After a brief lunch at Jonathan’s cabin, Jonathan, Chester, and Aderes rode over to Marcus’ house.
There was no smoke rising from the chimney and when they knocked on the door, no one responded. He must have been out working.
They waited outside and tied their horses to a tree.
Jonathan gave a brief showing of the gardens directly in front of the home. He had to sort through half-remembered lectures about the types of flowers and bushes.
Chester actually did remember about the flowers because his dad had a habit of bringing some back for his mom on occasion.
It was a decent time past noon when another horse approached the house. Marcus was on top of the dappled grey, old steed. He dismounted and tied his horse to the tree. There was a large scowl on his face, shadowed by his furred cap. “What’s with the party?” His paranoia was easy to spot.
Chester had been looking at the flowers still. Once he glanced back at the necromancer, he locked eyes with the older man.
Marcus spat something vile underneath his breath. “Undead. Jonathan, who did you sell me out to?” Without any further warning, he withdrew a small pistol from his back and aimed it at Aderes.
“Calm down, Marcus.”
“Who is she? Jonathan, what type of scum did you bring to my doorstep! Did you sell me out or not?” Marcus snarled. He hadn’t been having a good day, but this just cemented it as one of the worst he had in decades.
“It’s not-” Jonathan’s reply was cut off from Marcus firing the pistol.
Chester shoved Aderes out of the way, taking the bullet in his arm.
Aderes stumbled and regained her balance. She pulled her spear off her back with practiced ease and chucked it.
The spear rammed into Marcus’ hand, the pistol blocked most of the damage, but fell to the ground. The man cursed again under his breath as blood dripped down his hand.
Jonathan had withdrawn his sword and rushed towards the florist.
Oceton had taken flight from his shoulder and was cherry red with the flames inside of his belly, ready to be unleashed.
Jonathan leveled his sword at the necromancer’s throat. “Stop. Are you ready to talk?”
“Talk?” Marcus was edging his injured hand up slowly. “You bring an undead and a necromancer in training to my doors, and you say to talk?”
“Necromancer in training?”
“The girl,” Marcus spat. “She doesn’t have the full eyes yet, but I know you haven’t been practicing anything. You don’t know about ritualistic magic.”
“She’s not a necromancer,” Jonathan defended. “Someone else brought our friend back. We need help.”
“If you want help, remove your blade from my throat.”
Jonathan complied and backed away.
Marcus bent over and picked up his pistol. He hesitated for a minute, clearly thinking over his options, but put the weapon in his belt and pulled his keys out instead. The florist stamped his feet on the porch outside, then unlocked his door. “Come in,” he gruffly ordered. He left the door open as he started to rustle through his things
Chester headed straight inside, while Aderes and Jonathan hesitated for a moment.
The bard couldn’t help but gape at some of the flowers growing in pots. He grew up around here and knew which ones were native. Most of the ones outside were, but the ones inside were not.
While Chester stared at the flowers, Aderes bandaged the bullet wound. It wasn’t gushing blood, like it would for a normal, mortal man—Chester didn’t have a properly functioning heart anymore—but it dripped, a mix of dark red and ink black liquid. He didn’t even seem that bothered by the wound, barely noticing it.
“Start on the pine tea. You know where it is.” Marcus pulled out a roll of cloth from one of his cabinets and bandaged his hand.
Jonathan rolled his eyes. It really was the same annoying man that was his neighbor; that really hadn’t changed.
Marcus leaned on his cabinet and wrapped some string around the bandages to keep it tight. “If you ever pull something like this again, don’t make me think you sold me out to hunters or necromancers, or I will put a bullet through someone’s skull.”
Jonathan glanced away from the tea to watch his neighbor. He saw that Marcus was entirely serious about his threat, and muttered an agreement.
“Who are you two?” Marcus asked.
“I’m Chester Yulr. I’m a bard!” The undead had plastered a thick smile onto his smile. He wanted to make a good impression despite the brief fight and injury.
“Yulr . . . Zachariah’s kid.” Marcus narrowed his eyes; behind his large round glasses, the expression just made his black eyes more apparent. “You’re a sentient undead. Rare. Why would someone want to bring a normal bard back from the dead like that?”
“The necromancer who did this? It wasn’t his plan,” Chester helpfully clarified. “He was planning to bring someone else back. It was a mistake on his part.”
“Stupidly lucky, even after death.” Marcus scoffed. “You’re quite annoying as a person.”
Aderes didn’t appreciate the comment, but brought out some sketches Chester had done of the symbols in the circle. She spread them out on the table.
Marcus flipped through the pages. “This lines up for a proper summoning for a sentient level dead. Any ideas why the section for being bound to the necromancer’s will is missing?”
Jonathan put the tea set down on the table. He disregarded the last question from the now confirmed necromancer. “We want to keep the necromancer, or any other necromancers, from bringing back the other person who died there.”
Marcus took a sip of the pine tea and decided to let his brew for a bit longer. He took out his pipe and opened the window. “Was this the mage you killed?”
Marcus nodded. Sentient undead could still use magic. It would make sense that if someone wanted a mage, then they would bring that mage back as sentient. With his pipe still in his mouth, he crouched down and pulled up the floorboards. A large pack with all sorts of strange items had been hidden there. “What can you pay me?”
“Five hundred gold,” Aderes offered.
Marcus laughed, not believing it.
Aderes held up a pouch of the small gold coins and opened the bag to show. “If you know how to prevent a necromancy ritual, I’ll pay you right now. If you scam us, I’m taking my money back.
Aderes lobbed it over.
Marcus checked one of the gold pieces on his crooked teeth and tucked the money away. “Now I really want to know your story. Most people don’t throw money around unless they’re a merchant or a noble.”
“Or a gambler,” Chester tacked on. He was holding onto a perfectly innocent smile as the other three looked at him. “Definitely not from personal experience,” he joked.
Aderes sighed. She was already mourning the loss of some of her personal funds. “I forgot I could have just had you pay for this.”
“Too late,” Chester said gleefully. The sudden happiness soon ended when he wasn’t able to dodge being punched in the arm in time.
“When do you want to leave?” Marcus asked Jonathan.
“As soon as possible.”
Marcus looked at the trio of young people. “Then let’s leave now.”
There was no disagreement. No one here wanted Ciley to come back, whether for monetary or personal reasons.
Reminder! The fanday is, Saturday June 24th, 2023. Check the carrd out above, or go to this twitter thread: https://twitter.com/TheSilverHunt3r/status/1657446101539074055
I’ll be retweeting, reblogging, or sharing creations as they come out. Most stuff will be linked on my kofi if the creators agree. https://ko-fi.com/thesilverhunt3r
New prologue and chapter 1 for An Unwilling Prince here: https://eatapplepies.com/prince-0/ https://eatapplepies.com/prince-1/
New animation here: https://youtu.be/l3VsS8fluoU