Friday, May 2, 2014

SHADEM

The story goes that the first golem rose from the stones of a blood soaked battlefield. The blood was that of the first shadem’s kin. The blood of his father and mother. They say the murderers of his clan came for him and that the earth itself rose up to save the boy, that it took on the shape of a warrior twenty feet tall that destroied every last one of the killers.

I believe that part. I’ve seen what your run-of-the-mill eight foot golem can do under the command of a kid so grief stricken that they lose themselves in the rage. It’s not pretty.

Some stories say the shadem was born on that battlefield that day. That doesn’t make sense to me. You must have conscious thought to raise a golem. It’s like… how to explain this? How do you explain light to a blind man? It is like realizing that you have an extra limb—no!—a whole extra body connected to you that you’ve never known about and has fallen asleep. You focus, scream at the thing to move but it's nothing but numbness and prickles. That’s why I don’t think a baby raised the first golem. They can’t even control the limbs they can feel. But a kid, one who’s five or six, that’s different. At that age you’re aware of everything around you and if the first shadem was powerful enough to raise one on his first try he’d have long been aware of the great stone body sleeping beneath his feet.

Kid must have had a shock when that thing first rose. Even when you’ve been prepared for it like I was, it’s terrifying and exhilarating. Oh Great Creator! That feeling when the earth beneath your feet first twitches at your command! The only thing that compares is when you see it actually rise.

Everyone’s is different. Some are similar but they’re none of them the same. Mine—Aru—is a towering brute with a sort of hook-beaked bird head and massive hands that practically drag on the ground. I like him. He’s scary as an avalanche coming straight for you. I’ll be sad when he goes.

They all go sooner or later, around the time boys start getting wispy beards and girls start getting curves. No one knows why. They say it’s an innocence thing—like being able to ride a unicorn or something stupid like that. But I don’t think innocence has nothing to do with commanding these behemoths of stone. I know, because I’m no innocent. I’m paid well to set Aru against a clan’s enemies. I’ve seen him covered in the blood and gore of pulped men. I’ve set him to fight other golems, shattering stone and earth until only he remains and the poor shadem who’s lost the golem, lays twitching in the dirt. A shadem that looses a golem usually doesn’t survive.

No. Innocence has nothing to do with it.

~SJA

Some images © Galyna Andrushko | Dreamstime.com

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