Smoke drifted upward and around Sethan as he lowered his shoulder. The crooked stool underneath him offered no comfort. He swore at this point his arse could make rocks seem soft like blankets at this rate from the stiffness. Didn’t help that his bones still ached from the fight too, especially his right arm. Why couldn’t the process be less pain inducing? The taste of blood still lingered in his mouth, metallic and salty, and melded with the smoky taste. At least the air didn’t smell half bad.
He adjusted his pipe a bit, watching the musky fog rise up; where’s a pint or two when he needed one badly. Then leaned back and called into the bleak bar, tone coarse and dry.
“Oy, old geezer… got any drinks?”
“Aye, let me get ya one,” the reply came from the next room, worn and gruffled. The voice of a typical old man. “Any preferences?”
“Cider,” Sethan replied, stretching his stiff legs. He heard a bone or two crack and released a short groan of relief. Too much running and laying made his legs feel dead, well at least they could feel such.
Footsteps reached his ears and his humble host came shuffling through the door, grasping a bottle of fine cider in one hand and two mugs in the other. His host was looking weary, with a few wrinkles etched upon his hollowed face. Strands of grey melded together with the dusky strands of hair perched upon his head, not doing a fine job on covering the growing baldness that threatened to emerge. His eyes, though, were full of alert - sharp and keen like a bird of prey gazing out into the horizon.
“If ya expecting quality, gonna drop the bucket for ya,” the old man stated, plopping the cider down on the table. In a single movement, the top fell off and the smell of cider filled the air. “It’s the horse shit cider.”
“Oh don’t worry, I expected nothing less!” Sethan reassured with a faint chuckle as he glanced around the room. “Dusty shelves, dampening walls, shady customers, and a crooked old tender. A cheap end bar that has style. I like it, old man.”
The bar was indeed such - barely lit by the little oil lamps upon the wall. Heavy curtains drawn over the windows, dampening the heavy downfall from outside. The walls were of stone worn away by many years, bearing many shelves full of dirty bottles and kegs. A few floorboards creaked dreadfully when stepped, while the crimson rug failed at its job of prettying up the place, it was host to moth holes and dirt. The bar area was cramped with ancient tables, lacking room to move even with the chairs stacked upon the table. The lingering scent of smoke and alcohol dwelling in the air, even long hours after the customers had left.
The bartender guffawed as he poured out a pint for his guest. Sethan took out his pipe and extinguished the flame within, then promptly swiped the pint and downed it fast. His throat relieved as thirst was quenched. Already, the aching of his bones were fading and the stool he was on was now starting to feel more comfortable. He downed it all and lowered the cup, noting the old man had now sat at the opposite side of the bar. His own pint nursed within his hands.
“Cheers… for the drink and getting me somewhere safe,” Sethan spoke up.
“You’re welcome. But mafficking a Cadaver, eh? Definitely can say yer no coward,” the old man stated before taking a sip. The glass was put down with a simple thud. “Yet if it weren’t for what I saw, I would say yer a daft arsed fool for going out and fighting one of those fucking monsters!”
Sethan smirked from behind his overgrown beard, adjusting his pipe. “Straight to the point, eh? You would not be the first, mr…?.”
“Phalanx Schmidt,” the old man answered. “Call me Phon though. Many call me that”
“Fair enough, nice nickname. Anyway, you wouldn’t be the first to call me a fool, Phon,” Sethan explained, leaning back. “Anyone is called a fool should they face a Cadaver in a fight.”
“At night, with no one else, in the rain, and only wielding a sword that looked ready to snap. Definitely earned the right to be called such if they do those things,” Phon added with a huff, shaking his head. “Given how fucked up the Cadaver was when I found ya, I will admit ya got experience in fighting them...but even then, ya were in a worse state.”
Sethan’s smirk widened at that.
He remembered his state when Phon found him just a few hours ago - he had heard about the mangled and bloodthirsty creature that was a Cadaver attacking in this part of London and decided to take it down. Of course, the creature did not go down without a fight and did a big number on him, with his body torn into ribbons by the creature’s great claws. His right arm torn asunder from the shoulder down and tossed halfway down the street. Blood, flesh, and organs drenching the cobbled road. He was in a state no man could have survive in, while the creature had its head brutally ripped off and was very much dead.
Phon released a heavy sigh and looked to Sethan with a curious glint in his eyes. “Ya should have been dead as a corpse when I found ya.”
“Yet I’m very much alive,” Sethan pointed out, frowning a bit. He could feel the air warm up from the nearby fire and his coat was growing uncomfortably hot and itchy. The process should have finished by now, so he knew it was safe to take off the coat. He undid his buttons.
“No man or woman can survive having that much blood and organs ripped out of them, twat,”
“Yet I did,” He slipped the coat off and placed it over his chair with ease, relaxing as cool air met his skin. He stretched a bit and released a groan, stretching. Then, Sethan paused as realisation struck him.
Oh hell and damnation! I thought it had healed by now! Sethan mentally cursed himself.
“Even now, I’m impressed ya up so quickly and- I’ll be gobsmacked! Ya arm! Blimey! I never seen that before in me life!” Phon had swiftly leaned back with a bewildered look sketched over his face. His glass fell clean from his hand and onto the floor where it broke with a clear smash. The old man’s eyes wide as they watched the wound where Sethan’s arm was sliced off.
The arm that was lost was reforming itself - the bones appeared first from the wound, growing out the skeleton of the arm. Then came the muscles and veins, connecting together from the already existing muscles and veins in the shoulder. Last came the skin, stitching together entirely. The process was not fast, taking simple minutes as they ticked by. The arm was halfway through the process, leaving Sethan with a skinless arm while the hand was still skeletal.
“..Um...” he kept his eye on Phon, noticing the man had not stood up or shouted. That was new, Sethan was use to having weapons and chairs aimed his way. Instead, the old man was gazing at his regrowing arm in a mixture of awe and faint disgust, grimacing a bit whenever a bone snapped back in place. “...I know this is very strange but… please tell me your heart isn’t going to die on us, old man.”
“Sod off, still living and breathing, ain’t I? Besides... I’ve seen a lot of fucked up shit back in me day,” Phon grumbled, leaning forward in his chair. “But yer little recovering arm… well… that certainly takes the cake. May I…?”
Sethan lifted up the regenerating arm to the man, who took the bone hand gently into his own. He watched the old man examine his fingers, tapping them once or twice. Phon soon examined the muscles and veins as they slowly slithered down the bones, joining up where they originally were.
“...well, will you look at that… it’s as real as me mam’s bloomers,” Phon murmured to himself before releasing the hand, which simply flopped onto the table. The man’s gaze turning to Sethan, like a child curious to learn of the world around him. “Can ya feel me touch?”
“On the bone? No… likely because I have no veins or muscles there,” Sethan replied. “Can’t move the fingers until the muscles have regrown… but I can feel the skin and veins forming on the muscles. As for how long this takes for the arm to fully be back to normal? Regrowing an arm back takes at least an hour.”
Phon nodded intently. “Wait… then what about your other wounds? Are they....?”
“Healed?” Sethan perked up an eyebrow from behind his messy locks of ebony hair. With swift movements, he undid the buttons of his shirt and pulled the two ends away, revealing his chest. His build was fine and toned, muscles and bits of chest hair shown for all to see. Where the deep claw marks had struck him, only white scars remained but even then, Phon could see the scars fading away. Yet there were scars on his body that did not fade - they remained where they were.
“Aye… every wound on my body heals up, no matter how serious it is,” Sethan answered as he buttoned up his shirt. “If I lose a limb, it regrows… if I lose too much blood, I fall unconscious but the blood returns. Oh and before you ask, no idea what happens when I get my head chopped off, never had that happen.”
“...then… you can’t die?”
Sethan closed his eye, his remaining eye that is, and bowed his head a little. Instinctively, his hand grasped around his glass but he did not raise it. He did not answer, thinking of his words. He could not lie to the man, as he had seen his arm healing and he had answered most of his questions. He opened his single eye, meeting Phon’s gaze. He saw the old man frown softly; he had noticed now old pain and grief forming within the one eyed man’s iris. The mask Sethan had to hide his true feelings was finally down.
“...Aye… I can’t die,” Sethan confirmed, soft yet grieving. “I am what you call immortal. Living forever; never dying or decaying. That’s why I didn’t die to my wounds, old man, because I cannot die to begin with…”
The two men fell into silence, with only the battering of rain against the window reminding them of the world around them. Minutes passed between them as they allowed such to sink in. Sethan glanced to his arm, the hand only now beginning to regain its muscles.
“...ya don’t have to explain this next question, lad, if yer not comfortable,” Phon consoled softly after a while. Sethan’s gaze snapped back to him. “Afterall, we did just meet but I know such thing is affecting ya, sometimes it’s best to gobble on about any things on ya mind to others. I know ya trust me in keeping it a secret… but...”
Phon hesitated for a second. “...how? How did this happen to ya? Were ya born as such or…?”
Sethan eyed the man curiously, inspecting the man’s face. The immortal Sethan had lived for a while and from the look in Phon’s eye, he only saw honesty and truth. The old man clearly meant no ill and could be trusted. After many years being alive, Sethan grew skilled in reading another’s emotions.
“I owe a debt to you, Phon, thus I will tell… but just know this now; if you tell anyone, I will not hesitate to end you for such… and it will not be swift” Sethan warned with a sharp tone. He noticed the old man stiffen and go a bit pale in the face, Phon had seen him fight and he knew that he would not be able to withstand Sethan in a fight. “I am willing to explain to you my side of the story, of how I became immortal, of everything yet to be said, and so forth. But what I say must not leave this very bar. Understood?”
Phon blinked but nodded calmly, saying no word. Sethan adjusted himself on the chair and poured himself out another pint of cider, sipping it idly and enjoying the bittersweet taste as it stung his tongue. In the back of his mind, Sethan pondered if it was fate for him to tell such to a shady bartender in his bar, found after fighting a Cadaver and being seen recovering. Only God would know, of course He would. God certainly held a strange humor when it came to people and fate.
Phon’s stiff form eased out and he gave a soft nod. “...I best pour us some more cider then. I have a feeling this is gonna be a long night. Though… if it helps ya get things off ya mind and explain how ya can do that, then I’ll listen to what ya have to say, sir.”
“Good,” was all Sethan said.
The man leaned back and took a deep breath. The words did not come out easily at first, for he hesitated and took moments to remember the very beginning. Yet soon he recalled and the words rolled off his tongue. The immortal thus began his recital of his past.