Chapter 31: Quite a Feat

Name:Book of The Dead Author:RinoZ
Chapter 31: Quite a Feat

When Tyron woke he judged a little over four hours had passed by the shadows on the walls. He felt weary and filthy, yet still elated. He'd finally taken steps to advance his class after such a long time. Raising minions and getting them to fight were the only ways he could progress and doing either of those things had been incredibly difficult as an illegal. Where was he to find the remains he needed if he couldn't access graveyards or travel safely? Where would he find monsters he could have his minions fight?

The easy way would be to find an isolated village, raise a bunch of zombies and sic them on the local farm houses one by one, collecting fresh corpses along the way. Roaming around the far flung areas of the province like a demon, annihilating every settlement he came across might be the fastest way to level up for a Necromancer, but Tyron couldn’t choose this method for obvious reasons. He wasn't capable of such horrific acts for a start, and second, he hoped to one day prove he was not only productive as a defender of humanity, but a powerful one who could be forgiven his class for the service he provided.

It would be more than a little difficult to receive such a pardon if he had thousands of deaths hanging over his head.

He'd chosen the hard road, but it had paid off in the end and he stretched out his aching body with a wry grin on his face. He couldn't wait to get begin the status ritual but he forced himself to be patient. He finished stretching, ate some food and checked on the area outside the cave before he sat and calmed his mind.

Only then did he feel ready to engage the ritual and make the life altering decisions it would most likely include.

He carefully tore a fresh page from his book, cast an additional light spell to chase away the last of the shadows, then pricked the end of his thumb on the tip of his sword before he pressed the digit into the paper. As he muttered the words everyone had learned as a child he felt the sickly feeling of blood flowing from the shallow wound to form the words that would make up his new status.

When he felt the leaking cease, he carefully lifted his thumb from the page before he wrapped it in his last clean cloth.

Holy shit I'm nervous.

His hands were literally shaking as he took a slow breath, then leaned forward, eyes wide, as if trying to suck every word on the page into his retina at once.

Events:

Your attempts at Stealth have increased proficiency.

Dismembering remains has increased your proficiency. Butchery has reached level 3.

Use of the Magick Bolt spell against a living creature has increased your proficiency. Magick Bolt has reached level 4.

The study of the dead has increased your proficiency. Corpse Appraisal has reached level 2.

Your creation of new undead has increased proficiency.

Dominating the minds of those weaker has increased your proficiency. Suppress Mind has reached level 2.

Use of the Bone Stitching technique has increased your proficiency. Bone Stitching has reached level 3.

You have raised minions and they have fought on your behalf. Necromancer has reached level 5. You have received +2 Intelligence, +1 Wisdom, +1 Constitution and +1 Manipulation. At this level you may choose a class Feat.

Your dark patrons continue to watch with great interest. They urge you to continue to act, lest they grow bored and revoke their favour. The Abyss desires to hear your call.

Name: Tyron Steelarm.

Age: 18

Race: Human (Level 10)

Class:

Necromancer (Level 5).

Sub-Classes:

Anathema (Level 4).NoneNone

Racial Feats:

Level 5: Steady Hand.

Level 10: Night Owl.

Attributes:

Strength:

12

Dexterity:

11

Constitution:

25

Intelligence:

33

Wisdom:

19

Magick Battery I - Increase the natural capacity for Magick.

Skilled I - Choose two General Skills to increase the maximum level from five to ten.

Class Focus I - Choose an additional Necromancer Spell or Skill.

Efficient Minions I - Allow your minions to require less Magick to move.

Death Eater - Consume Death Magick.

Skeleton Focus I - Improve the quality of Raised Skeletons.

Zombie Focus I - Improve the quality of Raised Zombies.

Tyron let his gaze run through the options several times before he sat back, chewing on his lip. As expected there was a mix of generic, low-level choices that most base classes had access to. Skilled I led to Skilled II, the two choices allowing someone to essentially convert general skills into class skills, increasing their maximum level from five to ten. This was crucial for some classes that synergised well with certain general skills, but he didn't think it would be useful for him. What would he even choose? Butchery? It was useful to have certainly, but he didn't need it at level ten for it to serve his purposes.

Low Light Vision wasn't an uncommon choice, the utility of being able to see in dim light was immense and Tyron was sorely tempted to take it. It would work well with his Night Owl racial feat and help him avoid detection by roaming at night. Also it sometimes led to the much more rare Night Vision, which would allow him to see in even darker conditions, at which point he could possibly become nocturnal.

The only thing holding him back was that he knew for a fact there were spells which could produce the same effect, though they were difficult to master. Mages who were willing to put in the time and effort could get a similar effect to the feat, essentially for free. Tyron had very little time to spend, but he was loath to weaken himself for convenience.

Death Sense would allow him to sense nearby death magick. It took Tyron a few seconds of thinking to realise that meant he would be able to find any nearby remains, since they accumulated death magick naturally. This would make hunting for bones easier, though he wasn't certain it was necessary. How far away would he be able to sense them from? The amount of death magick in bones was miniscule, the value of this feat would greatly change based on the fidelity of the sense he gained from it.

Grave Cloak had plenty of utility in the short term, being able to hide while conducting his business at night was important, he didn't want to be found while digging around for possible minions. He was hesitant to select this option however. In the short term, it might help him stay hidden, but in the long term? Also, it did nothing for his minions, which were the key focus of the Necromancer class. Not getting caught was great, but in the future he hoped to be powerful enough that he wouldn't need to be skulking about. In the event that the need for him to be personally sneaking everywhere was gone, the feat would become a dead selection, something he could ill afford.

Death Eater was another choice that he had mixed feelings about, mainly because the Unseen never saw the need to provide details. Consuming death magick meant what, exactly? Would he be able to absorb it and convert it into his own natural magick? Wasn't he trying to insert death magick into things, not the other way around? Or perhaps removing it created less tainted undead? If he were operating in an area with abundant death magick, a graveyard or battlefield, then perhaps this would allow him to replenish his magick rapidly and cast his spells quickly.

Tyron grit his teeth.

He would literally kill someone, raise them from the dead and kill them again to get his hands on a Necromancer class guidebook! Well, perhaps not literally, but he felt his lack of knowledge keenly. Regular classes like swordsman were so well studied that Rufus could map out his build from level one to sixty without coming across a choice he hadn't read about. Only from that point on would he enter territory where knowledge was more restricted. For Tyron, he had no clue what was coming next, what the requirements for class advancement were, or even how many feats existed in a series.

Skeleton Focus I was a perfect example. It improves the quality of skeletons? How? Where they faster? Tougher? Did it effect their minds? Harden their bones? Increase their coordination? And if he were to choose Skeleton Focus I, there would obviously be a Skeleton Focus II, but was there a third? Or fourth?

He would only get four feat choices in his current class, one every five levels until he reached level twenty and chose his new class, so he couldn't afford to waste any of them. If Skeleton Focus went all the way to four, he might take all of them, only to find he moved onto a different set of more powerful minions after advancing his class. What those minions might be, he had no clue. He knew other types of undead existed, of course, but whether or not he would be able to create them, or at what stage of his advancement he would be able to create them, he simply didn't know.

Magick Battery I combined with Efficient Minions I seemed to make a tempting combination. If he used his four choices to improve both of them to the second stage, then he would most likely be able to support far more minions than he currently could. His concern was that he might be able to produce a similar efficiency gain by improving the Raise Dead spell, and his inflated intelligence meant he was packing more magick than he reasonably should at level five already.

Having more minions would always be a good thing, but Tyron felt it might be better to take quality from his feats and look for other ways to increase quantity.

At least Zombie Focus I was easy to rule out, along with Class Focus I. Right now he didn't have any tempting choices to make in his Necromancer class. That would likely change by the time he reached level twenty, but for now he could safely disregard it.

He sat back, folded his arms across his chest and began to think.

He had to consider what he knew about classes and their progression. There were almost always clear pathways that lead to differing advancement paths for every class, ways to synergistically choose abilities and feats that would lead to a logical progression. Looking at the feats, he could see certain builds becoming apparent. Grave Cloak and Low Light Vision would obviously work together hand in glove to create a stealthy Necromancer who could operate well in the dark, especially if Night Vision opened up further down the line.

The Efficient Minions and Magick Battery combo was a clear roadmap to some kind of horde setup, which would likely have its own class advancement. At least, that's was how these things usually went.

The other paths he spied was one of skeleton or zombie specialisation. Efficient minions combined with either skeleton or zombie focus would likely lead to a class advancement that focused on one of those two types of minions. Tyron was in two minds as he considered this, well, as he considered skeleton focus. It could be a mistake to specialise in a type of minion that may one day become obsolete. He knew other, more powerful undead existed, wights, spectres, spirits and mentions of other, unnamed terrors could be found in his parent's bestiaries.

But he wasn't deterred from considering the possibility, for several reasons. Firstly, he needed more powerful minions, that would always be useful to him, now and in the future. As to his skeletons becoming redundant, he wasn't sure that would ever be the case. The only historical record he had of a high level Necromancer, one strong enough to control an entire army, still fielded thousands of skeletons in their ranks. He may rely on other types of undead to do the heavy lifting in the future, but he felt confident he would always have a place for skeletons.

He also knew there was a huge amount of improvement left in his skeletons. Bone Stitching wasn't close to reaching its maximum level at ten, and he was sure there were a myriad of things he could do when preparing the remains to produce a better minion. Even his Raise Dead spell wasn't close to reaching its full potential, there were a number of areas he felt he could still improve his casting. His skeletons had a huge amount of growth potential even without this Feat, but the bonus he received from it would be in addition to, rather than replace, those gains.

Never take a Feat for something you can do yourself.

The golden rule. Many Feats were convenient, or helpful, but covered things that could be taken care of in other ways. Grave Cloak would help him hide, but he already had Sneak, and it would be possible for him to learn a spell in the future which might hide him just as well. Improving the quality of his minions though. He could and would do that himself, but the Feat would make them even better.

The more he considered it, the more he liked it. He felt it would be beneficial in the short term, but not a wasted selection in the long term.

With growing confidence, he placed his thumb next to Skeleton Focus I on the page, then ended the ritual.

He braced himself. Gaining a Feat was always an experience.

Tyron awoke with a start and picked himself up slowly.

"My damned back," he muttered as he dusted himself off and took stock of himself.

He didn't feel all that much different, a little fuzzy in the head, but that was normal for completing a status ritual in which he levelled up, he was coming to find. As soon as he felt steady he hopped toward his two active minions and studied them minutely for any change. The two skeletons stood silently as their master shifted around them, leaning close to inspect every bone, and pass his hands over them as he tried to sense the magick they contained within.

"Nothing," he groaned.

It had been expected, but he was disappointed nonetheless. Perhaps these two minions would still prove to be improved in some way, but he doubted it. The most likely scenario was that his new Feat would only apply to any minions he raised after he received it, the benefits being imbued during the creation process. Luckily, he had two sets of remains ready to go.

Sorely tempted to start working on his next two minions immediately, Tyron stuffed his hands into his armpits as he mastered himself, lest he start threading the bones before he could help himself.

"Let's go see Dove, then I can come back and get to work," he ordered himself.

With sheer force of will, he started packing his bag for the trip.

Soon, he promised the two sets of bones laid out on the cave floor. Soon.