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The Necromancer’s Life Eternal

It’s quite a feeling, the first time you bring something back from the dead.

Everyone talks about the way the body starts to twitch, and how their eyes light up with the unnatural glow of reanimation. An undead sack of flesh now bent to your will. And it’s true, all of that is quite a sight to behold.

But necromancers don’t like to talk about the feeling that comes along with the spectacle. I think that’s because a part of you gets used up each time you breathe life back into a corpse. A small part, sure, but it’s a piece you’ll never get back.

The price of the dark gift.

My first resurrection was a chicken. I was eleven, and had stolen a spellbook from Bits and Pieces and spent a day and half trying to puzzle out the incantation. I got it to work eventually, but it was a clumsy, ignorant effort—the bird’s balance was off and it’s coordination nonexistent.

I killed it a few minutes afterwards and spent the rest of the day asking forgiveness for what I’d done.

The next morning, Akavarin came to visit my father. Showed up at our door in a robe that shimmered and shifted in the dim light of our small house. He bought me from my father for a sum of gold I have never learned, although the abruptness and joy with which my father relinquished me from his care leads me to believe it was quite substantial.

When I asked Akavarin how he knew about me, he told me that the sound of a necromancer casting his first spell rings out to him as loudly as a meteor pounding its way into the side of the planet.

It was not a hard thing to track down, he told me.

Akavarin has three simple rules:

  1. Always see to your chores before you practice magic.
  2. Do not perform a resurrection that does not teach you something.
  3. Do not betray the secret oath of the Morathi Covenant

Each of his rules comes with an equally simple punishment.

  1. One day without food or water.
  2. A severe whipping, which I am not allowed to repair for an entire day.
  3. Death.

I have lived under these simple tenants for nine years, and while I have gone hungry more times than my fingers can count, and would have nothing but scar tissue on my back if it wasn’t for the school of resurrection, I have kept my oath and my life.

And now my time has come.

Akavarin waits for me at the top of his tower—Islamar. It is a black pillar of ebony tucked between two large hills in the Druadac Mountains. We do not receive many visitors, and those that do manage to discover us are rewarded for their exploration with a world of unfathomable pain and sorrow.

I have honed my craft down to a perfect blade using the souls of those travelers as a whetstone.

I climb the steps of the tower slowly. There is no rush. This time is meant for me to reflect on my years of study, and build that knowledge and energy into the strength I need.

This is my final test.

Each step I ascend has a lesson inside of it. Each antechamber a memory.

One marble stone still carries the bloodstain of an Argonian zombie who’s legs I accidentally exploded trying to make it run up the steps two at a time.

That was five years ago. Now my creation’s feet hardly touch the stones as they fly up these steps as graceful as a spriggan.

In a small torture chamber there are still the blackened bones of a Forsworn Chieftain who slew seventeen bandits—the entirety of my undead army at the time—before coming after me with a bone-staff and a dagger. I opened a rift to Jyggalag inside of his chest and watched the fires of Oblivion consume him from the inside out.

That was three years ago. Now I raise armies of chieftains, not bandits.

And on the second to last floor of the tower lies the room Akavarin first killed me.

This is the power of the Morathi Covenants. The secret I have kept all these years. You see, necromancers are feared for the skin walkers we create. The sacks of infernal flesh that we use to plague the living with our dubious acts of violence and darkness.

But the fear and suspicion the world holds for necromancy is nothing compared to the ire and rage we would suffer if they knew the true extent of the Morathi Covenant’s capabilities.

They have conquered death.

I have swum in the dark waters of the netherworld. Felt the icy caress of infinity run down my spine. Seen the great yawning cavern where our souls collect, one on top of the next.

And each time, Akavarin has brought me back.

I reach the top of the tower. There is a wooden ladder and a hatch in the ceiling made of ebony. I have never entered this room before, but now I hold the key.

I climb the rungs, place the key into the lock and hear the metallic groan of the tumblers pulling apart, and I open the door to my destiny.

The room is round and dim. Full of red and purple light that seems to radiate from the walls themselves. It’s silent, yet I can hear the magic pulsing through every bit of stone and mortar.

Akavarin sits on a throne of driftwood at the far side of the room. His skin his bone white, his eyes red and burning like a Dunmer’s. Many have mistaken him as an ashen native of that ruined land, but there is no elven blood inside of his veins. He is a human, just like me.

Except he is five thousand years old.

“Are you ready to join the Morathi Covenant?” he asks. His voice is stony and harsh—like an ancient boulder that refuses to be ground down by that passage of time.

“Yes, my lord,” I say.

He lifts his arm. Beckons to the altar on my left.

I take two steps forward and pick up the Daedric dagger that sits upon a bolt of red silk on the altar. The weapon is heavy and solid in my hands. The grip wrapped in supple strings of leather made from an Orc’s skin. I raise the dagger high over my head and look to my master. Waiting for his command.

“Prove yourself worthy, and rise anew.”

I squeeze down on the grip of the dagger and plunge the blade into my own chest.

The metal cuts through skin and bone, rending my heart in half. The darkness descends upon me before my body has time to process the pain.

Death feels like a plunge from a tall cliff in the dead of night. You can feel yourself moving, but there is no way to see the bottom. I have felt this before, but it was always Akavarin who has pulled me free. He will not help me this time.

So I begin to weave my forbidden spell.

There are no words for the thing that I do. No incantation to pull your soul back out from the gullet of doom. There is only the sheer force of will.

The unquenchable desire to live.

I think of the way the grass moves on a windy day—wild and erratic. The glow of the moons when they’re full and huge and massive. The taste of a girl’s lips. The feel of her skin under my hand.

And then I think of the feelings that have no name. The yearning you wake up with in the night when you’re covered in sweat and filled with an unknowable terror.

There is a popping noise and then a burning feeling. The white heat of rebirth.

I come to gasping for air, naked and wet on the stone floor of Islamar. The membrane of the afterlife is still upon me and the smoke of resurrection rises off of my skin.

The dagger is gone. Burned away to nothing.

I stand and wait for the world to accept my presence once again. I feel it arguing over my return—it knows that I do not belong, that I have broken the rules somehow.

But there is nothing the world can do about it. I have stepped beyond the reach of its feeble grasp like a sparrow swooping away from the jaws of a wolf, its paws trapped eternally on the soil of the crummy world.

Akavarin is smiling at me.

“Welcome to eternity,” he says.

READ THE NEXT STORY IN THIS SERIES

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8 comments on “The Necromancer’s Life Eternal

  1. Elspeth Aurilie
    November 9, 2012

    This is excellent. And I love the Morathi Covenant, not just the idea but also that you’ve named it . Stories that create their own lore within the Elder Scrolls canon (and do it well) are my favorite.

    • Fargoth
      November 9, 2012

      It’s funny you mention that name – I think I spent about an hour writing the story, and probably 45 minutes working on that name!

  2. ericanorth
    November 10, 2012

    So dark and brutal, the very thought of that kind of power always gives me chills.

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This entry was posted on November 8, 2012 by in Skyrim Fiction, Tales of the Necromancer and tagged , .
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