The Book of Soltana: Run – 19

Underrealm

Ruth Maw

She dreamed.

Her mind was a swirling chaos storm. Feelings, emotions, memories, and pain filled her. She knew her true name but had no understanding on how she lost it. She had little understanding of how she changed, what had happened, or where she was from originally.

“Ruth.”

She began to remember. Memories of those she had devoured flooded into her. Horrific scenes rushed back to recall.

A woman garbed in nunnery habits was blown back against the wall, crippled. A man garbed in a long jacket and a tall hat ran over, trying to help and helpless all the same. She saw the pain in his eyes and knew the man had loved her.

She saw the nun had recovered and was tracking down those who hurt her, finding out there were many. The man protected her from attacks.

“Ruth.”

 

She saw the same nun and man, cornered in a strange lab. The man protected her from attack but fell. She could see the horror in her eyes, witnessing the man ran through the throat, shot and stabbed. And finally, his neck wrenched apart with a sickening crunch. She saw the nun broken by this scene and in a rage, destroying the enemies.

“Ruth!”

She saw the nun’s hopes and dreams dashed apart. Her heartbroken. She had lost. She was taken. Changed. Forced to destroy others against her will.

Forced to devour her friends. Her brothers and sisters. Forced to carry their memories and agony.

Then others came.

Knights.

They came and attacked her. And nearly destroyed her.

The one who had changed her gave her protection.

“Because I protect the children I love.”

A voice responded. It was deep, echoing with empty vastness. It was the voice of a caring master.

“Ruth.”

“That is your name. My new daughter. My love.”

“I do everything to protect you, child of my heart. My servant. My host.”

“Everything I have is yours.”

She could feel a hand, gently stroking her head. It was warm and familiar. Strong and mysterious.

“Now Ruth. Obey this command.”

“Run. Do not look back, do not stay still.”

“Run.”

“They will hunt for you.”

“Ruth, lassy! Snap’out’of’it!”

“Ruth, be still!”

“RUN.”

Ruth awoke with a start, finding herself in a rocky outcropping, surrounded by soft moss. She was in her ravager form.

“What happened?” Ruth asked.

Silence replied.

“Hello? Basil? Diniel? Please…” Ruth begged.

She looked around, seeing the moss and rocks but no one else.

She had no recollection of what happened.

Her yellow eyes darted around, trying to process what happened.

“Did I eat Basil and Diniel? What do I do?” Ruth asked.

“I don’t know. That was not me speaking, but someone else. I wonder who that was?”

That was terrifying. The memories. I’m afraid.

How did this happen? Those visions; is that what happened to me? Is that who I was? Who were those people? Did I eat them too?

She noticed whatever had done this to her was a black silhouette in the vision, as if her mind could not contain the memory of the perpetrator.

If I suffered depletion, how can I remember now? It shouldn’t be possible.

An idea occurred to her.

Perhaps I remember through the eyes of those I ate. Diniel said I had the lineage of thousands of souls inside of me.

Her spine chilled in a wave upon remembering that.

She had destroyed so much.

A foreign, yet familiar feeling flooded her that had been long dead since the great Armageddon and His return.

Shame.

She got up and ran. She had little idea of where she was. She had little care as she ran. She had little idea of the time passing. Her form shaped and changed back into her tiny foxcatmole form. The memories of the tragedy of that woman. She just wanted to run.

To hide.

To forget this ever happened.

She ran amongst piles of refuse. Used scrap and pristine old junk. She ran without looking, barreling into a crowd of green. She got up, dazed by the sudden stop to see a horde of green faces looking at her.

Faces with very blank and stupid looking expressions. Their sloped brows and jutting mouths were impassive as they stared at the one that knocked into them.

They stared at the strange newcomer, curious about her.

Ruth looked up, frightened and ashamed at the sudden audience.

She felt something wet and slimy against her hand. She looked down to see one of the creatures decided it was somehow the correct moment to put Ruth’s paw into its mouth. She pulled back, yanking the creature off its feet. The creatures began to gibber something to her. She didn’t know what they were saying, but she had got what she needed. The creature’s DNA was all over her hands. She quickly absorbed it, feeling an understanding of the creature.

A gob.

They were somewhat intelligent but infantile, the infant form of the trows she had devoured. The gobs were simple-minded. Enough so that she did something she normally wouldn’t with an audience.

She blended in.

Right in front of them, she changed forms, her flesh flowing as horrific water, becoming like them, with their stupid blank expressions and jutted mouths with tiny tusks. She looked down to see her tiny jellybean digits. The other gobs all perked up, patting her like she was one of them.

They instantly accepted her.

She felt at her throat, feeling the brand; the Seal of the Tetragrammaton. Diniel had explained it, but she still had questions. She felt naked with the Seal exposed as it was. She glanced about, seeing a bundle of rags. There she grabbed a strip, making herself a scarf to hide it. The other Gobs saw her and tried to imitate it, but poorly. One wore a bowl for a hat, which blinded him.

She stood and thought.

Maybe this is my life. Become like these Gobs. No expectations. No chance of hurting others. Freely accepted as one of their own in seconds. No questions. An easy life.

She accepted that. The two times she lost control convinced her.

What if I eat someone on accident? What if I already did? How many perished just now? How many thousands did I destroy? How many would I have continued to consume if not for Diniel reminding me of my true name?

She pressed her mind back, folding it in on itself. The flesh of mind abided. She then compressed and stowed it down. She felt herself becoming simple. Docile.

Stupid.

And content.

The other gobs patted her, urging her to move as they gathered along, on some unknown journey.

They scurried along for a time, Ruth felt her mind go foggy, her awareness going dim. More instinct than thought. She scurried along with her friends, happy to be in a group. She knew their language, and gibbered along with them. She knew she was eloquent compared to them. It didn’t matter; Time seemed to pass in seconds. There they were standing at a massive wall of silk. One gob waddled over and touched it, instantly sticking his hand. He pulled back, but fell into the sticky wall and was stuck fast. He gibbered a protest, with the others moving in to pull him. They lost a few more, getting stuck and failing to free any.

Ruth turned back, seeing a small pile of scrap forgotten behind a rock. She waddled over, seeing a large beam. She felt herself shake awake, aware for a brief moment. Her form changed, flesh flowing like water, the scarf fell to the mossy ground. She became large and strong; a simple meathead. She hulked along, grabbing the beam and strode to the others. She gently placed the beam against the silk, a bridge for the others to climb.

Find help.

She tried pulling at a gob, failing to free it, even with her strength. She stopped, not wanting to hurt her new friend. They all eyed her curiously, looking up at the new creature. She reverted forms, becoming a simple gob again. The group all perked up and began to pat the newcomer twice over. She felt her mind go back to sleep as she scurried across the beam leaping over the silk wall. Others followed. Many fell and got stuck.

“Find help,” She gibbered to the others.

They all broke up, looking for a way to free their friends. She scurried along with a few others, seeing a large building surrounded by a fence. This one had no silk on it. They scurried under the fence, sneaking into the building. The door was wide open, with yellow LED light spilling out. Inside she spotted a large creature, covered in long grey fur. It was a giant, fat and slow. Its black eyes peered out from beneath the fur and it clicked its mandibles curiously as it ponderously scooted to the newcomers.

All the gobs began patting the large creature. It grunted with content at the attention.

“Help,” Ruth gibbered.

It stared, cocking its head but stayed still.

The creature shuddered, making a pained sound. It turned and scooted to the corner and began to emit a stream of silk from its mouth. It began wrapping itself, twisting and turning. After a time, the creature was no more, a cocoon had taken its place.

Ruth sat, staring with wonder at the display. She dare not touch the silk, lest she get trapped like the others.

That would be no fun! She thought.

She heard a skittering behind her and loud voice.

“Rot in my chitin! Gobs!”

It stopped, seeing the cocoon.

“Phela…” The large spider murmured.

Ruth stared at it, trying to comprehend what she was seeing.

He was a massive spider with eight opposable limbs. He had eight red eyes and was covered in dark blue-grey fur.

He looked angry.

She saw the other gobs tense up as the spider held out a sack. She didn’t like that and bolted, with the others fleeing in all directions. The spider skittered and chittered, frightening her.

Hide! She thought as two more of her friends were taken into the scary sack.

She knew of the green stuff patched all over the ground.

Moss.

She wanted to hide, and her flesh flowed, changing into the green moss.

The spider skittered around, his sack full of protesting gobs. She heard it skittering around the ranch, searching for her. She heard it grumbling in its deep raspy voice.

“Cheh, one Gob not bad.”

The spider announced as it left. All was quiet. She paused for a time, remaining still. She needed to free her friends from the grumpy spider.

She followed along, trailing as moss in the hopes of rescuing her new friends. Her flesh flowed like water, changing back into her Gob self. She grabbed her snagged scarf, wearing it proudly. She scurried behind, making sure to not be spotted by the mean spider.

If he hurt her friends, she would just have to

Eat him.

She shook her head.

What was that about?

I’m hungry.

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