art by Melissa Mead
The Last Necromancer
by Thomas F Jolly
The crypt had not been locked. The graveyard was so remote and so rarely visited by anyone that vandalism had never been an issue, so getting access to the crypt was like visiting a 7-Eleven. Ras had walked right in.
The air inside was musty, and the center of the room was dominated by a large stone sarcophagus. Green moss decorated the corners of the room. Ras wondered for the hundredth time if Jerome LeVine had chosen the crypt just for the sake of easy access, knowing that someday, some other necromancer would come along and try to raise him using one of the many spells LeVine had written while alive.
Getting the spell book had been no problem. LeVine had used a vanity press to put out 10,000 copies of the thing, so most occult bookstores had a dusty copy on their shelves. Getting the ingredients for the spell was another matter entirely; a dodo's beak, hair from a sabertooth cat, ivory from a mammoth's tusk, and other oddities. In all, there were bits from seven extinct animals that had taken Ras three years to chase down. Not much chance of some neophyte accidentally casting the spell just by reading the book, rolling their eyes, and waving their hands.
He placed the seven hard-won spell components in a rough ring around the sarcophagus, lit a candle made from a dead man's fat, flipped open the worn book, and strained to read the words in the candlelight. He'd memorized the spell already, knowing full well that the lighting would be bad, but it just felt right to be reading it from the book. The spell took nearly five minutes to read, but he finally shouted the last line of the spell, "Rise, O Undead of the Earth, as I Call You Before Me, Rise and Breathe Again!" The words rang loudly in the small stone room.
Ras closed the book, sat down, and waited. A hissing sound came from the door of the crypt as a fog poured in, swirling around the edge of the sarcophagus like a ghost trying to find its way back into a body, slipping underneath the lid as if ports were drilled there, as though this had all been planned in advance. Ras felt lightheaded, a headache forming as he waited for the dead to rise. He heard a gasp come from inside the sarcophagus, as something inside began to thrash around.
A muffled voice croaked inside the marble box. "Where's the damned hasp... ah... God, it reeks in here." Ras heard a latch thrown, and the lid of the sarcophagus slowly rose on hydraulic cylinders. A rough gnarly hand gripped the side of the box and an eye peeked out, reflecting the dim light. "Who the hell are you?"