Mors Funebris Chapter 2 Part 7
It had been a long, and stressful two weeks for Corporal Tia since the ‘Automaton Incident’. As expected when she and Jinks’ had shown up at the Infirmary, their injuries had been quickly and efficiently dealt with by the Healing-Majin therein.
To the Healing-Majin’s dismay, Arawn’s injuries had proven to be extraordinarily recalcitrant in their easing. This was because there had proven to be not a single spell, potion, or medicine anywhere on hand in that institution, that was capable of either healing him or relieving his pain from those injuries.
The Director of the Infirmary’s frustration with Arawn’s case had grown by leaps and bounds as the days flew by. Utilizing her best diplomatic skills she’d creatively managed to invite in a dozen well regarded Healing Mages from a wide range of disciplines. To their collective shock, they all failed to improve his condition.
Afterwards the increasingly desperate Director, had somehow cajoled a half-dozen priests from an equal number of Gods, to try their pious hand at healing him. One of those priests had boasted that ‘she was so good at healing, she practically had the ability to resurrect the dead.’
She, and they too failed.
To no one’s surprise, it hadn’t taken Tia too many attempts to convince the Director to allow Arawn to be discharged. With any other patient, the Director would’ve refused outright the notion of letting anything less than a fully healed patient out of her control. Her willingness to allow Arawn egress came about due to his ever increasing crabbiness.
Alas, Arawn had proven himself to be one of the more difficult patients for the medical staff to deal with in some time. As a result of his pain and his ever-increasing level of churlishness, it’d been suggested on more than one occasion, that he be forcefully married to a Bugbear Mamono.
The morning after he’d been discharged; found Tia entering Arawn’s barrack building with something akin to a hesitant hopefulness in her both of her hearts. She was hoping that his being in the familiar setting of his apartment, would prove to be a balm to his ire.
That hope of hers, was quickly dashed, when she heard him shouting at someone, again. The sound of his shouting made her come to a rapid halt as she began to hiss loudly in frustration.
“Go Away!” Tia heard him scream then, as his voice echoed down the hallway and into her ears. But even as angry as he was then, she also detected a tremor of desperation in his voice. Unknown to her, it was sleep deprivation desperation.
This sleep deprivation was due to several factors. The pain of his original injuries, the pain from suffering the surgeries necessary to stitch him back together, and an ever increasing stress caused by the antics of an obnoxious Ghost-cat.
‘Two hundred and eighty-three stitches for the first surgery.’ Tia reminded herself in that moment, as she stood outside his apartment door as she attempted to tamp down her temper.
‘They even approached me to supply them with some of my silk for those stitches.’ She reminded herself, pursing her lips at the memory.
As she entered through the open door, left that way to capture the morning’s cooling breeze, Tia saw that Arawn was standing shakily upright in the living room supported by his holding onto a nearby chair with his one good arm. She frowned in consternation when she also remembered that his other arm was burned into uselessness, as it hung in a sling.
It was then that Tia noticed who it was that he’d been shouting at: Nurse Elspeth, the Shoggoth-Nurse assigned to care for him. As Tia had seen when she’d entered Arawn’s apartment, Elspeth sported at least a dozen extra eyes that normally would stare at everything in general and then close unexpectedly, leaving behind a seamless surface.
This time however, instead of staring all of those eyes shed a copious quantity of tears as a result of Arawn’s jagged tongue. Seeing those tears and their cause Tia felt the fires of her anger nova-hot as a result.
“ARAWN!” Tia shouted angrily, as she restrained an intense desire to throttle him. Tia was then somewhat mollified to see that she’d managed to get him to stop shouting. “What is your problem this time?!” she demanded.
“Mentor?” Arawn replied in surprise, as he blinked in confusion both at her sudden appearance and her vehemence.
“What are you,…?” he began, but he was immediately interrupted when Tia spoke once more.
“BE QUIET YOU!” she shouted again, as she pointed a fur covered finger in his face. She then noticed that she’d yelled loudly enough to cause Elspeth to back away from her. But Tia kept her attention focused on Arawn. “I have listened to you and your belly aching quite long enough!”
“Mmmm,…” Arawn almost spoke again, but then stopped when he noticed that Tia had become angry enough to involuntarily extend her venom teeth.
‘Perhaps now would be a good time to follow your Mentor’s advice and remain silent. (5)’ Quintus suggested.
Arawn chose to forgo a verbal reply to Quintus, though he did send back a withering blast of annoyance.
Then, working to get his own anger under control, he closed his eyes and firmly shut his mouth to ward off any further untoward comments. When Tia saw him doing that, she calmed down just the tiniest bit.
‘Relax Tia, he’s been in a lot of pain and it’s only natural for him to be snappy. You’d be that way too.’ Tia thought to herself, as she allowed her own breathing to calm as she shifted her attention over to take in Elspeth and her tears.
‘But even that doesn’t excuse his behavior with those who’ve been assigned to take care of him.’ She decided.
“Elspeth? Are you all right?” Tia asked, as she reached out a friendly hand to the Nurse/Shoggoth.
In response, Elspeth turned her yellow-iris eyes to face Tia full on, yet she couldn’t quite meet her gaze as she was too busy blinking away the tears from all of her eyes. She opened her mouth to say something, but after taking a moment to glance at Arawn, she chose to keep silent as she kept her arms folded resentfully across her chest.
Tia took that moment to look Elspeth over fully. To her eyes, she seemed much akin to the standard Shoggoth form that Tia had encountered before: a slime-like monster girl with a set of eye-pleasing feminine curves. Elspeth stood approximately two meters tall and was adorned with a rich lavender skin. The surface of which was adorned with many yellow eyes that held a black pupil and sclera. There, the similarities between Elspeth and her sisters ended.
Unlike every other Shoggoth who sported a conical form from the waist down, Sometime during her life, Elspeth had mastered the ability to appear almost totally human. This meant that she’d been able to craft herself a pair of legs that ended in a pair of shoe-clad feet.
Additionally, she was free of the usual ‘shoggoth-drip’ that plagued every other one of her kind. Which was a definite plus for her chosen profession.
Also, Elspeth had long ago learned how to reproduce a crown of flaming red hair. Currently, that ‘hair’ of hers was tied up into a conservative bun perched on the crest of her head. Such severity matched her Nurses’ uniform.
“Arawn?” Tia hissed suddenly, Arawn opened his eyes in response and resentfully matched her gaze.
“What is wrong with you this time?” she demanded. After several seconds of patient silence on her part he began to speak.
“I do not,…” he paused, “have need of her services!” he growled in consternation, while he let go of the table chair long enough to wave a hand at Elspeth. When he did, he then started to quiver as if he were about to fall. Noticing it, he immediately grabbed ahold of the chair that had been supporting him a second ago.
Tia’s attention was diverted, when she noticed that Elspeth had automatically reached out to support him. Which caused Tia to smile inwardly at her professionalism. As she stepped closer to the two of them, she addressed Arawn fully.
“And by whose diagnosis do you come by that conclusion?” Tia asked him pointedly. In response he then shot his head around to glare at her. Or he would’ve glared, if that sudden spasm of pain caused by his sudden movement hadn’t prevented it. Instead, he gave out a gasp of pain and stumbled against the chair and began to pant. With a look of concern on her face, Elspeth reached out hesitantly to him again, still determined to aid her unappreciative patient.
“Arawn,” Tia began, feeling somewhat sympathetic for him, “Elspeth is the nurse assigned to you. Let her help you.” She said quietly, trying her best to be reasonable.
“I do not want her help!” Arawn shot back painfully, in between pants. To which Elspeth’s look of concern, was replaced by one of an insulted hurt. Noticing it, Tia began to speak but was interrupted by the Shoggoth Nurse.
“I’m sorry that you don’t care for my kind, Majin Arawn!” Elspeth shouted shrilly, as her purplish form quivered with her anger, “But I’m the one who’s assigned to you. So get over your hatreds, and allow me to do my job in the here and now!” she said vehemently as she reached out to him once more.
“I DO NOT HATE YOU!” he shouted back at her with a rasp, as he lifted his head to glare at her and waved a hand to ward her away. “I am trying to,…” he continued, and then sagged as he began to breathe deeply.
“Trying to what?” Elspeth demanded indignantly, her mouth set to a frown as she insistently placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Protect you!” Arawn gasped finally, trying to draw away from her.
“Protect me?!” Elspeth shouted sarcastically back. “From what? Your acid tongue?” she demanded.
“Wait!” Tia yelled loudly then, getting both of their attention.
“I think I know what’s going on here.” She continued. “Give me a second Elspeth, and I’ll explain in more detail to you later. Right Now!” Tia spoke commandingly as she turned her attention to Arawn. Elspeth backed herself away.
“Arawn? What is your motivation for getting out of bed?” she began.
“Water!” he rasped, Tia looked at him questioningly. “Thirsty!” he barked.
“That’s it?!” Tia almost shouted back her eyes narrowing in suspicion, but she then forced herself to speak quietly so as to prevent an escalation.
“Very well then Arawn, from this moment onward I order that you allow yourself to be ‘nursed’ by Elspeth, and to do so quietly. Do I make myself clear?” Tia stated firmly to Arawn then. His only reply at first, was to glare resentfully back at her, and after a moment of staring at each other, he was the first to look away. He nodded his head once wearily.
Within a short amount of time, Arawn allowed himself to be seated at his living room couch, to slowly sip at the cup of water that Elspeth had provided for him.
Taking the Nurse aside, Tia began to explain what she thought Arawn’s motivation was for making her life so difficult.
“So what is his problem?” Elspeth demanded archly, her arms firmly at her sides, most of her eyes boring into all of Tia’s.
“It’s not that he’s prejudiced against Shoggoth.” Tia began, as she observed the nurse’s indignant mien.
“Really? He certainly gave me that impression!” Elspeth shot back, her head eyes boring into Arawn for a moment.
“On the contrary, I’d be willing to guess that he’s more concerned with harming you.” Tia replied.
“What is that supposed to mean?” Elspeth’s eyes flared open with perplexion.
“It means that,…” Tia began and then stopped, trying to find a way to explain, and failing.
“Look, do you see this apartment?” Tia asked, waving her arms around her to indicate Arawn’s rooms. Confused, Elspeth looked around for a moment.
“How big is it?” Tia asked.
“It’s the standard for a married couple’s apartment. What of it?” Elspeth demanded.
“And yet Arawn doesn’t have a mate, does he?”
“Ummm, no. He doesn’t.” Elspeth replied doubtfully, looking back at Arawn with a raised eyebrow. “Why does he have such an apartment all to himself?” She asked.
“He was supposed to arrive with a mate, named Takana. She is a Shoggoth Medical Doctor.” Tia explained.
“Oh!” Elspeth replied in surprise once Tia had finished. “I’ve heard of her! I’d been looking forward to working with a Sister! It’s rare for another Shoggoth to be more than just a Maid.” She stopped and thought about it for a second.
“So, he was the one she’d been mated with?” she asked, turning and looking at Arawn in a different light.
“Affirmative.” Arawn spoke up then, still not looking at either the Shoggoth or the Jumping Spider.
“So why hasn’t she arrived yet?” Elspeth asked Toa.
“Because of me.” Arawn interjected. “I harmed her.”
“What?!” Elspeth replied alarmed, as she glared menacingly at him. “What did you do to her?!” she demanded forcefully
“I do not know what precisely I did.” He whispered, just barely within Tia’s hearing.
“Would that I could know, so as to be able to do something about it!” he replied, looking up at Elspeth mournfully. Tia saw that Elspeth seemed about ready to say something else, but instead she closed her mouth and pondered his words.
“Wait,” she said finally, “This is why you’ve been acting so dreadfully to me right now, isn’t it?” she asked. “You’re afraid of doing to me, whatever it is you did to Takana?” she stated. Arawn looked at her for a moment and then looked away with a quick nod.
Elspeth’s look of angry outrage then melted into a relaxed thoughtful frown as she began to speak again.
“You were thinking of me and my well-being first.” She whispered, as her eyes softened.
Even then Arawn still refused to meet her eyes. Elspeth smiled at him then. “I envy Takana.” She finished.
“Do not!” Arawn barked as he glared at her through his eyebrows. “The last I had heard of her, she was left in a bowl at Royal Makai unable to form so much as a single eye; she’d lost so much of her elasticity then.” He growled. Tia noticed then that Arawn’s words had the effect of causing Elsepth to back away from him in shock.
“THAT!” he began, “is how much of a danger I am to you!” he rasped. But, before Tia or Elspeth could tender a reply, another person’s voice called out.
“That still remains to be seen.” Said the new person commandingly. Arawn, Elspeth, and Tia all turned to see the source of that voice. Corporal Tia spoke first.
“Major Calliope!” Tia half-shouted in surprise then.
“To what do we owe the pleasure of your company?” she asked the Dark Mage, who as usual was just barely dressed. Atop her loosely haired head, she sported a wide brimmed purple hat that did well to shield her from the heat of Cynosure’s summer sun.
But, she also wore the standard Saree dress that so many of the Cynosure ladies did. This translucent garment didn’t do much to hide her ample physical charms, which was probably the point. Over her shoulder and along her back she wore the standard issue Dark Mage satchel.
“Greetings Corporal Tia.” Calliope replied with a nod, and to Nurse Elspeth as well. She then finally fixed her attention to Arawn.
“I am sorry to report Arawn, but General Scathach has once again denied your request.” She stated sadly then, shaking her head slightly.
“Damnatus!” Arawn replied aloud angrily. Then he muttered to himself, “Does our Commanding Officer intentionally spill her better sense every time she removes her head?!”. Calliope’s only reply was to smile bemusedly and look away.
“What?” Tia demanded, looking between Arawn and Calliope. “Are you two talking about?”
“Let me explain!” Calliope stated patiently as she raised a questioning eyebrow at Arawn, asking for permission. After he nodded his acquiescence she then turned and faced Tia.
“What we are referring to,” Calliope began hesitantly as she looked around herself momentarily almost as if she were afraid of speaking aloud. ”is that Arawn needs permission to perform a specialized Invocation. It is known as, the Yamanaraka.” She whispered hoarsely, and then shuddered involuntarily.
As soon as Tia heard the name, she blanched as she felt a chill go up every one of her legs. Looking around, she noticed that Elspeth had flinched as well, Tia found herself growing alarmed by the group’s reaction.
“What is the,…” Tia began as she tried to repeat Calliope’s words, “Yam,…Yama…” and then she stopped in confusion when she found that she couldn’t make herself say it. Despite the fact that Calliope had spoken it clearly only a few seconds ago.
“What the?” she asked, perplexed at this sudden inability to speak. Looking around she noticed that Elspeth had seemingly drawn into herself, akin to a sea anemone. Tia couldn’t help but notice that Calliope’s skin had paled almost to a grey tinged white. Only Arawn seemed to be the only one unaffected by its utterance.
“It,’ Arawn began solidly, gaining everyone’s attention, “Is the one sole healing magic that will prove efficacious in my recovery.” He finished, lowering his head down to his chest wearily.
“If it can do that?” Tia demanded indignantly then, “Then why would you even need to bother with permission?!”
“Because it is an Ancient Magic, a Fell Magic.” Elspeth piped up as she turned herself away. Calliope looked thoughtfully at her when she did.
“I still don’t understand!” Tia replied, still confused.
“Arawn, if you would?” Calliope asked him. Arawn nodded. “I will leave him to explain it to you. I’ve just had a sudden inspiration. If you will excuse me, I will need to consult with Nurse Elspeth momentarily.” She explained, as she led Elspeth further into Arawn’s apartment rooms for a spot of privacy. Tia then turned to Arawn to wait for his explanation.
“Why didn’t you tell me that such a Magic was even available?’ Tia demanded angrily then, her fur standing up in outrage. “If you knew it existed, why did you keep it from me?” She hissed. His answer, shocked her.
“Because Tia, it is one of the few forms of Magic that the Great Maou has forbidden.” He replied, looking up at her through his eyebrows.
“What?” was all that she could say, as she settled herself into a crouch, all of her eyes blinking uncomprehendingly at him.
“But if it can heal you, then why would she forbid it?!” she demanded after a second, spreading her hands apart, palms up questioningly.
“For starters, because it is painful.” Arawn replied. “Extremely so.” He continued. Tia began to ask more, but that was when raised a hand to forestall any more questions. Tia silenced herself reluctantly.
“The Yamanaraka Invocation,” he began, as Tia shuddered involuntarily once more, “is the healing magic that was originally used to heal captive people in the Demon Realms of old, long before the Great Maou rose to power.” Arawn swallowed as he placed his palms onto the table in front of him and pushed himself upright. Licking his lips, he continued.
“It is, as I stated before, an extremely painful ordeal. Which is at odds with the Great Maou’s desire to avoid causing pain to anyone. Since I have sworn an Oath to Her, the only way I can invoke it now is with Her permission.” He paused to breathe in. “Or, with the permission of someone duly authorized to do so on Her behalf. Someone like General Scathach.” He wearily informed Tia and began to pant. She waited for him to catch his breath.
“But, I would surmise that the major part of Her concern, is that is also a Meta-Magic of Chaos. As such, it is dangerous for casual use. That is because using it holds the danger of either awakening one of the dread Lords of Chaos, or garnering the attention of those who forced the Chaos Lords into their somnolent exile.”
“Neither of which,” Calliope explained then, getting both Arawn’s and Tia’s attention at her reappearance, “Is something that the Great Maou would be interested in gaining.”
“Calliope.” Arawn stated, looking at her hands that was clutching something unseen. “I see that you are carrying something now.”
“I am.” Calliope replied, “It is something that I’ve recently had to be formed, just for you.” She stated mysteriously, with a smile forming on her face.
“What is it?” he asked, lifting an eyebrow curiously. When Calliope opened her hand, both he and Tia could see the Great Maou’s emblem formed in metallic black silver; the all seeing eye-oval adorned with a pair of bat/succubus wings.
“It,” Calliope indicated with a nod of her head, “is a monitoring talisman. I want you to keep on you at all times Arawn. The reason being, is that it will give me the opportunity to see if in fact, you are as much a danger to Mamono as you seem to feel that you are.” she stated as she presented it to him, up close to his face. Hesitantly, he took it and scrutinized it carefully.
“How does it work? With what dweomers?” He asked, curious.
“Never you mind that!” Calliope warned him while waving a reproving finger.
“Just go ahead and pin it to your clothing! Do Not!” she warned him, “scan it magically or attempt to interfere with its monitoring! Do I make myself clear?!” she demanded then, fixing his gaze with her own. Arawn gulped at the seriousness in her tone, and nodded his acknowledgment of her authority.
“Good!” she snapped, her eyes blazing. “General Scathach had ‘requested’ the presence of Corporal Tia, she has a number of questions and Orders for her.”
“What Orders?” Both Arawn and Tia demanded in unison then. Both of them looked at the other.
“The General has received word from the Great Maou that you may; I repeat this,…MAY potentially be allowed to utilize the Yama,…ahem,…the Invocation of what we spoke about” She stated. Arawn began to smile with relief, his hope for such evident on his face.
“However!” Calliope continued. “Before she will allow that, she requires that you first try the healing power of a Unicorn’s horn.”
“A Unicorn?” Arawn groaned loudly as his face fell at that news. “Unicorns.” He sighed, ‘Why does it always have to be Unicorns?” he complained as he sat back down at the table and covered his face with his hands. His actions caused all three Mamono to look at him with a varying degree of annoyance and perplexity. Finally, Tia spoke first.
“Arawn?” Tia cried in confusion. “What’s wrong with dealing with Unicorns?” she demanded, incredulous at his reaction. After several seconds Arawn lifted his head and uncovered his face. He then looked meaningfully at each of them in turn; Elspeth with her flaming red hair that was at odds with her purplish nubile body, Calliope in her eye-pleasing negligee, and Tia with her fur covered spider-girl body.
“It is because of my incorruptible nature.” He started, then stopped when he noticed the incomprehension on their faces. He sighed patiently and began to explain. It took a short while, all due to his raspy throat and frequent sips of water.
“When I was cursed with Immortality oh so long ago,” he continued, “one of its effects was to make me nigh on incorruptible. Which is to say, I was born a creature of Law and I have remained a creature of Law since. Believe me when I tell you that many others have attempted to corrupt me either to Chaos, or something else, countless times after!”
“Wait!” Calliope stated holding up a hand to forestall him. Arawn closed his mouth and nodded. “Is this ‘incorruptibility’ have anything to do with your seeming inability to be healed?” she demanded with an intrigued looking frown on her face.
“Indeed.” Arawn replied as he nodded once. What he had to say next, got Calliope’s and everyone else’s full attention. “Not only does it keep me from being healed, but it also keeps me from being changed. Which is one of the reason why I am finding the whole ‘Hunt’ to be an exercise in futility. Even if one of the Mamono does manage to ‘subdue me’, as it were. She will ultimately fail in her endeavor to corrupt me into her Incubus.”
“But that’s impossible!” Elspeth cried out in dismay. “Even the Gods are not above being corrupted!” she stated, shaking her head in negation. For the first time that day, Arawn smiled. But his was one of a patient indulgence as he looked at the Shoggoth-girl with a fond look.
“Ultimately,” he replied, shaking his head. “My Cursing will not be denied, as such my body has managed to withstand anything that has been thrown to upset it. I remain unchanged in this form you see before you for millions of years.” He finished, raising his hands.
“Yet you can be damaged!” Tia spat out as she waved a furry hand at his injuries. “You can’t tell me that isn’t a change!”
“Indeed it is, but eventually my body will heal itself of every imperfection done to it. As it has done many, many, times before.” He finished, closing his eyes with a weary sigh.
“That’s all well and good!” Calliope shot out as she stepped forward and leaned into his face. “What has all that have to do concerning your problem with Unicorns?” she demanded hotly as she bent over to emphasize her point.
Arawn opened his eyes and noticed that he had a grand view of Calliope’s cleavage sitting before his nose. He then deliberately allowed his eyes to linger on it for just a moment too long.
Calliope was about to say something more when she noticed his gaze and then stopped. She then smiled when she saw where his attention was. She paused and then stood up to fold her arms across her chest. She wasn’t sure if she was more amused, or more annoyed. She settled instead on tapping her foot as she awaited his answer. Arawn noticed it and began to speak.
“I would think that it would be obvious.” He replied, looking directly at Calliope in her eyes. She stared back at him silently for a moment.
“Very well then, let me answer with a question. What kind of male are Unicorns most interested in?” he asked.
“Pure, virginal males who do not have the slightest bit of,…” Calliope began.
‘Corruption?” Arawn asked suddenly, interrupting her. Calliope’s face froze, then her eyes widened when she realized what he was implying. Arawn smiled humorously.
“Now you begin to comprehend.” He stated wearily.
“But wait a minute!” Tia cried. “I know that you’re most certainly NOT a virgin! I am well aware of what you and Jinks were up to after all!”
“Indeed.” He replied, giving her a lolling look. “But riddle me this Corporal, take the time and ‘sniff’ me out right now. In fact, why don’t all three of you subject me to the,…whatever it is you Mamono do, to detect if a male is unattached?” He asked then with a satisfied look on his face.
When he finished, he observed that all three Mamono before him did as he had asked. After a second, he noticed that all three of them looked at him with shock evident on their faces.
“So? Am I a virgin?” he asked the trio of Mamono rhetorically, as he raised his hands up in surrender mode. All three nodded in unison, but then Tia stopped and shook her head, as a look of confusion crossed her face.
“Let me guess, as far as all three of you can tell, I am in a completely Virginal state. Now imagine how much more interested a Unicorn,…no strike that! ANY Unicorn would react to my presence?” None of the three around him chose to answer. They didn’t need to as they all shared the same speculative look.
“Precisely.” He replied. somewhat mollified. “In my experience they have proven themselves to be rather obnoxious anywhere in the Multiverse that I have ventured.” He complained.
“Humph!” Calliope expelled doubtfully. “I’m not sure if this revelation will cause Scathach to change her mind. If anything else, she’ll probably be even more curious to see if what you say is true.”
“Such is nothing less than what I expected.” He replied resignedly.
“Right then!” Calliope responded as she herself turned around. “Corporal Tia!” she called out as she strode to the door of Arawn’s apartment, ‘Walk with me, you and I have much to discuss.” Confused, Tia did as she was bid, and moved to follow after Calliope. But just as she was leaving the room, she turned and called out to Elspeth.
“Please keep a firm eye on Arawn while I’m gone, would you please Elspeth? If he gives you any grief, invoke me. Understood?” she asked with a meaningful smile. Elspeth smiled back with a sharp nod. In response, Arawn merely grumbled under his breath. Both Mamono ignored him.
As she was hurrying to catch up to Calliope, she heard the sound of something hitting the floor in Arawn’s apartment. But, before she could comment about it, she heard Arawn griping.
“Blasted Cat!” he half-shouted in a hoarse tone, “stop knocking things off of my shelves!”.
‘Wait a second, I don’t recall seeing a cat in or around Arawn’s rooms!’ she realized, as she shot a glance back his way. ‘In fact the barracks rules are quite clear! No live animals are permitted as pets! So what is he referring to?’ she wondered.
After an exhaustive question and answer period with her Commanding Officer, Corporal Tia was left more than a little mentally fatigued as she left the General’s offices, It was then, that she found herself quite vexed with the General’s intransigence concerning Arawn’s condition.
Even though the General had already been kind enough to suspend Arawn’s ‘Hunt’, until such time as he returned to duty. Tia felt that Scathach should’ve been more amenable to Arawn’s healing magic.
At the end, Scathach had informed her in that in no uncertain terms that Tia should stop wasting her time to persuade her otherwise. Which resulted in her own frustration growing as she felt that her own concerns being so summarily dismissed or ignored. Upon exiting the General’s office, Tia was extremely annoyed to discover that someone was waiting for her outside.
“Elspeth!” Tia cried upon seeing her. “What are you doing here?” she demanded.
“It’s Arawn!” the Shoggoth nurse began, as she approached Tia. “He’s gone missing!”
“Missing? How!?” Tia demanded. Elspeth began to explain.
Apparently, he had demanded the ‘right’ to attend to his use of the toilet, alone. Elspeth granted him that right reluctantly, despite her being suspicious of his continued muttering about a cat. But, long after the time he was supposed to return, she’d gone to find out if he was all right and that was when she discovered that he’d disappeared.
“I can’t find him anywhere in or around his barracks! I don’t know where else to go searching for him!” she cried, obviously shaken by her inability to keep track of a lone handicapped male. Tia did her best to console her.
“Elspeth, I’d recommend that you go ahead and return to his apartment to see if he’s returned there. I’ll check in with you as I go and look for him myself.” She assured her.
‘Godsdamnit Arawn!’ she silently cried to herself aggrievedly. ‘What in the nine hells are you up to this time?!’ she wondered, feeling like she did in her teen years when she’d been conscripted to care for her younger sister.
Corporal Tia, using her inherent Jumping Spider hunting skills and tracking ability, wisely chose to climb herself to the top of his barrack building to begin her search. Luckily, she managed to espy him within only a couple of minutes of looking.
What he seemed to be doing, appeared odd even to her. Down there, a couple of streets over, he was just leaning up against a wall of another building, staring down at something in the street. What, she had no idea.
Lowering herself down with a silk line, she was able to catch up to him in short order. Yet, even as she cautiously approached him, she still had no idea what it was that he was staring at. Just as she was about to say something, he spoke first.
“My apologies Mentor.” He said softly, not looking at her. “I would imagine that my Nurse has probably shaken herself into a froth by now.”
“She may very well might.” Tia replied testily, barely holding onto her anger. “Why did you leave your nurse behind like that, and what are you doing?” she demanded, shaking slightly. Arawn finally turned and looked at her.
“I left her because of the cat.” He replied, and said nothing more as if this explained everything. Tia closed her eyes and found herself counting to eighteen before replying, so as to avoid biting his head off.
“What cat?” she asked finally. He looked at her with furrowed brows.
“That cat.” He stated as he lifted up his good hand, and pointed at,…nothing. Tia saw that he was pointing at a spot a good five meters away in front of him. She could also see that there were a set of alley cats a half block away, engaged in a rough and tumble tussle. But it was evident they weren’t what he was pointing at. Tia closed her eyes in frustration once more.
“Arawn, there is no cat there.” She hissed as patiently as she could, as she opened her eyes to glare at him.
“Actually there is,..” he replied, somewhat miffed by her reaction.
“NO, there is not a cat!” Tia shot back, interrupting him.
“Tia, yes there is,…” he replied in negation, feeling put upon by her reaction. When he did that, Tia finally felt the last of her patience snap within her! She was just so damned tired of having to put up with him, and his damnable intransigence!
“STOP IT ARAWN!” she shouted then, which caused Arawn’s eyes to flare indignantly. “There is NO cat in front of you! Leave it off and come back with me NOW!” she screamed at him as she roughly put a hand on his shoulder. He winced and gasped when she did.
In that moment, Tia knew that she’d caused him some additional pain. But she didn’t care anymore, she just wanted him to stop being such a bother right then!
‘When will people stop invalidating me?!’ he mentally shouted. When he did, every one of his ‘not-brothers’ silently agreed. Arawn in turn, felt his own anger flare. He was tired, damnably tired of being prevented at seemingly everything he wanted to do. Even so, he still attempted to convey his frustration.
“Tia Please,” he spoke through clenched teeth, trying to reason with her. “I need to follow this cat.”
“NO!” She shouted, her teeth flashing, uncaring about making a scene, “I’m sick and tired of your games Arawn! There is no fucking cat!” she yelled into his face, shaking her arms at him.
Arawn’s rage flared so hotly then, that he did something that he normally would have never have considered- he shot a hand out to her forehead, and before she could even react, he uttered a spell.
“VISUS MAGUM” he shouted. The effects of his spell, was almost immediate. Tia cried out in dismay when her eyesight went crazy!
“AAAAH!” she screamed as she jumped backwards away from him and knocked his arm away from her forcefully. The effect of which caused him to spin away and be knocked to the ground with a large whoosh of air expelled from his lungs.
What she could see then through her right-side eyes, was alarming. Everywhere Tia looked, she could still see the streets and buildings before her. But now, it seemed that everything she looked at was on fire!
“What have you done to me?!” she squealed angrily as she shook her head in a vain attempt to clear her sight.
“I have given you Mage-Sight.” He replied, his voice coming from the vicinity of the ground. “Now you can see what I can.” Tia’s anger was momentarily caught short, when she realized that he was now breathing hoarsely in pain.
When she looked over at him, she was shocked and appalled to see that she could still see him. But what she saw, made her wince! Tia could see a riotous blend of otherwise unknown colors. They seemed to be a part of him in a way that flowed through and around him, and yet not as well.
“What is Mage Sight?” she demanded harshly, her eyes now overflowing with her tears, that were caused by the intensity of all of the colors on display. Luckily, she found that the longer it went on, the easier it was for her to endure.
“Can you make it stop?” she asked then, rubbing at her eyes with one hand and then another. But, nothing she could do would make it stop. At best it would only lessen the amount of sensation it was giving her a second. She then glared/winced at him.
“No.” he began, “I cannot. You will simply have to endure it, until such time as it dissipates on its own.” He replied as he looked up at something in front of him.
“Why did you do that to me?” she growled. In reply, he pointed at that something in front of him. Tia found herself turning her head to see it. When she finished, she found herself astonished.
It was a cat. But yet, somehow it wasn’t a cat either. Looking at it first with one eye, and then with another and then another, Tia became aware that some of her eyes had indeed kept her regular eyesight. Through those eyes, she could see there was no cat there. But with her enhanced eyes, she could see that there was.
“What the,…?” she asked, utterly confused by the mixed signals her eyes were giving her.
“That!” Arawn stated with a grim smile, as he began to shakily push himself to a sitting position. “Is the cat that I have been following, it is a Ghost” He panted a few times to catch his breath.
“It is the same one that has been annoying me something fierce, during my attempt to sleep last night.” He continued. Tia looked over at him curiously as he smiled a mirthless smile. “Every time I would start to fall asleep, it would start knocking things off of my shelves.”
“Oh!” Tia replied, “that would be rather annoying.” She admitted as she leaned forwards to peer down at the unusual cat. After a few moments, she decided that this cat appeared to be related to the usual stray cats that were running around the city and the fort.
But, unlike those energetic scoundrels, this one appeared to be silently waiting for,…something. While she watched, it did nothing more than remain in the cat-meatloaf position. Looking closer, Tia noticed that unlike the slim city cats, this one appeared to be almost gaunt in comparison. She could easily see its vertebra bumps sticking up on the fur of its back.
‘Not even worthy of a mouthful.’ She automatically deemed, then stopped ‘not that I’d eat one anymore.’ She quickly corrected herself. Just as she thought that, the ghost cat looked up and over at her, giving her a sharp glare with its ears drawn slightly back.
‘Did it hear me?’ she asked in surprise.
The cat then stood itself up, and then turned to lick its left shoulder at her twice. It then got up onto all four paws and ran off at a fast pace down the street.
“Damnatus!” Arawn yelled, when he saw it running away. He glared accusingly at Tia. “What did you do?” he demanded as he pushed himself slowly upright.
“I didn’t do anything.” She denied.
“Perception in Mage-Sight is reciprocal! If you can see it, it can see you!” he growled at her. “Did you think about eating it?” he asked her acidly.
“Of course not!” she shot back, feigning indignation. After a few seconds, she wilted and replied. “Ok, maybe just a little.” She admitted finally. Arawn huffed.
“Fine!” he replied as he finally managed to totteringly remain upright. He took a hesitant step, stumbled and then fell to one knee. “Faex!” he shouted in anguished frustration. Tia approached him silently and stuck out a hand to offer him a lift up. After glaring at it and her for a second, he took the proffered hand, and with her help he shakily got to his feet.
“I don’t suppose you’re willing to come back to your apartments now?” Tia asked him hopefully.
“Positively not!” he replied as he let go of her hand. “I fully intend to continue tracking that little beast. It has been leading me around for the longest while.”
“Leading you? Are you sure that it’s been doing that?” she asked.
“Absolutely!” he assured her. “Its path has been a meandering one I will admit, but I am sure that it has a particular destination in mind.”
“What makes you so sure?”
“It keeps looking back at me, checking to see if I have been following it.”
“Well since it’s run off, you can’t follow it anymore.” She pointed out.
“Actually, I can.” He smiled and waved ahead. Tia looked to where he was waving at. There, at the far end of the street, just near the edge of the building they were standing next to, she saw the head of the Ghost cat peering around the corner. It looked back at them for a second, and then ducked back out of sight. She sighed in mild exasperation as she came to a decision.
“Arawn, if I help you track down this cat of yours. Would you at least be willing to go back to bed and allow both of us some rest afterwards? Elspeth is probably getting agitated right now.” She asked. He grimaced as he thought about it.
“Yes.” He said finally with a nod. “If I can figure out what kind of help this ghost desires of me. I get the impression that it will stop making a nuisance of itself.” He replied.
“All right, I’ll help you if you’re willing. Particularly since I can see it now.” She shot back with a flash of her teeth.
“Ah, another pair of eyes, eh?” he asked. Tia just rolled her head over to give him a droll look with all eight of her eyes. “Or equivalent.” He hastily added. Tia grinned with a humor she barely felt.
After another few minutes of Tia helping Arawn track the ghost cat, she decided to ask him a question.
“Arawn?” she asked, trying to get a handle on everything, “What is it that I’m seeing here? What are these colors, these shapes, what is it with everything?”
“It would take me a long time to explain to you all of the details; far longer than the time it would for the Mage-sight to last.”
“Try.” She ordered him primly. He sighed.
“All right.” He decided. He then lifted up his good arm before him and presented it to her. “What do you see?” he asked, with a nod towards his arm.
“Your arm.” She said dryly, then smirked. He raised an eyebrow and frowned.
“What else?” he demanded. “Describe it.” She sighed.
“All right,” she mused as she concentrated on his arm. “I can see what appears to be light coming from within your arm. It looks a lot like the embers of a fire, or a glow crystal that’s set too low.” She decided. Arawn concentrated on his arm and then Tia stopped walking when she noticed something odd. As she watched, the light within it started to shift and began to form a pattern.
“What the?!” she yelped, blinking. “What did you do? What was that?”
“That glow,” he instructed, “is an indication of my own internal Spirit Energy. It is the energy I utilize in my mana use to form a ‘Blast-Punch’. I did so temporarily for the effect that you just saw.” As he finished, comprehension began to fill Tia.
“So, everything I’m seeing all around me; all of this glowing? It’s all some form of magic?” she asked, as she stopped walking and looked around herself. Arawn smiled indulgently.
“Yes. No. Maybe.” He replied. Tia shot her head around at him and frowned as she put her hands on her hips.
“Make up your mind!” she chuffed.
“Some of what you see, is indeed made up of magic, yes!” he replied with the slightest of smiles. “Let me finish!” he stated when he saw her eyes flare angrily. She then settled herself down somewhat. Still, she had expected a better explanation than that!
“To begin again: Yes. Some of what you see is in fact, magic. But also, there is: No, some of what you see is not magic, but something else entirely. Additionally: Maybe, in that some of what you are perceiving could be magic, it could also be something else in the process of shifting into magic, or out of it.” he replied, as Tia’s eyes began to cross at the load of information. He then continued speaking.
“As I said before, it would take me a long time to explain what each and everything,…” he stated and then came to a stumbling halt as his gaze shot forward to look at something ahead of them both.
Looking to where and what he was staring at, Tia noticed an odd seeming person coming along the street towards them. This person looked similar to the Ghost-cat, in that it wasn’t there physically on the street. Yet, that person was doing something out of the ordinary.
What, she wasn’t sure exactly at the moment. As it got closer she realized what, this odd person wasn’t so much walking down the street as he was floating!
“Tia!” Arawn shouted nervously in a loud whisper, when he noticed her looking at the strange person. “Look at me! No! Do not look at that person I see you looking at right now!” Tia glanced at Arawn with a frown, and then turned her head to look back at the approaching person.
“TIA!” Arawn shouted forcefully as he laid a hand on her shoulder. “Trust me on this! You do not want to look at that person, it has a potential danger!” he hissed.
“Danger?” she asked, suddenly chilled by the prospect. “Why? What?” she asked.
“Please! Look at my eyes and do your best to ignore him!” he instructed her as he lifted up his good hand to act as a blinder for her. Forcing herself to obey him, she did as he told her, and matched his actions.
After a few seconds of Arawn and her concentrating on each other’s eyes, Tia could ‘feel’ that the strange person had stopped moving. She felt a shiver up her spine as it then started to look curiously at them both. After a bit she could ‘sense’ that the person’s attention had begun to waver, and then it ambled off. A few seconds later, Arawn relaxed.
“Safe.” He whispered, letting out a sigh of relief.
“All right, what was all that about?” Tia demanded, looking to see if she could see that odd person again. But, he was nowhere in sight.
“Have you in one of your dreams, ever visited a strange and exotic place?” he asked. Tia frowned while she thought about it for several moments, and then nodded, wondering what he was getting at.
“I remember dreaming about visiting the ocean once, when I was just a spiderling.” She mentioned. “But, when I finally had the opportunity to see the real ocean, I found that I was delighted and yet also disappointed.”
“Let me guess, that is because it seemed both less and more, than what you remembered from your dreaming of it?” he asked, Tia nodded.
“What you dreamt then, was you experiencing a Dream-Walking.” Arawn smiled. Tia’s eyes went round when she realized what it was he’d been getting at.
“You mean to tell me that that figure you had me ignore just now, was someone having a dream?!” she exclaimed, as she looked back once at the now absent figure.
“Absolutely! The person you saw just now, was someone experiencing a Dream-Walking. It occurs occasionally in those who have an aptitude for Magic.”
“You’re telling me that person was dreaming about walking the streets of Fort Eequor, and found it to be interesting?” She asked incredulously. Arawn nodded cheerfully.
“But, there’s nothing exotic to see here!” she scoffed.
“Well, some people have such drab lives, that anything out of the ordinary will seem exotic to them.”
“All right, so what’s the problem with my watching someone else having a dream?” she asked.
“Remember what I said about Mage-Sight and reciprocity? Dream-walkers can be easily distracted during their journeys. If you had paid any more attention to that person than what you did, it would have captured his attention.”
“A person can easily get lost during a Dream-Walking, especially if those who do are not careful. You would have probably ended up having him staying and interacting with you, trying to get your attention.”
“For how long?” she asked, scared suddenly at the notion.
“Probably for the rest of your life.” He added, smiling sadly. “Many extant poltergeists are distracted Dream-Walkers.”
“But what about the one who dreams, wouldn’t they age and die if they dreamed that long?”
“Not necessarily, for them they can spend entire lifetimes during their dream without ill effect. Then they wake up in their beds the morning after they went to sleep.”
“That’s a lot to take in!” Tia replied, blowing out a breath. She then looked over her shoulder at some movement. “Arawn?” she asked, pointing. Arawn looked to where she was pointing. “Isn’t that the Ghost cat you’re looking for?”
“Yes it is.” He replied, blinking.
“What is he doing?”
“It appears to be waiting for us.” He replied as he began walking slowly towards the waiting cat. Tia followed, careful to keep her thoughts non-threatening. As they approached, the cat simply waited unmoving for them to come near. All the while it remained where it was, staring at the foundation stone of Arawn’s barrack building.
When they were almost within touching distance of the cat, it stood up and looked plaintively at Arawn once. Then it turned back to face the foundation stone, and reached out a paw to lightly scratch the blocks’ surface. Both Arawn and Tia noticed that its paw passed into the block slightly.
The cat then turned to look at Arawn once more, and lifted its tail up above its head. It then ambled its way into the block, passing completely out of view. Arawn and Tia stared and waited at the wall for several seconds, but the cat didn’t reappear.
“What?” Tia asked when she heard Arawn sniffle. When she turned her head, she saw that tears were starting to form in his eyes.
“I think I know what this is all about now.” He stated sadly, not looking at her. As Tia watched, confused as he then painfully sat himself down in front of the foundation block.
“What are you doing?” she asked, blinking her eyes.
“Manumission.” He replied cryptically, as he settled himself in front of the block, then he placed his hand upon its surface.
“Arawn?” she tried again.
“Ssshhh!” he replied, shushing her. “I’m concentrating! This will be more difficult than usual in my current condition.” He continued, as he started to pant. Tia could soon see why he was panting. She could see the lines of magic-force well up within him.
As she watched, they then started to expand out of the vicinity of his heart and brain, and from there they traveled down his arms and wrapped themselves into and around the foundation stone, wrapping it akin to a Spider’s weave. Within a couple of seconds, those energies had enveloped the block almost entirely.
When the stone was covered with the lines, Arawn scootched himself backward half a meter with his hand still touching the stone. He then tensed himself and spoke a word.
“Advenio!” he intoned. Almost instantly the building’s cornerstone gave off a crackling sound, and started to shake slightly as it began to loosen its surrounding mortar. Tia’s eyes went wide when she realized what he was about.
“Arawn!” she shouted fearfully, “You’ll bring the building down!” she stated as she reached out to him. But Arawn continued in his stone-moving, ignoring all of her entreaties. For some reason she found that she couldn’t interfere with him after that.
‘Wait and see what happens.’ She decided nervously, looking at the building’s stability with her now almost depleted Mage-Sight.
Finally, after several tension filled minutes on Tia’s part and no small amount of sweating on Arawn’s, the stone finally ceased its reluctance and it slowly began to slide out from the surrounding blocks creating a gap.
When it was half way out of its setting; was when Arawn ceased his efforts. He then just about collapsed and lay down next to the hole in the wall that he’d made.
“What have you done?” Tia demanded, her voice rasping with her nervousness. Arawn looked back up at her and smiled.
“Let us find out.” He replied as he reached out his good hand and inserted it into the newly made aperture, and began to feel around. At first, he kept his lips pursed with a thoughtful look on his face. But, after a couple of seconds, his eyes lit up. He then began retracting his arm. When he did, Tia could hear the sound of masonry being scraped by another solid object.
“Just as I thought!” he stated as he pulled something out the hole. “A cavity in the foundation!”
“Why? What?” Tia asked, her anger forgotten as she looked over Arawn’s shoulder. What she saw then as he removed his arm completely, made no sense. For there, within his grasp was an ancient looking glass jar full of somethings… Arawn lifted up to his face and peered into it.
“Hmph!” he grunted, as he spared her a glance. “It appears to be a jar of pickles!” he harrumphed.
“Why someone left that there, is beyond me.” He continued as he handed that jar to Tia. As she took it and gave it the once over, she noticed that Arawn was reaching back inside again.
This time, she noticed that he seemed to be more forceful in feeling his way inside that hole, as she could hear the sound of his hand slapping the inside surface. Then finally, his hand came down one more time, but it didn’t make any noise.
“Aaahh!” he stated, frowning sadly. “Yes.” He stated as he began to remove another item.
“What?!” Tia demanded. Arawn looked up at her with a half-smile. He then carefully removed what it was that he’d found. Once it was in the light of the afternoon sun, Tia gasped, and was left gaping!
It was a cat! But it wasn’t a living one, oh no. This one was decidedly dead, as it was nothing more than skin, bones, and fur. She saw that it was all curled up, as if it had fallen asleep and stayed in that position, forever. Arawn lifted it up in his hands, she noticed he was crying in full measure, as one tear after another dripped from his eyes.
“Poor thing.” He sniffled.
“Why? What happened to it?” she demanded, frowning. Then she looked down and noticed that the Ghost-cat had returned. It was sitting and moving its head to stare at them both, looking between Arawn, Tia, and the mummified cat. Tia’s eyes went wide when she realized that the markings on the dead cat’s fur, matched the one on the ghost cat!
“Bastards.” He stated distastefully, as he spared Tia a glance. “This is the result of an ancient and evil practice of humans!” Arawn began to explain, looking at Tia and then to the Ghost-cat.
“My apologies for this little one.” He sighed, the ghost-cat looked back at him mournfully and blinked sadly once.
“I still don’t understand!” Tia cried, feeling shaken at the spectacle before her.
“It is called: Immurement.” He began, “in it sacrificial animals were often interred within the foundation of a building or other edifice. Many times, when they were still alive. There they would be left to die, either of starvation, thirst, or asphyxiation.” He stated as he closed his eyes and hugged the mummified cat to his chest.
“That’s horrible!” Tia cried, outraged. “But why would anyone do such a thing?”
“It was a time-honored way of creating a sort of ‘Guardian-Spirit’ for said building or edifice.”
“Disgusting!” Tia hissed angrily. Arawn nodded in agreement.
“This explains the Ghost cat for my barracks. He is the Guardian-Spirit for it.” He stated as he looked down at the still present cat. “I know now what he wants.”
“What? What can you provide for him, now that he’s dead!” Tia cried again, still upset yet frustrated enough to wring her hands in anguish. “There’s nothing you or I can do for him!”
“Actually there is.” Arawn replied, as he kissed the dead cat’s head. He then carefully set the dead cat down on the ground in front of him.
“What can you do?”
“I can free him. Free him from his involuntary servitude.” Arawn whispered as he made a gesture. To Tia’s eyes she noticed a flash of energy in his hand and then something appeared. Looking closer, she could see that it was a packet of sea salt. Arawn then tore it open and spread its contents all over the body of the cat.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Spiritual Manumission.” He replied cryptically. The ghost cat got to its feet and watched his every move intensively. Arawn, with Tia’s help, then got to his feet and backed away.
“Libertatem Igni”, he breathed. “Be free little one.” he stated once, when he was far enough away. As Tia watched, a spot on the Ghost-cat’s mummified body flared with a spark once, and then an achromatic fire began to burn that rapidly covered the entirety of the dead animal. When it did, she noticed that simultaneously the ghost cat caught fire as well. But it didn’t react like a normal cat would’ve under such circumstance.
It merely remained placid as it was erased from existence by the purifying flame. From the first spark to the last ember, the entire process took less than a handful of seconds. Then just before the burning cat disappeared from her view, she thought that she heard it mew once.
Out of nowhere a breeze began that was strong enough to ruffle Tia’s fur. But also strong enough to lift the cat’s ashes to the four winds.
Tia found herself saddened by the experience, yet somehow elated as well. Looking up, she saw that she could see the same emotions on Arawn’s face. Their eyes met momentarily.
“Let us go home.” He sighed.
Despite his aches and pains, for the first time in too long, Annwyfn Arawn managed to get a halfway decent night’s sleep. It was a good rest for him, mostly because that Ghost-cat that had been pestering him was no longer there to knock things off of shelves.
When he awoke the next morning, he was struck by an odd sensation. Casting out his psychic tendrils, he was intrigued by a pair of unusual events. The first, was the gentle sound of a mild susurrus echoing throughout the entirety of his apartment.
‘What is that sound? (1)’ Arawn demanded, his mind befuddled from the early morning hour.
‘I believe that sound is akin to what Tia has called: A cat’s purr. (5)’ Quintus mentioned.
‘Where is its location? (1)’
‘From atop your chest. (5)’
‘What? (1)’. Arawn stuttered as he lifted his head from his pillow and looked down his front. Once he had, he found himself nose to nose with a cat. It was there sitting on his chest compacted into ‘the meatloaf’ position, facing him.
Arawn automatically reached up to displace the cat from its perch. But, as soon as he tried, his hand passed through it.
‘Ghost? (1)’ he stated, surprised, as he rubbed at his eyes to clear the sand from them. When he did, he looked again and noticed the cat’s markings. He was surprised again when he recognized the previous ghost cat’s fur. But this cat was fuller, weightier, and all around healthier looking.
‘About as ‘healthy’ as any dead cat can be. (5)’ Quintus remarked dryly. Arawn sighed as he started to stare at the ghost cat, who stared back at him unblinkingly.
The two of them then held an impromptu staring contest for as long as Arawn could manage, until at the end he blinked first. After blinking away his now dried eyes, he looked back at the cat again and got the distinct impression that the cat was amused by Arawn’s foolishness. Arawn growled once.
“If you are going to insist on remaining here,” he began as he addressed the Ghost-cat atop him, “then I am going to insist on giving you a name.” he stated as he continued to glare for a moment more. Arawn then idly let his eyes drift around the room for inspiration.
Almost instantly, his eyes settled upon the sight of the ancient jar of pickles that he’d pulled out from the corner of his building the previous day. He then smiled as an idea took hold of him. Returning to look back to the cat in front of him, he began to speak.
“I hereby dub thee: Pickles.” Arawn finished sarcastically. The newly dubbed Ghost-cat, Pickles, blinked lovingly back at him once.