Liarning

A small teal onion pushed through the snows, clutching his hooded fur cloak tightly, though awkwardly, for he held something akin to an egg far more tightly, as if afraid it would sprout wings and fly away. Given this walking, talking, thinking onion was a denizen of Elcon, it wasn’t too unlikely that such a thing could happen.

The onion’s destination was clear, for right before him, poking out of the snows like the head of a severely ill giraffe was a tower that had no right to remain standing, given how ramshackle it was, made with a hodgepodge of different slabs of rock, as if the builder had just picked up any old stone he could could find, stacked it on, and nodding his head said;

“Yeah, that’ll do”

With the builder being a wizard, this is roughly how the tower was actually made.

Rather than a roof, it was more accurate to say that the upper part of the tower was a chimney. A ramshackle chimney with horns that produced bat-like sparkling purple-blue smoke. The smoke even chittered as it vanished into thin air. The onion reached the tower and was about to knock on one of the stones with a leafy fist, there was after all, no obvious door, not even windows.

The slab before our nervous vegetable was quite jagged, a vigorous bout of knocking would surely result in shredded fibres.

“Did he change the rocks again?” the onion worried.

After circling the tower a bit, he managed to find a rock that wasn’t in some way harmful on contact. He shivered a bit at remembering how he almost knocked on some rock that was quite poisonous! It didn’t matter if you were animal, vegetable or mineral, touching it would cause the part with what you touched to swell up like a balloon, and if you touched a needle?

POP.

Well, after a bit of hoping that the rock before him wasn’t some sinister mineral he had not encountered before, the onion pounded on the slab before him, shouting;

“Ho Ho Hi! Are you there great Nobbuckle?!”

A crashing sound came from within the tower and then a rumble along with a girlish scream of dismay. Following that, there was manic laughter that swelled up along the tower, the smoke condensed into a winged laughing being. The onion quivered in fear, right down to his innermost layers as he watched this laughing magical creature fly off into the north.

Our onion fidgeted as he waited, until the slab before him abruptly wiggled and floated free, managing to avoid being hit by this, the poor onion was almost impaled by a sharp blade-like object that poked out from the darkness of the newly made opening.

A nose.

That was what it was.

A yellow, uncomfortably pointy nose attached to a flat yellow face. Glowing white eyes glared out from this face, and a pair of ears like horns curled out back behind. Below the nose, was a grimace like an horizontal upside-down crescent. A crescent filled with triangular teeth. Not at all a sight you want to see up close.

Given that this face belonged to an apuce, it should have been an happy unnerving smile, but then wizards are frequently unusual characters. While his kind have a fondness of tricks, unnerving people and being irrepressibly upbeat, Nobbuckle had only kept one of those three dear.

As is the case with apuce, he had a lumpy body of purply-brown fur that looked more likely to be found on a barbershop floor than on a living being. Though in his case, much of this was stuffed into a dark blue robe with glittering stars that seemed to be made from the scales of a fish. Upon his head he also had a skullcap of the same dark blue cloth and with a single star upon in. With the head of an apuce being so thin and flat, it was more than a little ill-fitting.

Since he had a robe with voluminous sleeves, he had no need to hide his scaly arms and claws in his fur as his people usually do. As for his chicken-like ungainly legs thankfully they were concealed by his long robes. Magicians are among the most likely people to wear clothes in Elcon, seeing as how they can more easily keep their clothes from coming alive and attempting to possess them.

Among the many embarrassing ends an Elconic magician can have, being possessed by your clothes ranks very high.

Nobbuckle quickly spotted the nervous onion before his abode.

“Eh? Gack? You again? What is it this time? Come, come, hurry up, You’re fortunate I’m such a good person, otherwise I’d have long since cursed you, now, now, don’t be shy, speak up!” Nobbuckle rattled off.

“I’m sorry for disturbing you O great Nobbuckle, I saw a big creature come from your chimney, will it be fine just to leave it?”

Nobbuckle twisted his head a bit and looked even more grumpy. He pulled a crystal ball and peered deep into it. Gack couldn’t see anything though.

“It’ll be fine, fine. Something will eat it I’m sure” Nobbuckle stated.

Gack bobbed his body in agreement.

“Now, now, what is it this time? Did one of Bortha’s buffows eat a ghostie and get indigestion again? Perhaps, perhaps you angered another bandit clan, hmm? You don’t look quite worried enough for that. Excited, excited, that’s how you look this means…”

“Yes great Nobbuckle! I found a thing again!” Gack shouted excitedly.

Nobbuckle pulled a protective amulet in the shape of a shield that was also a sleeping sheep from his sleeve and put it on, activating it. He’d have to re-enchant it regardless of there being danger or not, but since a previous incident he had learned his lesson.

“Well, well, a thing. What might this thing be?” Nobbuckle asked.

Gack put a sour look on his face.

“I don’t know, I thought you would, that’s why I came here!”

“I meant for you to show me the thing Gack.”

Gack’s face brightened up, lit with a dazzling smile, as if he was a young sprout whose confession of love had just been accepted. He proudly held out what he holding onto.

“This thing looks quite like a rock” Nobbuckle mused flatly.

“This rock, when someone tells a lie around it, that person will be struck by lightning!”

“No way, the Fool must have been telling lies to you again! That’s a perfectly ordinary rock! GAH!”

A bolt from nowhere stuck against Nobbuckle, causing him to convulse. His amulet did nothing at all!

“Great Nobbuckle, are you ok!?” Gack panicked.

Being a wizard, Nobbuckle was quite used to being electrocuted, so he recovered quite quickly. He was about to say that he was fine, but with some quick thinking, worried about the stone.

“I am coping with being disturbed, having an experiment blow up and getting struck through my defences by lightning” he said.

“Oh. So, what is it great Nobbuckle?” Gack asked.

The great Nobbuckle rubbed his forehead a bit.

“Isn’t it a stone that strikes those that lie with lightning?” he said flatly.

“Should I keep it?”

“Well, it could be used for disputes… but with how honest you villagers are, excluding the Fool, that’d be fairly pointless, pointless. Who knows what other issues it might have. Hohum. Let’s sell it! Is Honest Hammel at the village today?”

“He is O great Nobbuckle!”

“Wonderful, wonderful. I’ll just close up here and go with you, just in case”

* * * * *

As Gack and Nobbuckle came closer and closer to the tent of the fox merchant named Honest Hammel, the stone began to rattle. Both the vegetable and apuce stopped.

“O great Nobbuckle, this is very worrying!” Gack worried.

“How curious, curious, why is it doing that I wonder?”

Before Nobbuckle could consider further, a fox who had some fur burnt off of one hand long ago came out of the tent, it was Honest Hammel himself!

“Oh, what brings you two to…”

Honest’s voice was drowned out by the stone suddenly howling.

“Throw the stone up into the air!” Nobbuckle screamed.

Gack didn’t question Nobbuckle for one moment instead he threw the stone, which was shuddering mightily, into the air. As well that he did so, for in the next moment, the stone itself exploded and lighting appeared, a whole storm of the stuff, converging on Honest Hammel!

There was a cry that could not have possibly come from a fox and Honest Hammel was reduced to ashes.

Nobbuckle and Gack were left standing slackjawed at the remains.

This is the final update of this serial, the first part is HERE

Chapter 60: When the exception rules

Serpents are evil.

Isn’t this something everyone knows?

It is in the nature of a serpent to lie, to cheat, to swallow whole.

Unicorns are good.

Isn’t this something everyone knows?

It is in the nature of a unicorn to heal, to reveal truth, to sanctify.

Phoenixes are undying.

Isn’t this something everyone knows?

It is in the nature of a phoenix to burn, to revive, to burn, to revive, to burn, to revive…

Yet…

A serpent can be good, a unicorn profane and a phoenix can truly die, ashes never more to rise.

Some would say then that there is no absolutes, that all things can be as other things. Some would say the absolute is that all of them die. Some that all of them live.

Yet, when does the exception ever overtake the rule?

White serpents, as a rule, have great healing properties, thus, they become a symbol of medicine in many worlds.

Unicorns, as a rule, have great healing properties, thus, they become a symbol of medicine in many worlds.

Phoenixes, as a rule, have great healing properties, thus they become a symbol of medicine in many worlds.

If all three would cry over your broken body, your scattered spirit, your ruined Record, would having experienced true death, would you experience true resurrection?

“The tears would need to be willing, and when has any serpent, virtuous or not ever cried for anyone?”

How many phoenixes, unicorns and white serpents would you deceive, how many would you lead to a path of sorrows, just to see the answer? Or perhaps if one’s heart is not so twisted, wandering the dimensions until you see such a sight would more… palatable.

Warping flesh and spirit, there would surely be some who would do such a thing to those three unfortunate beings. Would the tears of such a mockery bring anything other than vengeance? Than retributive plague?

How could monstrous deeds ever lead to true resurrection?

Despair and desperation, those ancient serpents devour many who seek Miracle.

An old question of Doctors and many else;

“What does it mean to save a life?”

Much later, an arrogant and unwilling genius wondered if such a thing was even possible.

As if limited could decide the limits of possibility. Such is often a snare ’round the neck of those burdened with talent.

Doctor Bones once more could see and and think. Once more he had returned from what many consider a little death.

“Isn’t losing consciousness very bad for undead, Doctor?” Miss Fern asked with no small amount of worry.

Indeed, undead shouldn’t be able to fall unconscious at all. Restless dead and all that.

-Isn’t it safe to assume I’m quite irregular? Ugh, how am I back in the coffin? This is the coffin isn’t it?-

Doctor Bones looked around and sure enough, he was in the control room of the coffin, the rocks were occupying the throne of operations and bickering nervously about something or another. On the mirrorscreen was the view outside the coffin.

A great flower of many colours, not yet bloomed, the petals pierced into the very space of Necrobyssal and surrounding this flower were brambles arranged as if the flower was a jewel, and the brambles a crown. It did not rest in the rotted detritus of Necrobyssal, but was ascending as if to pierce through the layer it was in, as if it hell a unyielding will and burning desire to escape the dimension of final ends.

Such vigour, such life it had that the very nature of Necrobyssal was rejecting it, that the unfortunate oncedead could not approach it.

Doctor Bones was silent.

“You were spat out like a bolt, the rocks just managed to catch you before anything dreadful happened to you. There… there was a lot of death essences clinging to you, real nasty ones, I cleared them all off, the knowledge you gave me…” Miss Fern trailed off, seeing that her babbling was failing to distract Doctor Bones.

A low sound like the creak of an ancient mausoleum resounded in the room, startling the rocks and Miss Fern. It was a sigh from the dead, from Doctor Bones.

-Ah, so it was a failure- he stated, falling to the silence of the grave once more.

Heavy did this silence weigh on Doctor Bones’ companions. Several times, Miss Fern attempted to say something, but the words died before they could even come close to her mouth. As for the rocks, even beings as dense as they did not dare speak up in such heavy matters. Doctor Bones stared at the flower, the many coloured light, the light of dimensions flickering across his skull from the mirrorscreen.

-It is a beautiful flower though- he said sadly.

Even a ruined city can hold beauty, how much more can it be said that a flower can hold such? The life of flowers often hold death. If nothing else, no matter how beautiful a flower is, are many not composed of deadly poison.

Images of life and death.

Miss Fern perhaps for the first time in her life as a potted plant, felt a crushing sense of inadequacy.

For a moment, Doctor Bones felt he was on the verge of understanding something, but sorrow shrouded his mind, and the thought faded away, as the Record of the patient had faded.

-We should watch it bloom, we owe the patient that much at least… yes… we’ll leave after it blooms fully- Doctor Bones said.

With a pain that pierced into her very spirit, Miss Fern nodded. The rocks grew utterly still.

The petals of the corpseflower slowly unfurled, coming to full bloom, shining a light like that of dawn, but cast through a rainbow. The centre of the flower could not be seen for this blinding light. As Doctor Bones was about to command the rocks to depart… something unexpected happened.

At the peak of its blossoming, the tips of the corpseflower turned a mottled brown. Rapidly the rest of the plant withered right down to its brambles and roots. Even as this happened before shocked gazes, the light that had been in the centre of the blossom ascended further, this light parted forming a halo of petals.

Nestled within the core of the halo… was…

Another flower bud.

-Impossible- Doctor Bones spluttered.

“What is… am I seeing things, is that really?” Miss Fern trailed off.

-Eh? It shouldn’t do that?-

-You mean this isn’t regular-

-Spoo…-

-Oh quit it already, it isn’t spooky at all!-

The rocks began to squabble.

Doctor Bones was standing up straight not a bit of his earlier gloom present.

-A second blooming, a flower consuming flower! It should not happen-

He said this, but what really had him shaken was the familiarity that the second flower gave him. Gleaming petals that were more like carapace than vegetable matter, petals that radiated a will of survival! It was as if he was seeing the patient’s Record hale and hearty in the form of a flower.

-I saw his Record vanish. I saw his true death didn’t I?-

-Maybe you mistook what you saw?- a rock doubted.

“Or perhaps we are going to see the magic of Miracle!” Miss Fern wondered, eyes sparkling.

-Mysterious, mysterious- a rock muttered.

-I… can this really be?- Doctor Bones said.

-Look! the new flower is blossoming!-

-It better not be something ghastly-

-How could you even say that?-

-You’ve doomed us all!-

“Shush!” Miss Fern hissed.

There was no blinding light within the new flowerbud, instead as it blossomed, what became clear was the shadow of a figure, knees to chest, like a baby sleeping in its mother’s womb. The petals began to pulsate with the breaths of this figure. A man of brambles and flowers, a man with a mask of carapace for a face, with little features other than two vertical lines that went from crown to chin. Amid a mane of fruits, horns like that of some manner of beetle sprouted forth nobly.

A flicker of red gold in the two deep lines on the beings face and it was clear that the lines served as eyes.

A long breath was exhaled by this being, sending out a black fog, a mess of necrotic energies, clearly the being had just expelled the last of the shadow of death from itself. Doctor Bones was gobsmacked as with his eyes he could tell that the being before them was not undead.

Then, a rumbling cry of triumph came from the flower-man and he stretched out his limbs wide, the petals and halo of petals resting at his feet.

“Praise be to the Salmon of Sacrifice! Glorious life from death!”

After that, it was as if he thrown from a slingshot, Necrobyssal itself was rejecting the presence of one filled with so much life. The undead had quailed at his cries

Doctor Bones stood there in abject shock.

What Salmon? What Sacrifice?

-What does an engimatic dimensional deity have to do with…-

He did not want to complete the thought, but had a faint feeling of having been played with.

-Well, that was something else- one of the rocks said.

However as it said that, a supreme presence made itself known inside the coffin, it was the shadow of the flower man! He looked kindly at Doctor Bones and all present.

“Do not think your efforts have gone unnoticed, I thank you, Last Doctor of Latent Corpentsis, here, take this…”

A shining flower within which was the emblem of a fish that was an eye sprouted in the palm of the flower-man’s hand.

“Bearing this, you have my and my Master’s favour, when you have most need, surely you will be delivered, if not by my hand, then by another. Take hope, rest not in your search for true, Last Doctor of Latent Corpentsis”

The shadow broke away into petals and those vanished leaving behind the floating favour.

Doctor Bones was not one to reject such things an grasped it, a feeling of peaced washed over him for a moment, but he just felt it was relief.

-Well, that was really something else- the same rock as the previous occasion said.

“It was Miracle! I’ve seen the third magic!” Miss Fern exclaimed, eyes sparkling.

-Well, I’m not sure you could call it a miracle that the patient managed to devour the corpseflower and revive. I must have been seeing things before-

-We finally leaving this deadend place Director?-

-Please say yes-

-We should leave even if he doesn’t say yes-

Doctor Bones almost laughed.

-Yes, we’ll leave, after all, we’ve done our job here-

So, under the gazes of those at the limits of limits, the coffin left just as the flower-man had left.

Miss Fern did not say so to Doctor Bones, but she still believed that she had witnessed the Third Magic.

That she had seen a Miracle.

Epilogue: The Last Doctor of Latent Corpentsis

Doctor Bones had two objects in his hands. One was the sugar cube from the Great Sugar Draggy, the other was the emblem of the mysterious flower-man who had dimensions within his body and as he knew now, served a being even more inscrutable than himself.

Favours.

It wasn’t uncommon for healers to receive favours, indeed, some when healed would pledge their lives to the healer. Many believe that it is the natural order for one healed to serve their healer.

Favours.

Latent Corpentsis must surely have gained the favour of many beings, of many organizations.

-I’ve received more of the beginning of answers than answers themselves- Doctor Bones mused.

How exactly was Latent Corpentsis reduced to a single undead member with sealed memories?

“Doctor, where do we go now?” Miss Fern asked.

Doctor Bones stroked his fleshless chin.

“It may be time to go to dimensional hubworld”

“Aye, Aye Director!”

“He’s actually a doctor and not a pirate though…”

This is a serial, first part HERE

Chapter 59: That which Devours, that which is devoured

It’s a common way of analysis, though not that many can do it. Destroy with as many different methods and reform after each one. Not a bad way to understand the nature of something. The more ways that you can destroy a thing and the longer you can renew it without deviation, the better your information will be. Naturally such a method is basically brute force analysis, and as with the majority of dimensional doctor techniques one that can be used for ends other than healing.

As for the Healer’s Wheel of Trials, Logriva, it is quite a popular construct among magical doctors, though many lack the ability to bring out the full potential of the spell. Indeed in the many dimensions that exist there are a multitude of variants, offshoots and stunted descendants of the spell.

As soon as the restoration of the severed maw was beginning to result in distortions Doctor Bones had Logriva annihilate the sample. As the magical construct faded away he stared at the brambleroot frozen in time on the Record.

-Separation will fail. Reversal is the only path left. Wither the brambles, bloom the Record-

Doctor Bones stroked the Record gently, some ancient Law passing from his fingertips.

-Stir the essence of hunger, the base of survival is good material, remember, the most common among beings for survival is to consume others-

The patient’s record shuddered and then it split open like a flower, but the petals of this wrapped around the rambleroots, and a most disconcerting sound of eating began. Doctor Bones nodded along with the crunching and wet slobbering, never once stopping his manipulation of the Record.

Yet… the rate of consumption slowed, and Doctor Bones pulled back, stopping what he was doing, the Record continued for a time before returning to normal.

-Too weak to eat fast enough to outpace the brambles, and I can hardly keep injecting time poison into the bramble-

After all, if he over dosed it, the corpseflower would die, and with it, the patient.

-Could it be strengthened?-

Doctor Bones shook his head.

-Your strong will has kept you alive, but with how much of your will is inside the corpseflower, keeping it from blooming, you’ve little left for yourself.-

He sat down, knuckles against skull as he considered the options left for treatment. There was a click of bone as he snapped his fingers mere moments later.

-Not enough strength to devour, so instead of the brambles, force the blooming, and have the Record steal the fruits of the corpseflower’s labours, to renew itself even as it dies.-

He looked on with doubt at the brambleroot and the Record.

-I’ll force it to bloom here. That’ll weaken its advance, and hopefully give my patient enough time…-

Tapping the root, he considered how best to force a blooming within the clinic. After some consideration, he pulled out a blue crystal fork with two needle-like prongs.

An instrumental. An artefact to supplant the intentions of any being. Though technically it did nothing to the mind. Instead it would dominate the flesh, physical or spiritual, of the patient. Doctor Bones did not however instantly jab the instrumental in. Instead he touched the Record once more, trying to communicate his plan to the owner of the Record.

After all, without the patient drawing back their indomitable will, the corpseflower wasn’t going to bloom any time soon.

Doubt, yet resigned acquiescence. Those were the feelings Doctor Bones received.

He was feeling much of those himself.

Still, he had gotten agreement. All that was left was to gamble on the edge of life and death, to try and grasp life from the jaws of death.

Calming himself, Doctor Bones jabbed the instrumental into the corpseflower as the effects of the time poison were beginning to fade.

It shrieked, at first in pain, then in joy.

So long restricted from blooming, what had stood in its way no longer was there. The plant didn’t even notice that the bud that it was excitedly forming was on its very root! Far outside the undead that had been feeding on the vigorous life of the brambles cried out in dismay as the plant began to wither from the outside in.

Before the bud began to bloom, Doctor Bones grabbed the Record and thrust it at the bud.

-Now, fight once more for survival!-

Unfurling into a flower-maw the Record savaged the new bud! Yet even as it did so the bud grew and began to bloom. The brambleroot twitched as it drew more and more life and will from the brambles and forced it into the bud. It even more savagely resumed eating the core itself! Yet just as it was replenishing its bud with life and will, the core was being restored by that same life and will.

Doctor Bones was not idle, as he delayed the bramble root with the instrumental and even dosed the corpseflower with more time poison, reaching the limits of what was safe.

The instrumental cracked and broke, the vigour of the corpseflower overwhelming it.

Yet, though medicines were out of the question, Doctor Bones had one method left to assist the patient. He jammed his hands right between the root and the Record. He couldn’t of course pull the corpseflower off, but it was enough to pull back on the thing.

It wasn’t much, but it was enough and soon instead of a root extending into the abyss of the Neverwilt the ends of the corpseflower could be seen, but still the corpseflower urged all into the production of the bud which was being devoured by the Record.

Finally with one last bite, the Record had eaten the ends of brambleroot, meeting itself.

The Record of survival shone in the air valiantly.

-Success?-

Doctor Bones had an uneasy feeling. He moved up closer to do a full checkup on the Record, as he did so…

It trembled.

The clinic trembled.

It cracked.

The Record cracked.

Bursting forth from these cracks were thorned brambles, like many serpents hatching from a single edge. The Record faded, vanished, and all that remained…

Before Doctor Bones could do anything else, his vision was filled the brambles of the corpseflower born anew.

All he could hear was the medical space shattering.

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