Nine Houses: The lost house.

The Saphire Pinnacle, the seat of the empire sounded by the Nine Houses,

with the five moons in the background.

So you might have noticed that my Patreon level names have names like The Healers Communion, The Thieves Consortium and so on. What is that about. Well, one of my many book series ideas is called Nine Houses. In NH world called Orbis Erraites, there are four Gods the gods have assigned Patrons to one of the each aspect of life. These patrons have created their houses inside the empire of Therimin. These houses serve the empire but operate according to their own rules and teachings. Thier leaders serve as the emperor’s council but are forbidden from ever becoming emperors themselves. The houses are:

Life: The Healers Communion

Man: The Warriors Fellowship

Own: The Thieves Consortium

Chaos: The Mages Collegium

Power: The Dread Knights Dominion

Fate: The Union of Necromancers.

Order: The Order of Hope

Secrets: The Shadow Society

Eternity: The Monastery of Light

My NH series explores the inner working of each house while expanding on a greater threat to the Empire.

To help my patrons become more familiar with this world I’m going to Write a story blog about this universe. Exclusive to patrons. About every ten posts or so I will post it on my blog.

This story entails the creation of the last of the great houses The Union of Necromancers.

Nine Houses: The lost house.


Part one: The road to Darkmon.

The empire is cursed, so they say. It’s been besieged by wars, demons and dark gods and has yet to have fallen. It is the favor of the God’s and their Patrons that keep it from falling. Perhaps that is true but it’s the Eight houses that do the dirty work so to speak. They serve the empire and carry out the will of the Patrons, who speak for the Gods. Not that the Patrons or the Gods do much talking. It’s the house masters that make the rules and decide the policy. It’s their subordinates that often save the empire in the end.

There would one day come a time that the houses would encounter a problem that none of them could solve. Fighters.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #1
By Michael J Pennington.

The Mages Collegium is considered the oldest recognized of the eight houses. The oldest recognized because The Thieves Consortium was there from the beginning of the empire. They were officially recognized much later though. The Collegium is considered the rich man’s house. Anyone who has a little money sends their kids off to the Collegium to be educated. Most learn how to throw a decent fireball and leave. Before long they get out of practice and it’s like they never even learned magic. The school’s real purpose is to find gifted students.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #2
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek Puri Dee Was one such student. Few people knew it but he was descendant of the original emperor. He may even have a claim on the Emporer’s throne if he could prove his lineage. His relationship to the original emperor made his skin dark, but many nobles tried to make such claims. His true claim remains in his blood. God blood they called it useful is spells and potions it granted Zek long life and great power. A danger remained in the empires possession that could prove Zek lineage, but such things matter little to him.

He went to the Collegium seeking answers. He studied there past the age of any normal man, he grew old in appearance, but his blood kept him young physically. He told those who inquired about his age that he was part-elf. This was true to an extent, the first emperor was half-god half-elf.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #3
By Michael J Pennington.

Eventually, Zek realized the answers he sought were not at The Mages Collegium. He realized that Mages for all their study and insight were obsessed with how. How do I cast this spell? How do I make it better? how do I control this force? Zex was a man who wanted to know why. The Mages thought they knew why, as it was told to them by the Patrons, but Zek did not accept this, even if the Patrons spoke truly about “why” he had to prove it to understand it.

His quest leads him to The Fighters Fellowship of all places their artisan weapon makers had learned their skills, not from a Patrons tutelage, but through centuries of innovation and trial and error. It was hard won knowledge and Zek appreciated that.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #4
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek swore off magic except in a defensive capacity. Instead, he learned all he could from the world through experimentation. It was in this way he created a new recipe for steel for the Fellowship’s blacksmiths to use. Fellowship steel was highly praised and sought after.

Zek was working on a new kind of telescope. More powerful than its predecessors. With it, he hoped to study the stars more and their movement more effectively. That is when he got a message from the Emperor.

“Sir Zek…” Said the Messanger. No one called him by his last name. For decades he’s only been known as Zek.

“Not here.” Said, Zek. “Check the meeting hall.”

“I did.” Said the message. “They told me you were here.”

“I’m not Zek.” Said Zek gruffly. “He’s probably down by the blacksmiths forge.”

“You already tried that one too.” Said the Messager. “I ran around this place four times because you kept redirecting me, but someone finally told me what you look like. You are definitely Zek.” He held out a letter to the old man.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #5
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek snatched the letter from the man. “You’re not with the messenger fleet. They give up too fast.” He said. “Courier Guild? They get better wages.”

“No sir.” Said the young man. “The Emperor sent me.” Zek looked up to him for the first time. He was barely but a boy, with a head of thick red hair he was average in height, but not in build, there he was slight. He was pale, extremely so. Covered in freckles red ones. His eyes were slightly dark. As if his pupils were too big. Perhaps a smattering of Changeling in his blood?

“Well, that explains it.” Said Zek. “Nothing like the fear of explaining your failings to a Dread Knight to give a boost to your persistence.”

“I’m not an empirical courier either.” Said The boy. “I’m with the Morticians Union. My name is Delectrose Morta.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #6
By Michael J Pennington.

“You’re a bit young to be a mortician son.” Said Zek looking at him a bit strange.

“I just sort of fell into it.” Said Delectrose.

“Why send a mortician when the empire has their own couriers?” Asked Zek.

“I volunteered.” Said Delectrose. “I’m something of a fan.”

“One of those.” Said Zek. “I got my fill of fans a long time ago.”

“With all due respect.” Said Delectrose. “I’m a fan for myself not for you.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #7
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek shook his head and looked at the letter. It bore the imperial seal. This was never good. It meant some kind of mission. Save the empire or something. The empire literally had an army of mages at their disposal, why did they need him. He was too old to be some kind of Imperial errand boy. Really his god blood made him as spry as the boy next to him but that wasn’t the point. He had done his service. Why won’t the empire leave him alone?

He opened the seal and read the letter:

Master Zek

A matter of grave importance has arisen that needs your immediate attention. Please follow the barrier of this letter to the Throne of Empress Immediately.

It was just as Zek thought.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #8
By Michael J Pennington.

“It would be rude to refuse an audience with the Empress.” Said Zek. “Lead the way Delectrose.”

Delectrose talked as the walked from Zek’s workshop to the Imperial Palace Known as the Saphire Pinnacle. It towered over them with largely pointed spires and ornate archways. It was carved from a giant chunk of dark blue stone known as Blue Ivory. This stone was unique to the area, and grew like crystal, but was most defiantly a stone.

“I’ve never been in the palace before today.” Said Delectrose. “Now I get to go there twice in one day!”

“Seen it.” Said Zek.

“I read your paper on the properties of Blue Ivory!” Said Delectrose. “It was Brilliant.”

“Why would someone who read’s fifty-year-old papers want to be a Mortician.”

“Well, I tried to be a mage.” Said Delectrose. “Didn’t have the knack for it.” It was true, that some just didn’t have the ability to use magic. Many of the rich children who flunked out of the college blamed the instructors but the truth is not everyone could be a mage.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #9
By Michael J Pennington.

The imperial palace was just as beautiful as ever. For all of Zek’s coldness, he was still moved by its beauty. Its elegantly carved walls decorated with gold trim had a slight shimmer to the. One of the properties of Blue Ivory.

The Empress was waiting in the throne room. She was a warrior trained to fight by the Dread Knights, as the princess. It was her right as royal blood to chose one of the Eight houses to study ferocity. Not a popular choice. She was a tall and muscular black woman her long black hair pulled back into a loose braid. She seldom wore dresses as she found them confining. She wore instead a brand of leather armor, it was ornate enough that it looked Imperial but functional enough that she could move and fight if she wanted too.

“Zek.” She said as her cat shaped violet eyes seemed to peer into his soul. She was part changeling on her mother side, her eyes were the only thing that gave it away. “It’s good you came.”

“I sill have manners.” Said Zek. “Now I must decline the mission.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #10
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek began walking away when the Empress called out. “Zek!” Zek felt a twinge of fear go through him. There were many reasons do be afraid of Dread Knights. Thier skill with flail’s and morning stars, and general ferocity in battle, their proclivity for dark gray metal and spikes in their armor designs, their command of telekinesis but their most fearsome weapon by far was the ability to control fear in others. To face a Dread Knight was to face fear itself. This is why they served as the imperial guard.

“Is it just me,” Said, Zek “Or is the child I changed as a baby, the one who I burped over my shoulder, the one who I bent over my knee trying to frighten me.” It was true that Zek used to be close friends with The Empresses father when he was Emperor.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #11
By Michael J Pennington.

“It was a slip.” Said the Empress. “Zek, you know I wouldn’t call you if we didn’t need you.”

“And we do need you.” Said Zek’s old friend and teacher. Aequorpreu he was a gold elf known as the oldest race of elves currently alive. Only one race was older the progenitors of all elf races, but they were long gone. He was the head of the Mages Collegium and was going Zek to be his successor. He was quite upset when Zek left the guild. Aequorpreu was tall with red hair that had a silver streak through it the only sign of his real age. “There are packs of undead who roam our country roads and fields at night.”

“That’s nothing new they’ve done that since I was a boy.” Said Zek.

“The problem is getting worse.” Said, Delectrose. “The dead are getting more aggressive.”

“There is nothing in any teachings I know.” Said, Aequorpreu. “We need your investigative skill.”

“What about your precious patrons? Surely they have the answer.” Said Zek.

“They have no answer to this.” Said. Aequorpreu.

“What about you?” Zek asked of Delectrose. “Are you some kind of undead expert.”

“I’m an expert in the red elf language. Self-taught.” Said Delectrose.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #12
By Michael J Pennington.

“If the blood elves have the answer why not ask their Patron?” Zek Asked. “Or is he indisposed at the moment?”

“This is not a conversation for open areas.” Said Aequorpreu. “Please let’s go someplace where we can discuss things privately.”

Zek was intrigued enough to oblige. So the four of them retired to the war room and the guards were sent out so the matter could be discussed without anyone else hearing.

“Regardless of what’s said here Zek, I want your promise it does not leave this room.” Said the Empress.

“You have my word Delfi.” Said Zek. The Empress turned to Delectrose.

“Yes. Of Course.” He said. The Empress nodded and Aequorpreu Spoke. “It’s true the Patrons aren’t always forthcoming with their wisdom, but it has been known by the Empire that the Patron of Fate, the Patron of the Red Elvis has been missing for quite some time.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #13
By Michael J Pennington.

“A Patron is missing?” Asked Zek.

“This is strictly confidential.” Said Aequorpreu.

“So the dead can not be sent home?” Asked Zek. It was the Patron of fate that saw the souls of the dead to their final resting place. One of the many Heaven’s or the thousands of hell’s without him it meant the dead were trapped.

“That’s right.” Said Delectrose. As a mortician, it was his job to perform the sacred rituals over the dead that invoked the patron of fate. “Now matter how many times we pray for someone their corpses still come back. We can barely contain it without the public knowing.”

Zek Finally understood the gravity of the situation. It was only a matter of time before the dead overran the world.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #14
By Michael J Pennington.

Elsewhere there is a monastery its students practice in front of a watchful teacher. “What are the four elements?” He asked them.

Their hands moved smoothly through the air as they practiced their martial skill. They brought their hands close together and pulled them apart as motes of dust form at their fingertips. “Earth.” They said in unison.

They continued to practice and as the pushed their arms away a gust of wind can be felt as the many candles in the temple flickered. “Wind.” They chanted.

Then they cross their arms and spread their fingers wide, and then uncross tiny droplets of water follow their fingers. “Water.” They say.

Finally, the bring their hands close together almost touching, sparking can be heard as little bolts of electricity can be seen passing between their fingers. “Lightning.” They recite.

“Good.” Said the master. “What are the four Masters of the Elements?”

As they practice Rocks rise in front of them. “Weakness the force that decays.” The rocks break apart into smaller rocks.

“Strength the force that binds.” They say as the rocks reform.

The rock splits into two and becomes metal. “Magnetic Force the one that pulls and repels metal.” The pieces dance around each other.

“The void the force that pulls all things together.” They say as the two pieces of metal come together and then shrink into nothingness.

“Good.” Said the master. “What makes fire?”

The students brought their hands together and extend their fingers. “Fire is a tower that stands on three pillars.”

“Food!” They say and a piece of wood lifts in front of them.

“Heat.” They recite as the wood begins to smoke.

“And breath from clean air.” They say as the wood catches on fire.

“Good.” Said the master. “Why do we recite these truths every day?”

“These are the nine points of truth.” Say the initiates continuing to practice. “Truth is light and nothing is faster than light. We study these truths so we can become like light and pursue its truths for eternity.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #15
By Michael J Pennington.

While the students practice, one of its masters addresses one of their long time students. The master is a Gnome one of the last left in the world. She was of a dying race. Gnomes were as long-lived as the elves, longer even, but they had lost the ability to have children a long time ago. So slowly there numbers dwindled she was one of four alive. Unlike the elves who were eternally young, she bore every year of her age on her tiny child size frame.

“What do you have to say for yourself?” She asked the student.

Her student was a Changeling. Beast men they called them. Once the Changelings lived up to their names able to shift between human and animals forms, but that too was lost to the ages, now they live life as both men an animal. Stuck somewhere between both forms. This Changeling was a Flying Fox if there was ever a tribe of Flying Fox Changeling’s they died out long ago. Largo was what was known as “Human Born.” Changelings were hereditary, but sometimes a child was born Changeling with no blood connections at all. Largo’s parents were so shocked to see their Changeling child, they gave him to the monastery. Largo fox shaped head was bowed in shame. He placed his hand’s which were folded wings together. His thumb and index finger were his only normal sized digits.

“I have nothing to say.” He said.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #16
By Michael J Pennington.

“I don’t accept that.” Said the old Gnome teacher. “You were the best of us, you must have had a reason for this?”

“I stand by what I said.” Said Largo. The Ministry of Light had been his home since he was a child. He knew no other life, but he could not tell them the truth. No matter what. “I have nothing to say.”

“Don’t do this to yourself Largo,” Said the Master she was pleading with him. “If you do not defend yourself the Grandmaster will have to banish you from the Monastery. Do you want that?”

“No.” Said Largo with tears in his eyes. “No, I don’t.”

“Then fight!” She said. “As your master and friend, I commend it.”

“No Morning Due, it is too late for that.” Said Largo. “Besides I can not follow a command I know to be wrong. Tell the Grandmaster I have decided to leave the order.”

“If that is your wish.” Said Morning Due.

“My wish does not matter. It is what is right.” Said Largo. With that Largo, the Flying Fox Changing picked up Morning Due the Gnome and they hugged like old friends for the last time, and Largo left the Monastery that had been his home since his parents left him there so many years ago.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #17
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek and Delectrose were joined by the Empress’ personal guard Valen Shadowfall A Dread Knight second in skill only to the Empress herself. Valen was young for an elf, just seventy years, she and the Empress played together. She was what was sometimes described as a blue elf, but the Thro as they call themselves find the term highly offensive.

“I’ve never been on a skyship before!” Cried Delectrose showing more excitement his companions.

“This human knows that we are on a serious mission.” Said Valen.

“Humans are a short-lived,” Said Zek. “The young ones like Delectrose are full of energy.”

The trio was making their way to the docks to board the airship Lunogs the Empress’ personal sky yacht. It was not the most formidable ship in the fleet but it was the fastest. Skyships were the safest way to travel in this time.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #18
By Michael J Pennington.

“I don’t know said Delectrose I think I could be a still love the thrill of discovery!” He and Valen were sitting on the deck of the ship looking over the world as it became smaller. “Skyships are not new, the plans had been around for millennia, but they fell out of style for a long time. Only when travel by road became too treacherous did the old skylines become profitable again.”

“Thank you.” Said Valen. “Do you always prattle on like this?”

Some men were moving Delectrose’s bags from the deck down to his cabin. “I suppose it’s a weakness of mine.” He said begrudged. “I just want to know everything I can. I love learning and I love experiencing new things. For instance, you are the first Thro I have ever met. That is exciting!”

“I’m thrilled for you.” Said Valen.

“I just have so many questions.” Said Delectrose.

“My people are secretive we do not answer questions about ourselves.” Said, Valen, as she walked away.

“I know that I was just hoping you could make an exception!” Delectrose yelled after her. “Such a fascinating person.” He said to himself. He noticed one of the men of the ship drop one side of a particularly large trunk of his. “Hey! Be careful!”

“What’s in here?” Asked the sky sailor. “It weighs a ton.”

“Scientific instruments.” Said Delectrose. “Fragile, scientific interments.”

Zek had been watching Delectrose from afar. A smile crossed his lips for the first time in what seemed forever. The more he saw of the young man the more he was reminded of himself as a young man.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #19
By Michael J Pennington.

“Skyships work on a simple principle, much like a hot air balloon, but mages change the air in the balloon which is a kind of gas to another one. One so light it could lift an entire ship. The downside was the gas was very explosive, this is why the ships fell out of favor. A few too many firey crashes made people scared of them.” Said Delectrose.

“I know this.” Said Zek. “Why are you telling me this?”

“No one else will talk to me.” Said Delectrose

“You ever think you talk too much?” Asked Zek.

“I can’t help it.” Said Delectrose. “I talk when I’m scared.”

“And what are you afraid of?” Asked Zek.

“Failure.” Said Delectrose. “So much rest on our shoulders, if we don’t find an answer, things will get very dire for the empire.”

“Is this your first time saving the empire?” Asked Zek as he worked. Time was not a luxury, Zek needed to spend every moment he could to work on this problem. He had a undead brought on board so he could study and examen it. It sat moaning in its cage its hand outstretched at Delectrose.

“Yes.” Said Delectrose. “It seems crazy to me that you would even ask. How many times have you saved the Empire?”

“More than I can count.” Said Zek. “The Empire will endure, we just need to do our part. Now help me dissect this undead.”

“Dissect it?” Asked Delectrose in horror. “But it’s not dead, well not really really dead anyway.”

“And that’s the problem?” said Zek. “If I’m going to figure out why I’m going to have to figure out how they work. Do you care so much for such a creature.”

“Well he was human once.” said Delectrose uncomfortable.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #20
By Michael J Pennington.

The dissection of the undead went well enough the dead don’t feel pain, a least not external pain. The biggest problem was keeping him still. The ship’s crew helped with that having handled undead before they wrangled the creature onto a medical table and strapped it down.

Delectrose was marveled to see Zek work. He left nothing to chance he examined every last detail. He made notes of how the mussels didn’t work as they did in living creatures, how the breathing and moaning sounds seemed to be more out of habit than anything.

“He seems to like you.” Said Zek. Noting that the undead creatures eyes follow it everywhere.

“You think so?” Asked Delectrose.

“Yes. It hasn’t taken its eyes off you.” Said Zek. “Come closer.” As Zek moved closer the undead seemed to get more agitated.

“I don’t think this is a good idea.” Said Delectrose.

“It’s okay, come closer.” Said Zek. Delectrose stood next to Zek and the reanimated dead, the dead seemed to be filled with great energy, and strength. “Give me your hand.”

Delectrose gave Zek his hand. Zek took it closer to the corps who was practically frothing at the mouth now. “Don’t!” Said Delectrose as he tried to pull his hand away, but Zek was deceptively strong.

“Fascinating.” Said Zek. With Delectrose so close the undead had the strength to pull its hand free of its restaurants. It grabbed Delectrose’s hand.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #21
By Michael J Pennington.

Contact between Delectrose and the undead seemed to increase it’s strength ten fold, its body began to transform. Its body grew in size several times and its muscles seem to triple in size the new monster seemed to be more alive than the husk it had been. Its eyes had gone crazy it howled with madness. Zek let go of Delectrose and the boy pulled his hand free of the monster.

With the monster at their heals the two of them made their way up to the deck. “What is that thing?” Asked Delectrose.

“I don’t know!” Said Zek. “I’ve never seen anything like it before.” The monster continued to change it had now grown an extra pair of skeletal arms and some wing-like appendage on its back.

It chased them to the edge of the deck, its mouth dripping with drool it seemed to have lost all sentient thought it was ravines with hunger. Zek turned to face it fire forming in his hands, Delectrose found an oar and brandished it as a weapon.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #22
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek was preparing to attack the monster with a fireball when Delectrose cried “Wait!”

Zek looked at his young friend who pointed up at the large gas filled balloon above. Zek nodded and changed to ice attacks. Fire was more effective against the undead but ice and water would prevent explosive fiery death.

The monster was fast for his size and the two had not much time to formulate a plan. Zek’s ice attacks slowed him down some but Delectraose was completely ineffective with his oar. The monster was still focused on him, its attention never seemed to waiver, and despite Zek’s best efforts, it managed to corner Delectrose.

With a swipe of its many arms, it batted the young man to the ground. All seemed lost for Delectrose Morta as the monster loomed over him like a hungry predator. All was not lost as the spiky ball of Valens flail exploded through the monster’s chest.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #23
By Michael J Pennington.

Even the new threat did not deter it from going after Delectrose. Valen used her telekinetic power to pull the spiky ball back to her which held fast to the monster’s chest. She pulled it away from Delectrose.

The ship’s crew came out with their weapons drawn and got between Zek and Delectrose and the monsters. Valen also maneuvered to be in the path of the monster. She used her telekinetic force to rip the ball from the monster’s chest. The ball landed in her hand and the chain of her flail seemed to magically reattach.

The monster was strong but seemed not to know which of the many enemies to fight. It’s four arms swung furiously as it tried to kill the many attackers.

The ships mage who was assigned to keep the ship running, his magical skill kept the ship afloat, and help with sailing. It was good work for magic users who had skill but not gold. He saw the monster and he used his fire. Delectrose tried to warn him to but it was too late. The fireball had already left his hands.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #24
By Michael J Pennington.

The fireball missed the undead monster completely, instead, it hit the sail of the ship. It’s fabric catching on fire. The mast rose up to where it was tethered to a giant balloon if that fire reached that balloon the explosive gas inside would ignite.

“Get the Fire!” called Valen “I’ve got this!” She said hitting the monsters head with her flail. She then pushed it away with Telekinesis. She was maneuvering the monster. Closer and closer to the edge. It may be undead, but it could not fly.

Zek saw what she was doing and created a path of ice behind it. “Now!” He said. With a firm push of her telekinesis, the monster tumbled over the rail of the ship. It just managed to catch itself on the rail.

The spiky ball on Valen’s Flail once again took flight, detaching itself from its chain. It flew at the monster’s hand smashing through the rail and sending it flying off the edge to the ground below.

“We got ’em!” Said Delectrose holding his oar up triumphantly!

To which, Zek and Valen looked at with looks that said. “We?”

“Mostly you.” Said Delectorse. Then he looked at his oar. “Say why would they need an oar on a skyship anyway?”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #25
By Michael J Pennington.

The ship rocked as the heat from the flames caused the gas in the balloon to ignite. “Unfortunately!” Cried Zek. “The battle against the fire didn’t go as well. ” As the balloon began to burn away the ship began to lose altitude rapidly.

“Abandon Ship!” Cried the captain.

The ship’s crew made their way to the edge of the ship and began jumping off deploying some kind of silk wings that let them glide to the ground. “What about us!?” Cried Delectrose.

“There are lifeboats!” Called Valen.

They ran as fast as they could to the lifeboat. It too was a type of glider. The ships mage was already inside. Preparing to launch. “Wait!” Called Zek.

The mage was about to release the glider before the others could get on, but it was Valen who stopped him. By jerking him out of his seat. She got in and so did the others. The ground was approaching fast a thick forest of tree’s Fire was raining down all around them. Valen, Zek, and Delectrose all got in and strapped in. The ships mage dove back into the glider as Valen pulled the lever to release the ship.

Valen had only a moment to sear it away from the burning ship as it hit the ground and exploded into a gigantic fireball.

The glider didn’t have time to gain altitude the canopy was too close. Instead, it crashed through the upper branches of trees. The branches ripped away the wings and any hope of a soft landing. The glider shot through the forest like a missile, as the ground came up fast and hard Valen cried. “Brace yourselves!”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #26
By Michael J Pennington.

It had been night when the ship had crashed. Now the light of day shined through the canopy. Delectros awoke to headaches and unfamiliar surroundings. He looked himself over, scrapes and bruises, but no bleeding, he was thankful.

Smoke from the skyship was still billowing into the air. He looked around and saw nobody. The ‘life boat’ must have broken apart when it hit the ground, somehow Delectrose seat remained in tact.

“Well,” He said to himself. “I seem to have fared better than the ship… The ship!” He then remembered what he left on the skyship, and with a new, sense of urgency, he undid his buckles and straps. He freed himself and began to run in the direction of the smoke.

The wreckage of the skyship had burned itself out overnight and was now a smoldering pile of burnt wood. Some of the ship’s crew had gathered nearby. They had cornered an undead. Not the same one from before this one was older, ancient even. It’s skin a dried leathery husk, and its clothing was but decaying rags. This undead was more docile than the one from the previous night, and the ship’s crew had captured and bound it easily.

“What do we do with it?” Asked one of the men.

“We burn it.” Said The Captian. “Best thing for getting rid of the undead.”

“Wait!” Cried Delectrose.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #27
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek awoke, the sky was still dark. His body had been impaled on the broken branch of a tree. He hung several feet off the ground. He was lucky an inch or so to the left and it would have impaled his heart. He looked around to see if anyone was watching. He had to get himself down before he was seen like this. Only those who possess the god-blood can sustain such injuries and yet live.

Zek did his best to shift his weight and pull himself free but it was no use. He could not find leverage. There was nothing for it. He grabbed the branch with one hand and began casting a spell with the other. Tree’s like all life forms were filled with water and that was what Zek drew out of the branch. Without its water, the tree became dry and brittle. Zek then began to build a new power.

His hair began to rise into the air and which filled with a popping sound. Few mages new this trick but Zek was among them. Lightning was rarely seen outside a storm but it could be called. The energy builds up in intensity till the very air arched around him. The crash of lighting came suddenly like a dam bursting. Zek screamed in pain as the tree he was impaled on was shattered into a thousand pieces. The waves of lighting power washing through him.

He landed on the ground, smoking bleeding and sore, but he would live.

That’s when he looked up to see Valen.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #28
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek stood up, and Valen knelt onto one knee.

“You have the god blood.” Said Valen.

“Get up!” Said Zek. “If I wanted to be treated like royalty I would have revealed myself long ago.”

“But.” Said Valen. “If you have the god blood it’s your duty to serve as emperor. At very least, you could join your blood with that of the Empress and restore the god blood to the throne.”

“Valen those things are not going to happen. I want you to listen to me very carefully, what I tell you can not repeat to anyone else…”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #29
By Michael J Pennington.

The light of dawn was shining through the forest. Tsoonph was making its morning pass through the sky. The moon streaked across the heavens in its mad dash to circle the world twice a day. Zons and Wobs the twin moons could be seen in the distance. Thier presence in the morning sky signaled the approaching fall. Lunogs the biggest moon and its partner Tsoonph the smallest moon that lived in Lunogs shadow had already set. Zek hated not being at home, his study of the five moons was at a critical juncture. If he could understand how the five moons circled the world he could learn so much about it.

But there would be no world to understand if the undead problem continued unabated. Zek was convinced that Delectrose was the key. He only hoped that the boy survived the crash.

Valen had agreed to keep Zek’s secret it was for the good of the empire. Once she knew the particulars it didn’t take much for Zek to convince her. They were making their way back to the wreckage of the ship. They both agreed that it was the most logical place for people to find each other.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #30
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek and Valen were a long way away from the wreckage of the ship, as they walked until the sun was shining in the sky. On their way they found the ship’s mage looking lost and confused. He was nursing a broken arm. He saw the two of them and tried to run the other direction, but ran into a tree.

Valen glowered at the mage and Zek felt a prickle of fear in his heart. “You!” She demanded. “You tried to leave us!”

“I’m sorry! It was every man for himself up there!” Said The Mage.

Valen picked him up whit her telekinesis, she pulled him in close and held him by his Robes. “Skyship code says passengers before crew!”

“Valen.” Said Zek. “This poor man was just scared. He probably became a ship’s mage to pay for the Collegium’s tuition.”

“He’s right!” Said the Mage. “I’ve only been on the job a week now. Please don’t kill me!”

“He almost got us killed. It was his fireball that destroyed the ship.” Said Valen.

“Valen.” Said Zek his voice as smooth as milk. “Dread Knight code say’s to hold yourself to a higher standard than others.”

Valen took a deep breath. “You’re right my m…” She caught herself. “My friend.” She set the Mage down.

That is when they heard Delectrose’s scream. “Wait!”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #31
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek and Valen arrived on the scene. “Why should we not burn this undead?” Asked The Captin. “What’s he to you?”

“He’s important to my research.” Said Delectrose. “Yes, that’s it.”

“Wasn’t your research what created that monster last night?” Asked the Captin. “You can find a new corps for your research when were are safe in a town. We burn this one.”

“Wait! I need this one!” Said Delectrose. “He’s different.”

“Necromancer!” Cried the Ships Mage.

Delectrose looked surprised and became deathly pale. Paler than normal. Making his red hair look even brighter on his head.

Everyone looked at the Mage to see what he was talking about. “Don’t you see!” He said. “The dead are drawn to them, did you see the way that creature wanted to get to him! He must have tried master it and lost control of it. He’s a necromancer I’m sure of it.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #32
By Michael J Pennington.

Delectrose was standing in front of the corps, some men had tied ropes around its neck but it was otherwise unbound. “Me?” Said Delectrose pointing his hands at himself. “A necromancer.” He held up his fingers and said. “No, no, no,” He put his hands together. “You’ve got me all wrong. This corps is very important to my research.” He held up one hand finger razed as if lecturing his students. “He could be the key to understanding the undead problem.” He held his hands open. “That’s why I need him.” He mocks banged the palm of his hand against his temple. “You’d have to be pretty stupid to think I’m a Necromancer…” It probably would have been a more convincing if the undead behind him wasn’t performing the same gestures as him.

Zek held his hand to the bridge of his nose. “Delectrose.” He motioned for the boy to spin around.

Delectrose turned around and so did the undead. Seeing only the back of the undead, Delectrose and the undead faced forward once again. “What?”

“The undead is following his every move!” Cried the Mage. “Like I said he’s a Necromancer!”

“Kill the necromancer!” Said the crew.

“Dammit!” Said Delectrose. “I forget he does that when I’m nervious…”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #33
By Michael J Pennington.

“Now now guys I can explain!” Said Delectrose.

The crew of the Lunogs seized upon Delectrose the Necromancer. “Kill him!” They Cried.

“Do not touch him!” Cried Zek. “He is under the protection of the Empress!”

“If we don’t kill him he’ll bring more of the undead for sure!” Said the Ships Mage. “You saw what happened on the ship!”

With a little telekinetic push. Valen knocked him to the ground. “You dare defy the Empress.”

“I’m tired of you pushing me around you dam Blue Elf fear witch! What power does the empire have out here?” Said the Mage getting to his feet. “It’s not about the empire it’s about survival, we let him live and we’ll be swamped by undead before we reach the nearest town!”

He regretted it immediately, Valen’s scowl was as dark as her power. It pierced his soul and he felt the full effect of her fear control. He died a little inside that day.

“Zek,” Said the captain. “You know I’m loyal to the empire, but he’s right. I have my crew to think of.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #34
By Michael J Pennington.

“The solution is simple. Give us the boy.” Said Zek. “We will see to his protection until the next town, you and your crew can go a different way. Likely the undead will be drawn to us and your crew will be safer.”

The captain looked at his men, he had a dozen or so good fighters, but he’s seen Valen’s prowess in battle many times, and story’s of Zek’s magical abilities were still legend around the Empire. Still, he felt the advantage in numbers gave him a chance. “I’m sorry Zek,” He said. “I can’t risk the empress finding out about this.”

The fight was on. The captain had made a mistake his crew fought well enough, but a master mage and Dread Knight are no easy marks. Plus the Ship’s Mage was less than useless.

Without fear of damaging the ship, Zek was able to use his most powerful spells, and the crew were no undead monster they most definitely felt pain and cold.

Most of all they felt fear, before long they were run off by Zek and Valen. Leaving them alone with Delectrose.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #35
By Michael J Pennington.

With the crew gone Zek and Valen were left to confront their friend about his secret. “Since when does the Empress keep a Necromancer in her employ?” Asked Zek.

“Since always.” Said Delectrose. “That is what the Mortician Union is, a place where Necromancers go to learn about their powers.”

“To profane the dead and make them into soulless husks to be your slaves.” Said Valen pointing at the undead.

“We don’t profane them!” Said Delectrose. “We help them. At least we did. Once.”

“Help them?” Asked Zek.

“How do you think Souls got to move on?” Said Delectrose. “The Patron of Fate would just show up and whisk them away to their chosen heaven? No. Necromancers used their power to guide them. If they don’t people get suck in the soul void for all eternity. That’s how we help them.”

“But you can’t because Corael is missing.” Said Zek. Corael was the god of fate.

“Yes, with out him our spells don’t work.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #36
By Michael J Pennington.

They began walking not to the nearest town, but instead their desired destination. Darkmon, and the Forgotten Marsh beyond. This was once the where the city of Blood Elf’s resided if there were any answers to find, it would be this foreboding place.

“So how did you become a Necromancer?” Asked Valen. Her disgust was clear.

“I didn’t become one. I was born a Necromancer. It’s not like I was looking in some tome bound in elf flesh and said to myself. ‘Necromancy now there’s a hot idea, I think I’ll start making undead minions!’ My powers didn’t show up till I was older, it tends to be hereditary. I’m an orphan you see, no parents to tell me the big secret. I just kind of discovered it on my own.” Said Delectrose. “Even then I didn’t discover there were others like me for a while.”

“Others?” said Zek.

“At the Union. That’s where they go to share and learn about their powers. Without training a Necromancers powers could be dangerous to themselves and others. Undead are very literal minded, and they react to strong emotions. Like fear and anger.”

“What you say is true of some mage’s,” Said Zek. “They are gifted with great power, but have to learn to control it.”

“Dread Knights training is essential for someone with the power.” Said Valen. “I once feared a bully so bad they couldn’t speak for a year. I did not mean to.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #37
By Michael J Pennington.

The way to Darkmon was treacherous. Undead roamed the world and they seemed to follow Delectrose. “The undead feed off of necromantic energy.” Said Zek.

“We need to get somewhere safe. We can’t keep fending off these monsters.” Said Valen. “Even Dread Knights and Mages need their rest.”

“Please don’t call them monsters.” Said Delectrose. “They are people.”

“When they are attacking me.” Said Valen. “They are monsters.”

“What makes them so aggressive?” Asked Zek.

“We don’t know.” Said Delectrose. “For the longest time, it was just a matter of not being to help them move on. That’s what the others tell me. It’s only recently some dark force has been taking control of them. We can’t even get control anymore. The others said that as long as they weren’t controlled by another they could be taken.”

“So the rumors of Undead attacks only recently became true?” Asked Zek.

“They were always exaggerated, people see an undead they panic. Most undead are attracted to people to life, they want to be close to it. They only really attack when compelled too.”

“So a force is taking control of them?” Asked Valen.

“Yes,” Said Delectrose. “But it would take a powerful necromancer to control so many from so far. And I haven’t read anything that suggests that someone could drain Necromantic power.”

They made camp for the night. Inside a cave, They blocked the entrance and kept a watch. Valen went first.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #38
By Michael J Pennington.

“We need fire wood.” Said Valen. While Zek was sleeping.

“I sent Number-One to get it.” Said Delectrose.

“Number one?” Asked Valen.

“My undead.” Said Delectrose. “He’s quite good at survival skills and the other Undead should ignore him.”

“Can he fight?” Asked Valen. “So far only Zek and I have been shouldering all the burden.”

“There are defensive spells, and the undead will attack if they are commanded, but I would never do that.” Said Delectrose.

“The time may come when you have to defend yourself.” Said Valen.

“Have you ever killed anything?” Asked Delectrose.

“Yes.” Said Valen.

“I have not.” Said the necromancer. “Not in self-defence, not for food, and I have never commanded Number-one to do so. I will not take pleasure in the death of another.”

“I don’t take pleasure in it.” Said Valen. “We live in an unkind world. It often forces us to chose between our morals and our life. You should get some rest.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #39
By Michael J Pennington.

Valen may have been a powerful Dread Knight, but she was inexperienced in the way of adventures. Pried had forced her to take the first shift, and despite the fact that it had ended she chose to let the old man and the boy sleep. Despite being a powerful Dread Knight, Valen’s strength was not limitless. She had been taxed by the day’s efforts and now she needed rest. She told herself she could fight on, but before long sleep won over.

How long did she doze? A minute? An hour? She awoke when she sensed an approaching presence. An undead shuffling in the dark. Without hesitation, she struck out. The spiky ball on her flail launched through the air and straight through the chest of the approaching undead. Several pieces of wood fell to the floor.

“What the hell Valen?” Said Delectrose getting up to look at Number-One.

“Valen?” Said Zek. “Did you fall asleep?”

“No,” said Valen.

“You are late waking me for my watch though.” Said Zek.

“I thought you and the boy could…”

“Never overstay your watch.” Said Zek. “Get some rest, Valen.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #40
By Michael J Pennington.

Valen was having a bad time. It was bad enough that she had failed in her duties, Delectrose was cross for her for a few day’s as they traveled. “I can’t believe you put a hole in Number One!” He constantly reminded her.

Would Zek report her failing? He made no mention of it since it happened. She tried to keep her mind off it.

Valen finally having enough of Delectrose bemoaning his beloved undead. “I thought you had already healed him.”

“I did.” Said Delectrose. “I’m still upset.”

“I can only say ‘I’m sorry’ so many times.” Said Valen.

“Once!” Said Delectrose. “You only said it once.”

“I should only need to say it once.” Said Valen. “Why are you so protective of him?”

Delectrose looked down for a moment. “I call him Number One because he was the first undead to come under my power. I was hurt and alone and could not walk. He just showed up, didn’t do anything. Then, I got hungry, and I wished for some food. He brought it, anything I needed food water firewood. He brought it for me. Finally, I asked him to carry me to the next town. He did. He saved my life. I only wish to repay him by freeing his soul.”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #41
By Michael J Pennington.

With each passing day, thier encounters with the undead became more often and more intense. They seemed to come in waves. The closer they got to the Forgotten marsh the closer more undead they had to wade through, and the more they fought the stronger they seemed to become. Zek and Valen were doing okay fighting them but their energies were wearing thin. The constant threat of battle as well and exhaustion were taking their toll on them.

“I had no idea it had gotten this bad.” Said Zek.

“One can only imagine what the people of Darkmon have to deal with.” Said Valen.

“The undead are growing in power. They are no longer fragile husks.” Said Zek. “We are definitely close.”

There was a rustling in the woods. Zek and Valen were at the ready. Undead began to charge at them, filled with stronger enemies than before and more varieties.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #42
By Michael J Pennington.

Zek fireball burned its way through the corps. It was some kind of bone daemon. His next shout incinerated it entirely.

Valen’s flail smashed through wave after wave of skeletons and corps like undead. Together they beat down wraiths, husk, strange amalgamated undead creatures, skeletal riders, a large flesh giants. Delectrose could only watch as the monsters seemed t come from every angle.

“This is impossible!” Cried, Valen. “We’ll never make it to town at this rate!”

“We have to!” Called Zek. “There is no other way!”

“Stop!” Shouted a voice from above.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #44
By Michael J Pennington.

The Bat creature was learned in the ways of the Monastery, warrior monks who fought with fist and spell. While some other houses depended on the user’s ability, the Monastery boasted they could teach anyone the Way of Light. So long as they were pure of heart.

While many coveted the Monastery’s knowledge few could stand up to the riggers of their training.

He would use his earth skill to make rock spikes and then impale the undead upon them thus immobilizing them. Zek caught onto his tactic and began a similar on with Ice spikes. Valen used her telekinetic skill to trap the undead on the spikes. With the three of them working together they managed to trap most of them.

“I’m losing strength.” Called Valen. Day’s of fighting had all but sapped her power.

“I must admit that I too am growing weary.” Said Zek.

“Just a few more moments!” Cried The Bat creature. “My friends are on their way!”

Nine Houses Story Blog update #45
By Michael J Pennington.

Men and women arrived from the town of Darkmon. One woman wore the trappings of the Thieves Consortium. A leather hood and light armor, but most telling were thieves bow and concealed quiver. The bow was collapsible so it could be easily hidden, and she pulled arrows from a quiver that could not be seen.

The men followed her orders, it was unusual to see a thief in a role of command, but she acquitted herself well.

As the thief used her arrows to bind and pin the undead to trees and rocks. The other men used spears and pitch forks to hold the undead at bay, some of the men were using bolas and nets they seemed to be organized and prepared for this. They surrounded Zek, Valen Delectrose and Number one and began moving as a team to the city of Darkmon.

Nine Houses Story Blog update #46
By Michael J Pennington.

The men brought them to Darkmon and Zek and Valen collapsed from exhaustion. “We found our problem!” Said one of the men. “Looks like we got ourselves some adventures.”

“They have a necromancer.” Said the thief. “He could be useful.”

“I say we gut them and toss their bodies outside to join the flesh walkers.” Said the man.

“We’re here to help.” Said Zek.

“Nobody asked you to!” Said the man. “Bloody adventures coming hear and stirring a turd. How many did you destroy?”

“How many?” Asked Valen.

“Flesh walkers! Undead. How many did you destroy before we got to you?” Asked the thief.

“We don’t know.” Said Zek. “We didn’t keep count. It was a lot.”

The thief looked deadly serious. Her voice grew dark and sullen. “It’s going to be a terrible night.”



3 thoughts on “Nine Houses: The lost house.

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