That uncomfortable feeling in the pit of Fiel’s stomach was back. A familiar nugget of uneasiness and anxiety.
He feels guilty, like he had not been for a long, long while. He’s not even sure why exactly, though he has a pretty good idea. Of course, he won’t be sure until he actually asks, but…
James. Now Nemo.
He can’t shake that feeling. He knows he can’t make it go away, that nagging voice he heard in Bjora, the stranger’s whispers with the sound of his own voice, the one that feeds off his guilt and fans his fears.
So he’s buzzing about the empty space near his “room”. Busying himself.
He can’t draw the binding circle near his desk. The place is still littered with diagrams and half-finished sketches. He should have thrown them away… but he didn’t have the heart for it. Not right now. Later, maybe. Probably. What’s the point of keeping them now? Looking at then hurts.
Instead he draws with cyan chalk and amethyst powder the runes that will protect him.
This too, he should have done much earlier. But once again, fear was a good deterrent.
The circle is made, the incantation chanted, and when everything is done, Fiel summon his golem.
A dark flash.
The pressure in the air shifts as it pulls itself out of the void.
A large mass rakes against the invisible edges of the spell with a screech and a shower of sparks, and Fiel steps back, cursing.
Whatever he was expecting to see, he was not expecting that.
He looked at the flesh golem he had named ‘Waffles’ on a whim many years prior.
It wasn’t Waffles anymore.
It had now nearly doubled in size, all hunched over and jagged. Its sickle-shaped arms were raking and scratching at the floor. A row of spine-like vertebrae ran down its back. Bones, tip of jagged ivory poked out of its skin at the joints, stretching it like an ill-fitting taxidermist’s mannikin, sprouting from its skull like antlers…
Its flesh was brown now. The sallow, muddy color of a mummy pulled out of an icy grave.
The golem had been instructed, upon arrival, to sit still. This was its master’s unspoken order.
The golem was twitching. Shivering. Immobile, but only just.
Fiel stares. The thing has no eyes, but it stares back. And when he stares, the necromancer feels like he’s back there again.
The trees around him are dark, and cold. The mist covers everything. There is no sky, no horizon. Only an ocean of trees, and shadows, and cold. Oppressive landscape where the snow barely dares to fall, a void where everything is touched with madness, and despair. Everything is dead there. There is no sound, save for the clicking in the branches, the clicking from the shadows.
Fiel’s heart skips a beat.
The golem is clicking.
Clicking like the boneskinner.
He never gave vocal chords to any of his golems.
Fiel stammers the words that send the golem back to its pocket dimension.
Its prison, now.
The norn finds a nearby root to sit on.
The magic that had been affecting Cap was still going strong inside of the golem. Was it feeding off it, off the necromantic energy that animated it?
Or was it feeding off whatever was left of the fragment he had cleaved from the man’s soul?
Fiel had been hoping that what he saw that day, the way Waffles had reacted upon the transfusion, was merely a symptom of having spiritual fist shoved into its ribs.
Now he was not so sure.
Fiel wanted to purge the fragment of soul still contained within it, filter out the taint, and give Cap his memories back… for better or for worse.
But if the thing was taking over his golem now…
Was there still something in it to salvage?
Did he, in his ignorance, obliterated a part of his friend’s spirit? His soul?
At least this little bit of anguish successfully distracted him from the guilt he was feeling about his former magister for the time being.