The Man That is No Longer

Of Armor and Bone: Chapter 25

“That thing inside the armor is not longer Mandabus.” Chin remarked. He sucked nervously on his pipe, exhaling more purple smoke than usual.

“Kensley, Scarborough, and I came to a similar conclusion as we left him behind.” Bently pouted. He sat on the bed in his room, staring at the vaguely finger-shaped dents on the metal plating of his helmet. “Of course, there was no way to confirm it, nor did we want to return with an explanation sounding so harebrained.”

“You have good intuition.” Chin praised halfheartedly. “With dark magic… any expectations you might have are quickly defied. What exactly those forces had done to Mandabus… that armor… we may never know.”

“You know we can’t leave him in this city.  The order will wish to have him… put down, destroyed.”

“As I just said, that thing is no longer your captain.” Chin placed his hands on Bently’s shoulders and looked into his eyes. “I doubt there is little sense left within that shell of armor.”

Bently plopped the helmet down on his bed and stood. “You can’t just say that. You heard him, he is after that mage here from Tulefore… Zethurus was his name.”

Chin paused midway through inhaling the smoke from his pipe. “That is the only thing driving it… him. He’s not guided by a sense of duty or honor any more.”

“I don’t know Mandabus as well as Kensley did, but I find it hard to believe he would be so easily tempted by revenge.”

“You are not listening to me. You don’t feel what I feel, the dark energy within him.” Chin paced around the room. He pushed the door open a crack and peered out into the empty central hall. “He is running on primal instincts. Like a beast. You understand the feeling, right? When you put on the armor?”

Bently glanced at the shiny metal of the sword posed in the corner of the room. “When we assaulted the Tuleforian settlement early that morning… yes. I felt it. The blood-lust. But I always know my underlying duty.”

“Normal men are influenced strangely when they are exposed to those powers of magical origin.  Eventually, people find a limit to which they find hard to endure.” Chin said.

“That Arcanus managed to halt the movements of the armor through such means.” Bently remarked. “Same as you did to me during the squabble with Shiloh.”

“In combat, that enchanted armor is an extension of your body, more so than a normal set. The enchantments enhance your natural abilities, but also protect you- both from outside forces, and from yourself. Most undue strain to your body is mitigated- your feet impacting on the ground from your weight, your joints and muscles hyper-extending- the enchantments protect you from all that.” Chin continued to explain, his eyes squinting in focus. “When the strength of such protection is increased, the armor halts your movements all together.”

“I see.” Bently remarked, peering at the knuckle joints on the gauntlets.

Chin turned his pipe over and tapped away at the bell, dumping bits of ash on the ground. With slow steps, he moved to the bed and picked Bently’s helmet off the blanket.

“I taught Charlstine the technique. We were fortunate it will worked on Mandabus. Who knows how that dark magic may have corrupted the enchantments, as well as the man inside. He’s been under the influence of that armor for weeks now.”

Bently quickly yanked the helmet back from Chin and placed it under his arm. “At least grant Mandabus the opportunity for us to attempt to save him from himself.”

“There’s no way I can guarantee that.” Chin shook his head slowly. “I must consult with the Arcanus… and that man who struck him down.”

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