*3rd Person Perspective*
“Mama! You’re finally here!” The first person to speak was actually Mary. No matter how tired she was, she still proudly showed off the little babies she brought into the world: “Hehe~, look at your grandchildren! Aren’t they so cute?!”
For the first time in his life, Ethir saw his mother smile warmly. Then she walked past him, over to the bedside and gently caressed Mary’s sweaty horned head, “They’re adorable honey… You’re amazing!” She bent over and kissed her forehead, and the little pink girl giggled happily.
“The doctor said…” Mary paused, almost on the verge of tears: “She said they’re all gonna be healthy and live long lives! It won’t be like last time…”
Even though she would only be a human child with her current ‘age’, the Pink Goblin had given birth three times in her life so far. Once as a Green Goblin, where her daughter was taken from her at birth, in order to become a sex slave for some human noble somewhere. The boy was forced to work in the mines, where he was supposedly whipped to death, though she really didn’t have any idea what fate actually befell either of them.
After her transformation, Mary gave birth to triplets, but one was eaten by a badger, another died from some mysterious illness, while the third mutated into a monster after entering Lorthon Forest. The boy slaughtered a few of her other companions, before escaping into the woods somewhere. Essentially, the 12 year old girl had lived a ‘long’ and extremely difficult life.
“I’m proud of you.” Ariel used those six tentacles to ‘gentle’ hug the exhausted woman, who quickly fell asleep in the familiar embrace. The little newborns were still greedily drinking as much milk as they could.
Eventually, Ethir took the mask off his face and pulled down his hood. He had short black hair, dark-crimson skin and large golden eyes. There were no blemishes or scars on his face… And although he looked a little more mature, it wasn’t difficult at all for his mother to recognize her son.
“I’ve never seen you like this before…” He murmured, his thin brows furrowing: “Did this mutation also… Cause your Soul to be replaced by someone else’s? How does such a cold, arrogant, ruthless and, cruel person… What happened to you, Bariel?”
Ariel sighed, gazing up into her son’s eyes. She opened her mouth a few times, before pursing her lips and glaring at him. He frowned, complaining: “What did I ever do to you? Why do you always look at me like that? You used to say I was a monster because my eyes were just a little different than normal, but there were plenty of Red Goblins with weird optical problems. Is it because of my father?”
“You look nothing like that bitch!” Ariel finally couldn’t stay silent anymore, but instead of speaking, she screamed telepathically directly into his mind. Then she calmed down and her expression returned to normal. After breathing in deeply and letting out a deep sigh, she shook her head and whispered: “You don’t understand. How could you know what it’s like… She was always there. I couldn’t escape… I could never escape, not even in my sleep. Your ‘father’, Asmodeus… He, she, that fucking bitch was always in my head.”
“Oh…” Ethir smirked and then sat down on a chair, on the other side of the bed. He gazed over at the giggling little black dragon, who casually drifted around in the air and grumbled: “I get it now.”
“How can you ‘get it’?” Ariel glared once again, “Asmodeus… Just saying that monster’s name makes my blood boil. She called herself Alicia most of the time. But I know she’s the Devil.”
“Hah~! The Devil?” The meter long dragon floated over to her face suddenly, startling the pink-skinned woman. It chuckled, “Alicia is just an innocent little brat compared to Belial. If it wasn’t for Luna… Hoho~, then this world would be a much scarier place.”
“Who, what are you?!” Ariel was so shocked that she almost screamed, but somehow managed to speak telepathically. The small snake-like creature had appeared out of thin air, at least from her perspective.
“Umm, this is…” Ethir murmured, slightly embarrassed by the snickering serpent: “Lilly… My daughter.”
Ariel’s eyes widened dramatically. She kept glancing back and forth between the strange little dragon and her son for a few seconds, before asking: “You mean adoptive daughter… Right? Not that there’s anything wrong with adoption…”
“No… Ahem, umm…” Ethir cleared his throat and was slightly embarrassed as he explained: “She’s really my biological daughter. I was there when she was umm, ‘born’ and even when her egg hatched.”
“Wow. I guess you really do take after me…” The pink-skinned woman smiled wryly, “But how big is she? I’m just curious how that, umm, worked out? Did you grow giant tentacles like me? Wait, is there some way to hide them inside your body? Because while they’re definitely powerful, it’s a little inconvenient to always have these things wiggling around on my back all the time.”
“What? I don’t under-”
Before Ethir could finish speaking, Raijin started cackling hysterically: “Hahah~! She thinks you fucked a giant dragon! Hahahahaha~!” The little floating eel writhed around in the air, producing sparks occasionally.
“I didn’t… No, my wife is definitely not a dragon.” Ethir waved his hands, hastily explaining: “Raelin is a Blood Elf. But she doesn’t look much different from a regular Wood Elf. You’ve met her before, Bariel. When umm, you were about to execute me.”
“I would never!” Ariel shouted abruptly, scaring the babies, who started crying loudly. Thus, she had to comfort them for a while before they finally came down. Only then did she turn back to her son and sternly say, “I wasn’t going to kill you. If it really came down to it, I would’ve killed that bitch first and started a damn war with the Dark Dwarves if it meant saving you… I never really got the chance though.”
*3rd Person Perspective*
“I…” Ethir stared into those large golden irises for a few seconds, then sighed: “I believe you.”
Hearing that, his mother was stunned for a moment. The little dragon finally stopped laughing and complained, “You’ve hated this woman for most of your life, but you’re just going to forgive her after a few minutes? So anticlimactic. It’s a good thing you brought me instead of Anael. She would have been very… Upset.”
“Who is Anael?” Ariel raised her thin right eyebrow, “Wait… How many children do you have?”
The crimson boy smiled wryly, “Two… Twin girls. At least I think they’re considered twins? Rae laid their eggs at the same time and they hatched very close together. Lilly is the only dragon. Iris looks a lot like her mother. She’s adorable… But…”
“But she’s a total bitch.” Raijin interjected, “Anael is a totally sadistic psychopathic necrophiliac cannibal lunatic.”
“Lilly!” Ethir glared at her, “Don’t talk about your sister that way. Iris is a good girl. And she’s only a toddler… Just like you.”
Ariel was looking back and forth between the two of them, trying to follow their strange argument. Eventually she asked, “How old are you… Ummm, Lilly?”
The little dragon chuckled, “Hmmm~, who knows? I’ve been around for eons, living and dying countless times… Some called me Raijin, Goddess of Thunder! Others referred to me as Lilith, the Fallen Angel of Heaven’s Fury!”
“You can call her Lilly.” Ethir interjected, before answering: “She’s almost two years old, or maybe three if you count the time she was in her egg.”
“Dad~!” Raijin whined like an actual child, “I’m trying to help you impress grandmom!”
“Grandmom, pft~!” Ariel couldn’t help but laugh at her cute ‘granddaughter’, but eventually she let out a sigh and shook her head. Then she stared into her son’s eyes and asked, “What happened? Since I’ve been gone… You’ve gotten married, had two children and from what I’ve heard, you were one of the founders of this new ‘country’? How much have I missed?”
Ethir frowned, thinking for a few minutes. Raijin remained silent and left the room, in order to let the two of them truly catch up. She had more important things to do after all.
“You left after Michael returned from the hunting trip back then. For a short time, he basically took over the whole city. There was a talent show of sorts and new matriarchs were publicly elected for the Dark Dwarven District and Red Goblin District… It was silly. But anyone brave or stupid enough to cause trouble in the meantime was purged. He established new rules and laws. While abolishing a lot of old ones. With the ancient gateway finally opened after all that time, Lorelei started a huge mining operation, which was… Well, how she rose to power so quickly and easily. With the money she made, she founded Lorelei Incorporated and… Now she basically owns everything.”
Since he barely spoke under normal circumstances, Ethir was a little mentally exhausted already. Thus, while he was taking a break, Ariel asked: “Wait, wait a second… Are you telling me that ‘your’ half-sister, that little butcher brat is the damn ruler of this country?! Doesn’t that make you a direct threat to her reign?!”
“Ummm, what? No, I mean, yes…” The crimson boy was a little confused at first, but quickly explained: “Lorelei is the elected President of Alfirin. We have a Representative Republic, rather than a Monarchy, and there are pretty strict term limits. After a few more years, no, maybe even before the end of the year, Lorelei will probably retire. She doesn’t ‘need’ to run the country anymore. She’s so rich and powerful now, that she doesn’t really need to ‘do’ anything. It’s a sort-of open secret that there’s a Shadow Government though. Michael gathered ‘us’ all together a while back, in order to create a Constitution for future generations to maintain… But, ultimately, as long as the rest of us are still around, we have the power to directly intervene if the government tries to overstep their authority.”
“Shadow Government…” Ariel murmured, before nodding her head: “I don’t know about most of what you just said, but I can understand setting up a secret government that runs everything from the shadows. That way, you can watch the stupid politicians fight with each other, while secretly taking bribes, supporting the person who offers the most and is easiest to control… Just like those fucking dirty nobles used to do to us.”
“Ummm, no.” Ethir shook his head, “Although we call it a Shadow Government, our purpose is to prevent the nobility and other sources of corruption from ever taking hold. Michael always said, ‘Power doesn’t corrupt, it only reveals a person’s true nature.’ Well… If their true nature is a politician who only cares about their own personal benefit, and they abuse their power to oppress the citizens of our nation… Then no one can save them anymore. Whether they’re the Leader of the Nation, or just a Mayor, Beatrix will make sure that they’re executed publicly as an example. Hopefully things won’t go that far though. Our Shadow Government isn’t really a secret, especially to people who become part of the government itself.”
“I’m confused now. Why don’t you just call yourselves Supreme Rulers or something then?” Ariel smirked and snickered, “Well… We can get into that later. For now, tell me… How the hell did the world change so much since I’ve been gone? It’s only been a few years! I was afraid to return to Black Mithril because… Anyway, what else happened after I left?”
Ethir sighed, muttering inaudibly for a bit, then said: “Aside from rebuilding and refurbishing Black Mithril, Lorelei Incorporated began constructing the Upper City of Black Mithril. Basically… Above ground. It was a huge project and took a long time, but now it’s a metropolis, even bigger than Gator Brook. The city stretches all the way to the Great Lake in the south… Umm, nevermind, I think technically they’re three different individual cities now, within the State of Black Mithril? To be honest, I haven’t been back there in a long time. Raelin and I didn’t have much to do with all that though. We mainly focused on academic progress… At first she just built a few schools and I was only one of her students, but eventually, the two of us worked together and ran a huge college in Upper Black Mithril.”
*3rd Person Perspective*
“While Rae and I were teaching, Michael was ‘here’. Gator Brook used to just be a piece of land near Ael Tol, that was heavily contested between various Tribes. Or maybe that was Harbortown? Hmmm, well, either way, he found the lost city of Ael Tol, where he met Doctor Uriel, Judge Maeleth and-”
“Stop.” Ariel interjected, “I don’t give a shit about that bastard. We’re finally able to talk to each other after… Uh, I guess for the first time ever. So I’d like to hear about what ‘you’ went through.”
“Umm…” Ethir smiled wryly again, “Okay… There’s a Devil named Belial. He or she was Raelin’s arch-enemy because… A long time ago, she had a husband and two daughters. Belial possessed Rae’s husband after he became a Blood Elf… He came home one day, butchered her babies in front of her, then turned her into a Blood Elf as well. Michael managed to save her using Blood Magic when he was only an infant-”
“Ugh.” After groaning, his mother muttered: “Sorry, I just really don’t like that name.”
He sighed, then continued whispering: “Like Lilly said before, Belial is a monster. A God-like Vampire, from what we’ve seen. Or maybe that’s just the form their Avatar chose this time… We don’t really know. But either way, Belial spread terror and destruction everywhere he went. The ancient Dark Elf city of Angren was turned into hell after he passed through there. Then he went north but… Well, at some point, Rae and I fought his minions, along with a huge vampiric horde in the Battle of White Mithril. From that point onward, we started working on a weapon powerful enough to kill that… Demon, once and for all.”
“Wait, vampire… I think…” Hearing that, Ariel suddenly remembered: “Back in the human lands, my umm, ‘master’ was possessed by a demon like that. I think it might have been that Belial thing you spoke of…”
“What do you mean, ‘master’?” Ethir took a few seconds to realize, “You were a slave?! What happened? How could that happen? Even back then, you definitely weren’t so weak to be captured by humans!”
“Umm, hah~ ha…” After some nervous laughter, a red blush could be seen on Ariel’s bright-pink cheeks. She muttered, “I honestly never expected you to care so much about me… Besides, it wasn’t that bad. I got lucky. A nobleman named Joseph Cain bought me to be his personal concubine. Rather than working at a brothel or maid, all I had to do was fuck one guy… Uh, at a certain point he fell in love with me, and I took care of his young daughter, Angelica.”
“How can you speak of it so casually?” The boy stared at her in disbelief, “Most of the former sex slaves I’ve met were horribly scarred for life, or mentally broken… At the very least, they were ashamed of their past.”
“Hah!” Ariel couldn’t help but laugh, “If I was so fragile, I’d never be able to survive growing up with my piece of shit father. And do you have any idea how many dicks I had to suck to become Matriarch? It’s probably why that slutty whore Alicia decided to choose me as her ‘Avatar’. Deep down, I know I’m the same kind of monster as that bitch… But whether I want to be a whore or not should be ‘my’ fucking decision! Not ‘Hers’.”
“You aren’t a monster.” Ethir sighed, smiling wryly at the sneering woman: “You’re just a person… Just my… Mother.”
There was an awkward silence for a few minutes after that, before the ground started trembling violently. Deep ‘thumping’ noises echoed through the ceiling and walls. Then the previously silent dryad monotonously announced: “Gator Brook is under siege. All military personnel are ordered to leave the hospital and participate in the defense of the city. Please proceed to the nearest garrison to receive further instructions.”
Then she gazed at Ethir and Ariel directly, “This is one of the safest places in the city. Only so long as the city is not destroyed.”
“I understand.” Although his mother was still shocked and confused, Ethir immediately stood up and walked over to the door, which opened automatically. Then he turned around and asked, “What are you waiting for?”
“Wait what? Are you a soldier? Am I being conscripted?” Ariel followed him out the door, but she looked down at her attire and grumbled: “Do I need to go outside looking like this? My ass is practically hanging out of this thin gown…”
After glancing back at her for a few seconds, Ethir continued walking as he explained: “We’re going to war, not a party. There is no dress-code. Only chaos and death. If you’re so concerned about your appearance, just telepathically obscure yourself like I do.”
As she watched her son fade into nothingness, Ariel was shocked and amazed. She couldn’t even see a trace of his existence. That was how much more powerful his telepathic abilities were. Of course, while she was impressed, she eventually had to shout: “Wait! Don’t leave me here! How am I supposed to find my way out if I can’t even follow you?!”
There was no response… He was already gone.
Fortunately, a pitch-black pixie quickly appeared to her left and whispered: “I will guide you to the battlefront, Recruit! Follow my orders if you want to survive!”
“Umm, so I did get conscripted after all…” Those giant pink tentacles drooped in dejection, as Ariel struggled to chase after the trail of quickly dissipating glowing purple dust. It only took her a few seconds to reach the entrance to the lobby.
Mangled and dismembered bodies were being carried in through the door in a constant stream. Less serious injuries were being quickly treated in the waiting room, right there in front of her, while the others were carried out into the hallway. As for the corpses? Well, it was hard for a novice like Ariel to distinguish whether someone was actually dead or not with just a cursory glance. Especially since there were so many different Races in Gator Brook.