Chapter 11 - Of Bonds and Breath, The Twin Doused in the Waters of Death (3/3)
The Tunnel Rat Mageling II - 4th of Mead’s Tap, Year 1125 A.E.
Eiden lay sprawled out on the floor near Fin’s side of the room, his bodies—be they of flesh or spirit—utterly and entirely spent.
The use of his aura, and spirit in general, took much less time to recover than the strength of flesh and bone. Yet, somehow, Eiden had exhausted that too.
Fin had said: as above, so below. And that rang truer now than ever, the spiritual malaise weighing down his limbs like a blanket wrought of lead.
His spirit was weak, but his mind was willing.
On second thought, maybe not even me wits are good no more.
Eiden’s mind, and by proxy will, had also been wrung dry. Quite literally, too, as the gutter-wizard had taken the substance of his emotions and expelled them into the Physical.
He had endowed them with tangible form in the waking world like some godling. Each spark of mana was temporary—mortal even—but no less a wondrous act of creation.
They were still primitive magicks, he felt but at the thought of future possibilities and potentialities, the lad licked his lips.
He tasted iron at the back of his mouth, Eiden’s head hurting like the Hells.
The pains had started after he achieved the ability to maintain separate kinds of emotional emanation summoned concurrently. They worsened further with his auric exercise, in specific, with the use of telekinesis.
It was a dull and throbbing sort of ache, the blood pounding in the affected areas of his skull. It felt like a little spook or trickster spirit of some sort played the skald’s drums with his brains.
In a word, unpleasant. But, he would make do, pain being the intimate friend it had always been. By the ‘morrow, he would be back to some magicking properly once again.
For now though, some fresh air would do him good; the tunnel rat had made a habit of hanging by the window to just linger in the taste of free, clean breath.
It was a luxury for rats, to breathe without shackles.
Eiden got up from the cool marble floor like a dead man raised from eternal slumber and made his way towards the window, opening its shutters. Supporting himself on his forearms, he rested his chin atop them as he looked out into the night.
The Twins did their dance in the tide of the horizon, great whitemoon Alba waxing and the middling blackmoon Erebus was as He always; dark and foreboding in His Vigil over Terra and the Veil Between.
His visage was a dark reflection of Solaria, the black no longer simple shadow but something more. It was a darkness made into palpable but wrong light, piercing to the eyes—caliginous.
For the Twin Doused In Death’s Waters was a hole bored through the fundamental fabric of the Heavens Themselves, beyond the Place Where Stars Dwell and into the Void; the foundation upon which Terra and the Hells were built and separated.
Eiden knew so from all the tales he had heard throughout his life, though whether such fancies were true was anyone’s best guess. The tunnel rat only knew that his head was chock-full of myths and legends of the Sevenfold Faith, brain-aches notwithstanding.
Slowly—as he looked out into the wound of the night—the hunger that had come upon him so violently in the morn’, came back.
With a vegeance.
His spirit wanted for mana. Wanted for the stuff of spirits and flesh-made-simple.
Specifically, this call—this need—came from his Center, the First Basin of the spirit bound physically to his navel. Eiden still could not see clearly into this cavity of his subtle body, a caliginous veil obfuscating his inner spiritual perception.
And so, his senses—mundane and auric—quested outwards, in search of sustenance. The skin of his spirit spread like fog on a cold spring morning, covering the room under its domain; no physical Shroud manifested instead only blooming in the World of Spirit.
His aura snagged on the Exorcist’s cork-sealed bottle, the mana within alluring—it was so grand and intoxicating, the sheer amount of essence concentrated within.
No, can’t, Eiden scolded, treating his own spirit like some wayward pup. That’s Fin’s stuff.
Eiden returned to scouring the room, his hunger turning desperate all the while. His spirit snagged another source of worthwhile mana; the hearth that lay smoldering and dead.
His Center had sniffed the remains of flame like a crow to carrion, intrinsic attraction giving directive; instinct guided the invisible hands of his spirit.
Eiden had not fed any lumber to the hearth today, the room having been warm enough already. Yet now, another sort of fire ached to be fed, and he would heed its call readily to rid himself of the pang of longing.
Like acid at the back of his throat, sizzling and crackling, this sensation could not be ignored. It rang throughout all his spirit with the piercing cry of a newborn, originating from his Center like a blood-curdling scream rebounding off cavern walls.
The mageling tunnel rat took the firewood by the side of the hearth and laid it atop the smoldering remnants of the once-roused fire, placing tinder and kindling all throughout.
He blew the embers and cinders, endowing them with his breath and giving them second life as flame once again.
When the fires grew big and fat, he sat down in front of them, the rug already thrown far and away; he was hungry but not a savage. Eiden still heeded to the Exorcist’s words.
The mageling closed his eyes, plunging himself in the black of the mind.
A feeling, so familiar yet just out of his reach, flitted on the edges of Eiden’s awareness as the image of the flames came unbidden to his mind’s eye. Whenever he tried to grasp this fleeting fairy, it danced away from his mental clutches; it would only be caught unawares by trap and ambush set.
Eiden let go of his attempts to catch the feeling, the hunger having reached its apex height, burning bright as Solaria at noon. Yet there was no holy light to this sensation.
The darkness black of Erebus lay not only beyond the window of this room, but too lay festering in his navel. A caliginous wound in the night.
His aura spread over the hearthfire without the care it once had, claiming this parcel of the World of Spirit as its own. The spiritual skein made itself at home and hearth, settling in the cracks of the soft flesh of reality-in-between like the drying of mortar betwixt brick.
Having done this already the night before, the mageling opened the gates of his Center, the act coming easy. The walls of the arteries and veins closest to the First Basin relaxed their natural constrictment, letting the mana flood in.
The essence of fire burned its way through his pathways—the flame he had kindled having been much bigger and hotter than the one of last night. Essence was the distillation of the Physical, afterall. It would show the properties and signs of its original host matter.
Too late, he told himself through gritted teeth as he harvested every last drop of the flames with abandon most painful.
Finally, his Center no longer ached but instead his spirit-veins, for he had abused them thoroughly in the wake of his blind hunger. They were, after having passed a trial by fire, bloody raw and inflamed; tender pain throbbing with each natural passing of substance insubstantial through them.
That stings like the bloody Nine. Won’t be able to eat mana again so soon now. Might even hav’ta go without magicking to conserve me strength.
Eiden opened his eyes to an unexpected sight: his left hand, and by proxy entire left arm, had lifted and grasped towards the now ashen hearth.
His fingers clutched at the air, the empty without full of nothing.
Not a single cinder left behind, the room cold as the cliffside on a morning of Last Frost.
Only bitter grey was left in the wake of his ravaging.