The Necromancer's Proposal
[WP] People assume a kingdom ruled by a Necromancer as being hell, actually it's a pretty sweet gig where you sell years of work in death to live super comftorble lives, now if only heros would stop trying to spoil it for everyone else...
It is hard to explain what coming back to life feels like.
Perhaps, if he had some time to consider, he could put the experience into words. Being dead was not what he expected. There was no eternal rest for his consciousness, no escape to nothingness, as he felt he could remember what it was like to be dead. It was foggy, and cold, and excruciatingly boring. The Thrall had never been a patient man, but in death he had no choice but to wait. To wait until he was called upon.
Now, though, the shifting shadows and infinite stretches of terrible light that he had grown accustomed to are simply gone. In fact, it is unusually dark. Small, flickering green lanterns hang from a far above ceiling, dotting the chamber in equidistance increments and casting the room with eerie shadows. The dim light helps his eyes to adjust as he takes in his surroundings. He stands now in a vast, circular chamber. Dark, twisted stone pillars decorate each side of many coffins that line the rounded wall of the chamber. The fronts of each of the coffins now lay flat on the ground, freeing the inhabitants of each. The front of his own coffin lay at his feet, its reflective surface flickering with the movement of candlelight.
He knows where he was. He has been here many, many times before.
Inside each coffin contains undead beings in various states of decay. Some, he thinks, must be freshly dead. They look almost alive, if not for the piercing green glow of their eyes and the way their bodies hang like puppets on a string. Others are completely stripped of flesh, their forms sloppily held together by bones and magic alone. Then, there are those like him. Grotesque displays of the circle of life, their flesh melting and skin rotting as each moment went on. While the High Necromancer's magic could slow the decaying process, it could not prevent it completely. He wonders how long some of these souls had been trapped here, if it had been long enough to decay completely. The Thrall watches them, and shivers a bit as they all mirror his experience: disoriented, attempting to get their bearings after being ripped from beyond.
His time in death is fading rapidly, now. It is difficult to remember existence across states of being. But one thing he is sure of, he hadn't been dead long this time.
For a moment, he is filled with bitter hatred. Why should he be trapped in this purgatory, forced to serve the High Necromancer at his beck and call? Is this truly what he deserves? His emotions quickly subside, however, as he was not quite alive. In this state of half-life, his soul brought back by the High Necromancer's incredible power, he was not able to experience the full complexity of living. He can not feel, can not see, can not speak in the way a living being would. His consciousness is simply there, inhabiting a decaying body that had not been his for decades.
There was no judgement that placed him in this position, as it was one he had agreed to. All who lived in the High Necromancer's kingdom were granted lives of prosperity in exchange for their service in death. The Thrall had been enticed by this offer: the world was a dangerous place, and lives of luxury were unheard of. Safety, shelter, and prosperity in life were surely worth some sacrifice in death, right? After all, his service in death would only be called upon for combat, and the kingdom had seldom seen war in its history. Few adversaries would dare challenge a foe with a near-endless army, so the High Necromancer rarely had to revive troops for battle.
It seemed like a decent offer at the time. There was simply no other way to guarantee a life of comfort. So, naturally, he took the deal. When he became an official citizen of the kingdom, he agreed to the High Necromancer's conditions. As long as he died in the kingdom's territory, his spirit would be bound to serve the kingdom when called upon. He was told that his service would only be asked for once, and that after serving his kingdom in combat after death, his spirit would be granted rest. The Thrall accepted this sacrifice. It was to repay the High Necromancer for his protection, after all.
That protection proved invaluable during The Thrall's life. The High Necromancer did not lie about what he would provide in life. The Thrall lived in borderline opulence, in a small but gleaming home in which he would build a family. He can not remember their faces or names, just as he can not remember much of his life. Thinking of them always made his heart flip in a confusing way. Had he loved these people? He wishes he could remember, but it was so long ago, now.
It was not until death that The Thrall realized his mistake.
The High Necromancer promised that death would be a time of rest, like falling asleep before briefly being woken up for service, and then going back under once again. When The Thrall experienced death, however, his consciousness was simply transferred to some purgatory of in-betweens to await the High Necromancer's command. And while it felt like ages before he was finally called into service, he felt almost excited. Finally, he would be allowed to rest.
The first time he was revived, the sensation felt incredible. It was not life, but it was something, and he had not felt something in a very long while. He woke up in a coffin, in a large circular chamber, and was instructed to march outside along with the rest of the chamber's inhabitants. They were a squadron, heading to battle. An army of unfortunates who had gained salvation in life at a price far higher than they anticipated. Rising into the night air, he could see that there were hundreds of these chambers filled with undead, all being released. Fields of dark and dying grass stretched as his body was commanded to fall into line, a hoard of undead marching into battle. He had a spear this first time, he remembered, and was at the very front of the undead forces. When he first laid eyes on his opponents, he felt the memory of shock enter his dead form. There were thousands, an army. But who would have been foolish enough to wage a war against the High Necromancer?
The Thrall received an immediate answer to this question. At the front of the army, a tall man in flowing sapphire robes instructed the hoard to a halt. He was adorned with jewels from head to toe and wore a thick stack of amulets, and The Thrall almost thought he could hear them clinking against each other as he grew nearer. Suddenly, the wizard spoke, his voice booming across the desolate battlefield.
"High Necromancer!! You are a scorn on this world, and you must set these people free. Do you not see what you have become?!" His voice echoed across the field.
"This war will not end until you fall. Until these people's souls are freed!!" The sapphire wizard paused, awaiting a response.
The Thrall suddenly felt his jaw wrench open as black fog erupted from the mouths of each undead on the battle field. A horrible symphony of screeches filled the air as the High Necromancer forced their decaying bodies to chant:
"Death... Is... Eternal..."
He was struck down quickly, in that battle. An enchanted sword through his rib brutally mutilated his body and dispelled the power of the High Necromancer to release his spirit. Instead of being met with the release he was promised, however, he found himself back in that in between. Back in death. Back to waiting.
Now, he struggles to remember how many times he has been forced to battle, and to die. How long he has spent trapped in that terrible place of waiting. How many times he has cursed himself for his naivety, for accepting something that was too good to be true.
He wonders if he will have to fight this battle for eternity. If he will die a thousand times over, forced back into battle against people who desired only to free him. He wonders if the army he faces knows the suffering they inflict. If their leaders know the torment they cause for those they wish to free. He wishes he could speak, to tell them to put down their arms and leave this cursed place. After all, if the High Necromancer had no battles to fight, then at least he would not be called into battle. He would spend eternity in limbo, yes, but he would not have to feel the cold touch of death over and over again. He wonders who is winning the battle. Had they come close to killing the High Necromancer? Surely his power could not be infinite, right? If they could hold out for long enough, would his soul finally be released? He wonders these things, and his puppeteered body swings his sword brutally against his opponent.
His train of thought is interrupted by a sharp blast of magic to the side of his skull. A figure stands to his side as his body crashes to the ground, his consciousness quickly fading.
Soon, he is back in that place of light and shadow, of waiting and yearning. In time, the High Necromancer will recollect his consciousness and transfer it back into his host. The High Necromancer has a remarkable skill for rebuilding bodies, and The Thrall knows that his part is not yet done. The Thrall simply hopes that soon, this war is over. He is beyond caring about which side prevails. He is tired of fighting, and wishes only for it to come to an end. Then, perhaps he could make peace with eternity in this place.
For now, though, he sits and waits.