Arachnid Goddess 2

Strange mature journeys in the world of Xibalba

179. Grave Conscience

posted 16th Feb 2021, 7:05 AM

179. Grave Conscience
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16th Feb 2021, 7:05 AM

Chernobog

They watched him go reluctantly and looked to his things sitting on the stony ground.

"I'll package up his javelins, they'll be easier to transport- unless someone is planning to use them?" asked Metis. No one gave any affirmation, so she took it as a task.

"Same for the boots. Anyone?" Ishmael stated, not sure if anyone could wear his size. Again, no takers.

While they wrapped up his belongings for the road, Ishmael slowed down and sighed. "So... I may be completely out of line saying this, and I know it's not something anyone wants to hear..."

Karolina looked up curiously at her from the beads she was now wearing. "Go on."

Ishmael held a pregnant pause. "There is... a possibility that Tulsan isn't coming back."

"Come on, we already went over that. He said he would," huffed Rottkap.

"No, no... I mean... urgh..." Ishmael stammered, looking very uncomfortable. "He told us that. He doesn't want us to worry or think about what he's going to do."

"And?" Rottkap and Karolina looked on puzzled.

Ishmael looked to his now webbed up boots. "I don't know if anyone here is aware, but sometimes... just... sometimes... people give away their stuff when they're not going to be around much longer."

The area suddenly became very quiet. Even Metis and Siouxsie gazed up at the Death Clan woman.

"Look, you all know him far better than I do by a large deal, so like I said, I'm probably speaking out of turn here. I don't know what he's really capable of, but I doubt Brand was lying about what sounds like a Horde of geists over there. He dropped off his weapons, his good shoes, and Bali-la's pendant, I believe?"

"What are you saying, Ish?" Karolina asked, feeling uneasy.

"He's basically going off on a suicide mission, Kara. I think there's the possibility he knows he's not going to be able to do much, especially with just a set of knuckles as his only weapon. In other words, there is the chance that he knows he's going to die. What he said before could be simple placating so we don't risk ourselves. He seemed pretty focused on Uluru until just now, right? Tulsan is quite possibly going off to die and he left us his things, in case we can use them. Or to remember him by."

"That's... that's ghoulish, Ishmael!" Rottkap shouted, stomping her foot. "He would never do that! Mister Tulsan is very tough, very strong! He's a survivor! I've seen him fight! He would never just go off to a hopeless-"

She found the spider woman staring at her, which gave her a moment of confused pause. It wasn't a look of condemnation, but sadness.

"He has family there, Rottkap. We all heard it. For some people, a family is everything. Do you know what it means to have that?"

Rottkap looked on blankly and then rubbed her arm. "Well... uh, no. I guess I don't." Karolina, meanwhile, cast a sad gaze down and sighed. Her familiar merely stared into the distance, lost in thought. In the end, they were mainly all they had. And one of theirs was leaving, perhaps to never come back by intention. Maybe Tulsan, under his rigid exterior, knew what was going down, and couldn't abandon his own kin for any reason. As much as he had come to like Karolina's team, his family had to precede their bond.

As for Siouxsie? The zombie shook with intense horror, gripping her mouth shut. As no one expected her to say anything, her reaction wasn't noticed. What she learned about her role in things from the Mimi helping to jog her memory left her disturbed and guilt-ridden. And the legacy of things was still unfolding.

Welling with emotions inside, she shook her head with a growl, and suddenly bolted back the way they came. The team looked on with complete surprise.

"Wha- what? Siouxsie, where are you going?!" Karolina exclaimed.

"Siouxsie will keep him safe! Bring him back! Protect friend Tulsan's family!" the zombie howled.

"Siouxsie?? Come back! It's dangerous and he's already got a head start!"

"Siouxsie not tire out! Siouxsie catch up!" the zombie screamed, getting further away with surprising alacrity of her own. "HAVE TO GO AFTER-! YOU CONTINUE! SIOUXSIE MAKE NO MORE DEAD PEOPLE!"

They were stunned. Where did this come from?

"Master, should we chase her down?" Metis asked of Karolina. The witch watched the zombie rapidly vanish into the shadows. "Nrnnn... no. No, let her go."

"Kara, is this wise?" Rottkap questioned. "Siouxsie probably can't be alone..."

Karolina continued to watch the darkness, hearing the distant clatter of shoes and claws on the ground. "I know, but... this was different. She almost never shows motivation or independent drive like this. I don't actually control her, you realize. She's single-minded, but she's her own person too. And I think something got to her after our visit to the Mimi... she's been acting odd for the time I've seen her. I just don't know what about. And, I think she can actually catch up to Tulsan. He might be fast, but he's going to stop to catch his breath most likely. I don't think she needs to. In fairness, she might be the only other person here who can at least keep pace with him in the long run as a result. If she does catch up, well... maybe it'll remind Tulsan that we're his family too. I don't know, I'm just muttering out loud here."

Ishmael bowed her head. "Maybe I shouldn't have said anything... I feel responsible for this. I'm sorry. I honestly didn't think it would set her off like that."

Karolina came over to her companion and stroked her cheek. Ishmael was surprised to see Karolina approach her out of her earlier funk. "I know you didn't mean anything wrong by that and there was no way to know. It was just speculation. But I honestly hope you were wrong."

Ishmael softened, holding the witch's hand to her face. "I hope I am, too," she said in earnest. "Thank you."

"Everyone?" Karolina announced. "We need to have faith in them. Faith that they'll get through this and faith that they'll come back. As for now, we're going to continue on. It's what they both asked of us."

"Okay..." Rottkap nodded, still feeling a bit sad. The rest agreed, and the trek to Uluru continued, with the hopes that Tulsan and Siouxsie would come back safely as soon as they could.

Only one thing troubled Karolina quietly. 'Siouxsie make no more dead people'. What did that mean? Just some poorly thought out saying, in the heat of emotion? Outside of the Karahydra encounter, who did Siouxsie ever even get a chance to hurt, let alone kill? It made no sense.

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