The Book of Soltana: Haze – 14

Underrealm

Maw

Maw shook herself, coming back to lucidity, her eyes going back to their golden yellow. She looked around, seeing three Trows standing and staring into the distance like empty puppets. She glanced down at her hands and chest, seeing she was in the form of a Trow, armored with scrap plating. She had devoured the lead Trow and taken his form. His memories began to flow into her, giving ideas on how he behaved, his temperament, and what he did under stress. She gained memories of the Trow and his group crushing other beasts and beings. Many had been sentient, most had been victims. She felt the Trow’s memories were tied with an emotion.

Satisfaction.

She snarled at that, glad that she had done in those creatures that apparently deserved it. When she was struck, she heard that voice speak. Her world suddenly went haze red, like she had gone berserk. She remembered the voice commanding her to defend herself. She felt only slightly in control as if all inhibitions were gone as she gave into her hazy blood rage. She out-thought the Trow by firing a portion of herself off and out of the firewall, leaving a good portion of herself to burn. It had hurt, feeling her cells shrieking in agony as they charred to ash. She used that time to devour the downed Trows, with the wall of fire breaking line of sight. She had a good idea that she was capable of devouring something and leaving it as a pawn copy that she could control. They’d have the host’s memories and could imitate almost flawlessly. The weakness of which if a pawn exposed itself, it couldn’t morph back to its original form until it returned to her. She also couldn’t create pawns from a being she completely devoured. She also couldn’t gain the DNA of creatures her pawns devoured until they returned to her form.

There were balances, but she felt it was an overall incredible ability.

She knelt down, brushing at the ruined pile of charred flesh, feeling it.

She knew there were no surviving cells.

“I’m sorry,” She said to herself.

“All is well. You survived this horrid experience.”

“Who are you?” Maw asked, hearing the strange voice again in her head.

“I am…” The voice began, but silence cut in suddenly.

“Are you there?”

“Yes. I do not know who I am.”

“Do you know anything?

“I only awakened as you did in this dark place. I had no words to form and so observed internally. When you were struck, it awakened my voice.”

“And the rage,” Maw added.

“Yes, I am not sure what that was.”

“But we survived.”

“That is what matters,” The voice exhorted.

She glanced at the other charred remains, seeing the brown soul mote. She sauntered her way over, imitating to arrogant Trow perfectly. She knelt down, hand surrounding the mote. It was a theory, but she had an instinct about this. Her closed, and she felt a warm ember. She closed her eyes, understanding she could collect these motes, storing them in her being. She opened her palm, seeing the mote had vanished.

She couldn’t remember what it was called, but she knew the Trow had been so badly beaten that his form broke down. She then stomped down, scattering the charred remains to cloudy ash. The pawns did the same to her fake body, scattering the remains.

She then put on her act.

“Oi you boys, get what we need, wer’gone!” Maw said, using Borscha’s voice and mannerisms.

The Trows instantly activated, shuffling and grumbling about, picking through piles and gathering their dropped gear. She knew their names now.

Borscha was the leader.

Dasha was the rifleman.

Mik was the charred body whose mote she collected.

Bifcar was the new Trow wearing his loin rags.

Klee was the leather-armored bruiser, the trow she devoured and was now gone.

Trut was another bruiser with a scrap chest plate.

She also found another weakness, she had little idea on how to access Borscha’s magical abilities as if they were completely separate. She would have to be cautious in the future if others knew of his abilities, that would give her away quickly.

She thought about it, depending on the situation, shapeshifting as a nobody could be safer than someone who was known. For now, posing as a pack of Trows who were apparently near the top of the hierarchy would be safe and discrete. She mused at the fact that for her to remain hidden, she would have to bellow and shout as a pack of arrogant Trows. She began to dig deeper into his memories, seeing a large distinction between Trows. Many were strong but reasonable, many were brutish and feral. She had the misfortune of running into a group of feral Trows. You either ran, hid, or fought them. They weren’t near the top of Underrealm hierarchy for nothing.

She went through his memories, discovering there were those Borscha was cautious of. It was strange, Borscha felt no fear, even when she chewed through him as if arrogance was a stronger instinct. The first and at the top of the hierarchy were what he called bugmen. She scoured his memories, seeing that all looked different, but they all resembled massive humanoid-esque insects. He was cautious of them because they had the technology.

Major technology. As she Indexed through his memories, they were the most advanced species of the Underrealm.

Another was called a Daer-seehn, a creature that Borscha had never seen, but heard of from stories. The myth behind them was they could actively veil. They were supposedly large and oddly stealthy for their size. All stories said they had a terrifying presence and countenance.

The last were the fae, a mysterious and troublesome group to Borscha. They had heavy use of magic and trickery to bother him and frustrate his efforts.

She was both curious and fearful of those groups. Curious in that she desired to see these bugmen and Daer-seehn, taking on their DNA. Fearful in that any wrong move could send her into a tiny cell or a large belly.

There were others, but these were the two that stuck out; implying he ran into them in the past. She started moving with the other Trows in tow. They all acted the part, banting with each other, picking on the ‘new’ Trow who was clothed in a loin cloth rag. Knowledgeable creatures would stay away, and those that didn’t know were probably not a threat.

“You’sall see ‘im? Got trounced lika flunkie!”

“Ah piss’off, you lost an arm.”

“Ya, bu’ we go ‘im.”

“Bahah! Mosshead’s getting mad!”

“Piss’on you!”

She tuned out the banter, now aware why others stayed away.

She found a road, which was more like a large game trail. She halted, with the other Trows looking around anxiously. She was stalled now.

Where do I go? She thought internally.

A discrete location was needed. She needed to gather her bearings. There was a lot of memory to parse through which could help keep her safe. Not to mention memories from her four flunkies.

She continued to go through Borscha’s memories, trying to find any hideout or camp that would give her time. Somewhere isolated.

She dug deep into Borscha’s memory and found it.

A time where Borscha and his boys fought to break into a home and were pushed back. The siege lasted ages, with Borscha getting bored and leaving; the bruise to his ego didn’t heal. A single hermit drove them off with his technology.

A hermit that lived off in an isolated alcove of the Underrealm.

A hermit with a mansion made of silk.

She started her journey.

>>> The Book Soltana: Walk – 15

<<< The Book of Soltana: Char – 13

The Book of Soltana Glossary

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