From the Desk of the Editor,
Welcome Ghasts and Ghouls to Larks Fiction Magazine’s Second Annual Choose Your Own Adventure Halloween Edition! Here at HQ we have been working to be fully operational. We have updated our page on Facebook and finally have some merchandise in our Zazzle store! We have also put out a call to any artists interested in making magazine covers to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (more information here at our Facebook event page).
I hope you enjoy this issue!
Daniel J. Pool
Night of the Necromancer
“No shit, there I was…” started Terre as she took another swig of her ale. The torch light played off the scars of the dwarf’s face. A chorus of rosy cheeked elves huddled around the piano was reaching a jarring level of screeching. She continued, “… I was surrounded on three sides by knolls and the fourth side was a spiked wall…”
“Wait, why was there a spiked wall?” Jorge was determined to prove at least one of Terre’s “tall” tales false. The ork clicked his fingernails on the heavy table top while he waited for an answer. “Well?”
“I’m trying to remember…”
“Uh huh. You mean you’re trying to make up a reason.”
Oren broke the tension with his high pitch elven, “It was Garvus the Warlock’s place—every wall was spiked.”
“Yeah, see—Oren was there.”
The ork rolled his big brown eyes and sighed, “What happened next?”
To keep listening to Terre’s story go to II.
To go outside for some fresh air go to III.
Terre took a deep breath, “well I knew I was going to die if I didn’t think fast. So I challenged the knoll’s leader to a duel. I bet him the location of my gold vault if he won and if I won I would get to walk out free.”
Jorge groaned, “But you don’t have a gold vault.”
“You’re right, but the knoll was a little racist so he just figured I did since I am a dwarf. So there I was dueling one-on-one with the knoll chief when Oren…”
“Swung to the rescue on a rope swinging my rapier as I flew,” the elf’s eyes lighting up on the ‘rapier’ portion of the story. Jorge was beginning to look seasick from how many times he had rolled his eyes at the pair.
“So? Did you two escape?” asked the ork.
“Of course. We found an entrance to the aqueduct system and followed it back to the Hauden City,” finished Terre with a smirk.
The elven singers, finally sated that no more bottles of beer were on the wall, had started dispersing into a cloud of giggles. Oren sleepily stared into the bottom of his mug. The warmth of the grand fireplace was dying out.
“I think I might call it a night,” Oren said, half to his ale mug.
“Go ahead honey, I am going to keep the night oils burning,” stated Terre.
Bracing himself on the sturdy table Jorge remarked, “I need some air. I think I might pop off for a walk around town.”
“Well, you coming?”
To join Oren on going to bed early go to IV.
To keep drinking with Terre go to V.
To take a walk outside go to III.
“I think I’ll join you.”
You and Jorge take to the street, leaving the warmth of the tavern behind. An early frost chills your bones as you seat out.
“Oh here, let me warm you up some.” Jorge twists his green digits into complex curves then lightly whispers “Ignis” and your whole body feels light it is in the sunning in the early spring sun.
“Don’t mention it. See, I don’t always blow things into tiny pieces—a war mage can be useful outside of killing.”
The two of you walk a block of the unsettled cobblestone road when a shriek rises out of the alley nearby.
“What was that? Should we check it out?”
To check out the source of the disturbance go to VI.
To continue on your way go to VII.
“I think I’ll join you.”
Oren and you follow the rickety stair case to the room that your party has rented for the night. The dusty room hasn’t seen too many visitors over the last few months. Washing your face silently in a basin you distinctly hear a woman screaming.
“What was that?”
Oren, already half asleep, snores, “probably nothing, or a pickpocket.”
You decide there is nothing you could do by the time you made it outside anyway. You say your prayers to the elder god of the hunt and ask for the safety of whoever the poor girl was.
You are awoken by the sound of the door creaking open. It is hard to make out in the low light but you think you can see Terre peeking her head inside.
“Terre, is that you? Is something wrong?”
She says nothing but walks the rest of the way into the room. Her form is shadowed. Shuffling toward you she moans lightly.
“Terre? I don’t know about this. I know what we said back in Yolkoy and I haven’t forgotten about our time in the Remsok dungeon but you’re with Oren now. I won’t betray him.”
She says nothing but continues toward you grunting softly.
She pounces on you. Her burly arms are more than a match for you. She nibbles at your ear and licks your cheek.
“NO! I don’t know what barbarian culture rules say about dating boundaries but this is wrong.”
You force the dwarf off of you and jump to your feet to distance yourself. Terre huddles on the floor quivering in the light of the moon. She chokes and coughs. You feel so bad that you go to her side to comfort her. That is when you finally see that Terre is missing a larynx and half her face. She grabs your neck and bites down on your shoulder; ripping tendons free.
You realize the danger you were in too late. Now your body is growing cold and you hear a distant call to arms; almost a song of the undead. Now she is feasting on Oren as he claws at her.
“I think I’ll join you.”
Terre smiles, “good cause that midnight oil isn’t going to burn by itself.”
You order another round of ales. Sipping away you sense the conversation lulling and an awkward silence grows between you and Terre. She starts to avoid your gaze.
“Listen… I feel bad about what happened… At Remsok…”
Terre keeps her eyes on the ale and says, “Don’t be… we didn’t think we were going to make it out of there alive…”
The cloud of awkwardness dissipates some. She returns your glance and you both share a smile. “Come on, it’s in the past now. We need more ale!”
You start to down your next ale when a scream sends the whole bar into a sudden froze state. Everyone’s gaze turns toward the door.
To go check out the disturbance go to VIII.
To continue drinking go to IX.
Rushing into the alley way you and Jorge discover a woman huddled on the ground next to a man holding out his arms to her. Bursting into action, Jorge releases a stream of fireballs at the man.
To join in the fight against the man go to VIII.
To rush to the woman’s aid go to X.
To run away go to XI.
Continuing on your way past the alleyway you and Jorge freeze as you hear something following you. Instead of turning to see whatever the problem was you continue on your way. The shuffling feet behind you continue to follow you. A groan fills the air. Turning back you see a young woman in tattered clothes covered in blood pounce on you. She claws at you.
Fighting her off, Jorge ignites her into flame. Turning to face him his skin loses it color and he saddens. Looking at yourself you see your beginning to look like the poor creature. He mouths “I’m sorry” and you burst into flame.
Rushing to the source of the disturbance, you draw your sword against a man Jorge has just turned into living flame. The “man” is some sort of undead creature. Its shrill cries rise into the city night. Ending its misery, you take off its head.
Turning toward Jorge you see the woman who had just been attacked start to rise. Her tattered blood stain clothes hanging off her reanimated corpse. Rearing back its head it starts toward Jorge’s arm.
Before reaching exposed skin, a hatchet explodes out of its head. Terre stands at the end of the alley breathing heavily.
“How did you know it was a zombie?” Jorge asks shocked.
“Zombie?” Terre ponders out loud.
“No matter, we need to get out of here.”
To make a run for the city gate go to XI.
To return to the pub go to XII.
Downing three more ales you start to feel very sleepy. It becomes a battle to keep your head up. Slowly you give up and lay your head on the table. In the distance you hear Terre talking to Jorge.
“What’s wrong baldy? Too cold out? Hey, you don’t look so good.”
You never wake up alive again. You hear a chorus of chants. Deep rhythmic songs of the undead. The next thing you know is the hunger for flesh and undying urge to march forward.
Rushing to the woman’s aid you find that she is cold. You try to pull her upright but she won’t budge. She instead pulls you down and bites into your neck. You fill the life drain from you and you fall to the clutches of the undead.
“What about Oren?” Terre cries.
“He can take care of himself, come on woman!” Jorge cries.
She turns to run back but you grab her arm, “Come on, we have to run for it!”
“NO! I won’t leave him!” She tears free from you and runs for the pub.
You watch as she is grabbed by a swarm of the undead. She fights free but has lost too much blood. She claws toward the pub but is dragged back into the feeding frenzy.
You watch in terror. Jorge shakes your shoulder, “Come on, we have to run for it.”
You turn to run but find a wall of the undead staring back at you. The horde grabs you and drags you to the ground and devours you.
Slamming the pub door closed behind you, your party tries to regain their composition. A sleepy eyed Oren comes walking down the stairs.
“Why are you three breathless and barricading the door?” asked the elf.
“Zombies… Outside… Murderous intent…”
“Oh, that,” Oren puffed.
“What do you mean ‘oh, that’” Jorge mocked.
The rest of the pub stood and close around your party.
“I wouldn’t be concerned about the zombies outside. The real terror is right here,” he said as his form mutated into the twisted shape of Uchen the Necromancer. One of the elven singers stepped forward and released the lifeless body of the real Oren.
Green lightening shot from Oren’s fingers as he struck down Terre. Her charred body falling to the ground. Jorge snapped into action crafting the hexes to destroy Uchen but he was too slow and melted into slim.
“Now your turn,” started the necromancer however you are backing away from the lifeless bodies of your friends. You back into the door. Fear fills your brain, and then you hear the wood of the door break. The undead arms of the undead pull you closer to their waiting arms.
Happy Halloween from all of us here at Larks!
I hope you have enjoyed this issue and that you will join us next weekend for more great indie fiction!