Necromancer Unmanned: Chapter 50

Necromancer Unmanned
Chapter 50

There were twenty beds in the large banquet hall. Painfully thin and sickly men and women filled the beds. Most were asleep. Even with the food and healing they'd been given, they were so close to death there was no energy for their body to spare for anything that didn't keep them breathing for a little while longer. The few who were awake lay still lost in their thoughts. Some sobbed thinking of what they'd lost and what was coming. Two or three watched the working of the mages, curious or fearful, wondering what it would do to them. A man smiled, his eyes filled only with rage.

Cast iron heaters lined the walls, dirty flickering flames shone out from the grates, providing heat against the bitter cold air. Most of the smoke went through the flues outside, a basic magical spell dealt with the rest, ensuring the room would stay clean. Every few hours an undead servant would enter adding more coal to the fires. No living servants wanted to go near the room. They knew what was going to happen, and while they didn't object, they had no desire to see it.

A priest and priestess of the Mother and the Father sat praying at a table. The tools of their trade at their side, along with clean clothes, warm water, scraps of bread, and a bit of alcohol to ease the pain. They didn't know if what was going on was proper. But it had been accepted as a necessity by the city clergy. The pair had volunteered to support the dying as best they could. Yet they never looked at The Necromancer or her assistant.

One of the dying coughed, blood spattering his lips. Pouring a bit of water into a bowl, and some more into a glass of alcohol, the priest went to his side. Whispering a prayer of comfort, he washed the blood from the woman's face. Then he put the cup of watered down alcohol against her lips and had her sip it down. Holding her hand until she went back to sleep, he walked silently back to his seat and resumed his prayers.

“I wish they'd stop acting like this was something horrible,” Keira said to Von. “They volunteered for this, and it's not like they'd have survived the day if I hadn't picked them up.”

“We're not quite as used to the undead as you are,” Von replied, not looking up from his work.

“This city is a walking corpse already. All I'm doing is making sure it's an effective one.”

“Give them a chance to see the dead in action and they'll change their minds. And at least they're not stopping you from doing everything you want.”

She snorted. “They're having me do what they want, and letting me work on my 'pet projects' as long as I shut up and stay out of the way.”

The mage looked up from his bowls of ink. “They did give you a mansion to work from, and a team of workers.”

“Most of whom are too scared to even look at me.” She didn't add that some of the servants who did look at her, didn't hide their... appreciation of her figure. They were polite enough that she didn't have a reason to fire them, but she still wasn't used to how they stared when they thought she wasn't looking.

“That will change with time. The ink is ready to go.”

“So this is what you used on me,” she said, touching the tattoo on the back of her hand.

“Mostly. This is less complicated than yours.”

“And you're still not going to tell me how it's made?”

Smiling he said, “No.”

Sighing, she sat back while he got the pneumatic tattoo gun ready. While engineering had never been Keira's area of interest, she had always enjoyed watching it. The three hundred years of progress after her first death had created many interesting things, the use of pneumatics was one of them. Back in her time compressing air had been an interesting trick for studying gases and liquids, but practical uses had been lacking. Now, pneumatic powered pumps, were used as weapons, ran machinery, and could apparently tattoo people.

Von rolled a canister of compressed air from the corner of the room. He attached a thin hose with a gauge to it, then screwed the hose into a large pen like device. Turning the handle there was a faint hiss of air and after looking at the gauge, he turned the handle back a little until he was satisfied. Pressing the trigger on the pen there was another hiss and a faint clicking as two needles poked in and out from the narrow end. Nodding in satisfaction, Von attached a small bottle of ink onto the pen.

“Who do you want to do first?” he asked.

“Her,” Keira pointed at a tiny woman near the far end of beds. “She's the closest to death, and I don't think she's going to wake up.

“All right, This is going to take at least eight hours, do you really want to watch me do the entire thing?”

Getting up from her padded chair, Keira made a ghost carry it to the bed. “I wouldn't miss it for the world. And I need to make sure she doesn't die while you prepare the tattoos.”

Going to the volunteer, Keira sat off to the side making sure Von had plenty of space. The priest and priestess seeing that they were ready, came over as well. While the mage brought the machine over and cleaned off the woman's hand for the first tattoo, the pair began praying over the soon to be corpse.

Switching to her magic sight, Keira watched Von pour his magic into the tattoo gun. Usually this wouldn't do much, but whatever preparations the mage had done had drastically altered the ink. It absorbed the magic like a sponge, becoming a rainbow of colours that dazzled the eye.

Pressing the gun against the woman's skin, it began clicking. The rainbow ink poured into the flesh, binding with the skin, sending tendrils into her soul. Keira's eyes widened at the sight. This had been deemed impossible when she had been alive. A skilled mage could only tear out or destroy the soul while the person was alive. Altering it had largely been a dream of the mad and foolish. Keira had done experiments with it, and had created some interesting theories. However until she saw her own tattoos she'd largely done it out of curiosity without thinking it would be practical.

She's still be surprised when Von had told her this was the simplest of the various spells placed on her.

One problem she'd faced with vampires was how they were uncontrollably violent. There had been no way to control them except by locking them up, and that made them useless. Even dropping them near an army of enemies was not very effective. If they survived, they'd be a scourge attacking anyone they saw including Keira's people. Against a human opponent that was not cost effective.

However the tattoos that kept Keira from raising her hand against a human could be used to bind the vampires. With them unable to kill or injure people, they'd quickly go for other prey. Since demons covered most of the continent, the vampires would have ample food. A few dozen vampires released by the airship well away from the city, should prove an interesting problem for the monsters.

Once they knew vampires could be somewhat controlled, it would be easy enough to expand their operations. Von was willing to teach others how to make the ink, so long as she remained in the dark. Then they would find artists to make the tattoos while a mage provided the magic. Only her own role couldn't be filled easily. She'd need to get more students, preferably with steady hands and an eye for detail.

Smiling, Keira thought about the phrase mass production. She'd learned it while studying one of the factories and loved it. If they'd had the factory system when she had been emperor, she could have drowned her enemies not only in the dead but the living as well.

As long as the prototype worked, they would quickly begin mass producing the undead monsters. Prototype was another interesting word that had seldom been used three centuries ago, except by a few scholarly inventors. Now it was used by all the engineers she'd met,

While Von worked his magic, Keira considered what other prototype monsters she could create.


Von set the tattoo gun down and leaned against bed, he looked exhausted. Sweat dripped from his face, and he'd removed his shirt hours ago. A ghost came up, holding a tray with a glass of water and a plate of bread and rat meat. When food had grown scarce, the city council had begun farming rats. They were the only animals left in the city other than the few army horses and fish from the river.

“It's done?” Keira asked.

Draining the glass of water, Von nodded. “It's done. She can't hurt anyone.”

“Very well, it's time to turn her into a weapon.” She commanded her ghosts to wheel the bed to a nearby room that had once been a study. She followed more slowly. Her body was healing, but after so many weeks in bed with poor food, she was only now starting to regain her strength.

She nodded to the new pair of priests who had replaced the other two hours ago. They actually smiled at her in return. Von stay behind for a moment, finishing his meagre meal.

Entering her workroom, the woman was being strapped to a table with thick ropes. Keira would have preferred leather straps, or better yet iron manacles, but those were in short supply. Anything that could be used to make weapons had been taken long ago.

Sitting down in a tall chair that let her work comfortably on the tattooed woman, Keira silently ordered the ghosts to strip the subject.

The woman had likely been pretty once. She looked to be in her thirties. Starvation and cold had sapped the strength and flesh from her, leaving a skeletal figure. Fingers and toes, blackened by frostbite would have had to be amputated if they were planning on saving her life. The tip of her nose and ears had already been frozen and amputated or fallen off, leaving open sores.

Von came into the room collapsing onto a chair. He had insisted he had to be there to watch what she was doing. From the look he gave the naked woman, it seemed he was regretting the decision. Still he didn't leave or comment on it.

“Let's begin,” she said.

Turning her sight to magic, she wasn't blinded by the tattoos anymore. They were bright, but they were a pleasant white, that didn't hurt the eyes. They would be a problem. Instead of simply taking the soul out and replacing it with magic, she'd need to cut around the soul, leaving portions of it, so that the geas would stay in place.

But first, the woman needed to die.

She wove a net of death magic on top of the woman, twisting it to encircle her body, splitting to fit over the arms and legs, tying it together as the ends met. Working slowly and carefully, she trapped the soul inside the flesh.

Delicately and with great patience, she began snipping the soul away from the body. The woman gasped and spasmed against the ropes. When she died seconds later, the soul remained in place.

Like a master carver, Keira began cutting away at the soul.


Hours later Keira looked down at her work. The soul was almost completely gone. Only patches on the hands, head, heart, pelvis and feet remained, connected by hair thin lines. If people could see it, they would be horrified at the sight. The soul was supposed to be sacrosanct. It was one reason people feared necromancy. To Keira, it was a sign of her skill.

“Give me the rats,” she said.

Von who had been resting in his chair, did as she asked. Placing a cage with several rats in it on the table beside her.

Using magic to bind the rats so they wouldn't fight her, she reached in and took the healthiest one. Placing it in the mouth of the dead woman, she began weaving her magic.

It was a complicated spell. Strands of necromantic energy filled the nearly empty body. She was creating a mockery of life. It would heal quickly when fed, be capable of thinking, hunger, and have strength far beyond a living human. The drawbacks were numerous. It would need souls to survive. Nothing else would provide it the magic it needed, something it would instinctively realize. And as Keira had found out, eating souls would drive it into a frenzy, needing more to satisfy it.

If it found an army of demons it would keep fighting and eating until destroyed. But against smaller groups, it had a chance of surviving. As long as it ate a soul every few days it would be able to keep hunting. That was why they would release them well behind the demons lines. Putting them on a proper battlefield would see them die too soon to be useful.

When the magic weave was completed, Keira leaned back and caught her breath. The work had taken a while, making her wish she had properly trained assistants. If this worked, she'd been promised the pick of newly trained mages, but she could have used them now.

Pushing that desire aside for the moment, she leaned over the corpse. It was now time for the final step.   It was easy compared to what she had just done. She pushed her magic straight into the body, powering the magical weave.

The corpse arched it's back, straining against the binding. It's eyes opened, revealing blood red irises. It's mouth closed around the rat, killing it instantly. The rat's soul was absorbed by the newly born vampire, filling it with even more energy.

The soul wasn't enough for the vampire, it slurped up the blood, filling it's belly. Then it spit the rat out, howling and snapping at Keira. It drove it's fingers into the table, leaving deep gouges in the wood.

Reaching out, Keira touched one of the monster's razor sharp fingernails. The tip dug into her skin for a split second then stopped. Every other finger kept scrapping against the table, but that one finger wouldn't do more then slightly dent her skin.

Feeling a little more confident, Keira grabbed the vampire's hand in hers. Muscles tensed, the fingers curled around her hand, the nails started to dig into her flesh, and then once again they stopped.

The vampire howled in outrage.

Dropping it's hand, Keira turned to Von, grinning with delight. “We have a weapon,” she said.


Necromancer Unmanned will be updated every Tuesday. My other story Doom Valley Prep School will be updated every Monday.

If you would like to support my work, get a sneak peek at future chapters for all of these stories, and access to two other stories, Isekai Incorporated and Water Nymph, you can support me on my Patreon page.

If you liked this post, you can leave a comment and/or a kudos!
Click the Thumbs Up! button below to leave the author a kudos:
80 users have voted.

And please, remember to comment, too! Thanks. 
This story is 2571 words long.