Chapter 12: Memory of the body.
-I CARE NOT THAT YOU LET LOOSE MY PROPERTY, YOU SINGER, YOU MAKE ME REMEMBER THINGS, MEMORIES OF THE BODY-
The shadow lord’s lower face ripped open, revealing a horrid maw, while not yet chlan, the spirit was clearly in bad shape, no shadow was supposed to have a mouth like the ghastly one the shadow lord had.
-COME YOU MUST STAY WITH ME, SING TO ME AND I SHALL REMEMBER HIM, HIS PROWESS, HIS MIGHT, HIS FOLLY. I SHALL PAMPER YOU, ADORE YOU, YOU ARE NOT LIKE THE OTHERS WHICH COULD NOT GIVE ME WHAT I DESIRED, YOUR SONG MADE ME FEEL WHOLE, LIKE THAT SONG OF OLD-
It looked like feeling whole was all the shadow was doing. The cracks which formed its mouth extended across his body, Aira could not help but compare it to a cracking egg, she did not want to see what the shadow would hatch into.
Its fevered eyes did not move from Aira. Bab-Lin, Phule and the shining bird were totally ignored.
Aira had no desire to remain with this tainted shadow, indeed it made her feel ill, a curious and wholly unpleasant feeling for a golem.
…but while she had no desire to remain, she was also burning with a desire for knowledge, the gaarulves had said something that the shadow lord had said “memories of the body”. It was likely that this shadow had belonged to someone who had been related to Tavarn, or at least someone who had visited the form of Tavarn in Awarth.
“Memories of the body” It obviously referred to the body that the shadow had come from. Aira knew she had to escape, that she should be planning some escape with her friends, but the allure of knowledge was too strong.
“What memories did you remember?” She asked, hoping that the tainted shadow would ramble.
The shadow was silent, its unnatural mouth began to vanish, cracks mending as it grew smaller, its voice was likewise smaller.
-He discarded me for power, shunning the sun, making it his weakness in exchange for power but the amusing thing is…-
The maw opened wider than before and the shadow lord was covered in more cracks than before.
-HE WOULD HAVE WON HAD HE NOT DISCARDED ME, HIS WEAKNESS WAS HOW HIS FOE UNDID HIM, HIS FOE COULD NOT HAVE WON OTHERWISE, BUT I REMEMBER IT! NOW I HAVE IT THE POWER HE GAINED FROM ABANDONING ME!! I REMEMBER THE POWER!-
The shadow lord’s eyes flashed yellow for a moment, and there was a dreadful cracking noise. Bab-Lin believed that the shadow lord was growing in power, he could feel it, like the shadow lord was going to burst, or shatter with the growth.
He wondered how long this shadow had rested on the line between being a shadow, and a chlan spirit. It was rare for a shadow to outlast its master’s body. Regardless, it was insane, and had possibly been so for some time. He decided to take a gamble that the shadow lord was completely ignoring him and that he could speak freely.
“Aira, Phule, in a moment, I’m going to blast this shadow lord’s face with fire, then we are going to run like our lives are depending on it, because they probably will”
Phule and the bird stared at Bab-Lin agast, but quickly realized that the shadow lord had not reacted at all to Bab-Lin’s proclamation. Aira looked at Bab-Lin, but he got not one bit of the conflict between Aira’s desire to escape and her desire for more knowledge.
“Is good ideaing? Phule not want devourings”
Aira decided that she could fit one more question in, she was not sure who the shadow was from, but she had suspicions, she would not ask who the shadow was from, she had a more vital question.
“Is there a memory of Yullris’ suffering among the memories of the body?”
This was one of the keys to what had happened, Aira knew.
The mouth of the shadow lord closed instantly and the cracks vanished.
-he held her in his arms, she laughed, such an innocent laugh-
The shadow seemed to regain control of itself, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say lost control. The maw cracked open once again and the shadow strained against the renewed cracks marring its body.
-NO MATTER, ONCE I HAVE YOU SAFE AND PROTECTED, YOU CAN SING TO ME-
He spoke then, not in the manner of spirits like shadows, but of a man.
“I shall let none harm you, my comfort, safe, you will be safe…”
The shadow lord reached out a clawed hand to grab Aira. Aira stumbled back.
-MINE YOU WILL BE MINE-
It was then that Bab-Lin delivered on his promise of a face full of fire.
The shadow lord shrieked as the fire raked across and bit hungrily into its face. It lurched back, clawing at its face. Aira and company wasted no time.
They fled like the gate of Relhs was opening and the chlan and the duath sealed within were chasing them. They leapt over the rooftops, half stumbling over the jagged surfaces in their haste.
The shrieking of the shadow lord gave way to furious roar.
-COME, O SHADOW OF HIS SPEAR-
The shadows around the shadow lord tore themselves up and transformed into three strips. These strips wrapped around each other to form a twisted pole and then flared out into three hooks. The hooks met together and formed a point.
Bab-Lin muttered a curse, feeling the power of the thing.
Aira for her part could not help but feel that the spear was familiar and there was one spear she was particularly acquainted with.
The shadow lord drew back its arm, and then threw the spear with such force that the arm tore off, hand staying grasped to the spear as it shot towards Aira and the others.
Bab-Lin spun around, and bending to one side seemed to merely stroke his cane-club along the shadow spear. The spear twisted and spun off, ploughing through four buildings, reducing the last one it came to into rubble.
Phule looked back, the shadow lord seemed to be vanishing.
“Shadow lord dying?” She questioned. Then a thought occurred to her, she glanced over at where the spear had landed and sure enough, the arm was still grasping it and growing out of the arm was the shadow lord.
“Lord to side! NOT BEHIND!” Phule screamed out to Bab-lin and Aira.
Aira was in an unfortunate position, her abilities were shadow based, it was likely if she tried attacking the shadow lord it would just make him stronger.
She began to feel the shadow lord pulling on the shadows, commanding them, she even felt the tainted shadow lord pull on her own shadows, but her body resisted. Bab-Lin could to a small extent harm the shadow with fire and indeed the fire in his throat was about all that kept Bab-Lin from falling under the influence of the shadow lord, given that Bab-Lin was little more than a shadow inside an chitinous exoskeleton.
The lesser shadows of kiganites began to bleed through the buildings and many began rushing through the streets. The shadow lord had grown far bigger than when he had first discovered Aira. It grabbed a handful of its unwilling subjects and tossed them at Aira and the others.
Phule, having the clumsy nimbleness of a goblin did not have much more of a problem with this than she had been having with the uneven surface of the rooftops.
Bab-Lin flung himself off of the bodies of the falling shadows, using them to put more distance between him and the shadow lord.
Aira being a golem, just powered through them.
The shadow lord hissed seeing its tactic was unsuccessful.
The trio were making good progress, the edge of the town was not far off, such had been their frantic haste.
The shadow lord thrust its spear into the ground, and in short order both the spear and it vanished into the ground.
Bab-Lin however had been keeping an eye on the shadow.
“WATCH OUT, IT IS GOING TO APPEAR IN FRONT OF US” He cried.
Sure enough, mere roofs away from the edge of the town, the shadow lord burst out eyes glowing sickly yellow, more of a collection of cracks than a shadow. It roared in triumph.
Aira however was prepared and grabbed the shadow lord’s head with both hands.
“I name you shadow of Faihn” she called out reasoning from past experience. that it would disrupt the volatile shadow. Sure enough, its maw snapped closed and the cracks vanished, eyes returning to a natural white. Straining at the joints she tossed the shadow lord behind her.
It howled as it streaked past Bab-Lin, who vomited fire over it as an added injury to Aira’s insult.
The shadow lord did not fall far behind them, but Aira and the others had escaped the town.
Sadly stretching out before them was the labyrinth surrounding the city.
Bab-Lin stopped and turned around.
“We’ll never escape at this rate” He said, breathing heavily, smoke flowing out in massive waves from his mouth.
“I’ll hold it off. I should be fine, after all my defence is brilliant!”
Bab-Lin was not liking this habit of picking fights with beings far more powerful than himself he was getting into, he wasn’t actually sure his defence would hold, after all, Fram had not been trying to kill him
Aira and Phule both stopped.
“We can make it, don’t stop Bab-Lin!” Aira protested.
“Yes, stupid bugbonehead no givings up!”
“I’m not giving up” Bab-Lin snapped. “I’m making the best play, the surest bet!”
He could feel his past self laughing at him. The best bet, the surest play, that was to use Phule and Aira as bait to escape himself, not potentially sacrifice himself to give those two time to escape.
Aira did not want to accept this situation and processing quickly, found a solution. She could call upon the swiftness of Haorn just once and she had the strength that many golems had. However, to be sure that this would work…
She smashed a wall and toss some of the rubble into her transmutor. The arcane mechanism was quicker to activate when she wasn’t coming out of hibernation. She swallowed the crystal in her shadows.
“I call upon the swiftness of Haorn!” She howled, releasing the energy of the crystal she made into her body.
She grabbed both Phule and Bab-Lin and then sped away, leaping over and on top of the walls of the labyrinth. Neither Bab-Lin or Phule had even had time to ask what she had been planning.
The shadow lord could do nothing but watch as she vanished over into awarth’s darkness, but he stood watching in her direction for a long time, longing.