Looking down at my garb a second time I realize that it is exactly that. This is the skeleton I looted when I was an undead swordsman last time. This is the same robe I made my cape out of that time. Woah. Freaky. This isn’t a normal spawn. I’ve never seen this guy before, I think? Is this a rare-spawn? Can I be a rare-spawn? I don’t think I’ve ever been a rare-spawn before. Have I? Or is this not that? Is this something else?
Looking back to the menu I observe my stats, reading them for the first time clearly. The menu looks so clean so… put together. There are still a few frays and oddities but for the most part it’s pristine. It reminds me of the hero’s menu. Just a solid pane of unwavering, polished glass. Wonder why demon-miasma’s menu is purple though. Don't the hero and his party all have gold menus? I run my bony finger along the surface expecting to feel the texture of the material. But I don’t have any nerves I realize as I stroke along the pane. So these are my stats, huh?
They look different than I remember. Some of the numbers are different from what I remember from… uh… was I a minotaur? Or… was it my mimic life? I scratch my head, my bony fingers rubbing along my skull carving a line through the thick coating of dust settled onto it. It’s all blurring together honestly. Well, you know what I mean. So I think I said before my stats change when I change body, now I know for sure that that’s the case looking at this. There’s no other way to see it as far as I can tell. Wait. Wait… Didn’t I raise one of my stats once, what happened to that? Is it just gone now? Uf, that’s rough if true. I’ll have to watch that on my next level-up. Who exactly is this body?
Nichodemus. Nice name, guy. Nichodemus… Nichodemus… I think the name a few times, letting it roll off of my metaphorical tongue. A real name. Not some title, or trash-mob designation. Not in goblin croaking either. No, a real human name. Neat. Who are you, friend? What are your secrets? Why are you so snazzily dressed? Raising my arms to the side I do a pirouette, spinning around once to let my beautiful robe dangle around me. I don’t exactly stick the landing, my body bending over forward and instinctively grabbing my back from the sudden movement as if I had thrown it out. I expect to feel a pain, but nothing comes. The robe is a little worse for the wear and the name is a mouthful. But they’re both mine now. Mine. The thought makes me happy.
Wait. What’s the hero’s name? Humans all have names, don’t they? I think back to all the garbled shouts of the adventurer’s human words that I can remember from my past lives, trying to think if there are any constants. Any jumble of sounds that seems to happen around not just him, the hero, but the rest of his party as well. But after a minute of dwindling on it, nothing comes to mind. Nothing but… a wave. A wave of nostalgia, of faces I can’t quite place, human, of sounds and smells and the touch of distant memories not quite there anymore. The world and life of Nichodemus coming to me, coating me like a purifying rain. Filling me with thoughts, feelings, sadness, desperation, anger, hope. Also a little back pain.
Why are we so gloomy, Nichodemus? I can feel your memories, your emotions. So why won’t you let me see them? Let me understand them? I feel odd. I don’t feel like a skeleton caster or like any other normal skeleton. I feel more… I don’t know. More reserved. Not as fun. Nichodemus was a quiet guy apparently, very private. He’s not really here anymore I think, it’s mostly just me inside this shell. But there is a part of him still lingering, still holding on. A single string of his soul still tied around the bones, binding them to his eternal self, his soul. I can feel it tickle me as it blows in whatever unseen cosmic winds shift it into motion inside of us. Wherever he is now, the rest of him, I can’t say. The other side.
I swipe away my menu and look at my dusty hands, pulling away the thick cobwebs out from between my fingers, I flex my old bones and look around. So what am I going to do today? I guess I should just… I dunno… start walking? Yeah. Yeah. I’ll do that.
Shifting around I look around the labyrinth, wondering where it is I’ll go. I don’t remember the labyrinth at all so I’ll just uh… go this way. Yeah.
As I shuffle down the long corridors of the labyrinth I notice my posture seems to shift. I don’t walk quite like a normal skeleton. My hands always seem to find their place behind me, clasping another beneath the small of my back. My steps are slow and methodical, almost… dignified like those of a rector. I feel like some old monk. I guess the menu said old Nichy boy was a scholar so… wait. What’s a scholar?
I think about all the human variants I know, about the make-up of the hero-party. None of them seem to quite fit the role I am playing now. Hmm. Raising my fingers forward, undoing their clasp for a moment, I hold my hand out before me and feel it. The mana running through my old bones. A lot of it. It’s… not like when I’m a dark-fairy or a goblin-caster. It’s more… hmm… My left still behind my back, my right hand held forward with my bony palm up and my fingers curled closed, I feel it quelling. Surging as it leaks out filling my grip and leaking. Dripping. A warmth. Radiant and pure water splatters down to the ground, staining it like a tri-color paint. My arm shakes and I feel it grow stronger, heavier as the trickle seeping through my bones turns into a stream. Uncurling my fingers I let the wave of white magic loose. In an instant the whole space around me is filled with a light, with a heat. An intensity beyond that of anything I have ever felt of the priestess’ white magic. A burn.
Is this what a scholar is? A white-magic practitioner? I scratch my head, searching his memories, the few he has decided to let me see. Go to sleep Nichodemus, I got this. No, scholars aren’t so specialized. So… narrow minded. I stand upright and tall, straightening my old bones to observe my students and to allow them to see my own determined demeanor. But as I look around the empty, white-stained labyrinth I realize that’s nonsense. I don’t have any students anymore. That was a long time ago. I’m dead now. All because of-
I shake my head, getting Nichodemus out of there. I won’t let the inner me lose control so easily again, I think to myself as I remember the thief-girl. As I remember the brutality of the creature I became in that moment. As I remember the red. I think I’m starting to hate red, friend. But purple. I look down to my ancient robe. I like purple.
Ah… you know what I’d like to do? I’d like to…
I want to see him.
I think for a moment about the sudden desire. Who do I want to see? I don’t know anybody here.
I want to see him. I need to see for myself.
Oh. I realize now the strange, foreign want in my heart. In my head.
I look around the darkness in which there is just me and Nichodemus. It’s a long way to the hero’s grave from here and I don’t know if we have the time, friend. Besides, he isn’t there anymore. He’s gone. He left. Lucky guy.
But I know that doesn’t matter. He still wants to see him. I feel my bones clenching, my fist clenching. It isn’t me doing it.
Fine. Fine! Get off my back, old man. We’ll go to the hero’s grave.
I scratch my head. I guess there was more of him left inside this body than I had thought.
Now if only I could remember how to get there from inside the final-labyrinth.
Just open the map and look there for the path out.
Oh right, I can do that I realize as I listen to the voice sharing my thoughts.