War of the Dead

(I have italics and other small edits to make to this, but this is basically a sequel short.)

The power does it to everyone. It corrupts us all, or at least those of us who embrace it.

Although we dive right in to be swept away by the black waters of necromancy, it's not easy for us to stay afloat. Our humanity is the coastline, the palm trees, the dry land itself. You put your humanity side by side with the fact that you're a wizard of hell, coastline next to infinite expanse of ocean, and you decide being a wizard is more fun. It appeals to you. You can't get away from it, so you dive in and swim out in to the ocean to get a bigger taste. To feel it all over your body, instead of just staring at it and dipping your toes in.

The first time you swim in the ocean of the dead, the waters are electric to your soul. They shock you, show you things that you can't possibly understand but eventually DO come to understand. One day, it just so happens that you might decide you're tired of swimming, so you try to turn around, but the coast is gone. You don't swim back. You keep being swept out. To the sharks and an unknown abyss below you. The only place you can go is down, and that leads to a place that no man has been before.

That is my family's struggle, and they have devised a society and a code over the years. If I have the right person, then the man in front of me has trampled our ideals in to the ground. Our traditions, our laws, our fellowship. In truth, we necromancers are afraid not of the dead, but of each other. We know that one of us might become too potent somewhere down the line because we stumble across the right demon with the right power, or because we sacrifice a particularly powerful spirit to the underworld. We know that one day, one of us might rise up and try to assert a kingdom of the dead on earth.

The Chomhairle believe this is the man who poses that precise threat. They sent me to find him after we found his diary. When my father learned that his own brother had deserted the coven and handed over a bloodstone to a random child due to a disagreement, he put a death sentence on this man's head. We couldn't begin to search for him until he left his bloodstone behind. A trace of his power that we could latch on to, that we could follow.

The man shuffles past me to the urinal with a mumble of "excuse me," and he shies away from looking me in the eye. He seems tired and drained. This is a good start. It could be him.


Nethergame - A Novel Excerpt

(Here are the first few chapters of my nearly finished novel that I've been working on for a year. I've also attached some accompanied listening if you feel up to it.)


Tonight is the night that Richard prays for the first time in his life.

He doesn’t kneel at the foot of the bed or fold his hands like they teach you in Sunday school. At four fourteen in the morning, he lays on his back, his arms outstretched and his left foot sticking out from the edge of his comforter where the breeze from his ceiling fan makes that small part of his body less comfortable than the rest of him.

He could rearrange, but the old frame of his bed creaks too much and if he wakes the cat sleeping by his knee, he’s getting up to feed it dry food because he can’t afford the Fancy Feast anymore. Richard hasn’t shaved in six days because you don’t have to shave when you don’t have a wife or a job or responsibilities in the outside world. The only job he’s performing well is keeping his stubble frisky.

Tonight is the night that Richard prays for the first time because he’s suddenly very desperate, and very alone. He doesn’t know why he’s alive, or where he came from, or how he’s going to get out of the giant gaping hole that he’s dug inside his own life. He’s down to a pink slip, a check for five hundred twenty six dollars and thirty four cents, and a growing stack of bills on his kitchen table. He’s running on financial fumes.

His eyes are blank and motionless, following thin licks of moonlight on the corners of the ceiling where the drywall is peeling away. Droplets creep down the wall from the busted hot water heater in the attic. They form a puddle at the base of the hardwood under his only bedroom window, and the slight hints of mold are most obvious when the sun streams through, first thing in the morning. He gives it ten days before the ceiling buckles and he has to go to Home Depot to tell them that he didn’t buy the extended warranty on the Whirlpool but it’s only been nine months past the normal expiration and if they don’t replace it then he’s never doing business with them again, except that he can’t afford a new hot water heater in the first place, much less a new duplex.

Richard paws at the bedside table until he finds the little plastic lid that they give you to shoot the Nyquil with. To the left of that, there are three beer cans and a bottle of that cheap water you can get at his old employer, by the Zingers and the Twinkies, for fifty nine cents. His fingertips skim the table surface until he finds the actual bottle itself, and then at four seventeen in the morning, he’s gulping it in waves to make himself pass out. Too much, and he’s left laying there for another two hours, his eyes twitching behind the lids and buzzing back and forth like a hundred wasps in a mason jar. Too little, and his dream world becomes just a little too real, a little too horrifying to function when he wakes up. He has to step in to it with a certain degree of numbness. He knows the dream is coming because it’s always the same. The one aspect of his life that’s a sure thing.