Slice of Unlife

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	“...and that is how our bodies generate more mana. Morgana? Young lady, are you paying attention?” 
	“Hm?” Morgana, the young seven year old lich, looked up from her doodles of magical sigils and at her mom, “Mom, I already know this stuff,” Morgana was a lich, just like her mother, with raven black hair that came down to her shoulders, auburn eyes, a cute round face and a button nose. She wore a small, purple set of robes. A little cocky smirk crossed her lips as her mother folded her arms.
	Liana, Morgana’s mother, pinched the bridge of her nose, “And where did you learn about this?” The older lich’s age is unknown to all but the greatest of scholars and even they fear to utter the number. She had striking purple eyes, a mostly blank expression, and white hair that was done in one single, large braid. She wore a stunning red dress that fell over her curves with spats underneath, of course.
	“From that show: ‘The Wizardnauts.’ The one dad likes,” Morgana explained a bit too matter of factly to her mother. 
	The elder lich grit her teeth. If she was alive she might have popped a blood vessel too. She hated that show’s unrealistic depictions of magic and especially how the vacuum of space works, and had forbidden her husband from watching it around the children. He had apparently not heeded her warning, “No. You do not. Listen to the lecture this time or you will not get to play with your sisters at all today.”
	Morgana groaned, thinking she was above such lectures but desperately wanted to go play more Mario Kart with her sisters, “Okay…”
	Liana nodded, turning back to her little white board set up in the makeshift kitchen classroom, “Unlike what ‘The Wizardnauts’ tells you, the body does NOT naturally regain its mana reserves. Humans regain it from the aether around them and what little they ingest in food. Space has no natural aether. ‘The Wizardnauts’ could not cast spells in the vacuum of space like they do in that horrid show,” She didn’t mind the depictions of death or war in that show, just how inaccurate it was, “Monsters on the other hand regain their strength, physical and magical from spirit energy. There are bits of it in the air around us and some in food as well. We can also gain it directly from humans through various means.”
	“Potions too, right?” Morgana asked, trying to demonstrate some of her own knowledge.
	“So you are paying attention,” Although it didn’t show much on her undead face, Liana was delighted. Morgana held her tongue about where she had really learned that from. The lich checked the clock, “We can be done for today. Do some more practice with your levitation magic when you feel up for it. We will have a small test next week on mana as well so be sure to study.”
	“Yes, mom,” The young lich waited for her mother to nod, to give her a non verbal gesture meaning that she was dismissed. She hopped off the wooden chair and dashed towards the stairs, making her way up to where her sisters played. Two more undead children sat on a big couch on opposite ends from one another. 
The first, and the oldest at eleven years of age was Ketela, the zombie dragon, “May! Let me win! It's my turn!” She cried as she furiously tilted her Wiimote to steer Yoshi through Coconut Mall. The zombie dragon had short silvery hair that covered her eyes, long blue-gray horns that protruded from her skull, a pair of similarly colored wings and legs, arms and a tail that were all covered in a bone like material. She wore a white long sleeve shirt with a purple skirt.
	May said nothing as she leaned forward, the classic gamer pose. Despite being only four years old, she was easily the best at games. She leaned into her turn as she took the penultimate turn on Coconut Mall as Funky Kong on the Bowser bike, easily drifting through it then boosting past first place with a mushroom to take the win, “Yes!” She laughed, raising her controller triumphantly into the air. The jiangshi had dark green hair done up in buns with a traditional hat with a charm covered in seal draping in front of her face. She wore a red shirt and denim overalls as well.
	“Let me in the next race,” Morgana demanded as she picked up a controller.
	May frowned, “We’re in the middle of the grand prix! I can’t just--” Using her magic, Morgana restarted the console from a distance, “You could have just waited one more race…”
	“No. I just finished class. I want to play,” The young lich explained.
	Ketela didn’t mind the restart. May had been slaughtering her in the rankings so far. She would rather be playing Super Smash Bros anyways, but was just happy to be playing games with her sisters. She wished their dad wasn’t busy, as he was the only one that could keep up with May, “Just hurry up. I wanna play more. Did you really need to restart it?”
	May hurried through the menus to get back to racing. She picked her usual Funky Kong while Ketela picked Luigi this time and Morgana picked Daisy. Morgana leaned forward as the game began, eager to try as hard as she could to win.

	The young lich leaned back where she sat, sinking into the couch with a big frown on her face. Ninth place overall. May was first, of course, with Ketela tied for fourth with Wario, “Do we HAVE to play mirror mode!?” Morgana cried, “I can’t play when it's this fast!”
	“Come on, Morgana, step it up!” The zombie dragon teased with a grin, just happy to have beaten one of her younger sisters.
	“Stop it, Ketela,” She huffed, folding her arms and pouting.
	“What’s it that dad says to his friends? ‘Get good.’”
	“I’m warning you…”
	“May, can you go to the options and turn down our sister’s suckage?” She giggled at her own joke. Morgana leapt up and stormed off to her room, “Was I too mean?” Ketela asked May.
	She nodded, “You need to go say you’re sorry,” The jianshi was nearly in tears over the little spat between her sisters. 
	With wings, head, and tail drooping, “I should… I’ll let her cool down a little first. Mom’s gonna freak if she starts screaming at me.”

	In her room, Morgana stewed over her tome of magic. It wasn’t nearly as impressive as her mother’s book, but it was hers and she had put it together herself with her own selection of spells. She browsed through it angrily, roughly turning the pages of vellum and staring at the sigils and arcane words, “She thinks she can mess with me just because she’s my big sister?” She stopped on a page, pointing to the spell she wanted, a malicious smile spreading across her lips. Her room was dark and dreary due to the curtains being closed and the walls painted purple. The room was furnished with a bed, a fully stocked book shelf, a dresser, and a little play area where she had a kingdom of toys that she pretended to rule over as its evil overlord.
	Morgana began to prepare the spell, hardly holding back her cackling, “Sister?” Ketela called through the door, knocking quietly, “Are you in there?”
	“Oh, Ketela! Come right in~” The lich grinned as her hand contorted, preparing to launch the spell at her sister. 
	With a few timid steps, the dragon entered her sister’s room, “I, uh, wanted to--”
	With a flash of purple light, a spiralling violet beam shot from Morgana’s hand and struck Ketela in the chest. In an instant, the dragon was shrunk down to a minute size, about six inches tall, “Yes! YES!” Morgana laughed as she jumped from her seat and scooped up her sister, “Now I’M the big sister! And--” She stopped as she saw another form in the corner of her eye.
	May stood in the doorway, her eyes full of water and wide with disbelief, “Y-you…”
	If it could, Morgana’s heart would be racing, “Ssh! May!” 
The jianshi’s cry was building up, tears were rolling down her face and she was starting to sniffle. She tilted her head back and let out a sad wail. She stood wailing in her sister’s room, “Moooommeeeeee!” She cried.
	Morgana heard a THUMP from her parent’s bedroom. The elder lich had just gotten off the bed. With her precise calculations, the young lich knew she only had precious seconds. She took Ketela and stuffed her under some blankets. She ran up to her sister and clamped a hand over her mouth, “SSSH!” She pleaded, “Be quiet and I’ll fix her, squeal and you’re next, okay?” She hissed. Their mother opened the door to her own bedroom and was starting to stomp down the hall. There were only seconds left. May looked her sister in the eyes and nodded, now trembling with fear. 
	Liana creaked the door open and poked her head in, “Is aught amiss in here?” She asked, “Oh, honey, what is it?” She was wearing a deep purple bathrobe now as she knelt down and gave her jiangshi daughter a firm hug.
	“I just… spooked her by accident,” Morgana explained with a sheepish shrug, “I was practicing levitation and nearly dropped…” She looked near the door, “That chair on her,” She pointed to the right, “I’m sorry.”
	“I see,” Liana hefted May up, “Do you need me to take you away from you mean older sister?”
	“N-no, mommy,” May whined, being set down gently. The elder lich kissed her on the forehead.
	“You two play nice,” Their mother left, none the wiser. 
	May turned to her sister, “Now turn her back.”
	“Gimme a minute,” Morgana lifted the blankets and grabbed Ketela.
	The dragon giggled, “Everything is so big!”
	The lich looked around for something to put her sister in to keep her from getting lost. She used her levitation to pick up a jar and dumped out the pens it was holding and went to put her sister in it, “No!” May cried with fear in her eyes, “Don’t put her in the jar! You can’t!”
	“And why not?” Morgana groaned.
“S-She can’t breathe in there!”
	The lich blinked, “She doesn’t need to breathe, May! None of us do!”
	“Oh. Right.”
	“I dunno if I wanna go in the jar,” Ketela protested, her sister holding her in one hand and the jar in the other. She wiggled free and flew to the ceiling.
	May shrieked, “She’s getting away!”
	Morgana growled and used her magic to float the jar up and attempted to snatch up her sister in it. The zombie dragon giggled and laughed as she zipped around the room, annoying her lich sister and nearly making May cry again as she dive bombed them both. Noting her sister’s predictable flight patterns, the young lich moved the jar to intercept her. With the flick of her wrist, the jar moved into place, Ketela smacked into the bottom of it and the lid was put on tight, “There,” Morgana panted, feeling weary all of the sudden.
	May held the jar containing her still giggling sister in her hands, “N-now what?”
	Morgana groaned, not wanting May to tattle on her. She needed to work quickly, “Let me get the reversal spell,” She quickly located her ‘remove enchantment’ spell and memorized the magic words, “Hold the jar out for me.”
	May nodded and squeezed her eyes shut, holding the jar straight out in front of her with trembling hands. Morgana muttered to herself, the words of power leaving her lips and entering the magical aether around her. She thrusted her arm forward, unleashing her mana as she cast the spell. No great beam of violet energy violently burst from her hand, instead naugh more than purple sparks pathetically sputtered from her finger tips, “Uh…” Morgana’s head swirled and her body felt heavy. 
	“Fix her!” May insisted, starting to pout again.
	“I wanna stay small! This is fun!” Ketela laughed, her voice echoing off the glass walls of her prison, “Oh! Put me in May’s Barbie car and push me down a hill! Or in an R/C car!”
	“No! That’s too dangerous!” May whined, “Morgana, fix her!” She pleaded, tears starting to well up in her eyes again.
	Morgana tried and failed once more to cast the spell, “I’m out of mana…” She admitted sheepishly, “I just have to get some more. How did mom say I get more? Food, right,” She put her fist in the palm of her other hand, “May, come on!” 
	The two young undead girls hurried to the kitchen, making sure their parents were still upstairs, “What are we doing?” May inquired as Morgana started to dig through some drawers.
	“We’re going to make dinner. I need the spirit energy,” The lich explained, grabbing a cutting board and a steak knife.
	May nodded and put the jar down, “What are we making?”
	“Spaghetti,” She grabbed a stool and dug through the pantry, “Here,” She handed off a box of dry spaghetti to her sister and grabbed her a deep pot, “You cook those and I’ll cut some bread and cheese for it.”
	“Okay…” May frowned, she didn’t have a clue how to cook but she had seen her dad do this before, so how hard could it be?. She turned on the gas for the stove without igniting it and dumped the spaghetti into the pot with no water. She started to smell rotten eggs but ignored it, that usually happened. 
	Morgana got on another stool and put a baguette on the board along with some mozzarella. May turned up the gas as nothing was happening. The smell was stronger but she continued to ignore it. Ketela sat on the floor of her jar, totally bored. On the other side of the kitchen, the lich brought her knife up high and slammed it down onto the bread, somewhat cutting into it. She was too scared to put her hand anywhere near the cutting board. She brought her hand back up and then slammed it back down, this time targeting the white cheese. She managed to cut it in half in two very uneven chunks. 
	May read the packaging, “Oh, I need water to boil it,” She got down from the stove to ask for help and wandered over as her sister was about to lift the knife again, “Morgana!” She shouted. The lich was startled and let go of the knife, sending it flying into the ceiling. CRASH! One of the lights on the ceiling was smashed, shooting sparks everywhere. Morgana watched the air burst into flame as the gas May had released ignited. With the last bit of mana in her body, she made a shield protecting herself and her sisters from the explosion. BOOM! The kitchen exploded, drawers, cabinets, and the fridge were all blown open, some having their contents spill out as the earth shook. 
	May trembled with fear as the smoke cleared. Everything loose had been knocked over, the paper towels were on fire, the walls all over the room were charred, and, worst of all, her father’s mozzarella was ruined. She turned to Morgana who was now out cold. Ketela was giggling and flying around again, having escaped the jar somehow and once more May started to wail. Within moments, both parents stood, mouths agape, at the carnage before them, “My cheese… not again,” Their father, Barth, sighed.
	“Hi, mom! Hi, dad!” The minute zombie dragon flew up to the two of them.
	“Maaaaaahmmmeeeee!” May wailed from where she sat on the floor, the area around her completely untouched by the flames. 
	Liana couldn’t be mad. The destruction the three had caused was impressive, mostly. With a simple incantation, she removed the shrinking enchantment from her daughter before picking up May and coddling her, “Sssh, it’s alright. Tell me what happened.”
	Barth picked up the unconscious lich and gave her a slight shake, “Out cold,” He commented.
	“Morgana, she--she--” May sniffled through her tears, struggling to speak.
	“I made fun of her so she shrunk me,” Ketela admitted while shuffling her feet sheepishly, “...It was fun while it lasted.”
	“She-- she didn’t have mana to fix Ketela so we came down to make food and I’ve never made spaghetti a-and…” She started to sob again, terrified that her parents would put her in the time out corner for life over this.
	Liana smelled the air. Over the faintest hint of magical energies she could smell the remnants of natural gas. She used some magic to turn off the stove and pick up a few things. She was really glad she had enchanted the house with some fireproofing. The ash would come off easily, “I am just happy the three of you are safe. Perhaps we should order some take out tonight?”
	“Agreed,” Barth groaned, “What about the kitchen?”
	“The girls can clean it tomorrow. Put Morgana to bed and play a game with these two to calm them down. I will call in an order for you four. What do you two want for dinner?”
	The two girls started excitedly shouting about the food they wanted. Barth carried his daughter back upstairs and gently set her in her bed, “Dad?” Morgana weakly called, “Are you mad at me?”
	Barth sighed, “Nah. Just come talk to me or your mother if you need help, alright? We don’t need a repeat of this,” He kissed her on the forehead, “Get some rest. I’ll come get you when dinner is here.”
	“I love you, dad,” The lich smiled and rolled over to get comfortable with a stuffed toy.
	“I love you too,” Her father left, turning off the light as he went. Smiling as he watched daughter rest peacefully.


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