The promise of infinity had felt almost inevitable as the sunrises and sunsets seemed to keep rolling on, but Blue still remembers the exact moment, down to the second in which that hope had been shattered. That promise looked like a crime scene now, tied up and choked by caution tape. “Do not cross”, sprawled out in bold, black letters isn’t enough to keep her out, and with every free moment she gets, Blue spends them at the graveyard.
Passersby hardly notice the young woman as she sits, cross legged on the grass. They do not notice her tears. They do not notice the little black book sitting precariously in her lap. And they certainly do not notice the strange crystal pendulum in her hand as it swings back and forth over the freshly turned soil, stacked in front of a new headstone. Blue prays to whichever gods or goddesses will hear her. She practically begs to the heavens, but her cries fall into the abyss, reaching no one, for no matter how talented of a witch she may be, no one has ever raised the dead before. Not without consequence at least. Up until three months ago, she had never wanted to try necromancy. Her mother had warned her against it, calling it the darkest of magic. But her mother is long gone, heaven is empty, and her brother is buried in the dirt that stretches out before her.
The coven had been scattered after Griffin’s death. Witches are supposed to live forever, returning to the earth only when they felt that they were ready to give back to the universe for all they had been gifted. But Blue’s brother was a different kind of sorcerer. He had a deep thirst for power, and that enraged the gods, so like an Icarus, the young man had flown too close the sun. He had always wanted more. More strength. More knowledge. And instead of denying him satiation for his hunger, the god’s simply destroyed him. The rest of the family fled the day of the destruction, begging her to follow, but the ever stubborn Blue refused this flight. They didn’t want to anger the god’s further by associating with Griffin’s supposed madness. But Blue loved her brother more than anyone else in her life. To leave him, rotting and lifeless in the dirt felt primally wrong.
The days leading up to Griffin’s death were strange. The air felt sick and time even seemed off-kilt, but Griffin didn’t notice. He just kept scribbling nonsense in his little black notebook. Once, when the curiosity nearly drowned her, Blue took a look inside, but the runes were strange and unfamiliar.
“What do they mean?” She had asked him, mere hours before the sky had opened up and the god’s struck him down. Griffin walked beside her and shook his head, holding the notebook against his chest.
“I hope you never have to find out.” It was enough to make her shiver, or perhaps her chill had been from the sickly wind that raged all around her. Regardless, when he perished, he’d left his little black book behind and when Blue finally gained the courage to go through his belongings, she’d found it. It sat on his desk, with a little white envelope taped to the front cover. Scrawled on the first page of the journal were three words, written sloppily as though rushed:
“Bring me back.”
Blue’s heart had raced, thumping wildly against her chest as she peeled open the envelope. Her jaw dropped, peering inside to see stacks of hundred dollar bills. A little white slip inside read “$20,000”. And so began the longest month of Blue’s life. Tireless, and practically fruitless research eventually brought her to an old fortune teller called Gilly, who deciphered the strange runes to be from an old dark magic called necromancy.
“This is dark stuff, girl,” Gilly had warned, shaking her head. But Blue only pretended to care. She gave a slight shrug of her shoulders, flipping the pages over one by one.
“Has it ever been done?” She asks as innocently as possible.
“Not without a price.” Gilly’s accent is thick and slow, like rich honey. She scowled at the young woman, the thick braids swinging back and forth as her head tilts to the side. Blue dropped her backpack on the table between them and dug through the middle pocket, pulling out the envelope that Griffin had left in his notebook. She handed it over to Gilly with a frown. The fortune teller simply took a short glance at the paper and shook her head. “Not that kind of price, child. Money won’t learn ya these spells. The price is morality.” The woman tapped a long finger against her temple. “Good favor with the gods. You work this type of dark magic and you’re practically begging them to close their doors to you.” Blue huffed, stuffing her money back into her backpack.
“I stopped caring what the gods think when they killed my brother,” she hissed. “What more can they take from me?” Gilly must have found this humorous or maybe brave, for she agreed to help Blue figure out how to get into necromancy. They’d spent a good chunk of Griffin’s money on books and the necessary items to perform some less powerful necromancy spells: totems, candles, crystals, and bones. At first Gilly warned Blue over and over about how dangerous the practice could be, but she stopped almost right away after she realized how little Blue cared to heed those warnings.
They started off small, trying to breathe life back into plants, bugs, or small animals. Blue didn’t mind the bugs and plants, but every time she worked to bring back a squirrel or a bat, her nose would bleed and her head would pound like drums of war. Gilly would help patch up the young, ambitious witch and give her a gentle pat on her shoulder.
“Next time it will be easier.”
And she was right. It did get easier, until they would upscale their creatures. It took all of Blue’s energy to bring back a cat, and she was out of commission for an entire day when she brought back a horse.
“I don’t understand,” Blue had whined one day to her fortune teller companion. “Horses are twice the size of a human being. I should be able to bring Griffin back no problem by now!” But Gilly never let her try. She insisted that it was too dangerous, even after a third successful horse revival.
“The soul is the hardest thing to put back into a dead body,” She had explained. “When you bring back these animals, you are not reuniting them with the morality of the human soul. That is where the real danger comes from. Not the size of the creature, but it’s energy. It’s spirit.” And while Blue knew this to be the absolute truth, she kept pushing.
It should have been a sign for Blue to take a step away from the dark magic when the fortune teller left. Gilly couldn’t watch her spiral into this darkness by longer, and so she pulled herself out of the practice. Blue spent the rest of Griffin’s money on other, less trustworthy fortune tellers and seers, who all turned her away.
And so three months of crippling madness and heartbreak has culminated into the here and now, with Blue shedding tears over the grave of her brother, begging for life to return to this corpse. Her crystal pendulum swings back and forth, blood dripping from her nostrils as she chants the incantations and draws the sigils into the dirt, just as she had done multiple times in the past. The wind doesn’t even stir. Nature is quiet. Have even the elements abandoned her now? Blue drops the pendulum and let’s put a heavy sigh, looking up to the sky above. She wants to curse heaven and hell and all that lies in between for stealing everything from her. With the sleeve of her jacket, Blue wipes the blood from her nose and the tears from her eyes, rising to leave her brother, still lifeless. Another day of failing him. Another day of loneliness. She holds the little black book against her chest tightly, as though doing this somehow brings her closer to Griffin. The sun is setting beyond the horizon as she gathers her things to leave the graveyard. The last flickering bits of warmth kiss her face, but none of the sun’s fire can fill the cold void that sits in her chest. Looking down at the dirt sigils, Blue lets out a heavy sigh.
“I don’t know how much longer I can do this, Griff,” she whispers to the ground, half hoping to hear a response. Nothing stirs. Pressing her palm against the headstone, she shakes her head. “Why’d you have to die?” It’s not like she can blame anyone else for her brother’s demise. He brought it upon himself. As Blue slides her hand away from the stone, her palm catches on a sharp corner, leaving a gash where her skin had once been. She winces, blood leaking out onto the dirt. “Shit.” Blue drops her backpack, pressing the sleeve of her jacket into her wound to try and stop the bleeding. All this does is stain her sleeve.
In a wild flurry of panic, the injured young woman scoops up her things and goes to leave but the wind picks up violently, the once clear sky letting out a loud crack as lightning splits through dark clouds. Her anxiety spikes, as she curses herself for not bringing an umbrella, though she would struggle to hold it, with her hand now sliced open. Without warning, the ground rattles beneath Blue’s feet, sending her to her knees with a grunt of pain. Have the gods finally had enough of her dark arts? The items in her hands fly from her grasp and scatter across the ground as the wind brings her flat on her stomach. Blue is almost too accepting of her potential destruction. Maybe now she can join her brother in whatever afterlife waits for deserters and users of black magic. No form of hell could be worse than what she had experienced throughout the last few months.
Just as suddenly as the storm had begun, it stops and the warmth of the sunset returns as the wind dies down. Blue wipes the dirt from her clothes as she stands, gathering her scattered belongings. Her palm confines to bleed, leaving deep red stains on everything she touches. She straightens up, and a strange, uneasy feeling washes over her. The hair on her neck stands on end, goosebumps sprouting from every bit of skin on her body. A shiver rips it’s way down her spine as a soft voice catches her attention.
“How is it that I died first, when you’re the clumsiest witch I’ve ever met?” It takes mere milliseconds for Blue to turn on her heels, in the direction of the familiar voice. Her mouth hangs open as though her jaw has become unhinged. She blinks back what must be an illusion. But the more she examines his features, the more certain she becomes that he is very much standing before her. She shakes her head in disbelief. Words don’t seem to find her soon enough. He gives her a wide smile and all she can do is gasp, letting out her shock in hardly a whisper.