With the door open, Sigmir, Adra and I sneaked in, looking around the room after quickly closing the door - a cold draft would be a telling signal for anyone feeling it that something was wrong. We were in a large front-room, something I would call a saloon, sitting-room or main-room, depending on the area I was in. There was a large table, with benches and a large, almost throne-like chair in one part of the room and a stone-hearth against the opposite wall. A few doors were leading further into the house.
A quick assessment told me that we were not alone in the room, in front of the hearth, two sleeping forms were visible. Freezing upon their discovery, I used my magic to make sure they were deep asleep, before sneaking closer and drawing my dagger. Observe told me their levels were in the high forties, so I should easily be able to take care of them. Just before I was close enough to start slitting throats, Sigmir put a hand on my arm, stopping me.
“Don’t. The smell would give us away.” she whispered in my ear.
It was something I had not accounted for, but she was right. At the same time, I did not want to leave them here, only held by a spell that may or may not hold if there was a commotion. No, those two had to die, silently and without spilled blood. Suffocating would work, but it was very likely that they would wake during the process, trying to fight back and making a ruckus. Thinking further, I had an idea.
The dryad I had first tested my collars on, I had managed to snuff her consciousness out, without her making any fuss. In a vegetative state such as that, I had no problem leaving the two out here, maybe ending their suffering on the way out, when it no longer mattered.
Placing my hands on the temples of the first one, I tried reaching out with my darkness magic, feeling for the mind of the Jonari, similar to the way I had done with the dryad. Back then, I had the collar to help me, but right now, the new moon strengthened my darkness magic to a great degree, allowing me to work the same magic, without any strain or external tools.
Using Lenore’s sight as a guiding tool, I let the dark tendrils of my magic invade the core of the Jonari’s being. I felt Lenore’s mind join mine in the attack and felt her alien thought processes merge with mine. It was an interesting, if alien, feeling. Her mind worked nothing like mine, if the parts I felt during the merge were any indication. She had lent me her senses before, but that was always preprocessed by her mind and made suitable for my own mind by the magic that bound us together. Now, it was an unfiltered merge, letting us feel the other’s mind in its primal form.
Her mind was a thing of immense complexity, able to use complex information in ways I would never be able to, as long as it was information her instincts could handle. Flight was one of the things covered, giving me a feeling that she was easily able to fly but completely unable to teach flying, even if someone got wings. The magic we were using at that moment was used in a similar manner.
She did not go after the mind of our victim as I did, her magic attacked something else. When I attacked the mind, the mental image I had was that of a cloud or gaseous ball, connected to the physical form at the skull, the spine and the heart. I was not quite sure why those three points, but if I had to explain my instinct, I would say that the skull, and the brain to be precise, governed conscious thought, the heart governed emotions and the spine governed instincts. Of course there was some overlap and it was probably simply a mental model used by me to help me guide my magic and not rooted in reality. But it worked for me and that was all I needed.
The ball itself was a representation of the mind and the power that mind wielded, in the form of it’s Astral Power. The mind of the dryad I had probed before had been steeped in nature and natural magic, the mind I was probing now had less astral power, a lot less, and it was mostly ‘flavoured’ ice and something I would call ‘physical’ or ‘body’ magic; it felt similar to blood magic, but more encompassing, thus the connection to the physical aspect of one's being.
But anyway, my mode of attack was trying to sever the connections between the mind and body, leaving the mind to slowly dissolve in the background stream of the Astral River. Lenore worked in another way, striking at something I was unable to perceive, trying to knock that something loose so it would be swept away. At least, that was what I got from the way her mind went about the task.
As we worked, I felt a few impulses flash from the mind I was attacking into the connections to the body but I was able to squash those impulses. The body below us didn’t even twitch, giving me the impression that the impulses that I stopped were commands from the mind to the body and vice versa. Without those impulses, there was no fighting back for the body. And in the mental realm, Lenore and I were making quick headway, the connections I was attacking started to fray and Lenore had success with her own attack.
Suddenly I felt the three connections snap at almost the same time, each sending a shockwave through the glowing ball, dimming it with the last reducing the glow completely. At the same time I felt Lenore’s triumph echo in my mind and felt something else fade from the being in front of me.
When I blinked open my eyes, I realised that I had gotten a message that the Jonari in front of me had died and I had gained EXP. A mental question to Lenore told me that what she had done was attack the soul of the being in front of us, knocking it loose and sending it into the cycle of reincarnation. There was just no coming back from that.
With a good way to permanently take the guards out, without attracting attention, we quickly dealt with the second guard before moving on. Sigmir pointed to one of the doors and we carefully sneaked over. Opening it revealed a hallway, leading deeper into the house. Sigmir led us on, before stopping at one door.
“This is the chief’s chamber. I’ve never been in it.” she whispered to us.
Again I carefully tested the door and, feeling no resistance, slowly opened it, revealing a dark room with a large bed against one wall. The room was dominated by that bed, overshadowing what little else there was in the way of furniture. Two chests, a large closet, a small table looking like a nightstand and a footstool, all simply made but sturdy looking, not quite the filled and cluttered rooms I was used to. In the middle of the bed, a singular, large-framed humanoid was snoring in deep sleep. Before any of us approached, I carefully used magic to deepen his sleep, hoping that he was lacking any instincts against a magical attack during his sleep. But if he would wake from a sleep-spell while sleeping, we were screwed anyway, in that case, there was no way we could get close enough to attack without him waking.
After a moment of resistance, the spell took hold and the feedback told me that the chieftain was powerful, stronger than both Sigmir and I combined in terms of level. Attacking him outright would be a quick way to my first ingame death and the loss of Sigmir and Adra. So again, subterfuge would be needed.
Keeping a mental eye on the sleep-curse I had placed on him, I moved closer, making sure that I was not missing anything, for example a bed-companion, when approaching. But no, the chieftain was sleeping alone. Maybe it was part of their custom, maybe something else. Now was certainly not the time to think about giantblood tribal marital sleeping-arrangements.
Thinking of the way I had dealt with the guards outside, I wanted to do the same again. Kneeling on the bed, I placed my hands at his temples and channelled my magic. Just like before, Lenore joined me and then things started to go bad. The mind I was attacking was not that much stronger, at least that was what it seemed like. But it resisted my attacks and the pulsing flashes from mind to body and back were stronger, taking all my mental strength to keep him from simply shaking my attack off and starting the fight in the physical realm. I needed to give Lenore time to do her thing, hopefully, with enough time she would manage to strike at his soul - or so I thought. That thought was shattered after the first attack she dealt, it was repulsed by a raw, undirected but powerful outburst of power, throwing her back and injuring her. She was out of the fight.
The repulsion of Lenore brought a stalemate, I was unable to cause any telling damage, the chieftains mind was powerful enough to resist me but I was strong enough to hold the fight in the mental realm, where I was able to bind him. But of course, that would not last, I was expending mental strength and Astral Power with my binding, just keeping his mind from its normal function.
I had to draw a tiny bit of my mental strength back, just enough to blurt out a single, simple word. “Help!”