and stench. He knew that it would be months, perhaps even years before any true secrets were yielded and within a month, he had already destroyed or otherwise rendered unusable his initial supply.
He sunk deeper into the petty criminal world, although petty might have very well been a misnomer at that point: he knew not what the penalties were for owning yurelite, specifically, yurelite that had obviously been in the possession of a known owner. Especially when that owner could easily kill you, as too could the thief. Surely, simply his association with the syndicate would be frowned upon too had it been largely known, but there was no particular law-enforcement presence in that region and the Cephaline Volunteer Defense Corps was widely known as a joke.
For his 29th birthday and to celebrate the success of his store and other yurelite-related examinations, he decided to treat himself to a weekend in Molsha, a portion of it to be spent in a drunken stupor, and another portion to be spent reevaluating whether or not he would trust either of his associates to handle an expansion into Molsha on their own.
He found himself at the Illuminares, a scummy bar with strong anti-Auvanian leanings as evidenced by the... clientele. What he had not known at that time, and perhaps partially obscured by a slowly brewing intoxication, is that the bar had been slowly been swelling with syndicate members, nearly five of them, if one were so inclined to count.
Moroch found his attention drawn to the raucous game of Danto proceeding in a back corner of the bar. While much could be said about the card game itself, the only pertinent bit of information is that Moroch is exceptionally good at Danto. He was also, and to his benefit, exceptionally less drunk than the others and soon found himself in a four-way game against two ruffians and a man with an eye patch who was considerably drunker than all of them, possibly combined.
In the Danto world, it was considered extremely bad etiquette to play a 2-player game in the presence of others who would be reasonably expected to play as well. Despite that, this is exactly what happened, Moroch trouncing his three adversaries effortlessly, drawing the ire of the eye-patched man, who demanded the one on one matchup.
Moroch began to suspect that something wasn't quite right, but he found himself engaged in increasingly difficult battles against his opponent, besting him in one game, then another, the drunker he got, the better, and Moroch hoped that he would pass out before he reached whatever pinnacle he was aspiring towards.
Eventually money came into play, which also coincides precisely with the moment when Moroch contemplated hustling the one-eyed feller. His newfound success and contentment with his current situation (possibly the alcohol too) had led to a riskier, uninhibited Moroch. By that time, however, a small crowd had formed, but it was unlikely that anyone would suspect anything, considering the legitimate closeness of the games thus far.
Moroch's mistake of the night came into play in trying to hustle someone who was actively attempting to hustle him as well. Moroch, of course, was, for the moment, the better loser, ceding in a single game nearly half of all of his money, eventually uttering the words his opponent longed to hear: “double or nothing!” Moroch had adopted a wide variety of strategies, realizing just how differently eastern and western forms of Danto truly were. Many of these strategies had caught his opponent completely off guard, but he was adapting, much to Moroch's delight, and the swift defeat he would deliver would be all the more believable.
As expected, Moroch absolutely crushed the man while retaining six of his original hand cards, almost unheard of for such a long game. It was then that Moroch noticed that not only had all of the other patrons disappeared, but the bar itself had closed for the night. How late was it exactly?
Moroch scooped up his earnings and prepared to depart, when the man looked him square in the eye, a look that meant to say that the stakes were raising. And raise they did, the man, in a legendary state of drunkenness, still somehow conscious and still somehow acquiring alcohol, betting his literal house against Moroch's shop.
How was it though, that they knew of the shop? Had his notoriety really extended to this random bar? Surely not and yet, here he was, in a situation he was not able to refuse. Despite having almost made it to the door, a syndicate member appeared in front of him, and Moroch recognized him as the one who sold him the yurelite. He tried to utter a word, but was shouted over by the eye-patched man, slamming his fist on the table.
Moroch returned to his seat. There was no way he was winning this guy's house, but he sure wasn't going to lose his shop for absolutely no reason either. He began to suspect that there was little chance of a favorable outcome and began to wish he had remained in Cephaline, birthdays be damned. They started the next game, Moroch wondering as to who this man was exactly.
While it was never explicitly revealed to Moroch, his enemy, in the worst case scenario, was actually the leader of the Cullstone Syndicate, a charming, congenial brute known as Vanderos, with a penchant for smashing things he perceived to be threats and smashing things he did not perceive to be threats also. By extension, the 'house' then, would have referred even more inanely to the Cullstone Syndicate headquarters, which by all accounts, was a sprawling plantation in a prime location and worth considerably more than Moroch's store, to wit.
Moroch attempted to lose, positing that he would talk his way out of relinquishing the shop, or offer to return their money, or something, anything. Vanderos adopted the same strategy, intentionally burning cards, staring at Moroch all the while with his one good eye. In the end, it was Vanderos who suddenly out-hustled Moroch, forcing himself to lose and Moroch to win.
In a display of feigned disgust, Vanderos shouted and slammed the table, splintering it. Immediately, the syndicate members descended upon Moroch, beating him to a pulp and leaving him unconscious and sprawled out upon the wooden floor, Vanderos delivering the knockout blow, their spit and sloshed beer spilling about on his blood-stained leather tunic.
Moroch awakened in Molsha some days later, finding himself in an unfamiliar house, remembering only a few details of the savage beating. Nursed back to health by a random bar patron, the man scolds Moroch for having entered the Illuminares at such a late hour and date. Barely able to stand, Moroch quickly gathers up his things and makes preparations to leave, much to the dismay of his caretaker.
He returns to Cephaline to find his alchemy store reduced to ashes, surely no accident, as he made absolute sure, this time, to avoid any kind of accelerants or combustibles, stocking nothing that could randomly explode. He questions a few of the local residents, but they remain tight-lipped, extending their sympathies for the loss of his store, but not much else in the way of information. Surely though, tips or not, Moroch knew who the culprit was, as if the beating wasn't enough.
The next step was to find Wodell, desperately hoping that he had not succumbed to the blaze. Sure enough, he had survived, but was unable to provide any additional information as well. Moroch explained his absence for the past few days and Wodell informs him that he is lucky to have gotten off with such relatively light punishment, even for the crime of being better than your opponent.
Around this same time, a perceived mercenary known as Apolith arrived in Cephaline, an obviously battle-hardened soldier, one of the few regularly geared and experienced men in the region. While he declined to reveal his purpose, he does mention that he was previously a Valequinian soldier and has since roamed around, offering his services to those who would pay.
Meanwhile, Moroch, not content to run from the syndicate, decides to rebuild his store. With the help of many of the townspeople, he is able to quickly and efficiently rebuild his shop, significantly improving upon it. His associates return to work and Moroch, slowly returning to full health, realizes that there is no chance that he will be able to obtain activated yurelite in the future without some kind of go-between.
He decides to simply lay low, not wanting to further get involved with the syndicate. Some time later, two syndicate members appear in Cephaline, demanding protection money for the store. Apolith watches the entire exchange from a distance but does not intervene in any way, and Moroch begrudgingly coughs up the money.
He begins to build a friendship with Apolith, who frequents the shop often in search of salves and ointments, always some new scar or bruise present somewhere. He reveals that he knows some about Moroch's past and his previous store. He also admits that he is not there to deal with the syndicate at all, but sympathizes with Moroch's plight nonetheless.
Moroch spirals into a deep depression, spending a large majority of his time at the local tavern, while his co-workers manage the store. On one particular night, he is joined by Apolith and his newfound 'posse', really, just members of the Cephaline defense corps, and in Apolith's mind, children to be babysat.
He approaches Moroch and they strike up a conversation, mostly revealing insignificant and trivial details about themselves. Apolith comments on Moroch's knack for alchemy and recalls a specific memory from several decades back in which he and his men came upon a defending force that had blown itself up, thus saving them the trouble, laughing all the while.
Moroch freezes, realizing that somehow, Apolith was present for the 'battle' at Balemange. Moroch does not reveal that he was there as well, but brushes off the story with a nervous chuckle, commenting that the responsible party must have been irresponsibly stupid.
Apolith then changes the tone of the conversation, bluntly asking Moroch if he would like to have back some semblance of his freedom and independence without the meddling of the syndicate. Moroch questions Apolith's motivation, reminding him of his earlier assertion that the syndicate was not his primary concern.
Apolith reaffirms his previous position, and states that he would kill them himself if he could, but the organization had simply grown too large and violent in the recent years. Apolith then asks if there is any way in which Moroch, using his alchemical knowledge, could kill a large group of them at once. Moroch laughs, having never considered such an option, but knowing full well how potentially easy it could be.
Twenty minutes of preparation, Moroch assures him, and he could reduce their entire compound to rubble. Apolith laughs, asking Moroch why he would do such a thing when, with their leadership and numbers decimated, Moroch could just as well take control of the syndicate himself. Apolith, in fact, adds this condition to the deal, saying that he doesn't care at all about the legality of the syndicate's affairs, even going so far as to say that he would help Moroch if he were so inclined to follow that particular path.
Confused, Moroch asks him what the actual point is, saying that he won't entertain further thoughts without some inkling of Apolith's reasoning. Apolith tells him that there is a single condition that he must not violate: Apolith tells him that he can pillage, kill or destroy whatever he wants, so long as he leaves the yurelite caravans alone.
Moroch laughs, saying that he doesn't care about anything other than the yurelite and Apolith sweetens the deal further, promising Moroch a monthly allotment of activated yurelite. Moroch perks up and begins contemplating the perfect tool for such a job, hypothetically still, but is unable to convince himself fully to do it, despite having more than enough motivation to do so on all fronts.
Apolith leaves, telling Moroch to think about it and that he has already picked a specific date for the operation, knowing that most of the organization would be present at the Cullstone compound, pending the arrival of a large shipment of duru. Apolith then adds that he thinks it would be best if Moroch took over the syndicate entirely and implores him once again to consider the potential rewards.
Over the next few days, Moroch contemplates the offer, but is unable to drive himself to that sort of violence again. It is not until a young Cephalinian defense corps member is found with his throat slit in the village square, that Moroch finally approaches Apolith and asks for the details of the plan, reminding him that he is doing it for the common good and not to replace, in any way, the head of the syndicate.
On the agreed-upon date, Apolith and Moroch venture eastward toward the compound. Per the plan, Apolith waits in the dense overgrowth surrounding the compound, while Moroch nervously approaches, recalling Wodell's words regarding the syndicate's proclivity for appointments only.
He is detained immediately upon sight and brought before Vanderos, who bellows out the heartiest guffaw Moroch had ever heard. He rolls up his sleeves, preparing to dole out a second round of punishment to the obviously-insane Moroch, who then states that he would like the opportunity to work for them.
The nearly fifteen syndicate members laugh, many of them recognizable from the Illuminares. Vanderos chortles again, asking Moroch what he could possibly offer them, unless he wants to renegotiate their protection arrangement (aka, increase the price.)
Moroch asks if he can provide a demonstration and Vanderos decides to humor him, telling him that if his time is wasted, Moroch will be killed right then and there. Moroch produces a small, corked vial, containing a purple liquid. He sets it on a nearby table, his hands trembling. In one rapid motion, he reveals a mask and quickly slips it on, before removing the cork.
Immediately, the concoction begins to hiss and emit steam. The two syndicate members closest to Moroch quickly drop dead, while the others slowly realize what is happening. They rush towards Moroch, succumbing to the poison, now dispersed throughout the entire compound. Vanderos is the last to fall, killed mid-expletive.
Moroch, letting out a sigh of relief, stares at the carnage and begins to feel a slight rush of power, remembering Balemange. He placed the cork back on the mixture and removed his mask, exiting the compound to motion for Apolith. Apolith praises Moroch, telling him that this is the most efficiently deadly thing he had ever witnessed, and begins to move the corpses. Moroch stared at Vanderos, wide-eyed, a dribble of foam smeared across a reddened cheek, wondering how suitable of a replacement he could possibly be.
|Chakra||Restore some HP to allies near Moroch.||3||2||1||Multiple|
|Aura||Remove one negative status effect from an ally and grant REGEN for 10 turns.||5||3||1||Single|
|Gut Punch||Lowers a nearby enemy's RES and deals physical damage.||6||2||0||Single|
|Firebomb||Deals magical damage to targeted enemies and inflicts BURNING for 10 turns.||8||3||3||Multiple|
|Spinkick||Deals low physical damage to enemies near Moroch.||4||5||1||Multiple|