Aldrich distributed his 5 new stat points as he sped his way through the forest, weaving through trees and thin gaps with expert agility. He was not as fast as any Alter with powers that boosted their physicals, let alone ones that specialized them for speed, but he was fast enough that he could run circles around Alters with no such powers provided their AC count was not extremely high.
As Aldrich reconvened with Valera, he distributed his 5 new stat points.
[+2 Attunement, doubled to +4 from stat affinities]
[+3 Magic, doubled to +6 from stat affinities]
[Attunement: 41 ] 45]
[+1 Attunement point available]
[Magic: 21 (28) ] 27 (34)]
[Mana: 20/66 (84) ] 32/72 (90)]
After this, Aldrich commanded one of his Evil Eyes to scout out the area around the Sign. He wanted to see to what extent the investigation for Ghost's death had progressed. It was currently early in the dark hours of dawn on Tuesday, and Blackwater would have started searching around Monday afternoon after giving Ghost the benefit of the doubt that he was just partying in Haven until Sunday.
Only a day had passed. It was likely that any search for Ghost had not yet gone beyond the boundaries of Blackwater campus. The search outside campus would probably start at first light today, meaning Aldrich did not have too much time.
Aldrich reached Valera's hunting spot and found a large pile of blasted tunnel centipede corpses blackened and smoking beside a series of holes dug into the dirt. Valera sat on top of it, humming to herself while swinging her legs to her tune.
The Geist and Dynamite Girl stood down below, eyeing each other warily.
"Y'know, I don't know what it is, but I don't like you. Don't like how ugly you are or why you disgust me so damn much," said Dynamite Girl.
"Geh." The Geist shrugged and turned around.
"Huh!? You wanna repeat what you said in front of my face!?" Dynamite Girl started fuming, evidently very easily prone to anger.
Interesting, noted Aldrich. From Dynamite Girl and Fisk, the techno, he realized that giving individuality to undead with souls retained personality traits from their past lives, though they had no memories of them.
Each tunnel centipede was sizable, almost as large as a bear. Easily big enough to wrestle a man, wrap around him, and devour him.
"Quiet, you two, master is back," said Valera. She jumped off the pile of centipedes and landed on a knee, elegantly bowing as a knight would to her lord.
"Geheh." The Geist waved a hello to Aldrich.
"Welcome back, captain," said Dynamite Girl with arms crossed.
Aldrich nodded at them. For now, he did not turn off their individuality. Leaving them with some had been incredibly useful as they could make their own decisions and fight far more efficiently, especially since Dynamite Girl had training in working with groups.
Plus, Aldrich somewhat appreciated the extra noise and conversation.
Valera gestured to the side with her gauntlet, pointing at a much, much larger centipede.
From the crimson red carapace on it, Aldrich recognized this as a Red Carapace Great Centipede. Likely the leader of this swarm of centipede Variants. It was six meters long and wide enough that it could plow through an ordinary man and snap him in half in two with its golden, bladed mandibles.
A massive dent in its head and several patches of raw, broken off and burnt carapace indicated that it had died to a mixture of severe blunt force trauma and explosions like the rest of its kin.
"That was one real tough bastard," said Dynamite Girl. She spat at the corpse before raising her arm up, showing a huge cut in her side that exposed her internal organs and shattered off ribs. "Fucker got me real good, too. Blew it off the face of this goddamn earth in payback, though."
"Gehgeh," said the Geist.
Dynamite Girl sighed. "I know I didn't literally blow it off this planet. Christ, do you not understand what a figure of speech is?"
"Geh?" the Geist shrugged again.
Aldrich stepped over to the Great Centipede and put a hand over its shattered head. "Serve."
[Mana: 32/90 ] 27/90]
The Great Centipede reanimated, its many sharp, blade-like legs skittering before it flopped around back on its feet.
"Gross," said Dynamite Girl.
[+1 Zombie (Red Carapace Great Centipede) Lvl 11 reanimated]
[Units controlled: 10/13 ] 11/13]
"And the eagle and bear I asked you to save?" said Aldrich.
"You, present the master with the prey he requested," said Valera as she pointed at the Geist.
"Geh." The Geist opened its large mouth wide and its stomach expanded before caving in with strong flexion. It made a vomiting sound as it spat out the corpses of the Big-arm Grizzly and Alloy-wing Eagle. They were drenched in spit that preserved them well - likely the same way that Dynamite Girl had been preserved alive inside of the Geist's stomach.
"Even more gross," said Dynamite Girl as she shook her head at the Geist.
"Good," said Aldrich. He went over to the bear and eagle and chanted again, "Serve."
The grizzly reanimated, and then after the cooldown for [Raise Undead] passed, he casted it again, raising the eagle.
[Mana: 27/90 ] 17/90]
[Zombie (Big-arm Grizzly) Lvl 8 Reanimated]
[Zombie (Alloy-wing Eagle) Lvl 7 Reanimated]
[Units Controlled: 11/13 ] 13/13]
Aldrich looked up as the zombie Big-arm Grizzly stared down at him. It was massive, as large as the Geist was, though of course, considerably weaker. Its main power lied in its overly sized arms that dragged on the ground. These blows could store kinetic energy and unload them in explosive bursts that could even out-damage the Geist in short bursts.
The Alloy-wing Eagle was an oversized eagle sizable enough for Aldrich to comfortably ride on. Its wings were metallic in texture and color, possessing a shining grey sheen and yet still being pliable enough flap and maneuver the creature through the air.
Aldrich had the eagle fly up in a test run, and it managed to lift him off the air quite easily. It could even seat Valera, too, he guessed, but anymore than that would make flight for it uncomfortable.
"Superb!" Valera clapped her hands together. "My master takes to the skies once more. It is no Frost Dragon, but it will do for now. I hope there are dragons in this world - seeing you ride upon that majestic mount did awe me so."
Aldrich remembered his old mount from Elden World. His level 100 character rode a Frost Dragon, the strongest undead mount there was.
"There doesn't have to be," said Aldrich. "Remember our Trial Quests? There are dragons in the later ones. Which is actually why I needed to meet back up with you.
It's time to clear our first Trial Quest."
Valera squealed in delight before she regained her composure, putting down the visor of her helmet and grasping her bone shield firmly. "Then onwards to battle we shall go!"
Aldrich took all of his undead, including Fisk, with him to his Sign. The Evileye had scouted the area and a significant perimeter around it and had no found anything noteworthy. The Sign was free to use for now. He commanded the Evileye to move out to Blackwater and scout the campus directly.
Around the Sign, Aldrich looked around at his ever-growing and incredibly varied undead army. He pulled up a list of them.
Chosen Undead: Valera of the Immortal Legion Lvl 15
Zombie (Adam) Lvl 3
Zombie (Elaine) Lvl 3
Zombie (Alpha Striker) Lvl 7
Zombie (Big-arm Grizzly) Lvl 9
Zombie (Alloy-wing Eagle) Lvl 8
Zombie (Red Carapace Great Centipede) Lvl 11
Evil Eye Lvl 7
Evil Eye Lvl 8
Skeleton Rogue Lvl 7
Skeleton Archer Lvl 7
Undead Geist Lvl 17
Undead Dynamite Girl Lvl 12
Undead Fisk Lvl 3
Aldrich waved his hand forwards, bringing the skeleton archer kneeling before him.
"You've done well for me. But now, it's time to rest." Aldrich released control over the archer, dismantling it into piles of bones that then crumbled away into dust.
"[Create Undead]" said Aldrich. Before accessing the Trial Quest, he wanted to be as strong as possible. He intended on resummoning undead that matched his current level at 10.
It was not possible to cast spells in the Nexus, so he needed to create them now.
However, he only had 17 mana, and Create Undead cost 10 mana. He did not intend on wasting mana creating undead once he got into the Trial Quest if he could.
Aldrich knew exactly everything that happened in the Trial Quests because he had played through them all. He knew every single secret pathway and hidden piece of loot there was. As a result, he knew what units he needed to use as well.
Because of this, Aldrich summoned a Ghast for it had incredible utility in the First Trial.
A cloud of smoky darkness sputtered in front of Aldrich, swirling around a single, stony grey orb, The orb cracked and chipped, sloughing off chunks of rock until it sculped itself into a floating skull of rock. Dark smoke flickered around it as it hovered in the air, emanating an aura of strangely cold smoke.
[1x Ghast Lvl 10 created]
The Ghast could not attack. What it was actually useful for was its ability to generate an aura of smoke around it that obscured undead within it. Obscuration was different from invisibility in that anyone that came close enough to the smoke could see the undead within it, but outside a certain range, the obscuration functioned like invisibility.
It also had an active spell known as the [Spirit Boundary]. It would root itself in place and its smoke would form into a forcefield that significantly enhanced resistances to elemental attacks from the outside while inside, undead gained both a [Stone Flesh] passive that made them extra resistant to physical force.
"Huh?" Fisk tapped his visor as its red glow sputtered and turned off, leaving the it just a dull piece of red tinted glass. He looked down at his eye-phone where he had been playing a game and saw it start to drop its framerate horribly. "What's going on!? I was close to breakin' my damn record!"
"You dare to amuse yourself like this in the presence of the master!?" Valera clenched her fist but Aldrich raised a hand, preventing her from dashing over to Fisk and bashing his head in.
"Wait," said Aldrich. He looked up at the Ghast floating above him and sent it closer to Fisk. The closer the Ghast went, the more Fisk's phone malfunctioned until it eventually just turned off.
"I see," said Aldrich. In the lore, Ghasts were known to be restless spirits that appeared when tombstones and grave markers were destroyed or stolen. They became like spiritual tombstones that provided a boundary of solace for undead that had their graves desecrated.
Thus, it obscured undead within its boundary from the outside, granting the undead the privacy they deserved in their afterlives.
Evidently, this also meant disrupting any technology that had camera capabilities or likely any form of recording whether auditory or visual.
Aldrich had not used the Ghast beforehand because it was so squishy. Only at level 10 did it gain decent durability in the form of a passive known as [Sturdy] that allowed it to survive a single fatal blow. But this new, unforeseen ability, an ability that was only known in the lore and had zero gameplay implications, was useful beyond measure here.
In the modern world where almost every corner of civilization had some form of surveillance.
Aldrich noted this down for later. Anytime he would make an attack in a city, he would always bring a Ghast with him.
For now, there was the Trial Quest to worry about. He put a hand over the Sign and the light from it burst outwards, enveloping Aldrich and his undead.