Chapter 13 – Too Many Empty Graves

“People think of dying as something to fear. Death is a boring, bureaucratic matter. Just heaps of damned paperwork.” – Journal of Maron

Boros let out a bellowing yawn, stretching his trunk-like limbs in every direction, like a big, fat, ugly baby. The cloudless ceiling was light blue, while the desert looked like a field of sunflowers when he squinted his eyes. He took a deep, deep breath, filling his entire chest with fresh, hot morning desert air. Lazily, he grabbed a glance of the campsite, which was on another dune than where he’d slept. Boros liked sleeping alone, it was peaceful, and he liked sleeping late and waking up on his own time. This would’ve been utterly impossible with soldiers around who woke up early out of habit and routine. He reached for his enormous bag, his breakfast was in there somewhere. While stuffing his bearded face with juicy bread and a leather pouch of water, his curiosity was piqued. Smoke was rising from the camp, the puffs too large to come from a casual campfire. While feasting on his food and drink, his back resting on a thick blanket, contemplating what might’ve been going on, the area where the smoke rose from expanded. An entire patch of the desert was being burned black.

Do not read. this is ultra super early draft. everything subject to change.


The reapers and the monks had reached an agreement in the morning. They were overseeing the burning of the mining town villagers. Black cloth was whisking across the rotting patches. The death-dealers were embedding living flames on the bodies, which after a while of waiting, sprouted into a dance.

Magnus, the leader of the reapers, was standing beside Karma.

“You seem unburdened by their crude passing, monk”, Magnus uttered through his face-mask.

“I knew none of these people. Not even by name. And I have my own problems”, Karma replied.

“That should not matter. Even in strangers, you should see yourself in them”, the reaper commented.

“I am not taking an empathy lecture from a killer.”

“Your heart can remain open even as you kill. Structured thoughts make for organized feelings.”

“How do you reconcile using magic to kill mages? Is that not hypocritical?”

“There is no contradiction in our use of magic to hunt mages. We only use select words of the lexicon, in limited applications only. The Order is governed by internal rulesets that formulated through generations of iteration by the sharpest of minds.”

“I shudder to think of the scope of your operations.”

“We are a large organization, yes. We have existed longer than the three kingdoms.”

“I don’t understand something. Why is Nembra is so tight-lipped, but you’re telling me all this?”

“If she divulged secrets in her position, I’d cut her head off.”

“So you’re her boss.”

“Yes. I assigned her to this job as a chance to correct her mistake.”

Both fell silent, watching the flames consume the rotting flesh of the sea of corpses. It was not a peaceful river of souls, but a smoke-pushing carpet of blackening bones. The reapers whisked through the field, pouring flammable oils on every limb. The robed beings were barely visible to the naked eye, so fantastic was their speed.

“What will you do with the stone?”

“I know what reads on the stone. We bury it back, its prophecy comes to fruition uncontested. We leave it, there exists a tiny spec of a chance of something better. We honor the passed best by leaving it be. May it remain a monument to them.”

“And what will you do with me and my brother?”

“None of our options are good. Nonetheless, I have given heavy thought to these optional paths.”


“Once your quest is done, you two will join the Order. Seek a solution to his situation, then join us. That is the only technicality I can leverage to argue for an exemption to let you live… and Nembra shall be your escort. This solution is best, considering our various shortages.”

“You will not be monks at the end of your journey. You will be reapers.”

He conjured a parchment from thin air and whispered a spectral pen to appear between his fingers.

“Write your names here and here and our contract is in effect. I will see to its speedy filing personally.”



Magnus, we need to speak.

Excuse me, monk.


I’m seriously disturbed by the politeness of that reaper.

Tarot nodded.

If that’s how much he is open about, imagine the hideous secrets he is hiding… Let’s reconsider surrendering to them. Are we able to escape?

Tarot’s face was not one of agreement. He shook his head with a serious frown.

You’re right. And they have the spellbook now, and the head. They can cancel your transformation at will. We have no cards.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but our only hope… is Boros.


He was armored from top to bottom, marching at his own pace towards yet another battlefield. There was no stopping him after all his victories, his destiny was to conquer. Satisfied with this flavor of destiny, with its certainty and the inspiring nature of it, he marched with hammer on his shoulder, his bag on the other. Whatever had transpired at the camp, he was the right man to resolve it. It wasn’t a faraway destination, the walk was indeed relaxing. Grabbing glances at the sky, beautifully monotone and bright, it didn’t even take long for Boros to arrive triumphantly at the camp, the site of his next adventure. His next victory, it awaited him. He saw the burning pile of bodies, the gear they’d been stripped from in a pile next to them, he surveyed the naked pile of charred flesh and bones. No traces of faces he cared about. He strolled along, grinning widely.

He found a spot that was sufficiently high-ground and comfortable-looking to sit at. He sat down, laid down his bag and after a deep inhale, scanned the area with his gaze. The reapers…. were doing something.

The cloaks. He shouted at them from the distance:

“Hey, death-dealers! What happened here, huh?!”

The reapers stirred. His presence had taken them by surprise, how interesting!

He did a head count. There were six reapers that he saw.

They circled him.

“Your blades are spectral, right? They ain’t cuttin’ my wear. No magic does shit. So how about we discuss our next move together, like grown men?”

“There is no reason for hostilities, yes. We have reached an agreement.”

“Oh? Are the little faggots still onboard with the deal?”

“Come here, you tow. I wanna hear from ya’ll about this deal with death.”


“We have actually changed our minds.”

“What? Why? Tell me, what your reasons are.”

“Magnus, that what they call ya? The monks ain’t obligated to tell you their reasons. The boys are, after all, sovereign individuals.”

“They would greatly benefit from a guardian.”

“Yours truly can act as guardian.”

“Were you even awake when the younger one transformed?! You’re not equipped to handle their unique situations!”

“Neither are you.”

“I’ma make this simple for ya. You’ll hand over the head, the book, and that nice reaper lady will be your eyes and ears.”

“Magnus, you are too busy to handle this. You see that their intentions are genuine. I will stay with them, ensure they succeed and find a cure.”

“I am admittedly reluctant. But I am not unreasonable. May your journey be successful.”

“Isn’t it great to solve our differences without good old ultra violence?”


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