The Empress’ New Clothes
Helena Gravsten wipes the sweat off her brow with a hand that, she thinks, has smelled distinctly better. She looks down on a day’s work; she has finally managed to heal the last wounds on the barrowman’s body. I will have Cordelia make a portal to a stream or maybe a bathouse. It will be my reward. I deserve it for working so hard.
She is about to add the final ingredient to the soup, that is to say magic, when she halts. Bringing someone back once, those are mechanics she knows. But twice? There are ramifications at play here, not just only philosophical musings. There are things out there, creatures that would like to hijack a body and cause havoc. Creatures she have met.
The memory forces its way through the hindquarters of her brain, not caring for her attempts to stop it…
Helena knelt on the floor of the old warehouse, in a part of Fallowfell where few would visit. She placed the dead squirrel in a circle made of her own blood, and fortified by her necromancy. This particular attempt, she thought to herself, would be to see what would happen if you brought something back… and just let the magic idle.
She’d never considered that, and her source had been silent on the topic, so she had planned to experiment, hence the squirrel and the magic circle.
Magic like purple electricity surged through her veins and followed her intentions.
At first nothing happened. No movement, no small squirrel-noises. She waited. Five minutes– she made a note of it on her phone. Ten minutes– a second notation. Fifteen minutes– a third notation and she starts to worry . After twenty minutes had lapsed, the squirrel stood up, suddenly, startling her. It turned its eyes to her, eyes burning with three-dimensional flames that smoked red and laughed. A deep manical laugh that shook the rafters of the warehouse, displacing dust that was old before she was born. Then it launched itself at her, only to be repelled by the protective circle.
She flinched, and tried to break the reanimation, but to no avail. It had made the magic, her magic, a part of itself.
In panic she screamed for it to die.
Ten times she said the word, each time backed up with more magic, but even so, the squirrel lasted for an entire day, still laughing while dieing.
She shakes her head, removing sweaty hair from her forehead. This time I am more powerful. This time I am going to bring him back, not play with magic.
She puts a hand over the barrowman’s chest, and with no further flourishes, brings him back with hands glowing a nauseating purple. She has barerly unleashed the magic before her head splits, or that’s atleast what it feels like. Her vision cracks in two; for a moment she is looking down on the barrowman, while simultaneously looking up at a girl she has always known. Alarmed at what she is experiencing, and more, feeling, she stops the flow of magic.
The headache doesn’t vanish, but abates somewhat. What did I just experience? I was in my body… and then I was in the barrowman’s. But it wasn’t like the near-body control I have over the beings I have reanimated with blacken blood. This was true control. No, not even control she thinks to herself. It was almost, she figures, like driving a drone. An empty vessel. An intriguing notion.
A purple outline flows around her body, and she tries to bring him back a second time. The mental feedback of having two bodies and a single brain is crushing, but she goes on, determined to make it work. She attempts to speak, to form words.
“My name is Helena Gravsten.” Her voice echoes over the forest, springing from two separate throats. She breaks the reanimation before the strain becomes too much. Amazing, she marvels.
On her third attempt to utilize the barrowman’s body she makes it move. She laughs to herself. Now if I could just lessen the strain…. She glances down at the body she is currently occupying, or mostly occupying. Then at her own body which is occupied by a small piece of her. The answer is so simple.
She brings the barrowman back a fourth time, and now she tries something new, something different. She pushes her mind, her soul, the very thing that makes her sentient towards the barrowman. Her focus becomes one, and when she stands up , she does it with a body much taller than she is used to.
She takes a step forward, and falls on her ass. “This will take some time getting used to.” Just to be certain she kneels next to her old body and makes sure it is breathing. It is.
She stands up gingerly, and makes fist. There is a sound like old leather creaking. Hmm. She walks up to an old pine, slowly, mindful of the stones and sticks on the forest floor. She doesn’t want to fall on her ass again. She pulls her arm back. Takes aim. And strikes the tree with everything she got.
The tree shudders, cracks and falls down next to her and Cordelia’s tents. She flexes her legs and jumps, a jump that takes her high into the sky, far above the pines. She comes crashing down, creating a crater as her feet makes contact with the ground. “Yes”, she says, a female voice originating from a male throat. “This will certainly take some time to get used to.”