It was night, hundreds of military horsemen were travelling with lights everywhere, an oil lamp strapped on every soldier on a horse. It was not a subtle war effort. They were coming and they wanted the magi to know they were coming. At the back of a supply cart being pulled by horses, a conversation was taking place.
“What you suggest is madness! Throwing this world off balance is too easy, that’s why we need laws and enforces and a hierarchical system that ensures the rules are followed! One mage gone mad can turn everything upside down! There is no grey area to this! One brilliant mind, who reads too much, can upend the social order overnight. That’s clear shades of black and white!”
“And if the prevailing order stinks, like a toilet?”
“I’d rather have a stable dictatorship, than an anarchic democracy.”
“Okay, tell me this, faggot, why’s the choice between shit and crap? I reject your gay dichotomy!”
“Because… You drive me insane! You’re supposed to be a barbarian, no? How do you read so much?!”
“I get bored!”
“Then kill some things! Just stop reading nonsense!”
Their bickering was interrupted by the very sudden appearance of a woman in black. The three guys blinked in disbelief, for she had appeared out of nowhere, standing tall right before them, her man-sized scythe strapped behind her back. Without a greeting or explanation, she sat down with them on the carriage. Tarot scrambled to sit further from her. For one awkward moment, she was exchanging looks with them without a word.
“Your conversation was interesting. Would you summarize it?” she asked gently.
“We disagree on how free a society should be”, Karma replied.
“OH!! Actually, fuck, you got an insider perspective, right?” Boros blurted out.
“Yes I do”, she replied.
The guys waited for her to continue, but she did not. She said nothing further.
“So, what is your opinion? Do you support the monarchy?” Karma asked.
“I don’t concern myself with politics. I just kill mages”, she replied.
The guys waited for her to continue, but she did not. Again, she said nothing elaborative.
“Uhm… and is it fun..?” Boros asked.
“It must be done by someone”, she sighed.
“How many mages like the one we’re chasing have you dealt with? Can you handle this one?” Karma asked.
“I started cutting their heads off, so they don’t scream. Got tired of the screams”, she replied.
“What’s the name on you, woman?” Boros asked.
“I’ma guess ya stopped counting ’em. But my friend here asked, could ya estimate… kill count?” Boros inquired.
“Too many”, Nembra replied.
The guys shared baffled looks with each other. She seemed completely out of it at times. But while her lips barely let a word escape, her pose was steady, her posture disciplined, her body language indicated readiness. She glanced at the starry sky, and for a brief moment, her sorrow was visible. She shuddered at some thought, her composed frame slumping shortly before recovering.
“This necromancer…” Nembra said and paused.
“It is my fault that he walks”, she ended her thought.
One line after the other was unearthed as hours passed. Slumped on the ground, staring up at the imposing monolith, he kept reading them again and again, trying to understand the purpose of the ebon slab of stone. The piece of paper he was writing his interpretation on was filling slowly. His undead guards, axes in their hands, were surveying his every move, gnarling when he moved. His only motivation to do as he had been ordered to was to prolong his life, which felt like it was slipping away anyway.
The words on the stone made no sense to him, or rather, they had too many meanings. His mind felt split, at times hovering outside of the body, phasing in and out. Each time he phased out, he had more to write about. His white-haired companion was nearby, muttering to himself while inspecting the ruins, perhaps searching for items of interest, or merely admiring the ancient architecture. The magi seemed to be in awe with it, constantly muttering strange words the former commander never heard before.
The undead had grown in number noticeably. They were also working much faster, driven into some kind of unholy frenzy. At the infernal rate they were digging, the monument would be fully visible within a day.
“How’s the writing going?” the necromancer yelled, glancing over his shoulder at the decrepit man.
He marched up to him and grabbed the crummy paper from his hand. He read it swiftly, his lips moving in tandem with his eyes scanning the rows of text, he then handed the note back to the man.
“And to answer the question you can’t ask, it’s a safeguard. Eternal life is possible with magic, and they saw that as a flaw. So they ensured that anyone with the blood, who spoke the language, would never become so powerful as to throw this wretched world off-balance. They forced the choice between eternal life and absolute power”, the necromancer ranted.
“The Gods wanted us to live in paradise. That’s why they gave us rules, to manifest the design of the Gods socially. That is the purpose of the holy scriptures, that Tarot and I studied at the monastery. The texts explain the rules on how deeply we are allowed to study magic, before the sin of greed turns us into monsters”, Karma explained.
“So what your fag-ass is saying, the royal family are stewards of this shitty society of your gods?” Boros asked.
“They’re your Gods too, even if you never pray to them. The twins watch over us all, we are their children.”
“I just kill mages”, Nembra added.
“Call me an anarchist, fuck I care! I’m strongly of the opinion that, rather than control what bastards can and cannot read, everyone studies the darkest death magic, even novices. Let them learn how to summon fire and explode heads! Then, even the average mage can handle the job of mage killers, if one goes crazy. Problem fucking solved”, Boros stated.
The sands shook, the dunes shifted. Horses were panicking, falling ass-first from their feet, as were their screaming riders. In the distance, not too far from the military expedition, a gigantic hole the size of a town emerged. Moments later, from that hole rose something green and black and wrinkly, its skin writhing like a heap of worms. It had what seemed like eyes around its head, floating in the air at the end of appendages. In place of a mouth, it sported a beard of tentacles. Its carcass towered into the skies, its multidimensional shadow consumed the land around it, turning the golden sands into a lake of fire, burning in blue. Arms, it had four of them, their unfathomable size and strength shaking the ground, as the unnamed thing clawed itself up from the pit, to walk among the living. As everyone watched the giant monster raise its hulking upper body with its slithering tail to blot out the sky, there was an eerie silence among the debaters.
“There’s your counter-argument”, Nembra sighed.