That said, I like to try and grow out of my own realm.
Here I give you an attempt at a short story (unfinished) titled Witherbrand: Fire of the Walker
“Wake up. It’s time to save your world.”
The dead muggle sat up slowly, a confused expression leaking around their eyes and down their face. In life they would have squinted at the burning sunlight, squinted at the blowing dust, grimaced at the heat. In life they had been a shop owner in a nearby town. In death they were milky eyed and mostly unthinking Inferi, weakened by heat and light..
“Is this a good idear, Dry?” a female voice spoke.
“We find the necromancer, we get the bounty. How is that not a good idea, Trianne?” Dry, reached out an enchanted gloved hand, and helped the dead muggle to its feet. It stood on shaky legs that barely supported it. “Now, I know you don’t know what’s going on, so I’m going to fill you in a bit. See, this here magician likes to kill people, and then use them as slave labor for all number of things. Then they get tossed away like a tumble weed. You know who did this to you?” Dry tipped the dusty brown Stetson up from his face as he asked, and the sun revealed a creased face like land so parched it cracked.
There was a long pause as the trio stood waiting. Trianne Deadfeather, dressed in a long black duster that gave off rivulets of mist, the residue of a chill spell that had been woven into the fabric, swayed from side to side in anticipation as she watched the muggle. She nervously rubbed the handle of her whip, and the subtle rattle of spines responded, seeming to tighten and lengthen its coil.
“No need to be nervous, Trianne. The magic that raised this fella is fading, and even if it were at full power, you know I could fire off a bunch of spells before it made a move.” He spat into the dry ground, and that was the only sign that he hadn’t turned into a statue.
Eventually, the muggle shook its head. No, it didn’t know who had originally raised it. Trrianne puffed out her cheeks as she gave a slow sigh. A sound caught her attention and she wandered away slightly to find where it came from. It would take a long time to get any answers from this dead muggle and it left her feeling vulnerable. They really should be less obvious, standing out in a wide expanse of dust and dead scrub grass.
“Do you know where he went?” Dry continued his interrogation, asking slowly. The dead muggle eventually shook its head “no” again, and then made a slow and clumsy swing at Dry. “Your juices are all dried up, fella. You couldn’t hurt a puffskein right now.” Dry reached into the folds of his duster and pulled out what looked like a wooden revolver that had been intricately carved with runes and symbols.
To a living muggle, were they privy to see or hear what was going on, what happened next might have sounded like an auctioneer caught in a bidding war between two rivals who didn’t speak the same language. A litany of spells fired from Dry’s lips, and the wooden revolver snapped out each spell as though it were a real gun, though instead of dull lead it fired magical spells of energy.
The dead muggle began to melt, then turn to dust, and then blew away as the last of the spells fired into it. When the muggle was gone, Dry blew out the smoking end of the revolver and put it away.
“Well, that was a dead end. Pun greatly intended.” He wandered over to Trianne who was still scanning the horizon for whatever had caught her attention. “Find anything?”
His question was met with a fast rustling of dying grass from several directions. From out of the grass leapt several Hodags, their horned and frog-like heads snapping in the air. Normally, these dog sized beasts would have been nothing more than a minor annoyance, creatures that raided muggle farms for food. Something had disturbed them and they had either become territorial, or made aggressive for darker reasons.
Trianne reacted quickly, her right hand unslinging the whip and going straight into a pig drovers crack, the whip circling above her like a large halo, and then into a forward crack. Her spell was only a whisper, but lightning flashed and terrible thunder shook the air as several Hodags were shattered from existence. “Baubillious” she whispered again and again until a dozen Hodags and their toady bodies had been decimated.
With a final flick the whip coiled itself and nestled back onto it’s clip.
“Now, what do you suppose that was all about?” she spat, her thin lips pressed into a grimace giving her normal cherubic face a more fish-like appearance.
“Guess we should head to where they came from to find out.” Dry answered, and began walking in the direction the Hodags had come from.
Trianne had spent ten years crafting the bullwhip. It was composed of almost a thousand toothpick sized wands, all held together by various enchantments, Acromantula webbing and venom. Each wand, crafted by her own hand from the slivers of all the wands from her classmates and professors, placed layer upon layer so that it looked like a cross between a porcupine and a black snakes scales, all gave it a rattling sound when it was being used. Trianne found this noise very calming, like a hard rain before a storm, and she was tapping the whip now as Dry set up the camp for the night.
She had met Dry Witherbrand almost the same time she had completed the whip, and it seemed as though this event, the completion of the whip, had resulted in drawing the bounty hunters attention. He had captured her attention almost immediately with his deadpan nature and disconcerting bad puns, as though he had been compelled by some hex to always make a joke even though he didn’t want to.
Her own life had been boring before that. She had barely graduated from Ivermorny School and had returned to her families homestead outside of Texas when she met Dry. It was there, after her completion of the whip, started before she went to Ivermorny and finished after she returned home, that Dry had crossed her path.
He had come to their home asking if the crops had been good, if the animals were okay, if there had been any odd changes in the land over the years. He disguised this as a curiosity regarding the purchase of nearby land. His own questions led Trianne to come to the conclusion that he was actually looking for someone. He startled her with his blatant honesty and told her that yes, he was searching for a rogue wizard that had a price on his head.
Scourers. They were the bounty hunters and mercenaries that had peppered the New World, had grown to power, become corrupt and then themselves were chased and hunted until they were all but history. Dry had confessed to Trianne that most of the Scourers had gone into hiding so deep that they had forgotten their own heritage, but that his own family had merely disguised themselves so well that they had been overlooked.
The intrigue, the danger of it all was intoxicating, and she had been pulled into his life and continued on forevermore.
Brushing her red hair out of her face she plucked a single hair and wrapped it around her finger, her favorite way to think: The Hodags came from the North but the Inferi had come from the East. Was there a magical location nearby that had drawn the necromancer?
The only major city in that direction was Chicago, and as far as Trianne knew, there was nothing magically interesting there.
The nearby lakes had an interesting history, though. A lot of dead bodies in those lakes...