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The Best Necromancer

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Written by   262
1 month ago

The apocalypse was my fault. I shouldn't have allowed them to raise their own armies. Worst of all, if I saved the world, no one would give me the credit I deserved.

In the beginning, I thought this had been my greatest idea yet. Why spend decades learning what others had already mastered? Wasting time didn't make any sense. I was already a great necromancer. If I could raise servants who were strong, nobody would dare look down at me again.

It didn't seem like a big deal at first. Everything went according to plan. The old necromancers couldn't do much without my permission, limited by my mana pool, but that quickly turned into a liability. Taking over a kingdom just wasn't feasible if I had to micromanage every single thing.

And so, I made my first mistake.

I gave 'Onovax the Stitcher' the ability to make his own chimeras again, independent of me, and used his monsters to overthrow the duke of the land.

The success immediately went to my head. An army had been quickly built to oppose me, and I more than welcomed the challenge. Thinking that I was being clever, I raised other necromancers to make sure I didn't completely rely on Onovax. This would supposedly keep them in check since, although I wasn't puppeteering them, they still needed me around to remain anchored to the physical world. I never expected them to band together and imprison me.

In hindsight, that was an obvious choice for them. I was basically a living phylactery. Only my death could stop them, something I wasn't willing to do. Not for the rotten world that pushed me into doing this.

I spent the next few years chained to a rat-infested dungeon. My ego couldn't take the hit. It took me a long time to admit that I simply wasn't as skilled as I thought I was. By the time I was honest with myself, the necromancers had taken over most of the world.

That didn't mean I gave up, though. The only thing bigger than my embarrassment was my unyielding rage at my traitorous minions.

I waited for a rat to die near me, then turned it into my servant. When my food was brought to me, I used the undead rat to steal the keys to my cell and escaped into the night.

Onovax did not take kindly to that. He had been fighting the other necromancers for a while, since they all wanted to be the one ruler of the world, but my departure terrified them so much that they had no choice but to work together.

My next step was a risky one. I knew I couldn't fight them all on my own. I just wasn't talented enough and I wasn't above admitting it anymore. The only solution I could think of was raising the strongest necromancer possible, only this time I wouldn't yield my control.

'Malajuk the Embodiment of Damnation' was quite possibly the most feared necromancer in history. Originally, I never wanted to raise him due to my cowardice, but I wasn't scared of the consequences anymore. If anyone could help me stop them, it would be him.

Finding his tomb was a treacherous journey in and of itself. All the while, I had to elude not only Onovax's forces, but every other remaining kingdom's as well. I was an enemy of the world. They figured out that killing me would dispel every necromancer and thus they hunted me like an animal.

That didn't stop me. If anything, it made me stronger. Every obstacle forced me to improve and use my abilities in ways I hadn't thought about.

After a year of searching, I found the cursed tomb and brought back Malajuk.

The result wasn't... what I expected.

Malajuk only had a skull left. He rolled out of his sarcophagus with a loud yawn, scanned the empty room, and said:

"Strange... This isn't a dream, huh?"

I knelt before him. "Embodiment of damnation, apologies for interrupting your slumber, I come seeking wisdom in a time of great strife."

Malajuk frowned. "If you want my help, cut the theatrics."

"Eh?"

"Seriously, stop kneeling, it's embarrassing."

I squinted, confused. None of the other necromancers had been that direct. I went on to explain the situation, along with my role in the story, and Malajuk could only laugh in response. I didn't appreciate that, but I wasn't in a position to complain. Malajuk must've noticed it in my face since he went on to say:

"It happens to the best of us, kid. You should've come to me first. I wouldn't have let you do something that dumb."

I glanced away, scratching my head. "You're literally the embodiment of damnation. Resurrecting you was a last resort."

"I didn't come up with that moniker, you know. That was all my enemies' doing."

"I guess that makes sense, but still-"

"Forget it, I just have a simple question. Why did you go down the path of necromancy to begin with?"

I paused. That wasn't something I ever spoke about.

Malajuk tried to arch an eyebrow, pressuring me to answer, but his rotting flesh made the expression look weirdly goofy instead.

"Fine," I said. "It's not complicated. I practiced my whole life to be a court wizard, but I was passed over in favor of a lesser mage that was friendly with the king. That's when I decided that I would force the world to recognize my greatness."

"There we go" said Malajuk. "Hubris. All too common among our peers. You see the problem, right?"

"Not... really..."

Malajuk sighed. "I'll spell it out for you, then. By letting the world define you, you spent all of your energy on trying to prove them wrong, instead of actually being that great. Seriously, do you think I wanted to be 'the embodiment of damnation'?"

"Yes...?"

Malajuk shook his head a bit. "I mean, it's a cool title and all, but it's not what I set out to do. That just came as a consequence of my actions."

"So what do we do, then? I'm clearly not good enough. Should I just let the world end?"

Malajuk chuckled. "No, no. The answer is simple. Instead of trying to be great, focus on being better instead."

"How?"

"I'll train you, of course! I think your biggest mistake was letting all those necromancers do the work in your stead. If you had used them as teachers, you would probably be the mightiest necromancer in history."

I nodded along, then narrowed my eyes, suspicious. "How can I trust you?"

"You can't."

I slumped my shoulders, hanging my head. This guy was toying with me.

"The thing is," said Malajuk, "I'm lazy as fuck. The whole world domination thing is only alluring when you're young, or if you're a failure, like that Onovax dude, and let it define you. So how about it?"

"All right... master. Let's go save the world that hates us."

And thus, my real journey began.

*****

THE END.

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