This is a serial the first part is HERE

Chapter 56: Unworthy of Life, Unworthy of Death

Corpseflower, corpseflower. A flower that is a corpse? A corpse that is a flower? Flower follows corpse. Many things are known as corpseflowers across the varied dimensions. A plant that grows on the dead? Most plants feed on the soil and the soil often contains the dead, indeed burying the dead under plants is said to speed the growth of the plant.

A corpseflower is not a plant grown from seed placed in dead flesh.

The corpse itself is the seed, and the flower buds and blooms from this. From simple red leaved plants with no remarkable attributes, to living beings with power comparable to a dimensional divinity. Apart from the single note of being a plant that has the corpse as a seed, the origins and natures of corpseflowers indeed differ greatly.

Doctor Bones’ horn shone, protecting him as it did before, the brambles stirred but a little when he alighted upon them. Now that he was on one, it was easier to get an impression of the scale of the brambles. They were truly massive, thick serpents the width of several whales. With how they obscured everything… it was easy to forget he was in Necrobyssal.

-So large and yet no bud nor blossom- Doctor Bones stoked his chin.

He had the knowledge of many corpseflowers, indeed, the knowledge of ones that bloomed from undead and even the ones that were an affliction, a sickness.

Spirit sickness.

While the dead flesh possessed by spirit might be beyond poisons and diseases, the spirit was not. In many ways the spirit of an undead being was far more vulnerable. Unlike a spirit formed without body, a spirit that lost its body once tends not to have as resilient protections. That was what the body was partly for after all.

Walking carefully, avoiding deadly thorns the side of small buildings and many smaller ones, Doctor Bones felt it was almost like he was inside some ghastly creature. This corpseflower was a fairly ghastly thing even if it was a mindless plant. For an undead, most corpseflowers, disease or not, would spell their true end. With budding, weakening of spirit, with blossoming, new life and true death…

Onward Doctor Bones walked, as long as he followed the briar he was on, he’d eventually reach the origin. The undead who yet suffered under the corpseflower. For all the life there was in the brambles, it was such a desolate scene. Another thought arose in Doctor Bones’ skull, but with this, came… it was not quite another memory.

He collapsed into a heap of course.

Hey.

A shadow of a young boy, form obscured, hornless but bearing wings, of leather or feather none could tell.

Its an old question isn’t it?

He could not speak, he could only hear, he could not understand, he could only see darkly.

The classic question that many doctors wonder about ‘should I heal this guy, regardless of who or what he is?’

The edge of life and death, one might die and lives be lost that could be kept for a time, one might live and lives be lost that could be kept for a time. Was there no escape from death?

It isn’t much of an answer ‘we all die’ you might well just use that to not bother healing, after all, they’ll all die. Even if one avoided the limits of limits, dimensions die do they not? It isn’t an answer. It wasn’t the answer you came to.

Is a healer a judge? One with command over life and death?

The patient that should live can die, the patient that should die can live. Is there a treatment that cannot fail? Still not a answer, come the question is simple. Many answer it promptly, without delay.

Some never answer.

We did.

The answer can change.

It will not. You will not. You believe it still. Remember?

To judge the dying, to do nothing, to let a person die. To judge them unworthy of life.

Yet we were not so judged.

No.

Yet, knowing we should not be, you continued. Such judgement for others, but not for oneself.

If I could heal all wounds, cure all evils, it would not matter.

Failure, for you could not cure all evils, not even one. Mending spirit, flesh and bone, but not one evil in all the dimensions that exist did you cure. So in the end, we have our answer. Such that it is.

No Miracle lies in my hands. Heal, and hope for justice. Not heal and hope for justice.

A Doctor’s job is to heal, justice isn’t part of the picture.

Yet I cannot bear to heal a monster.

Because a doctor dared to heal what should not be healed, a monster was born, because you cannot bear to heal a monster you failed.

I do not understand.

Yes, we don’t, do we.

Doctor Bones picked himself up, glad that he hadn’t been crushed while… whatever that was happened. As for tending to the patient… Doctor Bones almost laughed. He worried about if he should heal the patient or not, but apart from that accursed question, there was a more fundamental issue. Truly, wanton thoughts draw the cart before the horse. Shaking the over abundance of thoughts, Doctor Bones continued on his way.

The brambles became denser and denser and smaller brambles appeared. They parted way on contact with the light of Doctor Bones’ horn. Like a waterfall in reverse the brambles spilled out of a large basin, for some reason the density of the brambles was lesser in that area. Doctor Bones soon saw the reason.

That man.

A figure tightly wrapped in thorns, seated on a throne of brambles. From the head of this figure the brambles extended. All of the brambles had their source in this head. All the brambles a crown of an unrelenting king.

A man who refused to let go of the last dregs of his limit of limits.

From the will of this man the corpseflower grew, but from this will, it could not bloom.

…and around that man, on that man. The sigil that had led Doctor Bones all the way to Necrobyssal.

The sigil which Doctor Bones was now sure awoke him.

[So, things haven’t been so good lately. Part of the issue is not having a backlog. Having that would be good if I get sick or whatever. Regardless, the failure is mine. Gotta step up my game though, especially if I’m going to do a particular thing in the near future. 1000+ words each update. Five days a week. That’s the commitment for now. It really isn’t much is it? I thank you for your patience]

This is a serial, first part HERE

Chapter 55: The flower that is not never blooms

-Feel free to watch. Though there may be less for you to see than you might wish, end transmission- Doctor Bones warned the Corpse-eye.

Quite honestly, Doctor Bones was glad that the being that noticed them was more curious than it was malicious, though with the nature of these things, he was fairly sure that Quplikhe would be more than happy to tear him apart and have a look around the rags of his spirit and bones. Thankfully it was wary of the seal inside him.

-Sure thing-

-Was it this thing-

-No, that sends the spinning things out to play-

-Huh, that’d be bad-

-Next time this kinda thing happens, let’s be a bit more active about having defences up-

-Optimization, Optimization!-

-This one then-

-Done, the spooky eye won’t be listening to us anymore-

-Just wrong, eyes shouldn’t listen-

-The real issue is how to get within the brambles- Doctor Bones mused.

“Oh, oh! Is it time? Will you finally use the Red Armageddon?” Miss Fern cried.

-It isn’t that destructive, rather it isn’t for destroying anyway!-

“You’re going to use it anyway right? right?!”

-…-

Doctor Bones raised up an arm.

-Rocks, get ready to bring us inside the brambles-

-The brambles are sorta in the way Director-

-Shhh, just do what he says, otherwise he might spook you!-

Outside the coffin, the very air, no the space rippled. A shining tear formed.

-LOCALE…-

Quplikhe’s many eyes contracted in terror and it fled some distance, hastily dispelling the sealed space it had created. It watched in awe as a crimson rod of ludicrous proportions fell as might a dragongod. The undead attacking the brambles felt the mighty shadow of the bat over them, and after a stupefied moment of incomprehension, all but the most mindless fled.

-What brutal destructive power- Quplikhe admired, though impact had not yet occurred.

Doctor Bones would have objected, but he couldn’t hear it.

-… ANAESTHESIA!!!!!”

A thunderous crash that sound of which alone destroyed much of the brambles, a blaze of cleansing fire from the impact, and then the red bat itself. The brambles writhed and for all the destruction, the hole that opened up just revealed the sight of more thorny growths. Still, Doctor Bones was satisfied, after all, he shouted…

-Now!-

The rocks rolled over the controls and the coffin shot into the gap. In mere moments, the brambles closed over as the plant contracted, stopping its slow advance. In a moment, the coffin was not visible, as for the mighty pillar of destruction, it had broken into red sparks that faded away as the dying embers of a life at its limit of limits.

-That was terrifying Director!-

-I’ll never say anything bad about him again-

-He’s not spooky anymore-

The rocks rattled at the thought of the ‘red armageddon’.

Quplikhe still watched of course, but, that was all it was going to do.

After a while, various undead returned, many curious about what had happened, but most just wanted to feed on the vigorous lifeforce of the brambles. Inside, the brambles converged on the coffin as if to crush it to pieces, but with a flash of blue light, the brambles became more docile, and ignored the coffin, ignoring it, save to move out of the way if the coffin came close.

-It’s squirming Director!-

-That’s just nasty-

-I’m going to say in the coffin-

-Same here-

-Me too-

-We don’t even have hands or anything, so its best we say back-

-We’d be of no use, really-

“It does look pretty dangerous, hey aren’t you lot rocks? Wouldn’t you be fine?” Miss Fern worried.

-No, they aren’t wrong to be wary- Doctor Bones said, eyes flickering.

Outside, the brambles were being suppressed by the death energies of Necrobyssal itself, within however? It was almost like a sealed space. A bubble of sickened life amidst death, a deathbed? Most would be subsumed by the brambles the moment they went in. A whole world within a dimension, perhaps almost a dimension within a dimension. What was radiating from the brambles was an endless enduring will. That was what Doctor Bones thought at first.

-I’m wrong. The will isn’t coming from the brambles, it feeds on that will, this… could it be?- he mused.

-Hurrah, Director isn’t going to send us out to get eaten by an overgrown briar patch!-

“Would it really eat you?”

-Who wouldn’t eat us if they could?-

-Rocks have all kinds of vital minerals you know!-

-We’re really good stuff!-

“Oh, maybe I should try a bit, you won’t miss a few flakes will you?”

-A-ah, I don’t think you can ea…-

-That look in her eyes! She’s gone!-

-Drooling, she’s drooling!-

The rocks scattered as Miss Fern chased after them.

-Director, please stop thinking and save us!-

-What are you even thinking about?-

-Isn’t he trying to figure out what the brambles are?-

-Ah, she’s got me! She’s got me, Nooooo!!!!-

“Just a nibble, you’ll be fine!”

A rock jerked around in panic beneath Miss Fern’s hooves, but just as she was about to do something dreadful, a voice sounded out.

-Corpseflower-

Everyone paused.

-It should be a corpseflower, shouldn’t it?-

Miss Fern, snapping out of her gluttony trotted over to Doctor Bones.

“A corpseflower, but Doctor…”

-Yes. If it is a corpseflower, there should be a flower, or at the very least a sprout-

Yet he could not sense the life of the brambles converging to such a thing. It was just a knot that sprung forth from a well. An enduring will. That meant that…

-Whatever about a flower, the corpse, the undead… whoever this is growing from has not departed from us-

“You mean there’s someone alive, uh unalive under all that?”

-Spooky-

-That can’t be comfortable-

-Most corpseflowers don’t bloom from undead… As I thought, I’ll have to go to the ‘corpse’ All of you should stay here, for your own safety!-

An enduring will, a flower that would not form and so never bloom…

Chapter 54: Cacophonous Chorus

-Do all spooky people like dramatics like that?-

-It’s just an abnormally big briar patch is all-

“I’m dramatic?” Miss Fern asked the rocks with far too much enthusiasm.

The rocks tumbled in their haste to get away from her excited sparkling eyes.

-Y-you’re only half spooky!-

-The rest is plant, which is scary-

-The roots of plants shatter rock-

-Some even eat rock-

-She’s got a face too!-

-Faces are pretty dodgy-

-Can’t really big rocks have faces?-

-Lies! Mere myth!-

From the faint noises, Quplikhe was very glad that it was a single unified being, its’ corpses shuddered at the thought of that cacophonous chorus. Sure, it was the deathspawn of several failed dead, but at least it wasn’t that. Doctor Bones massaged his skull, how strange, even though he had no skin, he could feel the phantom folds of a frown.

Quplikhe gave an ahem that was thoroughly disturbing because it came from all corpse mouths at once.

-As you can see, it is likely what you seek, If it is not too much of a presumption, may We watch you ply your arts?- it asked.

A laugh almost escaped from Doctor Bones’ fleshless jaws. It wasn’t as if he really had the power to prevent observation.

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