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A note from Dreadwizard Siegfried

Almost at the end, people.

“Hey, Bess?” Amber asked to the other ghost’s back, staring off into nothing as the sun’s vibrant colors streaked through the sky. The battle had, throughout all its’ stages, lasted about six hours. The rest of the time was trying to get organized and trying to put everything as back to normal as they could.

The cleanup had been remarkably simple. Bluntly speaking, there wasn’t one. After a heated discussion, which Amber would charitably call bickering, Scott, Pete, and Cross had decided there was really nothing they could do. The damage to the town was simply too widespread, and relatively too minor to actually care about. Some smashed windows, dented cars, destroyed fences, all could be blamed on a pack of particularly vicious Halloween vandals. The melted street was a case of a freak lightning strike, quite mysterious. And thanks to the whole town at the party, there were no witnesses to contradict the story.

The police Cross had pulled in weren’t local, and hadn’t either wanted trouble or to be seen as madmen, so after the matter was settled they had went back home after being sworn to silence, too loyal or afraid of Cross to do otherwise. It wasn’t a perfect cover, but as no one involved wanted the truth to be known, the public would have to accept the official report. And if people’s memories during and after the party were fuzzy, that what people said and what they personally remembered didn’t line up; well, that couldn’t be blamed on the heroic detective who had exposed and captured one of the Craven Falls Killers, now could it?

Rumors of packs of monsters, a zombie apocalypse, and a giant stomping through town circulating for weeks afterwards were completely dismissed, too outlandish for anyone to actually believe, a weird prank at best. After all, it’s not like anyone had any actual proof, right? And really, it was completely ridiculous.

Bess was staring at the rising sun, completely entranced. She had been doing nothing but staring at the horizon for the last several hours until Amber worked up the courage to get her attention.

“Hmm?” Bess grunted, not turning around.

“I just…” Amber started, but her voice gave out. What to say? What to do? Thank her? Curse her? “I…”

“I’m not apologizing.” Bess interrupted. “I’m not asking for your forgiveness, either. I know the decision that we, that I made. It wasn’t…the best, in retrospect. But. I made it, and I must stand by it. No matter what. What we did…you can’t take something like that back.”

“No, I suppose you can’t.” Amber murmured. There was a moment of silence between them, broken only by Scott directing the remaining zombies to rebury themselves in their graves and to try to clean up as much as possible along the way. Along with promising a very irate Detective Cross that he would in fact release control over them. Bess grunted.

“Still, though. We screwed you over. And not just you. After finding out what it’s like…” She stared at her translucent hand, glowing a faint orange. “I find that I can sympathize.”

“I just wanted you to know…I never hoped that you would find out what it’s like to die. No matter what happened between us, you were my friend at one point.” Amber said. Bess finally turned to her with a sneer on her face, blinking back tears.

“You know, it’s t-that kind of attitude that made you unfit for the coven. N-No wonder Stephanie made you a t-target.” She bit back a sob. Amber slowly walked over and stood beside her in the sunlight. Not close, not comforting, but there nonetheless. After a minute, Bess calmed down. “So. What happens now? I get exorcised, sent on?”

“Afraid you’re not getting off that easy.” Scott said walking up, yawning and sipping coffee. He really did not need Cross grousing at him after such a long night. So what if the bone giant couldn’t be broken down into individual bodies anymore? That wasn’t a consideration when he’d designed the spell, and they managed to fit it into the warehouse just fine. It even helped put the roof back on. “You’re getting a nice, cozy cell for your troubles.” She frowned.

“But I’m dead.”

“Not for long, you aren’t. You forget my profession. I am a necromancer, the master of death. We got your heart, your body’s waiting to be swept up in Stephanie’s attic, and your soul’s here too. I’m afraid a little thing like a lack of a pulse won’t allow you to escape punishment.” he said.

“Heh. Some might say I’ve paid the ultimate price already.” she said bitterly. Scott shrugged.

“Yeah well, I’m not one of them. And since it’s my decision and not yours, I say you’re coming back." Bess opened her mouth to argue, but Amber grabbed her hand and held it.

“Please, Bess. Don’t you think there’s been enough death, enough loss, enough mourning? You and I both know what means to die before our time. This is a rare, precious chance to actually take a little bit of the sadness and suffering away.”

“Hmph. Like the girls we killed or their families wouldn’t be happy I was dead.” Bess grunted. “Aside from mine, who I have no idea how’d they react, who’d be sad I was gone?”

“I would.” Amber said. Bess was taken aback.

“W-Wha? Really? But I-”

“Did some very bad things. And I don’t think we could ever be friends anymore. But…after knowing what it means, I don’t want you dead either. So live. Live, and repent. Maybe you can forgive yourself then.” Bess stared at her, open-mouthed. Then, she started half-laughing, half-sobbing.

“Fine.” she said at last. “I’ll take what’s coming to me. I deserve it. Guess I’ll spend my life in jail.” She sighed.

“Well, I don’t know about that.” Scott said, sipping coffee. “I’ve been talking with Cross. The Craven Falls Killer is officially Stephanie Garret, as the ringleader of her little murder cult, delusioned into thinking she could perform a Satanic sacrifice for supernatural power. She’s gotten away with the other girls, although I think they’ve found Ivory. But anyways, while you’ve done some reprehensible things, you’ve had doubts, and contacted the detective after you’d learned of the plot to start a fire at the party. That’s the official story, at least. As such, you’ll likely receive a reduced sentence, being a help to the case and all.” he explained.

“That sounds like a cover-up and abuse of power.” Bess commented dryly. Scott shrugged.

“Eh, it’s close enough to what happened anyway for the masses to accept. You wanna tell ‘em the truth?” he countered.

“You have a point.” Amber admitted, scratching the side of her head.

“Also, it should go without saying you’re gonna stay in prison. No using your magic to escape. Cross’s got my number on speed dial." Scott said, draining his cup. Bess gave a mirthless laugh.

“You know, after all of this, it didn’t even cross my mind. I think I’m even looking forward to prison a bit. It’ll be good to get away from everything for awhile.” She turned back to face the sun. “I have a lot to think about.”

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Some time after the battle, after the wee hours of the morning had passed but before the dawn, Brian groaned and stirred.

“Ugh. My head.” He rubbed it and sat up, everything fuzzy. He saw the summoning circle on the floor. Once, it had seemed mysterious, significant, powerful. Now, it was just another mundane fact of life, like orange juice or the mailman. Of course a circle was necessary to twist diabolic energies into themselves, creating a current and forming an interdimensional whirlpool. He blinked.

“What the hell…” Bizarre concepts, incantations, and diagrams filled his mind. He could see it. He could see it all. “Yes, yes! So simple! It’s all so simple! Why couldn’t I see it before?” He laughed, an amused chuckle at his former naiveté.

Unbeknownst to him, something else in the room smiled. His shadow, behind him, rubbed its hands together independently of action from Brian, and grinned with a wide, cruelly sharp smile. Oh, this was going to be fun. All the knowledge, all the power, finally in a vessel on the material plane…

Brian unsteadily got to his feet, contemplating his new perspective on reality.

“There’s so much. I know so much now. I can see into the depths of reality, pierce the veil of time. Atoms contain no secrets to me now. All is one, and one is…hey! I got taller!” Indeed he had. The process of shoving the entire contents of the Libris Malefactorum Arcana into Brian’s brain had brought about physiological changes as well. He jumped up and down, enjoying his new height. “Awesome! This’s so cool! Whoo!”

Behind him, his shadow’s hand met its’s forehead.

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“Rrrgh. Ungrateful, pathetic wretches.” Stephanie said, shaking her hand and dismissing the shining oval she’d been using to monitor the action since last night. She growled.

The morning sunlight filtered through the trees. After Hastazemus’s blow, she had been flown miles and had landed, hard, in the woods behind the cemetery. She had been knocked for a loop, and had decided she was in no condition to keep fighting, not after Brxthilas had been destroyed and all her hard work stolen by someone else.

“This sucks.” she moaned, teeth chattering in the early November chill. After she herself had fallen, her one recourse had been to hope her minions had somehow managed to succeed. They had failed, of course. “Stupid girls! I practically handed everything to them on a silver platter, how could they screw it all up so badly!?” Stephanie huffed, her breath turning white. She shivered. Her thin outfit and robe weren’t suitable to survive the elements. “Well, I won’t be caught off-guard by Amber again. Ulmeths as cinaron keth.” Her eyes glowed purple as the spell that allowed her to perceive spirits took hold.

“I will have my vengeance. I’ll get the girls and-oh. Guess I’ll have to do it myself, then. Or, at the very least, screen better minions. The girls were too unreliable.” Wrapping the robe as tight around herself as she could, she started walking. “Or maybe,” she continued, eyes narrowed “that I shouldn’t try to find minions. Perhaps making them instead would be better. Ow!”

While thinking, her foot had hit a large stone in the clearing she had walked into. Stephanie rubbed her foot.

“What is this? It’s covered in grime.” She vigorously rubbed the strange markings off the rock, revealing it to be a tombstone. “Oh, just a gravestone. The hell? Why is it so far out form the cemetery? I’m done here.” She turned and started to walk away. However, she stopped as she heard a chuckle behind her.

Slowly, she turned to see a translucent old woman, thin and wiry, glowing blue and hair splayed in all directions. The rising ghost gave the girl a crooked smile.

“Hello, dearie.” Edith Warden crooned, and pounced.

Stephanie screamed.

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"Arrrryeeaaagghhh!" Courtney screamed, stamping her foot and clawing at the air in frustration. Carla sat on a rock by the side of the road, shaking her head and letting her get it out. "I can't believe it! That little-argleblarg!" With a swift, violent motion and grunted incantation, a large gash cut through the meadow next to the street. Carla, ever vigilant, scanned the area but she had chosen well. It was an older road, and few really came this way since the highway had been built.

"Feel better?" Carla asked, eyebrow raised.

"A little." Courtney said, still fuming. "But-all that work! All that time! Just...wiped out!"

"Just the way it goes." Carla said. She shivered in the breeze. The sun was shining warm and bright, but it was far too cold to be out in only loose robes and thin catsuits. "We lost. Best to deal with it, then rail against the past." She rubbed her hands together, trying to warm them.

Courtney, however, was sweating form her exertions. She stomped over and looked down at Carla.

"How can you be so calm about this!? We've lost! Stephanie's probably dead, and the daemons haven’t taken over the town." she said, gritting her teeth.

"Because none of that matters now. The fallout from this is severe." Courtney's brow furrowed.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Carla let out a long-suffering sigh.

"I mean, we can't go back into town. Scott, Amber, and the detective won, and they know who we are. There'll be an APB out for us. We are fugitives. Wanted criminals."

"Oh." Courtney said in a small voice. For the first time, her irritation faded and she truly saw just how much trouble they were in. "So...what do we do now?"

"Dunno." Carla shrugged sadly. "I don't know about you, but I don't particularly want to spend the rest of my life in jail. But I'm really just not seeing a lot of options otherwise here."

"Me neither." Courtney said, starting to feel sick. She started pacing, crunching on the fallen autumn leaves. Suddenly, she was hit by an idea. "Hey, I got it! We'll skip town and run away!"

"What?" Carla said skeptically.

"Yeah! It's simple; if we're wanted around here, then all we have to do is leave! We can go somewhere else, get jobs, start new lives there! It'll be great!" Courtney gushed, becoming excited at all the possibilities she was imagining. "I know it'll be hard to be away from everyone, but this way everyone wins!"

"...You do know we're underage, have nowhere to go, have no money, and haven't even graduated from high school yet, right?" Carla asked slowly, staring blankly at the other girl. "There are a ton of things wrong with that scenario. Have you really never heard of what happens to teenage runaways, even ones that aren't wanted for murder? Squatting in crackhouses, disease, irregular bathing, victims of sexual assault, underage prostitution...need I go on? It's not a pretty picture."

Courtney slapped her head, making a noise between a sigh and a howl, then grabbed Carla's shoulders, and looked her in the eye.

"You idiot, we have literal magic powers. No one can touch us." she said. Carla blinked.

"You know, you do raise an excellent point." she admitted.

"Of course." Courtney said, letting go. "How much range did your shadowwalking reach now?"

"Almost half a mile, triple that if I push it and don't have to do multiple hops." Carla said, mulling over the implications.

"There ya go. We can get out of anywhere we visit, if need be. And I can easily bewitch minds, so fooling people isn't hard at all. What do you say about sleeping in a Hilton hotel tonight? I've always wanted to, but never got a chance." She held her hand out to Carla. Carla let out a bark of laughter, shook her head, and took it.

"You're out of your mind. But I suppose I've come this far by following crazy folk, so why change now?"

"That's the spirit!" Courtney grinned. "Also, these?" she said, pulling on the purple robe. "Kinda conspicuous. And quite unfashionable. Away they go!" She ripped it off and threw it into the meadow, Carla following suit.

"Perhaps having more clothing would be beneficial, though." Carla said dryly, feeling her skin break out in goosebumps.

"Ahh, shut up. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the whole world is our oyster. Let's go! Although, I've never really understood that expression. Have you ever seen oysters? They're gross."

They started walking, down the road west out of town, smiling and bickering happily in the warm sunlight. Eventually a passing truck that'd pick up a pair of female hitchhikers would drive by, spraying mud on two worn purple robes, grinding them into the dirt.

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"There you are. All set? Need anything else for the night?" the nurse asked as Leo, swathed in bandages, swallowed his medicine and shook his head. His injuries were serious, although each one was relatively minor. Cross had delivered him to the hospital shortly after the battle, citing him as a hit-and-run victim. Eva had stayed with him the whole time, but prepared to leave when his family was about to arrive. He had seen the look on her face, and couldn't bear to send her away, reaching out a hand to stop her.

"Don't go. I know it's not what we talked about, but after tonight I don't care. I love you, and I don't want to hide you away. Please. Stay." Tears in her eyes, she nodded.

The resulting mess from that revelation to his mother and father wasn't as bad as he'd thought, although Leo supposed the fact that he was injured and in the hospital helped. They were more glad to see him alive than anything. Of course, his sister didn't care in the first place whether he had a girlfriend, older or not.

"So, all set to bunk down for the evening?" the nurse asked, taking the tray. Leo smile and nodded.

"I am, thank you for asking. I know it must be tiresome. Forgive me for the trouble." he said apologetically. The nurse shivered; the way his hair fell over his face, the way he smiled, making it seem like light glinted off his teeth...she was mildly cursing the fact he'd only be here overnight.

"Alright, hon. Just ring the buzzer if you need anything." she said. Turning the light off as she left, trying to banish thoughts about spongebaths. Leo waved and leaned back into the bed, alone in the darkness. He stared into space for awhile, reflecting on everything that happened tonight. "Everyone's gone, you know. You can come out if you want."

Six flames appeared above the bed, wheeling around a kaleidoscopic void of space from which the giant eyeball emerged. It greeted him warmly.

Well met, Warrior.

Leo got the same pleased impression he'd felt earlier.

"I was wondering when you'd show up. Hello, Lagdinras. I had a feeling you were watching." he said pleasantly.

Indeed. It is by the Will of the great Zet-Mathaig, Master of the Light, that I am here, however it is my desire to see you as well. You have survived your first Crucible. Congratulations.

"Thanks." Leo said, slightly worried he had called it his 'first' crucible. The eye shifted slightly, to look at him form another angle.

What troubles you, Warrior? The daemons have been vanquished, the town has been saved, and Justice has been upheld. There should be joyous Celebration, not uneasy Rumination.

"Heh. You have a way with words. But you're supposed to know everything, like past and future, right? Don't you already know?" The golden eye focused out on him and stared at the ceiling.

True, true. To a being such as I, Time has no meaning. I know, for you have already told me. However, just as I know does not mean you should not talk. What is the matter? Out with it.

"Guess that makes sense." Leo said, feeling the eye's gentle chiding pressure. "It's just...not that I'm ungrateful, I'm happy I could help. But I can't help but feel like just one piece in a larger, more complicated puzzle I can't see or hope to understand. I was just handed a magic sword and told to go out and defeat the daemons. There's just too much I didn't know, too much I still don't know. I can't help but feel like there's something else going on. I'd do it again in a heartbeat, but, I don't know, it just feels like..." He trailed off, at a loss for words.

You are buffeted by the unknowable winds of Fate, unsure where you are going or whether your Choice was correct. Nor if the decisions you will make will lead to a positive outcome. The ones above you seem to keep to themselves, cold and uncaring, thrusting you into a situation you are not sure you can handle, but have to anyway.

Leo blinked. Lagdinras gave off a feeling like a sigh and drifted closer to the bed, seeming to shrink in magnitude.

"Yeah, it does kind of feel like that." he admitted. Lagdinras gave off a smile impression at Leo.

As your species would say, get used to it. I Myself have felt this way for the fifteen aeons I have been the great Zet-Mathaig, Hope of All Worlds' Messenger.

"How do you deal with it?" Leo asked quietly.

I have Faith. Faith in the great Zet-Mathaig, Slayer of All that Crawls in Darkness. Faith in my fellow Messengers. And Faith in our noble Warrior comrades, such as Yourself. I have Faith in you, Leo Manning. You have joined Us of your own free Will. You are not the only one who feels this way. Know you are not the only one. We all have Doubt and Uncertainty. But we also have Each Other. And That, I think, is something to find comfort in.

Smiling, Leo chuckled and nodded. He did feel better. Like the world was still spinning, but his feet were planted solidly on the ground, at least when Lagdinras put it like that. The eye radiated pleased contentment at him.

Very well. I must go, Leo Manning.

"Wait." The eye swiveled to focus on him. "I wanted to thank you. With this sword..." He brandished the charm on his wrist. "I had the power to protect the one I love. I am forever in your debt for that alone."

It is as nothing. Rather, you have proved Worthy, as dictated by the great-

"Yes, and I'm very grateful to him as well," Leo cut off, not up for another round of praise. "But actually, the other issue is about me. I..." He remembered what he had done, and what Scott had managed to do. "I wasn't very much help. I know I did everything I could, I know I did well, but...I could do more. I can feel it. If I were faster, stronger, more skilled...I know I could have done better." His blue eyes stared into Lagdinras's golden one, not an ounce of give in him. "I know there's going to be more stuff like this in the future. Can you help me get stronger?"

Ho. The new recruit is getting arrogant and greedy, demanding special training to do everything himself.

"What? No, I-" Leo started, taken aback. His brain was suddenly filled with impressions of laughter.

Learn to take a Joke, boy! You will Live longer! Any way, rest for now. Your injuries will heal within a week, so I have decreed. After that, we shall see about what can be Done. Take Care, Leo Manning. Hail the great Zet-Mathaig, He who holds Virtue up with His many Loving tentacles! Farewell!

Space warped and Lagdinras faded away, leaving Leo in the dark once more. He settled into bed to sleep.

"Hail Zet-Mathaig." he muttered as he drifted off.

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A note from Dreadwizard Siegfried

Welp, that's it. Only one more chapter, then I Was a Teenage Necromancer comes to an end.


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Dreadwizard Siegfried

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