Silence was bliss, that’s what Sam always thought. Darkness was likewise. Minutes could last hours; hours lasting days, all inside a world of your own making. Wonder started creeping into Sam’s mind: Why was he still dreaming if he was dead? Was this what happened in the end, an endless cycle of dreams and thoughts? Before Sam could start to contemplate the life he had lived the darkness was interrupted with the sound of searing flesh. His eyes flipped open so hard and fast from the intense pain he thought they would pop out of his skull. His throat began tearing itself apart from the screams he had unknowingly been letting out. The moon was non-existing but there was a light coming from behind him, casting obscure flailing shadows against stone walls, like demons mocking his cries.
Soon, after what felt like hours of pain he could hear something else from over his left shoulder.
“Stop squirming or I’ll burn right through your chest!” retaliated a woman’s voice.
Sam tried his best to create words to fight the pain, any words at all would have been merited but all he could muster were damaged whines and mouse-like noises. The immense heat started to cool down as the light faded and he heard movement from behind him.
“I’ve seared your wound shut, that’s all I’m going to do for you but you need something to eat to get your strength back.”
Sam knew she wouldn’t know that he only needs magic to restore himself but was too drained from the treatment to explain anything. A spark flashed and a pit of fire came alight, stinging his eyes and forcing them shut once again. After several blinking episodes, Sam’s vision returned to be welcomed by a red-haired girl wearing dark fur boots with a matching dark fur jacket, paired with leather gloves and thick dark brown trousers. All her clothes seemed of a proper fashion, like from a stall or shop, unlike Sam’s various pelts poorly stitched together with leather and bone.
“I thought I was dead.” Uttered Sam, his eyes wandering around the cave where the brief strands of light reached. He saw no entrance or exit, all he could see was walls of damp rock, darkness and the woman who sat perched glaring in disgust at what she had saved. Sam knew why she was in such dismay of him but didn’t want to state the obvious, the woman had just saved his life after all.
“Who are you? If you don’t mind me asking.” Sam’s voice trying to stay calm even though the throbbing in his shoulder had started to grow.
The women’s eyes narrowed, as if judging the very fibres of the question he had asked. She turned her head and spat into the flames besides her watching the saliva sizzle into nothing. “My name is Elise.” She said coldly.
“It’s nice to meet you Elise” He said, deceptively cheery for a man who had just been burned alive. “My name-”
“I don’t care about your name.” Elise interrupted, anger raising in her voice. Her gaze focused on the fire.
“Right then, with the pleasantries evidently over can you untie me so I can leave here and get out of your hair?” Sam gestured to the leather straps wrapped around his wrists behind his back.
“I know what you are you sick freak.”
“And what might that be?”
“You practice spirit magic. Death magic. You feed off the lives of others to give you strength and then sustain your life! It’s disgusting.”
Sam hadn’t noticed until now how red with anger her face was. He looked to the ground at her feet. She was right after all, he did use spirit magic to survive. The use of the soul and life force of others to give the user power. Not quite a necromancy but to be called death magic wouldn’t be completely false. Spirit magic was a gift that had been shunned for millennia as obscure and vile, which soon died out long ago. But Sam knew, after what he had seen, that it was the only salvation in this world so he wouldn’t apologise for learning it.
“I may practice it but I do not live by it, I take what I can to survive. I saved your life with it, does that count for nothing?”
“If I had known you were going to do it with death magic I would never have asked you to help.”
“Then why would you save me again? Just to lecture me on the do’s and dont’s of magic? Grow up girl this isn’t the time or the place to ride off on your high horse. Now either untie me or kill me, I don’t care which but do one soon, my wrists are starting to hurt.” Sam tried his best to sound impatient, trying to assert dominance in this less than favourable situation.
“The only reason I saved you was because I was curious. I have questions that would irritate me if they went unanswered and I don’t think I’ll meet anyone like you for a long time.”
“Fine, I’ll only answer if you untie me though.”
“After. It’s only one question really: Why? Why would you want to turn yourself into this thing?”
“I’m still a man. We just have to do what we must to survive.”
“That’s a terrible answer.”
“Well it’s the one you’re getting so untie me.”
Elise glared more towards him before letting out a sigh and giving in. She stood and walked over, she wasn’t overly tall for a girl, an average height from what Sam could tell but her build was incomprehensible from her apparel. She crouched beside the rock the leather straps were tied around.
“I have another question.” She said while fiddling with the knot she had done, clearly a complex one to stop Sam from moving too much and get away or strike when she had her back turned. “You cried. When you took the Garrs’ soul.” The air the question left in its wake was stale and unnerving while Sam tried to piece together his answer; he showed little expressions even though it caught him off guard.
“A Garrs? I like that name for them.” He mumbled under his breath. He never thought to name them anything other than grotesque. “It’s hard to explain, really. When I absorb their spirit I gain their emotions, feelings and memories. Those creatures are full of fear and pain and hunger and confusion. Seeing anything with all those feelings mashed together is difficult.”
For a split second it looked as though Elise’s eyes weren’t filled with disgrace and hate but with sympathy, however, the expression didn’t last long. She stood and a light started to grow from within her hand, under the skin, as she let the magicka pour into it.
“Get up.” The strong tone demanded. “I’m taking you to the others, then we will decide what to do.”
Sam’s face felt empty, he wasn’t sure what was more terrifying, the glowing hand which he assumed had burned him, or that sentence. “Others? There are no others, there can’t be any other! I’ve been alone too long for there to be others!”
He stood fast and went to lunge at her throat, but his feet stuck together. She didn’t untie his feet, damn it! As he fell, his face was met by a knee and stars flashed behind his eyes. Before he could react, a hand gripped his throat and started to warm as light flittered under his chin.
“Come with me now or I’ll burn your head off.”
Sam looked through the darkness at the voice and nodded reluctantly before the light started to dissipate and cold crowded his body once more.