You are bleeding heavily from an open wound. HP -10.
You are no longer stunned.
This rather ominous notification was the last thing the woman called Valeria Vortena saw before her body gave out. Her spirit then rose from her remains and looked on in mute horror as her killer - one of the very mimics she disregarded as a harmless just minutes before - ate her body in a few large bites. It then proceeded to slam itself against the wall for seemingly no reason.
This is what killed me?!
Indeed, the act of being murdered by a moron somehow made this situation even worse than it already was for her. She cursed and insulted the animate chest for a good three hours as her spirit lingered inside that dungeon. Her efforts were all for naught, however, for the yet unnamed Mimic could not converse with disembodied spirits, and simply stood in a single spot, chesting as always. As for the reason why Valeria’s spirit lingered for so long, it was rather simple.
Those who venture into Taboo are not allowed easy deaths.
The young woman had, like every other Necromancer in existence, violated the taboo of Mortimer, the God that presides over matters of death, taxes and commerce. This was made even worse when her rather questionable hobby also earned her the ire of Nyrie, the patron Goddess of plants, fertility and children. Well, it wasn’t quite like those two had personally witnessed her transgressions. Even if they were Gods, they were far from being omniscient or omnipotent.
The Taboo Skill was, ultimately, a Skill. It went up in proficiency under specific conditions, each of which reflected the antithesis of one of the Gods. Things like breaking an oath made in Teresa’s presence, violating the bodies of the dead or copulating with monsters were just a few of the extreme circumstances that could saddle a person with this stigma of a Skill. Still, it’s not like it was a permanent thing. A person with Taboo would be forgiven as long as they wholeheartedly repented and properly made amends for their transgressions against the Gods. Something which usually involved a lot of offerings, praying and maybe a pilgrimage.
However, that only applied if one did so while they were still alive. Those who had proficiency in Taboo were often cursed with undeath after their passing. They were forced to wander the earth in constant agony and turmoil until someone or something absolved them of their sins by murdering the shit out of their rotting corpses. In Valeria’s case, her soul had become ensnared by the dungeon she had died in. The dungeon core had simply performed its function of filling the sprawling cave system with monsters and pulled her spirit into itself. It autonomously bound her to the form of a Level 13 Banshee, a species of specter. Her ego was then suppressed and she was forced to do the dungeon’s bidding as just another of the faceless undead in the Ishigar Dungeon Complex’s Red Zone along with the rest of the undead.
And she performed her function, quite admirably so. Her brief life as an adventurer and a Necromancer seemed to give her just the edge she needed. Even if her sense of self had been robbed of her, the practical skills and habits that had been drilled into her by her guild still remained. Her mindless, barely conscious self used those to great effect as she helped her undead brethren prey upon targets of opportunity.
However, she also found herself drifting away from the Red Zone and into the Yellow and Green zones. The grudge she held over being murdered by a stupid box was also something that remained and caused her to drift away from her assigned area. Those little detours didn’t last long before the dungeon’s leash pulled her back, but they were not entirely for naught. She did manage to cause the death of everyone unfortunate enough to come across her path. Being completely unprepared to face an ethereal enemy meant that they were easy pickings for her.
As a result, she had steadily progressed all the way up to Level 20 over the next two weeks or so. And as she grew in power, so did the dungeon’s hold over her psyche weaken. It was at this point that Valeria found herself almost unthinkingly using her newly acquired Possession Skill on a Level 7 elven ranger in the Green Zone. The barely awake part of her yearned to once again own a living body, so she practically leapt at the chance to inhabit a beautiful woman like that.
One of the woman’s companions, a low-leveled Priest, managed to notice the change in her demeanor and directed the rest of her party to restrain the young woman. His training prior to setting out as an adventurer helped him recognize the signs of an evil spirit within his teammate. However, he lacked the necessary Skills and Spells to exorcise Valeria. Under such circumstances, he immediately rallied the rest of his team to leave the dungeon at once and seek help in town.
It was at this point that Valeria’s link to the dungeon was forcibly severed. She found herself as a hostile spirit inhabiting a young woman’s body against her will. Bound and gagged as she was, she could do nothing to speak or communicate with the young adventurers. Being dragged off in that state gave her a good opportunity to properly reassess and come to grips with her situation. She remained in silent introspective until she realized this party was taking her to the church, where she would undoubtedly get destroyed by a senior Priest. Not wishing to taste death a second time, she quietly undid the Possession and withdrew into a side alley next to the church.
The platinum-blonde elf seemed to fall unconscious after being released. Her comrades had been instructed by their Priest to ignore her behavior until after the exorcism, which is why they didn’t particularly react to her going completely limp like that. Valeria watched silently from her hiding place as the group walked into the building. She knew a thing or two about the undead, which is why she wanted to avoid treading on hallowed ground.
However, that did not mean she had given up on possessing that woman’s body. Valeria may have been human once, but she was a monster now. Her earlier desire to once again own a body capable of touch, smell and taste had not wavered in the slightest. If anything, it had only gotten even more intense. And if there is one thing Valeria was always weak to, it was succumbing to her desires.
So she lurked outside the church, waiting until the holy men were done with their pointless ceremonies. Night had already come by the time the adventurer party she had her eyes on had left the church and proceeded towards their lodgings. She stalked the woman from afar, using her incorporeal form to keep herself out of sight. Slowly, patiently, until the unsuspecting elf returned to the inn she was staying at and fell asleep.
That’s when Valeria forcibly took control of the elf’s body once more, spending the next few hours cementing her hold on it. She forcibly subdued the elf’s ego and invaded her memories, fully intending to masquerade as her for as long as possible. By the time she was thoroughly in control, it was already past midnight. She then spent the next two hours or so furiously masturbating, desperate to once again feel the pleasures of the flesh. However, the sensations felt foreign, distant, vague even. It was, after all, not her body. So while the act was pleasurable to some degree, it was also highly frustrating at the same time.
Eventually, there was a knock on her door. Dawn had arrived while she was diddling herself and the elf’s teammates had dropped by to check up on her. She made up some excuse about needing more rest and they seemed to buy it, leaving her to her own devices. However, rather than return to her pointless act of self-pleasuring, the undead Valeria decided she would take this time to look for a better way. Although not completely, her newly found instincts seemed to be mostly satiated, which allowed her to think with a relatively clear head for once.
She waited a while before sneaking out of her room and absconding into the alleys of Monotal. The possessed elf quickly and swiftly made her way towards her house, a plain hovel at the edge of the slums. It had apparently already been broken into, not surprising considering its only resident had died over two weeks ago. Rushing into the house and into her old bedroom, she dove under her bed and lifted a loose floorboard. Relief washed over her as she realized the only truly valuable thing in this house was left untouched. Her slender hand reached into the secret compartment underneath and withdrew a dusty, leather-bound tome.
This was her uncle’s journal. She had managed to dredge up the memories of its existence after she had calmed herself down somewhat, but part of her wish she hadn’t. That rotten, hateful old drunkard had abused and sexually assaulted her when she was still a child. His unforgivable behavior and her mother’s unwillingness and/or inability to protect her only daughter had steadily turned the energetic and cheerful Valeria into a cold, twisted person. A fact that fully manifested itself when she murdered them both at the age of 17. As for her father, she never even met the deadbeat, but she was sure she would probably kill him too if she had the chance.
She then quickly took everything of value in her home and left that painful place behind. She traveled by her lonesome through the Empire, whoring herself out to survive whenever possible or resorting to stealing if that didn’t work out. It was during this time that her rather unusual hobby started to develop, as neither man nor elf was capable of satisfying her.
After several years of that lecherous lifestyle, she had finally saved up enough money to finance her adventuring career. Even if it was a way of making money, being an adventurer was not free. Gear and equipment had to be purchased, guild fees had to be paid and she still needed food to eat and a place to sleep on top of everything else. All things considered, it really wasn’t a surprise it took her so long to escape her vagrant lifestyle. She had become a Necromancer, just as she had intended, and then she was brutally murdered by a box.
And now she was in the present - a dead woman forcibly controlling the body of an innocent elven girl. And the thing in her hands held the answers to her current dilemma. She quickly left the hovel behind and returned to the inn before anyone realized she had snuck out. Valeria then spent the majority of the day re-reading her uncle’s journal.
The man in question was an Enchanter and worked as a researcher for Arcaneum some 40 years ago. His journal told of many interesting things that he really was not supposed to have written down. He went into surprising detail describing the research he and his friends performed on the undead, up on some research outpost deep in the Sawblade Mountains. Although he also went into much greater detail describing the ‘assets’ of his female co-workers, which was completely irrelevant to Valeria.
The really important information - the one she was really after - was the discovery he and his team made shortly before being sacked for his misconduct and harassment. They had found a method of producing a phylactery, a vessel that would allow one to remotely store their soul and obtain eternal life as a lich, albeit at the cost of their humanity. That last bit had always given the human Valeria pause, but the banshee formerly known as Valeria no longer had such reservations.
This was the solution to her current problem. A lich’s body was one forged out of mana by the power of the phylactery. It wasn’t exactly alive, but it wasn’t quite dead, either. It was the best thing she could shoot for, given her unliving circumstances. And while the journal did not contain the actual method to create a phylactery, it gave a lot of hints as to where she could start looking.
However, that search would have to wait. Her comrades, or rather the elf’s comrades, had once again returned to her room. It would appear they wished to return to the dungeon, despite it almost being sunset. They had an urgent Quest to complete and could not wait any longer. Feeling that perhaps feigning tiredness once again would make them suspicious, the possessed elf somewhat reluctantly accepted to going with them. It was also a good opportunity to get used to her new body, so it’s not like there was no benefit to her. Besides, she had intimate knowledge of that dungeon, so she felt pretty good about being able to survive in there.
That decision turned out to be a poor one, however. Because the first monster that the four of them ran into after reaching the dungeon’s entrance was none other than a Mimic that had just had its first taste of freedom.
This is how Valeria ‘died’ a second time.
Some part of her had realized that the monster she just met was the same individual that killed her a few weeks ago. Sure, the spider legs were new, but just how many sword-swinging chests could there be in one dungeon? However, even if she was sure of its identity, she felt it was perhaps for the best if she just retreated. That thing honestly terrified her, and she was unsure if she could actually defeat it in 1-on-1 combat.
The banshee species was not one suited to direct conflict, after all. Even if her Ethereal Body Skill allowed her to phase through physical objects, it still consumed MP when she did so. Not to mention that her only method of attacking was to use the Sonic Scream Skill she was re-born with, and using that would also deplete her MP pool.
In other words, she would lose if the fight lasted long enough. And there was a good chance such a thing would happen if the way it took hits without flinching was any indication. Therefore, she decided to cut her losses and rapidly withdraw from the dungeon. She also gave up on foolishly trying to Possess people anymore and simply flew off into the mountains.
Eventually she found the old undead research outpost detailed in her uncle’s journal. The land surrounding it had already been tainted by Blight, meaning this was undoubtedly the place. She then set about searching the place, using her incorporeality to ferret out any secret rooms or compartments.
And as luck would have it, she had found an unused phylactery behind a bookshelf on the 4th floor, along with the notes detailing its creation. This outpost’s goal was to find a way of controlling feral undead en-masse to be used a sort of weapon during wartime. They had gotten as far as being able to produce a lich’s phylactery, but were unable to find out the method of actually transforming into one. Disappointed with their continued lack of progress, the Empire had decided to cancel the project and reassign those people elsewhere.
However, the lead researcher in charge of this place would have none of it. The man had spent nearly 35 years on this endeavor and refused to let his life’s work disappear so easily. Which is why he selfishly hid away their phylactery prototype and research notes like this. Come to think of it, this item’s presence might just be what caused the Blight to spread here in the first place. After all, a research station like this probably had numerous Paladins and Priests to make sure such a thing didn’t happen. If they were here to keep an eye on this place, that is.
As for Valeria, she was pretty sure she knew of at least one method of becoming a lich. She used her Possession Skill on the phylactery. Literally putting her soul in the fancy egg seemed to work, as it greedily accepted it and triggered a premature Rank Up into a Lesser Lich. It then created a body for her out of pure mana, just as she envisioned it. It was a twisted reflection of her time as a human, but more importantly, it finally felt like her own body. Even her special place was fully restored to function, much to her great joy.
Valeria then spent an entire day doing nothing but pleasuring herself. She didn’t need to eat or sleep and never tired, so she literally just kept going at it over and over and over. But then until her old habits started resurfacing and she was once again feeling strangely frustrated. Her fingers just weren’t enough anymore, and the undead remained as ill-equipped for this task as always. Even if she captured a random wolf or troll, it would be far too terrified to even get an erection. These were the same problems she faced before she was able to obtain her Monster Tamer Job. After all, nothing could quite compare to a rutting beast that willingly and desperately thrust in and out of her, filling her completely with its seed.
Unfortunately, such things seemed to be completely out of her reach. Which is why she decided to distract herself by raising her Jobs and Skills. Which she did with frightening speed, allowing her to grow from a Level 20 Banshee to a Level 25 Banshee and Level 41 Lich in under two months. Which is about the time when she got an unexpected visit from a gnome Paladin and was murdered for the third time by one Boxxy T. Morningwood.
Her physical body regenerated next to her phylactery in the basement about an hour later. She had cooled down considerably by then and considered her options. Using her incorporeal form, she was able to confirm the Mimic and that gnome were both searching for something. Considering that the only thing of value in this shithole was her phylactery, she decided it would be best to act quickly and kill them off. Their bodies should’ve been wracked by Blight, so she wanted to ambush and trap them before they had a chance to leave and recover.
The inexperienced lich’s over-eagerness would then lead to the worst case scenario of having her phylactery captured. Her spirit was now confined to the dark, claustrophobic confines of its egg-shaped vessel. And while she seemed unable to regenerate her body for some reason, the fact that her gilded shell still appeared to be intact gave her some peace of mind.
After what felt like days stuck inside, but was actually closer to 7 hours, her body finally started regenerating. It appeared inside a shallow cave that was obviously nowhere near her Blighted home. Valeria found herself staring down a murderous box, a pint-sized Paladin with a crazy look in her eye, a heavily-breathing succubus holding a staff and a four-armed gigantic fiend that looked like she really wanted to smash the lich into paste.
The undead woman briefly assessed the situation and, after confirming her all-important phylactery was nowhere in sight, came to a singular conclusion.
I’m fucked, aren’t I?