The Book of Soltana: Journey – 31

Journey

Underrealm

Ruth Maw

Ruth awoke in a bed of her own. Today was the day. The big trip to Hive Vulnerado. She got dressed in her spider silk slacks, blouse, turtleneck shirt, and boots, all dyed an ash grey, as that was the only dye L’yophin had. She put her hair up as the turtleneck did its a thing. She asked for it specifically, saying it was cold. The spider obliged, giving her more cover. She was lucky he didn’t glimpse her Seal when she was in the bath. She then grabbed her black tweed hat, snuggling it on. She had volunteered to join, saying she wanted to travel with them. Much begging and pleading later, she was allowed on the journey. The rest of the Goblins were asked to stay. There were no more gobs left as they all metamorphosed over the course of several days.

They all found it strange how quickly the change happened, with Soltana theorizing that it was due to the environment.

And good food.

But mostly the environment.

Ruth got her pack equipped and was ready to go.

Are you ready? Ruth asked Maw.

“As ready as you are, I’m just nervous. You’ve seen Borscha’s memories. There are strange scary beasts in the mycelium.”

 

You forget we’re a strange scary beast.

 

I mean, yes, that is correct. But the Daer-seehns! And Trows.”

Trows we can handle. Daer-seehn, I don’t know. All Borscha had were stories.

“That’s the thing! If all anyone has is stories that mean there are no survivors!” Maw said with an edge of panic.

Ruth shouldered her pack and went out the door of the second floor. The rest of the Goblins were probably sleeping.

Maw, we’ll be fine. L’yophin knows the way, he’s gone several times. Soltana will be going, too.

“You say that but who saved our hide during the Trow fight?”

 

You did.

 

“Right, so you should listen to me.”

 

And what if we get a sliver of Daer-seehn DNA? Ruth challenged back.

“That would… Well…” Maw began to spin out.

M-hm. We’re going.

Ruth made it downstairs, the feeling of her silk boots were perfect. L’yophin turned out to be quite the tailor.

And a blacksmith.

And a miner.

And a Dekapillar breeder.

And a handy-spider.

And a linguist.

And a chef.

And a rancher.

Why was he alone again? Ruth pondered.

“They must really care about height, or the females are sloop sized.”

“Quill. Good Wake to you. Are you prepared?” L’yophin queried as she made it down to the rest.

He wore a black x-strap atop his mid carapace with a dark plate atop it.

“Yessir, mister L’yophin!” Ruth said, being formal.

“Ah, you’ll need this,” L’yophin stated, as he turned and grabbed a long steel pole.

It was a partisan of five feet long. Wholly inadequate for most, but useful for a Goblin of less than two feet. It had a leather sheath over the ox-tongue blade. Wrapped around it was a spider silk belt and a poniard in the hilt, which for anyone else was a dagger. The long thin blade was meant for stabbing. L’yophin equipped her correctly based on weapons that needed little strength to wield.

“Weapons, mister L’yophin?” Ruth said, putting a shake in her voice.

“Never know, maybe safe. May not. Being prepared is always safe.”

 

“Whatever you say; I’m ready!” Ruth said with enthusiasm.

“Good! We leave soon. Waiting for one more,” L’yophin added.

“Good wake, L’yophin, and Quill,” Soltana announced as she trundled into the room.

“Alright, we’re all here!” Ruth stated.

“Sorry, meant one more is on the way,” L’yophin stated.

“Who else is coming?

There was a knock on the large scrap door.

L’yophin handed the gear to Ruth and began opening the door.

“Top’of’the’wake to ya, L’yophin. Soltana. An’who is this?” A familiar hogboon said as he strolled into the home he was invited into.

“This is Quill, the Goblin,” L’yophin introduced.

What Ruth did not know was that L’yophin crushed the Laoch that Basil had given him, summoning him. Ruth’s stomach dropped at that. She would be found out now. She still played on to the end.

“Oh! A hogboon! What’s it like? Do you do magic? Do you have tea parties with the fae? What ar-

“Alrigh’, alrigh’! Diniel have mercy, you’re as chatty as a Gob,” Basil jabbed at her.

“I’m not a Gob! I’m going to be a hogboon, you’ll see!” She said, beaming with pride.

“Tha’s the spirit. A tweed, eh? Good taste.” Basil complimented, wiggling his bowler.

He turned to Soltana.

“Now you, missy Lambent, I’m doin’ a favor watchin’ this estate here. You sai’you’ll be meetin’ a Seal holder -do you always emit an aura, by the way?” Basil said, interrupting himself.

“I canno’hear myself think. Anyways, I’ll be watchin’ the estate. Maybe she’ll arrive. If tha’s the case, I’ll keep her safe. If no’, the stuckle wee’will suffice. Don’ wory about the goblins, I know how to ge’them into shape. When you return, We’ll have a nice smoke, eh?”

“That would be good, yes. Code is up, up, down, left, up.” L’yophin said, stating the combo to his room safe.

“And most of all, my house is your house.”

“Trea’it like me own, I swear.” Basil replied with a salute.

The fae oath had been sworn. Basil would now be tasked with caretaking the home as if it was his own.

“Thank you for your assistance, Basil. We will return soon,” Soltana pledged

“Aye, aye. Now go’on, off you go,” Basil stated, shooing away the three.

He grabbed Ruth gently by the hand before she could leave.

“Keep those two on the straigh’an’narrow, will you?” Basil whispered, staring right in her eyes with intensity.

Does he know? Ruth panicked but simply nodding her head.

He winked at her and tipped his bowler as they left. She stepped outside with her gear, confused and shaken. The scrap door began to shut, leaving them on the porch.

“Come, I’ll get the cart,” L’yophin began.

Ruth equipped the belt, the poniard was just above her calf in length. Her partisan felt comfortable as well. L’yophin had also sewn spider silk padding in her tweed, giving extra protection. The silk clothing would be nigh impossible to tear or penetrate, but wouldn’t protect against blunt or crushing. She would have to be careful to not reveal herself.

Ruth stared at a glowshroom, lost in thought at the journey. It stared back with a blank smile. L’yophin skittered off to get the cart.

“Are you alright, Quill?” Soltana asked, shaking her from her trance.

“Yes miss Soltana. I’ve never adventured before. I might be a bit green,” Ruth stated.

“Well yes, you are green, I am unsure what that has to do with adventuring,” Soltana responded, missing the pun.

I’m new at this is what I mean. I’ve seen the outside, but not a lot of it. Never seen a hive,” Ruth began.

“We’re in good company. L’yophin knows what to do,” Soltana replied with confidence.

“Why are we going, again?” Ruth asked, moving in to feel her warm chassis.

The gobs had loved it because of the warmth.

“To fulfill my calling. I need to rebuild myself and the parts needed should be in Hive Vulnerado.”

“That’s strange. And L’yophin is just helping you?” Ruth asked, curious about it.

“He did find me and we do have a connection, but I did promise to make it up for him. He is investing in me. I will pay him back tenfold. And besides, I think he is bored of living like this,” Soltana said assuredly.

Ruth shrugged at that. She turned her head at the sound of the scrap cart being wheeled over, with L’yophin harnessed to it.

“L’yophin, do you think I can pull the cart? It would leave you free in case of danger,” Soltana suggested.

The spider thought a moment before accepting it with a spidery smile.

Soltana trundled over, getting in between the cart dowels. L’yophin quickly made new silk straps and getting her settled in, with most of the pressure placed on the front of her chassis.

Ruth walked over, seeing the inside of the cart was tarped over.

“What’s in the cart?”

“Trade goods,” L’yophin responded with a grunt as the final strap went into place.

Soltana tested her strength, finding it more than adequate to pull the cart of heavy goods.

L’yophin reached into the cart, pulling out his energy rifle and slapping it to the dark plate on his back. The rifle stuck in place, magnetized.

“Let us go!” L’yophin shouted.

He skittered along, Ruth just behind, and Soltana taking up the rear. The journey out of the estate was about to begin when the front door opened again, revealing Basil and five goblins streaming out, many were still changing. Basil took off his hat, waving them away. All of the goblins waved at the leaving group before Basil began addressing them to work.

Ruth continued on her journey with L’yophin and Soltana. They passed the scrap gate and out into the wilds of the Underrealm. Their journey to Hive Vulnerado had begun.

L’yophin quickly found the road that was well known to him. The group left the mossy plains behind, following the windy rocky road with the pale violet lights from the glowshrooms guiding them. Ruth trudged along, the click of her partisan adding to her footfalls. She was nervous about the trip, about Basil possibly discovering her, nervousness on how L’yophin and Soltana would react, the Daer-seehns, her dreams, her lost past, and strange abilities, and her future. It was all too much.

“Hey, you need to calm down. Everything’s going to be well,” Maw interjected, tripping up her self spiral.

I’m trying. I think I’m more afraid of what they will say. I don’t want to disappoint my new friends.

“Well, Soltana said she was going to meet a Seal holder; which might be you. Too much coincidence for that. Now you just need to work up the courage and tell her.”

I can’t, it’s not a good time!

 

“Tell her.”

 

No! Ruth shouted in her head.

“Very well. I’ll be here to support if you decide to. Or if you get caught. They may take the news better if you admit it.” Maw suggested as she went silent.

Ruth huffed at that but remained silent.

“Quill, are you alright?” Soltana asked from behind.

Ruth’s heart jumped at that, but she stayed calm and turned to look back, seeing Soltana’s blue glowing eyes and featureless head staring impassively at her. The gaze felt intense like there was physical weight behind it. Ruth went alongside Soltana to speak to her, and also to avoid her gaze as she couldn’t turn her head.

“I’m alright, miss Soltana. it’s my first trip, and I’m a little nervous. Don’t want to mess up if things get scary,” Ruth explained.

“You will be fine, L’yophin had made the trip many times.”

“Have you, L’yophin?” Soltana shouted to the front.

L’yophin grunted an affirmative but kept skittering along.

“We’ll be safe, here and back again!” Soltana encouraged.

Ruth walked alongside, not sure what else to say, trapped in her own spiraling thoughts.

“There must be something else,” Soltana pried.

“it’s that obvious?”

“Yes. I know you’re sorry for using L’yophin’s good soaps,” Soltana said.

Ruth laughed.

She Laughed at Soltana’s ability to pick up on someone’s feelings but being unable to correctly determine the source.

“No, it’s not the soaps.”

“it’s just, I was a Gob, and now I’m a Goblin. But now who is Quill?”

“I understand. I know my name, and my race, yet I still don’t know who I was. I know I am a Guardian. What that entails, I do not know. The more I dream, The more that is shown to me, the greater I understand who I am.”

Ruth nodded at that, understanding the dreams portion. She kept quiet.

“And yet, I am dependent on these dreams and upon others. How can I guard if I must be constantly nursed?” Soltana added.

“Empathy,” Ruth started without hesitation.

Soltana’s eyes flickered at that comment.

“Because now you will know what others go through when you help them. You will know what it is like to be crushed and have someone help you,” Quill replied.

Soltana pondered that.

“You are wise for a brand new Goblin,” Soltana replied with a flash of her eyes.

“Yes, I well… Learned it from you both. Taking me in as a Gob.”

“Quill the wise, indeed!” Soltana encouraged.

“That is a strange balance. You’ve lost your memory, but your wisdom has kept,” Maw added from inside her mind.

“Hold,” L’yophin announced.

The group stopped along the road, getting into the mycelium. The glowshrooms painted the dark sky with bioluminescent light. There along the road, Ruth cursed herself internally.

The gear from the Trows she devoured was left behind still splayed along the road; a testament to how often it was tread.

L’yophin pulled out his energy rifle off is back and scanned the shroom mycelium line. There was no movement, no sign of an ambush. It was just piles of gear and clothes. L’yophin was satisfied and began rummaging through the gear.

“Soltana, bring the cart here. Found more trade goods,” L’yophin shouted.

Ruth walked along with her, seeing nothing had been touched. Basil had left it all alone for some reason; unless he had spent his entire time looking for her. Soltana trundled close, with L’yophin pulling back the tarp. Ruth gasped at seeing the treasury. Gold bars, adamantite scrap, a few tiny nacelles, weapon parts, metal bars of various types, including a silver semi-transparent one. Bags and sacks lined the sides filled with unknown goods.

“Oh wow…” Ruth murmured at the treasures. L’yophin began placing in the plated scrap armor, leather, torn cloth, and weapons. He examined the brown and gold pulse rifle, seeing the ammo was near full. He glanced at her and skittered over.

“Can you use this?” L’yophin asked. She handed him the partisan, trading it for the rifle. She hefted it, feeling the weight was good and felt balanced to her tiny frame. L’yophin put the partisan in the cart, its sheathed point sticking out back. He re-tarped the cart with a satisfied grin.

“Little purpose in wasting good trade,” L’yophin said humorously.

“Need to be on lookout for naked Trows now…” He added with a chittering laugh.

Ruth cringed internally at her mistake of not hiding the gear. She quickly got over it as the gear could now be used for more trade. They continued on, heading deeper into the thick of the mycelium. There they arrived at the crossroads again, with L’yophin taking charge and choosing the path instantly.

“L’yophin, how often do you go trading?” Soltana asked.

“Used to travel a lot when I arrived. Nowadays, I couldn’t until we had Goblins and Basil. The Trows, beasts, or more would take advantage if I left. I would lose my home.” L’yophin explained with a sigh.

“So this is a much-needed trip, that is why the cart is packed.” He informed.

Ruth disguised as Quill shouldered the rifle, loving the feel of it.

“I’ll do my best!” Ruth stated.

“There are some settings on the rifle, but the big idea is to aim and pull,” L’yophin explained.

“And don’t test it here. They are loud,” L’yophin added with a chittering grunt.

“And don’t forget the area behind your target. Don’t want friendly fire,” L’yophin continued to lecture.

“Yessir!” Ruth said, putting on a good front. She had Dasha’s memory on how to shoot, what the settings were, and the ammo needed. She’d need to find twenty-two-millimeter beryllite spheres, as the rifle was a special anti-armor variant.

“How in Diniel’s mercy did they get such a thing?” Ruth pondered.

“Look, go back farther,” Maw suggested.

Ruth went back into Borscha’s and Dasha’s memory, deeper than she had before. Thousands of galactic cycles they had existed. They were ornery, but not savage. Not the way Ruth had seen them. A being, clothed in light arrived suddenly, crushing them with its presence. It gathered up many of the trows, fae, creatures under its wings in secret. Ruth was shocked by its appearance.

It was an angel.

An angel that stood at seven feet, thin and lithe. It had one arm, with pale fair skin, black flowing hair and a face of pure sculpted beauty. It had black feathered wings of a raven, black robes armored with kusazuri tassets and a thick six-foot odachi in its scabbard. The pale white skin of his bare chest and face complimented with the black of his garb. Where his right arm and shoulder should have been was a triangular black and gold trimmed shoulder cape, covering the wound. It had spoke with the voice of a lead heavenly choir.

“Come alive you sleeper. Come awake to the majesty of god returned. Oh lost and weary, come alive and witness.”

The crowd had kneeled and bowed to the angel. It equipped them with all manner of items that horrified Ruth.

Weapons.

“Submit yourselves to the glory of god on high. Fight for the god who loves you.”

Ruth’s throat got stuck, her heart hammered at seeing the angels glory, even remembered from Borscha’s eyes. It looked back at her, smiling. A gentle smile, spilling with haughtiness.

“Fight for your god of glory, Lucifer!” The angel announced with a booming voice.

A great battle happened in the Underrealm before the Scarabaeidae had landed. Ruth saw Diniel and dozens of other heavenly creatures, alongside the Fae and the creatures of the Underrealm, do battle. A single glorious, horrifying battle.

Diniel was the last heavenly creature standing and the Fae had lost much of their numbers.

One arose from the blood of her fae children. The rage she felt spilled out in a single unending scream. All who heard it instantly vanished to molecules.

Bean-sídhe, queen of the Fae of the Underrealm was born from the rage and anguish, the desire and hope of her children. One among them was raised up and ascended to royalty, unlike all of the previous Fae. She was a Fae royalty ascended through anguish and destruction. The angel began its departure from afar, with Borscha and a number of others retreating.

“Who are you?” Ruth asked.

The angel turned, an unexpected action for Ruth. What was just a memory had suddenly become a vision.

The angel’s violet eyes widened with interest as he snapped his attention to her, to Borscha. It was suddenly in front of Ruth, the wind cracking with thunder as it caught up. He gripped her hard and lifted her up to his eyes.

“You would do well to not remember this. You should let Borscha lay, whoever you are.”

“However, I will reward you for your bravery, because it matters not if you know; the time has long past.”

“I am Azazel, The Angel of War.”

“The Angel of Weaponry.”

“The Angel of Bloodshed.”

“The Angel of Rage.”

“The Angel of Secrecy.”

“The Angel of Swiftness.”

“The Angel of The Voice.”

“And now, Angel of The Fallen.”

“You now know the herald of the one true god. Tremble and despair. Writhe and rejoice.”

“She comes for you.”

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