“What is in this?” Kali examined her half-eaten muffin, eyes wide in surprise. “I don’t think I have ever had anything in my life that was close.”
“Mocha, but I’m not sure about the rest.” Kyrik said, having already finished his about two minutes ago and watching Kali slowly devour hers. When she ate, it strongly reminded him of an avian, with pecks as opposed to bites.
With it being near closing time, the two had the place to themselves. The shriker Zenith’s was named after was in the back, muttering something under his breath about one of his employees. Whether it was good or bad, Kyrik couldn’t discern. The old shriker was usually kind and quiet, so to hear him so chatty was unexpected.
Kyrik fidgeted slightly at the thought of Zenith’s age. One of these days, his time would be up. No one else would be able to replace him. Although they didn’t talk much or could be considered anywhere near close, Kyrik felt attached to him as much as the bakery in general. He’d have to get the recipe one day.
For now, he was able to distract himself with Kali in the booth near the back.
“I can see why you are addicted.” Kali took another peck. “But, I don’t think I can eat this all the time. It is too sweet.”
“They can be, yeah.” Kyrik agreed. “But I like to come here to study. Owner doesn’t mind; he knows who I am.”
“I can understand that.” Kali looked outside. “It’s nice here. Quiet.”
“It is!” Kyrik nodded enthusiastically. “But, I don’t know if you want to go to the library.” He said quietly. “We keep throwing a lot at you.”
“I don’t mind.” Kali replied reassuringly. “I enjoy learning.”
“We still need to find you a place to stay.” Kyrik jolted. “I completely forgot.”
“I figured I would be staying with you.”
“I mean, that’s a possibility. But I didn’t know if you wanted privacy.”
“I don’t mind for now. I know you bear no ill will.”
“Speaking of,” Kyrik leaned forward over the hard wood table. “How did you know we weren’t going to lock you up or lying? Did you read our minds?”
Kali shifted uncomfortably. “I…hate to admit, but I briefly scanned yours.” Kali answered with guilt. “It was more to detect your intentions, and surface thoughts only. I sensed your genuine concern and empathy. However, during my sleep, I adopted your language by reading the minds of those around me and imprinting it into my mind. Make no mistake, I will not make a habit of this – and haven’t attempted since – but I needed to ensure my personal safety and to understand you.”
“I understand.” Kyrik smiled brightly. “Although, that does remind me I need to work on my mental training…”
“I can assist with that, if you like. I just hope your walls won’t be as spiked as Methir’s.” She added jokingly.
Kyrik frowned. Not at how she attempted to read Methir’s thoughts; he expected that after her confession. However, her wording confused him. Mental barriers don’t usually react that strongly to surface-level intrusions.
“Kali, please be honest with me on this.” Kyrik spoke lower. “Did you lie when you said you heard everyone’s voice?”
Kali looked away again. “I…did not, as I said earlier, but I played up the truth. The rebuff I got from Methir was what caused the pain.”
“Huh.” Kyrik leaned back, biting his lip. “I guess she must be under extreme stress to react that way. You saw how she is.”
“Didn’t you say something is going on?” Kali asked.
“…Yeah, I think it’s time I tell you.” Kyrik got up and threw away his trash, saying goodbye to Zenith on his way out.
As he stepped outside, a surge of reaper energy burst from the back of his mind, nearly flooring him. Stumbling and grabbing onto the wall of Zenith’s, Kyrik opened his jaw a few times as the headache that brewed threatened to knock him out.
Someone didn’t die; no bells rung. Still, the consciousness screamed in what felt like sheer rage. Like it was grotesquely offended by something. The feeling was so powerful and overwhelming, a physical change took place as opposed to mental.
Floating before Kyrik was something he hadn’t used in a long, long time. Gleaming in the fading sunlight, a scythe hovered before him. Ancient writing etched onto the silvery blade which came from the maw of a golden serpent. A long brown handle, nearly as big as Jirmen’s staff, pulsated with life magic like a heartbeat.
“Are you alright?” Kali gently touched his shoulders. “I did not need to read your mind to feel that.”
“Remember how I said my powers created a consciousness of its own?” Kyrik panted heavily. “Well, you’re looking at the physical manifestation of it.” He pointed at the scythe.
“…Where?” Kali asked worriedly.
Kyrik examined the floating scythe, probing with his will and finding it invisible to everyone but him.
“Oh. It’s a scythe, but it decided to make itself invisible. Maybe I can convince it to let you see; I know Jirmen and Methir can…”
Before Kyrik spoke another word, the scythe spun in the air and took to the skies. With a frustrated huff, Kyrik flew after it, Kali right behind.
His other side wouldn’t answer Kyrik’s questions. Whatever upset it must’ve seriously personally offended it. With it leading Kyrik toward the sight, it was all but the equivalent of someone stomping off violently. Although still bound to Kyrik, he was about to take no chances by leaving the scythe to zoom off on its own.
To the garden they went, where Kyrik sensed Jirmen. Panic flooded his mind before calming; if he sensed the archmage, there wasn’t any reason for alarm. He had to calm. Whatever was coming needed him to be.
The lycon came into view, surrounded by Warlocks who set up a crime scene. Kyrik’s hearts dropped; another body!? How!? The wards here were as strong as anywhere else!
The scythe hovered over the body, Kyrik landing hear it. The young dragon’s eyes nearly bulged from his mask, jaw dropping slightly. Kali dropped beside him, mirroring much of his reaction. Kyrik couldn’t help but get closer, muttering under his breath. This body…it was Zenith’s.
“Kyrik, step away from the body.” Jirmen ordered.
“No.” Kyrik shook his head. “This isn’t right. I was just at his shop; he was alive.”
“What?” Jirmen nearly shouted.
“I would have known if he was dead, Jirmen. I can’t sense anything off this body.” Kyrik pointed at it.
“I don’t think your reaper powers would have spanned the city…” Jirmen sent a magical probe into the body with his staff.
“The scythe materialized. It’s what led me here.” Kyrik indicated to it, speaking quietly.
“I was about to ask you about that.” Jirmen muttered back. He nearly dropped his staff after the reading came back. “You’re right; this isn’t a body. It’s a flesh golem.”
Kyrik snapped his head back to the body, noting the lack of blood from the wound. The same bone protruded from the back, in an almost identical location to the previous victim’s. Unlike him, no soul energy emanated from the corpse. There was nothing to go off.
If anything, dozens of more questions were raised.
“No, that’s impossible.” Kyrik said. “Flesh golems are stitched together horrors. This looks more like a Doppelganger.”
“Doppelgangers have soul fragments in them. This does not.” Jirmen scowled. “Somehow, someone created a life-like flesh golem.”
“But why?” Kyrik turned back to the golem. “Why Zenith? Why a golem?”
“I don’t know, but I think they are trying to make it look like two different crimes.” Jirmen flicked an eye to Kali, who hadn’t stopped staring at the body. “Take her away and tell her what is going on if you haven’t already.”
Kyrik did so with some reluctance, wanting to investigate the golem more. But, poor Kali would still be traumatized and may be a target if someone were to sneak up on them. Taking her down one of the paths and sitting her down, he stared sympathetically.
“Is this what was going on?” Kali asked, breaking out of her shock.
“Yeah.” Kyrik confirmed sadly, quickly explaining what transpired. “I should have told you earlier, but I didn’t want to throw something like this at you the instant you woke up.”
“I thank you for considering my feelings, but please do not hide something like this from me.” Kali gave him an adamant look before sighing. “I assume you have seen many bodies in your life? There is no other explanation for you being more surprised at the golem part rather than the body.”
“I have to.” Kyrik sat next to her. “With the powers I hold, I am drawn to death. Whenever necromancy is practiced, I can usually sense it. When someone dies, my other half is alerted. Even if I am not consciously aware, I still end up wandering toward a body.”
“It is, but it’s also life.” Kyrik tapped his scythe on the ground. From the way Kali’s eyes bounced up and down, she must be able to see the scythe now. To anyone else, it looked like he was simply moving his claw.
“Do you get tired of it?” Kali spoke again after a small period.
“Of course I do.” Kyrik admitted. “And I have to live with the fact that I can’t die. Meaning I’m going to outlive everyone. My body will change, but I’ll live.”
“But that won’t be for a while, yes?”
“Yeah, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think about it a lot.” Kyrik turned his head toward the ground. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep my promises if I live too long.”
“May I ask what they are?”
Kyrik saw no reason to hide it. At this point, she was in the same boat as he was five years ago.
“I made a promise to always use my powers to protect those I can. Never to fall to temptation, no matter how just the cause may seem. Defend life from whoever may threaten it, no matter who they are. That kind of stuff.” Kyrik pulled back the scythe, letting the handle rest on his shoulder. “The second promise is by far the most important, as the first goes without saying. It’s to never change who I am, no matter how much I do on the outside. To always see the best in others and to do whatever I can to ensure their safety or, if not, to always be there so they don’t face death alone.”
“Are the changes that drastic?”
“They can be.”
“Have you already Reincarnated before?”
Kyrik smirked. “Does it really matter?”
“No, but I was just curious.”
Kyrik chuckled, getting to all fours and stretching. “Come, lets find you a place to stay. I’m sure you still need to recover from the shock.”