Title: A Time and a Place
Fandom: Abhorsen Trilogy
Word Count: 887
Summary: The necromancer really should have learnt to listen to the stories.
Sabriel raked her fingers through her hair wearily. It was two days since she’d seen a bath and a hairbrush, and while a search of the library in Abhorsen’s House had yielded some Charter spells that would have done the job, there was no point in alerting the Dead to her location simply to satisfy her fondness for hygiene.
She sighed. Camping out on a small island in the middle of the Ratterlin was more lonely than she had expected. Hunting down a necromancer had seemed almost a relief from the bustle of the Palace in Belisaere; she’d almost been looking forward to a few days without two toddlers to supervise or a husband to take care of. Looking after Touchstone, making sure he didn’t work so hard he made himself ill from exhaustion, was probably a harder task than keeping their children happy, safe and well. So Sabriel was surprised to realise that she really didn’t want solitude after all. Surprised and lonely.
The quicker she got the job done, the necromancer defeated and the Dead sent to where they should be, the quicker she could return to her family in Belisaere. Sabriel could have taken shortcuts, she supposed – send the necromancer walking through Death, do the same to the Greater Dead and leave the Dead Hands to fight among themselves and solve her problem themselves.
To do that would be to mock the centuries of dedicated effort that fifty-one Abhorsens had put into their cause, though. As Abhorsen, it was Sabriel’s duty to carry on that task and bind all the Dead she could find. Sabriel was not someone who had ever shied away from her duties, and she did not intend to become that kind of person. She had had a lot to learn when she first became Abhorsen, and she was willing to admit that there were still many things she needed to learn. But then again, Death was full of anomalies that had never been encountered before – or at least so rarely that they had never been entered into the Book of the Dead, so in that regard she was no different to any of the Abhorsens who had come before her.
It took Sabriel another day to find an encampment of the Dead, and she was so tired after defeating so many of them that she let the necromancer escape, intending to deal with him after she got a good night’s sleep. She cast a diamond of protection that night, knowing that running water was no bar to necromancers. She did not want an unwelcome visitor that night, even if it did mean revealing her location
The necromancer really should have learnt to listen to the stories. It happened over and over again: Sabriel would meet a necromancer, the necromancer would demonstrate stupid bravado (“I’m not afraid of some bell-wielding novice girl!) and Sabriel would cut off their bragging by binding them with Saraneth and then using Kibeth to make them walk. It would have saved a lot of bother if the necromancers had just kept quiet and not wasted their time annoying her.
Unfortunately, this necromancer was young and foolish, and had decided to wait outside the diamond to ambush her. Unfortunately for him, that was. He was weak-willed, enough so that Sabriel had no trouble at all holding him under the bells’ thrall, and he was soon marching through Death. There was no way this necromancer would be able to fight free of Saraneth and Kibeth, but… in Death, strange things happened to chance. Sabriel decided to pursue the necromancer to his final destination.
The Lesser Dead that inhabited the First and Second Precincts had learnt to recognise Sabriel, and they fled when they saw her approach. Sabriel sprinted across the third gate and waited, examining the stunned Dead cast through the Third Gate by the wave until she spotted the necromancer she sought. When she came to the Fourth Gate, Sabriel’s eyes lingered for a moment on the waterfall where her father had been trapped. But Death was too dangerous to pause for a bout of sentimentality. She could remember her father when she returned to Life.
Only some of the Greater Dead in the Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Precincts recognised Sabriel as the Abhorsen, and she smiled in satisfaction after sending a few troublemakers to the Ninth Gate. After that, she had no trouble with the Dead. There would be time enough to deal with them later.
When she came to the Eighth Gate, Sabriel stopped. Was it really necessary to go through? The Ninth Gate was dangerous. If it was your time and you set eyes on it, there was no coming back. She had almost died once before, impaled on a piece of wood in Ancelstierre – what was to stop her from going onward? Her children were still toddlers; if she died there would be no one able to take up the role of Abhorsen for another fifteen years or so. But she had promised herself always to make sure no necromancer cheated death…
Sabriel mentally hit herself. She was being stupid. There was no point in being pedantic about seeing the necromancer pass through the Ninth Gate and risking dying herself. There was a time and a place for diligence. This was not it.