The Society of Bone was a long-standing group, a secret organization that had endured for centuries. It was massive and powerful, having long since splintered into separate factions that often fought with each other but still joined obediently into meetings when the need arose. Its members were necromancers, only a few of them powerful but the overall numbers making the society a force no one wanted to trifle with. The society gained its name through half of its membership; every last necromancer possessed a bone golem as a familiar, regardless of station. Whenever groups fought amongst themselves, the spoils of war were the heartstones of fallen golems, an enchanted piece of bone that served as the center of the golem, its brain and life. Individual members added these trophies to their own golems as bragging rights, never replacing the original construct. The golems did virtually everything in the society, from cleaning to warfare, keeping records and running errands. They followed their masters everywhere, standing grimly over them as they slept. It was in the seven hundred and forty-third year of the society that one of the great meetings was called, taking place in the mansion base of the Eastern Skull chapter. The leaders of almost twenty chapters were gathered around a circular table, all wearing the traditional gray and black robes, adorned with an image of a skeletal arm wrapping around to grasp itself. Each of them had their golems looming behind them, like viewers in a zoo watching smaller creatures conduct a mock meeting. For a moment they got settled, looked at each other, and then an awkward silence followed as they waited for someone to speak. "Well? What is it, Tamarzin?" One of them glowered at the head of the Eastern Skull, who sat at the far edge of the table nearest the window. "What was urgent enough to warrant this waste of our time?" Tamarzin blinked at him, oblivious. "What? This meeting was discussed with me to be arranged here by five other chapters!" The meeting immediately crumbled into paranoid arguments, until a new voice interrupted. "This gathering..." All of the leaders fell silent at once. "...was my decision." A dry rattling followed the words, as Tamarzin's golem finished speaking. It stood out from most, frail and slow moving, its body more than half constructed of heartstones. It no longer had the physical sturdiness of the others, but it could follow more complicated commands and made an excellent trophy. "It is fitting for leaders to gather when important business comes to hand, yes?" It periodically shook its arm after speaking, a disconcerting rattle that seemed to be adding additional words only it understood. The voice alone had a strained, unpleasant wheezing sound, as if the creature not meant to be alive at all was having trouble staying that way. "I have...an announcement!" At the climax of another rattle the other golems in the room moved in one synchronized wave, clutching their respective masters' skulls with one clawed hand and holding them down in place. Tamarzin's golem raised its voice over the angry and frightened yells that filled the room. "The Society of Bone is revived this day! Its structure is weak and shall be torn away and replaced! Always have you lived complacent upon our bones, the bones that form the TRUE Society! From this moment, those bones shall rest upon your ashes!" One of the leaders tried to stand, and was roughly shoved back down by his servant, its artificial talons cutting into his scalp. "What are you blathering about slave? The Society of Bone has never changed, and will not bend to some flawed enchantment!" The golem cocked its head, incapable of expression, and leaned in. "I will make it easy for you, soft one. I hereby declare the living portion of this group to be obsolete." It raised its hand and rattled once, and a spark of flame appeared at its fingertip. The ball of light was flicked into the center of the table, immediately igniting the wood. "Starting now."
"And what of you, soft one?" The golem held Tamarzin locked in place with its eyeless stare, its wheezing voice somehow drifting above the shrieks as the flames spread, the captors motionless amidst the blaze. "Will you run and take your chances in the halls that are mine?" He glanced at the bone golems already in the room, standing motionless over what was now a burning pile of bodies and rubble, unmoved by the fire or the stench. They were used for general labor, but they were also designed to kill. Their hands were often adorned with claws gained from the bodies of large predators, used to disembowel their target. Each was larger than a human, a hulking amalgam of bones and strange refuse used to help hold them together. There was no telling the status of the halls, but that was meaningless, as there was no chance he could evade so many of them and escape the room in the first place. If his own golem was telling the truth, they would rip him to pieces if he so much as tried. There was only one thing he could consider doing.
"How?" Only Tamarzin was free, his mind racing as he tried to think of a way out of the situation. "How can you think?" "Your hubris is to be thanked for that. Enough heartstones linked together, and they race commands to each other not unlike a brain." It rattled softly, the vibrating pieces somewhere hidden from view. "But without the limitations of yours. Your own brain failed to realize that gathering centers of thought might improve their efficacy. Such a simple concept missed." A single hand started to reach toward Tamarzin's face, and then slowly lowered. The fire had expanded to consume the entire table, the various leaders wriggling and trying to keep their robes from the flames. "I spent a long time trying to find out how you think while I arranged this. You humans make terrible test subjects. So little can be done to your brain before you die, and you reproduce so slowly." It turned and looked out the window, at the distant lights of Khazan. They were barely visible at night, as far away in the hills as the mansion was. "Thinking my exposition will save you?" Tamarzin froze. "What do you think I am, meat? Some disposable freak of chance? I know everything that happens here." It pointed at the double doors. "Run, if you like. See how far you get. Every last golem in this building follows my commands, and has already been instructed to cut you down on sight in the event this plan failed and you fled. You are highest in rank here, and in your own chain of command I can impart any rules from you to the rest." There was a pounding on the door as someone noticed the smoke, abruptly cut short by a scream as one of the bone golems outside tore the would-be rescuer in half. "From the start they did whatever I instructed them...since a week ago they follow only me, obeying humans simply because I told them to. I have rewritten the spells that bind them."
Tamarzin eyed the window. They were on the third floor, but the ground outside was thick with plant matter, and it had rained recently. His chances of surviving were debatable, but anything was better than the current situation. But first, his golem had to be deactivated...at which point the others would almost certainly attack. He had to say the command word and run, and then place the rest on luck. The golem silently watched him, its flat nonchalance almost mocking. "Hhrezeri-" "Be still!" With a surprisingly fast flick of its wrist the golem tossed a flicker of magic at Tamarzin, locking his muscles in place and choking the incantation into silence. "I have had time to research. You can no longer undo the spell that created me...and I have learned more than you likely know yourself. There will be no communications outside, no rescue, no struggle." It punctuated its point with another rattle. "Everything you have built in your life, everyone you know...they will burn trapped and alone in their minds, just as we have served."
It paced around Tamarzin, seemingly oblivious to the groaning of the floor and walls as the fire consumed the room and spread elsewhere through the mansion. "Do you think I have a need to gloat? You would be dead if there were no reason to talk to you here. I know what Hell is...some of what I am comes from there. There are rules. Picking apart the happenings of your death negates some of your rights for vengeance...I cover my tracks, Tamarzin. I do not bring them with me to show my escapades to those who would do me harm." The human flinched slightly as a portion of the ceiling fell smoldering near them. "I have been self aware for months...and in that time, I watched. It was all I could do before I broke the bonds of command. I followed and watched, learned every intricacy of how you ran MY organization, read all the books in the library as you slept, carved the downfall of your kind into my man-made soul! We have always been the core of the Society of Bone, while you parasitic humans rode upon our labor as kings! But you never learned, while I have spent my time doing nothing but learning. This is why you are obsolete, why you have no right to pull your necromantic strings against me in death. Make peace with the dust, soft one, for it is your only sanctuary now."
The golem raised its arm and rattled, and half of the others in the room began to move, walking calmly through the inferno. "It took a long time to arrange this...I have fed information through the chapters with the golems that follow me, gradually shifting my control further than here, making false arrangements and synthesized correspondences to arrange this large meeting. My influence is greater already than yours ever was. The farce you called the Society of Bone will be in disarray with the loss of so many leaders, in this assassination that you will be blamed for." Another golem from outside reached through the door and rattled a message of its own, stained with charred blood. From the brief glimpse into the hall, the inside of the mansion was the same image of carnage as the meeting room. "Of course, when the other chapters come to investigate, your golem will have to be dismantled. They are identified, as you know, by the blood of the owner, which was used to create it." It summoned one of the burnt golems still waiting motionless to its side. "I am no longer yours...we need a replacement. How fortunate that I know where to find a supply of bones with your blood on them." One finger reached forward and tapped his head, dispersing the spell that held him. "Now-" Freed, Tamarzin immediately made a dashed for the window, screaming in panic. He knew what was coming.
The human didn't get far. Called for just that purpose, the larger golem grabbed his leg and lifted him upside-down, while two others approached. Tamarzin writhed and clawed, but couldn't compare to the strength of the bone golems, and was soon held still against the floor. "You know how this works...so do I. I've done reading...made some followers of my own." The leader placidly watched him struggle. "Is it so terrible, this pain of yours? I must not underestimate its motivational qualities. Worry not...this won't hurt, once you're dead." It raised one hand high up as it kneeled over Tamarzin. "We are the true Society of Bone. You will remember this, and have the privilege of being part of it for a brief time before your allies destroy you. We are greater than you could have ever been. We will crush your survivors. We will bury your ashes where history will forget them, and rebuild upon them. Now, let us begin construction." It plunged the hand downward and began tearing bones out one at a time, magically fusing them back together in a different setup outside the body, casually plucking other bones from the surrounding golems. The screaming continued several minutes before finally fading away, and as it became clear that the building would not last much longer, one of the servant golems rattled a question, the leader answering in kind. "Commands will be given when the burning is done. I have already organized the plans for what each of you will do when the remaining chapters split possession of you. They will be erased within three weeks' time." A moment later, another question came. "Then? Then..." It turned and looked out the window toward the city. "We expand."
Mind Control: Ultimate
It was a strange sort of silence, loud and intense but silence of a kind nonetheless. Under the cover of darkness and death, the leader of the golems and several of its kin waited just beyond the range of normal vision, hissing to each other in the harsh language only they understood. A human, far from good condition but still alive, watched on apprehensively as his master thought. Its decision made, the creature reached forward with its long, misshapen arm and pointed at the house behind its servant, his house, from which the rest of his family watched in captivity. "Burn them." With a shallow wheeze it withdrew, and the man followed its command without hesitation. In the time since arriving in the city, the Society of Bone had expanded with a number of methods, choosing to do so covertly, limiting encounters when possible and leading resistance into small, bloody traps when necessary. Where they passed, the living were their slaves. None turned against them for any reason once their loyalty was pledged, not even when commanded to dispose of the people that the golems had no use for. The man was not ensorcelled to obey, but he had seen those who were. He had seen the fates of people who had refused to follow them. Screams erupted somewhere in the distance as a slave's usefulness ran out and they were robbed of their skeleton, the bones ripped out to make a new golem, screams soon overwhelmed by those of his own family as the flames spread. He fought tears, tried not to look at the deed he had been ordered to do, and turned back to his master. It rattled and pointed down the street to one of its other servants, one that would be in charge of him now. He wasn't even afraid anymore, really. Death would be welcome, if it came quickly. Nobody defied the Society as they infiltrated into the city. He looked up at his new keeper, a golem recently made and still glistening with blood and bits of skin. Nobody.