Arcs - June 1994
The Soulmancer - C S Yeung
(illustrated by Luke Gietzen)
(page 5/8)

The Soulmancer

His name was Farlin Crycthune and he lived on the far side of Life with all its madness and terrifying knowledge. He had been there since he lost his hold on a tentative life and his soft fleshy body, his soul was now dashed and shredded by the cruel waves of mad wind. And there was no question of his ambition now. He wanted to leave this senseless void Between and return to material living. To leave by going forth was not his desire. It was a long road of increasing delirium to uncertain rewards waiting at the end. His conscience, soiled by his amoral living, was now not something to strengthen his confidence. He needed a way back, and fast, before he lost what remained of his soul to the heartless storms of Eternal Indifference.

Gathering himself, he flew in the direction he thought he had come from. For a short while he was free of the swirling storms, and below him he saw a smooth grey expanse, deepening into black at the far extremes. He felt the storms tug on his soul, and screaming his defiance only made him weaker and more susceptible to the inexorable pull. He thought desperately of what he had been, what he would be. His thoughts swirled around his corporeal body which was losing its edges fast. And what he had been dissolved into a ball of soulmatter with his thoughts shooting round and round. The whole thing served to keep him from being swallowed by the Maelstrom, but he was still being drawn towards it.

If the Eternal Winds had a mind, it might have been surprised at this one prey escaping it. It might have easily stretched one wisp to recover it, or it might have watched amused at the tiny struggle knowing all resistance was futile. But the Winds were mindless. There was only one more one-way barrier between Life and Afterlife.

And Farlin refused to enter it again. He searched the grey expanse for a blemish, some hole caused by supernatural flux. He knew there must be one eventually for in his life he had been a Master of arcane lore.

He only required luck and time to bear him out. And he found one such blemish. It was a volcano of fuming colours, and it would only last a few seconds.

Howling with triumph his Ka sped towards it, finding it easier to do so the further away he was from the Maelstrom, and then, pausing only to expend his last strength in shaping his body into something recognisably human, he descended into the sputtering hole which closed smoothly behind him.

Nothingness grew into material around him. Although he saw nothing, he felt it. He tasted blood and moved towards it. Not because he desired it - it nauseated him - but because it was the surest way for him to return to life, to find another body before his soulmatter gave out and became too thin to contain an entity. His thoughts were no longer as coherent as they had been, he knew only to speed forth towards that blood, that warmth, that living object, that scent of life.

Farlin felt an impact, a dizzying blackness after which senses returned to him as his soul remembered its hylic senses and it curled up smiling in its material home.

He fought the black exhaustion overwhelming him a while longer to test his new home and gained enough to know he was within a newborn baby and not some foul zombie conjured by Soulmancers. It would have been the ultimate irony to find himself in one created by an old apprentice of his.

He could sense the soul of the newborn moving uneasily against the older intruder, but it calmed down after a while and curled up next to him. Its mind glared at Farlin an instant before it succumbed to instinct and bawled aloud in the manner of newborns. Farlin smiled in weariness, and, knowing his security, he dissolved his waking thoughts.

End of prologue...

by Luke Gietzen