My amazing friend, Tiffani Noelle Turner, has beautifully illustrated my story, Das Bose. She has finished the first two installments (the story has five parts). I am posting the story below. Enjoy!
Part I: The Plan
Mad, they called him. Mad! Insane, relegated to the asylums, where no one would think of him again. He would disappear, vanish into dust, and his genius, his brilliance, would never see the light of day.
The City, the Capital City of the Great State of. . .Something. . .was mere miles away. The city had a name, he knew that (he was not mad, after all), but he couldn’t recall it. It was less important than his Brilliant Plan. The Brilliant Plan to destroy those who sought to minimize his successes in life, to destroy that which sought to oppress him.
Sane. What was that anyway? What was sane about living, cramped, in a city where you were constantly watched by city guards, who would throw you into jail for the smallest infraction, for the tiniest explosion in city center?
With the City just miles away, and the knowledge that its Doom was near at hand pushing him into a deeper fervor, he returned his gaze to the graveyard.
And graveyards. What a foolish idea! Why bury a perfectly good body when it has so many uses? Why, with a minor spell and proper maintenance, a corpse could serve its master for years.
He had tumbled one of the statues of some winged beast or other, smashing it into hundreds of pieces. Waste of masonry, really. The stone that had made the statue would have made a better house, in his opinion. But he didn’t care one way or the other about the statue. What he needed was its base. A large, flat surface upon which he could start a fire and begin his magic.
He had already done the hard part – summoning the banshees. The thralls were there, in thrall, (my, wasn’t he clever?), adding their high-pitched shrieks to his booming chants. The words he spoke were not words from any tongue of man, but that didn’t matter, did it, because he was mad, wasn’t he, and madmen can do what normal men cannot.
And so, with the red fire burning brightly, he began again, screeching and wailing and muttering and chanting, with his banshees echoing him at every turn, til it must have seemed to the humans, huddling in their poorly-made houses just miles hence, that an entire choir of demons haunted this useless, now useful, plot of ground.
As he chanted, he danced. It was not a graceful dance. His knotted white hair flew about his face wildly and his tattered grey robes almost tripped him on several occasions. Someone told him once that all great wizards wore grey robes. He wore no shoes, but didn’t notice when he stubbed his toe against the edge of the statue’s base, so intense was his dervish.
And one by one, the dead began to rise.
Their grunts were muffled by the dirt, dirt that filled their mouths and nostrils and buried them six feet deep. But slowly, and with great deliberation, they climbed from their graves and stood before him in more-or-less neat rows, numbering into the hundreds. As each one climbed from his particular hole in the ground, he added his voice to those of the banshees and the sorcerer’s magic was strengthened.
Finally, the graveyard looked less like a graveyard and more like the playground for monstrous hell-beasts. Or groundhogs, he reflected. Groundhogs would enjoy it, too.
But, the point was, the job was completed.
He jumped up onto the flat podium where his fire, no longer red but instead a dull yellow, burned. Continuing in the strange tongue, he spoke to his legions.
“I am your Master!” he commanded.
“Master,” they repeated.
“The City is three miles away, down this road.”
“We will take it by force. Because we have one thing they do not. We cannot die!”
Technically, that wasn’t true. He could die, and if he did die, his undead legions would be nothing more than shambling corpses. They needed his magic, they needed his cunning, and most of all they needed his commands, in order to destroy the City and all those who dwelt within.
He smelled something burning and found his mousy robes smoking. He jumped off the flat, fire-filled plane, and stomped on the back of his robe, before marching up the road, his undead hordes following.
Mad, they called him.
Let me show you “mad.”