Monday, August 3, 2015

Day Eight-Ninety-Four: Very wrong

Fynn felt uneasy, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint why.

Standing upon the Imperium’s floating battle platform - it was, he thought distantly, a wobbly, slow, poor substitute for his mother’s brand of airship - Fynn watched the battlefield below, as he so often did these days. A contingent of over three hundred Non were clashing with Fynn’s legion of werewolves over the remains of an Imperium town, fighting in the evacuated streets with vicious zeal. The werewolves, though superior in number, seemed to be having trouble rooting the Non out of their hiding places, as the slippery bastards kept using their surroundings to avoid their furry antagonists.

And yet, for all that, it wasn’t the worst battle in the world. The werewolves were stymied, not defeated, and with Fynn’s mental control they fought with a degree of actual intelligence. Still…

Is something the matter?

Fynn flinched out of his ruminations. He turned to look at Julius, who, as ever, was perched upon his shoulder. The two of them often shared a mind - something that didn’t bother Fynn at all, as Julius was a pleasant, amiable little familiar - but Fynn always kept a small part of himself detached, separate. If this fact offended Julius, he didn’t let it show, and Fynn assumed the spider similarly held back a little.

I’m not sure, Fynn replied. He stroked his chin. I dunno. Something’s just… different, down there. Can you feel it?

Julius’s many eyes turned to the buildings below. A single titan-sized Non rose up along the line of buildings, bringing a massive fist down on three werewolves that were poised to leap onto the Non’s chest. Two avoided the collision, but a third winked out of Fynn’s mind. He felt a small ping of sadness echo out of his soul, the same ping he felt whenever a werewolf died under his command.

I don’t feel anything different, Julius eventually admitted. Perhaps the toll of fighting for so long is getting to you?

Fynn rolled his eyes. That could certainly be the problem. He’d been on the warpath with Logan for almost two months, now, picking at the fringes of the Non army with dogged determination. There was seldom a day without a battle to be fought. The fact that they didn’t seem to be making much of a dent in the Non - Logan kept holding back the full fury of their forces - only added to the sense of hopelessness in their situation. Life was an unending process of attacking, defending, licking wounds, and recouping losses.

But that wasn’t it, either. Fynn could tell. This feeling… it was almost sickly -

Logan is here, Julius cut in, before Fynn could respond.

Fynn turned, allowing his control over the werewolves to slacken enough that he could speak. His eyes dimmed enough that the opaque green sheath of colour receded to his pupils only. He nodded, and Logan nodded back as he clanked onto the observation deck.

Logan was looking… different. Fynn had noticed substantial changes in the older man over the last month, and age was one of those changes. Logan’s beard was longer, his hair shorter, his body more thickly-muscled. Fynn knew he was working out more, to compensate for his loss in mobility. He was also wearing nicer clothes, shedding the half-guard half-thief garb he’d adored for so long. But it was his eyes that carried the most significant change: they’d become harder, almost perpetually narrowed, with a steel that both betrayed and eliminated the carefree fire that Fynn had known since he was a child. When Logan smiled the expression seldom carried into his eyes.

“You’re loud,” Fynn said, by way of greeting.

“As ever,” Logan admitted, glaring down at his legs. His stumps were sheathed in a pair of heavy iron calves, ending in stumpy blocks that looked more like anvils than feet. “I can’t wait ’til Libby works me up some proper legs. These ones suck. So heavy and awkward.”

“So you keep sayin’,” Fynn commented dryly, smirking. “What’s up?”

“That’s my question for you.” Logan stepped up beside his protege and stared down at the battle. “How are we doing?”

Fynn shook his head. “The usual. They’re dug in. I’m betting another hour before they give up and run. We probably won’t manage to take down more than a dozen of ‘em. More stall tactics.”

Logan sighed. He gripped the railing in front of the glass, his frown intense. “I still don’t get why they’re doing this. Take a town, leave it intact, drive everyone out, wait, then run once we show up. What’s the point? Keeps us off Kierkegaard’s butt, I guess, but it would make more sense to just turn his army around ’n try to take us down.”

“Except we could run if he did,” Fynn pointed out. “And we’re better at runnin’ than he is.”

“Yeah…” Logan shook his head. “I don’t know. Maybe we should dive in again. I’d like a closer look.”

Fynn grimaced. ‘Diving in’ was something Logan had cooked up the previous week. Fynn had discovered himself capable of, at least temporarily, peeking directly into the minds of the werewolves he controlled, and in doing so looking through their eyes at the enemy. He didn’t find it that useful - he could just go down and fight personally if he wanted to see what the Non were doing - but since he could also relay the experience to someone else, such as someone who could no longer flit about battlefields thanks to his prosthetic legs, Fynn found himself ‘diving in’ more often than he preferred.

“Geez, it’s not that bad,” Logan said, probably catching Fynn’s sour expression. “You said yourself it’s not very hard to do.”

“It’s not, but the last time we did it…”

“I was only a little dizzy,” Logan protested.

“You puked on me!” Fynn countered. It had taken the better part of a day to scrub the vomit smell out of his clothes.

Logan shrugged. He took two steps away from Fynn and faced the glass. “There. Can we get on with it, please? C’mon, I want a look.”

Fynn rolled his eyes, but he gave in. Allowing the werewolves yet more slack - he knew there wasn’t much danger in doing so - he shifted some of his concentration to Logan, probing outward with his powers to grab at Logan’s essence. Logan shuddered slightly as Fynn gripped his code, and with a sharp tug Fynn brought it in ethereal contact with one of the werewolves tethered to his consciousness, one he knew was currently fighting a Non. The link was made -

- and it broke, almost immediately, as Logan began to retch. He left his lunch all over the window.

Fynn broke the connection at once. Stumbling forward, his head suddenly hazy, he put a hand on Logan’s shoulder as the prince shuddered, slumped over the handrail. Logan’s raspy breaths frightened Fynn, yet he was instantly reluctant to try and use his magic to alleviate Logan’s discomfort, because he thought they might have been the cause in the first place. Surely the werewolf itself was not the full cause - 

“There’s something… something… ugh… wrong… ugh…” Logan spat up more of his lunch. “Very… very… wrong… with that… that… wolf…”

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