February’s short story contains a new cast of characters that randomly appeared in my head one day. I’ve only spent a little time with them so far, but I like their dynamic.

As with most of my writing, this four-part story explores themes of death and grief. I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading.

Necromancy [Part Three]

“Necromancy? Are you kidding me, Rowan?” Tristan questioned in a scolding tone. He uncrossed his legs, leaning forward in his chair.

Rowan shrugged her shoulders, standing on the other side of the room. “You were the one who told me to go see Milo.”

“Yeah, I wanted you to talk to somebody and hopefully, feel better about what you’ve been going through. You know, talk about your feelings and things like that.”

“We sort of did,” Rowan replied. Although, the more she thought about it, she realized that they didn’t talk about her feelings at all. Milo mostly talked about himself because Rowan asked him questions about himself. When the subject of necromancy was brought up, Milo got offended and kicked her out.

Tristan raised a brow. Rowan looked away from his burning gaze. She knew that look all too well. He knew she was fibbing.

“Milo told me what happened,” Tristan continued.

Rowan rolled her eyes. “You know, I didn’t think clerics were supposed to talk about what they discussed in a session?”

“What session?”

“Cleric counseling.”

“You weren’t in cleric counseling.”

“I thought-“

“You said you didn’t want to go to cleric counseling and I told you to simply talk to Milo as a friend of a friend, that’s all.”

Rowan huffed.

Tristan sighed, putting his head in his hands. “I don’t know what’s going on with you and I don’t know how to help. I’m not sure if it did more good or damage.”

“But necromancy could work,” Rowan explained.

Tristan snapped his head up, glaring at her.

“No, no,” she defended herself before he could speak. “Here me out.”

“Rowan…”

“Milo told me he had studied necromancy for two years. He didn’t say whether or not it had worked but I get the feeling that it did work. For some reason, he seemed stand offish about it. I assume it was because he really did connect with the other side. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he just tell me that necromancy is a bunch of crap?”

Tristan remained silent for a moment and Rowan held her breath. She had no idea what more she could say. She thought she’d be able to go to Tristan for help with this, not expecting him to have such a reaction.

“Rowan,” Tristan said gently, “you know necromancy magic is illegal. Why would you consider such a thing?”

“Milo considered it,” Rowan replied with a shrug.

“And I’m going to discuss that more with him another time.” Tristan stood up from his chair, shaking his head. “I didn’t realize Milo had gone through such stress. But I recognize it with you and I want to help.”

Rowan grunted, crossing her arms. “Why? We’re not traveling anymore, Tristan. You’re not the leader. You’re not here to take care of me or anyone else from our group, Milo, or the town.”

The human narrowed his eyes at his friend. “I never said I was the leader. I never said I was trying to take care of everyone. I try to help out the people I care about though and, yes, that includes you. It includes you and many other people. Milo is also included in that and it bothers me I had no idea he was going to through such a hard time to the point that he resorted to necromancy and whatever else he was studying at the time.”

Rowan sighed, leaning against the wall. “I’m sorry, okay? I didn’t realize I was bothering you so much with it. I also didn’t mean to blow Milo’s secret. But, if it makes you feeling any better I don’t think Milo is still studying necromancy.”
She noticed Tristan freeze but she continued talking. “Maybe whatever he figured out spooked him. It might have spooked him with how powerful it was. At least, I assume that’s what happened. He didn’t go into any detail about it.”

Tristan turned and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” Rowan asked bewildered. Had she upset him that much?

Tristan put a hand on the door knob. He looked over his shoulder at his friend. “I have to go see Milo now.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s studying necromancy.”

“I just told you I don’t think he’s doing it anymore.”

Tristan shook his head. “Then why does he still have the book?”

Rowan opened her mouth to reply, but closed it. He brought up a good point and she didn’t know Milo nearly as well as Tristan. If he suspected that the halfling was still looking into necromancy then he probably was.

Tristan opened the front door and exited with Rowan close on his heels.

*

Tristan opened the front door to Milo’s hut. Rowan followed him inside, the two of the stopping in the threshold.

The hut was empty. The space was neat and tidy, so it didn’t seem as though anyone broke in. It also didn’t seem like Milo was on the run from something or someone.

Tristan turned his head to face Rowan. “Did he say anything to you about going anywhere?”

Rowan shook her head. “You can’t possibly think I had anything to do with him leaving, do you?”

The human sighed. “No, no. It’s not your fault. I didn’t realize he was practicing necromancy magic, the old fool…”

“He might not have gone anywhere, though,” Rowan replied. She walked to the other end of the hut and peered out the back window. “When we arrived last time he was back here outside somewhere, wasn’t he? Maybe he’s just…”

Tristan followed her inside, closing the front door behind him. He made his way over to Milo’s bookshelf. “Where’s the book?”

Rowan looked over her shoulder. She didn’t have an answer to that one. “Under his bed?”

“No,” Tristan said with a scowl. “His book probably was in this spot.” He pointed to an empty space on the shelf where the book should have been. Other books surrounded the silhouette, making it painfully obvious something was missing.

Rowan scoffed. “Well, if he’s going to go on the run and pretend he’s not working on necromancy, then he needs to do a better job covering his tracks.”

Tristan chuckled. “Believe it not, Milo never knew the art of subtly. He may be a halfling but he’s as stealthy as an eight-foot dumb troll.”

“He doesn’t need to be stealthy to cover his tracks.”

“No, he needs to have a plan.”

“And you were always the one to come up with a plan.”

Tristan nodded.

Rowan sighed, putting her hands on her hips. “Well, for what’s it’s worth, I really don’t think he was doing anything with necromancy anymore. I might have reminded him of it, but…”

Tristan shook his head, holding up a hand to silence her. “No, I don’t think he ever stopped. I don’t think he would have brought it up to you otherwise. I’m sure he wanted to see how you’d react.”

“But I was excited for it. I was interested in learning from him. So, that must have knocked some common sense into him. Maybe I scared him and he went somewhere to dispose of the book,” Rowan suggested.

Tristan cast a somber gaze on his friend. “No, Rowan, you don’t understand. He probably did get spooked that you were eager to learn from him. But he also knows the consequences. He knows what it’s like to connect with the other side.”

Rowan stiffened. So, it was true. The necromancy spells had worked.

“But that’s part of the power. The book chooses who it wants to teach. You may not have been chosen, which is why Milo had gone off with the book. He’s trying to protect it, not dispose of it,” Tristan continued to explain.

Rowan wrinkled her face in confusion.

“Yes,” Tristan noticed her expression, “that book, in fact, is not an actual book.”

Rowan drew in a sharp breath through her teeth. “How is it you know so much about this book?”

The human sighed, ignoring the question. “We need to gather the others. We need to find Milo.”

*

“What’s in it for us?” Nordak asked after taking a swig of his pint.

“What, you expect me to reward you?” Tristan replied.

Nordak nodded. “I have never gone a mission for free.”

“You have never gone on a mission from one of your friends.”

“And I don’t think I’m about to begin now.”

Tristan groaned in frustration.

“Why not?” Rowan asked. “We’ve been through so much together. Don’t you want to help out your friends? Tristan’s friend could be in serious trouble. Isn’t that enough?”

Nordak took another drink, not bothering to respond. Rowan wasn’t sure if he had even heard her.

“Well, I’m in,” Silver responded. “Any friend of you guys is a friend of mine.”

“Thank you, Silver,” Tristan grinned at her. “Greeba?”

The Orc shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know. It seems weird to go on a mission without pay.”

“So, that’s why you guys do what you do? It’s only for the coins? You don’t do it for the satisfaction of helping others?” Tristan snapped.

Nordak and Greeba shook their heads in unison.

“Listen,” Greeba explained. “If I took on any job without worrying about what I’d get paid, then I wouldn’t be able to put a roof over myself.”

“Your head,” Silver corrected. “You wouldn’t be able to put a roof over your head.”

“But you sleep outside anyway,” Rowan stated in confusion.

“Exactly,” Greeba said, nodding.

Rowan sighed. “We just got paid, like, a whole lot from our last mission.”

“And I had to buy food.”

Tristan pinched the bridge of his nose. “Fine, never mind. Rowan, Silver, and I will go alone. I thought we were more than this, but I guess not.”

Silver frowned, poking Greeba lightly in the arm. “Really? You’re not going to join us? But we had such a great time together and have been through so much.”

Rowan turned her attention to Silver. “Don’t worry about it. I’m sure they’ve already gotten over the last journey. Sometimes these things don’t last.”

Nordak slammed his glass down on the counter, causing Silver and Rowan to jump. The dwarf glared daggers at Rowan, standing from his seat. Rowan was about a foot taller than him, but he stood before her, staring as though they were eye to eye.

“You think we’re over the last journey, do you? Don’t you remember what happened?” he demanded.

Rowan’s expression quickly turned from shocked to annoyed. “Of course I remember! How could I forget? We lost the best person on our team. He sacrificed his life for all of us. But that’s the not the only point. He sacrificed his life for everyone.”

Nordak opened his mouth, but Rowan continued on with her lecture.

“We’ve been through hell and back and again. No one knows what we went through, or anything that we’ve suffered or lost. The town plans to build a statue for Jasper, which is great and all, but no one will ever truly know the significance of what that statue means. No one but us and you want to know why? Because no one will ever go through what we all had to endure!”

Tristan stepped forward, putting a hand on Rowan’s shoulder. It was a poor attempt to get her relax, but she shrugged him off.

“If you can’t see what we’ve lost, then you certainly can’t see what we’ve found,” Rowan stated.

Tristan raised an eyebrow. “Wait, Rowan, are you admitting that…?”

Rowan glared at him. “No.”

He pressed his lips together, attempting to hide his smile. “Okay, sorry,” he looked down at the dwarf. “Rowan does have a point. You have to admit we found each other through that quest. And we all share Jasper in common.” He stepped back, looking at everyone else. “From one friend to another, I’m asking for your help. I know we’re the most capable team because I’ve seen what we can do.”

Greeba sighed, standing. “I don’t like having friends.”

The rest of the group stared at her in confusion. Her words shouldn’t have surprised any of them, but it was always hard to tell what exactly she was thinking.

“So,” Tristan said slowly, “does that mean you’re in?”

Greeba nodded. “Sure.”

Silver clapped her hands together in excitement. “Yay!”

The four of them stared at Nordak, who finally rolled his head back groaning.

“Fine,” he growled. “But I’m not going to like it!”

Rowan shrugged her shoulders. “That’s fine, we’re probably not going to like it, either.”

“What exactly is going on, anyway? How did your friend end up missing?” the dwarf asked.

Rowan and Tristan glanced at each other before Tristan turned his attention back to their companion. “Maybe it’ll be best if we explain on the way.”

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Rachel Poli

Rachel Poli

Author

Rachel Poli is a multi-genre author with a soft spot for mystery.

She often experiments with short stories and flash fiction, however, she's currently working on the first book of her detective fiction series.

When she's not writing, she's usually cleaning, reading, or playing video games. She currently resides in New England with her zoo.

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