Soltana was free.
It had finally dawned on her as she entered the vessel and followed L’yophin down the main hall vein to the pilot’s chambers. It was a new feeling. She could analyze it as the complete inverse of what she felt being trapped. Freedom. The twisted green door branched open, revealing an empty room.
She glanced around the room, seeing no obvious sign of a piloting interface.
“L’yophin, Where is the piloting component?”
The dugrum tilted his head, showing just two of his eight eyes to her.
“Modular,” he stated with a grunt.
“Modular?-” Soltana began to ask, but was cut off as the room shifted. The floor shifted, raising a large bowl in the center.
L’yophin skittered to the center of the raised, platform, sitting in the center. Another half sphere slid from underneath the bowl, enclosing the dugrum in a twisted coiled metal sphere. The sphere continued to roll in place, with Soltana imagining the spider tumbling about inside.
The external comms clicked on, with L’yophin grunting as he spoke.
“See? Modular,” his gruff voice echoed over comms.
“Oh. These vessels are fascinating…” Soltana murmured.
The far coiling of wall flattened and blinked, creating a viewscreen. She could see the outside, well into the darkness that was the Underrealm. The glowshrooms stood out like mini suns, brightening the screen.
Before Soltana could ask the important question, L’yophin spoke up.
“Nightvision. Very useful down here. Amplifies all light,”
Soltana nodded silently, walk to the viewscreen to see the outside clearly for the first time.
“Fascinating… So you take the ambient light and amplify it. I wonder…” Soltana began to process.
Modular created – Night Vision: Amplifies current visible light for better visibility
“And because my eyes emit light, perfect darkness doesn’t exist!”
“Huh?” L’yophin asked over comms, confused by her one-sided conversation.
“Oh, I made night vision as well,” Soltana responded matter of factly.
“Made? Like right now? I- well I guess that is normal for you,” L’yophin began before giving up.
“Brace yourself,” L’yophin announced.
A small coiled chair sprouted from the floor, allowing Soltana to seat herself.
She sat down, bracing as the Sigmafly took off. She felt strange at feeling little feedback of their takeoff. She got one last glance of the estate before L’yophin’s vessel shot off into the darkness. It was faster than the Shell Shop, either by performance or choice. The green painted sky stood out to her as she could suddenly see for miles.
“Wow…” Soltana whispered.
She had no idea just how big it was. The hiveships stood out, large twisted metal mountains in a land of glowing mushrooms, their lights a different hue. The Sigmafly rushed onwards toward a rocky crevice. The opening in the wall was large and smooth, possibly carved out some time ago.
“Is this how you all made it down here? It still wouldn’t fit the hiveships…”
“For smaller vessels, yes. Hiveships, no. Excavators come, lay down transceivers. Then as you would put it, quantum storage,” The Dugrum explained.
Soltana tried to process what she heard.
“Well, more like quantum jump- leap? Leap-spider? Ah, I lack the words…”
They passed through the cave, making an almost ninety degree angle straight up. There she could see it. For the first time in recent memory, she could see the pinprick forming of sky.
We must be miles underneath.
The exit expanded in size as they closed the gap. The ridged cave zoomed past, giving her the feel of an otherworldly journey. The screen quickly faded out the nightvision as the sky fully illuminated them. The Sigmafly flew free from the cave, shooting into the sky. Soltana spotted the yellow sequence in the distance, and the vastness of desert mixed with oasis. The Sigmay fly did a lap, showing her the cave was among a dotted mountain spire. She would have had trouble spotting the spire they came from if it was her first time going in. A dark thought led her.
“L’yophin, can others see us?”
“If using only eyesight? No. Veiling keeps us well hidden.”
Soltana nodded. She could hardly process the brightness of it all. She could see from one curved horizon to the other. A strange thought occurred to her.
“We’re on a sphere…”
“You… You’ve never seen a planet before??” L’yophin replied, baffled at her isolation
“I may have, but forgotten. I actually never thought about what the shape of the celestial body we inhabited.
The dugrum grunted in approval. They passed the rubble of a small city.
“What is that.?”
To see an abandoned city was questionable at best.
“Ominous,” L’yophin replied.
The ship arched up, breaking into the atmosphere. The hull around the viewscreen glowed blue, implying some sort of energy shielding. She felt no trembling of friction as they left the atmosphere. The whole of space opened up to them. Galaxies, nebulas, suns and star systems splayed out in front of her. Soltana sighed upon seeing the familiar comforting sight.
“L’yophin, this feels like…”
She couldn’t explain it apart from one word.
That idea settled into her. It was correct.
“What is?” he asked.
“Space,” Soltana answered quietly.
She knew it in her very theonic core, this was where she should live. This only added another question.
How did I get underground?
For all she knew, she had no ship, nor were there any signs of other Lambents. She felt a sudden loneliness that stuck out, like a bladed splinter in her soul. Soltana stored it away for later, not fully understanding what that meant.
Strange vessels occupied the outer gravity well. Dozens of vessels stood sentinel.
“What are those?” Soltana asked.
L’yophin was silent, making a pained grumbling from his pilot sphere.
“Beginning FTL jump,” L’yophin announced, avoiding her question.
“Beginning what?-” Soltana could barely get the question out as the sight in front of her changed. The stars streak passed as a rainbow kaleidoscope.
Her shock at the sudden scene silenced her. She felt a new mixture of feelings which she could not describe.
The pilot sphere opened up, letting the dugrum spider free as he skittered to the screen.
“Never tire of seeing it,” L’yophin muttered as his eyes danced along the screen.
Soltana’s processes were interrupted by the shriek from the cabins.
She got to her feet, glancing at the door.
“Ruth!” L’yophin bellowed as he skittered to the main hall vein.
She rushed down the hall, where she spotted Basil holding on to Ruth, trying to figure out what was wrong with her. She thrashed against the wall, whipping into Basil and sending him flying. A slight violet shield fire off, cushioning him from the impact. He blinked away and then back into existence in front of them.
“Diniel’s mercy, wha’s wrong with you, Ruth?!” Basil shouted as he held out his arms to hold them back.
Ruth was thrashing along the ground, tearing at her skull. Flesh tore and ripped, leaving bloodied hair along the hall. She let out a gurgling shriek at the wracking pin coursing through her. Soltana ducked through Basil’s legs, running to her side
“Ruth! Ruth! We’re here! What’s going on?!” Soltana cried, trying to see what was wrong with her head.
Diniel came in from the other end of the hall vein, his wings flared as he swept down the hall in a rush, getting to her side.
“She’s coming! AAAAGH!” Ruth managed to get out, her skull bulged with sudden movement.
Soltana glanced to Diniel, his faceless head impassive.
“Maw,” Diniel stated camly. He grasped Ruth with four arms trying to gather her up.
Diniel grasped as he began making his way to the hangar bay. She thrashed, her arms resembling broken boney weapons as she struck out in agony. Ruth’s lungless scream was unending as her body writhed. Soltana heard bones snapping, tendons tearing, Ruth’s body began to resemble a bloody rag doll. Her skull bulged, as if the pressure would crack it in half. Bloody tears streamed down her eyes, nose, and poured from her mouth.
“Don’t touch the blood!” Soltana shouted to the others.
She didn’t want to see a repeat of what she what happened to the Daer-seehn. For all she knew, even her blood would be fatal, thinking herself under attack. L’yophin hopped to the wall, skittering along the ceiling. Basil blinked along the hall, never touching the floor. Soltana trudged through the pools of blood, leaving behind tiny crimson prints. Her mind felt ice calm at the suddenly horrific situation.
Diniel placed her on the ground in the center of the hangar, her body was misshapen, bloated, shedding pools of blood. Phela was wide awake and agitated, her body trembling at the sights and sounds.
“Diniel, do somethin’!” Basil shouted.
The rhomoth was in the way.
“Time lock!” Diniel cast, sealing the rhomoth.
“Sanctuary!” He added, encasing the frozen rhomoth inside a glowing sphere.
L’yophin gripped the ceiling, with Basil hanging from a coiling of pipe.
Soltana felt the Seal on her head flaring to life at seeing her friend hurt.
L’yophin looked on in shock from upside down.
“Medical equipment!” He shouted as he skittered back into the hall.
“Do not touch her! She may devour flesh!” Diniel shouted.
“Basil, lend me everything,” Diniel ordered.
A stream of fae energy left Basil’s hands as he held tight on the pipe, away from the pool of blood forming along the hangar floor. The beam connected with Diniel, giving him more fae magic to work with.
Soltana felt power building up, remembering what Genius Loci said to her.
She remembered what Genius Loci stated.
“I will need to remove the offending god, it needs to be destroyed.”
“Don’t you D-AAAAAGH!” Ruth shrieked in protest. She thrashed around, her flesh sloughing off. The hangar was pooled with blood. There was too much blood for a small and petite being such as Ruth.
“Diniel, we can’t destroy Maw,” Soltana explained. Diniel’s face snapped to hers as she began to step closer.
His posture was that of anger.
“I will not allow a Seal holder to fall. Maw will be destroyed to rescue her,” Diniel replied, firm anger evident in his tone.
“I cannot allow that,” Soltana said, determined to not budge. She got near Ruth, her Seal flaring to life. Diniel was physically pushed away as a red shield enveloped Ruth and Soltana.
“Soltana! Do not keep me out! We cannot have the Emerald god’s progeny living!”
Diniel was silenced. His form became a vibrating statue with an angry posture. Basil’s eyes went wide in terror. Soltana looked to the newcomer. Everyone went silent and unmoving, apart from Ruth who was frothing blood at the mouth, her shrieking gurgling breaking the silence.
“Diniel’s mercy… No’again…” Basil muttered in horror.
A being with an emerald victorian suit appeared. He adjusted is green frock with one hand, pointing at Diniel with the other. His cueball head was of aged cracked porcelain. His large smile sported razor sharp teeth, different from his old flat-toothed smile.
Genius Loci appeared nearby, holding a hand directed to Diniel.
Soltana could feel a strange energy emanating from him, similar to Ruth when she transformed into S’yliska. Ruth’s power was a city sized bonfire.
Genius Loci’s was a burning sun.
He methodically stepped to her, a strange dancing pace from some unknown song. The pools of blood flowed away, leaving him unscathed, as if on instinct it knew that he was a danger.
“Diniel, Diniel, Diniel! Don’t be so boring! Just hold back and watch. The birth of my daughter is at hand.”
He took a step forward, seeing the red spherical shield and Ruth’s bloody form.
“Well, looks like Ruth, my love, isn’t going to make it. Looks like an infant god needs a lot of resources to birth. I will mourn for her for a time. But this was necessary! Progress! Advancement! And-”
L’yophin entered the room from the ceiling, seeing the emerald god in the flesh, channeling his psychokinetic energy into Diniel. He dropped the medical equipment to the floor in shock.
“Dwarfy! You’re up there! Join my crew, we need a loomer. We have friday brunches!” Genius Loci offered once again.
L’yophin stood stock still, in total shock at the impossible creature.
Ruth sputtered, blood painting the inside of the shield red. Soltana was bathed in blood, but held firm onto Ruth’s bulging form. She was more a bloated mound of flesh, with her skull bulging to bursting.
“Ruth. I will rescue you,” Soltana stated firmly.
Genius Loci walked to a frozen Basil, grasping the hogboon by the scruff, unhandling him from the ceiling.
“Watch, hoggy, we’ll see what she can do.”
Soltana felt the power of Seal burn inside of her head with a heat that should have been absorbed by the adamantite. She felt the words to speak, gently palming Ruth’s head.
“Two souls combined are now split. Theo to theo, soma to soma. Depart the god within, return to Ruth what is Ruth’s. Return to Maw what is Maw’s.”
Genius Loci trembled with excitement, the others were silent.
Soltana felt the power building up, radiating away from her.
“Let Maw depart unharmed, and let Ruth be expunged unharmed.”
“In the name of Adonai, release,” Soltana finished her litany and the Seal flared white hot.
The roar of the energy burst defeaned the cabin. L’yophin gripped down with a spidery shriek, and Basil bellowed as he covered his eyes. Soltana’s Seal was discharged. The light subsided, leaving a bloody Ruth still and unmoving. The red sphere shield vanished.
“Watch,” Genius Loci commanded the others.
Her bloodied eyes snapped open as she let out a pained groaning. Her body instantly shrunk back down to normal, her garb in rags. Her skull expanded and burst, skull fragments and brain matter splattered the area. Soltana was sprayed with sudden gore and brain matter. A massive worm began to burrow it’s way free, knocking Soltana away. It was too large for Ruth’s head, as if one could thread a needle with a sloop. It’s hideous multi layered maw opened wide with a silent scream, revealing rows of teeth, as far as the eye could see into the worm. It wiggled free, it’s yellowed pale flesh seizing about as it pulled free from Ruth’s skull, covered in her fresh blood.
It was six feet in length and around five hundred pounds. It thrashed along the ground, rolling to the far wall of the hangar, bumping up against Phela’s protection. The blood around the room flowed as if alive, rushing off to the worm, being absorbed into the creature’s maw. The creature went still, breathing silently.
Soltana looked down to the ruined body of Ruth. She felt herself in shock upon seeing her friend’s ruined body, and ruined head. Half of her skull was gone; empty. Her left and only eye stared vacantly at nothing as she lay still.
“Ruth. Please wake up,” Soltana began quietly.
She began to gently shake her.
Soltana began to tremble, her right humanoid hand shaking.
“Ruth, please. Don’t go,” Soltana began, her voice flat and calm.
Her body was still.
“Ruth!” She cried out, her voice trembling.
Tears streamed down Basil’s cheeks. L’yophin was chittering in a whispered tone, his limbs shaking.
Genius Loci was waiting still with baited breath.
“Ruth! RUTH!” Soltana shouted now, shaking her unmoving body.
Soltana let out an unintelligible cry as she gripped Ruth’s cold hand. Her flesh was a pale grey white.
Genius Loci ruined the moment as he dropped Basil onto the newly clean deck.
“This is the part where she falls to ash. What gives?” He stated aloud.
He strode to Soltana and Ruth, hands clasped, smile predatory.
Her eyes snapped to the god, her anger burning at him.
“You stay away from her you-”
And before she could think, she was flying, spinning in place. The room was a sudden blur as she tumbled about, unable to get her bearings.
He could hear Genius Loci speaking, his voice coming out in a strobing.
“Don’t be like that, Soltana. You’d all be dispersed matter right now if I desired. I’m just checking on my love.”
Soltana flew against the wall with a bang, her systems updated.
Warning: moderate kinetic damage received, please repair soon!
She lay in a stunned heap, seeing Genius Loci stepping and kneeling down to Ruth.
He felt inside her skull, the squishing noise enraged Soltana at seeing her friend being abused as such.
“Leave her alone-”
“She’s healthy.” Genius Loci stated firmly.
He gathered grey matter into has hands, feeling it before tasting it. His personality changed. It was cold, analyzing.
A scientist examining his results.
“No depletion suffered. Patient comatose. Automatic healing halted.”
He turned a flat mouthed gaze to Soltana. Then back to Ruth.
“Exorcism was successful, brought about by a Seal infused Lambent.”
“Query: will any exorcist do or is the Seal holder necessary?”
“What are you doing to-”
Soltana couldn’t finish as she was slammed into the wall with a pressure that buckled her.
She felt something new.
She blacked out for a brief second, her systems updating.
Warning: critical internal damage sustained! Seek immediate repairs!
“Please do not interrupt me again,” Genius Loci ordered, his voice going low, his tone dead serious.
“Subjects show signs of great emotional distress towards fallen patient. Zero signs of permanent damage sustained on patient apart from psychological. Irrelevant overall. Infant appears strong, healthy and content with soft play-animal,” Genius Loci continued, staring at the frozen Phela.
Genius Loci walked to Maw. He felt her fleshy hide, his hands gently caressing her as he whispered to her.
Genius Loci returned back to the center of the room, towering over Ruth’s fallen form.
“Conclusion: A complete success on all counts. Theory: patient has a half century to recover before a second offspring is created.”
Genius Loci strode to Soltana, who tried to stand, finding one of her legs failed her. He picked her up and cradled her as a doll.
Genius Loci began in a singsong mockery.
“Soltana, Soltana! Lovely Soltana! Adorable Soltana! I think, I’m falling, In love, with you!”
She felt his bizarre finger tracing her Seal. She felt her very theonware blanch.
“Amazing, simply amazing at what Seal holders can do. I wrote you off as a fluke during our fight. But now… Oh, ho ho! But now!”
She felt her limbs and body unresponsive, the damage sustained was critical.
“What? You thought adamantite could stop me? I could rip you out through your eyeholes.” His voice dropped to it’s deep pitch. He was in complete control. Diniel was still frozen, trying to free himself.
Soltana felt weak, her power was fading as it began to heal her damage.
“Aw don’t be like that. I’ll love you both equally! I always wanted a harem! You just can’t find quality female nowadays…” Genius Loci began as he trailed off.
“How did you appear?” Soltana began to ask, her voice scattering with distortion.
“Good question!” Genius Loci replied with mirth, like a laughing door suddenly clapping shut.
He gently placed her down, moving to Diniel and caressing his face.
“Diniel, Diniel. Please don’t be so boring next time. I might get a bad case of the disintegrations!” Genius Loci warned with a shrieking laugh.
It was a credible threat.
Soltana could only watch as he processioned around the room to Phela and Maw. He caressed the worm’s hide, she could see him trembling.
“She has my eyes,” He exclaimed.
Soltana was lost by the comparison, as both he and the worm had no eyes.
“Ah what a gorgeous specimen,” he added, glancing to the rhomoth.
“Will you be a good stuffed animal for my precious girl? I’ll take your silence as yes,” Genius Loci answered the time locked rhomoth.
He turned to stare at Basil and L’yophin.
“I would take you, but I already have a hogboon. He’s sensitive about being the special one.”
“He moved to L’yophin, brushing against L’yophin’s head, his fingers tracing in the fur. Genius Loci sighed at the silence as no one answered him.
“Alright, I’ve seen enough. I figure if I take any of you, you’ll all get sad and cry, waaa,” Genius Loci relented with mockery as he looked to the group.
“All of you are charged with raising my child. I’ll know if you try to ditch or harm her. Do not doubt me on this.”
“I’ll be back, let’s say a millenia? An eon? Whatever. Bye now!” Genius Loci valdicted as his form became transparent and lost all physical limits.
He rushed passed them to the back of the vessel, leaving the Sigmafly and jettising himself into space out of the FTL tunnel.
Soltana didn’t know what to think. Diniel came to, his form dropping to his knees.
“Cleansing of Time.”
He cast his spell without hesitation on Ruth. Her physical form returned, her skull put itself back together, her flesh flowed and thickened, putting her old weight back on instantly. Still she lay unmoving.
Diniel looked to Soltana, and channeled more energy.
“Cleansing of Time.”
Soltana felt her internals pop and warp back into place as they should, the terrifying presence of Genius Loci and the scarring effects of him were reduce and numbed, but not entirely removed. She rose to her feet, slowly making her way to Ruth. Basil and L’yophin rushed to her side, with the Dugrum gathering his medical kit.
“Get her to the medical bay! Hurry!” L’yophin shouted as the effects the god were shaken.
Diniel pointed to Phela.
“Cleansing of Time.”
The shield and her timelock vanished. The rhomoth glanced around the room in confusion until she spotted the large worm. As if by instinct she fell to her side, gripping the worm tightly in her warmth. Phela stayed put, gently stroking the worm’s hide, trembling in shock, as if feeling the aftereffect of the horror. The worm was asleep, breathing contently.
Soltana walked out of the room, unable to think of the terror she just experienced. The entire trip had taken a massive disastrous by the unknown god known as Genius Loci. It seemed as though Genius Loci could appear at any time, and could always follow them, harassing or even destroying them at will.
They were trapped in the black hole’s gravity well of the Emerald god.
They rushed to the medical bay, making sure to cleanse any loose blood. Diniel gently placed Ruth into a medical bed, stepping aside for the others. L’yophin scanned her from afar, avoiding direct contact.
“Life-signs stable. Her… Decentralized system is well, suffering no cell degradation,” the dugrum announced.
Soltana was instantly relieved at that.
“Why is she not waking?” She asked worriedly.
Diniel glanced to her, his body language spoke of defeat.
“The toll of the childbirth must have been too intense on a level beyond time. The birth of a god is such an unknown, I cannot theorize.”
“Now wha’? We have a bloody shtate of a god after us and Ruth… Oi lassie, oi get up…” Basil was in tears, partially out of fury, partially out of terror.
“We continue,” L’yophin announced.
“You are correct, we cannot turn back now,” Diniel affirmed.
They all looked to her. She felt their gazes, as if asking for encouragement.
“We keep to Low-nine. I trust Adonai has Ruth,” Soltana exhorted.
Diniel and L’yophin nodded, with Basil wiping his eyes on a sleeve.
“Diniel have mercy, wha’do we do..?”
“And Maw?” Diniel asked, his voice raising.
“We care for her. You heard him. We have no choice,” Soltana explained.
Diniel folded both sets of arms, nodding at her assessment.
The crew was silent; at a loss at what to do. Every mismove was destruction, every correct choice was doom.
Basil was the first to leave in a daze. Diniel followed silently behind. L’yophin glanced to Soltana, then to the door.
“I… I will monitor the flight,” He announced as he made his exit.
Soltana was left alone with Ruth. She walked to the bed, attempting to get up. And then promptly fell over.
“Oh, I am too short,” Soltana muttered.
She sat against the wall, arms braced against her knees.
“Ruth. I-” Soltana began to say, but stopped.
She felt again a feeling she remembered from before. After she was rescued from her prison of stone.
She stored it away in her memory module for later.
She trembled, confused as to why she still felt it again. She stored that away as well.
Not matter how much she tried to store the feeling away, it returned.
She spoke with a tremble. She felt a slight lurch as they left FTL, possibly one of many stops to reposition.
“Ruth, I- I couldn’t protect you. I don’t know what to do.”
She looked up, seeing Ruth’s blond hair spilling over the bed.
“He said I was a guardian. I failed twice. I am no guardian. I am no friend…”
She got up, her limbs still trembling from fear.
I need to see her. I need to see the one Ruth was speaking of. I need to see this child.
Soltana exited the medical room, leaving Ruth behind.
The hallway was pristine compared to minutes ago, the blood having been cleaned. She had little idea if it would have attacked and tried to absorb others. The hangar bay door opened, revealing Diniel sitting on his knees, his hand gently placed upon the hide of the worm. Phela was trembling, chittering to herself as she gently massaged Maw.
The worm tilted its head, addressing Soltana. All she saw were rows upon rows of teeth. It was difficult to understand how being of such girth had been growing inside of Ruth.
Diniel spoke, his voice trembled.
“I…I have misjudged her.”
Soltana was confused by his words. And then she placed a hand on the worm’s soft fleshy hide. A voice broke into her mind. The speaker was weeping. Mortified. Afraid. She was filled sorrowful regret.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’ve hurt Ruth; I’ve hurt everyone… I-”
Soltana backed away, the feelings too intense for her. Diniel interrupted her thoughts.
“She’s taken on the burden of injuring Ruth and of endangering us. What I expected, a greedy and malevolent being, has humbled me. I see her lineage and… I will guide and comfort her.”
He was going to destroy her, even with Genius Loci’s warnings…
“Help,” Phela barked as more of her limbs gently tickled along the worm’s hide.
“Are births always this… Sad?” Soltana asked.
“No- not anymore. Never. This beyond the realm of normal,” Diniel responded with a sigh.
“Diniel, I failed Ruth. I wanted to protect her- I needed to protect her. And now she’s-”
“She is still alive thanks to you. And this child will not carry the burden of having destroyed her own mother, as Genius Loci predicted.”
“Wait, how did you know? What happened to you? You were stuck; frozen…”
“I was trapped within a labyrinth inside my own mind. I could perceive everything, as if it was the horizon above. He is a terrifying foe.”
Soltana glanced down, she felt trapped once again inside the tomb of rock and stone.
“You are not a failure, Soltana,” Diniel firmly stated.
“But I am no Guardian,” she stated.
“And you have not the authority to judge yourself; for if you did have that authority, your identity would be failure. But that is not the case, you are the Guardian, and more. You can no more declare yourself not-a-guardian as a glowshroom cannot declare itself a rock. You will fail, you will fall and you will gain strength to heft your shield. Continue to rise,” Diniel explained.
Soltana nodded, but Diniel continued.
“Please hold onto this, Soltana. Ruth is alive, this new infant is alive. Many of us are still here because of you,”
Soltana felt a tremble in her spirit.
The Maw shifted and scooted to Soltana. The Lambent held out her hand, and the worm gently clicked her teeth down upon her limb- a love bite.
She could hear Maw’s thoughts.
“Soltana. T-thank you. Without you, Genius Loci would have taken us. You are a good friend. Ruth loves you.”
“Soltana!” Phela barked. It appeared she only spoke a single word at a time.
Soltana didn’t know what to think at that.
Perhaps, I should simply take their words at face value. I may not have saved them how I thought I would, but they still look up to me. Look down to me? Hmmm…
Soltana felt uplifted, at the very least her fog of fear had vanished.
Fear will do me little good in gaining strength. If we are to raise Maw or fight this god, we will need to grow. We will need to find the other Seal holders. I’m sure the other two we are to meet are far more powerful than I am.
Soltana pulled back her arm from Maw’s maw.
“Thank you. All of you. Maw, welcome to the Sigmafly!”
The worm clicked her teeth in a sign of…
Gratitude? Hunger? Joy? She was sleepy?
I will figure out how to read her body language as we go along, Soltana concluded.
She turned to leave the hangar bay to find L’yophin.
L’yophin is probably the most stable of us. The most sturdy of rocks, like Diniel. He will help, I know it. And I will help him, too.
She passed a small utility closet, hearing a sad song from within.
…Where her hear’s gone, away like the old sea.
Her soul longed for love, a longing to be free.
She took to the headlan’s and ne’er returne’…
She felt her theonware stirred by the music. She knew little of the context, but understood well the emotion.
The pain of it.
Basil… He may need help as well. I will do my best to encourage him.
Soltana continued down the hall vein to the bridge, there she spotted L’yophin, gazing into the infinity of the FTL tunnel. She moved beside him, viewing the awe inspiring site.
“L’yophin,” She greeted quietly.
“Soltana,” he countered in return.
“We did it,” she announced.
He tilted his head, showing only four of his eyes.
“We live,” he affirmed with a grunt, “Shouldn’t be possible, but we did it.”
“L’yophin, thank you for everything. You are a rock, uh, a firm foundation. I don’t know where I’d be without your help,” She let out a sigh as she gripped one of his limbs, “You are a good baeidae, a good person,” she quoted back to him.
He let out a spidery chuckle at that.
“Being good baeidae is not good enough,” he shot back. There was a hint of bitterness.
Oh… He’s not well either…
“Being good did little against a god. Against fallen angels. Against Daer-seehn. I may know much of everything, but there is one thing I know most of all. I am weak. Everyone has grown, except me.”
Soltana spotted the fae rune he tumbled around in his dexterous limb. Her theonware jumped.
“L’yophin. You are good just the way you are,” Soltana began, trying to talk him down.
“I know,” he replied calmly.
He raised up the rune, letting it glint in the light.
“Wait, L’yophin, we don’t know what it will do!-”
He gave a final chittery smile.
“Must grow,” he replied.
He crushed the rune, and was enveloped in a glowing sphere of periwinkle light.
Soltana stumbled over, unbalanced by the sudden shift in light and dimension.
“L’yophin,” Soltana spoke in sorrow.
She had no idea what was happening to him. She didn’t know what would happen to him. She didn’t know he himself was struggling with the events that just unfolded. He gave of the air of being a solid foundation. Perhaps he was, but understood that he could only go so far. They needed to get stronger, but still Soltana was worried of losing her friend. The journey was perilous, even with the straight shot to Low-nine. Diniel had grown, taking on his fae calling fully, among distributing his old partner’s gear from the Underrealm war; not to mention the Throne and lance he took from the fallen angel. Basil was Basil, but there was hope for the future for that wiley rogue. Ruth had found purpose, an Ancath and birthed a god, and was now consigned to coma. Phela was already powerful for one so young, with the potential for further growth. Soltana had possibly the most dramatic change, metamorphosing from a damaged head to a tiny automata; a trinity of three groups. And now they had another crew member, the infant god known as Maw. Her potential was wholly unknown, as was her future. And L’yophin. L’yophin was L’yophin. Except now he wasn’t. The old L’yophin no longer existed.
The light vanished.
He stood in front of her, radiating an aura of majesty.
And of mischief.
He spoke, his voice softer than she expected. She now realized his gruff voice may have been the result of an old unhealed war injury.
Her theonware lept at what she witnessed.
The journey to Low-nine suddenly became more interesting.
Author’s notes: Thank you all for reading these two books. I have several more planned. Three epilogues are on the way.