Summary: Actions have consequences, no matter the intentions. While he said he wouldn’t regret the actions he took to save countless others, Leidolf has come to know what it meant to damn himself by bearing the cursed grimoire. Haunted by nightmares his life continued to spiral further into the abyss as hallucinations followed and the dark hold of the Grey Leather grew stronger as it tried to drag him into the abyss.
Desperate for a solution and his journey takes him into the birch forest of Iceland, where the grimoire hailed from. It was there he would find his salvation in the form of the face-stealer of lore: The Doppelganger.
This [14,000+word] novella is a side story to the Arcane Advent series, taking place a few months after the events of The Dark Bible.
Tags: Arcane Advent, Urban Fantasy, Magic Adventure, Dark Fantasy,
I stopped walking as a pinprick made my soul itch and the pressure of the grimoire’s taint lessened substantially. The bulk was still there behind layers of protection that the new mental blocks afforded, guarding my soul to an extent from the intrusion, but a noticeable amount was just gone. It didn’t take a genius to put two and two together. I turned around.
It was there. Like my own reflection was taken out of a black mirror, a charcoal clone stood there in mimicry of me. Our gazes locked. The fighting started right then.
A cluster of magical energy flowed through the channels that were nestled in my body, like a second cardiovascular system, towards my dominant hand. The fore and middle fingers formed the barrel of a gun and the back of the glove now had the rune of flames ingrained on it. The energy was converted into flames as it passed through the rune. “Ce—”
“—en!” the Doppelganger said in unison with me, invoking the same spell with a flaming bullet of its own. It happened in an instant, but the moment they clashed the two competed over which could swallow the other and snuffed themselves out.
The back of the projection gloves now shone with the orange hue of the rune of the aurochs. As it siphoned from the pool of magical energy I had stored up, Uruz converted it into primal and wild strength. Flooding me from head-to-toe, it would push my body to its limits and beyond if I willed it. I moved while under its power and sought to deliver a crippling strike.
It matched me. My right punch was mirrored by its right. As my left arm came up to brush the strike away the Doppelganger’s left did the same. The blows were knocked away and we separated.
What a pain. If it was mimicking my skills then it was a matter of time before either I got tired or some external factor changed the tide… at least that was what I thought until flames jettisoned from its feet and it exploded forward using the Flame Step movement spell. Damn, it was a trick to make me drop my guard because I assumed it would only move as I did.
Now in front of me and just off the ground, the face-stealer drew its hands back. The air went from searing to chilly in an instant. Crackling followed in the process. It swept its arms towards me while now wielding a weapon.
I retreated sloppily to the side out of instinct and got away with a graze along my cheek that drew blood. The tree behind me didn’t fare as well. It was cut clean in two from the Ice Sword spell that came from the grimoire. The Doppelganger was already coming around and brandishing it for an overhead smash.
I drew my frozen knife and recited that same spell. Magical energy birthed ice and hoarfrost that overlapped the knife. It formed a blue sword of ice roughly my own height that rose to meet its opposite as it came around.
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