Merethyl, the dryad traded to Oliver in a macabre deal for power, stared blankly at the wall for another hour. Inscrutable, distant, veiled in green magic in the guise of a ravishingly beautiful vampire, she had followed his every command without word or complaint. Her answers to Oliver’s questions were curt and unfriendly. He hadn’t been looking for a friend, per se, but he knew enough of leadership that one could rule through fear or love, but never dispassion.
A thought for another time. For now, she had performed her task of forming a shelter for them admirably. Oliver, Wigalf, Merethyl and Sigurd huddled in the shadow of an impromptu hut formed by the dryad’s green magics. Branches and roots from the nearby trees bent to form the walls, emerged from the earth to shape chairs and tables, even arched to form a delicate door. In the light of Wigalf’s everburning candle, Oliver could see the glances his apprentice gave the door each time they heard the roar of a crowd.
“Focus,” said the necromancer, “Rollo’s victory is assured, and with it, our safety in the Von Carstein camp.”
Wigalf feigned comfort, returning to his book. In truth, he was confident that Roderick would take him back but the young human would also lose his only edge on the other apprentices. This Necrarch was entirely too permissive with his knowledge! It was only a matter of time before he would entrust Wigalf with the Grimoire.
Oliver stood at once, closed the Grimoire and stalked wordlessly out of the hut. No one was sure if they should follow or not, but he seemed to stop outside.
“You!” Oliver pointed at a Crypt Horror in the distance. The lumbering creature, scarcely more than a lump of shadow in the night, indistinguishable from all the other lumps of shadow in the army, froze completely and turned its burning red eyes toward the necromancer. Oliver snapped and pointed at his feet. The beast instinctively resisted his command, employed as it was by other magics, but Oliver overcame them through sheer force of will. It obeyed and trundled over to him.
Oliver opened the Grimoire to a page he had held with a finger, gave a quick glance at the runes, nodded, looked back up to the Crypt Horror, and unraveled the aether which bound it. It blinked, flared its nostrils and slowly opened its maw, free of all its bindings. At long last the beast would taste the flesh of its oppressors, would hunt as its instincts demanded rather than be diminished to some fodder for a cause it couldn’t comprehend.
Or, as would be the case, it would be reduced to ashes in an instant when Oliver loosened the rest of the moorings which held its spirit to this world. It was immediately shunted to the chaotic winds of magic, disintegrated just as it raised its claws to rend the small necrarch into pieces.
“It works,” Oliver said smugly, and with some surprise, “Quite satisfactorily. Do you think Sigmier will miss a crypt horror?”
“Can he do anything about it if he does?” came Wigalf’s response from inside.
“No he cannot. That, good Wigalf, is why you are wise to stay with me.”