A/N: My thanks to Islandbreeze for reading this bit recently. I'm glad you enjoy Malhavoc's character. He is meant to be such a serious little fellow, but it comes off funny, because of the people around him and the lack of understanding that he has of himself.
This chapter is some more ramblings and interesting thoughts that I have had when I did research into what was a lich. Hey, I started out writing fantasy from a folklore stand point and not D&D. What can I say. And I love it when people tell me I CAN do that.
Sight returned to Malhavoc in a sudden burst of clarity, unlike when he willingly allowed himself go down to a rest state. He soundlessly moved his jaw bone to finish what he had been saying to his apprentice, but the sudden change of view of his room told him exactly what had happened. The ache of fear traveled up his spinal column. He had awoken safe once again. Damn that dragon and his stupid curses. He honestly did not talk that much like Skratch claimed, and, besides, he had not stayed in the dragon's cave for an extensive amount of time for the full effects of the curse to sufficiently please the creator of it. This was far from the first time this particular curse had come into effect, and it certainly would not be the last time, especially with the zealousness the wizard had for new spells and knowledge. He tried hard not to let this curse take effect. It was not good for any kind of lich to be caught in such a helpless state and especially one that had been banished to his own decayed body. He could be utterly destroyed, and he could not lift a finger (or have a word to say) to help himself. One day he knew he would be able to build himself a new phylactery and move his soul safely there again, but it had been a fascinating experience to be stuck in this body again. He was certain that Marissa's antics would be not as fun. He cursed himself for feeling that way.
Galen sat at his bedside with the papers and books on his bed. The bed was a good size, and the resting undead necromancer was exceptionally small. So, the youth was able to study the lessons without disturbing the master. Several candles and lights from the lanterns flickered eerily off the hollows of his thin face. The sorcerer would have smirked if he had the facial muscles for such activities as he wondered if the boy had lit the candles on his own or did one of the servants do it for him. He noted that there were more lit than he usually kept for himself. The boy did not have his uncanny sight in the darkness. That was one of the many advantages to his undead state, and Skratch's curses could do nothing to it. Well, at least the boy had sense enough not to draw the curtains open for light. If some of those ancient tomes of the blackest and vilest magicks were exposed to direct sunlight, the lich was sure that he would most certainly have several piles of ash as a result and no telling what kind of demons might be released. In either case, he would be none too pleased. Well at least this undead state did not forbid him from the exposure of sunlight like it did for a vampire. Some of Nikodemus' wild ideas of fun with his borrowed guest would be ruined. Malhavoc was unsure of how exactly his fellow wizard got him to spend a day on a sunbathed beach in such an embarrassing outfit. He was only glad that with these excursions he was not inhibited by the time limits of mortality.
His apprentice looked tired and haggard. His breakfast sat on a small table by the bed. He had only eaten half of it. The undead wizard would have shrugged, but he didn't want to disturb the boy's studies. At least he had eaten something today. The young man's clothes were wrinkled and ruffled. His greying hair hung loose from the tie where it was held back from yesterday's grooming. Long strands of it hung in his face, and the lich wondered how the boy could see what he was working on. His one eye blinked tiredly at the lesson plan, and the lich was sure if left to his own devices long enough, he would eventually nod off to sleep despite his intentions of learning what was written out for him. Finally, he came to a more difficult part of the lesson or at least a different concept. The youth leaned back in his chair and closed his only eye to concentrate on the blur of information he had just fed his mind. The necromancer remained still and quiet as his state of being was wont to do. His student had advanced through most of the lesson for him on his own. A sense of pride swelled in his old soul. In a weird distorted way, he had accepted on a good apprentice. He wanted to learn, and he was more intelligent than he had originally gave him credit for. Reading his notes was quite a task for the average genius. Then again, thought the undead wizard, he had more or less taught himself to read. Emerikol had showed him the least amount possible, then he expected him to grasp the whole idea. The lich thought about laughing at the irony of the fact that he no longer bore the scars of the flesh from those lessons.
Malhavoc correctly surmised that the youth must have went through the nine levels of the Abyss and back yesterday after his master unceremoniously fell on him. The undead wizard could not figure out if this feeling of anguish over the departure of a corrupt already dead soul such as himself was proper for one as pure of heart as his ward. Wasn't the duty it those damned bloody goody goodies to purge this world of all the decrepit walking dead. He could tell from the streaks on his cheek that Galen had been crying again. He would have smacked the boy for disobeying him again. Hmphf! Crying over one as himself was unheard of, no to mention a waste of energies. Even if he was capable of crying, he wouldn't do so over a worthless being such as himself. The bloody Abyss! He would cry over the death of no person! All he cared about was as long as it was not he who had died. He couldn't figure out this feeling of mourning that these bloody goody two shoes had. It gave him a headache to think in their way, and it was best not to expend energies in these thoughts. It wasn't like the boy truly needed him to look after him and teach him. Tallon or Nikodemus could and would happily teach him what he needed to know, and they would probably do a better job of it, regardless how adverse the kender-drow was to bringing the boy to this dimension. It did not take Malhavoc long to realize what a farce that whole fiasco had been. His fellow wizard enjoyed teaching others his unique talents too much, and the lich was most grateful that Max's intelligence did not allow him to learn many of the spells, much less the more destructive ones. As far as Galen being taken care of, he had managed quite well for 14 years under hostile conditions. The undead wizard looked at the scarred eyeless side of the youth's face. Indeed he had lived through so much, and he refused to fight back. He doubted that he himself would be able to adjust not being able to see the peripheral of his left side. He was too fond of seeing around himself. It was one of the main reasons why he hated wearing the hood of his cloak. (The other reason had to do with he didn't like to hide what he was, and he hoped that would scare people away from him. It usually didn't work.) If he had the inborn power that the boy had, his abusers would not live to see the next morn. He would never understand these do-gooders! Galen had lived a virtuous innocent life and what reward did he get for it? He was burned, beaten, and cast out. He was taught that he was some kind of heinous monster and had no right to live. Malhavoc was proud of the monster he had become if this was what it took to be a good soul.
"When I look at you, you remind me of why I refuse to be one of those damn bloody goody goodies," he finally voiced his thoughts in his level softly accented voice, that was so contrary to what he was or wanted to be. "Don't ever take that away from me."
"Master!" Galen cried out as he opened his one green eye wide and jumped up from his chair. He opened his arms wide. The lessons scattered and fluttered to the floor. The master wizard sunk deeper into his pillows and held his bone hands up to shield himself from his apprentice's affectionate onslaught.
Galen dropped his arms to his sides with a mild bit of disappointment, but he continued to smile and the light of delight still lit his wide green eye. His cheeks turned a soft pink as he clasped his hands together. "Sorry, master."
Pushing himself up in a sitting position, he looked around at the mess made. He waved his hand at the scattered work. "Get you stuff off of my bed and clean yourself up." Galen nodded, as he proceeded to collect and straighten the scattered papers. Malhavoc placed his hand under his chin and made him look up at him. "You don't need to worry about my existence, you know. I have died already."
"Sorry, master," he replied, as he carefully put his lesson back on the wizards's desk. He gave the staff a wide berth. Malhavoc would have smiled if he could. "Tallon told me that you were alright, and you'd wake on your own."
The lich shrugged. "Sometimes the boy is right," he remarked, as he glanced at the abandoned staff. He would have smiled again. Shaking his head at the thoughts of his thieving fellow wizard's escapades, he pulled the blankets off of himself. He had been out and unproductive long enough. He looked down at his white night shirt, then he looked over at his apprentice, who was busy undressing himself. "Did you do this?" he asked as he motioned to his clothes.
Galen paused in his activities and looked at the skeleton. With a deeper red to his cheeks, he lowered his head and fingered the robes in his hands. "Yes, master," he confessed, "I . . . Tallon told me to make you comfortable, and it didn't seem right to have you sleep in your robes."
Relief flooded the lich's body. The watching youth even noticed that all the tension seemed to drop out of the undead wizard's shoulders. The apprentice wrapped his arms around his robes and looked at his master expectantly. What had he done right? Malhavoc just pulled himself around and dropped his feet to the floor. He went about changing his own clothes. Galen only shrugged and remembered his mentor had told him that he wouldn't reveal all of his secrets. If the lich felt he didn't need to know, then he would not press it. He went to the pitcher and water basin to clean his face and body with the fresh water there. Having worn all his robes once already and not having his dirty laundry picked up by the servants yet (Malhavoc insisted that he was too busy to do his own washing), he chose one of the pairs of pants and shirts that Tallon had given him. Finally, after much fuss and preparing himself, he went about combing out his tangled hair.
The undead wizard acted much the same way that his apprentice did. He cast a spell that instantly cleaning spell, that he had learned from Tallon, to clean the dirt off of his bones. Galen didn't question about why the dead necromancer needed to fuss over his appearance or worry about his cleanliness. He only silently watched, as the lich limped around the room. His limp was much more pronounced without the use of the staff, but he seemed quite capable of getting around on his own. All the same, Galen wished that his teacher would hurry and reclaim the wicked item and put it back under his control.
Malhavoc had had seven years to learn to get around without all of his teleportation spells. He had learned to move about on that broken foot again. Someday, he swore, he would fix that foot . . . well, maybe not. That broken foot reminded him of why he hated all living things. He looked up and made eye contact with the nervous young man. He did not want to be depended upon anything much less that staff. Besides, he was entertaining his sadistic side by letting his student squirm near the cursed item.
The lich hobbled to his wardrobe. He gave another glance at his waiting apprentice, then he shrugged. It had been a long while since he had worn pants. He pulled out a suit similar to his underling's clothes, but it was black instead of brown and it had some fancy embroidery at the edges. The shirt was oversized and the sleeves ended in frills. Yes, it was most certainly a reflection of its designer Silverleaf. He also added a long fancy frock coat, that he thought was too fancy for his profession. He would have discarded it and would never think of wearing it again, but Marissa had mentioned that she liked how it looked in him. He was certain that she would be by sometime that day. After all, she hadn't seen him for a couple of days, and she was due to come and screw up his day's work.
Finally dressing himself with meticulous care in his new clothes, he sat down on the edge of the bed to work on his boots. He casually explained to his quietly watching companion, "I asked if you had changed my clothes, because I didn't want Marissa doing it."
"She came by last night," he cheerfully replied. Then, looking down, he felt his cheeks grow warmer. "She fussed over your unconscious body, then she kissed you," he added, as the rest of his face turned an amazing shade of red.
Malhavoc paused at pulling his right boot on. A chill ran through his whole bone structure, then a tingle of warmth followed. He knew that she didn't give him an innocent little peck on the cheek bone. Sometimes, he thought, she had too much of her risque father in her. He shook his head fiercely. Liches did not feel things like the living, but he was sure as the Abyss feeling something. There was no denying that , and in the pit of his very being, he was sorry he had not been awake to fight her off (or at least be aware of her actions).
Galen's brow furrowed at his master's lack of movement, then he asked rather naively, "Why is it wrong for Marissa to change your clothes?"
Another strange feeling shot through his body. This feeling had become quite a normal occurrence for Malhavoc in this tower. If he had been alive, he would have sworn that it was his body and face would have grown very warm, and his stomach would have done some flips. "I'm not married to her yet!" he snapped at the boy. He yanked his boot on and clenched his fists at his sides. He wasn't sure he was pleased with his body's reaction to this non-existing emotion he was having. "A girl is not suppose to see a man naked before she marries him!" he retorted, as he pulled his knees in a defensive way. He looked up at his companion. "Didn't those backward people of your homeland teach you anything!"
Galen put his finger to his mouth and more disconcertment crossed his face. "But, master, you have nothing but your bones left."
"They're my bones! That's enough!" he shot back with fierce flames in his eye sockets.
Galen looked at him confused for a few minutes, then some sort of revelation dawned on him. A laughing smile crossed his lips. Malhavoc shot him another vicious glare. The boy's smile did not falter, and the lich dropped his shoulders yet again. The undead were not suppose to feel modesty, and many did not because the lack of a full soul. Malhavoc was a sentient undead, and his soul was still fully present in his undead body. That made a world of difference.
The necromancer moved on to his left foot. He had learned some time ago to be more careful with the fitting of the footwear on this one. Nikodemus had come up with a block like item to replace the missing part of the foot, and the lich was able to fit it over the remaining bones of the broken foot. He would tie it in place with bands around it and his remaining toe. Galen watched him wide eyed and curious. He had yet to see the master work on the crippled foot, and it was quite interesting if not different to watch. Carefully, Malhavoc slipped his bent foot into the boot. Many said the undead did not feel pain in the same way that the living did. Although it had been over 500 years since Malhavoc could claim that he possessed true life, he really could not claim to feel much of a difference in feeling pain now than when he was mortal. Shoving his broken foot into his boot heedless of such feelings was not experience he would like to repeat, and it pointedly reminded him of the untruth of this sentiment the mortals had of the undead. True, he was curse to have feelings in his bones again, but he still was undead.
After all this fuss over getting dressed, Malhavoc finally took up his staff and held out his arms for the inspection of his audience. Galen shrugged and continued to smile. The outfit made his master look all the more small and less frightening, but he had enough sense not to mention it. The lich motioned for the boy to sit on the edge of the bed, and he took the chair to himself. He discussed with his student what he was to learn from the lessons he studied, and he wasn't much disappointed. He had to remind himself that not many had his rare gift of genius, and although Galen was an intelligent child, he was nowhere near his intelligence. This was not a thought of arrogance on Malhavoc's part, but it was a statement of fact. The undead wizard would let his arrogance slap the boy in the back of the head many times before the lesson was fully taught.
After much coaxing, Galen finished eating his cold breakfast, and he was pushed onward to eat all of his lunch. By dinner time, Malhavoc was not disappointed by his fiancee bringing his companion's meal, and after a purification spell for good measure, the skeletal wizard encouraged him to eat it, as he went to spend time with his lovely half elf. Lesson would resume the next day. With the tragedy and the anguish gone now, as the door shut behind his master, Galen let himself go. He collapsed into the bed in a sound and a well earned sleep.