Mortimer once again found himself in a tiny hut, outside something that was probably going to kill him, going to kill him because his companions didn’t believe Acererak would have hidden instructions for fellow necromancers to follow where he had led.
The Sorceror, using the forces Arcana as she did through… instinct… not study, not history books, not religious texts, it was pure folly, who went on instinct when research, mystic study and learning were an option…?
That said… He’d fucked up, slipped up royally, well, almost. He’d given the Siren his Truename, not in full, he never gave anyone that, but he’d given her quite a bit of it, the start and end… shit… some simple spells could use that alone, without even the middle. Even Lobash had known not to do that. It was just so damn odd and confusing Acererak would have gone to such lengths to imprison, prolong the life of, and set a stupid puzzle for the release of, a random creature. One who claimed no more purpose in the tomb than his own amusement.
That… that gave Mortimer some pause.
Acererak was the greatest wizard and necromancer history had ever known, he had built a colossal empire that had ushered in an age of science and magic. It had recorded history, built vast underground railroads, brought water to the deserts. Ironically the only thing he had never been able to do was conquer the place Mortimer called home, the place the 13th Company – The Undying, some of the last of the Gnomish race, had sworn their lives to protect.
Why the Siren?
Everything else in the tomb was a test to make sure only worthy necromancers who placed a value on the secrets of cheating death, above all mortal-world monetary gain were able to make it to the secrets (That must be it, right?!).
What was the Siren then? A trap to those who were susceptible to sexual desires? It didn’t seem like that, she hadn’t tried to tempt them or stop them… It sounded like Acererak did it out of spite, as a baseless joke.
That didn’t sit well with the black-clad gnome.
“Find the False and you find the True”
That was obviously the false secret door that hid the true secret trap door, but the rhyme was getting vaguer, they had survived being put to sleep and flattened only because the Sorcerer could be relied upon for wanton destruction and getting lucky, and Mortimer had his undead force to go ahead and perish on their behalf.
He couldn’t trust the rhyme any more, not completely, couldn’t trust Acererak, and maybe he couldn’t trust this party he was with… this group of Easterners, He had seen their world, they had their own problems.
Mortimer slipped out the jar he had palmed from the Mummy room, it wasn’t hard to borrow things when your party sends you in as the expert on the room. A shriveled heart in a clay jar…
He could work with this, an insurance policy, the same was Acererak had tried to ensure life after death. It could work, the theory was solid, he had a pretty good idea how he could apply the Existential Markup needed, this would be his necromancy, the manipulation of information by arcane forces, not some nasty sacrifice or blood magic.
He stared fixedly at his previous entries, twisting the book away from the Siren as she looked over.
He could refactor that, that function wasn’t needed. If he used a dynamic_cast there instead of a reinterpret_cast, yes…. Now that, that would be quite stunning. His quill moved furiously. Then it stopped. He couldn’t get the tomb out of his head, get Acererak’s motive’s out of his head.
The pieces of the puzzle were in here, he knew it, a get-out-of-death free card that didn’t require hurting anyone else, but even as he put together the beginnings of such a spell Mortimer contemplated:
Maybe Acererak had never sought such non destructives means of cheating death…
The little death lord was awoken from his introspection by the lighting of a candle
He thought for a moment, rang a bell.
“Happy Birthday Cariegg, may the Star of the Morning always shine on you.”
he looked back to his book but felt eyes on him
“I hope that was right? I… I studied a lot of old books, what can I say…. you guys are history to me….”