I walked into the main chamber, mystic vision active. I wasn’t about to get taken by surprise by a mage. The first impression was awe inspiring. The entire floor was covered in rune inscribed circles that made the transmutation circles in the alchemy guild look like a child’s doodles. There was a massive crystal tapering to a point entering from the ceiling, centered above a stone altar. The images on the altar were that of Thanatos bound in chains, as a crypt discharged an unending line of skeletons. The pictures were an illusion though, as they were truly a wildly complex calligraphic amalgamation of runic script. This room must have been the result of centuries of magical research.
I couldn’t see what was on the altar, but there was a figure that practically glowed with mana working on something. “Well? Don’t keep me waiting. What was the disturbance and did you fix it?” The figure barked.
“I wouldn’t be too worried about it.” I said calmly, “Your guards tried their best but in the end, well, they just went to pieces.”
The figure twirled around at the sound of my voice. “Who are you?” It snarled.
“Nothing to worry about really. Unless, of course, you have been breaking taboos. Have you been? Breaking taboos that is?” I asked, seeming curious as I looked around the room. As I did so, I casually aimed my crossbow at the center of a blob of magic off to my left, while still talking to the illusion in front of me. “Well? Are you the one who is desecrating the bodies of heroes?”
“And if I am? What will you be doing about it?” it sneered.
“This.” I said calmly, firing the bolt and getting a pained wheeze in return. I quickly drew my melee weapon and ran towards the now visible body of the necromancer, who had a bolt buried in his stomach. With a twitch of his hand, several bone shards flew in my direction. I smashed the one that would have taken me in the chest with my hammer, but the others buried themselves into my shoulders. Grunting, I still managed to slash the necromancer across the chest as he stumbled backward, eyes wide that I would take a portion of his attack in order to come in close.
“What, never actually had to fight for your life before?” I asked, taunting him. At his glare, I telegraphed a massive backhanded swing at his head, happy that he ducked the blow and lowered his guard.
“Some warrior, I can see your attacks from miles awooof.”
“[Mana shockwave].” I interrupted him, as I channeled a mana blast from my left fist into his ribcage, feeling at least two of the bones break. As he was sucking his breath in pain, I lowered my scythe behind his left leg, and bracing his body against my shoulder, slashed across his hamstring.
“Aaaah, you bastard!” He cried, stumbling. Before I could charge in again, he instant cast a spell. “[Prison of Bone]!” Spears of rib bones encased me, and I quickly started working on one with an acid potion and smashes from my hammer. As I was making my bid to escape, he pointed a palm at the crystal above us.
Forces of shadow,
Bound by my soul.
Recharge now this flesh,
To make me whole.
Once I managed to smash my way free, I saw a massive torrent of dark energy leaving the crystal and flowing into the necromancer’s hand, refilling his life bar. Well, since he wasn’t paying attention, “[Keen edge].” I murmured, trying not to distract him, before removing his hand at the wrist.
“AAAAaaaaaaahhh, my hand! I’ll kill you! You will serve for eterniaaaaagh.” As he was cradling his wrist and yelling at me, I punched him in the throat. It was oddly satisfying, seeing him stopped mid tirade. Distracted by the pain in his wrist and his struggle to breathe, he didn’t even try and move out of the way of the [Mana shockwave] I unleashed into his knee, dropping him to the ground in agony. I had to be careful now, as his life was already under a third.
“Ma, My minions, to me. Ya, Your mas, master is in, in danger!” He managed to croak out, then kept his eyes trained on the doorway. I saw the light of hope in his eyes, and figured Lolth would enjoy me crushing it as I realized it was the skeleton who had been helping me this whole time.
“Too bad, little necromancer. That one isn’t yours, you haven’t broken him yet.” As he turned his eyes to me, widening in panic, I added a little more salt to his wound. “Did you really think I wouldn’t take the time to clear out all of your minions before fighting you? Those disturbances you felt earlier were me and my friend there destroying your army.” As I finished taunting him, the skeleton leaned over and punched the necromancer in the jaw. As he started to raise his greatsword, I interrupted him.
“Wait for a second, friend. This one here has angered a lot of people, gods included. Lolth has asked that I prolong his death for at least ten minutes. The last blow also needs to be struck with this dagger.” I said, pulling it out of my inventory. My ally nodded his acceptance, and I poured a bit of healing potion on his stump of an arm to stop his bleeding.
“Wait, wait, WAIT! You don’t have to do this! I can give you anything you want! I know ancient magics that those curmudgeons in the mages guild can only dream about!”
“You should stop now. Your babbling is pathetic. You work with death all the time, at least meet yours with some dignity.” I said, and as he opened his mouth to reply the skeleton kicked him in the jaw. “Feel better?” I asked, and he nodded in return.
A short while later, and I had the feeling that it had been long enough. “Ok friend, I think it’s been long enough. I do hope you have enjoyed feeling helpless, your life in the hands of someone else. I imagine it is a fraction of what those souls you have enslaved upon reanimation felt.” Nodding to the skeleton, I watched as he impaled the necromancer through the stomach, and slowly twisted the blade. I let his life bleed well into the critical territory, before slamming the dagger through his heart and ending his life. Once again, there was a light show as the blue soul of the necromancer was torn screaming silently from his body and consumed by another of the gems on the dagger.
“Well, you have been avenged my friend. Once again I thank you for all your help. Is there anything I can do for you?” At the shake of his head, I asked, “Well, if you want you can accompany me to the temple of Thanatos in the kobold city. Maybe they will know of a way to return your soul and purify your remains.” His head perked up at that, and I could see the flames of hope rekindled in his eyes. “Of course it’s fine. Thanatos is the god of death after all. I’m sure he will be able to send your soul back to whatever afterlife you have earned for yourself.” Patting him on the shoulder, I bent down and looted the necromancer. He was surprisingly loaded, giving me a book of shadow bolt, a book of bone javelin, and a cloak of darkness that boosted mana regen and shadow magic damage. It was just too bad that he didn’t have anything Jon could have used for a staff for his fetish. I also got a popup from Lolth.
Divine quest completed!
Lolth is pleased with your dedication to drawing out the death of the necromancer, especially since you let him know that it was by her request. She finds your healing of his wounds to prevent premature death well in line with the finest of her torturers, and applauds your crushing of his spirit. It takes a truly sadistic soul to dangle the promise of aid and freedom, and crush it ruthlessly with the truth in such a bland manner. Letting slip that Thanatos himself was looking forward to his death? Perfection. Should you wish it, Lolth will allow you to join her church. She won’t even require you to abandon Thanatos.
Draw out the death of the necromancer, making it last a minimum of ten minutes
Standing offer to join the ranks of Lolth’s church.
Respected Foe status with all drow. Should a contract be taken out on your life, you will be warned that they are coming and how many times you will have to die.
After reading the prompt, I leveled up. FINALLY! I hit max level! Though I was excited for that, and the prospect of evolving, I was practically shitting myself from the offer from Lolth. On the one hand, getting a personal invitation into a church by a deity was HUGE. Of course, I would be one of the few non drow in the church, and I had no doubt that I would be sorely lacking in the political acumen to maintain a position within the church. Drow practically invented political games, and there was no way I could perform on that level. Now, how do you kindly turn down the Queen of Spiders on her offer? Definitely not straight flattery, but perhaps a flattering truth.
“This is such an unexpected offer, Lolth. Please forgive me, but I am afraid that I would be unsuitable for your church. Though I truly appreciate your offer, I’m sure you would swiftly find me lacking, especially in the political webs that your drow so effortlessly weave.” Fully expecting a divine smiting, I was glad when nothing happened.
“Ok, friend. We need to do one last thing before heading home.” I said to the skeleton. “There should be something hidden here, the source of all the mana to run this. Thanatos has said that the necromancer didn’t have enough to run the ritual, and after seeing part of it I agree. See if you can find anything out of place.” As we both started looking around, the search seemed futile. There were no hidden caches, no mana flowing into anything. The altar had a residual glow, but it wasn’t directed anywhere, just sort of hanging out. When I deactivated mystic vision, one of the glyphs that was on the walls disappeared. Tilting my head, I reactivated it, and saw it reappear. Turning around, I saw five glyphs. Two were on the north wall, bracketing the entrance. One was in the middle of the south wall, and the remaining two were almost ¾ of the way to the south end of the east and west walls. I walked around, touching each one and sending a little mana into each. The first one that reacted was the one to the west of the door. I went to the one on the other side, wanting to complete a clockwise circle, but when I added mana I got a gentle shock and both glyphs deactivated. Oh, so it is a certain pattern?
Moving clockwise, the southern glyph was the first one to stay activated. Ok, it looks like if you go clockwise three glyphs, or counterclockwise every other glyph, you get the pattern. Northwest glyph, south, northeast, west, and finally the eastern glyph to finish. Thinking through my head, viewed from above it would form a pentagram. Once all the glyphs were glowing, lines extended forming the pentagram, the altar in the middle. The glow spread down from the altar, and a spiral staircase descended, circling the altar. “I think I found it.” I said, and my skeletal companion stared at me like I was an idiot for stating the obvious, before making an ‘after you’ gesture.
Bio: I'm a chemist that gave writing a try, and loved the results. Everything is mostly for fun right now, though I might try and get some things published eventually. Certain traits of my daughter have made it into bits of my stories, and she sometimes keeps me company when we both have trouble sleeping.