Chapter 40: Patron Journey; Lotar’s Boon (P2)
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"You look even worse than I do, Taserman."

Anselm took his time getting Leriva, the poor woman was hounded by all the Cultists down there once I made my escape. Her body has been scorched, bruised and sliced in several places, she still bled from cuts.

"Why didn't you do that before?" she jabs her finger at the brave and unrelenting ghoul I created. It's down two limbs now and still fights, hopping and biting and slicing with its nails; obedient to my single order.

My eyes pierce her with a warranted suspicious gaze. How long has she been aware of my class? That I'm a Necromancer? Could she have set a trap for me all along?

Her Diviner. She must have dispatched them to whatever central authority is best qualified to deal with a threat like me. That must be why we never saw one in the village.

Better just to ask I decide. "How long have you known?"

"Known?"

"Please don't play dumb, I'm in a hell of pain and very irritable." I warn.

"Since I set eyes on you. Since our very first meeting I realized it during that meeting too." She groans and shifts on the grass, slapping away insects that sought to worsen her pain with their bite.

"How did you know? I've never been here before."

She chortles, her eyes gleam with delight despite the pain she so obviously endured, "You made the news, why, anyone would after killing a B-rank Mage and incumbent ruler in a challenged combat."

"I'm assuming there was a reward included in this letter, for my capture?"

"Reward? No, nothing like that." She shakes her head, "But any loyal servant of the Synagogue would put you down for the threat you represent. Necromagic is a dark, powerful and sinister form of magic that has, in the past, set Kingdoms ablaze and silent with the reapers scythe. It's in my best interest to see that you don't live very long."

"So what? You're going to fight me? Why didn't you do that in the beginning anyway?"

She smiles and only looks dead ahead. The Cultists. They'd long ripped my Ghoul to shreds and now were all standing in a circle, looking up at us. Their leader stood at the centre, laughing madly and praising Phien.

"Right. You needed my help."

"Yes, only I didn't think you'd be so weak."

Well, that's just uncalled for.

"Weak? The creature I created from a single corpse held off the Cultists for more than long enough to grant us an escape, and I'm sure you've met Anselm, he saved you and he's a spirit under my call!"

"And yet we didn't win. Instead, here we are lying in the grass, exhausted, our assault broken and your leg gone to oblivion-"

"It's not that bad-"

"And worse, all the men, many of the men that volunteered to aid us in battle, to redeem their home from this siege, this cornering. They have all but died and the rest fled back in mass retreat. You are weak."

"And you're not?" I bite back.

"No. My Hounds and I held back their leader, the first one. Keeping him distracted with our persistent attacks is what made the other cultists not have magic. I expected that a Mage capable of killing a B-rank should be more than able to slaughter all the powerless Cultists like fodder. Seems I was wrong to put my faith in your abilities, and here we are."

A cold silence washes over after that. Her words stung as the truth often does. I'm the reason we're in this mess. Overestimating my abilities, being in such a hurry to get power I didn't bother to learn the background of my enemy, or listen to Leriva, someone with vastly more experience in the field than I.

And all because I was playing power fantasy. I am so dumb.

"You're right. I am weak. I just gained the ability to create that creature, that's why I couldn't do it earlier." I confess, "But with it I'm sure, I am certain I've gained more powers as a Necromancer."

She shakes her head at me. "Sounds like you have a plan. What is it?"

I grin, "Just the two of us, well three if you count Anselm." I hastily add, knowing he'd mention it when I summon him again, "We're all we need for this. With my new powers, I am sure I can destroy those Cultists, but I'll need your help."

"Of course."

"You need to hold off the leader again." Her protest began on her face so I quickly added, "Just long enough for me to send out as many creatures as I can. I'll be with you afterwards, and when the Cultists are all dead, you'll have my undead on your side too."

"Undead…" she mutters, regarding me with suspicion. "Fine. I assume you're simply bidding your time, until your mana replenishes itself."

"Yes, how'd you know?"

"You're not worried about your leg. Must be something mana can fix then."

I snort. She is way more perceptive than I give her credit for. In this moment, I'm sure a lot of her reaction during that breakfast was just a ruse, keeping her cards hidden until the final moment.

What a fucking bureaucrat.

***

Over the many minutes we spent waiting for our reserves to refill, the cultists changed nothing. Well, the leader finally stopped laughing. That was a relief, could finally think and plan.

After reaching the level nine and gaining enough proficiency in my Necromancy and Warlock classes to create an undead, I look through my list of spells. They are a great many of them, ever since that cave I see them as a gift of the last inhabitant of this body. My deep mana reserves are also a gift from Pluzur the Eternal Flame.

Thanks to him, I started out level one with a long list of spells to try out and nearly six hundred MP. Now at level nine I can finally try out more than four of these spells and had the MP to power it. With twelve hundred MP I definitely won't need to worry about Anselm.

But it seems Necromancy spells have a reoccurring theme to them. They needed sustenance. Continued, uncut sustenance.

Create Undead came with this caveat too, and more. If the Cultists hadn't put down the Ghoul it would have been free to roam this world, owing allegiance to no one.

Fortunately, there is a spell I could comfortably use without needing to passively support it with my mana.

Raise the Dead.

The spell spoke for itself. Any corpse in reach of this spell would immediately rise to do my bidding as a zombie.

But, it's a Necromancy spell so of course there's a catch. A single use of this spell costs fifteen MP per corpse, its cheap and effectively creates a horde of undead.

But zombies aren't as persistent as Ghouls, sure, they'd power through the rigor mortis and run after you but after you chop of a few of their limbs they power down as they lose out on much of the mana that raised them. And at level one the spell has a limited time use, just like Summon Spirit did back then, repeated use will widen that time.

But that's alright. I think I've got the ratio down. It would cost me three hundred MP to raise twenty zombies, not bad at all. I'd reinforce my zombies with a ghoul and Anselm, each of them costing a hundred and fifty MP. So, in total, I'd spend half of my mana in preparations.

"Are you ready?" Leriva asks, breaking further calculations. She has an entirely different set of skills with magic. For one she's a battle mage, or so she says. At C-rank she has managed to summon two familiars from alternate worlds to serve her purpose, she's also an intermediate Geomancer; many of the scattered rocks down there are her doing.

"Just get throw me a live Cultist, and gather the bodies in one place if you can." Seeing her scowl at the thought of feeding the bodies of her men to a Necromancer, "Think about the endgame. With this you'll finally get to use that summon in battle."

During our time waiting, I asked about her abilities. She is a Conjurer. Once I heard that I saw her in a different light, her abilities are what I could have had had I chosen Conjuration back in the cave. There's a powerful creature she wants to use in battle, merely summoning it drains her mana down to ten percent, but with me around she wouldn't have to worry about burning out early.

I just want to see more magic.

"Right, the endgame." She hops down the incline, mana in her swelling in preparation to unleash her summon.

"Summon Spirit." I call out, having Anselm present again.

"So, we're not running away." He says, exasperated.

"We would, but now I can use my other spells."

"Hurrah!" his praise is full of sarcasm.

"Just go help her out."

He picks up his spear and heads down with a grin on his face. He doesn't even know how bad he is at hiding his true feelings. Anselm is having a thrill fighting these Cultists.

A few moments later I hear a scream. A smile graces my face as the scream comes from a Cultist Leriva sent flying with a burst of Geomancy.

"Death Grip." My grip travels through the air faster than the maniac can fall and latches onto it. Quickly, before the necrotic damage of the grip can kill it, I draw it close and set my hand on its body. "Soul Drain."

Right in front of my eyes my blackened and scorched leg begins to heal, the flesh breaks through the black and grows over the bone. In a few short seconds, I'm back to normal. I'm not sure how long I'd have to wait before an injury becomes unhealable and I hope there isn't any time limit. But knowing this System, there likely is and I'm simply lucky this time.

"Ah. That's more like it." I say to myself, wiggling and stomping my feet. "Now let's raise some Zombies."

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