Tag Archives: The Necromancer's Apprentice

The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 4

A Small Murder of Crows

I came to with a splitting headache.  The skull was still intact, but the rest of the skeleton was gone.  And now the other eye-socket had a hole in it, while most of the inside of the skull was covered in blackened soot that apparently came from the explosive elf-magic that destroyed our bone walker.

“Kack?   Are we still alive?”

“You are.  I wasn’t technically alive at any point in this mission.  But now my magic power is completely exhausted.  Used up by keeping you from being burned. “

He was telling the truth.  My skin was not covered in the charcoal and ash that everything else was.

“Thank you for saving me, Kack.  I know you didn’t have to.”

“I have grown fond of you, Derf.”

“Aw…”

I rolled off the spoiled dandelion blossoms and got to my feet.  The skull had landed right side up, and the new eyehole was big enough to easily step  through out into the wider world outside.

“Hey!  Pick me up and take me with you!” whined Kack.

I reached back in and picked him up by the one unbroken horn he had on his little severed head.  “It’s not like you are any good to me with all the magic blown out of you.”

“I am rechargeable, you know.  And I saved your life.  Don’t you owe me?”

“Yeah.  I don’t have anything better to do.  The fairy army of Cair Tellos will be here any second to execute me.”

“Oh, surely as sugar they won’t do that.  Charm them with your naked sex appeal.”

“I’m a Sylph, but I’m not pretty like most Sylph girls.  I’m plain… homely even.”

“I’d keep you around for romancing if I could.”

“You are just a dirty old demon.  And not even a live one.”

“Well, of course you would have standards… that figures…”

As we were ragging on each other in our defeated misery, two huge crows landed, looking us over with both eyes on both crow heads.

“What are you looking at?” I said to them.

“Derfentwinkle?  Daughter of Bizzbumble the Mediocre?”

“Yes… wait a minute, you can talk?”

“I’m Homer.  This is my brother and best friend Bert. I… uh… don’t know how I know this, but I’m your familiar.”

“What?  Impossible!  Familiars are always magical creatures like dragonets or spirit doves, never full-sized, real animals.”

“I don’t know anything about that.  How am I even talking to you?”

“Um, your mouth is not moving when you speak, so, I’m guessing you do it the way all familiars do… by telepathy.”

“Hmm… well, how about that?”

“That’s the silliest thing I eva hoid!”

“Stop with the Groucho imitations, Bert.  It’s annoying.”

“Who’s Groucho?” said the other crow, apparently Bert.

“How can I be hearing both of you?” I asked.

“Well, you talk to me in my head, just like Bert does,” said Homer.

“So, this familiar arrangement is a package deal?  And you are both way bigger than me?”

“I guess so,” apologized Homer.  “I don’t really know how to be a familiar.”

“That’s obvious.”

“Um, Derfie… Dearest?”

“Yes, Homer?”

“An elf and some Sylphs are coming to kill you.”

“Uh-huh.  I know.  Wrong time to be a first-time familiar, bird-o.”

And then, without further warning… they were there.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 3

The Skeleton Attack

The alarm roared through the castle Cair Tellos on the feet of Sylph boys just like Mickey and me… except that they carried bull horns used by town criers to amplify their shouts, none of them were wererats, and over half of them were nude.

The Master ordered us to carry the boom-n-banger on it’s launch stick up to the middle parapet of the upper keep.  Once there, we were to fix it for possible launch to one of the ironwood merlons and attempt to aim it at the skeleton even though the powder-loaded thing was as big as me and bigger than Mickey.

“Eli!  You do not have permission to light that thing in my castle!” shouted Pippen, the castle’s wizard and high protector.  He was a large Sylph with a booming voice and flowing blond hair.  His robes were richly colored blue, and he wore the golden necklace of Merlini the Gray to show off his basic right to rule.

“How are you going to keep the bone-thingy from smashing us all up, then?” retorted Master Eli.

“My scouts have told me that the boy with the shottygun has been summoned by two of the slow-one boys.”

“And you’re going to rely on the same kind of lucky shot that Murphy hobbledehoy got off at that last bone-thingy?

“It worked before, didn’t it?”

“Well, what’re the odds that luck can save our bacon more than once in a blue moon?”

“I don’t have your faith in stolen slow-one magics.  That thing could just as easily explode the castle wall as it would the attacker.”

“Maybe you’re right.  Perhaps I use my sorcery to summon Golden Dragonfire?”

“You’ve got to be kidding! Captain Bobkin’s headquarters are still smoldering from the last time you used that.”

At that moment, the two “hobbledehoys” that Master Pippin had mentioned showed up with the third one, the bigger one (hobbledehoy, as I understand it, means a tall, skinny and totally awkward slow-one youth) with the so-called shottygun in his hands, following behind while trying desperately to pull his pants on with one hand.

“Couldn’t this have waited until I was finished in the bathroom, Mike?” shouted the biggest one,

“It’s a walking skeleton, Danny!  Right out of a horror movie,” shouted one of the other hobbledehoys.

At that moment, the bone walker passed through the castle’s glammer shield meaning it would be totally hidden from the slow ones by Fey magic.

“I don’t see anything!” growled the one trying to pull his pants on while hopping on one leg, pulling on the pants with one hand, and trying to aim the shottygun with the other hand.

“It was right there a second ago!”

“You shoulda let me kill it with a baseball bat, Bobby!” swore the other smaller hobbledehoy.

Suddenly, “BLAM!” the shottygun went off, shredding the unoccupied leg of the hopping hobbledehoy’s pants.

“Dammit!”

Mickey grinned at me.  “He must be too stupid to remember to wear pants too.”

“Of course,” I said.

Meanwhile the skeleton reached up with one boney hand and totally smashed that hand against the ironwood walls of the lower parapet.

Up in the hornet’s nest, Captain Bobkin ordered an attack by the wasp-riders as the three hobbledehoys hopped back towards their own distant domicile.

“What did Master Eli mean when he called those things hobbledehoys?” Mickey asked me.

“It’s a slow-one word, in English, I think, that means what you and I would be if we were as big as slow ones.”

“A foofy git that blows up his own pants when trying to put them on?”

“Exactly.”

The skeleton brought his bone fist down on the parapet again, but this time the bones splintered and the fist turned to dust.

“Aim the boom-n-banger at the skeleton’s nearest eye socket, Bob,” commanded Master Eli.

“Even though Master Pippen told us not to?”

“Of course.  He just doesn’t understand slow-one magic like I do.  I’m gonna light that sucker up.”

Mickey and I turned the powder-filled thing until I could sight a strait line along the top of the tube all the way to the right eye socket of the skull.  Eli then snapped his fingers and a spark set the fuse ablaze.

When the thing took off with a fizzing sound instead of a boom, I was disappointed.  But it hit the skull, removing the head from the rest of the skeleton and flying it off into the bean field.

Once the skull was gone, the evil magic dispersed, and the rest of the skeleton fell apart at the roots of the willow tree that formed the base of Cair Tellos.

Master Pippin looked Master Eli in the eye.

“Well, you disobeyed me again… but it worked.  It is now your responsibility to go find the skull and kill the evil thing that was controlling the bone walker.”

Master Eli’s smile instantly faded.  “By your will, Master Pippen.”

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Composing the Next Chapter

My life now, after retiring from teaching for poor health, having a heart kerfluffle that created a hospital bill that dumped me into bankruptcy, and a pandemic that could easily have been the death of me, is really now only a matter of writing the next chapter and completing the next book.

Currently the novel I am working on is a fairytale called The Necromancer’s Apprentice. The title is a play on the Fantasia segment where Mickey Mouse plays the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, set to the orchestral music piece by Paul Dukas.

The current chapter is called Mickey’s Gambit. In this chapter Derfentwinkle’s bone-walker, a skeleton she has been driving like a tank to attack the fairies of Cair Tellos, the fairy castle in the willow tree, has been destroyed by the Sorcerer Eli Tragedy. Now Derfy knows that Tragedy and his two apprentices are coming to kill her. But she is not the typical gobbulun, all warty and green. She’s a nude Sylph girl, no different than hundreds of Sylphs who live in Cair Tellos.

But she is also the apprentice to an evil necromancer who sent her to attack the fairy castle.

Now, the other characters involved in this chapter are the Sorcerer Eli Tragedy, his apprentices Bob and Mickey the Wererat, and a handful of gingerbread children. Eli is a grumpy old coot who is quite capable of putting Derfy to death. But Bob, his number one apprentice, is much more pliable and soft-hearted. And Mickey the Wererat, is a cursed child, half-Sylph and half-rat, who can always be relied on to make the worst possible choices. There is a slim chance of survival.

The chapter is purposed as part of the story that drives the plot forward. This is the first meeting of the protagonist (Bob the apprentice) and the antagonist (Derfentwinkle.) This chapter reveals the over-arching danger of the evil necromancer. It puts Derfy in the hands of her enemies. And it is the beginning of the major themes of the book; No child or student is irredeemable, and all people, no matter whether they are Elf, Sylph, Fairy, Wererat, Gobbulun, or Crow has value.

So, that’s a look at my writing process in working on a novel, showing you how I put a chapter together. You will be seeing this chapter soon on my Tuesday novel-writing posts.

But life in reality is also about turning the page daily and setting the scene and working out the action. This I am doing by exercising more. I am also trying to get healthy enough to visit Bluebonnet Nudist Park again on the weekend before the weather rules against it. I am eating healthy. I am doing what is necessary to continue after losing my mother. I am dealing with household repairs to plumbing and yardwork. And I am working particularly hard not to lose anything more to the pandemic.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 2

An Ordinary Day at Bob’s Place

Eli Tragedy, my master, was busy writing on a parchment with a quill pen.  He did a lot of writing, that one.  He claimed that he didn’t like writing magical script, especially with a quill pen made from pigeon pin feathers.  Yet, he was writing morning, noon, and night whether he really needed to or not.  And he wouldn’t use any pen but a pigeon quill.

“Bob, be a dear and pour me more of that head-straightening potion,” Eli said as he held out his mug made from an acorn shell.

“Master, the slow ones you stole that from call it coffee.”

“Of course, they do.  The giant piffle-brains never name a thing for its actual usefulness, now do they?”

“No, sir.  Of course, they don’t, sir.”

“Bob, you call me sir way too much.  You need to vary it up some.”

“What else will I call you, sir?”

“How about Gloriously Majestic Magic-Master Tragedy?  Or the Most Powerful Mage of Tellosia?”

“Yes, sir.  I shall try, sir.”

“I guess that’s the best I can hope for, isn’t it?” the master said in the grumpy voice he always used before he had enough of his stolen head-straightening potion.

The master, of course, told me regularly that I was not very smart.  And being the master, he was, of course, right about that.  But I thought it best not to contradict him in any case.  After all, I was only a stupid Sylph boy that had to be reminded to wear pants every day.  I never actually forgot my pants before being reminded by the master.  But I regularly took his wise directions anyway.  He was a wise and famous Elf Sorcerer known far and wide amongst the Fey Children throughout the countryside.  And I was his apprentice.  He was going to teach me real magic one day.

“When will you teach us real magic?” complained Mickey the Wererat.  He was in the tub near the stove, bathing himself by the master’s orders, trying to remove at least some of the stench of being a wererat.

“I am teaching you real magic now.  Use that magical stink-removing potion on yourself.  Every bit of your furry little stink-factory body needs to be covered with the magical lavatory potion.”

“The slow ones you stole that potion from call it soap, master.”

“Of course, they do, Bob.  You are so good at reminding me of the English name for all the little things we borrow.  Now if only you were not so dumb all the time…”

“Yes, master.”

It didn’t pay to argue with a sorcerer.  Especially not one who could turn you into a frog, newt, or grasshopper.  I had been a grasshopper for a week once.  Once is enough.

“I just wish you would teach me a spell to allow me to control my were-form so I wouldn’t always be a half-rat boy all the time,” complained Mickey, scrubbing furiously at black rat-fur.  His body always seemed to naturally morph into the form he was trapped in at the moment.  He had a mouse-like face, the naked body of a regular Sylph boy covered in black-and-white fur, a rat’s tail, and paws instead of feet.  We would’ve called him a “weremouse” if it weren’t for the fact that he got lycanthropy from the rat-bite of Augustus the Gut, wererat from Suchretown.

“So, when are you actually going to teach us real magic?”  That question was a central theme to Mickey.  I wanted to learn magic as badly as he did, but I had also learned that asking annoying questions only got you one of two answers.

“Stop complaining.  Magic is a volatile thing and must be handled with great care.  You should be grateful that I am making you master slow-one magics like coffee and soap first.  It keeps you from blowing yourself up with a fireball or freezing yourself with a winter-wind spell.”

So, there was one of the two answers.

“Or shall I turn you into a newt?  Newts smell better than wererats.”

That was the other possible answer.

At that moment, Anneliese the Storybook came in through the castle passage into our tower rooms.  Now she was a fine-looking young Sylph.  But, of course, she was way out of my league.  Storybooks are immortal Fey magically created when a human storyteller writes down actual stories that happened to the actual fairy.

“Hello, Eli.  Hello, boys.”

She had a rare Germanic beauty about her.  I was told that she had once been a human girl, put to death by evil Nazi humans in the slow ones’ years of the 1940’s.  And her mother brought her back to life with human witch-magic.  Her mother. Gretel, was also a Storybook Sylph now, and served as our castle cook-witch.

“You have gingerbread for us, Anneliese?” asked Eli while slyly looking over her bare-bodied beauty.  Some Storybooks wear clothes.  Anneliese and Gretel did not.

“You know I do.  Mutter knows you have a taste for it.  And it is fortified with magic to make you healthy, strong, and wise.”  She put the basket she had brought for us down on the table.

“Bob, can you bring me my pants?” begged Mickey from the tub.  Mickey was shy. He was like a tree with no bark on it when he was naked in his rat form, and he didn’t want the beautiful girl to see his naked personal twig.  I grabbed his little blue lederhosen from the chair where he left it.  I looked briefly at the two yellow buttons he always wore on the front of his pants.  No suspenders to attach, but buttons there anyway. He snatched the pants from me and put them on while still wet.  Then he was out and greedily sorting through the basket to find his favorites before I might take one.

“You are very kind to your brother apprentice, Bob,” Anneliese said to me.  “And I am amazed at the way you always seem to notice everything,”

“I am teaching him that.  One must be very observant if one is to succeed at the ancient arts of Sorcery.”

“Yes, I see you are teaching him by example, Eli.”

She had him there.  She was fully aware of the parts of her that the old Elf was looking at.  Probably aware that I was trying not to look at those parts as well.

My master wasn’t evil or anything.  But he did appreciate girl Sylphs and fairy beauties.

I liked the fact that Anneliese came by at least twice a week.  I wanted to see her even more often.  But I could not for the world summon up the magic it took to talk to her on purpose and tell her how I felt.

But the moment ended with a gingerbread boy coming through the door.

“Ah, Pavel, what brings you to my tower, cookie-man?” the Master said to him in a joking manner, managing to hide any embarrassment he might’ve felt in front of Anneliese.

“You are to come right away!  The castle is under attack by a second bone-walker!” said the animated cookie.

That, of course, immediately had us rumbling out of the tower door to do our magical duty.  Necessary implements of magical firepower were all well in hand.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 1

Derfentwinkle’s Sick Ride

It was not the kind of ride in the country that I really wanted to take.  The skeleton walked with a really random sort of limp-and-jerky motion that pitched me regularly out of my seat in the skull. 

“Kackenfurchtbar, can’t you control these stupid bones better than this?” I asked the little moron severed demon-head.

“Derfentwinkle, you expect too much!  All I am is a head.  I have to control this entire skeleton with phantom muscles made out of what little demon telekinesis I have left in my broken little skull.”

“Kronomarke put you under my control and this pile of loosely connected bones is what you are supposed to be in control of.”

“I am doing the skunky best I flipping can!”

I know, I know… You did hear that right.  One of the few actual spells the dorky necromancer taught me was how to turn demon swearwords into euphemisms.  My name is actually Derfentwinkle.  I am a two-and-a-half-inch tall Sylph, six-slow-one-years old, but all the Fey children tend to age two years for every one year a human child would age.  So, I am a girl Sylph on the verge of becoming a Sylvan woman.

After the last jolt, I picked myself up and sat back on the pile of dandelion blossoms that I used as a seat to look out on the cornfield we were trying to navigate through.  The left eye socket of the empty human skull had a hole through the back that Kronomarke had carved out to serve as a pilot’s window.  Being a severed head, Kack needed to see out of the skeleton through my eyes.

“All I can see is corn,” Kack complained.

“Well, you don’t want me to make you walk out on the gravel road, do you?”

“Kronomarke says that the last apprentice did that and got blown to pieces by a slow-one farm hand with a shottygun.  That doesn’t sound like a good thing that we might want to happen to us.”

“Shottygun?”

“It’s like a slow-one magic wand.  It throws lots of high-speed pebbles at you at very high speed.”

“Did the apprentice survive that?”

“Why do you think the master had to kidnap you?”

“Slow ones are not used to seeing walking skeletons, are they?”

“No, definitely not.”

“Look, we are coming out of the cornfield.  Straight ahead is the slow-one village named Norwall.” I pointed as I said it, but the gesture meant nothing to the stupid severed head.

“Good, good.  We have almost reached Cair Tellos.  It is built into the willow tree on the north side of town.”

“But that thing straight ahead that we have to cross is the Shiggway Drei.”

“Don’t use the gobbellun name for it.  Call it Highway Three in English,” Kack said smugly.

“Right.  When we cross the thing the zoomdahs ride on… er, the cars drive on… we will be seen by everyone.  Including farm hands with shottyguns.”

“But the reason we are walking in an animated human skeleton is that it scares humans as well as the Fey children.  We will scare them out of our path.”

At that moment, the walking skeleton we were trying to steer into the human village stumbled into the fence around the cornfield.  The fence was made with two strands of barbed wire along the top.

The skull was pitched forward at such an angle that I was nearly vaulted out of the eyehole.  “Pull us back a bit, Kack.  We’re getting tangled in the barbed wire.”

“Isn’t it called bobbed wire?” 

“Only by the dumbest slow-ones I’ve seen.  They have to be the dumbest ones if I know English gooder than they do.”

Kack used his magical mind-strings to pull the puppet skeleton upright again.  But as we climbed over the fence, the barbs in the wire pulled at the ghost-flesh and ligaments that held the bones together.  A lower leg popped off, and Kack had to make the skeleton hop on one leg bone as it reached down, retrieved the leg, and popped it back on the dismembered knee joint.

Then we stumbled across the pavement, hurrying the last twenty yards because a big, big truck zoomdah came roaring at us from the west.

Lurching into town and spinning over another fence, we found ourselves in a field of soybeans.  We stumbled on towards the abandoned school yard where the willow tree stood.

Two human boys, each towering at least four feet in the air, were playing a ball-tossing game on the old ball-tossing field. 

“Ah!  The zombie apocalypse has started!” cried one slow-one.

“Bobby, that’s just a skeleton, like the one that killed you in the Swords and Sorcerer’s game last night.  They are only six-hit-point monsters.  We could kill it with our baseball bat.”

I was personally very alarmed.  I did not know that slow ones had any control-bat spells.  And I had never heard of the species known as a baseball bat.

“No!  Let’s go get your brother and his squirrel rifle.  Zombies are dangerous!”

“We’re doomed now, aren’t we?” I asked Kack.

“Probably.  You should’ve worn that armor the necromancer gave you.”

“Nonsense!  I’m a Sylph, not an Elf.  Sylphs are meant by the god Pan to be naked.  Especially the female ones.”  I know they only gave me the armor to protect me, but I wasn’t feeling like wearing anything at the moment that I wasn’t willing to die in.

“Well, turn towards the willow tree.  If we must die, let’s go out fighting.”

We turned the skeleton towards the tree with the fairy castle in it. We started to run.  We were doomed.

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