The Witch and the Lich: Prologue - From the Grave, I Awaken.

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Growing up, I always aspired to become an author, known widely by the public. I can recall all the days and nights I spent avoiding my colleagues and instead focusing on practicing my writing. You may think it's tiring, but I think it's enjoyable steadily seeing myself improving with each new piece and presenting it to the people. They seem to adore it, though these tales are on websites I wouldn't consider very 'familiar' in such a writing style like mine, so I'm not sure if that's saying much, but regardless.

I hope I get to make a living off of this eventually. One day, the world will hear the name Ash Sterling roaring through the streets. Just you wait, people. A little bit of luck and patience is all I need.

Soon, I said to myself, one day—

—Or so I thought.

"Wake up, Sterling."

…..
"You've been asleep for some time now. It's about time you rise from your grave."

….

"Now, wake up!"

..

.

My eyes open, and darkness met me, pure and utter gloom. The ground I rested on was dirty and muddy, like earth. Have I been buried? It was a miracle I managed to survive without any oxygen to breathe. Wait, no. I’m not breathing at all. That's odd. Well, regardless, that’s the least of my worries. I need to get out of here.

After a moment of struggling, I manage to lift my right arm from the ground. It feels the gush of wind flowing past it, though it's as if the breeze is streaming through it too. Anyways, I free my left arm and soon enough, I pull myself from the soil, and my eyes adjust to the now-bright surroundings. It is a garden of various kinds of flowers; daisies, sunflowers, roses, you name it. Breathtaking, I ponder, which makes sense since I'm not even breathing.

As I gaze at the bright and peaceful atmosphere, my view fixates on a young girl approaching me. She has hazel brown irises and hair, fair skin, round glasses, a tattered cape, and the most noticeable of all, a witch's hat resting on her head. I try to take a step back, but I forgot I was still partially grounded.

"Good afternoon, Ash! Fancy seeing you here, huh?" she says in a confident tone and hands on her hips.

"Excuse me? Have I met you before? How do you know my name?" I respond in a horrid voice. Just how long was I asleep?

"No, we haven't. I just assumed that's your name with it being engraved on your tombstone and all," she points behind me.

I turn my head, and there, I see my name 'Ash Sterling' imprinted onto a gravestone covered in moss and vines. Which only adds to the confusion.

"I can tell you don't know anything about where you are or what the hell is happening, so let little ol' me explain it to you, Ash," she leads out a hand. I hesitate before holding it, and she pulls me from the earth. It took a while to balance myself before the mysterious girl sits me down and rummages through her bag. I take a peek, and a bundle of potions, books, and notes present themselves.

"What? You curious?" she remarks suddenly.

I immediately turn away, "No."

She takes out a book. It reads 'Creatures and Beings 101.' I squint my eyes, "What is that?… Wait, now that I think about it-"

"Hm?" she raises an eyebrow and searches through the pages.

"What's your name? You haven't told me yet."

"Oh yeah, forgot about that."

Apparently.

"My name is Darla, Darla Starlight. As you can tell, I am a witch in training. Apologies for the late introduction, Ms. Sterling."

Before long, Darla stops and points at a page detailing a group of creatures called 'Liches.' She turns to me with a smirk on her face.

"You see this?" she gestures the book to me.

"What about it?"

Darla expresses in glee while clasping her hands, "That's where you belong now!"

"W-what?" I stutter, bewildered by what she said as if it's blissful news for anyone hearing it. What even is a 'Lich,' anyways?

"Right, so…" she pauses while rubbing her chin. "Liches such as yourself are people that used to be dead before being brought back-"

"Like a zombie?"

Darla chuckled, "No, no, no. You see Prometheans, or what you call 'zombies,' are raised through scientific methods. Does it look like I'm a scientist to you? Exactly. I'm only a necromancer, that's all. You're welcome for giving you your life back, by the way," she leans her head closer to me as she says that.

I move away. "Thank you?"

"No prob, Bob," she straightens herself. As I clear my throat, I gawk at my skeletal feet. I almost frighten myself at the sight of them.

She continues, "Moving on, since you're a Lich, you don't have to worry at all about decaying."

At least I won't be dealing with something like that. This conversation regarding my 'kind' proceeds until, unbeknownst to us, we see the sun is about to set, and the sky is now a citrus shade.

"Ah, I didn't notice we were talking for this long. We should hurry home before my mom yells at us."

"We?" I question. "What do you mean 'we?'"

"Did I not tell you already? Silly me." How careless can one person be? "Well, my mother and I agreed that if I was able to bring somebody back from the dead, I'd get to keep it."

What am I, a pet?

"But why? Why would you do something like this for me? We know practically nothing about each other."

"Well, that may be a good point, but-" Darla stands and walks in front of me, arms behind her back and lowering her head to my level.

"-I know you're a friendly person to be with, so I don't mind." I back away.

"R-really?"

"Yeah," she scratches the back of her head and giggles before grabbing my arm and abruptly drawing me to my feet, startling me. I pull my hand away, almost falling.

"Let's go home now, shall we, Ash?" she cheerfully exclaims, a warm smile spreading across her face as the golden light reflects off her glasses.

What's with her this time? Just before, she was acting like some teasing brat, unfortunately, attached to me. But now, she's swiftly shifted into this more benevolent and happy-go-lucky girl. Is it just me, or is this feeling something else entirely? A brief moment of silence passes as I stand there like an idiot. Then, I return to reality.

"Oh, yeah…let's head home, Darla." I avert my gaze from her. She laughs once more before holding my hand and leading me as we part from the garden. Flowers line both sides of the dirt path as the clouds gradually blend into the evening.

I hope I can trust her. I have nowhere else to go anyways. Thank goodness she's a kind person. I'd be dead otherwise. I mean, I already am dead. Either way, though, I can't wait to get to know her better. She piques my interest. I don't understand why, but she does. Let's see where this journey takes me. I'm eager to know.

"You know, it's delightful to have you as my first-ever friend."

"What did you say, Darla?"

"Oh, nothing, Ash. Just talking to myself, that's all. Heh."



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