Heather clutched her scythe as she walked through the gate of the graveyard into the darkness of the forest. Frank looked around through the trees, and Quinny hunched low and listened. Behind them walked the bone knight, making a clicking noise as he moved.
“You're sure that wasn't a wolf?” Heather asked.
“It sounded like one,” Frank said.
“I have heard the wolves howl a dozen times now. They aren’t that loud,” Quinny replied.
“So, what could sound like a wolf but be much louder?” Heather asked.
Frank scratched at his head as he thought about it. “Maybe one of the giant wolf varieties.”
“What would a giant wolf be doing here?” Quinny asked.
“Is there any chance of the forest spawning a rare one?”
Quinny shook her head. “I have been obsessing over having wolves for days. I must have read the description a hundred times. I can get three varieties with four random variations if I upgrade.”
“Did you upgrade?” Heather asked as they walked deeper into the trees.
“No, I spent the points on the lower chamber for Frank to connect to,” she said.
In the distance, they heard a howl, but it was much quieter.
“See, that’s a wolf howl,” she said.
The pressed on following the path as it worked its way toward her hill. As her hill came into view, so did the open grave. It was marked by three old gravestones with two graves that were covered with disturbed soil. The rightmost grave was an open pit as if waiting for a coffin. A mound of dirt was heaped up beside it with a lantern on top and a small shovel sticking out the side.
All around it was the bones of her shattered skeletons.
“Something is here,” Frank said. “It killed all her skeletons.”
“Can you feel where it is?” Heather asked as she looked around nervously.
“I have to be in my burial mound using the buffer to see that,” she replied.
“Frank can sense when people are in the graveyard,” Heather pointed out.
“I can only sense they are there,” he said. “I can vaguely tell where, but Quinny can pinpoint them and even take over her monsters to play with.”
“I want to be able to do that,” Heather said.
“You can take your undead with you,” Frank said. “That’s a huge benefit.”
Heather looked to the skeleton behind her and hoped that it was going to make the difference.
Somewhere in the forest, there was a tremendous growl. It echoed off the trees and made them all crouch down as if to hide.
“Does this world have those dogs with three heads?” Heather asked as she searched the distant trees.
“The mythical one is called Cerebus,” Frank said. “And yes, this world does. It also has hell hounds, shadow beasts, frost wolves, fire wolves, giant wolves, silver main wolves.”
“Don’t forget those ones with the spikes on their back and the lizard tail,” Quinny said.
“I forget what those are called,” he admitted.
“I think they are called cinder hounds,” she said.
“Why does the world need so many wolves?” Heather asked.
Frank laughed. “People like variety, and that’s a tiny portion of the kind of wolves or dogs they have. I know there is one variety that has three tails that can run super fast.”
Heather looked at him with a funny expression. “Is this like that one game with all the little animals?”
“That just described nearly every video game,” he said.
“You know the one where you throw the little bat to catch them.”
“Ha!” Quinny laughed. “You don’t even know what that game is?”
“I am not a gamer!” Heather snapped.
“It’s one of the most popular and widely known games in human history,” Quinny laughed.
“Can we just see what it is that’s lurking in the forest?” Heather asked.
Quinny snorted as she laughed and stood up tall. “Should we search the forest, or go int the burial mound so I can look in the buffer?”
Frank looked through the trees again. “It would be faster to look in the buffer, but more of an adventure to hunt for ourselves.” He turned to look at Heather and smiled a gruesome smile. “And I know how much you like adventure.”
Heather gawked at him and shook her head.
“I had enough adventure yesterday. Thank you very much.”
A second snarling sound echoed through the trees making Heather grip her scythe tightly.
“What if it’s that snapping lizard thing from yesterday?” she asked as her concern rose.
Frank was silent a moment before answering. “That thing never howled. Whatever this is, it is definitely a wolf based creature.”
“I vote we hunt for it,” Quinny said.
Heather relented, and they walked on, following the trail deeper into the woods. She felt a strange sense of fear and excitement as they passed through the shadows. All around, they saw blinking eyes from dark holes or distant trees. A crow called somewhere in the distance, and a tree groaned as if in a breeze. They rounded a bend in the trail and stopped at a grisly scene.
“It’s a player,” Heather gasped.
“It was a player,” Frank said as they approached.
The body of a player lay still in the trail with a backpack torn open and a shield thrown aside. It was a green-skinned humanoid with tusks in his mouth. He wore a mail shirt with leather leg armor and boot. His chest was shredded, his throat ripped out, and one arm was barely attached.
“Ewww!” Heather groaned. “Why did they have to make it look so realistic?” She tried to look at the body but had to keep turning away.
“They reduced the amount of blood people spill out,” Frank said. “But, this does look horrible.”
“I'm a zombie, and even I'm grossed out,” Quinny admitted.
“Your wolves are awful,” Heather groaned.
“My wolves didn't do this,” Quinny said.
“Not unless they like to loot bodies,” Frank added as he picked through the backpack. “Everything of value has been taken.”
“So, another player did this?” Heather asked.
Frank looked over the body and pulled at the arm. “Whatever it is, it has very big claws.”
“Ugh! Can we just bury that so I don’t have to look at it?” Heather asked.
Frank looked around the body and leaned over something on the trail.
“There is a bloody footprint here in the trail,” he said as he hunched over.
Heather carefully stepped around the body to look at the track in the road.
“That’s not a foot!” she protested. “That’s like a dragon claw!”
“A dragons would be much bigger and have one less toe,” Frank said. “This is something smaller with five toes.”
“Whatever it was, it was strong enough to rip this guys chain armor,” Quinny pointed out.
Heather looked around again as she gripped her weapon tightly.
“What if the thing that did this is watching us?” she asked.
They all looked through the trees, and Frank shrugged. “I could do this kind of thing. Maybe it's another ghoul player.”
“Ghouls don’t howl!” Heather insisted.
“I could howl if I wanted to,” he replied.
Heather glared at him for being silly and looked at the track again.
“Your tracks leave heel indents. This one is all toes.”
They studied the tracks a moment, and Frank shrugged. “It's something like me. Something bigger than a normal human with heavily clawed limbs.”
“Let's keep looking,” Quinny suggested. “I don't want to go back to m burial mound alone with whatever did that running loose.”
Heather nodded, and they cautiously made their way down the trail looking for any sign of the elusive creature. They found a few dead bats and even a dead wolf. As they rounded the last bend before the road, they found a man standing a the trail entrance.
He was a little taller than Heather in brown pants and a tan shirt. He had a straw hat on his head and a short sword at his waist. On his back was a sturdy brown backpack laden with supplies. He turned when he heard them approaching, and Heather could see he had a smiling face. A short dark beard circled his mouth, and bushy brows hooded his eyes.
“And what is this?” he said as Heather and the others approached.
“Excuse us,” Heather began. “Have you seen a monster with claws around here?”
The stranger reached up to scratch his head right under his hat with a gesture that made her think of Frank.
“A monster with claws, you say?” the man replied. He looked at Quinny and Frank with a curious expression and beamed a broad smile. “I would say he is right there,” he added, pointing at Frank.
Frank folded his arms over his chest as he stood tall, towering up so that his shoulders were above Heather's head.
“It wasn't me,” he said. “We have been together all morning. Something came into our forest and killed some of our minions.”
“And another player,” Quinny added.
“So you’re all players,” the man remarked. “And monster ones too. Brave of you.”
“What do you know about it?” Frank asked.
“Forgive me,” the man said with another smile. “The named Finneous, Finneous Jones.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Heather said. “I'm Heather, and this is Quinny and Frank.”
“A lovely couple,” Finneous remarked.
“We're not a couple,” Frank replied, still glaring at the man.
“So what brings you to our home Mr jones,” Heather asked before giving Frank a swat to stop his glaring.
“Why I am looking for adventure,” the man said. “Always more to do near the frontiers.”
“The frontiers?” Heather asked.
“He means the edges of the spawn radius. We're on the southern edge of the spawn points. Most people go north and move deeper in because everything south of us is technically wild,” Frank replied.
“Exactly,” Finneous replied. “Everything south of here is a wilderness full of danger and surprises.”
“You have no idea,” Quinny laughed before Frank glanced at her and shook his head.
Frank turned back to the man and narrowed his eyes.
“So you didn't see anything then?” he asked, returning to his original question.
Finneous smiled and shook his head. “Noting that fits your description. I did see an orc about an hour ago. I met him further down the trail to the east.”
“That must be whose dead on the path,” Heather said.
“So this is your forest then?” he asked.
Heather looked up and then back at the trees. “This? Oh, this is Quinny's. Frank has a graveyard, and I have a tower beyond the graveyard. You're welcome to adventure inside. We have bats and wolves and some skeletons.”
“You're not adverse to people hunting in your lands?”
Heather smiled as she shook her head. “Oh no, not at all. We welcome players in to hunt. We all get a little experience after all.”
Finneous nodded and tipped his hat up. “Well, it was a pleasure to meet you all. I may come back later and take you up on your offer. I could use a little experience myself.”
“Just stay out of the underground tunnels, and Heather’s tower,” Frank said. “Those are guarded by more powerful things.”
“Is that so?” Finneous said with the first hint of interest in his voice. “Well, good day to you all,”
They watched him walk down the road whistling as he went.
“He was nice,” Heather said.
“He’s up to something,” Frank replied.
“Oh, you're suspicious of everybody,” Heather remarked.
“And I am right every time,” he replied. “Something about Finneous is off.”
Heather rolled her eyes and turned back to the forest. “So if the monster didn’t come out this way, it must still be in there.”
“It doesn’t have to follow the trail,” Frank said. “It could be in the portion by the river or back behind Quinny’s burial mound.”
“Then let's go find out,” Heather suggested. “If we don't see anything, we will go to Quinny's burial mound, and she can use the buffer to see if anybody is here.”
Frank nodded his agreement and led the way off the trail and into the trees. They walked for twenty minutes exploring the dark forest. It was interesting to see the maze of trees and how isolated you could feel in it.
“I swear this forest makes this whole area seem bigger,” Heather laughed.
“It's because our vision is so limited,” Frank replied. “The stream is just over there, but because we can't see it, it feels miles away.”
Heather squinted to look through the trees and shrugged when they heard a twig snap.
“Get down,” Frank whispered as he crouched low, sitting on his toes.
“Did you see anything?” Quinny asked.
Frank nodded and pointed a long-nailed finger.
“There in the brush beyond those trees,” he said. “Something big and furry.”
Heather and Quinny followed the point and went wide-eyed as they caught a glimpse of movement.
“It’s tall!” Quinny said.
“And covered in fur,” Heather added. “Is it a monster of some kind?”
Frank tied to get a better look, but the shape moved behind a tree.
“It could be some form of furbolg or troll,” he said. “That would explain why the body was so badly torn apart.”
“So, what do we do?” Quinny asked.
Frank turned to Heather and gestured with his head. “Send in your skeleton.”
Heather nodded and pointed to the distant shape that was moving through the shadows.
“Bone knight, kill that,” she ordered.
The skeleton's mouth fell open in a piercing cackle as it charged across the forest floor. The form in the shadows turned, and for a moment, they saw two glaring eyes and a bolt of blue energy raced out striking the bone knight. It hardly slowed as it ran into the shadows, and both forms were gone.
From where the three hid, they could head the cackle of the bone knight and then a chilling yell of anguish before it all went silent. A moment later, the bone knight walked back.
“I guess it won,” Quinny laughed.
“This skeleton must be really tough,” Frank said.
Heather shrugged and looked out into the distance. “Should we go see what it was?”
Frank nodded, and they set off in search of the fallen monster.
A moment later, they found a mass of white fur lying motionless behind a tree. They crept up on it slowly as if the body would leap up and attack.
“It’s some kind of lama looking thing,” Quinny said.
“Why does this look familiar?” Frank asked as they reached the body.
“It had a spear,” Quinny replied. “It looks just like the one I gave my skeleton.”
Frank reached out and turned the body over.
“Oh, no!” Heather cried. “I feel so guilty now!”
“Ha!” Quinny laughed. “It’s Grettah.”
Heather looked at her bone knight and shook her head.
“I told her she was free to play here, and then I killed her,” Heather cried.
“We did warn her the forest was dangerous,” Frank reminded her.
“On the plus side, I have another spear,” Quinny laughed.
“And I am sure there is more food in her pack,” Frank suggested.
Heather looked over at the dead woman’s body and chewed a lip.
“Well, accidents happen.”
Support "Heather the Necromancer"
- Eastern United States- Thats all your getting.
- newbie writer, wise old story teller.
I am a fan of fantasy and romance stories. I have been writing from a very early age and love to tell stories. I lack a good education in grammar however and I have been struggling to teach myself.
I love dragons and have for years been working on a story where they featured heavily. This is the culmination of that work. I hope it measures up to some kind of standard and that you the reader deeply enjoy it.
I have no awards to brag about. I have no education to brag about. I haven’t written any award-winning books or articles in major publications. I am just an obscure storyteller shouting his story from the void in the hopes that somebody will hear it.
Thank you so much for reading my story. Sharing what I have and finding a way to focus on it for the future is all I ever wanted to do.