Sun’s Shade

Claire was never like the other girls. Dolls and dresses didn’t interest  her at all while growing up. She was too busy hunting and fishing with her six older brothers. Her mother died while giving birth to the red-headed girl; her father and six brothers did their best to raise her.

Her teenage years were a bit rough. Looking back on them, her fondest memory was her father and six burly brothers taking her to the hospital only to learn that bleeding was normal. She never felt more loved or protected than that moment. That feeling might have been hard for any suitors to live up to over the years, but Claire didn’t have time for men.

Claire’s father passed away during her junior year in high school. It was a devastating blow, but she made it through knowing her brothers were looking out for her. It was a difficult time for her, but that was when she decided she didn’t want to rely on her brothers for protection for the rest of her life. After her high school graduation, her oldest brother took her aside and revealed her family’s secrets.

“What do you mean, ‘Dad was a necromancer?'” she asked with wide eyes. Jim nodded at her.

“He got into it after mom died; but, by the time he learned anything useful, it was too late. He started teaching me, but he made me promise I wouldn’t raise him,” Jim smiled. “He deserves to be with mom.”

“So, why are you telling me?” Claire asked. She didn’t doubt him for a second. As the oldest, Jim shouldered all the responsibilities once their mother died. Back then, she thought her dad was too busy mourning to deal with the day to day things; now she knew he was spending all his time studying. Although Claire knew better, an average person would assume Jim just didn’t have a sense of humor. He never made jokes or played pranks.

“Dad always wanted to teach you, but you needed to graduate high school first,” he gave a light sigh. “The only reason he taught me was to teach you. John, Jake, James, Jack, and Jasper have no idea about this. This is between you and me.”

11 years later, Claire was the most beautiful mortician in the continental united states, and still single. She did have time to date now, but never found anyone who could compare to her brothers. Despite the countless men that tried. Her years of martial arts training since high school, along with continued outdoor excursions with her brothers, kept her body lean and limber.

Then, love struck when she least expected it.

Claire was relaxing at home when it happened. Even with her millions of dollars, she preferred to stick close to the farm she grew up on. Plus the extra privacy helped with her necromancy.  She was re-reading ‘The Art of War’, like she did every year when a sudden, panicked pounding came from the front door.

The sudden noise startled her, but she was on her feet quickly. The pounding continued as she edged toward the door. She debated calling her brothers, but she didn’t want to bother them if it was something she could handle. She glanced through a curtain and saw a portly man with sagging pants on her porch. He continued banging on the door while looking at something in the distance.

I can handle him,” Claire thought. She opened the door and a heavy, sweaty fist banged against her left 40DD breast. The stranger immediately knew something was different and yanked his hand away. He turned to face Claire. The mid-30’s man was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily. His loose, faded t-shirt had sweat stains around the pits and on his doughy chest. It was love at first sight for Claire.

‘Yes?” Claire asked. She straightened her back to jut her chest a bit further out.  A small part of her died when she realized she was wearing ‘around the house’ clothes. Just a tank top and her tightest pair of jeans; something about the confinement made her feel comfortable. She took small comfort that at least she wasn’t wearing a bra.

“They’re coming!” he said. He glanced back over his shoulder again, then looked back at Claire. “Call the police! Do you have guns!?” he asked with a forced calm in his voice. He seemed to want to enter her house but did not want to force his way in. As much as she wanted to invite him inside, she still didn’t know anything about him.

“Who’s coming?” she asked. The man turned and pointed at the edge of Claire’s property.

“Skeletons! They’re falling from the sky!” he said. Claire immediately noticed a handful of skeletons shambling toward them. Her first thought was that her brothers were playing a prank; but, none of the skeletons looked familiar to her. Instead of inviting him in, Claire stepped out.

“Don’t worry, I’ll call my brothers,” she said. She walked to the edge of the porch, cupped her hands around her mouth, and yelled. “JIIIIIIIIIIM!” she shouted.

A skeletal hand shot out of the ground between Claire and the oncoming skeletons. As a skeleton began to dig its way out of Claire’s property, she yelled again.

“JOHN! JAKE! JAMES! JACK! JASPER!”

“What the hell?” the stranger asked as five more skeletons started to rise out of the land. Claire turned to the stranger.

“I’ll explain it later, but I’m on your side. I’ll keep you safe.” The sound of bones splintering against bones drew her attention away from him. Her brothers started to brawl with the invading skeletons, but the ones that weren’t fighting continued toward the main house. There were more than her brothers could handle, and even more seemed to be coming out of the field. Claire started to consider her options.

“You have talent,” a woman’s voice said next to them. She was tall, and a pair of twisting bone-white horns gave her extra height. She wore a flowing black dress and stared at Claire with an amused look.  “It’s not easy to impress me; and, you haven’t. But, unlike most people I kill, you do have talent.”

“Yeah, I’m not like most girls,” Claire said. She had been preparing spells expecting to have to fight herself. She was able to quickly raise her hand and blow a small cloud of poison at the woman. The sickly green cloud hovered around her face, but the horned-woman was unaffected.

“Maybe, maybe not. But, I’m going to kill you like one anyway. Bye now.”

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