The day was a nice one. A cool gentle breeze blowing along the dead grass, the sun shining its soft light on the old rotted branches through the mist. The only place to properly feel the sun was the old stone tower sticking so far above the dead lands below. Its outside covered in soot and darkened from magic of a foul nature, it stood as the lone sign of life, as small as it was. Within, three souls moved about to begin the day./p
The first had, in life, been a farmer by trade. He had held on for a long time, his body held together pretty well, even if he was lacking legs. Floating along on a spectral tail, he checked the few gardens he'd set up in the tower's windows and collected the few fruits they'd given. His old bones brushed along the greenery with a practiced touch, plucking its fruits. Sticking out of a large crack on his skull was an old stick, sitting on it was a small bird he liked to call "Flappy". Flappy was a good bird, even if he did like to sing a little too much during the early morning.
The second was more of a more domestic calling, having been the mistress of a house. She had fallen so early, much of her reduced to dust before she had risen. Now merely a pair of bony hands and her skull, her body amazingly still showed its past skill as she prepared the breakfast. Surrounded by pale spectral energies, her hands rolled up the dough into the proper shape. Moving by the window, she adjusted the wide brim hat she wore to protect what remained of her once beautiful hair to give it a little bit of sun to help brighten it up for the day.
The third soul was the best preserved of the three, even if he was missing half a skull and his brain left exposed. Gliding along easily on his spectral trail, his dull dead eye moved about in its dry socket as he overlooked everything. Dressed in the black robe of his days in the church, the priest was followed by a veritable army of undead mice, the creatures breaking away as they were given tasks by the holy spirit. His pace came to a stop as he came to what was likely his most important task of the day, behind him remaining half of the army of mice.
Grasping the wooden doors, he pulled it open and gave his dusty eye a moment to adjust to the sheer darkness his master kept her personal sleeping room. From the light in the hallway he could already see scrolls, books, bones, and ink spilled on the floor. Yet another late night of inspiration he supposed. His gaze moved to the small bed where his master slept, the small bundle covered by the thick fur blanket.
"Master." His voice was sweet and gentle, the same as in life though it was much more hollow on the ears of the living. Slowly he entered the room and snapped his fingers. Mice surged into the room, climbing atop one another before lighting the torches and candles to illuminate the room. The bundle moved under the blanket, though she pointedly refused to show her face. The priest gave a sigh as he approached the bed. "Master, please. We go through this every morning. Will you please, just once, make this easy on yourself?"
He was answered by muffled grumbles and a pale hand waving him off. He sighed and gave the idea he'd have closed his eye if he still had an eyelid. "The hard way then." said the priest as he snapped his fingers. Again the bony mice surged, this time focused upon the bed. Scurrying under the sheets, the priest didn't even react to the loud screams as the mice carried their master out from under the sheets and onto her feet.
Tired red eyes glared at the priest's dusty one, the priest covering his mouth in an instinctively habit. "I do apologize for the necessity master, but you do bring these things on yourself." He looked over his master, glad to see she'd at least remembered to change into those nice yellow pajamas the mistress had made for her. It did go so well with their master's dark plum hair in his opinion, though the farmer had argued for green.
"Alright, alright I'm up!" Her voice was far different than you'd expect from a necromancer. It was not booming, nor was there the threat of death or even a hint of knowledge of life and death hidden to mere mortals. No she sounded like your typical kid who'd been woken up far too early for their liking.
"Now the farmer and mistress are preparing your breakfast as we speak so we should hurry along." Clapping his hands, the mice army began aiding their master in changing from her pajamas to her robes. Now these were much more fitting for her occupation, though they lacked a certain flair the mistress was always complaining about. A simple mossy green robe that was long enough to hide her entire body, over it a simple pale poncho with spiderweb decorations, the hood sharing the decorative theme with even a silk spider woven onto one side.
"Alright, alright I'll be down! Just leave me be already!" Her arms waved as she gave the exasperated command. Never being one to overstay his welcome, especially once his needed work was done, the priest offered her a bow before retreating from the chambers. With a wave of his hand the mice marched off to return to their duties elsewhere in the tower. Alone, the priest floated through the halls, now and then brushing some dirt off of his eye.
His movement finally came to a stop near one of the farmer's window gardens. Small green bushes filled the box of dirt, growing on them small red fruits the farmer had said were called tomatoes. Extending his hand, he held one of the leaves between two bony fingers and looked at it. His gaze moved passed the small greenery to the lands around them. Hidden beneath the thin mist was a land long dead, all that remained of those who lived here so long ago the few scattered ruins not buried under gnarled roots.
His thoughts moved to the past, to the sickness. He remembered the time, having been the last of the people to fall to its poisonous touch. So many others fell before him, all unable to truly pass. Alone… unable to truly speak to each other… so wrapped up in their rage at their passing.
"Oiye, oiye, priesty boydy!" The farmer. Turning his gaze, the priest took in his fellow ghost… well skeleton. He wasn't sure how to classify what the three of them were, so ghostlike yet still with their skeletons. Ghost worked he supposed. "Ooiye!" Right, farmer.
"Hello farmer. Can I help you with something?" The priest said as he turned to the fellow, noting that his bird was with him as always.
"Well ya can stop with all the man-handling of my fruits now!" The farmer said as he moved past the priest to look over the plants on the box. "Gentle things. No good for just pulling you know." The priest was confused, until the farmer pointed to his hand. Grasped in his hand was the leaf still, pulled by his fingers while he was lost in thought.
"Oh yes. Sorry." Hiding his hands behind his back, he watched the farmer gently pluck the tomatoes from their perch and set them in his basket.
"Oh yeah, near forgot. Any idea what's been eating the master? She's been grumpy as a pig lately."
"A pig? Whatever… she does not seem any more grumpy than usual."
"No no, definitely more grumpy. Always grumblin', glaring at stuff and all that. We aint even seen that smile of hers in so long." The priest was surprised on hearing that, and even more so when he realized how true it was. Years they'd served their master, yet only recently could he really say that he hadn't seen that smile of hers plastered on her face. /p
"I… do not know? Perhaps it's a womanly thing? Our young master is a growing girl, and is bound to have such things happen."
"Maybe. Don't remind me much of my sis at her age though… maybe the mistress would know?"
"Knowing the mistress she would suggest the plot of one of those books of hers."
"Fine." The priest sighed as he spoke, really not looking forward to this. The mistress was a fine woman, certainly not the worst person he'd had to deal with in his holy duties. When she went off about one of her books though, or god forbid they got into an argument. The insults she slung could make him shiver even now.
Still the two made their way down to the kitchen on one of the lower floors, finding the mistress splitting her time between a fresh new book and checking the oven. Amazing how much easier it was when you didn't have to worry about burning yourself. Clearing his throat, the woman turned her skull to look at the two.
"Oh there you two are! I've been wondering when you'd get me those fruits! Gimme, gimme!" She floated over to the two, one hand taking the basket and the other offering some seeds to Flappy. While the bird ate she set the basket on the table for when she made lunch. "Now priest, what can I ever do for little ol' you?"
"Well ma'am… we were hoping you could help us figure something out."
"And that would be?" She asked curiously.
"Why the master is a ornery as a pig who can't get into the muck." The farmer answered, receiving a blank stare from the mistress' empty sockets.
"He means the master has been grumpier than usual." The priest answered her unsaid question. She rubbed her bony chin for a moment as she floated over the table, her spectral trail fading through the old wood. Suddenly she snapped her fingers and shot out of the kitchen, returning with a stack of books taller than even the priest that she slammed down onto the table.
"I know just what the problem is!" The two leaned in closer, admittedly a little curious as to what she thought. "She needs a boy!" For emphasis she held up a blatantly romantic book, a hunky shirtless man serenading a woman on the cover. The two men stared first at her, then the book, then at one another.
"No?" Asked the farmer.
"No." Answered the priest.
"The answer is yes you dunderheads!" She slammed the book down hard on the farmer's head, sending Flappy flying for a safer perch. Next came a whack to the priest's chin, leaving his head upside down until he reset it. "A young woman stuck in a tower with only a bunch of ghosts like us for company? Obviously she's feeling lonely, and the only answer… is love!"
"Do you have any better ideas?" She asked. The two admitted they did not. "So we just need to find her a suitable lover. Perhaps some rich nobleman so she could be as wealthy as she deserves!"
"What? No, she needs someone practical." The priest interjected. "Maybe another magic user, or a scholar who could help her with her research."
"You're both dunderheads." The farmer spoke up, the two looking at him crossly. "She needs some fine lovin, if you know what I mean." The priest would have knocked the farmer's head off if the mistress wasn't holding him back, intrigued. "And if I know my loving she needs… a bar maid!"
"You. Fucking. Idiot." The mistress let go of the flabbergasted priest and rounded on the farmer herself, whacking him repeatedly with her thick romantic dribble of a novel. "A barmaid!? You want to have some wench who serves drinks to court our master!? Do You have any brains left in that maze of cracks you call a head!?"
While he did agree with the mistress, things were getting out of hand and the priest was forced to part the two.
"Alright, calm down please. Now, it's obvious we all disagree on what kind of suitor would be best. So why not the three of us go out and find suitors individually to bring back here? We can let the master decide who she would like."
"That'd work… Probably best to keep it a secret from her." Said the dazed farmer, his neck bones cracking as he adjusted his out of place skull "She ain't exactly prancing in a field of daisies right now. Doubt she'd care much for us doing this."
"In secret then." The mistress held out her hand, the two meeting it as they stood around the table. "To find our master a suitable suitor… oh, what if we made a bet out of it?"
"A bet." Venom entered the priest's voice when she brought up the subject.
"Not anything serious, just a bit of fun. Whoever gets their suitor chosen gets to be the best man at the wedding."
"Well.. best skull." The farmer said.
"Best skull. Fine. Whatever." The priest sighed, but in the end agreed. After nightfall and their master had fallen asleep they would go off in search of suitable suitors, each with their own criteria for what exactly that was.
Blissfully unaware of what awaited her in the days to come, the necromancer was brushing her hair with a bony brush while overlooking a few new spells she was working on. Suddenly she shivered, as if getting a bad feeling./p
"Can someone turn up the fires please! There's a breeze!"