The world slowly becomes clear to Das, his eyes opening up little by little, and the first thing he sees is a few scrolls and the door of his bedroom to his right.
He lifts his weary body from the desk and realizes he had fallen asleep at some point in last night's lessons. Quickly he cleans up his drooling mouth with the sleeve of his tunic.
"What time is it?" He murmurs as a pocket watch manifests on his hand, 9 Am.
The chair drags on the wooden floor as he stands up and walks up to his bed.
"Hey there!" Drachen shouts as she sits on the bed and stretches her small body before taking flight directly to Das's neck, making the young archmage wince a little due to the familiar sting of her tiny but sharp teeth sinking on his flesh "Did you rested well?" She as before returning her mouth to her meal, the second time painless to Das as always.
"My back is sore, but I did get a grasp of how this, Necromancy, works" He climbs up to the bed and sits crosslegged facing the hole on his wall, the bustling city below as lively as ever "It's like painting; You are the pencil and you take paint on you to use on something else. The colors come from different places and are made out of different things, but they are always just colors, while you use them on the vellum to make something new"
"Said that way it's far more appealing than, I take the life out of things to use my magic" Drachen leaves Das's neck and stands on the window.
"You seem particularly opposed to it, knowing you, I thought you would be at least interest in something you have never heard of before"
"I never said I wasn't intrigued, but it's precisely that the reason I don't really trust this magic to be any good" She turns to Das, folding her arms on her chest "I have lived for thousands of years and for something that sounds so simple to never have been attempted before, it doesn't make any sense" She looks at her feet as she kicks an imaginary rock "It makes me uneasy. If necromancy was as simple as she says, don't you think one of the many gatherings of mages of old would've discovered it first?"
"Gatherings?" Asks Das focusing his eyes on the small fairy.
"Oh yeah, I forgot they got rid of most records. For millennia there have been circles of mages that spent their whole lives researching and refining the arts, Gatherings for short. Just think about it" Drachen slowly levitates to be eye to eye with Das "Some existed for centuries before disbanding, dozens or hundreds of mages day and night researching and experimenting, yet none ever discovered or made necromancy?"
Das takes his hand to his chin, taking her words in and thinking about the truth in them. While not impossible, it was extremely unlikely that if such groups existed, none discovered necromancy before Ann.
"Do you think she is lying to us?"He asks locking eyes with the fairy.
"Yes" She replied without a doubt "I don't think she is bad, I would've had felt it, but I think she is not telling us the whole story"
"I'm sure we will discover more of her with time, for now-"He gets out of bed and calls the staff to him " We need her to deal with the phantom, so I plan to take her with me to the dungeon today. I'm sure she can tell us more about the scorched knight"
"Ugh" She grimaces and flies back to her comfy nest "Did you asked her to bath with soap?"
"I don't think her, stench, is actually body odor Drachen"
"I know, I guess necromancy has a horrendous smell to us fairies" She grunts and goes on to enjoy her meal.
The door of the tower opens and Das steps on the bridge, Ann sits with her back on the stone, reading one of the many books from Das's connection. She now has a dark blue cloak, also from Das.
"Morning" She says waving her hand at the young archmage without looking away from her book.
"You really don't mind staying here all night?" Das asks closing the door and walking up to her.
"Not really, I'm dead so I don't feel tired or need to sleep" She closes the book and stands up to face him, the wind blowing her hair to her face forcing her to move it away with her hand "You depend too much on mana to pull through a night of study, but considering all the workout you had yesterday, I choose to let you rest" She flashes him one of her almost always present tender smile.
"And I thank you for that" He replies, bowing his head slightly as he begins walking to the other end of the bridge, Ann following him to his side "I suppose you also don't need to eat"
"You are correct. No sleep, no food, no exhaustion" They enter the palace and she looks around, letting out a sigh when she sees no one "I thought pretending to be crazy would be fun, but now I just think it's bothersome. Can't we say you just, cured me or something?" She asks while the two of them walk deeper into the palace.
"If I did that the general would order me I dispose of you, and would ask me how I cured you. He is unlikely to not seek more ways for me to be useful to the crown"
"Can't you just say it was magic? I recall there are several spells to control and twist the minds"
"No" The harshes and bitterness of the word taking Ann by surprise, Das realizes this and coughs, speaking in his more usual calm tone "My father, what we told you about him, what he did. Drachen is against ever teaching me how to do spells like that, not that I have any interest in it myself"
Ann lets out an "Oh" and then both fall into awkward silence. Feeling guilty, Das scrambles for a topic to talk about before they find the firsts guards on the corridors.
"Wait, back when we meet at the village you told me how you woke up one morning, I suppose you lied?"
"Well, it was less suspicious than, I stayed up all night working on a new dress" She follows it with a sarcastic "Hmm?" as she raises her eyebrow to Das.
"It's not that hard to believe" He replies.
"Still, I didn't want to take risks"
The sound of their footsteps soon was joined by the metallic clack of the guards walking on the corridors, Ann made sure her hood covered as much of her face as possible and messed up her hair quickly. Then, she got closer to Das, poking her right hand out of her cloak that she used to hide as much of her body as possible, and grabbed Das's, following him like a lost child.
Soon a pair of guards appear from a corner and walk past Das and Ann, once they are far enough, Das leans closer to her to whisper.
"We will keep talking when we reach the dungeon" Noticing Ann squinting her eyes at him he elaborates "I have something I want to show you, is about the phantom"
Ann relaxes and nods. Both walk through the palace and pass many guards in silence.
The main gates are opened for them and they walk into the palace grounds, only for Das to stop when his eyes fall on the eager princess who seems to be waiting excitedly at the main gates, her white vultures surrounding her in a group of five in a circle.
"Das!" She calls out to the archmage, waving with her hand and motioning to come closer. She looks at Ann curiously.
"You look more energetic than usual, my princess" Das bows to her, and once his body raises he is amused at her annoyed expression.
"Don't call me princess!" She shouts kicking lightly Das's foot "And who is she?" She asks trying to peek under Ann's hood, who only tries to hide her face better,
"Fine, Lioth, and she is Ann. I rescued her and she is under my care while I solve some things for the crown " He says gently moving Ann so she stands behind him "Why are you so excited this morning?"
"Uncles Freund is coming to the palace! I overheard the guards talk about it this morning!" Her joy turns to annoyance once again as she pouts, stomping the ground with her right foot "Just because I'm young no one tells me anything!"
Das is about to say something when the gates begin to open, making everyone near to look at the carriage making its way into the palace grounds for a few meters only for the servant to be forced to halt, the princess blocking his path.
"Uncle!" Lioth shouts as she rushes to the side of the decorated wooden carriage.
The door opens and Freund steps out to greet the jubilant princess.
"Princess Lioth!" He embraces her and lifts her off the ground in a tight hug.
Dressed not for war but in clothes befitting of his status in the kingdom, a white doublet with his chest partially exposed, likely due to his size and not personal preference, dark leather pants and white tall boots, on his shoulders a large and luxurious black coat. Hanging from his neck laid a large ruby in a silver chain.
"Lightbringer bless my eyes! just look how much have you grown! You are already a lady, Lioth" Freund lets the princess down and does a proper bow that Lioth dutifully returns with a curtsy of her own, a tiny smile on her slightly blushing face.
"Thank you, uncle Freund"
"I prefer to be called Fred" He messes up her hair with his large hand making the princess giggle.
"Freund sounds better" She says holding his hand.
He then looks up at Das, his smile growing wider making some wrinkles on his eyes appear. He approaches the young archmage with the teen princess holding his hand but stops close to him when he notices the curious-looking person behind him.
"She is from..." Das looks for a moment at the princess before returning his eyes to Freund "...from the village"
"Oh" Freund looks at the shivering woman with a mixture of pity and sadness but nods at Das "I see, how are you feeling Das? You left too soon so I couldn't ask you that day" He places a heavy but comforting hand on Das's shoulder.
"I'm doing fine, It was a while ago anyway so it doesn't bother me as much as it did before"
"I'm gonna be around for a while, so if you wanna talk about it or just chat for a bit, let me know" The giant man then messes up Das's hair.
"What do you think you are doing to my bed?!" Drachen shoots out of Das's hood and pulls one side of Freund's mustache, grinning mischievously.
"Drachen!" Lioth shouts excitedly looking at the fairy with stars in her eyes.
"Hey there, little pest" The smiling fairy releases Freund's mustache and looks at the princess with a big smile, she then looks at the white guards staring at her and she gets frightened, hiding inside Freund's open doublet.
The princess looks at her guards and frowns "I forgot you hate them"
"Sorry kid, they bring back bad memories" Drachen whispers before hiding completely inside Freund's clothes.
"Hey, shouldn't you return to Das?" He asks looking down at his chest.
"He has to spend some private time with Ann, the crazy lady, on the dungeons. So I wanna stick with you for a while, there is something I hoped we could talk about" Drachen says loud enough for everyone to listen.
"The dungeons?" Lioth looks at Das suspiciously, who throws "Help me" eyes at Freund in return.
"H-Ho, princess!" Freund takes a step forward to stand in between her and Das "It's been so long since I last saw you, why don't we sit inside your favorite garden and you let me tell you all about the amazing this I've seen in Grunland?"
"Sure! Let's go, uncle!" The princess immediately begins pulling Freud with her to the palace.
Das and Freund share an understanding look.
"Boy!" He shouts looking at the carriage.
Nett then jumps out of it, dressed similarly to Freund but with finer, more delicate-looking clothes. A short green cloack on his shoulders that didn't reach lower than his waist.
"I'm coming, Captain!" He shouts rushing to Freund's right side, looking at Das while he passes near him as if he was a creature of legend.
"Nett!" The princess leans and smiles at the young squire.
"P-P-Princess!" Nett blushes and bows deeply at her twice.
"I leave you with her because I don't feel any dangerous intent coming from her...but just in case, be careful, I will go to the dungeon once I speak with Freund" Drachen's voice is inside Das's head.
"I will, don't worry about it" He replies just before the four of them step inside the palace, his connection with Drachen cutting.
The carriage turns around and leaves, Das resumes his path to the dungeon, the main gates and entrance to the palace both close at the same time.
I ended up not writing for a few days, but I will make up for it shortly.
Let me know what you think of the story so far!