Aldrich watched as twin strands of green and red energy flowed out from his hand as both his health and mana drained in raising Crab.
Evidently, Crab, unlike Merman, counted as a 'boss' type unit that needed Aldrich to channel his [Raise Undead].
However, Aldrich did not have to spend nearly as much health and mana to raise Crab as he did with Seismic.
By the end of it, he was down to half of his health and nearly emptied of his mana. He was in desperate need of a resource recharge, but he did not want to use charges of his [Restorative Flask] just yet. Not when he had so many graves around him to replenish himself.
Crab's corpse shook as it began to move again.
Aldrich, Valera, and Seismic all jumped down from Crab's book as the huge variant rose again, a green glow flashing through its eye stalks.
[Inner Circle: 44/49 ] 45/49]
"Raising the dead. An interesting power," said Seismic as he crossed his arms and stared at Crab's reanimated, green shrouded body. "I fought a villain that could do that in Africa. Nzambi. An A-lister. Took out her army. But she could resurrect from any one of her zombies, no matter where it was.
Hard to kill like a cockroach."
"I knew of her," said Aldrich. Nzambi was the leader of a massive group of Nomads in Africa who had created a modern-day raiding army, going from city to city to take resources from with her Nomads and, when they died, their zombie forms.
She was a worldwide wanted terrorist and in her fifth year of abusing her powers, she received an Elimination Order from the AA, a designation granted to Alters who threatened the stability of society and were thus to have their lives deemed worth no more than a variant, stripping them of all access to banks, city access, and no consequences for anyone that killed or neutralized them.
Eventually, Nzambi was taken out by Solomon Solar with the aid of Psiforce, one of the strongest Psychic type Psionic Alters in the world, to freeze her mind inside her current body so that she could not infinitely revive herself.
Nzambi was one of the most notable Alters that could 'raise the dead', but she was not unique.
Powers that affected corpses were not unknown. They were just taboo among the AA and its heroes because very few heroes overcame the bad PR that using corpses or zombies generated.
As a result, most Alters that could do anything resembling necromancy usually became mercenaries or villains.
"But my powers operate quite differently from hers," continued Aldrich. "If you want to use her power as a benchmark to figure out what I can do, I'll tell you right now that it's pointless."
"I figured," said Seismic. "All I want you to tell me is this: do I have control over myself? My own free will?"
"Depends on how cooperative you are," said Aldrich flatly.
"Hm. So that's how it is." Seismic's expression did not change. It remained the same serious face as always.
"Consider it the price for coming back from the dead. Nothing is free in this world, after all," said Aldrich.
"A fair price to pay," said Seismic simply.
"I'm glad you understand," said Aldrich genuinely. He truly appreciated how quick Seismic was to accept and understand the way things were. It showed how quickly he could adapt to new situations.
Aldrich turned to Valera. "Valera, use your shield again. Protect me while I recharge. And Seismic, you can wait here until the Locus comes. I'll regroup with you soon, and together, we can take out the Locus if it hasn't moved yet."
"Gladly," said Seismic.
"Understood, master!" Valera manifested her cross shield of metal and bone and stood by Aldrich's side.
Aldrich then leaped into the air with Valera mimicking his movements. Together, they landed in a thick trove of slaughtered fishmen and crabmen. Above their corpses, countless grave markers floated.
Aldrich raised his hand and chanted, "[Mass Grave Consumption]".
With that, over fifty graves floated into Aldrich, replenishing his mana from nearly empty to completely full in a single instant. A blue aura flickered around him, signifying the restoration.
Yes, thought Aldrich with a satisfactory nod.
This was how Legion Necromancers should have been.
A master of the dark arts who thrived in the chaos of the battlefield where all others choked under the bodies and death.
Aldrich looked down at his pale hands, seeing the bony fingers of his true form flash underneath. Were he not a Lich either, he would not nearly have been this strong either.
Because his game character necromancer was fundamentally a game character. It was limited by game balancing such as the fact that it could not only have around 100 undead at max with the most optimized equipment and at level 100.
As a Lich, even barely past level 40, Aldrich far surpassed that level of unit control. This was the power of a racial transformation that he could never have obtained in the game. One that would have been game breaking in its sheer power.
As a Lich, unbound by the limits of the game, Aldrich truly was a nigh unstoppable force in a large scale fight like this.
Though, of course, he had to consider his weaknesses still.
A mass [Grave Consumption] like this had a much longer cooldown at a whopping thirty seconds, and he could choose either to restore his health or his mana, not both. Strong individual enemies could abuse this cooldown period to target him down, and eventually, if he was forced to keep using his mana to defend himself, his [Grave Consumption] would not keep him alive.
But that was why Valera was here. She covered all his weaknesses. She complemented his playstyle perfectly.
"I enjoyed the thrill of letting loose and ripping apart our enemies," said Valera as she looked at the armor around her arms and body like she was looking at a new dress. "This armor, especially, it suits me so very much."
Valera drew close to Aldrich, almost seductively drawing the touch of her hand across his shoulders. Most likely, this gesture was just instinctive for vampires were seductive by nature. At the same time, it made Aldrich smile, because he knew in lore that vampires showed seductive tendencies to those they wished to seduce to hunt or those they fully trusted.
"But what I missed even more was being by your side with my shield raised to defend you, my master."
"There's nobody else I would trust to defend me like this, let alone someone as capable as you," said Aldrich. He scanned around for more graves. Thousands more littered the battlefield all around him. When the cooldown for his [Grave Consumption] reset, he would restore himself to full health.
"Your praise is too much for a humble guardian like myself," said Valera as he lowered her head, though she noticeably trembled in happiness. "I-,"
Valera paused, and for a single instant, Aldrich felt like the world had slowed down. His enhanced Perception was screaming at him that he was in danger.
This was a sensation that Aldrich had never felt before since he had become an undead, when he had managed his forces and himself carefully so that he was never in risk.
Every fiber of his being told him that his eternal end would come if he did not react. However, he was too slow to react to the threat physically. His reflexes and instincts told him something was coming, but even with his supernatural strength, he could not react in time.
'Valera!' Aldrich immediately commanded Valera mentally, faster than how much his body could move.
Valera, much stronger and faster than Aldrich, immediately dashed behind Aldrich with her shield raised up. She had sensed the threat before Aldrich had due to her higher physicals and perception, and she knew exactly where it came from.