Justice upon Vengeance
Doctor Zath Corvus
Father of Claudia Corvus and husband of Valerie Corvus
Currently travelling with the Raven, Claudia
“Daddy when I grow up I want to be a knight!”
“A knight, eh? I’m having trouble imagining my little girl in a suit of armor.”
“I mean it, Daddy! I’m gonna grow up strong, you’ll see!”
“I believe you. Why do you want to be a knight, Claudia?”
“So I can protect Mommy and Daddy of course!”
“What would you protect us from?”
“Anything that wanted to hurt you!”
“She really wants to be a warrior? I don’t know, dear…”
“Valerie, I think she’ll be a great fighter. If that’s what she wants to do, then who are we to object?”
“I suppose you’re right. What did you get her for her birthday?…Why are you grining like that?”
“You’ll see! Claudia! Come and get your present, birthday girl!”
“What-is-it-what-is-it-what-is-it! What did you get me, Daddy!?”
“Here. I asked Jerome to make it, just for you. You just have to promise not to practice with it in the house.”
“My own wooden sword! Thank you so much Daddy!”
“That’s not all, Claudia. When you turn thirteen Sir Tristan has agreed to take you on as his squire. It’s the first step towards becoming a real knight.”
“You’re the best, Daddy! I love you so much! You too Mommy!”
“I love you too, sweetie. Happy Birthday.”
“Please Doctor Corvus, you’re the only one that can perform this surgery. There isn’t anyone else skilled enough nearby. You’ll only be away from your village for a few days at most! Please!”
“I’m…just uneasy. You’ve heard the rumors too, right?”
“Just rumors, sir, just rumors. Besides, those rumors came from several villages over; there is no way they are anywhere close to here. Please, our prince will die without your help.”
“….Alright, I’ll do it. How soon can we leave?”
“As soon as you’re ready sir.”
“I need to say goodbye to my wife and daughter first.”
“You won’t be long, right?”
“Only a few days, Val. I’ll be back before you two know it.”
“I’m gonna practice really hard while you’re gone, Daddy! You’ll be so impressed!”
“I’m sure I will be, Claudia. Take care of your mother while I’m gone, okay?”
“The procedure was a success, your prince is going to live.”
“Oh thank you, Doctor Corvus, thank you so much! You will be renowned throughout the land for this!”
“Think nothing of it, I’m just glad I could-“
“Doctor Corvus! Urgent news!”
“What is it, squire?”
“Orc raiders! At Ravenfell! Too many for the militia!”
“Doctor Corvus what are you going to- Doctor Corvus, wait!”
“Doctor that isn’t all! There is something else with them!….He’s gone….”
“Valerie! Claudia! Can you hear me!! VALERIE! CLAUDIA!…No, no, no….please no…VALERIE! CLAUDIA!…Everything is on fire…Everything is…Wha…what are those things? Oh…Oh god no…what happened here?”
“A necromancer was with the raiders, Doctor. It seems he needed, uh, fresh resources. You couldn’t find your family at all?”
“No. E-everything was burnt to the ground…N…N-no bodies….”
“I understand that this is hard, Doctor. Please tell us everything that you can. We know you only saw the tail end of it…”
“Magic, Doctor Corvus? I had no idea you had the blood for it…What are you going to do?…Find it? Doctor, it was a necromancer. You’ve only just started learning, if you go after it you’ll die for certain…You can’t not care”
“Give them back! Over here, damn you! Give me back my family!”
“Family?…Ah yes, I hear two souls that scream for you…How long ago was that? You are a determined human, its impressive you made it this far…The little one was of no use to me, but the woman had strong bones…Ohohoho, calm down there. You’ll only hasten your death if you keep trying things like that. Such weak magic…I think I’ll show you just what kind of situation you’re in.”
“I have to go back to Ravenfell.”
“Nothing but pain awaits you there, Doctor Corvus. Why?”
“It’s the only way I’ll be able to save her…”
Seeking the Soul
Doctor Zath Corvus trudged through the ruins of Ravenfell, his former home. All around him lay charred and blackened rubble, remnants of the Orc raid that leveled the town years ago. Just as the collapsed houses lingered, so too did the pain of memories. Ever since he set foot within the town’s border Zath had felt as though a hand was gripping his heart. The sensation only worsened as he approached his destination. His thin, frail figure moved like a ghost through the ruins. At one point he almost tripped on a rock, not yet used to the ever worsening of his physical condition. The price for this magic was high, but he needed it. He needed to free them. He set his emerald eyes ahead, grit his teeth, and pushed on.
A larger building loomed ahead, and Zath paused in front of it. Jerome’s forge, once one of the most impressive buildings in Ravenfell, now a pile of broken stone and burnt wood. Zath closed his eyes. The last time he had seen this place it had been alight with crimson flames. The panic and terror he had felt were still fresh in his mind, despite the years. He guessed that the feeling would stay with him forever, until he eventually allowed himself to pass on. But not before he accomplished his mission. He continued on past the destroyed forge, heading for the outskirts of town.
Minutes later he had arrived. The vice in his chest tightened even further and his breath came with great difficulty. His home, or what was left of it, stood before him. A modest little building, but it had been enough for Valerie and Claudia. Now there was almost nothing left. Zath took a deep breath, steeling himself. There had to be something here, if there wasn’t then…there had to be. Slowly, gingerly, Zath stepped into the rubble, scanning every stone and every splintered log of wood. Flashes of memory played out in his head as his body remembered the geography of his home. This was the dining room…here his and Valerie’s bedroom…there really was nothing left…and here…He stopped. Claudia’s room lay before him. His breathing came faster, uncontrolled. There had to be something here, please! He stumbled forward and fell to his knees, scraping aside dirt and lifting rubble. After minutes of frantic digging, he gasped. How? Against all odds, there it was. Zath gently plucked the wooden sword, or what remained of it, from the wreckage. He felt agony welling up behind his eyes again, but he couldn’t hold it back this time. Wet drops fell against the burnt wood as he clutched it to his chest. Eventually, when he could bear the pain again, he stood. This would work. It had to.
There was a clear, even patch of ground not too far from his house that bordered the forest. It was near a spot where Claudia liked to play…which made it perfect. For the next half hour the preparations were made. He drew the circle, placed the reagents, and finally added the broken wooden sword as the centerpiece. The sun was just about to go down. He needed to be in top form for this. Necromancer Zath Corvus extended his hands and allowed the magic he all but stole from the Lich King to flow forth. He focused on the catalyst, let the memories it was steeped in reach out for the soul most bound to it. Terrifying minutes passed with no resonance, but finally a pulse. He tried not to let the anticipation overcome him as the sickly green light of his magic began to coalesce and swirl. He tightened his focus and called out to the spirit, beckoning it to heed his call. Heed it did. There was a flash and a surge…and then it was done.
Slowly Zath collapsed to his knees at the figure he beheld. His hand flew to his mouth to suppress a sob. The emaciated, rotting corpse of Claudia tilted its head at him, an agonizing remnant of the young girl’s former personality. Zath reached out a hand, hovering before her unblinking eyes. He pulled back, trying to take deep breaths.
“C-Claudia…I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t there, sweetie. I’m sorry I couldn’t…”
Another choked sob cut him off. The living cadaver in front of him did not respond, did not even seem to register his words. He tried to speak again but no more words came out. A growl to his left brought him back to reality. Emerging from the woods was a thin, sickly wolf, its black fur mangy and patchy. In its mouth it carried something, but upon spying Zath’s kneeling figure it dropped the black bundle and snarled at him. Zath eyed it uncaringly, instead turning back to his daughter. He reached out and picked up the burnt and splintered wooden sword before taking Claudia’s hand. It was cold to the touch and he shivered. The wolf barked at him, beginning to circle around Zath’s unmoving form. The necromancer pressed the hilt of the wooden sword into his daughter’s hand, closing her fingers around it. His voice, pained and struggling, addressed her.
“Now Claudia, Daddy needs your help. You can do it, you can finally p-protect me. Please help me, sweetie. It’s the only way I can help you. You n-need to fight for me, o-ok?”
The zombie did not respond, but merely walked past him towards the wolf. The sickly creature let out a few more warning barks before lunging at the little girl. Its fangs closed around her neck, but you couldn’t kill what was already dead. The zombie’s arm rose up and dropped, driving the splintered end of the wooden sword into the wolf’s throat. It collapsed, dead. Claudia stumbled back over to her father, her glossy eyes gazing at him curiously. Flecks of white light began to flake off of her body. She raised her hands to stare, as if some semblance of life had returned to her. Zath watched with wide, awe-struck eyes. Soon he felt the familiar rivulets running down his face. He reached out and pulled his daughter close, hugging her small frame one more time. The light began to peel from her body faster, the specks disappearing into the darkening sky.
“Thank you, sweetie. Thank you so much for helping Daddy. You can go to sleep now; the bad people can’t get to you any more. Wait for Daddy, alright? I have to go get Mommy first but we’ll see you soon, ok? I love you, sweetie. I love you so much.”
Zath gasped as he felt a slight pressure against his back. Claudia’s arms had reached up to wrap around her father, mimicking his embrace. Then she was gone, the lingering lights slowly flickering out. Zath fell forward, grasping at the space she had been. He pressed his forehead against the ground and wept openly. He did it, it had to have been real, and he had to have succeeded. A strange sound caught his attention, pulling him from his grief. The black bundle that the wolf had dropped…was alive? Zath slowly rose to his feet and cautiously approached the small bundle. As he got closer he saw…feathers. A baby raven bloody and broken but still alive. It chirruped softly, on the verge of death. It must have been the wolf’s dinner before it tried to upgrade. Zath knelt down and gently cupped the raven in his hands. The same green light of his magic swirled around the dying creature, knitting its wounds shut. Soon it was breathing steadily in his hands.
“Shh, there there, I’ve got you. Its ok, you’re ok now.”
A small speck of light fell from above, passing down in front of Zath’s eyes. The speck alighted on the raven’s closed eye before dissipating. The raven’s eye fluttered open, and it stared up at him…curiously. Zath smiled at the revived raven, holding it up to his face.
“There, see you’re ok. I won’t let anything happen to you again….Claudia….”