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Enlightenment - Chapter XV

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That was too much for him.

The cool forest air washed over her and she was thinking clearly once again.

It had been their worst argument yet. Not because of what was said, but what was unsaid. He held back. I know he did. Some of it was so terrible he couldn't even say it.

But she had to admit from what he did say, he was right in some respects. She was no longer just a scribe anymore. She always thought of herself as just a scribe, and occasionally a mage, but she was more now. She was effectively a necromancer as well. There was nothing else in this world that Stark seemed to hate more than necromancers, and she was one of them now.

That was more than enough for him to handle in one day, but it didn't end there. She just had to accuse the High Father of the Order of Light of orchestrating the break in to her home. A crime essentially punishable by death from all he had been taught as a Luna Guard.

I should have told him another time.

And maybe he was right when it came to Wayland too. Right for the wrong reason. Wayland probably didn't give the order. He didn't need to give orders. Just casually mention interest in herself and her collection to the right ears, and someone would jump at the chance to gain favor with the stupid High Father.

He knows the power of his words. He wanted the outcome. He's still responsible!

Stark might be right, but so was she.

Still... it was definitely too much for him to take all at once. If he wasn't always so stubborn and closed-minded! If he'd listen a little bit more! Maybe I wouldn't have been so angry with him and waited for a better time!

He was just so certain that necromancy in and of itself, was evil, regardless of its use. He should know better than that! He should know her better than that.

A gust of wind attacks Melfina's hair and snaps her attention back to the present. The trees were densely packed and the brush was thick. She couldn't recognize this part of the forest and wasn't really sure which way led back home. She became especially conscious of how alone she truly was.

Melfina quickly glances behind her, just to make sure nothing's there. Stop being a little girl Melfina! she follows up that thought with I wish I could summon Reagent.

But she promised. She unsummoned Reagent right there in front of him. She agreed to stop using necromancy completely. At least until he reported back to his precious Lord of West Luna and heard his judgement. At least he was willing to listen to someone else, even if it wasn't her.

What will Lord Luna say? He won't care as long as I remain profitable right? But what if he does? What if he tries to stop me? What do I do then? Melfina quickly shakes away the thought. He won't care. And he'll know the truth about Wayland once I tell him my theory. It isn't the necromancy that's causing problems, it's the stupid Tome!

She pats her bag, feeling for the Tome's bulk. Maybe it wasn't smart of her to bring it along, but as she grabbed supplies on her way out, she couldn't bring herself to leave the centerpiece of her collection unprotected. Not after yesterday.

Then an odd realization struck her. The whole time she's owned the Tome of Lost Knowledge, she'd never taken a good look inside. There had just been too many distractions, and too many reasons to wait a little longer.

A nice, flat rock beckons to her. Sitting comfortably, she opens up theTome. Its power as a mana focus made itself known, without any effort at all.

How did we lose so much knowledge? Sure Britian fell apart, Wind was destroyed, and the great mages killed and scattered, but knowledge was greater than any one person.

What's the Codex doing here? What do the virtues have to do with magery? And why not label it if its supposed to be a reference?

After those few precious moments with her Tome, a beastly voice calls out.

"Alone at last."

Her head jerks up, and a dark wolf stands before her. She hadn't imagined it. There had been a voice. And like it said, he had returned. Powerful, confident, and dark as night, the familiar had found her.

"You talk!"

"I am Darksage."

Darksage crouches, ready to attack.

"Stay familiar! Obey me!" she commands as she scrambles to her feet.

"Your commands me nothing to me. I am not a creation like your horde minion."

"But I summoned you! And I unsummoned you!"

"And now we are linked. But do not do that again. I will be able to find you no matter where you are. We are not finished yet."

"What do you want?" Melfina asks, gripping tightly onto the Tome of Lost Knowledge.

Darksage's lips curl up, baring its teeth.

"Stupid girl. What do I want! You called me! I am not your slave. I'm not a summon. If you want me to be your familiar, you must prove yourself."


His jaws snap at her ignorance.

"How you called me... Your spell should have called a pup to your side, to match your ignorance. Yet here I am, and linked with... you. If you would lead me, you must defeat me."

"I don't want to lead you!"

Darksage shakes his head. "You've begun it. Defeat me or die. There is no going back!"

As the last word leaves his lips, the dark wolf leaps.

Melfina was ready. She had the Tome. All her spells would be more potent. She throws a magic arrow, teleports back, and releases a fireball in rapid succession.

Darksage leaps away, dodging the brunt of the attack, and disappears into the woods. His voice calls out, "Fireballs! That won't be enough! Show me your true power necromancer!"

Melfina ignores the words, and focuses solely on locating the voice. With a lightning bolt already precasted, one final twitch would unleash the energy from her finger tips.

A blur of black appears on her left, but disappears as soon as she get a good look.

Be patient Melfina! Be patient.

She hears something behind her, and turns to find him already leaving the ground, jaws ready to make the killing blow. Lightning explodes from her hands, tossing him to the ground. I need to end this now! Flamestrike was a spell of choice for many mages, or so she had heard, so she precasts that next.

Darksage recovers quicker than expected, and lunges again to interrupt her attack. Melfina remains focused, and completes the spell just it time. But it fizzles. The wolf's weight knocks her down with each. He needs only one of his huge paws to keep her pinned.

Melfina screams.

Its warm breath smothers her face in waves as he bares his teeth and growls. He opens his jaws. Melfina closes her eyes.

Instead of death touching her, the wolf whispers, "It was unfortunate I was summoned by you. I was bound by the Ossian Cult. I've ran with the greatest necromancers who have ever lived. I have lived for centuries. I am the oldest of the dark wolves. And now I'm linked with you until you die."

Melfina forces her eyes open, and stares into the golden globes above her.

"Do not summon me again. I cannot harm you. But I can harm those around you." He unpins her. "May you die soon. I wish to be free of you. You are not worthy."

* * *

Dear Diary,

What have I done? Stark isn't right is he?

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