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Apr 25, 2019 8:39 PM
necromancy
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It is night, and the graveyard is quiet.

Quiet, except for the sound of a shovel striking dirt, the huffing breaths of a girl, not much older than twelve, for certain, heaving shovelsful of earth out of a grave on the south end, and the sound of the loads of soil showering on the pile of their predecessors, on the opposite side of the grave from the corpse of a grown man who bears silent witness. 

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And then the quiet is broken quite decisively, as a woman appears from nowhere, falls to the ground in an uncomfortable-looking heap, and after a brief stunned silence clutches at her head and lets out a string of what are unmistakably swear words.

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The girl jumps, shrieks, and says something unintelligible. 

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...what. Okay, don't yell at the kid, it's not her fault. Probably. Probably not her fault.

"I don't know that language," she says as calmly as can under the circumstances. "Do you speak English?"

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The girl doesn't appear to understand her, but at her calm tones relaxes fractionally from "frightened" to "wary".

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"I take it that's a no." She continues talking, hoping it'll reassure at least one of them. "Okay, I'm going to just assume you have nothing to do with the... mirror snake thing. If we're assuming snakes with mirrors in their mouths that chase you and then spit you out somewhere else I suppose I don't need to assume anyone's to blame for them." She finally notices the dead body, frowns. "Why're you digging a grave yourself? If you needed remains for a casting there are easier ways." She approaches the body, looking for diagrams or any obvious signs of a necromancer's rituals.

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The girl tenses slightly when Daria sees the body.

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"Hey, kid, it's okay." No marks, no diagram, nothing obvious... This would be so much easier if she hadn't dropped her bag running from the goddamn snake. Is she going to have to mime 'take me somewhere with English speakers and/or internet', she's really not looking forward to trying to convey that without words.

She looks around, trying to see if she can figure out where she is, other than far enough from New York that she can't feel Mariam. She tries not to think about the last time she felt a bond vanish in her head, because there are very few situations that can be improved by hiding somewhere and crying.

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The names on the gravestones aren't in a remotely familiar alphabet. And the girl's clothes look weird, as do those worn by the corpse.

The girl goes back to digging, keeping half an eye on her. 

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The inscriptions aren't using the Latin or Greek alphabets, and they don't look like Armenian, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic, or any kind of characters, though that she's less confident of. Where is she?

She's growing more confused by what the girl is doing, too, digging a grave in the middle of the night, but it's not like she isn't as confusing at the moment. Kid shouldn't be burying someone alone, whatever's going on. "Daria," she says, pointing at herself, and then holds her hand out for the shovel with a questioning expression.

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The girl hesitates, then says "Ane," and gives her the shovel.

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"Ane," she repeats, smiling slightly in encouragement. She pockets her rings and starts digging.

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Eventually there is a thunk of shovel hitting wood instead of dirt. 

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...she's digging up a grave? Scared kid, dead body, buried coffin - what the fuck is going on?

She waves Ane over, pointing at the bit of wood showing under the dirt with a questioning expression.

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Ane takes the shovel back, and clears the rest of the dirt off the coffin, then pries it open. There is a skeleton inside. Ane climbs partway out of the grave, tugs the intact corpse down in--falls with the body on top of her when it turns out to be too heavy--then carefully drags it into the coffin and arranges it to be hugging the skeleton. With this complete, most of the tension eases from her shoulders, and she closes the coffin lid. 

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...this is simultaneously confusing and really depressing and she kind of wants to give the kid a hug. Is she not going to take a piece of bone, at least? That would be kind of weird but it'd make sense. Maybe she wants to keep the man's remains away from someone and is trying to hide them? But then why not just get a necromancer to cleanse the bones, it's not a complicated casting?

Just in case, she starts sketching a basic diagram in the dirt, trying to convey the offer. She points at herself, points at the coffin, points at the diagram. "Do you want me to cleanse them?"

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The kid gives her a confused look. 

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How do you express 'if you want a necromancer to clear the remains of anything that could be used to summon their spirits I can do that for you' in charades? If she had cleansed string with her she could summon a spirit to translate, it'd be messy but at least it would work. 

 

 

...she checks her jacket pockets. Pulls out some kind of stone, three crumpled sticky notes, the rings she'd put in earlier (which she slips back on to her left hand), 57 cents in coins, and a knotted piece of white string - and swears at herself. She twists a diamond off one of her rings, checks the knots in the the string and reties several around the diamond, and then plucks a strand of her own hair and weaves it into the entire set-up in complicated patterns. 

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Daria's not easily distracted when she's working. She completes her sketch in the dirt, sharpening the lines, then drops her tangle in the central triangle. Out of habit, she reaches for Mariam's presence in her mind, then flinches at the emptiness. She ignores that, pushes energy into the diamond, and when she feels it catch twists. 

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The girl is staring at her like she's a crazy person. 

--And the connection goes, and there is a sense of confusion and alarm in the back of her head. 

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"Hello," says Daria, to all appearances addressing the air in front of her. "I know this is probably confusing. You don't have a body, this is a cast, we're in a graveyard at night.  I've called you up because I don't have a shared language with Ane, and I want to know what's going on. You'll be able to understand both of us, but we can't understand each other."

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Through the connection, Daria can feel that this one is pretty far gone - it barely remembers anything about its life, but it still understands her. At this stage, spirits latch onto almost any task given to them that they can still do. It sends a wordless sense of confusion-agreement-resolve, and then repeats her words, voice completely flat.

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Ane bites her lip.

"I--those were my parents. My mother died when I was born, and Father was a healer--he worked so hard to try to save her that he didn't notice when her life force inverted and then someone walked in on her corpse being visibly animate and they chased him out of town with baby me in his arms. He wanted to be buried with her. So when he died I snuck back to do it."

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Life force? Inverted? How would that animate anything? Is the translation going through strangely? Daria - does not interrogate the traumatized girl in front of her about what the hell she's talking about. 

"Are you in danger here? I - have no idea where we are, I was walking to work and then there was some kind of snake thing, I have no idea what that did - but I can at least get you somewhere else if you want. I was offering to cleanse the bones earlier, I thought you might have been trying to hide his remains, I can still do that if it'd help." She stops as if done talking, and then her curiosity finally wins over tact. "And - life force? Was your father a necromancer?"

 

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She hesitates, confused.

"You--you're saying that like it--like it wouldn't be a bad thing. If he was."

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