Challenge #00948-B217: Death Be Not Proud

The Tale of the Good Necromancer

[AN: Have to do a rewrite since my internet is a sack of suck and I forgot to save the text when I refreshed the edit screen. Fuck my life.]

The necromancer who called herself Corviddia wore black, of course. Because some things about necromancy can not be avoided. But she made sure it was a neat and respectable black. Austere without being severe. Dark without being menacing. She wore ribbon flowers on her hat and wound a rainbow of ribbons around her mage’s staff.

Death follows necromancers. Everyone knows this. It’s why you never see one riding a living animal. Sure, some can and do choose to ride skeletal steeds, but its never comfortable and it always smells. Therefore, when she can not obtain a cart or a carriage, she walks.

And yet, Corviddia insists she can heal. People are glad to see her and the peculiar, grey porcelain doll she carries with her. It only has eyes and a mouth. And is dressed in a simple shift. Few have been brave enough to ask her what it is for. Most of the time, it sits or lies around when she is working on the very ill.

When it comes to ‘kill or cure’, Corviddia knows her stuff.

Goodie Wainwright was rather glad it had come out as ‘cure’ this time, and fussed over tea. She could have easily used a necromancer months ago, when Millie’s twin brother had been found in the duck pond.

Far too late, now.

“I don’t understand,“ she said, pouring hot water very carefully into her Best Teapot. “Necromancy’s death magic. You kill things.”

Corviddia was wan and weak from her work, so she whispered. As always, the doll sat next to her. “I enhance the death present in all life. Mostly, when I choose to.” Her fingers trembled a little as they wrapped around the cup.

“Aye. I know. So how is it that Millie is alive and well and sleeping off consumption?”

Corviddia sipped her tea. Added some honey and stirred it in. The bell-like ring of teaspoon against china was the only sound. “Consumption is caused by unimaginably tiny life,” she said. “Hosts of them could exist on a pin-prick.”

Goodie Wainwright turned to stare in horror at her sewing basket.

“No. They don’t really live there,” a soft chuckle. “I’m trying to give you a sense of scale.” Sip. Sigh. “And if hosts can live on a pinprick, then there is no word for the number that was living in your Millie. More than millions.”

“I’m havin’ a hard time thinking beyond hundreds, beggin’ your pardon.”

Corviddia nodded. “I brought death to all of them. All of their hundreds of hosts. And I directed their corpses into her bowels. She will have a rough night on the privy, but that will be the end of it.”

“Don’t your kind feed off death?”

“Some choose to. That way lies corruption… at least… the way you mean it. All life feeds off death. Some are just more… direct.” Corviddia spared a smile, “And besides, bacteria deaths taste awful.”

This was supposed to be a joke. Goodie Wainwright plucked up a smile and the ghost of a laugh.

Corviddia sipped her tea again and talked to apparently thin air. “Yes, I know you want to talk. Use the doll. That’s what it’s there for.”

The doll, apparently slumbering in the neighbouring chair, raised its head and opened its eyes. Its previously featureless face now looked like Ardie.

“I’m sorry I didn’t listen, Ama. I only wanted to get a skater beetle ‘cause it was so pretty. I didn’t know the stones were all over yuck. I should’a stayed out of it. I didn’t wanna make you cry.”

Tears stung her eyes. Flooded her face. Goodie Wainwright covered her mouth to keep herself from bawling anew. “…oh my baby…” she whimpered through her fingers. “…i know, sweetie. I know…”

“Millie can hear me, so I’m helping her stay out of trouble,” said the doll with Ardie’s voice. “I love you, Ama.” The doll sagged and closed its eyes. It was just a grey, porcelain doll again.

“…come back?” pleaded Goodie Wainwright.

“Only the strongest of souls can wear a deathclay golem full time,” said Corviddia. “Even then, it is difficult to move and perform simple tasks. You’ve doubtless heard of the Everlasting King?”

Otherwise known as the King of Nothing. So selfish and spiteful that he refused to give his kingdom to anyone and ruled it from a clay body that had been filled with his bones. His kingdom had since been abandoned and all he had left was a crumbling ruin of a castle and his granite throne.

“You could make Ardie a body of corn husks and a drop of your blood. Or Millie’s. It would need constant maintenance, but you would see and hear him again. And he would never be as strong as he once was.”

“We don’t grow corn. Soil’s bad for it.”

Corviddia put her tea down so she could rummage in her pack. She brought out a porcelain spoon, of the same grey matter as the doll. She put it down on the table. “This will be easier for him He can point it, or make it tap.”

The spoon obeyed, spinning in place. Then it tapped out Ardie’s knock.

“One tap for yes, twice for no. And you can point the handle in any way you want your Ama to look,” said Corviddia.

Ardie spun the handle to point to Millie and tapped once.

Millie had woken up. “Ama? You know about Ardie, now? Why I didn’t cry?”

“Aye,” said Goodie Wainwright. “I dare say we’ll all know about Ardie before long.”

Ardie made the spoon rock and dance on the table.

“He’s glad,” translated Millie.

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