The City of Locked Doors, Chapter five, page sevenMature

He glanced back to Brigadier as her own shadow reached around her, grasped the pistols, and snapped them. He strode forward, crushing a wayward skull underfoot, "Getting Radiance to make you some Light-Bullets was clever, but futile."

She drew back a step, extending her left out over skull mound and reaching toward him with the other. Her face contorted, lips parting to bare crooked, bone teeth. The mound shuddered underfoot, almost displacing her as a thin, black mist boiled out from the barren eye sockets. Her cerebral cord lashed up over her head, its tip opening like a maw.

Be careful, she using the skulls as a catalyst.

I know. Noir drew back, bracing himself as a ripple coursed up his body. Brigadier thrashed in place, her upper body wrenching back and her eyes flaring savagely open. Her fingers twisted and twined, curving first forward then back on themselves with dull cracking of bone. Her eyes widened further, cracking as they dilated around a swiftly expanding black core. Her fingers snapped straight, the skin peeling off her fingertips, "Time rules all of us, Noir, and you are no different." Her fingers peeled further, revealing pale bone as the first skulls of her stone crumbled into dust, "All the accumulated years of these dead, Noir that is my gift."

One by one, the skull crumbled away as her flesh, muscle, and blood peeled from her fingers, hand and arm. Noir stood before this Necromancy, his flesh slowly aging, growing pallid as it wrinkled and tightened around thinning muscles. His clothing rotted away and his body was stripped of all flesh. His steel bones fell to their knees and then imploded into dust as they collapsed on the ground. Brigadier stumbled and fell back, the last of her skull billowing up behind her as dust.

She gasped a hollow laugh that died even as it begun. All of her resurrected skeletons had collapsed to the ground during that final act of Necromancy, but Noir's Shadow Constructs remained. She coughed a dry sob and sagged forward onto her good arm as Noir materialized from the shadows behind her and crouched down. He reached out a dark, sinuous hand and grasped the back of her neck, his forefinger digging into the base of her skull. "Take solace in the fact that even if it had landed, aging would have done nothing to me: you can't kill a god."

She wheezed, blood trickling down her neck, "Then what was it that I killed... it had a physical body...and a timeline?"

"That was my body's shadow given depth, purpose, and a lifespan of three thousand years. You destroyed a replica, Brig." He looked at her for a moment, his head cocked to one side, "Did you really believe that this would end any other way?"

She wheezed again, "No." Noir pushed his finger forward, severing her spine, and injecting a thread of venom. He leaned back, letting her corpse fall to the ground and dismissing his Shadow-Constructs. She would have done better taking years rather than giving them.

She couldn't have know that you don't age, or even how old you currently are.

Noir shrugged. It was simple guesswork; she knew who I am and thus knew how many years I've been active in this world. Even a rough glance should have told her that taking years was a better gamble then adding them.

So that's why you bothered dodging for once.

Yeah, not that it would have mattered much in the end.

It's such a shame, you would have made a cute baby.

If you say so. Noir turned slowly, his gaze falling on the empty space Brigadiers skulls had left. Of the hundreds there was no only one covered in bone dust and moist soil. Noir stood, crossed the intervening space and knelt beside it. He lifted the skull gently, wiping away the dirt and the dust until it gleamed in the forest's noxious green light. He stayed like that for a moment, staring at the skull and then he slowly raised it to his brow, breathing a slow unsteady sigh. "I'm sorry," he whispered to both himself and the skull before slipped it into his pack. After that, he departed.

The End

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