In a moment, he’s awake. His limbs twist, as he forces his papery form to stand upright, and there’s silence and fog and emptiness all around.
He takes his first shaky step, unsteady and weak, paddling forward on shallow water.
Looking for something he doesn’t know yet.
He revels on sensations, savouring every little stimulation he can get, craving the touch of the cool droplets on his ankles, the splashing sounds ringing into his ears like a barely forgotten melody.
He was nothing and now he’s alive.
He feels it, like a silk languid touch lurking just under his skin, prodding, nudging him to move.
So, he steps forward, hazy shapes towering in front of him, crumbled ruins of old.
A statue stands yet, a hollow sword tightly embedded in its grasp, metal shining in the dim light of this ghostly place. He reaches for it, letting his spidery fingers run on the sharp blade, so cold to the touch.
How he craves this little thing, something to call his own, for he has nothing.
A pull it’s all it takes; suddenly its stony cage yields and the sword is finally in his hands, a comforting weight truly, like its very existence was meant for him.
He has just a moment to appreciate the exquisite twist of the engraved hilt and the carved hole right at its core – he kind of likes the irony, a bare knight with an hollow weapon – and then the gate opens.
Something calls, he needs to go.
The battle is fast and ruthless, blow after blow the hooded figure standing in front of him gets more and more relentless. Maybe there’s a reason for this encounter, he has not the time to think about it now nor try to rationalize it, dodging and hardening in time with the pace set by this brutal dance.
His ghostly opponent is quick and unforgiving, it’s not exactly pain that he feels with each hit from its sword – he has not a real body anyway – it’s more like a dull ache reverberating into his very being.
It awakens something in him, he’s burning, he wants to live.
The last moments of the encounter are sharp and sudden, the ghost jumps at him, stabbing the wet foggy ground instead and he lands his final blow with a deadly twist of his gnarly arms.
Suddenly a bell rings, low and haunting chimes resonating through the mist, and the spectral figure appears finally sated. He has just a moment to clutch at his sword when an abyssal creature emerges from the watery depths of the ground and swallows him.
It’s almost weird to be surprised at this point, everything that happened so far actually makes little sense as it is, but he has barely the time to panic, as he’s engulfed by the dark void of the creature’s insides, that he finds himself laid on solid ground; and instead of squishy bowels there’s soft grass and rocks under his feet – something he’s not going to complain about to be fair.
And then it strikes him again.
He feels it so near now, sheer anticipation making his fingers twitch. There’s a small passage carved in the rocks in front of him, and he crawls through the hole with reckless hunger. A small path trails in front of the little cave, he makes haste, stumbling impatient to the small clearing at its end and he finally sees it.
A hunched figure lays against the rocky wall of the glade, head reclined on his chest, frozen in time with the stillness of death.
The flesh calls him.
His heart trembles. He wasn’t sure to have one – he isn’t yet to be honest – but the deafening beating he hears and the loud thumping shaking his chest surely remind him he’s at least had one at some point.
He kneels in front of the fallen knight, his knight – for he’s sure he’s meant for him – and touches the cold surface of the armour with reverence, as if he’s scared he’d break him with a careless touch.
Bare instinct and the call of flesh take over in an instant, he sinks his hands into the engraved holes of the helmet, touching the face underneath with the tip of his fingers, and after a moment he’s the knight and the knight is him.
He revels in the embrace of his new body, still a little tight at the edges, getting used to new limbs and new sensations. The world looks much brighter now, the greens and reds around him shining almost blinding, sounds are clearer, the quiet croaking of the frogs and a the faint notes of a lute being played somewhere near.
He raises on steady legs, and looks at the armoured hands, his hands, as he moves and tests his new range of motion and twirls easily his sword through the air with renewed strength, the pure satisfaction of satiated hunger settling deep inside him.
Whatever the force or divine’s will that called him back to life, whatever the purpose he’s meant to have and has yet to discover, now he’s ready.