Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 374 - A Grimoire of one's Own

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A note from Wutosama

VOTE

With the library looted, Gwen moved on to the smaller rooms, choosing not to overthink.

In her Master's bedroom, she packed away the ornate, hand-carved Elven four-post bed, an enormous fibrous mattress, a dresser, the wardrove, bedstands, two chests of sheets, and countless bric-a-brac once belonging to the couple. These, she figured, could be used to catalyse Divination Magic for finding their owner. There were also dozens of dresses, distinctly Elven in design, as well as pants and suits in the same style worn by the male Elves Gwen had seen in Trawsfynydd.

Comparatively, the guest rooms proved spartan, with little more than empty decor.

When she finished, all but one Storage Ring had been filled to the brim.

Standing in the library, she looked around the room once more.

"… fuck it."

With a gesture and a series of invocations, she conjured a Void Chakram and sliced the hinges securing the portrait of Sobel. Before the painting struck the hardwood floor, Gwen stowed the offending masterwork.

"Ariel! Cali! Come back!" she dismissed the dogs and recalled her Familiars, hoping Sanari wasn't too peeved that she had taken the better part of three hours.


Outside, she found the Hierophant-Initiate engaged in meditation.

When she approached, Sanari's blonde lashes fluttered open, revealing the High Elf's golden irises.

"Are you ready to return to Trawsfynydd?" the Druid enquired, unfazed by Gwen's liberal use of her time. "I fear your sorcery here has caused a disturbance in the District."

"If I am that unwelcome, then let's go." Gwen took a long, lingering look at the real-life Elfhome, fairest of all realms, a metropolis of tree-homes born from the dream of a World Tree. She had finally gotten her glimpse at the Elves of this world; only they weren't the world-weary Lothlórien-kind or the xenophobes of Mirkwood. Beneath the cordial surface shown to outsiders, the Elves of Tryfan harboured an unfathomably cold conspiracy called the "Accord".

Was anyone in London willing to snitch on her host? Gwen mulled with ambivalence. Or would she have to wait to join the Accord one day and be bound by its enigmatic stipulations?

To her disappointment, her return journey down from the Sixth District of Tryfan involved the shortest possible route. From the overhanging branches, Sanari conjured a Tree Striding portal—

And an eye-blink later, Gwen stood in the town square of Trawsfynydd, unceremoniously ejected from the home of her hostess.

Sanari shut the portal behind them, then addressed her with cautious politeness. "Magus Song, shall I escort you to your cabin?"

"Actually." Gwen turned to her guide unapologetically. By now, all desire to explore the holiday town had vanished from her mind. On her digits, the rings' contents were burning red-hot on her fingers, the anxiety melting a hole through her stomach. "Sanari, could you be a dear and shout me a Portal back to London? I have urgent business with my siblings-in-craft."

Sanari blinked in surprise. "Leaving so soon? You are a cherished guest. Lady Solana made that very clear."

"I know, and I am very grateful." Gwen bowed her head slightly. "Please give the Lady my apologies. The matter is urgent."

"Very well." The Druidess willed into being another portal, entwining the vines to form an arched trellis of wood. "Which direction? I can take you as far as the edge of Snowdonia."

"Then put me beside Bangor." Gwen did her best to conjure up a mental map. "They're still cleaning up Triffids. I am sure there's a Teleportation Circle there I can use."

"I do hope you will return to us soon." Sanari activated the portal. She paused for a moment, as if listening to some distant voice, then nodded at her guest. "The Bloom in White says you are forever welcome. If you have more questions about Lord Kilroy or the Accord, Arch-Warden Eldrin would be your point of contact, as will I."

"Tell her Grace I am thankful for her generosity and wisdom." Gwen bowed in the Tree's general direction. "Please do not hesitate to ask if I may be of service to Tryfan. May her bloom never wilt."

"May her bloom be eternal." The Elf made the sign of the blooming flower with her fingers. "I shall await your return, future associate of the Accord."

"Yes, that would be nice." Gwen bequeathed Sanari her most business-like smile before stepping through the threshold. "If I ever find out what it is."


London.
Westminster.

Deep under the parliamentary building, a long-imprisoned Sprite, once a worshipped Demi-being, vicariously watched the world through her Crows. The world she once knew had changed much since her incarceration, so much that any other old God would have perished from confusion and irrelevance.

But not so Morrigan, once Mór-Ríoghain, the foretelling phantom; she who guards the secrets to victory; the crow who is one and who is three. In the past, she had guided the Welkin, the people of the sky and the sea in that land now mapped as Ireland, bringing her folk to victory at Magh Tuireadh, leading the sons of Nemed unto the promised land. There, she taught them the hidden tongues of the Fey and the Álfar so that together with the Tuatha Dé Danann, their coalition would triumph over the Fomorian hordes.

Oh, how she missed those days of glory! Lo! How she longed for the past, where she had slaked her thirst with foe-blood and adorned herself with gore, bathing in the violence directed by her hand.

But all that seemed so distant now, so indistinct that Morrigan could only vaguely recall her abduction by the King called "Hal". Bested by the young monarch's demi-divinity, she had howled as his Crusaders slaughtered her folk and pillaged the home of their flower wives and daughters.

After which, she had suffered the same fate— a fitting end for a Goddess who guided the 'fate' of the red-haired berserkers bawling her name. Without ceremony, her totem was uprooted and moved to London, bound and tied and smothered under the weight of a body of faith powerful enough to banish her ego at a whim.

After that, for aeons, Morrigan had stared into the darkness, knowing nothing of the world's secrets, existing for no purpose other than as a myth to frighten children to bed.

Until one day, she saw the light, as well as her first Ravenport.

"Serve," the man spoke in the old tongue. "Or fade forever."

The old Gods were not like the new ones, haughty and prideful and impassioned by martyrdom.
The old Gods were honest and human and full of desire.
And so Morrigan chose service.

In the beginning, from what she once knew of the followers of the Nazarene, Morrigan had expected a graceless, tedious epoch of servitude. What she received instead was a trove of secret knowledge so vast and so limitless that were her anima not bound to the bedrock of Westminster's holy sanctums, her powers would grow a thousand-fold.

Just how many secrets could one Kingdom hold?

For three centuries, Morrigan laboured in the deep dark, commanding the crows occupying the Tower of London, plumbing the Mageocracy's secrets, growing so bloated on conspiracies that her natural curiosity had grown blunted. Even for a Goddess, the Information Age was a tiresome thing.

Very recently, she had found a new bauble. Her Master, the latest head to adorn the Ravenport line, had directed her eyes toward a rare individual who possessed enough intrigue to warrant her full attention.

A second Sobel.

In the same manner that a Vampire Noble of the Eastern Reaches could measure the vitality of a being at a glance, Morrigan, as per her portfolio, could taste the depth of a being's secrets like a connoisseur savouring aged wine. Though her ability to warp fate had been siphoned from her, she could see the threads of destiny wrap around the girl like a vortex of Void.

From Gwen's accostment by Mycroft to her adventures in Merthyr Tydfil to her elevation of the avian known as Dede, Morrigan had kept her murder of crows close to the Mageocracy's cherished specimen.

The girl's talents were exceptional, and what's more, her body possessed an Essence of one older than even Morrigan— what's more, she freely gave it without care. At the thought of the sorceress' sweet elixir, Morrigan wetted the petals of her scarlet-hued lips.

She couldn't directly interact with the girl. That would break the Geas placed on her by the scions of Norfolk. But a Goddess of mysteries could be very slippery if she wanted to be— especially when she and her contractor shared the same desire to plunder the girl's secrets.

Down in the catacombs under Westminster, a thousand trained Diviners busied themselves filing the lastest missives into the crystal-storage that served as Morrigan's stark temple.

"Go to Mycroft, sweetie," she instructed the closest crow to find the Duke of Norfolk. "Tell him that the girl has returned from Elfhome with more secrets than when she'd entered, and that a missive has arrived from the Bloom in White, expecting his presence within the week."

At Bangor, Gwen took advantage of her privilege as a Class VI War Mage to commandeer the Teleportation Circle to return to Heathrow's ISTC before rerouting to Peterhouse at Cambridge.

There, she flew directly to the Master's Lodge, informing the door keep of her arrival and that she had to make immediate use of the college's LRM Device.

Inside, she proceeded to the private conference room, stopping only to ensure that Lady Grey was not seeking an audience, or that the device was in use.

Presently, it was Tuesday, 1735 in London, meaning it was 0835 in Sydney. The time to call was perfect unless her overworked Brother-in-craft was already in an important meeting.

The brass-bound device blinked, begging her patience, then a green crystal projection indicated that a connection had been made, after which Gunther's chiselled mien came into view.

"Gwen?" Her Brother-in-craft wore a broad smile. "This is certainly an unexpected pleasure. You're calling from Peterhouse?"

"I am." Gwen wasted no time. "I don't know if this Message is secure, so I am going to make it vague and short. I just got back from the Tree of Tryfan after looting Master's century-old home. I've picked up clothes, effects, STUFF, Sobel's old slippers, the works. They're burning a hole in my pocket, but I don't know what to do with them. I NEED you or Allie here to sort through this stuff with me."

To emphasise her desperation, Gwen made full use of her expressive eyes.

Gunther's comprehension was immediate. "How much did you find?"

Gwen held up both hands. She had two Storage Rings on each hand, as well as her looted original.

"Okay, I'll come to London," Gunther said after a moment. "Expect me soon."

"Just like that?" Gwen expressed shock at her Brother-in-craft's composure.

"Tower Masters have diplomatic immunity against such inconveniences," Gunther explained. "Give me an hour to clear matters here in Sydney. I'll arrive before midnight. Can you inform Maxine?"

"I shall," Gwen promised.

"Good. I'll meet you at Peterhouse. For now, go and find Lady Grey. You can trust her with anything relating to Henry. But don't leave the lodge nor speak of this to anyone else."

"Understood. Will Alesia join us?"

"No, as a War Mage like yourself, her travel restrictions take time to lift." Gunther shook his head. "See you soon, little sister."

"See you, brother." Gwen smiled at the sound of the endearing title.

The projection died.

Gwen closed the device, took a breather, then opened the double doors. Immediately outside, she saw the gentle face of the Lady of Ely sitting by the study lounge, sipping a cup of tea with a flawless display of grace and poise.

"Your Ladyship." Gwen bowed slightly. "I have returned from Trawsfynydd."

"In less than forty-eight hours?" the Lady's brows formed the universal symbol for scepticism. From the hint of agitation in Maxine's voice, Gwen guessed that the Marchioness was likely wondering if she had provoked the Elves in some way.

Gwen gestured to the conference room. "Your Grace, can we speak in confidence?"

"Of course, did something upset you?" The Lady's sense for intrigue was vorpal. "Ollie, perhaps."

"Oh shit, Ollie!" Gwen realised she had completely forgotten about her Praelector. "Er, yes. The matter is regarding Ollie."

Lady Grey sighed. "Alright, I can spare a few minutes. Millie?"

Grey's attendant maid bowed her head.

"Push my schedule downward one quadrant. If need be, cancel Lord Braxton's petition. I'll let you know if more time is required."

"Yes, ma'am." The maid read the situation well. Taking command of the entourage, she led the Lady's aides away from the chamber.

Gwen waited for the Lady of Ely to enter first before turning her back and closing the double doors with a click.

From the lodge's two-storey french windows, she could just make out the murder of crows sitting outside, chattering away with their long-drawn "Awwwwws."

Gunther Shultz, first of Henry Kilroy's Apprentices and the Master of Sydney Tower, arrived without pomp. His detour through Heathrow was the only indication that one of the foremost combat Mages in the Mageocracy had dropped into its capital, sending London's various agencies into a frenzy.

His departure from Sydney had been hasty but not without contingencies in place. As the inheritor of Kilroy's most troubling Apprentice, Gunther knew well that a day on which he had to drop everything to Teleport to Gwen's side was inevitable. Even before Gwen had left for China, he had already arranged an army of aides-de-camp to take over his day-to-day duties.

If anything, the test for his secretaries had arrived later than he had imagined. Knowing Ravenport's interest in his Sister-in-craft, and the matter with Edgar, he had anticipated a head-on collision with the Duke of Norfolk. Likewise, the paranoia of Gwen maiming London's blue-bloods had been eating him for some time.

When instead, their prideful princess took the abuse and turned the other cheek for the Exeter twins, Gunther knew the girl he had saved at Blackheath had finally grown up.

Take the present matter, for example. That Gwen did not overreact but calmly returned to Cambridge, then contacted him without delay was a sign of growing wisdom. If so, he could feel at ease, for as her foster sibling, the guilt that came with lacking means and time to guide Gwen personally had gnawed on his conscience.

That was why, when the double doors to the conference chamber at the Master's Lodge opened, Gunther felt immense pleasure at seeing Gwen seated like a lady beside the peerless Marchioness of Ely, compiling a list of the Grot's spoils.

"Gunther!" Gwen lost all lady-like pretence at once, her eyes instantly swelling with moisture.

Gunther allowed the indiscretion, feeling a brotherly joy when the girl dove like an overgrown pup into his open arms.

"Holy hell, I missed you so much." The girl dug her face into his shirt. "Thanks for coming, I can only imagine how crazy your schedule must be."

"It's only been a few months." Gunther grinned despite himself. "From the sounds of it. You're the one who's being busy. Master had a Grot at Tryfan, eh? He never mentioned it."

With some effort, he pulled the clinging girl from his torso.

"Aunt Loftus." He bowed from the waist. The Lady of Ely was as he recalled from their last meeting many years prior— wise and prideful, but also gentle and patient.

"No ceremony." Maxine hand-waved his courteousness. "We're close enough to dispense with all that— and you're a Tower Master now. How about that? The sullen boy who Henry used to bring to dinners is now the Master of millions and the governor of Oceania. The old man would have been proud as punch, Gunther."

"I'd still prefer being Master's Paladin." Gunther felt his chest constrict. "That said, some Paladin I turned out to be. If I had taken greater care…"

"Nonsense!" The Marchioness was as sympathetic as she was tender. "Sobel was a debt that only your Master could have repaid. The fault was Henry's if anyone's at all. If he lived to know that you, Alesia and Gwen would now bear his burden, he would be horrified."

Gunther understood the Lady of Ely as another victim of Henry's untimely passing. In the past, Maxine had been a ward of Henry's like himself; a favour Henry had to repay— though Gunther had always suspected that the famous Marchioness held more than just daughterly affection for the man who sheltered her. Similar to Gunther, Henry had hand-reared Maxine Loftus to prominence amidst the troubled years of her hotly-contested inheritance.

"I can see why you called." Gunther shifted his attention to the mess presently occupying the enormous table. At a glance, he caught the familiar hand-writing of his Master, scribbled here and there over the loose manuscripts. The one closest to him looked at least a century old, hand-composed in the letterbox composition the Tower's Grimoires now imitated.

He retrieved a wayward parchment.

Corpse Explosion
Evocation
Casting Time: 20 Major 7 Minor
Range: Medium
Components: Material, Somatic
Duration: Instant
This copy originates from transcriptions of The Book of Coming Forth by Day. As per the original, this IMS variant offers a near-instantaneous Evocation that draws out the Negative Energies inhabiting a creature after death, creating an eruption of flesh and bone. For the base invocation, see the excerpt attached in Appendix 1C. My colleague, Zulkir Xash Tarn of Cairo, is credited with the base spell's spellshaping add-ons. For chained, empowered, split, repeated and maximised modifications—

Seeing Henry's annotations, Gunther felt awash with nostalgia.

"Interesting choice of research Master was exercising." Gunther replaced the page. "It's not all like this, is it?"

"It's all useful," his Sister-in-craft interpreted for him. "Lady Grey said she would help register any research that is compatible with the Tower's policies."

Gunther turned to their mutual compatriot with polite scepticism.
The Lady nodded, affirming the girl's hopeful tone.

He picked up another parchment.

Bone Shield
Conjuration
Casting Time: 7 Major 2 Minor
Range: Self
Components: Core, Somatic
Duration: Long
The durability of this classic Necromancy spell relies on the material used. Creatures of a higher tier create more substantial barriers than beings of a lower tier. Furthermore, this modified variation is capable of reproducing some of the elemental or physical properties the creature held while alive.

"Would the Tower accept these?" Gunther envisioned Gwen in battle with blocks of bone behaving as reactive armour. In the past, he had fought Skelemancers before. As Creature Conjurers, these summoners were among some of his least favourite foes. Where a Soul Flayer was physically weak to his near-instantaneous beheading, Bone Mages could block his Radiant Lances with Negative-infused armour and shields.

"I think Gwen should be in the right. Most of these are old manuscripts that predate the ban," the Marchioness explained. "Such things exist, here and there, in private collections and libraries. We even have an assortment here in Peterhouse, though untranscribed and useless for Void Magic. If the Shard's willing to accept them into the Grimoire for Gwen to use, then there shouldn't be a problem."

"I wouldn't accept this," Gunther gave his opinion. "Not in Sydney. That's a slippery slope if I am not mistaken."

"Just as well we're in London, then." Lady Loftus pulled up another sheet. "The researchers here are hungrier and more forgiving. We're already sanctioning Necromancers under a cultural pretext, so no point disparaging the spells. Oh, bosh! Don't give me that look, Gunther. We're doing this for Gwen. Here, read this."

The Lady of Ely passed over a leather binder.

Gunther's fingers glided over the rough, skin-like parchment. Where ordinary Spell Books used paper made from Elder-wood sap, Necromancers preferred more exotic materials.

Essence Tap
None Assigned
Casting Time: 243 Major
Range: Medium
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Instant
By invoking the True Name of a creature or Demi-human, the caster may forcibly usurp a portion of its Essence. This Essence may be stowed via the means of a Soul Well (See Appendix 2B), or be used as a spell component by a practitioner of Soul Sorcery. For a surviving target of a successful Essence Tap, secondary effects range from becoming stunned, falling comatose, to losing control over one's corporeal form. For the original invocation, see Soul Tap (Appendix 3A).

"Interesting, no? That's Svartálfar Essence magic," the Lady said. "With some tinkering, its something Gwen could use to increase her capacity and to diversify her skill set."

"I can see that," Gunther remarked to Henry's old ally. "But isn't Gwen receiving instruction from Cambridge?"

"In conventional Spellcraft and spell theory, yes," Lady Grey said, taking the book from his hands to add to the pile slated for submission. "But your sister needs a unique Grimoire of specialised sorcery to supplement her unique physiology. We can't have her subsisting on an impoverished spellbook. You've gone through the spell-making route, Gunther. Do you remember how long it took for Henry to develop your Signature spells?"

"I was hoping the university could take care of that for Gwen," he said.

"Maxwell Brown, among others, will indeed be taking care of it," the Lady said. "Don't fret. We'll make sure these spells are safe for Gwen's use. I doubt you'll like the alternative, such as borrowing Meister Bekker's work. That would demand certain sacrifices on Gwen's part."

Gunther recalled the pasty face of the skinny young man. Though he held no feelings for the hopeful scoundrel, he snorted. "Gwen's too good for him."

"Aww," his sister cooed. "Don't say that, Gunther. Jean-Paul's a good bloke. He's better than he looks."

"Are you close?"

"Closer. We're forming a Void Mage coalition," Gwen boasted. "I think I'll call it the Cabal of the Void. Besides, JP is kind of cute-ugly?"

Lady Grey chuckled. "Stop teasing your brother. I am sure he has someone suitable in mind for his sister. Do you, Gunther?"

"I wouldn't dare." Gunther kept a straight face. "Gwen, do you have a companion in mind?"

"Nope. I'll give it another decade." The girl turned red as a beetroot.

Lady Loftus gave a knowing smirk before reintroducing him to another stash of spells she had categorised. "These are the spells nearest to completion. Henry developed them for Sobel."

Gunther took the half-dozen scrolls and read through them one by one, noting the standouts.

Hydra
Conjuration
Casting Time: 20 Major 7 Minor
Range: Medium
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Until dismissed
This spell will manifest what Elizabeth calls "The Hydra", a creature— or perhaps a portion of a larger "animal" that exists inside the Void that endlessly regenerates if there is enough vitality. We do not know its actual property, nor if the creature is intelligent. When made material in the Prime, the eyeless creature resembles slugs. However, by my observation, the physiology appears closely related to deep trench lampreys found below the Sea of Java. Perhaps they hail from the same source? We know nought about the Void and its properties due to how rarely it naturally materialises. For now, this spell will summon one to six of the things, with no discernible way to control how many slip through the portal. What we do know is that these are voracious worms of perpetual hunger, capable of partially sustaining themselves. Elizabeth says that she can command them to perform rudimentary tasks. Does this mean they can be tamed?

Void Fire
Evocation-Conjuration
Casting Time: 30 Major 51 Minor
Range: Close
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Varies, Channelled
This spell creates a caustic Void flame that grows in size as per the Evocation original, Caustic Flame (See Appendix 1A). This combination of invocations creates a heatless fire formed of Void particles that replicate when made to consume living flesh, particularly high-vitality targets. I intend this variant to be the base spell to a family of new invocations. If one can reduce the consumption rate of the channelled mana, it may be possible to create a hybrid, self-perpetuating Negative Demi-element with the property of Druidic Wildfire or a Djinn's Fire Curse.

Desolation Aura
Evocation-Illusion
Casting Time: 60 Major 21 Minor
Range: Medium
Components: Verbal, Somatic
Duration: Channelled
We've experimented with intensifying the psychological and physiological effects associated with Void manifestations to create an aura field that incapacitates enemies in a large circumference. Presently, in this variation, those caught within melee range suffer Negative Drain sickness.

"Your Master's collection was enormous," Lady Loftus commented while Gunther read. "We found old Magic that the Elves forbade as well. How curious that the old man had kept it in the Grot at Tryfan of all things."

"How old?"

"Old." The Lady gestured to a few volumes bundled in vellum and threaded with silk. "There's a half-translated copy of the Papyrus of Hunefer from the third Dynasty which any High Priest would give their Ibis heads to possess. Henry's annotated the contents. It's over there, take a look…"

Following the Marchioness' direction, Gunther retrieved the wrapt copy of hand-written notes. Gingerly unfurling the old paper, he quickly scanned the contents.

"Is this the wrong scroll?" He turned to the Lady. "There's nothing here."

"Read the first line." Lady Grey wore an anticipatory smirk. "Fourth page."

"The Papyrus of Hunefer: A disambiguation by Sir Richard Karl Lepsis… edited by Henry Kilroy."

"Give it to Gwen to read," the Lady said. "Gwen— read Gunther's page."

Gunther passed the bundle over, noting how much more grown up the girl now seemed. With the pages in hand, Gwen's intelligent eyes scanned the content, and then she began to read.

"Okay, it says… Soulfire Strike, er… no School, untranslated, range is Medium. 'This ancient form of Necromancy ignites the Essence tied to the caster's physical body, or a prepared source, to create Soulfire. A large enough volume can ignite the Astral Essence of all beings within its radius."

"Really?" Gunther took the parched from the girl's hands, then read the lines carefully. In his eyes, the text remained a dry-reading of history.

"Detect Magic—"

Nothing.

"Tongues—" He activated another Divination staple.

Still, he saw nothing of note.

"True Seeing!"

There were three layers of illusion on the scroll, but no spells.

"How are you reading this?" he asked the giggling girl.

Gingerly, Gwen pulled her blue-dark hair into a ponytail, revealing to him a slender neck with three Ioun Stones embedded against the ridge of her spine.

"Master's Translation Stone?"

"That's right." The corner of Maxine Loftus' mouth curled. "What an ingenious method! The residual magic from the inscription overpowers the illusion, so it's undetectable. The illusion itself requires the Ioun Stone to translate, so even knowing there's an illusion there wouldn't help."

"Master had his ways." Gunther patted Gwen on the head, making her cover her neck. "What else are you hoping to submit?"

"I found a spell that 'conjures' Wraiths by using the Essence from recently deceased Magical Creatures. There's another one that 'restores' a companion, I think, from death. That one's Egyptian in origin. It says the spell was intended for a cat…"

Gunther didn't know whether to be offended or appalled. "That's unquestionably Necromancy."

"There exist sanctioned variations already," Lady Loftus reminded him. "We'll let the Shard's prudes judge for themselves. Either way, something like this must be registered to prevent future troubles. You know how pedantic they can be about unsanctioned spellbooks."

Gunther grunted, feeling ambivalent about the Lady's nonchalance.

"Henry also dabbled in Demi-human Shamanic magic." Loftus pointed to another pile. "Those were also hidden. They look like they're derived from the Greenskin Totemcraft from the Middle period. Henry's research into Void sorcery did not discriminate between sources."

"There's this spell." Gwen's green eyes gleamed. "It's amazing. Through this ritual, you ingest a potion mixed with blood from your mates. When active, the spell pools the collated vitality of the whole group. In the original, the weakest member of the party dies when the group takes damage or loses vitality— but Master made it so that it is possible to redirect that damage to the strongest member of the group. He was trying to utilise the spell so that the drain from Void Sorcery could be spread out and mitigated. I think it can be altered so I can use Cali's vital store instead."

"You're putting yourself in danger," Gunther noted with a frown. "Magic like this offer endless temptation."

"I should remind you, Gunther, that Gwen is the hope of all Void Mages in the Mageocracy," Maxine defended her ward. "Besides, she's been doing just fine, despite these temptations. Her new spells could be the beginning of a solution to resolve the vitality problem of other Void Mages. You know the University has been trying to find a reliable method for a long time. Henry's trove isn't something to be buried. Some of these spells Gwen can hoard, others we have to share. Whatever the case, there won't be another opportunity to mitigate decades of research like this."

"So, Necromancy from the Great War, Shamanism from the Steppes, Svartálfar Druidism, Egyptian Death Rites..." Gunther pointed to the rest of the unsorted stash. "What else?"

"We also found Eastern Witchcraft and Sanguine Thaumaturgy." Gwen's eyes watched him pleadingly, hoping for his acceptance.

"Blood magic?" Gunther's mind conjured forth some very vivid, and very unpleasant memories of hard-fought campaigns in Eastern Europe, where most of the surviving Necromancers from the Great War had holed up in their irrespective strongholds. "Do you mean Vampiric Thaumaturgy?"

"There's a spell that utilises vitality to make expendable barriers, kind of like Bone Shield, but much more subtle," Gwen hastily spoke. "The crazy part is that you don't have to expend your vitality— you can use your foe's, like from Magical Creatures and such. Master was researching another one called the Sanguine Mantle—"

"… I know that one." Gunther sighed at the girl's excited face. "It's a horrible spell that creates an armour of blood that crystallises and hardens around the user's body. It also heals the caster's wounds by replenishing their vitae."

"Only now Master's made them accessible through the IMS!"

"Impressive, yes." Gunther bit back his immediate rebuke. "But the implication..."

"Master said that Magic was a tool." Gwen's expression spoke of her great expectations. "He said 'It's the spell of the heart that murders, not the spell of the hand'. Do you remember that one, Gunther?"

"I do," Gunther recalled the old man's aphorism.

"If these spells can be made viable through the IMS," Gwen said slowly. "And the Shard is fine with me using them; then they're just tools. Like Master said, 'It's the abuse of magic' we should fear, not its 'use.' Master left us these spells, and I am in dire need of a unique Void Grimoire. I think Master would have taught me these invocations anyway. I—"

"Do as you will." Gunther halted his sister's tirade. He did not need to be convinced, for he had no doubt his Master would have left the bulk of his research to Gwen, as she had supposed. "What you practice is your freedom, sister, and my job isn't to act as a gatekeeper. That said..."

Just to drive the point home, Gunther hardened his gaze with a mote of Radiance. "In Master's absence, I shall act as the disciplinarian. If you abuse his legacy..."

He left the rest unsaid.

"I won't disappoint you, Gunther," the girl promised.

"I know you won't." Gunther patted her head once more, wondering what Alesia would have said in his place. "Use Master's legacy well, little sister. When the time comes, you'll be the one to take back everything he ever gave to Sobel."

 

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Paper back in near future


Satiate yourself while you wait with Metaworld-Meta-fics :

Strictly Cali An islander's Meta-journey Strategic Magic The Strange Life of an Elf From Sydney The Rise of a Magi - Empires of Old
"Strictly Caliban" From the always catty @Wandysama
"An Islander's Meta-Journey" from young gun @Bartimeus
"The Mysteries of Fudan, and Other Rumors From the Metaworld" by @valderag
"Strategic Magic" by @kjoatmon
"The Strange Life of a Quarter-Elf From Sydney" by @Izetta_Fleur
"Rise of a Magi" by quacky @Rhein
"The Chronicle of a Null Mage" by Snow AKA @Warior1411


Metaworld Audiobook : 

AGROSQ Audio 


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For theorycrafting, world building, Dede, and meta-brew Roleplaying! 
Thank you Wandysama & Boneless Chicken et al for all the vote pics! 
 


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About the author

Wutosama

Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

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