Authors: James J. Crofoot
Tags: #adventure, #ghosts, #magic, #necromancer, #dragon, #undead, #skeleton, #dark magic, #bandits
They think they do. But it wasn’t me.” She folded her hands
in her lap. “I swear. But the whole town thinks it was
When did these hauntings start?”
About ten days ago. At first it only happened when I was
alone so Cedric, he was Raymond’s best friend, my husband’s best
friend that is.” Angela absentmindedly brushed a strand of hair out
of her face. “For a few nights Cedric stayed the night so I could
sleep, nothing happened… nothing happened between us, I swear. But
then the whispering started. People I’ve known my whole life
started whispering about me, saying I killed Raymond to be with
Cedric. Then Nora… She called me an adulteress and murderer. She
yelled at me in front of the whole town. Then things got really
Did you…did you do it, Angela?” asked Thomas. He didn’t think
so but he wanted to see her reaction.
No.” She raised her head to meet Thomas’s eyes. “I swear on
my boy’s life.”
Where’s your boy now?”
He’s with Cedric, I couldn’t keep him here with this” —she
looked around at the broken plates on the floor, the torn and
bloody sheets— “going on.” She sighed and brushed the same strand
of hair out of her eyes again. “Cedric will take good care of
You talk about Cedric a lot. Would he do it?”
She looked up again with the look of a trapped animal on her
face. “No, no. He and Raymond were brothers from childhood.” She
looked back into her tea. “Besides, I know where he
Thomas and Christina exchanged glances. “You were with Cedric,
weren’t you?” Christina asked.
Angela gave no response.
You would rather live in torment than tell the village where
you were, who you were with?”
Angelo took a ragged breath. “Please, you’ve got to help me. I
can’t go on much longer. I loved my husband, Cedric loved my
husband, he wanted to say something… but I… Please help. I haven’t
slept in…” Angela said. “My husband’s ghost won’t let me sleep at
all. Every time I close my eyes, he attacks me.”
Do you swear to me you didn’t kill your husband?” Thomas
asked, leaning forward, elbows on knees. “Swear you had nothing to
do with it.”
I swear! I had nothing to do with it.”
Very well.” Thomas sat back. “We’ll need the innkeeper’s
stable. The night should be right for this. I’ll want all of your
husband’s family there at half an hour before midnight.”
All right,” Angela replied. “I’ll do as you say, but may I
rest some more? It has been so long.”
* * *
Why are we here?” asked one of the people
Angela stood with a child and next to the man called Cedric,
her eyes were clearer now as she’d slept most of the day. Christina
leaned against a stable door watching Cedric and Angela talking in
a quiet argument. Cedric’s hand rested on the boy’s
Who are you?” asked Thomas in reply.
My name is Dashawn, Cedric’s brother. We were Raymond’s best
With Dashawn, everyone summoned had come. Cedric introduced
everyone, including the deceased’s mother, Anna. She came only at
Cedric’s insistence and clearly showed anger at having to be this
close to Angela. Jeremy, Angela’s three-year-old son, should
probably have been in bed, but Thomas needed him there.
You are all here so Raymond’s spirit will have a reason to
answer my summons,” the necromancer explained.
You’re going to summon a ghost?” Dashawn laughed. “This trick
I have to see.”
Thomas ignored Dawshawn. “Please, I want you all to join hands
and stand here at the circles edge.” He indicated a line in the
dirt floor he’d drawn as well. Once everyone took their places,
Thomas sat at the only line not complete. He took a deep breath and
started chanting. Some few minutes later, beads of sweat formed on
his face, he continued to chant.
He’s good.” Dawshawn chuckled. “Does anyone see any mirrors?”
He patted the boy’s shoulder causing the boy to look up. “Wanna see
The boy smiled. “Yeah!”
Thomas rocked back and forth while still chanting.
Then, in the middle of the glyphs drawn in the dirt, a white
glow slowly grew brighter. It formed into the shape of a
Dawshawn stopped his ridicule and his eyes grew wide. He
glanced at the people around him and then back at the glowing
Thomas reached down, picked up a stick, and finished the glyph
with a small line.
Daddy,” cried the little boy as he recognized his
The spirit looked around at the awed faces gathered around it
until he came to Angela. It pointed at her.
I will torment you till the end of your days,
I didn’t do it, Raymond,” she cried out and fell to her
The whole town knows you did, that’s what they’re all
saying,” said the ghost.
With Christina’s help, Thomas got to his feet. “My name is
Thomas, Raymond. I’ve summoned you and you can’t leave until I
allow it. Do you understand?”
Why?” the ghost Raymond asked.
Your wife didn’t kill you and you’re tormenting
I couldn’t leave her, you know,” Raymond said. His face
formed into a sneer. “I couldn’t leave the woman and child I loved
so. So I stayed. I stayed and listened. Everyone in town was saying
she did it. Everyone.”
You killed my boy,” the mother said, and she, too, started to
I didn’t. Why won’t anyone believe me?” Angela buried her
face in her hands. “I loved you, Raymond.”
Murderess! Why can’t you say where you were then?” the mother
Angela did not reply.
Everyone be quiet,” Thomas commanded. “Raymond, do you
remember what happened?”
The ghost looked puzzled. “No, but the whole town
So you’re going on what the townspeople say?”
Well, yes.” The ghost seemed even more puzzled.
You don’t remember where you were killed?”
No, I don’t,” Raymond answered. “Why is that?”
Sometimes the dead don’t remember dying, if it’s a violent
death like yours,” the necromancer replied, gently pushing
Christina away. “We must walk you through it. Where was the body
In the field, by the cattle well north of town,” Cedric spoke
I don’t remember getting there,” the ghost said. “I remember
drinking at the inn.”
Were you with someone?”
Why do I have to go through this,” the ghost yelled. “The
whole town knows she did it.”
Why would your wife kill you, Raymond?” Thomas
Raymond, she didn’t do it,” Cedric said. “I know because she
was with me by the old keep. I’m sorry, but I can’t stay silent any
longer. She didn’t do it.”
Angela broke into tears again and bowed her head in shame.
“I’m so sorry, husband. We had been meeting there for several
Raymond looked down at her and then to Cedric. “I
Angela looked up with tears streaking her face. “Then why
Why didn’t I say something? Because I knew Cedric loved you,
too. I’ve known for years how you two felt. He always stepped aside
Who did you leave the inn with, Raymond?” Thomas questioned
I left alone. Something about a sick heifer.”
Thomas took a deep breath. “Now we’re getting somewhere. What
about a sick heifer?”
Someone…” The ghost looked at Dashawn. “You told me there was
a sick heifer, you said it couldn’t wait till morning.”
There was no sick heifer, Dashawn,” Cedric said, looking at
Dashawn picked up the end of a broken axe handle as the look
of a trapped animal came into his eyes.
Why?” Cedric asked. “Why did you do it, brother? What did
Raymond ever do to you?”
He took you,” Dashawn yelled. “All I ever wanted was to be
your brother. Now he’s gone. Don’t you see? Now we can be the
brothers you two were. Is blood not more binding? How was I to know
Raymond wouldn’t just leave? Don’t tell me you’re not happy he’s
dead, she yours now.”
How could you think such madness?” Cedric shook his head.
“How could you think… Put down the club, brother.”
Angela looked at Dashawn. “You killed my husband?”
Now I will haunt you, Dashawn,” the ghost said sadly. “I will
torment you till the end of your days.”
Dashawn’s faces turned ashen. “No…no,” he pleaded.
Release me,” the ghost said.
No! This is your doing! No one would have known!” Dashawn
lunged at Thomas, club raised to strike.
However, Christina stepped between Dashawn and Thomas,
plunging her dagger into the attacker’s stomach as she twisted it
up. Shock froze Dashawn’s face.
Angela grabbed her son and buried his face against her skirt
so he would not see Dashawn fall.
With tears of shock and sadness wetting his face, Cedric went
and knelt beside his brother. “Dashawn.” Cedric cradled his
brother’s head in his lap. “I have always loved you.
The expression on his brother’s face was one of anger mixed
with pain. “No…you didn’t.” With these last words, Dashawn stopped
breathing. No one spoke for several minutes as Cedric let his tears
fall on the face he cradled in his lap.
Raymond broke the silence first. “Cedrick, you love Angela,
Cedrick bowed his head for a moment. When he looked up, his
eyes locked with Angela’s. “You know I have always loved her,
Then I ask you, in front of my mother… Mother, are you
listening? Listen close.”
Take my wife as yours, friend of my youth. Raise my son. You
could give me no greater eulogy.” Raymond turned to Thomas and
laughed. “Set me free, mage.”
Thomas kicked a hole in the circle of the glyph, and the ghost
faded to nothing.
* * *
The next morning, as Thomas and Christina walked out of town,
they heard a shrill voice.
Her husband not dead a fortnight and she beds down with his
best friend,” a woman preached to another woman by the town well.
“Disgraceful, she should have waited at least a year.” She made a
clucking noise in disapproval. “And do you believe the mother’s
story of last night? Daft that one is.”
A rock flew from the road and hit her in the head. Then
another flew up and hit her again. Rock after rock flew up until
the woman ran screaming down the road covering her face and head
with her arms.
Thomas and Christina laughed, and she put her hand in
Where to now, mage?” she asked with a broad grin on her
He took a step farther down the road and tugged her hand
slightly. “To the sea, Christina. Come with me to the
She took a step forward. “What color do you think it will
James Crofoot, a recent
graduate of Gotham Writing College, has written stories all his
life. Holding two degrees, he's now starting to put his works out.
For more reading visit his website.