• Published 4th Oct 2013
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Souls Apart: The Apprentice - GnollReader



Equis has a new Death, a new reaper of souls... Only problem is that this one still has obligations in the world of the living.

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Chapter 3: The white cat

Pipsqueak was doing his best to remain serious, but a broad smile was now plastered onto his face. Aergad had returned to his tower. It was finally time for his first lesson.

"Alright..." Aergad clapped his hands together and faced the young foal, "You ready to learn something?"

Pipsqueak nodded, "Yes, sir necromancer." a small frown appeared on his little face, "Why are your eyes glowing?"

"My what?"

"Your eyes?" Pipsqueak tilted his head in wonder, "It looks like there are little stars in them..."

The necromancer grimaced, "They are?" he ran over to a mirror and looked at himself, "Huh... guess the illusion isn't fully perfected yet."

"The illusion?"

"I'll explain it to you later." he scratched his chin in thought. At the moment, the circle of those aware of his new... duty was still small. There were the two alicorn princesses, Chrysalis, the bearers of the elements, the paladin... and Xhergis. He frowned, "It's a necromancer thing, kid." he made a motion with his hand over his face and turned to Pipsqueak, "How's this?"

"Now they're just white." Pipsqueak replied with surprise.

"I guess it will have to do for now..." the necromancer mumbled to himself and started to rummage through the drawers of various closets.

"Are you going to teach me how to do that?"

"Maybe... but first." he pulled open another drawer and raised an eyebrow, "Really, Buttercup? Inside my socks?"

Pipsqueak tried to raise his head to see what his master was looking at, but found himself fascinated as a voice came out off the drawer with a small yawn, "It's comfy! And you never take me around any more!" there was a short pause, "And I told you, my name is Xhergis!"

"Nope, it's Buttercup." he replied with a grin and reached inside the drawer, "Chrysalis said so you're under my charge from now on so I get to decide the name. Plus, starting today, you are going to get a new job."

"Since when did I have a job anyway?" something replied from his hand.

"What is that?" Pipsqueak asked, but felt his mouth fall open as Aergad held out his hand in front of him.

Standing on his palm like a figurine, a tiny changeling was staring back at him with a small frown on its little face.

"Kid, this is Buttercup. Buttercup, this is Pipsqueak." he introduced the two with a big smile.

"I already know who he is..." Xhergis shook her head with a sigh before greeting Pipsqueak, "Hi, I'm Xhergis."

"I thought it was Buttercup?" Pipsqueak mumbled in his baffled state.

Xhergis groaned, "Please don't call me that. It's already bad enough with him doing that!" she pointed up at Aergad before turning to him, "So what job do I get?"

"Well..." the necromancer chuckled, "As you know, Pipsqueak here will be my apprentice starting today. And by tradition, a true apprentice should have a familiar."

"A familiar?" Xhergis frowned, "Wait... are you telling me..."

"She's going to be my familiar?!" Pipsqueak eyed the little changeling as if it was the most precious thing he had ever seen, "She's so pretty!"

"I am what now?" Xhergis gave Pipsqueak a surprised look.

---

"Come on, kid." Aergad called from the front, "No falling behind!"

"Yes, sir!" Pipsqueak ran after him, a big grin on his face as he followed his master through town.

"Slow down, or I'll fall off!" Xhergis complained from atop his head.

"Sorry..." Pipsqueak slowed down a little, "Can't you fly?"

"I could..." Xhergis shrugged, "But sitting is more comfortable." she looked after Aergad and sighed, "I still can't believe he's actually making me do this..."

"You... you don't want to be my familiar?" Pipsqueak asked with a voice sad enough to make her cringe and feel like someone was tearing her heart out.

"No! That's not what I meant! If Aergad wants me to be your assistant I'll do it, of course. I was just surprised by it. I'm sure we'll get along nicely, kid."

Untold to Pipsqueak, she actually was a bit dubious about this new task... especially since if she had understood Aergad correctly, Pipsqueak was going to practice his spells on her. She prayed that he wouldn't start with any destructive magic.

Still, the amount of joy and affection the young foal was putting out towards her was amazing and he seemed genuinely friendly and innocent... Maybe just a little too innocent. Xhergis frowned, she'd have to keep a sharp eye on Aergad to make sure he wouldn't spoil the poor foal.

Pipsqueak's smile returned, "That's great! I'll do my best to take good care of you!" he paused, "Do I call you Buttercup or Xhergis?"

"Buttercup!" Aergad shouted out at the front, "Her name... is Buttercup!"

"Damn it, Aergad! Don't make the poor foal as weird as you are!" she retorted with anger before addressing Pipsqueak with a calm voice, "My real name is Xhergis..." she whispered, "But don't let him hear you call me that."

"I won't." Pipsqueak whispered back, "Promise!"

"Thanks..." Xhergis replied from his brow with a smile before turning her gaze up again, "Aergad! Where are we going? I thought you were supposed to teach him magic?!"

At the front, the necromancer cackled with glee, "Silly Buttercup! You can't learn proper magic without the appropriate clothing! We're going shopping!"

---

Rarity chimed to herself as she continued to work on her newest designs. Two weeks after Discord's horrid rampage, everything seemed to be returning to normality once more. The only thing that remained a grim reminder of the terrifying battle that had taken place were the ruins of Canterlot castle in the distance... and the occasional exploding pigeon. It seemed that a few had managed to escape Aergad's imps.

Aergad... that name still was a mystery to her. Even after all the events she still hadn't spoken to him a single time. The last time she had seen him it had been in the aftermath of his battle with Discord... and the sight of a skeleton chasing after Twilight had left her speechless. Was he really supposed to be the new Death?

Untold to her friends she had actually entered the tower once, trying to win the fabulous cloth she had seen in his grasp... "Oh, the things I could have created with such a material!" she swooned, but her face dropped considerably as she remembered her challenge and she shuddered. No matter how beautiful the cloth had been, she would rather drop dead than... than do that!

Her challenge had been the challenge of worms... and the objective had been to hold a live earthworm inside her mouth for a full minute... She had left the tower screaming like a filly after two seconds. The memory still made her grimace.

Rarity was interrupted in her thoughts by a knock from the door.

"Coming!" she sang and quickly got up, "One moment!"

When she opened the door, she was surprised to find a broadly smiling Aergad in front of her, a little foal standing behind him with a... Rarity did a double check. Was there a small changeling sitting on his head?

"Greetings!" Aergad ignored her surprised expression, "We are here to inquire about your fabulous fashion!"

"Your are?" Rarity tilted her head and observed his torn robes, "Of course you are! Those robes look absolutely horrible!"

The necromancer looked down at himself, "What? No!" he pointed at the foal, "He's the one who needs new clothes!"

"I do?"

"He does?" Rarity asked before pausing, "You look different..."

"You mean the eyes?" he grinned, "It's a necromancer thing... Now, about those clothes..."

"Oh, yes of course!" Rarity fell back into her profession, completely ignoring the fact that he was not a skeleton. "We have got to do something about those robes!" she ushered them inside, "Now! I am thinking that a red robe lined with golden stitching would look simply stunning on you!"

The necromancer groaned, "Let's talk about me later, the kid needs a set of robes first!"

"I'm getting robes?!" Pipsqueak asked with excitement, "Will they be black like yours?"

"Certainly not!" Rarity almost cried out in terror before giving Aergad a questioning look, "Why does he need robes?"

"Pipsqueak here is my new apprentice." the necromancer replied with a proud voice, "So he'll need robes to show his new status!"

"Something traditional then?" Rarity thought for a moment as her gaze traveled over Pipsqueak, "Yes... I suppose I could create something fitting..." she turned back to Aergad, "But you are going to get something nice to wear too! I could simply not sleep in peace knowing that you are running around..." her eyes traveled over his torn and burnt robes, "Like that!"

The necromancer groaned, "Okay... I'll get myself some new robes too! But first, the kid..." he pointed to Pipsqueak.

"Yes, yes... of course." Rarity trotted towards the stairs, "Follow me, we'll get you dressed right away!"

As Pipsqueak followed her up the stairs she gave Aergad a warning look, "Don't you even think about leaving until I return!"

The necromancer flinched with his hand on the doorknob, "Leaving? Me?" he chuckled weakly, "I'd never!"

"Good." she frowned, "Please, take a seat while I make the robes for Pipsqueak." she waited until he was seated on the couch, "I'll be back in a moment!"

---

When Rarity was finally out of sight the necromancer let a sigh escape him, "New robes... seriously?" he looked down himself and frowned, "I guess I could use some new threads... but red?" he shuddered. Red was the color for clerics and pyromancers. And while he had no problems with the fire crazies he would certainly not go around looking like one of the damned religious fanatics.

"I guess I can turn it black when she's not looking..." he chuckled, "It's not like I'll be seeing her on a regular basis..." Aergad paused as something moved on the couch next to him, "Huh?"

"Meow." a white cat greeted him.

"Uuuh... a kitty!" he smiled and picked her with his hands, emitting a meow of surprise from Opalescence as she felt his fingers on her.

At first the cat seemed eager to escape his grasp, but when he started to scratch her behind her ears and pet her fur... a happy purr escaped her.

"Ahh... there's a nice little kitty. Mom had one too back in my days." he chuckled, "You know, people are surprised to find that animals aren't scared shitless of Death." he held her up to his face, "You're not scared of me, are you?" he cooed. Opalescence answered with a pleasant purr.

"See?" he placed her back on his lap and continued to pet her, "After all, I'm as natural as it gets. As long as your time hasn't come, there's no reason to be..."

The necromancer paused and looked down, the purring had stopped.

Almost afraid to confirm his rising suspicion, Aergad held up the white cat by one of its legs... the lifeless form dangling from his hand like a doll.

"This... this is going to be one of those moments when words can't explain the shit I just got myself into, isn't it?"

Still hanging from his hand, Opalescence did not respond.

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