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Vengeance by Moonlight
by Tog

Erica’s family was contacted with the news the same time as the other 16 families.  Their children had been serving aboard a moderate sized sailing ship in exchange for college credit.  Also lost in the freak storm were the entire crew and staff.  A total of 28 people lost in a storm that could not have been.

Two months later, on a small island in the Caribbean, a strange little man was gloating over his new prize.  Ever since he killed the great necromancer and stolen his books, he had been blessed with a near endless supply of new brides.  He had yet to master the cessation of decomposition, and in time each new bride lost her allure and had to be replaced.  He would go back and check the books, skipping over the harder words, for some clue as to how to make them last a little longer. 

When he saw this new girl, he was inspired to go back to the old man’s house and find the secret to ageless death.  She was too good to leave to the gulls.  He prowled around the house for hours before finding a secret closet which contained a book he had never seen and a chest of what seemed to be clothing made of bone.  He quickly went through the book and found a ritual that was just what he’d hoped for.

With as much tenderness as he could muster, the little man knelt over the corpse of the young girl and recited the spell.  It would be a few days before he would see if it worked, but he was hopeful.  He had managed to keep his lust in check for the full three days it took for the spell to run its course.  In that time, she had gotten a little worse, but nowhere near as bad as the others had done.  It worked!!!  She would be his forever.

Months went by and she remained his faithful and silent plaything (though he considered her to be a wife).  In what seemed like no time at all, he had been with her a full year.  He decided to get her a present to celebrate.  He knew he had little to offer her, but looked about and found the chest of clothes he’d found the year before.  He went through them and found a nice matching set.  The top and bottom wouldn’t fit her, but the boots and gloves would.  Not only that, but the polished bones would accent the delicate tan of her withered flesh very well.  It would also stop the crabs from feeding on her toes when he wasn’t around.

He never noticed the change in her.  Maybe he was too blinded by love, or what he thought was love, or maybe it was too subtle for him; but she was becoming aware.  She was still compelled to obey him, but she was no longer the mindless zombie slave she had been for 14 months.  In the days that followed, she became more aware, though her memories were clouded.  She could recall the humiliations the little man had visited upon her.  She could recall the feelings of hatred welling within her with every night he passed with her.  She could recall the composition of a several poisons.  Poisons she was sure she had never known before.  She could recall she was once known as Erica.

As the weeks passed, she gained more control over her will.  One night the little man came to her and as he prepared himself, she spoke.  The shock of it nearly killed the little man.  She asked who he was, who she was, why he was doing this to her, and how she had come to be here.  He explained that he had been a student of a powerful island sorcerer.  He had learned to summon storms and raise the dead.  One day he killed his mentor and stole his books.  His loneliness had driven him to destroy boats and ships, and then reanimate those that washed ashore that he felt would make good companions.  None had lasted more than a few weeks until her.  He told her that he had finally learned the secret to making the undead state last forever.  They would be together for the rest of his life.  She considered this for a moment and was struck with an idea.  If he were to teach her how to reanimate and preserve a body forever, then when he died, she could bring him back, allowing them to be together for all eternity.  The old man quickly agreed and her studies began that night.

She found it strange that the things he was teaching her about necromancy were so simple to grasp; almost like she was being reminded how to do them, rather than taught, while she was completely unable to learn even the most basic aspect of storm summoning.  In just 3 months he had taught her everything he knew about necromancy.  She had also discovered his other books, and having no difficulty with the bigger words, grew much more powerful than he could ever imagine.  To her surprise, she found that she could summon finished poisons from nothing as well.

All of this study brought her memories of her life.  Nothing clear; just vague snippets and images of a boat, water, people waving, more water, and darkness.  She began to wonder why those who had been waving never came to find her.  She wondered why the others she recalled from the boat were not here as well.  Curiosity turned to contempt.  Her mind began to invent history.  Her parents sent her away but she couldn’t remember why.  The other people on the boat let her die.  Maybe she was a sacrifice to this little freak.  A trade they made to ensure their own survival.  These thoughts built up inside of her when more unanswered questions formed.  Why didn’t anyone ever come to look for her?  She began to hate the world.

Her last night on the island she told the little man that she’d had another idea.  Rather than wait for him to die of natural causes, or some accident, she could kill him and revive him that night.  He would forever be exactly how he was at that moment.  She convinced him that it would be best if they do it while he was still in reasonably good shape, and he eventually agreed.  She administered a fast acting poison and waited for his life to end.  She knelt over him and said a few chants.  The magic radiated out of her fingers and into his lifeless body.  The ground beneath him began to swell, and a new undead servant emerged from beneath the little man’s corpse.

“Drag that out to sea and feed it to the sharks,” she said.

The soulless creature obeyed and dragged the little man’s body into the waves. 

Long ago, she had come to realize that her freedom was given to her not by the little man, but by the boots and gloves he had given to her.  They had absorbed the life force of the old necromancer the night he was killed in his home.  When they were placed on her, his knowledge, and a bit of his personality, seeped out into her.  She became aware.  The old man’s thirst for revenge mixed with her memories and twisted them to fit his desires at the moment of death.  She now has a score to settle with the rest of the world.

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