This is a love story with a twist…
The Birth of a Necrophobic Necrophiliac
by Randy Fasig
“Oh yes they have very good timing.” The crystal staff was held at arms length. “ The day will come when you find me not listening to you either.” The shoulders shrugged. “Oh well we have the time now for Laurant. Shall we destroy the town or just the port?”
The spell was cast and Hroth disappeared from the hills northeast of Westport. The stones he had placed on the ground before claiming the pass had not been disturbed. He landed right beside the x tipped arrow he had arranged using the small gray stones.
The town could be seen from here and he could be there in about an hour. “Walking is just so
unmaji like. Why do I do it?” Nothing answered.
There was no wall or gate so he entered unchallenged. Holding the staff in front of him he began to speak. The locals watched. “So have you decided yet? Where should I start, here or over at the docks?” Giving the staff a violent shake a few laughs came from the towns folk.
Hroth’s minds were decided. He walked toward the sea.
“So, it is a town dependent on the water. Shall we destroy them with water?” He stared at the staff. “Fire? Lightning? No of course, that’s it! All of them.” A smile broke through the unkempt beard. He reached across with his left hand and pulled up the right sleeve exposing a crystal bracer that matched the skull cap and staff. The staff moved to his left hand so he could repeat the operation on the other arm. Both sleeves were tucked behind the upper end of the bracers. “Now you can all see that I am the true master of death in this realm. Watch as I claim this hovel as my own.” The staff went back to his right hand with a flick of the wrist. To the onlookers, it almost seemed to jump from one hand to the other.
The guard had heard of the man who was touched by the gods and a squad came to see that he caused no trouble. They resented having to watch a crazy old man. Hroth stood by a dock with both arms raised while he shouted at the ocean.
The sea erupted, as a huge wave eighty feet long and forty feet high formed at the docks edge. A face formed near the center where Hroth stood. “Why am I here?” It sounded similar to a stream running shallow over rocks, but the words were clear.
“This pouch full of oils is yours. Bring others to share if you wish, but to earn it, you must destroy this place and all within your reach.”
“You promise me leather?”
“With seven different oils inside.”
“Let me see.”
As Hroth opened the pouch the wave sent a stream of water forward knocking the guards, now running toward Hroth’s back, off their feet.
“Look well, seven vials each a different fragrance but for you they contain a new flavor and texture in each.”
“I will not share. Your tiny places shall be destroyed.”
“Excellent!” Hroth tossed the pouch into the wave. “I will take care of the rest.” He turned and walked back towards the center of town as the wave crashed into the first buildings, then reformed and began again.
Along the way, palm fire graced the thatch roofs of building after building, setting them ablaze. As more of the guard arrived, lightning was loosed from the staff’s end killing three of the eight men. “That was a good idea! Do it again, but this time the town is the target not the people. Well, not yet.”
Hroth began to float upwards. Suddenly a trench ten feet wide cut the town in half, knocking down buildings as it went beneath them. He turned to see the fire was now burning well and had become large enough for his purposes. The arms were again raised and he shouted at the flames.
A thirty foot tall humanoid form rose from the conflagration. “Who has summoned me?”
“I have. This town from the trench to its end is yours. Do with it what you will.”
“And for this service what do I receive?”
“The mahogany, oak, pine, thatch and anything else you can find within the area. If you wish for more than I am providing, then perhaps I can include the orchards that are beyond the town.”
“I shall burn it all.”
“Enjoy yourself while I go to the other side.” The earlier smile became a smirk as he flew past the trench. Bolts from crossbows passed him as he again floated in place. Pointing at the offending group, a globe of blackness went forth from his hand and exploded. Several of the men were knocked from their feet, others just limply collapsed where they were. The arms rose again as Hroth began to shout at the ground itself.
A column of earth rose before him, slowly taking form. arms grew from the sides, the lower portion split into legs and the top rounded into a head. The eyes opened, and a voice boomed, shaking walls as it traveled through the city. “Who hath brought me to this place?”
“I did.” Hroth floated there without fear, he knew this being well.
“You again! Your last experiment failed. Why should I help you?”
“This is no experiment. There is nothing for you to do except smash the puny things and their constructs.”
“What is it to me if they construct things?”
“Nothing. They are in my way so I ask the favor. I would of course repay at your convenience, or we could once again bargain for the service.”
“Favor it will be, and you will pay now.”
“In what form would you like payment?”
“All of the moving things that are smashed must move again. I want to experiment.” The grin spoke of other things.
“It shall be done this night, Vuder Aarde.”
The destruction began.
I then went to some local farms and hired those who wished to work. That evening they met me at the spot where the road entered the now ruined city. “I have a golden emperor for each of you.” That got their attention away from the destruction. “All you need to do is go into the city and bring me the bodies. I only want the ones that are whole, if it has pieces missing, just leave it.”
“What happened to the city?”One of the farmers asked.
“I destroyed it. You will be safe, the destructive magic is over. It will however return if the bodies are not removed and piled out here. That would of course endanger your homes.”
The locals went into the rubble. Their fear showed, the greed from earlier had all but evaporated.
When the first pair came out with a body they walked toward the archmaji who began to back away from them.
“No! Not here by me, over there, near the old wall.”
It took most of the night, but the city was left devoid of the dead. I paid them and gave some bonus advice. “The remaining valuables in there are yours, take them after you rest, for at dawn the destroyer will return for those.” I aimed the staff at the pile of bodies, some bloated from the sea or charred and blistered by the intense heat.
The farmers ran. I began the rite to fulfill my bargain with the lord of the earth.
* * *
I returned home as always after major battles. I did not require the place so much as the company it provided. My apprentices were off still fighting the war. They were not the company I sought. My wife as always, was waiting in her chair, placed in my room just for that purpose.
She was staring at the corner when I appeared, rising to greet me. The cracking of joints could be heard across the room. There was no grimace, no change of the loving expression at all.
“We must again fix those noises, and perhaps insure that you are properly preserved before I leave again in the morning.”
Without a word she moved toward me, my hand rose to caress her pale gray face. The chill of death was there, had been for many years now. Placing a kiss upon her lips while leaving the staff in the corner I led her to the bed.
Her skin was smooth as she dropped the robe and laid down, I admired the gray pallor that had become her normal tone. Removing the skullcap, bracers and my own robe, I joined her. With a few simple effects, she was both warmed and moistened in the areas required.
Her death, 25 years ago, had left me feeling alone and I wanted her back. I was a wizard, almost a mage and knew much of death. My father’s public execution, when I was but a child, left me in fear of it and all things dead.
The magic of death was not a familiar one for me, so I investigated. The fear did not leave me in much of a position for personal discoveries. I did learn that I could preserve the body, in the same way militant war wizards preserved food for the long journeys their troops made.
After confessing this to a necromancer, and closing off the room so I would not have to come near her again, things changed. I knew that I still wanted her in ways that seemed unnatural, I asked the necromancer to bring her back for me.
It was at this point that I was accepted as an apprentice of necromancy. I was about to become specialized.
According to the necromancer it lasted for years, but unsure of my own talent in the area and even less certain of how it would work or last on her, I renewed the preserving technique weekly, well it was better to be safe.
I paid two local women to come in bathe her and change the garments that had been soiled by her death. That was when rumors began to run through the town.
The man who feared death and anything dead was keeping his dead wife! He would not even go near a piece of raw meat. What could he possibly want with her? That question produced other talk.
What bothered me was that the talk was right. As her husband, I wanted her, yet could not bring myself to go near her.
At first, I could not even look in. I did still talk to her from the doorway. It was easy. Open the door and talk, tell her about what was happening in town and with our friends. I just stayed in the hall while doing it. The women from town had laid her out on the bed. It was as if she was only sleeping, or perhaps ill.
The experimentation began. I took steps at a time into the room until I realized I was unable to touch her. I could at best get to within a single step but, could not bring myself to get closer.
Once I learned the art of reanimating, I used it on her. The method, with its intricate formulas and motions, had taken two years to learn, but for her sake I mastered it. From there, it did not take long for me to reason out that if she moves she is not really dead. If she is not dead, then I need have no fear. She was ill to the point of an infirmity, certainly not dead. The dead do not move.
I taught her to rise when I entered. She began to excite me again and I did touch her, just a simple caress of the cheek at first. I taught her to move about the room. Then I realized I had to do something about her joints, they cracked with every motion. This was not normal so I needed to heal her. I learned to do what the healers said could not be done, it took months, but her joints no longer made noises. Little by little I learned about her infirmity. Her skin is still fresh and smooth, it is only her color that makes her seem unlike herself. Well, that and her silence. It was nearly a year later that she became my wife again.
She is never mentioned. Others do not understand my undying love for her, so she stays in my room, in her favorite chair, waiting until I return.