"I did it."
Hubert stared at Dan. His friend. Dan sipped slowly on the cold glass of water that he had been given, not because he was thirsty any more, but because it allowed him to drop his gaze and focus his eyes on something other that Huu. Hubert sighed.
In truth he had long suspected it. Something about Dan's manner had always troubled him; the enthusiasm for the necromancy, the talk of raising armies and robbing banks. Dan had never seen the problems with being a magician working with dark forces to raise the dead - he just saw opportunity.
And he had taken that opportunity with Jenson.
"You did it." Hubert's tone was that of a question, but really it was a statement. A confirmation between the two of them to show that he understood what had happened.
Dan nodded, still avoiding looking at him properly.
"You cleaned up the dust. The Jenson-dust. I just assumed you'd got rid of it, but you took it home and you fucking remade him?!" The last three words became an angry shout. Far from his usual calm demeanor, Hubert now radiated fury.
"Yes, I fucking remade him!" Dan shouted back. "You think you are so fucking special. You think that just because you did it first with your little zombie, that you're the king necromancer? Well, I tell you what Huu, it's bullshit. You lucked out. You didn't have a fucking clue what you were doing and you lucked out.
"Seriously," he continued, his voice lowering to a more normal level, "you just did what? Relied on some half-remembered memories of playing games? That doesn't make you a bloody wizard. The fact that you managed to raise your mum from the dead is insane. It's mental. It's like someone who watches a few series of Doctor Who building a time machine from some planks and a bit of blue paint.
"So I wanted to know more. I wanted to see what it was that you had done that made it work. And I watched you, and I listened, and I learned. Anyone can do this shit, Huu. You're not special, you're just some bloke that came across the right sequence of gestures and sayings and materials in the right order. Don't get me wrong - by itself that's still quite the achievement, but it was luck. You didn't work for this power, you got lucky.
"And Jenson? Jenson was fucking excellent. Not a boring skeleton or some grumbling zombie. Jenson was proper scary, and when he started to show a little promise, you got all moralistic and killed him.
"So yeah, I brought him back. I wanted control of something like that. I wanted that power."
"Only you didn't get control, did you," Huu said quietly, tears wetting his face. "You couldn't tell Jenson what to do and now he's out there, killing people, destroying stuff. Coming after us."
"No," Dan admitted, "I couldn't keep control of him. He's like a force that sucks you dry. Even now I can still feel him. It's distant; muted, but it's there. And it's not like it should be - it's not a thread of the necromantic field which ties him to me. It ties me to him. There you stand, lording your moralistic view over me. Fuck you, Huu, you have no idea."
"I think I do."
It was out of control. Now it was Hubert's turn to avoid meeting the other's eyes. It had all gone too far, just as he feared it would. All the reasons he had thought for undoing Jenson in the first place were back. Partly, he felt vindicated; trying to rid the world of the wraith had been the right idea, but mostly he felt ashamed.
It had been selfish. The whole necromancer path had come from a childish dream of power and glory or a panicked reaction to grief. He couldn't tell and it didn't really matter.
"Can you kill Jenson?" he asked. "Do you have the power to stop him?"
"No," Dan shook his head. "I'd shit my pants if I even saw him. You have no idea."
"I have some."
"Whatever. You want Jenson gone, you do it yourself."
"I already fucking did!" The rage was back. Hubert looked at Dan in disgust. There was no sign of responsibility in the man's face, not even any real regret. He was defiant. It was pathetic.
"You want me to take on all the responsibility?" he voiced his thought.
"It's your mess, Huu. You can try to blame me for it, but the truth is it's your mess. You dicking around raising your mummy because poor little Hubert can't live without her. It's fucking sick. So yes, you can take on the responsibility. I'm leaving."
"No," Hubert said quietly, "you're not."
Hubert paused. His decision had already been made in his mind, but actually accepting it was hard. He pulled himself away from the emotional connections, and looked at the numbers. Treat it like a game, he told himself, make the best tactical move.
So many people had already died. His mum and Jenson, of course, but those kids who were Jenson's first victims, and then the other wraiths. The death toll was going to grow before this was done - no doubt Jenson was already working on a new cadre of merciless minions.
The numbers made the decision clear. Executing it was nothing more than a thought.
Make sure there's nothing left. Nothing at all. No spark of soul, no remnant that Jenson can use against us. He needs to be completely gone. Can you do that?
Ursula answered immediately. I can.
Do it then. Huu sent to her.
He looked one more time at Dan, recalling that moment when he had asked if he could trust him. He'd been lied to that day, and he'd been naive enough to believe it.
He turned away and left the room as Ursula drifted elegantly to stand before them.
"Goodbye, Dan," he said quietly.
He closed his mind to the man's short-lived screaming.
YOU ARE READING
A Very English NecromancerFantasy
** Wattys 2018 Winner! The Wild Cards! ** Living in his mother's house, thirty-four year-old Hubert Grange has aspirations - beyond simply becoming the best FPS zombie assassin, watching everything Netflix has to offer, or completing an all-foil Sli...