Tag Archives: The Necromancer's Apprentice

The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 16

Wayward Butterfly Children

Anneliese’s favorite Gingerbread Boy, Johan of Dusseldorf, found us as we were passing Tornhilda’s Towering Townhouse in the lower part of the castle.

“The Butterfly Child you had me watching is up near the wasp nest asking questions about the Wasprider Cavalry and Captain Bobkin.”

Anneliese frowned at that news.

“Why would she be doing that?” Bob asked me.

I shrugged.  “Was she asking about where to find us?”

“Not unless she was intending to look into the iron spikes that the cavalry uses to make the wasp stingers more deadly to the Unseely Court in order to find you.”  Johan’s peppermint candy eyes were expressionless, so I couldn’t tell if he was joking or being suspicious.  I know I didn’t like the sound of that, and Dolly was my friend.

“Lead us to where you left her,” Anneliese ordered Johan.  Over time, the Gingerbread Boy had developed a more Sylph-like shape to make him faster and more agile than the standard waddling cookie-shaped boy.

We found ourselves quickly climbing upward on the castle’s winding central staircase.  We passed many Pixies with various animal and bug-like shapes.   There were large numbers of Sylphs and Elves and Brownies and Butterfly Children also.  I wondered if anybody had ever counted how many lived in this tree-castle.  Bob had told me that it had an extensive underground city in the roots of the willow tree too.  Could Dolly have been counting them for some reason?

I heard Dolly giggling in that girlish way she did as we reached the topmost landing of the central stair.  She was hanging over the shoulder of an older Sylph grown fat and round with age.  He wore a captain’s uniform that was tight on him because of his generous belly.  He was laughing too, apparently at whatever the two of them had been talking about.

“Ah!  Derfie!  I’ve found you at last!  Have you met Captain Bobkin?  He’s in charge of the military defenses of Cair Tellos.”  Dolly was smiling at me, but I’m not sure I was very quick to smile back.

“Well, well, I know Anneliese and young Bob quite well.  I am even acquainted with Johan the Gingerbread Boy.  But who is this charming Sylph who is the friend of the lovely Dollinglammer?”

“This is Derfentwinkle.  She’s potentially going to be Master Eli Tragedy’s third apprentice,” said Bob, pulling me forward by the hand and placing my hand om the fat fairy captain’s gloved hand.

“Well, aren’t you sweet.”  He kissed me on the cheek.  His handlebar moustache was apparently waxed and felt slightly sticky on my cheek.

“We have all been looking for you, Miss Dollinglammer, since the Wizard Pippen arrested and nearly executed Miss Derfentwinkle, and Bob the Apprentice,” said Anneliese with what I took to be a guarded smile.

“Oh, my!  Are you both okay?  I thought surely the crows would rescue you both!” she said, seemingly surprised.

I wasn’t sure if Dolly was being straight with me, or just pretending.  As far as I knew, she had never lied to me before.  But Kronomarke can make a girl do horrible things whether she wanted to or not… Though I wondered what memories of evil the Magic Hat had removed from my head that made me think that in spite of not remembering.

And when Dolly mentioned Homer and Bert, I finally realized that I could no longer hear their continued presence in my mind or see what they were seeing through my eyes when I attempted to see through theirs.

I whispered in Bob’s ear, “I can’t feel my crow familiars in my mind anymore.”

Bob whispered back, “That was a special instruction that Master Eli gave to Bibby Joon.  No mind can touch yours when you are wearing that cape.”


I honestly didn’t know if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  Did they not trust me yet?  Of course, I didn’t trust me either, not knowing how the necromancer had screwed up my mind before I got the cape.

“Well, Dollinglammer, now that we have found you, we need to get you back to Master Eli’s tower where you will be safe.”

“Oh, yeah… okay.” Dolly turned to go into the stairwell leading into Captain Bobkin’s command center. “It’s the other way, Miss,” said Johan politely.  And so we headed down the stair taking us back to the castle.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 15

The Bat-winged Cape

As we walked out of Master Tragedy’s Sorcerer’s tower toward the crafting district of Cair Tellos, I was carrying the huge jar of midnight shadows that Master Eli had given us to have a cape made from for Derfentwinkle.  She was carrying the bottle imp, Kackenfurchtbar, in case I needed to test the truthfulness of what Derfie was telling us.  But once on the stair to the Stitch-Witches’ Fabric and Sewing Shoppe, I turned to Derfie and set the jar down on a wooden step for a moment.

“Um, ah… Derfentwinkle?”

“Yes, Bob?”

“Can I… um… give you… ahem… I mean… would it be okay if I… gave you a…”  I opened my arms before I said the actual words’

“A hug, Bob?”

I nodded silently, and she grabbed me with both arms and pressed my face against her bare bosom.  I felt awkward, but I didn’t pull back.  I put both of my arms around her and squeezed her just as hard.

“Because the Erlking’s Wizard nearly cut our heads off before we ever got a chance to…”

“Hug each other like this?” she finished my sentence.  She used her empty hand to stroke the back of my head.


We held each other tightly for a few long minutes.  Then, suddenly, Anneliese was there.

“Ah, Derfentwinkle, I see you’ve discovered how huggable the nicest Sylvan boy in all of Cair Tellos really is.”

“Are you jealous?”

“Of the hug, maybe.  But I can surely share my best boy.”

“Best boy?  Not, boyfriend?” Derfie asked.

“Anne is a Storybook and much older than me,” I said, reluctantly releasing my hold on the necromancer’s apprentice.

“Oh, right.  Old enough to be your mother, I suppose?”

“Or his grandmother,” said Anneliese with a wrinkling of her nose above a puckish grin.  “If you like my almost grandson, then that pleases me.””

“Did you come seeking us?” I asked her.

“Yes, I did.  Master Eli told me where to find you two.  A pretty little Butterfly Child named Dollinglammer has been asking about you in the residential towers.  She seems intent on finding you.  Especially you, Bob,”

“We have to go to the stitch-witches to get a cape made for Derfie.  But if you come with us, you can take us to her afterwards,” I suggested.

“That would be lovely,” Anne said.  “I have been interested to get to know this new Sylph friend of yours, Bob.”

Anneliese, nude as always, was absolutely beautiful.  She had longish blond hair which curled wildly, and she never combed it.  She was shaped like the fourteen-year-old  human girl she was when the Nazis put her to death at Auschwitz.  She was now an immortal Storybook thanks to a story her mother told about her, so her beauty would never fade or change.

She put an arm around my neck as I picked up the jar of shadows, and she put her other arm around Derfie, drawing us both close to her.

“Derfentwinkle, my powers as a Storybook are openness and honesty.  If you ever need to talk to about the shadows that are inside of you, I’m your friend.  I will talk about it with you as honestly as anyone can.  And I say this as a guarantee, I can help you.”

Derfie looked down at the ground as we continued into the shop of the stitch-witches.

Bibby-Joon, the elder stitch-witch met us there.  She was a Pixie with the upper torso of a youthful woman and the abdomen and spider legs of a large spider.

“We will have the cape done for you in a matter of minutes,” Bibby said.  “It will be a very special Batwing Cape just as Master Eli ordered.  It will not only protect you from mind control and influence spells, but it will turn into bat wings on command so you can fly.  And if you wrap it all the way around you while standing in shadow, you will disappear and remain invisible as long as you do not move.”

We came out of the shop with Derfentwinkle wearing her new protective magic cape.

“It looks very becoming on you,” Anneliese told her.

“Kack?  Is the necromancer’s mind control working on Derfie in any way?” I asked the bottle imp just as Master Eli had instructed me.

“No, Bob.  Any evil she does now will be entirely her own doing.”

I think that answer made me frown or something.  Anneliese put a comforting hand on the back of my neck and said, “Don’t worry, Bob.  Everything is as it should be.” Derfie was smiling at the ground.  And I couldn’t help feeling how beautiful she was… to me, at least.  And worrying about how much control that gave her over me.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 14

When You Wish Upon a Broom

I woke up to find myself in the red-velvet interior of one of Master Eli’s coat pockets.  I was obviously considerably smaller than my normal two and a half inches of height.

“I’m sorry, Master.  I know I am not supposed to misuse the Magic Hat.  But I couldn’t help it.  It was there.  And I wanted a girlfriend so badly…”

“Mickey, I don’t even have to punish you.  You’ve already gotten the consequences you deserve.  You can’t have sex with one…”

“Master?  How do I stop these aggressive brooms?” the quiet boy said sounding on the edge of desperation.

“…let alone TWO brooms!  You should have used the animate object spell on one of those limestone statues Dizzyglitter is always carving.  At least they are supposed to look like Sylphs.  What are the brooms’ names, Mickey?”

“Merrydew and Cannabis,” Mickey squeaked.

“Give them new orders by name, Bob.”  The Master’s voice seemed to be suppressing a slight chuckle.

I climbed up to the edge of the pocket and looked out.

“Merrydew, sweep the floors.  Cannabis, alphabetize the potion bottles.”

I saw the two brooms stop chasing Bob and take up their new tasks.  Mickey was laid up on the exam table, his body naked except for fur and a huge bandage on his personal love parts.  I was pretty sure that was the consequences the Master spoke of, but I didn’t want to think about how it came to be.

Then I looked up and saw Master Eli looking down at me and picking me up in his gloved left hand.  He lifted me up in front of his scowling face.

“You, I believe have been a very naughty girl, Derfentwinkle.  What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I am very sorry, Master Eli.  I was always planning to return to your service.  But the crows contacted me by telepathy and told me where to find my friend Dollinglammer.  And she had news of my poor sister.”

“You left with some of the magic given you by the Magic Hat, but none of the training you were supposed to get from me.”

“Are you going to punish me?”

“Well, of course not.  What did a student ever learn from being punished beyond how much they should hate their teacher?  You saw the White Stag inside the hat.  That means you were chosen and must stay with me until your quest is completed.”

“My quest?  Is it to free the village of Mortimer’s


“No, of course not.  I mean, the Stag doesn’t tell me much about the future.  Just that you have a quest and we are tasked with helping you.”

He put me gently down on the cold stone floor, took a vial of purple liquid from one of his other pockets, and sprinkled some on my head.  With dizzying suddenness, I was normal-sized again.

“We need to dress you in an apprentice’s robe like Mickey is supposed to be wearing if the sex-crazed brooms hadn’t torn it off him.”

“No.  I don’t wear clothes.  None of my family ever has.”

“It’s not an option.  You need to wear a protective enchantment, both from Bluebottom’s mind control and Master Pippen’s influence spells.”

“Does it have to be a robe?  Bob doesn’t wear a robe.”

“Do you want an enchanted leather jerkin like Bob wears?  Complete with magical advertising signs for our Sorcery business?”

“No, ah…  can it be a necklace, or a hat?”

“Not to hold the spell powers I will make it with.”

“You can wear your apprentice robe open in the front like I do.  I like to show off my manly abs,” said Mickey.

“I can probably make a cloak or a cape,” Master Eli suggested.

“Why do so many Sylphs prefer to be nude?” quiet Bob asked Master Eli.

“Sylphs are naturally immune to heat and cold, so they don’t need clothing to protect them from those things.  And they like the freedom of movement they have with nothing binding to wear.  They don’t need clothes the way Elves and Slow Ones and Brownies do.  There are even Elves that make magical necklaces, collars, and rings to keep them warm or cool so they can be nude also.”

“But some of us just like to be naked all the time,” I said, not really understanding why Bob didn’t know that already.

Bob was looking at me as I stood there naked in front of him.  He had a shy smile on his cute face.  It gave me an unexpected thrill to realize it.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 13

Angry Wizards Aren’t Good for Your Health

On the way back to the willow castle Bert and Homer were reciting some kind of comedy routine they had seen on some Slow One’s tele-bish-yawn set at what they called the Nurse-Sing Home.  It was something done by two Slow Ones named Cabbit and Klaustello.  It was talking about a bees-ball team.  And the dumb guy, Klaustello wanted to know the name of the guy on first base.  But the other guy didn’t understand the question because the team had stupid names.  And then they both got really mixed up, but the dumb guy got boiling mad about Who’s on First?  It really wasn’t all that funny.

“Why does Klaustello care if the first guy’s name is Who?” Derfentwinkle asked.

“What kind of game is bees-ball anyway?” I asked.

“It is the All-Mermerrican Sport,” said Homer.

“I think they take a bunch of angry bees and make them into a ball to throw at the players of the other team,” said Bert

“And the other team takes their bees-ball bat and try to defend themselves from the stings by swatting the angry ball of bees,” said Homer.

I began to think it was funny when I pictured in my head the expression on the face of the bat when the stupid Slow One grabbed it by the feet and swung it at a ball of bees.

But most of the time, only the two crows thought it was funny.

And then we all landed safely on the roof of Cair Tellos’s main keep.

“Arrest them all immediately!” shouted the Wizard Pippen.  The pentagram on his chest-plate was glowing with bright blue protection magic.

“Not Bob the apprentice.  He’s Master Tragedy’s loyal student,” argued Prinz Flute, the faun-child who was Pippen’s only son.

“If he was supposed to be guarding the prisoner and let her escape, then he deserves the punishment too.  Set up the chopping block right here, right now.”

The crows took off almost instantly.  Dollinglammer used her butterfly wings to follow them before the Sylphs with the halberds could grab her.  But Derfentwinkle and I were both caught.

The Executioner of Cair Tellos in his jet-black hood and black-banded armor set up the wooden chopping block right in front of us.  A guard pushed me down to it so that my neck was against the place on the chopping block carved to fit it.  I was about to really lose my head, and I was not happy about it.

“Father, please, they were returning to the castle.  How do you know that Bob didn’t recapture her, and was bringing her back to us?”

“You are right, son.  We shouldn’t cut his head off first.”

The Sylphs with the halberds picked me up again and forced Derfie down to take my place.

“Here, now!  Those children belong to me.  You overstep your authority in doing this!” shouted Master Eli as he showed up, red-faced and huffing with the effort of his climb up to where we were captured.

“If you punish them yourself, we’ll just end up with more pigeons around here.  What’s the lesson learned from that?  More fat pigeons?”

“A better lesson learned by far than if you cut off their heads.  Students learn nothing without their heads attached.  At least when they have their heads still on there’s a chance of beating sense into them.  Or do you have a head-reattaching spell I don’t know about?”

“Okay, but I won’t have young Sylphs who are supposed to be prisoners flying out of here to go tell my secrets to the evil elves in the swamp.  Or that Bluebottom friend of yours.”

“Oh, believe me.  They will tell me more secrets of his than they will ever tell him about you.”

Then Master Eli tilted a vial of potion over Derfentwinkle’s head, instantly shrinking her down almost to nothing before picking her up and putting her away in a side-pocket of his red overcoat.

“Be warned, Sorcerer.  You are not above suspicion yourself.” Growled the Wizard Pippen.

“Come with me, Bob.  We have lots of work ahead of us.”  Master Eli stormed away from the fuming wizard and I scurried after him with one hand on my recently-threatened neck.


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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 11

In a Bed with Bob

She was not hard to care for as she slept.  She didn’t snore loudly enough to hear.  In fact, I leaned in close to her mouth and nose about three times to make certain she had not simply stopped breathing.  I was ready with water and food that I had made Mickey get so I could stay close to her and tend to any needs that she may have had.

Her body, which I cleaned gently with a moist rag, was perfectly formed for an adolescent Sylph.  She had no wings to worry about.  No scars.  No tattoos.  No insect appendages or patches of mouse fur…

“Bob, what are you looking at?”

I sat up with a start at her unexpected question.  Then I supposed I must’ve turned red in the face, since I had been admiring her most private parts.

“Um, I…”

“You were thinking about me the same way Mickey does, right?  About having your way with me?”

“Oh, no, I…”

“If you really want to take me now, no one is here to stop you.:

That made me slightly offended and defensive. 

“I would never.  On my honor…”

Her eyes were leaking tears again.  “You treat me better than I deserve.  I was sent here to kill you.”

“Kill me?  The necromancer said Kill Bob?  Specifically?”

“Well, no… not specifically you.”

She began looking around at Master Eli’s sleeping chamber.  It was, of course, completely different than any typical room in a Fairy Castle.  It had many things in it that could only be acquired by stealing directly from the homes of Slow Ones.

“What kind of bed is this?” she asked.

“It is what the Slow Ones call a doll bed from a doll house that belongs to a Slow One known as Grandma Elizabeth Sears.  She lives in a medium-sized Slow-One’s fortress on the Eastern side of the Hamlet of Norwall.”

“Whatever is a doll house?”

“Oh, it’s a toy for little Slow Ones.  It is a small version of what is meant to be a domicile for full-sized Slow Ones.”

“And how did this toy bed come to be here?”

“Grandma Elizabeth gave it to Master Eli.  She is old and has dementia, so when she tells other Slow Ones that she talks to fairies, they don’t believe her.  But the Master returns kindness for kindness with her.  He gives her potions that improve her eyesight and help to fix her mostly broken mind. He steals those potions from things the Slow Ones call medicine cabinets.

“This Master Eli of yours is a much nicer master than mine was.”

I looked at her in a way I hoped was reassuring and said, “I can’t say this officially yet, but I think Master Eli wants to take you on as an apprentice along with Mickey and me.”

“Why would he want to do that?”

“You passed all his tests, including the Magic Hat.”

A smile flickered briefly across her face.  I had never seen her smile before, so I wasn’t sure if it was real or not.  But it gave me hope.

“Why have you been so kind to me, Bob?  Do you want sex like Mickey does?”

“Um… no.  I only do what the master asks me to.  But I like being kind to you.  I think you are good at heart.  And I want to be your friend…  Mickey brought food and drink up here at my request.  Are you hungry?”

She looked at the dandelion leaves, honeybee sandwiches, and marmalade.  “No, not really.”

“Anneliese will be bringing gingerbread later.  And I want you to meet her.  She’s a beautiful immortal Storybook.”

“Storybook Fairies are real?  I thought they were a myth.”

“Oh, no.  They are very real.  Besides Anneliese and her mother, General Tuffaney Swift lives here.  And Silky the Chestnut Fairy, and sometimes Ariel the Mermaid visits.  They are all very real.”

“Am I a prisoner here?  Or can I go out in the sunlight?”

“I can find out fairly quickly.  Hansel!  Come here, please.”

The gingerbread boy assigned to the tower as the gofer, came in the bedroom at my call.

“Yes, Bob.  What are my orders?”

“Ask Master Eli if I can take Derfentwinkle out into the sunshine.”

“Right away, Bob.”

He disappeared out into the hallway.

“Do we have to wait for permission like that?  I’ll settle for going out on the nearest balcony.”

I looked at the glass door that led to the tower balcony.

“I guess we can do that…”

She didn’t wait for me to lead the way.  She leaped out of the bed and was opening the glass door before I could even get to my feet.  I tried to catch up.  But as soon as I reached the door, I saw her being snatched up into the air by a pair of crow-claws.


“I promise not to betray you, Bob!”

Well, that left me no choice.  I had to trust she was as good of a little person as I thought she was.  I leaped over the balcony rail, out into the empty air high up in the willow tree.  And then I was plummeting to my death.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 10

Derfentwinkle’s Headache

Once Master Eli placed the Magic Hat on my head, I immediately felt something probing deeply into my brain.  It wasn’t some passive little look-see either.  It was a painfully grinding drilling sensation that caused a massive pain between my eyes.

“Ah, you have been abused, child,” said a voice from within the hat.  “You must forgive me, but I will have to remove the life-draining sex spells and take away your memories of Kronomarke’s insidious abuse.”

“Help yourself,” I silently told the voice in my head with my own voice in my head.

The memories of the naked necromancer hitting me and harming me began to dry up, shrivel, and disappear from my conscious memory.  I was not unhappy to see them float away into darkness.

But I was no longer seeing the room in the Sorcerer’s Tower where I knew I physically still was.  Instead, around me there was little beyond darkness.

Then the darkness parted and a glowing white stag, a white male deer with an eighteen-point rack of horns and an extremely regal bearing walked up to me.  Towered over me, in fact.

“Child, speak your name.”  He spoke directly into my head without any lips moving or obvious speech forming in his deer mouth.

“But that will give you power over me.”

“I already have that.  I am here to help you, not do you further harm.”

“I am Derfentwinkle the lowly necromancer’s fifth apprentice.  But who are you?”

“I am what you might call a demigod.  I was the master and teacher of the wizard Dezmodotto.  And I am the friend of Eli Tragedy.  If you must name me, I am called Father of Many Erlkings.”

“That’s impressive.”

“I have no need to impress you.  I am only here to help you.”

“How will you do that?”

“I have already cleansed your memory of most of the badness that Kronomarke has taught you.  He is an evil man.  You must not return to him.  I will make certain that you continue to belong to Master Eli.”

“Like a slave?”

“Like a daughter.  And I will give him to you as a father.”

I was stunned.  No one had ever been so kind before.  And his voice filled me with warmth and confidence.  It would be right because Father… of Many Erlkings, made it so.

“Is Eli Tragedy really magical?”

“You ask because your magic intuitions tell you most of his magical effects are really Slow-One science and technology disguised as sorcery.  You are a true wizard, and Eli is a very clever manipulator of many things.”

“Um, yes, I… guess so…”

“You must listen to him well and learn his ways.  They will make you stronger.”

“Yes, okay…”

“And I sent the crows Homer and Bert to be your familiar… one of the two, at any rate.”

“Why full-sized crows?”

“You will need to ride them as steeds in the air.  And they can be quite entertaining, those two.”

“And what is it that I feel you have put into my head?”

“Spells, beloved.  Spells to keep you and yours safe.  And help along the quest I must give you.”

“What are these spells you speak of?”

“You will need to discuss them with the apprentice Bob.  He is known to me as a very wise and capable young man.  He will transcribe them on parchment for you so that you may learn them in the way of non-necromantic wizards.”

“Can you tell me now what the spells are?  By name?”

“The ones I am allowing you to keep from your necromantic training are the Ghost-Light Spell, The Turning Spell of the Undead, and the reverse of the Harming Spell, which in your hands will instead be a Healing Spell.”

“And the ones I don’t already know?”

The Spell of Gingerbread Summoning, The Fairy-Resizing Spell, the Spell of Water-Breathing, the Alter Shape Spell, The Spell of Slow-One Summoning, The Witch-Armor Spell of Zam the Leaf-Witch, and the Spell of Storybook Summoning.  These will go into your spell-book as Bob helps you translate and write it.”

“Why am I worthy to be treated in this way by a demigod?  I came here to kill the fairies of Cair Tellos.”

“That is why you were sent here, but it is not why you came here and fell into the care of Eli Tragedy.”

“Thank you, Father…”

I felt faint.  Everything changed around me.

“Um, I am not feeling well,” I said.  “Can I lie down and sleep a little?”

I fell into someone’s arms and I was lost in the softness of deep sleep.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 8

Several Moments of Truth

I could tell when Master Eli handed me the bottle imp that used to be my friend Kack, that Kack was no longer trapped in a severed head.  He was now a free-floating intelligent smoke trapped in a bottle made of some Slow-One’s special substance.  It was not real magic because it did not make my magic-sense tingle.  It was some kind of trick with Slow-One chemicals.

“So, Miss Derfentwinkle, tell us about yourself.  And keep in mind your “Horrible Poop” friend will now tell us instantly if you are telling a lie.”  Master Eli was looking at me with one eye opened wider than the other.

“Yeah, um…  I am Derfentwinkle.  I am the servant of an evil necromancer.”

“Do you like working for a necromancer?” Bob, the quiet boy, said.

“I hate it.  I hate Kronomarke.  He’s cruel, and he sent me on a suicide mission to get me killed intentionally.”

I swirled Kack around in his bottle.

“That is perfectly true… every word,” said Kack.

“Do you like me?” asked the weird mouse-boy.

“I find you mildly disgusting, but it was entertaining when Bob knocked you out.”

The quiet boy chuckled softly when I said that.  I am not sure, but I think Master Eli did too.

“Would you be willing to betray your former master?” Master Eli asked.

“I would do so quickly and efficiently and deeply enjoy it.”

Master Eli grinned at me at that answer.

“So, is that true too, Kackenfurchtbar?” asked Bob.

“Derfie almost never tells a lie, but, sadly… this is not entirely honest.”

“What?  You won’t really betray him?”

“She can’t.  People she loves have their lives in his evil hands.  But her heart is set against the necromancer, and she would betray him happily if she could.”

“Ah, I expected as much from old Bluebottom,” said Master Eli.

“So, are you going to kill me, then?” I asked, feeling doomed.

“Oh, no.  Of course not.  But I am not going to let you go either.  You belong to me now.  I expect I will hang onto you for a few years now.”

“As a sex slave?” asked the mouse-boy with an ugly smirk on his mouse-face.

“No.  She’s free to fall in love with you, Mickey.  But she’s also allowed to hate you if that’s how she really feels.”

The mouse-boy hung his stupid mouse head in shame at that reproach.

“Tell me, young lady, do know any of the spells used by your former master?”

“I don’t think I have any magical skills, and I know I don’t know any spells.”

“Not completely true,” blurted Kack.

I gave the bottle a violent shake.  His floating eyeballs bounced off each other in the smoke.

“You probably know a lot more than you realize,” said Master Eli.  “I heard those two crows claim to be your familiars.  Not fairy-sized birds, but normal-sized crows.  That takes a lot more real magic than you should be capable of.”  He was grinning at me even more now.

“Does your evil master know about the crow familiars?” asked quiet Bob.

“I just found out myself.  I don’t think he knows.  But I’m sure Kack will tell you I’m lying about that too.”

“She is not lying about any of that,” Kack said.  So, I gave him another violent shake.

“Wait a minute,” said the mouse-boy.  “Why does she get a familiar when you, me, and Bob don’t, Master Eli?”

“Well, Mickey, a wizard is different than a sorcerer.”

I immediately thought a lecture was coming on.  Something about wizards, warlocks, and sorcerers makes them want to explain every little detail in one long-winded speech.

“Wizards, you see, are different than we are.  They get their magic from books and scrolls and head-knowledge.  They have to study to get their magic working.  They have evolved the ability to have so much head-knowledge that they eventually need another head to put it in.  Thus, their minds invade and meld with an animal familiar, usually a fairy cat, fairy bird, spider, or some other fsairy-sized creature.  I have never known a fairy wizard to have a full-sized animal familiar that was bigger than they were.”

I totally nailed it about the lecture thing.  This guy was just as boring as old Kronomarke.  Except he wore bright red smart-guy robes which were much more interesting than Kronomarke’s usual black robes.

“So, why don’t sorcerers have familiars?” genius mouse-boy just had to ask.

“Because our magic is different.  Our magic is not head-knowledge.  It is more from the gut.  Intuition over intelligence.  We pull magic out of our passions, our feelings, our natural insights…”

“Our sexual abilities?” mouse-boy attempted to add.

“No, Mickey.  And that kind of thinking can get you killed around a necromancer.  Derfentwinkle’s magic comes from a wizarding-way that draws on life and death.  She may know Succubus spells that can drain the lifeforce out of you and leave you a withered husk.”

Dang!  There went any chance to use that trick!  Mouse-boy might not get it, but Bob just learned what to look out for, and he didn’t seem to miss anything that was said.

“So, you still haven’t said why we don’t have no familiars?”

“Ah, Mickey.  Such a stupid child.  At least you were bright enough to put on pants this morning.”

“He is right, though, Master.  You still haven’t explained why…” Bob said.

“Ah, yes.  Although you would be smarter with pants on, Bob, you are right.  Sorcerers don’t need familiars.  They draw spell energy directly from the ether, and don’t pass it through the brain of any creature.  Not even their own brain.  They apply it directly to the target.  That’s why we use wands and staves and such rather than saying a lot of spell words and wiggling our fingers.”

“Oh.  Thank you master.  That was a very useful lesson,” Bob said with a cute little smile.

“So, Derfentwinkle, has your master shown you any spells, or made you read any books?” Master Eli asked me.

“No.  Of course not.  All the magic he gave me was inside Kack’s stupid little demon head.”

“She’s not telling you the whole truth.  She has seen the Evil Master cast spells and heard the words he used to do them.  And she read some of the books over the Evil Master’s shoulder.”

“Thank you, Kack.  I wanted them to know that, but I couldn’t tell them because of one of Kronomarke’s spells.”

“She is telling the truth about that.”

Master Eli’s face split with a huge grin.  “Very good, then.  I think it is about time I employed the Magic Hat.”

I had no idea what that meant.  But I knew it might be dreadful.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 7

Where Only Harpies Had Been Before

I hated having to lead the girl, Derfentwinkle I think her name was, on a leash like a fairy-dog or a June beetle.  It was cruel.  But I also wanted her to live even though we were supposed to kill her.

But the girl was quiet and never once tried to resist being led.  We took her to the magic lab where the Harpy cage was kept.  

Harpies are foul creatures, among the worst of the gobbulun hordes in the Unseely Court.  The one we held as prisoner for a week, Queen Duurt was her name, spread bad smells all around the cage. She kept trying to get hold of Mickey every single time he was tasked with feeding her.  I’m sure if he hadn’t been quick enough at dropping the food into the cage, she’d have caught him by a wererat paw and pulled him close enough to bite his head.  I was glad when they executed her and put her in the cookpots.  She didn’t even make good meat to feed to the fairy creatures we kept as pets. 

“Eeuw!  This place smells horrible,” the girl said as Master Eli prodded her to go into the cage.

“You probably won’t be in there very long,” Master Eli said.  “If you are no smarter than I think you are and don’t know anything about the necromancer’s lair, then we’ll have you cut up and boiling in the cookpots before you have time to get used to the smell.”

She looked at him with a hard stare that gave me neck prickles like a good ghost story told by a creepy bard.

“Master?  Are we allowed to take her out of the cage sometimes?” Mickey asked.

“Learning magical sex positions?” I asked Mickey.

“She’s a dark one’s plaything, Mickey.  You let her out, she’ll probably eat you rather than make love to you.”

“So, does that mean I have permission?”

“Knock yourself out, kid.”

Of course, Master Eli didn’t really mean that.  He just had that kind of sense of humor.  He would expect me to stop Mickey from doing detestable things.

“And, Bob, since you will be the one cleaning the mess up when something goes wrong… Be sure they are both dead before you turn them into beetle chow.”

“Yes, sir.”  That part he probably did mean.

Master Eli left the room before I had secured the lock on the cage.  Mickey was looking at me with that pathetic beg-eye of his.

“No, Mickey.  You can not take her out and do bad things to her.”

“Why not, Bob?  We don’t get many chances to learn about sex.”

“Because she’s a Sylph just like us. And she has to be treated with the respect due to a young lady.  Not used as your dirty plaything.”

“Bob, I’m sorry you’re not very smart.  I know we have to make allowances for you not being old enough to understand about physical love.”

“Mickey, we can’t because…”

“Really?” she said through the bars.  “If the mouse-man wants to kiss me, I’m okay with that.”

“Oh, wow!” cried Mickey as he lunged for the cage, puckered lips leading the way.

I quickly grabbed the Mickey-stick that Master Eli left in the lab for just this very reason, and I hit him as hard as I could in the back of the head, laying him out cold on the floor… out of reach from the cage by mere inches.

“What did you do that for, quiet boy.”

“For his own good.  You were going to grab him and possibly kill him trying to get out of the cage.”

“Why do you let them tell you that you’re not smart?  You are too smart for me.  Take your clothes off and come over to the bars, and I will happily give you what the mouse wanted.  No tricks, either.  I need some of that before you all kill me.”

“I only do what the master tells me to do.  He’s a powerful sorcerer, and he knows how to handle tricky prisoners like you.”

She looked down at the floor of the cage, and I thought I saw tears forming in the corners of her dark eyes.

“You know the Master won’t kill you if you tell him what he wants to know about the necromancer.”

“Oh, I intend to tell him everything and then some.  I do not love the Lord who sent me here to die.  But I have no confidence that you won’t kill me anyway.”’

“No, he wouldn’t do that.  The master does not deal with others in any openly cruel manner.  He wants you for some reason more than just what you can tell him about your evil master.”

“What happened to the last prisoner that was in this cage?”

I didn’t really want to tell her about Duurt.  That was a five-inch-tall monster with no redeemable qualities.

“We cut her up and boiled her to make pet food.  She was an evil Harpy, and she killed many fairies before we captured her.”

“How do you know I am not evil like that?  Or maybe I killed lots of people too.”

“You are not.  I can tell just by looking.”

She looked at me with those dark eyes.  It made my neck hairs prickle again, ever so slightly.

“You are cute, quiet boy.  I’d be willing to tell you anything you want to know.”

“Really?  Why did you attack Cair Tellos, then?”

“No choice.  Kronomarke forced me to.”

“Even though you knew it was a suicide mission?”

“There are others whose lives mean more to me than my own, and he has power over them.”

“And he won’t hurt them after you are dead?”

At that moment Mickey groaned and sat up, rubbing his sore head.  “Why’d you do that, Bob?”

“I was hoping to convince you to help me save them.  But that was before I knew that everyone was a court jester in Cair Tellos,” she said to me, ignoring Mickey.

Before I could reply to either of them, Master Eli came back into the lab with a plastic bottle, one that was a stolen piece from the doll house of the old lady who lived on the eastern edge of the Slow Ones’ town.  The bottle was filled with smoke.  And two reddish eyes peered at us through the smoke in the bottle.

Master Eli gave the bottle directly to the girl.

“What’s this?”

“That’s Kackenfurchtbar, turned into a bottle imp by alchemy.  Did you know his name translates to “Horrible Poop?”

“Hmm, well, he is a demon.  It would have to mean something pretty icky.”

“Why did you give that demon back to her?”  I asked.

“Because I control it by his demon’s name now.  And it is technically transformed into a lie-detector for the time being.  As long as it is in the cage with her, she cannot tell us a lie without it telling us the truth of it.”

“Oh, crumbs!”  she said softly, while still being emphatic enough to deserve an exclamation point when I wrote about it in my journal later.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 6

The Cage

They put one of those magic-absorbing collars around my neck and tied a leash to it.  Then they gave the leash over to the quiet boy in the blue jerkin while the mouse-boy and the gnarled old sorcerer tied my hands behind my back.

“So, can we learn sex magic by using this captive?” said the rather loud and obnoxious mouse-boy.

“Shut up, Mickey,” said the sorcerer.  “There’s no such thing as sex magic.”

Of course, the sorcerer was wrong about that.  I had learned necromantic sex magic from the necromancer.  He had taught me the life-force-sucking kiss spell from the goblins he let me suck dry to practice.  He also taught me the full-body magic transfer.  If the sorcerer knew that, it must’ve been the reason he lied to the mouse-boy.

The quiet boy led me by the leash, but only very carefully, not trying to jerk me forward or make the leash hurt me.  He had golden hair and the prettiest blue eyes I had ever seen on a Sylph boy.  His blue jerkin had a sign sewn to the front that read, “Never kick the apprentice if the master is near.”  He wasn’t wearing pants under the jerkin, only a white loin cover that he apparently had tucked in carefully.  I admired his firm, round buttocks.  But, of course, I wasn’t about to tell him that.

They took me into the castle in the willow tree.  And my mouth surely dropped open at the sight.  It was beautiful. 

The iron gate was built into the roots of the tree with gatehouse towers carved directly out of the willow wood.  But, no… not carved… shaped by magic, as I sensed with my magic tingle.

The inner court was all carved wood, as the willow was practically hollow all the way up to where the limbs branched away into the darkness above.  The numerous stairs, landings, walkways, and castle-room facades were all lit by fairy candles which were both small, and exceedingly bright.

“This is our home, Derfentwinkle,” said the quiet boy.

He knew my name?  And that was how the sorcerer took my power over Kack, the Demon Head, away from me.  I resolved to learn their names next.  I knew the mouse-boy was Mickey.

“It’s nothing like the mudhole where I live,” I said.  “What is your name, quiet boy?”

“Don’t tell her, Bob.  She doesn’t need to know it.”

“Shut up, Mickey.  My name is Bob.  As the wererat just told you.”  He smiled at me, and a thrill went down my spine.

The sorcerer led us all up a winding stair that led to an audience chamber.  There was a big, burly Sylph sitting on the throne, but he was no mere warrior-king.  The pentagram on his chest glittered with magical energy.  I got a powerful tingle from it.  He was definitely a wizard… and definitely the boss here.  Why was he sitting on the throne of Wotan, the deceased Erlking?

The sorcerer then pulled me in front of him.

“This girl is Derfentwinkle, the necromancer’s apprentice.  It turns out that her master is old Bluebottom, my former classmate, better known to you as Kronomarke, waster of time and slayer of the Good Knight Pollinard.”

“She was driving the bone-walker?”

“Yes, with the help of a severed demon head to use as a repository of her master’s magic.”

“And why haven’t you killed her yet, Eli?”

The question chilled me to the bone.  The wizard’s guards stepped forward, lowering their halberds.

“Because I chose not to.  She’s my captive.  I choose to keep her for whatever usefulness she might have.  She knows little magic and is not a danger to us.”

“I hope you are right about that, Eli Tragedy.  Your very name means you can be disastrously wrong.”

“She’s really quite plain-looking, ugly even…” remarked a fat, bug-like Pixie courtier.

I glared at him until he turned his stupid bug eyes towards his fat ladybug wife.

“Very well, then.  But keep her safely in the cage you built to hold the harpy Sir Launcelot captured during the last siege.”

Up to that point, I had believed I could escape any time I really wanted to.  But a cage built to hold a harpy?  I would never escape that with lockpicking skills.  And what if the harpy was still inside? 

My mind was made up, however.  If they weren’t going to kill me immediately, then I didn’t intend to escape.

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The Necromancer’s Apprentice… Canto 5

Mickey’s Little Gambit

We had to walk for a considerable distance in the leafy, greenish-blue shade of the soybean field until we located the errant skull.  We were not alone of course.  Master Eli recruited a half-dozen Gingerbreads as scouts to help us locate the thing and make sure the bone-walker’s pilot didn’t escape alive.

Gingerbreads, as I’m sure you probably already know, are actually fairy golems.  Their bodies are gingerbread-boy-and-gingerbread-girl cookies baked by the cook-witch Gretel, Anneliese’s mother.  The souls that inhabit the cookie-bodies are the spirits of children murdered in Nazi death camps during a slow-one event apparently known as Were-Wore Two over in what the fairies call the Continent of Cernunnos the Horned One and Wotan the Wise.  They were gingerbread-cookie fairies that, if any animal or slow one bit a bite out of them, could immediately grow it back from the stores of magical gingerbread dough stored in Cair Tellos.

It was a gingerbread boy named Johan that located the skull and took us straight to it.

It was Master Eli Tragedy, Mickey the Wererat, and me that moved to surround the skull and its occupants with the six gingerbreads.

But I caught my breath when I saw her.  It wasn’t a little green wartole, or one-eyed Cyclopes that had been piloting the bone-walker, but a nude, young Sylph girl, holding what looked like a demon skull and talking to a pair of full-sized crows.

“So, what’s going on here?” roared Master Eli.  “You are not a Gobbulun!”

“Call me later, Derfy!  I can hear your thoughts.  Gotta fly now!” said one of the two crows as they both turned and flapped away.

The girl turned to look at us.  Her eyes were cold and gray, but they were also streaming with tears.

Eli pointed his magic wand at her with his finger tightly on the trigger.  “Confess, child.  How did the necromancer come to send the likes of you?”

“You are going to kill me anyway.  So, why should I tell you anything?”

“How is it that you were able to make a non-magical crow talk?  Your demon-head doesn’t normally have a power like that.  Tell me, or I use the dragonfyre in this wand upon you.”

“I don’t know.”


“I said I don’t know.”

Eli lifted the wand higher as if he was going to incinerate her.  But, of course, he wasn’t.  There was only one charge left in the wand, and he wanted to save it.  It was unclear to me if he even had any reloadable charges for it.

“Tell me the name of your little demon head, and I will let you live for a little while longer.”

“No.  I won’t tell you that so you can control the master’s demon head.”

“My name is Kackenfurchtbar.  Please don’t kill my Derfentwinkle.  I love her,” said the demon skull with the broken horn.

I looked at Mickey and he looked at me.  Both of us had our mouths hanging open and our eyes nearly bugged out.

“Kack, why did you…?”

“Kackenfurchtbar, you will now only take commands from me, the great and powerful Sorcerer, Eli Tragedy!”

“Dammit, Kack!”

“Yes, oh, great and powerful Sorcerer, Eli Tragedy.”

“So, now you are finally gonna kill me?” she said softly to Master Eli.

“No, probably not,” said Master Eli.

“Oh, good!  Does that mean we can use her to learn necromantic sexual practices and try them out on her?”

“Don’t be gross, Mickey,” I scolded.

“Mickey, whatever you and Bob decide to do with her on your spare time is between the three of you.  You will not abuse a captive, no matter what else you do.  And you know I give you two very little spare time.”

“Yes, Master,” Mickey said glumly.

“Kackenfurchtbar, what is the name of the necromancer?”

“Kronomarke, Necromancer to the Kingdom of the Valley-Eaters, and servant of the mighty King Stoor.”

“Oh, of course it is.  Old Blue-bottom from Mistress Schulelehrer’s school for cursed youngsters.  I knew the principal should’ve put him to death in the second grade for eating a classmate.”

“You know the necromancer?” I asked.

“Personally?” asked Mickey.

“I had Basic Runes classes with him about six hundred years ago.  Ugliest damned kid in whole cursed school.”

“If you went to school with Kronomarke, why does he hate you so much?” asked the girl.

“Oh, told you about me, did he?  By name?”


“Ah, that’s a lie.  My truth spell tells me you know about his oath of vengeance.”

“You don’t have a truth spell.  At least, not active.”

“And how would you know that?”

“My magic tingle wasn’t tingling at any time during this whole encounter.  And the electrical tingle I get is always accurate.”

“So, how could you possibly know that Bluebottom hates me more than any other boy from the whole cursed school?  Are you a mind-reader?”

“Yes.  Pretty much.”

“Kackenfurchtbar?  How did Miss Doofy-Twinkle make that crow talk?”

“The crow claims to be her natural familiar.”

“I see.  She has magical potential herself.  Does Bluebottom know about that?”

“Not that he ever told me.  I was only his fifteenth-best demon-slave when I was alive. And he sent us both on a suicide mission.”

“Ooh!  Can we keep her?  I will feed her and take care of her, and… um, she can even sleep in my bed,” shouted Mickey.

“We will keep her for a while anyway.  I can put her in the iron cage we use for monsters and keep her there for a while.”

“Ooh!  Good, good, good!” crowed Mickey.

“Bob, you, of course, will be in charge of the keys to the cage.  You and Mickey will find out what magic she knows instinctively and write it all down in scrolls.”

“Yes, Master Eli, sir.”

“There you go again with the sir stuff.”  Master Eli smiled at me. 

I took charge of the prisoner, and we headed back to Cair Tellos. The gingerbreads surrounded us to protect us with their peppermint swords.

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