Chapter 1: Column 1
Nav the Cav is a smash-hit advice column offering a sympathetic ear to cavaliers across the realm and providing knowledgeable solutions to common necromancer problems. It is published in every other issue of Deep Space Depravities.
Thank you for joining us for this week's column of Your Necro Questions Answered!
Dry_near_Dominicus writes: Dear Nav, I’m worried that my necro is dehydrated. I monitor their fluid intake assiduously and it consistently falls short of recommended targets. When I bring them water they say thank you and then they put it down and NEVER DRINK IT. I’m at my wit’s end. Please help.
Dear Dry: I’m glad you brought this up, because I’m sure many other readers are worried about their necro’s basic nutrition as well. They look underfed all the time, don’t they? What you should always remember is that in most every way, necromancers are freaks of nature with fundamentally different (some might say inferior) biology to our own. While they could and should eat and drink like normal people, there are fewer consequences for them if they don’t, so they get off on refusing to do so. One time, mine chose to pass out in a haunted basement encased in a giant bone rather than get a cup of water. Needless dramatics.
I can tell your necro is more level-headed than mine, but I’m still going to recommend a less direct approach to the water issue because if you sit there watching them, they won’t drink. Here's what I do: I leave cups of water in all the areas of our home my necro frequents, so whenever she realizes she is thirsty, there’s some water for her to sip. As far as home décor goes, it’s unsightly. How many times have I heard “Nav, stop leaving your unfinished water glasses in my study” or “Nav, why can’t you bring your dishes to the sink” but also, I often find them half-emptied so they’re doing their job. Try it out and write back to us about how it’s going, we always love to print reader’s success stories!
CannotBeStopped writes: Dear Nav, all this walk-a-half-step-behind business has lead me to notice that my necromancer has a very nice butt. Seriously, it’s perfect and I can’t stop staring at it. Should I find a way to stop? It all feels very unprofessional.
Dear Cannot: If you have been blessed with a view straight out of Cohort Booty Camp 2, the only thing you can do is enjoy it. Most necromancers look like anemic walking sticks, so if yours has some junk in the trunk (mine does not), just thank your lucky stars and take an extra long look for the rest of us.
Sleepless in Trentham writes: Dear Nav, I’ve just been given my necromancer and he looks extremely frail. Just, the noodliest noodle arms and stick legs you’ve ever seen. It looks like a strong wind will blow him over. I’m afraid to let him out of my sight lest something happen. It’s affecting my sleep. I get up throughout the night just to check on him. I can't keep living this way. What is your advice?
Dear Sleepless: First of all, congratulations on being paired with a necro, that’s a big achievement. I want you to know that you’re asking the right questions and you’re on the right track. Keeping your necromancer safe should be your top priority, but let me give you some perspective. While most necromancers can’t lift anything heavier than a large book, and only then if they’re determined, they do actually have some natural defense mechanisms. They’re secretive bastards who like to guard their house’s secrets, so if you didn’t grow up with any (you’re lucky) you might not have seen what they can do yet. Let me assure you, most of them can do freakier shit than you’ve ever imagined, like leech your soul straight out of your damn body. Worst feeling. Don’t recommend.
In conclusion, you gotta relax. Get some sleep. Your necromancer can hold off an attacker at least long enough for you to run in and help, in most cases. To make things even easier, I might recommend moving your bed into your necromancer’s room if you haven’t already; it’s pretty traditional so they shouldn’t fuss. It will spare you some trips back and forth. As most of my long-time readers know, even though it’s a controversial practice** I let my necromancer sleep right on my bed with me. If you can get to that level, good for you. It makes checking to see if they’re breathing incredibly easy.
**Some people say this is a bad idea because it encourages the necromancer to think of themselves as superior to you, making them intractable. I say it depends on the necromancer. If you’ve got mutual respect already established and you want to share covers, I say go for it.
Disappointed writes: Dear Nav. I think I got a dud necromancer, is there any chance of swapping them out?
Dear Disappointed: Oof, sorry to hear that, buddy. Unfortunately, it’s a no-takebacks situation. Once you say those four words, you’re pretty much stuck with them.
It’s not a pleasant topic to dwell on, but some necromancers do genuinely suck. They’re mean, stuck-up, selfish, or from the Eighth House (In which case they’re mean, stuck-up, AND selfish all at once. Sorry not sorry. No one reads my column on the Eighth anyway, my editor tells me.) You didn’t give me more details about why you think your necromancer is sub-par, but I would say give it a bit of time if you haven’t, and see if you can really get to know them.
You know, I was wrong about mine when I got her. If you had asked me back then, I would have told you I would rather be slowly bled to death, or dropped down a mine shaft, or crushed to pulp under an enormous rock than be her cavalier. But she turned out okay. Here's a real time quote for you readers: “Nav, what are you looking at me like that for?” She is a darling. “And what are you always scribbling about so secretively?” she asks. I told her “you,” which isn’t wrong, and she has made the best face. Imagine the expression of someone who has found a fly in their soup, but is also blushing.
Anyway, if you give it the old college try, and after all that you’re sure your necro is definitely a turd, I just have one bit of advice for you: never, never, ever let them get behind you with a sharp object. Can’t say more on that. Just trust me.
Success Story of the Week!:
Dear Nav, In your column published in the Deep Space Depravities Holiday Edition: Tittle my Jingles you had recommended that for a holiday gift I should find the oldest book I could possibly find and give it to my necromancer. I very seriously doubted that a moldy book was going to excite my necromancer, especially because she has SO MANY books already. However, since you are the expert, I went looking in the deepest and darkest places I had access to and came up with some cobwebbed, water-damaged piece of barely-legible literature. Nav, I have to tell you, she has not put that thing down since. You would have thought I had given her some rare jewel or animal, the way she handled it so admiringly. The way she looked at me changed, too, like I had surprised her into taking a closer notice of me. Things have been better between us than they ever were before. Thank you, Nav!
P.S. I love whenever you talk about your relationship with your necro! You two are so cute! I hope you’ll tell your whole story to your loyal fans one day. I imagine it's extremely romantic.
That’s all for this week’s column. If you’ve got a question for Nav the Cav, you can send a communication to our central office on Rhodes, Station 10023X1C. We look forward to hearing from you!
Chapter 2: Column 2
Given the warm reception of this fic, and the fact that all of us probably need as much levity and fluff as we can possibly consume in the weeks ahead, I have produced another edition.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Your Necro Questions Answered column from Deep Space Depravities Issue VDXLII: Curvaceous Cadet Cabin Fever!
ABrushWouldntHurt writes: Dear Nav, my necromancer seems to have no interest or ability to groom herself in a becoming way. I’ve bought her nice brushes and soaps and gels but she never takes the hint. I put a lot of effort into looking my best as a way to honor our house and our station, but I do not see my efforts being reflected in the grooming of my adept. What should I try next?
Dear Brush: Honestly, I would encourage you to just groom her yourself. Hear me out. It seems like you care a lot about appearances and your necro just doesn’t. Most people would probably tell you to use your words and tell her how you feel and ask her to compromise. Don’t bother. Your necro is showing you through her actions that brushing her hair is not a priority. Even if you asked her to do it and she agreed, she probably wouldn’t enjoy it and would also resent you. But you know who enjoys brushing hair? You do! If you really don’t have the time or inclination (but I’m guessing you do) to take over her daily grooming there are people you can pay to groom your necromancer who’ll do a good job, but I’d encourage you not to let someone get that bonding time with your necro, because that’s really what it is. I brush mine’s hair every day. It’s not very long and she could definitely do it on her own if she wanted, but she seems to like it more when I do it. Give it a go.
SunnyOutlook writes: Dear Nav, I have a two-part question. How much sun per day does the average necromancer need, and can it be indirect? It’s very hard to get mine outside, but I’m not sure luring him into sunny rooms is giving him the vitamin D he needs.
Dear Sunny: Necromancers need very little sunlight as long as they take advantage of the sun they do get to make vitamin D for themselves in an accelerated manner. Fifteen minutes of sun exposure total per day, direct or indirect*, is more than enough. This would require them to monitor their vitamin levels, though, so if you don’t think yours is doing that you might want to prompt him once in a while.
*Caveat: This advice does NOT apply to necromancers in the Sixth House. If you live on the Sixth, the correct amount of sunlight is ZERO unless you want your necromancer to be blinded and burned to a crisp simultaneously. If you live on the Sixth, you probably already knew that. Vitamin supplements and sun lamps are going to be it for you.
Speaking of, I had no idea when was the last time mine got any sun, so I asked her, and without missing a beat or looking up from her book she said, “You’re my sun.” Readers, this did not answer my question, but it did make me feel tingly inside.
Doubleblade writes: Dear Nav, I am writing to put it on public record that my necromancer once beat your necromancer at Scrabble 771 to 733 and is therefore smarter than your necromancer by 38 points. P.S. Your couples’ costume to the recent masquerade was, colloquially, weaksauce.
Dear Doubleblade: Piss off, Cam. How did you even get this past my editors?
Never mind, scratch that. Come fight me. You know where I live.
P.S. We were a “Funny Bone.” She was ‘a humerus’ and I was ‘humorous;’ I was telling jokes all evening, didn’t you get it? Oh, wait, you’d have to have a sense of humor for that. And what were you two supposed to be, spaghetti?
AmbivalentDuelist writes: Another necromancer insulted my necromancer, but my necromancer forbade me from challenging that necromancer’s cavalier to a duel for his honor. My friends say I should track the other cavalier down anyway and settle it cav to cav, but I don’t want to disobey my necro. What should I do?
Dear Ambivalent: You have to go fight the other cav. Those are the rules. See my reply to the above question.
And, okay, those are not the official rules, but they are the unofficial, unspoken, universally understood rules between cavs. If someone insults your necromancer, you must defend their honor with the strength and skill of your arm. Even if you lose, it’s enough that you made the attempt. Go get’m, tiger.
SoundOfSilence writes: Dear Nav, I feel like my necromancer and I don’t have anything in common and I’m not sure how to bond with them. They came from a different House and had a very different upbringing to mine. Increasingly, it feels like our time together is spent in uncomfortable silence as we fail to find ways to relate to one another.
Dear Silence: It sounds like you’re pretty early in your relationship and still getting to know one another. Eventually, you will have some shared experiences to talk about and conversation will be easier. In the meantime, maybe you should find something fun to learn to do together, like building model ships.
My necro and I have had to build a foundation, ourselves, given our let’s say ‘complicated’ history. Lately, we’ve been doing the weekly crossword from StarBust (I know they’re a rival publication but their puzzle section is actually quite good) together. And by together I mean she does the crossword while I cuddle her on the couch. Sometimes she offers to let me help (“You can get this one, Nav, the clue is ‘celestial orbs,’ five letters”) and I will do my honest best (“Boobs”) but she is usually disappointed in my answers (“I don’t know why I bother”).
Success Story of the Week!:
Dear Nav, in Deep Space Depravities Volume VDXL:Sword Goes Where?! I wrote to ask you about how to properly exercise my necromancer, who I thought was irritable as a result of a lack of physical activity, and you suggested daily walks. I’ve managed to work up to walking my necromancer twice a day with stunning results. Not only is my necro more healthful in body and mind, she has discovered a new a hobby, botany, which I like much better than her last one of dissecting rabbits. So many rabbits. So much blood. Anyway, thank you, Nav! Your column is a service to cavaliers everywhere!
That’s all for this week’s column!
Cam and Pal went as 'string theory' to the referenced masquerade :3 Happy Halloween!
Your Necro Questions Answered column from Deep Space Depravities Issue VDXLIII: Put Some Syrup On It!
Readers, you’ll find it easy to believe that Nav gets a lot of fan mail sent in to the column! In this special edition of Your Necro Questions Answered, Nav the Cav took some time to answer selected reader questions.
WeRDying writes: Dear Nav, where you supposedly live is a matter of great debate amongst your fan base. Everyone seems to have their own theories, combed and extracted from hints you’ve dropped over the years, but no one has a definitive answer. Friendships have ended over this heated topic. Will you put us out of our misery and reveal your House at last?
Dear Dying: I hate to disappoint my adoring fan base, but for legal and privacy reasons I cannot reveal my location. We live on a river. That’s all you’re getting.
DomesticLife writes: Dear Nav, what did you have for dinner last night?
Dear Domestic: Last night wasn’t very interesting because it was my turn to cook. Not only do I not have a lot of patience for cooking (why is there so much chopping and measuring? Why are there always like, 50 steps?) or baking (baffling and impossible) but my necro has a lot of sensory issues and won’t eat anything that crunches, is too sweet, too spicy, or basically has any exciting property at all except salt. I think she’d honestly just eat the same thing every day if I let her, but that depresses me, so I am always trying to expand her horizons so she at least has a variety of boring things to eat. Last night was potato soup. She liked it.
Not all our meals here are dull, though, because my necro has no problem making 100-step, 1000-ingredient meals or baked goods and her results always look like the pictures in the food-books. This is unfair, since she doesn’t even eat any of it. For a while I was convinced she was doing this to show me up, or just flex on the universe, until I teased her about being extra, and I got a cold rebuke (“Nav, are you going to argue that you deserve less than the best I can offer you by the labor of my hands?”) and a glare that could have turned an army of skeletons to powder. So, now I shut up and accept my fancy-dinner fate.
Secretive writes: You’ve often said your necromancer doesn’t know you write this column. Will you ever tell her?
Dear Secretive: Not on your life! If she finds out I’ve written anything at all about her, I’m toast. I’ve worked hard to keep this away from her. Speaking of-- Cam, now that you and, I’m sure, your pal, have found my column you will under no circumstances alert her to its existence. If you do, you will be banned from coming over for game night for the next myriad and then some. Am I clear?
JustCurious writes: Why is your column only syndicated in pornographic magazines? With your current popularity you could easily publish in the more mainstream House Ledger or Interstellar Relay?
Dear Curious: Where I grew up, being happy was practically illegal, or at the very least, a punishable offence. The first time a porno mag fell into my hands, it was like looking into an alien society. There were things like birthday parties and sporting events and movie theaters. The plots were convoluted and barely-concealed vehicles for people to start taking their clothes off, but it was the first place I saw a glimpse of something better and people touching each other for fun. So, basically, fuck mainstream media. This is for all the other trash people like me.
HugEveryCat writes: Do you have any pets?
Dear Hug: What, like a pigeon or a rat? No. Pets weren’t really a concept I grew up with. Live animals of any kind weren’t a concept I grew up with. Fun fact: the only live animal I have ever seen was a fish, once, from far away, before it was beheaded for dinner. Soooo I feel really unqualified to care for a living creature that isn’t my necro.
BonerGroupie writes: Dear Nav, rumors have been swirling that you are the famous Call of Duty: Space Imperium player BonerBiceps69, can this be true?!! And does your necro play, too??
Dear Groupie: This is absolutely Cam’s fault for using her actual username to write in to the column and yes, you are correct. I am the legendary BonerBiceps69. Fear me, mortals. I’m open to playing with fans, so go ahead and add me, but fair warning, I am going to crush you. Since this is going public, I’ll give a shoutout to embarrass my usual rotation of teammates Tetris_Baron, xx_FIDELITY_xx, DoubleBlade, and Marta2222. Go bother the heck out of them.
My necro does not play. For someone with such exquisite fine motor skills, she is useless with a game controller. Instead, she sits next to me and annoys me to death by backseating like hell and yelling at the tv. She will also lick the salt off my snacks if I’m not looking. That is not a euphemism, she will literally lick the salt off of chips or crackers and put them back in the bowl and then I find damp snacks and it’s gross.
AverageCavalier writes: Dear Nav, I am continually in awe of the breadth and depth of knowledge you have about necromancers. How did you get so good at this?
Dear Average: Why, thank you. Apart from having grown up with one (mine) I have had a rather eventful life that has brought me up close and personal with a wide variety of necromancers from a wide variety of Houses. Some were great, but most of them were astoundingly, appallingly, apocalyptically awful. So, I feel like at this point there truly is nothing I have not seen as far as dysfunctional necro/cav relationships go. Bring it on, readers.
NecroFan writes: Dear Nav, your mysterious necromancer has almost as big a fan base as you by now, just from the bits of information you give about her in the background. We cannot get enough. Please give us a real-time update. Where is she right now?
Dear Fan: Your beloved icon is currently asleep and drooling very attractively on my shirt. Not even she can be dark and mysterious all the time.
No Success Story of the Week this time, but tune in next issue!
I really wanted to get a chapter up for November 3, since I bet a lot of us are going through some stuff right now. Providing some fluff and nonsense has been a great outlet for me, as I hope it has been for you. Take heart and be strong, everyone.
AN 11/15: For anyone re-reading, I swapped Fortnite out for Call of Duty, you aren't crazy. You don't know how much it was bothering me. Best retcon I've ever made.
Your Necro Questions Answered column from Deep Space Depravities Issue VDXLIV: Bootyrama Disco!
I.C.Weiner writes: Should I keep my necromancer indoors when it’s cold?
Dear Weiner: Yes. Their hearts are quite feeble, leading to poor circulation and difficulty keeping themselves warm naturally. Any time the temperature drops below 277 Kelvin, you should be keeping them indoors, and preferably making sure their extremities are appropriately covered by things like hats and gloves.
Might I also suggest a brilliant human invention: the onesie. My necromancer and I have a matching skeleton set that our friends M and A bought for us in what I can only assume was an attempt at humor. The sight of the cartoonish bones makes my necromancer practically froth with impotent nerd-rage, so it’s hard to coax her into it, but usually once she’s in and remembers that it’s cozy, she simmers down.
Sword_Genius writes: Do you think it’s beneficial for necros to learn a bit of sword work? I often feel like my necromancer would appreciate me more if she knew how much skill it took to wield a sword.
Dear Sword: Not only do I think learning to fight with a rapier (the only sword they can reasonably handle) is beneficial for necromancers, I promise you that it is grade A entertainment for cavaliers.
A few pointers here: Teach them how to hold the sword and where to place their feet, but don’t spar with them--it’s just not a fair matchup when they’re beginners, and they might get discouraged. What you need to do instead is find them a necromancer-buddy to pair up with, so it’s a fair limp-noodle to limp-noodle fight. During sparring bouts you can stand on the sidelines with the other necro’s cavalier and yell helpful instructions. Necromancers love advice being yelled at them. (I’m being facetious here. They don’t like it at all, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t because, again, it’s very funny.)
I like to pair my necro up with our friend Dr. SexPal, whose name readers will likely recognize as our sometimes-medical-consultant for the column. Dr. SexPal and my necro are both positively dreadful with a rapier. Cam and I just about die watching them every time.
This is a two-way street, though. You should make a good faith effort to learn a bit about necromancy in return. It can be fun and sometimes even practical in case you have to, say, fight an enormous regenerating bone construct. It’s unlikely, but never say never.
I’ll share that recently I’ve gotten very good at tracing blood wards for my necromancer. We keep them fresh on our bedroom door because our house routinely floods with ghosts and they’d swamp us otherwise. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a bunch of strangers to accidentally see me naked. Trust me, you only need to forget to ward once to be scarred for life.
Tetris_Baron and xx_FIDELITY_xx write: Naaaaaaaav, nooooooooooo, how could you mention us to the entire galaxy? DDDDDDDD:
Dear Losers: Go cry to Cam, she started it.
Flexin4Days writes: Dear Nav, I am increasingly convinced that my necromancer is not impressed by my biceps. I assure you my biceps are quite noteworthy, but no matter how much subtle or overt flexing I do in his presence, he appears to take no real notice. I’m at a loss here.
Dear Flexin: This seems like a highly improbably scenario. Large biceps are universally considered awesome, impressive, and irresistibly attractive. Your necromancer is probably just playing it cool and feigning disinterest. He may even be jealous. After all, there’s no way he can achieve what you have. That said, there’s really no accounting for taste, so it is possible, however remote, that he is not impressed by your biceps and you will have to win him over with some fancy swordplay or killer quads.
Your question made me curious, and maybe mildly insecure, that my own necromancer was not impressed by my biceps. I snuck up on her in the chapel, struck a very fetching pose, and demanded to know whether she liked my biceps or not. She stopped what she was doing (tracing sigils in the bone ash or somesuch) and turned to give me a very slow appraising look that felt like it went through all the layers of my skin, muscle, and bone and said, “I like all of you.” I blushed, but I was not going to be deterred. “But surely my biceps are particularly incredible,” I said. (Readers, they definitely are). She gave me what might have been a pitying look at my obvious need for attention, but reached out to run her sooty fingertips over the contours of my left arm, making a show of appraising its musculature with some pokes and prods before placing a small kiss on the ash-smeared skin and saying, “Yes, these will do.”
Mystery solved. All necromancers find biceps impressive. Keep trying, Flexin.
SleepHygiene writes: Dear Nav, my necromancer isn’t getting enough sleep. I’ve been trying to enforce a nap time for her, but she is being quite resistant. She regularly falls asleep during meetings or other social functions because she stays up all night with her experiments, and I feel it is my duty to create a better routine for her. What do you think will make this easier?
Dear Sleep: I’m going to level with you, I have never been able to get my necromancer to sleep if she doesn’t want to. She is the most stubborn person I have ever met. Once, she stayed awake for six days straight and then tried to kill a man with a bowl of soup. True story.
So, sure, we go to bed at the same time, but often I’ll wake in the middle of the night to find her still sitting up, book or journal in hand. I usually give her a disapproving grunt, which has never once mollified her into going to sleep. Instead, she usually just drops her free hand into my hair and runs her fingers through it until I’m the one who’s drifted off.
Maybe you will succeed where I have failed, though. Try making a few “nap traps”—welcoming nooks in their favorite place of study with conveniently placed pillows and blankets. Somewhere like a day bed, padded bench, or a window seat is great. This way, rather than needing to go to bed, the bed has gone to them. Unfortunately for me, I’m usually the only one caught in the nap trap. I get bored waiting for my necro to finish something, so I sit down, and then bam, I’m asleep. You’re probably noticing a pattern here.
Good luck, and do write to let us know if you find something that works!
Exsanguinated writes: If my necromancer asks me for my blood, do I have to give it?
Dear Exsanguinated: No. I believe very strongly in bodily autonomy. Your necromancer has their own blood; yours is yours, and theirs is theirs.
That said, the goal is to reach a point in your relationship where you would quite willingly give some of your blood to your necromancer. If I thought she needed it, I would bleed every last drop of blood from my veins for my necromancer, and pledge the last beat of my heart and the last breath of air from my lungs besides.
Only you get to decide where between 'some blood' and 'death' you fall outside of your vow to defend your necromancer. Go with your gut.
In place of this issue’s Success Story of the Week! We bring you a very special segment instead: A Necromancer Responds!
Dear Nav: You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that you’ve been writing an article for several years dispensing advice in which an increasing level of detail about our personal lives is discussed. You can further imagine that I was not at all happy about this. I’ve read every single issue and highlighted several that you and I are going to talk about, right after we talk about the kind of advice you’ve been giving, which is after we talk about why you have been writing this without my knowledge at all. I hope you are ready, because I am almost certainly standing right behind you.
Dear Readers: I soundly reject any and all insinuations that I am a high maintenance person. I am entirely self-sufficient. Nav is the one who requires a great amount of skill and dedication to manage. She is prone to being hungry, thirsty, bored, horny, or tired at any given moment if one is not several steps ahead of her. It has taken me years of tracking to work out precisely what sleep schedule and nutritional balance is optimal for her level of activity, for instance. Honestly, I don’t think necromancers are the difficult ones at all, someone ought to give advice on how to keep cavaliers running. That would be useful.
Hi friends. This has come a long way from a 4am fever dream about Gideon leaving glasses of water around for Harrow like she's a cat, and it's been an absolute pleasure. This will likely be the penultimate chapter in this little series : ) Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion.
Back from a brief hiatus, Nav the Cav returns in Deep Space Depravities Issue VDXLVIII: Dongle Rampage!
We begin with a message from Nav:
Readers, you will be pleased to know I am not dead. I admit I was not entirely convinced I wouldn’t be when I came down to breakfast and saw an issue of Deep Space Depravities sitting squarely between my habitual eggs and smoothie. I didn’t need to open it to read the warning, I knew I was toast the second I laid eyes on it. She was, indeed, right behind me. When I tell you I RAN—!
It really wasn’t a fair fight. I can take my necro one on one with a sword in my hands, but I was without since I didn’t think I needed to bring it to breakfast (that’s changed, I can tell you). I bolted out the terrace door, but fleeing to the outdoors just meant my necro was free to raise as big a construct as she pleased without needing to worry about damage to the house. Consequently, it was nothing at all for her many-limbed creation to catch and hurl me bodily into the river outside, which was extremely unpleasant in ways I can’t even describe. The water’s clean, but it’s colder than the depths of hell, and…
I can’t say I didn’t deserve it.
When I finally crawled out onto the bank she was waiting for me, seated among the grasses and driftwood. I accepted my defeat and plopped down at her side, soaked and shivering. For a long while neither of us said anything, just watched the river flow by under a starless firmament, dark and deep.
And then—we talked. It was a simple as that.
I didn’t deny anything, or make excuses, or try to explain it away. After all this time, the truth is it was nice to have it out. It’s stressful hiding a successful writing career from your significant other, let me tell you. In the end, it turned out it wasn’t my hiding the column from her that upset her, it was that I have been sharing details about our lives that she feels are too private, too personal. I understood, but I wanted her to understand something, too. I explained to her that people write to me because they are struggling, and because they dearly want to do right by the people they love, just like we do. I told her that what we’ve built out of blood and tears and patience is worthy of being seen and admired. I gave her my most winning smile and said if I was being honest, sometimes I put details in there just to brag a bit about how good I have it with her.
She took all that in, tremulously called me a “brainless oaf,” and buried her face in my chest. I bent my head to her ear and said a few more things, but those things are most certainly too private, and too personal, to share.
So now I’m back with good news…and a new co-author! Please allow me to formally introduce my other half: Hawk.
Some of you may have noticed that when the inquiry inbox opened last month, it invited questions from cavaliers and necromancers alike. That’s right! It turns out necros have questions, too. Like, a LOT of them. Now Your Necro/Cav Questions Answered will resume, but with advice and commentary from the two of us for every question.
And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming!
RodentProblem writes: My cavalier keeps leaving dead mice on my desk, often decapitated, but with the head also present beside the body. I am at a complete loss as to what this means. Is he mad at me? Does he think I want them for something? I’m really not sure what to make of this, but I definitely don’t want all this blood on my papers.
Nav responds: Dear Rodent—Since when do necromancers not like dead things? And do you know how hard it is to neatly decapitate a rodent with a large sword? I would think a bunch of neat mice would make any necro happy. I’m almost entirely certain your cavalier is doing this because he thinks you will like them, and you should view them as gifts and be appreciative. I bring Hawk cool rocks I find on the riverbank all the time, just because I think she’ll like them. She certainly seems to, though, I never see them again after I give them to her so maybe she just chucks them back in the river. Still, it’s the thought that counts.
Hawk responds: Dear RodentProblem—Your cavalier is probably just trying to share something with you he thinks you will like. Not all cavaliers understand the difference between the interests of the different schools of necromancy, and if you came from different houses, you can’t expect him to know, for instance, that a spirit magician is not interested in animating mice corpses. I would find a way to display the mice he has brought you, so he knows you are appreciative, and then suggest something you might like instead if you truly have no use for those. Nav is always bringing me semiprecious stones and small fossils from the river near our house, for which I have no practical use, but it is extremely endearing. I’ve been embedding them in the floor of the chapel’s ritual pool.
NecroKnowsBest writes: Whenever my cavalier is ill, I try to compel him to consume raw cloves of garlic or tinctures thereof for their antifungal property. This is sound medical practice, but my cavalier always fusses about it. Please tell my cavalier that I know what’s best for him and he needs to take what medicines I give him.
Nav responds: Dear Necro—There are a lot of things I can and will do for my necromancer, like keeping a vow of silence or letting her stick her cold little feet under my thighs to warm them up, but I draw the line at eating raw garlic or drinking weird garlic water. Or eating cabbage. So, I’m afraid I’m with your cavalier on this one. Aren’t there pills for that sort of thing?
Hawk responds: Dear NecroKnowsBest— You have the right way of it as far as medicine is concerned, but it would be a plain miracle if you could get a cavalier to do anything just because it’s what’s best for them. For instance, I have tried to get Nav to eat cabbage every which way, but she won’t touch it, even though I have explained to her all the health benefits of doing so. You would do best to try to find alternative remedies that your cavalier might consent to, no matter how much easier it would be if he just ate what you gave him.
SmallButthole writes: How dull, I was hoping one of you was finally going to off the other as nature intended. Since you haven’t, I’ll expect you at our next dinner party. Attire is formal. Nav is absolutely forbidden from bringing any more gherkins as a hostess gift. She does this every time, and since I’ve noticed not even she eats these disgusting vegetables, I am convinced she is doing it to troll me. If I see a single new jar appear in my pantry, I will reconfigure Nav’s bowels in such a creative way it will take you weeks to untangle them.
Nav responds: Dear Butthole— are you telling me to stop…gherkin your chain?
Hawk responds: I refuse to use this inexplicably vulgar moniker you’ve chosen for yourself. Yes, we’ll be at your party. Yes, I’ll check Nav for unwanted gifts before we leave the house. But, if you lay a hand on her you’re going to have one arm fewer than you started the night with. See you soon.
Thorough writes: How often should I be doing a full systems check for my cavalier?
Nav responds: Dear Thorough— Wow, do all of you do the same creepy thing Hawk does where she watches my heart beat or counts my lung cells or whatever? Do as little of that as possible. Seriously, it’s very invasive.
Hawk responds: Dear Thorough — If there are no underlying conditions you are managing manually like blood pressure or bone mineral density, once every month is fine to do inventory of the endocrine, cardiac, pulmonary, and neurological systems, and the rest can be checked annually. I check Nav over reflexively, just because I feel reassured by knowing everything is in order. She’s extremely healthy, which is good because if I so much as dust off an alveolus and she catches me at it, she gets annoyed. “I don’t like feeling you messing around in me,” she says, and then usually amends her statement with something too crass to repeat.
Doubleblade writes: I am writing to put it on public record that I had nothing to do with your necromancer finding out about the column. Also, I came by to see if you needed help, but then I saw the state of your lawn and decided you were on your own. If you’re not dead, see you at the twins’ party.
Nav responds: Dear Cam— I don’t believe you. Better watch your back.
Hawk responds: Hello Cam — No, you may be exonerated from that claim. I came upon the article…organically.
OfftheWall writes: My cavalier has developed an annoying habit of yelling “parkour” and then running at or up the nearest wall. This is both dangerous and disruptive and I would like her to stop. Can you please explain to me why she is doing this?
Nav responds: Dear Wall — I mean, hell, that sounds like a lot of fun. She’s probably doing it because it’s awesome.
Hawk responds: Dear OfftheWall— It sounds like your cavalier isn’t getting enough exercise and is becoming bored as a result. If you don’t provide enough novel stimulation in their day, this is the kind of thing that happens. I understand the instinct to keep your cavalier at your side at all times, but they need space and opportunity to run off that energy. If the regular course of your day does not include natural challenges in the form of travel or combat, you should make sure she has access to facilities for training and practice of her combat skills and ensure that she goes.
That’s all for this week’s column! Success Story of the Week will resume with our new schedule. We close with one more foot note from Nav:
P.S. Hawk wanted 'Hades' to be her pen name, but I reminded her the galaxy already knows she wears fuzzy onesies and licks salt off of potato chips, so, the ship for being mysterious has sailed. She still is, and always will be, the dark mistress of my heart, though.
Hi Readers! We made it! This brings us to the "official" conclusion of the series, though the format of course allows for continuation if I'm ever inspired. Regardless, you can imagine these two lovesick dodos will be writing an advice column together in perpetuity, whether I describe it here or not.
So, thank you again to everyone who has encouraged me along the way here and on discord! Y'all are awesome, and it has been so much fun! And, I hope, this has been a little spot of welcome fluff in the maelstrom that is 2020.