Seated next to Norg and Carmine, Solus was feeling very uncomfortable as he was listening to Drys and Vingria argue. From his observations, Vingria seemed an emotionally unstable zombie that had a tough time keeping in control of herself.
“I know that I said I would wait, but we needed more warriors during the last wyrm raid. Besides you were not here when those Sigmitons attacked, how can you possibly say it was unwarranted when you have no idea the peril we were in!" Vingria yelled before continuing in a more subdued tone. "Besides, you have to agree my evolution is both strong and pretty, right?!” Looking at Drys, Vingria flexed her arms, showcasing her new form.
Ignoring her antics, Drys continued. “So, you are telling me that one warrior made a difference? That makes no sense."
Shaking his head, as if to remove unwanted thoughts, Drys sat back down in his chair. "Enough, I am not here to fight you about this. We found Grinder hiding out in the canyon behind the city with a large group of his minions. Besides this, I need to inform you about what happened while we were at the potential hunting grounds.”
Solus yawned, an action he had learned shortly after his evolution, and one that he enjoyed immensely without knowing exactly why. Noticing movement next to him, he looked over and saw Norg was also yawning. They had listened to Drys’ retelling of the entire trip, including the part where they had met Solus, Norg, and Silt, and even Norg had gotten fed up. Especially after being told that he couldn't interrupt or add information to the story for what seemed like the hundredth time. During the telling, Vingria’s happy vibe had slowly changed to one of seriousness, and she was now sitting still, listening and asking the occasional question.
“And then we arrived back at Skulltown.” Drys said as he wrapped up the story.
Vingria stayed quiet, only raising her hand to stop Carmine who had stood up from his chair from speaking.
Solus was almost wondering if he should try sleeping in the hard bone chair when Vingria finally spoke again.
“Solus, can you answer some of my questions?” Hearing his name, Solus jerked upright looking at Vingria.
“Yes.” He replied, wondering what she wanted to know after all the things Drys had already told her.
“What more can you tell me about Silt? Do you know anything besides what Drys told me?” Vingria asked Solus, as she observed him with piercing eyes.
Thinking for a while, Solus retold everything he remembered of the swift, armored, white skeleton. When he got to the part where Silt had told him how a female skeleton had awoken him, Vingria face changed abruptly, and the look of rage and hate caused Solus to stop mid-sentence.
“You never told me about this.” Drys commented from the side.
“Is this important information?” Solus said as he wondered what part of his story got both Vingria and Silt so worked up.
“Yess…, this means that besides Grinder there are now two, or perhaps three if we include Onrig, of her minions here. ” Vingria said hissing the first word.
“Her? What kind of weird name is that?” Norg said, wiping some drool from the corner of his mouth.
Looking at the other zombie, Vingria shook her head. ”That's not a name. I am talking about the skeleton that raised me. We don't know what her name is, but she was the only female skeleton we have heard about so far. And she remembers the past.”
Solus head snapped up again, looking at Vingria. The past? The same past he knew about from his gifted memories? “How can she possibly remember the past?” Solus uttered.
Giving him a look of wonder, Vingria responded. “I know only small bits and pieces, but when the previous owners of this world left, they removed all of our kind. But they missed one. Don't ask me how because I don't know, but one of the original undead managed to survive until today. She woke me up about a year ago and taught me things nobody else knows. “
Solus looked at Vingria, wondering why she seemed afraid. “You said you thought Silt is one of her minions? Why do you think this? And if you got awoken by her, shouldn’t you be one of her minions too?” He commented after it had been silent for a while.
“I am NOT HER MINION” Vingria yelled at the top of her lungs, spittle send flying towards Solus.
Solus’ mouth fell open as he looked at her. He was starting to feel uncomfortable.
Vingria sighed after her outburst and looked at the ceiling for a moment before continuing. “She is dangerous. She wants to be in control of everyone and everything. At one point she wanted me to add some new pattern to my manafield. Due to some things that happened I arrived late when the others had already finished. After they had added the pattern, they obeyed every one of her commands. I managed to get away, but they followed me with the orders to end me. Running through this infernal wasteland for a long time I finally found this valley. Along the way, I managed to find more awoken ones and even awoke a few myself, like Drys here. And I decided to make a place where we can be safe.” After her long speech, Vingria became quiet, and it was Drys who took over.
“This has been enough information for everybody for now. I will bring you to a room where you can rest and sleep until tomorrow. ” Drys said, his voice seeming to have even less emotion when compared to Vingria’s intense speech.
Turning around, Drys headed towards another door waiting for a moment so Solus and Norg could catch up to him.
“Wait! You, Norg? Leave your arm I will have someone look at it, one of the bonemenders might be able to reattach it. Come and find me tomorrow morning and it should be ready for you.” Vingria said, walking over to Norg one hand outstretched.
“Hah, so at least one good thing will come from this!” Handing over his severed arm to Vingria, Norg grinned at her.
“Ow and one more thing. Drys, next time you bring them here, have them wear some armor or clothing. For some reason, it annoys me to see them walking around like that.” Vingria said as she looked over Norg, lingering at some parts longer than others before snorting in disgust.
Looking confused, Norg followed after Drys who confirmed he would take care of it. They walked through many long corridors and finally up a flight of stairs that resembled a ribcage, to arrive at a large circular room with small doors evenly spaced around.
“Everyone of these doors leads to a small room, pick one for yourselves. I will be back with some armor before the morning. Don't forget to thank Vingria for it later because normally it would take anywhere from two hundred to three hundred manaorbs to get a set of armor. ” Drys said before turning around and leaving.
Solus looked around, feeling tired. “Let's go find a room then. I'm not sure about you, but I’m going to try that sleeping thing again.” Then he walked towards the left and pushed open the first door, hearing Norg grunt in response. Stepping inside, he saw he was in a small room with eye socket-like windows at one end and a rectangular white bed made of bone at the other side. Looking out of the windows showed him that he was on the third floor and that it was dark outside. Able to see across most of the buildings, he saw guards patrolling the edges of town. After observing them for some time, he turned back to the bed and laid down. It was hard and uncomfortable, but at least there were no stones on it.
Looking at the ceiling, Solus recalled what had happened since he evolved, and realized that this was the first time that he was by himself again, having time to reflect on what had happened. Recalling his actions, he found that he had been acting solely on his new impulses and feelings rather than on his previous, more thought out, planning. Thinking about this, he understood that although he loved all the new sensations things could have turned out very different. Recalling Silt, he wondered if the skeleton was indeed a minion from an undead left behind from an ancient world. Somehow he found it easy to believe, perhaps because of the knowledge he had about the past, or maybe because his new feelings made it seem like a logical thing. Letting his mind wander for a while a thought suddenly jolted him wide awake.
For the first time since evolving Solus called up his status window. Inspecting the information in front of him, he was disappointed to see no changes besides a substantial increase in his manafield. He wondered what had made it reach 371, almost four times what it had been before his evolution, and guessed it might have something to do with the wyrm battle in the city. Besides his manafield, only his intelligence had increased and was now nine. Looking at the mainly unchanged attributes, he decided he needed to take more time to collect manaorbs and wondered if Norg still had those small ones in his body. Determined to ask his companion about it the next day, he judged there was nothing more he could do now, so he closed his eyes and let his mind drift off.
Noise. Loud, annoying noise. Grunting, Solus rolled over on the hard bed as he slowly woke up, remnants of dreams fading from his hazy mind. Opening his eyes, he noticed it was still dark inside the room and looking over to the window he could only see a faint red glow starting to illuminate the horizon. Sitting up Solus stretched his arms, before trying to figure out what the noise was. Finally completely ridding himself of his sleep, he recognized the sounds of battle coming from outside. Jumping off the bed, Solus ran to the window to see what was going on.
Shady figures, barely discernible with his zombie-eyes, were running through the city, chasing and fighting each other.
“What is going on...” Solus muttered to himself.
Looking towards the city border, Solus saw that the most intense battle was happening there, and only once in a while one of the attackers managed to slip by the line of defenders to enter Skultown. Looking beyond the city border showed him that there were still more figures rushing over and the defensive line would probably crumble when they arrived. Turning around, he walked out of the room, stumbling over a small pile of armor that was lying in front of his door. Picking it up, Solus noticed Drys had left him some lower body armor, and he wondered why there wasn't anymore and why the only piece was for his legs. He would have prefered something to cover the vulnerable parts of his body. Hearing the sounds of battle increasing, he realized that now wasn’t the time to ponder the proper armor choice of Drys and tried putting on the armor. Finding that slapping it on didn't work and he couldn't absorb it in his skin either, after looking closely he eventually noticed there were holes for his legs in the armor.
After two failed attempts he finally managed to equip the leg armor with the right side facing forward. Rising and looking at his legs he saw that the pants were only covering him till just below the knee. Inspecting it with his fingers, he recognized the material. It was the same bonemail that he had seen when he had entered Skulltown. It was reinforced with boneplates that covered the upper parts of his legs and knees. Squatting a few times to test the flexibility of the armor, he noticed that it only slightly impaired his movements. Again wondering about the location of the clothing, he supposed that if he had to fight really small enemies it made some sense.
Done with pondering about clothing issues, and hearing ever increasing noise coming from outside, Solus looked towards the door of Norgs room. Heading over he saw it was open, but after looking inside, he found the place abandoned. Wondering where his fellow zombie had gone, he turned around and left the room, moving down the staircase. Arriving at the lower floor, he entered a hallway and looked around as he tried to recall the route Drys had taken. Walking forward through the maze-like building he came to a four-way crossroads. Looking left he was pretty sure that that was the direction he had come from but the battle sounds could be heard clearer from the two other paths, especially the middle one. Thinking about Norg’s and Carmine’s battle lust he guessed that they would be in the thick of it, so he headed down the middle corridor.
The narrow hall ended in a square stair house that went down until Solus was sure he was on ground level again. Reaching the exit, he arrived at a room that appeared similar to where he had met Vingria, lacking only the chairs and a table. Walking towards the direction of the battle, he arived at what seemed to be the last room with a door made of ribs barring the exit. To the side was another opening leading to a bone workshop of sorts.
Glancing inside the room, Solus noticed various crafting tools on a rack on the wall. The instruments appeared to be used to cut and shape bone, and he wondered why Skulltown had them. With boneshapers that could work bone into any shape and form that they desired, it seemed somewhat useless to him. Noticing bone construction parts and dust littering the floor, Solus guessed that whoever it was that had used the place had left in a hurry and never came back. Just when he was about to turn around and go, he saw a small glittering coming from between the grey dusty bone fragments littering the floor. Curious, Solus walked over and uncovered one of the crafting tools had fallen to the ground. Picking it up, he saw it was a heavy one-handed hammer with a long handle that was completely made of a dull metallic substance. Although seeming not that old, it was worn and haggard and of poor craftsmanship. The head was crooked, and the handle slightly bent with deep scratches running along its length. The only shiny part it had, the part that had made it stand out of the dusty rubble, was where the hammer would impact its intended target. Bobbing it up and down in his hand and waving it around a bit, he noticed the pleasant weighty feeling. It felt massive and realizing what would happen if he hit someone with it Solus decided this would suit him very well as a weapon. Clenching his fist around the hilt, he turned around and left the room. A low, menacing chuckle emanated from his chest as he strode off eyes blazing, ready to test his new toy.
“Destroy them before more show up! Hurry already, we need to go and help defend the city to prevent more from entering!” A small, stocky green and yellow zombie screamed in a high pitched tone.
Hammering down at two Sigmitons was a dark gray, lightly armored skeleton, a spear sticking out of its ribcage. It was at that moment ramming a large bone club into the side of the Sigmiton that was pulling on the spear.
“Stop yelling and start helping.” The skeleton projected weekly, dodging another spear that was aimed at its skull.
“What help? I'm not some numbskulled fighter I'm a boneshaper! Now stop wasting time and finish him. You need to bring me to the main battle.” The annoying voice of zombie screeched out in reply.
Cursing the zombie in his mind the skeleton tried to finish the Sigmiton he had knocked down, but it rolled away nimbly. Cursing his enemy and the zombie alike the skeleton narrowly dodged another spear attack.
The fighting continued for a while, and the zombie kept getting more vocal in its demands that the skeleton would hurry up when a loud crashing sound came from one of the nearby buildings. Turning towards the noise, the combatants saw a Sigmiton crumble into an unmoving heap on the ground, leaving a cracked hole in the wall behind it. From the shadow next to the building a figure emerged that headed towards the two startled Sigmitons. It was a tall, grey and wide shouldered zombie, only wearing armor on its legs. Short green hairs covered parts of its arms, chest and the top of its head while a pair of golden eyes were fixated on the two Sigmitons. With a shield on one arm and wielding a greyish hammer in the other, it appeared capable and dangerous.
“About time we got some backup! Hurry up and deal with this mess so I can head to the frontlines.” The other zombie screeched, as he noticed the hammer wielder head towards the Sigmitons.
Stopping in his footsteps, Solus shot the other zombie an annoyed look. He wondered how he should react to the provocation. The other was apparently trying to make him do its bidding, and from watching the combat before he knew that the zombie had never stepped up to help the skeleton that was defending him.
“.. Why are you looking at me? Don't you know who I am? If you ever want more armor than those scraps you have on you better do as I say!” The boneshaper said a sneer covering his face.
As annoyance turned to anger, Solus gritted his teeth. He hadn’t felt this mad for a while now, and he started walking towards the source of his feelings.
“Hey! What do you think you are doing, don't come over here, if you harm me you will regret it!” The zombie was backing up now, sounding panicked and scared.
The skeleton stepped forward, blocking Solus’ path, trying at the same time to keep an eye on the Sigmitons. “Don’t harm him because it won't do anybody any good. He just needs more time to adapt to his new evolution. Besides we need him at the front lines.”
“Are you sure? He would have looked on as you were destroyed without lifting a finger. What good could he possibly do?” Solus finally said his deep voice a stark contrast with the high pitched boneshaper.
“I understand why you ask, but yes, I am sure.” The skeleton replied.
Grunting, Solus turned around and startled everyone by dashing towards the Sigmitons. Before the smaller skeleton’s had a chance, Solus arrived in front of them, slamming his shield into the first one. As it was still flying through the air, Solus brought his hammer down on top of the other skeleton that tried to dodge. Using all the strength in his arm, Solus turned the downwards swing to a sideways one and crushed the skeleton’s torso. As many small bone fragments scattered around, the skeleton dropped to the floor, a manaorb rolling out of its broken skull. Picking it up, Solus tossed it to the skeleton. “Keep this for me, or find me something to store it in!”
The skeleton remained silent, standing next to a now deadly quiet zombie, mouth wide agape and shock obvious on its face.
Walking towards the last Sigmiton, Solus noticed that the collision with the wall had broken one of its legs. Looking down on it for a moment, Solus than pounded it with his hammer until it stopped moving. Tossing another manaorb to the still silent skeleton, he walked towards them.
“Ok, now show me to the frontlines, I’m looking for some friends, and they are probably there!”