My first attempt at writing. Would love feedback.
Djron sat staring at the remains of his dinner. Thinking, weighing his options. It WAS his last meal,one way or the other. All his life he found it a laughable concept, feeding a prisoner whatever he wished before his death. But now, faced with his death, he was grateful. The old cook was as good as he wished, or perhaps the impending doom clouded his judgement or perhaps it was because he had been living on porridge and broth for over a month. He had asked for the rose and pepper stew the city was so famous for, for fresh bread and cheese, a bottle of wine and leg of mutton. The mutton lay in the corner, even at death Djorn couldn’t eat meat. Not when he dealt with corpses all his life. But he needed the bones. It took all his resolve to not drink the wine however. That and the conflict within himself. His master would say it was no choice at all. “Necromancers don’t die easy”, Qorin was fond of saying. His master had survived a 300 foot fall from a cliff, a Moonbear mauling, and three beheadings. Poisons, knifes and bullets were nothing to him, he would laugh at people wielding guns at him. He did not survive his encounter with old Order however. Their silvered wolves had torn Qorin to pieces, there was no coming back from that. That was almost five years ago. Djorn was ready to die that day, penultimate step of becoming a necromancer, the last one - being coming back. The Order of the silver Owl had caught their scent however, the hunters of the undead, the finest knights of Nightfist who took an eternal oath to guard the world against the undead. Some say they WERE the first necromancers, others say they were the noblest among those who fought in the Great War against the undead. Whatever maybe the reason, every man or woman born at the Nightfist was raised to accept that fighting the undead was their divine duty and they had, for almost a hundred generations. Today there were a dozen families, and around five thousand warriors in the Order of the Silver Owl all well trained from the time they could walk to be terminators of the undead. Most of them kept to the Deadswamps, where the undead were pushed back and sealed up during the Great War. Nightfist set at the gates to guard them for all eternity. But a few roamed the world to track and hunt necromancers, the odd rouge shades and zombies. Djorn never choose to be a necromancer. He was found by Qorin as a boy, dying of a fever on the roads of Whitesands. He had bought him home, fed him soup given him warm fur and nursed him back to health. That was when Djorn was still half a baby. He hardly remembered anything before Qorin found him other than his mother calling his name and him being separated from her when chasing a cat in the market. Djorn had wandered the streets for weeks crying and begging strangers for food and asking for his mother, people gave him what food they could but were reluctant to help him find his mother. Then came the rain, Djorn had no shelter and had gotten soaked and caught a fever. He was curled up on the side of the market street too tired to walk, still crying for his mother. The memory bought tears to his eyes, perhaps his life would have been different if he hadn’t left his mother. Or perhaps not. Like Qorin always said, “The road you take you does not matter. You always end up where you were destined to”. It was times like this he missed the old man. He had taken good care of him, and thought him all he had ever known of necromancy. It was common knowledge that Necromancers can feel no emotion, but as a kid Djorn suspected Qorin must have felt something. Why else bring a dying boy nurse him back to health and raise him as his own son? He learnt later that it was due to his magical potential. Djorn was a natural mage. He could harness the arcane energy as easily as breathing, but most magic he knew was of the dead. Qorin had said Djorn would make a necromancer several times more powerful than even his own master, the legendary Grey Lich. Who had united a dozen necromancers and amassed an army of thousands of undead. Zombies, dead animals and atleast a hundred of the Corpse-Golems, horrors made from mismatched parts stitched together. The Grey lich was formidable and ruled over an entire forest. For a year. Until the Order carved through their army like cake and burned the Grey lich along with all the others.After cutting them into a million pieces of course. Djorn’s time was fast approaching. It was only a few hours to sundown, his execution. No one suspected him of necromancy, after Qorin’s final death he had joined the Iron Turtle Company’s infantry. He wasn’t half bad with an axe and was pretty quick on the draw. With his own revolver and long axe, he was accepted readily into the company. He had assumed it would be just patrols and guard duty in this peacetime, but the bandits had grown numerous under the new boy king and the company was in constant battle. He could have joined the mage unit, even the lowest ranking mage outranked a captain, but that would have drawn questions about his master, and necromancers were unwelcome even in mercenary companies. He had kept at his art though, his rune ink needed only wine to become potent and bones were always plenty on a battlefield to cast runes. He only had to die to become a true Necromancer. To command the dead you had to one of them. He had grown into his role of merc in those five years, made several friends. Bucktooth Bonny with her six black revolvers chief among them. She never fought had to hand, choosing to shoot even at close range. “Blood on the knife will make it difficult to shave my legs” she had said with a wink the first time he had asked her. Her lover Bron was a good guy for a Mage. Not a battle mage however, he was on ammo duty. Djorn could have powered his own, but refrained from doing so to avoid suspicion nor did he show off the special mage modified abilities of his own gun. He switched to the old but sturdy pair he got off a bandit raid the first chance he had. Djorn missed laughing with his friends, his bunk in the barracks, the camps when they were out in the fields. Qorin might have taken good care of him, but it was usually just them and they were constantly on the move. Folk may seek out a necromancer to commune with a long dead loved one or some shopkeepers for some rare ingredients only necromancers had the means of obtaining. The longest they had stayed was for a year on a farm. The grey pox had claimed most of the workers and the rest had run off with the valuables when the Farmer fell sick, leaving only his two children to take care of him. The farmer had recovered however, but was left with no workers and no money to pay for new workers. He was talking of selling the farm altogether, when Qorin overheard him. The farmer threatened to inform the Order when he first head the proposition, but eventually agreed. Qorin rigged a dozen zombies to work the farm. The undead are tireless workers, and need no food or rest. When the dead worked, Qorin looked over them and Djorn helped the farmer’s children Wuld and Wanda with chores not suitable for the dead. Wanda was his first love, and Djorn hers. Wuld thought him all about the workings of a farm. After the harvest the produce was dozen times more than what was usually yielded. The farmer was so impressed that he asked us to stay on for another year and offered to pay us half the produce instead of the agreed upon quarter. But Qorin refused saying only that necromancers are not to be tied down. Wanda had cried, but they had moved on anyways. He longed to see Wanda again. To see her smile, to feel her lips on his. He wondered if she had got to follow her dream of captaining her own ship on the high seas. He missed her the most, not for the nights, most girls he had in his time in the Iron turtle were prettier and he had enjoyed the one guilty night with Bonny more. But it was her dreams, her ambition and her confidence that she will one day sail the seas that made him fall in love with her. He wondered if he would still feel that way after his death. Probably not, the dead do not love. He took the small capsule of mage ink he had kept safe when he was arrested and emptied it into the wine. He should have gone back to the farm. He had two chances, when Qorin had died and when he had run from the company. If only the leader of the bandits hadn’t fled. The Iron turtles were commissioned by the state of Yazter to root out the bandit gang terrorizing half of its villages. Yazter had countless hills and valleys and thick forests where they liked to hide away. For three years the company was under the employ of Yazter, thinning out the bandits. Until finally they caught the leader Vera in an ambush. But no one knew she was a mage in secret, and was able to surprise the ambush and escape. Her inner circle, what was left of them, fleeing with her. After that the state no longer needed the Mercs. There were rumors about the company joining Prince Ulfrik’s (the little King’s cousin) Demon hunt across the ocean alongside the Crimson Avengers and Ulfrik’s own chosen warriors. Although it wasn’t a popular thought, Djorn himself did not fear the demons, once you got past their fearsome looks and learned to anticipate their abilities they were easy to kill. Automatons were harder to kill, but they lacked cunning. It is said that during the time of Hive the automatons were formidable. But in this day they were mostly statues going on a rampage when activated by mistake. Demons, automatons or more bandits, Djorn would have stayed. But when Yennifer Nova of the Nightfist herself came to seek the Iron Turtles for a mission into the Deadswamps, Djorn ran. The Order could sniff out necromancers like bloodhounds. He decided to seek Wanda then. He took all that belonged to him and got on the train to Newport. He had enough to buy a horse in Newport. The Farm was a week’s ride from the docks. All would have been better if only he had reached Newport that day. Why did he ever get down at Djornstown? Was it because it had his name? Did he need to stretch his legs? He never could remember. What happened next was ever a blur. His bag being stolen. Him running after the thief - Finally using telekinesis to trip him - Handing him over to the Sheriff. All the running around meant he missed his train. He found the town’s biggest saloon the Rusty nail. Smiling at the name he entered and claimed a booth for himself. He pushed his bag against the corner and called down for their biggest mug of beer. That was where One eye Eitri found him “We don’t get lota mages here, where you heading?” Djorn recognized him as the guy who saw him trip the thief and had smiled at him like a maniac. Djorn just looked at him. “I am just a curious fellow is all” Eitri had sat himself in his booth and called for a beer himself. Whatever Eitri was not, he was a talker. He tried to weed out Djorn’s story but never got anything. Then the talk turned to women and Djorn found himself talking about Wanda. To this day Djorn could never decide how it was Eitri did it, but somehow he had planted dreams of his marriage to Wanda and a peaceful life and convinced him to help with a job to make enough money for it. The job was a bank in Newport. Eitri had enough men but the bank had commissioned magical rune locks, and he needed a mage to unlock them. Djorn wanted to walkaway but somehow the image of Wanda waiting for him was etched on his brain. They robbed the bank as smoothly as planned, but maybe Djron had grown too trusting in the Company. When he woke the next day, Eitri and half the gang were gone and the rest of them were surrounded by the Newport guard. Turns out Eitri’s gang was notorious around the parts. With several robberies and a body count to their name. All of them caught were tried as members of a bandit gang and scheduled for execution. Djorn was surprised they weren’t looking for a mage though, given the runelocks and how none at the saloon had recognized a notorious bandit. Whatever it was, he will have to work it out later along with so many things. He heard the Jailor coming down the steps. He cast the rune words on the bone. Thinking of Wanda and Bonny and all his friends. And Qorin, him most of all. “I am finally accepting my destiny Qorin”. He let his magic flow into the bone and Djorn was finally ready to die.