Authors: James J. Crofoot
Tags: #adventure, #ghosts, #magic, #necromancer, #dragon, #undead, #skeleton, #dark magic, #bandits
I wish to see the queen,” he announced.
The four lesser guards laughed as they looked at him,
dismissed his presence, and went back to rolling their
My name is Thomas, I am from the east, and a student of
Xavier the Necromancer.”
Oh,” one of the game players said to his comrades. “A student
of Xavier. Be sure to let him pass, boys.” More laughter came and
the leader smiled at Thomas.
I wish to see the queen,” Thomas repeated.
Upon seeing they still paid him no attention, Thomas went to
pass by the gates, but the one with the silver piping stepped in
front of him to block his way.
Ere now, what is it ya think yer doin’?”
The others now stood and surrounded him.
I wish to see your queen. It’s rather important,” Thomas
announced. “You would do well to step aside or lead me to
The guards laughed and grabbed him. They then proceeded to
toss him a good ten feet out of the gatehouse. “Out ya go, student
He landed on his hands and knees, tearing his hose at the left
knee. A few passersby stopped to laugh.
We’ll see, morons.”
Thomas reached into his pouch and grabbed a tooth. He then
knelt in the light traffic of people, some grumbling at him about
him getting in their way. He then grabbed a pinch of dirt and
buried the tooth. A few people stopped, curious to watch. Thomas
started his spell.
The risen started to grow. The leader stood and watched, as
the risen grew and took form, but the words “witchcraft” and “dark
mage” caused the people to back farther and farther away. By the
time the thing took full form and size, the guards were the only
ones within fifty feet. Although they had their pikes now, they
looked like they wanted to run as well. Thomas knew that if it
weren’t for the leader holding his ground, they would be less
Thomas stood and folded his arms across his chest. He met the
leader’s shrewd eyes.
Someone fetch the sergeant major,” the leader called over his
* * *
Thomas stood in front of Rosa del Alore with his risen,
conjured for the benefit of the guards. The audience hall held
about twenty people, all dressed in fine court attire. Two steady
looking guardsmen flanked the queen with pikes. Thomas sensed they
waited for the slightest wrong move on his part.
Middle-aged, but still very fair, would be a good description
for the ruler. Her robes of office, a deep crimson, and her black
silver threaded dress, showed off her slender form. Her red hair,
just starting to grey in flecks, framed a lightly freckled face.
She sat on her throne. The authority in her eyes spoke of no
Thomas bowed his head. “Your Majesty. I’ve come to speak of
this dragon that is the talk of your fair city.”
A man in his fifties with a long, grey beard and hair, and
wearing flamboyant blue clothes, stepped forward to stand beside
the queen. “What is it you wish to know, young man?”
Is it you who told everyone the nonsense about a dragon
rising from the dead?” Thomas asked.
Yes,” the old fop put on an air of disdain. “It was I. I am
an expert on dragon lore.”
Where did you get that gibberish?” Thomas shook his
The old mage puffed himself up overly straight with a good
deal of indignation showing on his face.
I take great offense at that remark, sir,” he announced. “Who
do you think you are? Shalazar stands before you. Keeper of the
Blue Flame, Royal Reagent of the Seal of Targon, Heir of Cragon,
Caretaker of the Staff of Blair, Loremast…”
It must be hard to breathe through all those titles,”
Young man, I shall burn you into oblivion, I
Risen,” Thomas interrupted again. “Kill the mage.”
Thomas’s creature took a step forward and the man’s face
turned from red to ashen. With his eyes the size of tea saucers, he
began to stutter.
I’ll…I’ll…call him off…if you value…” The man turned and ran
through a door beside the throne.
Call off your servant, necromancer,” Queen Rosa
Thomas ordered the creature to stop.
I know he is not all he says,” the queen remarked. “But he
has nowhere to go and he entertains me. You’ve upset him and I will
have to hear another story from his adventures to calm him down.”
She smiled and Thomas felt a slight shame. “Now tell me of this
Your majesty,” Thomas said. “I have never met a dragon.
However, I have studied them quite a lot with a very good teacher.
I have read of good dragons. What of these rumors are true? Does
this dragon have the same markings as the one you killed some years
It has been ten years, but I’ll not forget,” the queen began
as she looked to a window showing a garden of yellow blooms. “I had
a dragon slaughtered because it was killing both my subjects and a
good deal of livestock. Only later did it come to my attention
there was a young one, a hatchling.” She paused and turned back to
face Thomas. “You may think it odd, but I am a mother, too. I felt
very sorry for this young dragon and the men who killed its mother
couldn’t bring themselves to kill it as well. It has not bothered
us, until now that is. Nevertheless, I must do something about it.
It has killed no people yet, at least no credible report has been
made. Can you get it to just go away?”
As I have said, Your Majesty, I have never met a dragon, but
I think I would like to meet this one. Especially as you have
reaffirmed my belief it has harmed no one and only taken some
livestock.” Thomas thought for a moment. “Every dragon has a lair,
this may have stayed where it was hatched. Dragons are intelligent
creatures, maybe I can talk with it. Can you lead me
The queen’s eye narrowed. “If I arrange to get you there,
would you try to just persuade it to go back to where it has been?
I have already taken its mother. Tell it to just go
* * *
Three days later, Thomas found himself sitting beside a
campfire with his guide. As it turned out, this man, the Sergeant
of the Guard from the gatehouse, fought with those who killed the
mother dragon ten years before.
You don’t have a lot of respect for me, do you?”
The look on the sergeant’s face made the necromancer think he
had overstepped some boundary.
It’s mages in general.”
Why is that?” Thomas asked, adding, “Some mages command a
great deal of power.”
You’re arrogant, but by the way you’ve kept up with me, I can
see you’re not afraid of hard work,” the sergeant said. “Look, why
are you here? What are you doing up in these mountains looking for
a beast that may decide to eat you?”
I want to know,” Thomas answered. “I didn’t start out wanting
to be what I am. I just wanted to learn to read and write so I
could see the world. I wanted out of my tiny village. Becoming a
necromancer was just a by-product of that learning.”
The sergeant gazed into the night. “And this dragon? Why do
you search for this beast?”
Dealing with death as I do, I’ve come to appreciate life a
lot more than my teacher. This dragon has not killed anyone. I have
to see if I can get it to leave before the queen has to kill
So, you believe this dragon is more than just a dumb beast?”
asked the sergeant.
Yes, I’m pretty certain it’s no dumb beast,” Thomas replied.
“Besides death, dragons were probably the only thing my teacher
found joy in. He had many books on the subject.” Thomas shifted to
a more comfortable place in the gravelly dirt. “There was a dragon,
a very long time ago, who gave a very powerful item to a princess
enabling her to become a very powerful and just queen. These two
fought an army of demons side by side and were lifelong friends.
These two are legend. The dragon’s name was Alexis Dwimmermere, and
she was definitely not a dumb beast.”
The sergeant met Thomas’s eyes with a penetrating gaze. “We
did the same as killing a mother robin, trying to feed its young,
and left its nestling to feed itself. Do you understand this,
The necromancer looked away and into the night at the sound of
a night bird.
The soldier rolled himself under his thin, grey wool blanket.
“We’ll reach the dragon’s valley in the morning.”
* * *
Thomas and the sergeant looked out onto a lush, green valley.
With climbing up here rough, and the opening in the wall of the
mountains surrounding this hidden place only a crevice on the
outside, Thomas doubted he would have found this in a hundred years
of searching on his own.
This is where we killed the dragon’s mother,” the sergeant
told him as he wiped the dirt from his hands. “I led the queen’s
soldiers here, but made sure none that survived told anyone of this
valley. We regretted killing the beast, when we found she protected
her child. Like killing a mother bear, you know it’s dangerous, but
you can’t help but think of the cubs.
I sincerely hope we can talk to this little beast. I hope you
can get it to stop raiding the herds before someone gets hurt. I
must tell ya, if the queen orders it, I will lead troops here
Marveling at the beautiful place, he only took his attention
from it at the swordsman’s last remark. “Let’s find it,
They did not have to look far.
Leave my valley,” came a booming voice behind and above
The sergeant drew his sword in a blur and both turned to look
up at the speaker.
There, staring back at them from its hold on the slanted
mountainside just above the crevice which they had just entered,
perched the blue-green object of the quest. With eyes of gold and
ten-inch claws, it held on by its serpentine tail being wrapped
around an outcropping.
We only wish to talk, wyrm,” Thomas said.
Talk?” came the booming voice again. “Why would I wish to
talk to such as you? I can blast you into nothingness with a single
breath! I can rip you to pieces and gnaw on your bones, or crush
them and eat the marrow if I wish!”
The Queen of Garnet sent us with a proposal,” Thomas said.
“You must listen.”
Why would I lis—” In the middle of the sentence, a rock on to
which one of its claws held, broke loose, and down came the
creature. It slid and tumbled uncontrollably to land at the bottom
in a heap. “Oh, who am I kidding,” it asked in a voice a good deal
less booming. “You might as well get it over with.” It bared its
chest, turned its head away, and closed its eyes. “Just be quick,
Thomas and the sergeant exchanged puzzled glances. The
sergeant sheathed his weapon.
We’re ’ere to talk, wrym,” said the swordsman. “We came to
possibly save your life.”
The dragon opened one eye and looked at them sideways. “You’re
not great heroes come to slay the foul beast?”
No, no,” Thomas replied, waving his hands in front of him.
“Look, we really need to talk. Can we go somewhere out of this sun?
We’ve been climbing all morning.”
Yes, yes,” the dragon said. “I know a good place, a very big
tree. I heard you coming halfway across the valley you
The wyrm escorted them through the valley, to a very green and
sylvan place. The grass grew soft to walk on and the sun only
penetrated in hazy rays. A good deal of small animals watched, just
to see something new. None of them ran, they simply sat and
continued eating the sure-to-be delicious plants as the trio passed
them by. They soon came to a tree a great deal larger than any
other and the dragon lay under it in its cool shade.
This is the grandfather tree,” said the dragon. “It was a
seedling over two thousand years ago, so I’m told.”
Now then, dragon. I am Thomas, from the east. I am a student
of Xavier the Necromancer.” Thomas did not puff out his chest this
time, though. “What is your name, wyrm?”
I am Alexander Crystlemere,” the dragon replied, and then
squinted. “Only a student?”
The sergeant laughed. “Ya know, mage, ya might want to drop
that student part.”
Anyway.” Thomas shook his head. “Alexander, you must stop
raiding the cattle herds below. The queen does not want anyone to
get hurt, and it’s going to happen if you continue. Her subjects
want you dead just because you’re a dragon. She is sincerely sorry
for killing your mother. She doesn’t want to kill you,
They killed a good and patient wyrm that day,” replied
Alexander softly. “She only killed those that threatened me, you
know. However, I will not leave my home. It is all I really know.
And food is getting scarce in these mountains.”
That’s what ya’ve been doing these past few years, then?”
asked the sergeant.