Aldrich closed his eyes and sighed as he looked up to the pale moon above. Glowing waves of green energy flowed around him as he leveled up, wrapping him in an aura of power born from Ghost's suffering.
He heard the sounds of ravenous chewing, flesh tearing, and bones crunching as Adam and Elaine finally had their fill of Ghost. Their fill of vengeance. He let them eat up Ghost's corpse to nothingness as a well deserved reward for their suffering, and also because Ghost had dropped a Soul.
Aldrich would use the Soul and craft something out of it. If it retained Ghost's powers, then an item, perhaps a cloak that could activate Phase, was going to be far, far more useful than a dumb zombie that could not reliably use the reflex and thinking intensive Phase power.
In the meanwhile, Aldrich stabilized his newfound power by distributing his stat points. He started to invest more heavily into Attunement now as he had obtained the [Tome of Dark Arts Rank 2].
The [Tome of the Dark Arts] were basic items that Necromancers received at levels 1, 5, 15, 25, and 35 and 50 that granted them a catalogue of spells to learn from, of which they could learn three.
Past level 50, one had to craft or find better spell tomes to obtain spells that scaled into higher levels.
Many of those higher-level tomes, though, Aldrich could find in the Trial Quests, so he did not worry about learning spells. He just might not have access to the absolute rarest spell tomes that required traveling about in Elden World itself.
Aldrich dumped in 8 points in Attunement and 2 points in Vitality.
Optimally he would have spent his Vitality points into Magic, but this was not the game where he knew what threats he would face and how much health he needed to tank pre-coded attacks.
In the real world, he needed higher health and durability as a safety net to make sure he did not just instantly die from a strong surprise attack.
[+ 2 to Vitality, doubled to +4 due to affinity bonuses]
[Vitality: 10 ] 14]
[HP: 33/33 ] 45/45]
[+8 to Attunement, doubled to +16 due to affinity bonuses]
[Attunement: 5 ] 21]
Good, thought Aldrich. With this, he could increase how many spells and units he could attune at any given moment in time. For a Legion Necromancer like him who relied on minions, this was the absolute most important stat.
For every 5 attunement points, he could attune one extra spell OR minion. With a total of 21 attunement, he could add in up to four extra spells or minions or a mixture of both.
The base number of spells he could attune was 5, and the base number of minions he could attune was also at 5.
Every 10 levels, Aldrich would obtain a passive skill called the [Legion's Calling] that increased his base unit controlling capacity by 5, thus maxing out at a total of 55 total units controlled at level 100.
However, since he was not a more ordinary Mage type class, he did not get bonuses to increasing spell capacity with levels, so he needed to use Attunement for that. Yet another reason why Attunement was such an important stat.
Aldrich used 3 of his Attunement Points on expanding his units and 1 on adding spell capacity. He currently knew 3 spells, having 2 empty slots, so with 1 bonus, he could learn 6 spells total which was all he needed for now.
[Unit control limit increased from 5 to 8]
[Equipped spell limit increased from 5 to 6]
With that said and done, Aldrich walked over to Ghost's corpse. Or rather, what was left of it. Just a few bloody smears, bone shards, and tidbits of pink viscera scattered across the dirt. As he approached, his Undead parted way for him.
"You talked so much sh*t, but in the end, this is all you amount to, huh," said Aldrich as he looked down at the remnants of the man who once had tormented him and his friends so. He shook his head and reached out to grab Ghost's Soul.
[1x Soul of Ghost obtained]
"Good work, everyone," said Aldrich as he gave a thumbs up to Adam and Elaine while petting the Strikers as they curled around him like giant dogs. "Now then, it's about time we added more friends to this party."
Aldrich's Undead heart no longer beat, but if it did, it would have beat at top speed in anticipation. He withdrew the [Nether Binding Amulet] from his inventory.
He held out his pale palm and dark purple curls of murky energy coalesced around it, swirling and forming into an orb that then shattered, leaving behind an amethyst diadem framed in ashen white bone.
The [Nether Binding Amulet] was given to Legion Necromancers at level 5 and allowed them to tap into the Nether, the underworld of Elden World where demons and higher level Undead with actual names resided.
There, Aldrich could choose from a wide selection of power named Undead to form a pact with, making them his Chosen Undead that could level up and even wear equipment. A lifetime companion that essentially served as his 'other half', compensating for all his weaknesses if chosen well.
Aldrich activated the [Nether Binding Amulet] by crushing it in his grip. It shattered like brittle glass, and the purple gem shards floated in front of him. They started to form a circular orbit and within this orbit, swirls of spiraling darkness formed, creating a portal.
The trees around Aldrich swayed and groaned. The grass and flora around the portal started to wither and die and crumble to dust.
Aldrich eagerly awaited his summoning options to appear in a list in front of him. He already knew who he favored. He had the most inclination to choose Valera of the Immortal Legion. This was the choice he played with in the game and the one that best complimented him as a powerful melee fighter and tank, but he wanted to see if he got more options now compared to the game.
It was also worth considering other options as they might not have been useful in the game, but they had more utility in the real world.
Hadar of the Golden Bone was a skeleton with, as his title suggested, golden bones dressed in trench coat and top hat who was, for all intents and purposes, a meme option in the game. He had little combat or utility ability but could generate Coins rapidly and increase Coin rewards.
He even had a nifty coin toss attack where he would literally shoot coins at people and deal damage in exchange for making the player lose money.
In the game, Hadar was useless because Coin eventually became highly plentiful, making him a useless option for mid to late game. His coin toss attack generally also sucked.
But now, with Coin so scarce, maybe he was useful.
Justeaze the Eye was a Wraith that possessed incredible clairvoyance spells that could scope out areas and battlefields before exploring them. In the game, this was not that useful as Aldrich already personally explored every area, rendering her ability to scout redundant.
But now, it was an incredibly ability to have for utility.
Gorgoth the Many was a floating ball of corpses and skeletons that could spam the battlefield with countless Undead, basically functioning like a second Legion Necromancer to really swarm enemies with units.
In the game, Gorgoth got outscaled because his Undead were all generally low leveled, but perhaps summoning him for the potential to form a massive army to clear out Variants en masse was useful in the real world.
Options. Options. So many options. And yet -
"Huh?" Aldrich cocked his head as he stared at the portal. By now, he should have received a list of potential Chosen Undead to summon from the Nether, but he did not.
Instead, the portal began to crackle with bolts of lavender energy - a signal that a Chosen Undead had been chosen already.
Aldrich stepped back, wary at this sudden change.
After all, this was not the game anymore. Chosen Undead were not mindless in the game lore. They had their own names and personalities. Who was to tell whether they would be hostile or not?
Whether the one that emerged from that portal was something terrible that Aldrich had to fight, not ally with?
Aldrich had his undead gather in front of him, growling as they readied to defend him.
From the portal, an enormous suit of black and white armor stepped out. The figure wearing this armor was easily two meters tall, its each and every step letting out heavy, clicking thuds as the sizable armor moved up and down.
There was power and weight behind all of those steps. Pure, raw, physical power that promised that anyone that ran afoul of this knight was guaranteed to find themselves smashed into quite the crater in the ground.
The knight did not wield a weapon, but instead an enormous cross-shaped shield of black and grey metal that was noticeably larger than its already sizable frame.
The knight stood still as the portal closed behind it. It stared directly at Aldrich. Tension rose in the air.
Aldrich immediately knew who this was.
"Are you…are you Valera of the Immortal Legion?" said Aldrich hesitantly. It looks like his Chosen Undead had been chosen for him, and it was the same as he had used in the game.
A good choice, to be sure, so he could not complain.
What he was wary of was whether Valera was hostile. If she was, Aldrich had little guarantee he could beat her. She was a Dullahan Death Knight warrior specialized in defending and melee brawling, and she started out at level 10 - noticeably higher than Aldrich now.
"Master…master…is-is that you?" came Valera's surprisingly feminine voice through her full-face helmet.
Aldrich did not hear any hostility in her voice, but he kept his guard up. "Yes. It's me. Do you potentially…remember me?"
"Of course!" said Valera. She dropped her giant cross-shield, and it thumped heavily with a metallic clang on the ground. She put a gauntleted, spiked hand to her breastplate. "We went through so many adventures together! So many trials! So many lives and deaths!"
Valera looked down, and her voice was pained. "But then, after we defeated the Howling Darkness together, you disappeared. I-I had no idea what had happened to you. For three hundred years, the longest three centuries of my immortal life, I had thought you were gone. Lost forever."
"Hm," said Aldrich. It seemed that Valera retained memories from the game to a degree. The main objective of Elden World was to beat back the evil entity known as the Howling Dark, and once that was done, players according to game lore 'retired' and lived a peaceful life with the world returned to peace.
Of course, in-game, the player could do as he liked and continue exploring areas or re-challenge bosses and events, but other than this, the 'story' of the game was done. Anything past it was 'non-canon' content.
Aldrich had finished the main story about three years ago. Before he even came to Blackwater. This was likely when Valera had lost memories of him, and it seemed that every single year that had passed was a hundred years in Elden World time.
"But now I see you are here, starting a new life in a new body. Oh, my master, how my heart races to see you again!" Valera rushed forward using the warrior skill [Dash], turning into a blur as she slammed into Aldrich and hugged him. "My dear, dear master whom I had devoted my entire soul to!"
"G-good to see you too, Valera," said Aldrich with a wheeze as he suffered crushing damage.
Okay then. Valera was most definitely not hostile unless she planned on hugging him to death. Which at the rate she was going, was definitely a possibility.