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A note from carebear90

It's quite a long chapter. Again... (5,300 words)
I promise this won't become a habit. Next chapter should be back to the usual length.

Splitting an interlude in two would just have been weird.

If you find mistakes or inconsistencies, please let me know.

Have fun! :)

Edit: I want to remind everyone of the 'Traumatising Content' tag, btw. ;)

I woke up with a start, unsure if I was dreaming. I wasn’t drifting through the void as I did last time I had died. I also didn’t find myself in the jar on the table in that dark and empty gigantic room that I remembered Memory’s place to look like. And, even though I seemed to be in the same anthropomorphised scalamander body I was in during her dream-visit, I wasn’t in the ever-shifting, overgrown, damp grotto either.

No.

I woke up to Memory’s melodic humming, sitting at a robust wooden table in a cosy, great-grandmotherly furnished kitchen cluttered with nick-nacks and utensils everywhere. The small room was filled with the aroma of countless herbs and spices but dominated by something fruity and the unmistakable smell of baking.

It felt very nostalgic despite me not recognising the place from any of original me’s memories, but they were a bit patchy. So I couldn’t be completely sure.

I did recognise the old cast iron stove a human-sized Memory currently appeared to be busy at, though. It, or one like it, had been standing in my great-uncle’s country house where original me had spent the last months of the ‘final event’. I had used it quite frequently.

“Welcome back, my sweet,” she said softly without turning around. “Did you have fun?”

Her question sounded completely genuine, when I had expected her to be cross with me.

“Em… yes. It was actually quite nice… all things considered,” I tentatively replied, letting my gaze wander through the room. “What is this place?”

She turned around, beaming at me. “Do you like it? I upgraded and redecorated your soul-gathering array while you were gone! Isn’t it adorable?” She looked still the same as she did when I first met her, despite her dirty-blonde hair being a tad messy and not wearing glasses. She also had a few smears of flour on her face and the pastel-green frilly apron she was wearing.

A bit befuddled, I took in her appearance and nodded. “It feels… very homey,” I admitted.

Her green eyes were sparkling mischievously now. “It does! Doesn’t it? I made it just for you, you see?” She shot me a dazzling smile and turned around again, opening the oven.

Instantly, the fruity smell intensified.

“I wanted to reward you for a job well done, you know?” she sweetly continued. “But then you had to go and be all independent and stubborn, didn’t you?” Her tone was still amicable and conversational. “Had to prove to me that you’re a big girl, right?” she all but cooed now. “My big independent girl who only does what she thinks is best,” she added while turning back around to me, producing a steaming hot pie and setting it in the middle of the table.

I gulped. “A-Are you angry with me?”

“Oh Sweetie, why ever would I be angry?” She actually sounded concerned. I didn’t trust it at all. “Didn’t I tell you not to worry? That it wouldn’t matter even if you turned out totally useless?”

She kept up the understanding and soothing attitude. I didn’t know what I had expected. But this just felt eerie and I admit I was pretty wary, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The pie smelling absolutely delicious didn’t help.

I didn’t reply, not knowing what to say. I looked from her to the pie and back, taking in the room again, waiting for the punishment I had prepared myself for or at least a thorough verbal lashing.

Memory took it in stride. “Of course you were far from useless. On the contrary, actually. You performed far above expectations, to be honest.” She smirked.

Was she serious? I couldn’t believe it.

“Still. You ended up refusing to follow my lead in the end. So I’ll have to be a bit more selective with what I entrust you in the future and how far I’ll involve you in my plans,” she mused.

What was she implying here? I think I started to shiver a bit.

Because she noticed and approached me, going around the table between us. “What’s wrong, Sweetie? Are you uncomfortable?” She embraced me in a tight hug.

I managed to not flinch back. She nestled my head against her chest.

“Would you prefer it if I was a bit sterner with you? Reprimanding you for your ‘defiance’?” She sounded slightly amused.

I hurriedly shook my head.

Nevertheless. I didn’t know how to deal with this. I had prepared myself for a shouting match, justifying myself for every little action I took, not something like… whatever this was!

“I have to say, though, I was slightly disappointed.” She shifted her head to look down at me.

I glanced up at her in turn and swallowed. “I’m not sorry,” I managed to say before my voice had a chance to break.

Memory stared at me for a moment, then broke into a chuckle that turned into genuine laughter soon after.

“That’s so…” She shook her head slightly. “Never change.” Then she leaned down and placed a little peck on the top of my head. “No, of course, you’re not sorry. Don’t you think I know that, my sweet?”

“So, that’s it? You seemed pretty displeased in your message. And now it suddenly doesn’t matter to you?” I inquired, getting ever more quiet, merely mumbling in the end.

Memory hugged me tighter and began to stroke my neck frill. “Oh silly, I most certainly am still displeased.” Her voice was sweet as sugar. “But I’m not angry with you. You just showed me that I cannot rely on you.”

She was doing it again, playing her mind games with me! Comforting me while trying to make me feel bad. She did that last time, too. Back then, I was just too devastated to notice or to care. I couldn’t even deny that I had needed her comfort. This wasn’t the case now, however. Why did it have to feel so nice, though?

I closed my eyes and snuggled into her. “Was it really so bad to share?” I mumbled against her shoulder.

She sighed. “That’s not the point, Sweetie.” She lightly pushed me away and made me look into her eyes. “You put our whole project at risk. What would you have done if that cow Fertility didn’t waver in the end? She had no reason to, really.”

I couldn’t suppress a giggle. “Cow? Really?”

Memory smirked. “Well, you should have seen how she used to ‘fertilise’ the banks of the Nile.”

I raised an eyebrow. “As a cow?”

She rolled her eyes and pressed a finger against my temple. Her familiar Energy flooded me and a specific set of original me’s memories about ancient Egyptian mythology urged itself back to the forefront of my mind.

“Ah, Hathor? You knew her when you had to do all that accounting?”

She chuckled. “We ‘know’ each other for far, far longer than that, dummy. But seeing her strut around as a bovine was quite hilarious. No matter who she embodied, though, she never liked to share what she saw as hers. So your gamble was quite uncertain to bear fruit, you see?”

‘Dummy’? How was I supposed to know how gods knew or interacted with each other? It’s not like I ever got even a brief rundown. Was she irritating me on purpose now?

I tried to squirm free of her embrace. “Well, if you’d given me a little bit more background information instead of just telling me to do stuff, I may have been able to judge the situation differently.”

“But you weren’t supposed to ‘judge’. You were supposed to do your tasks like a good girl.” She lightly flicked my forehead.

I glared at her.

She just continued to smile down at me. “You’re so cute when you try to look angry. So precious!”

And before I could react, my goddess had snatched me up and hugged me tightly again, sitting down on my now vacant seat and plopping me onto her lap.

“Now let’s cut into that pie you wanted, shall we?”

“What are you doing?!” I squealed.

“Why, taking care of my little girl, of course,” she said matter-of-factly. “I can’t very well do that yet while you’re not home. But since you wanted a break, we have quite a bit of time to enjoy together, before you go back and become something else, don’t we?”

She produced a knife, plates, and cutlery from… somewhere and methodically cut into the pie in front of us, beginning to hum again. A playful upbeat melody originated right next to my ear since she leaned forward a bit.

I wasn’t sure if I liked this situation. It was humiliating to be treated like a child. Why did it have to feel so nice? Was Memory influencing my mental state somehow?

While she was busy cutting, I attempted to slide from her lap.

She caught me with one arm before I could get very far. “Stop squirming around, Sweetie.”

“Can’t I sit in my own chair?” I whined. Yes, I actually sounded whiny. I had no idea why. This whole situation was just weirding me out, but part of me appeared to have slipped into the ‘appropriate’ mindset.

“But it is far more comfortable like this, no?” she answered, and pushed a plate with a big slice of still lightly steaming pie in front of me. “Now dig in! I promise you’ll like it.”

I swallowed. It smelled fantastic.

Far less reluctantly than I wanted to, I grabbed a fork and started to separate a bite full. “Is it real?” I asked, looking up at her, indicating first the pastry, then the whole kitchen.

“I upgraded your soul-gathering array to a Reality Simulation Bubble. So for you, it’s as ‘real’ as anything you’ve ever experienced.” She petted my back. “Now eat before it gets cold.”

And so I did. It was soft and sweet, slightly crunchy, filled with pears and nuts and… I think I might have moaned when it hit my taste buds.

Soooo gooood!

Even better than grilled crayfish! Downright heavenly. Considering where I was at the moment, and who ‘made’ it, that description probably had to be taken literally. Without another word or hesitation, I began to devour the rest of it.

Memory kept watching and stroking me, humming her little happy melody. It all felt so cosy and pleasant that it was increasingly difficult to not simply accept this as my new ‘normal’.

I couldn’t allow myself to do so, however. Not if I ever wanted to be more than just a pet.

Once I had finished the slice, I barely kept myself from immediately going for another one. Instead, I leaned backwards, resting my head on Memory’s shoulder.

“That was incredible! Thank you,” I said, slowly shoving the plate away as I took in the whole room another time, trying to sound dignified after that embarrassing display of pigging out.

“You can eat the rest too, you know?” Memory whispered next to my ear, sounding amused. “You don’t have to hold yourself back. I made it just for you, my sweet.”

“I will,” I ensured her. “Later.”

You can do this! I told myself. You’re more than your base instincts.

Memory giggled.

“How expensive was this ‘Reality Bubble’?” I wanted to know.

“Oh, don’t you worry.” She caressed my cheek now. “It was a gift and not all that pricey. You seemed pretty distressed by the original setup. This is much better, isn’t it? More room to stretch a bit?”

I nodded. Well, if it was a gift, at least she won’t expect me to ‘reimburse’ her for that as well, I mused.

She sighed. “You’re worried about that costly dream visit.”

She was monitoring my thoughts, wasn’t she? Great! Exactly what I needed. I rolled my eyes as I turned my head to face her.

“You could have just done the same as Curiosity and we could have chatted whenever you wanted,” I accused her. “Why did you ‘have to’ pay for the dream if it was sooo expensive?”

She grinned at me. “Could we have cuddled if I did that? Could you have cried? Would I have been able to make you feel better with a simple letter?”

I puffed. “You manipulated me!”

“But I also consoled you, did I not? And everything turned out well after you got back to your Quest with a better plan than before. Or… a plan at all, I should probably say.” She winked.

That stopped me short. Well, maybe the dream was quite nice and necessary but… “Let’s say you’re right about that particular situation, -”

She smirked again.

“-why didn’t you do it after? Or before? There was barely a day where Curiosity didn’t send Iris a mini Quest. That dream aside, you talked to me a total of four times in twenty-three years!”

The goddess chuckled at my grumbling. “And did absence make the heart grow fonder?”

“What? No… Maybe… I mean… Are you serious?!” I spluttered.

“I don’t like to micromanage. I like to watch.” She took my face between both her hands. Keeping me from looking away. “And you like it better when I don’t interfere too much, right?” She leaned in closer. “I think you’ve been pretty clear about that, when you went on your merry way to follow your own goals.” She let go of me, sighed, and leaned back again. “Sadly, you aren’t exactly the ambitious type. Well, it was good enough for this round. But you really have to think about upping your game in the future, Sweetie.”

“Bullshit!” I blurted out.

“Language, little lady.” she reprimanded, but her eyes sparkled with amusement.

“As if you actually care about that.” I huffed. “I mean, sure, sending me on wild goose chases and nagging me every single day would have been overkill, but once in a while should have been fine, right? So what was the real reason?”

Her demeanour suddenly shifted. The smile dropped and the sparkle in her eyes vanished. “Little one, do you honestly expect me to explain myself to you? It’s nice to see you getting more comfortable with me but don’t forget your place in the process.” Her tone of voice stayed exactly the same, but it made me shiver now.

Had I pushed too far? Sure, behind this librarian facade of hers that communicated with me was this big unimaginable being, but if she wanted me to act like her little pet, if she wanted to pamper and entertain me as it seemed, why would this particular question be too much?

“I only want to understand,” I replied meekly. My voice trembled.

And just like that, as if nothing happened, the smile was back. “Of course you do!” Memory rubbed my head. “My little scholar. The Others were so pissed when they noticed how far you got with so little input.” She giggled again.

Was this it? Was she somehow kept from communicating too much to prevent me from learning too fast? Or did she only want me to think that? Argh! I may qualify as a genius but I’m not smart enough to play 4D mental chess with a god!

Memory started to laugh as I pondered.

“You’re frowning too much. Well, it looks very cute. So, by all means, keep going.” She reached over me and began to cut another thick slice of the pie. “Or you could just eat a bit more while I tell you what I want you to know and keep from you what I don’t. How does that sound?”

I eyed the knife which was carefully cutting the pastry. Then looked back up to her. “Completely fine,” I mumbled. “I can’t remember ever eating anything that tasted better.” I may have blushed a bit. I wasn’t sure if this body could. But my cheeks grew warmer. Though, perhaps that was only the blood that rushed back into them after the relief of not having gravely offended her.

What was it with my emotions today? This felt like a roller-coaster ride. I was pretty certain this wasn’t normal. Still, I tried to relax once more when Memory gently pushed the plate in front of me again.

“You weren’t wrong, you know?” she began. “I could have sent you Quest after Quest just like Curiosity. But besides me really not liking to do that, every Quest costs a bit of Energy. And we are only allowed to use Energy we gathered in Reality itself for most game purposes. Well, besides some horrendously expensive exceptions like dream visits for example.” She bopped me on the nose. “You see, Curiosity gets a tiny sliver of Energy every time someone or something is curious and tries to figure something out. Hunger, whenever something feels hungry, Fertility when something procreates. Now when do you think I get some?”

I gulped down a forkful of pie. “Whenever someone remembers stuff?”

“Correct!” She rapidly clapped her hands. “And now you should see why I have to be a bit careful with my spending for the time being.”

“And you couldn’t just tell me that?” I made an effort to sound deferential.

She giggled delightedly. “I could have, but why would I? You didn’t need to know. You still don’t, to be perfectly clear. I am merely ‘pampering and entertaining you’.”

I winced.

She grinned. “Now, is this enough for now or do you want to fish for more ‘secret knowledge’?”

I shook my head. “No, I…” I sighed. “You are the boss.”

“Aww, come on, Sweetie! ‘The boss’? Really? That sounds so stuck up. Say, how do you feel about ‘Mommy’?”

“Absolutely not!” I shouted, horrified, and jumped from her lap.

She guffawed, snatching and pulling me back up. “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. You should have seen your face! So precious!”

“If you wanted to creep me out, congratulations!” I struggled uselessly. “I’m not a child!”

“Well, at the moment you very much are. How old were you when you last were in this body? Half a year? A bit more?” Her grin was infuriating.

“So what?!” I gave up on my ineffective escape attempts. “It’s not like I chose it. Neither the first time nor now.”

Her only response was a knowing smile and a raised eyebrow.

“But I like being able to talk, so don’t turn me back into a scalamander, please!?” I hastily added.

“Of course!” She squeezed me tighter. “Don’t you worry! I like you better this way, too! So much cuter, so much easier to cuddle with!” She rubbed her cheek against my head.

All I could do was staying still and enduring her ‘affections’.

“How long will I be here until you put me back into Reality for a new round?” I asked after a while.

“Hm? For now, everything is developing fine without further direct input from you. In the end, you did a great job setting it all up, even though it was a bit different than I wanted,” she cooed. “And so far, Fertility is playing nice. Didn’t you want a break anyway?”

Well, yes. This still seemed like a suspiciously sudden change to me. “But you surely have other plans you could need my help with down there?” I tried once more. If I had to stay here for an extended amount of time, playing plush toy, I was bound to go crazy.

“My, My… So eager to get away from me? And here I thought you had warmed up to me.” She rubbed my head again and kept petting me gently, but stopped hugging me too tightly.

Then Memory leaned down, conspiratorially whispering into my ears. “Of course, I have plans. I always have plans, my sweet. Though, at the moment, none of them require your help. Maybe that would be different if I could trust you to follow my orders?”

My eyes flew wide open as I turned to gaze up at her. Fuck!

She laughed brightly. “Naturally you could always go and take a vacation from your vacation if you so desire.”

I sighed in relief. At least I wasn’t completely trapped here. But even that would have been a far better deal than the extended sentence in a stark and empty soul-jar I had inwardly prepared myself for. Perhaps I should show a bit of appreciation after all?

“I won’t give you any guidance or tasks for the time being, though,” she added.

I huffed at her.

“You didn’t exactly give me any ‘guidance’ last time either,” I blurted out before I could stop myself, only to instantly clasp both hands over my mouth, my eyes widening once more.

So much for being thankful and diplomatic…

“Sorry!” I nearly croaked, before Memory could reprimand me for being flippant again.

She only kept up her smiling, humming and petting, however, not commenting on it at all.

So I tentatively reached for another slice of pear-nut-pie.

 

Until the pastry was completely consumed, we both kept mostly silent. Well, my thoughts were racing and I was sure she was listening in, but outwardly, I was eating and she was cuddling me, humming cheerful tunes.

No further talking required.

For an outward observer, I’m sure it would have looked like a wholesome scene. I can assure you, it didn’t feel like one.

Eventually, I ran out of pie and excuses to keep stalling. So I just asked what I needed to know most.

“What do you want from me?” I turned to look up at her again. “I mean, what do you really expect from me? Beyond all this cutesy and cuddly fluff.”

She regarded me with her serenely affectionate gaze but didn’t reply or indicated for me to stop so I continued.

“You are bigger and more powerful than I could ever imagine or understand. And you’re playing a game with your peers, for crying out loud! I may be an asset, but you already told me last time that I’m not a game-changer in the bigger picture. In the end, I’m just a trophy that gives you a few more options, right?”

My voice started to waver and my eyes became wet. “I’m just a pet you can do with whatever you desire. And I have not much choice in the matter. You demonstrated that to me ever since I came back here.”

Tears began to roll down my cheeks and Memory pulled out a handkerchief and proceeded to gently wipe them away. Even so, she didn’t interrupt or shush me.

“You watched my whole world burn before you picked me up when it was gone!” I cried out. “I was scared! That you would use me and amuse yourself on my misery for all eternity. But then you just sent me out there with just two long-term goals and little to no instructions, and left me alone for most of my life.” I sniffed.

Why was I suddenly such a mess now?

“Then I come back and you coddle me like… like that! Instead of punishing me for disobedience, you tell me that you’re disappointed but that you understand. You don’t have a use for me at the moment but would still send me away again if I wanted to? This time even with no planned interference at all? I just don’t understand. Why would you allow me that? What do you want?!”

I couldn’t believe that she actually cared for me. I mean, how could she? To someone like her, I must have amounted to nothing more than a slightly shiny token, not a person.

During my rant, I had turned around in my goddess’ lap, facing her. I desperately was clutching onto her and buried my face in her frilly pastel-green apron.

“And why do I even care what you want?” I mumbled into the fabric. “I loathe being treated like a pet! I want to feel independent. I don’t want to do whatever you tell me without question either.”

Then I looked up, teary-eyed, leaving her apron wet and a bit gross. “So why am I so afraid of displeasing you all of a sudden?”

“There, there,” she finally responded. “Is it all out now? Your current body may be cute but it is undeniably a child’s body in the end.”

She sighed and slightly shook her head while stroking my back, gently rocking me back and forth.

“Don’t you worry. Everything will be quite alright.” Her eyes sparkled. “You just have to learn to trust me.”

I opened my mouth to respond but now she did raise her hand to shush me.

“I know it won’t be easy to accept, so let me give you a different perspective. I don’t need a broken champion, do I? And if I want my Sweetie healthy and useful for a long time, then I need to take care of you.”

I tentatively nodded.

She beamed back at me.

“You just came back from proving that you are far more ‘useful’ than most of the other Champion Souls. At least for now. You have no idea how many of the Others accused me of cheating.”

“Curiosity mentioned something like that, yes,” I admitted.

“And you made it painfully clear to me that you don’t want to make enemies if you don’t absolutely have to.” She rolled her eyes and inhaled deeply. “I had to make quite a few concessions to make your little plan work, to be honest. But that is nothing you have to concern yourself with.”

Oh… I hadn’t expected that. “Alright,” I meekly agreed, avoiding her eyes.

“So, what do I want from you? At the moment not much. You can stay here and relax until the other Players shift their focus to someone else,” She indicated the room stretching her arms widely, ”but I won’t promise to leave you alone if you do!”

She closed her arms around me again, pressing me into another tight hug. “I enjoy cuddling you. It is soothing and doesn’t need any notable amount of my overall capacity. However, simulation speed is already far slower than anticipated since you jumpstarted sapience down there. So that could take some time.” She winked and pinched my side.

I yelped.

“You also can go and play for a bit if you want.” She continued as if nothing happened. “I won’t involve you in any important projects for the time being, but I might send you on some small errands now and then. Otherwise, I’d expect you to lay low.”

“I’d like that!” I interjected immediately. Everything to get a bit room to breath.

“I figured.” She presented the perfect image of a dejected smile.

It was impressive but I didn’t buy it.

“Alright. But before we decide on where you go next, I want a promise from you.”

I narrowed my eyes.

“Firstly,” She raised one finger, “don’t make me look bad on purpose. But if you do, try to make sure that the others can’t throw stones.”

I frowned. “Like when Ferra, Iris and Liza didn’t listen to their Patrons either?”

She softly tapped my forehead once. “Precisely.”

Then she raised another finger. “Secondly, if I ever tell you not to do something - anything - don’t question it. Just don’t do it.”

“But didn’t you say, you won’t interfere much?” I pouted.

“Awww.” She pinched my cheek. “I won’t tell you what to do, don’t worry. But in exchange for that freedom, I require you to at least listen to me if you are about to do something detrimental to any of my plans.”

I sighed deeply, then nodded slowly. “Alright. Seems fair. Anything else?”

She raised a third finger. “Finally, if - and I genuinely mean ‘if’ - I do end up sending you a real Quest and not a simple suggestion, don’t assume that I’ve gone back on my word and ignore it out of spite!”

She poked me in my side again, making me yelp in surprise and my forming scowl disappear.

“I’d only do that if the situation changed and I actually need you. So don’t disappoint me. Are we clear, little one?” Her expression became surprisingly stern.

I mulled it over for a bit, even though I didn’t have any real choice here. She simply wanted me to acknowledge her conditions.

Nevertheless, Memory didn’t rush me.

Finally, I focused on her deep green eyes again and answered with all the resolve I could still muster after this emotionally exhausting conversation. “Okay, I promise.”

“Very good.” Her sweet smile was back. “Now, moving on, Curiosity left this present here for you.” She handed me a sheet of paper with a single line of text.

‘Keen Eye for Detail’

“That sounds useful,” I said, looking back up. “I mean, I had pretty good eyes this time, but I guess I can’t rely on that being always the case?”

“It is more something to guide your focus than an actual improvement in eyesight.” She winked and tipped against my temple. “Not very powerful, but undoubtedly useful.”

“Can I only use this once?” I asked carefully.

“No, but I have to manually add it every time I send you down. So don’t make me take your toys away, my cute little muffin.”

Yeah, I got the message. ‘Behave and keep getting nice things.’ But I supposed I could live with that. It could be far worse, after all. I surely could do without ever learning how the stick belonging to this carrot would feel.

“Now, what do you want to play as next?” Memory appeared strangely excited. “One of your descendants? Or maybe something new? How about something aquatic?”

I looked at her, disconcerted. “Isn’t the ocean pretty violent and full of monsters?”

She laughed. “There are monsters everywhere, Sweetie. You’ve been one last time. You should know.”

Well, she had a point. “Something that can speak then or at least make lots of different sounds? I’m tired of croaking.”

My goddess looked thoughtful, pursing her lips. “That’s your only preference?”

“The natural lifespan shouldn’t be too short, of course,” I mused, “and you already ruled out anything not intelligent enough last time, so… Oh! I’ve got to have opposable thumbs, please!” This whole process felt surreal to me, like ordering food at a restaurant.

“There we go!” Memory said. “That already excludes everything currently available. Guess you’ll just have to wait and snuggle up to me until there is something that fits. What a shame, right?” She didn’t even pretend to be sincere this time.

I briefly considered forgoing the thumbs after all, but decided against it. It couldn’t take too long, right? I mean, scalamanders basically have already been halfway there!

“Yeah,” I suppressed a groan. “A real shame.”

 

And so I spend an undetermined amount of time tolerating being coddled, caressed, and hugged, regardless. After a while, I even was able to relax and enjoy it a little.

Probably?

I wasn’t certain. Maybe it was just the relief that I didn’t have to deal with Memory’s mind games anymore.

I could just close my eyes and listen to her absentminded humming. Now and then I asked her quietly about what she was doing in Reality at the moment.

Sometimes, she even gave me a genuine answer. Never anything too specific, though.

But I gathered that there now were dinosaurs, supposedly. Or what would have been dinosaurs if magic didn’t make them mutate into even more terrifying monstrosities.

Eventually, she stopped her gentle stroking and softly whispered into my ear. “It’s time.”

Sleepily, I blinked up at her and nodded.

She smiled down at me affectionately. “Just go to sleep… and have fun!”

“Hmm mhm,” I mumbled, nodding slightly.

Then I remembered how ‘fun’ my cannibalistic scalamander childhood apparently had looked to her.

Let’s just hope that this time will be different.

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A note from carebear90

Was it what you expected? What do you think about Memory's behaviour? 

Next time, we'll finally start with life#2. The world will have changed quite a bit while Sweetie was out. So much to explore! So much new stuff that wants to eat you! ^^

A big thank you to the readers who looked over the chapter or parts of it in advance this time around. Friendly_Bee, Spirit_Of_Fire, Abi, PuggleHugs and my flatmate who helped me immensely through reading it out loud. It sounds quite a bit differently when read by a female. ^^

I'm always happy about a Rating or a Review. And I really like chatting with you in the comments.
Also, feel free to drop by on Discord.
Just a few channels to chat, ask questions or yell at me or something. ^^ Or helping me with reading over my chapters before I upload them here if you're so inclined.
And maybe a chance for readers without a Royal Road account to comment a bit. 


About the author

carebear90

  • CET... but my sleeping schedule is messed up anyways
  • Fledgeling Writer

Bio: 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.

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Lue Alumina ago

Thanks for the chapter!

Memory's reaction was not what i was expecting, sincerely

NotStart ago

Their relationship is grossly unhealthy and it's unpleasant to read, really unpleasant to read. Like I don't think it's written badly but it feels as if memory is treating the main character worse than a pet. Also it reads as very clear manipulation on multiple fronts.

A being with that much processing power who easily understand how and why a human would react to things and if they wanted they could let themselves appear however they want and be as manipluative as they want

If memory is supposed to come across and malicios you are doing a really good job of it. If memroy is supposed to come across as "nice" or "understandstanding" at least for me personally I would probably label her/it as amoral person.

    carebear90 ago

    'Amoral' would be an apt description, yes. She isn't nice. And this chapter is supposed to be creepy and slightly horrifying. Sweetie didn't 'behave' after all. At the same time, there is no fire and brimstone in this particular 'hell'.

    Punishment and suffering can be delivered with smothering sweetness as well. ^^

    Memory is a callous and perpetually bored entity. As are most of the other 'Players'.

    I'm glad that this comes across at it is supposed to.
    Thank you for the feedback! 👍

      NotStart ago

      Really good writing then. It was so unpleasant to read because I almost felt as if it was like I was watching someone get tortured.

      Ugh the idea of amoral or evil gods scares me. :P

      DeadMummy ago

      She reminds me of the evil mother in Caroline. Having sweet personality and homey vibe till realize it all act. I find Memory terrifying, I had shivers just reading! You did amazing explaining this character and this chapter deserves five stars!!!!! Can't wait for more.

      carebear90 ago

      Thank you! 😊
      Yes, she is supposed to be terrifying without ever even needing to raise her voice.

      Wow... Coraline. Haven't seen that movie in ages. Interesting comparison. Not intentional but quite fitting in certain aspects regardless.

    RobotSamurai ago

    Well beings like this would probably think in completely alien ways they don't even need anything biologically that alone would make their decision making different. Heve you ever felt sad for a bacteria dying because that is like what I would guess we are equivalent to in their eyes.

      NotStart ago

      But they have watched and interacted withhumans since humans existed, they probably understand humans at least as well as other humans if not better seeing as they have seen everything humans have to offer, interacted directly with humans and have so much processing power they could observe a billion different perspectives in the time it takes for a human to have one perspective.

      The fact memory doesn't let the main character process and grieve for the end of their world and the death of everyone they everyone they ever knew and the fact they are now a slave to a otherworldly being is pretty evil on the face of it.

      If memory was even slightly "good" I don't see why it couldn't let the main character grieve and grow and be someone to talk to; not plainly manipulate everything about every interaction and not let the main character process anything. It also reads as if there is direct emotional/mental control going on as well.

      RobotSamurai ago

      I am not debating how evil they are but who says they even care about good or evil to us of course she is evil but to them we aren't important they can make more if needed. Memory doesn't need to care about a little toys feelings that's exactly what mortals are to them toys plus I'm sure that a god named memory can mess with memories and fix her toy when it breaks. lol

      carebear90 ago

      Let me just say that Memory knows exactly what she is doing. 😉

Azrael Bloodborn ago

The MC should get revenge!! (😈 The fun type of Revenge😈).

    carebear90 ago

    😆

    How are you suggesting she does that, if I may ask? 😉

      Azrael Bloodborn ago

      ("she")... Wait ... the MC is male right?

      carebear90 ago

      At the moment? She's still female. That may change from life to life though.
      I never made the original sex apparent. Same goes for gender, ethnicity and so on. I was told that they 'felt' overwhelmingly male, though. And that's ok.
      The way the rebirth-process works doesn't cause any dysphoria. At least so far. The memories of previous lives are too jumbled and feel too 'not quite me' for that so far.
      That will become a bigger problem in the future, however, when memories begin to get carried over more easily and smooth.

      Astra19 ago

      I think you said in one of your chapters that the main character first life the wife left because she had gotten a deadly virus and that she didn't want him to get it.

      carebear90 ago

      In the prologue, MC talked about their late wife, yeah. And as I said, it's completely fine to conclude that they were originally male. I left it ambiguous so that everybody can come to their own conclusions, not to have some kind of 'genderfluid' character. It's more a case of lost identity, I suppose?

      From chapter 1.1 on, Sweetie was definitely female, though.

    RobotSamurai ago

    lmao I wouldn't fuck with that god she has our entire internet to take ideas from for punishments that alone is terrifying when said god can mess with reality. 🤮

TheFreakWithTheWings ago

Wow, Sweetie's relationship with Memory is throwing up all sorts of alarm signals for mental and emotional abuse. Yikes^3. Thanks for sharing the chapter with us!

    carebear90 ago

    Well, it was a chapter about being punished for disobedience so... yes. This is Memory being Memory. Sweetie went into the situation expecting a quite different sort of punishment. She thought she was prepared... Well, quite apparently not. ^^

    Definitely emotional abuse, yes.
    I mean, in the end, Sweetie is so exhausted that she simply shuts down. Not healthy at all. Pure demonstration of power on Memory's side.

SerialBeggar ago

She raised a third finger. “Finally, if - and I genuinely mean ‘if’ - I do end up sending you a real Quest and not a simple suggestion, don’t assume that I’ve gone back on my word and ignore it out of spite!”

She peeked me in my side again, making me yelp in surprise and my forming scowl disappear.

“I’d only do that if the situation changed and I actually need you. So don’t disappoint me. Are we clear, little one?” Her expression became surprisingly stern.

I mulled it over for a bit, even though I didn’t have any real choice here. She simply wanted me to acknowledge her conditions.

I would have asked that when Memory issues her Quest, she would include a brief explanation of the big picture of why it needs to be done so appropriate considerations can be made in planning how to go about it.

    carebear90 ago

    To be fair, Memory made it pretty clear that she doesn't want to be questioned.

    I tried to squirm free of her embrace. “Well, if you’d given me a little bit more background information instead of just telling me to do stuff, I may have been able to judge the situation differently.”

    “But you weren’t supposed to ‘judge’. You were supposed to do your tasks like a good girl.” She lightly flicked my forehead.

    And this really wasn't a negotiation here. Sweetie was already pretty mentally exhausted at this point, too.

    I don't mean to say this isn't a valid point. It totally is! I mean, I would want to know something like that too if I ever were in the same situation. But Memory already had ground her down quite a bit, so... We'll have to see where this goes. Or if it even becomes relevant this time. 😉

Half Life ago

Opposable thumbs? Already? Wow, that would be a game changer. It is interesting that Sweetie neglected to ask to be able to use magic... seems like a potential oversight.

    carebear90 ago

    Well, she was already pretty mentally exhausted by that point. And magic was kind of an everpresent constant in her last life? So, yes... it is on oversight. 😉

    Yeah, opposable thumbs. She never managed to make any decent ropes after all. ^^
    And making tools wasn't as much of an advantage in the primitive stages when they had so much magic to throw around.

    She was very jealous of the elementals being able to form them, however, so this desire kinda stuck.

    It also was the main factor for her being stuck so long in the torture kitchen of smothering sweetness.

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