There was a sort of hollow beauty within Ascalon city. The faint whispers of the land gave the illusion as if the area was still buzzing with life. It all felt so nonchalant yet unnatural. I had an odd relationship with the land here, I found it unwelcoming as a charr yet calming as a necromancer. Sometimes if I stood still and focused on the echoes of the land, I could almost see the old Ascalon.
“Still with me Anavari?” Thoc said, snapping me out of my trance.
“Yes,” I said as I surveyed our surroundings. It was a ruined courtyard with large piles of debris scattered about. So far no ghosts, which was good.
“Good because you always enter your zone when we get near the city and that’s not good when we finally catch up with the flame legion squad Fumus mentioned.”
“Zone?” I inquired.
“Yeah,” Thoc said as we began to scale a mountain of debris towards one of the ruined battlements by the northern side of the city. According to Fumus we were nearing the location of the spotted flame legion squad. “You always get pensive and distracted whenever we’re in a place where a lot of people have died.”
“Do I?” I asked tilting my head. “I suppose I’m sensitive to the energy here.”
“Makes sense,” nodded Thoc. “What do you feel when you’re around these areas?”
“Depends on the place,” I said. “Out here its a mix of emotions everywhere. Some are going about their daily lives, others are enveloped in fear. It’s like walking into a cloud of their memories and taking in a little bit of them.”
“Is it ever rough?” asked Thoc as he took out a pair of his binoculars to gaze at the vast fields of Ascalon.
“At first a bit,” I answered. “I used to confuse the emotions of dead spirits for my own. You learn how to tell the difference eventually, and how to block them out. Sometimes you don’t see them coming though.”
“What do you mean?”
“There was this one instance when I was a cub, I found another cub a bit older than me. She was excited to see me, and since no one is ever excited to see me I made friends with them. After playing with them for a while I stumbled upon their ‘secret hiding spot’, I found their ancient remains crushed by some boulders.”
“That’s… a bit disturbing,” said Thoc “So it was a ghost?”
“Not like the ones here obviously,” I said. “I doubt the cub even knew it was dead. But when I found out myself I was quite unsettled. It took Mara a while to calm me down. Afterwards we searched my books for a way to release the spirit. Once it was gone we burned the remains as per charr tradition.”
“Wow,” said Thoc. “Any other instances like that.”
“No,” I said. “That was when I was becoming more sensitive to residual life forces in areas though. It was also how I could protect myself from them, have too many of these emotions swarm you without any protection and they’re bad for your psyche. You eventually lose yourself in their sorrow, despair, rage. There aren’t that many necromancers in the citadel but from the few I asked, they all approach it the same way. They describe it as walking in a crowd and lightly tapping the consciousness of other spirits, you can tug at them, or sometimes even pull, and you’ll get a sense of what they were feeling. But more often than not it’s easily avoidable. Unless of course its the consciousness of someone you knew, then it becomes complicated.”
“Must be hard if you stumble on someone you knew very well,” mused Thoc.
“I can only imagine,” I said. “I hear some don’t take it well, and the ancient saying of ‘let the dead stay dead’ becomes ignored. That’s when the horror stories happen.” Thoc shivered in response.
“You don’t have to tell me those again,” he said. We remained on the battlements for a while longer, seeing that the squad we were searching for wasn’t in sight. We decided to move further east, being mindful to stay out of sight. After an hour of going through the ruins, scaling walls and avoiding ghosts, Thoc and I were able to spot an area a ways off from the battlements. It was a ways off from the Great Wall, and no ghosts patrolled the area. There was a small fire that had been put out a while ago, but still had a small trail of smoke escaping from it. What appeared to be worn tents were erected, two, each large enough for two charr.
“That must be the spot,” I said pointing at the area from where we stood. Thoc drew out his binoculars and carefully scanned the camp ground.
“No signs that say flame legion,” said Thoc. “But that’s probably expected, they wouldn’t want to arouse suspicion. Also no one’s there, either they’ve abandoned it or they left to gather supplies.”
“My money’s on the latter,” I said. “lets set up a trap for when they come back.” We both quickly found our way down the wall, bounding towards the camping ground. I had my staff ready while Thoc was readying some mines. We decided to closely inspect the tents first before setting the traps, on the off chance that this was actually a normal camp and not a flame legion one. Rummaging through one of the packs inside one of the tents confirmed our assumptions however. We found small sigils containing flame legion carvings, a few with simple orders on them, saying to wait in the area for a ‘signal’.
Thoc began to place his mines while I threw down my marks. Of course I had weakened the magic on my marks so that they couldn’t actually kill, horribly injure but not kill. I assume Thoc had brought modified mines that did the same.The camp was now surrounded by our traps, and we hid. We kept a distance from the camp, hiding within a series of bushes and keeping a watchful eye. It was a nerve wracking few minutes, sitting, waiting. Suddenly we heard footsteps. Thoc and I traded a knowing expression, staying silent. We saw several large lumbering charr walking towards their camp.
“I don’t see why we were thrown here next to the damn ghosts!” said one of the charr, their armor matched standard flame legion equipment.
“Shut your mouth!” said one of the other charr. That was two now. “Keep on whining and I’ll cut your tongue out and feed it to the skelks!”
“Could both of you keep it down?!” Three flame legion charr. “Talk any louder and we might as well tell the entire Black Citadel.” The third charr sounded much older, the leader of the group perhaps.
“Are your mines proximity or remote detonation?” I whispered to thoc, my friend answered by raising the detonator in his hand up to eye level. “Wait for them to trigger mine, then activate yours.” Thoc nodded. They were drawing closer to their camp, every agonizing footstep rioted my anticipation. I waited for the sound of my mark being triggered. It felt like an eternity. They I heard it, a series of disembodied whales along with a loud scream.
“What was that?!” the older charr said as he rushed over to the smallest of the group.
“Now!” I said. Thoc triggered his mines, a flash of blue light enveloped the area, nearly blinding me as everything around the light seemed darker for just a brief moment.
“What did you use?” I asked a bit surprised of the large area of effect of the mines.
“Electric shock stun mines,” said Thoc simply. “It should be enough to leave them helpless for a while.” Thoc then took out some rope from his pack and began to make his way back to the camp. I focused on the un-triggered traps still there and released the magic keeping them active. Once I caught up with Thoc I found the three charr writhing on the floor as small currents of electricity still coursed through their bodies. Thoc handed me a some rope to help tie up the flame legion charr. After a few minutes, we had them bound to each other, making sure they couldn’t do so much as writhe in place. Thoc handed me one of his stimpacks as he drew out his rifle. I administered the injection into one of the charr, the older one, and in seconds he was drawn back into an alert state. Thoc readied his rifle, on the off chance that charr was a shaman and tried to burn the ropes.
“Good evening,” I said channeling a bit of magic through my staff. “I suppose I don’t need to elaborate on the situation now do I?” The charr said nothing to me, he simply maintained his glare
“We need to the location of the other squads,” said Thoc. “We know you have that information. Spit it out now!” The old charr simply gave us a wide smirk, and said nothing else. It was going to be difficult to get information out of him. I glanced at the other two charr that were still dazed.
“Thoc, I need two more stimpacks,” I said. Thoc answered me quickly and and gave me two more syringes. I brought the other two charr back to the conscious world, they started struggling within the ropes, then they began to shout and spew obscenities as they noticed their predicament.
“SILENCE!” I said as I stabbed into the floor with my staff and a plume of green energy escaped into the air. The two other charr immediately ceased their complaining and gave me their undivided attention. “We can do this two ways,” I continued. “We can either stay here a while longer while I force the information out of you, or you can save the both of us a lot of effort and time. So I will ask you all, where are the other squads located?” The old charr remained silent, the other two as well but their eyes were uneasy. As expected. I reached into my pack, I noticed the bound charr were looking at me with a mixture of uncertainty and anxiousness. It all faded once they saw me extract my necromancy book. Their looks were replaced with one’s of disbelief. I walked over to Thoc and whispered into his ear.
“I’ve never done this before,” I said. “So stop me if it looks like I’m hurting myself or going to kill them.” In theory what I was about to do was simple in theory, possibly easy as well, I had thousands of dead Ascalonians to channel for the spell. It was a great risk to me however. I had always wanted to mix my fear spell with other elements and now was a perfect time to test it. I held my book and opened it to the appropriate page, there were a few of my personal notes that I used as bookmarks, I moved them aside.
“You seem like their leader,” I said as I sat down on the floor in front of the old charr. “Legionnaire I presume?” The charr still remained silent. “Tell me Legionnaire, are you a charr of magic?” He tilted his head with curiosity. “You see magic is still quite mysterious in the number of applications for it, with so much freedom with how to weave our magic, magic users are prone to…experimentation.” The charr’s eyes widened. I began to channel the spectral energies around the area as well as my own, my eyes began to glow with a shadowy green glow. I focused on my target, and pried him open to the influence of the spirits. Immediately all the whispers, all the screams, all the emotions began to flood into the charr. I was simply a bridge between the two but I could still feel all the emotions grazing me. All the pressure coming down on me threatening to shatter my own defenses.
The two other charr watched in horror as their leader began to convulse, screaming, was it because of all the scattered memories? Or were these spirits assaulting him because he was a charr? I was curious, however I wasn’t suicidal enough to want to find out. I continued to channel the energies, the charr continued to scream, he began to beg me to stop. That was all I needed. I severed the connection, and repelled the energies away from me. They retreated, back to their city, back to their own torment.
“Please stop…” the old charr continued to say, despite the fact that I already stopped the spell. “Please…” Tears began to stream down his face as his mind began to fall apart. Perhaps I went too far. Regardless I had gotten the desired effect, the remaining two charr were now mortified, they would not hide anything from me now.
“If you don’t want to end up like your friend here,” I said. “Start talking.”
“W-We were going to attack Nolan!” said the smaller of the charr, the one that complained a lot. We had several squads scattered about approaching from all directions!”
“Y-Yeah, two in Oldgate, one in Noxin Dells and the rest in the underground crypts underneath the Blasted Moors.”
My insides turned to ice.
“The Blasted Moors?” I asked.
“Yes,” said the smaller charr. “That’s where most of the squads are. five or six I think, please don’t hurt us!”
Garfas… My mind began to spiral out of controll, my face began to twist into an expression of worry and rage. even my magic began to grow at of control as a faint aura escaped my body.
“Thoc,” I said. “Take the information back to Nageling. I need to head to the Moors and help Garfas.”
“He’s there?!” asked Thoc. “Let me go with you.”
“No,” I said. “You need to get the information to Fumus. tell him to send reinforcements to the Moors, if we take out the squads there the other ones won’t stand a chance against the citadels defenses.”
“And them?” asked Garfas gesturing towards the flame legion charr.
“Can I see you pistol?” Thoc immediately handed me his gun, after holding it in my hand I fired three times to the charr. Each one silencing them permanently.
“No time to waste,” I said tossing the gun back to Thoc. With that I broke into into a sprint on all fours. Not paying attention to anything around me but my destination. I didn’t stop to see if Thoc was going to Nageling or if there were any more flame legion in the area. I ran as fast as my legs would carry me, noticing how much energy my previous spell took from me. It would be a difficult fight, but I had to reach him before it was too late. All I had to do was support him until reinforcements would arrive. I was there in less time than expected, and I immediately spotted a few flame legion patrolling the area, taking out whatever ghosts were around as needed.
Then they spotted me.
“What is that a ghost?!” one of them said.
“No you idiot it’s a necromancer look—” I appeared before him sliding my claws across his neck. I moved over to the other guard and took him out before he had a chance to react. It was then that I noticed the black aura around my body, the death shroud. Every kill made it stronger, and the power was intoxicating. I ran past the fallen charr and was able to find the entrance to the crypts I ran down, hearing the sounds of a fight. Steel clashing against steel. Roars of rage and bloodlust. Then I saw Garfas, surrounded.
His blade was caked in blood, his body had gashes all over and his armor was bent in several areas. He looked exhausted, but he was still fighting. He would become overwhelmed soon though. I looked at the charr closest to him and reached out. A hand of ice shot out, reaching for the enemy, once its sharp fingers closed around the flame charr’s neck, I appeared before him. Garfas was shocked to see me appear from nowhere to say the least.
“Anavari?” He said scanning me and my black shadowy form. “What?”
“No time,” I said as my voice came out distorted from the necrotic energies. “Close your ears!” Garfas followed my instructions and I reared with all my might, channeling my energy through my voice, channeling fear and hatred and pure unfiltered bloodlust. It was enough to make everyone stop for just a brief moment, frozen in either fear or confusion. I took that opportunity to shove an orb of necrotic energy into the nearest charr. Once he was dead I took his sword and brandished it to all the other flame legion soldiers. I stood next to Garfas, ready to fight.
Lets hope all that training you gave me pays off,” I said as the blade I held began to be enveloped by my shroud. I wasn’t looking at him but I could tell that his fire had returned.
“You learned from the best, cub!” roared Garfas. “Now lets show them how good we really are!”