Here’s part 5 of Finnrick’s story. Hope you enjoy it!
The Monkey, Part 5
Finnrick and Tillie slept half the day away in each other’s arms. Sun rays trickled into the cave and brought its warmth with it. Tillie ran her hand through his hair and he relished every moment of it. He stirred against Tillie’s touch, opening his eyes to gaze into hers. The familiar smile eased him, more now than ever before. Last night’s events stayed fresh in his mind, but Tillie’s presence granted him the strength to face it. Mattis might have died, but he remained close. Tillie’s light had scrubbed the hatred from him and now his friend could serve as a valuable ally.
Finnrick stood slowly. A prickled numbness haunted his limbs, his body protesting the move from Tillie’s side. The memories of those horrible thoughts would not be soon forgotten. Also the possibility that Tillie’s intimacy was out of obligation.
“Look, Tillie.” Finnrick said, he stooped over and worked the feeling back into his legs. “I need you to know something.”
“I probably already know.” She chuckled to herself and stood.
“I love you, but it’s tainted.” Finnrick straightened and glanced back at her. “Something inside me is twisting that love into selfishness.”
Tillie studied his expression carefully and approached. “What do you mean?”
“Whatever you helped suppress.” Finnrick narrowed his eyes. “It led me to ignore the danger Mattis was in. Because of that, he’s dead. My lust for your affections killed Mattis.”
“An arrow ordered by the Usurper, killed Mattis.” Tillie turned him towards her with a tug at his shoulder. “You can’t blame yourself like that. It’s not your responsibility to save him or me.”
Finnrick considered her words, finding himself helpless in her arms.
“I know it’s what you want, but don’t beat yourself up over it. I need you to promise that if I die, you aren’t going to fall apart. This is important.”
“You not dying is important.” Finnrick tightened his face to a frown.
“You keeping your sanity is more important.” Tillie slipped her hands around his cheeks. “That thing inside you needs to be kept in check. Toying with your jealousy is only the beginning. If it consumes you, we have bigger issues than death. Mattis is proof of that.”
“Mattis isn’t dead?”
“No. Mattis is dead, he’s just able to come back.” She gave his cheeks a squeeze. “In a matter of speaking. Are you ready to try again? To call him I mean?”
“Yeah. I can do that. Especially now that I know he isn’t mad at me.” Finnrick stepped back from Tillie, tightened his hands into fists and exhaled slowly. “All I need to do is call him here.”
“I didn’t mean right now. It’s the middle of the day.” Tillie frowned.
“Why not now? I’m not summoning some sort of monster. It’s my best friend.” Finnrick shook his head. “I’m going to give it a shot.”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. He’ll be weaker now and not in a good way. His will wanes in the daytime and it’s a good chance he’ll attack you again.”
“We sorted things out.” Finnrick waved her off. “Come on. Trust me on this.”
“Finn, you should trust me on this.” Tillie planted her hands on her hips.
“Hey. I need to stay in control right? What good is that going to be if I don’t challenge myself?” Finn fixed his eyes on Tillie’s he knew her well enough when a risk settled before dangerous. Now that he was past the shock value of Mattis coming back, he could find comfort in the look of skepticism sitting on Tillie’s attractive features. “I’m right about this aren’t I? If my friendship with him is patched up, it should be ok.”
“In theory.” Tillie glanced away. “I guess–“
“Good. Then I’m going for it.” Finnrick turned, thrust his hand outward with a bold motion. “Mattis. Come to me.”
“Wait!” Tillie closed the gap as the room plunged into darkness.
The light of day slinked from the cave entrance and inky blackness pooled from the stone floor. Tillie winced against the chill in the cave all warmth fled with the light.
Mattis’s form materialized. His eyes empty and white. Black smoke rolled about him and settled him to a solid form. The specter of Mattis eyes focused on Finnrick who offered him a blade handle first.
“Welcome back. I was hoping you could help us out.” Finnrick smiled genuinely.
Mattis’ eyes shifted to the blade’s hilt. As he took it, his arm sagged. The blade made a dull clank against the stone.
“Oh right. Tillie was worried about that.” Finnrick shrugged a shoulder. Finnrick paced back a few steps. “You’re weaker in daylight right? Well nothing a little bit of training can’t fix.”
“What are you doing?”
“Sparring. We did it every day. Why not now?” Finnrick loosened his sling from his belt.
Mattis stared blankly. His eyes followed his friend unresponsively.
“So. I’ll start slow. Stop the rocks I send at you.” Finnrick loaded his sling and began to twirl. “Not gonna tell you where I’m gonna aim though!”
Mattis nodded. His blade dragged off the ground and raised to a ready stance.
“This is not a good idea.” Tillie frowned. She backpedaled a few steps to find refuge against the wall. “I don’t sense any part of Mattis in him.”
“I know him better than you. Watch.” Finnrick hastened his spin and released. The stone flew at Mattis’ head. He made no move to protect himself and the stone passed through him, distorting his darkened features.
“See?” Tille cringed as the stone bounced from the wall.
“He’s just stiff. Or maybe the rock isn’t a real threat. He just ignored it.” Finnrick loaded a second stone. “This one for real all ri–“
Mattis lunged at Finnrick, his blade stabbed narrowly near his head thanks to a deft dodge. . Mattis’ eyes stared calm and cold, wrenched the blade downwards, forcing Finnrick to retreat to one side.
“There we go. See? Right as rain.” Finnrick regained his composure and exhaled. “You don’t need to hold back. This is sparring you know. Like old times. You couldn’t beat me then, no way you’ll do it now.”
“Finnrick! He might not be tangible but the blade is! Stop this. Send him away.” Tillie shrieked when Mattis let out another swing, wide and lateral. Sparks erupted as his blade nicked the wall.
“It’s fine. This is what we always did. Nothing new. He never caught me once. Got pretty good at swatting down my stones too. Guess he lost that touch.” Finn loosed another stone. It landed square on the broadsword, sending Mattis off balance.
“I can still aim at it though! Come on! Let’s show Tillie what you’re made of!” Finnrick dodged swing after swing and responded with solid shots aimed at the blade. When Mattis had him cornered, the blade missed narrowly and lodged into the wall.
Finnrick jogged over to Tillie. “Watch. This next one. He’ll stop.”
“You’re scaring me Finn.” Tillie squirmed.
The stone loosed with a whistling howl. Mattis spun and cleaved the stone in twain. Sparks erupted around Mattis the two sections of stone clattered uselessly at his sides.
Shadow wrapped itself around the blade, not just at the hilt.
Finnrick let out a low whistle. “Impressive. Never knew that sword to be able to cut stone.”
“It isn’t. Mattis is powerful right now. I haven’t seen an imp take this sort of power in daylight. This is dangerous.”
“It’s Mattis. He’s special I tell you.” Finnrick grinned with his hands behind his head. “Wait? Imp?”
“It’s what Mattis is now.” Tillie lowered her eyes. “He’s nothing more than your servant.”
“No. Mattis is my friend.” Finnrick frowned. “He might not be able to talk in the day but he’s still him. Right mate?”
Mattis said nothing. He dropped his blade to the stone floor and melted away.
“What? I didn’t say to leave. Come on, Mattis.” Finnrick slid a hand into the dwindling shadow. “You’re not going to let a little thing like death stop you. You’re the most stubborn man alive. Well, sort of alive.”
The shadow didn’t respond. It vanished into the cold stone without another word.
“Fine. Be that way. You can fill me in at nightfall.” Finnrick stood. He rubbed his arm idly. “That’s how it works right Tillie?”
“Yes.” She looked away.
“Oh come on. I had things under control. And he wouldn’t have hurt you.”
“That’s not what I’m worried about Finn.” Tillie put her hand on his, turned it over palm up.
Inky blackness had begun to form in Finnrick’s palm.
“I’m afraid I might have contained it too late for the amount of power you hold.” Tillie fixed her eyes on his. “It’s only a matter of time before it consumes you.”