He stood there for a moment, deep in thought. “I’m forgetting something, I know it.” In the night light, the being was fully visible. He was a skeleton. The only thing unique about him was his eyes. They were little crimson flames that lay deep in their sockets. “Aha! How embarrassing to be naked out in the open.” He mentally recited a spell, and instantly his bare skeletal frame was covered in a black and purple robe with red and gold trimming.
“That’s more like it!”
He swiveled around, with a whirl of his hooded cloak, and examined the ruins surrounding him. This needed fixing, but it would require an instrument that he had kept locked away deep beneath the earth.
“My Lord Giraffalo, it is a great pleasure for me, though unworthy as I am, to see you awake again.” The ageless voice came out of nowhere, which surprised the skeletal being. He was not this easy to sneak up on.
“Giraffalo? What kind of stupid name is that?” He turned around to face a smiling woman, or what looked like one, all dressed in white and gold, and wearing a dress that showed a little more skin than he felt necessary.
Her complexion was very pale, but her eyes were a reptilian yellow and her long straight hair was jet black. The one thing unusual about her was the pair of feathery black wings protruding from her back.
Her expression changed to one of dismay. “But…my lord. It’s…it’s a beautiful name! Why in your ancient tongue it means ‘full of wisdom’. It is a respectable-”
“Enough! There are things I must know. First of, remind me of your name, servant.”
“Scintilla, my lord!” She dropped to one knee, causing him to uncomfortably avert his gaze away from her torso. But he did remember one thing. She was a Fury, a spirit of vengeance according to historical manuscripts, but a useful servant for him. She continued. “Ever since you created me, I have been your loyal servant, guarding your tomb and slaying all who dare to disturb your rest!”
“Well, Scintilla, ummm. How long have you been waiting? I’ve lost count of the years.”
“Precisely fifteen thousand, four hundred, and seventy five years, my lord.”
“Aha…” Lord Giraffaloo put his bony hand to his jaw, somewhat perplexed by how much he had overslept.
“Does something trouble you, my lord?”
“No no! I mean…yes. Where are the others? If my memory is correct, I created five of you.”
“Of course, my lord. They stand guard on the perimeters of this place. Should I summon them for you?”
Lord Giraffalo waved his hand in dismissal. “That won’t be necessary right now. Thank you, Scintilla.”
She suddenly bowed her head and spoke louder. “I am but a lowly creation of yours my lord and I owe you my very being! Please do not waste your praise on me!”
He raised his non-existent eyebrows in surprise and cringed a little. If all his servants acted like this, something had to be done. This was simply embarrassing.
“Stand up Scintilla, scout the surrounding area. I want a detailed report of how the world has changed.”
"Anything for you, my lord! She laughed coyly, and with a powerful flap of her wings she disappeared into the sky.
“Well, that was…weird.” His eyes trailed after Scintilla as she flew further and further away. “Lord Giraffalo? Did I really call myself that?
She was right about its meaning, but the way it sounds now…ugh. That’ll have to change.” He shuddered in disgust.
Lord Giraffalo turned back to look at the ruin. “Let’s see, if I came out right here, this should be the main hall. I should have enough mana to reconstruct it at least partially.” He began mumbling a litany of spells, one ancient phrase after the other, and the crumbling ruins began to coalesce into what appeared to be a spacious throne room, although the once white stone was tarnished and blackened with soot, giving the place an overall grey appearance. Giraffalo walked to the front of the room and sat in the throne. By snapping his fingers, fire pits sprang to life all around the perimeter of the throne room. He ran his fingers through the familiar grooves and etchings on the arms of the throne, bringing back old memories of his past life. He sat there for a few hours, thinking about his adventures and feats, sometimes laughing to himself. Then he started to think about the future.
It was time to summon his servants to a meeting. He needed a moment to catch up with the events of the world. “Summoning beacon!” He bellowed and a bolt of lightning struck the floor in front of him and swirled in a pillar of electricity. It rose higher and higher until it scratched the clouds, calling all those in the area to him. After some time had passed, people began to arrive. Scintilla walked in first, bowing low, and walked over to stand at his right side, like a second in command. Many others walked in: orcs, dark elves, wraiths, ghouls, and various un-dead. Not a single human was among them. Three of them stood out in particular. A man with grey hair and short beard walked up and bowed. He wore a suit of black that looked somewhat like a tuxedo.
“My lord Giraffalo, it is good to know that you have not forgotten us. It is an honor to be back in your service, sir.”
The lord recognized him. “Farkas, my faithful servant. How have you been … I mean, what have you accomplished while I was gone?”
“I have traveled the world, my lord. Learning the cultures and customs of its peoples, including their diplomatic relations and how they wage war.”
“Excellent! I would like to hear full report on that later. At ease.”
Farkas bowed, sternly, but gracefully, and stepped to the side of the red carpet that he had walked down and waited.
A small cloud of smoke entered the other end of the hall and slowly materialized into the form of a tall, menacing looking dark elf. He wore a flaming red coat, a red brimmed hat to match, a gold feather from a phoenix stuck in his hat, and a pair of shades. He was Sycophant the Changeling, basically Giraffalo’s secretary of war. With a wide toothy grin, he approached the throne and spoke.
“My lord, I sensed you when you first began stirring five years ago and in that time I formulated a brilliant plot to enslave the entire feeble human race. Just say the word and we can begin now!”
Ah yes, Syco, always was ambitious. Perhaps overly so.
“Hold it! Sycophant, I’ve only just returned. I’ve not decided what I want to do. Thank you, however, for your quick initiative.”
“Of course, my lord.” Syco bowed. “I sense that you have a brilliant plan laid out already. I cannot wait to carry out your orders!” He dismissed himself and stood next to Farkas.
The next to approach was a figure hooded an masked in black. He had a few pieces of silver armor here and there fastened tightly with leather straps. A silver sword hung at his side, and a black bow on his back. He was Umbrage the Hunter. Giraffalo had created him as a sort of hound dog, a rogue who could kidnap his enemies by night and deliver them to be tortured and questioned.
The lord welcomed him cheerily. He was very proud how he had designed and outfitted Umbrage, but he gave him the fault of having little to no sense of decorum. “How goes the hunt, hound?”
Umbrage spoke, his voice sounding hollow inside his mask. Giraffalo forgot whether he had a physical body or not, as he was covered from head to toe.
“The world is ripe for harvesting, my lord, a great many powers rise in the North and in the South. The ones I’ve hunted recently will greatly interest you.”
“Is that so?”
"Yes! There are many! Let me describe them to you! Flaming beings, giants, dragons … I even captured a vamp- "
“Enough! You can tell me later.”
“But, my lord! This one-”
Scintilla angrily interrupted. "How dare you disobey our lord and maker! That is an offense worthy of DEATH you impudent little- "
Lord Giraffalo rolled his eyes, “Both of you. SHUT UP!”
Umbrage muttered something about puppies, which got him another livid glare from Scintilla.
The whole room hushed. Lord Giraffalo shook his head. This was the problem with creating sentient beings. It’s true, they did technically owe you everything, but they could get so damn annoying.
He noticed that someone was missing. “Where is Scūtus?”
Scintilla replied. “He insisted on keeping his post, guarding the perimeter.”
Girafallo looked thoughtful. “I see. That is quite admirable.”
Sycophant spoke up,“My lord Giraffalo. Give us a command! Any command! We’ve been left to our own devices for too long! We need a direction to put our talents!”
The lord cringed again. That name was so…bad. “Alright! I have a command for you all.” He stood up. “You are to no longer call me Lord Giraffalo. That is a lowly name, fit only for a human. From now on you will call me Az Zhal-Ghûn. Immortal lich of the East!”
His servants all fell to their knees and bowed their heads. A sparkle of red shone in Az Zhal-Ghûn’s eyes.