Chapter 46: Nichodemus the Scholar
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That one really hurt. Ah. I can still feel their little claws tearing into me. Ripping and tearing into me. I hate red-caps. I float in the ether, my spider body now distant and far away from where my spirit now resides. I guess I’ll have to go back to that floor to find the stairs next chance I get. But I doubt I’ll spawn there twice in a row. That hasn’t been how it has worked this whole time so I assume nothing has changed in that regard. Ah. As I float there I feel an odd desire for something specific for someone without a body. I want to stretch. I feel like I just woke up and that my frame is stiff and rigid. Like my bones would pop in a satisfying way if I could just reach out and up and stretch from the tips of my toes.
But I have no body. I have no bones. There is no satisfaction in this part of my existence right now.

 

  I hope the thief-girl is safe. But I think so. Red-caps can’t climb trees and she was way up there. Assuming she still exists. I don’t know what the rules are, friend. If I die, what happens to the people in the time I was in? I guess they just go back, right? Go back to wherever they start when I respawn, like none of it ever happened. That’s how it’s always been, I think? So I suppose she’ll be fine. She’ll be fine.

  She is different though. Different from the others. I’m a fool, an idiot, dumb, I have problems with my attention and with my memory. But even I can see she is different. She knows too much. She doesn’t act like the others. Like the trash-mobs, like the other adventurers. Like the hero. I don’t think she likes me, which is understandable. But I can’t sum her up either. I don’t know what her deal is. She seems to recognize me though, to know me on sight even when I am something else. How?

How?

  She knew from the start when I was a drake. She knew it was me from the start when I was a spider-girl. Does that mean… I think back to our other encounters. When I was a skeleton. A minotaur. Did she know then too? Did she… wait. Wait. Did she ruin my swordsman duel with the hero on purpose? If I had fists I would clench them. That wound is still fresh in my pride. I really, really wanted to fight him one on one, guy. No. No. Let it go. That’s in the past. It’s not healthy to carry old grudges with you, right? I suppose it never really happened either, if the whole going back in time theory stands so… hmm. I’m surprised I still remember that. My memory has been sharper since I got my menu.

  Truth be told I sometimes wonder if I’m built for the trash-mob life, friend. I don’t like hurting people. I don’t like being hurt. I guess I’m kind of a coward if I think about it like that actually. Dark lord forgive me. I guess all I know about her right now is that she wants to kill me. I think she might remember her life between respawns. I think she might be like me in that sense. Like the fairy of the fountain. I think she knows. I saw it in her eyes. That tiredness. That want for sleep but the active resistance to it, like my own. No rest for the wicked, right? Has she been here as long as I have? It’s hard to say. If so. Why her? Why does she remember if the others don’t? Why do I remember if nobody else does? The fairy?
I can’t say.

  If she remembers, I hope she’ll go easy on me next time. I feel like I’ve earned a break. Like she owes me one. But I suppose that’s just how I see it. Her hair was nice though, it was really soft. She could maybe use a bath, but I guess we all can so that’s fair enough.

I float.

  I should have killed another red-cap. At least I would have gotten that level up. Oh well, next time. Next time. I feel like I’m doing good though. I really nailed her with that spear. I guess it was a surprise attack, a bit of a lucky hit. But still. I think I can hold my own against her, at least. Is she not as strong as the others? Or am I just becoming strong? I’ve been holding out against them decently enough every time we fight. I mean, I always lose but still. It’s never a total wash anymore, so that’s nice, right?

Oh well. We’ll figure it ou-

The lurch, the pulse of energy rippling through the shapeless entity that I am lets me know that it’s time. My whole feels like I am being dunked into a bath of icy water. It’s col-

  I open my eyes and stare out over the dusty, clammy stone floor I lay on. I see a thin, meatless hand before me. Bare. Vacant spiderwebs fill the gap between my time-stained ligaments. Particles of dust fill the stagnant air, floating from brick wall to brick wall of the final labyrinth. I groan. Here again? Boooring. As I do so, a quiet, whistling shriek leaves my mouth instead. The only noise I can make in this body. I hear the clanking of my bones rattling over the floor, rising up from the position I am laying in. For some reason I was down on the ground? Weird for a skeleton, we’re usually quite the active bunch. Very sporty people, those skeletons.

  Slowly, rattling and shaking like an old man I rise up to my feet and look down, down at my long purple robe covered in odd tatters and holes. I’m a skeleton caster. The robe is old. Really old. I like it though, it reminds me of my cape from back then when I was a skeleton last time. But it’s not like those robes of the other skeleton casters. They never have this color of cloth. My bones as well. This body isn’t just old, it’s ancient actually. I close my fingers, testing my dexterity. They close, but there is a significant delay for a moment until they move like I want them to. Even as a skeleton, old age can hamper you, friend. Remember to take care of your joints, you’ll need them for a while. I like the robe though, I examine it carefully. The faded purple material covered in a golden thread that weaves through it, creating a mesh of crudely geometric depictions. Fancy stuff. Something about this feels… familiar. Hmm. I tap the top of my skull with my finger, sending out a gentle ‘thunk’ ‘thunk’ that bounds off of the stone around me as I think.

  Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? Like something that has happened before is happening again? Hmm.
I look around with my new body. The first thing I notice is that my mind is clear. Clean. No poison potion making me nauseous. No angst or adrenaline fueling a hunger. No anger, rage. Despair. Fear. I am calm and I feel a sort of… hmm… how do I put this… I feel an old man's mischievousness, like the kind of childishness that only the elderly have access to. The feeling that you’re allowed to have fun, because we’re all gonna die eventually anyways, right? It’s kind of nice, actually. Relieving. My shoulders feel really light. This is a nice body, I think. A little old, but who of us isn’t?

  I roll my shoulders back and stretch hoping for a pop, but nothing gives way. I suppose nothing could. I don’t think I can make it up to the forest in time with this old rickety shell, so… I wonder what I’ll do today instead?

  Wait a minute. I open my menu and look at the refreshed window pane of the first panel. I’m not sure what I expect to see, but… I stop and look at the thing floating before me.

I can read human. I can read this. Wait. Isn’t this the human body I made my cape from?


1) *Megalovania intensifies*

2) Ooh, you thought purple-robed skeleton was just a loose thread, didn't you? But it was me! Dio!

3) That's a dapper looking menu, cleans up nice doesn't it?

4) We've more or less hit 100k words! This is by far the longest thing I have ever written and the support has been mind-boggling for someone who has never had any of their work seen, so thank you all very, very much for reading and for your kind words and helpful advice! I appreciate it so much!

 

*~+---SPECIAL THANKS (MY VERY FIRST PATRON EVER!)---+~*

HENRY MORGAN

(I'll get started on writing advance chapters right now!)

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