Written by /u/Luna_LoveWell
You're a down on your luck necromancer operating a small cleaning service with a few low level skeletons. You have dreams of something greater however; a grand dungeon of your own with treasure, monsters and traps aplenty.
"I passed by Sir Athaelwas in the street today," I told Lirk as I sipped at my relaxation potion, perched on my throne of bleached white bones. The chair was a gift from my father from when I graduated the Academy. Back when we still spoke and back when he still thought I was capable of doing something with my life. "He had on a brand-new full suit of gleaming armor with that kind of odd pearlescent shine that only enchanted steel gives off, and he carried the greatsword Mintras, rumored to cause his foes to burst into flame on contact. Women in the markets were swooning at him as he confidently strode through the streets on patrol for any danger. I saw him from far off, and I was in my very best villainous robes. You know, the ones with the big black hood and the blue cuffs of the Necromancer's Guild?" Lirk nodded obediently even as he continued to dig. He was the only one of my underlings that had managed to hold onto any semblance of intelligence after being brought back. "Well anyway. He was approaching me, and looked straight at me. His eyes narrowed, and his hand strayed toward the jeweled pommel of his weapon... and then nothing. He just looked away and kept on going like he didn't even recognize me."
Lirk placed a bony white hand on my shoulder, doing his best to comfort me. "I'm sorry, Master."
I shrugged him off, and he went back to digging. "I mean, what do I need to do to earn a little respect around here? Ok, so maybe I'm not like Grand Master Amcerlizar with his massive army and undead ogres and his fancy lich dragon mount." I sneered at the thought of that smug bastard. We'd been in the same year at the Academy and he was always a brown-nosing little snot, sucking up to the Elders. I mean, sure, he was talented, but he certainly didn't deserve to be named heir to the Undead Throne. "I'm a reputable Necromancer too! I have minions!"
"Of course, Master," Lirk confirmed.
"Maybe I don't have the materials to be constantly preparing conjuration rituals, but I think once a day is still pretty good, right? I mean, at least I'm not like poor Lamneras." One of my best friends from the Academy had been forced into serving as a potions master for Lord Berman and had to completely hide his background in Necromancy. He claimed he'd been apprenticed to an Alchemist, for god's sake!
"Yes, Master," Lirk answered.
"Oh, of course you'd say that," I snapped at the skeleton. "Because you wouldn't be here if I didn't resummon you every day." I'd been saving up for a more permanent spell where my underlings could last for up to a month, but until I collected enough Lacewing and Gerthis moss, I'd have to keep doing the temporary spells.
"We are grateful, Master," the skeletons all said even as they continued shoveling.
"I had dreams, you know?" I drained the rest of the relaxation potion and reached for another. "I'd even picked out my awesome title. 'Baron of Skulls.' Pretty bad-ass, right??"
"Very bad-ass, Master," Lirk said.
"I was going to have a Dungeon all of my own, instead of renting a tiny little crypt." I gestured around at the pathetic little marble room that I was currently confined to. "With multiple torture rooms, an enormous pantry of ingredients, a proper Summoning tower... the works." I sipped at my potion and pictured it all in my mind, just as I had done for years. Maybe an old abandoned castle out in the country, or possibly one of the large vaulted chambers deep in the city's catacombs.
"Just look at me," I spat out. "Dirty robes, only seven skeletal minions, an empty cupboard, and not even two gold pieces to rub together! And for what? To run a damn cleaning service?" There isn't much legitimate work out there for a Necromancer, but I'd managed to secure a contract with the local disease ward, disposing of their bodies. Skeletons don't get diseases, so they were perfectly suited for the job. And a perfect supply of new underlings, once I managed to scrounge up enough materials for some more summoning rituals. But I'd become the laughing stock of the other Necromancers. I couldn't even bear to face most of my former friends. "I've got nothing."
"You have us, Master," the skeletons answered. Their shovels and picks continued to scrape against the dirt under the crypt. "And someday soon, the Ruby of Mertialz!" Lirk added.
"Yeah, yeah," I said, taking another sip of my potion. The only reason I'd ever taken this ****** little crypt was the rumor that a great jewel was buried somewhere underneath it. A jewel with remarkable power that would allow me to get back on the right track. The skeletons could only go clean the disease ward at night, so I set them to work during the day tunneling down. I mean, maybe the Ruby was just a myth. Its existence was only mentioned in a few old crumbling scrolls, but... well, it didn't hurt to try, did it? "Get back to work, guys. I want this hole to be ten feet deeper by the time you leave for the ward."
"Yes, Master," Lirk answered.