The Book of Soltana: Aftermath – 62

Aftermath

Underrealm
Soltana

Soltana awoke, feeling her quantum charge full. She peered down, feeling a power cable attached to her neck. She gently plucked it from her chassis, severing the connection to the ship’s nacelles. She was back in the Sigmafly, propped up on some metal crates.

“L’yophin must have hooked me up. Now I don’t have to wait so long to recharge anymore.”

She ran a systems check to see the damage she had taken.

Name: Soltana

Race: Lambent

Warning: no signal

Damage sustained to internal bioneurons

Repairing with new module

Remaining Power: 7500/7500 QC

Inventory: 0/128 SB

Location: Underrealm, L’yophin Manor

Time: Twilight

Modules:

Dreams of a Lambent

Soltana’s Contentions

Seal Compass

Solar Weld

Bioneural Healing

She was surprised she automatically created a new module.

Bioneural Healing:

Uses quantum charge to slowly repair internal damage. Sped up with correct inventory parts.

This resolved a prime fear of being damaged and unable to repair after he fight with Genius Loci. He had left her battered and possibly crippled forever due to being vacuum sealed in adamantite. Her fears were banished under this upgraded module, which would heal all of her internals, not just her core. She only needed to wait for a time to regain her full capabilities.

I’ll set the module to run when I am charging; to make better use of time.

 

She surmised it was better to double dip when charging.

She looked down, seeing a familiar spider curled up beneath her, fast asleep. Soltana hopped off the crate, her gentle clatter caused L’yophin to stir in response. She nestled into his coiled arms and sat, feeling the warmth of his fur and chitin. She lay still and pondered, hearing the gentle chittering breathing. She processed her dreams.

That was a strange vision. But now I know another Seal holder.

 

Kheros, cursed by undeath. He is to be found by another…

 

Gideon, the man we saw at Low-nine. We shall meet him soon.

 

Tettra? Maybe. The woman on Magara.

 

Shindow? Maybe. Perhaps? I dreamed of her twice.

 

Saoirse, the women in Lucifer’s grasp. The one I failed.

 

An unknown Seal holder in Lucifer’s grasp.

 

Ruth. A good friend.

 

Me.

 

Four left to discover.

 

For now, I shall be concerned with our travel to Low-nine.

 

Soltana pondered on the dreams and visions she had. Of Adonai and his words. She thought of the dreams of the Seal holders, meeting them on Low-nine. It filled her with excitement and worry in equal measure. Excitement to meet new people and fulfill her calling. Worry in that new dangers, such as Genius Loci awaited them on their path. She thought back to the meeting with Barman and the changed fate of Mikial and his anform daughter Amelia. She processed what she saw of Void and the glimpse of Entropy. Who caused such horror to befall both parties? Adonai implied he knew.

“I know we will aid in setting things right,” Soltana whispered to herself.

L’yophin stirred, opening his eyes in a wave.

“Soltana, you’re alright…” He murmured.

“L’yophin. We survived,” she stated with a glint of happiness.

She let out a unintentional giggle.

She paused, seeing his concerned look.

“L’yophin, what’s wrong?”

The Dugrum sighed.

 

“We lost Zenner and Onsort.”

“No… L’yophin-” Soltana stated with a gasp.

“I thought they were well?”

“They reverted to a drone state. That demon culled them. Drove them mad. They… Flew off.”

Soltana paused, trying to process the news of that.

“L’yophin… I’m sorry this happened. I hope they thrive wherever they are. One day S’yliska will be revived. The Scarabaeidae will return to the stars.”

“And I will not budge. I will follow you and Ruth. And S’yliska, the dugrum responded.

“Thank you, L’yophin. I have no words for how good a friend you have been. I do not deserve you…”

L’yophin gently felt at her sheening head, giving her a chittering smile.

“Soltana. You are the strangest thing I ever witnessed. I had not said much for over fifty years. You were the first I really spoke to apart from Dekapillars.”

“And you are my friend. You broke me from my dulled cycle.”

Soltana felt at the spidery hand, feeling the hard chitinous fingers for the first time.

“Thank you. I will find a way to repay you one-”

“No,” L’yophin interrupted her.

“There is no debt. I trust you.”

“Thank you. I will be sure to keep an eye out for a mate-”

L’yophin sputtered in a flustered manner.

“You are terrible at this!” L’yophin stated with a grump.

He slowly broke into a spidery smile as he chittered a laugh.

She giggled back in response. It felt odd that she was understanding more of what made ‘humor’.

The spider sighed as he began to rise, Soltana scurried to get up as well.

“I believe the hive will take care of them. We must worry about leaving.”

Soltana peered up, realizing just how large he was to her.

“Where are the others?”

“The manor. We should go. I hope it is all together…” L’yophin replied with a grumble.

He led the way down the ramp as she kept up alongside. She had to make quick steps to keep pace with the taller Dugrum.

Everything feels so much larger.

One day that will change.

But for now, walk.

“We should discuss the fight with the rest. There is quite a lot I do not know!”

“Ah, you arrived after the fallen angels were suppressed or destroyed. Ruth and Diniel fought well. I suspect Basil did as well.”

“That demon… Geniu- I will tell you his name when we’re all together. He was fascinated with me… He knew about my Seal and how to circumvent it.”

“I know. I saw much of the fight. Small, yet mighty?” L’yophin responded with a chittery laugh.

“Indeed! Although if he was serious…”

“Then nothing would matter. But he wasn’t. And we live!”

 

Soltana was silent for a moment, her spirit shaken by the fight. She suspected everyone was.

 

“For how long..?”

L’yophin glanced down at her, showing only a few of his eyes from her angle.

“No more worry. No more nonsense. Now we rest,” L’yophin replied.

The door to the estate was slightly ajar, an obvious sign of occupants within.

L’yophin opened the hatch, letting Soltana in first. She walked through the entrance, pausing to finally take in the view of everything. The tiny scrap end tables were adorable with the silk wall trim. The main entrance hall was cozy and welcoming. She nodded in approval over the home.

Then she heard it.

Music.

It was akin to the glowshroom singing mixed with the sound of plucking and strumming of strings.

Soltana walked to the guest room, finding not only the source of music, but the others as well.

There off to the side was the musician. Diniel was sitting in the center of the room, dwarfing his chair as he played a sixteen stringed harp-bass guitar, with the extra six strings just beneath the main bridge. The harp neck curved above the bass guitar’s fret neck, wide enough to accommodate Diniel’s four arms. It was an instrument meant for him.

Diniel lightly glowed with glory, his flame glowed with a nod of welcome as he played.

Basil lounged on the couch, hat over his eyes as his pipe gently smoked. Ruth sat on the opposite couch, entranced by the music, a full mug cupped in both hands. No other goblins were present, possible all asleep upstairs.

Soltana quietly walked to Ruth, hopping up onto the couch next to her, not wanting to disturb the performance. She met her eyes. Soltana felt her warm, yet pained smile.

L’yophin quietly skittered, grabbing his pipe and seating himself in his favorite chair. The bag of stuckle weed sat on his thorax as he worked getting the pipe to light.

The music drifted and weaved a tale of healing. A tale of hope. It was as dark and cavernous as the Underrealm itself, yet as innocent and pure as the glowshrooms that occupied it. Soltana felt the dark spirit of the fight banishing away. The doom that Genius Loci hung upon them melted to nothing. The song’s thrumming bass and wailing harp dueted together, with the additional six string adding a plucking conjecture. It was strange to Soltana, there were no words but she knew what the song was saying.

It spoke of the tale of the survivors, the mourning for those that were lost. Diniel’s music spoke of his own spirit. Of friends long lost, and new friends made. It spoke of his love for another. The deep intimacy and understanding they enjoyed. To know and to be known. Soltana could see the beauty of the feminine angelic that had blessed his life. The song weaved the tale of a time with Adonai. A time of hope for the future. A time that was. A time that wasn’t. And a time that would be again.

The song took a lighter turn, of playing goblins, carefree days, and long nights of laughter. Of two silly goblins searching for a fae tea party. It spoke of friendship, struggle, and eventually finding the fae they so desired. It spoke a tale of a troll trying to find his troll-queen. He journeyed far to find her.

The song abruptly stopped and with that, the tale of the troll and troll-queen’s love was left untold.

Soltana glanced to Ruth, seeing the tears streaming from her face. She hadn’t taken a single sip of ale. Basil sat up, wiping his eyes with a handkerchief, pipe smoking serenely. L’yophin puffed on his pipe, his eyes undeniably sad by the tale. Diniel’s glow ceased as he glanced to the audience.

“Thank you for listening. I think that is enough for tonight.”

The harp-bass vanished in glowing blue light.

Ruth rubbed at her eyes with her forearm as she quietly nodded. Everyone was quiet at that, letting the moment soak.

Soltana felt new feelings she had not experienced before. She stored them and with that the feelings of the fight away in her module for later study.

“I believe it is necessary to speak of what just occurred. Not only so that we all know, but that we may have katharsis; healing,” Diniel suggested, his flame dancing gently.

“Well, I guess I’ll star’,” Basil began.

“I’m Basil, the hogboon. I was there for the firs’ of the figh’, aye. Ablublu, as tha’ demon put it, was a complete shtate. You, Diniel- Goo’playing by the way- gave it’a’goo’ heapin’ beatin’ you did an’ rescue’ Ruth an’ I. An’you rescue’ me again from that demon, even though it hur’like’a rock fall. I canno’ say I’m no’afrai’of wha’s to come.”

Basil blew out a puff of smoke as he sighed, nodding his head at some internal conflict.

“An’yes- tha’ does mean I’ve decide’ to come with you all.”

Basil finished by tapping his nose. Soltana felt elated at that. Basil seemed to be a very knowledgeable hogboon whose abilities would greatly help them.

“Basil, we would be blessed to have your company!” Soltana replied.

Diniel nodded at the brief rundown.

“Hm. Yes,” L’yophin grunted as he let out a billow of smoke.

“I am L’yophin, owner of this estate. And also owner of the Sigmafly. I will follow Ruth, Soltana, and S’yliska. That demon destroyed the minds of Zenner and Onsort. I was impressed by Diniel and Ruth’s fighting ability. Ruth wanted to save me; save us, by trading herself to that green demon for our lives in return,” L’yophin stared hard at her.

She blushed and averted her gaze.

“You are a good baeidae, Ruth. A good person.”

“Thank you,” Ruth whispered.

“This hermit life is dulling and I will not go back to it. I would… Enjoy seeing the stars once again. And perhaps where this adventure will lead us.”

Diniel nodded, but stayed silent as the dugrum appeared to have more to say.

“I am excited to see Soltana repair herself.”

Soltana felt warm at that. It still had not sunk in that she had vastly changed. Something she would want to enjoy a little longer before they left.

“And I do enjoy your company, Ruth.”

Ruth nodded at that, smiling at his comment. A conversation that Soltana did not know of.

“Basil, I would gladly have your company for the flight. And Diniel… Thank you for protecting my friends.”

Basil tipped his hat as he sipped his ale. Diniel’s flame danced aloft at that.

Everyone glance to Soltana, informing her it was her turn.

She thought of what to say, unsure where to begin. And thus, she started her story from the beginning.

“I am Soltana and I am a Seal holder and a Lambent. A Lambent is a mixed species of angel, human, and anform. I do not remember much of who I was,” Soltana stated, rubbing at the Seal affixed to her head.

“She was damaged, and I had rescued her when I thought I had hit an adamantite vein,” L’yophin interjected.

Everyone nodded at that. Basil’s eyes went wide as to the reason why they were at the mine.

“Aye… Now it’all makes sense…”

“She discovered that the more she was repaired, the more she remembers.”

“And she metamorphosed from a cocoon too! She was just a head at first,” Ruth added, pointing to Diniel.

“Curious indeed…” Diniel murmured.

“I was created by Mikial McDonough, Barman the Angel of Knowledge, and another named Tangence.”

“Barman- So you were part of his projects,” Diniel said as his flame danced from the revelation.

“You knew him?”

“In passing, sadly.”

Soltana nodded in understanding.

“I have had many strange dreams, and was the reason why the fallen found us…”

“I dreamed of Lucifer, who had captured another Seal holder due to my ignorance. I traded our position for that Seal holder’s safety. I had failed her. I failed us…”

Soltana felt the pain of the failure resurfacing, which she quickly stored back down into her module.

“You speak as if being tricked by Lucifer was uncommon,” Diniel began.

Soltana paused, processing what she just heard. It sounded close to a rebuke.

“There is a reason why one third of all angels followed her as god,” Diniel explained. His voice was calm, but the tongue of flame above his head sparked with anger.

Soltana did not know it was that bad. She had little idea such a being could exist.

 

“I did not know- I’m-”

“Do not burden yourself again with such thoughts. Being outwitted by an Archcherubim who has spent close to an eternity perfecting her lies does not speak of a lack of ability or a poor identity on your part. Rather, by being near her, you will be tricked. You will be lied to. You will be hurt by Lucifer. It is a truth as solid as granite and as abstract as faith. To see that you escaped with only something that minor is a blessing; it could have been far worse. You now know Lucifer and lived to tell of it.”

Soltana glanced down, understanding beginning to form. She remembered the men she destroyed. The angel she extinguished. If it weren’t a dream, her fate could have easily been a pile of ruined parts adorning Lucifer’s abode.

Soltana nodded, keeping quiet. She processed Diniel’s gentle rebuke seeing the lies within lies that Lucifer told. Lucifer had exploited her calling and then blamed her for her supposed weakness.

“I understand,” Soltana agreed quietly.

Everyone glanced to Ruth who blushed at the sudden attention.

“Yes, I am Ruth Aimèe LaChapelle, I am a shapeshifter, and the first Seal holder. I am also the Matron. I have little memory of my past, which was due to the emerald demon we fought,” Ruth stated, looking to Soltana

“Keep strong, Ruth,” Soltana quietly exhorted as she grabbed at her hand.

 

She nodded to Ruth who returned it.

Soltana explained what she learned.

“While he went by the name Neon, it was a lie. His name is Genius Loci, Emerald god of Dark Knowledge.”

Diniel sat back, looking visibly disturbed. The flame atop his head flickered angrily.

“For a being to keep their true name hidden is evidence of a powerful god. He was the one who obscured your legacy and past, Ruth, keeping hidden the dark changes he made within. On top of that it was he who manipulated us all to meet. I suspect he had an awareness of the parties in the Underrealm. What better way to meet with all of them than that malevolent presence?”

Ruth quietly cleared her throat, adding more.

“And the reason for all of this,” Ruth paused, steadying herself before she continued, “he was visiting me. He was checking up on the child within me. It is the offspring of Genius Loci; his child.”

Diniel turned his full attention to Ruth.

“That was why he treated you with such affection,” Diniel added.

“A strange sort of affection a’tha’…” Basil chided.

Ruth gently muttered, appearing to remember what had happened.

“It had almost destroyed me…”

Diniel paused for a moment, choosing his words.

“I suspect he was testing your resolve. He would be always verifying the strength of the mother to produce the best offspring. And in a way having you surrounded by group of friends who are now closer together due to trials would be there to help raise the child.”

“Diniel- lord- is tha’ no’possible?” Basil asked, taking off his bowler to scratch at his hair.

“Normally no. A god can only be from ascending the lowest rung. However with what Genius Loci succeeded in doing has changed that. That is an incredibly dangerous revelation.”

“Ruth, we may need to deal with this child before-”

“No!” Ruth shouted, standing up before the group.

“Please don’t say that. She doesn’t like it when you speak of her like that,” Ruth protested.

“She speaks to you?” Diniel asked, leaning in to listen.

“Yes. S’yliska the Ancath does as well. I- I don’t think Maw will be evil.”

“Hm, she took your old name. But if S’yliska is present, she maybe a balancing force to her. She was the Ancath of Wisdom.”

“You knew of her?” L’yophin asked.

“I did, yes. It was a great tragedy that befell the Scarabaeidae. The agenda of the Church appears to be grim,” Diniel explained vaguely.

“And why are you preparing a vessel? Was it to flee the fallen and demon?”

Soltana answered, filling them all in.

“Not exactly. We dreamed. Adonai commanded us to meet two other Seal holders on Low-nine. One of them is named Gideon.”

“A gorgeous forge sector,” Diniel commented.

“Do you know of’any’more, lassie?” Basil asked.

“I know of others. Two of them are in the clutches of Lucifer.”

Diniel shook his head at that. The rest of the room looked down, knowing what that would mean.

Soltana continued.

“The last one I dreamed of was the strangest. His name is Kheros, Pale One and Bishop of the cursed undead.”

“Undead?” Diniel asked, his voice raising at that.

“Yes. He was a bizarre creature, the Seal emblazoned upon his head like mine. He told me he and his planet was cursed, and that death had somehow returned. Or undeath… That is a new topic for me.”

“It shouldn’t be a matter one knows of at all. Death is no more,” Diniel explained, his flame sparking with a rising anger.

“Which means that there is only one that has the potential to return it. Why she would return such a cursed idea back to the Sometheonic realm would mean that she was desperate or trapped.”

“She? Who is she?” Soltana asked. Worry was beginning to form inside of her at Diniel’s response.

Diniel clutched at his head, looking tired at the rising complications.

“Azrael, the Angel of Death.”

“Angel of Death?” Ruth replied with furrowed brow.

“She was the angel over the dominion of the dead before God’s return changed all of that.”

“But that is for another time. There are rewards to disperse,” Diniel stated.

He pulled the chair to the side, giving enough room for some unknown reason.

Flashing blue light filled the room, leaving behind a large silver chest.

Basil glanced wide eyed from the chest to DIniel.

“My lord. You can’ be…”

“I am. It has moldered for too long. It has been an age since I’ve been part of a group of comrades; those I’ve deemed my equals.”

He glanced to Ruth and Soltana, his flame flickered.

“And my superiors.”

“Inside this chest are the tokens and treasures of my friends. And my love’s…”

 

Diniel paused, glancing away. His flame sputtered with sadness.

Soltana hopped off the couch to Diniel’s side and placed a hand on his ankle.

“Diniel. I’m sorry. We will find them again.”

 

Diniel nodded, his flame flickering.

“While they are gone at this time, I will be united with them again in the future. In fact, I am already united with them.”

Soltana tilted her head at the strange comment.

United with them? Did he not say they were gone? Unless he is speaking through hope of the future…

He cracked open the chest, reaching in and finding an item.

“Soltana, you remind me of him. Grzel, Angel of Revocation. He was calm and steady. His voice broke the oaths of the enemy. Capable of shattering the contracts of demons with but a word and dispelling the lies of the enemy. Able to lift a friend out of the blackest moorase. Able to make the most despondent of us laugh again. He was a rock that one could depend on. You are a rock as well. And to you, Grzel’s heart.”

Diniel placed the large object on the ground. It was too large for her to carry, appearing as two merged silver triangles with a glowing core inside.

“Is it really his… Heart?” Soltana asked, fighting back the macabre feelings.

Diniel gave a chuckle a that, his flame dancing.

“No, Soltana. It is what he named them. A universal power supply of his invention. He sought to make them in competition with others. He was ahead of his time. And now it is yours.”

Soltana pondered that, seeing the gorgeous design and mysterious make. She decided it was the best time to test.

She touched the power supply and stored it in her QSD. The heart vanished in red light, breaking down into starry glints.

Grzel’s heart store – 45/128 Sh – Integrate?

Yes/No

No

“Quantum storage…” Diniel murmured.

Everyone looked at Soltana in surprise.

“Yes. I- well it came to me once I awoke. And it is almost full…”

“I feel this will not be the first surprise you will have for us, Soltana,” Diniel commented with a laugh, his flame dancing.

“Thank you, Diniel. I cannot wait to see what his invention wrought!”

Soltana nodded as she walked back to the couch, sitting and witnessing the others.

“L’yophin. While you do not remind me of Morael, Angel of Awe, I will still gift you what the fae gave to him. He… Never had a chance to see them. He was a fiery and passionate angel, despite his calling. It was an almost ironic title, given his temperament. I say this not to compare or prefer one or the other. I say this to honor his memory. Please.”

Diniel gestured to the spider, who placed down his ale and pipe and skittered to the chest.

“He would be greatly insulted I had left it sit for so long, hidden away.”

He pulled from the chest an odd weapon. It was a bizarre mix of two different worlds. Science and magic.

It was a faesteel pulse rifle. The violet metal glinted against the soft light, highlighting the strange paisley design. The rifle appeared to have a hex rail system, allowing for customization.

“What is that?” L’yophin asked, taken aback at what he was seeing.

“Morael did have a strange sense of things. This was his request from the faequeen herself before the large battle. A weapon as strange as it was beautiful. Treat her well, and the fae spirit inside will score you victory after victory.”

He handed the rifle to L’yophin who sighted it, feeling odd without the correct type of buttstock for dugrums.

“And now, think of sending it away,” Diniel advised.

“What do you mean send away- like this?”

The rifle faded away to nothing.

“What.”

 

“Yes, faesteal is part abstract and can return at the owner’s beck and call. A valuable metal as long as one believes. It is similar to QSD. However in this case, it can be stored within one’s own heart. And it can also be stored in their QSD.”

“And finally, Morael earned this.”

Diniel reached inside, grabbing a small box, which he popped open.

It was a strange glowing rune.

“Morael was supposed to be given the title I also have. Faeward. He was supposed to become fae as I have been gifted. He should have- Hm.”

Diniel stopped himself, his tone betraying past sadness; a past anger.

“Now it belongs to you. It is a faerune, this is how one becomes a faekind.”

He clapped the box shut, handing it to L’yophin.

“I don’t know anything anymore,” L’yophin stated as he sat back down.

“But- Mm- Thank you. I will treasure these,” L’yophin amended.

L’yophin’s eyes darted at the implications.

To become faekind.

What does that mean? What would change?

Soltana had questions, but for now, they could wait in line with the rest of her other mounting queries.

Diniel turned to the hogboon who in turn stood.

“Basil. You have been a loyal an honorable friend. You arrived shortly after Duma, the Angel of Dreams fell. Your laid back and helpful attitude reminded me of him.”

“Aye, I recall. It’was a difficul’ time.”

“Indeed. But you assisted the best you could, even though the fight was never yours to burden.”

“Now I couldn’ le’ those shtate fallen wipe ou’my new home!” Basil replied with a chuckle.

“And for your deeds, I gift you what Duma left behind.”

Diniel gently gripped the item. It was a strange item, more so than the fae steel pulse rifle.

It was a small rounded buckler with a left handed gauntlet affixed on the inside. The ornate shield sported rivets, bolts and strange patterned runes. Soltana could spot the soft glow on the center of the shield.

“What is it?” Soltana asked, curious of the strange item.

“A faesteel lantern shield,” Diniel explained as he handed it to Basil.

“Diniel, my lord… It’s gorgeous.

“The fae spirit inside will keep your faesciath refreshed and even refund the damage received if struck on the shield.”

“Meaning as’long’as’this is takes the blow, my faesciath will stan’!”

“Not to mention the fae spirit inside will light the way and can even blind an opponent in poor lighting.”

“Aye, a rogue’s weapon. My style,” Basil replied, fitting the gauntlet to find it fit comfortably.

“Tha’s strange indee’, a sheath for my dagger…” Basil mumbled as he inspect the shield.

The shield vanished to nothing, just like the fae pulse rifle.

“Diniel, my lord, I have no wor’s-”

“Say no more. You using this is thanks enough. An an honor to Duma’s memory. He always dreamed of the future. I suspect he dreamed of his last moments, but spared me that detail.”

Diniel glanced away, his flame flickered in sadness over the story. He glanced to the final person.

It seems Diniel needs healing as much as we do… Losing friends, even so long ago must still be agony for him. I will do everything I can to help.

“Ruth.”

The shapeshifter blinked as she stiffened.

“Please, come here.”

Ruth obeyed, walk in front of the chest, body stiff and nervous. Diniel stared intently, his flame dancing serenely as he appeared to study her, choosing his words.

“We were a couple. A duet,” he began, keeping his stare, “Me and her. Diniel and Laylah. Angel of Lineage and Angel of Accoucheuse. She would care for and bless the infant and family before their birth. I would bless them after.”

He looked away, his impassive gaze far away. He looked beyond this moment. He was somewhere else.

“You remind me of her, Ruth. It was during that battle. You always looked for a way to help others, based on other’s testimonies and my witnessing.”

“And so to honor her memory, I give to you her locket.”

Diniel tenderly reached down, grabbing a platinum locket. The ornate and mysterious designs were of a master craftsman’s quality. Compared to the other gifts, it was the most plain, but also the most heartfelt. Soltana could feel a strange energy emanating from it.

“It was a gift to me from Laylah. I… I never could open it.”

 

Soltana felt it was implied not due to a physical barrier.

 

Diniel gently handed it to Ruth, as if a single false movement would shatter the locket. Ruth clasped it close, pinching her lips as she looked up at the larger angel.

“I will treasure this. I will honor her memory,” She stated quietly.

Soltana had a sudden question.

“Diniel, what about you?”

Diniel barked a laugh, the heavy moment of his old love washed away.

“I have taken Barthin’s Throne, Bal’trix The Hellsteed. And his lance.”

Diniel gestured to the small warhorse figurine on his waist. Blue light surrounded his hand, equipping his nicked katana.

“What he intended for evil will now be used for good,” Diniel declared.

Soltana nodded happily at that.

An echoing thud resounded in the house.

L’yophin jumped at the sudden noise, his eight eyes snapping to the doorway.

“Outside!” He stated hurriedly as he skittered to the front scrap-door.

Soltana rushed out alongside him to see a gorgeous sight.

Phela had landed, her fur and wings dry and her first flight complete.

“Phela!” L’yophin cried as he rushed to her.

“Go,” she barked a word, her voice soft and tender unlike most Scarabaeidae.

Soltana walked close to hear the conversation, her small form dwarfed by the massive rhomoth.

“Go? You can’t! It’s not safe,” L’yophin explained.

Diniel walked in close, his katana hung in his belt.

The rhomoth snapped her eyes to the angel, then to the sword at his belt.

“Give,” Phela barked the word, holding out an upturned limb.

Diniel nodded, pulling out the katana and hand it to the rhomoth hilt first.

“Wait, you can’t give Phela a sword!” L’yophin protested.

“I sense no ill will. I do sense a strong intent, though.”

“That’s- that’s not even a reason!”

“Look,” Phela barked.

She gently gripped the blade with three of her limbs, her wings flapped gently as she began to work.

The nicked and damaged blade began to flow. The chipping and maring from Azazel’s blade began to fill in. Without any major tell, the blade was reshaped back to its normal form.

“Diniel have mercy…” Basil muttered.

Her massive eyes glanced to L’yophin, blinking impassively.

“Incredible…” Diniel added.

“Of all the abilities this precious rhomoth could obtain.”

Soltana broke from her almost trance-like stare at the amazing scene to look upon Ruth in her Ancath form.

“S’yliska…” L’yophin gasped softly.

“Yes, good L’yophin. We are now fine enough to shift again. She could have had any ability. Control of fire. Mastery of water or wind. Nature or earth. Light or darkness. Antimatter. Life. Rhomoths are the blessed missing link for Scarabaeidae and magic. And this most precious Phela has a natural affinity for metals.”

S’yliska gently pet at the now nuzzling rhomoth.

Phela grabbed at Ruth’s hand, holding it in her own.

“Go,” Phela barked. This time, there was no question of any permission.

“But Phela, It will be dangerous… I cannot lose you.”

“L’yophin,” S’yliska quietly stated. She moved to him, placing her hand upon his head.

Head gripped her hand, a pained looked on his spidery face.

He let out a grunt of approval, his face looking tired.

“L’yophin, if things are going to be dangerous, we will need that ability,” Soltana added.

“Aye, I can think’of’an immediate nee’for patchin’a ship, Dugrum frien’,” Basil interjected.

“Chrysalize?” L’yophin added, perking up and glancing to Soltana.

“Chrysalize… Phela could reshape me…”

Soltana’s mind began to blur at the possibilities.

“It would depend on her stamina,” S’yliska conjectured as she felt at the side of her chitinous face.

“Too little and I’ll be stuck in a crippled halfway state… And not to mention the non-metallic parts,” Soltana concluded.

“Mm, perhaps in the future, she is still an infant and can reshape adamantite at the start. With some time I could see her assistance blossoming,” Diniel explained with a nod as he accepted back the blade.

“Go,” Phela barked again.

Her massive wings rose.

And then flapped down, springing her into the air as she fluttered to the Sigmafly. Soltana was knocked to the ground from the massive burst of wind.

“Oh dear!” She cried.

Everyone else huddled down as the rhomoth took flight.

Her large and graceful form glided over to the vessel, planting down near the hangar ramp.

“Go!” She shouted from afar.

And they laughed, with Soltana giggling alongside them at the ridiculous scene. A rhomoth that could magically shape metals was going to join their crew.

Nothing made sense.

Soltana thought it over. If things made sense, she would still be stuck under the earth, never to be found by the strange dugrum spider who so happened to be her best friend. And then befriended by a shapeshifting seal holder who also doubled as an Ancath and mother to an infant god. And then befriending a strange hogboon with a penchant for song and limerick, as well as boon and bravery. And then gaining the loyalty and covenant of an angel. And she herself could remember her past life, repairing herself inside of a cocoon.

Nothing made sense, but Soltana felt perhaps that a bit of nonsense was a far better option.

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