It seemed like my heart was about to jump out of my chest from excitement. Then, it would leap along the road like a March hare.
“We must give a present to his majesty, mustn’t we?” a dark grin appeared on the necromancer’s beautiful lips. “And this present will be an amazing horse ‘of a rare color, riding on which, a prince would not feel ashamed’,” Reive copied Jeff Rinelon’s words and intonations.
“Errr... Reive, the horse will be dead,” I said with hesitation, looking at the dead body in the cart.
“Little one, this will be its special appeal,” Reive answered with saturnine pleasure. “Okay. Enough talk.”
The necromancer turned to me, and his face immediately became serious.
“To read the invocation of the sixth level, you’ll need to keep a really strong thread of the Dark in your hands. A really weighty, tough, and unyielding one. If you lose control, the flows of the Dark will turn against you. Then, all the accumulated power will rebound through your heart instead of the horse’s heart, turning you into a shellmouger.”
When I heard this, my jaw dropped into the grass and stayed there.
“I hope you’re kidding,” I only said.
Reive didn’t smile.
Honestly speaking, sometimes he really scared me. As if there was a different person inside him. A merciless, wild and dark person. Someone used to doing terrible things as easily as washing his hands before eating. I didn’t need words to sense this. At times, looking into his chocolate-brown eyes I saw true darkness.
“Get ready,” he only said.
Then he stood behind my back.
“Reive, I won’t do it. It’ll kill me.”
He placed his palms over my eyes, completely depriving me of the chance to see. I got the impression he wasn’t listening to me at all. What an unbearable necromancer he was!
He drew me close to his chest, embracing my waist with one hand, touching my stomach strained from anxiety. His second hand continued covering my eyes. Maybe I would be feeling very hot now if I didn’t feel so scared.
“Use twilight vision, little one,” he said. And I felt the light vibration of his voice flowing into me from behind.
Dark currents flashed in front of my eyes. Like the mist of death, they spiraled in huge quantities.
Reive helped me see the Dark again. And now, I caught my breath, no less than the first time. It was magnificent.
A moment passed, and the picture became clearer. In one heartbeat more blood and magic surged to my eyes, allowing me to see everything.
The contour of the world acquired a twilight greyness. My eyes were closed but I could see everything happening around me even better.
The dead body of the horse was enfolded in the black web of death. Inside the horse, there was a cocoon of the Dark like a silkworm egg.
The cocoon was motionless, which would indicate the animal had died simply without any further transformation into the undead.
I shifted my gaze a little to the left and shuddered. A couple of dozen steps away from us, there was another body, a couple of feet deep in the ground. A human. Old. The threads of the Dark had already become weak, and soon one wouldn’t see them at all. However, there was something more terrifying. Instead of the black egg of death, a frightening red clot was pulsating in the heart of the corpse.
“Yeah, you understood it correctly, little one,” Reive whispered in approval, feeling me shiver. “It isn’t just a dead body. It’s already the undead.”
“But...” fear suddenly seized my throat. “But there aren’t any protection posts around here! What if he rises up?”
“There, there,” the necromancer calmly said. “It’s a ghoul. His core’s still too weak. He’s accumulating power, so he surely won’t rise during this year. Of course, unless someone doesn’t raise him earlier.”
He chuckled calmly.
And I swallowed hard.
“Anyway, don’t get distracted, little one,” Reive said again. “Focus on the horse. You have a rather grim task. Because you have to not only raise an undead but also transform it. And we’ll start with the latter. Repeat after me.”
He spoke in a confident and decisive voice. And I realized with amazement that while Reive was with me I didn’t feel scared.
Einer th`irte un varge
Darge sier`e kujanblde rent sauren
Larg`enblad un marga trent
Vierge darblin ca`jso dartan…
I’d never heard anyone speak Ashgenrian so fluently. The necromancer’s pronunciation was marvelous. Each word was like music. Each letter was a flowing stream echoing in my breast, either with the murmuring of a wild beast or the thunder of a hungry abyss.
I tried to repeat every expression with manic accuracy. I listened attentively to Reive’s strong voice and channeled it through myself. And I pronounced the invocation putting everything I had into it.
I really didn’t want Reive to think I was a loser. A weakling, which in fact I was, but he was the only one who believed that I wasn’t. And that I was capable.