A Story of Segrus the Necromancer
The voice of the spirit had been so loud, a thunderclap went unnoticed as a herald to the rain which begun soaking him. His death-mask black cloak flickered open from the downpour’s aerial course, and forced a firm hand to guide it back into its place. It was without surprise or furthermore concern that the figure stopped on the washed mud road. His gaze pieced outward toward the deepening night in silent thought.
His simple dress betrayed him more to the elements of rain and gathering darkness than it did for the small town he left hours of walking prior. The pitch of his mantle could fade a man and their face into the night. Otherwise, a common traveling garb was held together by a belt at the waist—wholly unremarkable with its dull gray coloring. The citizens gave him the same berth they would a sorcerer and assumed him to be as much. Mystery remained intact as his craft.
Segrus was not a sorcerer and divined no prophesies. A straight dagger clasped into his belt could service in a close fight, but its unadorned length was no warrior’s or soldier’s weapon. In the dark night, within the solemn and solitude of tombs, Segrus discerned the dead and grasped their silence as one might seize the ivory-like bones of their owners. They gave up their secrets to him who listened. Their glory was recalled. Terror assuaged upon the corpses of the lost. Justice none relaxed in life nor death.
A flittering whisper became a dirge as the road passed through civilization, which drew Segrus’ attention to the surrounding moor the town anchored. He scarcely paid closer attention to the world than now. A cry of terror as loud and cold to pierce this gathering storm could only mean his services could wait no longer. Drawing the dagger carefully from his belt, Segrus paid no heed to the rain and advanced through its curtains.
The source of death was far from the poor road, deep into nature’s domain. Looking behind, Segrus tried to memorize the pattern of town lights in the distance and determined his journey would return him thus in time. Or the pitch-black tree marking the wraith’s domain on this forsaken plot would serve twice.
His skin tightened into harsh bumps at the sound of its shrill howl. Its high pitch screamed high above the thunder, as if the hatred towards life it represented matched nature’s own wrath. No longer a human shadow helplessly fluttering over the decaying corpse in the earth. The earth was unfurled here as a gaping wound into the pit. And he could see his soul shredded from his stomach and splayed across the realm if he failed.
Lightning shined along the thunderclouds overhead. Its arc created a halo of light behind the dead tree and illuminated its texture. Segrus could see insect-borne crevasses throughout. They were deep and deliberate attempts at the tree’s core material. The light faded from the sky as the life of the tree drained over years. Within the pores of death leaked an unearthly inhabitant before Segrus—the wraith.
Its presence began to dominate the space beyond the physical world from its crawl space inside the tree. The form remained chained at the empty beetle holes at its full height, stretching shadowy unnatural limbs in all directions. Segrus grappled in stunned silence with a monster spirit defying explanation. Despite the unsightly filth of the area surrounding the tree, thread-bare of vegetation, Segrus gained moments to study the sight before him. The rain baptized him clothes and all yet provided shelter in the shelter-less moor. He judged there was little use in delaying long against the spirit. From his position the chained wraith strained its rotten tree prison.
Dagger gripped in hand, he bounded from his crouched position in the grassy refuse. The wraith shot forward a multitude of deformed shadows in his direction, each which looked something between a distended human arm and the bulging claw of a beetle. It leaned on each tendril in a rolling sequential motion which sickened Segrus immediately for its unnaturalness. Another scream ripped through the curtain of water separating them as it met his approach. Segrus acted fast in the face of evil and lunged forward to get as low on the wraith’s form as he could before it unfurled fully away from the tree. He met the malformed body near where he intended to land. The body trampled his as it pressed him into the ground with a number of blunted pegs into his back. He tried not to imagine the vicious claws digging through his material body. Any expedient motion which saved him by lunging, saved him from the reaping scythes of its upper form, was not being lost as the wraith shifted to rip him out. No feature composed a face as it coiled to strike—only a miasmic void of teeth turning in on itself infinitely. Closer now, Segrus could tell this monster was an avatar for the maw of the abandon void of death. The monster pulled its arms—its teeth—its undulating grind to devour the soul of the human prey. The mouth would consume.
But the man resisted. His unarmed grip found its mark near the base of the wraith and forced an unrelenting clutch of a madman. As he jerked with practiced strength, the wraith sought to dislodge him by continuing to tear into him body and soul. He could now feel the terrible mandibles snatch at his existence. Material fabric ripped apart, then flesh tore, and finally his internal fabric of mind strained at the edges. He stretched more into the wraith’s mouth until the pain lanced from feet to fingers. He did not let go.
Suddenly the wood of the corrupted tree cracked and released the offending sore within. He used the wraith’s unearthly strength to rip itself from the tree, exposing a weakness he discerned would be there. The dark of the storm and night hid its blackened form, but some enormous husk several hands big was thrown to the soggy grass with the man. Wraith or no, the swiftness of the event caused it to let go. And now, unsteadily rising with a dagger, Segrus the Necromancer bore down on the core of the wild spirit of death.
The wraith sensed its demise, but Segrus acted quicker by touching the dead insect husk and reviving it to life. It squirmed immediately in his hand. This malevolent presence existed through unnatural death, and now life reversed the danger it presented to the area, the nearby town, and to himself. Black ooze which once formed spiritual death slapped the ground and slowly washed in the rain. Oversized and confused, the insect in his hand tried to struggle free. Segrus scrapped his dagger against the still-dead yet alive husk until he found what seemed to be the head and cut it off. The dagger severed permanently what should have long since been dead. Segrus then wobbled to the tree and collapsed.
–:-- –:-- –:-- –:--
Segrus awoke pained, but still alive. He could tell his clothes would need to be mended, as well as himself from the feat, and that would give him time to consider the next move. Grasping the bark of the tree for support, he rose up to view his surroundings in the clear morning. Low-hanging clouds threatened to obscure the moor, yet the town could be sighted in the distance. And then he looked down upon the pitiful remains of last night.
What appeared to be the cause of horrific violence seemed similar to the flowering pollinators from his youth, yet much too large and obviously deformed. From where a stinger should be on the end of the carapace was an empty hole. The wraith consumed outward from there. Despite the struggle of last night and his blind wandering to find the source of the shrieking, clearly more than one traveled here. Grass had been parted from heavy footfalls. Nature in all its fury did not create the monster. Segrus pushed gently off the tree, sliding his dagger into his belt. Whether the bumbling of an amateur shaman or the practiced hand of deeper evil, he would discover who did this and revive justice upon them for the harm he thwarted.
Segrus slowly stumbled across the moor to the town, pulling his torn black mantle back into place.
Thanks for reading H.’s Discount Writing Outlet! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.