Chapter 18: Whole New World
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---D-Day+10, Nizhen 14th---

While the witch is definitely 'comfortable' with the girls? She is not comfortable with me. Yeah, I did pin her to a wall with a spear but who hasn't tried to kill someone they just met?

And I did slice and dice the undead love of her life. But isn't that just a star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet kind of thing? They are from two different houses after all. One alive. One, not. Totally shakespearean.

Shouldn't we be even steven now?

Oh, yeah, according to Chyal? Our little necromancer had a 'thing' with the living shadow that did its damnedest to skewer me. Crazy little thing called love, right?

There is something wrong with this planet.

We are taking it slow this sunny morning to let folks recover more from all the buffing yesterday. Won't finish packing and leave till after lunch. Once Ushalen is up? I guide her to a clearing in the woods beyond the campsite. Its far enough away that there is a hill between us and the village. So snooping should be minimized.

Its spring but the air is still cold enough to steam my breath. She looks pretty nervous. Told her I won't to know about dark magic.

"Y-you have so much mana and know so much magic already. I... I do not know how much more you can even learn." Fidgeting? "What w-would you like t-to do first?"

I've already heard from the girls about how difficult magic is to learn. Each school has a slightly different way of thinking. Sort of like its own language. It is the rare magician that can keep two schools straight in their head. Only geniuses or the very long lived manage three. Four? Super genius.

And each 'level' within a school is a more complex version of its language. Like moving from street slang to a dissertation.

My ability to use so many schools? Kind of freaks everyone out. My helpers say I really shouldn't be able to learn incantations from so many different schools.

Suspect its because of my [Recovery Magic]. With spells mashing different schools together? Angel tits probably rewired my brain when she shoved that grimoire in there.

"Show me living shadows."

What do I need? Loyalty. Absolute. Complete. The girls claim to be willing slaves but Avalina made it obvious how easily I can still be betrayed. Already seen how vulnerable they are to spells that manipulate the mind.

While the undead are vulnerable to spells from the light school like [Purify]? They are, supposedly, just about immune to any sort of spell influencing the mind. And supposedly unshakably loyal to their summoner.

Necromancy magic of the dark school seems perfect to create these companions. Still, it has some pretty big drawbacks. Most necromancy needs a 'body.' You can't summon a skeleton from thin air. You need to already have one. And, they don't smell all that great. They reek of rot and decay.

Because, they are rotting and decaying.

Chyal says most undead are also pretty stupid. Even if what's left of the brain is still in there? Their 'spirit' has moved on. Enough residual spirit is left that zombies, skeletons, and the like, can handle simple things. Sort of. But are slow to move and respond.

And do not expect them to handle complicated instructions or maneuvers. The more advanced the version, like a death knight? The more capable and intelligent they are.

The other side of necromancy is the one that uses the 'spirit.' Usually encountered as restless souls taking the form of ghosts, specters, etc... Since they have no body? They tend to be weaker than the other type. A big plus is that they don't stink. Since they have nothing to rot or decay.

At most what others usually feel is a chill in the air or a sense of dread.

Of course without a body to slow them down? They are fast. Also smarter and more adaptable since the psyche is involved. The downside being that you need a soul to work with.

Corpses last for years, even decades, depending on how well they are preserved. Spirits move on soon after death. So unless the spirit is trapped or upset enough to stick around? You have a narrow window to work with.

Now within spirit necromancy there is a small branch. Using the spirit to make a body. These living shadows, mostly, manifest the form they had in life. Influenced by the power provided, casters tastes, self image, etc, etc...

So if they used a sword while they were alive. Their living shadow will have a sword. Wore chain mail? Will look like they are wearing chain mail.

Living shadows also don't have to stay 'solid.' They can become as insubstantial as ghosts and lurk within the smallest of regular shade. Hiding within the smallest locket for years before springing out as a seven foot monster again. The biggest restriction being that the bigger the size difference? The longer it takes to manifest their 'solid' state.

Really want to figure them out but.

"Please forgive me lord, but I cannot."

It requires more mana to raise the dead as a living shadow than as a body or spirit. You are not only anchoring them, usually against their will, to this side? You are also providing them the power to change.

May take years for a necromancer to 'store' enough mana to create a living shadow. Or, in this case, recreate one since I chopped hers up. So even though she still has its 'anchor?' Will be a long time before her champion comes back.

Or, it would if I wasn't here.

"Ushalen, have faith in me as I have faith in you."

A little bit of convincing later, plus the materials I brought, and a rather large magic circle is soon drawn with her and I standing at its center. Still unsure, caught by surprise when I turn her around and embrace her from behind. Her heart is thumping fast and hard. Start streaming my mana into her.

She's panting and shaking now. "Ohhh... My. Lord..." Yeah, discovered this trick in the carriage. Fortunately, her grip on the medallion anchor is firm.

Have to be careful not to channel to much too quickly. Could injure or even kill her. I'm also passing mana into the magic circle beneath me. Not too much here either or it could shatter, possibly explode. I discovered I could feed both thru experiments with the girls.

Sharing my reservoir with them also lets me learn their spells much faster as I get feedback from their casting directly.

"[Shadow Rise]" Her voice is shaking but determined.

Black smoke begins rising out of the circle. Its gathering and circling around us thicker and thicker, faster and faster. We're standing in the center of a small tornado that's getting tighter and tighter. Finally its squeezed down to only the medallion being in the hurricane.

Cover the witches shaking hands with mine so she won't drop it. The smoke is so thick it looks like ink and the anchor is the hole the tub is draining into. The last of the black ink disappearing into the medallion.

Everything is still. Not even a bird can be heard. Like the entire world is holding its breath.

*ZHRAHK*

Black smoke explodes from the anchor and begins gathering beside us. Like molten darkness being poured into a standing mold. A knight made of smoke and ink forms, and its not alone. Two hounds proudly stand beside it.

Ushalen told me earlier that the hounds were so loyal to the knight in life? They appeared too when she raised him. Look a bit different from what I remember though.

The knights and hounds look more, solid, this time. Distinct. Armor is fancier, more ornate. Extra spikey slashy bits. Taller too. The hounds are bigger and meaner. Fangs and claws sharper. Collars spikier. All three of them look more aggressive. Evil-er?

The green glow that could be seen here and there during our first encounter? Is now a purple glow instead. Looks like my test was a success.

Ushalen eyes are as big as saucers. "Sire Rowl? Alfek? Orsa?" Guess she really didn't believe me.

Found with my [Recovery Magic] that some spells have stronger effects if you push more mana into them than they normally burn. Use too much? Bad things happen. But as long as you don't go to far? The results can be vastly improved.

Ended up feeding several times more mana than what seemed needed into this ritual. The result? I can sense that these shadows are stronger than what challenged me the other night.

Ushalen is crying as she embraces the living shadows and it turns into an awkward, but still sort of cute, group hug. I might be remarkably stupid when it comes to the hearts and minds of women? But its clear that the witch's love for her knight and his hounds runs deep.

Not surprising considering they were together for centuries and the rest of her undead were pretty nasty. Beginning to feel like I'm intruding. I'll leave to give them time alone together. Can you have sex with a living shadow?

Well, I got what I wanted. [Shadow Rise] has been added to my grimoire. How though? I learn quickly but this is ridiculous. Other school's spells have taken many tries to learn. Again, there is that strange feeling of familiarity. Of comfort. Affinity?

"Master!" I only get a few steps before Ushalen's scream stops me.

Turning around I see all four are facing me and on their knees, heads down.

"Eh?"

"I sought to harm you. Sought to force you." She's speaking thru tears and sniffling. "Instead of bringing vengeance? You brought salvation." Crap, Avi 2.0? "First you saved me. Now you saved my family. Please! Let us serve you!" Shit.

"Serve me? How?" Like being my chauffeur?

"I will be your slave." Another one? "Everything I am will be yours." What is up with these women and slavery? What's wrong with just being friends with benefits? "Please do not abandon me!"

And there's the whole abandoning thing again. Did any of these people have happy childhoods? Still, owning her may mean I own her shadows too. Intend to raise my own. Might also be easier to learn the rest of her spells.

Guess it can't be helped. "I will not abandon you. You are now, mine."

"[Servitude]"

I see the mark appear on her left hand, feel the itch on mine, and a huge smile on her face. Ushalen puts the medallion around her neck and the shadows pour into it, disappearing.

After a short walk back to camp, the witch sprints towards the other girls as soon as we pass the perimeter. She's squealing like a little girl and showing off her mark like its an engagement ring. They are all squealing, hugging, and crying.

"Good grief."

Bonding, the girls soon get her past revealed. Find out she is a Granyan elf who was captured by demons centuries ago. Was a breeding sow for the demons for a century before being given as a gift to an orc tribe on the Tourin frontier. Becoming livestock for them for a century.

Thru agonizing trial and error she learned how to filter her mana. Enough to use.

The local kingdom launched a campaign to stop the orc raids. It was successful until an ambush wiped them out except for one knight. Heavily injured he was tortured during the orcs celebration of their victory.

Considered a genius in the dark school in her day, Ushalen managed to escape and raise the massacred expedition as undead. Falling upon the orcs they put the entire tribe to the sword.

As a final humiliation, the sorceress raised the knight as a living shadow and had it kill the orc chief. Knowing she had no where to return to. Ushalen remained in the wilderness with her knight by her side. Waging a private war against the orc and their allies.

However, her fight against the curse was burning her life away but she accepted her coming death. Until her undead animal spies heard of a barbarian that could lift demon curses.

Damn.


Rowl (living shadow)

  • Shadow Dark Knight
  • Summons
    • Shadow Hell Hounds
      • Alfek and Orsa

Ushalen (female, elf, granyan)

  • 6'1", 400+ years
    • spoon body, oval face, large tear-drop breasts, large heart butt
    • green eyes, long curly silver hair, grey skin, long swept back ears
  • Slave
    • The Beast
    • Formerly Orcs
    • Formerly Demons
  • Summons
    • Rowl (Living Shadow)
  • "Crone," "Witch," "Necromancer"
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