The Necromancer's Lament, by Francesca Quarto
I ran through the howling night, battered by a piercing sleet, tripping on slick rocks along the river's edge. She can't be gone...She can't be gone.
Thunder boomed around me, a few heart beats later, streaking bolts of lightning lacerated the inky blackness that seemed to tether me to the earth.
I stumbled onward, toward the last place I held my darling Corine. Her beautiful face, luminous eyes closed to me. Her delicate ears, deaf to my outpouring of my everlasting love. Her hair, each strand glowing like spun gold, cascading down my arms.
Arriving at the graveyard, I wended my way through the ancient burial grounds; dark angels, arms outstretched as if to embrace my living body, peered down as I passed. Gentle doves followed my movements with beady, stone eyes. I wiped the wet away with my sleeve, now as sodden as the earth beneath my feet.
I paused, waiting for celestial illumination. A finger of lightning scratched a path to ground, showing me clearly, where my beloved was held in death's sway.
I arrived at the crypt, determined that this was not to be our ending; this death would not severe our bond. Ours was now a connection forged in the devil's own fires. I had pledged my oath to the Soul-Taker to make it so on this very night; this Hallowed Night, the Eve of All Saints Day.
I went up the three steps, standing uncertainly in front of the heavy door. There was a deep, red light slipping under and around the door's frame. I stared in disbelief. I left my darling girl lying in the cool, dry place, without the benefit of candle or flame. This subtle glow, seeping out into the fury of the night, brought me much alarm and disquiet.
Just as I was about to enter the tomb, there came a soft, rustling sound behind me. I spun round. Leering up at me was Soul Taker himself, standing like a half goat on hairy bent legs, ending sharply in polished cloven hooves.
"Why are you come?" I asked with alarm gripping my throat like two strong hands.
"Have you already forgotten your solemn vow to my service, mortal? You will become one of my own; gathering the dead and with my help, raising them into a new existence. You have promised me an army of servants to my ungodly cause. This, in exchange for new life for your fallen lover."
He stopped speaking. That's when I realized he had ascended the three stone steps and now stood so close I could feel his fetid, hot breath on my face.
"Shall we enter and see to your beloved, Corine, mortal?"
I moved aside and using his hand like a fan, he drew the immensely heavy door open as if it was a sheet of parchment paper.
The eerie crimson light was diffused throughout the small chamber. I inhaled deeply, as if in shock, upon seeing my love. She stood as if just rising from the awful slab she was laid upon, her back turned to me. Her white burial gown flowed around her body as if little flesh existed beneath. The glorious mass of golden hair, reflected the blood red of the strange glow.
The light abruptly changed color, the moment Soul Taker entered the crypt. From the garish red, it morphed into something akin to a dazzling sun.
The tomb was awash in an unnatural brightness, scouring the shadows from their corners and searing my eyeballs with unfiltered heat. The Soul Taker had moved to stand beside Corine. She was gazing raptly at an array of dead flowers and small mementos of our life together; placed there many months earlier, before I struck on my plan to save her.
Reaching, he took one slim hand into his scaly, clawed one, turning her ever so slowly to show herself to me at last.
There was a horrible, blood chilling scream reverberating around the chamber, bouncing off the cold stone walls. It seemed like it would never end. I covered my ears with my hands.
When it finally stopped, they were both staring at me; the Soul Taker smiling like a King cobra and Corine, laughing softly, until bloody tears ran down her cheeks.
It was I, who shattered the quiet of the crypt, screeching my very guts out upon seeing my beloved in the hot light of reality. She was putrefying even as I watched, standing statue like, while pieces of her sloughed off onto the stone floor.
She moved toward me, as fluid as a shadow over the face of a pond. When she was near, I smelled the cloying sweetness of rot and death.
"You have served my Master well, and now, we will serve him together as we gather others to his cause. Do not look so distraught dear one, you have been granted your soul's desire.
You are now the Necromancer who sleeps with death."