She was gone: both of them. Claudia was strong, but Garnet was stronger, and in the end, Garnet had won. Wearing the princess’s body like a cloak, Garnet left, leaving Phren tangled in the ensnarement circle she had drawn: hastily, but it still worked.
Phren was furious with himself. It wasn’t like he was buried in sand. He was mostly free, except for one of his feet, the very tail of his essence. It was so little, and yet, he couldn’t pull free. But that didn’t stop him from pulling anyway.
When it became too hard, Phren stopped and settled to the ground, hugging his knees, letting imaginary tears fall from his eyes. Poor Claudia. Poor Cyril. He had stayed behind to protect his grandchild—grandchildren now—and yet when it came down to it, he might as well have stood by and watched for all the help he was. And now Claudia might never regain her body.
Phren glanced over at Mish’s dead body. Mish had seemed so nice, but it had been nothing but Garnet’s trick. Still, Phren had grown attached to him; the soldier, humbled and softened by an injury in battle. Phren put his hand on top of Mish’s and found that it was sucked down inside. He pulled it out and held it before his eyes. That was an odd sensation.
He tried again, and the same happened. It didn’t pull him like a whirlpool, but like a gentle suction. One he could fight or give into. Phren let his hand disappear deeper into Mish’s. The suction got stronger the further he put his hand. Phren reached up Mish’s arm until he was encased in flesh up to his shoulder. He tried to lift his arm out, but he couldn’t. He could pull it back out the way it came, but he couldn’t phase through it. When he tried, the arm moved.
It finally clicked in Phren’s mind what was going on. He was possessing a body, something he didn’t know he could do and hadn’t really wanted to do. He thought it would be harder than it was, but maybe that’s because the body was dead. Phren reached further in and his essence began to streamline in order to more easily travel up Mish’s arm. Phren let it happen. He just reached further and further and finally all of him was in the body except the piece of him that was stuck by the circle.
If anything happened to the circle, the spell would be broken, right? Isn’t that how these things worked? Excitement grew in Phren’s heart and Mish’s body smiled. He might not be able to muss the circle, but a solid body could.
Moving a body was harder than Phren had anticipated. It was like moving a puppet except with sensation, much of it being pain from bending and stretching the body in ways it wasn’t designed. Phren had forgotten the human body had so many rules for movement.
With some effort and ridiculous rolling and flailing, Phren finally managed to get Mish’s arm to brush against the dust circle, smearing it and breaking the seal.
Like a bent branch swinging back into place, Phren snapped free of the circle and cascaded fully into Mish’s body. He curled into a ball, spooked and still amazed by where he was. But then he looked up and saw light and he slowly let himself stretch into the limbs and senses. His face pressed up against the inside of Mish’s face and suddenly Phren could smell and hear and move. He felt the wind on his cheeks, he felt the cold on his damaged flesh-eyes. And something in his throat: a potential, an urge. Phren opened his mouth carefully and pushed air out.
He stopped and covered his mouth, except he ended up just hitting himself in the face. He tried again.
His chest tightened with emotion, but these eyes couldn’t cry, either. Phren didn’t care. He could speak. He could finally speak!
“Cyril,” he tried. “Claudia.” Their names felt lovely to say.
A/N: Arms only bend one way, legs only bend the other way, necks only go 180 degrees and no more. Why so many rules, body?
This is a bit of an older scene. Will it stay in the story? Probably. Will it look anything like this? Probably not. But that’s the wonder of storytelling: there are endless alternate universes, endless ways things could and might go.
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