AN: Here's something to tide over my readers. It's been lurking on my comp for months now so I thought I'd throw it out there. Did it later last year just before my unfortunate illness. I'm experiencing a slight delay with UE and SotB, mainly because I got my grubby mitts on the new Dragon Quest DS game and my muses are as immersed in it as I am. Depending on the reviews this gets I might be able to continue it if the plot bunny that spawned it gets a new dose of inspiration, so I won't mark it as complete for now.
It had been a tough day, full of battles and long, arduous trekking towards the foot of mount Undelwalt. Many of the mortals had finished eating for the night and gone to sleep early, including the Marshall girl; leaving only a handful still awake, either on watch duty or cleaning up. Pulling itself together (literally), the Remnant eased up onto it's spindly legs before moving towards the central fire, it's pointed feet gouging deep holes in the soft earth.
Glancing back only once at it's bonded soul's tent, it made a beeline for the fire, curiosity and worry drawing it near to the lone figure sitting on the ground by the blazing wood, leaning back against one of the large stones put there for seats.
"Hey Lob Omen, I guess you're not tired either…"
Stalking up behind the figure, it was unsurprised by the absentminded greeting it got. It was long used to the other's ability to sense it's presence even when it wasn't making a sound. Peering over the boy's shoulder at the tablet in his hand, it saw the muted power shifting lazily within the artefact, light rippling over it's surface in reaction to the one touching it.
Surprisingly, Sifa was there as well, the little mole's glowing purple orbs half shut while it leaned sleepily against a warm thigh. Trilling a question at the half asleep Remnant, Lob Omen waited while it squeaked in reply, thought/meaning drifting lazily into it's mind.
Squirming around into a better position, the little Remnant patted the boy's leg with a small claw, cooing lightly when it got a distracted smile in response.
Just able to pick up the undirected thoughts of confusion, worry and uncertainty from the boy, Lob Omen gave it's own equivalent of a sigh, sparks drifting from it's fiery grill, before easing down beside them, trying to fold it's limbs so that it didn't just collapse into it's customary jumbled heap. Finally settling into a sort of half crouch with it's shoulder touching the boy's, Lob Omen considered the problem embodied by the boy beside it.
Honestly, it had never seen or heard of anything like him until it's current bonded had first met the red Warden. Truly he was a Remnant that felt like strength incarnate and had a presence like thunder. His enormous power barely contained within the form of a feeble mitra. It knew the man was one of it's own kind instantly, the bond of family/kin singing out the moment it spotted him.
It had tried to reach out to him, Sending a flurry of thoughts, mostly greetings and curiosity. He hadn't answered though, had barely even shown he'd felt it, thoughts so faint as to be nearly undetectable.
Eventually it realised that he couldn't connect to any of his kin, could barely hear what they said. It must've had something to do with his unusual form, the body ill equipped to handle any kind of Sending. The first time it had seen the boy on Eulam Island, it had been shocked to see another like the red Warden, only his power had been muted and repressed by years of disuse.
Later, after the boy's power had been unlocked Lob Omen, along with the other Remnants bonded to the boy's companions, had tried to Send to the younger Warden. They got exactly the same response Lob Omen had received from the elder however, none at all. With the boy's body formed into a soft, vulnerable imitation of a mitra, the only one he could connect to was the other Warden.
This was a problem, as the other Warden had shown increasingly violent tendencies towards the boy, ignoring the kin bond to the point of trying to seriously hurt the child to keep him out of the way. Lob Omen hadn't actually seen that last encounter between the two, but the other Remnants had been happy to fill it in once it's bonded had joined the group.
Another problem was that the boy didn't know what he was, his origins having been kept from him by the mitra that had taken him in. Even if the female hadn't found him in his birthing cradle within the Great Mother, it would be impossible for the Marshall blooded female to not recognise what he was.
Lob Omen just couldn't understand their reasoning behind that decision. Yes, it realised how the young Remnant might be in danger from other mortals should his nature be exposed, but just denying him the knowledge completely... That was just wrong.
The boy had started to work out his true nature by himself though. Due to the conflicting opinions from other mortals about Remnant kind however, he was torn between embracing his nature and denying it. Knowing how strong the need was to connect to others of it's own kind (even if that need was subconscious, and not fully recognised), Lob Omen and the other Remnants in their little group had set out to provide for that need in the boy whenever they could, by physical presence alone if need be.
It had to be done, if only to stop him reaching out to the older Warden (which he had been doing) when they were near enough. Aside from the violence, associating with the red Warden just wasn't a good idea. The elder hadn't been nurtured by the Great Mother, who was love and wisdom, protector and seer, but by Jord, the Dark Sister, and in turn carried her vengeful anger.
Huffing gently, Lob Omen nudged the young Warden, gesturing towards the tablet. It had seen what the artefact could do and a small part of it was concerned about the effect it might have on the boy. Looking quizzically at the fiery Remnant, Rush glanced between it and the tablet, absentmindedly resting one hand on Mr. Diggs.
"D'you want a look at this? I'd have thought you wouldn't want to be anywhere near it, with what it can do."
Giving the boy a scathing look and an emphatic shake of it's head, Lob Omen reached out to flick the artefact out of the boy's hands, wishing that the physical gulf of differences between them didn't exist. It wished that it's oblivious brother could know the bond between his kin, feel his true Mother's ancient loving presence and have no doubt where he belonged.
The moment it's spiked limb touched the tablet to flick it away however, something… unexpected happened. The artefact flared up, a blaze of light that engulfed all three sitting figures.
There wasn't much Lob Omen could say about it afterwards, just that it felt liquid warmth soaking into it, the sensation of change intense, but oddly painless. A few scant moments later, the light winked out abruptly, leaving three blinded, shocked and disoriented figures behind.
Blinking bright spots from it's eyes, Lob Omen swayed unsteadily, balance feeling strangely off. Turning it's head, it saw Rush rubbing his eyes and felt the :pain/discomfort: hanging about his hunched shoulders far more clearly than it ever had before.
Picking up on this change alerted it to the multitude of differences it now felt in itself, and almost afraid of what it would find, it looked at itself. Dark, was the first thought to cross it's mind, sleek organic-metal flesh replaced by soft bronzed skin.
Staring at the hand that surely couldn't be it's own, the Remnant lifted the appendage and curled the long flexible digits, feeling the alien pull and stretch of muscle and tendon. Following the lines of chorded muscle up the arm, it finally concluded that yes, the limb was indeed it's own. Feeling air expanding new lungs, it was nearly bowled over by the torrent of alien sensations, the beat of a heart and the dizzying tingle of blood rushing through veins. The heat of the fire on it's skin, the cold shiver of wind at it's back.
It could see long flaming red strands partially obscuring it's vision when it bent forward and stared down the length of it's kneeling body. Hair, what an odd thought… It… he was male, the flat chest and extra flesh between the legs attesting to that. It/his body was toned if a little thin, clear lines of muscle denoting not inconsiderable strength and speed, judging by what he'd seen of mitra physique in the past.
Hearing a moan of panic, Lob Omen looked up quickly, spotting movement on the other side of Rush, who was still holding his head. Crawling forward for a better view (because it/he didn't trust it's/his ability to stand on two weak fleshy legs) and saw what could only have been Sifa. It was still small, but instead of a stocky armoured body (what most mortals saw as a masculine shape) it was all long gangly limbs and pale skin turned gold by the firelight, short silver hair a mess of spikes.
Always the impulsive one, the little transformed Remnant lurched to it's feet, unsteady limbs wobbling alarmingly as it tried to move towards Lob Omen. It's new form, in a complete contrast to that ridiculous name it had been given by Rush, was female, a child's body on the cusp of adolescence, female attributes still largely unformed.
Tripping on one of Rush's outstretched legs, she fell onto Lob Omen, iridescent purple eyes wide with shock. Reacting to the jolt, Rush finally lifted his head and caught sight of them, breath catching as the newly reconfigured kin bond sang in recognition.
"What the hell… who?"
Wincing, he squeezed his eyes shut as his head gave another pained throb; skin tingling like the after-effect of a spark invocation.
Unbidden, a strange feeling crept into his head. It wasn't quite a full blown emotion, but it wasn't a fully formed thought either, or rather, there was so much to it that all the layers and meanings jumbled together so as to appear incomplete. It was half formed words and emotions mixed together like threads woven into a ribbon.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, he none the less found it understandable at the same time, enough so that he could feel two different parts to it, each with a distinct flavour of sorts.
The first felt focused, concentrated and direct, almost like a multilayered question that he didn't know how to answer. The other was loud and chaotic like someone freaking out.
Feeling extremely off kilter and slightly sick, Rush didn't think about what he did next, he just did it.
Just like that, everything was quiet again. Feeling eyes on him, Rush opened his own, squinting at the two figures sprawled near him. They were staring like he'd grown a second head or something, faces complete pictures of shock.
In the interim of silence, Rush took the chance to study them, not sure what to think of the strange conviction part of him felt that he knew these two. He'd never seen hair quite that flame red colour before, nor the smaller ones shock of bright silver, but recognition was humming along every nerve.
The male was darkly tanned, with long red hair and a lean body, amber eyes shining in the firelight. The child was pale as snow and looked ridiculously young, purple eyes huge as she stared comically at him, and of course, both of them were stark naked.
After several seconds of silence, the kid let out an excited squeak and scrambled over, falling against him as he automatically reached out to catch her. In his head the thought ribbon had started up again, word-emotions tripping over themselves much like the kid.
With his arms full of exuberant child and head too full of her thoughts to be embarrassed (though how she was doing it he didn't know) he just gave a rough sound of agreement.
Seeing the girl was in the process of cuddling up to him, he glanced over to the other stranger (not stranger, something whispered inside) who hadn't moved in the interim. He seemed to be studying himself oddly enough, fingers pinching, scratching and rubbing at skin.
"Hey, um… whoever you are. Where did you come from, how'd you get into the middle of camp without anyone seeing you?"
Looking up at the sound of his voice, the man just gave him a flat, mildly disbelieving stare, accompanied by a thought ribbon threaded with the same emotion.
Eyes unwillingly redirecting towards the Marshall tablet as he processed that thought, Rush came to the only conclusion available, and one that would have given him a headache even if he didn't already have one.
"Oh boy… I really did it this time… wait. If you're really… then who's…?"
Gesturing in confusion to the little girl doing an impressive imitation of a limpet on his chest, Rush looked back at the man who could only be Lob Omen. This time, the thought was clear in it's simplicity, distilled to the basics so that it was almost like hearing actual words.
:That's Sifa, you know her as Mr. Diggs.:
The grin that blossomed in response to the look on Rush's face was one of pure mischief, the accompanying snicker with a definite growling undertone. Rush could only gape.