oodbead nodded and
Bone-Send pulled another lever, causing chains to raise the lid of a large
casket in the corner. A horrible looking corpse lay with crossed
arms inside it. The necromancer grabbed a bone from his sash and
“By dark gods and the force of death/
By entropy, the dying of all light/
Bound you are to this bone/
Rise up now this night!”
Like one of Woodbead’s spells, a trained eye
could see reality rippling into the bone, but this time it would appear
to go from white to completely dark by the energy of the spell. The
necromancer then tossed it on the chest of the dead man, causing it’s empty
eye sockets to open. The mouth opened too, in a broken jaw of few
teeth and emitted a lost, soulful wail.
“Arise! Sleep the sleep of death no
more! I command thee!”
The zombie climbed out from the casket
and shuffled towards the mages. “Let us write down the complex instructions
for the shepherd to read, for this one’s capabilities are limited, especially
After a long climb up the stairs, then across the bridge, then down the
stairs to the harbor, the mages set the undead servant off into the night
on his task. His task was to take Woodbead’s boat and go to a nearby
island that was used for grazing animals that the guild already had frequent
business with. Ayeesha’s dragon alone had ensured that the herder
could send his kids to a good school to get into guilds of their choices.
He was then to knock on the door, giving the awakened shepherd the bag
with the payment and the instructions. After the farmer had drugged
four sheep and placed them in the boat, the undead would then take them
back to the origin point where another servant would take the boat to the
Woodbead moved to hand the animated corpse
the oars, but Bone-Send waved him away. He untied the rope from the
post rather than the boat, and held the end in front of the zombie.
Eagerly, the thing opened its mouth and clutched the rope in a fantasticly
strong grip. It then jumped into the water and started paddling rapidly,
its head bobbing inches below the surface. Woodbead remarked that
it was making better time than his rowing. Still talking the details
of the day, Woodbead found himself taking the same long trip back to his
“You know, Bone, we should be a little more
considerate of Phillen,” Woodbead referred to the shepherd. “We make
him very well off for his profession, constantly buying lambs at better
than market price to feed Ayeesha’s dragon or for a roast of our own, but
things like this must play on his nerves.”
“Ah, he’s said to me that he prefers my servants
to her dragon. That beastie has literally scared sheep to death.
Besides, we all do favors. I helped him contact his dead uncle to
find the location of where he stashed some gold before he died. The
sight of that metal quickly removed his prejudice of my fine art!”
“Speaking of favors-” Bone-Send waved
one bony finger in the air as he re-entered his room. “When you go back
to Crag City, I might soon follow, for I planned to vacation there.
Although you owe it to me as a friend, it goes more so now that you owe
me some hospitality. And to guide me around the city!”
Woodbead knew what that meant. Bone-Send
was more lusty than he, and would want to get into one of the better “Houses
of Comfort” in his home town. The necromancer was kinky and had got
them both kicked out of a similar house in Misttown when he had asked a
girl to “Play dead.” What was worse was that a drunken Confederacy
Kolonol was in the room next door and chased them around the city, shouting
at their “vile immorality”. Misttown was a free city-state, like
Crag City, but the Confederacy had far more influence there, so they had
to bear it.
“Then again,” Woodbead thought to himself,
“my town is quite wretched. There’s a big ‘goth’ scene there, too.
He’ll get some followers with luck.”
“Well, good evening friend, for it is past
midnight now!” Bone-Send turned to feel a rough crystal ball embedded
in a skull.
“I swear, you enjoy viewing the man’s face
as that thing wakes him up in the middle of the night!” Woodbead
said as he left.
To this, the necromancer started a crazed,
screeching laugh that Woodbead could hear all the way up the first flight
of stairs. He climbed up the dark staircase, taking care to
be quiet now that most of his guild was fast asleep. At last he reached
Ayeesha’s room at the very top, under an expensive roof of glass for all
her plants. The luxurious tent that she slept in was empty, but Woodbead
noticed all the plants that he had collected were carefully placed in glass
tubes and jars, moist in soaked cotton. Looking closer, some of the
Lilath flowers had already started to grow new roots. He also noticed
a note placed on top of his bag.
“3B-see me” it said.
Another flight of stairs, but this time mercifully
down. Living there for years, Woodbead knew that room to be a bathing
area with a heated tub.
As he approached the door, he could see dim
light from within and feel the heat from the warm water. The “Do
Not Disturb” sign was on the door, but Ayeesha’s voice quietly called him
in before he could knock.
Inside, Ayeesha was naked in the bath, a dozen candles lighting the
circular room from the walls. Already, she had cleaned herself and
was applying lotion to her body. She had many bruises, mainly on
her hands and arms from trying to hold onto her dragon that had now turned
“Come in and join me, I need my back massaged.”
Ayeesha politely demanded.
In the morning, though nearer to noon, Woodbead
awoke next to her back in her room. As day arrived, many flowers
there naturally opened, giving the room a fresh, clean scent. From
a parting in the curtains, he could see the sun light through the mists
of the plain, and some of the taller islands in the background. He
hurt all over, mainly from the endless climbing he did all the previous
Woodbead looked at Ayeesha’s naked, nearly
white body. Most of her bruises had already healed, but it was more
the totally innocent expression on her sleeping face that got his attention,
even in contrast to her large breasts.
He went over to the window, and checked the
small island nearby with a larger spyglass in the room. The dragon
was still sleeping, though small gusts of smoke assured that it was quite
alive. Four sheep were wandering around the island, grazing on the
grass, though they kept far away from the dragon. His rowboat was
undamaged and on the beach.
Woodbead put on a robe, and sat on a chair,
admiring the woman who had been his companion again for a night.
“She’s won,” he thought. “No way
she couldn’t have climbed that mountain herself. I’m sure she has
a pair of boots somewhere. I’m going, but she knows I wanted to forget
her. I won’t be able to forget her now.”
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