Posted 02 July 2009 - 07:55 AM
My destination is a small hut several days’ travel from the freezing mountain’s cave where I was keeping Mitsuko previously. By good fortune and a near inexhaustible horse, I was able to get to this point faster than most. I swat a fly buzzing near my head; keeping the decomposers away from the contents of the wagon has been a difficult task. Placing s few of the magical crystals inside the cart assists, and I have kept up with the delicate applications of the preservatives. The body has not begun to smell to my nose, fortunately. I can only hope what decay her body has gone through is little enough for the spell to work.
I arrive at the hut now, the hut of one of the few thaumaturges strong of will enough to be called a resurrectionist. It is slightly decrepit, but I dare not even think a complaint. I halt the horse with a soft command, slide out of the cart’s bench and rap on the door of the hut. The resurrectionist was willing to take a fraction of what his fellows, hardly any of them there were, were requesting, and as he opens the door and peers out, I can see why. His eyes are bloodshot and the sclera of each eye is a sickening yellow color; the telltare signs of a liquain user. He probably used the considerable gold I already paid him to purchase the drug.
He shies away from the weak sunlight, and asks “Do you have her?” in a deep yet raspy voice. I nod silently. “And you have the tool?” I again do not voice a response, but open a pouch on a belt and remove a large glass vial. A scarlet feather glimmers within. It took me a full month to locate and retrieve this item, but I show no anger as I hand the vial to him. He mutters an encouragement and opens the door wide. “Bring her in.”
I step up into the coach’s back where Mitsuko lies, covered by a snow-white shroud. I do not remove the sheet but step next to her body and gently, tenderly, carefully pick her up. It is difficult, as I am trying to support both her arms as well as her neck, to avoid the grisly image of any of her body falling lifelessly.
I carry the body--impossibly weighty, for Mitsuko’s size--into the hut. The resurrectionist gestures to a mauve sigil emblazoned on the floor as he hurriedly closes the door--sun sensitivity is a hallmark of liquain addiction.
No sooner have a gingerly placed Mitsuko’s frail form upon the floor does the resurrectionist walk to her and take the shroud off her face. Even now, dead months, pale beyond belief, she is still breathtakingly beautiful. With quaking hands he runs a finger over the wound across her neck. The man is gaunt, his face prematurely aged and his hair stringy. He wears rags that must have once been the dark yet noble garments of the priests of Thanatos. “Good--A nice thin wound,” he rasps, “Easily healed during the prrr-process.” He squeezes her stomach through the cloth as if testing a melon for maturity. “Hmm…” he murmurs. “Good. The pu-pu-putrefaction has not entered advanced-vanced stages. When y’said how long she had been dead, ‘n’ a half-elf, too, I was afraid she’d be too far gone for an-anything…”
And yet you took my gold anyway! My anger is incited, and only increases as the resurrectionist squeezes Mitsuko’s body all over, checking for rot in a process akin to groping. He finally finishes with the violation, muttering appreciatively; he then grabs her on the back of her ribs and stomach and flips her with a violent jerk. Mitsuko’s forehead clunks nauseatingly on the stone floor.
Sanity and Control sings a single note as I tear it out of the sheath and point it savagely at the disgusting mage. “Do anything like that again, and your corpse will join hers,” I growl.
He turns almost as white as the body before him. “Her hum-hum-hum, homm, homm, homm…” he stammers incoherently for a moment, then takes a flask from his cloak and takes a single gulp from it before calming down. Liquain and alcohol, most likely. “The bodily humours have pooled where she has lain.” He gestures at Mitsuko‘s back. “You can see it in the lividity. I need to upend her a bit so they are more evenly dispersed.”
I blink, and stow Sanity and Control. “If it is required,” I respond, “fine. But I shall do it.”
The resurrectionist shrugs. His gaze is steady now, and his hands no longer shake.. “No matter who does it, it must be done.” He retrieves another flask from his robes. “Make her drink this, too.” He tosses it towards me.
I catch it with ease, uncork it, and peer inside. “What is it?” I inquire.
“Merely distilled water. Her throat’s going to be dry as hell when she wakes. I‘ll go pr-prepare.”
He moves into a back room, and I softly, carefully pick up Mitsuko’s cold-as-clay body, turning her back over. I readjust the shroud where it has fallen off one of Mitsuko’s breasts from the sudden jostle, taking care to still support her head. Without any prompting, I softly begin to rock her, back and forth, then up and down, worlds more gently than the resurrectionist would. Already, I see the color returning to Mitsuko’s face. Back and forth, a little more emphatically now, to fully distribute the fluids. I do this for several more minutes, and I am suddenly aware I am whispering a lullaby that I do not know. Not missing a word, I tilt Mitsuko’s head back and pour the water into her mouth, hoping it goes down the right way. I lay her back down on the rune and step back, gazing at her. I have never wanted anything, in my past life or my current one, more than to bring Mitsuko back.
The resurrectionist re-enters with the feather, now considerably shorter, and a mortar. “Some use Phoenix Down for resurrections,” he says to me, “But myself? I say there’s nothing that pleases the dark keeper like the Pinions. Except, perhaps, for the head, but I’d never ask anyone for one of those.” He chuckles almost madly, then lays the pinion on top of Mitsuko’s stomach, and empties the powdered contents of the mortar on the circle of the rune on the floor. As an afterthought, he pushes a basin on the floor over near me. “You’ll need that,” he warns. He takes a book off a table and turns to me. “When I am done with the incantation, she will be back among us. Then you can pay me the rest. It shall take a while, but under no circumstances interrupt me nor upset her. Any further inquires?”
I remove a silver charm on a chain, a simple design with several curves, from a pouch and show it to him. “What does this stand for?” I ask.
He recoils slightly. “Holy symbol of Philitronia, goddess of love. W-wouldn’t think you a romantic…” he hisses. He shakes his head, sits down upon the floor, and begins reciting from the book.
I had found the charm in Mitsuko’s pocket. The goddess of love? There is so much I do not know about Mitsuko. I join the resurrectionist in sitting cross-legged. I listen a bit; he is praising his Lord Thanatos and asking for a boon from Him; I hope the stutter does not ruin the effect. A dark four-sided pyramid has come into existence over Mitsuko’s body, not made of light as much as it seems to absorb light. I close my eyes and hands tightly, feeling the symbol press against my palm. As the resurrectionist asks for favor from Thanatos, I pray to this Philtronia. Please. Please let Mitsuko return. Please let me look into her eyes again, hear her voice again. Please. Please.
I know not how long passed before the resurrectionist ceased his recitation; half an hour, hours, or millennia, I am not sure. I open my eyes, drop the chain. The charm has left an imprint of its holy symbol on my palm.
The pyramid is gone, as is the feather. The ragged wound on Mitsuko’s neck has gone down to a thin scar. I wait.
With a sudden gasp for air, Mitsuko’s eyes fly open and she sit ups quickly, the sheet descending off of her. I am dimly aware of the resurrectionist stammering in elation as Mitsuko coughs violently several times, then several more. When the fit finally subsides, still leaning over, she looks up at me. I gaze into her intense, green eyes, and she coughs again, painfully, and finally asks, “E…Ethan?”
I smile as warmly as I have ever smiled, and say, “I am afraid not, my dear Mitsuko.”
Her face contorts and she vomits onto the ground, the water coming out with bile and decayed debris. I move the basin to her as she retches again and then just heaves, only stopping at great length. She begins sobbing now, in confusion and pain, and I grab her, holding her close, just letting her know I am there, and of that, if nothing else, she can be sure.
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