Necromancy For Foals 2

by Queen Sanguine Dreams

Digging Up the Past

"Oh no, is this the right place?" Bone Marrow had been sprinting for an hour by his best estimate and found himself in a forested clearing on a patch of icy grass. "What do you think, Toothpick?" He asked the skeletal bird atop his head.

It had been an act born out of unconscious need rather than will, but the young necromancer had returned his no-longer-feathery companion from the obscurity of ash to the form of a Robin's skeleton. So long as it was a bird, the magic appeared to work the same.

"Yeah, that's what I thought." Bone tapped his hoof on the icy ground and stepped forward, leaving his frigid method of acceleration behind. "It looks completely different from last time..."

Toothpick flew from Bone Marrow's head and fluttered to the ground to peck at seeds. They immediately fell through the bird's ribcage of course, but the instinct was still there.

"A thousand years can change a place, I guess." The foal pulled his hood back with a brief glow of blue magic to look up at the rocky red mountain in the distance. "Scoria... but now with grass and trees instead of desert."

"The buildings have all rotted away or turned to dust by now." Bone Marrow surveyed the area while speaking to himself. "There's no streets, no piles of bodies, no dust or debris of any kind. Nothing." He shook his head. "This used to be the town hall, remember?"

Toothpick's head tilted to the side, his empty eye sockets glowing with Bone Marrow's magic.

"There used to be a heaping pile of bodies over there. Ponies, griffons, dogs." It seemed so recent, but in actuality, it had been a thousand years since Bone Marrow had last visited his home village of Scoria. "Do you think the mines are still around?"

Again, Toothpick gave no reply.

The young foal closed his eyes and sighed. "I'm going crazy, aren't I? I mean I know that you know everything I know, but shouldn't you be able to talk at least?"

An idea came to the necromancer. "Actually... I learned how to raise skeletons from you, didn't I?"

Toothpick's head tilted in curiosity.

"Yeah. Right here is where I raised you from the dead, wasn't it?" A slight smile came to Bone Marrow's face. "So the first wave or pulse or whatever of power I sent out made your body move, the second made your eyes glow. What if..."

He sent out a first wave of blue magic, then a second, and finally a third. The first two waves seemed to do nothing to Toothpick, but the third forced the skeletal robin to hop backwards and shake his head.

"Hey, that's something different!" Bone Marrow's smile grew.

Toothpick shook his head and squawked.

"W-wait. That actually did something!?" The foal let out a happy noise, the first he'd made in months (or thousands of years depending on who you ask). "Yes! Hey, hey, Toothpick, can you talk now?"

The skeletal bird's glowing eyes narrowed as he looked up at Bone Marrow. He let out an annoyed squawk from a throat that didn't exist. It sounded eerie, like what one would expect from a campfire story about spooky ghosts that haunted the forest at night.

"Should I try four blasts of magic?" The excited foal suggested.

Toothpick replied with what could only be interpreted as an uncertain chirp.

"Okay, ten has to be the limit, right? Ten sounds... I dunno, important? Official?" Bone Marrow had more energy than he knew what to do with, and for the first time since he had discovered his cutie mark, he was able to spend some time to discover how his magic worked without worrying about bandits or monsters trying to eat him. Besides, Bone reasoned, If he had time before he needed to be out of Equestria, he wanted to Expect the Unexpected if he was going into what he assumed to be dangerous lands.

The young necromancer had been chasing this line of curiosity like a child in a candy store without a budget. Experimenting with his skeletal assistant was the first thing that Bone Marrow had considered to be 'fun' since he'd last been to Scoria. Toothpick, however, seemed to have other ideas.

The skeleton held up a single wing, suggesting that he needed a moment before ten waves of magic struck him.

"Okay, okay, I'll give you five minutes." Bone Marrow sat down in the grass next to his companion with a contented sigh. "It's just... it's nice to be able to have a moment, you know?"

Toothpick could only squawk in a grumbly manner.

As the two waited in the grass, one thinking and the other recovering, the smile on Bone's face slowly drifted. His mind wandered towards what had happened with himself and the hydras. The ponies that had been hurt without his intending to. The banishment that Celestia had given, and though while he had been expecting worse, he wasn't exactly shocked either. He was still keeping a hold on the void inside of him. The unnatural need to keep going, to keep consuming things. To kill his problems, to die and come back, to act rather than think about what needed to happen.

The foal bit his lip in thought. Something needed to change about how he was behaving. He'd done it before, after all. Never Trust Strangers had become a mantra of his. Expect the Unexpected had become a mantra on its own. Maybe he needed another to remind himself? Don't be rash? Think things through? He took a deep breath and rested his chin on his hoof as he exhaled. Maybe something simpler? Maybe just... Think.

He nodded. Never Trust Strangers, Expect the Unexpected, and Think. That covered a lot, didn't it? If he'd had the patience to sit down and Think about what would happen if that hydra hadn't just gotten sick and laid down, then he could've avoided being banished. If he'd stopped to Think about what would happen if he said Celestia's name and possessed her vision, then she wouldn't have known about him so personally. She wouldn't have doubled her suspicion.

Responsibility, then, was another thing he decided to work on. The foal's white hoof moved from his chin to the golden pocket watch around his neck. Scenic Sights, his friend from what was now a thousand years ago. She trusted her soul to him without more than a second thought, and now she wasn't able to die. She was unconsciously trapped in a little piece of indestructible jewelry with only one way out, and that way was Bone Marrow.

Should he bring her back? Bone Marrow observed the forest around him and shook his head. Not yet, at least. While he could survive things like hydras and being killed, she wouldn't be able to. That and he had no idea how many times a normal pony or person could be returned from the dead. Maybe it was once and that was it? Maybe it was infinite. Either way, Bone Marrow didn't want to take that chance with the only other pony that had looked past the glowing skulls in his eyes and given him a chance. At least initially. He should be fair to the others that had helped him. Obscenely Rich, Frosty Pie, Bright Idea, Scenic's mother... who he felt bad for not remembering her name. Did he ever ask what her name was? Bone shook his head. More things to worry about later. Scenic would definitely know her mother's name and he could make a gravestone for her.

A pair of glowing eyes interrupted Bone Marrow's thoughts as Toothpick moved in front of the foal's face.

"Oh, right." Bone pushed himself from the grass and looked at his skeletal friend. "You're ready for ten?"

The bird nodded and hopped a few paces back.

The necromancer concentrated and one after the other, pulses of blue energy washed over the clearing as a flood of energy. The first pulse caused Bone Marrow to be aware of all the skeletons and corpses in the area, from desiccated squirrels and the like to the shells of bugs and the carapaces of things that crawled. The second gave him the choice to return a being's instincts to their corpse. The third through ninth had done something that Bone wasn't exactly familiar with, but it seemed that each pulse after the second gave more... self awareness to a skeleton of his. Toothpick had understood what he was saying less on an emotional level, and more in the capacity of language combined with intent. This tenth pulse, however, was untested. There was a part of him that was certain it was something important, and until now, he simply never had the time to sit still and practice.

The tenth wave of magic slammed into Toothpick like a crashing wave against a rock, sending the skeletal bird flying backwards to tumble into the soft grass behind him.

"Whoa, uh, sorry!" Bone quickly came running up to his companion. "Are you alright?"

Toothpick's head spun for a moment while he tried to stand upright, though the effort made him dizzy.

"Take it easy there, okay?" Bone offered a hoof for his friend to lean against. "Feel any different?"

Toothpick's glowing eyes blinked once, then twice, and he looked up at Bone Marrow. "Quite different."

The foal's eyes widened with wonder and a grin spread across his face. "You can talk! Toothpick can talk!"

The skeleton rubbed his beak with the bones of his wing. "Yes, yes, please don't get too excited."

"Of course I'm going to be excited! I finally have someone to talk to!" Bone lowered himself to be eye level with Toothpick. "Have you always been able to talk? Could you understand me this whole time? What's it like being a skeleton?"

"Bone Marrow, please." The bird raised his wing. "Give me a moment, would you?"

"Right, sorry!" Bone sat upright in the grass, his grin reduced to an excited smile. "You know, your voice kinda reminds me of Obscenely Rich. Is that intentional? Are you Obscenely Rich in spirit form?"

"Bone Marrow, I know exactly as much as you do about what is going on. That is to say, I know jack-all about any of this." The bird continued to rub his posh head. "Seeing as you are the necromancer and I am the skeleton, I'd say that you hold authority about what in the blue-necromantic-blazes is going on."

"Right..." Bone Marrow paused for a moment. The last and only book he'd read on Necromancy had been in Canterlot when he was under Celestia's watch. The book had told him a great many things that had been helpful, like how to make and use a Soul Jar and the fact that Skeletons relied on everything that a necromancer knew in order to be useful to a necromancer. There was also the side note that Skeletons couldn't use magic even if the necromancer themself could, and that by using any kind of magic unrelated to necromancy through a skeleton, the skeleton would become ash. For example, if a fireball was something that Bone Marrow knew how to use, he couldn't get a skeleton to do the same. If he knew how to use a sword or how to make a cake, though, the skeleton would be able to do that.

"So, seeing as I know what you know and that we're functionally the same person with different... erm... outlooks on life and death, perhaps we should get to understand one another?" Toothpick suggested.

"Yeah, that makes sense." The foal nodded and lowered himself down to eye level with Toothpick in the grass, his front hooves providing a resting place for his head. "So your voice reminds me of Obscenely Rich. Is that just because it's a voice I recognize?"

Toothpick nodded. "I think it's related to the sense of familiarity. A... Familiar, I think the term would be."

"So if you know all the stuff I know, then that means...?" Bone Marrow's head leaned to the side as he trailed off.

"Perhaps you are the conscious part of your mind concerned with the immediate, and I am the unconscious, concerned with things that wait in the background of your thoughts?"

The necromancer's eyes widened in awe. "That sounds really smart, Toothpick."

"Technically it's coming from you, but a different part of you." The skeleton explained.

"Wait, so I'm still talking with myself?" Bone's eyebrow raised. "Doesn't that make me crazy?"

"Yes." Toothpick nodded. "Though the fact that other ponies and people will see you talking to a bird that has been brought back to life might be their immediate concern, rather than thinking you're speaking to yourself. To them, I appear as what I am. A talking bag of animated bird carcass with eyes of magic and the accent of a noble that's been dead for over a thousand years."

"It's kind of weird when you put it like that, Toothpick." Bone's lip twitched with uncertainty. "Hold on, if I do this with regular skeletons, will they have the same voice?"

Toothpick shook his head and performed the best approximation of a shrug that a skeletal robin could give. "I know as much as you do, remember?"

"Right..." Bone raised his head and looked to the mountains. "You know, if me messing around in a forest for an hour got me a friend, then... what if I practice the other abilities I have? Like Consume, maybe? I've used that to eat locks and to eat ponies and people, so... what if I try making it more... selective?"

"Like eating an arm, perhaps?"

"Yeah, something close to that." Bone looked to his companion. "I don't want to have to kill anymore, Toothpick. I've caused enough pain and death and harm as it is, and that stuff with the Hydras and the forests in Equestria? That's not something I ever want to repeat. So if I can get a hold of my magic and I can tone it down a bit, then maybe I'll only need to use Consume to magically eat someone's leg or muzzle off instead of their entire body at once, and then I could heal it when they get the point."

Toothpick's beak lowered mischievously. "To quote yourself, 'It's kind of weird when you put it like that'."

Bone Marrow couldn't help but laugh.

"Okay, so the mines are collapsed." Bone Marrow and Toothpick had wanted to go to the last place he'd seen any of his townsfolk or family, but there was a problem in the way.

"This is as good a time as any to practice your ability to 'Consume', I'd gather." Toothpick had remained atop Bone Marrow's hooded head, as was tradition.

"Do you think it will be the same as the last time I was there?" Bone Marrow's horn and eyes glowed, the rock in front of him quickly breaking apart into chunks and then into sand as magic poured from the ever-hungry void within him.

"It's anyone's guess, but I remind you that I only know as much as you do, Bone Marrow." Toothpick rested his skeletal beak on the top of Bone Marrow's horn.

"Yeah yeah, my bad." Bone's eyes narrowed as he tried to focus his magic less on the pile of boulders and more on a specific section of rock. "If I got really good with this, do you think we could find a cave someplace and carve it out? Maybe we could live in it, too."

"I doubt you would be happy living alone." Toothpick pointed out.

"I mean... I wouldn't be hurting anypony." His focus narrowed once again, attempting to make a cube out of a rock.

"You would also be miserable and lonely. Before your cutie mark appeared, you had only your mother and father to rely on. Now you're speaking with the skeletal carcass of a bird you killed that projects your own thoughts with a different filter. Do you see where the insanity begins?"

"I mean you're me, so yeah, I get it." Bone sighed as the rock he'd been working on crumbled into dust. "I used too much, I think."

"Try focusing on the end goal from the onset, then. Imagine the steps you need to take and complete them in order."

"How to make rock cubes, as told by my subconscious." Bone replied in amusement. "Talk about taking my own advice, right?"

"It seems to be working, at least. I think we've heard the saying 'practice what you preach' more than a few times during arguments between the mayor and the guard captain in Scoria?" Toothpick rubbed the side of his face on Bone Marrow's cloak.

"Do you need to do that, or is it because you're a bird skeleton?" Bone paused his experiment to check on Toothpick.

"I had an itch." The skeleton grumbled.

"You don't have flesh to itch, Toothpick. You don't have feathers, either."

"So? You don't need to breathe but here you are, breathing."

"Yeah, fair point." Bone shook his head and continued with his practice.

"Finally!" Both Toothpick and Bone Marrow rejoiced in unison as the last boulder was moved to the side; reduced to small cubes by the Consume ability and made manageable.

"Eugh!" Bone's nose wrinkled at the smell of the mines in front of him. "How did I only notice that smell just now?"

"You were occupied with making a tower out of boulders, Bone Marrow. To be fair, you've done a decent enough job, though it's nothing like the walls in Canterlot." Toothpick flew from the small wall over to Bone's head.

"Do you hear that?" Bone's voice became a whisper. "It sounds like something's alive. There's a bunch of scratching, like claws on stone."

"Diamond Dogs, maybe?" The skeleton suggested. "They were here last time we went to the mines, but then again, that dog was split into two meaty chunks connected by intestines."

"I don't think I ever figured out what happened to that one, did I?"

Toothpick shook his head.

Bone Marrow shrugged. "Eh, maybe I'll figure it out. For now, though... I want to give a final goodbye before I leave Equestria for good."

With Toothpick on Bone Marrow's head, the young necromancer walked through the dark tunnels of the Mines of Scoria. His hooves clacked against the stone and his glowing eyes illuminated the path ahead of him. The things that scurried in the dark were well aware of the pony in their midst, though none moved to confront the intruder.

For his part, Bone Marrow didn't feel threatened. He'd died multiple times after all, so why would he be frightened of noises? Yes, pain hurt and was bothersome, but he could heal that injury without much fuss. There was the Unexpected to consider, which gave him momentary pause as he came to a halt.

"So..." The necromancer's voice echoed through the tunnels, "The last time I was here, I got lost for months and starved. Do we know where we walked, or are we already lost?"

"I have a very vague idea of where we've been and where we need to go." Toothpick admitted. "It hadn't crossed my mind because it didn't cross your mind until now."

"And that means we're lost again?" Bone Marrow groaned. "Great."

"Hold on just a moment. Think. How do we get out of here?"

"Eh... oh!" A smile came to the necromancer's head. "I've been practicing making things into cubes, so every time we reach an intersection I can use the Consume thing to carve out little lines on the walls. It's not exactly a cube, but it's still practice."

"Selective destruction in place of chalk?" Toothpick nodded. "A good idea."

"Well of course you'd say that." Bone smirked, "We're the ones that thought of it."

Three hours passed before Bone Marrow found another line that he'd carved out on a wall.

"Are you kidding me?" The young foal shook his head in exasperation. "No wonder I got lost! This place is like a maze!"

"We do have a beginning, however. We know that nothing in that direction is something we want."

Bone Marrow turned towards the lines he'd made and marked a vertical slash of rock through the line to signify that the area was a dead end. As he etched into the stonework, he heard faint breathing behind him.

Toothpick was the first to turn, followed by Bone Marrow. They both caught just a glint of metal and the scratching of claws on the stone floor.

"Who's there?" Bone called out. "Come on, I'm asking nicely!"

"He doesn't do that for everyone." Toothpick pointed out.

The face of a small dragon, or rather something dragon-like, poked its head from around the corner of a wooden support pillar in the darkness. The blue glow of the necromancer's eyes provided the only illumination this far into the mine. The thing had red scales, yellow eyes, a small swishy tail and stood about half as tall as a pony.

"D-death!" The thing spoke in a trembling voice. "Y-you are death!"

"Huh?" Bone Marrow's face contorted in confusion before he realized what was being said. "Oh, right. Yeah, I'm a Necromancer. What about it?"

It's face shook from side to side. "N-no! You are Death, the pale pony cold as ice! Spare me your wrath!"

The foal blinked as his mouth slowly fell open. "What the... no, okay, listen." He held up a hoof and the dragon-thing flinched. "My name is Bone Marrow, alright? I'm not here to bring death or to kill you or anything. I'm just here to visit a grave, say a few words, and then leave. Who and what are you?"

"I-I'm Gravel! Kobold!" The not-a-dragon replied. "This is home!"

Bone Marrow and Toothpick shared a look, and Toothpick fluttered down to the ground, causing Gravel to back away in terror.

"Listen, Gravel." Toothpick spoke in his unusually eerie yet soothing voice. "A thousand years ago, this mineshaft was part of our home as well. We'll only be here for--"

"W-we invade home of Death!?" The kobold's eyes widened in fear. "N-no! We leave!"

"Hold on!" Bone shouted, his eyes becoming brighter as his impatience came to a head. "Just listen to what we're saying, alright?"

With his mouth shut, the kobold quickly gave a terrified nod.

"There should be a pit or a circle of some kind in the mines, so let's have a trade. Do kobolds like trading?" Bone shook his head. "Nevermind. Okay, here's the deal. You take me to the pit that I'm looking for, and if any of your kobold friends have injuries, I'll heal them. Got it?"

The kobold nodded, not daring to say a word.

Bone let out a sigh of relief. "Great. Glad we got that sorted out. After the deal is done, you can lead me back to the entrance of the mines and then we'll be on our way."

The kobold nodded once again.

Both the necromancer and the skeleton groaned in unison. "You can speak, Gravel."

"Yes! Yes I take you! We use pit for eggs!" The kobold quickly explained.

"Eggs?" A mental image of a dragon's egg came to Bone Marrow's mind. "Oh, erm..." He briefly grimaced at the idea of a place where his entire town's bodies had been thrown being turned into a birthing place for reptiles, but then again, it had been a thousand years since he was here last. Was it reasonable to get angry at nature for growing vines?

"Take us there." Toothpick suggested to the kobold paralyzed with fear.

As Gravel lead Bone Marrow and Toothpick to his home, the young necromancer became more and more thankful of the fact that he didn't need to breathe. The few times he made the attempt, he nearly vomited from how bad the place smelled. He guessed that part of the reason was from the lack of air flow in the mineshaft, or from cramped living conditions judging from all the holes in the tunnel walls that he'd passed, but again, breathing was a detriment in a place like this. He didn't have to smell if he didn't need to breathe.

"Dreadful." Toothpick commented from his perch on Bone Marrow's head. "Absolutely dreadful."

"S-sorry!" Gravel spoke up, "Never mean to make Death's home bad for Death!"

"For the last time, Gravel, I'm not death. Stop calling me that." The necromancer grumbled.

"He's not wrong, you know."

"Yes, Toothpick, I know that you know that I know. We're in the same mind. I just don't want to be seen as death incarnate all the time. I can be more than the pony that raises things from the dead or the pony that kills armies."

"I understand that as well as you do, but the rest of the world won't." Toothpick pointed out. "There may be more 'Celestia's' in the world than the one in Equestria, if you get my meaning."

"Yeah, but I'm hoping that she's the only one. I'll just say what I need to say to mom and dad, then I'll fix up these kobolds or whatever, then I'll figure myself out." Bone Marrow sighed as another kobold shrieked in fear at the sight of him. "Maybe I'll just avoid people for a few years while I screw my head on straight."

"H-here!" Gravel abruptly mentioned, pointing to a pit filled with eggs. "Here is place that Death seeks!"

Bone Marrow's sour mood shifted to shock as he took stock of his surroundings. An entire village had been carved out of the stone in the area where he had first died along with the rest of his village. Small holes had been filled with straw beds, piles of rocks, dirty baskets woven from grass and crude spears had been piled up in different sections. There was little in the way of decoration, but it seemed functional enough.

The pit, however, was a different story. There was no sign of anything but eggs and hay having ever been in the pit, but Bone Marrow's mind was having trouble dealing with the flashbacks of memory and the reality in front of him. He needed to shut his eyes to avoid the mental flickering between images of everypony he'd ever known being dead in the pit and the eggs that now took up residence in the same space.

The kobolds backed away from the visage of death in their midst, some of them pressed their backs to the walls while others ran for the tunnels nearby. Ice was beginning to form around Bone Marrow's hooves as he wrestled with his past and the fact that he had once died in this very room.

"Bone Marrow?" Toothpick cautiously inquired. "You're going to ruin the eggs if you don't get a hold of yourself. Step back if you need a moment, but you wanted to avoid killing, yes? Don't be careless."

The young foal turned and walked a few paces away from the edge of the pit to take a moment to gather himself. After a while, he shook his head. "It doesn't feel right, Toothpick. I want to say goodbye, but..." His gaze fell upon the pit where his family and friends had died. "If I can bring Scenic back, why not them?"

"They weren't protected by a Soul Jar when they died, Bone Marrow." Toothpick hopped down to look into the necromancer's eyes. "You know what the book told us."

"Yeah? Well it didn't say that I could carve out lines on a wall, either. Maybe that book doesn't know everything a necromancer can do because nobody ever had the time to think about more than survival!" The ice continued to grow around the Necromancer as it formed crystals around his hooves.

"Then in that case, Bone Marrow, we should leave before we frighten these Kobolds to death." Toothpick briefly glanced at Gravel who cowered nearby.

The foal looked to Gravel, then to the other kobolds and finally the pit before taking a deep breath and exhaling fog. "Alright. Let's get out of here. I'll come back when I'm ready for this." Bone gestured to the pit. "I'm not ready to say goodbye just yet."

"Then we leave Equestria?" Toothpick's head tilted with curiosity.

The necromancer nodded. "We're leaving Equestria... for now."