A primitive piece of flesh floats inside a skull filled with boiling liquid. Bones lie in perfect order underneath it. Cells begin to form an infinite network, a net that is more complicated than anything living in this world: a humanoid brain.
Then, like branches, empty veins spread around, but not upwards like on a tree. They fill out space, crisscrossing everywhere, shaping organs inside the blanket of bloody tissue. Eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin get structured.
The liquid is getting sucked up through his pores, composing his muscles beneath the sheet of skin and filling him up like water fills a balloon. He screams. He can’t spread his legs or arms because the shape that surrounds him blocks the way. Its sides are wide and spherelike, and the bottom of it is flat. A cauldron.
He finds the open top and grabs the edge. The joints in his fingers crunch like snapping twigs, while his body fluids are getting constructed out of the water. A name echoes in him. Enerymus. Yes. Enerymus the Cruel.
Enerymus emerges, steaming, the boiling mixture reaching up to his waist now that he stands. The damp, cold air in the hut makes him shiver, but he grins as the pain slowly evaporates. Neither heat nor cold can harm him anymore.
Through his first deep inhalation, he tries to identify the ingredients used for his reviving potion, testing his memory. He can smell perfume, ginger, plum, fox urine, newspapers, dragon grass, vulture claws and a human’s heart. All of them are correct, and his nose works as it should.
‘Enerymus,’ says a sobbing woman. The light of the fire dances on her wrinkled face.
Enerymus notices the hole above his head where the smoke leaves the small hut and enjoys the raindrops landing on his new skin. ‘Mother,’ he says, still looking up. ‘Fetch my robe, Mother.’
‘Yes, my Lord Son.’ She turns and grabs a long, black robe hanging on a vintage coat stand.
Enerymus steps out of the cauldron and gets dressed. ‘How long have I been gone, Mother?’
‘Almost a year.’
Enerymus closes his eyes. ‘One year. One year wasted. Rotting, eaten by worms.’
‘It was very difficult to get your remains back this time. The humans know that I can resurrect you. They heavily guarded your corpse in a place where we couldn’t use magic.’
‘My sweet Mother, you are one of the greatest witches of all time. If even you fail to accomplish a task easy as this one, say, who should I trust then? If it does take a year to you, who should be worthy of my service?’
‘I didn’t mean to anger you.’
‘What has been done, been done. We will begin to prepare. Now.’
‘Dear Son, I wish to speak to you about something first.’
‘Very well. But keep it short. There is much to do.’
She hesitates. ‘Enerymus, I participated in the council. We’ve made a decision, and we don’t want to fight anymore.’
Enerymus stands still. The wood around them begins to creak, resonating with his rising anger. A flash of lightning brightens up their faces for a moment, followed by the rumbling thunder.
‘We are tired of the hatred and bloodshed. Please, consider- ‘
‘What, my Mother? After all the cruelty humans did to our kind? Consider what? To live in the cold, the damp, hiding like cockroaches and worms? To forgive? To forget? Speak no more.’
‘If we don’t stop this war, there will be none of us left. We have chosen life. We possess magic, my Son. With magic, it is easy to hide. Easy to live.’
Enerymus grabs his mother’s throat and raises her into the air.
‘You are mocking me, you foolish witch. I’d rather die than lick the disgusting feet of humans. I’d rather die and remain dead than be a slaving dog. I’d rather die than hide with the cravens of my kind.’
‘Enerymus… Let me go,’ she says. Her legs kick in the air.
‘This is how it would be, Mother. Choking. Life would choke us slowly, and yet you ask me to yield.’
She grabs his hands and tries to break free, but her son is strong, his grip is firm. Blue, circling light gathers at his fingertips.
‘Please, Enerymus. I love you. I’m your mother, and I’ve seen you dead a hundred times. I cannot watch you die again. Please, listen to me. Think it over.’
‘You won’t see me die again, my Mother.’ And with that, he closes his fingers around her neck, crushing skin, flesh and bone. Life tingles in her eyes for a few desperate heartbeats, making Enerymus feel disgusted. He lets his mother’s corpse fall and watches her blood flowing into the cracks of the floor, painting the wood red.
He walks out of the small hut and sniffs the cold air in the darkness. The smell of rain, pines and wet soil enters his nostrils.
‘Forgive me, my Mother. I will win this war for you,’ he says and flies away.