Metaworld Chronicles

by

Wutosama

Chapter 22 - The Snake, the Lady and the Maiden Fair 

Advertisement
Remove

A note from Wutosama

Edited 06/01/19

A salmon pink tongue, forked and quick as a whistle, darted from the serpent's lip-sheath as it hissed.

“It's not with you, Alesia?” Gwen intoned carefully.

“It's not with me. No,” her instructor affirmed warily, drifting a few feet away from the snake, keeping a safe distance in case it decided to no longer be so amiable.

[Friend?]

Its breath was eucalyptus after the rain.

“Friend,” Gwen said out loud, glancing up toward the snake, and then at Alesia.

“Yes.” Alesia’s brilliant eyes refracted the light from her flaming hair. “I am your friend, Gwen.”

“I meant the snake.” Gwen’s eyes moved between the two. “It’s friendly, I think?”

Friendly?! Alesia spluttered. That thing just took out half the Royal National! On her fly-in, she could see kilometres of catastrophic damage, carved like channels into the landscape. If that was its idea of friendly, what would it do if it were hostile?

“How did you call the Snake here?” Alesia enquired.

Gwen shifted her gaze to the egg beside her, as did Alesia.

[Protect!]

The snake began to move, sliding its body down the slope effortlessly, making for the centre of the chamber. Gwen stepped back, avoiding the loosened debris. Alesia drifted downwards, following the serpent, wary of its alien intention.

The pair watched as the snake slithered toward the stone egg, fascinated by the manner in which it unhinged its jaws to wholly encompass the menhir.

'Crack!'

There was a sound of splintered stone as the bottom of the egg broke from the floor. The snake then hoisted the egg, which must have weighed several tons, into its fleshy maw.

It swallowed.

The egg slid into the creature’s undulating oesophagus, after which it reconnected its lower jaws. Bit by bit, the egg moved past serpent's neck and gullet, shrinking until its torso was as flat as it had ever been.

[Safe keeping.]

Again, the serpent's thoughts were accompanied by synaesthesia, this time the salty brine of the southern sea.

Then, to their surprise, it coiled unto itself, lowering its head until it was almost at eye level with Gwen. Alesia promptly placed herself between Gwen and the serpent, shielding her student with her fiery form.

[Up.]

Its glare was the midday sun.

Gwen regarded the helpful serpent: mount it? Ride it? She looked towards Alesia, who was equally clueless. Either way, they couldn't lollygag in the cavern forever.

“Instructor, Debora is still unconscious.” Gwen pointed to her friend’s body still upon the table, where the only sign of her still being alive was the faint movement of her chest. “Can you help her?”

“Maybe we should get you out first.”

“I’ve got a ride.” Gwen turned back to the serpent, admiring its immensity. In such proximity, she felt a resonate kinship. Unconsciously, she extended her hand and patted the snake’s snout.

Though its scales glistened wetly with a petrol sheen of prismatic chroma, the texture felt akin to fingernails: smooth, dry, and unexpectedly warm, like touching hot sand at the beach.

“Gwen! What are you doing!” Alesia spluttered, beyond alarmed. Stupid girl! That's a mythic level beast! Not a riding drake! She could see it now, the Serpent enraging, growing instantly to a length of twenty kilometres, smashing the both of them into smithereens.

But Alesia was glad to be proven wrong. Without incident, Gwen persisted in climbing on top of the creature, shimming her body forward until she could grip onto two protruding scales close to the snake’s head.

“…” Alesia was reminded of another one of her Master's advice: expect the unexpected; watch, then speak, not before.

The snake rose into the air, its body levitating soundlessly, slithering with incredulous dexterity and balance through the chasm until it reached the top, laying its head flat against the cliff’s edge. Alesia watched as Gwen slid off the creature, back onto solid ground.

[It is done.]

The cavern filled with the sound of shifting sand.

Gwen touched the serpent again. Its eyes had that distinct, single slit unique to reptiles, but the surrounding iris was a swirl of rainbow hues changing colour across a light-fantastic. Within, she saw the figure of a girl held intact within a prismatic lens.

Beautiful, Gwen exhaled. The serpent's orbs were the most beautiful thing she had ever seen across two lifetimes.

The salmon pink tongue extended slowly, moving towards Gwen’s face. She closed her eyes.

Alesia returned, cradling Debora below her chest, secured with both arms.

The tongue was as thick as Gwen’s thighs at the base, tapering until the forked split. It darted a dozen times in quick succession: tapping her hair, tasting her cheeks and caressing her chin, each touch but a split second.

[Kin.]

The empathic link was joyous. For a moment, Gwen saw a vision of blooming dogwood.

“Gwen…” Alesia guessed at the link between the two. “Assuming it’s not hostile toward you, what does it want?”

It was an answer she needed to know. In the Tower's records, only the priests of old and venerated religions, the outlandish folk that lived in the Wildlands, and specialised Creature-Conjurers, could communicate with Mythic level beings without having their minds turning the consistency of creme-fraiche.

“What do you want?” Gwen asked the serpent with the effortlessness of asking when’s lunch?

[Rest.]

The smell of loam and earth accompanied by its flickering tongue.

“It said it wants to rest,” Gwen reported to Alesia, who wore still her flaming Regalia, burning away at her mana reserves.

“You sure it’s safe?” Alesia asked. She was running on fumes. The Efreet transformation was peerless - but required a vast reserve of mana to maintain its flaming phenomena.

“Yes,” Gwen answered reverently. “It means us no harm.”

Alesia landed beside Gwen, carrying Debora. The flames surrounding her extinguished.

"WOA, Ma'am!"

To Gwen’s surprise, her instructor was left stark naked, exposing dozens of cuts and scrapes, as well a purple-bruise stretching from her left hip to her right lumbar. Steam rose from Alesia's elementally tempered body, instantly evaporating any perspiration.

“Ma’am.” Gwen's chest tightened. “W-what happened to you?”

“Rough night.” Alesia gave Gwen a wry smile, materialising a red robe from a ring and wrapping herself within the silky kimono. Other items of clothing appeared, all in shades of maroon, cherry, pink and carmine. She was still in the midst of hurriedly covering her shame when the salmon pink tongue of the serpent dashed towards Alesia, who froze as it tapped her cheek.

[Not Kin.]

Gwen wrinkled her nose. There was a textured stench of mangroves at low tide.

[Usurper.]

With a flourish, Alesia reappeared in maroon trousers, a camo t-shirt, and combat boots.

“Why’s it looking at me like that?” She nervously asked Gwen. She had already burnt a several months worth of Magic Items in HDMs and had no desire to consume another outfit.

“It’s saying that… you’re are a usurper,” Gwen passed the snake’s sentiment toward her Instructor, she wasn’t sure what that was about either.

“One sec.” Alesia gave Debora's cheeks a light slap. "No luck, we need to get her to a hospital."

“Levitate!”

She set the body of the young Transmuter to float.

“She might still be glamoured.” Alesia placed a hand over Debora’s face and pulled open one of her eyelids. The pupil within was fully dilated, displacing Debora's amber iris. "Did you say, 'usurper'?"

“Yes, Ma’am.”

“I guess all humans are usurpers when it comes to these nature-types. Just make sure it stays away from us.” Alesia covered Debora's indecent body with a towel, then studied Gwen, whose hair and face was matted with dried blood. “So, you wanna tell me what happened here?”

Gwen related her tale, omitting nothing that she knew, not even the part when she had sent out a bolt of darkness to cut Edgar in twain. It was about time that someone finally knew, someone she trusted and could help her decipher its mystery.

"Alesia... do you know if the others are alright? If Elvia made it?" Gwen inquired with a tone full of anxious agitation.

To her disappointment, Alesia shook her head.

"I can tell you the basecamp is safe, but I haven't see Elvia." The pained look on her student's face made Alesia want to reach out and comfort her, but there was still a snake scenting Gwen with its forked tongue.

Just as Alesia tried to assuage Gwen by suggesting she try calling the girls on her Message Device - a Message spell bloomed beside Alesia's ear.

“Alesia! You still alive?” It was Jonas, her partner.

“Yeah, I am fine.”

“Oh thank God!” The voice choked.

“Where’s the snake?” another voice inquired. "It disappeared entirely, all I am seeing are new valleys.”

Alesia looked over at Gwen, who stood beside the Mythical serpent with a hand upon its snout, caressing it with the vacant expression of one stroking an oversized house cat. There was a decision to be made here, a judgement call with ramifications well beyond her ability to speculate. She had seen the damage the serpent could cause first hand, but she had also observed that it had no intent nor hostility toward humanity. If they attacked it with the full intention of destroying it, what would be the cost? What would it be like if a Mythical being decided to bring to bear all its power? Would the skies turn dark and the seas boil? Would the ground split asunder and swallow Sydney whole? Most importantly, if she was to tell her companions, tell the Tower, that this beast of times immemorial was harmless, that it would far prefer to 'rest' - who would believe her?

“Alesia? You still there?”

“Don’t know where the Snake is,” Alesia replied. “What’s your ETA to my loc?”

“We are inbound, ETA two minutes.”

“I’ll meet you outside, look for my flare.”

“Ma’am?” Gwen wondered why Alesia had lied.

“Can you ask the snake to hide somewhere?” Alesia demanded of her student. “I got four very serious people incoming in about a minute, and they are not going to like this at all.”

Gwen turned to the serpent, who seemed to have read her intent at once. It slithered outside the cavern, its hues changing until it became transparent, fading into the night as though a wisp of air the breeze had brought in. Gwen looked down toward her hand that only a moment ago had touched the beautiful, mysterious thing, and saw that in her palm was a scale, scintillating like an opal.

[Gift for Kin]

The glow from the scale was that of golden wattles in full bloom.

The serpent was gone, its presence erased by some force unknowable to mortals like Gwen and Alesia, fading into the dark emerald sea.

“Hold on to that,” Alesia advised her apprentice-in-name. "That's going be a top-notch ingredient for a Magic Item."

Gwen tucked the scale into a pocket in her cloak.

They listened to the wind, making sure that the serpent was indeed gone.

“Gwen, listen to me very carefully.” Alesia turned to her student, her face completely serious. “I may have just initiated something so stupid, so irrational, that if things go south, the both of us are probably looking at exile or execution.”

“You have?” Gwen gagged at the unexpected turn.

“When this is over, I am going to take you to see my superior. Until then, you are to speak to no one about the serpent. You have not seen it, have not felt it, you have certainly not spoken to it.”

Alesia extended a hand and fired off a crimson flower.

“Say nothing, understand?"

Gwen nodded.

The flight of Mages that landed at the mouth of the cavern came in full-fledged combat gear. In the uncertain darkness before the coming of dawn, they were four pinpoints of illumination that spontaneously grew larger, descending with terrific haste but landing like felines.

In the next moment, Gwen marvelled as the men hailed Alesia with open-palmed salutes.

“Ma’am!”

“At ease,” Alesia dismissed them casually. The men's bodies immediately lost their rigidity.

A man with dark, bushy brows and a thick mutton chop fell in beside her.

“Are you alright Alesia? What happened? Wheres the snake? Are you injured?”

“I could use a bit of a touch-up.” Alesia lifted her t-shirt to reveal the bruise marring her toned abdomen, looking like a purple worm writhing across her pale skin. “Do your thing, Jonas; my pots stopped working after the fifth one.”

“You’re too reckless…” Jonas grimaced, carefully extending a hand. "Excuse me."

“Cure Moderate Wounds!”

Viridescent energy suffused Alesia’s abdomen; Gwen's instructor tensed as the regenerative itch of mending flesh tickled her bones before letting loose a long, tender breath.

“Had to hold that in,” Alesia joked casually. Gwen blushed with the guilt of not having realised the extent of her instructor’s injuries, amplifying the anxiety of not know how her friends had fared.

“Are the others alright?” Gwen blurted to Alesia's companions. “The students I mean, we were at the camp, near the entrance of the Zone.”

“As far as I know,” one of the men, their Abjurer, replied. The British-Indian man was Taj, a stocky soldier with wet, olive skin, a neat goatee and a hawk-beak nose.

"Is Elvia alright, did she make it back?" Gwen persisted, but the man shook his head.

"Don't know who that is," It was Jonas, the medic, who answered Gwen. "Assuming they're fine, they'll be transported back to a Forward Operating Base."

The healer then dropped to one knee to examine Debora.

“Best we get this one to a hospital ASAP though,” He advised. “I can restore her here, but she’s going to need more than field-dressing. Paul, give me a hand.”

Paul introduced himself to be the Conjurer-Transmuter of the group, whose job was to translocate the members via means of Shared Flight, Teleportation Circle, and Conjure Object. The unassuming, middle-aged man that reminded Gwen of an accountant.

"I'll Message ahead to Sydney," the youngest of the group joined in before turning to Gwen. “B-B-Billy. It’s a p-pleasure.”

“Billy stutters when he’s nervous,” Alesia apologised to Gwen. “Why are you nervous Bill?”

“S… she… er…” Billy pointed to the visible gap between Gwen's robe.

Gwen pulled Edgar's cloak tightly around her chest.

“Oh…” Alesia felt like an idiot. She had neglected to offer Gwen a pair of shirt and shorts.

“Attention!” Alesia commanded, and the four stood ramrod straight. “About face!”

The men turned, looking outward toward the newly minted landscape of the Royal National Frontier.

From her Storage Ring, Alesia materialised casual items of clothing for Gwen.

“They're dead if they peep, so get changed.”

Gwen struggled into her new clothes, discretely transferring the scale into a pack pocket.

Alesia knelt to make sure Debora was decent for transportation.

“I'll take the cloak, we’ll send it in for analysis."

Gwen handed over Edgar's robe.

“At ease,” Alesia said after a minute or so, and the men turned to see to their surprise, a girl very nearly the height of Alesia, if not a little taller.

“H-H-Hello.” If anything, Billy's stutter had worsened.

“Come on Bill,” Taj joked with a lopsided grin. “It's not like you haven't used your Scrying for less than honorable purposes. That's what you Diviners do, ain't it?”

“Hey!” Alesia barked at the unruly soldier. "Leave him alone."

Billy’s eyes were moving between the ground and Gwen alternatively.

“What's Billy's job?” Gwen sidled closer to Alesia.

“Communications specialist…” Alesia said without a hint of sarcasm. "Two years out of Defence Force Academy."

Paul, Billy and Taj stayed behind to inspect the ritual, or at least what had remained of it. Jonas meanwhile, offered to escort Alesia, Gwen and the comatose Debora toward a Forward Operations Base set up midway between the Shield Fort and their original base camp.

“You flew before?”

Gwen shook her head.

“You’ll love it.” Alesia smiled encouragingly. “Just hold on tight.”

“Ready?” Paul asked, then opened his gate to the Elemental Plane of Air. “Shared Flight!”

“Be safe!” Taj called out to Alesia. “No detours! Please!”

Gwen felt an uplifting current suffuse her surroundings, not in the manner of a breeze about one’s body, but a sense of buoyancy. As they rose into the air, she realised she had underestimated magical flight. There was no feeling of texture, of inertia or resistance. Instead, she floated - and immediately began to summersault uncontrollably.

Two revolutions later, Alesia grabbed Gwen’s hand and stabilised her tumbling. Gwen had the feeling that the moment her instructor let go, she would float away like a child's balloon.

"Let's go!"

The sudden acceleration filled Gwen with instant dizziness. Her body was screaming to be back on solid ground.

"Oh!" Gwen inhaled a briny breath of morning air.

She was seeing for the first time, the curvature of her new world.

 

Advertisement
A note from Wutosama

Chapter Ref :: 


Volume 1 Amazon (US) the book is in all markets as well.
Volume 2 Amazon (US) the book is in all markets as well.
 
V1 Google Play, iBook, Kobo, Nook and Playster Link
V2 Google Play, iBook, Kobo, Nook and Playster Link

Paper back in near future

 


Satiate yourself while you wait with Metaworld-Meta-fics :

 


Click to Join Discord!


JOIN OUR DISCORD SERVER

For theorycrafting, world building, Dede, and meta-brew Roleplaying! 
Thank you Wandysama & Boneless Chicken et al for all the vote pics! 
 

 


VOTE


About the author

Wutosama

Bio: I write on the phone and edit at home. Times are tough!

Achievements
Comments(54)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In