CHAPTER 8: Like Father Like Son
The moment he rose from his sleep, he had found himself in his bed, pasted with the best salves his father sold and his father delicately placing a treated cloth over a wound.
When Radulf saw his son was awake, he clasped both of his hands on his left and held the back of his hand on his cheek. “I’m so sorry William. I didn’t mean to do that to you. I was so scared that Death might have done something to you. Or take you. I didn’t know what I was thinking. It was wrong for me—for a father—to do that. Will you forgive me William? Please? I never meant for any of that to happen.” He was rubbing his hands on his face as tears rolled down from his eyes.
Oftentimes, right after Radulf had done something cruel to him, William faced the guilt, remorse and desperation of his father to be in his good graces. It wasn’t an act or a show, but it was a true confession Radulf made to William of what he really felt. Since he could remember, William knew his father would always wind up ashamed and disgusted of himself, right after these things happened. And when that happened, he knew he should act quickly or he would face a Radulf, with cuts all over his body, bleeding on the floor and passed out.
He squeezed the hand that was in his father’s grasp and responded, “It’s okay father. I know you didn’t mean it. You were only worried about me. I understand.”
“You do?” A spark of answered repentance twinkled in his eyes.
He made a half smile. “Of course I do. You are my father. You only do what is in my best interest.”
He blinked back the tears. “Right. You are the best son there is. I am so blessed to have you.” He kissed the back of his hand and squeezed it again.
“Enough of the tears, we have pressing things to discuss.” Bapholin suddenly appeared at the foot of the bed, yawning.
Suddenly washed of all emotions, Radulf stiffed and placed his son’s hand down. “There is something you have to know, William. Something I have not told you about me. And about you.”
The pain he felt around his body seemed to shut as his senses tuned on his father. He nodded.
“You do know what I do behind closed doors don’t you, William?”
“Magic,” he replied promptly. “You’re a magician.”
He shook his head solemnly. “No my child. I am a necromancer.”
“A necromancer,” he repeated. “A child of Malach HaMavet, the god of death. I am a master of the dead.”
He gulped. “A master?”
Radulf started to tell everything about the settlers, their origins, the Cloak and the damonens. He tried his best to act surprised, confused and baffled—which wasn’t truly that hard since from when he first heard of such things he thought it was mad. But now that his father was actually telling him what he had known, it made it all the more real and frightening.
“Do you have a question?” his father asked when he finished.
“Am I…am I one to?”
His brows knitted. “Of course. You are my son.”
A dumb smile spread across his face quickly, he didn’t have the time to think if it was appropriate to do so. “Then I can raise the dead to?”
“Yes,” he answered. “And with my talents you could do a whole more.”
Pride sweltered in his heart; he felt like he had been given a gift, like it was his birthday. He wasn’t a magician, but a necromancer. Surely, just like a magician. He could be great.
Bapholin cleared his throat. “But first, the boy has to learn.”
“Learn?” asked William.
“Necromancy is a craft. It is as much as a science with all the rules of physics and art with all the imagination and creativity,” it explained. “But without the colors of life.”
“When do we start?”
“We don’t start,” corrected Bapholin. “You start tomorrow.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You are not going to learn necromancy here. You are going to learn it in the underworld. Under the guidance of Death himself.”
He remembered Death and all his mysterious presence, and it made him somehow excited. But he’d much rather prefer to stay and learn here. “Can’t you teach me father?”
Radulf looked back at Bapholin; and when the beast nudged its chin, he said, “I can teach you. But if you learn from Death himself, there are plenty more knowledge you can discover. More spells you could memorize. More powers you could harness.”
“More powers?” His eyes widened. He could be a greater magician than his father. Was that possible?
“Any necromancer that is chosen by Death to be his servant and learn from him is granted his eternal protection and power. He is nerco untesevre. One of Death’s chosen,” he explained. “If you become one, you would rise to heights I have never even reached.”
“How can you be so sure he would take me?”
“You have already received his blessing, which means he has taken a liking to you.” He grabbed his hand again and pressed it against both of his. “It would mean the world to me if my son was proclaimed a nerco untesevre.”
And just like that all hesitation and anxiety were thrown out of the window. “What do I have to do?”
A satisfied grin eclipsed Bapholin for a moment right before he yawned.