The Baby Necromancer
"I do not write words, I write tempo. My plot is the verse and the players are hollow."
There are many beginnings, and beginnings take many forms, but the one thing that all beginnings share is the emptiness that lies before them. There is silence before the first note is played, blankness before the first word is written, and darkness before the first star began to shine.
It was twinight.
On the horizon, the first faint streaks of grey threaded through black, heralding the birth of dawn and the death of dusk. The wind whistled fitfully across the plains of grass that stretched for miles around, and the trees stirred languidly. Soon, very soon, the world would wake, and the hours of dark would be over again for a time.
On a shallow valley nestled between two gently rising hills, a hooded grey robe leaned heavily against an ancient oak staff. It was a staff that had seen many ages of man, having been cut centuries ago from living branch.
The hooded grey robe shifted slightly. Within the robe's cowl, the magician's eyes traced the setting rays of darkness, his trained vision distinguishing each shade of black. There was not much time left. The magician had been awake the whole night, piecing together every intricate fragment of his final spell. Now he felt tired, content, and mildly expectant. A sudden breeze caused his robe to flutter, and the he wrapped the cloth around himself a little tighter to defend against the chill.
The magician whispered a few soft words under his breath. The undergrowth raised its head in response. Silently, a small hill uncoiled itself, stretching serpentine head, unfurling hollow wings, and extending lanky skeletal limbs and tail to reveal its true form. Sparks blazed within depthless eye sockets as it reared its head in voiceless attention to its master.
The magician patted the zombie dragon's snout gently. It was as big as a small house.
~Evanshi,~ spoke the magician in the tongue of the dead. ~You have served me faithfully for so many years. But all things change.~ He stroked the zombie dragon's skeletal muzzle. ~When the day breaks, I will not be here. But I still need your help after I am gone. I left instructions pinned to the wall back at home. There are just a few things left to finish that I cannot complete in time. With any luck, you will have a new master soon. I have nothing more to say. Goodbye. Sha-dara'kssh!~
A large wave of frost crystals erupted from the old oak staff, instantly encasing Evanshi in a stream of sapphire ice. Hurriedly, the magician's old, gnarled hands drove deep through the ice into the zombie dragon's body. Another spell of power extracted the dragon's obsidian heart. His spellcaster's eye saw the magic within the stone slowly dwindle, until it became to his sight, though still a gem of inestimable value, nothing more than a lifeless piece of glittering glass.
"My last gift to you, Evanshi." Stiff, aged hands discarded the stone and produced a ruby from the depths of his cloak. He replaced the zombie dragon's heart with the ruby that had once rested upon his staff. With the last of his strength, he bound the ruby to the zombie dragon's body. The task done, he paused for a few moments to catch his elusive breath. Leaning heavily on his staff, he stared at the preparations of his spell.
Before him was a small pond. The stars had faded an hour before, leaving only the moon's reflection to grace its placid surface. The magician took a small sense of satisfaction at the sight of a single bloom in the middle of the pond. There, at the point where the water was darkest, floated a budding black lotus, the core of the magician's spell.
Everything was perfect, from the way a little cleft valley to the east made sure the first rays of sun would shine just so, to the symmetry of the pond, painstakingly crafted to exact dimensions, to the water of the bond, liquid magic so volatile that all the frogs had turned into princes, to the lotus itself, a magical plant crafted from the souls of five unfortunate oracles. Everything was perfect.
"Oh, shiv," the magician swore as the first ray of dawn peeked shyly over the horizon. "No time. Your turn now," the magician said to his staff. He thrust the staff into the ground, and whispered a word of power. Within seconds, the staff grew into a verdant oak. "My favour to an old friend," muttered the magician. "Ha, you've been leaning on me for so long, it's time for you to stand by yourself."
The magician patted the oak.
"You look just like your father. Be sure to do a good job like he did."
Bereft of his staff and power, the magician seemed to realize just how fragile he was. Unsteadily, he sank to a sitting position under the newly grown oak.
"Now it is time for me to die."
As the sun's rays began to send out search parties for those that had gone before, he began to sing softly.
We hurt because we know that we're not right
That from the start, we're built to be imperfect
We pray because we lack perceptive sight
Without the time to think, to learn, to reflect
Yet somehow I've survived, through my hatred and my lies
Bathing in the darker shade of light
You soothe the raging fires in my mind
And through the night, you warm my icy soul
Released the very best that I could find
One moment's breath, I thought I would unfold
Yet somehow I remain, through the love and past the pain
Bathing in the darker shade of light
I was a traveler on the road
You kept me shining with your smile and lightened up my load
Tell me what to do
You gave me life and took my heart but I can't be with you
It's like I'm dying every day
I didn't live this lonely life of mine to feel dismay
"…to watch you walk away."
As the rays of the freshly risen sun hit the lake, faint waves began to ripple across the pond's surface. As if held up by string, a thin curtain of water began to rise around the lotus plant, encasing it in a delicate bubble of freely flowing magic. Sunlight shimmered, danced and split into rainbows on the water surface. Multi hued light caressed the petals of the black lotus.
Then the lotus began to open. As the curtain of water fell, one row of petals, then two, then three extended delicately, until at last it bloomed resplendently in the dawning sun. In the center of the lotus lay the product of the magician's spell. It was a human baby, newborn and perfectly formed, breathing with the serenity of sleep.
As the lotus bloomed, the frost around Evanshi cracked and shattered. The zombie dragon regained animation with a vengeance. The first thing she noticed was a gaping presence where its master's will had once resided. Evanshi could not cry, but when she saw the still bundle of robes under the oak, she experienced an indescribable emotion. Silently and almost mechanically she buried the magician, marking the grave with clawed-out initials on a simple headstone. Finally Evanshi flew on tattered wings to the magical pond, scooped up with gentle jaws the newborn baby in the center of the lotus, and went home.
In the year 1485 A.G., or the year 0 A.R., as it came to be known, Sarragin Vich, the second greatest necromancer of the Common Lands, vanished from the face of the earth, leaving no legacy. His disappearance was confirmed when a small Republican expeditionary force led by Prince Charming defeated a crumbling Deathly March contingent near the city of Kansa with no sign of the necromancer.
Many rumours regarding Sarragin Vich's sudden disappearance began to spread. Theories included how he led his undead army, the Deathly March, into the nether dimensions to conquer other worlds, or how he was slain by questing knights, or by monsters, or by other magicians. Some even say he retired in peace to write a book.
Illexmann the wandering scribe claimed to have documented a gravesite under an ancient oak marked only by a single headstone bearing the initials S. V. Skeptics still believed, however, that the world eventually would once more quake at his name, for surely a necromancer so powerful would not leave the world for his final rest so easily. But Sarragin Vich the Foul, Sarragin Vich the Black, Sarragin Vich the Tempted was gone. Sarragin Vich was truly dead.