There was a long chain of mountains called the Dilac that coiled around and through the country of Alita. Much of it held forests and lakes. Snow still covered the ground, as it was still early Spring. Summer was the only season where the snow on these mountain tops would melt.
In one particular forest, a young man in a heavy dark cloak was crouched amidst the snow. He had a mason jar in hand and a rough paint brush made from twigs in another. There was fluidity to his movements, practiced and unafraid of his surroundings.
A thick gold paint of unknown ingredients formed several concentric circles, with what seemed to be no particular focal point. Several clear stones had been placed around the circles. Any snow that fell onto the lines quickly sizzled and disappeared.
It was the young man’s first time trying a full resurrection, meant to keep the sentience of the creature being called back. Most necromancers never carried out full resurrections simply because they wanted obedient skeletons to serve as servants and soldiers. Sentience carried the risk of free will.
He pulled out a small book, made to fit in a pocket and squinted at the small text as he flipped through. The author of the book only left their initials: H.L. ‘A way to fully bring back the sentient dead, optional contract’ was the title of this page. He studied the handwritten few notes scattered around the page. ‘It took me seven years and almost my life to find that maroon sea grass’, ‘We need a modern ingredients update’, and ‘I was satisfied as I was able to prolong the suffering of my enemies’. The man skipped the more illegible comments and reread the instructions.
“The last person who died here, your grave shall be dug up by your own hands.” He continued to mutter the rest of the lines and then slapped his hand over a small circle. Behind his goggles and scarf, his eyes—including the sclera—were fully black.
The lines glowed and flashed. The stones lit up and slowly disappeared. A body reconstructed itself amidst the channeled energy.
The ritual worked . . . it was just not in a way he was expecting it to.
The body was that of a man, not a woman.
“That is a different person than the one I wanted.” He thought for a moment. It’d be too much work to put the newly undead under a contract, and trying again would take far too much time away from his plans. He would have to gather materials, and for the latter, some of the ones needed for resurrections were not native to this continent. His brief friend and pupil was simply not worth it, nor was the minor annoyance that was the newly undead.
The young man stood up and capped the jar, which held a thimbleful of the paint. “It is a shame I didn’t get the help I needed, but have fun with your new lease on life,” he said to the still unconscious man and walked off into the snowy wilderness, towards the East.
The undead groaned quietly, slowly waking up. His eyes were white, a result of having a ritual performed on him.
Happy Birthday. I can’t be in Celtie to celebrate with you, but I did include a small carving as a gift.
As for coaxing him, try feeding Oceton some meat without a lot of spices. He can’t handle spicy food at all, and do not try it again. I will be mad at you.
You did ask for some of my neighbor’s flowers, and I will buy one or two to send when he harvests them next. When I do send them, make sure to water and keep them in some sunlight.
It is good that you managed to find the kid. I just hope he learned some street smarts during his time in Pinscher. At the very least, you can trust Joseph will be a loyal scholar in a few years.
My neighbor is glad you appreciated his flowers. I told you that they won’t wilt, and you didn’t believe me.
I will not be sending you more carvings as Peter has been buying quite a lot from me. His clientele enjoy them apparently.
How are the tensions between the Empire and Nu right now?
I’ve also heard that Consort Lorelei seems to be causing trouble for the subjugated countries, restricting their power. I’m not sure if it’s true and don’t be an idiot if it is. You’ve gotten better at diplomacy and economics, but other people can still be consulted. The other subjugated countries are also possible, temporary allies against Lorelei’s faction.
To Emlyn and Millan,
I’m glad that Clementine has decided to stay neutral. Confronting her turned out well despite mine and Millan’s concerns, I must admit.
Do you know why Consort Lorelei would be trying to weaken the subjugated countries at this time? Or is she trying to create a power vacuum for herself to take over? Consult your informants and also perhaps Lembroke and Reagle.
Emlyn, you decided to stir up some more chaos in Maskiff again. Some mercenaries I know even headed over there to see if they could make some quick gold. Be a bit more careful. If you get yourself killed now, there’s no way you can even think of becoming Emperor.
Millan, it’s nice that your magic studies are going well. As for fashion, I heard how bad of an idea that color combination was all the way in the Eastern countries. You might want to consider asking your maids or Emlyn for some advice.
I will try to visit your smithy again soon.
It’s surprising to hear that Cornelia missed me. As for her friend, I think Bas might show up again soon after he deals with whatever business he has.
Your family is nice. Your father, Zachariah, taught me how to be a lumberjack and helped me build a house on the mountain. He retired partially and works as a carpenter to make various items. Your mother is happy and also works as a carpenter. Her hands are steady and she cuts wood with an amazing precision.
It has been over two years since your death.
I am still avoiding your grave.
Welcome back everyone.
The audiobook narrating chapters 1-8 of An Unwilling Prince is now released. Link to the youtube playlist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M01vkmW49lo&list=PLATg7aAgK7qsZHz2RthTlgtz6HUr6C1fT
A bonus chapter has been added to An Unwilling Prince, it is listed as Chapter 5.5: Clementine. Chapters 25 and 41 have been also updated.
What is your favorite holiday drink? I quite like eggnog and hot cocoa.