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  • Year Two: “Victor Dalton and the Archdevil’s Chambers.”

“This is an excellent idea for an artifact,” Isabelle Maure said. “But without Hell’s Prime Contract to which all souls are bound, it will never work. You will need to summon and convince all demons of the Ars Goetia.”

“Can you teach me?” Victor asked, waiting for the foul price she would certainly ask.

“Yes,” she sensually crossed her legs. “But not for free.”

“I have nothing to offer,” Victor began his well-oiled speech. “But my body and soul!”

“Then strip.”


“... and that is how you animate a flesh golem,” Camilla told Victor, as the necromancer sewed dozens of corpses into a single giant. “As you can see, while the process is similar to animating zombies, the crossing of necrotic streams makes it much more difficult…”


“You call that a deathtrap?” Deathjester complained, after examining the poisoned bloody spikes. “You aren’t supposed to give the captive an escape route! Again!”

What? That was thirty of them so far! How many trapped hallways would Victor have to design before he gained a level in [Architect]?


Congratulations! For judiciously training your soul-fu, you earned a level in [Reaper]!

 

+30 HP, +1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA, +1 LCK

 


  • Year Three: “Victor Dalton and the Half-dead Matador.”

“Maure shall not be sent overplane!” the specter of Brandon Maure shouted, having stolen enough life energy from Isabelle to regain some amount of corporeal substance.

“How could you do that to your own mother?” Victor said, disgusted. Cock-blocking him was one thing, but that part was beyond irredeemable!

“She is my mother, my property! I do what I want with it!”

“This will be a true test of your necromancy skills,” Camilla told him, putting her hands on his shoulders. “Remember what I taught you… use your soul… channel your spirit...”

“Dalton! For sheathing your sword where you shouldn’t have, you shall perish by Maure’s own!”

“Like Happyland I will!” Victor replied, spellcasting with his scythe. “I will send you back where you belong, Braniño… to your mother’s basement!”


“You saved my life back then,” Goblina told him, after catching him in a hallway. “You could have let Jack Frost freeze me to death, but you didn’t. Why? I don’t understand!”

“It’s just…” Victor shook his head. “After years of intense academic rivalry, I guess… I guess I consider you a friend.”

“Even after I tried to poison you? After I burned your homework?”

“Forget it, Goblina,” Victor replied. “It’s Scholomance. It’s weird.”

The goblin struggled to grasp the concept, for a while. “I guess… I guess we could form an overlord alliance?” she said, using terms she understood. “We take out all the competition for valedictorian, and then we fight for the post in the last year! What do you say?”

She offered her tiny hand.

Victor shook it. “Deal.”


 

Congratulations! For exorcising Brandon Maure’s spirit from his mother’s bedroom and forever grounding him, you earned a level in [Reaper]! You earned the [Vicious Ankou] Class Perk!

 

+10 SP, +1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA

 

[Vicious Ankou]: You steal the future of those you kill. Whenever [Helheim] traps a soul in your Scythe, you gain immunity to [Aging] for one year (multiple victims stack). The corpses of your victims age to dust after extraction of the soul; this is a [Time] effect.

“Guys, I’m immortal!”

“Shush!” Goblina told him, as she finished reading the Book of the Wicked, while the tentacled librarian glared at them both. “I have an [Eldritch Philosophy] exam tomorrow.”

“Sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of my ill-gotten eternal youth!”

The library’s books wailed in response to his bragging, much to Goblina’s annoyance.


  • Year Four: “Victor Dalton, and the Goblin Princess.”

Chocolatine de Gevaudan cannot answer your summon right now.

 

Please try again later.

Again? Did the time anomaly interfere with his Perk, or had something gone wrong in Murmurin? He had tried to contact people for months, to no avail. If only he could leave the school grounds...

Well, in that case, he had no choice but to use this newly crafted [Diabolist] Tier IV spell he designed. He couldn’t believe nobody else thought of it before him. Or maybe they simply never lived long enough to distribute that spell...

“[Succubus Booty Call]!” Victor cast in his bedroom, a pentagram of crimson light manifesting on the ground as a winged, curvaceous shape appeared within it...


Congratulations! For inventing new soul-based spells to fulfill your darkest desires, you earned a level in [Reaper]!

 

+30 HP, +10 SP, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA

 


“Goblina, I don’t want to fight you!” Victor panted as his blood dripped on his scythe.

“Neither do I,” the goblin he had once called a friend replied, her sword too, red with Victor’s blood. “But I won’t let you get in my way!”

“We were supposed to unite against the Headmaster and expose his treachery!” Victor protested. “You weren’t supposed to join him!”

“I must avenge my clan… and kill that paladin! Only Sablar can give me the power needed. The power of time itself.”

“I thought we were friends!”

“We’re not friends!” Goblina snarled. “There can only be one Valedictorian!”

“So that’s it,” Victor glared back at her. “From now on… we’re enemies!”

 


Congratulations! For fighting an up and rising goblin overlord into a bitter tie, you earned a level in Reaper! You earned the [Soulmaster V] Class Perk!

 

+1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA, +1 LCK

 

[Soulmaster V]: You can now learn and use [Necromancy], [Rituals], and [Diabolism] spells up to Tier V. Reaper levels now count as Caster levels for the purpose of class restrictions, and if a class grants you a spellcasting tier in your specialized schools of magic, they will stack with Soulmaster V. This replaces [Soulmaster IV].

 


  • Year Five: “Victor Dalton, and the Order of the Ghouls.”

“From the Outer Gate, we call upon the guidance of Yog-Sothoth,” Victor chanted alongside five other students, all of them surrounding a sacrificial goat. “Line our brains with eyes, so that we may glimpse the cosmic truth! [Ritual of Eldritch Insight]!”

But something was wrong… the energies… the streams of energies didn’t align! The stars weren’t right!

They weren’t summoning Yog-Sothoth! They were summoning… something ancient… something inhuman...

Something racist.


Congratulations! For accidentally summoning and befriending Cthulhu through an ancient, foul ritual, you earned a level in [Reaper]!

 

+30 HP, +10 SP, +1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA, +1 LCK


“Brains?” the ancient, mummified ghoul asked, as the eldritch spirit settled in its rotten flesh. “Babies?”

Victor glanced at Camilla, who was raising a thumbs-up in pride.

“Babies’ brains?” the ghoul asked again, with a hopeful look on its face.


Congratulations! For reviving the ancient Order of the Ghouls to oppose the Headmaster’s machinations, you earned a level in [Reaper]! You earned the [Reanimator] Class Perk!

 

+10 SP, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 INT, +1 CHA, +1 LCK

 

[Reanimator]: By sacrificing money or items, you can revive a living being as an intelligent undead; alternatively, you can place back one of the souls trapped in your scythe inside a corpse, the resulting undead retaining the original soul’s class levels. The funds needed to revive someone depends on the soul’s value, whom you intuitively understand. This replaces [Animate Dead].


  • Year Six: “Victor Dalton, and the Timeworm of Sablar.”

“You…” The dark, demonic figure of the Headmaster glared at the two students. The teachers of the school laid frozen in time, while the wormlike abomination powering the time distortion strained against its bindings. “Goblina, how dare you betray me?!”

“I was never on your side,” the goblin replied.

“We planned this since the beginning,” Victor added. “Your plan to free the Timeworm of Sablar failed before it even started!”

“The beginning? No…” the wicked fiend showed his fangs. “It can’t be…”

“That’s right,” Goblina said. “We staged a fake rivalry for three years straight!”

The Headmaster let out a roar of pure rage and frustration, as both students prepared themselves for the final battle.


Congratulations! For saving the Nightlands from the Timeworm of Sablar, and finally defeating the Headmaster, you earned two levels in Reaper! You earned the [Soulmaster VI] Class Perk!

 

+60 HP, +10 SP, +1 VIT, +2 SKI, +2 AGI, +2 INT, +2 CHA, +1 LCK

 

[Soulmaster VI]: You can now learn and use [Necromancy], [Rituals], and [Diabolism] spells up to Tier VI. Reaper levels now count as Caster levels for the purpose of class restrictions, and if a class grants you a spellcasting tier in your specialized schools of magic, they will stack with Soulmaster VI. This replaces [Soulmaster V].

 


  • Year Seven: “Victor Dalton, and the Relics of Evil.”

As he stood on the amphitheater stage, watched by students, teachers, and three deities, Victor held his breath. Goblina remained at his side, just as tense.

Seven years had passed, although he hadn’t physically aged much since acquiring the [Vicious Ankou] Perk; life was just that dangerous at Scholomance. Seven years practicing dark magic until he could cast spells all the way to Tier VI. Seven years working on a dark artifact, foiling the Headmaster’s dark intrigues, and offering his body to all kinds of extraplanar outsiders.

“Seven years,” Victor muttered.

“So many adventurers, you could fill a whole book,” Goblina whispered back, before chuckling. “If we censor the Shoggoth in the basement.”

“Don’t remind me.” He still showered three times a day, even after the stink left. “Seven years, dammit.”

Seven years leading up to this moment.

“You two have been the best students of this session,” Veran acclaimed them. “Goblina has proven herself the most promising bandit overlord of her generation, while you Victor, have become a skilled necromancer; both of you reached level sixty under this roof, which is almost as much as the champion of Mithras. You bring glory to this ancient institution.”

“Yet it is now time to decide a valedictorian, who will be granted access to the prestigious [Weathermaker] Spellcaster class,” Isabelle said. “The Dread Three will make that decision.”

“We’ll vote on your chosen artifact,” Deathjester said. “The best-made one will win.”

“I promise not to favor my apprentice in this case,” Camilla added.

“You should have claimed them both like me,” Deathjester pointed out. “Since you go both ways.”

“Shut up Jesty,” the dark elf replied, although more amused than annoyed. “Now, show us the fruits of your labor.”

“Good luck,” Victor wished to his friend, shaking her hand. “May the better one win.”

“You too, Vic.” Since she went first, she wasted no time in showing off her treasure: a long, one-handed black mishmash of a sharp sword and a primitive rifle, made of the purest alloys.

“I present you the ultimate fusion of the two best weapons in the world, the [Deathgun Blade]!” Goblina boasted. “This powerful artifact combines the brutality of a sword, with the modern savagery of a gun! It can fire an unlimited number of [Unholy] energy bullets which bypass any resistance to that element, and thanks to its corrupted Starmetal alloy, the sword itself cut through anything!”

“Anything?” Veran asked, immediately seduced by the weapon.

“This is the most powerful weapon ever created! Perfect to conquer the world! And, and, it can think for itself! It can subtly corrupt the wielder, making him as malicious as the previous holder! This way, one may kill a warlord, only to become the next one!”

“That way, only the strongest wielder keeps the sword,” Veran whistled. “Ensuring every new warlord is more powerful than the last!”

“This is a very good concept,” Deathjester said. “Albeit a classical one. I wish you had shaken up the formula a little, but it’s a proven strategy.”

“But does it have any utility outside of combat?” Camilla asked.

“It is not made for combat, but victory!” Goblina boasted, but the goddess still noticed the chink in the presentation and kept asking questions.

As expected, Victor’s rival had perfected the combat part, exalting all the way it could help kill heroes in direct confrontation. This weapon was certainly the best, most dangerous sword in the realms, and would clearly become in very high demand among conquerors. Swords had that timeless appeal, especially among artifacts.

The Vizier, meanwhile, had chosen another path to explore, one that he hoped would win him the vote.

“Thank you for your presentation, Goblina,” Camilla said, glancing at her apprentice next. “Victor, if you would. I cannot wait to see what you have in store.”

“You do not know?” Deathjester asked, his fellow deity shaking her head. She had made a conscious effort not to read her student's mind on that matter. “Interesting.”

The necromancer had gone at great lengths to keep it under wraps, pouring his very soul into this item. Literally. “Gentledeities, gentledevils,” Victor said, unveiling his artifact from under his cloak. “I present you the [Black Grail].”

A chalice made of bones coated in black, soulsteel metal, the artifact could be held with one hand; its maker had crafted a dragon-like face on its surface, with two rubies for eyes.

“A cup?” Veran asked, immediately disappointed.

“This cup is the most powerful, insidious, and versatile weapon of mass destruction ever seen in Outremonde. This is a revolution!” Victor put the chalice on the ground. “But a demonstration would be quicker.”

Putting the chalice on the ground, he slightly cut his wrist with his scythe, drawing a few ounces of blood and pouring them into the cup. The audience watched, mesmerized, as the blood turned into a black mud through the power of the grail.

“Once blood is shed, the Chalice turns it into a black substance,” Victor said. “If this black blood is poured from the cup onto a corpse, it immediately revives it as they were right before their demise.”

“This is not undeath?” Camilla asked.

“The person looks alive, but its body is actually animated by the chalice’s power, preventing them from aging; we will call these pseudo-undead [Arisen]. They no longer age, but appear living to themselves and others. The [Black Grail] can only revive two kinds of people though; those whose souls have been captured by my [Helheim] Perk, or condemned to the infernal plane called Hell.”

He literally had to sleep with an archdevil to get the necessary contract, and she had insisted he use the old brand Hell instead of Happyland for the presentation.

“This is an interesting concept,” Deathjester commented. “But I feel it lacks a certain… I don’t know… a catch.”

“Ah, but you should read the fine print,” Victor joked, the demons who assisted him chuckling. “For when an [Arisen] is revived, they are secretly bound to a [Soul Pact], which allows me to [Enthrall] them at will, with no check allowed!”

“No check?” The other students gasped, while Camilla beamed more and more as the presentation continued.

“And, the cherry on the cake,” Victor trailed. “If I am ever killed, the chalice will automatically capture my soul, which will take over the artifact.”

“So if any minion pours back black blood on your corpse…” Deathjester guessed.

“I will revive,” Victor said. “And I can still telepathically command the [Arisen] from within the [Black Grail] as my minions.”

“This is brilliant!” Veran understood the implications. “You can loan it to a warlord to raise back armies, again and again, unaware that you can snatch away his soldiers at any moment!”

“The artifact will attract the attention of all sorts of suckers eager to raise their loved ones, and since the revived are not aware of the catch,” Deathjester muttered. “You can turn people into timebombs. Even if the catch becomes known, desperate people will still flock to it.”

“And [Arisen] are one of the most advanced forms of undead that I have heard of,” Camilla said. “Well done.”

The students and teachers applauded Victor, who bowed politely. He recovered the cup and stood next to Goblina. “It is now time for the vote,” said Isabelle Maure. “What will our patrons choose?”

“The choice couldn’t be more obvious to me,” Camilla spoke up first. “While the [Deathgun Blade] is certainly a very fine artifact, it lacks the sheer potential of its competition. My vote goes to Victor.”

“I am very tempted to vote for the [Black Grail] too,” Veran said, Goblina fidgeting, “I am very, very tempted, but…”

Victor tensed, while his goblin competitor rejoiced.

“I cannot vote against an unholy gun,” the goddess said. “I choose the [Deathgun Blade].”

All eyes settled on Deathjester, who would cast the final vote. The silence became unbearable, as the deity seemed intent on dragging out the tension. “Veran,” he finally spoke up.

“Yes?”

“Do you remember what I told you back in our last session?” Deathjester asked, the goddess sinking in her chair. “Because too many guns.”

Victor’s heart skipped a beat. Could it be?

“The valedictorian of this year,” the god of crime pointed his index finger at the Vizier, “Is Victor Dalton of Murmurin!”

The amphitheater exploded into cheers and applause, leaving Victor speechless; especially since the gods were the most vocal about it. While clearly disappointed, Goblina ended up congratulating him as well.

Congratulations! For being chosen as the valedictorian of Scholomance, you can now take levels in the ultra-prestigious [Weathermaker] spellcaster class!

 

All these years of raising the dead to master the essence of souls, and opening his mind through eldritch rituals, had finally paid off!

“Congrats, Vic,” Goblina said. “You have been the best frenemy a goblin could hope for.”

“You too. We’ll stay in contact, I hope?” The two had become thick as thieves over all their adventures. “I mean, we still have that Jack Frost loose end to deal with. I’m sure he will come back to haunt us again.”

“Sure!” Goblina replied. “If you ever come across my new empire, I will have a few jobs for you! But no squids.”

“No squids,” Victor fist-bumped her.

“As promised,” Camilla said upon approaching her protegee before touching his shoulder. The physical contact made him shiver in both pleasure and subconscious fear. “Here is a little reward.”

Victor sensed a mark appear on his back, another joining the collection.

[Claimed by Camilla]: When you level up, you have an additional 10 percent chance to gain a Vitality or Agility point. You automatically gain the secondary [Undead] type, including all of its strengths and vulnerabilities.

 

Perk conflict detected! Priority affected the oldest Perk! Change to [Undead] type negated by [Darwinist]!

“I believe it was long overdue,” the goddess said. “I did make a proposal to get your soul when you first died. That will be difficult now, but I encourage my followers to haunt the realm of the living however they can.”

“So… what happens now?” Victor asked, eying Isabelle Maure, who would follow him to Murmurin.

“What happens next?” Camilla repeated with a coy smile. “It’s all up to you.”

“I would like to continue our [Necromancy] lessons,” Victor said. “I intend to cap [Reaper] after gaining a [Heroic Crest] and to master necromancy as a whole. I feel like I only scratched the potential of sorcery here.”

“With pleasure,” Camilla said. “I believe that you have great potential, and I would enjoy furthering your education. But those are extra hours, and I have a revolution to manage… I will not be as available as I was in this academy. Neither will I put in the effort for free.”

“Do you want my money or liquid assets?”

She laughed at his brazen, dirty joke. “Oh, I have a few errands a champion of undeath could make on my behalf, especially in the New World,” the death goddess said. “Your artifact might find an audience there, but we shall see when the time comes.”

Well, here ended Victor’s vacation. He wondered what happened to Murmurin in his absence.

He hoped it was still standing.

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Void Herald

Bio: I'm a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending half my time writing and the other half managing magical websites.

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