Chapter 30: Patron Journey; Carbina Village (P2)
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Announcement

So, I fell sick and everything hurt for two weeks. It still hurts but I'm back.

Should let you know that I've decided to let Omakes be a discord thing instead of a reward for patrons. I want to build up my discord community and talk about Necromancer and Asher and Anselms adventures with you guys so I hope this is incentive enough. 

Anyway, enjoy the chapter.

 

“It won’t happen again.”

He is adamant. Very stubborn. I imagine this is what he feels like when dealing with me.

“You said that the last time and the first time this happened.”

His lips are pursed tight, his arms folded and his eyes averted mine with deft. The complete package of a child caught with a hand in the cookie jar really.

Except, the proverbial cookie jar is…life.

Anselm is dead. Very much so, but through me he gets to live a fashion of a life. Not the exact thing, he gets to eat and it doesn’t fall through his stomach, he gets to fight alongside me when I need him to, he even gets tired as well. He also gets several special powers that no other human I know of gets. He can fly, turn intangible and possess living things to some degree of success.

One thing he can’t do is, well, live. His life is mine. The exchange for that is all the things he gets to do. I don’t know what happens when a spirit decides to go into the light, to follow the Goddess Anera. But I do know what happens when a spirit refuses to do so, refuses to come to terms with their death.

They get left behind until…forever it seems. Unable to move from the spot they died, the spot they rejected the hand of a Goddess. They stay there for centuries to come until someone like me comes along. Someone with the power to offer them a fraction of life.

But then, what happens when someone like myself takes a spirit that rejected the hand of a Goddess and stayed put at the scene of their death for nigh centuries?

Withdrawal.

It started out very subtle, very quiet, so quiet I just thought that’s how Anselm naturally was. But after months together, I realized he was doing something, or at least, trying to do something he couldn’t and likely wouldn’t for a long time to come.

He was trying to live.

The alarm bells started ringing when Anselm, on one of my eight-minute summons disappeared off to somewhere. I could feel the spell was active so I didn’t bother summoning him again. And I was far too busy sorting through the many gifts the villagers of Ioina had laid at my feet to bother that Anselm wasn’t close.

Well, a few hours later, at my next summon. He begged me to prepare to come with him some place but at the same time stay far, far away.

With my budding celebrity in the village I didn’t want to do any of that. Not one bit. But I owe Anselm a lot. So, I did.

It turns out that he’d managed to snake a young lady’s attention and even scheduled a date. Honestly my first thought was how impressive that was. Under eight minutes? Wow.

I did as I was asked and recharged him through out the date. I was happy for him, but it didn’t take long for the obvious problem of their romance to rear its head.

He’s dead. She’s alive.

Telling Anselm, the truth, it hurt, it hurt him a lot. But he gave in and he never saw her after that.

And then, there’s just a few moments ago. Trying to belong beside those soldiers, trying to fit in once again. He would have tried much harder if I hadn’t pulled him aside.

Life wasn’t for him anymore.

“I’ll get it together, Asher. It wasn’t even that bad. Just drop it.”

I nod and we silently walk the rest of the day.

At night I’m quick to make camp. There’s an unspoken sadness between Anselm and I. Once I’m asleep he’ll go back to being ethereal.

But I try to give it some more time before exhaustion takes over.

“There are stars out tonight.” I comment, trying to break the ice.

“Yes, yes there are.” He replied just like I would if someone idly commented on how sunny it was.

So, I change my tactics. “Do you think Carbina village will be full of people like that man from before?”

“What, the elf?” I nod, “Well, I suppose so. Ioina wasn’t spilling over with elves so I think Carbina will have the same rate.”

Made sense. With the blatant discrimination, I’m not sure a small village would want a lot of elves around. At Ioina, Perlman had used them as recruitable cannon fodder to save his hide and then instead of being grateful, he kept up the punishments.

All this time I’ve been thinking about how bad Elsa could have it out there, but back at Ioina, if a new Mayor has been sent the discrimination and abuse of her kind is bound to continue.

“Do you want to save them? Elves.”

“Of course, I do, don’t you?” I throw the question right back at him.

“Not really, not actively at least. Elves have been enemies of humans for ages. If we’re caught messing around and consorting with the enemy, we’re going to have a target on our back, and then you’ll die.”

“I’ll only die if I’m not strong enough to survive. I will be.” My proclamation emphasized by a handful of grass thrown to the wind. “And people are allowed to take elven spouses.”

“Yes, just one, not a whole gaggle of them. And you’re planning on getting a whole lot of them.” He mutters something about a nation of ridiculous under his breath and I can’t help the smile that crawls on my face.

“Anselm, you’ll see. The oppressed can be a very powerful foe and for people like me planning a ridiculous nation? The oppressed are the handy tools I’ll require to come out on top.”

He grunts and doesn’t say another word. I’m sure he agrees, its sound reasoning proven by history time and time again. Unhappy people make new nations, sometimes it’s an unhappy nation, other times it’s the staple used to visualize what independence actually looks like.

I’m not sure what mine would be yet.

***

The sun, rude as ever, pierces through the thin fabric of the tent I set up and wakes me. It’s another day journeying through the land. I break up camp and summon Anselm.

“I could’ve helped with that.”

“I know, I’m only just realizing.” I face-palm.

He chuckles and helps me with the last bit, stuffy the tent set up back into my bag/large satchel.

We travel on the path from morning through noon before I begin to notice something different.

“The path is clearer.” Anselm says.

I smile, “I was just about to say the same thing.”

“Must mean we’re getting closer to some version of civilized society.”

I can’t help but snort at the way he says it, indoor plumbing hasn’t even been invented.

We travel on for what feels like another two hours before we finally get a glimpse of civilised society as Anselm put it.

Ahead of us were several rows of farmlands, beset on each side of the formerly grassy fields. There are animals grazing somewhere around us, I can tell just by the sound of their mooing and bleating.

We walk further ahead and find there are two buildings planted far off from the path and behind some of the farmlands. It’s no question really. I break away from the path, excited to meet another human.

“Hey! Stop! Theives! Sir its thieves!”

I’m sorry what? I turn around just in time to catch a man swinging a shear at Anselm. Deftly, I step in with my dagger drawn and parry.

“Ah! Please, please don’t kill me!” the attacker yelps, falling to the ground, his hands raised in an automatic surrender.

“I’m not goin-”

Next thing I hear are gallops. I turn again and find a man riding a horse strait at us, complete with a spear in hand. And he’s yelling a battle cry.

“Ugh. Death Grip.” With a pinch of my ethereal necrotic grip, I pull the galloping horses hooves forward, resulting in a beautiful tumbling of both the horse and the rider.

“That looks painful.”

“Get off my land you thieves, you cultists!”

“Cultists?” I might have sounded a bit too excited because the bruised rider narrows his eyes at us some more, suspicion pouring. “We’re not cultists or thieves. Although I am looking to meet some Cultists.”

“If you’re neither then what you doing on my land huh?” the man is barely standing up straight, the fall must have really banged him up and I can’t say the horse will be walking again.

“I’m a hunter. I’m hunting the Cult of Phien, and I and my friend here were just headed to that building over there to look for people who could direct me.”

The man snorts, “If you travelled that path you won’t be needing any direction, those crazies would have come up their rabbit burrows and kill you dead. Been that way all of Carbina.”

“Oh, this is Carbina? I was directed here too. And we haven’t encountered anyone but bandits on that path.”

“This isn’t Carbina, well, this isn’t Carbina proper. You’ll have to head in for the good looks.” He says pointing back up north. “If you weren’t attacked, I’d say you thank whatever God you pray to.”

“Anera?” I say, entirely unsure what the right answer is meant to be.

“Sure, why are you asking me?” he blinks, “Oh that’s right, you’re hunting the Cult, you’re part of the Following aren’t you.”

“Ah, no, I’m actually an independent hunter.”

“Whatever, you hunt the Cult and you worship Anera, sounds like the Following to me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get my horse up from whatever nonsense you did to it. Dang thing doesn’t look like it’ll walk again.”

“Sorry about that, Sir.”

“Whatever. Business is shit anyway. Can’t afford its feed anyhow.”

I hum to myself as the man from earlier goes on to help the farmer get the horse up. There seems to be a lot going on here.

I look to Anselm who’d been quiet all this time and find him smiling at the corn crops. I shake my head. Looks like we’re having corn.

 

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