Carrion Fields

Ig-Gnome-iny by Tahren

"Not much further, now," I assured my diminutive companion. Gnomes must be the most wretchedly annoying creatures the gods ever contrived. Hmm...with the exception, perhaps, of high elves. Yes, high elves, with their holier-than-thou egos, and their pointy ears and their...pointy ears. I hate those pointy ears.

"But my FEET are TIRED," the little gnome complained in his whiny, high-pitched voice. "Who are we meeting again? Where ARE we?"

I sighed. We'd been over this already. Three times. "We're meeting a warrior named..." What had I told him? "Nalpak." Close enough.

"Where are we GOING? My FEET hurt. I'm getting HUNGRY. Can we stop for FOOD?"

By the Gods, did this creature ever shut up? "We're meeting him in Seantryn Modan. From there, we'll travel by boat until we reach the volcano."

"Aren't volcanoes HOT? I don't LIKE hot. I'm THIRSTY."

"Rest assured, my little friend, there is a fresh spring just ahead."

The road wound into and through a sparse forest. It was little more than a wide trail in places, but ahead I recognized the dense stand of trees that marked the spring. A few more moments, and we had covered the distance.

The trees were tightly packed, and were flourishing with life. Flora of all kinds enjoyed the fresh water, creating a sort of forest oasis. Critters scurried about, scrambling out of our way as we stomped toward the spring. The braver ones were used to travelers, and stood in plain sight. I chuckled to myself. Braver? Dumber. They'd make a fine meal for some hungry hunter.

With a crash, my gnomish companion dropped his pack and waddled to the woodland spring. He knelt and took a few drinks from his cupped hand, slurping and gurgling and making all kinds of satisfied, disgusting noises. Then he dipped a water skin into the pool, filling it for the long journey ahead.

It was then that I felt the arcane power tingling just below my skin. It was always a rush, the simultaneous heat and cold as I touched the mana flow. I whispered an incantation under my breath. It must not have been quiet enough; my gnomish friend stood and turned to look at me with those grotesquely large, inquisitive eyes. He had one hand inside his doublet, reaching for a dagger, no doubt.

"Hey, did you hear... Say, what are you -"

I pointed a crooked, scarred finger at him and gave him a simple command:


The dark energy accumulated in my body flowed forth, emphasizing the urgency of my command. The gnome's eyes went wide with shock (and a touch of horror - that was always satisfying). His body went rigid briefly, as the dark magic dissolved his brain. Then, he limply slumped to the ground. Dead.

It was perfect. The body was unmarred by combat. I worked swiftly, chanting incantations and tracing runes in the air over the still form. Those brave woodland critters? Silent. Gone. The ambiance was suddenly oppressive and dark. My concentration was blissfully unbroken.

Sweat beaded upon my forehead. The spell was complex, and every word had to be just right. But I was nearing the end. My hands weaved a final rune, the darkest of arcane energy flowing from them and into the corpse. With the final word, I stopped and watched.


Then, the gnomish corpse's arm twitched. Followed by one stumpy leg. Slowly, it bent backwards in a creepy, unnatural way, and forced itself up onto its two legs. It held its head cocked at an angle, dead eyes peering through me as it awaited my command. My grin was wide enough to touch both ears.

And the best part about the animated dead: they never, ever speak. Ever.

Welcome to the Carrion Fields. Where, for some, death is only the beginning.

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