The Book of Soltana: Takeoff – 64

Takeoff

Underrealm

Ruth Maw S’yliska

She dreamed.

Ruth blinked in confusion at the incredibly lucid vision. One moment she was in L’yophin’s guest room, the next she was elsewhere. She sat among open plains, surrounded by sunflowers. She gazed at the rolling hills of yellow as far as she could see. The cumulus lazily drifted along, guided by a soft warm breeze. She felt a chill down her spine at the sights, sounds, and smells. It felt more real than anything she experienced since the Underrealm; possibly due to the sunlight. The azure orb was but a tiny sphere in the sky, beginning to set. The violet and dark aquamarine horizon painted an awe-inspiring canvas.

The mountains were far to the east, and plains in every other direction, with a large green hill in the distance. She glanced to the sunflowers, finding them as big as sun hats. She heard a loud buzzing off to her right, drawing her attention.

She was face to face with a large fat bumblebee the size of her torso.

It’s tongue was dug firmly into the sunflower as it balanced on several others. It sported all yellow fur with pale chitin, almost blending into the flowers. It wiggled its antenna at her curiously.

She felt no fear or revulsion. In fact, it was one of the more tame creatures she had ever seen.

“Oh. Hello,” She greeted.

She held out a fare hand just out of reach. The bee pulled back its tongue as it moved in, caressing her hand with its antenna before gently nibbling her.

The soft touch tickled her as the mandibles bit down, but she felt no aggression from the creature. It was tasting her, smelling her, trying to figure out who and what she was.

“You are a curious creature!”

The bee fanned its wings in response, emitting a loud buzzing.

“I’m lost. Do you know where I am?”

The bee cocked its head and began cleaning one of its antennae. Ruth swore it was the bee equivalent of stroking its chin.

She could hear the quiet chittering as the bee turned, giving its abdomen a wiggling shake, and then flew off, dusting the area with golden pollen. It spun around, hoving in the air as it waved its limbs.

“Oh!”

Ruth rose and followed along, her path inhibited by the dense packing of sunflowers. She wasn’t a botanist by any means, but all of this felt unusual. Although her experience with plants were singing glowing sentient mushrooms; so this was par for course. She gently pressed ahead, making sure to be cautious of other creatures. A group of small butterflies took flight, being taken by the gentle breeze. The bee paused as it got farther ahead, circling back around. There in the distance was the green hill, sticking out in the sea of yellow.

The bee landed atop the hill and began tapping its front limbs down atop it. She could hear the slapping noise, implying it was solid. The closer she got, the more she realized the hill was massive.

She inspected the hill finding it as moss-covered stone. The bee kept on buzzing and slapping at the hill. It then occurred to her, it was trying to get the attention of something else.

Someone else.

Off to her right was a massive golden eye, blinking intently at her. The iris zoomed to a slit and Ruth gasped as she fell to the ground

The mossy hill moved. The large serpentine neck rose, tilting to view her with one of its two eyes. It was just within feet of her, its eye dwarfing her entire body alone.

The bee buzzed and flew off into the sunflower plains.

“Eh? You woke me for another one?” The massive beast grumbled. His voice was deep bass, of the earth, solid and deep.

“Why can’t they all visit me at once and save me the time-”

“I’m sorry I don’t understand,” Ruth interrupted as she gathered herself.

The beast let out a bass grumbling at that.

“Eh? Don’t understand? Are you a baby?”

“Baby? What? No, I’m-”

The beast cut her off with derision.

“A Seal holder… I can see you know?”

“Oh! Then you know! Where-”

The beast interrupted her, his tone a mocking grinding of stone.

“Where am I? Who are you? Can you help me? Where did you get the Seal? What’s your calling? My bum itches! Rescue me!”

 

“No.”

 

The beast’s bellowing vague refusal knocked Ruth to the ground. The sunflowers were pressed back in a wave.

She gazed up at his face, seeing the massive predatory head gazing fully at her. his two forward facing eyes stared at her. The beasts large mane of bone spikes jutted back behind him. She felt the weight of a mountain in those eyes. And she saw the large branded Seal upon the right side of his throat, mirroring her own.

Ruth started with a stammer.

“You! You’re!”

“A Seal holder, yes! Clever now, are we?” The beast mocked.

Ruth stood, composing herself. The trauma and violence she experienced were put on a brief hold while she spoke to a massive Seal holder.

“My name is Ruth-”

“Don’t care!” The beast shut her down as he turned away, lowering his head to the ground. He shook his neck, sending moss everywhere.

“But you’re a Seal holder like me!”

“And?” the beast grunted a retorted.

“That means Adonai was wanting our help!”

“And?” The creature definiantly stated with a huff. Black smoke rose from his nostrils.

Ruth became angry at that. This stubborn creature definitely irked her.

“Listen! Adonai chose you! You need to help!”

“Ooh, now she’s all angry, that’ll show me!”

The tail of the beast swished and coiled, slamming to the earth, shaking the ground and stumbling Ruth to her knees.

“Listen, little bastard-mixed chimera, and listen well; I’ll state it just once.”

The beast rose to its full height, eclipsing the sun and towering over her. The very planet quaked from its movements. It was the size of a ship. Chunks of moss rained down. It was a dark black shadow to her vision.

“I will put out the eye of arrogance. I will lay low the folly of fools. The bones of my enemies will be my footstool. Their corpses, my bed. The wailing and lamentation will be the song to my soul.”

 

Ruth trembled at the beast. She felt the pressure of the creature’s spirit rising. He felt like Genius Loci.

 

“Can you order a typhoon? Can you demand of a supernova? How do you command an earthquake? Can you beg and plead to a meteor? Will you continue in arrogance and think yourself above the order of things?”

Ruth collapsed to a ball, understanding began to flood her.

“To demand of a dragon invites destruction. See to it that you never make that mistake again.”

“I will let you off easy. Just. This. Time.”

“Begone.”

Ruth nodded, wishing the dream would end.

The dragon obliged, breathing in.

And then breathing out green death.

She was engulfed by the green fire, feeling the slightest hint of being burnt as she was sent away.

She was taken away, wrapped in a white sheet and deposited to the King’s room she occupied before in her first dream. She stood in shock at the sudden violence. Shock at what the beast described itself as. A dragon.

And one that had the Seal.

Ruth had no concept of such creatures. To her, Angels, Demons, and Ancath were the pinnacle of life. This also included herself.

She was wrong.

It was fully aware that she dreamed of it. The strange bee did as well, but that may have been a fluke.

And the dragon was stubborn, ornery, and grumpy. Whatever a dragon was.

I wasn’t the first that dreamed of him. Or implored him to help. Oh! This also means the other Seal holders are dreaming of each other.

 

“You all dream of each other, my daughter.”

Ruth shook from her shock, glancing up into the glory of Adonai. He stood at eye level, clothed in majesty. Seven wings branched from his back, golden roots of glory and creation. He had become more clear, more discernible.

“Ah, you’ve found her,” Adonai stated vaguely.

Ruth glanced back to the figure he stared at.

S’yliska in all of her glory stood. Ruth was taken aback at how different she was.

She had the added addition of an enveloping cloak made of soft wings, colored in white green and yellow patterns, held in place by a mantle of white chitin. The gorget of chitin covered up to her face-vents.

S’yliska twirled her cloak of wings and spun, kneeling down. The chitinous gorget opened, revealing the red muscle flesh of her jaw and lips. She was smiling.

“Lord and King Adonai, it is the highest of honors to see you once again,” S’yliska stated.

“Why do you kneel? I will not have it!” Adonai stated. She could hear his smile.

“Because you are all down there,” S’yliska shot snidely. Even kneeling, Ruth was still dwarfed by S’yliska’s true form.

Adonai walked to here, laughing with a boom.

“Always the clever one.”

Adonai grasped her open hand, clapping it in between his.

“You know of each other?” Ruth asked, confused by the exchange.

Adonai turned, his glory showing down upon her.

“Of course! Our kingdoms have been good allies for a time and a time!”

“Allies??” Ruth asked as realization dawned on her.

Of course, the Kingdom of Heaven would deal with other kingdoms.

S’yliska rose, her heavily armored chitinous form stood imposing.

“We traveled the stars, exploring, trading, and meeting new peoples.”

“And then as a whole, the Ancath dreamed of a kingdom that we could not perceive with our eyes.”

“He, Adonai, guided us to humanity. And the rest is history.”

Ruth stood in shock at the idea of divine politics.

“Do not be shaken by that stubborn dragon. He is more tender then he lets on,” Adonai stated as he moved to Ruth.

She felt the gentle grasp of his hand upon her shoulder. The grip of a protective father. She felt her troubled heart calming.

“Berghain never did take well owing a debt to me,”

“Berghain?” Ruth asked, being overwhelmed by dragons, politics, and God himself.

“Berghain, the Ancient and Mighty Green Dragon, Emperor of Beasts, the Tiller of Planets, and the Stubborn Heart of Pride.”

“Green dragon?” Ruth asked. The mysterious titles confused her. But to till planets meant this dragon could never be described as weak.

“He is destined to meet you. All of you. Only then will his hard heart be made soft; his pride bent low.”

“The evil and vile god Genius Loci has attempted to demoralize you. Exploit you. Destroy you. This infant god, Maw, has a future with you and the others. He intended for evil, but I will intend for good. She will be a downfall for him. As will you.”

Ruth felt a shiver run down her spine.

“But for now, go! Go to Low-nine and meet the others.”

“Daughter of mine, you are the matron. Remember that! Fulfill your calling!”

The dream ended.

Ruth sat in her bed, head palmed from the bizarre set of dreams.

“Are you alright?” S’ylska asked.

I… I will be. I just need a moment. You dreamed of me… Ruth responded.

She was pondering the consequences of that fact.

“Yes. Ruth, you are stronger than you know. I am glad our fates are bound together.”

 

I’m not sure if I’d still be around without you; thank you. Now, where is Maw? Ruth asked, curious at her silence.

“I have heard nothing from her since her confrontation. Genius Loci… That being that did this to us-”

 

Ruth cut her off, her anger boiling.

I will destroy him. Every part of my being, I will dedicate to dismantling- Ruth began in anger, but was cut off.

“Ruth. Please do not say that. To have your vengeance, live well instead. We must get stronger, but do not use your hate or desire for revenge as a motivator. For once that is done, what life would we have left?”

We would be free, Ruth answered coldly.

“And without calling. All of our efforts spent ceasely trying to destroy a foe. Training to hate, to fight, to rage. And then what? We simply switch it off? Would we become another Genius Loci to destroy him?”

 

And what do you suggest? She thought, frustration building.

“Raise the child. Help her find purpose. Show her grace. And perhaps redemption. She may eventually feel that she is responsible for all of this suffering. She must never shoulder that burden. And thus, we must become stronger to raise her right. Fighting for those we love will always lead to a better future than fighting those we hate.”

 

So we shouldn’t eat others anymore? Ruth thought back.

 

“Oh no- we annihilate any that attempt to harm us; or our friends,” S’yliska bluntly stated.

Ruth thought on that as a shiver went down her spine. Both directions would lead them to strength and power, but only one was positive.

And if Genius Loci takes her after the… Birth?

“Then we must prepare quickly. I have little idea when she will arrive.”

Ruth rose from her slumber, letting the covers drop, feeling the cool air against her nude flesh. She sprouted and weaved for herself a silken dress; a skill she was mastering well. She glanced at the full body mirror, finding her clothing plain. She clapped her cheeks, feeling at her face. She contorted through a range of emotions as she tested everything. It all felt strange, being a shapeshifter for so long only to now be staring at her true reflection.

Or it was another form, at least. Genius Loci had shown it to her when he fed himself to her. During the haze of that agony, she was shown her original form. She was human. Faithful One. If Genius Loci were to be believed. Diniel also implied that was the case, but she would reconvene with him soon.

Right now, today was the day they left the Underrealm behind. If her dreams were any indication, different worlds existed beyond her ability to imagine.

She shivered at the idea of that dragon. Whatever it was, a dragon may be a different type of divine being akin to an angel. spirit, or demon. And they were supposed to somehow convince it to join them. Going by the stubbornness and the fact others had dreamt of it, pushing a mountain would easier.

She scowled at the plain clothing. While it was comfortable, it felt too common. She remembered her goblin form and dyed red hair; her big giveaway for her disguise to the others.

I wonder what a Redcap is…

 

Her dress began to change. Undergarments formed alongside several skirts underneath the dress. Waves began to form in the skirt as it lengthened. Silken gloves weaved themselves to her hands, passing her elbows. Silken stockings formed, traveling up to her thighs. Finally, she weaved a shoulder shawl, hiding her arms underneath. She felt at her hair, weaving it into a shortened braid. It was less plain, but for a quick job, it was good enough for her.

She would need to figure out hair color and silk to see if she could merge the two.

“I think that’s good enough!” Ruth said aloud.

 

“And besides, we have a potential wardrobe of clothes thanks to one Ruth.”

Ruth thought back to then and now. Back then, her largest motivator was to gather different abilities, devour those that opposed her and then make her way back to the surface to battle whoever had sent her down here. Chances are it would have resulted in her being flung back down into the depths, going off of the theory that Genius Loci struck her down in the first place. Or her former allies. The resulting chance fight between her and the evil trows was too close for comfort.

And now, due to one very heavily accented hogboon and a mysterious angel, her fate had been changed. Or it was always set in stone to meet them. She shrugged off the silliness of fate and destiny. Right now, the comparison between her old self and new self were planets away. Now she was best friends to a Lambent and Dugrum spider, one of which was a strange automata and the other her people had supposedly genocided. And then to top it all off she was a house for the souls she devoured. And a mother to an unborn god.

Ruth left the bedroom to meet with the others. The house appeared quiet as she felt no vibrations of movement, or the noise or speaking.

I must have slept in.

Ruth hurried down the hall, her feet softly pattering against the aged mushroom wood. She slipped cautiously down the stair, reminded of her time disguised as a goblin. It all felt so quaint now that she had battled the Daer-seehn, fallen angels and a literal god.

At the bottom of the stairs on the front table sat a steaming cup and plate of food.

She could smell the delicious meal, no doubt set out for her. She sipped from the tea, tasting and enjoying the earthy minted flavor. She quickly devoured the roasted and seasoned tuber, finding it just as tasty.

The door in front of her was closed. This would be the last time she stepped foot in this estate. She breathed out, her face filled with determination as she opened the hatched. The door clicked and screeched as it opened. Wake was upon her as the shrooms sat silent and the sky was a deep black.

“Ruth, there they are,” S’yliska pointed out.

 

She turned to find the vessel had been moved. The goblins were all fooling around, playing with Phela. L’yophin and Basil were near the docking ramp, pipes in hand. Soltana and Diniel were lying down on the moss, gazing into the blackness. Ruth perked up and moved to lie down near Soltana.

Soltana turned to stare at her.

“Good wake, Ruth! We all decided to let you sleep in.”

Ruth felt warmness in her chest.

“Thank you. The tea and breakfast were great.”

“Good, just a little longer,” Diniel announced.

“What will we do about the goblins?” Ruth asked.

“L’yophin has decided that they will now be the stewards of the estate,” Diniel explained as his head flame bobbed.

Ruth glanced to Phela, seeing her take off into the sky with a shrieking goblin.

“He was alright with that?” Ruth replied with a cocked eyebrow.

L’yophin loved his estate and was fairly grumpy towards the goblins.

Soltana chimed in.

“He has warmed up to them. And he stated that they already know how to take care of it, as opposed to just letting it get claimed by trows.”

Ruth nodded. A trow would no doubt find this abandoned estate a happy home.

“Diniel, what about your blessings?”

The angel let out a soft sigh as his flame flickered.

“The shrine was destroyed and thus the blessings vanished, undoing my eons of progress. What I did was work with Basil to create a proxy for those still desiring the protection of their infants.”

“A statue?” Ruth responded incredulously.

“Quite. The new shrine will now be here.”

Ruth thought on the idea that L’yophin’s estate would now be a holy site.

She glanced far into the distance, seeing the work had already been done. The large angelic statue stood out against the black of the Underrealm. She glanced back to Phela, seeing the rhomoth had landed and let the Dirk free. He appeared energized by the flight.

“It’s really happening…” Ruth muttered.

Soltana scooted closer and Ruth wrapped an arm around her form, nestling the Lambent in the crook between her arm and torso. It felt odd to her, she expected Soltana to feel cold, but instead felt a slight warmth from her.

Soltana tilted her had, peering at her with red glowing eyes.

“Ruth, are you alright?”

She thought about it for a moment. The dream was terrifying at first, but Adonai had helped to encourage her of the battle with Genius Loci. Seeing his interaction with S’yliska was also fascinating. However, things were about to change. The future was uncertain.

“I can’t say I feel safe,” she responded with a furrowed brow.

She glanced back to Phela, seeing all of the goblins playfully pushing her over. The rhomoth’s limbs went straight as sticks as they climbed atop and began giving her bellyrubs.

“I doubt any of us do,” Diniel added.

Ruth nodded in understanding. Genius Loci was still present.

There was little she could but rest now. Their journey to Low-nine would begin soon.

Ruth heard a shrill whistle from the direction of the Sigmafly. Basil was waving them down.

“Ah, I believe they are all ready,” Diniel announced as he rose to his feet.

Phela skittered to the ship with the goblins atop her.

Ruth got up with Soltana in arms like a doll. They made their way to the ship, with everyone looking tense or sad.

“Please don’t leave!” Dirk cried as he lept off of Phela to the group.

The other goblins cried out in agreement.

“Little ones. We must leave. But do not be sad. We shall return,” Diniel explained.

“Ok…” Dirk muttered

“Go!” Phela cried as she skittered up the docking ramp. Ruth glanced inside, seeing she had to squat down. Her wings would be constrained by the vessel.

“Will she be alright?” Ruth asked. A creature like that, cooped up inside might not be healthy for her.

“I will tend to her,” Diniel suggested as he stopped at the ramp. His flame flickered as he began a speech.

“Goblins, we leave for Low-nine. You are now the caretakers of this estate and the shrine. I expect this place to become a hub of activity very shortly,”

Diniel turned his attention to L’yophin. The Dugrum let out a sigh as he nodded.

“The estate is yours. Just- just take good care of the dekapillars.”

“We will!”

 

None of the other dekapillars had hatched, meaning it would just be Phela.

Diniel continued.

“Let this day mark the start of our journey and the Seal holder’s mission. And mark your new duties as stewards to the estate and shrine.”

The goblins all nodded enthusiastically.

“Good! In the father’s name let our journey be safe. Amen,”

Diniel concluded with a nod. The goblins rushed to them with tears in their eyes.

“We’ll miss you!”

Ruth was embraced by several of the goblins.

Soltana was picked up and embraced in a group hug from the goblins.

“Alright, my little ones… Hmm, larger ones, be safe, and be well. We will come back. When I do, I’ll be bigger than ever and you can all ride on me again!” Soltana promised.

“How big were you?” L’yophin asked.

“Easily twenty feet in my dreams.”

L’yophin’s eyes darted around as he tried to process the size.

“Do not worry, I will not leave you because you will be shorter.” Soltana encouraged.

Ruth saw the embarrassment beginning to flow through the dugrum.

“You are terrible at this!” He shouted as he skittered inside the vessel.

“Take care of the dekapillars!” L’yophin rasped.

The goblins nodded, their heads jerking up and down at the grumpy spider. Soltana trotted up inside the vessel with the dugrum.

“Well Ruth, I think we’can go’now,” Basil invited as he held out his hand.

“Shall’we?”

Alright. Here we go.

“Stand firm, Ruth. We go on this adventure together,” S’yliska exhorted.

“Lassie?”

Ruth glanced down at the hogboons inviting hand and nodded.

She took it, allowing herself to be led up the ramp.

He sang a tune, reminding her of the first time they met.

“A pence for a stub, an’ I’ll be down’county.”

“A shilling an’ I’ll be across’plane.”

“Bu’a farthing? A farthing! I’ll be gone onto the nex’worl’, beggin’ a pence!”

“A pence, a pence! Beggin’ a pence!”

Ruth gave a laugh at the strange song.

“What was that?” She ask as she traveled up the ramp.

“An’ol’ beggar’s song of my own make. Better’to give the scoundrel a ticke’ an’ sen’em packin’!”

“So that’s how you traveled?”

“Aye. An’ then en’up here- coul’a swore I was on the righ’ transpor’…”

Ruth giggled again.

“Were you always a hogboon?” She asked.

“Nay! I was a scrappy goblin, always searchin’for the next melody, manor, or mea’!”

“Go’down here, foun’a’moun’ an’ woke up as the strange fae-bein’ you see!”

Ruth nodded, turning back to the closing entrance and the waving goblins. The hangar ramp shut, sealing them inside.

It was just six.

L’yophin.

Soltana.

Ruth.

Basil.

Diniel.

Phela.

The party was complete. The journey had begun. Ruth stood amongst the group as they all silently stared at one another. Diniel broke the silence first.

“Let Adonai guide us, guard us, and grant us victory.”

Everyone nodded, murmuring an affirmation.

“I will tend to Phela and keep her calm,” Diniel suggested.

L’yophin skittered his way to the bridge, with Soltana in tow. Diniel moved to Phela, gently stroking her nuzzling head.

I doubt it will be comfortable here for her.

“They do need to stretch their wings and limbs, but I believe Diniel will take care of her,” S’yliska replied.

“I will be in one of these quarters,” Ruth stated.

“Aye, A goo’ shuteye soun’s abou’righ’- an’ then ge’some boons.” Basil added, breaking off from the group to another room.

Ruth traveled behind Basil, out of the small hangar and into the long hall with rooms on the right. Basil took the first that he saw.

“An’this will be my room!”

Ruth glanced as she passed, pausing at the sight as the door opened.

It was an empty utility closet.

Basil glanced back sheepishly.

“Are you sure you want it?” Ruth snidely commented.

Basil put on a determined look, pushing his bowler forward towards his brow.

“I sai’ the room was mine, so this room is mine!”

Basil entered the closet and sat with folded legs and folded arms.

“Aye, this room ain’to bad-” Basil began as the door slammed shut, “-once you ge’use’- now, hey now- tha’ was very rude you know! You blaste’door- I was talkin’ to her! Shesh!”

Ruth giggled at the silly hogboon as she determined to find an actual room.

The next room on her right opened, revealing a medical center. All of the beds were stored away in wall compartments.

“Not it,” Ruth muttered, but made note of where she could find it. Second room before the hangar.

The next room over was an almost empty luxury room, furnished with some of L’yophins amenities from the mansion. She spotted the outline of the bed, made of the coiled green metal she was so accustomed to now.

“It will most likely be modular, so you don’t have to worry about sleeping in a dugrum shaped bed,” S’yliska commented.

Ruth gave a smiling nod as she assessed the lavatory.

She glanced in, seeing the waterfall well sink that traveled to the floor. The water would drain away in the center of the room. She glanced at her reflection, finding a mirror that traveled along the walls. She went to the sink and pressed a button, seeing the gentle waterflow begin to fill the small sink.

“Curious…”

She felt her heart skip, a feeling of disquiet trembled through her.

She glanced to the mirror, seeing the reflection staring back at her. She felt again at her face, finding the one staring back was odd and unfamiliar. The hazel eyes that stared back were heavy with conflict.

A brief tremble rocked through the ship as she felt rocked to one side.

Takeoff.

Her trembling hands felt through her soft golden hair. She remembered portions of what Genius Loci was telling her in that moment of agony. She tried to push it back down. She heard his voice.

The voice of her defiler, Genius Loci.

“You destroyed them.”

 

“Friends. Family. Men and women. Children.”

 

“You monster.”

Her breathing became shallow.

S’yliska. Where are you?

“You slew my followers. And your followers. You devoured them all.”

 

“You murdered them.”

 

“You absolute horror.”

 

She could feel the emerald god laughing at her as it continued.

“I could never be more proud of you, my daughter, my love, mother to our child.”

She caught a glistening of sweat travel down her brow. She felt at it, curious as to why she was feeling this way. A drop of red crimson trailed down her nose, spilling over her lip. She gasped as she wiped at the blood with the back of her hand.

What- What’s wrong? I can’t control it…

 

It dripped into the sink, clouding the water.

“S’yliska? Where are you?” Ruth said allowed.

She felt her heart slamming in her chest. It was odd feeling herself lose control. Her heart and lungs were more or less unneeded; all part of the disguise.

“S’yliska!” Ruth cried as the blood continued to flow.

She washed her hands, running them to wipe at her bloodstained nose and mouth. She looked into her reflection, seeing blood trickle from her eyes. And then her ears. Her vision became cloudy.

She felt panic start to build.

“What..?” She gasped, finding her voice weak.

She stumbled from the lavatory, blood trailing behind her.

“Soltana… L’yophin. I think I need help.”

 

The door to her room slid open as her legs gave out, a sudden weakness stealing into her. She felt something else was leeching away at her.

She let out a cry of pain at the sudden stabbing pain in her forehead. It lanced and traveled through her skull. Her vision went black as her ears rang like a massive tuning fork.

Basil was in the hallway, rushing to her.

 

“Ruth! I’m sorry, I can’t hold her back anymore!” S’yliska spoke up.

Ruth understood what that meant.

 

No. Not yet…

 

It can’t be now.

 

We’re not ready.

 

A familiar voice spoke up. One that had been with her since she awoke in the Underrealm.

 

“I’m sorry Ruth. I’m too big now. He- he did something to me. Made me grow faster.”

 

Please, Maw, not now… Not after we just survived. Ruth thought back in desperation.

“I’m sorry. M-mother,” Maw replied, her voice quiet and pained as she stammered on the new word.

Horror and fear flooded Ruth. They were all in sudden danger so soon after their victory. Not just because of the possible birth, which was an incredible unknown, but also of who was looking out for Maw.

Because of the one that made her.

“Lassie! Wha’s wrong??” Basil shouted.

She couldn’t see but turned to the direction of the hogboon.

She rasped two words.

“She’s here.”

 

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