As the Asgarn warrior charged and swung his war-torn axe, Alistair contemplated how to deal with the threat. Though the sun hung low at his back over the Eastern Pass, the necromancer still had to squint to see the fine detail lines of magically sewn flesh on the advancing barbarian. A dark voice within the black robed figure urged him to reach out, to wrap chains of necromancy around this plaything and use the Asgarn revenant for its highest purpose: the pillage and conquest of those weaker than himself. The necromancer shook himself gently and tamped that voice down with long-practiced restraint. The exercise here was not to win, but to lose in a good fight or Valdim would not move on to the Void. Alistair swept up his poleaxe in a clumsy block - he still wasn’t as skilled as he’d like with the damned thing - and sidestepped the second attack, a brutal chop at his ribs, from an equally reanimate Asgarn. The second warrior, whose name escaped the necromancer, simply wanted to die in combat with his sword in hand, a feat Alistair had thought would be simple but was becoming increasingly more difficult as the third warrior, Hadwin, closed in. All of the greasy men bore signs of being hastily stitched together and were risen for this one purpose - one final shot at glory to impress the godly hosts who stewarded the mead halls of their fathers’ fathers.
The sweat-stained guildmaster raised his right hand and cast out chaos energy as he was taught by the Illriggers back at his ancestral home near the ruins of Old Ash Shir. The ball of entropy struck the unnamed Asgarn right in the chest - Torvund, Alistair chided himself, the man’s name was Torvund. The decay worked as intended, drying and cracking the stitched flesh until the Asgarn fighter's torso resembled nothing more than a corpse left out in the desert sun. The reanimated warrior dropped to his knees and wavered for a moment, and, gripping his sword tightly like a shipwrecked sailor clinging to driftwood, keeled over in death. Even as the tradesman turned to deal with the remaining threat, Alistair noted out of the corner of his eye a glimpse of wings and the visage of a hard-faced warrior woman. Torvund had been Chosen.As Alistair turned to face the remaining two Asgarn, he realized he had miscalculated. The precious second spent to send Torvund to his makers cost the necromancer most of his right leg as a bent war hammer, rusted from exposure this past year, slammed into his kneecap with jarring force. As white hot pain immediately informed his brain of his mistake, he threw a spell almost completely by reflex and the the Asgarns found their legs momentarily too weary to move. A seductive voice feigned panic from the depths of the darkness in his spirit where his necromantic powers resided. The voice said he’d fail, and all his work would be undone, but for his ability to control these corpses and force them to hack each other to pieces. Again, he fought the urge… these men needed to die as they lived; to employ necromancy on them would remind the spirits that their life had already been cut short.
Alistair, hobbling on one leg, grunting in pain, dragged himself over to Hadwin and unceremoniously slammed his poleaxe into the immobile Asgarn from outside of the brute’s weapon reach. Just because he wouldn’t cheat with necromancy didn’t mean the Karthydian intended to fight fair. As the revenant’s black blood poured out in rivers, Hadwin met Alistair’s eyes with a grisly rictus of a smile and joined Torvund in the Void.The enchantment binding the last Asgarn snapped, and with a fierce battlecry Valdim pounced on Alistair with all the fury the island warriors were renowned for. The hulking brute slammed his war hammer down on Alistair’s poleaxe once, twice, then again. With a sickening snap the haft of the weapon broke, as did several of the necromancer’s ribs, and the head of the weapon sunk home somewhere under the gasping guildmaster’s left lung. The pain was exquisite, a lesson in agony so profound that for a moment, it was all Alistair could do remain conscious.
With a roar, the final Asgarn threw himself down on the crippled necromancer, eschewing his axe in favor of throttling the guildsman to death with his bare hands. This blind rage was a mistake, Alistair mused drunkenly as he fought for oxygen, that had probably cost the Asgarn his life at the Battle of the Eastern Pass. With the remaining strength left in the dying necromancer’s body, he drew his boot knife from the ruins of his mangled leg and slashed the blade deep into the warrior’s thigh, drawing a surge of black blood from the revenant’s femoral artery. Valdim, seemingly unaware that a deathblow had been dealt, bore down with his hands and finished his last foe with a horrifying wet snap before slumping, the Asgarn himself defeated.A few minutes later, Alistair regained consciousness, though there was no clamor of pain to meet his waking. His eyes fluttered open to see the last warrior, Valdim, gazing down at him, translucent and young again, the old battle wounds and suture marks gone from his spiritual form. The warrior, still seething, could only muster a nod of respect for his enemy before taking the hand of an unseen guide and turning his head to the sky as he faded away.Alistair tried to speak, and was reminded by the bloody gurgle that he was quite dead. He spluttered and choked as loud as he could, finally managing to signal to his companion, a mouldering corpse with only half of its skull, wrapped in a protective aura of shadow. As the zombie shuffled toward him it proffered its only possession, a potion imbued with vitality by the alchemists of Evermoore. The concoction fused the bones in his neck and repaired his throat even as it slid its way into the dead necromancer’s gullet. Little by little, the life returned to the broken Karthydian’s form, until finally Alistair was able to lever himself up on one arm. He pressed the hidden button in the haft of his broken poleaxe - another miraculous gift granted by the tradesmen of Evermoore - and with a whoosh of suction he registered with his magical senses more than his ears, the weapon mended itself. Using his signature flame-bladed poleaxe as a crutch, he took to his feet once again on the field of the historic battle fought one year ago. Ambling past the nearby burial mound he had begun excavating - a hill piled higher than his head and wider than the Inn at Evermoore - the necromancer bent to retrieve his shovel and continued on.Wearily, the necromancer turned himself to the bleak cliffs of the north and began his trek home. The tattered banners of dead lords still flapped in the breeze as he picked his way up the forgotten spider webbing, weaved thick as cables from the Blood Diamonds’ arachnid mounts. The climb was not arduous; a layer of vines and foliage had covered the webs and made for a much easier ascent than would the sticky substance. As he crested the rise the necromancer saw the remains of Blood Watch North, a hastily assembled but efficiently placed watchpost, now abandoned after the need for its existence was ended. It suited him, in a way, to resurrect this place as he had done for so many months, as he had done for so many souls, to give it meaning again after it was forgotten by the rush of politics and adventure and danger, the vibrant bustle that life at Evermoore entailed. The necromancer cracked open a fresh bottle of Von Doom and sat contentedly in his half-broken chair, gazing out at the valley below. Dozens of mounds like the one he’d worked on today showed signs of toil in the recent months; what might be hundreds more showed the pristine green of grass and wildflowers that belied the turmoil the souls trapped beneath must feel. The necromancer took a swig of his whiskey and sighed, contented. After much effort, The Six were at peace, as were Hadwin, Torvund, and Valdim. It was a good day.