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Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster]

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#1Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:22 am

Odin
As Odin fell to the ground, completely out of mana, out of breath, unable to stand, he wondered how his life had gotten to this stage. How had it occurred that this, a dark cave in the middle of Bosco, would be the place where he truly gets destroyed, his greatest enemy standing over him, laughing maniacally as only one of his kind could. The Lich wouldn’t have been concerned if he hadn’t broken out of jail recently. His escape from Fiorian prison had fractured his phylactery: the item of prominence that held the soul of the wizard lord. Usually, it was in completely perfect condition, but not now. The past few weeks had caused it to under great stress, and it would take months before it was truly healed to its original strength. That meant that Odin, usually a creature unafraid of death, was more mortal now than ever. He could be destroyed almost easily due to his naturally low constitution. His biggest safeguards were Greed magic and Yata no Kagami: one designed to defend against physical damage while the other saved him from magical. Together, they made him unstoppable, invincible even. But he was out of mana, his shield was broken.

#2Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:22 am

Odin
~Two weeks prior~
Odin had slept the night almost as he would if he were still alive. That was strange enough, as he no longer required any form of sleep to keep himself going, but something had occurred that was stranger still, and it was currently the reason that he was studying many different books to figure out a possible answer: he had had a dream. Well, it was probably more likely to call it a nightmare than a standard dream or perhaps even a premonition of things to come. He couldn’t make heads nor tails of it, simply because it wasn’t something that happened to him. He rarely slept, and whenever he did it had always been short burst naps to give himself the feeling of restfulness. It changed absolutely nothing about his physical health, which in itself was non-existent, but it aided in the Lich’s motivation levels, as he could placebo himself into feeling refreshed and that would push him to work harder. This morning however, as he saw the first beams of sunlight pierce through the night sky and wriggle their beautiful way into the wooden cottage house he had come to call home while working in Stella.

#3Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:22 am

Odin
This morning he was wide awake and working at his peak efficiency, needing to understand where his dream, premonition, whatever it was, where it had stemmed from and what it could mean for him. Was he becoming more human, somehow reverting to past habits after all this time spent as an undead, or was someone interfering with his mind somehow? He needed to know if it was the latter because, if it was, then he needed to find out who it was. Once he found the person responsible, if there even was such a person, they would be met with a terrible end. The issue was that Odin was already feeling more uneasy than he usually did. His previous mission, one that he had successfully accomplished for Hildegard, had involved seeking out a source of death magic that was polluting the nearby forest area. While the mission, despite a slight interruption from some poachers and a family of velociraptors, had been completed with ease and a good deal of urgency from the Lich, it had left him with more questions than answers. Someone was somehow copying his former magical abilities: necromancy, black plague, and even a form of his poison magic.

#4Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:23 am

Odin
Odin prided himself on who he was, he enjoyed the power he had been granted since becoming a Lich. It was the first time he had received power that hadn’t come from a demon prince. And, while it was true SHE had saved him from his own destruction, SHE had not provided Odin with any direct new powers, merely a new purpose for his undead life. All the power he had accumulated, from the Staff of Morrigan; the Copy Eye of an almost unpronounceable, probably elven mage’s name; a shield that was apparently the pride of Joyan culture; and even the necklace and ring he wore: one which increased the potency of his natural Lich abilities while the other granted him the ability to shapeshift and escape should the need ever arise. All of these items of power had been found and accessed by Odin himself. His magic, the only one of its kind and unparalleled in its defensive strength, was another ability to add to his ever-expanding list. His power was all his own, something he had worked his literal life away for and something he prided himself on controlling. For someone to take that away from him, Odin was angry.

#5Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:23 am

Odin
The books he was currently spending him time peering over didn’t provide the clarity he was looking for, so the emissary from Hildegard’s arrival was more relieving than Odin would ever give him credit for. Each book focussed on dreams and sleep, but any literature which mentioned Liches spoke of them as if they were a myth, something non-existent that was only ever used as a hypothetical to prove one theory or the next. It seemed as though people just didn’t believe in him and, if he ever were to exist, the Wizard Lord would never sleep for as long as he were to exist which, at the moment, was seeming to be eternity. After all, he couldn’t die from natural causes and, so long as he protected his phylactery, he would keep himself alive forevermore. The world would burn before Odin turned to ash, and he would bring HER back from the prison which kept HER away from him. That was his only true goal, to prepare the world for that day, and work towards it with every fibre of his being. The world was not ready yet for HER arrival, Odin had to ensure it would be one day.

#6Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:23 am

Odin
And that started with Hildegard. It started with preparing the world for some more chaos that it currently possessed. Bosco would be first, and Stella would follow, but after that it would follow for Fiore. The chaos would spread, with more and more people accepting its doctrine until it was an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. So the emissary’s arrival was both a relief for Odin, who seriously needed a break from the books he was spending all his time looking over, and necessary for him to enact his master plan. Any mission from Hildegard was one that instantly took the Lich’s interest and time, as he needed her to win this battle for the throne. Not that it was entirely a battle of strength, as if it were likely Wilhelm the brother would have already succeeded. It was a battle for the people currently, with both Hildegard and Cassia taking clear advantages against the only remaining heir: Reiner. All that remained was whether the human supremacist or the all races equally heir won out in the end. While Odin knew Alisa believed in what she said about Cassia, it was just too hard to instantly believe. Humans looked out for humans.

#7Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:23 am

Odin
At least, that had been his experience, both as a human himself and as a Lich. As much as they could show love to demi humans, elves and even the rarer dwarves, humans often drew the line there. They would not allow themselves to ally with what they lovingly called ‘dark races’. Those of werewolf, vampire, daemon and lich. For whatever reason, it had been decided by most if not all humans that these were the enemies no matter what. Liches always had to be evil, vampires would hunt you down for your blood, werewolves would rip you apart and daemons could never be redeemed, no matter how powerfully the spirit of the person, or how much they strived for goodness. Some people were beyond redemption, Odin was a good example of such a person. He was evil through and through, but extending that generalisation to every single member of the Lich race was naïve and cruel, and often the reason for many problems in the world today. Cassia may have been kind to elves and demi humans, and push for the same kindness for all humans, but that line would eventually stop before it reached every race. If she didn’t end it, her people would.

#8Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:23 am

Odin
Hildegard needed to win, and so Odin was happy to lend an ear to the emissary and lend a hand to her cause. Today’s mission was different to his previous ones, for the most part that it was not just one single mission. Odin was being sent to an area of Stella that even Hildegard’s people hadn’t fully scouted. The area was likely home to new kinds of flora and fauna, as well as demi humans and elves who had lived more reclusively than any others. He was to seek them out and aid them in any problems they had, bearing the full authority of Hildegard’s crest as he did so. Once they were satisfied in his position, he was to bring them into the fold, recruit them for Hildegard and gain their trust, showing them that an alliance with the Beastmaster was in their best interest. She could provide for them things that they had never before experienced. In return, they would aid in the mapping of their forest. After all, they knew it better than anyone else, having lived there likely for generations. Once Odin found them, and brought them onto the side of Hildegard, his mission would be considered complete.

#9Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:24 am

Odin
Assuming he would be gone for more than a simple afternoon this time, Odin made sure to pack everything he would need. First came the essentials. Where others may have placed food, water and ways to make shelter under that title, Odin had no such need for such frivolous things. His essentials consisted of what he would need for the mission. He only needed to pack what he knew would be required for him, and he was content in preparing for the worst. There had been many times in his life where he had gone into a situation unprepared for what could happen. He had been taken by surprised too many times, most recently in the fight against the forest plague and the battle against skeletal reavers that he himself had once commanded. There had been no realistic way to know they were going to be present, but Odin still berated himself for not being ready. His shield was strapped firmly across his back, not moving unless desired by the Lich, but easy to slip out in an emergency. His cloak was beneath the shield, covering his entire skeletal form so as best to use the magic of it should he require.

#10Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:24 am

Odin
The magic of the cloak was simple enough, it provided him with a small enchantment to make each of his steps soundless to anyone nearby. Provided he stayed out of sight, he would never be detected. His bones carried no scent, and his steps could carry no sound, making him an ideal candidate for stealth missions, even if they weren’t necessarily his forte. He was much more suited, especially with his magic and other items, for a frontal assault. It was only his ring that aided him in stealth more than his cloak, although they worked towards different abilities together. The cloak made his footsteps inaudible, but the ring stopped him requiring footsteps in the first place, transforming him into a raven and allowing him to fly low over his enemies. All his items became the raven, allowing his nullification shield and copy eye to still work should someone fire a spell in his direction. An almost perfect getaway option should things get too heated. It could have kept him from prison, but the current lack of faith the people now had in the Rune Knights from his easy and incredibly quick escape was too good of a chance to pass up.

#11Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:24 am

Odin
Other than his ring, cloak and shield, the staff and necklace were also packed. He didn’t have to bring a bag of any extras, as everything could be worn on his person as he travelled, the all-powerful staff of Morrigan even being reduced to a glorified walking stick. Despite its incredible power, it had to be said that it was the perfect length for Odin to just hold and walk with. It also gave the impression that he was weak and feeble, and that made it much more fun to show his opponents that he was anything but. The necklace was also present over his neck, showing the amusing image of a skull resting on the sternum of an actual skeleton, almost like it was a smaller version of his own skull. Odin had been lucky to pick up the necklace one day while shopping in a black market. It had resonated with power, more than the seller had initially realised, allowing the wizard lord to pick it up for basically nothing, which was good because he hadn’t exactly been the richest man at the time of purchase, and he didn’t want to kill anyone if he could buy from them later.

#12Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:24 am

Odin
There was one other thing Odin brought with him: a book. Well, technically it was two books but each one was very different from the other. The first was Odin’s own gospel, something he had been given directly by HER during his introduction to the Midnight Cult. It was a direct link to HER presence, and had kept him safe all these years. If he was ever to have a ‘good luck charm’ as the superstitious liked to put it, that would be his without any doubt. It brought him comfort to keep it on his person, even if it had been blank for many years now. His last interaction with the book had been when he received his newest mission from HER: to eliminate the current cult bishops and take control of the cult properly, bringing his own methods to resurrect HER. Since then, he had been looking for ways to begin his mission, and the book had remained blank. The second book was much simpler, a copy of ‘Dreams and Undeath’ by Archlich Deimos, apparently someone who had been a light mage despite his undeath. The only book that even mentioned Liches as something tangible, perhaps it could help him during the nights as he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep.

#13Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:24 am

Odin
And so he set off to locate the village first. Everything else stemmed from that initial mission, and it was up to him to locate it before doing anything else. He had absolutely nothing to go on, not even a map this time. Last time Hildegard had given him a map that had neatly pointed him in the direction, but this area had not been mapped yet, which meant there was no way to see if he was moving in the right direction. Instead, he had to just hope he knew where he was going. If he got lost, then it was possible he’d never actually find his way out of the forests. After all, they were incredibly dense and almost impossible to navigate without a map. That was why gaining the aid of this village was imperative, as otherwise this entire section of Stella would be off limits to the Bosco throne. It would be a place of strategic importance to the Stellans, from where they could launch an attack on Hildegard, something Odin would not allow to come to pass. He needed to find the village, and make sure that he gained their trust. One thing at a time.

#14Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 am

Odin
He didn’t know how he was going to complete the second part of the mission: gaining the trust of the elves, but he had a plan to accomplish the first one. Of course, he could whistle down for Nemesis, his flying steed, and gain his assistance in locating the village. He would simply fly high into the heir, look around for a time before he saw any signs of the village: huts, cut down trees, maybe even a fire or some kind of farmland, and land in the village there from the sky. However, there were two main issues with that plan. The first, these people were very reclusive, and so seeing an undead Lich descending from the heavens on the back of an equally undead creature from myth likely would not help as much as it would hinder. They would run in terror, ruining any chance for diplomacy, or they would begin worshipping Odin, which wouldn’t be incredibly useful for Hildegard once the Lich left Bosco. He had to approach them on foot, show that he was no one special, and work with them as an equal. The other reason that Odin wished not t use Nemesis, and find it on his own, was purely for his own enjoyment.

#15Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 am

Odin
Odin had been a cult leader for some time now, having been a main focus of the splintering between his group and the main faction of Midnight Cult. He was a guildmaster and cult leader, with more followers than he honestly knew what to do with. They would cook for him, kill for him, hell even die for him, doing anything he asked to fulfil their master’s wishes and get a spot in the new world that Odin would create through unleashing HER onto the world. That left very little for Odin himself to do, and he was starting to get fed up of it. Not that the servants performed their tasks poorly by any means, most of them would sooner kill themselves if they even suspected inferior work, but it had begun to become very boring for the Lich. Having grown up in forests and among trees away from civilisation, he knew how to track as well as the next hunter. He had located his own meals during his upbringing, thanks in part to his extremely strict and restrictive father, and thus he knew how to track. That natural talent wasn’t only limited to meals either. He could locate signs of life and find other hunters too.

#16Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 am

Odin
That would hopefully mean that, once he got back into the swing of things, he would be able to easily track down and locate the demi human village. All he had to do was, funnily enough, exactly what so many had told him in the past. He had to get lost. He chuckled at the notion, the hollow voice of the Lich reverberating throughout the forest and even causing some birds to flock and fly away from his location. He wondered if they would fly towards or away from a village. Given their interaction, he suspected away, so he decided to fly in the opposite direction from the birds. Turns out, he hadn’t actually lost all of his tracking ability as he had first thought. Or maybe he was just extremely lucky. Whichever one it actually was, it wouldn’t be long before the occasional snapped twig or displaced leaf would be spotted. It wasn’t much, but it would lead Odin to some scratched tree bark, picked bushes and then, finally, a set of footprints. It was exactly as he had been trained, and exactly what he wanted. Mentally patting himself on the back, the Lich would follow the pathway laid out for him.

#17Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 am

Odin
It wouldn’t take him long to find the village itself. A collection of elves and demi humans, all wearing next to nothing in terms of clothing and walking bare foot across the hard ground. Reclusive was definitely the right word for these people, it almost looked like they had never even encountered civilisation or, if they had, it hadn’t been for at least a few hundred years. This made it even more difficult for Odin to approach them, as he had to choose every action, every word, with the utmost caution. Any slip up could not only ruin the chances of Hildegard making an ally, but also the progression of this village for even more generations. There was almost a butterfly effect going on in real time here. Anything Odin did here could have lasting effects for centuries, if not even longer. The entire fate of Earthland could be dependant on what he did here, now, today. He could singlehandedly be responsible for the destruction of the entire world, or even perhaps its saviour. Now that would be funny, Odin inadvertently stopping his own plans by the ramifications of what happened today. No matter what though, he had to be extremely careful.

#18Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 am

Odin
Turning to his left, he would see a middle aged, primate demi human staring directly at him. Odin only really had one thought as he looked at her eyes, seeing the hollow reflection of his skull sitting almost like a painting within the canvas. He hadn’t even started his mission, and already he had fucked the entire thing up irredeemably. He was just waiting for the female demi human to scream, to alert the entire village of his position, and then maybe he’d have to deal with them all looking to hunt him down and kill him, or something similar. Maybe they’d try to cook him, or use his bone marrow for some medicinal uses. Over the years, Odin had always pondered what the worst ending for his life could be, but he’d usually come up short on what was actually worse than his immediate destruction. He could nullify some forms of pain, so maybe there was a way to stop that ability. Maybe they’d poison him, make him feel all the pain he had avoided for so long. Maybe that’s how he would die, begging and screaming for these savages to just let him rot away in a cage forever.

#19Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:26 am

Odin
Hearing the girl speak in an almost fluent Boscosi accent was definitely not what Odin had imagined, expected or planned for. He mentally chastised himself again for not being ready, even thought the correct situation he was in was the only one that seemed too ludicrous to possible ever be the truthful one. Once again he had many more questions than answers, but he wouldn’t get a chance to ask any of them as he was dragged by the primate, who showed an incredible amount of strength in that moment, towards the rest of the village, now calling out to them in a language that Odin could translate and introducing them to her ‘new friend’. They all gathered round, and began muttering away to themselves as though the next big piece of hot gossip had just landed at their door. They asked so many questions: What was he? Where did he come from? Was he an alien? Friend? Foe? Was he mute? Why didn’t he say anything? Was he from somewhere outside of the forest? The reason Odin hadn’t said anything up until this point is because, quite frankly, he was speechless. There was nothing he could say in that moment that would make anything make sense.

#20Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:26 am

Odin
Eventually the gossip was broken up, and the crowd parted ways for an important looking primate demi human to approach the Wizard Lord. Although, Odin supposed that title was a useless trinket where he was now. The concept itself would be foreign, let alone anything of the nuance with what it could possible mean. The man, who could only be the tribal chief of the entire group, looked to the female with a look that seemed to be a mixture of love and mild annoyance. From that alone, Odin knew he was in trouble. The man was indeed the tribal chieftain, and the girl that had met Odin’s gaze first was his daughter. Apparently, from what Odin was picking up, she often brought trinkets and animals from the outside world into the village, much to the displeasure of her father. And now, she had brought an actual outsider in. She pleaded with him, saying she could teach him the ways of their people, while he stood resolute in his defiance. He was untrusting of outsiders, despite having clearly met some and learned the language from them. He had likely had a bad interaction with poachers, creating this mistrust of people like Odin.

#21Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:26 am

Odin
Then again, the fact he was a Lich was likely also part of the issue. Even if the chief knew what Odin was, he definitely had never met one of his kind, pushing the issue of trust even further than it already was. The stubborn father and the idealistic daughter, Odin couldn’t know who would win but he needed to to be the daughter. Taking a breath, he realised he may have to charm his way out of this situation. Something he could do pretty well if the time called for it. The gasps were audible as he spoke, likely not only from the realisation that he had understood everything they had said thus far but also from the sound of his hollow voice. He sounded dead, unnatural and, in the eyes of the father, untrustworthy. It didn’t help matter at all, actually going so far as to make them worse until something even more surprising happened. Out of nowhere, Odin felt his legs leave from under him. The primate female had swiped his legs out, causing the Lich to fall flat on his rear, prompting laughter from some of the braver demi humans. She boasted that she could definitely take the Lich in a fight if it came to it.

#22Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:26 am

Odin
Odin wasn’t so sure, but it seemed to be enough for the father to trust his daughter. Odin would be under her care, she would teach him the ways of their people and find out if he could truly be trusted. He’d be put through many tests to ensure he was actually learning, or if they were just wasting their time on him and, should everything go well, he would be invited into the tribe as a true member of the family. That much Odin had understood, but he had heard words that he just could not understand. He was sure he heard the words transformation, tail and demi human, all of which directed at the wizard lord, which made no sense in that moment. He was confused as to what they meant, but that was only because, in the word’s of the female, his eyes had not yet been opened to the possibilities of the forest. Honestly he was just getting more confused, and he still hadn’t been given the name of anyone in the village, despite even offering his own. After all, he was trying to open diplomatic channels. Giving his name was the basic sign of courtesy, but it hadn’t been accepted clearly.

#23Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:27 am

Odin
He soon discovered why, as he was brought to the centre of the village. Standing beneath the long, almost flowing branches of a clearly spiritual tree, Odin was made to sit down as something was prepared for him. A drink, blue in colour and made using the sap from this mystical tree. At first, the Lich was cautious. He felt like that was warranted, he knew nothing of these people and they hadn’t exactly given him any reason to trust them. They were being reclusive, as he had expected, but also shady, refusing to answer any of the questions he had, refusing to even respond to him. He was starting to believe that he could say anything and they wouldn’t even acknowledge his existence, no matter how horrifying his statements. But, in the back of his mind, his thoughts went to Hildegard, and to HER. Whatever this drink was, he needed to drink it. There was no other way to go about it. He had to understand this village, he had to open some kind of channel with them, and that meant trusting they weren’t trying to kill him. They had been shady, untrusting, but they hadn’t been hostile yet. Shaking his head in disbelief at his next actions, Odin drank to contents of the bark.

#24Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:27 am

Odin
He felt the change almost instantly, although he couldn’t place what had actually happened. His eyes had naturally closed, something that had never happened before as an undead, and he had actually been required to make an effort to open them again. Instantly, the sun shone directly into his retinas, prompting him to raise his arms in defence of his eyes, casting shade to allow them to open once more. Wait, retinas? Odin looked around, his eyes briefly focussing on the female as he saw her in, quite literally, a new light. She was stunning, a true beauty and possible one of the most perfect creatures he had ever seen. He definitely hadn’t said any of that out loud, so why was it that she was blushing and laughing her ass off. Could she read his mind? He didn’t think it likely, even with magic, given how secure he was, so what was it? Stretching briefly, Odin would place both of his hands on the ground, feeling the dirt in a way he had never before felt. Blinking a few times he pushed up with his hands, hearing the joints click from underuse as his feet landed solidly on the fresh dirt.

#25Odin 

Embracing Nature [Support: Hildegard the Beastmaster] Empty Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:27 am

Odin
Everything felt the same, and yet everything was different, and still he had no idea what it was. Why was she laughing, was there something on Odin’s face? Had she done something to him during his brief period of blackness? He would touch his face, expecting to feel, as he always did, the cold embrace of bone. But it wasn’t bone he felt, it was skin. His hands, they were dirty, they were alive. His feet felt the ground differently because he was sinking into them. His joints had popped from underuse because he was using muscles that hadn’t existed moments before. His eyes had been burned by the sun’s rays because he had eyes that were affected by them. He ran the hands through his hair. Hair… he even had hair now, albeit long and seemingly a mess from the feeling of it. Then again, Odin had no idea what he was meant to be feeling. It had been so long, he had forgotten what feeling actually entailed. It was then that he looked down, realising how much taller he had become. He was now standing above the previously taller primate, and he felt stronger than he had in decades, centuries even due to the curse he had withstood.

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