Path to the Throne (Part XI)

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I went for my routine mountain hike, planning to spend a couple of days there. Rick and Henry went to a fair in the neighboring county, and I was bored out of my mind in the castle. So I just ran away. It's not like they will do anything worse than scold me when I get back. At least I'll spend a few days alone with myself and the wind. Why don't I have wings?

I had strayed pretty far from home and stumbled upon the idea of meeting Henry and Rick instead of going back. Prepare a surprise for them, so to speak. The most important thing was not to fall into my teachers' hands in the first twenty minutes. Afterward, they would cool off.

I had already spent a whole day hanging around the road. Typical—you'd have to be completely bonkers to go visit Torrin. It wasn't just a backwater place; it was the ultimate middle of nowhere. There was no way to leave, either by land or by water, nothing to gain except for fish. As for the silver, we and the locals kept our mouths shut, as we could easily imagine what would happen otherwise. We'd get lots of rabble, a huge tax, and then the mine would belong to the king—and we would have to work there for free, but thrice as much. Nope, not saying anything made way more sense.

I was a bit surprised to hear a clatter of hooves, but then I sensed the trappings of my power, so intimately familiar to me. A cold feeling of dark power fell over me and then subsided as if a snake had slithered next to me in the grass.

A necromancer. A rather powerful one. Riding here.

Of course, I was interested. Wouldn't you be? The first necromancer from beyond the borders of Torrin! I couldn't miss him or let him leave. My curiosity tortured me worse than a squad of fleas, so I took a look around. Aha!

It was a great spot—perfect for hiding and suddenly jumping out on the road. And then climbing the cliffs to get away from Henry's...delight in seeing me. Without thinking twice, I crawled behind a big rock and began to wait.

Soon, a horse showed up from behind a corner. A zombie, I noticed that straight away—the necromancer had raised it and forced it to serve after its death. The necromancer himself was a man of forty years or a little bit more, although, at that moment, he looked as old as sixty. He was tired, sullen, dirty, worn-out, and beaten. Yeah, a pursuit never did anyone any favors.

I whistled lightly and released some of my power. The necromancer groaned and fell from his horse. I slipped out of my hiding place and stood in front of him.


The man passed out cold.


I could imagine his feelings. There you are, riding down a road, trying to figure out how to lose your tail—and a half-demon appears from around the corner. A small half-demon, rather. A cutie, obviously, but where did he come from in the mountains? I had to bring him to his senses. What did I use? Not water, I didn't have enough of that, so slaps sufficed. I had always kept a good supply of them.

After regaining consciousness, the man first tried to scream, then hit me with a spell, and finally, run away. Of course, I didn't let him do any of that—I gave him another few slaps and asked, "What are you doing on my land?"

I have to give credit to Rene—he was quick to recover his wits, and for a necromancer, my appearance wasn't exactly shocking.

"Do you live here?"

"Yes. Are you a necromancer?"


"Are they after you?" I nodded in the direction where, in a couple of hours, his pursuers would appear. I already sensed their magic. Something gluey, something light, something predatory...

Who said that darkness was evil and light was good? Idiots!

Go on, try standing in the sun for too long—would it be good for you? Balance in all things; concentrated light could kill just as well as primal darkness. You have to use your head, not use it as an empty vessel for somebody's bullshit! Ugh!


"Can you fight?"

Rene nodded, hesitant. I chuckled.

"Then help, as much as you're able. We'll have to kill them and hide the bodies so well that nobody ever finds them. Where are you from?"

Over those three hours, I managed to get Rene's entire life story. I nodded, content. I needed a necromancer. Martha was good, of course, but you could never have enough teachers.

I also told him a bit about myself. That my name was Alex, and I was living there, and that I had no use for the servants of light. I left the rest to Rick; he was older and smarter than I.

Rene looked at me with disbelief, but my looks were the main proof of my words—as well as my clothes and weapon.

"So, what is your offer?" he finally said.

"To kill your pursuers."

"As simple as that?"

"No, it won't be simple," I grinned. "Hey, if they die right now, will anybody else be able to follow the trail of your magic?"

"No. I don't think so."

"You don't think so or no?"

"They shouldn't be able to. I tried not to leave any traces."

I had to take risks. Destroy the hunters and feign genuine surprise in response to all the questions. What necromancer? On the lands of the crown prince? You're out of your mind, sirs. There never was anyone like that, you may check for yourself.

Or he could just die. Death solved all these problems. I looked at Rene. "Leave your horse here. And hand me your cloak, will you?"

"And what should I do?"

"Sit there while I finish this," I replied, a smirk on my face.

"You do realize they have to be killed with a sword, right? No magic."

"Why?" That piqued my interest.

"Because it's light magic. If a trace of death is left, their brethren will notice that."

"On their bodies?" I wouldn't leave any bodies.

"No. They might summon their souls..."

"To talk to them?"

"No. That would be necromancy, and necromancy is forbidden. They would just learn the cause of death."

I nodded. The same necromancy, just circumcised. It makes sense—light magic could never let you talk to the dead. Maybe revive them, but all the thralls in the kingdom wouldn't be enough to perform such a miracle. I really don't care for the saintly folks.

"You've just never tried to cook them right."

I looked at the necromancer. Did I say that out loud? Judging by an arrogant smile on his thin lips, I did. I pulled at a cord on his black cloak.

"Take it off and get the hell out of here, so they don't see you."

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