|Author: TypeAxiom||Original Source: ScribbleHub|
Carmen felt her control over the mana shatter in the face of an awesome force. A freezing cold yet scorching hot wave swept over her, throwing her back. She barely felt herself hit the ground as dizziness struck her mind and it almost went blank. The whole front of her body was wracked with throbbing pain that bypassed the usual pain nullification of her body.
Barely managing to stay conscious, Carmen tried to stop her head from spinning. As her head cleared, she found that the whole front of her body was tattered and blackened like coal. Most of the fabric of the front of her dress was gone, leaving behind tattered remains of cloth.
At least the armor plates remained, preserving most of her modesty.
In the end, she still underestimated the power of that explosion. She even made sure to use her sword as a channel to artificially focus and extend her casting range, and she still got affected by the powerful magic.
Carmen winced as the throbbing pain randomly spiked. “Ow, ow ow…this is going to be a pain to heal. First, my heart…”
Slowly, the functions that imitated life resumed their operation. She was lucky that she had been far enough from the explosion that most of the damage she took had been purely blunt force. If she had been closer, close enough for the mana to go deeper and affect the center of her existence, she might have died on the spot.
As it was, the force rippled through her body and crushed a bunch of her organs. Her destroyed organs felt rather painless, but the damage done by the chaotic mana did hurt. Badly.
But before she could even begin to fix that, she had to use blood mana.
After focusing her natural regeneration on her heart, the organ started beating again and blood flowed once more. The first thing Carmen did was to convert part of her remaining mana into blood mana and channel both types toward the front of her body, healing the burnt and charred parts.
In the end, she didn’t have enough—the damage was just too severe. Thus, she had to lay there in pain as she tried to gather undead mana from the air around her. Unfortunately, it was much sparser than before. Fortunately, she didn’t have to compete with three other gluttons for mana, although she still had to make sure that Kagriss got enough.
Slowly, she crawled to the other side of the cavern, putting space between her and Kagriss.
The chaos mana explosion, as she decided to call it, had completely obliterated the three undead at the bottom of the pit. Because of the way the pit was shaped, the bottom half of the explosion was concentrated downwards instead of expanding and scattering in the air like it did for the top half. The concentrated blast even managed to affect and destroy the accumulator formation at the bottom of the pit…
Although progress was slow, Carmen managed to shed the charred flesh and replace them anew. Finally, she managed to recover completely, but the effort left her drained, although not to the extent of falling dormant like Kagriss did.
Kagriss was willing to fall dormant because she trusted Carmen to protect the both of them. Carmen didn’t want to betray that trust. If she was to fall asleep as well, then there’ll be no one else to ensure their safety.
That’s why even though it slowed her healing down, Carmen made sure to keep squirreling away mana just in case something else was lurking in this undead camp…although she doubted it.
How long had they been gone anyways? Fleur and Anne must be getting worried about them.
However, as weak as they are right now, Carmen didn’t want to go out just yet.
Her sword was practically unrecognizable after being at the center of the explosion, and she doubted that even her bloodbonding would be able to save it. Still, she stored the sword in her blood just in case it did, as well as her ruined dress, replacing it with another…even fancier…armored dress.
Carmen sighed. Her black and white attire was still undergoing repairs, unfortunately.
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At least Kagriss and her dress looked completely fine.
“Now what?” she wondered out loud.
She still wanted to look around the tunnels, since there might be secrets waiting to be uncovered in other chambers.
If there were only four of these undead monsters but seven tunnels, then what were the other three for?
Carefully putting Kagriss on her back and making sure that the girl was secure, Carmen walked back into the tunnels. After a while, Kagriss stirred, and although she didn’t wake up, she clasped together her hands that had previously been dangling over Carmen’s shoulder.
Carmen’s heart warmed at the movement and though she didn’t dare let go, she rubbed her cheek against Kagriss’s arm.
After a while of walking, they came to the intersection with all the tunnels. “Oh good, our marking is still there…” she muttered, staring at the magical marking spell from Kagriss as well as the scratch she had made on the floor what seemed like an eternity ago.
Picking another tunnel at random, she entered, all of her senses at maximum sensitivity and on guard for any surprises. She even managed to catch the hidden anti-living traps that Kagriss had pointed out earlier, though she ignored them this time as well.
She soon saw the tunnel open out into another cavern, and as far as she could tell, nothing was in there. She paused at the exit, surveying the contents of the room from a distance.
The cavern this time was completely different from the chamber they had been in earlier. However, some things remained the same—for example, there was an accumulator formation at the center. But almost everything else was different.
There was a crude bookshelf, a chair and a table with a built in drawer, a few cages, and some manacles. There were no scratches.
Carmen didn’t want to know what those cages and manacles might have once held…
Taking a book from the shelves and putting off the rest of the searching and investigating until later, she sat with Kagriss in the middle of the room, right on top of accumulator formation. Undead mana created by the desecration zone flowed endlessly toward them, greatly increasing their recovery speed.
With Kagriss holding her left hand tightly and her head on Carmen’s lap, Carmen could only manipulate the book with her right hand.
She froze as she saw the title and author.
“Observations on the Interactions between Holy and Undead Mana, by Abersom Jolio.”
Father Abersom…a Moltrost archpriest whose work had inspired Arvel and fueled his passion for research. However, the man had died around eleven years ago during one of his research trips when a lab of his was attacked by an unknown band of knight-class zombies.
His body, along with parts of his research, was recovered. His body was cremated and several copies of his observations were made.
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As far as Carmen knew, only three copies existed, each of them beautifully decorated: one in the Moltrost Church’s archives, one in the Grand Cathedral’s archives, and one in the bookshelves of Arvel.
Arvel’s copy was his own work, painstakingly written and rewritten to duplicate Abersom’s handwriting, like he had for Abersom’s other journals.
So if there were only two copies—counting only the ones in nearby Moltrost—why was there another copy here? It couldn’t be an official copy, since the paper and leather were low quality and hastily bound. And when Carmen flipped open the book, she saw that the words were hastily scrawled, yet still legible.
As she stared at the messy handwriting, Carmen growled. Although the existence of this copy all but guaranteed that there was a traitor in the Church aiding in this horrible project, she couldn’t be sure, until she studied the words a little more.
The Church had its own style of writing that all priests and priestesses were required to learn. It was unique and elegant. And in those letters, Carmen saw hints of those elegant letters.
“Traitor…” she hissed, almost crushing the book in her hands before she individually relaxed her fingers.
As angry as she was, the news wasn’t all bad. After all, this find was her first lead—a lead that she had been seeking. Before now, Carmen had been worried that she might have been chasing after something that didn’t exist, but with this book, she now knew that there was definitely a guilty person in the Church.
If she manages to find that person, her investigation will definitely progress by leaps and bounds. She just hoped it wasn’t Arvel, and although she didn’t think it was him, she couldn’t count out anyone.
But based on how hastily this copy was made, it probably wasn’t her old friend, since Arvel had all the time in the world to copy every word down—no need to rush.
Slowly, she began to read the book with the help of a little holy light. Although her undead vision didn’t really need the light, it was still helpful and nice to have.
The observation journal hadn’t been very long. Carmen could scarcely imagine how difficult it would have been to capture a higher undead, keep it alive, and then coerce it into casting specific magic in order to study the effects of it when paired with holy mana.
The results were as expected. Holy magic and undead mana simply canceled each other out, although the effects were more varied when it was magic against mana, or magic against magic, since now spell structures came into play.
Although the observations didn’t offer anything new, it still confirmed some of her guesses and theories, as well as disproving other assumptions. Father Abersom noted all of them down.
As time went on, the experiments became more and more elaborate. Carmen paused at the last, incomplete entry. It was only a few sentences long, and she had heard from Arvel that had Abersom managed to complete his experiment, it would have become his magnum opus and caused his name to become known by all the clergy in the Church.
Sadly, the man was killed the day after his lab was attacked by several knight-class undead. Survivors from the attack reported up to a dozen knight-classes and they completely destroyed the lab. Fortunately, some of the templars and clerics managed to save some of Abersom’s research.
Carmen traced her finger beneath the lines as she read the words out loud.
After observing many castings of the Raise Undead spell by Subject Zero Three, I have managed to mostly duplicate the spell structure of the spell. It is an extremely difficult spell to copy with many intricacies, and although I can duplicate the spell structure, I do not understand it enough to modify it, nor can I identify out the purpose behind each part of the spell structure.
Without the ability to cast the spell myself using undead mana, I cannot verify my results. Thus, I must postpone the experiments I have planned.
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While on the subject of Raise Undead, I have observed that the spell structure does not change much between when Subject Zero Three raises an animal corpse as opposed to a human corpse. Perhaps the inflexibility of the spell causes performance to degrade when used on animals rather than humans, as the spell is optimized for animating humans rather than any other kind of bei
And after that, there was no more. Carmen could imagine Abersom writing in his journal when battle suddenly broke out and he lacked the time to even finish a word, let alone a sentence.
Still, raising an undead with holy magic?
If Carmen hadn’t just fought an undead that managed to resist holy magic as well as being able to use holy magic to some extent, she would have called Abersom a fool.
As it turned out, Abersom had been right to some extent.
When she closed the book and put it down beside her, she found narrow violet eyes looking up at her from her lap, beautifully reflecting the golden light from her magic.
“Good morning, Mistress…” Kagriss said, yawning.
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