While the sun lay below the horrizon:
Mortimer sat on his own, hardly unusual, and mused on how he had got here and what he had gotten himself into and all that he might get out of it… In the scroll tube that lay across his lap, Mortimer Greysproket, “cowardly” spell-slinger of the 13th Undying had the secrets to make himself just that. The irony being he would become Undying, or die trying.
This was the realm of a master Wizard and Necromancer who desired, as Mortimer did himself above all things, to attain the power to defeat death and rise to an immortal life, (or unlife). Mortimer had considered the types of traps and tricks he would use if he had discovered such a power and wished to keep it from others after his… well he wouldn’t admit that he would ‘die’ in the strict sense, but… even so the lengths he would go to were beyond devious and cruel.
They had to assume that in the tomb… He had to be prepared.
For Mortimer, a Gnome that had taken to Necromancy not out of twisted fetish but pure practicality, that meant disposable raw material…
As the others slept after a fraught trek back from the cave, Mortimer let grains of sand fall through his small, but nimble fingers.
I wonder how many of these grains are the bones, shells, teeth and skulls of things long dead.
Reaching down into the earth with his dark, arcane, energies mortimers mind sought for that self-same feel of the dead that he had poured his power into in the cave to… impressive results. Instead of finding the void of life lost however, he found a spark of life in-patentia. Calling to that instead he was surprised and he had to admit, amused to see first a tiny creature of dust, and then one of pebbles, and then even one of air.
He let them all flit or simply fall away however when someone moved toward the camp, one of the elves, finished with their freakish trances. Maybe he’d show them his new-found “connection to nature” he smiled to himself.
When the first rays of light rose
The little gnome nodded to his slightly taller friend and she prepared for morning prayers. He knelt with her as they prayed to a dead god, and he watched as she drew dagger over willing flesh. A tiny bead of crimson splashed into the sands and shrub grasses, but in a breath it was gone and nothing to show for it than pinker dust.
The land is thirsty here, for moisture, yes, but also life. That gives me an idea.
Mortimer was packed up, his improvised ritual was complete and there wasn’t a moment to lose, the desert was thirsty for life but he had no idea how long he would be able to feel that hunger, how long his newly imagined blood-rite might last. Between finger and thumb of both hands his held the curved index fingers of one of the withered hands he kept… handy. They swung eerily in the morning breeze as if to point… but they would take a thirsty man to no water.
As the sun climbed in the sky
He had found his first one. Sun bleached, sand blasted, 3 quarters buried and the vultures having done the cleanup work for him. He sipped at his canteen, already feeling light, and scored eXestential Markup into the sand and dirt. Out loud he called functions and held floating points out into the either that wrote his will onto the bones of the life weary traveler, and the first one rose up.
With the sun blazing overhead he cursed his luck, canteen almost depleted and still he’d found only one. Ther had to be more! But the bones hand swung wildly and lead him to a small casm, nothing could be buried here! But he knew his ritual worked, he had found the first hadn’t he. Where then? Finally he looked down and chuckled, amused. Of course… and once again things better at surviving these harsh lands had done the work for him. If only he could Misty Step to the floor of the cliff, but the distance… was just a variable… and the excess mass… could be accounted for within the laws of Enochian Dynamics.
He stepped, arriving at the foot of the ravine with way more momentum than he had expected, he arrived face down amongst the poor fools who had taken a less magically assisted decent.
What had he been thinking? There was no way that spell should have worked. It was this heat, dark robes and mid-day sun.
He had his first pick him up as he looked at the next, two adults and a child. Tragic. But a shame to waste.
As the sun glared him in the eye
He struggled to put one foot before the other, all-but carried by his now-retinue of silent, bleached ivory servators. the smallest one carried his pack without complaint. But his canteen had been emptied hours ago and his body ached and shivered despite the heat with the sheer amounts of arcane energies he had pulled through it. The heat played tricks on the eyes so he thoughts the cacti grove meer mirage until he brushed a spine.
Saviour! He pulled out an ornate sacrificial knife and ran it’s length along the green leather, pure crystal clear sap oozed forth. Mortimer was mere millimeters from it when he sniffed, and then saw. An elf, this one not long dead, a few days maybe.
So it’s poison then. That’s how you’d take me? Not this Gnome my friend.
“You will never take my life I shall have yours!”
He hadn’t even realised he was shrieking this aloud as he flung out hands curled into claws and pulled the life essence from the tall old trunk before him. His blight saw it crumble to a lifeless grey/brown husk in moments. Mortimer fell back against one of his morbid assistance who stood untroubled by the dead-weight. Only he wasn’t dead, felt… alive, alert, stronger, better for that! He lashed out with deathly passion at another cacti, and another, chuckling as he felt strong and more alive with each withered husk until he stood surrounded in the destruction wrought by his Grim Harvest.
as the sun sank
Out from it trugged a weary little creature he leant on a pole easily twice his length, apparently twisted from the bones of the desert’s helpless, those two far gone to join the ranks of Mortimer’s found friends.
He flicked back his hood revealing how close to being one of the deserts victims himself. He croaked for water and thankfully the party he reunited with were able to oblige.
He caught their looks though;
They glanced behind them at the village of Homlet, an oasis marooned in the desert
“No, not in there, they’re not for there, they have orders to wait, wait in the sand, out of
sight. They are for what comes next, better them than us.”
And with that he fell at his Dwarven friend’s feet, shallow breaths barely disturbing the sands.