Once I found myself in service of a hermit that was of great interest to me. He had came to acquire a mine of clay, using a fortune he had collected on his travels, so he claimed. Despite his apparent wealth, he only spend time working with the clay of his. Servant he only needed to fetch him his daily rations and whatever else may be needed on his quest to sculp the clay. I was happy to oblige, for his doings were greatly interesting and my time was to not disappear.

A year went by, and it had become apparent that his quest was to sculpt a creature resembling a human. For he had started without any expertise, aquiring it to succeed in his quest of seemingly perfect creature of clay would take many years. I voiced my concerns for the time this project were to take, but he just grumbled "If you wish to no longer observe, leave." As I explained that I wished not to do so, he finished his first creature that not only had the shape, but also the portions of a human, althought it was still far from a perfect creature he wished for. For a moment, the hermit was proud. Then he showed disgust and commanded me to take this statue elsewhere and smash it, while he started another. For I did not wish to destroy something with such work behind it, I dragged it to a nearby forest and left it there for my own viewing pleasure.

The same routine repeated for several years afterwards. The hermit made a sculpture, was not satisfied with his creation, and I dragged it to the forest, until on a day of the third year I came across a merchant. This merchant had taken up a high interest in the statues of the forest. As he inquired of their origin, I told him about the hermit. Horrified of the fate these statues were to face if the hermit found them, the merchant offered to buy them. Knowing it to be against the hermits wishes, I would have refused if it weren't for the fact that the money of the hermit was nearing it's end. Merchant promised the statues would find their way to far off lands, so the hermit was to never find out.

For ten more years the hermit sculpted more and more of the statues, each more and more human. Horrifyingly human. Even the merchant remarked on the details and realism of these statues, saying that not even the sculptors of the royal court can rival them. And then, the day I had grown to tread came, the hermit finished his final work. "A thing of real beauty, is it not?" For the first time in almost twenty years, I saw the hermit smile. "It truly is sir. What do you wish to do now?" The hermit continued his smile. It slowly grew larger, to a grin, a sinister grin. "Soon you will see. I never asked for your name my friend. Would you be so kind as to tell me it at these last moments we share." Seeing the worrying implications of his words, I chose to remain silent. "So be it, my friend. Now, my new body awaits." Before my eyes, he walked to the sculpture and bursted into flames. The sculpture came to life, and I finally noted the resemblance between it and the hermit himself when I met him all those years ago. On the face of this new sculpture was not the face of success, of enjoyment, but the face of horror.

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