Story (c) 2000 by Hikaru Katayamma/Keith Dickinson. All rights reserved.
The character Sheila Vixen (c) Eric W Schwartz. Throckmorton P Ruddygore,
Poqua, Lakash (c) Jack L Chalker. All other characters are (c) Hikaru
Katayamma. This story contains adult situations and language. By
reading it the viewer agrees not to hold this or any other person responsible
for any content they may find objectionable. If you don't like it, don't
Rathsmon looked down at the place where Sheila's Katana had sliced off a chunk of stone, then back up to Sheila's face for a second before focusing on the tip of the sword barely an inch away from his face. He tried to sink backwards into the stone throne, but failed miserably.
"How did you get that mark?" Sheila growled, edging the sword closer.
Holding both hands up at chest level, Rathsmon shifted his sight quickly back and forth between the tip of the sword and Sheila. "It happened when I made a wish while holding the amulet of Lakash."
Sheila pressed forward with the sword, causing Rathsmon to turn his head so as not to allow the blade to touch him. "And just what did you wish for, oh Lord of the Undead."
"Immortality!" Rathsmon blurted out, startling Sheila. "I wished for immortality. This is what I got."
"Immortality?" Sheila echoed as she pulled the sword back. "You mean you aren't some evil mage or some crap like that?"
Rathsmon relaxed a bit, putting his hands down. "Quite the contrary," he said, shaking his head. "In fact, before I became this, I was simply a humble monk. A researcher of holy texts and artifacts if you will."
Sheila laughed as she let her guard down some more. "Don't tell me. Someone brought you the amulet and asked you what it was. You researched it and found out that it granted wishes."
Nodding, the necromancer rose from his throne. "Indeed. Alas, temptation took me and I wished for immortality. This is obviously God's punishment for my sin." He gestured towards a door off to one side of the hall. "I have bode my time in this place, waiting for the opportunity to redeem myself."
Sheila followed him across the great hall and towards the door being held open by a zombie wearing fancy looking rags. "So how did you know who I was?"
The entered a room that was a combination library and laboratory. "I was contacted by the creature, Lakash. He informed me that if I performed one service for him, he would end my torment as one of the undead and restore me to life. Since it involved restoring someone to life as opposed to committing some horrendous atrocity, I agreed to help." He stopped at a table where a small, leather bound bundle sat. Unwrapping it, he revealed a circular ruby about three inches in diameter and approximately a quarter of an inch thick, glowing with an internal light. "And this is to be my salvation."
"What is it?" Sheila asked, bending over to look at the gem. The soft, almost pulsating glow that surrounded it was somehow reassuring.
"It's a soul stone," Rathsmon explained. "I was told to prepare this stone to capture the soul of someone important to Lakash who was in peril of dying."
Sheila's head snapped up with understanding. "Arden!"
Nodding, he folded the leather back over the gem. "Indeed. With this gem, we will be able to find a suitable replacement body for him."
Sheila cringed at the thought. "You're not planning on putting him in one of these walking corpses, are you?" She glanced around the room, shuddering at the sight of the living dead.
"Oh dear me, no," Rathsmon said, handing her the small package. "His quest can not be completed unless he has a living body."
Sheila tucked the gem into a small pocket on the inside of her silks. "So what? We're going to go and evict someone from their body so that Arden can take it?" Sheila asked, scowling at the though. " I don't think I like that idea."
Rathsmon held up his hands and shook his head. "No, nothing like that," he stated as he began rooting around in a cabinet in the back. "Quite the opposite. Lakash has already instructed me as to where and how you will restore this person."
Sheila finally tucked her Katana away in its scabbard as she moved over towards where the necromancer stood. "And just what kind of body has Lakash found for him?"
With a small yell of success, Rathsmon pulled a jade dagger out from within the contents of the rather cluttered cabinet. Proudly displaying the lethal looking weapon, he smiled at Sheila. "A most interesting question," he said with a twinkle in his eye. For the next five minutes he explained to Sheila exactly where she would find a replacement body and how she would do it.
Afterwards, Sheila sat and stared at the necromancer for some time before she shook her head in bemusement. "This is insane."
"Insane? How do you figure?" Rathsmon's waved his hands as if to shoo away her objections. "It is the perfect solution. The body is in suspension, alive yet not alive at the same time. All it needs is a soul to break the spell, and you have that soul."
Sheila rubbed the bridge of her nose. "It's not that. You're asking me to put him into the body of a a ."
"A body, period." He sighed and thought for a second. "If it is so objectionable, then I'm sure that we can alter its shape using magic, to give it the illusion of something more palatable." Rathsmon took a step backwards as Sheila began to growl.
Clenching her fangs and fists, the growl rose to a full yell before cutting off sharply. "Fine! I don't give a damn any more." She stormed over by the window and gazed out over the forest. "I'm sick of all this shit! Whatever it takes. I don't care. Just as long as I get home. I'm sick and tired of jumping through hoops because of that bastard and his fucking quest."
For a moment, the necromancer started to reach out to her, but reconsidered. After a few moments, he turned and left the room and its sole occupant, giving her some privacy.
Specs groaned as he rolled over in bed. The sun had shifted in the early afternoon and a beam of light was now shining directly in his face. Covering his eyes with his arm, he tried to get back to sleep, but failed. Realizing that he wasn't going to get back to sleep, Specs threw the covers off and sat up in bed. Rubbing the sleep out of his eyes, he half stumbled into the bathroom and proceeded to empty his bladder. To his relief, everything appeared intact down there. He then washed his hands and rinsed his face off. With one hand, he snatched the towel off the rack next to the sink and dried off his face.
Now awake, he examined himself in the mirror. The orange discoloration on his skin from where he had swabbed iodine to act as a disinfectant showed where the scars from the night before should be. That is, they should be there, but weren't. He grabbed a washcloth, soaked it under the faucet and then wiped down his skin. Where there should have been scabbed scars, there was only a faint if fuzzy line of fresh skin, but nothing like what should have been there. A quick check of the rest of his body confirmed that the wounds he had received the night before were all healed.
Shaking his head, he returned to his room and slipped on his glasses. His forehead creased as he looked around the room. The perspective was off. It was just like when he got new glasses with a different prescription. Things were still sharp, but they looked wrong. He slipped off the glasses and looked at them. They didn't look any different than the night before, but when he tried them again, the effect was the same.
He sat down on the edge of the bed and considered what had happened the night before as he absentmindedly toyed with the glasses. He remembered the outrageous demoness and what happened afterwards. With a shudder, he thought about the two bullies that had forced him to take them up there. They had demanded that he do something dangerous without knowing what they were dealing with, and they paid the price. He felt more than a little guilty and a definite sense of panic, since he'd left their bodies up on the mesa. The cops were bound to look for whoever else was up there with them. They'd come after him now. He'd wind up in jail for murder. Nobody was going to believe him.
At the sound of a distant siren, Specs looked up and out the window in panic. As the sound faded, he let out a sigh of relief and sat down again. A second later he looked back out the window again and then down to his glasses. The world out side was in perfect focus. Being nearsighted, all he should have seen was a fuzzy blur, but everything outside was sharp. Sharper even than they normally would be with his glasses.
He stood up and bolted into the bathroom. For the first time today, he looked at his face in the mirror. It was the same face he looked at every day, but his eyes were different. Rather than the hazel colored eyes that he was used to, he saw that his irises now had a golden tint to them. "Jesus Christ. What did she do to me?" he muttered to himself.
In a daze, he walked back to his room, closing the door behind him. He then flopped down on his bed and stared at the spackled ceiling, loosing himself in the pattern as his mind raced a mile a minute, trying to get a grasp on what had happened and was still happening. He wasn't sure what worried him most: The cops, or that thing that bit him.
"Oh man, am I screwed."
Sheila looked out at the sun that had not risen too far over the horizon. Despite being in what amounted to a haunted castle, she had slept rather well. The provisions from her horse had made a decent enough dinner and breakfast. Now all she had to do was wait for Rathsmon to finish up the "travel arrangements." With a low groan, she settled back down into the chair by the window. It really was getting to be a pain in the ass to stand up or walk any major distance. Her hips hurt, her back hurt, and worst of all, her tits hurt. They were beginning to swell with milk, and it was a real pain too. To top it off, she had the problem of needing to take a piss every hour or two, which wasn't going to make life any easier on the road.
After an hour, Rathsmon's head zombie appeared in the door and gestured for her to come with him. She followed the walking corpse down to the stables, occasionally fighting off the urge to gag from the smell of decay. Once in the stables, she saw a large, ornate carriage with a team of four skeletal horses. Up top rode a body that didn't look too recently deceased, which would drive the team of horses. Mounted on more decayed horses were six armored figures, one being the man she had watched die the previous day.
"Ah, there you are," Rathsmon said as he ambled over to Sheila. "I've arranged for you to travel in some comfort."
Sheila gave a humorless chuckle. "Oh yah, The Deadhead Express, right?"
Rathsmon lead her towards the carriage. "I think you'll find that riding in this carriage will be far more comfortable than a saddle, especially as your escorts don't need to stop and rest." He opened the door and gestured inside. "I have had your provisions loaded as well as some jerky, cheese and other similar foods. All of them have been spelled to insure that they are free of any mold, disease or other contaminants."
Climbing partway into the carriage, Sheila took in the interior. It was rather plush, though faded with age. It had obviously been cleaned recently as there was no hint of dust inside. "All right," She said, climbing the rest of the way in.
Closing the door, Rathsmon made sure that the latch was secured. He stepped up to the window that Sheila now leaned out of slightly. "I would ask a favor of you, if you would."
Sheila's brows furrowed at his statement and cocked one ear forward. "What kind of favor?"
Rathsmon pulled out another wrapped package, only this time it was wrapped in black velvet. "I require you to transport this to the sorcerer Ruddygore," he said, handing it to Sheila. When she started to open it, he quickly stopped her. "You must not open the package or expose its contents to sunlight. If for some reason the contents fall out of the bag, you must never directly touch the object. To do so would be fatal. Use any cloth that is opaque to sunlight."
Examining the object with her paws, she got the impression that there was a small rock or gem about the size of a ping-pong ball inside. "All right," she agreed, tucking the object in a pocket. "I'll give it to Ruddygore."
"Thank you very much," Rathsmon said, bowing to Sheila. "All of these men," he said, gesturing to the escort as well as the driver, "are under your command. Tell them what you want done and they will do it. Be careful though," he said with a smile. "They are simple minded beings and can easily be confused."
Sheila nodded, then yelled up to the driver, giving him directions. With the crack of a whip the driver screeched at the horses, setting them in motion. Sheila laid her ears back at the haunting sound of the horses as they cried out before moving.
This was going to be one hell of a ride.