Episode 34 - The Lying Girl
I have no memory of where I was born, or who raised me.
By the time I realized it I was already living on my own. The earliest memory I have is staring at a starry sky and wondering how I got there. The lights of the night danced across the cloudless sky. Reds, blues, and purples, sparkling with a cold and distant radiance.
But I was not happy.
I was terrified. I found myself scanning the crowded skies for something, desperate to find it. But...what was it that I was looking for? I was sure there was something, there had to be. It felt so important, there was something missing from the sky.
Where is it?
What am I looking for?
It’s not here!
I wouldn’t know it if I saw it.
A cold breeze blew past. I felt myself curl up, as if to retreat into some invisible space. I could feel a hole being bored into my chest, and I clutched it to find there was no hole, but the feeling remained. In fact, it only seemed to get worse as time went on. Tears freely flowed down my face, stinging my eyes.
Why wasn’t it there?
You just don’t remember what it is.
“Alright, let’s get movin’!”
Lunya called to the others. She had promised to lead them to Lumia. Although they looked reluctant to trust the wolf girl, they had little other choice. Lunya hardly seemed to notice their distrust, happily strutting along with a wide toothy grin across her face.
The others exchanged dubious looks as they made for the northern pass that would lead them to the mountains.
“I still don’t think this is a good idea.” Kaguya grumbled.
“I...I think she’s telling the truth.” Charlotte defended.
“How much of the truth, I wonder.” Zero said.
Millium and Fiethsing said nothing, both seemed to be wrapped up in their own thoughts. Truthfully, Lunya hadn’t been with Lumia when she found the strange magic stone. Whatever fate forced her to entrust the stone to Lunya was yet unknown, even to the wolf girl. Lunya had been sleeping in the grassy plains under the warm sun, when the meddlesome woman’s familiar had brought the stone and a message only vaguely explaining the situation.
The stone is for my nephew. I am trapped in the frozen caldera of the northern mountains.
That’s all that had hastily been scrawled on the torn piece of parchment.
“Tch. She still doesn’t trust me enough to explain everything.”
A month or so after the millennium spell had changed the world, Lumia had found Lunya, half starved and freezing, one night while out riding. Lumia seemed to recognize the girl immediately, and while Lunya was sure she had never seen her before, she called out her name without even trying.
“Hehehe. That sure was a while ago now.” Lunya chuckled. Those were harsher days. She had made memories and friends since then, a life had grown from where once none was. She felt like she was slowly remembering something she had forgotten as the years passed, like waking from a dream or slowly growing into a pair of boots that were too large. One day soon she felt like it’d all snap and everything would come back to her. Until then, however, she had come to like her new life. The past wasn’t so important when the future held new memories.
Lying by omission had become something of a bad habit of Lunya’s. She found it both amusing and concerning. She had lead everyone to believe she knew exactly where Lumia was, when really she had little to go on. It would have to do, as she was surely going to need help to rescue her friend. It was more than that though. Something had happened to the two women through the years as they traveled together. A magical bond had formed. It was faint, but just enough to assure Lunya that Lumia’s message was genuine.
“I suppose this means we’ll always know how to find each other. Eh, Red Girl?” Lumia had said when they first discovered the bond. Red Girl? Lunya had pondered the name. There was nothing red about Lunya.
“What could Lumia have meant?”, the wolf girl thought.
Zero and Fiethsing appeared to be talking about something or another, Lunya wasn’t interested and paid them little attention. They were following her after all, what did she care? If they were that suspicious of her they’d have turned back a while ago. After a few more moments the two finished their talk and Zero quickened her pace to catch up to Lunya’s.
“Millium, Charlotte, and I will continue with you on the journey to save Lady Lumia. Fiethsing and Kaguya, however, have another matter they need to attend to.”
“Hehehe. Splitting up already huh? Well it’s not really my problem.”
Suddenly, Charlotte spoke up. “I don’t really think we could stop Ms. Fiethsing if we wanted to anyway. She’s like the wind. She’ll go whether you want her to or not. I think four people is enough anyway. We’ve got a guide, after all.” Her eyes fixed on Lunya for a moment, and Charlotte flushed a hue of pink.
Zero turned a suspicious eye back at Lunya.
“What’s with that look, huh? There’s not a single suspicious thing about me! We’ll be riding big wolves through the mountains, it’ll be fine! It’s hardly even a hike, more like a vacation, really. Hehehe.”
“Constantly saying you’re not suspicious is exactly why you ARE suspicious.” Zero hissed. Lunya hardly noticed though, she was glad that Kaguya would be leaving with Fiethsing. There was something about her that was off putting, agitating. It certainly seemed Kaguya felt the same way about Lunya too. She was overly protective of Charlotte as well. Whenever the little blonde girl trotted up to talk to Lunya for a moment, Kaguya pulled her away.
“Lunya? The path forks up ahead. Which way do we go?” Zero’s voice brought Lunya back to reality and out of her own thoughts.
”Ah, this way! No lie, hehehe.” As the group traversed the northern plains, and the cold mountains of the north grew larger and larger on the horizon, Lunya’s mental image of Lumia grew clearer. She could see the large mass of ice that encased her, the snow topped crater and some kind of shadow lurking behind the icy prison. It was clear now she had been captured. But by what or whom, that was yet to be determined.
“What exactly is your relationship to Lady Lumia again?” Lunya was growing tired of entertaining Zero’s questions. Her tone was so superior, like she already knew everything and was trying to find holes in Lunya's story.
“Its a long story, so don’t blame me if you get bored, hehehe. Truth is we’re actually long lost sisters. I was born with a terrible sickness that transforms me into a wolf at night, so I was abando-”, before she had realized it, Lunya told a lie. She bit her lip and cursed under her breath.
“I see...well if you can guide us where we need to go, I guess it doesn’t matter. We’re counting on you.” From a few paces back, Millium gave Lunya a reassuring smile.
“Of course! Everything’s fine! Hehehe.” Lunya tried to play along, but it only served to make the situation feel even more awkward than it had before.
Fiethsing and Kaguya eventually left on their other business. The remaining four began their journey into the mountains after a short stay with an odd pair of shepherds that lived at the foot of the great stone spires. The two seemed very friendly, but Lunya warned the rest of the group that they shouldn’t stay too long. At first light, the four, atop great wolves Lunya had called, rode into the mountains.
Lunya could feel the connection with Lumia getting stronger as she closed the distance between them, but there was another sensation. A far more troubling one. It was getting far too cold. She had expected the mountains to be cold of course, but this was different. The cold stung her eyes, and bit at her flesh like summer horseflies.
“Master.” Millium called out. “This kind of cold...”
“I know, Millium.”
“It’s got to be some kind of magic, right?” Charlotte concluded.
Lunya hadn’t even considered the possibility. She was too distracted by the temperature. Even with the furs the shepherds had given them it felt like she was hardly wearing anything at all.
The four continued through the treacherous weather. Before them. the path narrowed between two large arcing rock formations. In the distance, a shadow was shifting about in the snowdrifts.
“What is that?” Millium called out.
“Ah...It’ll be really bad if we’re caught by that guy!” Lunya answered. As she opened her mouth, the frigid air filled her lungs and stung her throat. It took a concentrated effort not to cough. She had heard of the ancient guardians that prowled the mountains, but had never seen one herself.
But it was too late. The metallic construct advanced toward them, its red eye shining through the snow and mist in the air.
“Looks like it’s seen us. I’ll handle this.” Zero moved before anyone could even respond. In a moment she was behind the automaton and made a move to slash it in two with her sword.
But the robot wasn’t the only thing waiting for them.
No sooner had Zero cut the ancient construct in two, than a blue streak lashed out from the snow drifts. The glittery bolt struck Zero, encasing her limbs in a thick ice.
“Damn.” Zero spat.
“Master!” Millium called out, fearful.
“Be quiet, I’m fine. Stay hidden. Stay alert.” Zero’s voice was strained, the ice was hurting her. The translucent azure bonds were slightly stained with blood.
“Found ya, ya little rats. Time to take care of ya quick like, see?” The strange voice came from above. A curious little demon with red leathery skin and ornate garments that stuck out in the sky was circling the party. As Lunya followed him with her eyes, she spied him gliding down a ways ahead, where another figure was taking shape in the distance.
“And so you’ve come. You must be very eager to die. Come, Astaroth.”
“Nyah, time to put the kibosh on these punks, eh Mercurius? Just ah, don’t use too much of my power, okay boss?”
“Shut up, Astaroth.”
"You got it, boss."
The strange demon called Astaroth transformed into a magic stone with a flash of light, and attached himself to Mercurius’ weapon.
“Looks like we found who’s kidnapped Lady Lumia. Be careful, her magic is strange.” Zero had managed to break free of her bonds, but not without significant difficulty. Her ankles and wrists were raw and soaked in blood. She leaped back to the others as she recited a healing chant. The magic that struck her was of the same origin as what she felt when Millium touched the mysterious magic stone back in the Light Palace. It was alien.
No, Zero thought to herself. There would be time for that later. Right now she had to keep everyone safe. Lunya looked ready, but Millium and Charlotte looked frightened.
“Millium, Charlotte, stay focused on the fight.” Zero tried to calm them down.
Mercurius raised her weapon to the air, and Zero prepared a counter-chant. One she had picked up from Fiethsing a few decades ago. But the enemy recited no chant, her spell seemed to take effect with no effort.
“Die.” Mercurius said plainly. All at once, dozens of spears of frozen water fell from the sky. Lunya raised her hands, and a crackling bolt of red lightning burst from them. She whipped it through the air trying to destroy the incoming barrage, but it was to little effect.
“I can’t hit them!” Lunya called.
“It’s okay! Everyone stay close to me!” Charlotte cried. Channeling the power of the sacred spirit, Charlotte formed a powerful shielding dome around herself and her friends. It managed to deflect the icy spears for a while, but the incessant hail quickly began to weaken the defensive magic.
Despite the danger, Lunya’s mind had wandered to something else. Beyond the piercing spikes of ice, there was something in the sky. She could just barely make it out, yet it shone so clearly. It was here. That which she had searched the skies for was coming into view so plainly, so easily, it almost taunted all the years Lunya spent searching the night sky for it. What was its name? It was so close now, the memory pounded at the sides of her head, trying to break free.
That’s what it was, a moon. Lunya could recognize it as that brat Kaguya’s spellwork, but it was a good enough forgery to let loose a flood of long forgotten memories. At last, she knew the greatest lie. The lie she had kept herself in for years. The lie of her human life.
“Lunya, look out!” Millium shouted, as one of the spears broke through the barrier.
But why? Lunya thought. There was no danger here. The crimson power pulsing through her veins, scorching her fingertips, it could easily stop such magic. It did easily stop it. With hardly a thought, a red aura shaped itself into tendrils and lashed out at the raining ice, smashing it to powder.
“Lumia, I’ll save you right away. Hehehe, it’s no lie.”
“That form...it can’t be...” Zero’s voice was fearful. Lunya’s appearance had changed, returned, to a red hooded girl Zero recognized all too well.
Nyarlathotep snapped her fingers and a gap between the planes split open. A rush of scorching air, blasted the group. As Mercurius prepared a second attack, a horrid mass of creatures came bubbling out of the rift, snapping and gnashing at the magic ice that remained.
“Not to worry, this time I really am going to help. Hehehe, welcome to R’lyeh.”
-Lore written by Rajadeem the Seer, last of his order
Lapis Cluster (1st) - Curse of the Frozen Casket
Episode 32 - Kaguya's Adventure In The Light Palace
Kaguya and the gang make for the Light Palace with urgent news.