Here you can read the first part of my new ‘Tired of Blood’ novel. I hope you will find it interesting – let me know in the comments below!
Tears of Blood
“Rise! Rise! Rise! I command thee RISE!” Urt waved one hand over the corpse in the prescribed fashion and threw the Redroot powder with the other.
“Rise damn you! Rise and do my bidding.”
The corpse failed to do any such thing.
“You will rise!” screamed Urt, losing his temper.
The body twitched and, for a brief moment, the eyes opened. Urt could have sworn a moment of panic passed over the dead mans’ face, but then it was gone, and the body slumped back and remained still. Again.
The necromancer’s apprentice punched the stomach of the corpse, which resulted in no change at all. It remained dead, counter to everything that was good and natural. Or at least evil and unnatural, which was the situation here.
“No luck then boss?” a voice said.
“It must have been the Redroot powder,” he replied. “Too old.”
“Yeah, and I’ll sprout a body and do the tango.”
“Shut your face you!” Urt swung round and pointed a finger at the partially rotten head sitting on the table next to him.
“Oh, that’s it. Take it out on your only friend in the world. Like it’s my fault.” The detached noggin rolled its eyes.
“You are not my friend,” the young necromancer scowled, brushing back a lock of dark hair that had fallen down over his eyes. “You are the first of my army. My undead army of world domination.”
“The head of it I hope.”
“I like to help where I can.”
“Well, you can come with me and help me look for more Redroot.”
“You know it wasn’t the…”
Urt stepped back from his latest failed attempt at raising the dead and heaved a deep sigh. If he was honest with himself, it probably wasn’t the root. It was the same thing that stopped him raising anything larger than a frog. The same thing that had prevented him from raising anything worthwhile since…
“Hey, if you’re finished with the body, do you mind passing me over a bit of brain?” Horace, his heady companion, smacked what remained of his lips.
“You ask me that every time, and every time I say no,” he replied, suddenly very weary.
“No harm in trying. I’d shrug my shoulders about now,” Horace commented. “If I had any.”
Urt ignored the zombie head and looked around his small living quarters. It was a depressing place, even for someone who was supposed to live in depressing places. The small chamber barely had room for his work bench, which was pushed up against the wall. Behind him, close enough for him to fall over if he took a step back, was a narrow bunk. A single window looked out over the marshland that served as scenery in this part of the world. It was a tiny space.
“We work with what we have,” he muttered, sitting on his bed, which squeaked and sagged in the middle.
“Don’t get down boss,” said Horace, in an overly cheerful voice. “You’ll get he hang of it one day, and then it’ll be world domination in no time at all. Zombies all over the place, obeying your every whim.”
“I appreciate the sentiment,” Urt sighed. “But I’ll be undead and a lich before that happens at this rate. Maybe old Mangle was wrong about me.”
“No, he might have been mad and deranged, but he knew his stuff. If he said you had power, then you have power. I’m folding my arms and tapping my foot now, for your information,” the head added.
“Maybe he realized he was wrong. Maybe that’s why he disappeared.”
“Come on now. We’ve been over this so many times,” Horace said. “He ran into an angry bear or fell into the swamp or something. There are million things that could have happened to him. I’m shaking my head sadly about this.”
Urt smiled slightly. His only, remaining, human success was prone to describing the actions of the body it didn’t have when feeling under stress. “We all do what we can,” he murmured.
“That’s the sprit boss! Come on, let’s get rid of this useless body and find some Redroot shall we? I’ll give you a hand… Haha! Never gets old that one. I’m holding my sides now.”
“Why does my only speech capable minion think he’s a comedian?” Urt stood up. “Very well, let’s go for a walk.”
“Great. Now, where did I leave my shoes?”
Stalking through the swamp, Horace swinging in a pouch hanging from his hip, calmed Urt down a little. It was good to get out of the shack for a while. A change of scenery, even if the scenery consisted mainly of stinking plant life and fetid pools of water.
The odd misshapen head broke the surface of the murky liquid at intervals, but the gators knew he wasn’t food. Uncomfortable things happened to the creatures that had tried, and the lesson had been learned by the survivors. Even the mosquitoes and bugs kept away from him, he was powerful enough to repulse those at least.
“…boss? Boss! Are you listening to me? What’s the point in having me along if you don’t pay attention?”
Snapping out of his reverie, Urt looked down at the head. “Sorry Horace, I was miles away. What is it?”
“I’m pointing over there,” the zombie said, rolling his eyes. “Redroot. You do still want some I presume?
“Oh, yes. Thanks.” Urt scanned the area and located the ugly brown plants. Sauntering over he squatted down and plucked the toadstool shaped growths out of the ground. They resisted, as if reluctant to come, but a good tug freed them from the earth.
The crop harvested, he stood up and took a deep breath. The methane in the air lifted his spirits. If there was any place more suited to Necromancy, he didn’t know where it was. Actually, he pondered as he started walking once more, that really was true. Most of his young adult life had been spent in this place, under the harsh guidance of mad Mangle, his old master. Mangle had insisted he had power, great power, despite the failed attempts to raise.
Squelching through the bog, Urt wrinkled his forehead. It seemed that as he grew older he grew less able to raise anything. There had been a time, once, when he was very young, he’d performed a great magic. That was when Mangle had found him, or shortly after anyway, when his village has expelled him in fear, so Mangle had explained. He shook his head. It was all such a long time ago, the memories were fuzzy at best.
“Where we going now boss?” Horace once again piped up, no doubt bored by their wandering.
“What? Oh, er…” Urt stopped and looked around. He’d been walking aimlessly, lost in his thoughts. Not the best idea considering one wrong step and he’d be hair deep in quicksand.
Getting his bearings, he discovered the area he’d wandered into was close to the small trail that led to the only civilization in the area, though to term a village that had named itself Mudrut civilization was pushing the boundaries of the definition.
“Maybe we should go and dig up another corpse,” he said.
“You didn’t bring a shovel,” Horace pointed out.
“There’s usually one lying around,” Urt replied, though in truth a bucket would probably serve just as well. Mudrut’s method of disposing of their dead lacked all ceremony. The villagers seemed to believe that the swamp did the best job of getting rid of bodies, though in fact it was usually Urt that performed that duty.
“May as well go and take a look,” he said, taking a wet step forward. “As we’re in the area.”
“That’s the way to go! Get back on the horse,” Horace encouraged, as the young necromancer squelched his way along the path towards the huddle mass of rude dwellings that made up Mudrut.
As he approached the village he slowed, moving with care. The villagers knew there was a dark wizard in the swamp, but they didn’t know what he looked like. Urt wanted to keep it like that, on the vague suspicion they wouldn’t be enlightened enough to treat him with the fear and respect that he deserved. They were more likely to throw stones.
“There’s the burial area,” whispered Horace, from Urt’s waist. “Can you see if there’s any new business there?”
“Not yet,” Urt replied. He scrambled behind a bush and peered through its slimy leaves, trying to make out if there was the telltale lump that indicated a fresh corpse. They didn’t come along very often, and the most recent had only been a few weeks ago, so he was surprised to see not one, but two low mounds.
“We’re in luck,” he whispered. After a final quick look left and right, he dashed forward in a bent over run.
“Two of them!” said Horace, spotting the graves. “I’m rubbing my hands together in glee!”
“Hush,” Urt said, sticking his head up and looking over at the village. “We should have come back at night.”
“Oh it’s alright. They’re probably getting drunk or whatever the living do these days.”
Ignoring the dead head, Urt rolled the sleeves of his robe up and stuck one hand into the mud and groped about until he touched flesh. With some effort, he managed to pull the body slowly its rest until the wet earth released its grasp with a dull pop. The body slid free like a particularly gruesome delivery.
“It’s a young one,” Horace said. “Practically a baby. What a waste, they’re so tasty fresh.”
“No eating my experiments,” Urt scolded, grimacing at the mud on his arms and reaching back down, into the other grave.
The second one took more effort, and he was covered in mud by the time the cadaver, a girl of maybe five years old, was free of the embrace of the cold ground.
“At least they won’t be hard to carry,” Horace pointed out, as Urt viewed his finds with distaste. How was he to build an army with young child zombies? It wasn’t fair.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” he muttered. Putting the baby in the sack he carried for herbs, he had to squash it down a bit to make it fit, he slung it over his back and turned his attention to the girl, only to step back in shock. She was looking at him!
“What the hell!” he said. “She’s alive! How can they bury a living person?”
“Dunno,” Horace said. “Does this mean I can taste her though? Just a finger, nothing important.”
“No.” Urt sidled forward and examined the girl, who blinked and slowly sat up. “No eating children, you don’t know where they’ve been.” He directed his attention to the child. “Who are you?”
More coming soon!