Mottraye catches a cold

Dec 19th, 2019
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  1. Dermizu licked her lips in anticipation, as the adventurer before her bled his last. The moonlight that crept through the boughs of the forest shined off the spilled blood on the ground. Dermizu flicked the red liquid from her thorn whips to collect onto the puddle on the ground; such would be a delicious sustenance to an alraune such as herself. The man stood before her, bleeding out; even as his life fled from the jagged wounds in his arms and legs, a smile stayed upon his face, as his body was too buoyed on pheromones to feel pain.
  3. The poor man and his companions had expected to be battling a group of orcs, and so had prepared their weapons for a more conventional threat. If Dermizu had to guess, these were accomplished adventurers from the Bahraruth Empire, who had thought themselves more than capable of tackling a demi humanoid or twenty. But unknown to the adventurers, there existed a long-standing pack between those orcs and the alraune; that she would protect their tribe, so long as they drew in humans for her to feed upon. For a century old alraune such as herself, there were almost no humans who could match her.
  5. Of the nine adventurers who had ventured into the forest, Dermizu killed six, disrupting and separating them using her pheromones before picking them off one by one over the course of two days. Though as a team the adventurers might have bested her, they were at a great disadvantage in the forest terrain; they could not trap her nor locate her, nor could they hide or escape themselves. In the end, they were worn down and picked apart by the old alraune.
  7. After the man before her finally lost consciousness, Dermizu scuttled forward, using her thorny limbs as would a spider. She lifted the man out of the way, before extending her woody, root filled base into the ground. She’d need the blood to diffuse into the soil before she could drink it, but she was happy to wait for it like this, savouring the blood slowly over the next few hours. The blood form the other slain adventurers was left where they fell; Dermizu would travel to their locations to feed after she was done with this one, but there was something about fresh blood. The two surviving adventurers had been left to her orc underlings- they would be kept intact per Dermizu’s instructions, but once their companions had been fed upon, they would be next.
  9. Dermizu had almost lost herself in the pleasure of sating her thirst when she received the sensation of one of her mystic alarms being set off. Dermizu didn’t survive to her current age by being complacent; she had set the [alarm] spells all throughout the area. If she had to guess, the two adventurers she had given to the orcs were not as defeated as they had seemed, had overpowered their captors, and were now seeking their lost companion.
  11. Dermizu reacted instantly. “[Forest Fold]”, she whispered, immediately blending into the undergrowth such that she could no longer be perceived. No different to the past few days, she would stalk her prey without them knowing she was there. And if the last few days were any indication, the adventurers did not have the divination magic to find her, meaning all she had to do was find them first. “[Eyes in the Forest]” she chanted. Immediately, she had an awareness of everything within an extended area. It was similar to the effects of a magic mirror in ones mind, but with a 360o view- most creatures would be disoriented, but Dermizu was used to it, being a platnerran.
  13. However, it wasn’t either of the two adventurers she had left; in fact, Dermizu could see all the way to the orc camp, where the two women were still being kept in cages. Instead, she saw an unfamiliar figure, cloaked in a black… no, dark green cloth. The figure was relatively short, shorted than the man she had just slain. There was a veil across the figures face, obscuring its identity, save for two pupiless golden eyes. Dermizu was suddenly concerned- she was sure that no human could spot her, but what if this was a different creature? The figure appeared to be unarmed.
  15. The figure was advancing right towards her; it made no attempt to disguise its presence. Its gaze was fixed in the exact direction Dermizu was; the alraune had no doubt it knew where she was. Hopefully, though, her concealment in the vegetation would let her surprise the creature. As soon as the creature passed into range, Dermizu made her move; a cloud of pheromones was launched at the figure. She reared into a combat stance, looking like a spider about to drive its fangs into prey; whether or not the creature succumbed to her mind assaulting pollen, she would immediately move to eviscerate it.
  17. However, as the pollen cloud disappeared, the figure had completely disappeared. The old alraune was confused.
  19. Suddenly, Dermizu found herself tilting to the left, as she suddenly lost balance. Planterran’s lacked the nervous system that animals did, and so it would not be accurate to say they felt true pain, at least not in the same way; but Dermizu certainly felt shock as she saw one of her six tendrils sail through the air in front of her, torn from her body.
  21. Dermizu recovered her balance, and whirled around. Sure enough, the green clothed creature was there- but how had it circled behind her so fast? She didn’t ponder this question further, instead snapping both of her forward-facing tendrils towards the figure. Dermizu’s ancient thorns could match steel in hardness; this paired assault should simultaneously remove the invader’s head and legs.
  23. However, that was not at all what happened. At the last moment, in a movement so fast that Dermizu could not track it, the invader ducked beneath the right tendril, and struck out, fingers out stretched, to Dermizu’s left. Another of the Alraune’s tendril sailed through the air, carried by its momentum to embed itself into a nearby oak.
  25. Dermizu could see the weapon that the invader used- it looked to be claws, an animal nail protruding from each digit. But the alraune knew better; they were not claws at all, but rather thorns extending from the finger tips. And so, the alraune knew she was facing another planterran.
  26. She was clearly physically outmatched- for her own thorns to be defeated, the planterran before her must have been either very old- much older than herself- or had some other means or magical enhancement to become more powerful. If she were to avoid death, she would need to try something else- at least long enough to gain distance and use her magic.
  28. “Wait!” the planterran pleaded. “I yield.” She shifted back on her haunches to lower her height to that of the planterran before her, curling her remaining forward tendril in front of her body. It pained her to do so, as alraune’s were the most prideful of planterrans. Were she not so convinced she were outmatched, she would never even bother negotiating with another so. “I surrender, so please, spare me.”
  30. The creature retracted the thorns on its hand, and reached towards his face. The cloaked figure removed its veil. The twin, golden orbs sat upon an otherwise featureless green face. It was… a young dryad? The skin on its body had not even hardened into bark, and still had the green of a sapling, rather than the tree-creature it might one day become. How could it be so powerful?
  32. “What are you?” asked a shocked Dermizu.
  34. “I am a mere servant, in the service of my queen.” Replied the creature. “I am Thorn.”
  36. Dermizu was puzzled. Such was a strange name for planterrans… a human name, even. “Why did you attack me? Whatever it was that I did to offend you, or your Queen, I am sorry.”
  38. Thorn looked passively into Dermizu’s face. “You did nothing to offend my queen. And even were you to offend me, I would never harm you unless it was to serve my queen’s needs. For what it is worth, I am sorry that I attacked you so unprovoked.”
  40. Dermizu relaxed. She did not know why it was that Thorn attacked, but he seemed to have stopped his assault.
  42. And so, the alraune was greatly surprised to see her head suddenly leave her body, severed from her neck by a bladed implement Thorn seemingly drew from nowhere.
  44. Unlike a human, a planterran’s vital processes are decentralised; although the loss of the fake head from her lure was certainly not insignificant damage, the human form extending from the flower was not her main body, but merely a lure for foiling humans. As long as she could survive this fight with her root system intact, she would be able to regenerate the damage over the coming weeks.
  45. Dermizu reacted instantly, and began casting a spell. Thorn was truly a deadly physical opponent, so her only chance was to use her magic and hope that his supernatural resistances could not match his physical fortitude. She already knew her best bet- as a dryad sapling, thorns body would likely not withstand the chill of the fourth-tier spell:
  47. [Numbing Winter Sphere]
  49. She chanted the spell, the words issuing from within the plant body, and not her missing human-like face as previously. At this range, there could be no dodging the attack. A glowing white sphere appeared before her, before launching itself at the point-blank range sapling. Upon casting the spell, Dermizu was certain that the spell would strike Thorn. She was mildly surprised that the she was not interrupted, casting the spell so close. She watched her orb, sufficiently powerful to freeze a human solid, cross the gap and strike Thorn square in the chest.
  51. But Dermizu was not done being surprised, as a moment later, the orb returned along its trajectory, striking the alraune instead.
  53. The sphere expanded, encompassing the ancient flower in a miniature field of sub zero cold. She could feel her body begin to freeze. With her body already wounded as it was, this was it- she could feel the end of her century of life approaching.
  55. As the pain of being frozen alive – a pain that even planterrans feel keenly- began to overtake her, she screamed at Thorn.
  56. “Why?”
  58. Thorn sheathed his blade, though the cold had blinded Dermizu’s sight to the point that she could no longer see.
  59. “For what it is worth, I am sorry that I had to slay you. My queen loves flowers, and would hate to see one such as you die.”
  61. Dermizu felt her death. The numbing sphere worked it’s course, growing smaller, yet fiercer. Petals froze and dropped from her body. Dermizu dropped to the floor. Thorn gestured with both hands, and the sphere followed her- he had full control of the alraune’s spell.
  62. “I… curse… your… queen…” she gasped out.
  64. “It is a shame those are your last words,” said Thorn. “I honestly think you would have gotten along.”
  66. Now that the flower before him was wilted, lifeless and dead, Thorn set to his grisly work.
  67. “worry not”, he said to the corpse, dismissing the alraune’s sphere before drawing a new, adamantium blade again. “For with your death, you may yet save the queen.” As he began dismembering the corpse, he comforted himself with his last memories of her.
  70. Several weeks ago, Thorn looked upon his queen, his life, his everything. Mottraye was his creator, no less than a god to the sapling, just as the Green Queen was the undisputed master of all of the denizens of The Garden.
  72. Thorn knew that both he and the Queen were not of this world, and was also loosely aware that his creator had not always been an alraune, as Mottraye had stated as such on multiple occasions before. “My love for plants is what gave me this form,” the queen would say, “and it was a true miracle indeed!”
  74. Mottraye’s garden was continuously expanding in denizens. As best as Thorn could recall, it had been only himself, Mottraye and a Treant called Punnet in the beginning. However, since then, Mottraye had awakened many of the plants in the area with her magic, and was in the process of cultivating more and more.
  76. Beyond that, most of the days in The Garden was blissful and idyllic. Although all denizens were expected to assist with landscaping and caring for the new planterran sprouts, most had plenty of time to relax and bask in the gentle caress of the Sun. The plants also knew no fear, for they understood their god to be mightier than any other.
  78. And so it was that when their god was felled, there was great panic in the kingdom.
  80. But it was no weapon that had lain their god low; had that been the case, the valiant Punnet, a mighty treant knight, would have protected. Nor had it been a spell; in that scenario, Thorn, a powerful anti mage with great abjuration abilities, would have already cured her.
  82. No, it was something entirely unknown to The Garden, entirely unknown to Thorn and the rest of the planterrans there. Only one person seemed to knew what it is, and that was Motraye herself.
  84. She called it: a cold.
  86. “Back before I took this form,” Mottraye had said, in an uncharacteristically nasally voice, “I had caught this one or two times before. Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious.”
  88. Some substance began to leak form Mottraye’s face: Thorn panicked, and wondered if his queen’s condition had worsened.
  90. Mottraye began to look self-conscious. “Don’t stare at me like that; it’s just… snot, I guess.”
  92. Thorn hastily returned to his previous position, ashamed to have made his Queen in anyway embarrassed. “I apologise completely, my Queen. I was worried that your sap might have started leaking.”
  94. Mottraye suddenly looked irritated. “Don’t call me queen.”
  96. Thorn bowed as low as he could go. “I’m so sorry your highness. I forgot. Please forgive me.”
  98. Mottraye gestured affirmatively. “It’s alright. I just wish you guys would stop mistaking me for female. I’d have thought that my planterrans would be able to tell.”
  100. Thorn raised his head, but said nothing; it was now he that was embarrassed, and he was too ashamed to reply.
  102. “It is strange though,” Mottraye wondered. “I shouldn’t be producing snot. In fact… In fact… Achoo!” Mottraye violently sneezed. “Sorry. In fact, I shouldn’t be sick at all. I’m a plant now- I don’t have the parts to catch a cold anymore. I don’t even know how I sneezed there- I don’t even have lungs!” Mottraye was animated, but then stilled, brow furrowed. Thorn’s queen looked thoughtful after making that remark. “Atleast, I don’t think I have lungs.”
  104. Thorn couldn’t bear to see his creator ill. Were this some physical foe, Thorn would gladly bury his blades into him. He felt helpless. If Mottraye knew not how to recover, his all-knowing god, then what hope had they? What if his Queen never recovered? What if he… died?
  106. Thorn shook it off. If no one in the Garden knew how to save Mottraye, then he would have to leave the garden to find out. He leaned over, and looked directly into his gods face, his golden eyes pleading.
  107. “Please, your highness. Order me to leave The Garden. I will find out whatever it is you need to become better.”
  109. Mottraye smiled, and tried to look reassuring to Thorn. “Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure it will wear off on it’s own, it’s just a cold.”
  111. “Please!” Begged Thorn. “I cannot stand by and see my lord languish so! Understand this, my master: I must do something to help you! Please let me do this!”
  113. Mottraye began to look worried. “I’m sorry, Thorn, I didn’t mean to upset you so.”
  115. “It is not you that upset me, it is your affliction! Please, allow me this!”
  117. “I told you, it is but a cold. It should go away by itself. Unless…” Mottraye’s brow furrowed, and she looked away from the person he was speaking to- it was a habit of his when he started thinking. “I’m certain that I’ll be fine, and that this cold will go away by itself. But there’s no guarantee it can’t spread to the other denizens. If that is the case, there is the possibility that it will grow worse.”
  119. Mottraye turned back to Thorn. “Very well. You have my blessing. But be careful, and try not to anger our neighbours if you can help it.”
  121. Thorn raised his fist to his chest. “As you order it, it shall be so, my Queen!”
  123. Mottraye decided not to notice the gaffe this time; his head was feeling all stuffy, and he wanted to lay down. “I’d assign you some helpers, but I presume you’ll be better off solo?”
  125. “Well observed, your highness!” Thorn replied, eager to praise his god at any opportunity. “I will raise much less notice alone!”
  127. “Very well, you have my blessing.” Mottraye said, before lying down to wallow in the sunlight.
  129. Thorn turned to leave. As he did so, he heard more of Mottraye’s musings.
  131. “Seriously though, how do I even sneeze? Alraune’s don’t have lungs… or do they?”
  134. Thorn continued with his dissection of Dermizu, his knife easily parting the planterran’s flesh as he carved through the frozen remains of her torso. As he finished, he gained the knowledge he desired.
  136. “So, no lungs after all.” Thorn had thought as much, but he had to be certain.
  138. Because alraune’s needed blood and tended towards evil, Mottraye only kept one other alraune in The Garden, preferring to create plants that needed only sunlight to survive. Even so, Thorn would never harm a Garden denizen without permission, and so he had to search else where to confirm his hypothesis.
  140. Unfortunately, even with his knowledge confirmed, this left Thorn as clueless as before. Had this been a simple quirk of alraune biology, he would have been that much closer to finding his answer. At least he was now almost certain that the other denizens were safe from this cold, and that it must be some unique quirk of Mottraye’s that makes him susceptible.
  142. Thorn thought for a moment. It was unlikely that any planterran’s would hold knowledge of thecure he sought, nor would any humans or elves, nor any beastmen. Therefore, there was only one thing to do.
  144. Thorn would have to locate one of the other gods, and learn from them the answer.
  146. With any luck, perhaps they knew of some cure for this cold. Of course, Thorn would not be interrogating them the same way as he did this unfortunate alraune, even if he could. With any luck, he would only need ask them.
  148. It was a worrisome prospect, though. His memories of the other gods were quite fuzzy, and their relationship to Mottraye was vague at best. He might have to be careful not to let on that his master was ill, in case they should think to take advantage of it to harm his queen. He would have to be discerning on which of the other gods to turn to.
  150. Thorn stopped to think on which god to search for first. And the God he chose was…
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