Safrina suddenly realized she was alive. Alive, naked, and strapped to some kind of table in a dark room. She fought the urge to scream, beat it down, and strained unsuccessfully against her bonds.
She should be dead. She had stabbed that undead thing, and it had stabbed her back at the same time, and she had... crumbled. It hadn't really been that painful, mostly just surprising, but... She had fallen apart. She HAD. She was sure of it.
She heard a door open, and there was light in the room. It didn't show much, other than an arched stone ceiling. A person entered her field of vision, and shined a light on her, quickly looking her over from head to toe and back again. The person looked into her face; it was male, and seemed pale and gaunt.
"Ah," the man said. "You're awake. That's good. Do you know what your name was?"
"Safrina. Safrina Deltrik. I am a Paladin of St. Ygg."
"Wrong on both counts, I'm afraid. Safrina is dead, and your name is Number Nineteen, or just Nineteen. Do you understand that?"
"Good. I am your master, and you may call me 'Master'. Do you understand that?"
"Wonderful. Think carefully about this next question. Do you want to know how you came to be here?"
"How badly do you want to know?"
Nineteen thought about that. She was somewhat surprised that she now thought of herself as Nineteen. She said, "Not very badly."
"Perfect! Absolutely perfect. In fact, that's makes me so happy that I am actually going to tell you. Safrina was simultaneously infected with a magical disease, and a powerful curse, and she disintegrated. Her soul went off to whatever reward was coming to it, and the remains of her body fell into a heap, which her companions abandoned. I gathered up those remains, killed the disease, removed the curse, and re-constituted you. So now you are something between a flesh golem and a homunculus. You look like Safrina, and you have at least some of her memories, maybe all of them, and you are absolutely enslaved to me. Do you understand?"
"Do you care? Again, think carefully."
"Wonderful. Can you read?"
Nineteen had to think about that for a moment. "Yes."
"Oh, that's just fabulous." He freed Nineteen from her restraints, and then handed her a pamphlet. "All right, then, here is a list of your standing orders, and a map, and, well, sort of a handbook for your... existence, here. I've been working on it for ever so long, and you're the first of my creatures who will be able to use it. This will be so much fun!"
Nineteen took the pamphlet, but didn't otherwise move.
Master sighed. "Get up, follow the map to your quarters, read the instructions, and follow them." Nineteen got up, looked at the map, and started toward the door. "It is traditional to acknowledge orders, Nineteen."
"Yes, Master." Nineteen went through the door and paused to study the map. Somewhere far in the back of Nineteen's reconstituted head, a tiny sliver of Safrina's soul screamed.
December 9, 2018