“How do all you necromancers avoid running into each other?” asked Cyril as they walked.
Inu frowned. “What do you mean?”
“Well, if all of you roam as much as you do, and you are all carrying ghosts that might not see eye to eye, how to you avoid confrontation?”
Inu stared, wide eyed and pursed lipped. “Is that what you think necromancers do?”
Cyril turned red. “They do! You’re a necromancer and that’s what you do,” he said, trying to mask his embarrassment with anger.
Inu laughed, a little louder than was polite; Cyril felt stupid enough without Inu outright laughing at him.
“Ah,” Inu wiped a tear away, catching his breath, “stars, you’ve had a sheltered life.”
Cyril crossed his arms against Inu’s derision. “That’s what everyone thinks,” he muttered sourly. “It’s not just me.”
“Hah.” Inu untangled the ends of his hair. “To answer your question: no, we don’t run into each other. Especially since I am the only nomadic necromancer I know of. Most necromancers live in tall towers, sometimes in the wilderness, but usually on the edges of big cities. They make a living by selling their services to nobility.”
Deep lines formed in Cyril’s forehead; part of it was shock at how wrong he was about necromancers and part of it was the fear that he was the apprentice of a superstitious bumpkin rather than a qualified necromancer. He wanted to demand why Inu was having them tromp through the countryside when it wasn’t even an orthodox method of training. He wanted to demand to know what Inu was playing at, wasting both of their time. He wanted to say that his father would be displeased at how he was wasting his money. But he didn’t say any of that. The only thing that made it out of his mouth was:
Inu watched Cyril, waiting for him to finish, but all words had already fallen out of Cyril’s ears. It was well enough, however. They both knew what Cyril was trying to ask.
Inu smiled thinly and pushed his hair over his shoulder. “Why am I not living in a tower, wearing velvet, purple robes, and serving as an important member of nobility?”
“Well, it’s very simple: I think that kind of life is immoral, wasteful, and rather silly.”
Cyril didn’t think it was silly to have a warm house or a steady and respectable job. He would give anything to have such a position; he didn’t have to be king: just the brother of the queen would be fine for him. But Inu had voluntarily been living like this. Inu was the only necromancer the Montomogen Moors had ever seen, and as such, they thought necromancers were wild, black-eyed demons wearing the flesh of men; no souls, no morals, and only barely human. Who knew necromancers could be found in other kingdoms next to blacksmiths and shepherds? Inu was giving necromancers a bad name, clearly.
Inu looked ahead and sighed. “To be a necromancer, you have to give up some of the morals that non-necromancing folk hold on to. It’s not really a requirement; it’s just that when you grow up talking to the dead, seeing ghosts and spirits and demons, you grow up with a more complicated view of the world, which makes your opinions of it different than those who do not. Do you understand?”
“That’s where it begins. Necromancers are separated from normal society from the moment they start seeing spirits. Because of this, necromancers have developed their own code of conduct that, in my opinion, has spun out of control. There are many in the necromancing world that believe morals don’t exist and that they can do whatever they want. They believe that ghosts and spirits are resources and can be treated in whatever way is beneficial. They’ve created all sorts of summoning and binding spells, controlling and using the bodiless to do their bidding, as if they’re not living creatures.” Inu scoffed. “My master was one such necromancer. You can’t really judge her too harshly—she was a product of her time as are you and I. She was power hungry. She had no respect for the disbodied. She drew pentagram after pentagram, as carelessly as if she were sweeping the kitchen. She had fifteen demons enslaved when I left.”
“You can enslave demons?” Cyril asked, mouth agape. Inu yanked one of his pigtails.
“Don’t go getting ideas. Messing with demons hurts everyone involved,” Inu warned. “Even lower level ones like imps. Don’t even go there.”
Cyril was a little disappointed. “Got it.”
“Anyway, long story short, I left. I’ve been trying ever since to use my talent to do good, to be helpful, rather than propagate a corrupt system.”
“And that’s when you started absorbing ghosts?” asked Cyril.
Inu chewed his lip. “Well, sort of. I absorbed my first ghost as a way to smuggle her out of my master’s tower. She had a strong spiritual barrier and without a physical body, the ghost wouldn’t have stood a chance.”
“Could you teach me how to absorb ghosts?”
“In time, apprentice,” Inu smiled knowingly. “It can be dangerous if you’re not skilled enough. Stars, it’s dangerous even when you are skilled enough. But we’ll learn that, if you want to. Don’t worry.”
Cyril groaned to himself. “In time, when you’re ready” was Inu’s favorite answer to give, no matter what Cyril asked him. It was his way of saying, “Maybe, but don’t count on it.”
A/N: “Inu, when are you going to teach me how to draw summoning circles?” “In time, when you’re ready.” “Inu, when is lunch going to be ready?” “In time, when you’re ready.” “…I’ve been ready for a while now.”
Meet Necromancer Garnet, Inu’s master until he skipped out on her. She’s old, very skilled, very powerful, wealthy, and respected in the high circles of necromancers and the royalty that employ them. She isn’t needlessly cruel as far as necromancers go, but she has spent a long time purging her morals to extinction and she will do whatever it takes to get what she wants. These days, what she wants most is to find a way–any way–to cheat death.
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