Chapter 1:

Prompt 1: Vice & Virtues

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Things had been looking pretty dark, I have to admit. It started out so simple, so innocent, but slowly got more and more corrupt.Bookmark here

I didn't even notice at first. A stranger I met at the pub asked if I was interested in some easy money. I was more than a little drunk at the time, so it didn't take much for him to persuade me.Bookmark here

"Nothing illegal." He'd assured me. "I just need you to deliver some stuff to a friend of mine."Bookmark here

Again, being drunk, I agreed. Looking back now, I should've stopped there, but I didn't. £500 just for delivering a few computer parts to a guy in the suburbs? It was more money than I made in a month and ten times as easy.Bookmark here

After the first few weeks, things got more serious. Shadier. It went from computer parts to mild drugs. The kind of stuff that wasn't immediately harmful, but was blacklisted.Bookmark here

After six months, it got even more serious. I was now driving class A's around. Cannabis, hard crack, heroin, you name it.Bookmark here

My conscience tried to intervene, but it was too late. I'd been trafficked in, and once you were in, there was no getting out. I should've seen the signs from the get-go.Bookmark here

After a year, I was dealing with fake cash. The guy who'd got me into this mess had a really clever printer that could replicate a note precisely.Bookmark here

I'd tried warning him about the problems with putting more money into the system, but he didn't care. Not that I thought he would, he's arrogant and selfish. He'd destroy the world to achieve his goals, so causing another Wall Street Crash and Great Depression was nothing to him.Bookmark here

And then I found out that he was just an underling.Bookmark here

Just when I thought things couldn't drop any lower, they did. Turns out this whole organization was a cover for a Satanist group, and I've been dragged into it.Bookmark here

The head honcho, a guy seven foot two with muscles like an ox, told me I was to become a sacrifice to try and break the seals of hell and bring about doomsday prematurely.Bookmark here

Naturally, I told him to stick it where it belongs. He didn't like that one bit, I'll tell you. Almost killed me there and then.Bookmark here

But he didn't. I wish he had. Instead I was hogtied and thrown in the back of a van.Bookmark here

                                          * * *Bookmark here

Three hours and a very rough car journey later, I was in the basement of some sort of warehouse. Some... Demonic... Sort of warehouse.Bookmark here

The only light was red, and there wasn't much of it. Bones were scattered across the floor. There was something hanging from a hook in the wall that was oozing blood. Bookmark here

I wasn't hogtied anymore. Instead, my ankles had been tied together. So were my wrists. All this meant stand dead-still or fall into a bunch of skeletons.Bookmark here

So stand dead-still I did. After what felt like hours someone came and untied my ankles. "This way." He said, shoving me forwards.Bookmark here

I stumbled, almost fell - would have, if not for my natural tight-rope walker's sense of balance. It'd saved me from falling again. Possibly for the last time.Bookmark here

I was led into a cavernous chamber - where'd they get the space for all this - packed with people in red robes. Some were screaming, others were chanting, and a handful were silent. It was the quiet ones that scared me the most, even with the murderous shouts.Bookmark here

In the centre was a dais, and on the dais, an altar. Typical. Just because these people were devil-worshippers didn't mean everything had to be dark and hideous.Bookmark here

I was shoved up to the altar and made to lay down on it, face up. My wrists were untied and then manacled to the floor.Bookmark here

I was panicking. This was it. I was going to die. I was going to die I was going to die I was going to --Bookmark here

My panic-attack was cut short by the leader of the group walking forwards. He was unarmed.Bookmark here

"Today." He said. "We take back our birthright. We bring forth the hidden eddies of magic. Today, we make a sacrifice!"Bookmark here

At this the crowd went wild, screaming and shouting and whatever else incomprehensibly. The words melded together until it was all just background noise. Illegible.Bookmark here

He pulled a knife from under his robe. So much for unarmed. Bookmark here

"Are you ready to die for our cause, little man?" He asked quietly, leaning in so only I could hear.Bookmark here

"Fuck you." I replied. "You and your group of meth-heads can fuck off."Bookmark here

"He is ready." He called out to the general people.Bookmark here

The knife came down, towards my abdomen, and twisted sharply as it went in, puncturing a lot of vital organs. My liver, kidney, and intestines were torn apart.Bookmark here

The pain should have been unbearable, but there wasn't any. I could feel the knife in my guts, but there wasn't any pain associated with it. But how?Bookmark here

Then reality... Melted away. No that's not right. It warped out of existence, taking me with it.Bookmark here

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I woke up in a pit. No, not a pit. A grave.Bookmark here

There were a few people standing over me, whispering in a language I didn't understand.Bookmark here

"Почему нам всегда поручают грязную работу?"Bookmark here

"Я точно знаю? Это оскорбление. Когда мы закончим, мы должны поговорить об этом с боссом ".Bookmark here

"Какой в ​​этом смысл?" Said a third. "Если мы сделаем работу, он все равно подумает, что мы просто сделаем то, что нам велят. Пойдем поговорим с ним сейчас ".Bookmark here

They said a bit more, then walked away. Why hadn't they buried me? Had they realized I was alive, and gone to get something to finish the job?Bookmark here

Then a shadow went across the moon, and a hand grabbed me roughly by the arm. The stranger was strong -  ridiculously so - and managed to haul me out of the grave like I was a ragdoll.Bookmark here

"This way if you want to live." A hushed, coarse voice, like the crunch of gravel as a car goes over it. He tugged me towards a group of trees. Evergreens, maybe?Bookmark here

When we got under their cover, he spun me round and stared into my eyes. Apparently finding what he was looking for, he grunted and turned away.Bookmark here

"Excuse me?" I asked. "How am I alive?"Bookmark here

A short, hoarse chuckle. "You aren't. Not truly. Not yet."Bookmark here

What on earth did that mean? I felt really sluggish, as if my limbs weren't working properly. I put a hand to my chest. No heart-beat. I was... Dead? And alive at the same time?Bookmark here

"Come, I will explain when we get there." The old man's voice cut through my monologue, derailing my train of thought.Bookmark here

I followed him. He was the only way I was going to get any answers, and answers were the most important thing in my ... Unlife... Right now.Bookmark here

He led me to a cave. Why's it always a cave? Inside were a group of others. One of them was struggling with a fire and cursing under his breath. Two others were sitting opposite each other, playing go fish.Bookmark here

"Oh, is this the unlucky Death?" Asked a woman near the back of the cave.Bookmark here

"This is the one. Took quite a chunk of power to bring him back." Replied the old man who'd brought me here.Bookmark here

I'd stayed quiet out of politeness up to this point, but now I needed to know the answers to my questions.Bookmark here

"I need some answers." I said. "For one thing, how am I alive when I don't have a heartbeat?"Bookmark here

Another dry chuckle. "I told you. You're not truly alive at the moment. You're a Necros, a living corpse."Bookmark here

"So... I'm... Dead?" I asked.Bookmark here

"I just said that, didn't I? You're dead, but not for much longer."Bookmark here

Now I was seriously confused. How could someone just stop being dead?Bookmark here

"How? I kinda thought death was a one-way ticket..."Bookmark here

The old man chuckled again. "Not for necromancers."Bookmark here

So these people were necromancers? I wouldn't have believed it, if not for the fact that I was actually dead.Bookmark here

"Come. We need to take you to the ritual site." Said the woman. "If we don't, you will lose yourself and become mindless."Bookmark here

And so I followed them down to a huge lake in the forest. And I mean HUUUUGE. It made Disneyland look like a LEGO set.Bookmark here

"Right, in you get." The lady told me. "And before you argue, no, it's not freezing cold."Bookmark here

I got in. What else would I have done? I didn't really fancy becoming a mindless zombie.Bookmark here

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And here I was, almost a century later, about to complete my training to become a necromancer. Amazing how things turn out. A hundred and three years ago, I'd been a normal human, doing normal, everyday things. Then I'd been killed and resurrected.Bookmark here

The final task: create a Necros. I'd been struggling with this part for twenty five years now. If I couldn't do it I'd be unrevived and dropped in the ocean.Bookmark here

My heart was thudding against my ribs as I looked at the skeleton i was to animate. It still felt good. I'd never forget the emptiness...Bookmark here

I took a deep breath, and started chanting.Bookmark here

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