The Book of Soltana: Rummage – 27

Underrealm

Ruth Maw

A goblin sat awake, staring against a wall like an empty shell with yellow eyes.

She had seen the other goblin changing in the night and mimicked it, taking a risk. She tied her scarf to another gob to divert attention and then bundled up, making sure to sleep on her Seal. Gobs normally were not smart enough to clothe themselves and would have given herself away, had not the spider and Lambent known. It had worked better than expected as they had all left for during Wake to the mine shaft. It had been a full period, and her friend still had not awakened.

And so she sat there, processing the new DNA she acquired, trying to figure out her next step. It might be time to leave. She liked her friends as well as the spider and Lambent. Although when the spider caught her in the sack, it took Soltana urging him to reconsider to calm her fury. She had almost ravaged the estate there and then. Her mind had expanded upon becoming a goblin. Gone was the fuzzy and foggy thoughts of the infant gobform.

She was conflicted. She wanted to stay in the comfy and secure place, but also felt she would be caught.

“Maybe your fears are misguided,” The familiar voice spoke.

But they will be angry.

“Have they been that way before?”

The spider, yes, but Soltana will be disappointed!

“How do you know?” The voice challenged.

“Here is my perspective.”

“This is a safe place, with good hosts. They’ve taken you and your new friends in. Soltana is a Seal holder, and so are you. She may know more about it!”

Verywell Mr… Miss? Ruth conceded while also trying to name the voice.

“It’s miss. If Diniel says that your old name is false, then I shall take it up.”

“I shall become Maw.”

It felt right naming her voice.

If she were going mad, she might as well make it personable.

I am glad to meet you, Maw.

“And it is a pleasure being your conscience.”

Now, what should we do? The others are away and this one is still loafing.

As Ruth stood up and hopped down off of the large chair, walking around the living room and spotting a mirror on a tiny desk. She scampered up the desk and inspected herself. She was naked as a newborn and unashamed. She had an adorable child’s face with a button nose, soft features, and long ears branching out from the sides of her head. The top of her head was bald, with a small patch of new hair coming in.

Her flesh changed and formed into scales, attempting to cover the Seal. The silhouette of the Seal shone clearly. The scales dazzled into different colors in another attempt to hide it. The Seal took on the inverted color she used, make it stand out. She used blemishes, a shelled dome, layers of hollow flesh, and nothing worked. She huffed in frustration.

The Seal was clearly displayed upon her throat. No matter how much she willed it, flesh would not cover it.

Hair, however.

That won’t do. Ruth thought as she felt at the top of her nearly bald head.

“I think red would do,” Maw responded.

Ruth closed her eyes and willed her body to change. She opened them, seeing her hair had grown into a long poofy fiery unkempt display. She nodded in approval at that as it flowed over her shoulders, covering her Seal.

Now what? She asked as she inspected herself.

She shivered.

“It is kind of drafty. Clothes?”

Clothes.

Ruth hopped off the desk, grabbing a loose blanket as a makeshift robe and began her search. The little sleeping goblin would keep for now. She entered the main entrance hall, seeing the large scrap door. She went to inspect it. It was a dark chrome green design, made of twisting metal coiling. She noticed much of the scrap was that deep green color, like her skin. It was a frivolous curiosity, so she left it, turning to see the stairs. Her stomach dropped as she gripped the sheet closer. It looked scary to her.

“What?” Maw asked.

“You’re right, they’re just stairs,” Ruth said as she made her way up, climbing them one step at a time.

The first floor appeared to be a guest room of sorts. The furnishing was flawless as if no one had been in here in ages. Even the dust had long since vanished due to ectropy. She went to the iron-framed bed, seeing it was different than the scrap metals.

I wonder if the spider forges this himself? Ruth pondered.

She found a dresser and firmly decided to rummage through it. She found clothes, but they appeared to be too long in the sleeve. She found a few good pieces, finding it was not made of L’yophin’s nigh indestructible silk, but the Underrealm’s noir cotton. Borscha’s memory told her that it was a natural growth, ash black cotton used for cheap clothing. She went for the practical look, grabbing grey dyed slacks and a tan blouse. She also scavenged the closet, finding a hat, one that would make Basil proud of.

She placed upon her head a black tweed cap that seemed to fit nicely. The clothes would need to be tailored. She folded them up and carried them along.

“I would prefer a more feminine approach, but you do what’s best,” The voice chided with a hint of humor.

Running in a dress? It’ll be ruined by the first Trow.

“Good point.”

She found nothing else in the room and decided to move on. The second story up had a hallway, with more series of rooms. She began to check the first, seeing that it was a simple linen closet. She marveled at the detail.

This spider is more refined than we give him credit.

“Did he have guests in the past? Or was he preparing to have them?” Maw asked.

Maybe he sent invites and then chased them away. Ruth shot back.

“I’d be grumpy too if it was just me and some silly Gobs,” Maw snidely responded.

Hey now, that was fun. Being dumb and soft. No worries.

“Why did you change to a goblin?”

Because as soon as I saw the others changing, it was only a matter of time. Might as well be the elder of the group. And maybe give us an excuse to leave.

“Still thinking about leaving? Where else would we go?”

“Where do we know that’s as isolated and filled with those that mean us no harm?”

Ruth was silent at that, thinking back on the memories she saw from her dream. She had trouble believing that nun was her. She looked ancient, yet lively. Strict, yet kind. Alien in her mannerisms.

And heartbroken.

She continued on, finding the second door was a lavatory, filled with a large luxurious scrap bathtub and running water valves. The long sink area was lined up with mirrors.

Oh, Diniel have mercy!” Ruth said aloud, taking on Basil’s vernacular.

“Well, there goes our search for tailoring.”

It was for a good cause.

Ruth turned on the water faucet to find there was hot and cold water. She checked the cabinets, finding bath salts, fragrances, soaps and more.

What would a spider need with these?

“I guess even a spider needs to feel luxurious.”

Ruth turned on the bath, feeling the cool water slowly go warm. The loud crush of water filled the bathtub. The steam from the tub began to billow, letting her know it was ready.

She disrobed and hopped into the tub, feeling the soothing warm water. Several doses of soaps, bath salts and shampoo later, she was borderline comatose in a warm body of heavenly water. She pondered back to the dream.

“Still stuck on it?”

“Well let’s work it out.”

“It seems you were a nun of sorts in a church filled with good and bad people. She found the bad people with a man she loved and confronted them to her loss.”

Ruth nodded at that.

“She -you- were changed by your captors. Somehow I was created as well. Then others came to cleanse the planet and you were caught in the middle. You either fell down here or were thrown down. In each case, they suspected you did not survive.”

But how could I have lost so much?

“Depleted. The strain of being changed or being attacked by your captors or church inquisitors drained you of memory.”

But yet, I still had some return.

“Was it yours, or those you devoured?”

Ruth was silent at that. She thought it over.

Diniel told me my name. The Seal also is something that is unchangeable.

“Two constants.”

One mystery.

Who changed me?

“Who changed you?”

They both said together.

In the end, I don’t trust myself. I hurt people, Maw. I can’t hurt my new friends.

“But you know more of yourself now. It may have been triggered by remembrance. You had some close calls, but I feel you are more stable now, especially in a comfortable home!”

Yes. I guess you’re right…

The door suddenly slammed open and a shrieking goblin ran in, followed by a spider.

Ruth’s adrenaline shot up at being startled. She looked on, seeing a very naked male goblin laughing and squealing at being chased by a grumpy spider holding a small pair of pants.

“Stop being so naked! Take the pants!” L’yophin shouted.

“Nooo!” The goblin shrieked with a laugh, running along the sink counter.

He tried to leap into the bath, only to be caught by the spider’s four hands in midair. The spider flipped on his back, manipulating the goblin and pants with all eight limbs, dressing him snuggly. He let the goblin go with a slap on the rump, with the goblin squealing and laughing out the door.

L’yophin stopped, his eyes widening at seeing her in the bathtub.

Using his soaps.

“This was your idea,” Maw said internally as she tossed Ruth overboard.

Ruth slowly sank into the bathtub, hoping the depths would claim her.

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