The Remnant Golem Part Nine

Chapter 8: Slimes and Soups.

Aira and Bab-Lin had trudged through the rising black snow for some time, beyond the clinging darkness awarth’s black and red maelstrom of a sky was dimming. The Deep Dark was coming. There was no day in awarth, but the deep dark was a heavier night that came after awarth’s night, when the reflection of Nanlach the pure moonfruit rose to prominence.

“Well, you would be able to keep on moving for quite a while, but some of us are made of weaker materials, we’ll set up camp. I may have been outside of time for a while, but that doesn’t mean I no longer need sleep or food”

Bab-Lin flung down the pack he had received from Udalwut, eyeing the bulging pack, he carefully extracted a frying pan, an adventurer’s staple.

“Could you set up the tent for me while I try to scrounge up some food kid?”

Aira nodded and began taking out the tent from the pack she had. As she hammered stakes into the ground she spoke.

“What was it like being severed from time?” Aira questioned.

Bab-Lin paused in his search for a bottle of oil, he despised cooking without some manner of oil.

“I said didn’t I? It wasn’t much of anything, one moment I was laughing in Fram’s face, the next I was laughing in front of you and him” He rummaged a bit more, he wasn’t sure what half the stuff in his pack was.

Something was bothering Aira, she remembered the feelings of betrayal, the hurt that had welled up in her shadows when Fram had told her the truth, but Bab-Lin seemed fine.

“You bear Fram no ill will for what he did?”

Bab-Lin triumphantly with both hands held up a bottle of purple oil, gravegrape oil, a kind of oil made from a plant that grew in graves abandoned by their owners. He turned his head to Aira, coughed and lowered the bottle of oil.

“Well, not really, I mean it didn’t really affect me that much, and besides, I’m not myself really any better. Worse in fact. Better that he had never done it of course, but he didn’t keep up the lie.”

“You consider him better than yourself?”

Bab-Lin stared into Aira’s crystaleyeball with his empty sockets, smoke roiling out.

“Yes. I do”

Aira then remembered that Bab-Lin had done something to end up bespelled the way he did.

“I’m sorry” she said.

“What for? For having a better opinion of me that I do myself? You don’t really know me, Kid. I mean I could just be following you only to get this spell broken”

Aira laughed.

“You can’t lie. You said you could be, but you can’t say that are. Thank you Bab-Lin. You confronted Fram for my sake didn’t you?”

Bab-Lin pulled the furry ruff of his jacket around his face, not that he could make any expressions of embarrassment on it.

“I-I’m going to try getting some food”

He clawed away black snow and then put an earhole to the ground, growing silent.

Aira was left to her thoughts as she finished putting up the tent.

She realised, that she now thought of things being wrong. Bab-Lin had done something wrong, and received punishment, Fram had done wrong too. She remembered the visions she saw in the mountain.

There was a lot of wrong in those.

She wondered why people did wrong, Fram had something to gain from doing wrong, but she couldn’t help but feel that wasn’t why he did it. Then it hit her. Weakness. Fram’s resolve for his city had weakened, and he had trapped her to make his dream come into reality quicker. She wondered if all wrong came about that way. She looked at Bab-Lin.

He was right. She didn’t know him, he had given her a name, and stood up for her, pledged to aid her, but she didn’t know him. She hadn’t been interested in what Bab-Lin had done to result in the fire that now burned in his throat.

Speaking of Bab-Lin he had risen from the ground and let out a great yell, striking the earth with his club-cane. The earth cracked loudly and flying upwards from the crack were a number of simmering black round wobbling semi-transparent blobs. Slimes! Bab-Lin caught them all in his pan.

Many an adventurer has been reduced to eating these jelly like beings. Apart from adventurers slimes formed a vital part of many food chains, namely a place right at the bottom being eaten by everything else. They understandably reproduced quite a bit, it was easier for slimes than for many other beings. They just had to grow big enough and then split in two.

This ease of reproduction along with them being willing to eat just about anything meant that in a number of places slimes were more common than rats or cockroaches. Slimes are also highly reactive to magic and the environment they live in, this of course results in some quite deadly breeds of slime. Most creatures don’t want to try eating slimes that live in volcanoes for example.

Now, as utterly defenceless as these slimes are, being only slightly larger than a gnome, some breeds are quite dangerous and there is the hazards of when slimes grow into huge sizes, often caused by getting large amounts of food in a very enclosed space. Many farmers have opened up their stores only to discover to their horror that the stores have been devoured and replaced with slime. The smart farmer would then get into selling slime produce, such as slime jelly and oils, while trying to avoid getting eaten by slime of course.

What struck Aira was how strangely cute they looked, sparkling and wobbling innocently devoid of features. It was possibly just that due to the gnomes she associated smallness with cuteness. She was just about to remark on this cuteness when Bab-Lin opened his mouth and vomited flame over them. The slimes died rather quickly losing form, becoming a kind of jellish slush in the pan.

Aira almost believed she heard little cries as they died.

“Couldn’t you have just eaten supplies from the pack” She weakly suggested.

Bab-Lin swooled the dead slimes around in the pan, oblivious to Aira’s thoughts.

“Better to keep supplies for when I can’t find something to scrounge up, don’t know how long we’ll be travelling, it’s what the monks taught me”

Aira discarded her thoughts about the cuteness of slimes, instead gamely pursuing this bit of information concerning Bab-Lin.


“Yeah, Monks, fell in with them after my trial and sentence” Bab-Lin stabbed his cane-club into the earth and scrabbled about at the crack that he had made.

“Travelling monks, worshippers of the aryaith Elanac, can’t say the goddess of the gate is who I’d choose to follow, I mean she’s got her hands full keeping Relhs closed right?, but hey they taught me quite a few useful tricks, hey you mind making a mana crystal for me?”

He pulled some bluish moss out of the crack and added it to the slime jelly in the pan.

“Not at all, if you do not worship Elanac, who do you worship?” Aira opened the door on her body.

“Well, used to worship Udratus” Bab-Lin picked up a clump of earth and tossed it inside Aira.

“You know, beauty, love, passion wealth! It was mostly the wealth part, but well, that didn’t end so well, now I’m wondering…”

Aira finished transforming the earth into a crystal and fished it out handing it to Bab-Lin.

He gazed into the crystal.

“You hear that some people don’t consider the aryaith gods, I mean you even hear about some aryaith that don’t even consider themselves gods, like Bouilm the Feaster, and then there is tell of aryaith that worship something themselves, so I guess I don’t know what I believe now. Your life falling apart will do that to a man”

Aira nodded. There was information on the aryaith in her, but she did not know if they were deities or not, she filed the matter away for future thought.

“How do you intend to cook with that?” she questioned, pointing at the vaguely brown crystal.

“A little trick I learned myself, never done it with a mana crystal before, but it should work”

Bab-Lin held the crystal over the top of his cane-club, he muttered something that Aira couldn’t quite catch and a tendril of shadow came out from his hollow body to flick the crystal. Then he let go of the crystal.

It remained in the air above the cane-club, gently spinning.

“Now for the fun part” Bab-Lin commented to Aira.

He spat flame and the crystal ignited in a massive whoosh of flame, Bab-Lin cried out, surprised by the size and power of the flame, he fell backwards.

Aira gave a tinkling giggle.

“You were right, that was fun”

Bab-Lin grumbled and sulked as he picked up the pan and began cooking his slime jelly and moss.

Bab-Lin didn’t speak again until after he had eaten and even then it was just to wish Aira a good night and to warn her to keep watch. As he went to sleep, Aira decided that for being such a smooth customer, he didn’t seem to cope that well when embarrassed.

As Aira began her vigil, she considered singing, but decided against it, reasoning that it’d be at odds with Bab-Lin trying to sleep. Instead she turned her mind to thoughts of the aryaith.

Wuidrin was among their number. Considered by many to be the God of Battle, the Bloodfather. The Champion of Whaichayl was a worshipper of him perhaps. That didn’t tell her much. The spear of Whaichayl. Who or what was Whaichayl. There was no aryaith of that name, nor was there one among the corrupt aryaith, the duath called that.

What knowledge she had of the aryaith gave no connection between Whaichayl and Wuidrin.

She mused for a time on the visions she had seen in the mountain, but they offered no new answers. She still did not know who Yullris was. Aira understood a little now, how Haorn must have felt, betrayed by his mistress. Aira wondered if Bab-Lin felt betrayed by Udratus, considering that he lost his wealth.

Aira was eventually jerked out of her thoughts by a ghastly cry. Somewhere between a scream and a howl and a gurgle.

Her magical sight spotted the source rather quickly. A dark red form, shaped a little like a wolf, but instead of a muzzle a mass of tentacles shifted about. The being seemed to have trouble keeping its form, almost becoming a puddle each time it moved.

Aira did not know what it was, but it was a gaarulf, a chlan spirit, a corrupt being formed from the shed blood of a great wolf. Such an ill being was not easily formed, and did not easily stay formed, but Awarth was a place that all spirits found easier to live in, both those of a foul nature and those of a fairer one.

These horrible spirits were said to feed on trust and make traitors out of loyal people. To even see a gaarulf was considered a chlan omen. Supposedly even if a gaarulf was foiled in its feeding, it still portended betrayal in the near future. Some have remarked that this is a strangely beneficial thing, as one could then prepare for betrayal. Others claim that such paranoia only breeds betrayal.

It was not clear how exactly gaarulves arise from the blood of slain great wolves, but most scholars agree that a the death would have to be a foul one indeed.

Aira knew none of this. She just saw the hound glare at her with sickly glowing yellow eyes, the mark of all chlanic beings. By those eyes filled with spite she knew the creature for the ill that it was.

She wasted no time in opening her pincer arm and firing bolts of shadow at the gaarulf. The spirit hissed in pain, and fled in short order. Gaarulf were not particularly known for their ferocity. Aira kept a more alert vigil for the rest of the night.

She saw no need to mention the night’s encounter to Bab-Lin.

They set off again, and set up camp a few more nights. Bab-Lin managed to find more slimes but a discovery of a den of teleporting black rabbits sustained him over the next few days, as after them he had little fortune in finding anything more than the odd inedible mirror tree. The rabbits had been quite hard to catch of course.

Aira only saw the gaarulf once more, but even then it left before she should even attack it. No other beast bothered them, perhaps spooked by the presence of the gaarulf, chlan spirit that it was.

So, in that manner, they reached the edge of the shadow city.

The first thing Aira noticed, was the labyrinth surrounding the city. The Labyrinth and the city were in a huge dish in the land as if some great hand had scooped out earth and planted the queerest viney plant of stone.

Making sure to keep a visual map of the place in her head from the view, she and Bab-Lin descended on the city.

Author: SnowyMystic