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    Yeoldebard
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The Nekromancer - 62. Chapter 62

A torch flickered in the dying light of dusk, Mythara guiding Jakun up to a large building. The cat felt an ominous shiver pass over him, looking up at a rampart of arrow loops and murder holes. Far from being a place of knowledge… this was a place for war…

"Are you sure this is the right place?" he murmured, ears flicking at every sound, every breath or drip of water.

"Positive. I have been here before," Mythara confirmed.

He knocked on a heavy door, a wicket sliding back.

"Who seeks the forbidden fruit?" a woman's voice hissed.

"A dragon in search of love," Mythara replied smoothly, looking at Jakun.

"And your companion?"

Jakun took a deep breath. Secrets in exchange for secrets… that's what they wanted here.

"One who has murdered family for power," he breathed, closing his eyes in shame.

A hand touched the amurrun's shoulder as the wicket slammed shut. A moment later, the door opened silently, Mythara dousing his torch as they entered. Standing to the side of the door was a young woman, her entire body covered in runed tattoos.

"What secrets do you seek?" she asked.

"Undeath," Jakun said quietly.

"The planes," his companion added.

The woman rang a bell, two hooded figures entering the room.

"I will meet you back at our room," Mythara said, flashing an encouraging smile at the catfolk.

Jakun nodded as he was led away by his person. They moved through the fortress, the person opening a locked door.

A lantern was lit, the tattooed man pushing it into Jakun's hands.

"The answers you seek are below."

"Wait… aren't you going to help?" Jakun frowned.

"I only know the upper levels. I have not been initiated into the true secrets yet."

Letting out a quiet sigh, Jakun took the lantern more securely, and began walking down the steps.

Cold, musky air hit him like a brick as he descended, the catfolk slowly realizing his lantern held a glowing rod, not a flame. It made more sense, keeping open flame away from whatever was below.

Even with the magical light, the gloom below made the amurrun shiver. He could see rows of shelving, stretching out into the gloom as he reached the bottom steps. Jakun needed help. If he walked into this maze of a library, the amurrun doubted he would ever find his way back out.

The rustle of a cloak caught his ears, another hooded figure stepping into his light.

"Please dim your lantern. It is pain on our senses," the man requested.

Reaching over, the catfolk turned a wheel on the side of the lantern, the crystal descending into a nest of wool lining until a dim glow was all that remained.

"What is the knowledge you seek?" the man asked, sliding his cloak off his face.

Every inch of his face was covered in minuscule writing, Jakun reading words of ancient Osirion… a dictionary…?

"Undeath. Specifically the ritual for a lich."

He felt Anya step out of him, the man before him blinking in surprise.

"We seek to remove a soul and preserve it in a box," the werewolf added.

"Of course. That is not an uncommon ritual. Follow me."

The man moved into the gloom, Jakun following close behind, afraid of losing him. They walked swiftly through the maze, Jakun doing his best to keep the directions in his mind. With little success.

His guide turned a corner, Jakun following closely. The catfolk gasped as he found himself in a dimly lit room, a sarcophagus laying foremost within the tomb. Hieroglyphs lined the stone, not a speck of dust marring their perfection.

"There's a woman in there…" Anya whispered.

"A lich?" Jakun frowned, looking around for their guide.

Finding no one nearby, the catfolk stepped up to the sarcophagus, reaching for the lid.

"Wait! Let me do it! It might be trapped!"

Frowning at the werewolf, Jakun stepped aside, Anya taking his place. She heaved at the stone lid, muscles visibly straining. Yet the lid wouldn't budge.

"Let me try something," Jakun muttered, holding up a hand. "Nif."

It was a simple spell, no real energy behind it. And yet, the lid nearly flew off, a clattering thud following.

A woman lay in the sarcophagus, skin withered and tight, her eyes gleaming in… amusement?"

She sat up slowly, a painful smile on her face.

"Took you long enough. I've been watching you since you entered the city. You aren't the strongest mage, but you have the most potential I've seen in a while."

Her voice was scratchy, her lips barely moving. Jakun stared in amazement. She looked near perfectly preserved.

"You have not met a lich before," the woman chuckled drily. "What you seek, it is no plaything. It consumes you, heart, body, and soul. You may think your second soul will give you an advantage. I wish to see if you are correct. A professional curiosity, if you will. And you will. You wish for the knowledge I possess, do you not?"

Jakun nodded slowly, his eyes sweeping the inside of the sarcophagus… the lich's phylactery. Precious gems lined the inside, each etched with a tiny Osirion symbol.

"Symbols of death, corruption, alarm. I am protected by the library, but any lich would do well to include magical protections in their phylactery. I add to mine as the ages pass. It gives me something to do as I peruse the library, my reward for gifting myself to the followers of He Who Knows All Forbidden," the lich said. "It is a good reward."

"I never thought of… of protection. I thought removing my soul was the protection," Jakun murmured.

"Oh no. Do you know how I became a lich? I crafted this sarcophagus for a pharaoh. He rejected it, but I had poured my heart and soul into its construction. And I vowed that it would be filled. If not by him, then myself. So I bound myself to it, my blood, sweat, and tears the glue that holds me here. And I make sure none can open my home without my permission."

She smirked at Anya, the werewolf scowling.

"Nonetheless, there was a ritual involved. A requirement of magic and sacrifice. I will give you the ritual. And you will return when it is complete, to satisfy my curiosity."

Copyright © 2020 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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Murdered family for power isn't exactly true, Jakun was no more than an instrument.

Boy, is this a bad idea.

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Just now, drpaladin said:

Murdered family for power isn't exactly true, Jakun was no more than an instrument.

Boy, is this a bad idea.

It may not be true, but it is to Jakun, and that is what matters. Trading in secrets is not the most stable of currencies.

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1 minute ago, Yeoldebard said:

It may not be true, but it is to Jakun, and that is what matters. Trading in secrets is not the most stable of currencies.

I figured as much.

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I love how vivid and different every place is in this story. And how each appearing character adds a little bit of their own to the story and to the narrator but in a much more subtle way than one might expect. ❤️ 

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