Found

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Fighting the urge to go back to sleep, Hubert propped himself up on his elbow. Dawn was approaching.

Edgar grinned at him from across the room, moved his jaw in a way that approximated a smile to see that his master was awake and went back to twisting the gem die that he held in his hand.

Gets more personality every day, Hubert mused as he stood, wondering not for the first time on the strange evolution of the silent skeleton.

A dark cloud coalesced in front of him before solidifying and becoming Ursula. She smiled beatifically.

How does the morning find you? she asked.

"Tired," Hubert answered. "And hungry. Meet me downstairs in a few minutes. I need to get washed and dressed."

It had been three days of looking for Dan to no success. Ursula had been systematic, covering a spectacular amount of ground in her nightly searches, while Huu had been a little more haphazard, preferring to simply try places he knew Dan liked to frequent while generally keeping out an eye. He hadn't returned to the astral plane since the first try, but was beginning to think it was the only route available to him.

He dropped some bread into the toaster and turned to look at Ursula who was waiting with an infuriating level of patience next to him.

"Did you find anything?" he asked.

"I did; I found Dan."

Huu dropped his knife in shock. Even before his mind processed her words, it was stunned by her voice. In the days they had spent together, Ursula had only ever communicated telepathically. Her actual voice was a totally different sound; musical, even affectionate.

"I've been up for twenty minutes and you wait that long to tell me?"

First, there is nothing we can do to act on this information yet, second, you instructed me to wait. She paused before continuing. I'm sorry my speaking aloud startled you. I'll avoid it in future.

"No don't," Huu said, "I liked it. You have a really nice voice. I just wasn't expecting it."

Ursula nodded but didn't say anything more. Huu continued:

"But what do you mean you found him? Where? Is he OK?"

He is in the same state he was when we had him. Weakened from a lack of sustenance perhaps, but not so much as to worry. He isn't far, but neither is he alone.

She nodded to Huu's toast which had just popped out of the machine. Obediently, the necromancer spread the butter.

There are six wraiths that guard him. They circle at different distances, but in a well-constructed pattern. It is hard to get close undetected.

"Wraiths?"

Yes. At first I believed they were of Dan's making. It would stand to reason that he's learned enough to accomplish their creation.

Huu nodded silently.

But the way they move around him puts doubt on that theory. There's no sense of subservience, nor either of anger which would occur if they had broken a forced bond. They are completely independent of him. And they have no threads to us - to you - I can feel that too across the link we share. So they come from a third source. As I said to you some time ago; we have an enemy.

"One capable of creating wraiths."

Exactly that.

"Fuck."

Ursula glared at her master. Shameful, Huu apologised.

What would you like us to do now?

"We have to rescue him."

I am more powerful than a wraith, master. And I am willing to die in your service, but alone, the two of us will not be able to dispatch this force successfully.

"We have Edgar," Huu joked. Ursula ignored him.

You will have to animate more of us to stand any sort of chance.

"No," Hubert disagreed, "There are other things we can do. I've been learning more, and toying with some more direct uses of the field. I think we can fight them directly - you with your power and skill, me with some careful necromancy."

Ursula seemed to consider this for a moment before finally nodding. I will follow your lead.

"Good. Get some rest, you will need it."

I do not, but I appreciate the thought. Enjoy the day.

Ursula glided out of the room with Huu watching her as she left.

His toast was delicious.


* * *


Edgar and Hubert practiced for the rest of the day. Manipulation of the necromantic field wasn't as hard as Huu believed it should be. There was something about the nature of magic which he believed should be exclusive, but he saw no reason why any person off the street couldn't master the same techniques he had. It made little sense to him why there weren't more wizards running around in the world. Not just necromancers either; he could feel the touch of other disciplines of magic in the things he did, he just didn't have time to explore those concepts today.

By 3pm, Hubert could stretch forward with his eldritch touch and separate the instances of the field which held Edgar together from each other. The had the effect of being able to cut the skeleton from his hand, or a foot; the loose limb becoming lifeless while the greater whole moved without it. He could wrap the skeleton in an invisible shield which prevented him from getting too close to anything physical (or anything physical getting too close to him), though the shield was hard to maintain for anything more than a couple of seconds.

He mastered some basic levitation of his test subject, as well as being able to exert a strange necromantic force on him in other directions, effectively throwing Edgar around the room.

All of it worked his mind and body hard. He sweated constantly through the day and at five collapsed in a heap onto his bed.

Thank you, Edgar, he sent to the skeleton as he drifted to sleep. I am sorry if I hurt you in any of that.

Edgar grinned his fleshless smile as Huu closed his eyes.

You need to wake, Ursula urged five hours later. We have to go to rescue Dan now.

Huu sat upright. He had some wraiths to kill. He was ready.


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