Author’s Note: This chapter, Seeker, was really short. I have merged it with the next chapter, Excavation. Enjoy.
“Ruth…” Basil moaned, sitting up.
He looked around the shrine, seeing the pews on one side were knocked over. He examined himself, seeing he was disheveled, bowler-less, and covered in dried blood. The shrine was empty, and the grove silent. His pipe lay splintered at the entrance.
“Lassy? Where’are’ya?” Basil shouted. He rose to his feet, feeling his entire being was sore.
“She has fled.”
“Diniel, thank tha’merciful’lor’ you’re well. What happene’?”
Basil saw the angel, standing in the shrine’s center, countenance concerned. His wings were lowered.
“Her memories were unlocked and I suspect she fled with this new knowledge; even as she slept. She has experienced incredible cruelty.”
Diniel folded his four arms in thought, lowing his head.
“What’aya mean? Wha’s wrong with her? Basil said as he stepped close, worry etched on his face.
“She used to be human,” Diniel explained, sadness etching his voice.
“No…” Basil replied, understanding beginning to form on his face.
Someone had changed her, made her form to that of a horrifying monster.
Basil had felt an immediate attachment to her due to this. Her honesty, which he had a good ear for spoke well of her. Her attempted disguise was adorable to him, as phantasmagoric horror as it was. She was genuine in her story of self-defense, and her attempted manipulation was to be forgiven due to her being attacked by Borscha.
“If tha’firs’ting I see was an angry trow, I too woul’be filled wit’worry and woe.”
“Ruth has fled into the wilds of the Underrealm,” Diniel stated, lowering his arms and collecting his scepter.
“Wha’are’we to do? She coul’be anywhere!” He replied and then stopped.
“Anywhere…” Basil then pondered.
It clicked. When he first met her posing as the late Borscha.
“I have’an idea. She was’on her way- when I foun’her- on her way to the spider’s mansion,” Basil said hurriedly.
“The Dugrum. Yes, that would be an advantageous position. If she were to devour the creature, she could stay isolated. Most avoid the spider’s residence, including his own kind.”
“But she didn’wan’to devour anything unless it attacke’her first.”
“Still she is a Seal holder and must be protected. And guided.”
Diniel palmed his head with one of his arms at that. He looked back at Basil with an eyeless stare.
“Basil, you must hurry. Find the spider’s mansion. See if he is still safe. Warn them if you can. And know this, her Seal will always be shown.”
“The one upon her throat?”
“The very one. It was my mistake that caused her to flee. I had little idea of her past or how she would be affected by it.”
Diniel lowered his head, gripping his scepter.
“I cannot leave this shrine. As long as I am here, the protection that the children of the Underrealm benefit from continues.”
Basil nodded his head in understanding, adjusting his bowler. The shrine was built after the great war. After all of the loss, Diniel had taken the place of the old deceased guardians as the last loyal angel in the Underrealm. His blessings were flawless, but not without a price.
Diniel gripped his staff, Basil could hear the squeezing of molecules. He heard the crack in the stone floor form from the pressure of the staff. The Angel’s strength was no act; on top of his own powerful abilities. He felt for the first time a frustration inside the angel.
“Go. Find her.”
Basil focused his power, his specialty was fae magic. All Hogboons had access to such powerful and chaotic magic.
His form vanished with a thought, leaving existence altogether, returning to his home.
And then he was back at his burrow, back in the outskirt of the mycelium, near the road Ruth had taken when she was wearing Borscha’s flesh. He felt his power surge as he winked in an out of existence, like a strobing runner. Down the road he had known. Down to his grumpy neighbor.
Down to L’yophin’s silk mansion.
Soltana awoke with the memories of her dream flooding to her. Barman, the Angel of Knowledge and his majestic laboratory. She saw many of her own kind in various states. She wasn’t alone. Not only that but she learned of Chrysalizing, a type of Lambent metamorphosis using limpid steel. She knew it in her being that Barman was in this vision to teach her the next step.
Then the second portion of the dream changed. She protected two gobs with her power.
Inside of the dream itself. Her true self was revealed for a brief second and it had devastated the demon instantly.
The strange Gobs had been chased by a demon. In her anger, she destroyed the demon with her latent abilities. What was most surprising was she could interact with the dream. She felt the power within her was threefold. The ability to interact with a dream was one, her beam of intense solar energy was another, and her Seal was the third. She felt it activate but did not understand what the Seal had done or if it affected the other two.
Warning: no signal
Remaining Power: 4971/5000 QC
Cannot access inventory
Location: Underrealm, L’yophin’s Estate
Modules: Dreams of a Lambent, Soltana’s Contentions
ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR ERROR
Her Chassising had been completed and now her time had synced to the strange environment. Not to mention her location was now reflected correctly. She felt her hope abound at the advancement. Every day was a new dream, a new q-bit of information, and a step closer to completeness.
She opened her eyes to see the gobs were still in a pig pile, sleeping contently. Something was off as one of the mounds looked stranger than the others. She trundled in, seeing there were now only eight gobs and two new things. they were larger than the gobs, but still tiny at a foot and a half in height. They had green skin, a shade darker than the Gobs vibrant bright green. their ears were large, green, and triangular. Their faces were completely different than a gob’s. They resembled the faces of children. Gone were the vacant brows, the tiny tusks, and beady black eyes. All replaced by large eyes, button noses, and soft features. They were curled up in the silk blanket from last night, holding one another tight. The gob with the scarf was awake, staring at the newcomer.
“Hello, little one. Did one of your friends change?” Soltana asked motherly.
The scarfed gob smiled and nodded dopely.
She clambered over the pile and began patting the sleeping creatures. They didn’t stir.
A skittering sound emanated from upstairs, telling Soltana that L’yophin was about. The other gobs began to wake, quietly gibbering. They all saw the new creatures and began to pat them, Even with all of the new attention they still did not wake.
L’yophin entered the room quietly, peering at the pile of gobs.
“Soltana…” L’yophin stated with amazement.
“They changed. Metamorphosed. Similar to ancient human frog,” L’yophin explained as he peered in close.
“Why are they not moving?” Soltana asked with worry.
“Takes a lot to change, may take more time for it to complete.”
“What do we do?”
“Was planning on going to mine, where I found you, mine for more. See if I can find more of your parts.”
“Will it be alright if we leave them here? I would like to go as well.”
L’yophin furrowed his brow at that.
“The Gobs will come, the other two will stay and rest.”
All of gobs got up, dumping their silk blankets and hopped aboard Soltana.
L’yophin chittered absently as he made his way to the door, opening it up with a din of noise.
The goblins stayed still even as the door shrieked its way open.
The group made their way outside to the shed. L’yophin opened the scrap doors, revealing a large space for tools, the cart made of scrap he used to tow her and other miscellaneous items.
The gobs lept off, waddling to the shed. L’yophin quickly turned and wiggled a finger at them.
“Not safe in here. Wait.” He ordered.
The gobs all slowly waddled back with disappointment, the scarfed gob hurried them back atop Soltana. L’yophin skittered out of the shed, attached to his wagon. It was filled with tools and two very dangerous packages, an energy rifle, and det charges.
“This why it’s not safe,” L’yophin added, tapping the holstered energy rifle. He could easily access it in case he needed it.
Soltana remembered the cart from before. Her mind drifted for a moment, reliving her journey from the mines to L’yophin’s estate.
L’yophin carted past them and signaled to go.
Soltana followed behind, her chassis keeping up. She was content with it and liked the performance of long walks. Sharp turns were an issue, but she didn’t mind.
Walking was better than statueing.
The gobs kept up their idle gibbering as they walked, patting Soltana and scurrying around her chassis.
“L’yophin, I dreamed again.” Soltana began
“Is that not strange, an Anform- er a Lambent dreaming?” L’yophin replied correcting himself.
“You are not the first to say that.”
L’yophin’s gears turned for a minute on that comment.
“But it has only been just us?”
He glanced to the silly gobs, then back to Soltana.
“It has, but in the dreams. I speak to those I dream of. Sometimes.”
“Journey is long. Tell me more.”
“With this last dream, I was taken to a strange laboratory. I met one of my creators. Barman, Angel of Knowledge.”
L’yophin slowed his pace for a second, then turned his head to look back.
“Creators? You made by angels?”
“And human. And Anforms. I was a collaboration.”
“Soltana, I have seen the stars, planets, people. Why have I never seen or heard of your kind?”
“I wish I knew. I suspect disaster happened. Maybe our group is small. Or I was the only successful release.”
“You said there were others. Who created you?”
“I have two of the three revealed. Barman.”
“And Mikial McDonough.”
L’yophin stopped the cart at that.
Hey turned to look back at her, wonder etched on his spidery face.
“He made you…” L’yophin murmured.
“Do you know him?” Soltana asked with excitement.
“Yes. I guess now is time for a story.”
The gobs all perked up at that, gibbering a reply.
“I am part of a triplicate species. Scarabaeidae. Dugrum. Ancath. We are separate. And we are one. Scarabaeidae traveled the stars exploring. Collecting. Trading. Trillions in number. Run into humanity. We trade and talk. I was an emissary to humanity. Primetech empire.”
L’yophin kept walking as he spoke, Soltana kept pace to listen.
“Primetech…” Soltana replied, tumbling that word in her head.
“Things go wells, so long as we avoided the Dark Ones. Humanity was the same. Dark Ones harass and take. Defeat humanity, forcing them away from their space. Met Mikial Mcdonough, leader of Primetech. Brilliant. Scarabaeidae work with him on new technology.”
L’yophin’s cart hit a bump, pausing his story.
“Then the Great Undoing happened. Don’t remember much. We still traveled stars, exploring. Everything was better.”
His smile was nostalgic as he remembered the past. His face then went stone cold.
“Then war happened. The Church of the Third Advent declared war. Total annihilation.”
“We fought well. Better than expect. Then the Cardinals came. The war changed from fight to slaughter. The Ancath were eliminated.”
He spoke with a bitter edge, his brow furrowed.
“You have Angels, we have Ancath. Our gods were gone. And so we fled, faking our own destruction.”
“The last of the Scarabaeidae occupy the Underrealm.”
“Oh, L’yophin…” Soltana replied with sorrow in her voice.
“Are leaders sacrificed much of them to save just a few. I hated them for that. That is why I’m alone.” L’yophin said, with anger spilling out.
“L’yophin… I’m sorry.”
The scarfed gob looked down, pondering over the story.
“Tell me more about your dreams.” L’yophin asked, redirecting the conversation.
“Yes, there are more with the Seal of the Tetragrammaton that you saw. Adonai stated I am to meet three other Seal holders. I suspect not all are on this planet.”
“You mean you will leave me?”
“I cannot say one way or the other, but that is what I need to prepare for.”
“I need to repair myself. The next step was revealed.”
“What needs to be done?”
“I need limpid steel.”
L’yophin’s mind turned around on that.
“It is expensive, but the hives have it.”
“Wonderful! I can figure out a way to save for it.” Soltana encouraged.
“We will figure something out,” L’yophin replied.
Soltana then explained her dream with Tettra and the hidden archives. She explained the dream with the Gobs and the demon. L’yophin’s eyes widened at hearing her destroy a demon inside of a dream. She explained how Adonai revealed information to her, which he simply shrugged at. She spoke of her dream with Shindow, which was curious to both of them, as AI and Anforms did not dream. She went into detail about how she began remembering.
“Yes, the more complete you are, the more you remember,” L’yophin reminded.
“Which is why I need limpid steel. Barman explained Chrysalizing.”
L’yophin cocked his head at that, blinking his eyes in waves.
“What is difference?”
“Chassising is what we just did, embedding myself into this walker chassis. Chrysalizing is like your Dekapillar, Phela. But instead, I change back to become what I always was.”
“So you would be asleep for some time?”
“Theoretically. It would be wise to prepare for it. Barman described it is best done when the situation is safe.”
“No place is safer!” L’yophin exhorted, perking up with a smile.
There they arrived to a cave entrance, their journey almost complete. The gobs all gibbered in excitement at the new place to explore.
“Now little ones, stay with me. It might be dangerous.” Soltana warned.
The gobs all went silent at that.
L’yophin attached several lamps, one to several of his arms as bracelet torches, and several to his cart, lighting up the cavern entrance. Soltana brightened her eyes to spot beams. The cave loomed in front of them, but they traveled inside all the same. The expansive cave went in a ways before they reached another entrance, this one was carved by blasts and digging.
“L’yophin, how deep does this mine go?”
“There are six mines I have discovered,” L’yophin said as he turned back with a spidery smile.
“How long have you been mining?”
L’yophin pondered a moment before answering.
“I started since I arrived here. I was one of the last Scarabaeidae to discover that the rest were here; after the war.”
“That would make it close to ten thousand galactic cycles.”
Soltana had little idea of the context of years or cycles as her timing was only synced to the wake and twilight time of the Underrealm. Then she remembered Adonai saying he waited with her for twelve thousand.
“Which the Underrealm has two-hundred and thirty-three wake and twilight days for each galactic cycle.”
“You have been mining for over two million days?” Soltana replied with wonder.
Boredom apparently did not exist.
“Mm, Keeps me busy,” L’yophin shrugged with a shrug.
As they passed out of the carved tunnel, the room expanded out with a sharp drop off to her left. The path in front of her was straight and flat. L’yophin had carved out a path inside the ravine wall.
The drop to her left was just empty blackness that went on past her sight.
“And not the only thing I’ve done. Dekapillars took a while to collect, hatch, and grow. Estate took a while to build. And to keep Trows out. Never bored,” L’yophin stated humorously.
“Be cautious, drop is bad,” L’yophin warned.
The gobs all clung to Soltana, who in turn walked against the right wall. The path was wide enough for both L’yophin and Soltana to walk side by side, but the Lambent stuck to caution and followed behind.
The gobs gibbered in murmuring concern as they went.
At the end of the long walk along the ravine, the path made a hard right turn.
“How did you know where to mine?” Soltana asked.
“Mining scanners. How I found you,” L’yophin explained.
“I had thought you were an adamantite vein.” L’yophin he added with a chittering chuckle.
They moved into the new cavern hallway, seeing mined veins that rooted throughout the cavern walls.
“Tin. Get those later,” L’yophin related.
They continued on, passing through the cavern hall into another broadening room. This one was open and massive, with glow shrooms all along the room’s walls. It branched off into five other carved halls. A spiral path occupied the center of the room.
“Main mining trunk,” L’yophin explained with a wave of his long limb.
He skittered down the stone bed carved ramp with Soltana in tow. The Gobs all gibbered in amazement. L’yophin skittered down to the center spiral, stopping as Soltana caught up. She dared not tilt to look down and otherwise dumping the gobs off the side.
“Careful. It is far,” L’yophin stated.
They began their descent down the sloped spiraling ramp. The ramp hugged the circular mine shaft, going deep underground. The slope was steep, but not enough to lose footing. The stone had grooves cut into it.
“How long did this shaft take?” Soltana asked as she trundled along at a slower pace.
“Fifty-two cycles. I lacked good tools,” L’yophin described.
“What could you do with tools. Or helpers,” Soltana began.
Power: 4640/5000 QC
“I believe I can assist. My dream inspired me,” Soltana explained.
“Your light beam?” L’yophin inquired.
“Yes, I will need to test if I can use it in my current form.”
“Mm. Would help,” L’yophin considered that.
“And if we got the limpid steel I needed, I know it would unlock more!”
“Mm,” L’yophin let out a neutral grunt.
They reached the bottom, which Soltana calculated as around five hundred and thirteen feet.
The one thing she noted was everything was clean. Loose rocks or rubble simply didn’t exist.
“Where did the refuse go?”
“You see the ravine we passed?” L’yophin said as he turned back, smiling.
“Oh. Oh!” She said as it clicked.
The clinginess of the gobs was reduced as they got down to solid ground, with no drops in sight. The bottom layer of the shaft was a circle, with several carved hallways L’yophin skittered along, choosing the center hall. Soltana made sure to keep track of everything, in case they became separated. The hall widened, become a more natural pocket. The gobs sniffed, blanching at the sudden smell. They gibbered amongst themselves at the sudden stink.
“Antozonite. A deposit is just beneath us.”
Soltana couldn’t smell, but based off of the gob’s reactions, it was fairly bad. The scarfed gob teared up, gagging on the strange smell.
“Get used to it if you’re down here enough,” L’yophin explained.
That did little to comfort the gobs poor noses as they gibbered on.
Soltana recognized this area. There were piles of rocks, scorched from the det charges he used.
“And we are here,” L’yophin announced.
“Little ones, remember that story? That was me. And the one who helped me was L’yophin.”
The gobs beady eyes widened in amazement at that as they gibbered to one another. They were just like small children. The gobs climbed down, which was similar to slipping and falling. L’yophin unhooked himself from the cart, stowing it on the far wall near the hole. He grabbed a large lamp from his tool pile and went inside, setting it up and clicking it on. With the addition of his wrist lights, the small alcove was well lit.
And there Soltana saw it. Her tomb that she was freed from. The small cubby was made up of loose rocks that fallen in since her departure. She felt a tinge of internal pain at seeing her old home.
L’yophin caught on, trying to comfort her.
“Soltana. This is where I found you. Everything is good now.”
He went over and brushed at her head.
“Yes. Thank you L’yophin. It is strange. I accepted where I was when I was entombed here. Once I was free, however, it became a trauma.”
Soltana tilted her chassis up, her glowing eyes painting the rocks above the cubby with light. There she saw the rubble cubby was made of loose rock, with a large hole above.
“L’yophin, what’s up there?” Soltana asked.
The gobs had begun climbing the small rocks around the room, sniffing the new smells. L’yophin skittered over, his wrist lamps painting the hole with more light.
“Good fortune.” L’yophin murmured approvingly.
He skittered out of the room, returning with a scanner. The blocky shaped gun could detect minerals a hundred feet in rock. He began scanning, furrowing his brow at the lack of detection.
“Not finding adamantite on sensor,” He replied.
“Should we still check?”
“Yes, let’s move these rocks.”
L’yophin began threading silk, sticking them to several rocks near the bottom.
“Everyone get back,” He ordered.
All of the gobs gibbered as they climbed atop their surrogate mother. Soltana trundled near the exit of the hole.
“L’yophin, let me try.”
“Alright, go ahead,” L’yophin replied skittering behind her.
Soltana built up power in her being, similar to the dream. She focused the tachodine nacelle quantum charge energy, converting it a beam of solar cannon, flash melting the rocks with a din roar of fire. Within a brief second, the rocks were slagged to a hissing ramp up the hole.
L’yophin peeked his head out.
“It is safe now!”
L’yophin skittered in with the gobs in tow, wide-eyed at the destruction. The billowing rock dust was beginning to settle throughout the room. They waited for a time as the rocks cooled, the gobs left the room again as the heat was too much for them. L’yophin nodded at that as he touched the cooled rock with the tip of a limb. He looked up at the perfectly circular hole in the ceiling.
L’yophin eyed it suspiciously.
“That is a strange hole. Someone made it,” L’yophin concluded.
He skittered up the makeshift ramp and into the hole. Soltana followed with the Gobs clamoring behind. She got as far as her chassis inside of the hole and could go no further. The solar cannon ability she had was very useful.
Create module: Solar Weld
“Need to get you a better body for this sort of thing,” L’yophin explained.
“It is well. This body is suitable.” Soltana affirmed.
There she saw why it was strange. The inside of the hole was a blossoming of perfectly carved spheres.
L’yophin picked up his sensor and grunted.
“Sensor is crazy. Strange disturbances here. Little wonder I find nothing.”
He skittered to the closest hole, into another perfectly cut sphere alcove.
“Soltana! Found more!” L’yophin stated excitedly.
He quickly came back with a large part in his hands.
It was twenty-six inches in length and bent at two joints. There was no mistaking it. It was an ornate index finger made of adamantite.
Soltana stared at the part silently.
“Soltana? Look. I count six more alcoves,” L’yophin said, trying to encourage.
She stayed silent, her eyes flickering.
“Soltana..?” L’yophin asked with worry. The gobs scurried up her chassis and into the spherical alcove.
“L’yophin. I’m not sure what to think. It’s strange, seeing pieces of yourself,” She tilted her chassis to look into L’yophin’s eyes.
“Thank you. Thank you for everything. This fills me with hope. And yet…”
“And yet I fear of who did this.”
“Yes, adamantite is largely indestructible.”
“Which leads me to believe whoever did this may have power equal to Adonai,” Soltana said, her eyes flickering with visible worry.
The Seal upon her head. Adonai was the one who could reshape it. Seeing the clean shear of the finger joint led her to believe the power of whoever did this was on par.
“This was not random. This was intended.” Soltana concluded.
Whoever or whatever had done this was on a power scale she could not imagine.