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Necromanus by R.M. Summerhill 1. Pyromancers As a thousand years break like day, when the sun is eclipsed by a moon of blood, then shall the fireline arise -- a Lord and his Priestess -- and with words of death and flame proclaim the name of Necromanus. -- from The Visions of Yrotan the Great (Regeneration Year six-hundred thirteen) Seventh of Octat The world was dark, a rippling void, a place that could have been cold but wasnt. Fire dwelt here, its blazing scent undeniable. She couldnt see its flames yet, but she could feel them surrounding her, licking her with something quite akin to passionate hunger. She had kindled the blaze days ago and her power -- the power of the fire demons more than her own -- constantly fed it. The flames were nearly a pyre, and as her mental chants flared near their pinnacle, the fire filled her mind with vivid color. Mainly reds, yellows, and oranges screamed out to her, but also blues and purples gave such violent assault that they would have blinded human eyes. Every color was so omnipotent -- so close to murderous -- that she almost gasped. In truth, she might well have, but she was so far from her body so far until a deep, seductive whisper lured her back to reality. Jessdana No other voice could have penetrated Jessdana Meroviks meditation. Raeliss voice was like no other, lordly and commanding, its temptation almost overpowering. Though the Master Pyromancer stood behind her, running his strangely cold fingers across the base of her neck, Raeliss image wound before her; his taut, arrogant body clad in a suit the color of drying blood; his shaved head glistened slightly in the dim light, and his eyes -- oh, God his eyes -- even in this mirage they tore into her like a million tiny spikes. M-master? Jessdanas heart pounded and she felt giddy, as if she had indulged in half a barrel of flame-liquor. Raelis laughed. The sound bordered on malevolent but somehow kept its soft pleasure. Its going well, I take it? Hmm Jessdana mused and nodded as Raelis slipped his arms around her. Why is he so cold? she wondered, even as Raeliss familiar burnt aroma lingered around her like an enrapturing cologne. Jessdana took a deep, although unintended breath, and she began to absorb the rooms details, which were now becoming clear again. This was the main chamber of Raeliss apartment where he often handled business matters and sometimes entertained his high-ranking officers and officials. Jessdana now sat behind her masters desk, staring from the bleak stonewalled room, and out the solitary arched window. The window seemed to serve as an eye to the even blacker world, for the first millennium was ending, and the world was darker than it had been before the Beginning. Of course, this was only the second beginning, the revitalization and not the Origin. As the centuries-old prophecy had declared, the moon appeared dipped in blood and the sun was ever blocked from view. In six days, Raelis -- and Jessdana -- would climb the highest tower of the Pyromancer Keep and commence the vilest Ceremony ever revealed to mankind. Necromanus Raelis whispered in Jessdanas ear. His breath danced over her skin, exotic but still so cold, almost like ice. Even that old madman knew that the Heirs of Danthar, strong as they seem, will fall before us. When we have the dead on our side even the Dantharians will be as nothing. She shivered at both his words and frigid breath. Are you excited or am I cold to you? Despite her wonderment, Jessdana only said, Youre freezing, Master. A good sign, then. Your powers are reaching their apex. The fire demons are obliging your call, at a rate almost better than I could have dreamt. Ive lost none of my heat, Jessdana, but as you plunge deeper into the abyss and its flames continue to caress you, even my fire is like an icicle. I am pleased to know that I have chosen rightly. You are the Priestess that was prophesied. You will lead me into my glory. Another silence rolled over them. Jessdana looked out into the eclipsed day. She hoped everything would go as planned; it had to. Of course, she wasnt thinking of Raeliss plot. That couldnt come to fruition. No, as the Necromanus reached its climax Raelis would meet his downfall. He would die in the heat of his ritual and then Suddenly, Jessdana arose from her thoughts. Raelis had begun kissing her neck. Even with his wintry lips, and maybe even more so because of them, it was impossible to dwell on anything else. What makes me want you so? he muttered between kisses. Your soft black hair, your dark eyes, your goddesss frame, your exquisite breasts? Or perhaps your scent? Raeliss nostrils flared as he inhaled, and he gasped, enticed. Yes, your lovely scent. The fire of the seven hells blazes in your veins; ah, was there ever such a wine? With every breath, I can smell your great warrior father and your whore of a mother. If I had a soul you could steal it; I could fall from my throne over you. Be careful what you wish for, Raelis But Jessdana could think no more on this. Raelis began kissing her again, this time lower. It was impossible to deny the advancements now. When it came to women, lust was his greatest ally. As the servant girls told it -- even the ones that hated him -- after enduring Raeliss desires only once they became beggars. It was like mating with a beast from the depths, none could deny. Raeliss garnet eyes became like stones of jet, flashing with an occasional flame. His scalding heat -- or rather now his impaling cold -- was erotic, and Jessdana submitted, as Raelis washed her away to an island of echoing passion. # 2. The Line of Danthar Danthar -- hunter of demon-kind -- your seed survives the oppressing tide. How they despise those who glide on fiery wings! Yet in the days before the dead arise, their women writhe with minions straight from Hell. Can now the damned slay the damned, or shall they ever be consumed? from The Visions of Yrotan the Great (R.Y. six-hundred twenty-nine)Eleventh of Octat Only two days remained until the Ceremony, and Jessdana knew she should have been meditating. Raelis thought she was, for after their third sexual encounter in as many days, Jessdana had told him that she needed to sequester herself. She needed to finish her preparations, she had said, and that it wouldnt do to be impeded even by the most enjoyable distractions. In the end, Raelis had agreed. Everything ran second to Necromanuss success, even sweet smelling goddesses, and so Jessdana had sequestered herself, from early morning on the eleventh -- before the sun would have risen normally -- to nearing seven that evening. It was amazing she even reclaimed herself then. Jessdana had chanted herself into the now blistering fire; she had become one with the unholy incantations that every Pyromancer knew. She had felt herself dancing, winding into the flame-ridden web, and before long, she was caught, like an offering for a colossal spider, which would soon thrust its venom into her. But Jessdana did awaken, breathing heavily, her pores running with icy sweat, and quite soon she remembered why she had truly locked herself in a closet no bigger than a casket. She fumbled for the black hooded cloak she had brought, and she slipped it on. Yes, she should still be meditating. Maybe breaking away in the deepest hours of the night would have been better, with a lesser chance of being caught, but if Jessdana slipped into her meditations again she might not escape them until Necromanus Night. And she had to see Tharn before the Ceremony, one last time just in case their plan failed. Also staying closeted in such a tight, suffocating place without the cocoon of meditation was unthinkable. So she left, sliding gracefully through the shadows, winding down the stairwells of the Keep. Every so often Jessdana heard voices, even the thump of nearby footsteps, and she had to struggle to stay in the darkest places, barely breathing for fear of being heard. No one came too close, and as if by a generous stroke of fate, one of the servant exits was unbarred and no guards lingered in that part of the courtyard. Things became less frightening when the city closed around her and she joined the flood of commoners. Jessdana only had to flash her signet ring before anyone that thought to hassle her. She kept her face hidden, as she still ran the risk of being caught, but her ring bore the Pyromancer crest -- a striking serpent, coiled by swirling flames -- and that mark commanded fear and respect from the lowly masses. The most bustling part of the city, with its boarded up shops and roaring taverns and brothels, flashed by rather quickly and soon Jessdana entered a very quiet, dead end alley. The only thing aside from the crumbling, soot-coated bricks was a broken sewer grate. Rancid wastewater trickled from it, its vile odor becoming all the more evident as Jessdana approached and, with one final drawing of halfway clean air, she slid sideways into the hole. Part of her cloak caught the grate and ripped. Jessdana gasped but walked through the pipe, feeling around in the pitch-black until she saw a minute light several minutes later. Almost there, she whispered, praying that this journey and its perils wouldnt be for naught. If Tharn wasnt there But he had to be Jessdana saw no one when she exited the pipe, but this didnt bother her yet. She only felt glad to be out of the stench, though some of it still clung to her garments. Suddenly something pummeled into her back. Jessdana grunted, surprised as the wind rushed out of her. She toppled to the floor, her head spinning from lack of oxygen. Through hazy eyes she saw three men, all rather hard-faced, but even more to her chagrin none were Tharn. The closest man, a tall fellow with messy stubble and a scar searing across his right cheek, yanked Jessdanas arm and twisted it. She cried out slightly, in part from the pain but also because she realized that he had seen her ring. If Tharn didnt show up soon Well, see here, my Lord. Looks like weve got ourselves a little fire-witch, the scarred man growled. A younger man with a silver earring (who definitely was no lord) sniggered as he pulled out what looked like a crystal dagger; an ice blade, Jessdana knew. Not for long, the dagger-wielder said. A less experienced Pyromancer would be magically incapacitated by little more than a prick. Jessdana would retain all her powers because of her recent meditating, but if the three ganged up on her and if other unknown Dantharians came, they might even kill her. The Heirs of Danthar lived by one code, Slay the Devil, Murder his Demons, and Mutilate those who walk in their Ways. If she used her fire now, if she called to those demons, she would likely win. But Jessdana didnt want to. Definitely not here. Jessdana finally glanced at the third man. He was definitely the Dantharian lord. He looked far beyond out of place, for he wore a suit instead of scummy rags and he looked well-groomed, his long brown hair almost shining like an illuminated fountain. He could have been a Pyromancer himself. Suddenly the lord said, Hold back, Theein. We want to ask questions first, remember? He sounded so sleek, but somehow more frightening. The scarred man growled and gripped Jessdanas wrist even tighter. Marsdan, Marsdan, have patience. Well all have what we want. Ill get my answers; Theein will have a stab at her the way he really wants to stab her. I wont deny Id want a round with such a delicious little whore myself, but ah well, and Marsdan, strew her guts from here back to Hell, as it so pleases you Jessdana almost began crying. She wanted to explain, to tell them that she knew Tharn and that he could tell them everything, but her throat had suddenly become far too dry. The elegant man bent down, his handsome face almost in Jessdanas. His eyes were just as powerful as Raeliss were, and Jessdana could only whimper. Now, tell me he began fiercely but was interrupted. Get away from her, Thardanis. It was Tharn! He stood, stiff and military-like, in an archway that Jessdana could barely see. The elegant man thrust himself upward, but his glower melted when he saw the speaker, as if he hadnt recognized Tharns voice. My cousin, my captain, Thardanis said, nodding and smiling. The smile looked warm and true, but Jessdana somehow felt it wasnt. The Far Sector hasnt been breached, I take it. Im glad. As far as this entrance, however Thardanis gestured toward Jessdana. Shes one of those fire-witches, young Theein said, pointing his dagger toward the signet ring. Yes, so you see, good cousin, I should not be getting away. Shes a spy. No, shes not, Tharn said with simple firmness, and the fake-decent expression froze on his cousins face. What? Thardanis seemed close to snarling, and Tharn repeated himself. Thardanis made a quick, successful bid for composure and laughed, the sound soft but almost chilling. May I ask how you know this, Tharn? Usually I trust your judgment -- you know I do -- however this time Come now, tell me.... Is she your whore? After all, your mother laid down with Pyromancer filth -- God rest her, but she did -- and maybe youve decided to see how you like it. Though Tharn was too angry to say anything, he looked ready to explode. If Thardanis hadnt disgusted Jessdana so much she would have feared for him. I cant blame you, Cousin. Look at this little slut. She must know plenty of dirty tricks, so well worth a turn or several, I say, but if you find yourself trusting her Tut, tut. Dont be so ignorant. Shut up! Shes my sister! Whatever Thardanis -- or the others for that matter --might have expected it wasnt that. They all looked dumbfounded, except for Jessdana, who clearly felt relieved. Thardaniss face became an unreadable stone. However, he seemed calm. She told you that? And you believe it? Tharn, your sister died when you were children. You know that. Mother saved Jessdanas life by placing her with the enemy. She didnt want to, but she had no other choice. So this Jessdana, she told you this lie before or after she pleasured your manhood? Tharn blasted for his cousin. Bastard! Thardanis slapped Tharn so hard he stumbled and fell next to his sister. Marsdan, Theein, hold him down. Once the two obeyed, Thardanis spoke to his cousin again. You know, Tharn, weve always gotten along so well. Youve always been so sensible despite your mothers mistakes. Thats why I appointed you Captain of the Line, but youve got to see reason. Your sister is dead. Even your erring mother wouldnt have handed one of her children over to those demon worshippers, especially that Merovik who murdered so many of our kindred. She whored with him, yes, but still she would have even let her own children die than let them be perverted. Tharn shook his head madly. She is the key to our success. Shes the reason we know what Raelis is planning. We know because of the old prophecies, Thardanis said with extreme smugness. She also told us how to breach the tower during Necromanus, and because of her we know how to stop Raelis from gaining the scepter over the dead. If it werent for her, wed be floundering. This year -- this millennium! --ends in less than fifty hours, and knowing that Raelis and his Pyromancers might soon be able to wake the dead, knowing that we could no longer keep the world from falling into utter darkness, wed be tilting on the edge of madness! Suddenly Thardanis looked at Jessdana, all pity he had felt for his cousin mutated into something very close to full fury. So, Jessdanahe hissed. Tell me; have you proof of what my poor cousin believes so desperately? If not, Ill kill you here and now, I swear. No! Tharn wailed in fury and pain. Thardanis looked as if he hadnt heard. Now, whore! Show me that you have Danthars blood along with your heathen blood! Show me if you want to have any blood left at all! Thardanis yanked away Theeins dagger, and Jessdana finally found her voice. Wait! I have proof! Jessdana didnt think mere words would save her now. Oddly, Thardanis stopped, the ice blade hovering mere inches above her chest. Thardanis looked impatient but remained still. Jessdana reached into her crimson blouse and pulled out a glimmering pendant, a silver disk that had somehow been sliced in half. Weird characters were etched on it. No person since the early regeneration years had spoken this language, and its meaning had long since been lost. Half a Danthars Soul? Thardanis whispered. His eyes wandered to his cousin, who was wearing what could only be the other side of Jessdanas pendant. The Dantharian lord shook his head, disbelief still clouding his eyes. Where did you get this? Emboldened by his shock, Jessdana explained. When I was left in my fathers care (yes, Renkav Merovik was my father)I had only one thing to remember my mother. A carved wooden box, plain except that her name --Danysa -- was scrawled inside. I never knew why she left me there; I was too young to understand, and my father died in battle before he could explain. I always hid my part of this Soul. I knew what it meant. It was a long time before people stopped looking at me and whispering that I was that Dantharian whores daughter. I was a part of the court. Izzara, Raeliss wife, thought well of me and I was often part of her entourage, but the whispers never stopped until Jessdana fell silent. She wasnt about to tell this fiend who played the role of gentlemen so well that everyone had stopped talking when Raelis had noticed her and began calling her to his bed. Never mind. That doesnt matter. It has nothing to do with the Soul or with thisfor that matter. Jessdana had a stroke of brilliance then and she threw back her hair and tilted her head. A jagged, brown slash rested just behind her left ear. This was a birthmark that only Dantharians had. If Thardanis wanted to try to brand her a thief, as well as a liar and a whore, then this would shut him up. If only she had remembered it before things had become so dire. Thardanis wanted to continue protesting. However, after a moments thought he cast the dagger away, almost nonchalantly. He must have still been angry -- furious -- about being wrong, and about being crass and acting like a fool. Yet it barely showed. You have my apologies, good lady. I cannot deny your claim now. Am I forgiven? Thardanis looked so apologetic that he seemed sincere. Jessdana nodded and even smiled a little, unintentionally. # 3. Danysas Children Half of Fire-blood, half of righteous Warrior; Two are born near millenniums end. One shall rise, dancing with demons, the other will walk the Slayers path, but as all things will seek to end, the fates of the Two shall intertwine. As they struggle to touch the sky, they shall ever make chorus together. -- from The Visions of Yrotan the Great (R.Y. six-hundred seventeen)Eleventh of Octat (continued) Jessdana and Tharn were alone now, in one of Thardaniss smaller offices. The room was warm, comfortable, with a grand oaken desk and stone walls lined by full bookshelves. Jessdana almost found it difficult to believe that such a room rested within the nasty sewers, but she barely thought on that. She stood near the entrance wall, staring at her brother, who was leaning against the desk. Jessdana had much to say and felt that Tharn must as well, but neither seemed able to start. They just stared at each other for several minutes. Jessdana felt both nervous and relieved, but Tharns face stayed so blank that she could glean nothing. At last, she said, Tharn the word filled more with air than volume. A moment later he embraced her. Jessdana gasped a little, but she returned the affection, glad of the overwhelming comfort and concern. Oh, Jess. Jess why did you come? I I had to. I wanted to see you one last time, just in case things dont-- Jessdana began sobbing in Tharns ear. The pain of such thoughts, especially after what had just happened, nearly crippled her. Tharn stroked her hair, trying his best to soothe her. Clearly he wasnt very practiced, but Jessdana appreciated the attempt. When she had nearly finished, Tharn pulled away, and they spent another moment in silence, while Jessdana wiped at her eyes. Jess. Im so glad to see you, but you couldnt have done anything more dangerous. Jessdana gazed toward the reddish woven rug, as if its intricacies had suddenly ensnared her. I know, she whispered. Thardanis is a good man, an excellent leader. I should have told him about you, that you wanted to help us, that youre half-Dantharian just as I am, but hes prejudiced. You saw that. He hates Pyromancers, as he lives and breathes. Jessdana grunted. His attitudes serve us well, but they are extreme. He trusts me because I was raised as an Heir of Danthar, but youve lived with Pyromancers for nearly twenty years; I didnt know if he could trust you, so I acted as if the plans to disrupt Necromanus were only mine. Im sorry. Its not your fault, Tharn. I shouldnt have come. Tharn grabbed onto her arm, firmly but not angrily. True, but dont blame yourself. Maybe its better that everythings in the open now. Something might have happened to you otherwise. Jessdana nodded. He was right. If none of the other Dantharians had known Despite both her personal warmth and the rooms warmth, she shivered. Its just a good thing the others cant smell you as I do. Jessdana looked at Tharn, astonished. Her brown eyes brimmed with something akin to ferocity. She felt almost like she had been bitten. One of the many things that the Pyromancers were known for was their strong sense of smell. Both Jessdana and Tharn had inherited this from their father, and Tharn could tell when his sister had let Raelis invade her. How many times had Tharn told Jessdana that he disapproved of that indulgence? Thardanis hates Raelis beyond my ability to explain and with you stinking like the bastard-- Please, Tharn Jessdanas fresh anger was only overridden by her sorrow and guilt. You know I must do what he requires. Raelis would force himself on me if I refused. I know, but do you have to enjoy it so much? The words stung like a thousand needles and wouldnt have hurt any worse if Tharn had been seething and derogatory like Thardanis. So long as Raelis was alive she would whore with him and not only because she was expected to. He was the very embodiment of her desire; she was chained to him willingly. Jessdana couldnt help loathing herself then and she almost started to weep again, but she pushed the guilt --along with her brothers most recent words -- into a deep pit, where they hopefully would remain until Raelis was dead. After all, there were still two more days. Much needed to happen. I should go now, Tharn. Jessdana said, looking at him longer than she felt possible. Tharn eventually nodded. I love you, Jess. I love you, too, Tharn. I pray everything goes well. Jessdana left the office a moment later, her black cloak flowing behind her, ominous like a river at midnight. 4. Eclipse The Priestess of Fire, hot in her passion, is more than a seductress -- more still than a goddess. In her soul, she plots to work her own will. Thus, when the Sun is near no more, Temptations cup overflows with irresistible poison. -- from The Visions of Yrotan the Great (R.Y. six-hundred five)Thirteenth of Octat Little more than three hours remained before the Ceremony. Time had begun to disappear so quickly, like the tide sweeping sand into the ocean, but Jessdana had to regain her strength and compose herself. She laid in Raeliss bed, naked, her chest still heaving from their fresh bout of intimacy. This was the last time they would be together as lovers, and the weak part of her wanted to savor those last glorious moments. Jessdana had come to weaken Raelis, to strip away some of his guard. She was sure she had managed that, and she still had more non-sexual work to do, but it would be a lie to say that she hadnt desired his power and his urgency and his new coldness. His body was so frigid now that it was like enveloping, and being enveloped by, a glacier. Even now, Jessdana gasped at these erotic memories, but Raelis moved beside her then, drawing her back to the present. Covered in perspiration, due in no small part to Jessdanas rising magical abilities, Raelis wiped a little of the sweat away before putting on his black trousers again. Without thinking, and still feeling far too needy, Jessdana reached for him. Raelis cast her a slight, wicked smile and he ran his moist, icy hand along her closest breast. Jessdana trembled and her nipple hardened. Im glad you came and persuaded me as you did. I never knew you were this fierce a temptress. He laughed quietly, as he stared into Jessdanas eyes, almost mesmerizing her. But you are exquisite. Absolutely molten. There is no way Necromanus will fail. If only there were more time to enjoy you, but Raelis slid into his boots and buttoned his trousers. Then he stood and turned towards Jessdana again. Alas, there are few more things I need to oversee. Jessdana suddenly remembered herself and sat up. Her eyes were large and liquid, filled with anxiety. Raelis was already halfway through the grand bedchamber, underneath the glowing chandelier and not too far from Jessdanas discarded robe, when she finally found her voice. Dont go Master. Not yet. Raelis smiled at her sudden desperation, and after a quick contemplative moment, he taunted, Do you want me that much? His hands lingered near the top of his pants as if there was a good chance of them opening again. Crawl to me on your hands and knees, beg like the whore you are, and maybe Ill carve you some more time. Temptation swelled. The ground Jessdana had gained by seducing and pleasuring him was wearing away, and now she was losing her own ground. Raelis had always been a difficult person to bend and a master at bending as well. Jessdana felt herself twisting with want, but she fought it. Thats not what I meant, Jessdana said, almost sounding nonchalant, and she stood. Raelis looked confused, and as if he could well be furious. Not that Im denying your greatness. Who could? She sighed, strengthening her will, and she walked seemingly toward Raelis. I just want us to share a little drink to our victory. There wont be much time to celebrate afterwards. Raeliss thoughts buzzed quickly, almost visibly, under his brow. Hmm. A slight drink wouldnt hurt, would it? Our victory is imminent after all. Jessdana smiled, and with a graceful swish of curves, she retrieved her robe. She pulled the crimson folds over her waist and twirled the sash into a loose knot. Her breasts were only slightly hidden now. She walked a little farther back, to a glass-topped table. A few bottles of Bonfire Rum, one of Raeliss favorites, and a few crystal goblets rested upon it. The tables legs were fiery serpents, patterned after those on the Pyromancer crest. Jessdana swayed before it, blocking Raeliss view. She rubbed her forefinger against her signet ring until the crest slid aside, revealing the most miniscule secret compartment. A small plasticine square -- even more unbelievably minute -- slipped down into the nearest goblet. A pinch of vile looking black liquid rested within the square, a draught devised by the Pyromancer poison-masters. The small amount wouldnt kill, but it would incapacitate, at the right moment, Jessdana prayed. She maneuvered the crest back into place, and she pressed down on the square slightly and quickly. Now the poison was ready and would seep out as soon as the alcohol touched it. Jessdana then poured the rum and smiled. Satisfied, she turned toward Raelis. Jessdana held out the goblet, still smiling, as Raelis approached. To our victory; to your victory, she said and indulged in a vigorous sip. The poison should not have had time to work its way into the entire glass, and so Jessdana felt relatively safe. If Raelis somehow suspected treachery, she had to do something, and drinking from the glass was the only way she could subdue his possible fears. The liquid burned, although less than usual, and left her heady, but this was how the rum worked. Raelis took the glass, his hands cupped around the curves as he drew it to his mouth and drained most of the drink. To my victory, he muttered, and his eyes closed halfway, as he sank into a state of near ecstasy. Rum and poison had little to do with it. Yes victory. Then his eyes opened fully, suddenly, and tore deep into Jessdanas psyche. She shivered. Had he tasted the difference? Please, God, no Raelis smiled at her, yet the expression was no more --and no less -- sinister than usual. Jessdana waited, still pleading to Heaven, when Raelis plunged at her, the goblet now in one hand. She gasped. Hes going to pour it down my throat and then and then Yet before she could contemplate any further horrors, his lips -- like ice-covered steel -- touched hers. Ah, my goddess, my whore. Her fear melted into lust, and though she tried to hold back, she returned his kisses and relented into his embrace; her rekindled desire yearned for release. Quickly, though, he pulled away. He smiled mercilessly down at her. Raelis finished the rum and placed the empty glass back on the table. I must finish my preparations. You should start getting ready, too. And after another brief smirk, Raelis was gone. # 5. The Waking of the Dead Necromanus is declared, that dreaded word called out by a thousand blazing tongues, and as the Fire Lord is deemed worthy by his loathsome gods, Death herself lies down upon the altar and births her unholy children back onto the earth. -- from The Visions of Yrotan the Great (R.Y. six-hundred thirty-six)Thirteenth of Octat/ First of Novetar Time had sped up yet again, and midnight closed in with a speed that seemed unnatural. The few remaining hours had blazed by, as if the old millennium was more than ready to die. Jessdana felt more nervous than ever. Even her recent excursion to the Dantharian compound hadnt seemed so harrowing. She wore a tight, silken gown, the low cut garment stretched to her feet, looking like a waterfall of blood. She breathed heavily, wondering if Raelis could be stopped. Was it even possible, or had it only ever been a fools daydream? Though pointless, Jessdana couldnt stay her worries. The time has come, Jessdana. She gasped as Raeliss cold hands snaked around her shoulders. Jessdana should have known that hed been climbing the stairs and had stopped behind her abruptly. However M-master she breathed. Raelis laughed slightly. You are excited, arent you? She nodded. So am I, Raelis said. The Dantharians will no longer have any edge against us. We alone will be masters of this world forever. Yes forever Jessdana mumbled. Yet her mind was far away, lost in the place that Raelis had carved into her long ago. She suddenly burned for a last kiss, to dwell within his smoldering aura for the final time, to feel his caress plunge lower and lower, allowing it to work its wanton magic until it utterly overtook her. Jessdana trembled with desire, and Raelis must have felt it. He laughed quietly, as his hands fell away. It was over then, forever, without the minutest overture unless she reneged on her bargain with the Dantharians. The vile temptation gnawed at her heart, its greed demonic. If it werent for Tharn, Jessdana would have relented immediately. Siding with those sewer-dwelling maniacs, who hated her and were most likely fated to lose, held no other persuasion. We should be going now. Its almost midnight, Raelis said, his voice undulating with a fierce thirst for power that even the most intense passion could not match. Jessdana couldnt help coveting him more. Did Tharn matter that much? She hadnt even known shed had a brother for an entire three months, and was he so important that she should forsake all she had ever known? After a moment, Jessdana knew the answer was yes. Their blood was the very same unique blend. Besides, Tharn had saved her from Thardanis and the others. She couldnt overlook that. Jessdana had been so lost in thought that Raelis moved without her realizing. He now blocked the doorway. Behind him, the bloody moon cast its feral glow. Raeliss eyes held such formidable intensity as they pierced into Jessdana. She nearly gasped, wondering if he had seen her thoughts. Come, Jessdana, the Master Pyromancer said, and he proceeded out onto the tower. Jessdana followed, as if he were pulling her forth with invisible chains. Soon the two stood in the center of the open expanse, the moon acting as a sinister spotlight. A stone altar, scrawled with a near perfect rendering of the fire-demons tongue, sat just to Raeliss left, and a short pike and a dark stone goblet rested atop the altar. Jessdana could see the great horde on the ground, writhing and clamoring, hungry with anticipation. They almost seemed like insects, like an infestation. Their buzzing voices rode up the tower, and Jessdana could not blot out their damnable excitement. In fact, it slithered into her with such silky defiance that she moaned. Raelis might have looked at her then, but Jessdana didnt know or care. She felt heady and excited too. The might of Necromanus was near, and it had begun seducing away all urges of stopping it. Suddenly Raelis spread his arms wide and his voice boomed toward the congregation. Pyromancers! My children! Our great hour has come! Every noise and movement had ceased, even before Raelis finished his prologue. Long have we waited, burning for this time when we would gain power over the dead! When our gods from Hell would see our true worth and grant us the fathomless power of Necromanus! The crowd cheered, and their violent churning began again. The prophets of old spoke of this day, of its power. We have waited centuries for our ultimate reign, and now the new age comes, an unsheathed dagger ready to slay the old millennium, to fatten us with its violence, to glut us with its gore! The crowd cried out again, this time its united voice more raucous. Jessdana now invited their thirst, for the newly arisen beast had begun constricting around her heart. Names and promises barely meant anything now. She was the Priestess, and it was she, far more than Raelis, that would throttle the world with Necromanuss fist. She would lead the soldiers, have them make war against all Pyromancer enemies, and as for Raelis, he would come to her bed now. She would call him to desire her flesh in such away that she could, at a whim, reduce him to a beggar or madman. Jessdana smiled, and then glanced at Raelis. Was this plot even more futile, despite its tantalizing outcome? Jessdana tried to seem collected, but Raelis looked at her again, his dark eyes flickering with power. Fear entered her, leaving her cold and strangely confused. And now, Raelis began, turning his gaze outward, our Priestess shall begin calling to our masters for their unholy fire. After a moment, Raelis looked at Jessdana and nodded. She noticed he seemed a little flushed and could only hope that the poison had begun its work. The timing was nearly perfect. Jessdana closed her eyes and raised her arms high above her head. Her entire body stiffened, as she laced her fingers together in a taut web. Then, with a shuddering breath, she began. Unta malim The words were a distorted brand of a most ancient language -- a language that had been dead long before the earth had needed its Revitalization -- and as Jessdana spoke, her voice was low and unintentionally husky. Could anyone besides Raelis have heard her? Unta malim This time the words were somewhat louder, yet still not ideal. But now the fire fell hard upon her. In her mind, she could see its ensnaring web; she could feel its heat. Jessdana writhed. Her breathing turned ragged. The fiery chains pulled fiercely against her, and soon all she knew was their power and her need for them. Her breast swelled with poisonous anticipation. It seemed she was alone in this void until suddenly it felt as though a hand had seared into her chest cavity, to fondle and caress her beating heart. Jessdana drew in a deep, almost whorish gasp and screamed, Unta malim! Vaguely, she thought she heard the Pyromancers cheering, but she was more focused on her chanting, which flooded from her in ever-climaxing wails. Taunus maestem deth Necromanus! Feugen malim daemonica! Muertente raest! Sangri deth Taunus maestem! Necromanus! Necromanus! Vae-muer! Raest! Yet even before Jessdana paused, she could no longer focus on anything. The heat that engulfed her now was more than volcanic. Her eyes shot open, eerily showing white, and her body gave itself over to exotic contortions, but she couldnt feel them. She was like a candle consumed by a pillar of flame. If this continued much longer she would melt into oblivion. Though she had long allowed herself to meditate in this inferno, suckling power from the greatest fire-demons, even she -- the great Pyromancer Priestess -- could not live with such lava in her veins. None could have said how long this went on, but when Jessdana knew she stood at the edge of nothingness, she collapsed, sweating and gasping, her chest heaving. Jessdanas hands scraped hard across the stone, but she barely felt the new pain. It still seemed as if she were standing on the sun. Below, the congregation chanted, Necromanus! their voices a communal frenzy. Raelis knelt by Jessdana, looking more flushed than before. Jessdana wondered if this was only due to heat and excitement. She found herself praying that the poison was working, not that she knew why anymore. Jessdana still felt so hazy that she didnt even realize what Raelis was doing until she felt the ebony pike plunge across her wrist. She groaned. This pain was somehow more real, maybe because of the wounds depth, and blood -- boiling, sizzling blood it seemed -- yawned into the ritual chalice. Raelis ripped a piece of black cloth from his shirt and knotted it tight around Jessdanas wrist. He saw her pain but paid it no heed. He took up the chalice -- it still simmered as if had just been brought out of an oven -- and he walked over to the altar. Now the power of our lords has been given! Raelis raised the goblet and after a quick nod he drained it. It seemed impossible that anyone should be able to intake the steaming liquid without pause, but Raelis did with a look of utmost greed. A few moments later, the relic clattered to the stone and rolled into the altar, acquiring several chips. Raelis didnt notice. His expression had gone wild with blissful endurance. The hot blood seemed as though it had done something sexual to him, but Jessdana had never seen him look so dominated. As Jessdana watched his ecstasy, she began to feel colder than she had in ages, as if Raelis had stolen every ounce of heat with her blood. Several moments went by before Raelis could master himself, and even then his eyes still maintained a hint of intoxicated pleasure. And as midnight draws ever closer, he said, his voice shaking, it calls for our sacrifice, for the very soul who will kiss Death and be drawn into her womb and thus be the first raised for our bidding. Sweat cascaded off Raelis now, and he trembled almost in time to the crowds cheering. Jessdana couldnt tell if this was due to the blood or the poison or both. Raelis gestured toward the doorway and cried, It is time! Jessdana watched the entrance, waiting for one of the Pyromancer warriors to obey (a hale man willing to cast away his life and soul for the promise of Necromanus). When this soldier lay dead on the altar, the Dantharians would burst through. Raelis should be weakened enough by then. At first only silence came, and a fierce, impatient look settled upon Raeliss face. The Master Pyromancer looked as if he would call out again, but he didnt have to. And suddenly he couldnt speak at all. Jessdana gasped. A staunch member of the Tower Guard came out, forcing a shackled woman to walk before him. Three more guards with bound prisoners followed and they spread themselves out, to better show off their prizes. Dantharians? Raelis said. Yes, Master, said the first guard. It seems that they were planning to stop the Ceremony. The woman glared at Jessdana a few times. Jessdana understood the condemnation and shivered. Yet as she glanced at the damning faces of the other captives, she was relieved to only see Marsdan, Theein, and a young teen, who could well have been Theeins younger brother. Tharn wasnt there at least. The Dantharian woman, who was clad in black, except for the camouflage bandana that blanketed her long coppery hair, suddenly began struggling against her captor. Stop it, you bitch, the guard seethed as he drove his elbow into the womans back. The female Dantharian grunted, and spittle shot from her mouth. Her fierce eyes fell upon Jessdana again. Now, now, Tryon, be civil, Raelis said, his voice soft but sinister, as he walked -- almost staggered -- toward them. After all this is the great Tharia, one of the fiercest Dantharians to ever cross our kind. Believe it, demon-filth, Tharia said, almost growling. See? Though Jessdana couldnt see Raeliss face she knew he was smirking. She is quite a thorn, Master, Tryon said quite stiffly. And what a lovely thorn for me to prick back, hmm? None could mistake Raeliss lust as he wantonly stroked Tharias cheek. A sickening wave of jealousy crashed into Jessdana, an odd thing as Raelis had never been one for exclusivity. Tharia, clearly sickened in a different way, spat in Raeliss face. The Master Pyromancer wiped the saliva away, most likely still smiling but with the hint of a sneer. You will be begging like a whore before long. Mark me. Before Tharia could voice her clear sarcasm, Raelis addressed the guard. Keep her for me, as for the others-- Suddenly another guard and prisoner came through the doorway. Seeing that Tharn was the new prisoner, Jessdana let out a quiet, despairing gasp. This one appears to be the leader, the new guard said. And, if I might be frank with you, Master, I think you should use him in place of Lieutenant Karlan. It would be most just, I feel, for Necromanus to claim him first. Most everyone atop the tower, Pyromancer and Dantharian alike, seemed ready to voice an opinion, but such omnipotent dread tore at Jessdanas heart that, though she wanted to remain silent, she yelled, No! Tharn! Expressions of shock abounded. Tharn himself looked grieved, and Raelis tore around, dark fury mounting on his face. Why does that suggestion displease you? Raelis pressed toward Jessdana, anger obvious in his every step. His eyes were a black void of burning hatred. Answer, whore! Why does such a fitting punishment, for an enemy no less, upset you so? Well? Well! Raelis hit his cowering lover several times, before finally pulling her up and locking his blistering fingers around her throat. Jessdana had to fight to breathe, and Raeliss penetrating eyes made the struggle even greater. Hes your lover, isnt he? Am I not enough for you? Are you that much of a whore? Jessdana tried to shake her head. Dont lie to me! I want the truth. Youve been whoring with him, sleazing around in the gutter, rolling around with swine! And you seduced him, didnt you? Of course, but how? Subtly, maybe, or did you just come before him, caressing yourself to light him on fire, as you did with me tonight! Raeliss grip flexed tighter. Jessdana choked. Finally he threw her back down and in an eerily quiet voice, he said, Never mind that I could forgive all that -- I know what filth is in your blood -- but I think youre guilty of a worse betrayal. Somehow I think this goes deeper that you wanted him, and his kindred, to rise up and kill me just before my triumph because even Dantharians could not have penetrated so far into the Keep alone. Admit your guilt, and perhaps Ill contemplate leniency. Jessdana kept gasping for air. She couldnt look at Raelis, but denying the truth seemed pointless. I helped Tharn and the others. And you put something in the rum earlier too, to weaken me (although I daresay it wasnt enough)? Jessdana nodded. So the only question left is why. Surely he couldnt have satisfied you more. I never slept with him, Master. Hes my brother and I couldnt see him destroyed. Raelis allowed his thoughts to consume him. Almost a minute passed before he could speak again. But you could have seen me destroyed? Hmm. I guess its of no consequence now. Raelis shook his head and sighed. Your brother. Perhaps, I shouldnt believe you but I do, even though it means adding your late father to the list of traitors. He said the boy was dead. Suddenly the guard Tryon said, Master, midnight is only minutes away. You must hurry. Indeed, Raelis said. But first He stretched out his hand and with a quick vicious flick, three blazing streaks tore at Jessdana. In a moment it was clear that these streaks were chains, forged solely of flame, and they knotted around the former Priestesss body. You must watch, Raelis growled. The Master Pyromancer then stalked toward Tharn, the latter thrashing now. Well, dearest brother, shall we see if your sister can take seeing you become my eternal pawn? You bastard! I shall take that as a yes? Give him up. As soon as the young guards hands had fallen away, Raeliss own hands locked around the shackles, and he dragged Tharn to the altar and flung the grunting Dantharian upon it. Raelis thrust his hands at Tharn, and fire burst from them, again twisting into those dreadful chains. See now how you will suffer for turning my Priestess against me. Raeliss eyes were deep wells leading to nothingness; all emotion had gone from his voice. Tharn tried to fight against his new bonds, but soon he let out a moan of pain. The more he moved, the more the fire chewed into him. Now, with the slaying of this filth, let Necromanus begin! The crowd clamored with more excitement than ever. Jessdana wept slightly. Raelis picked up the discarded pike and began walking around the altar with odd precision. At first he was quiet, but then he started chanting. Necromanus, vey dominata. Unta malim, matadorae vilentia. Finis vae, sangri muer. Raelis now made a full circuit and he bowed. Daemonica maestem. Taunus maestem, Raelis said. He made another circuit, chanting his first words again in that same empty voice, and after another bow he did so again. When he came to the head of the altar for the third time, he not only bowed, but he knelt too and closed his eyes. Raelis kept repeating, Muertente raest vey sacrifido ardor. It seemed like a dozen times, maybe more, and then his words overtook him. Though still blank-faced, he began to quiver. His lower half exploded into rhythmic thrusts, which didnt stop, even as he looked up at the bloody moon. After a second that almost could have been called silent, Raelis began to contort, as if he were about to transform into the most hellish demon. Then he bolted to his feet and bellowed, Necromanus! Even before the vile word escaped him, Raelis drove the pike into Tharns heart. Jessdana couldnt hold back her sobs. The Master Pyromancer gave himself over to a torrent of stabbing. Blood gushed from Tharns mutilated chest but Raelis wouldnt stop until he was a thousand percent sure of death. When Raelis stopped, nearly spent, the great clock, from its nearby tower, began throbbing out the hour. With a quick wave, the fiery chains evaporated from the corpse, and Raelis threw himself upon the altar even before they had fully gone. He lowered his mouth to Tharns, looking as though he would either kiss the dead lips or rip them off with his teeth. However as the lips touched, Raelis began vomiting. He jerked as waves of sickness pounded him, but he fought to keep contact. Jessdana tried not to watch this horror but she couldnt even shut her eyes. She knew Raelis was preventing her. The clock continued its tolling. Eight seven six five The old millennium was fully spent, and Raelis still vomited, his eyes glowing with fierce determination and as the final morbid chime sounded, he lifted his head, hot blood running from the corners of his mouth. Then he shouted, Necromanus! Arise! Raelis began panting and retching a little, but only for a few moments. Tharns body twitched underneath him grotesquely and the dead eyes began glowing green, as if bewitched with life. Raelis slid off the altar and sank to the floor. Yet he stood quickly enough. After a few vile spasms, Tharn sat up. He looked around a bit until he saw Raelis. What do you desire, Master? The old Tharn was utterly gone, or at least buried so deep that he could no longer fight. Raelis smiled. You are to lead my army against all that scorn me, and my army, your new kindred, should be arising now. Raelis gestured westward, and far off, where the old burial plaza rested, many ominous emerald lights illumined that horizon. Yes, and they should be here before long. However, I have something to keep you busy while you wait. While my enemies pollute many regions, near and far, some are even gathered here tonight. Slay these men. Raelis pointed at Marsdan, Theein, and the young teen. Then he looked at Jessdana, his expression beyond cruel. First, though, this woman. Raelis conjured the chains away, and Jessdana toppled to her knees. Burn holes covered Jessdanas silken dress; some of her visible skin was seared. Somehow, whether by fear or sorrow or some grievous mixture of the two, Jessdana couldnt move. She is the greatest traitor. Prove your allegiance and kill her. Raelis handed Tharn the pike. Jessdana thought she might have seen some minute hesitation, but even if she had, it meant nothing. Tharn started toward her, his newly revived limbs showed no weakness, nor did his terrible, glimmering eyes. Tharn, please Dont Jessdana whimpered. Tharn seemed to hesitate again. Kill her, my servant. Now! Tharn would have obeyed, but suddenly another voice arose. No, Tharn. Hes not your Master. I am. Jessdana looked to the doorway. Shed recognized the voice but it didnt seem possible. Thardanis suddenly began drawing toward them. Everyone was shocked, except Tharn, who had frozen obediently. Raelis glared at Thardanis. Who do you think you are? Thardanis gave an icy smile. Kill him! Raelis blasted. Thardanis shook his head. Hes not going to do that, I assure you. How can you? Kill him, my servant! Now! Tharn only stared at his cousin. In the name of Hell, who are you? What are you? Raelis growled through clenched teeth. I am the present Lord of Danthar, which by itself means very little. What matters is that there is one more prophecy, a hidden prophecy that Yrotan wrote not long before he died. He sought out the Dantharian leader of the day and gave him the words, and so they have passed from that lord to his eldest son, and on and on until me. Raelis grunted. And so this hidden prophecyit says that a Dantharian lord will come and thwart Necromanus? Thwart is hardly the proper word. Did I prevent it from happening? Certainly not. And as for mentioning a Dantharian lord, the prophecy never did. Until quite recently no one understood why Yrotan had only given us these words. We thought we had to murder the one who was spoken of. How foolish. Stop playing games, Dantharian. I want the truth all of it! Jessdana somehow tore her eyes away from Raelis and Thardanis. She looked for any hint of recognition in the other Dantharians. She found none. You had the pleasure of meeting my father once, didnt you? Thardanis asked. What does your father matter? It was, oh, twenty-six years ago, wasnt it? Not long before you became the master of your breed, if Im not mistaken. Wild rage flickered in Raeliss eyes, but even before he could respond, recognition dulled their fire. Dantareg Yes, Dantareg was my father or else thats what everyone wanted to believe, even me for a time. My mother Thardaa was his wife. Do you remember what you did after you killed Lord Dantareg? Do you remember what you did to his wife? A thick silence fell and lingered like a shroud until Thardanis said, Maybe my prophecy will remind you Out of violence a child born, in days corrupt with fire. He grows into a man of strength and ever much desire, and so with dreams of vengeance arises he at the hour of Necromanus, to steal power from his true father, to control all dark contagion. After another silent moment, Raelis whispered, No. But its true Father. You raped my mother and left her for dead, but fool that you are you didnt make sure she actually died. Her people found her and restored her (as best they could) and not long after they realized she was pregnant. No one wanted me to be a bastard or a fiend, so who could be the father but their dead lord. My mother bore me, but she couldnt raise me because of what youd done to her. She was mad, utterly ruined until the day she died. When I started realizing I was different, I was ashamed. I knew I was your filth, but as I grew old enough to read the prophecy and understand it, I sought to develop these demonic talents, for I knew the day would come when I would bring you to your knees. Kneel, fiend! Thardaniss sudden screech chilled everyone, and even more astonishing, Raelis crumpled to his knees. And back! Thardanis cried and swept his hand leftward, before violently clashing it forward. Raelis shot back, almost to the towers edge. Jessdana looked at him, almost hoping to see fear there for the first time. There was no fear, only mesmerized shock. Now burn Father. Thardanis thrust out his fist, and then his fingers shot open. Once his palm was exposed, he drew his arm back and rammed it forward again. Three balls of black flame tore toward Raelis and a moment later engulfed him. The ravenous, almost purplish flames danced on him and tore at him with fanglike precision. No one, not even the Pyromancers -- or even Raelis himself -- could have imagined such a sight. The black flames spoke of a power so corrupt that it had been ages since their like had been seen. At first Raelis stood still, even though he was consumed. The initial blast carried a heat that was tolerable for a Master Pyromancer. But as the flames worked on and on Raelis began shrieking and dancing in pain, and soon he met the towers edge and lost his bearings entirely. Even through the thick blanket of flames, Jessdana could see Raeliss arms flailing, as if he could keep from falling. Yet he fell; his wails melded with the screams of the Pyromancers below. Thardanis looked satisfied and smug, as he turned to Tharn. Loose our friends, and kill these guards. Jessdana was too fixed on her brother to realize that Thardanis had come to her, until he pulled her up into his side. Jessdana gasped. Oh God, he feels just like Raelis. You were his, but now youre mine, Thardanis whispered. And I promise well celebrate my triumph soon together. The Pyromancer guards screamed behind them. Jessdana felt their blood splatter her arms, but her mind diverted from all that quickly. She looked out into the westward expanse. The thick fog of glowing green came ever closer. It wouldnt be long before the newly arisen dead reached the Keep. Pyromancers! Thardanis called to the people below, and Jessdana looked down with him, her eyes stuck on Raeliss still flaming remains. You that once served my father shall serve me now! If you dare resist, the dead which you have longed to control for ages, will kill you. The Dantharians whom you have despised for even longer will come for you as well. Test me only if you wish to lose everything. Below, the crowd raged and clamored, but Jessdana knew Thardanis was right. He would have what he desired and more. He was too much like Raelis far too much, and this became even clearer as Thardanis lifted her face and stared straight into her eyes. His own eyes held such lust and power that Jessdana knew she would be as helpless toward him as shed been with his father. -- , # ,

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A dark fantasy story, set in a bleak semi-futuistic soceity. Two clans war against each other, and one of them plans a vile ceremony that will bring them ultimate domination.


7/26/2009 7:10 PM Premium
I love this one..It is Famed by me!!



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Votes: 4
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Date: 7/21/09
Other: Writing