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The Name of Evil Chapter 1
Chapter 1 - The Necromancer
This is the first chapter of an ongoing webnovel and an attempt to start up adding more short stories and webnovels on this Substack account. In the vein of old magazines like Weird Tales or The Magic Carpet Magazine, I would like to add illustrations to the stories as well.
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If you have a short story/webnovel/illustration you want to add to promote your work, reach out to me.
Chapter 1 - The Necromancer
A pathetic scream faded away as the stout, bearded man reached the dark entrance to the magnate’s chambers. Astabis could barely see the large wooden door in front of him. Tallow candles, embedded in the walls several paces away, barely gave off enough light to reflect off the man’s bronze armor. Through the dimness, he recognized the grayish white human femur hanging in the middle of the door. Calcified into a rock-like state by the catacombs, the gruesome knocker was just a taste of what lay inside.
Deep underground below a fortress called Halaf, Astabis steeled himself for what lay past the door. While he wore the infamous Reptin Taxhos symbol on his breastplate, the fighter never lost his dismay when entering the domain of Grymr. Many years leading people to butcher and slaughter in the conquest of cities and towns were just a taste of the barbarity waiting inside the chambers of his master.
The man heard a distressing moan filter through the thick door when he reached for the bone knocker. When he lifted the macabre device, he heard the calm, deadly voice come from nowhere, yet surround him.
“Astabis, you may enter.”
The sense of invisible eyes on him gave the faithful servant gave him pause before he pushed open the thick door. The bottom edge scraped cross the rock floor, which joined a tormented scream almost on cue. The odor of rotting flesh filled his nose when he entered the ancient crypt.
Astabis squinted as he tried to make out shapes within the dark chamber. Only a single wax candle flickered on a large stone table near the center. Nearly lost in the piles of parchment papers covering the rest of the table, a mummified hand sat. Severed at the wrist and its dried flesh now brown, the grisly remains held the long stem of a burning candle.
Drawing closer, Astabis immediately focused on the large crystals on top of each stack of parchment. A silver disk held the orbs at their base.
Known as Prophet Orbs, the rare secadem crystal about the size of a human head contained spirits when a great mage cast them inside. Eerily, a whitish smoke inside the orb appeared to move as Astabis came closer to the table. He saw the hideous-looking face of a trapped spirit encased inside, silently screaming before the entity disappeared amid the mist.
“What news have you?” The necromancer’s voice breathed next to the visitor’s ear from no apparent direction.
Astabis caught movement out of the corner of his eye. The tall thin man came from the shadows, his hunched-over frame slowly stepping to the table. The master moved away from his victim, allowing his minion to see the damage. A naked man hanging by his arms on the wall looked mostly red from all of his missing skin. The flaying victim let out another pitiful moan.
“Your Gravers are on the path to reach the port of Icoma. Soon, they will cut off any escape from the people from Cangas. We have forces following them to get complete control of the countryside. I predict that we’ll be in position for the assault by the light of the next full moon,” he confidently reported. “With our undead fighters, a night attack will overwhelm them, sitting the stage for your invasion of Charax. It is a glorious prize for your leadership.”
The man cleared his throat, recognizing his next message might go wrong for him.
“There is one other thing, my master. A messenger arrived from Charax with a personal message for you! He waits in a room.”
Astabis remained stoic as a pathetic whisper came from another wall. Another prisoner pleaded for death. The burly man suppressed his surprise. Grymr usually removed their tongues early in the torture.
Perhaps he wants this pathetic creature to scream more!
As Magnate of Iradorg and ruler of Halaf, Grymr conquered most of the land along the Three Seas. Descended from the first family who brought the end of the reign of Mawd the Confessor, the necromancer followed his father’s personality. Grymr carried a brutally strict nature to noble and peasant alike. He required absolute attention and devotion to his orders. Grymr’s underlings understood only too well that any hint of betrayal meant torture and death in the dark areas along the walls of his large crypt. Not just for terror, the necromancer used the souls of the tortured to become ruler over the world.
However, the necromancer had larger plans for the future. Each step toward Charax brought him a step closer to realizing a dream to be the equal of Manraq, his chosen god.
“What is this message from Charax? That little man is most tiresome.”
Grymr stepped into the pale-yellow light of the candle. His steely eyes focused on a small scroll he held in his hands. Grymr appeared to be both old and young at the same time. His long hair was an uncombed mixture of gray and black, which fell across his thin, skeletal face. His piercing hazel eyes were overly large, buried deep behind his sharp nose like an owl. His voice was soft, barely above a whisper, but it carried the chill of the tomb where they stood.
Astabis hesitated, knowing his reply would not please the man.
“The emissary of King Gaur would not release his message to me or anyone else. He said his king wanted to ensure that the great Magnate heard the words directly from his messenger.”
The thin man glanced at Astabis before turning back to his reading.
“So, this petty noble of an insignificant island will interrupt my work?”
He paused for a moment, then a devious smile came to the necromancer’s lips.
“I’ll send my message back to this upstart. Have the messenger skinned alive, and he’ll give you the message from Gaur before he dies. Keep his flesh and have it tanned. You’ll use the hide to write my reply to Charax.”
“What is the message we will send back?” The leader of the Sentinels frowned at the unpleasant task that awaited his men.
The Magnate of Irdorg mumbled something under his breath, and the room filled with an eerie red light from the very walls around them. Along the walls, some victims writhed in pain. The light was blinding torture to those held in the dark for so long. Nearly all could only make grunting sounds with their tongues removed. A few poor souls made no movement, their eyes removed, their bodies and minds already broken by the necromancer. The unfortunates simply waited until they left their pitiful existence. Their white skin looking close to the shade of white worms that would soon consume their flesh.
“You don’t enjoy my work! I see it when you avert your eyes, Astabis.” Grymr glanced over and cocked his head. “It’s a strange attitude for a man who walks over the blood of innocents when you ravage a village. I believe your men enjoy raping them before cutting their throats.”
“There is a nobility when killing an enemy fighting for their life. Our use of their women among the rabble afterward ensures control. In my eyes, it isn’t the same thing,” the armored man insisted.
A merciless laugh echoed in the room.
“There is no nobility in death. To see the future and control events requires one to steel their backbone. Remove any obsolete ideas of nobility, foolish man. Manraq expects more from his followers.”
“Of course, my master.”
Astabis glanced over at the dark statue of a human-like creature with scales that held clawed hands high. Strips of flesh lay on the bronze figurine’s hands. He felt the sweat running down his back—the last guard who made the mistake of debating their master. Slow, torturous mutilation and killing sent a soul inside the secadem. Forever encased inside a crystal, the spirit came under the control of Grymr. It also seared the images into the memories of those who entered the domain of the necromancer.
“Inform Gaur that the Nalith comes to me in tribute, or I will send the Gravers to destroy his puny island.” Grymr’s ominous voice again floated from all sides of the room while the necromancer’s thin lips remained closed as he read his scroll.
“I want this so-called king to understand that I’ll use his tanned skin for my cape as I sit on his throne.”
“Should he give you the Nalith, won’t he become a willing vassal to your needs? It’s far easier to take a single ship to take control of such a place rather than gathering a fleet.”
The necromancer looked over at Astabis, who immediately bowed to his master.
“If I leave his undead body on the throne, he’ll remain forever loyal. You know that a treacherous noble sitting on a throne always deludes themselves about their power,” Grymr stated. “Besides, the Chara still believe themselves as guardians of Mawd’s pitiful legacy.”
“Forgive my ignorance,” Astabis replied.
“The rise of Manraq begins soon. Once that happens, I certainly won’t care about the loyalty of the island or any kingdom.” The necromancer went back to his work.
Note: DemiSage is writing on Scribble Hub to build readership. To get benefits like illustrations of the characters and to read later chapters, you can support the author at Ko-Fi and Patreon.