The Book of Soltana: Pursuit – 24

Underrealm

Basil

He flickered along, trying to rush to the spider’s mansion. He found blood trails and began tracking them, but each trail turned up empty. Ruth was a wily beast and proved to be very difficult to track, even in her maddened state. He was hoping he could intercept her before she arrived at the spider’s mansion. And even then, there was only so much he could do if Ruth had already arrived. Basil would need an invitation to step foot on the property. Being part demihuman and fae bound him with a hospitality clause; he could not enter home or property without invitation. But he would do what he could while the Angel Diniel kept the Underrealm blessed. Even now Basil suspected something else was afoot, possibly due to the malignant atmosphere that permeated the Underrealm. Those with weaker spiritual aspects, such as Trows and other wild beasts could be influenced to become more aggressive and belligerent.

Borscha was a good example as were Daer-seehns. The Underrealm had its fair share of dangers.

Basil was a Hogboon, which gave him many different magical abilities based in the fae realm. His métier, or class, was that of a Faekind. While the abilities of angels were governed by Adonai, the fae were chaotic magic built on the abstract, old ideas, nature, and the whimsical mind of a child. Hogboons and Hobgoblins were cousins, with Hobgoblins being more based in the physical portion of the Somatheonic realm, while Hogboons were based in the ethereal. Hobgoblins made for better fighters, rangers, prowlers, and gaugers, while Hogboons made better magicians, scholars, homesteaders, and faekind. That is not to say there wasn’t overlap.

His most obvious spell as a faekind was Baile, the ability to simply appear back at his burrow mound from anywhere. He could only make a single burrow mound at a time, which wisdom dictated had to be in a place no one would easily find. He also had his Rith Step, allowing him to displace himself, which gave the appearance of vanishing and appearing elsewhere. All fae had such basic abilities, making them difficult to see, much less fight. He could also increase the bounty of plants, the health of creatures, and dole out protection boons to others. Basil was not much of a warrior, but he made up for it through supportive measures. His other ability was Faesciath, which was wrapped his body in a thin shield to protect against blows, in the off chance someone caught him. For offense, he could cast Saighead, a bolt of pure fae energy which also happened to amplify the emotion the target was feeling. He had a host of other abilities, which were more trick than offense. It would keep an opponent off balance, making fights more bothersome than they were worth.

He was still miffed his pipe broke, but he hoped that was the worst of it for Ruth’s catatonic rampage. Once Diniel described her name, she passed out and a new voice spoke through her. The power of the enraged Ruth had surprised Diniel, forcing him to focus purely on defending himself, the shrine, and those inhabiting it. The possessed Ruth was then urged to flee, running faster than most creatures in the Underrealm apart from the fae. And apparently, she had cut a swath of destruction, with many different trails which Basil followed fruitlessly.

“Come on Ruth, where’ya’at?” Basil shouted, his voice echoing off the stalagmites structures along the path.

Silence answered.

He shimmered along the road, looking for any leads, but he suspected the worst had happened.

That she made it to the spider’s mansion and had now taken his place, devouring the poor Dugrum.

He needed to confirm that first. It could also be she fled in a different direction, whatever was possessing Ruth thinking ahead of Basil. However, the different blood trails gave evidence her route was to the Dugrum.

“Diniel have mercy, le’the spider be wise,” Basil said a quick prayer as flickered along, fast as lightning.

The blood trails vanished, which was both a relief and a difficulty.

Along the horizon, he spotted it.

The silk mansion. The massive sphere of silk was difficult to miss, as were the scrap fencing threaded with walls of sticky silk. He stopped at the fence entrance, seeing it closed off. But he wasn’t without hope. A small band of gobs were waddling along away from the fencing.

He Rith Stepped to them, appearing in front of the group. They all let out surprised gibbering and a few tumbled over at the sudden appearance.

“Beggin’ your pardon, lil’ ones, di’you happen to see anyone a’the estate?” Basil asked.

“Friends!”

“Meanie!”

“Take friends!”

“Walking glow!”

“Take Scarfy!”

The gobs began to gibber all at once. Basil could understand the language of his youth. However, it was difficult to understand what they meant. Context was key and gobs had none of it.

“Wait, one’ata’time!

“You there, lil’ Gob. Who took your friends?” Basil pointed to gob and asked.

As all of the other gobs turned to stare, the spotlight was too much for the gob and it fell over.

Basil stared deadpan at the silly gob.

“You, wha’happene’?” Basil pointed to another gob.

It fell to its face, fast asleep.

Basil looked to the others, entirely tempted to Baile out.

“Does anyone know what happen’?” Basil shouted, frustrated by the silly gobs.

“Meanie!”

“Friends!”

“Glowing!”

“Taken!”

The gobs all said at once.

“Wha’do’ya mean, meanie?” Basil asked, kneeling to their level.

The rest of the gobs pointed to the fence and mansion.

“The spider is the’meanie?”

The gobs stared stupidly at Basil.

“The spider- you know, walks on eight legs- The spider!” Basil said, flailing his hands as they stared vacantly.

The gobs then nodded.

At what, he didn’t know.

“Ok, so’meanie is the spider. Your friends. The spider meanie took them?” Basil asked.

The gobs all looked at one another. One began to nod, and they all followed along.

“Diniel have mercy, I’ll deplete from frustration- where di’he take’them?”

The gobs all pointed in different directions.

Basil scratched at his head, aware his face sagged with mental exhaustion. Fighting trows was easier.

He looked around, trying to find anything of value. In the moss near the entrance were a pair of wheel treads.

The tracks went off into the dark. Another pair of tracks went alongside it but were unfamiliar to Basil; rounded footprints. He turned to the gobs. He found his lead.

“All of you lil’ ones, you nee’to get out’of here. Is’not safe,” Basil ordered.

They all gibbered a response, patting the fallen gobs awake before scurrying off.

Diniel have mercy if I ever’nee’to ask Gobs for help again.

He Rith Stepped forward, tracking the trail of trampled moss. The trail went on quite a ways, past the mossy fields and stalagmite outcroppings mixed with sparse glowshrooms of varied size. He almost missed it but saw the hole in the rock wall. It was a cave entrance. The tire treads and mysterious foot tracks ended there. Basil stepped inside, his hand glowing with fae magic. The cavern went on aways, with many of the stalagmites being sheared off with flatly polished stumps remaining. At the back of the cavern was another entrance, carved out. He tried to step through and a field of blue energy pushed back into him.

“Private property my boile’hide!” Basil swore. He had no entrance in. Faekind were bound by magical laws of property. Entry was barred until a host granted them access. There were tricks around it, but a simple cavern entrance left little in the way of mischief.

Basil held out his hand, casting a Fógra, or a message sprite. A tiny blue sprite the size of his pinky appeared.

“Find Diniel. Tell’him the spider an’somethin’else are in a mine. I’ll be waitin’ to confron’them.” Basil commanded.

The sprite made the sound of a tiny silver bell and shot out of the cave, out into the darkness. He would wait outside the cave and hoped this was the only entrance in.

He leaned against the rock wall, humming an old tune.

Created after the first levy.

“Whisperin’ wind along the fair toew,”

“Callin’ the fae off the shrooms bough,”

“Out along the jade mossy moor,”

“The fair fae heral’ their grand tour,”

“Twilight calls with song to strive,

“Wake heeds as fallen arrive…

He stopped his song midway through. He didn’t witness the events of the Underrealm war, but he did know the songs and stories. The fae and Kingdom of heaven were victorious, at great cost. Diniel was the last remnant of that age, apart from the fae themselves. Diniel had then enacted his calling of blessing the lineages of the Underrealm in the hopes of never allowing another conflict of such magnitude again. He thought back to the crevice that now shaped the Underrealm. Diniel himself had created it, destroying an opposing enemy and their minions in a single significant blow. And not to mention the Bean-sídhe herself…

“An’if he leaves the shrine…” Basil stopped, taking his bowler off to scratch at his head.

The blessings would cease until he returned, leaving the Underrealm vulnerable.

“If he leaves’ the shrine, tha’ only means the reason woul’be bigger than the Underrealm herself.”

“Seal holders…”

Somehow that felt significant. The way Diniel described it implied it was of galactic importance.

Was Ruth really tha’ special? An’if so, wha’happen’ to her?

Strange times we live in.

I wish I ha’me pipe…

A good mug’o’moon’mead woul’ hi’the spot.

His thoughts were interrupted by the squeaking and grinding of wheels echoing from the cavern.

The spider!

Basil prepared himself. If Ruth had aggressed, he would need to deal with her until Diniel arrived. He reached under his bowler, pulling out the triangular bladed fae steel dagger. The eight-inch blade glinted in the low light. He usually kept most of his belongings in his burrow but could call upon on a whim. He tumbled the blade around his hand, the steel responded and rolled along his hand.

He would need to strike fast and hard if the spider was taken.

He breathed in, building up the preparatory adrenaline.

He readied the dagger behind his back.

The squeaking of the cart became louder as the mine’s occupants drew near.

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