Deep within an unnamed forest, within the crumbling ruins of an ancient keep, gathered the most loyal followers of the legendary necromancer, Archmage Gustav Narheel, or just Gus to his friends. Which was mostly the zombies he raised before he gained a bit of fame and tried to take over the world.
That had ended badly for poor Gus, by the way. Before his necromantic world tour had even managed to kick off, he had been killed by the legendary mercenary, Bill Wick. Most of his followers revealed themselves to be necromancer groupies at that point, and started hanging out with Edger Roost, the Lord of Undeath. He threw bitching parties, so they ignored it when his mom came downstairs and called him Eddie.
The true believers, however, those loyal to the cause of burning a path of conquest and undeath across the world, had not given up on Gus. Death was a minor thing to an Archmage trained in the ways of necromancy, and they knew he would return to reward them for their dedication.
It’d taken four long years, but finally, they had found what they had needed to usher forth the return of Gustav Narheel, the coming Undead King. It hadn’t been easy, and it certainly wasn’t what any of them had expected, but times being what they were, beggars knew enough not to be choosy.
So, they had gathered the new body their lord and master would inhabit upon his return to the land of the living, rushed away to their hidden lair, and immediately begun casting the unholy ritual that would infuse the innocent sacrifice with the wandering soul of their dread ruler.
Brandon had wanted to wait until the stars were right, but Brandon was a pussy little emo bitch, so nobody paid attention to him. Fuck you, Brandon.
As the chanting of the gathered reached a culmination, a dark light gathered in the air above the alter upon which lay their sacrifice, a flickering sphere of energy that both drank in the soft glow of the candles in the chamber, and emitted its own, strange, otherworldly brilliance. With the final words of the ritual, it descended, sinking into the one who would be the new body of Gus the necromancer.
His followers held their breath, waiting in eager anticipation for some sign the ritual had worked. Except Brandon, who was still sulking in the corner, kind of hoping the ritual had failed just so he could tell everyone he had told them so. Stop being such a dick, Brandon.
Seconds dragged out like an eternity, until at last, the eyes of their sacrifice flickered open, and looked upon the leaders of the ritual. A moment later, a wicked smile curled across the once innocent face.
“I live again!”
The gathered believers let out a sigh of relief. Brandon pouted, like the whiny sack of shit he was. Get over yourself, Brandon. Seriously.
“Why is my voice so high?”
The followers of Gustav Narheel shuffled a bit, as their leader, Dave, cleared his throat, pushed back the heavy, voluminous hood he wore, and just got on with letting Gus know what had happened while he had been away.
“Well, sir,” Dave said. “We had a little trouble finding you a new host body. Turns out, most people don’t have the spiritual core needed to be possessed by someone of your awesome power without, ya know, exploding and stuff.”
“Okay,” Gus said slowly as he sat up, and looked down. “I have boobs. Why do I have boobs?”
Dave looked out to his fellow true believers, but they were all busy looking anywhere else. Except, as usual, Brandon, who has looking smug for some reason. Probably a stupid reason. Get a life, Brandon.
“Sir, this may come as a bit of a shock, so take it slow, okay?” Dave offered.
“I’m a girl,” Gus said flatly.
“A teenage girl,” Dave sighed.
“Why?” Gus asked with a great deal of patience.
Dave cleared his throat again. “Well, sir, we searched for four years…”
“Four years?” Gus exploded. “I’ve been dead for four years? Holy shit, guys! What the actual fuck?”
“Sir, please,” Dave pleaded. “We couldn’t find anyone with a strong enough spiritual core. We looked everywhere. We had all but lost hope when we found this girl.”
“Four years, and all you can find is a teenage girl,” Gus grumbled. “What else did you have to do?”
“Ah, yeah,” Dave breezed. “Ya know, we all had to find regular jobs, some of us have mortgages, others kids. Just life stuff.”
Gus gave him a sarcastic look. “No, Dave, I don’t. I’ve been dead for four years, and when my faithful minions finally get around to resurrecting me, it’s in the body of some rando girl they picked up who knows where. I do not know life stuff.”
Dave blinked a few times. “Did you just rando?”
“Pretty sure you did.”
“Shut up, Dave.”
Gus took a deep breath, calming himself. Any body was better than where he’d been, he supposed. Turns out a vast ethereal sea of nothingness gets pretty boring after about five minutes. He had saved his own sanity by imagining himself playing solitaire. He always won, too, because he was awesome.
“Okay, so, I’m a girl now. Doesn’t matter, so long as my power remains intact. I can totes deal.”
Dave pursed his lips. “Totes?”
“Dave, I swear to the Fates.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir.”
“You were explaining how this happened.”
“Right,” Dave said with a quick nod, happy to change the subject. “We searched for years for a body with a strong spiritual core, one capable of housing all the power you had amassed in your many years of becoming the most feared necromancer to ever live.”
“Ya huh,” Gus said, looking around the room as he twirled his hair around one finger.
Dave decided to press on. “Finally, we found what we needed, in this girl. Her spiritual core is the most powerful we’ve ever seen. Apparently, she drinks something called chai lattes, and does yoga. We aren’t sure if that has anything to do with it or not, but she was the perfect vessel for you staggering power. So, we kidnapped her and jammed you in there.”
Gus nodded slowly. “Jammed me in here? Really, Dave?”
“You were looking bored, sir. Figured I’d get to the point.”
Gus considered that for a moment, then nodded. “I guess that works. So, who found the girl?”
Dave knew he had, but wasn’t sure how Gus would react, so he threw Brandon under the bus. “Brandon did, sir.”
“Brandon,” Gus called, waving to him. “I never liked you. Fuck off.”
Brandon had time to look startled before a dark cloud of necromantic energy surrounded him, corroding his flesh slowly, painfully, into dust. His skeleton remained however, now animated by the will of Gus, a mindless creature who knew only how to obey.
Serves you right, Brandon. Douche.
“Looks like you made the right call,” Gus said. “My power remains fully intact. Nice job, Dave.”
“Thank you, sir,” Dave relied. “Always a pleasure to serve you.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Gus waved as he hopped off the alter and looked around the room. “So, where are the rest of my faithful minions?”
Dave scooted back a step. “This is it, sir.”
Gus smiled and nodded for a minute as he scanned the gathering of fifteen people. “What the fuck, Dave?”
“Where are the rest of my faithful minions?”
“Over at Edger Roost’s mom’s basement.”
“Four years is a long time, sir.”
“No shit, Dave? Really? Thanks for pointing out the obvi.”
Dave lifted a finger, then let it drop, deciding not to point out the oddness of Gus’s speech again.
“So, what? They lost faith, or something?”
“Not exactly, sir.”
Gus stared at Dave for a moment in expectation. Dave shuffled his feet a bit. Gus spread his hands slowly, giving Dave a sarcastic look of intense expectation.
“Turns out they were groupies, sir.”
“Groupies, sir,” Dave said again. “Necromancer groupies.”
Gus blinked several times as he, or rather she, tried to process that. “I had groupies?”
“O. M. G. Why didn’t anyone tell me this?”
“Uhhh… because we didn’t know until they were gone?”
“I guess that’s a good enough reason.”
“Happy to hear that, sir.”
“Do I look like your daddy?”
“Um… no, sir?”
“Then stop calling me sir.”
Gus closed his eyes and counted to ten. Dave looked chagrined. Everyone else was busy tripping skeleton Brandon as he wandered around the room aimlessly.
“Okay, so,” Gus finally said. “I’m back. I’ve got fewer loyal minions, but my power is intact. I’m in the body of a teenage girl, but at least I’m alive. Mixed bag, but overall, good news, I’d say. Well done, Dave. You are a good and faithful servant. This will be remembered when I rule the world.”
“I am humbled, ma’am.”
“What the fuck, Dave?”
“You are so loosing points here, Dave.”
“I’m sorry, sir… uh… I mean… milady?”
Gus sighed heavily, rolling his… her… their… eyes. “I guess that’ll do.”
Dave put his hand to his chest and tried not to look too relieved. Gus was already past that. Zack had stolen skeleton Brandon’s arm and was using it to play keep away with Thad.
“Dave, I do have one last question.”
“Why do I feel this need for water?”
Dave struggled to find an answer to that. “I… don’t know?”
“Not regular water, either,” Gus continued, wandering around the dais the alter sat upon. “Regular water is so last year, am I right?”
Gus paused, a hand resting on his hip, which he… uh… she had cocked out to the side. “Dave. Just how strong was this girls spiritual core?”
“Ah… well… Brandon said it was the most powerful one he’d ever seen.”
“That doesn’t tell me anything.”
Dave chewed his lip for a moment. “It would be rated a twelve on the akashic charts, sir… I mean, milady.”
“A twelve?” Gus exploded with a mix of irritation, boredom, and sarcasm. “Dave, mine was only a ten! This girls spiritual core is influencing my own!”
“Yeah, we were kind worried that might happen,” Dave admitted.
Gus waved her hands in the air. “Anything else you want to tell me, Dave?”
“Pretty sure she’s a virgin,.”
Gus stammered for a minute, took a deep breath, found his happy place, which she was surprised to find, was full of kittens. “Not what I was asking about, but thanks for that.”
“Right,” Dave backtracked quickly.
“What kind of a person was she? Where was she from? That sort of thing. So I can prepare myself mentally for the emotional conflux.”
“Being a girl kinda sucks, huh?” Dave asked.
“Don’t be sexist, Dave.”
“I meant, as our two spiritual cores merge, there will be an emotional battle. One of us will become dominant. I need to know what to prepare for. So, tell me about her.”
“Oh,” Dave said, getting it, sort of, but not really. “Well, she’s from the city of Tanisear…”
“Huh? Oh. Uh… the Riger District.”
“Sweet. Uptown biatch. I dig it.”
“Right,” Dave said slowly. “Her father was a very wealthy merchant baron, so we may be able to use that to our advantage. Apparently, he was fairly doting.”
“Trust fund girl,” Gus mused. “Very nice.”
Dave struggled with that for a moment, but carried on as valiantly as he could. “From what I understand, her name was Chastity, as well.”
Gus made a disgusted face. “Chastity? Seriously? Why not just train her to be a stripper, dad. Fuck.”
Dave struggled with that a lot longer.
“Alright, well, I’m a teenage girl, with a smoking bod, centuries of necromantic power at my disposal, and a select handful of devoted minions at my command. And I’m possibly rich. I guess this isn’t so bad. At least my tits are bouncy.”
Dave watched Gus jiggle for a a bit. He wasn’t really sure what to say, so he just stood there, trying not to stare, but still, staring. It was kind of creepy.
“Oh, right,” Gus said suddenly. “You did kill that asshole that chopped my head off, right? What was his name?”
“Bill Wick, s… milady?”
“Yeah, him,” Gus nodded. “Total troll with the face, but clearly, a skilled warrior. I’ll rest easier knowing he’s dead.”
“Actually,” Dave started.
“Seriously, Dave? I mean, for real?”
“We did send our best to dispatch him, milady,” Dave assured. “However, in the years you have been gone, Bill Wick has become rather famous.”
“For killing me?”
“Not really, no,” Dave admitted. “For killing a lot of things.”
“Dave, what could possibly be a bigger claim to fame than me?”
Gus digested that for a minute. “Okay, so, not a guy you kill with some dudes you trained in the back yard. Got it. We’ll deal with him later, once I have fully infiltrated Chastity here.”
“Of course, midday.”
“Okay, so, I need a bath,” Gus declared. “Getting my soul stuffed into a girls body makes me feel sweaty, and I don’t like feeling sweaty. Then, to reward everyone for their loyalty, get them some kittens. Also, I’ll want to know what the latest fashion is. Okay, Dave? Be a pumpkin and get on that for me, would you. K’, bye.”
Dave watched Gus sashay away, then got on all that, like a good minion. He even made Zack and Thad stop messing with skeleton Brandon to aid him. Skeleton Brandon was distantly grateful, but nobody cared, cause Brandon was a pussy little emo skeleton.
Fucking Brandon, man. Dick.
Two weeks passed as Gus struggled to gain control over the spiritual core of Chastity. During that time, a lot of things changed around the old keep. It got a fresh coat of paint to make it less dreary, which according to Gus, was a total bummer. Furniture was brought in, including a replacement throne for Gus. The black iron one he had previously used now made him feel grouchy, so she replaced it with one covered in gold leaf, with plush satin cushions.
Where Gus had once worn black robes, she now found she preferred things that showed a bit of skin. By which, apparently, she meant most of it. Her minions didn’t seem to mind, except Sheila, but that was only because she had gained a lot weight in the last four years, and had some self esteem issues anyway. This was offset by the fact Gus now seemed to like her more, and they had a lot of girl talk time. So, mixed bag for Sheila.
The biggest change in the keep, however, was all the kittens. Gus had discovered a fondness for them, and always had several running around. Apparently, this helped him, or rather, her, or whatever, keep her aura clean, or something. Dave had quickly figured out it was best to not ask too many questions. Answers usually came with heavy sighs of annoyance, or occasionally, screams as Gus stormed out and locked herself in her room.
Dave figured it best to not tell Gus he was losing the battle for the spiritual core. There was no telling what she might do. Mostly, he was afraid she might cry. He hated it when she cried. It was weird, off putting, and yet, somehow made him feel like a jerk for not being able to make her stop.
It was a little like being at home, with his wife, and five daughters. Dave was beginning to rethink his career choices.
Unfortunately, he didn’t get much of a chance, when the front door of the keep exploded inward, allowing Bill Wick to storm the throne hall of Gus the Super Hot Necromancer.
Her choice, not Dave’s.
“Oh, shit,” Dave muttered.
“Narheel,” Bill bellowed. “I know what you’re doing, and I’ve come to stop you!”
“Again!” the Elf Druid at his side chimed.
Bill’s expression was a testament to the concept of patience as he added, “Again.”
“Mr. Wick, we meet again,” Gus called from her throne, as she stood, making sure her boobs were as high as possible.
Bill stared at her for a full minute in obvious confusion, before saying the only thing he could think of. “What?”
“I said, we meet again,” Gus declared a second time.
“Hmm….” Bill fumbled.
“Who’s she?” Kris asked, jabbing a finger at Gus. “And why does she know you?” She jabbed her other finger at Bill, got confused which hand should be pointing where, and changed them.
“I really don’t know,” Bill said.
“I am Gustav Narheel, the most feared, but hottest, necromancer the world has ever known,” Gus shot back, stomping a foot.
“Right,” Bill drawled out slowly.
“A girl named Gus,” Kris giggled. “Wait, I think I heard a song like that once. Or was it a boy named Sue?”
Bill took a moment to stare at Kris, her rambling making him feel even more confused. Seeing he was looking at her, Kris smiled, batted her eyes, and struck a pose. Bill didn’t seem any less confused by that.
“Skank,” Gus muttered.
Kris’ smile faded slightly. “Did you just call me a skunk?”
“No, I called you a skank,” Gus snickered with an air of superiority. “What was with that pose? Fates save us, you looked like a ten year old trying to seduce a grown man.”
“I dunno who she is, but I’m gonna blow her up now, okay, Bill?” Kris snarled.
“Wait,” Bill said, dropping a hand to her shoulder. “Something isn’t right here. I’d like to figure out what first.”
“Party pooper,” Kris pouted.
“You, there,” Bill called. “Who is this girl?”
Dave pointed at himself, and when Bill nodded, stepped forward, clearing his throat, a nervous trait he seemed to have picked up lately. “Yes, well, um, you see, this actually is Gustav Narheel.”
Bill glanced from Dave to Gus, who was also starting to pout. “Seriously? This little girl is Gustav Narheel?”
“Yeah,” Dave sighed.
“Little girl?” Gustav shrieked. “I’m a grown woman, you troll faced moron!”
“From here, you look like you just raided your mother’s naughty closet,” Bill snorted. “And who taught you to wear makeup? Damn, it ain’t suppose to go on with a trowel, you know?”
Gus shrieked again. “What do you know?”
“Yeah, Bill, what do you know?” Kris asked, giving Bill a considerable amount of side eye.
“My mom was a prostitute, remember?” Bill told her.
“Oh, right,” Kris said, eyes lighting up for a moment, before her expression changed to one of confusion. “I don’t get it.”
“I’ll explain it later,” Bill said, patting her on the head.
Kris beamed and did a little spin.
On the dais, Gus crossed her arms, hoping it pushed her boobs up higher. “The son of a whore. Guess that explains why you don’t know beauty when you see it.”
Bill shrugged. “Don’t care is more like it. If Gustav Narheel really has possessed that body, then I guess I’ll just have to chop his head off again. Pretty don’t really matter when your dead, now does it?”
“Pretty is all that matters,” Gus screamed. “O.M.G! You just don’t get it! Dave, deal with him! I need a minute!”
“Uhhh… what?” Dave stammered as Gus stormed away to her room. The sound of the door slamming always made her feel slightly better.
Bill stared after her, trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. A lot of things took place after that, but just what they were depended entirely on who you asked.
“So, uh,” Bill stumbled. “That’s really Gustav, then?”
Dave shrugged. “Mostly. It’s kind of complicated.”
“I can do complicated,” Bill replied with a mild look of annoyance.
Dave looked chagrined, another trait he had developed of late. “Well, the girls’ spiritual core appears to have overwhelmed Gustav’s, so the attitudes, thoughts, ideas, and personality she had have influenced his.”
“Hmm…” Bill considered. “So, what your saying is that this person is a fusion of the two spirits inhabiting the body. All the power of a necromancer Archmage, with the mindset of a pampered teenage girl, right?”
“Pretty much,” Dave said, looking somewhat impressed.
Beside Bill, Kris was dancing the Bunny Hop. Dave decided to ignore that. Bill did, too.
“Dave, wasn’t it?” Bill asked a moment later.
“Oh, uh, yeah.”
“You’ve been serving Gustav for a long time, haven’t you?”
Dave fiddled with his fingers. “I suppose so, yeah.”
Bill nodded. “I remember you from last time. You put up quite the fight. I remember being impressed.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t go that far,” Dave laughed nervously.
“No, but I would,” Bill assured him. “What have you been up to the last few years, anyway?”
“Ah, well, mostly searching for a way to bring back Gustav,” Dave said. “But I’ve also got a job working retail over in Gantry City.”
“Retails nice,” Bill said with approval.
“My wife thinks so,” Dave nodded.
“Twenty years last month,” Dave said with a smile. “Got five kids, all girls.”
“Good for you, man,” Bill said, patting his shoulder. “You should really be doing for them instead of her, though.”
“Yeah, I know,” Dave agreed. “But, well, Gustav didn’t have anybody who cared about him, you know? He’s not such a bad guy, really. Not once you get to know him. I mean, sure he wants to take over the world, and raise an army of zombies, and stuff like that, but he’s really good to his friends.”
“I get that,” Bill said, watching Kris chase some of the kittens around the room. “Still, I’ve got to either kill him, or take him in. You know that, right?”
Dave sighed heavily. “I know. It’s probably best for him, or her, or whatever, as well. I think he just wants to be respected, so maybe if she got some therapy or something, she’d turn out to be okay, you know?”
“I can see what I can do,” Bill shrugged. “But I make no promises.”
Dave nodded, looking sad as he gazed after the direction Gus had gone. “I know. Just, try not to be too hard on her. She’s had a rough time, and only just discovered her period last week.”
“Dave!” Gus shrieked as she returned. “Don’t tell everybody! Holy shit!”
“Sorry!” Dave yelped. “It’s just, he’s really understanding, and maybe, if you just calm down and listen to him, he can help you.”
“I’d like to try,” Bill offered.
Gus stomped a foot, and started to cry. “I’m a powerful necromancer! I can raise tons of zombies and stuff! I don’t need any help!”
“I think you do,” Bill said, walking over to give her a kind smile.
Gus sank down onto the edge of the dais and cried. “Why won’t anybody respect me!”
“Ka-Boom!” Kris bellowed.
Bill patted Gus on the head. No violence was needed that day.
The young woman with the scary make up screamed and stormed away. Kris didn’t really care. She was more interested in all the kittens running around. For some reason, people in heavy robes, with thick and voluminous hoods, kept getting between her and the kittens.
She didn’t like that, so she turned them all into bunnies. They seemed happy about that, and started to sing a song. Kris thought it was a funny song, though she didn’t really understand the words, since they were singing in rabbit. Still, she danced with them for a minute.
The bunnies started doing the waltz, though, and Kris didn’t like that dance, so she played with the kittens for a bit. The bunnies got jealous, and started singing really loud. This one was in woodchuck, for some reason, a language she did speak. It was a very dirty song, so Kris blew them all up.
Bill didn’t seem to mind.
After storming out of the throne room, Gus sat on her bed, drawing comfort from the kitten themed blanker that covered it. She waited exactly eight and a half minutes before getting up, smoothing the silk outfit that dared to dream of being made of enough material to call itself a dress, and headed back to the throne room, certain Bill Wick would feel terrible for making her feel bad.
When she returned, Bill was sitting on the edge of the dais, his druid companion running around the room like an idiot. A really not very pretty idiot. As soon as Gus returned, Bill looked up at her with tears in his eyes.
“I am so sorry I hurt you,” he whispered. “I just didn’t know how to react to seeing someone so beautiful, and with such perfect breasts.”
Gus deigned to forgive him a little. “Of course not. Just don’t let it happen again.”
“Of course not,” Bill said, turning to take a single knee. “I want to dedicate my life to making you happy.”
“Who doesn’t?” Gus scoffed.
“No, I mean, I want to marry you,” Bill declared. “Please, have such an unworthy man as me.”
Gus was taken aback by this. While Bill certainly wasn’t the sort of good looking man she would normally allow near her, she had to admit, he wasn’t as ugly as she had first thought.
“I don’t know. This is all so sudden.”
Bill stood, casting aside his armor, allowing the button up shirt he wore beneath to ripple open, baring his muscular chest. He tossed aside his helmet as well, and shook out the flowing man of hair it had hidden.
“Come away with me,” he said, holding her close.
“What about her,” she asked, pointing at Kris.
“She means nothing to me anymore,” Bill assured her, and with a wave of his hand, turned the ugly little Elf into a unicorn.
Bill gathered Gus in his arms, climbed about the unicorn, and carried her away across a rainbow. It was bliss.
What Really Happened
Bill chewed the inside of his cheek for a minute after Gus stormed out, then looked at Dave. Dave tried to smile. Bill punched him in the face.
Kris threw a fireball at the rest of Gus’s loyal, but only really hit Brandon, to his great joy. Nobody cared. They were too busy fleeing the druid as she chased after them, turning them into random animals.
Gus returned to pandemonium, and shrieked at the perfect volume to get what she wanted.
Bill punched her in the face, too.
A week later, Gus was securely in a home for troubled necromancers.
Bill felt pretty good about that.
Kris had stolen a kitten.
Life was normal.
©-2017 Cain S. Latrani
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
No bunnies were scorched in the writing of this short story.