The Necromancer, looking about the same as I had seen him some fifty years prior, a dark black cloak framed a gaunt aged face. He looked sinister, powerful, and dangerous. He sat behind a desk, seeming to be reading a document and mumbling to himself. The pair of us looked at each other, and then the man before us. The silence seemed to linger until I was about ready to speak first.
“I suppose the pair of you came for answers.” The Necromancer said riley, not looking up from his paper.
“We aren’t the only who came. A lot of people are concerned.” I spoke up, “Why is this about? This zombie army of yours.”
“Right to the point. I suppose that makes things easy. This army is a contingency plan. A last resort; a failsafe that I started many, many years ago. It’s the culmination of almost a century of work, and today, I will send this forth into the world.”
“Towards what?” I demanded.
“Protecting humanity. That is, after all, what my purpose has always been.”
“Your purpose? You’re a Necromancer.”
Necromancer chuckled, shaking his head and standing up, moving from his desk, “I think by now you should have realized that I am no mere Necromancer, just as you should have realized that Stephan here is no mere zombie.”
“Then what are you?” I asked at the same time Stephan asked, “Then what am I?”
I blushed in embarrassment. I was too focused on my own tasks, I should have recognized Stephan’s feelings in all of this too. The Necromancer must be something like a father figure to him, if not at least an uncle of something.
The Necromancer shrugged, “Those questions, both of them, are simple enough to answer. I suppose you could call me Death.”
“Death?” I asked, my eyes widening, “You mean like the grim reaper?”
The old man nodded, “If you’d like. I prefer to call myself the personification of death. I am not the act of death itself, I am more of an instrument of its implementation.”
“So you’re trying to start a war? Create more customers?” I demanded.
The Necomancer chuckled again, “I’ve already said, I seek to protect humanity. I am the lord of life and death. In a way, that makes me the keeper of earth. I seek its preservation, and the continuation of the circle of life.”
“Then why an army?”
“This army is the army of earth. It’s the only thing I can offer to defend the planet from the fallout of an angel demon war. I had started snatching the dead and resurrecting them a long time ago. Just a few here and there, never taking too many as to cause a manhunt. When the summit came and peace fell, I was hopeful my army would never be needed. I had been so hopeful. I knew the one named Cain had planned to betray. That is why I encouraged Abaddon to overthrow the leadership and take charge. Then I realized the Archangel had similar plans. It had surprised me that he had managed to keep his plan for betrayal from me for so long. So I began to grow my army in preparation.”
“So the missing people around town?” Stephan demanded.
“Were those that died, usually accidents or mishaps. I would resurrect them, freshly dead bodies are the most stable zombies, and then send them to my camp. A few at a time. Not so long ago, I came across a group of werewolves and got them to agree to my plan. They recently contacted their clan and brought them in on it in upmost secrecy.”
“The werewolves joined your army?”
The Necromancer shrugged. “Not exactly, they are more there to focus the zombies. When the war starts, I have tasked them with directing the zombies in the right direction. Then, when the zombies have finished their purpose, they are to eliminate them.”
“But what about the demons?”
“Demons?” the Necromancer raised an eyebrow, “Oh yes, I did see a few demons. They were slaughtered. I gave them a burial in fire; I heard demons like that. I do not know what killed them.”
The two of us looked at each other, then back at the Necromancer. Everything he was telling us seemed like too much. He created an army to fight against the Angels and Demons? Zombies protecting the planet from another war.
Stephan frowned, “This still doesn’t make sense to me. Why do you need werewolves? If you can control the dead-”
The Necromancer was already shaking his head, “One day you will learn… each time you raise a zombie it takes a certain life force. Normally, once you return the zombie to death, that lifeforce is returned. However, I’ve spent a hundred years raising over twenty thousand zombies. My life is spread far too thin.”
“Wha- what do you mean?” Stephan asked, taken aback.
“Sending the zombie force forward out into the world will take everything I have left. I will not survive this.”
“No.” I shook my head in disbelief, “If you the lord of life and death, how can you die?”
The Necromancer let out a harsh laugh, “I’ve prepared for that contingency as well. I am the personification of death, not death itself. When I die, my successor will take over.”
“Your successor, who-” my eyes stopped turning to the wide-eyed Stephan.
“I had tried once before to make a successor, although you’d remember that, Jane Averygail.”
I coughed; he totally did recognize me from the summit. I thought given his age he might have forgotten.
“But when you refused me,” the Necromancer continued with a smirk, “I decided to find someone far younger. Let him grow up knowing only death, give him less ties to this earth. I never expected him to become attached to my first choice.”
Stephan looked down at his feet, shaking his head as if he was refusing to believe his own thoughts, “I don’t have the ability to be the personification of death. I’m not strong enough. I’m not prepared.”
“For what it’s worth, I agree.” The Necromancer responded sadly, “but I have no choice. I must attack before the angels too. I must take the first strike advantage. It is the only chance the earth has to survive. The world as we know it may end, but you, my young Stephan, will take the survivors of humanity and pull them from the ashes to create a new world. I had hoped there would be another possible outcome, but that is the best I can hope for now.”
“But there has to be another way!” I insisted.
The Necromancer sighed, shaking his head, “I know not of one.”
“Can you at least give us some time? We know the Archangel’s son, Andrew. He’s going to talk to his father right now. Maybe he can convince him to stop. Maybe we can convince him to stop. If not…” I grimaced at the next words in my head, but I had to say it, “Maybe we’ll force him.”
The Necromancer watched us with curiosity. Stephan still had his eyes down. He had finally realized what he was, the next death. That had to be hard on him. However, we didn’t have time to concern ourselves about that. There was more at stake now.
Necromancer looked directly at Stephan. “Do you think you can stop him? One way or the other?”
Stephan met the Necromancer’s eyes. They held a heat and ferocity in them I had never seen before. It was kind of sexy.
“We will!” he nodded to me, “I may not be certain of my own abilities, but I am certain of Jane’s. I put my trust in her completely, and you should too.”
I blushed; why did he have to say a thing like that? It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping from him, but hopefully it was enough for the Necromancer. He scrutinized the pair of us for another moment before responding.
“Very well. You have convinced me, but I will only offer you twenty-four hours. If you don’t confirm the war is off by then, I send my minions forth. Once I do, there is no stopping what comes next.”
I took a gulp. Andrew was already with his dad. It was probably just a big misunderstanding anyway. We could do this. Although, how were we going to get to heaven anyway? I mean, Andrew didn’t know about the deadline… and we just didn’t have the time.
“Here,” The Necromancer tossed me a small sack which I caught in midair, “This will get you to heaven. You might want to leave soon. Time in heaven moves differently than here, and you won’t have much time.”
Stephan nodded and then turned to me, “I’m going to go let the guys know and find Daniel. I’ll see you in a bit.”
He turned and ran out the tent flap. I gave the Necromancer a nod and a thank you, then turned to leave myself. As I reached the tent flap, the Necromancer stopped me.
“You know, I meant what I said those years ago. You’d make a perfect personification of death.”
“Um… thanks, I guess.”
“You have a great deal of power and energy within you. It would take very little for me to grow you into a powerful Necromancer. If we survive this, I would be pleased to make you into one.”
“You already have Stephan though.”
“There is nothing that says there cannot be two. With your raw talent, I would need to put less into you to move things along.”
“Becoming a Necromancer? Stephan died first. Does that mean I have to die?”
“It does.” The Necromancer’s eyes were strait, his tone flat, “but death doesn’t necessarily mean the end. Especially not for you.”
“I’d… like to stay alive for a while more.”
The Necromancer nodded with a smirk on his face, “That’s what you said before. Think about it though, you and Stephan could work together as the Lord and Lady Death. I just want to keep you aware of your options. Should this turn sour, you die, and through some grace of God I live, I may bring you back anyway.”
“I appreciate the gesture,” I responded dryly.
The Necromancer nodded, moving back behind his desk as if our discussion was complete. I shook my head; I wasn’t ready to die yet. Although Stephan did seem to have a lot of perks being dead. Lady Death did have a nice ring to it. I put the thought into the back of my mind. What was I thinking anyway? An eternity with Stephan? Well, actually, that sounded pretty nice.
I slapped my cheeks, now was not the time to be thinking about that, if I didn’t put on my game face, there wouldn’t be a tomorrow let alone an eternity after that. I pushed my way out the tent. I couldn’t think about death right now; it was time I paid heaven a visit and gave them a piece of my mind.