The usual warning apply, rough draft, bad language, worse grammar. Hope you enjoy!
Sam ignored her and started talking, “Alright. So, in the 1930s there was this necromancer, a real evil bastard too. When he wasn’t giving kittens cancer or taking up two parking spots with his Model T, he caused the Dust Bowl and all the fun that went along with it.”
“Wait, wasn’t that just drought and shitty farming methods?” asked Stirling.
“Oh, they were a big part of the problem, but the real nail in the coffin was this guy, Francais King. The story goes that he was trying to blackmail the Alchemist Guild but when they didn’t give him what he wanted, he cursed the wind. The actual wind!” Samson sounded more than a little impressed at the prospect. Sue shook her head.
“The trick was strong enough so that wherever the wind blew, things dried up and died. The rain stopped, and a hundred million acres of land were uninhabitable for years. It wasn’t just here either, it spread all across to the closer worlds in the Aether. It took the strongest alchemists and magicians years to bring him down and neutralize the curse. It started a war between the Necromancers and the Alchemists that took eight years to win and hundreds of thousands dead.”
“Ever since then, Necromancy has become a bad word in supernatural circles, especially with the alchemists. They’ve made it clear that it’s open season on any and all necromancers. If you ask me though, Necromancy by itself isn’t evil, it’s the intent behind it. It’s like that goat-fucker joke, you can do all kinds of awesome things, but fuck up once and people remember it.”
“I don’t think I know that joke,” said Stirling.
Sam grinned and began, “An old man walks into a pub in Scotland. His back is bent, and he has a cane in his withered hand. It looks like the weight of the world is on his poor old shoulders. He drags himself up onto a stool and orders a pint. Placing the glass in front of him, the bartender asks him what’s wrong, and the old man says, ‘Let me tell ya, lad. This pub, this pub we're just sittin’ in right now, I built it, with me own two hands! But do they call me the Angus the Pub-builder? Noo, they don’t!’”
It sounded like Sam had attended, then failed, online classes at the Dick Van Dyke School of British accents. Stirling thought was strange, being recovering Irish himself, Stirling thought Sam would have had a better handle on British accents.
“‘See the wall over there,’” Sam went on in his travesty of an accent, “‘the wall that protects our town? I built it, stone by stone, for a whole year with me own two hands! But do they call me Angus the Wall-builder? Naa laddie, they don’t! And the bridge that crosses yon river, I built it, with me own two hands, plank by plank, day by day, in the pouring rain and wind! But do they call me Angus the Bridge-builder? Naa, they don’t! BUT YOU FUCK ONE GOAT!’” There Sam stopped, an expectant look on his face.
Stirling laughed, Sue huffed through her nose, and Dimitri looked at them with an expression like he’d just caught a whiff of something strange. “So you’re saying that necromancers just want to fuck goats?” He cast a wary glance at Stirling.
“No,” replied Sam, “What I’m saying is that it’s human nature to remember your screw-ups and none of the good, even when the good shouldn’t necessarily be forgotten.”
“So says you and every other wanna-be capable of throwing a trick and dressing in black,” Dimitri scoffed. “What Sam here also isn’t telling you, is that in nearly every city across the Aether, there are badly-lit clubs where the misunderstood and glum dress in black, experiment with different flavours of kink, and call themselves Necromancers. Hell, I saw some in the front room when we came in here. Nothing freaks out the straights in the Alchemy Guild like a gaggle of sexed up, wanna-be death magicians. I swear, each and every one of them looks like a reject from the porn folder on Tim Burton’s laptop.”
“How do you know Tim Burton has a porn file?” Sue asked defensively. “Tim Burton probably isn’t a pervert like you.”
Dimitri looked at her with a pitying expression, “Oh, my sweet summer child, every guy has a porn file, or at the very least, a list of website addresses. Take it from a guy who knows.”
She looked at Sam who just nodded in agreement and shrugged his shoulders.
“But why?” she asked, sounding genuinely curious, “The Internet is a fountain of porn that never runs dry.”
“How can you trust that the connection won’t drop,” said Stirling simply.
Sue stared at them.
“And speaking of porn,” said Dimitri, breaking the silence, “there’s a whole genre of romance novels about misunderstood Necromancers whisking the heroine away for nights of sizzling, kinky death-sex. “La Petite Morte,” was a bestseller in Asphodel for nearly a year.”
“Romance novels aren’t porn,” said Sue, scowling, “they’re literature.”
“They can be both,” said Stirling. “I don’t judge.”
“But they aren’t,” said Sue stiffly.
“Do you read them?” asked Stirling.
“So what if I do?”
Stirling walked over to her knitting bag on a hunch. “Do you mind?” he asked, and without waiting for an answer, reached in and pulled out a paperback with an impossibly muscular male torso on the cover. Stirling made a production of thumbing the book so the pages could fan open. He placed a finger between the pages with the largest gap, cleared his throat, and began reading:
“‘God, Daryl!’ she gasped in ecstasy. ‘He drove his tongue into her molten depths and danced it over her throbbing sweet spot, she was so close now…’”
Sue leapt out of her chair and grabbed the book from his hands. He let go without a fight, grinning at her. She spun to Sam and Dimitri who were howling with laughter.
“It’s not funny,” she said, stuffing the book back into her bag, “and it’s not porn!”
“So in these books, the Necromancers don’t sparkle, do they?” asked Stirling.
“No, their eyes flash darkly,” Dimitri grumbled, “as if that even makes sense! How can something dark, flash!?”
Sam looked at Dimitri in surprise.
“What? That’s what I heard.”
“No, I’m just surprised you read anything other than coding manuals.”
“Ha ha, oh my sides, oh you are so funny,” said Dimitri, deadpan.
“None of this solves our little problem,” broke in Sue, her face still flushed. “Remember? Dead woman in the park? Madame Rag and Mister Bone after you?”
Sue graced Stirling with a raised eyebrow and continued. “If you didn’t murder the woman in Memorial Park, then as our only potential necromancer,” she gave Dimitri a sour look, “someone else is trying to pin it on you. Since only a few people even know about you, it’s a pretty safe guess who’s behind it. My question is, if they were trying to recruit you a couple hours ago, why are Rag and Bone trying to kill you now? What changed?”
“Well, I did call her a psycho, and told her to fuck herself,” said Stirling thoughtfully.
“And I ran over Bone,” Dimitri added, just as thoughtfully.
“It seems like a bit of a stretch to commit a murder just to frame you, though,” said Sam. “Those two seem like the type who like their revenge up close and personal.”
“Rag and Bone don’t really put much value on human life,” said Dimitri. “The woman in Memorial Park might just be a victim of opportunity. They get off on killing people, you know… Like sexually,” he added after a beat, just in case his point wasn’t clear.
“Those are just rumours,” said Sam.
“No, they aren’t,” said Sue with a sick look on her face.
“Really?” asked Dimitri, “how do you know?”
“Dude, I don’t want to get into it, but not just rumours, take my word for it, those two really are monsters.”
“What about their boss, the guy Rag wanted me to work for?” said Stirling.
“That would be Knox, Alchemist of the White,” said Dimitri. “It’s the worst kept criminal secret in the Aether that they work for him.”
Sue looked in the direction of the front door sourly. “We have more arrivals. I think tonight’s going to get busy.” She looked over at Sam, “You up for some overtime?”
Sam glanced over to Stirling, and Stirling was struck with the unfamiliar notion that someone actually wanted to hang around with him.
Sue caught the look as well. “Come on, you can be a necro fanboy on your break, right now there are paying customers, and Stefan’s the only one on tonight. Put the coffee on.”
“What should we do?” asked Dimitri.
“Stay here and lock the door,” said Sue. “We’ll be back once we get people settled in but I don’t think it would be a good idea for you to mingle. Sorry to say, but that picture of you on The Sand Network has ruined your big coming out party. Maybe consider shaving your head.”