FR EN ES PT

Little mounds of earth. Dusty and dry. It's all she ever saw. And she couldn't stand it… Like a stain on an otherwise pristine sheet. That earth was part of her. That earth was life constantly reminding her – she wasn't the same anymore. That she was one of them now… Since that cursed day.

Agony could barely go on. The weight of the minerals dotting her body was a heavy burden to bear. Both literally and figuratively. After all that time, she still couldn't get used to it… Every single day, in fact, she cursed that vile appearance. A half-organic, half-undead creature – that was her plight now. She would've rather lost her soul as well, so then at least she wouldn't be aware of what she was.

Having waited too long for perfection, the necromancer finally let it go. Thanatena had blindsided her. Ever since, she would replay the scene in her mind. The Externam gates, wide open. That flood of Manes, being swept toward the exit like cattle. The livid heart in her hands. And then the inevitable. The unavoidable choice. And finally, the revelation – betrayed by her own flesh and blood

Every day, Agony had the same ritual. She would stand motionless before the enormous mirror she had set up in the room where she spent most of her time. She scrutinized every inch of her skin. A self-inflicted punishment, as if she were paying the price for her past mistake. The mistake was her gullibility.

"Vile creature…"

It was an almost inaudible whisper. The necromancer's lips barely moved. As if her soul were doing the talking.

There were three knocks, followed by a door creaking. Then a voice, raspy from age.

"Someone to see you, madam."

"Yet again… When will he learn…?"

"You know how it is, madam. With children, it often bears repeating…"

"Show him in. But tell him I have little time for him."

"Very well, madam."

A deep sigh, equal parts irritation and apprehension. Her treacherous son came to visit ever more frequently.

"You look radiant, mother…"

"That scathing wit… You're my son, all right…"

"It's so cozy here. I didn't recognize the place. Did you do some work on it? Your tower seems taller than when I last stopped by."

"Hmm, could it be a desperate attempt to discourage people from visiting me? If so, it clearly hasn't done the trick…"

"You don't really enjoy being the new attraction in the neighborhood, do ya?"

Agony clenched her fists. The tension in her jaw was giving her a splitting headache. Of course, it could've also been the huge stone emerging from her skull

"What did you want from me again?"

"All I want is what I'm entitled to."

"You've got some nerve…"

"Supposedly, I get that from my mom."

Agony, having had her back turned to her visitor, whipped around and stepped out of the shadows. Raval shuddered, decidedly unable to adjust to her mother's new look.

"It still has the same effect on you, eh? Well, it does for me too… Every day. Every hour. Every second that goes by…"

The Veriun Dead woman walked forward slowly. She appeared to be gliding across the floor. The Protector of Septangel was struck by her empty gaze. Each time he came to see her, she looked a little more like those wandering, soulless things one might encounter in the creepier parts of the World of Twelve. What separated Agony from them was a clear head.

"I'd offer you a drink or snack, but I'm afraid I have nothing. Ever since I became… this, such things have been quite useless to me. It's incredible how much time I wasted eating and sleeping, back when I was still a Twelvian in full command of my being…"

"Really, you should be thanking me."

"You're utterly shameless…"

"I mean, now you and father aren't so different, right? Maybe it's time for you two to make up."

"How dare you compare me to that dreadful Chafer! Egh and I have nothing in common, you hear me? NOTHING!"

"Okay, take it easy… I don't want to start another family argument. Do what you like – you're adults, after all…"

Agony moved a bit closer. This time, her face was close enough to Raval for him to see every little line. Her body, covered in organic matter, her gray skin, her glassy eyes… All of it hit harder than usual. Agony had changed. For the first time, something he had caused made him feel a semblance of compassion. Very quickly, however, the Protector of Septangel came to his senses. He remembered why he had come.

"Where is it?"

"In your…"

Raval grabbed his mother's arm.

"WHERE IS IT?"

The voice of the Protector of Septangel echoed throughout the room, causing a few rockfalls.

"Now, now… Is that any way to talk to your mother?"

"You can't hide it forever. It's mine! MINE! YOU HEAR ME?!"

Agony began to roar with laughter. Then with increasing force. Raval was disconcerted.

"Ha ha ha ha! Honestly, look at you… My poor boy. It's like a child having a tantrum. You're better than this. Stop making a fool of yourself. You're wasting your time… The livid heart belongs to me. You've done enough damage already, don't you think? Look at me… LOOK AT ME!"

The necromancer stuck her face a couple of inches from her son's and looked right into his eyes.

"THIS – this is YOUR FAULT!"

Raval tried to break free, as now Agony was the one tightly gripping his wrist.

"You just couldn't wait. You tricked me! And here's the result! And now you want me to give up the only thing that might allow me to revert to my old self? You little BRAT!"

With these words, a tentacle emerged from Agony's legs and wrapped around one of Raval's. Then it lifted him in the air.

"Give me one good reason to not get rid of you…"

"You still need me…"

"Wrong answer."

The necromancer grinned ferociously. She appeared to have doubled in size, bursting with anger and resentment. She lifted Raval even higher, then started spinning him around in the air.

"You took everything from me! My body, my memory! MY IDENTITY!"

Another tentacle unfurled. The first one tossed Raval to it as if he were a mere gobbowl ball. The protector, now paralyzed, couldn't even scream anymore. He was suffocating.

"I'd told you to create the Veriun Dead…"

This time, each tentacle grabbed one of Raval's feet.

"Not to make me one of them!"

Raval felt searing pain spread throughout his thighs, from his groin to his knees. His muscles were straining. Not only that – his ligaments too… The tentacles pulled him on each side. As if they were fighting over him.

"DON'T DO THIS!" he managed to shout, in a final effort.

"GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON NOT TO!"

"I'M YOUR SON!"

Suddenly, the tentacles released the protector, who then struck several exposed rocks emerging from the walls, before falling heavily to the floor. Bruised and battered, Raval took several seconds to get up. From the back of the room came the sound of sobbing. Agony had returned to her initial size and now seemed as vulnerable as a child, curled up and crying her eyes out.

"You aren't ready… I won't push it this time."

"L… Lea… Leave me…"

"I'll be back, though. You can count on it."

"LEAVE ME!"

"One last thing. I need to make sure the next time I visit, you won't be so… impassioned."

"Wait, wha…? NO!"

Raval unleashed three chains from his hands. The first one was a cluster of earth and dust; the second was made of ice; and the last chain consisted entirely of air but was nevertheless solid. The chains wrapped around the necromancer's body, immobilizing her before she could even react.

"Lovely to see you again. Until next time… Mom."

***


Learn more about Agony's journey.