Chapter 86: Cultist
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The fight goes on like this for a while, the golem charging towards the thief who manages to easily dodges every single one of its heavy strikes and charges, the gigantic metal being is simply much too slow to strike her in any of its attempts, let alone catch her agile form which is darting around us like a mosquito on a summer’s evening. Every attack she lands on the golem leaves light scars in the metal body of the construct; every strike resounds out in a metal clanking and spark-casting screech that runs up my spine. Every squeak of the metal slicing against metal a reminder that it was meant for me.

 

  Honestly, the golem seems fine all in all. The few scratches and scars only add character as one might say, but none go deep enough to cause any significant damages. I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to get out of this one, but then again I suppose as long as I keep dodging and scampering from shoulder to shoulder I’ll be fine; assuming I can keep it up. That’s just me however, the gole-

 

  It roars again and lumbers forward in another senseless, feral charge trying to trample over the elf. But the poor guy just doesn’t seem to realize that he’s just too slow, you know? But every attempt, every failure just seems to make the golem angrier. Seems to make its next lunge a little more hasty, a little more intense. Several times we span the full length of the room in a sprint only to smash into a wall where he is stunned for a moment, while the thief takes the opportunity to attack us from behind like before.

 

  I realize all of the sudden what this is. This is a classic sub-boss pattern. I’m part of a boss-fight. I am the boss-fight. I feel kind of proud about that actually, though it would be easier if I wasn’t an inch from being crushed against a brick wall every ten seconds. The golem turns around again and together we stare at the thief-girl who stands before us in the middle of the room; her silhouette dramatically enveloped by the glow of the magma behind her on the opposite wall.

 

  My golem friend, growing furious at this song and dance roars another mechanical roar and charges forward. It takes all I have in me to just hang on as it barrels through the room. A second later I see the familiar pattern of the thief dodging and I expect her to run after us again in her next attempt. But she doesn’t. She just stands there in the middle of the room watching us leave.

 

Raising a single hand into the air, she waves to me.

 

Oh no.

 

  I turn to look forward in that second, just in time to see us smash into the wall. Just in time to see the red magma spurt all around us as the golem's feet sink into the liquid inferno, there is a sudden lurch and we drop entirely into the pool of magma on the south side of the room. You dummy!

 

In a quick, horrible second, I die. My tiny rat-body burnt away to a crisp.

 

The thing that is me, the first me, shoots up higher. Flying far into the void I know so well. That ethereal plane filled with nothing but me. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I feel like I was a rat for a long time just then. I feel like…

 

Oh. A somber thought strikes me.

 

  As I float in that darkness, unseeing and unfeeling, I have the image in mind. The image of the rat-body I just inhabited, of the original rat-soul scampering over the ice. Scampering past the eyes, the many eyes that are watching it now. The poor guy there not only once, but twice now; this time likely for good. Stuck in that horror show because of me.

 

I try not to think about it. Maybe Nichodemus will kill it before its eyes get eaten too? Yeah. Yeah. Maybe it can get out like that. Like we did before.

 

Silently I hope that, but I really don’t want to think about it anymore. I don’t want to think about that wet sound anymore, about the crawling meat.

 

Is that selfish of me?

 

Yes.

 

But that’s where we are, guy. Okay?

 

Dang. She really got me that time. Right into the magma, ugh. That hurt. I don’t think it hurt as bad as red-caps, it was pretty fast all in all, you know? But still. Burning to death in magma is a new one. I should be keeping a list of all the ways I’ve died. Might be a fun hobby, tell you what.

 

Anyways I-

 

The lurch comes and, whatever this thing I am is, shifts as I am dragged back down to the below; as I am submerged in some icy bath to once again reawaken and open my ey-

 

  The tables rattle around the room as everybody gets up to begin the ritual. The room full of my fellow compatriots, others members of the cause all rise up in good mood and heavy jubilation as I stand behind the bar and look as they gather in a circle. Their purple robes build a tight circle around the fire-elemental in the center of the room; the tiny flame creature beckoning them all to come closer. I look at Maischa, the man next to me who is also behind the counter. Oh boy. I know what this is.

 

Thinking quickly I come up with an excuse.

 

“Hey Maischa.”

 

He looks at me, polishing a glass with an old dish-towel.

 

“Do you ever get a random urge to barricade the door?”

 

“What?” he asks curiously. Damn, okay new plan.

 

“Ah. Nevermind. Hey, I’m gonna go take a leak.”

 

“Uh, sure. You don’t need to tell me that, Georg.”

 

I shrug and walk out from behind the bar, past the group still gathering. Apparently my name today is Georg, no E at the end. Just Georg.

 

Stamp. Clap. Stamp. Clap. It begins.

 

  I look over my shoulder at the cultists behind me beginning their dance and raise a finger to say something. Biting my tongue I drop my hand and walk out the door. It’s not like they’ll believe me anyways and if I stay here I’m just gonna get got. So. Uh. Yeah. You guys do your thing, I don’t really believe in all of the whole hedonistic resurrection rituals that we do here. But it’s what he would have wanted, you know? So we keep the tradition going.

 

I step outside the room and shut the door behind me, not thinking further about that. Sorry Maischa. Looking around the familiar hallway I wonder which way is safe for me to go. The hero-party is probably already he-

 

There is a scream off down from the right. Yup.

 

Turning left then, I go down the way I rolled the fire-elemental before and hurry-hurry, wondering where exactly I want to go?

 

But then I realize there is only one obvious answer and sprint down the hallway towards the secret room that I shouldn’t know about.


*~+---SPECIAL THANKS---+~*

Henry Morgan,  Shadowsmage, The Grey Mage, Spencer Seidel

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