“You know, for a wise, old—“
“—stone-kissing necromancer, you’re kind of a weevil.”
“I am not—“
“That guy used to be your friend, is your friend, and you made him feel like spit. Who cares if you two have different ideas?” demanded Cyril.
“I do!” said Innu.
“Well I don’t.” Cyril frowned deeply. “Here I thought that you were all alone like me, but it turns out you have loads of people who love you and you spit in their faces because of your ‘ideals.’”
Innu’s pale lips were in a thin line. “Anything else?” he asked dangerously.
“Yeah,” continued Cyril, steamed. “You’re selfish and inconsiderate and…and…stupid!”
Kill him! Kill him!
“Yeah! And I’m not convinced you know anything about necromancy! My parents chose a terrible teacher to pawn me off to.”
Innu was trying to breathe away his anger like always, but it wasn’t working. The spirits inside him were all screaming at once and his chest twinged from their swelling rage.
Innu finally understood the hungry spirit. There was an underlying intention and emotion he hadn’t caught onto before: something dark but solid, real in a terrible way, like lifting a rug and finding maggots.
Innu approached Cyril, who was still steaming at the peak of aggression. Closer and closer he came as though in a trance.
Innu wanted to silence him. He wanted to swallow him whole. He wanted his energy. He wanted to bite into his flesh—
Innu covered his mouth in terror and backed away, heart pounding. His limbs shook with the shock of what he had almost done.
What the gods was going on?
“Yeah, that’s right!” said Cyril, assuming that his goading is what had shocked Innu. “I’ve figured you out. I know you have no real necromantic talent. That’s why you haven’t taught me anything. Just because I’ve never left the castle until now doesn’t mean I’m stupid—“
“Please leave,” said Innu, still covering his mouth.
That hunger hadn’t died away and Innu couldn’t hear the hungry spirit anymore. His mind scanned through every possible explanation—something he did wrong with the absorption, or something he was doing now—and he couldn’t understand it. All he knew was that the demonic urge wasn’t going away.
Cyril stopped his rampage. “What?”
“Leave,” Innu repeated.
“Why are you holding your mouth like that?”
“Something’s not right and I can’t deal with you right now.”
Innu hadn’t meant to be offensive, but he had managed to say the one thing Cyril couldn’t stomach hearing. The thing he had heard all his life, no doubt. That he was too much to handle. That he needed to go away and give people a break.
“Fine,” Cyril snapped, “I’ll go. Actually, I think I’ll go find Calvean and ask to be his apprentice.”
Innu stared at him in pained silence. Calvean was a spirit-slaver, but he would take good care of Cyril. Calvean was kind to the living.
Cyril picked up his bag. “Whatever. I’m going. I see his tower from here.”
Innu lowered his shaking hands from his face, his mind clearing a little. “I’ll come get you once I figure this out—“
Cyril set off before he had finished.
Innu was sad, but he had other things to think about. Like, where the hungry ghost had gone. No matter how deep Innu plunged into his own mind, he couldn’t find any taste of it. It hadn’t left him, either, because he would have seen it and if he hadn’t seen it, he would have definitely felt it.
Innu had only had one spirit gain enough strength to leave his body and ascend, but it left quite an imprint on his mind, and body for that matter. It was a slow, tearing feeling, like separating two things that should not be separated. Like tearing off the top of a blister, or peeling off the wet clothes that had frozen to his skin in the breathlessly cold mid-winter.
When the ghost had peeled itself from Innu, it had left through his eyes and mouth: probably pretty horrific to watch, but it had happened when Innu was alone in a cave in the middle of the night, so he didn’t really know.
What he did notice, the next morning, were the little white scars in the corners of his eyes and mouth, like the scars lightening leaves when it escapes into the sky. Fortunately, the scars were so thin and translucent that they were only visible if you were looking for them. They’d probably become more pronounced as more spirits matured and left, but Innu didn’t mind. They would be like tattoos, attesting to a great adventure.
There was no way a ghost could ascend from Innu without him knowing. That being the fact, Innu knew that the hungry spirit had not ascended and because it hadn’t ascended, it must still be inside him. But he was nowhere to be found and Innu had almost bitten his apprentice. He hoped this was an easy fix, because he needed to get it dealt with as soon as possible.
A/N: One of the reasons for taking Cyril as an apprentice was so that Innu could finally know whether the ascension looked creepy or not. It hurt, so Innu hoped it looked at least a little creepy.