Chapter 26: THE NECROMANCER LEADS
Brynn stood on the walls of Springborough and looked out on the land, watching as her brother JJ and his friend, or “first mate” as he called him, Juba walked off across the grassy field, and then disappeared in the thick brush and trees that comprised the forest of Fortis. She had never been so high up in the land to see it as she was at this moment. At least, she had never taken it all in when she was up in the castle room. She saw out, but she didn’t really inspect it. She didn’t take it in for how beautiful it all looked. The green of the land, the occasional livestock moving about it, the birds in the sky, all made whatever was happening outside of the walls seem alive and natural.
Beyond the fields and the trees, Brynn could just make out the Waters of Cornwall, and while those took up the horizon, she was still way too far away to make out anything resembling Quakenfalls, and to be able to see her hut would be a feat in itself. She was too far away from that; too removed from her life. And she felt every semblance of that as stood on the walls of a Kingdom she had never planned to visit before.
They had left the Village of Fortis because of her, because she couldn’t see herself being a kept woman. She didn’t think of herself as someone else’s wife, or as a child who was done learning, who was done growing, and thus expected to pick a profession and thus become that, and work that, every day for the rest of her life. And, Springborough appeared to be no different. She had a freedom none here seemed to have, and she loved that. Except now, on the wall, she felt trapped, and she so wanted all the problems to be resolved, go away, and she wanted the simple freedom of being an unleashed kid back.
This was obvious.
What she tried to think of was whether or not it was all of her fault. Would they be happier in Fortis at the moment? If she didn’t squabble and request her parents for a better life, would she currently be having a better life? Was this kind of thought process worth it?
She did not believe she would be enjoying the fact that Fortis was currently going to war. Whether or not she ever met Princess Kyrstin or her brothers, she did not think that her family and her would believe that overthrowing the Kingdom was the proper way to go about things. So, in that right, she felt better that they had left. But, then again, if that was it, if her family had ventured off, not to Quakenfalls, but to another kingdom like Silevellen, would life be better?
In a thought, if they didn’t go after the impossible feat of finding the Lost Kingdom of Gambrille, and they were still a family somewhere, just how better would life be?
Even so, knowing what she knows now and what she knew then, would she even be happy in another Kingdom? If she was a Princess, like Kyrstin, in Gambrille, wouldn’t she be as equally miserable as Kyrstin was? She had to believe that, living in the confines of royal life, she would hate every miserable second of it. She was so accustomed to living outside and off the land, that she could see herself like Kyrstin, stealing away to the woods whenever she could. And if that was the case, if she was not going to be happy in a Kingdom, than her separation from her family was all for naught.
So, as Brynn stood on the wall, looking out to where her parents might be, and where her brother was, she felt a slight pang of angst. A ball of sobs choked her and she quietly hated herself for all the trouble she got everyone into. If Patrick, the young giant, wasn’t with her, she could see herself folding into a ball, holding her knees, and letting herself have one big cry of loneliness, like she did back in her hut before she realized the spirit of Jimmy was watching her.
Brynn the Necromancer choked down her emotions, though, knowing regret was nothing but an unproductive thought, and tried to think of what she could do now.
She turned on the wall and looked out at Springborough, at the kingdom in turmoil. Evil skeletons were everywhere attacking the people, and the people fought back with dough spatulas, steel rods, and whatever other weapons they could find. Bony hands wrapped around throats, and fists came down on bones. Pots broke as they were thrown through the air, huts crumbled, and as Brynn watched, the great doors of the castle opened and Prince Thomas and his men held up their swords and began to fight the skeletons.
Amongst all the fighting, spirits walked about, confused as to just exactly what was happening, and what they could do about it. In reality, nothing, for anything they tried to do would just feel like a cool breeze, and only Brynn could see them. So, mainly the spirits sat and watched, like spectators. Some ghosts watched their loved ones, shouting cheers to deaf ears, and some spirits found a corner to cry in. Brynn understood the feeling of helplessness. Without her bow on the wall, she felt equally so.
“I think I should go help my brother with these skeletons,” Patrick said, matter-of-factly. “But, I think I should escort you to the castle first.”
“No worries, your majesty. I’ll stay up here until its safe.”
Patrick, with sad, tired eyes, nodded at the small necromancer, or, at least, small to him, and took the steps, five at a time, down to the ground. Immediately, he came in contact with several skeletons that he took care of with his bare hands. More skeletons, jaws open, black, charred flesh dripping from them, ran around the corner of a hut toward the giant, who simply picked up a wagon full of hay and threw it at them. They came apart, bones flying everywhere, and the wagon shattered against a hut. This was the most destructive Patrick had ever felt in his life, and he apologized to the air, where no one was listening.
Brynn, meanwhile, felt in the middle of it all, and she felt it all was the slow destruction of the Kingdom, which was only ironic because if her brother failed at persuading Fortis not to come, then it could just be that they would arrive to find nothing but carnage and dead townspeople. At the rate the skeletons were currently attacking, while people were fighting back brilliantly, it just seemed like the living numbers were not enough and eventually the people would succumb.
“Help! Help me!” A shriek sounded from a building a few blocks away. It didn’t seem like anyone could hear it, but Brynn noticed it right away over everything else. A woman’s voice, filled with absolute fear. “Please, somebody help me!”
Brynn looked in that direction, and she could tell immediately why no one else was paying attention to the screams. They were coming from a spirit in a window on the second story of a hut. The spirit shouted out, completely beside herself, forgetting that she was dead, and therefore invisible, and for all extensive purposes- mute. No one could hear the spirit but other spirits, and Brynn. But, the spirit didn’t seem to care, and continued to shout for help.
“What do you need?” Brynn shouted back, and the spirit looked at her, the necromancer on the wall, and the town being attacked below them. A sea of people wrestling with soot covered bones in constant motion. Brynn knew she had to inquire as to what exactly the spirit was scared of before she attempted to get to it.
“What is it?”
“My daughter, she’s been injured. She’s bleeding! Help!” The spirit was in hysterics, constantly looking between Brynn, someone laying on the floor inside her hut, and the skeletons attacking below.
“Put your hand on the-“ Brynn was going to say ‘wound’ and then realized herself that she was forgetting the reality. The spirit could do nothing but watch her own daughter die from her wounds. She could only call for help. And the only person who could help was Brynn.
So, Brynn left the safety of the wall, ran down the steps (not as quickly as Patrick the Giant, but, she felt, just as smoothly) and into the streets of Springborough. She told herself it was just like running through the forest, or at least, she had to keep her wits about her in the same way. In this instant, it was as if the trees were reaching out to grab her, and if they did get ahold of her, they would do anything to tear her apart.
One skeleton reached out and grabbed Brynn’s arm, and the young girl realized quickly that without skin, and muscle, and flesh, the bones of ones hand are incredibly sharp, and as she yanked her arm away from the skeleton’s grip, four slash marks ripped through her skin. They were no deeper than one would get running through the dead branches of a pine tree, but they still stung, and Brynn attempted to not be touched again.
She ducked and dodged, light and nimble on her feet, her ankles holding up to all the stopping and going, pivoting and turning. “Keep shouting!” She yelled to herself, knowing anyone around her would think she was crazy, not only for running through the streets without a weapon, but simply for seeming like she was talking to herself. “Lady! I need to hear you!” And from there, the woman’s cries for help sounded from the window, and Brynn could chart her path to the hut without looking up, without taking her eyes off all of the threats coming at her, especially because the streets were lined with broken pieces of hut, overturns carts, rotting fruit, and bones. She could only imagine that, if she allowed herself to trip over any of these items, a skeleton would be on her in moments, and she’d have a fit of a time getting the skeleton off of her before it was ripping into her.
Finally, she came upon the hut, and found a skeleton in the doorway looking about the street for anything it could attack. Brynn paused for a second, long enough to find a piece of citrus about half the size of her head, laying in the dirt. She ran for it, and just as the skull turned to see her and snarled, she kicked the fruit as hard as she could, sending the projectile right through the face of the skeletal attacker. Brynn ran past it before the body fell to the ground.
In the hut, on the second floor, was a dismal site. The dead woman was still shouting from the window as a live woman laid in the middle of a semi-bare room, a cut deep in her neck leaking a lot of blood. Brynn took a moment to collect herself in the doorway, and then ran and knelt beside the woman. She pressed her hands to the woman’s wound, feeling her fingers get slippery from the gooey blood immediately.
“What’s your name?”
The woman, pale and sweaty and breathing heavy simply looked up at Brynn, her mouth too dry to speak.
“Leeza,” the spirit behind her said.
“Leeza?” Brynn said, looking up at the spirit. When she looked back down to the woman, Leeza was looking at Brynn, confusion on her face. “Leeza, your mother is here. I need you to calm down, and breathe normally, okay? You have a pretty bad cut here, but it’s nothing that will kill you if you calm down, okay?”
Leeza, for as scared as she was, nodded. The girl was pale and sweaty. Brynn felt good she had the young woman’s trust, and so Brynn looked at her, her wavy hair resting in the puddle of blood, so Brynn couldn’t even really tell what color it was. Leeza was a couple years older than Brynn, so she wondered, with her thoughts on the wall, just what it was that Leeza was regulated to do in Springborough, a thought Brynn quickly had to put away as she couldn’t let this girl die just because she was preoccupied with her own regrets.
“Shout for a witch doctor,” Brynn told Leeza’s mother.
“No one can hear me.”
“The dead can. Shout for a witch doctor. There has to be the spirit of one in Springborough. Tell them you have me here, and I need to know what to do in order to save your daughter’s life here.”
And as the spirit turned to the window to do what Brynn asked, Leeza looked up at her, tears filling in her eyes.
“Is my mother really here?”
“Yes,” Brynn said, doing her best to stop the flow of blood. “She says she loves you.”
Leeza smiled, and Brynn felt it, felt the pang of missing her own mother, wherever she was.