Thursday, March 11, 2021

365 Day's Writing in the Void: Prompt 4 part 9

Last Stand of the World

Volume 1


Chapter Nine: Map

Davern watched as Asaa, whipped around the room,  her tail coiling around her in mesmerizing swirls, and in less than two minutes, she’d completely emptied the room furniture and all. He was quite surprised. How much storage did the band have? 

Davern wondered how far apart the weird feeling and the band storage worked; he gave the stink eye to the snake he’d saved for the second time, or was it actually a third.

He poked the cute old guy in the head. “How are we going to bring him with us?”

“I have a beast bag.”


“Yes,” a solemn look crossed her face. My mother left me in charge of certain things in case something happened. 

He could tell she was caging,  so he left it alone.

 “Here's the map.” Asaa held it up and pasted it to the wall with tacks. “I've heard certain God blessed items, or things not from this world, aren't affected by the Nullers’ magic.” 

“Who told you? Didn’t you say you didn't know anything about the Nullers'?”

She fingered the bond, “my mother and Azer once talked about it in passing. I wasn't paying much attention at the time. I didn't think it would apply to me, but something happened that awakened certain racial memories of my people, so I’ve gained some knowledge about the Nullers that I didn't have previously.”

Davern looked at the map squinting, trying to make heads, or tails out of the squiggly lines and tunnels that were drawn there.

 Asaa smiled at him and laughed faintly at his confusion. “We are here.” She pointed to the small sub-room they were located in. “We are surrounded by shielding; even the sand wyrms would have a hard time breaking into this room.” Asaa paused for a moment and looked at him, making sure he was following her, then pointed to another area.“This is where it opens up above, and this is where the mechanism was located,'' she pointed to three spots on the map in quick succession.

 “Okay, let's see,” the map was very different from what he had seen and followed up there. He put his finger on the spot she’d indicated that had triggered the mechanism and from there ran it back to the alcove, “here’s the alcove where I rested across from the foreboding cavern before I triggered the trap.” he said, pointing to the expanse across from it, looks like he was right unless he had a choice he wanted to avoid that room. He didn't know what was in there.

She smirked at him, “foreboding cavern, really?”

“Really, it's pitch black up there. I only had glow rocks for light. I was naked, with only a rusty dagger, a rope, and out of magic. Besides, I’d just come down this tunnel,” he said, pointing along the tunnel where the sand wyrms were,  “and this path is chock full of Sand Wyrms.”  He followed it in further with his finger to another branch, “I saw a giant Web down that passage, thought better of it, and decided to not go that way. There were stairs here, a little bit up, where I got the dagger, off a dead sand goblin, and killed a sand spider.”

“Wait, hold up. There are what, and what kind of monsters in our home? Goblins? We don't keep goblins; my mother hates them.”

“Well, there was a dead one; that’s how I got this,” he said, pulling out the dagger.  

Asaa paled, “Mother? What happened to everyone?” 

He patted her on the shoulder, “we’ll figure it out. Hopefully, some people are just like Azer and hiding.”

“You don’t know much about Lamia, do you?” Looking at him with a knowing smile. Like she’d caught him doing something naughty.

He kicked his feet a little sheepishly. “Not much to be truthful.”

“Azer isn’t one of our people; he is a friend of the family, and an advisor to my mother, and an elder to me. I can force my people to change with a tool and my inheritance magic, but they can't change independently. Lamia can’t shift like he can unless they are Mothers.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Don’t be; it’s not something that everyone knows and not something I would tell just anyone,” she flipped her tail at him.”What else do you know?” 

He pointed at the top of the stairs. “Here is the pit trap where Nuller keeps its food storage: it's littered with skeletons and broken bones. I'm sure there are food storages deeper inside, but I don't know where.” 

“I see, the layout of the tunnels appears to be the same, but there are differences. I can’t tell you everything that’s been blocked off, but I can tell you what used to be there.” She ran her finger back down the map. "The foreboding cavern is actually a great hall, where we have a bazaar held a few times a month so the outer villages can sell their wares.  There is probably nothing there now but empty stalls and clutter.  

'The Sand Wyrms weren’t there before, nor was that passage blocked, that led out to one of the villages and outer living quarters. 

'Back up to the pit trap that didn’t exist, the Nuller must have created it. The stairs led up to another part of the city, it must be blocked off right now, and they are just using that section and have broken through to the surface. I wonder if they have done the same thing in other parts of the kingdom, making a smaller, more remote base for themselves?

'There might be some people still living in the outer villages?"

"There is always hope, he said, patting her on the arm. You’ll have to figure that out after we find my brother."

She nodded her head and looked back up at the map, refocusing her attention on the great hall.

She put her finger back there. "Let's focus here since we know that the Nuller probably went further into the tunnels towards the palace. At least that’s what I would have done. So, back up to the hall that we use for the bazaar and where we are now, if we continue to the left some stairs lead to the central square we have shops and apartments, and trade there is also a large artificial lake.

'Down a corridor past the lake is the main hall where we hold feasts and all formal occasions. Past that, it leads you to the library and armory, also the state treasury, the guard barracks, and prison wards.

'If you come back to the main hall and go to the left, instead of going straight, you’ll go up a set of stairs leading up into the entrance hall of the palace, where guests are entertained as they are waiting for an audience. Past that is a gate, I have a key for the lock if it isn’t changed.” She paused, fiddling with the small keyring at her waist.

It was the same one she’d used before, he wondered why she kept it out and not in the bond, but he didn’t ask.

“Then there is the first set of the deep pools. They are heated by a thermal vent and are quite big, and never vary in temperature. They help when you're not feeling well. We've made a special bath that contains the water and filters it so that nothing harmful can come in with the water.”

“Oh, “ Davern drawled.  A cold glint in his eye. “Perfectly controlled thermal baths that are filtered, and nothing harmful can reach the bather? Do I have that right? Is there a magical device involved?”

“No, why?”

“Nevermind, keep going. I’ll let you know my thoughts in a moment if my guess is correct.”

“Okay, she nodded and continued on with her explanation of the complex's layout. “Not far from the first bath is the Throne room, and behind that are mine and my mother's rooms. They’re heated by the same system that controls the springs.

'In fact, the whole temperature control system for the tribe is controlled by the system. There isn’t any magic needed. It works very efficiently and is quite adapted to this climate. Our race has lived quite comfortably within this network for millennia.” 

“Do you have  any record of the technology required to build and maintain the heating and cooling system?”

“What are you driving at?”

“You’re a cold-blooded species that happens to use magic, but instead of using magic to solve your problem, you use technology? Something that you can't control? But it can be controlled by a species that comes to the desert every couple hundred years, breeds, wreaks havoc on all other sentient races on this planet, and then vanishes back into its marshland habitat and goes dormant; unless someone disturbed one.

'It must take them quite a while to reach maturity, and if they are like some species, maybe the adults die off after they give birth to the young; that could be why the Nuller I fought with is so much weaker than the reports. 

'Maybe these aren’t your peoples' ancestral lands at all; maybe they have always been the Nullers' spawning grounds." 

She paled, her eyes widened, “Lamia are tribal. There are many Queens. Do you know how many cities there are in the desert that are just like this one? If that's true, why hasn’t my race been destroyed?”

“I don’t know the answer to that question. How long could you have stayed in this room before I found you? How many other girls like you, are there in other rooms like this one? You can hibernate, right?”

She nodded, her stomach weak, as the realization of what had happened, the legends of the Mothers, the reason mankind was terror-stricken of her kind. The wars, the fear. How it could all have been avoided. How if she had been in here for years, the kind of monster she would have become, her only purpose to procreate and repopulate her species. 

The primal memories from the inheritance would have overtaken her will, and she would have lost herself; maybe there were more to Azer’s words than she had known when he had spoken of her race stepping out of the desert; they could also save them before it was too late. “Oh god, I’ve got to save them before they turn into monsters.”

He didn’t know what she was talking about, but he could feel her terror, feel her fear. He reached out and rubbed her shoulder, not knowing what else to do to comfort her, not knowing what was appropriate, “we’ll do the best we can. Azer said to find the library, and it would help us with the answers we seek, so I guess we have got to get out of here first and save as many as we can and find Evon that bloody jinx, then we can work on what we need to do to find the library.”

She nodded her head. He could see something in her click, her resolve firming some of the softness from before had vanished, and he kind of ached for her for its passing. She looked back at the map, then pointed, “We’ll try here first; if I were the Nuller, I would have blocked it, but it’s worth a shot. If we hurry, we won't waste a lot of time.”

He nodded, sounds like a plan, let's start there; at least it’s better than the cavern, “I have a bad feeling about that place for some reason, he said, 

She puffed out her cheeks at him and flicked him on the shoulder with her tail, “such a baby, it’s just the market, what could happen.”

“Famous last words, you sound like my jinx, brother, don’t curse us, I beg you.”

 She giggled and pulled down the map storing it into the bond. “Eh, what could happen.”

Asaa, carefully picked up Azer and put him in the beast bag, and tied it to her waistband; she sighed and double-checked that she’d put in enough power stones. He seemed to be slithering around contentedly in his slumber. She sighed with relief; and closed the bag; there would be lots of additions to the bag in the near future, so she’d put nearly every stone from the treasury in there. She could only hope it would be enough for now. 

She went to the control panel and decided to wait before she pulled out the recording stone until they had completely left the room. She wanted to tell him a few more things, and she wanted it recorded. 


He shivered. Something was definitely not right with this picture, but he blew it off; what would come would come after all he’d had to pull Evon out of how many scrapes because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, he watched her flick her tail back and forth as she moved about the room gathering up last minute things and sighed somehow he thought this wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d hoped. 

She went to the wall next to the control panel and began depressing several stones on it, and waited for him to come up beside her, “ I wasn’t supposed to use this code unless someone came for me, or I’d come out from an extended hibernation. 

Like you said, there are rules; I’m beginning to think that you are right and that this has happened to our race more than once and that the Mothers have put in protocols that the Queens implement as soon as a Nuller is spotted. There is always a Mother, a tribal Mother who births hundreds, and lives a long time in a deep slumber, and takes many husbands when she awakens. 

I can see why the humans are terrified of us, they would have just gone through a great catastrophe themselves, and then the Lamia and probably other monsters take more to father children. Sometimes letting them live but oftentimes not, depending on how crazy the Mother has become. 

Each tribe has a different mother, and depending on how the Mother came out of hibernation and how she assimilated, her legacy will dictate how the tribe behaves. Some of us are more volatile than others I think my tribe may have lucked out because of Azer others aren't so lucky; I wonder now if Azer didn’t save our tribe during the last catastrophe, our tribe is peaceful, we don't fight the humans, nor lure them with spells, or bedazzle them. Your feelings will always be your own. 

“Why are you telling me all this?” 

“I just thought you’d like to know; you might want to share it with the guild; also, I’m going to need your help, seeking asylum with the humans. Plus, you promised Azer to protect and take care of me.”

He rolled his eyes at her, “I only promised to help you find your people. I guess I also sort of agreed to look for this library too.” He rubbed the bond on his wrist. 

“I just think you should know,” she huffed at him. “I think you should know about my tribe's ways, so there aren’t any more misunderstandings, she nudged him with the tip of her tail,” and then said, “though some snakes from other tribes are known to steal our women, and even some within our own tribe. The male courting rituals are well documented in several books. She smiled up at him and blushed, rubbing the tip of her tail. 

He gave her a long stare, trying to figure out just what she was trying to tell him, “I’ll have to read them some time; your culture is certainly more diverse than we were led to believe.” At that moment, the constant grinding had stopped with a thud.

The passage had finally descended. “This will lead up to the stairs that I think are blocked. If they are, then we will have to backtrack down to the alcove where you triggered the trap that led to you falling into this room.” She looked down at her arm and up at him. “Azer said that the Nuller can’t affect these bands that was one of the reasons he gave them to us. He said that they were made from something, not of this world and that the Nullers can’t affect them.”

She flicked her tail over and snatched an orb from a panel beside the opening and then put it inside the bond, “let’s go.” 


365 Day's Writing in the Void: Prompt 4 part 7

Last Stand of the World

Volume 1


Chapter Seven: Marriage and Promises

    Davern froze for a moment then backed up farther, “Just what’s going on here?”

    “Well, Davern, you could say I'm from a very old and somewhat forgotten race, among the last of my kind. Thank you for doing what you can for these ol’ bones of mine.”

    The girl threw herself into Azer’s arms, “it will be alright. He gently soothed her, rubbing a hand along her hair and placing a palm on her shoulder, “you have help now.”

    “What about mother? Where is she? What happened after you left?”

    His grip on her shoulders tightened, and he pulled her more firmly into his arms, patting her back while, his being deflated, “sorry, I'm sorry, there is nothing I could do. She’d already disappeared by the time I returned I’d returned. I don't know if she was alive or not.”

    “It's okay, Azer, you were only following mother's orders,” she cried harder, hiccuping into his chest.

Azer looked at Davern over the girl's head, “ I have a few things for you that will help you. It isn’t too much but first, do you promise to look after and protect her?”

    Davern nodded, “Yes, as long as she doesn’t cause too much trouble along the way, we should be fine.” He could tell that the girl was decent, and if he could help her out while he was looking for his brother, he didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t. Besides, he’d already agreed to help her when he’d taken the potions.

    “Then as her Elder, I give her into your protection,” he said, reaching out and clasping a platinum band onto Davern’s left wrist. Runes shimmer for a second and then went dim, inert.

     “This has several useful functions. I'm sure you'll discover them in time.”

    He held up the girl’s chin, “are you sure?”

    “Yes,” she nodded with a firm shake of her head.

    “Then as your elder, I’ll give you into his protection,” and he placed a platinum band on her left wrist, runes swirled, and a shimmer of brilliant light glowed between them for a moment as something locked into place.

    Davern felt his heart lurch; bewildered, he wondered just what the hell had happened, but as soon as he had the sensation, it passed. He wanted to ask but held himself back when he heard what Azer said next.

    “I don't have a lot of time.” He handed her mother's Royal seal and weapons. “I found these in the throne room.” Asaa, trembled as she took them, then she teared up as she put them inside the band that Azer had just place on her arm.

    “And you,” he took out a sword that shimmered a different blue, “this is the only reason I made it away from the Nuller; I’m not sure what it is, but the Nuller seems to abhor this metal. Too bad I wasn't able to land a clean strike before I was wounded. These creatures are fast and incredibly vicious.”

    Davern nodded, his understanding. “I thought something wasn't right when it hadn't attacked me, but then there were moments when I couldn't hear it at all.”

    “You survived a direct encounter?” Azer asked in surprise.

    “In a way, I guess. I was hung up in the food locker. Then my healing ability took over, and I ended up here after a few adventures.

    “I see that must be some healing ability you have.”

    “Not really.”

    “You don't understand the Nullers’ food storage is a state of suspended animation. It's different than what it tried to do to me. The Nullers’ food storage keeps things alive, unable to move, unable to break free, unable to use magic, completely aware until they are devoured, flesh, blood, magic and all.

    Davern froze when he heard that he’d had the ability all his life could recover from any injury, poison, illness; sometimes, it took a long time. That's why he thought it wasn’t an incredible healing ability; because he’d had friends who could almost instantaneously heal.“I'm not sure either. I was born this way, and my brother was born a jinx.”

    “Which is why we are in this mess.”

    “Why do you say he's a jinx?”

    “Every time he opens his mouth about something bad, we have that bad thing happen to us.”

    “I don't think he's a jinx. There might be more to your powers than you are aware. Didn’t you get an Oracle at the church when you were born?”

    “We can't; they don't work anymore, not since the last Nuller catastrophe.”

    “The gods don't speak anymore?” Azer seemed very agitated for a moment, then calmed down, “Well, I'm sure they'll figure it out.”

    Davern looked at him confused,” who?”

    “Nevermind, the point is, your magic isn't as mundane as you think. If you can find the library and the librarian, he will be able to help you; and your brother if you successfully rescue him.

    “I'm even more confused, now.” Davern looked over at Asaa to see if she had a clue; she just shook her head.

    “Asaa, I don't have any more time.” He kissed her on the head, “stay strong and believe in the path you've chosen; it isn’t often that your people leave the desert. It might bring a miracle you’ve yet to anticipate.”

    He hugged her tightly, and she looked at him in bewilderment; why did it seem like he was saying goodbye, “Azer?”

    “Davern, take care of her.”

    “Well, I did agree to help her find her people. I’m sure they’ll be okay once we find them. Then they can look after her.”

    Azer gave him a penetrating look and sighed; “sometimes it’s nice to be young, I mean it. Keep your promises, or the consequences won’t be to your liking oaths aren’t something you can casually break.”

    “Oath? What oath?” Davern looked at him with question marks around his head; somehow, it seemed like he was talking about something other than helping her find her people. But that’s all he’d agreed to, hadn’t he? Just what had the old snake meant when he’d asked him to protect her?

    Davern watched the old snake; sure, he was trying to tell him something; then, he felt an unbearable pain shoot through his body. He clenched his chest and looked around, confused, trying to identify the source. At that moment, Azers’ body dissolved into motes of light and shimmered into the body of an azure snake before collapsing on the floor and laying still.

365 Day's Writing in the Void: Prompt 4 part 8

Last Stand of the World

Volume 1


Chapter Eight: Inheritance?

The pain in his chest reached a new high when Asaa fell to the ground sobbing, her hands covering her face as if her very world had just ended. Suspecting the pain had something to do with Azer, he went and checked his body. 

He reached out and placed a palm on the silken scales, pouring in a thin thread of mana, and breathed a sigh of relief, “hey, Asaa. He’s still alive.”

She lifted her head and looked at him, the pain in his chest lessening, “he is?” He nodded. 

“Are you going to treat him again?” She sniffled, and whipped a hand across her face, then seemed to realize what she’d been doing, “um, then if you’ll excuse me, I’ll  go prepare some things.”

He nodded, then turned back to Azer. He carefully poured his power into him. He realized that he needs to be more careful this time.

He could hear dull thuds and some bangs from the other room. 

The pain in his chest dulled a little, but it was still present; what was causing it, he wondered? He looked at this silver bracelet on his wrist, something told him that that old snake had done something strange to him, and things weren't as simple as they appeared on the surface. 

He’d made him promise to protect her; twice, in fact, he sighed and rubbed his wrist, and ruins appeared for a moment, then vanished. Wait, Asaa, had put in a weapon, hadn’t she?

He wondered if he could too? He thought about it as he did with his storage ring and was surprised to find that things were rapidly being placed within it; he wasn't doing it. 

Then he thought of something. The glowing light. The connection that seemed to form. The fancy clothes, he glared at the unconscious snake. 

No, he didn't.

No, he couldn't. 

Damn it all to hell, could this day get any worse? He immediately cut off his train of thought. He wasn't going to entertain the thought; he could be wrong. 

He’d been wrong about a girl liking him before, and she slapped him. His brother had laughed like crazy. Maybe he was just supposed to protect her.

He rubbed his chest, which suddenly ached worse. His thoughts were a confusing mess, so he decided to put it out of his mind, bringing his focus back to the snake under his hand. Davern didn't see the girl behind him, nor the slightly disappointed look in her eye. 


He’d almost figured it out but had chosen to ignore it; for some reason, she went back to her room and finished packing. Her mother had given her the ancestral legacy before she’d been sent down here. Combining legacy, the seal, and the treasury, she was, for all intents and purposes, the new queen of her people. She slumped against her divan bed; and pulled the two gems from their places within the bond, holding them in front of her. 

With her mother’s preparations, she wouldn’t want for anything. She sighed, swirling the balls, but her people, she thought, bringing up her tail and biting the tip. What should I do? Azer probably knows something, looking at the softly glowing orb that housed his mana, that he’d left her. She’d found it as soon as he’d completed the bonds, and he’d given her her mother’s weapons; what did he want to pass on, she wondered?

She put the Orb to her mind and absorbed some of the thoughts. If you’re hearing this, then I am most likely gone. Or, if not, that boy has by some miracle managed to save me. You’ll still need to hear some of these words. 

Your Lamia ancestral memories about the Nuller need to be awakened. But be careful, the things that the Mothers hide from your race… Well, dear one, sometimes they hide things with good reason; try not to go digging too deep before you are ready. Find somewhere safe and only look for surface information for now. I have left you a lot of information in this orb, but you can’t access it all at once. I hope that you and the boy are doing well. Be safe, dear, remember the Nullers are not what they appear to be on the surface. Seek out the library and the Librarian. He is the only one who can help you restore the balance to the world’s mana. Also, there is something special about Davern’s mana; I suspect there is something about his brothers as well; find the Librarian as soon as possible. 

Also, dear one, remember, don’t tail slap your husband too much; he seems like a good sort; he stopped and kept his word in his time of need, to the two of us after all. 

She looked through her things until she found her beast-keeping bag. Azer would have to ride within it, with as many power stones as she could find. Davern was doing his best to heal him despite Azer’s efforts to the contrary. When Asaa’d calmed down, she’d noticed she had sent too much emotion through the link, and it seemed to have overwhelmed him. Asaa sighed; he didn’t know what was going on; she felt horrible about the situation. She’d have to work at getting him to accept the fact and clue him in to the fact that they were now mates and bonded mates at that; perhaps she shouldn’t have chosen this path. Still, she had a kingdom to protect, and they were now destitute and had to seek asylum in a hostile country, on the cusp of a world-destroying plague. 

Things weren’t looking good for her, and she felt a bit overwhelmed. She held the seal to her Core for a moment and did as Azer instructed, letting the bearest of her linages power flow into the stone, searching for surface information on the Nullers. 

Asaa felt a twinge of pain, and an overbearing power that wanted to consume her began to swirl around her delicate tendril; she held on for a moment and was glad that she had listened to Azer’s advice.  

As soon as she retrieved the information she needed, Asaa, broke the connection and pulled the stone away from her body; putting it within its case, she leaned against the divan bed, panting. That could have been so bad. What if there hadn’t been anyone to guide her, to warn her? She’d been here for nine months, and she would have gone dormant soon.  The protocols would have taken effect; she would have followed the rules, she looked at the box across from her, not sure what that meant precisely, but it couldn’t be anything good.

Once she calmed down, she got up and began packing again, as soon as she finished packing up her room she changed into her armor, and carefully put away her wedding attire. She looked through the doorway at him, his would get ruined if they fought, but maybe a mending spell would be able to repair the damage, she bit her lip, she didn’t think that she would be able to convince him to change into something else at this point. 

She flicked her tail up into her hands and felt the place his thumbs had rubbed, well even if he denies it later he still did it. She even had proof, and an elder had affiliated even if her mother was gone and now that she held the swords that made her Queen and her consort was a human her people had been displaced, her mother was either dead or captured for some other purposes. She hugged her tail closer, she missed her Mother. 

She was supposed to give her away on the day of her wedding, there were supposed to be feasts and celebrations, the whole city would have been a wonderland. However, from the situation of Azer, she had a feeling all her people were in a bad way she shifted through the treasures looking for the artifact, that only the mother’s line could use. 

There wasn’t going to be a quick and easy way out of the desert, and she couldn’t see Davern patiently waiting and dragging an endless train of wounded. She clasped the artifact within her hand then hung it around her neck. All Lamia could revert to snakes, either by force or willingly if the Mother willed it. And to save their lives she would will it. The rest can be sorted out after they get out of the desert so she would forcefully revert them into snakes, and then cast a hibernation spell on them until she could help them and transport them inside the beast bag, it was the best solution she could come up with, and she didn’t know how many of them were even still alive at this point, given Azer’s condition. She didn’t think that many had made it. 

Giving a last look around the room, which had been her home for the last several months, and went back out to find that Davern had already started loading the boxes that had fallen with him into the storage bond. 

“Are you ready?”He asked.

She nodded, “Also, there’s a map. I want to locate it before we leave. You said that the thing is smart. It would have modified the tunnels, so you could share what you know, and I’ll fill in what should be there and we’ll work off that?”

“Sounds good.”

Asaa felt bad for making him wait. She could feel his anxiety and need to hurry coming from the link.

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365 Day's Writing in the Void: Prompt 4 part 6

Last Stand of the World

Volume 1


Chapter Six: A Test

A whirl of energy blew into the room; she was holding a piece of translucent fabric in her hands. “Now, you promised. You wouldn’t get mad, and I’m not trying to make fun of you. I really don’t have anything else; even my sheets are made from this stuff.”

His tip twitched, but he couldn’t be choosy; he just needed something to wear. It would be best if it were armor, but at this point, beggars can’t be choosers, and at least it wasn’t a goblins loin cloth. He sighed and motioned for her to bring it over.

The old snake lifted his tail to cover his mouth. That girl was way too crafty; where had she found male wedding attire at a time like this? Sure it looked gauzy and girly to a human eye, but the deep cobalt blues and shimmering gold flakes that glinted in the light wouldn’t have fooled a male Lamia from a mile away. Nor the royal consort embroidery that graced the banded belt.

He flicked his tongue…and sighed, gazing at the books that lined the walls. The girl must have spent her time well the last several months, not that she’d ever slipped in her studies, for all that she played the fool in front of the human.

She wasn’t stupid, though he didn’t doubt that she didn’t have much knowledge on the Nullers because the Mothers intentionally hid that from the inheritors until the deep sleep.

She would probably get glimpses of inherited memory; the more she touches that he thought of the stone that her mother had left her and that she would need in order to change her people.

He sighed; at least this clutch had a chance for survival. He couldn’t say the same for so many others out there.

He brought his attention back to his charge and the last few things that he could do for her, he knew that Davern meant well, and maybe he could hang on for a while, but he didn’t want to be a drain on their resources.

He flicked his tongue; there are so many things left undone, so many things he needed to teach her. He could only pass her some memories during the ceremony and hope that would be enough. So many things, he closed his eyes, there wasn’t much left of the energy Davern had passed, they needed to give him a mana potion and see what he would do, was it worth the gamble?

He flicked his tongue; something about this kid's magic brought back memories long forgotten, but he couldn’t remember just what. He flicked his tongue and fell asleep.

I’ll help you put it on, he noticed that her hands trembled, oddly for some reason, and she’d changed her clothing. They were more elaborate, deep cobalt with golden flecks, he could tell that the patterns on them probably meant something, but what exactly he didn’t have a clue, he heard her behind him murmuring words he could only faintly make out… “Well, Mother always said, and he was naked, and he did touch my tail.”

“Quite right, Asaa, in our customs, he’s already your mate. You’re formalizing it. You know how humans are. If it’s not locked in stone, they will try to wiggle out of it. He’s already Married you when he ran in here naked and grabbed ahold of your tail and started pulling you around.

Claiming you and stating his intent by overpowering you.

He looked at the man with a twinge of pity. He hadn’t hurt either of them even when she’d been attacking him, had tried to heal him, and he was in a hurry. He knew even if the boy did his best, he likely wouldn’t have long, and he looked back at Asaa, pain shooting through him. Her mother is gone now too.

Either kidnapped by the Nuller or killed, he didn’t know which. He was only doing what he could to help protect the girl and ensure her future, he shivered, he'd be damned if he let her repeat history. As her Elder this was the last thing he could do for her, he just hoped that they could both escape from the Nuller, he eyed the teleport runes engraved on the boy's arm tempted to activate it early, and sighed, flicking his tail. He'd have to let their destiny play out as it was intended, rotten rules.

There, all done, she’d finished wrapping the formal attire on him and then pulled a healing salve from her sleeve, and with gentle fingers, applied it to the wound; he hissed and fought the urge to grab her hand. Though his healing magic had been working on the wounds, it was slow because the venom was taking priority.

While she was running a comb through his hair, the trembling became more pronounced; he caught her fingers, “If it scares you, I can do it myself.”

“No, this is something I must do,'' she said and bit her lip, running her fingers through his white silken tresses, fixing a braid on either and pulling them back with a crown clip; he was even more confused by the jewelry. He was about to return it, but she shook her head; keep it, for now, it will keep your hair neat in the coming battles.

For whatever reason, once she’d seen Azer, and Davern had asked her if she had something he could wear, she’d come to her decision. I mean by their traditions, he was already her mate in the old way; there wasn’t much to fuss about.

If this was a few months ago, she could have used her status and just kicked him out and pretend it never happened. However, if it were a few months ago, he would have never come in the first place. She raised her hand and smoothed down an imaginary stray hair from his head, more for another person's comfort than anything else.

She coughed and drew away, but her station couldn’t protect her anymore; glancing at Azer, his once glowing Azure Scales, a dull sickly shade, as he lay limply against the pillow, she didn’t know if he’d make it through the hour, let alone the day.

She nodded to herself and drew closer to him again, and finished Davern’s preparations. Even when she’d beaten him, he’d not hurt her; perhaps this wasn’t the worst decision of her life.

She looked at Azer. “Do you have enough strength to place the bonds?”

“You’re using the bonds?”

“Yes, I will only Marry once.”

“Then let’s give him a healing and mana potion and see what he does first, see if he keeps his word, you know as well as I do that he is desperate to leave and save his brother will he keep his word to a wounded snake and a girl he doesn’t know, while his brother is in the clutches of the Nuller? The bonds are too Important to waste on an untrustworthy man.”

Asaa, swallowed and went to a cabinet on the far end of the study, taking a small gold key from the ring attached to a strap at her waist. She inserted it into the cabinet, her body trembled, and she began to breathe a little faster, her eyes widened, and you could see a glistening of tears in the corner of her eyes; she almost let go of the key but forced herself to turn it in the lock.

She was gambling on everything at this moment, the last of her family lay dying across the room, and the only person who could save him might just be a bastard.

She took out two high-grade potions and a recording orb, placing the two potions on the table with shaking hands. She went to the control panel for the study orb that sat at the top of the study and rewound it to when he fell into the room, then plugged the recording orb in the slot provided in the panel for them and hit the record function; it made a copy of everything up until the point they were at, it would keep recording until she stopped it.

She’d heard what humans did to her kind, and she would need some kind of protection in the future. She looked over her shoulder at the man and smiled slightly, especially when he found out.

She picked up the potions from where she’d placed them on the table and slowly moved towards him, “Azer said that if you had potions, you could do more for him.”

“Wow, this is so amazing; you have high-grade potions!”

She pulled away from him as if afraid he would lunge at her, “I have a request before I give you these. I know that you are in a hurry to save your brother, and I understand that, but I feel the same about my people. I have been here for almost a year with no news, and the News Azer brought isn’t good, so I request that if I give you these, please take me with you when you leave and help me save my people.”

Davern paused for a moment; the potions were useful to him, but he didn’t know what was happening in the tunnel. The old snake seemed to be urging him to take the offer. He sighed and stood up, the flowing skirts came to his knee, and the thick belt seemed to be made for a broader body, perfectly hugging his waist.

He squinted at her; no matter how he looked at her, he couldn’t picture her fitting into this skirt; though he did think that the two outfits were oddly complimentary each other as if each were two halves of a hole, and they both had the same weird designs on the belts, though the belt around her waist was a bit more frilly, it was as if they had been made as a set…he sighed.

Something niggled at the edge of his consciousness, but he just couldn’t put his finger on what. He wanted to run his fingers through his hair, but he resisted the urge; she’d just taken a lot of effort to make it look presentable and put medicine on his wound.

“Okay, I’ll help you in the tunnel and with Azer, but I’m also looking for my brother, the Nuller has him, and I know that as we speak, she's killing him, so I don't want to waste too much time.

These tunnels were once your home, you know the way, so things should go more quickly, not to mention if I have those potions plus help,” he looked at the girl with an eyebrow raised, “you can fight, can't you?”

“Well, I have trained to fight. I know the spells of my race, and I've sparred with my handmaidens often; every time my mother watched, she said I was quite good.”

“So, a rookie.”

She blew out her cheeks and huffed to him, “I've also got to go on hunting parties in the desert.”

“Okay, so not a complete noob, sorry, Your Highness.” He cracked a smile at her, and she whipped at him with her tail.

He dodged and thought of grabbing it and feeling the silken coils again, though. He did kind of want to see her blush; he didn't want to make her cry. “Okay, calm down. We don't have time.”

She calmed down, glaring, she flicked the tip of her tail at him, “fine, but you'd better not go back on your word.” Asaa said and handed over the bottles.

Davern, drink down the healing potion first. He sat down, drawing the ambient mana around him, running a cycle, the power seeped through his veins; every ache from the last endless hours vanished: the nausea cleared, and the head wounds closed, his mind clearing, he chased it with the Mana potion.

Davern began pulling in more power, casting an active spell for the first time. It worked with mixed effect; he ran the Guild beacon and began recording his body's response to the treatment and what he noted. Sighing, still not completely purged of the venom, but at least better than before, which was more than he could hope for moments before.

He released a putrid breath purging the decayed mana and other matter from his body and opened his eyes. “Give me a moment to collect my thoughts, then bring Azer here. Okay?”

She’d stood fidgeting beside him, and she finally released the tension she’d been holding when she heard those words. “Alright,” her fingers trailed down the hood scales of her elder as he dozed, too tired at the moment to respond to Davern or even her administrations.

He nodded back at her, then closed his eyes, again able to focus more clearly since the woman beside him tension seemed to have dissipated. He briefly wondered what had been bothering her then put it aside; he had a more important matter to attend to at the moment, resettling his mind.

Davern ran his Mana for a few more cycles, following their pathways through the body, exhaling as much decaying mana as he could from his energy reserve. He knew from observing Azer that he couldn't let the decaying mana infect his core. If it did, then there was a possibility that he would also be devoured from the inside out. He shivered.

Davern shook out his system for a moment and then opened his eyes. “Alright, bring Azer over, Asaa.”

Asaa, mindful of his condition, placed the old snake down in his lap and backed off to the side, worrying her tail between her fingers.

Davern placed both hands on the deep blue snake, and with slow precision, he began threading his healing Mana into Azer’s Core. Developing it, wrapping it in a safety net, and making a containment spell around The Nuller's devouring Mana, it wouldn't last long; just by the nature of the two things, one magic. The other anti-magic, which seemed to devour mana for its own purpose? But what? He didn’t know, but he would record what he could and pass it on to the people smarter than him.

He healed the Core’s interior, and then slowly, the spell widened and wound its way through the exterior and extended out, healing the damage to his other mana eroded cells. Why had the snake been affected so severely? Davern could only shake his head and continue the treatment; sweat beaded his forehead by the time he pulled his hands away, breathing hard.

“How is he?” The girl had moved closer, leaning over him and stroking the snake with the tips of her fingers.

“Give him a minute to adjust, he’s in a pretty bad way, and well, snakes have a pretty sluggish metabolism. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hibernates for a while; also, this is a stop-gap, not a fix. I don't know how to cure him. He’ll need to find someone who can continue his treatments.” The air began to vibrate around them, and Davern jumped up, preparing to defend himself.

The snake suspended in mid-air shimmered and contorted eventually. It disappeared, and an older man in stately Azure robes appeared.