Targon took his place, and the rest of us followed suit. Once the rest of us were in place Latara began inscribing the Runes from the spell book into the clay figure. There was a flow of Power, growing stronger with each Symbol inscribed. At her signal we began to Chant. The Power flow seemed to double as each of us joined in. Then, finally it leveled off and the memories started to flow.
All our memories were open to each other if we'd had the attention to spare to look. The strongest of course were those of the Dracolitch, Seline Deathshadow, master assassin. Or so she had called herself, before the change. Her entire life, Her entire being was flowing through us from the Dracolitch to the clay figure, soon to become living flesh. Her entire life flowing through us and we had to watch those memories without getting caught up in them, without missing a word or even a syllable of our appointed part of the Spell.
Born in a brothel, with no clue as to who or what her father was. Thieves Guild. Assassins Guild. I wanted to look closer here, see what lead to this choice, But I couldn't take the risk. Ah there it was, Her mother's death, a desire for revenge, the discovery of a talent for killing.
Then the Major turning point. The discovery of her draconic heritage.
These memories were too strong. I felt my awareness slipping away, then splitting. Part of me was still standing in the Circle, Chanting. But the rest of me was there, with a young Seline, entering a dimly lit back room of the tavern, that was the cover for the Assassins Guild.
O.k. upon reflection I have to admit that sky cities are likely not an option for here on Earth. The gas bags just have to be too big compared to the size of the living space you're trying to lift with it.
This does not rule out the possibility of both crewed and non-crewed research platforms able to stay aloft indefinitely with little to no support from the ground.
Especially small unmanned lighter than air aircraft/drones.
A small blimp covered in solar cells and designed to catch water from clouds.
Catch water and then float up into the sunshine and break it down into hydrogen and oxygen.
Hydrogen for lift and fuel in a fuel cell to run the electrical systems when there isn't enough sunlight.
Powers, abilities, and other details.
O.k. first off, as the idea was to weaponize them then it follows that they must have some combat abilities. And they do: all Necro-Snails can generate a stun field out to a ten feet radius. And Necro-Ghouls can fire a stunbolt up to fifty yards. Spawners are often able to cast spells and or use psi-Powers. And both Ghouls and Spawn are able to weild most normal weapons.
Beyond these basics, it's a grab bag, Any spell that can be Cast from a Wand, Rod or Staff was tried. And if the control aspect had worked they would have been quite formidable. Each Spawn could control up to two Ghouls or fifteen Snails or any combination there of. With a Ghoul being able to control five or six Snails.
Each Snail would have from one to three spells inscribed on it, with three or four charges and the ability to absorb incoming spells and or lifeforce to recharge.
As well as the digestive acids and draining touch that go with their basic feeding process.
The problem, as noted above, was in the control aspect, memory retention linked to how to Snails were made.
There were two ways of making a Necro-Snail. The slow way, which let you customize the spells, and avoidedthe memory retention problem, Well, mostly. Someone with a strong enough sense of self could still be a problem. But the odds were way better this way. But the process was slow, a full day, or more to inscribe the spells needed to make just one Snail.
We'll ignore the time needed to make the ink as it was needed for both methods, and could be made in large batches, assuming you had the ingredients.
The second way used one spell, and a vile of the Ink, to copy the inscription from the casting Spawn onto the snail-to-be. Much faster, but now you're copying the memory boosting Runes.
There is a way around this problem, and I'm not sure why it wasn't used. Likely there is some detail in the process that makes it trickier than it would seem to be at first glance.
The idea is to simply inscribe the Runes you want to use on a skull and use it as your template rather than your own head. But, As I said, there must be some detail to the process that makes this complicated and not the easy answer it seems to be.
The term Necro-Snail refers both to the creature and the spells used to create one. I say spells because, even though they are all the same base enchantment, requiring some bit of a Necro-Snail as the material component, there are several variations that allow the subject to retain greater or lesser amounts of their original being during the transformations. Of which there are three, if everything goes right.
First is from freshly dead spell subject to Necro-Snail.
Second, once the snail has consumed enough raw materials, into a Necro-Ghoul. More about that stage in a bit.
Third, if all went well, Necro-Spawner
If things did not go well, or if the Necro-Snail was one that formed spontaneously, the third form will be a mongrel amalgam of all the beings that were consumed along the way by both the Snail and Ghoul forms.
This "final" form being will automatically have the Necro-Snail Enchantment and its skull will transform into a Necro-Snail at death unless steps are taken to prevent it.
The Snail form is the size of a human skull, having the shape of a normal snail shell in back, and the look of the face bones, (minus the lower jaw) to the front, with the snail body below.
The Ghoul form takes the snail form and places it atop a humanoid body with see through skin and flesh. Which become more opaque over time. The head still looks mostly like a skull shelled snail with the eyestalks protrudingthrough the eyesockets of the skull.
Once the Ghoul form has consumed enough raw materials it becomes a Necro-Spawner. A bald, ear-less humanoid with corpse white skin and a snail shell pattern "tattoo" on the head. The eyes are still eyestalks, although when retracted they look almost like normal eyes. Which can allow these creatures to pass as human around 80 percent of the time.
Sometimes there are runes and other arcane symbols on the head and body. These are the mark of a more complex form of the enchantment which allows the Necromancer to retain far more of their original being than would otherwise be the case.
These beings are insane to one degree or another due to being an amalgam of all the beings that were consumed along the way. In snail form the main drive is to consume as many dead and dieing creatures as possible so as to transform into the next stage.
The Ghoul form is the most unstable as each fragment attempts to gain control.
The Spawner form tends to be more stable as at this point one fragment has gained control or the fragments have merged into a single mind. Although such control/merger may be incomplete and unstable.
Necro-Snails occur "naturally", or at least spontaneously, along the banks of the Styx. And are sometimes found in the living world at sights of massive death and dying
The Yun-Xi and their Necromancer allies discovered Necro-Snails during the War and attempted to adapt them for their own ends.
On the whole this did not go well.
The spell and spawn process did allow some Necromancers to escape death by becoming Necro-Spawners without losing too much of themselves along the way. The other intended use, that of conscripting enemy dead in to the ranks of the Necromancer's army. Was a complete failure, due primarily to the very things they were hoping to exploit. Namely the retention of memory.
One can talk to the dead, with the right spells. But once you make them undead that stops working.
The Necros were seen as a way around this. But the retention of memory and a sense of self lead to rebellion against their controllers. And the project was mostly abandoned. But no effort was made to clean up the related mess. So there are still Necro-Spawners out there.
And every now and then someone with a strong enough sense of self will come back as a Necro-Spawner with memories of their former selves. And sometimes they can even be fully restored.
We looked at each other and nodded.
"We're doing this then; Right. So, where do I fit ? " Targon ask as we all gathered round the work table at the start point.
"First we bleed into the flask here, until it's up to this mark. Then we mix that with the powdered Dragonbone in this bowl. That will link us to each other and the Dracolitch. Then you will take your place in the Guardian's circle over there. Once the lines start glowing you will be able to step out of the small circle and travel freely around the perimeter. You'll have a view as if this were the edge of the island. And your job will be to warn us of anything if anything big enough to break through the spells shows up." I explained as we each took the ritual knife and added our blood to the flask.
I felt a rush of power as my blood dripped into the flask and we became linked. In that moment I gained a deeper understanding of the allure of Blood Magic.
Then I poured the blood into the bowl of powdered Dragonbone.
The world went away for a moment, or an eternity, and when I was able to notice details again I was happy to see that none of us had fallen. Although it was clearly a near thing.
I felt the Dragon's pleased laughter in my/our minds *"Impressive. You are a party worth joining."* she said/Thought.