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Great [Monster] Journey 28

RSanon Apr 12th, 2014 1,490 Never
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  1. If anger were given wings and a tail, it would have been named Seira.
  2.  
  3. “What in all the demon realms does that kid know?! What give him the right to stand in front of me?”
  4.  
  5. She shouted at the open air, flapping her wings furiously to fly higher and higher. Even the tallest peaks of Mallus’ skyline receded, the entire world a bleak, dry red beneath her. Why did Galen keep standing in her way? Didn’t he call himself her friend? Her teeth clicked as they gnashed together, the biting wind chilling her saliva when her lips parted. When she’d asked him to stand up for his ridiculous ideals, this wasn’t what she meant. There were things that needed to be set right before she could become monster lord, and killing that damned succubus was one of them.
  6.  
  7. Just thinking about him made her want to punch his stupid face. Every word that came out of his mouth sounded more like a whine than a statement. That’s all he did, wasn’t it? Whine about how the world wasn’t just like he wanted, how things weren’t going how they were SUPPOSED to. He knew something of life, which gave him the idea he knew something about death. Every time Seira tried to show him his ignorance, however, something would get twisted or fogged along the way. She should’ve seen something like this coming; that’s one of the reasons why she’d almost left him behind before they made it to Silere. He was just too young to see the truth.
  8.  
  9. Killing the succubus would be much more complicated now. She’d have to wait until they’d gotten everything they needed and were about to leave, but she couldn’t exactly control when that was or where the succubus would be when that time came. She didn’t exactly want to become a fugitive in Mallus, especially if she was supposed to be ruling over the place soon. Succubus law had always been something the whores had kept to themselves; there may be some sort of exception or loophole she could use, but she had no idea how to research such a thing. Planning would have to come later. It was hard enough to concentrate with Galen’s imbecilic face popping up in front of her every few seconds.
  10.  
  11. Oh, sweet spirits how she wanted to punch it.
  12.  
  13. Sybyll helping Galen so directly came as a surprise to Seira. The lizardman had stood back and let things play out up until that moment. She’d been a hard one to read, but as long as she didn’t interfere, Seira hadn’t been one to care. Now she was interfering and Seira couldn’t tell what changed. Obviously, Sybyll had the physical capacity to touch others now, but back there, she’d acted as if Galen was so… right. Was it that she was just a slave to Galen’s whims? Did her connection to Toneruth make her vulnerable to suggestion from Galen? Seira had thought Sybyll was a more clever and analytical monster than that. It would be a pity if she’d become nothing more than Galen’s tool.
  14.  
  15. At least that slime hadn’t moved or said anything.
  16.  
  17. A fresh roar came from Seira’s throat as she soared higher. That vile slime! Just thinking about her made Seira’s blood boil! She’d poisoned Galen’s mind. There was no way she wasn’t blameless for this whole ordeal. No matter how much Seira might’ve warned Galen, told him to dump the slime, said it’d be nothing but trouble, he’d ignored her and now was dealing with the consequences. On top of it all, he wanted Seira to make friends with that thing. It was like his ignorance had made him outright blind! Was Seira the only one with her head on straight any more?
  18.  
  19. Seira cut her climb and evened out into a glide, letting her arms hang loose and stared at the city below. Never should’ve come here. There were assuredly mages in Uuluth and they were headed there anyways. If Galen somehow persuaded Posiden to end her restriction on ships from Nox, maybe they could’ve negotiated for help from her. Surely she would know many capable mages. Seira frowned. Mallus may have sounded like a good choice, but had she given even an ounce more of thought, she would’ve figured out what terrible idea it was. Why couldn’t she predict these things? She was supposed to be the daughter of Vessuub Khertaleon--the mastermind who could see timelines like thread woven from each individual monster coming together in a coherent tapestry. Such an easily-avoidable failure would only disappoint her parents. Well, her mother, at least. Her father would probably have rubbed her head, tickled her ears and tried to cheer her up with unrelated humor.
  20.  
  21. Seira’s rigid frown cracked. She should’ve asked her mother why she picked her father. Where they met. How a person and a monster with such different personalities could work together like them. She’d asked her father once, but he’d just answered, “Cause that’s the way things work out!” with a laugh. He was kind, but never good for anything serious or deep. She almost wanted to smack him for being so negligent raising her on those things. It wasn’t like she hated her father; he was joyful and silly and a pleasure to be around, but she sometimes got the feeling he never took things at their weight. The only time she really saw him grim was that final night, when he told her to run, promised he’d save her mother… then disappeared.
  22.  
  23. Whatever. It was useless bemoaning things she couldn’t have. Her parents were gone and wouldn’t be offering neither advice nor rebuke for Seira’s choices now. The most she could do was honor their memory.
  24.  
  25. Seira’s glide took her back down into Mallus. She picked out one of the higher roofs and dove in, the air around her exploding with activity when she opened her wings to stop just before landing. The heat coming off the rough stone surprised her paws, but after the initial shock, it actually felt quite soothing. Her claws gripped tight, digging every detail of the stone into her paw pads. A bell tower stood directly before her, perhaps some measure for the time of day or meant for announcements. It didn’t matter either way, to Seira it was something to rest her back against. She turned around and plopped herself down, letting one leg slide down each of the opposing slopes on the roof.
  26.  
  27. Leaning her head back against the bell tower, she took her time releasing a sigh, deflating her chest and spilling her breath into the dry air as if she might whisper her mood to it.
  28.  
  29. It’d been a long time since she’d brought up what happened back then, either with herself or someone else. Her mother had been reduced to a name, one that most people didn’t even know. Maybe monsters knew about her, but after Medusuub, she was just another in a long line of power shifts. Her sisters weren’t even lucky enough to have that. The oldest, Tinni, had risen higher than the rest, taking position as her mother’s most trusted general. Eve had always been better with her wings, and was the captain of several teams of scouts. Britrian ended up as an advisor, one of the twelve that entered the monster lord’s most important meetings and negotiations. Angese was right along there with her. Belfuune, Gretchen, Quvenne... everyone had a place both in the leadership and the family.
  30.  
  31. Seira constantly clashed spirits with her sisters. Maybe it was because she was the youngest, or maybe because she was always surrounded by such success and drive. The answer mattered little, there was too much to learn about the world and the monsters around her to spend much time directing her thoughts inward. The long hallways in the castle made great racing grounds for her and Tinni. Eve loved the view from the skies above the castle, but Seira only cared for comparing aerial acrobatics with her. Books were meals before Seira’s eyes, but Britian always seemed to eat faster. Quvenne was easily the clumsiest of them, but as a result had the best sense of humor. She took after her father more than anyone else. Gretchen often found herself fascinated with the structure of the castle, and spent as much time as possible visiting other cities to study their buildings. She wasn’t around as much, but when she’d come home there was always a feast in the dining hall. For all her gusto and stubbornness, Seira had never been able to stay up long after those--though that might have been her fault, making sure that she always drank more wine than anyone else at the table. That gave her claim to the greatest headaches the day after, too.
  32.  
  33. She had names, memories, faces to treasure, to own. The rest of the world had nothing. Shouldn’t their lives have accounted to more? Their work stood for something? Shouldn’t monsters care about their loss of life? It just felt like such a waste that the only thing left of them was in Seira’s head. The castle, the empire, the respect they earned was all stolen by that damned medusa. All it had taken was one night, a fit of screams, blood, and, for Seira, tears. It wasn’t until a week later she finally got to lay eyes on that wretched thief, and it was only for a moment, but that was all she needed to burn the image into her mind. Galen may try to push Seira away from the monsters that surrounded Medusuub, but that was one monster whom nothing could stop Seira from killing. Medusuub would regret every moment of her life from the second of birth to the day she fell into Seira’s grasp. And that would only be the pain she knew on the first day in the rest of her miserable life.
  34.  
  35. The scraping of claw on stone snapped Seira out of her thoughts. She hadn’t even realized she was clenching her paws. Lifting her head up off the bell tower, she smiled, staring at her paw. At least she still had that anger. That was one thing she never wanted to let go, never wanted to forget. She’d hold it deep inside her heart, like a seed taking root in the ground, to burst out in one powerful moment of growth and consume everything that had tortured her all these years. Only then could she be at peace. If that was possible for one such as her.
  36.  
  37. “We are not among the common and the normal, Seira,” her mother had told her. “From the moment I took the throne, our lives became something else, beset upon by hate, difficulty, and ill circumstance. We have power, but in return we gave up comfort. The world will seek to hasten you to your deathbed ‘till the day you find it on your own.”
  38.  
  39. Just like everything else she’d said, her mother was right about that. Someone had spotted her scouting out Medusuub, and it hadn’t taken long for them to realize that a certain manticore’s body was not amongst the rest. The first few years were the hardest. It seemed like every inn, every dwelling, even the plains and forests she traveled through had ears and eyes belonging to Medusuub. Assassins stalked her path, always one step ahead, no matter how randomly she may have wandered or how humbly she lived. Even in the furthest reaches of the continent she knew no peace. She was forced to abandon her plans of revenge in order to stay alive.
  40.  
  41. So many nights sprinting through shadowed forests, light paws, sharp breaths and a thumping heart pushing her to her limits, knowing the slightest slip could cost her her life. Flying for days on end, throwing glances over her shoulder to see if, indeed, her pursuers were still there. Only with the fiercest willpower born of both necessity and quelling anger would she outlast her opponents. While the attempts to find and kill Seira never fell in number, Seira grew smarter. She learned the tricks to staying alive, staying hidden. Only after a couple decades was she able to recoup and form plans of revenge that might work.
  42.  
  43. Seira traced the patterns of rock on the rooftop. Those years fleeing had cost her more than she knew, though. Almost all of her old allies had either given up on her or were too afraid to challenge Medusuub’s solidifying rule. She even flew over the Great Blue Divide to the land the lizardmen immigrated to, but she was met with the same answer no matter who she asked. Fullsburg had been her last hope. She spat out a laugh. Her allies now were a slime, an immortal lizardman, and a boy from Nox with a magic sword. They’d been her new hope, though it wasn’t as if she had given up before meeting them. They were merely a convenience.
  44.  
  45. Shifting in place, Seira rubbed her stomach. Something she’d eaten from that hospital wasn’t settling right.
  46.  
  47. She still had allies, she just needed to give them reason to have faith in her. To lose their fear. Posiedon was one of Medusuub’s most powerful generals, just as she had been for Seira’s mother. Her power came not from the monster lord, but her rule over the seas. The scylla, kraken, mermaids, and even Undine respected her leadership. If Seira could convince Posiedon to put her confidence in Seira, or even just make it seem to the rest of the world as if she had, then surely she could begin to gather allies. Even if Seira failed to gain Posiden’s allegiance, if Galen succeeded she could give the impression that she had been the one to negotiate with Posiedon. That alone would be enough.
  48.  
  49. Right now, she needed to get Galen to stop fighting with her. A scowl stained her face. If she could only understand that ridiculous man! Things seemed so clear back in Fullsburg, but after breaking her out of the jail cell, he would always second-guess himself or come to the most senseless conclusions. The only time he’d been stalwart and of sound mind was apparently the thick of the Lands after Seira had been knocked out. He fought like a man should, and killed those that opposed him. If he’d just knocked them out again like the night before, they might’ve killed both him and Seira in their sleep in the hospital. His reckless idealism would make him feel good right up until the moment it landed a dagger in his back.
  50.  
  51. Apparently the lesson he learned that day in the Lands hadn’t stuck, as he was right back at it the next day. That visit in the hospital telling Seira to make friends with the slime had only perplexed her further. The slime was a pointless passenger in their journey. They should be dumping her off, not making friends. And who was he to talk about ‘not facing yourself’? Seira had to deal with the reality of knowing her family’s killer hadn’t suffered a single day since that massacre and sat on a throne stolen with blood. Every night, she heard that fiend’s name, and every night she had to ignore it, put it off, betray her family name for one more day.
  52.  
  53. Her teeth strained, crushing together as Seira pulled at her hair. Why did she need to tell herself all this? She knew Galen was wrong, didn’t she? Her revenge was justified. The simple act of being around him blurred the truth. She’d never doubted her purpose, and she couldn’t start now.
  54.  
  55. Leaving, however, was out of the question. Galen offered too much to her cause and if worse came to worse, Toneruth alone would be enough to conquer Medusuub. It fulfilled that duty wonderfully last time it was used. Not to mention Galen made an excellent meal. Oddly enough, he was the first male Seira had… taken from more than once and for some reason, her body warmed at the thought of taking from him again. The excitement she drew from it differed from every other time. The thrill had always been in the hunt, the fear on their faces, the brawl, the realization slowly dawning on her prey that they were losing, and when they finally succumbed, watching their face twist in a mixture of pain and pleasure. With Galen, however, the excitement was much more specific. It wasn’t that it was fear she saw, but Galen’s fear. The unique twitches of his face, the tells his body gave when he was close to release, his pathetic attempts to talk his way out of it, then his surrender. Her heart beat faster just thinking about it.
  56.  
  57. Nothing wrong with enjoying a meal, she thought. The important part was that she didn’t get carried away. Once she re-took the title of monster lord, she would have her pick of the finest husband if she wished, or she could stalk cities and villages for meals if she was of the mood. She would have options. Her mother may have made a mistake by choosing her husband so early. The man was too simple-minded for her, even if he was pleasant. A good man, but not a worthy one. If Galen grew up, he might even be worthy.
  58.  
  59. She shook her head. Why was she thinking about something like that? Galen growing up would be decades in the future, if at all, and she had far more pressing things to consider than a husband.
  60.  
  61. A gust of wind buffeted Seira, pushing her into the bell tower and drowning her in the perfect aridity of the Lands. She swallowed, trying to wet her throat, but only more dryness went down. She could almost feel her skin cracking, sitting up here under the full brunt of the weather. Looking upward, she covered her eyes. The clouds were a bit thinner today. The sun shone through them, a blurred circle like a giant eye staring down on her. Enough moping. She knew what she needed to do, the question now was how.
  62.  
  63. She’d have to face Galen again, that was for sure. Something told her even if she didn’t need him, she would’ve faced anyways. Leaving things unsettled as they were wasn’t her style. And it wasn’t like every word out of his mouth wasn’t true. Just most of them. If he was expecting her to come back begging for forgiveness, or proclaiming a reform, or a sacrifice of all her ideals, he was sorely mistaken. When she went back, she’d be laying down the ground rules so something like this wouldn’t happen again. It was her fault she didn’t make all her motives clear. She hadn’t really been lying when she told Sybyll she wasn’t doing this for revenge, but it wasn’t like killing Medusuub was of no importance, either. Galen loved stories, so she’d tell him stories about her past.
  64.  
  65. A grumble rolled out her mouth. Even if she was apparently a poor story-teller.
  66.  
  67. If she kept less to herself, he’d understand. All those years of secrecy and self-reliance had dulled her ability to travel with and rely on others. Their relationship required concessions from both sides. Maybe Galen was ignorant about many things, but Seira stuck around because he was intelligent and capable enough to learn.
  68.  
  69. Hopping to her feet, Seira rested her paws on her hips. That’s what she’d do. Set his expectations. Be straight and firm with him. He may see himself as the leader of their little group, but Seira’s ambitions dwarfed his like Mallus did his village on Nox. Surely he would understand that much. Punching her fists together, she leapt off the roof, spreading her wings to catch air and glided back to the building she’d run from. Hopefully they were still there; she wasn’t in the mood to go hunting around town for them. Mallus was large enough as-is.
  70.  
  71. Lucky for her, as she came in for a landing at the base of the steps leading in, the great doors opened, revealing Galen, Sybyll, and Mino. It took them a moment to realize Seira was standing right in front of them, but they all had different reactions when they did. Sybyll’s eyes narrowed a touch, still unwilling to let emotion truly take over her face, but now wary enough of Seira to let something show. Mino shrunk back, as if she expected Seira to jump forward and strike her. Galen’s face lit up, but immediately softened, then darkened, as if his brain was flipping through a catalog of emotions before finally settling on one.
  72.  
  73. Neither Seira nor Galen had a word to break the silence with. Seira’s mouth shifted to the side, not wanting to blabber anything out before she knew what she was dealing with. Sybyll was, in fact, the one to speak first.
  74.  
  75. “Come, Mino. There is somewhere for us to be.” She grabbed the slime’s arm and Mino went along with it, but could stop staring at Seira.
  76.  
  77. “W-where do we need to be?” Mino asked.
  78.  
  79. Sybyll grumbled a response, but by that time, they were already past Seira and walking down the street, and she couldn’t make out what was said. Her attention remained fixed on Galen.
  80.  
  81. “Uhh--“
  82.  
  83. She climbed the stairs in three swift strides, seizing Galen’s small hand in her beefy paw and yanking him back inside. “Come,” was all the explanation she offered. She checked to make sure the doors closed behind them, then pulled Galen along across the expansive lobby to the closest bench outside the earshot of any of the succubi wandering about. Galen followed in silence, the only sound from him a whoop when Seira plopped him down on the bench. Crossing her paws, she looked down on him, undecided between a frown and a straight face. She changed her mind about standing; she didn’t want Galen thinking she was demeaning him. Besides, it felt uncomfortable standing up for some reason. She sat close enough for her fur to brush up against Galen’s arm.
  84.  
  85. Their talk in the alley behind the inn in Fullsburg came to mind.
  86.  
  87. “So… your last name is Khertaleon, huh,” said Galen.
  88.  
  89. She gaped at him, incredulous lines creasing her brow. “Out of all the things to bring up first…” No, it wasn’t the time to get frustrated with him. It wouldn’t hurt to talk about her last name. “Yeah, it is.”
  90.  
  91. “I’ve, uh, never heard it before. I know your mother used to be the monster lord and everything, so, uh, yeah. Sorry.”
  92.  
  93. Hmm. So he was actually going somewhere with it. “It’s not your fault you weren’t educated in the history of monster lords. You’re a human. From Nox, no less. Don’t feel sorry.”
  94.  
  95. “Okay.”
  96.  
  97. His head sunk, his eyes locked on his hands as they played with each other. Seira held her head high and straight, giving Galen the occasional glance. Part of her wanted Galen to say something, part wanted to jump into a lecture about everything she wanted, and another part wanted nothing more than to sit there in silence. Apparently, Galen was having the same sort of trouble. His mouth kept opening then closing, an odd twitch here, a fidget there, like a hundred words were trying to push their way up his throat at once, allowing nothing to come out.
  98.  
  99. “I--“
  100.  
  101. “Galen--“
  102.  
  103. The two started talking at the same time, immediately stopping when they heard the other. They met eyes only to exchange glances.
  104.  
  105. “Sorry, you go,” said Galen.
  106.  
  107. “No, I want to hear what you were going to say,” said Seira.
  108.  
  109. “It’s not really, uh, that important, maybe.”
  110.  
  111. “Then why were you going to say it? Out with it.” The corner of her mouth twitched and she started tapping her claws on the bench.
  112.  
  113. His hands quickened their pointless squirming. “It’s just, I, uhh, I didn’t, well, I can’t, I won’t take back anything I said ‘cause I meant it all. But I wanted to say I really do consider you a friend and I, er, care about you.”
  114.  
  115. Can’t even get out a sentence with tripping over his words, thought Seira, appraising the nerve-wrecked Galen with a stern a look as she could manage. His words were sincere, however. “I understand your stance. I did even when I left, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.”
  116.  
  117. She swore the lobby brightened when Galen heard her response. His face positively glowed. All hint of that darkness she saw on it earlier vanished as if it had never been there. It was cute in its candor.
  118.  
  119. “T-then, you’re not leaving?”
  120.  
  121. “Is that what you were afraid of? No, I’m not leaving. I’m not so much a child to run away after not getting exactly what I want.” Did he seriously believe her so crass and vulnerable?
  122.  
  123. “Good. I’m glad.” He hardly needed to state it.
  124.  
  125. He lightly slapped his legs, his hands no longer needing to fumble around with each other. While he sat up straight now, he was hardly more talkative, and after a few seconds, his fingers began to tap on his legs, much like Seira’s claws on the bench. She bit her lower lip. She had a plan on what to say here, but now that she was faced with the task, she couldn’t think of how to go about it.
  126.  
  127. “We should--“
  128.  
  129. “I was--“
  130.  
  131. They both stopped themselves, eyes meeting for a moment once more.
  132.  
  133. “You go this time,” said Galen.
  134.  
  135. “You have to--“ No, she didn’t want to sound too forceful. “You should understand my stance as well. I have my own goals, and there are times they won’t line up with yours. I’m traveling with you as part of the group, but I’m not all I am. I can’t…” She paused, taking in a deep breath. “There is no way for me to ever stop moving toward my goals with anything less than the entirety of my ability. There’s more to me than the Seira you’ve built up in your head. That’s all.”
  136.  
  137. “Okay.” He nodded. “I understand.”
  138.  
  139. What was she doing? She’d told herself she was going to lay ground rules, be stern and forward with him, make him understand that she would do what she was going to do, but all she’d ended up saying was ‘please understand’. How could it be so difficult to be firm with Galen? He was as flimsy as laundry in a windstorm. Rubbing her chin, she stared out across the lobby. He said he understood. She could at least trust him far enough to believe that, right? No need to be overly-abrasive. Not only was the poor kid likely still raw from their last discussion, but she didn’t want him doing something rash like kicking her out of the group. She still needed him.
  140.  
  141. “Can you at least try to work with the group a little more? Maybe not be so mean to Mino? And, uhh,” his voice trembled as he reached out and laid a hand on Seira’s shoulder. She about shrugged it off on instinct, but it rested so nicely, and his touch was so gentle Seira could make herself annoyed at it. “Tell me more about yourself? So the Seira in my head and the real thing are a bit closer?”
  142.  
  143. Seira pushed her upper lip upward, flaring out her nostrils. “I can try.”
  144.  
  145. He squeezed her shoulder, showing off that reckless smile again. Whether she meant the answer or not, it made him happy.
  146.  
  147. She was alright with that.
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