Omake: Fisting Frampt
-This chapter was written in celebration of cross-posting to SpaceBattles. It points down on the plot, drops dung pies on characterization, and asks 'Well, What Is It!' to internal logic. Nothing within this chapter is canon to the story. You will miss absolutely nothing of value by skipping it.
My feet carried me deeper, despite the physical and mental exhaustion consuming my waking thoughts. The zipline harness had dug painfully into my sides, shimmying down the rotten ramparts had left splinters caught in silk, and I wasn't entirely sure that both my eardrums had survived the surprise demolition of the Hollows' tower. There was a wooden stake partially buried in my shoulder, and likely a massive bruise along my back from that Hollow who'd nearly brained me. Not to mention, the confrontation with an eldritch abomination dwelling within my soul. My powers of willful ignorance were fearsome, but even I was hard-pressed to selectively forget that particular memory.
"Let's just... take a break, for a moment?" The little ones readily agreed to my suggestion, their own tiny legs having struggled to keep up with my longer strides. Paragliding into a bottomless pit had been rather more excitement than the majority of my followers had expected. A scout reported a tiny alcove ahead, nestled between crudely formed statues and glowing green ooze dripping from the rocky walls, containing another of those bonfires with a twisted metal poker. My retinue and I entered the cozy hole, and curled up in a pile of bodies against the wall.
"Seems like I can't take five steps without something trying to kill me," I groused. "Cats, rats, giants dogs... What's next, giant laser-shooting butterflies?" I snorted at the absurdity of the idea. Whatever twisted god had created this world surely couldn't stoop that low.
"Dark and full of terrors; I've noticed."
...I sought to say 'A shit-hole,' my Lady, one of many spiders on my chest replied.
"I couldn't agree more..." Right now, though, nothing was trying to kill me. No petrifying rats, no zombie-dogs, no suicidally stupid Hollows. It was just me, a blanket of spiders, and the warmth of the bonfire.
It... really was comforting, watching the flames. How they danced in the darkness. I felt... safe, here, in this moment, like I hadn't in a long time. Like I could just...
My eyes snapped open, a line of drool snapping off my chin as I jerked awake. "Whazza-whoozit?" The little ones perched on the crown of my head slipped off, squeaking as they landed in my lap. "Right, need to keep going."
I made my exit from the comfort of my little nest, fanning out scouts and weavers to deal with any threats in the gloomy cave. Right away, my foresight bore fruit: a scout gave me ample warning for the wooden stake flying for my chest. Feeling confident, I snapped forward with preternatural speed to bat the projectile out of the air. Something I'd never try with a bullet, but with a wooden bolt, ample warning and a perfect sense of my surroundings...
"Son of a bitch!" I hissed as the bolt impacted my chest, sinking into the silk and burying the sharpened tip several inches within my flesh. I'd used the wrong goddamn arm. The one I didn't fucking have. "Fuck this fucking shitty-ass cave with its goddamn shitty art pieces!" I stomped off backwards, my spiders following worriedly, keeping a safe distance as my foul tirade against those fucking statues continued.
Great Sovereign, where are you going?! The nervous voice called from my shoulder.
"I'm getting a fucking arm, dammit!" I didn't care how. I didn't care what it looked like, or if I had to tear it off one of those still-moving corpses myself. I was not going to take one more step in this cave without one.
Far above, in the dying light of the surface world, Lenigrast had a dark premonition. His half-Hollowed green skin paled, as cold sweat dripped down his spine. His head twisted, almost unwillingly, towards the Pit in the center of Majula. Just as a black silk-clad arm shot over the rim, fingers digging into the stone as a woman in fearsome armor clawed her way up.
"Taylor, lass! Is that you?" The words had scarcely left his lips before the woman's head snapped in his direction, cold eyes boring into his own. Try as he might, the blacksmith could not tear his eyes away; if he did, he was certain his life would be forfeit.
"I've... been climbing..." A voice straight from the Abyss hissed and chittered, coming from all directions at once. In the distance, he'd swear the sounds of babies crying and soldiers whimpering in fear could be heard. Clearly, it came from the Witch, though her lips never moved; merely remained locked in a rictus of hate and fury. "for fucking HOURS! And do you know why?!" The last word was a screech in his ears, coming from directly behind him. He twisted about to spot the source, certain a monster loomed behind him. There was nothing there.
When he turned back around, there she was. The Witch stood close enough to kiss him, or more likely tear out his throat. Lenigrast was a stern, hard man, but in that moment... the only thing keeping a startled, girlish yelp from escaping his lips was the fear that such would be the last sound he ever made. "So you can make me an arm, Lennie!" The words were sweet and soft, followed by a hand on his cheek. He nearly swallowed his tongue out of terror, hands raised in supplications.
"I, ah... Lass, that is, Lady, ah... I fear such is beyond my humble talents!"
"Then tell me who can!" The transformation from kind young woman to frightful witch took place right before his eyes, the nails of her armored hand sinking into his face.
"MacDuff! MacDuff the Mad!" He shouted his answer, condemning a man he barely knew to a fate he couldn't imagine. The crazed master smith was the only one he knew of superior to himself, capable of working wonders beyond anything Lenigrast had produced.
"And where can I find 'Macduff the Mad'?" The Witch's lips sounded out the name amidst the chittering chorus of her black speech, as though tasting the air for her next victim.
"The Lost Bastille, across the sea! Please, I know naught more!" He'd take no shame in begging for his life... not from this nightmare.
"Thanks, Lennie! You've been very helpful." Once more a seemingly normal girl, Taylor pat his cheek before ambling off. The once-proud smith sank to his knees, sobbing.
"Forgive me, Duffie, for the terror I've brought upon you..."
"Flame, dear Flame..." The mantra was repeated as he swung his hammer, pounding the damnably stubborn metal into shape. "Shape up, will ye!" Pound, pound, pound... The metal barely budged, but he had to coax it along...
"Oh-hoh ho ho... That's it! Yes, that's the-" Without any warning, a massive Bang! shook the workshop, rubble flying through the air. As a chunk of masonry flew for his head, he slapped it out of the air with the head of his hammer... Revealing a woman standing there, dressed in fine silks and thick armored plating. Interestingly, there wasn't a stitch of steel on the armor... He could fix that, of course.
"You." The voice was cold steel quenched in hateful acid, a rusty blade in the small of his back. Her eyes were twin embers, narrowed dangerously and burning hot. Burning hot...
"Flame, dear Flame..."
"Hey!" The woman's hand snapped out and caught his hammer mid-stroke, scattering the metal he'd been shaping like so much mist. His head snapped up, mouth open to rebuke her... and fell short at the sheer single-minded intensity directed solely at him.
"Make me a goddamn arm."
"Are... Are ye some-aught imbecilic, lassie?! A feckin' arm! What, like ah can just whip up the joints n' articulations for an arm! Go ask a flesh-crafter, ye daft twat!" Her grip tightened on his wrist, as...tiny...little...creatures crawled from her hand to his. "What in the blazes?!" He moved to slap the critters off, only to stop as the point of a thick, heavy dagger found its way to the tip of his nose.
"I wasn't asking." He was certain, then, that the sound had come from the little monsters, not the Witch- for that was clearly what she was. "Make me an arm or find me somebody who can." He swallowed drily, mindful of the fangs poised along his neck as well as the steel hovering by his face. If it had come to this... Perhaps it was time.
"Fine, fine! Ye mad lass, I'll give ye what ye want."
"You'll make me an arm?" The voice was both dubious and hopeful, a strange tone to be carried by such frightful speech.
"Nay, I make poky things. Some choppies, a few smashies, but arms are grippies. Cannae do it." Before the blade could thrust forth into his eye socket, he raised his hands in a placating gesture and made to stand up. "But! But! I've got some-aught to help ye!" As the blade was warily lowered, he got up and turned around to open the chest he was sitting on. Within was a glowing orb, incomprehensible in its reality-breaking presence.
"What's that?" Her eyes had narrowed warily as she instinctively backed up, blade kept at the ready.
"It's a MacDuffin!" He proudly raised the magical artifact to the sky, as it tore open a portal into the unknown.
From the portal, a massive, gangly black arm shot out and seized the Witch, dragging her kicking and screaming into the beyond.
"Flame, dear Flame... Hmph! Hmph! We've got a wild one here!" Swinging his hammer against the metal...
I was tossed unceremoniously onto a cold stone floor, ribs aching from the grasp of that massive hand. Something within me recognized it, but... distantly, as though from a past life. "I'd better get a really fucking nice arm out of this..."
"Talkin' to yerself, are we?" A thick, gravelly voice called out. "Nay matter. We've all gone a bit bonkers, haven't we lass?" Sitting by an anvil was... the biggest, hairiest man I'd ever seen. A white, billowing mane of hair flowed into an equally long and impressive beard, covering a thickly muscled and glistening sweaty chest. I felt, instinctively, that I should not fuck with this guy. Like he could suplex Leviathan and walk away laughing.
"Uh..." My inelegant reply was met with a hearty guffaw, the smith's hammer keeping rhythm to the deep belly laughs.
"An arm, ye said? Aye, I make arms." My heart soared with hope. Could it be? Could this smith truly...? Before I got carried away, I had to make sure.
"You mean the grippy kind, right? Not the choppy?"
"What, ye take ol' Andre for a fool? 'Course I make the grippy kinds! What kind'o half-arsed smith can't make a grippy-arm?" As I sat up, looking up at this great smith with the first flickers of hope in my heart since waking in this world, my eyes filled with tears.
"Please... could you make me an arm?"
"Oh, I'll do better than just 'an arm'! Ol' Andre will make ye the best arm ever seen!" His eyes smoldered with unbridled passion as he pulled a lump of steel out from a nearby crate. Setting it on his anvil, his hammer came down like the fist of a hairy god. Again, and again, and again, the metal sang as it was pounded into shape. Faster and faster, his hammer descended, the clangs blending together into a single, continuous chime, the hammer a mere blur. Light poured from the metal as it was shaped, blinding in its gross incandescence.
"HA!" With a triumphant shout and a last, deafening clang, he hefted the masterpiece into the air. It... didn't look like much, to be honest.
"This is... the best arm ever seen?" I couldn't help but feel some doubt at the claim. It just looked like a pair of tubes with a vaguely hand-shaped end and some straps for my stump.
"Ye bet yer Undead bippy it is!" He tossed the hunk of metal at me, nearly bowling me over in the process. As I secured the thing to my arm with the help of the little ones, Andre rummaged around in his crate for a moment. "And a little some-aught to go along with it! Been holding onto this beauty, in case some one-armed adventurer ever asked for a metal arm... Seemed like a good idea." As he spoke, an absolutely massive weapon was drawn from the crate.
It was too big to be called a sword. Massive, thick, heavy, and... he was tossing it one-handed right at me. "No, no, n-!"
He gazed upwards, the false light of the sunless sky shining down on him. Rather than finding this disheartening, Solaire was encouraged by this sight. In his quest to find the Sun, an illusion was better than no light at all.
"...Like a magnificent father..." he muttered, gazing lovingly at the sky.
He'd planned on staying here for some time, praying and preparing for the next leg of his journey, but... he couldn't find the inner peace needed for deep prayer. Some dark premonition occupied his thoughts, the certainty that something terrible was about to happen.
In the distance, on one of the Undead Burg bridges, something caught his eye. A bright light, growing larger by the moment. "Could... could it be?" His voice faint with hope, Solaire adjusted the visor on his helmet. Peering forward until...
"GRIFFIIIIIITH!" The scream of fury shook his very soul.
"By the Sun!" He shouted, diving for cover as a massive body sailed through the air. A Taurus demon, with an absolutely massive blade buried in its chest... And hanging on to that blade's handle, a strangely dressed woman, her right arm glinting in the sun as she repeatedly fired cannon-balls into the blasted creature.
As the duo crashed through the gate-house he stood by, sending stones flying everywhere, the woman nimbly hopped off, leaving both demon and giant blade where they lay. "Doesn't feel right..." she muttered. "Itches... What do you mean, that was your great-grandfather?!" Her head snapped about, shouting at seemingly empty air.
Solaire hid behind a stone pillar, peeking out as the crazed woman unstrapped the metal prosthetic, leaving the deadly attachment to thump to the ground. "Gonna get me a real nice arm..."
He was silently grateful that there would be no jolly cooperation with that mad Witch...
Far below Lordran, in the ruins of Izalith, a giant, disfigured child moaned in agony. His flesh covered in blistering sores constantly weeping lava, it was all he could do not to curl into a pitiful ball.
He welcomed it, when the soft patter of footsteps distracted him from the ceaseless pain. "Hey, buddy... That's a real nice arm you got there." The tiny woman's eyes were barely visible to the boy, but the cold sweat of fear along his spine at their sight was an almost pleasant sensation compared to the ever-present, scorching heat.
The lady... wanted his arm? He laid the disfigured limb on the stone before her, mouth open in a toothless smile. He could do that! It had been so long since he'd helped anybody, and this lady dressed like his sisters. Maybe, if he were a good boy, she's stay and talk. It had been so long since he'd had anybody to talk to... His youngest sister never bothered to reply, and big sister Quelaag never visited.
The lady took a long, hard look at his arm... before sighing and walking away. "Nope. Can't do it." His smile fell into a sad frown, burning eyebrows twisting into confusion. Was it something he said?
This was it. It had to be. The best arm ever, waiting just beyond this... fog gate. I'd taken one look at it, and some corner of my soul had shouted Mine! So I was going to take it... no matter how strongly the current owner was attached to it.
I stepped through the fog, and found no ground beneath my feet on the other end. Falling, I let out a startled scream- until finding myself at a sudden, painless stop. "Huh." I patted myself off as I rose to my feet, marveling at whatever magic was placed in this area.
Through the surrounding pitch black of the Abyss, I felt them. Eyes. Great, red eyes, focused on me with some measure of incredulity.
"Daughter..." A massive, hunched figure stepped forward, barely visible in the oppressive gloom. "How are you here?"
"Gimme your fucking arm, old man!" I shouted back, readying my dagger.
"Insolence... Allow your elder to teach you respect." From above, a massive, gnarly black hand descended... Only to find itself suddenly detached from its owner. In the darkness, a glimmering thread of razor-sharp silk reflected Manus' disbelieving red eyes. Thank you, Clockblocker and Echidna!
A howl of pain echoed through the Abyss as my spiders attached their makeshift crane to the arm. A boulder was carefully pushed off a ledge from above, forming a counter-weight to the arm. I hopped on as it rose out of the Abyss, bending over to shout one final message to the Father of the Abyss.
"You're not my real dad!"
There it was. I had it. The best arm ever, attached to my stump through a silk sling, animated by the Abyss within me. The question was... "What do I do with this?"
What do you wish to do, Great Sovereign?
Maybe it was the arm talking, influencing me with Manus' will, but... "I... dunno why, but I have this urge to find a talking snake and turn him into a sock-puppet." Whoever this 'Frampt' was, I had to assume he was a massive asshole. That half of my soul belonging to the Abyss hated him.
Gentle snoring was interrupted by the cold sweat of fear. Considering Primordial Serpents were cold-blooded, that was no trifling thing. Frampt's peaceful slumber was shattered, as his great head rose from below to survey Firelink Shrine. "The... The Bells of Awakening?"
There, standing at the entrance to the water-logged, overgrown temple, was... A woman. A woman, toting a massive, black arm, several times larger than her entire body. Moving it about carried her along with it, as though it were a separate creature merely taking her along for the ride. Her smile was anything but, as red eyes shone up at him, malicious intent clear. "Nope."
He cowered back, teeth clacking nervously. "The Lordvessel...?"
"Try again." Nervous gas escaped him, his eyes incapable of meeting those twin beacons of evil.
"...First Flame...?" What was it? Why was she here?!
"That thing... your Dark Hole. Give it to me!"
My eyes blearily blinked open, hand raising to rub the sleep from them. "How long...?" I felt a little one about to answer, leg raised as though he were a student in class. "Right, time, convoluted." His leg slowly lowered. I looked down at the stump of my right arm reproachfully. "All a dream, huh?" That had been... weird. People I didn't know, places I'd never been... Had the Abyssal fragments affected me more than I'd realized?
I rose to my feet and rolled my shoulders, stretching out the last bits of stiffness. "Right, almost at the bottom, now..." And then what? As I stepped out of the alcove, pondering why, exactly, I kept pushing downward... a wooden stake whizzed by, smashing into my chest and penetrating several inches deep. Through the pain, as I ripped the offending projectile out, there was only one thought on my mind: God fucking dammit. I need an arm.