The Dead Speak
“Release me, cur!”
It was a booming command, voiced with a confidence and authority belonging to a landed Knight of renown.
The Necromancer arched a brow and shook his head, “No… I don’t think so.”
Ethereal chains held the Knight firmly in place, rendering any threat of retribution obsolete.
“You think you hold any power here? Just because you managed to trap me like this?” the Knight said.
“I do… Because I’m not the one in chains.”
An uncharacteristic laugh echoed from the Knight. “We are both in chains, the only difference between us is that I can see mine.”
With a hint of rising curiosity, the Necromancer shifted in his position. “Do explain.”
“Who are you?” he asked rhetorically and continued without awaiting an answer. “You are a pallid shadow of what once was a man. A ghoul that stalks graveyards and old battlefields at night. Afraid even of the dawn’s early light. Do you know who I am?”
“A hero…” the necromancer replied solemnly. “That is what you once were.”
Despite being held firmly, the Knight straightened himself and spoke with a noble’s bravado.
“I am Louen Aquitaine. Knight of Vor. Firstborn son of Duke Gilleon Aquitaine of Marvale – the shining Jewel of the south.”
The Necromancer thought about interjecting with the current state of Marvale but held his tongue.
“I slew one of the Seven Tyrants in single combat and stood by the righteous King. I have laid low the oppressors and evildoers where I found them – ever walking with justice and honor!”
“And look where that got you,” the Necromancer tilted his head. “Firstborn son, eh…?” he mused.
The Knight nodded. “Upon me has been given the right, privilege, and duty to serve as Duke of Marvale upon the passing of my father.”
“I understand… you see, as a second son, I was taught a different lesson. To me, nothing is given. It must be taken.”
“And thus your fate is sealed, as is that of all evildoers.”
“Evildoers?” the necromancer arched a brow. “Tell me Sir Aquitaine, how many of my kind have you sought out and killed? Ten? A hundred?”
“Countless,” he said without shame.
“Countless… yet I have never killed anyone that did not try to kill me first,” the necromancer countered.
“You desecrate the graves of the dead, making a mockery of the Light of Vor!”
“The dead do not care – trust me. And as for the Light of Vor…” he waved around as to demonstrate that they are standing in darkness.
The Knight shook his head, clearly unimpressed.
The necromancer could feel the encroaching threat of sunrise just below the treeline in the horizon. He sighed and stood up. “Any last request?”
The Knight straightened himself, knowing what would follow, shook his head.
“None that I would trust you to follow,” he replied.
An intense scrutinizing gaze followed from the Knight, as if deeply considering what to say.
“If there is but a shred of honor inside that withered husk of yours I ask but this: Seek out my father and sister in my Duchy of Marvale. Tell my father that I upheld my vows, that my honor did not falter, tell him that I died a Warrior’s death, and tell my sister…” he hesitated slightly “tell my sister that the mantle of rule will now fall to her when our father passes… and that I know that she will make us all proud.”
The Knight hesitated again, and a solemn look came over him as he saw the first hint of light breaching through the treeline. “and tell her that I know that the line of Aquitaine will persist throughout the ages.”
If the Necromancer intended to favor the Knight or not, he gave no inclination either way. “Then I release you,” he said with a sigh.
He waved his bony hand in a dismissive gesture, and the ethereal chains that held the knight faded away.
With the forced link to this corporeal world now broken – the spirit of the long-dead Knight evaporated like a cloud of dust in the wind.
When the threat of dawn was fulfilled and the rays of sun bathed the ancient mass grave of this forgotten battlefield with light – the Necromancer had long since vanished.
Like a wraith in the darkness, he had slipped into the old Royal Library of Marvale in the midst of the never-ending civil war that plagued the Kingdom. The library itself held no strategic position and the spellbooks, maps, and other documents that could aid either side in the war effort had long since been plundered, leaving the building now woefully unprotected and more importantly – empty of others.
He walked across the row of shelves until he found what he was looking for: an old and dusty tome that had not seen the light of day for many years. He put down the Lineages of Marvale on a nearby desk and opened it carefully, running his bony finger down the pages until he saw it.
Duchy of Marvale.
Line extinct 500 years ago.
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