The Game of Death

The Game of Death

A Story by Ashira Macy
"

Journeys don't always take you where you set out to go.

"

I stared in disbelief at the weathered letter in my hands. Thirteen years I had been banished to the Outlands for my crimes against natural order. Thirteen years I had been forced to scrounge for food and fresh dead so that I could continue on with my craft. Thirteen years I had been waiting for an opportunity like this one to arise.

 

A giddy laugh escaped me as I reread the Emperor’s flowery words. That crotchety old b*****d sure knew how to write, but when it came to asking for help it seemed as though he was rather inexperienced. It came off more like a command. The messenger who had delivered the letter shifted his weight and eyed me with a calculating gaze. He was nervous. I would be too if I were standing next to the most powerful necromancer in Grelek’s history. I flashed him a fanged smile, my bright teeth contrasting and malicious against my darkened skin. He shivered in the warm air.


“Well, shall we then? I have a dead princess to awaken,” I ground out, grinning as he shuddered at the thick pleasure lacing my vocal chords. I get off on my sorcery, I like feeling powerful. If he couldn’t handle dealing with Grelek’s most wanted then he should find another job.


“Um, yes. If we go through a portal from here it will take less than a week for us to walk the rest of the way,” he pulled out a traveler’s staff and readied himself to strike the ground with it before turning back to me, “do you have everything you need?”


I scoffed at him. I was an Outlander. Anything I had was kept on my person at all times.


He seemed to get the message and brought the staff down hard, piercing the cracked, dry earth. A crash of thunder sounded as the air in front of us ripped open, emitting a blinding blue light. As bright as it was, I couldn’t look away. I hadn’t seen a portal this close in years. I was finally going home. Tears welled up in my eyes, but I blinked them away as I followed the messenger into the light.


We walked for a few hours and I reacquainted myself with the sights, sounds, and smells of my homeland. The stupid boy kept trying to make light conversation, but I ignored him, listening instead to the chirping of birds. The Outlands had no living animals, just long dead ones. Bringing decaying life back is no fun and it smells. I thought about squeezing the life out of one of the pretty black birds that fluttered by so that I could have a new pet, but I reconsidered. I wasn’t out of trouble yet and I couldn’t risk angering the Emperor before I had leverage.


I dropped out of my reverie to find that the boy was still jabbering on about… Reaper knows what. One nice thing about the Outlands: there was no one to talk my ear off. I continued to say nothing, hoping that if he didn’t get a response he would desist. He didn’t.


“Oh, what the hell are you on about?” I exploded, “Do you know who I am? What makes you think I am interested in your trifles?”


The boy stopped talking and looked back at me, hurt shone in his eyes, though he didn’t start to cry, which is more than I would have given him credit for.


“You are Alvirash of the Dark Clan. The only person to successfully bring someone back from the dead completely, soul and all,” he began in an even tone, “my apologies if I seem overzealous. I wrote my thesis on you, but I never thought I would get the chance to actually meet you.”


This took me by surprise, and a million questions went through my mind. The Emperor sent a scholar to fetch Grelek’s most notorious criminal? This stick of a boy was old enough to have written a thesis? In my years away I was still the only one who had perfected the craft? My eyes pierced the back of his head as we continued our walk, willing him to explain but he stopped talking and I was too proud to ask.


We stopped for the night and I watched as he tried to start a fire with his clumsy hands, rolling my eyes as he burned himself and screeched. I thought of the emperor’s daughter, and how difficult it was going to be to bring her back. Reanimating corpses to do my bidding was one thing, but bringing a soul back from the Reaper’s collection would drain me for a year at least. The Reaper took my power as payment. Nothing is free when magic is involved. Still, a chance at being free once again, with an army of undead servants was too tempting. I would trade years of my power for that kind of freedom.


The boy gave me bread, cheese and wine and I accepted, devouring them like a starving animal. I had forgotten how good they tasted, and the wine made my head feel nice and light. I leaned against a deadened tree and closed my eyes. Brushing my raven hair from my face I made a mental note to chop the matted mass off once I earned my freedom.


“So Scholar, why did they send you and not a guard?”


I heard his sharp intake of breath, “I- my name is Draedon. Why do you think I am not a guard?”


I opened my eyes to look at him. He was shorter than I, and thinner. He didn’t have the build of an elf. He had the flaming orange hair that I would associate with a fire sprite, though the way he had handled the fire told me otherwise. His pale face had darkened from the wine and he was looking at me with the curiosity of a child.


I laughed, “Have you seen yourself boy? You’re no guard.”


He snorted before nodding, “Yeah I would expect nothing less from the great Alvirash. You always were a fantastic detective.”


I suppressed the urge to point out that one didn’t need to be a detective to see he wasn’t a guard. I waited for him to continue.


“I guess you could say that I am the world’s leading expert on you and your exploits,” he looked away from me, flushing a darker red than the wine could have inspired, “I have followed your work for two decades.”


I raised an eyebrow at this. I was a criminal, and a bad one at that. I had taken over villages, slaughtered people so that I could use them as puppets, and laughed as I made the dead dance in front of their crying loved ones, all for my own amusement. Life was a game to me, just like death was. People didn’t like that philosophy.


Draedon shifted in the awkward silence before breaking it again, “I mean, I am not a fan of the slaughter… just the way you harness the power. You can bring someone back to life, steal them from the Reaper’s grip-“


“I don’t steal,” I bit out a vicious growl, glaring at him, “I barter with the Reaper.”


He surprised me by grinning and pulling out a piece of parchment and a pen, “See, this is why it is so exciting to be around you! You can explain the things I don’t know about your work! Clear up inconsistencies!”


Reaper, this kid was so annoying it was almost endearing. Against my better judgment I decided to show off. I put my hands flat against the dead tree I was slumped against, and muttered my spell. Draedon flinched and I knew my pupils had bled into the rest of my eye, making them look like black holes. As I concentrated, the tree behind me began to grow once again, bark going from cold gray to a warmer brown, and green leaves appearing on its branches. I sighed and let my focus break, eyes returning to their amber shade, and looked back at him. He was speechless for once.


“Look at the grass,” I instructed. He looked down and gasped. It was yellow and dried up, lifeless as the tree had been seconds before, “As I said, I barter,” with that I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep to the sound of his pen scribbling against the paper.


We continued on in this manner for the next few days. Draedon would gab like an adolescent girl and I would occationally comment sarcastically or give a demonstration. He never put his pen and parchment away. He wrote as we walked, tripping over rocks as he tried to jot down how profound it was that I never traded a live person’s life force so that another could be reanimated. I found it odd that he found this so noble, after all my moral code didn’t stop me from killing, but seeing him excited put a smile on my face, so I didn’t question him.


As we neared our final stretch I found myself becoming more and more excited. I could taste freedom on the wind that blew from the capitol. One resurrection and I could do as I pleased. I could tell something was bothering my companion, but I neglected to ask. I couldn’t let his rare bad mood ruin my rare good one.


We walked until the palace was just in view on the horizon and settled down for the night. I hummed a tune that I didn’t even recognize before realizing that Draedon had been singing it during our entire trip. He looked at me and smirked.


“So Rashi,” I cringed and glared at him in warning. He kept trying to give me a nickname and each one he tried was worse than the last, “Fine, Alvirash. Do you think we will still talk after you bring the princess-“


He was cut off by a sword through his throat. I grimaced as his blood splattered and looked up at his assailant. A f*****g bandit had indiscriminately run him through! I leapt to my feet, pulling a dagger from my boot.


“Now, now,” he taunted, “What does it matter who collects your bounty Alvirash? You were obeying the boy so nicely.”


I was taken aback. A bounty hunter? Draedon? Then the promise of freedom was a lie… I was being led to the slaughter by someone who posed as the closest thing I had ever had to a friend. I hissed in fury as my eyes blackened and Draedon’s body rose to hold his killer’s arms behind his back. I sliced him along his wrists and neck in slow movements and watched with a sneer as he struggled and bled to death.


Draedon dropped to the ground as I released my influence on him. I looked down at my would-be friend. I knelt beside him for a moment in grief, contemplating my options. There was no freedom to be won, no princess to save, just a lifetime of hiding or banishment. I took the traveler’s staff from Draedon’s belt before placing my hands on his throat. I felt the Reaper in me, drinking my power away with every second I wasted on my betrayer. I felt his wound close beneath my fingers, felt him inhale his first breath of new life.


I looked down at him once more smiling, and pulling him in for a hug. When I let go he looked up at me in bewilderment, opening his mouth, perhaps to explain. Before he could draw a second breath I plunged my dagger deep into his heart, a lone tear streaming down my cheek.


“Life is a game, just like death, and I am always the victor,” I whispered as he died his final death.

© 2014 Ashira Macy


Author's Note

Ashira Macy
Some questions for the reader:

What gender did you imagine Alvirash was and why?

How did the pacing of the story feel?

Did the personalities of the characters stay consistent?

You don't have to answer the questions if you don't want to, it is just out of my own curiosity.

This one was a doozy for sure. The story changed as rapidly as I wrote it, and this is about as far away from my original idea of what the story should be as apples are from pizza. Anyway, enjoy, and let me know what you think! It was inspired by one of Jack Wolfe's prompts for a contest.

My Review

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Featured Review

Ok wow that was awesome just perfect. The way you described alvirash's wanting for freedom was like you'd expierienced it yourself. I had thought of alvirash as male because of the way he survived in the outlands but by the end I'm reconsidering because the way alvirash described everything and at the end when he trusted his friend and brought him back, but then again he just did that to kill him himself but you know. The pacing of the story is mostly fast because a week goes by stopping for a day and a couple lines of walking. The personalities of the characters progressed like they would in any great story but I believe that nearing the end of the story the personalities could of changed slower but still cool.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much for your honest review my friend, I am glad that you enjoyed it. I am thinking of .. read more



Reviews

I really liked this story! I imagined Alvirash as a boy, why? I don't really know. The pacing of the story felt great, it was acceptable and slow enough to keep the reader's interest. The book was overall very good, no spelling or grammar mistakes made the story flow nicely. Keep up the good writing!

Posted 6 Years Ago


i love the way you handled the character of alvirash
i can see how the writing was a challenge but i think you wrote it very well

Posted 6 Years Ago


Great story! I pictured Alvirash as a male, but simply it was because the name sounds like a boy's name. I couldn't imagine a female with that name. If any parent was to name their daughter such a thing than they deserve to be banished to the Outlands. I liked this as a short story but for some reason I would rather read it as a novel or novella. Just because I feel it was very fast-paced, like it should in any short story. I think this idea of yours has a lot of potential. It was wonderfully written. Thank you for sharing!

Posted 6 Years Ago


This was a fantastic read and going in my favorites for sure. I love this kind of writing. Keep it up, superb job!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thanks so much, I am stoked that you liked this one. It is probably one of the most exciting pieces .. read more
loverofpoetry7

6 Years Ago

You did awesome!
"Nothing is free when magic is involved. " I love this line.. but the ending and the twist u gave to it is marvelous.. Loved the details. and Alvarish though a menace is such an inspiration.. *Grin* You should write more like this one ;)

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much dear, I am thinking about my next exploit into the fantasy genre as we speak! So g.. read more
Frozen Eyes

6 Years Ago

Im glad u wrote it :) love reading the end again and again.. :)
Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Haha, that is good to hear! I was hoping it would be one of those! =)
Ok wow that was awesome just perfect. The way you described alvirash's wanting for freedom was like you'd expierienced it yourself. I had thought of alvirash as male because of the way he survived in the outlands but by the end I'm reconsidering because the way alvirash described everything and at the end when he trusted his friend and brought him back, but then again he just did that to kill him himself but you know. The pacing of the story is mostly fast because a week goes by stopping for a day and a couple lines of walking. The personalities of the characters progressed like they would in any great story but I believe that nearing the end of the story the personalities could of changed slower but still cool.

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much for your honest review my friend, I am glad that you enjoyed it. I am thinking of .. read more
Good twist, good secondary twist, good follow through 'game' metaphor, good hinting at world rules with "fresh dead" "craft" "traveler's staff".

Alvirash's "raven hair" that was matted and needed to be cut off, the tears, and the tendency to give orders in the form of questions "shall we?" made me think Alvirash is female.

I felt like you repeated 'most wanted' too many times.
When Alvirash was describing slaughter (and in other places) I would have liked to see more emotion - even if that emotion is heartlessness.

Thanks for sharing,

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this one and give constructive criticism C. Rose! I see w.. read more
That was GREAT!...I was left wanting more!.....as for your questions. Without being told, I for some reason felt that the gender of Alvirash was a male...most likely because I think of female's to be...well...not so evil...but...I'm a guy and I always view females as innocent...I can't help it...I'm the "Alpha male" type of guy. The tough and overly protecting type of guy.

The pacing of the story was perfect and easily painted a detailed picture in my mind while reading...The personalities were very consistent. I really hope you continue with this story. It's awesome!

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Wow, thank you so much! I am glad you found my story and even more excited that you enjoyed it. I am.. read more
Your storytelling is captivating. I enjoyed the journey to the very end. Well done. :)

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much, I am glad you liked it! =)
I liked it^_^ I think that as you write more and more, you are discovering more layers of the different kind of writing you are capable of writing. Way to go on keeping with the experimentation:)

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Ashira Macy

6 Years Ago

Thanks Lyana, it is definitely fun exploring different genres. So glad you liked it.

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Added on September 23, 2014
Last Updated on September 23, 2014
Tags: death, game of death, necromancer, dark elf, fantasy, evil, necromancy, magic

Author

Ashira Macy
Ashira Macy

Martinez, CA



About
I am 24 years old and just getting back into writing after not using the skill for a few years, so I am a bit rusty. I am excited to share my new work as well as some old with this community and would.. more..

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