Killing your adversary is the easy way to end a conflict. Trying to live in peace with each other while working through your problems, however? That’s pretty hard.
Well, at least in theory it should be. I had to admit that being in the privileged position of complete power over the other party made the process considerably less difficult. Still, I couldn’t deny that I hadn’t really solved anything yet and it would have been far easier to just fulfil Memory’s latest Quest.
I didn’t want to, though. And not simply out of spite.
The journey back home took more than a moon. Only Junior and Vigil actually stayed around throughout the latter part of it. Everyone else lost interest sooner or later and went ahead as soon as they were reasonably sure that the various nature elementals wouldn’t turn on us.
I kept Liza close to me at all times. For now, she was a hostage. Even though I tried to treat her like one of my children when they were still little larvae, this fact didn’t change. She wasn’t with me by choice, but since the alternative was to kill her, I didn’t feel particularly guilty about it. Swamp didn’t try to protest anything I did with her at least. So I couldn’t be doing too bad, could I? It just kept watching us while being watched by Vigil in turn.
Anyways, even after we arrived back home, most of the kids weren’t the least bit interested in our new ‘guests’. Besides grumbling about not being allowed to eat them, of course. Nibble chief amongst them.
‘[But they are soo crunchy! Can’t I have even one now and then? There are so many! I’m sure nobody would notice!]’, she complained.
‘[No.]’, I replied yet again to her continuous begging.
‘[Can I at least lick them?]’, she surprised me with a different approach.
I hesitated, thinking a bit about it. ‘[Only if they want you to.]’ Then she at least would be nagging them instead of me.
She nodded, satisfied, then noticed a glaring problem. ‘[But… they’re too stupid to read!]’
‘[Then teach them or don’t lick them.]’ I huffed a few laughs.
But to my utter surprise, she actually did! Soon enough she was always carrying around at least one tiny lizard and fed random stuff to them that she liked, showing off her mushroom farm and trying to teach them how to recognise a few symbols. I didn’t miss the more-than-regular licks she gave them either. But she kept to our deal. At least I never noticed one of the little critters disappearing after it was with her.
Her obsession with that new task seemed strange to me, though. I was sure that she didn’t like to eat those little guys that much before I disqualified them as food.
And it wasn’t an undemanding pastime either. She must have been patience incarnate if my own efforts to teach the language to Liza were any indicator. It was a very slow process. Memory didn’t lie when she said, my species was much more intelligent than theirs. It was all too apparent despite me having the advantage of teaching a champion.
Well, I had nothing much else to do. The second clutch had finished their metamorphoses while I was gone and, again, more than half of them simply left. Rose and Siria couldn’t agree on who of them won their little competition in the end, so they decided on repeating it next year. Neither seemed particularly upset about so many of the kids they raised just leaving without even a look back. Well, at least it wasn’t me this time.
Garnet and Flint, and Ruby’s group didn’t see a reason to hang around home all the time anymore since the danger was… well, not gone but pacified. So they went off wandering again, only returning every few moons or so to check in. Considering that the Swamp was now basically living here, perhaps avoiding it was also part of the renewed desire to venture out.
Pyra was still pissed about the peaceful resolution of this conflict and left on her own journey as well. Ash followed her like a lost puppy. I doubted that he would be able to reign in her more impulsive side. At least she wouldn’t be completely alone.
The other four boys of the no-girls-allowed group began roaming around the wider area and only checked in a couple of times a moon.
Siria and Rose stayed, continuing to teach ‘their’ babies, but only sporadically needed my help.
And my ‘grandkids’? They seemed strangely distant. In a reverent kind of way. Only little Fumia did not care about whatever religious drivel Junior must have fed them about me, regularly coming to visit to snuggle and ‘play with little Liza’. Interestingly, her siblings treated Iris and Liza nearly the same as me.
Speaking of Iris. She also ended up going on a journey, promising to return for the next dry period to start our search for air elementals with me if she didn’t find any in the meantime.
And Junior? He went full-on religion teacher as soon as he got the chance. The little wannabe priest asked Iris and me at length about our respective Patrons. He also involved himself in teaching Liza mainly to be able to needle her about Fertility. He seemed to take my Quest about forming a cult more seriously than me! Well, it wasn’t that hard since I hadn’t taken it especially serious until now. But still!
Liza herself was another headache. She was always fertile. If I wasn’t careful, she’d start to become heavy with eggs again as soon as she plopped out a clutch. It was hell for her overall health. I had no idea how she managed to survive this long without me keeping her… well… non-fertilized for extended periods of time, instead of keeling over from exhaustion. She got pretty frisky and agitated if I kept her away from any males for too long, though.
Swamp and the other nature elementals were thrilled about all the fertile soil around the foot of the volcano. Soon enough, they grew new groves to shelter all the tiny lizards who stayed around and the vegetation became lusher than I’d ever seen it in this foothill area, attracting ever more insects to prey on. Vigil didn’t care much for the extra humidity but kept hanging around Swamp nonetheless. Even after it became clear that we didn’t have to fear any more surprise attacks.
All those tiny lizards of course also attracted more predators back to our little corner of the woods. But having so much magic to throw around made us pretty much the apex species, if you ignored elementals and spirits. Newtagators were still disgusting overall. The lizards didn’t seem to care much about that, though, so we usually ripped them into tiny pieces as ‘pet food’. Grilled boulder toad, on the other hand, was as satisfying a meal as ever.
Eventually, a few moons after I had returned, we got unexpected but not unwelcome visitors. I was sunbathing off a food-coma when Ripple entered our - by now not so small - glade with Ferra in tow.
Ripple was ecstatic to be here. It appeared especially happy to see us getting along with the nature elementals, running off to play with them immediately after greeting me.
I honestly was surprised that my cousin had taken me up on my standing offer to drop by whenever she felt like it. Once she told me why she came, however, I didn’t know whether I should feel betrayed or not.
You see, Hunger gave her a Quest. What a coincidence, right? You have one guess as to what that Quest was about. Yes, she was supposed to come here and eat all the tiny lizards, but first and foremost the one tiny lizard who was currently sprawled out across my forearm, receiving scratches, growling cutely every time I stopped for even a moment.
Now, you have to remember that Ferra was simply enormous by now. At least twice my size. More likely closer to triple. So if I said I wasn’t intimidated at all, it would be a lie. I was confident in being the better mage again after catching up on the earth affinity, but I really didn’t want it coming to blows regardless.
She merely stared at me for a few moments as I kept caressing little Liza after I calmly explained my plan to her, though, before she informed me that she would only follow through with her Quest once it was obvious that I had failed. When I asked her how much time she would allow me before she considered my project a failure, she didn’t respond right away.
‘[Just give it your best shot.]’, she finally wrote while huffing after pondering for a long time. ‘[You seem to have a thing for forgiving others and helping them instead of taking revenge.]’
Well, how could I not be touched by that? She still felt so much in my debt that she was willing to ignore her Patron's request for me. Why did I feel like another god up there wasn’t exactly happy with my interference right now? But so far, I was left unsmited.
At least now Ferra had a reason to periodically drop by to ‘check on my progress.’ That she seemed to have found a liking for Nibbles baked mushrooms and cooked food in general naturally had nothing to do with her ‘sacrifice’ to make this trip now and then and was purely coincidental.
Asking after her first batch of coast-raised children was answered with a short. ‘[They lived, then they left.]’ And that was it. No details, no further interest. Well, it was nothing more than a Quest for her, wasn’t it? It had to be expected.
Ripple was quite upset once it found out why Ferra had really asked it to lead her here. The river elemental didn’t like at all to be involved in a Quest of this nature in any way. It cheered up considerably once I managed to introduce it to Dancer, though. Getting it to follow me up to the mountaintop needed quite a bit of convincing, but the result was… not bad?
I wasn’t certain if the two artsy proto-spirits loved or hated each other. They competed without rest for days on end, neither admitting defeat as the inferior artist. And to everyone’s mutual surprise, Dancer actually decided to leave together with Ripple when its visit came to an end, to [continue] [competition]. Sedentary Dancer left the caldera. Not just that. It left the volcano behind completely. Even Vigil was baffled.
The next mating season came and went. It was pretty much a repeat of the year before. With the difference that my children managed to bring back a few more clutches.
To my utter disappointment, the low fertility still was in effect. I wanted to be cross with Liza but she didn’t seem to know how to ‘turn it off’. I supposed I had to convince Fertility herself somehow instead of just swaying her champion. At least I hadn’t noticed too much of a decline in numbers during this year’s mating. So I guessed I still had some time? Either way, having a front-row seat while a horde of ‘giants’ were in a mating frenzy seemed to affect Liza more than I thought. Of course, I had her with me. She was a hostage after all. She looked at me with different eyes after she had seen me procreate. More familiar, as if she had seen a side of herself in me.
Again, I left the childcare nearly completely in Siria’s and Rose’s hands. Mainly because I felt less guilty about not genuinely caring about my children on a deeper level than I would for a friend if I didn’t raise them myself. I was also kept far too busy with keeping Liza from constantly popping out even more eggs. Seriously, if her instincts went left unchecked, the tiny lizards would reach a completely unsustainable number sooner rather than later. I had no idea what Fertility thought she was doing!
At the beginning of this year’s dry period, Trigger finally returned. He came stomping down the volcanoside, having found the caldera abandoned. The elemental was already simmering and in a mood when it swaggered into our glade, sizzling and scorching the newly abundant flora.
‘[where?] [Dancer]’, the lava scalamander started to write in crude molten symbols before it stopped in its tracks when it spotted Swamp on the other side of the clearing. It instantly turned up the heat, broiling and fuming. The underbrush around it caught on fire.
Then Vigil decisively stepped between his sibling and his erstwhile foe. What followed was a heated argument, involving more than a couple projectiles flying around. I just let the two of them duke it out, only making sure that the fires didn’t go out of control. I was used to this after all. Which wasn’t the case for everyone else here, however. Their distress was all too apparent and - I had to admit - slightly amusing. But when all was said and done, I merely had to step in once when Swamp tried to join in and ‘help’.
Trigger refused to stay around for long after the fight. It didn’t want to spend any length of time here, if it wasn’t allowed to play with fire as much as it wanted anymore. The grudge it held against the swamp elemental surely also played a part. Well, I was certain the feeling was mutual.
Even so, it did delay its departure for long enough to proudly tell whoever was interested about its heroic and totally exciting voyage to the other side of the mountain chain. In other words. Vigil played translator again. I’m sure the underwhelming reactions it received from the small crowd would have been far more enthusiastic and to Trigger’s liking if Pyra had been around. As it was, only Fumia was giving off admiring little croaks now and then. Everyone else who dared to stay close enough to read these travel tales was either used to the elemental’s antics or too afraid to comment at all.
I noticed Liza following the story attentively. She was the only non-scalamander present because I always had her with me. I wasn’t sure if she got everything but she seemed to understand enough to be disgusted by all the meaningless destruction. She also glanced at me and the rest of the mostly wincing or cringing audience now and then.
I only was interested in mentionings of other elementals Trigger encountered. So, when I started to get bored after a while, I asked Vigil to inform me later if there was any [trouble]. I already gathered that there indeed were wind elementals to be found. The lava scalamander supposedly met some who were ‘playing’ in the fall winds along the mountain range.
Liza was strangely affectionate after we left the gathering. I wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t been before, but all of her reluctance to stay close to me at all times seemingly disappeared. If only I could tell what was going through that tiny head of hers. She recently had started to scratch symbols into the soil when she needed them to communicate something. It regrettably was still far too unsophisticated to answer a question as complicated as [What is bothering you?] So I just accepted the increased snuggling and moved on.
Iris came home from her expedition before Trigger left again. It had taken Vigil’s advice to rest in one of the lava pools until its body was fully recovered. I had no idea how that worked or why it was necessary. But since the stubborn troublemaker actually listened this time, there had to be at least something to it.
Iris apologised that she was later than promised. Apparently, Curiosity had her on a wild goose chase to find new species to ‘catalogue’. Maybe there were achievements for naming things too? She still was eager to immediately leave again for our search. I had no idea where she got all that energy from.
Consulting with Trigger had proven rather unfruitful. Air elementals simply didn’t stay in the same area for long. We’d just have to try our luck wherever we’d find down-winds.
I took Liza with me again. If Ferra had joined us as well, I’d have joked about a party of champions. But instead, Swamp was coming with. Iris didn’t like that at first since Vigil stayed behind, but I assured her that it would be alright. The nature elemental hadn’t double-crossed me when I’d been ‘busy’ during the last mating either. So I explained to her that we had built a moderate amount of trust during the last year.
Iris remained sceptical though. She had been gone for most of that time and to her, Swamp was still more ‘killer of her siblings’ than ‘reluctant friend’.
The mood stayed awkward until we found our first group of wind proto-spirits half a moon later. It was Swamp who noticed them first and introduced us. I was just glad that these particular air elementals didn’t play as roughly as their stormy cousins. They were a group of four and I had no idea how to tell them apart from each other. They also were awfully chatty and, to no-one's surprise, already knew some of my symbols. Again!
Iris loved them. I was annoyed. Liza was admiring the living whirlwinds with wondrous eyes and Swamp...
Well, Swamp was watching over the whole scene like some kind of benevolent guardian. It had regained all of its lost mass over the last year, and probably then some. So it was bigger than any of us even in its vine lizard form it stuck to more and more regularly.
Anyway, it wasn’t all that hard to get to know the elementals. Keeping their attention for any reasonable amount of time, however, was nearly impossible. They liked to race and chase each other along the cliffs and into the overgrown valleys, producing and riding fast winds in the process. It reminded me quite a bit of sledding kids in winter. Following them down the mountains, sledging with the help of water and earth magic, was not easy but still manageable. Keeping up when they ascended the next one, though?
In the end, we had to satisfy ourselves with simply making acquaintances and looking for the next group, and the next after that, and after that one again.
When we finally returned home half a year later, we did so without a new companion. Sure, many promised to ‘visit sometime’ but we were unanimously doubtful about them remembering that promise for longer than a few days. If even that.
Nevertheless, it had been high-time that we returned. Liza was long past frisky and agitated, having to go without mating for so long, Swamp was eager to return to its other ‘charges’, and Iris was over the initial glee of the novelty those air spirits represented and started to feel dejected that she never could keep up with any of them.
So the new plan was to look for a group of wind spirits as soon as she was done with mating and trying to expose her spawn to as much air energy as she could manage. To that effect, we had mapped out favourite ‘playgrounds’ nearer our home for the last couple of moons.
Once home again, I instructed Iris on how to remove as much heat, water, earth, and light energy as she could from the water whenever she’d find some air elementals to humour her request. She also was supposed to take the spawn of all of her sisters with her. This was a request by them by the way. All of them wanted to have the best offspring after all.
So a few moons later at the beginning of the dry season, she did a solo trial run and was pretty satisfied with the results.
For the actual act a year later, I wasn’t around either, being at my own birth pond at that time of the year.
When I returned, most of the girls of my first clutch were gone. Asking Junior and Nibble, I was told they went with Iris ‘to make sure she didn’t cheat’. When I carefully inquired of Junior how bad the ‘frenzy’ had been, he didn’t want to talk about it. So we didn’t. The atypical reluctance was answer enough for me.
A surprise to me was the return of Caprica, my first child who ever finished metamorphosis. She approached me with a still very scraggly ‘[Hello, mom.] [I’m back.]’, as I watched over Fumia and one of her sisters taking care of this year’s sole spawn package of mine until my dedicated competitive little nurses returned.
I didn’t know what to say. She was the only one from my first clutch who didn’t stay and managed to return alive after three years. I didn’t want to think about how many of them died to Swamp’s vengeance. We didn’t know each other back then and I had chosen to forgive and forget two years prior. And I never would know how exactly they died. Laying it all onto the vine lizard wouldn’t be fair either way.
The feeling of relief that flooded me when I embraced Caprica again was still more precious to me than I could have imagined. If I could feel like that for a prodigal daughter, maybe there were some ‘traces of maternal instincts’ inherent to our species after all.
After Iris and her sisters returned, announcing success, we still had to wait until their children grew up to see exactly how successful she had been. Nobody had anything more than traces of air affinity. It was disappointing but expected. And it was a start. Now, they could try to find some air elementals to pump them full until one of them reached at least ‘weak’. From there, they would be able to boost each other up. And this was exactly what Iris dedicated herself to from then on. She never stayed home for long and always dragged off the most diligent of the few of her and her sisters’ kids who had any air affinity at all.
It turned out to be a project that would take years.
Evolution is a slow process. Even so-called ‘rapid evolution’ takes generations upon generations of little changes. I didn’t know if I should have expected that to change with magic involved. Well, it didn’t. Much.
Apart from more affinities showing up in my children and grandkids and their corresponding mana organs, nothing much else about them was different. Same went for the tiny lizards. They didn’t take to new affinities as easily as my species, but they still started to get heat, earth and water over quite a few generations. And the more mana they could hold, the more intelligent they seemed to become.
Nobody got any affinity associated with the main energy type the nature elementals used, though. After years of being exposed to it, I started to be able to taste it a bit, along with all the other affinities I would never have. At least not in this life. It was quite strange. Every other energy type tried to concentrate in certain areas of the body. That was where the respective mana glands could form. This ‘nature energy’, however, spread evenly throughout the whole organism. I had no idea why it did that or to what purpose. Maybe our species simply were not able to form mana glands of that nature. Or nobody could. Or it would require even higher saturation.
The spirits themselves didn’t know, Memory didn’t answer me, and Curiosity explicitly had told me that she thought I already knew far too much about magic anyways. So I sadly had to shelf this mystery.
Years went by during which Junior and I continued to try and teach everyone about the four gods. Junior, of course, with more enthusiasm than me, but I had to do my part, right? It was my Quest after all and my plan.
I think we came up with a neat little religion in the end. Junior had been a bit more ambitious but I wanted to keep it simple for teaching and understanding purposes. And since I was the genius champion and he was my zealous son, he relented.
We paired up a god with a corresponding affinity. Well, more or less.
Memory stayed the flame that had to be fed to keep enlightening us. So she got heat and light. I had to try to appease her at least somehow, right?
Curiosity got the fickle air of discovery, always searching for new knowledge in the wide unknown.
Hunger got the waters and the deep, swarming with prey and predators. He represented the need to feed to grow strong, nourished by those who came before.
And, of course, Fertility got the rich earth and the elusive ‘nature energy’, growing fuel for the flame in abundance, fertilised by the ashes of the past. She also was supposed to be responsible for a multitude of offspring. I really hoped she would be, eventually.
I had no idea if the gods would be content with those roles but I never received my smiting. So I hoped I was on the right track at least. We simply kept on teaching these four aspects and magically carved quite a few stone tablets with stories about the gods. We didn’t even have to make up anything. We simply wrote it down as it was. Gods, champions and the war between our species included.
Even Ferra seemed interested and took a set of new stories back home with her on each of her visits. She also wrote down her own tales to share with us. She did visit us less and less, though, since Pyra had opted to live at the coast for most of the year instead of here with ‘the little pests and the murder elemental’. I guess, my cousin had mostly been dropping by for the food after all. Who’d have thought?
Liza tried as well. She scratched what she could in the ground so we could carve it for her. She had learned a lot over the years but never developed further intellectually than an especially bright human toddler. So her stories were rather simple ones too. Most of them amounted to ‘go forth and procreate’ but with a patron like hers, I supposed that was quite alright.
It wasn’t a very sophisticated Religion. But it was a start, a foundation that could be built upon over future generations.
And finally, one day, without any indicator of anything being different than usual, I got a Quest completion notice.
[Congratulations! You fulfilled a Quest granted by your Patron. Would you like to review it now?]
Of course, I would!
[Divine Quest: Let’s make a cult! (completed)
Well, you did it.
Are you happy now? Everything is peachy and hugs and kisses. I sincerely hope for your sake that Fertility doesn’t stab us in the back after all this. She is still pretty grumpy that she had to share instead of ‘teaching us not to steal the achievement that by all rights should be hers alone’.
She mocked me quite a bit about not having you under control, you know? Well, at least I could say the same about all three of the others after you wrapped all of their champions around your cute little claws.
I’m not happy with your stubbornness, neither are Curiosity and Hunger. You endangered our whole breeding project with that little stunt.
Anyway, we’ll talk when you come back home.
Well, that was... better than I had expected? Notably, the ‘Just do it’-Quest that had gone completely ignored for all this time simultaneously vanished without any System notification.
Nothing really changed after that. Besides an uptake in instances where foreign - probably divine - energy helped individuals with one thing or the other. Nibble’s farming project improved by leaps and bounds too. Still, we went on with our lives. The next mating season showed a huge increase in fertility rates for the scalamanders, but it never reached the numbers before the curse again.
So, maybe it wasn’t a total victory, but it should be alright. Right?
Furthermore, offspring of both species on average became more intelligent, inquisitive, grew faster, and eventually reached bigger sizes.
My last Quest, the one for Curiosity to help Iris, completed only 3 moons later. She was quite snarky, complaining that I really didn’t help all that much and that I should stop leading my daughter ‘astray from her goddess’, but that was it. No new Quests for me, no penalties or punishments. And no guidance or requests to do anything at all.
Well, I pretty much had proven that I did what I wanted anyway, so… I guess that was quite fair all things considered. I preferred not to think about the upcoming ‘talk’ I’d have with Memory whenever I’d bite the dust.
It had been nearly eight years since the ‘war’ when Liza reached the end of her life. After laying one especially large clutch of eggs, something just seemed to have broken in her. All my and Swamp’s attempts to heal her were for nought. She just cuddled a lot, got weaker and weaker until she didn’t wake up one day.
Now, I didn’t know how long tiny lizards could live or how old Liza had already been when I met her, having never asked. But it didn’t really matter in the end. Fertility’s champion was gone and so was what I used to bind our two species together initially. Sure, there was the new faith in the same gods, but with their matriarch gone, nothing bound the lizards to our home anymore. It never had been one united community in the first place. My oldest kids never lost their grudges and the difference in intelligence really made it difficult for most of the younger generations of scalamanders to view the lizards as anything more than pets.
Eventually, Swamp decided to take most of the smarter lizards away and move somewhere else. It stated the reason was mainly that we’d run out of space otherwise, but we both knew that there was more to it.
Vigil didn’t like it. Swamp seemed reluctant as well. But as soon as it finalised its decision, I witnessed the transformation from a proto-spirit to a proper spirit for the first time.
The elemental didn’t quite glow. It was more a subtle radiance while energy streamed into it from every direction, causing observable effects. The wind was only the most apparent. Plants stretched towards it, the soils cracked around it and gathered at its feet. And it grew. After the process was done, the vine lizard towered over all of us, even Vigil when it let go of himself and took on his large ‘battle form’. But like the volcano spirit, Swamp shrunk down to a more manageable size soon afterwards.
‘She’ left the same day, surrounded by a flock of tiny lizards and a bit more than half of the other nature elementals who were awed enough by the transformation to forgo the fertile volcanic soil. Among the scalamanders, only Junior, Nibble and I seemed more than a bit sad to see them go. It wasn’t like there weren’t any tiny lizards or nature elementals around after that anymore, but Junior didn’t like this ‘secession’. Nibble mostly complained that she had lost the best helpers on her farm and had to find new ones to teach now.
Vigil and Swamp still frequently visited each other over the coming years but it just wasn’t the same anymore.
Well, life moved on, years went by, and I had to admit that the problem of ‘enough space’ wasn’t as secondary as it had seemed back then.
We ended up establishing ever-more spawning pools for future generations throughout the swamp-forest. The first of those was at Dancer and Ripple’s hot springs, but that had only been the beginning. Iris established a spawning pond in the mountains, nearer to the air elementals there, Ruby and Garnet both eventually wanted ‘their own place’ and Pyra had left years ago to live with Ferra. Added onto that were all the new generations year after year, who preferred to be independent the more intelligent they got.
Nearing the end of my life in my 23rd year, we hadn’t been one big community anymore for a long time. There still were ample communication and visitations, but I wondered how long that would last or still be enough to infuse a sense of belonging.
How did I know that I didn’t have long anymore? Well, I was getting old. I produced fewer and fewer eggs over the last couple years and I felt little pains that didn’t want to go away anymore even after moons of boosting my healing.
The big giveaway, though, was that Ferra had died the year before. And since we were from the same year, I assumed I wouldn’t have long either when my health started to decline rapidly after I laid my last clutch.
Of all of my children, only Iris and Junior seemed really worried. For most of the others, I simply always had been there and it was ridiculous to entertain the thought that I would be gone soon. And even if I would die now, I was the champion of Memory. So I surely would come back eventually, right? Telling them otherwise would only make them question their faith, so I didn’t.
When I finally reached the state that no-one could deny it anymore, I only told them not to worry and celebrate life instead of moping. I hadn’t been able to get up for days, my magic being the only thing preventing me from becoming a complete invalid.
It was still touching to see that all of the survivors of my first clutch had hurried home to say goodbye. Only fifteen were left.
Verdan and Spruce hadn’t returned home years ago. Nobody knew what had happened to them.
‘[You have three more years if you’re lucky.]’, I joked ‘[Then you’ll all follow me and your siblings. Make the best of it. And take care of your families.]’
They laughed it off, mostly. I mean, three years ago I still had felt young too. So I couldn’t fault them for it.
It was a very intimate affair between us in the end. It simply was the difference in how you treated your ‘mom’ and your ‘matriarch’, I supposed.
‘[Don’t forget us, mom!]’ Junior pleaded with me. [Even if nobody will be left and all the carvings of stories and records are gone, please remember that we’ve been here.]’
‘[I promise that I’ll try.]’ I think most of us would have cried if we could have.
‘[Will you try to find me again in the future?]’ Iris asked with a hopeful expression.
‘[I will, but you won’t be you anymore. Neither will I be me, probably. Not really.]’ I didn’t want to get her hopes up after all.
‘[But hey! We are the people of Memory, right? If anyone can preserve an echo of your current self for the future, it would be her.]’ I let my gaze rest on all of them in turn. ‘[All of you. Not just Iris. Remember what I told you about souls. All of us will eventually come back. But most will simply forget everything that happened before.]’ I turned to Junior. ‘[If you want to preserve even a tiny fraction, try to trust in Her.]’
I didn’t know where this faith came from. Maybe I was becoming sentimental, maybe it was some kind of premortal clarity. Or maybe I just lost it and went a bit senile. Still, they all perked up a bit after that.
‘[I] [will] [wait] [for] [you] [until] [we] [meet] [again] [Sweetie]’, Vigil wrote into the lull of conversation.
‘[Then I will find you eventually, old friend.]’ I nodded, grinning.
It didn’t take long after that.
We continued to snuggle and indulge in reminiscences of an overall more or less happy life. Nobody addressed my impending end again.
I felt very weak and increasingly tired, but content that I was surrounded by family.
Until I closed my eyes for a final time and… drifted off to sleep.
- CET... but my sleeping schedule is messed up anyways
- Fledgeling Writer
I wanted to pick up writing again after years of stagnation. And this time I'd really like actual feedback.
So I switched to English, since I barely even read in a different language for fun during the last decade, and I hoped to reach more people with a modern lingua franca.
Anyways, I hope to receive honest and diverse criticism. This site seemed rather civil compared to others in that aspect.
So I'm here.