Necromancers know a lot about history. This is not a bit of trivia to win a tavern bet on, though you can and probably will if it comes up. To be precise, they know all about the great battles of the past. Where they took place, who was involved, how many died, and so on.
You may see where this is going. When a Necromancer wants to raise an army, why not go to where the dead are already armed and ready to fight? It’s a terrifying thought but it’s highly practical.
If Exhaultia had a motto it might be, “Work Smarter, Not Harder.” Coming in second would be, “Dead Things Are Better Things.” In any case, this evening found her at the mist-covered field where the War of the Wheel had ended, some three thousand, six hundred and seventy-nine years ago.
Accounts were that it was an especially brutal battle with many, many casualties. Scholars called this the dumbest war in all history given that the Hill People wanted the secret of the wheel from the Folk of the Valley, even though the wheel is the simplest device in all of recorded history, and if you just took a moment to look at a wheel, it’s pretty obvious how it works. A very stupid war, but not the stupidest.
Exhaultia prepared the ritual to raise the skeletal remains a tall figure emerged from the darkness.
“Good… Evening,” smoothly said Vampire Lord Pfantus.
She leaned back, kissed him, and replied, “And to you my darling.”
He grinned and his fangs glinted in the moonlight. Pfantus was an old-school vampire. He didn’t brood or long for his lost humanity. He revels in being a monster. She sometimes wondered if he became that way when he was turned or if he was a right bastard beforehand. Eventually, she decided that it really didn’t matter.
“I adore watching you practice your craft,” Pfantus purred.
“It is nice to be appreciated,” she replied as she carved the forbidden runes into a twisted hunk of deadwood.
“We alone, appreciate the utter beauty of… death.”
Exhaultia giggled. It was not a sound she normally made. Even when she was a schoolgirl. Her laughter was of a more chilling variety. But there was something about this Vampire that bought it out in her.
As she poured grave water into a mini-caldron (It was easy to take on the road), she inquired, “I take it you have good news for me?”
Pfantus did not reply. Exhaultia turned and regarded him with a cold stare.
“It’s not bad news, exactly.”
“What. Is. It. Exactly?”
Even though he no longer could be cold, her tone lowered the temperature around them.
“I plead your case to the Vampiric Clans-” he began.
“And they are more than willing to kill any Goblin that trespasses on their lands without leave. So that’s a plus. However, they will not turn a Goblin into a Vampire.”
“Honestly, Goblins taste terrible.”
“That’s ridiculous, blood is blood!” Exhaultia declared with confidence.
“If that were true, Vampires would be the largest cattle and sheep ranchers in the land. We Nosferatu have refined palettes.”
“Well, la-dee-da! We need an army of Goblin vampires so do what you do best and suck it up!”
“It tastes like… Dung.”
“What?” sputtered the necromancer.
“Goblin blood tastes like dung to a Vampire. No one is willing to do it.”
Exhaltia made an exasperated growl and said, “At least they are willing to kill Goblins.”
Her eyes flashed black, which was less impressive at night.
“You said that they were willing to kill any Goblin?”
“What I said was that they were willing to kill any Goblin that trespasses on their lands without leave. I should add that some envoys from the DHGOFG have offered a non-aggression pact. Since we don’t drink them, everyone thought it was a fair agreement.”
“Since when did Vampires make ‘fair’ deals?”
“The feeling was that this whole business with the Goblins is a more of a living people problem.”
“Fine,” she said, “Everything is fine.”
Clearly, it was not.
“I didn’t know that you hated the Goblins so,” remarked Pfantus.
“I don’t,” she said as she made a circle of pulverized bone around her.
“Then why all this,” the Vampire asked, gesturing at the elaborate ritual she was assembling.
“I’m proving a point.”
Pfantus, hoping that taking an interest in her plans would smooth things over asked, “What point?”
“That the dead are better servants than the living.”
“What do you mean, exactly?” asked the Vampire.
“Until they rebelled, every Warlord and Fell Wizard used Goblins as guards and servants,” Exhaultia said as she executed an intricate pattern of arcane gestures.
“Yes, of course.”
“The problem is, that they have free will.”
“And so the Society of the Night finds itself both high and dry.”
She turned, stared at him, and asked, “So you understand then?”
“Absolutely… Not. Sorry, I just don’t understand.”
“Which would you rather have, an army that would obey your every command without question or one that might decide to run off with your treasure at the drop of a hat?”
“The first one!”
“Very good my love,” she said with a smile, “Once I explain this to the Society of the Night, everyone will want my army of the living dead.”
He almost pointed out the flaws of this plan. How an army might send the wrong message. That most other wizards held necromancy in low esteem. Additionally, it was very likely that Exhalutia had already pitched the idea to her sister, and had gone very badly. Many evenings had been spent listing to her litany of her familial grievances.
Then, in his mind’s eye, Pfantus pictured legions upon legions of reanimated warriors marching across the Land. Would there be blood? Oh my yes! Rivers of it. Chaos and death would follow. This is why he fell for her in the first place.
“My Queen of the Night! This truly will bring you everything you desire,” he whispers as he enveloped her in his bat wings.
As they kissed, the dead began to rise.