by Nicholas DeLuca 

Fiction, Heard/Alexandria Detention Center writing contest, August 2021

It’s somehow already been 5 years. Half a decade about gone in what feels like an instant. If my parents had lived to see me become this would they understand or be with the few outside ready to lynch me? If they were alive I wouldn’t have become this.

Maybe they wouldn’t approve of what I’ve become, but surely they’d be okay with what I’ve done. Everyone knew he killed them. No one may have truly known, but they knew. 5 years ago he killed my parents, then flaunted it at the funeral. He did it to torture me.

I didn’t instantly turn to the dark magic; I tried every other path. I wasn’t naturally magically inclined, I wasn’t blessed in the faith, I didn’t join some army or group of forest pretenders. I used what was available to me. Everyone in Ashenvale heard stories of Ancient Spirit that used to haunt this Gods’ forsaken island. It was used to frighten kids, but instead they strengthened me.

My first trip to the island at 15 led me to a discussed Book of the Dead. In worn condition it was still usable. The first year I was scared and I only tried one or two spells half heartedly. Then at 16, he went to far. In his cups as I was roaming the streets in thought, he found me. He told me to cheer up and perhaps one day I’d learn to thank him. As he strolled away, I rushed home, grabbed the book and used it to kill a rat I had caged. Then it all just clicked.

The years flew by as I studied. I drew more and more from the town as I began to feed off the new power. I became paler and kids stayed away from my parents’ cottage. I was able to do more and more as more pests died, then weren’t dead, then died again. Then just last week I went out and got my revenge. I didn’t murder him, despite his pleas for it. Once I was done, I let him loose as a shell of a man only able to admit his crime over and over again. Limbless.

Now the town’s small militia is standing outside and I’m forced to commit to a path I never asked for. I animate the human skeleton near me and exit the house.

Before the Captain could begin his plea, I unleashed my assault. The Captain was dead before he could ever reach me. Without a leader there was little, if any, coordination among the found remaining guards. Two began attacking the skeleton as the others charged me. I decided to take their weak hits to free the skeleton from harm. As the cries of their comrades filled their ears and me and my skeleton filled their eyes, fear filled their hearts. Soon after silence once again found me.

Dispatches were more than likely sent out and who knows what the townspeople may do if their protectors don’t return. I didn’t have much time so I gathered my essentials and left, skeleton following close behind.

I wasn’t ready to flee Ashenvale just yet. Since becoming attuned with my new powers, the island I found the book radiated great, dark power. I knew it was the tomb of the ancient Necromanier’s Spirit. I didn’t know what I may find in there, but I felt like something in there could help me. I made my way to the shore on foot then used a long forgotten canoe to get to the island well past the middle of the night.

To my surprise, the entry way to the tomb was open. For years I attempted to open and never succeeded. I was prepared to destroy it to gain entry but tonight it almost seemed like fate had opened it. Whether ill or favorable fate…Who knew?

-Tomb of the Necromanier-

In a way I was let down as I finally entered the crypt to find, well, a crypt. 4 stone coffins stood before me covered in centuries of dust, but remarkably no mice scurried and no plant was breaking through the cracks. The room was remarkably dead.

The coffins were unremarkable, however, clearly not trapping any powerful spirit or holding some treasure. Across the room was another passage way with what looked like stars. I lit a torch and started towards the aforementioned passage.

Halfway across the room, a grinding of stone began to fill the room. As I looked around, the four coffins were opening and out of them came four decaying skeletons. Call it a hunch, but I knew this welcoming party wasn’t just for show as I prepared for battle.

Once again, me and my skeleton split the foes – two each. I was hoping to dispatch one before they reached me, but my shot was off. As the two I was facing began their assault, I lost track of which was already damaged and after another round of blows, I defeated one. I watched my skeleton drop to the floor, but noticed one he was fighting was weak and obliterated it. Still defending my remaining one, I animated another skeleton from the countless bones. No longer outnumbered the remaining enemies didn’t take long to finish off.

Honestly, I was sufficiently wounded enough that I began to question my skill. The slaughter of the guards went so easily that I felt unstoppable. I still had confidence, but was now humbled.

It took some time to heal my wounds enough to be ready to move on. I had to hope no one was on my trail to execute some plan the guards weren’t enough for. When I finally felt well enough, I made my way down the stairs.

It was hard to tell what room I then stumbled upon. The room was fairly large, almost as large as the last, but it also had an extremely long, narrow hallway at the opposite end.

Before I could further examine the room, a spirit began manifesting in the middle of it. The spirit was teal and translucent with a relative humanoid shape. The only real discernible features were its long hair and overgrown beard.

“You’re close. Only two trials to go.” The voice seemed to fade in and out and seemed to come from within me rather than where the spirit was. I was about to ask it about the trials when it spoke again.

“There’s no time, It’s taking everything I have just to project this short distance. Succeed and you’ll be rewarded with unimaginable power.” As the voice faded away, so did the spirit.

Before I could even process what had happened, I noticed movement from the long narrow hallway. I cursed myself for not noticing the sight of the countless mangled corpses before me. All were missing one or two legs and crawled towards me. Luckily, they moved slowly so I was able to defeat four of the eight attacking corpses. The skeleton was able to take two down before it fell to their clawing hands. I only sustained two light blows before only I remained in the room.

Feeling more confident and experienced, I animate another skeleton and begin walking to the other end of the room. The spirit said 2 trials remained, so assuming the defeated horde was one, that meant only one more remained. So far things were manageable, but I could see any of them could have been my death if things only went slightly worse. The spirit didn’t return so I was walking in the next trial blind.

As I made my way down the final set of stairs, I truly was blinded by what I saw. It was a sphere of pure light. It was light, but at the same time something more. The light looked contained in the sphere. There seemed to be movement almost as if the light where smoke. As I took a step forward a booming voice stopped me.

“Leave,” the voice commanded, “leave now and you will suffer no further harm. This area is forbidden by all, save Paladins and Clerics.”

Paladins and Clerics? The order was responsible for this? I tried to push my luck asking, “How do you know I’m not a Paladin?

“Death emanates from you and I sense no light within you. I am a holy sentinel set by the order to protect this tomb. There will be no more warning, leave.”

Wanting to strike first, I sent forth a bolt of the Void at the Sentinel. To my relief, the bolt seemed to strike the protector and deal some sort of damage. Once my skeleton made it’s approach, a blinding light held my vision as I helplessly felt beams of energy striking me. Once my vision returned I resumed my attack. Occasionally, the sentinel would release its inner light damaging everything in the room. The more I attacked, the dimmer and dimmer the light became.

After several minutes of fighting, the light faltered and seemed to collapse in on itself. Once it was gone, the room was a pitch black that forced me to fumble on the floor in search of the torch I dropped. Once it was found and relit, I approached the only other object in the room, a great stone altar.

The altar was completely covered in ancient runes that I scarcely recognized. When I reached out to trace the runes with my hand, I had to recoil as if touching fire. A chill ran through me as I contemplated what it meant that this spell designed to harm and contain such an evil spirit also burned me. Pushing those thoughts away, I began wondering how to free the trapped spirit. I attempted to put all I know into one blast of dark energy, but as I was channeling the spell I felt the power emanating from the coffin fill me and amplify my spell what felt like a thousandfold. As the energy reached a critical point I was to forced to release it.

The blast hit the stone and shook the whole tomb which felt impossible given I was so far underground. Surely I had just caused an earthquake. Then as the shaking stopped my torch went out then I heard the rattling of bones as the magic animating the skeleton failed. Then a voice filled the room, and for a moment I felt like I made a horrible mistake.

“Ah…” the voice said almost as if relaxing on some exotic tranquil beach.