Codex Nekromantia: Section 22

"Where the fuck is it?" Dan yelled. He shoved a bucket of dead mice off of the table. It crashed to the concrete floor with a bang. "Where the fuck is the Codex?" With another furious wave of his arms he sent a pair of brass scales clattering against the bucket.

"Where, indeed," Arkephalous said.

"Here's the Mortis Memorandum and Zubazzeh's Grimoire of Cadavers, but no Codex Nekromantia!"

"And who could have taken it?" Arkephalous asked, his voice the quiet rattle of a traveler dying alone on a forgotten road. "Who knew where it was? Who is not here in this basement assisting us in our search?"

"Ravilious. Fuck!" Dan said, slamming his fist on the table. "That little worm. I should have known. I should never have trusted him."

"It was he who trusted you, my apprentice. He was the one who found it. You were the one who took it from him, as you should have, but you failed to mind it afterwards. A thief must protect his acquisitions not only from those honest men who seek to take it, but also from his fellow thieves. This is your mistake, and you must rectify it. We need the Codex Nekromantia."

Dan's face reddened and he clenched his fists, but he knelt before Arkephalous' grim visage, still noble even after centuries of decay had taken their toll.

"I will, my lord, but please give me guidance. Give me assistance. Give me control of the Fiends so that I may hunt down that traitor and mete out punishment for his transgressions," Dan said. He grit his teeth.

Arkephalous and Dan were bathed in the harsh glare of construction lamps. The light threw shadows from the root-like pillars of concrete that supported the countless levels of the library above. And in the inky darkness, something waved a lot of tentacles.

"I do not reward failure. However, I need the Codex Nekromantia returned to me. Therefore, I will give you one of the Four Fiends to assist you," Arkephalous said. "Stand now, apprentice."

Dan stood up.

Arkephalous held up one grey hand and Dan saw his tendons flex. Two of the construction lights shattered. The glass from their bulbs tinkled to the floor. He could sense movement, something lurching towards them. The darkness near Arkephalous seemed to have depth and texture. It stopped on the edge of the pool of light.

"Shiibazz," Arkephalous said, "the Fourth and Final of the Lesser Children of Calamignon, Mother of Pain. I bind your being to Dan. Let your pain be his, and his pain be yours. Let you revel in his victory and gnash your many mouths in his defeat. His word shall be your command, and his thought shall be your thought. As you are bound to me, now be bound to him."

The shadow writhed.

"Take Shiibazz and return the Codex Nekromantia to the future emperor of this land!" Arkephalous said.

"I will, my lord," Dan said. His head was bowed, so Arkephalous did not see the grin spreading across his face. His plan was working perfectly.

"Let the binding be complete!" Arkephalous said.

A flash of pain sent Dan to the floor with the bucket and the brass scales.

"What's, urgh, happening?" Dan cried, in agony.

"You are now bound, body and soul, to Shiibazz, the Fourth and Final of the Lesser Children of Calamignon, Mother of Pain. The barriers between your thoughts and feelings have been sundered. All of your experiences are shared. And that includes the blinding torment experienced every second of every day by this abomination."

Arkephalous' teeth were permanently exposed in a smile, and he left them that way as he stepped into the shadows, leaving Dan screaming on the concrete floor.

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