The fighting slowly came to a halt as they turned their gazes on me. I pretended I wasn’t shitting myself as numerous golden eyes, seemed to pierce my soul for the truth of my words. Which I’d just made up on the spot.

“The demons fear you?” A bloody and beaten Tyl asked.

“Sure they do. Just as soon as I can cure this curse, I’ll be hunting a few down to kick their assess.”

“Why do they fear you?” He asked, and the other Wultr growled enthusiastically for an answer to that very question.

The question I had absolutely no idea how to answer.

“Well, he’s got the recipe to their downfall, hasn’t he?” Mal answered for me.

“Recipe?” Sania asked confused.

“Yeah, it’s pretty complicated stuff, but we’ll do it,” I said.

“Only because of the presence of the priestess, will I believe you. Enough bloodshed has occurred here, for little reason, perhaps. Now answer me this. If you are truly heading to Faray. Why are you traveling east? When Faray is north?

I looked to Elsbeth to answer. She looked back at me, annoyed. “We travel this way for the comfort of the trade routes and towns.”

The towering female Wultr barked out a harsh laugh. “Comfort! Yet you are in a hurry to cure this curse?” I sensed the mood among them shift suddenly.

“I’ve gotta fight the curse with meditation on a regular basis so I have to have somewhere safe to rest through the days and each evening.

“Still, It will take you many days on the roads. Through the mountains, with Wultr help, you can be in Knuntang in two days. Then even on your legs you can be in Faray in a further two days.”

“You’d help us?” I asked unable to hide my surprise.

“Better for all if you are out of our lands quickly. Through the mountains is the quickest way. Then you can use your recipe to fight the Demons sooner?”

“Er yeah, sure,” I said. Fully intending only to find a way home. Whether that involved fighting demons I didn’t know. But I sincerely hoped not.

“We will guide you through. You will be safe,” Sania said with finality.
Elsbeth didn’t look convinced at all. Panicked even. “We have no camping supplies,” she protested.

“What do you need other than the ground, water and food?”

“Shelter, heat,” Elsbeth replied, and we have no food for such a trip.

Sania laughed. “Fire and food is easy. Your skin is waterproof. Humans be fine for two nights. We carry you and you will be fine.”

“Carry us? On your backs?” I asked

“We have no saddles.” Elsbeth said.

“We are not horses Priestess. Hold on to our fur, you will not fall. Wultr do not drop those they carry.”

“Right! Hang on a fucking minute,” Joel said. “This is a pretty rapid turnaround of events. These guys wanted to rip us to shreds a few minutes ago, and now they’re offering to carry us and shorten our journey by damn near a week. This doesn’t sit right, it isn’t some sort of insane Wultr hunting technique, is it?”

Sania laughed at him. “An interesting idea, little man, but no. We attacked because we will not tolerate demons in our territory. Now we know your friend isn’t a demon but a fellow enemy of demons. It changes much.”

“Can Wultr carry George?” Tracy asked. “He is very fat.”

It was pretty funny as they were as identical as could be, but I said nothing. I wanted no part in a conversation on a woman’s weight. Even Tracy’s.

“Wultr can carry you fine,” Tyl said.

“Well, this is gonna cut down my training time to become a Cleric,” Mal muttered behind me. Then added quickly when I turned. “But it makes sense, mate. Get you healed up quicker.”

“I will remain during your time in Knuntang. You can continue your training as Clive carries out his.” Elsbeth said.

Mal grinned. “Awesome, then let’s get our asses to Knuntang, then!”

Sania moved smoothly over toward me, all seven and a half foot of her monstrous blood spattered frame. She absolutely dwarfed me, and I felt a little surge of fear as she scrutinized me as if to assess my worthiness. Her eyes lingered on my cursed arm for a few extra seconds.

While this happened, through the fear, I began to question my sanity as my traitorous eyes started assess her perfect curves mixed with an inordinate amount of muscle and a strikingly pretty face even through the spatters of Tyl’s blood. What made my questionable thoughts even worse, was the fact that I was pretty sure I’d just killed her husband. I just hoped nobody noticed.

Finally the giant, silver haired, killing machine of a wolf woman, looked away from my arm and started barking orders at who would carry who. After a very short while, I realized that only I hadn’t been assigned a Wultr to ride yet.

I looked over the two remaining Wultr. They were the two who had stood with Tyl and clearly agreed with his decision to try to kill me. I hoped I got the weaker of the two, should they try anything.

They were all dropping into wolf form already and this close I could see just how big they were. Around five and a half feet to the top of their heads and wider in the shoulders than any wolf had any right to be. I saw Tracy jump on hers with no hesitation and heard the wolf grunt as she landed upon it. Such a human sound from the now lupine figure.

I still hadn’t been assigned a Wultr to ride, and began to grow uneasy as Sania still in her human form went through explaining how best to hold on and sit. I tried to listen while looking at the trees and the grass and the birds and the insects and anywhere but her. My eyes finally landed on Elsbeth, now mounted on a grey/brown coloured Wultr. It was the smallest one there, which meant absolutely nothing, because it was still huge.

She caught me looking at her and smiled. For some reason, that made me feel worse. Though I still smiled back.

Once everyone was settled and ready, Sania came over to me. She stood far too close for comfort and spoke so quietly I could barely hear her.

“My mate was strong, but he was a cruel fool. It is good for the pack that he is gone. To show I bear you no ill will, I will carry you.”

I was taken aback by her words, but had no time to say something stupid, as she transformed into a silver and grey wolf. I cringed inwardly at the turn of events.

After a quick look over my shoulder to see how everyone else was sitting, I reluctantly took ahold of the silver fur on of her neck and straddled her back. She stood up immediately causing my stomach to lurch. The fur was slightly damp, though my hand holds felt solid. The smell emanating from her was a faint mix of wet dog and a strange scent of perfume.

I looked to see how the others were faring. Only Joel looked really uncertain, clinging on for dear life. His knuckles white. He cast a look over at me and Mal.

“I don’t know about this, lads. I mean are we really in this much of a hurry? You’re doing a good job with the arm, Clive. You can last. You got this man.”

“Stop being such a pussy, Joel,” Mal said. “The damn wolves have offered you a ride. Now stop complaining. I’m one hundred percent certain that it's worse for them than it is for you.”

The conversation ended as, without warning the Wultr moved off. To their credit, they went slowly at first while we acclimatised with each other. Only slowly building their speed.

After around ten minutes, they were running across the grassland way faster than I was comfortable with. For a good while, I hugged tight to Sania’s back and closed my eyes. After ten more minutes of reciting the words, what the fuck are you doing Clive, you’re riding a damn werewolf. I finally settled. I didn’t actually feel in any danger of falling off. I wasn’t sure how, having never rode any animal before, but I almost felt at one with her movements as she ran. It was as if the Wultr had something magical about them that them to keep us mounted I’d have to ask at some point.

The hours passed in an odd blur on top of the tireless wolves. When I realized, I’d missed my meditation time. I considered for a moment asking them to stop. But realized I actually felt safe enough to try as the Wultr ran. It’s not like I had to do anything but hold on.

Making my decision, I closed my eyes and let my breathing deepen. Dropping down into the recesses of my soul to where the Neuma lay swirling and writhing inside of me.

I worked on the tendril, though the word tendril didn’t really fit anymore as it continued to thicken with my increasing levels. It was more like a limb of its own now, and I figured investing some of the stat points I must have received from killing Chusk into Internal Connection would be necessary. With the increase in size came an increase in the amount of effort and depth of focus I needed to reduce the flow.

If not for that extra focus, I might not have noticed the anomaly inside of me. It was very subtle difference, but I could sense the presence of a secondary, or tertiary neuma source if we counted the darkness of the Neuma curse.

I knew I had a light, neutral and dark alignment, so it stood to reason that there could be another source of Neuma within me, and I didn’t sense anything evil about it. Only warmth and courageousness. Desperate for any edge I could get against this curse, I pulled on the newly discovered source of energy, drawing it closer to the Neuma I’d already become familiar with. It didn’t feel threatening, and I was insatiably curious.

Like my other Neuma tendrils, it tried to resist the change I was forcing on it, but I was getting pretty good at wrestling unruly Neuma by now and if this was more power that I could potentially use I needed it.

Finally, it yielded to my efforts and flowed close to my main core where I intended.

Something was wrong.

My eyes sprang open.

I was no longer on Sania’s back. Now I was flying through the air.

A moment later I crashed into the ground. Completely disoriented I didn’t get my hands out to protect myself and hit the ground on my shoulder and side of my face before bouncing and rolling a few more painful yards, finally coming to a stop in a crumpled heap.

To my utter amazement it appeared I hadn’t broken anything. Silently thanking myself for putting those points into Constitution, I climbed back to my feet. Only to be hit with a number of notifications.


Congratulations. You were part of a team that defeated a level 37 Wultr. Based on your contribution, you have been awarded 105 Experience Points from the 370 Experience Points available.

Plus 10 bonus Experience Points for every level your opponent was above your own. +250 Experience Points

Hero for the ages! Epic Achievement! You struck the killing blow against a foe at least twenty-five levels above your own.

Epic Bonus 1000 Experience Points.

Congratulations, You have discovered a new Advanced Skill.


By drawing a portion of another’s Neuma into your own, you have formed an unbreakable bond between you and your chosen servant. They are now at your behest.

Warning: Be cautious of the distance between you and your soul bound servant. While this will vary on individual power levels of both parties, your soul bound servant will die should you move beyond a safe distance.

The Stars Align Achievement! It shouldn’t have been possible, but with nothing other than belligerence and desire, you have achieved an Ultra Rare skill that has taken others thousands of years to study and perfect.

The Stars Align bonus, +10,000 Experience Points

Level up:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 13:


Congratulations. You have reached Level 14:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 15:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 16:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 17:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 18:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 19:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 20:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 21:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 22:

Congratulations. You have reached Level 23:

You have 110 stat points to distribute.

My head was spinning. Not just from the fall, but the information. I was torn between the joy of genuinely being able to survive this ordeal with all these levels to, oh fuck, did I just make someone a slave. Worse than that, was it the Wultr who’s mate I’d just killed, Sania. What the hell had I just done.

I knew I would have to deal with the fallout of whatever it was that had just happened. But I’d be damned if I’d dismiss all of these points. There was a good chance they would save my bacon in the next few minutes.

I focused on Internal Connection to place points when my senses were consumed with a guttural blend of screaming, snarling, and whimpering.

The overwhelming nature of the sensation coupled with my own pure panic caused the notification screen to disappear on its own accord. Before I had a chance to allocate anything at all.

As angry as to lose the opportunity I was at the development, the noises were more insistent. As my vision cleared from the disappearing notifications, I found the other wolves were slowly approaching my position. I looked over to Sania still in wolf form, and only now getting to her feet.

The noises formed into words inside my mind. They were definitely coming from her. Whatever I’d done, I’d totally fucked Sania over and she knew it too, and I was probably going to die now.

What have you done? Her voice asked inside my head. I couldn’t form an answer in my befuddlement. Sania must have taken that to mean I hadn’t heard her. She morphed back into her humanoid form. I noticed her claws were extended and she looked ready to use them.

“What have you done to me?” She growled.

As soon as the other wolves sensed the animosity between us, they morphed, too. Dropping their riders unceremoniously to the ground. Only Elsbeth landed with any grace. But that was the least of my worries. Sania was right in front of me now.

“Answer me!” she screamed in my face, and it was fucking terrifying, even though I sensed the desperation in her voice.

“I have no idea. I… fuck. Whatever it is, we can make it right, Sania. I promise.”

“No! We can’t. You’ve forcefully bonded me! The notification I received said it was unbreakable.”

“There’ll be a way. There’s always a way,” I said desperately. “Give me a minute, and I’ll try to reverse what I did.”

“Don’t you dare!” She said in panic.


“What is wrong with you human? If you unbind me, I’ll die. I can’t even kill you for this crime. If you die, I die. Can’t you feel it?”

“I can’t. I’m so sorry Sania. Honestly, I didn’t do intentionally, and I will find a way to undo this. Whatever it takes.” I heard Mal snort. The bastard. Looking over to him, angrily, I saw both him and Joel were trying to keep the laughter at bay. Fucking wankers. I had a feeling things would go really bad for us if they did laugh.
“How can you bond someone and not do it on purpose!” Sania snapped moving from panic to anger once more.

“I would also like to know how you can bond someone without intentionally doing it,” Elsbeth said, appearing silently at my side. She did not look happy, either.

“Soul bonds are an illegal practice, Clive.” She continued. “The fact that you claim you used a power so rare I’ve never heard of its use in my lifetime, and you did it… by accident is hard to believe.”

The other members of Sania’s pack were growling more vocally, tightening their semi-circle around me. My friends and the triplets backed away from them, but began pulling their weapons ready to fight again.

“Okay, okay,” I said holding my hands up. “Everyone just settle the fuck down and I’ll explain.”

I waited until the snarling had stopped, before I tried to linguistically extricate myself from this cluster fuck.

“So, I was controlling my own Neuma to combat the demon curse, while on Sania’s back. To do that, I kinda have to wrestle it to make it do what I want. As I went deeper, I felt a different kind of Neuma, so I focused on that too. I thought that it was mine! Why the fuck would someone else’s Neuma be inside me?”

“Anyway, I tried to pull it towards my core in the hopes of using it to fight against the demon curse. I didn’t for a second think it was yours Sania.”

I received a host of dubious looks. Elsbeth at least looked like she was coming around. Sania looked confused.

It was Mal who spoke next surprising us all. “I believe you, but I want to know how the hell you’re now level 23.”

“Really? Now?” I kinda shouted at him. “I got an Ultra-rare The stars have Aligned achievement for this crap. 10,000XP.”

There were gasps all around at that information. Everybody loved XP.

“Which proves it wasn’t something you knew how to do,” Elsbeth remarked, seeming to relax further. “Though that you could stumble upon it by accident is terrifying.”

“I know, right? Surely there’s a way to just push it back out?”

“Sania has already covered that. She will most likely die if you try without knowing what you’re doing. Which you clearly don’t. Luckily for us, we are heading to meet the one man who probably know something.”

“Yeah!” I said, a little surge of hope fluttering by. “He knows everything about Nuema. Will you be able to come with us to find him?” I asked Sania.

She scowled at me, I could tell she wanted nothing more than to rip me in two. “The notification I received told me I’m now your servant and that I must stay within a certain range of you or again I will I die.” The other Wultr began growling again at the word servant and I swallowed guilty at hearing it said out loud as Sania continued.

So, if I want to be free of this, I don’t have any choice but to come. Or perhaps I can make you live with my pack. Perhaps we can chain you up and I can use you as my servant? That sounds better, doesn’t it?”

“Except Clive is slowly turning into a demon,” Elsbeth added.

Sania howled into the air in rage and frustration. “I do not know whether it is better just to die!”

“No!” I shouted at her. “You’re gonna be okay, I promise.”

“You promise again! What are your promises worth, Clive?” Sania replied. “Will you put the removal of this bond at the forefront of all your actions until this is dealt with.”

“I will, Sania. I promise this takes precedence over everything else.” And I meant it.

“Good,” she said looking down at me and surprising me with a small smile. “You have taken my soul without a care, Clive. With it you have taken my pride. Please accept this small gift in return.”

I was confused by her words until a lightning fast uppercut connected into my jaw and sent me sailing a good eight feet away from where I stood. The thing that amazed me most, as I came back to consciousness, apart from the speed and power of the blow, was the fact that my jaw was still attached as it should be.

As I lay on my back looking up at the clouds, my vision still clearing, Mal, Joel Elsbeth and Sania, who was rubbing at her own temples and looked to be in a lot of pain, now stood over me.

Mal hunkered down smirking. “You just got knocked the fuck out.”

Joel laughed, shouted “Friday!” And high-fived Mal.

I rubbed at my jaw, and groaned. Sania snorted and offered a hand out to help me up. “Come on weakling. I suspect that hurt me more than it did you.” I took the offer of assistance feeling very much like a weakling as her dauntingly huge hand closed around mine and she hauled me up like a rag doll with a satisfied expression.

“Did you hurt your fist on my chin,” I said groggily.

“The bond punished me for attacking you.”

“Oh shit. So you can’t hurt me without hurting yourself?”

“That is correct. But mark my words. If you dishonor or demean me in any way, I will kill us both without hesitation.”

I nodded at her warning, the act causing me to lose balance.

“Are you okay, Clive, do you need healing?” Elsbeth asked.

“I should be okay thanks.”

She ignored me, anyway and placed her hands on my shoulders. I felt a warm tingle, suddenly my head cleared, my shoulder stopped aching.

“What the hell Elsbeth? I said I was okay.”

She put her hands on her hips, a dissatisfied expression crossing her face. “I beg to differ, Clive. You had concussion, a dislocated shoulder and a hairline fracture in your jaw. I promised I would ensure you completed this journey whether you deserved the injuries or not. I intend to keep you as close to maximum health as possible during our time together.”
“Well…” I sighed, cutting the retort that sprang to my lips. “Thank you. I do feel better and…”

Before I could say anymore Sania spoke loudly over the top of me, cutting me off.

“You can prattle on about your weaknesses at our evening camp. Until then we should run. Time is off the essence. Even more so now that you have cursed me.”

I was taken back by her words, but saw the truth in them. The rest of the Wultr looked like they wanted to kill and considering what had happened so far in my short time of meeting these guys. I couldn’t fault them if they did attempt to shred me into unrecognizable lumps.

Sania dropped down into giant wolf form once more, and presented her back for me. Even more reluctantly than the first time, I climbed on.

As I settled there, I was aware instantly of the bond of connection, a far stronger sense of belonging, or oneness than before. It was noticeably at odds with the sense of shame I felt and the burning anger and resentment coming from Sania.


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