Driscol didn’t feel as lucky as he supposed he should have. But, then, he’d also wished for the end, much like he’d wished for the end almost every day for the past two-and-a-half years. His was not a tolerable existence.
Driscol was acutely aware of the rolling-back of time to an earlier world. He’d been staring oblivion in the face when it happened, his mangled body soaring through an abyssal blackness so pitch that the stars of codespace seemed to have vanished. He’d closed his eyes - though doing so was pointless, as the insides of his eyelids were no darker or more comforting than his surroundings - and waited for beautiful oblivion.
It didn’t come. Rather than falling to his death, Driscol felt himself being lifted back into the air, as though he were a naughty kitten being hoisted by his mother. He flew through the darkness until the darkness was no longer darkness, but, rather, the disintegrating walls of the tower. A platypus slashed the air with a spectral scythe, and in doing so he created a phantasm with an elephant’s nose that healed Driscol’s wounds with its ridiculous hammer.
Driscol was not confused by this, of course. He knew things were simply - as if the whole thing could be called simple - running in reverse. Yet even as he watched his life rewind he knew that it wouldn’t go exactly the same, as the tower, despite regaining some of its purchase in the world of reality, was also fading away. By the time Driscol was creeping his way backwards down the length of the tower, miraculously not rolling down stairs he could not see, the steps he was using were no more.
Driscol did not fall this time. Instead, his vision shifted with an abruptness that might’ve made his stomach churn, had he still possessed a proper, human stomach. As it was he was only dizzy when he collapsed onto the grass at the base of the tower, his vision spinning wildly as he tried to make sense of the rapid shift in his perception of the planet.
The fact that the tower he was supposedly sitting at the base of had vanished did not help matters. Not one single itty bit.
Wriggling, Driscol tried to push himself onto his arms. He was unsuccessful in this, as his energy arms were, for whatever reason, gone. This irritated him for a second, confused him for three more, and thereafter filled him with a perplexing emotion that he could not quite equate with sadness. His mother, clearly, had succeeded, as her power had fed his arms - and if she was no longer doing so…
She’s dead, he thought. Or something close enough to it that I’ll never see her again. I suppose that’s a relief. It means I’m free. But it also means I have no gods damned arms again, and that’s not so good. Hrm.
Twisting his head, Driscol looked around. He couldn’t tell if there was still a battle raging nearby - he’d barely seen it in the first place, as his mother’s cabin had deposited him inside the tower, not out - and all he really wanted to know was whether or not anyone else facing Philip had come with him. The flat flap of a platypus tail laying near his nose suggested that, yes, he was indeed in the company of… acquaintances? Something like that.
“Hey,” Driscol grunted. “Hey. You there? Anybody there?”
No one answered, save the tell-tale explosions and screams of combat in the distance. Driscol thought he heard a groan, but it could’ve been nothing more than a stranger’s voice on the wind.
Driscol tried again. “Hey. You there? C’mon, you stupid… duck… thing… wake up. I need a hand here. Several, in fact.”
The platypus did not respond intelligibly, though it did shift a little in its sleep. Driscol heard the groan again, and this time he identified it as a female. Not a conscious female, but a female. He wondered if it was the blind woman.
Forcing his chin into the dirt, Driscol awkwardly wriggled himself up and onto his knees. He’d been laying beside the platypus, the woman, and the rat, all of whom were very unconscious. Driscol drooped and bit the playpus’s tail, but the Non barely even flinched.
Great, Driscol thought, though he was half-smiling. Just great. Stuck in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of sleeping louts. And a war being waged a short distance away, to boot. Well, my life has certainly taken another turn. At least the blasted tower is -
Driscol didn’t finish his sentence. He couldn’t, because his mind was suddenly wrenched away from him, grappled by a familiar sensation that he’d learned to loathe. Recognized it at once he brought his will to bear against it, gritting his teeth so hard that one chipped free and fell out of his undead gums.
“No,” Driscol panted, straining so hard to maintain control of himself that a purplish ooze began to leak out of his pores. “No no no no, go away, not you, no, go away, you’re gone, I’m not - “
“NO!” Driscol crawled to his feet, body swaying dangerously close to pitching over, which, Driscol realized, had been his intention - but not close enough, not close enough at all. “NO! GET LOST! I BELONG TO… NNGH… NO… NO…”
Driscol’s legs ignored his pleas. His left leg took one step forward, then his right, then his left. Soon he was walking rapidly across the grass, trying desperately to cry over his situation as his master - I’m always being controlled, why, oh gods, why am I always in someone’s thrall - called Driscol to his side.
Driscol was so preoccupied with his own issues that he did not notice a figure rising to equally-shaky legs thirty feet away, and even if he had noticed, it wouldn’t really have mattered.