She swirls the vial of blood .. the bone chips surfacing and then disappearing over and over. Her thoughts distant as the crackle of the dying fire cast dim light on room. She swirls again watch as though entranced, catching glimpses of the fire light as they momentarily shot through the edges of the glass bottle.
In her mind the scene changes, a flashback to a childhood, a dying fire, and a sister holding her hand asking for another treat before the fire died out completely and it was off to bed. "Just one more Dee" the younger looked up with innocent eyes. Dee looked down at her younger sister with a smile and handed the last sweet she had. "Ok Anessa Just the one and then we are off to bed" Anessa beamed as she took bites of the treat and with each one she shot a smile to Dee. "Your the bestest sister ever Dee" Dee looked down and smiled unaware that within hours she would never hold her sisters hand again.
Shadows dancing across the wall startles her back to the present, she eyes them as the fire makes her outline dance to her side on the ground and up onto the mid part of the wall. She puts away the vial, her shadow on the wall moving as she does, she catches a glimpse of another shadow on the wall -- "Your here" she states in a hushed voice to the shadow on the wall. She looks around the empty room and refocuses on the wall .. "I've almost worked out the spell." She reaches her hand out toward the shadow on the wall, the two growing closer as she reaches "hold my hand my sweet little sister" As her fingers finally touch the wall and shadow meets her soft touch, she curls up, rests her head against the cold stone wall and sobs herself to sleep.
It had been a week since her prayers and she found herself wondering if it worked. Do the gods hear them at all or are they just there to play and torment us. Many must be praying at the same time she surmised. It could be I need something to get more attention to her prayer like she had thought once before at the altar. She scoffed and shook her head trying to clear it .. “These hopes of getting help are getting me nowhere.” She needed real power, just for a brief moment, and she needed a real path to that power. She found herself rubbing the leather of her black book. She placed the book back on the stand and continued working on its teachings.
She gloved her hands looking down at the table her eyes barely visible behind the helm she always wore in Oscura. It muffled her voice as she talked to the lifeless body on the table “The book has real power, methods to make one more powerful and even those must hold some sort of sustained magic until used. Perhaps a battery of some sort .. a magic battery which could hold the magic until I required it. Build it up and then release in one massive spell.” She smiled at her idea while she soaked the rags and applied them to the corpse. “Not certain this will work for you but will will try.” She wrapped the body like she had seen the mummies wrapped in the crypt. Using the solution from the book the reasoned the solution would do the same to dead skin as her would to hers. She already felt she was more durable, why that was she wasn’t entirely sure, this was a way to find out. “Ok then”. She raised her hands and cast negative energy into the corpse .. the ray glowing red illuminated the rest of the room. She struck it 3 times and nodded. “Let’s see how you are in a few days.” She threw the gloves in the fire and collected all the left over parts of the mixture she had made to soak the rags. One by one she put them into the fire and watched them burn. Certain things seemed to take magical fire to successfully get rid of so the burning hands spell she found had become very handy.
She packed everything that was left and wrapped her book in its special case tucking it away. She needed to find a permanent place where she didn’t have to hide all the components, mixtures, and experiments. The Priest should be able to help there. She thought as she cast invisibility and slipped out of the room, through the doors and into the city. As she walked, nodding to the other citizens politely, she couldn’t help but to think about the Altar, The Priests, the Promises, “Where is he .. he promised to help ..” by the time she entered the cave, It was Onyx who was in full control. Wielding a two handed sword she cut her way through the KoaToa not even stopping to grab their belongings. She ascended the stairs looking back at the group who followed her laying motionless on the floor. She felt better .. putting away her sword and casting invisibility again, she entered the snake cave and looked around . In a dark corner she removed her helm, sighing a bit of relief as she did. She quickly tucked it away and moved into the forest, stopping by the water to rinse herself of the nastiness of battle. She paused watching the blood disappear into the water, clean, and refreshed, it was never there in the first place. The stream carrying all the nastiness out to sea eventually, she thought.
She splashed clean water on her face and as the ripples died down she caught her reflection in the water. She tried to remember the last 12 hours, it was all a bit fuzzy, some like a dream, some parts very real. “If I don’t remember then it must not have happened” she whispered to her reflection. Smiling she rose, clean, refreshed, ready to go once more into the world and find her friends.
She stopped just before the city entrance and cast invisibility. She put on her black armor, and with a bit of hesitation slid on the black helm. Once it was on however she sighed a bit of relief. The helmet gave her anonymity here, and anywhere else for that matter, it allowed her to summon her minions without judgement as to why or for what purpose. Many will jump to conclusion about why she was going down this path, like her former mentor, they simply will not understand the end goal is to revive her sister. She always wore the helm in the city but only in times of need outside the city. The helm allowed her to summon with at least some protection from those who would judge. The 'Means to and end' didnt always sit well with everyone but she had already passed that point .. anything is doable so long as her sister was returned.
She had noticed she became different in the helm. It scared her a bit, she was more emboldened when she wore it, more confident, more determined, "Time to poke at the bear" she thought pushing open the gates to Oscura.
"Halt" a guard cried out as the gates swung open. She dropped her spell and became visible to them -- Clad in black armor head to toe, a spiked crown black helm atop her head, only her eyes were visible, a bloody rag in her hand. "Greetings Gentlemen, I am Onyx ... I wish to pass." the guards looked at the rag and simply nodded as she passed. They had seen her many times over the last few weeks. Oscura had become a sanctuary for her to further her rituals. Private places where people rarely went and only citizens can go as well as laws which allowed her practices to be viewed in a different light than just purely evil.
She stepped in to the temple .. it was a neutral altar but this is where she had knelt before and said the prayer. She still didnt really believe the gods cared for them at all. Sure they are probably around but they look to us like we look to ants. They are there but I dont care what they are doing.
Frowning she took one knee, looking squarely at the altar, "I am Onyx, Promises were made and Ive still not received even a hint on how to bring back my sister. These promises were not made by you but your priest. He has committed you to showing me the way -- and yet he is not around and you are silent. If you value me show me a sign, if not, Ill find a way to get your attention."
She rose and turned with an arrogant flare and as she walked away she was doubting anyone or anything even heard what she had said --- but promises where made and she was determined that the priest kept his.
She looked over the pages of the black runed book as she had done countless times since she found it. Some things so perfectly clear while others still clouded, convoluted, changing it seemed daily as she tried to unravel the spells. Closing the book she placed it back on the stand and sat watching it. As always it mocked her, leering, jeering, it was cunning she thought. A streak of anger shot through her mind and she drew her dagger and stood over the book --- she laughed “Im getting used to your games” she said aloud. She sheathed her dagger. She felt it again, like something poking at her mind, trying to annoy her. “Enough for tonight. I need rest.” She sat back in her chair and watched the book as she fell asleep.
“You look well” she opened her eyes to see her old master sitting on the desk, magic wards and protections emanating from his body.
“Alinar?” She rose from her chair .. he didn’t move.
“Yes my wayward student. It seems I am too late -- you have become what you have sought to.” He stood raising his staff to his side.
“You would not help me bring her back and now I have someone who will” She stood boldly waiving her finger.
“But at what cost child?” He looked her over closely nodding “I can sense the changes in you already. You are becoming strong Ill give you that.” He moved to her. “Necromancy will only bring you sorrow and we both know what this will bring.” Gesturing to the book. “It’s a gateway to power but at a price.” He opened it to pages she had yet to understand “You don’t even know what you will become do you?”
She froze for a minute “its worth it to save my sister”
he gave her a stern look .. “Is it? Continue this path and you will be hunted, it has already begun in fact, your two friends from school. They will be found out soon. What oath did you have with them? What information can they give to lead the hunters to your door?”
She thought for a moment tilting her head , drew her dagger and thrust at him. He didn’t move at all and her strike went through him. “Your not here or you would have already taken the book”
she laughed a bit but it was cut short as she felt herself being choked.
“Oh Im here, Ive a warning, you best prepare. They will come, you are not ready, you need to focus!” She gasped for air, the grip was much stronger than she had remembered him. “You chose the path, even after I warned you this very night, you still choose to continue! “ She felt herself slam back into the desk chair “Then Continue! Finish! .. Prepare yourself!” the voiced boomed in the room, loud enough it seemed to shake the entire Inn.
… she awoke, her own hands still clasping her neck, she released the grip she had on herself and took in a deep breath. “A dream.” She looked over to the book, tilting her head trying to understand what had happened, it was lying open to the pages she had been working to understand. Her eyes darted around the room, she was alone, noone else here. She stood up and went to the window opening it for some air. She breathed in the cold night wind whistling through the trees and waking her senses . She closed the window and right before it shut she could make out a whisper in the wind … ‘prepare….’. She latched the window and returned to her chair, her desk, her black runed book.
He instructed her over the next few days on many different techniques on how to animate undead. Most of it was similar to what she had been reading but his skill was much greater and different than hers. “You must go and practice”, he said plainly, “once you have mastered this summon I will teach you another.” “And my sister?” her tone was serious. “In time .. you are not ready” he replied and then walked off leaving her in the room with several undead Koa-Toa and a tore up zombie. She looked at the zombie – lifeless and unaware, she gripped her sword and swung it at a Koa –Toa which was still moving a bit, cleaving him into, “I better be ready soon” .. her thoughts came out of her mouth before she knew it -- the helm muffled them enough he could not have heard her as he walked away. She removed her helm, dismissed her summon, and headed out of the caverns.
She moved easily through the darkness of the forest , she had become more accustomed to the dark lately, a handy thing indeed but she found it strange. Her companion was waiting at the mouth caves. They had both wanted to see what could be found within. She had never been but her companion seemed very at home there. Walking through they stumbled on an odd sight. Several dead bodies laid out across the floor, there must have been a dozen, and a small armored goblin going through each of their pockets. Her companion order the goblin to halt .. it seemed very intimidated by him .. Her companion was interested in a hidden room … somewhere below the main halls. Over the next few hours, He used various methods to persuade the goblin to tell them, sometimes She felt a bit sorry for the poor creature, it was trapped, could not escape the pair of adventures and was certainly terrified. His name was Gorks ((DM RUST)) and twice she had to heal him before he died as her companion put bindings on Gorks so hard they cut into him and made him bleed. “Such a simple creature” she thought “but one which could be of use.” She went along for a few hours, her companion torturing the creature to get what he wanted, when finally Gorks could not give any further information , her companion grabbed it and was about to slam it into the wall. “Stop” she yelled. “I will talk with Gorks more. You go see what is in that chest .. after all its more interesting than him isn’t it?” Her Companion reluctantly put Gorks down and before he could move she cast her spell.
Gorks relaxed, her voice was so soothing, soft, and warm -- he had been charmed by her spell. “Now Gorks, you and I are friends, and I don’t want my companion to hurt you so we need to work together.” He shook his head yes “Soon I will send you home .. you do want to go home don’t you?” He shook his head yes again. “Good, then tell us about your master and your job here” Gorks recounted that he collected the bodies from the nearby graves for the shiny things they had, they would then get rid of the bodies in the well or down the rivers. She noted what he said as they walked along to the entrance of the cave. “Ill leave you to your pet” her companion said flatly and left the cave.
She turned back to Gorks, he was still very charmed by her spell, she put on her armor and helmet – “Gorks you may call me Onyx” he nodded and repeated her name. “I will come here and seek your help doing some chores for me, and I will offer many nice things.” She pulled out a hand full of shiny rocks and small gems. Looking at him through her helmet she handed him the gems. “You will remember me wont you Gorks? Your friend Onyx who healed your wounds, who saved you from being killed, and rewarded you when you did what you were told” He nodded yes, his eyes looking over the gems greedily. “Then go home and I shall return when I need you.” He scurried off. She watched him disappear into the caves before turning and exiting the cave herself. She needed to find a place to advance her experiments. Some place private and secure. She walked off into the evening smiling and making a list of chores in her head for Gorks.
((( OOC NOTE )))
DM Rust : [Tell] Alright, for now, consider Gorks a good source to recover "corpses" for you. I can give you a following on this if you wish to do that ahead in time.
DM Rust : [Tell] next to Gorks name, make sure to put an ((OOC note)) With my DM name, so the team knows who to address if you ever want to contact Gorks again.
((( END NOTE ))))
She didn’t much believe in the gods … afterall they could not even bring her sister back. She remembered the local priests saying “There is nothing left to raise .. her body is ash .. she beyond bringing back.” Since that time she had learned that wasn’t true, it could have been possible, they were just not powerful enough and their gods ignored her pleas for help. Frowning at the thought, Her eyes wandered to the book propped up on a stand, closed at the moment, the strange symbols carved into its cover mocking her. She slammed her fist on the table, looking straight at the black book and screamed ”Im still working on it!” Her actions, of late had become more aggressive and her drive to finish the series of rituals was always nagging at her, poking at her, a constant reminder she had things to do.
She jumped up from her desk and stormed out into the night. She had walked for hours before coming upon a figure and his companion which halted her in her tracks. “Hello” the dark figure said as it waved forward what seemed to be a vampire under command. She looked and instinctively drew her weapon. Chuckling the figure motioned the vampire forward. Panicked a bit she recited the spell she had practiced over the last few weeks .. the ground writhed and her zombie rose. “Protect me” she commanded. The zombie moved in front of her. “A cute pet” the stranger said … “but things like this should not be done in the open young one. Follow me if you wish to learn how to harness this power.” She looked at the skull mask .. and then to the vampire .. she was easily out matched .. he could have killed her already, perhaps this person could show her more. “Very well” she said returning her zombie to the earth. The stranger turned and started walking into the woods, she followed keeping one hand on her dagger, she couldn’t win but she’d not go down without a fight. To her surprise the stranger was quite polite, though he gave her an obviously made up name, but perhaps anonymity was required now .. certainly she didn’t want people knowing about the book. He sent away the vampire and as they wallked he asked her about what she was doing. Why she would summon such things what were her goals? She recounted her sisters tale. “I want my sister back. In a living body. Not in these shells. And Ive nothing to do that with as her ashes are scattered.” He fixed his gaze upon her “mmm you speak of forcing a soul into another living body. Yes this can be done. My master can help. All you need to do is say a prayer.”
She about burst out laughing, oh the gods again she thought, yes the ones who never seem to be able to help but always wish for your time and dedication to the church causes. The ones who promise power and fall short when its needed most. She wasn’t sure they even existed. “A Prayer? And you will also aid me yes? Im not just relying on your god .. I get your help as well correct?” he Nodded saying something about being in his flock she wasn’t really listening only that he agreed to help her. He was obviously powerful - none she had seen could summon what he had. She struck a deal -- “I will become all you wish .. my sister back in a living body. This is the agreement … yes?” he nodded “All in time.” She knelt before the altar and recited what he told her. He began to cast a spell as it finished she felt something wash over her, it didn’t feel like a spell but it had to have been. “Welcome to the Church ….” She interrupted him before he could say the false name she had given him before .. “Onyx … you can call me Onyx.” He nodded “ Welcome to the church Onyx, Come then .. lets begin.”
“This is it.” She held up the vial of blood swirling it around. Glancing over the to shadow of herself on the wall. “the final spell” her hands wave around over the vial and a ray of negative energy burst forth from her hands, just as the books had described, she focused it on the crystal stopper in the flask. She looked again to the shadow, the vial pulsating with a eerie red light. “Mastery of death .. this is the knowledge it promises .. I should be able to understand more about how to communicate with your and even bring you back.” She swirled the potion and drank the contents. For a brief second she thought she saw the shadow on the wall wave its hands and motion as if crying out … then the pain hit. Stumbling backwards she slammed into the wall of the small cave, her whole body convulsing against the changes, she grasped her stomach and tried to stand. It was no use, she rolled over succumbing to the mind numbing pain, she could not think, and could barely see .. she heard a soft whisper .. “Anessa?” .. she looked up but all grew dark.
She awoke to a fire long since dead, from the looks of it she could have been out for at least a few days. The pain in her stomach was replaced by an incredible hunger, opening her pack she ate some rations and tried to recount what had happened, sipping water as she thought. After at time, She relit the fire and ensured the rock to the cave was still in place. It was .. not many could move it and she was only able to with summoned help. She collected the vial and threw it in the fire destroying any evidence of the ritual. She opened old scroll and re-read the incantation.. to her surprise she was able to decipher it now. An odd spell, advanced necromancy it seemed, from her very limited training from the books she surmised it was a way to open the negative plane for a short time. Perhaps enough time to communicate.
She focused on the bones she had found, closed her eyes and thought of Anessa, her hands moved almost without effort or knowledge of what was happening then the spell took form. A Moaning from the darkness …. “Anessa can you hear me?” A slow sliding shuffle echoed off the walls of the cave “who’s there” She drew her weapon and enflamed it, the extra light illuminated the entire cave now, a figure shambling toward her .. it was a zombie. “stay back!” she cried and raced to cast another spell but lost concentration as she watched the zombie stop and not move. She held a tight grip on the sword holding it in front of her. “Back” she said again, the zombie moved backwards. She used one hand to rub her eyes not believing what was happening, but still the zombie remained, “Just Go away.” The zombie crumbled to the ground motionless, decaying rapidly into the soil. Magic brought it forth so it must be it returns just as fast she guessed. But that was just the point .. she knew she was guessing and grasping at things, she was not trained to fully understand what she was doing but nothing would stop her from trying to reach her sister.
She picked up the old scroll again and studied it, she began to see the pattern - one she recognized. She quickly took a book from her pack .. one which had eluded her, spells she could never seem to cast and parts of the book seemed hidden or obscured somehow making the text hard to read. But now, its seemed more clear, the more she studied it the more she understood it .. This was not a one part Ritual .. it was a series of them .. all designed to master death as this book called it. She looked over the next ritual … so many more components to find .. she made a list of them and wrote it in a code she was taught in school. Packing everything away she held up a stone and called forth an Earth elemental “Move the stone.” The elemental pushed on the giant rock away. She walked into the night her mind bent on one thing .. complete the next ritual.
She sat in the chair – nervous, trying to keep from showing it, but he could tell. “You simply cannot be attempting these kinds of spells .. you can lose your mind if your not ready. Your sister has moved on … you need to let her go.” Her eyes locked on him with a rebellious glare. “I only want to speak to her, she hasn’t moved on, her spirit is always near – I can feel it.” He looked at her sternly “Your not willing to give this up?” She shook her head no in a youthful defiance “Then you leave me no choice, Ive already contacted your benefactor, you will be returning back to their care tomorrow. Go and pack your things.”
A chill ran down her spine, she stood up from the chair, bowed slightly, and left to room to go pack. Leaving the wizards home would mean no more progressing, She’d never be able to contact her sister let alone bring her back. She scribbled down two notes and slid them under doors on the way back to her room. “Ive got to leave .. meet me at 3 am, the usual place.”
3 am came quicker that she wanted but out of the shadows two other figures became visible. “Are we really going to do this?” One asked. “Yes .. Ill take the blame Im certain but Ill be gone by then. Just make the diversion severe enough it draws attention. “ she looked at the both “We will see each other soon Im sure .. I can always write I just wont use my name and what I learn I will pass on to you both.” Both nodded in agreement. “Let’s begin.”
The large oak tree in the front lit the whole front of the manner the fire dancing across the yard threatening the barns and hedges close to the manor itself. Alinar stepped in front and began casting spells to suppress the fire unaware that he was being robbed of books --- not those on the shelf … but the ones she saw when in his office which bore the same markings as what she sought.
The pseudo-dragon lay sleeping, the laced meat worked well and she was happy to have a friend who knew herbalism. She gingerly took the books she thought would help, Planar, Necromancy, Transmutation, Divination. Even books she couldn’t read but had the markings which matched. Stuffing them all into her pack she turned and left a small note on her former Masters Desk.
“I don’t blame you but you cannot understand. Borrowed some books .. They will be returned to you as soon as I can copy or understand them. No need to try to find me I will be gone and hidden before my so called benefactor arrives. Oh – He is just sleeping , your familiar, he will awake very well rested as will the rest of the horses in the stable, save for the one I took. He will return by morning. You taught us to adapt our spells to the situation, this is me adapting, I hope you understand.”
She quickly left the room and then the manor through the back door, her friends and the horse waiting in silence, she looked over their faces .. “Take care of each other” they all hugged. She jumped onto the horse and without a second look, disappeared into the night.
“You think she will be ok alone?” the boy looked at her briefly and then back to where Dee disappeared into the woods. “I don’t think she is ever alone.”
Alinar watched his student from a distance, Dee was an excellent student, driven, intelligent, focused, all the things a teacher could want. She excelled in enchantment and conjuration the most. It took some time before he had realized she as well as others were reading books copied or even “borrowed” from the shelves he forbade them from looking into. He suspected they were working together, someone to distract his familiar guardian, and someone to grab the book, it had happened before for with gifted students. It was sort of a game he and his best would play.
He stood in front of the shelf he lets his students “see” mostly these shelves where informative books, Very little danger, but they allowed the students a chance to choose and get to know most types of magic. He scanned the advanced shelves, many of the books had been tampered with, he chuckled to himself seeing most of the outer plane informative books had been removed and re-shelved. “Trying to bolster summons it seems” his smile fades as he comes across the third shelf .. fifth book from the left. While the book was accurate in what it explained and certainly no spells of note in its bindings … it was there to warn him of students who could potentially go awry. He made a short list in his head of the students capable of accessing these books. He would need to have a talk with each, a course correction before they got themselves into trouble.
She runs her hand over the book cover, dark black thick leather, old tarnished brass bindings she remembers when she first saw it…..
"What about speaking to those who have died." Dee's instructor looked over with compassion but steeled himself and gave a stern answer. "That kind of magic is dangerous and unpredictable. Without proper protections and preparations you don’t know who or what you may be contacting. Just focus on the lesson." Dee lowered her head, the young apprentice returning to the spell at hand. She waved her hand and a rainbow erupted from her fingers. "Good. Very Good." her instructor said as he walked past checking on everyone's progress. Dee was an excellent student, quick to study and intelligence that rivaled her mentor's. "I’ve finished the lesson can I go look at the books now?" the instructor looked to Dee and nodded ... "Only the first shelf and remember to study your languages."
Dee smiled and ran off to the back room. It was filled to books, magical trinkets, and a small Pseudodragon resting on a desk, ever watchful of those who entered. " Wunhumydr Myniichw" Dee said with a smile. The Pseudodragon looked at her briefly and then laid back down letting her know it was ok. She ran her fingers gently over the books on the first shelf there were many strange titles and language books. Her eyes scanned all the titles none of which jumped out at her, she grabbed the book 'Pronunciation of Draconic made simple' opened it and began running her fingers along the page. To the casual observer she was studying Draconic, but her eyes where scanning books on other shelves, shelves she wasn’t supposed to be reading. Finally she spots what she is looking for “Negative Material Plane and necromantic spells” third shelf – fifth from the left.
She smiled as she closed the book in hand returning it to the shelf. Pulling out a cheese cloth from her bag she unfolded a piece of raw venison, looked over at the familiar and tossed it to him. “E Drhuiedr poiwyhui poitydrunlii.” The Pseudodragon snapped it up and she left the room …..
She looked down, snapping out of the daydream, the book’s bindings are open. She takes a deep breath “Almost ready.”