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Ch016-Blast From The Past

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*Nyx

The boy did the gesture perfectly. He said the chant perfectly. Even his back was perfectly straight, and as before, Nyx couldn’t find a single mistake he was making.

As before, nothing happened.

“Can we try something else? This is clearly not working. I can’t even feel mana, let alone see it.” The boy complained. He repeated the motion again, with the same result.

“It’s only been four months. It’s always the hardest at the start.” Nyx repeated.

“You’ve done it since birth. Venna told me that you burned your father’s beard off before you could walk.” The boy said.

“Magic is a personal thing. I can tell you right now, there are things you’ll never be able to do, that I can do with ease. And there will be things you’ll do, that I could only dream off.” Nyx said, holding the boy’s hands and trying to feel the slightest change.

She saw him forcing his face to remain calm, which she had long since recognized as his version of crying.

“If you want, we can stop this. You’ll move far from here, get married to a noblewoman of one kind or another, and you’ll never have to spend a single moment worried or in danger. A life of complete and utter freedom and luxury. You’d get to do whatever you want, whenever you want.” Nyx repeated as she had done every time the boy complained.

“No. I’m going to be a mage.” The boy answered coldly. Nyx smiled at his words, and let him try again.

Off in the corner, Venna coughed into her fist, and Nyx stared at the woman.

It would work. She thought to herself. It was downright common practice for families with magic in their blood, to scare their child into opening their channels. Nyx had even helped out a few times. Children are always terrified of the dark, and light oriented bloodlines loved to start them early on fending off the darkness.

At first, Nyx tried to approach this like any other experiment. She had a hypothesis to prove or disprove and had a number of methods she could use to do this. But the problem was that her cold and clinical mind couldn't work in tandem with her newly discovered emotional one. She had done horrible, awful, and downright unforgivable things, in the pursuit of knowledge, and never gave any of it a second thought. But there was something different about this.

It made it impossible for Nyx to even consider what Venna was suggesting. She’d done it to children of other people, because they asked her too, and it was ultimately for their own good, but now… She couldn’t imagine doing anything to harm this one.

He repeated the motions over and over again, the bright scars on his arms, stretching with the muscles in them, and almost flowing like water as a result. Nyx sat and watched him, as she had done every day, and considered everything she knew. Hundreds of years of information ran through her mind, the relevant pieces arriving at the forefront, like a well-maintained library. She perused her mental notes and watched the boy perform the motion perfectly over and over again.

And yet nothing. Not so much as a twitch from the ambient mana. Not even a whimper from his core. In Nyx’s mana sight, the boy may as well not have existed.

 

*Sylver

Sylver regretted every single action in his long long life that had led to this moment. His old body was trained, sculpted, and tried and tested to the point he trusted it without a single doubt in his mind. Through starvation, or fear, or decay, his body had never once failed him.

Ciege’s on the other hand, felt like it may betray him at any moment. His teeth were chattering, his knees were shaking, and he was thankful he hadn’t had anything to drink and narrowly avoided being disappointed in his bladder. One thing was for certain, whatever minuscule piece of Ciege that was inside, was long gone by now.

His lungs were working overtime, his heartbeat so loud and erratic he could hear his music instructor failing him in his mind, and his head was so light and slow, he might as well be asleep.

Luckily his actual body’s condition wasn’t vital for the spell to work properly.

With the barest though he returned to the completely catatonic bandit and looked around the dark sludge enveloping him. He swam through the harmless material, reaching the bottom quicker than he was expecting, and forcing his feet onto the slimy earth. The dark sludge sent absolutely everything it had at the bandit, harmlessly bouncing off his skin and not finding a single area of purchase. The blood-red sigils illuminated a tiny area around him, doing absolutely nothing in terms of visibility, leaving Sylver to lamely walk around, trying to find it.

Sylver could already hear Nyx losing her mind, explaining why linking a spell to something so easy to replicate as blood was a very poor idea. And now that he was exploiting this connection, he had to agree with her. The curse was linked to the girl by blood, and as a result of forcing the bandit’s body to make a copy of the girl’s blood, he was now untouchable. And because the curse was so idiotic, it couldn’t even do what it was supposed to.

It had been trying to force its way into the bandit’s body since the second he flew inside. But because the bandit was just some random man, and not of the correct bloodline, the curse was stuck between trying to kill the intruder, and not letting itself kill the girl's blood.

And because the curse was linked to blood, it didn’t bother accounting for the possibility of someone that shares the same blood, but not the same bloodline. Because how could someone have cursed blood, and not be of the cursed bloodline? It’s not possible.

Unless someone had extremely specialized knowledge, and extremely advanced understanding of dark magic curse frameworks, to find a loophole to make it possible. The fact that there was a whole page in the book, explaining the step by step creation of this particular piece of the curse, helped a little.

Sylver decided to call this the ‘fucking idiot’ method and added it to his repertoire of curse breaking related skills.

*

A man was sitting beside a woman’s bed, crying into her arms. The woman had long white hair, a face that was so sunken she looked more like a skeleton than a person, and the most noticeable aspect of any elf, long pointed ears. The man in turn was covered from head to toe in deep black scribbles that covered any identifying aspect that Sylver could think of.

The crying man spoke words that sounded like gibberish, cast spells that Sylver couldn’t even tell if they worked, and very gradually the image disappeared.

Looking around Sylver found himself standing in a perfectly white room, an infinity of nothingness in whichever direction he looked.

“What the fuck is this? Where’s Kitty? Who are you?” A stern voice asked. Looking around Sylver saw a tall and lanky cat standing on a raised platform and looking down at him. It had very light grey fur and bright orange eyes.

“Sorry. Where are my manners? I am called Sylver Sezari. 1st tier necromancer. I have come to put an end to this curse.” Sylver said using the bandit’s mouth, bowing with a flourish.

A faint giggle behind him turned quickly into wild cackling. More and more cats appeared, each a different shape and color, but every single one with identical bright orange eyes.

“That’s her plan? Just throw a novice necromancer at it, and hope it works?” one of the cats surrounding Sylver said.

“It’s not her plan, it’s mine. Step one is getting the curse to swallow this body. And step two is to get to the core and set off the magic equivalent of a bomb inside of it. We’ve got about 19 minutes until detonation.” Sylver said, getting mixed up in the joyous emotions and speaking with a cheery tone and smile despite himself.

The laughter stopped dead by the time he was finished. His worry that they wouldn’t hear him over the noise was unnecessary.

The cats murmured amongst themselves, the volume increasing until Sylver was having trouble hearing himself think.

“Who are you?” One of the cats asked. Sylver couldn’t even tell where the sound came from.

I,” Sylver put emphasis on the word, “am Sylver Sezari. This body on the other hand is a random bandit I’m currently remotely puppeteering. While I am here, I am also not here. The king of cats hired me to stop the curse from killing her owner. And this is what I’m currently doing. Look, if you have anything you want me to pass on to her, we’ve got about 18 minutes left.” Sylver said, gesturing at himself when speaking about the bandit, and waving in the general direction he felt his body being when talking about himself.

A hand grabbed him from the back and turned him around. Holding him by the shoulders was a woman with long white hair, going all the way down to her elbows, beautiful green eyes, freckles all over her face, and unmistakable elvish pointy ears.

“He’s lying Horace.” The woman said. She leaned in so close to the bandit’s face, that her nose was almost touching him. “I’ve met the real Sylver Sezari, and this thing isn’t him.”

“I would have remembered meeting you,” Sylver answered softly.

“Of course you would have. Mr 1st tier necromancer. Why the charade? What’s your goal? If you’re trying to make a name for yourself, at least use one that isn’t already taken.” The woman asked, letting go of Sylver’s shoulders but staring deep into his eyes.

“There’s no charade. I really am Sylver Sezari. And right now, I just so happen to be a 1st tier necromancer.” Sylver answered.

“You sure? Sylver Sezari always wore two rings, at all times. What were they made of?” The woman asked.

“Bone and wood,” Sylver answered without even thinking.

The woman’s eyes opened wide at this, but she caught herself and forced a stern look back on her face.

“He had 3 tattoos, where were they?” The woman asked, crossing her arms over her chest.

“One on the left wrist, another over the heart, and one completely covering the back and neck,” Sylver answered.

The woman stood perfectly still, not even breathing. Even the cats were dead silent.

“I also carried a dagger made out of a white metal no one could ever identify, a chain around my waist, and my shadow famously never matched the shape of my body,” Sylver added. “The better question is. Who the fuck are you?” Sylver asked.

He would have remembered someone like her. Especially after his hair turned grey. He spent months looking for someone with the same ailment, that he could experiment on to find a cure. He would not have forgotten a woman like this, with this particular hair color.

“Nyx had 2 guards with her, that always looked like they were slathered in oil. What were their names?” The woman asked, no longer meeting Sylver’s eyes.

“Humpty and Dumpty,” Sylver answered.

“Why are you a 1st tier? I don’t understand…” The woman asked.

“First answer who you are, and how you know me.” Sylver countered.

“Are you really Sylver?” The woman asked, floating around the bandit’s body.

“I really am,” Sylver responded.

The white-haired woman stood right in front of the bandit’s body and looked him dead in the eyes again.

“My name is Lola Aeyra.”

 

*Edna

Sitting around and watching over Sylver’s body, was not as interesting as Edna had imagined it to be. After his initial scream, that nearly made her wet herself, he sat down and slumped over. If you ignored the blood running down his body, and the red sparks jumping around the open wounds, he looked like he was asleep.

Her hope of learning something from this was long gone. Her understanding of what the fuck he was doing extended only to the layman's explanation, that he was going to change the bandit’s body to produce the same blood as the girl, somehow become immune to the level 200 something curse, and when it’s deep inside near the core, implode and drastically weaken it, so she could go there and finish it off for him.

The 20 gold he was paying her, was basically for her to transfer her mana into the platform he was on, and then watch his body to make sure no one fucked around with it. And when she saw the black sludge compress into a tiny slime sized ball, swim to the island, and kill it.

She felt a hand grab her own, and stifled a scream when Sylver’s face was inches away from her.

“I need you to go to my room, in the Fox Hole, and grab the body covered in wraps, and bring it here,” Sylver said quickly, pulling Edna up onto her feet by her arm, and dripping blood onto her robe.

“I… What?” She stammered.

“Fox Hole. Eastern Sector. Tell Salgok I sent you, and bring the body here as quick as you possibly can.” Sylver repeated, almost pushing Edna towards the exit from the barrier.

Edna wiped the blood off her sleeve and stood still for a moment, before running off towards the exit, followed along by a few cats.

She could hear him calling one of the cats over, but was already too far away to hear for what exactly.

 

*Sylver

“Why the fuck is an Aeyri here?” Sylver asked again.

“You really don’t remember me?” Lola asked for the fifth time.

“I really don’t. I would have remembered you.” Sylver repeated.

“You spent a few years living with us? Shared our food, drank with us, saved my brother's life, you really don’t remember me?” She asked again.

“Look. I know everyone says I did, but I never had an eidetic memory. I only vaguely remember even going there. But I know for a fact, I never met anyone with white hair while I was there.” Sylver explained.

“But you did! You gave my mother a black gem. I must have been a teenager when I saw you. I wore a hood, and glasses all the time, I had a bright white staff with me? You healed my brother, gave him a new arm? I tried to heal him, but couldn’t, and you said not to worry about it? I’m sure you’ve seen me without a hood on!” Lola continued.

Sylver simply stood there, looking at her, and trying to jog his memory. And after a full minute of concentration he got… Nothing.

As hard as he tried, he couldn’t remember ever seeing this girl.

“Your brother had a piece of his left ear missing,” Sylver said almost to himself.

“Yes! And you made him a new arm out of his own bones and a dead wolf!” Lola shouted excitedly. “I helped skin the wolf! Remember?!” She continued.

The various cats simply sat around silently, watching the exchange.

Try as he might, he couldn't remember ever seeing a girl that matched her description there. The Aeyri were famous elf mages, but for the life and unlife of him, Sylver could not say with certainty if she was there or not. The only reason he even remembered the name was because they were the ones who made Oska’s staff.

“Tell me how you ended up here,” Sylver said, changing the subject.

Behind Lola, an image appeared, with a scribbled out man looking through the book Sylver had used to figure out the curse, and taking his own notes inside of it.

“This fucker got my grimoire. I don’t know what he did, but I was suddenly in the body of a dying woman. While I was still alive, he dragged my body onto this island and tried to kill me. Horace came out of nowhere and killed him, but we both died shortly after. He had the spell started already, so out of spite I did my best to ruin it. With Horace’s help I managed to limit him to this island and locked down a lot of what he could do but it ended up trapping all three of us together. Then these other cats started to show up, and now you’re here.” Lola explained.

“So all that bloodline linking stuff in the book was just-”

“I wanted to make something to pass onto my descendants. Something that would stick around, long after I was gone, and would give my children and their children, a step up in life. I never wanted,” she gestured with her hands at the small white dome they were all inside, surrounded by the constantly moving black liquid, “this. It’s a perversion of my research.”

“It’s my fault,” one of the cats said. A small cat with stubby legs, and a huge scratch down the side of his face. “I was the one that found the grimoire for him. He healed my master with it, his wife.” The cat said. Sylver noticed that it was the only cat he could see with any kind of wound on it.

“I offered up one of my lives as payment, and she was fine. She ran around, laughed, smiled, and sang. I was overjoyed at her recovery. Then nine years later, she fell sick again. We did the ritual again, and she was all better again.” The cat said, looking downwards, its ears pressed and it’s tail on the floor.

“He continued to study the book, he told me he was looking for an alternative way to cure her. I believed him and even helped him find other books on the subject. I had to leave for a while, and when I came back, he killed them. He killed my mother, my father, everyone in my litter, and every single underling I had stationed there.” The cat said, almost choking on the words.

“Why?” Sylver asked. But he already knew the answer. It was always the same answer when people went to such great lengths. Only one thing was ever worth causing so much suffering.

“He wanted power. He became the village chief by that point, he could heal and protect people, but he wanted more. And he killed them for it.” The cat said calmly. “By the time I had enough support with me to stop him, it was already too late.”

“And the curse? What does any of this have to do with a curse that’s tied to the blood of some family?” Sylver asked carefully.

“It’s his family. His descendants, and my master’s. I’ve been waiting to amass enough strength to kill him for good, but every time one of my children sacrifices themselves, he gets most of the power.” The cat said.

“What would have happened if the girl’s body came here? Full-on possession, right?” Sylver asked. That was the one thing he couldn’t quite understand when reading Lola’s grimoire.

“He would have possessed her, and then wreaked untold havoc on my children and this town.” the cat answered.

This was not an ideal situation. Firstly because Sylver now knew that innocent’s were involved and that a woman who apparently knew him, was here. Which meant that just imploding everything and calling it a day, was still an option, but not a great one. But if he could get an Aeyri working under him...

“Lola? What do you want?” Sylver asked, looking around the dome and the slithering mess of black surrounding it. If I move to the edge, it will concentrate on me.

“I want to finish my research. And if my family is still alive, pass it down to them.” She answered tentatively.

“What about you? What do you want?” Sylver asked the cat.

“I want to kill the bastard, so my family can stop suffering.” The first king of cats, Horace, said.

“Good. Lola. I’ll offer you to become my shade. You’ll join me on my adventures, and in return, I will aid you in your research. When it’s complete, I will personally guide you to your family, assuming they are alive, and make sure they receive it. If they make me a good enough offer, I’ll even go as far as reviving you.” Sylver said carefully.

“I agree,” Lola answered almost instantly. Sylver nodded and moved on to the first king of cats.

“And for you Horace. I’ll offer you 24 hours, in the land of the living, to talk to your descendants and do what you will. You’ll be a specter, summoned, and maintained by me. After the 24 hours are up, your soul will be allowed to move on. In exchange, I want all the power you have amassed here. I’d offer the others the option too, but there isn’t enough of them to form properly. I mean no offense when I say this, but their deaths were peaceful and voluntary.” Sylver finished.

The cat who gave up his life, and lives, for his family, looked down and thought deeply. He looked over at Lola, who was staring at the bandit with a look Horace had never seen before. If she trusted him this much, he must be at least as capable as her. And after who knows how long with only her as a companion, he trusted her almost as much as his master. If she trusted that this man had a chance to end this, he would trust him too.

“Deal,” Horace answered.

“Splendid. In that case please start handing your power over to that body.” Sylver, piloting the bandit’s body, said. He jumped to the edge of the white dome and stuck his hand out of it. The black goo immediately started attacking it, harmlessly sliding off the skin.

“Which body?” Horace asked.

A man with more holes and cuts in him than scored meat dropped through the barrier stopping the black sludge from entering and coughed blood onto the floor.

“This body.” The man answered weakly. With how much blood there was leaking out of him, his signature silver hair was barely visible. In his hand was a tightly rolled up leather roll of tools, and the red sigils on his skin were already receding.

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