“Look at me, human,” said the spirit.
Innu obeyed and looked up; it was always best to do so with nature spirits unless you had a very important reason not to. His eyes met the hollow darkness of the snake’s. It flicked its tongue once again.
“You have a darkness in you,” said the snake. “You have not been careful.”
“I try not to let my fear stop me from helping spirits,” said Innu.
The snake narrowed its eyes; it flicked its tongue. “You have consumed something harmful and you must remove it before it is too late.”
“Names mean nothing to it,” replied the snake with another flick. “As it becomes whomever it inhabits. It has deceived you, human, as it has deceived thousands before you.”
Innu was quiet for a moment, thinking.
“What will happen if I do not expel it?” he asked.
“It will destroy you and, in time, everyone around you. You will lose yourself. It will grow and spread forever.”
“Dear master, will you help me remove it?”
The snake flicked its tongue, flicked its shimmering tail. “Your mouth asks me to remove it, yet your heart begs me not to.”
“Please, spirit, help me. My heart is weak.”
“Not so fast!”
Innu’s eyes shot open but he couldn’t see anything beyond the snake’s glow.
The slap of sandals, the huffing of breath. The echoes of the shout.
Something swiped past Innu’s face, directly through the snake spirit. The snake gave a shudder and then let loose a shriek of rage that ached behind Innu’s eardrums.
It broke apart like smoke but its glowing essence still hung in the air.
Innu lunged forward at the dark shape behind the essence in a panicked rage.
“What in hel are you doing?” he demanded, forcing the figure away from the mist. “Get away from him!” he shouted, pushing the intruder.
The attacker slipped in the sand and fell backwards into the puddle of water. Innu held tight and pinned him to the ground, desperate to give the snake a chance to collect itself. He pressed his arm into the man’s throat.
“Stay away from him or I’ll—“
His eyes finally focused in the darkness and he saw, for the first time, the man with whom he fought. He was rotund with tight cheeks that buried his small round glasses. He had two white braids of what remained of long hair. He wore a light robe with a pouch-belt bulging with supplies. He held a staff in one hand and in the other, he held a torch. The torch light lit his features when it swung close.
“C-Calvean?” Innu squeaked out.
The man’s face, previously scrunched in fierce battle, now relaxed and his bushy white eyebrows receded. “How do you know me, foreigner?” he asked.
“It’s—I’m Innu,” Innu said.
Calvean still held him tight against the ground as he worked it out. “Garnet’s boy?”
Innu nodded quickly. It was only then that Calvean climbed off of Innu and helped him to his feet. The old necromancer attempted to brush the caked sand out of the folds in the sleeves of Innu’s robe.
“What’re you, why are you here?” Calvean asked. “What are you doing down here with nature spirits?”
“What are you doing scattering their essences?” demanded Innu, yanking his robe behind him. “Like a common spirit peddler?”
If Calvean was offended, he didn’t show it.
“I—“ he smiled and huffed a laugh. “Let’s not argue the minute we’ve reunited. Come here.” He stepped towards Innu and wrapped him in his arms.
After a moment of shocked uncertainty, Innu found his own arms floating up and around Calvean and he buried his head in his old friend’s shoulder.
A/N: Let’s have some tea, some cake, and THEN we’ll argue. Sound good?