Eggs of Time
Third part. Song of awakening
Messhral knew she wasn’t quite awake. She felt warmth and softness, but her mind could not connect these sensations to herself yet. She did know that her tail was oddly stretched out, not coiled as she herself preferred it, but laid in a long straight line. She managed to open first one, then both her eyes and was greeted by an unusual sight. A woman with an almost painfully brightly coloured outfit replete with pockets that herbs grew out of was bent over her form and examined her body.
Messhral reacted and tried to swat her away as she did not care for strangers ogling her privates. The woman noticed the weak thrust of her arm and turned around. “Oh, I think she’s waking up. Linny, go get the commander.” The unseen Linny departed and Messhral tried to cover herself up a little. Again, her arm barely responded to her mental urging and she frowned. “Mubalt Stra.” It was a badly pronounced request to stay still in an archaïc Naga dialect. The woman pointed to herself and said: “Arog-ja” Which she obviously thought meant healer.
Presently, sound still felt like it came through a layer of wool and Messhral felt weak as a kitten so she sighed and remained still for a moment. Now that she was waking up, her brain kicked in. Where was she? How had she gotten here? More importantly, why was she so weak? Even her sigh had been barely audible. She drew upon her tail-stored reserves and managed to get some saliva going down her throat. At that moment a couple of sounds intruded. A Naga was slithering towards her accompanied by four feet wearing… sandals?
The self-proclaimed healer dipped a small gauzy piece of cloth into a jar and put the wet cloth into Messhral’s mouth. The fluid was water, but barely enough to wet her mouth. She knew this practice, if someone was dehydrated too much liquid at once could be disastrous. Still, it was slightly sweet and Messhral wanted more. The tent flap opened, she could hear the cloth as it rubbed against scales and legs.
“How is she Erlisafea?” Her healer shrugged. “She’s just come to and I managed to put a little moisture in. She also seemed to understand those words Erthimae taught me.” The man who had spoken walked around and appeared in her field of vision. “She did have some wounds from the shell breaking, but those have been taken care of. Her muscles are still weak though.” To illustrate this, Messhral found her tail lifted and dropped.
The Naga then slithered around as well and caused Messhral to twitch an eyebrow. Even if she could move, the contrivance on the woman’s head would have stopped her in her tracks. Some Naga did prefer to sleep with a hot water bottle, even she herself had happily snuggled up to two, yet to have one for a hat and dangle six from it by strings? Presently another round of moisture was given and the healer prattled something she didn’t understand.
“W-”Speaking was hard. “Who….are….you…people?” The effort sent her into a weak coughing fit that left her aching lungs gasping for air. The effect on the others in the tent was a sight to behold, they almost collapsed the tent in shock. “You can understand us?” Messhral nodded, or tried to. “I think that’s a nod. To answer your question, I’m Erien Meadlowry, commander in charge of this archaeological expedition. We found you in these ruins after… well something happened. Don’t think too much about it, but you are alive and safe. It will take some time for you to recover, but things look hopeful on that front.”He knelt besides her and touched her hand gently. “Please listen to our doctor and rest up. We can talk more when you are feeling better,”
Despite herself Messhral blushed and nodded. Over the next few days she gradually improved and finally managed to sit up and coil her tail by herself again. By then she wanted some answers, ones that Erlisafea was unwilling or unable to give so she asked for Erien to visit her. Instead Erthimae came. “I know you were not expecting me, but the commander will be along shortly… I just have to know how a Lamia could end up where we found you, stuck in an artifact from ancient times.”
Messhral hissed. “I do not know what that derogatory term means, but I am a Naga! Even if I am a freak with but two arms.” Erthimae raised an eyebrow. “O~kay… Well that’s a new one.” She busied herself with mixing powders for her ceremonial hookah and grinned when she lit it. Messhral sniffed and the vapour smelled of raspberries and liquor, an old favourite apparently as the mixing had been done without much thought in the selection. Presently Erien entered the tent again and raised an eyebrow at Erthimae.
“Curiosity and impatience, commander.” She grinned apologetically and coiled part of her tail into a seat for him. He thanked her and sat down. “The usual mix I see. So what have you two been talking about?” Erthimae blew out a twirling plume of vapour before she answered. “Nothing much yet, though this girl considers herself a Naga rather than a Lamia…” Erthimae scratched one pointed ear and then crushed a stingfly that had been attempting to drain her blood there.
Erien blinked. “So the mystery thickens…” He turned to Messhral and treated her to a gentle smile. “Our healers think that you have recovered quite well so far, though they do want to observe you for quite a bit longer. I understand that it has been an eventful time for you, but if you feel up to it I would like to ask you a few questions… If I may?” She nodded. “Sure, but I would like to ask a few as well of you. First though what the hell is a lamia?” She pointed an accusing finger at Erthimae. “Is that a new slur for two-armed Naga?”
Erien sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “No, it is the name of the species to which you would seem to belong.” He raised a hand. “But I will elaborate later. Your name is Messhral, correct?” She nodded. “You were attached to an artifact that our experts date to at least the Age of Marvels, aka the Age of Dreams. Are you from that time?” She shook her head before replying. “No, I am a ruins chaser. I found these ruins and the artifact… some time ago. I do not know how long ago exactly, but maybe a few years? My tail reserves were almost gone.”
She shrugged. “I thought it was a sensory stone and tried to use it, but in truth it was a magical storage device for the citizens of the city of Remusia from an age lost to memory.” She draped her tail over one shoulder and stroked it tenderly, the tip still tingled a little. “Essentially they angered some God or another and were wiped out, but they sought to preserve their culture and history through the Egg of Time.” A slightly peculiar sensation made her shift her coils a little. “It got damaged though, a crack in the glaze opened that slowly drained the magic holding things together. When I found it they offered to teach me what they could before the magic ran out, to hand me the key to Remusia’s rebirth.”
“It would take some time, so I agreed to use my body to seal the crack temporarily. Uggh though, but wonderful as the teaching was, I do not like feeling this sluggish and weak.” She burped softly. “Pardon. I need to ask you if you could send a message to my parents though, they must be worried sick.” She blushed and looked away as if embarrassed. “I see…” Erien glanced at Erthimae and the two exchanged a silent conversation. “Well, truth be told, we will try that for you naturally. But I do not know if it were just a few years you spent there.”
Erthimae nodded. “Given the amount of dust on you before the seal was broken…” She shrugged. “Do you recall what year it was when you last saw them?” Messhral thought for a moment and shifted again. Perhaps the unusual food that she had been fed was giving her gas or something, she hoped it wouldn’t go off from the rear while she was talking to these people. “Well, I was born just a year after that new doofus Demon Lord cast her spell… And I was nearly twenty at the time. I’d seen my parents about half a year before then.”
She giggled. “Saerti always dragging Piotr all across Praxis on her infinite trek. They adopted me and I’ll admit that it took some getting used to living with an Ureonggaksi and Incubus couple, but they are good people.” She then noticed the suddenly rictus-like expressions on the others. “Is something the matter?” She was getting increasingly worried and the sad expression both Erien and Erthimae turned on her did not help. “I’m sorry, but…” He seemed to be struggling, so Messhral became really anxious by then.
“I am afraid it has been considerably longer than that. Please try not to be too worried, but… Seretique vi Alloriel cast her spell well over four hundred and fifty years ago… And Saerti-” Messhral fainted. “That could have gone better commander. I’ll see if Erlisafea is still awake.” Erien hastily climbed to his feet as the Naga rushed out, her hookah ripping through the tent flap. “Even now, my feet find my mouth all too easily.” He bent down and checked her vital signs, that is when he also noticed a slight bulging in her belly and tail. “She… seems gravid?”
It was dawn before they got Messhral back to consciousness and she shrieked when she saw her body. “What have you done to me?! Where’s my mom!?!?” Erien tried to calm her down, but got slugged as she fled in panic. “Commander! Listen to me, don’t you dare die here!” He shook off Erlisafea’s ministrations and rose. Damn, but even weakened that girl had thrown a punch most human men would be envious of. “I’m alright, has anyone gone after her?” She nodded. “Dammit, send a runner after, she’s not to be harmed or engaged directly, just track her movements and prevent her from getting hurt.”
He turned with purpose. “What are you going to do commander?” He looked over his shoulder and answered: “Pray.” When Erien had accepted this commission he had insisted on bringing an Articulatory Relay Engine and a portable shrine. The Melissae that had outfitted them had combined these into a work of art that was somewhat portable. Eiraiha, Clover, Licci and Antimony held the magical orb up while little Aered sat on top of it, protectively hugged by his many cousins. The rest of the device was cleverly disguised as a diorama of Praxis. As he reached for it with the intent of contacting Clover, it started spinning and a musical voice lifted out of the device, singing a song for little children.
“Eihy?” Erien couldn’t suppress a smile as the Goddess answered. “Ooh, its uncle Erien, Aered. Hi Erien~! We just wanted to ask how everything was going before this big little guy goes to bed.” Erien chuckled. “Hi Aerdayasêr~!” His Celestial nephew crowed at the sound of a familiar voice. “Well, there’s a little situation going on Eihy and I was about to call Clover for advice and maybe some help. But since you called, could I ask you if Miho is with you?.” Eihy grumbled. “Erien, you know you can always ask me for help. Erhhh…. Miho’s in Mistburg today, but I can get her over to you in a jiffy. Right after my ootie-pootie-big-guy goes sleepies.” Erien smiled and bade them good night.
He still called Clover as his wife was the leader of all Mamonme as the Matrika Beluaine and would be miffed if he let her ‘little’ sister do all of her work. Clover closed the connection soon enough and then gated right next to him. Though now known as the Matrika, she still loved to let her breasts share his personal space even when they weren’t embracing. “Well here I am my darling, let’s do some good for this poor girl.” His smile was radiant as they clasped hands and set off into the ruins.