Awake and Dreaming

Bob the Necromancer

A story heard while frequenting a local tavern.

He was a cheery man. Whenever anyone asked his name he always responded the same, “Bob, and your name?” He lived by himself on the edge of the town running a good business incinerating people as part of the local tradition of cremation. His house was of moderate size at the front of a large lot backed by a high earthen mound (none remember a time it wasn’t there). Rumors wandered the town; that he was secretly rich, that he collected magical objects, and that his furnace was magically powered, etc. however no-one could confirm or deny them (another elusive piece of information was his age). On days when he wasn’t preparing a body he could be depended upon to watch the local children, and from the word of the children he was quite the accomplished storyteller. On those rare days when no-one died and no children needed watching (and sometimes even then) he could be seen practicing with a massive longbow sending arrow after into target posts he’d driven into the ground near the great pile of dirt. Occasionally he would host archery contests or carve hunting bows for sale in the market. Among Bob’s oddities, one often struck many as the oddest, when merchants came to town he’d always buy up large quantities of cloth as well as all the iron, copper, bronze, and other raw metals that the blacksmith couldn’t afford or just didn’t buy. It was never very much at a time, for the village was far from any mining settlements, but the odd purchases were are regular as the sunshine. When asked about them he’d just smile and say, “its for a little project of mine…”

One spring a merchant drove his cart in with the new of a massive band of orks wandering through the land pillaging and razing whole villages to the ground, and that the band was working its way in the general direction of the town. This was immediately the subject of much discussion. A week passed and they started coming, a steady stream of refugees filed through the town one way and some eight-hundred soldiers of the local noble the other. News reach the town a fortnight later of the staggering defeat of the soldiers in an ambush, along with three survivors.

When the local children spoke fearfully of this news to Bob, he told the children wait outside while he went and got some things. When he returned he had belted an old looking sword and a quiver of arrows. With the children in tow the man walked to the home of the town magistrate and knocked upon the door. The magistrate himself answered.

“What is the meaning of this?” his gaze took in Bob’s weaponry, “are we under attack, WHAT IS IT!?!?!” It has been a trying time for everyone, especially the magistrate whose duty it was to see to town affairs.

“This business with the orks is causing problems and I don’t like it. Its scaring the children.” The magistrate looked confused by this odd statement and was about to speak when Bob cut him off, “I’d like to put a stop to it, but i’ll need the cooperation of the town.” The civic leader looked at him silently for a moment.

“You, a lone old man? What can you do, or do you have an army hidden away?” Bob just smiled and said, “Open the main road out of town an hour before dark, then you shall see.” He turned and left the magistrate standing at his door, dumfounded look and all.

Later the word was given that the road be cleared for important town business. At his house the children watched Bob walk to the back of his lot and start digging out the front of the mound he and others had used as an arrow backstop for years. By evening he had uncovered a large door of aged wood bound in steel. He opened it and disappeared inside. When he reemerged what followed him was a sight that would live forever in the minds of all who saw, for he lead a great horde of undead warriors.

First came over a hundred ranks, ten abreast of preserved undead wearing spotless plates of steel armor, in each rank was adorned with its own symbol of fire inlaid in copper on their breastplate, or of a silver star, each carried a hand-and-a-half sword and shield. Behind them came the skeletons, over two thousand of them, each one reinforced with banding of iron along the spine and limbs, all of them carried a longbow and quiver loaded with black arrows as well as a menacing hammer, behind them trotted some ten “horses” reanimated pack beasts loaded greatly with more quivers of arrows. The last and smallest group numbered no more than three dozen, undead again, clad in cloaks of black patterned in silver, from within ebon shrouds darkened plates of armor glinted faintly, and slung about them was an array of implements of death, all of which glowed faintly even to the eyes of the mortals watching.

At the end of town the magistrate stood awestruck at the sight of “harmless old Bob the fixture of town, the guardian of children, and the dead” marching while surrounded by laughing children and followed by a legion. “See” said one child loudly to his parents, “his stories ARE true he even let me help with some of these.”

“Look it’s great grandpa” said a little girl as one of the undead, without missing a step, drew and waved his sword in salute at the little girl and her family, who promptly fainted. The magistrate looked at the child then at the man and then back again. The necromancer halted his army before him, bow in hand.

“The eternal Legion, at your service. All volunteers accounted for and awaiting your leave to depart and do what must be done…”

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neziritch

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