Aldrich did not respond immediately to Fler'Gan, still wary about whether he had the potential to be aggressive. He felt out the mental connection he had between master and undead familiar, and as he did so, he saw status messages appear in his vision.
[Trial Quest: The Search completed]
[Learned passive: Corpse Barrier]
[Learned passive: Death Sense]
[Learned class spell: Grave Consumption]
[Obtained: Tome of Enhancement]
[Obtained 1x Sign Stone]
[Obtained 3x Restorative Flask charges]
[EXP Bar: 370/1400 ] 870/1400]
Aldrich breathed in deeply, feeling power flow into him. Bit by bit, he was getting back to the power of his original player character. [Death Sense] allowed Aldrich to sense the presences of any units under 10% of their maximum health which was particularly useful considering that this was generally the max health range for most instant death type spells to work as executes.
[Grave Consumption] allowed Aldrich to take a Grave Marker and consume it, healing 5% of his maximum health. It could also be used on resurrected undead, destroying the undead and absorbing its negative energy to restore 10% of maximum health.
[Corpse Barrier] was particularly useful. It gave Aldrich a bonus shield that consisted of 30% of his maximum health, and the neat thing was that this barrier could regenerate very quickly by adding corpses into it.
Of course, if Aldrich used a corpse to pad his barrier, he could not raise it to become an undead.
The [Tome of Enhancement] would also grant Aldrich access to upgraded versions of his current spells. Overall, this was a massive boost in power.
"Is something amiss, O Elder?" said Fler'Gan.
Aldrich looked at Fler'Gan and the thought immediately struck him: he could get even stronger.
"Nothing," said Aldrich as he made sure he felt no hostility from Fler'Gan. "Tell me, you seemed to have been sentient. What do you remember about this place? About what happened to you in the past few decades?"
Valera perked up, highly curious for the same reason that Aldrich was: they wanted to know what exactly happened to the game universe of Elden World.
"Everything…ended for me," said Fler'Gan. "I had holed myself in my study for my pursuit to achieve eternal life. It was many years I threw myself into this search, but at one point, I do not know when, I felt as if I was in a haze. Walking in a dream from which there was no waking.
During that time, I was conscious and not conscious. I acted only in my search for immortality. But I did not feel as if I was in my own body. I simply…was."
"Like you were sleepwalking," said Aldrich. He turned to Valera. "This sounds exactly like what you went through. He also went into a sort of eternal sleep."
"Indeed, my master," said Valera.
"And you remember nothing else?" Aldrich turned back to Fler'Gan.
Fler'Gan shook his mouth tendrils. "No."
"I see," said Aldrich. "I notice you do not seem nearly as, well, committed to your search for immortality."
"You mean he's not fuckin' batsh*t insane anymore," said Dynamite Girl bluntly.
"Yes, I was trying to be polite here," said Aldrich.
"I tell you, master, whelps these days have no sense of decorum or manners," said Valera as she shook her head.
"Huh? I'm young, is that it? Doesn't that mean you're some sorta old hag?" said Dynamite Girl.
Valera immediately stood up, her armor clanking, and she strode up to Dynamite Girl and stared her down, towering over the hero.
"What was that?" said Valera.
"Just sayin' what you admitted," said Dynamite Girl.
"Gehgeh (What a pointless argument)" said the Geist.
"What did you say!?" Valera and Dynamite Girl shouted in complete union, synchronizing angry head turns to the Geist.
"Geh! (Nothing!)" The Geist raised its muscular arms in the air in surrender.
"Calm down, all of you. No point in arguing among ourselves. And you, Valera, you should be thankful for the Geist. It saved you," said Aldrich.
"I suppose," grumbled Valera. She bowed her head slightly to the Geist. "I thank you for your service, good creature." She paused awkwardly. "And I apologize for thinking of you as a foul abomination of nature."
"Geheh." The Geist rubbed its head and nodded, taking the apology gratefully.
"Hey now, ain't we all just freaks of nature at this point?" said Dynamite Girl.
"No, we are perfect beings now," said Valera. "We may not fit into the normal cycle of life and death anymore, but that is precisely why we are ascendant."
"Guess that's a good way of lookin' at this whole undead thing," said Dynamite Girl.
"She speaks truly," said Fler'Gan. "For decades, I sought undeath for it was the purest form of transcending the limits of the body. Mindless undead are little more than aberrations, but higher undead such as ourselves with our minds still intact are truly transcendent."
Fler'Gan nodded to Valera. "And as for your question, O Elder. My madness was cast upon me not only from my quest for immortality, but also from the sleep from which I fell into. That sleep kept my drive, my madness, strong.
But now that I have been freed from that sleep and also granted immortal undeath, there is nothing that clouds my judgment any longer."
"Good," said Aldrich. "If you were even just a little bit unstable, I would have kept you a mindless slave."
"To you who has granted me the gift of undeath, I serve gratefully," said Fler'Gan.
"Let's keep it that way. Now then, this-," Aldrich picked up Fler'Gan's phylacterly. "Explain this. Can this still be used?"
"Certainly. And it is yours. I have no use for it," said Fler'Gan. "If, indeed, you wish to ascend even further from risen undead into a proper lich."
"Then how does this work?" said Aldrich. "The process of becoming a lich, that is."
Aldrich had no hesitations about turning into a lich. It would massively enhance his power, and this was not an understatement. In Elden World lore, mortal Necromancers had to band up with parties of warriors and mages and priests and whatnot just to beat a single lich.
Any lich, even a lower leveled one, was a boss type monster.
A lich was simply far more attuned to death and magic than a mortal. They could control more dead, raise more dead, cast stronger curses, stronger death magic, possess higher mana pools, and so on and so forth.
Mortals could only dip their toes into the well of power that was Necromancy. Liches could dive into the dark arts full body and harness the class's power infinitely better.
All Aldrich needed was the knowledge to become one. And here was Fler'Gan who had devoted literal decades into turning into one.
"There are three major steps to completing the ritual," said Fler'Gan. "The phylactery is simply the first step. It is a construct of the rarest magic-capable ores and enchantments. Crystal of Orichalcum, dust of fairy wing, dragon tooth powder, flame demon fire-,"
"Yes, and you've assembled all of that into this." Aldrich nodded at the phylactery. "And you said it was still usable. Usable for me?"
"Certainly," said Fler'Gan.
"Then the other two steps?"
"The second is to excise any mortal chains you have," said Fler'Gan.
"Mortal chains? Fuck is that? Stop speaking in goddamn riddles," said Dynamite Girl.
"Must I tone down my diction to match the understanding of an addlepated simpleton such as this?" Fler'Gan waved his lengthy purple fingers dismissively at Dynamite Girl.
"Huh!?" Dynamite Girl started to get aggressive, and Aldrich raised a hand.
"Stop. I will be the only one to talk to Fler'Gan. You keep quiet," said Aldrich as he leered at Dynamite Girl.
"Got it, captain," said Dynamite Girl.
"Now then, mortal chains. What does this entail?" said Aldrich.
"Personal bonds. Emotional attachments. These things bind your soul to the physical plane. It makes it difficult to sever your soul from your mortal shell and place it within the phylactery," said Fler'Gan.
"I see," said Aldrich. This step, he was good on. As far as he knew, he had no emotional attachments anymore. His parents were dead, and Adam and Elaine were only zombies now, their souls forever gone. "Then the third step?"
"To obtain an Obelisk from the Death Lord," said Fler'Gan, his voice deathly serious.
"I see. I know about this one. You challenge the Death Lord and take a shard of his power from him. And this shard is called the Obelisk."
"And let me guess, you stopped at this stage," said Aldrich. "You have a completed phylactery and you could move your soul into it, meaning you had no strong personal attachments to anyone.
And yet, you aren't a lich yet. This means you couldn't challenge the Death Lord."
"No. I tried, but the trial she forced upon me was far too difficult to overcome," said Fler'Gan. "I barely escaped with my free will, and all these years, I studied for a means to overcome the Death Lord's trial with new power to no avail."
"And what was the nature of this trial?" said Aldrich.
"THAT, YOU WILL FIND OUT."
Aldrich widened his eyes as he heard a deep, rumbling voice emanate from the phylactery in his hand. The phylactery glowed brightly, and smoke started to ripple from Aldrich's hand as the orb burned him.
"Master, drop that accursed object!" Valera trudged forwards, but a shockwave blasted out from the phylactery that knocked everyone except Aldrich backwards.
"THIS 'TRIAL QUEST'…YOU CALL THIS A TRIAL? PATHETIC. YOU HAVE OVERCOME IT SO VERY EASILY.
I CAN SENSE YOUR DESIRE.
YOU ARE SO EASILY WILLING TO CAST AWAY YOUR HUMANITY TO BECOME A LICH.
BUT DO YOU THINK THIS MAKES YOU SPECIAL? UNIQUE?
YOU ARE JUST ONE OF MANY, MANY MORTALS WHO WERE DESPERATE ENOUGH TO CAST AWAY THEIR HUMANITY.
HUMANITY MEANS NOTHING. IT IS WORTHLESS.
NO, I WILL JUDGE YOUR WORTH MYSELF.
WITH A TRIAL OF MY OWN."