The White Lich [Fan-Fic] (Chapter 18 - Preparing for Finale)

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The White Lich [Fan-Fic] (Chapter 18 - Preparing for Finale)

Post by Jarkko »

Author's Note:
Through a quick search I noticed, that I'm not the only one pondering about the origin of the undead and necromancy for that matter. That question, the fact that there's no answer and a gaping hole in Wesnoth's pre-history inspired me to start working on this prologue of all prologues - The White Lich, a story of sorrow, deception and treachery.

Sit back, enjoy and take your time, for there is a lot to read. Commenting and critique is open for everyone - Just note: English is not my first language and I know there will be loads of errors, I can't see.

Further Notes by Author:
Just because this topic seems to be dead, it doesn't mean the story itself is. Due to my military service I am naturally away from home, where the original manuscript lies. The story is still making progress, though it's very slow.


The White Lich
By: Jarkko Patteri

Part I: Healer
I: A Bite

You know the undead, right? Vile creatures. Hopeless spirits of ancient times confined to the world of the living once again. Those, who invoke them, the necromancers, are criminals who deserve to be slain at sight. That’s what you will hear, if you ask about the undead. But ask about where they came from and you will surely have even the most skillful archmage confused.

While scholars and historians find the question difficult to answer, the true story lives in legends and folklore. As I tell you the story of the White Lich, we will travel to a distant land at an ancient, nearly forgotten time. We’ll go back to distant west long before our ancestors even knew ”Green Isle”.

There lived one Zarek. A cheerful man, they said. He was a healer and a very good healer, so to speak. He did pretty much the same things, healers are expected to do today. He travelled from town to town, cured wounds, removed deadly diseases, delivered children and treated those at death’s door. Only few truly understood, how he managed in all that.

He was also rather adventurous in a manner of speaking. He experiemented with his skills, bending and twisting his incantations, drawing his scribblings differently, hoping something to happen. He was driven by a higher cause, The eternal question: ”Why?” He was seeking answers and deep in his heart he knew, that his studies could tell the right questions.

It wasn’t bizarre, that Zarek would isolate himself to his study room for days. Townsfolk took it as another vigorous experiement. When that happened, his wife, Gwenyth, took care of Zarek’s duties. While she weren’t able to do as much as Zarek could, he had taught her a few simple healing tricks, just to keep the business running. She accepted Zarek’s weird behaviour. Everyone knew, that when the sparks from the window of his tower would cease and Zarek would finally come out, he could cure better than before. Ironically, there was a bet going on about when Zarek would even overcome death. Some had their money on days, some had on years.

As was to be expected, people wanted a share of Zarek’s studies. Healer himself didn’t find that troubling – in fact he openly taught his insights for a modest fee. But then there were those not willing to pay. Ronard was one of those men.

Ronard was also a student of magic. Though not as skillful as Zarek, he had important connections to most influent figures in West Continent. For some unexplainable reason, Zarek and Ronard were one another’s arch enemy. Competitors. Where Zarek tried to undermine Ronard’s standing in the society, Ronard frequently attempted to break into Zarek’s tower to steal his studies. Neither of them did particularily well on that ground, but that constant hatred between them was one of the reasons, why the undead exists in Wesnoth.

It was a hot summer and Zarek was travelling again. Gwenyth, naturally, was at the Tower. She was cleaning. She scrubbed and swiped every floor, every wall – even ceilings, too. It so happened, that she was organizing the basement, full of barrels with forgotten content, piles and piles of paper and parchment, heavy tomes, the titles of which required keen observation to figure out at least half of it. As she was dusting the shelves, she got bitten by something. There stood a rat on the shelf. Arrogant little thing, almost as if gloating over it’s success. Satisfaction soon turned to fear as it had to quickly avoid a broom, hop off the shelf and run behind the corner. Gwenyth cursed, as she treated the wound. She didn’t think, it was a serious matter.

But few days later she began to feel weird. Did she had a disease of somesort?
”I don’t know… But Zarek would, once he returns”, she thought. She had no other choices, but to try make herself feel better while waiting for Zarek.. Days turned to nights and each dawn seemed more miserable, than the one before. Despite her best efforts to cure herself, her condition only grew worse.

II: Treatments

A long week passed, until tower’s heavy frontdoor was pushed open and a figure in a white robe walked in. The master was home, after a long journey.

”Gwenyth. I am home”, Zarek called.

His own voice echoed from the walls, but that was all. Bizarre. She usually saw his arrival from a distance. Maybe she was out, Zarek thought. He called her name again. Nothing. Once more – no answer. He climbed the stairs up, towards their bedroom. Maybe she was there. It was at the stairs, when Zarek had a first thought about something being out of place. The stairs were all dusty, which was very unusual from Gwenyth. Zarek hastened his steps. Two steps, three, at one leap. He was at the bedroom door, which was half open. He rammed through the door and found her. She was lying on the bed.

”Gwenyth?”, he asked, ”Are you feeling well?”

She opened her eyes and life filled them. It was not enough to push the disease off her, but she was able to turn her head towards Zarek. Her mouth attempted to form words, but only a heavy breath came out. A weak smile.

” What kind of nasty disease is upon you?”, Zarek asked again, as he examined his wife. Pale skin, weakness, high temperature. It seemed like a plague. He grabbed her arm and begun to murmur words. White sparks appeared to dance on Zarek and Gwenyth. They twirled from his hand to hers. Once they were gone, Gwenyth begun to gasp – but only briefly. The spell did not work. Her condition didn’t improve. But that was impossible – That spell drove out most of diseases he had encountered. He tried again – no effect. Gwenyth looked at him again, only this time her sight had less hope.

”Gwenyth, you will get better, I promise. This sickness... It's unknown to me. But it just needs more stronger medication. There are ingredients in my study – Just stay awake.”

She nodded, slowly, as an agreement. Zarek dashed out, hopped another set of stairs further up in the tower. He knew, that he’d have to dig his keys to open that sturdy lock on the door. Realizing, that there’s no time to waste, he stretched his arm forth and boom, the door smashed open.

Bottles, rows of them. Runes here, circles there. More papers, more tomes. The inner sanctum of Zarek, his life was within those walls. As he was examining the bottles and gathering ingredients, a voice came through the window. Someone was shouting outside.

”Zarek! Zarek, I know you’re in there!”, the voice said.
Zarek climbed to check, who dared to call his name on that perilous hour. It was Ronard and some other men at the front door.

” What, Ronard?! Why do you disturb me?”, Zarek shouted.
” I heard, you had returned from your trip. I was just wondering, if we could get in and have a little talk.”
”Who cares, you’d just try to steal my studies”, Zarek said, face twisted by spontaneous anger.
”You don’t understand, Zarek. All I want is…”
”Piles of rock on you!”

Having that said, Zarek vanished from the window, steaming from anger. Down there Ronard gave confused looks to the other men.

”All right, apparently it is not the best day for this”, Ronard said, as they turned around and went away.

A clink and a clunk was heard from the basket, as Zarek galloped the stairs down back to the bedroom. As he ran in, he began to mix a potion that might help, smashing ingredients in mortar, pouring them into a bottle, shaking – more smashing, pouring and shaking.

”Don’t worry, love, you will get better”, he said, don’t you worry…

It felt like with each sweep there was twice as more sweat to swipe off. He wasn’t there, he was somewhere else. Between desperation, determination and insanity.

He did not notice, that his wife was already dead.

III: The Way

Zarek sat down quietly. In his mind, all the stars had fallen down, the world was in flames and he was surrounded by something unspeakable that made fun of his situation, pointing at him and showing him his insignifigance. His head was buried deep in his arms and each ray of sun, that pushed through the curtains, felt like a whiplash. Death was not uncommon to him, but he had never thought, that it does not make exceptions on anyone, no matter how good healers they were.

He watched the green substance, his own making, in jar. He smelled it – and snarled. If not the disease, then the potion would have killed her.

”I even got the mixes all wrong…”

He watched it again. It would take only one sip, he thought. One sip, it would burn - and then…
In disgust he shook his thoughts off his head, violently throwing the jar to the opposite wall. It broke to little pieces, each piece symbolizing a shred of his suicidal fantasies. A green splash stained the stone wall.

”I can keep a life… I can take a life…”, his thoughts celebrated in his head.
”I can keep a life… I can take a life…”, he repeated to himself.

”Take a life… Keep a life…”, he closed his eyes, ”Take a life…”, a grey splotch appeared to his sight, ”Keep a life…”, the image sharpened. It was on something. ”Take a life…” It looked like a table, ”Keep a life…”, The splotch sharpened even more, as if willing to make itself known to Zarek, ”Take a life…”, It looks like… an animal, ”Give a life…”, It was a rat.

His eyes opened. All of sudden all troubles were gone. Enthusiasm came to his head, challenged misery and won it with a single smash. He remembered a rat, that was first dead, but alive afterwards. For the unwitting it might have looked like an entire battalion of men had trampled up and down the stairs.

Books flew across the study. Thumps and occasional crashes. There was Zarek, digging his own life, for somewhere was the question he needed. He found, what he was searching. Jammed behind a bookshelf, there was a notebook.

”Concept of Life”, the first page proudly stated, ”by Zarek the Healer”. A piece of silver from his thoughts. His philosophical questions and conclusions. Balderdash, most of it, save for one page. There it was, an entire experiement bashed into a few, short, broken sentences. Keys to his memories. He now remembered the exact symbols and phrases used to reanimate that rat. He remembered, that it took a month from him to figure it out – and that after his success he abandoned the book. There was no point to tell people, that one could overcome death.

What would people think? Where would that put him? To a whole lot of trouble, Zarek thought. People would start flooding to his tower, asking him to revive some ancestor or a dead child and so on. He couldn’t heal the living if he had to resurrect the dead all the time.

”A spirit of a rat can be easily recalled and bound to a body, for there isn’t much to recall. Besides there are a plenty of rat spirits in this world. However the recalling process gets more complex with the complexity of the spirit --”, Zarek read back his own notes.

”Recalling a human spirit with all their past attributes, let alone a specific human spirit, is unrealistic. Human spirits are far too complex to be perfectly reanimated.”

He snarled at his own writings and for a moment he wished to go back in time and punch his past self. Phrases like ”complex” or ”unrealistic” no longer belonged to his vocabulary. He was determined to return to this experiement and show how death has no more foothold over the lives of a man. He wanted to bring his own wife back to the books of the living.

Continue to Chapter IV: The Bargain
Last edited by Jarkko on January 31st, 2011, 2:37 pm, edited 11 times in total.
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Fog »

Wow. I really enjoyed this.
Jarkko wrote:Healer himself didn’t find that troubling
This one part confused me, but other than that, I think it would be a great backstory.
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Mortles »

I also like this story, I'm looking forward to reading this storry, although I don't read any of other fanfiction here. I think this story has a potential for lore.
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Euthanatos93 »

Jarkko wrote: Ronard was also a student of magic. Though not as skillful as Zarek, he had important connections to most influent figures in West Continent.
For some unexplainable reason,
Zarek and Ronard were one another’s arch enemy. Competitors.
Competitors is a reason. If I may critique your writing style. Consider that conflict is always the driving force behind any plot. Everything is peripheral to this and revolves around it, even the writer's objective in telling the story itself. Don't skimp on what is the most vital part of any story. You might say:

'A competitive force existed betwixt these two. Those who knew them well would go so far as to refer to them as 'arch rivals.' Yet it would seem none but them knew the history of which there must be something far deeper than professional competition because any onlooker could clearly see much emotion stemmed from any encounter they had'

Now, that's clearly my own writing style influencing the prose above but what I mean to show here is that you must allude to events in which this conflict you are displaying here originated. It's an excellent device to say that it exists but not divulge the past. It creates mystery and prelude around plot-central characters while allowing you to create a flashback frame story scene that the characters can hint at and give mystery enhancing snippets of detail here and there to build suspense and interest in discovering just exactly why these two people hate each other. People love drama but you need to make a good bit of foreplay before giving it to them to keep their interest long enough to share the peripheral intent behind your writing this piece: The origins of the Undead.

Also, 'one another's' is redundant. 'Zarek and Ronard were arch enemies.' is quite sufficient.

Nice work. I'm interested to read the conclusion!
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Jarkko »

IV: A Bargain

Zarek stood in the middle of the study. He had encased Gwenyth’s corpse inside a bulk of ice to prevent it from rotting, for his task was going to take a long time. He looked outside, listened the humming wind and tweeting birds – and thought. He had enough rats, he had the spells, he had his memories, his notes – What didn’t he have?

As the sun had nearly completed it’s daily journey on open skies and orange begun to turn black, townsfolk living nearby watched at Zarek’s tower. One candle brought light to one single room in the entire tower. That candle was no match to the sparks, that occasionally flew out from the window.
”Already?”, they thought, ”He just got home and he’s already studying.”
The townsfolk were amazed, but forgot about it soon.
He had no bodies. After half a week Zarek’s study swarmed around with undead rats and other simple animals. Some of them were successful, others not so successful. Some even obeyed Zarek’s direct command, though the healer himself had no idea, how he did it. But he needed more complex bodies. Human bodies. He looked at Gwenyth’s corpse – but he couldn’t do it. He wasn’t ready. There were many things, that could go terribly wrong and he had only one shot.

Zarek stepped out to sunlight. Sorrow, hunger and lack of sleep yelled from the paleness of his cheeks and dark bags, that had formed beneath his eyes – as if he was dead himself. He pushed himself on, downhill, to the Town of Elwyra. He went to the local tavern to have a bite to eat. People looked at him, they asked the same questions: ”Are you feeling well?”, ”What were you working on now?”, ”What had you invented?” He didn’t tell. He wasn’t ready – They weren’t ready.

After a particulary needed meal, he headed towards Elwyra’s Crypts, the final home to many in that province. In his clouded mind Zarek thought that there just might be one or two fresh corpses, nobody actually needs. Thiefs, thugs, scoundrels and backstabbers, the bottom end of the cesspool. Being so close to the orcish territories, yet so far away, has given a reason for numbers of people to try their luck on the primrose path.

He knocked at the door of the cryptkeeper’s hut. There were some tumbling noises inside, before it was opened. For the person inside it looked as if there were stormclouds in the horizon, that’s how bad Zarek looked like.

”Really, Zarek, you oughta take better care of yourself. Otherwise you’ll become one of my clients very soon”, he said in a slightly caring tone.
”Greetings to you too, Geomen. How’s the affairs?”

The door opened wide and Geomen, the cryptkeeper, caretaker of corpses, stepped into sunlight. A tiny man he was. Though close to 30, his profession had carved wrinkles on his face over the course of years. He grinned at Zarek’s remark.

”As a matter of fact not so well. There ain’t much to bury nowadays – now that’s all YOUR fault”, he said, jokingly pointing his finger towards the healer, ”As long as you’re walking around, curing people, it’s food off my table. In fact soon I have to consider about burying myself.”

Zarek’s laugh sounded more like a rusty barn door, than a humane chuckle.

”Well, seems that I can’t please everyone”, he said.
”But actually I’m not here just for greetings. I was wondering if you had…”, Zarek halted and checked around ensuring, there were no additional ears listening, ”As I was saying, I was wondering if you had any fresh corpses.”

Geomen shook his head, as in his mind he had pieced the puzzle together and figured out, it would come to this.

”Zarek… The last time, you asked for a corpse, entire Elwyra talked about it. I couldn’t even step óutside with all the eyepairs staring at my front door.”

The healer nodded, feeling a slight compassion. His hand, however, rubbed his purse. Geomen saw this and in his head a battle emerged between what is convenient and what is financially supportive.
”I – I’m not sure…”, he muttered.
”Geomen – I know, that your clients aren’t very lively, but I know one person in this household, that has to eat. And I pay you, just like last time”, Zarek persuaded.

”I really shouldn’t… It’s almost – a desecration to sell someone’s remains…”, Geomen replied.
”All I’m asking for is a body of a thug. You know, a corpse, nobody’s missing. Someone, that’s just taking space. I know, you might have one or two in the crypt.”

The cryptkeeper scratched his head, trying to deny for one last time, but in the end he just sighed.

”Zarek – Why do you waste your time on healing things? You should’ve become a Royal Ambassador”, he said as he closed the door to his hut. Zarek smiled, as they begun to walk towards the crypt.

V: Dark Hours

The crypt was cold, dark and unforgiving, despite the hot sunshine outside. Geomen lead Zarek from one corridor to another. Torch in his hand casted faint light to the hallway and there lied numerous men, women and children, in their individual niches. Each of them had their own story, but nobody to tell or even remember it.

Geomen pushed a heavy stone door open. They were both in a much more smaller room, where stone coffins stood in perfect line along the walls.

”I’ve got two lackeys here”, Geomen said, pushing one of the stone coffins open, ”The Maulson brothers, you might’ve heard of them.”
”You mean those highwaymen, who caused a real stir in South Province?”, Zarek asked.
”That’s right. Guards attempted to arrest them here two days ago – but as you can see, it didn’t go so well. No known relatives and because nobody has paid for a place in the crypt, they’ll be dumped out anyways.”
Zarek looked at the dead brothers. They were so calm, beyond all troubles in the world, despite the wounds scattered all over their bodies.
”Aren’t you concerned? What if someone comes looking for them?”, he asked. Geomen sighed again, being slightly irritated.
”The only thing I’m concerned is, if you pay that eight gold each. The basic transportation fee. I just want them out of here. But this time, come back at nightfall and I have them prepared by then.”
”Very well – you’ll have eight gold now and another eight at my tower.

A human life is priceless, but a value of a dead corpse is next to nothing. Being delighted, Zarek dug the gold. When the dark game, a lone figure pulled a carriage filled with hay. Beneath that hay lied the Maulson brothers.

Little was heard about Zarek after that transaction, but citizens of Elwyra noted that sparks and booms got more fierce day by day. Soon it seemed like he tried to destroy his own tower. When Elwyra was in need of a healer, people came in groups, swarmed towards the tower, but when they knocked, and called for Zarek, nobody came. Days passed, they came again, knocked, called. No answer. Desperately they begun to seek help elsewhere. Those, Zarek had taught, soon replaced their teacher, as he only remained locked in his tower. Another set of days passed and Geomen’s profession flourished again.

His determination was his nutrition. He had lost his sense of time and he was practically devouring himself due to his study to wake up his dead wife. He had thought about the sensibility of his errand many times, but every time his ever-growing insanity took the form of his wife, wailing: ”Wake me up, Zarek!” Those words overshadowed the primitive groans and screams of the dead Maulsons after the resurrection repeatedly failed. With each failure his sanity sunk further to the depths of his clouded mind, but every time he reviewed his notes, changed some details and tried again.

The corpse laid on the dust-coated stone floor. After several failed experiements, it was deformed beyond all reckognition. A withered hand drew lines on the ground with chalk. Each stroke formed a figure, that would defy the chaotic world with it’s symmetric perfection. Every line, arc and glyph had it’s purpose. They’d control the untamed forces of magic, like shepherds herd their sheeps.

Zarek raised up and picked his staff. He knocked the staff on the floor and purple flames lit up to the top end. He memorized the incantations, a lengthy mantra he had written. His voice echoed from the walls, as he circled around the corpse, waving hist staff and muttering the mantra. After he reached the end, he repeated it. He called upon magic, he told it what he wanted. The spirit of Maulson. He wanted to confine it to his own remainings.

Something appeared before his eyes. It glimmered faint light, but it looked like it was struggling. Trying to fight against Zarek. He pointed his staff at the small dot, flying in the air. A whisper. The flames on his staff bursted, as if trying to reach that small thing. Suddenly the light halted the struggle. It could no longer move. Zarek slowly guided the light towards the body until it vanished within it. A blinding flash. A sudden wave emerged from the body. A wave of magic. It pushed the dust on the floor, revealing the cold stone beneath it, as if Gwenyth would have just cleaned it, if she was still alive.

A groan filled his ears, just like with previous attempts. Zarek covered his ears and another shred of sanity escaped him. After some time he gathered himself and dared to look at the corpse. It was – different now.

”Wake up from your sleep”, Zarek commanded. The corpse laid there, unresponsive. Then it opened it’s eyes. Two black holes, black as the night outside, marked the end of a long experiement.

VI: The Uprising

Ronard had his hands full. He was supposed to be back in Felham, the capitol, ages ago. But due to Zarek’s neglect on his healing duties, Ronard had no other choices but to do what he could to the diseased of that region, for he had invented a few quite efficient spells as well. As the time passed on, though, Ronard hesitantly accepted the fact, that Zarek was a way better healer, he was. Every night he watched at the gloomy tower and waited for him to come out, so that he could just tell him off. Along with other villagers he looked at the purple lights flashing in the healer’s study. He wondered, what was so important, that it would surpass the needs of a sick person.

On that night, when Zarek raised the other of Maulson brothers, Ronard was in the tavern with his companions. The place was crowded, as everyone was seeking comfort from beer. He glanced at the tower once again and he decided, he had waited enough. If Zarek doesn’t come out, someone has to go in. He stood up and banged the table to get attention.

”Citizens of Elwyra, if had your attention, please”, he called. All talk in the tavern slowly ceased, as everyone turned their eyes upon Ronard.
”I know, that you’re all feeling under the weather. I know, you all have troubles. I know, people have died due to these diseases, that have just suddenly emerged. Believe me, I have done everything in my power and I will do so later on. But today we must cast our watchful eyes on a certain tower once again. Watch it. Look at it now!”

One person rised to look from the window, where Zarek’s tower was clearly seen. After that one, more people rised up, looked at the tower, then at Ronard.

”There lives Zarek – the ’Healer’. We haven’t heard about him for… weeks? Months? We all know Zarek’s ’studies’, how he locks himself to do something wicked. But what kind of study lasts for months?!”, Ronard declared. Listeners nodded their heads as an approval.

”Maybe he doesn’t care anymore. He doesn’t care about you anymore. You, whose wounds he’s supposed to mend as a healer! For days you’ve gathered to his tower, banged at his door, screamed for his name – and he doesn’t answer!”

The crowd begun to babble. Weeks of distress begun to emerge as pure hatred. More people rised up. They all looked upon Ronard, listening to his every word, feeding their anger.

”So there’s only one thing to be done”, he continued, ”If Zarek thinks, he’s too ’holy’ to visit the common people. Then people must go to him! Let us all walk to his tower – only this time, let us break in, too!”

The crowd bursted to roaring applauses and cheers. As Ronard marched out of the door to the night, people followed him, like sheeps. They headed towards Zarek’s tower, where the window still flashed. But as Ronard begun to walk up the hill, some slowed down. It was almost as if the tower was somehow – formidable to them. In the end Ronard stood alone in front of the door, while the rest of the crowd stood a distance away, looking at the window. There was a yet another, bright flash.

All of sudden a manic laughter emerged from the window and a figure appeared to look at the moon. He looked at the moon, screaming:

”I’ve bested you! You are stripped from your power! You are nothing! I, Zarek the Healer, overcame you!”, he roared.

It was the last straw for Ronard, hearing such insults. He unleashed a wild battlecry, as he casted a fireball towards the door. The heavy door blew to smithereens and Ronard rampaged in to the desolation, filled with dust, spiderwebs and neglect. Little did he know. Zarek was insulting death.

Ronard snarled in disgust. It looked like no-one had lived there for weeks. He lit up a candle and proceeded the stairwell. He had never made even the frontdoor and this time he wanted to get to the bottom of it – or in this case the top. He had to dodge rats, that ran free in the tower. Funny – Almost as if one of them was… missing parts of itself. He thought, that it was the poor lighting, that played tricks on his vision.

He was at the door to the study. The lock was broken and the door itself was half open. Ronard opened the door and watched, as a figure stood on it’s knees on the floor, rocking back and forth, chuckling.

”Zarek, what was that just about?!”, Ronard screamed.

His white robe was tattered and dirty, having it on for weeks. He rised up from the floor and slowly turned towards yelling Ronard. At first nothing, but a wicked smile was visible under his hood. As he moved the hair out of the way, Ronard saw what his rival had become. A bony, pale shadow from his former self.

Something moved behind Zarek. It slowly rised, taking heavy gasps of breath. Ronard reckognized it as Gwenyth, but she was different. Her eyes were open, but it seemed like nobody was home.

”I – did it…”, Zarek said.
”Did what?!”, Ronard yelled. He was all confused, until he turned to look at the two other men in the room. One looked like an ordinary man, but the another was more like a lump of flesh. Ronard took a step back in terror.

”That’s… It can’t be. I killed them myself! Rowen… Maulson. What is this?!”, he yelled.
The corpse reacted, hearing his name mentioned. Zarek’s smile became even wider.

”I woke them up”, Zarek answered, ”I brought them back from the dead. Look. Rowen, the other Maulson… and Gwenyth. They were all dead – but now they live again.”

It took a while for Ronard to understand. He looked at the glyphs on the floor, papers scattered all across the place, then those walking corpses. He took a careful step towards the Maulson brothers. Soon all fear was away and he smiled.

”Zarek… This is fantastic! You have any idea, what you’ve done?!”, he screamed.
”I – woke them up…”
”For sure you did. You brought dead back to living! Think about the possibilities, Zarek. Think about it – an undead army. Soldiers, that cannot die! Zarek. You have to share this! I can take all the way to the Crown.”

”No… You’d – you’d just… steal it. Claim it as your – own”, he muttered.
”Claim it? No, not at all. Of course not!”, Ronard said. A blatant lie, ”Zarek, teach me, how you did it.”

Zarek stared at him
”No”, he said, moving a bit to cover his notes, ”No, I won’t – let you.”

”Zarek, you have to tell me, what you know! You’re letting a huge possibility slip past your fingers. Tell me, Zarek! Tell me now!”, he said, as he grabbed Zarek and shook him. Being too weak, Zarek thought, he’d break up right where he stood. As Ronard tried to force his way towards the notes, Zarek gathered the final drops of his strength to push Ronard away.

”I will not give you the notes!”

Ronard stumbled backwards, hitting his head to the stone wall, falling on the dusty ground. He coughed, slowly raised up, keeping his hand on his head. There was blood. Ronard dusted himself and snorted at Zarek’s incapability to cooperate. Being completely angered and denied from an invention, that would change his life, only one conclusion came up to his mind. He raised his hand towards the animation of Gwenyth and a fireball flew out of his hand. Gwenyth screamed, as she bursted up in flames.

”Nooo!”, Zarek yelled. In that instant the Maulson brothers dashed forth to attack Ronard. He tried to stab them again, only finding out, it was of little effect. They were unstoppable and Ronard had no chance to reach the notes. He retreated.

”Very well, Zarek”, he yelled as he fought the corpses, ”If you’re really that stubborn – then die where you stand.”

Having that said Ronard vanished from the doorway, corpses following him. This time not only the Maulsons, but the rats also tried to attack him. He was driven out of Zarek’s tower again.

Zarek cried, as he had lost his wife again. It took but one spark to lit up the dust, like bonfire. He realized his danger only when the flames threathened his notes. He had to run. He slowly climbed up from the floor, stormed towards the table to gather the notes and ran out of the study. His life along with his beloved Gwenyth left behind.

”Monstrosities!”, Ronard screamed as he escaped his foe, ”Zarek has created monsters!” Townsfolk, that were watching in terror, as the flames spread out of the window, begun to run. Everyone in their own directions. Whatever had driven Ronard out must’ve been something very terrible. Being dissappointed, beaten and humiliated, Ronard ran into the night, unaware of Zarek’s fate.

The mage moved as fast, as he could, fighting tears of rage. He had shown him, but it wouldn’t be enough. He murdered his wife. Ronard, his adversary. He’d pay. A faint voice spoke in Zarek’s head. It was something – warm… It was his conscience. It spoke from a distance. It tried to show him what he had done. Or more like what he had not done. Zarek stopped, as a sudden feeling of terror filled his mind. He couldn’t remain there in Elwyra. He must flee.

As the tower burned, a white figure stumbled out, but he wouldn’t go to the village. He’d head up north, towards the hills and wilderness. He heard yells of rage. Was it the townsmen coming or was it only in his head. He didn’t want to find out. Having only his staff and his notes of necromancy with him, he proceeded towards north, towards the dark.

And he fled. He fled the villagers, he had betrayed. He fled the mistakes he had done. But most importantly he fled the wrath, he felt towards Ronard.

Continue to Chapter VII: A Hunter
Last edited by Jarkko on February 14th, 2010, 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by artisticdude »

Couple of typos and usage errors etc., but this is great considering English isn't your first language. The story itself is keeping me glued to the screen. Impressive. :)
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Fog »

I'm sorry I don't know the technical reason, but you should use began instead of begun.
Jarkko wrote:No known relatives and because nobody has paid for a place in the crypt, they’ll be dumped out anyways.
This should be "Because they have no known relatives to pay for a place in the crypt, they'll be dumped out."
No known relatives and anybody else is kind of redundant, but in this sentence, nobody else is implied. Anyways is also redundant.

It is a fantastic story! I cannot wait for the next chapter!
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Captain_Wrathbow »

I stopped by the writer's forum (a rare occurrence for me) just for fun, but I clicked on this topic and couldn't stop reading! I got to the end of what you have so far, and I almost cried because there isn't more... :cry:
Several minor typos but a thrilling and well-written story. I, too, will be eagerly awaiting the next chapter!
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by sur.nhm »

Captain_Wrathbow wrote:I stopped by the writer's forum (a rare occurrence for me) just for fun, but I clicked on this topic and couldn't stop reading! I got to the end of what you have so far, and I almost cried because there isn't more... :cry:
Several minor typos but a thrilling and well-written story. I, too, will be eagerly awaiting the next chapter!
I agree. some typos and grammer mistakes, but overall it's great!
I am eagerly waiting for more :D
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Jarkko »

VII: A Hunter

The image would plague his mind forever. From a distance he saw a faint, orange light, his tower, burning like a beacon – urging him to never return Elwyra. Never return home. A tidal wave of tears flowed on his cheeks, as he pushed forth in the dense forest. He hoped, that he could weep his anger away and stay true to his beliefs as a healer. Branches hit his face, leaving an inch of sorrow behind with each slash. Trees, more trees. More slashes. Was the forest punishing him?

Soon there were no more tears left. Only fine strings of burning hate, from which resentment slowly begun to knit a weave of retribution. It guided his way off the path in the surrounding darkness.

The morning sun raised over the hills, it’s rays greeting the forest, one tree at a time. As the kings of the night retreated to their holes, the rest woke up to another day of trouble-flee animal life. An order of chaos was dominating. Elks, bears, wild boars and other animals, birds of all sorts. All showing off to each other, where their territory was, who were their companions and kin and who was to become their next meal. They all ignored a mysterious sack in the middle of a large opening, save for one animal.

It smelled funny – was it edible? No… It was – something else. A bit unsure, an elk approached it. It pressed it’s nose to the dirty fabric. A silent whisper in the air. The elk moaned and fell on the ground, an arrow pointing out of his head.

”Got you at last, you sneaky thing”, he mumbled as he put his longbow on the sholder. The huntsman had been tracking that elk for days, for elks were a rare sight on those parts. The man moved towards the game and he too noticed the white sack, but he didn’t pay any further attention to it. That was until the sack sneezed loudly. It was a man, he thought. Not wasting another moment, he raised the unconscious man on his knees and slapped his face.

”Hey. Are you awake? Are you alive?”, he asked. No response. The hunter slapped again.
”Hello, world! Wake up. Bedtime is over.”

Zarek felt like he was walking a long tunnel back to light. He heard the hunter’s words only as distant yells. He slowly turned his head around, seeing only forest, forest and – surprisingly - more forest. The hunter was but a black shadow to him.

”Well, aren’t you a sight”, the hunter said, reaching for his waterskin, ”How come, that a healer like you is lying senseless in the middle of who knows where, carrying only books. Here, drink this.”

Zarek drank greedily. He felt like the dryest desert on the face of that world. With each gulp his vision became clearer and the hunter had to prevent him from drinking it all. Slowly Zarek raised up, staggering like a drunkard. Of all the questions he first asked: ”How did you know, I am a healer?”

”Well, where should I start? You have a white robe… or at least you once had a white robe. Then, you carry a staff… that looks more like a firewood to me. Also the orbs, like the one at the end of your staff – they aren’t actually cheap. Judging these details, it is pretty evident, that you are, indeed, a healer”, the hunter said, laughing.

Judging the young huntsman’s words, it was pretty evident to Zarek, that he wasn’t talking to an average savage of the wild, despite his looks. A long, messy hair stuck out under his leather hood and it seemed, as if he had had the same three-day stubble for last three years. The man also looked like a bit too young – like a kid.

Zarek dared to look around again, and again he saw only forest and hills. His last memory was seeing his home burning in a distance. After that it was blackness. Where was he? How long had he been travelling? There were a lot of questions to be answered, but Zarek could only ask one more: ”Where am I?”

This caused the hunter to become somewhat dramatic, as he stretched his arms and turned to face the raising sun, as if saluting it:

”Hear ye, hear ye!”, he yelled, ”Welcome to the source of Ancient Terrors, the Inspirer of Bedtime Stories, the Untamed, the Unknown. Every tree, hill and cave in this place bear the name of The Backlands.” He turned to face the confused Zarek. ”There’s but one permanent resident here. Me, the one and only king of Backlands. No crown, no title, no stronghold – but still a king. You can call me Mirrok”, he said, giving a theatrical bow.

Ironically, Zarek thought that from all the people in the world he had come across a madman, who had spent just a bit too much time in complete isolation, but this Mirrok just could be his only hope, if he intended to stay alive.

”I can tell, that you’re in trouble. You’re welcome to stay at my camp, it’s just a two-hour walk from here”, Mirrok said, ”The Backlands lives up to it’s name by being very hostile – especially at night. I hope, you can walk. I have to drag this elk with me, so I cannot carry you around.”

Zarek accepted. As soon as Mirrok had the elk prepared, they left towards the camp. Mirrok talked almost continuously about his previous hunts, about living in the forest. About anything. Two hours seemed like an eternity for exhausted Zarek and his knees failed him every now and then. When he stumbled on the ground again, Mirrok said:

”Really, healer, it would be much easier, if you left those books here.”
”N-no…”, Zarek replied, tightening his hold from them,”I – I can’t. Everything, I’ve got left, is in these books.”

Mirrok helped Zarek up again: ”Well – if they’re so important… But I wonder, that the Crowners let you have them.”
”What do you mean?”, Zarek asked.
”You have been exiled, right? You know, banished from the Kingdom. Thrown to this side of Garakhan’s Vein, that huge river, abandoned and forgotten. It’s just that usually they strip you off from everything, you've got, then send you walking over the river with only boos and rotten tomatos as your escort.”

Zarek nodded and tried to move the conversation away from him as quickly as possible.

”So… You’ve been exiled then? What is your story?”
”Yes, I was exiled from the Kingdom… Let’s just say, that – I did some bad things and – angered the wrong people. Sooner, than I realized, I was being carried to Fort Wyron, that border stronghold. It took some time for me to get used to the wildlife – but as you can see, I survived… Oh, look, the Capitol of Backlands”, he said, smiling at seeing his home. Zarek sighed in relief, as the rigorous journey would finally end.

They looked at a small shack, built near an entrance to a cave. It seemed like it could crumble to pieces at any moment. Zarek, being used to his tower, snarled a bit to the sight.

”So… this is, where you live?”, he asked.
”Yes. This isn’t much – but it’s home – and it’s a better alternative, than living under the constant threat of the Crowner soldiers in the kingdom. Many of the exiled attempts a return to the Kingdom – many of them will die.”

Mirrok turned to look at the pale healer, who seemed to turn even more pale. He grinned at him.

”Don’t worry, the soldiers never cross Garakhan’s Vein. If you stay with me, you will be completely safe.”

Indeed he was. He lived in Mirrok’s hut for months. It’s hard to tell the exact length of his stay, but he lived with Mirrok at least over the winter. He never forgot his rage and never smiled again – but it can be said, that he lived in a some form of peace. Aiding Mirrok with whatever he needed help with propably made Zarek to push the majority of his grudges aside.

But is this the end? I certainly wish, it would be, for it would be a happy one. Let’s just say, that Mirrok frequently asked Zarek about what was in his books, for Zarek spent a lot of time reading them through again and again. Every time Zarek denied Mirrok from touching them. Mirrok thought, it was fine. It wasn’t actually right to meddle with other people’s private matters.

But then the day came, when curiosity overcame the principles and Mirrok, secretly, opened the ”Concept of Life”.

Carry on to VIII: Partners
Last edited by Jarkko on February 25th, 2010, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Captain_Wrathbow »

Yes! I've been waiting forever for this! :D
And yet, now I'm left hanging again... I can't wait for the next installment! Great job with this story. :wink:
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Peter the Great »

This would make a good mini-campaign…
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic]

Post by Jarkko »

Part II: Necromancer

VIII: Partners

The winter had fallen to the hands of the almighty spring and snow was vanishing in the forests of the Backlands, like legions of retreating troops. During the winter, Mirrok had taught Zarek some skills in hunting, because if he wanted to live at Mirrok’s he’d have to do his share too in bringing the food to the table. Zarek’s white robe proved worthy for winter seasons, as it provided a good camoflague against the snowy surface.

One day Zarek was out again. He was tracking a deer. The hoofprints went criss-cross, here and there past the trees and Zarek followed them as if being hypnotized. Then he saw them. An entire pack of deers just waiting to be hunted. He raised his bow, pulled the arrow back and…

He hit the deer in the head – but it was the wrong head. Suddenly the animal gave out a distressed moan. All the other deers were startled and they begun to gallop and hop in whatever direction they chose – as long as they could get away from the attacker. The injured one tried escaping as well, but having an arrow pointing out it’s butt effectively slowed it down. Zarek begun a wild pursuit for the injured one. A dumb choice, he thought, but it seemed as the only alternative. He ran as fast as he could, on the snow, over the vegetation sticking out underneath – but the distance between him and the deer only grew longer.

Zarek didn’t want to lose this one. As his last resort he cleared his mind and gathered magical energies around him. Not wasting any thought, he extended his hand and the energy was unleashed in a form of light-blue ball. It swirled through the air, faster than Zarek. Faster, than the deer. Soon the ball reached it’s prey. There was no other sound, but a mute thump. The deer fell, it’s head being encased in ice.As Zarek reached his new trophy, he saw something. A small sparkle raised from the deer, like the ones he casted to Maulsons and his wife. It circled around the corpse, as if galloping. Zarek closed his eyes, not believing what he saw, but once he opened them again, the spark was gone.

He dragged the deer back towards Mirrok’s hut. He was thinking things, he hadn’t thought for some time. The events in Elwyra. The burning tower. His actions and his dead wife – and Ronard. He felt as if his blood was boiling. His anger tried to surface again to demand retribution, he swore a long ago. But Zarek denied. He couldn’t return to the Kingdom. No matter how many dead he could conjure, he was just one, practically exiled man. Even if he reached Ronard – what then? He’d have to flee the overwhelming force of Kingdom’s armies. It was of no use.

There was a distant boom. Zarek braced himself, for he remembered the source of such an explosion. It came from Mirrok’s hut. Zarek left the deer back and hastened his steps towards the hut’s door. Once he bashed the door open, there was another explosion inside the hut. The sudden wind threw equipment around and Zarek got hit by something right in the face. When he looked down to his feet, he saw a dead rat. Then he looked at Mirrok.

If you have children, you might’ve seen their face after you’ve caught them having a hand in a cookie jar. There stood Mirrok having Zarek’s staff in one hand and ”Concept of Life” in another – having that same expression on his face. He tried to figure out a suitable explanation, but giving the circumstances – there were none. While Zarek had been away, Mirrok had been trying to reanimate a dead rat. Zarek was infuriated, for his little secret had been revealed.

”What did I tell you about the books?”, he yelled at Mirrok’s face.
”I just… it’s that…”, Mirrok muttered, thinking that if Zarek was a powerful enough mage to bring dead back to the books of the living, he could as easily take Mirrok’s life away in an instant.

”I think… I’m beginning to understand… why you were exiled, Zarek..:”, Mirrok said in an attempt to get over the situation, ”The art of bringing dead back alive – anyone would be scared by that”.

Zarek remained motionless, only staring at him under his brows.

”I wasn’t exiled, Mirrok.”
”You weren’t… Then – what happened. Zarek, please tell me.”

Zarek sat down to a nearby bench, still watching at Mirrok, then the glyph on the ground. He sighed.

”It all started – from my wife…”, he said, reluctantly. For the first time ever he told someone his whole story. He told Mirrok about Gwenyth’s death, his researches, about Ronard and what he did. About how he escaped Elwyra. He told about his deep hatred towards Ronard, his urge to bring retribution and all the Mirrok listened carefully, like a judge to which Zarek confessed his crime. Words came along the tears, that bursted for the first time in ages and when he had finished, they silently looked at eachother, not knowing what to say. Zarek looked at the glyph on the ground and chuckled a bit.

”You wouldn’t have achieved it, Mirrok. You drew the glyph wrong”, Zarek said. Mirrok looked at the glyph, not understanding what he had done wrong. He read the book again, then looked at the glyph – but didn’t spot any difference. After another brief silence, Mirrok made a determined decision.

”Then teach me”, he said, looking more serious than ever, ”Show me, where I did wrong.” Zarek stared at him, being astonished, then briefly shook his head, saying: ”The last one, who asked that, destroyed my wife. This – art is something, I should’ve never invented. It has caused nothing, but mourn.”

”Then let’s show different. This reanimation thing could not only bring back the lifes of the deceased – it could also bring our lifes back. You seek for revenge. You are looking for to settle the score with this Ronard. Well – I myself have a few scores to be settled, too, and this could be the opportunity”, Mirrok said.

”Do you really have any idea, what you’re talking about. As if isn’t difficult enough to take a leap towards magic in general, taking a leap to reanimation is – something completely different. Are you completely sure, you want to take that step?”

”I haven’t been this sure in my entire life. Zarek, I beg you. Teach me the arts of reanimation – and I am sure, we can have our retribution. You and I both know, we can’t do this alone – and now that I’ve read your books and tried this art, a sudden urge to return home woke up in me. I look at these walls now and realize, that this is just a soddy shack. Why waste our lifes here when we could live like lords in the Kingdom. This is the only chance – and I’d say, we should not let that chance slip past our hands.”

Zarek stared at the glyph, as if seeking for answers from it. No matter how much he tried to deny it, Mirrok had a point. Besides he was still only a guest in Mirrok’s hut, so Mirrok could drive him out to the wilderness at any day. Reluctantly he raised his head.

”Very well, if that’s what you want. But know this – I will teach you the art of reanimation in the way, I learned it. There will be darkness, sorrow and pain, but after you’ve managed through it all – if you manage, you will become something – different.”

”Let it kill me for all I care. Teach me and then we’ll show those crowner bastards, why the Backlands inspire tales of horror.”

With those words, Mirrok abandoned his life as a savage in the Backlands and gave himself to Zarek’s teachings. And during course of months, Zarek taught Mirrok all, he knew, in a way he learned it. The training was rough, because it wasn’t an easy thing to call a spirit. Each conjuration was a battle of wits and after each try Mirrok stumbled on the floor as if they had just had a vigorous duel against a giant. Zarek pressed him on and Mirrok forced himself to try again. Eventually he revived his first animal, after which they moved on to harder subjects.

Every day they hunted down forest animals for food and studies and after the nightfall they went to the caves to revive those, they slayed. While Mirrok casted the spells, Zarek wrote the notes to the ”Concept of Life” and if he came up with a new technique, he tried it and taught it to Mirrok.

And when all the snow had vanished from the forests of the Backlands, two men walked out of the cave. A man, dressed in dirty white cloth, carrying a staff with a purple gem. And another, dressed in black rags, carrying a wooden staff with a skull of an elk. They both looked pale, skinny and fragile. A white necromancer and his adept.

IX: Reaching the Ford

”There’s nothing more I can teach to you, for even I don’t know all the secrets yet”, Zarek said to Mirrok,”But your true challenge still lies ahead of you. The reanimation of a human being – but where do we get fresh human corpses?”

Mirrok grinned, for he knew the answer. He had known it for years, but he wanted to try Zarek, just for the fun of it.

”Well, master. Where do you often find dead people?”, he asked.
”From crypts”, Zarek answered.
”In the Kingdom, yes – but this is not the kingdom and there are no crypts here.”
”Scattered around in the wild?”
”Possible, but chances of stumbling upon one are slim.”
”You know, that I’m not good in guessing games, Mirrok. So teach me now.”

Mirrok rubbed his forehead in a slight frustration.

”Zarek, you give up too easily. Being a healer, you should know at least that much – Battlefields, Zarek. You find corpses from battlefields.”

”I haven’t been in any battles. My profession is more disease-based. And yet few more questions remain: Where do we find a battlefield? And should we find one, what are the odds of finding a decent corpse?”

”Fort Wyron”, Mirrok answered, smiling again, ”The stronghold along Garakhan’s Vein, from which they send the criminals to the Backlands. Being one of the rare fords, Wyron has seen many battles and has endured them all. I guess, that we’ll find many corpses from those grounds. I guess, they might be somewhat decomposed… but should we invade Wyron – we’d have a whole bunch of fresh corpses in our hands. Enough to build a small army. It’s only a day’s travel from here. Besides, in Wyron you could inquire the whereabouts of that Ronard, you’re hunting down.”

Zarek thought about Mirrok’s words and the consequences, that would evolve. He still could back off and leave, but then he heard a voice in his head. The voice was hatred, that had been sleeping for a long time, but that woke up again. It whispered, that the weave was complete and it was up to him to do the rest. He gazed at the morning sun and made his decision – that they would not just harvest bodies. He would begin something, he should’ve done on the day his tower burned down.

”Get my books and enough supplies for travel. If we leave now, we might reach our destination at nightfall.”

Zarek and Mirrok gave a last look towards the hut as a farewell, knowing that most likely they will never return. But they weren’t the only ones to leave, for all the animals, they had revived, came out of the cave and followed them obediently, as if lacking a will of their own. They all pushed through the forests and hills without significant interruptions and when the sun was setting down, they saw a large, blue stream running behind the woods, Garakhan’s Vein. On the other side of the river lanters were lit up, one by one.

”Fort Wyron, the last outpost. This side is The Backlands – The Kingdom is on the other side”, Mirrok said.
”It’s closing time and a last call – If you want to turn back, now is the time”, Zarek said to Mirrok, as he looked at the darkening forest. Mirrok chuckled.
”No, Zarek. It would be like shooting a game and leaving a carcass to the wild – But what do we do with them?”, Mirrok said, pointing at the undead fauna, that remained hidden in the woods.
”They will be a a part of our attack force, naturally. Wyron’s citizens would take it as a massive animal movement – They won’t notice us controlling them, before it’s too late.”
”Zarek the Warlord”, Mirrok said, laughing again, ”You are really willing to do this. Two days ago you weren’t at all sure about it… Remarkable.”
”Stop trying to interrupt me. I just finally want to get this stone off my heart. Maybe I have been trying to deny the undeniable all the time. No more. No matter what the consequences are, I will finish this once and for all. Even if it means paving the road from here to Felham with blood, I will find Ronard.”

Mirrok took a cautious step back, as Zarek’s deranged nature had surfaced, and the hunter saw that part from his teacher first time. Being slightly intimidated, he quickly switched the course of conversation.

”We… should start looking for the bodies… Zarek.”

The white necromancer closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again. The sun was almost down and the only visible light came from Fort Wyron and the villages and scattered farms near it – but there was also something else. Tiny blue sparks. At first there were only few of them, but then more appeared. They were far away, on a large opening. It looked like they were dancing. Dancing for the night and the stars, that appeared one by one. But Zarek noticed something different in them. The sparks flied around, then thrusted forth, hit eachothers and bounced away. It must have been a battlefield once, where all combat had ceased long ago. But some of the deceased never stopped fighting.

”Zarek… Your eyes – They’re burning blue”, Mirrok noted.
”Follow me!”, Zarek yelled, as he began to run towards the fighting sparks.
”Where are we going?”
”Can’t you see them? There are a lot of spirits on that opening. There must be a lot of corpses, too.”

Mirrok did not see the spirits. Zarek hurried down in the middle of the battling spirits and begun to dig the ground vigorously. Soon he found something. A skull, buried in ground.

”Mirrok, help me dig up the rest.”

They uncovered a warrior from the grave. There wasn’t much left of it. Only bones and rusty equipment. As he was drawing the glyph to the mud, Zarek doubted, for he had not raised a skeleton before. Nevertheless he grabbed his staff, the orb of which begun glowing a purple light. As Mirrok grabbed his staff, the eyes of the elk skull bursted up in purple flames.

”Evening, warrior”, Zarek said to the corpse, then watched at the spirits around him, ”Which one of these are you? Mirrok, do exactly what I say.”

He said the mantra clearly, so that Mirrok could hear it and repeat it. As they both said the magic words, one of the spirits suddenly thrusted towards the body. It tried to fight,

”What was that?”, a guard said. He was standing in a tower, overlooking at the Backlands. He wasn’t exactly sure, what it was – but he swore, he just saw a flash on the other side of the river. There it was again. He stood still, watching into the darkness. In just a few minutes there was a third one, this time a bit closer.

”Sergeant Rorthin! Come up here. There’s something, you should see.”
A weary man in plate armor climbed the stairs to the tower.
”My shift is almost over. What is it, Matthen?

Matthen pointed towards the direction of the flashes. Rorthin yawned, saying:
”It’s nothing… A couple of exiles having a feast or something.”

”Should we prepare men, just in case something happens?”, Matthen asked, tightening a grip from his sword. Rorthin was as calm as ever – maybe the fact, that Wyron hadn’t had an attack for ages had lowered his guard a bit.

”I really doubt, a small group of thugs is foolish enough to try and attack us. The only thing, that will result from that is… more foolishness. There’s nothing there – calm down. You know what to do if anyone attacks us”, Rorthin said and left Matthen to watch the flashes.

Zarek and Mirrok were lying on the ground, huffing and puffing. So many revivals in a row had an impact on their strength – and the result was only a handful of walking corpses and skeletons and some forest animals. It wasn’t nearly enough for a full-scale invasion.

”If… we’d reach the villages on the other side”, Mirrok said, panting heavily, ”We – could use their crypts… But that ford is – the only overpass.”

”Yes, Mirrok, I know…”, Zarek said, watching towards the river. The sun was almost down, but yet he could see something in the river. A black lump, moving towards the Backlands
”Wait… what is that thing over there? In the river. It’s moving.”
”An animal walking across the river? Propably a bear”, Mirrok replied not understanding, where Zarek was aiming at. The healer had raised up, staring at the animal. There was an inch of hope – There was another overpass afterall.

X: A Manifest

Zarek, Mirrok and all their summonings crossed the river. It took a lot of their precious time to force their way through the heavy current. Some of the corpses couldn’t take it and they were helplessly pulled along with the stream. They thought, they had found a safe passage over, but as they stepped on the Kingdom’s shore, Mirrok suddenly gave a deafening yell. He had stepped into a bear trap.

”Be quiet, or everyone hears”, Zarek whispered, hurrying to free Mirrok from the trap. It seems, that the second ford was in general knowledge, but less attention was paid to it. Nevertheless, it was covered by forests from both sides, so detection would have been difficult anyways. Zarek forced the bear trap open and placed his hands on the open wound. He begun to move his lips to say something… How did the healing spell go again? Having not used his previous skills for a long time, Zarek had almost forgotten them. With effort he pushed the memories from the depths of his mind and soon white sparks healed the messy bite of the trap.

”Halt! Who goes there?”, someone yelled from the bushes. Zarek and Mirrok looked towards the direction of the sound and they barely saw a guard, that had surprised them. The man stepped forth. He was merely a peasant – not one of Wyron’s heavily armed guards.

”So – Two scoundrels trying to sneak back to the Kingdom? Stay right where you are, or be impaled by my pitchfork”, he said, gloating with his success in ambushing two exiles all by himself. But a third shadow appeared behind the ones, he had arrested. It jumped over them – it was fast. He tried to order it to stop, until he felt a pair of deer horns plunging deep into his stomach. With a gargling utter he gave his life. Zarek had to face the other way, because he couldn’t understand how a peaceful bush-eater could suddenly become so – carnivorous.

”Stand up, Mirrok. Let us revive it before the deer finishes him off completely. Deer. Get away from it”, Zarek called and suddenly the gray deer obediently moved away from the bloody mess. But after a short while the guard raised up again. Zarek thought, that the deer hadn’t killed him after all and was preparing to give a lethal plunge. But it just stood still, doing nothing. Zarek looked at his face with the light glowing from his orb and he saw, that he had lost all his will. His empty gaze stared at Zarek, waiting for orders. Something in that deer must’ve revived the guard, before he did.

”This just makes things a lot easier”, Zarek said, ”A living man, bitten by a walking corpse – turns into a walking corpse.”
Something in his head tried to piece an old puzzle together. A puzzle, that explained how Zarek got into necromancy and what had caused him to stand there, near Garakhan’s Vein on that night. But he couldn’t figure out, what the puzzle meant. They carried on, directly towards the fort. It’s defenses were mostly built to deflect an attack directly from the ford. The secret overpass, Zarek had discovered, would allow them to circle back and attack the stronghold from it’s weakest point – the city of Wyron, that was almost defenseless from the other side, if a weak, wooden wall wasn’t counted as a serious defense.

Near a hill, not too far from Wyron, there was a crypt, they had been hoping to encounter. They realized, that reviving everyone might drain the last of their strength. The only option was to raise as many, as possible.

”It’s no use, depleting both of our strength in that crypt. I can go there and revive, what I can. You go ahead and attack the city”, Mirrok suggested.
”I don’t think, it’s very wise… What if you are too weak to make it out?”
”I might not make it out– but the undead will. Besides, I am sure your current corpses can turn enough citizens to undead. I guess, you will be able to hold your ground long enough.”
”Very well then, Mirrok. Do as you please.”

As his apprentice vanished to the crypt, Zarek looked towards Wyron. He had to make out the most of it and he could feel, that the undead were eager to start battle – As if their lifes had a purpose for the first time. He strolled forth towards the gates.

”Halt, citizen. What business do you have in Wyron?”, the gatekeeper asked. Zarek stood alone on the road, looking towards the soldier.

”I am a healer coming to offer my services in this city. Forgive me my late arrival, I ran into some trouble on the way – and I don’t have any other place to go”, Zarek said. The gatekeeper looked at the supposed healer, but his torch didn’t illuminate much. A dirty, white cloak, a purple glow next to him – a staff. The guard couldn’t see his face – nor the undead, that were slowly moving to a charging distance.

”Very well, you can enter”, the guard said and ordered the wooden gates to be opened.

The road was open – a straight, paved road through the city to the heavy iron doors of the fortress. Zarek walked in, trying to look as innocent as possible. He was inside. As the gatekeeper prepared to close the gate, Zarek knocked the pavement with his staff.

It was time for the retribution to begin. After Zarek knocked the ground, the animals attacked. Deers, rats, moles, you name it. Everything, Zarek and Mirrok had revived for the past few months stormed the gateway…

There were screams in almost every house and the citizens rampaged to the streets in panic, only to see their brethren wake up from the dead. It was carnage. House by house Zarek wrote his manifest with blood to Wyron’s streets.

”The city is under attack!”

The fortress was in full alarm, as distressed soldiers ran around gathering their battle equipment. They really had thought, that any invasion comes from the ford and not from the behind. The general at Fort Wyron and a governor of the region felt a sting on his consciousness – Foolish of him to not replace the wooden palisade with a rigid stone wall. Soon the stronghold’s heavy gates creaked open and Kingdom’s soldier prepared to march forth to do what they were trained to do – to protect their kingdom.

Wyron was burning. The invasion had lasted for an hour and it was already out of Zarek’s control. All, he could do, was to avoid the soldiers and hope, Mirrok would come back in time with reinforcements from the crypt. All, he could do, was to cast icy balls at random towards anything, that looked like an enemy. And the undead? Basically they just followed their basic instinct – eat. And they surely ate, for the size of walking corpses had almost tripled. Zarek had thought, he could have a clear passage to the stronghold – until the corpses tried to sink their teeth to the hard, cold steel of the armors of Kingdom’s men.

A mighty rampage of the undead corpses begun to slow down, as the crowners started to slice their way through the undead, that just moments back were sleepy citizens of Wyron. Every time they struck a corpse down, it bursted up in purple light and crumbled to dust. Although the soldiers were outnumbered, they were much more stronger, than the weak flesh of the corpses. They were able to put up a real fight in the streets of chaotic Wyron. Zarek tried to cast his magic upon King’s men, but his way was thoroughly blocked by his own summonings. It was a flesh wall against a flesh wall and the numbers were the only, that mattered. And Zarek noticed, that his own wall begun to run very low.

A whisper in the air. Another. Then – a lots of them. Some of the soldiers suddenly retreated a bit, raising their shields up. Arrows pointed out from some of the corpses. Zarek turned around and a man in black rags was walking towards him. It was Mirrok, followed by dozens of skeletal soldiers. He was completely exhausted. As he reached Zarek, he fell on his knees to the ground, gasping heavily.

”Zarek… What a… great day to stumble… upon a crypt of… dead soldiers”, Mirrok said.

The course of battle was turned. As soon, as Mirrok’s skeletons pushed through the corpses into the heat of battle, the enemy backed down towards the stronghold. The soldiers were amazed and frightened to learn, that their weapons, which effectively mowed down the walking corpses, had almost no effect against this new foe. And slowly Zarek and Mirrok proceeded to the stronghold along with their army. The battle had spread to the entire city.

It was almost a morning and Wyron had surrendered. Zarek walked around in the fortress, kicking the dead soldiers for his leisure. A couple of skeletons dragged something to him – It was the general of Fort Wyron. Zarek grabbed the man from his armor and looked deep into his eyes.

”Where is Ronard?”, he asked.
”I don’t know, what you mean, you vile creature!”, the general shouted. Zarek smashed the man to the face.
”I asked, where is Ronard? You know – A bit taller than me, a large build, blonde hair, looks like a donkey’s rear – and speaks, like a donkey’s rear. Last time I saw him in Elwyra a year ago.”
”Y-you mean, THE Ronard? Ronard of Elwyra?”, the general said, snarling in pain.
”Hopefully the same fellow. Where – is – he?!”
”He’s in Felham! H-he is an arch-magister!”

Zarek couldn’t believe his ears. The low-life scum, who always tried to steal his research and destroyed his wife had received one of the most powerful positions in Kingdom – second to only the Throne.

”Do you value life, general?”, Zarek asked him.
”I don’t fear death, cretin – but I don’t want to live the unlife, you have brought upon this humble town – and this fortress. Thanks to you, the ford is now open to any invaders…”, the general yelled with all his strength and courage and Zarek hit him again.
”That is your problem, general – but if you want to avoid the unlife, take a horse and travel all the way to Felham. In Felham I want you to seek out this ’arch-magister’ Ronard. Tell him, what happened here – and tell him, that Zarek the Healer sends his regards. Will you do this – or will you join my ranks?”
”Zarek the Healer?! Zarek the Damned, I tell you. You are an animal! Animal Zarek!”, the general yelled.
”Will you do this?”, Zarek asked again. He gazed at the general and the general stared at him. Despite the circumstances, Zarek was in another battle. A battle of willpower.

As the first rays of sun appeared from the horizon, a lone horseman rode out of the fallen Wyron towards south-east, where Felham was.

The corpses, skeletons and the few survived animal summonings patrolled the streets, while survivors remained hidden in their homes. Zarek and Mirrok were standing in a tower, looking towards east.

”I think, this’ll become a greater endevour, than I thought”, Zarek said, ”Ronard is in Felham – he’s an arch-magister.”
”Oooh – I know those, who have that position. They are practically the King’s voice – though some of them do as they please with King’s supposed orders – Most importantly they command entire armies”, Mirrok lectured,”I hope, he’s not too high for you, Zarek. Such top-notch fellows prove to be hard to kill… but at least we are heading for the same direction.”
”You’re going to Felham as well?”
”I told you, I’ve got a few scores to be settled. But I tell you, this is going to be a long and hard trip. So long and hard, that us two are clearly not enough.”
”What do you suggest then, Mirrok?”
”Well – we’ve got a fair number of scared citizens down there, who already know, death is not final… They have seen, how weak King’s men are. They would make great pupils. And you, Zarek – would make a great teacher.”

In the occupied Wyron, skeletons began to collect the hiding citizens to the stronghold, for Zarek wanted to present them a choice. Join him and live as a human – deny him and live as a corpse. Though he didn’t know it yet, Zarek had started a war. A war, that changes the face of the entire known world.

Carry on to Chapter XI: Bad News
Last edited by Jarkko on March 21st, 2010, 5:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Translating Wesnoth into finnish
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic] (Chapters 8 - 10 out now)

Post by Captain_Wrathbow »

I continue to be amazed at the intriguing storyline and great character development of this tale.
Keep up the great work! I already can't wait for the next chapter. :D
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Re: The White Lich [Fan-Fic] (Chapters 8 - 10 out now)

Post by artisticdude »

Wow, seriously dude, with a bit of polishing I think this could become official. It's fantastic without being unbelievable, and explains a lot of the aspects of the undead that many people may have wondered about… until now, that is. :wink:
"I'm never wrong. One time I thought I was wrong, but I was mistaken."
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