Flames and Steel: The Chromatic War

A Side Story, Dark Magic

Al’ev had not known loss like this before. He didn’t know how people could stand it. What he did know is that it was far more painful than the physical wounds he received fighting off the goblins.

They had brought Brox’s body back into town with them. Al’ev had refused to allow anyone else to help him as he picked the dead dog up out of the snow. He had failed to protect Joshua and Brox and only his mother’s intervention had saved the two boys. Whatever confidence he had earned during the Day of the Swordsman he had lost in the forest that morning.

They made it back to the Reldin’s house and Nalef left him and Brox alone at the front door.

“I have to take Joshua home, Al’ev. His parents need to know what happened. Please go inside and lay down. When I get back, I’ll take care of Brox.”

He didn’t answer her. Nalef wasn’t even sure he had heard her.

Nalef’s suspicions were correct. He hadn’t heard her. He was too busy calculating a way to right the situation. He would not accept the death of his dog, not when he could weave magic.

“Magic can fix anything.” He had seen it written in a strange book that talked about subjects he didn’t understand. The black book had first caught his interest a few years ago on one of his numerous trips to the Arcane Library of Halar. The subject it covered was the school of magic known as necromancy. Al’ev found most of what was in it to be quite frightening at the time.

I was only a child then…

Now that he had taken life and seen it taken from his dog, he began to understand the opening chapter’s argument. Necromancy may be one of the most misunderstood subjects in all of magic.

When he first found the text, Al’ev didn’t dive into it very far, but he did note that the book contained a few spells. He had taken the time to write them down in a notebook his mother had bought for him as a present earlier that same year. Two spells in particular hadn’t left his mind from the moment he came out of the haze of losing Brox.

“I’ll bring you back, boy. It’ll be like none of this ever happened. But I’ll need some time to practice and gather all that I’ll need. Be patient okay?”

Al’ev washed the dog’s body with buckets of water gathered from a nearby well. Then he went inside and gathered his notebook from the nightstand which sat next to his bed. Opening it up, he found the two spells he needed. The first would give him time he needed to gather materials and to practice the second. This was powerful magic which he didn’t understand very well. He knew that it was unwise to practice magic that used a power he didn’t quite comprehend and so Al’ev was determined to learn as much as he could so that he could prior to casting it so that he could bring his dog back to life.

He rushed back downstairs, knowing that his mother would question what he was doing if she caught him. She made no secret of her dislike of the necromancy school. She never said why, Nalef never taught him much about the strange school of magic beyond stating that it did exist.

Finally reaching the place where he left his pup in the backyard, he again opened up his notebook and practiced the first spell a few times. This spell was not one he had seen in any arcane tome. When he realized this years ago, he asked his Mom about other types of magic and she told him he should ask one of the followers of Sarenrae about it.

So Al’ev had gone to the church of Sarenrae and learned about another type of magic. He learned that this spell drew on a different source of power than the one he was familiar with. The followers of Sarenrae claimed that their abilities were drawn from a divine source. Al’ve believed in gods and demons, but he also believed that his power didn’t come from them. His power was entirely different, like his mother’s. He had gone back to the church every now and then, as the spells the clerics and paladins would cast often caught his interest, as did most magic. It was through his contact with the church that he realized how much he found himself agreeing with Sarenrae’s teachings of forgiveness and her appreciation of the way of the sword.

He hoped The Dawnflower was watching over him now as he continued studying his notes. After a couple minutes working on the wording, he recited the spell and thought he felt the familiar draw of strength leaving his body.

Only then did he know he was finished as the spell didn’t appear to do anything. But the notes he had taken indicated that such would be the case. The corpse would be preserved and protected until he came back, ready to begin the second spell later on.
With his current task complete, he began to dig the grave he knew his mother would expect him to have started by now. He was interrupted only a few minutes into his task.

“There you are. Al’ev, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t get there fast enough.” She came over and hugged him from behind.

After a short time of Al’ev not answering she spoke again. “You should be inside resting. Your skin is very cold and I’m no medical expert but I don’t think I was able to fix those cracked ribs of yours. Doesn’t it hurt.”

Nothing hurts more than having to bury my dog.

Nalef sighed, “Well, let’s finish burying him and get you in the house.”

The two of them worked for a few minutes in silence. It wasn’t normal for them to go on like this, but Al’ev had nothing to say to her. If he said anything, he was afraid he’d let slip the fact that he had a plan to bring his dog back to life. He knew without a doubt that she wouldn’t allow it. So he kept it to himself.

When they were finished digging the hole, Al’ev lowered the dog into the pit, wincing at what he had to do next.

“Al’ev, I think we should say a few words. He died a hero after all. He saved both you and Joshua.”

He simply nodded and Nalef knew he was hurting more than she had originally though as he still hadn’t said a word.

She decided to speak first when it was clear he wasn’t going to. “Throughout history stories from multiple races have spoken of the nobility, the companionship and the love that dogs have brought to them. Brox was the kind of dog that could have fit into the grandest of those stories for he was the shining example of nobility, companionship and love. He died protecting those who considered him family and now his family mourns his passing and we will forever honor his memory. Thank you for saving my son.”

She looked over to Al’ev indicating he needed to say something.

Al’ev fought his tears. Regardless of his plans now, his dog had died and it still hurt. But he knew this was a temporary goodbye. “Brox, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank you enough for saving Joshua and I today. Because of you I am still here now. You are my greatest friend. I will see you again soon. Perhaps then we can play in the forest like we used to.”

I won’t keep you waiting long. He continued in his mind.

Nalef looked at her son and nodded. “See you again soon…” When did you develop a spiritual side, Al’ev….unless….

She watched him as he started to bury his dog and knew he was up to something. The look on his face certainly told her that much. He was emotional, sure. That was to be expected. But he also had a sense of determination about him.

She stood in the snow and considered what he could possibly be up to. Revenge? No, that wasn’t like her son. He was the kind to do something more drastic.

What are you up to? Why don’t you want to share it with me?

Her son bowed his head towards the grave then went inside to begin his recovery. She would have to keep a close eye on him for a while, but first she needed to make sure he was healing well. She went off in search of her talented cleric friend, Tif.

Al’ev watched his mother leave in the direction of the Church of Sarenrae. He knew she was going to only be gone a short while. If he was going to do this, he wasn’t going to use anything but the direct source, not even his own notes. Luckily the black book had been one he frequently checked out from the library. It only took him a few minutes, even though his room was very disorganized, to locate the plane black tome.

The book was heavier than he remembered, though as he picked it up he realized just how weak he was after the day’s events. Al’ev flipped to the page he had marked during one of his study sessions at the library the previous week. As he began walking over towards his bed with the book in his hand something zapped the remaining sliver of his strength. The world began to spin before him and then everything went dark.

Al’ev hit the ground hard, but didn’t utter a sound. He had already passed out before his body had collided with the wooden floor. The book tumbled out of his hand and came to rest next to his bed.

This was how Nalef found him, and the book. She took one glance at it and understood instantly what she was looking at. She didn’t know how he had gotten a hold of a book like this. It was normally found in the Illundra restricted sections, the few times one could find the book in the library. This particular tome had many necromancy spells that drew on energies that should never be drawn upon. It was dangerous to even the most accomplished magic users as the complexity of what it held within held subtleties that were easily overlooked.

She took a deep breath and looked at her son, infinitely sadder than she had been before. He was on the path to learn a very hard lesson, one she had hoped she was shielding him from by not teaching him anything of necromancy.

But some lessons had to be learned the hard way.

She picked up her son with some effort, he was already taller than she was and weighed considerably more now as his muscles had begun to fill out. Then she put him down in the bed and returned to take a closer look at the text. Seeing the string marking a page, she flipped to it and wasn’t surprised. The spell was barely within his abilities, she knew, but she also knew that it was easy for a complex spell like this one to go wrong. And even if he succeeded in its casting, it likely would not do what he was hoping for.

She shook her head and pushed the book back under his bed. She then waved to her friend Tif who had been waiting out in the hall. The two of them worked on his wounds for several minutes in silence.

A couple of minutes after they were done weaving magic, Al’ev came to and saw his mother and Tif standing over him wrapping a bandage around his waste. He tried to sit up but Tif forced him to lay back down with a gentle but firm hand on his chest.

“How long…” he took in a deep breath and was filled with the sensation of pain emanating from his ribs. The adrenaline from the fight had completely worn off now.

“Only a few minutes.” His mother answered.

There was a few moments of silence.

“You are very brave Al’ev. Not many young men your age have fought goblins.” Tif said as she finished wrapping another bandage.

Al’ev stared at the ceiling and didn’t say a word.

“I suspect that you did very well because of your training for the Day of the Swordsman. Captain Greil will be happy to hear you finished a few of the savages off. I imagine some of the townsfolk will consider you a hero.”

Al’ev mumbled something.

“I’m sorry dear? What did you say?” Tif said.

“I said ’I’m no hero.’ Heroes are strong and I wasn’t strong enough to save a single dog. Captain Greil said I would be if I were a good swordsman. He said I could protect anyone I loved. I failed. I’m no hero.”

“Al’ev, you know that isn’t true. Joshua is still alive because of you and Brox.” His mother said.

Tears began running down his face, “But it is true, Mom. Joshua is alive despite Brox and I.” He sniffed. “Brox is dead because I wasn’t strong enough to protect him. Joshua and I are only alive because you were there.” He buried his head in his hands and turned over so that his face was on his pillow.

Nalef gently rubbed his back for a few moments then she nodded to Tif and they left the room. Al’ev cried himself to sleep. He was exhausted after the days events, mentally and physically.

That night he dreamt of the day his mother had given him Brox for his seventh birthday. Despite the subject matter of his dreams, his exhaustion was such that he didn’t have difficulty sleeping.

When he awoke again the following afternoon, he smelled his favorite snack being cooked downstairs and he smiled. His mother loved him so much and he loved her. He still had her and everything that happened from now on would be okay because of that.

He searched for the book he had been reading before and found it under the foot of his bed. The book was still heavy, but not as it had been before.

“If this is the weight of hope, I’ll gladly carry it.” He opened to the page he marked and started writing down what he’d need to finish the spell. Unlike most magic he had cast up until that point, this spell required a great many materials and some sort of strange ritual. He made sure to write down every detail the book mentioned.

After a few hours of pouring over every aspect he could find about the spell in the dark tome, he heard his mother’s footfalls on the stairs. He quickly hid the book and pretended to be on his side resting.

Nalef walked into the room and saw through him instantly. She knew her son too well to think he’d be doing anything other than trying to set things as they were before. She pretended not to notice though.

“Al’ev. Wake up hon. I brought your favorite snack.”

He sat up slowly and faked rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Hi Mom.”

She smiled and handed him a plate. “Al’ev, about yesterday. It wasn’t your…”

“I know…it wasn’t my fault. It just hurts and I feel like I should have done more to be ready for it. Maybe he’d still be here by my side.”

She messed his hair up with her hand.

“Don’t be silly. You came back alive. Joshua came back alive. Who knows how many people you saved from those goblins by getting rid of them. The town guard and many people are whispering about the town’s champion ridding the world of a few more goblins.”

He tried to hide his embarrassment behind taking a bite of one of the delicious smelling wild berry cookies.

“How is Joshua doing?”

“He’s okay. In the same position you’re in actually. Cut, bruised and stuck in bed for a while.”

“Awww….”

She messed up his hair a little more.

“You didn’t think I’d let you leave this bed for anything but a bathroom trip, did you? Oh no, you’re stuck here for a few days at least.”

“But Mom…”

“Don’t start with me Al’ev. Besides, after what you just went through, I’ve come up with a few lesson plans for you that should help you in the future. You know, just in case you need a little more strength next time.”

He smiled weakly at his mother.

“Finish eating those cookies. You haven’t eaten anything for a while so I’ll be back up with some dinner in a little bit.” She got up to leave but turned back towards him as she reached the door. “Mel came by to check on you this morning. She was pretty worried.”

His stomach did that strange flip flop thing it did at the mention of her name these days. But outwardly he only stared at his mother, hoping she didn’t see the signs that something was going on with him.

“Just thought you’d like to know.” She said with a smile that told him she knew more than he did and left the room.

He sat there thinking about something other than Brox for the first time since the previous morning. His thoughts flowed for a few minutes until he finally threw his hands in the air and exclaimed “Girls!” He was almost certain he heard his mother laughing from the kitchen.


The next few days seemed to pass as though each was actually a week. His mother wanted him to get all the rest he could and so she allowed him no visitors. To keep him busy, she shared with him a few spells that he had never seen before. Most of them were beyond his means, but there were a few that could be spectacularly useful to him. Among those that were possible for him to cast, was a spell that seemed to turn his magical aura into a shield made of force. He practiced this one most as he thought about how it could have saved him a lot of pain during the fight against the goblins.

Between learning this spell as well as several others and with the lessons taught by his mother, he was able to pass most of the time during the following days. The rest of the time was spent planning how to get the materials he needed. Most were common, some were not. But he knew he could find it all within a trade town such as this. If he was careful, nobody would even be suspicious of him.

After spending several days in bed recovering, Nalef allowed Al’ev to leave the house. He immediately started gathering the materials and soon found that obtaining even the rarer substances on the list was easy if he used his brain and magical talent.

He hadn’t seen Joshua or Mel until the fifth morning when the two of them, Joshua using a walking stick, approached Al’ev.

Al’ev was studying the black tome again, trying to memorize a delicate portion of the motions and words needed to complete the spell ritual. He had learned early on in his studies that the slightest mispronunciation or even the smallest improper movement could cause the spell to fail or even go completely wrong. Given the power he was going to have to pour into this spell, if it did go wrong, the effects could be quite awful.

He was willing to risk it, though, if it set things right.

“There he is Mel. I told you he’d have his nose buried in a book. He always has his nose in a book when we’re not around. We need to rescue him.”

“You’re in no shape to be rescuing anyone, Joshua. Al’ev, I heard about everything. Are you okay?” Mel asked.

He looked down at the book and marked his current page. “I will be. Don’t worry.”

“And your injuries?” She pressed as she walked closer.

Al’ev was quickly growing uncomfortable as she neared. “Uhm…all fine. They would’ve had to do much worse to hurt me.” He said with his best brave voice.

She looked at him with that look that told him he was about to be slapped. He braced himself but instead found that her arms were around him.

“You had me so worried. I…” she pulled back then looked down and wiped away a few tears.

“It’s okay. We’re alright.” He said putting a hand on her shoulder without realizing it.

“But you were hurt…and so was Joshua. And Brox was…” She looked up then took his hand in hers. “Al’ev, don’t go out there again. Stay inside the walls. It’s safe here. Promise me you and Joshua will be safe.”

“Mel, why are you this way? We’re fine. Right Joshua?” He said looking over to his friend for help.

“That’s right. We’re still standing and those goblins aren’t. Some people are saying we’re heroes!”

Mel looked from Al’ev to Joshua and then back to Al’ev. “That wasn’t a promise, Al’ev.” He stared at her with an impassive face. Finally she threw her hands up into the air and shouted, “Boys!”

Al’ev and Joshua laughed.

“But you still lost Brox, Al’ev. Aren’t you sad?”

He forced a smile. “Yes I am, but he died a true hero.” He looked down at his book then back up at Mel and Joshua. “Hopefully we’ll all see him again someday.”

Mel finally smiled then nodded. “Well, what should we do today?”

“How about we just enjoy the cool air?” Al’ev suggested.

“Awww….but I wanted to talk about the fight. I still don’t know how you finished off the other two of the goblins. Why was there a pile of ash in the snow? And why did one not have a head?” He said as though suddenly remembering the scene after the fight.

Al’ev blinked at Joshua and then silently cursed to himself. If he hadn’t been so focused on his grief for Brox, he might have been smart enough to cover up the pile of ash he had turned the goblin into after Joshua had been knocked out. His friends still knew nothing of his or his mother’s magic. “I imagine Mel doesn’t want to hear about it. We can talk about it later.” He dodged.

Joshua looked at Mel, who seemed to grow pale at the thought about hearing about goblins being sliced in two, then sighed. “Fine…”

Mel thanked them both for not talking about the fight. The three of them spent the rest of the afternoon talking about the recent news that traders had been bringing into town and then about the most recent magic mistake someone was rumored to have had made over in the Arcane Library.

“I heard they spent several hours cleaning up the mess. I wonder what happened.” Mel said.

Al’ev remained quite as he thought about what could happen if he messed up his own spell.

The three continued to talk and it wasn’t long before the sun began to set, forcing them to say their goodbyes. Mel hugged Al’ev again, a bit longer than usual.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?” The concern had returned to her eyes.

“I’ll be here. See you tomorrow.”

Al’ev watched them go then sat back down on a tree stump they had found him on that morning. He looked at Brox’s grave for a few moments, though his mind was still on his friends. Finally his eyes registered what they were looking at and his mind jumped back to what he had been doing.

Once more pulling out the black tome, he opened to the page listing the ingredients and checked the list off. After a week of working on it, he had all he needed. Now he just needed to wait until his mother had gone to sleep for him to cast the spell.

He went inside shortly after smelling the scent of cooking food in the air. Saying hello to his mother, he sat down at the table and the two of them shared a quiet meal. Something appeared to be on her mind, and he had plenty on his. But neither seemed willing to share so it remained abnormally quiet. What little conversation there was didn’t last long before they were done with their food. He took care of the dishes and watched his mother head to her room, presumably to sleep.

Al’ev finished cleaning up and went up to his room to gather the spell’s materials which he had stored in a chest. Putting them all in a bag he waited a few excruciatingly long hours, then made his way silently back down stairs. The wooden floor creaked a couple of times as he went. He paused each time, sure his mother would come out of her room and catch him as he tried to sneak out.

But she didn’t show herself and Al’ev guessed that she had to be deep asleep. He wasn’t about to do this unless he was sure, though. He snuck to her room and cracked open the door.

He had always wondered why his mother didn’t prefer to have lots of things in her room. All that lay within, aside from his mother sleeping on her bed, was a shelf full of books, a small desk and chair. He watched his mother’s sleeping form for a few moments then decided it was safe to continue with his plan.

He made his way back to the main hallway and out the back door to Brox’s grave. Opening the book, he cast a spell that illuminated the immediate area so he could read. He studied the diagram in the book for a few careful moments. Then he arranged four candles in a circular pattern, unlit, as well as several other various items. The final item, holy water, was to be spread across the grave as part of casting the spell.

After double, then triple checking the setup, he then ensured he memorized the motions and words by mocking the spell away from the grave. Everything was clear in his mind. One motion flowed to the next. It wasn’t all that different from sword fighting or dancing really. He’d have to ask his mother again about why that was usually the case with spells later.

Satisfied that he was as prepared as he could be, he spoke out loud.

“Let’s hope you had a good rest boy. We’re going on a long walk after we get you out of there.”

He stood at the foot of the grave and began to chant various words of power, most of which were the root words from spells he knew to be associated with conjurations. Then the spell moved foreword and grew a little more complex. Mixed in with the conjuration words were words from the abjuration school, likely meant to protect, enhance or alter things. Now he begun to slowly move counterclockwise around the grave, waving his arms and hands in complex symbols, carefully stepping as he went.

As he reached the first candle, to the right of the grave, the spell called for a word from the evocation school to be weaved in and a gesture to the candle to be made. He did this and a spark leapt from his outreached hand and landed on the wick of the candle. He continued moving counterclockwise to the head of the grave where the next candle sat. He repeated the actions from the first candle and this too lit.

Now the ritual called for him to reverse direction back to the foot of the grave. He did this, chanting and stepping carefully per the instructions in the black tome. He stopped at the foot of the grave and lit this candle too. He continued to the final candle and lit it. As he did, he felt a massive draw on his energy. He briefly thought he was about to fall over until he regained some semblance of strength from his reserves.

Thanking his mother for the large meal that was likely responsible for him still standing, he moved to the final step of the spell.

Now back at the foot of the grave, still chanting, the words became different and much less familiar. Of these words, most of them didn’t even didn’t even sound like the elven language he had been reciting the spells in to this point and so he could only guess at the precise meaning of them, but all of them came from the school of necromancy. The ritual’s instructions had stated as much.

He finished the last line and gesture, then scattered most of the holy water about the grave. Finally, he stepped back and watched.

For a few minutes, he stared as nothing seemed to happen. He began to wonder at what he did wrong then he felt a second tug on his energy and saw two of the candles extinguish themselves. Then a third tear into his energy came, even more massive than the previous ones, and he fell to a knee suddenly finding that he didn’t have the ability to stand.

A sense of wrongness was starting to tickle through the tingling magic in the back of his mind. It was as though the tingling had become twisted in some way and it continued without righting itself as the draw on his power continued to rapidly drain him.

The fourth candle went out and Al’ev felt almost all of his remaining strength evaporate much as though he had just finished running several miles at a full sprint. The feeling of wrongness was now overwhelming him and the ground around the grave had started to tremble.

The edges of his vision started to grow darker than the night’s sky and what little he could still see started to spin.

All of a sudden he heard his mother’s voice echoing from a distance. “Stay strong, Al’ev. You’ll need to be ready…”

He didn’t understand where the words had come from. He didn’t much care. They had given him something to focus on. He clung to the words as one might a rope as they dangled off a high cliff edge.

The world stopped spinning, and his vision cleared. He found the strength to return to his feet and as he did he was hit by something heavy and fowl smelling. Something snarling. Something that radiated the perverse feeling he had noticed just moments before.

With a bit of effort, he shoved whatever this thing was off of him and stumbled backwards towards the house. He regained his balance and used the next few seconds to cast a light spell. The yard lit up again, he no longer cared if he was noticed, as he started to glance around.

His eyes fell on the mound of dirt that had buried several of the materials he had placed around the grave for the ritual. He looked closer for a moment and noticed that the grave itself was empty.

That means that…

He turned to the snarling, awful smelling hairy beast that had slammed into him and saw Brox.

But it wasn’t Brox. This beast didn’t have the same eyes that Al’ev had woken up to the previous seven years of his life. As a mater of fact, this thing had no eyes, just empty sockets that stared up at him as it gathered its mangled body from the ground and prepared to lunge at him again.

“I don’t…what did…” The undead creature lunged and Al’ev instinctively used one of the spells Nalef had taught him only a few days previous. A bubble of invisible force took shape briefly around him and the creature rebounded off of it.

Al’ev was still in shock.

Why are you…what did I do wrong? No…STOP!

STOP!”

The beast lunged again and Al’ev couldn’t react in time. The creature latched onto his arm and bit down. Only then did Al’ev realize that this creature and its still intact teeth no longer held any of his dog within. Brox had moved on. Al’ev had been foolish to think he could cheat death out of the contract every creature signed at the beginning of their lives.

The creature bit down harder, further damaging his right arm.

Al’ev cried out in agony. But despite the flaring of numerous nerve endings, his mind suddenly became much more focused. Death was about to make good on his own contract if he didn’t fight back.

His left hand reached for his sword, but he realized as he did, that the blade was still in his room, unmoved from when he had brought it back after the fight with the goblins. He only had his magic to rely on now…

Before the creature could tear at his arm again, another spell came to his mind. It originated from a book he had picked up years before in the Arcane Library. It was entitled “Wonders of Evocation.”

He recited the proper words and brought his left hand to bear on the beast’s rotting hide. When his hand made contact, arcs of lighting danced from his palm and into the creature.

The spell had the desired effect. The creature let his right arm go and fell to the ground. But it wasn’t dead and Al’ev knew it would take more than just one attack to fell this abomination he had created.

The beast gathered itself once more and Al’ev recognized that the only way he was going to end this was through sheer force. He had felt his energy returning to him with each passing moment this undead hound had been attacking him. It lunged again, this time Al’ev used his speed and dodged out of harms way, punching the beast’s side and reciting the previous spell again.

More jolts of electricity briefly washed over the thing’s body. The smell of rotten burning animal hide filled the air. However, the creature was still moving.

Before it could attack him again, he cast one more spell with his hands open towards the body of his best friend. “I’m sorry…” and with tears in his eyes he let the flames fly, not letting up for several seconds until he could no longer make out the form of the beast within the inferno. The last of his magical power finally leaving his body, the flames came to a halt and Al’ev fell to his knees.

He looked upon the now ashen form of his pup and thought. This…this is necromancy. I did everything right. Not one mistake. That book…that blasted evil book…it claimed I could bring him back to life. It lied. The energy. It felt wrong…it felt…evil.

“This isn’t what I wanted.” he whispered out loud.

There came the sound of a footsteps in the grass from the direction of the house. He looked back and saw his mother walking towards him.

“This isn’t what I wanted…”

“The school of necromancy rarely gives us what we want, Al’ev. You do understand now why I never wanted you to learn anything from this school of magic, right?”

He nodded.

“I’m sorry you had to learn it this way. Your heart, as always, was in the right place. But there are some things we just can’t do with arcane magic, Al’ev. Taking life is easy. Returning it is not. Always remember that before you decide to take a life.”

She put a hand on his shoulder and he continued to stare at the ash which was slowly blowing away into the slight winter breeze.

“Let me look at your arm. The creature got you pretty good.” Nalef inspected the wounds and quickly healed them. “You used the spell shield ability quite well. And that shocking grasp attack was of an expert level. A bit more magical might behind it and you could have done a lot more damage though.”

He didn’t seem to hear her so she continued dressing the wounds in silence. After a few moments he finally spoke up.

“I’m sorry, Mom.”

She moved around to see her son’s eyes and said after a moment. “So am I, Al’ev. I wanted to stop you…but you had to learn. There is much in the world that is evil. Far worse than what you did here. Now that you understand what it feels like, you’ll know what to look for in the future.” She looked off in the direction of the Larian Mountains.

Al’ev didn’t quite understand what she was getting at, but it didn’t matter. The lesson she had taught him by letting him make his own mistake had been effective.

He silently vowed he would never use necromancy again.

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