Young Writers Society


E - Everyone

The Ten-Year-Old Necromancer: Chapter Six

by Horisun


I’m sitting outside the house, the damp grass soaking through my jeans. It must’ve rained the other night. Water dots my skin, despite the sun shining overhead.

Grandma is across from me. Her eyes are glazed over completely, her dark brown pupils swallowing her face whole, like a deer in headlights.

In between us is a fat hairy rabbit, thrice the size of any I’ve ever seen. It’s legs have been crushed beneath something heavy, likely the wheels of a careless driver. Grandma cleaned up all the blood before we sat down, but she couldn’t rid the air of the rancid smell.

“Grandma,” I say, “What’re-?”

“Hush.”

I purse my lips and roll back until blades of grass pierce my shirt, itching my spine. I throw my air and stretch my fingers as far as they’ll go. There was a titan from Greek Mythology who was charged with holding up the sky. His name was Atlas. As I stair up into the too-bright blue, I imagine I’m him.

“Kimberly, sit up please.”

I grunt, “It’s Kim.”

There’s a beat, and Grandma responds, “Kim, sit up please.” I do as I’m told. Grandmas eyes aren’t glazed over anymore- now they’re pinned on me. The rabbit hasn’t moved, but the bleeding has stopped altogether, and it’s legs no longer look like chunks of meat dragged along behind it. If it weren’t for it’s utter stillness, I might’ve thought it alive.

“What did you do with it?” I ask as I lean forward. The smell of death has faded. It’s still there, but I’m no longer choking on it.

“When you resurrected the frogs in your classroom, do you think anyone could’ve mistaken them for the living?”

I shake my head, “No. Some of them dragged their guts behind them. Some of them didn’t even look like frogs anymore.” I pause. Such a memory should disturb me.

“Such a thing is common with new necromancers, when they don’t understand the intricacies of the craft.” Grandma says, “It’s like filling a bucket with a hole in the bottom. You brought that book I asked you?”

From my bag, I remove The Biology of a Marsh Hare and set it down beside the rabbit. “Right here.”

Grandma nods, “Go ahead and flip to page thirty-six.”

I oblige and find two illustrated diagrams of a Marsh Hares leg muscles and skeletal structure.

Grandma nudges the hares top leg out of the way, revealing that the other is still in total wreck.

“Do you remember how it felt? When you first used your magic?”

I wrinkle my nose and think. “It happened really fast. I don’t really know.” After a moment, I say, “There was kind of- a weight. I could feel all the frogs hopping in every direction. Even once I left the room, I still knew where every one of them were. At least for a while.” I fold my hands into my lap and stare off into the swamp. “I can’t sense any of them anymore, except for my familiar. She’s in my room, on my windowsill. I can feel the way the sun hits her skin.”

“With the exception of familiars, it takes an active effort on the necromancers part to keep the undead moving.”

“Why is that? If resurrecting that’s easier, why do anything else?”

“It’s not so simple.” Grandma says, “Either subconsciously or otherwise, a necromancer imbues part of their magic into their familiar, which, for all intents and purposes, gives them a life of its own. We can’t do that too often, otherwise our own lives fade.”

“Okay, but-“ I glance around the yard, “Where’s yours?”

Grandma frowns, her whole face turning to stone. “Dead.” She says simply. The blood drains from my cheeks.

“How? But wasn’t it already?”

“Enough!”

I startle upright, then hunch back down.

“I’m sorry.” I whisper. “It’s a sore subject. I should’ve known.”

Grandma eases back. “The hare,” she says.

I nod and do as I’m told.

Hours pass before I manage to make any headway in fixing the rabbits leg. When it was done, Grandma merely glanced at it and said, “adequate.”

I’m supposed to be inside now, while Grandma goes back out to town. But I grow restless alone in the dingy hut. I’m afraid of the woods and what lurks there, but I’m even more afraid of my own thoughts.

I don’t go far- barely past where me and Grandma sat earlier this morning, but I already feel like someone is watching me. The hairs on my neck stand straight up, and there’s a faint tingling in the back of my skull.

I suppress the urge to dark straight back inside and plant my feet. If it’s the monster, I want a good look at it.

“I know you’re out there.” I say, “I’m not afraid of you.”

“I should hope not.” From the shadows steps Jasmine, holding a basket that smells of baked goods and flowers, “That would make befriending you quite awkward.”

I stare at her. She’s straightened her hair and tied it into a ponytail, which reaches all the way down to her waste. She’s smiling at me, but there’s an edge to her voice, and her toes are point back the way she came, like she’s ready to bolt at any moment. I quickly recover, “Why’re you here?”

She holds the basket out to me, though, since there’s a six feet gap between us, I have to stumble over uneven ground to reach her. “I told Mom about you. Said there’s a girl my age living with The Witch. She said to avoid you at any cost, but Dad overheard and made you this.”

I take the basket from her and examine its contents. It’s filled to the brim with cookies and a multitude of teas.

Jasmine watches me with her head cocked to the side, “My dad says I shouldn’t call Mrs. Beatrice a witch. But everyone else does it, so I kinda figured it was her job. But Dad says she’s more of a doctor anyhow.”

“You’re dad says a lot of stuff.”

Jasmine nods, “Yes, and it’s very annoying. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone because he talks a lot. Though I suppose, if you talk enough, you might eventually stumble on something clever.”

“You talk a lot too.” I say before I think.

Jasmines face goes red, and she takes a step back from me. “That’s not nice!”

I clutch the basket to my chest and don’t meet her withering gaze, “Sorry. Thank you for the cookies.”

“It’s no problem.” She says curtly. Then she turns and walks off into the trees.

Too late, I wonder whether I should’ve let her go so close to sunset- I could’ve at least invited her inside to wait for Grandma to get back, so she could drive her home.

Though, to be fair, I think, she’s lived her all her life. She knows her way around. I bet she does this all the time.

Still a little embarrassed, I turn on my heel and head inside. I set the cookies on the table, not especially hungry. 


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Thu Dec 15, 2022 5:33 am
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KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Okayy well this was an interesting bit here. We've got our first little lesson in how to do proper Necromancy and I think the grandma was relatively consistent on this one at least throughout this particular chapter as she did that spot of teaching. Very intriguing little moment at the end there too.

Anyway let's get right to it,

I’m sitting outside the house, the damp grass soaking through my jeans. It must’ve rained the other night. Water dots my skin, despite the sun shining overhead.

Grandma is across from me. Her eyes are glazed over completely, her dark brown pupils swallowing her face whole, like a deer in headlights.

In between us is a fat hairy rabbit, thrice the size of any I’ve ever seen. It’s legs have been crushed beneath something heavy, likely the wheels of a careless driver. Grandma cleaned up all the blood before we sat down, but she couldn’t rid the air of the rancid smell.


Well this is definitely one place to start a necromancy lesson. I did not expect us to run right into some roadkill there, but it definitely seems like a fairly safe and pretty simple place to start if one can actually get over all the mess here although it looks like Grandma dealt with that already without too much trouble. I suppose this isn't the first time this has happened.

“Grandma,” I say, “What’re-?”

“Hush.”

I purse my lips and roll back until blades of grass pierce my shirt, itching my spine. I throw my air and stretch my fingers as far as they’ll go. There was a titan from Greek Mythology who was charged with holding up the sky. His name was Atlas. As I stair up into the too-bright blue, I imagine I’m him.


Well that was quite possibly the most random reference to Greek mythology that I have ever seen but I love how perfect it seems for Kim to just think that completely out of the blue given what we know of her so far.

There’s a beat, and Grandma responds, “Kim, sit up please.” I do as I’m told. Grandmas eyes aren’t glazed over anymore- now they’re pinned on me. The rabbit hasn’t moved, but the bleeding has stopped altogether, and it’s legs no longer look like chunks of meat dragged along behind it. If it weren’t for it’s utter stillness, I might’ve thought it alive.


Ooooh well that took a second there for Grandma to come around the nickname from the likes of it, but the fact that she agrees right at this moment feels like a bit of an alive branch of sorts right before what seems like a first lesson in necromancy here.

“What did you do with it?” I ask as I lean forward. The smell of death has faded. It’s still there, but I’m no longer choking on it.

“When you resurrected the frogs in your classroom, do you think anyone could’ve mistaken them for the living?”

I shake my head, “No. Some of them dragged their guts behind them. Some of them didn’t even look like frogs anymore.” I pause. Such a memory should disturb me.


Well that's a lovely observation to have there, both the idea of how that first necromancy really didn't end up doing much to make the frogs actually look life like and how somehow Kim seems very numb that sort of image already.

“Such a thing is common with new necromancers, when they don’t understand the intricacies of the craft.” Grandma says, “It’s like filling a bucket with a hole in the bottom. You brought that book I asked you?”

From my bag, I remove The Biology of a Marsh Hare and set it down beside the rabbit. “Right here.”

Grandma nods, “Go ahead and flip to page thirty-six.”

I oblige and find two illustrated diagrams of a Marsh Hares leg muscles and skeletal structure.


Oooh well this is making this situation a lot more interesting here. I didn't think we'd be diving into this sort of thing here with necromancy but it definitely adds a lovely extra bit to the concept of magic in this world and I'm loving it.

“Do you remember how it felt? When you first used your magic?”

I wrinkle my nose and think. “It happened really fast. I don’t really know.” After a moment, I say, “There was kind of- a weight. I could feel all the frogs hopping in every direction. Even once I left the room, I still knew where every one of them were. At least for a while.” I fold my hands into my lap and stare off into the swamp. “I can’t sense any of them anymore, except for my familiar. She’s in my room, on my windowsill. I can feel the way the sun hits her skin.”

“With the exception of familiars, it takes an active effort on the necromancers part to keep the undead moving.”

“Why is that? If resurrecting that’s easier, why do anything else?”


Well that's an interesting little mechanic to introduce right away. I love how much thought seems to have been put into the magic behind this whole thing because that really does seem like a major driving force so all these little rules to keep it all consistent is a lovely addition.

“It’s not so simple.” Grandma says, “Either subconsciously or otherwise, a necromancer imbues part of their magic into their familiar, which, for all intents and purposes, gives them a life of its own. We can’t do that too often, otherwise our own lives fade.”

“Okay, but-“ I glance around the yard, “Where’s yours?”

Grandma frowns, her whole face turning to stone. “Dead.” She says simply. The blood drains from my cheeks.

“How? But wasn’t it already?”

“Enough!”

I startle upright, then hunch back down.


Well that was a touchier subject than I was expecting it to be although I definitely should have seen that one coming. Familiars probably form some pretty strong bonds, especially if this one lasted for a significant part of Grandma's life here before whatever happened to cause this whole issue.

Hours pass before I manage to make any headway in fixing the rabbits leg. When it was done, Grandma merely glanced at it and said, “adequate.”

I’m supposed to be inside now, while Grandma goes back out to town. But I grow restless alone in the dingy hut. I’m afraid of the woods and what lurks there, but I’m even more afraid of my own thoughts.


Well okayy it seems that grandma here is a bit of a strict teacher and also it appears that the whole experience the other day is being trusted with having provided Kim with enough of a fright that Kim wouldn't just run away again.

“I should hope not.” From the shadows steps Jasmine, holding a basket that smells of baked goods and flowers, “That would make befriending you quite awkward.”

I stare at her. She’s straightened her hair and tied it into a ponytail, which reaches all the way down to her waste. She’s smiling at me, but there’s an edge to her voice, and her toes are point back the way she came, like she’s ready to bolt at any moment. I quickly recover, “Why’re you here?”

She holds the basket out to me, though, since there’s a six feet gap between us, I have to stumble over uneven ground to reach her. “I told Mom about you. Said there’s a girl my age living with The Witch. She said to avoid you at any cost, but Dad overheard and made you this.”


Okayyy that is...quite the start here. Jasmine deciding to go full on hiding in the woods and jumping out with a catchphrase is already pretty strange but that was far too perfectly timed for that just be a coincidence and even if that wasn't already curious enough this comment about the cookies and the witch situation definitely makes things very intriguing here. It looks like that reputation isn't so much of a joke after all, but it seems like its also not quite as widespread as was implied but rather some people in the town do seem to have some sympathy.

Jasmine watches me with her head cocked to the side, “My dad says I shouldn’t call Mrs. Beatrice a witch. But everyone else does it, so I kinda figured it was her job. But Dad says she’s more of a doctor anyhow.”

“You’re dad says a lot of stuff.”

Jasmine nods, “Yes, and it’s very annoying. He thinks he’s smarter than everyone because he talks a lot. Though I suppose, if you talk enough, you might eventually stumble on something clever.”


Okayy that's a very interesting little conversation there. Definitely makes for an interesting little expansion on what sort of person Jasmine happens to be as a character and of course the now actually far more interesting character in the background which is of course Jasmine's dad who seems to have a lot of opinions on a lot of things.

“You talk a lot too.” I say before I think.

Jasmines face goes red, and she takes a step back from me. “That’s not nice!”

I clutch the basket to my chest and don’t meet her withering gaze, “Sorry. Thank you for the cookies.”

“It’s no problem.” She says curtly. Then she turns and walks off into the trees.


Well Kim going in with a bit of a burn there. As much as it feels like that was deserved there for Jasmine in some sense that feels like a bit of a roast there by Kim that was slightly uncalled for on her part. She's definitely a little pricklier than expected, but we'll see what becomes of this interaction soon enough.

Too late, I wonder whether I should’ve let her go so close to sunset- I could’ve at least invited her inside to wait for Grandma to get back, so she could drive her home.

Though, to be fair, I think, she’s lived her all her life. She knows her way around. I bet she does this all the time.

Still a little embarrassed, I turn on my heel and head inside. I set the cookies on the table, not especially hungry.


Hmm well that's an interesting ending. Kim having a momentary bit of concern there right after that whole burn situation makes a lot of sense but I'm also wondering if this is somehow a little touch of foreshadowing here.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall I think this makes for a pretty solid first lesson moment here. We get some more solid ground rules on the whole idea of necromancy and get an interesting introduction to Jasmine and her family. I can't wait to see what more of this we end up running into.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry




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Tue Dec 13, 2022 12:42 pm
Liminality wrote a review...



Hi there Horisun! Lim here with a review.

First Impressions

This chapter feels like a little breather, which I like. It’s definitely interesting to find out more about how necromancy works in this setting. I’m curious about grandma’s familiar. Maybe her experience with the familiar was how she found out the ‘truly’ dead can’t come back to life? <.< I hope Jasmine will have a chance to befriend Kim on better terms soon. And I’m also curious about Jasmine’s dad, because he seems like an unusual person compared to the others in the town.

Plot and Characters

I kind of feel that the focus of the story is more about Kim’s conflict with the monster in the swamp than it is just about her mastering her necromantic powers? I think I get that feeling since the parts where she learn about her powers have a more relaxed and laid-back atmosphere, whereas the monster scenes are more tense and seem to drive the plot forward more (for example, is there a reason why Jasmine turned up when Kim expected the monster to appear in this chapter? Hmm). Kim fixing the rabbit/hare’s leg also occurs in about a sentence or two instead of receiving a lot of focus, so I feel like the ‘main points’ of this chapter were more about the familiars, the monster and Jasmine showing up.

Descriptions

Something I think could be improved is the description of characters’ gestures and actions. At times it feels like a lot of actions happen in one sentence, one right after another. I at least find it easier to process when the two actions are related or are done by the same person, for example:

I take the basket from her and examine its contents.

This works just nicely for me.
I clutch the basket to my chest and don’t meet her withering gaze,

I found this a bit confusing, since one is a positive (“I *did* clutch the basket”) and the other is a negative or something not done (“I did *not* meet her withering gaze”), yet they are combined with ‘and’.
I suppress the urge to dark straight back inside and plant my feet.

I think the “plant my feet” thing is supposed to describe what Kim does instead of going back inside, but because of the sentence structure, it kind of seems that what her urge was telling her to do was to go inside and then plant her feet inside the house. I hope that explanation makes sense – let me know if it doesn’t ^^’

Worldbuilding

Something I particularly enjoyed in this chapter was getting to know more about how necromancy works. The descriptions of how Kim could sense her familiar were really cool and I could imagine how it felt to be able to do that.
“Either subconsciously or otherwise, a necromancer imbues part of their magic into their familiar, which, for all intents and purposes, gives them a life of its own. We can’t do that too often, otherwise our own lives fade.”

I also liked this explanation of how the familiars work and am kind of keen to see it play out. Maybe a necromancer that Grandma once knew suffered the consequence of reviving their familiar too many times? :0 Or some other necromancer in the history of necromancers? It’s a good limitation to put on powers of reanimating the dead, anyhow, because otherwise said power might seem a bit less grounded than it is here.

Overall

This was a nice reflective chapter that builds on some of the conflicts in the previous ones, like Kim needing to learn about necromancy and the truth in her family, as well as her trouble socializing with other kids and Grandma’s relationship to the rest of the town.

Hope this helps and feel free to ask for more feedback!
-Lim




Horisun says...


Thank you for the review!



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Mon Oct 24, 2022 9:24 pm
vampricone6783 wrote a review...



They’re calling Beatrice a witch? I thought that the whole lot of them were witches. I guess not. Goodness, it feels like everyone hates Kim and that’s not fair to her. :( Is it okay for me to be her friend?

I kind of like Jasmine’s Dad. He wanted to make Kim feel welcome. Jasmine, on the other hand, is a bit insensitive for flat out telling Kim that her Mom hates her. Some things are best left unsaid, Jasmine. *wags finger*.

I enjoyed this chapter and I’m excited for more!

I wish you a spectacular day/night!





Memories, left untranslated, can be disowned; memories untranslatable can become someone else’s story.
— YiYun Li