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Wanderer & The Golem

Chapter One: Emergence

By Isaac LawrencePublished 10 months ago 13 min read
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Chapter One

Emergence

‘In every-when, our ancestors were all around us … part of us … the same as us … then we woke, at some point we must sleep again!’ Aboriginal saying

I awoke, the dawn stretching into my closet-like room to open my bleary eyes, to draw me forth into the world.

For just a moment.

I awoke once more and the contents of my mind slowly ordered themselves, brought on by last night’s consumption of dark, aged whisky fervent with the musk of years. A groan escaped through the narrow cleft of my lips as I raised myself on one arm, accompanied by the rustle of the academic paper I had been working on. I gazed around my room, an embodiment of my own disordered mind, and a smile creased my face: part of me enjoyed living in this free manner, despite the obvious problems it caused when it came to finding anything at all.

I gingerly rolled from the bed; a yawning stretch came unbidden to me, which was most welcome as it stretched my spine.

Stumbling to the bathroom, I looked in the tarnished mirror only to be greeted by those familiar intense, dark eyes and pupils of deep black. Lower down, dimples that were slightly unequal on my face, and a weak chin. This wasn’t physiognomy; I always felt that too much confrontation from the features of one’s face put others on edge.

Pulling back some stray hair from an unruly fringe, I leant forward to widen my eyes with my fingers.

Red edges framed these eyes after last night. I tousled my dark brown hair with a much-used comb, feeling the threads pull on my scalp in an effort to become kind of ordered. My skin was paled pink on one side of the face; it seemed I had slept on my papers again last night. Maybe I could learn by osmosis.

Pulling on my clothes, I scrambled for the exit with legs more like a spider than a man. I was late for the bus, which would necessitate a lengthy haul up an unforgiving hill to the university campus. Barrelling down a spiral alabaster staircase, and passing an out of tune, defunct piano, I ran my fingers along the ivories as I flashed by, as was my habit.

Near the exit to the halls, I suddenly paused. Intimidated. There were three of my fellow students in a triangular gathering, women; those familiar awkward feelings surfaced. I steeled myself, forcing myself to stand straight to look up and avoid the twisting impulses that sparred in my conscious mind like unwelcome dervishes. They left me just enough presence of mind to manage a hasty ‘good morning’ before exiting promptly.

Laughter, lilting and feminine, accompanied my discomfort. That laughter could be so cruel at times. I had never been any good with the opposite sex. I would fall into a bumbling and stifled version of myself as desires and ideals waged war in my stomach and ended in a horrible, pensive twisting.

I banished the incident by focusing my thoughts on the here and now. Studious thoughts entered my head to drown the dervishes and prepared me for the day to come.

* * *

The day had been good, having been spent studiously on sand dunes, marking a succession of plants and noting patterns in communities. I entered the hall in a daze to be greeted suddenly at the door by Erin. Again, that awkwardness, an unwelcome nervousness; what for? It was driven by the sweetness of her Welsh Valley accent frolicking through my subconscious when she greeted me; by the tender poetry of her flecked, hazel eyes as they sought answer.

I managed an array of bumbling pleasantries that were met simply by a welcoming smile and a comprehension in her eyes – after all, I was one of the oddballs of the hall: my bizarre behaviour was utterly understandable to her. Thankfully, I was not alone in my unique mannerisms. Among those that lived here was a colonially inspired, mutton chop-bearing Northerner named Rowan, and an embarrassing mature student with a multitude of personal space issues whom few cared to know. I beat a hasty retreat.

Erin was a dark-haired girl with a tendency to bunch her hair up on her head, which freed her face to be a vision of openness – it allowed her features to speak for themselves, and they did: eyes that never narrowed but revealed a vibrant hazel that flashed often; high cheek bones that, nevertheless, didn’t taper into gauntness. She was someone who often entered my thoughts and pounded subconsciously in my heart.

Entering my room. Confusion.

Papers had been arranged in neat piles, clothes folded, and a scribbling hand had jotted something in runes on slate and placed it with care on the bed. What was going on? Picking up the slate carefully, it read ‘Power’, ‘Wisdom’, and ‘Strength’ and a fourth word I didn’t understand. I had always been well versed in the occult, and so the reading of the runes was straightforward, however, the room was changed, the slate new; I didn’t know what to make of it.

Calm. Hold the panic. Someone must have done this as some sort of elaborate joke, after all, they had performed pranks before. I really didn’t mind it; was one of the ways I had managed to connect with my fellow hall mates – as the butt of a joke – and sometimes to be summoned from the fringe to prove a point perhaps. I must have simply forgotten that I did this last night, though I could have sworn it was a mess this morning.

Sleep beckoned. Perhaps a slumber would call on the memory and set things right, even though something was nagging at me still, pulling on the tendrils of my mind that something was very wrong here.

* * *

A presence was calling me, summoning me from weary sleep.

Suddenly, bolt upright, I saw a diaphanous figure at the foot of the bed, scribbling on the slate in hazy flourishes. The head arose, emitting a faint, crooked smile, more visible now that I had a few moments, becoming solid in my vision, and yet the colours were bleached and transparent, so much so that the moonbeams shot through it.

‘Awake Wanderer, time grows short,’ said the figure, still gripping the slate.

‘Wh-who are you?’ I shakily replied pulling the covers close about.

‘A presence from the past.’ He looked forlorn, a vision of desperation, of vain struggles. Weariness emanated from this sprite, to recede just as suddenly. “It is no matter who I am? Who I was? The time has come,” the sprite continued, summoning some sort of strength to banish its own misery.

A voice in my mind: “Power, Wisdom, Strength and Truth, our gift to you. You alone can guide those who must make the future and preserve the past. Release the Magick, Wanderer”.

New knowledge, an understanding of mysteries at once familiar and strange, seeped into my brain; a suffusing drug radiating through every part of me, spurred by a pumping heart and racing lungs. I was being overloaded, driven in every aspect as I faded back to sleep with the pressure. Words came once more.

Time is short but know this: many have given themselves for this one chance. Many have died in an age long forgotten by the world. Preserve the gift at all costs and struggle for this.

Then the apparition was gone. A transformative process was still ongoing within me, the darkness of sleep claimed me, a type of forced restoration of self in the wake of some great change.

* * *

Rowan patrolled the hall making careful steps as he moved. He liked the conservation of movement, measuring each thrust of his feet to gain the maximum dynamic. He hummed, tum de dum – a marching tune he had woken up to and had recorded and replayed in his mind since the morning.

He always did this patrol; he relished defending those he held to be friends and those who could be friends, in essence it boiled down to ‘Protect the ones you are with’, a comment his father would always make in dutiful lectures, artfully presented around an old oak dinner table, interspersed with morsels of food. This had affected Rowan profoundly in his life. While he enjoyed a good time, people always came to him for backing up, for information and many other things that made him immensely proud, like a rigid cane holding up saplings; he liked the world straight.

Rowan was no fool; he knew where he was. Fellow students were often there to explore the liberality, to escape in new ways. This revealed that he was exactly where he was meant to be.

He cogitated on this and remembered a half-worn-through history book he had hired from the local library on the Victorian era, his favourite period of time. Something about the focus on responsibility and duty under the guardianship of foggy gas lights and the encroaching darkness of the following century, captured his imagination like no other. He had carefully developed his image to reflect the ideals of that time, though he knew its limits, its faults, but he still pursued it with a stoic staunchness.

He paused and scratched one mutton-chopped cheek. On one side of the stairs, a vitreous fluid with a slight stench greeted him, trailing in droplets this way and that. He raised his eyes; that book would have to be put on pause for now. Like most nights, something was too amiss in the hall for him to sleep soundly. He grabbed a damp cloth from a nearby bathroom and began to follow the path, an avid sense of responsibility guiding him in his task.

* * *

A newly formed creature watched Rowan from the shadows, parts of its slippery flesh dripping on to a dusty brown carpet.

Rowan was following its leavings, wiping and stretching with the occasional half heard mutter about how unclean his fellow students were.

The creature became filled with resentment for Rowan, clearing up after it. Its heart began to pump, its fetid blood preparing itself for an assault on this unsuspecting figure, who, even now, devastated the creatures’ ears with a marching tune as if he was somehow proud of himself.

The creature saw Rowan clear up the last of its droppings and smell the cloth that was now saturated with a greenish mess of pungent slickness, his face screwed up and scrunched in a display of disgust. Rowan turned and began to whistle another tune, which echoed in the empty hall. The creature followed noiselessly. Rowan reached his room and the creature struck, throwing a limb around his neck and ripping into his back. A mass of muck and blood were stripped off, spraying into a crescent.

They tumbled to the floor, beginning a one-way struggle.

Rowan was gagging with the asphyxiating slime that ran down his screaming throat from a smothering tentacle and into his body. He could feel the scratching at his back, his skin being sloughed off, as he clawed and strained against an unforgiving floor.

His senses began to fail, noise seemed to lessen, the feeling of the hard floor becoming soft and welcoming he tried one last valiant push up, which just resulted in a debilitating anguish that drained the last of his energy before he collapsed to the gnawing sound of gobbling.

* * *

I awoke to a tingling throughout my body, a pins and needles which surged from my skin to dig into my mind, it came with a newfound sense of purpose, ordering my brain with new and undreamt paths through an unseen wilderness. The pain came with a name…Wanderer…it hissed…Awake and face the truth.

Yet, when my eyes shot open. I immediately sensed something missing not gained. Still the transformation continued apace.

Power…the voice hissed, or was it multiple voices, overlapping like white noise hurricane.

Legacy…the voice echoed, from a time centuries past, an echo growing louder in my mind.

Knowledge…exploding with pain behind my eyes, encumbered now with the weight of

Wisdom. A wisdom not meant to be held by one man…I screamed.

Strength…The scream dying, replaced by the growing roots of an unseen tree, fortifying my spirit as a tree against a hurricane.

Truth…The voices of the hurricane, the hissing, clearing to a still clear day, a certainty in purpose, in a new mission.

I breathed a sigh of relief, the transformation, I knew was over, then suddenly a voice of hate different from the hissing hurricane came in chanting Latin.

“I unmake thee, your workings shall be undone!! Heathens!!” It torched my insides, where the magical transformation had sought out my fibres driven by other voices this drove me to my knees in pain.

It was a long time before I rose again. Changed.

The change was subtle in me, I looked around my student room and it was different, it felt now more like a cage. A trap for an ego with limited dreams, an excuse for unrealised passions. It was hollow.

Yet something, drew my eyes a greenish-black pustular slime in a trail heading out the door? This was unexpected and I knew instinctively not part of the transformation that had been planned by the whispering voices.

It gave off a foul odour, this slime that hinted of something hateful and gave me shivering feelings. I rose quickly, donning the first clothes I could find: a pair of blue jeans and a T-shirt. I stopped, sending forth my newfound senses, and realised there was something familiar in the slime.

What was this familiar thing that was so abhorrent to me? It made the whole room bitter, and I felt the need to clean my body, floor and sheets.

But no time for that now; my mission called and needed resolving, or at least understanding, for it was a strong, towering impulse. My senses drifted from me, travelling the student hall, softly and swiftly gliding through the air unseen, floating down the alabaster staircase, whipping over obstacles and through floorboards in pursuit of something elusive.

The slime trailed here and there, meandering as if confused, finally leading to Rowan’ door. Retracting back my senses, I reeled, as my hearing, smell, and sight mingled and separated, I did not yet know how to handle these new powers and sat down to centre myself after a few more moments I rushed from my room until I reached Rowan’ door.

‘Rowan!’ I shouted. ‘Wake-up, Rowan. You alright?’ I banged hard on the doors burnished mahogany, trying to avoid the slime by my feet. No sound. No stirring.

I tried the door: it was locked. Was I mistaken? I had to know if my senses had failed me.

Running my fingers along the door lock, I unlocked it with my mind and pushed it open cautiously. The room was dark, yet I could see the slime led to a greenish-black replica of myself. This … this thing that looked like me, pulsed up and down, tendrils running from its tentacles into Rowan’s body, seeming to suck his energy in a rasping sound, from Rowan’s eyes and mouth, blood flowed into the creature.

Summoning all the power I could muster in a moment, I pushed hard against the beast, forcing it away from Rowan and severing the tendrils which now hung like limp strings from the wounds in my friend’s body. The slimy doppelganger backed off with a gasping moan of discontent at its interrupted feeding.

My fingers were heavy with power still flaring, my breaths rapid with the shock and exhilaration. I knew I was transformed, knew I was now different, and yet somehow, inside, I knew it would come at a cost. My veins burned and yet I could not stop, for the doppelganger was before me still.

The monster that resembled me backed off, startled, and I interposed myself between the shallow breathing form of Rowan and the slimy creature. It seemed to melt into the floor, vanishing between the boards with a whimper, leaving the same acrimonious stain as its trail.

My mind raced. What could it be? I looked over the supine body of my hall-mate. No response. Shallow breathing. I knew he was dying, would die if something wasn’t done. But conventional medicine would not do the trick. I could feel that.

Could I leave him to die? What could I do to save him? My new purpose called me away, yet I couldn’t go. Emotion struggled with duty, and duty won.

I focussed my thoughts, seeking out the knowledge that had been given to me by the sprite’s ritual, and by my transformation. New vistas opened in this private world as I sought answers to the query of how to save Rowan from a wound that was rapidly congealing with maroon blood, yet my query came with other answers to other fates, my mind expanded.

The Scions line of ancient prophecy may be restored, restore the blood and by the healing, nobility from Brutus house can rise at the head of the Dragon, for this soul purified in the waters will seize its birthright.

My mind gradually returned to the world, phased a little by the sudden interruption but I had it, I knew where he had to be, to heal and fulfil a destiny. I conjured silken threads from the air and bound the trailing tendrils with electro-magnetic lace and began to stitch the wounds closed. Taking more and more, I fashioned a cocoon around Rowan’s body, tying the ends into the hair on top of his head, and sideburns on his cheeks, until the entire body was covered. This would preserve him and allow the wounds to heal slowly, the despicable damage done by … done by the creature looking like me.

Was it me? That’s how my mind raced. Yet this time, the answer came as something that flashed Emet behind my eyes: truth in Hebrew. From my subconscious archive came knowledge: was this creature a golem? Possibly, but formed from what?

* * *

Fantasy
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